Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Book Blast: In Defense of the Queen by Michelle Diener

Bookblast with Prism Book Tours

Adventure, intrigues and assassins, a wild ride against time. Historical fiction with a flair is what Diener does best! - Nocturnal Book Reviews
In Defense of the Queen (Susanna Horenbout & John Parker, #3)

In Defense of the Queen

by Michelle Diener

An artist never betrays her patron . . . especially one of the world's most powerful kings.

Susanna Horenbout has learned this lesson from the cradle. But when she receives a letter from her father telling her to do just that, she faces a dilemma. Betray Henry VIII, or carry out the request of her father’s employer, Margaret of Austria, and pass secret information to Henry’s queen, Katherine of Aragon.

Caught between the machinations of her husband and her nephew, the Emperor Charles, Queen Katherine needs all the allies she can get. But what can Susanna really do to help her, and even if she does, will it be enough?

Susanna and her betrothed, Parker——one of Henry's most trusted courtiers——balance on the knife’s edge of treason as they try to make sense of both international and domestic conspiracies. Sometimes, it's better the enemy you know . . .

Praise for the previous books:

With its richly detailed historical setting and intrigue-filled plot, “In a Treacherous Court” is simply irresistible. Chicago Tribune

“Awesome! History woven flawlessly into riveting fiction.” - Tammy J. Schneider (Special Features Editor and book reviewer at Affaire de Coeur Magazine)

“Just when readers think there is nothing new to be learned about Henry VIII, debut author Diener delivers a taut suspense . . . that will keep you turning the pages.” - Kathe Robin (4 star review in RT Magazine August 2011 issue)

Diener’s writing style is beautiful, to the point, vivid and exciting. This author is one to watch if you love the likes of Philippa Gregory or Anne Easter Smith. The characters are going to hook you first, and the intrigue will keep you turning the pages. - Reader’s Entertainment

Keeper offers a compelling, page-turning mystery packed with unexpected twists and turns, solid prose, always-fascinating court intrigue, and a unique story that feels like a classic mystery wrapped in a Tudor setting. - Book Addict Diary

Michelle DienerMichelle Diener writes historical fiction. Her Susanna Horenbout and John Parker series starts with IN A TREACHEROUS COURT. Set in the court of Henry VIII, it features the real historical figures of artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King’s Robes, John Parker. It was followed by KEEPER OF THE KING'S SECRETS, also featuring Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, and DANGEROUS SANCTUARY, a short story with the same characters, set between the two books, is currently available as an ebook only.

THE EMPEROR'S CONSPIRACY, set during the Napoleonic Wars in London in 1811, was released on November 27th, 2012.

DAUGHTER OF THE SKY, set at the outbreak of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, was released on March 1st, 2013.

Michelle also contributed a short paranormal story to the ENTANGLED Anthology entitled BREAKING OUT. All the proceeds of the sale of ENTANGLED go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Michelle grew up in South Africa, and now lives in Australia with her husband and two children.

Magical Musings blog

On SALE for $.99 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble:


* $50 Amazon Gift Card.

* 2 Print copy sets of In a Treacherous Court, Keeper of the King's Secrets & In Defense of the Queen. USA, Canada & UK only.

* 10 eCopies of In Defense of the Queen. International. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What Were They Looking For?

These are perhaps not as funny as last month's, but here we go. Now, this one made me chuckle...

There are so many of those in real life, I dunno why anyone would look them up online...

Hum. Man in love woman naked. More sexual perversion. Does she have to be naked for him to love her? *snort*

And I think...someone was looking to pirate. the spy wore red chapter by chapter...

Sorry, we don't do that here. No pirating! Go buy the book! Actually that one is an oldie but goodie. You can get it at the library.

Frankly, I'm a tad pleased to see someone out there is seeking a "normal" woman, as opposed to the two looking for big tit pictures. *smh*

This one is self-explanatory. I don't think I need to add commentary.

I like this one. :D

This one below is a tad offensive...but I laughed for ten minutes. I have no idea who Amanda Romero is, but...she apparently has a fan base. Oye. And the pig...who knows.

And here...hum. Do you think someone was looking for some writing advice? How to write a sex scene?

The word TWAD...I had to look that up. Hey, this feature comes in handy. I was forced to learn a new word!!! I found it in the urban dictionary. It says: 

A person (usually male) who is:
Usually wears spectacles

*looks in mirror to check chin.* It's there.

Anyone who carry on a reasonable conversation or who rambles on and on with meaningless twaddle (twittle-twattle).

"Did you hear those two twads over there talking about the View." Or, "Sasha's boyfriend has such dreamy blue eyes, but as soon as he opens his mouth they fade to gray -- he's such a twad!"

I hope this doesn't make me a TWAD, considering they found my blog using that word...but I guess I do sorta ramble...and talk a lot...and type more and more...and....

What crazy terms are popping up on your dashboards?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Conditions are Favorable by Tara Staley

Conditions are FavorableThis is a book that's going to be a hard one to follow. I don't think I'll be able to immediately get lost in another time and place and story. This one is the type of tale that after you read the last page, you must savor it for a while.

This is the story of so many things...of how the impossible is actually possible with persistence, of repairing what's broken--even if it's yourself, of moving on and leaving the past in the past, of how those with Asperger's are so misjudged and misunderstood. And it's the story of Wilbur and Orville's time on Kitty Hawk.

The book mostly follows a young girl--Madeline. She steals the show. Yea, the first flight is a huge deal, but this girl just steals the show. She's unmarried--unusual for the time--and bitter about it, but she doesn't want some stinky coarse sailor. She wants a gentleman. She's forced to be independent and stand her ground. She's spunky, humorous, realistic with flaws and all (there's some depression and substance abuse), caring, and though she's not without fear, she faces them every time.

She falls for Orville--or perhaps, the idea of him, of a gentleman. (That's another theme...Are you in love with the person or in love with the idea of being in love?)

But as she says, Orville is married to his brother, and she can't compete with the desire to be the first to fly. He won't be distracted from his goal.

It's also at times, incredibly funny. The town and its people will having you rolling on the floor laughing. Madeline herself...her thoughts...are humorous.

"He even looks like a bird. And those big ears! If he wants to fly, all he needs to do is learn to flap those things."

"All I hear now is the dog sniffling under the table. Spot sniffs so hard, I imagine those crumbs going up his nose rather than inside his mouth."

"If you drink enough water, you don't know you're hungry."
"But if you drink enough beer, you don't know you're thirsty."

I don't know the first thing about Aspergers's, but after reading this, I feel like I understand the affliction and why those afflicted behave the way they do. Ms. Staley managed to educate me while at the same time entertain me. I have a newfound respect for those who suffer from this. At first I thought Orville was a bit weird...and I had a hard time warming to him, but then the book began to reveal stuff to us. Fear of rejection. Stick with what you're good at...and I understood. I never did warm to his brother Wilbur though. Now that guy just plain irritated me.

I loved Madeline. I loved how she "adopted" a boy, how she stuck up for him when he was bullied, how she dressed as a boy to see Orville, how she carried around a Remington...the list would be endless. I loved the scene with blueberry pie...the tarlike gum. Even the townsfolk grew on me. I was sad when someone died, laughed when they sang ditties.

Quibble: The narrative was tough to follow at times, disjointed. I suspect this was done on purpose though, especially when it was Orville's scenes/thoughts. There were also some instances I didn't know what it was saying--that could be my own ignorance. I had to read some bits over and over again. Also irritating was the word gentle-men and gentle-man. Never seen that hyphenated before and every time I hit one, it was like stumbling while walking.

"Ladies are like elephants. I like looking at them, but I wouldn't necessarily want one."

Monday, July 29, 2013

Lacey Wolfe's Perfect MALE Order Bride

The lovely Tara has presented me with a great topic. What qualities would I look for if I were to order a man bride…groom.

Well he’d have to be easy to look at. If I’m gonna order my own man, he’s going to have one of those chests you see on the internet and think Man, he really works out!

I like men with dark hair, so I’d probably want that with a tad bit of facial hair. Not a lot, just a 5 o’clock shadow.

Next up I’d like him to have an accent. Not a bad one that makes you cringe, but a sexy Latino one maybe. I’ve always liked an English man as well.

I’d like to say he needs to be rich since this is a fantasy and all, but chances are if I’m ordering him, he’s broke.

Wanted: WifeSo let’s go with funny. I want him to make me smile all day. When he sees me down, he’ll always have something clever to say to give me a pick up.

And most of all, I want him to love me! And I mean love me! Never want me out of his sight type of love. Spoil me rotten the way authors write men in books. The romance will never die, even when I put on a little extra weight after the kids. I’ll still be the light of his life.

So now that I’ve shared my wants if I were to order me a man online, tell me yours.

About Wanted: Wife
Help Wanted: A Wife

Darcy White can't believe she's answering a help wanted ad from someone looking to hire a wife, but she's hit rock bottom and is on the verge of being evicted from her apartment. When she learns that the guy she had a crush on in high school is the one looking to hire, she'd be crazy not to live out her fantasy.

Steven McDonald needs a wife, or at least a fiancée, before his grandfather retires or else he won't inherit the family business. He knows not just any woman will do, and in a desperate attempt to find a solution, he places a help wanted ad in the local paper. The day Darcy White answers it, his dreams begin to come true.

As Darcy and Steven pretend they're engaged, they make a promise to keep things platonic. But the more time they spend together, the harder it is to keep their hands off one another. With his grandfather's retirement approaching, and the possible end to their fake engagement, can Steven and Darcy admit their feelings to not only themselves but each other?

Content Warning: contains adult language and sensual love scenes

"I'm making coffee, want any?" Darcy called from the kitchen.

As Steven entered the kitchen he said, "I'd love a cup."

Steven leaned against the counter. Darcy poured water into the coffee maker and then scooped the coffee in. After she pressed the brew button, she turned and stared back at him.

"That wasn't so bad," he said.

She nodded. "Yeah, it was okay."

Steven laughed. "Your parents were kind." He reached his hand out toward her.

Darcy walked to him, taking his hand.

"Your dad gave us his blessing."

"I had no doubt he would. Your family is well known."

Steven wasn't sure what had come over him, maybe it was the scotch he'd shared with her dad, but he couldn't resist the beautiful woman in front of him. He tugged her to him, and her body molded against his perfectly. With his free hand, he pushed her hair behind her ear and then pressed his lips to hers. He expected resistance from her, but she opened up right away, wanting the kiss as much as he did.

Sliding his hand around her neck, he tilted her head so he could deepen the kiss. Her fingers danced around his waist and the little sensation went straight to his groin. Releasing her hand, he gripped her waist and pulled her into him. He was hard and it pressed into her and she didn't seem to mind. Damn this woman! She should be pushing away from him, reminding him they were to stay friends, but instead he kept hoping her hand would find its way lower.

Could they do this once and then pretend it never happened? His erection was telling him yes, but his brain was telling him no. He started to pull away from the kiss, but Darcy wouldn't let him.

God, he was turned on and wanted to touch her, taste her, explore her. He needed her!

"Stop, Darcy." He pushed her off him.

She stepped back, a shocked look on her face.

"I can't control myself. I want to take you to bed so bad."

"I want that too." She moved closer to him again and wrapped her arm around his neck and let her other hand dangle at his waistband. "Can't we have a little fun?"

Do it or not? Yes or no? His core ached and taunted him. Taking a deep breath, he decided to listen to the head below.
He lifted Darcy up and sat her on the counter. His lips were everywhere. Her neck, collarbone. His hands were greedy as they worked the buttons on her blouse. "Stop me now, Darcy."

She gazed into his eyes and then cupped his erection through his pants. "No."

"No turning back?"

"No turning back."

About Lacey Wolfe
Lacey Wolfe has always had a passion for words, whether it’s getting lost in a book or writing her own. From the time she was a child she would slip away to write short stories about people she knew and fantasies she wished would happen. It has always been her dream to be a published author and with her two children now of school age, she finally has the time to work on making her dream come true.

Lacey lives in Georgia with her husband, son and daughter, their six cats and one black lab who rules the house.

You can find Lacey at the following places:
Website / Facebook / Facebook Page / Twitter

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Honeymoon in Paris by Jojo Moyes

I see so many people complaining nowadays about stories being too short. But I must say...I fail to see what they're griping about when sometimes a short story has all that you need and then some.

Like this one.

It's one of those multi-time stories. There's a modern-day story and a story a hundred years before, both involving newly weds honeymooning in Paris. Each wife is confused and miserable due to some misunderstanding. Through a painting, their stories connect.

There's a moral here: too often we create problems that don't really exist and make things worse in the process. We must also be careful who we give the  power to influence us and in turn, make us miserable.

This short story had everything a story needs: romance, moral, humor (Totally LOL'd during the historical bar scene), and suspense. I honestly wasn't sure what was going to become of these couples. I already wanted to read Ms. Moyes's The Girl You Left Behind, but now I just want to read it even more.

I obtained this via netgalley.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

My Ever-Growing TBR Pile 7/27/2013 (Some of these are FREE)

Sultana: Two SistersJust released and looking forward to as I enjoyed the first two in the series, Lisa J. Yarde's Sultana: Two Sisters. With each book, she transports me to Moorish Spain and the Sultana's strong legacy. ****The first two books in this series are FREE right now. Merely head over to Amazon and search Lisa J. Yarde.)

Once bound by a deep friendship, both are taken captive and sold into the harem of Sultan Yusuf I of Granada. A young girl with a hidden heritage, Esperanza Peralta, forges a new identity as Butayna, Yusuf's lover. She becomes the mother of his firstborn and his first wife. The Jewess Miriam Alubel takes the name Maryam and bears Yusuf several children. She aligns her interest with those of Yusuf's mother, whose devilish schemes alter more than her son's future. Butayna finds a strong ally in Yusuf's sister Leila, her former mistress, but not even Leila can direct the course of the future. The clash between former friends is inevitable, as each finds diverging paths in a dizzying rise to power beside their husband. Both remain aware of the struggle ahead of them, for only one heir may inherit Yusuf's throne and only one woman can claim the revered title of Mother of the Sultan.

The Sword Dancer (Tang Dynasty, #4)Another author I've read before and enjoyed...I don't know how I missed the release of this one, but I did, and it's on my wishlist now, Jeannie Lin's The Sword Dancer.

Sword dancer Li Feng is used to living life on the edge of the law—a woman alone in the dangerous world of the Tang Dynasty has only her whirlwind reflexes to trust. She will discover the truth about her past, even if that means outwitting the most feared thief-catcher of them all...

Relentless, handsome and determined, Han sees life—and love—as black and white. Until he finally captures the spirited, courageous Li Feng, who makes him question everything he thought he knew about right and wrong. Soon he's faced with an impossible choice: betray the elusive sword dancer he is learning to love, or trust his long-disregarded heart and follow her to dangerous, tempting rebellion...

In Defense of the Queen (Susanna Horenbout & John Parker, #3)Michelle Diener's In Defense of the Queen. I did not read the first two, but the blurb says we don't have to. I'm on top of this one because ever since I read her Daughter of the Sky, I've been eager to read her next book. Going to get my hands on this one. I'm also participating in her blog tour. :)

An artist never betrays her patron . . . especially one of the world's most powerful kings.

Susanna Horenbout has learned this lesson from the cradle. But when she receives a letter from her father telling her to do just that, she faces a dilemma. Betray Henry VIII, or carry out the request of her father’s employer, Margaret of Austria, and pass secret information to Henry’s queen, Katherine of Aragon.

Caught between the machinations of her husband and her nephew, the Emperor Charles, Queen Katherine needs all the allies she can get. But what can Susanna really do to help her, and even if she does, will it be enough?

Susanna and her betrothed, Parker——one of Henry's most trusted courtiers——balance on the knife’s edge of treason as they try to make sense of both international and domestic conspiracies. Sometimes, it's better the enemy you know . . .

She Who DaresSpotted on netgalley and dying to read because it's a woman mechanic and old cars!!! She Who Dares (LOVE THAT TITLE. That screams strong woman) by Jane O'Reilly.

The Ugly Duckling meets Top Gear when a plain Jane mechanic comes face-to-face with the bad boy of rally racing...

Nic Sinclair spends most of her time hiding under the bonnet of a car. With her obsession with engines, a total lack of feminine wiles, and a stepsister who looks like Barbie, she understands that it’s the safest place to be.

But when Nic’s stepsister sells her half of their vintage car business and does a runner, Nic is forced to set down her wrench and deal with the fallout. Soon she’s engaged in a battle of wills with her new business partner, superstar rally driver Sebastian Prince — a battle he dares her to win.

Gunpowder Tea (The Brides Of Last Chance Ranch #3)I was sold on this title as soon as I spotted it on Netgalley. A woman Pinkerton agent!!! Need I say more? Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley.

In a case that could change her career, Miranda uncovers a love that will change her life.

When Miranda Hunt sees the classified ad for an heiress to the legendary Last Chance Ranch, she knows assuming the identity of Annie Beckman is the perfect cover. As one of the finest agents for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Miranda has been tasked with apprehending the Phantom – an elusive and notorious train robber thought to be hiding on the sprawling ranch.

But she isn’t the only one there with something to hide. Wells Fargo detective Jeremy Taggert is working the scene undercover as well. And although their true identities are a secret, it is impossible for Jeremy and Miranda to hide the spark that flares between them.

Freedom's EmbraceThis just sounds good and I love EC's BLUSH line. This is a historical romance and I found it while browsing the Coming Soon list on their website. Freedom's Embrace by Kianna Alexander. It's on my wishlist.

Jonathan is the only doctor within several days’ ride of Graham, Pennsylvania, and he’s desperate for a nurse to assist him. His salvation comes in the form of Naomi, a runaway slave who shows up ill on his doorstep. When she agrees to be his nurse in exchange for treatment, his world lights up.

Unfortunately, not everyone in town approves of Jonathan’s new nurse. His mother and some of his patients express their distaste, but she’s captured Jonathan’s heart, and he’ll defend her at any cost.

When Naomi’s former master rides into town, Jonathan discovers just how far he’ll go to keep the woman he loves from being torn from his arms, and from freedom’s embrace.

AnastasiaKindle freebie. (Still free today, 7/27) I've read this guy before and have faith it will be a decent read...Colin Falconer's Anastasia.

When American journalist Michael Sheridan jumps into the Whangpoa River to save a woman he met in one of Shanghai's taxi clubs, his life is changed irrevocably. A Russian refugee, Anastasia Romanov bears an extraordinary resemblance to the princess of the same name, who was rumored to have survived the brutal murder of her family at the hands of Bolshevik revolutionaries.

The fate of the youngest daughter of the last Russian Czar has become one of the most talked-about mysteries of the time. But Michael's Anastasia is suffering from amnesia and remembers little of her life before Shanghai.

Unraveling the mystery of Anastasia's identity and past takes them both from the streets of Shanghai to the decadence of pre-war Berlin and London, from Bolshevik Russia to New York just before the Wall Street crash. Michael is the only man who has ever helped Anastasia without wanting something in return - but can she give up the chance to be a princess for true love?

And here are three titles that are STILL FREE as of 7/27. I'm adding them here at the last minute so you can go download them as well.

The Shipwreck by Glynnis Campbell. I like the idea she is taking him captive. What a pleasant change from all this crap featuring men keeping women captive.

The ShipwreckWhen his wife and children die, Viking marauder Brandr has nothing left to live for, so he sails away on one final voyage. A storm at sea leaves him shipwrecked, alone, and barely alive on a foreign coastline. Along the Pictish shore, Avril, a warrior maid and the victim of a Viking berserker, banished from her ancestral home of Rivenloch to a seaside cottage, dreams of the day she’ll raise her sword, take back the castle that is rightfully hers, and find her half-Viking daughter a proper father. Discovering a broad-shouldered, fair-haired, broken castaway washed up on her beach among the wreckage of his longship, she takes him captive and binds him in chains. She refuses to be a Viking’s victim again...never imagining that soon her fiercest enemy will earn her trust, invade her heart, and enthrall her senses.

Cuban Sun (Sofia Koury, #1) by Ann Bauer, Bryn Bauer. The title caught my eye. I love stories that take place on the Latin islands.

Cuban Sun (Sofia Koury, #1)Thirty one year old Law student Sofia Koury thought she found a refuge from memories of her mother's suicide and life with her controlling father. But when her mentor Alexander Quintis proposes her for an internship on his colleague's yacht, events move into dangerous waters.

At first excited by the prospect of fieldwork, the attacks onboard make Sofia realize that someone she trusts is not as they seem. Caught in the whirlpool of antique cars, surveillance and defense training, Sofia struggles to uncover the deception ahead.

She must now rely on intuition and lessons from her painful past to complete her assignment and say alive. Sofia faces the challenge of her life navigating a budding relationship, self-discovery and uncertain future all under the sultry Cuban Sun.

Something very different: Fallen Far from the Tree by Lilith Giardini. The idea of a commune that strengthens women and weakens men...oh hell yeah.

Fallen Far from the TreeDisheartened with her advertising job, Eve Breitner, does just that when she moves to a rural intentional community in North Carolina to share idealism and property. Soon she wonders if the nobility of this ecological, egalitarian goal will offset the hardship of living below the poverty level. While Eve loves her country jobs, can she make the adjustment to be so radical? The community works to toughen the women and soften the men. Sexism is turned on its head with aggressive feminism. Then Eve meets Paolo, an Italian political radical who is fed up with sharing and softening. He courts Eve and forces her into a decision between a monogamist relationship with him or living with this alternative society. How far will Eve stray from the past she knows while exploring new paths? Fallen Far from the Tree shares Eve's adventure as she searches for relevance and love in her life.

What new books hit YOUR TBR that you're really excited about?

Courage: It's Not Just Jumping out of Airplanes

I have a friend who likes to sky dive. I have a husband who doesn't smile unless he's driving a race car around the Nascar track in Vegas (The Richard Petty thing) or riding his motorcycle down the highway or throwing himself down mountains on his mountain bike. I have friends who in the summer go boating every single day off.

I do none of these things. 1. My ears don't pop. 2. Regarding cars and bikes of every sort, I've had my share of accidents and frankly, I'm tired of throwing my back out and misplacing ribs and having high insurance. 3. Water sports just honestly don't do anything for me. The wind, the rough ride, eh.

From these types of people, I'm constantly asked, "What do you do? Don't you do anything but read?" And as a less polite person said to me once, "You're so gutless, I don't see how you get out of bed in the morning."

Let me keep this brief: 

The guy with speech you not think it takes courage to speak in front of a group of people?

The person in the wheelchair whose limbs are a bit twisted, do you think he LIKES to be stared and gawked at? Tell me it doesn't take courage to wheel around like that in the grocery store.

The girl who grew up hearing impaired, who was laughed at and made fun of every day...who when she told people she couldn't hear, the you-know-what would hit the fan and she'd be out of job, called a retard, or something you think that it takes some courage for her to go out and deal with people, talk to them face-to-face (hoping she can understand them) and tell them, "I'm sorry, but I can't hear"?

The woman with a learning disability who's so used to being told she's dumb, does it not take great courage to stick her chin up, grab her books, and go to college, fully prepared for her classmates to sneer at her?

So, yea, you throw yourself out of an airplane and dang, that's gutsy. I can't do it. But it's important for everyone to remember...bravery and courage comes in many forms. I'd like to part with that age-old saying..."Until you've walked in my shoes..." something courageous today.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Primetime Princess by Lindy DeKoven

Primetime PrincessI absolutely love this book. It's an incredible mixture of real life, drama, sexual harassment in the work place, the plight of women today, romance, and a woman torn between career and love.

Having recently watched a documentary that talked about how despite the fact the population of the U.S. is OVER 50% women, the percentage of women in politics is less than 17 and the number of women having a say in what goes on television is even smaller, I wasn't one bit surprised by the content in this novel. I mean, in a country over half women, who is representing them?

I thought the aviation industry was bad...In male-dominated professions, women are harassed and bombarded with inappropriate jokes and comments all day long. The television industry is even worse.

Alexis has been working her tail off and turning the other cheek at HBS industries for years. Suddenly, she's a victim of the Good Old Boys' System. She has to compete with the most appalling man and her former employer for a president's position...or risk working for him again--and little flashbacks show us just how bad it is to work for Jerry.

But then her job takes over her seems it's okay for men to let this happen, but not women.

The story is heart breaking, insightful, humorous, frustrating...I went through every emotion imaginable in its 336 pages. I laughed, screamed, cussed, and cried.

Through her coworkers, we see the other forms of sexual harassment that go on. Men looking for affairs. Men ridiculing women. Men peeing and not closing the door. Behind the scenes drama regarding what's appropriate on TV. We see men who think they know what women want and don't have the first darn clue.

The romance was a really small part, but that story helped show us what happens when a job and/or a thirst for revenge consumes one to the point, they become incredibly selfish and self-absorbed...and lose it all.

I found this book really impacting and I'll never look at TV the same way again. Bit thumbs up to the author for handling this subject in an entertaining, yet thought-evoking manner.

The ending: LOVE it. It left me slightly hanging in a way I hope there's a sequel, but I LOVE it.

"Managers hire mirror images of themselves. It's why men keep hiring men. It's why there are more of them and fewer of us at the top. We don't get those opportunities. Men hire women to work for them. But not necessarily with them."

This was a Vine book.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Strong is Sexy Heroine of the Week: Estelle Stonebridge

Book: Paradise Island
Author: Charmaine Ross
Heroine: Captain Estelle Stonebridge

Estelle thinks she’s been wronged. (And she has.) But she’s blamed the wrong person. My hero, Captain Gregory Marshall is a Captain of the Royal Navy and he needs a strong woman to stand up to him. He’s used to a world of the ocean and hard men, and has worked hard to get where he has. He simply wouldn’t fall in love with a quiet woman.

That’s where Estelle comes in. She had her father, her home and her life ripped away from her when she was fourteen years old. She’s learnt to defend herself. She’s trained a special ‘gift’ which she uses on men who are out to harm her. She has a home named Paradise Island, a refuge where she takes the poor souls she has rescued from the hands of brutal men on the high seas.

In the process she’s made an enemy – Captain Jack Cutlass. She has to be strong to fight him, save Captain Gregory Marshall and unwrap the heart she has carefully cocooned from the world.

Paradise Island

It is Dartmouth Cove, Nova Scotia, 1853 and Captain Estelle Stonebridge is consumed with revenge against the man that killed her father. Captain Gregory Marshall is lulled to sleep by the fiery-haired valkrie’s magical song when she kidnaps him. Upon waking he finds himself in chains staring at the beautiful Estelle. Estelle is taking him to her Island of Paradise to face trial for a murder he didn't commit.

Attacked by the notorious pirate, Jack Cutlass, and magically appearing in a land they know nothing about, Estelle soon realizes there is more at stake than fighting her arch enemy. With the unsettling notion that there is something otherworldly manipulating them all, Estelle is torn between taking Gregory with her to Paradise, battling her powerful attraction to him, and fighting the magical curse —Amor Fati—that Cutlass has unleashed on the world.

As Estelle and Gregory work together, albeit begrudgingly at first, and are drawn closer to the evil source, the battle intensifies as an evil power takes over minds of many men and eventually Estelle herself. Estelle must use her magical gift to defeat the terrible power that is close to being unleashed on the world, overcome her deep mistrust of men, and realize her powerful love for Gregory.

Learn more about Charmaine Ross at



Are you an author with a strong heroine in your book? Want to see her featured? Find out how here.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: A Missing Peace by Beth Fred

Coming in September...

A turbulent, emotionally charged YA novel that breaks down barriers and challenges the status quo...

Angry, seventeen-year-old Iraqi war refugee Mirriam Yohanna hates her new life in Killeen, Texas, where the main attraction is a military base, populated with spoiled army brats like Caleb Miller.

Caleb has much to be angry about too, including Mirriam who turns him down flat in front of everyone. Eager for retribution, Caleb agrees to a dare that will see him take Mirriam to the prom and regain his pride. But their relationship soon moves beyond high school antics. Mirriam and Caleb are bound together by more than location, and as they are forced to work closely together on a school assignment, they start to uncover an explosive story that has the potential to ruin lives — and both of their futures. One single truth changes everything and strengthens their bond.

When Mirriam's family discovers their relationship, they decide it's time to arrange her marriage to a proper Iraqi man. Caleb must convince Mirriam that he is in it for forever — or risk losing her for good.

Meet Beth Fred! 
That's me! I'm a full time keeper of the ELF and part time writer/blogger/writing instructor. I'm represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyons Literary Agency. I like my tea hot, my romance sweet, and my guys chivalrous. Real men hold open doors, refer to you as ma'am, make promises they keep, and aren't afraid to profess their undying love. It's not breakfast if there aren't carbs (at least, not in the South). Fajitas, carnitas, and churros are just few of my favorite things. Bet you can't guess where I'm from ;) Wanna know more about me? You can find that here:

Email me: bethfred08(at)


Tweet me: bethfred08

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Drowning Guard: A Novel of the Ottoman Empire by Linda Lafferty

The Drowning Guard: A Novel of the Ottoman EmpireExtremely pleased with this book. It's 1001 Nights but with a woman responsible for the deaths of her lovers--a white Christian male nearly every night. As the Sultan's favorite sister, any man who beds her is forbidden to live. Her drowning guard takes care of the dirty deed...and because of his knowledge, when struck with illness, he becomes her confessor.

It's a twisted and fascinating tale with dashes of feminism and female empowerment in an otherwise oppressed world. It's rich in history, of the Ottoman empire, Muslim beliefs and customs, brothers murdering brothers, and the revolt of the janissaries--a group of soldiers that before now I knew nothing about.

Though she's cruel, I loved Esma. She is ahead of her times. Having witnessed the oppression of women, she vows no man will control her and has her own harem of rescued slaves. She's very tough too.

"If you do not consent, I will speak to my brother who indulges me more than any wife, and he will have your head impaled upon my garden wall for insolence."

"An untouchable princess who ordered him from her bed, slapping and biting him on their wedding night. She bloodied his nose with a kick when he kissed the coverlet to approach her."

There are a few love stories entwined in all this. The Sultan and a long long, disfigured slave. The Sultane and her drowning guard/now confessor...but these aren't your traditional romance, but love in a place you don't expect it and you doubt it, and thus, it's suspenseful as the reader doesn't really see that usually easily obtain happily ever after in sight.

This isn't fluff, but real literature.

I think some liberties were taken, however. I was surprised that a harem allows outside men to come and party. That took me aback, but again, this particular harem is Esma's, not the Sultan's. Love these girls, too.

The story is also interspersed with surprise bursts of humor in the jokes among the harem women and just plain name-calling among the villagers.

"Allah curse the beard of your father, the pimp!"
"May Allah do the same to your mother who surely has as coarse a beard on her ugly face as you possess!"

I also liked the looks at religion before man twisted it to suit their purposes. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale and learned much about the Ottoman empire while I read...but I was confused about some things. Not everything fell into place for me.

If Emerald is so awful and at the root of all evil, why have him in your harem? If you were born Christian and abducted to be placed in an army and are nothing but a slave, why do you love the army so? Why fight for a Sultan you loathe? There were lots of tiny contradictions I felt weren't adequately explained. You hate being a  slave, why not leave?

This was a Vine book.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hyde Release & Giveaway With Laura DeLuca

Hyde, the final book in the Dark Musicals Trilogy is available now!


Rebecca Hope has
looked death in the face twice and lived to tell her tale.
She and the love of her life, Justyn Patko, land a summer
internship at a local dinner theater, performing the musical Hyde. While they
are excited about their first paid acting gig, they soon find themselves
surrounded by more experienced cast mates, jealous of their success. As if the
tension isn’t bad enough, they soon discover that the business might be a front
for something much more sinister
When Justyn is accused of a crime that she knows he would
never commit, Rebecca must decide if she wants to follow her head or her heart.
While trying to prove his innocence, she makes a shocking discovery of her own.
Everyone has something to conceal in the grand finale of the
Dark Musicals Trilogy. Rebecca has to look beyond the façade to discover the
true Hyde or face her final curtain call.

Be sure to add Hyde to your to-read list on Goodreads!

If you haven't read the first two books in the series, now is a great time to
get your copy. To celebrate the release of  Hyde,  Phantom is now on
sale for only $.99 exclusively on Amazon through 7/29!


Phantom, Dark Musicals Book #1

The “Phantom” was a musical phenomenon that Rebecca had always found
enchanting. She had no idea that her life was about to mirror the play
that was her obsession. When her high school drama club chooses
“Phantom” as their annual production, Rebecca finds herself in the
middle of an unlikely love triangle and the target of a sadistic stalker
who uses the lines from the play as their calling card.

Rebecca lands the lead role of Christine, the opera diva, and like her
character, she is torn between her two co-stars—Tom the surfer and
basketball star who plays the lovable hero, and Justyn, the strangely
appealing Goth who is more than realistic in the role of the tortured

Almost immediately after casting, strange things start to happen both on
and off the stage. Curtains fall. Mirrors are shattered. People are
hurt in true phantom style. They all seem like accidents until Rebecca
receives notes and phone calls that hint at something more sinister. Is
Justyn bringing to life the twisted character of the phantom? Or in real
life are the roles of the hero and the villain reversed? Rebecca
doesn’t know who to trust, but she knows she’s running out of time as
she gets closer and closer to opening night. Only when the mask is
stripped away, will the twenty first century phantom finally be

Demon, Book Two in the Dark Musicals Trilogy, inspired by Sweeney Todd is also on sale for $1.99 through 7/29!


When Justyn and Rebecca set off for the New York School of
Performing Arts, they think their dreams are about to come true. To their
dismay, they aren’t in high school anymore, and the competition is steep.
Rebecca must compete against accomplished singers for a role in the production
of Demon Barber, including a stunning Gothic diva with her sights set on
It doesn't help that things keep disappearing from their
apartment or that Rebecca's father refuses to accept that Justyn is an
essential part of her life. Yet, all this seems minimal in comparison to the
serial rapist terrorizing the campus
Consumed by fear and obsessed with revenge, Rebecca and
Justyn start living the story of Sweeney Todd—both on and off the stage.


Laura “Luna” DeLuca lives at the beautiful Jersey shore with her husband and four children. She loves
writing in the young adult genre because it keeps her young at heart. In addition to writing fiction, Laura
is also the editor of a popular review blog called New Age Mama. She is an active member of her
local pagan community, and has been studying Wicca for close to eight years. Her current works include
Destiny, Destiny Unveiled, Phantom, Morrigan, Player and Demon.

She also has short stories featured in two anthologies called HerStory and A Celtic Tapestry.

 Follow the author


To celebrate the release of Hyde, Author Laura DeLuca has put together a Dark Musicals themed prize pack. It includes a signed copy of Phantom, geode
and geode slice, rough crystal points, incense and holder, Gothic style
leather key chains, smudge stick with abalone shell, natural stone pendant, seashell, Duffy's On the Lake Coffee Mug, handmade essential oils, steampunk playing cards, gothic necklace, and gothic ring.

My friends from The Whimsical Pixie have also created a custom Celtic Heart plaque that is featured in Hyde. 

Sacred Secrets will be offering a free Divine Guidance Tarot Reading.

And if all that isn't enough, my mommy bloggers friends from Mom Powered Media are also throwing in a kindle e-reader!

One lucky winner is going to receive all these fabulous prizes. To enter, just fill in the Rafflecopter
below. This giveaway will end on  8/28/13. Open to
the US only. The
winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to reply.
Thanks again to Mom Powered Media, The Whimsical Pixie, Sacred Secrets and the author for offering these fantastic prizes.

 ****Please note no compensation was received for sharing this post. Host blogs are not responsible for prize delivery.***