Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Giveaway and Excerpt of Black Raven's Lady by Kathleen Harrington


Available today:

Black Raven's Lady by Kathleen Harrington

This exciting conclusion to the popular Highland Lairds Trilogy features a runaway lass and the laird who will do anything to protect her.

Feisty Lady Raine Cameron has been surrounded her whole life by gossip claiming she is not her father's daughter. Determined to find her true heritage, the dark-haired beauty boards the Black Raven under false pretenses in search of the man who she believes is her father, a man who is also a traitor to Scotland. Only the Black Raven himself stands in her way…

Laird Keir MacNeil has a reputation for being a ruthless and powerful ship captain. On a mission to apprehend Scotland's most wanted traitor, he never expected to see Raine on his ship. Keir vows to keep Raine out of harm's way and return her to her family untarnished. But as his lust for her grows, he must choose between honor and the woman he never expected to desire.


Read an excerpt from Black Raven's Lady:
(used with permission)

PROLOGUE

June 1504

Archnacarry Manor

Western Highlands

 “Come away with me tomorrow, Nina,” the dark-haired man implored. “Meet me here at daybreak, and we’ll flee together. If you love me, dearest, come with me.”

His deep brown eyes filled with tenderness, he drew the beautiful lass close and kissed her tenderly on the forehead, then used the edge of the yellow-and-black tartan pinned to his shoulder to wipe away her tears.

“My father has received an offer of marriage for me from Laird Cameron,” Nina replied, her voice shaking with fright. “Should I run away with you, Torcall, my parents might never forgive me. Perhaps, if we pleaded with them together, they would understand how much in love we are.”

“I can’t wait any longer, dearest,” Torcall said. “The king has pronounced my father a traitor and with him all our clan. I must go and help defend our home and our lands.”

Nina clutched his strong hand in both of hers and brought his fingers to her lips. Her hair, a stunning red-gold, gleamed in the forest’s dappled sunlight. “Oh, Torcall, I do love you so.”

“Don’t be afraid, darling lass,” he told her, his voice ringing with the optimism of youth. “We’ll go to Steòrnabhagh. My father’s castle on the Isle of Lewis is impregnable. We’ll be married there. One day I’ll be chief of Clan MacMurchaidh, Nina, and I will give you all the things I so long to give.”

She smiled, her blue eyes filling once more with tears. “Your love is all I need, my dear, and all I want.”

Torcall hugged her close, then bent his head to place a gentle kiss on her lips. “You’ll meet me here tomorrow, then?” he asked. “You’ll run away with me?”

Nina nodded, a smile curving her lips. “Aye, I’ll flee with you, Torcall. I’ll meet you here, right by 
this tall pine tree, when the sun rises tomorrow.”

In the faint light of the following morning, the glen where the couple had stood seemed to wait in hushed anticipation of the coming dawn . . .

Her heart pounding, Raine awoke with a start and stared at the bed’s canopy above her head. She’d first had the dream when she was fourteen years old. The year after her father, Gideon Cameron, had been murdered. Raine knew it wasn’t an ordinary dream. ’Twas a vision of her mother and Raine’s natural father.

~
CHAPTER ONE

 “Then you’ve made up your mind,” Aunt Isabel said.

Raine looked up from her packing to see her aunt enter the bedchamber and quickly close the door behind her.

Isabel’s eyes twinkled mischievously. “I don’t suppose there’s anything I can do to prevent this foolhardy escapade?”

Raine returned to the task of shoving her journal, containing remedies for everything from gout to the relief of painful menses, into the leather satchel that held her herbal concoctions. “You won’t say anything until I’m gone?”

Isabel lifted her plump shoulders, but the smile curving her lips assured Raine of her intent to keep her own counsel. At least for the moment. “What exactly do you have planned, my dear?”

It was Raine’s turn to shrug. “All I know for certain is that I’m going to find my father.”

“Your father is buried in the kirk cemetery,” Isabel chided softly. “He was a brave and honest man.”

“Gideon Cameron was brave and honest and noble,” Raine agreed. “No one could have asked for a better father. But you and I both know, Aunt Isabel, that your older brother was not the man who sired me.” Raine knelt and reached under her bed to pull out a canvas bag.

“Have you tried asking your mother again?” Aunt Isabel suggested.

Raine gave a soft snort. Every time she’d touched on the subject, Lady Nina had reacted with swift admonishments, scolding Raine for even hinting that Gideon wasn’t her father. Though they loved each other dearly, the matter had caused a feeling of estrangement between mother and daughter.

“What should I say?” Raine asked. “Oh, by the by, Mama, I’m quite certain that you deceived the honorable man you married, and I was the by-blow of that traitorous liaison?”

“Don’t be too harsh in judging your mother, dearest,” Isabel admonished. “We mortals cannot choose with whom we fall in love. Why, even the faery folk show very limited willpower when it comes to their romantic proclivities.”

“Perhaps not. But we can resolve to act with honor and dignity. We’re not chained by our baser inclinations.”

Isabel sank down on the feather mattress, picked up a velvet gown, and started to fold it. Traces of oatmeal rested on her shoulders, sprinkled there to ward off the faeries. Bits and pieces fell on the smooth red velvet. “Where will you begin to look, Raine? Have you had another vision?”

Raine sat back on her heels and closed her eyes. “Not a vision, really. Well, sort of.” Bowing her head, she buried her face in her hands. “I’m not sure what I saw.” She looked up and met her aunt’s worried gaze. “But of one thing, I’m certain. If I don’t go now, ’twill be too late. I’ll never meet my father.”

Isabel nodded in understanding. “You could be heading into danger, child,” she cautioned. “Seeing what’s going to happen in a vision doesn’t mean you can prevent it. Quite the contrary.”

“I’ll be traveling with a group of Poor Clares who leave this morning from St. Margaret’s Nunnery. They’re to set up a hospital in Inverness dedicated to Saint Columba. They’ll carry the saint’s finger bone with them for protection.”

Relief washed over Isabel’s round features. “Still,” she said, “perhaps you should take a strong servant to guard you.”

“The nuns will have a retinue of servants with them,” Raine reassured her. “Should it become necessary, I can hire a bodyguard at Moray Firth, until I can board the ship. But where I’m going, there’s only one man who can protect me.”

Isabel nodded, her hazel eyes filled with compassion. “You speak of Keir MacNeil, of course.”

Raine swallowed painfully. The thought of having to ask the chief of Clan MacNeil for help nearly choked her. “Of course.”

“Well, darling of my heart, if you were a voluptuous female of questionable repute, MacNeil would most likely hasten to your assistance. At the very least, you’d have his complete attention for the space of an evening. But as it is . . .”

There was no need for Lady Isabel to point out the fact that Raine’s figure lacked the curves so admired by the opposite sex. Her aunt raised her brows in calm speculation. “Since the two of you have never gotten along, I have to wonder why you think he’ll agree to help you find the man who sired you.”

“Pooh,” Raine countered. She pursed her lips and scowled. “Who could get along with The MacNeil? He’s loud and rough and a a braggart. He’s totally unlike his half brothers, Rory and Lachlan. Besides, the stubborn dolt has no belief whatsoever in magic.”

Isabel chuckled. “Well, Keir’s certainly no beauty, I grant you that. He doesn’t come close to matching Lachlan MacRath’s astonishing good looks and courtly manners. Nor Rory MacLean’s regal attractiveness.”

Raine looked away in an attempt to hide her feelings from her astute aunt. Since the summer she’d turned seventeen, Raine had fought an inexplicable attraction to Keir MacNeil. ’Twas a purely physical attraction. One she was determined to squelch, for the notorious womanizer seduced and discarded mistresses the way other men tossed out their stained shirts.

She rose to her feet and tossed the canvas bag on the bed beside her aunt. “Don’t bother folding that fancy gown, Auntie,” she said with a rueful smile. She bit her lower lip and blinked back the sudden tears that pooled in her eyes. “There won’t be dancing where I’m going. A few plain dresses will have to do.”

“Still,” her aunt said with a loving smile, “a lady should always take a few pretty gowns with her whenever she travels.”

Raine nodded and stuffed the red velvet along with several others into her bag.

“Pray, don’t be afraid, sweetie,” Isabel said in a hushed tone. “I believe ’tis your destiny to discover the identity of your natural father and learn why he left your mother while she carried his bairn. Be brave, niece, and do not falter.”

Raine sat down beside Lady Isabel, who immediately put an arm around her shoulders. “Sometimes,” 

Raine said,” I think I’m foolish searching for him, when he’s never made any attempt to find me. 

Perhaps he doesn’t even know I exist. He may deny that I’m his daughter.”

“You will never know the truth,” Isabel said, “unless you’re brave enough to search for the answer.”

It was barely dawn. The faint morning light peeked through the partially drawn curtains. Raine intended to leave the manor grounds before sunrise on the pretense of an early-morning ride. A sinking feeling churned in the pit of her stomach. ’Twas a ride from which she might never return.
She’d be traveling into the center of a storm.

War had come to the Highlands.

Six months before, Donald Dubh, the illegitimate son of Alexander Macdonald, the last high chief of the Isles, had been rescued from imprisonment in the island fortress of Innischonaill. A band of Macdonald clansmen had made their way unobserved through the heart of Campbell country, rowed silently across Loch Awe, rushed the castle, and freed its nineteen-year-old prisoner. He was immediately proclaimed lord of the Isles. The whole of the Hebrides rallied to his cause. Nearly every Macdonald in the Highlands and Isles, and their allies with them, rose up in rebellion against James Stewart.

The king of Scotland had designated Laird Keir MacNeil master and commander of a squadron in the royal fleet. The king had commissioned him to help put down the rebellion. Keir’s stated goal was to capture the traitors and bring them to Edinburgh for trial and hanging. One of those traitors was the man Raine believed to be her natural father, Torcall MacMurchaidh.

She had to reach him before Keir.

“I have something to give you,” Aunt Isabel said with an encouraging smile. She placed a smooth stone which had been chiseled into the shape of a heart in Raine’s palm. Uncounted years before, the stone had been engraved in an ancient language, incomprehensible today to most people. Only those familiar with the riddles and enchantments of the Tuatha De Danann—the faery race—could discern its meaning.

Raine brushed her thumb across the strange symbols. “What does it say?”

“ ’Tis a rune for your safety, my dear. Keep it with you at all times.” Isabel reached down and lifted a richly embroidered purse, filled with coins, off the bedcovers. She pulled the cords loose and dropped a handful more into the bag. “Here’s a few more gold unicorns to take with you, dear heart.”

Raine nodded as she placed the rune carefully inside her purse and fastened it on her girdle. Drawing a deep, steadying breath, she rose from the bed and held out her hands. Her aunt took them in her firm grasp and moved to stand beside Raine.

“When you reach the Isle of Lewis,” her aunt said, “you must go to the stones of wonder at Calanais. I’ve told you much about them, but you should visit the temple to the Mother of the Universe yourself.” Isabel clasped Raine by the shoulders and kissed her forehead. “I, too, have had a vision, my dear. I believe you will remain safe as long as you stay with Keir. ’Twill be very important that you are not separated from him during your journey.”

Raine slowly shook her head. “I don’t think the chief of Clan MacNeil will be agreeable to my hanging on to him like a bawling halflin.”

The picture that came to mind made them both laugh.

Laird Keir MacNeil was the most formidable warrior in the whole of Scotland. And beyond.

About the Author:
Kathleen Harrington
Check out her website: 


Kathleen Harrington, winner of the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence, has touched the hearts of readers across the country with her sparkling tales of high adventure and unending love. Her historical romances have been finalists for Romance Writers of America's RITA® Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice, Virginia Romance Writers' HOLT Medallion, and the Phoenix Desert Rose Golden Quill. Her fabulous heroes have garnered the K.I.S.S. (Knight in Shining Silver) Award. She lives in Southern California.


~ Giveaway ~
a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Giveaway is sponsored by the publisher who will distribute the prize. Good Luck!)

Black Raven's Lady by Kathleen Harrington is available today in eBook format and on November 25th in paperback. You can get your eBook copy today at one of the following book retailers:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Ravens-Lady-Highland-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00BATKQNQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1413293401&sr=1-1&keywords=Black+Raven%27s+Lady%3A+Highland+Lairds
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/black-raven-s-lady

Release Day Review of Black Raven's Lady (Highland Lairds Trilogy, #3) by Kathleen Harrington


    Title: Black Raven's Lady
    Classification: Adult Fiction
    Genre: Historical Romance
    Series: Highland Lairds Trilogy
    Format: Paperback; 416 pages
    Publisher: Avon Impulse (November 25, 2014)
    ISBN-10: 0062226363
    ISBN-13: 978-0062226365
Author's Website: http://www.kathleenharringtonbooks.com/
Notes: Received an eARC loan from the publisher via Edelweiss.



Raine Cameron has been gifted with visions--glimpses of the past and the future--for most of her life. What they mean is up for interpretation, which are sometimes easily distinguishable and other times easily misconstrued. She's been having one recurring vision which started shortly after her father's death when she was fourteen, In it, her mother is young and plotting to run off with a man who is not her father. Rumors have abound since her birth that she's not her father's daughter, for Raine looks nothing like her mother or father who were both fair haired. She believes the vision of the past is allowing her a glimpse of her true father, Torcall MacMurchaidh. With war breaking out in the Highlands and Torcall being part of a group of rebels that King Scotland has ordered to be captured, tried, and hanged (if found guilty which they undoubtedly will), she fears this may be her last chance to get to know the man who sired her.

To make a trip into dangerous enemy territory, Raine plans on tricking Laird Keir MacNeil, a formidable warrior and reputed womanizer, into escorting her into the thick of things. If anyone can get her in and out of the area safely, it's him.With a strong attraction between the two, however, is her life the only thing she has to worry about losing? For she has had a vision of the future, Keir was in it, and she's determined to never allow what she foresaw come to past.


This is the third and final book to the Highland Lairds trilogy, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. It can be read as a standalone, but you'll probably be tempted to read the previous two books. Raine was such a fun character. Her antics had me wholeheartedly laughing and grinning. I didn't realize how much I miss this type of heroine until I started reading the book. She's smart, cunning, and charming enough to wrap men around her little finger. Plus, she's extremely headstrong, which makes for a dangerously fun combination. I kept wondering to myself what she was thinking and shaking my head as she pressed forward with her plans--skirting one obstacle after another--till she got what she wanted. There are times when I wish I was more like that. *grin*

Laird Keir MacNeil was a surprising character that totally deserved Raine. She's one of the few women who's ever rejected the man. He's attempted to find another to distract him from what he feels for Raine, but has never accomplished the feat. For an intelligent captain who is used to being in charge and keeping his men in tow, a determined, misguided young woman seems to be his undoing. I found this a fun thing to watch. I loved seeing him struggle to keep his jealousy in check because he had no right to be jealous.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. It was fun and lighthearted read that made me smile. I liked how these two seemed to have so little in common at the beginning, but ended up having quite a bit by the end. I liked seeing these two grow into a couple, and Keir come to the realization there was something to the visions Raine saw. I enjoyed how everyone seemed to know before these two that they belonged together. On the romance rating scale, this one gets a STEAM rating - too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.


Order of the Highland Lairds Trilogy:


Monday, October 20, 2014

Giveaway, Interview, and Excerpt of Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt


About the Book:



A MAN CONDEMNED . . .

Falsely accused of murder and mute from a near-fatal beating, Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne has escaped from Bedlam. With the Crown's soldiers at his heels, he finds refuge in the ruins of a pleasure garden, toiling as a simple gardener. But when a vivacious young woman moves in, he's quickly driven to distraction . . .

A DESPERATE WOMAN . . .

London's premier actress, Lily Stump, is down on her luck when she's forced to move into a scorched theatre with her maid and small son. But she and her tiny family aren't the only inhabitants—a silent, hulking beast of a man also calls the charred ruins home. Yet when she catches him reading her plays, Lily realizes there's more to this man than meets the eye.

OUT OF ASH, DESIRE FLARES

Though scorching passion draws them together, Apollo knows that Lily is keeping secrets. When his past catches up with him, he's forced to make a choice: his love for Lily . . . or the explosive truth that will set him free.

~ Excerpt from Darling Beast 
by Elizabeth Hoyt  ~

     He dropped his satchel and took up the shovel, sticking it into the base of one of the dead bushes, striking at the root mass. The blade only went halfway into the soil, so he jumped with both feet on the shoulders of the blade, driving it the rest of the way down. He could feel as the blade sliced through the roots and he grunted with satisfaction. He’d spent part of the previous night sharpening the shovel to do just that. Gingerly he began prying with the handle—too hard a movement and he’d snap it, or worse, the iron blade itself. He’d already lost two shovels this spring.

    “You don’t mind if I continue?” he heard Miss Stump ask. “It’s just that I need to finish writing this soon—very soon.”

     He glanced up curiously at that, wondering at the worried line between her brows as she stared down at her manuscript. Makepeace had said she couldn’t get acting work at the moment. Perhaps this was her only means of making money.

     He shook his head in reply.
     
     “I’m only in the third act,” she said absently. “My heroine has gambled away all her brother’s money because, well, she’s dressed as her brother.”

     She glanced up in time to catch his raised eyebrows.

     “It’s a comedy called A Wastrel Reform’d.” She shrugged. “A complicated comedy because right now no one knows who anyone is. There’s twins—a brother and sister—named Wastrel, and the brother has convinced his sister—her Christian name is Cecily—to pretend to be he so that he might seduce Lady Pamela’s maid, and he’s engaged to her—Lady Pamela, not her maid.”

     She took a breath and Apollo slowly smiled, because against all odds, he’d understood everything she’d just said.
     Miss Stump grinned back. “It’s silly, I know, but that’s what comedy is, really—a lot of silly things happening, one after another.” She glanced down at her play, running her finger down the page. “So Cecily, dressed as Adam—that’s the brother—has lost terribly at a hand of cards to Lord Pimberly. Oh! That’s Fanny—the maid’s—father, and Lady Pamela’s scorned suitor. Although of course no one knows that Pimberly is Fanny’s father, otherwise she wouldn’t be a lady’s maid, now would she?”

     Apollo leaned on his shovel and cocked an eyebrow.

     “Kidnapped at birth, naturally,” she replied. “But fortunately she has quite a distinctive birthmark. Right here.” She tapped the upper slope of her right breast.

     Apollo defied any man not to follow the direction of her finger. She had quite a lovely breast, gently swelling above the severe square neckline of her dress and modestly covered by a filmy fichu.

     “Yes, well.” Her husky voice made him raise his gaze. Her cheeks had pinkened, but that might’ve been the wind. “In any case, I’m writing a scene between Cecily and Lord Pimberly in which Pimberly demands his money and Cecily doesn’t have it. And naturally he’s begun to realize he’s attracted to her at the same time.”
   
     She cleared her throat.

     He nodded, messing a bit with his shovel to look as if he were still working. Actually, he was beginning to fear that the blade was stuck in the roots.

     Miss Stump glanced at her manuscript and slipped back into what he now knew was Cecily—the sister dressed as her brother. “Do you judge a gentleman by his bits, my lord?”

     She turned and placed her fists on her hips again, in the wide-legged stance. “Pardon me, but I said chits.”

     Turn. Her hands dropped. “And yet, ’tis still your manly bits we discuss.” She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. “No?”

     He screwed his mouth to the side and reluctantly shook his head.

     “Blast!” she exclaimed under her breath, bending to the paper. She scratched out something and then froze, obviously thinking.

     He wasn’t even pretending to work anymore.

     She gasped and then hunched over her manuscript, scribbling furiously before straightening, a gleam of triumph in her eye.

     She tossed her head as Cecily. “Indeed, and would you know a chit should you see one?”

     Now she was a baffled Pimberly. “Naturally.”

     “Oh, my lord?” She turned her head and looked over her shoulder through lowered lashes at the imaginary Pimberly, all daring flirtation. “And how is that, may I ask?”

     “How?”

     “How does a gentleman of your unsurpassed perception differentiate a chit from a bit?”

     And she batted her eyelashes.

     The juxtaposition between the ribaldry of her words and the innocence of her expression was so silly, so utterly enchanting, that Apollo couldn’t help it: he threw back his head and laughed.

About the Author:


Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of historical romance, including reader favorite, The Raven Prince.

Elizabeth was born in New Orleans but grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. She was fortunate to be able to travel extensively as a child, visiting St. Andrews, Scotland; Germany; France; and Belgium. She spent a year in Oxford, England and was a summer exchange student to Kawasaki, Japan.

Elizabeth has a BA in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and, as a result of having no clue what to do with her life thereafter, a career history as a barista, a (terrible) sales clerk, a Wisconsin Revenue Service data entry slave, and an archeological field work grunt. Fortunately, Elizabeth married relatively young and produced two children who kept her busy until her mid-thirties. At about this time, when her youngest was entering Kindergarten, Elizabeth’s mother hinted that perhaps Elizabeth should get a Real Job.

Sadly, Elizabeth was so delusional she thought writing a romance novel might qualify as a Real Job.

But! Five years later, to everyone’s surprise, she actually sold that romance novel (The Raven Prince) and began a rather successful career as a Romance Novelist. This was most fortunate since Elizabeth is singularly unqualified to do anything else but Make Up Stories.

Since then Elizabeth has written thirteen books to critical acclaim: The Prince Trilogy (The Raven Prince, The Leopard Prince, and The Serpent Prince); the Legend of the Four Soldiers series (To Taste Temptation, To Seduce a Sinner, To Beguile a Beast, and To Desire a Devil); and the Maiden Lane series (Wicked Intentions, Notorious Pleasures, Scandalous Desires, Thief of Shadows, Lord of Darkness, and the upcoming Duke of Midnight .) All of Elizabeth’s books are set in eighteenth century England and all feature a fairy tale story that serves as a foil to the main story.

Elizabeth’s books have made the New York Times bestseller list seven times, have finaled five times in Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award contest, and have won three Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Awards. All of her books have received Top Pick reviews from RT BookReviews magazine. Wicked Intentions, Notorious Pleasures Scandalous Desires, and Thief of Shadows received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly. Four of her books were voted into All About Romance’s (AAR’s) Top 100 Romances of All Time list and six were Desert Isle Keepers at AAR. Elizabeth’s books have been translated into eighteen languages.

Elizabeth researches extensively for her historical romances, both by reading books on topics such as: history, costume, warfare, social mannerisms, and cooking, and frequenting museums whenever she can to study portraits and the little dogs that aristocratic Georgian ladies seem to always be holding. When desperate she often consults Mr. Hoyt, who is an archaeologist and Historical Research Wizard.

Elizabeth lives in central Illinois with a pack of untrained canines and a garden in constant need of weeding.


~ Interview with Elizabeth Hoyt ~

      Question:  On your website, you say you base many of your books off of fairy tales.  I've noticed you tend to pick those that aren't so well known. What’s your personal favorite lesser-known fairy tale and what is it that you love about it?  

Answer: I’ve always liked “The Goose Girl” about a princess who is switched with her serving maid and forced to become a goose girl (herding geese, I guess) at her betrothed castle. A magical severed horse head is involved which is delightfully gruesome. I like the suspense of the princess in disguise.

      Question:  What elements, besides a good chemistry between the two main characters, do you feel are most important for writing a good romance? 

Answer: The characters themselves have to be compelling. They might have the best chemistry in the world, but if the reader isn’t interested in the hero and heroine as people, the book is boring.
 
      Question:  Some say romances are just retelling the same story over and over again in different ways. True, the base of every romance--boy and girl meet and fall in love--is essentially the same, but if it were truly that simple, we'd all be able to be bestselling romance novelists. Being as you're a bestselling author, what's your secret to keeping your stories fresh and preventing them from feeling like we're reading a romance novel repeat? 

Answer: Hm. Well, I suppose romances are all alike…but that’s like saying people are all alike: we all have eyes and ears and legs so what’s so interesting about different people? I think you can see the false argument I make here: people may be all the same at a certain base level, but there is infinite diversity among people—and people, like romance books, are infinitely compelling. 

If I’m not interested in the story I don’t think the reader will be. I often set myself intellectual challenges when writing: how does a mute man communicate to a woman he’s attracted to? If a first impression is really bad—say, the heroine thinks the hero is a mentally challenged ugly monster—what will make her change her mind? How does love heal a man of mental wounds?

In general, I don’t repeat characters. If I’ve already written an amoral river pirate, why would I want to write another?

      Question:  Being as you write historical novels, if you could travel back in time and attend any event or see any part of history (secret or not) as it was occurring, what would you choose to see or do and why?

Answer: It would be interesting to attend some of the early women’s rights meetings in America—the ones Susan B. Anthony attended. I always think it’s interesting when a person decides to not only go against society’s thinking, but actively challenge it. That takes courage.

      Question:  Is there anything that someone who hasn’t read one of your books should know about you, your books, or your characters that might entice them to read them?

Answer: Hm. Well, I read a review recently that said my books aren’t as dark as the reader heard they were—does that entice? I think of my books as complex with complex characters. But there are a lot of goofy moments as well. Oh, and the sex is really quite hot. ;-)

~ Giveaway ~
a Rafflecopter giveaway


DARLING BEAST is available in paperback, ebook, and audio book formats wherever books are sold:







Darling Beast (Maiden Lane, #7) by Elizabeth Hoyt

    Title: Darling Beast
    Classification: Adult Fiction
    Genre:  Historical Romance/Erotic
    Series: Maiden Lane
    Format: Paperback; 352 pages
    Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (October 14, 2014)
    ISBN-10: 1455586307
    ISBN-13: 978-1455586301
    Author's Website: http://www.elizabethhoyt.com/
    Notes: I received and eARC loan from the publisher.



    He's a wanted man with many secrets trying to clear his name.

She's the toast of London's theater district with secrets of her own which could ruin her.

    Thrown together by fate, will they prove to be each other's down fall or each others saving grace?

Photobucket

    This is the seventh book of the Maiden Lane series. It can be read without picking up any of the previous books in the series. You won't feel lost or like you've missed anything, although, after reading this book, I can't guarantee you won't feel the urge to pick up its predecessors and emerse yourself in some great stories. Sorry, I just can't. *Smirk*  

    Lily Stump, who performs under the stage name Robin Goodfellow, is one of London's best comedic actresses of her time, but she's been blackballed by her former employer for taking an offer from one of his competitors, Mr. Harte had offered Lily an exorbitant amount of money, twice her current salary, to work exclusively for him. If all had gone well she would have done quite well for herself. Fate, however, had other plans when six months ago a fire broke out in the theater and spread to the surrounding pleasure garden burning the majority of the theater and garden to a crisp. With no means to make an income, she was forced to give up the elaborate rooms she, her son Indio, and his nurse maid, Maude, had shared. Mr. Harte feeling responsible for the blackballing had taken pity on them and was allowing them to stay in a portion of the theater which had the least amount of damage and was still safe to dwell in. What Mr. Harte had forgotten to do, however, was inform the other occupant of the area, Apollo Greaves, aka Viscount Kilbourne of the arrangement. This made for a humorous first meeting between the two. 

Apollo has been lying low and attempting to avoid notice after he escaped from Bedlam. Accused of murder, he's attempting to find out who did the deed so he can clear his name and get his life back. The key to his being able to do so is to keep anyone from finding out he resides on the ground of the pleasure garden. He's posing as a gardener which suits him as it's something he loves to do and is good at. Ms. Goodfellow's presence is bound to attract unwanted attention to the area and possibly cause someone who knows the Viscount to start poking around. As Apollo is the type of man who stands out like a sore thumb--over six feet tall and broad in the shoulders, he's the type people notice.


    What I loved about this story is that while the two were instantly attracted to each other, they didn't immediately fall in love. Apollo, by the way, had suffered an injury while in bedlam that had taken away his ability to speak. His inability to speak created some fun situations which allowed him to see a side of Lily he might never have been privileged enough to have seen had they been introduced in polite society. Lily doesn't hold a high opinion of the aristocracy, with good reason, and would probably have never given Apollo the time of day had she known who he was. Likewise, his patient interaction with her son shows Lily a side of Apollo she'd never would have seen because she keeps Indio hidden from the rest of the world. 

Now, I have to mention the tale which is told piece by piece at the beginning of every chapter--The Minotaur. I recommend reading the pieces all together after reading the main story instead of piece by piece as the story progresses. I found it difficult to follow and figure out the link between the two when I attempted to read it that way. When I went back and read the Minotaur in its entirety all at once, I saw the similarities between the two stories much more clearly and I adored how the two fit together. Granted, Ms. Hoyt changed the tale from it's original version, but I found I quite liked her clever twist to the tale.

    I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. This one held a wonderful combination of humor, suspense and mystery all wrapped up within a fabulously steamy love story. I loved how Apollo saw Lily for who she truly was and loved all of her, despite what the ton might have thought. I have to admit, however, she seemed to be held in high esteem by both the ladies and gentlemen in her audiences, which I'm guessing would have been unusual at the time. I also enjoyed how Lily was a bit more independent than most woman of her time which made the story that much more fun. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a SHOWER rating--a cold shower is necessary (need I say more?). Some books should come with a warning - make sure your significant other is handy or your shower is in working order. lol Definitely a book I Highly recommend. Just be warned, Ms. Hoyt cranked up the heat in this one. :)


Order of the Maiden Lane series:



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3) by Maggie Stiefvater


Title: The Raven Cycle #3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Classification: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
Series: The Raven Cycle
Format: Hardcover; 400 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press (October 21, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0545424968
ISBN-13: 978-0545424967
Author's Website:  
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher.


“I see things.” Adam’s eyebrows formed either concentration or uncertainty. “More than one thing. It’s like — like the animals at the Barns. I see things … sleeping.” 

“Dreaming,” Persephone agreed. 

As soon as he’d called her attention to the sleepers, they came to the forefront of her consciousness. 

“Three,” she added. 

“Three what?” 

“Three in particular,” she murmured. “To be woken. Oh, no. No. Two. One should not be woken.”

For years Gansey has been putting together his motley crew while searching for the ever elusive Glendower. Now beneath a mountain in a cave, the presence of three sleeping entities have been sensed. Could one be the man they seek? If so, who are the other two and why should one not be woken? If the wrong one does awake, what will happen?

One thing is finally clear--Gansey and his friends are a part of something big and Blue is right in the middle of it all.

“Queens and kings 
Kings and queens 
Blue lily, lily blue 
Crowns and birds 
Swords and things 
Blue lily, lily blue”


This is the third book of the Raven Cycle series, and I HIGHLY recommend you read the previous books. Each book builds upon the other, and if you don't read its predecessor, you'll be missing out on some pertinent information and facts. What I love about Ms. Stiefvater's books is, that by reading one of her stories, it's like entering into another world or another dimension of our own that you seldom wish to leave. They say a picture can paint a thousand words, likewise, a good book can generate a thousand pictures and make you feel as though you've entered another realm and that is exactly what Maggie manages to do.

Besides the phenomenal world building, Ms. Stiefvater's books make you think and consider everything that she throws your way, as well what she leaves out. She doesn't spoon feed the reader or the characters the answers, and they have to puzzle out what everything means or suggests. This, in my humble opinion, is a magical device that pulls the reader into the story and makes it appear interactive. I admit, however, there are some readers who prefer to sit back and let the author do all the work, and if that's the kind of book you prefer, this might not be the book for you. For you there are plenty of books out there that will let you veg out for several hours while you read. This one however will bring out your creative nature while stimulating your mind. So beware.

For those of you unfamiliar with the series, it is told in the style of the old fairy tales with a bit of the hero's journey added in, and the flavor of a coming of age story. Gansey, Adam, Ronan, Noah, and Blue are attempting to find "Owain Glyndr — Owen Glendower to non-Welsh speakers — a medieval Welsh noble, who had fought against the English for Welsh freedom and then, when capture seemed inevitable, disappeared from the island and from history altogether." Glendower is rumored to have had some magical abilities such as the power of invisibility, but that is not why Gansey is so obsessed with the ancient noble. Seven years ago Gansey should have died, but didn't. He was and is deathly allergic to bee/wasp stings and one day he literally stumbled upon a nest and was stung repeatedly. Instead of dying, which should have happened shortly thereafter, he heard a voice which stated, ‘You will live because of Glendower. Someone else on the ley line is dying when they should not, and so you will live when you should not.’ Gansey believes Glendower will grant a favor to whoever wakes him and that he was saved so he could wake the ancient warrior. This is his quest and by association that of his friends'.

The fairy tale portion comes into play via a few routes. First, you have Blue who comes from a line of psychics who has been told by, not one, but many psychics that if she kisses her true love, he'll die. Secondly, you have Cabeswater--a seemingly timeless, mystical, and magical place that exists upon the ley lines and at times disappears. It seems to exist outside our world with seasons that can differ from our own, has trees that can talk, and can alter its appearance depending on what it wants revealed or found. At times it appears to be a living entity. Lastly, we have Ronan, who isn't an average person; he's a Greywaren. He can take items out of dreams and make them real.

This book starts up almost a month from where The Dream Thieves leaves off. Maura, Blue's mom, has gone off in search of Blue's father and everyone is beginning to worry. With all that has gone on and Blue's senior year starting, they're wondering whether or not they should start looking for her for surely she wouldn't miss Blue's graduation.

With each book in the series we learn something new and significant about one or more of the friends Gansey has surrounded himself with. At one point, Gansey said that with each person who was added to his inner circle he felt a sense of rightness about it. Well, with this book there seems to be no doubt that each will play an important role in whatever will transpire, but now it's beginning to look like each was fated to do so. In this book we find out Blue, just as Ronan in the previous book, is more involved in everything than anyone could ever have imagined. We'll find out exactly who her father is and how he is connected to everything thereby connecting Blue. With what we learn in this book, I can't help but think that Blue may be the key to waking Glendower.

Besides learning more about Blue and her powers, we're also starting to learn more about Adam's connection to Cabeswater. I've been wondering since he made the deal to be its hands and eyes just what he'd gotten himself into, and we're slowly starting to see what that bargain entails. Originally I thought it was a foolish thing to agree to, but now I'm not so sure. While Ms. Stiefvater is no doubt holding information back, she's throwing us lots of breadcrumbs which keep us, the readers, fully engaged and wondering what will happen next.

Additionally, we finally meet the elusive Colin Greenmantle and he is nothing like I expected him to be. He's the man who hired Mr. Gray in the previous book to get the Graywaren. We're also introduced to several new characters including Greenmantle's wife, and I look forward to seeing how they'll effect things. Some seemed destined to shake things up.

I confess that I adore this series and couldn't help but give this book 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I expect great things from Ms. Stiefvater's books, and she never seems to let me down. I adore the intricate web that the author is weaving, and I am totally ensnared. I am curious as to how this tale will end, but I'm nowhere near ready for it to be over. *Sniff* What's exciting is that we're finally starting to see some of the visions from the first book come to fruition, so it truly does feel like we're seeing the beginning of the end. FYI, this one ends in a cliffhanger and I can't wait to get my hands on the next book.

Order of the Series:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cover Reveal of Thoughtful (Thoughtless, #1.5) by S.C. Stephens


Coming February 24, 2015

In THOUGHTLESS by New York Times bestselling author S.C. Stephens, Kiera told her story. Now it's time to hear from Kellan, the sexy rock star who captivated us all, and Forever is so excited to bring you his side of the story in THOUGHTFUL:


Thoughtful by S.C. Stephens

The only place Kellan Kyle has ever felt at home is onstage. Gripping his guitar in a darkened bar, he can forget his painful past. These days his life revolves around three things: music, his bandmates, and hot hookups. Until one woman changes everything…

Kiera is the kind of girl Kellan has no business wanting-smart, sweet, and dating his best friend. Certain he could never be worthy of her love, he hides his growing attraction…until Kiera’s own tormented heart hints that his feelings might not be one-sided. Now, no matter the consequences, Kellan is sure of one thing-he won’t let Kiera go without a fight.

About the author:
S.C. Stephens is a #1 bestselling author who spends her every free moment creating stories that are packed with emotion and heavy on romance. In addition to writing, she enjoys spending lazy afternoons in the sun reading, listening to music, watching movies, and spending time with her friends and family. She and her 2 children reside in the Pacific Northwest.

Pre-order your copy today!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Most Anticipated New Releases of October 2014

The following list is comprised of books and novellas my friends, family, and I are most looking forward to reading in October. It also consists of books by popular authors and others I've heard a lot of hype about. I am not flawless and sometimes I'll accidentally leave one or more books off the list that I shouldn't. Let me know if one of your favorites is missing. Sometimes my search techniques just don't work as well as I wish they did.

The list is divided into weekly releases. If you'd like to read a book's description, just click on the cover photo and you'll be magically transferred to Goodreads. Remember, a book a day keeps the boredom at bay! Happy reading.


October 1st - Lost Under a Ladder (A Superstition Mystery) by Linda O. Johnston
October 7th - Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick
October 7th - Bless Her Dead Little Heart (A Southern Ladies Mystery) by Miranda James
October 7th - The Blood of Olympus; The Heroes of Olympus,Book Five: by Rick Riordan
October 7th - Breaking Nova by Jessica Sorensen
October 7th - Broken Soul: A Jane Yellowrock Novel by Faith Hunter
October 7th - By the Magic of Starlight by Serena Gilley
October 7th - The Christmas Bouquet (Chesapeake Shores Book 11) by Sherryl Woods
October 7th - The Christmas Wedding Ring (Hqn) by Susan Mallery
October 7th - Deadline (A Virgil Flowers Novel Book 8) by John Sandford
October 7th - Death of a Christmas Caterer (A Hayley Powell Mystery) by Lee Hollis
October 7th - A Demon Summer: A Max Tudor Mystery (A Max Tudor Novel) by G. M. Malliet
October 7th - Ghost Wanted (A Bailey Ruth Ghost Novel) by Carolyn Hart
October 7th - Gossamer Ghost (A Scrapbooking Mystery) by Laura Childs
October 7th - If He's Daring (Wherlocke Book 6) by Hannah Howell
October 7th - Immortal: A Novel of the Fallen Angels by J. R. Ward
October 7th - Keep Me Safe: A Slow Burn Novel (Slow Burn Novels) by Maya Banks
October 7th - The Legend of Sleepy Harlow (League of Literary Ladies) by Kylie Logan
October 7th - Lailah (The Styclar Saga) by Nikki Kelly
October 7th - Louisa; The Governess Club by Ellie Macdonald
October 7th - Loving You Always (The Bennett Series) by Kennedy Ryan
October 7th - A Midwinter's Tail: A Magical Cats Mystery by Sofie Kelly
October 7th - Mr. Miracle: A Christmas Novel by Debbie Macomber
October 7th - Night Sky by Suzanne Brockmann and Melanie Brockmann
October 7th - Off Kilter (A Scottish Highlands Mystery) by Hannah Reed
October 7th - One Potion in the Grave: A Magic Potion Mystery by Heather Blake (Oct 7, 2014)
October 7th - Over the Line (Alpha Ops) by Emmy Curtis
October 7th - Poison Fruit: Agent of Hel by Jacqueline Carey
October 7th - Paris Match (Stone Barrington Novels Book 31) by Stuart Woods
October 7th - Picked to Die (An Orchard Mystery) by Sheila Connolly
October 7th - Sidney Sheldon's Chasing Tomorrow (Tracy Whitney) by Sidney Sheldon and Tilly Bagshawe
October 7th - The Shell Game: A Fox and O'Hare Short Story by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
October 7th - The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain
October 7th - Sideswiped by Lia Riley
October 7th - Spark: A Novel by John Twelve Hawks
October 7th - The Spiritglass Charade: A Stoker & Holmes Novel by Colleen Gleason
October 7th - The Sweet Surrender of Janet Buchanan by Paula Quinn
October 7th - Trick or Deadly Treat: A Fresh-Baked Mystery by Livia J. Washburn
October 7th - Unbinding (World of the Lupi Book 11) by Eileen Wilks
October 7th - Undead and Unwary by MaryJanice Davidson
October 7th - Unraveled (Crewel World) by Gennifer Albin
October 7th - A Vision of Fire: A Novel by Gillian Anderson
October 7th - Wanting Forever (A Nelson Island Novel) by Diana Gardin
October 7th - Weave of Absence: A Weaving Mystery by Carol A Martin
October 7th - What a Lady Needs for Christmas (MacGregor Series) by Grace Burrowes


October 14th - Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen by Garth Nix
October 14th - The Counterfeit Heiress: A Lady Emily Mystery (Lady Emily Mysteries) by Tasha Alexander
October 14th - Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt
October 14th - Elite by Rachel Van Dyke
October 14th - Good Guys Wear Black by Lizbeth Selvig
October 14th - Leaving Time: A Novel by Jodi Picoult
October 14th - The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield
October 14th - Mortal Gods (The Goddess War) by Kendare Blake
October 14th - One in a Million (Lucky Harbor series, Book 12) by Jill Shalvis
October 14th - Redeemed (House of Night Novels) by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
October 14th - UnDivided (Unwind Dystology Book 4) by Neal Shusterman
October 14th - Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead: Descent (The Walking Dead Series) by Jay Bonansinga


October 21st - After (The After Series) by Anna Todd
October 21st - Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater; The Raven Cycle #3:
October 21st - Change of Heart by Jude Deveraux
October 21st - Gray Mountain: A Novel by John Grisham
October 21st - The Nightingale Before Christmas: A Meg Langslow Christmas Mystery by Donna Andrews
October 21st - Seventh Grave and No Body (Charley Davidson Series) by Darynda Jones
October 21st - Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements Book 2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
October 21st - Time's Edge (The Chronos Files Book 2) by Rysa Walker
October 21st - The Vines by Christopher Rice
October 21st - Wait for Signs: Twelve Longmire Stories by Craig Johnson


October 28th - Archangel's Shadows (Guild Hunter) by Nalini Singh
October 28th - Atlantia by Ally Condie
October 28th - By Winter's Light: A Cynster Novel (Cynster Special Book 2) by Stephanie Laurens
October 28th - Black Spring (A Black Wings Novel) by Christina Henry
October 28th - Blood Magick: Book Three of The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy by Nora Roberts
October 28th - The Buried by Shelley Coriell
October 28th - Burn for Me: A Hidden Legacy Novel by Ilona Andrews
October 28th - Christmas at Twilight: A Twilight, Texas Novel by Lori Wilde
October 28th - Christmas on 4th Street: Yours for Christmas (Fool's Gold Romance) by Susan Mallery
October 28th - Cover Your Eyes by Mary Burton
October 28th - Destiny's Captive by Beverly Jenkins
October 28th - Eternal: Shadow Falls: After Dark by C. C. Hunter
October 28th - Forbidden Ground (Cold Creek) by Karen Harper
October 28th - The Handsome Man's De Luxe Café: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (15) by Alexander McCall Smith
October 28th - Havana Storm (Dirk Pitt Adventure) by Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler
October 28th - He's No Prince Charming by Elle Daniels
October 28th - The Heart of Christmas (Whiskey Creek Book 7) by Brenda Novak
October 28th - Only Enchanting: A Survivors' Club Novel by Mary Balogh
October 28th - Otherworld Nights: An Anthology (An Otherworld Novel) by Kelley Armstrong
October 28th - Pegasus: A Novel by Danielle Steel
October 28th - Prince Lestat: The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice
October 28th - Rules for a Proper Governess (Mackenzies Series Book 7) by Jennifer Ashley
October 28th - A Seaside Christmas: Santa, Baby (A Chesapeake Shores Novel) by Sherryl Woods
October 28th - Scandalous Summer Nights by Anne Barton
October 28th - The Shocking Secret of a Guest at the Wedding (Millworth Manor) by Victoria Alexander
October 28th - Shooting Scars: Book 2 in The Artists Trilogy by Karina Halle
October 28th - Sleigh Bells in Valentine Valley: A Valentine Valley Novel by Emma Cane
October 28th - The Slow Regard of Silent Things (The Kingkiller Chronicle) by Patrick Rothfuss
October 28th - Smiley (New Species) by Laurann Dohner
October 28th - Snow Angel Cove (Hqn) by RaeAnne Thayne
October 28th - Sudden Backtrack: A Hollows Short by Kim Harrison
October 28th - Talon (The Talon Saga) by Julie Kagawa
October 28th - Tied (Tangled) by Emma Chase
October 28th - Treacherous Tart (Pie Shop Mysteries) by Ellie Grant
October 28th - Unleashed by Rachel Lacey
October 28th - The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane: Rhymes With Love by Elizabeth Boyle
October 28th - Waterfall (Teardrop) by Lauren Kate
October 28th - The Wicked Ways of Alexander Kidd by Paula Quinn
October 28th - The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R.R. Martin, Elio M. Garcia Jr. and Linda Antonsson
October 28th - Wyoming Strong (Wyoming Men) by Diana Palmer
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