Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Giveaway of Cowboy Take Me Away and Fun Facts about author Jane Graves

About the Author:
Jane Graves
Follow her on TWITTER
Like her on FACEBOOK
Check out her Website

Jane Graves is the author of eighteen contemporary romance novels. She is a nine-time finalist for Romance Writers of America's Rita Award, the industry's highest honor, and is the recipient of two National Readers' Choice Awards, the Booksellers' Best Award, and the Golden Quill, among others.

Jane’s books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and several of her books have appeared on the Barnes & Noble Bestseller List. Jane lives in the Dallas area with her husband and a beautiful but crafty cat who rules the household with one paw tied behind her back.

Fun Facts about Jane Graves

1. Jane just might be one of the biggest fans of the Big Bang Theory EVER and loves trivia questions. (Do you know Penny's last name, or where Sheldon was born?)

2. Jane went all the way through pre-med, then decided against med school. She eventually put her first college degree to use and became a writer.

3. Jane once set fire to her office. Her husband keeps 911 on speed dial and prays a lot.

4. Jane loves Christmas and has a tree with over 300 ornaments.

5. Nine of Jane's books have been nominated for Romance Writers of America's Rita Award, the romance industry's highest honor. None of them have won. Let the Susan Lucci jokes begin. 


Book Synopsis:

Rainbow Valley, Texas, has always been a refuge for animals, and Shannon North, director of the local shelter, intends to keep it that way. But with donations drying up and more pets in need of a loving home than ever before, Shannon's beginning to fear she's not the savior the shelter needs. When a tall, dark, and handsome cowboy from her past comes to the rescue, she knows that accepting his help may come with a high price: her heart.


Bad boy Luke Dawson shook the dust from this little town off his boots years ago. He walked away from everything...except the memory of the one night of passion he shared with Shannon. Now, a few wins away from becoming the world bull-riding champion, Luke's headed for fame and fortune. But then a crisis calls him back to Rainbow Valley, and Luke is reunited with the good girl who stole--and broke--his heart. As their rekindled relationship deepens into desire, old secrets resurface, and Luke must choose between the future he's always dreamed of and the only woman he's ever loved.

Rules for eligibility:
- Only residents of the US and Canada who are 18 years of age or older are eligible.
- Please leave your email address so I may get in contact with you to get your mailing address. **No P.O. Boxes, please**.
- Become a follower of my blog, if you aren't already. (Required)

Winner will be randomly chosen. Only one prize per person and/or per address. Giveaway ends on May 2nd, midnight Eastern time. Winners will be posted on my blog and notified by email. Winners will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected. Good Luck!
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Release Day Review of Cowboy Take Me Away (Rainbow Valley #1) by Jane Graves

Some say it takes a village to raise a child, but in truth, it takes only one. With luck, that person is the right one, but sometimes they're not. A 'village' can, however, help to raise a child, but in truth, only one person can ensure whether that child will be a good person or a bad one and that person is the child itself. Events and people may mold and shape us, but we have the ultimate say in how we turn out. Such was the case for Luke Dawson. Once known as a bad seed in Rainbow Valley, the 'village' he lived in had failed him. Condemning him not only for his sins, but those of his father. The odds had been stacked against him from almost the moment he was born. Years ago he finally realized it and came to conclusion the only way he'd be able rise above the bad reputation he'd garnered over the years was to move to some place where no one knew him or held any preconceived notions about him. It had been eleven years since he left Rainbow Valley, and he'd never looked back. Now he's returned for his father's funeral and to lay to rest the ghosts of his past.

Eleven years ago Luke and Shannon had gotten to know each other. To Luke, their friendship had meant the world. He'd allowed her to see the real Luke. Something he had never let anyone else glimpse before, and she seemed to like what she'd seen. But in one night everything had changed, and the one and only person he'd ever allowed himself to open up to and become close to had betrayed him in a way that she could never have, at the time, understood. That very night he'd pack up all that he owned in the world and left town in search of a better life. When he'd come back to lay his father to rest, he had never expected to find her still here. He'd never expected the feelings he'd had for her to resurface. He never expected they'd get a second chance to get things right.

When it comes to love, sometimes timing is everything. 


This is the first book of a new series by Jane Graves called Rainbow Valley. Rainbow Valley is a town with a reputation for being the most pet friendly in the nation. Almost every business in the small town sports a token pet. Every year there is a festival which brings in tons of tourists. Shannon is hoping it will help bring in much needed donations to support the local animal shelter she runs. Rainbow Valley is all about pets and according to the town's legend, if you head to the valley after you die instead of directly for the light, every animal you've ever loved will be there waiting for you. Legend has it when they look up and recognize you, a rainbow will appear. A nice way to explain the areas over abundance of rainbows, don't you think? This is definitely a series for pet lovers.

Luke Dawson was once as wild, rebellious, and troubled teen. His reputation had him tagged as trouble with a capital 'T', and if there was trouble to be had, he'd most likely be in the center of it. Over the years, he's tried to come to terms with his past and put it behind him. In the years since he left, he's cleaned up his act and has established himself as one of the best bull riders in the country and is favored to win the World Championship. After his father's funeral, he decided to take one last look at his boyhood home. His father being drunk more often than sober had left the place in disrepair, and as Luke attempted to enter the building he'd fallen through the floorboards injuring his knee. With the hospital bills eating up what little savings he had, he'd been forced to stay in Rainbow Valley to recuperate, and the only suitable job open to him was working at the local animal shelter which Shannon North runs.

Shannon remembers Luke just as much as he remembers her. She's reluctant to take him on at the shelter, but as she's desperate for help, she finally caves. Luke's homecoming brings back old memories and slowly, as the two work together, Shannon sees glimpses of the boy she once knew, and the man he's become. There's more to Luke than meets the eye. Once again she's torn between what she's beginning to feel for Luke and what her family expects of her. With Luke declaring he'll be leaving town just as soon as his leg heals, she's doubly conflicted about whether a relationship is worth starting. With Luke making it clear he wants her, she finds the sexy cowboy with the hidden soft side hard to resist.

Overall, I gave this one 4  1/2 out of 5 roses. I absolutely adored Luke and how we slowly find out what happened between him and Shannon's in the past. I loved the way the two bantered via song titles. It was very cute. I enjoyed how each had issues from their past which needed to be resolved before their relationship could move forward. I liked finding out about Luke's tragic past which explained so much. I have to admit I'm a sucker for a tortured hero and Luke's past endeared him to me. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scalethis 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.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Early Review of A Passion for Pleasure (Daring Hearts #2) by Nina Rowan

Author's Website: http://ninarowan.com/
Notes: Quotes will need to be checked against the final copy as I read an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of the book.

She (Clara) needed a husband.

He (Sebastian) needed a wife and money.

His brother needed the plans to a cipher machine, and he was willing to pay handsomely for it.

Her uncle had the plans somewhere in his workshop, and she would be willing let him 
have them for a price... 

"Sebastian, I wish to present you with a marriage proposition."

Luckily, they each have a passion for pleasure.

"In music, counterpoint involves independent melodic lines that harmonize when played together." Sebastian explained. "As in our situation, we can now give each other what we desire."


This is the second book in the Daring Hearts series by Nina Rowan. I did not read the first book, but didn't even realize this was the second book of a series until I went to write the review. Needless to say, you won't feel lost if you start with this book, but it's always nice to start with the first book of a series.

This was an extremely fun book. I loved that Clara's uncle created mechanical toys. In the first chapter we're introduced to Millicent, AKA the Musical Lady, who is one of many inventions of Clara's uncle Granville. Millicent is an automaton who plays four tunes on the harpsichord. What a fun profession and what a great uncle. When Clara's father pretty much disowns her, her Uncle Granville takes her in.

Clara is a smart, virtuous, and pretty young widow with unusual violet eyes. When Clara's husband, Richard, died he designated that custody of their son would go to Clara's father, Lord Fairfax. Knowing her father was in debt, however, Richard set up his wife's and son's inheritances so that her father couldn't touch them. Since her husband's death, her father has cut off all contact and communications with Clara. He believes she played a role in her husband's death. As a result, Clara has no contact with her son, Andrew, and is desperate to gain custody of him once more. Clara re-inherited Whitfield House, her family's estate which had been part of her dowry, upon her husband death. Unfortunately, the will stipulated she couldn't sell it or give it away. Her hope had been to trade the estate to her father in exchange for her son. Since she can't sell it outright, she hopes to marry so her future husband can arrange the exchange. Her new husband would inherit the property upon their marriage, and not be bound by the will's stipulations and could, therefore, trade the estate. 

Sebastian Hall is the second son of an Earl. He's charming, handsome, a lady's man, and a former concert pianist. His career recently came to a sudden halt due to either an injury or illness which affected his hand. He's told nobody and is trying to deal with what to do with his life. His father has recently given him two stipulations--one, he take a wife and two, she be the type to make him a better person. Marrying someone like Clara does satisfy his father's conditions, but she really wasn't what the earl had in mind. Lord Rushton had given Sebastian a list of women he thought would be suitable prospects. Clara, a woman who works for her uncle, had not made the list. While her pedigree is acceptable, a working woman is frowned upon. While it may seem he's caving in to his father's demands, Sebastian never does anything he doesn't want to and there is no doubt he wants Clara. 

Overall, I gave this book 4 out of 5 roses. A fun and sweet story. I enjoyed seeing this relationship crescendo from a mutual adoration into a full-blown romance/love affair. Clara managed to intrigue and endear herself to Sebastian in a short period of time by being herself. Besides her straight forwardness, I think Sebastian admired her for her deep devotion to her son, something his own mother had lacked for her children. Also, I loved how Sebastian ends up proving over and over, that in choosing him, Clara made one of the best decisions of her life. On the Lisarenee 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 series:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cover Reveal - Blue Lines by Toni Aleo

Isn't this a Great cover? You've got the ice in front of him and the skates hanging from his shoulders, hockey stick in hand. Looks like he just got to the rink and will need to get ready for practice. The red, white and blue color scheme makes it feel patriotic. I like it.

Blue Lines (Assassins #4) by Toni Aleo
Coming to Books Stores August 12th

Book Synopsis:
Opposites do more than just attract in Toni Aleo’s latest Nashville Assassins novel about a very bad boy and the good girl he can’t resist.

The instant Piper Allen sees Erik Titov, she wants him—wants his rock-hard body, sure, but the strength and mystery that lies behind that superstar hockey jock demeanor, too. So when he sidles up to her at a bar and slinks his arm around her waist, she’s lost. What follows is the wildest night of her life . . . followed by inevitable heartbreak the next morning. And then, a few weeks later, a very big surprise: two blue lines on a pregnancy test.

Only a check to the head could make Erik fall for a nice girl like Piper. But since their crazy-sexy night together, he’s been trying to forget about her alluring body by falling into bed with every woman in Nashville, and it’s not working. So when Piper shows up at his house with a baby-bomb to drop, it doesn’t take much for Erik to suggest the nuclear option: marriage. While it’s supposed to be all for show, the second they say “I do,” the ice between them starts to melt into sizzling steam.

Also available at:
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blue-lines-toni-aleo/1114852590?ean=9780345547330&itm=1&usri=9780345547330

iBookstore: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blue-lines-toni-aleo/1114852590?ean=9780345547330&itm=1&usri=9780345547330

Random House and other retailers: http://www.randomhouse.com/book/227840/blue-lines-the-assassins-series-by-toni-aleo

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Assassins Blog Hop

Taking Shots (Assassins #1)

Book Synopsis:
In Toni Aleo’s exhilarating debut, the first in a series featuring the hockey hunks of the Nashville Assassins, a reformed bad boy helps a charming, willful woman face off against the demons of her past.

No matter how hard she tries, Eleanor Fisher never thinks she’s good enough, from her job to her weight to her love life. After enduring years of abuse at the hands of an ex-boyfriend, Elli has been drifting through life in a daze. Until, that is, she meets Shea Adler on a promotional shoot for the NHL’s Nashville Assassins. Before Elli knows what’s happening, the gorgeous Shea breaks the ice and shatters her world.

A brilliant athlete inside the rink, Shea Adler is tired of the life he’s living outside of it: the girls, the money, the drinking. But everything changes when he meets Elli. After laying eyes on this feisty, witty, beautiful woman, he feels like he’s just taken the hardest hit of his life. No matter how skeptical she is, Shea knows they are meant to be together—if only he can convince Elli to put her insecurities aside throw her insecurities out the window before she misses out on a shot at love.

Trying to Score (Assassins #2)

Book Synopsis:

In a captivating novel of second chances and healing hearts, the newest member of the Nashville Assassins pulls a power play to make things right with the one that got away.

Fallon Parker’s dream has always been to turn her family’s wine company into a runaway success and eventually start a cellar of her own. Since graduating from college, she has worked relentlessly to make that dream a reality, especially after taking a chance on love—and losing. By the time Fallon becomes an official sponsor of the Nashville Assassins, she feels like all her hard work is finally paying off. And then the man who broke her heart skates back into her life.

On the ice, Lucas Brooks is the NHL’s leading scorer—at least when he’s not in the box. Off the ice, he’s a mess, with all his anger and misery bottled up inside. He threw away the most important person in his life and has regretted it ever since. But when Lucas returns to Nashville in a trade, he’s determined to convince Fallon that he’s a changed man. The attraction is still there. The tension is electrifying. But the odds are stacked against them—especially after Lucas finds out that Fallon has been keeping a devastating secret.

Empty Net (Assassins #4)

Book Synopsis:

Definition of an Empty Net: When a team pulls the goalie for an extra attacker, desperately seeking a goal.

Audrey Parker was in a horrible place.
She hated her job, her sister was getting married and moving out, but worst of all, she was in love with a total jerk. No matter what she did, every guy she met hurt her. All she wanted was her happily ever after. Her Prince Charming. Her Lucas Brooks! She didn’t know how to change her life but she knew she needed too.
Feeling like she was about to hit rock bottom, Audrey wakes up next to Tate Odder.

Tate Odder had lost everything.

After being brought up from the Assassins’ farm team, the Florida Rays to the Nashville Assassins, Tate hopes he’ll forget everything he has lost. He doesn’t. Each day gets harder to live in a place he doesn’t know. Even being the first rookie goalie to shut out an opposing team three times during the Lord Stanley Cup Finals, he still felt empty. With the loss of his parents and sister still heavy on his heart, Tate isn’t sure how to live like everything is okay.

But when he wakes up beside Audrey Parker, things start to change. She turns his life upside down with her kooky sense of humor and her bright clothing. She is intelligent and beautiful, and for once, he doesn’t feel empty.

Will Audrey be the person to fill the holes in Tate’s heart, making him whole again?
Or will another player ruin everything, leaving him feeling forever like an empty net?

About the Author:

Toni Aleo
Check out her website:  
Follow her on Twitter tonilovesweber6
'Like' her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/tonialeo1


Hoppers, increase your chances to win by visiting and entering to win at each of the sites listed below. The more times you enter the better the odds you'll win one of the following fabulous prizes being given away:

- Five eBook copies of  the Assassins series from an eBook retailer of your choice 
-  Ten Net Galley preview copy ebook sets (have expiration dates)
- One $20 Electronic Gift Card from Starbucks


Must be 18 years or older and live in the US to enter & win. 

Blog hop is sponsored by Romance at Random which is owned and operated by Random House, Inc. and they will be in charge of contacting winners and distributing prizes.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Pandemonium (Delirium, #2) by Lauren Oliver

'Grief is like sinking, like being buried. I am in water the tawny color of kicked-up dirt. Every breath is full of choking. There is nothing to hold on to, no sides, no way to claw myself up. There is nothing to do but let go.

Let go. Feel the weight all around you, feel the squeezing of you lungs, the slow, low pressure. Let your self go deeper. There is nothing but bottom. There is nothing but the taste of metal, and the echoes of old things, and days that look like darkness.'

Lena is now in the Wilds, but nothing is how she thought it would be or how she and Alex had planned. After watching Alex get gunned down right before her eyes, she ran and ran until she could go no further and passed out from the pain, exhaustion, and grief. When she came to, she was in a homestead and received her first real introduction to life in the Wilds.

"Everything you were, the life you had, the people you knew...dust."(...)" There is no before. There is only now, and what comes next."

The Wilds isn't pretty, it isn't cozy, truth be told, it's rather harsh, but Lena is free to be who she wants to be, be with who she wants to be and not what society dictates. She'll be forced to make her own way, a new life, and will question if she made the right choice in leaving. She'll find out what she's capable of and find herself, but most importantly, she'll learn to go on and  learn to love again.

'You can build a future out of anything. A scrap, a flicker. The desire to go forward, slowly, one foot at a time.'


This was another great book in the Delirium series. In Delirium, Lena caught the deliria and decided to run away with Alex to the Wilds. Alex was gunned down before he could escape, sacrificing himself so Lena could get away safely. Now Lena is in unknown territory, but she's taken in by a group of Invalids. She learns more about their society and her own.

The book is divided into two parts, the 'Then' and the 'Now' which alternate. The 'Then' section refers to the time when Lena first arrived in the Wilds and the 'Now' is several months later. As the story progresses, you can see the differences and similarities between the two periods of time. In the 'Now' Lena, Raven, and Tack have infiltrated society under aliases. I found the first chapter a bit confusing and wondered if the author did it on purpose to make us feel as confused as Lena when she first awoke in the Wilds. If so, it worked like a charm.

In the 'Now', Lena meets Julian, he's the teen spokesperson for the DFA. He's a very persuasive speaker and has a lot of followers. Lena and he are thrust together when they are both kidnapped and held captive. Being kept in close quarters combined with the stress of being held captive the two start to bond. As they make a daring escape that bond grows as they need to rely upon each other to make it out safely.

I must admit, at first I didn't like the 'Now' and 'Then' division, but as the story progressed, I liked seeing the contrast between the 'old' Lena and the 'new' one. In Delirium, Lena leaned on Alex. If not for him she'd never have left for the Wilds. When she finds herself alone in the Wilds without Alex, she needs to rely on herself and she starts to question things and think for herself. She grows into an independent woman who has opinions and who sees what the society she lived in didn't want her to see. The loveless utopia she was led to believe she lived in wasn't so perfect. A lot was hidden from people.

***MINOR SPOILER ALERT***Sidenote: I'm pointing this out because I think a lot of people will miss this unless someone does point it out.
Additionally, toward the end of the book, the author finally gives us an idea of why she divided the book up as she did. At one point, when Lena starts to fall for Julian, she starts to get images of the two, Alex and Julian, merging together as she tries to reconcile the feelings she had for Alex in the past with the new feelings she's beginning to have for Julian in the present. Additionally, she states, 'I have the feeling of looking at two mirrors that have been placed face-to-face, of being pushed from the past to the now and back again.' In a way, the past and present do sort of overlay and merge with each other at the end, and I liked how the author did this.

Why is the book entitled Pandemonium? Well, the definition of pandemonium is a wild and noisy disorder or confusion; uproar. That suits the book well. Things start out and end in a very confusing and seemingly disorderly manner. Additionally, there is panic that the deliria is spreading and reaching 'pandemic' proportions which leads to the pandemonium in society.

Overall, I gave this book 5 out of 5 roses. I love the author's poetic writing style and the smart and clever way she put this story together. Plus, I loved the twist at the end which was unexpected and an awesome way to lend a book in a cliffhanger. I must confess, however, if I had read the series as the books came out instead of one right after the other, I'd probably be upset about not to knowing what happened next sooner. A very fun and well thought out series.

Order of the series:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Early Review of Chosen at Nightfall (Shadow Falls #5) by C.C. Hunter

Title: Chosen at Nightfall (Shadow Falls Novel)
Classification: Young Adult (12+)
Format: Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (April 23, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1250012899
ISBN-13: 978-1250012890
Author Website: http://www.cchunterbooks.com/
Notes: I read the ARC and quotes will need to be verified against the final copy. I am a member of Ms. Hunter's street team.

Kylie Galen ran away from all that she knew. When her grandfather offered her a place with him and the other chameleon's, she took it, grasping the offer like it was a lifeline. But two weeks after leaving Shadow Falls, she began to realize you can't out run life, heartbreak, sorrow, or your fate. You may be able to escape it temporarily, but in the end, they have a tendency to follow you wherever you go. While she loves being with other chameleons and getting to know her grandfather, she knows she's put off the inevitable for long enough.

Once again a ghost is haunting Kylie. This on comes bearing an ominous message:

"You kill or be killed."

But this ghost is different from the other ghosts she's dealt with because it offers her something the others never have...

"Stop fighting your fate. Accept what you must do. Let me teach you."

Kylie will face the biggest challenge of her life and will discover she's more than she or anyone else ever imagined. She's about to find out her true calling. 


This is the fifth and, sadly, final book of the Shadow Falls series. *sniff* We've watched Kylie grow over the last year or so and come into her own. She's learned she isn't your typical teenager and discovered she's a chameleon. She also found out she's a protector, but can't use those powers to save herself. Kylie's self discoveries, however, aren't over by a long shot. She's about to meet her true destiny face on.

In Whispers at Moonrise, Kylie witnessed her boyfriend become engaged to another girl, and then proceed to kiss his new fiance to the cheers of his friends and family. Needless to say, Kylie wasn't among those cheering. Devastated, she ran straight into the arms of her grandfather and left Shadow Falls behind. Now she's ready to face reality and to sort out the mess that is her life. As Kylie states, "And that seems to be the theme song of my life right now. Not a damn thing makes sense."

In Chosen at Nightfall, Kylie finally meets her father's adopted parents. She'll finally choose between Derek and Lucas. She'll find out her final destiny and discover she has been chosen for something very special. In the midst of all that, she'll be threatened by Mario...

"You will come to me, Kylie Galen, come to me willing to die, to suffer at my hands for my pleasure, because the price will be too great! Your weakness will take you down."

With the ghost Kylie still has not yet figured out her connection to, she'll learn to kick some butt. Plus, she'll have to decide whether she will kill or be killed. For that is the something only she can determine. Her fate, is in her own hands.

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 roses. One of the more satisfying endings to a series I've read in a long time. Lose ends are nicely tied in a bow with enough wiggle room that if Ms. Hunter wishes, she can still continue on the series in the future. That is if her fans can convince her. (Hint, hint.) If you don't read a series until the last book comes out, now is the time to take action. lol A truly wonderful series filled with action, suspense, drama, humor and easily identifiable characters. About growing up, fitting in, and realizing your own self worth. 

Order of the series:

Novellas (aka short stories) associated with the series:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Delirium (Delirium #1) by Lauren Oliver

  •    Title: Delirium
  •    Classification: Young Adult Fiction
  •    Genre: Dystopia
  •    Format: Paperback; 480 pages
  •    Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (February 7, 2012)
  •    ISBN-10: 0061726834
  •    ISBN-13: 978-0061726835
   Author's Website: http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com/

'The most dangerous sicknesses are those that make us believe we are well.'
--Proverb 42, The Book of Shhh


Four little letters which mean so much and can be so powerful. People have written songs about it. Wars have been fought for it. People have killed for it. But what if an entire society decided to reject it? What if instead of seeing it as a rare and beautiful thing to grasp hold of, they saw it as something to be gotten rid of--a disease to be cured? What if they felt love was the root of all evil? 

Welcome to Lena's world. Where at the age of 18 all members of her society are required to have an operation to rid them of the possibility of ever falling in love. The thing Lena fears most is catching amor deliria nervosa. Unfortunately for her, her days of a disease free existence are numbered. Lena Haloway is about to fall undeniably head first in love. May God help her.

“Love: a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That's what it is: an edge; a razor. It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two. Before and after. The rest of the world falls away on either side.”

"The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t."


If you think about the topic of this book too much you may find yourself chuckling or smirking. It is a hard premise/pill to swallow. Love as a disease? Just try to imagine yourself trying to describe this book to someone who hasn't read it. It isn't easy. I wonder how Ms. Oliver managed to sell a publisher on the idea? The story truly sounds far fetched. Ms. Oliver, however, dives head first into the society with her main character Magdalena "Lena" Haloway. She expertly skirts exactly how an entire society came to hate love, but gives us hints and clues as to how, at least through the eyes of the current government, it happened by seeding the story with bits and pieces of information at the heading of each chapter. In my humble opinion, only a master at the craft of writing could weave a tale such as this and make readers buy into it. After reading the series, I have no doubt that is exactly what Ms. Oliver is.

Lena is 17 years old and just months away from being cured. Her mother was never cured despite several operations to rid her of the awful disease. Lena has many fond memories of her mother, and it's obvious her death dramatically impacted her. I believe a part of her fears that, like mother like daughter, she too will be unable to be cured. I also think one of the main reasons Lena wants to be cured so badly is to rid herself of the pain and hurt she's felt all these years from the loss of her mother. The procedure is said to numb one's sense of feelings, such as love, and cleanse and clear the mind.

Hana, is Lena's best friend. In some ways the two are polar opposites. Hana is rich, while Lena comes from a poor family. Hana is popular, while Lena is popular only by her association with Hana. Hana is outgoing and gutsy while Lena is more likely to stay on the straight and narrow path. Hana is beautiful and, while I very much doubt this and guess it is due to being a teen and playing second fiddle to a best friend who everyone seems to view as perfect could make a gal feel this way, Lena believes she is not. Despite their differences the two get along famously and are almost as close as sisters. 

The society that Lena and Hana live in is touted as being perfect, but as the story unfolds, we start to see some cracks in it's supposedly flawless veneer and a darker side to this loveless society starts to emerge. The kind of cracks that a person might not notice if they aren't looking too closely. A side that is hidden away from the general populace. In the midst of it all Lena meets Alex. An older boy who has been cured and is, therefore, supposed to be safe. Alex, however, has a secret of his own and before Lena knows it, she finds herself in the midst of the one things she so desperately wished to avoid--amor deliria nervosa.

As I always say, the brilliance of a book is often hidden within the little details. An example would be the book of Shhh which stands for The Safety, Health, and Happiness Handbook and is a prime example of political propaganda. It's such a fun name for a handbook. Throughout the book below the chapter numbers, we are given bits and pieces of the liturgy of the handbook. Parts of it consist of reworked stories from the bible, altered to fit the society's ideals. Other sections deal with the symptoms and stages of the disease and how to protect yourself from the condition. Yet other sections consists of things to inspire and contain prayers. It's basically a handbook and bible all wrapped up in one book. 

Some, but not all, of my favorite quotes:

- 'I know that life isn't life if you just float through it. I know that the whole point- the only point- is to find the things that matter and hold onto them and fight for them and refuse to let them go.'

- “Everyone is asleep. They've all been asleep for years. You seemed ... awake." Alex is whispering now. He closes his eyes, opens them again. "I'm tired of sleeping.”

- 'Sometimes I feel as though there are two me's, one coasting directly on top of the other: the superficial me, who nods when she's supposed to nod and says what she's supposed to say, and some other, deeper part, the part that worries and dreams... Most of the time they move along in sync and I hardly notice the split, but sometimes it feels as though I'm two whole different people and I could rip apart at any second.'

- 'We stand there for one more moment, looking at each other, and in that instant I feel our connection so strongly it's as though it achieves physical existence, becomes a hand all around us, cupping us together, protecting us. This is what people are always talking about when they talk about God: this feeling, of being held and understood and protected. Feeling this way seems about as close to saying a prayer as you could get'

Overall, I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. Ms Oliver has a beautiful and poetic type of writing style that I just adore. Her writing paints a picture with words and wraps you within her world. I absolutely adored the book and HIGHLY recommend it. I am presently kicking myself for not reading it sooner as I've owned the book since the book first came out. What was I thinking waiting so long? lol 

Order of the series:

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Excerpt and Book Trailer of Six Years by Harlan Coben; Soon to be a Major Motion Picture

To check out my 5 rose review, CLICK HERE.

Chapter 1

    I sat in the back pew and watched the only woman I would ever love marry another man.

     Natalie wore white, of course, looking extra mock-me-forever gorgeous. There had always been both a 
fragility and quiet strength to her beauty, and up there, Natalie looked ethereal, almost otherworldly.

     She bit down on her lower lip. I flashed back to those lazy mornings when we would make love and then she’d throw on my blue dress shirt and we’d head downstairs. We would sit in the breakfast nook and read the paper and eventually she’d take out her pad and start sketching. As she drew me, she would bite down on her lip just like this.

     Two hands reached into my chest, grabbed my brittle heart on either side, and snapped it in two.

     Why had I come?

     Do you believe in love at first sight? Neither do I. I do, however, believe in major, more- than-just-physical attraction at first sight. I believe that every once in a while— once, maybe twice in a lifetime—you are drawn to someone so deeply, so primordially, so immediately—a stronger-than-magnetic pull. That was how it was with Natalie. Sometimes that is all there is. Sometimes it grows and gathers heat and turns into a glorious inferno that you know is real and meant to last forever.

     And sometimes you just get fooled into thinking the first is the second.

     I had naively thought that we were forever. I, who had never really believed in commitment and had done all I could to escape its shackles, knew right away— well, within a week anyway— that this was the woman I was going to wake up next to every single day. This was the woman I’d lay my life down to protect. This was the woman— yes, I know how corny this sounds— whom I could do nothing without, who would make even the mundane something poignant. 

     Gag me with a spoon, right?

     A minister with a cleanly shaven head was talking, but the rush of blood in my ears made it impossible to make out his words. I stared at Natalie. I wanted her to be happy. That wasn’t just lip service, the lie we often tell ourselves because, in truth, if our lover doesn’t want us, then we want her miserable, don’t we? But here I really meant it. If I truly believed that Natalie would be happier without me, then I would let her go, no matter how crushing. But I didn’t believe that she would be happier, despite what she had said or done. Or maybe that is yet another self- rationalization, another lie, we tell ourselves.

     Natalie did not so much as glance at me, but I could see something tighten around her mouth. She knew that I was in the room. She kept her eyes on her husband-to-be. His name, I had recently found out, was Todd. I hate the name Todd. Todd. They probably called him Toddy or the Todd- Man or the Toddster.

     Todd’s hair was too long, and he sported that four-day-stubble beard some people found hip and others, like me, found punch-worthy. His eyes smoothly and smugly skimmed the guests before getting snagged on, well, me. They stayed there a second, sizing me up before deciding that I wasn’t worth the time.

     Why had Natalie gone back to him?

     The maid of honor was Natalie’s sister, Julie. She stood on the dais with a bouquet in both hands and a lifeless, robotic smile on her lips. We’d never met, but I’d seen pictures and heard them talk on the phone. Julie, too, looked stunned by this development. I tried to meet her eye, but she was working that thousand- yard stare.

     I looked back at Natalie’s face, and it was as if small explosives detonated in my chest. Just boom, boom, boom. Man, this had been a bad idea. When the best man brought out the rings, my lungs started shutting down. It was hard to breathe.


     I had come here to see it for myself, I guess. I had learned the hard way that I needed that. My father died of a massive coronary five months ago. He had never had a heart problem before and was by all accounts in good shape. I remembered sitting in that waiting room, being called into the doctor’s office, being told the devastating news— and then being asked, both there and at the funeral home, if I wanted to see his body. I passed. I figured that I didn’t want to remember him lying on a gurney or in a casket. I would remember him as he was.

     But as time went on, I started having trouble accepting his death. He had been so vibrant, so alive. Two days before his death, we had gone to a New York Rangers hockey game— Dad had season tickets— and the game had gone into overtime and we screamed and cheered and, well, how could he be dead? Part of me started wondering if somehow there had been a mistake made or if it was all a great big con and that my dad was maybe somehow still alive. I know that makes no sense, but desperation can toy with you and if you give desperation any wiggle room, it will find alternative answers.

     Part of me was haunted by the fact that I never saw my father’s body. I didn’t want to make the same mistake here. But, to keep within this lame metaphor, I had now seen the dead body. There was no reason to check the pulse or poke at it or hang around it longer than necessary.

     I tried to make my departure as inconspicuous as I could. This is no easy feat when you’re six- five and are built, to use Natalie’s phrase, “like a lumberjack.” I have big hands. Natalie had loved them. She would hold them in her own and trace the lines on my palm. She said they were real hands, a man’s hands. She had drawn them too because, she said, they told my story— my blue-collar upbringing, my working my way through Lanford College as a bouncer at a local nightclub, and also, somehow, the fact that I was now the youngest professor in their political science department.

     I stumbled out of the small white chapel and into the warm summer air. Summer. Was that all this had been in the end? A summer fling? Instead of two randy kids seeking activity at camp, we were two adults seeking solitude on retreat— she to do her art, me to write my poly- sci dissertation— who met and fell hard and now that it was nearing September, well, all good things come to an end. Our whole relationship did have that unreal quality to it, both of us away from our regular lives and all the mundanity that goes along with that. Maybe that was what made it so awesome. Maybe the fact that we only spent time in this reality- free bubble made our relationship better and more intense. Maybe I was full of crap.

     From behind the church door I heard cheers, applause. That snapped me out of my stupor. The service was over. Todd and Natalie were now Mr. and Mrs. Stubble Face. They’d be coming down the aisle soon. I wondered whether they’d get rice thrown at them. Todd probably wouldn’t like that. It’d mess up his hair and get stuck in the stubble.

     Again I didn’t need to see more.

     I headed behind the white chapel, getting out of sight just as the chapel doors flew open. I stared out at the clearing. Nothing there, just, well, clearing. There were trees in the distance. The cabins were on the other side of the hill. The chapel was part of the artist retreat where Natalie was staying. Mine was down the road at a retreat for writers. Both retreats were old Vermont farms that still grew a bit of the organic.

     “Hello, Jake.”

     I turned toward the familiar voice. There, standing no more than ten yards away from me, was Natalie. I quickly looked toward her left ring finger. As if reading my thoughts, she raised the hand to show me the new wedding band.

     “Congratulations,” I said. “I’m very happy for you.”

     She ignored that comment. “I can’t believe you’re here.”

     I spread my arms. “I heard there would be great passed hors d’oeuvres. It’s hard to keep me away from those.”


     I shrugged while my heart turned into dust and blew away.

     “Everyone said you’d never show,” Natalie said. “But I knew you would.”

     “I still love you,” I said.

     “I know.”

     “And you still love me.”

     “I don’t, Jake. See?”

     She waved the ring in my face.

     “Honey?” Todd and his facial hair came around the corner. He spotted me and frowned. “Who is this?”

      But it was clear that he knew.

     “Jake Fisher,” I said. “Congratulations on the nuptials.”

     “Where have I seen you before?”

     I let Natalie handle that one. She put a comforting hand on his shoulder and said, “Jake has been modeling for a lot of us. You probably recognize him from some of our pieces.”

     He still frowned. Natalie got in front of him and said, “If you could just give us a second, okay? I’ll be right there.”

     Todd glanced over at me. I didn’t move. I didn’t back up. I didn’t look away.

     Grudgingly he said, “Okay. But don’t be long.”

     He gave me one more hard look and started back around the chapel. Natalie looked over at me. I pointed toward where Todd had vanished.

     “He seems fun,” I said.

     “Why are you here?”

     “I needed to tell you that I love you,” I said. “I needed to tell you that I always will.”

     “It’s over, Jake. You’ll move on. You’ll be fine.”

     I said nothing.



     She tilted her head a little. She knew what that head tilt did to me. “Promise me you’ll leave us alone.”

     I just stood there.

     “Promise me you won’t follow us or call or even e- mail.”

     The pain in my chest grew. It became something sharp and heavy.

     “Promise me, Jake. Promise me you’ll leave us alone.”

     Her eyes locked on to mine.

     “Okay,” I said. “I promise.”

     Without another word, Natalie walked away, back to the front of that chapel toward the man she had just married. I stood there a moment, trying to catch my breath. I tried to get angry, tried to make light of it, tried to shrug it off and tell her it was her loss. I tried all that, and then I even tried to be mature about it, but I still knew that this was all a stall technique, so I wouldn’t have to face the fact that I would be forever brokenhearted.

     I stayed there behind the chapel until I figured everyone was gone. Then I came back around. The minister with the cleanly shaven head was outside on the steps. So was Natalie’s sister, Julie. She put a hand on my arm. “Are you okay?”

     “I’m super,” I said to her.

     The minister smiled at me. “A lovely day for a wedding, don’t you think?”

     I blinked into the sunlight. “I guess it is,” I said, and then I walked away.

     I would do as Natalie asked. I would leave her alone. I would think about her every day, but I’d never call or reach out or even look her up online. I would keep my promise. 

For six years.

Excerpt from SIX YEARS © 2013 by Harlan Coben.  Published by Dutton, A Member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Excerpted with permission from the publisher. All Rights Reserved.


Six Years by Harlan Coben

  • Title: Six Years
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Mystery/Thriller
  • Format: Hardcover; 368 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (March 19, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0525953485
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525953487
  • Author's website: http://www.harlancoben.com/
  • Notes: I read the ARC, Advanced Reader Copy, of this one.

Six years ago Jake Fisher fell in love.
Six years ago the love of his life, Natalie Avery, left him.
Six years ago he attended attended her wedding to another man because some things you just have to witness for yourself.
Six years ago he promised her he'd leave them alone and never seek them out.

For six long years, he kept that promise, but she was never far from his thoughts. When the obituary of her husband, Todd Sanderson, popped up on the university website, Jake decided six years was long enough. He boarded a plane and decided to pay his respects. Perhaps he'd finally get some closure. When he got to the funeral, however, the woman known to all as Todd's wife, and the mother of his children wasn't Natalie. He'd been married for well over six years to another woman with two teen aged children to prove it. So what happened to Natalie?

Six years wasn't nearly enough time for him to forget her or what they'd had, and some promises beg to be broken.


I was actually approached twice by the publisher to read this book, once before publication and then again after. I have been wanting to read one of Harlan Coben's book's for some time. His name has been popping up for years on my reading radar, but the past couple of years have been filled mainly with books my Goodreads groups have chosen or that publishers have sent me. So while I was literally and figuratively  "booked" for March, I finally was able to find the time in April to read this one, and I am so glad I did. It was roller coaster ride of a novel. It was intense. It made you think. It immediately pulled you into the story and didn't let you go until you'd finished. Perhaps it should come with a warning stating: 
Beware, once you start you won't want to stop until you finish. Make sure to allow yourself the proper amount of time to finish our your regular daily life will be disrupted.  

Jake and his girlfriend, Natalie, were madly in love six years ago.They hit it off immediately and he just knew she was the one for him. After months of dating and being in each other's constant company, when their schedules allowed, she abruptly put an end to their relationship. Three days later she married someone else claiming he was an old flame and they had rekindled their relationship. Feeling a little blindsided, a lovelorn Jake did they only thing he could, he went to the wedding. He had to witness what he couldn't comprehend. After the ceremony Natalie calmly asked him never to look her or her husband up and to leave them alone which he did, but none of what he'd witnessed had ever felt right to him.

Six years later, after seeing Todd Sander's obituary, he just couldn't keep his promise anymore. Hopping on a plane, Jake goes to Todd's funeral and finds no trace of Natalie. So out of curiosity and concern, he starts asking question and investigating. Six years ago Natalie Avery dropped off the face of the earth. No one truly knows where she is, but that isn't all he discovers. He decides if he can't find anything out about her in the present, he'll start his search for her in the past. He'll start where it all had begun and ended. So, he goes back to the church where she was married and discovers there is no record of the ceremony. He goes to the town where the retreat Natalie had been attending when they'd first met resided only to find the land gated off and no one able to recall any such retreat ever existing. That's when he really starts to worry. When he finds out Todd was brutally tortured before he was killed, however, he realizes he's stepped into the middle of something bigger than he'd ever imagined. But Jake is even more determined than ever to discover what happened to Natalie and get the bottom of what truly happened six years ago even if it puts his own life in danger.

Jake is a college professor who is straight laced and well liked. He has no skills in tracking people but when he finds Natalie has been missing for the past six years, his instinct to protect kicks in and he wishes he'd listened to his sixth sense when he'd felt something was totally off with Natalie's marriage. He's smart, and after being a professor for years can read people very well. By following his instincts and any leads thrown his way, he is able to piece together most, but not all of what happened six years ago. What he finds and who is involved is rather shocking.

Overall, I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. It was a great mystery that suspended me in it's grip. A web of lies, deceit, and secrets envelope you as Jake attempts to slowly unweave the threads surrounding Natalie's disappearance. Every time I thought I had some clue as to what had happened, it would be quickly dashed. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride with this one and hope to read more of Mr. Coben's books in the future. This was a high paced, action paced mystery with a great love story binding it together. I am forgoing  my Lisarenee Romance rating for this one as there were no love scenes, but as I always say, if a romance is done right, love scenes aren't always necessary. I HIGHLY recommend this one. I totally loved it and can't wait to see the movie. Did I mention Hugh Jackman read an early copy of the book and has already signed on to play Jake in the movie? This one promises to be good. So, if you're a read it before you see type person like I am, be sure to add this one to your "to read" pile.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hero of My Heart by Megan Frampton

"She's a virgin, gentleman. And She'll be sold to the highest bidder."

Mary Smith had been raised to be a good girl. Her father was a country vicar and she had been a teacher. Upon his deathbed, Mary's father made a startling last confession. He hadn't been married to Mary's mother and she hadn't died in childbirth as he had told her. In fact, she was still alive. With her father gone, it soon became obvious that her half-brother hadn't followed in their father's footsteps. He lost their inheritance on sport and game and soon acquired a substantial amount of debt. That's when he started eyeing his sister in a new light--as a means to gain funds. After beating her into submission he and his partner in crime drugged her and auctioned her and her virginity off to the highest bidder. Luckily, in the pub where the impromptu auction was held was a lost soul who felt as his final act he'd save someone as he couldn't save himself. That someone was Lord Alasdair, Marquess of Datchworth. 


This was an interesting book. The relationship between Mary and Alasdair started out as a codependent one. Each needed the other, even though Alasdair didn't realize it right away when he purchased her. His plan was to marry her, set her up in his home and then give in to his drug dependency letting it take his life. Mary was to be his final good deed.

Mary was looking for a way to escape her brother and find her mother. When Alasdair proposes the two of them get married, she initially thinks he is joking. When he finally convinces her he's serious, the two attempt to abscond to Scotland for a quick marriage. He'll be her means of accomplishing both her tasks as both he and her mother reside in London. It quickly becomes clear, however, that Matias, Mary's brother, never intended to give Mary away permanently. He'd planned to use her as a revolving means of income. Hiring her out to whoever is willing to pay. Alasdair realizes he needs to keep his wits about him if he ever wishes to get them to the church, or in this case Scotland, before Matias or Hugh, Alasdair's cousin, can stop them. Hugh hopes to inherit Alasdair's land and title sooner rather than later. The possibility of Alasdair taking a wife and having offspring are definitely not part of his plans. 

As the two try to dodge and hide from those who would thwart their plans, they slowly get to know one another and realize they make a good team. They quickly find they share a favorite past time and are soon doing it like bunnies whenever and wherever they can. I think this book had one of the highest amount of love scenes in a historical romance that I've ever read. Alasdair gives up his opium addiction for another. Luckily, it appears his new wife shares in his second addiction. But besides all the sex, they find they truly like one another and fall in love. I thought it had a truly sweet ending even though toward the end I wanted to figuratively smack a little sense into both Alasdair and Mary. 

Overall, I gave this one 3 out of 5 roses. While I truly liked the story, there were some holes I would have liked to have seen filled regarding Mary's brother. Perhaps a few more details or a little more time spent on his story line. I would have liked to have known what made him the way he was. Was he like that before their father died? Was he acting out against something? I personally would have liked to have known. Also, I would have liked to have known more about Hugh and perhaps had a sneak peek into his and Alasdair's history. Additionally, the opium withdrawal was truly wrong. While you can sometimes substitute one addiction for another and some may say their love for another is their drug and some insist love cures all, I have never heard it being used to combat withdrawal. Heads up ladies, if a guy tells you he needs sex to get over his drug addiction he's a BIG FAT LIAR. lol As this is a work of fiction, however, I didn't hold that against the author. On the Lisarenee 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.

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