Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

  • Title: The Night Circus
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (September 13, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0385534639
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385534635
  • Author's Website:


       "Have you ever thought about it, about simply leaving? Really, truly thought about it with the intent to follow through and not as a dream or just a passing fancy?" When he does not answer, she continues. "Think about it, right now. Picture us abandoning this place and this game and starting over together somewhere else, and mean it." 
        Marco closes his eyes and draws it out in his mind, focusing not on the wishful dream but on the practicalities. Planning out the smallest details, from organizing Chandresh's books for a new accountant to packing the suits in his flat, even down to the wedding bands on their fingers.
         And then his right hand begins to burn, the pain sharp searing, beginning at  the scar around his finger and racing up his arm, blackening out every thought in his mind.

    A circus steals into town like a thief. In the blink of an eye it appears. One moment it is not there, the next it is. For this is a circus like no other. It opens only at night and is called Le Cirque du Rêves--The Circus of Dreams. For that is what it is truly is made up of--the dreams of two powerful young magicians. For it is not truly a circus, but a venue for the greatest competition the world has ever seen. Forced to compete against their wills without any knowledge of what they are competing for, what the rules are, or what is at stake--the innocent pawns of two master magicians who think nothing of playing with another's life. For the competition is not over until only one is standing and once they were bound to the competition there is no way to get out but to win.

    In the midst of uncertainty and magic, two young magicians find the answer to their dreams, not in the circus, but in each others arms. Only after the two have fallen for each other do the they learn the truth about the competition. It is a fight to the death. Judging not only the creativity put into the exhibits they create, but testing their stamina and control. But if one must die can there truly be a winner???

    I truly enjoyed this book. It was unique and kept me wondering what would happen next. There were so many twists, surprises and secrets to keep my attention. Plus, the creations of each magician were wonderful to see, er, read about.

    The story of how Celia grew up was heartbreaking. To have your own father enter you into a competition which could render you dead was appalling. She was never allowed a true childhood and never felt good enough. Marco's childhood was equally heartwrenching. Virtually ignored unless he was being tutored by his mentor, he too missed out on a proper childhood. It's no wonder the two were drawn to each other. I can't help but wonder if the way the two were bound to the circus contributed to their attraction. They were not only a part of the circus, but it was a part of them.

    Besides the magicians, the story follows another set of characters and toggles between the two story lines which are both related to the circus. At the end, the two stories finally come together and you understand the significance of the second set. It took me a while to figure out the two stories weren't taking place at the exact same moment in time, but it didn't really bother me too much. I sort of realized who the mysterious female character was early and noted the time difference.

    Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. This was a great debut novel for Ms.Morgenstern and she has a wonderful imagination. So be prepared to embark on a magical journey to a circus like no other and ponder the question, "Do you believe in magic?"

    Note: If you're a member of Goodreads, they're in the final round of picking the winners for their 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards and this book is up for the top choice in Fantasy. If you'd like to vote, here's a link:

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    Winner of the Black Friday Book Bonanza Giveaway Hop

    Winner of the Black Friday Book Bonanza Giveaway Hop and an autographed copy of Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans is:

    I will be sending you an email shortly.

    Early Review of Killing Rites (The Black Sun's Daughter, #4) by M.L.N. Hanover

         "Spells are magic," I said, "And Magic fades. You told me that. Magic fades, and I'm getting stronger."
         "All right," Ex said.
          There should have been a flash of lightning, a crack of thunder. The rain just kept dripping. The TV show went to commercial. I felt Ex's gaze on me like I was a puzzle he couldn't quite fathom. I took a deep breath, sighing it out slowly. When I spoke my voice sounded weirdly calm and matter-of-fact. You know. All things considered.

         "I think I have a rider." (from Vicious Grace)

    At the end of 'Vicious Grace', Jayné reached the conclusion she had a rider in her. In 'Killing Rites', Ex and Jayné attempt to get rid of the rider with the help of Ex's former mentor, Father Chapin. He and his fellow priests perform exorcisms regularly. While it takes some convincing, after seeing her in action they understand why she's sure she's possessed. But during the exorcism something goes very wrong...

    Jayné is truly a fun character. In Vicious Grace, she believed she'd lost her innocence when she lost her "rose colored" view of her uncle, but I don't think she has. Yes, she's wiser than she was before, but she seems to always try to find the good in things (riders and people alike) unless it's obvious there is none. She's stronger than she thinks, but still emotionally vulnerable.

    In this book, we learn more about Ex's background and why he gave up his profession as a priest. The tension created by Ex's and Jayné's seemingly growing attraction was fun to watch. I liked how Jayné realized she was vulnerable because she was no longer with Aubrey and didn't want to start something unless she was sure about her feelings. I also liked how Ex handled things when he said nothing could be started without things being resolved such as her possessing a rider. He'd already been involved with someone who had one, and he wasn't about to take a chance it was the rider in her doing the driving and not Jayné. Talk about complicated.

    The internal conflict Jayné develops in regards to her feeling for her inner rider is a nice touch. It's saved her life more than once, but she can't fathom how having one inside herself can be a good thing. Jayné still doesn't know what the rider capable of or how long its been riding her. Speaking of Jayné's inner demon, we finally find out why the series is called The Black Sun's Daughter. I believe it was taken from the part of the story where Jayné's rider admits: "I am Sonnenrad, The Voice of the Desert," the rider said. "I am the Black Sun and the Black Sun's daughter."

    Midian, the vampire from Unclean Spirits, makes a brief appearance in this book. He disappeared at the end of book one and this is the first time Jayné has crossed paths with him since. It's meeting like these that make me sympathize with Jayné's conflicted feelings toward riders. One of my favorite passages in the book is a conversations which takes place between Midian and Jayné, where Midian imparts some words of wisdom to her. This is from the tail end of the conversation
         "And--this is me talking now--no more stroking your inner victim. Bad for your skin."
         "Yes, Oprah," I said, but I smiled when I said it.
         "Hey. F@ck you too," he said grinning. His teeth were black where they weren't yellow.

    I am loving the series and really loved the book. I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I look forward to seeing where this series goes next.

    Notes to keep you in the know:
    According to wikipedia, "The term Black Sun (German Schwarze Sonne), also referred to as the Sonnenrad (the German for "Sun Wheel"), is a symbol of esoteric oroccult significance. Its design bases on a sun wheel incorporated in a floor of Wewelsburg Castle during the Nazi era. Today, it may also be used in occult currents of Germanic neopaganism, and in Irminenschaft or Armanenschaft-inspired esotericism - but not necessarily in a racial or neo-Nazi context."
    To learn more about the Black Sun, here is a link to wikipedia:

    Order of Series:

    Sunday, November 27, 2011

    Early Review of The Demon Lover (Fairwick Chronicles, #1) by Juliet Dark (Carol Goodman)

         "...I saw him. The fairytale prince from my teenaged dreams. With him came the scent of honeysuckle and salt air I remembered from those dreams and the longing I'd always felt. He stood on the threshold between shadow and moonlight, where he always hesitated...
         He stepped forward into the moonlight." 

         "I could see the places the moonlight touched: the plane of one cheekbone as his head tilted sideways, a lock of his hair falling over his brow, the blade of his shoulder. Each piece of him took shape and weight as the moonlight touched it. It was as if he were made of shadow and the moonlight was the knife sculpting him into being, each stroke of the knife giving him form...and weight." 

    She thought she'd dreamed him...
    She thought things that go bump in the night weren't real...
    Well, you know what they say--two wrongs don't make a right.

    After graduating from college with a PHD, Cailleach (pronounced Kay - lex) McFay, was keeping her job options open. Unlike most new graduates, she had an ace up her sleeve. She'd written a book called 'Sex Lives of the Demon Lovers' and the book had caused her name to get out there. The book had been based off her thesis which had been entitled, 'The Demon Lover in Gothic Literature: Vampires, Beasts, and Incubi'. Fairwick College had a folklore department like no other, and that is what attracted Callie to it. When she went for the interview her plan was to hold off for an offer from her alma mater, New York University. Somehow, after one night in the tiny Catskill village of Fairwick, she'd made up her mind to stay. That was before she realized dreams can come true or should I say can be true???

    This book wasn't at all what I expected--it was more. Juliet Dark did a great job of setting up the groundwork of the world which she is creating for the series. A small college, hidden away in the Catskills mountains has a big secret. It's populated not only by humans, but supernatural beings as well. Additionally, it contains the only doorway left to the world of Faerie. As this is the first book of the series, I'm hoping one of the next books will delve into the land of Faerie.

    I loved the heat created between Callie and her demon lover. Some of those love scenes were extremely hot. I couldn't help but grin when Callie (aka Cailleach) tells him, "You've got a lot to learn about woman, pal. There's more to love than being good in the sack." His response equally had me grinning as she found the words 'What more?" written in salt. I found it interesting that while Callie would love to trust her dream lover, she finds it difficult to do so because of all the lies associated with incubi which exist in folklore. To get at the truth she'll have to cut through all the lies and will second guess herself. She'll have to figure out who to trust and what to believe.

    While the relationship between Callie and her demon lover take center stage during a fair portion of the book, there is more to it than just a romance. There are many secondary characters in the book who are interesting as well. They range from a Faerie queen, to vampires, to a student from a cursed family. Callie's grandmother, who raised her after her parents died is also intriguing. It's seems nothing is as it appears, and the decision to work at the college will change Callie's life forever. She'll learn things about herself, her family, and the world she may never have known if she hadn't decided to go to the Fairwick.

    I liked the secondary story which is about a fictitious author named Dahlia LaMotte. She lived in Honeysuckle House years before Callie did. One of the things that added to Callie's wish to live in Honeysuckle House was that fact she'd have access to all of Dahlia's papers, even those that were never published. Many of Dahlia's stories revolved around a demon lover. While going through Dahlia's papers she realizes her demon lover may have been around for a very long time.

    Another thing included in the book that tickled my fancy were mentions of authors Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. I used to read their books when I was younger. Victoria Holt, incidentally has a book entitled 'The Demon Lover'. Hmmm... Could these be authors that inspired Juliet Dark's own writing?

    The demon lover is not at all what I expected. I liked him more than I would have thought and found myself wishing Callie would/could trust him. The only thing I didn't like was the ending. It came too soon, and I had so many unanswered questions. Luckily, this is the first book in a series. Yay! I hope the second book will include more of the demon lover. He had a story for which I'd like to find out more about. He was once human but captured and kept in Fairie.

    On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earns 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 Overall, I give it 4 out of 5 roses. I thoroughly enjoyed world Ms. Dark created and the story kept me enraptured from the moment I picked it up.

    Friday, November 25, 2011

    Vicious Grace (The Black Sun's Daughter, #3) by M.L.N. Hanover

  • Title: Vicious Grace: Book Three of the Black Sun's Daughter
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Format: Paperback, 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; Original edition (November 30, 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 1439176299
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439176290
  • Author's Website:

  •      The haugsvarmr are riders that possess large structures," Ex said."
         "So like haunted house?" I asked, thinking of Declan Souder's architectural dissections. Ex shook his head.
         "Social structures. Like political parties or nations."
         I stopped looking through the files. I could feel my eyes getting wide and I fought a sense of growing vertigo.
         "Hold on. What?" I said.
         "It hasn't happened often, but it's not unheard of," Ex said. "Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal are probably the first recorded examples. Hitler's Germany was the most recent."
         "Okay, Time-out," I said "World War Two was about riders? Germany was possessed?"
    <time lapse>
         "Do you know why all you can't quite make sense of all this? You live in a morally neutral world. You don't like the idea of evil, and so you don't look for the patterns. Riders are just another kind of insect or amoeba to you. Parasites."
         "And for you?" I said.
         "They're demons," he said.

    Aubrey's ex-wife called asking for help. Something isn't kosher at Grace Memorial, the hospital where she works. A researcher has been able to tap into and record what subjects are dreaming. A dream study uncovers 6 patients in the study all had the same dream. After a little leg work it looks like something was buried alive under the building and it's trying to get out. Theories range from angels to haugsvarmr. Whatever it is it is powerful enough to force it's will and thoughts on people without them being possessed by a rider.

    I'm really loving the series.Jayné is just starting to gain confidence in her new role when the floor gets kicked out from under her.The crew learn a deep dark secret about Eric that will change everything and make them question things. Loyalties and friendship will be put to the test. Not what you need when you have to decide if an ancient being that was imprisoned decades ago underground should be freed or stopped from being unleashed upon the world.

    The book had a nice pace and kept my attention. There is lots of action and fight scenes. We get to find out more of what happened between Aubrey and Kim. We also get a better look at Ex's thoughts on Riders and see a little more of his personality. Jayné will make a self discovery that will end the book in a cliffhanger. This one get a 4 1/2 out of 5 Roses.

    Notes to keep you in the know:
    A passage from the NIV Bible (Ezekiel 38:2-6) 2 “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of[a] Meshek and Tubal; prophesy against him 3 and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, Gog, chief prince of[b] Meshek and TubalI will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. 5 Persia, Cush[c] and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, 6 also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops—the many nations with you."  
    To read more, here is a link to bible gateway: (Other versions include Rosh in with Meshek and Tubal.)

    Order of Series:

    Winner of a set of the Black Sun's Daughter Series By M.L.N. Hanover is:

    The Winner of a set of the Black Sun's Daughter Series
    By M.L.N. Hanover is:

       Voracious Reader

    I'll be sending each of you an email shortly.

    Thank you everyone who entered.

    Closed - Black Friday Book Bonanza Blog Hop Giveaway

    Hosted by Heather from Book Savvy Babe, Jenn from The Bawdy Book Blog, and Lisa from Alive on the Shelves.

    Winner will be notified and their name posted later today
    Thank you everyone who entered

    I am giving away ONE autographed copy of by . Mr Evans stopped by the Tampa area not that long ago and I managed to snag some autographed copies of his first Young Adult book.

    •                                       Hardcover: 336 pages
    •                                       Publisher: Simon Pulse/Mercury Ink; 1 edition (August 9, 2011)
    •                                       Language: English
    •                                       ISBN-10: 1451656505
    •                                       ISBN-13: 978-1451656503

    My name is Michael Vey, and the story I’m about to tell you is strange. Very strange. It’s my story.
    To everyone at Meridian High School, Michael Vey is an ordinary fourteen-year-old. In fact, the only thing that seems to set him apart is the fact that he has Tourette’s syndrome. But Michael is anything but ordinary. Michael has special powers. Electric powers.

    Michael thinks he's unique until he discovers that a cheerleader named Taylor also has special powers. With the help of Michael’s friend, Ostin, the three of them set out to discover how Michael and Taylor ended up this way, but their investigation brings them to the attention of a powerful group who wants to control the electric children – and through them the world. Michael will have to rely on his wits, powers, and friends if he’s to survive.

    Rules to be eligible for giveaway:
    1. Only residents of the US are eligible. 
    2. Please leave either your email address or a link to your Goodreads profile so I may get in contact with you to get your mailing address. No P.O. Boxes, please. If uncomfortable about giving out such information on my blog, please feel free to email me your information at
    3. Become a follower of my blog, if you aren't already.

    Winner will be randomly chosen. Giveaway ends November 27th, midnight eastern time. Winner will be posted on my blog and notified by email or message posted to them via Goodreads. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected. Good Luck!

    !-- start InLinkz script -->

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Darker Angels (The Black Sun's Daughter, #2) by M.L.N. Hanover

    "Eric, it's Karen. I've found it!" a women said. "It's in New Orleans, and I know where it's going next. There's a little girl with Sight, and she says her sister is the next target. I don't know how long I've got. I need you."
    Jayné Heller has spent the past six months attempting to visit the properties her uncle Eric left her. Problem is she's only just scratched the surface. Attempting to learn more about her elusive uncle, she and her crew are creating a wiki of all the papers and artifacts they find at the various locations. While in Athens, Greece at one of the houses her uncle left her, Jayné receives a call from Karen Black, an ex-FBI agent seeking Eric's help. Karen has just uncovered the location of a serial killing rider (demon spirit which latched on to human hosts). More than one of their lives will be put in jeopardy and alliances will be tested. Karen and her crew will need to use all their skills to stop this killer and figure out just what is going on before it's too late.

    I absolutely loved this one. We got a better understanding of riders and learned that some riders might not threaten or destroy their human host. In this book, Jayné will need to gain more confidence in herself and her abilities. She'll also learn a little about her family history that will shock her.

    It was really enjoyable seeing Jayné grow as a person in this one. Put in the seemingly impossible position of stepping into Eric's shoes, she's doing her best she can. It's unbelievable that Eric left his entire "kingdom" to Jayné without an instruction manual. While not particularly feeling that she could ever fill her uncle's shoes, she'll learn to trust her own judgement. We also get an inner view at how the dynamics of Jayné's newly formed "family" works.  

    This one contained many twists and turns that kept my attention. I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. If you haven't read this series yet, you are truly missing out.

    Notes for being in the know: When authors use names for creatures I've never heard of before I can't help but wonder if they totally made them up or if such things exist creatures in mythology or lore. Well, as it turns out I did find information on Loas, Legbas, and Carrefour.

    - According to Wikipedia "The Loa (also Lwa or L'wha) are the spirits of the voodoo religion practiced in Louisiana, Haiti, Benin, and other parts of the world. They are also referred to as Mystères and the Invisibles, in which are intermediaries between Bondye (Bon Dieu, or good god)—the Creator, who is distant from the world—and humanity. Unlike saints or angels however, they are not simply prayed to, they are served. They are each distinct beings with their own personal likes and dislikes, distinct sacred rhythms, songs, dances, ritual symbols, and special modes of service. Contrary to popular belief, the loa are not deities in and of themselves; they are intermediaries for a distant Bondye."

    The following really relates to the series:
    "In a ritual the Loa are summoned by the Houngan (Priest), Mambo (Priestess) or Bokor (Sorcerers) to take part in the service, receive offerings, and grant requests. The Loa arrive in the peristyle (ritual space) by mounting (possessing) a horse (ritualist) - who is said to be "ridden." This can be quite a violent occurrence as the participant can flail about or convulse before falling to the ground, but some Loa, such as Ayizan, will mount their horses very quietly.
    To read more about the Loa, here is a link to Wikipedia: 

    - According to encyclopedia Mythica, "In Voodoo ceremonies, Legba is always the first to be invoked. No Loa, a spirit of the dead, is allowed to enter into the worshippers unless he has Legba's permission. This is because he holds the key to the gate separating the humans' world and the world of the gods."
    To read more about Legba, here is a link to Encyclopedia Mythica:

    - According to Wikipedia Carrefour, "As the name indicates, also controls the crossroads and has the power to grant or deny access to all other Loa, and he allows the "crossing" of bad luck, delibrate destruction, misfortune and injustices"
    To read more about Carrefour here is a link to Wikipedia:

    Order of series:

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Winners of the Great Scots and Highland Heat Tour

    Winners of the Great Scots & Highland Heat Tour:
     Diana, June M. and MBreakfield
    I'll be sending each of you an email shortly.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Unclean Spirits (The Black Sun's Daughter, #1) by M.L.N. Hanover

    "Your uncle was a very rich man," she said."He left all his assets specifically and exclusively to you. And you had no idea that was his intention?" 

    When Jayné (pronounced Zha-nay) Heller's uncle, Eric, died she thought the reason he'd fallen out with her overly religious family was that he was gay. Her father had called his brother "a pervert and an abominations before God." She'd just assumed he must be gay. In reality, the truth was something entirely different. Her uncle was not who she thought he was, and she was just finding out she really didn't know the man she depended on to get her out of jams when she was younger.

    "The generic term's riders. They get inside a person, and they change them. Make them do things, make them want to do things. Give them freaky powers. Normal people who've got a feel for it and the right training--call 'em wizards or witches or cunning men or whatever--they can do some pretty weird sh*t, but nothing compared to what riders are capable of."

    He'd never told her anything about his life. She hadn't known what he did. Her uncle, she was finding out, had been a self appointed vigilante on a mission to rid the world of unclean spirits (aka riders). Little did she know when she stepped off the plane in Denver, she had just walked into Eric's world, and her life would never be the same...

    This was a really fun story. I loved the mystery of who Eric was and that we didn't get the full picture in this book, just a taste. I enjoyed finding things out as Jayné did. I think having Jayné go in clueless was a brilliant way to introduce us to the world Hanover created--a world which is dangerous and intriguing. It reminds me a touch of 'Invasion of the Body Snatcher', only the snatchers aren't aliens but rather spirits, demons if you will, instead. The invasion of these creatures explains how werewolves, vampires, and other such creatures came to be.

    Jayné is a strong and smart young woman who is almost as mysterious as her Uncle Eric. Everyone believes that her uncle must have put some sort of ward on her for protection, but I'm not sure about that. An incident which Jayné recounts having happened when she was 16 makes me wonder if there isn't more to the story than you take note of at first glance. When Jayné finds herself in dangerous situations she goes from untrained young woman to a kick@ss heroine. It's almost like a switch has been flipped.

    The secondary characters are as interesting a Jayné. They all knew her uncle and help her fill in some of the blanks about him. There's Aubrey, who is a research biologist whose expertise is in parasitology. Ex is an ex-priest who can perform exorcisms. Chogyi Jake, whose background I'm unsure of, reminds me a bit of a young version of Mr. Miyagi from from the Karate kid. He tends to guide Jayné and make her work things out. There is also a character named Midian who introduces Jayné to the world of the riders. He's a vampire who her uncle had formed an alliance with.

    Besides inheriting her uncle's assets, it appears she's also inherited his enemies. While checking out one of her newly inherited properties, she comes across Midian. While the two are chatting, they are attacked by the people who Midian believes killed Jayné's uncle and that's when she realizes she herself is in danger.

    The story flows at a good pace. It's filled with lots of action and keeps your attention. Definitely a series I'd recommend and I'm already hooked on. I can't believe I hadn't heard of this series before. I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses.

    Order of series:

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Closed - Giveaway and Interview with Margaret Mallory & Amanda Scott - The Great Scots and Highland Heat Tour

    Two Great Authors and Two Great Books

    The Sinner (Return of the Highlanders #2)
    Four fearless warriors return to the Highlands to claim their lands and legacies. But all their trials on the battlefield can't prepare them for their greatest challenge yet: winning the hearts of four willful Scottish beauties.
    Alex MacDonald is known for his skill as a warrior, his prowess with women, and his vow to never take a wife. But now his chieftain has asked him to make the ultimate sacrifice: wed Glynis MacNeil, a lass famed throughout the Highlands for her exquisite beauty-and defiant ways.
    Familiar with heartbreak, Glynis refuses to fall for another handsome scoundrel. Yet when Alex's past sins force an unlikely union, Glynis gives in to temptation and becomes his wife. Will their newfound passion be strong enough to fight the enemy that threatens their home, their clan, and their very lives?

    Highland Hero (Scottish Knights #2)

    Lady Marsi Cargill refuses to marry a man who wants her land rather than her love. To escape her arranged betrothal, she disguises her noble lineage and accompanies her young cousin--the future King of Scots--on a secret journey across the Highlands. Their guide is a mysterious knight known only as Hawk. Heat flares between the beautiful maid and the brooding warrior, but when Marsi's true identity is revealed, Hawk's desire gives way to fury...
    Summoned by the King to guard his son, Sir Ivor "Hawk" Mackintosh now has two royals to protect. This daring, willful woman has invaded Hawk's every thought, and laid siege to his heart. Soon the solitary soldier is yearning for a life with Marsi at his side and in his bed. But as their passion grows, so too does the danger surrounding them. Powerful enemies watch their every move, and to survive, Hawk and Marsi must fight for Scotland's future-as well as their own new-found love.

    Follow her on Twitter:!/search/margaret%20mallory

    Q&A with Margaret Mallory

    Besides having a good chemistry what do you feel makes a good romance hero and heroine and how do you try to incorporate that into your stories?
    Margaret:  I think both the hero and the heroine need to be heroic so I put them into situations in which they can show their willingness to sacrifice themselves or what they want for a higher cause or to protect someone else.  When a child or a friend is at risk of harm, my hero and heroine will step up, no matter what it costs them. They will face their worst enemy or greatest fear, if need be, to save their clan and those they love.

    Lisarenee:  What is the funnest and/or the most rewarding thing about being a romance author?

    Margaret:  Hands down, it’s hearing from readers who love my books.  This can be a tough business in many ways, but the messages from readers make up for all the hard parts. 

    Lisarenee: Inspiration can come from many places and things. What sparked the idea for Return of the Highlanders series and, more specifically, 'The Sinner'?

    Margaret:  History inspires me. Because I write adventurous romances, I look for a period with a lot of conflict. I found exactly what I wanted in the year 1513, in the wake of the Scots’ disastrous loss to Henry VIII’s forces at the Battle of Flodden.  The chaos that followed gave me the opportunity to have my four Highland heroes return from France to find their king and chieftain dead, a rebellion brewing, factions fighting for control of the crown, and their clan in grave danger. What fun! 
           I still had to find a clan for my Highland heroes. When I discovered that the first chieftain of the MacDonalds of Sleat had six sons by six different women and that the animosity among the six sons led to two generations of murder, I knew I had found my clan.
           Alex is the bad boy of this series. Because this charming rogue is so set against being married, I had to pair him up with a serious-minded heroine who is adamantly opposed to marriage, particularly to a known philanderer like him.

    Lisarenee:  What do you feel it is about historical romances that draws so many people to them and (this may very well be the same answer) what inspires you to write them?

    Margaret: I’ve always loved history, and historical romance gives me the opportunity to write dramatic, adventurous tales. I think historical romance readers enjoy the escape of getting lost in another time. And if the men wear kilts and swing swords, all the better.  ;) 

    Lisarenee: Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions and for sharing your wonderful stories.


    Q&A with Amanda Scott

    Lisarenee: Besides having a good chemistry what do you feel makes a good romance hero and heroine and how do you try to incorporate that into your stories?

    Amanda: To answer this question properly would take a book, because “good chemistry” includes many factors besides sex. A shared sense of humor plus any number of complementary, shared, and wholly conflicting character traits are necessary in one way or another. As for “incorporating,” it’s always part of the initial planning. I write detailed outlines.

    Lisarenee: What is the most romantic thing you've ever had done for you or that you've heard someone doing for someone else?
    Amanda: My brother-in-law “kidnapped” my sister and whisked her off to Disneyland for her birthday. She has always loved that magical place and hadn’t been there for years. He planned everything, even packed her clothes for her (and didn’t forget a thing!) Then he called me and asked if my husband and I would look after their dogs. I’d already invited the two of them for dinner the evening before her birthday, so we readjusted the time to accommodate their flight. Then, instead of taking her home after dinner, and without saying a word about where they were going, he drove to the airport. They stayed at the Disneyland Hotel, enjoyed 3 romantic days and nights there, and had a fabulous time.

    Lisarenee: What is the funnest and/or the most rewarding thing about being a romance author?

    Amanda: Getting to meet new readers and longtime fans regularly at Scottish games and other book signings. Nothing can beat that, although I’ve also been privileged, as a writer, to meet some astonishing and fascinating people that I might not otherwise have met at all. The first such meeting that comes to mind was years ago, when I visited the Brighton Theater (south coast of England) with my husband. I wanted to get a look inside a theater that had existed during England’s Regency period. It wasn’t open, but a woman was doing something in the ticket booth, so I told her that I was an author writing about the Regency, and she introduced us to an elderly man who had worked at the theater since he was a teenager. He took us to the royal box’s “sitting room,” which has the theater’s royal charter framed on the wall. I don’t recall the King who signed it, although it was long before the Regency. I think it was Charles I. On another trip, a guard at the Brighton Pavilion answered a couple of questions (one of which led him to open a game table to show me how it worked) and then said he was going off duty and would be glad to walk the rest of the way with me. Since I met him in the long gallery just beyond the entryway, he essentially guided my “tour” of the place. He was very knowledgeable, so it was a wonderful and educational experience for me!

    Lisarenee: Inspiration can come from many places and things. What sparked the idea for Scottish Knights Trilogy and, more specifically, 'Highland Hero'?

    Amanda: Most inspiration comes from the historical research or from intriguing characteristics of people I know or meet. For Scottish Knights, I was looking for an unusual way to connect the heroes of the three books. I did not want brothers or cousins and had introduced Bishop Traill of St. Andrews as a character in previous books. He was an educator and taught Jamie Stewart (later James I of Scotland), among others. After Traill’s death, his successor Bishop Henry Wardlaw extended the tutoring that Traill had begun to the founding of St. Andrews University. I also wanted to continue using the ambitious and ruthless first Duke of Albany as my primary villain. Since Traill and Albany had numerous run-ins, most of which the bishop won handily, I decided to have Bishop Traill cultivate some of his most promising students into a brotherhood from which he could summon aid when a task required it. So my heroes for Scottish Knights became three close friends, all knights who had studied together under Bishop Traill but who had never, as students, known each other’s real names. Each also has a particular skill at which they are one of the best in Scotland. Their goal in the trilogy is to do all that they can to help the rightful heirs of Robert III, King of Scots, counter the murderous efforts of their wicked uncle to seize Scotland’s throne. In Highland Hero, Sir Ivor Mackintosh, known at St. Andrews only as “Hawk,” is summoned by the King and asked to transport his grace’s younger son, seven year old Jamie Stewart, in secrecy, across Scotland to the safety of Bishop Traill’s guardianship at St. Andrews Castle. The inspiration for the plot came from a Scottish bard’s tale that I’d read, which also resulted in Ivor’s being named Ivor (meaning archer) and his having become the finest archer in Scotland. Chapter 1 of Highland Hero is posted on my website: If readers have questions or comments, there is also a link there to my email, which is .
    Lisarenee: In your biography on your website, it says you started writing romances on a dare from your husband. So we have your husband to thank (besides you) for all your wonderful books?  Can you tell us a little more about that?

    Amanda: My husband was in the Air Force, a targets officer for the Strategic Air Command on America’s airborne command post, known as the “Looking Glass” or “Doomsday Plane.” One of them was in the air 24/7 at that time, so his job meant that he was ‘on alert’ for 2 or 3 days at a time. To entertain themselves during their off-time, the guys played poker, and he is very good at poker. Meantime, I’d be home alone in our one-streetlight town near Omaha, reading my way through the town’s tiny library and throwing books across the room because the authors had done so little research. He saw me do that one day and asked me why. I said, “I could do better than that myself.” He asked me if I’d like to write, and I realized then that I would, very much. I had already researched and written the text for the photo-essay book Omaha City Architecture, and I’d played with an idea for a historical novel since college and even written a few scenes. That weekend, he asked me if I REALLY wanted to write. When I said yes, he took me to the famous Nebraska Furniture Mart, chose a spectacularly beautiful leather-topped desk despite my insistence that it was far too expensive, had me ‘try on’ chairs and try out lamps until I found ones I liked, and then bought me the whole setup with his poker winnings and told me to get to it. NOT to have at least tried to write a book after that would have been a betrayal of the highest order. So I wrote The Fugitive Heiress and sent it to an agent, who sent it to an editor at Signet, who bought it. That was 58 books ago.
    Lisarenee: Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions and for sharing your wonderful stories.

    Winners are:
    June M.
    Thank you everyone who entered.

    The wonderful folks at Forever Romance are allowing me to give away 3 sets of 2 books. The books included in each set are:
    1.  The Sinner (Return of the Highlanders #2) by Margaret Mallory
    2.  Highland Hero (Scottish Knights #2) by Amanda Scott

    Rules to be eligible for giveaway:
    1. Only residents of the US or Canada are eligible. 
    2. Please leave either your email address or a link to your Goodreads profile so I may get in contact with you to get your mailing address. No P.O. Boxes, please. If uncomfortable about giving out such information on my blog, please feel free to email me your information at
    3. Become a follower of my blog, if you aren't already.
    4. Must be 18 years old or older.
    5. Leave a comment or question or comment for Margaret Mallory and/or Amanda Scott.

    Winners will be randomly chosen. Books will be sent directly from publisher. Giveaway ends November 21st, midnight eastern time. Winners will be posted on my blog and notified by email or message posted to them via Goodreads. Winners will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected.

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