Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Interview and Giveaway--Shadow of Night (the sequel to A Discovery of Witches) and alchemical symbol buttons

Deborah Harkness
Check out her website: http://deborahharkness.com/
Follow her on Twitter: @DebHarkness
'Like' her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Deborah-Harkness/163048101811

My life has been a series of left turns that nevertheless took me in the right direction (though it didn't always seem so at the time). I went to college to be a theater major and ended up studying the Renaissance. I went to grad school to become a college administrator and loved to teach so much I became a college professor instead. I thought I wanted to be a Tudor-Stuart historian, and found myself a historian of science. I started blogging because a friend needed help on a project in 2006 and am still blogging about wine today. I started writing a novel in the fall of 2008, and it became a New York Times Bestseller in February 2011: A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES. The second volume in the All Souls Trilogy, SHADOW OF NIGHT, came out in July 2012 and debuted at #1 on the NEW YORK TIMES Bestseller's List. What's next? The final volume of the trilogy, of course. (Found on GoodReads)

(Used with permission from the Publisher)

Q: A Discovery of Witches debuted at # 2 on the New York Times bestseller list with publications following in 37 countries. What has been your reaction to the outpouring of love for A Discovery of Witches? Was it surprising how taken fans were with Diana and Matthew’s story?

A. It has been amazing—and a bit overwhelming. I was surprised by how quickly readers embraced two central characters who challenge our typical notion of what a heroine or hero should be. And I continue to be amazed whenever a new reader pops up, whether one in the US or somewhere like Finland or Japan—to tell me how much they enjoyed being caught up in Diana’s world.

Q: Last summer, Warner Brothers acquired screen rights to the trilogy, and David Auburn, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer of Proof, has been tapped to pen the screenplay. Are you looking forward to your novels being portrayed on the big screen? What are your favorite casting ideas that you’ve heard from friends and readers?

A. I was thrilled when Warner Brothers wanted to translate the All Souls trilogy from book to screen. At first I was reluctant about the whole idea of a movie, and it actually took me nearly two years to agree to let someone try. The team at Warner Brothers impressed me with their seriousness about the project and their commitment to the characters and story I was trying to tell. Their decision to go with David Auburn confirmed that my faith in them was not misplaced. As for the casting, I deliberately don’t say anything about that! I would hate for any actor or actress to be cast in one of these roles and feel that they didn’t have my total support. I will say, however, that many of my readers’ ideas involve actors who have already played a vampire and I would be very surprised if one of them were asked to be Matthew!

Q: SHADOW OF NIGHT opens on a scene in 1590s Elizabethan England featuring the famous School of Night, a group of historical figures believed to be friends, including Sir Walter Raleigh and playwright Christopher Marlowe. Why did you choose to feature these individuals, and can we expect Diana and Matthew to meet other famous figures from the past? 

A. I wrote my master’s thesis on the imagery surrounding Elizabeth I during the last two decades of her reign. One of my main sources was the poem The Shadow of Night by George Chapman—a member of this circle of fascinating men—and that work is dedicated to a mysterious poet named Matthew Roydon about whom we know very little. When I was first thinking about how vampires moved in the world (and this was way back in the autumn of 2008 when I was just beginning A Discovery of Witches) I remembered Roydon and thought “that is the kind of identity a vampire would have, surrounded by interesting people but not the center of the action.” From that moment on I knew the second part of Diana and Matthew’s story would take place among the School of Night. And from a character standpoint, Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe, George Chapman, and the other men associated with the group are irresistible. They were such significant, colorful presences in Elizabethan England.

Q: In SHADOW OF NIGHT, we learn more about the alchemical bonds between Diana and Matthew. In your day job, you are a professor of history and science at the University of Southern California and have focused on alchemy in your research. What aspects of this intersection between science and magic do you hope readers will pick up on while reading SHADOW OF NIGHT? 

A. Whereas A Discovery of Witches focused on the literature and symbolism of alchemy, in Shadow of Night I’m able to explore some of the hands-on aspects of this ancient tradition. There is still plenty of symbolism for Diana to think about, but in this volume we go from abstractions and ideals to real transformation and change—which was always my intention with the series. Just as we get to know more about how Elizabethan men and women undertook alchemical experiments, we also get to see Matthew and Diana’s relationship undergo the metamorphosis from new love to something more.

Q: SHADOW OF NIGHT spans the globe, with London, France, and Prague as some of the locales. Did you travel to these destinations for your research? 

A. I did. My historical research has been based in London for some time now, so I’ve spent long stretches of time living in the City of London—the oldest part of the metropolis—but I had never been to the Auvergne or Prague. I visited both places while writing the book, and in both cases it was a bit like traveling in time to walk village lanes, old pilgrim roads, and twisting city streets while imagining Diana and Matthew at my side. 

Q: Did you have an idea or an outline for SHADOW OF NIGHT when you were writing A Discovery of Witches? Did the direction change once you sat down to write it?

A. I didn’t outline either book in the traditional sense. In both cases I knew what some of the high points were and how the plot moved towards the conclusion, but there were some significant changes during the revision process. This was especially true for SHADOW OF NIGHT, although most of those changes involved moving specific pieces of the plot forward or back to improve the momentum and flow.

Q: A Discovery of Witches begins with Diana Bishop stumbling across a lost, enchanted manuscript called Ashmole 782 in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, whose secrets Diana and Matthew are still trying to uncover in SHADOW OF NIGHT. You had a similar experience while you were completing your dissertation. What was the story behind your discovery? And how did it inspire the creation of these novels?

A. I did discover a manuscript—not an enchanted one, alas—in the Bodleian Library. It was a manuscript owned by Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer, the mathematician and alchemist John Dee. In the 1570s and 1580s he became interested in using a crystal ball to talk to angels. The angels gave him all kinds of instructions on how to manage his life at home, his work—they even told him to pack up his family and belongings and go to far-away Poland and Prague. In the conversations, Dee asked the angels about a mysterious book in his library called “the Book of Soyga” or “Aldaraia.” No one had ever been able to find it, even though many of Dee’s other books survive in libraries throughout the world. In the summer of 1994 I was spending time in Oxford between finishing my doctorate and starting my first job. It was a wonderfully creative time, since I had no deadlines to worry about and my dissertation on Dee’s angel conversations was complete. As with most discoveries, this discovery of a “lost” manuscript was entirely accidental. I was looking for something else in the Bodleian’s catalogue and in the upper corner of the page was a reference to a book called “Aldaraia.” I knew it couldn’t be Dee’s book, but I called it up anyway. And it turned out it WAS the book (or at least a copy of it). With the help of the Bodleian’s Keeper of Rare Books, I located another copy in the British Library.

Q: Are there other lost books like this in the world? 

A. Absolutely! Entire books have been written about famous lost volumes—including works by Plato, Aristotle, and Shakespeare to name just a few. Libraries are full of such treasures, some of them unrecognized and others simply misfiled or mislabeled. And we find lost books outside of libraries, too. In January 2006, a completely unknown manuscript belonging to one of the 17th century’s most prominent scientists, Robert Hooke, was discovered when someone was having the contents of their house valued for auction. The manuscript included minutes of early Royal Society meetings that we presumed were lost forever.

Q: Unlike Twilight’s Bella and Edward—hormonal teenagers who meet in the halls of a high school—your leading characters Matthew and Diana are established academics who meet in the library of one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world. This is a world where vampires and witches drink wine together, practice yoga and discuss philosophy. Are these characters based on something you found missing in the fantasy genre?

A. There are a lot of adults reading young adult books, and for good reason. Authors who specialize in the young adult market are writing original, compelling stories that can make even the most cynical grownups believe in magic. In writing A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, I wanted to give adult readers a world no less magical, no less surprising and delightful, but one that included grown-up concerns and activities. These are not your children’s vampires and witches.


Shadow of Night comes out in paperback today, May 28th, and to celebrate Penguin is allowing me to give away ONE copy of the book and these alchemical symbol buttons to one winner:

Shadow of Night


Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library,she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened.

Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.

Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers...

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

Winner will be randomly chosen. Giveaway ends June 1st, 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!

I’d also like to invite you to join Harkness and her editor Carole DeSanti, the author of The Unruly Passions of Eugénie R, for a virtual book event on BookTalk Nation on June 4th at 2pm EST. Fans can join by phone and buy personalized copies of the book by ordering online here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meet author Rochelle Alers and Giveaway of Haven Creek

Rochelle Alers
Follow her on Twitter: @rochellealers

Rochelle Alers has been hailed by readers and booksellers alike as one of today's most prolific and popular African American authors of romance and women's fiction.

With more than fifty titles and nearly two million copies of her novels in print, Ms. Alers is a regular on the Waldenbooks, Borders and Essence bestseller lists, regularly chosen by Black Expressions Book Club, and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Gold Pen Award, the Emma Award, Vivian Stephens Award for Excellence in Romance Writing, the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award and the Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award.

She is a member of the Iota Theta Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and her interests include gourmet cooking and traveling. She has traveled to Europe, and countries in North, South and Central America. Her future travel plans include visits to Hong Kong and New Zealand. Ms. Alers is also in accomplished in knitting, crocheting and needlepoint. She is currently taking instruction in the art of hand quilting.

Oliver, a toy Yorkshire terrier has become the newest addition to her family. When she's not barking at passing school buses, the tiny dog can be found sleeping on her lap while she spends hours in front of the computer.

A full-time writer, Ms. Alers lives in a charming hamlet on Long Island.

~ The Q&A ~

Lisarenee: You’ve been writing now for 25 years. That is quite a milestone. Does it feel that long or do you feel like it was just yesterday that you got your first published? Do you still remember the moment when you first realized you were going to be a published author? Did you do anything special to commemorate the experience or celebrate?

Rochelle: There are times when I do feel as if I’ve been writing for 25 years. It’s when I try and convince myself to stay in bed and sleep away the day. But then I’m not able to sleep soundly because the characters in my current book are screaming at me to get up and finish their story so they can live happily ever after. The moment Veronica Mixon, an editor at Doubleday, called to tell me she wanted to buy my manuscript will stay with me forever. It was December 10, 1997, a cold, rainy day on Long Island, and around two in the afternoon. I worked in a building with lawyers who were seeing clients, so I couldn’t scream. After the telephone call ended I went outside to the parking lot, turned on my car’s radio and let out a primal yell. Once I got home I called everyone who’d held my hand during my journey to become a published author to give them the good news. Exactly one year later I hosted a book signing at a converted firehouse in Freeport, NY with my family, friends and elected officials. 200 people braved single-digit cold to eat, drink, and dance and to take home multiple copies of Careless Whispers. 

Lisarenee: LOL It sounds like you had a great time. 

So I’m a little curious, in the time period since you’ve been writing, have you noticed any major or minor trends in the industry? For instance, some say romances are becoming more “daring” in their content and the popularity of books like 50 Shades of Grey emphasize this. What do you think? (Side note: If you would prefer not to answer the last bit because you feel it puts you, as a writer, on the spot, feel free to cross it out and ignore it. That wasn’t my intent.) 

Rochelle: I don’t mind answering this question, because I also question the major shift in what now constitutes a romance. I grew up reading Harlequin romances and whenever I opened of these books I knew exactly what to expect. In other words, there were no surprises. Even when the sweet romances transitioned – becoming more sensual I still loved reading them. There’s the quote – a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. However, it’s not the same with romance. The rise in popularity of books like 50 Shades of Grey should not be labeled romance, but erotica. I believe publishers are deceiving readers when certain titles in bookstores are shelved in the romance section. The genre may have matured to become more inclusive of what constitutes a romance, while the readers from the 80s who bought enough novels to sink 100 ships the size of the Titanic or the Queen Mary have become much more selective. They are still looking for books with characters that will sweep them away for a few hours. They want sexual tension. And more than anything they want to read about a growing relationship between the hero and heroine, and not impromptu encounters that require safe words. Traditional romance readers aren’t asking publishers to close the bedroom door again. They just want more choices.

Lisarenee: Lately I’ve been seeing a new trend finding its way to bookshelves in bookstores where romances which feature black and interracial couples are being spotlighted and grouped together. I thought  that was nice because, quite frankly, before that I seldom saw books which featured those types of romances, and have no clue how you would go about finding them. Do you like this new trend? Was it much needed?

Rochelle: Love is colorblind and regardless of the color of the skin of characters if it is a romance, then it should be shelved in the romance section. There was a time when I had a problem locating my titles in the romance section at Borders. Then I was informed they were in the Black Studies and Literature section. If it reads romance on the spine of the book, then why not shelve it with the other romance titles? And yes, I do like the new trend. Not only is it needed, but a wise marketing strategy. 

Lisarenee: Wow! Someone obviously wasn't thinking. Who would think to look there? 

We all know great chemistry between the hero and heroine in a romance is important, but what else do feel is necessary to creating a good romance?

Rochelle: Great chemistry is important between the hero and heroine but likeability is just as important. The reader must not only like them but also care what will happen to them.

Lisarenee: That is very true. I once rated a book a one star because I didn't want the heroine to end up with the supposed hero. lol 

Could you fill in the following blanks? You will never find _________ in one of my books, but you will always find ___________. (Side note: You can be as vague or detailed as you like, so if you want to fill in the first with a sad ending and the second with a happy ending feel free.) 

Rochelle: You will never find gratuitous sex in one of my books, but you will always find the hero willing to sacrifice any and everything, including his life, for the love of the heroine.

Lisarenee:  From what I’ve heard from writers, inspiration can happen at the strangest and most inconvenient time. Have you ever had that happen, and if so, can you tell us about it?

Rochelle: Writers are natural voyeurs, listening and watching everything going on around them. My inspiration came from viewing a “60 Minutes” news segment more than 20 years ago. An American woman had asked the FBI to go after her estranged foreign-born husband because he’d abducted her son, taking him to Sweden. The federal agents refused because her husband was a citizen of a foreign country. Her recourse: hire a mercenary or soldier of fortune to get her child back. I found the story so fascinating that I based Hidden Agenda on the storyline, and Matthew Sterling and Eve Blackwell went on to become my most compatible hero and heroine. 

Lisarenee: That sounds like an interesting book. Now I'm going to have to get my hands on a copy of it. : ) 

What inspired your recent book, Haven Creek, and the series for which it’s a part, Cavanaugh Island? 

Rochelle: Cavanaugh Island is the result of curiosity. I grew up curious as to why my grandfather, who was born in Savannah, Georgia, spoke with an accent. Yes, I said accent and not a drawl or inflection. I was curious why I’d grown up with my mother adhering to certain traditions and/or superstitions I’d believed were ridiculous. My curiosity was finally assuaged after I made my first trip to the Lowcountry where I found women weaving sweetgrass baskets and many of the older residents speaking the Gullah dialect. I reconnected with my roots with subsequent trips that included several tours, and because of the richness of this very unique culture that has survived more than 300 years I knew I wanted to celebrate it with this very personal fictional series.

Lisarenee: When I read a really good book, sometimes I feel a tad bit guilty that the author who writes the story never gets to truly experience their creation like we, the readers, do. I love reading books where the character is extremely different from me and makes choices I wouldn’t. But then I thought about it-- you get to pick the lives your characters will lead. So that made me wonder have you ever create a character because you’ve secretly always wanted to be or do something? Have you ever draped one of your characters in a career or lifestyle that you’ve always thought would be fun? If so, can you give us an example of such a character or book? Can the writing experience be a bit like playing dress up with words?

Rochelle: I love this question, because writing is exactly that. Playing dress up with words. Whenever I create a character – the heroine in particular – I tend to role-play with her. I give her a career and situations that are plausible. Thereby making her believable and relatable. I wanted to be social worker Kara Newell from Angels Landing who inherits a large estate on Cavanaugh Island and discovers a secret family she never knew she had. Being uprooted from all that is familiar to fulfill the wish of a dead man is both frightening and exciting, but along the way she discovers her Gullah roots, while finding love with a man when she least expects it is an added bonus.

Lisarenee: As you’ve been writing books for 25 years, have you ever picked up one of your earlier works and been able to experience it like reader instead of an author? I once picked up a paper I wrote in college and thought to myself, "I wrote that?"  Parts of it I remembered, but not all. It was kind of a neat experience. Now, a paper in college is a small thing as compared to writing a book, so I was curious if writers ever experience the same sort of thing I did? Have you? Is it fun to go back and read something you yourself wrote years ago, or do you tend to not enjoy it because you view it through a critical eye and can’t help but think if you had to do it all again, you’d do certain things differently? 

Rochelle: I’ve picked up a few of my earlier titles and ask myself, “Did I really write that?” Or what mood was I in or what music was I listening to when I wrote a particular scene. As a writer I’m very critical of my work. Fortunately there isn’t any title I wish I hadn’t written. However, there are a few given the opportunity I’d like to revise. I don’t know about other writers, but I tend to get into a zone and don’t surface until I’m finished with a particular scene. Overall, I’m quite content with the books I’ve written even if I struggle with attempting to make the current title at least as satisfying as the last one. I’m aware that I can’t please every reader but writing isn’t easy. It takes an active imagination, discipline and a wonderful editor to make the words come alive on the page. 

Lisarenee: We, the readers, can live a thousand lives or fall in love a thousand times by reading a book, but do writers experience something similar when writing them? The most frequent advice I hear to new authors is to write what you know, but I’m curious if it should be rephrased to write what you love and are passionate about and what interests you? What is your opinion?

Rochelle: It is all of the above. Firstly you have to write about what you know. If you don’t know, then research it. There are no shortcuts to research. I discovered this when I created a veterinarian who specialized in the study of wolves. Then you must write about what you love and believe. There are some authors who don’t like or believe in romance, yet they write it and this comes across in the novel. The characters may be in a relationship, but it is not a romantic relationship. The result is readers complaining that the novel was more women’s fiction than romance. I’m an incurable romantic, in love with love and passionate about writing about love. As a woman I know what I want and expect from a man in a relationship, and I believe this comes across in my novels. I’d have to question a new author who hasn’t had a positive romantic relationship whether she’s able to write about one. I’d tell her to identify all of the things that went wrong and then list how she would correct them. Again, this means doing a little research even if that research is creating a little soul searching.

Lisarenee: What is the best advice you were ever given regarding writing? What advice would you give to any writers struggling to make it in the industry? 

Rochelle: An editor told me to read, read, and read some more in the genre you wish to write. I followed her advice and read more than 2,000 romance novels before I’d attempted to write and complete one. An aspiring writer must believe in his/herself. That it is possible to realize your dream if you remain focused. I usually tell them never show your work to friends and family members, who deem themselves experts and either suggest you change something or want to claim credit for your success once you’re published. Then there are the naysayers who tell you it won’t or can’t happen. Distance yourself from them and carve out time and a space in which to write. Even if you complete one page each day you’ll have a complete book at the end of the year. And please don’t do what I did at the beginning of my writing career: procrastinate. I found every excuse not to write, but once I identified what I could do without the road to publication was easier to navigate.

Lisarenee: Thank you, Rochelle, for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some of our questions. If you haven't read one of Rochelle's books, here's a some information about her Cavanaugh Island series: 
 photo rosety1.gif

The Cavanaugh Island Series:

Sanctuary Cove

Sometimes love is the simplest choice of all.

Still reeling from her husband's untimely death, Deborah Robinson needs a fresh start. So she decides to pack up her family, box up her bookstore, and return to her grandmother's ancestral home on Cavanaugh Island. The charming town of Sanctuary Cove holds happy memories for Deborah. And, after she spies a gorgeous stranger in the local bakery, it promises the possibility for a bright, new future.

Dr. Asa Monroe is at a crossroads. Ever since the loss of his family, he has been on a quest for faith and meaning, traveling from one town to another. When he meets Deborah, the beautiful bookstore owner with the warm eyes and sunny smile, Asa believes he has finally found a reason to stay in one place.

As friendship blossoms into romance, Deborah and Asa discover they may have a second chance at love. But small towns have big secrets. Before they can begin their new life together, the couple must confront a challenge they never expected . . .

Angels Landing

Sometimes love can take you by surprise. 

Kara Newell has a big-city life that needs a major shake-up. Her dedication as a social worker is unwavering, yet her heart tells her that there is more to life than just work. Kara gets the push she needs when she shockingly inherits a large estate on an island off the South Carolina coast. Now the charming town of Angels Landing awaits her . . . along with a secret family she never knew she had.

After surviving war, loss, and heartbreak, ex-marine Jeffrey Hamilton takes his position as sheriff of idyllic Cavanaugh Island very seriously. So he is the perfect person to watch over the beautiful, confident woman who has turned her new family's expectations upside down-and stepped into the crosshairs of angry local residents.

But soon Kara becomes more than just a job to him, and he begins to need her in ways he never expected. As Kara and Jeffrey confront the town gossips together, they'll learn to face their fears and forgive their pasts in order to find a future filled with happiness in Angels Landing.

Haven Creek

Home is where the heart is. 

Architect Morgan Dane has always lived according to a plan, crossing off her achievements one by one. But when she's offered her dream job-the restoration of historic Angels Landing Plantation on beautiful Cavanaugh Island-Morgan's life takes an unexpected turn.

Carpenter Nathaniel Shaw once took a big chance on commitment-and lost. Needing the healing comforts of home, he returns to Haven Creek to join the family business. Nothing in the small town has changed-except for Morgan Dane. The wallflower he knew in high school has grown into a beautiful woman . . . and stirs feelings Nate isn't sure he's ready for.

Together Nate and Morgan find a happiness neither could have predicted. But when secrets from the past come to light, their budding relationship is threatened. Will they play it safe, or risk their hearts to build a life together?


I'm giving away to one lucky member ONE copy of 

Rochell Aler's latest book, Haven Creek.

Rules of Eligibility:

1. Only residents of the US who are 18 years or older are eligible.
2. Please leave your email address so I may get in contact with you to get your mailing address. No P.O. Boxes, please.
3. Become a follower of my blog, if you aren't already. (Required)

Winner will be randomly chosen. Giveaway ends June 1st, 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!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 27, 2013

Early Review of Haven Creek (Cavanaugh Island #3) by Rochelle Alers

  • Title: Haven Creek (A Cavanaugh Island Novel)
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Format: Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Forever (May 28, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1455501395
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455501397
Author's Website: http://www.rochellealers.org/

She wasn't looking for a relationship
Neither was he
She was too busy with her career
He was too busy getting over his ex
She intrigued him
He confused her
She made him want things he thought he might be denied
He made her want things she'd thought she'd put off till the future

Sometimes, when you least expect it, love finds you


This is the third book int he Cavanaugh Island series. If you haven't read the previous books, you will probably want to do so because this one does reveal some spoilers for them. You won't, however, feel lost if you go ahead and dive right into this one. I know I didn't. 

Morgan Dane is a very caring and giving sort of person. She doesn't hesitate to help out someone in need. She's also a very smart and savvy career oriented woman who is looking to expand her business. She recently started her own architect and interior design firm and has just landed her dream project--restoring Angels Landing plantation, a designated National Historic Landmark. Her recent parting of ways with her former employer, Ellison and Murphy, has her former co-workers saying she's disloyal, inexperienced, and a traitor, but she's determined to prove them all wrong. The project is slated to take 3 to 5 years, and she needs to hire the right people to restore the estate to it's original glory. The number one business she wants to secure is the Shaw family's furniture-making business. They are the best of the best when it comes to woodworking and make exquisite pieces. With their involvement, the restoration is destined to be a success. Seeing Nathan Shaw again, however, awakened feeling she'd long ago secretly harbored for the man years ago. Feelings she isn't sure she wishes to revisit at this time in her career.

Nathaniel Shaw had left Cavanaugh Island after high school and had never looked back until his younger brother needed some straightening out. His marriage to a supermodel had ended badly, and having no other pressing commitments, he headed home because to him family meant everything. After finding out about his wife's many infidelities, he'd vowed to never marry again and had stayed away from all social events on the island while he licked his wounds. When Morgan approaches him with a tempting job offer, he finds himself more tempted by her. She's not like any woman he's ever known, and he finds her intriguing and beguiling. 

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. Ms. Alers creates a charming tale set in a cozy small town where everyone knows everyone else's business. I loved how Morgan was a strong individual who wouldn't compromise about things that were important to her. Both Morgan and Nathan had a fair amount of baggage that they had to deal with, and I liked how, like the ugly duckling, Morgan came into her own. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a  STEAM rating bordering on the hotter SHOWER rating--this one is 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 series:

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Graveminder by Melissa Marr

  • Title: Graveminder
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Paranormal
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (January 17, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0062115162
  • ASIN: B00A1AA5AE
  • Author's Websitehttp://www.melissa-marr.com/

The city of Claysville harbors a dark secret. Almost three hundred years ago a bargain was struck and the devil was in the details. Rules were made and traditions set in place. In exchange for silence, no one within the town's borders gets sick and the town itself is protected from the world beyond. Those born in Claysville must be buried in Claysville and can only leave to further their education or to find a spouse. Only two people know the whole truth at any given time--the Graveminder and the Undertaker.

When Rebekkah's grandmother, Maylene, is murdered she comes back to Claysville. Little does she know that in doing so she has sealed her fate. She is to be the town's next Graveminder, and all the eccentricities her grandmother had will take on a whole new meaning because the dead in Claysville don't always stay dead...

     "What do the dead need?"
     "Prayers, tea, and a little bit of whiskey." then seventeen-year-old Rebekkah answered, "They need nourishment."
     "Memories, Love, Letting go," Maylene added.
     "Three sips for safety. No more. No less." Maylene held out the silver flask for  the third time. "Three on your lips at the burial. Three at the soil for three months."

And a promise she made years ago to her grandmother will now come back to haunt her.

     She opened the flask, took a sip, and then tilted it over the grave once. Tears streamed over her cheeks as she said, "She's been well loved."

     She took a second sip and then lifted the flask in a toast to the sky. "From my lips to your ears, you old bastard, " Then she tilted it over a grave a second time.
     "Sleep well, Maylene. Stay where I put you, you hear?"


Melissa Marr has a hauntingly beautiful and dark writing style. If you're looking for something warm and cuddly, her books are not for you. Her characters are flawed, her stories are a touch wicked, and usually captures your attention from the very start. The Graveminder is no exception. You'll feel you've entered another world and have taken a walk on the dark side.

Rebekkah 'Bek' Barrow is not a Claysville native. Her mother, however, married a man, Jimmy, who was and they lived 3 years in the town of her stepfather's birth. Bek came to love her step-grandmother, Maylene. The two got along better than she did with her mother, and she kept in touch with her even after her mother and stepfather divorced. Rebekkah didn't know the town had a dark secret, but she's about to.

Byron Montgomery is the son of the current Undertaker. He's set to inherit his father's business sooner than he thinks. He's been in love with Bek for years, but their relationship is complicated by the fact her stepsister committed suicide years ago shortly after she found out the two had kissed. Ella and Byron had been dating for years, and what spurred Ella to kill herself may never be totally known, but as Byron and Rebekkah soon discover, the Graveminder is drawn to the dead. And Ella was supposed to be the next Graveminder. As the two take on their new roles as Graveminder and Undertaker, they are introduced to a new world--a world of the dead which is alluring, seductive, tempting, intriguing and dangerous.

The land of the dead is ruled by a mysterious man who goes by the name Charlie and is called Mr. D by some. He is the man with all the answers, but dare Byron and Bek trust him? Neither was told of this 'other' world until the night when the role of undertaker was passed on to Byron by his father. Now the two will have to find whatever abomination is stalking the once safe town of Claysville before more residents of the small town are killed.

Overall, I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. The writing was wonderful, but at the end I felt I had more questions than answers. It was implied a character, Alicia, had a secret agenda, but what that might be was never disclosed. I felt Ms. Marr meant to expand the story, but left things half told. Another book explaining things would have been nice. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets  a  Blush - at the beginning stages of romance where something is just starting to be stirred.

Sidenote: As I was writing this review, I noticed on Ms. Marr's website that there is a short story, "Guns for the Dead",  in the anthology Naked City, that is associated with this book. If I find questions are answered in that novella, then this review will be revised to reflect that and the rating will change.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Early Review of The Sweet Spot by Laura Drake

  • Title: The Sweet Spot (Sweet on a Cowboy)
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance/Christian
  • Format:  Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Forever (May 28, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1455521957
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455521951
  • Notes: I read an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of the the book. All quotes need to be checked against the final version.

"When you cut the center out of something, the rest falls in on itself."

Losing a loved one can be devastating. Losing a child can be even more so. It can rip a family apart, tear it in to shreds and leave only the remnants of what once was. It can cripple a parent with guilt for not being able to protect their child and eat a hole within their soul. Sometimes a person can lose themselves to the darkness of their emotions. Sometimes the family can never be put back together, nothing can be saved. When Charla and JB Denny lost their 7-year old son, Benje, it tore them apart. Instead of coming together as a couple, emotions ran high, words were said,  and actions were taken that could never be taken back. Charla spiraled into depression and pills, while JB turned to another woman. Now, a year after Benje's death, the two are divorced and trying to sort our their lives. The thing is, the more they try to lead separate lives, the more they seem to gravitate together. Can a couple come back after so much damage has been done?

This was a very nice debut for Laura Drake. She did an a great job of capturing emotions on paper. She covered everything I could imagine would be going through a person's mind at such a time. To write a romance about a couple who's relationship has gotten to the point that they've divorced is a rather gutsy endeavor and  not an easy task to take on when one of them cheated on the other before the marriage was over and done. I have to say, I wish we could have found out what exactly happened in the marriage a little earlier. I had a hard time liking JB because all we knew about him at the very beginning of the book is that he cheated on his wife with a younger woman when she needed him most. So for ninety-five percent of the book I just couldn't like the man.

The Sweet Spot starts off with Charla and JB's relationship at it's lowest. They've gotten divorced, but still need to work together because the attorneys couldn't figure out quite how to split the family business. So while JB owns the bulls, Charla owns the rights to their sperm which is sold for breeding purposes. The problem lies in the fact the bulls reside on Charla's family ranch making it nearly impossible for the two to avoid each other. Slowly, as each gets their priorities straight, we learn what happened that tragic day, and the events that led to their marriage's demise. The story is all about forgiveness and has a very religious undertone to it without being overly preachy. It's about forgiving yourself for things you can't control as well as forgiving others. It's about giving people the benefit of the doubt as well as a second chance.

Why is the book called The Sweet Spot? Well I believe because of this statement :
  "When you're in the right place, right behind the bull's shoulders, it's like the eye of the storm. Gentle. Easy."
     "Done right, it looks simple. But it takes lots of skill and a butt-load of luck to get into the sweet spot and stay there."
I like the way the author subtly implies that a relationship can be a bit like bull riding--full of bumps, bucks and things attempting to throw you off. If you can withstand the chaos, and find the calm amidst all the storm life surrounds you in, it can be the sweetest thing and well worth all it took to find it. The question is, once you've been thrown off, can a couple find their sweet spot again?

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. A moving tale about love, forgiveness, and finding your way out of the darkness of your grief. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Drake's books. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees and a fan would be nice.

Pictures of Cowboys attempting to find that sweet spot:
 photo bull-riding_zps1334fa8a.jpg
 photo 7471_zpsc09d40f3.jpg photo Bull_zps31e43748.jpg
All photos found on Photobucket.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Giveaway - It Had to Be You by Jill Shalvis with sneak peek excerpt

Check out her website: http://jillshalvis.com/jill/
Follow Jill on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/JillShalvis/
Follow Jill on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JillShalvis

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis is the award winning author of over four dozen romance novels, including her upcoming sexy contemporary novel It Had to Be You, book one in the Lucky Harbor series. The 4-time Rita nominee and 3-time National Readers Choice winner makes her home near Lake Tahoe. Her first four novels were published under the name Jill Sheldon then switched to Jill Shalvis. To see a complete list of all her books Click Here

The Lucky Harbor Series

If you check out Jill's website, she talks about how she came up with The Lucky Harbor Series. She states, 
"When I began brainstorming the sexy contemporary romance series about three estranged sisters who get stuck together running a dilapidated beach resort, I decided I was out of my mind. I don’t have sisters. I have a brother, and we like each other just fine. Then at the dinner table one very night, my three teenage heathens started bickering and fighting, and I just stared at them in awe and wonder.

I had my fodder! “Keep fighting,” I told them — much to their utter shock, since I’ve spent the past fifteen years begging them to get along.

After that night, it was a piece of cake to write the sisters — Maddie, Tara, and Chloe — their claws barely sheathed, with resentment and affection vying for space, stuck together in the small Washington State beach town of Lucky Harbor.

So then all that I had left to do was find the three sexy guys who could handle them. I’m a big romance reader as well an author, and for me, it’s always about the hero. It doesn’t matter what he looks like, or what he does for a living, or even who his family and friends are — it’s about his heart.
It just so happened that at the same time, my neighbor was having an addition put on her house. For six glorious weeks, there were a bunch of guys hanging off the roof and the walls, in perfect line of sight of my office.

Which is really my deck. It’s a wonder I got any work done at all. I sat in the sun and wrote while in the background cute, young, sweaty guys hammered, and sawed, and in general, made my day.
And on some days, they even took off their shirts. Those were my favorite days of all."

The above excerpt from Jill's blog is not a "full" discloser. There is much more (and there are pictures of some story inspiring guys - sigh). To read more on how Jill came up with The Lucky Harbor Series Click Here.

Description of Simply Irresistible:

Maddie Moore's whole life needs a makeover.

In one fell swoop, Maddie loses her boyfriend (her decision) and her job (so not her decision). But rather than drowning her sorrows in bags of potato chips, Maddie leaves L.A. to claim the inheritance left by her free-spirited mother-a ramshackle inn nestled in the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington.
Starting over won't be easy. Yet Maddie sees the potential for a new home and a new career-if only she can convince her two half-sisters to join her in the adventure. But convincing Tara and Chloe will be difficult because the inn needs a big makeover too.

The contractor Maddie hires is a tall, dark-haired hottie whose eyes-and mouth-are making it hard for her to remember that she's sworn off men. Even harder will be Maddie's struggles to overcome the past, though she's about to discover that there's no better place to call home than Lucky Harbor. To read an excerpt Click Here

Description of  The Sweetest Thing:

Two men are one too many...

Tara has a thousand good reasons not to return to the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington. Yet with her life doing a major crash-and-burn, anywhere away from her unfulfilled dreams and sexy ex-husband will do. As Tara helps her two sisters get their newly renovated inn up and running, she finally has a chance to get things under control and come up with a new plan for her life.

But a certain tanned, green-eyed sailor has his own ideas, such as keeping Tara hot, bothered . . . and in his bed. And when her ex wants Tara back, three is a crowd she can't control-especially when her deepest secret reappears out of the blue. Now Tara must confront her past and discover what she really wants. If she's lucky, she might just find that everything her heart desires is right here in Lucky Harbor. To read an excerpt Click Here

Description of Head Over Heels:

Breaking rules and breaking hearts 

Free-spirited Chloe lives life on the edge. Unlike her soon-to-be married sisters, she isn't ready to settle into a quiet life running their family's newly renovated inn. But soon her love of trouble--and trouble with love-draws the attention of the very stern, very sexy sheriff who'd like nothing better than to tame her wild ways.

Suddenly Chloe can't take a misstep without the sheriff hot on her heels. His rugged swagger and his enigmatic smile are enough to make a girl beg to be handcuffed. For the first time, instead of avoiding the law, Chloe dreams of surrender. Can this rebel find a way to keep the peace with the straitlaced sheriff? Or will Chloe's colorful past keep her from a love that lasts . . . and the safe haven she truly wants in a town called Lucky Harbor? To read an excerpt Click Here

Description of Lucky in Love:

Mallory Quinn has had enough of playing it safe. As a nurse and devoted daughter, she takes care of everyone but herself. And as the local good girl, she's expected to date Mr. Right. But for once, she'd like to take a risk on Mr. Wrong. And who could be more wrong than Ty Garrison? The mysterious new guy in town has made it clear that he's only passing through, which suits Mallory just fine. Besides, his lean, hard body and sexy smile will give her plenty to remember once he's gone . . . 

For the first time in his life, Ty can't bear to leave. Helping this sexy seductress-in-training walk on the wild side is making him desire things he shouldn't including leaving the military for good. As their just-for-fun fling becomes something more, Mallory and Ty wonder if they could really be this lucky in love. After all . . . anything can happen in a town called Lucky Harbor. To read an excerpt Click Here

Description of  At Last:


Amy Michaels loves her new life in Lucky Harbor. A waitress in the local diner, she’s looking forward to her first weekend hike through the mountains. But when a wrong turn takes her off the trail, she finds herself up close and personal with forest ranger Matt Bowers. And even though she’s tempted to kiss that sexy smile right off his face, she won’t make the mistake of getting involved with the town heartthrob.

A former cop whose life went south, Matt doesn’t let anyone get too close. But something about the feisty beauty caught his eye the moment he first saw her in the diner. After a hot night under a starry sky, Matt can’t deny their attraction-or the fact that for the first time in a long time, he feels the stirrings of something more. Now it’s up to Matt to help Amy see that, no matter what is in their past, together they can build a future in Lucky Harbor.  To read an excerpt Click Here

Description of Forever and a Day:


Grace never thought she’d be starting her life over from scratch. Losing everything has landed her in Lucky Harbor, working as a dog walker for overwhelmed ER doctor Josh Scott. But the day his nanny fails to show up, Grace goes from caring for Josh’s lovable mutt to caring for his rambunctious son. Soon Grace is playing house with the sexy single dad…

With so many people depending on him, Josh has no time for anything outside of his clinic and family-until Grace arrives in town. Now this brainy blonde is turning his life inside out and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “good bedside manner.” Josh and Grace don’t know if what they have can last. But in a town like Lucky Harbor, a lifetime of love starts with just one day… To read an excerpt Click Here

Description of It Had to Be You:  

Ali Winters is not having a good day. Her boyfriend left her, everyone in town thinks she's a thief, and now she's about to be kicked out of her home. Her only shot at keeping a roof over her head and clearing her name is to beg for help from a police detective who's as sexy as he is stern....

After a high-profile case goes wrong, Luke Hanover returns to his hometown for some peace and quiet. Instead he finds a bombshell brunette in a heap of trouble. As he helps Ali put her world back together, the pieces of Luke's own life finally seem to fall into place. Is this the start of a sizzling fling? Or are Luke and Ali on the brink of something big in a little town called Lucky Harbor? http://jillshalvis.com/excerpts/forever-and-a-day/

Sneak Peek courtesy of Grand Central Publishing of
It Had to Be You:

     She did her best to appear as though she hadn’t just been sitting in an interrogation room for hours being questioned about a crime she hadn’t committed. But as it turned out, the pretense was far too much for her overloaded emotions, and she closed her eyes, trying to disappear into the seat. If she disappeared, then he couldn’t see her fall apart.

     “You okay?” he asked.

     Her throat tightened further, and she shook her head. Nope. Not okay. Not even close. “Don’t,” she said.

     “Don’t what?”

     “Don’t be nice to me right now. I’ll lose it.”

     With surprising gentleness, he pushed the hair from her face, then clicked open her seatbelt.

     It was all the invitation she was going to get, and all the invitation she needed. Turning to him, she burrowed in as steady, strong arms closed around her. He stroked a hand down her back, and she pressed her face into the crook of his neck, soaking in the warm comfort he offered.

     It was the safest and most secure she’d felt in far too long and she wasn’t sure she was going to be able to let go.


     Afraid he was going to pull away before she was done soaking him in, she squirmed a little closer. “Please not yet.”

     He tightened his grip. “It’s okay. I’ve got you.”

     Thank God. For just this one second, someone had her.

 (Excerpt used with permission from the Publisher.)

~ Giveaway ~

The seventh book of the Lucky Harbor series is coming out May 28th. To celebrate, Grand Central Publishing is allowing me to give away one copy of: 

It Had to Be You by Jill Shalvis

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

Winner will be randomly chosen. Giveaway ends May 28th, 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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Early Review of It Had to Be You (Lucky Harbor, #7) by Jill Shalvis

  • Title: It Had to Be You (Lucky Harbor)
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Format: Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (May 28, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1455521124
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455521128
  • Author's Website: http://jillshalvis.com/
  • Notes: I read the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of the book so quotes will need to be checked against the final version.

Have you ever been the last person to know? 

Ali Winters has been dating Ted for four months and the two even lived together, but Ted, unbeknownst to her, told everyone she was just his roommate. When the two attend an event one evening, she sets off to find him and hears him in the throws of passion with another woman in his office. Humiliated and disgusted all at once, she doesn't even bother to look to find out who he is with. She decides she'll get her satisfaction by leaving him. Unfortunately, even that luxury is taken away when hours later he sends her a text telling her their relationship just wasn't working and breaks up with her. She's mad, but what really set her dander a flutter was that within the same text message he lets her know that he isn't renewing their lease, and oh, by the way, the lease expired the night before. So, as she can't get a hold of the dirty rotten scoundrel, she did what any normal, sane woman would do, she tells him exactly what she thinks of him and his breakup text in a note. Which she left on his desk. In plain view. Where anyone can see.

When money, thousands of dollar's worth, is found to be missing from Ted's office later that day, she is the first person everyone suspects. She had access, motive, and there was no denying she'd been at the scene of the crime. Now she needs to clear her name. Lucky for her the house she'd been leasing with Ted was owned by Luke Hanover, a detective from San Francisco police department...

Luke Hanover had come back to Lucky Harbor to get away from it all and everyone. A case that had ended tragically had taken its toll on him. He needed time to collect himself and come to terms with what had happened. The last thing he expected to find in the kitchen of his house was a half naked woman...

     "It's just one bad day," she whispered while standing in the perfect position for him to pat her down for weapons. 
     Not that she was carrying--well, except for that lethal bod.
     "Just one really rotten, bad @ss day," she repeated softly and Luke had to disagree. 
     "Not from where I'm standing," he said.

He could have thrown her out, but decided she could stay one night. As fate would have it, Ali's luck was about to change. What Luke couldn't have known, was his was about to too--for the better because Ali Winters wasn't the only one who needed saving.

When you find that special someone even if it takes a while, in the end you just know--It had to be you.


As with all of Ms. Shalvis' books, this was a delightful blend of romance, drama, and humor. It's the seventh book of the Lucky Harbor series, but don't worry. It can be read as a stand alone book without feeling you've missed anything crucial from another book. Be warned, however, these books are like Lay's Potato chips--I bet you can't stop at just one. They are highly addictive. 

This was such a cute book. Ali is a sweet and loyal person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up looking extremely guilty. What was frustrating to her was that people who knew her had to ask if she'd done it. While her mother and sister may have had a few run ins with the law, Ali had managed to keep herself on the straight and narrow. With all the evidence pointing in her direction, she'll need more than just the truth to set her free. She needs to figure out who, besides herself, held a grudge against Ted. As the investigation gets underway, Ted's dirty little secrets start to come to light. Whoever the woman was in Ted's office was, she wasn't the only one. Ted, had been having affairs with several women. The question is, did someone else find out about the others and want revenge? If Ali hadn't gotten in the way, Ted would have been the prime suspect.

Detective Lieutenant Luke Hanover is gorgeous and has come back to Lucky Harbor for the first time in years. Both good and bad memories exist in the town where he'd spent his childhood summers with his grandmother. He's run to Lucky Harbor because he feels he'd let down a woman who was part of an investigation he was conducting. He feels his failure to apprehend a suspect resulted in her death. Ironically, he'd fled Lucky Harbor years ago under similar circumstances. Perhaps that is what entices him to help Ali--he's positive he can help her. Little does he know, however, she'll help him see that running doesn't bring a person peace or closure. She'll make him see that sometimes the first step in healing is forgiving yourself because the 'should of', 'would of', 'could of' in life will never change what was. Life just has a way of happening. 

Overall, I gave this one 4  out of 5 roses. A feel good story that left me smiling and cheerful for the rest of the day. 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:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...