Sunday, October 26, 2014

Early Review of Eternal (Shadow Falls: After Dark, #2) by C.C. Hunter

Title: Eternal
Classification: Young Adult; 12 - 18 years
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Genre: Paranormal
Series: Shadow Falls: After Dark (A Shadow Falls Novel)
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (October 28, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1250044618
ISBN-13: 978-1250044617
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an ARC from the author, and I'm on her street team. What that means is I love and support her books enough to try to spread the word about them.

Della Tsang is finally working for the FRU, Fallen Research Unit (think paranormal FBI), and she's just been handed her next assignment--by a ghost. Della recently worked with FRU in bringing down and capturing Craig Anthony and his crew who were illegally enslaving newly made vamps by using his family's funeral home as a front. Now a vision bequeathed her by a ghost has let her know that two newly made vampires are trapped and buried underground. As not all the vamps that Craig Anthony enslaved are accounted for, Della's betting the two vamps she saw in the vision are part of that missing number. If the two vamps are truly alive, then Della and Chase will be in a race against time to save them. For vampires can only survive for a few weeks without a fresh blood source. With only the first names of the victims to go on and very little else, the ghost makes it crystal clear what she wants....

"Find Natasha."

This is the second book in the Shadow Falls: After Dark trilogy. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, Shadow Falls is a school for kids who are supernaturally gifted. The school runs under the guise of a drug rehabilitation center, for most teens who go through a supernatural transformation tend to display symptoms similar to that of a drug user. They tend to distance themselves from friend and family, are secretive, and, for some--vamps in particular, stay awake at night and are exhausted during the day. Supernatural beings have a species identifying pattern which hovers in front of their foreheads and can be seen by other supernatural beings. This helps the administration of Shadow Falls easily identify which kids to select for their program. Della has been a student at Shadow Falls for several years.

 Della is an honest to god vampire with remarkable powers because she is one of a rare breed known as reborns. She wasn't born a vampire and she wasn't bitten, but Della, and the majority of her family, are carriers of the VI virus which, when it goes live, turns people into vampires. If a person with the VI virus has an open wound that is exposed to the blood of someone with the active virus (ie someone who's been turned), they themselves will become a vampire. Among those who get turned, a small percentage go through a second turning process which, if they survive, they'll come out with stronger powers than the average vamp. These vampires are known as reborns because, in a way, they've gone through a second vampire birth.

Many who go through a rebirth never complete the process and die. Reborn vamps can increase the odds of survival of another vampire going through their vampire rebirth by bonding with them. It's sort of like a blood transfusion where antibodies are exchanged, but the process also links the two vampires together in a rather disturbing way. The two can sense each others emotions. Della is still trying to figure out just exactly what bonding with another vampire means. Chase, the vampire who bonded with her in Reborn, keeps hinting that they're fated to be together. That doesn't fly with Della who is not one to just take someone at their word whom she's only recently met. Besides, Chase has admitted he'd previously bonded to another vamp when he was reborn, so she's pretty sure a relationship and bonding doesn't automatically go hand in hand. While she does feel an attraction to the guy, she doesn't fully trust him and with good reason. Chase is holding on to a lot of secrets. Of that Della is quite sure.

In this book, Della is contacted by another ghost, but the whole vision is confusing. She doesn't know if she's seeing something from the past or the present. In the vision, she is literally dropped into another person and sees and feels what they do. A pair of newly turned vampires are trapped underground and are surviving on each other's blood. Vampires can only survive so long doing this and Della doesn't know if the ghost is showing Della her past or if she is showing Della someone else's present, but Della has a strong sense the girl she jumped into is alive. She must find out who exactly the girl is to save her.  Additionally, she'll have to work with Chase to accomplish it.

Della is not the easiest person to get to know. She's been betrayed and hurt by many of the people she's loved. For one so young she's suffered a lot of disappointment in her life. So she guards and protects herself and doesn't give a person the benefit of the doubt, instead they have to earn her trust. For many, this would put them off. For Chase, it kind of presents a challenge and Chase never passes on a challenge.

Chase is a secret person who works for the Vampire Council. Ms. Hunter does an excellent job with his character development because I, like Della, keep waffling as to whether I like him or not. Is he what he seems or is he a manipulator playing Della for a fool? Is he trying to use the bond between them to recruit her for the Vampire Council? It's hard to say.

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I love that Della is such a strong female character who doesn't compromise herself for anyone. I liked the mystery of finding out who and where the missing vamps were and the surprising link to Della. This one ends in a cliffhanger, but it wasn't the type that leaves you frustrated that the author left some part undone, instead it leaves you looking to the next book with anticipation. I do admit I am a little sad there's only one book left. I wonder if we can look forward to another spin-off from the Shadow Falls series? I'm crossing my fingers.

Order of the Shadow Falls series:

Order of the Shadow Falls After Dark series: 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Early Review of Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1) by Ilona Andrews

    Classification: Adult Fiction
    Genre: Urban Fantasy
    Series: Hidden Legacy (Book 1)
    Format: Paperback; 400 pages
    Publisher: Avon (October 28, 2014)
    ISBN-10: 0062289233
    ISBN-13: 978-0062289230
    Author's Website:
    Notes: I received and eARC loan from the publisher.

A century and a half ago, the Osiris serum was discovered by scientists which unlocked a person's magical abilities. The serum was given to soldiers so that wars could be won, but scientists didn't comprehend what they'd truly done until much later and by then it was too late. The serum was locked away, but the damage had been done because it was soon found that magical talents could be passed from parent to child. The world as we knew it was changed forever as a restructuring of power occurred. Money no longer guaranteed power, influence, and prestige in this magically oriented new world, rather, one's magical abilities did. For from the power of magic, one could acquire the rest.

Talents varied among people, but each person showed potential toward one specific type of magic. Among the varying types of magics, ranges of talent were soon noted and magic users were categorized into five different ranks: Minor, Average, Notable, Significant, and Prime. The highest and strongest being Prime. Soon magical dynasties, as the most powerful of magical families came to be called, were broken into houses and attempted to manipulate and enhance their family's magical potential by arranging marriages which would bring about the most gifted and talented of offspring. 

Connor Rogan had gained many monikers over the years among which are Mad Rogan, the Butcher of Merida, and Huracan. He is known for his part in single handedly killing thousands in the war against Mexico using his magical skills which helped bring about a favorable end to the fighting. No one knows the extent of his powers, but the overall consensus is the man is scary and not somebody you want to mess with. He's been asked by his cousin, Kelly, to help her bring her son, Gavin, into the authorities. Gavin's been accused of arson, for which he had been caught on tape, and the murder of a security guard who was present when the fire occurred. She wants her son to be brought to trial where she's certain he'll be seen as an accessory to the crime as she believes the real instigator and killer is Adam Pierce--the leader of a motorcycle gang her son had the misfortune of getting mixed up with. Since the arson, no one has seen Gavin and the key to finding Gavin is to track down and find Adam Pierce.

Nevada Baylor is a private eye working for the family business--Baylor Investigative Agency. Five years ago due to the financial strain from medical bills, the family was forced to mortgage their business to House Montgomery. In the fine print of the paperwork existed a clause that stated turning down an assignment from Montgomery International Investigations, aka MII, (their mortgage holder's investigative company) would constitute a breach of contract. In the five years that House Montgomery had held the mortgage, they'd never invoked the clause until now...

"I have an assignment for you.(...) We'd like you to apprehend this man."

He slid a photograph across the desk, I leaned forward.

Adam Pierce looked back at me with his crazy eyes.

"Is this a joke?"


Adam Pierce is a dangerous Prime, the most potent of magic users, and taking on the case is the equivalent of taking on a suicide mission. If Nevada doesn't do so, however, her family will lose everything.

This is the first book of a brand new series that is down right phenomenal. If you've ever read one of Ilona Andrew's books, you'll know they're magic infused and this one is no different. So prepare yourself for a magically fun journey.

Nevada's family has three rules which had been established by her father:
Rule #1: We stayed bought. Once a client hired us, we were loyal to the client.
Rule #2: We didn't break the law. 
Rule #3: At the end of the day we still had to be able to look our reflections in the eye.
In a world where magic rules, those without it are at a severe disadvantage. You have to tread carefully because crossing someone with the wrong abilities could be the last mistake you ever make. When you're in Nevada's line of work, you need to check out the people involved in a case before taking it. The rule of thumb is, if a client or any individual you would need to deal with to solve a case looked too dangerous, you decline the job. Unfortunately if she did that in the case of Adam Pierce, MII would leave her family financially bankrupt, homeless, and without a business. They'd literally have to start from nothing. 

Nevada is a smart, strong, resourceful and loyal woman who would have entered the military, which was the family tradition for the females of the family, if her father hadn't died. In order to keep the family financially afloat, she took over the family business, Baylor Investigative Agency. Her two sisters, brother, and cousin  are all under 18 and neither her mother nor grandmother were in any shape to run it. While her family has magical talents, there's nothing that would attract much attention. Everyone, however, is on the payroll and helps out where and when they can. Nevada's particular talent is that she can tell whether or not a person is telling the truth or lying. It comes in very handy when questioning people. 

Adam Pierce is a piece of work. He's a charismatic, good looking, live-for-today-who-cares-about- tomorrow type of guy. He is smart, sometimes cruel, and easily board. His motto could very well be 'All for one--ME'. He's a  young man who never truly grew up. In other words, he is a spoiled brat who is too old and too dangerous to change. In order for Nevada to bring Adam in, she'll have to capture his attention by being interesting and hold it. Then somehow manage to convince him to turn himself in, for that is truly her only shot at coming out of this job alive. 

Connor Rogan could be the poster child for what most magical families wish to achieve. No longer a boy, he's a fourth generation Prime who's smart, good looking, with magical talents that are off the charts. At the beginning of the book he appeared to be a cold, cruel, and calculating man who was dangerously powerful. I instantly disliked him. I never imagined he'd end up being a candidate as love interest for Nevada. As the novel progresses, however, the ice which seemed to encircle him appears to thaw and a slightly different side to the man starts to emerge. He is a surprising character that had me struggling as to whether I liked him throughout the book. His first encounter with Nevada will no doubt raise the hackles of some, but as I came to understand him my opinion changed and I was more than half in love with him by the end. I found myself enjoying his interactions with Nevada, and I respected her for refusing to let him off the hook so easily for what he'd done. For a man used to having woman fall all over themselves to get close to him, I can only imagine Nevada was a refreshing change.  

I couldn't help but give this book 5 out of 5 roses. I enjoyed every aspect of the book and was carried away by the story. At the beginning I kept thinking oh, this reminds me of this book and that reminds me of another book, but those thoughts were quickly dispelled as it soon became clear it wasn't really like any other book I've read. I enjoyed the sexual tension between Nevada and Rogan and the way Nevada handled herself with Adam. I loved all the twists and turns that were thrown at us along way and the mystery of just what Adam was up to--and let me just say without giving away too much, it's a doozie. This will no doubt end up in my top ten favorite books of 2014. Another amazing book by Ilona Andrews. Picture me on the day the next book in the series comes out with my nose pressed up against the bookstore glass door chanting under my breath, 'Open, open, open.' lol Okay, I'm just joking about that last part, but you get the idea. *GRIN* On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a BLUSH rating--at the beginning stages of romance where something is just starting to be stirred. I like that Nevada's taking things slow. Oh, and by the way, I call dibs on Rogan as a book boyfriend. lol

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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

Available today:

Black Raven's Lady by Kathleen Harrington

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

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

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

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


June 1504

Archnacarry Manor

Western Highlands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

War had come to the Highlands.

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

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

She had to reach him before Keir.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The picture that came to mind made them both laugh.

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

About the Author:
Kathleen Harrington
Check out her website: 

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

~ Giveaway ~
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Order of the Highland Lairds Trilogy:

Monday, October 20, 2014

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

About the Book:


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


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


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

~ Excerpt from Darling Beast 
by Elizabeth Hoyt  ~

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

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

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

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

     She glanced up in time to catch his raised eyebrows.

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

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

     Apollo leaned on his shovel and cocked an eyebrow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     He wasn’t even pretending to work anymore.

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

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

     Now she was a baffled Pimberly. “Naturally.”

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


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

     And she batted her eyelashes.

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

About the Author:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Interview with Elizabeth Hoyt ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Order of the Maiden Lane series:

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