Poisoned Kisses

Poisoned Kisses
Stephanie Draven
Mass Market Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Harlequin
First published September 17th 2010
ISBN 9780373618453

Daughter of the war god Ares, Kyra had been born into darkness—a darkness she'd vowed to annihilate. Just as she'd destroy the notorious Greek arms dealer Marco Kaisiris for feeding the bloodlust she despised. She'd use her nymph's carnal powers to seduce him, then slay him. But Kyra wasn't prepared for Marco's secret weapon.

For millennia Kyra had avoided mortal men, but she couldn't resist Marco's magnetism, his raw sexuality. Time and again his sculpted body took her to heights to which only the gods soared. That he was a shape-shifting hydra she could forgive, but not his one fatal flaw—his poisoned blood could kill her. Kyra had fallen for the only being who could destroy her…. Yet how could she spend eternity without him?

I'm typically a sucker for a book packed with Greek mythology but Poisoned Kisses by Stephanie Draven fell short of my loving. I think it was Marco who put the tainted apple in the barrel. And it had started out so good, too, with promising, vigorous characters such as Ares and Kyra. Then Marco happened. A confused, brooding mortal in a bar.

One familiar with myself would think a broken soul like our leading man would do it for me. The same might also think that a guy who could assume the form of anyone who had ever hurt him would be more... threatening. Or dangerous. Or just exciting. But alas, Marco was just a whiny, little bitch with a hypersensitive conscience. Years ago, he was a soldier deployed to Africa where his unit was tasked with a peacekeeper role. But after thousands of innocents lost their lives, he decided the role was bullshit and turned "crusader" as an arms dealer for the people so they would have a way of fighting back.

Alright. Giving credit where credit's due and all, I'll admit he had a pretty good back story. Kyra's daddy issues weren't so bad either and Draven's writing talent proves itself in both style and technique. So many quotable lines. Oh my damn, the woman can write! I'd definitely return to read more of this world of hers, minus one Marco, of course. 4 out of 5 stars. Great ending. I only wish I had liked Marco more.

Damn him. “Aren’t you ever going to let that go?”

“What? That you tried to kill me?” He gave an incredulous snort, lifting his hand to show off the jagged scar she’d left him that night in Naples. “No, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to let it go. Even if I could get past it, there’s still the fact that last night I slept with a woman who looked like my ex-fiancée, but who turned out to be a homicidal maniac with Daddy issues, relationship baggage and a penchant for locking people in cages.”

Equal to my dislike of Marco, I loved Kyra. She was one tough cookie, but she wore her feelings very, very well.

“Kyra, you said you hated me.”

“I lied!” Kyra cried bitterly. “Isn’t that why you’re always so angry at me? Because I lie and I lie and I lie. But you lied, too, you hypocrite.” She pounded her fist against his chest. “Tell me you were lying!”

“Ow! Damn it.”

“Don’t you hear the war raging up there, Marco? The bloodlust vibrates beneath my skin because I’m the daughter of Ares. But if I can turn my back on it, so can you. Tell me you didn’t mean what you said in front of Ogun. All those horrible, horrible things you said. Tell me you lied.”

“Of course I lied!” Marco barked, pulling her against him as if he couldn’t decide whether to hug or throttle her. “You said you could look right into my eyes and see my soul—that you’d always know me, always see the truth!”

Kyra took a sharp breath. “But I didn’t have the strength. He’d been torturing me, and I was using everything I had left to heal my wounds. I couldn’t use my inner torch…and I couldn’t understand why you came back.”

His fingers locked around her wrists. “I came back for you, you witless nymph!”

“Oh, Marco—”

“Shut up,” Marco said. Then he kissed her lying lips as if they were the most precious things to him in the world. She wanted to stay here, just like this. His hair in her hands. Her heart slamming in her chest alongside his. She wanted to savor and explore the emotions that swirled within her at the realization that he’d come back for her. That once—just once—a man came back for a nymph.


Cast In Ruin cover

I am SO EXCITED!! Michelle Sagara, author of the Chronicles of Elantra series, has posted the proof for the cover of her next book, Cast in Ruin. It's my favorite cover of the series BY FAR!!

The Dark Is Coming

Seven corpses are discovered in the streets of a Dargon’s fief. All identical, down to their clothing.

Kaylin Neya is assigned to discover who they were, who killed them- and why. Is the evil lurking at the borders of Elantra preparing to cross over?

At least the investigation delays her meeting with the Dargon Emperor. And as the shadows grow longer over the fiefs, Kaylin must use every skill she’s ever learned to save the people she’s sworn to protect. Sword in hand, dragons in the sky, this time there’s no retreat and no surrender…

More information can be found here on the author's blog. This is book seven of the series with at least two more promised to come. With a cover like this, it's time for Severn to shine!


Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever
Felicity E. Heaton
Published November 2007
ISBN 9781452321080

A little excitement. That’s all Kate Hamilton wanted when she agreed to a girly break to her family’s cabin. Time away from work and her failed love-life lured her into saying yes to her friends. She was expecting sun, snow and ski. Absolutely no guys.

What she wasn’t expecting was her stepbrother and friends crashing her vacation, a badly sprained ankle, a blizzard, and being trapped on the mountain with one Jack Darcy.

Jack Darcy brings with him more excitement than Kate can handle. Tall, dark and devastatingly handsome, he’s impossible to resist and seems to be everything Kate has been searching for…until it turns out he isn’t all that he seems. In fact, nothing is.

Caught up in a dangerous game and unsure who to trust, captured by a man she once thought she knew, will Kate meet her end or will her knight in shining armour rescue her in time? Can Jack confront the terrible things in his past and let Kate in? Will he be able to complete his mission and save the girl he’s fallen in love with? Can Kate save him too?

That's a lot of questions left to be answered, eh?

Ordinarily I write my posts as I go, while the memories and the emotions are still fresh. Had I done so with this one my review would have been devastating. The first half of this book is boring as hhhhhhhell. Most of the words are exhausted on descriptions of Jack and Kate's feelings toward one another. Their thoughts. The conflicting desires. And smiling. OMG do they do alot of smiling! And yet, in hindsight, my opinion is slightly elevated because once we get past all that mushy stuff things actually get... active.

First Kate bashes Jack in the skull and leaves him for dead in the snow then (after he awakes) Jack goes all cold killer as he's slashing throats left, right, and diagonal. The bullets start flying and *finally* we find the suspense. And a bit of a shocker moment. Honestly didn't expect Jack's confession but kudos to Kate for taking it so well. That was very likely my favorite aspect of the book. Not many women can take the news of their man gunning down his last lover in cold blood and not bat an eye. Very many kudos indeed.

Sadly though, things again take a turn for the worse. Personally, I don't care for endings like that. The whole twisted conclusion where the character believes one thing but we, as readers, know beyond a doubt that there is no way in Hades that things are going to down like that. Waste of time in my opinion. And I don't even get a damn proposal at the end of all that mushy stuff? That's all kinds of wrong.

3 out of 5 stars.


Beyond the Night: Envy Chronicles #1

❝  Who are you? Good fucking question. ❞

Beyond the Night
Joss Ware
Envy Chronicles, book one
Mass Market Paperback, 357 pages
Published January 12th 2010 by Avon
ISBN 9780061734014

A man with no future

When Dr. Elliott Drake wakes from a mysterious fifty-year sleep, the world as he knew it is gone. Cities are now desolate, and civilization is controlled by deadly immortals. Stranger still is Elliott's extraordinary new "gift"—he has the power to heal, but it comes with fatal consequences.

A woman with a past

Jade barely escaped the immortals and is now hell-bent on revenge. She trusts no one... until Elliott. His piercing gaze and tempting touch shatter her defenses, but the handsome doctor seems to have dangerous secrets of his own. Is it safe to trust him with her heart?

If they are to survive in this dark new world, Jade and Elliott must work together to fight the forces that take them beyond danger.

Beyond desire.

Dr. Elliot Drake -Dred, for short- takes a weekend caving trip with his buddies Quent and Wyatt- and emerges from their adventure to discover that the world has aged fifty years, and it is nothing like they remember it. Dred also discovers he's developed some rather phenomenal powers. He can heal. And he'd become a human MRI. Quent, too, has been given a gift. That of reading the memories of anything he touches. Quite handy in this situation, eh?

They soon come to learn of a large civilization of people still surviving the gangas that feed during the night and soon enough they meet Jade. It's then that Dred realizes another talent of his- he can transfer an injury from one person to another. Now *that* would be cool. What wouldn't be cool would be holding on to it and having it destroy yourself.

POV switches between Elliot, Jade, and even Quent. Readers are also privy to a journal kept by Lou Waxnicki, who is basically the founder of Envy. I really enjoyed the journal. =)

The romance is very realistic. Elliott wants Jade but he won't share, a fact he vocalizes quite clearly. At first, casually. Then again, quite forcefully. Jade, being a former prisoner and now a very independent woman doesn't believe herself to need to explain her association or actions with the other men. And so, a rift forms between the two.

Meanwhile, Quent has his own unobtainable woman to conquer. A modern day female Robin Hood, Zoe is an outsider and she's not given much of a role other than to aid the group at certain times and eventually share Quent's bed. The sex was rather hot though. Much different from the beautiful but somber love making by Elliot and Jade.

As far as violence goes, Elliot and Jade do get their asses kicked. Jade's encounters definitely have violence written all over them near the end and Elliot finds himself leaning hard on death's unlocked door more than once. While I did very much enjoy this book, and am quite curious as to how the story goes as the series progresses, I'm not sure if I'll make a hasty return to find out. There's a lot of questions left unanswered. Did the rise of Atlantis really bring about the end of the known world? Will Zoe ever come back? (bk 3) And what's up with Simon and Sage? (bk 2) What happens with Theo? (bk 4) So, so, many questions.

4 out of 5 stars.

The Loc is ONE YEAR OLD!

One year ago today, Location 2571 was born into the Blogger network.
These past twelve months I have met some amazing book bloggers, discovered ridiculously talented writers, and read more books than I ever thought I would in my lifetime.

Thank you all so much for showing your support! & Happy reading!


Holiday Hostage

Holiday Hostage
Kelly Fitzpatrick
Kindle Edition
Published February 14th 2011 by Ellora's Cave
This is a Free Amazon Kindle Read.

Holly has just finished up a grueling day as Mrs. Santa at the mall. She's in no mood to spend the Christmas Eve holiday with her kooky sister, her sister's new boyfriend and his zany family-or her sister's boyfriend's single brother. Being kidnapped to do just that wouldn't be her second choice.

Ryan has cut ties with his criminally inclined family after they robbed the bank he worked at, causing him to lose his job. He especially doesn't care to be fixed up against his will with his brother's ditzy new girlfriend's sister. Until he comes face to face with her.

I hadn't planned on posting anything on this story, but after the first few pages I was too tickled not to. It's one thing to want to hook your sister up on a blind date, quite another to have her tied up and kidnapped by a midget and thrown into the back of a van to get it done.

It's a quick, funny as hell read. And I do recommend it. 3 out of 5 stars.

Grave Illusions: Jess Vandermire #1

Grave Illusions
Lina Gardiner
Jess Vandermire, book one
Paperback, 204 pages
Published February 15th 2007 by ImaJinn Books
ISBN 9781933417950

New York City is in the grasp of a deadly, unseen enemy. At least unseen by normal society. Lieutenant Jess Vandermire, New York City police officer, is uniquely specialized to recognize and fight this threat. It’s her job to forge a black ops team, an assortment of men and women who wouldn’t be considered for the job under normal circumstances. But these aren’t normal circumstances. The team has to be tough and, if need be, expendable.

Jess understands what she’s fighting and what’s at stake. For her, it’s all about retribution until ex-cop John Brittain is recruited to her team. Suddenly, her priorities aren’t quite so easily definable. John Brittain has a chip on his shoulder and is as tough as they come. But is he ready for the whole truth? That combating “super” vampires whose primal need for blood and the addictive drug “Sunshine” is only the beginning of their problems?

And when Jess tells him the truth about herself, will he stay and fight or will he turn against her and not only threaten their lives but destroy the fragile relationship developing between them?

I've confessed it before- I am not a fan of vampires. But given recent events, I may be altering that statement in the near future. Despite my bias, I haven't neglected that many chances to venture outside of my comfort zone and in this case, I am glad for it. Quite frankly because, for the most part, Grave Illusions rocked! Mere pages in and I was in love. With Britt. With Jess. With the whole freaking thing.

Jess was turned many a year ago into a vampire, but she's fought the cravings and the madness with help of her baby brother, Regent (now a 72 year old priest). He's served as her protector but now feels it best if the job were passed on, before he passes on.

Pulling together a new team, Jess finds Regents' ideal candidate for the task in John Brittain, an ex-cop guilty of his partner's death. Another such recruit for the team is Tat Brophy, a man who murdered his parents and next door neighbor when the power went out and he couldn't complete the level on his video game. Quite the colorful cast, eh? Beware the gamers.

I was engrossed by the interactions between Jess and Britt. She's a hardass and he's hot for every bit of it. Midway though, things veer drastically to the left as it goes from secret lusts to all out 'I will have you' promises. Then the L word drops and the story drifts downhill from there. As things go full circle, the cliches start flowing and well, I expected a lot more awesomeness. I know our hero has to have some flaws, but Britt seemed to have those in abundance. How can a man be so dang blind? 4 out of 5 stars.

Check out a recent post featuring an excerpt here.

Other books in the series:
Beyond the GraveGrave New Day (Jess Vandermire, Vampire Hunter)


Blog Hopping Friday #8

Hosted by: Bitten by Paranormal Romance, Crazy For Books, A Few More Pages, Parajunkee.com

Today's Book Beginning was taken from my last read:

The afternoon wasn't just hot. It was choking hot. Gasping hot. Suck your brains out hot.
    Lily Campbell stepped off the curb, feeling the pavement fry her feet even through her thick, cork sandals. It was only two more blocks to the sheriff's office.
    She could make it two more blocks without dying, couldn't she? Surely?

Irresistible Stranger (New Man In Town)

Special thanks to Redd from the Wyld Hollow for my copy!

Irresistible Stranger
Jennifer Greene
Mass Market Paperback, 218 pages
Published December 1st 2010 by Harlequin
ISBN 9780373277070

Twenty years ago, Lily Campbell's parents died in a mysterious fire. Now she's back for the truth...but nobody in her sleepy hometown wants to talk about that night. And when the fires start up again, it's clear that somebody doesn't want her to stay.

Griff Branchard has perfected his bad-boy persona. But the moment he sees Lily, nothing matters as much as getting close to her. Although rumors about her are flying around town, he just can't believe such a sweet woman could be a troublemaker...But trouble? She's deep in it. And he's going to make sure that the only heat she feels is from the flames of desire.

Griff Branchard is not a shy man. So when he's instantly smitten by Lily as she enters his small town ice cream shop, the subtle, yet smooth, flirting commences. Thankfully, Lily can read the signs and calls him on his game. Right before she warns him how unpopular any association with herself may be that is.

This story is set in Georgia. God help me. The author's instant description of the heat is dead-spanking-on and even though I'm not big on Georgia or small towns, I'm invested enough in this series that those small details didn't do a thing to influence my enjoyment one way or another.

The second book, Mesmerizing Stranger, didn't do it for me the way the first, Secretive Stranger, did. Oh yes, I loved the first book. This one, though, came darn close. In each installment, the fire that claimed the lives of their parents is a rich, recurring topic and now, finally, we'll be getting down to the nitty gritty of what happened that night. The rumor went that their father, after losing his job, set the fire to get the insurance money. The flames got out of control and only the three sisters (Cate, Lily, & Sophie) made it out. Notably, with help from their father.

By the end of the second chapter, I was in love. Griff has a secret. Sure, he allows for the lazy, womanizer rep that the town has bestowed upon him but he has a hobby that he considers his real work. He also has an 'implied capacity for commitment'. =)

By the middle of chapter five, my man, Cord, (Secretive Stranger) was getting some serious competition from this MIT graduate, Griff. I noticed a ton of similarities between the two, but what gave Griff the edge was that no matter how badly he wanted to prove to Lily that he could take care of her and that he was strong enough for the both of them, it was Lily that over and over again came to his aid. It was a beautiful balance. And I loved the play and interchange of roles. As far as the suspense is concerned, I honestly didn't care who the arsenist was and failed to attempt trying to figure it out. Too busy with the love. 4 out of 5 stars.

Other books in the series:
Secretive Stranger (Silhouette Romantic Suspense)Mesmerizing Stranger (Silhouette Romantic Suspense)


Dead Drop

Dead Drop
Jon F. Merz
A Lawson Vampire Bonus Story
Kindle Edition
Published February 15th 2011 by St. Martin's Griffin
This is a Free Amazon Kindle Read.

Meet Lawson. A cynical, wise-cracking vampire charged with protecting the Balance between vampires and humans, he is part cop, part spy, and part commando -- a James Bond with fangs. Lawson mixes shrewd cunning with unmatched lethality to get his job done. He tries his best to dismantle conspiracies, dispatch bad guys, and live long enough to get home.

This time, Lawson has been given an easy assignment, a “dead drop.” That is until an old enemy returns…

Lawson recollects his first Dead Drop, during his apprenticeship to Zero, when he first encountered The Silent One, a fellow vampire having way too much fun screwing with the powers that be.

I'm completely, utterly, and unarguably unfamiliar with this series so I can tell you as an outsider that as far as teasers go this bonus story packs one hell of a punch. If you like it at all, the abrupt ending will undoubtedly leave you craving more. I sure did. 5 out of 5 stars.

Update: I transferred this story to my husband's Ipad2 and he actually read it. And loved it enough to send me back to Amazon for The Kensei. Yays!

Raising The Dead: Past Midnight #1.5

Raising The Dead
Mara Purnhagen
Past Midnight book one.five
Kindle Edition
Published January 17th 2011 by Harlequin Teen
This is a Free Amazon Kindle Read.

As the daughter of the famous Silver Spirits paranormal investigators, Charlotte Silver is used to all things weird. But when coffins start floating down her street during a flood, life turns extra strange. And wonderful, when her friend and crush Noah signs on to help Charlotte and her folks in the aftermath. Cemetery cleanup might not sound exciting, but as shocking discoveries and a lurking stranger come to light, Charlotte learns that sometimes, raising the dead can bring unexpected rewards.

Flood season in South Carolina unearths coffins from a local cemetery and sets them adrift down Main Street. Volunteering for clean up duty is seventeen year old, Charlotte, her parents, a husband and wife paranormal research team, and a few friends, including her crush, Noah.

Now I'm not the most forward woman in the world when it comes to approaching a man I'm interested in (the story of how my husband and I finally crossed the friendship line is a doosey) but Charlotte was a tad on the pathetic side. She reminded me more of a fourteen year old in the maturity department.

That said, though, I did find her to be a likeable character and an ideal role model for the younger generation- wow, don't I sound old. Charlotte's a seemingly intelligent young lady with strong family values. She's caring, selfless, and determined to help those in need around her. Even as she begins to suspect there's a ghoul roaming the cemetery. But not everything is as it seems- not even the caskets. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Other books in the series:
Past MidnightOne Hundred Candles

Random Excerpt: Grave Illusions

This is currently a free read from Amazon. Buy here. Author site here.

Grave Illusions
(Jess Vandermire, Vampire Hunter)
Lina Gardiner
Highlight Loc. 61-158

The next evening Britt wiped the last of the shaving cream off his face with a towel and slapped on a palmful of aftershave. Pressed against the edge of the bathroom sink he stared hard at his reflection. He looked like hell. Since he’d been kicked off the force, he’d been through hell. For that matter, he felt as if he was still in hell.
     Had it been two years since he’d made the mistake of confronting his partner about taking bribes on the beat? Randy had slugged him in the jaw, and he’d responded by punching Randy in the gut. In the gut!
     If only he could take back that moment.
     He leaned his head back and closed his eyes, clenching his teeth. How many times had he wished for that one favor? One miracle in a good cop’s lifetime? Good cop? He made a derisive noise in the back of his throat. Good cops don’t kill their partners.
     He tried to push the memories away, but he couldn’t. They’d been stirred up again because yesterday, out of the blue, his former captain, Drake Abbott, had telephoned him. He wanted Britt to meet him at the precinct, but he wouldn’t explain why. Britt had reservations about going. Cop killers should never hang around police stations. But Drake was a good guy. One of the few Britt respected. He had no choice but to agree. He owed his friend that much. Drake had stuck by him when everyone else had turned their back on him.
     On the way to the Police Station, Britt convinced himself he was happy enough. It had taken over two years, but he had made peace with his transition from cop to cabby. Even so, he couldn’t forgive himself for what he’d done to deserve this life.
     Now, here he was, walking down those familiar corridors again. His gut clenched at the sights and smells inside the building where he’d spent more than ten years of his life. He shouldn’t have come. He didn’t need reminders of how his life could have been if he hadn’t screwed it up.
     When Britt reached the office, Drake rose from his chair and hurried across the room to greet him. “Glad you came.” Drake grabbed his hand and pumped it hard. “Just a second. I’ll close this door then we can talk.”
     Britt saw the woman immediately—long, luscious legs in dark hose led up to a short skirt. Shoulder length sable hair, flawless skin and full lips that instantly elevated his blood pressure. He swallowed before he said, “Hello.”
     She didn’t speak, just continued to stare at him, sizing him up like it was her God-given right.
     Britt groaned inwardly. Drake better have a damned good reason to bring him here, because the way this lady was eyeing him made him feel extremely uncomfortable. Strike that. Extremely aroused and uncomfortable.
     “Okay.” Drake rubbed his hands together as he sat behind his desk. “Let’s get down to business right away.”
     “Aren’t you forgetting an introduction?” Britt tipped his head toward the eye candy in the corner.
     “Right. This is Jess Vandermire, Lieutenant of our new unit. Jess, I’d like to introduce you to one of the best cops I’ve ever worked with, John Brittain.”
     Britt started to ask Drake what new unit he was talking about but cringed instead as Drake added the last. Even though he felt honest-to-God gratitude at Drake’s statement, guilt surged through him. He didn’t deserve that kind of praise.
     “Mr. Brittain.” Her voice slipped over him like silk. Crazy as it sounded, he felt as if she’d physically caressed him—with her tongue!
     He shivered. Embarrassed by his reaction to her, he mumbled something hopefully unintelligible, before dragging his gaze back to Drake. He had a sinking feeling Drake was going to ask him to do bodyguard duty or something equally distasteful. He’d decided a long time ago that he’d never stoop to that type of job. He’d been one of the best cops in the city, and if he couldn’t be a real cop, he sure as hell wouldn’t settle for the next best thing. That’s why he’d become a taxi driver. Driving a cab was about as far from being a cop he could get.
     “Before you say anything, Britt, listen to what I have to tell you.” Drake screwed up his leathery face. “Fact is, I’d like to offer you a job with the police force.”
     Britt felt as if a sudden weight had fallen on his chest and was affecting his breathing. “Not funny, Drake. You know that’s not possible. Hell, I’d give my eyeteeth to be able to come back. But not with my partner’s death hanging over my head. No one will accept me, and I don’t blame them.”
     “Did you say eyeteeth?” Drake said.
     The lady’s eyes sparkled dangerously at Drake. Talk about giving him the “you’d-better-watch-yourself look.”
     Drake suddenly went a sickly pale and said to the woman, “Sorry, Jess. That was in bad taste.” What the hell did Drake mean by that?
      Britt stood and scraped the chair back with his legs. “Never mind. I’ll just pretend you didn’t ask me to return. I’m leaving.”
     “No! Hear me out first.”
     Britt glared at Drake and raked a hand through his hair in frustration. “I’m a freaking outcast, man! I’ll never be able to come back. And, to be honest, I can’t believe you’d even suggest I could, even if I was innocent. Which we both know I’m not. So stop yanking my chain.”
     As far as ticked expressions went, Jess Vandermire’s registered at least an eight on a scale from one to ten. Apparently, she didn’t like the way the conversation was going. “This offer is legit,” she said. “The real deal. You’ll be a New York City Cop again with full pay and benefits.”
     Britt threw his hands into the air. Christ! Didn’t these two understand the word no? “If you think I’ll work with some private company, I’ll tell you right now, I’m never going to work as a damned bodyguard. Not even if you call me a cop in the process.” His shoulders slumped. No way could he tell them how much saying those words hurt; how much he still wanted to be a cop.
     “Nah, it’s not like that at all,” Drake said. “I’d never ask you to be a bodyguard. You’ll be a New York City Police Officer again. Your record will be expunged.”
     Even though Drake’s voice emphasized the “expunged” part, he looked squeamish as hell. Britt didn’t miss the fact that his eyes kept darting toward Jess.
     Britt bit his bottom lip and squeezed his hands into tight firsts. “Can you expunge the fact that I killed my partner?”
     “No. I wish I could.” Drake at least looked repentant.
     “So do I, Drake. So do I.” He looked at his shoes and swallowed.
     Suddenly, Jess Vandermire said, “The unit I run is a top-secret operation. Absolutely no one outside the Special Ops team can know about it. Before I can give you any details, you have to decide if you want in.” Her soft, velvet-smooth voice was about as erotic as a voice could get.
     He gaped at her. Didn’t she just hear what he’d said? And, damnit, as much as her voice affected him, he was too irritated to be distracted by her. Did they think they were talking to a rookie, for Christ’s sake?
     “Isn’t that slightly backward? If I don’t know what the job is about, how am I supposed to make an informed decision?” Britt countered.
     “You’re not. You have to decide if you want in without knowing the full details. You should know, however, that this unit isn’t for wimps. It’s a dangerous job. People will die. If you accept the position, your life will be on the line every night.”
     “And that’s different from being a cop how?”
     “Cops aren’t necessarily in constant physical danger. You will be.”

* * * *

Jess watched John Brittain frown, saw the rigid jaw muscle flex. His eyes registered anger and could probably instill fear about as efficiently as anyone she’d ever met. Of course, she wasn’t afraid of him, but that look could come in useful if he accepted the job. Yeah, he was tough all right, but could he handle the whole truth?
     She leaned forward. “Now’s the time to ask yourself if you want back on the force bad enough to risk dying for it. Only the strongest and smartest cops will make it out of this alive. We need you, Britt. We need the best we can get. I wish I could tell you more, but right now isn’t the time.”
     “What are you going to do, infiltrate a biker gang or something?”
     “That, Mr. Brittain, would be a cakewalk compared to what this unit will have to do.”
     “Is that so?” He put his hands on his hips.
     “And then some,” Drake added.
     Jess looked at Britt. He looked plain haggard, though she liked his hazel eyes, the firm line of his mouth. She’d bet he wasn’t the kind of man who’d back down in the face of danger. She could smell fear from Drake, but nothing from Britt. He wasn’t in the least affected by what they’d just told him. His expression remained deliberate, calculating. She was impressed by his cool demeanor. He’d be an asset on her team.
     Britt shoved his hands into his pockets. “The best I can tell you is I’ll consider your offer.”
     Drake wouldn’t accept a negative answer right now, and Britt knew it. Jess marveled at how men could interact with each other without saying a word. Drake nodded his head and let him go.
     Later, after Britt left to think their offer over, Jess crawled into the chair he’d been sitting in. No use trying to absorb the former occupant’s warmth, he’d been out of the chair for too long. “Do you think he’ll say yes, Drake? He looked pretty indecisive when he left.”
     “I’ll admit he’s been through a lot the last couple of years, but he was never a man to jump in without weighing his options. That’s what made him good. He thought quickly, but he also made sure he took the time to make good decisions when time allowed. I’d sure as hell like to know what happened with his partner. It still doesn’t feel right. I guess everyone has some evil in them, but Britt—he’s not a killer.”
     “If that’s true, he won’t do very well on my team. I need killers. The best killers in the game.”


City of Sin: Naughty Nooners

City of Sin
Rena Marks
Kindle Edition
Published January 20th 2011 by Ellora's Cave

Kelly Morgan takes her best friend Vince on a vacation to the City of Sin to recover from the breakup of his marriage. But sin, lust and alcohol don’t mix, especially when you’re sharing a room with a sexy, hard-muscled bodybuilder. One who dances part-time and has moves Kelly can only wonder about. One who shows a vast amount of tanned, smooth skin as he wanders around the motel room in briefs…and nothing else.

A weekend in Vegas leaves Kelly and Vince toeing the line between friends and lovers.

After a long flight and a couple fruity drinks, Kel's bent over the porcelain throne complaining about being over heated. Long time friend and lickable sex, Vince, proceeds to strip her of her clothes. Okay. That makes some sense. He then starts grinding his manhood into her pelvis. Nope. Not much sense there.

After that there's no hesitation. Friendship be damned. Then again, with sex this hot, who the hell needs friendship? The two work up a slick sweat fast and furious and although I'm usually prepared for the abrupt ending of these Naughty Nooners, I was in no way ready for this cement wall. Definitely going to have to look further into Rena Marks' work because this little tease was oh so not enough! 4 out of 5 stars.

Sporting Wood: Naughty Nooners

Sporting Wood
Cindy Spencer Pape
Kindle Edition
Published January 20th 2011 by Ellora's Cave
First published 2010
Part of the Immortal Cravings series.

What happens when a werewolf and a dryad meet in the forest at night? For Cooper and Kyla, the result is smoldering-hot passion beyond anything they’ve ever known.Even though there’s no real future for a botany professor and a nymph who lives in a tree, Coop keeps returning, night after night, for the steamiest sex of his life. When their fiery passion turns to love, it seems hopeless, unless a determined Kyla can find a way to keep her man.

Cooper Marceski, werewolf and scientist, goes running through the woods and stumbles upon a sacred grove. There, he finds two alders and suddenly he's a moron talking to a tree.

Now I'm new to the whole trees possessed by nymphs world. I'm sure there's a word for it- I don't know it. Liked Ferngully and Pocahontas and all that jazz but although I found this story a bit refreshing, I couldn't bring myself to get past the oddity of it all. A wolf just a mated a tree for gods' sake. And don't get me started on the title. 2 out of 5 stars.


Most Unpopular Workday of the Year

Most Unpopular Workday of the Year
Ashlyn Chase
Kindle Edition
Published February 10th 2011 by Ellora's Cave
First published October 4th 2010

Andy is the new nurse and has to work on Christmas Day. She's part of a skeleton crew taking care of one little boy with end-stage Muscular Dystrophy. As she reads to him, Jeff, a young intern, visits. Through their love of this little boy, Andy and Jeff discover a deep connection and love for each other.

I believe every male, when contemplating a potential partner, should have the question 'Is this someone I could marry?' on mind before getting involved with any female, so I was happy to find Jeff, the leading man of this story, of a similar mind. Of course, one doesn't have to actually do the deed weeks later as he and Andy did but the whole hit it and ditch it philosophy has never been appealing to me.

The story itself is of a nurse who opens her heart to a young boy and ultimately finds true love with a similarly compassionate doctor. There is a slight religious aspect, a few warm kisses, and a sentimental message for all of those who give of themselves. Although it reads like an accounting of a real experience, I hope it's not. I'd hate to think anyone gets married that quickly. 3 out of 5 stars.

The After Party: Naughty Nooners

The After Party
Wynter Daniels
Published by Ellora's Cave Publications
ISBN 9990100000510
Publisher’s Note: This story was previously published elsewhere under the title Kissing Cousins.
Free read from Elora's Cave

Victoria meets a handsome stranger at a relative’s wedding. When he asks her out for a drink after, she invites him to her place. After a steamy encounter, they discover they have more than their profession and their love of cats in common. Their paths have crossed before. But will that connection end what they’ve just begun?

Two things I didn't care for about this story. 1) Jake was way too forward and 2) Why do these guys always walk around with a condom in their pocket?

The good news is, everything else I loved.

Victoria and Jake capture one another's attention across the reception hall and end up back at her place. After some quick, yet surprisingly hot, couch sex it comes out that there just might be a familial link between the two. Plus, there's a tad bit of history there. Quick and fulfilling, this is a prime example of what the standard should be for these short stories from Elora's Cave. 4 out of 5 stars.


Acquired Taste: Naughty Nooners

Acquired Taste
Shayla Kersten
Published by Ellora's Cave Publications
ISBN 9990100000530
Sequel to Icing on the Cake

Jeff knows Ollie is the best thing to happen to him since the invention of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Too bad Jeff’s determined to screw things up. If the thought of walking away after three months hurts this much, Jeff knows he’d never survive when things eventually did end.

Ollie refuses to let Jeff go without mixing up a batch of hot sex—his way. While bondage might be an acquired taste, Jeff’s never given it a chance. Now Ollie plans to shake and bake Jeff’s world—before kicking him to the curb.

Having come to the realization that he's fallen in love with his boyfriend, Ollie, Jeff believes it's all too much too fast, and begins to cancel dates and screw things up in hopes that Ollie will go ahead and leave him now instead of later.

He playacts drunk and arrives late for their dinner. They unknowingly both agree this will be their last night and Ollie decides it's going to end his way. Whips, binds, and all. And Jeff gives it to him. Finding, quite surprisingly, that he enjoys the rougher side of sex.

It's a story about the first 'I love you' and is rather well written. The sex is far from hot and gets to the point much too quickly but, all things considered, it isn't such a bad, short read. Being unfamiliar with its predecessor, I can only rate this from a standalone perspective while suspecting that fans would find far more enjoyment in the bite than I have. 2 out of 5 stars.


Run, Wolf: Nightfall Wolf Clans, #1

Run, Wolf
Keith Melton
Nightfall Wolf Clans, book one
Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy
Published August 25th 2009 by Samhain Publishing
ISBN 9781605046532

Leah Kendrick is guilty of only one crime: loving her human mate, Tom, enough to give him the gift of The Bite. The Pack council is merciless, and the punishment swift. In an instant everything she’s ever known is ripped away, and they’re turned out into the long winter with nothing. No money, no car, and no protection from a variety of creatures who’d like nothing more than to take down a lone wolf.

Friendless and broke, they form a daring plan to take back what’s theirs and chase safety north. But the Pack has other ideas. And with time running out it’s about to call their bluff.

If memory serves, this was my first shifter written by a man. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Martin slammed his staff down on the floor with a loud crack. The raven feathers swung back and forth. His face made it clear I was less than dog shit to him now. “You are outcast,” he said. “You are Cain. Wander the earth alone, and may the snow never melt from your fur. Go into the darkness knowing you are dead to your family forever.”

This was an exceptionally well written book. That said, it was the premise that didn't appeal to me. Leah has done the unthinkable by changing her human lover into a wolf. Now, they must answer to the pack and judgment is to be passed. Banishment is decided and all that Leah owns is defaulted to the pack.

Pissed off, she and Tom lose their freaking minds and decide to rob the pack. Yes, rob the pack. They're pulling a heist on of their banks from which they walk away with about a thousand dollars. So yeah... It's quick. It's a bit odd for a wolf tale. But, it is an HEA. So... again, yeah. 3 out of 5 stars.

Keith Melton was born in Arizona, but has careened around the country from Oregon to Alaska to Rhode Island. He’s landed back in Oregon, where he lives with his writer wife, daughter and son, and a demon possessed cat. An escapee from the bowels of the corporate world’s lower dungeons, he now writes urban fantasy in the tower of a castle that normal people, including licensed health professionals, assure him is completely imaginary.


aMuse Me

A Muse Me
S.L. Carpenter
Kindle Edition
Published April 4th 2006 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.

He lost his inspiration but found his muse in the Caribbean-in the arms of a woman.

It's a slow death for a writer when the only key getting used on his keyboard is "Delete".

His writer's block is firmly in place like a wall. All there is to do is bang his head against it.

What to do? A change of scenery might help-say a week in the tropics. If nothing else, it will warm his idle fingers and ease his worried mind. A getaway for the mind and soul.

Reservations made, Eugune flies to Aruba in search of answers to his problems. What he finds is more than a couple of fruit drinks with umbrellas in them. On the white sandy beaches, wrapped in almost nothing but a tan is someone who sparks his imagination and ignites his creative flow. He finds his Muse!

Warning, this title contains the following: hot explicit sex told in graphic language.

It had been a good long while since reading the blurb for this story that when I finally dug in I'd completely forgotten the premise. I do this alot actually, but in this case when the 'What is this crap?' comment sprang aloud from my lips as I read the opening pages it was quite comical for a number of reasons.

So yeah, Eugene's writing is in total suckage territory. From there, things just take a ridiculous turn. It's a guy's fantasy through and through as he gets ravaged by a sex crazed woman aboard an airplane on his way to Aruba. -Oh wait! It's a story within a story again. *smacks forehead*

After that, I was on my guard.

The male ego is in excess in this book. All of those stupid lines, crude remarks, and sexual innuendos that men think are just freaking awesome (while I personally find them repulsive) actually *work* on the leading lady.

Thing is, and I hate the pun, this book is very amusing. Even though I felt like I was continuously shaking my head, I was laughing all the while. It's a fun read, and for that alone I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

“Okay, now I have to remind you that this is a date. It by no means is a sex date. So you keep your cool, be a gentleman and show some respect.” Eugene paused. “But if we do get some pussy I want an ‘A’ in the effort department.” He stepped out of the shower and looked back down on his cock. “Remember what we talked about.”

My name is S.L. Carpenter and I'm a writer and an artist, a husband and a father, a slave to the wife and an inspiration to other people I don't know. I call California home and have been here my whole life. I know...poor me.

I've been writing my special brand of insane little stories for many years, but it's only been in the last decade that I've managed to persuade folks to publish them. I expanded my backlist to include single titles, anthologies and several books co-written with my writing partner (and webmistress) Sahara Kelly. My most recent books are available at Samhain Publishing, where I'm also proud to be Art Director.

An Everlasting Bite: Blue Bloods, #1

An Everlasting Bite
Stacey Kennedy
Blue Bloods, book one
ebook, 115 pages
Published November 15th 2010 by Liquid Silver Books
ISBN 9781595787606

Love is born between strangers, yet built upon a bond soul deep―

One Alpha’s vow to protect his mate from looming danger, all the while, mending her soul and stirring her wolfish desires.

A vicious Werewolf attack in Plymouth, Minnesota leaves a young woman violated, bitten and now, transformed into a Werewolf. But Rynn Murphy doesn’t have to face this transformation alone—she has her mate by her side. And the charming Briggs is eager to ease her into this new life and mend her battered soul.

With only weeks to adjust to her new fur, Rynn begins to understand what it truly means to be mated to the Beta, secondhand man to Valor, Patriarch of Wolves. Their leadership over the Alphas brings them in contact with the Montana Alpha, Hendrix. He is in a desperate state to find his abducted daughter. Valor and Briggs agree to give aid in her rescue leaving Rynn to tag along.

But this mission is not without danger. And soon, they discover the ones who have taken this young wolf do not want her found and will stop at nothing to keep her hidden. Or so it may seem, as bodies begin to drop around them, the murderous attempts start to appear more as a hit than a smoke screen—leaving only one question, who is the intended target…

In some ways, when just beginning this book, you can't help but feel dropped in the middle of a story. Hell, one might even feel you're in the middle of a book IN the middle of a series. And yet, as it goes on, more and more is recollected and revisited until you're left with a much smaller gap than one might expect.

Rynn's been changed. There was apparently an entire plot behind it but what's done is done. Rynn has also already found her mate. Briggs. She's accepted him, too. Now here's where we come in as Rynn has just learned that her new friend, Nexi, who, although in love with and engaged to Kydin, is the destined mate of the lord of the Underworld. So I'm a chapter in and I've got a trilogy's worth of drama at my fingertips.

[Question: Anyone know if Nexi and Kydin are from another book? Because they totally dropped off the face of the earth after the first chapter.]

Moving on...

Need I confess of the instant liking I took to Briggs? With Rynn's attack and change, she was also raped and left rather fragile for a while. Where is Briggs? Sleeping in a chair by her bed of course. Aww... And OMG, the guy is on a nonstop course to put to right everything that's gone wrong in Rynn's life. Woot woot for Briggs!!

Now I must have been blinded by the love fest in the book because I really didn't see the motive for the villain coming. Oh sure, I had an inkling on who the guilty party was but the reasons behind it? Nope. Just didn't click. And it was rather obvious, wasn't it? Go figure. 5 out of 5 stars.

Rynn shuddered a little from his touch, watched his finger as it danced on her skin, then glanced back to him. “Well, where is home?”

“Not far from here, just a couple miles or so.” It pleased him to see flickers of arousal in her, even if she wasn’t quite ready to act on it. He liked knowing that he stirred her up a little.

“So, this home of yours…” she said, her tone expectant. “It’s only yours. No one else lives there?”

He nodded, quite taken by her sweet perplexed look—very curious as to what intrigued her so. “It’s ours.”

She shot up, yanked the blankets off and headed for the door.

“Going somewhere?” Briggs laughed, pulled his legs off the bed to stand.

At the door, she glanced over her shoulder, smiled brightly. “Sure am. We’re going home.”

Ragan's Notes

  • Valor - Alpha of the Utah pack; Patriach of all Alphas
  • Isla - daughter of Valor; mated to Thor (Alpha of Texas); annoying as hell (but in a good way)
  • Dante - son of Valor
  • Briggs - Valor's Beta
  • Kydin - Guardian; Nexi's lover and fiance
  • Nexi - Guardian; part Witch; Magnus' mate; Kydin's love
  • Magnus - Lord of the Underworld


Auctioning Charity

Auctioning Charity
Reese Gabriel
ebook, 146 pages
Published June 3rd 2009 by Ellora's Cave
ISBN 9781419922329

Corporate vice president Charity Bradford is up for auction. It's all for a good cause and a huge bid from CEO Roger Morvan brings down the house and buys him dinner with the curvaceous, feisty blonde. But he wants the secretly submissive Charity in his bed.

The very dominant Roger has to figure out how to parlay this opportunity into much more than a dinner date. Nothing less than Charity—naked, bound and begging—will satisfy this Dom's hunger.

"Beware," he said, amused, "of the sort of man you ask to have you."

This baby opened up with a rather good start. There's an extra oomph in it for me when a guy writes a guy's perspective. Hell, a guy's view point is always more interesting, not to forget provocative, to me than a female's. I really don't care how women think.

Of all the BDSM books I've read, some are hardcore while others are very soft. This one had just the right balance for me. Roger isn't all take. He gives plenty and enjoys the hostile banter Charity provides. With very little doubt I'm beginning to take the mind that although woman write much better romance, men have the potential of writing way better sex.

I fancied Roger's mindplay. His fantasies, while not incredibly descriptive, were spontaneous, light, and, of course, dirty. He's a great Dom. I most enjoyed his bafflement and caution as he comes to realize that his desire to bring out Charity's submissive nature/fantasies weighs against his desire just to have her. A Dom that's possibly already in love with the woman he wishes to claim really does make for a thrilling romantic read. 4 out of 5 stars.

Reese Gabriel is a born romantic with a taste for the edgier side of love. Having traveled the world and sampled many of the finer things, Reese now enjoys the greater simplicities—barefoot walks by the ocean, kisses under moonlight and whispers of passion in the darkness with that one special person.

Preferring to remain behind the scenes, cherished by a precious few, Reese hopes to awaken in the lives of many the possibilities of true love through stories of far off places and enchanted lives.

For the sake of love and hope and imagination, these stories are told. May they be enjoyed as much in the reading of them as in the writing.


Halfway Hexed: Southern Witch Novel #3

"Tamara, what's Jenna Reitgarten doing in my scotch?"

Halfway Hexed
Southern Witch Novel, book three
Kimberly Frost
Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Berkley Trade
ISBN13: 9780425238769

First, there are the local residents who form a scripture-spouting posse and kidnap Tammy to "defend" Duvall, Texas, against witchcraft. Next, someone saddles her with a secret package chock full of dangerous visions, just as the president of WAM-the World Association of Magic- arrives with his entourage to investigate her. And who worse to examine Tammy's entanglement with off-limits and drop-dead gorgeous wizard Bryn Lyons than his ex-girlfriend? Not to mention that the clash between the locals and the magical visitors leads to a series of unnatural disasters that may doom them all.

While the fate of the town hangs in the balance, one thing's certain: this would-be witch is ready to rumble, Texas style.

I do so enjoy Frost's humor. And YAYS, no Zack in sight! Woot woot!

This installment kicks off with one kidnapping after another. All in the same day. And every time, it's Tamara. As always, she runs to Bryn, our favorite borderline-dark-side wizard.

Halfway Hexed really sets the stage around Bryn. Humanizing him in a big way and earning some major sympathy points. Of course, I was already behind Bryn but hopefully this just solidifies his and Tamara's relationship. There's no flipping way she's going back to Zach.

Tamara gets delivered a brooch which sparks her first ever vision. And it's of Bryn's mother. So there's finally a need to truly get to the heart of this famous prophecy that gives reason that Tam and Bryn should never be together. There's a hellalot of issues with the townsfolk and the Conclave. Lots of kidnapping, car smashing, truth serums, and poisonings. Oh, let's not forget the Biblical plagues and it is Texas so *everybody* has a freaking gun. Never a dull moment, ya know? And when Tamara starts her chatting with inanimate objects the fun just gets better and better.

And then we meet Andre, Bryn's best friend, who is as awesome as awesome gets.

Loved the ending! It left me wonderfully giddy, and a very happy girl. 4 out of 5 stars.

Other books in this series:
Would-Be Witch, book one
Barely Bewitched, book two


Wish List: March (and more)

March 1

March 1


After a ridiculously long hiatus, one of which I never imagined myself capable of, I am back!

But on a spending freeze. No new books until my TBR shelf is empty, sanitized and polished. Which sucks because Hidden Away was just released this week. Waaaah! And I must finish by September for the new Chronicles of Elantra book. MUST!

I'm aiming for a book a week just to get back into the swing of things. Quite the change from one a day, eh? Considering a few re-reads as well.

On top of the no new books, I won't be browsing either. Too tempting. It only gets me into trouble. I have built my box and I won't be stepping out of it.

So on to Halfway Hexed. Maybe this time I'll actually turn past the cover.