Friday, May 29, 2009

Check out The Quirky Ladies Interview with Dalton Diaz and Samantha Cayto!

Penelope is proud as a peacock (maybe I shouldn't have used that word! hee hee) of her critique partner Dalton Diaz. Her second book was released today on Ellora's Cave! Martinis for everyone! Please stop by The Quirky Ladies blog today and check out the funny interview with Dalton and her co-author Samantha Cayto. Their new erotic book, Illegal Moves, is a spicy menage story. You know, habanero spicy. Cayenne spicy. Smoking! Since I had the good fortune to actually read this novel as they were writing it, I can tell you it's fabulous. In fact, I will be reviewing it next week. After I take a cold shower. Happy reading everyone!
P.S. You must check out the full book cover. It's derriere-lish. No kidding.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Emily Bryan Reviews A Little Light Magic by Joy Nash

Please welcome my first guest reviewer (woo hoo!) Emily Bryan! Emily is one of my favorite historical romance authors. She has written a wonderful review of A Little Light Magic by Joy Nash for your reading pleasure. Special thanks to Emily for the great review, and to Joy for writing a lovely book!

Review by Guest Reviewer Emily Bryan

As a writer, I usually read to analyze how other authors handle "writerly" issues - POV shifts, info dumps, character arc, etc. So cracking the spine of a book is part of what I do to hone my craft. 

But there are a few authors whose prose sucks me so completely into their fictive dream, they make me forget that I'm a writer too. One member of that elite group is Joy Nash.

I've sighed with contentment over her Druids of Avalon series and listened to my heart pound in my ears while reading her Immortals stories. So I wondered how she'd do with A Little Light Magic, a tale set on the prosaic Jersey shore. As usual, Joy works her magic and I am completely drawn into her characters' lives.

Her heroine Tori is the delightfully quirky owner of a New Age shop in possession of some magic "hoodoo" candles. Her hero Nick is the hunky contractor who agrees to take on her little "repair" project in order to get her shop open in time for the solstice. She's high on the metaphysical world and his feet are set firmly on the ground.

They're perfect for each other.

Joy Nash peoples her novel with achingly real secondary characters with their own very real issues - Nick's teenage daughter struggling with whether or not to put out for her popular boyfriend, his shoplifting grandmother, his menopausal mother who lies about her secret weekly trysts, Tori's lesbian couple friends and their new baby. Joy has a knack for creating characters who breathe on their own.

So, run out today and give your summer the kick off it deserves with Joy Nash's A Little Light Magic. You will thank me.

Thanks for letting me guest review today, Penelope! For more of my recommendations, please visit Em's Picks!

Thanks, Emily! Here are a few links my readers might enjoy...happy reading everyone! 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Blast From The Past: Review of A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole (2006)
There are not many romance novels that earn my ultimate seal of approval. Which happens when I finish a book and think "Holy Mother Of God...that was un-freakin'-believable!" Kresley Cole's first installment of her IAD series (Immortal After Dark) is one such book.  It is so damned original, unexpected and brilliant that I honestly think it's the (drum-roll please) Number One Paranormal Romance Novel Of All Time.  It's Cole's combination of humor, pop culture references, incredibly hot sex scenes, and amazing characters that do the trick.  Her introduction of this paranormal world (werewolves, vampires, demons, witches, Valkyries, etc.) is simply out of this world.  Lachlain, King of the Lykae, and Emmaline Troy, daughter of Helen of Troy (!) and a vampire king, are one of the greatest paranormal pairings I've ever read. His lusty intensity and devotion to his unexpected mate, and her surprising metamorphosis from a fearful immortal into a kick-ass warrior/vampire-slayer, make for one rocking ride. Emmaline's fey family is one the most hilarious, original and complex family units you'll find in paranormal romance. I love them! And that cover is the hottest thing I've ever seen. If you have never checked out Cole's series, I highly recommend this book. It will leave you hungry for more. Grade: A+
Pleased to be re-reading old favorites,

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Review of At Last Comes Love by Mary Balogh

At Last Comes Love by Mary Balogh
The first book of the new Huxtable series by Balogh was sweet (First Comes Marriage).  The second one (Then Comes Seduction) was a snoozer.  The third one, At Last Comes Love, really rocked my boat. Why? The characters. It's all about the characters.  The premise of this book is wickedly delicious...Duncan Pennethorne must marry within fifteen days, before his grandfather's 80th birthday, or lose his family home and income.  Margaret Huxtable is desperate for a quickie fiancee to fling in her ex-lover's face.  These two run (literally) into each other at Lady Tindell's ball.  Duncan asks the beautiful stranger in his arms..."What is your hurry? Why not stay and dance with me? And then marry me and live happily ever after with me?"  Margaret responds, "Does it have to be in that order?"  Oh, what a perfectly fabulous hook!! Long live Mary Balogh!! Duncan is an absolute blacksheep of the ton who, according to the gossip mill, left his last bride at the altar and took off with her married sister.  The dark secrets he hides about the truth of this scenario slowly unfold, and we (and of course Margaret) realize he is actually a man of honor.  Margaret seems to be an over-the-hill spinster who spent her marriageable years taking care of her younger siblings.  She turns out to have an iron will and a repressed sensuality that her new husband nurtures.  The scene where she meets Duncan's grandfather is priceless! Margaret parries with the crotchety old coot and ends up victorious.  She's not such a dull miss after all.  This delightful story is Balogh all the way...the awakening sensuality of a new bride, the shocking secret lives of the ton, the blossoming courtship between two lonely souls.  Stephen's story, Seducing An Angel, is next, and I can't wait.  At Last Comes Love is...simply delightful! Grade: A
Wishing all of you a Happy Monday,

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion

I just wanted to share the rocking cover for my romance novel, which will be published by The Wild Rose Press.  Cookies, anyone?  Here's the book blurb, for your reading pleasure!

Sweet Inspiration

What if the legend of Santa Claus is in fact, true? What if Santa has five big strapping sons who help him run his empire? Five single, sexy sons looking for romance...

Nicholas Klaus is a master pastry chef, a strict disciplinarian, and the eldest son of the legendary Santa Claus. One look at cafe owner Lucy Brewster sends him into an unexpected tailspin of lusty desires. When Lucy is injured, Nicholas makes a decision that catapults their lives into turmoil...

Lucy Brewster, the free-spirited proprietor of Sweet Inspiration, has a flair for concocting sugary confections but no time for adventure. She gets more than she bargained for when she awakens in the North Pole...rambunctious elves, a fitness-obsessed Santa, and the man of her dreams. Does she have what it takes to become the next Mrs. Klaus?

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Couple of Snoozers

I have read a bevy of great books lately, but I've also slept through a couple. Mary Balogh's Then Comes Seduction is not her best work. Katherine Huxtable is just plain boring and so is the story. Margaret's story, At Last Comes Love, is next in line and looks more promising. I'm looking forward to it since I love Balogh and was disappointed in Then Comes Seduction.  My worry that the Huxtables could never compare to the Bedwyns is unfortunately coming true.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the next installment.

I also read Christine Feehan's Burning Wild this past week. Not her best effort, I must say. First of all, the beginning of the book details Jake's horrific child abuse at the hands of his parents.  Call me funny, but I just don't think child abuse and romance mix all that well. (This is one of the reasons I don't love contemporary romance...I don't want to be reminded of the horrors of real life, I'm looking for escape.) The rest of the book is basically...well, boring. Hard to believe that a shape-shifting Christine Feehan book could be boring, but there you have it. Too much whining, introspection, how can I learn to love after my shiteous upbringing, blah, blah, blah. And Emma is too good to be true. I am looking forward to the release of the final Drake Sisters novel, Hidden Currents (Elle's story), which will be out on June 30 (my birthday!).  Also, Feehan's newest Carpathian novel Dark Slayer will be released in September of 2009. Dark Slayer is the story of Ivory Malinov and Razvan, and should be a fascinating book. I can't wait!

After finishing Jacquie d'Alessandro's Tempted at Midnight, I went back to read some of her oldies.  I just finished re-reading Red Roses Mean Love (1999), and I want to heartily recommend this book to those of you who have not checked it out.  D'Alessandro is truly a brilliant historical romance writer, and this touching, humorous story is a keeper! 

Please leave a comment with any and all suggestions for me, especially if you have read a romance lately that you adored!
Thanks, Penelope

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Review of The Perfect Poison by Amanda Quick

The Perfect Poison by Amanda Quick
Penelope has two great passions in her life (aside, of course, from her fly-fishing addicted husband and two rocking kids)...romantic fiction and plants. Yes, along time ago (in a galaxy far, far away) Penelope earned a degree in plant science from an ivy league university, and her obsession with plants continues to this day. So, just imagine my delight to discover a book that combines these two obsessions!  The Perfect Poison by Amanda Quick is so right up my alley, it's ridiculous.  A heroine who knows the Latin names for all things botanical (and wears glasses).  A hero who is a psychically enhanced, socially-inept, intensely single-minded investigator obsessed with finding mathematical patterns in everything (did I mention that my hubbie was a valedictorian?)  Quick's latest addition to the Arcane Society series is my perfect cup of (hopefully non-poisoned) tea.  I have been intrigued by Caleb Jones since the commencement of this series, and Quick did not disappoint with his story. Lucinda Bromley, botanical genius and a fellow member of the Arcane Society (her "gift" is determining if someone has been poisoned by a botanical it!) is the perfect complement to Jones.  She frees him from his self-imposed jail of numbers, patterns and a fear of imminent insanity with her no-nonsense approach to life (and love).  I especially like how Quick incorporates the psychic aspect into the love scenes of these novels...the sex is not only emotionally and physically satisfying, but also psychically that! I must say that their first love scene in the drying shed is one of  the most romantic scenarios I could imagine...Caleb makes a fragrant "bed" of dried flowers and herbs on the ground, covers them with his coat, and makes love to Lucinda.  Sigh.  As usual, the humorous dialogue is excellent, secondary characters intriguing, and the villains shady and mysterious.  Quick may have these historicals down to a certain formula, but it's a great formula. Don't mess with perfection, in my not so humble opinion.
Grade: A
With the highest recommendation,

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Review of Lover Avenged by J.R.Ward

Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward
JR Ward is taking her fans on a bumpy journey with The Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  It started out with a bang (Dark Lover, book 1), built up incredible steam through book 4, crashed and burned (in my not so humble opinion) in books 5 and 6, and now book 7, Lover Avenged, has erupted back onto the scene as one incredible story. Last night while my family was watching American Idol, I hid in the kitchen with this book, unable to put it down for even a second. My daughter kept screaming, "Mom, you're missing American Idol!" but honestly, Adam Lambert could not possibly compete with Rehv. Sorry.  Ward has created another spellbinding installment of this series with Rehvenge's story...he is a fascinating and complex character who deserved a great book, and Ward delivered.  Her formula of weaving multiple storylines, a primary romance, and a violent war between the Lessers and the vampires of Caldwell, has been at times very successful, and at times a failure (Lover Enshrined). Lover Avenged is absolutely perfectly balanced...we get a satisfying love story between Rehvenge, a half-sympath/half-vampire, and Ehlena, a vampire nurse with a heart of gold. We get amazing storylines about Tohr, who is recovering from a life-altering trauma (the death of his shellan), and Wrath, the king, who is developing full-blown blindness.  (I am not as thrilled with John and Xhex's storyline...unfortunately, I just don't find either of these characters very likable, and I'm wondering what Ward is planning to do with this couple.)  My favorite parts of this book? The final climatic scene in the sympath colony is reminiscent of a Stephen King book...unbelievably great! The hideous and vile sympath princess is a fantastic villain (better than Lash, the Omega's son, in my opinion).  I also LOVE Tohr and his storyline...the scene where Tohr and Rhage are sitting around shooting the s--t is wonderful. Ward has also done a great job with Wrath's storyline, the shocking ultimate loss of his vision. The undying support of his Brothers and his shellan is really what this series is all about. Loyalty and complete devotion. My only major complaint is that Ehlena's acceptance of Rehv's double life (drug-dealing club owner) is a little too pat. Wasn't quite on board with that.  But her daring rescue of the man she loves is a fabulous resolution to this book, and a return to what I adored about Ward's earliest books in the series...romance! The bottom line about Lover Avenged? It is captivating. I am personally thrilled that JR Ward has recaptured the magic of this series.  She is back with a vhengeance. 
Grade: A