Friday, April 29, 2011

Interview and Giveaway: Chloe Neill - Hard Bitten Blog Tour

Please join me in welcoming one of my favorite authors: Chloe Neill, author of the fabulous vampire series, The Chicagoland Vampires (my review of Hard Bitten is here), and also a YA series, The Dark Elite. Ms.Neill was kind enough to answer a few questions and offer a cool giveaway!

Book Addict: I know that you have a day job. Do your co-workers know you’re a published author?

Chloe Neill: There are a number of folks in my office, but many of them do, yes. They've been very supportive of my writing! I think it has improved my writing at work, as well, so that helps.

Book Addict: You have seven books under contract in the series - do you have a specific end to the series planned or will you try to continue to write the Chicagoland Vampires for as long as the ideas keep coming?

Chloe Neill: Definitely the latter. There are things I want to accomplish in the series, but I also really enjoy writing about Merit so I don't currently have an end date in mind.

Book Addict: Your characters are a joy to read. When I’m reading I feel like I know them :) Do you have a favorite character?

Chloe Neill: Thank you! I like all the characters for different reasons. I relate to Merit, and I respect Mallory's focus. Ethan tries (and often fails) to do the right thing by his vampires, and Jeff is such a good, cheerful soul. Mayor Tate is pretty intriguing, I think. We meet more of him in both HARD BITTEN and DRINK DEEP.

Book Addict: Can you tell us something silly that we don’t know about Merit?
Chloe Neill: She has a collection of the OLIVIA children's books that she absolutely adores. They're with her at Cadogan House (although she wouldn't admit that to many people.)

Book Addict: I love that Merit loves food – are you a foodie?

Chloe Neill: Definitely, although a different type of foodie than Merit. I'm a vegetarian, so I don't eat the same kinds of things that she does. But I share her love of chocolate and fine baked goods. :)

Book Addict: There were some big plot twists in Hard Bitten but the ending left me hopeful for Merit’s future. Is it as hard for you to write emotionally intense scenes as it is for us to read them?

Chloe Neill: There are scenes in all the books that make me laugh out loud and, on occasion, cry. The intense scenes are actually a bit easier to write because the emotion tends to push the momentum along, but they definitely move me, as well.

Book Addict: Do you read other books in the vampire genre or do you try to stay away from that?

Chloe Neill: I used to read LOTS, but writing has kind of ruined me for reading fiction, unfortunately. But I still keep up with JR Ward's BDB series, of course! :)

Book Addict: Thank you again for answering my questions! Congratulations on the release of Hard Bitten. I really enjoyed Hard Bitten and am looking forward to Drink Deep. Go Merit!!!

Chloe Neill: Thanks for having me!


Ms. Neill has graciously offered a Cadogan House prize pack to one lucky commenter! Leave a comment with your e-mail address to be entered.
Ends Friday, May 6.

Hard Bitten
~Chloe Neill

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: New American Library
Publish Date: May 3, 2011
ISBN-10: 0451233328
ISBN-13: 978-0451233325

From the author's website:
Times are hard for newly minted vampire Merit. Ever since shapeshifters announced their presence to the world, humans have been rallying against supernaturals--and they're camping outside of Cadogan House with protest signs that could turn to pitchforks at any moment. Inside its doors, things between Merit and her Master, green-eyed heartbreaker Ethan Sullivan are ... tense. But then the mayor of Chicago calls Merit and Ethan to a clandestine meeting and tells them about a violent vamp attack that has left three women missing. His message is simple: get your House in order. Or else.

Merit needs to get to the bottom of this crime, but it doesn't help that she can't tell who's on her side. So she secretly calls in a favor from someone who's tall, dark, and part of underground vamp group that may have some deep intel on the attack. Merit soon finds herself in the heady, dark heart of Chicago's supernatural society--a world full of vampires who seem to ready to fulfill the protesting human's worst fears, and a place where she'll learn that you can't be a vampire without getting a little blood on your hands...

You can read the first chapter here!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Get Around....

Jojo's Book Corner

I'm over at JoJo's Book Corner today talking about Karen Marie Moning's Highlander series as part of her 30 Days of Highlanders!
Stop by and say hi!


I'm also at Fiction Vixen's place reviewing Bite Club by Rachel Caine. Head on over and see what I thought about the latest book in her Morganville Vampire series!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Review: Hard Bitten by Chloe Neill

Hard Bitten
~Chloe Neill

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: New American Library
Publish Date: May 3, 2011
ISBN-10: 0451233328
ISBN-13: 978-0451233325

From the author's website:
Times are hard for newly minted vampire Merit. Ever since shapeshifters announced their presence to the world, humans have been rallying against supernaturals--and they're camping outside of Cadogan House with protest signs that could turn to pitchforks at any moment. Inside its doors, things between Merit and her Master, green-eyed heartbreaker Ethan Sullivan are ... tense. But then the mayor of Chicago calls Merit and Ethan to a clandestine meeting and tells them about a violent vamp attack that has left three women missing. His message is simple: get your House in order. Or else.

Merit needs to get to the bottom of this crime, but it doesn't help that she can't tell who's on her side. So she secretly calls in a favor from someone who's tall, dark, and part of underground vamp group that may have some deep intel on the attack. Merit soon finds herself in theheady, dark heart of Chicago's supernatural society--a world full of vampires who seem to ready to fulfill the protesting human's worst fears, and a place where she'll learn that you can't be a vampire without getting a little blood on your hands...

Hard Bitten picks up a few months after Twice Bitten leaves off - Cadogan House has been attacked and the vamps are slowly rebuilding. Of course, things can't just stay quiet, and Merit and Ethan are called into the Mayor's office to discuss a possible vampire attack: Apparently vampires are having "raves" and the violence is escalating. The Mayor wants it handled or he's going to arrest Ethan. Merit starts investigating, and calls in a favor from a friend - Jonah, a vamp from Grey House, and a member of the Red Guard (sort of a secret vampire police). With a little luck, they manage to get into a rave, and witness the evening transform from a quiet interlude into a testosterone-filled frenzy - and they can't figure out why.

After a night at the local vampire bar, and another vampire free-for-all, things start adding up: someone's making and selling vampire drugs. Add to that the fact that one of the elite vampire leaders from Europe is visiting Cadogan House to check on things and potentially appoint a replacement for Ethan, and Merit is under a lot of pressure to put an end to the problem.

My thoughts: O.O *blinks* O.O

Hard Bitten blew me away! Although it's a 350 page book, it felt like a short story: I couldn't put it down - I had to keep reading to find out what happened next. Let's just get right to it:

Merit and Ethan were hot, hot, hot. I adore Ethan and he really worked at getting Merit back:

"No. I will never be far behind you." He tipped up my chin so that I could do nothing else but look back into his eyes. "Do the things you need to do. Learn to be a vampire, to be a warrior, to be the soldier you are capable of being. But consider the possibility that I made a mistake I regret-and that I'll continue to regret that mistake and try to convince you to give me another chance until the earth stops moving."

He leaned forward and pressed his lips to my forehead, my heart melting even as my more rational side harbored suspicions.

"No one said love was easy, Sentinel."
~Hard Bitten, page 88

*sighs* How can you not love him?

We also get plenty of Catcher/Mallory, Jeff, Grampa Chuck, and Lindsey. I was trying to figure out who was my favorite character, but really, I can't choose. Ms. Neill writes fabulous characters that are so well defined that I feel like they're my own friends. There may be a little wrinkle in Catcher and Mallory's world in the form of her magic tutor, Simon; I definitely sensed some tension there. Merit's conversation with her Morgan had me throwing my fist in the air :) I liked getting to know Jonah a little bit better. As the story progressed I liked Jonah more and more, although it seems like his feelings towards Merit may be getting... complicated.

We also meet a new adversary, McKettrick. With his "special-ops" team and his desire to get rid of the vampires, I don't think his work is done and I think we'll be seeing him again. He has the potential to be a bad, bad man...

I thought the drug storyline was a fresh twist to the vampire genre. I don't think I've seen that used in a vampire story before, and now that I've seen it, I don't know why it hasn't been done before - it's brilliant and potentially terrifying for the humans in Merit's world. I couldn't figure out why they were doing it, so the culprit surprised me. I liked the way the mystery wrapped up in that the bad guy has been outed and justice will be served (I assume). "The reveal" was *a bit* overshadowed by "the event", but I never liked this person and am hoping it's the last we see of the character...

And now, for the elephant in the room: The events on page 335/336 left me with my mouth hanging open and gasping for air. I will say this about Ms. Neill - she doesn't shy away from taking risks with her characters! The reason I decided that for me this was a 5-star read? The fact that the author was able to bring such a gut-wrenching reaction from me over the actions of her characters says a lot to me about the book. I was disappointed in the actual "event" itself, but have high hopes that the author knows what she's doing. The last page left me hopeful for Merit's future.

In summary, Hard Bitten is another fabulous installment to the Chicago Vampires series. I cannot imagine where Ms. Neil is going to take us next, but I can't wait to find out!

While I think you would enjoy Hard Bitten as a stand-alone I wouldn't recommend it. There is so much back story that you're missing out on, and the emotional punch is tenfold if you've got all the pertinent info.

My Rating:

Don't forget to stop by on Friday for an
interview and giveaway with Chloe Neill!!

This book was received by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On Reviews...

Here's my thing: I'm a mother of three, married almost 20 years, working full time. When I crack open a book, I want to be entertained. When I rate and/or review a book (I don't review every book I read), that's foremost in my mind. If it's not historically accurate, I'm probably not going to sweat it unless it's totally obvious. And sometimes I'm wrong about that - like the time I looked up medevial dildos (here - see #6) and violet eyes.

So, I'm not a "tough" reviewer - if I'm entertained, I'm happy. This is the scale I use to judge the books I read:

I loved this book!
I couldn't put it down - the kids are eating cereal for dinner
and the laundry is piling up until I'm done reading.
It's going on my keeper shelf!

I really liked this book.
It was hard to put down - I'll probably whip up something quick
to feed the kids and skip the non-essential chores
so I can get back to reading.

This was a good book.
I wasn't on the edge of my seat but I wasn't bored either.
The household chores are still getting done,
but I might cut a few corners.

This book was just okay. I'm not pushing back
any household obligations to read.

I really didn't like this book/Did Not Finish
I probably made up chores to avoid continuing to read.

Seriously, that's it. I'm not looking for a book on how to cure cancer or bring about world peace.* I want to be swept away into someone else's world for a little while, and if a book can do that for me, then I'm happy.

*I'm not trying to disparage authors in any way or belittle the work it takes to write a book. I, personally, do not have the talent and I am in awe of those who do.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Review: No Apologies by Tibby Armstrong

No Apologies
~Tibby Armstrong

Format: e-book
File Size: 278 KB
Publisher: Loose ID
Publish Date: April 12, 2011
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-60737-989-8

From the author's website:
Cheerful and friendly, Aaron Blake has never met a puzzle that intrigues him more than brooding Greg Falkner. He wants to get to know his roommate, but it seems the only way past his shell is through it. When a reluctant friendship turns into a budding romance, can the two keep their feelings secret from their classmates? Or will their newfound love destroy them both?

So goes the story screenwriter Greg Falkner spins for audiences and his longtime partner, Aaron Blake, in No Apologies. Loosely based on their lives together, the film rocks Hollywood with its blatant portrayal of two teenagers falling in love and coming of age in a world that struggles to accept them, while they in turn struggle to accept themselves.

At the end of the evening, will Greg’s risky venture break a relationship that’s already foundering? Or will the real life Greg and Aaron also find their happily ever after with No Apologies?

Aaron Blake has had it. He's tired of hiding from the public eye, even though he's been with his partner, Greg, for almost 10 years. He's got a promise ring that doesn't feel like much of a promise, and he's done with it. Greg begs him to at least come to his movie premier before he decides to call it quits.

Greg Falkner has always had a problem expressing how he feels, and it's impossible for him to say he's sorry or "I love you". He does love Aaron, and his movie is his love letter to Aaron. But will it be enough to salvage the relationship and make up for all those years of not apologizing?

You know, I'm finding that I really like gay coming-of-age stories, and No Apologies is no exception. When the story opens, Aaron is pretty pissed at Greg, and Greg is scrambling not to lose him. He knows this is his last chance to salvage their relationship. The story is set in 2002 but then flashes back to 1994 through the movie.

We see how they met, and how their relationship moved from indifference to friends to lovers, and the bullying they receive by their classmates as a result of their friendship. After graduation, they separate, both going home for the summer before starting college in different parts of the country.

Greg has some pretty messed-up family issues and emotional baggage, and in order to spare dragging Aaron down into it, he leaves. Aaron does some soul-searching at home and realizes that yes, he is gay. And he wants Greg. Then Aaron learns Greg has disappeared, and he risks everything to go searching for Greg.

What I liked: I like both Greg and Aaron for different reasons - Greg is so messed up by past events in his life that the only way he feels like he can be in control is to manipulate people by making them angry enough to hurt him. Aaron makes him feel like it's okay to give up control. They're beautiful together; I wouldn't say they have a D/s relationship, maybe more of a control exchange? Whatever you call it, it works for them. Their sex scenes are tender and rough and beautiful and hot.

I also thought the actions by their classmates are an accurate depiction of the "mob mentality" involved in bullying and showcase the misery the target endures.

I liked the idea of using the movie as a vehicle to showcase their past relationship in present day, although I might have been a bit confused about what was "real" and what was the movie.

What I didn't like: I thought the ending wrapped up too swiftly. Aaron was really angry and his capitulation to Greg at the end came suddenly, and Greg's change of heart about outing himself and all that went with it seemed impulsive based on his reactions to Aaron's requests at the beginning of the book. We also never really found out what set Aaron off in the beginning of the story to make him so angry; unless we're supposed to assume it was a buildup of anger over the years? It was almost like the present day Aaron and Greg swapped places with the past Aaron and Greg.

All in all, though, Aaron and Greg were great characters and I fell hard for their relationship. I couldn't put No Apologies down.

My Rating:

This book was received by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sourcebooks is going Royally Mad with Giveaways!

If you haven’t already checked out the Sourcebooks British Babes Book Brigade Facebook Page (where you can participate in giveaways and interact with authors like Elizabeth Chadwick, Jill Mansell, Helen Hollick, Sarah Bower and Phillipa Ashley and more…) then you should before next week because the page is about to go royally mad!!

The royal wedding is only a week away and they are going to be celebrating all next week. Starting Monday they will be doing a giveaway every day until the big celebration on Friday. But these are no ordinary giveaways – these are royal wedding prize packs!

3 winners will be randomly picked each day:
  • The 1st place winner will get a William & Kate wedding memento (it is top secret for now (just like Kate’s dress) but check the page out on Monday to find out – oh and they are all different so there will be a different memento each day). Along with that they also get their choice of three books from any of the British Book Babes.
  • The 2nd place winner will have their choice of any two books from any of the British Book Babes.
  • The 3rd place winner will have their choice of one book from any of our British Book Babes.

You can visit the page here:


Plus, a bonus Giveaway:
Sourcebooks is providing two Georgette Heyer titles for a “Georgette Giveaway”! To enter, leave a comment with your e-mail address. Ends 4/30.
*edited to add - US and Canada addresses only*

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review: Eternal Rider by Larissa Ione

Eternal Rider (Lords of Deliverance, Book 1)
~Larissa Ione

Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Review Date: April 1, 2011
ISBN-10: 044657449X
ISBN-13: 978-0446574495
ASIN: B0047Y0F6Y

From the author's website:
They are here. They ride. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

His name is Ares, and the fate of mankind rests on his powerful shoulders. If he falls to the forces of evil, the world falls too. As one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he is far stronger than any mortal, but even he cannot fight his destiny forever. Not when his own brother plots against him.

Yet there is one last hope. Gifted in a way other humans can't-or won't-understand, Cara Thornhart is the key to both this Horseman's safety and his doom. But involving Cara will prove treacherous, even beyond the maddening, dangerous desire that seizes them the moment they meet. For staving off eternal darkness could have a staggering cost: Cara's life.

Eternal Rider is book one of the Lords of Deliverance series and is set in the Demonica world. While you don't have to have read the series, I would recommend it (trust me, it's not a hardship - the Demonica series if fabulous!) Lol, we met Ares in Sin Undone, and I thought he was some weird guy riding around on horseback- shows what I know :)

The Lords of Deliverance series is about each of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Ares is War, Reseph is Pestilence, Thanatos is Death, and Limos is Famine. Each horseman has a seal... it's something different for each one. Due to a series of events started by Sin (the heroine in Sin Undone), Reseph's seal has been broken, transforming him into Pestilence. If any other Horseman's seal breaks, it will start the Apocalypse. A fallen angel holds Ares' seal, but Pestilence is going after it as it will be the easiest to break.

Cara Thornhart is human but she's got an extra talent - she can heal animals. She hasn't used her talent in years though, since she accidentally killed someone who was attacking her. She freaked out, her relationship with her boyfriend tanked, and she pulled into herself after that. Then, she gets a knock on the door - a drunk neighbor brings her a dog he hit in the road. She takes the dog, pulls out bullets, and he starts to miraculously begins healing. She's rewarded with a big, doggy kiss. And then all hell breaks loose...

The fallen angel is attacked and transfers the seal to Cara, who's been having weird dreams about the dog she rescued. Now Pestilence is after Cara, and Ares has vowed to protect her. At first it's to protect his seal, but as he gets to know Cara, she brings out feelings he hasn't had in centuries - since his human wife and children were murdered and he swore never to feel again.

I really enjoyed Sin Undone - Larissa Ione is a wonderful storyteller who gives her readers engaging characters and complex plots, and Eternal Rider was no exception. I mean, come on, these are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and I genuinely liked them! (Well, except Pestilence, who was deliciously evil)

Ares and Cara had great chemistry, and they fought it hard. Once they gave in though - ohhhh! Loved it! And Cara's progression from a timid character to a more take-charge personality was good for me, I didn't think I was going to like her but I did.

I'm really interested in Ares' brothers and sister - I liked their characters and am looking forward to their books. I'm curious to see how their seals will be threatened, and Pestilence is one evil, evil guy - I can't wait to see if/how he is redeemed.

Cara's hellhound plotline was great - I thought Hal was awesome wanted to know more; thankfully Ms. Ione gave us much, much more.

I thought after she finished her Demonica series I'd be done with this fabulous world but I enjoyed Eternal Rider and can't wait to find out what happens to the rest of the Horsemen... Limos' book, Immortal Rider, is next - Limos' book - December can't get here fast enough!

My Rating:

This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Review: Never a Gentleman by Eileen Dreyer

Never a Gentleman
~Eileen Dreyer

Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Forever
Publish Date: April 1, 2011
ISBN-10: 9780446542067
ISBN-13: 978-0446542067
ASIN: 0446542067

From Goodreads:
Miss Grace Fairchild is under no illusions about her charms. Painfully plain, she is a soldier's daughter who has spent her life being useful, not learning the treacherous ways of the ton. She may have been caught in a scandal with society's favorite rogue, but how can she marry him when it means losing herself?

Diccan Hilliard doesn't know which of his enemies drugged him and dumped him in Grace's bed, but he does know the outcome. He and Grace must marry. To his surprise, a wild, heady passion flares between them. Yet Diccan is trapped in a deadly game of intrigue Grace knows nothing about. Will his lies destroy Grace just as he realizes how desperately he needs her? And how can he hope for a future with her, when an old enemy has set his murderous sights on them both?

Grace Fairchild is a soldier's daughter, on her way to Dover. She wakes up in Cantebury, in the arms of Diccan Hilliard, a notorious rake. Neither knows how they got there. To save Grace's reputation as a lady and Diccan's reputation as a gentleman, they quickly marry.

Grace is devastated, she'd been planning on finally living life on her own terms, no longer traveling the world with her father, settling down and raising horses. Diccan is a spy, and after this incident he's not sure who to trust.

Once they get to London and Diccan tries to figure out the political intrigue he's involved in, he gets caught up in lies and deceptions, and while his enemies are trying to destroy him, he is slowly destroying Grace.

My thoughts: From perusing Goodreads and Amazon, it's obvious this book has created quite a stir, however, I received this book from the publisher and hadn’t read any reviews before I started reading it. The back blurb sounded good and I thought I’d settle in for a nice Marriage of Convenience historical.

I'm just going to get straight to the point with a High 5/Low 5:
*highlight spoilers (1, 2, and 5) to view*

Here's what I had problems with:
1. Her UNCLE brought her down to watch her husband having sex with his mistress? Her UNCLE?!?
2. As she's watching her husband have sex with his mistress she's getting aroused? No way.
3. I couldn't believe her request to her husband after that.
4. We get it, she's plain. Maybe even ugly. I had a hard time believing all the people who told her that she was ugly and treated her so badly.
5. Diccan's continued mistreatment of Grace. Even though he was "undercover", he had to have known that his repeated insults were unforgivable; especially after he saw how everyone else treated her. spoiler--> I had hoped that he was only giving the illusion of cheating, since they were just married... I knew he wouldn't be cheating on his new wife, right? Wrong!

What I liked:
1. Kate and Bea. They were great friends and I wish she would have unburdened herself to them sooner.
2. I loved that Grace had such a faithful following in her Grenadiers. I wish she had married one of them...
3. Grace's memories of traveling abroad. Her adventures and her love of color were a nice surprise.
4. I loved when Grace stood up to Diccan at Longbridge; we hear so much about Grace's steely resolve, it was fun to witness firsthand.
5. The scenes in the latter half of the book where she was "ill" were wonderfully written and had me all wrapped up in Grace's misery. Hubs actually looked over at me questioningly when I whispered "oh, honey" to poor Grace.

So, while the writing was wonderful and the political intrigue was very good, I couldn't get past "the incident" and the actions that accompanied it.

My Rating:

This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Hard Bitten by Chloe Neill

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Today I am spotlighting Chloe Neill's upcoming book, Hard Bitten, book four in her Chicagoland Vampire series. If you haven't read this series yet you are missing out! Chloe Neill writes a wonderfully multifaceted, kick-ass heroine and amazing secondary characters. This series sucks me in and pulls me under - it's Urban Fantasy that's written so that you feel like it could really happen...The Chicagoland Vampires are a fabulous addition to the vampire genre and I have been waiting for Hard Bitten since I turned the last page of Twice Bitten .

Hard Bitten
~Chloe Neill

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: New American Library
Publish Date: May 3, 2011
ISBN-10: 0451233328
ISBN-13: 978-0451233325

From the author's website:
Times are hard for newly minted vampire Merit. Ever since shapeshifters announced their presence to the world, humans have been rallying against supernaturals--and they're camping outside of Cadogan House with protest signs that could turn to pitchforks at any moment. Inside its doors, things between Merit and her Master, green-eyed heartbreaker Ethan Sullivan are ... tense. But then the mayor of Chicago calls Merit and Ethan to a clandestine meeting and tells them about a violent vamp attack that has left three women missing. His message is simple: get your House in order. Or else.

Merit needs to get to the bottom of this crime, but it doesn't help that she can't tell who's on her side. So she secretly calls in a favor from someone who's tall, dark, and part of underground vamp group that may have some deep intel on the attack. Merit soon finds herself in the heady, dark heart of Chicago's supernatural society--a world full of vampires who seem to ready to fulfill the protesting human's worst fears, and a place where she'll learn that you can't be a vampire without getting a little blood on your hands...

You can read the first chapter here!

I'm also excited to be a stop on her Hard Bitten blog tour!!!
Be sure to stop by on April 29 for an interview and swag giveaway!!!

What are you waiting for?

Mardi Gras Giveaway winner!!!

Congratulations to Myra C!
I've e-mailed the winner. Myra, please contact me at
bookaddictpatti at cox dot net
with your mailing address.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: Any Man of Mine by Rachel Gibson

Any Man of Mine
~Rachel Gibson

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon
Publish Date: April 26, 2011
ISBN-10: 0061579114
ISBN-13: 978-0061579110

From Goodreads:

Autumn Haven's Las Vegas "to-do" list said to catch a show and play the slots—not wake up married to a sexy jerk like Sam Leclaire. The first moment she saw him eyeing her like a luscious piece of the dessert buffet, her usually responsible self told her run. And she did—right into the wildest fantasy weekend of her life. But Monday morning jolted her back to reality and before she could say "pass the coffee" Sam was gone.

Now a successful wedding planner, Autumn she hasn't clapped eyes on the heart-breaking hockey superstar for over two years... until she organizes his teammate's "Special Day," where Sam makes a BIG play to pick up he left off! But she has vowed any man of hers plays for keeps. Is Sam the man for her or does she banish him to the sin bin forever?

As Any Man of Mine opens, the Chinooks hockey team's former Captain, Ty Savage, and the owner, Faith Duffy, are getting married (they were the Hero/Heroine in book 4, True Love and Other Disasters). Their event coordinator is Autumn Haven, ex-wife of Chinooks player Sam LeClaire. Sam hasn't seen Autumn in years, except with regards to their son, Connor. As the story progresses, we learn that Sam and Autumn hooked up in Las Vegas when they were both young and under mental and emotional stress. They got to know each other and impulsively got married after only five days. Sam panicked and left the next morning. He had his attorney contact her for the divorce, and later, after she had Connor and informed his attorney, he demanded a paternity test. Once it was acknowledged that Connor was his, Sam took care of the financial aspects of raising him, but for the most part is not an active participant in raising him.

Sam decides he wants to be a better dad, not turn into the kind of father his own father was, so he starts spending more time with Connor, and subsequently, more time around Autumn. Autumn has seen this behavior before and doesn't think it's going to last, but Sam is determined to make a change. Autumn is bitter, and as you read their history, you see that it's completely understandable. But as Autumn and Sam confront their pasts, perhaps things can change as they grow to understand their own actions as well as each others'.

My thoughts: One of the great things about Rachel Gibson's writing is her ability to pull the reader into her character's heads. As I read Autumn's side of the story I was mad at Sam for being such an ass. As I read Sam's side of the story I felt bad and was frustrated Autumn didn't give him a a second chance to redeem himself.

I love the reunited lovers storyline, and Any Man of Mine does it well. Sam is definitely a tarnished hero; he was really a jerk to Autumn after he left her in Vegas and kind of remained that way over the years. Autumn was rigidly self-reliant after the Vegas debacle, bitter and determined not to need anyone. The way these two clash was totally believable, and as they worked towards a more friendly demeanor I was mentally cheering them on.

Rachel Gibson is excellent at adding humor throughout the story; the scene where Sam caught Autumn wearing a Sidney Crosby Penguins jersey for Halloween was one of my favorites. She also deftly turns up the heat as Autumn and Sam's relationship progresses; the sexual tension between them was nice and hot.

As an aside, I liked that Connor was a realistic character and not written as some exceptionally talented child...he was a regular kindergartner (and wasn't even good at hockey!). I actually liked him and thought he was a cute kid.

Although Any Man of Mine is part of her Chinooks hockey series, the focus was more on the emotional development of both Autumn and Sam; it was just the right blend of personal growth, sexy romance, and hockey action.

My Rating:

This book was received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Review: Alien in the Family by Gini Koch

Alien in the Family
~Gini Koch

Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: DAW
Publish Date: April 5, 2011
ISBN-10: 0756406684
ISBN-13: 978-0756406684

From Goodreads:
Super-Being Exterminator Kitty Katt and the Alpha Centaurian she loves, Jeff Martini, should be finalizing their wedding plans. But that was before she discovers Jeff is in line to become Emperor back on his home world. Kitty knows she is everything a royal family wouldn't approve of, and is bracing herself for the worst. As it turns out, the royal family is just the beginning. Especially when extraterrestrial Amazonian terrorists are determined to start and end Kitty and Jeff's nuptial festivities with a bang.
Agent Kitty Katt and Alien Jeff Martini are supposed to be planning their wedding. Instead, they're being attacked by man-hating Amazons, Kitty's being tested to see if she's "suitable" to marry Jeff, and attacks by shapeshifter assassins are taking up all their time. Then, when Kitty and Jeff's families both "coincidentally" show up in Las Vegas at the same time they're there, Kitty knows something's up...

My thoughts: I'm holding Gini Koch responsible for my sleepless nights - I stayed up way too late turning pages and then dreamed about this book!!! All my favorite characters are back and she's introduced some new ones too. (The old Star Trek episode with the Tribbles is one of my favorites so of course I was all over the Poofs. I want one!!!)

As always, the action was fast-paced and exciting, but what I really like about Gini's books is the depth of her characters, and Alien in the Family I feel like we got our best look yet. We got to see a softer, less sure side of Kitty and a funnier side of Martini.

I love Kitty and Jeff - they are one of my favorite fictional couples, but Kitty and Reader are my favorite fictional "noncouple". They had me "awwww"-ing and holding my hand over my heart, especially during the hospital scene. Reader was fabulous throughout the book, I want a BFF like Reader! Is it horrible that I loved how cute Martini and Gower were when they were jealous of Kitty and Reader's relationship? (Too bad, I loved it!)

I have been a fan of Chuckie since book 1 when we hadn't even met him yet. I continue to be a Chuckie fan - he's obviously still in love with Kitty but is supportive of her decision to marry Jeff (while letting her know he's available if things should fall through, lol). I do wonder why the female AC's aren't all over Chuckie - he's brilliant!

One tiny niggle: I did have a bit of an issue with the football players; it seemed to me that things could have gone another way for Kitty, and I'm apparently not as forgiving as she is - in my mind there's never an excuse to treat a woman that way.

Ms. Koch packs fast-paced action, over-the-top fun, super-sexy romancing and a fabulous ending into another amazing installment of her Alien series; it's going to be a long wait until December for Alien Proliferation!!!

My Rating:

This book was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Review: The Return of Black Douglas by Elaine Coffman

The Return of Black Douglas
~Elaine Coffman

Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publish Date: April 1, 2011
ISBN-10: 9781402250743
ISBN-13: 978-1402250743
ASIN: 1402250746

From the author's website:
The beloved ghost of the Black Douglas is back and up to his usual mischief. . .

And this time he takes you back to the ancient Scottish ancestors of the Mackinnon’s, from Elaine’s award-winning Mackinnon Series.

Longing for a man like Mr. Darcy and haunted by the feeling she was born two hundred years too late, Isobella Douglas never dreamed she would get what she wished for-- until she was hurled back five centuries to the Isle of Mull in the year 1515. She arrived in the midst of a battle between the Mackinnon’s and Maclean’s, only to be abandoned there by the capricious ghost of Black Douglas. Left to the mercy of her fate, she prayed for a hero when she saw him, a man as fierce and wild as the barbarous place that surrounded her.

Alysandir Mackinnon was a man who lived by his wits and the edge of his sword. He was a man of strong desires and in his prime, but what he wanted now were the answers to a lot of questions: Why is she here? Who sent her? And what am I going to do with her? In spite of suspicion that she is an English spy, Isobella adapts readily to castle life, and being an archaeologist, is soon up to her elbows digging in broken crockery bits, ancient bones and priceless relics, in spite of being forbidden to do so. Alysandir finds it difficult to trust the headstrong woman, or believe her preposterous time-travel story and battles the desire and distrust he feels, for Alysandir has been betrayed before.

Life in Early Renaissance Scotland is fraught with danger, deceit, clan rivalry and constant threats from the English- hardly the place for the course of true love to run smoothly. It seems the hapless couple is forever trapped in a series of unfortunate circumstances, and a happy ending never seems so far away. But, never underestimate the power of a man’s love, a woman’s understanding or the tenacity of a beloved Scottish ghost.
Twin sisters Isobella and Elisabeth Douglas are visiting Scotland after Isobella's broken engagement. The trip was supposed to be her honeymoon. She's sad about it and is complaining that there are no men like Mr. Darcy. The ghost of Black Douglas, a long-distant relative, hears her and decides to interfere, transporting Isobella (an archaeologist) and Elisabeth (a doctor) back to 16th century Scotland. Elisabeth is taken by the Maclean Clan, while Isobella is rescued by Alysandir Mackinnon.

While waiting for Alistair to rescue her sister, she gets to know him better. She also meets his family, and takes an unexpected family member under her wing. Throughout it all, there's a ghost playing matchmaker between a headstrong 20th century archaeologist and a stubborn 16th century Clan Chief.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed the story and wanted to give it a 4, but for me it did drag a bit in the middle. It was exciting at first - 20th century women suddenly transported back in time - and one gets stolen!!! But then, from the moment he rescued her (around ARC page 75) until they finally gave in to each other (ARC page 245), I kept waiting for something to happen - that's a lot of pages to wait (granted, it is a 415 page ARC); it seemed like they weren't doing anything to rescue Isabolla's sister, and Isabella didn't seem too concerned about it, which I found strange.

Once things got going though, I loved it! You could tell they cared for each other but each had reasons not to open up and show how they really felt. Between Alysandir's inability to trust, or rather, to allow himself to trust Isobella, and her inability to give herself fully to him, the poor Ghost of Black Douglas had his hands full! When Isobella finally got frustrated and went to see her sister, I was thrilled; I liked her sister and was interested in what was going on over at the Maclean castle. Isobella's "adopting" of young Bradan was sweet - I was honestly a bit surprised at Alysandir's treatment of the child and was happy to see how things worked out.

I'm not usually a fan of ghosts in stories, but I liked the ghost of Black Douglas - he was a big plot point but didn't have a big part, if that makes any sense.

I really enjoyed the story and have already ordered the first book in the series, The Bride of Black Douglas. I am hoping Elisabeth's story is next...

My Rating:

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review: The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis

The Sweetest Thing
~Jill Shalvis

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: March 29, 2011

ISBN-10: 0446571628
ISBN-13: 978-0446571623
ASIN: B00495ZE4O

From Goodreads:
Two Men Are One Too Many . . .

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

But a certain tanned, green-eyed sailor has his own ideas, such as keeping Tara hot, bothered . . . and in his bed. And when her ex wants Tara back, three is a crowd she can't control-especially when her deepest secret reappears out of the blue. Now Tara must confront her past and discover what she really wants. If she's lucky, she might just find that everything her heart desires is right here in Lucky Harbor.
The Sweetest Thing is the 2nd book in Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor series but can be read as a stand-alone. I read the first book in the series, Simply Irresistible (my review here), and while I liked the hero/heroine, I didn't really warm up to to the secondary characters so I wasn't sure how I was going to like this book. I love it when I'm surprised; The Sweetest Thing was fabulous - I tore through it in a day!

Tara Daniels is one of three sisters getting ready to open a Bed & Breakfast in Lucky Harbor, Washington. Although each sister grew up with a different father, they inherited the house together from their mother. Tara is the serious sister, prim, anal retentive organized, and likes to cook. She's got a secret in her past, her sisters know she had a baby when she was still a teenager and that she gave the baby up for adoption, but they didn't know her then and don't know who the father was.

Ford Walker is the past Tara wants to forget. She spent one summer with Ford in Lucky Harbor as a teen, and when she left, pregnant, she never looked back. Ford let her go and channeled his energy into becoming a world-class sailor. He's back in Lucky Harbor, taking it easy, working in his bar and on his boats... and pursuing Tara.

Tara isn't going to give in, no matter how sexy Ford is. It doesn't matter that he makes her girly bits tingle and she can't stop thinking about him...she's not going to get her heart broken again. In a moment of weakness she gives in, and it's incredible - and then her ex-husband the race car driver shows up, wanting to woo her back!

There's another unexpected summer resident who knocks Tara and Ford for a loop; she knocks their teenage handyman for a loop too *winks* I didn't think I'd like this part of the story but I was won over.

My thoughts: What a fabulous read! As soon as I finished the last page of the book I wanted to open it up and start reading all over again. I needed oven mitts to read The Sweetest Thing; the heat between Tara and Ford rolled off the pages!!! I like that we didn't have to wait until the end of the book for the sexy stuff...These two were smoldering, the sexual tension was so well written I felt like I was holding my breath through most of the book. It's a good thing I read most of it at home as I'm pretty sure I was drooling over Ford through most of it ;)

It was also pretty damn funny - the old biddies conspiring to get Tara and Ford together via Twitter and Facebook by posting all the drama in Tara's love life was hysterical. There was also Ford's drunk dial, the fight between Ford and Logan in the apple tree, the jokes about race car driving not being a real sport...I could go on and on about all the things I loved about this book; this one's going on my keeper shelf.

Ms. Shalvis also worked my curiosity about the third sister, Chloe, and the Sheriff, Sawyer - I absolutely cannot wait for their book; Sawyer is pulling at my heart strings already!

My Rating:

This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 4, 2011

March was in like a lion, out like a lamb... and a giveaway :)

Hmmm...where to begin? March started out a little hectic but leveled out by the end...

Let's start with the books I read in March:
1. Holiday Bound - Beth Kerry (4 stars)
2. Stormchild (Pacific Passion #1) - Vivian Arend (3 1/2 stars, review to come)
3. Seduced by Destiny - Elizabeth Hoyt (4 stars)
4. My One and Only - Kristan Higgins (4 1/2 stars)
5. Bite Club - Rachel Caine (4 stars)
6. Mistress by Mistake - Maggie Robinson (3 1/2 stars)
7. How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf - Molly Harper (5 stars)
8. Safeword: Rainbow - Candace Blevins (3 stars)
9. River Marked - Patricia Briggs (4 stars)
10. Welcome to Last Chance - Hope Ramsay (3 stars)
11. Staying at Daisy's - Jill Mansell (4 stars)
12. Rock Hard - Olivia Cunning (3 1/2 stars)
13. Murder Takes the Cake - Gayle Trent (2 stars)
14. A Lot Like Love - Julie James (4 1/2 stars)
15. Bookends - Jane Green (3 stars)
16. The Return of Black Douglas - Elaine Coffman (3 1/2 stars, review to come)
17. Any Man of Mine - Rachel Gibson (review to come)
18. Re-read: Bitten by Kelly Armstrong

So, yeah, pretty good reading month!!!

But wait...there's more:

Patricia Briggs and Kim Harrison were in Houston on March 5 signing their latest releases. Since my brother and his wife/my bff live in Houston, I decided a road trip was in order. We had a great time and there was a good Q&A session (my notes here).

Then, it was back home just in time for Mardi Gras (March 8), where the city shuts down and throws a big party. I gotta be honest with you, by the time Mardi Gras day gets here, I'm pretty burned out on parades, so I usually skip the big day and stay home :) What does this have to do with books, you ask? Not a damn thing. But...I put together a little box of Mardi Gras goodness to give away:

This is the good stuff, not the lame beads everyone leaves on the ground - there's plush, doubloons, blinky beads, glass beads, silly bands, and more. So, if you're interested in this little box of fun - leave a comment telling me you'd like a little Mardi Gras in your life. (I'm really sorry, but this one's gonna have to be US only - beads and such are too heavy to ship internationally.) Contest ends Sunday April 10.

That was my March, how was yours?