ARC Review: Winters Heat

Winter’s Heat (Titan #1)

Author: Cristin Harber
Publisher: Mill Creek Press
Date of Publication: October 1, 2013
Description:

Winters HeatAfter putting her life on the line to protect classified intelligence, military psychologist Mia Kensington is on a cross-country road trip from hell with an intrusive save-the-day hero. Uninterested in his white knight act, she’d rather take her chances without the ruggedly handsome, cold-blooded operative who boasts an alpha complex and too many guns.

Colby Winters, an elite member of The Titan Group, has a single objective on his black ops mission: recover a document important to national security. It was supposed to be an easy in-and-out operation. But now, by any means necessary becomes a survival mantra when he faces off with a stunning woman he can’t leave behind.

When Titan’s safe houses are compromised, Colby stashes Mia at his home, exposing his secret—he’s the adoptive father of an orphaned baby girl. Too soon, danger arrives and Mia lands in the hands of a sadistic cartel king with a taste for torture. As hours bleed into fear-drenched days, Colby races across the globe and through a firestorm of bullets to save the woman he can’t live without.

My Thoughts:

I read this book after I read Garrison’s Creed (and yes, I’m still pouting because the third book isn’t up on NetGalley, but ::sigh:: I may go buy it anyway), but I didn’t feel like I lost anything by reading the books out of order.

Colby is oh-so-awesome in his intense sniper ways. But what made me truly love him was how much he loved his adopted daughter. The little girl wasn’t in the book just for “oh, how sweet, he’s got a baby” kicks, but rather really helps highlight what sort of a good, loving man Colby is once you get past the protective military man.

Mia just was in the wrong place at the wrong time, providing therapy to the wrong man. But once she got over the shock, she was determined to do what was right and try to see that justice was done (once she stopped thinking her patient was paranoid and delusional – this was before the story started). Even after she was initially kidnapped, she stayed strong and determined to stay the path. I really can respect a woman like that. No, she wasn’t a warrior woman, just a strong one with strong morals.

These two sizzled together even though they tried to fight the attraction (not very hard – there was no real reason they couldn’t be together, other than a little bit of emotional … okay, a lot of emotional scarring in Mia’s past). They found their way past everything, even when Colby was an idiot and tried to throw it all away just “to protect her”. ::lots of eye rolling here:: But, hey, that’s a typical alpha male for you, protective even if it mean’s being a dimwit. I loved him for it, even as I wanted to slap him upside the head and call him names (as multiple members of the Titan Group do, along with Mia).

Great book, and can’t wait to read the third one about the leader of Titan, Jared. Thanks Ms. Harber and Mill Creek!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: A Lady’s Secret Weapon

A Lady’s Secret Weapon

Tracey Devlyn
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date of Publication: October 1, 2013
Description:

SecretSydney Hunt and her extensive system of spies have worked hard to improve the lives of London’s less fortunate. Hearing of strange occurrences at a nearby orphanage, Sydney is forced to join ranks with a notorious rake known for charming his way into the beds of wives and mistresses across Europe. Ethan deBeau, Lord Danforth, is headed to London to locate a missing child, and soon he and Sydney are entrenched in London’s dark underworld. She harbors more secrets than the Foreign Office and he’ll uncover each one, kiss by kiss.

My Thoughts:

Ahh, Casablanca, you and Entangled are quickly becoming my favorite publishers for romance. And you, of course, top the duo in historicals because of your awesome stable of authors! Tracey Devlyn is now included in that number for me.

I loved the push and pull of all the secrets that both Sydney and Ethan have. Both have deep and compelling reasons to do what they do, and they’re both totally driven to continue doing them even as they try to keep their alternate identity/task (spying) a secret.

I loved Sydney because she comes from such a working-class background and never shies away from that fact. She’s a bastard, but doesn’t exactly advertise it, though in the gossip-filled world of London, it’s not a secret either. She’s turned her humble beginnings and appreciation/respect for the servant class into a somewhat profitable business for herself. Her parents support her and she’s an independent woman. She has little need or want for a man, but then Ethan comes along and finally helps her purge the dark wound from her childhood (and that’s all I’m going to say about that, other than said dark wound needs to be strung up by his unmentionables, covered in honey, and then have a jar of fire ants dropped on him).

Ethan’s only desire has been to lead the spying agency, ever since his father passed and it was expected that he would one day step into his father’s shoes. He’s utterly devoted to the spying agency, and is devastated when he learns he’ll be passed over for the promotion. But while there’s a heavy level of resentment toward his friend, who got the promotion, he doesn’t let that get in the way of any of his missions, nor finding out who saved his life (a cloaked figure and a maid, both of whom turn out to be Sydney of course – this isn’t a spoiler, it’s clear in the prologue).

Their current missions overlap surrounding an orphanage and these two strong characters, while growing closer, don’t let their emotions distract them from the path of discovery. They learn to work together and save one another, both from the monsters involved in the orphanage debacle and their haunted pasts. I can’t say enough positives about this book.

This is totally a 5-star review from me and I can’t wait to read more by Tracey Devlyn. Thank you Sourcebooks for letting me read this!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tory’s Friday Ramblings (10/25/13)

Well, here we are, the last Friday of freakin’ October! Can you believe it? Jeesh, this year’s been crazy fast.

Random Stuff

I got this link to product reviews on Amazon for Haribo’s sugar-free gummy bears. Trust me when I say you want to read this somewhere where people aren’t going to look at you funny. I made the mistake of opening it while in line to get lunch and people looked at my like I was nuts (or asked what the heck I was reading) because I was giggling so much. Let’s leave it at some (a lot of) people had some very, erm, bad reactions to the gummy bears.

On Family

My goodness. The girls are little escape artists it seems and it almost led to a very bad end. Literally. It’s finally cooling down here in Florida and we were able to open up the house for the first time on Thursday. Hubby was at home, making dinner, with the girls playing when things suddenly got quiet. Too quiet. Anyone with toddlers knows silence is never a good thing. So he went to investigate. He goes into the Shrimp’s room and finds the screen pushed out of the window and no sign of the girls. He races outside, praying they haven’t wandered into the street where they could get hit. He finds Twin B chattering up a storm in the side of the yard. He bolts back to the backyard to find Twin A 10 feet out in the little pond back there. Apparently she’d fallen down the little incline and into the pond and decided to explore the pond. ::sigh:: She’s fine, thank God. But we no longer will open up windows (all the windows are at toddler level in our house for some reason) until they’re in bed.

In Conclusion

Sadly, the girls and boy are now up, so I have to run without writing more about life, so…sorry! Blasted twins get up too early every day.

Any of you have great/scary toddler stories to share?

ARC Review: Garrison’s Creed

Garrison’s Creed (A Titan Novel)

Author: Cristin Haber
Publisher: Mill Creek Press
Date of Publication: October 1, 2013
Description:

GarrisonA SPY RUNNING FOR HER LIFE
Nicola is an injured CIA agent on the run from a failed undercover operation. Her escape plan shatters when she slams into the man who buried her a decade ago. Cash Garrison. Her first and only love. Now, sexier than her best memory and cradling a sniper’s rifle, he has questions she can’t answer. Why was she alive? And armed?

AND THE MAN SHE COULD NEVER SEE AGAIN
Cash is an elite member of a black ops organization, The Titan Group. He thought Nicola died his senior year of college and swore off love to focus on a decade of military missions. But when she shows up behind enemy lines, bleeding out and wielding a weapon, his heart and mind are unsure how to proceed.

BATTLE BETRAYAL TO SAVE THEMSELVES

Titan and the CIA join forces to uncover a mole hidden in a network of international terrorists and homegrown mobsters, teaming Cash and Nicola again. They fight old wounds and re-ignite sparks while closing in on a double agent. When disaster strikes, Nicola’s hidden past makes her the hunted target and Cash’s best kill shot may not be enough to save them.

My Thoughts:

I loved this book. Once I started it (yesterday morning), I just couldn’t put it down. I promptly looked for, and found, the first book in the series on NetGalley and will be reading that/reviewing it in the very near future.

I loved the fact that Nicola was a bad-ass in her own right, not because she was some immortal critter, but simply circumstances called for the path she took. She took a horrible situation (going into Witness Protection because she was able to help bring down some mob people after she stumbled onto their money laundering scheme while handling some paperwork) and turned it into a good one (for her), entering the CIA after she came out of Witness Protection and going on to help bring down more bad guys. She didn’t have to, she could have just cowered away, but no, she didn’t let it.

Cash was devastated ten years ago when Nicola’s death was faked (he thought she was really dead, and so did her brother/family) so he’s quite stunned when their paths cross on his latest mission for Titan (very rich group who handles black ops that not even the CIA and other government agencies want on their books). She ends up needing his help to get away with a CIA operative turned double agent sets her up, and the pair quickly discover their passion hasn’t died.

I loved the secondary cast of characters in this book, though I immediately pegged who Jared would end up hooking up with (and thanks to the teaser for the third book in the series, I see I was right). I think those two will be ultra hot together. The rest of the Titan team was great, their senses of humor and their varied personalities all meshed really well without overwhelming either the romance plot or the work plot.

I adored the fact that there were numerous plot twists that I didn’t see coming. You know how often I comment about “Oh, I pegged X fact from the second it appeared”. There were at least three that I didn’t, and they were somewhat big ones.

I can’t wait to read more of these books and I will keep a close eye out for any other Cristin Harber books I can pick up.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Trancehack

Trancehack

Author: Sonya Clark
Publisher: Carina Press
Date of Publication: October 28, 2013
Description:

TrancehackIt’s 2065. Those born with magic abilities live in government-run zones, without rights or freedoms. Fear of magic created this segregated world and fear keeps it intact.

A high-profile murder brings Detective Nathan Perez to Magic Born Zone 13. He’s had little experience with the Magic Born and isn’t sure what to expect during his first encounter with a witch, but he never thought he’d be so drawn to her.

Trancehacker Calla Vesper uses magic to break into computers and aid the Magic Born underground. She has no interest in helping a cop, even if he is smoking-hot, but money’s tight and Nate offers a tidy amount for help navigating the Zone. Calla’s determined to keep it all business, but sparks start flying before the investigation even gets started.

When Calla’s trancehacking and Nathan’s investigation uncover a conspiracy, Calla becomes a target. Nate can protect her by keeping her role a secret—but then who will protect Nate?

My Thoughts:

I had so much fun reading this book, I really did. I liked the rather grim view of the future it gave. Yes, I know that seems weird, but sometimes you get tired of seeing either a utopia future (a la Star Trek in some ways) or a dystopia (a la Hunger Games). This was neither. There wasn’t a grand class of overlords and the vast majority are impoverished and living a sucky life. Yes, there was definitely an underclass of citizens, but it also wasn’t something that had enveloped the entire world. In fact, the classification/tracking/discrimination against magic-born seems to have been primarily something in the United States, who is now paying a rather high price (the UN’s been moved, there are trade restrictions, etc.).

The story itself was great. Calla’s tough, yet not over-the-top kick-butt tough. She’s had pretty miserable time of it, having been taken away from her parents at birth because she was tested and found to have magic in her DNA. Because of her gifts (she’s able to hack into the internet using magic, which is pretty danged awesome to my mind) if she can find an access point (which doesn’t really exist in the Magic Zones, aka FreakTown for Magic Zone 13), so she has to go off the grid), she’s been able to find out who her parents were and that they had another, this time non-magical, child and had essentially wiped any trace of her existence off the face of the earth (save for a secured file in a government computer system).

Nathan’s not had an absolutely perfect life either, but he’s had it better than Calla. He’s not magical and has had limited interaction with those who are because there were no Zones in the area he grew up in. When he went abroad in the military, the foreign countries he visited didn’t have nearly the regulations against the magical types.

They find themselves (Calla VERY reluctantly) thrown together when a strange murder happens on Nathan’s watch. THe first DNA test turned up an unregistered magic born (which isn’t supposed to be possible, given DNA testing at birth), but subsequent ones show up with different results. The story follows Nathan’s quest for the truth, even as it turns out some very powerful people do not want the truth getting out.

I guessed correctly on part of the solution to the mystery, but was pleasantly surprised by the rest of it. Obviously I can’t tell you which parts were which, but it’s a great ride. The hard look at the possibility of discrimination for non-racial reasons fascinated me to. I can all too easily imagine such a classification/discriminatory system being put in place. Heck, we have real examples of it (though South Africa was based on skin-color/race) and plenty of fictional examples (X-Men, anyone?).

All in all, I’m really happy I read this book. A 5-star rating from me. Thanks Carina Press and thanks Ms. Clark!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Never Let Go

Never Let Go

Author: Selena Fulton
Publisher: Wild Rose Press/American Rose
Date of Publication: June 20, 2012
Description:

NeverKendra Prescott, a high-powered Atlanta real estate broker, is sent to England to coax the owner to sell a beautiful cottage. Family portraits line the stairway, and Kendra finds one man, Benjamin Sheffield, fascinating. Too bad he lived almost two centuries ago.

In 1863, Benjamin Sheffield escaped England because of a trumped-up murder charge. He came to America to disappear in the vast Western frontier but was delayed by a little thing called the War Between The States. 

When Kendra trips on a rock and loses consciousness, she wakes in the middle of Civil War-torn Georgia. She doesn’t know what happened to the cottage, but when she sees Ben, she realizes he is the key, her only chance of returning to her own time. Trouble is, now that she’s met him, she isn’t sure she wants to.

My Thoughts:

The cover on this book is lovely. The eyes, both the big center ones and the woman’s, are incredible. But that’s not why you come (oh ye few yet hopefully faithful and someday growing #s). You come for the review, so I’ll jump into that. I just had to love a little on the cover.

This is the first book I’ve read from the Wild Rose Press, and from what I’ve been able to find, the only novella out by Ms. Fulton. Which is a pity, because I like her writing a lot. The story is short, but you don’t feel the lack. Kendra is a fully developed character, a woman who finds herself in the rather remarkable position of vaulting back in time to the Civil War after finding herself entranced by a portrait that’s hung in the cottage she’s been brought to England to try to get the owner to sell.

She of course gets to meet the man who sat for the portrait and falls pretty hard and fast for him (she was already halfway there having been so fascinated by his portrait before she goes back in time). He’s of course quite skeptical about her tale of coming from the future, though her being able to describe his cottage in England goes a long way toward convincing him.

They have a very short time together. Kendra learns the truth about why Ben came to the United States, and tries to convince him he should go back to England even as she wants to get closer to him. 

I have to say I like how Ms. Fulton handled the issue of the modern day and how and where she ultimately brought these two together. Of course I’m rather  fan of any author who chooses to end the book the way she does (which is all I can say because I won’t spoil the fun for anyone who wisely chooses to read this book). Kendra and Ben of course end up together and have their happily ever after, though there is a great deal of adjustment for the time traveler in the end. I mean, you jump a century and a half and there’s going to be some adjustment, right? 

So, let me sum up by saying you should read this book. It’s got romance, the hell of war, and strong characters who don’t let a little thing like a pesky century and a half from their true love stop them from having said true love. 4 stars all the way!

Book provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Once She Was Tempted

Once She Was Tempted

Author: Anne Barton
Publisher: Grand Central/Forever
Date of Publication: October 29, 2013
Description:

TemptedA PORTRAIT OF A LADY

. . . or is it? The risqué painting owned by Benjamin Elliot, the earl of Foxburn, features a stunning beauty with sapphire eyes, golden hair, and creamy skin. Ben recognizes this particular English rose the instant he meets her-though she’s wearing considerably more clothing. In person, the demure debutante is even more irresistible . . .

In desperate need of money for her sick mother, Daphne Honeycote had posed for two scandalous portraits. Now she must hide her secret to save the Honeycote family name. Ben’s possession of one painting makes him an insufferable thorn in her side-and yet he may be her best chance at finding the canvas’s companion. As she becomes drawn to the dark-tempered earl, can Daphne risk laying bare the secrets of her heart?

My Thoughts:

First – I’m totally digging the dress that’s on the cover. It’s gorgeous and perfectly suits the book since the entire thing is about a portrait and the cover bears some resemblance to the portrait (well, at least the colors) described in the book.

Apparently this is the second book in the series, since I’m guessing the first book tells the tale of Daphne’s sister meeting and falling for the duke. Daphne has had her circumstances vastly improved thanks to that marriage and is trying to be a model of propriety and everything a proper young miss should be. Unfortunately, due to desperation, she’d done something a proper young lady never should: posed for a couple of very (for the period) scandalous portraits for a friend of hers who’s just starting out in the world.

Ben has come into possession of one of the two portraits and because of it initially believes Daphne is a rather base woman who’s trying to ensnare a wealthy and titled husband. He’s looking out for his best friend’s younger brother (his best friend was killed during the war) who’s inherited the title, which has brought him out of his normal seclusion, which he’s imposed upon himself because of a rather nasty war-wound to his leg. He meets Daphne, recognizes her from the portrait and promptly tries to steer her away from his young protege.

Of course this suspicion of her gradually fades and he agrees to help her locate the second portrait in exchange for her avoiding his protege. This leads to a house party and the second portrait (which is owned by a recluse with a very nasty son). The two of course fall in love and I have to say the revelation of the portrait upon society was marvelously handled. I love Ben so much for what he did for Daphne.

Absolutely adored this book, and Ben is a large part of the reason for that adoration. He’s strong and given the ongoing fascination of society for “perfect” looks, it’s not surprising he’s secluded himself. He’s given up on getting any help, even rebuffing Daphne’s initial offer to help him maybe ease some of his agony. But he at one point doesn’t have a polite way of saying no, and kudos to Daphne for not letting him drive her away with his attitude about a non-physician solution/suggestion.

Daphne is a strong woman, as proved by the lengths she went to back when she was dirt poor and looking for a solution to help provide money (the artist split his commission with her in exchange for her posing) for her family. I though she was a bit wispy and fluff-brained at times, given how martyrish she was at a couple of points when it looked like the scandalous portrait might be revealed (hoping she might one day get to see her niece/nephew, removing entirely from town/her family so she doesn’t “taint” them, etc.). But that balanced out and she got a wonderful man in the end.

I’m glad to have gotten the opportunity to read this book and look forward to reading others by Ms. Barton.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Entangled Publishing Scandalous One-Day Sale!

Announcing the Scandalous One Day Sale!!

Scandal 1

 All of Entangle’s Scandalous books are on sale TODAY ONLY for just $0.99 each. That means you can grab all of these great stories for less than $23!!

To celebrate, our fabulous Scandalous Authors have put together a scavenger hunt with a Kindle Fire as the prize. Hop on over to the event page to join in the fun!!

 Scandalous historical doesn’t mean antiquated! Passion and romance are exciting in any era. And torrid love affairs are even more illicit when social mores forbid the entanglement. These stories are bold, sexy, and heartfelt, and can be funny, action-packed, mysterious, dramatic, but above all…scandalous.To find out more about our titles, chat with authors, participate in special events, and to find out what books you’ll be coveting next, visit the Entangled website, follow us on Twitter, like our Facebook page, and join our Book Club!!

 We also have a Facebook party going from 10-22 until 10-24.  We have a Scavenger Hunt going on.  You can win a Kindle Fire.  Link is:  https://www.facebook.com/events/372395869560896

Scandal2

ARC Review: Undying Embrace

Undying Embrace (A Novel of the Enclave)

Author: Jessica lee
Publisher: Entangled Publishing/Edge
Date of Publication: October 21, 2013
Description:

UndyingArran MacLain is a vampire on a suicide mission, driven to kill his former partner who betrayed him and the Enclave they served. But two things stand in his way: Gabrielle, the human female who holds his heart, and the past that won’t let him go. If only death was enough to cleanse his soul.

Gabrielle Steven’s sister is missing, and she won’t just sit around and wait for the authorities to find her. But her hunt for clues brings her face-to-face with the one vampire she can’t forget.

Now, their missions combine, and the two are thrust them into the heart of evil. And they’re about to find out if their passion is enough to overcome the pain from their shared past, or if their dark desires will destroy them both.

My Thoughts:

As usual, I didn’t know that this was part of a series (you’d think the “A novel of the enclave” on the cover would clue me in, but noooo…then again I read on my phone, so the print’s pretty tiny and easy to overlook). But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the book. It pretty much can stand alone, although there was a lot of hatred and anger aimed at one of the villains of the piece that I didn’t entirely understand, though the villain’s actions for this book certainly deserved anger.

Gabrielle (“Elle”) wants to find her sister who’s gone missing. She’s left her comfortable home with the Enclave to go searching for her. It also gives her some time away from Logan, the vampire who wants to mate with her, because she needs to think about whether or not she wants him like that. They’ve been working together for a long time now, and though she doesn’t want to admit it, she’s never gotten over Arran (they were in a hot and heavy relationship a couple years earlier that ended…not so good).

Arran is searching for a couple of pretty evil vampires and his investigation crosses paths with Elle’s at a nightclub frequented (owned) by vampires. The sparks fly pretty darned quickly and he tries to protect her even as he’s drawn once more to her. He’s never gotten over her.

There is a great deal of growth for Elle. She comes to terms with the fact that Arran is a vampire (she had pretty big fang-fear) and falls in love with him all over again. Arran reluctantly has to let Elle risk her own life to keep from smothering her. Of course that doesn’t exactly please him because well, he’s a typical protective male! And there’s a high cost that gets paid for her pursuit of her sister.

There’s plenty of blood, guts and action in this book. Lots of lovin’ once the two gets past their issues. I was drawn into the world-building Ms. Lee does. I liked her take on vampires, both the Enclave and the DEAD (Death Euphoria ADdicts) vampires. I’ll happily read more of her work when given the opportunity and hope to see more from her soon.

And of course, once again, it’s Entangled. They get the best books! I’m totally starting to recognize the cover art style when I see them on NetGalley, btw. I don’t even need to see the logo – I just recognize the style. YAY!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.