Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday Book Review: LEASHED by Zoe Dawson

Leashed, Going to the Dogs Book 1, by Zoe Dawson
Published 2012 (Book 7 in this series just released in December 2016)

About the Book:
Jack has some ‘splainin’ to do!

That's right! Callie Lassiter's normally well-behaved Great Dane Jack has run off and done the wild thing with the neighbor's dog. It must be puppy love! It's doubly embarrassing since she's a professional dog trainer. Of course, the neighbor would have to be hot, hot nightclub owner bad boy Owen McKay, just the kind of man Callie is determined to avoid.

Owen’s comfortable with his playboy status and the hype in the media. But the ground moves beneath his feet when he gets an eyeful of the girl next door. The Dog Whisperer never looked this good! How can he convince this wholesome honey that his player days are behind him? Maybe Jill, his Great Dane can help him with this dilemma now that she’s pregnant and Callie’s dog is to blame.

Is this bad boy a bad bet?

Beware of dogs, romance and deep belly laughs!

Going to the Dogs is a romp through the urban jungle of New York City to find true love, the perfect cocktail, and expensive heels. Dog is a man’s best friend, but sometimes a woman just needs a hot man in the city. This series will appeal to a mature crowd, especially fans of Sex in The City.
My Take:

If you like dogs and cute meets with a side of sizzle, this may be the perfect series for your summer vacation.

The first in a series that seems to have a good reader following, the he said/she said alternating POVs work well together. Well written and well pace, it's a good easy romance read. The only caveat being: must love dogs. Because there's a lot about dogs.

Luckily I love dogs. The heroine is a dog trainer, and two of her best friends (also single women) are a dog groomer and a vet, so you know right away there's lots of potential to keep this theme going. The hero of this story is the bad boy next door, a rich playboy nightclub owner who inherits a Great Dane from his great aunt. Her dog is Jack, his is Jill, and guess who runs off and gets pregnant? Even my young niece went "awww" at the sweet cute-meet setup. (No, I didn't let her read this book! I just gave her a verbal outline of the plot. I'm a good aunt! just not a great aunt - ha! humor!)

The comparison to Sex in the City is slightly exaggerated, at least for this first book. Situation-wise and humor-wise it fits, but don't expect Samantha getting it on in a sex swing or crazy monkey sex... our heroine Callie is pretty much a girl-next-door, despite her apparent history with bad boys that's alluded to but never explored.

A thoroughly enjoyable read, I'd give this a solid 4.5 out of 5 and recommend it for the beach bag!

LEASHED is free right now on Kindle, but I don't know for how long. Grab a copy today and see what you think of this sweet romance with a side of sizzle.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Writing Wednesday: Bringing Up "Issues"

As an author, I feel like I have an obligation to try to give my readers a well-written, entertaining and engaging story that helps them escape whatever their real-life problems might be.

That's my superpower. Writing.

And I know that's why I read. To escape. To be entertained.

What we write and how we write it also reflects who we authors are, and what we believe. I believe in Happily-Ever-Afters and soul mates and the fact that we always have a choice. Those tenets are reflected in my stories.

I also believe in climate change, and that we need to work to find solutions to mitigate the problems, that we need to support the scientists studying the problem. I live on an ecologically fragile spit of land sticking out into the ocean, so ocean issues are daily fodder for me. I know that not everyone is as educated about sea level rise or the dangers of ocean acidification, so I used my super-power to try to help educate.

I wrote an environmental scientist into the role of romance hero in CRAZY ABOUT YOU.

I'm saddened by the rise in drug use and drug overdose deaths around the U.S., and embarrassed as hell that the HBO documentary on heroine addiction was filmed and set on Cape Cod, as a microcosm for the country.Especially heartbreaking are the young people who feel they don't have better options, so what the hell.

My novella BREAKING THE RULES focuses on how the drug trade preys on the young, and the immigrant community.

I'm also appalled by the intolerance I see in the news, that rose to fever pitch on all sides during the 2016 election. Forget "politically correct" - how about being polite? How can you hate a whole class or race when you don't even know anyone from that group?

I pose that specific question in my Young Adult mermaid series, and while the issue lurks in the periphery for the first two books, the third one that I'm finishing up now (DECEPTION) slams it home.

I don't think it's just me.

If you read romance novels written prior to the AIDS crisis, I don't think the word condom appears in any of them. Ever. Today the lack of a condom is more noticeable than the grabbing of one from the bedside table. NOT using a condom is no longer acceptable unless a lengthy discussion between characters precedes it. And if you the writer forgets, I think your editor will probably bring it up.

We're authors, but we're also human. We live in this world and have the ability - and maybe even duty? - to comment on what's going on around us. Don't we?

What issues do you slip into your story lines?

Or do you? Am I totally off base with this line of thinking? 

Either way - have a great week and Happy Writing!

Monday, July 17, 2017


Again, Alabama (Alabama series book 1) by Susan Sands
Published by Tule Publishing in 2015

About the Book:
Cammie Laroux is back in Alabama—again.

Dragged back to her small town to help her mother recover from surgery while rescuing the family event planning business should be a cinch. Even for a disgraced television chef, right? Wrong.

Among the many secrets Cammie’s family’s been hiding is the fact that their historic home is falling down. Oh, and the man hired to restore the house, Grey Harrison, is the same high school and college love of her life who thrashed her heart and dreams ten years ago. Yeah, that guy.

Grey, a widower with a young daughter, has never stopped loving Cammie, and when they are face to face once again, the chemistry is off the charts. Cammie may be in full-blown denial, but letting go is no longer in Grey’s vocabulary, even when winning Cammie’s forgiveness and renovating their love may seem like an impossible build even for a master architect and carpenter.

As Cammie finds herself forgetting all the reasons she can’t trust Grey or love again, he finds himself remembering all the reasons he wants her to stay with him in Alabama… forever.

Over the weekend I read two books where the heroine is drawn back home and into the family business after "failure" in the big city. Coming home is one of those common themes, and interestingly enough these two books had another thing in common - the family business is an inn. In this first book, it's an historic house that caters to events, in the second it's a Bed and Breakfast.

Here's the thing. My parents owned an inn in Vermont. So while I think this first author has some peripheral knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes, the second seems to have merely watched Bob Newhart reruns to get the main gist.

In Again, Alabama, the failure is professional. Cammie works on a cooking and lifestyle show where the star's hair caught on fire and the star publicly blames Cammie. After signing non-disclosure agreements, her family calls her home to help (and heal) while her mother undergoes back surgery. Leaving her successful, sweet, and understanding fiance on the coast, she heads to Alabama to run the family inn while mom recovers. But no one told her her high school sweetheart and the boy who shattered her heart moved back to town and is renovating the inn. Will she give up her engagement to take another chance on the boy she still loves?

I wish the author had taken her time to write a longer book, or leave out some of this to give it more focus. There was so much going on and it was all good stuff, but she never delved into the details that make you invest your heart in the story. Lots of character, lots of disparate dramas going on all over the place. When she focused on a scene or an emotion it could be exquisite, but the story itself was so sweeping that it seems she felt the need to rush us through, giving us short snippets and interactions to show the time moving along without fleshing out those scenes.

On the other hand, I read all the way through, and enjoyed it as a light beach read. There may be too many characters and too many POVs and too many twists to the story, but it has a real-ness to it that made me keep turning pages. Even the heavy confrontations and big reveals didn't feel so heavy, delivered like a slice of good lemon meringue pie with a big ol' side of "bless her heart." I'd give this 3.5 - 4 stars, and recommend for a light read to throw in the beach bag as a just-in-case read. It's the first in a series and free on AMAZON right now.

Bed, Breakfast and Murder, by Patti Larsen
Published by Mayhem and Murder, Inc., January 2017
About the Book:
A cozy murder mystery series to die for! 
I tried not to look down the mouth of hell staring back at me from inside the glaringly pristine outer ceramic shell of the white throne, my throat catching, stomach doing half flips and a rather impressive rollover routine that would have gotten at least a 9.5 even from the Russian judges. Instead, I forced myself to smile and swallow and remind myself the elbow length yellow rubber gloves grasping the handle of the standard issue plunger were all that stood between me and Pooageddon.

Suck it up, Fee. Big girl panties and adulting and all that.

"At what point," I waved the dripping plunger, wincing as droplets of yuck flew, "did I think owning a bed and breakfast was going to be glamorous and romantic?"
Fiona Fleming hasn't lived in Reading, Vermont in over a decade, her escape from small town living leading her to New York City and a life of adventure. An adventure that has left her with no career, an ex who cheated on her and zero plans for the future. And then, in the shocker of a lifetime, Fee's grandmother wills her a bed and breakfast. Awesome! It's the fresh start she's been dying for. Or is it?

Petunia's might seem like a refuge from her cheating ex and so-called life in the big city, but being accused of murder within two weeks of arriving back in her hometown? That's anything but charming. Can she uncover the truth before the handsome new sheriff puts her behind bars instead of asking her to dinner?
 My Take:

As I mentioned in the previous review, my parents actually did own an inn in Vermont. It was 42 rooms, restaurant, bar, indoor and outdoor pools, and also catered to events like the first inn in the Alabama book. So, more than a B&B, less than a full-blown hotel, still a real-live inn.

For so many reasons, I'm guessing this author has never had the experience of actually living and/or working in an inn or B&B... and the inconsistencies and bad details bothered me a lot. If only because unlike the other author I reviewed this week, this author offers up lots of details and has an overly wordy, self-aware and sarcastic voice that would fit better if she knew what she was talking about. You can't give details if you don't know details.

Again, I read this all the way through. Again, it's the first in a series staring these characters in this small Vermont town. But no, I can't recommend and no, I won't be reading more.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday Feature: Excerpt from DECEPTION, Son of a Mermaid Book 3

Excerpt from DECEPTION, Son of a Mermaid Book 3, COMING SOON....
The thick walls felt oppressive, the water murky without the stir of even the slightest current. The building had no windows, no outlets except the entrance guarded by Erastus. Low moans of other prisoners came from the far shadows of the cells she passed, but she didn’t turn her head to look, not wanting to see any more suffering than necessary. A final turn down a long, darkened hallway before the single lamp at the end illuminated the iron bars of Zan’s cell door. His shadowed body slumped against the wall, arms suspended over his head, dangling limp and lifeless from iron chains. She wondered for the millionth time how he endured the heavy shackles. Her heart hurt to see him this way, but there was nothing she could do or say to make the guards unbind him. She’d tried. Many times.
“Zan,” she called softly. “Zan, wake up.”
He stirred but his eyes didn’t open. “Go away.”
“I told you not to come back here once the trial began,” he said, his voice barely audible. “Someone will use it against you in court.”
“We need to talk, Alexander.” Kae used his given name, trying to get a rise out of the merman. She succeeded.
Opening his eyes, he gave her a weary look. “We have nothing left to talk about.”
“We do.” She squirmed under his gaze, flicking her tailfins against the rocky floor. “You were right about Shea. He didn’t even try to deny it. His grandfather ordered him not to search for me, so he didn’t.”
The corner of Zan’s mouth pulled up in a half-smile. “Did you ask him about the bracelet?”
She glanced at the silver bangle on her wrist. “I didn’t have to. It was on Hailey’s wrist when I found her on the island. She told me he gave it to her for safekeeping, before they got on the plane. The one you crashed.”
Zan winced. “I guess I had a thing for tornadoes. But you can’t blame him about the bracelet. Royal blood means responsibility to clan before all others. You should understand that better than most, little mermaid, having lived your entire life inside the castle walls.”
“Shea is different,” she insisted, feeling the need to defend him even when he disappointed her.
“You just told me he isn’t.” Zan shook his head, letting his chin fall to his chest. “It doesn’t matter. I appreciate all the time you’ve spent here with me, keeping me company in this bleak place. But if this is all I have to look forward to, a life in chains and stolen moments with a mermaid whose heart belongs to another, then why should I bother?”
“You’re my friend. I care about what happens to you.”
“You shouldn’t.”
His terse words hit her like a punch in the belly, knocking the breath from her gills. She tried to remember why she’d come here in the first place, but all she could focus on was how hopeless he seemed. She wished there was something she could do to help, but the reality was she needed his help now. “Zan, the magick in me. It’s getting stronger, I can feel it.”
His eyes opened all the way. “I don’t sense it in you.”
“Because of the dampening spell on the dungeon.” One of the guards explained the precautions taken with the prisoners. He also let slip about the sedatives added to Zan’s food. They were taking no chances with the sorcerer. “When I get angry, I have trouble controlling my reactions. Like today in court, when I saw Prince Demyan.” She spat his name like a curse.
The chains rattled over Zan’s head, an anguished look on his face. “I’m not in a position to help you with anything more than advice. You know enough not to reveal yourself.”
She studied his face, wondering if he’d known this might happen. Day by day she felt her abilities growing stronger. “I’ve made a few friends from my history class who have magical abilities. Not like you, of course,” she added quickly when he jerked his head. “Small magick. Mermaid magick. They’ve been trying to show me how to control the magick inside me.”
“I warned you not to tell anyone.” His words were more of a growl.
“Don’t be angry. I’m dealing with this the best I can!”
Zan exhaled a long breath and hung his head. “I’m not angry. I worry about you. And there’s nothing I can do at the moment to help.” 
* ~ * ~ * 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Writing Wednesday: When Your Family Reads Your Books

I know I'm not the only one who relies on friends and family for support in my writing career. I'm not saying they're the only ones buying my books, but it always feels good to have family show up to support an event or a book release.

< ~~~ My sister-in-laws at a recent bookstore signing (and they smuggled in margaritas from the sidewalk cafe next door-yum!)

My kids, nieces and nephews at a book release event at a Chatham book store ~~~~~~~~~ >

But actually reading and reviewing my books?

Sometimes I'm not sure if they've read them... and sometimes maybe I'd rather not know. My mother-in-law recently *borrowed* a copy of my latest anthology release to read my story in the collection.
I'd ordered a paperback version for myself - it's seriously the size of an old-fashioned dictionary, not "light" beach reading, lol.

< ~~~~~~~~~~ "Your book is over there on the desk, underneath some things to hide that racy cover. The kids shouldn't see that."

"Did you read my story already?"

"Well, yes."

"What did you think?"

"It's very explicit, isn't it. Well written, and I liked learning about the inner workings of the restaurant business and the detective character. But the details were... well, too graphic. Too racy for me."

I don't usually have those problems with my YA books. (duh.) But I also haven't been successful getting my own children to actually read the finished versions, as they read so many drafts and beta-edits along the way. They feel like they *know* the story - why bother reading it now?

My youngest finally agreed (reluctantly) to read the books at work this summer, between boat trips. He just finished DESCENT yesterday, and grudgingly admitted to liking it. Enough so that he packed the second book in his bag when he didn't think there was enough of the first one left to make it through the day. It's cool to hear his take on the characters I've been living with for years like a second family. The ones he likes and doesn't like, what television characters they remind him of. The fact that I write teen dialogue like a grownup trying to write teen dialogue. ("Don't worry though, it's a common problem in fiction." Umm, thanks?)

What do other authors do? Do your kids and spouses and extended family beta read for you? Do they read the finished versions and tell you know what they think? Or do you write under a pen name and never let them see the finished product? How high is your anxiety level when you know a family member is reading something you wrote?

Happy Writing ~ and Reading!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Saturday Book Signing at Whydah Pirate Museum, West Yarmouth 10-12pm

I'll be visiting the Whydah Pirate Museum tomorrow, the home of the only authentic pirate ship ever recovered from the bottom of the ocean. It's a fascinating place for all ages, and right on Route 28 in West Yarmouth, on Cape Cod.

Barry Clifford has recovered so much pirate treasure, from the deck canons (that you can touch!) to real gold coins and jewelry! There's so much to read and learn about the life of pirates, as well as learning about treasure hunters themselves. In the "back room" you can see the recovery process each item goes through. Really cool stuff!

While Deception isn't available for purchase just yet, I may be reading from the manuscript, handing out postcards and answering questions about all things mermaid! If you're on Cape Cod for the weekend, add a trip to this museum to your to-do list.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Writing Wednesday: Pronouncing Those Words on the Page

I'm in the home stretch of writing the next book in my YA mermaid series, and it's been brought to my attention that readers are unclear how to properly pronounce some of the words and names in my book.

We've all been there. Especially in paranormal or science fiction, but even in contemporary fiction. Foreign looking names that are probably not pronounced the same way they're spelled.

I know with my own kids, there are plenty of words they read and understand, but when they go to use them out loud in a sentence, they mispronounce them for one reason or another. It's a word they've only read, not heard, so they don't know. And having taken years of high school Latin, they often mispronounce English words that don't follow "normal" rules of pronunciation.

With my own series, though, I've been stuck as to how to fix this. The very first time the two main characters meet on the beach, the girl tells Shea how to pronounce her name. I thought that would be sufficient for the readers. Apparently not.

Okay, back up a sec. The boy's name is "Shea" which another character compares to baseball's Shea Stadium, so I figure that's easy enough. The longer version of his name is Gaelic and spelled Sheachnadh, which even I'm a little unclear how to pronounce.

The girl's name is Kae. Looking at it, it's similar to Shea and maybe it makes sense to say "Kay"... but in the first book she explains.

When the girl said his name, it tingled in his ears like music touching him all the way to his toes. Goosebumps prickled up his arms.
He cleared his throat. “So what’s your name?”
“My name’s Kae.” She smiled, her lips parting to show perfect pearly white teeth. “Kaa – ee,” she enunciated again. She stood and stretched her arms toward the sky. She was easily the same height as he was. “You must pronounce all the sounds.”
“Kaa – ee,” he repeated in the same exaggerated fashion and shook his head. “I haven’t seen you on the beach before.” 
“You’re the new one.” Kae tucked her wet hair behind her ears. “My family is here every summer.”
 See? I thought that made sense. But my kids tell me no. So I came up with an idea - adding an umlat to the "e" to make sure it gets pronounced as a separate vowel.

But how to do that on the computer?

Turns out it's not that hard in Word. Type Control Shift Colon, release and then type the letter you want the umlat over. Except of course it doesn't seem to want to work for me in Blogger, there must be a different key combo in this program.

Now I need to decide if I want to go in and fix the first two books to reflect the revised spelling. Or if that will still be just as confusing. People seem to be able to pronounce Zoe and Chloe properly without the use of an umlat - I didn't realize my mermaid's name would be so difficult.

Have you come across this in your own writing? Where a word is perfectly easy to say in your own head but then you find other's having difficulty? What have you done to fix the problem?

Happy Writing - and Reading - to you all!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy Fourth of July!

Hope your weekend is filled with friends, family, fun...
and cake!

Happy Independence Day, America!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Saturday Book Signing 4-6 at Booksmith, Orleans #CapeCod

Saturday July 1st
4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Booksmith/Musicsmith, an independent bookstore
136 Route 6A, Orleans MA

Fourth of July celebrations are already in full swing on Cape Cod! I'll be in Orleans for "Happy Hour" on Saturday, at Booksmith, the largest independently owned and operated bookstore on Cape Cod, on Route 6A in the Staples shopping plaza.

Stop by and say hi, talk to me about beach reads and summer plans, and stay for margaritas at Guapo's Happy Hour right next store. I'll have paperback copies of all my books, perfect for hitting the beach this holiday week!

See you there!


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Writing Wednesday: Why Didn't I Like This Book?

I'm not sure who may have noticed, but I skipped out on posting here last week, except for my previously scheduled book review. My son was home from college, my high school student finished up exams and started the summer job, and I was crazy busy slammed at my day job with projects - 4 of them have a due date of this coming Friday, so I'm still busy.

But I missed ranting with you all, so here I am.

This week I read and reviewed a (young) new adult book that the first of a 5-book series (so far.) This author's last series played out to 10 books, so maybe there are more coming. But I won't be reading them.

Why not?

I read a few books by this author a while ago and when I saw her name pop up in my feed, I remembered it fondly. But having read this first book of the series, I have no intention of reading more. Don't get me wrong, the writing, the grammar, the editing... Those things were fine.

I don't often post reviews of books I don't enjoy, but I did on Monday. As I was writing the review it started getting rant-y, and I wondered why I was so annoyed. I decided it might be interesting to examine why I didn't like it, and why I agree with several of the thoughtfully laid out negative reviews of this book.

Oddly enough, there are over 300 reviews of this book on Amazon, and a pretty good all-around rating. And the author is a USA Today best selling author, a moniker I recently tried to achieve but ultimately fell short. (Next time, people, next time.) But the negative reviews of her book were the most thought provoking of them all. I read a bunch of the reviews, to see what other readers thought and felt, but the thoughts expressed here are my own.

The book is told exclusively from the point of view of the main girl, who despite being a smart sounding narrator, makes bad choices. Terrible, selfish, impulsive choices. Unlikeable choices. She keeps doing incredibly stupid things, and putting everyone in danger for no good reason. And then its not just one of the boys on her new team she flirts with and secretly kisses... It's each of them. But none of them know about the others. Each boy ends up under the impression that she wants him. Even the supposed bad guy, whom she actually seems the hottest for out of all of them.

How could this book be better? Lots of ways.

First and foremost, I have no problem with multiple boys vying for her attention. Some readers hate love triangles, let alone quadrangles or whatever mess this one is, but that's not my issue. I also have no problem where the heroine dates more than one guy... But being with a group of close knit friends and not telling any of them what's going on just seems underhanded and somehow dirty. And she knows its wrong but keeps doing it.

Romance -even new adult romantic suspense- should have better defined parameters to the relationships. There are rules. I know there are lots of popular love triangles and ménage stories... But these poor guys don't even get the chance to be jealous or lay down ultimatums, because no one knows what's going on. Definitely UN-satisfying.

Second, the heroine doesn't learn anything as the book progresses. In fact, she seems stronger and braver in the first chapter than she does in the last half of the book. Character arc is important not just as an abstract theory, but as a reason for readers to stick with your story. I kept waiting for her "a-ha" moment... except it never happened.

Third, if your main character is going to be weak, at least give me a kickass plot that holds up under scrutiny. A bad guy worthy of the title. There again, I kept waiting for the plot to resolve and explain itself, And I realize this is the start of a series but I need a standalone story arc to follow, for Pete's sake. There can be unresolved threads to make the reader want more, but a book needs it's own story.

I know I've ranted many a time about books in a series that just don't stand up or satisfy on their own. Even with the character issues, this could have been an okay read if there was a solid plot to cling to like a life preserver.

 No such luck.

So, bad romance etiquette, lack of character arc, lack of clear storyline... Three big writing no nos make this a "no," as in no recommendation. And like I said, I hate to be negative. Really. We've all been there and suffered from reviewers who didn't understand or appreciate our writing.


As I was saying to another author friend at an event earlier this month, sometimes its good to read a book you DON'T like all the way through, and think about WHY you didn't like it. WHAT mistakes were made that rubbed you wrong? HOW can you avoid them in your own writing?

Reading books from authors we love and want to emulate is a great learning tool. On the flip side of the reading coin, you can learn just as much - maybe even more - by reading a book you don't necessarily like. Because you're learning how to focus your own writing to avoid those mistakes.

Time to share... What books have you read recently that were GOOD examples of romance? What books have you read that you didn't like, and why? You don't need to out anyone if you're uncomfortable, but what makes you want to either throw the book across the room, or recommend it?

Okay, enough rant for now. Until next time, Happy Reading - and Happy Writing!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Monday Book Review: The Academy - Thief, by C.L.Stone

The Academy: Thief, by C.L. Stone
first Published by Arcato Publishing in 2014
(part of a 5-book series, that follows her first Academy 10 book series)

About the Book:

From USA TODAY Bestselling Author, C. L. Stone, read Thief, the first book in The Academy Scarab Beetle Series.
Kayli Winchester is a dirt-poor girl living out of a hotel, forced to be the parent for a drunken father and teenage brother who she's desperate to keep in school. The only way she scrapes by is to utilize her one skill: pickpocketing. But even though she's a thief she has a moral code: no kids or old ladies, only targets who can defend themselves. Not that they see her coming...

Thinking she's been working under the radar, Kayli has no idea The Academy has been watching and taking notice. Now a team that needs her skill has offered her a way out of her predicament and it's her last chance: work with them, or face jail time. Kayli resists at first, but slowly the boys reveal they can be trusted. With Marc, the straight man, Raven, the bad-boy Russian, Corey and Brandon the twins as different as night and day, and Axel their stoic leader, there's a lot Kayli can learn from these Academy guys about living on the edge of the law. If only she can stay on the good side instead of the bad.

Especially when the job they offer her is more than any of them bargained for. After it's done, the hunters have become the hunted and their target is now after Kayli. The Academy boys do their best to keep her hidden, but a thief like Kayli will never sit still for long.

Meet an all-new Academy team in Thief, the beginning of the Scarab Beetle series.

Warning: This is a new adult series. Readers of the other Academy series may need some caution as this series will contain mature sexual and violent situations and themes.

My Take:

While I applaud Ms. Stone for giving us a strong female lead, this heroine is not a smart person nor a good role model. She makes bad choices and others pay for her impulsive, irrational actions.

Wow, that sounds like I'm an old fart, doesn't it?

let me try again...

I didn't like this book. I read the whole thing, and the writing itself is fine. Grammatically correct, properly punctuated, good sentence structure, fast-paced dialogue and plot line. It's just....

I didn't like this book. She's a USA Today best selling author with her previous (and related) series. So how did she get it so wrong? How did her heroine end up such an unsympathetic, unlikeable character? It's not just the bad choices the heroine makes either - Ms. Stone makes enough bad choices that the book is ultimately unsatisfying. And almost makes me want to read the next one to see if anyone redeems themselves or some of the (too many) romantic plot threads untangle themselves.

But I'm not going to.

This is actually the second review I've sat down to write about this book. The first devolved into a teaching rant about romance structure so I'm going to post that for my Writing Wednesday rant instead. For now, I think this is all I'm gonna say. If I had to give this a star rating, I might say 2 - one as an acknowledgment that the author sat down and wrote an entire book. The second for, as I mentioned, being well versed in the craft of writing and getting all the details of the art form correct, at least enough so that I could finish reading the entire book without hurting my eyes or my brain.

But a third star would indicate I liked it. I didn't. A fourth star would indicate that I thought other people might like it too. Which I don't, even though there are plenty of 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon. A fifth star would tell you that I Loved this book, yes, the Big L, and that I was talking about it outside of reviews, recommending it to anyone who listens to me, you know, my neighbors, the people at the grocery store, friends at cocktail parties, the guy on the midnight shift at 7-11...

That's how my stars work. I should probably put that somewhere official, but I just wrote it out for the first time myself. Huh. Well, I'll get to that. For now, yeah, 2 stars. Not recommended. Tune in Wednesday for a more complete rant.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday Book Review: A Warlock's Secrets, by Tena Stetler

A Warlock's Secrets (Demon's Witch Series), by Tena Stetler
Published June 2017 by The Wild Rose Press

About the Book:
Years ago, a sacred ceremony at the Dragon’s Moon Coven turned deadly. Son of the high priestess, Tristian Shandie’s life changed forever. With a price on his head and revenge in his heart, he has no choice but to follow in his father’s footsteps to a profession shrouded in secrets. Now his skills as an enforcer for the Demon Overlord are second to none. But dangerous secrets he harbors are a liability he can no longer afford.

A chance meeting with a woman he finds irresistible flips Tristian’s world upside down. Hannah is a cyber security specialist with secrets of her own. Bad boys never appealed to her until Tristian, who changes everything. In his darkest hours, she is dragged into his magical world.

If they survive, is she strong enough to heal his heart and tame the warlock? Or will their secrets destroy them?
My Take:

A Warlock's Secrets not only takes us back into the world and characters Tena Stetler created in A Demon's Witch, but also overlaps with that first story from a different perspective. This second book of the series can stand alone, but if you want the full picture, I'd recommend reading the first book as well.

The warlock from the title is Tristian Shandie,  the dangerous and mysterious older brother of Angie, the witch from Ms. Stetler's first title. Their parents were murdered when they were young, and he's been overprotective of Angie ever since. Between caring for his sister and his stressful job as a magical assassin, he's never had time for a real relationship, nor has he had any inclination.

Tristian is furious when he discovers that his sister is marrying a demon. Not just any demon, mind you, but the Demon Overlord, who also happens to be Tristian's boss. If you read the first book, you know just how angry he is, but you don't know why.

With this story, we find out.

Enter Hannah, who has her own magical secrets. When the two meet by chance the sparks between them fly. Could she be the woman to finally heal the warlock's heart? Will she be able to live with the secrets he's been keeping for so long? When is she ever going to share all of her many secrets with the warlock?

This is the fourth book by Ms. Stetler that I've read, and still find it interesting how normal and everyday she makes the magical world seem. Generally, paranormal stories are more fast-paced and action-packed, eager to make sure you know how out of the ordinary everything is. Which is why some readers don't go for paranormal romance. They want something more relate-able, I guess.

Stetler's witches, demons, fairies and warlocks eat, sleep, laugh and worry just like the rest of us. She weaves the magick in with the mundane as if these magical beings really could be hiding in plain sight among us. The pacing is slow and steady as we follow Tristian's journey of healing his family.

If you're looking for adrenaline-packed fast-paced paranormal, this isn't the book for you. However, if enjoy paranormal romance that gently mixes the magical and the mundane, give this author a try.

Find this book as well as her others on Amazon.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

RELEASE DAY for #HunkstotheRescue ! Grab a copy for #99cents!


If you haven't grabbed up a copy of this anthology yet - go get one today to help us celebrate!

99 cents buys you 18 heart pounding stories 
of both daring rescues and everyday heroes.


Buy Links (On sale 99 cents):
Hunks website and landing page:
Barnes & Noble:

Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday Feature: Chatting with C.B. Clark

Please welcome my guest today, C.B. Clark! 

Hi C.B.! Tell us a little about yourself, and what kind of books you like to read and write.
I’ve always loved reading, especially romances, but it wasn’t until I lost my voice for a year that I considered writing my own romantic suspense stories. I grew up in Canada’s Northwest Territories and Yukon. Graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Archaeology, I’ve worked as an archaeologist and an educator. I enjoy hiking, canoeing, and snowshoeing with my husband and dog near my home in central British Columbia.
What’s your favorite part of being an author?

I love creating new worlds and peopling them with interesting characters, and then upping the stakes and watching them scramble to reach their goals. There’s a letdown once a book is finished, and a sense of loss as you say goodbye to the characters who have become friends.
3.     What’s your approach to writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

I’m definitely a pantster. That’s part of the fun. I start with the germ of an idea and a first sentence and go from there. Some days writing is a wild rollercoaster ride with ideas coming hot and heavy; other days, it’s like wading in mud. I love not knowing what’s going to happen next and letting my characters write their own stories. Of course, that means there’s lots of revising when I’m finished.

4.     If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? 

I’d definitely want to fly. How cool would that be? I’d soar on the wind currents just like the birds. The freedom of not being stuck to the ground and viewing the world from high above would be wonderful.

5.      Tell us about your new release.

Here’s the blurb for Bitter Legacy:
She only had ever wished for two things—a red dress and her father’s death. Now, her wishes have been granted, and after a seventeen-year absence, Sharla-Jean’s returning to her hometown with vengeance in her heart. From the very beginning, her plans go awry when she meets devastatingly handsome Josh Morgan, the man to whom her father left half of his multi-million dollar lumber mill.
Josh, suspicious of Sharla-Jean’s reasons for returning to town after such a long absence, vows to keep control of the company he feels is rightfully his. She is equally determined to prove she can run her father’s mill, even though it means working side-by-side with Josh, a man whose very presence evokes an attraction that is increasingly difficult for her to ignore. In the process, they must overcome a villain who’s determined to destroy both the lumber mill and their lives.
Will Sharla-Jean succeed and heal the anguish that has long filled her soul? Will she and Josh find the passion of a lifetime? 

6.     Okay, you’re casting the movie version of your novel—who would you choose for the main characters?
Sharla-Jean Bromley: Amy Adams (‘Junebug’) She often plays characters with a strong will.
Josh Morgan: Scott Foley (‘Scandal’) Tall, dark and handsome with piercing green eyes. What’s not to like?
7.     My book can be found:
The Wild Rose Press:

Find C.B. online in all the usual places:

Thanks for being my guest today,  C.B., and best of luck with your latest release!