Thursday, September 30, 2010

Blog Tour & Contest: Venom

Elemental Assassin #3
Author: Jennifer Estep
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Pocket
Released: 9/28/2010
Available for Kindle & Paperback

Summary: It’s hard to be a badass assassin when a giant is beating the crap out of you. Luckily, I never let pride get in the way of my work. My current mission is personal: annihilate Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who murdered my family. Which means protecting my identity, even if I have to conceal my powerful Stone and Ice magic when I need it most. To the public, I’m Gin Blanco, owner of Ashland’s best barbecue joint. To my friends, I’m the Spider, retired assassin.

I reviewed the first book in the Elemental Assassin series back in February (read review), then I bought the second book, Web of Lies. I was especially pumped to be part of the blog tour for Venom, the third book in the series. Gin is one of my favorite urban fantasy heroines, though she would never think of herself that way. In the second book, Gin's life takes some twists and turns that had me feeling frustrated for her. (A sign of a talented writer when you think of their heroine as a real person.) In Venom, Gin may actually get hurt more than in the other books combined, but she also has a solid support group behind her now, and continues to learn about who she is and what she can do magically. This is my favorite book in the series, but it may be because of "sharing" Gin's struggles in the first two books, it made the events in Venom even more pivotal and intense.

Venom is a fast paced, gritty urban fantasy that has kick ass action scenes to keep the reader on the edge of their seats. More than that though, Gin learns to open up, to trust in those who love her, and she comes to some conclusions about herself. As I mentioned in my first review of the author's series, I love that Gin, the former hardass assassin is a gourmet cook. The more stressed she is, the more she bakes. I asked Jennifer if I could share the recipe for Chocolate Chip Pound Cake. Her mother gave her the recipe and had been making it for years, not sure where it originated, which is often the case with well loved recipes. Gin loves to serve the pound cake with a nice cold glass of milk:)

Choco­late Chip Pound Cake

1 (18.25 ounce) pack­age choco­late cake mix
1 small pack­age instant choco­late pud­ding mix
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup veg­etable oil
3 large eggs
1 (8 ounce) con­tainer sour cream
1 (12 ounce) pack­age mini choco­late morsels

Pre­heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 10-cup Bundt pan. In a large bowl, com­bine cake mix, pud­ding, and sugar. Add water, oil, and eggs. Beat with an elec­tric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Stir in sour cream and mini choco­late morsels. Pour bat­ter into pre­pared pan, and bake for 1 hour (check at 50 min­utes) or until a wooden tooth­pick inserted in cen­ter comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 min­utes. Remove from pan and let cool com­pletely on wire rack. Sprin­kle with pow­dered sugar, if desired.

There are more recipes in Gin's Recipe Box.

Jennifer Estep has given her readers some wonderful free short stories in addition to the three Elemental Assassin books. Below, I have them in order of their time frame with links to each. The titles in bold are the books available currently, the other two will be available in 2011.

These two take place when Gin was a teenager:
Web of Deceit Read here
Poison Read here

Spider's Bargain: Free here
Book one: Spider’s Bite
Web of Death: Free here
Book two: Web of Lies
Wasted: Free here
Book three: Venom
Book four: Tan­gled Threads (5/2011)
Book five: Unti­tled (10/2011)

The publisher has kindly allowed me to give away one copy of Venom to a visitor. Please leave a comment with the answer to this question:

What do YOU do when you are stressed out?

I will pick one person randomly on 10/15/2010. Please leave your answer and your email if it's not associated with a Google profile.

Happy Reading! ~Brenda

Blog Tour & Contest: Aching for Always

Aching for Always
Author: Gwyn Cready
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Pocket
Release Date: 9/28/2010
Available from Amazon

Summary: In Aching for Always, one map can forever changes the lives of two people--Hugh Hawksmoor, a handsome, determined sea captain who has traveled from the eighteenth century to avenge his brother's death, and Joss O'Mally, whose struggles to keep her mother's mapmaking company afloat ties her to her own past. When they meet, there are fireworks--literally, and Joss finds herself falling for Hugh's ample charms. But when he tricks her into returning to the past with him, each will face the hardest decision each has ever had to make.

I asked to participate in the blog tour for Aching for Always because I had enjoyed the author's last book, Flirting With Forever, and I wanted to check out what she had created for readers this time around. Aching for Always is part time travel adventure and part historical romance. It's an enchanting story revolving around the creation of maps and how a simple adjustment can change the course of history. It takes place in Pittsburgh, which I visited last summer, and loved for it's history and beauty. It's a historic and lovely setting for a romance.

Old fashioned maps have always intrigued me with their beauty and detail. I'd never taken the time to learn more about the making of maps and was taken in by this aspect of the book. The author mixed elements of mystery, adventure, romance and magic together to create a story that captures the reader's imagination and heart. Hugh, our hero, is a brooding naval captain set on revenge, which of course makes him sexy, especially as he alternates between charming Joss and wanting to ring her neck. Our heroine is often like a bouncing ball in the story, not knowing who to trust or give her heart to. Though their romance is very sexually charged and steamy, especially near the end of the book, I actually loved the romance between Joss's mother and Hugh's brother more in some ways. As I was reading, I found myself wishing the author would share more of their relationship. Joss's mother is a passionate mapmaker and Hugh's brother is the man who gives up everything to protect her. Every mention of Joss's mother is captivating and romantic.

The publisher has graciously allowed me to give away one copy of Aching for Always in paperback. I will randomly pick one winner from the comments on October 15, 2010. Please answer this question for me:

Have you read books with a time travel element? If so, is there one you'd recommend to me, and why? If you haven't read any books with time travel, is there a reason you haven't?

Leave your answers in the comments, and include your email if you don't have an email attached to your Google profile.

Aching for Always Launch Contest is going on now too. The prize is a GORGEOUS Kate Spade handbag with a leopard print that evokes the shoes on the cover of Aching for Always. It's easy to enter. Just click here. But hurry, this contest ends October 4, 2010.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Series Review: Otherkin by Eve Silver

Otherkin Series
Author: Eve Silver
Publisher:HQN Books
Books available at Amazon

Otherkin Books in Order:
Sin's Daughter (7/2010-prequel e-book)
Sins of the Heart (8/2010)
Sins of the Soul (9/2010)
Sins of the Flesh (10/1/2010)
Body of Sin (book 4) June 2011
Book 5 Fall 2011 -

I won the first book in the Otherkin series, and as soon as I finished it I asked for a review copy of the second and third book. This series is fast paced, steamy, passionate and fascinating. It's set in a world where the Egyptian gods each have their own domains in The Underworld, unable to physically manifest themselves in our world (Topside), so they use both minions and sometimes offspring to do their bidding.

Each book revolves around a soul reaper, sons of Sutekh. Each reaper has come from a different background before joining their father in the Underworld. Each has their own issues and scars from their past. They conquered their fear of Sutekh by learning to depend on each other. One has been murdered, but if they find him soon enough they believe they can bring him back to life. This becomes their number one priority.

The heroines in this series are tough, cynical and can take care of themselves which makes for some great banter, kick ass fight scenes and steamy romance. Though each book focuses on one brother, and one of the heroines, there is still interaction between all of them as the series continues. The heroines don't disappear into a mansion or compound, rarely heard from again. They are right there beside their mates, working with them and sometimes on their own. I loved all of them, but especially found Calliope fascinating with her dry humor and stoic mannerisms. Strong and tough personalities abound in the Otherkin series, as mysteries are investigated and traitors are found.

The series has many fascinating elements revolving around trust issues, loyalty and intrigue among the gods, as well as their servants and offspring. It's dark, gritty and at times quite graphic because of the nature of the gods. The soul reapers are the ultimate alpha males, but the heroines aren't damsels in distress by a long shot. Let's just say the sexual tension, and the sex, is intense and passionate, but not over the top. All three couples are unique in their relationships, and I loved the interaction between them.

The mystery of a soul reapers death continues through all three books as traitors are revealed, clues discovered and loyalties are questioned. The third book in the series wraps up some of the intrigue, but ends with a bang, leaving the reader satisfied to a certain extent but wanting more of the Krayl brothers and their mates, which we will get in June with the next release. I, for one, cannot wait.

metal hoops
tidy manners

Fans of Jessica Andersen, Larissa Ione and Devon Monk will enjoy the Otherkin series. Learn more about it at Eve Silver's website: .

Friday, October 1st is the release day for the third book in the series, Sins of the Flesh! Be sure to visit the author at her blog for contests and more fun:


Monday, September 27, 2010

Review & New Release: On the Edge

On the Edge
The Edge, Book 1
Author: Ilona Andrews
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Ace
Released: 9/29/09
Available in paperback & Kindle edition from Amazon.

Summary: The Broken is a place where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is nothing more than a fairy tale. The Weird is a realm where blueblood aristocrats rule and the strength of your magic can change your destiny.

Rose Drayton lives on the Edge, the place between both worlds. A perilous existence indeed, made even more so by a flood of magic-hungry creatures bent on absolute destruction.

I love Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels novels, and at first I thought it would be difficult to wrap my head around a completely different world that was unrelated to Kate and Curran. It only took me the first TWO pages to get rid of that worry. On the Edge starts out with an introduction to Rose, Georgie, Jack and Grandpa that blew away any thoughts I had of Kate's world. In some ways this series is lighter, perhaps less intense. It's a must read for any fans of Ilona Andrews.

Rose, the heroine, is a truly wonderful and complex character. I loved her strength, her wit, her intelligence and the way she protected her family above all else. Declan, our hero, is not a white knight riding in to save the day, though he may actually imagine himself that way. He's pushy, overprotective and at times, a snob. Together, he and Rose, figure out what needs to be done to save her family and friends. It's not easy, and lessons do not come easily for either of them, but it makes for one kick ass story that kept me reading until I had gotten to that last page. I also have to mention that Rose's brothers are funny, touching, and brave. You will fall in love with them, just like I did.

On the Edge is a fast paced paranormal romance, but it also has elements of fantasy that reminds me of Simon Green's Forest Kingdom series, Stan Nicholls' Quicksilver series and books by Tad Williams. I recommend it to fans of paranormal romance but also those who love fantasy.
chocolate bar

The second book in The Edge series is coming out this week on Tuesday, September 28th. It's going to be an awesome read as we learn more about this fascinating world. This is the blurb for Bayou Moon from the author's website:

Cerise Mar and her unruly clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands between the state of Louisiana and the Weird. When her parents vanish, her clan’s long-time rivals are suspect number one.

But all is not as it seems. Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge—and Cerise’s life . William, a changeling soldier who left behind the politics of the Weird, has been forced back into service to track down a rival nation’s spymaster.

When William’s and Cerise’s missions lead them to cross paths, sparks fly—but they’ll have to work together if they want to succeed…and survive.

Bayou Moon is available in paperback and for the Kindle from Amazon. You can also learn more about The Edge on the author's website:



Sunday, September 26, 2010

New Release & Review: Mind Games

Mind Games
The Disillusionists Trilogy #1
Author: Carolyn Crane
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Spectra
Released March 23, 2010
Available in print and digital on Amazon

SUMMARY: Justine Jones isn't your typical kick-ass type - she’s a hopeless hypochondriac whose life is run by fear. She's lured into a restaurant, Mongolian Delites, by tortured mastermind Sterling Packard, who promises he can teach her to channel her fears. In exchange, she must join his team of disillusionists - vigilantes hired by crime victims to zing their anxieties into criminals, resulting in collapse and transformation.

I have been wanting to read Mind Games since before it was actually released. I've been following the author on her blog and twitter, enjoying her wit and intelligence, but had to wait til this month to buy it. I knew it would be a story very different from anything I had read previously, and I was not disappointed. Mind Games is an urban fantasy unlike any I've ever read. In many ways, I can related to Justine, the heroine in the story. While I am not a hypochondriac, I have suffered from anxiety and mild panic attacks for most of my life. It wasn't until I was almost 40 that my family doctor suggested the idea of anxiety disorder to me. Once I left Denial Land, I knew he was right. Reading Mind Games was weird for me because I recognized so many emotional things in the story, nodding my head as I read along. Of course when the supernatural elements kicked in, I stopped identifying and started really getting into Justine's adventure.

Mind Games is fast paced, fascinating, witty, and completely amazing. The author has created a world that takes the idea of the power of the mind to a new level. She also challenges the reader to look beyond black and white to the grey area of good and evil. Is it really so cut and dried? Can someone have motives that are selfish, yet still serve a greater good? For me, there is also a theme of acceptance running through the story. Do we want a relationship where we have to pretend to be something we're not? These are just a few of the ideas running through Mind Games.

I don't want anyone to misunderstand and think that these thought provoking themes slow down the story for the reader. I couldn't put Mind Games down once I started it; staying up way too late reading once began. The characters are complex and quirky. In some ways, I was reminded of going to a large shopping mall and sitting on a bench for an entire afternoon to people watch. What if we could do that but see inside the minds of some of the people who walk by us? Instead of guessing what their story is, we'd get a glimpse into their mind. Reading Mind Games was much like that to me, and I will be reading it again and again, catching new details each time. Perhaps I'll even take it to a mall one afternoon and read it as I sit and people watch.

CAT scan
horse book
stun gun
glory hour
open door

The second book in The Disillusionists Trilogy, Double Cross, is coming out this week on Tuesday, September 28th! I think it's going to be even better than the first book in the series. Here is the blurb from the author's website:

Justine Jones has lived her life as a fearful hypochondriac until she's lured into the web of a mysterious mastermind named Packard. He gifts her with extraordinary mental powers-dooming her to fight Midcity's shadowy war on paranormal crime in order to find the peace she so desperately craves.

But now, serial killers with unheard-of skills are terrorizing the most powerful beings in Midcity, including mastermind Packard - and his oldest friend and worst enemy, Midcity's new mayor, who has the ability to bend matter itself to his will.

As the body count grows, Justine faces a crisis of conscience as she tests the limits of her new powers and faces an impossible choice between two flawed but brilliant men . . . one on a journey of redemption, and the other descending into a pit of moral depravity.

Double Cross is available for in paperback, and for the Kindle on Amazon. Visit the author's website here: .

~Happy Release Week:) Brenda

Monday, September 20, 2010

Moira Rogers on Research, Wolves & Sex

I have been wanting to interview Bree and Donna, who write under the name Moira Rogers, since last spring. I finally got the chance this month, and hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did. Before I begin, I want to share a paragraph from their bio that gives you glimpse at their unique personalities and writing style:

How do you make a Moira Rogers? Take a former forensic science and nursing student obsessed with paranormal romance and add a computer programmer with a passion for gritty urban fantasy. Toss in a dash of whimsy and a lot of caffeine, and enjoy with a side of chocolate by the light of the full moon.

My first two questions pertain to their new series, Building Sanctuary, which takes place during the 1930's. It features bootlegging werewolves and former debutantes who join together to start a safe place for shifters and their families. I've reviewed the series below the interview here.

Brenda: How the long was this idea in your heads, and did you think people would like it immediately?

Bree: It evolved while we were working on Sanctuary's Price and getting ready to start plotting Sanctuary Unbound. A big part of that was considering Adam's backstory, and the more we talked about it, the more I liked the idea of writing that story. Then I think I started in on Donna, trying to convince her. :D I can't remember, Donna--was it difficult?

Donna: Not really. The biggest hurdle we faced, I think, was figuring out how we could convince our editor to let us write it. Then it turned out not to be a problem at all, because she was like, "Hey, go for it."

Bree: We hoped people would like it, of course, but we were aware that it was a risk. 1930s historicals are not exactly an in demand commodity, but our editor gave us her support and so far I've been thrilled with the response!

Brenda: Was there a lot of research involved to write about that time period, or did you wing some of it? (It was such a fascinating era.)

Donna: There's a ton of research involved, even if it's stuff that never shows up on the page. In a lot of ways, it was harder than writing a book set further in the past, because there are a lot of things that aren't entirely different now. It becomes this balancing act, really, where you try to find a way to let the readers know that yes, you did research this, you didn't just pull it out of your--yeah. LOL

Bree: It was tough, and more tough because a big part of this universe has always been that our wolves live off the beaten path. In Undertow, especially, our characters are so far removed from the world and conveniences of their time that we were essentially writing 1930s characters living a frontier-style life. We didn't set ourselves up for an easy time, that's for sure.

Brenda: I've been dying to ask you a question since reading your books for the first time. I find your love scenes very steamy, as I'm sure all your fans do, but I also find myself giggling at the banter between the couples during sex. Did you always write the love scenes this way...or did it develop with time? I picture you gals going over the scenes, snickering and saying things like "OMG, yeah, yeah, he should say that when he's doing this..." "Come on, they can't do that, can they?". Please 'fess up on the process you go through to write those scorching scenes. I know others must wonder about this too.

Bree: Best. Question. Ever. Because really, our process for writing sex scenes is moderately hysterical, I think. You wouldn't believe how many times I have to IM Donna with, "Choreography check!"

Donna: I'm not going to lie--sometimes I have to pause mid-scene to go find some streaming porn, JUST to figure out if people can really bend that way.

Bree: And then there's all the frantic conversations that go something like this:

Donna: Doooooo it.
Me: No! OMG. I can't!
Donna: Do it now!
Me: *cry*

Donna: Or, "OMG [HERO'S NAME] IS SO DIIIIIIRTY!!" We do that a lot too.

Bree: Or the question so inevitable it has become our standing joke for how silly our job can be at times: "What color are [character]'s panties?!?"

Donna: Seriously, though. Beyond the choreography and panties, each scene is different. Whether it's sweet or spicy or both is all dependent on who's getting it on. Some couples talk more, or dirtier, than others. They all have a distinct dynamic, and that's what leads the scenes more than anything else.

Bree: And in between the jokes and the laughing, we do spend endless hours discussing those dynamics. (Sometimes over the dinner table, much to our husbands' unending consternation.) We want our characters to be changed by the sex they have, and that means we have to go into each scene knowing what they need to learn or give. That takes planning!

Brenda: Do you both see yourself writing when your sitting on the porch, rocking in your favorite chair, at 80 years old, or do you think a time will come when you'll say "Hey, I'm all written out, it's time to give it a rest?"

Donna: Nope. I hope I can come up with some awesome stories to tell when I've been around that long.

Bree: I figure some day, we'll probably run out of ideas. Maybe. But they are always stacking up faster than we could possibly write them, so I guess after we run out of ideas we can work our way through the backlog. Then take a break. ;) (Of course, chances are good we'll come up with more ideas in the meantime!)

Brenda: Thanks for letting me pick your brains ladies. I knew you two would be a hoot to interview. Now, everyone go out and buy a Moira Rogers e-book so you can understand my question about their steamy sex scenes:) I promise it will be worth it.

Visit Bree and Donna, the team who make up Moira Rogers at the following places:
-Moira Rogers Website:
-Bree & Donna's Blog:
-Bree @ Twitter:
-Donna @ Twitter:


Building Sanctuary: Bootleggers & Debutantes

Building Sanctuary
-A Safe Harbor (July 2010)
-Undertow (October 2010)
Author: Moira Rogers
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
A Safe Harbor is available for the Kindle
Undertow will be available in October

A Safe Harbor Summary: Joan Fuller enjoyed a privileged life-until her wealth and connections garnered her the wrong sort of attention. Her rejection of a textile heir-s proposal comes back to bite her when he turns out to be a werewolf on the prowl for a mate.

Former bootlegger Seamus Whelan has cleaned up his act, but when his old partner Gavin comes to him for help, he can-t say no-no matter how deadly the threat. Escorting some female wolves to safety should have been easy, except their leader is a prim ex-debutante with enough power to challenge Seamus himself.

A Safe Harbor takes place during The Depression, in the 1930's, a hard time for humans and shifters, especially those who are trying to stay safe. Joan Fuller is a strong wolf, a female alpha, who escapes a cruel pack with mostly women who have been abused and treated as whores. She was raised in a wealthy family, brought up to be proper and pampered. Nothing prepared her for a life of sacrifice and hardship as she becomes a leader to those who need her. Her needs can't be acknowledged, or given into, and she feels alone. Seamus is a smuggler and a bootlegger getting ready to start a new life with his men. He's called upon by a friend to help Joan and her charges, knowing nothing of their circumstances.

The authors have brought alive this period in history, and made the idea of retired bootleggers, homeless girls and former debutantes who are werewolves believable. The characters are rich and passionate. I was swept away by the danger, adventure and romance of A Safe Harbor. I read it twice before writing this review, and loved it even more the second time. The story is fast paced, the romance is heart wrenching and passionate, and the action keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.

If you love shifter stories and paranormal romance, you will love A Safe Harbor. It's a story to be read again and again.

Undertow Summary: Victor left behind a life of crime to focus on a new vision--helping his alpha build an island sanctuary for werewolves. Harsh experiences prepared him for the hardships involved, except when it comes to dealing with the young female refugees of the brutal Boston pack--especially Simone, who rouses his inner wolf like no other.

Born to wealth and privilege, Simone lost everything when she fell for the seductive whispers of the textile heir who turned her. Once adrift, now she is fired by a new sense of purpose--the chance to broker peace between werewolves and European wizards. Yet even as Europe beckons, her instincts--the same ones that led to trouble before--keep drawing her back to Victor.
Undertow is the second novella in the Building Sanctuary series, and I requested a review copy after reading A Safe Harbor, which I purchased on Amazon. Once again, the authors have captured the character of a man raised during this difficult time in history when the instinct is to protect and to lead, often giving the impression of being controlling. Words don't come easy for some men, as we soon find out in Undertow.

I loved the character of Victor for many reasons. He isn't your typical sexy shifter. He's gruff, brooding, and stoic in many ways. The authors, as far as I'm concerned, nailed the type of man I can imagine living during this era. Simone, our heroine, is a fascinating character as well, opposite of Victor in so many ways. She's the comforting, warm influence in the pack, yet she suffers from guilt over choices she's made in the past. Both allow the guilt over their past and fear of getting into a relationship stand in the way of happiness. In Undertow, Victor and Simone are taken on an adventure that forces them to face their feelings and learn to deal with their past. Witty banter, a stubborn man and wolf instincts take the reader on a sexy adventure.
Undertow is a fast paced sexy read with steamy love scenes, fascinating characters and adventure during a tough era in our history. I loved it, and can't wait until the third installment.

The series takes place before the author's Red Rock Pass series. Both are historical paranormal romance with former bootlegging werewolves. Brilliant, sexy and adventurous come to mind when I think of this new series. If you have read any of the Moira Rogers books in this series, below is the order I suggest you do so:

Red Rock Pass
Becoming (free read)
Little Things (free read)
1. Cry Sanctuary
2. Sanctuary Lost
3. Sanctuary's Price
4. Sanctuary Unbound

Building Sanctuary
1. A Safe Harbor
2. Undertow

I have reviewed the Red Rock Pass series here. To learn more about Moira Rogers and Building Santuary visit their website here.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Science Fiction Romance: Author Interview

Midnight's Ghost
Star Runner's Saga #1
Author: Sara Brookes
Kindle Edition, 207 KB
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
Release Date: May 10, 2010
Available for the Kindle

SUMMARY: Taran has three days to get her former lover—whom she's barely speaking to—and the mysterious teenager she knows nothing about from one planet to another. Given the fact her ship, Eidolon, is the fastest in the star runner fleet, Taran knows she can make the run in the time Wallace has allotted. As the best—and only—female pilot, she's got something to prove. As if things weren't complicated enough, Wallace, and the teenager he has in tow, are both escapees from the harshest prison facility in seven galaxies.

I won a copy of Midnight's Ghost back in May, but sadly it was put in my Kindle and hidden among the other books. Why is that sad? I loved Midnight's Ghost with it's bold heroine and brooding but sarcastic hero. I wish I had read it as soon as it popped into my inbox. I've long been a fan of science fiction, but this is my first sci fi romance read. I didn't know what to expect, but Sara Brookes captivated me from the first page with kick-ass action to introduce her main characters. I stayed up until 2 a.m. reading until my eyes wouldn't stay open any longer. As soon as I woke up in the morning, I grabbed my coffee and started reading again until I finished.

The sexual tension and banter between Taran and Wallace make for a great read, not to mention the steamy sex, but it's not the sole focus of the book. The author has given her characters depth and her plot substance. Midnight's Ghost has plenty of sci fi elements to make it a cool book for fans of space adventure. It's a fast paced read that will leave you wanting more romance and adventure with Taran, Wallace and their crew. On a side note: My fellow Serenity and Firefly fans will love Midnight's Ghost, as it has that feel to it.

Sara graciously allowed me to fire off some questions to her about Midnight's Ghosts.

Brenda: Midnight Ghost is my first science fiction romance read and I loved the characters, the action and the adventure.

Sara: Oh, that's wonderful!! Glad to hear it was something new for you - it's a great and fun set of characters to work with.

Brenda: What type of research did you have to do for the sci fi elements? I'll admit that would intimidate me.

Sara: Let me just say what a wonderful, wonderful research tool Google is. Most of the knowledge about starships is what I already possess because I have a knowledge of sailboats and such--odd as it sounds. It's not that much different to take that information and apply it to starships. Plus, handy thing about writing "fantasy" elements that don't exist - you're only limited by your imagination.

Brenda: Will we be seeing another book in the series soon?

Sara: Yes! Liquid Silver just contracted the next book in this series, Midnight's Shadow, to be released in early 2011. It'll pick up a few months after Midnight's Ghost ends. Plus, I've been playing with the idea of spinning off the series and giving Kerr his own story. But I'm going to finish off Taran and Wallace's story first.

Brenda: I thought you did such a good job mixing in the steamy elements with the action, so neither overshadowed the other. Did you have to cut back on either when you were editing, or did it flow together pretty nicely?

Sara: Thank you! With this story, the two integrated themselves well without a lot of work on my part. From experience, I know it doesn't always work that way, so I realize I was very fortunate to not struggle to make it happen.

Brenda: Why science fiction? What is it about the genre that drew you to write about a female smuggler in space?

Sara: I cut my teeth on science fiction. My dad is a science fiction nut, so I was surrounded by it when I was a kid. I wanted to write something with a lot of action and adventure, but still had a romance story at it's core. Science fiction romance is a growing genre and I wanted to add my own contribution where the woman was the one who was behind the controls of the starship. I love writing strong women who aren't afraid to show their vulnerability when they find the right man--or have him come back into her life as in Taran's case.

Brenda: What are some of your favorite sci fi television shows, movies or books?

Sara: I loved all of the Star Trek shows when they were still airing, the movies as well. It was a thrill be to able to take my teenage daughter to see the Star Trek movie--I think she's more of a sci-fi geek than I am. Like most kids of the 70's, Star Wars holds a special place for me, and I grew up watching the original Battlestar Galactica, too and loved explaining the differences between it and the newer BSG to my daughter as well. Ann Aguirre and Linnea Sinclair have put out some wonderful science fiction romance books recently, both with series books and stand alone titles.

Brenda: Thank you for taking the time to satisfy my curiosity. I enjoyed Midnight's Ghost and look forward to reading more of your work.

Find Out More About Sara
Visit Sara at her website:
Follow Sara on Twitter:
Sara on GoodReads:


Talk Like a Pirate Fun for All

Avast Ye, my landlubber friends, today is Talk Like a Pirate Day, and I can't resist sharing a bit of pirate lore with you all.

I always enjoy looking up the history of women on the seas. Charlotte de Berry was one such pirate gal who was born in the 1600's. Stories vary, but most agree that she fell in love with a sailor and disguised herself as a lad to be with him at sea. The stories change after that, but he was murdered along the way, with her having to escape and flee for her life. What a woman won't do for love!

One of the most famous is Grace O’Malley, an Irish pirate. You can learn about her at the official website of Ireland’s Pirate Queen:

For some awesome steampunk pirate fun visit artist Annie Stegg's website where you can play her Dress Like a Pirate game, complete with tattoos you can change, cool accessories and plenty of bustiers and corsets to play with.

Enjoy yourselves! ~Brenda

Friday, September 17, 2010

For the Love of Zombies

Zombies. Everyone wants to jump on the Zombie Bandwagon. I'm not sure why because when you jump on their wagon they will just eat you. Seriously. They like to eat flesh. But, many of us are fascinated by them. We can't seem to stay away, even though we read or watch something zombie related and then find ourselves making that "I may vomit" face and trying not to gag.

This week it was Zombie Week at I almost missed it, but clicked over their tonight just in time to catch the Zombie Round Table where they are asking authors of zombie related fiction "What is the Appeal of Zombie Fiction?". My favorite response is from S. G. Browne, Author of “Zombie Gigolo” who says in part:

They’re faster. Funnier. Sentient. Plus there’s this constant fascination with the inevitability of a zombie apocalypse. I mean, no one ever talks about the werewolf apocalypse. That would be ridiculous.

Head on over to Tor to read the rest of the Round Table responses here. I posted my opinion below:

I think zombies are the ultimate tool for black humor-- we laugh at their antics even as we cringe and want to vomit. It's great.

As I thought about zombies today I realized I've actually had quite a bit of zombie related posts in the last year. But even before that I was turning my oldest son into a zombie for Halloween:

How To Become a Zombie: I lightly hair sprayed his hair, then "wooshed" some baby powder onto it all over. Then I hair sprayed it again lightly. Wooshed the powder one more time, then hair sprayed again. On his make-up, we started out with white sponged on but it had dried and didn't work well. So, I grabbed some grey, dark green and black then splotched it on his face, neck and hands. I had black make-up in a stick and used that on his eyes and mouth. Then we wooshed powder all over him again, and gently dabbed it with tissue.

The very first short story my husband and I wrote together, An Affair to Dismember, is a zombie love story. It's offline right now, but I'm going to post it on the blog for Halloween.

So, what about those other Zombie posts?

My first post was about The Zombie Today show, which completed Season 1.
Read it here:

I've also reviewed the following Zombie Themed books. Click on a title to read:
Beyond Exile by J.L. Bourne
Play Dead by Ryan Brown
Feed by Mira Grant

So, are you a zombie fan? Or would you rather the fad just disapppeared?


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Interview With Rachel Vincent

Alpha, the sixth and final Shifters book by Rachel Vincent will be out October 1, 2010. This is one of my favorite shapeshifter series,and though I'm sad it's ending, I'm also excited to see what Rachel has come up for us in this final kick ass book. For those of you not familiar with the author or the series, below is a blurb in Faythe's words:


The unscrupulous new Council chair has charged Jace, Marc, and me with trespassing, kidnapping, murder, and treason. Yeah, we’ve been busy. But now it’s time to take justice into our own hands. We must avenge my brother’s death and carve out the rot at the heart of the Council.

It’s not going to be easy, and loss seems unavoidable, but I have promised to protect my Pride, no matter what. With a target on my back and Marc at my side, I’m heading for a final showdown that can—that will—change everything forever.

Alpha is available in paperback and in digital format.

I was given the chance to interview Rachel for her Alpha Blog tour, which was such a fangirl moment for me. I hope you enjoy our chat.

Brenda: I've noticed that fans are VERY vocal about Marc and Jace. Does this play a part in how you look at things as you are writing, or did you have the ending of the series in your head all along?

Rachel: I love that people are so emotionally attached to the characters and so vehement about their “teams.” But no, that doesn’t affect anything I write. It couldn’t, because by the time readers get their hands on one book, I’ve already written at least the next in the series, and sometimes the next two. So, events they won’t see for another year are already set in stone.

Brenda: What was the hardest scene to write in the series (without giving a spoiler of course)?

Rachel: The hardest scenes for me are usually the ones I’m least emotionally invested in. The reverse of that is also usually true—the scenes people think would be the hardest (death scenes, breakup scenes, etc…) usually come the easiest for me. Dialogue flows very quickly for me when I’m writing an argument. Description flows very quickly for me when the setting is vivid. So the hardest things for me to write are usually the “Scooby Doo” scenes, as I call them. The big reveal. Those scenes during which all the pieces have to come together to show what’s happened, without resorting to ripping off rubber masks, either figurative or literal.
Oh, and fight scenes. Those are always hard. Particularly, the ambush scene at the beginning of Prey, and the final fight sequence at the end of Alpha.

Brenda: Do you have a hidden love of something that would surprise your readers, be it food, a special book, a hobby, etc?

Rachel: I’m a huge dork. Seriously. I love Rock Band, and wasabi peas, and Netflix instant downloads. I love B horror movies and tearjerkers equally. I like ponytail holders and jeans, and I almost NEVER carry a purse.

Brenda: I read your post on Deadline Dames about saying goodbye to the Shifters series, but noticed you mentioned a short story coming in the spring from Tor. Do you think that will be goodbye?

Rachel: Um… Probably. I’m willing to write more Shifters short stories if the opportunity arises, but so far, that’s the only one I’m contracted for.

Brenda: Is there one thing that you would NEVER put in a book, no matter what? (Either something too horrible or a pet peeve.)

Rachel: I doubt there’s anything too horrible (too gross, or scary, or gruesome) for me to write about. I actually come to urban fantasy by way of horror, not via romance, and though at this point I can’t imagine myself writing a full novel with no romance at all (nothing adds depth to a character like the possibility of finding and keeping real love), you’re probably never going to find a Rachel Vincent book that doesn’t have something creepy in it at the least, and outright gory/painful/uncomfortable at the most. I’ve had characters stabbed, beaten, gored, broken, raped, shot, kidnapped, disfigured, and cannibalized. Not necessarily in that order. I’ve discussed patricide, fratricide, infanticide, drug abuse, mental illness, and literal torture. So, no. Nothing’s off the table for me, but I will not put anything disturbing in a book just for the sake of shock value. That just doesn’t work. If it doesn’t propel the plot or explore character depth, it won’t go in the book.

However…I won’t write erotica. At this point in my career, I’m not comfortable writing more than one sex scene per book (in my adult series), and I can’t imagine I’d ever stray past an R rating and into X territory.

The "Alpha Bite" from Rachel:
"You don't have to marry an Alpha, Faythe. You're going to be an Alpha." -from pg. 62 of Alpha

About Rachel: A resident of San Antonio, Rachel Vincent has a BA in English and an overactive imagination, and consistently finds the latter to be more practical. She shares her office with two black cats (Kaci and Nyx) and her # 1 fan. Rachel is older than she looks—seriously—and younger than she feels, but remains convinced that for every day she spends writing, one more day will be added to her lifespan.

Where You Can Find Rachel:
Her Website:
Her Blog:
Click here for Rachel's Facebook Page
On Twitter:

The Smart Chicks Kick It Tour
Rachel is participating in the Smart Chicks book signing tour. She'll be at the following locations to sign books and meet fans. If you're going to be attending one or more of the stops, check out these downloadable posters you can print and have signed by the authors at Melissa Marr's website:

September 14th, 2010 7 PM @ B&N THE WOODLANDS, Houston, TX
Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Alyson Noel, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Kami Garcia & Rachel Vincent.

September 20th, 2010 6 PM @ VROMAN'S, Pasadena, CA
Melissa Marr, Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine, Melissa de la Cruz, Rachel Vincent, Margaret Stohl & Mary Pearson

September 21st, 2010 6 PM @ Encinitas County Library, San Diego, CA
Melissa Marr, Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Mary Pearson, Rachel Caine, Rachel Vincent, Carrie Ryan, Margaret Stohl & Kami Garcia.


Monday, September 13, 2010

My First Cowboy Romance

I met Sandy Sullivan at a chat for XOXO Publishing, where she said to me "Most of my books tend to deviate toward western or cowboys. Gotta love a man in tight Wranglers." I confessed to her that I had never read a cowboy romance, and a couple days later she generously offered to send me one of hers. I was a little hesitant because I've read mostly paranormal romance, but I had promised myself to broaden my horizons. Now, Sandy is a prolific author, and I had a really hard time choosing a book. I finally decided to go with Texas Lady, which sounded like a sweet and sexy historical romance. A gal has to go slowly into the world of horse riding, sexy cowboys.

I really enjoyed Texas Lady. It was a sweet story with a little mystery and adventure mixed in with the romance. I also found out after reading it, that it was Sandy's first novel. I must say from looking at her book page she seems to have gotten more bold and steamy in her other books:) I think Texas Lady is a wonderful romance for any age past 16 or so, and of course those of us who passed that age awhile ago.

I asked Sandy some questions about cowboy romance, figuring she wouldn't mind me picking her brain about one of her favorite topics.

Brenda: Why cowboys, Sandy? I know there are the tight Wranglers and all, but what else drew you to writing about cowboys?

Sandy: I've always been a lover of horses and westerns. I loved watching the old westerns on TV and men like John Wayne and others, seemed so sexy to me. The smells of horses, hay and barns are some of my favorite scents, too, so cowboys just kind of come along with those. The other thing about cowboys is they always seem so gentlemanly. You know, holding the door for you, pulling out your chair -- that kind of thing and I just think that's sexy as hell.

Brenda: Texas Lady had an old fashioned feel to it, but I noticed your Wilder Series looks pretty steamy and maybe not quite so old fashioned. Do you think a novice cowboy romance reader like myself could handle it?

Sandy: If you like erotic, then you could handle the Wilder family. It's very hot, but also has the sexy cowboys and a good old fashioned love story in there, too. Even my erotic romances are based around the love of two people, they just have really hot sex!

Brenda: I know you are working on a cowboy shapeshifter short story for a Halloween anthology. I must tell you I am bursting with excitement to read your take on shifters. How did it go? Do you like working with the paranormal aspect? Will we be seeing more supernatural goodness in boots and spurs?

Sandy: It was funny how this cowboy shifter came about from the chat on XOXO. The story is called Cat On The Prowl and the hero is a shifter, a mountain lion shifter, but he's also a cowboy and the first time the heroine sees him, he's in chaps. His name is Gabriel and her name is Suzanne or Suzi. I love paranormal and I may have to start a longer piece with a shifter. I've got so many irons in the fire right now, I don't really have time. Wild Wyoming Nights has quite a bit of paranormal in it though it's not shifters, it's ghosts.

Brenda: Do you remember the first cowboy romance you read yourself?

Sandy: I read several Louie Lamour stories, but I don't remember one specifically.

Brenda: I have to tell you that when I think of cowboys and romance I think of the musical Oklahoma. I've always loved it. What are some of your favorite Western movies?

Sandy: Anything John Wayne.

Brenda: Thank you so much for introducing me to cowboys in romance. I'm really looking forward to your shifter short story, so I don't have to keep having thoughts of Jeff from Texas Lady turning into a large, sexy wolf.

Sandy: I'll keep that in mind the next time I write a cowboy story. LOL I might just have to make my hero a wolf shifter. I do have two more cowboy pieces coming out in the next couple of months. Gotta Love A Cowboy is due out with Passion In Print in October and Hot Summer Love - Cowboy Style is due out with Whiskey Creek Press in November. Keep your eyes peeled to my website at

You can find Sandy's books, including Texas Lady, on her website at:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Readers' First Romance Novels & Winner

For our The Devil Wears Plaid contest I asked readers:

What is the first romance you remember reading?

I was surprised we didn't get a few more comments on this, but the ones we did get were great. If the person has an active blog I've linked to it from their name. I've also linked to the book if it's not out of print. Thanks to everyone for the great comments! (Scroll, or read, down to the bottom for the random winner of the contest.)

Sullivan McPig said...
Hmm... I think that would be
The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. It was recommended to me by my grandmother and I've nver looked at her the same way after reading it.

Robin K said...
I think those would be the V.C. Andrews books I read as a tween.

Nancy said...
I would say
Sense And Sensibility by Jane Austen.

Emily said...
The earliest title I can recall is Lion's Lady by Suzanne Barclay, although I'm sure there were titles before then.

Scorpio M. said...
My first romance was probably a YA romance from the Sweet Dreams line but I can't recall the title. My first adult romance was called Wild Wyoming Nights by
Sylvie Sommerfield. It was an old-school bodice ripper, lol!

Martha Lawson said...
Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers!! Fell in love with romances and have been hooked ever since!

Giada M said...
I believe mi first was
The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons, a really amazing book.

throuthehaze said...
The first romance I read was The Paper Marriage (Harlequin Historical, 524) by Bronwyn Williams.

k_sunshine1977 said...
it was
A Ghostly Affair by Charlotte Maclay. I was looking for some good ghost stories at the library and saw the word "ghost" in the title, so iIchecked it out....and I haven't been the same since!

strange_candy_reviews said...
The first actual romance novel I read was a Mills & Boon, but I don't remember the title. My nana has always had them and I 'borrowed' one when I was about 12 I think.

SusiSunshine said...
The first romance I can remember...does YA count? If yes it was
Ben Liebt Anna by Peter Härtling. we read it for school and it was super cute. Otherwise I would say Trudi Canavan's Age of the Five series.

Lu said...
Mmmm i think it was "Kringe in die Bos". Its in Afrikaans, but there is a English version as well. Beautiful story and one of my favourites! Here is more on it:

The winner of The Devil Wears Plaid is Scorpio! I have emailed her and will forward her address to the publisher. Thanks for entering everyone:)


Friday, September 10, 2010

Review: Jane True is Back & Kicking Butt

Tracking the Tempest
Jane True #2
Author: Nicole Peeler
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: July 1, 2010
Available from Amazon

Summary: Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and Ryu - Jane's bloodsucking boyfriend - can't let a major holiday go by without getting all gratuitous. An overwhelming dose of boyfriend interference and a last-minute ticket to Boston later, and Jane's life is thrown off course.

Ryu's well-intentioned plans create mayhem, and Jane winds up embroiled in an investigation involving a spree of gruesome killings. All the evidence points towards another Halfling, much to Jane's surprise...

I bought Tracking the Tempest because I loved the first book in the series, and I knew Jane True was going to kick ass in the second installment. Nicole Peeler has created a character that is endearing, quirky, compassionate, and courageous. As I was reading about Jane's adventures, this quote came to mind:

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. ~Ambrose Redmoon

In many ways, Jane is not the typical heroine. She loves her small town and the roots she's put down there. Her friends and family mean everything to her. She doesn't feel trapped or as if she's missing something by living where she's her comfort zone. In this book Jane finds out more about herself, her friends and her abilities. The author has a wonderful writing style that makes me feel like I'm being told a tale by a girlfriend as we sit over drinks and good food. I sit at the table with her and express my emotions at each turn of the plot:

"OMG she did NOT just do that!"
*snicker* "Oh, Jane...that minx"
"Wait, stop right there...I need another drink..."
"Oh my, he's wearing what?"
"Damn, I hate that obnoxious pervert!"
*sniff, sniff* " you have a Kleenex?"

I think you get my meaning. I also love the author's choice of words in her writing. She has this incredible way of choosing the correct word for the situation, whether it's a cuss word, or something silly like "willy-nilly". Her choice of words made me smile throughout the entire book.
Tracking the Tempest is a fast paced book with ample sexiness, heart stopping action and a mystery to boot. One of my favorite parts of the book is a fun scene in a salon with Grizzie and Jane. Grizzie has a heart to heart with Jane about Ryu:

"If the person in his eyes is the person you want to be..then don't be scared."

It's a small scene that could easily be missed since it's in between the action and the romance, but it's amazing. Tracking the Tempest is full of subtle moments hidden between the kick ass ones. This is why the Jane True books will be keepers that will be read again and again.


Valentine's Day
scorched hair
masses of chest hair
panic room
cooking barghest
naked satyr
trussed pig training
running away

You can find out more about Nicole Peeler and Jane at her website:

Nicole also blogs at The League of Reluctant Adults with a bunch of other cool authors, so check them out here:

The Jane True Series
One: Tempest Rising
Two: Tracking the Tempest
Three: Tempest’s Legacy (2011)
Four: Eye of the Tempest (2011)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Review & Interview with Dee Tenorio

Tempting the Enemy
Author: Dee Tenorio
Kindle Edition
File Size: 400 KB
Publisher: Carina Press
Realease: June 14, 2010
Available for the Kindle here.

Summary: Detective Pale Rysen, an Alpha, is determined to secretly rebuild the Wolf packs from the ashes of genocide. When a killer starts picking off young females looking for sanctuary, it's his job to protect them. Forced to work with a hated enemy, he fears his cover will be blown.

Jade-Scarlet's membership in the powerful Order of the Sibile has always been controversial. A half-wolf, Jade's unstable psychic powers are a disappointment to her mercenary handlers. So when the Oracle commands her to work with Pale, Jade must prove herself...even if it means challenging the enigmatic shifter.

I asked to review Tempting the Enemy and received a digital copy from the publisher. Dee Tenorio has created a world where shifters were hunted and murdered at one time, and still hide to protect their families. The Order of the Sibile are magic mercenaries with no mercy. Betrayal on any level usually means death. The society as a whole is full of political unrest and fear, which can only lead to rebellion and death. Pale and Jade must work together within the confines of her order and the law. This would be tough enough without shifter hormones wreaking havoc on both of them.

The author has given us a brooding, alpha shifter with the heart of a protector. He's an intelligent, strong leader that only held a slim hope of meeting a mate who could also be his partner. Jade is everything he doesn't want in a mate, yet he can't seem to stop following his instincts. Jade is a fascinating character that I loved from the beginning. She's been living a sheltered life with her order and has no experience in the real world. Her roommate Sage has been her only source of information when it comes to men, and life. I loved how her character had to learn about the world around her and her own strengths at the same time. While a part of her is withdrawn and shy, another part of her is driven to do what is right, regardless of pressure to do what she is told to do. Jade gives the reader some fun, light moments as she discovers things for the first time, such as hot chocolate and desire.

Tempting the Enemy is a fast paced paranormal romance with elements of urban fantasy and suspense. I loved the complex plot that kept me guessing the entire time. The romance between Jade and Pale starts out passionate but reluctant. As the book goes on, the author reaches into the reader's chest and rips their heart out. Thank goodness she gives us closure, or I would have been forced to smash my Kindle. Tempting the Enemy seriously has one of the most emotional, kick butt endings I have ever encountered.

If you enjoy paranormal romance, thrillers or urban fantasy you will want to read Tempting the Enemy.


I emailed Dee with my questions as soon as I finished her book. I was hoping she'd have time allow me to pick her brain. She graciously returned her answers immediately, so I could share them with you.

Since I loved the book and the world so much, my first question has to be about its continuation. Do you think there will be more books to continue the story?

I'm really hoping so. I have several more stories to tell in the world of Resurrection and I'm currently working on what I hope to be the next installment. :) So keep your fingers crossed!

I noticed that you have written many other books, but none seem to be in this genre. What made you create such a unique world with such complex characters in the paranormal realm?
Well, I'm a mad fan of paranormal romances and I so wished I could write one. LOL, wishes really can come true. But the other truth is simply that the story came along and I couldn't say no. Really, I tried. I was afraid I'd get started and not be able to stop or that people would think it was dumb...but I simply couldn't stop. And I'm so happy I didn't.

Do you enjoy surprising your readers with twists and turns in the plot? How do you keep track of the details without letting too many hints slip before you want them to?

LOL, well, every author loves finding out that a reader is intrigued by the plot. I have to admit, my own process is like writing down the movie I see in my head. But I can't see the movie until I figure out the next step. So, for the plot, the details just stay in my head. For the little things, like who is who and what their eye colors are, lol, I make notes, to keep for reference. It's getting REALLY big now, though.

I read your bio and noticed you are a mom. How long have you been writing, and how the heck do you manage to do it with kids?

I'm totally a mom. :) I pretty much steal every word I can while babies climb on me or play at my feet or poke me in the eye. I play music to tune out "Blues Clues" and "Fresh Beats" and listen with one ear to it. :) And on those really special days, my awesome husband takes the kids out to buy me a few hours. If I get really desperate, I bribe my sister to visit for a few days to keep an eye on the troops while I go on a marathon. :) It's not easy, but it's totally worth it when a story comes together.

What the craziest thing you've done to a character (or made them do) in one of your books?

Hmmm, well that's a hard one. I've done some pretty crazy things to my characters. But I have to say, the craziest thing I've tried is a scene from the next book where in which Pale and Jade from "Tempting The Enemy" are sparring, lol. It's been cut, alas, but let's put it this way. Pale and Jade, sweaty and grappling. You can probably guess which one of them ends up thrown into a tree... LOL! (I'm really going to have to find a way to get that scene back into a story!)

For this current book, well, the crazy part is going to be getting the rough and tumble Tate through his story alive. :)

I loved Tempting the Enemy, and look forward to reading your other books. Thank you for taking the time to chat:)

Thanks much, Brenda, I had a great time with your questions!

To find out more about Dee's books visit her at her website: