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Friday, August 30, 2013

Review: Dancing With the Devil

Title: Dancing With the Devil
Author: Keri Arthur
Series: Nikki and Michael #1

Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Connect: Website
Buy: Amazon, B&N
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Nikki is a psychic private investigator, she is able to throw kinetic energy, and able to sense things most people cannot. Her job is to find Mr. Trevgard's daughter and bring her back. While following Monica Trevgard, Nikki gets the feeling that she is being followed and even goes into a house that she feels isn't safe. This is where her eyes are opened to the fact that there are things that go bump in the night. Zombies, vampires and crazy people, oh my!

Michael is in town to kill a bad guy that he has a history with. He is also there to protect Nikki from said bad guy. I think the main part of the book for me was the fact that I knew it would come down to this. Would Michael be able to put aside his history with the bad guy in order to save Nikki? The story was a tad bit predictable, but I did enjoy it. Since I was really intrigued by Michael's character, I was glad to see that the story was told in both Nikki and Michael's POV. Dancing with the Devil didn't go super in depth on his past so I'm hoping book two will shed more light on his character.

I've read both the Riley Jensen series as well as the Dark Angels series by Keri Arthur. So when I saw this series which I didn't really know much about on NetGalley I jumped and requested it immediately. This series is actually a re-release of her previous work. This book leans heavily towards Urban Fantasy with little to no Paranormal Romance. This could change with book two, I'm not certain if the entire series will follow suit. If you're a Keri Arthur fan, or even a Urban Fantasy fan you will probably enjoy this book.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Review: The Reluctant Amazon

Title: The Reluctant Amazon
Author: Sandy James
Series: Alliance of the Amazons #1
Format: ebook
Source: Author
Connect: Facebook, Twitter, Website
Buy: Amazon, B&N
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Rebecca Massee was ditched at the alter by her momma's boy of a fiancee. Her anger triggers an earthquake and a sexy Scottish man comes to her rescue. They fight some foul looking and smelling creatures named Revenants that are basically zombies. Rebecca initially didn't want to believe him that she is an Amazon, but after seeing the monsters and a display from a Fire Amazon she has no choice.

Artair MacKay, a sexy Scottish warrior finds the new Amazons (Earth, Fire, Air, and Water) and trains them to ensure they will be the best fighters and know how to control their powers. Mister tough guy is always hard on his Amazons to ensure they learn everything they need to, but with Rebecca he is different. Though still tough, he has the urge to hold her when she is upset and things to that effect.

Rebecca and the Fire Amazon, Megan, begin their training by running several miles daily and also learning to fight both hand to hand and with weapons. She is very slow on learning to fight and I was slightly worried she wouldn't make the cut. After training for awhile the team goes in search for the two missing Amazons of the previous generation, and a lot of fighting ensues.

The Reluctant Amazon is a breath of fresh air that kept me on my toes. I haven't read anything like this before, but enjoyed it immensely. I highly recommend this book, and will be starting book two very soon!

Thrifty Thursday [28]

Thrifty Thursday is a post all about cheap or free ebooks.

Fantasy Lover - Sherrilyn Kenyon
Less Than a Gentleman - Kerrelyn Sparks

Time Untime - Sherrilyn Kenyon

At Grave's End - Jeaniene Frost

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

WoW [69] - How to Date a Dragon

Title: How to Date a Dragon
Author: Ashlyn Chase
Release Date: September 3rd 2013

Bliss Russo thought nothing exciting ever happened in her life. Until her building caught on fire, and she had to be carried out of the flames in the arms of a gorgeous fireman. Sure, her apartment is now in shambles, and she'll have to start her huge work project completely from scratch. But at least her love life is finally looking up…if only she can find her red-hot rescuer again.

Dragon shapeshifter Drake Cameron is the last of his clan, and the loneliness is starting to claw at him. He's met only one woman who might be able to stand the shock of his true nature. After all, she barely batted an eyelash when her home burned down. And feeling her curves against him was just as hot as the inferno. Just when he thinks he'll never track her down, she walks into his firehouse—with no idea what she's about to get herself into…

Why I am waiting:
I haven't read many dragon shapeshifter books, but have enjoyed the few I've read in the past. This one sounds pretty good, plus it has hotties (firemen).

What book are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

Review: Drea
Title: The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic
Author: Emily Croy Barker
Format: hardcover
Source: Netgalley
Release Date: Aug 1 2013
Publisher: Penguin Group Viking
Length: Novel
Subgenre: Fantasy Romance
Heat level: Mild
Buy: AmazonB&N
Rating: 3-stars
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Drea's Review:
I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Unlucky in love, English grad student Nora wanders into a different world and becomes the equivalent of a fairy princess. But all is not rosy in her fairy kingdom. Her gorgeous prince Raclin is actually a horrible beast--and Mama's boy (except Mama is worse than he is).

A chance meeting with the magician Aruendiel offers her safety but she doesn't accept it until it's almost too late. After spending months being Aruendiel's maid—and suffering with an obsession for him, she persuades him to teach her magic. Despite being from another world, she proves quite adept. And given enough time Nora could become a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, Raclin and his mama have other ideas...and a rare portal to her world won't be open for long...

After slogging through the slow, relatively annoying first 10 percent, the story began to get interesting when the magician rescued her. I read on, hoping for a satisfying ending to what was surely a romance. I barely got it. This is definitely not a category romance.  This story was written in the vein of romantic works like the Austen story mentioned often (Pride and Prejudice). I'm positive anyone reading this book will compare the two and find them similar. 

Slight spoilersthe ending implies there's a happy for now, perhaps a happily ever after but we don't actually get it. In fact, the two never share so much as a kiss.

Had the beginning been easier to get through, the length shorter, and the ending more satisfying, I could have given the book a higher rating. As it stands, I give it three stars simply because it was engaging enough to keep me turning the pages.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Currently Reading [55]

Title: Hearts in Darkness (Nikki & Michael #2)
Author: Keri Arthur
Release Date: August 27th 2013


Private Investigator Nikki James has a lot to contend with. Her lover, Michael Kelly, walked out without so much as a goodbye, and what seemed like a simple case of stopping a runaway teen brought her face-to-face with another clutch of deadly vampires. But if that seemed bad, it is about to get a lot worse, because when Michael returns, it is not for her, but for the case.

Wealthy men are starting to vanish from a resort in Jackson Hole—which is exactly where Nikki’s runaway teen seems to be as well. Something nefarious is going on at the luxury spa, but what? The last thing Michael needs is a confrontation with Nikki—especially when his control over his bloodlust is still so tenuous. But posing as a newlywed couple at the swanky resort may be the best way for both of them to solve their respective cases. This time, Nikki is determined to make Michael see that life apart is worse than death. Yet before she can make him see the light, a specter from Michael’s past rises that could destroy any hope she has of a future with him. Because this time the threat isn’t physical. It’s a matter of the heart.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Review: Surrender to Sultry

Title: Surrender to Sultry (Sultry Springs #3)
Author: Macy Beckett
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: OUAR
Buy: Amazon, B&N
Connect: Website
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Leah McMahon heads back to her hometown, Sultry Springs, to help her father recover after surgery. After 10 years of being gone, things have changed not only for Leah, but also her family and friends. Being in a small town, everyone knows that Leah is back and people are wondering why she stayed away for so long. It didn't take long for the gossip mill to start and everyone dropping by her father's house to wish him well and try to get some details on her disappearing act. Personally, I love books that have small towns as the setting. It makes the character's story flow easier since most of the characters have known each other since childhood and makes it more believable.

Colton Bea (aka Colt) is the sheriff of Sultry Springs. Colt has never gotten over the one that got away. Much to his surprise, he pulls someone over and only to see his high school sweetheart (Leah) behind the wheel. They get a second chance, if only they can trust one another. My main concern while reading was if Leah would be able to share whatever she was hiding and if Colt could handle it. Colt seems to be the tall, dark and charming guy that most women fantasize after. I enjoyed watching his character grow as the book went on. It started with a little bit of past information of his rebellious youth, versus what he is now, a dependable though sometimes cranky town sheriff.

Surrender to Sultry is a engaging read with characters that will have you coming back for more. The characters seemed real, and by the end I felt like they were old friends. I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be buying the other 2 in the series. If you're looking for a rainy day read that has a sheriff and small town this is your book. Just a warning, if you're anything like me you won't be able to put it down until you're finished.

This review was first published at Once Upon A Romance.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thrifty Thursday [27]

Thrifty Thursday is a post all about cheap or free ebooks.

A Moment - Marie Hall

Stolen Heart - Carol Rose

Blackbirds - Chuck Wendig
Mockingbird - Chuck Wendig

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

WoW [68] - Must Love Fangs

Title: Must Love Fangs
Author: Jessica Sims
Release Date: August 27th 2013

The third book in the “funny, sexy, and lively” (Publishers Weekly) romance series about a paranormal dating service called Midnight Liaisons.

Marie Bellavance has known for years that she’s going to die of the same incurable disease her mother did. That’s why she never dated and doesn’t allow anyone to get close to her. But now, as an employee of the paranormal dating agency Midnight Liaisons, she has a chance: if she can find someone to turn her into a supernatural creature, she’ll be cured!

Flirty were-cougar Joshua Russell has wanted standoffish Marie for his own, but she’s been off limits as a human. When he catches her sneaking away from a vampire date gone wrong, he steps in and offers his own services. As a vampire bodyguard, he’s able to tell her which men will be the perfect ones to date. But he’s secretly got a better plan in mind: if she wants to date the supernatural, a handsome were-cougar would be the best choice of all.

Why I am waiting
I loved book two in the Midnight Liaisons series so I can't wait to read this one! Plus, who could turn away a were-cougar?

What book are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review: My Favorite Mistake

Review: Drea
Title: My Favorite Mistake
Author: Chelsea M. Cameron
Series: My Favorite Mistake #1
Format: paperback
Source: Netgalley
Release Date: Aug 27 2013
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Length: Novel
Setting: Maine
Subgenre: Contemporary New Adult
Heat level: Mild
Buy: Amazon, B&N
Rating: 3-stars
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Drea's Review:
I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The university’s housing department has sent a male as the fourth roomie for Taylor’s dorm room. Hunter is the hot bad boy every girl hates to love. But Taylor can’t let him weasel his way in, no matter how many cute songs he writes for her. Not with a past like hers.

I adore books where the hero and heroine are at odds in the beginning, including wonderful verbal sparring. This book definitely had a heroine who was at odds with the hero, but he was very rarely at odds with her. The sparring wasn’t particularly clever and it was a repetitive format: Hunter makes a lame innuendo or outright pass at Taylor, she sputters and lashes out—rinse and repeat with the occasional escalation to physical violence on her part. The repetition went on far too long (for a good 70% of the book).

Based on the number of reviews on Goodreads, it looks like this was self-published first with very favorable response. I don’t really see the draw. I realize many people read for the escapism experience, but I prefer my contemporary romance to at least have the grain of truth to it. This contemporary romance reads as a fantasy simply because the hero is simply too perfect, even with his troubled past.

That said, it flowed quickly, mostly because the book was primarily made up of dialogue. The romance is sweet. I suppose it’s believable, I mean what girl wouldn’t eventually fall for the perfect Hunter? And the ending was nice. I may have wiped away a tear or two.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Review: In His Command

Review: Drea
Title: In His Command
Author: Rie Warren
Series: Don't Tell #1
Format: paperback
Source: Netgalley
Release Date: Aug 6 2013
Publisher: Forever Yours
Length: Novel
Subgenre: M/M Futuristic Erotica
Heat level: Crazy Sexy
Buy: AmazonB&N
Rating: 5-stars
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Drea's Review:
I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

In the year 2070, the Purge and Plague has wiped out most of mankind. Clustered in cities run by a despotic company, humans’ focus is on breeding. And anyone not breeding is judged, sentenced, and quickly executed. Caspar has skirted the CO’s  breeding requirements because he’s a military man but that all changes when he discovers the guy who went down on him last night is not only a Company CEO, but also his next mission.

This was my first M/M story. And it was a long one (over 90k). But the author’s voice (or rather Caspar’s voice), is so engaging that I couldn't read fast enough. So many other reviewers complained about Caspar’s blunt crassness. I adored it. This isn't a romance featuring women so the narrative shouldn't behave as if it is. This is a gay romance starring a battle-hardened, emotionally scarred military man in a dystopian world.

I will warn that you should not pick this up unless you’re prepared for copious amounts of explicit gay sex. There is a ton. I mean…a ton. Most were well-written—impressively so at times. Though occasionally I’d find myself trying to picture the acrobatics these two would have to do to accomplish what was mentioned. As far as the story, the world is creative and the conflict well crafted. I can’t say the outcome was surprising but even knowing what would happen didn't stop me from enjoying it when it did. There were many times I found myself laughing. And at the end I happily bawled.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bought, Borrowed & Bagged [12]

BB&B (Bought, Borrowed and Bagged) is a weekly meme, hosted by TalkSupe, where you can share the books that you have bought, borrowed or bagged (won) plus a recap of the previous week's reviews, upcoming reviews, on going events and any news you want to share with your followers.

I haven't done a BB&B in awhile, so here are some of the items from the last month or two that I remember.

Wicked Games - Jessica Clare
Delly's Last Night - Tracy Cooper-Posey
A Moment - Marie Hall
Bound to Me - Jeannette Medina
Marked - Elisabeth Naughton
The Gatekeeper's Sons - Eva Pohler
Private Message - Danielle Torella

Hearts in Darkness - Keri Arthur
Chasing the Shadows - Keri Arthur
Kiss the Night Goodbye - Keri Arthur
Wicked Beat - Olivia Cunning

Upcoming Reviews
Hearts in Darkness - Keri Arthur
Chasing the Shadows - Keri Arthur
Surrender to Sultry - Macy Beckett
Wicked Beat - Olivia Cunning

Previous Reviews
Seduced - Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott
A Love Untamed - Pamela Palmer
Along Came A Spider - Kate SeRine
Gerard's Beauty - Marie Hall

The Master Undone
Seeing Red

Friday, August 16, 2013

Review + Giveaway: Seduced

Title: Seduced
Author: Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott
Series: Lost in Oblivion 0.5
Buy Links: Amazon, B&N, Kobo, ARe
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Don't forget to enter the giveaways at the bottom of the post!

Warning: get ready for a testosterone overload. The guys are in the driver's seat in Seduced - and the ride's gonna rock.

Twenty-three year old Nick Crandall has one focus in his life: Oblivion, the band he formed with his best friend Simon Kagan. With gigs coming up and the band members lacking focus after losing their drummer to rehab, they're out of ideas. Until Oblivion's bassist, Deacon McCoy, poses a surprising suggestion.

Bring in someone new. Two someones.

One You Tube video gone viral later, Oblivion is poised on the brink of stardom. With their new hot drummer chick — who comes in a package deal with a talented guitarist who happens to be head over pick in unrequited love with her - it seems like everything's falling into place. Or will the band Nick and Simon have fought to keep together disintegrate before their eyes?

Four guys & one woman + more success than they ever bargained for = trouble, of the sexiest kind.

Get Seduced by this novel-length introduction to the band Oblivion. This preview occurs before the four forthcoming books about each of the band members. Sometimes getting lost means finding yourself...

Lost in Oblivion Website:

Seduced is about the band Oblivion that hasn't quite made it yet. They have a few gigs but nothing major. The band members look for a drummer and manage to find a dynamic duo (Gray and Jazz) that are just what they needed. Though it starts out rocky between the band members, they quickly adapt and make compromises so the band can succeed without major issues.

Simon is a love em and leave em type of guy. He's the type of band member that I've read about oh so often, yet this time it was different. I started out thinking I wouldn't really like him, but I grew to love and look forward his portions of the book.

Nick is the oh so serious guitarist with a major case of jitters when it comes time to get on stage. He wants the band to hit the big times and kind of forces the others to do things that are best for the band. That doesn't always go over so well, and definitely causes some tension.

The others in the band are noteworthy of their own accord, but I don't want to giveaway too many details. Jazz sounds like a complicated woman (she's the drummer) that perfectly balances one of the characters. The two characters that I NEED to know more about are Deacon (the bassist) and Gray (guitarist). Lucky enough for me, Deacon's book is coming out in September!

Seduced is like going to a concert, its opening was pretty good but it just kept getting better and better as I kept reading. I will note that there are some serious sexy times (including a few menage a trois scenes) throughout the book so Seduced is not for the faint of heart. However if you want to be entranced while reading about some awesome band members, this is the book for you.

Book 1 in the NA rock star series, Lost in Oblivion
Coming in September

Onstage he’s Demon, the unsurpassable bassist.

Offstage he’s the Peacemaker, the mastermind who keeps his volatile band from imploding.

Opening for their idols on their first ever tour, Oblivion is living the dream. That dream becomes a nightmare when Oblivion draws more attention than the headliner and egos clash. Frustrated at being shoved out of his mediator role by their new manager, Deacon McCoy loses himself in brutal workouts only coming up for air long enough to refuel—and that means hunting down the catering truck at odd hours.

Especially the deliciously cute chef who excites his taste buds as much as his body.

The child of roadie parents, Harper Pruitt has heard every pickup line twice. To her, musicians are one step above the scraps on her cutting board. All she wants is to get enough experience to run her own catering company, but Deacon and his bottomless and surprisingly gourmet stomach is too tempting to resist. Before long, she finds herself wanting to experiment with him outside the kitchen.

When Harper sees that Deacon’s sense of responsibility is doing him serious damage, she realizes he’s far from the typical rock star. But as the band's fame grows, she wonders if she can love a man who doesn't know how to let anyone in—even her.

You met Deacon McCoy in SEDUCED, now you can watch just how far a big man can fall.

Add to your Goodreads Shelf:

About the Authors:
Cari Quinn - USA Today bestselling author Cari Quinn wrote her first story—a bible parable—in 2nd grade, much to the delight of the nuns at her Catholic school. Once she saw the warm reception that first tale garnered, she was hooked. Now she gets to pen sexy romances for a living and routinely counts her lucky stars. When she’s not scribbling furiously, she can usually be found watching men’s college basketball, playing her music way too loud or causing trouble. Sometimes simultaneously.

Connect with Cari: Author Facebook, Facebook, Facebook Group, Twitter, Website

Taryn Elliott - I'm from the great state of New York--upstate NY, thank you very much. My family consists of a brother who takes care of keeping the snarky side of me alive and a dog that is more spoiled child than mutt. My writer-friends are the glue that keeps my crazy ideas more in the sane category, and my non-writerly friends are the reason I'm not a complete hermit. I can't go a day without laughing and I truly do fall in love with each and every one of my leading men as I write their book. Music is life and every story has its own soundtrack.

Connect with Taryn: Author Facebook, Facebook, Facebook Group, Twitter, Website

Tour Giveaway:
One lucky winner that follows the tour will receive the following prizes:
Sterling Silver earrings
$10 GC to iTunes
$15 GC to Starbucks
Paperback of Seduced.
Paperback of Cari Quinn's Unveil Me
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Giveaway:
One lucky follower will win an ebook copy of Seduced! Just fill out the google form below and I will email the winner on 8/24. Entries will be accepted until 8/23 11:59pm. The winner's information submitted will be supplied to the author so the prize can be delivered via email.Winner has been selected and emailed!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thrifty Thursday [26]

Thrifty Thursday is a post all about cheap or free ebooks.

15 Minutes - Jill Cooper
Escaping Reality - Lisa Renee Jones
Second Nature - Elizabeth Sharp
Catalyst - Jennifer Snyder
Troll Or Derby - Red Tash

Undressed - Avery Aster
Scorched Treachery - Rebecca Ethington

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lovestruck Giveaway Hop

When I ran across the Lovestruck Giveaway Hop I knew I had to join in. I really appreciate all of my followers (and welcome to the new ones!) and wanted to give something back to yall.

The definition that was posted for love-struck is having a passionate or overwhelming feeling of love; smitten. I feel that way about several books, it's mainly the ones where I can't get the characters out of my mind even after reading.

The below books are all ones that made me fall in love with at least one of the main characters. Clicking the title of the book leads to its GoodReads page.

A Brush of Darkness - Allison Pang (paperback or ebook)
Brystion is an incubus that could knock on my door any day. This series kicks butt.
Eternal Rider - Larissa Ione (paperback or ebook)
Ares had me lusting after him and one of his brothers. After reading this book I instantly bought the rest of this series and started reading book two.
The Only Sorceress - Anya Breton (ebook only)
Desmond the Dick had me happy one second and frustrated another. He's complex and I can't wait to see more.
Ivory - Lola Dodge (ebook only)
Panther is drool worthy and had me needing to know more about the sexy jungle cat shifter.

Thank you Under the Covers for hosting the Lovestruck Giveaway Hop!

1 Paperback or Ebook copy from the list above
**Please note some books are ebook copies only

1) Winner will have 48 hours to respond via email to claim prize. If winner does not respond within the allotted time, another winner will be chosen.
2) Giveaway is open INT. US winner can select to get an ebook or paper copy, whichever format is available and preferred (I will select either Amazon or The Book Depository if paper copy is chosen). If INT winner - book will be from The Book Depository, as long as they ship free to your country.
3) All fake entries will be deleted
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check out the other awesome blogs in the hop!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Giveaway + Spotlight: Seeing Red

Title: Seeing Red
Author: E.L. Esch
Buy Links: Loose-ID

What would you do if you lost five years of freedom? If everything you'd ever known was torn away from you, all because the one person you counted on to save you didn't come through?

This is the cruel reality for Gabriel “Red” Thatcher, convicted at age nineteen for the murder of his father. Now twenty-five and eight months out of prison, Red has nothing to his name and no one to help him. He is carrying close to him a rage hotter than white flames. Had his sister just testified on his behalf in court, he could have been spared the horrible things that happened to him in the doghouse. Things that'll make him never look at intimacy the same way again.

Red can't take swallowing his bitter rage alone anymore. Unable to kill the growing loneliness and ire with time, he heads into the Flower District in search of a gay bar to drown his sorrows. There he meets the bubbly, easy-on-the-eyes Silo Winters.

When Red learns that Silo did three years in prison for an accidental oil fire, he brings Silo home, not so much for a wild romp as to relieve his aching loneliness. Besides if anyone will understand Red's pain it'll be Silo, who's gone through some of the same horrors he has. However, he definitely doesn't count on Silo becoming so much more than a sexy shoulder to lean on. Now, if only Red can learn to let him in.

The Flower District was named for what many men lost there—that moment when the lily white of a pure man’s soul turned red with his first taste of carnal lust. This was not my case, however. I’d lost the purity of having an untouched body years ago, and to a man I didn’t even love…or want.

I sat in the district’s most renowned bar, Divano Messia. I could practically feel eyes cruising over me, but I paid them no mind. I felt bad for the first guy who’d offer to buy me a drink, because I was that one-in-a-million man who wasn’t looking to get laid in a place meant for people looking to get laid. I just wanted to be left alone and drink.

Despite this, I let my gaze wander. I hadn’t gotten any in more than eight months, so I let myself have some eye candy at least. Those times in prison didn’t count. I didn’t exactly find the idea of being forced against some concrete wall by a man I hardly knew a good time. If I wanted, I could have one of these men on my arm in an hour’s time, but because of the past, because of prison, I didn’t. I would never take a one-night stand—that was the promise I’d made to myself eight months ago on my first day outside my prison cell, my first day of freedom.

Besides, I didn’t have much money to buy a guy a drink. All I had in my wallet today was a twenty, enough for two drinks at most and, if I was lucky, a taxi ride home.

I looked down at my reflection in the bar top and sneered. The twenty wasn’t even mine. I hadn’t been able to find work since I’d gotten out of the doghouse, and it stung worse than a rough first time that the money I did have I was leeching off of my sister. I had been for eight months for rent, food, and now alcohol. But as much as I hated being out on the town using my sister’s money, I desperately needed the booze, because if I penned through another to-be-ignored job application sober, I knew I’d blow a gasket.

Thus I ordered the driest cocktail Messia served—a Stinger. It hurt my throat to swallow it, but I sucked up the burn and smacked my lips. It wouldn’t get me drunk, but twenty bucks wouldn’t anyway, so at least I could take my mind off all the shit going on in my life by scalding my tongue.

When I grimaced at my second sip of the cocktail, a man a few seats away from me laughed. I looked up at him, but he wasn’t looking back. I wondered if he’d even been laughing at me as I profiled his average build and cleanly shaven skull. What attracted my attention the most about him were his ice-blue eyes. I only caught a glimpse when he turned to look behind him, but they were astounding. A pale winter blue, almost stark white, just like icicles reflecting the color of the sky. I could almost smell the clean air and feel the frigid chill of winter when I saw them.

Realizing I was staring, I lowered my eyes. Then I caught sight of an array of black bars on the underside of the man’s wrist. A barcode… I gazed back up at his shaven skull and understood, and that’s when he looked at me.

He smiled. His teeth were straight and perfect, though strangely not quite as white as his eyes.

I turned my gaze away, finding his tattoo again and staring. He must’ve noticed, because he folded his arms to conceal it when I brought my gaze up to his face.

Now it could have just been a meaningless tattoo. I’d heard of teens getting barcode tats just so they could scan themselves at stores. He could’ve been inked just for shits and giggles, but I didn’t think so. The way he hid his tattoo from me when he caught me staring…the seemingly pained look in his eyes when he’d folded his arms…his ink was personal. Too personal to have been done for kicks. After all, lots of guys who’d been in prison got tats of their prisoner ID. I knew—I was one of them. Only I didn’t do it to make myself look like some badass, or to brand myself as a rebellious stray lamb. I did it to remind myself that no matter how rough life got, I’d been through worse. Much, much worse…

“Silo Winters.” The tattooed man called across the bar. “That’s my name. Yours?”

“Red…” A large part of me didn’t want to talk to him, because I knew what he was after. A larger part of me realized from the ink on his wrist that he might have been through the same type of hell I had in prison, and that he, like me, could possibly want a shoulder to lean on to get away from it all. But I wasn’t about to kid myself. This was the Flower District’s most popular gay bar, after all.

“Red, like the crayon color?” He rose from his seat and took the one next to me instead.

“I guess.” I sipped my drink again and cringed.

“Why drink it if you don’t like it?” Silo set his elbow on the bar and his chin atop his palm.

“Because I want to.” I drank again, noticing the way he kept eying my cocktail.

“Care to offer me one?” He grinned at me stupidly, with his lips crooked and his eyes squeezed shut.

And though I kind of found it cute, I shook my head and said, “No.”

That quieted him for a minute.

“Well, I won’t make you woo me, if that’s not your thing. How about you just take me home and we skip the formalities?”

Talk about coming on too strong. Part of me was a bit disappointed this man had ended up just like the rest, mostly because I yearned to hear the story behind the tattoo on his wrist. I looked for it again. Realizing it was hidden, I scratched my own instead.

“Sorry, I’m not looking for anything like that.” I promptly asked the bartender for my bill, and then again for my change when he gave it to me.

“I won’t rob you or anything.” Silo stared at me as I rose from my seat, an odd pleading look in his bluish-white eyes.

“Sorry.” I set a dollar on the bar and left, feeling those icicle eyes burning into my back as I stood up to head out the door.

“Hey wait, sugar.”

Against my better judgment, I turned back to face Silo. “What?”

“I’m not offended by a rejection.” He laughed. “Stay. Drink. That’s why you came, isn’t it?”

I narrowed my eyes. He was right. Besides, I’d only finished half my cocktail. “Fine…” I slowly took my seat again.

“So what’s got ya sucking down a throat-stinging drink like that, sweetheart?” Silo asked.

I hadn’t thought he’d continue talking to me, but as long as he didn’t make any more passes at me, I didn’t mind.

“Life,” I grumbled.

“Hah! That’s what’s got me here too, sweetheart.” I hadn’t intended to sit with him and talk. After all, I couldn’t give him the night of fun that he wanted. But the moment I saw him, his beautiful icicle-blue eyes captured me. They demanded my attention every time I looked at him. And when I’d felt them on my back as I’d turned to leave the bar, I’d sensed them looking beyond the surface of my skin and down into my core. That was one of the reasons I’d sat back down at the bar. That and my insatiable curiosity about the barcode tattoo on the underside of his wrist. Mostly, though, it was the look of quiet understanding in Silo’s eyes when I caught him staring at my similarly tattooed wrist.

Before I knew it, we’d been talking for hours, mostly about things that had no meaning, like our favorite bars in the Flower District. Silo was a huge flirt and hit on me more often than not, but nothing serious. He always laughed when he dropped some cheesy line or batted his eyelashes, almost as if he were emphasizing that it was all a joke. At intervals he still seriously asked me to take him home, and—because of my personal principles—I declined.

“Crayon…” Silo said suddenly. He tapped the side of my martini glass with a terribly chewed nail. The ping echoed around the bar, lost in the conversations of other men. “Do you come here every night? I’ve never really seen you around here.” He smiled.

I shook my head. “No.”

Silo grinned and settled his cheek against the palm of his hand. “I see.”

I could see the barcode tattooed on the underside of his wrist again with the way he was sitting, and my curiosity flared up once more.

Now normally I would in no way bring up prison, because if I did, the conversation was bound to route back to me and what’d I’d done to get locked up. Normally I avoided the topic like the plague, but here I was with a man who may have gone through that very same hell and all I wanted to talk about was prison since I’d met him, because for the first time in eight months, I’d found someone whose gaze didn’t develop that repelling glare when it passed over the barcode inked into my wrist. And just knowing someone like that existed made my soul cry out to him as a fellow comrade-in-arms. If I was wrong about it all—about him and his past being just like me and mine—then oh well. I would take that chance, because eight months of having no one to talk to were driving me crazy. If I did turn out to be wrong about him, then he’d simply become just another stranger judging me silently with his pale, wintery eyes.

So as casually as I could, trying to show Silo I wouldn’t care no matter how he answered, I asked, “So I’ve noticed you’ve got a barcode tat. Shits and giggles, or have ya done time?” while tapping my ink.

“You finally asked, huh? I wondered who would be the first.” Silo chuckled, almost spat as he raised his head and looked at my face. He shucked off his leather jacket and pointed to a fleshy red burn on the right side of his neck.

“Three years.” Silo craned his neck as if to give me a better view. “Trespassing. Apparently I’m dumb enough to cause an oil fire right in front of my own face.”

I scratched my wrist. “You didn’t?”

“Fucking tank fell off the truck. Driver started the vehicle and then…” Silo clenched his fist before my face and then stretched his fingers wide. “Boom. Luckily it was a small tank, but there I was, a twenty-three-year-old nitwit proving the size of my balls to a couple of drunk college buddies. A convenient excuse. They convicted me on the cigarette I’d thrown to the ground minutes before the tank just rolled off the truck and started a fire. I’d tossed the stupid thing right next to the truck’s tire too, and of course there were no witnesses of it being an accident. My college friends had bailed on me, afraid of getting caught. Bullshit. I just got out a month ago.” Silo held up his hand and ordered a Balalaika when the bartender was within earshot.

The bar master exchanged a nod with Silo, turning to find his mixer. When Silo received his drink, he sipped it daintily, his anger seeming to have already cooled. “Ah, that’s good. I missed this damn place.”

“Amen to that.” I held up my drink in a hypothetical toast.

Silo sipped his cocktail with a finesse that matched the catlike grace with which he handled the glass. As he brought the glass away from his lips, he smiled sadly at the barcode tattooed on the underside of his wrist. “You have one too, huh?” He gestured at my similarly placed ink. “What do you think possesses us to remind ourselves of the shit we went through in there?”

I laughed, merely because I was happy to understand what he meant. “That it only gets better?” I snorted. “Or worse.” I examined my ink and shook my head. After what had been done to me in that hellhole, I could only pray that things couldn’t possibly get worse. “So were you one of those dudes who couldn’t stand the blood, Silo?”

“Pft, no. Tattoos don’t hurt that much. I actually thought about getting another.” He stopped to take a drink of his cocktail. “Funny.” He grinned. “You didn’t say anything about my name being weird. Most people would’ve brought it up by now.”

I shrugged. “What would I say? My name’s a crayon color.” I paused, thinking long and hard about saying what I wanted to say next. I passed my eyes over Silo’s figure openly. “I’d rather mention something about that fine body.”

Silo sputtered into his drink and ended up swallowing more laughter than cocktail. “Oh, you’re finally coming around, huh?”

No, he was wrong. I wasn’t looking for any more empty sex in my life. I glanced at Silo and silently apologized for hitting on him, because I hardly had any intention of having yet another forced, emotionless romp. But that nagging fellowship I felt between Silo and me was just too strong to ignore. Maybe his relentless flirting had simply taken its toll on me, because I actually wanted to take him home now just to be close to him, the man who neither judged nor feared me.

So when I simply shrugged, I hoped Silo knew how I felt.

“Don’t come on to me half-assed.” Silo smiled despite his words. He took a swig of his cocktail, twiddling his thumbs around the stem of his glass when he set it back down on the bar. “If you don’t find me attractive, I can go back to the end of the bar.”

“N-no!” I stuttered. “I meant what I said—you do have a nice body. I just—”

“You ever been fucked in prison, Crayon?” He looked me up and down and shook his head. “You look too built to have been bullied like I was.” He snickered, almost like his words didn’t carry the horrors of his past.

The question hit me so suddenly that my mouth went dry. I almost felt like he knew what was going through my head, as if his ice-blue eyes were reading me. So it was true, then—he’d gone through the same shit as me and more in prison, and that was when I knew for sure that I wanted to take him home with me. Because, like I’d hoped, he wasn’t judging me. He understood.

I regarded Silo’s quiet trepidation with care, knowing I was treading on eggshells now. Little did he know, he was doing the same.

“No,” I lied.

About the Author:
I can mostly be found staring into the screen of my PC or laptop into all hours of the night, hyped on caffeinated soda and likely procrastinating something important by losing at Internet Checkers or browsing the web (The day I win a game of Internet Checkers is the day I can write more than a few pages at once without procrastinating). When I'm not doing that, I'm either out being my nerdy self or, of course, writing. I've been writing since the fourth grade, and have no plans to stop. To me, one of the greatest pleasures in life is being able to create worlds and characters whose lives I can share with others.

Connect: Blog, DeviantArt, Facebook, Website

E. L. Esch is giving away a digital copy of Seeing Red during her tour. For a chance to win please fill out the Rafflecopter below.
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Monday, August 12, 2013

Giveaway + Spotlight: The Master Undone

Title: The Master Undone
Author: Lisa Renee Jones
Series: Inside Out #2.5
Buy: ONLY $0.99 Kindle, Nook

I told him goodbye, and I will not call him. I know if I do, it will be my undoing, and I'll once again be caught up in his spell. I will once again be...lost.

In her private journals, Rebecca laid bare her soul, revealing her obsession for the one man whose erotic demands captivated her imagination--and enslaved her forever. Now, with Rebecca no longer in his life he is lost, questioning everything he thought he knew about himself and about control he holds in such high regard. One women will reach out to heal him and then turn away, leaving him haunted. She is nothing he thought he wanted and somehow everything he needs. He tells himself to forget her but he cannot escape his desire for her. He has to have more...

About the Author:
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT TRILOGY which has sold to more than ten countries for translation with negotiations in process for more, and has now been optioned by STARZ Network for a cable television show, to be produced by Suzanne Todd (Alice in Wonderland).

Since beginning her publishing career in 2007, Lisa has published more than 30 books with publishers such as Simon and Schuster, Avon, Kensington, Harlequin, NAL, Berkley and Elloras Cave, as well as crafting a successful indie career. Booklist says that Jones suspense truly sizzles with an energy similar to FBI tales with a paranormal twist by Julie Garwood or Suzanne Brockmann.

Prior to publishing, Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by Dallas Women Magazine. In 1998 LRJ was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.

Lisa loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her through her website and she is active on Twitter and Facebook daily.

Connect: Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Website

Lisa is giving away a REVEALING US Tote Bag with SWAG at the end of her tour to one lucky winner.
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Friday, August 9, 2013

Review: A Love Untamed

Title: A Love Untamed (Feral Warriors #7)
Author: Pamela Palmer
Format: Paperback
Source: OUAR
Connect: Website
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Fox (formally known as Kieran) is excited when he is chosen as a Feral Warrior. He quickly goes to the Feral house and meets the other warriors and other new recruits. Generally the only time there are new Feral Warriors is when one dies, his power then goes to another person of that shifter bloodline that is the strongest of their line. So much to everyone's surprise, all of the ancient Feral Warrior shifters are reappearing and the new guys are either the best or worst of their line due to the mages (bad guys) casting a spell. Because the Feral Warrior's aren't sure who is evil, I was kept on my toes and the story kept my attention.

Fox starts out as a womanizer, but as soon as he set eyes on Melisande, his heart beats faster. Melisande is an Ilina warrior that has a mysterious past. She hates shifters, and gives the cold shoulder to pretty much everyone. When she meets Fox, she can't help her strong feelings and struggles to maintain her icy exterior. As the story progresses and they go in search of a kidnapped person, I got to know several different shifters as well as see the budding relationship between Fox and Melisande. I was initially worried that I would be lost due to this being the 7th book in the series, but much to my surprise everything was explained and made sense. I absolutely loved A Love Untamed and will be buying the rest of the series. I recommend this series to anyone that enjoys shifter books.

This review was first published at Once Upon A Romance.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thrifty Thursday [25]

Thrifty Thursday is a post all about cheap or free ebooks.

The Descent Series - SM Reine

Single Wolf Female - Jessica Sims
Rock Chick - Kristen Ashley

Ivory - Lola Dodge
Temptress - Lola Dodge

The Beast's Bride - Jill Myles

 Run Screaming! - Sarah J. Sequins