This blog is for those 18 and older.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Review: Ascension by Caris Roane

I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant to pick-up this book.  I’m not a huge fan of vampires and when I read this story contained vampires with wings, well, I didn’t really know what to expect.  But of course, curiosity got the best of me and I started reading.

I’m so glad I did!

Ascension by Caris Roane is one of those unique paranormal romances that gives its readers more than romance. It provides the reader with a world to become immersed in, a group of friends to get to know, and a visceral fantasy that includes multiple dimensions both of space and thought. This novel, quite frankly, is an intelligent romance.

Ascension, with its cast of characters, reminds me of the historical romances of old. Remember those? Where not only did we have the pleasure of focusing on the main characters’ love story, but also became absorbed in the time period with all its historical figures, political intrigues, societal rules, and unique exceptions. I don’t know about you, but I miss those. Thankfully, this book has it all.

The heroine, Alison Wells, is an interesting combination of guts and reality-based fears and limitations. She is a mortal psychologist who in the process of “ascending” to Second Earth, a second dimension where those with powers dwell. The vampire part? That is simply what these ascenders change into, but it does play a specific role in sex as well as in determining the good and evil factions of Second Earth.

Alison, however, is more powerful than any ascendiate in centuries, so the opposing faction of Second Earth is anxious to eliminate her before her ascension.  This is why the hero, Kerrick, is so important. Kerrick is Alison’s Guardian of Ascension, and he is all we want in our heroes. He’s strong beyond belief, the best skilled warrior of the seven, is emotionally scarred after his second wife and children were killed by the opposition, and he has this small weakness; unlike his brother warriors, he cannot fold.  Folding is when a warrior thinks of where he wants to be and then he appears there, a rather crucial basic skill of Second Earth.  Luckily for us, Kerrick’s position as Guardian means he must stay with Alison constantly which results in all kinds of romantic sparks J

This romance is complex in an exciting way. It pulls the reader in to learn of the multi-dimensional worlds, the players of the forces of good and evil, the Warriors of the Blood brotherhood and their unique personalities, and the intricate symbiotic relationship between Mortal Earth and Second while providing a ride that includes the tension of danger, the excitement of battles, and, what I love, the promise of more to come.   

Plus, at the heart and soul of this novel is a love story between two believable characters. Their romance is spawned by close proximity, danger, trust, personal insecurities, support, a crazy attraction, and the breh-hedden, a mate bonding ritual that is considered myth. When these two lovers decide to give into their attraction, watch out, as the heat from their intimate scenes is increased by their unique abilities.  This beautifully woven romance and new worldliness is so well done, it simply makes this book a “Wow.”

If you like to be completely immersed in your romance novels with your mind racing and your heart melting, then you will truly enjoy Ascension. Once you dive into this book, you will be hooked into the series and will hope it never ends.  At least that was my experience. I’m so thrilled that book #2 of this series, Burning Skies, was released yesterday. This is one reader who plans to read every single installment of the Guardians of Ascension!

Alexis

I'm very excited to have this author Caris Roane visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts this Sunday, May 1st. What better way to celebrate May Day!  Stop by on Sunday to say "hi" and ask questions :-)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Guest Author Interview: Claire Ashgrove

Alexis: Hi Claire. Welcome to Happily Ever After Thoughts.  Thank you so much for coming.  I know that many of your books feature horses. Do you have a special affinity for these great beasts?

Claire:   I don’t know that I’d call it special, but yes, horses are near and dear to me.  I’ve been raising sporthorses for several years – Arabians, Oldenburgs and Thoroughbreds – and riding twice as long.  Horses are part and parcel to what I am, and most especially the Arabian breed.

Alexis:  Wow, I guess you do have an affinity for horses.  Speaking of horses,  you have a new romance being released this month. Can you tell us about Waiting For Yes?

Claire:  Waiting For Yes, is a story about courage, trust, and dreams.  It’s set in the very small town of Ransom, Kansas, in the middle of a blizzard.  Gabrielle has invested in her dream horse, the stallion that will found her breeding program, but the sellers never disclosed Bahadur Mamoon isn’t quite… right.  Through the help of Jake, an over-the-road driver who becomes snowed in with her, they’re both confronted with not only Mamoon’s difficulties but their dreams – Gabrielle’s quest for success and Jake’s quest to forget his past.  Passion ups the ante, forcing them to either break or bend.

Alexis: Sounds intriguing. Where did you get the idea for this story?

Claire: Hm.  Tough question.  Mamoon is a Straight Egyptian Arabian stallion, and that part was relatively easy as I wanted to write about my own Straight Egyptian stallion’s heritage.  I’d have to say this is one of those books that just came together – a piece here, a part there – all driven from the questions, “What would happen if…” The core of it is founded on my own experiences in the world of showing and breeding.

Alexis: And what about the heroine and hero? What are your favorite character traits of Gabrielle and Jake?

Claire:  Jake is vulnerable in ways that tear at my heart.  Although he’s strong and determined, (and he’s super hot!), his fears are really what make him human to me.  Gabrielle – well she just won’t give up when the odds are against her.  She doesn’t know how to quit.  Even when everything says she should.

Alexis: That’s a combination for romance. What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

Claire:  Just a tiny bit actually.  I have a friend who drives for a living and I needed a little help with how big rigs worked and layering the technical aspects that led to Jake’s being forced into staying with Gabrielle.  The rest of it was pretty much from my own experiences as a horsewoman and one who’s dealt with the nightmare of a massive snowstorm with livestock.

Alexis:  That does sound like a nightmare! Now, this is not your first romance novel. Can you tell us a little about your other Romances?

Claire: I sure can!  I have five steamy (and I do mean steamy) contemporary novels available presently:

            Seduction’s Stakes – a super hot competition between two elite racehorses owner who both have their sights set on the Triple Crown… as well as each other.

            All I Want For Christmas… Is Big Blue Eyes – high school sweethearts are forced back into each others arms when an architect returns home for Christmas and can’t let go of the blue-eyed woman he left behind.

            Timeless Valentine – a companion novel to All I Want For Christmas, where childhood enemies discover Valentine’s Day can be full of delightful surprises.

            A Christmas To Believe In – the third in a trilogy co-written by authors Dyann Love Barr and Alicia Dean about three bothers returning home for Christmas.  This is another horse novel, involving a Thoroughbred breeder who returns to Kansas City to discover his tom-boy “sister” has become all woman.

Alexis: Wow, I guess you do have other books we can start reading. Do you have any other romance novels in the works that we can look forward to?

Claire:  I’m so glad you asked!!  Yes, I have two series launching in 2012.  The first is a hot paranormal series about the Immortal Knights Templar, coming out through Tor.  The second is an erotic romantic suspense series coming through Berkley – I can’t say more about that at this time, but details will be posted in my newsletter when I can.  (If you want to sign up, there’s a link on my website:  www.claireashgrove.com)

In addition to those I anticipate two Contemporary novellas through The Wild Rose Press and, all things going as planned, two paranormal shorts through The Wild Rose Press as well.  Watch my website or newsletter for more on those too!

Alexis: You are one busy writer and we all know that writing is lonely, hard, committed work. What would say is your favorite part of being a Romance Novelist?

Claire:  Telling the stories in my head.  That sounds silly, and very general, but that is my favorite part.  Putting all those people and adventures into words and sharing them. 

Alexis: Thank you so much for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts. We like talking about romance novels here and learning about the wonderful authors who write them J

Claire:  Thank you so much for having me!  It was wonderful listening to you speak at the NOLA Stars conference, and chatting with you both here and there.  I hope I can come back to your little home on the net in the future! 

Alexis: Readers who would like a chance to win a signed copy of Waiting For Yes, be sure to leave a comment. We will pick the winner Wednesday morning!

And check out this great excerpt from Waiting For Yes


In slow motion, he leaned forward.

One thick palm framed the side of her face. His eyes searched hers, emotion flickering behind their sky blue depths. Sorrow, regret, and affection stared back at her as his thumb caressed her cheek. “Be safe, Gabrielle,” he whispered.

She closed her eyes against a storm of sorrow. Instinct filtered through her hope, and in the half-second of time that passed before his other hand came up to join the first, she knew. This wasn’t a temporary goodbye. Jake intended on driving away forever. A sob bubbled in the back of her throat, threatening to strangle her.

Before it tore free, Jake’s mouth settled against hers. He nudged her lips apart, inviting himself inside. Softly, slowly, he explored. Roused her awareness until the reality of his departure gave way to striking tenderness. She responded to the familiar feeling he awakened, her body tightening with an anxious surge of energy.

He held her in place, seemingly content to kiss her until time stood still. In the quiet, she caught the hard fall of his breath. Beneath her fingertips, his heart hammered fierce. His mouth took on a more demanding quality as he slid one hand into her hair and curled his fingers against her scalp.

A sound of pleasure vibrated in his throat, and Jake drew the kiss to a lingering close. He touched his forehead to hers, then sucked in a deep breath. “Win for me, sugar.”

Before she could gather her senses and respond, the passenger’s door slammed shut. Panic flooded her. He couldn’t walk away. That kiss alone said things she’d longed to hear. He cared for her. She loved him. He couldn’t just turn his back on all that.

Jamming her hand against the handle, she shoved open the door and jumped out. “Jake!”

Alexis: Be sure to leave a comment if you would like a chance to win this book :-)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Review: Get A Clue by Jill Shalvis

Jill Shalvis brings her readers into the honeymoon suite complete with the mounds of snow in the Sierras and a log cabin resort.  That’s where the normalcy of this honeymoon ends.

Almost wed Breanne, I say that because she was left at the altar, is determined to take advantage of the mountain resort reserved for the honeymoon because she deserves it; even if she didn’t get married.

When she barely arrives in a blizzard, she’s not sure the worst has happened yet.  She finds Cooper, a very hot and burned-out cop, in her room.  The last thing she wants is another man to deal with.  Let alone that the electricity is out and she’s terrified of the dark.  Sounds like a preposterous fear to wreck a vacation, but there’s more.  A dead body and the whole resort staff and guests are suspects.

This is a fun story to spend your time with.  The characters were endearing, full of personality, and full of kooky conflicts.  At the beginning, I had also wondered how Breanne could possibly have a happily ever after considering her current love life.  Maybe it’s her slightly na├»ve and blundering moments that finally work for her. 

Take a peek and I’m sure you’ll be cheering for Breanne and Cooper.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What to Read Next

I have a problem.

If you’ve read my posts on Happily Ever After Thoughts, you all know that my TBR pile (To Be Read) has overrun my house.

I’m one of those kinds of people that usually has several books going at once – I can put one down, pick up another, and another, then go back to the first book without missing a beat – read a paragraph and I’m right back in the story where I left off. However, I have finished all the books I had in various stages of being read, so here’s my conundrum. I don’t know what to read next!

What am I in the mood for? A historical romance? Horror? Fantasy? Mystery? Something light and fun that will make me giggle in the most inappropriate places and give my poor brain a rest? Something deep and dark that makes me think? Or something that will scare the living daylights out of me and make me not want to close my eyes?

So what are you reading at the moment? Care to suggest a book or two or three?
Happy Reading!

Marie

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Husband Support

Today, I’m departing from my usual observations as a reader and writing to you as an author because of an incident that made me think. I had lunch with a writer friend – we talked about our current works in progress, ideas for new novels, problems with story arcs – you know, the usual - when she lamented over the fact that her husband has never read anything she’s ever written.

My first thought was “Oh, you poor thing!” My second? Well hell, girl, neither has mine. I doubt he ever will (except for a few lines over my shoulder when I’m working).

My husband is not a reader. Never has been. The only book he’s ever read (aside from technical manuals and sports periodicals) was the biography of Willie Mosconi, one of the greatest pool players to ever play the game.

Does that mean he doesn’t support the choice I’ve made to write?

No, it does not. It simply means he doesn’t read for pleasure, doesn’t “get” what I find so wonderful about books. He supports my desire to write and encourages me to do so. He bought me my first electric typewriter. He hurts with me when I receive a rejection and feeds me chocolate until I feel better. Does he do the dishes, the laundry or the grocery shopping so I have more time to write? No. No. And no, but he never quibbles when I spend time with my writer friends or spend more time with my characters than him or when I get lost in my research (he’s even helped me with my research but that’s another topic) or when I go to conferences.

He has never, not once, told me my writing was a waste of time. He’s proud of my accomplishments, tells anyone who will listen that his wife is an author and hands out my business card. He’s even sold a book or two for me.

And that, to me, is more important than him reading my work.

Happy Reading and Writing
Marie

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Place in the World - Guest Post by Kay Springsteen

Giveaway below

Have you ever felt out of place? Most people have at one time or another. An awkward social situation, a feeling of just not belonging. Can you imagine feeling that way about your entire life? What if everything you ever worked for was suddenly ripped away? What if you suddenly could no longer be who you were born to be? What if the pages of your life were no longer already written but were suddenly blank and you had no way to fill them?

Dan Conway, the hero in Heartsight, was born into a family of Marines. His entire life was geared toward serving in the USMC. But a tragic incident in Afghanistan robs him of his sight. There isn't much call for a wounded warrior, let alone one who can no longer see. This story is 100% fiction, but, like most stories, it imitates real life. War injuries happen, and they always change the lives of those suffering them as well as their families.

I can think of no more painful outcome to serving our country than for those who were wounded to be forgotten. What must it feel like to know others consider you unfit for work? What is it like to go from being a fierce protector of all America holds dear, to being someone who is at best the object of pity, and at worst someone who has become a burden? It would be easy to fall into the trap that because they may be missing limbs, or not have the ability to walk, or because they cannot see, or carry out business in the way non-injured people do, they have no productive place in the world.

But all persons have value and worth. Everyone has something to contribute to the world. Sometimes it just takes a little push—from inside, from circumstances, even from God—to find our purpose. Heartsight is the story of a Marine who had been blinded and was struggling to find meaning in his life. When a young mother and her mentally challenged daughter arrive in his sanctuary, a friendship is forged, and when circumstances look their gravest, it is the blind hero who shows he really is still a hero.

One's life doesn't have to be as extreme as Dan's to relate to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness when life pitches a curve ball. Help is available for people in all circumstances, not just those in Heartsight, or those related to military service. The important thing is to reach out to others when a person is in need.

If you’re a vet or you know a vet who needs a hand, please reach out. The help is there. If you can offer a hand, please show our vets that you care.

http://www.bnwest.woundedwarriorregiment.org/

http://www.militaryonesource.com/MOS/MarineCorps.aspx?MRole=Family&Branch=MarineCorps&Component=Active

http://www.uso.org/

Each purchase of Heartsight through the Astraea Press website from now until June 1, 2011 will generate a $2 donation to the USO Wounded Warrior Program. Thank you for taking the time to care about our men and women in the military service.
http://www.astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=662249&mode=product&product=2626233

Excerpt of from Heartsight

Using the sound of the surf and the sun's warmth for orientation, Dan sat on a large rock facing east and enjoyed the sunrise. The kiss of waves on sandy shoreline became louder, more insistent, as the gentle predawn breeze turned into an early morning wind. The air around him warmed rapidly, and the beach life started to awaken as well.
 
The cries of gulls in the distance held an eerie, human-like quality, which could as easily have been the delighted squeals of children playing or the terror-filled shrieks of children dying.

Dan breathed slowly in then out, and re-oriented himself to his surroundings. The sand beneath his feet was the foot-sucking grain-like consistency found on the beach, not the diamond-hard dust he'd grown used to in the desert. The air surrounding him was humid, not arid.

Beach grasses whispered, stroked by the onshore ocean breeze. Nearby, scuttling ghost crabs bulldozed the sand, each tumbling grain sounding like a rockslide to Dan's sensitive ears. The air smelled a bit of midsummer rain, hinting of possible relief from the early summer swelter by mid-afternoon.

His hand rested on the old guitar, unmoving, the instrument silent, as he considered a future in the dark. He had few options and limited time to make a decision that would affect the rest of his life. Did he try to maintain a semblance of the life he'd once planned for himself? Or leave all that and carve a new niche elsewhere?

Who was he kidding? No one wanted a wounded warrior, let alone one who could no longer see.

He caressed the low E string with his thumb, frowning at the dull, not-quite-in-tune sound. Automatically, he adjusted the string until he was pleased with the pitch, repeating the process for the rest of the strings.

Leaning over her, Dan hugged the guitar to him in the manner a man should embrace such a lady. She'd been his best friend since he was a kid, had never failed to bring him comfort and healing through the secret language they shared.

Dan played a few soft chords, walking his fingers up and down the fretboard, not playing anything specific, the tones coming more easily than he'd expected them to. He stopped to adjust the G string, then played a few more chords, falling into a slow rhythm, one good for thinking.

Without conscious thought, he inserted a simple, impromptu melody, making love to his lady in earnest now, expressing the deepest, most vulnerable aspects of himself through the movements of his fingers. The lonely sound drifted across the beach to join the cries of the gulls, as he laid bare the layers of pain for the audience of his solitude.

As he lost himself in the haunting music, Dan felt the first stirring of a curious sense of freedom. Recent memories were pushed to the rear in lieu of less troublesome ones from his boyhood, when scuttling crabs had held him enthralled, and thoughts of where driftwood came from had fascinated him. The music swelled under his hands as he revisited that time of innocence.

At his feet, Jack stirred and whined. Dan stopped playing, abruptly pulled back into the present. Barely a second later, he heard something shuffling through the beach grass behind him and the scents of caramel and cotton candy wafted into his awareness.

His private beach had been discovered.

The air next to him stirred softly as whoever it was took a seat on his rock. Dan was about to ask if the intruder had noticed the private property sign at the entrance to the beach, when sticky fingers were thrust against his palm. Startled by the sudden invasive touch, Dan nonetheless instinctively closed his fingers about the delicate hand that had placed itself into his.

"Well, hello." Dan listened for the sound of someone else approaching but heard nothing. "Is your mom or dad around?"

The only answer he received was a tiny contented sigh. He could feel the rhythmic movement of the child's feet swinging over the edge of the rock on which they sat.

For a chance to win a copy of Heartsight leave a comment for Kay. Winner will be drawn Wednesday morning :-)
 
To visit Kay, go to http://kayspringsteen.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review: Heart of Lies by M.L. Malcolm

How unfortunate to find the love of your life when you have to run to save your own.

Leo attempted to live outside the political pressures of WWI in Hungary. His Jewish faith, communist adoptive parents, and even his talent with languages worked against him. Offered an opportunity to serve as a multi-language interpreter for a business meeting, Leo assumed he made the right decision to accept.

Waiting for the meeting, he met Martha and left his heart in her lap.

He wasn’t informed of the national security and counterfeiting of the meeting. Murder or be murdered. He chose the first and then defected to Shanghai, the only country that accepted new residents with little concern for their past. Yet he left Martha with a promise.

Years later Leo made his fortune in the Asian city and sent for his love. She traveled to his side and they lived with love, money, and everything they wanted.

The beginning of WWII with Japan’s invasion brought on the Great Depression and Leo lost his fortune. Love was most important, yet he had to begin again.

A great read to experience the strength of love and to follow a man of great talent through the myriad of lives he was forced to live, some favorable and some not. Grab some tissues because tears are inevitable.

Dawn

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Guest Author: Lisa Greer

I'm so happy to be a guest on the blog today. Thank you!

My debut gothic romance novel, Magnolian, is on sale today in e-book format. It's an exciting day for me.

I wanted to talk a little about setting today because setting plays a huge role in my writing. I've lived in two countries and four states now, and I'm so happy that I have. Moving wasn't always fun, but I've realized that I have a rich base of experience to draw from because of my moving. I can write about Western Pennsylvania and do it with a genuine voice. The same goes for Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and Vancouver, BC, Canada. I like to really know the places I write about. One of my pet peeves is reading a novel that has a sketchy setting. My favorite settings are in the South in small towns.

If you like the South, ghosts, romance that keeps you guessing, and old family estates, I invite you to check Magnolian out. Here's a little more about it:

When her father dies, college dropout Lillian Mullins steels herself for a future of nothing special in Pittsburgh. An invitation to Magnolian holds promise, but nightmares, ghosts, and murder threaten to derail her attempt to get a life.

Lillian heads to the South, leaving Donovan Ross, an angsty potential lover, behind. After she finds her mother's old journal at Magnolian and learns a shocking secret, Lillian resolves to find out what happened nearly forty years ago to her mother's African American lover, Samson Jones. Mysterious accidents and threats make her wonder whom she can trust: her enigmatic distant cousin Willoughby Tate, who is running his father's gubernatorial campaign, her Aunt Lorelei, who warns of a dire future, the ghost who beckons her in the night, or her father's voice in the recurring dream that will not let Lillian rest.

I've enjoyed being here! Since today is release day for my novel, I'm giving away a copy of Magnolian. Just tell me what type of setting you like in the comments, and I'll use the Random Number Generator to pick a winner by March 9th at 12pm.
Facebook: Lisa Greer

http://www.lisalgreer.com/

gothicked.blogspot.com (gothic novels review blog with contests and give aways)

To read an excerpt from Magnolian or buy the novel, visit: www.bookstrand.com/magnolian