Friday, April 27, 2018

Review & Giveaway: "First Crush, Last Love" by Elizabeth McKenna



On Tour with Prism Book Tours



First Crush, Last Love

by Elizabeth McKenna

Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 314 pages
August 1st 2017




Back in high school, Lee Archer made Jessie Baxter’s cheeks flush and her heart race. But the popular athlete never wanted to be more than just friends. Ten years later, after a failed marriage and with her journalism career on shaky ground, Jessie’s come home for her high school reunion—and Lee still has the power to make her knees weak and her pulse pound.


Lee’s teenage years were filled with more trauma and drama than anyone guessed. Though his damaged past has helped make him a successful police detective, it’s hurt every relationship he’s tried. But seeing the grown-up, stunning Jessie might just change his commitment-phobic mind.


Jessie’s psycho ex-husband had her convinced no one would ever love her, but Lee is ready to step out of the friend zone and into her heart. Can she learn to trust again before she loses her chance to turn her first crush into her last love?


Elizabeth McKenna’s novel will have you remembering the angst of high school, the grief of a failed relationship, and the joy of finding true love at last.






My Review

5 of 5 Stars

Everyone remembers their first crush and the agony of loving someone who can't seem to love you back. But what happens when you don't get your happily ever after? Do you dare hope for a second chance? This is what Elizabeth McKenna explores in First Crush, Last Love


Jessie and Lee are best friends in high school, tangled and thwarted in love. It's the early 80's and initially we're drawn deep into the nostalgia worthy and more tangible than a John Hughes film. Jessie and Lee are a product of misplaced chances and the foolish mistakes of youth. Most stories would tie things up quickly, give us an easy resolution where true love conquers all. But here is where Mckenna dares to take us farther, lifting the literary curtain a bit. 


Jessie finds herself in an abusive relationship while Lee can't seem to move on from his destructive past. Without giving too much away, this separation between them is truly the heart of this story. Because if we didn't see their individual journeys it wouldn't mean as much as the moment they are brought back together. 


A gripping, emotional tale more powerful because it based on a true story, First Crush, Last Love gives us the happy ending we all wish for. 






About the Author



Though Elizabeth McKenna’s love of books reaches back to her childhood, she had never read a romance novel until her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene). With the urging of her children, she decided to write her own Happily Ever Afters.


Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn’t writing, working, or being a mom, she’s sleeping.




Tour Schedule



Tour Giveaway



- 1 winner will receive a $15 Amazon gift card and ebook of Venice in the Moonlight- Open internationally
- Ends April 25th



Saturday, April 21, 2018

Grand Finale: "Bachelor Remedy" by Carol Ross

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Book Tour Grand Finale for
Bachelor Remedy
By Carol Ross

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops
you can see snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below:


Launch - Note from the Author


Welcome, welcome! I’m so excited to once again be on tour with Prism Book Tours. Bachelor Remedy is the fifth book in my Seasons of Alaska series. The hero, Tag James, has made a guest appearance in every previous book. In addition to his reluctant status in Rankins as the town’s Most Eligible Bachelor, he also has the distinction of being my Character Most Requested to Get His Own Story. Tag is everyone’s favorite – in his world and mine! When I set out to find a heroine to win his heart I knew she’d have to be really special - and a little unexpected. I think Ally is his perfect match, even if they do get off to a rather, er, muddy start. I hope you enjoy Tag and Ally’s story!

Ally my best,
Carol




“What I’m saying is that I can’t let you win.”

Sliding her gaze toward the hand still on her shoulder, she said, “Thanks for the warning. Better be careful, though. All this looking out for me and I’ll wonder about your intentions.”

He went hands up, palms out, eyes wide, like she’d just caught him robbing a bank. “No, no. I don’t… I’m not thinking about you…like that. I promise.”

An invisible pain hit her in the chest, so sudden and powerful that she brought a hand up and placed it there. She glanced away, forcing a smile that felt brittle enough to crack her face. How could she have been so stupid? He could have any woman he wanted. Why in the world would he consider…whatever it was she’d been thinking?




"You do have to pay attention to what you are reading. If you are a reader that skims as they read you may miss some great details of this book. Tag and Ally both are familiar with the medical field but Ally likes to stay true to her roots as well. They mesh so well together. This is an excellent read."




5) What inspired this book?

In a general sense, the main character, Tag James, was overdue for an HEA. He’s made an appearance in every previous Seasons of Alaska book. Readers seem to love him almost as much as I do, and I’ve received the most requests for him to get his own story. So there’s that.

When it came to setting him up with the right woman, I knew I needed a strong conflict. Ideally, one that had them at odds externally and internally, so that he couldn’t easily brush her off. Tag is a pilot who owns an air transport company that does emergency medical evacuations. Since health and alternative medicine is sort of a hobby of mine, it seemed like a good place for them to butt heads. I think it worked out beautifully and I hope readers do, too!



Remembrancy - Review

"The combination of combustive chemistry, tormented tension, an ex-girlfriend set on getting her man back, and an abundance of opinionated family members make this book a great read."




He went with “Yes, I am. That’s exactly what I’m going to say. Except it’s I… I shouldn’t have—”

She interrupted, “You mean I shouldn’t have? I kissed you.”

“No, I mean, I know you did. But I shouldn’t have let you.”

“Let me? You seemed to enjoy it. In fact, you kinda took over there at the end. Which is no surprise. You’re used to being in control, huh? To having things go your way?”

“No! I mean, yes, of course, I enjoyed…kissing you. Obviously. But we shouldn’t have. And we’re not going to do it again. I should have, I mean I shouldn’t have…and, yes, I like being in control of…certain things. But what does that have to do with this? I don’t even know what I’m saying…” Words lost, thoughts jumbled, he scraped a restless hand along the bench beside him.



Becky on Books - Interview

What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?

I’m currently working on Book 6 in my Seasons of Alaska series. This is Iris and Flynn’s story. And all I’m going to say about it is that Flynn is not having an easy time taking their relationship out the friend zone!

My next book comes out in August and I could not be more excited about it! The Rancher’s Twins is the first in a five-book, multi-author continuity series called Return of the Blackwell Brothers.

Here’s my pitch: When their grandfather goes AWOL five hot rancher brothers are called home to help on the family ranch. They’re bucking family issues, wrangling their personal demons and getting all tangled up in love! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist – it’s my first rancher book.)

It’s been such an incredible experience to work on this project with my four best author friends – Cari Lynn Webb, Melinda Curtis, Amy Vastine, and Anna J. Stewart. The books will be released one per month, August through December.



E-Romance News - Excerpt

She froze.

So did he. Then he sighed because what he wanted to do was pull her close and wrap his arms around her.

“Look, Ally, I’m the one who is let down. I like you, obviously. I’ve already told you that. And I’m beyond flattered that you would even entertain the thought of being interested in me.”

She stepped toward him, right into his comfort zone, and his pulse took off like a helicopter rotor at full speed.

“How could any woman not be interested in you?” Her voice was all soft, like she was about to tell him a secret, and his blood went hot as he remembered what happened last time she’d gotten this close...




"Bachelor Remedy is a sweet romance, as one would expect from the Heartwarming line, but there’s an unexpected complexity and depth in this story that I loved. Carol Ross is an excellent writer and her words flow smoothly across the page with wisdom and emotion. Family members from previous books in this series are involved, but this story easily stands alone.

...Bachelor Remedy is a wonderfully entertaining read. Highly recommended."




"This was a delightful tale of adventure, intrigue and romance....

This is a fast-paced tale of the rescue services we often take for granted, set within the majestic land of Alaska.

The story was very well-written, captivating the reader's interest most of the time." - LAWonder10

"Such a good story. I really like the relationships with Tag and his family and extended family.
The characters are well-developed and easy to feel their emotions. They all have distinctive personalities. I found myself really liking all of them...

I would highly recommend this book to other readers." - Vickie



I Am A Reader - Excerpt

“James. Tag James,” he supplied.

“Tag, huh?” Reaching out, Rita gave his shoulder a playful nudge. “You’re it.”

Wait… What? Was this woman hitting on him while Ally was sitting right here?

Rita thrust her ID in Ally’s general direction with a flat “Thanks, hon.” Eager blue eyes remained fastened on Tag. “Is this little cutie your daughter?”

Ally slid a hand across the table, threaded her fingers through Tag’s and pitched her voice to sweet. “Wife, actually. Thank you, Rita, for your meticulous and painstaking commitment to the law. You’re a credit to your profession.”

“Oh…” Rita drawled, her pale cheeks turning nearly as pink as her lip gloss. “Um…you’re welcome. Are you guys ready to order?”




Ally and Tag make a really great couple but he is just not sure of the age difference. Love how he flies patients to other hospitals or from the site they got injured... I enjoyed all the characters of the book but I believe Ally was my favorite."




She realized she was staring when he asked, “Is something wrong? Am I too early? I know I’m not late.”

“Um, no. I was just admiring your...you, to be honest. Your eyes change colors, sometimes green, sometimes brown. You’re so...”

Right before her, his eyes darkened, and he made a sound, part chuckle, part incomprehensible mutter while grasping the back of his neck in that way he did when he was uncomfortable. He took a step toward her. Her heart jumped toward him. She wondered if he was going to kiss her. That would be a nice change, since she’d been the one making all the moves up to this point. Which was funny, now that she thought about it, because she’d never kissed anyone first. Ever.

Until him.



Harlie's Books - Excerpt & Review

“Noted,” she replied calmly. “My turn.”

“What?”

Ally almost laughed at his look of utter confusion. “You said we were establishing ground rules. You gave me yours. If this works the way I think it does, then it’s my turn to outline my rules?”

Narrowing his gaze, he studied her like he was puzzling out this detail. His eyes burned into hers, and she couldn’t tell if they were green or brown. Inexplicably, the back of her neck began to tingle.

"Ms. Ross writes a true winner in the line and of course, I’m one of their biggest cheerleaders. They are heartwarming, funny, relevant with romance abound. Ms. Ross delivers a winner!"




Ally felt the back of her neck prickle. Her gaze swept across the sea of people and quickly latched onto Tag’s. His knowing grin paired with a quirk of one brow suggested he’d been waiting for her to catch sight of him. A furnace blast of heat radiated from her core all the way out through her skin. She returned the smile, and the next thing she knew they were moving toward each other.

“Hey,” he said, stopping in front of her. “Nice of you to come today.”



Among the Reads - Review

"I think my favorite part of the story was the basketball game at Tag’s family gathering. It had some great laugh out loud moments in it.

Bachelor Remedy is a great book to pick up for a nice romantic read."




"I enjoyed the fact that this book had a character of Native American descent. . . . I did enjoy Carol's writing style and look forward to reading other books by her."



Heidi Reads... - Excerpt

“Are you...serious with this?” Slipping an arm behind him to grip the back of the bench, she inched toward him, studying his reaction. “Do you really not...?”

She scooted closer. Desire and terror looked to be at war on his face. He stared at her lips and leaned away from her at the same time. She would have laughed if it wasn’t so exasperating.

“Not what?” The question sounded strained. He swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat.

Ally planned every beat of her next move because she wanted to catch him off guard, wanted to see the heat flare in his eyes, wanted to elicit a reaction without giving him time to think.




"Bachelor Remedy was a fun read, that kept me up late trying to finish.

I loved the setting and think the cover perfectly captures this book...

If you enjoy clean contemporary romance novels, I think you'd like reading Bachelor Remedy."




"Bachelor Remedy by Carol Ross has a vivid setting, engaging characters, and an electric chemistry between the protagonists. The small town feel adds to its charm, and lots of twists and turns keep reader interest high. While Tag and Ally may appear to be opposites in many ways, they actually have a lot in common where it really matters. There is still plenty to be said for the whole ‘opposites attract’ theory, however, and their witty banter and sizzling romantic tension prove why. A sweet story with just enough spice to be swoony!"




“Did you or did you not see a woman who you interpreted as too young for this job and then decided that you’d teach her a thing or two? You, with your wisdom honed from years of experience, would come to the aid of an inexperienced, newbie female colleague?”

“No!” That he was not doing. “Nope. No way. Don’t even try that on me.”

“Don’t try what on you?”

“There’s no misogyny or ageism or sexism or racism or any other ‘ism’ going on here. I have four sisters and a boatload of female cousins, all of whom are younger than me. Each one is equally as smart and capable as I am, more so in many, many ways. This isn’t about any of that. This is about your workplace attitude, your approach and your lack of respect. After your behavior yesterday, I would have come in here today if you were an eighty-six-year-old man wearing a honey badger suit.”




"I wanted these two characters to be alone, away from their lives, and just fall in love. However they had obstacles in their way. I would love to find out how they are living 10 years down the road. I am giving this book a 5/5."



Don't forget to enter the giveaway below and also check out the special post and exclusive giveaway at Harlequin Junkie on April 25th!




Bachelor Remedy
(Seasons of Alaska #5)
by Carol Ross
Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 pages
April 1st 2018 by Harlequin Superromance

She’s the most unconventional woman he’ll ever meet…

and the cure for a perennial bachelor?

Raised by her healer grandfather, former army medic Ally Mowak knows her alternative approach to traditional medicine puts her at odds with most of her Alaskan town. That includes Tag James, the rugged transport pilot with the sprawling family and political ambitions. Ally couldn’t be more wrong for the aspiring senator. Then why does everything feel so right when they’re together?




Other Books in the Series




About the Author


USA Today bestselling author Carol Ross grew up in small town America right between the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade Mountains, in a place where you can go deep sea fishing in the morning and then hit the ski slopes the same afternoon. The daughter of what is now known as free range parents, she developed a love of the outdoors at a very early age. As a writer, Carol loves to breathe the life she has lived into the characters she creates, grateful for the “research material” that every questionable decision, adrenaline-charged misstep, and near-death experience has provided.




Tour Giveaway


- 1 winner will receive a $50 Amazon e-gift card and a copy of Summer at the Shore (signed copy to US and Canada, ebook to international)
2 winners will receive a $5 Amazon e-gift card and an e-book of Summer at the Shore (open internationally)
- Ends April 25th





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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Review + Giveaway for "Sons of Gods" by Arthur J. Gonzalez


Sons of Gods 


Arthur J. Gonzalez

Publication date: January 25th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Young Adult




Long ago, the wrath of the three God brothers marked the onset of the Great War. The other Gods watched in horror, until they, too, were forced to take sides. Their beloved Mt Olympus collapsed, ruin was brought to all Divine, and the Age of Darkness gripped the world in its clutches. But a group of Gods was wise, and before their impending deaths, they had crafted a pact, committing to one day rebuilding the Territories – the Heavens, Seas, and the Underworld. It would usher in the world they protected and honored out from its darkness. And from it would rise the new Greats: the Sons of Gods.

Cienzo has always had an affliction for metal and fire; never did he anticipate it would one day translate to wielding dormant powers. It is during a journey to fulfill a promise to his dying sister, that he is plunged into a dark and magical world, and where great responsibility is bestowed upon him.

Is he worthy of assuming the throne of the Territories? Can shattering steel and splitting fire change his mind?





My Review

5 of 5 Stars


In a world and time apart, Cienzo is a young man desperate to save his little sister. He is just about willing to do whatever is necessary to heal her, no matter the cost. Little does he know he's about to dive headfirst into the myths that surround his life and maybe lead him to answers that are the key to his past.


From the premise of infamous Greek gods battling over something so simple as familial love, I was hooked. In this mythological re-imagining, the gods lose their war as lines and alliances blur, until there are none left. Or so the world believes. The author made a brilliant move altering the legends we know, allowing for a brand new canvas to paint something refreshingly new. The greatest strength of this novel, for me, lies in Cienzo's devotion to his sister. While I loved the other characters, Cienzo continued to keep me invested. 


I love Greek mythology, no small part due to the Hercules and Xena television shows I gobbled up as a child in the 90's. While this genre has had some resurgence thanks to Clash of the Titans and Percy Jackson in the last decade, it's rare to find such well-written and compelling re-telling's today. Heartfelt and imaginative, with characters that leap off the page, Sons of Gods finally gives us the mythological fantasy we didn't know we'd been looking for. 




Author Bio


Arthur J. Gonzalez is a Young Adult author of the Photo Traveler series. Originally born in Miami, FL, you can now find him living on the West side in Los Angeles. If he’s not drinking coffee or playing with his adorable Schnoodle, Sookie, then he’s probably enjoying a nap. Also, he forgets the lyrics to nearly every song.


Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter




GIVEAWAY!




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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Book Review: The Unsound Theory by Emilia Zeeland


The Unsound Theory


by Emilia Zeeland


My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Unsound Theory takes place in the distant future, but its themes and characters feel accessible to us today. Yalena's mysterious origins leave her with an innate thirst for knowledge. So when she's given her invitation to the STAR Academy, she chooses to accept. Soon she's swept in a sea of spacey intrigue and unexpected relationships, while seeking the family that left her behind.


At first, I had a hard time catching up with Yalena's whirlwind induction in STAR Academy. Soon as her friendship with Chris begins and the truth behind her invitation is revealed, I was hooked. I've read several "space academy" stories before, but the world building Zeeland gives us is expertly layered and truly unique. Earth is given a believable past (our future) in which humans' misuse of natural resources causes unimaginable cataclysms. Desperate to preserve the species, humans migrate to colonies in our solar system and eventually, re-stabilize Earth. Advanced technology is presented with cleverly wove scientific theory. While I'm as much a fan of space opera as the next Star Wars fan, I appreciated the technicalities Zeeland gave us. It made Yalena's future world all more believable and immersive.


This novels greatest strength, however, lies with its characters. Classmates who begin as typical YA poster tropes soon unveiled their deeper true colors. Every time I thought I had a character's motivations pegged down (with a couple of obvious exceptions) they surprised me. What I loved most about this novel was how the author showed duality, the face we show the world verses the person we're afraid to reveal. The handsome cocky guy is ugly beneath the surface while the beefy quite type has emotional depth. Yalena soon learns not to judge anyone by their skins or pedigree. Whether Martian, Mooney or Earthling, all her classmates band together in face of a greater threat of the unknown.


Filled with plenty of action, adventure and unexpected twists, The Unsound Theory will make you long to explore the stars.




About the Author


Emilia Zeeland is a Young Adult sci-fi writer and author of The STAR Academy Series. Even though she holds an international business degree and two Masters, Zeeland’s heart is full of love for speculative fiction.


Her own stories include coming-of-age tales, detailed worlds, unimaginable consequences, deep friendships, and romances that sneak up on you. She’s not afraid to push her characters to their limits and give them a depth that firmly plants them in readers’ hearts. In Zeeland’s writing, readers will be transported to another world, where they are not alone, but part of a tightly-knit, perfectly imperfect family.


Behind the Emilia Zeeland pseudonym, Em (as her friends call her) speaks six languages, loves to try on—and, sadly, also buy—dresses, and is a bit of a foodie.

Keep in touch and sign up for news at www.emiliazeeland.com





Friday, April 13, 2018

Guest Post & Tour Giveaway for "The Soldier's Homecoming" by Patricia Potter


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

The Soldier's Homecoming

(Home to Covenant Falls #5)

by Patricia Potter

Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 pages
April 1st 2018 by Harlequin Superromance



He’s looking for roots. She won’t be tied down.


Army ranger Travis Hammond needs to heal physical and emotional wounds. A job in Covenant Falls checking out equine therapy programs for veterans is a start, but it’s only temporary. And he doesn’t need a partner, especially some reporter with the persistence of a terrier and irresistible green eyes. Like Travis, Jenny Talbot’s just passing through town. Unlike Travis, Jenny knows exactly where she’s going next—back to the Middle East, as soon as she recovers from her own war injury. But there’s a bend in the road for both of them.





Guest Post with Patricia Potter


When I started my first Covenants Falls book, I envisioned two books. I had no idea it would grow into a third, then a fourth, and a fifth, "The Soldier's Homecoming," now available in both e-book and large print paperbacks. The fifth and sixth are on the schedule in a special Summer Harlequin western series rather than SuperRomance. I hope you will look for it.


My heart just couldn't let the town and characters go. Apparently readers couldn't either, because they've stayed with the series and I'm ever so grateful. They have grown to know the town and its incoming veterans as well as I do.

I'd didn't start the series with any intent to focus on the healing needs of many in the military today, but one story led to another. Now that the military is a career rather than a two or three year duty, there are new problems.

Soldiers are away for year-long deployments multiple times. Their fellow soldiers become their family and when they leave the service, they no longer have the support of others who know what they experienced. The Covenant Falls series tells some of these stories.

Since Covenant Falls is a western town in which most residents own horses and/or grew up riding, horses took a stronger and stronger role in the stories, particularly the tale of an ex-Navy Seal in which a Pinto named Jacko and the birth of a foal were major in helping him cope with a painful past. It was that power to heal that turned me to making equine therapy programs a driving theme for the remainder of the series. I read several books and combed the internet for available programs.

One book, "Riding Home, The Power of Horses to Heal” really influenced me. "Horses," writes author Tim Hayes, 'help us discover hidden parts of ourselves. They help all of us become better people, better parents, better partners and better friends. Horses can be our greatest teachers because they have no ego, they never lie, they're never wrong and they manifest unparalleled compassion."

I hope you follow the rest of the series as the journey to heal continues.


― Patricia


Other Books in the Series





About the Author



Patricia Potter is the USA Today Bestselling Author of more than fifty books. She has received numerous writing awards, including RT Storyteller of the Year, its Career Achievement Award for Western Historical Romance and its Best Hero of the Year Award. She is a seven-time RITA finalist and three-time Maggie Award winner. She has served as president of Romance Writers of America. The Soldier's Homecoming is her fifteenth book for Harlequin.

Prior to writing fiction, she was a reporter for the Atlanta Journal and president of a public relations firm.




Tour Giveaway



- 1 winner will receive a $25 Amazon eGift Card (open internationally
- 1 winner will receive signed print copies of of THE SOLDIER'S PROMISE, TEMPTED BY THE SOLDIER, A SOLDIER'S JOURNEY, and THE SEAL'S RETURN (US only)
- Ends April 18th



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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Author Interview: Annette Marie "The Shadow Weave" Blog Tour


The Shadow Weave 

(Spell Weaver #2)

by Annette Marie

Publication date: January 12th 2018

Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy



Clio might be a nymph living in exile among humans. And she might possess the rare ability to mimic any magic she sees. And she might have just seriously ticked off the most powerful family of spell weavers in the Underworld.


But she is not in love with an incubus.


Lyre is the rebellious black sheep of said weaver family, and he’s the only reason she survived her recent Underworld “vacation.” He’s also the sexiest thing she’s ever seen. Together, they have to track down a catastrophically dangerous magic—a magic he created, she sort of stole, and they both lost—before his family gets their hands on it. And that means fighting alongside him in a desperate attempt to avert complete disaster.


But she is definitely not in love with him. At least, she’s pretty sure she’s not.


Mostly sure. Maybe sure? …Crap.







Interview with Annette Marie


SS: Hi Annette, thanks so much for sharing The Shadow Weave with us. Shadow Weave is second in your Spell Weaver series. Could you tell us a little about the inspiration behind your series?

AM: The Spell Weaver trilogy was directly inspired by my Steel & Stone series, which features the mysterious, sexy incubus Lyre as a secondary character. He sparked my imagination right from the get-go, and readers love him too. The Spell Weaver trilogy is his origin tale-- a standalone adventure that begins with the event that changes everything for him: the day he meets a nymph named Clio. ;)



SS: Shadow Weave features elements of mythology. What drew you to exploring your own take on these classic creatures?

AM: I love mythology and take inspiration from mythos and folklore from around the world. The Spell Weaver trilogy is actually much lighter on the mythology than my Red Winter trilogy, which is deeply immersed in Japanese folklore.



SS: Love how you borrow various mythos from around the world. As an author, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit Animal?

AM: A dragon! All my series have dragons in some form, and I have no intention of breaking that trend.



SS: Dragons are the definition of epic! Speaking of epic, you mention your home in Alberta, Canada. How has your location influenced your writing?

AM: Alberta is bordered by the Rocky Mountains, so when it comes to wild landscapes, I often draw on my experiences in the mountains. I’m also very good at writing about how it feels to freeze your butt off in bone-chilling cold!



SS: That sounds beautiful and inspiring, despite the chill :) What first led you to become a writer and what continues to drive you today?

AM: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a young teen. As a child, I was always daydreaming and inventing stories, and I started writing for fun when I was fourteen. I never get tired of dreaming up new characters and discovering their stories!



SS: Did you know from the beginning this would be a series or did it the story grow organically?

AM: I planned Spell Weaver as a trilogy right from the start.



SS: Are your characters based on people you know, or do they live solely in your imagination?

AM: The characters come from my imagination alone, which I’m sure my family and friends are very happy to know.




SS: Besides your Spell Weaver series, are there any upcoming projects on your
radar you would care to share with us today?

AM: Now that the final Spell Weaver book is finished (The Blood Curse, released March 30), I’ll be talking more about a sequel series set in the same world. Right now, I’m in the planning stages of a new urban fantasy series that’s going to be overflowing with magic-- and starring a super spunky heroine who’s about to get herself in big trouble with a few sexy mages.
(Check out my website for more info! www.annettemarie.ca/guildcodex)



SS: Sounds exciting! We'll definitely be on the lookout for your next series. Thanks again for visiting with us today, Annette and best of luck with the rest of your tour! Keep reading for more about the author, plus a tour-exclusive giveaway below.




Author Bio


Annette Marie is the author of the Amazon best-selling Steel & Stone series, which includes Goodreads Choice Award nominee Yield the Night, and fantasy trilogy Red Winter. Her first love is fantasy, but fast-paced adventures and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She lives in the frozen winter wasteland of Alberta, Canada (okay, it's not quite that bad) with her comparatively sensible husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat— Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.


Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter




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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Review + Giveaway for "Lady Helena Investigates" by Jane Steen



Lady Helena Investigates by Jane Steen


Publication Date: March 14, 2018
Aspidistra Press
eBook; 359 Pages
ASIN: B079SMGC7S
Series: Scott-De Quincy Mysteries, Book One
Genre: Historical Mystery







A reluctant lady sleuth finds she’s investigating her own family. Step into Lady Helena Whitcombe’s world with the first novel in a series that will blend family saga and mystery-driven action with a slow-burn romance in seven unputdownable investigations. 1881, Sussex.


Lady Helena Scott-De Quincy’s marriage to Sir Justin Whitcombe, three years before, gave new purpose to a life almost destroyed by the death of Lady Helena’s first love. After all, shouldn’t the preoccupations of a wife and hostess be sufficient to fulfill any aristocratic female’s dreams? Such a shame their union wasn’t blessed by children . . . but Lady Helena is content with her quiet country life until Sir Justin is found dead in the river overlooked by their grand baroque mansion.


The intrusion of attractive, mysterious French physician Armand Fortier, with his meddling theory of murder, into Lady Helena’s first weeks of mourning is bad enough. But with her initial ineffective efforts at investigation and her attempts to revive her long-abandoned interest in herbalism comes the realization that she may have been mistaken about her own family’s past.


Every family has its secrets—but as this absorbing series will reveal, the Scott-De Quincy family has more than most. Can Lady Helena survive bereavement the second time around? Can she stand up to her six siblings’ assumption of the right to control her new life as a widow? And what role will Fortier—who, as a physician, is a most unsuitable companion for an earl’s daughter—play in her investigations?


Amazon | Barnes and Noble





My Review

5 of 5 Stars


I haven't enjoyed historical fiction this much in years. While I was once a voracious reader and watcher of all things period and historical romance, I've since abandoned it for fantasy and it's many sub-genres. This year I decided to pick up historical titles again, which led me to Historical Fiction Book Tours and Jane Steen's Lady Helena Investigates.


From the beginning, Steen paints the era and imagery of the English countryside in beautiful shades, yet with air of mystery. I found it easy to step into Lady Helena's heeled boots as she suffers through the death of her husband, due to a tragic accident. Her large family attempts to micro-manage her life, as a woman naturally must need help managing such a richly-endowed title. Only now, with the freedom of widowhood, Helena chooses to assert her independent wealth. As she steps into her husband's shoes and begins an active role in her estate, unexplained questions arise surrounding her husband's death. An enlightened and mysterious French doctor aids her investigation, which soon leads them to places she never expected.


Jane Steen is a master storyteller, weaving the heartaches of grief with familial affairs and new relationships in a way which truly transcends time. Lady Helena Investigates challenges conventional period tropes while transporting the reader to a time as complex as ours, yet rife with the nostalgia modern audiences crave. Beautiful language and sensual prose, Jane Steen has gifted us with a modern classic.




Praise for The House of Closed Doors Series


"I cannot praise Jane Steen enough for her ability to build a world that captures every essence of an era. She was able to take the singularly focused plot of an unwed teen and wrap her journey with the social, political and cultural values of the day. Within this framework the reader is given an eyewitness experience into the daily realities of homemaking, transportation, fashion, society's value of women and those less fortunate as well historical events such as commerce, war and the Chicago fire."



"I loved this book. It was well written and well edited. The story captured me on the first few pages and held my interest to the last page. I forced myself to close the book at midnight! Moves nicely along from scene to scene. Some of the heroine's choices were not what I expected and when I thought I had unraveled the whole mystery, I hadn't. Just an overall satisfying reading experience! Loved it."


"Engrossing historical fiction that really stays with the characters (who are well-crafted) and doesn't go for the obvious cliches. I loved Nell, the protagonist, and so many others...Martin and Tess especially. I admit I kind of wanted it to end a certain way, but the ending the author chose was a braver one for Nell, and more true to who she'd been throughout the novel. The historical backdrop was interesting, but it was the character work that really drew me in, and the mystery."


"Extremely well written story! I couldn't put it down, and pulled an all-nighter reading it. I was mesmerized by this story, and captivated by the depth of characterization."





About the Author

Jane Steen was born in England and, despite having spent more years out of the British Isles than in, still has a British accent according to just about every American she meets. Her long and undistinguished career has included a three-year stint as the English version of a Belgian aerospace magazine, an interesting interlude as an editor in a very large law firm, and several hectic years in real estate marketing at the height of the property boom. This tendency to switch directions every few years did nothing for her resume but gave her ample opportunity to sharpen her writing skills and develop an entrepreneurial spirit.

Around the edges of her professional occupations and raising children, she stuck her nose in a book at every available opportunity and at one time seemed on course to become the proverbial eternal student. Common sense prevailed, though, and eventually she had the bright idea of putting her passion for books together with her love of business and writing to become a self-published author. Jane has lived in three countries and is currently to be found in the Chicago suburbs with her long-suffering husband and two adult daughters.


For more information, please visit Jane Steen's website.

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.





Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 12
Feature at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, March 13
Feature at To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, March 14
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Thursday, March 15
Feature at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Friday, March 16
Interview at Let Them Read Books
Feature at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, March 20
Feature at Donna's Book Blog

Wednesday, March 21
Review at Rachael's Ramblings
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Tuesday, March 27
Review at View from the Birdhouse

Wednesday, March 28
Feature at Susan Heim on Writing

Friday, March 30
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

Tuesday, April 3
Review at Based on a True Story

Wednesday, April 4
Review at SilverWood Sketches

Thursday, April 5
Feature at A Bookaholic Swede

Wednesday, April 11
Review at What Cathy Read Next
Feature at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, April 12
Feature at Teaser Addicts Book Blog

Friday, April 13
Tour Wrap Up at Passages to the Past





Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two eBooks of Lady Helena Investigates by Jane Steen! 

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.




Giveaway Rules 

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.  

– Giveaway is open to US residents only.  

– Only one entry per household.  

– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.  

– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.






Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Book Reviews: Entombed in Glass & Rise of the Sea Witch by Stacey Rourke

Entombed in Glass

(Unfortunate Soul Chronicles, #2)

by Stacey Rourke

Publication date: March 29th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult


Mirror, mirror on the wall.
What’s behind that fated call?
He’s the seer of present, future, and past,
Yet remains a nameless face entombed in glass.

Raised as a servant in the underwater kingdom of Atlantica, Alastor worked his way up to a regal member of the Royal Guard. Only as a decorated soldier did he stand a chance of winning the hand of the woman he’s loved since childhood … Poseidon’s only daughter, Princess Vanessa. But, when the war against humans rages, dark magics are evoked to give the mermen a fighting chance. Temporarily granted legs, they charge from the sea into a doomed battle. 

Doing the bidding of his masters as a trusted pawn,
The claims of his loyalty couldn’t be more wrong.  

Waking on land, with bodies all around, Alastor’s lone goal becomes returning to the ocean and the only life he’s ever known. A plan that is quickly diverted when Hades, Lord of the Underworld, appears with a twisted agenda all his own. Cast to a land far from the lapping comforts of home, Alastor’s sole companion is a troubled misfit named Sterling that soon comes to depend on him. Trained to be a hero, how far is Alastor willing to go to return to the woman he loves? And can he live with the sacrifices he’s forced to make? 

Each day he schemes to break free from their thrall,
and honor a self-made vow … to kill them all.




REVIEWS


Rise of the Sea Witch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Rise of the Sea Witch

Rise of the Sea Witch is the cheekier and fabulous alternative to The Little Mermaid.


I've always been a fan of villain origin stories and Stacey Rourke weaves Ursula's tale with the perfect blend of comic tragedy and Disney nostalgia.


I haven't had so much fun reading a book since the Throne of Glass series.





Entombed in Glass 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Entombed in Glass (Unfortunate Soul Chronicles, #2)

Fairy tale retelling with a swashbuckling twist!


I loved Rise of the Sea Witch for its sass and obvious love of classic Disney. While there were hints of a much larger, inter-connected world in the first book, we didn't venture much further beyond under the sea. So I was excited to read Entombed in Glass and discover where Alastor's story would take us.


Alastor, the Sea Witch's childhood best friend and true love, is separated from her at the end of Rise. Rather than recount his perspective of events from the last book, Stacey Rourke begins his story from the point of his separation from Vanessa and carries us from cursed queens to the Never Land. Soon we are drawn into an exciting world of magic and adventure, led by Alastor's innate sense of duty and honor. With each trial he is tested beyond his limits, until he begins to question what he's fighting for anymore.


The Unfortunate Souls Chronicles takes beloved fairy tale characters and gives us the ugly truth behind legends. Answers to questions I had in Rise of the Sea Witch are revealed in this excellent sequel. I loved the inclusion of Hades, as well as a hilarious, albeit sympathetic re-imagined Mad Hatter. Entombed in Glass explores the lands above the sea, with a colorful cast of familiar fairy tale characters. A world worth exploring, I dare you to read Rise of the Sea Witch without craving more Unfortunate Souls.





Author Bio


RONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel 

Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012 

Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013

Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal Winner for Crane 2015 

Stacey Rourke is the author of the award winning YA Gryphon Series, the chillingly suspenseful Legends Saga, and the romantic comedy Reel Romance Series. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head. 



GIVEAWAY!


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