Romancing the Dark Side

Embracing all written creatures of the night...

Lip gloss wearing, coffee drinking, book lover and blogger with a love for alpha males and feisty heroines!

Blog Tour: SHADOWSHAPER by Daniel José Older {Excerpt + Giveaway}



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About the Book


Shadowshaper hi-res Title: SHADOWSHAPER

Author: Daniel José Older

Pub. Date: June 30, 2015

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic)

Pages: 304

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Goodreads  


Cassandra Clare meets Caribbean legend in SHADOWSHAPER, an action-packed urban fantasy from a bold new talent.


Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra's near-comatose abuelo begins to say "No importa" over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep.... Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.


Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order's secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick's supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family's past, present, and future.


Excerpt from Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

Copyright © 2015 by Daniel Jose Older All rights reserved. Published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., Publishers since 1920. SCHOLASTIC, and the LANTERN LOGO are trademarks and /or registered trademarks of Scholastic Inc.

Chapter One

“Sierra? What are you staring at?” “Nothing, Manny.” Blatant lie. Sierra glanced down from the scaffolding to where Manny the Domino King stood with his arms crossed over his chest. “You sure?” he said. “Yeah.” Sierra looked back at the mural. She hadn’t been making it up: a single tear glistened at the corner of Papa Acevedo’s painted eyes. The tear wasn’t moving — of course it wasn’t moving: It was paint! But still: It hadn’t been there yesterday or the day before. And the portrait was fading; it seemed to disappear more and more every hour. This afternoon when she arrived at the Junklot to work on her own mural, it took Sierra a few seconds to find the old man’s face peering out from the brick. But fading murals and crying murals were totally different flavors of weird. She turned back to her own painting, on a much newer concrete façade adjacent to the old brick building from which Papa Acevedo’s face stared out. “Hey, Manny,” Sierra said. “You sure the people who own this building won’t be mad about my mural?” “We’re sure they will be,” Manny chuckled. “That’s why we asked you to do it. We hate the Tower. We spit on the Tower. Your paint is our nasty loogie, hocked upon the stupidity that is the Tower.” “Great.” The Tower had shown up just over a year ago, totally unannounced: a five-story concrete monstrosity on a block otherwise full of brownstones. The developers built the outer structure quickly and then left it, abandoned and unfinished, its unpaned windows staring emptily out into the Brooklyn skies. The Tower’s northern wall sat right on the edge of the Junklot, where mountains of trashed cars waited like crumpled-up scraps of paper. Manny and the other old guys who played dominos in the lot had immediately declared war on it. Sierra dabbed dark green paint along the neck of the dragon she was working on. It reared all the way up to the fifth floor of the Tower, and even though most of its body was just an outline, Sierra could tell it was gonna be fierce. She shaded rows of scales and spines, and smiled at how the creature seemed to come to life a fraction more with each new detail.


To read the rest of chapter one make sure to stop by Pieces of Whimsy on July 7th and Rhi Reading on July 1oth!    



About Daniel José Older



Daniel José Older is the author of the upcoming Young Adult novel Shadowshaper (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015) and the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series, which begins in January 2015 with Half-Resurrection Blues from Penguin’s Roc imprint. Publishers Weekly hailed him as a “rising star of the genre” after the publication of his debut ghost noir collection,Salsa Nocturna. He co-edited the anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History and guest edited the music issue of Crossed Genres. His short stories and essays have appeared in, Salon, BuzzFeed, the New Haven Review, PANK, Apex and Strange Horizons and the anthologies Subversion and Mothership: Tales Of Afrofuturism And Beyond. Daniel’s band Ghost Star gigs regularly around New York and he facilitates workshops on storytelling from an anti-oppressive power analysis. You can find his thoughts on writing, read dispatches from his decade-long career as an NYC paramedic and hear his music at and @djolder on twitter.





3 winners will receive a finished copy of SHADOWSHAPER. US Only.

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Review: Silk (Bloodstone #1) by Chris Karlsen

Silk (The Bloodstone Series Book 1) - Chris Karlsen

Silk by Chris Karlsen 

Series: Bloodstone #1
Genre: Historical, Mystery
Published by: Books to Go Now on December 14, 2014
Format: eARC
Pages: 301
Source: Author

AmazonBarnes & Noble


I’m a fan of novels set in Victorian England so I was instantly drawn to SILK’s story line and setting…who can say no to a murder mystery and the notorious Jack the Ripper?! Definitely not me… It didn’t hurt that the book has a lovely cover (yes I’m a cover hussy). It looks a bit romantic, yet gothic, which is exactly what you get from Chris Karlsen’s writing. But don’t be fooled, while there are some romantic elements weaved into the story, it’s a mystery at heart.


SILK is a gritty and dark murder mystery, not my typical read but quite engaging. The story dives right into the action where we meet Inspector Rudyard Bloodstone and his partner Detective Sergeant Holbrook who are on the hunt for an opportunistic killer in their city just as the looming threat of Jack the Ripper falls on the Whitechapel area. Their investigation soon leads them to a likely suspect, the charming Viscount Everhart, who has some powerful friends and is shrouded in mystery. Bloodstone is determined to find the killer and keep the streets of London safe but he never imagined the obstacles that will stand in his way before the killer can be brought to justice.


What I loved most about SILK is the alternate POVs and how the author allows the reader to get to know both the hero and the villain with an intimacy that’s quite voyeuristic.


The killer pulls us right into his dark world and leaves nothing to the imagination when it comes to his crimes, he almost makes you feel as if you’re an accomplice while reading. I’d never thought I’d say this, but for all of the murderer’s flaws there are some redeeming qualities that make you connect with this character on an emotional level. He’s not just a ruthless serial killer, as you’d like to think. I thought this was brilliant on the author’s part, to humanize the villain is no easy feat but Karlsen nailed it. It would have been simple to mold the villain to resemble Jack the Ripper, but Karlsen gives us a totally different killer with a different purpose.


Inspector Bloodstone’s perspective is just as intriguing as the killer’s. He’s a dedicated detective who’s set in his ways but has great insight when it comes to solving crimes. Granted he’s no Sherlock Holmes, but Bloodstone can definitely hold his own in an investigation. As the reader you’re always one step ahead so I won’t give Inspector Bloodstone too much slack for missing a few clues!


The romance element in SILK is slight to none which didn’t add or take away from the story, in my opinion. I enjoyed the few glimpses of Inspector Bloodstone’s romantic interest the lovely Ms. Porter, but was more interested in solving the case. There were a few times when I felt the story was dragging on a bit and feared I’d lose interest, but the twists reeled me back mid-book. Most books in this genre tend to gloss over the class differences, politics, poverty and crime that was rampant during this time period and I thank Ms. Karlsen for not doing so, it made this story that more thrilling. Although I can’t give anything away (what’s the fun in that?!) I’ll say the unexpected twists have me anxiously awaiting Ms. Karlsen’s next installment in this dark and dangerous world!


*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.




Reading progress update: I've read 36%.

Strange Magic - James Hunter

Yancy Lazarus can give Harry Dresden a run for his money when it comes to getting into supernatural trouble! :)

Reblogged from Ned Hayes Writing:
isn't it ironic?
isn't it ironic?

Words cannot do justice to the pleasures of a good bookshop! #Books #Reading


Give Your Book Friends a Shout - Comment, Discuss, Compare Books

Reblogged from BookLikes:

Give your book friends a shoutWhen one has read a book, I think there is nothing so nice as discussing it with some one else - even though it sometimes produces rather fierce arguments.

 C.S. Lewis


Discussing books and reviews is awesome. Sometimes, however, you wish to stay inside of your friends' circle and now you can. The updated option for comments allow you to choose who can stay inside your circle and comment on your blog. We've also retouched the compare books option - now you can compare books on BookLikes' members blogs and share the news with your friends. 




The new comment options can be found in Settings/Blogs, in response to you requests we've added new comment possibilities. Now you can choose from the following:


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If you wish to compare the books simply click the chart icon in the upper right corner on the blog page and you'll see how many books in common the both of you have.


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When you finish the book, click Finished! on your Dashboard - the finished reading date will be set automatically to today's date. Books with filled up reading dates are added to your reading challenge. 


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Early Mini Review: Junglecat Honeymoon (Manhattan Ten #3.5) by Lola Dodge

Junglecat Honeymoon - Lola Dodge

Junglecat Honeymoon by Lola Dodge 
Series: Manhattan Ten #3.5 
Genre: Paranormal Romance 
Published by: Samhain Publishing on December 2, 2014
Format: eARC
Pages: 39
Source: Author 

Buy the Book: Barnes & Noble 


Ivory and Panther's big day is filled with humor, adventure and plenty of smexiness...everything I expected from the Manhattan Ten!


JUNGLECAT HONEYMOON explores the ongoing romance of Ivory and Panther from second installment in the series, IVORY. After finding each other they've decided to tie the knot and make things official but in true Manhattan Ten form, things don't go smoothly. Soon after the nuptials Ivory is formally introduced to her mother-in-law (aka monster-in-law) who takes advantage the happy bride, drugging and whisking her away to the jungles of South America where she is meant to prove her worthiness to the rest of the panther family. These days Ivory is more a lover than a fighter but when it comes to her man Pan, she's willing to face anyone, even family.


I can't get enough of the Manhattan Ten and really love that Ms. Dodge gives us a look into Ivory and Pan's big day in JUNGLECAT HONEYMOON. I always enjoy the strong women in these books and Ivory is one tough cookie, she stuck to her guns and definitely proved herself worthy. It was great to briefly revisit the rest of the superheroes and meet some new intriguing characters. Pan's sexy brother Quan can definitely give him a run for his money, that's all I have to say!


This short story is filled with the same action, humor and romance of Lola's full length installments and while the pace is fast, it doesn't feel rushed. Even amidst all the chaos and adventure we get a little smexy time for Ivory and Pan (which is always appreciated), I mean what's a honeymoon without some nookie, right?! Fans of the books will surely be delighted by this addition to the series. Thank you Lola for giving us this short but entertaining superhero HEA! <3


<em>This story can be read as a stand-alone, but I highly recommend readers to read them in me you won't want to miss any of these sexy superheroes! ;)</em>




This review was originally published on Romancing the Dark Side


ANGEL KIN (by Tricia Skinner) Deal Blast

Angel Kin Deal


The first installment in Tricia Skinner's ANGEL ASSASSINS series, ANGEL KIN is on sale for one day only! The Kindle eBook has been reduced to $0.99 until 11:59 PM tonight. And, with ANGEL LOVER due out later this fall, now is the perfect time to get caught-up while also taking advantage of BIG savings!

About The Book:


ANGEL KIN delivers a richly developed world around a strong story of one angelís fight with his nature versus a familial bond he thought lost to him millennia ago. (4 stars) All Things Urban Fantasy

I was blown away within the first chapter and sitting on the edge of my seat until the very end. (4.5 stars) Angel's Guilty Pleasures

ANGEL KIN weaves a paranormal world with angel mythology to create one of the most engrossing stories I've read in a while. I was instantly hooked and did not want to put this book down! With Angels, Nephilim and Renegade Angels in a battle, things quickly get exciting. I love a story of good vs. evil and Ms. Skinner delivers that and so much more in this series debut. (5 stars) Romancing the Dark Side


AngelKin300x200Tweet: Angel Kin by @AuthorTrish is the Sept. 21st #KindleDailyDealóonly #99cents from @entangledpub!

While channeling Robin Hood's "steal from the rich and give to the poor" attitude at a local politician's house, ex-con Katie Logan witnesses a forced suicide. Dirty or not, supernatural or not, he didn't deserve to die, especially not by his own hand. But with her record, stepping forward as a witness isn't an option. On the run from the police and the murderer, she turns to The Bound Ones for help.

When a beautiful woman comes to The Bound Ones, half-angel assassin Cain is immediately drawn to her. But when she fingers him as the killer, he can come to only one conclusion. The twin he thought was dead is very much alive–and trying to send him a message. Unfortunately, that message is: "You're next."

It's a race against time as Cain fights to save the woman he's falling in love with before his brother Abel destroys them both.



Also Available From:
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               First, Cain checked the room's double window and the flimsy front door, then threw the motel blanket on the brown carpet. He smoothed his hands across the sheets and lifted the mattress. He let it go and unrolled his blanket, tucking the corners.                "Should be fine now."                Her mind felt miles away. "Will it be? Fine?"                He removed his jacket and pulled one of his guns from the holster. The magazine shot into his hand before he slammed it back. "As soon as I find Abel your life will go back to normal."                Katie huffed a half laugh. Normal sounded like a dream. "I"                Cain paused his movements. "You what?"                "I wish I knew how to help you."                "Well you can't."                She snapped her gaze to his stony face. "Would it hurt to pretend I just showed some compassion for you? You could at least act like you'd considered my words."                "Let's analyze your sweet wish, little burglar. I'm an assassin, which translates to I kill people." The half angel folded his arms and left no doubt about the arrogance on his face. "Sorry if the facts sting, but you can't fight like I can. You can't do what needs to be done."                Infuriating, arrogant, and stubborn was not a good look on him. Katie mimicked his posture and crossed her arms. "Tell me, Mr. Super Assassin, are you sure those legendary fighting skills you claim to have will work when you're face-to-face with Abel??                "You think I'll run from the fight?" A growl slipped through his gritted teeth.                "That's not what I meant. I want to know if you can" she raised her fingers in air quotes "do what needs to be done, when your opponent is your own brother?"                Cain pressed his lips together, and she dove into the void left by his hesitation.                "Family is about love, but it's also about a shitload of pain." Katie expelled a slow breath. "When you face off with your twin, the end result will stay with you."                "Abel's my blood, but he's done wrong. I'll deal."                Katie tossed her hands up. "Say you're standing near Abel and he's got a gun pointed at some poor schmuck's head. What are you going to do? You'd have to decide whether or not your brother is more important, or that innocent life."                He clawed his fingers through his hair. "I'd never allow him to harm a soul in my presence. I will stop my brother, but don't tell me my only option is to kill him."                "I hope it doesn't come to that." Exhausted, she sank onto the edge of the mattress. "I truly do."                "Ridiculous," he muttered under his breath.                She shot up from the bed, ready to tell him exactly where he could shove his tough act, but Cain's hand caught her wrist. They stared into each other's eyes, but the emotions passing over his face cranked her heartbeat.                "Let. Go." She jerked her arm, but his grip held.                "You should thank me for my honesty. An angel, even an impure abomination like me, could kill you before you could react. No more wishing you could help me. I don't want to see you hurt."                "So we're clear, if I wasn't dealing with mind-controlling giants, I could hold my own in a fight," she said. Cain's expression darkened. "Could you? I wonder."                The Nephilim brought her crashing down onto the mattress, and Katie yelped. She thrashed under his heavy weight.                "Overpowered by a body, not mind control," he said as his breath fanned her skin. "Your nonassassin skills are sadly lacking."                He pinned her wrists above her head, leaving her body flush against his. Katie wiggled and tugged, but Cain had the advantage of position and strength. She stopped her frantic movements. Only one option left–surprise.                She molded her lips over his, the pressure so heavy and intense she could only moan breathlessly into his mouth. The warmth of her tongue touched his, drawing her nerves guitar-string tight.                The grip on her wrists loosened, and Katie raised her hands until her fingers slid into the thickness of his hair. She arched her body and his wide palm cupped her back. Distracting Cain to throw him off took a back seat, replaced by instinctual need pounding deep within her belly and ricocheting between her legs.                Cain's tongue continued a slow exploration of her mouth, lapping the depths, erotic as hell. Her trembling fingers brushed the expanse of his shoulders, his firm muscles jolting the tips as they passed over. Filled with untethered boldness, she ran light touches down the ridges of his firm pectorals. When her thumb flicked a pebble-hard nipple, her bodyguard growled.




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About Tricia Skinner


Tricia SkinnerI'm Tricia Skinner and I write Urban Fantasy with Romantic Elements. I'm a former journalist who discovered my inspiration to write fiction as an escape from "real life." My reading tastes are all over the place, but I'm mainly drawn to fantasy (and its sub-genres), paranormal, sci-fi, and history.
When I'm not writing, I'm a newbie "green" practitioner, strength training fan, and a technology geek. I'm a mother and a wife. My family includes two Great Danes. I'm also a gamer. I enjoy interacting with my fellow geeks and helping other writers. I'm represented by Laurie McLean of Foreword Literary. *Photo by Kauwuane Burton. | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Pinterest | Blog

Early Review: My Highland Spy by Victoria Roberts

My Highland Spy - Victoria  Roberts

My Highland Spy by Victoria Roberts

Series: Highland Spies #1

Genre: Historical Romance

Published by: Sourcebooks Casablanca on September 2, 2014

Format: eARC Pages: 320

Source: NetGalley

Purchase: Amazon • Barnes & Noble


*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


My first Victoria Roberts’ historical romance novel, but it definitely won’t be my last…Ruairi and Ravenna had me hooked from the first page to the last!


MY HIGHLAND SPY is a story filled with intrigue, adventure, a sweet romance and my favorite…highlanders! Ravenna Walsingham is not your average English lady, she works with her uncle as an accomplished spy for the Crown and her latest assignment has brought her to the home of Laird Ruairi Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands, a suspected threat to the Crown. Posing as a governess to Laird Sutherland’s son Torquil, Ravenna plans to uncover any conspiracy but soon realizes the only danger lurking is the possibility losing herself to the handsome and charming Highland laird and compromising her assignment.


Everyone that reads my reviews knows my favorite kind of heroine is a strong, independent one with a smart mouth and Ravenna fits this description perfectly. This type of leading lady isn’t so prevalent in historical romance so I knew Ms. Robert’s story would be a real page turner. Ravenna is a smart, kind and determined woman who is extremely protective of her family and loyal to those she cares for, despite being a spy for the King. She has some preconceived prejudices against highlanders so it was great to see her guarded interactions with everyone when she arrives at Ruairi’s home. I really enjoyed her character and love how organically she fit into Ruairi’s world, as if she were always meant to be there. Ravenna held her ground with the smexy alpha and it was a great surprise to see a real heroine in this book, not a damsel in distress, which is common in this genre.


If there’s an alpha hero I can’t resist it’s a highlander and Laird Ruairi Sutherland is as swoon worthy as they come! Territorial alpha males are welcomed but not mandatory in my books and Ruairi is a real fresh breath of air in this story. Like Ravenna, he’s devoted to protecting his family (son) and clan, Ruairi is a great leader who doesn’t mind sacrificing himself for the greater good. His determination to keep his son by his side after his wife’s untimely death and not send him off to the English, tugged at my heart strings. He isn’t the usual brooding male, he has a great sense of humor and his flirty banter with Ravenna are some of the most enjoyable moments in MY HIGHLAND SPY. The romance between Ruairi and Ravenna develops over time, even with their intense chemistry which made it all worthwhile..there was no drama between them. I was relieved to learn that Ravenna is an experienced woman and not a virgin which means these two could heat up the pages without a proposal or marriage, it was great to see two grown adults give into their passion with no expectations. These two are perfectly matched despite their cultural differences and bring out the best in each other. I couldn’t get enough of them!


Another character I must mention in this review is Ruairi’s best friend and right hand man, Fagan. He stole the show from Ruairi a few times with his wit and charm. His friendship with Ruairi is really sweet and I hope that Ms. Robert’s considers him as a possible love match for Ravenna’s younger sister Grace. The small glimpse of the interaction between them left me wanting their story!


MY HIGHLAND SPY was a fantastic introduction to Victoria Robert’s captivating romance and larger than life characters. There’s enough adventure and tension to keep you intrigued, with a steady pace that doesn’t feel too rushed and allows you to really connect with the characters. New and old readers of historical romance are sure to find this a delightful reading experience. I mean, who doesn’t love a sexy Highlander who speaks Gaelic and wears a kilt, right?





{Blog Tour} Review: An American Girl in Italy

An American Girl in Italy: HarperImpulse Contemporary Romance - Aubrie Dionne

An American Girl in Italy by Aubrie Dionne
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published by: HarperImpulse on May 29, 2014
Format: eARC
Pages: 182
Source: Author

Purchase: Amazon • Barnes & Noble


*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


A fun and flirty romance abroad!


AN AMERICAN GIRL IN ITALY is the story of a young woman and her journey of self discovery and love. Carly Davis is devoted to her career as an oboist for the East Hampton Civic Symphony and has no time to focus on a social life. Her job has brought her to Italy for a series of concerts where she meets the tall, dark and handsome Michaelangelo. In danger of losing his family’s estate and winery, Michaelangelo pretends to be a tour host and lands a gig hosting Carly’s orchestra during their stay in Italy in order to make the money he needs to save his family’s legacy. As Carly and Michaelangelo spend time together during her stay in Italy, it becomes apparent to both of them that fate has brought them together for a chance at love.


I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading this book and while I’ll be the first to admit I’m not exactly a big fan of super sweet romance but this was a fun change of pace for me. There are no big hurdles to overcome in this story. Simply put girl visits Italy, meets boy and falls in love over the course of two weeks and decides to follow her heart. This is a cute, feel good story that takes you on a mini vacation to Italy!

Carly is very relate-able, she’s a career driven young woman (I honestly can’t remember her age right now or if it was mentioned) who is a bit of an introvert and has some geek girl qualities I find endearing. I thought her inner monologue was ridiculously funny, especially her reactions to Michaelangelo. My only tiff with her is that it takes a while for her to warm up to Michaelangelo, relax and enjoy her time in Italy. There isn’t a lot of back story on her life before she joined the symphony orchestra, I feel we learn more about the leading man in this story, but I still find her character well developed.


The male protagonist, Michaelangelo is the quintessential Italian man in appearance but has some swoon-worthy qualities. He’s smart, loyal, charming and is the perfect gentleman. His flirty banter and charm eventually win Carly over, as much as she tries to avoid it. I really enjoyed his character, but I’ll venture to say he is almost too perfect for me. I thought we might get a dark past or something that would give him a bit of an edge (that’s the bad boy lover in me talking) but I was left wanting…he’s just an all around sweet good guy, but I guess there’s nothing wrong with that.


Michaelangelo and Carly’s romance is a little fast paced but I didn’t mind due to the circumstances, it’s not insta-love, they actually get to know one another before anything happens. Carly learns that there might be more than just music when she meets Michaelangelo and he sees a chance at finally settling down. His “open book” approach with Carly really won me over, I enjoyed reading about his family’s vineyards and the sacrifices he was willing to make to preserve his heritage. Despite the cultural differences, Michaelangelo and Carly have plenty in common which makes their relationship organic, they really bring out the best in each other. That being said, if you’re looking for a scorching romance you won’t find it here, the smexiness between Carly and Michaelangelo is very PG-13, the sex was done in a tasteful manner leaving everything to the imagination which is not how I like my romance but I definitely won’t knock a book for just that.


Aubrie Dionne really captures the essence of the music world and scenery of Italy with her vivid writing style, you can’t help but get swept up by this tale. A charming couple, an exotic backdrop and a great array of secondary characters will engage contemporary romance readers or those looking for a quick, light-hearted romance. AN AMERICAN GIRL IN ITALY is a delightful read with humor and an easy breezy, uncomplicated romance that is perfect for a summer beach read. I will definitely be adding this author’s future books to my reading list!




Tantor Audio is having a HUGE audiobook Labor Day sale—today only!

Reblogged from TheBookNympho:

Guest Post with Jenn Lyons author of BLOOD CHIMERA


Today I have author Jenn Lyons on the blog, promoting her new paranormal mystery BLOOD CHIMERA and sharing a little of her writing process with us. Feel free to ask her questions or show some love in the comments!


Guest Post with Jenn Lyons author of BLOOD CHIMERA


I thought I might share an example of how I develop backstory for my characters. I don’t always write something like this – very often the backstory develops as I write, but sometimes, when the character is a particularly important one, I might write a short story or a dossier write-up.


In this case, the background I created for Lucy Belogh:


Lucretia has spent lifetimes trying to make herself something other than her father’s whore.


Her first life, she did everything he asked of her, and he asked things no father should ever ask of their own blood. By the end of that life, she had borne nine children and married three times (all arranged to suit her father’s political needs.) She died when she was 43 during the birth of her last child, a stillborn daughter who tore her insides until she bled out her life.

That life, she was dutiful. It did not save her from becoming infamous.


She did not stay dead, but she had known that would be her fate. Rome was out of the question and Spain knew them to well, so she and her father fled to Paris. He taught her all the skills she would need to know: how to hide and how to hunt and more importantly, who not to hunt. Eventually her father decided that she could be more useful to him than she was. When one of their relatives, a priest named Francis Xavier, made clear his intention to travel to the Far East, she went too, her orders considerably less noble than spreading the faith. She was sent to learn the clever arts of seduction and killing they were said to practice in the East. So she could be a better assassin.


So she could be a better whore.


Lucy still finds it ironic that in a land which demanded complete, unflinching subservience to one’s masters, she finally learned rebellion. She found herself questioning her father’s right to rule her life – for any person to do so.


And so she traveled, hiding (for her kind are very good at hiding when the need suits them,) living lives and even finding love. With each passing decade she discovered a little more of who she was with the many masks she took from others.


Still, her father found her.


He took her defiance poorly, and he was even less pleased by her transformation from succubus and spy to soldier. She had become another Cesare, a master of the battlefield, not the bedroom. She had been an amusement, but now she was a threat, so her father struck before she could. He persuaded Pope Clement to declare that Catholicism and Confucianism were incompatible, a move sure to offend the Chinese Kangxi Emperor, who moved to evict not only all Christian missionaries, but the Shaolin Temple monks who sheltered the monsters and witches of the hidden world, including Lucy. The monks scattered, and Lucy was left to wander, once again leaving behind her a legacy of infamy.


The 18th century was her age of anarchy, her age of rebellion. She fomented revolutions: Scottish, French, Russian, American, but found herself embroiled in a new Hell when she became involved in the newest Shadow War, this time the hellish debacle benignly known as the Seven Years War. Really, it was the first world war, years before that term would be applied to something even worse. By then, she was openly her father’s sworn enemy, and their attempts to kill each other increased in complexity and scale with each attempt. Stalemate was reached only when she drew the attention of one of the Council’s enforcers, the Warlord, and found a new master who could shelter her.


But everything changed when she came to America.


Lucretia wasn’t done with being famous, but the next time it would be on her terms.





Title: Blood Chimera
Jenn Lyons
Paranormal Mystery
World Weaver Press
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ADD TO GOODREADS


Some ransoms aren’t meant to be paid.


Kidnap and Ransom negotiation used to be straightforward. The bad guys kidnap someone, and K&R expert Jackson Pastor negotiates their release, skillfully traversing a maze of bloodthirsty monsters: criminals, terrorists, police, and especially the FBI.


But that was before he met real bloodthirsty monsters.


When Jackson Pastor arrives in Los Angeles to help a new client recover his kidnapped wife, he finds himself dropped in the middle of a 500-year-old war between rival European and Mexican vampire clans, a conflict that threatens to escalate into a full-on public gang war. Worse, Jackson hasn’t been brought to Los Angeles to be a negotiator. His new boss wants to turn him into an assassin. With Jackson about to be caught in the middle of a clan war, his only hope of escape may lie with a secret FBI monster-hunting task-force led by a very dangerous, eccentric wizard. Which could be a problem, since Jackson’s a monster himself.



About Jenn Lyons


Jenn Lyons lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, three cats and a lot of opinions on anything from Sumerian creation myths to the correct way to make a martini. At various points in her life, she has wanted to be an archaeologist, anthropologist, architect, diamond cutter, fashion illustrator, graphic designer, or Batman. Turning from such obvious trades, she is now a video game producer by day, and spends her evenings writing science fiction and fantasy. When not writing, she can be found debating the Oxford comma and Joss Whedon’s oeuvre at various local coffee shops.


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Blog Tour | Character Interview with Damon Brock from SHADOW HUNTER by Kait Ballenger + Giveaway



Today I have a mini interview with Damon Brock from Kait Ballenger’s Execution Underground series as part of the SHADOW HUNTER BLOG TOUR. Hope you enjoy it and Happy Monday!


Character Interview with Damon Brock from SHADOW HUNTER

RtDS: Tell me about the place where you live.


DB: I live in a loft apartment in Rochester, New York. Rochester is a cold, crime-ridden slum of a city, but its home.


RtDS: Who is your best friend in the world and what is he/she like?


DB: My best friend was my fellow vampire hunter, Mark Solow. He was the most loyal friend I’ve ever known and he was a great fighter to boot. What defined him most was the never-ending love he had for the younger sister he left behind in death. He would’ve done or given anything to protect and care for her.


RtDS: Describe your ideal date.


DB: It’s less about what I would do and more about who I would be with… just one more time with her.


RtDS: What motto do you live by?


DB: When it comes to vampires, kill first, ask questions later.


RtDS: Anything else you’d like to share?


DB: I’m not the sharing is caring type.

RtDS: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule with the EU to chat with us today Damon!





Title: Shadow Hunter
Author: Kait Ballenger
Series: Execution Underground #0.5
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Scheduled release date: August 4, 2014


See where it all began in this exciting prequel to The Execution Underground, Kait Ballenger’s sexy paranormal series about the men who hunt evil and the women who love them.


Vampire hunter Damon Brock’s first assignment with the Execution Underground is Rochester, New York. But he isn’t the only hunter in town gunning for vamp blood.


Tiffany Solow is ruthless when it comes to slaying the monsters that destroyed her family—and she works solo. But when she meets the mysterious hunter who wants more than just her turf, the line between good and evil blurs as they must decide between their lifelong beliefs…and their newfound desires.


Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble



About Kait Ballenger


Kait Ballenger is a full-time romance author, wife, a former professional bellydancer, and soon-to-be-professor. She is the multi-published author of the Execution Underground paranormal romance series about an international network of supernatural hunters who fight to protect humanity alongside the powerful women they seduce.


With a B.A in English from Stetson University, Kait is a recent graduate of Spalding University’s M.F.A in Writing for Children and Young Adults program, where she studied dual-genre in screenwriting.


When Kait’s not preoccupied with paranormal creepy-crawlies, she can be found spending time with her family or with her nose buried in a book. She lives in Florida with her husband, their doggie-daughter Sookie (yes, like the heroine in Charlainne Harris’ books), and two mischievous cats Elliot and Olivia (yes, like the Law and Order characters), near the love and care of her supportive family. Kait believes anything is possible with hard work and dedication. One day, she will be a bestseller and have people name their pets after her characters too.


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Tour wide Giveaway
US Only – 5 copies of After Dark and 5 copies of Twilight Hunter


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{Blog Tour} Review: Indigo Dawn (The Josie Hawk Chronicles #1) by Elle J Rossi

Indigo Dawn (The Josie Hawk Chronicles, Volume 3) - Elle J Rossi

Indigo Dawn by Elle J Rossi
Series: The Josie Hawk Chronicles #1 
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Published by: Moon Rose Publishing on March 24, 2014
Format: eARC
Pages: 150
Source: Author 
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*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Vampires, witches and pixie dust…Oh My!


I can’t get enough of Josie and Keller and INDIGO DAWN finally gave me what I was craving…a full length story with these two. Just when I think things can’t get any crazier for Josie, Elle J Rossi surprises me with a new adventure for the snarky Huntress. Adding some pixies to the mix definitely made for an intriguing tale!


The Josie Hawk Chronicles continues with Josie doing what she does best, kicking some supernatural tail! I was thankful that her relationship with Keller is established and they’re finally a real couple working together in this book. Being with Keller has made Josie more open to let others in (which I like), but she hasn’t lost her fiestiness and protective nature. She’s now part of a team, working alongside Keller and his Crimson Beat band-mates not only at her bar Wolfie’s, but while hunting nasties on the streets of Nashville. Life is never boring for this gang and this time proves no different when Josie discovers some mischievous little pixies are distributing some psychedelic pixie dust in her city.


INDIGO DAWN wastes no time and jumps right into the action with Josie, Keller and their newly formed Assembly team. Each member of Crimson Beat brings their own set of skills and charming personalities to the table, I love that they all treat Josie as an equal and aren’t too alpha with her. Grant, Lucian, Alex and Matthew have great chemistry and definitely leave their mark, I wouldn’t mind a novella with just these four sexy vamps (I’m talking to you Ms. Rossi!).


Demons, vampires and shifters are some of the usual supes explore in this series so I thought the introduction of the witches and pixies just added to this fascinating world. Keller continues to make me swoon with his sexy Irish accent and passion…Josie is one lucky girl, that’s all I’ll say! We see a little more smexiness between them in this book and they certainly do a fantastic job of heating up the pages.


This book alternates between Josie’s first person POV and Keller’s third person POV, but I actually enjoy this style to the series, it allows me to connect with both protagonists. I love that Elle reveals the meaning behind the title INDIGO DAWN in the story, giving it a special connection to the characters. Josie and Keller are a breath of fresh air in this genre that can sometimes be a bit dark, I love their love and can’t wait to read what comes next for sexy couple, after all, you know what they say, the couple that slays together…





{Blog Tour} Mini Review: Crimson Beat (The Josie Hawk Chronicles) by Elle J Rossi

Crimson Beat - Spring Equinox (The Celtic Tapestry Collection, Book 1) - Elle J Rossi

Crimson Beat by Elle J Rossi
Series: The Josie Hawk Chronicles #0.6 
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Published by: Author on December 30, 2013
Format: eARC
Pages: 31
Source: Author
Amazon Barnes & Noble 


*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Another action packed installment to the adventures of Huntress Josie Hawk!


CRIMSON BEAT picks off shortly after the events of Alabaster Nights with our heroine Josie and her struggles to resist the sexy Irish vampire Keller O’Leary while keeping the city of Nashville safe from dangerous predators. The Spring Equinox known as Ostara, is one of two times a year when supernaturals are free to walk among the humans for a 24 hour period. Protecting the residents and tourists of Nashville while helping her best friend Sage run their bar Wolfie’s keeps Josie busier than ever and on edge. To keep the peace in her city, Josie is willing to sign a treaty with her greatest enemy, the ancient vampire Cross with or without the Assembly’s approval. What she wasn’t expecting was her on again/off again vampire lover Keller O’Leary showing up in town with his new band Crimson Beat. Can this be a mere coincidence? Josie doesn’t think so.


I really enjoyed this short but sexy addition to the series. Josie is her larger than life self. I love her inner monologue and snarkiness but it can sometimes get her into trouble. This story explores her relationship with Keller futher, including her insecurities when it comes to him. As a Huntress Josie’s number one priority is to keep her city safe from any supernatural predators, making her a bad ass fighter and kick ass heroine. Keller’s good looks and sexy Irish lilt are enough to distract anyone with eyes and ears, so I totally get Josie’s intense attraction to him, even when she tries to resist it. Their flirty banter is always a treat and watching Josie finally own up to her feelings for Keller really made this story worth the read.


CRIMSON BEAT gets you reacquainted with the series charismatic character and introduces us to some new ones that are just as entertaining. It was a blast catching up with Josie and Keller through her POV this time around. This novella has just enough action and romance to keep you turning the pages and anxiously awaiting the full length novel!




About Elle J Rossi


Elle J Rossi grew up in rural Indiana surrounded by great people, a huge family and more animals than she could count. But the sites and sounds of the world beckoned, so she left her small town to escape into a creative world full of music. As a full time singer she was able to lose herself in a thousand different songs in a hundred different places.


After meeting the love of her life and settling down, she yearned to find a new and fulfilling creative outlet. Overly fond of the happily ever after, she wondered what it would be like to have her own characters lead her down dark and twisted paths. The very first word on the very first page sealed her fate. She’d found a new love. She’d found her escape.


Now along with weaving haunting tales about the journey to love, she’s creating cover art for authors around the world and loving every second of it. For fun, she cranks country music to take her back to her roots, and sings karaoke anytime she gets a chance. Her husband, two children, and a cat that rules the roost keep her company along the way and guarantee she doesn’t get lost in the enchanted forest. She wouldn’t have it any other way.




Review: Black Rook (Cornerstone Run Trilogy #1) by Kelly Meade

Black Rook - Kelly Meade, Kelly Meding

Black Rook by Kelly Meade
Series: Cornerstone Run Trilogy #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance 
Published by: InterMix on July 15, 2014
Format: eARC
Pages: 330
Source: NetGalley

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*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 


Kelly Meade has solidified my love of werewolves with her refreshing new alphas of Cornerstone, the McQueens are beyond SWOON-WORTHY!


Kelly Meade has definitely changed the game with her new world of werewolves. I’ve read plenty of books with werewolves, they’re my second favorite supe, but I haven’t come across anything like this fascinating world of loup garou and magic Meade’s created. World building can sometimes overpower a “first in a series” book, but I found myself devouring every detail shared about Cornerstone, its politics, inhabitants and history.


First and foremost I have to say how much I love the play on names for the McQueen Brothers: Knight, Bishop and Rook. I thought this was so clever and tied into the plot perfectly, like a strategic game of chess where each character has an important role. The usual werewolf myths do not apply in this world, I definitely feel Meade’s loup garou are in a class all their own.


A loup garou’s social standing and strengths are almost predetermined by their wolf’s color, each group has its own pros and cons; color can even play a role in mating and reproduction. For instance, all firstborns of families are alphas by default, their position can only be preempted by a black wolf, who supersede all other wolves when pertaining to alpha status. White wolves are intuitive and rare, therefore very special in the loup garou community which is referred to as a run and not a pack, I thought that was a cool new term. The white wolf’s mythology is the most intriguing to me but I’ll have to wait until White Knight is released to learn more. There are also no destined mates among the loup garou, only potential mates, which I found refreshing. While I love that I was immersed in this world of loup garou, I like that there is a good mix of supes with the vampires and Magi which adds diversity to the story. Each supernatural being has a distinctive scent to the loup garou which makes it easy for them to distinguish their enemies.


As the second daughter of Archimedes Atwood, a powerful Magus, Brynn Atwood is pretty much the black sheep of the community due to her lack of power and precognitive powers. When Brynn sees her father murdered at the hands of a loup garou in one of her visions, she travels to Cornerstone in order to find and stop the killer before he carries out his plan. What she finds instead is Rook McQueen, the son of Cornerstone’s Alpha, who stirs up all kinds of feelings and a sense of family for Brynn that she’s never felt among her own people. As they work together to find the real killer, Brynn and Rook uncover a dangerous enemy that threatens both their worlds and are faced with making a difficult choice for the greater good.


I wouldn’t call Brynn a bad ass heroine but she does have some kick ass qualities, if that makes any sense. She’s compassionate, courageous and loyal, even when it comes to her father who sees her as a disappointment. Brynn comes off as a naive and impulsive young woman, but her true strengths are shown as the story progresses. She’s like a fish out of water when she arrives at Cornerstone and it was great to see her hold her own among the loup garou, mainly the McQueens…she’s a tough cookie! There are a few secrets revealed about her origin I was suspicious about, but I was not expecting some of the things I learned. I’ll admit I wasn’t blown away by Brynn but she grew on me halfway through the book.


Rook was an unexpected surprise for an alpha, he’s assertive but not over the top. He’s a reformed “bad boy” rock star and struggles with who he wants to be and what is expected of him as a black wolf. He’s the youngest McQueen brother but as a black wolf has the choice of becoming Alpha or relinquishing that title to his older brother Bishop, who has been training for the position his entire life. I love how he does have all the qualities of a good Alpha but wears his heart on his sleeve, Rook is devoted to his family and will sacrifice himself for the ones he loves..if that’s not a hero I don’t know what is. The McQueen brothers’ bond is heartwarming, they have very different personalities but equally love each other unconditionally. I was expecting a little sibling rivalry between them but they were thick as thieves with no real drama among them.


The romance between Brynn and Rook is fun and flirty but minimal. The chemistry is there and I thought the sexual tension was going to make for a great couple of epic smexy scenes between these two, but I was left wanting, the romance took a backseat to the action and suspense. Normally I would be furious with the lack of sex in a book like this but I have to be honest and say that I was so engaged with the story and characters that I didn’t mind (this might be a first people!). I like the pairing of Brynn and Rook, they compliment each other very well and are really sweet together. I thought she also had a little chemistry with Knight before Rook came into the picture but that was obviously not going to happen. Those McQueen brothers really know how to steal the show from each other!


I would say BLACK ROOK has more characteristics of an Urban Fantasy with a dash of Paranormal Romance, just because there is more character development and world building and less smexiness between the characters, but that’s just my opinion. Kelly Meade has a gift for story telling that’s enviable, I couldn’t get enough of this paranormal world and its characters! Meade allows the reader to connect with each character, hero or villain, which is not an easy feat. I also feel the supporting characters in this story are just as engrossing and shine as much as the hero and heroine, I loved equally. Filled with mystery, action and a HEA, BLACK ROOK is a phenomenal series debut that will leave you hungry for more! The McQueen brothers are officially my new book boyfriends!




Audiobook Review: Ruthless (The House of Rohan #1) by Anne Stuart

Ruthless - Anne Stuart

Ruthless by Anne Stuart 
Series: The House of Rohan #1
Narrator: Susan Ericksen
Genre: Historical Romance
Published by: Tantor Audio on October 2, 2011
Format: Audiobook
Source: Gift

Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Audible




Not your typical historical romance! A dark hero meets a sharp-tongued leading lady in this page turning story of a most unusual romance. If you’re looking for a light and fun historical you won’t find it here, don’t let the cover fool you, RUTHLESS is not for the tame reader who prefers a sweet romantic courting.




Known to many as the King of Hell, Viscount Francis Rohan leads a life of decadent indulgence and debauchery as leader of the Heavenly Host, an exclusive group of individuals who share his carnal appetites. When the less than shy Elinor Harriman storms into one of Rohan’s infamous parties looking for her mother, he’s instantly captivated by her bold and feisty personality. To Rohan Elinor presents an unexpected and challenging conquest, one that he gladly welcomes.




This is my first audiobook with Susan Ericksen as a narrator but it definitely won’t be my last. Her transition between accents is flawless and the male characters are believable. Ericksen’s narration really brings the story to life with her inflections and tone, you’re quickly transported back in time with Elinor and Rohan! Her depiction of Rohan is stellar, his arrogance and charm is is perfectly conveyed and Elinor’s quick wit is very entertaining. I’d venture to say listening made this book a better read.




While most readers will think Francis Rohan is not worthy of the hero title I found him enigmatic, intriguing and sexy…don’t judge me! Rohan is confident and mysterious, with a touch of darkness that makes him both dangerous and alluring. He’s said to be very experienced in the game of seduction, but I like that Anne Stuart leaves most of Rohan’s past sexual escapades to our imagination. Rohan might be an aristocrat but he is no gentleman, he lives life on his own terms and doesn’t apologize for it. I’ll admit he’s not swoon-worthy, I’d probably even say he’s detestable at times, but I couldn’t get enough of the King of Hell. I really applaud Anne Stuart for taking a chance and giving us somewhat of an anti-hero in Rohan that inspires empathy.


Elinor Harriman is not the standard leading lady you find in historicals. She’s an odd beauty with an opinionated personality who’s had a tumultuous upbringing with a not so loving mother, but is still a strong woman. I get her devotion to her younger sister, but I didn’t have much sympathy for her bitch of a mother who took advantage of her. She reminds me of Elizabeth Bennett, in the way that she compares herself to her sister’s beauty and finds herself lacking, it didn’t help that her sister’s name is also Lydia! She constantly refers to her nose as her worst feature, calling it the Harriman nose (inherited by her father) which got old after a while, but I guess every girl is her worst critic. Elinor’s loyalty is to her family for which she’s sacrificed her own happiness and the possibility of a future, her selflessness is admirable. She’s a complex character who struggles with doing the right thing or giving into temptation. I love that Elinor doesn’t let her tortured past define her and realizes that there’s nothing wrong with putting herself first for once.


Aside from the main characters, we’re also introduced to Rohan’s best friend and right hand man, Charles Reading. He’s more of a mystery than Rohan and I was intrigued by his character and the possible romance between him and Elinor’s younger sister Lydia. Their moments together were brief but sweet and I found myself liking their chemistry a little more than our main couple. I hope Anne Stuart gives us more of Charles and Lydia soon!




The chemistry between Rohan and Elinor starts off as flirty banter before anything gets serious between them. Rohan is instantly drawn to Elinor’s sharp tongue and while his intentions are to bed her, he soon realizes that his charms won’t work so easily on her. It was great to see Elinor play hard to get and Rohan’s frustration at the start of their relationship. Their relationship isn’t insta-love, coming together after a tragedy when Elinor loses her mother and home in a fire, which allows them to spend time together under the same roof and really get to know one another. My only tiff with this romance is that I expected more smexy times with this couple, especially with Rohan’s reputation. We go from one steamy scene in a stagecoach to nothing for a very long time. If I recall there were two sex scenes towards the end of the story but nothing memorable to rave about. All in all I did enjoy them as a couple. It’s not your typical feel good romance, but these two characters compliment each other perfectly.




If you’re like me and love to step out of the box with romance novels, this book is for you. RUTHLESS is a slow paced, dark romance with a little mystery that keeps you engaged from beginning to end. The ending felt a bit rushed for my tastes, but I was glad that Rohan and Elinor got their HEA after everything they’ve been through. Anne Stuart delivers a refreshing take on a “cookie-cutter” genre with her Byronic heroes and strong female protagonists in the House of Rohan series. I’ve found a new series and author to covet!






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