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: Meet Rook McQueen from BLACK ROOK by Kelly Meade + Giveaway


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Character Interview with Rook McQueen from BLACK ROOK


RtDS: Give us three interesting facts about you.


RM: I don't really know that I'm all that interesting but I'll give it a try. One, the tattoos on my neck and arms are Sanskrit translations of the lyrics to the first song I ever wrote. Two, um, in college I could drink everyone under the table because loup garou can't get drunk. And three, I've only ever been to three other states, not including Pennsylvania.  



RtDS: Describe your author in 140 characters or less.


RM: She likes to piss off or torture everyone and then try to make it all better by giving us smexy times and did I mention mean and sneaky?  



RtDS: Tell me about the place where you live.


RM: Cornerstone is a small town in the valley between two mountains, in central Pennsylvania. We're almost entirely loup garou (a few humans live among us with Alpha permission and are sworn to secrecy about our true nature). Our main source of outside income are the weekly auctions at McQueen's, which has been in our family for several generations. No one who comes has a clue the owners and workers aren't human. But it's a very small town with less then eight hundred residents. One school. Two places to eat. A Main Street you can walk from one end to the other in ten minutes. You'd probably call it quaint, but I call it home.  



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


RM: This one is a toss-up between my older brother Knight, and our friend Devlin Burke. Knight is only three years older than me, like Devlin, and all of us plus Dev's cousin Winston pretty much grew up together. We were always horsing around, getting into trouble. Knight and me, we've always been close (not so much with our eldest brother Bishop). Knight and Devlin are definitely best-best friends, but they're both my best. Make sense? Knight's just Knight. And Dev? He's a sneaky bastard, but he's hella loyal.  



RtDS: If you had a day to do anything you wanted, what would you do?


RM: Write music. It's been ages since I've done that, not since I came home from college a few months ago. I'd love to take my guitar someplace out in the woods and write new stuff. I really miss it.  



RtDS: What is your most prized possession?


RM: My Córdoba Fusion guitar.  



RtDS: When you walk into a room, what do you expect people to notice about you?


RM: I'd like to say that I'm tall and muscular, but the first thing they always notice are my steel 00 gauges in both ears. Then usually the tattoos.  



RtDS: Do you have any enemies?


RM: Personally? No. As a loup garou, vampires and the Magi have always been our enemies. Very few vampires exist nowadays and really aren't a threat. And the Magi have their noses so full of their own asses that they don't look our way much. So other than human discovery, not really, no.  



RtDS: What’s your biggest fear? You don’t have to answer this one if you don’t want to…


RM: Making the wrong decision about being Alpha. You see, usually the first born-son of an Alpha is next to inherit but due to a trick of genetics, I have the right to take the position from Bishop. Only Bishop's been training to take it his entire life, and I don't know if I'd be as good a leader as him. I don't know if I could fill our father's shoes when he retires. The decision will affect our entire town, you know?  


RtDS: What motto do you live by?


RM: I don't really have one. I try hard not to judge others. I mind my own business, and I let people do theirs. Now if you come at my family I will take you down, but I guess I live by "to each his own." Yeah, that works.  



RtDS: Anything else you feel like sharing?


RM: Don't tell anyone else but I can belt out "Oh Susannah!" like a boss.  



RtDS: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, it was a pleasure having you! ☺


RM: My pleasure being here.



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About the Book...


Cornerstone Run is a paranormal romance trilogy, set in a world of hidden loup garou, their mystical Magi enemies, and the occasional vampire. The small, reclusive town of Cornerstone, Pennsylvania, houses an almost entirely loup garou populationóone of only thirteen towns around the country that serve as a sanctuary for their nonhuman inhabitants, where the loup garou are free to be themselves. When a neighboring sanctuary town is attacked by a vicious, unknown enemy, the three sons of Cornerstone's Alpha must stand together to protect their peopleóand the women who steal their hearts.


Black Rook


She never saw this coming...

Brynn Atwood is a low-level Magus whose unpredictable precognitive powers have made her an outcast among her people—and an embarrassment to her highly-regarded father. After a frightening vision in which her father is murdered by a loup garou man, Brynn decides to prove herself by finding the killer, and stopping them at any cost.

Her target is Rook McQueen, the son of a small-town loup garou Alpha. Despite being the youngest of three, Rook is first in line to inherit the role of Alpha, a duty he isn't sure he's capable of fulfilling. When Brynn finally meets Rook, she doesn't expect the attraction that draws her to himóand him to her.

No longer believing him a murderer, Brynn and Rook strike an alliance to find her father's real killer. But when his older brother is targeted by an unknown enemy, Rook will have to choose between his growing feelings for Brynn and his duty as the future Alpha of his community.



Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Penguin | BAM | GoodReads


Cornerstone Run Trilogy

Black Rook Gray Bishop White Knight


Excerpt - Chapter 1

Brynn Atwood observed the entrance to McQueen's Auction House, as she had done for the past few minutes while she gathered the courage she needed to leave the safety of her rental car. A steady stream of vehicles entered the parking lot and ejected browsers and buyers, all eager to view today's auction and visit with acquaintances seen only during these once-a-week sales. Not Brynn. She was certainly the only person who'd showed up today intending to prevent a murder.

Walking alone into a town populated with and run by loup garou wasn't the smartest thing she had ever done in her twenty-four years, but it certainly counted as the bravest. If she managed to achieve her goal, even her father would have to admit to her courage and to the validity of her visions. He didn't trust in her seer ability, nor did he believe that her vision of him being murdered by a loup garou would come true.

"Surely you know I would never put myself into a situation that would result in such a calamitous outcome," her father, Archimedes Atwood, had said the previous day. And as with every chilly encounter between them in the last few months, he'd spoken with the impatience of a strict teacher correcting a belligerent child. "Perhaps some of your visions have come true on occasion, but do not use me to distract attention from your own disgrace. I have no more time for this nonsense."

Her visions were always nonsense.

Archimedes was a Prime Magus in the Congress of Magi, one of four, as well as a powerful practitioner of elemental magic. He'd never hidden his disappointment over Brynn's uncontrollable precognitive powers—powers he had yet to acknowledge were real or her inability to one day claim his spot on the Congress. She was too weak, a failure as a Magus. She couldn't even manage to keep her job as a Congress tutor for more than two years. All she had left were her infrequent visions, in whatever time or manner they chose to come.

And worse yet, he had all but accused her of fabricating this vision and the need to save him in order to make up for the shame she'd brought to their name when she was fired. She didn't want the vision to be true. She wanted her father alive for many years to come.

She would figure out how to save him on her own. She would prove her value.

Brynn climbed out of her car and surveyed the quickly filling parking lot. In any new situation, her best first step was to observe her surroundings, study others, and discover the way to best fit in. She had never before attended a public auction of any sort; she knew only that antiques and other goods were bid upon and purchased, sometimes at outrageous prices. Some patrons walked into the building carrying their own boxes, clearly expecting to purchase items. Others entered carrying only cups of coffee or soda, or small children.

The variety of patrons surprised her: young and old, scruffy and well-kempt, couples and singles and large groups, and families. Some drove up with pickups and vans; some parked expensive cars in the narrow, crowded lot. Everyone seemed at ease.

I must stick out like a smoking vampire in daylight.

Standing there like a fool would only garner her unwanted attention. Subtlety was the route to accomplishing her task. Brynn forced her feet to carry her forward, past other vehicles, toward the main entrance. Everyone seemed to be entering the large, barnlike building through those glass double doors. A few people came back to the parking lot from the side of the building, which indicated a back entrance/exit, as well. She'd tried to find blueprints of the layout before her arrival, but getting any sort of in-depth information on Cornerstone, Pennsylvania, was next to impossible.

The town had a small population of six hundred forty-one residents, and Brynn could guess that about ten percent were human. Cornerstone was founded by a run of loup garou nearly two centuries ago, and was one of a dozen similar safe havens around the country. Much like the Congress of Magi and a few surviving nests of vampires, loup garou runs required secrecy and anonymity to survive in the modern world. The weekly auctions at McQueen's brought outside income to the town without the interference of tourism or industry, and it kept them from appearing too insular to the outside world.

Her father stubbornly refused to have any faith in her abilities, but Brynn's visions of the future came true without fail, and the most recent had led her here to McQueen's Auction House. Led her to the loup garou sheíd seen standing over her father's broken body. The man her careful research told her was named Rook McQueen.

The boy, she corrected.

As a general rule, her people did not trust technology. The Magi trusted tradition and magic above all else. Growing up an only child with few friends, Brynn spent hundreds of hours on her computer, a gift awarded by her father on her twelfth birthday, as a means to keep her mind occupied beyond the limited resources of their home's physical library. Only weeks before, she had spoken to him of her first vision. In the middle of reading a book, she had seen a clear image of a baby bird falling from a nest. It disturbed her so much that sheíd fled into the backyard in time to see it happen. She scooped the tiny robin up and climbed the tree where she spotted the nest, returning the lost baby to its siblings.

She was so proud when she told her father about it that night, not only the bird, but the premonition. Her very first display of a Magus power. "Manifestations of a child's overactive imagination," he had scoffed. "Do not bother me with these small things, daughter."

The computer became her gateway to the outside world, a link to knowledge far beyond the borders of her home in Chestnut Hill. And like the young sleuths in the slim novels she'd loved so much, Brynn taught herself how to research and investigate—skills that had served her well these last few days as she raced to identify her father's killer.

One of three sons of Thomas McQueen, the auction house's owner, Rook was two years younger than herself, a recent college graduate, and the former lead singer of a popular local rock band—not exactly the portrait of a killer, loup garou or otherwise. And yet the brief glimpse of him in her vision, skin marked with tattoos, human teeth bared, and hands covered in her father's blood, showed him capable of violence, as all loup garou inevitably were.

She would not allow her father to become Rook McQueen's victim. Archimedes Atwood was too important, not only to herself but to the Congress of Magi. The Magi were small in number, and they relied on their leaders to protect them from their enemies, including the volatile, deadly loup garou. And as an elemental Magi, he was among the most powerful. Few others shared his ability to manipulate fire. Their people needed him, so Brynn needed to protect him. She had to find a way to prevent her father's murder before it occurred.

The biggest blank in her research was Rook's relationship to the run's Alpha. Brynn had no access to the Congress's files on the loup garou, and she couldn't directly ask her father for the name of Cornerstone's Alpha—her father had no idea she'd identified his would-be assassin, or that she was in central Pennsylvania doing reconnaissance on said assassin, instead of at the family home wallowing in her professional disgrace.

A random loup killing her father carried a very different meaning than a loup from within the higher ranks of the run's Alpha family—the latter could easily be considered an act of war against the Congress of Magi. A foolishly begun war, as the Magi and loup had maintained an uneasy peace for the last sixty years.

Concentrate, foolish girl, before you get yourself killed. This isn't one of your novels, this is real.

Brynn smoothed her palms down the front of her green t-shirt and tugged at the hem. She stopped, recognizing the nervous gesture, a habit from the two years she'd worked as a Congress tutor, which required skirts and blouses and high heels. The t-shirt, denim shorts, and Keds combination sheíd chosen for today's mission had been partly for comfort in the August heat and partly to blend in. The final piece of her costume was the Magus pendant hidden behind the t-shirt, which would act as a sensory mirror and hide her natural scent—any loup sniffing her for signs of "other" would smell a common human female, instead of a Magus. The auction attracted dozens of human buyers, but the people who ran it and worked there were still loup. The pendant was her only real protection against their sense of smell.

The stolen pendant, you fool. Plucking it from her father's office had nearly given her fits, and her father would be apoplectic when he discovered it was missing—yet another reason to finish her task and return home posthaste. Maybe, just maybe, she could prevent this vision from coming true. She had to try.

Nerves twisted her stomach into a tight ball that nearly squeezed the air from her lungs. The thump of music and drone of voices greeted her as Brynn pushed open the door and stepped inside McQueen's Auction House.

Avesta, protect me, your loyal daughter.

Plea to the Magi's patron sent, Brynn forced her anxiety into the background and paid closer attention to her surroundings. The entrance was spacious, with a short hallway and a brightly painted "Restrooms" sign on her immediate right. On the left was a bulletin board covered in layers of posters and flyers advertising yard sales and on-site auctions. Past it was a roped-off stairwell going up to parts unknown. A handsome young man in cowboy boots and a matching leather hat leaned near the stairwell, sipping from a Styrofoam cup, as though he lived solely to hold up that particular wall.

His intent gaze landed on her, and she didnít have to search for the copper flecks in his brown eyes to know he was loup garou. Brynn's insides froze, but she forced out a calm, flirty smile. She knew she was attractive enough to gather a few second glances, and he was what she might hesitantly call beautiful—if a man could be considered so—with a slim nose and perfectly symmetrical features. However beautiful, this man was also her enemy. His body was fit, impeccably toned, and even at ease he thrummed with the power of his caged beast. He also wasn't Rook McQueen, so although he was quite pleasant to look at, he did not hold her interest.

He tilted his head in a friendly gesture, then winked. Brynn blushed and ducked her head, a reaction she did not have to fake. Male attention of any sort nowadays left her insides squirrely, a sense of bitter panic residing where her confidence had once dwelled. She also needed to remain inconspicuous while here, and flirting with a local cowboy was not the way to stay alive.

Brynn followed an elderly couple out into the main room. She slipped over to her left, out of the flow of traffic, and absorbed the scene of orderly chaos. An elevated pair of cash registers stood near the entrance, with lines on each side. The customers in line traded personal information for a large index card with a number written in black marker. Cards in hand, the customers went to one of many places in the cavernous room.

Dozens of tables of merchandise were set up along the perimeter of the room, three rows deep, and at the center of it all was a dais, two stools, and a microphone. Directly behind the dais was a long row of antique furniture and four glass cases. Rows of mismatched chairs covered the rest of the floor space, facing the dais. At least half the chairs were marked by either sitting bodies or empty boxes waiting for their owners. In the far back of the room, close to Brynn's position, was a food counter advertising sandwiches and chips and cold sodas, and it produced the bitter scent of over-brewed coffee. Opposite Brynn was another set of propped-open double doors, and a steady stream of people moved in and out of a second room that seemed crowded with boxes.

Someone jostled past on a waft of coffee-scented air, alerting Brynn to the competing odors in the room. The food counter fought with the tang of human body odor, as well as the musty stink of old paper and leather. A damp smell, like rain, hung over everything else, reminding her that even though she was surrounded by human beings, nonhumans also mingled. Every loup in the room posed a threat to her safety.

Brynn walked along the back wall, out of the heavier flow of people, alert for her prey. She spotted three other men who set off her loup alarms. Each wore a black t-shirt and jeans, just like the man outside in the cowboy boots.

McQueen employees. They must be.

One of them lingered near the dais, chatting with an older woman in a purple caftan, giving her his full attention while still managing to observe the room. He had a strong facial resemblance to the loup in the entrance, and a stronger resemblance to the photo she'd found of Rook. Each could easily be one of Rook's two brothers. Brynn swallowed hard, mouth dry. If two of the three McQueen brothers worked here, maybe Rook did, as well. He could appear at any moment.

Your brother may one day murder my father.

The thought saddened her. Rook wasnít just a potential murderer. He was also a brother and a son, and his family would miss him if he were gone. They would also fight to protect him the moment they considered her a threat.

You can't think about that now, foolish girl.

Brynn inhaled a steadying breath. She palmed her right hand in her left, the fingers of her left hand smoothing over the gold band of the ring she wore on her right index finger. The top of the ring appeared to be a piece of costume jewelry, a blue gem the size of a nickel. A blue gem filled with a paralytic poison, developed decades ago to specifically target the loup garou's nervous system. One tap of the ring would send a dose of poison down the ring's band to her hand, and one firm handshake with any loup would put enough on his skin to kill him within an hour. No one would suspect such an innocuous item to be a deadly weapon, which was exactly the reason she'd stolen it from her father's study.

As a small child, she had once overheard him boasting to another Magus of using the ring to drug an unsuspecting loup garou, and they were none the wiser. She had thought this made her father particularly clever, and the moment had stayed with her. Brynn Atwood might walk alone into a loup sanctuary town, but she wouldnít walk in unarmed.

She had a single dose of the antidote hidden in her car in case she accidentally poisoned someone—no sense in leaving that to chance. She might be willing to kill to protect her father and she would defend herself if attacked, but she would not hurt an innocent loup.

If loup could be considered innocent. Her father would scoff at the notion.

She had considered her plan a dozen different ways before engaging. She didn't rush blindly ahead. She rarely undertook any sort of action without having first clearly considered the potential outcomes. The only action guaranteeing her vision never came true was her removing Rook from the equation. Murdering him first. That was, however, a last resort action that almost guaranteed her own death at loup garou hands, as well as bringing the full power of her father's anger down on their run.

She preferred the plan where she observed, gathered information, possibly discovered who the run Alpha was so she could introduce herself, and then took steps to prevent her vision that left all involved happy and healthy-her father especially.

Awareness prickled up her spine just as a male voice said, "You look a bit lost, miss."

Brynn turned, not terribly surprised to find the cowboy from the entrance watching her. The cup was gone, but he still wore the silly leather hat, which cast a shadow over his eyes. It didn't hide his beauty, though.


"I was supposed to meet someone here, but I don't see them yet," she said, the rehearsed lie falling easily from her lips.

"That explains it, then." His tone was light, his voice lyrical and calming, but it still held a hint of danger. And challenge.

"Explains what?"

"Why you looked like you were casing the place."

She laughed without forcing it, finding actual humor in the comment. "Do you often have problems with armed robbers staging stickups here?"

"No, but we've caught a few thieves over the years, trying to break in and steal items before they go up for sale."

"Are you saying I look like a thief?"

"You just looked a little lost, that's all. This your first time here?"

"It's that obvious?"

He lifted his left shoulder in a shrug. "My father owns the place, and I've worked for him since I was a kid. I know all of the regulars, and most of the semi-regulars. New faces are easy to spot, especially faces as pretty as yours."

Two things solidified for Brynn then: this man was definitely one of the McQueen brothers, and he was definitely flirting with her. Inbred disgust at the loup's attention seized her, and she barely managed to stall a physical reaction.

He jumped, then his hand went to his jeans pocket. Brynn's rising alarm calmed when he whipped out a vibrating cell phone and checked a message. "Damn," he said as he tucked the phone away again. "Work calls."

"Don't let me keep you."

"I hope your friend shows soon. In the meantime, take a look around. We've got a lot of great stuff today."

"Thank you."

"My pleasure."

He eased past her and walked straight up the center aisle of chairs to the dais, directly to the other man she suspected of being a McQueen. She watched them from the corner of her eye, but the other man gestured at the furniture behind the dais. They didn't seem to be talking about her. Sheíd just had a conversation with her target's brother and no one suspected a thing.

Don't get cocky. Things could still go badly in a moment's time.

She pushed away the voice of reason. A little more confident now, Brynn gave herself permission to look around. It was her first auction, after all. She wandered to the other side of the room, as much to make a show of belonging as to check out some of the items for sale. She'd always assumed auctions were full of dirty antiques and shiny glass baubles, but the table nearest her was covered with books. Boxes and boxes of books—hardcovers, paperbacks, textbooks, in all genres and on all subjects. The reams of knowledge in those boxes made her chest ache for the satisfaction she used to get from teaching.

Until last month, when she was fired from her tutor position and found herself with zero standing among her people, and with no hope for her future.

Maybe after this you'll find a new calling as a Congress investigator.

Smiling at the ridiculous notion, she picked up a thick copy of the annotated works of Homer and smoothed back the torn corner of its dust jacket. Nostalgia for school and learning settled heavily in her chest, so heavily it tried to force up tears. She'd briefly considered returning to school and earning a new degree, since history and education hadn't served her very well. Briefly. If the Alpha reacted badly to her presence in his town, or Rook took issue with her allegations, she'd never get the chance to reconsider her education more thoroughly.

She'd never get the chance to do a lot of things. Her father once said that loup justice was swift and merciless.

She put the book down and pinched the bridge of her nose, damming the tears and steeling her nerves. She would not cry, not here in public. Not when she needed to accomplish a job that required her full attention.

A flash of movement caught her attention, and Brynn turned her head toward the entrance. Her gaze drifted up. Above the entrance, probably accessible from that roped-off staircase, was a large window and a room behind. Two men stood at the window, talking and gesturing, in what looked like an office. Probably the manager's office, which gave him a bird's-eye view of his business.

The shorter of the two men captured and held her attention. Hints of a tattoo peeked out from beneath the sleeve of his black t-shirt. Metal glinted in his right earlobe, and another tattoo-or possibly the same-crept down his ear to his neck and disappeared into the collar of his shirt.

Even in profile, Brynn knew him. Fear and rage collided in a storm of cold and heat, and she clenched her hands into tight fists.

Rook McQueen. Her father's future killer.

Blood rushed hot in her veins, and her heart thumped harder. He wasn't just a face in a vision any longer. He was real.

"Ma'am?" The strange male voice alarmed Brynn into spinning around too fast. Her elbow clipped the voice owner in the chest and he grunted. Brynn's stomach bottomed out. The man from the front of the room, her second McQueen brother suspect, frowned darkly, and she saw her own death there.

"I'm so sorry," Brynn said. "Are you all right?"

"Fine. I'm sorry to bother you, but do you drive a white Dodge Neon?"

She blinked at the odd question about her rental car. "Yes, I do."

"Someone reported that they backed into your car. You may want to come with me and exchange insurance information."

Oh for Av—God’s sake. Brynn mentally slapped herself for the near slip. Using Avesta's sake in the presence of a loup garou was as obvious as wearing a t-shirt that said Yes, I'm a Magus Spy. Kill Me.

"Small lot, so it happens once in a while," the man said. Up close, she better saw the resemblance to the cowboy-wannabe in his narrow nose and hooded eyes. However, the slight roundness in his cheekbones and higher forehead showed a more pronounced similarity to Rook. And he was definitely older than the other two. "The auction doesn't start for another forty minutes, if you're worried about missing something."

"No, it's fine," Brynn said, even though it wasn't. The coincidence unnerved her, but she had no choice except to see how this played out.

He stepped to the side. "After you."

She walked to the end of the row of chairs and made her way back toward the auction house entrance, keenly aware of her shadow's presence, and that she'd just turned her back on one of her people's greatest enemies.


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Tour Schedule

July 01 [Insert Clever Quip Here] July 15 Rantings of a Reading Addict
  Pure Textuality July 16 Yummy Men and Kick Ass Chicks
  SnoopyDoo's Book Reviews July 17 Rabid Reads
July 02 Rage, Sex, and Teddy Bears July 18 BookSkater
  Wild Wordy Women   Addicted 2 Heroines
July 03 Booked and Loaded July 21 Paranormal Haven
July 04 MM Jaye Writes July 22 All Things Urban Fantasy
  Toot's Book Reviews   Gizmo's Reviews
July 07 Geeks in High School   Totally Addicted to Reading
July 08 Rhi Reading July 23 Deal Sharing Aunt
July 09 The Book Nympho July 24 Book Lovin' Mamas
July 10 Angel's Guilty Pleasures July 25 Between Dreams and Reality
July 11 Mad Hatter Reads July 28 I Feel the Need, the Need to Read
  Wendy Dawn's Wicked World   Platypire Reviews
July 14 Romancing the Dark Side July 29 Indie Author How-To
  Wicked Women Book Blog July 30 WTF Are You Reading?
July 15 I Smell Sheep   Jami Gray's Blog
    July 31 Tez Says

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: The Shadow Aspect by Melanie Karsak

The Shadow Aspect by Melanie Karsak
Publication date: Summer/Fall 2014
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Young Adult, Zombies





When Layla took the final step through the labyrinth, she knew she was saving the ones she loved.

She couldn’t have been more wrong.


The unwitting victims of a grudge seething for eons, Layla and the other survivors now find themselves in a war for our world. With vampires lurking and shapeshifters plotting vengeance, Layla must learn who to trust if humanity has any hope of survival: the carnie girl? The quiet doctor? The tarot reader? The stranger with alluring gold eyes? Or the man she loves? And then there are the voices. What does it forewarn if the dead can speak?


When the world burns, mankind’s shadow side rises. Do we deserve to survive?



I really love the dark and gritty feel to this cover and that you can’t see the heroine’s face but she still looks pretty kick ass with that katana and those burning skulls behind her! What are your thoughts, will you be adding this to your TBR list?





Melanie Karsak grew up in rural northwestern Pennsylvania where there wasn’t much to do but read books and go for hikes. She wrote her first novel, a gripping piece about a 1920s stage actress, when she was 12. Today, Melanie, a steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and caffeine junkie, lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.


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Reading progress update: I've read 25%.

Black Rook - Kelly Meade, Kelly Meding

Ugh, not another virgin heroine!!! 



Review: Romancing the Rumrunner by Michelle McLean

Romancing the Rumrunner (Entangled Scandalous) - Michelle McLean

Romancing the Rumrunner by Michelle McLean

Genre: Historical Romance 
Published by: Entangled Scandalous on June 9, 2014
Format: eARC
Pages: 253
Source: Publisher

Amazon • Barnes & Noble


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


A sizzling romance filled with speakeasies and secrets set in era of the Roaring Twenties!


Jessica Harlan is a young and independent woman trying to make a living by running the butcher shop which she’s inherited, along with all of her father’s debts. With no husband or family to count on, Jessie leads a double life as a butcher by day and owner of The Red Phoenix, a speakeasy, by night. With prohibition agents tracking her every move Jessica knows it’s only a matter of time before her identity is revealed and club is compromised. Enter Anthony Solomon, an ex-cop turned private investigator looking for redemption from his past. When an old colleague gives Tony the chance to redeem his law enforcement career and earn a handsome paycheck by taking down the infamous Phoenix, he gladly accepts. To uncover the Phoenix’s identity, Tony must “cozy up” to his rumored flame, none other than Jessica Harlan. Tony is determined to do whatever it takes to catch the notorious Phoenix but will he be able to carry out this game of seduction without falling for the beautiful rumrunner?


ROMANCING THE RUMRUNNER is an engaging story that had me hooked from beginning to end. When I read the synopsis of this book I wasted no time in requesting a copy from Entangled Publishing. I love reading about the Roaring Twenties, especially the glamour and bad boys of that era. I’d like blame it on my love for Boardwalk Empire, but I’ve always been fascinated by this time period. Michelle McLean beautifully captures the essence of the 1920s with the story’s Chicago setting and some entertaining slang specific to the time, that had me laughing out loud. Her writing easily transports you to the intriguing world of Prohibition, speakeasies and gangsters!


When Jessie is introduced to the story she seems like a strong willed woman operating two businesses (legally and illegally), but I have to admit I was expecting her to be a bit rougher around the edges, being a female rumrunner and all. Instead I saw a sweet and generous heroine who struggles with confidence but slowly comes into her own after meeting Tony and becoming a singer at The Corkscrew, another speakeasy. Yeah, did I mention her way of checking out the competition is to take a job as a singer at her rival’s club?!


Even when she makes some questionable choices (i.e. like showing Tony her secret stash of hooch), Jessie is still a very relatable heroine. She’s not a damsel in distress, sure she’s had some bad luck with men and has a few trust issues, but is completely independent and trying to right the wrongs of her father for a better life. Her hidden talent is her singing voice and while I loved that the author showcases this aspect to her personality in the story, I thought it could have been fleshed out a little more. While singing at The Corkscrew her lyrics are described to be very sultry but we never actually know what she’s signing, only that Tony does not approve, which is something I’ll vent about later.


The hero, Tony is both charming and frustrating in my opinion. He has a few demons from his past, nothing that makes him a real bad boy in my eyes but he definitely makes up for it with his charming personality and gentlemanly ways. He knows just what to say to make Jessie blush and I loved watching the attraction and mistrust that ensues between these two. Tony’s possessiveness with Jessie at The Corkscrew was his only major flaw in my book, don’t get me wrong I love an alpha male but I just feel that it was uncalled for given the situation. He hires her to sing at his club and then gets on her case for doing just that, I didn’t buy the whole “you’re going to drive all the men crazy” act when that was her job! I thought Jessie never gave him reason to feel she was interested in someone else but him, but after learning of his past with his ex who cheated on him, I could understand (but not approve) his behavior. That being said, I think they made a really cute couple when it was all said and done. You can argue that they initially deceived each other for their own gain but it just makes their romance that much interesting. I was hoping for more smexy times behind closed doors because of their intense chemistry, but there’s a lot of kissing and touching before any real action happens towards the book’s end (but it happens).


All in all, ROMANCING THE RUMRUNNER is a delightful story with well developed characters, romance and a dose of suspense. Tony and Jessie’s escapades will keep you turning the pages and their sweet romance make it an effortless read. There’s also one supporting character worth mentioning that I think shines throughout the story and that’s Miss Maude, Jessie’s sassy best friend and singer at The Red Phoenix, she’s fabulous! This is my first book by the author and Michelle McClean has won me over with her bootlegger heroine and charming P.I. hero, I can’t wait to read more of her work. Whether you long for a story set in a different time or are looking for a great beach read with a little steam to it, you’ll be sure to think ROMANCING THE RUMRUNNER is the cat’s meow!




Reading progress update: I've read 15%.

Black Rook - Kelly Meade, Kelly Meding

Bishop, Rook and's that for original names? :)

Early Review: Vampire Trouble (Dead in the City #2) by Sara Humphreys

Vampire Trouble - Sara  Humphreys

Vampire Trouble by Sara Humphreys 
Series: Dead in the City #2 
Genre: Paranormal Romance 
Published by: Sourcebooks Casablanca on July 1, 2014
Format: eARC
Pages: 320
Source: NetGalley

Purchase: Amazon • Barnes & Noble


This book may be unsuitable for readers under 18 years of age due to one or more of the following: strong sexual content, language, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.


Sara Humphreys delivers another page turner with this fantastic sequel!


The Dead in the City series continues with VAMPIRE TROUBLE which features the sexy, brooding vampire sentry Shane Quesada and the feisty baby vamp Maya Robertson. Shane is a centuries old vampire who prefers immersing himself in his job as sentry for the vampire Czars of NYC, Olivia and Doug. His love life is non-existent and he’s given up all hope of finding his true mate until he sets eyes on the young and rebellious Maya. Shane’s instantly driven by a need to be her protector, but that need becomes stronger when Maya gets herself mixed up with a werewolf Alpha that has serious consequences. When her coven is forced to go to war with the werewolves in their city, Maya has no choice but to trust Shane and take the handsome vampire up on his offer of protection. With the looming threat of war, Maya and Shane must leave town and head to Louisiana, where things between the two get just as hot as the weather down in New Orleans.


I absolutely love Sara Humphreys NYC vamps! In my eyes they’re the perfect mix of dark and romantic while still keeping true to some of the original vampire myths I’ve grown up on. One of my favorite elements to this series is the whole “destined mates” angle which I’ve seen mostly in the werewolf genre, but feel Sara seamlessly ties this into the story line without overdoing it. Finding your bloodmate also comes with some supernatural perks that are unique to each couple (i.e. day walking and telepathy with their mate) which I find fascinating. Sometimes the mating factor makes for an insta-romance but that’s not the case with the couples in this series, most of the pairings are unexpected and the relationships have a few hurdles to overcome before the happy ending, which is how I like it.


From the moment Maya and Shane met, I knew their story would be entertaining and sweet. Shane Quesada starts off as your typical alpha male soldier, he’s old, stubborn, guarded and loyal to his vampire coven. When he unexpectedly finds himself in a dream state reliving Maya’s last moments as a human one night, Shane knows there’s more than meets the eye to the snarky bartender and soon starts believing she might just be his bloodmate. When Shane reveals all of this to Maya she freaks out and refuses to believe she’s to spend eternity with the ancient overprotective vampire, so she does what she does best, rebels, getting herself into trouble with some dangerous weres.


The relationship between Maya and Shane isn’t all rainbows and roses but that’s what makes these two so endearing. You have the emotionally unavailable Shane and the independent, flirty Maya who has experienced some trauma in her old life but refuses to let anyone tell her what to do in her immortal life. As the book progresses we learn Maya was a victim of a brutal sexual assault that left her dead and ultimately led to her turning. I’m not a huge fan of this kind of violence in my books, but I think the author handles this topic in a manner that’s not graphic and traumatizing to the reader.


Both Maya and Shane are equally as stubborn but experience a sense of growth when they’re together that probably would not have occurred otherwise. I really fell in love with Shane’s character when he learns of Maya’s past and tries to comfort her and overcome her fear. Their flirty banter is fun to watch, but it was the tender moments between Shane and Maya that solidified their romance for me, it felt organic. As for the smexy factor, when it happens it’s off the charts HOT…Maya and Shane are perfect together and I couldn’t get enough of them!


VAMPIRE TROUBLE delivers a page turning read with non-stop action, romance and a fair share of twists and turns with a few sweet surprises! While this book focuses mostly on Maya and Shane’s story, we get to revisit some familiar faces from Tall, Dark, and Vampire, see what’s happened with them since their story and meet some new faces, including the werewolves. I know I shouldn’t have favorites within the series, but I might have enjoyed Shane and Maya’s book a little more because of the constant suspense and their impromptu road trip down South. I have a hint of who the next couple will be and can’t wait to see what Ms. Humphreys has in store for said vamp and werewolf, I’m a sucker for a forbidden romance! I’d highly recommend this series to vampire lovers (like myself) or Paranormal Romance junkies, you won’t be disappointed with this refreshing new world and the NYC vamps.



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



Release Day Blast: NIGHT'S END by Yasmine Galenorn

Welcome to the Release Day Celebration for the finale of Yasmine Galenorn's Indigo Court series!! NIGHT'S END releases TODAY, and will conclude our journey with Cicely, Grieve, Rhiannon, and the rest of their friends as they battle to end Myst and defeat her army of vampiric fae.


NightsEnd521Eons ago, vampires tried to turn the dark Fae in order to harness their magic, only to create a demonic enemy more powerful than they could have imagined. Now, in a final push, Myst returns with a vengeance to bring the Golden Wood forever under the rule of the Indigo Court.


Newly crowned Fae Queens Cicely and Rhiannon have embraced their destinies and claimed their thrones. But Myst is rising once more, and now, at the helm of her armies, she begins her final assault on the Golden Wood.


As Fae, vampires, and magic-born alike fall under the tide of blood, Cicely and her friends must discover a way to destroy the spidery queen before they—and their people—face total annihilation.


Preorder Night's End from  Amazon Order Night's End Order Night's End Order Night's End Order Night's End Order Night's End Order Night's End Order Night's End Order Night's End



   Check out the playlist and read the first chapter of NIGHT'S END here!


For a chance to win a prize basket including a KINDLE PAPERWHITE and other goodies from Yasmine Galenorn, follow the NIGHT'S END blog tour this week and enter at each tour stop!




Sunday, June 29th

Post: The Qwillery

Review: Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews


Monday, June 30th

Post: Books Make Me Happy

Review: Saints & Sinners Books


Tuesday, July 1st

Post: Vampire Book Club

Review: Coffee, Books, Life Blog

Live Chat: Coffee Time Romance


Wednesday, July 2nd

Post: Paranormal Book Club

Review: Little Read Riding Hood


Thursday, July 3rd

Post: Literary Escapism

Review: Books That Hook


Friday, July 4th

Post: Herding Cats & Burning Soup

Review: Kelly Smith Reviews


Saturday, July 5th

Post: Reading Between The Wines Book Club

Review: Indy Book Fairy


Appearance / Booksigning: Seattle Mystery Bookshop 12pm - 1:30pm




If you're new to the Indigo Court, you can check out some info about the series at these links:


Indigo Court overview

NIGHT MYST blurb, playlist, 1st chapter

NIGHT VEIL blurb, playlist, 1st chapter

NIGHT SEEKER blurb, playlist, 1st chapter

NIGHT VISION blurb, playlist, 1st chapter



Reading progress update: I've listened 693 out of 693 minutes.

Ruthless - Anne Stuart

Even though the ending wrapped up too quickly for me this was an enjoyable read! 

Reading progress update: I've listened 350 out of 693 minutes.

Ruthless - Anne Stuart

I don't feel one bit of sympathy for Elinor's mother...what a bitch! And I've just about had enough of every man's reaction to Lydia's beauty...ok she's pretty I get it! 




Win a Custom Booklikes Design from Parajunkee Design

Reblogged from Parajunkee:


It is that time again! Time for a chance to PIMP your booklikes blog. You know you want it!!!


Win a Custom Booklikes Blog Desgin



ust enter the giveaway using the hand-dandy rafflecopter widget. Check below for all the deets.


Extra bit of awesome. If this giveaway reaches 1900K entries - (there were 1899 entries on last giveaway) another winner will be added. That means two people will have their booklikes blog pimped. Here is hoping, right? If I only get 100 entries, I will form a support group for rejected designers. Anyone can join...


The rafflecopter widget does not show in Booklikes dashboard so click the button below or the title of this post:





a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Winner 2

Winner 3


Design Giveaway Deets:


  • $150 Value
  • Contest ends 07/07/2014 12am CST
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  • Design will be installed by me, but I will need access to your booklikes account
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  • If entries pass 1900k another booklikes design will be added.

DNF Review: Ghouls Rush In (Peyton Clark #1) by H.P. Mallory

Ghouls Rush In - H.P. Mallory

Ghouls Rush In by H.P. Mallory
Series: Peyton Clark #1 
Genre: Paranormal Romance 
Published by: Montlake Romance on May 20, 2014
Format: eARC
Pages: 269
Source: NetGalley 
Purchase: Amazon • Barnes & Noble


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


I’ll start off this review by saying that I very rarely mark a book DNF, I think I’ve only done it twice before this book so that says a lot.


H.P. Mallory is not a new to me author, I’ve read most of the books in her Dulcie O’ Neil series. She tends to write lighter paranormal romances with plenty of humor which I enjoy reading from time to time. I didn’t love every book in that series but was hoping GHOULS RUSH IN would be a totally different reading experience after reading its description. When I saw this book up on NetGalley I requested it thinking it would be a fun and flirty read, just what I wanted after reading a few “darker” books in other genres. Needless to say that’s not what I got. I really tried to like this book but after 100 plus pages I couldn’t deal with its repetitiveness.


I liked the idea of this story when I first read the synopsis but unfortunately only got halfway through the book so that’s what I’m going to talk about.


GHOULS RUSH IN begins with Peyton Clark moving from Los Angeles after divorcing her controlling husband and learning she’s inherited a house from a great aunt she never knew, in the Garden District of New Orleans. Starting a new life, she moves into her new home only to find out it’s in need of many repairs. Her sexy neighbor Ryan shows up on her doorstep one night to check on her during a storm who just happens to be a pretty well known retired contractor specializing in restoring historic homes. The two hit it off instantly and with a little push from Ryan’s sister, Peyton convinces Ryan to manage her new home’s renovation.


This story starts off slow and never picked up for me. There is a lot of time spent on Peyton moving in and interactions with Ryan, to the point where I questioned why this was even labeled paranormal in the first place, “where are the ghosts?” I kept thinking to myself. World building is important to a story but I felt it was not as necessary in this book. In the 100+ pages I read there was no sign of ghosts, spirits or anything supernatural which I thought was the main element to this story. There was more dialogue and less action which isn’t always bad but I really didn’t feel invested in the characters enough to enjoy their conversations, especially when every sentence is followed by an exclamation point. I couldn’t decide whether they were super excited or yelling at each other!



Peyton is very immature for being a grown woman who just got divorced, she acts like a cat in heat when it comes to Ryan which was the product of multiple eye rolls from me while reading. Ryan seemed to good to be true in my eyes and I didn’t get how an accomplished man like him could fall head over heels for Peyton’s “high school” charms. Not sure if these two every actually “get together” but I skimmed a few reviews on Goodreads and no one mentions any nookie between them so I’m guessing the romance was PG-13, not typical for this author.


The insta-lust between Peyton and Ryan wasn’t a big seller for me and then there is the constant use of the same word over and over. How many times can a girl read the words “he chuckled” before throwing a book (or ereader) across the room?! Ah, yes…we’ve arrived to my major pet peeve with this book, the infamous chuckling.


I don’t claim to be a writer, but I do know how to use a thesaurus from my many high school and college term papers. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word chuckle I either think of a giddy teenage girl or Scooby Doo. I don’t know any men who chuckle or find that particularly attractive but that’s just me. Now before you get on my case hear me out, this wouldn’t have been a big deal for me if it was mentioned a few times, but the author has a love for this word. Not only was it one of her go-to descriptions of her male character’s laughs in previous books, the word chuckled pops up at least 48 times in this book, yes, I actually did a search on my NOOK and got six pages to search, no kidding! (See photo –>) I really feel the author dropped the ball on this one.






Although it’s no secret GHOULS RUSH IN didn’t work for me, it might work for some readers. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to try a light romance with some humor and a slight touch of the paranormal. I honestly don’t know if my tastes in books have changed since I started blogging or if I’ve just been spoiled after reading some phenomenal books in this genre but I just couldn’t get myself to make it to the end. My feelings towards this book won’t prevent me from reading more of H.P.’s future writing but I don’t think I’ll be giving the Peyton Clark series another chance any time soon.


Do you write reviews for DNF books? I’d love to hear your thoughts!




Reading progress update: I've listened 252 out of 693 minutes.

Ruthless - Anne Stuart

I can't wait until these two actually get it on, if it's as good as their banter it's going to be great! 


Reading progress update: I've listened 175 out of 693 minutes.

Ruthless - Anne Stuart

Smexy time in a coach...I knew I'd enjoy this book! 

Reading progress update: I've listened 140 out of 693 minutes.

Ruthless - Anne Stuart

I think Viscount Rohan has met his match in Elinor, she's a feisty one! #JIABM2014

Reading progress update: I've read 100 out of 269 pages.

Ghouls Rush In - H.P. Mallory

Well, I gave it a shot but this one is a DNF for me. I tried my best to like it but it was too much like her other past series I gave up on. Couldn't connect with the characters, 100 pages in and no sign of anything paranormal happening and the straw that broke the camel's back.... my "he chuckled" count for the entire book (yes, I did a word search on my NOOK) was 44! WTH?  Sometimes you just have to move on...


Reading progress update: I've read 50 out of 269 pages.

Ghouls Rush In - H.P. Mallory

Oh, H.P. Mallory, just when I think you stopped using the word chuckle in your books it pops back up in a new series...WTH? Stop it with the men who's not cute! #frustrated


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