Saturday, February 25, 2017

Steamy Saturday: Phoenix Rising Review

Welcome to Unabridged Andra's Steamy Saturday!
This is a weekly feature designed to explore the amazing world of Steampunk! If you don't know what that is, strap on your goggles boys and girls because we're about to take a Sci-Fi ride unlike any other. Typically set during the Victorian era of England or the Old West period of America, Steampunk is a side branch of Science Fiction that wonders...What if electricity never took off and the world remained powered by steam? The spirit of adventure, invention, and exploration that pervaded these time periods are often major themes in Steampunk stories, making this genre one of the most exciting and inventive out there! Each week here on Unabridged Andra's, we will be hosting a review, guest post, giveaway, or cosplay discussion revolving around the world of Steampunk! Remember to link up reviews, posts, and inventions that you've found so that everyone can explore and go visit other blogs full of Steamy Goodness! Feel free to check out A History of Steampunk and the A-Z of Steampunk to get a more in-depth approach, otherwise Full Steam Ahead!   
Title: Phoenix Rising
Author: Bryony Pearce
Series: Phoenix #1
Pages: 368
Date Published: 2015
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Format: Kindle
Genre: YA Steampunk/Distopia
Source: Sky Pony Press


Sail. Salvage. Repeat.
For as long as Toby can remember, he and his father have sailed on the Phoenix, salvaging from the junk-filled seas to stay afloat, while keeping under the radar of the authorities. His father is, after all, a wanted man. And now the Phoenix is on the trail of the ultimate prize, a salvage of solar panels that could mean they’ll never need to hunt for fuel again.

Ayla is second-in-command on the rival Banshee, where she’s trained her whole life to fight—just as her mother, Captain Nell, demands. Since childhood, Ayla’s been taught the Phoenix must be destroyed. And now they have the ship in their sights. And they’re desperate to have their precious intel, too.

Toby’s sick of a life at sea, and Ayla may be his only hope. Can he turn an old feud into a new alliance that will save both their skins?
~My Thoughts~
As an avid reader, I have the opportunity of reading many, many books. This is a great problem to have; I don't deny that. However, when you're reading anywhere from 2-5 books a week for fun, plus 1-2 per week for work, it takes a really strong showing for a book to really stand out and keep your attention. Phoenix Rising was that book for me.

Bryony Pierce doesn't waste time in setting the scene, as we start out with a spotlight on our MC Toby in the place he feels most at home; the boiler room on the salvage ship the Phoenix. As he struggles to fix a steam leak we're given a lot of recap and character history, all mixed together with a lot of complicated steam-related science. Add in an exciting salvage project and the potential for enemy pirates stealing their prize, you get a TON of action in the first half of the book. 

For a short while, I felt lost against the plot. It seemed as though I alone didn't understand what was happening, as the book kept chugging along and almost didn't let me catch up. There were a ton of characters, and it's sort of a pro/con that everyone had a backstory and life of their own. It made it hard to suss out the primary characters from the secondary, but I suppose that's a good thing. It means that even if they were C-list characters you got to know them by name and started to care for them (or hate them) just a little bit. I admit that I was overwhelmed; however, if you stick with it and keep going, your brain patches together a whose-who of the motley salvage crew and you really start enjoying them as the family they are.  

As this is a Young Adult book, you can bet your clockwork a** that there's going to be a star-crossed love interest! Enter Ayla, the second-in-command of the Banshee, whose captain will stop at nothing to seek revenge upon the captain of the Phoenix. As opposed to Romeo/Juliet stories as I pretend to be am, Ayla was a very powerful character. She's larger-than-life, kicks butt better than the boys, and is positively lethal with a knife. No wonder Toby falls for her, especially as she's the first girl his age he's ever met. Without giving you too many details, their story gets predictably sappy and full of teenaged angst at the end of the book after a particularly gut-wrenching twist, but in spite of the melodrama, I enjoyed seeing their relationship grow as the plot continued to charge forward around them.  

I took a look at some other reader's reviews for Phoenix Rising and found that the main complaint was about the technology being too technical and confusing. Well...those ladies must not have read much steampunk, because most of the technology, gears, steam-boilers, Artificial Intelligence, etc. is not uncommon in really any other steampunk book I've read. I felt that the pseudo-science that Pierce applied to her tech was very believable. I mean, we are looking at a futuristic wasteland. The combination of industrial technologies with solar and computer tech was interesting and fun,  and did a great job of setting the scene as this poisonous, trashy wasteland. 
I am giving Phoenix Rising a resounding 4.5 Keys! The world-building was astoundingly and realistically crafted to show a world that could very easily be ours one day. I docked a few points because near the end, the suspense between Toby and Ayla turned got too melodramatic for my tastes, as well as those few key details kept from me as a reader at the beginning of the book, but overall Phoenix Rising is a wonderful adventure. There's action, battle, a mystery, and a clear future for this story as a series. I for one cannot wait for book two to come out! 

Next week's Topic: REVIEW of Toru: Wayfarer Returns

Are you an author of a fantastic Steam-themed book? Are you a reader or follower who has read a groundbreaking Steampunk novel and wants me to read it too? Let me know!  Feel free to contact me at, because I am ALWAYS looking for new books to read! If you have written a book with Steampunk characters or themes, you can be featured on Steamy Saturday in an interview, giveaway or guest post. Just let me know what you would have time for, and we will get things rolling!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Review Tour: In Pursuit of Paradise (+$25 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: In Pursuit of Paradise
Author: Kate Randle
Series: N/A
Date Published: 2017
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Format: Kindle
Genre: Romance
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
Buy Me!

Ship captain Nicholas Becket knows he needs to change his playboy ways. And when he discovers beautiful divorcee Lily Kingston at a job fair for his cruise line, he thinks he has found someone who can reform him.

Lily is looking for a change of her own but she isn’t prepared for Nick and all of his baggage. Not to mention her own scars from the recent past. Although she is fiercely attracted to the handsome and dashing millionaire, an unexpected event threatens to tear them apart forever.

Can this pair of lost souls overcome the stormy waters of life’s ups and downs in order to find their true paradise?

~My Thoughts~
Nick and Lily were really great leads. You definitely believe their love story, and although it develops quickly you never doubt how much they care for each other or the passion that sizzles between them. 

The beachy island-like setting makes for a perfect escape from any bad weather you may be experiencing. It's a lovely get away from regular life that has you falling into our playboy's arms and imagining sipping fruity cocktails on the beach. 

The complications keeping these two are mostly self-inflicted, which can get frustrating at times. You just want to make them sit down and hash out their baggage so they can be happy, but that provides the delicious tension that keeps them at bay for a little while. 

In Pursuit of Paradise is a classic romance with lots of seductive moments, a bit of conflict, and a satisfying conclusion for all involved. If you're a romance fan, you'll have a hard time not liking this one. 
~Try an Excerpt!~
She was staring at a large poster of the ship as she was walking when without warning, she crashed head on into something, no someone. During her stumble backwards, her purse and portfolio went flying, scattering her resume, notes, and other papers everywhere. A strong arm reached around her waist, steadying her. 

“Oh, I’m so sorry…” Lily said as she looked up into the most beautiful piercing blue eyes she had ever seen. They were the color of a clear sparkling ocean. The arm around her waist was firm and muscular, radiating heat. She was so close to him, she could smell the spicy scent of his aftershave, and her stomach tightened with embarrassment or lust, she couldn’t tell which. She was a bit dizzy from the sudden rush of sensory input. Trying in vain to regain her composure, she tried to speak but couldn’t find her voice. Heat rose in her face, and her cheeks were no doubt bright red as they often were when she was embarrassed like she was at this moment. 

“No, it’s my fault.” His voice was deep and very sexy. “I wasn’t looking where I was going. Here, let me help you pick up your papers.” He loosened his grip on her waist, and when she was standing upright again, he released her. As the tall stranger bent down and gathered her things, Lily stared, dumbfounded. This man was gorgeous and wearing some kind of naval uniform. He had short blond hair. What would it be like to run her hands through it? Could the strands be as silky soft as she imagined? She shook her head and tried to focus.
~Meet Kate!~
After writing more essays than she could count completing her university studies, Kate Randle decided to swap out the world of academic prose for something more exciting, romance novels.
Her contemporary books encompass many of the things she loves: the beach, the ocean and of course handsome heroes. Kate lives near Toronto, Ontario with her own handsome hero, her husband Jason and her two children. Two adorable rescue felines round out her family to keep things interesting and covered in cat hair.

In addition to her debut novel In Pursuit of Paradise which is will be released in January 2017, Kate is currently working on a new contemporary romance about an iconic Canadian rock band.
Kate will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Review Tour: Realm of the Dragon (+$10 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Realm of the Dragon
Author: Cici Cordelia
Series: NA
Pages: 214
Date Published: 2017
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Format: Kindle
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours

An ancient legend spanning eras, continents, and worlds. To some, it’s nothing more than a dream. To others, a pretty fairy tale handed down through the generations.

For those in critical need of their own happy ending, a gift. For sheltered Lily Kiers, it’s all too real. Her escape from danger, straight into the arms of her destiny.

Thrust into a realm made of fantasy and unbridled passion, Lily faces violent resentment and jealousy from extremely powerful enemies. Amidst fierce creatures whose very existence defy all common sense, Lily pieces together a past she could never have imagined. Claimed by Kord, Prince of Battle Draconian, their love will not be denied, even as malevolent forces plot to rip them apart.

~My Thoughts~
I haven't been keeping up to date with all the dragon fantasy that's been flying around, but I really felt like this one set a standard for others to follow. 

I felt that the world building was good, though it could have used some more polishing and fleshing out. I had a lot of unanswered questions about the dragon society and how Kord was viewed by the rest of the populace. I really liked the fantastic elements of the world though, such as the tree that unites and protects soul mates. 

Overall the romance was a good portion of the book. Lily is sweet and a bit naive, Kord is dangerous and passionate, providing all the ingredients for a romantic interlude. Their dialogue was definitely a fun and favorite part of the story for me. It bounced around lightning-quick and I found myself engrossed in their romance. 
~Try an Excerpt!~
Free to ponder, as his mother had urged, Kord shook off the troublesome feeling of being torn in several directions. He knew his parents worried, and he couldn’t avoid the inevitability of choice much longer. 

Royals had strict duty to family and kingdom. Kord’s mate had been near her time of majority when he’d traveled to Anglican to meet her. The kingdom in an uproar, her tearful parents had met him with the devastating news of her death. Instead of a joyous announcement of impending joining, he’d returned to Draconian alone. 

His dragon had been uncharacteristically silent since that fateful day, and Kord missed his beast’s conversation.

Enough, he thought bitterly, saddened and angered by the loss of a mate he never knew.

Refusing to dwell on things he couldn’t control, he cleared his mind of the memories and dove lower, seeking what enjoyment he could muster from the day.

Suddenly, something dropped onto his back, between his wingspan. 

Something cold and soft. 

Something that had limbs . . . and smelled unfamiliar. Not of this realm.

“What the demon?” He banked quickly as he felt the lightweight, chilled lump slide precariously to the left. Worried it might fall—whatever it was—Kord maneuvered gingerly, until he could descend safely into an open pasture.

He touched down lightly over the bumpy ground-scrub, careful to avoid jostling his unknown burden, turned his head to glance behind him . . .

And stared disbelieving at a vision from a dream. 
~Meet Cici!~
CiCi Cordelia is the pen name for the writing team of BFFs Char Chaffin and Cheryl Yeko.

Published authors in their own right and Acquiring Editors, they share a love for well-written stories infused with their favorite romantic genres: paranormal, suspense, and erotica. Both are fans of Alpha Men and the women they’d lay down their lives for.

As a writing team they bring a solid know-how for accomplishing the foundation of what makes a great romance read: a strong story, a passionate romance, fascinating characters, and a happy-ever-after ending.
Cici will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Eye Candy Book Blast! (+$20 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Eye Candy
Author: Pauline Allan
Series: N/A
Pages: 56
Date Published: 2015
Publisher: Sinful Escapes
Format: Kindle
Genre: LGBT Romance 
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
Buy Me! - only $0.99 during the tour! 

Gavin Rossi is one sexy piece of Eye Candy wrapped in a tight body and sweet smile. The hot breath on his neck, the mesmerizing rhythm as he rolls his hips, the strong chest rising and falling beneath his hands make for a distraction he’s terrified to see play out.

When Dutch Williamson feels a set of perfectly sculpted thighs slipping over his lap, the last thing his liquor-hazed brain registers is this is my future. The tempting piece of Eye Candy grinding on his lap is going to cut him at the knees, and he knows it.This is a dance. This is a tease. God, this is so much more.
~Try an Excerpt!~
Gavin stood by the marble-top island. “We need to discuss rent.” He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his faded jeans. “Between the two jobs, I can pay you something. I don’t expect a handout. I need to do my part.”

Everything had turned upside down. Being alone and content no longer counted for anything good in his life. Once again, the privileges of his birth were humbling. He shut the door. The guy had pride. Fighting the urge to pull those sexy hips into his hands, he passed the island and looked over his shoulder. “You coming? You can pick which room you want and…we’ll discuss the logistics in the morning when you come to the restaurant for your interview.”

He stopped, giving Gavin time to catch up at the staircase.

“You were serious, weren’t you? I um, I really didn’t expect you to offer me a job. I figured I could get a good night’s sleep, you’d wake up and regret asking me to be a tenant, and I’d have to take off, but now it feels different.”

Dutch stopped when they reached the top of the stairs. “I told you, you’re safe with me. If you stay around, you’ll see I’m telling the truth. Every bedroom has a lock. Use it if you feel you need to, but know it’s your space, and I’ll respect that.”

Gavin took the bag to sling it over his shoulder. “What if I don’t want to lock the door?”

Well hell. “Then I’ll need to lock mine.”
~Meet Pauline!~
 Pauline lives in the Midwest with her hero husband, two handsome boys, one ornery cat, and a lovely Pitbull. She enjoys writing erotic romance for all readers. From MM contemporary romance series to LGBT fairytales, Pauline shares stories that she holds close to her heart. By day Pauline is a special care baby registered nurse and by night a hopeless romantic. She loves to travel to New Orleans twice a year to recharge her creative battery and enjoy a bag full of powdered sugar covered beignets.
Pauline will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Casket Girl +($15 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Casket Girl
Series: Mystic Series #2
Pages: 271
Date Published: 2017
Publisher: N/A
Format: Kindle
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
Buy Me!

All he wants is to find a killer...

FBI Special Agent Josh Blake has seen some bizarre cases in his day. His latest case is one for the record books. He has multiple homicides, corpses drained of every ounce of blood, and no suspects. When rumors surface that the French Quarter may be hiding an insidious monster bent on drenching the streets in dead bodies, he must suspend logic and place his trust in the mystical.

She wants a fresh start...

Isabelle Toussánt left her family home in the bayou five year ago, cutting all ties with her abusive whiskey swilling stepfather, to forge a new life in the French Quarter. Now a successful business owner of Madam Toussánt’s Mystical Gifts in Jackson Square, and a Seer with voodoo roots. The foundation of her new life shatters when one of her employee’s winds up dead and she is dragged into a deadly game where she becomes the target of a serial killer.

A passion neither expected...

Determined to stop the brutal slayings, Josh must rely on the beautiful Isabelle who makes him question everything he has ever known about life and death all while surrendering to a desire hotter than a Bayou night. When Isabelle disappears without a trace, with tourists flocking to the party capital for Halloween, and the body count continues to mount, Josh will be forced to push beyond the boundaries of what he thinks is possible and rescue the woman he loves before it's too late.
~Try an Excerpt!~
“Miss Toussánt.” Captain Tremayne addressed her above the din and chaos. She swung around, her long dark hair, the silky wave of it, shimmering and rippling as she faced the captain. Josh took one look at Miss Isabelle Toussánt and felt like a thoroughbred had just kicked him in the stomach. She was exotic, with caramel skin and looking taut and lean in her formfitting tank that displayed delicate arms. He sucked in a sharp breath when she glanced at the captain. Cat eyes. The mahogany color reminded Josh of his chestnut mare as a child, Daisy. They were framed by black brows. One of them was currently raised in his direction as she spoke to the captain. “Yes, Captain Tremayne? Can I interest you in a cup of coffee?” Her voice reminded him of a shot of smooth, single malt whiskey. “Miss Toussánt, this is Agent Josh Blake with the FBI. He has some questions, if you’re up for them.” A wounded shadow passed through her magnetic eyes for a moment before she shifted her gaze toward him. The unabridged effect of her stare was electric and compelling, until he found himself immersed in her eyes. Unexpected lust zinged along his spine, not that he would give in to the temptation she presented, but his body resonated with the siren’s call her body echoed. “Agent, can I interest you in some coffee?” She held up a glass carafe of steaming brew, already half empty. “Not right now, Miss Toussánt. Thank you for the offer, though,” he murmured gently but firmly. It smelled like heaven, but he didn’t want to coddle her. She needed to understand he was in charge and would dig into her background no matter how sweetly her hips swished as she walked. “Please call me Isabelle,” she offered with a slight smile, but it didn’t spread to her eyes. No amount of coffee or alcohol would erase the vision of death. He knew what that first time was like, though, the horror of it, the way it twisted your insides. Seeing for the first time how fragile life truly was made you face your own mortality. And, more important, you began to understand that some individuals just wanted to watch the world burn. “Is there somewhere we can talk privately?” he asked, assessing her response, both verbal and non-verbal, ignoring the intense desire churning in his gut as he studied her. If there was one thing Miss Toussánt was, it was off-limits. It didn’t matter how long it had been since he’d done the horizontal tango. If there was one thing he was strictly by the book on, it was that he never blurred the lines in a case. The evidence either convicted a person or set them free. As it was, she was a witness to a horrific murder, possibly more. There was something off about her that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. The way her eyes darted nervously around, and she kept wetting her pouty bottom lip. It could be signs of trauma and shock from discovering the body, or it could be she was hiding something. Perhaps she’d witnessed the incident and feared the killer would come back for her if he knew. “Certainly, follow me.” Isabelle returned the carafe to the coffeemaker, wiped her palms along her skirt and nodded toward a doorway in the far corner. He would have followed her into hell if it meant listening to her sultry voice some more and siphoning whatever information she had on this case.
~Meet Maggie!~ 
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Maggie grew up listening to Cardinals baseball and reading anything she could get her hands on. She remembers her mother saying if only she would read the right type of books instead binging her way through the romance aisles at the bookstore, she’d have been a doctor. While Maggie never did get that doctorate, she graduated cum laude from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with an M.A. in History.
Maggie is a bestselling and award-winning author published in multiple fiction genres. She also writes erotic romance under the name Anya Summers. A total geek at her core, when she is not writing, she adores attending the latest comic con or spending time with her family. She currently lives in the Midwest with her two furry felines.

Maggie will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Monday, February 13, 2017

REVIEW: Lost Treasures of the Heart (+$10 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Lost Treasures of the Heart
Author: Charlie Most 
Author: Charlene Keel
Date Published: 2015
Format: Kindle
Genre: Historical Paranormal 
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
Buy Me!

Architect Jonathan West is on a big project when he learns his wife has been unfaithful. On a fishing trip in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, he’s wondering what to do about his marriage when he sees a ghost ship. On it is a spectral woman, gazing at him with a plea in her eyes.

Jonathan buys a house on the beach near the sighting and finds an old sea chest washed up there. Its contents, including a miniature portrait, reveal that it belonged to Kate Russell, captain of the Royal Thomas, which sank in 1721.

It’s the same woman Jonathan saw on the ghost ship, and her journal describes in her own words a life of piracy and sweeping romance. As past and present collide, he starts seeing her everywhere, waking and sleeping. With a haunting desperation, he senses she wants something from him. If he can figure it out and find a way to help her, he believes her spirit will finally rest.
~My Thoughts~
Keeping in trend with the latest upsweep in time-crossed romances, Lost Treasures of the Heart follows the grain by creating a story in which transports through time allow two people who should never have met to fall into the deepest and sweetest of loves. As Twilight evoked an upswell of vampire romances, time travel romance is the new romance du jour, and this story fits right in among that genre for readers that are looking for something similar once they finish up Claire and Jaime's adventurous romps through the moors.

One thing that sets this book apart, is that it's set in modern times, bringing the time traveler forward. So I guess it's more Kate & Leopold. I really loved how the suspenseful mystery unravels with Jonathan struggling to discover the truth behind the mysterious, spectral, pirate woman he's seeing all around the town. He's a smart character, and you can just feel his energy and compulsion to figure things out.

One thing that bugged me a little as I read through the story was that descriptions were a little generic. I felt as though attributes and details were glossed over in a way where you got a kind of sketch of the imagery, setting, and background, but it wasn't fully fleshed out or fully colorized or something. For example, when Jonathan was reminiscing about a football stadium he built, he didn't mention what team, or what state/city, wasting a valuable opportunity to help set the tone and setting of the moment. The same sorts of missed opportunities occurred throughout the book, making me really wish I could see a more descriptive image of where I was.

The plot drove forward quickly and effortlessly. I really enjoyed myself as the ride went along, and would happily read another book by Charlie and Charlene. 

~Try an Excerpt!~
There was something about the place that connected with him the moment he stepped inside.  He couldn’t have described it.  He just . . . liked it.  It felt right.  It was the right house.  The house he wanted.  The house that wanted him.  As soon as the thought occurred to him, he realized how bizarre it was.

Dinner was delicious—steak, shrimp and some of the fish they’d caught the day before, all grilled to perfection.  The men laughed and joked and told tall tales about previous experiences out at sea, trying to ignore the fury of the storm.  Finally, the weather settled down a bit.  Jonathan decided to turn in.

After he’d brushed his teeth and packed his bags, he went out on the deck for one more lung full of ocean air.  The rain had become a gentle mist, although dark clouds still roiled in the sky above.  Jim, Mike and Tim were on the deck too, smoking cigars and sipping bourbon.  After exchanging a few words, each man drifted into his own private thoughts, looking beyond the beach, out at the tempestuous sea.

Suddenly thunder boomed louder than Jonathan had ever heard it.  There was a bright flash of lightning and a volley of huge raindrops pounded the deck and the men standing there.  They took shelter beneath the big umbrella so they could watch the storm.  Rain poured from the sky like a waterfall for a minute or so and then, as suddenly as it had started, it stopped.  The moon came out, full and bright, and as it dipped through the departing clouds it rendered some of the most beautiful colors Jonathan had ever seen—silver, white, violet and dark navy blue with touches of pink at the edges.  The three men went to the porch railing and gazed out at the eerie stillness.

As the moon climbed in an inky sky, a mist rose from the sea and for a moment Jonathan felt an almost transcendent calm steal over him.  Stars were beginning to dot the night canopy and he stared into the distance, out at the horizon.

And what he saw there made him draw in his breath and hold it for a moment.

Patches of mist and fog drifted, separated, came together and separated again.  The moon reflected off the surface of the water and shone through the mist, making it sparkle like diamonds.  Then it separated once more, for just a few seconds, and in the distance he saw a dark shadow drifting slowly, gliding across the surface of the water.  It entered a patch of moonlight and he could see it clearly, sharply outlined in the glow.  It was a ship—and he saw a woman standing on the bow.  Like the ship, she was from another era—one long since passed.  Her vessel was old and square-rigged, and its sails were unfurled to capture the wind.  There was something about it—and about the woman—that was achingly familiar.  As if he should know it.  As if he should know her.

She turned then, and he got a glimpse of her pale face and long red hair.

And her eyes.

She looked directly into his, her own glinting in the moonlight with unshed tears.  Her gaze was full of sorrow.  He had never seen eyes so full of pleading.  It hit him like a sucker punch to the gut.

She wanted something from him.

“What the hell?” Jim said under his breath.

“You see it too?” Jonathan asked, still staring at the ethereal woman, feeling like he was in a dream.

“Yeah,” Tim said, also staring.  “It’s a ship—like, one of those old-timey ships you see in pirate movies.”  Mike also seemed mesmerized.  He didn’t speak.

The ship was about a hundred feet long and traveling at twelve or thirteen knots, the best Jonathan could tell.  The biggest sail was in the center and it had two or three smaller sails in front.  They all watched in a silence that was almost reverent, for maybe five seconds, until it drifted into another patch of fog.

Then the fog lifted.  The ship was gone.

“What the hell was that?” Mike asked.

After a moment, Jim spoke. “Ghost ship,” he said quietly.  “Never seen one before now and wish I hadn’t seen this one.  I didn’t think they really existed but they sure as hell do.”

Jonathan didn’t know how to react and he didn’t trust his voice.  As ridiculous as he knew it was, he thought if he tried to talk he would start crying.  The experience was that deep, that profound.  Even when the ship was gone, the image of it remained burned into his brain, engraved into his consciousness.

He’d seen a ghost ship—and seeing it meant something.  It was important.

He would never forget it.  After a moment, when he could be sure he wouldn’t give way to the emotion that was trying to take over, he asked, “Did you see—was there anyone on board?”

Tim shook his head and Mike said, “No—it was just an old sailing ship.  It was there, though.  We all saw it.  And then it just disappeared.”

Jonathan walked along the deck, still searching the horizon for any sign of the mysterious ship, wondering what he had just witnessed.  Something new was pulling at him, something powerful and strange—a yearning he couldn’t name, one he knew would consume him if he didn’t satisfy it.
~Meet Charlie and Charlene!~ 

Charlene Keel has written over a dozen novels and how-to books. Shadow Train, the final installment of her YA supernatural trilogy, won a Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewer’s Choice Award, and The Congressman’s Wife (for Red Sky Presents) is getting rave reviews. Her new blended-genre novel, Lost Treasures of the Heart, has just been released. 

Keel has also worked as editor for international magazines,including Playgirl, For the Bride and Black Elegance. She says the most fun she’s had as an editor (so far) was at Spice, a fanzine featuring rap, R&B, soul and gospel music. During her time there, she enjoyed going to parties for such notables as Puff Daddy, having lunch with Gloria Gaynor and attending a pasta dinner where Mariah Carey did the cooking.

Keel’s editorial assignments include The Health of Nations, a book on political philosophy, and That Nation Might Live, a moving tribute to Sarah Bush Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s stepmother. Her TV credits include Fantasy Island and Days of Our Lives, and her book, Rituals, was the basis for the first made-for-syndication soap opera. She also produced (for Romantic Times) the first annual Mr. Romance Cover Model Pageant.

The sea has always played a dominant part in Charlie Most’s life. It seemed to be calling him, even as a child, bringing calm when he seemed intent on raising hell. As an adult, he channeled his restless energy into successfully running his construction company, Baltimore Steel Erectors. One moonlit night, while fishing in the Outer Banks, Most and his pals saw the silhouette of an ancient square-rigged vessel skirting across the horizon. They all watched as it disappeared once again into the Graveyard of the Atlantic, and the mists of eternity. That moment changed his life forever and he knew he had a story to tell. Lost Treasures of the Heart is his first novel.

The authors will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Review Tour: Reverie (+$25 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Reverie 
Author: Lauren Rico
Series: Reverie #1
Pages: 360
Date Published: 2016
Publisher: Harmony House
Format: Kindle
Genre: Dark Romance 
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
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Julia James has spent most of her life hiding in plain sight. For her, the cello was a way to get past a hellish childhood. Even now that she is one of the top cellists in the country, and a contender in the most prestigious, high-stakes music competition in the world, she hopes no one will notice her. But then someone does.

A chance (or is it?) encounter brings her to the attention of the distractingly sexy, charismatic French horn player, Jeremy Corrigan. As he helps her to embrace her talent, her sexuality and her past, Julia thinks she might finally be headed toward her happily-ever-after. Unfortunately, happily isn’t so much ‘ever-after’ for Julia. The lines between love and obsession are blurred.
~My Thoughts~
I'm going to be honest here. I was not expecting to like this book. From the premise, I was expecting the sappy "dark and angsty hero falls for a woman with her own troubled past" motif. I'm a little sick of reading about just how angsty and damaged everyone is only for them all to magically resolve their life-long issues because of *swoon* romance. At the beginning of Reverie, that's just what I thought I found, but Laura Rico pulled off a lot of surprises and that turned the book from ho-hum to instant attention-grabber for me. 

Jeremy isn't all that likeable. He's intimidating. And a bit creepy. Hell yeah he's sexy (and Julia certainly thinks so) but he so has som Phantom of the Opera vibes going on. Jeremy is so totally the phantom of the opera I'm surprised he doesn't have half mask throughotu the story, although I suppose that would prevent him from playing the french horn... 

Anyways. Because I didn't particularly like Jeremy, I was pumped when the story started to progress to a stalker-intimidation sort of narrative, and he didn't change because of Julia's love and attention. If anything that seemed to drive him into more of his baser instincts. 

I felt like you really got a lot of the author when reading about Julia. There seemed to be a lot of similarities to their histories and personalities (Maybe you can confirm or deny in the comments Laura! :) Hopefully a similar drama never happened to you though, that would be scary! 

As far as the plot goes, I felt a little distracted in the beginning. This is fair sized read, and it took some time to really get into the meat of the story. I can forgive this a bit because it always takes some time to set the tone, setting, and character details before charging ahead. Once Julia and Jeremy's relationship took off, the plot did too and I found myself eagerly returning to my kindle when I should have been doing things like work, making dinner, eating dinner, and paying attention to my very forgiving fiance. 

I don't want to spoil anything for you readers, but suffice to say this one is more a thriller than a romance. I find myself sick to death of cheesy romances, so this one with lots of dark and twisty will make those realists out there really happy. Romance is fun, but it can also be scary, sick, and terrifying. Experiencing the relationship as Julia really brought those emotions home and adds some suspense and spice to an otherwise tame story. 
~Try an Excerpt!~
I inhale every phrase, and my entire body moves in a circular pattern, cello lovingly embraced between my knees. It takes me to places I don’t usually allow myself to go, places buried deep in the back of my mind. 

My mother lives here, in this place where the music brings me. She’s a young woman, not much older than I am now. I can see her pretty, fair face. She has freckles like me, and a head full of coppery curls. I imagine her leaning over me and tucking me in. She brushes the hair from my forehead and tells me to have sweet dreams. But they are not sweet at all. As my bow slices across the strings, I hear her and my father yelling through the night. I dig into the Bach harder, recalling the crash of objects hurled and the smack of a hand on someone’s face. Whose? I don’t know. 

My fingers move frantically now, recklessly. The music could break apart and shatter in an instant. But it doesn’t. It slows and begins the lament. The crying. Her tears. There it is. He slapped her, this time. The cello is a wordless voice, heaving and sighing with the weight of her sorrow. The bow carries my fear with it as it swings to each string in turn. My parents are so volatile. They cannot hold our fragile life together. It just spirals out of control, picking up speed again, until it reaches a fever pitch.

Without warning, my hand slips across the D string, lurching forward and sending my bow flying across the room. It hits the floor with a sickening ‘thwack,’ returning me instantly to the tiny, pitch-black room in which I have lost myself once again.
~Meet Lauren!~ 

Lauren Rico was going to be principal French horn of the New York Philharmonic. That was HER plan, anyway. The New York Philharmonic had no idea of her intentions, and that's probably a good thing, since she wasn't an especially good French horn player!

Lauren was, however, an exceptionally good classical music radio host. Calling herself a "Classical Music Reanimator," she has made a career of demystify classical music for her audiences by taking it off a dusty old pedestal and putting it into a modern context. 

It's only been over the last couple of years that Lauren has discovered a passion for writing, which she's managed to combine with her love and knowledge of the classical music world. That's when she had the realization that she had something special with this story of love and obsession and music. 

You can hear Lauren Rico on SiriusXM's Symphony Hall Channel; on WSHU-FM in the New York metro; WSMR in Tampa/Sarasota, FL; WDAV in Charlotte, NC and KMFA in Austin, TX

Lauren will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.