Friday, August 28, 2015

REVIEW: Island Secrets (+$25 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Island Secrets
Author: R.T. Wolfe
Series: Island Escape #1
Pages: 212
Date Published: 2015
Publisher: ePublishing Works! 
Format: Kindle
Genre: Mystery/Romance
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
Buy Me!

Synopsis:
When Zoe Clearwater learns that the skull she found in an underwater cave is her missing brother, she sells her scuba diving business, Sun Trips Touring, and dedicates herself to unravelling her brother's mysterious death.

Dane Corbin, the new owner of Sun Trips, is determined to prove to Zoe, now his employee, that he is not the womanizer he once was. But it'll take more than profit to turn Zoe's head.

Her investigation at a standstill, Zoe unearths letters from a secret lover among her brother's possessions, along with plane tickets, a promise to run away to safety, and the painful realization that she'll need Dane's help.

As mercurial clues plunge Zoe and Dane into a life-threatening pursuit and the truth burns brighter and brighter, Zoe recognizes she needs Dane as much as her brother's un-named lover needed him. But Dane will have to make it to safety, first.

~My Thoughts~
Island Secrets starts off slowly, but quickly rolls into a mystery that compels you and a romance that lights you up from the inside out! 

Zoe Clearwater is not your average heroine. She's on a mission and driven to find out what happened to her brother. Her scuba business (and ability) is impressive, but  she's willing to give all of that up to pursue her brother's death and find his killer (?) or at least what happened to him before he died. 

Romance-wise, Zoe and Dane are a very cute couple. Wolfe has a lyrical way with words and knows just how to paint the scene so that you feel caught up in the romance and like you're a part of this sweet, sexy romance. While it would be hard to find romance amongst all the grief and angst of losing a brother and the anger of pursuing what happened to him, these two sparked naturally and were an excellent pairing to the mystery of the main plot. 

Island Secrets is the perfect book for these last gasps of summer. Its got intrigue, romance, and a beachy setting that makes us value the hot, toasty days that we've got left before autumn comes sweeping in with it's own chilly romances. 

~Try an Excerpt!~
The muscles in his body reflexively tensed as he recognized the faint shade of dark blue that tinted her fingers and lips.

"Hey." His hair dripped water on her face as he maneuvered over her and gave her a shake. "Zoe. What the hell? Are you okay?"

Her eyes rolled in his direction. She looked as if she'd seen a body. "Don't call me Babe," she croaked.

An unwanted smile spread across his face and, despite himself, he brushed the strands of hair from her smooth cheek. Checking the area, he spotted her pure oxygen tank under the boat dash. As he crawled to it, he noticed the expiration date was months away. At least she followed some rules. Her hand swatted him as he maneuvered the nosepiece under her nostrils.

"I feel fine," she whined.

"You won't soon. You ascended too quickly. I can tell. Breathe this, or you're going to feel it."

Of all things, she lifted her arm like she was checking for her frigging camera. Her lids closed when she spotted it on her arm. He hoped it was a sign of defeat as he slipped the oxygen tube around her head.

He glanced over his shoulder to make sure all was well with his boat, then searched for her cell in her bag. He couldn't leave his divers, and he couldn't leave Zoe. Knowing what he was doing, she grabbed his hand and shook her head. Cats' eyes the color of the green water pleaded with him.

"I've got a boat out, Zoe. How do you think I found you? I have six divers in the water. I can't leave them there with only my assistant."


She let go and her eyes drifted closed again. Life was much easier before she talked him into buying out her business, before she started working for him.
~Meet R.T. Wolfe!~ 
R.T. was born and raised in the beautiful Midwest, the youngest of six ornery children. She married at a young age and began her family short after With three amazing small boys, life was a whirlwind of flipping houses and working two jobs in between swim lessons and Candyland. Now that her boys are nearly grown, R.T. spends much of her time on the road traveling from one sporting event to another serving as mom and cheerleader. She works to assist the several non-profit organizations that have supported her books and promote the work they do for those who cannot help themselves.
R.T. Wolfe will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Summer of the Eagle Blog Tour! (+$15 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Summer of the Eagle 
Author: Susan Edwards
Series: Seasons of Love #1 
Pages: 305
Date Published: April 3, 2007
Publisher: Liesure Books
Format: Kindle
Genre: Romance
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours

Synopsis:
Blaze is an outcast. The most powerful healer in her tribe, she uses her impossible abilities only for good, but even that has alienated her fellow Sioux. She herself fears some of the things she can do.

But the winds of destiny are rising, sweeping Blaze toward freedom and others of her kind. There is darkness in her visions, but also a man: a tall, buckskin-clad stranger with golden-brown hair and eyes as green as the leaves on the trees. Though he is nothing like her, his eyes promise understanding, kindness, and a love that will be hers and hers alone.
~Try an Excerpt!~
Follow your heart. She put a hand to her chest and felt the small leather bag given to her by Wise Owl. She pulled the clear stone from the pouch and held it up to the sunlight. She studied the patterns in the smoky-white center. Last night, it had been completely clear. In the sunlight, she spotted four tiny golden flecks that hung like stars trapped in the crystal.

“You are a special stone,” she murmured as light fell on one flat surface and radiated through the crystal, bringing it to life. She felt something in the crystal, some greatness, a power that seeped into her and sang in her veins.

Ancient life.

“What is your purpose?” she asked as she watched the center come alive. She focused. Visions often came to her on shiny surfaces, things she could see and others could not. Many times a vision was her first warning that she was needed in the village.

She focused on her questions. The clouds inside the crystal seemed to move and change color until, finally, there in the center of the stone, there sprang the image of a broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped buckskin-clad trapper with golden-brown hair. One of the stars pulsed over his heart.

Holding her breath, Blaze brought the crystal closer to her face. She couldn’t see his features clearly, just the shape of a face, but as though he sensed her gaze upon him, he turned his head toward her and Blaze couldn’t help her gasp of amazement. His face became clearer until that was all she could see. It was like looking into a mirror and seeing the face of another.

His eyes were a rich, warm green like the thick carpet of ferns growing in the deepest shade of the forest. His face was covered with hair, as most trappers seemed want to wear it, but his mouth was firm and his nose long and straight. But his eyes drew her again, mesmerized her. They were deep pools of soothing green.

“Who are you?” Her voice was a soft whisper.

The stranger stared into her eyes, then his image grew smaller. He held out one arm. Long fringe swung back and forth, and his fingers curled out and toward her.


“Help me.”
~Meet Susan!~ 
Susan resides in California with her husband of thirty + years. She love animals. Cats currently number six as she just rescued a kitten named Luna last fall. She now considers herself to be a crazy cat lady! She also has three dogs. Two adorable Chiweenies named JJ and Abbey and temporary (ha!) custody of Shasta, her daughter’s six year old, Great Pyrenees mix.

Susan also enjoys crafts of all sorts including quilting, sewing, cross-stitch and knitting. Knitting and crochet are her current passions although with the arrival of her first granddaughter, her sewing machine as seen the light of day. She is also an avid gardener. Through her love of all things Native American, she designed a 26-foot Medicine Wheel Garden. It’s a big project but one that she loves, except when the weeds threaten. Right now, with her crazy, busy schedule, the weeds are winning the war!

Camping, fishing, biking and hiking (when not hot) are other outdoor pursuits she and her husband enjoy. She is of course, an avid reader and hates cooking and housework. While writing, she listens to a wide variety of music, including Neil Diamond, Celtic, Native American, New Age, Classical, and mood music (bagpipes and howling wolves drive my family nuts). Her current favorites are Blackmore’s Night and David Lanz.

Native American/Western romance writer Susan Edwards is the author of the popular “White” Series. She was nominated for the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Western Historical and Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award. She is very pleased to be able to offer to her readers her White series in Digital Format, along with her SpiritWalker series.

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

Thursday, August 27, 2015

REVIEW: Cotton Candy (+$10 Amazon Giftcard Giveaway)

Title: Cotton Candy 
Author: Mae Hancock
Series: Wyoming Lovers #2
Pages: 185
Date Published: 2015
Publisher: Loose Ld LLC
Format: Kindle
Genre: Romance
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
Buy Me!

Synopsis:
Cowboy Cotton Reid is the laid-back type of guy who accepts people as they are, no matter how flawed. People think he’s fun, honest and crazy about his boss and friend the sexy rancher Bay Redman.

Living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is something that family man Bay has done his whole life. Bay can be like a bear with a sore head if the hay isn’t stored symmetrically or his fridge contains an odd number of jars.

When the two men begin a hot affair, Cotton keeps an important secret from Bay. If he can't find the courage to tell him the truth before someone else does, Bay may never be able to let it go.

~My Thoughts~
My best friend Alex actually just moved to Wyoming...If she's having half the time the characters in the Wyoming Lover's series are...I might just join her...though this time around it seems that I'd be superfluous...as I'm missing the equipment for the job I guess... 

Bay is such a strong guy. He's dealing with a lot in the form of his illness and just life in general. Though he's kind of built up in his mind an idea that he's a real family man, and everyone around him agrees, he has more going on that he sort of can't handle. When one of his ranch-hands starts a flirtation, he doesn't really know what to do, but eventually gives in to what his mind (and body) really wants. 

An aspect that I really liked was that Bay really has to deal with his OCD. Sometimes romances make it seem like love will cure all...in the case of serious mental illness that's just laughable. Mae did a great job in painting a realistic character with a real illness that he was trying to overcome. Bay's OCD made me that much more affectionate and protective of him and that much more invested in the story and trying to get him to his happily ever after. 

Not going to lie...the name Cotton threw me off. I spent half the time I was reading in rhapsodic giggles trying to get the dulcet tones of "Cotton-Eyed Joe" out of my head, and the other half trying not to picture the guy with cotton-candy for hair ( I failed...it kept changing color...first it was pink...then bright blue...). Still, I enjoyed both characters' development and interactions with each other- silly names aside!

I got a sense that there was more beneath the surface of these characters, so I'm wondering if there was something I missed in book 1. Still, that didn't stop me from enjoying myself or this quick 185 page scorcher :) 
~Try an Excerpt!~
The heat of the spring sunshine made the air thick and heavy like midsummer as Cotton and Bay rode back toward the ranch after a long day rounding up cattle for market. A faint breeze caught strands of Cotton’s hair, blowing it into his face beneath the tan Stetson. He lifted the hat off and ran his fingers through his damp mop of hair. Then, pulling a band from his wrist, he secured the locks into a familiar small bunch, leaving a fingerbreadth of tail hair at the nape of his neck.

Glad for the momentary relief from the heat, he placed the hat back on and took in Bay’s broad shoulders as he rode in front. For some reason today, Cotton had not been able to break away from studying each movement Bay made. Twice before, Cotton had stared at the man too long and noticed Bay’s brown eyes searching his own. Has he noticed me watching him? The man’s deep, smoky cedar scent carried to Cotton on the wind, the smell so rich and bountiful it made his senses stir with desire.

Starting to get darn near obsessed with the man who doesn’t even notice me—not in a carnal way anyhow.


Bay and he were boss and hired help. Bay didn’t chase, pursue, desire—or even demand anything of Cotton, which served to make the man more attractive. Bay’s sensual, deep-brown eyes tugged at Cotton with each glance, and Bay’s thick lashes fanned out, flattering his dark-bronze skin. A simple, meaningless smile had far-reaching and significant implications for Cotton. Put simply, it meant Bay approved of him and the things he did. The rancher’s soft, full lips framed milk-white teeth, and sent urgent ripples right through Cotton’s body, leaving his fingertips tingling and the reins slippery with his sweat.
~Meet Mae!~ 
I enjoy writing both academic and fiction material. My research interests include focus on people who experience marginalization, both in historical societies and modern. Themes include disability, neurosis, homosexuality, addiction, mental illness, slavery and prostitution. The most important part of my work is creating multi-dimensional, believable characters that are able to build lasting romantic relationships against the odds. I want all my readers to laugh, cry and enjoy the erotic journey towards a happy ending. 
Mae will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Three Divisions: Leo (+$20 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Leo
Author: Celeste Prater
Series: Three Divisions #1
Date Published: 2015
Publisher: Siren Publishing 
Format: Kindle
Genre: Erotic Romance
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
Buy Me!

Synopsis:
A reverent touch to a set of suede-covered cuffs, and Jillian Dosh unwittingly takes the first step into a world that she never knew existed. Busted while she’s making a stealthy visit to Three Divisions Lifestyle Emporium, Jillian can’t believe she’s face-to-face with her fantasy lover. Much more potent up front and personal, Leo Straton’s commanding presence intrigues and scares her at the same time. Can fantasy become reality?

Recognizing the voluptuous Jillian as the perfect submissive for him, Leo begins a journey to pull her into his world of D/s. She’s innocent, imaginative, strong-willed, and dangerous to his heart. She’s his butterfly—stuck in the chrysalis of the vanilla world and ready to spread her wings. Overcoming her initial hesitancy, Jillian begins to blossom under his tutelage. But an innocent deception may bring this new love to a crashing halt.
~Try an Excerpt!~
Hurrying along the walkway, eyes glued to the window, Jillian finally discovered a ten-inch gap between advertisement posters. Cupping her hands against the surprisingly clean glass, she peered inside, stood on tiptoe to see past the shelving, and immediately spotted two men. A quick assessment told her that the one with the gray hair and wrinkled business suit wasn’t a local. The brown leather suitcase leaning innocently against his right leg still carried the airline terminal tag.

Jillian couldn’t help but snort when she glanced to the other one. He was a little younger, wore a wedding ring, and still clung to his glory days as life pulled him kicking and screaming into his forties. The severely faded and tattered USC College T-shirt had seen better days. She wondered how many times his wife had thrown it in the garbage, only to find it among the laundry items the very next day. That could very well explain the small Band-Aid on his left ear. She darted out of sight when the men’s profiles made an appearance.

Glancing down the relatively deserted street, Jillian was surprised to find that the fading sun had finally decided to hide itself, instantly bringing deep shadows to stretch ominously between each dim streetlight—a clear warning sign for the smart people to get their butts home. Only a few businesses across the roadway had yet to turn their exterior lights on, making the surroundings even spookier. She knew she needed to get this over with before the night dwellers burst out from wherever they hid during the harshness of the day and began filling the walkways.

Pushing quickly inside her targeted establishment, Jillian cringed upon hearing the tinkling of bells over the doorway. She reached up and silenced them before they could finish waking up the dead. Crap! Didn’t see that coming.

Dodging to the side of a tall, metal structure, Jillian chanced a quick peek past the edge to see if she’d been discovered or if any other bodies were milling about the interior. Satisfied she only had the two oblivious browsers to contend with, Jillian slithered around several displays and two more short cabinets before she was ensconced behind a thick bookshelf with ample space between shelves to peek out.

Bravado growing by the second, she moved on silent feet along the narrow aisle, eyes locked onto the two men continuing to keep a respectable distance from one another. She quirked a brow. You both might as well have a bulls-eye tattooed on your backs. Not once had they made eye contact, much less taken the time to glance over their shoulders to spot her lurking close at their rear.

Jillian couldn’t help but shake her head as she slid her hand out of her purse, cupped it with the other, and rested her grip on the smooth wood to steady her arms. Maneuvering the red laser dot from one skull base to the next, she considered her targets the proverbial “innocent bystanders” mentioned in every news article about the increasing murder rate in this crazy town. They were oblivious to their surroundings, content in the false knowledge that nothing bad would ever happen to them. Things like that only occurred to other people—a typical last thought of hapless victims.


Oh, well. Reality time.
~Meet Celeste!~
Celeste was born and raised in a small town between Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin. Wanting to see more than her small Texas town, she joined the Marines, which satisfied her craving to see more of the U.S. and her drive to see if she could be one of the few and the proud. A firm believer in educating the mind, Celeste has achieved several advanced degrees, the latest being a master’s of science.

Her true love is writing erotic romance about men who know how to treat their women right. Celeste is also the author of the award winning FUELED BY LUST series. All currently released books in the series have made it into the Top 5 Bestseller Lists at Bookstrand.com within days of release as well as making it into the Top 10 Hottest New Releases in Erotic Science Fiction on Amazon. Celeste would also like to give a shout out to the scrumptiously delicious Dustin Sherer, the cover model for Book 1 of this new series.

Celeste will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Kiss of the Incubus blog tour! (+$20 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Kiss of the Incubus 
Author: C.J. Harwin
Series: Underworld Seduction #1
Pages: 225
Date Published: 2015
Publisher: Loose ID LLC
Format: Kindle
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
Buy Me!

Synopsis:
An incubus who feeds off the sexual desires of others, Roth de Lis has never been denied the pleasure of a woman’s body...until now. Lilah, once a warrior maiden in the service of a goddess, languishes on Earth after being cast out from the slopes of Mount Olympus.

Lilah will do anything to return home to Olympus, including betraying Roth. As she spins her web of lies, Roth begins a slow, wicked seduction that eventually threatens to consume them both. But when Lilah’s deceit comes to light, will their torrid love affair be able to overcome a pact with the darkest of gods?
~Try an Excerpt!~
The moonlight made Lilah hum with power, giving her abilities a much-needed boost. She glanced at Roth, still out on the ground. She didn’t want to reveal her bow and arrows to him, lest he guess where she got them. Anything that gave him any insight into her past was a threat to her future. But there was no other way out. Lilah stilled and summoned her bow. It sprang from her grasp, a wisp of silver growing into the curved tips and taut string. It resonated with power in her hands as she pulled a similarly effervescent arrow from her quiver.

The fury’s wings, translucent and covered in a fine black fur, flapped to keep her hovering above the ground. Lilah noticed the fury examining the markings on her neck. She pointed at Lilah and said, “Not you, servant of Artemis. My master wants the incubus.”

“The incubus is mine. If you want him, you’ll have to go through me first.” The glow of the moon and her instinct made her ready, spoiling even, for this fight. It had been far too long.

“So be it,” the fury rasped before splaying her claws and diving for Lilah. Its battle cry pierced the night.


Lilah rolled to the left and let her arrow fly, punching through the creature’s wing and soaring off into the night. The fury let out a shriek that had blood running from Lilah’s ears. But she didn’t care. She was in her element.
~Meet C.J. Harwin!~ 
C.J. Harwin is an author of steamy romance novels that spring from myth and imagination. Accompanied by her family and an embarrassing number of pets, she lives in a Southern town watched over by the god of the forge. An attorney by day, she spends her nights crafting tales of ghouls and gods, mortals and minions, and heroines and the heroes who love them.
 C.J. Harwin will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Center of Gravity Blog Tour! (+$20 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Center of Gravity
Author: Laura McNeill 
Series: N/A
Pages: 309
Date Published: 2015
Publisher: Thomas Nolan
Format: Kindle
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours

Synopsis:
Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true. In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is grand. Or is it?

When her picture-perfect marriage begins unraveling at the seams, Ava convinces herself she can fix it. It's temporary. It’s the stress. It’s Mitchell’s tragic history of loss. If only Ava could believe her own excuses.

Mitchell is no longer the charming, thoughtful man she married. He grows more controlling by the day, revealing a violent jealous streak. His behavior is recklessly erratic, and the unanswered questions about his past now hint at something far more sinister than Ava can stomach. Before she can fit the pieces together, Mitchell files for divorce and demands full custody of their boys.

Fueled by fierce love for her children and aided by Graham Thomas, a new attorney in town —Ava takes matters into her own hands, digging deep into the past. But will finding the truth be enough to beat Mitchell at his own game? Center of Gravity weaves a chilling tale, revealing the unfailing and dangerous truth that things—and people—are not always what they seem.

~Top 10 Ways to Recognize a Bad Relationship~
If you’ve read Gone Girl or Girl on the Train, you’ve more than familiar with the question popular domestic suspense novels pose: How well do we really know the people we love? 

At its core, Center of Gravity is about the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we want to believe. It’s about not wanting to believe the truth. It’s about the very scary reality of marrying someone with a dark past. Someone with secrets. Someone dangerous—with anger brewing below the surface of his calm exterior. Someone charming and loyal, but someone who becomes overtly jealous and controlling.

These relationships happen more than we think. Women fall for narcissistic men like this. Men fall under the spell of narcissistic women. And lives fall apart.

In the blush of first romance … the rush of someone paying attention to us, whispering compliments, and bringing us gifts … we overlook the red flags. This new boyfriend or girlfriend may come across as “super sweet” or “protective” at first, but later, the behavior becomes everything from really annoying to really scary. Sound familiar?

Check out this list. If five or more signs match your main squeeze, it’s time to step back and re-evaluate.

  1. Jealousy – There’s a little green-eyed monster inside all of us, but if the love of your life turns into the Incredible Hulk anytime you’re around anyone from the opposite sex – red flag. 
  2. Control – If your partner wants to know where you are 24/7 – calling or texting incessantly, when you’re at home, at work, out with friends, it’s not okay. If you don’t respond, or respond later than he or she’d like, you’ll catch some flack for it.
  3. Stalking – If your boyfriend or girlfriend checks your email, your iPhone for texts and photos, and looks at everything you post on Facebook, it’s time to worry. When he or she finds something distasteful (usually it’s jealousy), expect a throw down. And it will only get worse.
  4. Passwords – Worry if all or most of his accounts are password protected – after you’ve shared every password. He or she will have some excuse why the playing field can’t be even.
  5. Insults - It may be subtle at first, but it’s likely he or she will slip with something negative about your hair, your clothes, the way you laugh, or how much you eat. Later on, the insults will ramp up, likely in front of your friends.
  6. No Apologies. He or she never says, “I’m sorry” – Or if you get an apology, it’s not sincere. 
  7. Criticism – Your boyfriend or girlfriend probably doesn’t like many people. He’ll criticize his boss, his parents, and his siblings. He’s usually not happy in general, and doesn’t have many friends. He might not like his job, or his apartment, and it’s always someone else’s fault. If you suggest that he or she get a new job, or move, or find a new hobby, there will be an excuse as to why he or she can’t. 
  8. It’s ALL about him (or her) – For this guy or girl, it’s important you make him the center of your world. And he might not understand why you have to spend time after work with your child, or in grad school, or with other friends. He expects you to change your schedule to fit his, not the other way around.
  9. It’s fast – If your relationship feels intense from the start and your new squeeze pushes to become exclusive early on (first few weeks), you might want to think twice. He might tell you things like “I’ve never felt like this before,” and “I love you more than anyone I’ve ever loved.” It’s nice to hear these things, but if it’s two weeks in, it’s still infatuation.
  10. Thumbs down – If all of your friends dislike him (or her) or most your girls are saying “dump him,” there’s an issue. If your friends are quiet around him (or her), or refuse to comment on what they think because they know it will hurt your feelings – red flag. Your friends can often see what you, especially early on in a relationship.
Though Center of Gravity is fiction -- a story about one relationship – it IS drawn from dozens and dozens of very real stories from my friends and family.

While writing the book, I took snippets and pieces of all of the tragedies that were told to me. Over time, I wove them together into one narrative with the hope that women (and men) might relate to Ava and Jack’s story of being drawn into believing in someone—and something—that wasn’t real or true.

It’s my wish that Center of Gravity offers hope for those who need to get to safety and restart their lives. As Ava discovers, she has strength she didn’t know she had. And it’s never too late to start over.
~Try an Excerpt!~
When your children are stolen, the pain swallows you whole. Logic fades, reason retreats. Desperation permeates the tiniest crevices of your mind. Nothing soothes the ache in your wounded soul.

Right in front of me, my sweet, charmed life fell to pieces. Everything destroyed; a hailstorm’s wrath on a field of wildflowers. All I’d known—gone. Foolish me, I’d believed in magic, clung tight to false promises. The lies, spoken from tender lips, haunt me now, follow me, and whisper into my ear like a scorned lover.

What’s left is emptiness.

Give up, a voice urges. Let go.

No! I argue back. My children aren’t gone. Not yet. Precious and delicate, tiny fossils, they exist in glass-boxed isolation. Hidden. Protected.

And so tonight, I run. Blood pulses through my legs, my muscles protest; my lungs scream for more oxygen. Thick storm clouds brew in the distance. The rain falls in blinding sheets. The force of it pricks my skin like needles, but the pain only makes me push harder.

I will rescue them.

Lightning flashes across the wet driveway. The bulk of his truck looms large in the black night. I skid to a stop and catch my breath, pressing a hand to my heaving chest.

They’re here. My children are here.

Thunder booms and crashes, nearer now, the wind whips my hair. A gust tosses tree branches to the ground. Birds cry and flutter to safety. An escaped sandbox bucket spins, clattering on the blacktop.

I grasp the railing and pull myself up the steps. At the top, the door’s shiny-slick with water and humidity. Mother Nature howls and drowns out my knocking.

“Hello! Can you hear me?” With my palm open wide, I slap at the barrier, willing it to open. I will rescue my children. I will rescue them . . . or I will die trying.


Paste first excerpt here.
~Meet Laura!~
After six years behind the anchor desk at two CBS affiliates, Laura moved to the Alabama Gulf Coast to raise her family. Her accolades in broadcasting include awards from the Associated Press, including Best News Anchor and Best Specialized Reporter.

Laura works at Spring Hill College as the school’s web content and social media manager and​ is active in her community—participating in fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House, and Providence Hospital’s Festival of Flowers.

Laura was recently awarded a 2-book deal with Thomas Nelson Publishing, a division of HarperCollins. Her novel, Center of Gravity, set in Mobile, Ala., will be published in July of 2015. Laura is represented by Elizabeth Winick Rubenstein, president of McIntosh and Otis literary agency in New York.​ Her writing awards include those from William Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, Writer’s Digest, RWA, and the Eric Hoffer competition.

She holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree in English from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in interactive technology from the University of Alabama. She is a native of Upstate New York and currently resides near the Alabama Gulf Coast with her two children.

Laura McNeill will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Monday, August 24, 2015

REVIEW: Victorian Scoundrel (+$15 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Victorian Scoundrel
Author: Stephanie Burkhart
Series: The Windsor Diaries #1
Date Published: 2015
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Format: Kindle
Genre: Historical Romance (Sci-Fi) 
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
Buy Me!

Synopsis:
It's 2010 and compressed natural gas has taken over form the coal producing steam machines of the Victorian Age. Alice Windsor, Princess of York, follows her mischief-making cousin, Prince Edmund of Wales back to the past and 1851 where Prince Albert is hosting Britain's Great Exhibition.

Alice soon discovers Edmund has struck up a friendship with their great-grandfather, Prince Albert, and his mischief making entails leaving a dinosaur-sized footprint in history. She also meets Grayson Kentfield, Earl Swinton, and the Prime Minister, Sir John Russell. The Prime Minster finds her odd, to say the least.

It's only when Alice falls for the handsome Earl Swinton does she realize the dangers of time travel. How can she give her heart to a man from the past while striving to stop Edmund from changing time with his forward thinking ideas?


~My Thoughts~
The Windsor Diaries is set in an interestingly different setting. It's technically modern day England, but primarily involves being in Victorian London. That's right, it's a time travel series! Mixing in the sci-fi with historical romance makes for a very interesting set of ideas, values, and plot twists! The added dimensions gave the story that much more life and vigor compared to your typical sci-fi or historical romance story. I enjoyed the diversity quite a bit!

Alice and Edmund are the time-traveling cousins (Lame...my cousins and I just played shuffleboard in our gran's basement together...) and upon reaching Victorian England, attempt to kindle a friendship with their many-times great grandfather who happens to be Prince Albert. 

Something cool about this book is that we get to discover two newly budding romances instead of a central theme revolving around one. Alice and Grayson Kentfield were sweetly cute in that "cutest couple in school" kind of way. I enjoyed how Grayson pursued Alice and that she stood out for him because she was different than the regular girls of the time. The second romance was between Edmund and Kiera and was also fun, though we didn't get a lot of screentime with them. I would have liked more I think. 

The titular scoundrel, I believe, is Alice's cousin Edmund (Although the love interest, Earl Swinton, does act the part of the scoundrel now and again!) and he's leaving massive tears in the fabric of history because of his interference. Not sure if I'm right in that assumption, but it seemed fun to speculate. Still, Stephanie Burkhart is very creative in her world-building and characters. She's definitely not one to let things be one genre or another and likes to mix things up in unexpected ways. She's a fun, unique, original kind of author that's worth investing in!
~Try an Excerpt!~
Tired and thirsty, she finally made it to the courtyard. Edmund was nowhere to be found. She should have expected it, really. No doubt he was in the palace filling their great-grandfather's head with forward-thinking ideas. She crossed her arms, staring at the steps. Several carriages waited nearby. No one in their right mind would let her into the palace looking like she did -- like she had just stepped out of the gutter.


"Excuse me, who are you?"


Alice spun around to find herself face-to-face with two gentlemen who stood near one of the waiting carriages. One gentleman was older, Alice guessed in his fifties, one younger. The older gentleman stared at her like she truly was a guttersnipe, but the younger one -- he was tall, with chiseled cheeks and sensitive hazel eyes. His broad chest filled his suit well and he measured her with a cool, appraising look that hinted at... appreciation. An uncomfortable feeling washed over her. Never had a man's stare made her feel so... warm.


"Well?" asked the older gentleman.

Alice straightened her posture with her usual royal dignity and took off her glasses as she always did when she introduced herself. "I am Her Royal Highness, Princess Alice of York."

The men looked at each other, at her, then back at themselves. She wasn't sure if they were befuddled, confused, or wanted to laugh. Finally, the older gentleman spoke. "Princess Alice is seven years old."

Alice bit the inside of her lip, realizing she had totally forgotten where she was due to the younger gentleman's attention. She slid her glasses back on. "Simply call me Alice -- Alice Windsor."

"And you may call me Prime Minister."
~Meet Stephanie!~ 
Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD.  She was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire.  She served 11 years in the US Army and currently calls Castaic, California her home. Stephanie was married in Denmark in 1991 and has two young sons. She adores chocolate and is addicted to coffee.  She writes paranormal, contemporary, and steampunk romance and has two children's books published with 4RV Publishing
 Stephanie will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.