Review: Darker After Midnight by Lara Adrian

Wednesday, February 29

Title: Darker After Midnight*
Author: Lara Adrian
Series: Midnight Breeds #10
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: Hardcover & e-book
Date/Year:  January 2012
Reviewed by: Andrea

*This book was borrowed from the reviewer's local library for her own reading enjoyment

Summary from the publisher:

In the dark of night, a blood war escalates within the hidden world of the Breed. After existing in secret for many long centuries, maintaining a fragile peace with the humans who walk beside them unaware, a single act of retaliation has put the entire vampire nation at risk of discovery. It falls to the Order—a cadre of Breed warriors pledged to protect their own and humankind alike—to stop Dragos, the power-mad vampire at the center of the conflict, before his push for domination can explode into catastrophe.

At the center of the Order’s quest is Sterling Chase, once a morally rigid enforcer of Breed law, now a warrior fallen from grace, whose biggest battle is the one he wages against his own savage nature. With addiction beckoning him toward eternal darkness, Chase’s path to redemption has never seemed more out of reach. But when his eyes meet those of Tavia Fairchild, a beautiful witness who identifies him at the scene of a mission gone terribly wrong, Chase finds himself drawn to the woman—and convinced she is something much more than she seems.

Pulled into a vortex of intrigue and danger she can neither resist nor understand, Tavia is uncertain whom to trust. And while everything sane and logical warns her against getting close to Chase, she cannot deny that the handsome, deeply haunted male stirs something primal and ravenous within her. But even as she surrenders to her cravings, nothing can prepare her for the shattering truth of who—and what—she truly is.

As the Order’s enemy mobilizes for the battle of the ages, Dragos and his Minions unleashing a hell on Earth like nothing ever seen before, Chase and Tavia are thrust into the heart of the violence. With time running out and the streets running red with the blood of innocent lives, both Breed and human, together Chase and Tavia must find a way to defeat Dragos once and for all—or die trying.

My Musings:

This book is basically one big spoiler waiting to happen.  It's great when reading the book but really difficult to review.  I can be pretty specific on the romance aspect but it’s going to be vague when it comes to the blood war.  There are a lot of surprises and I don’t want to ruin them for anyone else.

I wasn't a huge fan of Sterling Chase in past books.  I always saw him as being arrogant, ruthless, and volatile.  I still feel that way but now I understand it.  By the end I even decided he wasn't such a bad guy and I grudgingly liked him.  I'll never love him, but I can appreciate him now.

Tavia was a surprise to me. I'm normally not a big fan of Lara Adrian's heroines.  In general, I find Adrian’s heroines to be fairly meek and happy to accept their submissive role.  They all have a few instances where they display a backbone, but for the most part I’m not impressed.  Tavia is a nice break from that, she is a force to be reckoned with!  I'm going to leave it at that to avoid spoilers.

The love story in this book didn't draw me in.  I liked Chase, and loved Tavia, but didn't feel the chemistry between them.  The jump from lust to love didn't work for me, it didn’t feel genuine to me.  The romance isn't a huge part of the book so it ended up not being a huge issue.  The part that really drew me in was the culmination of everything between the Order and Dragos which brought the Enforcement Agency and the human population into the mix.

The conclusion of this book left the door open for more books and possibly a spin off series.  It felt like that was forced into the story and happened too fast.  I enjoyed reading it, but now that I’m  finished I'm left feeling unfulfilled.  I would give the love story 2 stars and the blood war with Dragos 5 stars.  I averaged it out to give the book as a whole 3 stars.

Ratings:

Overall:  3.0 stars
Sensuality level: 3

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*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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Winners: Sweet Enemy, The Principal's Office, The Rogue Pirate's Bride & Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel

Tuesday, February 28

I meant to post the winners yesterday, but didn't get around to it.  Better late than never, right?  So, here you go....



To celebrate the release of the first book in her Veiled Seduction series, Sweet Enemy, Heather would like to giveaway a signed print copy of the book, a bookmark, and a set of Sweet Enemy Romance Trading Cards to lucky Musings follower...




To celebrate the release of third book in the DeKnight Trilogy, The Principal's Office, Jasmine's publisher, Berkley Heat, would like to giveaway a print copy of the book to lucky Musings follower...





To celebrate the release of the third, and final, book in her Sons of the Revolution series, The Rogue Pirate's Bride, Shana Galen's publisher, Casablanca Sourcebooks, is giving away a print copy to these two Musings followers...




To celebrate the release of Samantha Grace's debut historical romance, Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel, the first book in her Beau Monde Bachelor series, her publisher Casablanca Sourcebooks would like to giveaway a print copy of the book to lucky Musings follower..




Congratulations!   As always, you can click on any of the links or the book covers found on this blog to purchase the books you are dying to read...even if you didn't win them.  If you didn't win one of these, don't lose heart because I'll have some new ones for you soon!

If however,  you've been lucky enough to have already won these book(s) in another giveaway please let me know so that alternate winner(s) can be selected.  The winners will have until Friday March 2nd to contact me with your mailing address, otherwise the prize will be forfeited, and an alternate winner may be selected.  

For new followers to Seductive Musings please take note I do NOT email you that you have won.  The blog post serves as the announcement and it is your responsibility to contact me with your mailing address. You can send your mailing address to me by using the Contact link in the menu bar at the top of the blog then filling out the form.

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*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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Review: Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh

Title: Bonds of Justice*
Author: Nalini Singh
Series:  Psy/Changeling series #8
Genre: Paranormal romance
Publisher: Berkley
Format:  paperback & e-book
Date/Year:  July 2010
Reviewed by: Andrea

*This book was borrowed from the reviewers local library for her own reading enjoyment)

Summary from the publisher:

Max Shannon is a good cop, one of the best in New York Enforcement. Born with a natural shield that protects him against Psy mental invasions, he knows he has little chance of advancement within the Psy-dominated power structure. The last case he expects to be assigned is that of a murderer targeting a Psy Councilor’s closest advisors. And the last woman he expects to compel him in the most sensual of ways is a Psy on the verge of a catastrophic mental fracture…

Sophia Russo is a Justice-Psy, cursed with the ability to retrieve memories from men and women so twisted even veteran cops keep their distance. Appointed as Max’s liaison with the Psy, she finds herself fascinated by this human, her frozen heart threatening to thaw with forbidden emotion. But, her mind filled with other people’s nightmares, other people’s evil, she’s standing on the border between sanity and a silken darkness that urges her to take justice into her own hands, to become judge, jury…and executioner…

My Musings:

I was getting bored with this series by book number 6, Branded by Fire.  I read book 7, Blaze of Memory, and it was great!  I decided to keep going with the series.  I wasn't sure if Singh could keep my interest for another book.  I gave Bonds of Justice a shot and it was just as good as Blaze of Memory.

In the past I had issues with the Psy-Council, Pure Psy, changeling and human factions all doing their own separate tings yet somehow being slightly connected.  It always felt forced and never worked in my mind.  All of those things came together for me with Blaze of Memory and it got even more relevant in Bonds of Justice.   All the side stories finally work together and add to the overall story (imagine me doing a little happy dance here).

Max Shannon is everything I love in a man.  He's sexy, he's smart, he doesn't take any sh*t, he stands up for good and he has a tortured past.  I wouldn't say he is a broken man, but he's definitely damaged.  The same can be said for Sophia Russo.  Sophia is the first J-Psy the series has explored and it's very different from the other designations of Psy.  Basically, being a J-Psy means an early death sentence.  They reach their "use by date" early in life.  Sophia is fast approaching the end of her usefulness when Nakita Duncan commissions Max and Sophia to investigate the suspicious deaths in her organization. 

Max and Sophia are drawn to each other the minute they meet.  They both realize they have finally met the one person who can understand their past and the effect it's had on the person they are today.  Both are reserved and have done an amazing job of secluding themselves emotionally.  I really enjoyed watching them open up and learn to trust. 

I loved the background story in this book almost as much as the romance.  I actually found myself intrigued by Nakita Duncan and Kaleb Krychek, which was a first.  They started to show hints of a personality and secrets they've been hiding all along.  

I'm loving this series again and so glad I kept going.  This series is fast becoming one of my favorites.

Ratings:

Overall:  5 stars
Sensuality level:  2

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*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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Monday's Muse

Monday, February 27

Sorry, but the image containing the Monday's Muse has been removed from this blog so as not to violate any copyright issues.  Thanks for your understanding!


So, I started on the TBR project this past weekend.  Thank you to everyone who commented for your encouragement!  I'm gonna need it to keep going :)  And to give back thanks, I think I'll have a giveaway for the commenters (those who commented prior 2/27/2012 will be eligible) on that post, where one of you can select as many of the books I am getting rid of (just because it's not for me doesn't mean someone else might not love it) for up to $5.00 USPS media mail.  Once I finalize the list, I'll randomly select one of you and announce it on the blog.

I also finished a book that I've been struggling with, but I kept myself going with a tantalizing reward.  One that I have been craving.  No, it's not chocolate.  What's the best reward for a romance addict? That's right, a new romance that I've been looking forward to since last year!  *squee*

I had the opportunity to get an advance reading copy of Taking a Shot by Jaci Burton and that's my reward for tackling the TBR AND finishing a book that was a struggle for me.  Which is why, the cover model for Taking a Shot is my Muse of the week, because he literally kept me inspired.  I kept it on my nightstand and every time I wanted to stop, I just looked at it...and that's all I needed.  Can you blame me?   I'll let you know what I think of the actual hero, Ty, once I'm done reading the book :)

This week at Seductive Musings:
  • Monday:  If I have winners to announce I'll post them later in the day sometime.
  • Tuesday:  I hope to have my review for Sarah MacLean's new historical romance that comes out this week, A Rogue by Any Other Name.  The first book in her Fallen Angels series.  And I will also have Andrea's review of Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh
  • Wednesday:  I hope to have my review for Sophia Nash's  The Duke and the Deep Blue Sea.  The first book in her Royal Entourage series.  And I will also have Andrea's review of Darker After Midnight by Lara Adrian.
  • Thursday:  I hope to have my review for Jasmine Haynes' The Principal's Office....gotta have something spicy this week doncha' think? 
  • Friday:  Depending on how my TBR reorganization goes I may have a list of questionables for you to peruse to see if you think they should permanently be discarded, or placed back on the TBR shelves, BUT if I'm not done I'll have a review of Roni Loren's Crash Into You.
  • Tempting Trailer: This week's Tempting Trailer is for Lisa Kleypas's new contemporary romance Rainshadow Road.  Now I love love love Ms. Kleypas' historical romances, but for some reason I haven't followed her into her contemporaries like I have many other authors.  Are you looking forward to this one?  And what do you think of her contemporaries vs her historicals?  Do you prefer one over the other, or not?


Also of Interest:
  • I know I mentioned this last week, but just in case you forgot you still have time to enter author Holli Winters Kickoff to Spring Kindle giveaway.  Please see the author's website for entry details, rules, and deadlines (it's as easy as sending an email....how sweet would that be to win a Kindle in time for spring/summer reading?)

Finally, I'd like to congratulate all of the authors will new releases this week, especially Musings authors Lora Leigh, Sarah MacLean, Joan Swan, Mia Marlowe, Bella Riley, Helen Scott Taylor.  Congrats ladies!!!



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*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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Beware: Drastic TBR Measures Are About To Be Taken!

Friday, February 24

Last year I had a TBR plan.  It was pretty simple actually.  It involved actually reading some of the books I already owned.  Fancy that, right, LOL.  

My plan was to tackle at least one book each month, or one series each month.  It seemed doable, and I stayed on track for the first few months of the year.  I felt really great about it especially since one of my ventures lead me to reading Pamela Clare's I-Team series, because all but one of the books in the series was in the TBR.  I got to read fantastic books by a new favorite author, and made TBR progress!  Woo hoo!  Score one for me.

But then...it all kind of fell apart.  After March (or thereabouts) I didn't read, but maybe one or two books from the TBR the rest of the year.  As you can see, my plan for last year didn't work out so well.  Chalk it up as a failure.  

Since a new March is practically upon us, and I don't want my family to turn me in to the show Hoarders:  Buried Alive for the number of books in the TBR (which I could in fact get buried in) I need to take a new approach.  I've got a new plan.  One that I think will help at least a bit, while still trying to adhere to what I tried to do last year (because I still think it was a good plan).

So, here it is, my new plan.  This weekend I'm going to go through book by book...all of the books in my TBR (we're talking hundreds) and check them out on Goodreads and any book that doesn't meet a certain star rating qualification, is getting removed from the TBR. Gasp!  I know right.  Think about it this way though....ultimately, I want to find time to read the really great books, not the so-so ones.  I want to find the books in my TBR that I would regret not having found the time to read.  I don't like having regrets, so this is my attempt at avoiding that. I'm hoping by relying on my fellow Goodreads members that I can weed out the mediocre and less than just "ok" reads to save my time for the ones that have potential to be favorites.  

Not too long ago I went through my reads from 2011 and compared my ratings with the Goodreads ratings to come up with my threshold limits of what would constitute an:
  1. automatic TBR keeper, which means it earns a place on the TBR bookshelf and hopefully ultimately a place on my nightstand :)
  2. a questionable keeper, which means that the books needs further consideration.  After that consideration the book will either become a TBR keeper, or a TBR removal.  One or the other, and no going back.
  3. and a TBR removal.   I think this is pretty self explanatory.  It's going and not coming back.  I'll either donate it, or sell it depending on what I have time for.
Here's what I came up with:
  • Any book that has an overall rating of 3.76 and above is an automatic TBR keeper.
  • Any book that falls between 3.4-3.75 is going to go into a questionable keeper pile, which I have a feeling is going to be big.
  • Any book that has received less than 3.39 stars is destined to a second life somewhere else.  I know...an almost mid range 3.00 star rating isn't a keeper?  But I've got to draw the line somewhere and if I convert that to a grade rating we're probably talking a C to C+, which is just...average.  And I'm not looking for average for the TBR.  I want more.  I deserve more.
I've come to realize that the reason why I have a TBR is that it seemed at the time that they all were books that had potential to become a favorite for one reason or another.  And with all of the new releases I'm no longer interested in holding on to books that are just....OK, or mediocre...or run of the mill (i.e. average).  I want the really good, to great reads.  The ones that are special.  Why waste my time, which I already know is limited and my valuable bookshelf space with stories that aren't special in some way?  And I'm hoping that with the lure of all of these potential great reads just sitting there on my bookshelves that I might be more tempted to try and read at least one of the TBR books each month.

I used Goodreads more last year than I had anticipated, and for the most part it's fairly reliable as long as a book has a fair number of ratings, but that doesn't mean that it's fool proof, which is why I'd like to have your help too.  I'm going to make a list of the books that are "questionable keepers" that I am unsure about, and I'd like to know what you think...because my biggest fear in trying this out is getting rid of something that I would love just because of a star rating.  Most of you have been followers for a while so you know what types of books that I like...or at least I hope you do :)  I'm thinking I'll probably have some kind of poll or spreadsheet where you can tell me whether it's  should be a keeper or a tosser on the books that fall in the 3.4-3.75 range that I am still on the fence about.  Unfortunately I have a feeling that that list could be somewhat large...but we shall see.

So what do you think?  Am I completely insane for trying to weed some of them out of the TBR?  Do you have any advice?  Have you done anything like this, or are you more discerning when adding books to your TBR?  If so, what are your criteria?  And would you provide input if I were do to a poll...maybe separate it out into several polls based on sub-genre of romance so it's not too time consuming?  I know, lots of questions, but this is serious business my friends!  LOL.

p.s. I focusing on my print books first...then depending on how well that goes I'll attempt to tackle my e-book TBR (yes I have one of those as well), then maybe my Goodreads wishlist :)  Sad, isn't it, LOL

p.s.s If you're an author that ends up in the TBR tosser pile, my sincere apologies...hopefully it's new owner will become a new fan :)


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*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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Review: Nightfire by Lisa Marie Rice

Thursday, February 23

Title: Nightfire*
Author:  Lisa Marie Rice
Series: A Protector’s Novel:  Marine Force Recon #3
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Avon Red
Format: Paperback or e-book
Date/Year: Feb. 7, 2012
Reviewed by: ELF

*This book was provided to reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Summary from the publisher:

More thrilling and sexy romantic suspense from The Protectors series—an ex-Special Forces operative must pull off his most daring mission yet when the woman he loves is in danger…

Chloe Mason can’t remember much about her childhood, except for being in and out of hospitals. Now healthy and all grown up, she’s determined to fill the gaping hole that was her past. When she finds her long lost brother, Harry, she discovers family and something else that was missing from her life. Love.

As a child, Mike Keillor helplessly watched as his parents were massacred. Vowing to never again be vulnerable, he joined the Marines and became a Recon sniper, SWAT officer, and an expert in martial arts, before establishing his own successful security company. When his friend and partner Harry reconnects with his long lost sister, Chloe, the hard-as-nails Mike is felled by the one thing he can’t fight. Love.

But their future is jeopardized when Chloe accidentally steps into the path of the Russian mob. Though his adversary is way bigger than he is, nothing can stop Mike from saving the woman who has captured his heart. He lost his family, and he will not lose Chloe. Failure is not an option.

My Musings:

Mike Keillor is the third leg of the triad that comprises the RBK Security, Inc. company.  A retired SWAT officer who served in the military as a Marine Force Recon sniper, Mike has never recovered from the childhood trauma that orphaned him and ultimately resulted in his finding his brothers of the heart (Sam Reston and Harry Bolt) at the foster home they all shared.  The unalloyed happiness of the others does little to eliminate Mike’s tendency to drink too much and engage in indiscriminate one night stands until the arrival of Chloe Mason and her bombshell announcement.  Recognizing a kindred spirit who still bears scars from her own childhood, Mike feels compelled to offer the fragile woman his unconditional protection and support no matter what his personal cost.

Chloe Mason has survived insurmountable odds despite having had 55 broken bones and a loveless childhood.  She is fragile physically but has developed an indomitable spirit thanks to her inner strength and the brief period of nurturing received at a private school.  Her desire to help other oppressed women places her in severe danger but also gives her the undeniable opportunity to blossom and grow into a contributing member of society.

A great conclusion to the trilogy about three closely-knit men who forged their relationship in the shared hardships of their youth and honed their skills in various branches of the military before rejoining to form a successful security agency in San Diego that also has a mission to assist abused women.  The two distinctive women from the previous books (“Into the Crossfire” and “Hotter Than Wildfire”) also make appearances in this tale as they add their unique skills to the resources available to protect Chloe after she becomes a target for foreign assailants through her work with abused women.   Mike must conquer his own demons even as he searches for acceptance and forgiveness from the woman that he will do anything to keep safe, from himself as well as those who would seek to harm her.

I love the males in this series because they are so strong and capable yet are transformed into mush by the women (and girls) in their lives.  The strong sense of puzzlement depicted when faced with a crying female, the careful tiptoeing of the hulking alpha male who has a stern conversation with his genitalia and the unconditional surrender gifted to the female(s) in his life all make these great reads for me.  I found the torture scenes a little bit graphic for comfort but I certainly am even more impressed and dismayed by the idea that the elite military forces willingly undergo such torture as part of their training.  I do think that the weaknesses in Mike’s home defense were a little uncharacteristic (although understandably necessary to move the plot along) given what the guys do for a living but I feel that altogether this was a great story and a fitting end to the trilogy.  I have hopes that the secondary characters briefly mentioned will get their own time to shine (especially the wiz back in Boston).  A thrilling romantic read packed with intense emotions, action and suspense.

Ratings:

Overall: 4.5 stars
Sensuality level: 3 (There are sex scenes, tastefully done...but kind of sweet for Rice)

For a complete understanding and definition of the ratings at Seductive Musings, click here

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*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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Guest Author & Giveaway: Samantha Grace featuring Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel

Wednesday, February 22

Did you know that according to Wikipedia there are two types of rakes?  The penitent and the persistent.  The penitent being one who is reformed by a heroine, the persistent...well he's just a lost cause and more than likely would end up the villain :)  

Lord Andrew Forest, a "penitent rake",  is the hero of Samantha Grace's debut historical romance, and both are my guest today to share a bit about Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel, and his transformation from a rake to a devoted husband.  Enjoy!


Hello, Samantha Grace here, author of the debut regency historical romance, Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel. Today I’ve brought along two special guests to help me answer the question of whether a rake can ever be redeemed. Please welcome Miss Lana Hillary and Lord Andrew Forest, the heroine and hero from my book.
 
     Oh, dear. Lord Andrew is frowning at me now.
     “You said nothing about rakes and redemption being the topics,” he replies.
     Miss Hillary pats his arm in a soothing gesture. His crossness fades as he meets her loving gaze. “He prefers the term scoundrel, Mrs. Grace, and he’s correct. We agreed to this interview because we thought we were talking about education.”
     Er, well. In a sense, we are. Did either of you happen to notice the title of your book?
     “What book?” she asks.
     The book I wrote about how the two of you met and fell in love.
     “Our lives are the subject of a book?” A lazy smile eases across Lord Andrew’s lips. “I hope you edited out parts. Wouldn’t want to scandalize your poor readers.”
     They’re built of sterner stuff than that, my lord.
     “I see. So, what is the title of your tell-all book again?”
     Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel. It’s about an heiress in her second season that tangles with a rake—I beg your pardon, my lord. I meant to say scoundrel—and turns the tables on him after they’ve been intimate by running away.
     His eyes narrow and his frown returns. “I was only half-teasing the night I met Miss Hillary and accused her of employing the strategy of running from a gent until she snags him. It sure worked with me. I took off after her like the hounds of hell were chasing me when she disappeared.”
     “There was no strategy involved, Drew. I genuinely wanted to get away from you.”
     “But why? We’re perfect together.”
     “You have a short memory. I believe my desire to escape had everything to do with your desire to never settle for one woman. You only asked me to marry you out of obligation, and I couldn’t bear the thought of you hating me.”
     Which brings us back to the topic of the day. Can a scoundrel be redeemed? 
     “Really, Mrs. Grace. You are a single-minded creature.” Lord Andrew turns toward Miss Hillary. “I could never hate you, peach.”
     “I know that now, but I was in a panic. I couldn’t believe how foolish I had been.”
     Ahem. This is touching and all, but…
     Lord Andrew sighs. “I aim to please, madame, so allow me to be frank. Had I known what a bitter pill to swallow it was to be abandoned by one’s love interest, I would have taken more care with the ladies’ feelings. I suppose I have Miss Hillary to thank for showing me the error of my ways.”
     Yes, it does seem you learned a few things since your first encounter with her in the gardens at the Eldridge ball.
     Miss Hillary’s gaze shoots between Lord Andrew and me. “Like what, exactly? I wouldn’t want him to change too much. I like him the way he is.”
     “Thank you, my sweet, but Mrs. Grace is correct. I have learned a few important facts.”
     Miss Hillary flashes an impish smile. “Do tell.”
     “Hmm… Allow me to think on it.” He drums his fingers against his thigh then snaps them. “One must be careful when choosing flowers for a lady. You wouldn’t want to send the wrong message.”
     I was thinking something more substantial.
     “Very well. A slice of apple pie in the face can be a powerful aphrodisiac.”
     Miss Hillary laughs, her cheeks flushing with color. “Drew.”
     “And she taught me to play whist.”
     “You already knew how to play. You simply allowed me to win so you could see what prize I would demand.”
     Lord Andrew winks at me. “She demanded kisses.”
     (I wink back.) I know. I wrote it.
     “Then allow me to bestow my thanks for the carriage scene, and the inn, and the carriage again, and—”
     Yes, you’re welcome, my lord. Could we please get back to our purpose here today?
     “I think he also learned I’m hard to manage,” Miss Hillary interjects.
      Lord Andrew grins at her fondly. “The stubborn minx doesn’t listen to a word I say. Not even to save her own life.”
     They link hands, their matching smiles fading. “You are my life, Drew. I couldn’t leave you to die in the fire.”
     Lord Andrew smoothes a loose strand of Miss Hillary’s lovely copper hair behind her ear. “If you truly want to know what I learned, Mrs. Grace, I’ll tell you. Lana taught me I am capable of love.”
     Aw, that’s rather sweet. Should we ask readers a question for a chance to win a copy of Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel?
     “Yes, let’s ask a question,” Miss Hillary says. “Do you like reformed rake stories? Why or why not?”


There’s no taming the wicked. 

Jaded heiress Lana Hillary learned this lesson the hard way when the dashing man of her dreams turned out to be a lying scoundrel. With two Seasons behind her and the memory of his betrayal still fresh in her mind, Lana seeks a match with a respectable gent. But why must they all be so properly boring? Unable to rein in her bold nature for long, Lana flirts with trouble and finds herself entangled with the exact type of man she’s vowed to avoid.

Love ‘em-and- leave ‘em Lord Andrew Forest lives for pleasure and offers no apologies. But he receives a dose of his own medicine when his family’s innocent houseguest beds him then disappears without a by your leave. Rejected by the most captivating woman in England, Drew is determined to intercept Lana Hillary before she reaches London and convince her to marry him. Then he’ll teach the little vixen a thing or two about how to love a man.



(check out Paul Marron on the cover of Lady Amelia's Mess and a Half!)


Congratulations Samantha on Miss Hillary being named one of the top 10 Romances for Spring 2012 by Publishers Weekly, and many thanks for being my guest today!

If you'd like to learn more about Samantha Grace and the books she writes you can find her at her website www.samanthagraceauthor.com, her Blog, Facebook, Twitter,  & Goodreads.  Her extras page has Family Trees, which I always love :)

To celebrate the release of Samantha Grace's debut historical romance, Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel, the first book in her Beau Monde Bachelor series, her publisher Casablanca Sourcebooks would like to giveaway a print copy of the book to one lucky Musings follower.  Here's how you can enter to win...

Ways to earn entries:
  • Mandatory: Answer the question posed to readers in the post AND leave a meaningful comment and/or ask her a question about this book or series.  (good for 1 entry)
  • Mandatory: You MUST be a Google Friend Connect (GFC) follower in order to be eligible to win (unfortunately an email subscriber, or subscription in Google reader, and a follower are not the same thing so make sure you are signed up as a follower if you'd like to win this book)
  • If you have a blog, or even if you don't, you can earn extra entries by telling your friends. If they successfully enter to win and mention that you sent them you can each earn extra entries. You can blog about it with a link to this post, post it on Facebook, Twitter, email...or even word of mouth (good for 5 entries for the referrer and the commenter for each friend) . Please note that to earn the points they must mention your GFC name so that I can match you.
  • Purchase any item from the Seductive Musings Amazon store by using this link, or the Amazon widget contained within this post and email a copy of your purchase receipt to me no later than the deadline to enter (email available in sidebar). Sorry purchases made prior to this date do not apply, and link contained in this post must be used. No faxes or snail mail copies are allowed. No purchases are necessary to win. (good for 25 entries, or 50 entries if a purchase is made from the featured author's available titles)
How to enter:
  • You can choose to enter as many different ways that you want, but please place all of your entries in ONE comment 
Rules and disclaimers:
  • This contest is open to US & Canadian addresses only
  • You must be at least 18 years or older, or of legal age in your country
  • The contest will end on February 24th at 11:59 pm EST and winner will be posted after they have been selected
  • Winner(s) will be selected using Random.org
  • The winner(s) will have THREE days from the date they are posted to provide a mailing address. If you do not contact me within three days a replacement winner will be selected. NO EXCEPTIONS
  • The book(s) will be mailed directly from the publisher or author and no substitutions are allowed
  • Winners will be subject to one copy per household, which means that if you win the same title in two or more contests, that you will only receive one copy of the title in the mail
  • Seductive Musings is not responsible for prizes that are not honored, distributed in a timely manner, lost, stolen, or damaged during transit 
  • All giveaways are subject to change/cancellation without prior written notice
Good Luck!

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*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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Review: The Price of Innocence by Susan Sizemore

Title:  The Price of Innocence*
Author: Susan Sizemore
Series: N/A
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: TKA Distribution
Format: ebook
Date/Year: December 2011 (originally published by Avon in 1999)
Reviewed by: Andrea

*This book was provided to the reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Summary from the publisher:

Sherrie Hamilton is a woman with a scandalous secret past. When she travels to London for a Season of helping to launch her cousins on the marriage mart, she runs into her past. Literally. In the one place she never expected to find a pirate, she encounters the sensuous rogue who kept her as his lover years before.

Jack PenMartyn, Earl of PenMartyn, seeks to put his wicked past raiding the China Sea behind him. One thing he can't forget is the young woman whose pure innocence he stole; the woman who is the mother of the child he never knew he had.

He knows that with one false word, Sherrie will expose the secrets of his past. But does he dare to hope that she will give in to the temptation of their reckless passion for a future together?

I don’t think the blurb gives enough background so I’m going to expand on it.

“The price of innocence,” he said, “is what someone is willing to pay to destroy it.”  p. 9

Years ago Jack was a pirate and attacked a Malay war junk to steal whatever treasure it had on board.  Sherrie was the treasure; she was kidnapped and locked in a cage, the plan being to sell her to a Singapore brothel.  Jack could stick with that plan and sell her to the highest bidder but instead he makes her a proposition.  She agrees to belong to him for one month, at the end of the month he’ll release her.


This book picks up on their story 9 years later when the meet again in London.

My Musings:

Sherrie has the facade of a respectable widow, underneath she is anything but.  She’s seen and done so much in her life that nothing scares her anymore.  She approaches life as an adventure and she is going to enjoy it.  She was helpless in her past but has overcome that to become a dominant, independent and powerful woman.
“Sometimes she thought she was the only woman in the world who believed that men didn’t have a God-given right to do whatever pleased them because they came equipped with a dangling bit of muscle and skin they couldn’t control, and generally used to think with instead of their brains.”  p. 166

Jack is racked with guilt.  He hates the things he has done in the past and cannot forgive himself.  Nobody really knows who or what he is, including Jack himself.

I’m going to describe this book in two parts, the first half and the second half.  I was a little bored with the first half due to all the inner dialogue and flashbacks.  The experiences and stories both characters had from Asia were what kept me going.  The Asian connection intrigued me because it’s so different from other historical romances.  No doubt about it, this book is unique. I instantly liked Sherrie but had a hard time with Jack because he was so difficult to understand and came across as one dimensional. 

It is a slow read in the beginning because of all the flashbacks and the way Jack and Sherrie are dancing around each other while nothing concrete is happening.  Once you’re finally caught up on their history and they actually have a meaningful conversation, the story picks up fast.  All the details in the first half of the book are building up for what is to come.  Everything starts to come together and the second half of this book is where I was really pulled into the story.  That’s when I decided I loved both Sherrie and Jack. They have such a strong animalistic and passionate attraction, it feels right and makes you root for them.  I always enjoy seeing two strong-willed people battle each other and themselves before finding their happiness together. 

It’s a fun and interesting book packed with action.  I’m glad I took a chance on it, I thoroughly enjoyed it and didn’t want it to end!

Ratings:

Overall: 4
Sensuality level: 3
For a complete understanding and definition of the ratings at Seductive Musings, click here

Other Reviews:





*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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Guest Author & Giveaway: Amelia Fayer featuring Lust in the Library

Tuesday, February 21


I've had a long time love affair with libraries.  I love the potential that they hold, the things you can learn, and all the great stories that are waiting to be discovered.  One thing I haven't found though, is the type of love/lust that my guest author's characters find in a library in her debut novella :)

Amelia Fayer is my guest today to share a bit about her story, Lust in the Library, and the inspiration that sparked her Muse.  Enjoy!


I am so excited to be here at Seductive Musings, thanks for having me.

A lot of people ask author’s how they come up with their stories, and honestly, most of the time it’s a pretty boring confluence of events that happen to click at the right time in the right way that explode with all the force of an atomic bomb into a story.

‘Lust in the Library’ though...well, that one was ready-made.

When I was in college there was a list of places you were supposed to ‘do it,’ I think that every big university must have these (or at least I hope so, I don’t want to have gone to the *only* school with one of these lists). These are usually places that are intrinsic to the school (the president’s lawn) or dangerous to get away with (the quad). I would have ‘very serious discussions’ with my roommates about what would constitute sex in those situations.

Of course, one of “The Seven,” as they were known, was the stacks in the library, and considered one of the easier locations to ‘get’ as they afforded a certain level of privacy, at least more than the quad. Which got me thinking: If the library was the ‘safest’ and ‘easiest’ place to have sex, shouldn’t there be couples in flagrante delicto around every corner?

Bam!  The original seed for “Lust in the Library” was planted.

It’s been a few years since I graduated, but the story never really went away and during a girl’s getaway weekend, my old college roommates and I began talking about "The Seven" again and this time I wasn’t distracted by silly things like term papers.

This past year, I was at my alma mater and decided to take a walk around the library, thinking about the things that could be going on around every corner. Of course, I didn’t see or hear of any ‘goings-on.’

That’s what fiction is for.


Some like it hot, and some like it in the reference section.

Sara is having a love affair with books. But, since books can't make love to you, it means she's in the middle of a very long dry spell. Until a sexy Brit shows up. Suddenly she's learning just how stimulating a library can be up against a bookcase, behind the card catalog, on the circulation desk…

Meanwhile: Veronica is incredibly frustrated. While Sara and her new man are using the library as their personal adult playground, she's stuck with only her thesis and her sexual fantasies. But Andrew, her crush, isn't above using his assets to get Veronica right where he wants her: alone, in a darkened corner of the stacks. 

Who knew reading could be this pleasurable?


Congratulations Amelia, and thanks for being my guest today!  If you'd like to learn more about Amelia and the books she writes you can find her at her website www.ameliafayer.com, Facebook.

To celebrate the release of Lust in the Library, Amelia would like to giveaway a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter during the tour!  Here's how you can enter to win:

Ways to earn entries:
  • Mandatory:  Ask Amelia a question about her book and/or tell us about any "Seven" type locations you've ever heard of.  (good for 1 entry)
How to enter:
  • Leave a comment at each stop on the blog tour to earn additional entries for the $25 GC. 
Rules and disclaimers:
  • The winner(s) for the $25 GC will be selected randomly from among all of the comments of the blog tour by either the author or by Goddess Fish Promotions who will also be responsible for contacting the winner(s).
  • Seductive Musings is not responsible for prizes that are not honored, distributed in a timely manner, lost, stolen, or damaged during transit 
  • All giveaways are subject to change/cancellation without prior written notice
Good Luck!
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*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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Monday's Muse

Monday, February 20

Sorry, but the image containing the Monday's Muse has been removed from this blog so as not to violate any copyright issues.  Thanks for your understanding!


On the home front, there's absolutely nothing new going on for me. Nada, it's kind of boring really.  I think I might be getting a case of spring fever because I'm feeling a bit restless...too bad I can't take a vacation.  So because I want and need a vacation, I'm going to take a virtual one with our Muse this week.  Not literally, I'll still be here, I'd just rather be.....somewhere else :)  If you could go on spring vacation right now, where would you go?

In more exciting news, Seductive Musings has two new reviewers!  Here's a little bit about them:

Andrea:  I've been reading romance books since junior high.  My favorite genre are historical and paranormal.  I'm educated as a chemist/toxicologist but I quit that career 5 years ago when my husband got an offer to transfer to Germany.   I was also pregnant at the time so it worked out well.   We lived there for 2 years and then came back to the US.   I decided being a mom was more fun than being a chemist so I opted to stay home and have another kid.  Now we have 2 little boys.   I spend my time corralling the kids, reading, tending my garden (veggies only, I don't do flowers) and lounging by the pool.  It's a great life and I'm enjoying it :) 
E.L.F: I am an avid reader, usually reading 3-5 books per week over a wide variety of genres. I like to garden but tend to get a little lackadaisical about watering and I am always thrilled when my iris, poppies and roses bloom. I spend far too much time playing Words by Post and adding to my Dream Zoo, dabble with crocheting and putting together jigsaw puzzles but I tend to live up to my self-description as a reading addict. Musings about the books I am reading can be found at my blog, The Reading Addict.

Welcome Andrea & E.L.F. !!!!!


This week at Seductive Musings:
  • Monday:  Later today, I'll have winners from any outstanding giveaways
  • Tuesday: Author Amelia Fayer will be here to talk about her new book Lust in the Library....this happens to me all the time...except the object of my lust is the Romance new release section, rather than an actual person.  I could easily be persuaded with the right inspiration though :)
  • Wednesday:  Author Samantha Grace will be here to celebrate her debut historical romance Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel.  I can't even begin to tell you my confusion with this book because when I first learned about it had a different title and I kept thinking it was too different books, with something similar about them...a few weeks ago I finally realized it was the same book.. *headdesk*.
  • Thursday & Friday:  I have reviews to post from the two new Seductive Reviewers, and a few more from me (hopefully)
  • Tempting Trailer: This week's Tempting Trailer is for Brenda Joyce's Seduction from her Spymaster's Men series.





Also of Interest:
  • Author Holli Winters is celebrating an early spring with a Kickoff to Spring Kindle giveaway.  Please see the author's website for entry details, rules, and deadlines (it's as easy as sending an email....how sweet would that be to win a Kindle in time for spring/summer reading?)

Finally, I'd like to congratulate all of the authors will new releases this week, especially Musings authors Jill Shalvis (x2), Julia London, & Beth Kery.  Congrats Ladies!!!



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*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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My Favorite Romances of 2011

Friday, February 17

Well, here it is.  My list of favorite romance reads from 2011, and it's only February 2012 :)  Most "best of" lists came out at the end of December/beginning of January and I really meant to get this posted sooner, but life intervened :)  Anyways, here it is...better late than never, right?  I can't wait to see what you think.

Here's how I selected my favorites:
  • I started with looking at all of the books that I read that I ranked with a 4.5 star or above rating, then I separated them out by sub-genre (historical, contemporary...).  
  • Not all of the books that received a 4.5 or above rating made the favorites list.  The stories that made the final lists are ones that "stuck" with me throughout the year...in other words were memorable (when sometimes I have a hard time remembering specifics about a book I finished a week ago, means that the story was special in some way for me).  
  • You may also notice that not all of the subgenres that I read are represented in this favorites list....that's because the books in those categories didn't score a high enough star rating to qualify for the status of "favorite".
  • End result, these are the books that I would highly recommend even if it was a book that you normally wouldn't be drawn to.  If I didn't own a copy of a book that made the "favorites", then they would be on my buy list.  Long story short...I LOVED LOVED LOVED these romances!  
  • Also good to note, not all of the books that made the list were published in 2011, some were published prior to that, but all were read by me in 2011.

Let's start with Contemporary Romances/Romantic Suspense, in no particular order: 
Honorable Mention: The entire I-Team series by Pamela Clare

As you can tell I had a major romance addiction to Pamela Clare's brand of romance.  And here's a hint for the 2012...she'll make that one too (Surrender will definitely make the list).

Here are my favorite Historical Romances from 2011...

It should come as no surprise that this list is the longest out of all of them.  I was going to try and make each list have the same number or recommendations, but then decided against that.  The ones that made the list were just too good to leave off to make the numbers even, and I couldn't narrow it down any further :)  Again, in no real particular order:
There are a few new names to the historical category this year.  I found Julie Anne Long, and wonder why it took me so "long" to find her, LOL.  Pun not intended, but funny nonetheless :) 

I also have a few favorites that made the list again, including Sarah MacLean and Elizabeth Hoyt. Seriously these ladies rock the regency (or in any period really)! Maya Banks made my list of favorites last year too, but in the erotic romance category.  I enjoyed all of the books in Ms. Banks' Highland series, but Seduction of a Highland Lass is something special.  And, I have been a fan of Tessa Dare's since her debut a few years back, but I think her Spindle Cove series is my favorite of all of the books she has written so far. 

I've read Carolyn Jewel before, but only her paranormal romances.  I thought they were good, but as I've said before paranormal is really just not my thing.  But Lord Ruin came highly recommended by two virtual friends that I chat with at RRT on Friday's (Limecello & CaffeyCathie) so I decided to give it a try.  I can't thank them enough for turning me on to her historical romances.  I really loved Lord Ruin and will definitely be seeking out her newest one, Not Wicked Enough, released just this month.

And no matter what name Mia Marlowe uses (Emily Bryan, Diane Groe...) or who she writes with (Connie Mason) she continues to woo me with her words.  I can't wait for the next book in her Touch of Seduction series, Touch of a Rogue, which comes out February 28th.

 

Last year I read only a handful of paranormal romances, so to make a list of favorites to recommend in this category is a bit ridiculous really.  There are many other bloggers who know the subgenre of PNR/Urban Fantasy romance much much better than I do, because frankly I know very little, and they may or may not agree with my recommendation, but I seriously loved The Goblin King by Shona Husk (4.5 stars).  I loved the world building, I loved the characters and I thought it was different, unique, and emotionally captivating.  And while I don't expect to ready many paranormal romances in 2012, I most certainly will be looking for the next book in her Shadowlands series, Kiss of the Goblin Prince, which comes out in May 2012.

 

Now let's get to my favorite Erotic Romances, again in no particular order:
These ladies bring the heat, but they also tell a damn good story!  Next to historical romances, erotic romances are some of my favorites books to read.  Combine the two and I would be/am in booklover heaven :)  Seriously though, every single one of these books has a fantastic romance that just so happens to contain some hot lovin'...and I like it, a lot :)

There are some repeats in this list too, and I should say that I was a Beta reader for Rising, Freestyle, though that had no bearing whatsoever in my love for this story.  I think it is my favorite of all of the books Ms. Arend has written so far.  Cherise Sinclair continues to be a powerhouse when it comes to Erotic Romance with BDSM.  And Lorelei James, she is my absolute favorite erotic romance writer...hands down.


I don't think you can go wrong with any of the books that made my favorites list, but there is one book that, even though it didn't score a perfect 5.0, was my most favorite of 2011 (and just so you know, it has nothing to do with the cover...really).

I read it early in the year, within the first couple of months, but it stayed with me and had one of my favorite heroines from 2011 too.  It's kind of funny because I always say that heroes make or break a romance for me....but over the past two years it's actually been the heroine that played a major part in selecting my favorite book .  For the heroine to be the "villain" in a previous story, but to then turn her around and make us cheer for her to get her own happy ending...that is some good story telling!  It was everything that I love about a great romance.

So without further ado, my overall favorite from 2011 was....Changing the Game by Jaci Burton!  I knew when I first read it that it would be a favorite...I just didn't know it would be THE favorite. LOVED, LOVED LOVED it!


 

OK, there it is.  My favorites of 2011.  What were some of yours?  Agree, disagree?  I showed you mine, now you show me yours :)




Like numbers? Here are some stats about what I read in 2011:
  • Total books read: 116  comprised of :
    • Historical:  56 (48%) 
    • Erotic:  27 (23%) 
    • contemporary: 26 (23%) 
    • paranormal:  7 (6%) 
  • Ratings overview : 
    • 4.5 stars or higher: 20 (17%) 
    • 4.0-4.49 stars: 42 (36%) 
    • 3.00-3.99 stars: 46 (40%) 
    • 1-2.99  stars: 8 (7%)
  • Authors that made the list 2 years in a row?  
    • 6  are repeats, 
    • 7 are new to the favorites list.  
  • I tried 23 new to me authors this past year, but what is most interesting is:
    • that 6 of the 18 authors that made my favorites list were new to me.  
    • That's 33%, which I think is HUGE considering I had no idea what to expect from them, though some came highly recommended which is why I decided to read them anyways...so maybe it shouldn't come as such a big surprise.  
  • 12 of the books that made the list were ones that I had agreed to review, the other 7 were just books that I was intrigued by. 
  • 80 of the 116 books I read in 2011 (69%) were print the other 31% were in the form of digital books. 


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*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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My FREE Kindle Quest

I've wanted a Kindle for what seems like forever, but haven't been able to afford it (and that's saying something since I can justify the cost of just about ANYTHING that I really want). I've tried winning one in one of the many giveaways that have taken place over the couple of years, but with no luck :( So I've decided to take matters in hand so to speak :) I've now decided that I am going to accumulate enough Swagbucks from my Swabucks searches to buy one...so in essence my new Kindle will be FREE...funded entirely by my internet searches done on Swagbucks. I'll keep you informed of the Great Kindle Quest below (in case you're interested....if not feel free to just skip over this part, but really who wouldn't be interested in a FREE Kindle?)
Goal: $119
Current Swagbucks Amazon Gift Card balance: $90.00
If you'd like to learn how you can earn Swagbucks and earn your own Amazon Gift Cards to buy books, a Kindle or other merchandise sold at Amazon contact me and I would be more than happy to tell you how I plan to go about it. (just so you know you can earn both Amazon.com and Amazon.ca gift cards on this rewards site)
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