Giveaway: Blogfest 2012!

Friday, September 28

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Welcome!  If this is your first time visiting Seductive Musings I hope you find something tempting, and for my long time followers then I KNOW I have something that will tempt you :)    Seriously, I'm giving away some FABULOUS books!

To celebrate Blogfest 2012 I am giving away a massive amount of books (some of which have been featured here at SM), and swag , all listed below into different subgenres of Romance novels, and included in the Amazon widget below.  Due to shipping costs, these prizes are for US residents only.  Sorry :(


 Prize #1:  Erotic Paranormal Romance
  • The Darkest Heart by Thea Devine
  • Desire After Dark by Jo Carlisle
  • Bloodright by Karin Tabke

Prize # 2:  Contemporary Erotic Romance

  • The Perfect Play by Jaci Burton
  • Unbridled by Beth Williamson
  • Wrangled and Tangled by Lorelei James

Prize #3:Paranormal Romance

  • Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione
  • Wicked as They Come by Delilah Dawson
  • Tempted by The Elisabeth Naughton
  • Night Falls on the Wicked by Sharie Kohler

Prize #4:  Contemporary Romance
  • The Fireman Who Loved Me by Jennifer Bernard
  • Moonlight in the Morning by Jude Deveraux
  • Making Waves by Tawna Fenske
  • Scrumptious by Amanda Usen

Prize #5:  Romantic Suspense
  • Twisted by Laura Griffin
  • With No Remorse by Cindy Gerard
  • Afterglow by Cherry Adair
  • Riptide by Cherry Adair

Prize #6:  Category Romance
  • Cowboys Like Us by Vicki Lewis Thompson
  • The Billionaire's Unexpected Heir by Kathie DeNosky
  • Her Best Friend by Sarah Mayberry
  • Enticed by His Forgotten Lover by Maya Banks
  • A Cold Creek Secret by RaeAnne Thayne

Prize #7:  Highland Historical Romance
  • The Devil Wears Plaid by Teresa Medeiros
  • Embrace the Highland Warrior by Anita Clenney
  • The Highlander's Heart by Amanda Forester
  • Warrior's Redemption by Melissa Mayhue

Prize #8:  Historical Romance
  • Touch of a Thief by Mia Marlowe
  • Flawless by Carrie Lofty
  • A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant
  • Deception by Kris Kennedy

Note:  some of the books being given away are signed by the author, some are ARC's, others are finished copies.  Some may have been read for review, but all are new, or like new and have lots of reading life & enjoyment left.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The next stop on the Blogfest tour is:
Snarkymamma
Kiru Taye Writes
From the TBR Pile
Hesperia Loves Books
Feather Stone, Author

Click here and follow the info for "Blogfest" at A Journey of Books for a full list of the blogs that are participating and giving away prizes. 

Good Luck & Thanks for Visiting!


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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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Thursday's Thoughts: Unromanticizing the Romance Cover

Thursday, September 27


I've always been attracted to book covers, most especially romance book covers :)  What's not to love?  After all it is a visual representation of the love story inside....that is until recently.

There is no doubt that Fifty Shades of Grey has been great for the romance & publishing industry in general, but it has also led to what I call "The unromanticization of the romance cover" with book covers that represent not a person, but an object, and I am very saddened by this trend.  I know some may not agree with me, but I can't help it.  I hope with all my heart this trend dies a quick death.  Let me explain.

Because of the success of Fifty Shades, publishers have been scrambling to redo book covers to give them a "look" that doesn't say "Hey I'm a romance book", but is instead a visual, "If you liked that, then you'll like this too, so buy it!".  The Fifty Shades covers are a lessen in less is more, much like the original Twilight series.  And I am sure this was no mistake.

The Twilight covers focused usually on one object that had a tie in to the story, as well as featuring a prominent color (red) against a dark background.


Then we have the Fifty Shades covers.  Again featuring one object, significant to the story, and a prominent color, this time in a gray blue....for obvious reasons.   I've done some searches to try and see if the book covers were changed when they were acquired by the larger publishers (as often happens), but I've never been able to locate an alternate cover from the original publisher which leads me to believe that this is the look they gave the books originally.  I could be wrong about that, regardless though I think it was a brilliant way to market these books considering it's origins, and frankly very economical.


It's kind of hard to argue with that kind of success.  You have a series that is wildly popular and has been made into blockbuster movies, and you have a derivative of that that was also HUGELY successful so why not ride on it's coattails?  I guess it should come as no surprise that this recipe for success is being replicated by publishers left and right...and backwards.

The first book that I noticed to get the Fifty Shades makeover, much to my disappointment, was Bared to You by Sylvia Day.  Keep in mind that Ms. Day's book was already a very successful seller before being acquired by a NY publisher and given a new cover.  So it's not that it's sales weren't good.


I for one really loved the first cover.  I loved the colors, the visual representation and the fonts.  I thought it was a stunner!  I'd click on that one again and again to read more about it.  The new one....I'm ambivalent towards.  Nothing about cufflinks says "Romance" to me. But obviously it's not a far jump from the Fifty Shades tie cover to the cufflink cover.  Still I would probably pass over it if it didn't have Sylvia Day's name on it.

A cover that I was kind of shocked that got a makeover was Lora Leigh's Wild Card....the first book from her Elite Ops romantic suspense series (which just so happens to be one of my favorite Lora Leigh books ever).  We went from a book cover that is very typical of this sub-genre of romance to a romance cover a la Fifty Shades.  Muted colors, an object significant to the story...at least this time they did at least keep the dog tags from the original :)  Again it would be the name that would give me a clue that is a romance book, not the cover.

 
Then there are Megan Hart's covers.  I have to admit that I thought that the makeover the publisher gave The Space Between Us, before it was even published, was a complete crime against book covers.  I really loved the first one, not necessarily for the colors or the fonts used, but the visual representation of the image of the two people and how it related to the title. I loved it.  Then they gave it a Fifty Shades/Twilight makeover and I hated it.  Megan Hart's story are so far from Twilight in sensuality, and extremely complex emotional issues, that the two should never be associated with each other!  Even if it is all in the name of marketing.

  
Did you notice the tulips with the red tips?  Does it remind you of the Twilight series cover.  It should.  To be somewhat fair they gave several of Megan Hart's books flower makeovers.  And while Georgia O'Keefe was known for her flower paintings and their erotic representations...these covers don't quite achieve that same sensuality.    This is what they did :(  They went from this, which I thought were beautiful and relevant representations of the stories:


To This:


*sigh* I hate the new covers ;( Not because they are bad designs, but for what they represent....or their lack of representation. The originals in each of these instances had personality...and that is what I really hate about these new covers.  They lack personality and any connection to love.  These are love stories, involving two (or sometimes more) individuals with emotions...so what is so wrong with having an actual Human Being representing that love, something beyond impersonal inanimate objects?  We are talking LOVE, and there is nothing more personal than that.  There is nothing wrong with that.  So why try to hide what the books are about?

I think the visual representation of what love is, or could be, is incredibly strong.  Just look at the recent story that I first read on Jill Shalvis' blogA love story told in 22 pictures.  They didn't even need words to convey this couples' journey that just so happened to go viral very quickly.  They were even on the Today morning show because of that post.  You couldn't tell the same kind of story using the types of images they are putting on some romance covers today because they lack that human connection and emotion.  The books themselves don't lack emotions, so why should the covers, just because one book made it big?

I understand why publishers are doing it, it's why generic brands often have very similar packaging to name brand objects (not to imply that any of the books are generic versions of Fifty Shades...far from it actually), it's just the point I'm trying to make.  And it's not a new tactic.  But I also have to wonder if the redesigns are more than just a Fifty Shades fall out, they make me wonder if publishers are courting new romance readers more than their core audience with these covers and if this is a trend that will last, or will only be around until romance readers ask for the days of Fabio back, LOL :)  (not really but hey, you can't deny the man ruled the romance book cover for almost a decade!)  Don't get me wrong, I think all of the new book covers are fine...but whose eye are they trying to attract?  And do they also not realize that from a marketing perspective that Human faces sell more than other methods? (see here for just one example.

While they may be riding Fifty Shades coattails now, will they be doing themselves a disservice in the long run when readers go back to wanting covers with people on them...as human nature dictates will almost certainly happen?   Let me say one word to you.  Facebook.  It's called that for many a good reason :)  And it's also very popular :)

What about you? If you were to pick a favorite from each match up, which one would you choose? Regardless of my feelings, what do you think about this new trend in book covers?  Because trust me there are more out there, and coming your way.






p.s. You may wonder, since I also design book covers, will you see me create any looks like this, regardless of my feelings?  The answer is...yes.  For one simple reason.  Demand.  If that is what someone wants to buy, I'll be more than happy to provide it :)


*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: No Flowers Required by Cari Quinn

Tuesday, September 25

Title: No Flowers Required*
Author:  Cari Quinn
Series:  Love Required series #2
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Format: E-Book
Date/Year:  August 2012
Reviewed by: Michele

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

Summary from the publisher:

He’ll give her everything she desires...except his identity.

Flower shop owner Alexa Conroy had it all before the recession hit and her customers fled to cheaper shopping grounds. Desperate to make ends meet, she sells her dream home and moves into the rundown apartments above her shop. When she spots six feet of sexy distraction—complete with muscles, piercings, and tattoos—ripping up flooring, Alexa knows the karmic windfall she’s due just landed on her doorstep.
And the attraction’s definitely not one-sided.

Dillon James, reluctant heir to the corporation about to foreclose on Alexa’s shop, is not about to jeopardize their scorching chemistry by admitting he’s not the building’s handyman. But with only weeks until her business goes under and his identity is revealed, Dillon must find a way to convince Alexa cooperation isn’t a dirty word, help her save the shop from his brother’s greed, and persuade her that he’s not the enemy...or risk losing the only woman who’s seen the real him.

My Musings:

I’m a big fan of Cari Quinn’s erotic romances for Ellora’s Cave, but this was my first time with her new Love Required series for the Brazen line at Entangled. “No Flowers Required” is the follow-up to “No Dress Required” but it works well as a stand-alone story.

Our story begins with the newly downgraded circumstances facing Alexa Conroy as she struggles to keep her recently inherited specialty flower shop open in the face of ongoing competition by the big hardware chain threatening to put her out of business. She’s sold her beloved home in an attempt to keep the bills at bay and moved into an apartment just above her shop that’s barely fit for humans. It seems like the universe is against her in so many ways and that she should just give up. But then she meets Dillon.

“That smiley face makes me want to punch something.”

Dillon James is the co-heir to the company started by his mother and stepfather, one which not only owns the hardware chain that is Alexa’s sworn enemy but also the very building in which she lives. His brother has thrown himself into making the company even more financially successful, and will stop at nothing to make that happen, even if it means kicking Alexa out of her shop and her apartment. But Dillon cares more about people than profit margins, which is why he’s tasked himself with personally rehabilitating all the shabby apartments in the buildings owned by his family’s company. That decision pays off for him on the day he meets Alexa. They have an immediate physical attraction in spite of themselves and that attraction soon builds into an emotional connection which is threatened by what will happen when Alexa finds out who Dillon really is.

“I would’ve said I could shoot rainbows out of my ass to keep your mouth on mine.”

Normally I’m not a big fan of the mistaken identity trope, as it tends to distract me from enjoying the actual story of how the hero and heroine fall in love if it’s not done well. I’m happy to say that “No Flowers Required” handles it very well, especially when we see how the initial misunderstanding occurs from both Alexa and Dillon’s POV and how "the reveal" finally occurs. Both Alexa and Dillon are sympathetically portrayed and their respective circles of friends and family provide additional character support to give us a fuller picture of who they are as individuals and how they can succeed together as a couple. I also liked how Dillon’s brother, the presumed villain of the story, was more than just a stereotype and how we got to see his actual motivations and ultimately, his growth as a key character in the story.

“No Flowers Required” is a winning story of two realistic characters who turn an intense physical attraction into true love. I enjoyed it immensely and will be going back to read the first story in the series while waiting for the next one to be released. 

Ratings:

Overall: 4.5
Sensuality level: 4
(hot and steamy but nothing kinky)

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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, September 24

First, some news.  Apparently Google Feedburner is having some code issues...as in it hasn't been working since the end of last week.  Most of you who use a Reader, like Google Reader (or the like), depend on a blog's "RSS Feed" to update the Readers so that you know when there are new posts.  I am totally and completely dependent on my Reader so when the Feeds don't work I don't get an update.  This is not good.  It's how I follow most websites and blogs.  Supposedly the updates to Readers are still working, which means the Feed isn't completely broken, however I don't believe that the emails generated from the Feed have been working, and quite possibly my Twitter and Facebook updates which are also updated by the RSS Feed.  This is also not good.  

I noticed on Friday that the number of subscribers went from over 900 to 0, and started to panic....then panicked even more when I started to read all of these "the sky is falling Feedburner is dead" posts.  While I have over 900 subscribers, I only have email addresses for about 150 or so of them...so if I had to use a new Feed service I would only be able to notify those 150 about the switch, which means everyone else who uses the Feed in Readers could be left hanging.  Which means that I could potentially lose a HUGE portion of my following and they might think I just completely fell of the face of the earth since they stopped receiving updates.  *Gah!*

So this is what I've been able to surmise.  If you are a GFC follower, all should be OK.  If you subscribe to Seductive Musings using email, then you might not be getting updates.  And if you depend of RSS Feeds for your Reader you are supposedly OK, for now.  If you follow SM using Twitter and Facebook, then you might have missed a few posts since the Feed hasn't updated those sources like it should.

For right now, I'm kind of waiting to see if/when Google fixes Feedburner.  There are rumors that they will kill it altogether, since they are going to stop supporting it Oct 2012.  I was unaware of this fact until last week.  I haven't received any notification from Google about this, but I may have to shop around for another Feed service.  I pray it doesn't come to that, but if it does I will be sure to let you know HERE.

But enough of the doom and gloom.  How was your weekend?  Did you read anything good?  I fell off the wagon of my self imposed Lora Leigh ban.  When I was at the library last week they had Stygian's Honor and I caved like it was the last chocolate cupcake and I was PMS'ing, LOL.  I thought, "hmmm I wonder if this one will be any better".  I have such fond memories of the Breed series when it first started, that I keep hoping that it will be what I remember them being like.  But I found this book confusing, even though I've read the majority of them, and very much ho hum...and even kind of boring.  Am I remembering the earlier ones incorrectly, or has the series pretty much run it's course?

Needless to say I'm back to my self imposed ban.  Sadly.  I guess I did have a bit more doom and gloom in me after all.  Did you read Stygian's Honor?  If so, what did you think of it?

I need a pick me up, how about you?  Will this do?
Warning:  Quite possibly not work appropriate :)   And if you are tempted to see further work inappropriate images from the same series you should click here...just not at work.


This week at Seductive Musings:
  • Tuesday:  Reviews
  • Wednesday:  Reviews
  • Thursday:  I will have a Thursday's Thoughts for you, and if I can one other review
  • Friday:  Is the beginning of Blogfest where I will be giving away books.  This is a huge blog hop, and I intend to giveaway a lot of books that have been sitting on my bookshelves.  Hopefully you will find something that will tempt you :)

Also of interest: (Updated to add)
  • Win a trip to meet Lori Foster in her Caption This contest for her new book Run the Risk.  Here are just a few of the details (please see the actual contest page for complete rules and disclaimers):

Start: Sept 17th-10AM EST
End: Oct 1st- 11:59PM EST

Prize: A Trip to West Chester, Ohio to Meet Lori Foster at her 2013 Annual Reader & Author Get Together

Details: To ENTER: Submit a creative caption for the cover art of Lori Foster’s RUN THE RISK.

You can vote once per day your favorite entries


Finally, I'd like to congratulate all of the authors with new releases this week, especially Musings authors Jillian Stone, Lori Foster, Claire Ashgrove, Helen Scott Taylor, Rebecca Rogers MaherKatharine Ashe, Katie LaneGaelen Foley, & Maya Banks!  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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Guest Author: Victoria Roberts featuring Temptation in a Kilt

Friday, September 21

I'm always up for a good Highland historical romance.  Men in kilts.  Says it all don't you think, LOL.  So when I see a new series with the name Bad Boys of the Highlands come my way, I think "bring it bad boy, I'm ready for all your kilted sexiness and unwavering honor!"

Author Victoria Roberts is my guest today to share with us some of her favorite scenes from her new Highland romance, Temptation in a Kilt.  Enjoy!

~~~***~~~

I’d like to thank everyone at Seductive Musings for having me today. I’m really excited to be here.

What was your favorite scene or moment from Temptation in a Kilt?

That’s a great question, but one that does not have an easy answer. The major players all have such a tremendous amount of character development during this book that I have several. I’ll share with you some of my favorites.

For Laird Ciaran MacGregor, he portrays the tough, dutiful laird who places responsibility above all else. I love the moments he shares with Rosalia where he lowers his defenses and shows her the man he truly is inside. The following scene is regarding Ciaran’s leman. And I swear every time that I read the last line I still say, “Aww…”

Ciaran broke the silence and spoke quietly. “She means naught to me.”

A tear fell down Rosalia’s cheek and she wiped it away. “It doesnae matter—truly,” she whispered.

He reached out and gently brushed her arms. When she closed her eyes to avoid his probing gaze, he raised her chin with his finger. He did not speak until she opened her eyes. “It matters to me,” he said solemnly. He wiped her tears with his thumb. “I told her we were done when I returned to Glenorchy. She wasnae pleased. I didnae know she was there, Rosalia. She saw ye and Aisling and threw her body upon me.”

She could not help but smirk. “Her verra bare body, my laird.”

He paused for a moment, a spark of some indefinable emotion in his eyes. “I didnae notice, Rosalia. All I saw was ye.”

Who doesn’t love a brawny Highlander who can have such tender moments with his love? *sigh*.

For Lady Rosalia Armstrong, she wants to be master of her own life. She’s suffered years of abuse—physically and emotionally. Being at Glenorchy gives her a chance to heal. I love the moments when she comes into her own and holds no prisoners. In this scene, Rosalia attempts to put Declan (Ciaran’s youngest brother) in his place. 

“He is a beautiful beast. I told Aisling that I have ne’er seen such perfect white markings as are upon his feet.”

Declan nodded his head in agreement. “Now speak the truth and tell me why ye donna want me to take ye upon the parapet, lass.” He abruptly changed the subject.

He’d caught her off guard and she swallowed hard, trying to manage a feeble answer.

Aware of her discomfort, he chuckled. Standing a bit too close, he gave her a wolfish grin. “Donna ye trust yourself alone with me? I donna bite.” His silky voice held a challenge and his eyes clung to hers, analyzing her reaction.

It was much like having a conversation with James. If she did not put him in his place now, he would continually torment her until she traveled to Glengarry. Of this, she had no doubt. She reached down, holding his eyes the entire time. “Did ye ever think why Aiden is the only one that understands ye? Mayhap ’tis because ye can both relate to being a horse’s arse,” she said, her voice unwavering.

Startled, Declan glanced down to find a very sharp dirk pointed at his heart. He stood there blank, amazed, and stunned.

“Aye, I ne’er leave without it. If ye cease thinking with your…” she gestured to his manhood, “ye would have seen me reach for my dirk and wouldnae have been taken by a mere lass.”

He stepped away from her. “Now ’tis clearly where ye are mistaken, Lady Rosalia. Ye see… I donna mind being taken by a mere lass.”

Sheathing her dirk, she let out a frustrated grunt. “I yield, but I give ye fair warning. I will be here until your brother takes me to Glengarry. I donna want to do battle, but I willnae let ye speak to me as if I toss my skirts. Will ye be a gentleman and escort me on my walk or nae?” she asked, placing both of her hands upon her hips.

I love a woman that can put an arrogant rogue in his place. Don’t you?

For Declan MacGregor, he’s the third son—no responsibilities, takes to the ale, and sleeps with any willing female. I think you get the picture. Declan is definitely one of the Bad Boys of the Highlands. In this scene, Ciaran has had enough with his brother.

     Leaving his solar, Ciaran walked through the great hall and stopped suddenly in his tracks.

Sitting in the laird’s chair, his chair, on the dais was Declan. His head was rolled back, his eyes were closed, and his lips were slightly parted. One hand was on his tankard and he was already in his cups. If he was already passed out at this time of day, Ciaran was going to kill him. There would be bloodshed in the middle of the great hall, no less.

“Declan!” he bellowed. A few choice curses might have escaped his mouth.

Raising his head, Declan broke into a leisurely smile.

“Come,” Ciaran bit out, gesturing for him to follow. There was no time like the present to speak with his brother about his reckless behavior.

“I just did, my liege.” Pushing back Ciaran’s chair, Declan extended his hand to a serving wench who stood up from under the table. Glancing up at her, he flashed a smile of thanks and patted her bottom as she hurried off.

Mmm… I don’t know why, but we all love our Bad Boys.

Thank you so much for having me today. This was a lot of fun.



She’s on her way to safety

It’s a sign of Lady Rosalia Armstrong’s desperation that she’s seeking refuge in a place as rugged and challenging as the Scottish Highlands. She doesn’t care about hardship and discomfort, if only she can become master of her own life. Laird Ciaran MacGregor, however, is completely beyond her control…

He redefines dangerous…

Ciaran MacGregor knows it’s perilous to get embroiled with a fiery Lowland lass, especially one as headstrong as Rosalia. Having made a rash promise to escort her all the way to Glengarry, now he’s stuck with her, even though she challenges his legendary prowess at every opportunity. When temptation reaches its peak, he’ll be ready to show her who he really is…on and off the battlefield.


Congrats Victoria and thanks for being my guest today!  I think the Bad Boys of the Highlands is a fantastic idea for a series, and I just love the title of this book.  After all what romance reader doesn't love a bad boy, and a Highlander in a kilt :)   Temptation indeed!  I can't wait to see Declan meet his match in X Marks the Scot in February. 

If you'd like to learn more about Victoria Roberts, or Temptation in a Kilt,  you can find her at her website www.victoriarobertsauthor.com, her blog (where she recently had a signing with Nora Roberts, Maya Banks & Lora Leigh and gave out the cutest kilt cookies), and at Facebook.


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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 Space Between Us by Megan Hart

Thursday, September 20

Title:  The Space Between Us*
Author: Megan Hart
Series: N/A
Genre: Erotic Fiction
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Format: Trade book & E-book
Date/Year:  September 1, 2012
Reviewed by: Michele

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

Summary from the publisher:

 Everyone has a story...

Tesla Martin is drifting pleasantly through life, slinging lattes at Morningstar Mocha, enjoying the ebb and flow of caffeine-starved customers, devoted to her cadre of regulars. But none of the bottomless-cup crowd compares with Meredith, a charismatic force of nature who can coax intimate tales from even the shyest of Morningstar's clientele.Caught in Meredith's sensual, irresistible orbit, inexpressibly flattered by the siren's attention, Tesla shares long-buried chapters of her life, holding nothing back. Nothing Meredith proposes seems impossible—not even Tesla sleeping with Meredith's husband, Charlie, while she looks on. After all, it's all in fun, isn't it?

In a heartbeat, vulnerable Tesla is swept into a spectacular love triangle. Together, gentle, grounded Charlie and sparkling, maddening Meredith are everything Tesla has ever needed, wanted, or dreamed of, even if no one else on earth understands. They're three against the world.

But soon one of the vertices begins pulling away until only two points remain—and the space between them gapes with confusion, with grief and with possibility….


My Musings:

I have to admit right up front that I am a huge fan of Megan Hart. One of the things I love most about her books is how she has, over time, created this vividly drawn world in and around Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Characters from previous books often make appearances, but never in a way that expects you to have read those books or doesn’t make sense within the current story. There are a wealth of both new and previously seen supporting characters in “The Space Between Us”, most of whom we meet at Morningside Mocha, the coffee shop where Tesla Martin works.

Tesla is a woman who has survived so much early in her life and now only wants to exist from day to day. She’s trying to avoid any additional drama but knows that she’ll never have more than she does right now if she doesn’t take any chances. Everyone thinks she’s a wild child based on her past (if they know it) and how she presents herself to others, but the sad truth is that her life is so dull that it’s practically standing still.

It’s Meredith who sways Tesla into a sexual triad with her own husband Charlie, almost solely by her force of will. Charlie appears to be as passive as Tesla, but clearly loves his wife enough to make this change in his life to please her. But as Charlie and Tesla grow closer, it remains to be seen if Meredith will be content with their new arrangement.

As I said before, I’m a big Megan Hart fangirl. So it pains me to say that “The Space Between Us” was not one that I enjoyed as much as usual. A big part of this was her decision to include a prologue that I considered tantamount to a spoiler. When the author tells me upfront where the plot is going to go, it alters my ability to fully immerse myself in the story. Thanks to that prologue, I had a nagging thought the whole time, wondering when we would get to that part. This type of early reveal may not be a problem for others, but if I had the ability to read this again for the first time, I would go right to Chapter One and skip the prologue. The good news is, that aside from that one concern, this was another beautifully written Megan Hart story and I enjoyed being back in her world.

Ratings:

Overall: 3.5
Sensuality level: 4
(M/F/F menage, F/F)

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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: Hidden Paradise by Janet Mullany

Title:  Hidden Paradise*
Author: Janet Mullany
Series: N/A
Genre:  Contemporary Erotic Romance
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Format:  Print & E-book
Date/Year:  September 18, 2012
Reviewed by: Michele

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

Summary from the publisher:

CALL IT SENSE AND SENSUALITY…

Louisa Connelly, a recently widowed Jane Austen scholar, needs some relief from her stifling world. When a friend calls to offer her a temporary escape from her Montana ranch, she is whisked into a dizzying world of sumptuous food, flowing wine…and endless temptation.She's an honored guest at Paradise Hall, an English resort boasting the full experience of an authentic Georgian country-house weekend. Liveried servants tend to every need of houseguests clad in meticulous period costume: snug breeches, low-cut silken gowns and negligible undergarments.

It's Mac Salazar, a journalist immersing himself fully, deeply, lustily in the naughty pleasures of upstairs-downstairs dalliances, who piques Louisa's curiosity—and libido—most. He's a dilettante straight out of a novel: uninhibited, unapologetic and nearly insatiable. But Lou's not romantic about this much, at least: Paradise Hall is a gorgeous fantasy, nothing more. A lover like Mac is pure fiction. And the real world beckons….


My Musings:

At first glance, “Hidden Paradise” appears to be a standard literary device where disparate personalities are brought together at a semi-isolated location where they exist in a time-limited protected bubble to interact in various combinations which may result in love and other complications. (Think “Grand Hotel” or more recently, “The Love Boat.”) As the title hints, however, there is more here than what appears on the surface.

The location where all our characters are gathered is “Paradise Hall, where anything can happen,” according to the brochure produced by its proprietors. Although several secondary characters weave in and out of the story, our attention is paid most to Lou and Mac, who are both subconsciously searching for something more in their lives, not realizing that what they seek could be found in each other.

Lou doesn’t really want to be at Paradise Hall, but the scholar in her can’t resist the lure of a place where Jane Austen herself may have once been a guest. After all, there may be something yet to be discovered on its grounds that can help Louise finally finish the dissertation she hasn’t been able to complete since the sudden death of her husband. And the change of scenery, complete with a full immersion in the Austen experience orchestrated by her two dear friends, might just help her move on from mourning and be open to a new relationship.

Mac doesn’t really want to be at Paradise Hall either, but he’s agreed to write an article on Paradise Hall for publication in advance of its grand opening. He’s dallied about with women and relationships his whole life, almost never turning down a chance at intimate female companionship. This carelessness has resulted in Mac being emotionally alone, despite the constant flow of women in and out of his life. Until he meets Lou, he’s never wanted to be better, to do more to deserve a real emotional connection with a woman.

Mac and Lou are immediately attracted to each other, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the fact that their first meeting involved her looking in from a doorway while he was enjoying rather vigorous sex with someone else. But there’s no guarantee that this attraction can become something more, let alone survive all the surface conflicts and unspoken expectations that each of them brings to Paradise Hall.

This was my first Janet Mullany book, and if “Hidden Paradise” is any indication, it will not be my last. Normally, I tend to consume books quickly, especially romance novels where I am assured of an HFN/HEA. But I loved this book so much that I wanted to savor every minute reading it. “Hidden Paradise” did such a good job of bringing these characters and this world to life for me that I wanted to stretch out the experience of reading it for the very first time. The author’s knowledge of Austen and the Regency period are an invaluable part of sharing the Paradise Hall experience without becoming a distraction and the well-drawn supporting characters only enhance the love story between Lou and Mac at its center. For once, I had no idea what would happen at the end, and I was okay with that. The journey was the gift, and the ending was perfect.

Ratings:

Overall: 5
Sensuality level: 4
(M/F/M menage, M/M, F/F)
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Guest Author & Giveaway: Rebecca Rogers Maher featuring Fault Lines

Wednesday, September 19

Do you like having your picture taken?  Some people do, but I don't.  I think it is an inherited trait.  I remember my grandmother used to hold up her hand in front of her face every time someone pointed a camera in her direction.  So any pictures that we have of her are either her with her hand in front of her face, or a completely candid shot when we caught her by surprise.  I love those.  Actually love both types of photos I have of her because it's so.....just her :)

Author Rebecca Rogers Maher is my guest today to share a bit about the merits of both the candid shot vs. portrait pictures and how it relates to her new contemporary romance Fault Lines, in which her hero is a photographer who is good at catching the essence of a person in his photos...something the heroine doesn't like at all, especially when the camera is pointed in her direction, LOL.  Enjoy!

~~~***~~~

A big thank you to Seductive Musings for inviting me here today!

Candid Shots vs. Portrait Pictures: Which is More Revealing?

I hate having my picture taken. It ranks at the top of my Oh-Please-No List, right along with cockroaches, push-ups and cottage cheese. (Why would anyone want to eat something that looks like it’s been eaten and digested already? Please. NO.)

I hate having my picture taken because as soon as I spot a camera, I freeze up. Seriously. My face literally freezes into what I affectionately call “The Mask of Death.” I get all self-conscious and tightened up and I just can’t make myself look natural no matter how hard I try.

I vividly remember, at my sister-in-law’s nuptials, the wedding photographer screaming at me, “Relax your face!”

Relax my what? Lady, allow me to relax YOUR face. With my fist.

Anyway.

The only way to get a good picture of me is to sneak it. When I don’t know the camera’s there, I might calm down enough to actually look like myself. The problem is, I always know the camera is there. I have a sixth sense for that evil soul-stealing contraption.

Which is why I wrote the scene in Fault Lines – my latest book and the final installment in my Recovery Trilogy – where Joe the hero (a wedding photographer) manages to snap a real picture of Sarah, the heroine.

To me, there are few things sexier than a man who sees right through you. A man who looks deeply into you, who sees who you are – good and bad – and finds you delightful anyway. Joe sees Sarah like that – immediately and completely – and captures her with his camera at her most open, and to him, most beautiful.

I don’t think it’s possible to get the same level of real from a portrait picture. What you see in a portrait is how a person is trying to convey herself. That too can be revealing, I suppose. But I still prefer candid shots.

You just have to be super-sneaky to catch me for one.

Thanks so much for having me here!

Sarah Murphy plans other people’s weddings. She’s gorgeous and successful, but she also carries a dark secret.

At one of her events, she meets Joe Sullivan, a sexy photographer with a difficult past of his own. When he snaps a rare unguarded photograph of her and captures the real person hiding behind the facade, she feels exposed. To restore the upper hand, she tries to do what she always does: use sex to defuse the situation.

While Joe is eager to deepen his relationship with Sarah, he’s aware of her emotional shield and the way she disconnects from her body. Seeing her at her most vulnerable doesn’t scare him off, but he needs to know what she’s hiding.

Sarah has a tough decision to make. Does she want to go on living a lonely, emotionally frozen life? Or can she finally risk revealing the truth and move forward with Joe?

Read an excerpt & enjoy this special exclusive never before seen excerpt in the flipbook below:

or read it in a Google document here


Congrats Rebecca, and thanks for being my guest today!

If you'd like to learn more about Rebecca Rogers Maher, and the books she writes you can find her at her website www.rebeccarogersmaher.com, her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

To celebrate the release of Fault Lines, one randomly drawn commenter from each tour stop will win a digital copy of FAULT LINES (US & International).  Enter using the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

click on the tour banner below to see other tour dates & opportunities to win!


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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: Fault Lines by Rebecca Rogers Maher

Title:  Fault Lines*
Author: Rebecca Rogers Maher
Series:  Recovery Trilogy #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher:  Carina Press
Format: E-book
Date/Year:  September 24, 2012
Reviewed by:  Just Jinny

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

Summary from the publisher:

Sarah Murphy plans other people's weddings. She's gorgeous and successful, but she also carries a dark secret.

At one of her events, she meets Joe Sullivan, a sexy photographer with a difficult past of his own. When he snaps a rare unguarded photograph of her and captures the real person hiding behind the facade, she feels exposed. To restore the upper hand, she tries to do what she always does: use sex to defuse the situation.

While Joe is eager to deepen his relationship with Sarah, he's aware of her emotional shield and the way she disconnects from her body. Seeing her at her most vulnerable doesn't scare him off, but he needs to know what she's hiding.

Sarah has a tough decision to make. Does she want to go on living a lonely, emotionally frozen life? Or can she finally risk revealing the truth and move forward with Joe?

My Musings:

I was looking forward to reading Fault Lines because there is nothing I love better than a romance about two broken people finding a way to make each other whole. Sadly, that wasn't what I found in this book. 

I had a very hard time finishing Fault Lines because I couldn't connect with the story, which wasn't much of a romance at all. The story revolved heavily around Sarah Murphy. She is successful and beautiful, but emotionally damaged from her past. She keeps most people at arms length emotionally, especially men. Instead she chooses the 'screw them and leave them' approuch in order for her to feel in control of all sexual encounters. 

Enter Joe Sullivan, a sexy photographer. His talent for snapping pictures allows him to see Sarah for who and what she is. And for some reason that doesn't scare him off. Maybe because he sees a little of her in himself? He is a recovering alcoholic, but is years into his recovery where as Sarah is just starting hers.

And that is where my problem lies with this story. It focused all on Sarah and her journey of dealing with her dark past and moving on with her life. That isn't a bad thing, it's just not a romance story. There are a handful of secondary characters, like Joe, who are there to help Sarah on her path of self-healing, but none of them get a lot of page time. Not enough for me to get attached to them, anyway. As she learns to be comfortable in her own skin, she struggles with the idea of forgiveness of herself and her family. 

It was nice to see the transformation in Sarah during the story, she literally thawed page by page. However, like I said, it wasn't a romance and that's what I wanted so I was let down by the book. 

Ratings:

Overall:  2 stars
Sensuality level:  2.5

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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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Month in Review: August 2012

Tuesday, September 18

First of all I'm over at Romance @ Random today.  Please stop by and say hi, so I don't feel so lonely :)

Now we get to one of those embarrassing delays that I talked about last Friday. I had meant to post the reading list for me and several of the Seductive Reviewers at the beginning of the month. They sent their reading list to me right when I asked them to....but suddenly we are at the middle of September already. Time flies and all that.

Anywho, here is list of the books that we read in August, and a few recommended reads in case you'd like to check them out too.

~~~***~~~

I read a total of 8 books in August.  I was feeling pretty good about that until I saw how many books some of the other reviewers on this blog read...now I fear that they might take away my romance reading badge, LOL.  Read'em and weep, baby! (in no particular order)

(Title/Author/Star Rating/Sensuality Rating)
RecommendationsBecause You Are Mine by Beth Kery, and One Night Rodeo by Lorelei James (both are erotic romances)....and maybe even Knight by Kristen Ashley (also an erotic romance).  There was just something about it that I really liked even though I only gave it an average rating.  I think it had to do with a hero that is less than ideal and definitely has an unapologetic dark side who is not in need of reform.

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From Seductive Reviewer Andrea who read 29 books in August (like I said they put me to SHAME!).  In no particular order

(Title/Author/Star Rating/Sensuality)
Looks like Andrea read a lot of M/M romance and good ones at that!  Her recommendations from the books she read last month are, Bear, Otter, and the Kid, Shades of Grey, Fish & Chips, A Week to Be Wicked, Sticks & Stones, Cut & Run, &  Unconditional Love







ELF read so many books last month that she only sent me a list of the ones that she really liked....didn't even include the ones she didn't care for: (In no particular order)
Recommendations from ELF:  Top picks for Erotica are Subspace, Hot In Handcuffs, Never Enough and Cowboy Bad Boys, for paranormal Lord's Fall and All Seeing Eye, romantic suspense Run the Risk and If I Were You, military romance A Seal at Heart and The Night is Mine  (yes....I really liked all of them!) and yes, there were a couple that I REALLY didn't like but I didn't list them here (0:






Finally we have the books that Michele read last month.  She read a whopping 43!  I wish I had this girls' reading time because it looked like she found a lot to love in romance in August! (In no particular order)

(Title/Author/Star Rating)
Michele didn't actually give me any recommended reads, but I think it's safe to say that anything that received 5 stars would fit into that category.  If I could put my two cents in, I would strongly recommend Wicked Burn by Beth Kery, and the Vegas Top Guns series by Katie Porter (but I liked the first book better than the second, whereas Michele was just the opposite). 





 

Well, there you have it...for the most part that is :) And let me tell you it was a lot of work! So tell me this...going forward do you like to have links to all of the books that everyone read so that you can check them out, or would you prefer to have just the links to the recommended reads, or would you prefer to have a Goodreads widget for each one that showed a picture of the book and a star rating? I would love to know what you think.


What did you read last month that you loved?


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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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