Review & Giveaway: Selling Out by Amber Lin

Wednesday, March 27

Title:  Selling Out*
Author: Amber Lin
Series:  The Lost Girls #2
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Publisher:  Loose Id
Format: ebook
Date/Year:  February 19, 2013      
Reviewed by:  Michele

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


Summary from the publisher:


Shelly Laurent escapes her life as a high-class escort, but against her better judgment she takes the scared young Ella with her. Framed for murder by her pimp and his dirty cops in retaliation, Shelly turns to the one man who could be her salvation: Detective Luke Cameron. She doesn’t know if she can trust him or if he’s just a mirage, but it's time for her to take a stand. Just one shot, make it count, she’ll fight Ella’s demons—and face her own.

Shelly throws light on the shadows of Chicago’s underworld, challenging everything she knew and the man she’s come to love. Together, a prostitute and a cop fight for truth stronger than secrets, hope deeper than deception, and a bond more enduring than betrayal.

Excerpt:

I drove home on fumes and climbed directly into a scalding hot shower. I scrubbed away the rejection from earlier, the fear and the stench of the streets. After using up half the bottle, I poured the rest of the soap out and watched as the peach-colored gel swirled down the drain. I couldn’t have used it again anyway, not after using it today. Maybe it was strange, but the rituals kept me sane, and what did they hurt? Who did they hurt? I lay down on the cold, hard floor of the tub and curled into a ball on my side, letting the water rain down on me.

Distantly, I heard the phone ringing, but I couldn’t have moved. Not until the water turned cold, and I began to shake. I pulled myself up and turned off the shower. After throwing on a large shirt to sleep in, I grabbed the answering machine and climbed into my plush bed with 600–thread count sheets. I curled my body around the little black box and pressed Play.

“Hey, it’s me.” He sounded tired. “I guess you’re busy.”

There was a pause, which I scribbled in with well deserved recriminations. I may not have been with a client today, but I would be tomorrow. This was my life. I could apologize for it, but I couldn’t change it any more than a ship could change the tides.

“I worked a double shift today,” he said on the recording. “One of the other guys, his wife went into labor, so I took over for him. Wasn’t too bad, though. Just tiring. For her, I mean. It took her ten hours to push him out, so what the hell do I have to complain about? Nine pounds, a boy. I didn’t see him yet, came straight home.” There was silence. “Straight home and called you. Funny.”

The answering machine broke the awkwardness with a click.

There were no more messages. I pressed the button again.

“Hey, it’s me. I guess you’re busy. I worked a double shift today. One of the other guys, his wife went into labor…”


My Musings:

Warning:  This review contains spoilers for Giving It Up (The Lost Girls #1).  You could possibly read Selling Out as a stand-alone, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Shelly is the “hooker with a heart of gold” we first met in Giving It Up when she was the one remaining friend helping keep Allie and her young daughter Bailey from living on the street. Now that Allie and Bailey have Colin in their lives, Shelly has only herself to look after, but even that seems to be a task she can’t get quite right. Her stint as a police informant for Detective Luke Cameron nearly got her killed once before. Now that she’s taken on responsibility for a young girl caught up in an underworld hit and framed for murder, Shelly’s secret hope for a better life with Luke seems like a crazy dream destined to be just as impossible as all the other dreams she’s ever had. But by the end of Selling Out, we see that what ties Shelly and Luke together forever is more than just physical and that they have more in common than they could possibly imagine.

Normally I tend to shy away from romantic suspense stories, as my enjoyment of the romance so often ends up being affected by the immediacy and drama of the suspense, especially if the suspense takes over the plot completely. Keeping that delicate balance between danger and love is one that few authors do well, in my opinion, but Amber Lin is already one of the best. When I read Giving It Up, her first book in The Lost Girls series, I couldn’t believe how much I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Allie and Colin being in danger as much as their tender romance. So when I found out there was a sequel featuring Allie’s friend Shelly, I knew I was in for another wild roller-coaster ride before getting to what I wished and hoped would be Shelly and Luke’s happy ending.

In Selling Out, we see much more of the ugliness and depravity of the Chicago underworld than in the previous book. Shelly’s connections to this world run wide and deep, deeper than she realizes until it’s nearly too late. She tries to save other girls from the life whenever she can, but it’s the last girl she tries to save who may end up taking them all down with her. We revisit Shelly’s relationship with Colin’s brother Philip, and meet the other key players in the sad sordid life that Shelly keeps trying to leave behind, apparently to no avail.  While Shelly’s motivations seem obvious, Luke’s become murkier as more of his past is revealed. By the time we reach the book’s moment of reckoning, it’s not clear if either Shelly or Luke can survive what has already happened and what will happen after all the secrets are revealed.

I loved Selling Out so very much, not only because of how wonderfully Amber Lin develops each of her characters, but also the intense level of emotion each of her characters brings out as they attempt to survive in a world where all the odds are set against them from the start. Neither Shelly’s redemption nor Luke’s love are guaranteed, but the path to both is a satisfying action-packed thrill ride you won’t regret.
Ratings:

Overall: 5 stars
Sensuality level: 5
(several acts of sexually related violence, references to rape and incest)

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To celebrate the release of Selling Out, the second book in her Lost Girls series,  Amber will be giving away $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.


Ways to earn entries:
  • Mandatory:  Leave a question or comment for Amber about this book, the review, or any other burning need to know question you might have (good for 1 entry)
How to enter:
  • Leave a comment at each stop on the blog tour to earn additional entries for the grand prize 
Rules and disclaimers:
  • The winner(s) 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).  Please contact the promoter for all the official rules and disclaimers.
  • 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: Wolf with Benefits by Shelly Laurenston

Tuesday, March 26

Title:  Wolf with Benefits*
Author:  Shelly Laurenston
Series: Pride, #8
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Brava
Format: ebook
Date/Year: March 26, 2013
Reviewed by: ElaineReads
*This book was provided to the reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Summary from the publisher:

Ricky Lee has no plans of getting serious about anyone, but he will protect Toni Jean-Louis Parker. Not just because he’s been hired to do so, but because it’s the right thing to do. And if that means traveling around the country with one complicated She-jackal, dealing with chocolate-eating wild dogs, instigating trouble between his brothers, and having the most amazing sex he’s ever had…well, who said his job didn’t have perks?

Toni doesn’t know how she keeps getting herself into these situations. But even she has to admit there’s something about Ricky Lee Reed that she finds kind of interesting…and downright sexy. Now they just have to survive long enough to figure out if what they have is worth fighting for.



My Musings:

I am a long time fan of Shelly Laurenston’s books, especially this series.  I consider them some of my comfort reads.  I know if I ever need a book that will cheer me up, all I have to do is choose one of these.

Wolf with Benefits
is no exception.

Toni Jean-Louis Parker is surrounded by geniuses.  Her entire family is extremely gifted either in the fine arts or in academics.  What they cannot do is manage their lives.  That has always been Toni’s job.  She spends all of her time arranging things for her siblings and parents and has never had the opportunity to have a life of her own.  She is driven and stressed simply because it is necessary in order to deal with the arrogant personalities in her family.

Oh, did I mention they are all jackal shapeshifters?

Enter Ricky Lee Reed.  Ricky Lee is a member of the Tennessee Reed wolves and a more laid back wolf you have never met.  He lives to be entertained.  And he finds most everything entertaining, especially Toni and her family.

Toni’s experiences with her over achieving, arrogant, self-centered family makes her perfect for managing the shifter’s star hockey player Bo Novikoff.  Nobody gets along with Bo and the team cannot win without him.  Toni finds herself responsible for arranging a match with Siberian bears in SIBERIA!  Bears who just happen to hate canines.

Well, obviously she needs protection and Ricky Lee is more than happy to look after her.  Might he have an ulterior motive for following a sexy she-jackal around?  Well, of course he does.

I had my doubts about this book at the beginning because so many new characters were introduced, it was difficult to keep track of who was who.  After a couple of chapters though, things settled down and the plot and characters became as endearing as those in the other books in the series.

Speaking of the other books, this is not a book or a series that can be picked up at random.  These books need to be read in order.  Characters from previous books show up on a regular basis and you really need to know their stories.  This book in particular felt like old home week in the shifter world.

Fortunately, reading all of these books is not a hardship.  Most of the characters are shapeshifters and the way their animal traits influence their human personalities is hysterical.  I particularly like the lion males with their “it’s all about me” attitude, not to mention their obsession with their manes.

Read this book, but more importantly, read all these books.  If you want a funny, enjoyable read with plenty of hot sex, you want these books.

By the way, can you tell I really, really love these books.  I think you will too.


Ratings:

Overall:  4 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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Review: The Fetish Box by Nicole Camden


Title: The Fetish Box (Open All Night / What Escapes / What Remains) *
Author: Nicole Camden
Series: The Fetish Box 1-3
Genre: contemporary erotic suspense serial
Publisher: Pocket Star
Format: E-book
Date/Year: February 11, 2013 / March 4, 2013 / March 25, 2013
Reviewed by: Michele

*These books were provided to the reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Summary from the publisher:

Part One: Open All Night

An enchanting eBook debut about a world where your fantasies come true and nothing is quite what it seems. Come on in to realize your heart’s darkest desire...Virginal twenty-two-year-old Mary has just inherited a sex shop in Florida from her mother. After a long drive from California, she arrives at her deceased mother’s house only to be confronted immediately with two equally sexy strangers: the strong, silent John and the irreverent, taunting Max. She’s innocent, almost completely untouched, but feels a completely uncharacteristic pull to each man. Shocking even herself, she realizes it’s not an unwelcome desire.

Max is a playboy who knows how to give women what they want, but John… John might just be able to give Mary something even she doesn’t know she needs…


Part Two: What Escapes

The breathtaking second installment in the Fetish Box eBook series…open the box and see what escapes…Mary is surprised by the deep feelings that follow in the wake of her first sexual encounter, but fascination with her lover John doesn’t dim her desire for the unapologetically lusty Irish bar-owner, Max. Feeding one hunger has unleashed other needs, and Mary wants to experience everything her new life has to offer.

But Mary’s dark desires aren’t the only ones swirling in the depths of The Fetish Box, and violence erupts amid the passion. When one of the men is attacked and the people at The Box put in danger, Mary realizes that some desires are more dangerous than others…


Part Three: What Remains

The breathtaking final installment in the Fetish Box eBook series, where anything is possible…when passion is unleashed, only time will tell what remains…In an attempt to seek out the source of the violence against her friends, Mary takes on a role she’d never imagined she’d play—a role that requires Mary to embrace the darkest parts of her soul.

For the first time in her life, Mary understands who she is and where she belongs. What remains when you take away the sex and fun and adventure…is love. Love for her new friends, love for her lover, and love for the mother she never knew. She’s willing to risk anything—do anything—to keep them safe…


My Musings:

As difficult as it can be to read a serialized novel piece by piece over time, it’s often even more difficult to write a review that will do justice to each part without losing track of what should be the overall experience of the story. I struggled with The Fetish Box, debating whether to review each part separately or together. The result here is a combined review of the three, with specific attention to each in their own right but with an eye toward that ideal of a whole story that just happens to be told in three separate parts.

Part One: Open All Night

The heroine of The Fetish Box is Mary Duepree, the self-described “bastard consequence of an affair with a trashy whore from Florida” who was raised by her father’s mother while her father made cameo appearances throughout her childhood years. When we first meet Mary, she is driving down to Hollywood, Florida in an old beat-up car full of her worldly possessions to claim her inheritance from her recently deceased mother. The late Mandy Duepree had apparently lived quite a colorful life, complete with several husbands, and had left her only daughter Mary an equally colorful inheritance: part ownership of a local pub and full ownership of a 24 hour sex shop. There’s also the matter of her mother’s tumbledown house on the beach, and not just one, but two older and viscerally attractive men who had been her mother’s best friends and who are both hoping to be something more in Mary’s life.

For me, this was the most effective part of the three. It immediately set the stage and established the tone for how we would see Mary and how she discovers her own innate sexuality as she dives deeper into the life that her mother lived as the acknowledged Fetish Queen of the local kink community. The fact that we don’t know any more than she does about John and Max, the two most important men at the end of her mother’s life, or anything else other than what they tell her makes each moment of discovery all the more compelling. Best of all, the cliffhanger for Part One hits just the right note of wanting to know what’s next without being angry that it’s not there yet.

Part Two: What Escapes

Now that Mary has met all the people who knew and loved her mother, she’s becoming more comfortable with putting her own stamp on The Fetish Box and working to fill the hole left in everyone’s lives when her mother died. Both Max and John are interested in her sexually, but it’s John who volunteers to teach her more about the kink lifestyle and appears to lay a claim on both her body and heart. There is a big kink party coming up at a local socialite’s home which will be Mary’s first real chance to show everyone that she can take over where her mother left off. But the party may also be the catalyst for real danger to both The Fetish Box and Mary herself.

The tone of sexual mystery continues in Part Two, although not as overwhelming as in Part One since there are several plot points to be worked through in support of the suspense elements moving the story forward. The sex scenes between John and Mary are especially erotic and we see Mary becoming more like the mother she never knew. Part Two has a less immediate cliffhanger after Mary survives two active threats to The Fetish Box and her own home, but it is no less compelling than the first. And with only one part remaining, literally anything can happen next on our way to the end of the story.

Part Three: What Remains

In Part Three, all things are resolved as Mary finally takes her rightful place as the new Fetish Queen of the local kink community and we discover the source of the threats against her and the ones she has come to love. But Mary has to make several difficult choices and deal with immediate personal danger before she can reach her own personal Happily Ever After.

I suppose it’s the nature of a concluding third part of a trilogy that setting up the plot payoffs and wrapping things up neatly is what needs to be provided above all, but I still found Part Three to be somewhat of a let-down. I’d guessed the source of the threats back in Part Two - it wasn’t really much of a mystery - and when that person finally appeared, it was almost anticlimactic as the scene played itself out and the story moved along to its happy ending for all. It’s not like I wanted Mary to actually be killed or harmed, but the buildup had been so effective that the payoff just couldn’t live up to my expectations.


Nicole Camden has made a writing choice in The Fetish Box that I feel deserves a special warning for those readers who are particular about a story’s point of view. Although The Fetish Box starts out as told from Mary’s POV, once she arrives in town and meets the other characters, the narrative switches between multiple characters multiple times, sometimes from paragraph to paragraph and never providing any other indication whose head we are in at any given moment. If you are not a fan of switching POVs, The Fetish Box will make you want to throw your e-reader across the room. But if you can keep up with who is telling the story, this writing style can add to your enjoyment of discovering just what Mary has gotten herself into and what the gifts her mother gave her really mean.

The Fetish Box is definitely nothing like anything else I’ve read this year. It didn’t always work for me but I appreciate Nicole Camden’s effort at writing something different than all the other serialized erotic stories available today. Although I can’t help thinking that this story would have been better served without serialization, I’ll always treasure the perfect jewel that was Part One.

Ratings:


Overall: 4 stars (Part One: 5 / Part Two: 4 / Part Three: 3)
Sensuality level: 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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Monday's Muse

Monday, March 25

On Sunday I was perusing the calendar for the blog to see what might be on the agenda for the week, and came to the realization that I feel like I'm in a blog rut.  I think that is why unless there is something that I absolutely have to post on a certain date, I have the "gotta make the donuts" attitude sometimes.

The blog, at least for me, was a way for me to connect and discuss the books I was looking forward to, or reading at any particular time.  Romance reading groups where I live are extremely hard to find, as in I've yet to find one in the many years I've been searching.  I thought about stalking the romance shelves at Barnes and Noble, and wait for unsuspecting romance readers to happen across me while I am pretending to check out some books, then strike up a conversation.  I would totally do that, but then I thought it might be really weird and that person could think I was some kind of dangerous freak, LOL.  I mean, if someone did that to me I would completely run the other way.  My library has reading groups, but not for romance :(  So blog it was...at least for me.

But as I look back at some of the posts (all of which take away time from my personal reading) and their stats I find that there is very little conversation happening...it's more like a one sided discussion.  Occasionally someone will comment, and when they do I get all happy ;)  So I began to think that maybe it's not you, it's me.  Maybe I'm not asking the right questions, or sharing what you might be interested in enough for you to let me know your thoughts.  Is it the chicken or the egg?

I'm thinking maybe I need to change it up a bit, at least a few days a week.  Monday's I enjoy, so that won't change.  Tuesday's have become a regular review day, and since books usually come out on Tuesday's that kinda makes sense.  But Wednesday, Thursday & Friday are up in the air.  Many sites have started a book club, but I don't like to feel obligated to read something someone else has selected.  I'm a mood reader and like to read what I want when I want so I don't want to do that to anyone else either.  And really how many book clubs can you actively participate in.

Is there anything you would like to see on the blog?  Or something you wish would die a quick death?  Any ideas to spice it up a bit would be greatly appreciated.  You can share in the comments, or if you'd feel more comfortable you can email me.

And for sticking with me through all of my lamentations, I think you deserve a new Muse ;)  Enjoy!

This week at Seductive Musings:
  • Tuesday:  I'll be sharing ElaineReads' review of Shelly Laurenston's Wolf with Benefits, and Michele's review of The Fetish Box serial novel by Nicole Camden.
  • Wednesday:  Author Amber Lin will be my guest to celebrate the release of her new book, Selling Out after doing well with her previous book Giving It Up.  I'll also have Michele's review of Selling Out to share with you.
  • Thursday & Friday: Hmmm, I think I'll wait and see what comes up in the comments.  If nothing comes up then I'll try to have a Thursday's thoughts.

Finally, I'd like to congratulate all of the authors with new releases this week, especially Musings authors Beth Kery, Christie Ridgeway, Anna Randol, Myla Jackson, & Claire Ashgrove!  Congrats!!!



 
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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: Highlander Most Wanted by Maya Banks

Tuesday, March 19

Title: Highlander Most Wanted*
Author:  Maya Banks
Series:  The Montgomerys and Armstrongs, #2
Genre:  Historical Romance
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Format: Paperback & E-book
Date/Year:  March 26, 2013
Reviewed by:  ElaineReads

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

Summary from the publisher:

In Highlander Most Wanted, a reclusive woman content to live in the shadows shows a Highland warrior the true meaning of love.

Genevieve McInnes is locked behind the fortified walls of McHugh Keep, captive of a cruel laird who takes great pleasure in ruining her for any other man. Yet when Bowen Montgomery storms the gates on a mission of clan warfare, Genevieve finds that her spirit is bent but not broken. Still, her path toward freedom remains uncertain. Unable to bear the shame of returning to a family that believes her dead or to abandon others at the keep to an imposing new laird, Genevieve opts for the peaceful life of an abbess. But Bowen’s rugged sensuality stirs something deep inside her that longs to be awakened by his patient, gentle caress—something warm, wicked, and tempting.

Bowen seizes his enemy’s keep, unprepared for the brooding and reclusive woman who captures his heart. He’s enchanted by her fierce determination, her unusual beauty, and her quiet, unfailing strength. But wooing her will take more than a seasoned seducer’s skill. For loving Genevieve, he discovers, means giving her back the freedom that was stolen from her—even if it means losing her forever.


My Musings:

This is the second book in Maya Banks The Montgomerys and Armstrongs series and it is very much a sequel.  The book could be read as a stand alone, but I don’t recommend it.  To really appreciate the relationships in Highlander Most Wanted, you should read Never Seduce A Scot first.  Many of the same characters appear and it is like a visit with old friends.

Bowen is the younger brother of his laird.  He has been sent to take the McHugh Keep because of the crimes they committed against his family.  Unbeknownst to him, even more terrible crimes have been committed to a captive of the McHugh’s . . . Genevieve.  She has been tortured and abused by the McHugh laird’s son for almost a year.  Bowen is her only hope of rescue and he doesn’t even know she exists.

Bowen is an honorable man and believes nothing is as important as protecting those who are unable to protect themselves.  Genevieve has had no one to champion her and has lost her faith in everyone around her.  She is shamed by what has been done to her and only wants to be left in peace.

So, of course, they fall in love.

One of the things I like about Maya Banks’ heroes is that they are not afraid to admit when they fall in love.  Many times, the men recognize their feelings before the women do.  It does not matter how alpha they might be, when they fall for a woman, they fall hard.

Genevieve was raised in a strong, loving family and that is what has enabled her to survive the past year in captivity.  However, she no longer feels worthy of any man’s love and is too ashamed to want anything but to hide herself away.

Considering her sense of shame, an issue I had with the book is how easily Genevieve fell into a physical relationship with Bowen.  Although there were moments when she felt threatened, they were quickly overcome and she lost herself in his arms.  That’s not a direct quote, but the sentiment was definitely there. I just find it hard to accept that after a year of rape and torture by multiple men, she is able to relax enough to enjoy herself with Bowen.

Obviously, this is not a light romance, but so much more.  The strength both characters show makes you love them all the more.

Genevieve and Bowen had a lot to overcome and just when you thought everything was going to work out, there’s a twist in the plot.  Don’t worry.  They get their “happily ever after,” but it doesn’t come easily.

If you enjoy Highland romances with strong male and female characters, this is a series you do not want to miss.  Maya Banks writes in a variety of genres and this is one of her best.

The setup for the sequel is hinted at and I have already preordered the book.  Highland Ever After is due out on September 24, 2013 and I cannot wait. (Note:  This is showing as being only $4.88 as a pre-order.  I've never seen a discount like this on a $7.99 mass paperback book before prior to relelase)


Ratings:

Overall: 5
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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Review: Reckless by S.C. Stephens

Title: Reckless*
Author: S.C. Stephens
Series: Thoughtless #3
Genre: Contemporary New Adult romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Format: print and ebook
Date/Year: March 5, 2013
Reviewed by: Michele

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

Summary from the publisher:

Can love survive when life gets Reckless?

When the band hits it big, Kiera and Kellan must ask themselves: Can their love for each other survive the constant pressures of superstardom? The friendships they've formed, the new family they've found, and the history they've forged will all play a part in helping them navigate the turbulent waters of the band's exploding popularity. A greedy executive hell-bent on success, a declining pop star looking for an edge, and a media circus that twists lies into truths are just some of the obstacles the lovers will have to overcome if they are going to remain together. Fame comes with a price-but will it cost Kiera and Kellan everything?


My Musings:

This review contains spoilers for Thoughtless and Effortless, the first two books in this series. Although you could read Reckless as a stand-alone, I would not recommend it.

When last we saw Kiera and Kellan, they had taken their tumultuous relationship to the next level, with an impromptu “wedding” in Pete’s bar, complete with diamond edged promise rings and an understanding that while there would be a real wedding in the future, their marriage had already begun. Now that his band the D-Bags had finally hit the big time with a new record contract and upcoming nationwide tour, there would be even more opportunities for other people and their own doubts to lead them astray from one another. After all, when the love of your life is the one you met by cheating on the man who was her boyfriend and his best friend, how much can you really trust that other person not to cheat again? And how can a marriage of the heart survive the attacks of those who stand to profit by its wreckage?

Reckless is the final book in the Thoughtless trilogy, a series which began with Kiera moving out to Seattle with Denny, her first real love. But when Denny abandoned Kiera by agreeing to take a temporary job out of state only weeks after she’d moved across the country to be with him, she betrayed him completely by engaging in a secret affair with Kellan, his best friend. Although it became obvious over time that Kiera belonged with Kellan and not Denny, the fallout from their affair lasted for months and nearly cost both their lives.

The progression of their relationship continued in Effortless, when the two former cheaters had to learn to trust each other to be true while dealing with Kellan’s man-whore past and his possible future as a genuine rock star. And now in Reckless, that rock stardom becomes a reality and all of Kiera’s worries come to fruition as other people do their worst to ensure Kellan belongs to everyone but her.

I have been fascinated by the emotional interplay in this series caused by how the hero and heroine met and how they have had to deal with the chaos their relationship has caused. What I found especially compelling in Reckless is how instead of having to convince each other, they now have to convince everyone else in their lives that they are both being faithful and not falling back into their cheating ways. The machinations of the record company and the aging pop star princess trying to exploit Kellan for their own means were so ruthless and evil that I was yelling obscenities every time something else happened as I was reading.

A couple who hadn’t already been through what Kiera and Kellan had been through might not have survived such an experience. It didn’t help that no one believed Kiera when she told them nothing they read in the tabloids was true, even though she was with Kellan every day and knew that it was all lies. It was unusual to see the Big Misunderstanding trope being between the romantic couple and the rest of the world, but that’s part of what made Reckless such a great read for me. I was so anxious for Kiera and Kellan that at one point I actually flipped to the back of the book to assure myself that everything would be OK, which is something I never do. The way Kiera and Kellan resolve the Big Misunderstanding shows that both of them have grown beyond their previous behavior and learned to think before acting. The Happy Ever After ending might be a bit much for those who despise epilogues with babies, it worked for me because Kiera and Kellan (and Denny and everyone else in their lives) had been through so damn much in the series and had earned the right to all of it.

Reckless is a satisfying ending to an incredibly emotional and action-packed trilogy. It provides the ultimate test of Kiera and Kellan’s love and does it beautifully.

Ratings:

Overall: 4.5
Sensuality level: 4


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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, March 18


Hello my friends!

I'm still trying to recover from Google's announcement last week regarding the elimination of Google Reader, then on Sunday I was reading a post on Dear Author regarding the same topic and in that post it also indicated that Google also announced the death of Feedburner as well.  I had not heard that this was definitive, though it was hinted at in some of the other posts I read.  If that happens as well, then Seductive Musings' RSS feed will discontinue to work.  So it seems like I not only need to find a new feed aggregate reader, but I also need to find a new feed supplier for the blog.  Right now, Google is not my friend.  Don't get me wrong I'm a huge Google fan, but right now....not so much.  It's like giving candy to a baby, then taking it away.  It's not nice to take things away you've already shared :(  I think Google needs to go back to preschool.

So if in the future I tell you that I've had to change some things on the back end, and ask you to switch some things, or sign up for something to stay connected I hope you bear with me, and come along for the ride :)

Now it's time for something much more conducive to good vibes this Monday, our new Muse :)

This week at Seductive Musings:
  • Tuesday:  I'll have Elaine's review of Highlander Most Wanted by Maya Banks
  • Wednesday:  I'll share Michele's review of S.C. Stephens' Reckless
  • Thursday:  Maybe a Thursday's Thoughts post, or possibly a few reviews
  • Friday:  Maybe something fun.  If you run across something fun this week that you think I should share...email me :)

Finally, I'd like to congratulate all of the authors with new releases this week, especially Musings authors Beth Kery, Cherry Adair, & Terri Brisbin.  Congrats!!!!




 
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Thursday's Thoughts: I am in a complete PANIC!

Thursday, March 14



So I was online last night after a long day and clicked on my Google Reader to check out what has been happening online in all of the blogs that I follow, or subscribe to only to have a pop up message from Google that it's Reader is being retired as of July 1, 2013!

What!?


NOooooooo!  I use my reader daily.  Several times a day in fact.  I read the blogs I like with it, I have design stuff I use it for, I find out about the Kindle freebies using this...It's my lifeline to everything I love to visit, or articles I want to save for later.  It's the only way I can try to stay up to date with all of my favorites, not to mention remember all of them. I am seriously in a panic!  

Do you use a web based RSS feed reader?  If so, what do you use or recommend? Or if you don't use a feed reader what do you do to keep up with the blogs & websites you follow?   Help!  And why does Google have to keep retiring everything that they've gotten us dependent on?   I love Google, but seriously they are starting to really tick me off!


p.s. this wasn't what I had originally planned on discussing this Thursday, but this emergency took priority :)


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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: Along Came Trouble by Ruthie Knox

Tuesday, March 12

Title:  Along Came Trouble*
Author: Ruthie Knox
Series: Camelot #2
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Publisher: Loveswept
Format: E-book
Date/Year: March 11, 2013      
Reviewed by: Michele

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

Summary from the publisher:

Ruthie Knox’s Camelot series continues in this sizzling eBook original novel, featuring two headstrong souls who bump heads—and bodies—as temptation and lust bring nothing but delicious trouble.

An accomplished lawyer and driven single mother, Ellen Callahan isn’t looking for any help. She’s doing just fine on her own. So Ellen’s more than a little peeved when her brother, an international pop star, hires a security guard to protect her from a prying press that will stop at nothing to dig up dirt on him. But when the tanned and toned Caleb Clark shows up at her door, Ellen might just have to plead the fifth.

Back home after a deployment in Iraq and looking for work as a civilian, Caleb signs on as Ellen’s bodyguard. After combat in the hot desert sun, this job should be a breeze. But guarding the willful beauty is harder than he imagined—and Caleb can’t resist the temptation to mix business with pleasure. With their desires growing more undeniable by the day, Ellen and Caleb give in to an evening of steamy passion. But will they ever be able to share more than just a one-night stand?


My Musings:

Along Came Trouble is the second entry in Ruthie Knox’s new Camelot series, and the first full length novel. Its hero, Caleb Clark, is the brother of Amber, the heroine of How To Misbehave, the introductory novella to the Camelot series. Amber is now married to Tony, with three young boys, and they are running Mazzara Construction together. Caleb has only recently returned from his final tour of duty for the army in Afghanistan and is now attempting to start up his own local security company in Camelot, Ohio where they all still live. Camelot Security’s big break comes when Jamie Callahan, a local boy who hit the big time as an international pop star, returns home to woo his ex-girlfriend into taking him back. The chaos that follow in Jamie’s wake is nothing compared to what happens when Caleb meets Jamie’s sister Ellen and they both realize the attraction between them is something that can’t be ignored.

Ellen Callahan is everything Jamie isn’t: quiet, dependable, conscientious, and always concerned about others before herself. When their mother realized Jamie could be a big star, she made sure Ellen stayed behind the scenes and out of the way. It took the shock of her ex-husband’s betrayal and the need to protect her young son that made Ellen strong enough to resist any and all forces attempting to disrupt her life and their safety. When her strength meets Caleb’s force, it remains to be seen who will be the victor and who will lose out in the end.

I’ve already made it clear how much of a Ruthie Knox fangirl I am, so it’s no surprise how much I loved the story of Caleb and Ellen. Ellen has had to be the rock for so many people for so long that she doesn’t know how to be selfish, even when taking what she wants isn’t really selfish at all. Caleb, on the other hand, has always been selfish in his wants and needs, especially with regard to the opposite sex. The broken-hearted women he’s left in his wake didn’t get the nickname of “chiclet” for nothing. Caleb realizes that Ellen is different, and not just because he’s older and wiser or because she has a young son and a deep distrust for all men. The question is whether Ellen will allow Caleb to protect her from her brother’s paparazzi without keeping him away as well.

The only part of Along Came Trouble that I didn’t completely enjoy was the secondary story of Ellen’s brother Jamie, and his antics while trying to win back his pregnant ex-girlfriend. I realize that without them, there would be no reason for Caleb and Ellen to be constantly thrown together, but their story was almost too much of a distraction for me at times. I much preferred the company of Ellen, Caleb and the other Clark family members, and I’m looking forward to revisiting them in Ruthie Knox’s final Camelot book, Flirting with Disaster, which will be released later this year.

Ratings:

Overall: 4
Sensuality level: 4
(steamy but not 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, March 11

Does anyone else other than me absolutely hate the idea of Daylight Savings Time?   I live in a state that used to not have to change our clocks twice a year, but then a few years ago laws were passed to adopt DST to help commerce.  I'm all for that, but frankly I just don't see the need to change our clocks with the seasons anymore.  Benjamin Franklin may have been a genius, but I think DST has become obsolete as a modern day practice. At least in my opinion.

Another thing I don't get....I was watching The Vikings on the History channel last night and before they set sail for the West they performed some sort of ritual with a bowl of water that they washed their hands in.  That really isn't that odd, but what I did think was completely gross was that each of them took turns washing their hands, then cleaning our their nasal passages in the water...using the same bowl of water!  Now, if you were the first man to use that bowl of water, it would be clean, but as each man used it....ewwww!  Does anyone know why they did this?   Just thinking about it makes me want to gag.  I must not have any Viking blood in me :)

After that thought I needed something more pleasing to dwell on, so how about this week's Muse :)  (OMG, you should see his eyes in color.  He's stunning!)


This week at Seductive Musings:
  • Tuesday:  I'll have one or two reviews for you, one of which will be for Ruthie Knox's Along Came Trouble.
  • Wednesday:  Maybe another review
  • Thursday:  I'd like to have a Thursday's Thoughts post
  • Friday:  I'd like to share something fun to start the weekend with.  As you can see I don't have anything definite planned so if you know of something you'd like for me to share with others.  Email me :)
  • Tempting Trailer:  We haven't had a Tempting Trailer in a while, but this week I have one for Ruthie Knox's new book that comes out this week,  Along Came Trouble.  Have you read this author before?  I've read one of her shorts, How to Misbehave, and really enjoyed it so I think I'll check this one out too.  What do you think about the trailer?  I found it a bit juvenile in some respects, and though it odd since it says that Ruthie Knox writes romance for grownups...what's your take?



Finally, I'd like to congratulate all of the authors with new releases this week, especially Musings authors Beth Kery, Lauren Dane, Delilah Devlin, & Laura Navarre.  Congrats!!




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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: Caris Roane featuring The Darkening

Friday, March 8

Happy Friday!  Paranormal Romance author Caris Roane is my guest today to share with us a bit about her the newest novella in her Guardians of Ascension series, not to mention a really great giveaway.  Enjoy!

~~~***~~~

Hi, Everyone!  I want to thank SEDUCTIVE MUSINGS for having me here today!

I write paranormal romance and LOVE IT!  In many ways, finding the PNR genre through the works of some of my fav authors, like Sherrilyn Kenyon and Kresley Cole, was like coming home.  I’d always enjoyed reading science fiction, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to embrace other-worldly critters in my romance reading fiction.  In fact, I included both characters from Greek mythology and vampires in some of early Regency Romance work long before it became the flavor of the day.  I still remember, in 1990, being really excited about this brand new concept I had concocted about adding Psyche, Eros and Aphrodite to three of my novels.  Now, look at what’s happened decades later!

My latest paranormal novella, THE DARKENING, continues my Guardians of Ascension series, a brotherhood concept that showcases hunky vampire warriors, with wings – yep, you read that right!  My warriors battle to save an ascended world from the depredations of death vampires and a really bad guy who wants control of everything!  Naturally, the women come, women of great power who fill in the lives of these lonely, war-weary men while at the same time coming to terms with their own emerging gifts and abilities.

THE DARKENING tracks Militia Warrior, Samuel, as he works to restrain his dark power, an intense, preternatural power that threatens those he cares most about.  His woman, Vela, arrives having just learned that she has a gift called, you guessed, it the darkening!  

The following excerpt comes from the first chapter of  THE DARKENING.  Samuel is just about to learn that the warrior who helped him escape from a decade of torture is now missing.  And of course, another problem is just about to surface as he catches Vela’s unusual scent…

From Chapter One

    Luken met Samuel’s gaze squarely. “Duncan’s missing. We don’t know where he is, or what happened to him. He disappeared while battling at the New River Borderland two nights ago. There’d been so many teams folding in and out of the space that it took almost twenty-four hours before we concluded he’s now MIA.”
    “What?” Samuel’s chest tightened. “But how the fuck is that possible?” Duncan was an extremely powerful Militia Warrior and one of two dozen who had been working with Jean-Pierre to bring his What-Bee powers on line. In recent weeks, Duncan had confided that he’d been having visions, similar to those Elise Jordan experienced, but he’d know more in the coming months.
    Samuel hadn’t seen him in over a week since Duncan’s responsibilities as a Section Leader for the Thunder God Warriors kept him damn busy. Samuel had never been much for socializing in any significant way, preferring battle and clubbing, but he considered Duncan a good friend who had helped keep him sane during the past year, as he adjusted to his return to Militia Warrior service.
    He was just about to ask what he could do to help, when that scent came to him again, this time much stronger, a river of fragrance that started wrapping around him. He even turned in the direction of the risers, though uncertain why.
    He sniffed the air, and drew more of the flowery scent into his nostrils, which in turn invaded his brain.  A strange dizziness descended.
    What the hell was that?


A tortured warrior and a peace-loving counselor battle to protect Second Earth against a powerful dark force…

He thwarted connection of any kind…

Fearing that his newly emerged grayle power will kill innocent ascenders, Samuel Daman struggles to keep his distance from beautiful Vela Stillwell.  But the breh-hedden has struck and her light floral scent tears at his restraint.  When the enemy draws them both into the darkening, a place of secret travel for Third ascenders, will Samuel learn to control his power, or will he destroy what he desires most?

She hid from grief…

Vela Stillwell wanted a new life, away from Militia Headquarters, away from the reminder of all she’d lost when her husband died five years earlier.  Seeking a more reclusive occupation, she finishes her last day of work only to have Samuel Daman and the infamous breh-hedden sweep through her life.  Though trying to disconnect from her new emerging power and from Samuel, the call of the darkening pulls Vela into an adventure that both terrifies her, yet reveals the truth about her deepest desires.  Will she succumb to the breh-hedden, or will her fears prevent her from living life to the fullest?




Thank you Caris for being our guest today & congrats on the release of The Darkening!

If you'd like to learn more about Caris Roane & the books she writes you can find her at her website www.carisroane.com, her blog, as well as at Dark, Deadly and Divine, Facebook, & Twitter.

To celebrate the release of The Darkening Caris would like to giveaway a digital copy of The Darkening to one lucky Musings follower, AND a grand prize winner from the entire blog tour will receive a $10 Amazon or BN gift card, a signed copy of Ascension, in addition to a digital copy of The Darkening, as well as Caris Roane sticky notes, note cards, notepad, versatile calendar, and Romance Trading cards!!! Whew, that's a lot of stuff!

Enter to win the digital copy of The Darkening in the first Rafflecopter form, and enter to win the Grand Prize in the second Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click here to see more tour stops

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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: See the Light by Cassandra Carr

Thursday, March 7

Title:  See the Light*
Author:  Cassandra Carr
Series: n/a
Genre:  Contemporary Erotic M/M Romance
Publisher:  Loose Id
Format: E-book
Date/Year: February 25,  2013
Reviewed by:  Michele

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

Summary from the publisher:

Hockey player Jason Monroe lives a double life—star defenseman and soon-to-be Olympian on the ice and closeted gay man outside the rink. A serious relationship is out of the question, and Jason makes do with anonymous sex in barroom bathrooms, not willing to take the chance on coming out as gay in a decidedly macho sport.

Advisor to the US Olympic hockey team Patrick Parker knows a thing or two about being a professional hockey player who’s not out. He’s fifteen years older than Jason, and when he senses the sexy younger man is interested, he knows he shouldn’t give in to the attraction.

The two men can’t keep their hands off each other, though, and with each heated encounter it gets harder to hide their relationship. When their world blows up around them, forcing them into the limelight, though, will their love survive or be put on ice?


My Musings:

Most of my reading experience with M/M romance comes from M/M/F menage stories, so when I got the opportunity to review See the Light, I was eager to see how Cassandra Carr, one of my favorite erotic romance writers, would handle a strictly M/M story without including a woman as part of the mix. I’m a big fan of her hockey menage romances so I knew that the details of what obstacles two closeted gay men associated with both Olympic and professional hockey might have to overcome would be as accurate as possible, given there are yet no openly gay hockey coaches or players.

The attraction between Patrick and Jason begins with a mutual physical appreciation that is overwhelming on both sides, yet remains unacknowledged for so many reasons. It’s not just that they are both closeted gay men, or that Patrick is significantly older than Jason. The official coach/player supervisory relationship between Patrick and Jason would condemn any sexual contact between the two of them as inappropriate at best, with possible legal implications despite the fact that both men are of age. It’s only when Patrick finally gets up the nerve to find out why Jason is acting so strangely around him and makes that first dangerous reach out to the younger man that the two of them finally realize that the sexual attraction is shared and oh so very real.

They begin their relationship slowly and carefully, albeit with great sexual passion, working up the courage to meet in secret whenever their schedules allow and even engaging in phone sex when they can’t be together in person. We can see that they both are instinctively looking for a more emotional bond even if they can’t admit it to themselves or each other, but it takes time together and apart for both Patrick and Jason to move past their personal fears and trust in their new relationship. Patrick worries about their 15 year age difference and the implication that he’s taken advantage of a player under his supervision. As the person more deeply in the closet, Jason is afraid that someone will find out about their relationship, but he also worries that he isn’t enough for the older and more experienced Patrick. It takes a public tragic event to push Patrick and Jason out of the closet completely and permanently, but by then each has already come to his own conclusion that the other man is the one person they now depend on for personal happiness.

I was rooting for Patrick and Jason all the way through See The Light and cried happy tears when they finally reached their Happy For Now ending. My only quibble was that the story ended so soon after the two heroes declared their love for each other. I’m a huge proponent of the HEA epilogue in romance, and if anyone deserved that epilogue, it was these two wonderful guys who had to go through so much to love each other. I enjoyed their story so much that I wanted to see it through all that they would have to endure from the public exposure, but I do understand why it had to end where it did. Perhaps one day reality will catch up with fiction and we’ll see a professional hockey player publicly declare his love for another man. Until then, See The Light gives us an idea of just what that player will have to endure to get to his own happy ending.

Ratings:

Overall: 4.5
Sensuality level: 4

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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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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