Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Chateau Review


Title:  The Chateau
Series:  The Original Sinners #9
Author:  Tiffany Reisz
Genre:  Erotic Thriller
Publisher:  8th Circle Press
Release Date:  June 5, 2018
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  4.5 Magnifique Hearts

Many thanks to Tiffany Reisz & 8th Circle Press for an arc of this book.



Synopsis:
As the Jack-of-All-Wicked-Trades for a secretive French military intelligence agency, 24-year-old Lieutenant Kingsley Boissonneault has done it all—spied, lied, and killed under orders. But his latest assignment is quite out of the ordinary. His commanding officer's nephew has disappeared inside a sex cult, and Kingsley has been tasked with bringing him home to safety.

The cult’s holy book is "Story of O," the infamous French novel of extreme sado-masochism. Their château is a looking-glass world where women reign and men are their willing slaves. Or are they willing? It’s Kingsley’s mission to find out.

Once inside the château, however, Kingsley quickly falls under the erotic spell cast by the enigmatic Madame, a woman of wisdom, power, and beauty. She offers Kingsley the one thing he’s always wanted. But the price? Giving up forever the only person he’s ever loved.

Review:
Another masterpiece in The Original Sinners series!  The Chateau awards readers with an opportunity to bear witness to the making of the future King of New York's underground BDSM dungeon (aka Kingsley Edge) with a raw, edgy, intimate view through the looking glass into the heart and soul of one 24-year-old Lieutenant Kingsley Boissonneault.  Kingsley's new assignment is to discover what happened to his commander's nephew after he disappeared within a sex cult.  Is he being held against his will?  The only way for Kingsley to get answers is to go "undercover" by gaining admittance himself.  What he discovers there may be the answer to his prayers or an elaborate illusion, but either way it has a profound effect on his life and future as he's stripped bare in more ways than one. Finally forced to face his past including disconcerting feelings for the "blonde monster who smells like winter", the one who gave him a taste of heaven and left him perishing in hell, Kingsley must make a choice.  What will he have to give up to have it all?

Every once in awhile, I read a book that leaves me feeling a little like an intruder - a peeping tom so to speak.  The Chateau is one of those books.  While it's most certainly a wickedly sadistic, erotic story, it's also a hauntingly beautiful yet agonizing tale of a man's discovery and finally acceptance of self and a truth he'll never escape.  What can he live with and/or without, and what price is too dear?  Life is about choices, and Kingsley must make the one that will eventually clinch his fate.


Reisz is nothing short of magnificent when writing about any of The Original Sinners characters as she strips them bare, whips them to within an inch of their life, and then offers them everything they ever wanted . . . for a price!  The Chateau is another work of art, brilliantly written and delivered with the perfect blend of angst, mind-games, passion, and erotic, sadistic sex.  Magnifique!  A Must Read!

My Rating:  4.5 Magnifique Hearts . . . And that's the truth!

Cross My Heart . . . xxx
Sandra

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Storm Review


Title:  The Storm
Series:  Irin Chronicles #6
Author:  Elizabeth Hunter
Publisher:  Elizabeth Hunter
Release Date:  April 17, 2018
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating: 
Story: 4.5 Amazing Hearts
Cover: 5 Breath-Taking Hearts

*Many thanks to the author for an arc of this book.




Synopsis:
On the darkest night of winter, can he bring light to her wounded heart?

Scarred by loss, Irina warrior Renata has held the world at a distance. Fighting the Grigori and protecting humanity are her goals, but her heart remains frozen to the bonds of family and love. Only one scribe, Maxim of Riga, has managed to see through Renata’s armor.

On the darkest night of winter, in the halls of her ancestral home, Renata is forced to face her past. Can a fierce storm and a stubborn scribe coax her back to life, or will she retreat into duty forever?

Bonus Novella: SONG FOR THE DYING

When a letter arrives from a remote scribe house in Latvia, Leo and Max must return to their childhood home to face the father and grandfather who raised them.

The past is inescapable, but can it be overcome? Is it possible to build a future of happiness from a foundation of pain?

The Storm and Song for the Dying are novellas in the Irin Chronicles, a romantic fantasy series by Elizabeth Hunter.  The Storm was originally published in the Amid the Winter Snow anthology. Song for the Dying is an all new novella.

Review:
The Storm is a raw, beautiful, tumultuous love story set in Hunter's Irin Chronicles world.  Within minutes of opening the book, I found myself once again surrendering to the author's lyrical, hypnotic voice - a siren's song luring me back to this world and characters I love so much.  Beautifully written, The Storm is another masterpiece in one of my favorite fantasy series ever!

The wait for Max & Renata's story is finally over.  Through a series of flashbacks, readers are privy to the dance and battle of wills that have occurred over the past eighteen years between Irin Scribe Maxim of Riga and Irina warrior Renata.  And now, at the top of a mountain in the middle of winter, their paths have crossed once again.  Max is half frozen when he knocks on the door of Renata's ancestral home, knowing in his heart it is do-or-die time - his last chance to convince Renata to accept him as her mate and make a home with him.  If she refuses again, he'll walk away.  Renata is as determined and strong as ever in her convictions to resist this magnificent male.  Both still suffer from the long-term, devastating aftermath of tragic pasts.  What will happen when Renata is forced to face hers? 

The Storm
is a compelling, action-packed story that held me captive. 
Hunter's settings are always so rich in imagery - teasing the senses and transporting readers across miles, straight into the heart of characters and stories.  The Storm is no exception.  The story may be short on pages, but it delivered all I could ask for and more.  A plot  that flawlessly weaves past and present while cracking the door for the future, complex characters carrying baggage from past tragedies along with a burning desire for one another, and a setting to get lost in, one that will take your breath away.  All that and seductive, passionate love scenes . . . who could ask for more?  Another Must Read in this fabulous series!

Song for the Dying is the second novella in this book, and it's also a heart-touching story that will bring tears to your eyes.  I'll just say that Max and Leon are called back to their childhood home and must finally come to terms with their past.  Another magically written, Must Read addition to the series!  Perfection!

My Rating:  4.5 Amazing Hearts . . . And that's the truth!
Cross My Heart . . . xxx

Sandra



Wednesday, April 4, 2018

IWSG: When It Rains, It Pours but Remember - April Showers Bring May Flowers!


This month's IWSG question brings to mind the old saying, "When it rains, it pours!"  If you're wondering what that means it's simply when difficult or unsettling things happen in a short amount of time as in bad things come in threes.  Is there any truth to it, or is it simply an old wives tale?   Who knows, but it often seems to happen that way.  However, I believe it's the way you embrace your problems and deal with them that determines the ultimate outcome.  I think happiness and productiveness are enhanced by striving for a positive attitude - a "Yes, I can!" state of mind.  April showers bring May flowers, right?  And I do enjoy sunshine and flowers.  Remember, there's always a bright side if you open your eyes, heart, and mind and allow the sun to shine in! 

So how does that pertain to this month's IWSG question?  When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?  The same thing you do for life problems . . . gut up, dig deep, find your happy writing place, and WRITE!  Life happens.  Writing also happens if you allow it. You're in the driver's seat.
What you make of it is up to you.  Have you hit a roadblock you can't seem to get around?  Someone cast a cloud over your work or rain on your book publication dreams?  The negativity can be a real downer - allowing doubts about your own writing abilities to mess with your head.  Take any constructive criticism that can be gleaned from the negativity and cast away the rest and continue writing.  Continue following your writing schedule and chase your writing goals.  Whatever is raining on your writing parade and life will pass.  Clouds will clear, the sun will shine, and you'll write again.  April showers bring May flowers!  Never forget it, and keep on writing!

What do you do when cloudy skies threaten to rain on your writing parade?


The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a community of writers who share ideas and encourage each other. It's a great place to express doubts and concerns as well as offer and receive tribulations and guidance from other writers. IWSG posts the first Wednesday of every month. I know you'll find it to be a great writer's resource that's well worth your time. Be sure to stop by and visit with some of the other IWSG writers/bloggers at IWSG Members.

Many thanks to April's co-hosts:  Olga Godim,  Chemist Ken,  Renee Scattergood, and Tamara Narayan! And a big thank you to Janet Hise for her great article on research!  Great tips and very timely for me as I research my new project!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Then She Was Gone Review


Title:  Then She Was Gone
Author:  Lisa Jewell
Publisher:  Atria Books
Release Date:  April 17, 2018 (originally released in paperback 7/27/17)
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  4 Dark, Sinister Hearts

*Many thanks to Atria Books for an arc via Netgally.



Synopsis:
THEN
She was fifteen, her mother's golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

NOW
It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her daughter.
And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet.

Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter.
Poppy is precocious and pretty - and meeting her completely takes Laurel's breath away.

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age.
And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go?
Who still has secrets to hide?

Review:
Then She Was Gone is a riveting, spellbinding, heart-wrenching thriller that I couldn't put down.  The story touched my heart and sent chills down my spine.  Every parent's nightmare is a missing child, especially one that vanishes without a trace like a ghost in the wind. The worry, stress, despair, helplessness, hopelessness, blame/guilt, and heartache are devastating, often destroying families - just as it shatters missing fifteen-year-old Ellie's family.  Not ever knowing the reason for Ellie's disappearance, if she's alive or dead, still haunts her mother, Lauren, ten years later.  And then she meets a nice man, Floyd, and his lovely, brilliant, precocious nine-year-old daughter, Poppy.  Finally, Lauren begins to embrace and reconnect to life again . . . and yet, she senses that something is "off", something she can't quite put her finger on.  As the story and their relationship progresses, odd coincidences begin to surface.  And once again, Lauren's world is thrown off-kilter.  I won't discuss details and suggest readers avoid spoilers and experience this first-hand.

Through multiple points of view and switching between past and present, this heart-breaking, sinister story unfolds.  While I saw where the story was headed early, it in no way lessened my reading experience, and I soon discovered unforeseen twists.  Held captive in the dark, atmospheric setting by an ominous premonition and presence, I experienced goosebumps and was forced to absorb blow after blow just as the characters do.  Jewell sets a dire tone early, maintaining it throughout with chilling scenes and characters - each building upon the last until they all collide, and the truth is revealed.  Tears were streaming down my face as I read the last page.  Then She Was Gone is brilliantly written and delivered piece by agonizing piece.  I'll be seeking out more of this author's work.  A Must Read!

My Rating:  4 Sinister Hearts . . . And that's the truth!

Cross My Heart . . . xxx


Sandra



Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Drowned Girls Review



Title:  The Drowned Girls
Series:  Angie Pallorino #1
Author:  Loreth Anne White
Publisher:  Montlake Romance
Genre:  Suspense Thriller
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  5 Thrilling Hearts







Synopsis:
He surfaced two years ago. Then he disappeared ...
But Detective Angie Pallorino never forgot the violent rapist who left a distinctive calling card—crosses etched into the flesh of his victim’s foreheads.

When a comatose Jane Doe is found in a local cemetery, sexually assaulted, mutilated, and nearly drowned, Angie is struck by the eerie similarities to her earlier unsolved rapes. Could he be back?

Then the body of a drowned young woman floats up in the Gorge, also bearing the marks of the serial rapist, and the hunt for a predator becomes a hunt for a killer. Assigned to the joint investigative task force, Angie is more than ready to prove that she has what it takes to break into the all-male homicide division. But her private life collides with her professional ambitions when she’s introduced to her temporary partner, James Maddocks—a man she’d met the night before in an intense, anonymous encounter.

Together, Angie and Maddocks agree to put that night behind them. But as their search for the killer intensifies so does their mutual desire. And Angie’s forays into the mind of a monster shake lose some unsettling secrets about her own past . . . 

How can she fight for the truth when it turns out her whole life is a lie?

Review:
It always excites me to find a new-to-me author who can deliver the goods - one whose writing grabs me by the throat and/or heart and squeezes, holding me captive from cover to cover.  From the moment I started reading The Drowned Girls all the way through to the last word on the last page, I was a goner.  I fell straight down the rabbit hole into White's dark world and couldn't stop reading.  Needless to say, I'll be reading more in the Angie Pallorino series and am shouting from the rooftops:  Fans of suspense/thrillers - Read This Book!

From the blurb, it might be easy to dismiss this as just another detective (woman) with something to prove vs. a sadistic serial killer story, but that would be a serious injustice.  The Drowned Girls is a multi-layered, well-written masterpiece in the genre.  White has an eerie ability to place readers in the scene - so much so that I found my heart racing or breaking right along with the characters.  The plot lines are expertly interwoven giving readers a story within a story as Angie struggles to remember illusive details from her past that haunt her, placing her life and the life of others in jeopardy as the hunt for a serial killer escalates.  The pace of this story is almost frantic as the stakes are raised when it takes an unforeseen turn.  The hero/heroine of this story are both toting baggage that's weighing them down, Angie more so than Maddock, and their first "meeting" is unconventional to say the least.  The dynamics between them are as explosive as matches & gasoline even though they fight it and each other.  White has created a diverse cast of characters - some of which are seriously flawed and disturbingly real.  All are well-fleshed out, delivering a performance that would receive a standing ovation on the stage.  When you add it all up, The Drowned Girls is a stunning, intense, on-the-edge of your seat thriller.  A Page Burner!  A Must Read!  I can't sing its praises loudly enough.

My Rating:  5 Thrilling Hearts . . . And that's the truth!

Cross My Heart . . . xxx
Sandra


Saturday, March 17, 2018

Dearest Ivie Review

Title:  Dearest Ivie
Series: BDB #15.5
Author:  J.R. Ward
Genre:  Paranormal Romance
Publisher:  Ballantine Books
Release Date:  March 13, 2018
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  4.5 Oh-the-Feelings! Hearts

Synopsis:
In an exclusive ebook novella set in the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward tells the story of a fiery couple . . . doomed by an undeniable passion.

The last place Ivie expects to be approached by a devastatingly handsome male is in a crowded, smoky cigar bar rarely frequented by vampires—yet here he stands. Silas is flirtatious, gallant, and, above all, mysterious. Ivie is anything but. A nurse at the healer’s clinic and the daughter of a biker, Ivie is accustomed to speaking her mind. So she does. Since aristocrats rarely pick up females of her class, Ivie asks Silas just what kind of game he thinks he’s playing.

Despite her guarded exterior, Ivie surrenders to the fierce desire she feels for Silas. And yet, just as their courtship is heating up, he reveals that it cannot last, for he is bound to return to the Old Country. Their bond only deepens as they make the most of their precious time together. But when she learns the truth, Ivie must find a saving grace—before all is lost. . . .

Review:
Dearest Ivie aims straight for the heart, scoring a direct hit!  Emotionally charged from cover to cover, it packs a whole lot of story into a short amount of pages.  Tissues are definitely needed for this brief trek into the Black Dagger Brotherhood world.  While the main characters are not well-known to BDB fans, Ivie (a nurse at Havers' clinic) and Silas (an aristocrat with a deadly secret) quickly step into starring roles as two vampires from two different worlds who are highly attracted to one another.  And the journey begins! 

As a huge fan of the series, I sat glued to the pages and read Dearest Ivie in one sitting.  The story quickly grabbed my attention, snared my heart, and evoked a range of uncontrollable feelings - eventually bringing me to tears.  I love Ivie's wit, snarky humor, and honesty as well as her unfiltered tongue.  She brings a spark of color into this sometimes gray world.  And Silas - what can I say about a dream-come-true hero like Silas . . . that he's a swoon-worthy romantic?  Oh, he is that!  He's chilvarous, noble, honorable, but also mysterious.  Ward does a fantastic job of drawing readers right into the heart & soul of these two characters.  And, she surrounds them with a diverse support cast featuring a few regulars from the BDB world as well as some new, intriguing characters that I hope to see more of.  Add an emotion laden, heart-touching (if slightfully predictable) plotline, and this is another winner in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series!  A Must Read!

My Rating:  4.5 Oh-the-Feelings! Hearts . . . And that's the truth!





Cross My Heart . . . xxx
Sandra



Friday, March 9, 2018

Did you Miss Me Review


Title:  Did You Miss Me?
Author:  Karen Rose
Series:  Romantic Suspense#14, Baltimore#3
Publisher:  Headline Book Publ.
Release Date:  Dec., 2012
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  5 Complex Hearts








Synopsis:
Best be nimble, best be quick, I'm right here and you're my pick...

The last thing Ford Elkhart remembers is walking his girlfriend back to her university dormitory. Now he's lying tied and gagged on a cold, dark floor, with only one chance to escape before he ends up like the bones surrounding him...

Assistant State's Attorney Daphne Montgomery is devastated by her son's disappearance, and is immediately convinced that his kidnapping is connected to the white supremacist she's just had jailed for murder.

FBI Special Agent Joseph Carter isn't so sure - especially when he learns that Ford's girlfriend is also missing. Is Ford's abduction payback for Daphne's courtroom victory? Or is he a pawn in an even more dangerous game?

Review:
Moments after a controversial verdict is delivered by jurors, District Attorney Daphne Montgomery's world implodes.  She's attacked in the courtroom, nearly killed while giving a press conference, and then receives the devastating news that her son, Ford, is missing along with his girlfriend.  Threats made imply the family of the now convicted murderer is involved, but could there be a deeper, darker connection?  Have shades of the past returned to haunt Daphne once again?  FBI Special Agent Joseph Carter has made it his job to find out.  

Readers can count on Rose to deliver a chilling, complex, twisted story every single time as she always challenges us to step up to the plate and figure it out.  I think Did You Miss Me? may be her most convoluted plotline as of yet and that's saying a lot!   With a multitude of  characters with opportunity and motive, I found myself hard pressed to figure out the mystery of "who" even though a name and the "why" is revealed through the killer's thoughts and actions early on.  The inter-connections, both known and unknown to readers, throughout the story made my head spin in an effort to keep them all straight.  It's a good idea to slow down and take this one in slowly as every single detail will prove to be important.  While Joseph and Daphne are the stars of this book, other characters step up to lend their support and expertise - setting the stage for some highly anticipated future couples.  Mystery, action, intense suspense, heart-pounding & heart-touching moments - Did You Miss Me? delivers in a big way.  An absolutely chilling, page-burning Must Read in this awesome series!

My Rating:  5 Complex Hearts . . . And that's the truth!

Cross My Heart . . . xxx
Sandra