Monday, June 30, 2014

The Saint Review

Title:  The Saint
Series: Original Sinners - The White Years
Author:  Tiffany Reisz
Release Date:  June 24, 2014
Publisher:  Harlequin Mira

My Rating:  5 Soul Consuming 's


In the beginning, there was him.

Gutsy, green-eyed Eleanor never met a rule she didn't want to break. She's sick of her mother's zealotry and the confines of Catholic school, and declares she'll never go to church again. But her first glimpse of beautiful, magnetic Father Søren Stearns and his lust-worthy Italian motorcycle is an epiphany. Suddenly, daily Mass seems like a reward, and her punishment is the ache she feels when they're apart. He is intelligent and insightful and he seems to know her intimately at her very core. Eleanor is consumed—and even she knows that can't be right.

But when one desperate mistake nearly costs Eleanor everything, it is Søren who steps in to save her. She vows to repay him with complete obedience…and a whole world opens before her as he reveals to her his deepest secrets.

Danger can be managed—pain, welcomed. Everything is about to begin.
"You're not a normal priest, are you?"
He gave her a smile that hit her like a slap to the face and a kiss on the mouth all at once.
"My God, I hope not."

My Review:

Tiffany Reisz has done it again.  She has written another brilliant, complex, multi-layered story that takes us back to the beginning of it all - when Eleanor first meets Soren.  Nora is "almost sixteen" and Soren is the new, twenty-nine year old priest at her church.  Sparks fly when their eyes first meet and someway, somehow, they both know they share a profound connection that is destiny.  

She met his eyes and saw something flash in them, something she couldn't translate into words.  It was as if he recognized her, as if he'd seen her before somewhere and now tried to remember where.  She knew she'd never seen him before in her life.  If she had, she would never have forgotten him.
While I was uncomfortable at first with the idea of a relationship between this mature man and teenage girl, The Saint gave me the insight into Soren that I needed to know that he was a good man - that he always had Eleanor's best interests at heart, that he did not corrupt her as a young teen...although she certainly did her best to corrupt him!   Soren protected Eleanor - waiting patiently for her to grow up, guiding her spiritually as she matured into a beautiful young woman of twenty and also loving her enough to wait until she fell in love with a "normal" young man of her own age...thus allowing Eleanor to have a choice - a normal life with marriage & children or the life Soren could offer.  Which would she choose?

If there's one thing Nora has never been, it's "normal" or innocent (even though she is a virgin).  She was a troubled, rebellious teenager (no surprise there) when she set her sights on Soren.  She grew into a smart, snarky, competent woman who knew what she wanted and did what she needed to do to get it.   She is complicated and yet very "real".  I loved that about her.

Three words I couldn't imagine myself ever saying when I first started this series is I love Soren but I can say it now.  In fact, I loathed him for a long time, although I found him fascinating.  (My review of the first book, The Siren, can be found at The Siren Review.)

Soren is a multi-layered, complex man who has ghosts in his closet and darkness in his soul.  And yet, he is a beautiful, shining example of all that is good - a saint.  He challenges Nora and takes her to task when she strays off the path.  I thank Tiffany Reisz for giving us this view of the man underneath the collar of the priest.  He too is "real" with emotional flaws that can be traced back to his own childhood.  Make no mistake about it - he is a sadist.  Yet, he forces nothing on Nora but honesty, as he loves her enough to set her's her choice whether she ever returns to him. 

There is only one thing that didn't work for me about The Saint.  While Soren & Nora fill the pages, it's all in the past.  Nora is with Nico in present time in this book.  It bothered me that she is apparently "in love" with yet another man, while she again declares her love for Soren.  I realize this relationship apparently works for them but I would have preferred to see her returning to Soren's arms - especially after all we learn in The Saint.  However, this book still mesmerized me, sucking me in again until I couldn't turn pages fast enough.  It's both funny and romantic.  It's filled with lightness and darkness - love and angst.  It really is a love story.  I feel a loss after finishing it, as I already miss these characters and can't wait for the next one.  A Must Read!

My Rating:  5 Soul Consuming ♥♥♥♥♥'s...And that's the truth!

Cross My



"Why are you a priest?"  She dug her hands in the back of his hair.  Such soft hair and pale as spun gold.

"I love being a priest.  It's who I am.  And it's who I am because God wants me to be a priest."

"Are you sure?"

"If I had any doubt in my mind, do you think you'd still be a virgin?"
♥        ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥

"So it's okay to desire someone as long as you don't act on it?"

"There are many situations when acting on one's desires is not a sin."

"Married couples, right?  They can have sex all they want."

"Married couples can certainly engage in sexual acts with each other."

"And..."  Eleanor waved her hand, hoping for more to the answer.  "Nobody else?  The rest of us are screwed?  I mean, not screwed?"
♥       ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥         ♥

"Sheep among wolves.  That makes the church sound dangerous.  You think we're dangerous."

"I think you're dangerous."

Eleanor sat back on her heels.  They'd been joking the entire time they'd been in the sanctuary, but what he'd said and how he'd said it?  That was no joke.

"Me?  Dangerous?" she repeated.

"You. Very."


"Because you want to be.  That's part of the reason."
♥        ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥

"You're going to go through all this trouble for me, why?"

Soren looked back at her and gave her a smile that stripped her soul naked and put it on its knees.

"Because there is nothing I wouldn't do to protect you, Eleanor.  Nothing I wouldn't do to help you and nothing I wouldn't do to save you. Nothing."
♥        ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥       ♥        ♥

"And now I know why I needed to become a priest.  Because God knew long before I did that I would need to be a priest to find you and help you and keep you on the right path.  And I will keep you safe even if it kills me."
♥        ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥

"Eleanor, I could barely breathe watching you walk down the aisle today.  Do you know how much it hurt knowing you will never walk down that aisle to me?"

Tears burned her eyes.

"It hurt me, too," she confessed, and blinked the tears away.
♥        ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥

"Little One, to be with me is to hurt."

"To be without you would hurt more.  It did hurt more.  You won't scare me off.  I'm not afraid of you."
♥        ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥        ♥       ♥        ♥

"Have you ever had a dream feel so real that upon waking you thought you were still asleep?"  He took her hand in his.

"Once or twice."

"I felt like that the moment I saw you, Little One.  I dreamed you once.  I think I'm still dreaming."

Friday, June 20, 2014

Cowboy Take Me Away Review

This is the final Rough Riders book.  How sad is that?!  It's been a hell of a ride.  Hats off to Lorelei James for giving us these hot cowboys to swoon over in book after book...pages of hot, arrogant, sexy as sin alpha males doing what they do best - drinking, fighting and loving.  Now we reach the end of the trail with Cowboy Take Me Away, and LJ has given us the best one yet! 

"You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen.  How about we skip all this dating bullshit and just head straight to the alter?"
Her confused eyes roamed his face.  "Did you just ask me to marry you?"
"Yep.  So what d'ya say?"
"Does that line usually work for you, cowboy?"


Settle in for the hot McKay romance that started it all...

The moment Carson McKay saw the sexy blonde at the dance hall, he wanted to throw her over his saddle and gallop hell-bent toward the closest church. Given his reputation as a lover and a fighter-not necessarily in that order-it wasn't surprising she gave him the cold shoulder. But he hadn't expected the mean right hook when he tried to steal a kiss.

Carolyn West might look sweet and innocent, but she's no fool. The good-looking cowboy with the heart-stopping smile didn't really want to marry her; he just wanted to take her for a test ride. But when he kisses her a second time, she doesn't fight her burning attraction to him...until she learns he's one of the McKay cowboys she's been warned about.

Carson doesn't care about the long-standing feud between their families; he knows that Carolyn was meant to be his. And the more intimate they become, the more Carolyn sees the real man behind the wild cowboy reputation-a man who wants the same forever kind of love she does...and who will lead her into a love story that spans fifty years.

Warning: Crazy, hot, sexy and sweet--good girl meets bad boy cowboy and they prove lust can last a lifetime.

My Review:

Carson McKay and Carolyn West - a match made in heaven or hell?  Their families have feuded for years...they will never get their parents' blessing to marry but this is a love that will not be denied and one that will stand the test of time.  Lorelei James has saved the best for last.  I absolutely love the way she delivers the final Rough Rider book by going back to the start of it all.  We've met all the McKay brothers and cousins...we know they are brawling, drinking, sexy cowboys that ride hard and love harder.  Now we see who they got it from.  Carson McKay has to be the baddest of them all, and Carolyn West proves she's the woman to tame him.  Through a series of "memories", LJ takes us back through the eyes of both Carson & Caro to some of the major events that shaped their lives as they met, married, & raised their family of 5 boys & 1 girl over 50 years of marriage.  If you think the McKay boys are hot, wait until you meet Carson at age 24...turn on the a/c - you'll need it.  This story is a bronc busting hell of a read that will make you laugh, cry, and say "Oh My!"  I love that LJ has given us both the good and the bad as we all know the road to a lasting marriage is not always a smooth one.  I applauded Carolyn each time she stood up to Carson and called him on his "shit".  This book is a Must is smokin' hot and yet filled with loving, tender moments between two people who were meant to be.  A Must Read!  I'll say it again - A Must Read!!  

Rating:  5 Gorgeous ♥♥♥♥♥'s...And that's the truth!

Cross My



"Why me?"  Her eyes searched his.  "Every woman in that place had eyes on you.  And you know exactly how good you look, so it's not like you're unaware of your appeal."

Carson stroked her cheek.  "Do I appeal to you?  Or should I get nekkid so you can inspect me before you commit to me for the rest of your life?"  
 ♦          ♦          ♦          ♦          ♦          ♦

 "So any woman you marry will have to understand she'll come second to cows and crops?"

He watched her eyes, so wise and yet so curious, which was a damn potent combination when she focused it on him.  "Yeah."

"No wonder you're having a hard time finding a woman to sign on for life."

"That's the thing.  I haven't been lookin'."  He twisted a strand of blonde silk around his finger.  "Then I saw you."
♣          ♣          ♣          ♣          ♣          ♣

"Is it normal to be in love so soon?  Or am I just reading too much into it because you're my first--"

"Boyfriend?" he supplies.

"No. My first lover," she said crossly.

Another growling sound escaped.  "First lover?  Got news for you sugar, I'm gonna be your only goddamned lover.  Ever.  No man besides me will ever touch you.  Understand?"
 ♠          ♠          ♠          ♠          ♠          ♠

"Nothing in my sheltered life prepared me for what it means to love Carson McKay, the gorgeous blue-eyed cowboy, third generation Wyoming rancher, hell-raiser of the first order.  But nothing in my sheltered life prepared me either for the way you look at me, for the way you love me.  With everything you have, with everything you are.  I can't believe with all the women you could've had who understand this ranch stuff, you picked me to build a life with."
 ♥          ♥          ♥          ♥          ♥          ♥

Shame flashed in his eyes.  "I'm sorry."

"Yes, you are.  You've been a sorry excuse for a husband and a father and I'm done putting up with it."

"What are you sayin'?"

"You know exactly what I'm saying."
♦          ♦          ♦          ♦          ♦          ♦

"That was the most magnificent thing I've ever seen.  Except for the two times you brought our sons into the world."

"I'm mad at you, Carson McKay.  So don't you dare try and charm your way out of this mess."

"I'm not.  I'm tellin' it like I saw it, sugar.  You were spectacular.  Spectacular.  Callin' me on my shit.  Not backin' down from me or anyone else.  Reminding me of why I fell in love with you."

"Maybe you ought to remind me why I fell in love with you," she challenged.     

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

High Noon Review


Police Lieutenant Phoebe MacNamara found her calling at an early age when an unstable man broke into her family's home, trapping and terrorizing them for hours. Now she's Savannah's top hostage negotiator, defusing powderkeg situations with a talent for knowing when to give in-and when to jump in and take action. It's satisfying work-and sometimes those skills come in handy at home dealing with her agoraphobic mother, still traumatized by the break-in after all these years, and her precocious seven-year-old, Carly.

It's exactly that heady combination of steely courage and sensitivity that first attracts Duncan Swift to Phoebe. After observing her coax one of his employees down from a roof ledge, he is committed to keeping this intriguing, take-charge woman in his life. She's used to working solo, but Phoebe's discovering that no amount of negotiation can keep Duncan at arm's length.

And when she's grabbed by a man who throws a hood over her head and brutally assaults her-in her own precinct house-Phoebe can't help but be deeply shaken. Then threatening messages show up on her doorstep, and she's not just alarmed but frustrated. How do you go face-to-face with an opponent who refuses to look you in the eye?

Now, with Duncan backing her up every step of the way, she must establish contact with the faceless tormentor who is determined to make her a hostage to fear . . . before she becomes the final showdown.

 My Review:

Nora Roberts never fails to deliver in her standalone novels.  Action, suspense, intrigue, chemistry, romance - High Noon has it all.  And it'll be some time before I get that tune out of my head!  This one starts off with a bang - straight into action as Phoebe is called to the scene of a man threatening suicide.  As a hostage negotiator with the Savannah police department, Phoeboe goes out on the ledge to talk him down.  It's just another day in her life as a police hostage negotiator, single mother, caretaker of her mother & breadwinner of the family.  But things are changing as someone is stalking and tormenting her.  Dead animals are tossed on her porch steps,  she is attacked in the stairwell of her own police building, a man she has spent hours negotiating with is shot down as he walks out with his arms in the air, and Phobe doesn't have a clue who is taunting & terrorizing her.  As the violence escalates, she fears for her family and the man she can't seem to get out of her mind, Duncan Swift.

What works?  I loved the plot development and suspense in High Noon.  The story never lags as the action revs up with the mystery stalker growing more violent and braver day by day.  The author did a good job building the suspense while keeping the identity of the stalker hidden from both Phoebe and readers.  The family dynamics are intriguing and add another plot line to the story.  The chemistry between Phoebe and Duncan is believable with just the right amount of angst and obstacles thrown in their path along with a good dose of sizzle!  I loved Duncan - the character he portrays is the kind of man every girl deserves.  And yet, he didn't come across as too sweet or good to be true.  Although he's a gentleman, he's also a man who sees what he wants and goes after it with every intention of winning.  Phoebe never stood a chance. 

What doesn't work?  Honestly, it all works.  My only wish would be for an epilogue to tie up some sub-plot lines concerning relationships with secondary characters.  While the ending is satisfying with things wrapped up neatly with the main characters and the mystery, there are some other characters that also stole my heart.  While a hea was hinted at for them, it would have been nice to "see" them all about a year in the future.  But this in no way distracts from the overall enjoyment of the book.  This is a great read for fans of romance suspense.  As I said, Nora Roberts never fails in this genre, in my opinion.  A must read!

Rating:  4 Beautiful ♥♥♥♥'s...And that's the truth!

 Cross My


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Motivational Tools

IWSG is a group of writers who share ideas and encourage others. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Articles are posted the first Wednesday of every month. 

 Motivational Tools:

How do you get "in the mood" to write?  Jump start your creativity?  Plan & plot your story?  What helps motivate you to pen a special scene?  Capture the passion of a unique character?  Do you exercise a writing routine?  Something that gets your creative juices flowing?  (Stay with me here - we're talking writing!)

For me, it's music.  I love music...the sound of it, the many moods of it, the feelings it evokes, the way I lose myself in a song.  Nothing conveys emotions like music.  It touches me, commanding my response with the power to alter or enhance my mood.  A song may encourage a waltz down memory lane or propel me forward through dreams of the future. I'm often overwhelmed at the raw emotions a great song or soundtrack can arouse in me and that's exactly what I need to write.

Music is proving to be my writing tool of choice.  Knowing that a song or melody induce my deeper, primal emotions, I put on my headphones and let music help me "get in the mood" to write emotional scenes.  I find myself turning to music more often when plotting & planning.  It helps me visualize characters in my mind, capturing not only their physical appearance but also the essence of who they are.   

As music flows through me, it infiltrates my mind and soul and becomes a tool for transfusing real emotion into my characters...heartbreak, anger, betrayal, despair, love, joy, if I can "feel" it, I can write it.  Music and writing are all about emotions and for me, they go hand in hand.

The potency of emotional scenes is enhanced by music.  Think about soundtracks in movies and the way music fills the theater, consuming you with emotions...anguish, heartbreak, turmoil, danger, or joy, love, happy ever after.  What would a movie be without music?  Empty.  What's a story if you aren't invaded and possessed by the emotion?  Empty.  Scenes that are moving enough to arouse a reaction from you, with characters that elicit your empathy, are vessels for evoking real emotions in readers & movie goers.  Like a magician, music hypnotizes me, enabling me to captivate and translate my own emotions to the characters & scenes of my stories.

I'm now building Playlists to use as motivational tools.  My list of songs is extensive so I'll only mention a few.  

  • Rebecca Lynn Howard's "Forgive" is about a woman with a devastating decision - Forgive him or Move on?...It embodies heartbreak, anger, betrayal,  and broken trust.  Forgive
  • Rascal Flatts has a song that reminds me of "missed chances" - words left unspoken - a love that slips away. What Hurts the Most  It's pure heartbreak and regret  - listening to it sets the mood for those painful "what might have been" scenes.  

  • Garth Brooks says it best in  The Dance - Our lives are better left to chance.  Live it, don't regret it.  Gives me chills to listen to this one.  Even without the words, the music score in The Dance is simply beautiful.
  • For pure raw emotion, Christina Aquilera & A Great Big World touch me every time with Say Something  - evokes such strong emotion.
  • Jon Bon Jovi can do no wrong in my eyes.  His songs run the gamut of emotions.  One of my favorites is You Want to Make A Memory  - I cry most every time listening to this one, and while there are many versions of Hallelujah, both the music & the voice of Bon Jovi move me in his rendition of Hallelujah 
  • And  a song with music that just "sets the mood" - love the sultry, smoky, bluesy beat of Black Velvet by Alannah Myles.  Black Velvet

How do you translate emotions onto the page for your readers?  What helps you set the mood in your scenes and bring your characters to life?  Do you use music to facilitate the flow of emotions in your writing?  Do you have any favorite songs or soundtracks that motivate you?  Whether you're a planner or a pantser, tell me how you get in the mood to write?  What are your motivational tools?

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