Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tears Of Tess Review


Tess Snow has everything she ever wanted: one more semester before a career in property development, a loving boyfriend, and a future dazzling bright with possibility.

For their two year anniversary, Brax surprises Tess with a romantic trip to Mexico. Sandy beaches, delicious cocktails, and soul-connecting sex set the mood for a wonderful holiday. With a full heart, and looking forward to a passion filled week, Tess is on top of the world.

But lusty paradise is shattered.

Kidnapped. Drugged. Stolen. Tess is forced into a world full of darkness and terror.

Captive and alone with no savior, no lover, no faith, no future, Tess evolves from terrified girl to fierce fighter. But no matter her strength, it can’t save her from the horror of being sold.

Can Brax find Tess before she’s broken and ruined, or will Tess’s new owner change her life forever?

"My life was complete. Happy, content, everything neat and perfect.
Then it all changed.
I was sold.”

A New Adult Dark Contemporary Romance, not suitable for people sensitive to grief, slavery, and nonconsensual sex. A story about finding love in the strangest of places, a will of iron that grows from necessity, and forgiveness that may not be enough.

My Review:

In the blink of an eye, things change.  Catastrophic events can occur that turn safe, secure lives upside down.  It happened to Tess.  A dream vacation in Mexico with the man she loved turned into her worse nightmare.  She was kidnapped, brutally beaten and sold as a sex slave.  But this story is about so much more than that.  Tears of Tess is a story of survival, discovery, and recognizing & embracing ones destiny.  While happy with her boyfriend, Tess longed for more sexually.  She has thoughts of pain and pleasure - dark desires that she knows her vanilla boyfriend will never embrace.  She tries to subdue them, to keep them locked away but they escape, overwhelming her with emotions she doesn't understand.  Then she is kidnapped.  Her captors are brutal - terrorizing, beating, & starving her.  Their intention is to mentally break her and then sell her.  Tess mourns the loss of her safe, secure world, hanging on to the tattered scraps of her sanity as all hope of rescue slips away.  It's up to her to save herself.  She digs deep and unleashes the darkness that she has tried to keep hidden inside...if she dies, she will die fighting every step of the way.  And then she meets her new owner, Q.

"Monsters find each other in the dark."
Tears of Tess, Monsters in the Dark #1, is not for the faint of heart.  Horrific things happen to good people, both in RL and this series.  Tess is one of those people.  Winters delivers a graphic, emotionally charged account of what monsters do to innocent victims.  Tess begins this journey as a victim, a slave, kidnapped by sex traffickers.  She is degraded, branded, mentally & physically abused, and at the end of her rope...all before meeting Q - dark, sexy, dominant...a true alpha male who is not only a mystery to Tess but to readers also.  Who is he?  Her new master for sure.  But is he one of the monsters?  Or her savior?  Why does Tess find herself wanting to call him Sir?   Whose thoughts are these:

I want to hurt you.
I want to own you.
I want to devour you.
I want to make you mine.
I'm already yours.

I won't say more about the plot as it's almost impossible to talk about this book without revealing spoilers.  Tears of Tess is a book that should be experienced as you read it - just know going in that it's graphic...full of angst, pain, darkness.  But if you're brave enough to open the cover and step in, I can promise you a great read that you won't put down until the end.  Winters delivers a Page Burner book  with characters you will both love & hate - that experience both pleasure and pain.  And in all the darkness, there's a ray of hope.  There's always hope if you never give up.  A Must Read!  The series continues with Quintessentially Q

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

Cross My


If someone asked me a week ago what I was most afraid of, I'd have said crickets.  Those damn flying grasshopper creatures scared the bejesus out of me.
Now, if someone asked me, I'd say three little words.
Three little words that terrified, stole my breath, and made my life flicker before my eyes.
Three little words.
I was sold. 
♦        ♦        ♦        ♦        ♦        ♦        ♦        ♦
"I'm not something you can tame.  I'm not a man who will sprout poems and treat you nice.  I'm. Not. That. Human."
♦        ♦        ♦        ♦        ♦       ♦        ♦        ♦

Two things I wanted most in the world:  for Q to die a miserable death, and for him to fuck me.  
♦         ♦        ♦        ♦        ♦        ♦       ♦       ♦
 "You are mine.  You are mine.  Repeat that until it gets into your head.  You cannot disobey.  Unless..."  A glint of interest smouldered in his eyes.  "Unless you want to be punished?"


Rusty Nailed Review


In this sequel to Wallbanger, the second book in the Cocktail series, fan favorites Caroline and Simon negotiate the rollercoaster of their new relationship while house-sitting in San Francisco.

Playing house was never so much fun—or so confusing. With her boss on her honeymoon, Caroline’s working crazy long hours to keep the interior design company running—especially since she’s also the lead designer for the renovation of a gorgeous old hotel on Sausalito. So with her hotshot photographer boyfriend gallivanting all over the world for his job, she and Simon are heavy-duty into “absence makes the heart grow fonder” mode. Neither has any complaints about the great reunion sex, though! Then Simon decides he’s tired of so much traveling, and he’s suddenly home more. A lot more. And wanting Caroline home more, too. Though their friends’ romantic lives provide plenty of welcome distraction, eventually Caroline and Simon have to sort their relationship out. Neither wants “out of sight, out of mind,” but can they create their own happy mid-ground cliché?

USA TODAY bestselling author Alice Clayton delivers another delicious, frothy cocktail of a book, shaking up her characters, stirring in laugh-out-loud humor, and serving sizzling romance straight up!

My Review:

I'll start by saying I loved Wallbanger.  It was funny, snarky, sexy - just a fun, light read.  I loved the characters including Clive, the cat as he was hilarious.  Clayton delivered the story is a delightful, humorous way...we even get Clive's POV!  I looked forward to continuing with Caroline & Simon and the rest of the gang in Rusty Nailed expecting to once again be charmed.  While I had anticipated getting the story of one of the other couples, I was okay with the continuing saga of Caroline, Simon & Clive, the cat.

In Rusty Nailed, we find them house sitting, purchasing their own house, remodeling and adjusting to living together as a couple.  Their friends are interwoven throughout the story with a lot of drama and some laughs.  There are some really funny scenes and of course, some smoking hot scenes.  But after awhile, it just seemed to get a little repetitive to me - a little too sweet & cutesy mixed with a lot of girlie drama.  The things that were funny in Wallbanger weren't so funny in Rusty least not over & over.  It began to remind me a bit of a slapstick comedy routine or a night of one-liners that aren't funny the second time around.  I even found myself skimming through Clive's scenes.  How sad is that?  Apparently, a little sugar really does go a long ways.  

As I continued reading, I began looking for more depth, something to sink my teeth in and build my anticipation.  Sadly, I didn't find it in Rusty Nailed.  By then, I was even skimming the sex scenes.  I enjoy these characters but just wanted and expected more from this book.  Fans of Wallbanger should read it and form their own opinion.  I'm sure many will love it.  For me, it just fell short of the mark.  Wallbanger was a much better book.  

My Rating:  3 Pretty  ♥♥♥'s...And that's the truth!

Cross My


Friday, July 11, 2014

The Restorer Review


"I was nine when I saw my first ghost."

My name is Amelia Gray. I'm a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. In order to protect myself from the parasitic nature of the dead, I've always held fast to the rules passed down from my father. But now a haunted police detective has entered my world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept me safe.

It started with the discovery of a young woman's brutalized body in an old Charleston graveyard I've been hired to restore. The clues to the killer and to his other victims lie in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret. Devlin needs my help, but his ghosts shadow his every move, feeding off his warmth, sustaining their presence with his energy. To warn him would be to invite them into my life. I've vowed to keep my distance, but the pull of his magnetism grows ever stronger even as the symbols lead me closer to the killer and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.

"Not everyone can see them," he said.  "For those of us who can, there are certain precautions we must take in order to protect ourselves and those around us.  The first and most important is this--Never acknowledge the dead.  Don't look at them, don't speak to them, don't let them sense your fear.  Even when they touch you."

A chill shimmied over me.  "They...touch you?"

"Sometimes they do."

"And you can feel it?"

He drew a breath.  "Yes.  You can feel it."

My Review:

Have you ever read a book that's been on your 'to be read' list a long time and upon finishing,  you think "Why didn't I read this sooner?"  The Restorer is that book!    Some time ago, I purchased this book for Kindle and added the audio version to my phone...and then forgot about it.  A couple days ago, I needed a book to listen to while driving, opened Audible on my phone, and this book popped up...I swear I didn't choose it, it chose me.  Creepy considering it's about a girl who sees ghosts!  Out of curiosity, I hit 'Play' and was immediately hooked by the haunting, almost eerie narrating of Kristine Hvam.  She nails not only the ole southern drawl but also the sultry atmosphere of the South, rich in history, tradition, politics....and ghosts. 

Amanda Stevens delivers an eerie thriller in The Restorer.  Beautifully written, the prose is poetic, almost lyrical as it flows from the pages, conjuring not only the surreal images but also the seductive, almost other-worldly ambiance of the ole South found in and around areas like Charleston.  Outsiders (anyone not born & raised here) will feel like they've stepped into another world.  I found myself hypnotized from the start, drawn like a moth to a flame.   This haunting story unfolds as  Amelia Gray, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts and John Devlin, an emotionally tortured police detective who is haunted by the ghosts of his wife & daughter, join forces to catch a who is leaving dead bodies in the cemetery that Amelia is restoring.  The killer is communicating with Amelia through her blog site...sending cryptic messages hidden in tombstone epitaphs.  Written in first person POV, we see it all through Amelia's eyes - yes, even the ghosts she encounters along the way...some are sad, lost & searching while others are dark, evil, & looking to possess.  All are haunting as Amanda Stevens literally breathes life into every single one...they creep off the pages to grab you & become just as real as any human character you will encounter during this chilling journey.  I've never read a ghost or paranormal story that was more believable, more realistic yet other-worldly, more haunting.

Is it paranormal romance?  It delves deeply into the world of ghosts and the undead and yet it is unlike any pnr book I've ever read.  There is certainly a romantic element as the sexual tension grows between Amelia and John as their relationship deepens.  However, if you're looking for a hot & heavy, burn up the sheets romance, this is not it.   Mystery/Suspense?  Undeniably!  It's an intriguing, spooky, ominous, make you look over your shoulder thriller that had me turning pages as fast as I could.  Fortunately, I finished this book in the daylight.  Twilight is the time when the veil lifts and the ghosts emerge seeking to feed off our energy and bask in our warmth.

  Dusk is a dangerous time for people like me.  An in-between time just as the seashore and the edge of a forest are in-between places.  The Celts had a name for these landscapes--caol' ait.  Thin places where the barrier between our world and the next is but a gossamer veil.   

A mysterious, odd array of supporting characters, both ghosts & humans, add to the suspense and intrigue as this story unfolds.  The pace frantically builds as the murders continue, and the danger in which Amelia finds herself, from both the living & the dead, escalates to a thrilling ending.  I flew through the final pages with my heart  pounding.  Fans of Suspense/Thrillers and Paranormal - This is a must read!  It is a mesmerizing, chilling, and yet beautifully touching read.  A Page Burner!!

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

Cross My


"...what the dead want more than anything is to be a part of our world again.  They're like parasites, drawn to our energy, feeding off our warmth.  If they know you can see them, they'll cling to you like blight.  You'll never be rid of them.  And your life will never again be your own."
♥       ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥

Tall, broad-shouldered and dressed all in black, he might have stepped from the dreamy hinterland of some childhood fable.  I could barely make out his features, but I knew instinctively that he was handsome and brooding.  The way he carried himself, the almost painful glare of his eyes through the mist, sent icy needles stinging down my spine.

He was no ghost, but dangerous to me nonetheless and so compelling I couldn't tear my gaze away as he moved toward me.  
♥        ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥

"Somebody uh-comin' for dis gal.  Somebody with a soul black as midnight.  Somebody dat walk with the dead."
♥       ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥

Floating down into a deep slumber, I was oblivious to the creak of my garden gate, the howl of my next-door neighbor's dog and the eyes that gleamed with madness peering in through my bedroom window as I slept.
♥       ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥ 

"Have you ever had a recurring nightmare?"

"Yes."  He paused.  "And then I wake up and remember that it's real."

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Don't Tell Review

It was a desperate plan. But Mary Grace Winters knew the only way to save herself and her child from her abusive cop husband was to stage their own death. Now all that remains of their former life is at the bottom of a lake. Armed with a new identity in a new town, she and her son have found refuge hundreds of miles away. As Caroline Stewart, she has almost forgotten the nightmare she left behind nine years ago. She is even taking a chance on love with Max Hunter, a man with wounds of his own. But her past is about to collide with the present when her husband uncovers her trail and threatens her hard-won peace. Step by step, he's closing in on her- and everything and everyone she loves.

Nine years.  She lifted her chin, willing the fear to recede, willing her muscles to relax.  Nine years had passed since he'd pushed her down the stairs.  Seven years since she'd made her escape.  Seven years of being afraid, of looking over her shoulder.  Of taking a step back every time someone reached to touch.

How long would she allow him to affect her life?  Him.  She made herself think his name.  Rob Winters.  An evil sonofabitch that got his kicks from terrorizing those weaker than himself.

My Review:

This is my first read by author Karen Rose but it certainly won't be my last.  Don't Tell takes on the often taboo subject of domestic violence, as a woman and her young son escape the clutches of a monster disguised in a police uniform and spend the next seven years building a new life, while constantly looking over their shoulders.  Their story is chilling and the abuse graphic, but so worth the read as it is brilliantly written, portraying the desire and determination to survive through the eyes of Caroline (aka Mary Grace), as she claws & scrapes her way to a  better life for her that is not filled with fear and pain.  At the same time, she knows she can never stop looking back for fear her husband will find them and take them back. 

Don't Tell gravitates between three scenarios as the story develops and races toward an ending in which they all collide.  One part is Caroline building her new life with Max, her new boss & a man with a trunk load of his own emotional baggage.   Their romantic attraction is immediate & very touching as Caroline learns to trust a man again, and Max learns to let go of a tragedy and disappointment in his own past.  The other scenarios swing between the SBI investigation, as it ramps up to catch Caroline's abusive husband, and Rob Winters (her husband), who happens to be a cop who has crossed over the edge of sanity upon discovering his wife & son were not killed but actually ran to escape his abuse.  The depravity and depth of Rob's cruelty become clear as he methodically tracks down his wife while cruelly punishing everyone he thinks may have helped her escape and start a new life.  The suspense & anticipation are high in this one as Rob's insanity explodes in an uncontrollable rage, and he draws nigher and nigher to finding Caroline & Tommy.  While I almost dreaded reading what I knew was going to happen, I was mesmerized into turning pages as fast as possible.

I don't want to leave the impression that Don't Tell is all doom & isn't.  While the subject matter is painful, the spirit of survival & a new life is very much alive.  A mother's love & desire to give her child a better life is a powerful motivator and is demonstrated admirably in this book.  The secondary characters are outstanding & well developed, adding another layer to the plot.  Dana, who runs the abuse shelter Caroline first escaped to is funny, snarky, and often a reality check for Caroline.  Special Agent Steven Thatcher, who is in charge of the investigation and tracking down Rob, is a widow with three sons of his own.  He has no qualms about taking down a rogue cop...even while fellow cops question his loyalties & methods.

Don't Tell is a romance/suspense book in which both elements are well written.  While the romance happens "upon first sight", it is both believable and beautiful - two damaged souls finding & helping one another learn to trust again.  The suspense is just chilling...the anticipation level is off the charts!   The investigation & manhunt are intense and ring true.  I can't wait to work the second book of the series, Have You Seen Her, into my reading schedule.  Fans of romance/suspense - Meet author Karen Rose!  You will love Don't Tell!  A must read!

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

Cross My



He wanted her to recognize him.  To remember what he was capable of.  He wanted her to fear him like she'd never feared in her life.
♦        ♦       ♦       ♦       ♦       ♦       ♦       ♦ 

Please, God, no.  The pleas rolled in her head, echoing.  Don't let it be like before.  Don't let it be him.
♦        ♦       ♦       ♦       ♦       ♦       ♦       ♦

The red tip would hurt.  The acrid smell of burning flesh would combine with the stale smell of the cigarette smoke.  And it would hurt.  Numb, she watched as the smoke continued to rise.

He dragged on the cigarette and blew the smoke so that it formed a cloud around her head.  He smiled, his lips baring yellow teeth.  She'd seen them in her nightmares, fangs dripping with blood.

His smile widened into a grin, his eyes so calculatingly evil that she found herself mesmerized.  Eyes of a cobra, she thought.  Ready to strike.
♦       ♦       ♦       ♦       ♦       ♦        ♦        ♦
(Dana & Caroline talking about Max)

"Poor, poor Caroline.  Does he make your heart go pitter-pat?"

Caroline shook her head.  "I wish."

"Jack-hammer?  Oh, boy," she whistled when Caroline nodded.  "That can't sit well with you."

"Why would you say that?"

Dana tapped her chin with her forefinger.  "Let's see.  Caroline Stewart, who has successfully avoided any entanglement with a man for as long as I've know her.  Suddenly she's face-to-face with potent sex appeal.  I bet he liked you, too.  That would make it worse."
♦        ♦       ♦       ♦       ♦       ♦       ♦       ♦

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The 3 R's...Reflect, Refocus, Renew

 Why a list of New Year's Resolutions?  It's July 2nd, and this year's half over...yes, this means 6 months behind us, 6 months ahead of us in 2014.  Where did the time go?  I have no idea but I do know I'm not where I had hoped to be in my goals for the year.  I have made headway on diet, exercise, & drinking more water.  I don't smoke or sleep late...I drink very little & already spend time with my family so these are non-issues for me.  I don't do Facebook but spend way too much time on other social media sites, and I will never get to sleep at a decent hour.  What does that mean anyway?  

While these are goals & resolutions I need to continue working on, my focus today is on my writing goals.  I made a resolution...a promise to finish my book in 2014.  I promised myself to write almost every day.  Just a page a day will net 365 pages in a year, that's close to an average book...any writer should be able to do that, right?  In reflecting on my year, I'm not even coming close to that.  Too many days pass with me not sitting down to write.  I promised myself to stop letting distractions and interruptions derail my writing schedule and stick to a writing routine.  They still waylay me too often.  I promised myself to stop editing as I write (Write Now, Edit Later) but I continue getting bogged down in rereading and rewriting as I go.  It's time to activate the 3 R's:  Reflect, Refocus, Renew!

  • Reflect:  Take a little time to reflect on the first 6 months of the year.  What were your goals for 2014?  What's working for you?  What's not?  Do you have a plan for accomplishing your writing goals?  Are you on track?  Is your routine working?  Does it need tweaking?  Now's the time to take a good look at what you've accomplished in the first 6 months of this year. 
  • Refocus:   Reclaim and redefine your writing goals.  Reevaluate where you've been and where you want to go in the next 6 months.  Revise your plan if it's not working for you.  Redefine your space and expectations and then refocus on them.  Be selfish!  Schedule your writing time first.  It's not too late to reach your goals in 2014!
  • Renew:  What do you want to accomplish in the last 6 months of 2014?  It's time to get your eyes on the renew your energy and enthusiasm for writing.  Take some "me" time to rejuvenate your mind and body.  Know your own limits and then push them...expect more - don't settle for the same old, same old.  Learn when to say "No"...people will understand and families will survive a little while without you.  They may even learn to do some things for themselves!  Establish a routine, share it with your family,  set priorities and take control of the rest of this year!

I'm spending the day taking my own advice...I have reflected on the past six months, looking at what I've accomplished and what I didn't.  I'm refocusing on the plan I made with enthusiasm and good intentions in January.  Some of my expectations were unrealistic, plain and simple...they need tweaking.  But most of my goals were spot on, and I simply need to revise & reclaim them.  I'm not happy with what I've accomplished thus far in 2014 but by reviewing the last six months, I've learned where my weaknesses lie and am now establishing my plan of attack.  Focus and distractions are a big issue for me.  I must get a handle on them.  As Stephen Covey said, "You have to decide what your highest priorities are"...and "say 'no' to other things."  I'm working on that.  One thing I've learned is it's never too late.  It's time to Reflect, Refocus, & Renew in 2014 and move forward.  Christmas bells will be ringing before you know it, signaling the end of another year!  Will you be where you want to be in your writing career?

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