Monday, December 10, 2018

An Anonymous Girl Review

Title:  An Anonymous Girl
Author:  Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Release Date:  Jan. 8, 2019
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  4 Obsessive Hearts

*Many thanks to St. Martin's Press for an arc of this book.

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Jessica Farris seizes an unexpected opportunity to earn some extra money by showing up at an appointment for participants in a morality and ethics survey - one that was meant for another girl.  Jessica takes her place and becomes Subject 52.  Upon subsequent survey sessions, Jessica's involvement progresses from answering questions to following precise instructions and venturing out into questionable real life situations, causing her to question the morality of what she's being asked to do.  Meantime, her curiosity drives her to start searching for information on the illusive Dr. Shields  - an action that brings about a game of cat and mouse, leaving readers to figure out who's playing whom?  

I highly advise going into this thriller blind.  Do yourself a favor, and don't read spoilers.  The beauty of this story is in the slow development and peeling back of layers, revealing the true nature of characters and raising the stakes chapter by chapter.  Through dual narration, readers are lured into menacing mind games fueled by obsession and paranoia.  At times, I felt like I was fighting my way out of a dark maze trying to determine who was telling the truth and who was lying.  While I did figure it out, I still wasn't one hundred percent sure I was right until the end.  An Anonymous Girl is an addictive, creepy thriller that is hard to put down.  The authors have created a dark, tense atmospheric setting that reeks of impending doom.  Flawed characters sporting disguises of normalcy keep readers working to unmask the identity of the real villain.  I greatly enjoyed the originality and delivery of the plot line and look forward to more from these authors.  A Must Read!

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

Cross My Heart . . . xxx

Friday, December 7, 2018

Ravensong Review

Title:  Ravensong
Series:  Green Creek, #2
Author:  T.J. Klune
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Release Date:  July 31, 2018
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  4 Magical PackPackPack Hearts

Gordo Livingstone never forgot the lessons carved into his skin. Hardened by the betrayal of a pack who left him behind, he sought solace in the garage in his tiny mountain town, vowing never again to involve himself in the affairs of wolves.

It should have been enough.

And it was, until the wolves came back, and with them, Mark Bennett. In the end, they faced the beast together as a pack… and won.

Now, a year later, Gordo has found himself once again the witch of the Bennett pack. Green Creek has settled after the death of Richard Collins, and Gordo constantly struggles to ignore Mark and the song that howls between them.

But time is running out. Something is coming. And this time, it’s crawling from within.

Some bonds, no matter how strong, were made to be broken.

Ravensong is a stunning, intense addition to the Green Creek series, and once again, I find myself at a loss for words to adequately express the experience of reading one of these books.  Klune's unique singsong voice and lyrical style are hypnotic, calling to something within me like a siren - drawing me into this deceptively simple feeling yet complex story and world.  His books are raw, gutsy, and oh-so-emotional - an experience that will drain you while leaving you ravenous for more.

Klune has spun another magical tale in this fantasy world of shifters, witches, packs, Alphas, Omegas, and yes, humans.  While a lot of backstory is woven into this book through some early flashbacks, do yourself a favor and read Wolfsong before venturing into Ravensong.  There's so much world building, story, and character relationship development to be found there.  Both books are truly an experience that I promise are unlike anything you've ever read before.

Ravensong defies genres (as did Wolfsong), refusing to be boxed in.  It's so full and more and bigger than life and yet so real.  It can be labelled fantasy, paranormal, m/m, second-chance romance, but more than anything else . . . I'd call it epic.  It's dark and edgy with plotlines growing, creeping, clinging, and intertwining, driving characters and readers to a state of urgent frenzy.  Like an out of control train on a collision course, the emotional complications and consequences of family threaten to implode the Bennett pack, taking Gordo and others down with them . . . even as outside forces threaten their homes, lives, and very existence.  Broken bonds and promises fester making it difficult for old wounds to heal leaving Gordo and Mark in limbo - unable to stand together and in danger of loosing everything if they don't.

Ravensong is Gordo and Mark's story . . . and so much more.  I wouldn't call it a romance as much as a love story with all the heartbreak and pain that can accompany fickle fate and love-gone-wrong.  It's not pretty, sweet, or kind.  But there is needed comic relief through some awesome support characters.  Be warned - Once you enter this world, you'll lose yourself in the story, setting, and characters, burning through pages until the climax and conclusion explode on the final pages bringing resolution to characters and readers with a blockbuster ending . . . and the perfect setup for book 3!  Bring it on!  An absolutely, without-a-doubt Must Read!

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

Cross My Heart . . . xxx

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

IWSG: What's in your office?

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a website media business with affiliates to enhance our service to visitors. We are a home for writers in all stages; from unpublished to bestsellers. Our goal is to offer assistance and guidance. We want to help writers overcome their insecurities, and by offering encouragement we are creating a community of support. Visit IWSG to learn more about this great writing community!  

IWSG posts the first Wednesday of every month. It's a great writer's resource that I'm sure you'll find well worth your time. Be sure to stop by and visit with other IWSG Members.  

Join me in thanking this month's awesome co-hosts:  J.H. Moncrieff,  Tonja Drecker,  Patsy Collins, and Chrys Fey!

IWSG Question of the Month:  What are five objects we'd find in your writing space?

The first objects that come to mind are all the obvious ones - like pens, paper, computer, printer, etc., - aka writing supplies.  However, without a doubt, first and foremost for me are BOOKS!  You'll find all kinds of books in my office.  Books on writing, publishing, editing, marketing, motivation - you name it, I've probably got it!  And then there are books and keepsakes from some of my favorite series, authors, and friends - things I treasure and showcase proudly and pull off the shelf to read or skim through over and over again.  Books with memories and meaning and encouragement all bound within well-worn covers.  So yeah, shelves and shelves of books.  
What else?  Well, since I almost always have a glass of sweet iced tea (Southern girl here!) or a cup of coffee in hand when I'm writing (choice depending on my mood, time of day, and the season), you'll always find a beverage of some sort on my desk.  And there's my comfy desk chair that I mention because I freakin' love it.  After spending way too many years in a hard, back-killer chair, I finally treated myself to a big, super-comfy, ergonomically efficient, simply To-Die-For desk chair - I could sleep in this baby!

So, books, beverage, chair, writing essentials and . . . Oh!  A dog bed for my grand-dog to use when she stays over - although she seems to prefer curling up under my desk with her head resting against my feet.  I often have her for a week or two at a time while my son is traveling for work.  Jason rescued this little sweetheart when she was an abused and severely malnourished puppy (5 yrs. ago).  He fostered and then adopted her after falling under her sweet spell.  BG's a perfect writing (as well as walking) companion.  We all adore her!

There's lots of other "stuff", of course.  In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, it's definitely time to do another office clean-out.  But not today.  No, definitely not today.  That's a job for a cold, windy, wet winter day.  A chore for tomorrow.  HaHa  

So tell me, my writing friends, What's in your office/writing space?

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Technical Issues!

I'm currently unable to respond to comments on this blog.  I apologize to all who have commented on recent posts.  In some cases, I have replied but the comments and replies don't show up on the main page.  Thank you for your patience as I try to find an answer to this annoying problem.

Thank you,
Cross My Heart Writings & Reviews

IWSG: The Sound of . . . Writers!

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a website media business with affiliates to enhance our service to visitors. We are a home for writers in all stages; from unpublished to bestsellers. Our goal is to offer assistance and guidance. We want to help writers overcome their insecurities, and by offering encouragement we are creating a community of support. Visit IWSG to learn more about this great writing community!  

IWSG posts the first Wednesday of every month. It's a great writer's resource that I'm sure you'll find well worth your time. Be sure to stop by and visit with other IWSG Members.  

Join me in thanking November's awesome co-hosts:  Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor,  Ann V. Friend,  JQ Rose, and Elizabeth Seckman 

The Sound of  . . . Writing!
The holidays are upon us along with all the hustle and bustle and chatter and clatter!  What a glorious season . . . unless you're trying to write.  Which leads me to thinking about writing environments and what works or doesn't.  I know many of you thrive on writing in places that are anything but quiet - coffee shops, a corner of your dining room table with family around, etc. - all those places where there are always, at the very least, sounds of life.  I envy you the ability to tune it all out and get lost in your writing world!  Truly I do.  As for me, I need complete silence in order to concentrate on writing as I find any "noise" highly distracting.  I've often wondered what is wrong with me.  Why can't I be the oh-so-chic author sitting in Barnes & Noble or Starbuck's or wherever, typing away - churning out the pages while shoppers cruise the bookstore or chat over coffee all around me?  I want to be that person, but background sounds invade my head and hijack my thoughts, leaving me frantically searching for the illusive words lost somewhere out there in never, never land.  Even when shut in my office, background noise that bleeds through - like television or family conversations - completely pulls me out of my writing bubble.  I've come to the conclusion that I have a one-track mind and am one of the people from Simon & Garfunkel's Sound of Silence!

However, while I can't actually write my story with any background noise, I can and often do plan and write up character profiles to background music.   Music not only puts me in the mood to write, it also helps me set the tone while roughly outlining plot lines.  Certain songs inspire me, giving insight into characters and showing me who they are and what motivates them.  I find it interesting that I can plan to background music and yet am totally flustered with any kind of background noise when writing.  Go figure!

So tell me - in what type atmosphere do you do your best, most productive writing?  To the Sounds of Life or the Sounds of Silence?  

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Rend Review

Title:  Rend
Series:  Riven #2
Author:  Roan Parrish
Genre:  M/M Romance
Publisher:  Loveswept
Release Date:  Nov. 27, 2018
Purchase Link:  Amazon

Rating: 4 Emotionally Laden Hearts
Cover Rating:  5 Sensuous Hearts

*Many thanks to the author & publisher for a copy of this arc.

After a whirlwind romance, a man with a painful past learns to trust the musician who makes him believe in happy endings.

Matt Argento knows what it feels like to be alone. After a childhood of abandonment, he never imagined someone might love him—much less someone like Rhys Nyland, who has the voice of an angel, the looks of a god, and the worship of his fans.

Matt and Rhys come from different worlds, but when they meet, their chemistry is incendiary. Their romance is unexpected, intense, and forever—at least, that’s what their vows promise. Suddenly, Matt finds himself living a life he never thought possible: safe and secure in the arms of a man who feels like home. But when Rhys leaves to go on tour for his new album, Matt finds himself haunted by the ghosts of his past.

When Rhys returns, he finds Matt twisted by doubt. But Rhys loves Matt fiercely, and he’ll go to hell and back to triumph over Matt’s fears. After secrets are revealed and desires are confessed, Rhys and Matt must learn to trust each other if they’re going to make it. That means they have to fall in love all over again—and this time, it really will be forever.

Reading a Roan Parrish book is always an emotional, gut-wrenching experience . . . one where you know going in you'll need tissues and enough alone time to finish the book in one sitting - and then recovery time before facing real life again.  Once you begin, there's no turning back.  Parrish runs her characters and readers threw the high angst wringer every single time.  Love it or hate it - there's no denying this author's gift for writing character relationships that are pushed to the limit . . . and then shoved over the edge.  No one does it better.

Two hearts, souls, and worlds collide in Rend.  Will anyone survive the fallout?  Matt Argento is a product of the foster system - a man haunted by his past, heavily laden with insecurities elevated by an unhealthy dose of trust and abandonment issues.  Rend is told from Matt's pov, putting readers at high risk of emotional overload.  I was giddy with joy when Matt was happy and lost in dark despair when he was low.  After a whirlwind romance (all in the Prologue), musician Rhys Nyland offers Matt forever when he asks for his hand in marriage.  Rhys is everything good - a rainbow on a stormy day, a safe harbor for a sinking ship (or man), a gorgeous man from a loving home and family.  Matt can't believe Rhys chose him to spend the rest of his life with . . . and therein lies part of the problem.  The issues escalate when Rhys leaves on a two month tour, and the ghosts of Matt's past move in - invading his nightmares and infiltrating the harsh light of day until Matt's no longer sure what's real and what's not and is in grave danger of crashing and burning.  His angst, pain, and depression are so realistically portrayed that I found it hard to breath at times.  Can Matt slay the ghosts of his past and build a true partnership with Rhys?  Or did Rhys make the biggest mistake of his life leaving Matt alone with his demons? 

arkness settles over this couple as they struggle to hold onto an illusive happy-ever-after based on dreams and ideals.  The overall plot line is not overly complicated, but the story is masterfully woven and beautifully delivered through complex, emotionally charged, well-developed characters.  As heartbreaking as this story is at times, the mood and heart are set aflame by sinfully sexy, passionate love scenes.  Fans will love the appearance of Theo and Caleb as they interact in strong, supportive roles.  The only reason this is a 4 instead of 5 star read for me is that I reached a saturation point and started feeling a little inundated with all the repetitive heavy scenes of angst as well as with the explosive, off-the-charts, heat-generating, fan-yourself sex scenes that I love.  Gasp!  I know, right?  What can I say?  They're fantastic, but sometimes less is more . . . if you know what I mean.  Having said that, readers will gobble this up and beg for more!  I know I am so stoked for the next one!  A Sinful, Sensuous Must Read!

My Rating:   4 Emotionally Laden Hearts

Cross My Heart . . . xxx


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Definition of Flawed Review

Title:  Definition of Flawed
Series:  Definition Prequel
Author:  Lia Peele
Genre:  Contemporary Erotica Romance
Release Date:  Oct. 29, 2017
Publisher:  Lia Peele
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  4 Steamy Hearts
Cover Rating: 5 Too-Hot-To-Handle Hearts

*Many thanks to the author for a copy of this book

Twenty-one-year-old Scarlett Trent always follows the rules, but when she meets a handsome maverick, the rules change.

Paul Jackson is rough around the edges, the epitome of sexy, and strong. He’s everything she wants and more, but her family is not so keen on their relationship. When he invites her to move in, apprehension gives way to excitement, but that’s short-lived when each new day reveals surprising information about the man she loves.

As his problems persist, Scarlett’s suspicions are raised, but they’re not the only thing preoccupying her. Paul’s son and his lingering feelings about the mother he’s never known have piqued her interest.

With so many new experiences and emotions to contend with, Scarlett’s relationship becomes strained. Every new revelation tears them further apart at the same time her friendship with his son grows closer.

Will Paul’s problems prove to be too much for her to bear or will her tender-hearted nature encourage her to stay by his side? 

Definition of Flawed is a prequel to the highly addictive, scorching hot Definition Series - which I binge read in the three days following my completion of Flawed.  I told myself I do not have time to binge on these books - absolutely not!  Don't even think about it!  I then proceeded to ignore my own warning and didn't stop reading until I finished the last book released-to-date and am now not-so-patiently waiting for the final series book, Definition of Absolution (to be released in Dec. 2018).  I'll say I was taken by surprise by this sizzling hot, erotic series and new-to-me author, but am so happy to have discovered both.  What an unique, refreshing voice in the high angst contemporary erotica romance genre!  Adding to Peele's charm and appeal is her distinctive usage of the British language and slang reflected in her work which I enjoyed.  

My dilemma now is to review Definition of Flawed in a coherent manner without revealing spoilers about it or the following books.  That's a tough one.  Reading the synopsis will give you an outline of the story, but not the heart of what you'll take away from it.  It's told from the heroine's pov which makes readers aware of the conflict and confusion playing out in twenty-one year old Scarlett's head as she falls for an older man and takes a leap of faith by moving in with him (and his son, Dev) only to discover he's harboring some dark, potentially game-changing secrets that leave their relationship on shaky ground.  Their connection in the bedroom is undeniable, but is smoking hot sex enough to build a relationship on?

My interest in Flawed was flamed by knowing that it's a prequel to Definition of Stripped and a setup for a future relationship that forms in this novella.  It provides history that will prove to be much needed knowledge - not if but when you move into subsequent books.  As you read this novella, I advise you to look beyond the obvious and read with an open mind.  Set in England, it features characters involved in grossly dysfunctional relationships and an unusual plotline unlike anything I've run across before when considered as a launching pad for a future relationship.  

Raw, gritty, steamy, and oh-so-gutsy, Definition of Flawed is well written and paced to keep readers burning through the pages.  Secrets, lies, deception - it's all there and as they surface, one couple's deeply flawed sexual relationship begins to unravel.  Unfortunately, the full extent of the devastating fallout won't be fully felt until six years later.  Deliciously naughty, sinfully sexy and erotic, Definition of Flawed sets up the background for two characters in one of the most addictive series/sagas I've read in some time.  I will warn that some of the series books end with a cliffhanger of which I'm not a fan - and yet, I'm still hopelessly hooked!  A Must Read!

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

Cross My Heart . . . xxx

Here are the other four highly addictive and recommended books in the Definition Series: