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,
Sandra
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 We are a home for writers in all stages; from unpublished to bestsellers.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

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

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


Synopsis:
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.


Review:
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? 

D
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


Sandra


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

Synopsis:
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? 

Review:
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
Sandra

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







Saturday, October 20, 2018

Warped Ambition Review


Title:  Warped Ambition
Series:  Jo Riskin Mysteries #1
Author:  Debbie S. Tenbrink
Genre:  Mystery/Suspense
Release Date:  Dec. 26, 2016
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating: 4 Mysterious Hearts

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




Synopsis:
When the battered body of a teenage girl is found in a dumpster, Lieutenant Jo Riskin is called to take the case. Investigating with her partner, Detective Lynae Parker, Jo uncovers secrets, loyalties, and ambitions that give motives to a surprising number of suspects , including a boyfriend from the wrong side of the tracks.

While immersed in her current case, Jo is battling her own personal demons. After two years, she is still grieving over the loss of her husband, who was killed in the line of duty. New information that could help solve his murder, and let her move on with her life, is within her grasp.

Barricading her heart, Jo is determined to solve both cases and bring the killers to justice.

Review:
Warped Ambition is the debut novel of author Debbie Tenbrink, and the first book in the Jo Riskin Mystery Series.  It excites me to be introduced to a new-to-me mystery/suspense author and a series with so much promise and potential! This intense, fast-paced story is well-written, and I soon found myself unable to put it down.

Lt. Jo Riskin and her partner Detective Lynae Parker are working the case of a brutally murdered pregnant fifteen year old girl whose body was tossed in a dumpster - like yesterday's trash.  The twisted plotline results in several motives and suspects surfacing and for some time, I wasn't sure who did it.  While I did eventually figure out what was going on, it didn't lessen my enjoyment of the story as the strong characterizations and attention to detail kept me turning the pages to the end.  Adding to the intrigue and conflict in Warped Ambition is the fact that readers learn Jo is also privately working the case of her own husband's unsolved murder in a drug raid gone bad two years previously.  She's obsessed with finding his killer, and it's through her investigation that we see the strong yet vulnerable woman who is unable to let go of the past and move forward.  Some of the most poignant, heart-touching scenes in this book are Jo's visits to her husband's grave and the ensuing "conversations" she has with him.  There's a hint of a possible love-interest to come for Jo, and I look forward to seeing if it blossoms and if anyone can bring the walls around her heart tumbling down.

Warped Ambition is an intense, intriguing debut novel that I enjoyed reading in a couple of sittings.  Tenbrink's vivid, descriptive writing style sets the stage and tone early, carrying readers on an emotional and tense journey as the search for a killer culminates with a surprising twist.  I'm looking forward to more from this author and series!  A Must Read!

My Rating:  4 Mysterious Hearts . . . And that's the truth!
Cross My Heart . . . xxx
Sandra




The Seeker Review



Title:  The Seeker
Series:  The Irin Chronicles #7
Author:  Elizabeth Hunter
Genre:  Romantic Fantasy
Publisher:  Elizabeth Hunter
Release Date:  Oct. 16, 2018
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  4 Magical Hearts

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



Synopsis:
He’s a scribe looking for answers. If only a cagey—and frustratingly attractive—singer will let him help. 

Summoned to the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Rhys of Glast, Irin archivist and scribe of Istanbul, must convince a legendary Irina singer to trust him. His success could shift the balance of power all over the Irin world and give singers an important key to their past. 

Meera didn’t call for Rhys’s help and she doesn’t need it. The scribe’s mission is to bring more martial magic into the Irin world while Meera has been looking for a path toward peace. She’s convinced that some other motive is at work, and his stubborn arrogance doesn’t pass for charm in her hallowed opinion. 

Discovering ancient Irina magic should be something both scholars can agree on, but can these two rivals find any common ground? Neither Rhys nor Meera can ignore the simmering heat between them, but will attraction overcome the caution that has shaped both their lives? 

Review:
Another magical, mythical, mesmerizing story in the Irin Chronicles world!  And once again, I find myself hopelessly in love with yet another scribe (sorry, Malachi!).  The Seeker opens with a decidedly more "modern" feel to it than previous books - maybe because it's set in America.  I always enjoy the surreal aura surrounding these stories that's brought about in part by mythical type settings, I think.  But, as always, I was soon encompassed by it all - the sights, sounds, smells, feels, touches.  Hunter has such an amazing gift of pulling readers into a scene no matter the location.  And as soon as the story entered the dark, mysterious swamps/bayou of New Orleans, I was hopelessly lost in the sultry, atmospheric world surrounding the characters . . . and me.

Rhys of Glast, scribe of Istanbul, an archivist, scholar, and seeker of truth . . . and a warrior who will do whatever it takes to secure the safety of singers by finding the key to their past.  Meera, a legendary singer, keeper of memories, advocate for peace . . . currently on an interlude from a duty and future sealed by fate at her birth.  All she's ever wanted is a choice in what happens in her life, and for a short period of time, she refuses to allow anyone to intrude on her plans - including one stubborn, arrogant, infuriating, know-it-all scribe . . . and yeah, okay, maybe he is gorgeous.  Not that she noticed!  The chemistry and interaction between these two characters is off-the-charts in every way that counts . . . they sizzle, fume, taunt, dance, and tease one another into a frenzy of desire that refuses to be denied.  Can two strong, arrogant (yes, you are too, Meera!), bull-headed, written-in-the-stars characters find a common ground and figure out they're stronger together than apart -  before it's too late?

As always, Hunter is a master at weaving the customs, heritage, and history of the past with the promise of a brighter, more peaceful future, not only for Rhys and Meera but for everyone including scribes, singers, and grigori.  A star-studded support cast will delight readers with Vasu leading the charge with his outrageous behavior and many unique forms.  The twisted plot line is intriguing, and while I found it a wee bit slow "getting there", I thoroughly enjoyed the journey!  The Seeker is everything readers love about the Irin world.  Another special Must Read in the series!  

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

Cross My Heart . . . xxx
Sandra


Friday, October 12, 2018

Haunted Halloween Spooktacular Tour featuring Prince of Dreams


Hey Y'all!  Welcome to my stop on the Haunted Halloween Spooktacular Book Tour featuring Nancy Gideon's fabulous new release Prince of Dreams - the emotionally charged finale to the House of Terriot series.  Jaw-dropping action and explosive revelations culminate in this game changing MUST READ!  Guaranteed to rock your world! (Just ask Cale & his brothers!)  Check below for the book trailer, a delicious excerpt, and my review.  Before you leave, be sure to enter our giveaway for a chance to win some fang*tastic prizes!  Happy Haunting Everyone! 

Prince of Dreams
House of Terriot
Book Four
Nancy Gideon

Release Date: October 2, 2018
Genre:  Paranormal
Word Count: 98,500
ASIN B07H4XMSC9

Cover Artist: Patricia Lazarus



Synopsis:
Written in the cards . . . Who was this guy, her rescuer, her hero, her knight in shining 2-carats?

Kip . . . Prince in the shapeshifter House of Terriot

He'd said he wasn't a mobster. . . She should have asked if he was a monster.
Who was this too good to be true, always ready in a crisis guy working a menial job for her father? Ophelia knew things. Something was not quite normal about the Kip Terriot hiding behind another name in lace-up dress shoes and a preppy wardrobe – something wild and exciting as all hell. A dangerous something calling to that restless difference in her own soul.

Ophelia . . . daughter of his enemy, girl of his dreams

So sassy, so sweet so perfect . . . and what he had to do would destroy her.
Kip was in New Orleans to save his clan and his kind, not to play white knight for Ophelia Brady with her quirky habits, curvy body and tormented past. His deception would rip the heart from her world, not help heal it. Was his family’s nemesis using his own daughter to make Kip the played instead of the player, pulling him between love and duty to make an impossible choice?

“Emotionally captivating! A brilliant conclusion to a unique series!” – Book Bling




Read all about it in my review:  Prince of Dreams



Excerpt from Prince of Dreams . . .
An unnatural being from a family of shapeshifters.
            Even now Ophelia didn’t know whether to laugh or weep at the absurdity of it. Things like that didn’t exist. Except she knew they did, just outside the peripheral, where worlds of fact and fiction met and mingled and blurred. She’d felt their presence in the shadows of reality all her life. She met them in her dreams and visions.
            Kip Terriot gave them gorgeous face and form, but underneath, he was that creature with red eyes and sharp teeth. Her big, bad wolf, who’d protected her from a robber and defended her from abuse, who’d rescued her sister from the attack she still refused to acknowledge. Who loved his family and would do anything for them?
            Who she loved too much to let go but couldn’t give what he needed because she wasn’t his kind.
            Which was the greater fear, what he was or that she’d fail him?
“What are we going to do, Phe? I don’t want to lose this.” He brought her knuckles to his lips for a kiss.
            “I don’t want to lose you. But I already have, haven’t I? You’re a million miles away right now and almost out of reach.”
            “I’m right here.” His argument brought her to him, her knees stepping over his lap to straddle him, arms circling his shoulders, face nestling against the curve of his throat where she rode his hard swallow. He held tight, trying to believe they could make this moment last, this glorious, fiery, tender moment that offered so much and promised so little.
            “You are my prince,” she whispered, breath moist and soft against his neck. “My Prince of Cups. You rode into my life bringing romance, shaking my world to its foundation that first night I met you. It was in the cards.”
            “Fate,” he murmured, smile in his voice. “No escaping it.” His fingers threaded through her hair, pulling back gently to tip up her face, offering sweetly parted lips and glistening eyes.
            He’d planned a sweet kiss but the taste of urgency and need in the sweep of her tongue ruined that noble ambition. They feasted upon one another for long, desperate minutes until she rocked back, thumb swiping the dampness from his mouth.

            “Go, be who you need to be for them. Then come back and be who I need you to be.




About the Author:

Nancy Gideon is the award-winning bestseller of over 65 romances ranging from historical, regency and series contemporary suspense to dark paranormal and horror, with a couple of produced screenplays and non-fiction writing books tossed into the mix.

A legal assistant for a brilliant criminal attorney in Central Michigan (when not at the keyboard working on her latest book in progress), she feeds a Netflix addiction along with all things fur, fin and fowl and dotes on her grandguy.

Nancy’s also written under the pseudonyms Dana Ransom, Rosalyn West and Lauren Giddings. Look for reissues coming soon under those pen names!

Where in the world is Nancy??


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