Monday, April 21, 2014

Release Day Blitz and Giveaway: INFINITE POTENTIAL by Barbara Garren

Title: Infinite Potential
Author: Barbara Garren
Release Date: April 21, 2014
Where to Buy: Amazon Barnes & Noble | Amazon UK | KOBO  | iTunes (iBooks)

From the book:

Kelsi always knows when bad things are coming, but even she never thought she’d lose her husband at only twenty-three. Since he died, she’s been living her worst nightmare. 

Her nights are filled with dreams of a Dark Haired Man, but her days are full of guilt, because the Man fills her with longing and confusion, promising to give her all she needs, all she wants, all she feared she’d never have again.

If only the dreams would stay in her head where they belong.

Kelsi starts seeing the Dark Haired Man in her waking life, shadowing her wherever she goes. And when her mysterious new neighbor, Aiden Hardt, knows about the Man in her dreams, Kelsi worries she can’t trust her own mind.

"He’s not what he seems."

But even Aiden’s cryptic words don’t frighten her as much as the way she feels around him. Kelsi must sort through her emotions and figure out what’s real before she can ever hope to have a normal life again.

Watch the trailer for this book!


About the Author

I'm a writer, a reader and a frequenter of the more charming sites in town, namely pubs.

Born and raised in Southern California, I left to explore the world courtesy of the U.S. Navy. I've lived in San Francisco, New York and Norfolk, Virginia, but prefer to call San Diego home these days, with my husband, Henry (the inspiration for all the romance).

When not working on my next novel or reading a good book, I can be found running after my grandchildren, my dog and my sanity.

I believe a well-rounded diet consists of coffee, scotch, chocolate, popcorn and Luna Bars - in that order - and have been accused of violating grammar and etiquette rules in at least seven countries. My Muse is a Valkyrie named Prue, so look out.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cover Reveal and Excerpt: TAMING DARKNESS by Kat Daemon

Today, I've got an adult paranormal romance to introduce. I love a good spin on Lucifer, and this one promises to deliver.. The reviews are already coming in and they are raving about it! Can you tame darkness??

From the book:

Since he was sentenced to earth eons ago, Lucifer has always lived by three simple rules: Humans are toys that are meant to be played with, love is a useless emotion, and the only creature worth fighting for is himself. To him, nothing matters but his own enjoyment, whether it be manipulating those around him, or indulging in the sins of the flesh with Lilith. Then he found young, sweet, and innocent, Maria, who is everything that Lucifer detests. She has devoted her life to her one true love, God. Unable to resist a challenge, Lucifer sets his sights on tempting Maria away from his enemy. Disguising himself as Lucas Starr, he creates a world that not even Maria can resist. He never planned on having the tables turned on him.Imagine Lucifer’s surprise when Maria brings him to his knees and shows him a glimpse of heaven once more.

Blinded by his arrogance and an unlikely vision, Lucifer falls again, this time forgetting that some lines should never be crossed. When his greatest opponent, Michael, shows up, all Hell breaks loose. Will Maria be able to accept Lucifer for who he truly is, or realize what Michael already knows: some destinies can never be changed?


Sound good? Add it to your Want to Read shelf on Goodreads!

And now.....

For the cover, which was created by the ever-talented S.P. McConnell.....



There are many places that I have called home over my lifetime. I have rooms in every corner of the globe. Yet, I have such a fondness for Manhattan that I made a penthouse on the Upper East Side one of my more permanent lairs. I acquired the building during the stock market crash of 1929. Amazing what people are willing to give up when they are in a state of panic. Although the entire building is mine, I prefer to spend my time at the top, watching the city, keeping a close eye on humanity.

     This particular evening, I was host to a party, an impromptu event in which many of my minions had brought with them a human counterpart to tempt and indulge. All around me, the weak were lost in laughter, swimming in the sensation of sin as they turn a blind eye on their conscience. Bodies were draped over chaise lounges with veins full of heroin, brains closed to common sense. Girls danced for men with dollars while greedy hands in the corner bet their house over a card game. In the back rooms, people fucked like dogs, cheating on their spouses, and snorting lines of cocaine off of the bodies of the camouflaged demons that would later chain them to the beds. The air was thick with smoke and fragrant with booze. It was a typical Saturday night.

     I sat cast in shadows, a king on my throne, observing the jesters that provided my entertainment. Sometimes, human behavior fascinated me. But mostly, I was watching Lilith. She was sitting on top of the bar, with no less than a dozen suitors at her feet. Leave it to Lilith to break my one guest rule. Red leather high-heeled boots ran up her legs, black hot pants revealed too much flesh, and a red halter top tied her up in one neat package. Her skin might as well have been white marble, with lips red as roses begging to be kissed. Lavish, flaming red hair spilled over her breasts, hitting her hips in thunderous waves. She was the vision of a ripe, delicious, cherry waiting to be plucked. One of my favorite features was her eyes. They were always changing color, alternating between green and yellow. What was even more fascinating was that she could spin them at will, hypnotizing any man that needed to be soothed. 

     The primitive beings before her fought hard to serve, hoping for a fraction of consideration, but her eyes were on me. They always were. Hopping off of the bar, she walked toward me, her body swaying in a seductive rhythm, her hips demanding my attention. She offered me a half empty glass of bourbon, and made herself comfortable in my lap. Stretching out like a cat, she lay against my chest and raised a lazy hand beneath my chin, tracing my chiseled jaw with her finger. Had it been a normal night, I would have enjoyed her this way, but I knew it wasn’t for me. It was all part of the act for her fans, whose hungry eyes longed for her, with tongues hanging and dicks waving. 

     I pulled her hair out of my face, rested it on her shoulder, and took a generous gulp of the bourbon. “Rough day at work, dear?” I asked while eyeing the strings of her shirt knotted at her neck. It didn’t seem to be tied very tight, and I was tempted to pull it apart. 

     “If only it were. You know I like it rough.” She purred in my lap. “May I ask what the great Lucifer has been up to? I haven’t seen you around lately.”

     I handed her the glass and revealed my secret. “I found a new toy.”

     “Oh? I’m in need of a new toy.” She took a drink from the glass and licked her lips before laying her head against my shoulder. “I keep breaking all of mine.” She gestured toward the bar, where the men were begging for her return. Her fingers unbuttoned my two top buttons. She slipped her hand inside and ran her fingers over my pecs. She was warm, like me.

     “I’m not sharing this one,” I declared.

     “You never do,” she said, pulling her hand back a tad more defiant than I would have liked. Sitting up and slamming back the bourbon, she leaped from my lap, taking a step back toward her fans. 

“Lilith...I think I might keep this one for a while. This soul may be a bit harder to acquire.”

     She turned and looked at me for a moment, contemplating my intent. “I never interfere with your work, just as long as it doesn’t interfere with me.”  

     “Go have fun. Work up an appetite, and when you get hungry, come back to me.”

     She leaned down and placed a firm hand on each armrest, looking into my eyes with her wild, animal instincts. She kissed me fiercely, and added, “I always do.”  

     “One more thing,” I said grabbing her wrist and kissing the inside of it before she fled toward her toys. “That blonde with the great hair, but bad teeth...”

     Lilith turned a lazy head and noted who I referred to. “Do you want him?” she offered.

     “I want his watch,” I said, my eyes locked on the Rolex that was in all likelihood a family heirloom.

     Lilith laughed. “Is that all?  Consider it yours.” Then she made her way back to the crowd to break a few hearts, and perhaps a few necks as well.


Kat Daemon grew up in New York where her imagination always seemed to get the best of her. When she’s not hanging with demons, she’s usually armed with a strong cup of coffee and dreaming up her next tormented character.

You can find out more about Kat and her books at

 Twitter  |  Pinterest  |  Goodreads  |  Facebook

Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Review: Three Weeks with Lady X by Eloisa James

Title: Three Weeks with Lady X
Author: Eloisa James
Release Date: March 25, 2014
Publisher: Avon (HarperCollins)
Where to Buy: Amazon Barnes & Noble | iTunes
Rating: 4 stars

From the book:

Having made a fortune, Thorn Dautry, the powerful bastard son of a duke, decides that he needs a wife. But to marry a lady, Thorn must acquire a gleaming, civilized façade, the specialty of Lady Xenobia India.

Exquisite, headstrong, and independent, India vows to make Thorn marriageable in just three weeks.

But neither Thorn nor India anticipate the forbidden passion that explodes between them.

Thorn will stop at nothing to make India his. Failure is not an option.Having made a fortune, Thorn Dautry, the powerful bastard son of a duke, decides that he needs a wife. But to marry a lady, Thorn must acquire a gleaming, civilized façade, the specialty of Lady Xenobia India.

Exquisite, headstrong, and independent, India vows to make Thorn marriageable in just three weeks.

But neither Thorn nor India anticipate the forbidden passion that explodes between them.

Thorn will stop at nothing to make India his. Failure is not an option.

But there is only one thing that will make India his . . . the one thing Thorn can't afford to lose . . . his fierce and lawless heart

My review:

Eloisa James proves once again that she is the Dowager Duchess of Regency romance. She outshines almost all other regencies with her latest, Three Weeks with Lady X.

India, who is an interior designer and decorator, really wants children, and, logically, she must marry to do so. She agrees to take on one more client before settling down and marrying. Enter Thorn.

Thorn also wants to get married, but more to check it off his list. He's clinical in his approach - good bloodlines, money, etc. He plans to dump his wife in a country home. Before he can obtain said wife, he needs to polish his tarnished reputation as his future mother-in-law has final say over her daughter's future. To attempt to win over the MIL, Thorn purchases a country house...that was used for large parties of the amorous kind. His aunt hires India to remove any and all stain (both physical and mental!) of such activities so that the house can be thought of as respectable.

India is more than up for the challenge, and these two incredibly strong characters clash. The plot, which is relatively simplistic in nature, is a perfect backdrop for these two strong characters to interact. They are written with complexity, dimension, and depth. My favorite pieces of the novel were their letters to each other, which are clouded with just enough flirt, business, and familiar tones that you could see the friendship and respect develop and grow.

Four stars.

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa's very first book that she "found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar"; later People Magazine raved that "romance writing does not get much better than this." Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly and Library Journal and regularly appear on the best-seller lists. After being a finalist for a RITA—the top award in the genre of romance fiction awarded by the Romance Writers of America—over ten times, she won in 2013.

After graduating from Harvard University, Eloisa got an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale and eventually became a Shakespeare professor, publishing an academic book with Oxford University Press. Her "double life" is a source of fascination to the media and her readers. In her professorial guise, she's written a New York Times op-ed defending romance, as well as articles published everywhere from women's magazines such as More to writers' journals such as the Romance Writers' Report.

In 2014, Eloisa was nominated for a career achievement award by Romantic Times Book Review.

Contact Eloisa

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Pinterest

Friday, April 4, 2014

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: ONE LUCKY NIGHT by Aria Kane, Grace Teague, Ana Blaze, Constance Phillips, and Melinda Dozie

Today, I'm revealing the cover for an anthology by five wonderful writers! ONE LUCKY NIGHT releases to all major retailers on May 7 - add it to your Goodreads today!

From the book:
One night can change everything…

The crew at Boston’s Brazen Head Pub hasn’t been very lucky in love. Can a mysterious visitor inspire them to look past old hurts and misconceptions and give romance a chance? One Lucky Night is a collection of five sexy interwoven novelettes by Aria Kane, Grace Teague, Ana Blaze, Constance Phillips, and Melinda Dozier.

Lucky Break by Aria Kane
Four years ago, chef Derek Chase walked out of Andrea Rivera’s life after a tragedy neither of them were prepared to deal with. When she’s called to the Brazen Head to repair a dishwasher, old sparks ignite buried feelings.

Lucky Star by Grace Teague
When her life is threatened by a mugger, Charlotte Price realizes she's in love with her best friend, Tommy Leung. The Brazen Head seems like the perfect neutral place to confess her feelings, but nothing goes according to plan.

A New Tune by Ana Blaze
When it comes to dating, Holly Hall has one unbreakable rule: no musicians. Not even gorgeous ones. Especially not gorgeous ones. Dating them only leads to heartbreak. So why did she let singer-songwriter Cian O’Neill kiss her? And why is she thinking about doing it again?

Lexi’s Chance by Constance Phillips
As a bartender, Sean Whalen meets all kinds of women every night, but none turn his head the way that Lexi has. She’s been playing cat and mouse with him for weeks. Tonight, Sean’s determined to get Lexi to quit teasing and take a real chance on him.

Drink or Dare by Melinda Dozier
A bachelorette party Drink or Dare game pairs paramedic students, Rachel Robertson and Killian Whelan, in a flirting match. Soon, the dares threaten to turn their academic rivalry into something much more.


The authors are giving away four print copies of One Lucky Night before you can buy it!
Enter on Goodreads here!

About the Authors

Aria Kane is a recovering mechanical engineer and romance writer. As a military brat, she grew up all over the country, but now lives in sunny Florida with a 60 lb mutt who thinks he's a chihuahua.


Grace Teague lives in Pittsburgh with her spouse, children and a cat named Mr. Sushi.

Ana Blaze lives near Washington DC with her charming husband and three cats who firmly believe they are royalty. Ana is a member of Romance Writers of America.


Constance Phillips lives in Ohio with her husband, two ready-to-leave-the-nest children, and four canine kids. Her perfect fantasy vacation would involve hunting Dracula across Europe with her daughter, who also digs that kind of stuff.


Melinda Dozier teaches English to middle schoolers by day and writes at night. She lives in Guatemala, Central America with her college sweetheart and three sons.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Guest Post: NY Times and USA Today Bestseller Jennifer Ryan

Today, NY Times and USA Today bestseller Jennifer Ryan is talking to me about starting a new series. She has a new novel, The Return of Brody McBride, that just released this month. It's on sale for $2.99 and you should definitely give it a read (especially if you like hot cowboys and great plots!) Welcome, Jennifer, and thanks for being here! Take it away...

Starting a New Series...What Comes First? 

After the success of The Hunted Series, I took a quick breath, stared at my blank page and asked myself, what comes next? Though many fans asked for additional books in The Hunted Series, after four books, I needed a break. I love those characters, but I needed something fresh and new to get my creative juices flowing again. 

So, what comes first? The plot. What is the story going to be about? If you're writing a series, that's three books, three different plots. How will you tie it all together? In my case, I like to intertwine family and friends for the series. Fans of The Hunted Series loved seeing the characters show up in each book, even though certain characters took center stage. The same is true for The McBride series.

In The Return of Brody McBride, Brody comes home after leaving in disgrace eight years ago. Owen moved back to town and opened his own law practice to help his brother's ex-girlfriend, Rain, raise Brody's two daughters. When Brody runs into trouble with Roxy, the woman who sold Rain his daughter and helped ruin his life, Dylan steps in to make the arrest.

In Falling for Owen, one of Owen's clients is out for revenge, but a case of mistaken identity puts a target on his beautiful neighbor's back. He'll need Brody to help protect Claire, and Dylan to hunt down the man trying to hurt her to get to him.

Brody and Owen can't wait to celebrate Jessie's return with Dylan, but Dylan has to face his past and his lying mother in Dylan's Redemption. Family is everything, but sometimes the people closest to you hurt you the most. His mother lied to him about Jessie's murdered and his child, but that won't stop him from getting the woman he loves back, because sometimes all you need is a second chance at first love to have the family you really want.     

My least favorite part of writing a new book - naming all the characters. It's like naming a child. You want the perfect name. It's going to live forever and it has to be right. The names need to be strong and fit your character's personality. It sometimes takes me longer to name everyone than to write the opening scene. 

My favorite part about writing a series - when all the books are done and that thread of family and friends ties everything together. I try to make the reader a part of their lives and when that happens and people connect with the characters, well, it's the best feeling. 


The black sheep of Fallbrook is back … and he's in for the surprise of his life. 

Former bad boy, now-decorated Army Ranger Brody McBride is home and on a mission: Find the woman he never should have left behind and right the wrong he did eight years ago. 

When the man she loved broke her heart and skipped town, Rain Evans picked up the pieces. But along with heartbreak, Brody left her something infinitely better than she could have imagined: two beautiful daughters. One she gave birth to, and the other she rescued from the woman who helped destroy her relationship with Brody. 

Brody is shocked to discover he's a father, and he's more determined than ever to win back Rain and protect his girls. Can they rekindle the love they once shared and become the family they were always meant to be? Or will a danger from their past return and ruin everything? 

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Hunted Series, Jennifer writes romantic suspense and contemporary small-town romances. 

Jennifer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children. When she isn’t writing a book, she’s reading one. Her obsession with both is often  revealed in the state of her home and how late dinner is to the table. When she finally leaves those fictional worlds, you’ll find her in the garden, playing in the dirt and daydreaming about people who live only in her head, until she puts them on paper.

Find Jennifer at:
Twitter: @JenRyan_author


You can purchase THE RETURN OF BRODY MCBRIDE at Barnes and NobleAmazon, and iTunes. Thanks for joining us today, Jennifer!


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March 20th- My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews- Review/Guest Post
March 21st- A Tasty Read Book Reviews- Guest Post/Review
March 24th- Reviews by Molly- Review
                 Romance Bookworm- Review
March 25th- Storm Goddess Book Reviews- Review
March 26th- Romancing the Readers- Review/Guest Post
March 27th- Brooke Blogs- Review
March 28th- Cocktails and Books- Review/Interview

Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review: READY TO FALL by Daisy Prescott

Title: Ready to Fall
Author: Daisy Prescott
Release Date: December 14, 2013
Where to Buy: Amazon Barnes & Noble | iTunes
Rating: 5 stars

From the book:

When you fall, you fall hard... 

Tall, dark, and handsome is an understatement when it comes to John Day. With rugged good looks, his ever present plaid shirt, and a dog named Babe, John is a modern alpha male lumberjack in more ways than one. 

Lurking beneath the flannel and beard could be the heart of a romantic. Or is John a wolf in flannel clothing? 

After his favorite neighbor rents out her cabin for the winter, John finds himself playing fireman and tour guide to Diane Watson, a beautiful brunette with her own messy past and recent battle scars. 

Will he be ready to fall in love? Or will he fall back into his old, flirty ways? 

Hold onto your heart... and get ready to fall with John Day as he tells his story in this contemporary adult romance/romantic comedy told in male POV.

This is a spin-off from Geoducks Are for Lovers. It isn't necessary to read that novel first.

My review:

Daisy Prescott's debut novel, Geoducks are for Lovers, was so good that there was an element of skepticism from me about this book. Could she really do that again? Write a book that was so heartfelt, so real, that I couldn't put it down?

Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes.

Prescott once again takes us outside the boundaries of the romance genre - she tells this story from John's point of view, which I found fascinating. Watching his transformation made me love him so much; he's a regular guy with regular thoughts. Perhaps that's what's so refreshing about this book. The characters are people who have real-life flaws. They're not thrown into extraordinary experiences. It's just life - told beautifully, hopefully, and, most of all, wonderfully.

Ready to Fall is real, grown-up sexy. John Day is a new kind of romance hero - he's compelling, down-to-earth, rugged and kind. He makes mistakes, figures out how to fix them, and learns from them. His gradual fall into love isn't something that happens across a room or in a heartbeat. It happens as it does to most people lucky enough to find someone special...

I strongly suggest you add Daisy Prescott to your list of trusted authors. Ready to Fall was just as well-written as Geoducks are for Lovers, and I have confidence that her next novel will not disappoint. She is now in my very select group of automatic pre-order authors.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. I read it straight through in a day, and I think it's a good use of your book money. It's on sale for less than $5 at all retailers, so go get yours. I don't think you'll regret it!

About the Author

Daisy Prescott

Before writing funny contemporary romances about adults, I dreamed of being an author while doing a lot of other things. Antiques dealer, baker, blue ribbon pie-maker, fangirl, freelance writer, gardener, pet mom and wife are a few of the titles I’ve acquired along the way.
Born and raised in San Diego, my husband and I currently live in a real life Stars Hollow in the Boston suburbs with our dog, Hubbell, and an imaginary house goat who remains nameless.
Ready to Fall, my second novel, features John Day, the hot, sexy neighbor in my debut novel Geoducks Are for Lovers. Both can be read as stand-alones. I’m busy writing my next novel, which will not feature any bivalves.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Book Review: MOONLIGHT ON MY MIND by Jennifer McQuiston

Title: Moonlight on My Mind
Author: Jennifer McQuiston
Publisher: Avon (HarperCollins)
Release Date: March 25, 2014
Where to Buy: Amazon Barnes & Noble | iTunes
Rating: 4 stars

From the book:

To ruin a man's life once takes a regrettable mistake. To do so twice takes a woman like Julianne Baxter.

Eleven months ago, Julianne's statement to the authorities wrongly implicated Patrick, the new Earl of Haversham, in his older brother's death. The chit is as much trouble as her red hair suggests, and just as captivating. Now she has impetuously tracked him to the wilds of Scotland, insisting that he return home to face a murder charge and save his family from ruin. A clandestine wedding may be the only way to save her reputation—and his neck from the hangman's noose.

Julianne has no objection to the match. More and more she's convinced of Patrick's innocence, though when it comes to igniting her passions, the man is all too guilty. And if they can only clear his name, a marriage made in haste could bring about the most extraordinary pleasure . . .

My review:

This refreshing historical romance is a fantastic blend of traditional historical romance with unexpected plot twists and characters. 

Despite his nobility, Patrick, the hero, is a veterinarian (swoon). He was the spare heir, and when his brother dies in an apparent murder (of which Patrick is suspected of), he becomes the heir apparent. A good deal of politics of the time is inserted into this book, but rather than boring the reader with details, McQuiston cleverly drops the pertinent information in, drip-feeding us what we need to know (and leaving out a good deal that we don't, of which I was very appreciative!). 

Julianne is a different kind of heroine. When we're in her point of view, she's a very typical English miss. She's been prepped to take on a household, marry a title, she's clever...all the things you'd expect in a plucky Regency heroine....but then we see her from Patrick's point of view: She's spoiled, big-mouthed, fickle, unreliable, and a general pain to deal with. I loved this!! It gave me a fresh perspective on the genre which I needed, as I was getting a bit tired of the stories set in this time period. I'm still not sure how McQuiston did this so flawlessly; she really made me love/hate understand/scratch my head at Julianne. Kudos - that's never happened to me in an historical. (*happy dance*)

Patrick was fantastic from the start. His explanations of the day his brother died are so realistic and wonderfully written that I felt for him. I wished his brother was still alive, that his family wasn't so broken, that he was able to practice closer to his family - I just wanted his life to be perfect! 

I also had NO idea who the killer in this novel was. It seemed pretty obvious, then I was given pause. Then I thought the next obvious, and again...given pause. When the killer was finally revealed, I had to scrape my jaw off my Kindle so I could finish reading. I didn't see it coming, but when I look back, there's a couple of extremely subtle hints McQuiston placed in there that I didn't miss, per say, but I certainly overlooked them in favor of the obvious choice. Again - well written!

My only complaint was the acceptance Patrick's mother had of his and Julianne's marriage, and her immediate takeover of the Countess role. I understand it was part and parcel of a marriage, but with their history, I really expected a little more hostility or perhaps motherly concern. I didn't find her to be a plausible character. For someone in her position, the Dowager Countess (Patrick's mother) had no problem handing over the reigns of the entire household to a nineteen-year-old girl who, for all intents and purposes, accused her now-husband of murdering his brother. It just didn't ring true.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. I read it straight through in a day, and I think it's a good use of your book money. It's on sale for less than $5 at all retailers, so go get yours. I don't think you'll regret it!

About the Author

Jennifer McQuiston is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Victoria-era historical romance, including  What Happens in Scotland and Summer is for Lovers. The third book in the series, Moonlight on My Mind, will be released March 25, 2014.

A veterinarian and infectious disease researcher by training, Jennifer has always preferred reading romance to scientific textbooks. She grew up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, but now lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, two daughters (who got a pony out of mom’s book deal!), and a house full of  pets.

Jennifer was a 2011 and a 2012 Golden Heart® finalist with two previous novels. Jennifer is signed with literary agent Kevan Lyon, and works with Tessa Woodward and the amazing team at Avon.

(Disclaimer: I was provided a digital Advanced Reader Copy (e-ARC) from the publisher for an honest and unbiased review.)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Release Day Launch: Laura Kaye's HARD AS YOU CAN (Hard Ink Novel #2)

It's here, it's here, it's finally here! (No, seriously. You have no idea how long I've waited to post this review. Months, people, months.)

Laura Kaye's newest Hard Ink novel, HARD AS YOU CAN, hits bookstores TODAY and if you like heart-pumping suspense, steamy romance, and an original plot that keeps you turning pages long into the night, then you absolutely need to get this book!!

(Here are convenient links to AmazonBarnes & Noble, Kobo and iTunes. Go ahead. Click them. I'll wait.)

This post has it all - my review, an excerpt, a giveaway, even a Facebook party! So have at it - this is a top pick for me for 2013 (yep. I read it last year, and twice since) and with the (well-deserved) rave reviews it's getting all over the romance blog circuit, it truly is a must-have for your bookshelf (digital or print!).

Title: Hard As You Can
Author: Laura Kaye
Publisher: Avon (HarperCollins)
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Where to Buy: Amazon Barnes & Noble | iTunes
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

From the book:

Five dishonored soldiers.
Former Special Forces.
One last mission.
These are the men of Hard Ink.

Ever since hard-bodied, drop-dead-charming Shane McCallan strolled into the dance club where Crystal Dean works, he's shown a knack for getting beneath her defenses. For her little sister's sake, Crystal can't get too close. Until her job and Shane's mission intersect, and he reveals talents that go deeper than she could have guessed.

Shane would never turn his back on a friend in need, especially a former Special Forces teammate running a dangerous, off-the-books operation. Nor can he walk away from Crystal. The gorgeous waitress is hiding secrets she doesn't want him to uncover. Too bad. He's exactly the man she needs to protect her sister, her life, and her heart. All he has to do is convince her that when something feels this good, you hold on as hard as you can—and never let go.

My review:


In a heart-pounding follow-up to HARD AS IT GETS, Kaye lets us into Shane McCallan's super-sexy, incredibly intelligent head. He's a man with a dark past, one that makes me shiver in horror - when he was just 13, he was in charge of his 8 year old sister. She was kidnapped...and never recovered.

Whoa. Every parent's worst fear, tied up inside the mind of a little boy who blamed himself (still blames himself). My heart stuttered when I read this.

During Charlie Merritt's rescue at a local strip club, Shane ran into a waitress (Crystal Dean) who begged him to knock her down the stairs, so her mob boss boyfriend wouldn't suspect she knew anything about anything. Ever since the encounter, Shane can't get her out of his mind, and he sets off to find out more about her and why she's working where she is, and who she's dating.

The trust between Shane and Crystal builds slowly throughout the novel, and it is never rushed. Crystal doesn't want anything to do with what goes on at the club, but she's indebted to Bruno; he got her and her younger sister, Jenna, out of a tough spot. He pays for Jenna's medical bills, school bills, and their apartment - all in exchange for herself. She not only has to hand over most of her paycheck every shift, but she has the unenviable task of sleeping with this guy. (*shudder*)

It really takes most of the book for Crystal to fully trust Shane, and it's done so effortlessly and it's so believable that I didn't once think Hurry up already! No, instead, I faltered right along with Crystal. Not because Shane isn't the best kind of hero - he is, in all his alpha, tortured, hot, charming, smart and smooth glory - but because Kaye did such an amazing job of describing Crystal's life that I felt as though I was right there with her, making choices, feeling her fear and revulsion, her mistrust and her desire to trust someone good.

The gritty underground Baltimore scene Kaye creates is one part horrifying and one part fascinating; the things she weaves into her stories (such as human trafficking, money laundering, and kidnapping) all have a point. They're not in there for shock value or to fill up the page - the men of Hard Ink are on a mission, and that mission becomes even clearer in this book: They must take down a gang that routinely carries out crimes (mostly against women) in the sex slave industry. But there is so much more to this - and Kaye expertly reveals a bit more in each subsequent novel, daring you to come back to find out how deep this thing goes.

And it goes deep. (Get your mind out of the gutter! Actually, on second thought, the sex scenes are pretty fantastic as well. Carry on.)

Kaye doesn't leave you hanging. The story of Shane and Crystal is absolutely tied up, just as Nick and Becca's was in HARD AS IT GETS (see my review). But the bigger picture - what this team of ex-Special Forces is up against - is revealed piece by excruciatingly appalling piece. When I finished Book 1, I couldn't wait to get my hands on Book 2. Now, I just want the whole damn series in my hand. Immediately.

It's not often that an author can take me so far out of my comfort zone that I race to get her next book. In fact, it's never happened, until this series. Laura Kaye gives me the happily-ever-after that I need in my romances, but she also provides a glimpse into an all-too-real world that makes my heart race and my hands sweat. And if I've learned anything from the first two books, it's to trust her. For whatever awful thing she exposes in the bad guys, she counters it with the best of humanity, ingrained within these five heroes. It's in their core, to serve and protect...and the balance of suspense, humor, love and friendship is what makes Laura Kaye the best of the best.

Five stars.


“Don’t look at me like that, Crystal,” Shane said, his voice a raw scrape. It wasn’t a demand or a threat. It was a plea. And the thought that this big, strong, powerful man was begging her for anything was thrilling.

“Like what?” she asked, dragging her gaze up to his. In the diffuse light of the streetlamp, she could tell his eyes were absolutely blazing, and it only fueled the arousal rising up inside her.

“Like maybe you want me the way I want you.” Tilting his head, he nuzzled his face against hers, the tip of his nose trailing over her cheek, his breath ghosting over her lips. “Like maybe you’d let me kiss you and touch you.” A quick brush of his lips against her temple and ear. “Like maybe you’d let me in.”

Crystal could barely breathe for the way her heart was pounding and her pulse was racing. She slid a hand up his chest to his neck, wanting, needing, just absolutely yearning to have this. Just this once.

Leaning into him, Crystal held his gaze and adored the way his expression filled with such expectant satisfaction, like she’d surprised him. Pleased him. She pressed her lips to his.

The groan he unleashed was needful, almost triumphant. His arms came around her gently and pulled her in. And it wasn’t enough. She needed to be closer. Deeper.

She needed more of Shane McCallan.

She might never get another chance.

A flicker of unbidden panic whipped through her body. Bruno had been her only lover for the past four years, and she’d only been able to take him inside her after months’ buildup of trust and familiarity of touch. That was back before he’d shown his true colors. Or before she’d shed her naïveté. Maybe they were the same thing. Who knew? Stop thinking about Bruno and get out of your head. Just feel. You deserve this. You need this. Besides, cart before horse, much?

Shane pulled away and rested his forehead against hers. “I didn’t come here expecting this. Hoped, maybe.” He smiled. “But I really just needed to see you.”

“I’m glad you came,” she said, combing her fingers through the sides of his hair, then holding his face in her hands.

“What do you want, sweetness? I’d give you anything.” Over her hoodie, his hands rubbed up and down her back, hip to shoulder, hip to shoulder.

Crystal couldn’t find the words, so she tilted her face and claimed his lips, and this time the kiss unleashed a fire that seemed to flash through both of them. She shifted into a kneeling position between his thighs, and he hauled her into his lap so that she straddled him. The position brought the hard length of his cock between her legs and she gasped and moaned at the feel of him so close to where she was wet and wanting.

They pressed closer, held tighter, kissed more deeply until all Crystal knew, all that existed in the world, was this moment, this place, this man.

Shane’s hands moved over her body. Fisting in the long lengths of her hair. Gently cupping and massaging her breasts. Stroking her bare thighs. Crystal adored the way he seemed to need to touch her. How powerful and necessary human touch was. How life-giving and affirming. And how simply mind-blowing was it to discover that touch could be a giving thing, not just about taking, that touch could be healing, and not just about hurting, that touch could comfort, and not just exert control. Even when things had been better with Bruno, they’d never been like this.

And to think she’d found someone who could teach her something so fundamental that she’d never known before. Or, maybe, she’d known but hadn’t believed. Now she did. Because of Shane. No matter how little time she got to have him in her life, she would always be grateful that he’d shown her what it could be like. With the right person.

Gripping her hair in his fist, Shane reclined her head, opening the line of her throat to his worshipful lips and tongue. He trailed a path of liquid fire over her flesh that left her dizzy, totally awash in sensation. He tugged her hips in tighter, and Crystal moaned at the friction the movement created. He was deliciously hard and thick between her legs. Unable to resist, she rocked herself against him as he laid her back farther so he could kiss her the small part of her chest the V-neck of the hoodie revealed.

Slowly, he drew down the zipper, trailing kisses lower and lower until the heat of his breath fanned over her nipple through the thin fabric of her uniform. Just as slow, Shane raised her back up, bringing their bodies together again. Crystal ran her hands over his chest and stomach, but what she most needed was to feel him, skin on skin. Pulling back from their kiss, she tugged at the hem of his shirt, silently asking for permission.

“Anything you want,” he whispered, taking her belly and her heart on a loop-the-loop.

About the Author

Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen books in contemporary and paranormal romance. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.


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Facebook Party 

Join NYT and USA Today Bestselling author Laura Kaye as she celebrates the release of HARD AS YOU CAN (Hard Ink #2) with a day of prizes, excerpts, teasers, Q&A, and tons of awesome guest authors! 

HARD AS YOU CAN New Release Party on Facebook

  • Jennifer Probst 
  • Joya Fields
  • Cristin Harber
  • Robin Covington
  • Carrie Ann Ryan
  • Heather Long
  • Tonya Burrows
  • Lauren Blakely
  • Diane Alberts and Jen McLaughlin
  • Christi Barth
  • Rachel Van Dyken
  • Nichole Chase
  • Jay Crownover
  • Gina L. Maxwell

(Disclaimer: I was provided an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the author for an honest and unbiased review. She signed it. I squee'd. Then I got serious and read it for content, cohesion, and writing style.)