About Me

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I am an avid reader, animal lover, devourer of guacamole, storyteller and the author of An Unexpected Obsession, A Dose of Reality, Witch Way, A Coven by Christmas, Love Spells, Summer Solstice (coming soon), Flirting With Death, Flirting With Murder and the rest of the upcoming Assassins Anonymous series. I attended Arizona State University (go Sun Devils!) and make my home in the Valley of the Sun with my husband and three pampered pets. I like to discuss everything funny, sexy, sassy and absurd. But mostly I like to talk about books... and shoes... and outrageously expensive purses... and Chanel sunglasses ...oooh, and anything sparkly... or fluffy! So, come on in and let's chat!

Monday, December 31, 2012

A Fantastic Read... Secrets in the Shadows by T.L. Haddix

*Title edited above... oops - like I say below, I read these out of order... Secrets in the Shadows is not the sequel! Doh!*

I just finished reading Secrets in the Shadows by T.L. Haddix and realized I had to share this great book with all of you. I've been MIA of late, between life, new book releases and... life, I, well, it doesn't matter - I'm back to doing the things I love... writing and reading great stories (well, at least reading them;-) I'll let the you be the judge of the former part of that statement).

I'm planning on doing a post about my recent reading dilemma, but don't want to derail this review because T.L. deserves a major round of applause for fantastic first book in her Shadows series (I actually read these out of order, but it didn't matter - they were that good). - And I'm getting picky lately. Life really is too short to read bad books, but this one is well worth the time invested to surround yourself with this wonderful cast of characters.

I think the most inspiring part (and, yes, I may shop in the sinner's section on occasion  but I do enjoy being uplifted) is the amazing portrayal of a the Taylor family. Interwoven with this fun mystery is a heartwarming look into a family that works! How often do we get to see that anymore? Mom, dad, daughter, son, granddaughter and even an ex-husband written in a way that isn't tragic or unbelievable, but simply... inspiring. I loved this family. I aspire to be this family! Really well done, so... Bravo! If you haven't read T.L. Haddix before, start now! My only regret with this book is that it sat so long on my Kindle before I got around to reading it!

Description from Amazon Product Page:

Life can go on after tragedy...

After surviving a traumatic attack as a teenager, as well as a disastrous first marriage, Lauren Taylor Grant is content with her life. So what if she gets lonely from time to time? With a healthy, beautiful daughter, and a successful coffee shop-cafe, the divorced single mother convinces herself she doesn't have time for love. When she gets her first glimpse at her parents' handsome new neighbor, though, she starts reconsidering her stance. Once Charlie Clark begins breaking through her defensive walls, Lauren finds him hard to resist.

Nothing stays hidden forever...

Just as Lauren is learning to let go of the past and embrace the future, her personal demons rear their ugly heads in the guise of a vandal hell-bent on destroying Lauren's happiness. When another local businesswoman is brutally murdered, the investigation into the crime reveals an unexpected connection to Lauren's past. The message is clear--the past has come calling, and it's out for blood.

Note for Readers: This book does deal with the issues of incest and sexual abuse, more with the effects on the victims than the abuse itself. Reader Discretion Advised.

"Secrets in the Shadows" is the first book in the Shadows Collection, Romantic Suspense novels set in small-town Indiana. Other titles include "Under the Moon's Shadow," "Shadows from the Grave,""Hidden in the Shadows," and "In the Heart's Shadow."

Happy Reading!

It's Here!!! Flirting With Murder, Assassins Anonymous - Step Two... FINALLY!!!

Okay, okay... I know it took longer than anticipated. Mea Culpa! But... the next (Flirting With Secrets) is halfway written, so I can promise the wait will be very brief for Kayla's next adventure. Anyway - for those who have waited patiently, I can't express enough how much your encouraging words and support meant! You all rock and I'm so lucky to have people who actually want to read these crazy stories that have become so much a part of me. Sometimes I have to remember that I'm not a recovering assassin (I might share a teensy tiny bit of Kayla's road rage). I swear, I only fictionally plot out their deaths ;-)

Soooo... back on topic. Kayla really is trying to be a good girl in Flirting With Murder, but between her chaotic love life, rogue assassins on her tail, crazy psychics and a family with more secrets than the Pentagon, it's HARD!!! So, she may occasionally fall off the wagon during her road to recovery, but what a ride. And really, do we want her to be an angel? Where's the fun in that? Karma may have a few things to say about it, but for now being bad is just a little too irresistible. Want a taste? Read on for the first chapter of Step Two:

“Murder is always a mistake. One should never do anything that one cannot talk about after dinner.”
-Oscar Wilde

Chapter 1

Kill me.
Those two little words haunted my dreams.
Dammit! They were ruining everything.
Bryan had surprised me with an impromptu road trip down to Rocky Point, Mexico and I was actually starting to view my exile to suburbia as something other than the death sentence it had started out as. Four days of salt-scented air, tangy margaritas and extended naked romps with my yummy lawyer-boy was a definite shove in the right direction for my recovery. I was relaxed and tan. Loud noises didn’t make me immediately reach for the gun I no longer carried. The message icon blinking incessantly on my cell sparked zero desire to find out what was going on outside my cocoon.
When my neighbor had parked her minivan in front of my house with a brand new pedophile’s deli menu on the back window (AKA ridiculous stick figures of her ever-expanding brood, complete with names and ages), did I search for my crowbar? Nope. It barely even caused a blip in my pulse.
Hell, I hadn’t caused any accidents on the freeway in weeks. I was practically cured.
And then, in a moment of boredom and weakness I had opened the envelope I’d carelessly tossed aside such a short time ago. Big mistake. Two little words, six letters, two syllables had thrown me right back into the past – kill me.
What was that even supposed to mean?
Dmitri wasn’t prone to theatrics, but even without a signature there was no mistaking the sender. Was he suggesting I figuratively kill him? As if I’d been pining away, wallowing in sorrow since his abrupt departure from my life? As if! Seriously. Pinky-swear.
I was enjoying normalcy as much as an assassin could. A former assassin with the hots for her most recent target, that is. I never claimed to be brilliant, so suck it. The thought of him made my panties too tight… and I wasn’t currently wearing panties. Ex-assassin problems.
But that didn’t mean I was going to let this little game he was playing continue. If it was a game. Why did I insist on overanalyzing everything?  My sanity was tenuous at best. I didn’t need someone in my life who kept me constantly on the edge.
Couldn’t I just enjoy a leisurely afternoon by the pool without my past rearing up to bite me in the ass? I mean, I’d resorted to making freaking crafts. Crafts! How much more ‘suburban’ could I get? Damn that Pinterest, I silently cursed, swishing the strips of multi-colored tulle I’d somehow fashioned into a gloriously full, adult-sized tutu around me.
I promise, the silly skirt had been destined for the dump. But as I’d slipped off my wet swimsuit in preparation for going inside to clean up, I had spied it resting forlornly atop the trash bins and couldn’t seem to stop myself from trying it on one last time.
Okay, so I missed my make-believe world sometimes. It happens. It didn’t mean I was going to shoulder my rifle and start picking off arms dealers.
Tank waddled over and flopped on my foot with an exhausted sigh as I rinsed my bikini off with the hose and hung it over a chair to dry. “Yeah, you guys really have it rough. I need to wash the chlorine off,” I told him, bending to rub his chubby belly. “Then, the four of you are getting a bath.”
See – I was completely adapting to “normal”.
My cell started ringing as I walked to the bathroom. Another blocked number. If it was Dmitri I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of knowing what he was doing to me. If it was the CIA, well, I was done with the CIA, too.
I was adjusting the taps to attain the perfect temperature for my intended bubble bath when it sounded like a nuclear bomb exploded in my living room. Momma and the puppies immediately hid behind the toilet. I went into Zen-mode as I spied men in full combat gear file into the tiny hallway.
Close-quarters battle wasn’t my specialty – especially without my trusty knife, or better yet, my gun handy – but they only thought they had the element of surprise. Even outnumbered and underdressed, I had exposed ta-tas on my side.
I gave them a flirty finger wave. “Can I help you boys?”
Men are so easy. Armed and armored, yet the sight of a nice rack stunned them stupid. Or maybe it was the vision of a grown woman wearing nothing but a tutu. Either way, I knew it wouldn’t last long and used the respite to my advantage. The first one went down with my famous roundhouse kick. Not easy in a bathroom the size of an outhouse, I assure you. The second charged, but an uppercut to the chin had his eyes showing nothing but white. Macho or not, the third didn’t stand a chance when my knee connected with his nuts.
Jesus! How many were there? It was like a game of Whack-a-Mole where you knocked them down and yet they just kept coming. My best bet was to run in the opposite direction – to my bedroom – where the reinforced door would hold them off until I could lock and load. But I’d gone soft. I hesitated over leaving my babies alone, and in that instant of indecision was tackled and brought down.
By now, it’s probably obvious I’m not shy. But I wasn’t comfortable with the fact my boob had landed smack dab in the middle of number two’s face. He had better not be enjoying this, or I’d kill him for real.
My wrists were quickly and expertly secured behind my back before rough hands lifted me to my feet. I was waiting for my cue, and when it came I tossed my head back as forcefully as I could. I heard a satisfying crunch and fled for the bedroom. I wasn’t any good to the puppies if I was dead, after all.
I awkwardly maneuvered the lock into place, took two steps forward and came to a halt. “Shit.”
Charles, my former handler, stood serenely at the foot of my bed. His military posture made me wonder how he could look so comfortable with a stick lodged firmly up his ass. I mean, it had to be at least mildly annoying, right? “I’d be impressed if I wasn’t so pissed that you’ve just taken down some of the best recruits we’ve had in years.”
“Shouldn’t that make you more impressed?” I countered.
Charles just shook his head, but I would swear there was a smile in his eyes. “Turn around and let me get you out of those zip ties.”
As soon as I was free, I ran to the door. “My dogs,” I explained over my shoulder.
“Kayla!” His commanding voice still held the power to stop me in my tracks. “Why don’t you put some clothes on?”
I couldn’t help myself. Batting my eyelashes, I said, “Am I making you nervous?”
“Just do it.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t barge into people’s houses if you’re afraid of a little nudity,” I mumbled as I hopped into a pair of Bryan’s boxers that had been tossed on the floor, shimmied out of my do-it-yourself ballerina-at-the-ball project and threw a t-shirt over my head. “Satisfied?”
He gave a curt nod.
All of the men except the uppercut victim were on their feet. “Get out of my way.”
I was surprised when they complied – until, out of the corner of my eye I saw Charles give them the same nod he had given me. I did my best to ignore them all as I raced into the bathroom and dropped to my knees. My little family was huddled in a tiny ball of quivering fear. I forced my fists to relax as I coaxed them into my arms.
With the brood safely, if awkwardly, bundled, I pushed through the firing squad and settled the babies next to me on the couch. “It’s okay,” I assured them. “I’ll always protect you.”
Charles stepped into the room from the hallway, instructing his men to guard the perimeter. As soon as the area cleared of extra bodies he sat in the chair opposite me and expelled a long breath. “At least this little fiasco answered one question I had.”
“Do you want me to guess what it was?”
“Don’t be insubordinate.”
“Since I don’t work for you, that’s not possible.”
“Jesus, Kayla.” He rubbed his hands over his weary face. “I’m here to protect you. Can you cut me some slack?”
I was already shaking my head. “No, Charles, I don’t think I can. You broke into my home and had five men attempt to assault me. My dogs are scared to death and I need a bath. So rewind and try again.”
“David escaped custody.”
“That’s not good.” I surprised myself with how calm my voice sounded. I was even more surprised by how calm I actually was.
“No, it’s definitely not good.”
“Why are you here? Shouldn’t you be tracking him?”
“We are. Our last sighting had him about a mile away… and that was three days ago.”
I started to jump up to pace, but Boo whimpered and I immediately drew them all closer to me. “Why am I just hearing about this now? How long has he been on the run? Do you have a team on my family?” The thought of them in danger caused a sick feeling to rise up from the pit of my belly. “Please tell me you haven’t orchestrated an echo performance of what happened here a few minutes ago. My grandfather has Alzheimer’s and the stress could be very detrimental to his disease.”
“Don’t worry, we thought it best to watch and wait where they’re concerned. But a team is in place to extract them as soon as you give the okay.” He hesitated, but then forged ahead. “And back to your original query, David slipped custody a few days after he was brought in, which you would have known if you’d ever answer your goddamned phone. We weren’t overly concerned at first because he seemed to be continuing his original mission, but then everything changed.”
“What? What changed?”
“Our sources were tracking both David and Dmitri – and their movements were identical. But then David changed course, straight to Phoenix. As far as we know, Dmitri is somewhere in Egypt. The only thing that makes sense is he decided to go for a stationary target first.”
“Me.” It wasn’t a question.
“I need to make a few phone calls.” Claire and her family needed to be warned, as well as Bryan.
“What you need to do is pack a bag and come with me now. We’ll take you to your family and get all of you somewhere safe until we can reel David back in.”
“Please tell me you’re joking.”
“What other option do we have? With the way David slipped away, he has to be getting help from inside the CIA. It only makes sense to take you and your family out of the equation until we have a lock on him.”
It all sounded reasonable. And, if I were anyone other than a former assassin I would have jumped at the opportunity to let the almighty federal government keep my loved ones safe. But I knew The Agency and there was one really big hole in Charles’s plan…
“Are you calling in the Marshals? The FBI?”
“David is one of ours. We clean up our own messes.”
Yeah, except the CIA didn’t have authority to run an op on domestic soil. “So if all this goes to shit, you don’t have any backup. Or, witnesses,” I added.
“We can handle one rogue agent – as long as you’re willing to cooperate.”
“And cooperation means allowing you to hide us all away while you mop up the mess David’s sure to create? What about friends, acquaintances, hell, the teller at my bank? You know he’ll use whoever he can get his hands on to accomplish his goal.” Not even the CIA could protect every person I’d ever come in contact with. And Charles knew I was adamant about my family not knowing who I’d been – which meant he had another plan he was angling for and was counting on me offering up the alternative.
“I’ll admit, we might have some collateral damage,” he hedged.
“Stop, Charles. Just stop. You and I both know the best way to get David is to leave me out in the open. He might be the world’s biggest asshole, but he’s not a stupid asshole. He’ll sniff out any agent within a ten mile radius of me. So, the only way this would work is if he thinks he can get to me directly. Leave me unprotected and he’ll have no reason to harm anyone else,” I concluded.
Charles smiled, then frowned. “Except there’s one flaw in your reasoning – you’ve been unprotected this entire time and David hasn’t made a move to eliminate you.”
“He’s waiting for something.”
“Or, someone.”
And there was the truth I’d been avoiding. “Dmitri,” I whispered, leaving the name of David’s other target unspoken. Charles couldn’t know about Claire and I wasn’t going to be the one to give away her secret.
But David knew. And we had thwarted him once already. He wouldn’t stop with me and Dmitri. No, his ego would demand total vindication from all parties involved in his downfall.
“It’s no secret the two of you developed a particularly close bond over the course of your last mission,” Charles continued. “If Dmitri were to discover you were in danger there’s every reason to believe he would attempt to come to your rescue.”
Charles couldn’t know how true those words were. He was fishing for confirmation. But it would be a cold day in hell before I’d take the bait and admit the full extent of my treasonous affair. “I think you’re wrong. And even if by some twist of fate our Greek arms dealer is harboring even a remote deep, dark affection for me, I have absolutely no way of contacting him to set the trap.”
“We don’t just gather information, Kayla. We’re pretty good at releasing it, too.”
Like so much in my life, I was bored with the conversation. And there was another truth I’d been loath to admit. There was little doubt I would go along with the plan to protect both my true identity and the lives of everyone important to me. What no one needed to know was that I also longed for the excitement. “Do what you have to do to set the wheels in motion. I’m perfectly capable of watching my own six, but I’m counting on you to do everything in your power to keep my family safe.”
“You have my word,” he vowed. Charles stood and began walking toward the door. At the last moment he turned and said, “Do everything in your power to keep yourself safe. Everything. Got it?”
His eye contact was mesmerizing. He knew something he wasn’t telling me – I just needed to figure out which of my many secrets I had to get better at burying. “I will, Charles. I always look out for number one.” He was in the process of quietly shutting the door when I added, “And if you or anyone else ever breaks into my home again, I’ll kill every last one of you. Got it?”
His barely perceptible nod and fleeting half smile was the only indication he had heard my parting threat.
Momma let out a muted growl and I rubbed her back reassuringly. “That’s right. Us momma bears don’t mess around when it comes to protecting our own, do we?”
Momma planted her feet on my chest and gave my chin a quick laving before herding her brood to the kitchen for some post-trauma nourishment. Her unconditional love and support reminded me that not every part of my suburban exile had been a waste.
It also reminded me that I really needed a bath – because things were about to get dirty.

Get the entire story here.

Happy Reading!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chick Lit Author Blog Hop 2012 - Winners Announced!!!

The Chick Lit Author Blog Hop 2012... 
is officially over and I want to thank my fellow Chick Lit Authors who participated, Tracie Bannister (author extraordinaire and the brainchild of CLA 2012) for all her tireless efforts to make the hop a success, and, especially, the Chick Lit readers who hopped around and left comments on each of our blogs.  So much fun!

BIG NEWS!!! The Grand Prize Winner of the $150 Sephora gift card is <drum roll please> . . . Tiffany White!  Have fun shopping!!!

The winner of my e-book, Flirting with Death, Assassins Anonymous – Step One, is . . . Patricia W!  Congrats, Patricia, and Happy Reading!

Each of the 34 authors involved in the blog hop will be announcing the winner of their e-books on their respective blogs, so please check in with them to see if you won.

A huge THANK YOU to all the other Chick Lit authors, readers, and bloggers who made the Chick Lit Author Blog Hop 2012 a smashing success! I don’t know about all of you, but I can’t wait for the next oneJ!

As ever, Happy Reading!


Friday, May 11, 2012

Chick Lit Author Blog Hop 2012 - The Love Triangle

Even in Chick Lit, two-timing is practically a four letter word. But a love triangle, ah, now that's just good, juicy dessert for the brain! I believe my addiction to this concept started about a decade ago when I got hooked on the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. JE makes the love triangle a treat I simply can't deny myself (solidly team Ranger here). I've been giving a lot of thought to why I enjoy this scenario so much and have come to a startling conclusion. (Okay, it's not exactly earth shattering, but it's pretty good.) There is no such thing as the perfect man. Nope, he simply doesn't exist. There is only perfection in the eye of the beholder... hence, the love triangle.

When two men are fighting (knowingly, or more often, unknowingly) for the affection of a woman, it gives us a chance to reflect on not so much the ideal, but what we can live with for the rest of our lives. Do we want a strong, handsome brute who will drag us to his cave and have his way with us? (Yes, please). Or is that quiet, shy, cerebrally sexy nerd who woos us with emotions and depth the man we want? (Oh, yeah, a little of that, too).

So the love triangle gives us a glimpse into two distinctly different versions of maleness while challenging us with making a choice of what's really important. There has been much discussion lately over the phenomenon of 50 Shades of Grey (and, really, if you're looking for an adult fantasy read after Twilight, I'd personally recommend An Unexpected Obsession ;-) *end of shameless plug*) and the idea of mommy porn. I know, you're thinking, "What does this have to do with Chick Lit and Love Triangles?" I'm getting there...

A few fabulously snarky and dead-on commentators have pointed out that true mommy porn is watching your significant other *insert most despised chore here*. For me, it's the laundry. If my hubs would ever deign to do one load from start to finish I would surely be transported to a tantric state of wanting non-stop sex for the next decade. But I don't want to read about it.

Nix the true mommy porn and we're back to the delicious dis-dat-deli (I'll take a little bit of dis with a large side of dat). Great Chick Lit transports us into the life of the heroine and allows us to judge her choices and options from that lovely 30,000 foot viewpoint. (And, oh how I love to judge these fictional others from the privacy of my own snarky mind). What would we do in her shoes given our personal life experiences? (you know you have an opinion). If we had the chance, would we go back and risk forever with the bad boy who made our heart race as fast and loud as the engine on his Harley? Or, do we wish we would have forgone the dangerous path and chosen the slow and steady beau who made our heart pitter-patter with his talk of family and white picket fences?

Sometimes the choice isn't always so extreme, but the excitement and nail-biting of the decision still makes us fly through the pages to see what the outcome will be. Chick Lit is the wonderful outlet for these fantasies where our heroines don't need to have bodacious ta-tas and be able to cook a gourmet meal after working a twenty hour day at the law office where she makes a seven-figure salary and yet still caters to every whimsical fantasy of her man. Not just no, but HELL NO.

In Chick Lit we get to meet women who we relate to in fun, frustrating, quirky and fantastical ways - Where dating two (or more? hmmm) men isn't taboo but a necessary evil along the road to bliss. Hopefully the love triangle will never go away because reading about them is just too much fun!

So, how do you feel about a love triangle? Ever had the uncomfortable pleasure of experiencing one for yourself? In fiction, do you always root for the boy-next-door or the boy-your-mama-warned-you-about? Leave a comment below with your name and email address and you'll be entered to win a copy of my e-book, Flirting with Death, where Kayla is stuck between wanting the man her conscience tells her she should and the dangerous criminal her heart can't forget.

Is there a twelve-step program for recovering assassins?

Kayla McKenna is a covert assassin—and she likes it. After her father was murdered by terrorists, she was consumed by the need for retribution. But landing her dream job as a CIA assassin turns out to be merely a stepping stone in her plot to avenge the heartaches of the past... and present. One botched mission earns Kayla a burn notice, a bullet hole and a one-way ticket back to suburbia. Banished to her childhood stomping grounds with a meddling, shopping-addicted mother intent on grandkids, three overprotective cop brothers, a sexy criminal who can’t decide whether he wants to shoot her or date her, and a new boyfriend even her family loves, Kayla may finally get the chance to find out what really matters in life.

That is, if living a "normal" life doesn’t kill her first.

With a delicious combination of mystery, suspense, romance, edgy chick-lit, and a dash of paranormal, the first installment of the new Assassins Anonymous series is a wickedly fun treat.

For a chance to win the Chick Lit Author Blog Hop Grand Prize of a $150 Sephora gift card, simply do the following:

1) Collect all 34 of the secret words (you will find a secret word in each of the blog posts on the hop.)  The word will be italicized, so it will be easy to locate.
2) Submit your list of 34 secret words to CLABlogHop@aol.com before midnight on Sunday, May 20th and you will be entered into the Grand Prize Drawing! 

The Grand Prize winner will be announced on Monday, May 21st, and the $150 Sephora gift card can be redeemed online, or at any Sephora store in the US.

*Chick Lit Author Blog Hop contests are open to residents of the United States only.
 Please see the top of the sidebar to the right of this post (beneath the Chick Lit Authors Blog Hop 2012 badge) for a Linky list with all 34 participating authors/blogs. You will have an opportunity to win a different e-book at each blog hop stop. Good luck and happy reading!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A New Release from a Fabulous Paranormal Fantasy Author - Kill Me by Alex Owens!

Need something to read?
Hot off the virtual press is Alex Owens' debut novel, Kill Me.

Three days ago, Claire was a wife, a mother, and very much alive... then the music called for her.
Claire has one goal for the conference-- to land a few whales so that her boss will give her a badly needed raise. She pitches and prays while courting the music industry elite until her plans are derailed by hotness-in-high-heels.
Bette is at the conference on a mission--to find a human with untapped talents that she can mold and control. Bette uses her cursed violin to lure Claire in with a haunting song, which unravels Claire's life as her new talents emerge. To make matters worse, Claire is attracted to two unlikely people-- Bette and her hunky associate, Gregor. Both can light Claire's fire, but is either of them the only one?
Unfortunately for Claire, life isn't all song lyrics and seduction. Tied to darkness by blood and power, Claire must harness her abilities if she has any hope of returning home to her daughter and regaining her former life... if that's what she really wants.
Kill Me, the debut novel from author Alex Owens, is a quirky paranormal fantasy complete with music, magic, fangs and freaks. It is also the first in a planned series, with the second book due out by the Fall of 2012. Be forewarned, this is not your daughter's paranormal.

You know you can't wait to read more... so why bother trying? Kill Me is available TODAY for Kindle on Amazon for the special debut price of $3.99! Find out more about Alex Owens, Kill Me, and the Blood Chord Series here:
Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fantastic Read - The Baby Thief by L.J. Sellers

The Baby Thief is yet another book by an author I stumbled upon and am now addicted to. With a delicious blend of warped morals, twisted motives and thrilling turns, L.J. Sellers has hit the mark when it comes to the ultimate in suspense.

Description (from Amazon product page):

"Thirty-two and still single, Jenna wants a baby before it's too late so she visits a fertility clinic. Soon after she meets Eric, a charming reporter, and their attraction is powerful. Meanwhile the clinic doctor, after one look at Jenna, makes other plans. The doctor and her lover kidnap Jenna and steal one of her eggs—a simple procedure that the “donor” should no have memory of. But from the beginning, things go terribly wrong. When Jenna disappears, Eric is confused and heartbroken—but can he find her in time to save her?"

The Baby Thief is incredibly engrossing and I highly recommend. Normally, I'm all about chick-lit, but every once in a while I just need a break and this was the perfect detour! Currently only $2.99 on Amazon, there is absolutely no reason not to give it a try.

Happy Reading!

Monday, April 23, 2012

She's Baaaack! Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

Okay, so this always happens when I'm nearly finished with a project... I start procrastinating! What is my favorite way to pass the time when I'm in procrastination mode? Read, of course!

I've been hemming and hawing over reading J.E.'s latest because the reviews are so mixed. I mean, Explosive Eighteen actually has more 1-star ratings than 5-star, which I find mind boggling. I can understand the complaints about price. $13.99 for an ebook that was released nearly six months ago? Ridiculous. Sorry, I love Miss Evanovich, but the pricing by the big publishers really ticks me off. So what did I do? Bought the damn thing.

And I loved it! Reviewers have been dead on with the past few books in that they were getting a bit repetitive and lacking in the surprising bursts of laugh-out-loud humor J.E. is famous for. Not Explosive Eighteen! Usually when I have a written LOL moment, it's really more of a small grin, maybe a slight chuckle. Yet, finally, I can write that I seriously laughed, deep belly chuckles, more than once while reading this book. Do I wish Stephanie would make up her mind? Yes! Well, only if she picks Ranger, but that's a personal preference.

Then again, if Explosive Eighteen is any indication of a return to the former glory of the Stephanie Plum series, I don't want her to make a difinitive choice... because then it would be over. And it can't be over. I need a go-to author who keeps me turning the pages and inspires me to new heights.

I won't rehash the plot, because if you're a fan you know what you're getting here. But I will say all those 1-star reviews are misguided in my opinion. If you're holding out for the same reasons I was, don't. Well worth the read. (Even more worth it if you can get your hands on the paperback or a used copy... $13.99? Really? Okay, enough said. I'm over it now. Promise.)

Bitching aside, I highly recommend Explosive Eighteen. Fun, fun, fun read!!!

Happy Page Turning!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Blood Orchids by Toby Neal - Aloha!

I was first drawn to this book because it has nearly the same title as one of my all-time faves by Stuart Woods. I'm so glad I took a chance and actually read it! Blood Orchids by Toby Neal is a fantastic book! I'll start with the scenery - The Big Island of Hawaii is one of my favorite places on this earth. And while I've only been to the Kona Coast portion of the island, I really enjoyed the imagery of Hilo and the surrounding parks and and beaches.

Lei, the main character of this novel is an interesting and engaging heroine. Her background is vivid and compelling. There were times I almost felt like a voyeur because her history was so well-written and fleshed out. The mystery? Wonderful, and, as the book description says, "un-putdownable."

Then there's her faithful companion - Keiki. I love animals and it seems I always fall in love with books where I fall in love with the animal/s portrayed in them. Keiki can come live with me any day!

Romance is definitely an important element in Blood Orchids, but it's not overpowering or mushy. Toby Neal put just the right amount in to make it true to the story and, especially, to the characters. Bravo! I also love series, so I can't wait to find out what happens to Lei next.

Blood Orchids is currently $2.99 on Amazon and worth every penny. If you enjoy mystery, suspense, and romance all wrapped up into one fabulous read - this is the book for you. I highly recommend!

Happy Reading!

Golden Lies by Barbara Freethy is... Golden!

Golden Lies is the second book I've read by Barbara Freethy. And this one is definitely my favorite of the two! Let me start with the cover, because I absolutely love it - although after reading the book, other than the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, I didn't find it really suited the content. But it is a beautiful image and was definitely a deciding factor when I downloaded the book.

The story revolves around three central main characters who are drawn together when a mysterious dragon statue is found. I really enjoyed the Asian culture in the book and found it original and refreshing.

The romance and chemistry between Riley and Paige sparked and drew me in. Theirs was a romance I could get behind and root for. Every character was well drawn and their histories were portrayed with depth and realism. What I really liked was how quickly the pace moved and how, with so many different threads being woven together, I never felt like I missed anything, or something wasn't explained. Golden Lies is the epitome of romantic suspense. You won't be able to put it down.

(Possible spoiler?) The ending is what I expected, but I wouldn't have had it any other way... happy endings are always a must-have for me. Golden Lies is ridiculously inexpensive, too. I actually downloaded it as a freebie, but when I went to Amazon to check on the price just now I saw it is only $1.99. BARGAIN! For romance and romantic suspense lovers, you won't want to miss this one.

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Hunger Games Trilogy - A Review by a Chick-Lit Lover

I was late to this party, but I'm glad I finally gave in. Definitely not my normal reading fare, but the story really is quite engrossing. I have to admit it took quite a while to get used to the first-person present-tense style. I actually like first person... it was the present tense that threw me. I did become accustomed to it after a brief period, that might have been shortened if I had connected more with Katniss from the beginning. I didn't. In fact, I never really fell in love with this character.
After The Twilight Saga madness (and, yes, I fell under Edward's spell quite quickly), and when the media made such a big deal about how this series was going to be even bigger, I had to see what all the hoopla was about. I had high expectations for this story and I can't say it necessarily disappointed me, but while I'm sure it was intended to be a character-driven plot, I found them (the characters) to be a far second to the world-building that went on. In this, Suzanne Collins did a wonderful job of painting the imagery quite vividly with her words. Throughout all three books, I never had difficulty picturing where the story was taking place.

But... I still never fell in love with the characters. The antiwar message came through loud and clear, and was an enjoyable ride, but I felt let down that Katniss never aspired to greatness. For a heroine, she was a disappointment to me. Every accomplishment was more luck than skill, and I saw very little growth in her throughout the series until the very, very end - which was a little rushed, in my opinion, after all the buildup and still painted her as flat and rather emotionless. I realize this is due to the emotional damage she'd suffered and is probably a more apt demeanor for someone who has lived the life she has, but it left so much to be desired. Where was the hope? I didn't necessarily need a happy ending, but I felt nearly depressed after it ended. In one word - The Hunger Games is: Sad!

*Possible Spoiler Alert*

Speaking of the ending... I wish there had been more about what happened to the country in the aftermath. From others, I went into these books believing I was going to be swept up in a love triangle, which, okay, maybe it was... kinda, sorta. But since I never felt a connection to any of the trio (other than feeling a bit sorry for Peeta), and since there was more action than drama, I felt the lack of details, lack of a vivid picture of what happened, was sorely lacking.

*End Possible Spoiler*

Now, I know I compared the two series before, so I will elaborate a bit more. Twilight was all drama. You felt more than the mechanics of the characters - even though I did not overly enjoy all the redundant musings found in the books and skimmed through about 50% of the stories. In contrast, The Hunger Games had a much better plot and was far superior in the writing style, but it lacked passion. It lacked emotion. Well, emotions other than fear, hatred, and violence. It was brutal and dark.

One must take into account that I am truly a lover of Chick Lit. I need light and happy. I definitely enjoyed this foray into the dark side, but I am at a loss as to why these books are so incredibly popular. They're actually quite depressing - especially considering that they're written for a YA audience. Maybe as someone who is several years past "young" I just don't get it. I know many YA books that spread like wildfire are popular because of a certain theme, which, in my estimation is young children doing things that are more "adult": fighting wars, torid romances, grand adventures without parental oversight, etc. So, maybe in this instance I didn't connect because I know the real life consequences of what was occurring.

In the end, I'll watch the movies. I'd recommend the books to a friend as something interesting to read. But when it comes down to it, I wouldn't re-read the series. The Hunger Games is definitely a unique experience, but when it comes to all the hysteria - I'll take a pass. I am not team Gale or team Peeta (whose name makes me hungry for Greek food). I don't suddenly feel the need to visit an archery range. I'm glad I spent the time to read the series so I can speak intelligently when the topic comes up in conversation, because the avalanche has begun and there's no getting out of the way. But as I watch it unfold, all I'm inspired to add to the pile is a careless shrug and a noncommittal, "Meh."

Let me know what your thoughts are on the subject. And, "May the odds be ever in your favor." ;-)

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Vacation Love - Escape by M.K. Elliott

Need to get away? Escape by M.K. Elliott takes you to a fabulous island resort in Thailand and fills the days with romance and beautiful tropical scenery. I think many of us can relate to the need to run away from our stressful jobs and lackluster relationships. Lucy does just that when she leaves behind a stagnant live-in boyfriend to seek a little spice.

Putting aside disbelief that, at a glance, a handsome man can know you're different without more that a few words exchanged, I rooted Lucy on as she pursued a relationship with the sexy dive instructor. The romantic in me wanted to see these two together - even with the moral grey area they were entering. I've never been a fan of settling for what you know, when it doesn't make you happy, just because it's easy and familiar. I really wanted Rudy (the dive instructor) and Lucy to find their bliss, which made me keep turning the pages long after my bedtime.

*Spoiler Alert* The only problem I had was the ability on both their parts to hide who they really were professionally - it just seemed silly and even the explanations given barely made sense. Maybe if the reasons had been explored deeper, I wouldn't have had a problem with it. But in this case, the secrets just made unnecessary drama... and I like drama. The ending also seemed rushed. Everything was tied up nicely, but I would have liked at least a glimpse of their happily ever after. This is just me though and expectations may vary greatly. *End Spoiler*

But even with a few nit-picks, I enjoyed this story. It is an easy, quick read and is perfect for a lazy day or vacation. I also enjoy books written by Brits... the colloquialisms are so fun in England! I definitely recommend. Check it out on Amazon and let me know what you think!

Happy Reading!


Romance South of the Border - Cinderella in Overalls by Carol Grace

Cinderella in Overalls by Carol Grace took me a while to get into. The premise is interesting and original... and also timely with Catherine's family losing their farm during these hard times. But the plot was very slow and difficult to stay interested in (for me). I liked both of the main characters, but had to skip pages of unnecessary reminiscences and inner turmoil to get to the good stuff.

Now, the scenery was vivid and I enjoyed it immensely. There were also two possible fun mysteries that were glossed over.

*Possible Spoiler Alert* The visit to the fishing village and the woman in the reeds could have been a neat tangent, but was wrapped up too soon. Also, the silver mine - what could have been an exciting adventure was also cut short after page upon page of describing the trip to get there and the building excitement of discovery. At least there was a happy ending (I love happy endings), but even this seemed rushed. *End Spoiler*

Many of my impressions of this book may stem from a change in my reading preferences. I used to devour romance books with relish (not the pickle kind). But more and more frequently I find I would rather laugh with a good chick lit book or hold on for the ride inside the pages of a romantic suspense. A happy ending alone just doesn't cut it for me anymore. Now, if you are a die-hard romance fan - BUY THIS BOOK. It has everything a romance should have, it just wasn't for me. Take a look for yourself at Amazon, as Cinderella in Overalls is only $2.99.

Happy Reading!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Modern Day Fairy Tale - Three Wishes by Stephanie Bond

Three Wishes by Stephanie Bond is a cute take on Aladdin and his magic lamp. If you love fairy tales, this book will be right up your alley. As a warning, this is a very light read. And by light, I don't mean short, but... fluffy. That sounds negative, but that's not the way I intend it. It's simply a whimsical read and I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking it's something that it's not.

I'm a fan of Stephanie Bond and have been for years - her Body Movers series is the essence of Chick-Lit and I devoured them in short order. I wouldn't necessarily call Three Wishes Chick-Lit though as it's light, but not humorous in my opinion.

Overall, I liked this book, but never completely fell in love with the characters. As for recommendations for fellow Chick-Lit lovers... Try one of the books in the Body Movers series. Three Wishes is currently $0.99 on Amazon, so if you're looking for a bit of reading entertainment this weekend on the cheap - hop on over and try a sample. And as always, let me know what you think!

Happy Reading!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Free and Fabulous - Falling for You by Julie Ortolon

I'm a sucker for a beach setting and Galveston is one of those places I've always wanted to visit. Add in local lore, potential hauntings, likable characters and a happy ending and I am definitely going to rave about the book. Julie Ortolon is quickly becoming a favorite of mine for romance and she didn't miss the mark in Falling for You.

I got frustrated by some of the preconceived ideas held by Chance, the hero in this story. But in the end I felt they added to his character by showing the depth of his breeding and how what we are brought up thinking is expected of us isn't always what is best... or even actually expected. Aurora St.Claire (Rory) is a perfect heroine in that she is easy to relate to and her actions are real instead of being contrived. Her tenacity is inspiring and you want these two to be together, rooting for them until the very last page.

I downloaded this book a while ago, and was surprised to see it is still free on Amazon. I completely recommend Falling for You to those who love a great romance that is also an easy and engrossing read.  And for the price, what do you have to lose?

Besides, the fun doesn't stop after Falling for You, which is the first book in Julie Ortolon's Pearl Island Trilogy. You won't want to miss reading Allison's story in Lead Me On, or Adrian's story in Don't Tempt Me! With so many great books, I suggest you get started reading right now!
Happy Reading!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

LOVED IT!!! Divorced, Desperate and Delicious by Christie Craig

I absolutely adored this book! Divorced, Desperate and Delicious by Christie Craig was a real treat to read. I am a HUGE fan of Chick-Lit, so this isn't really a surprise. But what was astonishing was how I absolutely couldn't put it down. I loved everything about it, which makes writing a review a little difficult... either I'm going to give the whole story away or there won't be any details.

What a dilemma!

I guess I'll stick with generalities because if I start on any one thing, you won't have to read the book and I would be depriving you of an absolutely fabulous read. So, the characters - very well-developed. From the hero and heroine to the mother to the animals - I really felt I knew them all by the time I was done. The story line was fantastic! Easy to follow, but not too predictable in any way - I had to keep picking up my Kindle again and again (even though I really need to be writing) because I needed to read just one more page. Finally, hot sex with laughter - there is absolutely nothing better!

Buy it! Or, actually - don't. BECAUSE IT'S FREE on Amazon right now!!! Read it and fall in love with Chick-Lit all over again!

Happy reading!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cursed with the gift of great storytelling - 50 Ways to Hex your Lover by Linda Wisdom

50 Ways to Hex your Lover by Linda Wisdom was a tremendously fun, witchy read.

Jazz Tremaine is a witch and she knows how to use it. Tough and world-weary, our heroine is a brash wielder of magic, a ghost befriending closet softie, and a temptress to vampires and foul-smelling creature alike.

I enjoyed the ride, the imagery and the imaginative world created in this book. Fluff and Puff are by far my favorite characters with their evil midnight snacking tendencies, though I wouldn't protest stumbling upon Nick in a dark alley...

I have to admit it took me a while to get through this book. It starts well, but lags a bit in the middle. Once things started exploding and curses flying though, I couldn't put it down. It is definitely well worth the few pages where I just wanted things to get moving (or I could have been in a mood - stranger things have happened) to get to the good stuff. Adventure and intrigue follow Jazz as she sets about to right a wrong being committed against the vampires and the ensuing danger awakens a passion she has been trying to suppress for years. The sex is hot, but some of the language may be off-putting to certain readers. This is not a book for young adults, that is for certain. Didn't stop me from gobbling it up though.

I definitely recommend 50 Ways to Hex your Lover and can't wait to read Hex Appeal!

Happy Witchy Reading!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Need a ride? - Anywhere but Here by Jenny Gardiner

I really enjoyed Anywhere but Here by Jenny Gardiner. The plot is original - even if a bit far-fetched - and you can't help but cheer Mary Kate on in her pursuit of freedom and happiness after discovering her history (I wanted to do physical harm to her douchebag husband). Her handsome hitchhiker is an interesting character, mysterious and unfailingly kind - what's not to like when you have those qualities in a hero, right? I was sucked in and had to know what would happen next, which is definitely the way I want to feel when reading a book.

I have a bone (pun intended) to pick with the characters, though...

**SPOILER** How could you forget about the dog you'd just rescued? I was having fun on this improbable journey until I had to spend the last few pages wondering what had happened to him. And then to find out he was fine, but the characters had forgotten about him? Okay, I'll admit it, I was really ticked off. **END SPOILER**

Rant aside (and it's a personal thing - I am a huge animal lover! I would rather run over my neighbor than their cat any day) :-) Anywhere but Here was a fun read and I definitely recommend to my fellow Chick-Lit lovers! And for only $2.99 on Amazon, it's definitely worth the read. Try it and let me know what you think.

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

J'adore - Sleeping with Paris by Juliette Sobanet

What are our twenties for? In my opinion - growing up. Charlotte Summers, the heroine of Juliette Sobanet's Sleeping with Paris, does a lot of growing up within the pages of this book. I really enjoyed sharing her journey - her heartaches, her triumphs, her path to self discovery.

Not everyone will appreciate the choices Charlotte makes after discovering her fiance has been cheating on her and she decides to try "dating like a man," but I found them to be real, true reactions to a horrible situation. I appreciated her flaws almost more than I appreciated her virtues. And at twenty-something, I probably would have spilled every dirty detail of my rebound from hell all over the internet as well. **Not recommending doing something so foolish, just saying** - - Yes, Charlotte resonated with me ;-).

I really enjoyed the peripheral characters too - with their well-defined roles and personalities, they added a lot of fun and drama to the story.

And, it's also obvious that Juliette Sobanet knows a little bit about France (okay, that was sarcasm)... she knows more than a little - the streets of Paris pop from the pages as if you were there, smelling the cigarette being smoked by an overly-thin Parisian. I've never been, so Sleeping with Paris was like a mini European vacation.

Overall, this was a wonderful story about the mistakes we make and how fate can sometimes intervene when we finally get our heads on straight. Currently $2.99 on Amazon for Kindle, there is simply no reason not to add Sleeping with Paris to your "must read" pile.

Amusez vous bien!


Friday, February 10, 2012

It put a spell on me - Opal Fire by Barbra Annino

Okay, I'm a sucker for books about witches... spells and charms and mystical powers - and who doesn't love an adorable familiar? Well, Opal Fire, Stacy Justice Mystery Book One by Barbra Annino quenched my witchy thirst with a vengeance! Fantastic main character - great writing - LOVE Thor - interesting characters - the list goes on and on.

Making it even more fabulous is that this is the first in a series! I love series! I love series about witches! Add in a mystery, suspense, a wee bit of romance and plenty of witchy attitude, and it's hours of mystical enjoyment for me!!! I loved this book.

Now, those of you who know my reading tastes will realize that my favorite genres are polar opposite of literary fiction. I like to be entertained! I definitely don't want to weep. And, I'm a chick... so books that many consider Chick-Lit are my long-time friends. Opal Fire definitely fits this category. Have I said how much I enjoyed it? And I'm already chomping at the, hmm, cauldron? broomstick? to immerse myself in the next Stacy Justice Mystery - Bloodstone. So fun! So me! Yay!

Currently $3.99 on Amazon (or free to Amazon Prime members), this is a must read for those of you whose reading tastes mirror my own. Enjoy it!

Happy Witchy Reading!