Jun 8, 2017

Review: COLLIDE by Megan Hart

A childhood accident left Emmaline vulnerable to disturbing fugue states that last only minutes, but feel like an eternity. The blackouts are unsettling but manageable …until she meets Johnny Dellasandro. 

The reclusive painter gained notoriety in the '70s for his debauched lifestyle and raunchy art films. His naked body has achieved cult status, especially in Emm's mind —she's obsessed with the man, who's grown even sexier with age. Today Johnny shuns the spotlight and Emm in particular… until she falls into a fugue on his doorstep.

In that moment she's transported back thirty years, crashing a party at Johnny's place in his wild-man heyday— the night is a blur of flesh and heat that lingers on her skin long after she's woken to the present.

It happens again and again, each time-slip another mind-blowing orgy, and soon Emm can't stop, though every episode leaves her weaker and weaker. She's frightened by what's happening to her, but she's even more terrified of losing this portal to the Johnny she wants so badly. The one who wants her, too, and takes her— every chance he gets.







Nothing scarier than getting to the last third of Megan Hart's book, and reading that the main characters are just fine.

As I've already said a thousand times, I am a huge Megan Hart fan. For good reason. With her books, it's not a question whether or not I'll like the book, but how much I'll like it. Collide is one of those I really liked.

This is Emmaline's story. Emm is a new resident in Harrisburg, a familiar place in Hart's novels. A lot of her fictional characters live there and cross paths with whoever it is I'm reading about at the time. I love those cameos, but back to Emm. When she was a child she suffered an accident which left her vulnerable to fugue states. In reality she'd black out while in her mind she was experiencing something else. At thirty-two, after being free from fugue states for a longer time, she's finally living independently. New town, new job, new friend, and then a new crush: Johnny Dellasandro.

Johnny is an artist and an art gallery owner who likes to keep to himself, but in the seventies he was a famous movie star with a famous body often on display in his films. Jen, Emm's friend, is already a fan who knows a lot about him. Emm becomes one soon afterwards. She's attracted to and intrigued by him. Her internet searches become more Johnny-oriented, as do her film choices. She became a bit obsessed by him, I'd say. Well, more than a bit, actually. I found it a little odd, her sudden intense interest in him. But, I went along with it in the hopes it would all make sense after a while.

Crossing paths with Johnny has another effect on Emm -- her fugues return, and this time in all of them he's there. The young Johnny with whom Emm is more free, more brave, and who is more into Emm than the present Johnny seems to be. Though she has more luck with the dream Johnny than the real one, she wasn't giving up until she wore him down, so to speak. At that time, I still had my doubts about this couple. They were one big question mark. There was just something not quite clear.

All my questions flew out of my head when I was two thirds into the book, and Emm said everything was fine. It was a terrifying sentence. This is Megan Hart we're talking about: creator of worlds, destroyer of worlds. Up until that point I took my time reading Collide, but that sentence freaked me out so much that I read and I read until I got to the end. Sure, it was five o'clock in the morning when I finished reading it, but at least I was able to sleep in peace afterwards. That was the part where it all clicked into place. Everything that didn't make a lot of sense, everything I found weird, I saw in a new light, and I understood.

This is one of Megan Hart's paranormal romances. Truth be told, the romance was a lot more important to me than the paranormal aspect of the story. I didn't want to overthink the paranormal stuff. You could say I adopted the heroine's take on what was happening: None of this made sense, yet it made perfect sense. All I had to do was suspend my disbelief. So I did, because in the end I all cared about was that Emm and Johnny got an ending belonging in a romance novel. 


Until next time, happy reading!


XOXO,
 






Jun 6, 2017

Release Day Blitz + Giveaway: SIGHT UNSEEN: A Collection of Five Anonymous Novellas





Book title: Sight Unseen: A Collection of Five Anonymous Novellas, Volume I

Authors: Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, Erin Satie, Emma Barry, J.A. Rock

Genre: Romance

Release date: 6/6/17

Author reveal date: first week of September 2017

Publisher: Open Ink Press

Wordcount: 119,000 | 388 pages





Buy Links:
Open Ink Press  |  Amazon  |  iBooks   |  Nook   |  Kobo


Summary


What stories would you tell if you could? Where would your mind take you, if you let it? Five of the top voices in romance dare you to explore the most distant corners of their imaginations as they test the limits of storytelling and break the boundaries of what even they thought possible, teasing and tormenting you shamelessly as they go.

But there’s a twist—the author of each story is a secret at the time of release. They’re each plumbing the depths of the human heart and mind in ways they’ve never attempted before. Taking you high, bringing you low, until you will be hardpressed to guess who wrote what. Can you tell? Want us to?

Too bad our lips are sealed . . . for now.



Lost That Feeling

Alma knew who she was, once—that is, before she erased her memory with a spell. Some, like the guards at the prison in which she’s held, say that she was a thief, a murderer.

Others say she was a hero. Like Driss, the man who rescues her. He claims to be a friend. He's certainly handsome. And charming. And brave. In a word: perfect.

That's the problem. If he's perfect and she's a hero, how did she end up in prison with a seven-year hole in her memory to begin with?


A Clear View of You

As a child, Kate had one dream: to escape her mother’s deluded hippie commune and live in the real world, where mature adults know that magic isn’t real. But the real world also has its downsides—like rent, student loans, and a cutthroat job market.

Happily, Kate is uniquely qualified for one in-demand position: psychic. Of course, she’s as fake as the rest of them, but nobody plays a fortune-teller as convincingly as a girl raised by a would-be witch. If only Kate’s newest client weren’t so perceptive . . . and attractive. If only crystal balls didn’t have the habit of lighting up in his presence.

Magic isn’t real, right? Kate is about to find out otherwise . . .


Free

Brad White would be an ordinary accountant with an unrequited crush except for two things: he works for a criminal motorcycle club, and he’s in love with the club president’s daughter. When she discovers the truth about the family business, Brad has to move beyond ordinary and put his life on the line to keep her safe.

Wren Masters, unlike everyone else in her graduating class, chose to stay in Fallow, Montana because, also unlike everyone else, she loves it. But when she finds out her father’s club is running drugs, her family and world crumble. She and Brad risk everything to uncover the truth . . . and begin a scorching affair.

As the conspiracy—and their feelings—deepen, Brad and Wren must choose between family and justice. And neither seems to include a future for them.


Chariot of Desire

CJ Crespo, drummer for the once wildly popular rock band Donjon, has always had a thing for frontman Donny Times. They spent the seventies getting high together, making music together, self-destructing together. But her qualms about ruining a creative partnership with sex kept them from ever hooking up. Now, Donny’s conversion to a bizarre fringe religion that won’t allow him to engage in—or even sing about—sex, drugs, or other “sins” threatens to tear Donjon apart.

As the band struggles to embrace a new decade and a new Donny, CJ must decide where she belongs: by Donny’s side, even if he can’t ever love her? Or out there making her own music, away from a man who gives and takes in equal measures?


The Heart is a Universe

On the remote planet of Pax Cara lies the greatest secret of the universe. Once every generation, the inhabitants must offer up an exceptional young person—the Chosen One—who sacrifices his or her own life for the sake of that secret, and the planet itself.

However, Vitalis, the current Chosen One, is desperate to free herself from the yoke of destiny. An unexpected invitation to an aristocratic summit seems to be the perfect opportunity for escape. But almost as soon as she arrives, the most eligible prince in existence proposes marriage.

Sparks fly, but Vitalis is wary. Eleian of Terra Illustrata can have any woman he wants. Why has he set his sight on Vitalis, who, unless she manages to flee, will die in sixteen days? Is he hiding an ulterior motive, one that could put everything in jeopardy—her plans, her life, and her heart?



About the book, from the introduction:


We all have auto-buy authors, but what is the promise made by the name on the book cover? Is it about voice? About a certain type of story? About how reading it will make you feel?

If we took that name away, would you even still recognize it?

That question is where Sight Unseen began: gather five authors, publish an anthology in which each novella is anonymous, and see if readers can correctly connect the stories with the authors.

The concept didn’t stop there because once you remove the name from the story, it’s free in a way other writing isn’t. There’s no brand to worry about, no expectations to meet. The writing has to stand by itself.

The project took on a life of its own, becoming an experiment wrapped in a puzzle. It offered a space to play for authors and a game for readers, but it raises questions for all of us about how brand and marketing shape books, how we read, and what we think we like.

Because it would be maddening to never learn who wrote what, Sight Unseen comes with an end date. Three months after release, the authors of the stories collected here will be revealed. But in the meantime, we offer five intriguingly different stories. Each is unsigned, but also smart, sexy, offbeat, and most importantly, surprising.

Let the speculation begin.



**Use hashtag #SUwho to follow in the fun of guessing which author wrote what!**



About the Authors:


Emma Barry

Emma Barry is a novelist, full-time mama, and recovering academic. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves hugs from her twins, her husband’s cooking, her cat’s whiskers, her dog’s tail, and Earl Grey tea. You can find her on the web at www.authoremmabarry.com.


Meredith Duran

Meredith Duran is the author of eleven novels, all published by Pocket Books. Her debut, The Duke of Shadows, has been translated into thirteen languages and together with her sophomore book, Bound by Your Touch, was ranked among the top 100 romances of all time in the 2010 All About Romance poll. Her other books include RITA award winner Fool Me Twice; Wicked Becomes You, which was included on Woman's World list of Best Beach Reads for Summer 2010; and her February 2017 release, A Lady's Code of Misconduct, which both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly called “flawlessly executed” in their starred reviews.

Meredith blames Anne Boleyn for sparking her lifelong obsession with British history, and for convincing her that princely love is no prize if it doesn’t come with a happily-ever-after. When not writing, Meredith enjoys collecting old etiquette manuals, guidebooks to nineteenth century London, and travelogues by intrepid Victorian women.

Connect with Meredith at MeredithDuran.com.


J.A. Rock

J.A. Rock is the author or coauthor of over twenty LGBTQ romance, suspense, and horror novels, as well as an occasional contributor to HuffPo Queer Voices. J.A. has received Lambda Literary and INDIEFAB Award nominations for Minotaur, and The Subs Club received the 2016 National Leather Association-International Pauline Reage Novel Award. J.A. lives in Chicago with an extremely judgmental dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.



Erin Satie

Erin Satie is the author of the dark and elegant No Better Angels series, historical romances set in the early Victorian period. She’s currently hard at work on her upcoming series, Sweetness & Light, which should be just as elegant but not quite so dark.

Erin is a California native who’s lived on the coasts and in the heartland, in tiny city apartments and on a working farm. She studied art history in both college and graduate school—research is always her favorite part of starting a new book.

Her favorite part of finishing a book, whether reading or writing, is the happily ever after.



Sherry Thomas

USA Today-bestselling author Sherry Thomas loves intricate plots, explosive action, and combustible love stories. She has written romance, fantasy, mystery, and a wuxia-inspired duology. Her books regularly receive starred reviews and best-of-the-year honors from trade publications, including such outlets as the New York Times and National Public Radio. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award.

And by the way, English is her second language.

You can find out more about Sherry’s books at SherryThomas.com.




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Jun 5, 2017

Review: THE CONFESSIONS: An Original Sinners Collection by Tiffany Reisz


Three Sinners. Three confessions. And all the dirty little secrets you could possibly desire...

Father Stuart Ballard has been Marcus Stearns' confessor since the young Jesuit was only eighteen years old. He thought he'd heard every sin the boy had to confess until Marcus uttered those three fateful words: "I met Eleanor."

So begins the 40-page "The Confession of Marcus Stearns," a moving coda to the RITA Award-winning Original Sinners series. Originally published as a limited-edition paperback for the 2014 RT Booklovers' Convention, and available worldwide for the first time.

This collection also includes "The Confession of Eleanor Schreiber," a companion 36-page story written exclusively for The Confessions.

And, finally, all secrets are revealed in "The Confession of Tiffany Reisz," an exclusive, in-depth interview.
 







If I were asked to name my favorite book, I'd say it was impossible to only pick one. But naming my favorite series, well, that's another story. It's The Original Sinners, without a doubt. Yet, sometimes I forget how much I loved ignoring the world and focusing all my attention on these Sinners. It's fortunate that Tiffany Reisz still likes writing about them, so even if the series technically ended in 2015, I haven't had to say a real goodbye to it. Nor do I want to. I know in 2015 I naively thought I was ready for the series to come to an end, but I now know differently. That's why reading the third confession in this collection gave me hope there would be new Original Sinners stories, perhaps even novels. Whether they'll be about the same characters or about the next generation, I don't care. I just want more.

I've had this collection for a while now, saving it for a time when I could give it my full attention. After reading The Red, when that OS nostalgia kicked in, I knew it was time to read it. Now, because of those two books, I'm reading The Siren for the third time, and loving it. There are books I read a while ago, that I don't think would be as much to my liking as they were in the past, but The Siren isn't one of them. If anything, it's even better now than when I read it back in 2013. Oh, 2013, the year I read The Siren for the first time and went to Goodreads to rate it. I debated between 4 and 5 stars, and it was like Søren was looking over my shoulder warning me to choose carefully. I went with 5, just to rid myself of that unnerving feeling. Reading the fun facts about Søren reminded me of this; the one where he made Tiffany change the ending of The Siren, to be exact.

What's also mentioned in the interview is that Kingsley was supposed to be only a minor character in the series. I already knew this, but, damn, it made me shudder with horror all the same. The Original Sinners without the King? No, I will not entertain that thought for a second. Whatever happened to give Kingsley his rightful part in the books, I'm grateful for it.

Those were just a few things that came up in the interview with Tiffany Reisz. There was much more, and I enjoyed the discussion about the series and the characters.

Now, the characters in The Confessions: Søren, Nora, and Father Ballard who heard their confessions. It was good to meet Father Ballard. He was an incredibly open-minded priest. I loved both him and reading about Søren and Nora from his perspective.

The topic of Søren's confession was more or less familiar: Eleanor. They'd just met, and Søren was...conflicted? He was sexually pursued by a sixteen-year-old girl. Sounds funny, and so very Nora. What I took from this story, though, were some bits and pieces about Søren's past I hadn't known. So many books later, and there's still so much to learn about him. I like how it let me understand him more, and his actions, but I also kind of hated it for that same reason. I much prefer being pissed at him. That is why one of the reasons I liked Ballard was that he gave Søren a hard time.

Nora's confession came many years after Søren's. I didn't know what hers would be about, and even if I had tried to guess, this wouldn't have been it. I was surprised, but at the same time, it made sense. Her confession would be a good read for those who, because of Nora, have had their reservations about Grace and Søren having Fionn. She confessed her feelings about that and some other things to Father Ballard. He made an accurate statement: Nora and Søren have a complicated relationship with Zach and Grace, and Nora made another: that was the understatement of the century.

After reading all eight novels, all the novellas, and almost all of the short stories, I can safely say I like these shorter works almost as much as the long ones. In the novels there was so much going on and fast, which made them unputdownable. In rushing to find out what had happened next, it was easy to miss some little things. The novellas and short stories had a slower pace. In them the characters were either having kinky fun, or discussing some important events in their lives, but mostly both. Reading these extra stories was quite helpful in getting to know the Sinners better, especially at the time when not even all the Red Years books were out. I've always gotten more than I expected from these stories. I'm keeping my fingers crossed Tiffany Reisz never stops writing them.

Until next time, happy reading! 


XOXO,
 






Jun 1, 2017

ARC Review: ALL THE SECRETS WE KEEP (Quarry Road, #2) by Megan Hart

In the riveting conclusion to Megan Hart’s passionate new family drama, the secrets they keep are no match for the truths their hearts will never let go.

Still stuck in his small Central Pennsylvania hometown, Ilya Stern is used to feeling like a disappointment. After his high school girlfriend, Jennilynn, drowned, he married her sister, Alicia, only to divorce a decade later. The business they started together is threatened by a luxury development—and Alicia has already sold her stake. Now that Babulya, Ilya’s gentle Russian grandmother, has died, there’s no one left who believes in him. Or so he thinks.

Theresa Malone was Ilya’s stepsister for only a year, until his mother threw her pill-popping father out of the house in the middle of the night, forcing teenage Theresa to follow. Now she’s returned for Babulya’s funeral—and to facilitate the quarry-development deal. As she tries to convince Ilya to sell, she realizes her feelings for him have ignited—from sisterly into something more.

Working together closely, Ilya and Theresa struggle to define their intense attraction. When the details of Jennilynn’s death surface, will Ilya and Theresa’s deep connection keep their hope for the future afloat—or submerge them once and forever in their tragic past?
 








I liked this book even more than All the Lies We Tell. Was I surprised? Definitely. I was sure Ilya and Theresa's story couldn't match Alicia and Niko's, but I was wrong. It was one of those rare occasions I was glad to be wrong.

All the Secrets We Tell is the continuation of the Harrison-Stern-Malone family drama, and its conclusion. Like its predecessor, it has multiple POVs, but most of it is focused on Ilya and Theresa. Ilya, Alicia's ex-husband who after the first book hadn't left the impression of being a mature man or that he had been an exemplary husband to Alicia, is the reason I expected this book wouldn't be as good as the first one, even though at the end of All the Lies We Tell he was the wisest of them all. I was pleasantly surprised by his character and by how much I enjoyed reading his chapters. There was a lot to like about him. He wormed himself into my heart, as did Theresa. In book one, I found Theresa secretive. I was suspicious of her, and I was wrong about her too. Theresa's secrets were nowhere near as sinister as I had imagined. Her misfortune made me feel sorry for her, but her strength made me admire her. Together they were so cute, Ilya especially. They brought out the good in each other. I smiled a lot while I was reading about them.

I found this book to be lighter than the previous one, most likely because Alicia and Niko had found each other after all those years, so it was two characters less that needed to find their happy new beginning, and they were recovering from the death of Ilya and Niko's grandmother. Not only that, Ilya and Theresa found a way to honor Babulya in their new business endeavor. What was still hanging above them like a dark cloud was Jenni's tragic death, but even that cloud was slowly moving away. Like in the first book, there were flashbacks to the time surrounding her death many years ago, giving some clues as to what was really happening with her at that time. Truth would come from unexpected people, that is if they are to be believed. Her death had affected the lives of all of them in so many bad ways, but Babulya's brought them back together. They finally found their way to where they belonged. They were four people with a complicated past, and they may have been odd couples what with Niko being Alicia's ex-brother-in-law, and Theresa being Ilya's ex-stepsister, but they worked.
A lot had happened over the past year. Loss, renewal, beginnings, endings. Most of all, though, love. They'd all found love.

As always, Megan Hart's storytelling was amazing. I reread a lot of parts because she writes so beautifully. That and the interesting and complex story of the families on Quarry Street make this duology a hit in my book.


***ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

My review of All the Lies We Tell can be found here.


Until next time, happy reading!


XOXO,
 






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