December 30, 2012

Gush and Gripe #12

Special Edition

For some reason I got addicted to this holiday drink this year. Been guzzling this creamy concoction since before Thanksgiving. 

This has been my fruit of choice lately. I've went beyond guacamole and have experimented with different salads and dishes where I can add Avocados to the list of ingredients. 

My guilty pleasure! 

Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri
I couldn't care less about their renovations. I record their shows just so I can drool over them and their talented hands, big guns and sexy bodies and imagine myself in a hunky Italian Cousin Samitch.

I can't explain it but there's something romantic obsessions a la Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct that excites me lately. I get a high from the nail-biting heart-pounding excitement of it all.

This is the only show where I shamelessly fangirl! And since I can't go and visit the real abbey, Highclere Castle in Newbury UK, I instead went to Biltmore Mansion in North Carolina last Spring with my sister and Cimmaron. 

Some credit E.L. James for their penchant for BDSM/Erotica, mine would be Tiffany Reisz. She's my personal Anne Rice of the 21st century and like my other idol, I lap each and every story I can get written by The Mistress.

Despite breaking two previous Kindle Fires this year (third time's hopefully the charm), I still love my Fire. It changed my reading experience and made reading those egalleys easier. 

DNF Second Edition

It's those books where I feel like my copy was different from everybody else's because no matter how hard I tried, 
I. Can't. Finish. It!


I never thought I'd ever DNF a J.K. Rowling book! I've read a lot of reviews and it wasn't all good so I mentally prepared myself before I dove in and read it. I know it's nothing like Harry Potter and I can't even compare so I trusted on Ms. Rowlings skill with the pen to whisk me away to Pagford. 

The book is long-ish at 500 pages more or less. The book is like peeling an onion and it became too painful I can't take it any longer. It took me TWO DAYS to read 100 pages. Not only are there a lot of characters but it seems Rowling took her time in revealing her plot. So I quit at page 125.

CASUAL VACANCY is like a physical challenge to me and only the true Rowling loyalists are worthy enough to appreciate the "eloquence" of the book.  

Nothing about VENOM really worked for me. When I see "Renaissance Italy" I think overindulgent clergy, promiscuous Contessas, tyrannical Princes and genius artists. Historically speaking, I think this period in our history skipped YOUNG ADULT altogether. The daughters of well-to-do families, like Cassandra, are carted & married off to the highest bidder as soon as puberty hit, sometimes even before, girls lose their V-cards around the same time they start their menses. So yeah, a YA Renaissance book is truly a work of fiction and a little tricky to sell if you ask me. 

As for the murder-mystery, FPaul took her time in dishing out Venom, I stopped at page 100 because it was starting to feel a drag. I was getting impatient and I don't really want to read about Cass and the parties she attends, her spoiled rich friends, her timid and boring maid and her forbidden late-night trysts with the starving artist Falco. At this point a courtesan died, a dead countessa's body is missing and someone has been abducted. No VENMON yet. I've read my share of thrillers and if you're playing with that flavor at least make the stings successive, looming, throbbing and personally threatening. Paul's "clues" were lacking at this point which is the reason why I gave up on it early on. VENOM is a historical romantic suspense thriller so dish the suspense and thrill me

This book isn't for me obviously. I guess I was expecting something else so don't take this review at face value. I'm sure some of you will end up loving it, just don't shoot me for not liking this book if you do.

I first read the teaser from Amazon and I really liked the premise but as the story moved forward, I found myself losing interest in the story. Try as I might I can't find it in me to connect to any of the characters. Jay is too suave, I see him as this oily, up to no good scoundrel who thinks he's so cool. And Isobel, your husband is obviously not in to you so why wallow and debase yourself with Jay? Either you get out or you try and fix it. Don't stay in the middle.

I guess I'll never really find out Barry's objective or the point of the story because the road towards the end is challenging for me as a reader. I suppose I'm suppose to feel the lure of Jay's world and the freedom it offers Isobel but there was something "off" about the whole thing that reading it has become a chore.

I didn't even bother to look at the details of this book, my impulse responded to the catchy title BEAUTIFUL BASTARD. It sounds so forbidding.

Well forbidding is an apt word because if it were up to me, I'd forbid this to ever hit the shelves. I am not versed in Twilight fanfic and I believe Christina Lauren is Simon & Schuster's answer to E.L. James as both of them have hit publishing pay dirt from their Twilight fanfic. 


Lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place. 

This saying is so true and IMO, very applicable to BEAUTIFUL BASTARD. I am not sure if Gallery books is selling this book as erotica or a parody like Fifty Shades of Earl Grey. I was taken off guard because my copy is uncorrected and I've read a lot of uncorrected works but BEAUTIFUL BASTARD takes the cake. It's feels like Christina Lauren just copy/pasted their posts from whatever forum they initially posted the story at without even bothering to edit the thing and I'm not even talking about typographical errors and such.

I HOPE and PRAY that one of Gallery Books' top editors will be assigned to work with this author make the necessary changes to make the story engaging and intelligent. This book needs more plot and less sex. It'll be a joke to send this story to the presses and have it sitting on the shelves of bookstores where gullible consumers are bound to waste their money on a pretty cover and a bad story. Readers deserve more than this.

December 27, 2012

Review: Heavy Issues by Elle Aycart

Series: Bowen 2
Format: Digital (from Elle)
Release Date: May 29, 2012
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

Steering clear of relationships has never been difficult for demolitions expert Cole Bowen, but now, with his brother's engagement sending the female population into full-blown hysterics and the town of Alden's month-long festivities helping along, he finds himself in hell. When he discovers Alden's new resident and the object of all his wet dreams, Christine Sheridan, has sworn off relationships and is going to hire a gigolo to get professionally laid, he decides to kill two birds with one stone.

Christy is so not drinking again. Thanks to José Cuervo she has her friends signing her up for stud conventions and Cole frigging Bowen offering sex in exchange of fake dates, which is so out of the question it isn't even funny. She knows the domineering man will push her boundaries, and after battling all her life with self-esteem issues, she isn't ready for that. Too bad he won't take no for an answer.

Cole is determined to strip away all of her defenses but refuses to lower his ever-present walls, so when Christy realizes she wants more, she's left with only two options; walk away or crack his shield and risk her heart in the process.

Like its predecessor More than Meets the Ink, HEAVY ISSUES by Elle Aycart will set your panties on fire! No wonder the women of Alden are going gaga over the Bowen brothers! Not only are these men tall, dark, Catholic ex-Marines, they are very skilled in bed to boot! The story is, Christy Sheridan is on the rebound, calling off her engagement after she caught her ex-fiance in a very compromising position with her neighbor. She then swears off relationships and in a drunken haze, vows to hire a stud to satisfy her sexual needs. Enter Cole Bowen, this brother has commitment issues and is the perfect candidate to Christy's endeavor. What started as a mutually satisfying arrangement turned into a very sexy love story that is sure to give you butterflies! 
I'll get you properly laid, in exchange you'll pretend to be going out with me.
HEAVY ISSUES is your usual boy-meets-girl story with an awkward start spiked with tightly coiled sexual tension. Cole Bowen, like his brother James, is swoon worthy. Cole is every girl's dream, very attentive and appreciative of Christy's assests plus he's wrapped in a very pretty package begging to be laid bare. The things he says will make any woman's heart melt and their knickers very wet. He has a way of saying things in a very straightforward manner while managing  to make it sound sexy and inviting. And as an added bonus Cole's a kinky bastard too!

Rocking Cole's crotch and the naughty librarian look is Christy Sheridan. She sounded fun at first but later on she started getting on my nerves. The woman has serious image issues and her relationship with food was annoying. Now I understand why some men find ladies who are overly conscious about their looks, weight and diet a turn-off. Christy sure bored me with her incessant whining about how fat she used to be, how fat she still feels, her stretch marks, treating sugar and carbs like its the devil and other food pre-requisites. The man is so turned-on by you, girl, go with the flow and stop obsessing over your weight issues! I'd kill for a guy who likes to grab on to my curves and calls them soft instead of lumpy. Psh!
You are my woman. You belong tome. No one else f*cks you. No one else touches you. No one else f*cking swipes beer from your chin. Get me?
For readers who love fun, contemporary, sexy tales, HEAVY ISSUES is a recommended read for you. Cole and Sheridan will have you fanning yourselves with their scorching hot encounters and Cole Bowen will surely steal your hearts.

Tour Stop Review: I Want That One by Paige E. Roberts

Series: I Want That One
Format: Digital
Release Date:
Purchase: Freya's Bower | Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

Lady Jane wants Will, for her slave, and she'll pay a high price to get him. Will dreams of a life under Jane's spike heels, but in the future city-state of New York, it's illegal to enslave a free man. Jane, once a notorious hacker, now a network security consultant, isn't used to letting a little thing like the law keep her from getting what she wants. When a bound and naked Will is delivered to her kitchen door, she takes great pleasure in using leather cat and cuffs and cruel penetrating sex games to tame him. But Will must give up everything to prove his loyalty to her before he can take his rightful place forever kneeling at her perfect feet.

Warning: This book may contain graphic sexual material and/profanity and is not meant to be read by any person under the age of 18.

December 26, 2012

Review: DreamKiller The Complete Saga by Heather Hildenbrand

Series: DreamKiller 
Format: Digital (from Heather)
Release Date:
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble  

They call her the DreamKiller.

Silent, stealthy, and above all, accurate, as long as she carries out exactly what her dreams predict. Marlena Gormand kills to protect. Herself. Her way of life. The children at Little Hearts Orphanage. Until she learns these are not the reasons she’s been asked to kill. Not at all.

Azura Mkesky is the headmistress of Little Hearts Orphanage and the only parent-figure Marlena remembers. Azura taught Marlena everything she knows, from her combat skills to her unswerving loyalty to their cause. And Azura has always been there for her. But Azura has a secret. One that she’s used and manipulated Marlena and everyone else in order to protect. 

Lukas Hristov knows Azura’s heart is dark—from both personal experience and the visions provided by his Sight. For too long, he’s stood aside while Azura’s reach of power and deception expands. When he can take it no longer and emerges from the shadows, he comes face to face with Marlena. For him, she is where it began. And she is where it ends. He is determined to make this right, to make her believe the truth.

And as the story unravels, Marlena begins to question whose secrets her dreams really protect.

I've read books 1 and 2 of The Specials series by Heather Hildenbrand early this year and it reminded me of the movies X-Men and Wanted what with a bunch of kids trained to become assassins armed special powers and the heroine, Marlena, is able to walk our dreams and kill us in  our dreamscape. Clean and deadly. As Marlena's fast becoming the group's number 1 assassin, she discovers that their headmistress, Azura, has been using her for personal gain and was the person responsible for her father's death. So I left Marlena in book 2, Fight or Flight,  defecting from the organization and recruiting supporters to help her shut Azura down. 

After the long wait finally the end is here and it was epic! I appreciate that HHildenbrand decided to compile all three stories because the first two were painfully short for a high velocity story. So future readers, you guys are lucky because you don't have to suffer through eight months like I did to see how everything is going down. 

"And would you kill her [Azura]? If it came to that?"
"I will do what I must to protect the children."

Purchase at Amazon
Going back to the story, I picked up at The Summoning, the last chapter of this short series and it's the conclusion of the saga. With a couple of glitches, Marlena managed to convince some of her fellow Specials that Azura is the enemy, using their organization like her personal goon squad ordering hits on people who don't deserve to die. Eventually Marlena finally had come face to face with Azura and all I can say is that their face-off was spectacular! My lust for blood and retribution was sated because Marlena showed Azura no mercy. A little cold blooded I know but Azura raised a great assassin in Marlena and the latter made use of her special skill set to the hilt. 

It ended happily with Little Hearts Orphanage back in order and the bad guys put away. The saga had an open-ending though and I'm not sure if HHildenbrand is planning to do a spin-off or if it's just meant to tease us. Just the same it got me thinking if there'll be more Specials stories in the future...

December 24, 2012

Girl Crush Mondays: Valerie Dearborn

Valerie Dearborn

So I've managed to track down Valerie after my tantrum. It took some time, Roanoke is a pretty scary place to go hunting for someone a lot of people are after. Good thing I got to her first before the others did.

Braine: Hi Valerie! Glad you could join us today. How are you?

Valerie: I’ve been better, thanks for asking. People keep trying to kill me, everyone seems to have some snarky remark, and I’m pretty sure things are about to get worse. But it’s nothing a long bath and a quart of tequila can’t solve. Heh heh. So where is it? I thought you said there would be drinks at this interview. (Valerie looks around with a scowl)

Braine: *hands Valerie a cup of eggnog* Here you go! Cheers! So you're an empath and we have a fair idea of what empaths are, it must be overwhelming sometimes. How are you coping with the "amplified" feelings? 

Valerie: I didn’t know squat about empaths. I just grew up hunting vampires and desperately wanting to bone Jack, my father’s apprentice. The first I ever heard about being an empath was from Lucas (super hot, super shady, probably super evil vampire). Vampires lose emotions over time and Lucas is really old, so he’s been pretty bored for a while now. Everyone thought that empaths were extinct so when I turned up, the idea of drinking from an empath and having feelings again was something that Lucas wanted. Although he also thought about killing me. I guess that’s the kind of effect I have on people :/
Braine: Do you have a better mastery of things now?

Valerie: I haven’t even mastered my remote! I joked at one point that being an empath seemed to just make me want to bone vampires. I’m pretty sure that’s still true. If I wasn’t an empath, Lucas would’ve left me alone and I’d still be in London studying and hooking up with cute English boys.

Braine: How are things with the boys, Jack and Lucas? Have you seen any of them lately?

Valerie: Ahem. If you mean ‘seen’ as in said hello to and talked to, well yes. If you mean ‘seen’ like naked slept with…Well, I guess the answer is still yes. But I’m currently done with men. Until 2015.

Braine: *mutters* I highly doubt that... I have to say I'm Team Jack and don't hate me but "you only get what you give" when things turned shitty in Roanoke. For the life of me I can't understand why you threw Jack, your first love, mate, partner, under the bus like that? And for a dead and cold guy like Lucas of all people... or non human?! (Sorry I have to vent) Why Valerie, why?!

Valerie: (Big sigh.) Love is a complicated thing. Desire is a hot thing. And Jack was being a douche. I guess I just came a point in my life where I realized that no matter what I did, I wasn’t going to be the woman who would make him lose control. Who he would open up to and be vulnerable with. Lucas isn’t trustworthy, he certainly isn’t the sort of dude you settle down with....But I can make him lose control. And maybe it makes me a terrible person, but I like that.

Braine: In fairness, your affair with Lucas is scorching hot! I was half afraid you'd get dehydrated at some point keeping up with that Vampire. Whew!

Valerie: Uh, Yeah. I’m pretty sure we shouldn’t be talking about this. I think we both thought it would be sex, hot and sweaty but not emotional. But it became something more than that. It wasn’t as pretty as love, and there was certainly a moment or two where I thought he’d snap and drink me dry, but here I am.

Braine: Have you seen Rachel lately? Are you getting her something this Christmas?

Valerie: That bitch! I want to go Garfield on her ass. Put her in a box marked for Abu Dhabi and then when they open it up in the blinding sun she can die a slow and painful death.

Braine: Garfield her ass? ROFL That's a good one. So what have you been up to aside from tending to the hustle and bustle of the season?

Valerie: Just the same old, same old. Trying not to get eaten by vampires, trying to figure out who I can trust. Now the Fey are involved, and that Cerdwellyn’s a shady cat. I think. He keeps telling me how evil Lucas is, and swearing that he can tell me the truth. I guess I’m worried it’s too good to be true.

Braine: Any plans this holiday? Shopped for gifts? Maybe you should get Jack a good razor... too soon? :P

Valerie: You mean because he is now a werewolf? Yeah, too soon. If it’s a choice between a razor and pooper- scooper bags I know which one I’ll pick, but no, I don’t think I’ll be getting him any presents this year.

Braine: A pooper-scooper! You should give Rachel that since Jack is her mutt now. Still not over that btw.


Childhood memory: sneaking out in the middle of the night to meet friends when I was a teenager. I didn’t have that many opportunities to be rebellious, so I look back at them fondly.

Hot drink: a tall two pump Mocha at Starbucks with light whip. It’s just right. It’s perfect for that 3 PM slump.

Holiday dish: I like Egg Nog and Mulled Wine. You can really only drink them for one month out of the year, and once December is over, I’m ready to wait another eleven months.

Christmas song: Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. And I wish that someone would fine Paul McCartney every time they play ‘Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas’ at the store.

Holiday tradition: My mom and I used to make cookies on Christmas Eve. That’s one of my really clear memories of her. For a while, Jack and I did that too. Now I just stock up on Girl Scouts and watch A Christmas Story four times in a row.

Caroline Hanson grew up in California and moved to London in order to dance and go to pubs. Eventually, she matured enough to marry and imported an Englishman, returning to the United States.

After passing the bar, she had two children and now tries to parent, read, write and play tennis. She's heard rumors that other mothers clean and cook but is putting in serious effort to make sure those rumors don't reach her family.

Caroline grew up listening to Brit pop and reading about vampires. As a teenager her favorite authors were Anne Rice and Jude Deveraux. Now she loves Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Laura Kinsale, Lisa Kleypas, Loretta Chase, Nalini Singh and JR Ward-- that's the short list.

She is also the proud owner of a WWJD t-shirt, (What Would Joss do?) which she hopes is apparent in her books.

Stalk Caroline

If you love a classic PNR/UF series I'm sure you'll fall in love with Valerie Dearborn's series.

December 23, 2012

Tour Stop Review + Giveaway: A Song for Julia by Charles Sheehan-Miles

Series: Thomspon Sisters 2
Format: Digital
Release Date: December 5, 2012

Tour hosted by Author's Angels
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

Everyone should have something to rebel against.

Crank Wilson left his South Boston home at sixteen to start a punk band and burn out his rage at the world. Six years later, he’s still at odds with his father, a Boston cop, and doesn’t ever speak to his mother. The only relationship that really matters is with his younger brother, but watching out for Sean can be a full-time job. The one thing Crank wants in life is to be left the hell alone to write his music and drive his band to success.

Julia Thompson left a secret behind in Beijing that exploded into scandal in Washington, DC, threatening her father's career and dominating her family's life. Now, in her senior year at Harvard, she's haunted by a voice from her past and refuses to ever lose control of her emotions again, especially when it comes to a guy.

When Julia and Crank meet at an anti-war protest in Washington in the fall of 2002, the connection between them is so powerful it threatens to tear everything apart.

Is there any hope for a future between a pit rat and a Harvard Girl?
And that, my friends, is one of the many reasons why I am not as studious as, Cimmaron, in reading these blasted New Adult stories. The ones that I might find truly interesting turn me into a big ball of snot and tears and I don't think my tear ducts can handle the pressure! The stories are  so emotionally familiar to me and Crank and Julia's are no different.... hence the ugly cry.

So the blurb covers what A SONG FOR JULIA is about, you have a young couple with messed up family backgrounds that pretty much screwed them up and their view in life especially relationships. Crank's family life has been overwhelmed by his brother's Asperger's disease while Julia's overbearing mother is more concerned about appearances than her family's well-being. Each of their back stories are compelling and heartbreaking in different degrees and it was a challenge to keep the tears from flowing. 
"I want you to be serious about me," he said." I can get a girl to sleep with me any time. but there's something different about you."
A SONG FOR JULIA's main theme is how two people who belong in contrasting worlds found a common ground and connected. Crank is your typical rebel, womanizing punk-rocker while Julia is the preppy diplobrat commitment-phobe girl. They're so different and yet so similar which makes their story so emotionally charged. The romantic conflicts between these two isn't as exasperating as some of the more adult romance novels I've read, instead it felt natural, their demands and hesitations are sensible and I love that Charles Sheehan-Miles didn't sensationalize the emotional conflict for the sake of drama. There are a  lot of powerful dialogue and scenes in the story which explains my ugly cry, I'm just glad it was already late when I got to that part so nobody saw me breakdown over these two!

Charles Sheehan-Miles has a great storytelling voice, the story is romantic but not cheesy, it's honest in a matter-of-fact way. A SONG FOR JULIA isn't just about romantic relationships, the characters and situations are grounded on familial relationships and it blossomed from there. The story has a lot of layers which made the characters fleshed-out and relatable to many of us. This is a story that New Adult followers will surely love, heck it probably made a follower out of me and I approach this genre with much trepidation.
Sometimes things aren't what they appear. We all have hurts that we don't show.

NOTE: A SONG FOR JULIA is part of a series about the Thompson sisters. The first one is Just Remember to Breathe which is Alex's tale, Julia's sister. But you don't have to read it in order. JRB is set in the present while ASFJ is set in 2002 so you won't get lost in the flow of the story.

Charles is giving away a $250 Amazon gift card - this winner will be chosen from all of the commenters throughout the tour by Rafflecopter and announced on 12/26.

Early Review: Sealed With A Curse by Cecy Robson

Series: The Weird Girls 1
Format: ARC (NetGalley)
Release Date: December 31, 2012
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 

Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls-with one tiny exception: they're products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, weird...

The Wird sisters are content to avoid the local vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region-until one of them blows up a vampire in self- defense. Everyone knows vampires aren't aggressive, and killing one is punishable by death. But soon more bloodlust- fueled attacks occur, and the community wonders: are the vampires of Tahoe cursed with a plague?

Celia reluctantly agrees to help Misha, the handsome leader of an infected vampire family. But Aric, the head of the werewolf pack determined to destroy Misha's family to keep the region safe, warns Celia to stay out of the fight. Caught between two hot alphas, Celia must find a way to please everyone, save everyone, and oh yeah, not lose her heart to the wrong guy-or die a miserable death. Because now that the evil behind the plague knows who Celia is, it's coming for her and her sisters. This Wird girl has never had it so tough.

SEALED WITH A CURSE by Cecy Robson, the first full-length novel in her debut Urban Fantasy series, The Weird Girls, is extra special to me with cherry on top because the Wird sisters are all nurses! My sister is a nurse so that little character tidbit alone made the story more endearing and very special to me.

Back to the story. The blurb pretty much covers the plot and aside from the badassery these "cursed" sisters provide, I honestly didn't expect the story to be funny! Cecy has a wicked sense of humor varying from dry to outright comedic! It took me off guard because The Weird Girls Novella, though fantastic, didn't display the same level of silly and acerbic banter the sisters shared in SEALED WITH A CURSE. Taran in particular had me guffawing out loud with her outrageous and haughty responses. I can't wait for this girl's book to come out!

And when there's a bunch of cute girls, the hot guys aren't far behind. The men are simply divine! Misha is Eric-Northman hot and Aric and the rest of his were pack are drop-dead gorgeous. I seriously had butterflies whenever these guys are in the scene. What stood out the most was Celia and Aric's close encounter outside the club, sure it may sound typical and probably even cheesy but the way Cecy described it, time standing still and intense eye contact just had me clutching my ereader tight coupled with a velvety warm feeling in my belly followed by a loud EEEEE! Call me a hopeless romantic but it was hella good! Add Celia's careful flirting and it was chocolate-y all the way! Aric is yummy, like melt-in-your-mouth-good-as-truffles yummy...

And true to its Urban Fantasy flavor, SEALED WITH A CURSE has a lot of magic, ass kicking and door busting scenes. The story is pumped with adrenalin plus with four sisters sharing the limelight, the story is far from stale and boring. Each sister has her own personality: Shayna has the surfer attitude; Emme is as sweet as honey; Taran the diva; and Celia the indomitable big sister. None of these girls are cookie-cutter supers too, I have to admit I was a little skeptical that their abilities sound a little comic-book-RPG at first but Cecy's outside-the-box approach really worked in her favor. These sisters are incomparable and reading their stories is beyond entertaining I can't wait for book 2, A Cursed Embrace (June 2013), to come out.

So if you're tired of the usual Urban Fantasy story with vampires, witches, weres and hunters, give SEALED WITH A CURSE a gander. I'm betting my balls you'll love it!

Favorite Taran Quotes:

Screw that, Celia. I'll go. It's my fault we're here. Besides, my badass shields will protect me from that fashion emergency.

I'm not having the Prince of Darkness for a brother-in-law--no matter how hot he is.

The hell she can't Let me spell this out for you. Celia is not birthin' no babies with fangs.

Saving the world sucks donkey balls!

December 22, 2012

Early Review: Gilded by Karina Cooper

Series: The St. Croix Chronicles 2
Format: Egalley (Edelweiss)
Release Date: December 26, 2012
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 

In the gleaming heights of Victorian London, a world of deception awaits an unconventional Society lady whose taste for adventure makes her a most formidable adversary . . .

Though Society demands that I make a good marriage, I, Cherry St. Croix, have neither the time nor the interest. I am on the trail of a murder with no victim, a mystery with no motive, and the key to an alchemical formula that could be my family's legacy.

Yet the world is not so kind as to let me pursue simple murder and uncomplicated bounties. Above the foggy drift, an earl insists on my attention, while my friends watch my increasingly desperate attempts to remain my own woman. From the silken demands of the Midnight Menagerie—to whose dangerously seductive ringmaster I owe a debt—to the rigorous pressures of the peerage, all are conspiring to place before me a choice that will forever change my life.


I'm used to high-powered, adrenalin-induced adventures associated with Steampunk but Karina Cooper managed to squeeze in emotionally charged to her latest novel, GILDED, book two of Cherry St. Croix's Chronicles. 

GILDED marked a major turning point in Cherry's life. I wouldn't necessary call it hitting bottom but from the looks of things, the world as Cherry knows it isn't the same anymore. As if being in debt to the notorious Karakash Veil and having your own father almost murder you to revive your own mother isn't enough, Cherry unknowingly handed over her life to her greatest nemesis, the Marchioness of Northampton.
You are the one weakness I will allow myself. [Cornelius]
GILDED has a lot of fun things in it. Jack the Ripper is mincing prostitutes in the streets of London. Then you have another murderer killing a bunch of University professors whose identity, Cherry, is trying to solve. However being a badass collector for the Veil is easy compared to being a socialite as Cherry endures one social mocking after the other. Her acceptance in the snobbish London elite within reach now because Cornelius Kerrigan Compton, Earl of Compton and the son of the Marchioness, asked for Cherry's hand in marriage! Cherry is hesitant but Micajah "Cage" Hawke, the sexy ringmaster of the Midnight Menagerie and the Veil's lieutenant of sorts, told Cherry that her debt will be paid once she marries the Earl. Win-win? Not quite. Tragedy struck and it seems HEA is not in Cherry's stars... yet.

GILDED had several scenes that really riled me up aside from the tragic ending KCooper dished out. Topping the list are those irritating tea parties and haughty balls the Marchioness of Northampton keeps on throwing and Cherry keeps on attending. I mean Cherry deals with street urchins and criminals on a nightly basis surely she can deal with a bunch of gossip mongering matronly socialites right?! Obviously Cherry's gadgets are useless against these titled vipers, she has to thicken her skin and sharpen her tongue to stop these women from harassing her. For the most part Cornelius was there to save her but usually Cherry has to suffer embarrassment first before she's whisked away by the dapper Earl.  
It will be you, Cherry St. Croix, or it will be no other, for I will not tie myself to a simpering maid with neither intellectual wit nor a thirst for life. [Cornelius]
Cage made himself sparse this time but Cherry's constant remembrance of that delicious drug-induced encounter he had with Cherry in Tarnished tidied me over a little bit. On those few scenes that he was in, I can feel the tension and his presence seems to leap off the pages... for me anyways, the man is so edible! Anyway, based on how GILDED ended, I don't think I'll be thirsting for Cage much longer because it's almost a guarantee that we'll be seeing a lot of him in the succeeding books. 

GILDED is a great sequel to the series. I love how KCooper didn't balk on killing her characters and breaking the "bottom" of several situations. Cherry now has to deal with a lot of personal conflicts and the array of overpowering emotions and situations before her will test not just her already fragile mental state but her person and tenacity. We are in for a ride when book 3 comes out, Cherry is in the fork of her road and even though she looks like she's already made a decision in the end, I'm pretty sure KCooper will twist and turn things first before she makes it better for our red haired heroine again. But for now, I'll be comforted with thoughts of Cage and the comeback Cherry is sure to give us in the next installment.

If you want to start the series, you're in luck because book 1,
is currently on sale at Amazon for only 99 cents!

December 21, 2012

A Very Horseman Wedding by Madeline Sheehan

A Very Horsemen Wedding
Deuce & Eva 
By Madeline Sheehan

Deuce wasn’t gonna lie. His hair pulled tightly back, dressed in his leathers, a clean white tee and his Horsemen cut, standing there in the middle of a mother fucking gazebo, decorated with mother fucking flowers, he felt damn uncomfortable. Didn’t help that Mick, Cox, and Ripper were laughing at him and standing across from them was Kami, Danny and Dorothy, all dressed in matching black dresses, also laughing at him.

Yeah, real fucking funny. Bet they wouldn’t think it was funny if he pulled out his glock and took out their knees. Except for Danny. He wouldn’t shoot his baby. Just glare at her until she ran away. Which she wouldn’t because she never did, because she wasn’t scared of him. His feisty little girl had her mother’s tough as nails personality. Funny that Danny being the way she was didn’t bother him in the least but her mother, his ex Christine, had irked him to no end.

Nostrils flaring, shifting uncomfortably, he glared at the minister, an older woman with long white hair, dressed in white and purple robes, smiling serenely back at him.

He caught himself before he growled at her.

Why the fuck was he getting married?


Because he sure as fuck fucked it up the last time. He didn’t know the first thing about how to be a…husband. All he knew, all he’d ever known was how to be a provider. To make sure the people he loved were safe, well fed and warm and in Danny’s case and now Eva and Ivy’s, spoiled shitless too. Although, he figured the giant shoe pile of chucks in his foyer was a pretty good tradeoff for the woman he had in his bed.

But a husband…

He didn’t do husband. What the fuck did husbands do anyway? He sure as hell didn’t do it right with Christine. She had wanted so much more from him then he’d been willing to give. Then he’d known how to give. She’d wanted to bend him to her will, own him even.

Aw, jesus…he couldn’t pretend to be someone he wasn’t. He couldn’t put a ring on Eva’s finger. He couldn’t fuck her up like he had Christine. Like he did everything.

“Prez,” Mick whispered, leaning over.

His head snapped left. “What?” He snarled.

Mick’s lips twitched. “Nothin’ Prez, just thought maybe you’d wanna watch your bitch walkin’ down the aisle.” Mick’s chin jerked left and his gaze followed.

And suddenly he didn’t give two fucks about how he was gonna fare as a husband or how many mistakes he was gonna make, which was gonna be a lot because, well…that was what he was best at.

No, he didn’t care about anything else in the world except for his woman, the sweetest kid he’d ever met, the smartest too, a kid who’d turned into the sexiest woman he’d ever seen, a woman who didn’t just love with her whole heart but with her body and soul, a woman who, time and time again, brought him to his fucking knees, had him praying to a god he didn’t believe in just so he could keep her by his side.

A woman whose mother-fucking smile made the world and life seem somewhat livable. Even worth it sometimes.

On the arm of Preacher, her old man, was his Eva. Her soft hair hung long in dark brown waves, her makeup was minimal and her dress was a simple, strapless white cotton sundress that hung to her knees. His gaze traveled down her silky smooth legs to her feet and his chest constricted. Black chucks. And not just any black chucks but her oldest pair. Ratty, doodled on, coming apart at the seams, the same one’s she’d been wearing the very first time he’d kissed her back when she’d been way too young for him and he’d lost complete control of himself and his better judgment.

Eva came to a stop at the bottom step of the gazebo and looked up at him, her big gray eyes shining, her juicy lips twitching something fierce, trying not to smile while Preacher straight up glared at him. He glared back. If her old man wanted a fight he was gonna get one.

“Yo, Prez,” Cox laughed, “You’re gonna wanna go get her, yeah?”

Oh. Right.

He strode forward, taking all three steps at once and grabbed Eva away from Preacher and started yanking her back up the stairs. The faster they could get this shit over with the faster he could get her alone. And set to working on kid number two.

Preacher yanked her back and the two of them spent another good minute glaring at one another.

“You’ll always be my baby girl,” Preacher whispered, giving Eva a kiss on the cheek while shooting daggers at him.

Yeah fucking right, he thought as he finished dragging Eva up the steps. Eva was his. All his. Ain’t no man, not even her father should be thinking otherwise.

“I have a bra on,” Eva whispered, unable to fight her grin any longer. “It’s my something new.”

He couldn’t help himself and burst out laughing. She was just so damn…perfect.

“Something old,” She continued, pointing at her feet.

“Something borrowed.” She grabbed his gold Horsemen’s tag around her neck. The one that had “Deuce” inscribed on the back.

“Borrowed for fuckin’ ever,” He said gruffly. Ain’t no way she was ever giving that back.

Her grin grew.

“My dress is white,” She continued, “And I’m wearing your blue boxers.”

The entire wedding party roared with laughter.

“Oh Evie,” Kami sighed, “I told you not to do that!”

“Fuckin’ hell,” He muttered, grabbing her arm and turning her towards the minister. “Let’s get this fuckin’ circus over with’,” He growled.

Still smiling, although shooting Eva strange looks, the minister ushered them closer. “Ready?” The minister asked.

“Fuck yeah,” He said gruffly. “This bitch is mine.”

This time the entire yard erupted in laughter. Except for Eva. She was staring up at him, her smile wide, her eyes soft. Damn those eyes, drowning him in nothing but Eva.

“I, Eva Fox, take you, Cole West, to be my beloved husband,” Eva softly repeated. “To have and to hold you, to honor you, to treasure you, to be at your side in sorrow and in joy, in the good times, and in the bad, and to love and cherish you always. I promise you this, baby, from the bottom of my heart, for all the days of my life.”

He stared down at her, burning with a whole mess of emotions he was helpless to turn off. Burning because he knew he’d never get enough of her, burning because he wanted to pick her up, take her inside the clubhouse, strip her naked and knock her up again just to make sure she’d never leave. Burning because after all the shit they went through, the pain, the loss, the heartache, the straight up evil brutality that made them question everything they’d thought to be true and had nearly driven them apart for good, he knew he’d do anything for her…steal anything, kill anyone…be anyone…

Even a fucking husband.

“Baby,” Eva whispered, grinning. “It’s your turn.”

He glanced over at the waiting minister, then back at Eva. “What she said,” He grunted. Then he turned to their guests.

“This is it,” He bellowed. “This here is me and fuckin’ Eva and this is our fuckin’ road and anyone who doesn’t like it, anyone who’s got somethin’ fucked up to say, can get the fuck off our road!”

The crowd, his boys, their family and friends, even Preacher, erupted in happy jeers and raucous laughter.

“You may kiss your bride,” The minister sighed, shaking her head.

He didn’t waste any time, he grabbed his woman, his wife, his Eva and lifted her off her feet and crushed her to him. Her legs wrapped around his waist, her arms around his neck and their mouths crashed together.

“Bout fuckin’ time!” Blue bellowed from his place at the bar.

Born to be Wild blasted through the outside speakers and drowned out the cheering.

Eva pulled away laughing, happy tears rolling down her cheeks. He curled his hand into a fist and ran his knuckles down the side of her face.

“There it is,” He whispered.

“What?” She whispered back.

“You Eva. Just fuckin’ you.”

Mick rolled his eyes. “Idiots,” He muttered. “I’m surrounded by idiots.”

Kami threw herself across the aisle at Cox.

Dorothy buried her face in her hands, her veil of red hair shielding her from view, and burst into tears.

And Danny…he paused to study his oldest daughter.

“Mama!” Ivy cried out, gunning for Eva. Eva turned away from him to bend down and catch their daughter as she toddled into her arms.

He turned back to Danny, worried about the strange expression on her face. He followed her line of sight to…


They appeared to be having some kind of staring contest, the rest of the world forgotten, no winner in sight.

“Yo, Danny!” ZZ said, appearing beside his daughter, startling her. She turned to ZZ.

“You wanna dance?”

Danny shot one last look at Ripper, turned back to ZZ and nodded. He watched them walk off already planning on how many different ways he was gonna beat ZZ to death, then got up in his Sgt. at Arms face.

“What was that?” He growled.

Ripper eyed him boldly. “What was what?”

His nostrils flared. “You. Danny. What. Was. It.”

“Baby,” Eva said, wedging herself in between them. “I wanna dance.”

Of course she did. She always had him doing stupid shit like dancing. And for some reason he was always doing it even though he fucking hated it.

“Later,” He promised Ripper and allowed his new wife to drag him off.

“When can we get the fuck outta here?” He asked her.

Laughing, she wrapped her arms around his neck and tucked her beautiful body against his. “I love you Deuce,” She giggled. “So, so much.”

“Babe,” He said softly, holding her tightly, “Fuckin’ yeah.”

“One more thing,” She said.


“You’re mine.”

He grinned. He sure as fuck was.


Copyright 2012 Madeline Sheehan
This ebook excerpt is licensed for your personal enjoyment only and may not be re-sold or given away to other people. 
Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.