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May
16

Review + Giveaway: Firestorm by Nancy Holzner

Review + Giveaway: Firestorm by Nancy Holzner Firestorm Author: Nancy Holzner Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: It’s been 3.5 years since the release of the previous Deadtown story, Hellhound, and I’ve been stalking the author, er… um… patiently waiting the release of the sixth and final story of Vicky Vaughn’s tales. As always, the story opens with Vicky in action, this time trying to banish a group of sirens who are causing people to plunge to their deaths off the Tobin Bridge and into the Mystic River. Aunt Mab is still around, there to help Vicky prepare for the upcoming final showdown with longtime demonic nemesis, the Destroyer. Firestorm is the exciting climax of and fitting conclusion for Ms. Holzner’s amazing Deadtown series which features a “Buffy-like chosen one” set to save the world from evil forces. The book is the culmination of every title that came before it, so you definitely want to start back at the beginning. I was concerned that with so much time passed and the intricacies of this urban fantasy arcing plotline, that I would be completely lost and playing catch up. But between reading my previous reviews and the author’s expertly placed reminders of important events, I was able to jump right into the story. In the previous book, Vicky allowed the Goddess Ceridwen inside her, and now both the Destroyer and Ceridwen are fighting for control of her body. It’s a seesaw battle, and poor Vicky is the one suffering its impacts, like when the goddess took over and when on a tear through the bars of Deadtown. The back and forth wreaks havoc on Vicky’s mental and emotional states, leaving her vulnerable and open to making poor decisions. She feels like she’s constantly being played or used and that she’s fighting against her own destiny. I liked that Vicky had to go through this final set of trials, helping her to realize what is truly important. I also appreciated that the author made sure to tie up all the loose ends with the major characters. No spoilers, but I was happy with everything! Because the focus of the book is the FINAL BATTLE, Firestorm didn’t have a standalone mystery or storyline like each of the previous titles, and I missed that aspect of Ms. Holzner’s storytelling. At times I felt the storytelling suffered from ADD because it jumped from one thought to the next, and the plot wasn’t as complex as previous tales. However, the...
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Apr
11

B Review + Blog Tour: For a Good Time, Call by Anne Tenino and EJ Russell

B Review + Blog Tour: For a Good Time, Call by Anne Tenino and EJ Russell For A Good Time, Call… Author: Anne Tenino, E.J. Russell Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Having grown up under the weight of his famous great-great-grandfather’s legacy, Seth Larson has learned to content himself with waiting tables and helping his beloved Grandma out at the family’s estate. In a small town like Bluewater Bay, with its communal history making everyone around him far too familiar, hooking up whenever he was in the mood for sex had always worked for him just fine. Finding someone who really mattered was never a consideration, at least until he’s knocked off balance by a stranger who makes him want more than a random encounter could ever hope to deliver. With two failed relationships in a row and a nearly-hostile connection with his famous mother still casting a shadow over much of his life, Nate Albano doesn’t have a lot of hope of being truly loved—not when his sexuality seems to inevitably drive everyone he’s ever fallen for away. Being grace is especially difficult when the heart that he can’t help but put first has already been bruised one time too many. Giving up on the idea is surely his best option. But, who would have guessed that his own expectations would be turned upside down by Bluewater Bay’s most infamous party guy? We first met several of the characters in For a Good Time, Call… in Wedding Favors, the seventh in the Bluewater Bay series. Seth played an important role in that novel, and turned out to be my favorite of the two main characters here. Seth’s main cause of stress is his relationship with most of his family, rather than a lack of romance in his life. In fact, something that endeared Seth to me from the beginning is that he experiences a good bit of slut-shaming, both active and passive, in this story, which he handles extremely well by shrugging it off, for the most part. It simply is what it is. Additionally, I thought his determination to understand and respect Nate’s specific, non-generic, sexuality was notable. Nate is grace/gray asexual, and I was happy to see the representation. The story deals with Nate’s sexuality in a matter-of-fact way, using his growing connection to Seth to answer a lot of potential questions about what it means, in this context, to be grace. In fact, it is Nate’s other relationship issues that cause a problem between he and Seth (as...
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Apr
9

Sunday Snippet + Giveaway: Meant For You by Michelle Major

Sunday Snippet + Giveaway: Meant For You by Michelle Major  About the Book Meant for You    Author:  Michelle Major Publisher:   Montlake Romance Released:  March 28, 2017 Genre:  Contemporary Romance Author contact links:   Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter Purchase links:  Amazon Snippet: I could help.” “Because we’re such good friends?” “Because what I want from you is more than one night.” Oh, God. Her knees threatened to give way and she pressed harder into the counter so she wouldn’t melt to the floor. The intensity in his dark eyes shook her to her core. “I need to be in West Virginia for a week.” Jenny blinked. Wait. What? Did he just call her a virgin? West Virginia. He’d mentioned West Virginia. Payback for acting the part of her fake fiancé at the reunion. “It’s more than you asked of me, and I’d like to pay you.” “Like I’m a hooker?” she blurted. “No,” he answered immediately. “There would be no . . . expectations. But thanks to the wonders of social media, my family now assumes I’ll have a fiancée accompanying me to the wedding.” “You could find a willing date.” “I want you.” Those three words were like a blade across her heart. “Why?” she asked. “I need whoever is with me to understand that the relationship is completely fake.” “Are you afraid another woman might want to keep the ring for real?” “There are benefits to marrying a man like me.” Jenny could think of a few. The way he kissed, how patient he was with her son . . . “My bank account to be precise,” he said casually. “There’s more to you than your money.” He didn’t answer but the way he studied her made her mouth go dry. “I can’t go with you, Owen.” “I’ll pay you twenty grand for the week.” “Are you effing crazy?” The words were out of her mouth before she even realized she’d spoken. She moved to the table, gripping the back of a chair. “Take that back. You don’t mean it.” “I do,” he said. “If the money feels too crass, keep the ring at the end of the week. It should fetch even more at any jeweler’s.” “You told me the ring was on loan.” “It was for that night. Now I own it.” “I won’t take your money and—” “She’ll settle for the ring.” Jenny whirled at the sound of Cooper’s voice. Her son stood in the doorway, fists clenched at his sides, staring at Owen. “Cooper, you aren’t part of this conversation,” she said,...
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Mar
14

Author Guest Post + Awesome Giveaway: Lea Griffith (Flash of Fury)

Author Guest Post + Awesome Giveaway: Lea Griffith (Flash of Fury) Dear That’s What I’m Talking About readers… Do I have a special treat for you! One of my favorite people, Lea Griffith, is here today to share a bit about her new title, Flash of Fury (Sourcebooks, March 7, 2017), and talk about her new series and writing romantic suspense. Oh… and she’s celebrating with an awesome giveaway! So please help me welcome Leah to the blog… Thank you so much Jen for hosting me today. You know I think the world of you, your site and your reviews and I’m honored you’re letting me chat with your readers and give stuff away. I really love giving stuff away, lol! I also really love romantic suspense. I cut my teeth on some of the greats—Iris Johansen, Linda Howard, Julie Garwood—and began sneaking into my moms stash of romance novels when I was about thirteen (don’t tell her, ‘k?). From that point on I began creating stories in my head. Those stories followed me until I finally broke down about six years ago and started writing them down. And let me tell you that’s a long span of time, lol! From those stories in my head, all these years later, comes my brand new series, Endgame Ops. I’m a big fan of multi-layered series—the type of series that you uncover secrets one book at a time ultimately leading you to a conclusion that rocks your world and wraps everything up in nice, tight bow. Though each story has a satisfactory conclusion as far as the hero and heroine go, each story is also a piece of a much larger puzzle. A puzzle you think you have figured out until BAM, you’re turning another corner, riding the edge of another knife. These are the series I love and what I hope, I’m bringing you in Endgame Ops. You are first introduced to Endgame Ops in an anthology I was blessed enough to participate in with Suzanne Brockman, Julie Ann Walker, Catherine Mann, Kate Serine, Tina Wainscott, M L Buchman, and Ann Elizabeth. All proceeds went to the Wounded Warrior Project. The first story, War Games, is a novella in this anthology. You meet Anthony “Rook” Granger and Vivi Benton and they take you on a wild ride that starts in a maximum security prison and ends with both of them locked in Endgame Ops and each other. My current release, Flash of Fury, is my first full-length offering in the Endgame Ops series....
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Feb
6

Interview + Review: Embers by Kate Sherwood

Interview + Review: Embers by Kate Sherwood Embers Author: Kate Sherwood Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Now that he’s temporarily relocated back home to Mosely, Montana, Jericho Crewe has a lot to sort out. Between working for his old friend and former lover at the sheriff’s office, dealing with the family he didn’t know he had, and recovering from a recent gunshot wound, he’s been busy. His inability to keep his mind off his other former lover, Wade Granger, isn’t helping matters, either—especially when buildings start exploding and bodies begin turning up. While I liked this story very much, I did have a little more difficulty connecting with Jericho. Having been a patrol cop in LA for five years, and a marine for eight years before that, Jericho’s clearly no fool. That he had the determination to reinvent himself after escaping from Mosely also speaks to a strong will and notable resourcefulness. But, he always seems to be a step or two behind here, and his ongoing confusion wasn’t as understandable to me now that he’s been back home for a while. Regardless, it was extremely interesting to watch him try to balance between his own past and present, and Jericho is likable enough that I was pulling for him all the way through. Wade, on the other hand, is still my favorite character, and his role as a “mastermind” is the best part of this series to me so far. Now that Jericho is back home, Wade seems to be shifting gears on the fly and the suspense that’s constantly generated by his actions kept me glued to every scene. It looks as if Wade had shaped his life around a missing puzzle piece, only to discover that that same piece had somehow changed its shape during its absence. Now, things are different in his world, too, and I couldn’t help but appreciate both Wade’s aptitude, as well as his frustrations. Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed about Embers is that the author has taken the traditional notion of the “prodigal returned” and turned it into something else entirely. Jericho didn’t just leave home. He changed. But, not as much as he thinks he did, which is pretty entertaining. Not really an outsider, he’s able to maintain a level of credibility with the “locals” that he’s very willing to use to help him solve the crimes being committed—even though he seems surprised that he still has any. One of the older deputies puts...
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Jan
16

Spotlight Blog Tour: Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt

Spotlight Blog Tour: Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt About Afraid to Fly Once a fearless fighter pilot, Commander Travis Wilson is now confined to a desk. It’s been eight years since the near-fatal crash that grounded him, and it still rules his life thanks to relentless back pain. Lieutenant Commander Clint Fraser almost drowned in a bottle after a highly classified catastrophe while piloting a drone. His downward spiral cost him his marriage and kids, but he’s sober now and getting his life back on track. He’s traded drones for a desk, and he’s determined to reconcile with his kids and navigate the choppy waters of PTSD. Clint has been on Travis’s radar ever since he transferred to Anchor Point. When Clint comes out to his colleagues, it’s a disaster, but there’s a silver lining: now that Travis knows Clint is into men, the chemistry between them explodes. It’s all fun and games until emotions get involved. Clint’s never been in love with a man before. Travis has, and a decade later, that tragic ending still haunts him. Clint needs to coax him past his fear of crashing and burning again, or their love will be grounded before takeoff. Afraid to Fly is available January 16th from Riptide Publishing. About L.A. Witt L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut… Website: http://www.gallagherwitt.com Twitter: https://twitter.com/GallagherWitt Giveaway To celebrate the release of Afraid to Fly, one lucky winner will receive $10 in Riptide Publishing credit and two books of choice from L.A. Witt’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on January 21, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info! This giveaway is sponsored by the publisher. Open to participants who are legally allowed to participate in such a contest as...
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Jan
6

Review + Blog Tour: Long Shadows by Kate Sherwood

Review + Blog Tour: Long Shadows by Kate Sherwood Long Shadows Author: Kate Sherwood Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Jericho Crewe spent more than a decade trying to shed his past and the legacy of the father who drove him away. Though he lost a lot in the attempt, his new life in LA has made leaving his best friend and lover behind worth it. Mostly. But, a single phone call is enough to bring him running back, and, despite his efforts to reinvent himself, he quickly learns that home won’t let go so easily. I found Long Shadows interesting in many ways, not the least of which is its main character, Jericho Crewe. He’s at once resilient, uncertain, loyal, stubborn, independent, compassionate, and so on. He’s also dealing with a sizable case of denial when it comes to being back in Mosely, Montana, and Wade Granger, in particular—which I thought were some of his best moments. While he didn’t leave as vivid an impression on me as Wade did, I think Jericho has a lot of potential to develop over the course of the series, and am looking forward to seeing how he handles his new situation. My undeniably favorite thing about Long Shadows is the re-acquaintance of the two main characters. Rather than bogging the narrative down with regret, most of the scenes involving Jericho and Wade are touched with awareness, companionship, and a nostalgic fondness that reaffirms their story isn’t nearly as finished as Jericho would like to think it is. I’ve read a good many tales where the temptation that exists between reunited characters is laid out plainly, but this is one of the few that actually made me believe it. While it’s a somewhat familiar situation in different genres, the author doesn’t use the “desperate times call for legal infractions” sort of economy that’s present in Mosely, Montana as the cause of every bad thing that happens in the story. But, neither is it a blanket excuse for it. Rather, most of the characters walk a wobbly line between convenience and necessity when it comes to the law, and I found that ambiguity perfectly acceptable in Wade and Kayla’s cases, in particular. Another great thing about Long Shadows is that there’s so much more to it than any of the relationships that are involved. It is a suspenseful narrative that involves different government agencies, as well as local law enforcement, secrets and cover-ups, covert alliances, and a solid application of...
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Dec
21

Review + Blog Tour: No Small Parts by Ally Blue

Review + Blog Tour: No Small Parts by Ally Blue No Small Parts Author: Ally Blue Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Born and raised in LA, Rafael Cortez isn’t exactly at home in the rugged isolation of Bluewater Bay. Still, he’s more than willing to put in the necessary time as a PA if it helps him become a director in his own right. Meeting someone he can see himself becoming serious about certainly hadn’t been part of the plan, but there’s just something about the brooding, defensive Nat that Rafael can’t resist. Bluewater Bay local Nat Horn never expected his tiny part on Wolf’s Landing to turn into anything more than a way to pay the bills after his father’s logging accident. When he’s offered a larger role by one of the directors, he jumps at the chance to make both their lives easier. Developing a few friendships of his own in the process, particularly with the irresistible personal assistant of his former crush, is a risk he can’t help taking—even though he’s sure he’ll lose him in the end. I was both surprised and pleased to note that this is the sixteenth book in the Bluewater Bay series, since it really doesn’t feel like there have been so many. As has been the case with most of the others I’ve read, No Small Parts seemed both familiar and unique, and reminded me why I continue to be drawn to these stories. Nat and Rafael do follow a somewhat recognizable pattern, given the polarity of their personalities and backgrounds, but Ms. Blue composes their tale around a distinctive framework that allows it stand just fine all on its own. As far as the main characters go, I thought that Nat and Rafael were an intriguing couple, and I enjoyed Raphael’s patience while Nat consistently strove to find steadier ground beneath his feet. Their respective backgrounds are different enough to make the pairing seem farfetched on the surface, yet their personalities somehow made them a perfect fit for one another. I also felt the “outsider vs. the locals” aspect of some of these stories worked especially well in their case, as the roles are reversed depending on whether a scene is taking place within the “Hollywood”-ness of the show, or the Bluewater Bay that exists outside of it. Overall, I feel that No Small Parts is a sweet, thoughtful addition to the Bluewater Bay series. As it focuses once again on the television show that is...
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Oct
26

Review + Blog Tour: Of Flame and Light by Cecy Robson

Review + Blog Tour: Of Flame and Light by Cecy Robson Of Flame and Light Author: Cecy Robson Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una have been anticipating this novel since we met Taran in the first Weird Girls novel, A Curse Awakened. We loved this mouthy, confident woman. We found it fascinating to see the world of the Wird sisters through Taran’s eyes. Taran’s persona is just a façade. Taran’s history (which we hope to learn more about in future books) has taught her to show a tough-as-nails façade to hide her brittle self-esteem. She is terrified of being in love. This fact is illustrated through her frustrating relationship with Gem. One would think that since they are mated, she would have nothing to fear, but Taran is afraid that if she loves Gem, mate or not, he will leave her. Taran is hopelessly in love with Gem but to protect herself she has rejected him because of the injury she suffered in A Cursed Bloodline. A great recap of Taran’s story can be read in the prequel novella, Of Flame and Promise (review link below). Taran’s injury was grave: she lost her arm. The werewolves were able to use pack magic to give her a new arm, however, Taran’s new arm did not grow back exactly as it was. This new arm is wreaking havoc with her “Wird girl’s cursed” magic. It is almost as if the arm has a mind of its own. To make matters worse, it even looks different. Due to this, Taran feels disfigured and no longer attractive. It doesn’t help that Gem seems to avoid touching or even acknowledging this arm. Now to make things catastrophic (a norm for the Wird sisters), the arm seems to be causing Taran’s magic to backfire when she is emotional. With the current stress of her non-relationship with Gem, she is an emotional mess and her magic is going crazy. Taran is forced to turn to the witches (who she loathes) to learn to control her magic. The witch coven is a cross between a stereotypical sorority house and a horror novel orphanage. The animosity between Taran and the head witch, Genevieve, is seething since Genevieve is lusting after Gem. With Gem spending a lot of time there, and the rumor mill running full force, Taran suspects she has been replaced. Although she tries to make things work at the coven, the Wird sister luck strikes every time making things worse...
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Oct
24

Review + Blog Tour: Interborough by Santino Hassell

Review + Blog Tour: Interborough by Santino Hassell Interborough Author: Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read that Interborough would be a follow-up to Raymond and David’s first story in the series, Sunset Park. While the latter ended well, this new narrative is even more complicated and beautiful, sometimes ruthlessly illustrating the fact that finding happiness and keeping it are two very different things. As was the case in Sunset Park, I found Raymond impossible not to love. Instead of the traditional trope of the wayward son failing to live up to the expectations of others, Ray never had anyone in his life to believe in what he could be in the first place—until David. Now that he and David have been together for a year and a half, however, he’s working two full-time jobs as well as attending college classes. He’s definitely got his mind on the future, but he’s worn himself down to the bone, leaving little to no time to focus on his relationship with David. Regardless, Raymond is a truly wonderful character, and I couldn’t help becoming thoroughly invested in him all over again. While I still had a harder time settling into David’s corner, I thought the feelings that fueled his actions were clearer in Interborough, especially later in the story. David’s desperate need to avoid feeling insubstantial in his own life does not manifest itself well at all, and when an abundance of alcohol was involved, I actually had to set the book aside and pace for a little while. As much as I wished I could have intervened on occasion, David’s own desire to stop himself, along with his inability to do so, made me feel completely awful for them both. I don’t often dwell on the sex scenes in a story, but in the case of Interborough, they were about far more than just the act itself. Even the most intimate moments between Raymond and David have layers of meaning—love, desperation, remembrance, and regret—and the shadow of loss is almost always present, creeping in at the edges. Oftentimes, it seemed that the literal, physical connection was only thing keeping them from flying apart altogether. While the relationship between Ray and David is the main focus of the narrative, Interborough unflinchingly examines several contributing factors that are undeniably relevant in our world every day. The fact that Ray is Puerto Rican and David is a “preppy white boy”...
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