maandag 30 maart 2015

Bailey Cates – Some enchanted éclair

The fourth book in the Magical Bakery Mystery series, published July 1, 2014.
Genre: paranormal cozy mystery with recipes
Cover: fun and sweet

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When Hollywood invades Savannah's historic district to film a Revolutionary War movie, magical baker Katie Lightfoot and her witches' coven, the Spellbook Club, take a break from casting spells for casting calls. One of the witches snags a part as an extra, while Katie's firefighter boyfriend, Declan, acts as on-set security. Katie and her Aunt Lucy decide to stay out of the action, but after the movie's "fixer" fires the caterer, the Honeybee Bakery comes to the rescue, working their magic to keep the hungry crew happy.
But when someone fixes the fixer - permanently - and a spooky psychic predicts Katie will find the killer, the charming baker and her fellow conjurers step in to sift through the suspects . . . before someone else winds up on the cutting room floor.

Katie Lightfoot only recently learned that she is a witch, just like her parents, her aunt and her grandmother. She lives with her adorable dog Mungo, who is also her familiar. Together with her aunt Lucy and her uncle Ben, Katie manages the Honeybee Bakery in Susannah. And as they are heart witches, and garden witches, they add a little special somethings to their baked goodies, just to help their customers with their problems, helping the natural properties of the herbs a little.
But for now, her uncle has taken a temporary job as head of security on a movie set, leaving Katie and her aunt Lucie a bit understaffed at the bakery. Especially when Simon Knapp comes in. He has just fired their previous caterer, and wants them to cater lunch for the movie crew, as Mimsie recommended them. They don’t normally cater, or serve lunch, but it would mean a lot of money for a few days.
So they whip up a great lunch for Simon to take back with him, and then make plans on what to serve for the rest of the week. When Katie takes Simon up on his offer to visit the set, she is in for a nasty surprise though.
The leading actress has just discovered his dead body! Her uncle and boyfriend are not pleased, they are the security on the set. Sure, their main task is to keep the public behind the ropes, but Ben does not like that his happened on his watch!
The leading actress takes an instant dislike to Katie, and is really nasty to her, but her pet psychic Ursula declares that she will solve the murder. And so Katie has been chosen to investigate again. And it seems like most people on the set have something to hide and a possible motive to kill Simon ...

I love this series, and being with Katie when she learns new things and enjoys life as a witch. I also love her boyfriend and firefighter Declan, they are so good together. Katie, her aunt and her aunts friends from the Coven have a spellbook club, and they all do their thing to help Katie figure things out. They work so well together, and I love all of those ladies. It makes me want to move to Savannah, even though the heat would kill me.
I like Katie, she tries her best, she bumbles now and then, but is determined to do the right thing. I like her relationship progress, and Declan sure is in for a big surprise for himself in this book. I hope he can handle it.
The ghost of Katie’s grandmother pops in regularly, often bringing a warning, or just soothing with her presence, and those little scenes are very lovingly written.

I enjoy this series very much, and if you like paranormal cozy mysteries, you really should be reading this one. And it has recipes too!

9 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 28 maart 2015

Anthology: A Vampire for Christmas

A collection of stories by Michele Hauf, Laurie London, Alexis Morgan and Caridad Piñeiro, published October 18, 2011.
Genre: paranormal romance
Cover: naughty smile

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All they want for Christmas is you.
It's the time of year for twinkling lights on trees and kisses under the mistletoe. Yet the passing of another year means nothing to the stunning immortals who lurk in the shadows of the new-fallen snow.
And they don't care if you've been naughty or nice.
Let four fanged lovers open your eyes to a passion you never dared to imagine. After all, there's no place like home for the holidays - and these dazzling vampires can't wait for an invitation.

Laurie London – Enchanted by Blood

This story is part of her Sweetblood series, and I have not yet read it.

When Charlotte Grant is rescued from a pair of would-be-muggers by a handsome man, she does not know she has met Trace Westfalen before, or that they were in love once. As a vampire, Trace cannot marry a human, he is supposed to create children, and for that he needs a vampire wife. And so, after she witnessed something she really should not have seen, he had no choice but to erase her memory. So although she has forgotten all about him, he has never forgotten about her.
So when Charlotte is in danger, somehow he senses it, and comes to her rescue. When he notices that she has hurt her wrist, he offers to drive her home, and they spend some time together. And he ends up hiring her (again) to decorate his home for the Christmas party his company is throwing.

He knows it is not smart, but he can’t stay away from her, and his grandmother is delighted with it. She really likes Charlotte. But his cousin has other plans for Charlotte, especially when he notices how much Trace cares about her ...

I really enjoyed this story. There are good vampires, and bad ones who treat humans as food only, but they do police themselves strictly. Trace once belonged to them, but now he is in line for his father’s seat on the Council, so he gave up the hunting. And Charlotte. But now, can he choose between obligation and love again?
I liked Charlotte as well, she was not afraid at all when she found at that Trace is a vampire, and they were good together. She is a strong woman, and has build up her own company, in creating decorations for events, and making sure every detail is perfect. She is really talented.

9 stars.

Michelle Hauf – Monsters don’t do Christmas

A chance encounter between Daniel, a lone vampire, and Olivia, a famous singer, leads to a sweet romance. Daniel thinks himself a monster, but he has yet to harm a human. He was changed against his will a year ago, and lost his job as a stockbroker because of it. So now he is roaming the streets, and trying to save another victim and her two little girls. If the mother can make it through the full moon, without giving in to the bloodlust, she will be cured...
The werewolves are after Daniel, as they like making some bloodsport with vampires, and have them fight in their underground rings for survival. One evening, Olivia interferes, and rescues his hide, and they become friends, and lovers.
Olivia is hiding for one month in her ordinary life, outside of the spotlights she is usually in. She enjoys this time of year in her tiny apartment, baking cookies, and decorating a tiny Christmas tree.

I like how they really tried to make it work, and did not take anything for granted. It took a while for Daniel to realize that the image Olivia shows the public, is not the real her.

Yes nice sweet story, original too, 8 stars,

Caridad Pineiro – When Herald Angels sing

I DNF’d this story after a few pages; I just did not like it at all. A vampire in love with an angel, who gets murdered by his enemy time and again? And then travels back in time to meet her all over again for the first time? No. Just no.

Alexis Morgan – All I want for Christmas
I am not sure if this novella is part of her Nocturne Vampire series.

In a world where paranormal creatures are not known to humans, Eagon is a vampire and a cop for the paranormal division. And someone or something is abducting teenage boys, and sucking them dry. All the disappearances happen in the same neighbourhood, and Della’s diner is smack in the middle. It would be a great place to keep watch on what happens on the street.
And so Eagon goes undercover, and does some odd jobs for Della who thinks he is in need of a handout, as he has forgotten his wallet the first time, and she is a very generous woman. He prevents a robbery, and in return gets some free coffee. As a vampire he could eat, but it does nothing for him. Della is protected though, one of her customers is a werewolf, who instantly knows what Eagon is, and warns Della away from him, who doesn’t understand why.
And old Harry, who she has been taking care of as well, is not really human either.

But with her young dishwasher, Eagon finally gets some grip on the case, and when Della and the boy are in danger, he has no choice but to blow everyone’s cover. Will she still accept him?

I loved this story especially, and it was the reason I bought the book. I love Alexis Morgan’s work. I am still sad her two best series have been cancelled by the publisher, as I enjoyed them very much.

Della is such a sweet and caring woman, she loves Christmas, and makes sure all her customers are well taken care off. But she is not a pushover, and she knows that she wants Eagon.
Eagon is a cop, and good at his work. He is determined to protect humans from preying supernaturals, and he wants Della but knows he should stay away from her. He just can’t.

A great story, and a great romance, all in one. If this is part of a series, I want more.

9 stars.

So, as usual, three good stories and one dud for me. If you are a fan of Caridad Pineiro, you might enjoy that one more than I did. I do recommend this anthology. If you haven’t read anything by Alexis Morgan, this is a good opportunity to find out if you like her style. I certainly do.

Overall rating: 8 stars.

Bought for the Alexis Morgan story.
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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

J.D. Robb – Festive in Death

Book 39 in the In Death series, published September 9, 2014.
Genre: futuristic romantic suspense
Cover: fits the series

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Personal trainer Trey Ziegler was in peak physical condition. If you didn't count the kitchen knife in his well-toned chest.
Lieutenant Eve Dallas soon discovers a lineup of women who'd been loved and left by the narcissistic gym rat. While Dallas sorts through the list of Ziegler's enemies, she's also dealing with her Christmas shopping list plus the guest list for her and her billionaire husband's upcoming holiday bash.
Feeling less than festive, Dallas tries to put aside her distaste for the victim and solve the mystery of his death. There are just a few investigating days left before Christmas, and as New Year's 2061 approaches, this homicide cop is resolved to stop a cold-blooded killer.

When Trina and her friend are ready for some payback at said friend’s horrible ex-boyfriend, they did not suspect to find him murdered in his bedroom. They might have been half-drunk, but Trina knows who to call when she stumbles upon a dead body. Detective Eve Dallas is not happy for being called out of bed in the wee hours of the morning, but the dead take precedence.
What she finds is a very handsome and fit man, bashed upon the head with one of his own trophies, and then stabbed in the chest with a kitchen knife. And the more she learns about the victim, the less she likes him. But even though he deserved to be locked up in a cage for a few decades, he did not deserve to be murdered, and so she and Peabody are determined to find out who killed him.
But it seems like everyone he knew, had a reason to hate and kill him.

Trey Ziegler was a personal trainer, and a good one. He also gave massages, and was willing to be “extra personal” and come to your home for some private lessons as well. So how did he come by the astounding amount of $ 165.000,00 in cash in his gym locker? Was he adding blackmail to his repertoire?

And that is not all Eve has to deal with, it is time for the annual Christmas party she and Roarke host for their mutual friends and business associates, and she still has a lot of shopping to do for gifts. But she manages just fine, with the help of her old friend Tiko. Eve also has to make a deal with Summerset, to get her gifts wrapped up in time, and she keeps discovering new rooms in their home. Why do they have a gift room? And why does she need to go shopping when it is stocked full with all kinds of gifts? At least now she knows where to find the perfect bribe for D.ickhead.

The mystery was a good one, and it took me a very long time to figure out the killer. There were some really nice suspects, but also some clearly bad people and I was so ready for one of those to be the killer.
I loved the parts about Eve and Roarke’s private lives, as usual, Galahad is wearing a collar with a Christmas bell on it, and he even seems to enjoy that. All Eve’s friends were present at the Christmas party, and she got to spend a few paragraphs with them all, and I enjoyed those.

What did amaze me a lot though, she never once investigated where Trey got his “special” tea and incense from. When looking at clients/victims, co-workers, competitors for this year’s trophy, why not investigate who his supplier is?

All in all, a very good book in this incredibly long running series, and it kept me up way past my bedtime on a Monday.

9 stars.

Love this book
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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 27 maart 2015

Anthology – Blue Christmas

An omnibus of novels by Sandra Hill, Linda Jones, Sharon Pisacreta and Amy Elizabeth Saunders, published November 2004.
Genre: contemporary romance, featuring Christmas, The Original Heartbreak Hotel, Memphis and the Ghost of Elvis.
Cover: blue.

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Elvis Loves!
On Christmas, while the world celebrates the birth of the King of Kings, Memphis awaits the return of one King in particular. Even during the holiday season, people come and go to Graceland – a pilgrimage of sorts – seeking redemption, happiness, and most of all, love.

Memphis shakes, rattles and rolls as four couples find themselves all shook up and learn that with the right partner, any place is paradise. But is there a rhinestone bedecked presence moving in the background, guiding their blue suede shoes on the path to passion, or is it simply their imaginations? And when it is time to open their gifts – and hearts – there won’t be a couple left who thinks that this was a ...
Blue Christmas.

Amy Elizabeth Saunders – Can’t help falling in love

This is a fun story, about the rich author G. Charles Van Dusen, who gets stuck in an airport restaurant after he is robbed from his coat, his luggage and his wallet, while he is working on his next story. His waitress Bailey O’Connor takes pity on him, and offers him a ride to Memphis with her. As his rich family is out of reach thanks to severe snow storms on the coast, he accepts her offer.
What he does not expect, is the fact that she is driving a Volkswagen Bug, has no real experience about driving in the snow, and is in the habit of picking up other passengers as well, all going to Memphis. And she keeps calling him Gabriel, the name he never uses.

It was fun meeting all those strange characters, a grandmother on her way to her children, carrying lots of fruitcakes, a runaway meeting up with his band for a gig, and a wounded flying Elvis who fell from the sky.

But those strange characters all bond together during the journey, and after they arrived, they go their separate ways, except for Gabriel and Bailey, who check into the Original Heartbreak Hotel together.

But when Bailey finds out that Gabiel is not really an Elvis fan, and is using her love for the King, and her remarks, to write his piece, he is severely in the dog house. Can the spirit of Elvis help him out?

9 stars.

Linda Jones – Always on my mind

As her little girl really wants a Daddy for Christmas, Laura sets out to find her former boyfriend, who doesn’t know he is a father. What she doesn’t know is that he has been searching for her for years, and her mother never told her. So he is overjoyed with this second chance at love. As an accountant, Laura really believe that Michael would never make it in the music industry, and she wanted a steady man who could put down roots, and not someone always on the road. What she doesn’t know, is that he has become very rich and successful indeed, and owns his own pub in Memphis where he plays in the evenings.

So with Megan staying with her babysitter and the ghost of Elvis in their hotel room in the Original Heartbreak Hotel, Laura and Michael take some time to get to know each other again. Will they forgive each other?

A lovely second chance at love story I really enjoyed. And of course, the part of Elvis.

8 stars.

Sharon Pisacreta – All shook up

Kim Hanson is desparate enough to come to Memphis at Christmas to have a chance to speak with Spencer Modine, owner of Modine Music, in order to get the PR contract. Her company is failing lately, without her having a clue why, and this is her last chance to prove herself, or go bankrupt.
But Spencer wants someone who understands music and Memphis, and not another uptight businesslady. But when she gets a panic attack right there in his office, he gives her another chance and takes her out on town. But he soon realizes that he wants her in his arms, as his wife, and not as his businessrelation.
But to get Kim to believe him, is not easy. Especially when they sleep together before he offers her the contract after all, and she turns him down.

But when he finds out for her why her company is failing, she does need his help to kick her two timing boyfriend’s ass!

I liked the story, but Kim was just trying too hard to impress Spencer, and too desperate for me to feel more for her than sorry, and really like her. The woman has no idea how to have fun at all, and Spence is trying to show her. With a bit of help from Elvis of course.

6 stars.

Sandra Hill - Fever

The rich and powerful Clayton Jessup III has inherited lots of properties from his rich and powerful father, and The Original Heartbreak Hotel sure does not fit in with the rest. He intends to sell it straight away, or raze it to the ground. So when he visits, and finds out that the Fallon family is doing a live nativity scene on the vacant lot nextdoor, with real farm animals, he is enraged. How dare they abuse his property for that! He will send them on their way asap!

But when he falls and damages his head, it is gorgeous Annie Fallon, playing Priscilla Presley, who takes him to the hospital and later home to the farm, as he needs to be watched. And there Clay finds a different kind of life, where people who have little are still happier than he has ever been in his mansion.

I did enjoy this story, although it was a bit over the top, the characters are fun.

8 stars.

These four stories are all interlocked. The characters all meet the others somewhere in Memphis, the Original Heartbreak Hotel plays its part, complete with Elvis’ ghost, an Elvis dressed as Santa outside the door, who seems to know everything, and the Hounddog café that serves Elvis’ favourite dishes. This book is filled with Christmas, Elvis, Elvis memorabilia, Graceland, and most of all, lonely people finding each other.

Even as a non-Elvis fan, I really enjoyed this book. Recommend if you can still find it somewhere. I bought it for the Amy Elizabeth Saunders story.

Overall rating: 8 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 26 maart 2015

Susan Mallery – Sweet Spot – Read for #LLC2015

The second book in the Keyes Sisters series, published August 1, 2008.
Genre: contemporary romance
Cover: fun

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"Responsibility" should be Nicole Keyes's middle name. After all, not many people would sacrifice their lives to run the family bakery and raise a younger sibling. But with Nicole's twin sister now blissfully married and her younger sis turning out more femme fatale than girl-next-door, super reliable Nicole is getting sick of putting everyone else's needs first!
Enter Hawk. The deliciously sexy former NFL player offers Nicole a taste of the freedom she craves. Hawk may know the way, blindfolded, to her sweet spot, but Nicole's not about to let him get close enough to break her heart. Of course, she might not have a choice in the matter if Hawk's past keeps getting in the way of their present...

Nicole Keyes is feeling a bit sorry for herself, both her sisters are pregnant, and all she has ever wanted was a family of her own. Of course she has been raising her younger sister since she was 12 and Jesse 6, but that did not work out so well, as she found Jesse in bed with her husband Drew a few months ago. But she is sick of the worrying and pitying looks everyone give her.
And so when a handsome football coach comes on to her, she makes him an offer:
She will be his personal sex kitten and have an affair with him, if he will act like her loving boyfriend when she needs him to. And Hawk agrees to it, he is certainly not interested in a lasting relationship, his late wife was the love of his life and he won’t be replacing her.

His spoiled daughter Brittany is happy with that, and with her own boyfriend Raoul. Raoul is Hawk’s star football player, and a very decent young man. Very mature for his age, due to his foster child background. But when Hawk and Nicole find out that he is no longer living with his last foster family, but in a deserted building, they are furious. And so Nicole ends up taking Raoul in. He is already working for her in the bakery part time, and she is very satisfied with his work and his work ethics. Nicole also enjoys his company and that of his friends, and even goes to his games. But having a teenager, although he is just 18 now, sure puts a crimp on her love life with Hawk!

And then Hawk’s personal history repeats itself, when his daughter announces she is pregnant, and she will marry Raoul, and they will happily live on his football scholarship, just like Hawk and her mother did all those years ago. Ever since his wife died, Hawk has tried to do his best for his daughter, and in order to not make her feel unwanted, he only told her the good parts about their history, and not the hard things, the problems they faced, how hard especially her mother had it back then. Nicole had tried to warn him about that before, that he should not let her think he had a fairy tale life, but he did not listen to her, and really disliked her criticising him.

Okay, I am not going to spoil the whole story here, lots more happens of course. I liked Nicole, she certainly did not have a happy childhood, let alone a care free one. She knew she was destined to take over the family bakery from a very early age, and so she never even explored if she perhaps wanted to do something else. She had the responsibility for the bakery and its employees; the raising of her younger sister (who even after her marriage to Drew kept living with them), always working long hours.
She resents Jesse for not even saying she is sorry for what happened, and she still misses her. Drew wants her back, but she is so over him. She knew she was never in love with him, but she didn’t want to end up alone, and so she accepted his proposal.

And now she is falling for Hawk. A man who is not interested in a long term relationship. A man whose house is kind of a shrine to his late wife, as he never changed one single detail in the house after she died. The first time Nicole visited him, she was treated to a tour of the house, and then a round of photograph albums by Brittany, who definitely warned her away from her father without ever clearly stating that.
Also Hawk can’t take criticism at all, and he takes every bad thing that happens out on her. Brittany asked her to keep a secret for a while, and how could she? And how can she say stuff like that. Yeah, he may be a hunk, but he is really not a great hero.

Hawk certainly has some growing up to do himself and a lot of grovelling when he finally realises that he does love Nicole and wants her in his life. And then proposing like he did, while they were in the middle of a fight and without anything resolved, I totally agreed with Nicole for leaving him standing.
And at the end of the story, I really do wonder if Hawk and Brittany have changed for real, or are just trying for now. I hope to find out more in book 3, about Jesse.

There are some minor updates on Nicole’s sister Claire and her boyfriend Wyatt from the first book, and I enjoyed that. Although being on Nicole’s side in this book, I did think Claire to be a bit too positive and perky and seeing nothing but the good in people.

8 stars.

Banner 2015 photo BannerLLC2015versie5_zps31bfcccb.jpg

Read for #LLC2015
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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 25 maart 2015

Recommendations from Karin for March 2015.

In order to bring some more variety to my blog, I have asked some of my bookish friends to tell about the books they have in the past month, and to give us a recommendation. Today’s post is made by Karin from Austria.


I have read 12 new books and 4 novellas this month – actually I bought more but I wasn’t very lucky with those book collections that you get for a steal, so I won’t count them. I skimmed most of them anyway.
But as for the rest I’d really have a hard time to say which I liked best. So I will start by recommending the one I actually liked almost best:

Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop

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The New York Times best-selling author of The Black Jewels Trilogy transports readers to a world of magic and political unrest - where the only chance at peace requires a deadly price....
The Others freed the cassandra sangue to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before - both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn's help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.
Meg is still deep in the throes of her addiction to the euphoria she feels when she cuts and speaks prophecy. She knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others and humans alike need answers, and her visions may be Simon's only hope of ending the conflict.
For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik, and the prejudice of a fanatic faction is threatening to bring the battle right to Meg and Simon's doorstep....

I don’t know if I have mentioned it before but “Written in Red”, the first book of the Others is one of my all time favourite books. I did like the second book in the series, I really did, but I think the surprise about this new world had gone a bit.
And now to the third book in this series: this time I was ensnared again by the time I read page10 or so. This book is written from multiple points of view, it’s not only concentrated on Meg; of course she takes the center stage, but we learn so much more about Blood Prophets in general; the villains in this book – the Human First League – reminded me of zealots of the past and unfortunately of the present.
In fact the whole book so intense that I didn’t mind to put it down at two o’clock in the morning to get some much needed sleep and finish it the next night. I finished it and started all over again, which I sometimes do when I’ve read as quickly as possible. Then I can appreciate the finer points on second reading.

The other book I’d like to recommend almost as much as I did Bishop’s is

Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

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Praised as "the perfect blend of action, romance, suspense and paranormal" (Rex Robot Reviews), the Alpha and Omega novels transport listeners into the realm of the werewolf, where Charles Cornick and Anna Latham embody opposite sides of the shifter personality. Now a pleasure trip drops the couple into the middle of some bad supernatural business....
For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not travelling because of Charles' role as his father's enforcer. This time their trip to Arizona is purely personal, as Charles plans to buy Anna a horse for her birthday. Or at least it starts out that way....
Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae's cold war with humanity is about to heat up - and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.

I stumbled upon Charles and Anna way back when their short story was published in “On the Prowl”. I knew about Patricia Briggs at that time but hadn’t tried her Mercy Thompson. But I was fascinated by that short story and thus I bought the first three books of Mercy. Unfortunately I couldn’t get into them; I really tried two or three times but they are not for me. But when I found “Cry Wolf” I knew I had to have that; and I have been reading this series ever since.
What can I say: I love these two, I love seeing Anna’s development, how she started to get more confidence and how she knew how to treat her husband.
Some people complained there are too many details about horses in this book. I don’t agree. Even though I did not understand each and every detail, I didn’t mind. I thought it was all quite interesting.
I also loved the underlying theme and the final page of this book. I can hardly wait to see how this story continues, but with my luck I’ll have to wait another two long years!

As for the rest – there were some lovely books I’d like to mention: “Because I Can” by Tamara Morgan (one of the most original contemporary romances I have read). Once again this is the third book in a series but the topics of the others did not appeal to me, so I tried this one and it was such a lovely surprise.
I took Aurian’s recommendations seriously and purchased a few books by Carole Brown. Her stories about cowboys and their significant others are highly recommendable. I liked “How to Marry a Cowboy” a lot.

Then I turned to Thea Harrison. You might remember that she is going to attend the LLC in Berlin this year and I’m really looking forward to meeting her.
I read quite a few of her novellas about the Elder Races and once again I found myself liking one that didn’t get all those stellar reviews. I’m talking about “Natural Evil”. I, too, would have loved a clearer HEA but this story just got to me.

Now I think this is it. I wish you all a good time with lots of good books to read!

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Aurian: Thanks for the recommendation Karin! I have read those books myself last week, and still have to write the reviews about them, but I could not agree more with you. And I love Thea Harrison’s novella’s as well. They are really good.

How about you reader, have you read any of those recommendations yet, or are you planning to?

© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 24 maart 2015

Erin McCarthy – Hard and Fast – Read for #LLC2015

The second book in the Fast Track series, published May 5, 2009.
Genre: contemporary romance
Cover: hot

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An experiment in romance…
New to stock car racing country, grad student Imogen Wilson meets Ty McCordle, a driver who has her pulse racing. After an encounter at the track with a woman whose main goal in life is to marry a driver, Imogen realizes she's hit on the perfect topic for her sociology thesis. If she follows the 'rules' on how to get a man, can she steer her way into the hearts of the drivers, and establish their dating - and mating - patterns?
…that’s testing the limit of passion.
Although sexy and reckless Ty is the ideal test subject, she knows she can’t pursue him for the sake of science. Yet he's the one who's chasing after her, and Imogen realizes that she actually wants to be caught. A southern gentleman like Ty won’t disappoint – he will satisfy her curiosity - and make all the risks worthwhile…

Imogen is visiting the race track in Charlotte for the very first time with her friends Tamara and Suzanne, when they find themselves stuck with Nikki, the girlfriend of driver Ty McCordle. (Tamara recently got married to Elec, another driver, and Suzanne is divorced from Ryder).
She really wonders what Ty sees in Nikki, as she is so young and bubbly and blond, and well, Barbi like. She is not the brightest bulb in the lot. Doesn’t he want a woman he can also talk with, discuss politics or such? And Nikki is clearly determined to marry Ty, she even has a book with her, “how to marry a race car driver in 6 steps”. And so Imogen finally finds the topic for her thesis. Do those kind of dating manuals really work?
Imogen has been attracted to Ty since the first time they met at Tammy’s house, but she knows she is way too different. Still, she is going to try those steps, and question as many race car drivers and their wives as she can.
What she does not expect, is for Ty to strike up a conversation with her, and not wanting to let her leave the party without him. He can’t even remember her name correctly, as he keeps calling her Emma Jean. And Ty is still seeing Nikki, even though he wants to break up with her, so she is not going to let him kiss her again!
And then suddenly, another couple ends up on the hood of Imogen’s car while she and Ty are talking inside, in the pouring rain, about to get very intimate! To their surprise, it are Nikki and another young driver, so she doesn’t mind so much when Ty breaks up with her there and then.

Imogen is not very experienced in love making, and Ty does not want her regret their first time together, so instead of taking her home with him for a hot night, he goes inside alone. But when they finally spend the night together, they certainly burn up the sheets!
Their relationship is going very well, even though they don’t have much time for each other, with Ty’s racing schedule and Imogen’s classes. By Ty is hiding a big secret, and has been doing so all his life. Will Imogen’s reaction to it, really be the end of their one-day-engagement?

Another hot love story by Erin McCarthy. I could become addicted to her books! I am totally reading this series out of order, and I don’t care. I loved Imogen, she is such a bookish lady, and totally out of place on the race track. But she tries so hard. She learns all about the game, she lets Ty take her out camping although she doesn’t like nature much, having never seen more than Central Park. She is very sweet and smart, but not a doormat.
And Ty with his big secret, he handles it so well. Still, he should not hide it from everybody, and he certainly should not be ashamed of it. He doesn’t read, but he does listen to audiobooks, even Shakespeare when Imogen dares him to. And he sure knows just what to quote to her at the right moment!

Yes, I loved this book and I want more! Lucky for me, I have a few more on the “Berlin-table”. And I really want to read Suzanne and Ryder’s story again. That was my first encounter with the series I think.

9 stars.

Love this bookAutobuy author

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Read for #LLC2015
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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 23 maart 2015

Maggie Sefton – Close Knit Killer

Book 11 in the Knitting Mystery series, published June, 2013.
Genre: cozy mystery
Cover: nice

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Springtime in Fort Connor, Colorado, is a breeze until a veteran con man shows up in town. Everyone - including the House of Lambspun knitters - is up in arms, and once again it's up to Kelly Flynn to untangle the threads of a complicated crime...
Years ago Jared Rizzoli, a former financial advisor, operated a Ponzi scheme that defrauded countless Fort Connor residents - including Barbara, one of the shop's knitters. Jared went to jail for his crime, but after being released for good behavior, he's back to ruin more lives.
When Jared is found dead in his car outside of Lambspun, Barbara becomes a prime suspect, much to the shock of the knitting community. To save one of their own, Kelly and her friends need to sort through a long list of fleeced suspects to pin the crime on the true killer...

Another review I just could not write in time. It is a good series, a large cast of characters that are a joy to read about, and who all love to knit. This is not something I like to do myself, but it is really fun to read about it. The cool thing is that the yarn shop they all meet, Lambspun, really does exist in Fort Connor, Colorado. I know that if I lived in Colorado I would want to visit it at least once. Of course I know I would be violently allergic, but still, I want to see all those different kinds and colors of yarn as described in the book.

When Jared Rizzoli comes back to town after spending a few years in prison, he claims to be a changed man. Still, he won’t give any of the money back he swindled out of people’s pensions and savings. Lots of people were ruined because of him, and one even killed himself. So there are plenty of people around who hate him with a reason, and think a few years in a luxury prison was not enough punishment at all. So when he ends up murdered, no one is surprised at that, and there are suspects enough.
But when one of Lambspun’s regulars becomes the main suspect, Kelly and her friends are determined to clear her name.

They are also very busy helping Jennifer and Pete. Pete’s father is taking care of his niece, Cassie, who is 11 years old. But when he suffers a heart attack, Pete and Jennifer will have to take care of not only Pete’s father, but also of Cassie. I loved how all their friends pitch in, to take Cassie to events, to teach her what they do and their hobbies.

The murder case was a big surprise as well. Lots of twists and turns, but I have to admit, I did guess the real killer quite early. Still, the ending was the surprise and it was just a nice addition to a series I really enjoy reading.

8 stars.

Autobuy author

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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 22 maart 2015

Julia Quinn, Eliosa James and Connie Brockway: The Lady Most Likely – Read for #LLC2015

The first book in the Lady Most series, published December 28, 2010.
Genre: historical romance
Cover: pretty

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Three of the brightest stars of historical romance invite you to a party at the country home of the Honorable Marquess of Finchley.

Hugh Dunne, the Earl of Briarly, needs a wife, so his sister hands him a list of delectable damsels and promises to invite them - and a few other gentlemen - to her country house for what is sure to be the event of the season.
Hugh will have time to woo whichever lady he most desires . . . Unless someone else snatches her first.

The invitation list includes:
- The horse-mad but irresistibly handsome Earl of Briarly
- The always outspoken Miss Katherine Peyton
- The dashing war hero Captain Neill Oakes
- The impossibly beautiful (and painfully shy) Miss Gwendolyn Passmore
- The terribly eligible new Earl of Charters
- The widowed Lady Georgina Sorrel (who has no plans to marry, ever)

And your hostess, Lady Carolyn Finchley, an irrepressible matchmaker who plans to find the lady most likely . . . to capture her brother's untamed heart.

After a near fatal accident with one of his beloved horses, Hugh Dunne, the Earl of Briarly, decides he has to marry and father an heir, because his current heir, a distant cousin, is not fit to become the next Earl at all. As he has no intention whatsoever of joining the ton in their endless balls and parties, he asks his sister to make him a list of suitable brides so he can pick one.
His sister’s best friend, Lady Georgina Sorrel, is present when he asks for her help, but she tells him she doesn’t want to be on his list. And of course Lady Carolyn doesn’t want her best friend shackled to her brother, a man who would never come out of his stables to do something with her, who doesn’t care about his clothes or looks. And clothes are very important to Georgina.

And so Hugh sets his sights on Miss Gwendolyn Passmore, the most beautiful debutante of the season. After all, he is an Earl, why would she refuse him?

I enjoyed this book very much indeed. Everytime Hugh sets his sights on a particular lady, one of the other eligible bachelors stepped in, and snatched her up. And so we get three romances at the same houseparty at once. And of course Hugh ends up with Georgina. It was sweet, and he really can be romantic and stay away from his stables now and then.

I’ve never read a book written by three authors before, of course there are many well known author duo’s but I can’t imagine the logistics involved in writing a single book with three authors, and not three separate short stories. It was fun, and I really could not detect a different writing style in any of the three romances, so I could say: ah, here someone else starts writing.

The negative about this book is, I can’t say, hmm I like this authors’ style, I want more books by her.

If you like historical romances, that are light and fun, I do recommend this one.

7 stars.

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Read for #LLC2015
For more info look:

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 21 maart 2015

Interview with Connie Brockway for #LLC2015

Hi, we are Aurian and Freya, and today we have Connie Brockway visiting us here in Utrecht, Holland.

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Of course you want to know, what is LLC 2015? It is short for LoveLetter Convention 2015, and it takes place in Berlin, Germany, on May 2 and 3, 2015. There are lots of German authors attending, but there are also some really nice (and famous!) authors from America, Canada, England and Australia.

Connie Brockway is one of the American authors attending. We had a blast in the previous 3 years, and to add to the advance fun of the event, we have decided to do some interviews with the authors we will be meeting. Some of them are attending for the first time; others had a great time in a previous year and are coming again! So if you have the opportunity to visit Berlin for some sightseeing, why not attend the convention as well? Or let your family do the sightseeing, and you do the convention. If you want to check it out, here is a link to the website:

Our guest today is Connie Brockway, author of many historical romances, and some contemporary ones.

Aurian: Welcome to Utrecht, Connie. Would you like something hot to drink in this cold weather? Hot chocolate with whipped cream, tea or coffee? And of course some Dutch cookies.

Connie: Dutch chocolate! And cookies. And whipped cream. Hey! Don't be stingy with that cream!

Freya: Can you tell our readers who might not yet know you or your books, a little about yourself? Something that is not in your official bio (which is at the bottom of this post).

Connie: There’s already too many unsubstantiated rumours out there and apparently I feed into that. It’s not my fault. I say (or write) something innocent and people jump to the wrong conclusions. For instance, that alien abduction thing? More of an encounter. And one of those mutts is actually a purebred Springer Spaniel.

LLC questions:

Aurian: Could you tell us why you are attending a convention in Europe? Have you been in Berlin before? Or other places/countries in Europe? Were you surprised at being invited to a convention this far away?

Connie: Though I’ve been to Germany three times—in fact, once at the Love Letters convention in Weisbaden - I’ve never been to Berlin and I am very much looking forward to it. I had such a lovely time in Germany in 2004, that when I heard this year’s was being held in Berlin and saw one of the convention coordinators at Romance Writers of America last year, I basically asked to be invited. Happily, she humoured me! Berlin has such a long and storied history. I love history and I love travel. Luckily my husband does, too. It’s our number one indulgence. I end up in Europe about every other year and have done for decades.

Freya: Berlin is a beautiful city. Are you planning to do some sightseeing before or after the convention, or touring the country? Or is this convention part of a larger booktour through Europe?

Connie: Amazon will be hosting an event right after the convention, but it’s only for one day. Afterwards, I’ll be sightseeing. I am the consummate tourist! I have been feverishly researching the city and formulating an itinerary. We’ll spend three more days in Berlin and then another 3-4 in the countryside. Some of my best travel adventures have come about as the result of driving around a country with nothing more than a vague notion of what direction to head. Which, now that I think of it, is how I have written some of my favourite books, too. I hope to end up in Zettemin, the place from which both my great-great-grandparents immigrated.

Aurian: If you could see only one monument/famous building/historical place in Berlin while you are there, what place would you absolutely have to see?

Connie: One? NOT FAIR! I must to go the site of the Berlin wall AND the Brandenburg Gate (at night) AND as an avid gardener, I couldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t see the Potsdam Gardens AND as an avid art collector, I have to hit Kunsthaus Tacheles. AND in between…

Freya: Have you been to Europe before? Perhaps even visited Holland? If not, would you like to?

Connie: Yes and yes. Many times. I’ve logged hundreds of hours at the Amsterdam Airport but I’ve also spent some days in the city (I’m even now waiting for the tulips I nabbed from one of the farmer’s markets to make it’s springtime appearance). While Amsterdam is the only cities I’ve visited in Holland, I have my eye on a bike and barge trip through the countryside next year.

Aurian:Lol Connie, I will give you the same answer I gave Susan Elizabeth Phillips: if you want to go on a cycle tour through Holland I will gladly follow you by car. And I do hope your tulips will bloom beautifully!

Book questions

Karin: I have read "The Lady most likely" which you wrote with Eloisa James and Julia Quinn. I didn't know what part of the book was yours. There are no distinct lines which say: this part was written by ...
In this day and age it is not so very difficult to communicate (even long distance if necessary) but I still wonder how that works for three authors to write one single book together. I have seen books written by several authors that are closely connected by one theme but I have never read a book like that. So, how on earth did that work?

Connie: It helps greatly that we are friends who respect and admire each other’s work. The initial idea was Eloisa’s brainchild and she invited both Julia and I to take part. It sounded like it would be fun so, being a fun kind of girl, I jumped at the opportunity. And I have to say, it was tons of fun. We met in New Orleans and booked three rooms in the French Quarter at this charming inn with an interior courtyard. All the rooms had windows we kept open and through which we could see each other across the courtyard. We’d spend all day cloistered in the room, writing then, in the evenings, we would get together and hammer out whatever issue arose during the day— i.e. what was the backstory for such-and-such a character? What is happening with couple B and C, while couple A take center stage?

The only truly co-authored parts were the beginnings and ends. We got together and wrote a sentence or a paragraph, then we’d read little snippets, make editing suggestions or adding on to each other’s dialogue, before compiling it. We spent five days doing this. It was incredibly hard work but exhilarating. And if you have to spend days writing then eat out every meal, well, New Orleans is the place to do it.

When we returned to our various homes, we had a very clear idea of what we were doing and just finished our individual sections. Then we emailed them to one another and made small changes or suggestions (neither Julia or I ever did figure out Eloisa’s hero’s name—she kept changing it!)

Freya: I have read several of your earlier books, and now I am reading The Songbird’s Seduction. I had to laugh out loud a few times. It is more a “comedy or error” story, while your earlier books were more emotional, more character driven (and made my cry). What do you prefer to write?

Connie: Thank you! As for writing humor or pathos, my interest in both runs in streaks. I’ll go through a period of light and laughter and then suddenly be inspired to write a very dark story. I don't honestly prefer one over the other, I have come to appreciate that I can only write in the tone that interest me at the time. I’ve tried writing “dark” when I wasn’t feeling it and it came off reading forced and jerky.

Freya: I have also read My Dearest Enemy, and a big part of the story are the letters the main characters have written to each other. In the epilogue their child wants to publish those letters. As I loved to read the snippets of the letters, I would also love to read more of those letters, perhaps as a special on your website?

Connie: I absolutely LOVED writing those letters. But while that is a brilliant idea, I would worry that adding them to the website would water down their effect in the book. I have toyed with the idea of using letters in a new story, but , well, at the risk of sounding incredibly full of myself, the letters from My Dearest Enemy would be a hard act to follow.

Aurian: On your website, you call for all Downton Abbey’s fans to read The Songbird’s Seduction. Have you watched all the seasons? And do you recommend other t.v. series for those who love your books?

Connie: No, I haven’t watched all the seasons. I’m waiting for the final season and then I intend to do a binge. A giant wallow!

I’m not sure my television watching tastes in any way are indicative of the sort of book I write, but here goes! Most of the television shows I prefer are either very nasty pieces of psychological twistedness or huge sweeping fantasies. I like The Blacklist, Game of Thrones, Penny Dreadful, Hannibal…see what I mean? I don't think you’ll find any elements in common with what I watch and what I write. Maybe there’s a good reason for that! If you can figure it out please, tell me!

Aurian: Thanks for the interview Connie! We do look forward to meeting you in Berlin.

Connie: Bedankt! Ik kijk uit naar uw komst, ook!

Aurian: (Translation for my foreign readers: Thanks! I look forward to meeting you as well).

So tell me, reader, have you read any of Connie’s books, and did you enjoy them? Some of my reviews of her books will post soon.

- Author picture -
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Where to find Connie Brockway?

- bio -
Connie's early years are shrouded in mystery. What we do know is sketchy and incomplete but will be presented here in lieu of another way to fill space.

Brockway claims to be a native of either Minnesota or New York. Neither has been confirmed. She also claims to be thirty-two. No one has even bothered looking into this.
We do know she was attending graduate school at the University of Minnesota when she became involved with medical student, David Brockway. At some point they apparently legalized the relationship because when next she surfaces, she is sporting a new surname and a daughter.
A decade of relative anonymity ensues– except for the infamous alien encounter photographs which have, of course, now been debunked. No substantiated records occur until 1994 when Brockway published her first book, PROMISE ME HEAVEN.
Since then she has written over twenty full-length novels and anthology stories, bringing the current number of her books in print to over 1,500,000 published in thirteen countries.
Brockway has twice received coveted Publishers Weekly starred reviews and unqualified recommendations from Library Journal, as well as two starred reviews from the Library Journals organ, BOOKLIST. Her 2004 title, My Seduction was named one of 2004s top ten romance by that same industry magazine.
An eight time finalist for Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award, Brockway has twice been its recipient, first in 1998 for My Dearest Enemy and in 2002 for The Bridal Season. Her books regularly appear on national and regional bestseller lists and are frequent Doubleday/Literary Guild selections.
Today Connie lives in Minnesota with her husband David, a family physician, and two spoiled mutts.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian