Posted in Circle of Desire, My Books, Odd Observation, Reading, Recommendations, The Circle series

Stories from Dark to Light

Readers are really benefiting from all of the independent publishing. You like dark romance, you have your choice of how dark. Want a romantic comedy? Yep, you bet your sweet bippy they’re out there. How about erotica? What type? BDSM? Of course, sir. Age play? Yes, Papa. Have a fetish? There’s a book out there for you. Historical or paranormal? Or both? Or everything above? Goodness, yes.

I love all kinds of romances, but I’m still old fashioned about one thing. My heroine or hero (read or write) cannot be married to another when the relationship is starting up or going on. Oh, yes, there are romances out there like that. Crazy, heh?

CircleofDesire mm cI love marriages of convenience (historical or contemporary), male – female spy teams, cowboys (historical or contemporary), and reverse roles (like my book Circle of Desire, the heroine was the dangerous assassin). Most of my reading and writing is dark, though I do enjoy reading romantic comedy on occasion. But the hero or heroine cannot be or act stupid. Bad or dumb luck is okay.

As I like to do every once in a while, here are some recommendations.

Lucas: A Cold Fury Hockey Novel  By Sawyer Bennett:  I do love this series. This book is one of her best. Such an unusual heroine. She has issues I can relate to. A great guy hero. Sweet story. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hot. Just lots of feels.

Alien Slave Master series by Samantha Cayto (The Captain’s Pet, The Rebellious Pet, The Untamed Pet, The Captive Pet, The Inconvenient Pet, The Undercover Pet.) Now be aware, these are not for everyone. So go with caution. Be sure to read the excerpts the on-line booksellers provide. The author did a great job on the emotions, and there was a wide spectrum.

I’m presently listening to the audio of Louise Bay’s The Empire State Series: A Week in New York, Autumn in London, and New Year in Manhattan. Lots of sex, but it doesn’t get monotonous. Good narrators and just an enjoyable story. Ms. Bay continues to make me happy.

I have mixed feelings about the dark romance (audio) Echo: A Dark Billionaire Romance (Bleeding Hearts Book 1)  by A. Zavarelli. In one of my earlier recommendations, I mentioned some of her books. (Love Ghost.)  This one . . . I liked but it went off in left field a few times. Still I enjoy this author’s unusual characters. I might get the second book’s audio. Still debating.

Her book, The Beast, no. It was too much of everything — too dark — and I read some crazy stuff. If you decide to check it out, be aware the male lead rapes the female. Multiple times. I just can’t call him a hero. Then again that might be your thing. You’ve been warned. I feel this is one of her older books she released after some/a lot success from her newer ones. Then again, what do I know. By the way, I listened to the audio and wasn’t too happy with the narrator.

Speaking of the narrator, for the last two books mentioned, she had a lilt at the end of every sentence. Bug the crap out of me. I guess I’ll stick to reading A. Zavarelli’s books, instead of listening to them.

Posted in Audio, Reading, Recommendations

My Latest Recommendations

Woman Reading a DiaryAs I mentioned before, I listen to audio books on my drive to the day job and back. Well, actually anywhere that takes tens minutes or more, such as trips to Nashville (Go Preds!), luncheons, conferences, and writers’ meetings.

This week, I enjoyed Shadow Music: A Novel by Julie Garwood. A story set in the Middle Ages (King John). In the range of my favorite time period. Plus, it reminds me  of why I love Ms. Garwood’s books. The story is captivating, lightly sexy, charming, and well-written. A note about the story: some people may think the heroine is too accommodating to the hero’s dictatorial attitude. But I think it’s perfect for the time period. Besides, the heroine knows when to pick her battles. She’s a sweetheart. The hero gives in when she explains her reasoning. A great balance. Makes you fall in love with both of them.

The icing on the cake is the narrator. Davina Porter is massively talented. I love her Scottish accents. If her name sounds familiar, she was/is the narrator for the Outlander series. Her narration got me through the first three books of that series and thoroughly made me a happy girl with this book.

In April, I listened to Maya Banks’ The Enforcers series: Mastered, Dominated, and Kept. I will say I would have enjoyed this series better if I had read them. The narrator had an awesome voice, but the female voices and nuances were off.

When it comes to reading, I’ve gone through about six books since my last recommendation with a few DNFs. Only one is worth mentioning, and I’m not finished with it yet. Not that it’s great, it’s kept me reading. The writing is rich with wonderful detail. That can be a catch-22. It can drag down the story. The title is The Warrior’s Game by Denise Doming. Another one set during the King John’s reign. I guess I’m stuck in that era.

Happy reading!

 

Posted in Reading, Recommendations

What Have I Been Reading?

Woman Reading a DiaryIf you’re wondering how I find time to read, what with a full-time demanding job, and writing a novel at the same time. That doesn’t include attending my writing groups’ (two beloved RWA chapters) meetings. On top of all that, I’m a hockey fan, and I watch every game my team plays (GO PREDATORS!), and go to games when I can. And even more important is my family who I love most of all and deserve my attention.

But I’m a book-aholic. So I find time.

How you ask? Well, I read between hockey periods, during commercials, before turning in for the night, at doctor appointments, sitting out in the parking lot before walking into work, during lunches, while cooking or/and eating. E-books are great when it comes to finishing one book, you can immediately start a new one. Feed that addiction. Plus I listen to audio books.  (All of that and writing!)

Now for the recent books I’ve read. Just a reminder, I only mention the ones I enjoyed.

A couple of the books by Zavarelli surprised me with her unusual heroines and unique plot choices. I’m rarely surprised and ended up enjoying them, especially Ghost.
Boston Underworld series by A. Zavarelli
Crow
Reaper
Ghost
Saint

I guess I’m on a criminal kick.  Enjoyed the first one that came in this set.
Romanian Mob Chronicles (series) Books 1- 3 by Kaye Blue
Keep

Here’s one from an old original favorite author, and it’s been several years since I read one of her books. This one I enjoyed because the heroine was hated by so many people, including the hero, but she persevered and won over the hero and many others.
Make Me Love You by Johanna Lindsey

Many others books, I kind of enjoyed, but not enough to recommend here. Some, I couldn’t finish. When I don’t finish a book, it is often because I became bored with the plot or characters or both. Rarely, does it have anything to do with the quality of writing. Amazon’s Look Inside feature helps me check that out before I purchase.

Here are the audio books I enjoyed recently.
Roman: Cold Fury Hockey Series Book 7 by Sawyer Bennett
A Rouge By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean
Three, Two, One (A Dark Suspense) 321 by J.A. Huss
The Darkest Night: The Lords of The Underworld Book 1 by Gena Showalter
The Duchess War: The Brothers Sinister Book 1 by Courtney Milan

One series I’d listened to on and off over the last three months or so is Sylvia Day’s Crossfire. I have to say she did a wonderful job layering the personalities of the hero and heroine. She did hook me into listening to all five books. Heck, I couldn’t get further than Outlander’s Voyager. So that has to mean something. But by book three (even after breaking it up with other authors’ books), I became tired of hearing how beautiful they thought each other were. I really wish she had condensed them into three books. If so, they probably would have been one of those I listened to over and over again.

I do need to stay away from series that have the same main hero and heroine throughout. I have a tendency of getting fed up with the characters and story. Totally my hangup there.

Posted in Audio, Reading, Recommendations

Audio Book Favorites

Iphone-headphone-jackOn and off for many years I’ve listened to audio books from cassettes to iTunes to Amazon’s Audible. Overall, the narrators have gotten better. At one time, authors wanted well-known actors narrating their books. You can even see a few still do. But I have to say they are not always the best choice.

The ones I enjoy the best is 1) a female or male who can change their voice enough to sound like or make you think of the character they are speaking for.

My favorite audio books

I’ve actually listened to these more than once (partly because I enjoyed the story so much and partly for the savings. HA!)  You may notice some of the audio books below are repeats of my favorite books to reread. Goes without saying, I loved these stories.

Alex by Sawyer Bennett
Cris Dukehart did a great job on the female narration. The male narrator, Graham Halstead, has the kind of voice I love. Since the character is in his twenties, he has a young, but still mature, sexy voice.  He’s the narrator in all of Sawyer’s Carolina Cold Fury books. Smart move on Random House’s part. Hockey!!  Love hockey, but not all hockey books are equal. Just as the teams. Go, PREDATORS!

Lord of Wicked Intentions by Lorraine Heath
The narrator, Faye Adele, did a fascinating job. I completely forgot it was a woman talking during the male parts.

The Madness of Lord Ian McKenzie by Jennifer Ashley
Ditto above, but the narrator is Angela Dawe. I don’t know how the women narrators do it.

Beautiful Stranger by Christina Lauren
I love it when they have female and male narrators. It appears they only do when it is first person. Grace Grant did a wonderful job narrating for the female voice. Jonathan R. Cole is the male narrator, and his British accent is perfect to me. Very sexy, and I quickly learned not to listen to the male narration in the dark, before going to sleep. It felt like I was cheating on my hubby.  LOL!

Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks
Kristen Potter did a great job of giving us a little of the Scottish accent but not overwhelming.

What am I listening to now

Easy Love by Kristen Proby; narrated by Sebastian York and Rachel Fulginiti.

I enjoyed the female narration most the time, except when she spoke with a “New Orlean’s accent” for the hero and his family. Horrible. She really shouldn’t try. The male narrator did not, thank goodness. As always for Sebastian, he has a sexy voice, but I cannot tell when it’s the hero’s thoughts or if the hero is speaking it. His voice doesn’t distinguish between the two.

The story was cute, hot, and laugh out-loud funny at times. Loved the Taylor Swift drinking game. The only problem I had with the story was the heroine was late often to work and never called in when she wasn’t going to show up at all (I don’t care if she was sleeping with the boss. Her co-workers were not to know.) Working in an office for most of my life, the girl would be fired before the month was out and her co-workers would resent her. They would have to do her “pretend” job. Someone had to. Plus I kept wondering how the heroine was going to find out who was stealing money from the company if she never worked? And how did she expect to keep her affair with the boss a secret if they were running around town?

I kept telling my inner, anal reader to shut up and enjoy the story. I did and I did. Besides, it is fiction and for pure entertainment. Certainly worth listening to one time. I bet if you’ve never worked in an office, you’ll enjoy it a hundred times more.

Side note about listening to Outlander.

Davina Porter is the narrator. I have to say, if not for her, I would’ve never gotten through the whole book. Well, her and Jamie. The author did great on him. But so many stretches were so boring with unnecessary details and don’t get me started on Claire. That review/comment post will be for a later time. It’s written, but I prefer letting it sit for a while. So far it’s been over a year. Anyway, Davina is a wonderful narrator and deserves every dime she receives.

Posted in Odd Observation, Reading, Recommendations

Recommendations

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. In the past, I’ve done a few blog posts on books I’ve loved but nothing consistently. In fact, the few I’ve done are on my old blog if I remember correctly. So I thought every once in awhile, I’ll recommend books and let you know what I’ve recently read.

But first, I’ll start with a few favorites of mine that I love to re-read. I was talking with some readers the other day and was actually shocked to hear a couple say they never do. Too many other books out there to read the first time they said.

Oh, well. I do know that I find a new book at least once a year that I enjoy re-reading. I guess because I learn something from each one that can hopefully improve my writing.

So here are a few.

The Rainbow Season by Lisa Gregory (aka Candace Camp) 1989 – a bad boy wanting to improve his life and he falls for a good girl. Yet, the girl believes she’s not so good as she’s in love with her brother-in-law. I love wounded misunderstood bad boys and good girls who are not quite good.

The Madness of Lord Ian McKenzie by Jennifer Ashley 2011 – an man with autism (I believe) who pursues a widow. So well written and oddly because of his extreme concentration on the heroine, it’s quite sexy. And unique. I love unique.

All the Queen’s Men by Linda Howard 1999 – A super spy asks for help from a former female associate and during their new mission they fall in love. Doesn’t sound exciting, but the hero is awesome and Linda has a wicked sense of humor that comes out in her books. This book is the one that encouraged me to write Circle of Desire. My female assassin book. I love spy/assassin/mercenary books.

It Had To Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips 2002 – A ditzy blonde (smarter than everyone thinks) inherits a football team. The coach isn’t happy but finds love with the new owner. It’s funny and unique. At the least, that’s what I think.  If you get a chance, read the first line. It’s a hoot!

Ryker by Sawyer Bennett 2015 – A goalie and the team’s female manager fall in love. This book has so much heart. Ryker is the near perfect man and the heroine isn’t no wimp. Strangely, I’ve listened to this at least three times. So it edged out the true favorite of this series, Alex. Alex is the bad boy of the series and you know how I love bad boys.

There are more, but it’s getting late and I need to go to work tomorrow.

Hope you’ll check them out. Just remember the older the book, the older the style and some people don’t care for them. Then again, I consider them classics even if they’re a year old.

Posted in Full Heat, Hidden Heat, Men, My Books, Naked Heat, Reading, Writing

A Growth of a Series

PrintFirst, I love reading books with bad boy heroes. Hell, I married one. If you’ve ever read my Circle series, you’ll know how much I love writing about dangerous, ill-tempered (HA!) men.

When I began writing the Brothers of Mayhem series, I had already read a couple MC (romance/fiction) books and watched all of the Sons of Anarchy. Click here to read my post about researching the series.

So I thought readers of MC books would be interested to know that the first book (HIDDEN HEAT) of the Brothers of Mayhem is not the typical MC story. The majority of the bikers in that story are not good guys. But you will see a shift in book two (FULL HEAT – Storm’s story). It has a mixture of good and bad. New blood.

By book three (NAKED HEAT – Wolf’s story) you’ll see more of the brotherhood that you come to expect in a MC romance. And in the fourth book (RAW HEAT – Cutter’s story), the club heals and the brotherhood tightens.

It’s like this, throughout the series, each book can be read separately as stand-alones, but like the romance in each story, the club has a path to take with all of the ups and downs. The growth of the club as an unit will ensure its survival. In the end, it will have the right guy in place and everyone will be happy. *sniff* I do love for my people to have a happy ending.

And you could say each story has something for everyone, from the unique MC story to the hard core.

Posted in Men, Reading, Thoughts, Writing

What Model Of Alpha Do You Want?

tumblr_myfffeXLM61srko8to1_r1_500Reviews are a double edge sword. Authors want and need them to get the word out about their books, but reviews with low ratings and pure hate for a book are not helpful in my opinion. The reason I say it that way is that I had a well-known blogger tell me even horrible reviews can help sell a book. You know, everyone wanting to see if a book is really as terrible as everyone is saying. Heaven forbid, if that ever happens to me. I’m all for the positive hook.

Anyway, reviews per se is not what this post is about.

Occasionally, I read reviews from some of my favorite authors. Why you ask? Whenever I’m feeling down about my writing (what the fuck am I doing?) and need to see even my favorite NYT bestselling authors have a handful of disparagers among their hundreds of five star reviews. Yesterday, I was looking at an author whose publisher had released her backlist in ebook. So thrilling because now I can get copies for my iPad and the paperbacks can stay on my shelves in good condition.

On one hand, I was surprised by the many one stars (and anger) for books I love of hers. As I read the reviews, the main theme appeared to be the way the heroes treated the heroines.

See, from 1970s to 1990s, it had been popular for the heroes to be what I call supreme alphas. It started with the bodice rippers (literally, and by the way, I freaking hate that term for current day romance in general). Yes. Historical romances were queen in the beginning and the heroes thought nothing of ripping the bodice off the heroines. It was so different from what women had been reading before then. I can get into the dynamics of the sexual revolution and birth control and woman finding out they loved sex when there was little fear of pregnancy (only 2% to 9% fear as pills are 91% to 98% effective), but that is still not what this post is about.

In my dear favorite author’s earlier books, the heroes bossed and took over the heroines’ lives as if the women had no sense at all. At the time, and to a point nowadays, I love reading books with those types of heroes. But from what I’ve read in other articles, reviews and in general conversations with twenty- to thirty-something readers, they do not want a hero to act that way. In real life, I wouldn’t either, but, folks, this is fantasy. Anyway, onward and upward…

I thought that was interesting considering how many readers love kinky doms (BDSM), demanding billionaires, and dangerous bikers (MCs). So I compared the differences and realized in most cases, the older romances with dominating males, the heroes came across as cold and unfeeling at least until the end. While the new wave alphas show tenderness and often sweet talk their heroines, they are the same type of heroes, but they have smoother edges.

Both have pluses and minuses. I have found that sometimes when I’m reading a new author’s male point of view, the guys sound a little girlish. More of how the author wished a male would be. From what I know of most men, they are straightforward in speech and action and rarely think about how so-and-so feels about something. They believe they do what must be done and not worry overmuch about it. They have gut feelings and realizations. Not all of that touchy, feely, (I’m not talking about sex) I-have-to-talk-it-out stuff. Of course, there are the exceptions, but they are usually the villains.  HA!

Oh, if you’re reading an old romance, be sure to keep all of this mind. Hopefully the publisher (or author, if self-published) will show the original published date. It would be best in the end. Fewer rants by readers. Geez!