ARC Review: Hide from Evil by Jami Alden

Format: E-bookhidefromevil
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Trilogy, Book 2
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Sean Flynn
Heroine: Krista Slater
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: November 1, 2011
Started On: October 30, 2011
Finished On: October 30, 2011

Hide from Evil is the second book in an untitled trilogy by Jami Alden, the first book of which skyrocketed its way towards my favorites book shelf earlier this year. If you are tempted to pick this one up, not that you can’t read this as a standalone, but in my opinion you definitely need to read book 1 first to experience the full impact of the story as it unfolds and for you to be invested in the characters and the outcome of their happily ever after as much as I have been ever since finding out about the expected release date of this book.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Krista Slater is a woman on a mission. Krista who has a vision of her working her way towards the top of the Prosecutor’s Office, always sticking to the rules and never straying from them finds herself wallowing in a conflicting mass of guilt and regret when she finds out that she has wrongly prosecuted and sent an innocent man to the death row. It had only been the tenacious work of Sean Flynn’s sister Megan who had refused to give up on her brother against all odds that had brought to light the actual killer who had neatly tricked everyone into believing that Sean had been the Seattle Slasher.

Refusing to put the case to rest though Sean has walked away a free man, something about the case and its loose ends pricks and prods at Krista until she uses her own resources to find out whether there could be more to the Seattle Slasher case than everyone had originally thought. Her digging opens up a can of worms that she never comprehends, putting her and Sean in the path of a powerful family who would do anything and everything in their power to keep the secrets that they hide from ever seeing the light of day.

The last thing Sean expects is for Krista to turn up out of the blue and make him confront all those feelings that he has bottled up inside, having numbed himself for the past three years of his life because remembering the past just causes him nothing but endless grief, rage and pain. But Sean’s dormant libido seems to have its own agenda when it comes to the classically beautiful and reserved Krista, behind whose propriety lies a wicked sense of humor that cracks through his numbness right from the very start.

Though Krista knows that she shouldn’t let her wayward hormones rule when it comes to Sean, she can’t help but be drawn towards the man buried deep inside the mass of seething resentment that she had previously seen and brushed aside as the egoistic mannerisms of a psychotic killer. But as passion bursts forth and refuses to be denied in its quest to be fulfilled, neither Sean nor Krista is powerful enough to deny each other the need that they have for the other.

As a nationwide manhunt ensues for both Sean and Krista with no way of finding out whom they can trust, the harder they dig their quest leads them to places neither expected, forcing both Sean and Krista to face their changing feelings towards each other as the clock ticks towards the hour of reckoning.

Hide from Evil though a bit toned down in the darker aspects that we come across in Beg for Mercy is still a book of the unputdownable variety. Sean Flynn was everything that I had imagined him to be in my mind and I damn near swallowed my tongue from salivating over his tortured hotness that just about seeps through the words each and every single time he comes into the picture. His desire for Krista that spills over the tight control he holds over all his emotions was one of the best aspects of the story, his resentment towards the woman who helped put him behind bars no match for the red haze of lust and need that nearly blindsides him with its ferocity.

Krista is a heroine basically carved out for my favorite heroines shelf. She is beautiful & smart with a heart of gold, a woman who has the best of intentions at heart and whose truthful nature forces her to face the one mistake she has made in her career and put it to rights. It was the way she seemed to understand Sean, the fears that he battles with each and everyday of his life since he walked out of prison and the way that she wants him with that a no holds barred passion that makes her the type of heroine that I just adore.

Once again, I loved how Jami seems to know just in which direction to steer the story forward, when to bring in the action and when to bring in those intricate details about the past events that teases the memory to recall what happened in book 1 of the trilogy. The scenes of passion between Sean and Krista are of the scorching hot variety, not overly erotic but with just enough action to really make one heat up as you read along. Paving the way for book 3, Run from Fear which is to come out early next year starring the sexy ex-Green Beret Jack Brooks that I just know is going to invade my heart as soon as I get my hands on the story, though Beg for Mercy proved to be a tough act to follow, Jami Alden comes darn close in delivering what the reader expects from her in this second installment.

A taut, gripping novel of suspense with underlying sexual tension hot enough to keep the adrenaline pumping; Hide from Evil is another superb installment in Jami Alden’s unbeatable trilogy of dark romantic suspense!

Favorite Quotes

(Sean) “The therapist calls it cleithrophobia.”
“That sounds like a fear of something else,” Krista snorted before she could stop herself. She bit her lip, as shame washed through her.
Sean turned, his startled laughter sounding rusty as it erupted from his chest. “No, I’m definitely not scared of that.”

Like punch through the brick wall he’d built around himself and give in to the sudden, desperate urges to touch, to taste, to feel. Krista Fucking Slater. Of all the women in the world, why was she the only one who managed to remind him he was still alive in a way no one had been able to in three long years?

“Jesus, you’re beautiful,” he murmured and she felt the warmth of his breath on her face and yes, he was going to kiss her. His mouth came down on hers, hot and fierce. She parted her lips and licked into his mouth, loving the way he shuddered and groaned at the contact.
Her response was fast, ferocious, startling in its intensity. One kiss and she was fired up, more turned on than she could ever remember being.

(Sean) “Sometimes the system fails. And sometimes you have to break the rules to get what you want.”

“I wish I could tell you this was all just because I’m desperate and horny, making up for lost time after being locked up.” He slid his palm under the hem of her T-shirt, groaning at the feel of warm, smooth skin. “It would be so much easier if that was all this was.” He cupped a breast and flicked a nipple through the silk of her bra, loving the way it jumped to immediate attention against the pad of his thumb.
“There hasn’t been anyone,” he said between kisses. “I haven’t wanted anyone. I’ve been walking around like I’m dead inside and then you show up.” He couldn’t keep the edge out of his voice, angry at his own lack of control. Like she needed anything more on him, but he couldn’t keep himself from spilling his guts. “All of a sudden all I can think about is how you smell, how you might taste.” He sucked her tongue into his mouth for emphasis. “How soft your skin would feel.” He whipped her shirt over her head and slid his hands down the smooth line of her back, down the curve of her waist and hip.

He smelled like sweat and sex and Sean, a potent combination that made her want to hold him here inside her and never let him go.

Requested Review: My Fierce Highlander by Vonda Sinclair

Format: E-bookmyfiercehighlander
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Untitled Series, Book 1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Laird Alasdair MacGrath
Heroine: Lady Gwyneth Carswell
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 27, 2011
Started On: October 27, 2011
Finished On: October 29, 2011

Gwyneth Carswell, the daughter of a wealthy English Earl finds herself banished to the Highlands, to the care of Donald MacIrwin a distant second cousin of her father’s. Believing the words of a smooth talker who had seduced and then dumped her when she had gotten pregnant with his child had been Gwyneth’s downfall, and for the past six years Gwyneth had been living in the Highlands where violence is the norm of life.

For Gwyneth whose gentle upbringing in England had taught her to love peace, rearing her son Rory amidst the constant whirl of violence is a trial in itself. And when she stumbles across the injured man lying in a war torn battlefield, even knowing that harboring the enemy would most likely get her killed or worse, the healer within Gywneth refuses to turn her back on the man who calls to something inside of her that refuses to be denied.

When Laird Alasdair MacGrath, leader of the MacGrath clan opens up his eyes to see a bonny English lass tending to his wounds, he is confused by the tingles of desire that rises forth at the most unexpected moment. Ever since his wife had died two years back, Alasdair had stayed true to the memory of his wife whom he had loved and adored till death had snatched her from his life.

When circumstanced find Gwyneth and her son Rory seeking refuge with the MacGrath clan, the awareness that had sprung forth from that very first day of their acquaintance multiplies until both Gwyneth and Alasdair have no will left in them except to embrace their desire for one another. Gwyneth who has experienced nothing but humiliation and at worse pain at the hands of men, whose banishment from life as she had known it had come because of her wanton desires for a man finds herself trying to resist Alasdair and the temptation he presents at every turn.

Alasdair who vows that he would never fall in love again and make himself vulnerable to an emotion that can tear his world apart finds himself slowly falling into the clutches of just that emotion as Gwyneth and Rory work their way into his heart, body and soul. The fierce desire within Alasdair to claim, protect and cosset Gwyneth surprises even him because of the strength of his feelings towards her, but Alasdair knows that for him, there would be none like Gwyneth ever.

My Fierce Highlander by Vonda Sinclair turned out to be an engaging read and for someone who isn’t much of a fan of Scottish heroes and their kilted form, I found myself imagining the sexy, handsome and vibrant Alastair with a kilt and just nothing else. Alastair is such a devastating hero, devastating I say because he makes no pretense of his feelings towards Gwyneth, doesn’t hide behind anger and resentment because of his feelings towards Gwyneth that makes him such a delicious hero. Though at times I cringed a bit from all the flowery compliments he bestows on Gwyneth, it is apparent right from the very start that when it comes to Gwyneth, Alastair would lay down his very life to protect her and her son.

Gwyneth survives in the Highlands because for her son Rory who means the world to her, she would do just about anything. Even if it means marrying a man twice her age, who is abusive at most or seeking refuge from the enemy until she can provide the kind of life she dreams of for her son, Gwyneth is prepared to do all that and more. The one hitch in her well laid plans comes from her desire to possess and be possessed by the only man who has ever stirred her senses and leaves her wanting more with each encounter.

But Gwyneth is a woman who is willing to sacrifice even her own happiness for the well being of her son and the turmoil she faces when Rory’s father plunges them into mayhem amidst the war and treachery from the MacIrwin’s clan nearly drives her into committing to spending the rest of her life in a loveless marriage, yearning for the fierce touch of her highlander.

Alastair proves time and yet again that he is willing to move heaven and earth to keep Gwyneth by his side and though Gwyneth keeps turning him down at every turn, Alastair still keeps coming back for more until the very last encounter drives him away from her with his heart torn into pieces, with her memories keeping her image very much alive in his mind.

I right about gave up on Gwyneth almost towards the end of the book, but decided to forgive her because she makes up for it at the end, proving her love and loyalty to a man who deserves all that and so much more.

Highly sensual and romantic with constant adventure to keep the adrenaline running, My Fierce Highlander by Vonda Sinclair rates as a great read, recommended for fans of the genre, and those who love a fierce yet tender hero who looks mighty fine in a kilt at any given time.

If you read My Fierce Highlander and enjoy it like I did, you would be left wanting to know more about Lachlan, Alastair’s younger brother who could charm the very devil, whose story has already been published this August. Now to find the time to read his story is the one teeny tiny problem I am left with…

Favorite Quotes

Gwyneth.
He passed her name through his thoughts a hundred times a day. He wanted to say her name, whisper it into her ear. But that would imply an intimacy they didn’t share.

He propped his cane up, placed his arm on the wall beside her and leaned casually, close to her. Closer than was proper. Her womanly essence sent his thoughts scattering. “Gwyneth, I wonder, have you ever had a kiss that near took your breath away?”
Her cheeks reddened even more.
“I confess, just the thought of kissing you the way I would like does that to me.”

She tasted of salvation and damnation at once. No woman had ever lured him to forget who he was…forget his past, his future, and fill him with the need to have her no matter the cost to his soul.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Smashwords

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Giveaway Winners – Kristan Higgin’s Until There Was You

First of all, I would just like to thank each and every single one of you who made this giveaway such a resounding success. This is by far is one of the two giveaways that received overwhelming response from visitors. And I can’t thank you all enough.

As promised, a winner has been drawn, one for the paperback edition and another for the e-book version.

I will be contacting the winners via e-mail and you have until the end of tomorrow (October 29, 2011) to respond to my e-mail. 

Winner of the Paperback Edition of Until There Was You:

Kathryn who left behind the following comment:

“Catch of the Day” was one of the best contemporary romances I’d read in a long time, possibly ever. I laughed, I cried, I didn’t want my journey with the characters to end 🙂

Winner of the E-book Edition of Until There Was You:

Claudia GC, the first one to leave a comment behind I might add, who wrote the following:

I haven’t read a book by Kristan yet but i would love to. I’ve read so many good reviews about her last book. Books by Jill Shalvis make me always laugh but still have a serious side to them.

Thank you for the interview and giveaway!

claudigc at msn dot com

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CONGRATULATIONS to both the winners, and once again thank you all for entering the giveaway.

Please come by and visit again, and I have a feeling I would end up giving away one more copy of Until There Was You in my Pick of the Month reads for October 2011 at the beginning of next month. So if you are still interested do come by and see whether the post is up!

ARC Review: Behind the Scenes by Natalie J. Damschroder

Format: E-bookbehindthescenes
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Carina Press
Hero: Rogan St. James
Heroine: Kennedy Smyth
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 31, 2011
Started On: October 24, 2011
Finished On: October 27, 2011

Behind the Scenes By Natalie J. Damschroder is the second novel by Natalie that I have tried out, which is set to release from Carina Press on the 31st of this month. Though I have managed to read just two of her novels, there is a theme that rings constant in both her books – you get heroines of the kick-ass variety that drive the story forward and heroes who are a bit laid back than the usual alpha heroes that we all clamor for.

Kennedy Smyth is the owner of  SmythShield, a small security company focused exclusively on projects with a humanitarian goal. It had been the death of her beloved brother working in one such project that had kickstarted Kennedy’s efforts and it had taken her 10 years to bring SmythShield to its current level and status. 

When Kennedy receives a request to monitor the security of the movie shoot of Coming of Day because of terrorist threats that a few selective members of the cast and the director of the film has been receiving, Kennedy’s first impulse is to say no and take on a project more related to what she usually handles. But in the end, Kennedy says yes and finds out that she had completely underestimated the level and focus of the threats that have been following in the wake of the shootings since the beginning.

When the handsome and sexy movie star Rogan St. James comes into the picture, Kennedy has no interest whatsoever in pursuing the curl of desire that leaps forth within her. A woman focused on her work and the pressure that it brings to her life is who Kennedy is and she has no intention of  changing that anytime soon.

Rogan is a laid back version of alpha heroes who doesn’t get as much time as I would have liked in the story. But the scenes that he does appear in, he does make them count and I think Rogan’s brand of laid back persuasiveness was exactly what Kennedy needed in order for her to see that sacrificing her whole life for the greater good of mankind isn’t all there is to living.

Kennedy who hates showing any sort of vulnerability knows that the first time in ten long years she is in danger of doing just that when bit by bit Rogan invades her thoughts, dreams, desires and then her life until the threats start focusing on the object of her affection. Though Kennedy tries her hardest to keep Rogan at bay, Rogan seems equally determined to do the opposite leaving her with no choice but to embrace his love in the end.

Behind the Scenes is very much an action driven suspense novel with bits of romance thrown in. Kennedy is a tough heroine, who makes it really hard for anyone to get close to her; her worst nightmare being that if she gets close to someone, he or she might be the target of enemies that she has accumulated over the past years. Her focus and intensity when it comes to the job at hand is awe-inspiring and humbling at the same time.

Rogan though he doesn’t play an overly major role in the story, turned out to be an endearing and sexy hero whose intention of never getting involved with an actress or a woman whose too driven goes up in flames when his attraction towards Kennedy develops into something much more than he ever envisioned. It is how Rogan seems to know exactly when to advance and retreat with Kennedy that seals the deal with her. Rogan has reserves of patience and of course the wisdom to let Kennedy be true to herself even when circumstances look pretty harrowing.

I liked the overall premise and the setting of the story. A female heading an exclusive security firm is a novel concept and the constant danger and action that is seamlessly integrated into the story makes for a compelling read. Though I felt that the romance aspect of the novel didn’t get an equal amount of attention as the suspense part, Behind the Scenes still managed to keep me turning the pages. I felt that unveiling who the villain turned out to be took just a tad longer than necessary because by the time the story hits the last couple of chapters it is pretty obvious who the villain is.

Rated as good read, Behind the Scenes by Natalie J. Damschroder is recommended for those who love action driven suspense novels with kick-ass heroines leading the story.

Favorite Quotes

He propped his hands on his hips, shook his head slightly and turned his gaze from the front of the building to meet her eyes, dead on. “It sounds ridiculous, but I want you to have dinner with me. Since we have an early night.”
Those truths clamored louder. She shook her head.
“Why not?”
“I don’t have time, Rogan.” […]
“You don’t have time to eat?” he asked.
Kennedy blew out a breath. “I don’t have time for dating games.”
“Good, neither do I.”
“Then what’s this?”
He let go of her and lifted his shoulders, hands out. “Flirtation?”
Something intangible popped, and the tension faded. She smiled. “I expected you to say foreplay.”  

Rogan caught her hand just before she got out of his reach, and tugged her slowly back toward him. His eyes met hers, and she realized just how good an actor he’d been for the last few days. Where before she saw mild interest, now she saw intensity. Need.
Purpose.
He put his hand on the back of her head and dipped down for the kiss she’d daydreamed.

[Rogan] “I’ve been watching you, and you’re more confident and decisive than any woman I’ve ever known. There’s no pretense to you. No concern that what you’re doing is the wrong thing, or that you’re not doing it right.”
“And you don’t like those traits in a woman?”
“I do. I didn’t know that until I found them.”   

What he’d wanted before had crumbled away, leaving the truth of what Kennedy did to him. It was new, and there was a long way to go before it could be right, but that was the path he wanted to take. 

She stepped forward into the shadows with him and took his hand. “What do you want from us, Rogan?”
He shuddered with the force of his expelled breath and intertwined his fingers with hers. “I’m not sure.” He brought their hands to his lips and rested them there, not kissing or licking or being seductive, just touching. “I think I want it all. I’ve barely kissed you, but I already know it won’t be enough. Even sex won’t be enough. You’re deep in my system.”

Purchase Links: Barnes&Noble | Carina Press | BooksOnBoard

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Requested ARC Review + Interview & Giveaway: Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins

Format: E-bookuntiltherewasyou
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Liam Declan Murphy
Heroine: Cordelia Wilhelmina Osterhagen
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 25, 2011
Started On: October 17, 2011
Finished On: October 19, 2011

Though I am no writer and don’t think I ever will rise up to that standard, I too have had my share of English assignments during which painstaking hour after the other, I have tried to give life to my words so that those who read it would feel the same set of emotions that I was going through as I was writing it. And with Kristan Higgins I think that’s exactly what she achieves with her novels, the laughter that comes with such ease as do the tears of the happy and sad variety together with those sheer moments of perfection that just makes her stories so entertaining.

Until There Was You is my second novel by Kristan Higgins and I am mighty happy that this was in fact not written in the first person. According to the author’s note, this is a first for the author because she has written the story from the male lead’s point of view as well, for the very first time in a novel of hers.

Liam Declan Murphy, the first man Cordelia Wilhelmina Osterhagen (Posey) had fallen in love with, the first man to ever break her heart is back in town, now a widower with his teenage daughter Nicole in tow. The significant role which Liam had unknowingly played in Posey’s life the night of her prom which had changed something deep inside of her, Posey never thought that her girl parts would sing & rejoice at the sight of the sexy as sin Liam who still manages to take her breathe away by just strolling into a room.

Circumstances find both Liam and Posey in each other’s company, more than once until the one sided awareness and attraction that Posey has had since forever for Liam suddenly ceases to be on her side alone. With kisses of the knee weakening variety, Liam and Posey find themselves in a friends with benefits sort of relationship that reaches its conclusion when Liam is forced to face the consequences of his relationship with a woman who really sees him for who he is, and makes him believe in his self worth for the very first time in his life.

Until There Was You is just more than a simple love story. Yes, there is a hero who can fulfill any woman’s fantasies and there is a heroine who just clutches at your heartstrings with the turn of the very first page. But, with a Kristan Higgins you don’t get the instant attraction turning into lust and love story. Rather you get to experience the journey that the hero and heroine embark upon in their joint quest towards a happily ever after, one that seems a very unlikely possibility when the story first kicks off.

As I have said earlier, Liam is the sort of man that we all base our naughtiest fantasies on. With the bad boy persona down to a fine art, looks good enough to have women practically hurling themselves at him and the way he can focus his smoky green eyes in that special way that makes a woman go weak at the knees, needless to say my hormornes were doing their happy dance throughout the story. But Liam is not just a pretty face, neither is he just the bad boy who fell in love with the kindest and most popular girl in high school. There is a depth to his character that bit by bit when revealed you can’t help but fall that much harder for him because his character demands nothing less.

The fears that Liam battles after the death of his wife, the way he is completely and utterly devoted towards ensuring that his daughter would never want for anything is one of the many reasons why I fell so hard for his character.

Posey, the adopted daughter of German parents is no traffic stopping beauty. But there is an inner beauty that shines through her right from the very start, the way she lusts after and loves Liam with everything she has got which turned out to be such a refreshing aspect to the story. The way Posey seems to understand Liam, see him for who he is and know his worth even when everyone else expected the worst from him was one of the reasons why Posey’s character endeared to me so much. The relationships that she has with her adopted parents, her gay brother and her brother in law together and that with her co-workers, all lend the story that extra fodder that made this novel an instant page-turner for me.

I swear that this is the very first time that I have practically questioned my sanity by laughing out so loud and laughing so hard at the way that Kristan seems to hit all the right spots with the humorous aspect of the story. I was thanking my lucky stars for the fact that I was alone when I was reading what follows the scene in the elevator because I’m afraid that otherwise someone might have reported me to the looney authorities.

There were moments in the story that were seriously deep, moments that I cried sad and joyous tears, moments that pretty much made it the 5-star read that this turned out to be. The moments towards the end of the novel, where Liam finally gets the courage to stand up for himself in front of his in-laws, the ‘speech’ that he gave at that moment practically had me bawling my eyes out.

Though I felt that Liam fell a bit short on the love-o-metre when compared to Posey, since I didn’t get the “to-hell-with-everything-else-I-love-this-woman-with-everything-I-am” vibe that I was expecting, I still managed to brush aside my misgivings because Liam does make up for most of it with the sweetest gestures ever!

A story that tickles your funny bones, tugs at your heartstrings and delivers one of the most wickedly sinful heroes ever, Until There Was You is a novel that comes highly recommended from the sunny side of life!

Favorite Quotes

The simmering lust, the raging interest exploded into love. Who wouldn’t fall in love with a man who took the time to feed a homeless kitty? She held that image against her heart like a secret jewel. Only she knew about it, she was sure. Those girls Liam might’ve slept with, girls who left their panties in his locker or wrote things about him on the bathroom walls…they didn’t know what Posey knew—
Liam Declan Murphy was not just the hottest thing ever to grace Bellsford High…he was a softy, too.

That moment when she’d crouched behind the tree…it did something to her, something that made her grow up and toughen up. But one question throbbed in her brain for a long, long time. Why? Why would Liam say something so hateful? How could he—who had tamed a stray and starving cat—be so cruel to a girl who had only ever wanted to be his friend?

“OH!” KATE GRUNTED as she sat down behind her desk.
“My side is killing me. I’m ovulating, I think. That sucker must be huge.”
“Must we discuss?” Jon asked.
“Man up, weenie boy,” Kate said.
“You man up, Venus Williams,” Jon replied. “I’m a gay home-ec teacher. I never have to man up. I never will man up. As God is my witness, I’ll never man up again.”

“You want to go to the movies tomorrow night?” he asked, and Posey was so shocked she actually choked.
“What?” she managed.
“The movies? Tomorrow?”
“Um…I, uh…um…what movie?”
He narrowed his eyes just a little, and Posey’s nether parts gave a long, happy squeeze. Get his clothes off, those parts advised. We’re lonely.

There was a little smile on his mouth—the mouth that had been kissing hers. Otherwise, he was incommunicado.
“Liam?” she said again, more loudly this time.
Nada. He was out cold. Down for the count.
She straightened abruptly. Face was burning, joints buzzing with adrenaline, chest filled with helium.
Liam Murphy had kissed her.
And he’d fallen asleep in the middle of it. She didn’t know whether to burst into song or kick something.

Then she smiled, just a flash, and something moved in Liam’s chest. Something warm, and something he hadn’t felt in a long time.

Kristan’s Interview on Until There Was You

So I managed to find just a bit more about this fabulous book from Kristan who was kind enough to answer a couple of questions about the characters and the writing process which makes this book such a perfect addition to your must-read pile.

MBR: Underneath all the humor and laugh out loud moments, you have created a story of healing, love and second chances. How did you come up with Until There Was You? Did the story end as you envisioned it at the beginning or did Liam and Posey stumble through their own paths towards happily ever after?

Kristan: Oh, thank you so much! I wanted to write what’s a classic theme in romance—the return of the bad boy. You’re right, the book is absolutely about second chances…for Liam, Posey and everyone else. I did have a plan for how the book would go, and generally, it did follow the path I’d envisioned, but you know how it is. The characters would occasionally veer off and do something I didn’t expect, and those are usually the best moments.

MBR: What would you say was the most difficult aspect of this story to write?

Kristan: You know, writing Posey was tricky. I am neither small nor skinny nor adopted, and it took me a while to get into her vibe. Once I did, I absolutely loved her.

MBR: There isn’t even one side character that I would do away with in the story. And though I am not one to enjoy gay romances I found myself totally charmed with Jon and Henry’s characters. How do you manage to so effortlessly weave all these characters and their traits together? As a writer do you find it challenging to juggle all the characters and their nuances together in a story?

Kristan: Thank you so much! Jon and Henry were among my faves, too, but there’s no effortlessly about it. I take a long hard look at all the secondary characters and make sure that in addition to providing color and richness, they actually serve a purpose in the story. I do find it a challenge, but it’s my favorite kind. I love writing secondary characters!

MBR: Would you ever consider writing a sequel to Until There Was You? Maybe a story featuring Kate, Posey’s best friend or maybe even Brianna and James?

Kristan: For now, no. I love where the story ended. Kate was so supremely happy with life, I don’t think she needs her own story. As for Brianna and James…I picture them happy already.

GIVEAWAY!! GIVEAWAY!!

There are two copies of Until There Was You up for grabs. A paperback copy open for US residents only & an e-copy open for everyone else!

All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment behind sharing with us your favorite Kristan Higgin’s romance. If you haven’t read any romances by her just share with us your favorite romance that made you laugh out loud and cry happy tears at the same time. Easy right?

And don’t forget to leave behind a valid e-mail address for a way to contact you.

The giveaway will end at 12:00 hours Maldivian time on the 27th of October 2011.

Winners will be randomly chosen and announced soon after.

Good luck & don’t forget to spread the good news either via Twitter or via Facebook by recommending this post.

ARC Review: The Heart of a Killer by Jaci Burton

Format: E-booktheheartofakiller
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: The Killer, Book 1
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Hero: Dante Renaldi
Heroine: Anna Pallino
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 18, 2011
Started On: October 21, 2011
Finished On: October 22, 2011

Sixteen year old Anna Pallino is attacked  in a dark alley and a heart carved on her chest, an assault that haunts her by the sheer brutality and unexpectedness of it. It is only by the intervention of her then boyfriend Dante and his foster brothers Jeff, Roman and Gabe that she escapes with her life intact. But that dark dreary night changes Anna and the relationship she has with the guys she considers as her brothers apart from Dante. When Dante ups and leaves without looking back, Anna is left to lick her wounds in private, battle the fears that seems a part of her since the life altering moment in the alley.

Twelve years later, Dante returns back to his hometown only to bring in his wake the murder of his foster father, in a manner eerily similar to the night of the attack on Anna that had changed Dante’s life for better or worse. The version of Dante that returns is a more lethal and dangerous one, one who has honed the skill of killing down to a fine art. When Dante comes face to face with the newer and harder version of Anna who has been a cop for the past 7 years, Dante knows that his memories of the one woman who had remained in his heart doesn’t do justice to the impact she still has on his heart, body and soul.

With a killer who is willing to play hide and seek with Anna, taunting her with the murders of those dear and close to her, Dante is determined that he would stick by her side and be there for her, a chance he never had 12 years earlier. But what Dante and Anna never figure out is that  the killer is much closer to home than any of them dared to think of, and he is willing to do everything in his power to come out as the winner in this game of cat and mouse that just never seems to end.

The Heart of a Killer is my first Jaci Burton. I have always heard that she writes romances high in sensual content and that was what I expected to find together with suspense of the dark and edgy variety. Though there are moments of toe-curling passion in the book, Jaci Burton seems to have toned down with the sensual aspect of the book and brought out more of the crime-solving aspect. Nevertheless it is obvious that Jaci has got what it takes to deliver a healthy dose of sensuality in her romances and I loved how Dante was patient enough and understanding enough to give Anna exactly what she needs when it comes to physical intimacy.

Dante is a hero who is sweet and dangerous all at the same time. The way he is willing to forgo his wants and needs just because he wants what is best for Anna, and the way he is protective without being overly stifling about it makes him such an endearing character. And though I liked Anna’s character well enough, I just didn’t fall for her as I should have. Anna’s strength and the way she continually battles her fears made me admire her, but I just didn’t feel the “love” when it came to Anna.

The mystery and suspense potion of the story is well done. The person who turned out to be the killer at the end totally surprised me as I was betting everything I had on the wrong person all along. Even then, I felt that at times there was too much rehashing going on of the events that had taken place in the past which diminished my enjoyment factor with the novel as a whole.

Even with certain aspects of the story that didn’t quite wow me, I still managed to enjoy my first Jaci Burton and would rate this as a good read, recommended for fans of the author and fans of police procedural romantic suspense.

Favorite Quotes

She hated that he was here, messing up her life, making her want things she’d wanted for a long time, then pushed to the back of her mind, forcing herself to forget.
She inhaled the scent of him. Big mistake, because God help her, she wanted to put her hands on him, and in that moment she realized the feelings she had for him weren’t dead.

She threw her hands in the air. “Of course I was tense. You were kissing and touching me and I was turned on like crazy. Also, I haven’t had a decent orgasm in like six freaking months. Are you reading my lips here? Six. Months. You’d be tense, too, wouldn’t you?”
Dante gaped at her. Anna threw him a murderous glare.
“Are all men this dense or just you? Jesus, Dante, do I have to draw you a road map to my vagina, or are you grabbing a clue?”

There was no way she could rock against him, filled with him, and not be affected. This wasn’t a quick coupling in the dark—it was no-holds-barred, lights-on, open-eyed lovemaking with a man who wouldn’t accept anything less than her total surrender.

Requested ARC Review: When Harriet Came Home by Coleen Kwan

Format: E-bookwhenharrietcamehome
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Carina Press
Hero: Adam Blackstone
Heroine: Harriet Brown
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 24, 2011
Started On: October 19, 2011
Finished On: October 20, 2011

When Harriet Came Home By Coleen Kwan is set to release from Carina Press on the 24th of this month. Set in the small town of Wilmot in Australia, When Harriet Came Home tells the story of Harriet Brown who comes back home after a period of ten years upon receiving the news that her father had been involved in an accident.

Harriet had been an overweight and shy child which had earned continuous ridicule from her peers. But what had really driven her out of her hometown had been her involvement in bringing to light the damning photos of Warwick Blackstone, the Lord Mayor of Wilmot, receiving a bribe from a property developer which had forced the long-time mayor to resign. Rather than be thanked and applauded for her role in the matter, Harriet had felt more and more alienated until she had finally left home and carved a life for herself as a caterer in Sydney.

When Harriet comes back, the last thing she expects is to run into Adam Blackstone, the only child of Warwick Blackstone, who seems to have grown out of his smooth boyish good looks into a virile and rugged looking man who makes all her senses come alive. And the one thing that Harriet learns even from the very first encounter with Adam is that her hopeless infatuation with Adam when she had been the chubby outcast and he the golden boy of town is stronger than ever, and this time she might just lose her heart for good if she ain’t too careful about it.

Harriet’s well-meaning father who wants her to bury her regrets once and for all pushes Adam and Harriet together, the preparation for the Harvest Ball supposed to be Harriet’s way of making amends and Adam’s quest in bringing back the good name which had belonged to his family for decades. Though Harriet is wary of her attraction towards Adam which she thinks will only lead to more heartache, she finds herself saying yes to the answering need which flares to life in Adam’s eyes whenever they are together. Its a difficult road that these two take towards happily ever after, not because of external influences but rather due to Harriet’s own insecurities which she doesn’t seem to get rid of until towards the very end of the novel.

When Harriet Came Home starts off on a pretty good note. I loved the setting, the way Coleen Kwan seemed to bring her characters to life and of course the sizzle between the sexy Adam and Harriet which is a constant whenever they are thrown together. I loved Adam’s character, the way he had grown up into a man so different from whom he had been 10 years back, a man forced to make a name & place for himself when everything he had loved and coveted had been taken away from him. Though at first he is pretty much antagonistic towards Harriet which is understandable, Adam thaws pretty quickly, not wanting to hold a grudge against Harriet when all he can think about is kissing her senseless and having his way with her. I loved how Adam could see the good in people and the fact that he has an abundance of patience when it come to dealing with Harriet who never seemed to be able to make up her mind.

For me, Harriet’s character was the one that I couldn’t get fully on board with. At the beginning, I liked her well enough, the insecurities that she was feeling pretty much expected when one returns home to a lukewarm welcome at best from the town folk. But what made me dislike Harriet was how she seemed to judge other people when she herself had been on the receiving end of such treatment in her childhood. Harriet who should have understood never seemed to be able to look beyond the surface unlike Adam who seemed to able to see the good in people. I especially found myself irked by the way Harriet seems to be so judgmental when it comes to Adam, again never seeing anything below the surface, never accepting & believing in her heart just how much Adam had changed for the better.

If Harriet had truly being in love with Adam as she professes to be, she would have been able to see the good inside of him and accept him for who he is, and in my opinion Adam makes for one fine hero! If Harriet’s character had stayed true to what she started out like at the beginning of the story, I would have enjoyed the story much better all around.

Though I didn’t turn out to love Harriet’s character, I would still rate this as a good read, recommended for contemporary romance fans who love a sexy reformed hero who wears a tool-belt on occasion. *winks*

Favorite Quotes

He wore jeans and a thin white singlet which clung to his broad chest. His tanned biceps bunched as he hammered away, and his skin glowed with perspiration under the warm sun. Harriet’s mouth went bone-dry. A rush of heat boiled over her, licking her skin, surging inside her breasts, her thighs. Her response was instantaneous. She had no control over it. One look at Adam’s body and desire ignited in her.

She sucked in a breath as their gazes clashed and his face altered. She could see the sweat beading the line of his close-cropped dark hair, could feel the heat radiating off his bulky shoulders, and smell the tang of hard work rising from his chest. A work belt clung to his hips. A smattering of hair flecked his gleaming pectorals above the singlet. With his chiselled face, his impressive biceps and long legs, he could have been a pin-up for one of those beefcake calendars. Mr November, with those grey Scorpio eyes watching her every move.