Pick of the Month December 2011 + Interviews & Giveaway!

I can’t believe its the beginning of a new year which means a whole lot of new books are to come that I am sure will rock my world. I have 3 picks for the month of December as well, December being a month that I enjoyed almost each and every book that I read immensely. That might have got something to do with the fact that I just read whatever I wanted and went with the flow because I never want the one thing I love to do most in the world to become a chore. So without further ado, my picks of the month ladies and gentlemen. And don’t forget to read the giveaway part to find out which exciting prizes are in store for you this January!

Pick #1: DANCING ON COALS by ELLEN O’CONNELLDacingoncoals

Anyone who has read my reviews of the two previous books published by Ellen O’Connell would know that I just flat-out adore the way she writes. Her books aren’t the type that you can just read and forget, the characters, the setting and the romance tends to linger on with you for a long, long time even after you are done.

So it warms my heart to be able to present to you my first pick of the month for December 2011, a novel from one of my favorite authors, her latest book entitled Dancing on Coals.

MBR: Native American romance is a dying breed in the world of romance. So what made you decide to write a Native American romance as your 3rd romance novel?

EO: All my romances are stories of the kind I like to read myself and can’t find enough of. I’m a western and historical kind of woman and can get as absorbed in reading American history as in a novel. Vampires and werewolves aren’t my cup of tea. I see divorce lurking in the shadows whenever I read a contemporary. I confess when I published my first romance, Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold in April 2010 I had no expectations that it would sell more than a few copies. Conventional wisdom says westerns are out of style and western historicals are a niche subgenre hardly worth bothering about. I accepted that as true. My intention up to that time had been to concentrate on getting more books out in my cozy dog mystery series. If I had a future as a writer, that’s where I believed it would be. Still, Eyes was a finished novel. It was a finalist in two writing contests. Why not get it out and let it find a few readers rather than sit on my computer’s hard drive?

Two months later Eyes reached what I think were its highest rankings in the Kindle store – #1 in Westerns and #10 in Historical Romance – and my ideas about my future as a writer changed. Yes, western and even more so Native American romances are niche subgenres, but there obviously are enough fans in these niches with me to make it worthwhile for someone who loves the Nineteenth Century American West to write them. Of course the hope never dies that a reader who isn’t a western fan will hear good things about my books, try one, and become a convert. I have gotten emails from readers like that.

MBR: I think I have run out of words to describe Gaetan and his effect on my senses. I loved how you kept his thoughts hidden until Chapter 9, making his character a that much more mysterious one. Did Gaetan come across on paper as you envisioned him or did he morph into someone totally unexpected along the way?

EO: Yes, Gaetan is as I envisioned him. I too love the mystery of him and perhaps because of that find him unbearably sexy. For me the idea of a Native American hero who takes one look at a white woman and falls “in love” because she’s so beautiful not only smacks of racism but isn’t very realistic. And within the general limits of our genre, I wanted the story to be as realistic as possible. Telling a love story with a hero that tough was a challenge, particularly as I didn’t want love to change him. I don’t believe a man like that would change.

When the book was done, I thought I had succeeded but worried readers would be put off by Gaetan. So I sent the book out to beta readers and waited for reports, half afraid of what I was going to hear. The reports I got back ran the full gamut of reactions – for every reader who felt as you and I do there was one who wanted Gaetan different. They balanced each other in number and intensity of feeling. The reader right in the middle loved the story, didn’t want Gaetan changed but wanted more insight into his character. After long arguments with myself, I decided to listen to that person in the middle and made revisions designed not to change Gaetan but to provide more insight into what he felt and why. When I started those revisions, I was gritting my teeth, not really wanting to do it, but before long I realized the book was stronger for it and stopped dragging my fingers on the keyboard. All the revisions as to Gaetan are in the second half of the book. For instance, the paragraph you chose as a quote that begins, “If a man could taste wind and fire, they would taste like Katherine,” was part of those revisions. But I really wanted the mystery about Gaetan in the beginning. I wanted readers to wonder how on earth a man like that could be the hero, and I never yielded on that vision.

MBR: I always tend to ask this question about heroes that I just flat-out adore. If Dancing on Coals were ever to be made into a movie, is there someone in your mind who would be just a perfect rendition for Gaetan? Or does a man as such not exist in real life?

EO: I’m embarrassed to confess that I’m such a stick-in-the mud I hardly ever watch movies. The one television in the house is a small portable that only gets network channels and sometimes sits unloved and unwatched for weeks. So my knowledge of today’s movie stars is close to zilch. The faces I had in mind when writing the book come from the photos in Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and are those of the Apache chiefs, Victorio and Naiche.

MBR: I loved Katherine. No two ways about it. She is courageous, daring and bold, her childhood lending her a lot of those qualities. When you first envisioned the story, was it someone like Katherine that you had in mind for Gaetan?

EO: My stories start the way I think a lot of writers’ stories do with a what if. What if two people were in these circumstances? Then of course the people have to be of a certain kind to react to those circumstances in a way that makes a story, and finally each character has to have a background that could produce that particular person in that particular time. Just as Gaetan could not have been Gaetan unless he had spent years in the white school, Katherine could not have been Katherine unless she came from a background that had her used to facing danger, being familiar with guns, etc. So to answer your question – Gaetan came first, and he required a woman like Katherine. When I threw him into a situation where he was forced to endure the company of a white woman rather than kill her, she had to be the kind of woman he would eventually stop hating and begin loving, not because of physical beauty but because of character.

MBR: So, what’s next in line from you? Any new releases set for 2012? And what would they be?

EO: Right now I’m working on the second book in my Rottweiler mystery series. The first mystery has its fans too, and I’ve been promising them another and putting them off in favor of the romances for some time now. As I’m working on that book I’ve been outlining the next romance. Yes, another western historical. I’ll probably start on that as soon as the mystery is finished, although I also have an idea for another short story featuring Anne and Cord Bennett from Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold. So I would say at least one mystery, one romance, and one short story in 2012. I’ve always been a binge writer and am trying to become more disciplined – with mixed results so far.

Pick #2: ATTACHMENTS by RAINBOW ROWELLattachments.jpg

I can’t express my love for all that makes up this book enough! If my gushy review wasn’t enough to drive across the point, then I guess the fact that this book landed as one of my favorite reads of 2011 would just have to be enough. This is a romance for those who love sweet and endearing heroes who just makes you go all warm inside just by their presence alone in the story.

MBR: I read from your website that Attachments is a novel that was a long time in the making. What made you write the story the way it is, using e-mails between two out of the three lead characters to develop them as endearing characters throughout the story?

RR: I think I was drawn to that sort of storytelling — sort of e-pistolary — because I really like to write dialogue. I’d never written a novel before, and I was very nervous about the narrative writing. It was hard for me to adjust to that third-person, past-tense distance. Also, I was insecure about my descriptive writing …

But I could write dialogue all day long.

I actually wrote all the emails before I wrote any of the chapters from Lincoln’s point of view, which have a much more traditional narrative.

MBR: I know that anyone who reads Attachments would irrevocably fall in love with Lincoln. How did his character come about? Is he based on any real life person/character that you know or are familiar with?

RR: Oh, thank you! I love when people love Lincoln; I have such a soft spot for him.

Lincoln isn’t based on any one person. In a lot of ways, he was written as a reaction to the heroes in most romantic comedies. When I was writing the book, I was really sick of characters who start out as insensitive, immature womanizers but then are converted into good guys by true love.

That doesn’t happen in real life. Insensitive jerks pretty much stay insensitive jerks.

So I wanted to write about a really good guy. A sensitive guy. The men in my life — my husband, my brothers, my stepfather, my friends — are loving, sensitive men. I wanted to show that guys like that aren’t boring or lame.

MBR: And I just have to ask this, if Attachments were ever to be made into a movie, who would you cast as Lincoln?

RR: Well, he’d have to be tall, wouldn’t he? I’d like an actor who can be both normal-looking and really cute, depending on the day. I kind of like Cory Monteith from Glee. He’s the right age, and he was a really thoughtful, sweetness to him. (He’s a little cute for Lincoln, but I think your could dress him down, let his eyebrows go to seed, etc.)

The other actor who I think would be great is Chris Pratt from Parks and Recreation. He’s pretty zany on that show, but he’s also got that sweet, lovable thing down.

MBR: So what’s next from Rainbow Rowell?

RR: My next book is called Eleanor & Park. It’s more of a straight-up love story than Attachments. (The characters actually meet before the last chapter …) I wanted to write a story that brings back that visceral feeling of falling in love for the first time. It’s about two misfit teenagers in 1986 who spend one school year falling in love and trying to sort each other out.

The book comes out in the UK and Australia in April — and in the U.S. in late 2012/early 2013.

Here’s some promotional copy for it:

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

Pick #3: SWEET DREAMS by KRISTEN ASHLEYsweetdreams

For me, my first experience of Kristen Ashley turned out to be a memorable one. Sweet Dreams turned out to be an outstanding read in every single way that I cannot recommend this book highly enough for everyone who loves romances. The hero is bad-ass and sexy to boot, him walking into the story just made me rejoice in everything that is female in me. And I was delighted when Kristen agreed to answer some questions about this awesome book, which I am sure fans of Tate would love to read!

MBR: Almost everyone who has read Sweet Dreams agrees with the fact that it is an outstanding read. Though a lengthy one, every single page was so worth it. As the story continues to hold a very special place in my heart, why do you think Sweet Dreams is such a roaring success with romance readers?

KA: Firstly, thank you for saying it’s an outstanding read! Secondly, it’s a surprise to me that it’s so successful. Not that I don’t love my folks in Carnal, I definitely do, just that I took a chance with this novel and wasn’t entirely certain it would be embraced. However, I’m delighted that it was embraced PRECISELY because of the chance I took.

My thought process was that I was intrigued with the idea of creating a hero who was a jerk. He had flaws, significant ones. He made poor life decisions. And he was hard to like. Then set about making people like him. Then Tate came into my head and away I went. But it was more than Tate. Those around him, too, are not cardboard cutouts and, on the face of it, not very likable either. For instance, Krystal is hard as nails. She has a soft center but she exposes that very infrequently. Bubba is more of a jerk than Tate, lovable but a total mess – he’s that guy in your life that you can’t help but like but you don’t exactly know why you do. And Jim Billy is, essentially, a functioning alcoholic.

I’m uncertain why it has been received so well but I think it might have to do with the fact that these folks are not perfect. These folks are people you know, people in your life and maybe even bits of them are in you. Readers can identify with them. There is a place for fantasy, the perfect hero who says everything right and does everything right, is unbelievably handsome, wealthy, jet-set and owns yachts and penthouses. Or he is angst-ridden and the heroine is so spunky, she breaks through and brings him bliss. And all the secondary characters are like fairy godmothers and godfathers flitting around the couple providing support and comic relief. I’ve written these too and love them as well. But then there are other fantasies, like Sweet Dreams, based more in real life that may be more fun because the reader might like their fantasy based in reality rather than the impossibly perfect knight in shining armor riding to the rescue.

And, personally, when I find characters in a book that I fall in love with, I can’t get enough of them. Silly little things like what they wear, how they redecorate a house and how they interact not just in situations that push forward the plot but everyday situations, I want to know. That is why this book is lengthy. Because I gave my readers not just a story but a town, its inhabitants, how they connect and interact, who they are and how they live. And, fortunately, I’ve been told by readers that folks enjoy that which is good because I do that in all my books!

And lastly, although our Tate is rough around the edges, the love he feels for Lauren is intensely beautiful. The way they learn to be with each other is wonderful to watch unfold. For instance, when she buys him the picture for his bedroom and he knows she’s spent a fortune on it. He knows that IF he knows what she’s spent, he’ll lose his mind. And he knows that losing his mind when she’s done something thoughtful for him will cause a fight, bad feelings, harsh words (right after they’ve had a go-’round). So he tamps that down and instead decides to look at it only as the loving gesture it was intended to be, enjoy it and the knowledge that she loves him like that. I love that Tate did that for Lauren. And (definite spoiler here), when she’s taken and he’s walking through the house, seeing her everywhere, smelling her, remembering their lives together in that house – writing that scene, I felt his pain intensely, his desperation, his understanding that at that moment while he’s walking through the house she could be enduring torture, he knows precisely what that torture entails, and these thoughts consume him. Even for a man of his strength, he is barely able to function. That’s how much he loves her. If she is killed, he will not be able to move on romantically. She’s the one, there is no other. When the villain is found, this is all Tate can think about… not only what he felt while he walked through their home but also knowing that, in a different way, his son was feeling much the same thing. Reading that scene, when they happen onto Lauren and the villain, I always have difficulty reading that Deke and Shambles see to a wounded Lauren while Tate sees to beating the crap out of the bad guy. The perfect hero would have no thought but for his heroine. But this is Tate, he is imperfect. This man caused his woman to feel fear, he hurt her, he set her running through the wood in terror and he must feel Tate’s wrath, he must pay because Tate cannot abide that his home was breached, the protection he provided for his loved one was broken and he must have vengeance. Obviously, that kind of love for a romance reader is going to be well-received :-).

MBR: Tatum Jackson has got to be one of the most awesomely fantastic and bad-ass heroes ever. I loved how realistically you portrayed his character which is I guess one reason why I fell so hopelessly for him. Is Tatum’s character based on any real life person that you know of? And I always envision Sawyer from Lost when reading about Tate. Who did you envision when you were writing his character?

KA: There you go, obviously a realistic hero is the ticket! Imperfect and real IS awesomely fantastic and badass! Love that!!!!

And kind of yes and no for Tate being based on a real life person. I went to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally a couple of years ago and met a GREAT number of bikers. There are many, many more men than women there and the crowd is very mixed. We were told, in the past, that it was very dangerous. But we experienced none of that. This is not to say there were not rough dudes there who were people we would not want to know. This is to say we met and spent time with men who were not like that and who made certain that that element did not come near us. Everywhere we went, we were surrounded by a bevy of bikers who looked out for us. If some not-so-nice biker made an approach or our biker boys sensed some danger, they would step up. They even watched our purses for us while we danced! No joke! There was something very cool about these rough and tumble men (VERY rough and tumble) who were who they were, got into what they got into but who were gentle and fiercely protective of women THEY DIDN’T EVEN KNOW that, as a writer of romance, I found utterly fascinating. And I put this in Tate.

That said, Wood is based on an actual man I met there… but Tate is not. He’s pure fantasy.

And as for envisioning someone while writing Tate or any of my characters, this doesn’t happen to me. This is because my characters come to me (in most cases) fully-formed. They live in my head. Even the secondary ones. So Tate, in my head, is a real person and I know exactly what he looks like, I hear his voice, I know how he walks, how he moves, how his clothes hang on his frame. Very recently, I was having a conversation with my husband and he asked if I could have my choice of anyone to play any of my characters in a movie, who would it be? I admitted to him that I would struggle with even selling my books to be made into films. He was surprised to hear that. But, for me, to have an actor play one of my characters would forever personify in people’s mind who that character is/what s/he looks like and I worry that my own lock on them in my head would melt away. And I love them in my head and I don’t want to lose them. That is not to say I would never entertain the notion of any of my books being made into films. I just would find that process difficult.

By the by, Sawyer from Lost… YUM! I don’t think I’d be upset if he was chosen for any of my heroes but my contract would state I have to meet him :-).

MBR: I absolutely adored Lauren’s character and I have to certainly agree with Tate on Lauren being all in a class by herself. If Sweet Dreams were ever to be made into a movie, who would you cast as Lauren?

KA: I think I answered that question above :-) (laughing to myself now because, really, I do go on). What I will say is that I would be extremely displeased if she was a 20- or 30-something size 0. I would want a beautiful actress with a curvy, woman’s body who was in her 40’s. I would want her to be true to my Lauren in those ways. And she would need to be able to pull off Lauren’s journey. It is probably not a surprise that I identified very closely with Lauren. I enjoyed her journey of self-discovery as led by Tate and the inhabitants of Carnal. And part of what I enjoyed about her is that she didn’t discover who she was or where she wanted to be early in life, as many of us don’t. I also enjoyed the fact that this woman “had it all” in the sense of materialistic things and career but had absolutely nothing because, bottom line, she had no sense of self so she was rather clueless as to all that was going on around her. I loved it that in the end a simple house, a simple job and the love of a man and his son, a small cadre of good friends and a close family was all she really needed to find happiness. Because, truthfully, just the latter two are all anyone needs – the former two are icing on the cake! And we each have our bit of special to give to the people in our lives, we just need to understand it and embrace it so we can give it more fully to those we love.

MBR: So how many books in this series is lined up for release next year?

KA: I’ve been writing as a hobby for years and had over 20 finished or nearly completed manuscripts on my hard drive with only three in print (Rock Chick, Rock Chick Rescue and Rock Chick Redemption). But in March of 2011, I decided to take an enormous chance and focus solely on writing in hopes of making a career of it. That’s why I have a huge number of books that have been released this year because I spent nine months cleaning up these manuscripts and publishing them on eBook. In the meantime, as you do, I became inspired and wrote a few more. Of that lot, I currently have six novels left to unleash, one complete and to be published very soon (Heaven and Hell) and five that I will be working on getting out there in the first 3-4 months of 2012. In that time, I also intend to move back to The ‘Burg and write Mike Haines’s story. I’m also kicking around another stand-alone romance in my head that probably will consume me and I won’t be able to deny myself the pleasure of plunging into that world. Indeed, a number of my series have books to be sorted including my Fantasyland Series and the final in the Rock Chick series.

But fortunately, I am very prolific and I write very fast. Ideas come to me all the time and I don’t think I’ll ever be at a loss for a story to tell.

As for the Colorado Mountain Series, it will continue on with at least two books. The next will be Chace and Faye and this will be set in Carnal. Then I will take readers back to Gnaw Bone of The Gamble and write Graham Reece’s story (he was introduced in For You which is in The ‘Burg series but Reece is a mountain man and he’ll be heading up to Gnaw Bone to work at The Dog). It is more than likely I will also tell the story of Maggie and Wood. Further, I’ve had readers request I move onto “the next generation” and tell the stories of the my heroes and heroines’ children and I like this idea. So, in the end, this series will have AT LEAST two more books with the current generation, likely three with Chace and Faye definitely coming out sometime in the first half of 2012. Then again, I hope to get a vacation in there so my family doesn’t think my computer has gobbled me up so end of February/early March I will be heading home to America for four to five weeks to reconnect with family and friends therefore this may cause some delays. Still, lucky for me, my “office” isn’t stationary so I can work whenever and wherever I want and I won’t be able to stay away from my people for too long!

Now, where I’ll be headed, and this is subject to change… but Chace (who was introduced in Lady Luck) has grabbed hold of me very strong. This is somewhat of a miracle since I do not have one, single blond hero (though, Mike Haines is blond too, clearly I’m expanding my horizons :-)). Chace has shared his secrets with me as to what caused him to do the things he did in Lady Luck to get trapped the way he was trapped. He is an exceptionally loyal man, so loyal, he is self-sacrificing. For some time, he’s known who is the woman for him, he was simply biding his time in going after her. But now, after the sacrifices he made and what he was forced to do, he feels the women he’s chosen is beyond his reach. I do not know if she will disagree or if she’ll give him a run for his money. Faye hasn’t really come to me yet. We shall see.

But Reece’s story is more well-formed. Understanding way too late that he was in love with February Owens (For You), then being caught in that drama and (spoiler) attacked by a serial killer, he’ll have learned his lesson and will be taking a close look at his life and how he lives it. He’ll also be taking a close look at the women in his life and how he feels about them (for Feb was not his only one). And he will make a choice and see to making her his. The thing is, by the time he does this, her life will be in disarray and she’ll be focusing on that, not falling in love. I’m looking forward to getting back to Gnaw Bone, seeing how Max and Nina’s family is growing and spending time with Arlene, Cotton, Mindy and the gang. It’ll be like going home.

Maggie and Wood, if their story is told, will be a departure for me. This will be a reunion and, as they have already been reunited in Lady Luck, it will also mean that I will probably have to go back in time. I was careful not to expose too much or get too into their reconciliation in Lady Luck because Wood is important to me and deep down, I want his story told and him to have his happy ending. But Chace and Reece are dominating my headspace so Wood and Maggie are going to have to wait.

I’d like to end by thanking you for even wanting to know the answers to these questions! And also for featuring Sweet Dreams on your site. I cannot explain how fabulous it is that people are responding to my stories. I pour a lot into them, often find I’m giggling myself stupid or crying my eyes out. I identify strongly with what John Mellencamp said during his speech when he was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, “I didn’t do it for the money, but I sure like to get paid.” I enjoyed the heck out of writing these stories and often reread them again and again. But I love it even more knowing that I’m sharing these with others who love them just the same.

Thank you, MBR, for sharing Sweet Dreams with your readers. I hope they enjoy it as much as you.

GIVEAWAY!!! GIVEAWAY!!!

So guys, I have awesome stuff to giveaway this month. 

  • First of all, Ellen O’Connell is giving away SIX e-copies of Dancing on Coals. How cool is that?
  • Secondly Rainbow Rowell is giving away a signed bookplate to a lucky winner. And yes, this is open internationally as well!
  • A 20 $ gift certificate from either Amazon, Barnes&Noble or Samhain.
  • And last but not the least, an e-copy of Sweet Dreams!

So, the giveaway rules:

  1. Open a page of the current book that you are reading. (If you are not reading a book at the moment, open a page of the book that’s nearest to you.) And give me 3 sentences from the page you open up. Please do not forget to mention the book title and author as well. And tell me whether you like what you have read so far!
  2. Remember, you can enter for ALL THREE giveaways. But if you would like to enter for just one, state in the comment which one it is that you are entering for. If not I will consider you eligible for ALL THREE of them.
  3. Leave a valid e-mail address for a way to contact you in case you are the winner!
  4. Help spread the word about the giveaway! Tweet and earn 5 extra entries (use the hashtag #MBRPickofTheMonthGiveaway), recommend this post on Facebook & earn 5 extra entries. And don’t forget to mention in your comment whether you have tweeted or recommended the post on Facebook to get your extra entries.
  5. Like my page on Facebook to gain 5 extra more entries. If you are already a member of my page, just state so and you would gain your 5 extra entries.
  6. Giveaway begins at 00:00 hours January 1, 2012 and will end at 00:00 hours Maldivian time on the January 3, 2012. Winners will be contacted soon after and announced here on my blog!

As always, thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment and enter the giveaway!

Giveaway Winners – Pick of The Month November 2011

First of all, HUGE thank you to all those who helped spread the word. 

Pick #1: Hot Text by Cari Quinn

Winner #1: Pamela Notchey who left behind a couple of sentences from Love, Come to Me by Lisa Kleypas. Sounds quite intriguing I must say.

“I wanted you,” he said, his voice soft and singed, “the first time I saw you. Did I tell you that?”
“No, you didn’t.”
“It was raining. You were crossing the street. You took longer than everyone else, because…because you were picking your way around all the little…puddles. I wanted you.”

Winner #2: Eva P. left behind a couple of sentences from Escaped (Running from Fear) by Trinity Blacio

Even though they’re my brothers, you’re still my best friend, and I’ll help any way I can. I better go so you can take a shower and put some hot water on that calf.” Jaycee watched Shelly get up and slip out of the room.

Pick #2: On Thin Ice by Anne Stuart

Winner: Cindi Mitchell who is reading Inappropriate Thoughts by Ian Dalton and left behind a sneak peek of the book.

No more clothing was removed, but what she did next would change Brian’s life forever. Natalie stood perfectly still, took a deep breath, and slowly and gracefully lifted one of her legs until it was pointed straight at the ceiling while the other remained firmly planted on the floor but up on the ball of her foot. She held her leg there with one hand, almost effortlessly, as Brian looked her up and down.

Pick #3: Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis

Winner: Eva P. who seems to have rocked with this giveaway, who won a copy of Hot Text as well.

Congratulations to all the winners and I hope you would stop by from time to time to see what’s hot on MBR’s Realm of Romance.

And winners, don’t forget to answer my emails to you before December 5, 2011.

 

 

 

 

Pick of the Month Reads, November 2011 & Giveaway!

November was the month I wanted to finish catching up on ALL my pending review requests and ARCS. But as usual, life happened every now and then and hindered with my grand plans for the reading world. Nevertheless, I would say November was a good month because I read a lot of good books with a bunch of fantastic books in between which I say is just as good as it can get. This month I have not two but THREE picks to giveaway and I hope you would find something that tickles your interest and you would enter the giveaway to try your luck. Don’t worry overly much because you can enter all for all 3 giveaways!

Pick #1: HOT TEXT by CARI QUINNhottext

Believe it or not, Cari and I have something in common. That is our fascination with heroes who sometimes maybe perceived as “jerks” or those heroes who are a bit rough around the edges that lovers of “traditional” romance novels may not fully fall in love with.

For me, Hot Text has a hero of that calibre. He is not a jerk, but he is that reclusive type that just has a rougher edge around him that just shook me to my very core!

And since I loved Hot Text so much, yes, it is one of my picks for the month of November 2011 and I had the wonderful Cari answer some questions regarding Hot Text and writing in general.

MBR: As I wrote in my review of Hot Text, you deal with a situation that some readers might find offensive. And I wholeheartedly approve of the fact that you continue to push the “boundaries” when it comes to writing romances. So what made you write Hot Text and pit the hero and heroine in that very situation they find themselves in?

Cari: Thank you for your kind words! Hot Text is actually a story I came up with in response to Ellora’s Cave’s request for technology-based books for a special anthology. As often happens, I started with the scenario of someone getting hold of another’s cell phone and played what if. I didn’t really do much pre-plotting when I started writing (I often don’t) and just followed the characters where they took me.

Honestly? It never occurred to me that anyone would find this situation offensive until I was probably halfway through writing it. Karyn and Jeff are both such ethical people despite the circumstances in which they meet. Neither of them proceeds lightly into the relationship though things go much faster than either planned. And of course, Karyn not only is separated legally from her husband, they’ve been living apart for months and she has already received the divorce papers that are just waiting for her signature. She’s really only married in name only at that point.

MBR: Jeffery Maddox; now there is a hero I could have spent reading and dreaming about for a long, long time. He is so not the type that would make heads turn at first, but the way you brought him to life, I have got to say that “average” is the new hot! Is Jeffery based on any real life character that you know of? If you were to cast him, who would you pick?

Cari: Jeff appreciates your praise! ;) Nope, I rarely base my characters on anyone I know, with a couple notable exceptions that haven’t yet made it into print yet. If I had to cast him…man, now there’s a tough one. I think I might cast country singer Gary Allan as Jeff actually. Gary’s a rough around the edges, straight talker – and he’s also the kind of guy that could steam the panties off you with a single look! Jeff doesn’t have Gary’s tattoos, but yeah, I think Gary would do a very decent rendition of him!

MBR: When you sit down to write a romance, do you have your characters already mapped out and their characteristics all jotted down somewhere in your brain? Or do you let them lead, make their own mistakes and let them find their own way to their happily ever afters?

Cari: Ha ha, my CP Taryn would enjoy this question since we have very different methods to approaching a story. I don’t do much mapping at all. Sometimes, like with my upcoming novel Virgin Territory, I didn’t even know one of the main character’s names when I sat down to write. I try to plot the series of events in my mind as I go but more often than not, what I think my characters will do turns out not to work. I try to let them lead the way because when I try to force things to match my conception it never works! It’s a fun – and sometimes stressful – journey to the HEA for both me and my characters.

MBR: You seriously have a talent for making unusual scenarios in romances work. I for the world still cannot stop thinking about Spencer from Provoke Me and I say that is because of a job well done in creating the hero just the way I love em’. So will you continue to push the boundaries when it comes to writing romances or would you bow down to popular demand and start writing more “traditional” romances in the future?

Cari: Aww, I really appreciate that. Since Spencer is my favorite hero I’ve ever written, your opinion of him makes me VERY happy! I’ll admit, I sometimes get a wild hair to try to write more mainstream. All writers – and people actually – want to be liked and I guess now and then I figure “well, if I wrote more mainstream stuff like so-and-so” more people would enjoy my work. But I doubt that will happen. Some of my books are a little more traditional in the sense that not every one of them involves tortured characters dealing with a ton of angst. In fact, most don’t. But I’ll still keep writing books I know may not go over well because I don’t want to get bored. If a book interests me, I always hope someone out there will find something of merit in it too.

Author branding is a topic often mentioned but I sort of want to not have a label. “Cari Quinn writes stories about people who find their HEAs” is about as particular as I want to get. I don’t want to stick to one romantic pairing (or grouping, as the case may be) or one heat level or eventually even one genre. Because in the end it’s all about the stories, right?

MBR: Any hopes of reading a novel/novella featuring a HEA for Jeffery’s sister Daisy?

Cari: You know, I hadn’t considered it until you asked. Thanks for the idea! I definitely think she’s ripe for a HEA so…maybe. I tend to like writing about seemingly difficult to redeem characters (Diana from Provoke Me as an example, though her book is still ahead of me on my writing docket.)

MBR: Would you like to tell your fans about new releases we can expect in the near future? I am dying to read your answer to this one.

Cari: I’ve got a few things coming up actually. First up is Unwrapped, coming out 12/6 (my birthday!) from Loose Id. Unwrapped is a m/m/f menage, my first, and it’s also about best friends who live and work together. Caitlyn, Matt and Tristan gave me fits but I ended up being proud of their story. I loved doing three main points-of-view for the first time ever. And if you like them dirty…well, this is the one for you, LOL! But it’s also really emotional. I don’t think anyone who reads this story will doubt their love for each other…and I also hope that one day I can convince you, MBR, to give reading a m/m/f a try. *poke, poke*

Next after that is Virgin Territory, coming soon from Decadent Publishing. It’s also my first published story that doesn’t quite hit the erotic level. I’m looking forward to writing more sexy contemps and I hope readers like Vincent, my sexy erotic romance writing/IT geek! (Said with love, because geeks are hot!)

I also just received a contract for my next Ellora’s Cave short novel, Heart Signs, which should be out in time for Valentine’s Day. Lots of angst – and sexual tension – in this one!  

MBR: Looking forward to the angst and the sexual tension *winks* Thank you so much for taking the time to answer the questions Cari. You indeed are the best!

Up next is a book by an author that is famous for her ruthless heroes. She writes them without apology, gives us non-traditional romance lovers a taste of what it is like to truly revel in a hero in a league of their own making.

Pick #2: ON THIN ICE by ANNE STUARTonthinice

Alpha heroes are the type of heroes that we all love to talk about. But Anne Stuart writes heroes known as gamma heroes who not many take to. But for me, they are the best of the best the romance genre has to offer!

So it is no surprise that book 6 in the ICE series ended up being one of my picks for the month of November and I was lucky enough to get Ms. Stuart to answer a couple of questions regarding her ICE series and writing in general.

MBR: Thank you so much for agreeing to answer a couple of questions about the ICE series and writing in general. You must get this a LOT, but for the record I am a HUGE fan of the ICE series if my reviews are anything to judge my fascination for them by.

Anne: Thanks so much!  I love the series as well — it’s been wonderful to write.

MBR: My first question focuses on your heroes in general. They aren’t your usual run-of-the-mill variety heroes. What makes you write heroes of that calibre, heroes who are so ruthless that some people judge them not to have that “hero” quality?

Anne: You know, I don’t really feel they’re all that bad.For instance, I thought Killian was a pussycat, and in my historical series I didn’t think my heroes were all that dark.The thing is, I see their redemption.  

There are any number of reasons why I write such dark heroes — I had a very dark childhood and I’m working out my issues, I have a wonderful beta husband which enables me to work out my darkest alpha fantasies.  Maybe it’s as simple as being Taurus with Scorpio rising.  My heroes are mostly Scorpios.

I think if I have a hero go as dark as he can then the eventual redemption is all the sweeter.

MBR: Finn is a man who has been in captivity for 3 long years, enough time for any man to lose his sanity. But he is tougher than most and survives it against all odds. For a man of that calibre, the heroine has to be someone really special and Beth truly matched him in every way. How did you come up with her character? Who would you cast as Beth if On Thin Ice were ever to be made into a movie?

Anne: Oh, I know the answer to that one!  I’d put … damn, what’s her name.  Elizabeth Mitchell, who played Juliet on Lost.  She had the calm but powerful demeanor.  I loved Beth — she was strong, a perfect match for Finn, and she doesn’t fall apart easily.  I liked that she could stand up for herself, and even when certain things got to her she pulled herself together quickly.

MBR: Wow! Elizabeth Mitchell perfectly fits the role! I just love the way you manage to bring countries that you situate your novels in truly alive for the reader. Take for instance Fire and Ice, the 5th book in the ICE series. I ended the book wanting to book a flight to Japan ASAP. Which country would you say is your favorite to base a novel on or for that matter to travel to?

Anne: Well, I keep hitting Venice over and over again during my career, so that probably wins, but Japan and Paris come close. It was a taxi ride during a one-day trip to Paris that started the ICE series. The driver had the radio on and a song with the lyrics “ella a les yeux revolver” which means she has eyes like a gun. That lingered in my subconscious for a couple of months until BLACK ICE  suddenly appeared. I had 70 pages of a different book written and I was hating it. I ditched it and started BLACK ICE and it took off.

MBR: Would you like to share with your fans any news about your upcoming releases?

Anne: I’ve got a couple of Kristina Douglas paranormals coming out in the new year. And we’re in the midst of reissuing my classic historicals, like TO LOVE A DARK LORD, THE DEMON COUNT, and A ROSE AT MIDNIGHT, which will be a treat.

At this point no new Anne Stuart books, but that will change in the next couple of months.  Stay tuned to my web site, www.anne-stuart.com for updates.

MBR: A huge thank you for taking the time.

Anne: Happy to do it.  Thanks so very much for your kind words about the ICE series and ON THIN ICE.  I love the books so much that it means a great deal to hear that other people do as well.

Pick #3: HEAD OVER HEELS by JILL SHALVISheadoverheels

That brings me to my 3rd pick which happened right about the time I was going to finalize this post for publication. Yep, that’s right; Jill Shalvis totally did me in with Sawyer Thompson from the 3rd book in the Lucky Harbor series and my Picks of the month for November wouldn’t have been complete without Sawyer in the mix!

MBR: Hi Jill. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a couple of questions about Head Over Heels and your writing world. First of all, I just want to say I love Lucky Harbor. Is there any way you could fit me in and give me a big, brawny hero like Sawyer? LOL! Not that you have to answer that question but I have read from one of your blog posts that the three sisters and the Lucky Harbor series came into existence after seeing your girls argue at the dinner table. Are there bits and pieces of your girls in the  3 sisters or have they COMPLETELY materialized from your imagination alone?

Jill: I really try to go from imagination alone.  Real life is never as fascinating as fiction, and plus, real people have a tendency to get annoyed when you write them on the page.  :)

MBR: If you have come across my review for Head Over Heels, you would know that I am completely head over feet in love with Sawyer. And to think I haven’t still gotten over my fascination with Jax Cullen and his toolbelt. *sigh* But, you have such a way with writing them sexy and endearing that I just love them. What’s your secret to writing heroes that just makes one blush all over while reading?

Jill: I guess I have a really good fantasy life, lol!  

MBR: If you missed out on the fact, I just loved Chloe. She was such a contradictory mix of wildness and everything in between that I fell in love with her from book 1 itself. If given the chance, who would you cast as Chloe Traeger?

Jill: This is difficult.  I don’t really have a picture of any star in mind, she’s truly a product of my imagination.  But it should be someone who has ‘tude yet great depth of heart.

MBR: And since I asked about Chloe, how about Sawyer? I am still picturing that guy you posted on Facebook, the one waiting on the stairs? *swoon*sawyer

Jill: That’s the one, that’s Sawyer.  I have no idea how to find him either. Maybe put out an ad.  Hey Hot Guy in those torn jeans, call me!  

MBR: So, what’s next for the Lucky Harbor series? There is this mysterious cute guy that a lil birdie told me is a Navy SEAL? And what about Matt Bowers? Looks like he is also going to get a happily ever after if I am not mistaken?

Jill: Mysterious Hot Guy is next in Lucky In Love, and he is indeed an ex SEAL.  Then will come Matt the sexy forest ranger.  And last but definitely not least will be Dr. Josh Scott, the ER doctor …

MBR: Thank you so much for taking the time Jill. Very much appreciated. And cannot wait for the next book in the Lucky Harbor Series!

 GIVEAWAY!!! GIVEAWAY!!!

So guys, this month I have 4 books in total to give away! 1 e-copy of On Thin Ice by Anne Stuart, 1 e-copy of Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis and 2 e-copies of Hot Text by Cari Quinn, one copy of which is provided by the wonderful Cari herself! So read the giveaway rules below and enter to win a copy of any or ALL the books in the giveaway this time!

Giveaway rules:

  1. Open a page of the current book that you are reading. (If you are not reading a book at the moment, open a page of the book that’s nearest to you.) And give me 3 sentences from the page you open up. Please do not forget to mention the book title and author as well. And tell me whether you like what you have read so far!
  2. Mention the book in the giveaway you want to win. If you want to enter for ALL three, just state so!
  3. Leave a valid e-mail address for a way to contact you in case you are the winner!
  4. Help spread the word about the giveaway! Tweet and earn 5 extra entries (use the hashtag #MBRPickofTheMonthGiveaway), recommend this post on Facebook & earn 5 extra entries. And don’t forget to mention in your comment whether you have tweeted or recommended the post on Facebook to get your extra entries.
  5. Like my page on Facebook to gain 5 extra more entries. If you are already a member of my page, just state so and you would gain your 5 extra entries.
  6. Giveaway begins at 00:00 hours December 1, 2011 and will end at 00:00 hours Maldivian time on the December 3, 2011. Winners will be contacted soon after and announced here on my blog!

As always, thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment and enter the giveaway!

Pick of the Month Reads – October 2011 & Giveaway!

Pick #1: Lauren’s Eyes by Norah Wilsonlaurenseyes

Lauren’s Eyes though a 2010 release made its way towards my Pick of the Month reads of October 2011 because lets face it, Norah Wilson writes romances that are hard to forget.

As Norah herself would say it, Lauren’s Eyes is a book that seriously deserves some review love & I have to completely agree with her on this one as it is one book that people seriously overlook.

So as usual, I had the lovely Norah answer a couple of questions about my October’s pick Lauren’s Eyes, in the hopes that it entice you to enter the giveaway to win an e-copy of the book!

MBR: So lets start with how you came up with Lauren’s Eyes. Its pretty emotional & deep, not just your usual run of the mill romance with a bit of suspense and paranormal in the mix. So what made you click on your word processor and start typing away?

Norah: Actually, the decision to write a cowboy hero was a bit of a cynical one. I’d grown frustrated with my inability to sell to a New York publisher. At the time, I was targeting series romance, and cowboys, babies and brides were de rigueur. I knew I’d be a bust at babies and brides, so cowboys it was. But a funny thing happened. When I started to research cowboys and ranching and rodeo, I got hooked. I mean, I genuinely fell in love. LOL!

MBR: Callum Taggart by far I think is the most “forceful” hero I have read from you. And boy is he tortured enough to make your heart practically bleed for him. And yet he is fiercely sensual and I just LOVED that about him. Whose your inspiration for Callum’s character? Are you planning on writing more like him? Please say yes?

Norah: Thank you! That’s exactly what I was trying to do with Cal. I wanted him to have some serious edge, but I wanted readers to see the vulnerability beneath. The loss of his mother so early, being raised by a stern, authoritarian father, and having run away to life on the streets… All the experiences I gave him eroded his ability to trust. And I’m not just talking about the trite man-who’s-been-burned-and-can-no-longer-trust-a-woman thing. Cal’s issues go deep. He truly feels he can rely on no one but himself. And maybe his bull rope. ,-)

I actually modelled Callum on an actor by the same name – Callum Keith Rennie. (You may think you don’t know CKR, but I’m pretty sure you do. Do a Google image search. Yeah, that guy.) I often have a physical model in mind when I write, but rarely does the model coincide so completely with what I want my character to project. And it’s not just his look; it’s the way he talks, the way he walks…. He was the perfect model for my Cal. And he definitely has the edge I wanted.

MBR: Lauren Townsend just raced her way to my favorite heroines shelf. I have identified the fact that you tend to write heroines who don’t dillydally much and constantly go back and forth about their feelings towards the hero. Even with Callum making it so hard for her to get emotionally close to him, Lauren still manages to do just that and tear the walls down. Where do you think you draw the inspiration from to write heroines like Lauren?

Norah: Again, thank you! What a high compliment!

Writing heroines who are strong, grounded and sensible is sort of my way of fighting back against the romantic suspense heroine who is TSTL (too stupid to live). It’s not that my heroines never take risks that could put them in jeopardy, but if or when she does, I hope by then the reader will have come to trust her judgment and appreciate that she’s weighed the risks. That includes emotional risks. Lauren’s a smart woman. As she unravels Cal’s backstory, she clearly sees his emotional limitations. But she also sees his strength and inherent goodness.

MBR: Lauren’s Eyes is one of my favorites because you seem to have really outdone yourself in the sensual aspect of the story. I loved, loved & loved some more the escalation of passion between Callum and Lauren and those oh so tender moments in between that just grabbed me in a way it hasn’t in a long time. And I think the level of heat between Callum and Lauren was such an integral part of the story that portrayed how their feelings towards each other grew as the story progressed. How do you handle the sensual and heat aspect of a story? Do you decide beforehand that the book would contain this amount of sex scenes and go from there or do you let the story and the characters decide that for you?

Norah: Oh, wow – again, thank you!

I definitely let the story decide how much sensuality the book will have. As I’ve said, I made a rather cynical decision to write a cowboy book so I could improve my chances of selling to the series market. But as readers will have guessed from your preamble to this question, the heat level in LAUREN’S EYES is very mainstream, as are some other elements. It truly was the characters who dictated that path. Once I’d fully developed them, it was clear that sex was going to play a big role in their journey. At that point, I sort of knocked the editor off my shoulder and went for it. I reasoned that an editor would have more confidence that an author could ratchet back over-the-top sensuality than pump up tepid sex scenes. As it turned out, Dorchester bought this book and there was no editorial ratcheting back involved!

As for the tender scenes, that might be my very favorite part of writing romance. I think romance readers are extremely savvy. They intuitively understand the way love works, and our job as romance writers is to reflect that back to them. First comes sexual attraction and that intoxicating infatuation, but it’s in the sexual union and post-coital aftermath that the bonds of monogamy are forged. You know, the point when it segues from “God, that feels good!” to “God, I’d die if I lost this, if I lost her.” If I can get a few truly tender moments in per book, I’m a happy author.

MBR: Before I ask this, I know I already DM-ed you about this on Twitter. And I think I’m the only one who would dare ask this question, but I have just got to ask, do you ever envision writing a story for Callum’s ex-wife Marlena and Brady? I cannot resist asking because I just know that their’s could make a really angsty read!

Norah: I would sooo love to write Marlena and Brady’s story. For those of you who haven’t read LAUREN’S EYES, Marlena is Cal’s ex wife. By the end of the story, she’s recognized that she needs treatment for her drug and alcohol addictions, and Cal (ever responsible for everything and everyone) is footing the bill. But prior to reaching this epiphany, Marlena had been stringing along one of Cal’s hands, the considerably younger and infinitely more impressionable Brady. Of course, I’d have to let some time to elapse before bringing them together again, to allow Marlena to get her feet under her in sobriety, and to allow Brady to mature into a wiser young  man who could step it up and become believable hero material. A sober Marlena would be ashamed and embarrassed at her earlier use of him, and while she might have to make amends for her program, he’d be the dead last guy she’d want to get involved with. He would have to be gently persistent and patient and steady and persuasive to overcome her resistance. Yet he would also have to demonstrate that he’s a man now, not the boy she seduced, and can more than hold his own against her.

And here’s some exciting news – I’m actually in negotiations with a New York publisher to acquire the rights to LAUREN’S EYES right now, so hopefully Marlena and Brady will get that happily ever after sometime in the future!  

MBR: Which book(s) are you currently working on at the moment? Any tentative release dates set for them?

Norah: I’ve always got something in the works. I expect to release NIGHTFALL, the second in my Vampire Romance series, in late October or early November. And if you liked Cal, I think you’ll really like Aiden. He’s like Cal on steroids! While he’s a lot better adjusted on the surface, the man has some crazy dark baggage.  

And before Christmas, I expect to publish Book 3 in the Dix Dodd Mystery series, written with my sometime writing partner Heather Doherty under the pseudonym N.L. Wilson. (We figured it was easier to package the series on my Norah Wilson platform than to start completely from scratch.) I’m not sure how much cross-readership it’ll have, as Dix Dodd is a funny cozy mystery, somewhat in the vein of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. It’s almost the antithesis of the sensual romantic suspense and paranormal romance I write and the dark literary that Heather writes, but OMG, it truly is laugh-out-loud funny! I can’t even think about Dix Dodd without smiling.

Thank you for having me, and for making Lauren’s Eyes your pick for the month. I read your reviews religiously because of your knack for cutting right to the heart of every book. And I am a serious fan of many of the writers you’ve reviewed here. Thus I am doubly humbled that you chose mine from among so many worthy candidates.  

MBR: Now it’s my turn to say THANK YOU for that lovely compliment. And it’s always such a pleasure having you here Norah. And I am making a promise to myself to delve into your YA romances and the Dix Dodd Mysteries of which I have book 1 in my TBR pile!

Pick #2: Until There Was You by Kristan Higginsuntiltherewasyou

Anyone who has read my 5-star review of Kristan Higgin’s October release Until There Was You would know just how much I enjoyed reading her latest contemporary romance.

Until There Was You is a book that has got so much heart that you can’t help but be drawn into the story and its characters and fall in love with each and every single one of them when you are done!

So it’s not a surprise that of course this one ends up as one of my picks for the month of October 2011!

Since I already did an author interview with Kristan when my review went live, I am not going to include one here, but just add that I flat-out loved this romance!

GIVEAWAY!!! GIVEAWAY!!!

As it is the custom of my giveaway posts, you can find below what you need to do in order to enter for the giveaway of the Pick(s) of the Month for October 2011! An e-copy of both Lauren’s Eyes by Norah Wilson and Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins is up for grabs. And the good thing about the giveaway? You can enter for both of them!

Giveaway rules:

  1. Open a page of the current book that you are reading. (If you are not reading a book at the moment, open a page of the book that’s nearest to you.) And give me 3 sentences from the page you open up. Please do not forget to mention the book title and author as well. And tell me whether you like what you have read so far!
  2. Leave a valid e-mail address for a way to contact you in case you are the winner!
  3. Help spread the word about the giveaway! Tweet and earn 5 extra entries, recommend this post on Facebook & earn 5 extra entries. And don’t forget to mention in your comment whether you have tweeted or recommended the post on Facebook.
  4. Like my page on Facebook to gain 5 extra more entries. If you are already a member of my page, just state so and you would gain your 5 extra entries.
  5. Giveaway will end at 18:00 hours Maldivian time on the November 4, 2011. Winners will be contacted soon after and announced here on my blog!
As always, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for making MBR’s Pick of the Month Giveaways a huge success! Please don’t forget to enter the giveaway and tell your friends while you are at it ;)

Pick of the Month Reads – September 2011 & Giveaway!

So, like the previous two months, I found myself picking two books that made fantastic reads for me, which I undoubtedly highly recommend to each and everyone who loves romances! While I managed to get the Q&A session with these posts ready for Pick #1, getting the answers from the author of Pick #2 didn’t prove to be doable.

Pick #1: The Dragon & The Pearl by Jeannie Linthedragonandthepearl

Author Jeannie Lin is one of a kind. I say this because for one thing she writes romances that are based in China during the Tang Dynasty. The prose she sets for her novels is an excellent one, one that the reader is helplessly drawn into, unable to let go until you have read every last morsel of the  story.

The Dragon & the Pearl was released by Harlequin on the 21st of September 2011. I was lucky enough to grab an ARC, having waited on tenterhooks for the release of Li Tao’s story. Li Tao’s character first appears in the novel Butterfly Swords which was released on October of last year. I managed to get Ms. Lin to answer a couple of questions regarding her latest release, which quickly made its way towards my favorite reads for the year 2011 and in turn became one my picks for the month for September 2011!

MBR: I have been hooked onto your books ever since I stumbled upon The Taming of Mei Lin. What made you venture into the unique setting of China to base your romances on? And the Tang Dynasty in particular?

JL: I grew up watching huge epic series based on the novels of Jin Yong (Louis Cha) and they just captured my imagination. These stories were the one thing that we shared across generations in my family: My grandmother, my parents, and me, my brother, my sister and all the cousins knew these tales. I always tried to explain what they were to my non-Asian friends, even trying to show them the episodes while I translated, but it was so hard to share with them what I loved so much. When I started trying to write my first novel, I think at the heart of it I wanted to be able to share this childhood love of the martial arts epics with people who hadn’t seen them yet.

The choice of the Tang Dynasty came from another historical series that revolved around the life and reign of Empress Wu and then the sequel about her daughter, Princess Taiping. I loved everything about that series: the costumes, the high drama, the intrigue. Most of all, it was the many empowered women of the Tang Dynasty that inspired me. As I researched Chinese imperial history, the more I learned about the Tang Dynasty, the more I felt it was the perfect place for adventure and romance.

MBR: At first when I picked up The Dragon & The Pearl, I thought to myself that Li Tao’s dangerousness would be mellowed to suite the requirements of the average romance reader. But, I was pleasantly surprised and later wowed by the fact that Li Tao remained true to his persona whom we come to know of in Butterfly Swords.
How did he emerge as a character into Butterfly Swords at first? Is he based on any real life person you might know of? And what made you decide not to let him be cast as just a villain but paint him in shades of grey so that he could have his own happily ever after in the end?

JL: His character development in Butterfly Swords is an interesting one. I very loosely plot my books and the last part of Butterfly Swords indicated that Ai Li and Ryam would be captured by the villain and there would be a showdown. That was it. So as I wrote the first half of the book, I wondered to myself who was this guy? My heroine had never met him, but she hates him because she’s learned he’s a traitor. I wondered would I make him cowardly? Would he be scheming and self-centered? Would he be old and fat and gross? It’s so easy to make a villain especially nasty so everyone knows he’s supposed to lose. In romance, the villains are often greedy, vengeful and shallow. They may leer and try to force themselves on the heroine. None of that was working for me.

The hero of Butterfly Swords, Ryam, was struggling with issues of worthiness and Ai Li was struggling with issues of duty and honor. In order to give them a worthy opponent, I decided I had to make him in many ways better than they were, though still a villain. Some of my favorite wuxia characters were villains or morally complex characters so following in that tradition, I created Li Tao with actually a deep sense of honor — only it was his own. It’s so easy to see what way the heroine should go when her family is forcing her into marriage with someone’s who is truly nasty, but what if Ai Li’s adversaries were well-meaning parents and a man who was by all rights, a bigger and more magnificent figure than the one she had chosen with her heart? That would truly be a test of love and conviction.

He’s not based on any real person I know, but a lot of his stubbornness and sense of conviction reminds me of my husband. (Shh….he doesn’t know). I think all characters should be gray as that’s more realistic. I didn’t intend for Li Tao to be a hero in a sequel to near the end of the writing of Butterfly Swords. In order to truly create this villain as a compelling character in so short a time, I experimented by plotting the last part of Butterfly like the beginning of a romance–only it was the heroine meeting the villain instead of the hero. If you track the events of the end game, you’ll actually see very familiar elements: Ai Li and Li Tao meet, they fight, the sparks fly. She accuses him of being a traitor, he accuses her of being impetuous and reckless.  If she hadn’t already had her adventures and fallen in love, this could have been the beginning of a hot romance! My sister recognized it immediately and told me that  Li Tao had to be my next hero.

MBR: You have a talent for creating heroines of the most unusual calibre, who nevertheless have that inner courage and fire deep inside that makes them very worthy as heroines.


JL: Ling Suyin actually is the only character that appears in all three of the manuscripts I’d written prior to publication. (Butterfly Swords was #2, BTW). She was inspired by the historical character of Yang Yuhuan who was better known as Yang Guifei (Precious Consort Yang) and one of the Four Beauties of China. I had thought about her character a lot in the other books where she was just a secondary, and though she didn’t get as much time front and center, I had in my head that she was a lot more complex that she appeared. I do a lot of daydreaming to figure out characters before I try to fit them into a story and all the little twist and turns that her life had taken kind of emerged as I tried to form why she was the way she was. All the surprises felt right–like an “Ah, that explains it” moment.

MBR: Looking forward to many more such great reads from you.

Author Jeannie Lin has very graciously agreed to giveaway a copy of The Dragon & The Pearl, whether it be an e-copy or the print version which is up for the winner to decide.

And so that brings me to my pick #2 for the month of September 2011

Pick #2: Lethal by Sandra Brownlethal.jpg

As most of you all already know, I am a HUGE fan of Sandra Brown. I still remember reading my first Sandra Brown back in the 90’s which turned out to be French Silk. From then onwards, I always made it a point to seek out her books whenever I could.

Though her later books have been disappointing in the fact that the story is more focused on the suspense aspect than the development of romance between the hero and heroine, with Lethal, Sandra Brown proves that she hasn’t forgotten nor has strayed far from knowing how to deliver a good dose of romance with the suspense aspect of the novel.

If you are fan of Sandra Brown like myself, this one’s a must-read!

GIVEAWAY!!! GIVEAWAY!!!

This post’s giveaway includes a copy of Jeannie Lin’s The Dragon & the Pearl and a Kindle copy of Lethal by Sandra Brown.

Giveaway rules are simple!

  1. Open a page of the current book that you are reading. (If you are not reading a book at the moment, open a page of the book that’s nearest to you.) And give me 3 sentences from the page you open up. Please mention the book title and author as well.
  2. Mention which book you would like to win. If you don’t mention the book you are entering for, you would not be entered for the giveaway.
  3. Leave a valid e-mail address for a way to contact you in case you are the winner!
  4. Help spread the word about the giveaway! Tweet and earn 5 extra entries, recommend this post on Facebook & earn 5 extra entries. And don’t forget to mention in your comment whether you have tweeted or recommended the post on Facebook.
  5. Like my page on Facebook to gain 5 extra more entries. If you are already a member of my page, just state so and you would gain your 5 extra entries.
  6. Giveaway will end at 00:00 hours Maldivian time on the 7th of October 2011. Winners will be contacted soon after and announced.
Thank you all so much for being a part of MBR’s Pick of the Month posts! And don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

Pick of the Month Reads – August 2011 & Giveaway!

Yep, its that time of the month again where I haul ass and choose my pick of the month read(s) for the previous month. Once again, I found myself wavering between two great books, both released by Carina Press I might add, that made for fantastic reads! And this time as well, both authors agreed to answer a few questions regarding their book, the heroes and the heroines. So without further ado, my peeps, a huge round of applause for the authors of my picks of the month for August 2011.

Pick 1: Deceiving the Protector by Dee Tenoriodeceivingtheprotector

MBR: I have read both books in the series and the one thing that continually amazes me is the world you have created for the series. How did you come up with the idea of creating the Resurrection series?

Dee: I’d have to say it’s a blend of the history I’ve learned from the people I grew up with. I’m a Native American—Chumash—and my mother worked for the Federal American Indian Council when I was a kid, so I was brought up being taught all about our history and what parts of the culture we have left. I’ve known from a very early age what extinction is about and how it can come about. Then, as a teen, she worked for a Jewish temple, where I met some of the most amazing people ever and they spoke very openly about the Holocaust how they survived it. Throw in my affection for animals and then my attraction to shifters and the whole world kind of came together rather organically.  I can’t really explain the Sibile, though. I guess I just have a fascination with women in power, lol.

MBR: Jensen Tate, he is my favorite hero from the series so far. The one thing I can always count on when I read your books is for me to fall in love, hard and fast with your heroes and Tate is no exception to that rule. How do you come up with such alpha heroes who makes us women go aflutter EVERY.SINGLE.TIME?

Dee: Aww, I’m so glad you loved Tate. He’s not an easy man but something about him just tugged at me. Like a tarnished soldier, he’d put the world on his shoulder and carry it if he could. LOL @ “EVERY SINGLE TIME”! Thank you, that’s such an incredible compliment! I guess it’s simply that I love good, strong men. Despite having four sisters, I find I understand guys a lot better. I was a lousy girl growing up, so I hung out with them and I love the more direct way a lot of men think. I mean, sure, you want to smack them with frying pans sometimes, but God love them, they do have a way of seeing the world in terms of “I’m gonna fix that!”

MBR: Lia Crawford is a heroine that continually surprised me at every turn. She is amazing, no two ways about it. Did her character materialize as you wanted her to, or did she surprise you and made her own way through the story?

Dee: Lia surprised me a lot too. Initially, there are parts of her that are my sister. That indomitable, break-for-no-one will comes from her, primarily. And the stubborn, too. I guess I wanted to give her the happy ending I felt my sister deserved. But there are parts of Lia that came to life and insisted she was her own person. I meant for her to have a soft side, but she’d keep shaking her head at me and reminding me having a heart wasn’t the same as being soft. So it’s a little bit of both, I have to say. :)

MBR: Which books are you currently working on in the series?

Dee:Yes, I’m working on Book 3. This one will step back from the Resurrection brothers and take you into the world of the Sibile. We’ve seen flashes of the Order and their rather ruthless tactics, but the Sibile as a whole are a complicated society and you’ll get to see that in this one. Favorites from the first book will make an appearance—in particular Jalla and Sage—but you’ll also see the dynamics of the people beneath the Order. And, if you know anything about the Sibile, you know that all the males are pretty much slaves. But what happens if you pair one who refuses to accept his place with a Scarlet heroine on the verge of discovering a secret that will change absolutely everything?

Hee hee, you’ll find out in Book 3!

MBR: OMG!! I absolutely cannot wait!!

Dee has very generously agreed to giveaway an e-copy of Deceiving the Protector to one lucky commenter on this post. This is one paranormal suspense romantic series that you ought to get your hands on ASAP!

Pick 2: Boomerang Bride by Fiona Loweboomerangbride

MBR: How did you come up with the idea of writing Boomerang Bride?

Fiona: It came in three parts.. The first was on a ski lift when an image of a bride standing in a wedding dress, holding a cake and staring into a shop window popped into my head and wouldn’t leave but I had no clue why she was there. Two weeks later, I  heard a song by The Waifs called, ‘Bridal Train’ and not long after that I read an article about an heiress being scammed out of a lot of her money. Suddenly, I had Tildy’s story.  

MBR: Matilda landed in my list of favorite heroines after reading Boomerang Bride. Is she based on anyone you know or is her character written down exactly as you imagined she would be?

Fiona: Matilda is her own person, and not based on anyone in particular, but that said, I grew up surrounded by strong women who have dealt with whatever comes their way with grace and determination, so perhaps a bit of that came out in Matilda. There was a risk some people might think her TSTL (too stupid to live) , but you know, grief really does mess with your head so it was important that Matilda took responsibility for her actions early on. She made a mistake – a BIG mistake- and from that moment on, she had to move forward.  As for the confusion about language, that came directly from my own experience living in Wisconsin.

MBR: Marc Olsen is a truly sexy and charming hero underneath all of which lies a man confused with his priorities in life. How did you come up with his character?

Fiona: I look around and see some men getting so focused on their career and making money that they can lose sight of what’s really important. This has happened to Marc, although at the start of the book he has no clue about this and is only aware of a restlessness that has him feeling slightly off center. I also think that men find it easier to walk away from the ties of family so I think Marc is a product of what I see in the world around me.

MBR: Are you planning on writing any more contemporary romances in this setting?

Fiona: I have written another small town contemporary book (Saved By The Bride) filled with brides, family and a small town that won’t take no for an answer.  I hope it will be a three part series, but it isn’t set in Hobin. Right now, I can’t tell you when it will be available except to say it will be one day :) Meanwhile, Career Girl in the Country is out now, my 15th Harlequin Medical romance, and it, along with my other 14 books are  all set in small towns with big hearts. So if you’re wanting another small town fix, I recommend you visit http://www.fionalowe.com for my back-list and where to buy the books.

MBR: Thank you so much for answering the questions which has shed light on many aspects of your fantastic book that I loved so much!

So guys, Fiona has very generously agreed to give away an e-copy of Boomerang Bride, a Boomerang magnet and a signed postcard as well! How cool is that?

So the giveaway rules ladies and gentlemen:

The rules are simple:

  1. Open a page of the current book that you are reading. (If you are not reading a book at the moment, open a page of the book that’s nearest to you.) And give me 3 sentences from the page you open up. Please mention the book title and author as well.
  2. If you do not mention which giveaway you are entering for, I will be entering you for both Dee and Fiona’s giveaways.
  3. Leave a valid email address for a way to contact you if you are the winner!
  4. Help spread the word about the giveaway. Tweet about it and gain 5 extra entries AND/OR like the post on Facebook and gain extra 5 more entries. In your tweet, use the tag #MBRpickofAug11giveaway. Let me know in your comment whether you have done either or both so you would get your extra entries into the contest.
  5. Giveaway ends on the 5th of September 2011, 00:00 hours Maldivian time!

You can  read my reviews for both books by clicking on the yellow headline before the beginning of the interview for each book.

Good luck and don’t forget to leave a comment behind!

Pick of the Month – July 2011 Giveaway Winners!

A warm round of thanks goes out to EVERYONE who participated in the giveaway and of course helped spread the word.

A very special thanks to both Norah Wilson and MJ Fredrick who are both beyond awesome by the way, and answered the questions and gave away a copy of their book as well!

So, the winners of the giveaway are:

  1. Winner #1 of Something to Talk About by MJ Fredrick: Claudia
  2. Winner #2 of Something to Talk About by MJ Fredrick: Lorraine Nelson
  3. Winner #1 of The Merzetti Effect by Norah Wilson: Brie
  4. Winner #2 of The Merzetti Effect by Norah Wilson: Ju dimello
CONGRATULATIONS to all those who won copies of wonderful books! Enjoy them!

Winners, I have already contacted you via e-mail. Please respond before the 7th of August 2011 after which the offer will be withdrawn.

Stay tuned for more giveaways next month!

Pick of the Month Reads – July 2011 & Giveaway!

Having read almost 25 books the past July, almost all of them rating 4-stars or higher, I couldn’t have asked for a better month of reading even if I tried. Since I enjoyed so many great books the past July, choosing just one novel as my Pick of the Month turned out to be much harder than I thought. Eventually I gave up on forcing myself to choose just one because simply put, I could change the rules as I go. Yeah, I am unpredictable that way.

So in the end, after much deliberation, which lasted like about 5 seconds max, I picked up the 2 novels that has been haunting me (all in a good way of course!) since I let myself be swept away on their respective journeys towards their happily ever afters.

To make things much more interesting, I decided to go one step further and contact both authors with 4 questions, each of them about the novel that has rightfully earned its spot as one of my favorite reads for the year. And I am thrilled that they both agreed to answer the questions and are giving away an e-copy of their novel to the lucky winners of this giveaway! And let me tell you that you should all read these 2 books ASAP because they are definitely worth your precious reading time – in gold!

Pick #1: Something to Talk About by M.J. FredrickSomethingtotalkabout.JPG

MBR: You state on your website that “Something to Talk About” is “The Book That I Love”. Why do you say so?

MJF: I think it’s because it was the first straight contemporary romance I’d written in a while– no suspense or adventure. In fact, when one of my critique partners read it, she said she was waiting for the gunships to come over the cliffs! I think because I didn’t have to worry about who-done-it, or how my hero and heroine were going to get away from the bad guys, the story just flowed. I even enjoyed going back and doing edits on this book, I love it so much!

MBR: I think your love for the story comes across so well which makes Something to Talk About so hard to put down. Noah Wilson is so dreamy! How did you come up with his character? And is he based on any real life character that you have come across?

MJF: Okay, you want to know something sad? He’s not based on a real character, but the Christmas after I finished this book, my brother’s best friend’s wife passed away, and it was the most horrible thing ever. I asked myself if I had treated Noah’s grief with enough respect, because wow. It was just terrible. So he’s not based on a real person, but when I was going through edits, I did my best not to trivialize his grief because of what I knew Steve was going through.

As for Noah himself, I had a mad crush on Jeffrey Dean Morgan while I was writing this, and I’d been watching a lot of Gilmore Girls, and I loved Luke’s love/hate relationship with the town. I asked myself why would he stay if he was so cranky all the time, and I came up with Noah. God, I love Noah.

MBR: That is so sad. And maybe that is one reason why that Noah’s grief comes off so realistically and you have definitely treated his love for Lily with respect which made me adore this book that much more! And Jeffrey Dean Morgan? *gulp* Ellie Morgan is a true sweetheart. I love the way she comes across in the story. Is she based on any real life character?

MJF: In a way, she’s like my friend Cindi at school. When Cindi became teacher of the year (the first time) I wrote a speech saying she was the heart of the school. I wanted Ellie to have that dedication to her town, but I wanted to know what drove her to work so hard. So I gave her a mother who left them in a flurry of gossip, and Ellie is trying to prove herself better than that. Plus, she had to be this person that Noah saw as a light coming back in his life.

MBR: You have really brought to life what you wanted to portray for both of your characters in the story. So do you plan on writing any more books with the same setting?

MJF: I hadn’t, actually. In all my years of writing, I’ve never written a series (except the one I’m working on now, set in Minnesota). But there certainly are a lot of people in Winchester Cove who could use a happy ending, don’t you think? I should go back there!

MBR: Most definitely!

Combining breathtaking passion, a love that is so worth fighting for and a story definitely worth talking about, “Something to Talk About” is a novel that truly earns its spot as one of my Pick of the Month reads for July 2011!

Pick #2: The Merzetti Effect by Norah Wilsonthemerzettieffect

MBR: The Merzetti Effect is your first vampire romance and an awesome one at that. How did you come up with the idea to create such a unique spin on the world of vampires?

NW: It is a unique spin, but I can’t claim to have invented it. I actually stumbled across an article online many years ago, in which a guy on a discussion board talked about how ridiculous he found the conventional vampire model, the idea that a vampire could drink blood – digest it through a digestive tract – and somehow suddenly be infused with power. He felt it would make much more sense if the vampire could take the blood intravenously, for instance, through hollow, telescoping fangs. That really resonated for me. Our human experience tells us that things taken directly into the bloodstream are much more potent than something swallowed. At the end of his article, he said if any writers wanted to take up his model, they were quite welcome. Well, at the time, I thought it was all very fascinating (I love all things medical), but I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I would never write a vampire story. Of course, years passed, and the shelves became more and more dominated by vampires. I began toying with the idea of writing one, but I just couldn’t find a way into the story, a hook that would keep me interested enough to keep writing. Then I remembered this gentleman’s article. Unfortunately, so much time had passed that I could no longer find it online. I might even have bookmarked it once upon a time, but after several computer crashes, no trace remained. However, I remembered enough about it to get me started. I even had a physician read it to make sure it made a kind of sense (in the suspend-your-disbelief kind of way).

MBR: Dr. Delano Bowen, the name itself just makes me want to lay myself at his mercy and never look back. How did you come up with his character? Might he have any resemblance to a real-life character so that I can permanently fix his picture as my computer wallpaper? LOL!

NW: LOL! So glad you liked Del. I loved that man, too. I did worry a bit that readers wouldn’t find him Alpha enough. I mean, he’s no Black Dagger Brotherhood vamp. It’s not that he’s not strong – incredibly strong – but let’s face it, he’s a physician/research scientist. A little more cerebral than your average vamp. At least, that’s how he thinks of himself … until things get complicated with Ainsley. (I do so love to challenge a character’s self-concept!)

As for what he looks like to me, I almost hesitate to say. I’m more interested in what other people think my character looks like. LOL! But here goes. In my mind’s eye, I see him as looking like a younger Adrian Paul from back in his Highlander days. You know, long hair, dark eyes, and a sort of brooding, smouldering look. Not quite as muscled, perhaps, but with that kind of vibe. Does that mesh with the image you formed when you read the story? Or did you have someone else in mind? Inquiring minds want to know!

MBR: Believe me, I am hopeless when it comes to envisioning characters. Apart from their physique which tends to make my eyes glaze over, I have a hard time finding real-life characters that match up to the men that I read and fall in love with though I dearly wish I had the imagination to do so. *sigh*

Ainsley Crawford is my favorite type of heroine, someone who doesn’t play coy games, just ups and accepts the fact that her fate is sealed. But that doesn’t make her a wimpy heroine either. What made you come up with her character the way she is; or did she just morph her way into how she is as you wrote along?

NW: Thank you! It was a little of both. I certainly had an idea of what her personality would be like – a no-nonsense nurse who is pretty hard to rattle – but there are always little gifts that the universe hands you as you write. I think it helped that I gave her a bit of a tough background, with all those foster homes. She had to learn to roll with the punches a little bit, and she falls back on that resourcefulness. Even as an adult, it’s pretty much always been about keeping herself and those she loves safe. She really hasn’t had the luxury to learn to play games.

MBR: How many books are you planning on writing with the same setting?

NW: I don’t have any set number of books in mind at this point. When I started out, I think I had the idea that it would be a trilogy (we love threes!). But after having written the second book (if you loved Delano, you’re really gonna give it up for Aiden Afflack, the hero of NIGHTFALL), I have a number of characters who are clamouring for their turn. So who knows? Six? (That’s a multiple of three!)

MBR: Oh boy! I had a feeling that Aiden is going to put forth some serious competition when his story comes through! Glad you are going to give us a lot more books to enjoy! Six sounds like a perfect number! *winks*

A novel that delivers exceptionally well on the world of vampires with a unique twist and gives the reader an abundance of romance and mouth-watering passion, The Merzetti Effect is a must-read!

Giveaway Rules

  1. This post will give away 2 copies of both Something to Talk About and The Merzetti Effect, which means a total of 4 copies will be available for the giveaway. Please note all of them would be e-copies of the novels.
  2.  To enter, choose the novel that you want to win a copy of. If you don’t you will automatically be entered for the 2 books in the giveaway.
  3.  Leave a comment behind stating your name, a valid e-mail address, the title which you would like to win and why you would like to win a copy of the book you have chosen.
  4.  Help me spread the word about the giveaway to others like yourself. Tweet about it (mention @mdvbookreviewer) and earn 5 extra entries, share this post on Facebook and gain 5 extra entries. Please mention in your comment if you have done either.
  5. Post will be open for comments from 00:00 hours of 2nd August 2011 Maldivian time till 00:00 hours 4th August 2011 Maldivian time!
  6. Winners of the giveaway will be randomly chosen, e-mails will be sent out to winners and winners will be given a total of 3 days to respond to the e-mail.
  7. Please note that if the winner(s) do not respond within the given time frame, new winners will NOT be drawn.
  8. Please also note that to enter the giveaway, you DON’T need to share this on Twitter or Facebook. Doing so just would earn you extra entries!
If you want to know more about each book before entering the giveaway, you can always read my reviews which can be found by clicking on the image of the novel in this post.
Have fun, and don’t forget to leave a comment and enter the giveaway!

Pick of the Month Giveaway Winners!

My first ‘Pick of the Month’ giveaway wasn’t a resounding success. But even then, 6 participants made their way and entered the contest, to each of whom goes my thanks for livening things up a bit.

Requests were placed for 3 titles from the 6 available. For the 2 titles which more than 1 participant requested for, a random name picker was used to draw a winner.

GIVEAWAY WINNERS!!!

Betsysalt made the wise choice of requesting for Beg For Mercy by Jami Alden. Congratulations Betsy! I will be contacting you via email very soon!

Provoke Me by Cari Quinn received a lot of requests. Barbara won this title from the giveaway. Congratulations on winning one of the best erotic contemporary romances out there. Hope you enjoy this title as much as I did!

Sweet As Sin by Inez Kelley goes to my fabulous peep Ally. Congratulations girl! Finally you are about to find out what John Murphy is all about! And he will not disappoint!

Once again, a huge THANK YOU for those who were kind enough to spread the word about the giveaway and for those who took the time to stop by and enter the contest! You guys rock, in more ways than one!

Pick of the Month & Giveaway!

Being blessed with the ability to read and enjoy books is one of the many things that I am thankful for in life. Though I may never say it enough, I always appreciate the hard work that authors put forth to deliver us with books that give us the most beautiful and luscious stories of love without which the world of romanceaholics like mine would be incomplete.

To show my appreciation to all those authors who light up my world by creating those stories that make my day, I have decided to host a pick of the month event on my blog which would be held each month starting from this point forward. The pick of the month post will also on most occasions be included with a chance for visitors like yourself to participate in a giveaway, most probably of my pick of the month.

Since this is the start of an event that has been a long time coming, I aim to kick start the Pick of the Month post with a bang and this month’s post will include my favorite reads for each of the months from January till June of this year. And the good news – I’ll be giving away 6 books in this months post and you can pick which one you would like from all the 6 books in my favorites list for the year up till now.

So without further ado, I move onto the list of my favorite books from January till June for the year 2011.

January

singmyname.JPGSing My Name by Ellen O’Connell is an American-Western historical romance that just about took my breath away. I fell in love with Matt Slade hook, line and sinker and made my entrance into 2011 by kick-starting my reading fest with this great read. Kudos to Ellen O’Connell who continues to amaze me with her evocative storytelling that never fails to please the senses. And here’s to many more of such fabulous reads from her in the future!

February

sweetassin.JPGSweet as Sin by Inez Kelley is my pick of the month for February. And what an amazing find this turned out to be as Inez Kelley pulls no punches with the story and the depth of emotion that she delivers right along with enough sensuality to make your hormones and other  vital organs sit up and take notice. John Murphy is one hero that anyone who loves romance should read about because he invokes all the right sort of emotions from the reader making this one of the best contemporary romances I have read to date! Please let there be more from where this came from!!

March

Alotlikelove.JPGWith Jed Hill’s chiseled jaw gracing the cover, A Lot Like Love by Julie James lived up to and surpassed all my high expectations when it comes to Ms. James. Nick McCall’s smoldering sensuality, the lively banter between Jordan and Nick together with the scorching hot romance and a healthy dose of a creepy villain to liven things up, Julie James lit up my world with the most beautiful of colors as I tumbled head over heels in love with this delectable read! Here’s to an author who continues to grow with each novel that she publishes and a prayer that Spring 2012 gets here as soon as possible.

April

begformercy.JPGReceiving an ARC of Beg for Mercy by Jami Alden was the best thing to happen to me during the month of April. Intense with a capital “I”, Beg for Mercy is a novel that delivers on all counts where romantic suspense is concerned. I couldn’t get enough of Cole Williams and his smoldering sensuality which bursts forth upon his total loss of control where Megan is concerned. Fast paced, Beg for Mercy is a romantic suspense that is not to be missed, the sequel to this one I am stalking even as I write this.

May

Yourstokeep.JPGWith so many great books to line my e-book shelves during the month of May, Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey still managed to worm its way to the top of my favorite reads of the month. My first taste of Shannon Stacey certainly proved to be addictive as I practically inhaled the 3rd book in the Kowalski Family series, because yes it was that good! Sean and Emma’s chemistry is combustive, their passion the heartwarming and toe-tingling kind and the love and romance just enough to make you sigh and moon in all the right places. A contemporary romance not to be missed is what this delectable edition is  & if you want a taste of what I am talking about you can always enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of this one.

June

provokeme_msr.jpgProvoke Me by Cari Quinn wins hands down any contests between my June reads as she once again dazzled me with the unique blend of romance, witty banter and passion of the knock-your-socks-off and then some variety as I gobbled up this goody in one sitting while reeling from one of those 24-hour bugs that plagued me that day. Spencer continues to stalk me and my dreams even long afterwards, provoking me to do a re-read of this very tasty plus sized novel that any fan of contemporary erotic romance should not miss! Spencer darling, you can rock my world any time and I would welcome you with open arms and then some – if you know what I mean! LOL! Kudos to Ms. Quinn for rocking my world in more ways than one with Provoke Me and I can’t wait to see what she does with the rest of the interesting characters in her Unveiled series!

GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

For a chance to enter and win a copy of any of the 6 books included in my pick of the month list (please note that all of them would be e-books), you need to do the following and leave a comment with this post signalling which book you would like and why. Please leave your e-mail address so that I would be able to contact you at the end of the giveaway if you win a copy of the book of your choice!
  1. Leaving a comment behind stating why you would love to win a copy of that particular book gives you a single entry.
  2. If you share this post on Facebook or Twitter, you gain 5 more entries for each. Please state in your comment if you have done so.
Go on and spread the word because I give you my word that each of the books included in my list are to die-for!
Giveaway will end on the 6th of July 2011. I will be announcing the winners hopefully sometime on the 7th! Good luck and don’t forget to leave a comment behind!