Thursday, July 24, 2014

Trapped at the Altar by Jane Feather

Historical Fiction

What Goodreads Says:

The first in an all-new, sizzling historical romance series from New York Times bestselling author Jane Feather.

Torn between a true love and family duty…

Ariadne "Ari" Carfax has never been one to play by the rules; she’s an heiress to the Carfax family, banished from London when Oliver Cromwell seized the throne from King Charles, who has since gained notoriety for pillaging, thieving, and ruling the Carfax Valley with an iron glove. All too soon, Ari finds herself in her family’s legendary vise, forced into a marriage to Ivor Chalfont, Ari’s childhood friend and confidante, against her wishes.

While the Carfax family has only its own interest at heart—a union between the Catholic Carfaxes and Protestant Chalfonts will guarantee the Carfaxes’ reinstatement at London court, and the rehabilitation of their noble name—Ari cannot bear the thought of being separated from her secret lover/poet, Gabriel. She vows to fight her family—and Ivor—every step of the way, even when forced into the marital ceremony at her own grandfather’s wake, in a treacherous coup de etat that leaves her wed to another, and eternally broken-hearted.

Sending Gabriel to the temporary safety of Lord Monmouth’s outpost at The Hague in Scotland, Ari resigns herself to her new life as Lady Ivor Chalfont—at least until the newlyweds travel to London, and she can escape her new husband and reunite with Gabriel. As the two make their preparations to travel, however, Ari finds herself entertaining entirely uncharacteristic thoughts about her new husband: she finds that she likes him as perhaps more than a friend, after all. Not wanting to be disloyal to Gabriel, but simultaneously more and more attracted to Ivor, Ari can’t help but give into the physical pull between her and her new husband, and the two embark on a tentative, post-marital courtship that just might hold the seeds of love…until, that is, Gabriel spots Ari in London and makes it his mission to get her back. Ari is caught between a lover who might be better left in the past, and a husband who she just might be able to love; who will win Ari’s heart?

Set in 1600s England during the tumultuous Monmouth Rebellion, this is the epic story of what happens when the one thing we think we can trust—our hearts—turns out to be the most duplicitous.

I loved the setting for Trapped at the Altar.  The 1600’s in England were full of history and drama and Ari and Ivor are poised to be right in the middle.  My one complaint about the story was how little of the story was set in London.  That meant that much of the intrigue at court was just touched on. I would have liked to see more of tht history in the story.  Since this seems to be the first book in a new series I hope it is worked into future books.

What I did love were the three main characters.  Ari is a wild child who has been indulged by her clan and her Grandfather.  Suddenly she is forced to grow up and she does not like it one bit.  Ivor was brought to the clan when he was six years old and now is the time for him to play the part he has been trained for.  Gabriel is the weakest of the three main characters.  He is a poet and a dreamer.  It was easy to see who was the best match for Ari and easy to see why her attraction to Gabriel was a passing thing. 

That attraction and the history between Ari and Ivor is at the heart of the story.  Ari's history with Gabriel adds the needed tension.  Trapped at the Altar has everything a historical romance needs.  There are trust issues, danger, romance and a little history.  All make a very readable story.

Pocket Books published Trapped at the Altar by Jane Feather in 2014.


I received an ARC of Trapped at the Altar from Netgalley.

Forever and a Day (The Company Store #2) by Ann Gimpel Blog Tour and Guest Post


I read Forever and a Day (click here for reviewand loved it so I asked Ann Gimpel if she would do a guest  post on how she did her world building.  She agreed.  Keep reading to see what she had to say. 


Creating a Setting for Your Characters by Ann Gimpel

Thanks so much for inviting me and Forever and a Day to your blog! I appreciate the compliment.

I’d love to say I use the same process for every book I write, but I don’t. Many of my books begin with an image, or series of images, that form the basis for the book. I occasionally begin with an empty world, and it tells me what kind of characters it needs. I’ve only rarely begun with a character and formed a world around them.

In Forever and a Day, the world came to me first. Maybe I’ve always been a closet James Bond fan, but the world of international espionage fascinates me. I’d written a short story about Miranda, a wolf shifter with a double life. Super spy by day and wolf by night. Juggling her identities is a necessary challenge, since the humans are unaware of shifters in their midst. Anyway, that’s how The Company Store Series was born. Miranda’s Mate was the first book and Forever and a Day, the second.

One of the things I love about urban fantasy, as opposed to high fantasy, is it’s set in the “real” world. No odd names for things. No triple moons transiting the sky. My favorite urban fantasies feel so real, they could actually happen. That hunk living next door could be a closet Celtic god, who’s really been alive for millennia. Or a mountain lion shifter who’s jetting off to Europe to track a dangerous adversary. That being said, even urban fantasy needs magic systems that are consistent. Nothing annoys me more than characters who can do everything as an author lurches from one convenient plot twist to the next.

Let me tell you a secret. I’m wretchedly old-fashioned. We lost something when our lives got very easy. There’s not much challenge left anymore, unless we create it. I think that’s why I’ve had a lifelong love affair with traveling the backcountry with a pack, where I have to rely on my wits. I’ve been cold, lost, and out of food, but I feel ever so much more alive when I get back to civilization.

I give my characters similar challenges. They need wits, creativity, and courage to survive to the next chapter, let alone make it to the end of the book. That their worlds hold tests and trials ups the ante.


How about the rest of you authors out there. Do you create characters first, or worlds? Or do they come to you as a unit that refuses to be separated?

About Forever and a Day

Urban Fantasy

 Espionage operations and runaway love travel halfway around the globe as Tamara and Lars stay one step ahead of death. Tension heats to boiling, but it’s not half as hot as the attraction licking at their heels.

Book Description:

Tamara MacBride has a much bigger problem than hiding her shifter side from the world. By the skin of her teeth, and with a smattering of Irish luck, she manages to kill her sister’s murderer. Escaping from the scene of the crime is proving much harder than she anticipated. Just when she thinks she might be safe, her cab driver shrieks and slumps over the wheel. She cowers in the back seat, too scared to run, expecting the next bullet will be for her.

An unknown assailant terminates Lars Kinsvogel’s target. Pleased by the outcome, after all dead is dead, Lars exchanges the glitz of Monto Carlo for a nearby airport intent on collecting the private plane he left there. He’s no sooner arrived when a cab jumps the curb. His instincts blare a warning, but Lars ignores them and trots over to investigate. There’s not much he can do for the cabbie, but his passenger is still very much alive—and absolutely stunning. It takes some tall talking, but she agrees to come with him.

Espionage operations and runaway love travel halfway around the globe as Tamara learns to accept her shifter side, and Lars embraces what’s been missing from his long life. Initially reticent to trust one another, it takes a series of crises and a near-fatal accident for them to take a chance on love—and each other.


Excerpt:
Lars Kinsvogel sucked in an annoyed breath. Anxiety and greed thickened the air in Monte Carlo’s Place de Casino, and he stifled a choking sound. Damn his hypersensitive shifter senses. If it weren’t for them, the desperation hovering around him wouldn’t be quite so palpable. Casinos were always like this, though, a haven for the rash and reckless. What had likely begun as a harmless pastime turned into hardcore addiction for an unfortunate few, forcing them to return again and again despite diminishing returns.
Hope springs eternal. All the poor sods need is one more spin of the wheel, another hand of cards… Lars looked up, right into the croupier’s beady gaze.
“Would monsieur like to place a bet?” The croupier grinned with all the warmth of a hammerhead shark, displaying a mouthful of bad teeth. What was it with the French and their aversion to dentistry? Lars shook his head and made shooing motions with one hand. He’d have to either join the baccarat game soon, or move on, but he could get away with loitering for a few more minutes without drawing undue attention to himself.
His target, a powerfully built man with Asian features revealing his half-Chinese ancestry, had an arm slung around a striking brunette. Maybe she was one of the hookers who worked the casino circuit, maybe she was a steady thing for the man. Lars considered it and decided she could be both. Around five feet eight, she had a lush, curvy body, hair cut into a stylish bob that fell a few inches past her shoulders, and memorable eyes the color of a restless ocean. A short, black sheath hugged her like a second skin. Open nearly to her waist, it displayed half her full breasts. Even though Lars’ appraisal was surreptitious, he forced his gaze elsewhere. The woman was sex incarnate, and he didn’t need anything diverting him from his objective.
Jaret Chen pressed chips into his companion’s hand and urged her to pick a number. He gave one of her breasts a familiar squeeze, which earned him a smile, perfectly rouged lips stretching over impossibly straight teeth—and a slight shake of her head. Color stained her tanned skin. Lars realized he was looking at the woman again, wondering how her breasts would feel beneath his fingers. She seemed uncomfortable with Jaret’s frank exploration of her body, so she probably wasn’t a pro. For some unexplained reason, Lars felt relieved. The woman was too elegant to earn her living lying on her back.
He snorted to himself and studied the flashing display above the baccarat table. Maybe the woman wasn’t French. That might explain her perfect teeth—and her discomfort with having her body mauled in public. At least she held Jaret’s attention. So far the drug dealer hadn’t spared him so much as a sidelong glance. Lars had never met the man, but knew a great deal about him from an extensive dossier provided by The Company, Lars’ international security employer. Deeply involved in the heroin trade from the Middle East, across the Mediterranean, and into Europe, Jaret was one of the principals in a large operation—and Lars’ current project.
He sized the man up. Maybe six feet, he had a barrel chest. Strongly muscled arms strained against the fabric of his cream-colored silk dress shirt. His art deco tie had been loosened. Dark eyes, pronounced cheekbones, and straight dark hair cut short blended with his business attire. For all intents and purposes, he was indistinguishable from the phalanx of wealthy—and wannabe wealthy—men circulating through the casino. Lars glanced at his own cream-colored silk shirt and black linen pants. With the exception that his tie was still firmly knotted, he and Jaret were dressed as twins.
Guess neither of us wanted to stick out in anyone’s memory.
Lars glanced at his Rolex. Close to midnight and time to move on. He’d seen enough. Now it was a matter of figuring out where and when to strike. These things always went more smoothly when they were nearly invisible. He melted into the crowd and made his way outside. The casino fronted the French Riviera; Lars stood looking out at the Mediterranean for long moments. The water was quiet tonight, waves barely slapping the white sand beach. His cell phone, set on silent, vibrated against his hip, and he tugged it from a pocket to look at the display.
Private. Damn! Could be anyone.
Lars punched the answer icon, held the phone to his ear, and waited. No need to say anything until he knew who was on the other end.
“Are you somewhere you can talk?” Lars inhaled sharply as Garen LeRochefort’s voice came through the phone’s speaker. Another shifter, Garen had founded The Company hundreds of years ago. The mechanics of the spy game had changed drastically between the late seventeen hundreds and modern times, but the basics—kill or be killed—hadn’t altered much. Everyone who worked for The Company was some type of shifter. Lars’ animal form was a mountain lion, Garen’s a wolf.
Lars loped farther down the beach until he cleared several couples engaged in deep, hungry kisses. “What has happened?” Something must have, or Garen wouldn’t have risked contact.
“You need to leave.”
“But I have not—”
“Doesn’t matter,” Garen cut in. “I’ll explain when you’re back in the office on a fully scrambled line.”
Lars thought about his twin engine Piper Seneca waiting at the Nice airport, fifteen miles from Monte Carlo. It gave him freedom to come and go, and was much cheaper to operate than the business class jets he also owned. “Maybe I could still—”
“No!” The one word thundered so loud, Lars moved the phone away from his ear. “Don’t even go back to your room.” Garen hesitated. “Old friend. Trust me on this.” The line went dead.
Lars stared at the iPhone’s display and dropped the cellular device back into his pocket. He’d been compromised. He wasn’t certain quite how, and a part of him was curious as hell. He kept walking, swinging in a wide circle to head back toward the Hotel de Paris. Garen had said not to return to his room, but if he were careful, maybe he could learn something critical that would help their side.
“Ja, forewarned is forearmed,” he muttered. Keycard in hand, he let himself into a side door of the rambling old structure, got his bearings, and started cautiously up a stairwell. His suite was on the second floor, at the very end of the wing facing the Mediterranean. He’d always loved the old hotel with its thick, patterned carpets and antique lighting and furnishings. Staying next to the walls, he used a bit of shifter magic to cast a don’t look here spell. It wouldn’t keep someone determined from seeing him, but it didn’t require much magic, either.
He entered the second floor a few doors from his own and scanned the empty hallway, his senses on high alert. Midnight was early in Monte Carlo, a city where people frequently stayed up through dawn and slept the day away, so he fully expected to see other guests, but the hall was mercifully empty. He padded silently toward his door and examined it, wishing he’d set a trap. He inhaled, trying to sort scents, but there were too many to make sense of. He could leave, just walk away like Garen had almost ordered him to, but Lars had never been a coward, and he was more intrigued than frightened. He’d spent years worming his way out of dicey situations. This was just one more, and he was damned if he’d walk away from his things. Not unless he had to.
He took a deep breath, tugged his guaranteed-not-to-set-off-metal-detectors .32 caliber revolver from its ankle holster, and shoved the key card into the slot in the door. A tiny electric motor hummed and the deadbolt snicked out of the way. He turned the latch, kicked the door open, and turned from side to side scanning the sitting room of his suite, gun at the ready. Lars waited in the doorway, barely breathing, and then he heard a muted click, followed by an unmistakable whirr, and knew.
A bomb.
He cursed in German, not knowing if he was more annoyed with the turn of events or with himself for not taking Garen’s advice and getting the hell out of there.

Publisher: Taliesin
ISBN:  978-1-62916-065-8
Release Date: 7/3/14

About the Author:

Bio:

Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent.  Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing.  A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. She’s published over 20 books to date, with several more contracted for 2014.

A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.





@AnnGimpel


Forever and A Day (The Company Store #2) by Ann Gimpel

Urban Fantasy

From Goodreads:

Tamara MacBride has a much bigger problem than hiding her shifter side from the world. By the skin of her teeth, and with a smattering of Irish luck, she manages to kill her sister’s murderer. Escaping from the scene of the crime is proving much harder than she anticipated. Just when she thinks she might be safe, her cab driver shrieks and slumps over the wheel. She cowers in the back seat, too scared to run, expecting the next bullet will be for her.

An unknown assailant terminates Lars Kinsvogel’s target. Pleased by the outcome, after all dead is dead, Lars exchanges the glitz of Monto Carlo for a nearby airport intent on collecting the private plane he left there. He’s no sooner arrived when a cab jumps the curb. His instincts blare a warning, but Lars ignores them and trots over to investigate. There’s not much he can do for the cabbie, but his passenger is still very much alive—and absolutely stunning. It takes some tall talking, but she agrees to come with him.

Espionage operations and runaway love travel halfway around the globe as Tamara learns to accept her shifter side, and Lars embraces what’s been missing from his long life. Initially reticent to trust one another, it takes a series of crises and a near-fatal accident for them to take a chance on love—and each other.

Forever and a Day features two great characters and some really interesting world building . Lars Kinsvogel and Tamara MacBride have more in common than they know. Both are after the same man and both have a hidden nature (The cover gives that secret away. They are both cat shifters) . They are thrown together when Tamara takes out Lars target. Lars is a professional but Tamara is not. She is avenging her sister. Watching how the two interact is at the heart of the story. There is danger, excitement, and attraction as circumstances force them to first trust and then reveal their biggest secret. The first part of the story was filled with mile a minute action and the second was filled with romance. This is book 2 of The Company Store series but it works well as a stand alone.


Taliesin Publishing released Forever and a Day by Ann Gimpel in 2014.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Poison Promise (Elemental Assassin #11) by Jennifer Estep

Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

From Goodreads:

In book eleven of her New York Times bestselling Elemental Assassin series, author Jennifer Estep continues “one of the best urban fantasy series going on the market” (Fresh Fiction).

Gin Blanco is hard-nosed, sexy, and lethal. Nicknamed “The Spider,” she’s a stone elemental assassin who brings her unique mix of magic and tact to every assignment, no matter the target.

There’s a new drug on the streets of Ashland, and its name “Burn” sums up the potent effect it has on its users. When one of her restaurant employees is threatened by dealers of the drug, Gin steps in to set things straight.

This time Gin Blanco goes up against the drug lord of Ashland.  She thinks that she made the choice to take him on but when all is said and done she finds she has been manipulated.  By who?  A new version of  an old enemy.

I felt like Gin as the book ended.  I was really let down.  The battle was exciting, Gin had a fight for her life and in the end she found that she set up a bigger enemy.  While I liked the story I did wonder if we were about to go back to the beginning and see a replay of the first few books.  I guess I will find out when book 12 comes out.

Pocket Books published Poison Promise by Jennifer Estep in 2014.


I received an ARC of Poison Promise from Netgalley.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Anthem's Fall by S.L. Dunn Virtual Book Tour - Guest Post and Giveaway




Science Fiction

BLURB: 
 
Above a horrified New York City, genetics and ethics collide as the fallen emperor and a banished exile of the same herculean race ignite into battle over the city’s rooftops. In the streets below, a brilliant young scientist has discovered a technology that can defeat them both, yet might be more terrible than either.

Set both in modern New York City and in the technologically sophisticated yet politically savage world of Anthem, Anthem’s Fall unfurls into a plot where larger than life characters born with the prowess of gods are pitted against the shrewd brilliance of a familiar and unlikely heroine.

Guest Post:  

Creating the World for Anthem's Fall  by S.L. Dunn

Anthem’s Fall is my debut novel, and the first book in a new series. It’s a genre-bending story, with some aspects of science fiction and others of fantasy. The novel introduces readers to the barbaric world of Anthem, along with the mysterious technology that comes to unite Anthem and our world. It is scheduled for publication on July 31, 2014.
Above a horrified New York City, genetics and ethics collide as the fallen emperor and a banished exile of the same herculean race ignite into battle over the city’s rooftops. In the streets below, a brilliant young scientist has discovered a technology that can defeat them both, yet might be more terrible than either. Set both in modern New York City and in the technologically sophisticated yet politically savage world of Anthem, Anthem’s Fall unfurls into a plot where larger than life characters born with the prowess of gods are pitted against the shrewd brilliance of a familiar and unlikely heroine.

It was enjoyable to create two worlds in Anthem’s Fall, but far more of my creative efforts went to Anthem than the recognizable streets of New York. It was an amazing process to create a whole world, complete with a history, ideologies, cities and a government. The tricky part was then taking all of that created content and presenting it to the reader in a way that didn’t detract from the plotline. Writing Anthem’s Fall was a constant balancing act between providing essential back story, but at the same time keeping the plot moving forward.

Here is an Excerpt:

It had its certain comforts and learned familiarities, but New York had never felt like home. The initial novelty of Manhattan and all of its cultural and architectural grandeur had long waned, and what she once regarded with wonder, she now felt only a moldering cynicism. These days Kristen Jordan considered the soaring edifices and crowding streets to be the material shape, the substance, behind the insatiable and thoughtless ambition of the modern. Nudging her straw against the melting ice cubes at the bottom of an empty vodka tonic, Kristen looked about the shabbily decorated and dimly lit college bar. Glowing neon beer signs and television screens hung on walls that enclosed a dozen booths and tables. A distinct smell of stale beer and hot wings hung in the air, yet the nearby conversations of fellow academics, exultant and self-assured, ignored this atrophy.

Kristen studied genetics at Columbia, and her brilliance was unrivaled. Sitting quietly and gazing across the young faces of the bar, Kristen wondered if she stood out among her outwardly preoccupied and self-satisfied peers, or if they too were all carrying unspoken anchors of anxiety and doubt. On some level, though, she knew her general restlessness was an unfortunate byproduct of her intellect, and not an affliction shared by the masses.

 From across the table her fellow graduate student Steve Armstrong had started rambling over the loud rock music, his hand clutching a perspiring glass of beer. “My point is that there’s a difference between intelligence, or even consciousness for that matter, and awareness. They’re two entirely different phenomena that are always lumped into the same category. Don’t you think?”

  Kristen Jordan groaned and rolled her eyes, which elicited a laugh out of another graduate student sitting beside her, Cara Williams.

 “I don’t care, Steve,” Kristen said, her voice distracted and leaden. “I hardly think it’s a topic worthy of lengthy discussion. There’s no way of knowing for certain because that kind of technology doesn’t exist.”

“Are you kidding me?” Steve gulped his beer and glared at her, his words faintly slurred. The alcohol added a note of indignation to his tone. “You’re saying we shouldn’t consider how a new technology will operate?”

The Author will be awarding a $50.00 Amazon/BN Gift card to one  Randomly Drawn Winner Via Rafflecopter.  





Sunday, July 20, 2014

Musing Monday's July 21, 2014

TC is in the sun musing about the chipmunk she sees out the window.
Hopefully that is all she does.  So far this month she has presented me
 with two chipmunks - one alive and one dead but both in my bedroom.
Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week.Musing Mondays is sponsored by Should Be Reading.
• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it! 
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

I have had a very busy reading week.  While I have only read two books they were two very long book.  Cibloa Burn and The Dark Between the Stars are both hard covers and both almost 700 pages.  They are also both library books.  I placed them on reserve soon after they were ordered and was the first one to read both.  That was both great (I got to read them soon after they came out) and not great because other people also had them on reserve so I couldn't re-new if I didn't finish the book.  I finished both and have even written my review on both.  It is a very good feeling.

Cibola Burn (Expanse #4) by James S.A. Corey

Science Fiction

From Goodreads:

The gates have opened the way to thousands of habitable planets, and the land rush has begun. Settlers stream out from humanity's home planets in a vast, poorly controlled flood, landing on a new world. Among them, the Rocinante, haunted by the vast, posthuman network of the protomolecule as they investigate what destroyed the great intergalactic society that built the gates and the protomolecule.


But Holden and his crew must also contend with the growing tensions between the settlers and the company which owns the official claim to the planet. Both sides will stop at nothing to defend what's theirs, but soon a terrible disease strikes and only Holden - with help from the ghostly Detective Miller - can find the cure.

At the end of the last book we left after the crew of the Rocinante helped open the gates to thousands of world.  Two years later we find them headed to a mission to keep the peace between two different groups on the first planet to be opened.  The crew’s old friend the protomolecule has been there and left danger for the new arrivals.

Like the three previous books Cibola Burn is non-stop science fiction adventure.  There is the friction between the two groups, a sudden world wide storm, killer slugs, a disease like condition, ships in orbit without power, and people who think death is better than giving away one inch of the planet. 

All of this comes together to make another great story in the Expanse series.  Cibola Burn can be read as a stand-alone.  While the back-story from the previous books is mentioned only a small part is needed in Cibola Burn.  Like the back-story the most important world building for this story is done in Cibola Burn. The only element that is a big carry over is the character building that has been done for Holden and his crew.  The rest of the story is filled with characters new to the series. 

There is a hint of what will happen in the world of the Expanse in the Epilogue.  I think Holden and crew will be back in another exciting and interesting adventure some time in the future.


Orbit published Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey in 2014.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stacking the Shelves July 19, 2014

Books Stacked on My Shelves
shelves.

From the Library:

The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson
Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey


By Its Cover by Donna Leon

Won:

From Sourcebook a tote bag with a great saying.  Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History .  The bag came with five books by Grace Burrowes.  Four I had already read, The MacGregor's Lady, The Bridegroom Wore Plaid, Gareth, and The Captive.  One I had not read.  In fact The Traitor has not been released yet.  It is due out August 5th.