Mastered

51A7PNWr8dL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_From amazon:

She’s ready to try again.
  Sasha Blake is scarred from a BDSM session gone wrong, but she can’t deny how much a strong Master turns her on. Determined to overcome her fears and rejoin the Partners in Play community, she asks Abby and Nathaniel West to set her up with a Dom who can help her feel safe again as a sub. They know the very experienced Cole is exactly the kind of man who can push all of Sasha’s buttons—and she soon wants to go much faster than she had planned.
  Cole knows that Sasha is not the kind of submissive he needs. He wants someone who will serve him 24-7, not a part-time partner. Still, the further they go into their play, the more Cole begins to wish he could make Sasha his all the time.
When forbidden desires turn into scorching action, Sasha and Cole come face-to-face with their demons—and realize their scorching relationship might be too dangerous to last.

I’m fussy about my BDSM romance. It has to be clever, well-written, and value consent over all. The Submissive Series does this, and I grab each book as they come out with a “yes, please, more.”

This book is my favorite in the series so far. The tension between Cole and Sasha is tight and brilliant. The physical play is as good as Tara Sue Me’s books get, but the psychological dynamic between these two is what makes this book really shine.

I fangirled @tarasueme on twitter and it was neat to have her mention that this book was her favorite too, for the same reasons. The fun she had writing this pair really shows through.

I also love the way the cast in these books has grown without turning into a soap opera.
I hope we get to see more of these two.

Also, I’d really like to have the cover as a poster on my wall.

Echoes

loanaI saw The Name of the Rose when I was sixteen, in the theater, and so began my love of Umberto Eco and Christian Slater. The movie led to the book, which was-unlike the movie-about books, and their meaning and the written communication that can shape a culture.

The semiotics at the core of the book brought me to the terrifying and delightful realization that books have the power of time travel and telepathy. An author from centuries ago still marks the mind of those reading their words today.

Decades later I read Foucault’s Pendulum, during my Forgotten Year-so I shall have to read it again-but I do remember being struck by the notion that people want to believe conspiracy theories. We want our stories to connect, to have a purpose and great import, a life of their own.

A few years ago, I read The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, ironically enough about a man who loses his memory and searches through the literary mementos-books, magazines and comic books-that shaped him growing up, to discover what he has forgotten.

Umberto Eco’s books always give me a deeper understanding of the power of language, of words, the transference of thought through time. I am sad that there will be no more them, but I love the idea that his books, because they have shaped me, will have,  somewhere, a mark on my own.

THE LAST OF THE FIREDRAKES

drakes

From Amazon:
16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad.
Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms–including killing anyone who stands in her way. Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.
With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.

I found this fairy tale fascinating. The story is a heroine’s journey through every cherished fantasy setting and scenario, all pastiched together with a delicate hand. The language flows in a young person’s flighty narrative, as if a teenager were telling a juicy romantic adventure to best friends at a sleepover party, with evil brutes and cute boys, complete with all the asides and inner dialogue. (I so wish an audible version were available. This book cries out for a dramatic read by a young voice.)

The Last of the Firedrakes was first published serially-it won a Watty in 2015-and has much of that chapter by chapter episodic feel, which is perfect for a hero’s quest story.
There’s a sweetness to the book that is utterly adorable–even the names had me grinning: Duke Gabriel Silverthorne, Penelope Plumpleberry, Rafe the Black Wolf.
But underneath the cute settings and lovable cast is an intricate plot, and at the core is the classic growth from girl to woman. The best part, like all fairy tales, is the romance, and the slow building relationship between Aurora and Rafe is is wonderful. Where Aurora is naive, he is protective (and deliciously swoon-worthy).

I recommend this book to anyone who would enjoy an epic saga around a magical world in the head of a wide-eyed teenager.

 

 

A Duchess in Name

duchess

My friend and colleague Amanda Weaver wrote this amazing story that I will gush over until I die. The cover is exquisite and the plot and the characters are superb.

The blurb from amazon:
After graduating from British finishing school, an American heiress fulfills her duty and weds a destitute earl. A lie brought them together, but will it also tear them apart? Find out in this can’t-miss Victorian marriage-of-convenience story from a compelling new voice in historical romance.
(Read more here.)

My review:
So good. The characters were so well crafted that my heart was bleeding for them the whole book. Gorgeous and sexy, angsty and delightful. One of my biggest critiques of period romance is that the clothing is described inaccurately, but I was safe in Weaver’s hands. Her costuming background makes for perfectly drawn details–my absolute favorite scene takes place in a dressmaker’s shop.
A fast read that tugs on the emotions the whole story, with the bedroom door left wide open for some delicious moments.
I can’t wait for the next one.

The Forest’s Son

forestI was outside taking a reading break while waiting for a Papageno mask to dry and the redbud tree overhead dropped a few leaves on my iPad. One of those perfect moments.
Cyndy Aleo released THE FOREST’S SON as serialized novel, and I clawed the walls for each installment. The tease:

HIDDEN FOR TWO CENTURIES. HIS TRIBE WANTS HIM DEAD. HIS BEST FRIEND WANTS HIS HEART.
Two things differentiate Vance Welburn from the rest of his college classmates: his loyal to the point of social suicide female best friend and forgetting everything including his own name approximately once a month.
Each time Vance loses his memory, his best friend Donovan grows more frustrated. Then they both discover the secret Vance has been keeping even from himself: He’s part of a legendary tribe of women said to live in the forests of Poland. They kill all male children. And he and his mother have been on the run for nearly 200 years.
Before they know it, Vance and Donovan are fighting for their lives against this tribe most believe is mythological. Realizing their feelings go deeper than friendship leaves him with a choice: Donovan or destiny?

I loved loved loved this book. I wanted illustrations by Brian Froud, and a movie by Guillermo del Toro ala Pan’s Labyrinth.
Cyndy has since collected the sections and published them as a single book. Here are my goofy reviews per installment:

Unknowing: A gorgeous opening- it’s like walking into a forgotten myth and discovering you have deeper roots than you thought. It’s a little sexy, and a little dangerous, and I can’t wait to read the rest.
Awakening: I love the way this is unfolding; Vance is fascinating, and I really like Donovan’s voice. I’d forgotten how fun it is to read serialized stories.
Supplanting: Edge of my seat–so much tension and I don’t want to leave spoilers but lots of action twists that I didn’t see coming-
Leaving: This section ran in fifth gear for me, angsty and gorgeous and sexy!
Ending: So good. I wanted more, a second helping, an invitation to the next party, but there’s closure and icing on the cake.

Find it on amazon here.

More than Friendly

10409337_1463752397218603_4738045100179922348_nThe FREQUENT FLYERS collection ends with a bang, or at least a volcanic eruption. In Amanda Weaver‘s absolutely delicious The Friendly Skies, a flight to Mexico is rerouted back home due to a natural disaster.

Cassie, an overworked, overstressed, corporate travel director, is stuck on a plane, and her seatmate is a drooling drunk with no intentions of ending his bachelor party bender. Across the aisle, Tall-Blond-and-British gallantly invites her to the empty seat next to him. They enjoy a drink, and some conversation, but Cassie is all too familiar with the womanizing men in Business Class, and doesn’t trust Simon’s pretty eyes or his witty banter. However, enough champagne and soon she’s forgetting her own rules.

The dialogue in this novella is fantastic. Our hero has a passion for food and, quite obviously, for Cassie. His flirtatious one-liners are just yummy. My favorite bit:

“I can assure you, Mitchell and I were never involved.”
His unexpected deadpan delivery made her burst out laughing. “You’re not his type. Although…” She cocked her head and considered him. “He always did have a thing for blondes.”
Simon’s eyes skated over her hair, long, straight and dark brown. “He had no taste.”

Amanda Weaver is the author of the contemporary romance ALWAYS.

To the Moon and Back

bev's bookIn FREQUENT FLYERS’s fifth story, Bev Elle‘s charming and funny novella Fly Me to the Moon, Jessamy Taylor is the only ticket agent who can handle “Weird Griffin”, an eccentric passenger with a penchant for whistling Frank Sinatra, corduroy pants, and hand sanitizer.

Jessamy has quirks of her own, and knows there is more to Dr. Griffin Sanderson than meets the eye; he’s her neighbor, and she even dated him several years ago. But their common interests and the hard body under his Star Wars tee-shirts couldn’t overcome his idiosyncrasies, and she left him when he wouldn’t get help for the problems that were pulling them apart. He still passes through her check-in line every week, though, and lately, she’s noticing a few changes, like the switch from the Clark Kent glasses to contacts, and that lingering look back at her, before he disappears toward his gate. But has he changed enough? And is she too set in her own ways to give him another chance?

I love Jessamy. She’s smart and sweet and peculiar enough to be a good match for our good doctor (who, as it turns out, has a touch of Mr. Darcy behind his Big Bang Theory fashion sense), and her mother will have you in stitches.

Bev Elle is the author of OBSIDIAN FAITH, available December 4th.
FREQUENT FLYERS hits amazon.com on November 1st. Check out our article in USA Today!

Alternate Planes

unschedT.M. Franklin’s novella Unscheduled Departure, third in the FREQUENT FLYERS COLLECTION, is a marvelous story that slides into magic realism (my favorite literary genre) when Ro, heartbroken that her boyfriend Finn must move across the country, debates a last minute text after he’s boarded his plane: Please don’t go.

Finn doesn’t, and he and Rowan pick up where they left off with college, but… something is weird. Ro’s phone is receiving odd messages, and Finn’s shirt is the wrong color. In fact, quite a few things about her boyfriend seem strange, and she begins to wonder if somehow, her desperation brought back the wrong man.

I adore this story; it’s part romance, part modern fairytale, and the writing is lovely. Finn is a sweetheart, and the interaction between our couple is just so cute I want to squeeze them both like a flotation device seat cushion, and then go drink wine with Lindsay, Ro’s amateur psychic best friend. She reads auras and may have some answers to this mystery.

T.M. Franklin is the author of the YA paranormal MORE series (the third in the trilogy, TWELVE, drops today) and the teen romance HOW TO GET AINSLEY BISHOP TO FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU. The FREQUENT FLYERS COLLECTION, six romantic stories that all begin at an airport, will be available from amazon.com on November 1st.

Angel Flight

forcedForced Landing, the second story in the FREQUENT FLYERS COLLECTION, is a paranormal romance adventure by Angel Lawson.

This novelette opens with Nadya, a young woman who helps her father run a small private airport in Illinois, wondering about the enigmatic and surly Liam Caldwell. She craves a bit mystery of her own, trying to find her place in her dead mother’s legacy, taking on the trappings and clothing of a witch, though she’s better at sniffing out when Pop is avoiding the truth than predicting the future. Nadia spends her days trying to cure her boredom by reading the horoscope and stalking Liam, but when he is injured during a rough landing forced by a storm, her life suddenly becomes more complicated.

I won’t reveal more, because half the fun of this story is watching the secrets unfold. I also love the shifts to Liam’s point of view (I’m a sucker for dual PoV romance) and the way we discover another side to the story from his darker perspective. My favorite line in the story comes from his voice: Careful wasn’t something in my vocabulary, but fire? I liked it very much.

The FREQUENT FLYERS COLLECTION goes live on amazon.com November 1st.

A Bold Opening

bethIt was him.

Eye Of The Storm opens with this ominous observation, and Beth Bolden’s novella, the first in the FREQUENT FLYERS COLLECTION, maintains this tension throughout the whole story. Flight attendant Tess is both intimidated and attracted to the icy and aloof Captain Grant Montgomery III, and an embarrassing mishap strains their working relationship even further. When an inclement blizzard grounds their flight, and forces them together in a car chase on the leading edge of the snowstorm, Tess must act as co-pilot, and slowly, the captain begins to thaw.

Beth writes this story in the same casual narrative style as her baseball rom-com LUCKY CHARM, with Tess’s internal battle with her attraction described in quirky observations, and her gradual realization that Grant is not as cold as she first perceived.

What I enjoyed most is the depth of the characters, and the way we slowly learn not just who they are, but why and how their very different upbringings decided their choices and paths in life. And, oh yeah, that scene with the towel, and that one droplet of water that falls from the lock of his hair….

FREQUENT FLYERS hits amazon.com November 1st, and check out Beth’s FB page! Also, if you’re a book blogger, she’s about to reveal the second in her Portland Pioneers series- sign up to get involved here.