Sleuthing with the Enemy

BOOK 1: To Trust a Wolf  by  Danielle Hardgrave

Sleuthing with the Enemy  description:

Somebody just stole a valuable artifact from the Helsen archives, and Annemette Helsen—a very pissed off werewolf—is going to make sure they pay for it.
There’s just one problem: Anna’s only suspect is the arrogant vampire prince, Jonas Weiss. He’s cocky, frustrating, and a little bit sexy. Okay, a lot sexy.
He also claims to be innocent, so the fact that she just broke into his home and attacked him is problematic.
And his price for keeping silent about the whole debacle? Downright devious.

BOOK 2: Sleuthing with the Enemy   4 STARS

This was far more developed than the first book, and you really get a good look into the set up of the supernatural world. We get a lot more of their lore, and how their governing systems work within their hidden community. While Helen and Rune do show up a bit in here, it’s really all about Annemette and Jonas, and I like how this is moving forward from the last book, and showing the significance of the bracelet from the first. Anna and Jonas have some clear chemistry from the beginning, but Hardgrave does a great job of really developing the characters and not just having them jump in together. Anna, especially, goes through a lot of growth in this story, and it really helps you feel for them. That being said, this book has its wonderful moments of hilarity. I found myself giggling and blushing on behalf of Anna with all the awkward situations she gets herself into. Altogether a great balance of action and humor. You should definitely be as happy as I was for Benji to show up again, and that mystery that continues to follow him has me dying to know more. However, there’s 2 big questions I have to ask. First, how is it that there aren’t any cops coming after Rune after that whole thing of Helen reporting him for theft and assault? Second, what the heck is a permie? I mean I get that’s their slang for regular human, but where did that term come from, because it sounds like something you’d call someone with a bad perm job. Would love some explanations. Hopefully it’ll come in the next book, which I will be snatching up as soon as possible.

Why Can’t Boys Be Sweet?

I read a Twitter thread today talking about how a 4 year old boy wanted to have a butterfly painted on his face, but his parents flat out refused to allow such and instead forced him to get a skull and crossbones. You know, something manly. It just got me thinking how much easier it is to be a girl.

I’m not saying that women don’t deal with issues of inequality. There are still jobs it’s hard for women to get, pay disparities, and general sexist attitudes that still exist in the world. But sometimes it seems it’s easier for women to break into the man’s world and be hailed a revolutionary than it is for the reverse. While we’re so busy trying to show the world we can be just as strong, capable, and badass as men, we overlook the fact that men aren’t as easily allowed to be sweet, loving, and nurturing as women. For both men and women, acts of masculinity are much more easily accepted than those deemed more feminine. Even at times for a woman, we’re seen as weak for being girly, no wonder all the heroines today are more Black Widow than Cinderella. But that’s a discussion for another day.

Now I’ve served in the Air Force as a mechanic, and what do most people say to hearing that? “Thank you for serving.” I was a girl who did a manly job, no problem. After getting out and getting a degree, I had trouble finding a job, and when folks asked me what I did I just said stay-at-home. Some would ask if I had kids, and upon hearing that I didn’t seemed simply envious I got to be home while my husband brought home the bacon. But while men going into the military doesn’t even get a second thought, a guy staying at home instead of working would simply be seen as lazy, and a man who decides to stay at home to take care of the kids is seen as unmanly, and worse the number of people who are sure men can’t care for children as well as women. Of course, I’ve already talked about that in Can Only Mommies Mommy? In either situation no one seemed bothered by my life choice, but for men it’s a whole other ballgame, and I’ve seen it before plenty of times. And it’s not just men being tough on other men, it’s women with the same expectations of how men should act.

However, when it comes to kids sometimes it’s almost more obvious how we start at the beginning to force this confining issue on boys, and less so on girls. A little girl wants to play with GI Joe, well look at her not excepting those stereotypes placed on her by men. A little boy wants to play with Barbie, we need to stop that or he’s gonna turn out to be one of them gays.

I think back to myself growing up, I was the weird girl who’d wear pocket watches, ties, and suspenders. Not very stylishly I might add, I was dressing to be “cool” like my dad. I remember a guy commenting how nobody said anything about my clothes, but if he wore a kilt it’d be a scandal. People’s response, “well that’s RG, that’s just what she does.” Essentially I can be accepted for weird boyish behavior, but he couldn’t be accepted for anything remotely girly.

When I asked my dad about this he said, “You can’t stop someone from being who they are on the inside. You can only oppress them, and stop them from accepting who they are. You can stop them from being happy with themselves.” Essentially your kid is who they is, you’re either helping them love themselves or making them feel ashamed and resentful.

I think of my sweet little 3 year old nephew, who one minute is hugging an angel figurine claiming it’s a beautiful butterfly and it’s his favorite. The next he’s building a Lego tower claiming it’s a robot prison, which apparently also needed a hug. One act is a bit ‘girly’ and the other more acceptable of boys. And I’m so happy his parents are raising him to be sweet rather than tough, they want him to learn and discover all the wonders of the world, and not try to shut down this intelligent loving little boy. Kids are innocent beings who are just learning about life. Don’t stifle their love and joy with your fear that they’re not going to be “normal”, instead allow them to bloom knowing that you’re there for them no matter what.

Every little boy should be allowed to appreciate the beauty of the world as much as girls do. Boys should be allowed to try new things and learn new skills even if they’re not deemed manly. After all that definition changes one century to the next. There was a time when knitting was considered too complicated for women and was actually a man’s hobby. Just think about that.

The Tomb of the Sea Witch

BOOK 1: The Beast of Talesend  by  Kyle Robert Shultz

The Tomb of the Sea Witch   description:

Private detective Nick Beasley used to be a debunker of magic–and a human being. Then he found out magic is real. The hard way. Now he’s on the run from a powerful council of enchanters who want him dead, along with his little brother Crispin and the renegade enchantress Lady Cordelia Beaumont.

So when Cordelia suggests going undercover at a stronghold of the Council’s power–the Warrengate Academy of Advanced Magic–Nick isn’t exactly thrilled with the idea. Cordelia insists that the school may hold the key to Nick regaining his humanity: an ancient spell created by the Sea Witch from the tale of the Little Mermaid.

But the mission proves to be more complicated than Beaumont and Beasley had expected. An ancient threat is rising from the deep, bringing an army of the dead along with it. Shocking revelations send Nick, Cordelia, and Crispin on a harrowing journey under the sea.

The Sea Witch is not quite as dead as everyone believes…and her secrets will change everything.

BOOK 2: The Tomb of the Sea Witch   5 STARS

At this point I just need Shultz to go back and write a book for every fairy tale, and the truth of how it all actually went down, because his versions seem far better than the way we’ve been told them. Now if you liked the first book even just a little bit, you definitely have to read this one. We’re really delving into the world of magic, and all the beings that have been in hiding in the Afterlands. I rather liked that they ended up at a school of magic (not for villains but anti-heroes), because it was an instant view into everything that’s been hidden from the rest of the world, and a look at their history and how they interact with others. More so, Nick, Crispin, and Cordelia felt more balanced in this book. They’re more of a team, and the humor flows really well in contrast to all the insanity that’s going on around them. Plus it’s just adorable how every animal Crispin comes across loves him, which is understandable considering how much he cares for every new thing he finds. Yet, it’s not just them that you love, it’s all the new characters being added and really filling out the story and giving us an exciting plot on their journey to uncurse Nick. I particularly liked the class of Mythfits, and even the show of their own fear of having to survive without magic, and why they’re so terrified of mermaids. There’s endless reasons to enjoy this story, and the world that’s being created here, you can’t help but dive right in. I only hope the next book comes out quickly, especially with those interesting tidbits Shultz left at the end.

 

O-Face COVER REVEAL!!!

O Face by Heather Hildenbrand

coming October 16th, 2017

 

I have a confession.
I’ve never had an orgasm.
Not for lack of trying. Hell, I even experimented once in college with a girlfriend, but nothing. Nada. Zilch.
I’m pretty sure I’m broken.
That is, until Liam Porter waltzes back into my life.

Cassie Franklin is untouchable. And she wears it well.

Heir to a fortune and heart of fucking stone—I’ve never, not once in the years I’ve known her—seen her smile.

Not that I’ve lost sleep over her while I’ve been rolling in the sheets with every other beautiful girl this town has to offer. Not to mention the women I had during my tour of duty. I’m not exactly pining. Still, Cassie’s always gotten under my skin—all that cool beauty set into a cold stare.

So when her best friend begs me to find out what Cassie’s hiding, I’m more than happy to comply. In fact, this is one covert takedown I’ll actually enjoy.

So why is it that the more I learn about the real Cassie Franklin, the more positive I am—there’s only one expression I want to see grace her features: Her O Face.

And I never back down from a challenge.

 

Pre-order exclusively on iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1233007167

O Face is part of the Meet Cute theme of books, a collection of contemporary romance novels by different authors with the same theme.

Boy meets girl. It’s the way romances usually begin . . . and while we all love a happy ending, it’s the #MeetCute that wins our hearts.

How did you two meet?

The #MeetCute Books each have a unique answer to that query. Some might make you swoon, others might make you giggle . . . and some may make you blush.

Twelve authors. Twelve stand-alone contemporary romance novels. Twelve stories that will make your heart beat a little faster.

Because it’s all about the #MeetCute.

Learn More about all the Meet Cute books here.

Heather Hildenbrand was born and raised in a small town in northern Virginia where she was homeschooled through high school. (She’s only slightly socially awkward as a result.) She writes paranormal and contemporary romance with plenty of abs and angst. Her most frequent hobbies are riding motorcycles and avoiding killer slugs.

You can find out more about Heather and her books at heatherhildenbrand.com.

Barbarian’s Rescue

Due to the number of books in this series I’m just going to add the link to the list of books I’ve reviewed by Ruby Dixon.

Barbarian’s Rescue  by  Ruby Dixon  description:

Bad day? Try mine on for size.
Rogue slavers have landed on the ice planet and captured the tribe. The only ones not snatched? Me, a walking human motormouth with no skill except that of incoherent babbling, and Warrek, who’s as silent as he is attractive. Two more unlikely people have never been paired together.
And now we’re supposed to form a rescue team.

Saving the others is either going to bring us closer together – or drive us completely apart. I’m pretty sure the feelings I’m having for my alien companion are as unrequited as they are inappropriate, but since we aren’t going to make it out alive, what harm is one teeny, tiny kiss?
Who knew that one kiss could change everything?

BOOK 15: Barbarian’s Rescue   5 STARS

There are so many reasons to love this book. I love Summer, and her inability to shut up and her need to fill the silence makes her a rather amusing character, but she isn’t just some silly girl. With the need to rescue her new tribe, it’s her ability to strategize and think of every angle that ends up saving the day. Yes, she needs Warrec and he’s definitely no slouch in the saving-the-day department, but I love that she’s not just some helpless female. She plays the biggest role in all of it, and the twist near the end in their relationship (you’ll know what I’m talking about) was hilariously perfect. Got to love a woman that knows what she wants and goes for it. Lets not forget how sweet and good Warrec is, and bless his heart for being so quiet he struggles to know what’s the right thing to say or how to express himself. He’s a good balance for Summer, and I do like that it’s delving more into the worry and possibility of resonating with someone other than the one you actually love. While in some ways I fear that ever happening, it is a possibility in this world, and I like that it’s not something the characters are just ignoring or willing to just say the khui will decide like the Sa-Khui tend to be willing to do. Though in past books it shows not all of them were so willing to go along with such either.

Spoiler Alert: While it’s not a real complaint, since it wasn’t enough to knock it from 5 stars, it does kind of bother me that in those crates while all the men were aliens all the women were human. I understand obviously for the readers a human woman may be easier to relate too, but I enjoyed the books about Farli and Asha as much as I did about any of the humans, and so it would’ve been nice to throw in perhaps an alien woman too just considering that this is a huge galaxy and if they’re trading in alien men why wouldn’t they trade in alien women. Or perhaps even have thrown in a human man. Something to kind of mix things up a bit more. Once again it wasn’t that big of a deal, and I’m sure I’ll love all the books to come dealing with these new comers, but it’s just a thought.

To Trust a Wolf

To Trust a Wolf   by  Danielle Hardgrave   description:

A list of things Helen Jurist never expected to see in her museum:

1. Viking relics
2. A dangerously seductive Dane with a suspicious interest in Viking relics
3. Werewolves

With the discovery of the Cutler Hoard, Helen may be forced to strike the word “never” from her vocabulary.

BOOK 1: To Trust a Wolf    4 STARS

I have to admit that within the same old story of werewolves and vampires the part that shines brightest is Helen. Here is finally a heroine that I can relate too whole heartedly. A no nonsense woman, who doesn’t get hysterical at the sight of mythical creatures, but instead takes it in realizes what’s happening and moves forward from there. While she can’t help but notice how handsome Rune is, and is at times swayed by his charm, she doesn’t let him stop her from trying to do what’s right and find the truth. But mostly a woman whose more about research and organization than some magical quest. I just feel like this here is a real woman, or maybe it’s just because that would so be me. And while Rune is a character I did quite enjoy, I believe Benji was far more intriguing. A being whose hypnotic powers felt more like that of the old tales of vampires, and I’m very curious to see what he’s all about. Altogether it was a good book, with some twists and romance to keep you coming back for more, though it does feel like it was over rather quickly. Regardless, I’ll definitely be picking up the next book as soon as I can.

Danielle Hardgrave has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1.      What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

My name is Danielle Hardgrave and I can be found all over the place. I blog over www.caldwellbooks.com, which is the website for my publishing company, Caldwell Publishing. We’ve also got a Twitter and a Facebook, both of which are @caldwellbooks. My personal Twitter is @dhardgrav3.

2.      Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

I’m a big fan of naps. Really. They’re something that I plan in advance and get pumped up about. I also love movies, kickboxing, and reading.

3.       How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

Like most writers, I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen. I took a pretty long siesta from writing after high school and only got back into it in late 2015. Since then it feels like all I do is write, since I earn my living as a ghostwriter. At Caldwell so far we only write paranormal romance, but I’ve written in almost every romance genre there is.

4.      What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

Honestly the greatest influence has been partnering up with my amazing business partner Olivia. She’s ruthless about my inability to correctly use commas and helps me sort out good ideas from bad. I’d be nowhere without her.

5.      Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…

Right now I’m working on the second book in our Sea Assassins Trilogy. It’s called Redemption. The whole series is pretty weird and will continue getting weirder. But, then again, when you write a series about dudes who turn into sharks, what else can you expect?

6.      How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

I’m all about the outline and character profiles. I find I just got blocked otherwise. Big fan of beat sheets too for early outlining. I have three projects on the go at the moment. One for a client, one for Caldwell, and another that’s more of a personal project. Ideally, however, I’d only have one 😛

7.      What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

My strength is definitely my sense of humor. I’ve never been any good at writing serious, angsty novels, and I often get bored reading them. Sass is where it’s at for me. My biggest weakness is description. I tend to overthink scenes and either end up with too much or too little. It’s something I’m definitely working on.

8.      After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

Honestly, I am no marketing guru when it comes to self-publishing. We use social media, but most of our marketing efforts are spent getting reviews. The only tip I have is to keep getting books out! The more you write, the more likely you are to gain readership.

9.      What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

Read lots. Write lots. Rinse, repeat. And don’t give up!

Love in the Afternoon

BOOK 1: Mine Till Midnight  by  Lisa Kleypas

BOOK 2: Seduce Me at Sunrise

BOOK 3: Tempt Me at Twilight

BOOK 4: Married by Morning

Love in the Afternoon   description:

As a lover of animals and nature, Beatrix Hathaway has always been more comfortable outdoors than in the ballroom. Even though she participated in the London season in the past, the classic beauty and free-spirited Beatrix has never been swept away or seriously courted… and she has resigned herself to the fate of never finding love. Has the time come for the most unconventional of the Hathaway sisters to settle for an ordinary man—just to avoid spinsterhood?

Captain Christopher Phelan is a handsome, daring soldier who plans to marry Beatrix’s friend, the vivacious flirt Prudence Mercer, when he returns from fighting abroad. But, as he explains in his letters to Pru, life on the battlefield has darkened his soul—and it’s becoming clear that Christopher won’t come back as the same man. When Beatrix learns of Pru’s disappointment, she decides to help by concocting Pru’s letters to Christopher for her. Soon the correspondence between Beatrix and Christopher develops into something fulfilling and deep… and when Christopher comes home, he’s determined to claim the woman he loves. What began as Beatrix’s innocent deception has resulted in the agony of unfulfilled love—and a passion that can’t be denied.

BOOK 5: Love in the Afternoon   5 STARS

I have to say, my only complaint about the book is that it could’ve been named something like Amour/Amore in the Afternoon, or something to keep the double letter going like the other books. Other than that, this book is just as wonderful as the rest of the series and then some. Beatrix has always been my favorite. Her patience with people and their quirks, her understanding of relationships and seeing things in people no one else does, and of course her love of all animals that she wants to take in, make her such a fun character. It was wonderful to have a book all about her. While of course the rest of the Hathaways and their spouses do make appearances here or there, none of them are that big of a part of the book, other than being outsiders speculating on what is going on with their innocent Beatrix and that troubled Captain Phelan. Now Christopher was surprising choice for a suitor, and yet now it’s so obviously perfect. I’m also glad Kleypas didn’t brush over the struggles returning soldiers can have integrating back into society. As terrible as it is to have PTSD now, it’s worse to imagine it during a time when no one understood such, and it was taboo to even discuss the struggles one was going through. But I truly liked how the relationship began between the two, there’s something so romantic about writing letters, I wish people still did so. Yet, it was even more curious to see how Christopher viewed her when he got back not knowing that this was the actual woman whose letters he’d fallen in love with. Altogether it was a wonderful book, and I’m sad to see this series end.

Married by Morning

BOOK 1: Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

BOOK 2: Seduce Me at Sunrise

BOOK 3: Tempt Me at Twilight

Married by Morning  description:

For two years, Catherine Marks has been a paid companion to the Hathaway sisters—a pleasant position, with one caveat. Her charges’ older brother, Leo Hathaway, is thoroughly exasperating. Cat can hardly believe that their constant arguing could mask a mutual attraction. But when one quarrel ends in a sudden kiss, Cat is shocked at her powerful response—and even more so when Leo proposes a dangerous liaison.

Leo must marry and produce an heir within a year to save his family home. Catherine’s respectable demeanor hides a secret that would utterly destroy her. But to Leo, Cat is intriguing and infernally tempting, even to a man resolved never to love again. The danger Cat tried to outrun is about to separate them forever—unless two wary lovers can find a way to banish the shadows and give in to their desires…

BOOK 4: Married by Morning  5 STARS

I love how it’s been building to this since book 2. Leo’s constant need to find Marks, as he calls her, to nettle her, and his drive to find out everything about her has really given this relationship an interesting foundation. It was definitely no love at first sight, as they seemed to drive each other crazy, and so how they went from thinking they hated each other to realizing they loved each other was a sweet and rather humorous journey. However, as funny as this book is, Kleypas does give this story a dark side when it comes to finding out the truth about Cat. It’s a serious subject that the author does not make light of, and it gives the plot a lot of depth and emotion. Just like the rest of the books in this series, it’s fast paced and you’ll be done before you know it. As usual we have all the Hathaway family back, being their usual selves, full of love and understanding and hope that make them so great to read about. Yet, it’s really Dodger who is the best little helper in driving people together. I can’t tell if he’s a guardian angel or a mischievous little devil, but I hope ferrets really are as adorable as he is.

Tempt Me at Twilight

BOOK 1: Mine Till Midnight  by  Lisa Kleypas

BOOK 2: Seduce Me at Sunrise

Tempt Me at Twilight  description:

Poppy Hathaway loves her unconventional family, though she longs for normalcy. Then fate leads to a meeting with Harry Rutledge, an enigmatic hotel owner and inventor with wealth, power, and a dangerous hidden life. When their flirtation compromises her own reputation, Poppy shocks everyone by accepting his proposal—only to find that her new husband offers his passion, but not his trust.

Harry was willing to do anything to win Poppy—except to open his heart. All his life, he has held the world at arm’s length…but the sharp, beguiling Poppy demands to be his wife in every way that matters. Still, as desire grows between them, an enemy lurks in the shadows. Now if Harry wants to keep Poppy by his side, he must forge a true union of body and soul, once and for all…

BOOK 3: Tempt Me at Twilight   4 STARS

Harry, as he himself puts it, is the villain of the story. Honestly, if the point of view was different you might have been rooting for Michael, the good viscount that Poppy is in love with, who’s being kept from his love by his father and his relationship is destroyed by Harry. However, while Harry is definitely no knight in shining armor, and his view of the world is definitely not a forgiving one, there’s something to be said for a man who doesn’t let anything get in his way, especially when going after the woman he desires. And it’s a fine line between villainous and love struck, and Kleypas does a great job of walking it with this character. Of course, by now we have a good basis of the amusing antics of the Hathaway family. Poppy is someone who knows her family will back her no matter what, although they’re all against her marrying Harry out of obligation, and so it sets an interesting tone for this relationship from the get go. Honestly, my favorite person is Beatrix, with her innocent but wise observations of people, and understanding why 2 people might work out perfectly well even when nobody else can understand it. And this book really makes me want a happy ending for Leo, because as much as he still tries to come off as uncaring and tends to do as he pleases, he does everything he can for his sisters, and his view of the world is just too amusing. Really it’s something I like about series like these, where you’re dealing with mostly the same group of folks, and so one book bleeds into the next, and it really helps to create a well rounded cast of characters of both those that we’ve already met as well as new ones that get introduced within this world, and it’s why I can’t help but speed right through to the end to know how it all ends for each of them.