Thursday, June 26, 2014

UnDeniable, by Madeline Sheehan


The premise: Eva falls in love with a much older, relatively inappropriate man, Deuce, when she's very young. Can they make it work when they both get older?

The execution: DAMNED NEAR FLAWLESS!!!!! This woman can write like nobody's business. And she's got an ear for dialogue, an eye for detail, and an unflinching grasp of reality.

These are not sanitized, good-guy bikers who only commit "victimless" crimes, like we so often find. These guys are down and dirty, hard criminals. There's murder, drugs, weapons, womanizing, infidelity, abuse, all kinds of nasty stuff. There's also a lot of heart and love in these men and their women.

The largely accurate depiction of the lifestyle here? Works for the story. Women are accessories, and wives need to say out of the way. They are honored publicly, humiliated and ignored in private. All women are objects for sexual gratification and servitude and that's it. If you're a modern woman, you're gonna get pissed reading this book. But that's cool. It's worth it not to be deluded by a bunch of romantic nonsense when reading something this gritty and heartfelt.

We also get a really good idea of what the biker life is all about. It's not just the open road and bugs in your teeth, it's cops and drugs and weapons and running and hiding and fighting and killing and dying.  And loving, and marrying, and having sex, and making love, and raising kids.  It's real, it's dirty, it's hard, and it's not some cleaned-up, romanticized trope.

Deuce is a bad guy. Frankie is a bad guy. Preacher is a bad guy. They're ALL bad guys, and they all love Eva in different ways. She's the biker princess and she's tough and strong, but wants to love. And be loved. By Deuce. Even if he is 18 years older than her. And married. And a bad guy.

I am not going any further with the storyline; I want you to stumble along and be as shocked and horrified, and pleased and surprised and happy and sad and bereft and tearful as I was. It's the fun of reading a book this good. This great, really.

Sheehan is an excellent writer and she pulls at your emotions like a pro. Go with it. The payoff is immense.

WARNING: There is bad stuff here. Drug use, shootings, murders, adultery, gore, torture, all kinds of things. I love it. I want real people, not some Polly Perfect and William her yuppie boyfriend; yes, I read the modern-day romance fairy tale now and again, but this is better. If you're looking for rose-colored glasses and rainbows and unicorns, go read something else. If you want a really good story, a very realistic story, about love and acceptance and fighting for what you neeeeeeeed in your life, this is the one. If you want the HEA? Well, it's there. Just remember that you and Eva may have different ideas of what that means.

I am now, officially, a Madeline Sheehan fan and I will be reading this entire series plus everything else I can get my hands on. I really think that, if you're a grown up who likes grown-up love stories, you should too.

Click on the pic to buy the book.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Thirty-two and a Half Complications, by Denise Grover Swank

Really, that about covers it.  

But, since we've waited a while for this installment in the Rose Gardner Mysteries, it probably deserves more hyperbole than that.  Although it's hard to go overboard when a book is this good.

I loved this book.  Until I hated it. Then I loved it again.  Really, though:


The book starts about a week or two after Thirty-one and a Half Regrets leaves off.  Mason and Rose are living together in the farmhouse Rose's birth mother left her, Joe is ... around, and Rose's sister Violet is busy, um, being Violet. Which does not turn out well.  Everyone else is here, too; Jonah the preacher, Rose's landscaping employee Bruce Wayne, Neely Kate, Miss Mildred, and, of course, Rose's dog, Muffy.  Mason's mother even makes an appearance!  

Poor Rose. She just falls into trouble like a Slinky tumbling down a staircase.  She doesn't do anything to make it happen, she's just always in the wrong place at the wrong time. This time, it's a bank robbery.  She's been paid in cash for a large job, and Violet has forgotten to make the bank deposit, so Rose does it. Except before she can hand her money over to the teller, the bank gets taken off, Rose annoys one of the robbers, and the local constabulary just makes it all worse by being... themselves. It's all downhill from there, as Rose then discovers a dead body, makes a deal with the devil, narrowly evades arrest, and tries to host her first Thanksgiving in her new home.  All while seeing visions and throwing up.  

The thing is, these people are people you know. Rose is your friend, the girl you went to school with and chat with in line at the bank, and you know you'd sit down and drink sweet tea with the girl.  Ms. Swank's characters are three-dimensional and conflicted and human and real and when you read a Rose Gardner book, you feel like you've been taken to visit Henryetta, Georgia.  The conversations, the idioms, the characterizations, even the weather, are purely perfect.  Denise has these people and places down pat, but she's not letting them stagnate.  No sir-ree bob cat tail! (Trust me, they say stuff like that.)  It's nice to stop in and visit, though, and see what's going on.

Well, Joe's still around.  He's living in Henryetta, determined to win Rose back from Mason, although the tack he takes seems a little counterproductive.  Can't blame the guy, though; he's still got his father and Hilary to contend with, and now it seems as if Violet wants into the mix.

You know I don't do spoilers, but suffice it to say that financial necessity takes our Rose down a lot of paths she might never have trod otherwise.  She becomes involved with a guy named Skeeter who is... fun.  A criminal, and a little scary, but fun.  He and Rose are a delight to watch in this book.

Ultimately, Rose solves the crime (was there every any doubt?) and things settle down.  A bit.  For a few minutes.  We are left with some cliffhangers, which makes sense since there are least three more novels, and a novella, planned for this series.  Possibly more.  It also makes sense because, just like in my life or yours, Rose's life doesn't ever settle down all the way, with every t crossed and i dotted.  Just as in reality, Rose's life is messy and complicated and never easy. Isn't that why we love her?

There are issues, of course.  At least, for me.  I love Joe Simmons. I can relate to Joe Simmons.  I am #TeamJoe all the way.  And he really gets the dirty end of the stick in this book.  I have no idea where Swank is going with the triangle she's crafted in this series, but if you want to keep both men as viable options, you don't accuse one of pretty much everything bad including tearing the wings off flies and kicking puppies.  And that one kiss?  (You'll know the one I mean when you read.)  Joe is a lot of things, but he's not that.  And Mason?  You'd think the guy could walk on water while simultaneously feeding the hungry and saving the whales.  Most of the time Swank's characterizations are excellent, but the gap between our two male protagonists is widening and that's not conducive to romantic tension.  Or to my happiness, really, although I'm fairly certain that doesn't factor into Swank's writing.

On the up side... she didn't go there. Again, no spoilers, but there is a trite, common, teeth-grindingly cheeesy plot trick that a lot of lesser authors use to create resolution or tension or whatever. Swank uses that little trope carefully, sparingly, and in the end, well, it's all sleight of hand.  Yay for that, Denise.  I knew you wouldn't take the easy way out.

This is a great book, worthy of the series, and worth every second you spend with it.  I spent 14,400 of them with this one. That's 4 hours, for those of you who can't find your calculators.  And that should tell you something right there; I read this book in FOUR HOURS!!!!  

I cannot recommend this book, or the Rose Gardner Mystery series highly enough. I have convinced many people to start reading these and now they are as hooked as I am.  If you are already a fan of Denise and/or Rose Gardner, this book is going to make you happy, sad, furious, afraid, tense, and ultimately gratified for the glimpse into your favorite fictional southern town.  If you're not already strung out on Swank and her fabulous series, get the whole lot of them, take a week off work, and read them. You won't be sorry.  Heck, the first one's free!  You like free books, right? Of course right. 

And, the newest entry on the life and times  of Rose Gardner and her little dog Muffy, too:

Over all, a very rewarding read.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Taboo Unchained, by CM Stunich: Cover reveal and blurb

We already know I love CM Stunich.  Her writing, her rock stars, her bikers, all of it.  Well, here comes a new, nasty, sexy man for us all to enjoy.

The taboo turns me on. 

The dirty. The filthy. The nasty. 

The man your mother fucking warned you about – is me. 
Hold onto your 
panties, ladies.

Lucas Carter is here to show you the dark side of the sheets. 

 ***WARNING: This is a dark romance erotica – meaning lots of violence, 
sex, and emotionally disturbing inner dialogue. However, there is *NO* 
kidnapping, rape, or other forms of misogyny. Lucas Carter is an 
anti-hero, but he doesn't disrespect women. The entire book is told in 
his point of view.

Mark you calendars!

Release Day: June 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Fixed Trilogy: Fixed no You, Found in You, Forever with You - Laurelin Paige

Seriously HOT Story!!!

There are not enough superlatives in the world to tell you how much I love this trilogy! The writing is mostly fabulous, the characters are relateable and enjoyable (even the antagonists!) and Paige does not resort to the common mistake of making her hero and heroine too good nor her villains all bad. Flawed people with real personalities and good and bad character traits! Imagine that! Remarkable work for a new novelist, or for any of the current crop of New Adult authors, really, seeing as how so many fail so spectacularly at doing just that.

The books aren't flawless, of course. For instance, at one point. Alayna throws her phone on the ground and it breaks, but two pages later, she's using it again. I'm not going to say much about the teeny, tiny imperfections, though, for two reasons:

1. They're so small and insignificant as to be completely irrelevant,


2. I don't want to detract from the gushing I'm about to do.

Hudson Pierce is a hot, sexy, dominant, rich, well-built, successful captain of industry and, he claims, unable to love. Alayna Withers is a young, beautiful, relatively innocent young woman with some past legal troubles and a newly minted MBA, although she continues to work in a nightclub. Which is where she and Hudson lay eyes on one another for the first time. Or so she thinks.

Thing is, Hudson has had a history of playing head games with women, hurting them just to see what happens; he calls these little games his "experiments," and when he's had his fun, he leaves the woman. Just a rich, incredibly good looking guy messing around and breaking hearts, right? His occasional partner in this mental and emotional mayhem is Celia, a girl he's known all his life but claims never to have been involved with. Some time in counseling has helped Hudson realize that the games are a sort of addiction and he's given them up.

Alayna is a young woman looking for love, having been orphaned at a young age. She's been obsessed with the men she gets involved with and took it so far one time that the guy took out a restraining order and filed charges against her. Only her lawyer brother, Brian, and a stint in therapy kept her out of jail. Alayna's been "clean" of obsessing for a while when she meets Hudson.

The premise here isn't that new or unusual; Hudson wants Alayna to pretend to be his girlfriend so his family will stop badgering him to marry Celia. He'll pay Alayna well, buy her any clothing she needs to fit in his life, and will give her opportunities and connections in the business world that could really help her make a career.

Hudson also wants to sleep with Alayna, who is completely into the idea. He tells her up front that it's only sex, has nothing to do with the fake relationship, and warns her he won't fall in love with her.

From that point on, the story moves along well. There are some subplots having to do largely with Celia and with Hudson's family. There are secrets being kept, suspicions harbored, pain inflicted and endured. There is happiness and food and dancing. At some points, everyone's crazy comes out; there's a lovely and subtle parallel between Hudson's "experiments" as he calls them, Alayna's obsessions, and other addictions. It makes it easy to see that these two people are dealing with forces they have to work to control and that they are doing their damnedest.

I am NOT going to put any spoilers in this review. It's an evil thing to do. But let me ASSURE you that watching Hudson and Alayna and his parents and sister and Celia and Alayna's co-workers and Brian and a bunch of tertiary characters move through this storyline is a pleasure. I read through this entire trilogy in about two days. Maybe three. I stayed up until 2:00 a.m., on a work night, to finish it. The last quarter of the last book in the series had me wrecked. It made me cry, made me laugh, made my heart pound; I dreaded what I knew was coming and then I looked forward to what I thought was coming. The entire story was like that, really, but the last part was just amazing writing; not many writers can put the reader through those paces so well and so completely.

The sex in this story? Oh, my goodness! Hot doesn't even cover it. But it's good hot. There are no physically impossible positions, not one whip, flogger, or handcuff, and it's clear throughout even the wildest ride that these two people care immensely about one another. Even those who aren't normally into explicit sexual detail in their books will enjoy at least some of this, I think. And it certainly doesn't take up the whole series.

I love the way this whole thing ended, too. I thought it was a realistic, given the characters and the situation, and that it was very human. If you've ever been in love with someone who made you nuts, you'll completely understand it.

I cannot recommend this trilogy, and this author, highly enough. It's unfortunate that when I recently visited an author event in Seattle, and Paige was there, I had not read this series. If I had, I might have embarrassed her with my effusive praise and adoration. This woman has talent, ideas, and an apparent knowledge of exactly how to move her audience. I am really excited to go read everything else Laurelin Paige has ever written. Or will write. She's really good, this story is really epic, the trilogy is worth whatever you pay for it, and you are not going to regret the time you spend reading the Fixed series. Trust me on this. Click below to buy this set:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Emerald City Author Event - 6/14/14

This weekend, I shall be attending the Emerald City Author Event and meeting some of my favorite writers.

For an old lady like me, this is as exciting as the time I met the guitar player for Tesla and all of Jackyl, all rolled into one.

I will have pics and stories to tell next week, as well as a review of Sixth Grave on the Edge, by Darynda Jones (you're gonna LOVE this book!), and possibly some stuff to give away.  Maybe.  But mostly, PICS!!!!!!!  And possibly a hangover, but time will tell.

My point, folks, is that if you're in Seattle this weekend and you want to go, I actually have an extra ticket, so hit me up.  My other point: I will NOT be in Tri-Cities this weekend. That alone is reason to celebrate.

Check this spot next week for all the fun!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Charitable Causes

You will begin noticing widgets on this page, offering you the chance to participate in various charitable causes.  If you can, and want to, please donate. If not, you can still share the causes on your own Facebook page, helping the causes reach more people.

The first cause is one I can vouch for, because I'm involved in it.  I am collecting money to send these ...

to military personnel stationed in Afghanistan.  It's hot there, folks.

So, while it's not a book review, or an author recommendation, I consider charitable causes to be worth a little space on my page.  

If you would like me to add a donation button for a cause you support, please send me an email with the information.  Send it to