Saturday, July 27, 2013

[Guest Post and Sizzling Summer Giveaway] Nicki Elson

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What does the tale of a virginal college co-ed who’s looking for a little experience have in common with the story of a middle-aged divorcee who’s being visited by an angel?

Er, not much other than the fact that they’re both premises dreamed up by the same author — moi. I apparently wasn’t paying much attention in Author Branding class. Could be I blew it off entirely. So…help an author out? The NA/Adult Kindle includes both titles, Three Daves and Divine Temptation, in the hopes that after reading, you’ll be able to identify common denominators and help me define my platform beyond simply Romantic Women’s Fiction.
But it’s not like I expect you to do all the work. I’ll start you off with a couple observations that might help: while elements of faith are much stronger in the angel story, obviously, they’re not entirely missing from Three Daves. Readers see little blips into Jen’s beliefs, which impact her attempts to balance being a “good girl” with the realities of coming of age. Another similarity is that the overarching theme for each of the books is, in a word, sex. The crux of Three Daves is Jen’s quest to lose her virginity while maintaining her values, and in Divine Temptation, it’s Maggie’s struggle with her growing desire for an off-limits heavenly being.

So that’s what you’ve got to work with: faith and sex. Now, go forth and enjoy!


Three Daves

As they walked through the frigid night, Jen was grateful for the scarf, not only because it kept her head warm, but because it also kept David from seeing the misery etched onto her face. How had things with Dave taken such a nasty turn? Jen burrowed her head in the scarf while David pulled up the collar on his coat.

“I gotta get a car,” he complained.

The cold weather kept conversation to a minimum, so Jen was able to torture herself by replaying the last hour in her mind. She wasn’t Gigi anymore. But wasn’t that what Dave wanted? Hadn’t he been pushing her to be bad? So why when she gave in did he suddenly seem to want nothing to do with her? Was there something else that had changed his mind about her?


“Yeah,” his muffled voice answered.

“Have you ever said anything to Dave about you and me...last year?”

“No.” His tone had an irritated edge. “That’s nobody else’s business.”

“Okay.” She believed him. Unfortunately, that meant she couldn’t blame anyone but herself for messing things up with Dave.

Divine Temptation

“Does this mean you’ll fade away and not come back at all if the ‘aura of danger’ stays away?” Maggie asked.

“I don’t know,” the angel said.

“Great. So I can lose you and Father Tom both at the same time.”
“You wouldn’t lose me. I’ve always been around and will continue to be.”
“It wouldn’t be the same. I want to see you, talk to you. Touch you.” She reached to his sides and slid her fingers between his. “I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through these last few months if you weren’t right here.”
“You’ve gotten through many tough situations without me. You’d have been fine.”
Frowning and shaking her head slowly, she curled into him, wrapping her arms around his waist and nuzzling into his chest. She didn’t want to have to get through things by herself anymore. In the quietness and the closeness, she inhaled his mildly spiced scent and noticed things she hadn’t before. “Your heart beats,” she murmured. “Fully human form…” Spreading her fingers, she traced up and down his lower back with her thumbs.
“Maggie…” he warned, and the hands he’d molded to her back stiffened. She didn’t miss the corresponding increase in his heart rate.
She stopped moving her fingers, but remained pressed to him. With fabric between them, he felt firm and solid, exactly like a man. “I know humans weren’t made to be with angels,” she said, “but humans weren’t made to travel into outer space either, and yet we still do it. We weren’t made to glide over water, but we figured out a way. Maybe you and I can figure out a way too.”
When Evan didn’t answer right away, she let her fingertips resume roving ever so cautiously along the indent of his spine. She only got halfway up before he reached his hands behind to grab hers and hold them still. “That isn’t why I’m here,” he said, though the tremor of his tone conflicted with the certainty of his words.


Writing wasn't something Nicki set out to do; it just sort of happened when she realized writing reports was by far her favorite part of her investment consulting position. She traded stock allocation and diversification for story arcs and dialogue and now weaves her creative writing time in with the other activities of her busy life with her family in the Chicago suburbs. 

Nicki writes with two goals in mind: #1 to keep the characters realistic, even when their circumstances are anything but, and #2 to make the reader feel.

Author links

Website / Twitter / Pintrest / Facebook


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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

[Review] Strength



Author: Carrie Butler

Publish Date: March 7, 2013 by Sapphire Star Publishing

Length: 389 pages

Series: Mark of Nexus #1

Rating: 4/5

Genres: Fantasy, paranormal romance

Get it here: Amazon, B&N

Goodreads summary

When college student Rena Collins finds herself nose-to-chest with the campus outcast, her rumor-laced notions are shattered. Handsome, considerate, and seemingly sane, Wallace Blake doesn’t look like he spends his nights alone, screaming and banging on the walls of his dorm room. Hell, he doesn’t look like he spends his nights alone, period.

Too curious for her own good, Rena vows to uncover the truth behind Wallace’s madman reputation--and how two seconds of contact had left her with bruises. Of course, there are a few setbacks along the way: guilt, admiration, feelings of the warm and fuzzy variety…

Not to mention the unwanted attention of Wallace’s powerful, supernaturally-gifted family.

They’re a bloodline divided by opposing ideals, two soon-to-be warring factions that live in secret among us. When Rena ends up caught in their crossfire, Wallace has no choice but to save her by using his powers. Now they’re really in trouble. With war on the horizon and Rena’s life in the balance, he needs to put some distance between them. But Rena won’t let go. If fighting is what it takes to prove her own strength and keep Wallace in her life, then that’s what she’ll do--even if it means risking a whole lot more than her heart.

My review

We start off Strength with our main character literally running face to face with Wallace Blake while visiting a friend who lives in the same dorm.

Wallace is not only an outcast but most on campus believe the rumors that he takes girls to his room at night and murders them. All this is based on the strange noises that can be heard around 8 p.m. every evening.

 Now, I won’t give away too many details because you can read the summary up above and it’s a very good summary.

I would classify this book as a paranormal romance first and a fantasy second. I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship between Wallance and Rena. It wasn’t one of those romances that makes me choke it’s so nauseating. Wallace has this innocence of sorts that I find adorable and endearing.

As for the fantasy portion of Strength. Butler did a nice job of creating something new and then explaining it in an understandable way. There’s enough mystery leftover that I can’t wait to find out more but I’m not completely confused.

I also have to stat that I really like Wallace’s grandmother and twin brother, even if he is a bit of a douchenozzle.

The writing in Strength is well done and flows nicely, especially for it being Butler’s debut novel. So it gets 4 stars from me. You can look for the sequel, Courage, to come out later this fall.

**A thanks goes to Carrie Butler and her marketing coordinator, Devyn, for hooking me up with a copy of Strength to review.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

[Review] The Dark Gifts: Birthright

The Dark Gifts: Birthright

Author: Willow Cross

Publish date: March 2, 2011, self-published

Series: The Dark Gifts #1

Rating: 4/5

Genre: Paranormal romance, fantasy

Birthright is a book that starts off with a bang. In the first chapter we meet our two main characters, Liz and Michael. Liz is at a hearing (or you could call it a trial) in front of the vampire council. We learn that in the last two days Liz has gone from a normal 24-year-old, human woman to a roided out vampire. 
The story goes a little like this: Liz met Michael while she was out with her friends at the fair and decides to go off with him for a little make out session. And who wouldn't? He's a total hottie.

Turns out, he was just looking for his next meal. I have to point out that in Birthright vampires live by a set of rules imposed by the council. In order to create a new vampire they must gain approval and it takes three bites before a human can turn. Vampires do not feed on humans more than twice because of this.

When Michael bites Liz she almost instantly turns into a vampire which makes her special. But at the same time it puts Michael in a lot of hot water for breaking the laws. 

So that brings us back to Liz, standing in front of the council, waiting for judgement. After the council members go into both their minds to find out what happened, they find them both innocent of any wrongdoing. 

Many of the other vampires are outraged. You see, Michael happens to be the council assassin. He's sent to dispatch any vampire who doesn't uphold the laws or ones that go rabid. He doesn't have a lot of fans in the vampire community because most have lost someone they cared about to his hand. 

So it's no surprise when a civil war breaks out not long after Liz is caught up to speed on vampire life. The council finds her to be an interesting specimen since humans who turn almost instantly are a thing of legend. Liz agrees to stick around and let them study her. 

Here are my thoughts on the story: It's mostly a paranormal romance with a dash of fantasy. Typically, I have this hatred towards PNR because I just feel they've been beaten to death over and over and over again. 

But this was one story I really did like. I enjoyed both Liz and Michael's characters and their romance was something even a cynic like me enjoyed. Even if it was a bit to shot-gun-wedding-esk. 

Overall the story was nicely done, a few spelling errors here and there but nothing to distract from the overall story. 

The only thing I did not like was the pace of the story. From the beginning I felt like it was a race horse right out of the starting gate and it never really slowed down. I'm a person who likes a chance to catch my breathe every now and then. 

Even with that, the characters were well done and Cross did an great job with the story building. The vampire society isn't the same one as the traditional one and it's very easy to see in your mind.  

I give Birthright a solid 4 stars and recommend it for fans of paranormal romance.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Booklovin' Blog Hop: The Pull by Brooke Morris

So today I'm not going to be doing a review. Mostly because my brain is a little fried at the moment. But I would like to say that I read The Pull by Brooke Morris a while ago when Brooke sent me a copy for review (I still plan on doing the review at a later date so make sure to check back!) and I was really impressed. This was her first book and right from the start it had me hooked with some action. This is a great fantasy/paranormal read. Brooke was kind enough to do a Q&A with me about her book and the writing process. And don't forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to read it yourself!

The Pull

Author: Brook Morris

Publication Date: April 26, 2013, self published

Genre: Fantasy

Get it here: Amazon

Goodreads summary

Raised in the World of Men, 18 year old Maggie has just discovered that she is a forbidden half-breed, a cross between fairies and demons that should have been annihilated before she was even born, before her mother could escape with her into the New World, the World of Men. She soon learns why her kind are so feared as she races to save a world she has never known yet feels intimately connected to. Will Maggie be able to save the Old World from a long dormant evil that will turn everything to ash and dust?

 Q&A with Brooke Morris

So tell us a little about yourself and what you like to do when you’re not writing? 
As the setting for my stories suggest, I love the outdoors.  Anytime I am not inside writing I am usually outside hiking or playing with Walter, my beagle.  I also recently took up rock climbing and I am very excited to be planning my first outdoor climbing trip this summer!

However, living in the PNW means we experience our fair share of rainy days, and when it is cold and wet outside I love snuggling up with hot tea and a good book.

Give us a brief description of “The Pull” your first novel:

In the beginning, the six gods created the Old World as a gift of paradise to their six races.  But as the eons pass, petty wars and seething hatred shattered the Old World into pieces, inviting in an ancient darkness that now threatens not only the Old World, but our world as well.

The Pull, is a multidimensional novel told from the perspective of the main character, Maggie, who is unexpectedly pulled from our world, the New World, into the Old World where she discovers unexpected ties to her past.  Armed with the new knowledge that she is a powerful and highly forbidden half-breed, a cross between demons and fairies, Maggie  struggles through the dying wastelands of the Old World with her ever present sass and sarcasm.  Joined by Andrew, an Old World demon, who's latent betrayal early on makes her wonder which side he's really on, they race against the looming darkness to save their worlds from ruin.  Will Maggie be able to stop the long dormant evil from turning everything to ash and dust?

What was your inspiration for this book?

The inspiration for this novel came many years ago when I woke up one morning from a particularly vivid dream and wondered what would happen if I were actually stuck in my dream one day.  The more I mulled the thought over in my mind, the more fascinated I became with all the social and emotional challenges that would come with a situation like that.  Eventually I just started writing it down.

What’s next for you?

Oprah?  A girl has to have dreams, right? Realistically though, I would say book #2.  I have started it already and it recently took a turn that even I didn't expect so I am excited to see where it goes. :-)

What’s one of the first things you remember writing?

One of the first fictional pieces I can remember writing was around 4th grade.  It was a Halloween picture book with Bob the Bat, Sue the Pumpkin, and Linda the Witch and featured the warm fuzzy message that no matter what you look like, or what your abilities are, your friends will always be there.  It was truly an epic masterpiece.  :-P

Since you are a new author. What's something you learned about the self-publish/indie process?
One of the main lessons I have learned about the indie author/self publishing world is that there is a lot of pounding the pavement...well the internet pavement anyway.  As much as every author would love to sit back and watch readers flock to their novels and admire how awesome their story is, it wont happen unless you get out there an let people know your book is here. And even then, they might not like it.

This is the aspect I find this very daunting because on the one hand it is nerve wracking - you are really putting yourself out there each time you send a book out to a reviewer or you read a review on a distributor's website.  But on the other hand it is exciting to have objective readers/reviewers discover your work and actually enjoy it.  That is really rewarding.

What author inspires you?

Daniel Quinn, the author of Ishmael (and many other works) is someone I am very inspired by. His ability to lead the reader through a complex idea by using a simple story is truly amazing.

What one interesting thing that people would be surprised to know about you?

I am a ninja.  That is a total lie, I lack any hint of stealth so I've known that career path wasn't an option for some time now.

Hmmm, I think most people would be surprised to know that I am a huge Disneyland freak and go every year with my best friend.


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