Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: Toil and Trouble by H.P. Mallory

Toil and Trouble
by H.P. Mallory

Genre:  Light Paranormal Romance
Formats available:  paperback, ebook
Publication Date: November 30, 2010
Word Count: approx. 104,780 (Novel)
Print Length: 270 pgs
Epub Pages: 281 pgs
Kindle Locations: 6252
Source: ebook provided by author

Jolie Wilkins, #2

DESCRIPTION from Goodreads:
The Underworld in civil war.
The cause? A witch who can reanimate the dead.
A sexy as sin vampire determined to claim her.
An infuriatingly handsome warlock torn between duty and love.
Who says blonds have more fun?

After defending herself against fairy magic, Jolie Wilkins wakes to find her world turned upside down—the creatures of the Underworld on the precipice of war. The Underworld is polarized in a battle of witch against witch, creature against creature, led by the villainous Bella, who would be Queen.

While Jolie has one goal in mind, to stake the vampire, Ryder, who nearly killed her, she also must choose between the affections of her warlock employer, Rand, and the mysteriously sexy vampire, Sinjin. And as if that weren’t enough to ruin a girl’s day, everything Jolie knows will be turned inside out when she’s thrust into the shock of a lifetime.

Toil and Trouble picks up right after Fire Burn & Cauldron Bubble ends.The power struggle for control of the Underworld continues and the battle between Bella's and Rand's forces is imminent.  While the politics, strategy, and preparation for the battle move forward, the love triangle between Rand, Jolie, and Sinjin continues as well.

Rand is his usual conflicted yet sexy self, but we learn a little more about why he has an approach/avoidance issue with Jolie.  Then there is Sinjin, our bad-boy vampire who also wants Jolie, but is it because he really likes her or does he have some other agenda?  Sinjin plays a much bigger role in this book and the affections of Rand and Sinjin continue to yank Jolie in two different directions for most of the book.  However, events toward the end of the book will seem to move her more in one direction than another and makes me wonder how or if this love triangle will be handled in the next book. I have to admit that Jolie's character grated on me a little at times, but I liked the romantic tension between Jolie, Rand, and Sinjin.

There is an element of time travel in this book and during this part we learn more about Rand, Sinjin, and others and get answers to some of the whys and whats of the story. We also learn more about the source of the bad feelings between Sinjin and Rand. If there were any time travel continuity issues I couldn't tell ya.... thinking about the mechanics and issues of time travel tends to give me a wee headache, so I don't worry about it and go with the flow.  :)  

Mallory has notched up the heat level in this book and the sex scenes are more explicit, though I didn't think they always flowed well--maybe even a little rushed at times--and I felt there were some inconsistencies or continuity issues. 

The beginning was a little slow but it picked up soon enough, especially when Sinjin started to get more involved in the story. (Well c''s Sinjin!)  The story kept me turning the pages and I got all the elements that I liked from the first book... a light paranormal romance with a dash of humor and snark, paranormal characters galore, and a romantic conflict but with some extra spice this time around. Since this is a series with a continuing story line that uses the same main characters in each book, I recommend reading it in order so you understand the conflicts, relationships, and history between the characters. 

Rating: 4  (I Really Liked It)

Typos Found: 14+

~~~ oOo ~~~ 

This book is available in both ebook or paperback formats. You can find H.P. Mallory on the web at:


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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Whatcha Reading? Galaxy Girls by Edie Ramer

Whatcha Reading? is a feature that spotlights currently released titles. Today we have Edie Ramer here to give us a closer look at her newest novel, Galaxy Girls. I was fortunate enough to read an advance copy of Galaxy Girls and enjoyed it so much I asked Edie to stop by and tell us more about the book.  It's not actually paranormal...really more sci-fi, but that's close enough for me :)  Without further's Edie!

Word Count: approx. 90,360

What’s the basic premise of Galaxy Girls?
Michelle, thank you so much for inviting me to your place. Here’s the short blurb:

Genetically created to be broodmares, Phyrne Galaxy and her mother, aunt and cousin escape to earth. When their freedom is threatened, they use their most potent weapon against a sexy FBI agent and two casino thugs ─ pheromones.

Six years later the now ex-FBI-agent-turned-alien-hunter finds out Phyrne has a five-year-old daughter, and that’s just the beginning of their trouble. Two Kergeron warriors are on their trail. Phyrne's calm life running the Tea & Comfort shop in Freedom, KY, is about to get shaken, stirred and screwed.

What inspired the idea for this book?
Before Galaxy Girls, I’d written a women’s fiction about four women friends. I loved that mix of strong, supportive women. But I also love writing books with paranormal elements. So I decided to combine these elements. That was almost two years ago, and I don’t remember how I came up with the plot. I do know I wanted it to be a fun book. What could be more fun than women who use pheromones as a weapon? But it’s not all fun. It has an underlying serious issue of women breaking free of tyranny.

Who is the audience for this story?
A friend suggested Galaxy Girls as a title, and I immediately thought of Gilmore Girls. It’s so appropriate. Galaxy Girls is like Gilmore Girls with an extra level of pheromones. If Lorelai Gilmore could’ve used pheromones as a weapon to protect Rory from bad guys, I’m sure she would have. So that’s my audience: readers who like Gilmore Girls and paranormal/sci fi romance with a twist.

How would you define the genre for this book?
Along with being able to use pheromones as a weapon (which can’t always be controlled), each of the four Galaxy women has a metaphysical power. Most of the story takes place in a small Kentucky town, so I originally thought it was a paranormal romance. But when I sent it to agents and editors, they told me it was sci fi romance. I like sci fi romance, so I’m happy with that.

Are there any underlying themes?
Family, friendship, and freedom. I even named the town Freedom. It felt appropriate.

What sets Galaxy Girls apart from other books in the genre?
I came at it as a hybrid book from the beginning. A paranormal with a strong quartet of women. Five if I count Birdie, the heroine’s five-year-old daughter. It feels like there are a lot of paranormals with teams of men characters and very few with women. I think a lot of readers are ready for books about Phyrne and her family members.

This doesn’t mean I shortchange the men. The hero has allies, too: a female FBI agent he’d worked with in the past; a newbie agent he’s teamed with at the Foundation, a non-government shadow agency that hunts down aliens; and the Foundation’s director, a physically and emotionally damaged man who only shows tenderness to the dogs he rescues.

And one of my favorite characters in the book is a Kergeron warrior sent to bring the Galaxy women back to Kergeron.

Will Galaxy Girls be part of a series? If so, can you tell us more about it?
Absolutely! I’m writing a long novella next. The main character is Phyrne’s aunt. She’s a precog and her visions of the future aren’t always pleasant. Out of all the Galaxy Girls, she’s the most reserved. In this book, I’m yanking her way out of her comfort zone. Her hormones, under control for many years, start acting up at inconvenient times. (As hormones often do.) She might get an unsuitable love interest... Or she might get two. Plus, a government agency, nicknamed the Freak Squad, is on the trail of the Galaxy girls, and the youngest Galaxy girl is helping another child in trouble.

When I started Galaxy Girls, I had plans to write a book for each Galaxy woman. But then I discovered there’s a male relative still in Kergeron. As I wrote about his existence, I thought, “Hmmm. Future hero?” The head of the Foundation is another interesting character who will have his own story.

Who did the cover art for your book?
Laura Morrigan. She’s done all my covers. She’s amazing!

What is your favorite scene or line from Galaxy Girls?
I love the beginning scene where Phyrne uses her pheromones to bring down the thugs waiting for them outside the casino. Then the hunky FBI agent gets into the mix, and her pheromones backfire.

Here are two lines from her encounter with the casino thugs:
Both guns trained on her, but she kept her gaze on their faces and a smile on her mouth. Not an “I’m happy with the world” smile but an “I’d like to suck your love stick until you weep with ecstasy” smile.

If you could be one of the characters in your book, who would it be, and why?
Birdie, Phyrne’s five-year-old daughter. She can levitate. What a terrific talent! And she has four wonderful women who love her and are great role models. My mother was a great role model, but she was just one woman. Four is better.

Where can readers find your book? Is it available in ebook, print, or both?
Galaxy Girls is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance and Smashwords. It should soon be available in Kobo, Sony, Apple store, and Diesel. I plan to have it available in print, but probably not until fall.

Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
Yes, thanks for asking! Along with eleven other writers ─ including several NY Times bestselling writers ─ I’m part of Authors4TheCure. This September we’ll be publishing a short story anthology, with the proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). Entangled includes twelve suspense-filled paranormal stories from authors Allison Brennan, Lori Brighton, Michelle Diener, Cynthia Eden, Jennifer Estep, Misty Evans, Nancy Haddock, Liz Kreger, Dale Mayer, Michelle Miles, Karin Tabke and me. It will be available at most digital retailers on September 1st.

Misty Evans and I are putting this together. I’ve read ten stories so far, and they’re all astounding.

Where can readers find you online?
My website

I also belong to popular grog, Magical Musings, where I can be found every other Monday. We often have giveaways.


EXCERPT from Galaxy Girls
Copyright 2011 Edie Ramer

Hawk had thought he could express the DNA sample, then stroll down the street, check out a few stores, plant a GPS tracker on the Galaxy’s car and glance at the Tea & Comfort from the sidewalk without going in. But he couldn’t. The need to see Phyrne’s face had eaten at him like a heroine addict’s need for a fix.

He stood in the tea-scented room, two feet away from her, close enough to feel her unease. It gave him a savage satisfaction. He flicked his gaze down her curvy body and back up again. Her mother and her cousin hovered on either side of her. The only one missing was Ki Galaxy. According to an earlier phone call by Nelson, Ki was grocery shopping.

It didn’t matter to Hawk whether Ki was here or not. Only Phyrne mattered to him. The others could zap away to another universe in a flying teapot, and he wouldn’t waggle his little finger to stop them.

As long as Phyrne stayed. Phyrne and her daughter.

He studied her, steeling himself not to reel forward like a fish flapping on a fishhook. Forcing himself to look for faults, he found them.

Her face was too wide to win beauty contests, her eyes too big, her nose too long, her complexion too golden, her eyes such a brilliant blue the color looked fake. Everything about her looked fake. With her golden skin and her statuesque body, she could have stepped fully clothed out of a centerfold.

But fake was the one thing he knew she wasn’t. She was more genuine and passionate than any woman he’d dated. But what they’d done hadn’t been close to dating. She’d enraptured him. Sucked the life out of him and left him passed out in the surveillance van.

Though she gazed back at him with her chin up, he saw apprehension in her eyes. The flicker of fear.

Good. He wanted her to be scared.

She blinked, then averted her gaze, glancing past him, toward the door. He felt her yearning to walk out, away from him.

His tension spiraled. He didn’t want her so scared she would run away with her daughter. Reaching out, he grasped her upper arm. She jerked, then stilled. Something flared in her eyes. Not fear this time. Anger.

Before he could inhale, the other two women stepped up to him, their eyes wide and anxious, their mouths clenched and determined.

“Take your hand off my daughter,” Liss said in a low voice.

Deena stared at his face, not saying a word. A pressure built in his head. He released Phyrne’s arm and pressed his hand against the left side of his head.

He flicked his gaze to Liss. She didn’t look like anyone’s mother. Not unless the mother was the Goddess Aphrodite.

He shifted to peer at the younger woman, the cousin. Studying her, he sealed her in his memory. Her eyes narrowed but she didn’t blink. The pressure inside his head swelled, something foreign – something alien – spiraling into his brain.

Gritting his teeth, he pushed at the pressure in his head. It remained, and he shoved harder. Get out! he shouted. Get out!

Deena’s color blanched and she reeled back. Phyrne gripped Deena’s shoulder and shared a look with her.

Neither spoke a word, but their expressions changed as if they communicated silently.
He lowered his hand, the pressure still there, but eased to a threadlike presence.

What the hell had just happened?

A chime and fresh air on his back announced a customer coming into the shop. Phyrne released Deena’s narrow shoulder and Deena turned toward the front, leaving them.

The pressure in his head left with her.

Phyrne nodded at her mother. “I can take care of this.”

Liss Galaxy frowned at him and gave him the look that said “I wouldn’t trust this man alone with you if he were legless and armless.” She sniffed, her disapproval as loud as if she’d shouted it to the town. With a hip swivel, she turned toward the husky young man glaring at their small gathering.

Hawk glanced around the room. A few couples were talking and drinking tea, nibbling on muffins, not paying them any attention. Only a redheaded woman sitting by the front window with her laptop open watched him suspiciously. Her cell phone was next to the laptop, and her hand covered it as she waited for him to make the wrong move.

Looking back at Phyrne, he said, “We need to talk. Someplace private.”

“We don’t need to do anything. I serve tea and muffins. If you want conversation with a woman, I hear there are 900 numbers for that.”

He realized he’d been prepared for seduction – realized he’d hoped for seduction – not defiance and a go-to-hell glare. Craning his head toward her, he lowered his voice, a menacing growl accompanying his menacing words.

“The casino has videos of you.”

Her breath hissed in. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I have the video. The one where you pushed me into the van.” He leaned closer, seeing flecks of gold in her blue eyes, breathing in her honeyed scent. “Don’t believe me? I can show it to you.” His whisper came out huskier than he intended. A sliver of air separated their cheeks, and he felt her tremble.

Want to sample some more?
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I’m funnier on the page than in real life. I live in southeastern Wisconsin with my husband, two dogs, and one important cat, where I write paranormal and sci fi romance about cats, ghosts, dragons, aliens, and even earth people with attitude.

After many near misses, close calls and four agents for my award-winning books, I decided to self-publish. It's one of the best things I've done. Since then, my books have been on three Kindle top ten bestselling lists, and top 100 for other categories. Galaxy Girls, Cattitude, Dead People (Haunted Hearts series, book 1), Dragon Blues and a short story, The Seventh Dimension, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and most online retailers.

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Thanks for joining us today Edie and telling us about your book! I'll be eagerly awaiting the next book in this series and the anthology sounds great!