Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Books for a Cause: Entangled, A Paranormal Anthology

Support a great cause and read some great stories.  It's a win-win!  

All proceeds from the sale of Entangled, A Paranormal Anthology will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  

 Publisher: Authors4theCure (September 7, 2011)
Word Count: approx. 125,165


Ghosts, vampires, demons, and more! Entangled includes ten suspense-filled paranormal short stories from authors Cynthia Eden, Jennifer Estep, Edie Ramer, Lori Brighton, Michelle Diener, Misty Evans, Nancy Haddock, Liz Kreger, Dale Mayer, and Michelle Miles, plus a Seven Deadly Sins novella by Allison Brennan.

Stacia Kane contributed the foreword. Formatting and cover art were also donated to the project by Lori Devoti and Laura Morrigan.


All proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

From the press release:

Fort Worth, Texas
– Eleven authors have banded together to support breast cancer research with their writing. Authors4theCure, which includes award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors, as well as two breast cancer survivors, is donating proceeds from the sale of their paranormal anthology, Entangled, to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).

BCRF-funded research has helped save lives and improved the quality of care and rate of survival for tens of thousands of breast cancer patients in the past decade. Their research has revealed that the “cure” is a mosaic made up of as many approaches to diagnosing, treating, preventing and surviving as there are different types of breast cancer. The anthology is also a mosaic made up of many stories donated for this worthwhile cause.
 
Here are the story blurbs. They all have a Halloween theme. Word counts and links to excerpts on author websites for each story are included where I could find them.


HALLOWEEN FROST by USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Estep (author of the Mythos Academy, Elemental Assassin, and Bigtime series) — It's Halloween at Mythos Academy, but Gwen Frost and her friends are in for more tricks than treats when they run into a mythological monster intent on killing them. (6,500 words) [Read Excerpt]

THE FAT CAT by Edie Ramer (author of Cattitude, Galaxy Girls) — In a battle for the souls of seven women, a wizard has the god of war on his side; all the witch has is a fat, black cat. [Read Excerpt]

MEDIUM RARE by Nancy Haddock (author of the Oldest City Vampire trilogy) —What’s spooking the spirits of St. Augustine? As the witching hour of Halloween approaches, ghost seer Colleen Cotton must team with a by-the-book paranormal investigator to locate the one ghost who can save the city’s specters. If she fails, her own great grandfather’s spirit may be lost forever. [Read Excerpt]

SWEET DEMON by Misty Evans (author of the Witches Anonymous series) —When Chicago’s vampire king insists Kali Sweet join his empire, the vengeance demon must rely on her ex – the half-human, half-chaos demon who left her at the altar three hundred years ago – in order to escape the vamp’s clutches. [Read Excerpt]

SIAN’S SOLUTION by Dale Mayer (author of the Psychic Visions series) — When a vampire discovers the human man she loves has been captured and hung in a blood farm, she goes against her own kind and risks everything to save him.

A BIT OF BITE by Cynthia Eden (author of NEVER CRY WOLF and ANGEL OF DARKNESS) — A killer is stalking the streets of Crossroads, Mississippi, and it's up to Sheriff Ava Dushaine to stop him. But when suspicion falls on werewolf alpha Julian Kasey—Ava’s ex-lover and the man who still haunts her dreams—Ava knows that she'll either have to prove his innocence...or watch the whole town go up in flames.  (11,000 words) [Read Excerpt]

SINFULLY SWEET by Michelle Miles (author of the Coffee House series) — When Chloe bakes a little magic into her pastries, she attracts the attention of Edward, the sexy half-demon, half-witch, who’s come to warn her those who murdered her sister are now after her.

A NIGHT OF FOREVER by Lori Brighton (author of A Night of Secrets and To Seduce an Earl) — Who is Aidan Callaghan? Mary Ellen James is intent on uncovering the truth about the mysterious man, but as she soon finds out, some things are best left buried in the past.

FEEL THE MAGIC by Liz Kreger (author of the Part of Tomorrow series) — Jenna Carmichael’s magical attempt to rectify Jessica Manfield’s birth identity takes an unexpected turn when the past comes back to haunt her.

BREAKING OUT by Michelle Diener (author of the Tudor-set historical suspense novel In A Treacherous Court) — Imprisoned in a secret facility, powerful telekinetic Kelli Barrack and two other 'special' inmates grab a chance to escape, only to confront their worst nightmares on the outside.

GHOSTLY JUSTICE, an all-new Seven Deadly Sins novella by New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan (author of the Seven Deadly Sins series) — Demon hunters Moira O’Donnell and Rafe Cooper are dragged into the dangerous world of nocturnal predators to find “Ghostly Justice” for a virgin sacrificed to an ancient blood demon.
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 Get the Book!

Available in ebook format at these venues:


10% sample download in all major formats available at the Smashwords link above.

$2.99 through September and October then the price goes up so get it while the getting is good!

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Okay, now that I have stopped drooling over that freakin' awesome cover....I'm heading off to buy my own copy! Ta!
 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review: Kismet's Kiss by Cate Rowan

Kismet’s Kiss 
The Women of Kismet, Book 1
by Cate Rowan

Genre: Fantasy Romance
Word Count: approx. 116,855 (Novel) includes excerpts of other books
Publication Date:  August 26, 2010
Print length: 258 pgs
ePub length: 365 pgs
Kindle length: 8158 locations
Source: ebook provided by author






DESCRIPTION from Goodreads:
In the desert realm of Kad, a deadly epidemic strikes the palace of Sultan Kuramos. Only a magical healer from an enemy land has the skill to save his royal household, but Kuramos never imagined the healer would be a woman.

Healer Varene finds her own surprises in Kad. She expects the sultan's arrogance, but not his courage or his selfless care of the ill—or the possibility that the epidemic is the curse of a vengeful goddess.

Kuramos's culture condemns Varene's mystical talents. Her presence triggers an insurrection, yet as he and the healer toil for a cure, he loses his heart to her. She falls for him as well, but how can she relinquish her homeland and her principles—especially when he already has a harem and his family may be cursed?


MY THOUGHTS:

This story takes place in a lightly magical world that is similar to our world yet different. The imagery was wonderfully descriptive without overdoing it. It transported me to another place and time. What that time was though I am not sure. It felt like a subtle alternate world fantasy in an Arabian Nights style setting. It had scimitars and sherbet (in the desert?), palm fronds and key-hole doorways, falafels and churidars, harems and hammams. These things are real in our world and so we can relate to them in some way even though they may not all be things we are familiar with, but there are also fydds (horses), jencel-birds (a talking bird character that I loved!), and kyrra (a magical essence within someone). People also seem to live very long as in hundreds of years. These are some things unique to the story that give it an alternate world feel. There were a couple of times a word would sneak into the narrative or dialogue that felt a little too modern and jarred me out of the time and story for a second…but just a second, I got over it. :)

I wasn't sure how much I would like Kuramos as the male lead character in this fantasy romance. He is the Sultan of Kad and has a harem of six wives. He appears a little arrogant when Varene first appears in his palace but you soon see underneath that hard exterior and realize he has many admirable qualities that make him a likable character. He respects his wives and cherishes his children. He is kind to the servants and wants the best for the people of Kad. He is loyal, protective, and willing to make sacrifices, but can also be fierce when necessary.

I liked Varene from the start. She is kind, smart, and brave. She stands up to those who would dismiss her worth and healing abilities because she is a woman. She knows what she wants and she soon learns she wants Kuramos. But what of his wives? She isn’t willing to share. How could she ever compromise on that?

Both Kuramos and Varene have painful secrets they are hiding in their past, which are unraveled as the story progresses.

Though I knew this story would have an HEA...a big honking HEA as it turns out...I was still curious how it would play out. How do we go from a harem of six wives to a happily ever after for Kuramos and Varene? At the beginning of the book, Dabir, Kuramos's mentor and father figure, prophesizes that "She will come...Will you bend, or will she? Perhaps neither." and sets up part of the conflict for this romance that stuck in my head for the entire book. Who will bend? Though I sort of guessed how it would be resolved, I wasn't totally right, but I was totally satisfied with the ending.

I have to say a word about Gunjan, the jencel-bird. Jencels are talking birds but not like a parrot. I just loved this character! But then I am a sucker for a talking animal character that doesn’t seem to be channeling a Disney movie.

Rowan has weaved a wonderfully engaging and romantic story set in a magical Arabian Nights style middle-eastern setting that kept me turning the page. The smooth writing style allowed me to easily fall into the story. I was rooting for Kuramos and Varene and was eager to see how it would all be resolved. The Source of Magic, which is the prequel novel, focuses on Alvarr and Jilian who are the rulers of Teganne, Varene's homeland. We get a brief glimpse of them in this book and I'm already eager to read their story and jump back into this world.

Rating: 4 (I Really Liked It)

Typos found: 7
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This book is available in both ebook and paperback formats. You can find Cate Rowan on the web at:

Website: http://caterowan.com/
Blog: http://caterowan.com/blog
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CateRowan
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cate-Rowan-Award-Winning-Author/102272339832698
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4278042.Cate_Rowan



Get the book!
Smashwords | Amazon | B&N



Read an 11% excerpt HERE

Find it on Goodreads
HERE



Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review (Short Story): The Tingles by Melissa L. Webb



The Tingles
by Melissa L. Webb

Genres: Urban Fantasy
Word Count: approx. 1,000 (Short Story/Flash)
Publication Date: December 19, 2010
ePub Pages: 5 pgs total (3-4 pgs story text)
Source: My personal library









DESCRIPTION from Smashwords:
Meet Zane. He's got a slight problem. Who can he turn to for help? This is an excerpt from an upcoming Zane Redgrave novel.
 
MY THOUGHTS:
Very short, very cool. About 3-4 pages of story text depending on how your ereader flies. Considering the size of the story (about 1,000 words) I think the author did a great job of building the suspense so you are wondering just what the heck is going on with this guy and the tingles, and then you get a cool twist at the end. It almost felt like it was part of a larger series, so I went looking (and hoping) there was more associated with this story or maybe this was a prequel to one in the works. I wanted to read more of this world. It would be an awesome premise for a larger work. But alas, there does not seem to be anything else. I hope others have asked for more of this world, too.   Edited to Add:  As I was prepping this review for the blog, I noticed some additional notes in the description above at Smashwords that I'm pretty sure were not there when I initially wrote my review.  It looks like there is an upcoming book associated with this story....sweet!

Rating:  5 (I Loved It!)

Typos: 1-2


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This short story is available only in ebook format.  You can find Melissa L. Webb online at:



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Find it on Goodreads HERE

Get the story...it's FREE!



Thursday, September 1, 2011

Whatcha Reading? Bound to the Prince by Deborah Court


Whatcha Reading? is a feature that spotlights currently released titles. Today we have Deborah Court here to give us a closer look at her debut novel, an erotic paranormal romance titled Bound to the Prince.



Word Count: approx. 98,635
(Novel) 

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What’s the basic premise of Bound to the Prince?
Once a proud warrior, elven prince Elathan was living in exile, fallen from grace and separated from his own people. He wanted the mortal woman the moment he saw her standing on London’s Blackfriars Bridge, staring down into the darkness with unbearable pain in her eyes. This strangely compelling female also happened to have luscious curves that made his body ache with desire. Naturally, he decided to hunt the woman down, drag her to his lair and command her to become his slave of pleasure. But would her frail human body survive a night of untamed passion in the arms of a Fae?

After a devastating breakup with her fiancé, Igraine Chandler was spending her honeymoon in England all by herself, her life utterly bereft of meaning. For who could ever love a plain, slightly overweight nurse from New Jersey with nothing left but a broken heart and her lost dreams of a home and a family? But she never imagined that she would soon set out into a world beyond her wildest dreams, and help a prince reclaim his throne …

What inspired the idea for this book?
I’ve always loved elves since I first read “Lord of the Rings”, and later the graphic novel “Elfquest”, which inspired me to write and draw my own comic books. When the LOTR movies came out, I had quite a crush on Legolas and the other male elves. However, they always seemed a bit too soft and ethereal for my taste. I longed for a darker kind of elf, strong, masculine and sexual. Elves are magical creatures, living in perfect unison with nature. They are also clever and cunning, and they love to play all sort of pranks. If one of them encounters a mortal woman he desires, he’ll simply steal her from her own world. This is what happens to my human heroine, Igraine.

Who is the audience for this story?
Readers who, deep inside their heart, believe that somewhere - maybe not too far away - another world exists; a place where myths and legends come true. And women who want to have it all in one story - romance, action, mind-blowing passion, and the immortal love of a prince.

How would you define the genre for this book? Are there any underlying themes?
Jokingly, I call it “H.E.R.” - Hot Elven Romance. Actually, it’s a paranormal romance with lots of steamy scenes and a strong alpha male as the hero. Still, it’s not like urban fantasy since the story mainly takes place in the elven realms, so I guess it’s a fantasy novel, as well. You’ll find noble knights, monsters and magicians, sacrifice, betrayal and revenge. It’s a romance at heart, but I was strongly influenced by Celtic mythology and the Arthurian Legends when I created Fearann, Elathan’s kingdom.

How would you describe the heat level for this book?
Although I see Bound to the Prince as a fantasy/paranormal romance, I think it would be also right to call it erotic romance so that readers will know what to expect.

The heat level is definitely much higher than in mainstream romances; the erotic scenes are more frequent and explicit. My hero is an alpha male - after all, Elathan’s a prince who's used to be the one in command. He likes to be dominant and possessive in bed, but in a loving way. Since he's an elf, he even might use some magic to enhance his woman's pleasure. But I strongly feel that the main focus is on the love story, and there's much more going on in the elven realms than just mind-blowing passion. As the story enfolds, you'll visit beautiful places, meet mysterious creatures and see some fighting action, too.

What sets Bound to the Prince apart from other books in the genre?
Although I am not 100% sure, I think that my book is the first romance featuring an elven hero. Besides, Elathan is another sort of elf than those we know from fantasy fiction. He’s much darker, deadly beautiful and seductive. But at the same time, he has a strong sense of honor and responsibility. If he gives his heart to a woman, it will be forever. I love paranormal romances, but I didn’t want to write another story about vampires, weres or shapeshifters - there are already so many talented authors who did that. Instead, I felt that it might be the right time for something new.

Will Bound to the Prince be part of a series? If so, can you tell us more about it?
Yes. “Bound to the Prince” is the first book of my upcoming Elven Warrior Trilogy. I am currently working on the second part, which will be Calatin’s story. Calatin is an elven magician and Elathan’s friend. I introduced him in “Bound”. He’s funny and sexy, and he’s an irresistible womanizer. But at the same time, he’s loyal and honorable. Calatin is a character I fell in love with quite unexpectedly. I planned him as some sort of funny sidekick to Prince Elathan, but he turned out to be so much more.

Who did the cover art for your book?
Kimberly Killion at Hot Damn Designs, a wonderful artist and a romance writer herself. It was a pleasure working with her.

What is your favorite scene or line from Bound to the Prince?
It’s hard to decide, but I particularly like a scene where Elathan commands Igraine to wash him under a waterfall by an underground lake. It was so much fun to write. Read an excerpt of this chapter below.

If you could be one of the characters in your book, who would it be, and why?
Obviously, my heroine Igraine. At the beginning of the book, she has reached a dead end in her life, and she’s heartbroken. Then Elathan takes her to his beautiful realm of magic, and she gets all the hot elven lovin’. ;-) But Calatin is the character I fell in love with quite unexpectedly. I planned him as some sort of funny sidekick to the prince, but he turned out to be so much more.

Where can readers find your book? Is it available in ebook, print, or both?
It’s already available at Amazon.com as a Kindle ebook, and will shortly be published in print version. You can also find it in many other e-book formats on Smashwords and other large retailers.

Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
The elven language I used in this story is, though I didn’t especially mention it, Irish Gaelic. I had some help from a good friend who learned this wonderful old language from her Irish grandmother. My next blog entry will be about “How to say it in Gaelic” - teaching you the best declarations of love and the best insults, just in case you’ll encounter some handsome-as-hell sex god from Ireland or Scotland whom you want to impress. I also wove some old Irish legends into the story. Readers will find the original versions on my website if they are interested to dig deeper into the mythology.

Where can readers find you online?
You can find book excerpts, a video trailer and more on my homepage: http://www.deborahcourt.com.
My blog: http://www.deborahcourt.blogspot.com.

I always love hearing from readers, so don’t hesitate to hit the “Contact me”-button! Although it may take a few days, I’ll answer every message.


 ~~~oOo~~~

FIRST WORDS... (from Prologue)

Deep in the night, an elven prince lay by a lake, sound asleep.

Dreams wove their way into his peacefully resting mind, dreams of days long past, when he was a young knight living at his father’s court. King Bres of the Tuatha Dé Danann had attached great importance to his son’s education and insisted that Elathan was to be treated the same as any other warrior in his service, for he should not grow up to be pampered and weak. After all, Prince Elathan’s royal duty would be to defend Fearann, the lands of the Fae, and make sure that no human would ever cross the magic boundaries. 


 ~~~oOo~~~


EXCERPT from Bound to the Prince
Copyright 2011 Deborah Court

Elathan stood at the edge of the lake, waiting for Igraine to serve him. “What do you want me to do, my Lord?” she asked, still avoiding looking at his private parts.

“Don’t you filthy humans even know how to wash?” he hissed impatiently. He gestured to the ornate table. "These vials contain soaps and oils. Use them to bathe my body, slave.” The prince stepped under the waterfall, rinsing off part of the mud, but it stuck to his skin and hair. Igraine sniffed at some of the bottles, inhaling their wonderful, unknown scents. Some of them were fresh, others musky, but clearly intended for use on the gorgeous body of the male who was showering right in front of her, naked. Water droplets glistened on his skin, running down from his chest to his flat, rippling stomach and still further down, gathering at … "Why do I feel like I'm in midst of a Cool Water commercial now?" she nervously murmured, wincing when the elf threw her a glance that clearly declared her a lunatic.

Sighing, Igraine took a small green bottle containing a soapy liquid and followed the prince. Elathan stepped out of his natural shower without even looking at her. Closing his eyes, he turned his broad back to Igraine, with the unspoken order to wash him. She poured some of the aromatic soap into the palm of her hand. The mud was diluted by the water, but it still ran in dark streams over the elf’s body, down over his hips and his muscular backside, dripping over his thighs. It collected in a puddle at his feet.

Igraine’s hands trembled when she reached out to touch him. “May I …?” she said softly. “What are you waiting for?” Elathan replied. Despite the harsh words, his voice was low and hoarse. She couldn’t see the expression of his face from behind, but she noticed his rigid posture. His contempt for her was obvious.

Taking a deep breath, she fought back her tears and started with his dirty hair, lathering it with the luxurious soap. Black, muddy water ran through her fingers and down her arms. When she had worked the soap into the whole silken length, she reached up to massage his scalp. Elathan stiffened before tilting his head back so she could reach him more easily. After she had washed all the mud out of his hair, she reached out to touch his shoulders, covering his pale skin with the soap.

Elathan stiffened even more, looking like a statue of stone now. Her hands wandered to the sides of his neck to wash the dirt away, then moved down over his shoulders, rubbing him in circles. His skin was smooth and soft as velvet over his rock-hard muscles. How much she loved to touch him! No man had ever affected her so much. Just being close to him made her a weak creature, driven by the most primitive desire to mate.

Now that he couldn’t see her shamelessly staring at him, she was safe to admire his muscular back. It was built like an artist’s masterpiece. The scars marring his alabaster skin only enhanced his beauty. Without them, the sight would be too perfect for human eyes to endure. They were old, faint scars, diagonally crisscrossing all over his back. Igraine suddenly realized that the prince had been whipped, even if it had obviously happened long ago. Tears stinging in her eyes, she lightly traced the scars with her fingers while she washed his back. Although she didn't dare, she longed to touch those reminders of his torment with her lips, kissing the ancient pain away.

Continuing with his waist, she found some very nasty grime there, sticking to the prince’s skin. As she rubbed his sides to get them clean, Elathan seemed to wince. She paused, but when he said nothing, she rubbed some more. He winced again, apparently trying to escape her touch. At first she stared at his back, baffled for a moment. Maybe he didn't like her to touch him anymore. But then she understood.

The merciless, battle-hardened elven prince was ticklish.

Amazed by her discovery, she pondered about tickling him some more, but decided against it. She should not tempt her fate too much. Instead she reached around his waist and began to wash his wide chest, feeling his strong heartbeat and the heat of his skin. He was so tall that she had to press her body against his back to reach him with her arms. Moving down, she soaped his flat stomach, feeling the tense muscles under her fingertips. Elathan seemed to breathe more heavily now. For a moment, she asked herself what would happen if she dared to go even deeper, washing him … there. When she had finished and withdrew her arms, she glanced down at his butt. Heavens, this was too good to be true – so smooth, perfectly rounded and tight. She wondered if he would allow her to wash him there, too.

Suddenly a mischievous grin spread across her face. Well, even if he would kill her afterwards, this princely backside would be worth it. Now your ass is mine, Your Royal Highness, she thought. She just couldn’t help it. Then her hands touched his muscular buttocks, lathering the soap in small circles over the skin. Maybe being an elven prince's slave wasn't going to be so bad, after all. When Elathan moaned ever so softly, she couldn’t hold herself back anymore. A small giggle escaped her lips.

Strong hands grabbed her upper arms. Igraine was whirled around until she stared directly into Elathan’s furious face, his golden eyes burning with anger. Before she could move or utter a sound, he picked her up like a weightless doll and threw her into the lake.

All of this happened so quickly that she didn't even have time to hold her breath. She sank into the dark water and struggled for a moment in panic. Then she managed to reach the surface and came up, coughing and gasping for air. Bewildered, she was still wondering what had happened when Elathan was suddenly in there with her, wading through the lake and quickly rinsing off the soap from his hair and body. His pitiless grin let her know that he found her distress entertaining.

"You!" she shouted angrily, shoving against his chest with both hands. The fact that his eyes widened with surprise gave her a certain amount of satisfaction, but not enough. "Prince or not, who the hell do you think you are? First you abduct and enslave me, threatening to kill me if I don't obey your every wish and whim. You hate humans, and still you don't bother to kill me. Instead, you seem to enjoy your little game of humiliating me. Why don't you finally get it over with, elf? You incredibly arrogant, insufferable…"

He grabbed her wrists and bent her arms behind her back with a swift movement. Simultaneously, he silenced her with a hard, passionate kiss.


 
Want to sample some more?
Download a 20% excerpt at Smashwords

 

Find it on Goodreads HERE
 

You can also view a trailer for this book at Deborah's website or on YouTube



   

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I love books. I always did, since I was old enough to learn to read, and my passion for stories – funny or tragic, dark or fantastic, sad or amusing – has grown ever since. With time, I started to think about the books I had read, starting to write alternate endings or additional scenes. The step to write my own story wasn't too far from there. Over the years, I have written many short stories, fiction and articles for magazines. But the wish to write my own romance was always there, in the back of my head.

During my time at college, I was lucky enough to get a job as a translator of historical romance books. Translating made me learn a lot about the structure of a book, about good and bad writing and what the reader looks for in a good story.

With the rise of paranormal romances, I finally encountered a genre that had everything I ever wanted in a story: Love, supernatural and fantasy elements, and more passionate love scenes than in your usual romance. "Bound to the Prince" began as a small story about an elven warrior who has been living in exile for many years, hidden in underground caves beneath the world of humans. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined it to grow into a full-length romance, but here it is, and I hope you enjoy reading as much as I loved writing it.


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Deborah, thanks for coming by and telling us about your book!  I think you had me on "ticklish".  This one is going in my TBR. Kimberly did an awesome job on the cover, too.  It definitely caught my eye :)