Monday, April 30, 2012

Sound of the Heart by Genevieve Graham


In Genevieve Graham's first novel, Under the Same Sky, we are left believing that Andrew's brother, Dougal MacDonnell has been killed in combat on the fields of Culloden. In the latest book, Sound of the Heart, we happily find out that is not the case, but his situation is dire. Dougal awakens after the battle hurting and bound by restraints. He, along with several other survivors of the infamous battle are taken as prisoners by the British who wish to strip them of any connection to their proud Scottish heritage Along the way he meets John Wallace , with whom he forges a friendship.

 Dougal also becomes protector to two young boys who were drummers in the war, Joseph and Aiden, after some unsavory characters on the ship attempt to violate the boys. They all journey from the awful voyage on squalid ship, to an equally foul prison camp where even their traditional plaids and bagpipes are banned they survive as well as can be expected. When John sees the camp devoid of any of his Scottish heritage, he says "So Scotland is gone." while Dougal replies to him "No John, She is only in hiding."

After a time the foursome devise of a plan to escape the prison, which goes awry when the British announce a lottery to draw between prisoners that will stand trial for war crimes and those who will be shipped to the British colonies. John Wallace gets chosen to stand trial and Dougal, Joseph and Aiden attempt escape. The only two successful during the escape are Dougal and Aiden.

Once free, the pair, who become quick friends, travel through Scotland in an attempt to steer clear of the English, while finding a new home.Finally settling in an abandoned cottage the pair make a new life with what little they can find. Things go fairly well until one day Aiden is attacked and Dougal discovers a secret Aiden had been hiding for years, Aiden is a female and her real name is Glenna. 

Yes, things become quite complicated after the discovery because as it would seem, the pair have an attraction to one another. At first they both attempt to toss aside their attraction and their feelings, but to no avail. When tragedy befalls them and they are separated once again by their enemies we find Glenna transported to America thinking Dougal dead, and Dougal once again a prisoner with a chance to go to America as part of the British military.

Will Glenna and Dougal ever be reunited? Will they still feel the same for one another after their trials and tribulations? You will have to find out when you read Sound of the Heart by Genevieve Graham! 

Once again I was drawn in immediately. Genevieve Graham brings to life Scotland and America in the 1740's. At the same time Dougal is big and gruff, he is also kind and patient. Once Glenna's true self is revealed, we find her to be self sufficient and intelligent. The pair are a wonder to follow on their journey. Just as I loved Under the Same Sky and recommended it highly, I do the same for it's sequel Sound of the Heart and I think you all will enjoy it every bit as much as I did.

Sound of the Heart is out on Tuesday, May 1st


4 Stars (Brilliant)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Stranger Next Door by Chastity Bush

All Police officer, Tess McCoy wanted to do after the murder of her partner and best friend, Dean, was take some time for herself and figure out what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. She was still mourning for her best friend when she finally meets her mysterious neighbor across the street, Jack. The handsome, Jack turns out to be a private investigator who is taking an extended vacation for the very same reason Tess is on leave from the force.

Pretty much from the first look Tess and Jack have a connection, one they attempt to ignore. When strange happenings spurn Jack's having to move into Tess' home to protect her, the two are thrown together 24 hours a day and denying that attraction becomes almost impossible. Tess believes she shouldn't get involved with the delectable P.I. and he in turn has trust issues considering he investigates cheating spouses on a daily bases.

When an attempted kidnapping forces Tess and Jack closer than she may be comfortable with, she decides to throw caution to the wind and see where it takes her. At this time, Tess finds that people who she considers family, may be involved with the Mob and Jack doesn't entirely trust that she doesn't know about the entire sordid affair.

Denial puts Tess in danger, more than she ever could have imagined where people she thought were her friends turn out to be enemies. Can Jack get to her before Tess comes to irreparable harm? You'll just have to read The Stranger Next Door to find out!

An awesome read by Chastity Bush. She is so adept with suspense that I was sucked in immediately. Her twists and turns have one thinking one way then another. I loved this story and adored the fact that Chastity didn't just have Tess and Jack jumping into the sack together at first look. The gradual build and sexual tension was so apparent, that when it finally happens, you almost hear the sound of bells ringing. I highly recommend The Stranger Next Door and anything else on Chastity Bush's bookshelf. 


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5 Stars (Hook Line and Sinker)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Weekend at Liberty States Writers Weekend in NJ

Well it's been several weeks now that this excellent event took place in Iselin, NJ on March, 17th, 2012. I have to say that it was a great time for the Book Obsessed Chicks. Larissa Ione gave a fabulous speech as the keynote speaker and we sat in on several panels with other authors. Of course our favorite part of the event was our pajama party with Larissa in our hotel room. We had such a great time that the man in the next room promptly called the front desk to complain about the noise emanating from our room. 
Thanks to Larissa for being such a good sport and joining us. Thanks to Caridad Pineiro for inviting us and making sure that we had a great time. I would definitely attend again, and I am sure my ladies will as well!

  The Lovely Larissa Ione and Myself with most delicious Crumbs cupcakes

                                               Francesca and Larissa

                                      Caridad Pineiro with me

                                            Francesca from Under the Covers Blog with Me

              Book Obsessed Chicks, Penny, Holly, Denise, Francesca and Jen

                                               Terry, Penny, Holly, Denise, Fran and Jen

                            Denise and awesome author Stephanie Julian

                                 Lovely author, Jenna Kernan and I

                                                                    Virginia Kantra

                                                                 Terry with Caridad

     Party Time! The  only newbie is Book Obsessed Chick Nina, hiding in the back

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Colorado Dawn by Kaki Warner

British-born Madeline Wallace has not seen her British Cavalry officer  husband,and Scotsman ,Angus Wallace in several years. He's gone off to fight in the British Army, leaving her in the hands of his parents. In the years that Maddie has been in Scotland and her husband has been away, she has only received three letters from him. When her parents die in an unfortunate carriage accident, Madeline returns to London to set their affairs in order and decide what she needs to do with her stagnant life since she has been utterly abandoned by the man she loved.

After some contemplation, Maddie decides to follow her dream of becoming  a photographer. When she shows her portfolio to a newspaper editor, the man sees promise immediately in the young woman's work. He swiftly offers to send her off to America to shoot the female perspective on the American West. The opportunity is too good to pass up, so Maddie, passing herself off as a Widow takes on the job of a roving photographer.

Maddie Wallace ends up in Heartbreak Creek, Colorado where she uses the town as her center while she travels in her makeshift darkroom and sleeping quarters,otherwise known as her covered wagon. Maddie luckily has an older man companion, Mr. Satterwhite to help her in her endeavors.

All  the dashingly handsome, Angus Wallace ever knew, was how to be a soldier, and he was damn good at it. When he is seriously injured, he returns back to his home to find his wife gone and life completely turned upside down. You see Angus is the third son of a Scottish Earl and when the Earl of Kirkwell and his heir die, Angus's brother Donnan becomes the Earl  hence leaving Angus in the position of Viscount Ashby, not exactly where he wanted to be. 

Angus, now called Ash by his friends as colleagues, sets out on a journey to find his elusive wife, sailing across the ocean to America seeking clues as to Madeline's whereabouts. After many moons and and much trouble, Ash finally finds his wife, who seems not so happy to see him. Ash imposes himself immediately into Maddie's new independent life, leaving the wayward couple uncertain of their futures. When Angus discovers there may be a danger to his estranged wife, the dominant male appears, throwing Maddie completely off kilter.

Will strong and independent Maddie Wallace be able to keep giving the utterly handsome, dominant and thickheaded Scot the cold shoulder? Will Lord Asbhy be able to convince his Viscountess to return with him to Scotland and take up the mantle of Earl of Kirkwell should death befall his already ill brother Donnan? These and more questions are answered in Colorado Dawn by Kaki Warner.

This book totally caught me off-guard. First of all, I had purchased it months ago and set it aside because of work. Finally, when I opened it I could not stop. Even knowing that it was the second in the Runaway Brides series, I read this before Kaki Warner's first in the series, Heartbreak Creek. Secondly, being a photographer, I was sucked in. Kaki got her facts right on that end and I give her kudos for it. Third, what an awesome story. Maddie, finally getting her due as a well-known photographer, even though at the time, the public at large doesn't realize that M Wallace is a female. Both Maddie and Ash make life-changing decisions and the way they work them through is amazing.

Maddie is no shrinking violet, and those who know me well, know I am a staunch supporter of the self sufficient female, but I am also a die hard for dominant male Angus. This book had me cheering, crying and wanting to kick some butt. Kaki Warner's description of Colorado in the late 1800's brought out the history lover in me and well as the romantic. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment.... quite eagerly in fact. Thanks Kaki Warner for such a fabulous ride in Colorado Dawn.


4 Stars (Brilliant)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jen's Review of Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward

The 10th installment in the Black Dagger Brotherhood almost needs no introduction…but for the uninitiated, a few words:
Tohrment, leader of the Brotherhood, is still distraught after the loss of his beloved mate, Wellsie and their unborn baby through an act of violence by the Lessening Society.   After almost destroying himself in his grief, he is rescued by the angel, Lassiter, and brought back to the Brotherhood to recover and, his fellow warriors and king hope, to learn to live again.   He’s not ready by any means to make a leap of faith into recovery, but soon learns that the fate of his loved ones’ souls may rely on his ability to move on.   Tohrment shares a connection with beautiful but sad female vampire, No’one.  But embracing a new love means giving up on the old…
I admit I don't think I was ready for Tohr's book. I thought I was.  We’d only been waiting for YEARS!  But when it got going, I had such a sense of wrong going through me; wrong to try to force Tohr to move on from Wellsie's death so soon and under duress.  Truly, not a huge amount of time has actually passed since the tragedy.   From a personal belief standpoint, the urge to overcome and move on arises from within, not from an outside force telling you that you must. The whole premise of Lassiter playing matchmaker between Tohr and No’one just rubbed me the wrong way.   While the writing is always amazing and poignant, I thought I'd end up a little…perturbed.

In the end, the Warden pulled through for me.  She is a master at complex, shifting plot lines, spot- on dialog and male characterization.  I feel like I know these characters so well because she brings them to life in a way that is unique and special. It's like coming home to an old friend and finding you can pick up right where you left off.  The romance between Tohr and No’one is tentative and touching at first, then hot and sweaty and all sorts of sexy.  Tohr isn’t forced, but finds his love for No’one part of the natural progression of their relationship.   It’s fraught with some heavy angst throughout though.  Be prepared to be a little pissed at Tohr for his insensitivity.  I might have liked a little more time for the two of them, but it seems that J.R. Ward has been moving away from romance centered plots as she moves more toward urban fantasy.  Not quite there, but almost.   I do miss this in the series.  The secondary plots were entertaining, some necessary and some extraneous.  While I love John and Xhex, I didn’t really feel that their continued angst was quite necessary.   The Band of Bastards, with Xcor and Throe at the helm, show their complexity as characters and I wonder, despite Xcor’s desire to overthrow the King, if they aren’t sheep in wolves’ clothing.  Layla becomes a more brazen Chosen then I would have imagined and Blay and Quinn look to have their day soon.  The last 50 pages are some of Ward’s best writing, the Fade ceremony in particular.  Any work that can provoke such raw emotion in its readers deserves to be applauded.  So, despite my initial reservations, I was more than satisfied and will be anticipating, with great pleasure, Blay and Quinn!  

Guest Blogger Jen's Take on Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Written October 2011:

I was going to resist going all fan-girly on this wonderful book, but I can't help myself! Truly one of the greatest romances I've EVER read. And I want to thank God for indie publishing, because as I've found out (even more and more, recently), that there is such unknown and rising talent out there in this world. To find it and know it for myself makes me feel insanely privileged as a reader...and lucky. 

In premise, this is a classic fairy tale: rich boy meets plain Jane, sweeping her off her feet. Anastasia, about to graduate from college and enter the world of publishing, is asked by her sick roommate to conduct an interview in her stead. The subject is one Mr. Christian Grey, 27, billionaire CEO and owner of Grey Enterprises. As he will be speaking at their commencement, the school paper wants to feature him. Ana, who fancies herself plain, clumsy and still (disappointedly) virginal, goes to interview him in Seattle. Grey is fascinated by her...and his pursuit begins. What unfolds is unlike the fairy tales we remember. Grey has appetites and desires that little Ana has never experienced the likes of...He's a Dom, and one with a VERY tortured past, despite his youth. Ana must decide if this beautiful, captivating, tortured man is a risk she wants to take. She’s not a natural submissive and Grey doesn’t do “love”. Her heart is on the line. 

Loving this book was so easy for me. It’s mesmerizing. Anna’s first person narrative shows she’s innocent, but also smart, witty, and so truthful in her emotions. As a reader, I became her, experiencing her all turmoil and confusion. Grey is one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever read (and it’s all about the characters, is it not?). He could’ve been so one-dimensional in his Dom-ness, but that would be too easy. He’s a puzzle, surprising you at every turn; predatory, but tender and oh so unbelievably hot. In his words, he’s “fifty shades of fucked-up”, so he can be quite scary, too. The level of tension that permeates the scenes could burn a city down. And yes, this is erotica, so it goes quite a bit beyond just tension . Of note, there’s a playlist for the book compiled by the author on her website. Various pieces play as background music for certain scenes. I did actually play those pieces while reading and was even more captivated. There’s everything from La Traviata to Springsteen to Sinatra; eclectic like me, so I was a happy girl. It ends on a cliffhanger, so beware. The sequel is already out, thank God. I won’t say more other than to state that a lack of experience reading BDSM should not be a turnoff. This is not a pain book. It’s not edgy. It’s about two people who don’t in any way seem to fit, trying to conquer love. 

Addendum, April 2012:

Since I've written the above review, this whole series has blown up into a phenomenon. I like that I read it before the hype. It might have colored my opinion. And while the success of this series is well deserved in my opinion, all the haters kind of make me sad...especially when it's other authors in the erotica genre. Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion. But I don't really love when authors bash other successful's smacks of jealousy. Why did THIS series rise above its indie, e-fic roots ad not other well written series? Hard to say. We all know of amazing unrecognized talent out there. And it has to be frustrating for authors that put their heart and soul into their works and don't get what they feel is their due. There are no doubt many factors why this series hit it big, not the least being the connection that readers found with the characters. I'm happy for EL James...and kind of annoyed at those who can't be happy for her.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Heartbreak Creek by Kaki Warner

Edwina Ladoux tried to keep her head above water in her home in Louisiana, but it didn't work out for her. Her parents are dead and she is left widowed after being married for a short time to her best male friend. Her ancestral home is being put up for sale for non-payment of taxes which Edwina and her half sister Prudence can no longer keep up being the sole survivors in the post Civil War South. Feeling she has no other choice, Edwina answers an advertisement in a matrimonial newspaper for a mail order bride to a widowed rancher who lives in the Colorado Rockies with his four unruly children.

Honest, hard-working widower age
thirty-three, seeks sturdy English-
speaking woman to help with
mountain ranch and four children.
Drinkers, whores and gamblers 
need not apply

What Declan Brodie didn't realize when he married Edwina by proxy was that she would arrive in Colorado with her Mulatto "traveling companion" Prudence Lincoln, and Edwina is nothing what his ad requested. The wisp of a beautiful female commences to turn his household upside down when she realizes Declan's children are in sore need of manners and education. Declan is completely dumbfounded by Edwina. He never wanted to be attracted to the Southern Belle and she in turn never wanted to have feelings for the brooding sometime Sheriff of Heartbreak Creek. Sometimes what you don't want is exactly what you need.

I am so happy I discovered Kaki Warner. What an awesome story! I loved the newlyweds knocking their stubborn heads in the beginning, eventually coming to a comfortable accord in the odd relationship. When Edwina sets rules for the family and Declan acquiesces to those rules the reader immediately feels this couple has a chance to actually make it. Edwina is no shrinking violet, although she is a fish out of water in the wilds of the Colorado Rockies, she quickly acclimates herself to Declan's surprise.

The back story with Prudence and the mixed Indian, Thomas is a welcome part of this already awesome read. I cannot wait to continue the series as Heartbreak Creek  is a welcome addition to my overflowing bookshelves and a keeper as far as I am concerned. I really loved this book.


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5 Stars (Hook Line and Sinker)

Happy Easter To All Book Obsessed Chicks Followers!


NOSTOS~The Homecoming~ by Nancy Barone Wythe

This is the first book I have read by author Nancy Barone Wythe and it won't be the last. She has such an inventive imagination, she draws you in. I love her strong characters and the link they share. I only wish that this story was longer. There is so much more that I would love to discover from all the characters involved. I highly recommend this read to all.


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4 Stars (Brilliant)

From Nancy Barone Wythe's Website:

For over a thousand years, LORD AIDAN HARTLAND OF WESTLAKE and his lover have in turn been eating each other's hearts in order to regenerate. Now he's back with his new identity- and the perpetual mission of protecting his woman and mankind from the demon Zendor that has no mate and eats human hearts at random to survive.
FBI agent ROBYN WAINRIGHT, assigned to investigate the strange deaths, is still unaware of her past, and determined to nail Westlake, with his mad tales of demons, paranormal powers and his eternal love for her. But the erotic visions she keeps having are driving her insane…PROLOGUE
Southwest England, 999 AD. Lord Westlake crouched over his flame-haired lover as she lay sprawled on their ancient bed. Her eyes were closed as she dug her nails into his dark powerful shoulders, holding her breath waiting for the Moment of Regeneration.
Torches burned around the timeless bed, casting several shadows over the brocade sheets that looked like a table seating a score of banqueters. A sumptuous banquet it would be. The scent of her young body was driving him to the limit of his demonic restraint. He stifled a shudder, mastering his own muscles back into control. Not yet.
Sensing his reserve she pulled him closer. His mouth swept over her candid flesh, tentatively licking and tasting the smooth texture of her skin that stretched like a thin veil over her pale veins. The sweet, heady, scent of her blood only a prelude to the flavor of her heart. He had always hungered for her, but this time he would prolong the pleasure of anticipation. He would wait for every luscious moment, every succulent mouthful.
She moaned, lifting her body towards him in an enticing offering and he sucked on her flesh. Not wanting to swallow the treat entirely, until his lips were swollen and her skin a deep violet.
"Take me now, Aidan." She pleaded, pulling him closer. Her emerald eyes dark with passion.
"In the name of The Regeneration," he murmured. His muscles tensed as he eased himself into her. He had a need that went deeper than human passion, a need for Immortality.
As she cried out in ecstasy he sank his teeth into her chest, his mouth greedily tearing at her flesh, layer after layer, until he reached her ribcage, truncating her bones between his steel jaws, finally able to retrieved his prize- her hot, quivering, oozing heart.