“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Vincent Brothers

Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that I’m eagerly anticipating.

I’ve been out of the WoW world for the last few weeks due to vacations and computer problems, so forgive me if I’m posting something that you’ve seen a dozen times already. I read The Vincent Boys a few months ago, and completely and irrevocably fell in love. I love this author’s voice, and while I’m so happy The Vincent Boys ended the way it did, I was sad that Sawyer was left with nothing. Thank you Abbi Glines for giving us his story, because the good guys need their happily ever after just as much as the bad ones.

Abbi Glines

Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult (New Adult?)

He may have given her up without a fight, but Sawyer Vincent is far from over losing the girl he’s loved all of his life. Instead of giving up his best friend and the girl he thought he’d spend forever with, he gave Ashton and his brother Beau his blessing. However, adjusting to seeing Ashton wrapped up in Beau’s arms isn’t easy. Complicating everything even more, Ashton’s cousin Lana is in town for the summer. Sweet, kind, soft-spoken Lana, who gets under his skin. Just being near her makes him forget all about Ashton and his broken heart. Lana is everything he wanted Ashton to be except she isn’t Ashton. She lacks the backbone to stand up for herself and confidence that Ashton wears like a crown.

Lana McDaniel has lived her life in her cousin’s shadow. While Lana struggled with her grades no matter how hard she tried, her mother praised Ashton’s intelligence. She hadn’t been blessed with Ashton’s blond hair and flawless skin, but that didn’t keep her mother from lamenting her naturally red hair and freckles. But none of that would have mattered if Ashton hadn’t always had Sawyer Vincent wrapped around her finger — the only boy Lana wanted. Once Ashton let Sawyer go, Lana had been so sure that he’d move on. Determined to make Sawyer finally see her, she’d talked her mother into letting her spend the summer with Ashton. But Sawyer is still in love with Ashton, and Lana isn’t going to be anyone’s rebound girl. No matter how yummy Sawyer Vincent’s kisses taste.

Goodreads Summary

Somebody to Love

Kristan Higgins

Publisher: HQN Books
Publication Date: Apr 24, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Netgalley

After her father loses the family fortune in an insider-trading scheme, single mom Parker Welles is faced with some hard decisions. First order of business: go to Gideon’s Cove, Maine, to sell the only thing she now owns—a decrepit house in need of some serious flipping. When her father’s wingman, James Cahill, asks to go with her, she’s not thrilled — …even if he is fairly gorgeous and knows his way around a toolbox.

Having to fend for herself financially for the first time in her life, Parker signs on as a florist’s assistant and starts to find out who she really is. Maybe James isn’t the glib lawyer she always thought he was. And maybe the house isn’t the only thing that needs a little TLC….

Goodreads Summary

Parker Welles, a rich and beautiful single mother has just been handed the worst news of her life. Her father has not only spent every penny of Parker’s and her son’s trust fund without her knowledge, all of his assets are being seized by the government and Parker’s cushy lifestyle is now over. While she was never lavish with her wealth, she did enjoy a few creature comforts such as living in the family home, which she must now vacate immediately. The only thing Parker has left is some property a distant relation left her up in Middle-of-Nowhere, Maine. While her son goes on vacation with his father over the summer, Parker intends to travel to the house, do a few quick repairs and put it on the market as soon as possible. With limited time and limited funds, for the first time in her life Parker must get her hands dirty.

Well, maybe not as alone as she originally thought. Her father’s now unemployed attorney (AKA Thing One), James Cahill, shows up unannounced to help her with the project. Parker and James have a barely civil relationship at best, but once she sees how much work the house needs she can’t help but feel grateful for his presence. James feels guilty for his inability to warn her of her impending changes in circumstance (those pesky attorney/client privileges), and he hopes that working with her on the house will earn him a little forgiveness. The couple soon finds that they may have been a bit hasty in their initial impressions, and that the facade they’ve each put on over the years isn’t really who they are.

I need to get one thing out of the way before I head on to the actual review. Does anyone else think it’s bizarre when the author’s name is way bigger than the title of the book? Or is it just me?

I’ve read a few other Kristan Higgins’ novels in the past, with varying success. I’ve always really enjoyed the romance and the characters, but struggled with the point-of-view. Her previous books are solely told from the heroine’s perspective, and I came away from the book feeling cheated. I desperately wanted some insight into the hero’s thoughts/mind/actions, but it was never provided. It felt too one-sided for me. After all, a romance takes two people right? An author needs to have some major talent in order to pull off a romance novel with one point-of-view. In my opinion, at least. However, the author branched out with this novel and it was told from both Parker’s and James’ perspective. Hallelujah! This huge change so much better than her writing style of the past. Kristan Higgins could always tell a wonderful and heartfelt romance, but now we have a fuller picture to enjoy.

Somebody to Love takes place in the same town that Catch of the Day is set in, so if you’ve read it the setting and characters will be familiar to you. It just so happens that Catch of the Day is one of her books I haven’t read, but this is very much Parker and James’ story and I never once felt like I was the only one late to the party. I loved the small town vibe of this book, and the unique people of the town. Parker and James imersed themselves in the community, and the quirky and weird personalities were exactly what they needed to distract, heal, forgive, and learn to forget the past.

I loved both Parker and James, and really believed in their story. I’ve always admired Kristan Higgin’s ability of making her characters deeper than what you would originally expect from a contemporary romance novel. It’s almost like she’s creating her characters from real life people. I enjoyed learning the little tidbits and treasures that made them who they were.

My Summary: Somebody to Love is definitely my favorite book I’ve read from this author. While most of that praise is due to the change in writing style, Kristan Higgin’s consistently delivers powerful characters and a love story that you will remember long after the last page. Want to know one of my favorite things about the book? It has an epilogue. Oh, how I love my epilogues. 😉

My Rating: A

Winner!

So, I know I’m only a week late on this, but I wanted to announce the winner for the Fire Spirits giveaway I had last week. I sincerely apologize it took so long to get this, but sometimes that pesky real life gets in the way. 😉

Congrats to pirateevanrock for being the lucky winner! I’ll be contacting you shortly to make arrangements.

Thanks to all who entered!

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)

R.L. LaFevers

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Historical
Source: Publisher

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Goodreads Summary

Ismae was plucked right out of her wedding night (which wasn’t going well, as her hubs was a total dirtbag), and shuffled through R.L. LaFevers version of the Underground Railroad. Ismae is taken to a convent specifically set aside to train young girls to be Handmaidens of Death. Or in layman’s terms: assassins. Ismae spends the next few years training herself in all manner of weapons, poisons and the art of womanly wiles. Ismae is finally deemed worthy to be sent on her first mission, which she successfully completes. However, just after she offed her mark, she runs into Gabriel Duval who is a bit livid that she’s killed his informant. It’s this very first mission where Ismae starts to doubt the Abbey, the Abbess and how to decide who needs to be killed. Ismae is dismayed that she quite possibly killed a man who was trying to redeem himself.

Brittany is in political turmoil, and as the bastard brother of the Duchess, he is embroiled right in the middle of it. Ismae’s next mission requires her to pair up with Duval, where he thinks she is being sent to protect the Duchess and find out who wants her dead. Her real mission is so spy on Duval, as the Abbess and the Abbey’s benefactor Chancellor Crunard are convinced that Duval is a traitor. As Ismae adjusts to court life and intrigue, she soon realizes that there is more to being a Handmaiden of Death than blankly following orders, and that those marked for death can redeem themselves. She also realizes that Duval is simply a man who wants to protect his sister and the future of his country. Ismae and Duval begin to rely on and trust each other, and Ismae is suddenly faced with the prospect of having to choose between the man she loves and the ideals instilled in her by the Abbey, the institution that saved her life. When the political turmoil comes to a head, Ismae and Duval have only each other to turn to in order to save their beloved country from war.

I posted this on a WoW awhile ago, and I was ecstatic when I heard we received a copy from the publisher for review. I LOVED Grave Mercy. I thoroughly enjoyed the history and rich descriptions of the character’s surroundings and way of life. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a historical novel that was non-Regency, and I missed the genre. I jumped right into the world of Grave Mercy easily, and I had no problem with keeping the characters and their names straight. It also helped that there was a map of Britanny, plus a character glossery telling me who everyone was. Gotta love those helpful authors.

Ismae is such a wonderful character. I loved her progression and growth from a young girl beat down by life, to one who knows her strength and isn’t afraid to follow her heart. Duval was fiercely loyal, and the kind of man every woman dreams they could find in real life. I loved watching their relationship unfold. It was slow and meandering as they overcame inital distrust to finally realizing they make the perfect team. They both loved the young Duchess (she was 12, can you believe it?!), and only wanted her happiness and safety. I quickly figured out who the real enemy was, but it didn’t detract from the story at all. In fact, even though I knew the essentials of what would happen, I was still shocked and surprised at how two-faced the traitor really was.

My Summary: Grave Mercy is utterly beautiful and can’t be missed. Powerfully written characters, a fascinating storyline and a sweet and poignant love story all come together to make what I consider a masterpiece. This book is the first in a series, and from what I understand, the other two books are going to be about Ismae’s two friends from the convent, Sybella and Annith with Sybella’s book next. I hope we see more of Ismae and Duval in the following books, but I was satisfied enough with the ending that I’ll be okay if they don’t make an appearance.

My Rating: A+

Indie Friday: Samantha Young

Welcome to April’s Indie Friday event!

This month Barbara and I are so pleased to have one of our favorite authors visiting, Samantha Young. My journey with her books started with Slumber, and the moment I finished, I immediately bought and read every book she’s ever written. I enjoyed every last word. Her Fire Spirits series is my favorite so far, and and I couldn’t be more excited to have her here!

Samantha Young is a 25 year old writer who resides in her home county of Stirlingshire, Scotland. She is a self-proclaimed book addict and kindle junkie, using fantasy, dystopian, sci-fi and paranormal novels to feed her addiction.

After graduating from the University of Edinburgh with a degree in ancient and medieval history, Samantha returned to her main passion, writing, and often incorporates history and mythology into her novels.

Samantha’s first release, The Tale of Lunarmorte trilogy, was followed by a second series titled Warriors of Ankh. At present, she is a full-time writer working on a number of projects for near future release. She is the author of nine novels and one novella. Her young adult paranormal series’ are Amazon bestselling novels.

THE RULES OF ATTRACTION

Chemistry between your hero and heroine is extremely important. As an avid reader, who enjoys a good romantic subplot, I know I tend to give up on a book if I feel a lack of connection to the characters and between the characters, because there is nothing quite like an epic romance in a book.

As I say, I read a lot, so narrowing down favourite literary couples is tricky, but a few do spring to mind. Rose Hathaway and Dimitri Belikov from Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. We’re talking forbidden love, lost love, found love, lost love again… it’s epic! The chemistry builds up nicely between them through tension during their training sessions and from there escalates into an explosive love story that is hard to beat in the YA genre. Another particular favourite of mine is Tris and Four from Divergent. Their romance is a quiet, slowly creeping, ‘you get me more than anyone will ever get me’ kind of love, and the writing between them from Veronica Roth is just deliciously brilliant. I can’t wait to see how their connection develops in book two. And finally I adore the love story between Meghan and Ash in Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series. The chemistry between them is electric and fragile because this is the case of two opposites attracting. Ash’s character drives this love story, his fight within himself to stay distant from Meghan — someone he shouldn’t love and doesn’t want to because he’s already lost in love before. It’s butterfly-inducingly good!

As an author I love threading a great love story into my novels. There’s nothing quite as fun as building chemistry between two characters and letting the sparks fly — I spend half my time writing with a big mischievous grin on my face, knowing a certain scene will make my readers happy or frustrate the hell out of them! :-p

It’s difficult to create chemistry between characters if you don’t take the time to feel out their mannerisms or personalities. It’s the little things that tell a reader a character is truly attracted to another. In real life when you have a crush or feel deeply for someone, you notice things about them that other people don’t i.e. chewing a thumbnail when they’re nervous, a certain look in their eye when they’re trying not to laugh. You notice if they change their cologne or perfume, or notice the fact that when they wear red it means they’re in a good mood that day. You watch them, you study them, their hands, their mouth, their eyes, and the room literally blurs around you when they’re with you — your heart pounds whenever they stand too close to you. These are all the things I have to describe as happening to my characters if I want my reader to believe there is true attraction and chemistry between them. If a character begins to note the minute detail of another it should be a clear signal to the reader that an attraction is developing.

Deciding whether that chemistry can become more is all in the couple’s history and personality. For example, take Ari and Jai from Fire Spirits. Despite Ari’s many disappointments from the men in her life, she wears her heart on her sleeve. If she likes you, she can’t hide it. She doesn’t want to hide it. And even when her brain tells her she should run and put up a wall of defense, Ari’s heart tends to win in the end. As a character, Ari is extremely lonely. She has no real family support and she’s a pawn with no idea who to trust. Jai is similar in that he has no real family support either, and only one true friend. But Jai has never felt lonely because of his purpose in life. Where Ari has run from responsibility, Jai revels in it. As a guardian Jinn, he takes his job protecting people very seriously. It’s his life and his reputation. He has no time for the kind of connections Ari is looking for. However, Jai has never met a girl as openly kind and loyal as Ari, or one who doesn’t take his crap just because he’s ‘pretty’. Ari’s complex mix of strength and vulnerability are a lure for someone with Jai’s protective instincts, and Jai’s power and steadfastness is a lure for someone with Ari’s broken and unstable life. Together they are a couple whose attraction makes sense because they each have found something in the other that no one else can give them. However, they have enough differences in their outlooks to make for a realistic push and pull between them. And of course there are outside complications in their lives to make for a dramatic and hopefully epic love story.

GIVEAWAY

One lucky winner:

-One copy each of Smokeless Fire and Scorched Skies (e-book copies)
-International – books will be gifted through Amazon
-Giveaway will end Thurs, Apr 12 at 11:59pm and winner will be announced Fri, Apr 13. That gives y’all a week.
-To enter: leave a comment on this post, with your e-mail address

Please note: Books will be sent from the US and if you’re outside the country, and the books aren’t available where you are you may need to contact Amazon support to have the title converted into credit.

Good luck y’all!

Find Samantha Young:

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Scorched Skies (Fire Spirits #2)

Samantha Young

Purchase: Amazon or B&N
Publication Date: Mar 16, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Purchased

FEAR THE HEAT…

The White King has crossed the line, sounded the horn, sent out the wolves.

When blood is shed and life is lost the reality of Ari’s position as both hunter and prey finally sets in. It seems her father will stop at nothing to force her will to his own and distracted by Charlie’s latest mistake and her seemingly misguided attraction to Jai, Ari never thought to fear anyone else but the Jinn King.

Blindsided and attacked, Ari learns a new wolf has joined the hunt. A dark sorcerer believes he knows a way to bleed the power of the Seal and wield it as his own, and he is even less patient than The White King.

The War for the Seal has only just begun… and it’s time for Ari to turn it on its head.

It’s time for Ari to stop acting like the hunted.

It’s time for Ari to become the hunter.

Goodreads Summary

Five Reasons Why You Should Read Scorched Skies:

1. Jai – You sexy, sexy man

Because life is all about hot guys, right? Right. Jai is definitely at the top of my favorites list of hunky heroes. He’s Jinn, powerful and all about protecting Ari. You can’t help but fall in love with his wounded side, which stems from a tragic childhood spent with his messed up family. In Smokeless Fire, Jai was a bit of a mystery and while I fell in lust with him there, it wasn’t until Scorched Skies that I truly understood how amazing Jai really is. When Ari’s enemies get a little bit too close for comfort and she needs to flee, Jai takes her to his family’s home in California to hide out for a while and regroup. We are able to get a glimpse into Jai’s past and his horrible family, and it’s awful and I cried and I wanted to take kid-Jai away and protect him from everyone who treated him so terribly. Only a truly strong person can overcome what he did and come out okay on the other side. Oh Jai, you sexy, sexy man.

2. The ballsy heroine

Ari spent a lot of time in Smokeless Fire waiting around for things to happen to her. Mostly because she’d been hit with a bomb shell and her whole life is turned upside down. Ari now has to learn how to use these powers she never knew she had, all while fighting those pesky bad guys who won’t leave her alone. Ari flipped the switch in this book, and instead of waiting for things to happen, she went out and MADE them happen. She didn’t let Jai and Charlie coddle her, and she worked her butt off to learn everything she could so that she could defend herself against whatever came her way. I loved her development in this book, and how she took everything that happened to her (the beginning broke my heart! SOB), and owned it. Ari used her loneliness and heartache to become a girl I’m proud of. A girl I can cheer for. A girl I would desperately want as my best friend if she were real.

3. Love triangle shenanigans

What a tough choice for Ari. There’s sexy Jai who sets her blood on fire by his mere presence, but wants nothing more than a client/guardian relationship. Or Charlie, the guy she’s loved for years, but who turned to drugs and sex instead of her when his brother died. Charlie, who went behind her back and chose to become a sorcerer even though he knew Ari would hate it. Each guy wants something else, whether it’s to maintain his professional reputation or to have revenge on the Jinn who killed his little brother. Ari wants someone to want her first, before anything or anyone else. All of this relationship turmoil helped Ari to focus on learning how to use her powers so that she could take care of herself.  She does make a choice, but my lips are sealed on who it is and how everything works out. Y’all have to do some work yourself. 😀

4. Gott love the Jinn, baby

One of the things I love most about this series is that it’s completely different from anything else out there. While I love books based on vampire or werewolf lore, sometimes I need a break. I love being able to escape into the world of the Jinn and all their genie glory. Seriously, every time Ari’s creepy father pops into the story I envision Mr. Clean. Or Yul Brynner in The King and I. The old version, not the one with Jodi Foster (which is called Anna and the King). Did I just age myself?

Anyway.

The magic and fantasy in this series is unique, and Samantha Young has an amazing ability of sucking me into the world of her characters. I can’t wait to read Borrowed Ember, which comes out May/June-ish. Speaking of which, have you seen the gorgeous cover for Borrowed Ember? The model she picked for Jai is freakin’ hot! If his gorgeous body face isn’t enough to make you read the series, I don’t know what is.

5. Because I said so

Ha. Just kiddin’ on that last one.

Maybe.