Sunday, March 24, 2013

Breathing His Air by Debra Kayn

Breathing His Air_cvr
(This book was sent to me by the author for consideration.)

Blurb from the Author's Website:

She is love advice in a coffee shack, he's protection in a biker bar. When her past meets his present it's a killer cocktail that might get them shot, stabbed or otherwise dead.
TORI BALDWIN spends all her time traveling the states, running a mobile Coffee Shack and handing out love advice with every cup. She’s staked her rig in the parking lot of Cactus Cove—a local biker bar by all appearances— and plans to stay put for three months. Just long enough to make some money, without making any friends, before she moves to her next destination as she tries to stay ahead of a painful past.
RAIN BROOKSHIRE is the leader of the Bantorus motorcycle club, and owner of the Cactus Cove in the small town of Pitnam, Washington. He wants the Lagsturns, a rival-bad-news motorcycle club, to leave town before they infect his town with trouble.
With bullets flying and the Lagsturns putting on the pressure, the only way to keep Tori safe—since she refuses to leave town—is for Rain to claim her as his woman. She has no idea that Rain’s played his hand for all to see in the biker world. It doesn't help that Tori exhibits the three ideal classifications of his ideal woman—Classy, Sexy, and a total Goof— and he can't help but posture and lay down the law. But, when it appears Tori’s life is in danger, and the Lagsturns are innocent, he isn’t going to let the law stop him from keeping his woman safe.

Review:   Breathing His Air marks a first for me - my first biker romance book!  The action starts right away as Tori, a 24 year old mobile coffee shop owner just arrived for a 3 month shift, is harassed by a badass biker gang as soon as she steps out of her coffee trailer.  Things are starting to look pretty darn scary for her when Rain, lead biker of the local (nice guy) club and alpha male supreme steps in and literally carries her away to safety.  In order to protect the silly and naive Tori, who refuses to leave town, from the unwanted attentions of the visiting (and nasty) biker gang, Rain claims Tori as his woman (also known as "stamping" her) in order to mark her as untouchable by all bikers.  She, of course, refuses to be considered "his woman" and constantly refuses this status, all the while prancing around the local bar in short-shorts, high heels and sucking on her grape lollipops.  Hard to believe nobody takes her seriously, right?
Rain is the classic alpha-male, powerful, handsome and completely dominant, both in town and his interpersonal relationships with his employees, and fellow bikers.  However, his alpha-maleness reaches new heights when he doesn't allow Tori to go anywhere without an escort.  She is pretty much a bird in a gilded cage.  And for a girl who has lived the last 6+ years as a gypsy with her mobile coffee trailer, she does not take kindly to the heavy-handed approach.  Rain finds the lovely and sweet Tori to be incredibly sexy, classy and completely whacked - which also happens to be his three requirements for the perfect woman.  Naturally they are both very attracted to each other. 

While Rain is preoccupied with keeping Tori safe, running his various businesses, and keeping the peace with the rival biker gang in town, Tori is charming all the locals with her sweet ways.  She makes friends out of every stranger she meets, with one exception.  Somebody wants Tori out of the way, and burns her cabin down to send her the message.  Is it the bad-guy biker, or Rain's conniving and vicious ex-lover?  Or someone else entirely?  Either way, Rain protects what is his, and Tori is his, so off they go to his mansion in the woods.  Pretty soon their relationship heats up and we finally learn about Tori's horrific past. 

What saved Rain and Tori from being frustrating, extreme stereotypes as characters was how much they struggled to see the other's side of things.  Both really stepped out of their comfort zones in order to meet the other half way, and the author did a great job in slowly building the relationship and building the personalities of Rain and Tori, creating depth and shading to their characters. 

In many ways this is a classic romance.  Tori is the sweet, young, ingenue who is in way over her pretty little head.  She has a heart of gold, a Barbie-like body, is nearly a virgin, and has a painful past that causes her to go catatonic when she sees a gun.  Rain is older, wealthy, sexually experienced and determined to protect Tori while also wanting to get into her pants.  He is arrogant, patronizing and aggressive, and constantly calls Tori his woman.  If Barbara Cartland was into sex and bikers, this would be one of her classics!  And I mean that as the ultimate compliment, because one of the things I love about romance novels is the formula:  the hero is big and strong, the heroine is sweet and kind and there is a happy-ever-after.  If I wanted reality I'd watch the news.  I want romance.  And Debra Kayn delivers in a delightfully fresh package! 

Breathing His Air will be released on April 22.

For more information visit the author's website at

Chantilly's Cowboy Wildly Florentine's Hero Resurrecting Charlie's Girl Where There's Smoke

Monday, March 18, 2013

Secondhand Spirits (Witchcraft Mystery Series #1) by Juliet Blackwell

Secondhand Spirits (Witchcraft Mystery Series #1)
(I purchased this book.)

Back of the Book Blurb:  
Love the vintage- not the ghosts
Lily Ivory feels that she can finally fit in somewhere and conceal her "witchiness" in San Francisco. It's there that she opens her vintage clothing shop, outfitting customers both spiritually and stylistically.
Just when things seem normal, a client is murdered and children start disappearing from the Bay Area. Lily has a good idea that some bad phantoms are behind it. Can she keep her identity secret, or will her witchy ways be forced out of the closet as she attempts to stop the phantom?


This was a charming cozy-style mystery about a witch who has recently moved to San Francisco. Lily is a powerful witch who has decided to end her world-wandering days and make a home in San Francisco.  She has been running from herself and her grandmother and her heritage for years, and feels like this city is a place where she can both fit in and blend in.  Opening a vintage clothing shop is the perfect career solution, because she has a vast collection of vintage clothes she has been gathering for years, and her witchy ability to sense the vibrations and energies given off by the clothing allows her to perfectly match customers with outfits.  As her business begins to take off, and Lily starts to create a little family by renting space in her store to an herbalist/Wiccan, and hiring a young woman with amazing contacts in the elderly community (think of the closets!!), her witch side is formally recognized in the person of Aidan, the mysterious head witch of San Francisco.  Aidan also gifts Lily with a familiar, a present she neither wants nor needs.  But the little guy is there to stay, and Lily can't be sure if he's going to be helpful or act as a spy for Aidan.  Unfamiliar with the political structure of the witch community, and unwilling to contact her grandmother for advice, Lily is stuck trying to find her way through all these new ties she is creating by settling down.
Lily is an interesting, well-developed heroine.  She has a past that not only haunts her but caused her to run around the world to avoid it.  Yet she is brave and stubborn and has a strong sense of doing what is right.  Staying in one place and opening a business is a huge step, and indicative of the fact that she is ready for a change.  But change comes in many forms, and before she knows it she is up to her eyebrows in the mystery of disappearing local children.  After spending one evening with a charming old lady who has a cellar full of classic clothing, Lily is suddenly front and center of a murder investigation when the same woman is found dead.  Add in a detective who believes Lily is more than she appears, and a sexy ghost-busting investigative journalist named Max, and the suspiciously mysterious and powerful Aidan, and Lily is overwhelmed but determined to help solve a murder and save the children.
A solid mystery, a potential love triangle, great girlfriends and comic relief in the form of a familiar, makes me very happy to have found this book, which is the first of a series!

Check out the author's website at  She is the author of several mystery series.

A Cast-Off Coven (Witchcraft Mystery Series #2) Hexes and Hemlines (Witchcraft Mystery Series #3) In a Witch's Wardrobe (Witchcraft Mystery Series #4) If Walls Could Talk (Haunted Home Renovation Series #1) Dead Bolt (Haunted Home Renovation Series #2) Feint of Art:: An Annie Kincaid Mystery

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Cards of Life and Death by Colleen Gleason

The Cards of Life and Death
(I purchased this book.)
Back of the Book Blurb:
From international bestselling author Colleen Gleason comes a small-town summer romance spiced up with moonlit boat rides, handsome neighbors, and a haunted deck of Tarot cards....
Diana Iverson is a sharp, up and coming malpractice attorney with a logical, scientific mind and a handsome fiance--until the rug is pulled out from under her feet and her life is upended.
When her crazy Aunt Belinda dies, leaving her a big old house in Maine along with a box of Tarot cards, Diana takes the opportunity for a summer get-away away from the rat-race of Boston and the painful memories there.
She doesn't expect to meet up with Ethan Tannock, the handsome neighbor next door who seems to be some sort of eccentric ghost-buster--along with his big, black Labrador Retriever.
But when the old house becomes the scene of vandalism and a number of break-ins, and it begins to appear as if Aunt Belinda's death was not as it seemed, Diana finds that life isn't always black and white and filled with logic.
And then there are Aunt Belinda's Tarot cards...which seem to be trying to tell her something from beyond the grave....

This is one of those books that keeps you reading late into the night while snuggled in bed.  It's intense and mysterious, with a story chock-full of romance, the paranormal and an unseen menace.
Diana is is a woman trapped by her own good fortune (be careful what you wish for!) when we meet her - she is a driven workaholic who seems to have traded her soul for the chance to defend a sleazy doctor and colleague of her fiance, in order to make a name for herself.  After working 70+hour weeks to defend this jerk, she wins the case and feels like she can escape, when she learns that he has another one and both he and her jerk of a fiance expect her to kill herself defending the doctor again.  But Diana sees a chance for a brief escape when news of her Aunt Belinda's death and her inheritance arrives.  She heads up to Maine and quickly learns that her aunt's hunky neighbor Ethan had a close relationship with Belinda.
Diana is suspicious, prickly and priggish - really, she's a hard gal to like.  But as she starts to go through her aunt's beautiful old home, Diana begins to loosen her tightly wrapped self.  Turns out she had spent a very happy summer with Belinda as a teen, before her snobbish mother cut all ties with her sister.  Diana has had no contact with Belinda since that summer, and feels guilty over not making an effort to reconnect, and starts to remember some of the strange events of that summer.  Because Belinda had some talents - she knew things and the people in town trusted her.  And Belinda has left Diana a Tarot deck, which seems to act as a doorway to Diana's latent psychic talent.
As Diana starts to find clues and realizes that Belinda's death may not have been an accident, she is suspicious of everyone, and pretty soon scary things start to happen.  Burned out by her legal practice, unsure of who to trust, not knowing what really happened to Belinda and why, and both terrified and intrigued by her burgeoning psychic talent, Diana decides to stay in Maine. 
The writing is clean, the characters are complex and realistic, and the action propels the story along with lots of action and scary stuff.  The mystery was a good one, the paranormal elements were a really nice compliment to the solid mystery, and it was the perfect book to curl up with at night.

For more information check out the author's website at

A Whisper of Rosemary The Vampire Dimitri (Regency Draculia Series #2) Rises the Night (Gardella Vampire Chronicles Series #2) A Lily on the Heath The Bleeding Dusk (Gardella Vampire Chronicles Series #3)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Blood Rush (Book Two of the Demimonde) by Ash Krafton

Blood Rush (Demimonde #2)

Back of the Book Blurb:
Sophie doesn't believe in happily ever after. These days, she'd settle for alive after sunrise.
Advice columnist and newly-appointed oracle to the demivampire, Sophie Galen has more issues than a Cosmo collection: a new mentor with a mean streak, a werewolf stalker she can't shake, and a relationship with her ex's family that redefines the term complicated. And then there's her ex himself, who is more interested in playing leader of the vampire pack than in his own salvation.
Becoming a better oracle is tough enough, but when Sophie encounters a deadly enemy - one she never dreamed of facing - it will take everything she's ever learned in order to survive.

Review:  Wow!  This book sucked me in right from the beginning.  This is a confident writer with a clear vision of the world created in Bleeding Hearts, the first book in the Demimonde series.  Blood Rush picks up right where the first book ended, with Sophie recovering from her near-death after her lover is driven mad with blood-lust.  As she slowly recovers, she realizes that Marek has no intention of coming near her again, and that he is no longer the man she knew and loved.  But picking up the pieces of her life is harder than it should be, because she is still the Sophia, an empathic Oracle of wisdom and emotional comfort to the DemiVampires.  Grieving, physically recovering, and trying to pay the rent, Sophie is also being stalked by a Were and spends her afternoons running out of her office building to evade her hunters.  She moves constantly and is nearing her limit when Marek's brother Rodrian suddenly pops back into her life with a too-good-to-be-true offer:  Marek's country mansion is now Sophie's.  The catch?  Rodrian's daughter Shiloh will live there too, and Sophie will help keep an eye on the bubbly teenager.  Sophie is suspicious, but also desperate for some stability and contact.
Pretty soon she and Rodrian are acknowledging their attraction to each other and flirting while pretending nothing is happening.  After all, Sophie still loves Marek and Rodrian worships his older brother.  The progression of their relationship is awkward, sexy, and uncomfortable - in other words very believable given the circumstances.
During Sophie's recovery she has become best friends with Dahlia, one of the DV and soon she adopts another stray named Toby.  Little by little Sophie is making a family for herself even as she mourns the loss of Jared, Marek and her dreams for the future.  Things look even brighter when Sophie is contacted by an experienced European Sophia who offers to train Sophie as an Oracle.  Sophie jumps at the chance, and even though Eirene and her sidekick Dorcas are arrogant, condescending and rude, Sophie's power grows quickly under the tutelage.  She is soon able to protect herself against the DV's compulsions - and about time, too!  I mean she's their Oracle, but they yank her around like a puppet.  Sophie's not an ass-kicking heroine but at least now she can defend herself.
One of the frustrating parts for me is that Sophie is still willfully ignorant about much of the DV world she now lives in.  When Pontian or Rodrian hints at their age or history, she immediately changes the subject, claiming she is too freaked out. Wouldn't you want to know as much as possible, being the weak, helpless food source surrounded by predators?  Sophie has the survival instincts of a sofa for the most part, but she survives anyway due to her stubborness, her tenacity, and her faith - and lots of luck.  But that is also part of her charm as the heroine - in many ways she is a very traditional old-school, romance heroine.  She is gentle and kind, her empathic and compassionate skills slowly soothing the savage alpha-male beasts surrounding her while she befriends and charms the other women - classic!
Blood Rush also gives us some intriguing little windows into the DV world Krafton has created.  There is a brief mention of the DV Special Ops at a rock concert attended by DV and Weres, which I think could be a whole new book right there.  We learn a bit more about the prejudices and bitter hatred of the two races, and we have some great new characters.  
 Fast paced, well-written, with a very satisfying blend of realistic romantic entanglements, intrigue, betrayals and some great surprises, I loved this book.

 Blood Rush will be released on May 14, 2013 by Pink Narcissus Press.

Wolf's Bane (Book Three of the Demimonde) will be released 2014.

Disclaimer - The author sent me this book in exchange for my honest review.

For more information check out the author's website at:

Blind Alleys: A Collection of Dead Ends  Doorways: Three Tales of No Going Back  Bleeding Hearts: Book One of the Demimonde

Monday, March 4, 2013

Bleeding Hearts (Book One of the Demimonde) by Ash Krafton

Bleeding Hearts: Book One of the Demimonde

Back of the Book Blurb:  Sophie Galen is an advice columnist who is saving the world - one damned person at a time.
Shy and sensitive Sophie has all but given up on love until she meets Marek, a mysterious stranger who seduces her with his striking good looks and his take-charge attitude. Yet the darkness she senses within him may be more than she is prepared to handle when Marek draws her into a world of vampires, werewolves, and treachery. Forced to leave behind the comfortable routines and certainties of her past, Sophie makes unbearable sacrifices and uncovers hidden truths about herself and the world around her.

Sophie is an advice columnist for a city paper, and she lives a life behind the scenes, both figuratively and literally, existing in a habitual haze of solitude, visiting museums and spending her evenings in her apartment with her cat.  A former nurse, she has switched careers after her nursing job became focused on profit rather than care.  She is also extremely intuitive, and this has aided her in making her life choices and enabled her to avoid almost all emotional risks.
One of the things I loved about this book was how the beginning unfolded (much like the movie The Wizard of Oz), switching from black-and-white to sudden color to symbolize the heroine's drab, dull existence changing to an exciting, vibrant life.  Although the first 50 pages or so were intriguing enough to keep me reading, the slow pace had me worried. This black and white beginning of the book felt slightly vague - I didn't have a sense of Sophie's appearance, or her history, or her life in general.  It felt like a thinly sketched "aimless woman living a lonely life in a big city who lives with a cat" scenario. And she is an orphan and her best friend is a priest - talk about isolated!  But things begin to change when two colorful things happen to her - a person who wrote to her kills himself (but is still sending her letters), and she meets Marek, a mysterious and handsome man who brings vibrancy, passion and excitement into her life.  Pretty soon, on one very memorable date, she learns what some of Marek's secrets are, and from here on out Sophie is awake, alive and living an unexpected life.
Krafton has created her own vampire lore, with another species called the DemiVampire (DV) who are in constant battles (political and otherwise) with the full vampires, who are evolved DV (and "evolved" means killing humans while sucking them dry and absorbing their life essence).  The DV are living among us, oozing power through their emotions, and Sophie is sensitive and receptive to this power. 

Sophie is not clairvoyant, but is an empath, sensing the emotional energy of the DV in particular, and sending healing energy out to those in need. As such she is revered as a kind of soothing Oracle of wisdom, but also as a human pet, because she is still manipulated by the DV using their power of compulsion. They profess to need her and respect her, yet they treat her in a patronizing manner.  I guess if we want to look for deeper meaning it's an indication of their parasitic nature - they feed off blood and they feed off energy, too.  Sophie is just a food source with two flavors instead of one.

Much of the story is dependent on Sophie's ability to use her compassion to bring peace to others, including the DV (demi-vampires).  First she reaches out to Marek, then his brother Rodrian, and there's lots of descriptions of the vamp's power surging with their emotions, and Sophie feeling that power, filtering their emotions and sending it back to them.  While I really liked the concept of energy vampirism, and Sophie's role as a modern descendant of Isis, it is a tough thing to bring to the written page.  Consequently, much of what Sophie says sounds trite, and I kept thinking as I was reading that if she is teaching beings who are hundreds of years old how to handle grief and loss, then those beings are not very bright. 

For those readers who love paranormal romance but don't enjoy graphic sex scenes, this is the book for you.  The few references to physical romance are very chaste with absolutely no descriptive action whatsoever.  While the romance of Sophie and Marek is the focus of this story, it is set against a backdrop of a political web of power-mongering between DV and vampires fighting for territory and manipulating humans.
The really exciting action comes towards the end, when Sophie is kidnapped and Marek is taken.
I really enjoyed the fast pace,  the truly scary Master Vampire character, and the steadily increasing tension of Marek being forcibly evolved.  I could not stop reading!  I feel like Sophie really redeemed herself in this part of the book, and I ended up caring about her, enough so that I am really looking forward to BLOOD RUSH (Demimonde #2), which I will review here in a few days.  

Blood Rush will be released on May 14, 2013 by Pink Narcissus Press.

Disclaimer - The author sent me this book in exchange for my honest review.

For more information check out the author's website at:

Blind Alleys: A Collection of Dead Ends  Doorways: Three Tales of No Going Back