Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Release Day 99 cent Special!! Deathtrap (Broslin Creek Series) by Dana Marton


(Disclosure - I received a copy of this from the author. And as of May 20, 2013, I am Dana Marton's Virtual Assistant.  I have been a fan of Dana's books for quite a while, and I've reviewed several of her books on this blog over the years.)

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Book Blurb:
Deathtrap is the chilling romantic suspense story of Captain Ethan Bing and Sophie Curtis:
She'd been "the sick girl" for most of her life.  She refused to go straight to "the weird girl".  Heart-transplant recipient Sophie Curtis has been in her own antiseptic bubble for so long, she just might not be able to venture out into the real world again.  Her spooky body memories are scary enough, but then she finds herself in the cross hairs of a killer.

"Love was blind, people said.  But lust was blind, deaf and reckless."  Ethan Bing hadn't been a great romantic before he became a cop.  Whatever shred of optimism he had left after becoming Broslin Chief of Police had been seared out of him by the unsolved murder of his wife two years before.  A new case brings the killer within reach just as Sophie pops into his life.  She gets through his defenses like no other before, but soon it becomes clear that she's been selected as the killer's next victim

The opening grabbed me right away, with the incredibly vivid imagery of a northeast forest (I'm from the Adirondack mountains of upstate NY and the author really nailed the feeling of being in the woods, with the beautifully colored leaves, the sun dappling through branches and hitting the forest floor, etc).  As a setting, it made such a peaceful contrast to the bloody homicide, creating such a very strong sense of place.  But what kept me reading was the clear, well-developed characters.  Each one has intriguing and telling little details making them seem very real and relatable.
I can't remember how many books I've read where I can barely remember the characters after the book is done, or I have no clear sense of them while reading.  But Sophie and Ethan Bing (I just think of him as Bing, LOL!) really linger in my mind.  Lots of authors can spin a great story, but the memorable characters are what keeps a reader coming back - what good is an amazing adventure or incredible plot without an amazing person for us to identify with, and live vicariously through, you know? 

The gradual buildup of Sophie and Bing's trust and friendship, paralleled with the murder mystery unfolding and linking more to Ethan Bing's wife's homicide, was nuanced, detailed and believable.  Sophie's past as a sick, dependent woman, and Bing's as a failed protector and husband, were illustrated very well by their hesitation and refusal to assume these old roles as they fought their mutual attraction.  Sophie's strange experiences with transplant memories, causing her to "remember" suspicious locations, is subtle and spooky.
One of my favorite things about Deathtrap was a big stray dog named Peaches, who gently insinuates himself into Sophie's life and heart.  Peaches was a great addition to the cast of characters!  Maybe it's just because I'm a dog person, but Peaches' presence was a really effective device to highlight Sophie's before and after transplant life.  Plus, I kept expecting Peaches to provide a clue to the identity of the heart donor, what with his cocking his head and looking at Sophie with a puzzled expression.  Crotchety neighbor Lester was also an interesting secondary character, with a richly detailed backstory of a sad love story, which was a great juxtaposition to Sophie and Ethan's situation.  The solving of the mystery and the revealing of the killer was also very satisfying, and nicely pulled together all the clues.  I wasn't sure who the killer was until close to the end - love that.

Dana Marton's writing is the kind that keeps me reading late into the night.  She has the ability to start a story with various threads (the mysterious corporate logo, two murdered women two years apart, heart transplant memories, etc.) and slowly weave them together into a strong and cohesive plot, that is enhanced and illuminated by secondary characters and subplots.  There are no sudden character introductions or wacky plot devices to justify a leap in the action. The mysteries, the character histories, and the characters are well-crafted and cohesive.
If you haven't read her books before, you are missing out!
Although Deathtrap is part of the Broslin Creek series, it is easily read as a standalone novel.

And check out the #1 Amazon Best Selling Romantic Suspense novel Deathscape (the first book in the Broslin Creek Series)!
After a near-death experience, artist Ashley Price is compelled to paint visions of the dead. Then she paints a man buried alive and, recognizing the  surroundings, she rushes to save him.

Instead of being grateful to her for rescuing him, Detective Jack Sullivan accuses her of being in league with a serial killer. He swears he will put her behind bars. Except, the more time he spends with her, the more he falls under her spell. Can he trust her, or is he walking into another deadly trap?

Check out Dana Marton's website!
National bestselling author Dana Marton writes fast-paced action-adventure romances that take her readers all over the globe. She is a Rita Award finalist and the winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence. She loves writing stories of intrigue, filled with dangerous plots that try her tough-as-nails heroes and the special women they fall in love with. Her books have been published in seven languages in eleven countries around the world. 
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  Trilogy for 99cents!         Three Cowboys                        Third Scroll                     The Black Sheep Sheik

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell

Rumor Has It

(I bought this book.)

Back of the Book Blurb:
Would you be tempted?
Newly single, Tilly Cole impulsively accepts a job offer in a small town as a "Girl Friday." Fun job, country house, fresh start, why not? But soon she finds herself in a hotbed of gossip, intrigue, and rampant rivalry for the town's most desirable bachelor-Jack Lucas.
Rumors of Jack's "love 'em and leave 'em" escapes abound, and Tilly decides to do the mature, sensible thing... avoid Jack at all cost. But the more time Tilly spends with Jack, the more the rumors just don't make sense. Tilly doesn't know what to believe... and Jack's not telling.

I think I've been living under a rock, because this is the first book I've read by Jill Mansell, and it's the first I had ever heard of her.  Shocking!  Because this is easily one of the most sparkling, witty, delightful, engaging and every other happy, bubbly descriptor out there.  It's the mimosa of books - bubbly, fizzy fun, with some quality writing thrown in.
Tilly is a rather aimless twenty eight year old, who is dumped by her boring boyfriend.  She heads off to quiet little Roxborough to spend the weekend with her best friend Erin, and impulsively ends up taking a job as a "Girl Friday" to Max, a divorced interior designer with a teenage daughter.  Tilly is definitely aware of local hottie Jack Lucas, and it turns out he is Max's best friend.  But Tilly is determined not to become another notch on Jack's bedpost, and does her best to ignore their mutual attraction.  As Tilly adapts to her new job and life in quaint Roxborough, she realizes small town life is anything but boring.
While reading Rumor Has It, I was completely sucked in by the zippy narrative and quick-witted dialogue of all the characters.  Mansell really has a gift for writing conversations that come alive and feel spontaneous, engaging the reader in the moment.  Her secondary characters are just as interesting as Tilly, Jack and Max.  Max's ex-wife Kaye is a Hollywood actress who comes home to hide after a paparazzi nightmare, Erin is having a love affair with Stella's estranged husband Fergus, and Stella herself is a bitchy, vindictive force of nature.  There is a lot going on in this book besides Tilly and Jack's developing relationship, all of it interesting.
My only issue with this otherwise wonderful book is that, after I finished it, I realized I still had no real sense of Tilly.  I couldn't really picture her in my head (physical descriptions are minimal for the most part), and never felt as if I knew her.  She felt like an acquaintance and I had a window into her life, keeping me as the reader at a distance and not emotionally engaged.  Entertained yes, but not personally engaged.  During the reading of this book I didn't feel disconnected at all, because there was so much else going on plotwise.  But after I had finished, rather than feeling intense satisfaction, I felt as if something was missing.  It's the same feeling I get when I go see a Hollywood blockbuster-action-type movie, and I am thoroughly entertained for 90 minutes but once I leave the theater my brain's already starting to forget what I just watched.  Which is not a bad thing:-) 
Overall a delightful escape  - and who doesn't need that in their life?

Check out the author's website at:

Holy Cover Continuity, Batman!  Check these out:
Walk in the Park Nadia Knows Best To The Moon and Back Staying at Daisy's Millie's Fling

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Grilling Season (Culinary Mystery Series #7) by Diane Mott Davidson

The Grilling Season (Culinary Mystery Series #7)
(I bought this book.)

Back of the Book Blurb:
A chilly reception....
Caterer Goldy Schulz has been hired to host a hockey party. But the proceedings won't be all fun and games. Unfortunately, her client won't be satisfied until Goldy adds a hefty serving of revenge.
An ex-husband from hell....
Patricia McCracken is certain that her obstetrician and her penny-pinching HMO are responsible for the loss of her baby. Now she is suing both, and she wants Goldy's advice on coming out on top. For Dr. John Richard Korman, aka the Jerk, is none other than Goldy's abusive ex-husband. Goldy knows all about John Richard's secret life--but even she is shocked when he's arrested for the murder of his latest girlfriend.
A dish best served cold....
As much as Goldy would like to see her ex get his just desserts, could he really be a killer? Soon she will find herself sifting through a spicy mix of sizzling gossip for clues to a mystery that threatens her catering deadline, her relationship with her son and new husband... and even her life.

Over the years I've read several books in Diane Mott Davidson's delightful Culinary Mystery Series, but somehow missed this one.  Published in 1998, this is the 7th book in the series about caterer Goldy Schulz and it is as delightful and fun as the rest of the series.  If Nancy Drew grew up and became a foodie, she might be Goldy.  As always, Goldy is juggling her catering gigs (recipes are included!), demanding clients, and the dead bodies she constantly stumbles over.  Although I find her nosiness and willingness to ask  incredibly snoopy questions to be a bit much, the solidly crafted mysteries, intricate small-town relationships and inter-mingled histories make such a wonderful tapestry of plot it is easy to overlook.
The Grilling Season give the reader much more of the backstory about Goldy's first, abusive marriage with the handsome and scummy John Richard.  The abuse is not sugar-coated or related in euphemisms, and it provides a gritty sense of reality to the current murder Goldy is caught up in.  Her friendship with The Jerk's second ex-wife is solid and funny and supportive, providing comic relief.  Goldy's husband Tom is strong and supportive as always, grounding Goldy.  But, as with the other books in the series, Goldy is always struggling with her ability to remain in the present, to remember she  is strong and resilient and a survivor.  And I think that is one of the most appealing aspects to Goldy and this series (well, that and the really lovingly and deliciously described foods!) - Goldy feels real and that makes me care about her.
When she discovers the beaten body of her husband's current girlfriend, her past crashes down on her.  But that is not enough to stifle Goldy's natural curiosity.  Add to that the fact that her son begs her to help prove that John Richard is innocent of murder, and Goldy is back in action.  A quick, fun and satisfying read!

Here is a list of the Culinary Mystery Series from Wikipedia:
  1. Catering to Nobody (1990)
  2. Dying for Chocolate (1993)
  3. The Cereal Murders (1994)
  4. The Last Suppers (1995)
  5. Killer Pancake (1996)
  6. The Main Corpse (1997)
  7. The Grilling Season (1998)
  8. Prime Cut (2000)
  9. Tough Cookie (2001)
  10. Sticks and Scones (2002)
  11. Chopping Spree (2003)
  12. Double Shot (2005)
  13. Dark Tort (2007)
  14. Sweet Revenge (2008)
  15. Fatally Flaky (2009)
  16. Crunch Time (2011)

Catering to Nobody (Culinary Mystery Series #1) Tough Cookie (Culinary Mystery Series #9) Chopping Spree (Culinary Mystery Series #11) Prime Cut (Culinary Mystery Series #8) Dying for Chocolate (Culinary Mystery Series #2) Crunch Time

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Haven (Bishop/Special Crimes Unit Series#13) by Kay Hooper

Haven (Bishop/Special Crimes Unit Series #13)
(I bought this book.)

Back of the Book Blurb:
After years away, Jessie Rayburn has finally returned home—unwelcomed—to a town of menacing whispers: Baron Hollow, North Carolina. It’s as though she never left. That’s why she’s so afraid.
She left behind her estranged sister, Emma, who has her own secrets to protect. But Emma is afraid to reveal what’s really troubling her and keeping her awake—strange dreams of women being murdered, brutally, viciously. Now, in this conspiracy of silence, Emma’s bad dreams are becoming more real than ever.
Even with the help of Noah Bishop, cofounder of Haven, the group of psychic investigators that Jessie works for, Jessie and Emma fear they won’t be able to outrun the secrets buried in Baron Hollow—or the evil targeting them one last time.

Love, love, love the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series, and fans of this fantastic series will not be disappointed with the latest installment.  Jessie is a bit of a lone wolf, who has returned to her childhood home to try and remember what happened fifteen years ago, because it was an event so traumatic she has blocked it from her memory almost completely.  And when she left her hometown she left her little sister behind as well as her inheritance from their wealthy father.  Returning is terrifying to Jessie, but she feels it's time to remember, and that the trauma is blocking her psychic abilities.
Jessie is an interesting heroine.  She is smart, capable and independent, but also incredibly selfish and stubborn.  She refuses to share anything of the last fifteen years with Emma, and makes no real effort to reestablish a relationship with her sister.  Pretty soon she is on the trail of evil itself, a hometown serial killer who may be connected to Jessie's painful past, and instead of sharing this information with Emma, she retreats, heading off into the forest every day to hunt.  As an excuse to herself, she believes she is protecting Emma, that what Emma doesn't know won't hurt her.  Which has got to be one of the lamest excuses ever.  A local man has been hunting and killing people for over fifteen years, and Jessie doesn't think Emma should know?  Jessie checks in with Maggie at Haven, but gives her almost no information. either.  So Maggie sends in Nathan Navarro undercover to keep an eye on Jessie, and to also use his unique ability, which is finding the dead. Turns out Navarro and Emma had met before and have unfinished business between them, adding a touch of romance to this mystery.
From this point on the book is pure suspense, a story of predator and prey, and Hooper does this better than almost anyone else.  The story unfolds in alternating points of view, between the killer, Jessie, and Navarro.  The killer's perspective is chilling and scary, as he makes plans to take his next victim and as the reader we know it's coming but can't do anything but keep reading!  As with most of these stories, I was never completely sure who the bad guy was until very close to the end. One of the most marvelous aspects of Hooper's writing, at least for me, is her lack of sentimentality when it comes to her characters.  People who do stupid things pay for those actions.  This heightens the suspense for me as the reader, because there are no guarantees.
Highly recommended - Kay Hooper is a must-read author for me.

Check out the author's website at: Kay Hooper

Coming in November 2013 is the next installment in the series:

Blood Sins (Bishop/Special Crimes Unit Series #11) Captain's Paradise: A Novel Blood Dreams (Bishop/Special Crimes Unit Series #10) The First Prophet: A Bishop Files Novel Sleeping with Fear (Bishop/Special Crimes Unit Series #9) The Haunting of Josie

Friday, May 10, 2013

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

Death Comes to Pemberley
(I bought this book.)

Back of the Book Blurb:
In their six years of marriage, Elizabeth and Darcy have forged a peaceful, happy life for their family at Pemberley, Darcy’s impressive estate. Her father is a regular visitor; her sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; the marriage prospects for Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, are favorable. And preparations for their annual autumn ball are proceeding apace. But on the eve of the ball, chaos descends. Lydia Wickham, Elizabeth’s disgraced sister who, with her husband, has been barred from the estate, arrives in a hysterical state—shrieking that Wickham has been murdered.  Plunged into frightening mystery and a lurid murder trial, the lives of Pemberley’s owners and servants alike may never be the same.

I've been a Jane Austen and P.D. James fan for a very long time, so to see the two combined in this delightful novel made me very, very happy.
This was a beautifully integrated novel, combining Austen's razor-sharp wit, sparkling dialogue and social commentary, with James' intricately crafted mystery and knowledge of historical English law.  The prologue catches the reader up with the last six years, preparing us for the story and reacquainting us with these beloved characters.  The main characters felt true to Austen's creation, as if they stepped off the pages of Pride and Prejudice and just kept on walking onto the pages of Death Comes to Pemberley.  Reading about Jane and Bingley, Mr. Bennett, Lydia and Wickham, and others was like catching up with old friends, but this book easily stands alone as well, because the prologue readily brings one up to speed.  One of the wonderful aspects of this book was the fleshing out of the lesser characters.  Colonel Fitzwilliam and Georgiana take a  more prominent role, displaying aspects of their personalities not seen before.
Reading this felt like reading Austen, and by that I mean the prose is dense and rich, full of witty treasures and telling remarks.  This is not a book to quickly skim, but rather is one to savor.

In the end, though, this was Darcy's story.  Most of it is told from his perspective.  His great love for Elizabeth and their children has come with a price, because he has married beneath his class and simultaneously married into the family that now must call Wickham a son and brother.  The irony of the situation is not lost on Darcy. As James so succinctly puts it,"The price he had paid in bribing Wickham to marry Lydia had been the price of Elizabeth."
Darcy struggles with doing the right thing by Wickham in terms of societal and class conventions.  The scandal associated with Wickham's murder charge is a taint that spreads to his entire family, both by blood and marriage.  Darcy is honor-bound to once again pay large sums of money on behalf of Wickham, this time in order to support his "brother" (by marriage) during his time at the Old Bailey.  

 The epilogue is a highly satisfying section, taking place over a single morning of conversation between Darcy and Elizabeth, as they finally speak of the events of the last year, as well the events that brought them together six years ago.  Darcy offers a detailed explanation of his thoughts and motivations, as well as a more fleshed-out version of Wickham's attempted seduction of Georgianna.

And how about compliments for the cover art?  I absolutely love the PBS Mystery!/Edmund Gorey feel to the artwork!

The author's official website is here:  The following is from this website:
Biography: P. D. James is the author of twenty books, most of which have been filmed and broadcast on television in the United States and other countries. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Department of Great Britain's Home Office. She has served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. In 2000 she celebrated her eightieth birthday and published her autobiography, Time to Be in Earnest. The recipient of many prizes and honors, she was created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991. She lives in London and Oxford.

Awards: International Crime Writing Hall of Fame 2008; Grand Master Award from Mystery Writers of America, 1999; Diamond Dagger from British Crime Writers' Association, 1987

Death in Holy Orders (Adam Dalgliesh Series #11) The Lighthouse (Adam Dalgliesh Series #13) The Murder Room (Adam Dalgliesh Series #12) An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (Cordelia Gray Series #1) Unnatural Causes (Adam Dalgliesh Series #3)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Casted by Sonya Loveday (A Cover Reveal!)

Casted by Sonya Loveday
Look at this lovely, ethereal cover!

Book Blurb from the author's website:
“My mind absorbed everything in the spell book I clutched tightly to me. Pages ruffled inside of my head, urging me to remember things and then to forget them. Voices chanted with tempo rising at the breaking points of pain until the book vanished and words to an ancient spell scribed across my arms. Each stroke brought blood to the surface, imprinting words I could not read; words that would forever change who I was.”
Jade had spent the majority of her life running from the Triad. The Triad are a powerful group, who would stop at nothing to obtain Jade and the missing spell book for leader, Lorenzo’s, nefarious plans. And now that she has absorbed the highly coveted magic contained inside the missing book, there is nowhere left for her to hide.
With the help of her friends, Jade steps out from the shadows and learns how to fight back. But no one is prepared for Elinor-the woman bound inside of the book that’s trapped in Jade’s mind. Now she not only needs to protect herself from the Triad, but from what’s hiding inside her mind as well.
Jade never expected the answer to it all would revolve around love.
Edge is dark, mysterious, and a sworn member of the Triad. He also hides a secret past that threatens the thin line he walks between good and evil. Lives are at stake when Jade and Edge’s two worlds collide. Can Jade learn to trust him when he says he is her pre-ordained and vows to do everything he can to protect her?  But more importantly, can she trust herself and the woman in her mind?

Release date: June 7th, 2013. This date is pending edits and formatting. Casted will be available for both e-book and print

Check out the link for more information!
Casted by Sonya Lovelady Cover Reveal

Trashy Chic (A Bertie Mallowan Mystery) by Cathy Lubenski

Trashy Chic: A Bertie Mallowan Mystery
(I bought this book.)

Back of the Book Blurb:
Reporter Bertie Mallowan has drifted away from hard news stories and into the shallows of "fluff" features, the kind you find buried in the back of the newspaper. Writing about preschool fashion shows and the latest in designer garbage bags bores her so she amuses herself by inventing naughty passwords for her computer and pushing the envelope when it comes to creative lying to management types.
 When she interviews greedy, nasty Robert Bellingham, the king of must-have luxury items for the rich of Southern California - like monogrammed airbags for "The Crash with Panache" and mink coats pre-streaked with red paint to foil PETA kamikazes. Over the years, his products have become de rigueur for the class that has two of everything and is seeking the one and only of something else. He's made a lot of money and a lot of enemies.
 Two days after Bertie's interview, Bellingham's body is found on the floor of the foyer in the family mansion; someone has aerated his skull with the stereotypical blunt object. Thanks to her interview, Bertie has inside information about the life and times of a rich and powerful murder victim and is thrust into a big story again. Bertie is convinced that the family's bizarre emotional ticks make them all uniquely capable of committing murder. A second murder and an attack on Bertie herself brings her face-to-face with the kind of danger she's only ever written about, never experienced first-hand.

A Quickie Review: 
Trashy Chic is a satisfying, whodunnit laced with tongue-in-cheek humor, set in the trashy Kardashian/Real Housewives version of Southern California.
Bertie is the kind of gal I want to hang out with - she is smart, unappreciated, pissed-off and stubborn, kind of like an older, wiser, disillusioned, and sarcastic Nancy Drew.  When Bellingham is murdered, Bertie is determined not to lose the opportunity for a serious story, but the problem is, Bertie has become a target herself.  Because the murder victim was so incredibly wealthy and tacky, nobody is exactly sad to see him gone.  There is no shortage of legitimate suspects, from a greedy younger wife, to an inept son and bizarre daughter, and even the family gardener.  Bertie's adventures veer off into the madcap, but the mystery of the murderer's identity and the fast pace kept me reading until the end.

For more information check out the author's website at Trashy Chic Book 

Snarky Park: A Bertie Mallowan Mystery 

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Kingdom and The Prophet (The Graveyard Queen Series #2 and #3) by Amanda Stevens

The Kingdom     The Prophet
(I bought these books.)

The Kingdom Back of the Book Blurb:

Deep in the shadowy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a dying town…
My name is Amelia Gray. They call me The Graveyard Queen. I've been commissioned to restore an old cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, but I'm coming to think I have another purpose here.
Why is there a cemetery at the bottom of Bell Lake? Why am I drawn time and again to a hidden grave I've discovered in the woods? Something is eating away at the soul of this town—this withering kingdom—and it will only be restored if I can uncover the truth.

The Prophet Back of the Book Blurb:
My name is Amelia Gray.
I am the Graveyard Queen, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. My father passed down four rules to keep me safe and I've broken every last one. A door has opened and evil wants me back.
In order to protect myself, I've vowed to return to those rules. But the ghost of a murdered cop needs my help to find his killer. The clues lead me to the dark side of Charleston—where witchcraft, root doctors and black magic still flourish—and back to John Devlin, a haunted police detective I should only love from afar.
Now I'm faced with a terrible choice: follow the rules or follow my heart.

If you haven't discovered the deliciously eerie Graveyard Queen series yet, you are in for a literary treat.  Amanda Stevens has created a  heroine who is complicated, lonely, driven and absolutely fascinating in cemetery restorer Amelia Gray.  It would be easy to call Amelia a haunted woman - she is haunted by her past, by the ghosts she sees, by the life she cannot live.  But after reading these books you realize that the word "haunted" has a new meaning, because in Amelia's world, ghosts are parasitic energy suckers, and to acknowledge a ghost's presence is to invite it to haunt you.  Amelia can see ghosts, but must go through her life ignoring their existence, pretending not to feel their icy cold presence, living in her beloved apartment built on hallowed ground which is supposed to keep the ghosts away.  The irony is that following her beloved father's rules in order to make a life for herself, has resulted in her living a half-life.  Amelia exists in the world of the living, yet her job is taking care of the dead.  She has minimal relationships with the living because of the danger from the dead who walk among them.
In The Kingdom Amelia takes a job in a remote town, happy to get the job as an excuse to put space between her and John Devlin.  She is emotionally drained and in desperate need of a break.  From the moment of her arrival strange things begin to happen. She finds herself drawn to a handsome local man named Thane Asher, and Amelia gets to know his powerful family, and they seem to have an unusual interest in her.  She soon realizes that this little town is hiding dark and unnatural secrets.  Secrets that are kept with blood, and provide youth, wealth, and beauty to those who make offerings.  Coincidences pile up, along with omens and dangerous incidents.  Amelia realizes that the strange feelings she has for the mountain are due to her connection to it, and as her relationship with Thane intensifies she feels something more coming through her as well, and it's not a ghost.  Amelia befriends a horribly abused dog who rapidly becomes her companion, and he acts as a touchstone to what is real and important.  The horrific and sad secrets of the past that are revealed at the end explain quite a bit about Amelia's mysterious past.

In The Prophet, Amelia's unique ability to see ghosts makes her vulnerable to the entreaties of a murdered cop, who can't remember who killed him.  He begs, bullies and kind of blackmails Amelia into helping him discover who killed him and why. While investigating his death she is also learning more about Mariama, Devlin's dead but very-much-still-around wife.  Mariama was one intense woman, so intense that death barely slowed her down, and Amelia discovers her ties with voodoo and one very scary and powerful man in Charleston.  Throw in some really freaky and horrifying drugging and kidnapping, and Amelia is once again in more danger from the living than the dead.  As if she doesn't have enough to deal with, she is also trying to figure out her unsettling relationship with Devlin.  Although in love with him, their relationship is so uncomfortable and tentative it made me feel awkward just reading it.  Devlin is a complicated man, and his dead wife Mariama is still the center around which he orbits, even if he doesn't realize it.

I absolutely love this series- it's the perfect blend of creepy, eerie, dark and mesmerizing.  Each of these books has haunted me long after I read the last page.  Just as Amelia lives in limbo between the worlds of the living and the dead, reading these books will transport the reader to a between the worlds state as well.

To see my reviews of The Restorer and The Abandoned, check out the Labels to the right of this post.

For more information, and for a preview of The Visitor (Graveyard Queen Series #4), check out the author's website at:  Amanda Stevens

Link to The Prophet:
Add to Goodreads  

Link to The Kingdom:
Add to Goodreads

See my previous reviews on The Restorer (Book #1) and the prequel novella The Abandoned:
The Restorer  The Abandoned Just Past Midnight Silent Storm His Mysterious Ways

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Grave Intentions by Lori Sjoberg

Grave Intentions
(I bought this book)

Back of the Book Blurb:
He’s handsome, reliable, and punctual—the perfect gentleman when you want him to be. But this dream man is Death’s best agent—and now he’s got more than his soul to lose…
One act of mercy before dying was all it took to turn soldier David Anderson into a reaper—an immortal who guides souls-of-untimely-death into the afterlife. But the closer he gets to atoning for his mortal sin and finally escaping merciless Fate, the more he feels his own humanity slipping away for good. Until he encounters Sarah Griffith. This skeptical scientist can’t be influenced by his powers—even though she has an unsuspected talent for sensing the dead. And her honesty and irreverent sense of humor reignite his reason for living—and a passion he can’t afford to feel. Now Fate has summoned David to make a devastating last harvest. And he’ll break every hellishly-strict netherworld rule to save Sarah...and gamble on a choice even an immortal can’t win.

Review:  Oh, how I love this cover!  Chest, abs, arms, sickle - all the requisite sex symbols!  But more importantly I also loved the story.  I believe this is the author's first published work, and Lori Sjoberg will be an author to watch.  Her style is confident and consistent, the plot is tightly written and the pacing brisk.  The characters are so fleshed out and realistic I feel like I know them. 
David is my favorite kind of hero.  He's strong, conflicted, stoic and brooding.  After 60 plus years of reaping souls and stifling his emotions in order to deal with the horrific deaths, David is apathetic and numb, just waiting for his efforts to result in atonement.  He has just started training the newest reaper for the Greater Orlando area, when he meets his apartment neighbor, Sarah.
Sarah has life complications of her own.  Her grandmother Pearl is a fortune teller/con artist, but seems to have some legitimate psychic abilities.  Unfortunately, she is using her real skills to tell her fellow nursing home residents when a death is coming.  This has resulted in her getting kicked out of numerous facilities, and Sarah does not know what to do with her beloved grandmother. On top of that, Sarah is being sexually harassed at work by her boss just as her research is at a critical point.
When Sarah's creepy boss Angelo slashes her tires and then drugs her one night, David is there to rescue Sarah and threaten Angelo.  From that point on they begin a friendship where they build mutual affection and respect while ignoring the serious chemistry between them.  And then one day Sarah sees David doing his job.  Except that as a mortal, she shouldn't be able to see the soul being harvested.  Turns out Sarah has some unique psychic abilities of her own, and David sees no option but to tell her the truth.  Sarah realizes her grandmother is not crazy but is really psychic, and she starts to spend a lot of time with both Pearl and David, asking them a million questions to learn more about this new dimension of her world.  As the weeks go by, David and Sarah truly get to know each other and fall in love, but David refuses to act on this, terrified that if he lets his love for Sarah flow, then all the other emotions he has locked away for the last half century will come flooding back. And keeping his emotions locked away is the only thing that has kept him sane while reaping thousands of souls after their unnatural, often horrific deaths.
Eventually David decides that after 60 years he is willing to take a chance on love. I really liked the fact that David and Sarah had a relationship first, and their love grew from a delicious combination of chemistry, respect, humor and friendship.  It was realistic and sexy as hell.
Everything is going beautifully, until the day Sarah's name comes up on David's weekly hit list.  His decision to save her and cheat Death will come at a huge cost - his soul.  Because the business of Fate, Death and reaping is one big bureaucratic structure of strict rules and regulations and there are no exceptions to these rules.  At this point of the story, I was reminded of O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi.  Mentioning that is spoiler enough, so I won't say anything further about the plot, except I actually shed a few tears, there is a happy ending, and you need to read this book!

I am so happy that the author is working on the next in the series, and it features one of David's fellow reapers named Ruby.  That's a woman with a hell of a story, and I can't wait to read it!  One of the strengths in Grave Intentions is the incredible cast of supporting characters. They are so interesting and beg for a book of their own! David's coworkers are all Reapers like him, humans who did something that damned their souls before they died, but Fate has decided they are capable of redemption.  Each is worthy of their own story, so hopefully a series is in the works.

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Check out the author's website at  Lori Sjoberg .  She has the following information about the next book in the series!

Book Two of the Grave Series – Coming Soon!
This Caribbean cruise is to die for…
For most reapers, an assignment on board a luxury liner would be a welcome break from the monotonous cycle of death.  But not for Ruby Dawson.  The open seas bring back painful memories, and being in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is last on her list of dream vacations.  What she needs is a distraction, and Jack Deverell certainly fits the bill.  He’s tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome…and not quite human, but no one’s perfect, right?  Soon, the distraction turns to attraction, and then to something far deeper than Ruby’s ever experienced.  But when a passenger is murdered outside Fate’s directives, all clues point to Jack as the culprit.  And with a major hurricane bearing down on the ship, Ruby’s racing against time to prove Jack’s innocence and bring a killer to justice.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Book Lover's Buffet Sale - More than 175 Ebooks for 99 cents each!

Introducing the Book Lovers’ Buffet. Load up, you won’t gain a pound!

The Buffet’s “Bouquet of Books” sale will be open May 1-3. More than 175 ebooks, all reduced in price to just 99 cents. Save in categories such as Young Adult, Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense, Erotic Romance, and more!

PLUS, visit the website to win gift cards to your choice of online retailers. $400 in gift cards up for grabs!

Titles from popular authors such as:

·         Gemma Halliday
·         Angie Fox
·         Jenna Bennett
·         Amanda Brice
·         Jennette Marie Powell
·         Clover Autrey
·         Carly Carson
·         E. Ayers
·         Genevieve Jourdin
·         CJ Lyons
·         Renee Pace
·         Sophia Knightley
·         Tori Scott
·         Meredith Bond
·         Emily Ryan-Davis
·         Anthea Lawson
·         Diana Layne
·         Lindsey Brookes
·         Gina Robinson
·         McKenna Chase

And many, many more!

Hosted by Indie Romance Ink.

Here's a handy-dandy video link about this fabulous sale: