Monday, October 5, 2015

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Madame X #1
My name is Madame X.
I’m the best at what I do.
And you’d do well to follow my rules...

Hired to transform the uncultured, inept sons of the wealthy and powerful into decisive, confident men, Madame X is a master of the art of control. With a single glance she can cut you down to nothing, or make you feel like a king.

But there is only one man who can claim her body—and her soul.

Undone time and again by his exquisite dominance, X craves and fears his desire in equal measure. And while she longs for a different path, X has never known anything or anyone else—until now...

I admit I was a bit apprehensive starting Madame X because part of the story is told in second-person and I wasn't sure I'd like the format. But Madame X ended up being such a unique read that I am dying to get my hands on the second book in the series.

I've been wanting to read a novel by Jasinda Wilder for a while now because I kept seeing her novels suggested to me every time I browse on Goodreads so when I got the chance to review Madame X I jumped at the chance. Madame X is one of the most well-written books I've read in this genre this year. Every word feels deliberate to convey Madame X's emotions, fears and true desires. I was left with the biggest book hangover because holy crap! It's amazing!

Wealthy men send their spoiled, whiny, douche-y sons to Madame X and she turns them into polished gentlemen. She's very good at what she does because it's all she knows. Madame X has no memory who she was before she was rescued by her employer Caleb Indigo. And not only is Caleb her employer and protector, he is also her sexual dominant. He taught her rigid control, and she's basically a sophisticated, cold robot owned by Caleb. But in the heart of her that she keeps tamped down, she yearns for something more. Then, she meets Logan... and I'm not going to say anymore.

I didn't know where the heck this book was going to take me because just when I thought I had it figured out, I was proved wrong. I felt so many emotions reading this book. I felt for Madame X but she also made me angry and confused and I disliked her at times. Caleb, too, I was prepared to hate but is he truly 100% evil? I don't know. Logan is supposed to be the white knight and I'm so excited to see what's going to happen next with him and Madame X in the second book. 

Don't go into Madame X thinking you're reading a typical romance. It's not. Not yet, anyway. I soooo wish that I already have books 2 and 3, because this is the kind of series you'd want to marathon. Madame X is a compelling, twisty read that will totally mess with your mind and make you question everything. It's a dark, sexy psychological mystery and if you want a different kind of romance read, you have to pick this book up. I highly recommend it!

This excerpt is rated PG-13. Madame X will be out tomorrow.
A knock on the door, the silent swing of hinges, and then heat and hardness behind me, a faint but intoxicating hint of cologne, the creak of leather. Hands on my waist, lips at my neck. Breath on my skin.

I don’t dare tense, don’t dare suck in a sharp breath of fear. I don’t dare pull away.

Strong, hard, powerful hands twist me in place, and an index finger touches my chin, lifts my face, tilts my gaze. I cannot breathe, don’t dare, haven’t been given permission.

“You are lovelier than ever, X.” A deep, smooth, cultured voice, like the purr of a finely tuned engine.

“Thank you, Caleb.” My own voice is quiet, careful, my words chosen and precise.

“Scotch.” The command is a murmur, barely audible.

I know how to prepare it: a cut-crystal tumbler, a single ice cube, thick amber liquid an inch from the top. I offer the tumbler and wait, keep my eyes downcast, hands behind my back.

“You were too harsh on Jonathan.”

“I must respectfully disagree.”

“His father expects results.”

I bristle, and it does not go unnoticed. “Have I ever failed to produce results?”

“You sent him away after less than an hour.”

“He wasn’t ready. He needed to be shown his faults. He needs to understand how much he has to learn.”

“Perhaps you’re right.” Ice clinks, and I take the empty tumbler, set it aside, and force myself to remain in place, force myself to keep breathing and remind myself that I must obey. “I didn’t come here to discuss Jonathan Cartwright, however.”

“I suppose not.” I shouldn’t have said that. I regret it as soon as the words tumble free.

My wrist bones scrape together under a crushing grip. Hard dark eyes find mine, piercing and frightening. “You suppose not?”

I should beg forgiveness, but I know better. I lift my chin and meet those cold, cruel, intelligent dark eyes. “You know I will fulfill the contract. That’s all I meant.”

“No, that isn’t all you meant.” A hand passes through artfully messy black hair. “Tell me what you really meant, X.”

I swallow hard. “You’re here for what you always want when you visit me.”

“Which is?” A warm finger touches my breastbone, slides into the valley of my cleavage. “Tell me what I want.”

“Me.” I whisper it, so not even the walls can hear.

“All too true.” My skin burns where that strong finger with its manicured nail traces a cutting line up to my shoulder. “You test my patience, at times.”

I stand stock-still, not even breathing. Breath whispers across my neck, huffs hot on my nape, and fingers toy with the zipper of my dress.

“I know,” I say.

And then, just when I expect to feel the zipper slide down my spine, body heat recedes and that hot breath now laced with hints of scotch is gone, and a single word sears my soul:“Strip.”

My tongue scrapes over dry lips, and my lungs constrict, protesting my inability to breathe. My hands tremble. I know this is expected of me, and I cannot, dare not resist, or protest. And... part of me doesn’t want to. But I wish... I wish for the freedom to choose what I want.

I have hesitated too long.

“X. I said . . . strip.” The zipper slides down to between my shoulder blades. “Show me your skin.”

Reaching behind my back, I lower the zipper to its nesting place at the base of my spine. Hard, insistent hands assist me in brushing the sleeves from my shoulders, down my arms, and then the dress is floating to the floor at my feet. That’s all the help I’ll get. I know from long experience that I must make a show of what comes next.

I turn my head, and see tanned skin and the perpetual two-day stubble on a refined, powerful jawline, sharp cheekbones, firm, thin lips, black eyes like voids, eyes that drip desire. My hair drapes over one shoulder. I lift one knee so my now-bare toes touch the gleaming teak, curl my shoulders in, let my gaze show my vulnerability. With a deep breath, I unhook my bra, let the garment fall away.

I reach for my underwear.

“No,” comes the purr, “leave them. Let me.”

I let my fingers graze my thighs, wait. My underwear slides down slowly, and where fingers touch, so too do lips, hot and damp, touching my skin, and I cannot flinch, cannot pull away or express how badly I want only to be alone, to even once have the right to want something else.

But I do not have that right.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Secret Life of Book Blogger TAG

Thursday, October 1, 2015 with
Hello everyone,
This is a slow week blogging-wise, but a very busy week work-wise. It's the end of first quarter so I'm working on grades and prepping for parent-teacher conferences, as well as working on teacher evaluation stuff. But, I thought I'd take a break and do this really fun tag that I saw on Amber's blog Du Livre. I'm always interested in knowing a bit more about the person behind the blog and I'd like you to get to know me as well. Here we go...

How long have you been a blogger?
I've been blogging since September 2009. I've taken a few one- or two-week hiatuses here and there over the years, but I've been blogging for SIX years. Holy cow!

At what point do you think you’ll stop blogging?
When things got busy, I was tempted to permanently stop but I think I'll miss it too much. I don't post as much as I did when I first started, but the content I put up now are more meaningful and substantial so I'm happy. I don't see myself stopping anytime soon.

What is the best thing about blogging?
I'm not going to lie, being able to read a book (especially one I am dying to read) weeks or months before the release day is a HUGE perk of blogging. I am always grateful and thankful for the opportunity to be able to do that. Another thing I love about blogging is sharing my thoughts and opinions about a book. Besides my sister, I have anyone to talk to about books (especially romance novels--Leslie doesn't read them) in real life so getting my thoughts out there and knowing others are reading it is wonderful for an introvert like me.

What is the worst thing? What do you do to make it OK?
The worst thing about blogging is never having enough time to read my own books because review books take priority. If I give my word that I'm going to review a book at a certain date, I need to get that book read before anything else. Unfortunately, I am a very slow reader and I'm very busy with my job so I hardly read during the weekdays. Most of my reading is done during the weekend and I can maybe squeeze reading two novels. Don't get me wrong, I'm very thankful for the review books I get and I find it amazing that publishers care enough about my opinion and think our blog significant enough to send me books. But it does take away from reading the books I bought and I am very much excited for.

How do I make it okay? Well, I am very choosy these days with which books I accept for review and keep a strict calendar so I can gauge if I have enough time to read and review before I commit. I'm happy to say, almost all of the books I accept for review are ones that I would've bought anyway. There's one or two titles I take a chance on, but no longer do I say "yes" to every book pitch e-mail I receive like I did when I was a newbie blogger.

How long does it take you to make/find pictures to use?
It depends on the type of post. If it's a review, then I just go to Goodreads to get the book cover image. If it's a more elaborate like my In Which I Pair the Best Summer Reads to the Cutest Cats post, then I scour Pinterest and Google for hours to find the perfect pictures and then spend another hour to edit the photos on PicMonkey.

Who is your book crush?
Lots! Bishop from The Book of Ivy and The Revolution of Ivy (I just finished it! It's fantastic!), Khalid from The Wrath and the Dawn, T.J. Callahan from On the Island, Wesley from The Duff, Hawke from Kiss of Snow, Bennett from Beautiful Bastard, Garrett Graham from The Deal, Drew Baylor from The Hook Up, Special Agent Jack Pallas from Something About You... and many others!

What author would you like to have on your blog?
Renee Ahdieh and Marie Rutkoski so I can pick their brains about The Rose and the Dagger and The Winner's Kiss respectively.

What do you wear when you write your blog post?
My "house clothes," which consists of a tank top and men's boxers. I own a lot of men's boxers because they're cheaper than women's sleep shorts and are just as comfy to wear them around the house and in bed.

How long does it take you to prepare?
It depends. I write mostly book reviews and some just flow out of me--those usually take an hour to an hour thirty minutes. Others take longer and there's a lot of typing, staring blankly at the computer screen and deleting and typing again and those take me from 2-3 hours.

How do you feel about the book blogger community?
I can't really answer this question because I don't feel like I participate enough, or not as much as I want to. I'm on social media only sporadically. But I have nothing negative to say. It's a good community to be in, I just wish I'm able to participate in it more. I'd especially love to take part in buddy reads.

What do you think one should do to get a successful blog?
For me, as long as you enjoy book blogging and it brings you joy you're already successful.

I can't figure out who started this tag, but if you do please let me know so I can give credit. Let me know if you guys are going to do this tag or already did it. I'd love to read your answers.

Happy reading,

Monday, September 28, 2015

ARC: 352 pages
Publisher: Forever Romance
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Second Chance #3
Connor McClain knows what he wants. And after four harrowing years in Afghanistan, that's a quiet life in the lakeside town of Evergreen Cove. But coming home has land mines of its own-the most dangerous of them being long-legged bombshell Faith Garrett. Now getting her into his arms this holiday is going to require more than mistletoe . . .

With a cheating ex behind her, all Faith wants is a relaxing holiday free from man drama. And even though every moment with gorgeous Connor is a sweet temptation, Faith is determined not to give in. But Jack Frost has other plans, and soon Faith and Connor are snowbound in a winter wonderland with only the sparks flying between them to keep them warm. As one hot kiss leads to another, they'll have to decide if they're ready to give each other the best gift of all-love.

Jessica Lemmon continues to impress with her Bad Boys books (aka Second Chance series). I really loved Evan's book Bringing Home the Bad Boy (my review) and Donovan's book Rescuing the Bad Boy (my review), and now we have Connor's book A Bad Boy for Christmas. Since I loved the first two books so much, I had high expectations that I'm going to love A Bad Boy for Christmas too. It did not disappoint.
In Rescuing the Bad Boy Faith and Connor reconnected, and had a flirty thing going on. But Faith just got out of a relationship (after she discovered that her fiancé was cheating on her) and wasn't ready to get back to dating. Also, even though there were attractive men around Evergreen Cove she just couldn't feel any spark of attraction for any of them... with the exception of sexy landscaper Connor. For him, Faith felt major sparks. Connor, who spent four years in Afghanistan and recently returned to his hometown of Evergreen Cove, was very much attracted to Faith from the very first time he laid eyes on her. When there might be someone trying to break into Faith's new apartment, Connor steps in to try to figure out who it was. 

Connor is my new favorite out of the bad boys. I swooned over all the things he said to her and did for Faith. He was just so sweet, patient, sexy, flirty and so protective of her. His family was wonderful too, especially his sisters. I love the scenes with them. 

I really liked Faith's character also but, man, did she frustrated me. After her break-up, she wanted to regain her independence, and she felt she's finally at the point where she can stand on her own two feet. She moved to a new apartment and she's working at a job she enjoys with her best friend Sofie. She didn't want to give that up, afraid she'll lose herself again if she let's Connor in too deep. But Connor was such a great guy and I was a bit frustrated with Faith when she kept trying to deny herself from truly being with Connor because she's afraid she'll lose her independence. Hello, Faith, you're going to lose the best guy ever if you keep pushing him away! Urgh!

But, oh, I rooted for them. Like with Evan and Charlie and with Donovan and Sofie, Connor and Faith has such great chemistry together. I loved that they were friends first and their relationship developed over the fall and winter months. They really got to know each other as they did all the fall and winter holidays together--all the holiday scenes, from Thanksgiving all the way to New Year, was especially fun.

I want to say that A Bad Boy for Christmas can be read as a standalone, but you'll probably want to start with the first book in the series, Bringing Home the Bad Boy and work your way to this one. But, I promise, all the books are so good it's hardly a hardship. Evan, Charlie, Donovan, and Sofie were around quite a bit and you'll appreciate them more if you knew their stories, and there's also that BIG thing about Asher and Gloria (omigosh, I need their book NOW!) that happened in this book that you wouldn't really get unless you're already familiar with them from Bringing Home the Bad Boy.

A Bad Boy for Christmas was fantastic! I loved it so much! It is such a perfect read for this holiday season. Ms. Lemmon continues to impress me with her characters and her writing. After reading her last three releases, she's up there with some of my favorite contemporary romance authors like Jill Shalvis, Kristan Higgins and Susan Mallery in terms of swoon-worthy heroes, strong heroines and small-town setting for me. I highly recommend you pick up her Bad Boys books--they're not to be missed.

She came to a halt at the threshold of the kitchen, her breath clogging in her throat.

Part of it was shock over the fact that Connor was leaning over the countertop inhaling one of her cupcakes. The other part, and the part she was having trouble reconciling, was the fact that there was a tear beneath one of the pockets of his jeans, and the slash of skin she was currently staring at was his bare ass.

He stood, chewing and smiling with his lips closed. She knew because she hastily redirected her gaze to his face. The way he licked the frosting off the corner of his mouth and lifted his brow suggested he may have caught her eyeballing something she shouldn’t.

“Tore them on a nail on the fence this morning.” He turned to look over his shoulder, splitting the tear with his fingers to show her a faint red scratch on one chiseled butt cheek. “Hurt like a bitch.” His eyes found hers and he gave her a sly smile. “Don’t suppose you’d be willing to patch me up.”

She choked on her laughter, shaking her head for effect. “I don’t think so,” she said, trying to sound disgusted and not turned on.

His smile erased as his brow went down like she’d hurt his feelings. “You would deny me medical care in my moment of need?”

Flustered, she stepped past him and snatched the small white box off the counter, determined to change the subject. “I hope you know you owe me a cupcake.”

“Cupcake, I took that in payment for the kiss you never gave me.”

So he didn’t forget.

“You’d rather have a carrot cupcake than a kiss?” Her pulse pounded against her neck. She knew which one she would prefer, and hoped she was doing a good job hiding it.

“Hmm…” He made a show of craning his neck to look at the remaining cupcake in the bottom of the box. “It was a pretty good cupcake.”

Her mouth opened in argument, but the argument never came. And the reason it never came was because Connor covered her lips with his, launching his tongue into her mouth. She tasted sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg from the frosting, and his mouth, which tasted wonderful because it tasted like him. The smell of lavender filled her senses, that earthy, spicy smell mingling in her nostrils and making her lean into him. Cupping the back of his neck, she tilted her chin, continuing their sparring session with fervor.

Noses bumped, his unshaven chin scraped her jaw, and his hands—his big, manly, rough hands—grasped her at the waist and pulled her flush against him.

This went on until finally, she had to pull back to inhale or suffocate. Not a bad way to go, she’d admit. Now she was panting and trying to recalibrate her brain cells, which had apparently oozed right out of her ears since Connor put his mouth on hers.

He looked as dazed as she did for a second before his smile snapped into place. “Nope. That was much better than the cupcake.”

For other holiday romances from Forever, check out Snowbound at Christmas by Debbie Mason and Unwrapped by Katie Lane.
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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she's been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

Beautifully written, and richly imaginative, The Weight of Feathers is an utterly captivating young adult novel by a talented new voice.

The Weight of Feathers is hands-down the most beautifully written book I've read this year. Wow.

The title and the cover of this book initially caught my attention. A fantastical title like The Weight of Feathers plus a silhouette of a couple in an embrace? I couldn't resist. And I am so glad this book came into my life because reading it was an experience--a gorgeous and whimsical experience. Sabaa Tahir (who blurbed it) compared it to The Night Circus and I totally agree. It has the same magical feel. So, if you enjoyed The Night Circus like I did, I guarantee you'll enjoy The Weight of Feathers too.

First of all, I love the chapter headers. Each chapter begins with a quote--like the one below--in Italian, French or Spanish that kind of gives us hints of what's to come. They really added to the story and I loved that they were translated. The entire novel is actually interspersed with words and phrases in Spanish and French, which I loved and really added to the characters' differing culture. I happily made use of Google translation while reading this novel.

I love the characters Lace and Cluck. We get both of their perspective and it was great being able to see inside both of their heads. Lace struggled with her weight as she tried to stay thin to be play the beautiful mermaid with her cousins. Cluck works behind the scene making the wings his family wears for their performance. An old injury prevented him from performing a wild acrobatics with his family and he's constantly being bullied by his brother Dax. They're both outsiders within their respective families and there's abuse and hatred in both families and I just felt for Lace and Cluck. But them together I loved so much! I wouldn't call this a slow burn romance but it definitely wasn't insta-love. Lace and Cluck were just so great together. They're star-crossed lovers like Romeo and Juliet because their families are rivals and hate each other, but they're nothing like Romeo and Juliet who annoyed me to no end. Lace and Cluck were perfect--imperfectly perfect.

There are a lot of family secrets on both sides and the big mystery was what started the feud in the first place. The ending was unexpected and I don't know if I wasn't reading closely enough but I totally didn't see it coming! I won't say anymore because I don't want to ruin your reading experience. Suffice it to say, it's good!

The Weight of Feathers was an amazing read! Very beautifully written--I can't believe it's the author's debut novel, because wow! I am so excited to read future books by her. I highly recommend The Weight of Feathers to everybody. I love everything about it--the gorgeous writing, the swoon-worthy romance, the whimsy, the ending that I did not see coming. It's one of my favorite reads this year! 

The feathers were Lace’s first warning. They showed up between suitcases, in the trunk of her father’s station wagon, on the handles of came-with-the-car first-aid kits so old the gauze had yellowed. They snagged on antennas, turning the local stations to static.

Lace’s mother found a feather in with the family’s costumes the day they crossed into Almendro, a town named for almond fields that once filled the air with the scent of sugary blossoms and bitter wood. But over the last few decades an adhesive plant had bought out the farms that could not survive the droughts, and the acres of almonds dwindled to a couple of orchards on the edge of town.

The wisp of that black feather caught on a cluster of sequins. Lace knew from the set to her mother’s eyes that she’d throw the whole mermaid tail in a bucket and burn it, elastane and all.

Lace grabbed the tail and held on. If her mother burned it, it would take Lace and her great-aunt at least a week to remake it. Tía Lora’s hands were growing stiff, and Lace’s were new and slow.

Her mother tried to pull the tail from her grip, but Lace balled the fabric in her hands.

“Let go,” her mother warned.

“It’s one feather.” Lace dug in her fingers. “It’s not them.” Lace knew the danger of touching a Corbeau. Her abuela said she’d be better off petting a rattlesnake. But these feathers were not the Corbeaus’ skin. They didn’t hold the same poison as a Corbeau’s body.

“It’s cursed,” her mother said. One hard tug, and she won. She threw the costume tail into a bucket and lit it. The metal pail grew hot as a stove. The fumes off the melting sequins stung Lace’s throat.

“Did you have to burn the whole thing?” she asked.

“Better safe, mija,” her mother said, wetting down the undergrowth with day-old aguas frescas so the brush wouldn’t catch.

They could have cleaned the tail, blessed it, stripped away the feather’s touch. Burning it only gave the Corbeaus more power. Those feathers already had such weight. The fire in the pail was an admission that, against them, Lace’s family had no guard.

Before Lace was born, the Palomas and the Corbeaus had just been competing acts, two of the only shows left that bothered with the Central Valley’s smallest towns. Back then it was just business, not hate. Even now Lace’s family sometimes ended up in the same town with a band of traveling singers or acrobats, and there were no fights, no blood. Only the wordless agreement that each of them were there to survive, and no grudges after. Every fall when the show season ended, Lace’s aunts swapped hot-plate recipes with a trio of trapeze artists. Her father traded homeschooling lesson plans with a troupe of Georgian folk dancers.

The Corbeaus never traded anything with anyone. They shared nothing, took nothing. They kept to themselves, only straying from the cheapest motel in town to give one of Lace’s cousins a black eye, or leave a dead fish at the riverbank. Lace and Martha found the last one, its eye shining like a wet marble.

Before Lace was born, these were bloodless threats, ways the Corbeaus tried to rattle her family before their shows. Now every Paloma knew there was nothing the Corbeaus wouldn’t do.

Lace’s mother watched the elastane threads curl inside a shell of flame. “They’re coming,” she said.

“Did you think they wouldn’t?” Lace asked. Her mother smiled. “I can hope, can’t I?”

She could hope all she wanted. The Corbeaus wouldn’t give up the crowds that came with Almendro’s annual festival. So many tourists, all so eager to fill their scrapbooks. That meant two weeks in Almendro. Two weeks when the younger Paloma men hardened their fists, and their mothers prayed they didn’t come home with broken ribs.

Lace’s grandmother set the schedule each year, and no one spoke up against Abuela. If they ever did, she’d pack their bags for them. Lace had watched Abuela cram her cousin Licha’s things into a suitcase, clearing her perfumes and lipsticks off the motel dresser with one sweep of her arm. When Lace visited her in Visalia and they went swimming, Licha’s two-piece showed that her escamas, the birthmarks that branded her a Paloma, had disappeared.

Lace’s mother taught her that those birthmarks kept them safe from the Corbeaus’ feathers. That family was el Diablo on earth, with dark wings strapped to their bodies, French on their tongues, a sprinkling of gypsy blood. When Lace slept, they went with her, living in nightmares made of a thousand wings.

Another black feather swirled on a downdraft. Lace watched it spin and fall. It settled in her hair, its slight weight like a moth’s feet.

Her mother snatched it off Lace’s head. “¡Madre mía!” she cried, and threw it into the flames.

Lace’s cousins said the Corbeaus grew black feathers right out of their heads, like hair. She never believed it. It was another rumor that strengthened the Corbeaus’ place in their nightmares. But the truth, that wind pulled feathers off the wings they wore as costumes, wasn’t a strong enough warning to keep Paloma children from the woods.

La magia negra,” her mother said. She always called those feathers black magic.

The fire dimmed to embers. Lace’s mother gave the pail a hard kick. It tumbled down the bank and into the river, the hot metal hissing and sinking.

“Let them drown,” her mother said, and the last of the rim vanished.

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore. Copyright © 2015 by the author and reprinted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Griffin.

Anna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and grew up in a Mexican-American family. She attended University of Southern California on a Trustee Scholarship. A Lambda Literary Fellow, she has had work featured by the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, Crate Literary Magazine's cratelit, Camera Obscura's Bridge the Gap Series, and The Portland Review. The Weight of Feathers is her first novel.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Hello everyone,
I hope you're all having a great Saturday. I have series spotlight for you today, and it's for Meredith Wild's Hacker series. The fifth and final book, Hard Love, recently came out so it's the perfect time to pick up all the books and binge read them, which I plan to do during fall break in a couple of weeks.

I already read and reviewed the first book, Hardwired, and I really enjoyed it. This series is romance readers who enjoy the mysterious dominant billionaire plot line, but the smexy scenes are not overdone and there's a strong, solid plot and writing.

Here's the synopsis for Hardwired.

Determined to overcome a difficult past, Erica Hathaway learns early on how to make it on her own. Days after her college graduation she finds herself face to face with a panel of investors who will make or break her fledgling startup. The only thing she didn't prepare for was going weak in the knees over an arrogant and gorgeous investor who's seemingly determined to derail her presentation.

Billionaire and rumored hacker Blake Landon has already made his fortune in software, and he's used to getting what he wants with very little resistance. Captivated by Erica's drive and unassuming beauty, he's wanted nothing more since she stepped into his boardroom. Determined to win her over, he breaks down her defenses and fights for her trust, even if that means sacrificing a level of control he's grown accustomed to.

But when Blake uncovers a dark secret from Erica's past, he threatens not just her trust, but the life she's fought so hard to create.

If you're interested in reading the synopsis for the other four books, visit the Goodreads series page. If you already read books 1-4, here's an excerpt from Hard Love. But I think it's okay to read even though you haven't--there's no big spoilers. It's just a sweet moment between Blake and Erica.

We walked the now familiar path back to our hotel, through the dark uneven streets out of Dublin’s city center. A hint of rain and the lingering scent of the fresh flowers that had been sold on the streets hours earlier filled the air.

I held Blake’s hand, admiring the details of the building architecture framing the old streets, greeting the bright-eyed faces that met us on the sidewalk. It was almost midnight, but our schedule was a mess and I was in no rush to be anywhere as long as we were together. Seeing my old professor again had been a flashback to a simpler time in my life. So much had happened since that first meeting in the Angelcom boardroom that he’d arranged with Max’s initial support. I could have never known then that I’d fall head over heels for the cocky investor sitting across from me…that I’d be his wife. But here we were, bound together as closely as two people could be.

Blake caught me closer to his side and brushed a soft kiss over my cheek. “I like Brendan. I can see why he’s become a friend.”

I smiled. “It seems odd to call him that, but it’s true. He encouraged me to build the business when I had so many doubts. He’s the reason I took the path I did."

“A path that led you straight to me.” He squeezed my hand. “Lucky me.”

I was lucky too. I couldn’t deny it. But I could have never imagined traveling the road I had.

“You’re quiet. What are you thinking about?” he asked.

I blew out a breath and shook my head. “The business, I guess. I can’t help but feel like I…failed somehow.”

He glanced down at me. “You didn’t fail. You learned.”

I scuffed the sole of my boots against the stones as we walked, avoiding his stare.

“I’ve been around the block a few times, you know. You should trust me.”

I smirked. “That’s why I married you, of course. For your business acumen and wealth of knowledge.”

He lifted an eyebrow.

“And your mountains of money,” I added quickly.

He frowned. “You’re trying to tell me you didn’t marry me for my dashing good looks? I might be insulted.”

I pursed my lips, trying to look serious. “If I had to pick one thing that tipped the scales, I’d say it was your exceptional skills in bed. I think that’s where you really excel.”

“Well then”—he laughed, his eyes twinkling—“at least my purpose is clear.”

He gave my ass a firm squeeze. Laughing, I pushed him away as we approached a street performer who was crooning for the barest of audiences. A small group of French-speaking tourists stood nearby, and an older man, dirty from the streets, sat on the opposite side of the street with a sloppy grin.

We slowed to listen as the tourists dispersed. The song was sad, but rich with love—raw and emotional the way he delivered each verse. Blake turned me to him, bringing us chest to chest. Our fingers laced, his breath warm against my hair, he led us into a simple nameless dance. I swayed toward him and closed my eyes, clinging to his muscular frame the way I clung to every magical moment between us.

Straining for the lyrics through the singer’s thick accent, I caught the verses.

When misfortune falls sure no man can shun it.

I was blindfolded I’ll ne’er deny.

Now at nights when I go to my bed of slumber,

the thoughts of my true love run in my mind.

Another moment passed as the young man’s voice faded into the night. The song was a somber one, made light only by his passionate delivery of it. Like so much of life, the pain was what you made it. He’d made something sad beautiful.

I sighed, still tight against Blake’s chest. His body emanated warmth. His heartbeat was a steady reminder of his support, his love—a force that had saved me, changed me, and healed me in ways I’d never thought possible. He tipped my chin up, the glint in his eyes matching the passion in my heart. He parted his full lips, but hesitated, a wordless moment passing between us.

“I’m going to show you the whole world, Erica.”

“I can’t imagine enjoying a minute of it without you,” I whispered.

He stilled our slow dance, tracing a fingertip over my lips, his countenance now serious in a way that threatened my next breath.

“And I’m going to make you fall in love with me all over again. Every morning and every night. In every city and at the edge of every ocean. I’ll remind you why you’re mine and why I’ve always been yours.”

I drew in an unsteady breath, feeling his promise all the way to my soul.

Swallowing hard, I found my voice. “I think you’re on the right track.”

I arched toward him until our lips met. Soft and slow at first, the kiss went deeper, stealing every thought that didn’t revolve around his taste and touch.

We broke apart slightly when a gravelly voice interrupted us.

“Go make love to her, lad, before she changes her mind already.”

Behind us, the man who’d made his home for the night in the entryway of a high-end store offered an imperfect grin, pairing his words of wisdom with a friendly tip of his small bottle of liquor.

I smiled, and Blake, by the dark look in his eyes, seemed to immediately accept the stranger’s challenge.

“I plan to,” he murmured, his tone all velvet and delicious threat. My skin tingled and he took my mouth again with a kiss that promised so much more.

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Happy reading,

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: August 11, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
The third in a sexy romance series from the bestselling author of Saxon and Toxic Girl about the bad boys of the Wind Dragons Motorcycle Club and the women who fall in love with them.

Tracker is everything I’ve ever wanted.

I see him. I’ve watched time change him.

I’ve been patient, but he still hasn’t noticed me. Not the way I want him to. The more time I spend with the MC, the more I understand.

When you want something, you have to take it. You have to fight for it.

And Tracker is more than worth fighting for…

I've only read two other motorcycle club-themed books before Tracker's End--Kristen Ashley's Own the Wind, which I didn't like, and Joanna Wylde's Silver Bastard, which I really like. I'm giving Tracker's End...
I definitely like Tracker's End. So much so, that even before finishing the novel I was already buying the first two books in the series. Tracker's End is the third book in the series, but it can be read as a standalone. But meeting the other characters, especially the previous characters in the first two books, I already knew I wanted to read their stories. Like in other MC books, the Wind Dragons members are like one big family and I love reading about them all and the way they interact with each other.

Lana was great! She's shy, the good girl to her best friend Anna's more bold personality. She's used to always being in the background. But, Lana was hiding as secret--beneath that shy demeanor and unbeknownst to anyone she's an erotic romance writer.  Unfortunately, she's suffering from writer's block. Hoping to get out of it, she agreed to look after the Wind Dragon's President's adorable daughter, Clover. 

Tracker had been eyeing Lana for a long time, but never made his move because he thought he wasn't right for her. Also, he wasn't 100% single then and had this sort of loose relationship with another woman, Allie. But he's single now and he wants Lana. I liked Tracker for most of the novel. He was a sexy alpha, cocksure and rough around the edges, but he was really gentle with Lana. He also had a sense of humor that I appreciated. But there were times when he was pushy for the sake of protecting her and he kind of got on my nerves. However, when I did my research for this book before deciding to pick it up, many reviewers on Goodreads put GIFs of sexy Chris Hemsworth (who is one hunk of a man) as Tracker. Then, I realized even the cover model might even be Chris Hemsworth (see his hair!)... I don't usually picture specific people in my head for characters in books, but Tracker as Chris Hemsworth all the away!

There was always mutual attraction between Lana and Tracker since the day they met--it was at a simmer for a year (and I bet that simmer was seen in the previous two books). After Tracker decided he wanted to pursue Lana, things came to a boil and their chemistry was scorching. There was a strong attraction and lust between them and they said their "I love yous" midway through the novel but...I don't know, you guys... I guess my biggest issue with this novel was that I wasn't quite convinced it was love yet between them when they said it. Also, I thought he overreacted when he learned about Lana being an author. Then, Tracker did something (while they were broken up, but still) in the end that made me lose some of my affection for him.

One of my favorite things about Tracker's End was the author's writing style. It was very... conversational the way she wrote the novel. Reading Lana's characters was like hearing the story from a friend. The author's style helped me to read through the novel very quickly and it kept my attention. If you like MC romance novels, I highly recommend Tracker's End. It's lighter in tone than the other two MC books I previously read, but I was fine with that. I'm really looking forward to reading the previous two books and upcoming books about the other members.