Total Surrender by Rebecca Zanetti Preview & and Giveaways!!!

There are TWO giveaways involved in this post. One is from me and the other is from the blog tour. Bear with me, because I am pretty sure the rafflecopter thing I have done (not the blog tour one) is a hot mess, it’s my first time, I have a feeling this is going to be rough.

a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway


“Madison? I have one week to live. For once, have a heart and let me live out my last days.” It was the closest he’d come to asking the brilliant scientist for anything after she’d started hitting on him when he’d reached puberty. She had a record for playing with cadets, and he’d kept his distance, as had his brothers, he was sure.
“I didn’t raise you to be a quitter. Don’t worry. I have a plan,” she said.
As usual, he’d have to work against her. He shoved a hand through his hair, which had begun to curl at his nape.
“What’s the plan?” If he was going to figure out a way to save his brothers, he had to get out of there.
“For one thing, I’d like to schedule you for another MRI. Your brain is functioning . . . abnormally.” She stared at his forehead as if she could see into his gray matter, her lip curling. “I’m having a PET scan set up for later today, also.”
Fuck, shit, and damn it all to hell. He couldn’t let her discover his special abilities, nor those of his brothers. They’d succeeded for years in hiding the very skills that had kept them alive. But ever since the coma, something new percolated in his mind. Something he apparently couldn’t hide now.
“You’ve been doing scans for months. Nothing is different.”
“The scans from last week are different.” She tapped a red fingernail against her lips.
Yeah. His best guess was that new paths had been forged in his brain during the coma, and a weird tingling in his lobe had begun the previous week. Maybe it was his special abilities increasing in power, or maybe it was something new. Either way, he had to mask the truth.
Two heartbeats echoed from outside the room, so he tilted his head to hear better while trying to appear bored. Dr. Madison had no clue about his heightened senses or his extra abilities, and he needed to keep it that way.
A soldier entered first, followed by a woman in her mid-twenties, who slid out from behind him.
Jory’s breath caught in his throat. Exquisite  Jory’s breath caught in his throat. Exquisite. For once, that word could be applied accurately. She stood to about five foot six in black boots wearing a matching leather jacket. Light mocha-colored skin, curly black hair, and eyes greener than the most private parts of Ireland.
She took one look at him and stepped back.
He moved forward and flashed a smile that made her eyes widen. If he had to scare her to make her leave, he’d do it.
Anybody seeing him in captivity would be killed by the commander after serving their purpose. So he forced sexual tension to filter through the room.
How he could do it, he wasn’t sure. Maybe pheromones and bodily heat waves, and the ability came easier now than it had before the coma. It was a hell of an advantage to use sometimes, and he ignored Madison’s quick intake of breath when he employed it.
“Is she for me?” he asked, forcing his gaze to run over the newcomer’s body and surprising himself when he hardened in response. God. He’d been on a mission and then in a coma for two years before spending time in captivity recuperating. When was the last time he’d gotten laid? Way too long ago.
He’d always liked women, although he’d never gotten close to one. Not really. They were either part of a mission or worked as doctors in the facility, and those certainly couldn’t be trusted.
This one was petite with delicate bone structure and clear, intelligent eyes. Whatever her purpose, she sure as hell didn’t belong in the dismal place. Hopefully she’d turn on her heel and get out since he’d leered at her.
Instead she lifted one eyebrow. Her face flushed. “So that’s him.”
Well, damn. Another angel with the heart of a demon. A pang landed squarely in Jory’s chest. Beauty should never be evil. “Yeah, that’s me,” he murmured, dropping the sensual attack. “Who are you?”
She opened her mouth and shut it as Dr. Madison shook her head. “It doesn’t matter who she is,” Madison muttered. Grasping the woman’s arm, Madison led her over to a computer console. “Get to work, and remember the rules.”
The woman jerked free and stepped away from Madison. She eyed Madison like an opponent in a boxing ring—with wariness and determination.
Jory frowned, and his instincts started to hum. Was the woman a prisoner, like him? Maybe he could gain them both freedom, with her help. She was outside of the cage, now wasn’t she? He smiled.
Dr. Madison glanced back toward Jory, her gaze narrowing. “Leave her alone to work, and I won’t have you tranquilized again.” With that, she allowed the soldier to escort her from the room, and the door nicked shut behind her.
The woman sat at the console and turned toward him. “Piper. My name is Piper.” She eyed the partition. Her voice was smooth and sexy . . . feminine. She guarded her expression well. “They didn’t give me your name.”
Yeah. They wouldn’t have thought to give his name. “Jory.” He really liked the way her tight jeans hugged her curves, and he appreciated the intelligence sizzling in those spectacular eyes. She’d have to be smart to help him escape.
“Why are you here, Piper?”
She exhaled slowly and stretched out her fingers. “I’m here to save you, Jory.”

Stay tuned for my review, and come back for more chances to win!

5 star review

Advance Review – The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston

The Unleashing
by Shelly Laurenston

Available 03/31/2015

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Foremost, this is not a rehash or a continuation of her previous novel Hunting Season. While I admittedly enjoyed that book, it was, to say the least, rough. The premise was something very intriguing though, so I was excited to see she started fresh with it.

From Edelweiss:

With the kind of outrageous humor that made Linsay Sands a bestseller and the larger than life characters that put Nalini Singh on the map, Shelly Laurenston—author of the New York Timesbestselling Pride series—introduces a new paranormal romance series featuring a band of tough-as-nails female fighters and the men who aren’t afraid to stand up to them.

Winging It
Kera Watson never expected to face death behind a Los Angeles coffee shop. Not after surviving two tours lugging an M16 around the Middle East. If it wasn’t for her hot Viking customer showing up too late to help, nobody would even see her die.
In uncountable years of service to the Allfather Odin, Ludvig “Vig” Rundstrom has never seen anyone kick ass with quite as much style as Kera. He knows one way to save her life—but she might not like it. Signing up with the Crows will get Kera a new set of battle buddies: cackling, gossiping, squabbling, party-hearty women. With wings. So not the Marines.
But Vig can’t give up on someone as special as Kera. With a storm of oh-crap magic speeding straight for L.A., survival will depend on combining their strengths: Kera’s discipline, Vig’s loyalty…and the Crows’ sheer love of battle. Boy, are they in trouble.
Oh Shelly Laurenston, how do I adore thee? Over the top, kick-ass heroines? Endearingly sweet alpha heroes rather than alpha-holes? Plenty of action? Fun world building? Shelly Laurenston always provides a wild ride and endearing (and typically hysterical) characters.
Kera isn’t exactly making her life all it can or should be since leaving the Marines, frankly she’s floundering a bit. But she’s got her job and her dog and her life. And then suddenly she doesn’t exactly have her life any more, but she’s unwilling to leave her dog. So Skuld, who has always been a bit of a rebel (she’s got the only clan who isn’t full of pure bred Vikings), brings her along, and drops them both in with the Crows. These ladies are crazy, a band of women who were killed and brought back as hammers for their particular god, but with a motto like “let rage be your guide” what else can you expect. And of course there is conflict with a by the book Marine getting dropped in with a band of no holds barred women living out their second chance at life, but that’s half the fun. This book is action packed, largely angst free, and has a nice action and mystery to counterbalance the romance. Vig is just the kind of sweet alpha Viking hero I love to read about. And can I just say the dog, Brodie Hawaii; she’s the best plot pet EVER. Yes there are probably some mythology issues, and we do just get dropped into this world with very little information (but then so did the heroine), and it is over the top. But I couldn’t put it down, and I’ve already re-read it twice. I LOVED this book. It was fun and already has me hooked for the next in the series, and I can’t wait to see what those other crazy ladies get up to.

5 stars

3.5 star review

Review – The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire

The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire
by Molly Harper

As an aside, I think this cover is atrocious.

This is Molly Harper’s 3rd book in her Half Moon Hollow series (the spin off from her Jane Jameson series), and there’s a nice Christmas novella to reconnect us to this tale’s heroine since the previous full length-novel didn’t feature her at all. Upfront, I really adore Molly Harper because of the way she handles female relationships with characters other than the hero, and their general quirky, feisty, no holds barred personalities.

The sensible beige pantsuit was mocking me.

It was hanging there, in my closet, all tailored and boring. And beige. Yes, wear me to work, and let all of your new coworkers know that you have no personality! It jeered at me. Look at you, all nervous and twitchy. Why don’t you just stay home and work for the Apple store, you big baby?

“That is one judgmental pantsuit.”

I do so love Molly Harper’s heroines. They are the snarky voice inside of my head just dying to get out. They are the girlfriends I have, and the girlfriends I wish to have. Granted, I don’t live in an alternate reality where at the turn of the century an accountant who has become undead sues for equal rights under the ADA (really, if you haven’t already read these series, what are you waiting for?) resulting in the mass outing of the undead population. But based on these ladies, I kind of wish I did. All that being said, I was rather disappointed by Gigi. The too stupid to live meter pinged almost off the scale for almost the first two thirds of the book. It basically comes right in the end, and I suppose I might have been asking for too much from a 20 year old, but still. Don’t be surprised by the New Adult flavor.

Gigi Scanlon is all grown-up, kind of. She’s finishing up with college and all set to embark on a career that her sister is sure to despise, by taking an internship with the Council for the Equal Treatment of the Undead. She’s also got vampire problems of the non-employment related variety. A seriously hot vampire is out to kiss her, or kill her. Don’t worry too much about him; he’s really just place holder fantasy vampire man with little else going on. Really it’s a jumbled mess when it comes to that relationship. Witches, and vampires, and computer programmers oh my. But, Gigi’s sneaky, and snarky, and pretty effing funny. There’s plenty of undead shenanigans, a nice twist of a mystery, and a pretty satisfying conclusion to a “nice-guying” situation.

This wasn’t the best or most satisfying book in either of the two series, but it was an enjoyable enough way to pass a few hours. And it opened up the future for some really entertaining undead shenanigans. I’ve got just a few words for you: See Dick and Jane legislate!

3.5 stars

News, Thoughts and Opinions

1 year Blogiversary

I kid, I kid. I have had a great time this past year. I have read books I would never have been exposed to otherwise. I have actually paid attention to current events in this industry that I never would have paid attention to otherwise. And I have definitely come out of my shell when it comes to sheer communication. Heck, I actually interact on other people’s blogs instead of just lurking.

So thanks to the people who read here. And Happy blogiversary to me!

News, Thoughts and Opinions

A note to publishers, your readers aren’t stupid.

Upfront, I’m not an economist, nor do I hold an MBA. But I’m fairly widely read in areas other than romance, and I did manage to stay awake and pay attention during my econ classes.

Now that my absolute lack of credentials is in place, here’s where my opinions and frustrations come in. Obviously. eBook pricing and publisher costs and all the associated legalese is still a hot topic, and it has been for probably the better part of a decade now. There are plenty of arguments on both sides related to costs and value. Dear Author has been covering this topic for a number of years and the reader discussions have typically been interesting and evenhanded. Some days though are more frustrating than others, and this was one of those days when a comment ostensibly made by the CEO of a major traditional publishing house stepped right into a discussion of whether or not we’re turning into a culture of buying instead of reading.

“The entire price discussion was brought on by publishers by themselves. There used to be a set progression and pricing structure of first releasing a hardcover, for bigger authors. If the reader was a real fan, they would pay the $25.00 for the book at a retailer. Then Amazon started discounting the hardcover edition to around 13.00 and sometimes even below cost. Next came the iPad and Apple insisted that publishers not be allowed to “window” the release of the book. This means that they had to release the ebook edition at the same time as the print book. This helped the huge book in ebook sales and caused the huge decrease in physical sales. In turn, this caused bookstores to closes and the cycle continues. It used to be the voracious romance readers or other category readers wouldn’t mind waiting for the book to come out in mass market. Even though most of the mass market books are now $7.99, they are discounted at Walmart, Target and other retailers too. There was never the complaint heard about overpaying for these books because ebooks weren’t available for $.99-3.99. There weren’t self published books competing for the reader’s attention either. The market has to settle out yet and it will still take some time for publishers to figure out how to handle pricing. But the price of the ebook has no correlation to the price of manufacturing. It has to do with making sure the publisher recoups their investment in the author.

Steven Zacharius
CEO-Kensington Publishing Corp.”

Now obviously, I have no way of knowing if this is the real Steven Zacharias from Kensington, this could be Joe Blow from down the street rabble-rousing just to cause friction and animosity. But it does seem to be the sort of things publishers say, and Steven Zacharias has a history of connecting just like this in the public sphere, so unless I hear differently, I’m going to assume it’s genuine.

And here was my response:

“Except when we bought those hardcovers or even paperbacks, we knew we could share that book with however many like minded friends we had, and could in turn borrow from those friends, splitting the overall costs of the book to a minimal level. And when everyone was done that book could be sold or traded for more books, again reducing the overall costs of reading. Plus there were always used book stores. Ebooks completely changed the sorts of strategies that frugal people employ, and many people are frugal. And if the costs of manufacturing have nothing to do with pricing I’m not sure how else one would quantify “making sure the publisher recoups their investment in the author”. Every single industry I’ve worked in, the cost of manufacturing had a significant impact on every single aspect of pricing and business planning. To discount the costs of manufacturing in business seems somewhat foolhardy.”

To expound on that, the author, or perhaps more truthfully the actual story *IS* in fact a manufacturing cost. There’s no way around that. In order to have a business in publishing you actually have to have stories to sell. Now I’ve never been precisely certain if this is a direct labor or direct materials cost of manufacturing books, an actual economist would probably be a better judge of that, but to dispute that it is in fact not a manufacturing cost is asinine. The reality is that there are publishing costs, and there are costs involved that most readers don’t acknowledge, like the costs to create the different formats, the costs of dealing with all the different vendors that have distinctly different upload and digital management and maintenance systems, and all the additional computer and internet related costs. And this is the eBook costs that are on top of all the things that are done to and for the book regardless of what format it’s going to be published in. Things like paying the author, editing, covers, marketing, and probably myriad other things I can’t even think of. No, ebooks are emphatically not a zero cost item. The other side of the reality is that these are sunk costs either way.

So we as readers are saying we don’t understand why eBooks are priced the way they are. We are saying we don’t necessarily value the convenience factor over the loss of rights that comes with leasing a digital edition rather than purchasing a physical copy. We don’t appreciate the DRM that limits us in ways that are so frequently very frustrating. We say that we aren’t getting the value that we want and are taking our dollars elsewhere.

What are traditional publishers saying? That they can’t afford to do anything about it and that they won’t and that we just don’t understand. And in this particular case we get an inaccurate comment that seems to imply (considering the audience it was with and the publisher in question) that fiction readers in general and romance readers in particular, are too stupid to understand business.

And that’s what frustrates me a good bit of the time when publishers complain. I’m in fact not stupid and I do have at least some understanding of business. And none of the other readers in my life (digital or live) are stupid either, and a good many of them have a fine grasp of business and economics.

So we say, “We don’t value this”, and they say “Suck it up, we’re not going to change”. There’s two basic ways to satisfy the consumer; either give them what they’ll perceive as being valuable OR convince them what you are offering has the value they want or need. Denigrating your consumers and treating them as though they’re stupid is a remarkably poor tactic, particularly when they have so many other options for spending their money. It’s akin to a small child saying they’re going to take their ball and go home just because the other children won’t bow down to arbitrary demands.

Again, I can’t tell you for sure if this particular comment is directly from the real CEO’s fingertips, but it’s certainly in line with other tone deaf comments made in the past. Like this article on the myths vs. realities of self publishing:

“In a perfect world (okay, in my perfect world) there would be a separate section on Amazon or B&N.com for self-published e-books, maybe even separate websites. I truly believe that it would help the reader distinguish the books as well. Readers don’t purchase books based on who the publisher is and don’t necessarily care. As a result, they might not even know if they’re buying a book that was professionally edited versus one that was self-published.”

He got a few things right. I really don’t care if a book was professionally published or edited, I just care if it’s good or not. And again, I’m not stupid. I can read reviews and sample chapters and decide if it’s something I’m interested in reading or not, and I can decide if the price fits my level of interest. I do this with every single other aspect of my consumer life, and my reading consumption is no different.

Steven Zacharius is not the only traditional publishing executive to irk me like this (I honestly can’t think of a single publishing house that doesn’t have something like this attached to it), he’s just the one who did it today, and in a space I wasn’t particularly expecting it to happen. But I’m about damn tired of being treated like I’m stupid.
4 star review

Review – A Christmas Dance

A Christmas Dance
By Alissa Johnson

This was a novella recommendation from Nalini Singh’s blog. It sounded so cozy it seemed a perfect read for what has turned out to be the dreariest day so far this year.

William Renwick, Earl of Casslebury sets out to find a wife with his usual military precision, but the quarry in question manages to continually elude him. Right when he thinks he has her cornered, he finds out her companion has some unusual proclivities. No, it’s not dirty, but it is one of the most humorous and novel openings to a story that I have had the pleasure to read. I simply adore a military man with a sly sense of humor who only thinks he knows what he wants. Patience is a plain woman, of limited means, advanced age for her time period, and even more dismal family lines. Not at all the sort of woman an earl would choose. Fortunately our intrepid hero doesn’t continue to pursue the wrong woman out of stubbornness, and in relatively short order a lovely sort of silly and romantic relationship blooms. Of course it had to bloom in short order, this is a novella, which means that there are very few conflicts than can be capably handled, and in this case it was the BIG SECRET. It isn’t my favorite trope, but with the secret in question, I can understand why it was kept.

A Christmas Dance was an altogether lovely novella that brightened my dreary day right up.

4 stars