Cover Shot! The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I am not familiar with Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series, but the cover for The Republic of Thieves certainly caught my eye.  This is the 3rd book in the series.  I love their costumes, the rolling mist in the background, and the blood dripping off of her blades.  This looks cool!


In stores October 2013


Having pulled off the greatest heist of their career, Locke and his trusted partner in thievery, Jean, have escaped with a tidy fortune. But Locke’s body is paying the price. Poisoned by an enemy from his past, he is slowly dying. And no physiker or alchemist can help him. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmagi offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him – or finish him off once and for all.

Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body – though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean’s imploring – and the Bondsmagi’s mention of a woman from Locke’s past . . . Sabetha. The love of his life. His equal in skill and wit. And now his greatest rival.

Locke was smitten with Sabetha from his first glimpse of her as a young fellow-orphan and thief-in-training. But after a tumultuous courtship, Sabetha broke away. Now they will reunite in yet another clash of wills. For faced with his one and only match in both love and trickery, Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha – or to woo her. It is a decision on which both their lives may depend.

Novella Review: Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare


Title: Beauty and The Blacksmith

Author: Tessa Dare


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:


Take a trip to Spindle Cove in New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare’s gorgeous and sexy Regency romance.

Beautiful and elegant, Miss Diana Highwood is destined to marry a wealthy, well-placed nobleman. At least that’s what her mother has loudly declared to everyone in Spindle Cove.

But Diana’s not excited by dukes and lords. The only man who makes her heart pound is the village blacksmith, Aaron Dawes. By birth and fortune, they couldn’t be more wrong for each other … but during stolen, steamy moments in the smithy, his strong hands feel so right.

Is their love forged strong enough to last, or are they just playing with fire?


This is the second Spindle Cove novella that I’ve read, and I’ve enjoyed both of them.  I think it’s time for me to graduate to one of the full length novels; I don’t know if I should wait for Any Duchess Will Do, which releases at the end of May, or if I should start at the beginning with A Night To Surrender.  I’ll solve that puzzle on another day, but please note that the first three books in the series are all priced until 4 bucks for the Kindle.

Diana Highwood is infatuated with Aaron Dawes, who is  strong, powerful, and impossibly manly. He is also Spindle Cove’s blacksmith.  Diana has been pining for him, most discreetly, since she moved to the village with her family in hopes of easing the severity of her asthma.  She might call it discreet; I would call it stalking.  In order to gain more time with the man of her fantasies, Diana even stooped to breaking anything that she could find just so she could go to the smithy and ask him to repair all of her broken bits and bobs.  Sometimes more than once.  This made me laugh, because I could just picture the burly Aaron raising a quizzical eyebrow upon seeing Diana’s necklaces or bracelets on several occasions.  He either must have thought she was the clumsiest woman alive, or that she had some serious destructive tendencies, and therefore needed a wary eye kept on her.

Their courtship is hot, hot, hot.  I never stopped to think that having soot rubbed into my clothes might be sexy and stimulating.  Silly me!  I did love how their relationship progressed.  Because of their class differences, and because Diana’s mother had heart set on her daughter “saving” the family by marrying a duke or an earl, they keep things on the down-low.  Since Diana made no outward indication that she was attracted to him, and in fact cast her eyes away when they chanced to meet in the village, nobody has the slightest idea that they were sharing steamy moments together by Aaron’s forge.

What I liked best about this novella was that Aaron allowed Diana to think and act for herself.  He taught her how to drive a team of horses, because he thought it was an important skill to every woman to learn, just in case something happened and they needed to get somewhere, or away from something, quickly.  All through the narrative, Aaron is kind and encouraging of Diana’s attempts to be helpful.  She offers to prepare a meal for him, with hilarious results, and instead of mocking her, he patiently teaches her the finer points of starting a fire and making an omelet.  Not quite the gourmet meal Diana had in mind, but tasty nevertheless.  These are things that women from Aaron’s social class would know how to do from childhood.  These are things that servants take care of for women in Diana’s social class, so she is  hopelessly out of her depth when challenged with these tasks.

In addition to the steamy, yet tender romance,  there’s a mystery to be solved as well.  I honestly would never have guessed the culprit, and I found the entire scene in the tavern hysterical.  I would  like to say that I am too dignified to have been laughing out loud, but that would be a lie. 

So, to sum up Beauty and The Blacksmith, this quick, humorous and sexy read has a feisty heroine who knows what she wants and actively pursues it, a handsome, charming, and ripped hero, and a dash of action and mystery to keep the pages turning.  One caution, though – the story ended at 71% on my Kindle.  The rest of the file contained an excerpt from the forthcoming Any Duchess Will Do, the next full length novel in the Spindle Cove series.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Juliana Stone, Author of The Summer He Came Home and Giveaway

Please welcome the incredibly versatile Juliana Stone to the virtual offices today!   Check out what she has to say about The Summer He Come Home, the first book in her Bad Boys of Crystal Lake series.  After the interview, enter for your chance to win a copy! 

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Juliana Stone] I am a total 80’s geek with a mad love for music, movies and writing. I love Nikki Sixx, Jon Bon Jovi, the Philadelphia Flyers and The Walking Dead.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little bit about The Summer He Came Home?

[Juliana Stone] This first book in the Bad Boys of Crystal Lakes series, is a straight up romance, with all the bells and whistles. It’s about friendship, family and love and the hero is pretty much my dream man! The premise, rocker Cain Black returning home for the funeral of one of his best friends sets the stage for the other ‘bad boys’ to return as well. It’s summer and even though tragedy has brought these boys back together, there is always hope!

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Juliana Stone] I was writing paranormal and wanting to branch out and try something different. Because music has always been a huge influence in my life ( I used to front an all girl rock band back in the day!) I wanted to write about a musician. Cain Black, to me, is the love child of Nikki Sixx and Jon Bon Jovi (if that were possible) and I had him in mind from the start. I’m not much of a plotter, but the idea of a group of guys coming home for a funeral of one of their own grew and I just went with it.

[Manga Maniac Café] If Cain had a theme song what would it be?

[Juliana Stone] When I first thought of this series, all the books had titles from Bon Jovi songs, and this first book was originally titled, NEVER SAY GOODBYE. So, when I hear this song it makes me think of Cain.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Maggie?

[Juliana Stone] fierce, protective, damaged.

[Manga Maniac Café] Name one thing Maggie is never without.

[Juliana Stone] Pride.

[Manga Maniac Café] What is Cain’s greatest regret?

[Juliana Stone] I think Cain is at a point in his life where  he’s achieved some success and staring down even greater success. He’s on the cusp of getting everything he’s wanted—or so he thinks. He’s a good son and I think at this time in his life he’s starting to regret not spending enough time with her. I think he’s realized that success isn’t everything and that maybe he didn’t need to go so far away from home to get what he wanted.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Juliana Stone] I read a lot and I think reading really good books by amazing authors always inspire me to try and be better. I’ve a long list but someone like Susan Elizabeth Phillips has that ‘special’ quality to her voice that’s organic. It’s just there inside her. She inspires me.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Juliana Stone] I’m pretty easy to please. I need my laptop and absolute silence. That is all.

[Manga Maniac Café] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Juliana Stone] Easy. The Bronze Horseman. I saw a lot of buzz on twitter etc. about this book and I knew I had it on my kindle so I had a few days after handing in a book and decided to read it. I can’t tell you how amazing this book is because you’ll have to see for yourself. Amazing book and I downloaded the rest of the trilogy and read them all in the space of a week.

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading which would it be?

[Juliana Stone] I distinctly remember borrowing a Nancy Drew mystery from the library when I was in grade 5. The Secret of Shadow Ranch. There was a ghost horse on the cover and I was so into horses that I picked it up. I was hooked and read every Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on, and from there read voraciously. Eventually I moved on to my mother’s romances.

[Manga Maniac Café] What to you like to do when you’re not writing?

[Juliana Stone] I’ve got a husband and 2 kids who keep me busy, but I also enjoy baseball and golf, which I play in the summer months. Music is huge in our family and I still sing in band with my husband on guitar…we gig occasionally. Our son is an amazing guitarist and plays a lot…his band Ravyn’s Fall made it into the top 200 acts on Canada’s Got Talent last year, which was very cool!

[Manga Maniac Café] How can readers connect with you?

[Juliana Stone] As most of you guys know, writing is pretty much a solitary thing but I do spent a fair bit of time online! Readers can find me on Twitter, Facebook and you can find my links at my website

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!


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About the book:

Sometimes the best place to find love is right back where you started…

Falling asleep in a different bed every night has made it easy for Cain Black to forget his past. It’s been ten years since he packed his guitar and left Crystal Lake to chase his dreams. Now tragedy has forced him home again. And though Cain relishes the freedom of the road, one stolen moment with Maggie O’Rourke makes him wonder if he’s missing out on something bigger than fame.

For Maggie—single mother and newly settled in Crystal Lake—love is a luxury she just can’t afford. Sure, she appreciates the tall, dark and handsome looks of prodigal son Cain Black. But how long can she expect the notorious hellion to stay?

The last thing either of them wants is something complicated. But sometimes love has its own plans.