Review: Secrets and Sins: Gabriel by Naima Simone

 

Title: Secrets and Sins: Gabriel

Author:  Naima Simone

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Twenty years ago, Leah Bannon’s beloved Uncle Richard vanished without a trace. Leah, now a private investigator, begins to suspect it was murder. When she reopens the cold case, Gabriel Devlin—-the man she loves but can never have—-inexplicably stands in her way.
Only four people know the truth about Richard’s mysterious disappearance—-Gabriel and three childhood friends…who have all sworn to take that secret to the grave. But a hidden enemy wants those shocking secrets brought to light…even if he has to kill to make it happen.

After experiencing an unimaginable loss two years ago, Gabriel refuses to put himself through the pain of loving someone who could be gone in an instant. But as he thwarts Leah’s investigation at every turn—-both to keep his friends’ pact, and to keep her safe from danger—-the sexy PI makes it impossible for him to protect his secrets. Or his heart…


Review:

Funny story about this book.  I don’t usually read romantic suspense, and in fact would probably consider the genre one of my least favorites.  They can get so intense, as the heroine is making her best effort to solve whatever mystery she’s found herself a part of, and people usually die.  Not on the scale of, say, a zombie apocalypse or other worldwide disaster novels, but let’s face it.  Unless you believe in conspiracy theories or have an overly vivid imagination, odds are the dead aren’t going to rise from their graves any time soon.  Now, emotionally, mentally deranged killers?  They are everywhere!  Or so the news sites would have us believe, so I, for one, find suspense novels more frightening than zombie books.  There may very well be a murderer living next door!  Right?  So I go into these novels with a different mindset, and I find them scary, because, well, unhinged people are SCARY!

Leah thinks she’s got her life back on track after being shot in the line of duty and being forced to resign due to her injuries.  She’s now a PI, and while she doesn’t have a sense that she’s helping the community, or serving and protecting the public like she always dreamed she would, at least her job equals a steady paycheck.  When she receives a mysterious letter, she starts to suspect that her uncle Richard, who has been missing for 20 years, was murdered.  Determined to discover the truth, she begins investigating his disappearance, unaware that she will put the lives of everyone she loves in danger. 

While that sounds pretty intense, a murder investigation is nothing next to her complicated relationship with Gabriel.  She’s known him since she was a young girl, has been hopelessly in love with him since she was sixteen, and has watched, helplessly, as he spiraled into depression after the tragic deaths of his wife and son.  Attempting to help him pick up the scattered pieces of his life is a thankless task. Gabriel suffers from an understandable and suffocating case of survivor’s guilt.  A witness to the accident that killed his family, he was forced to watch as every devastating detail played out in front of him.  He can’t allow himself to love again, because then he will lose the last piece of his family that he’s clung to for the past two years.  He’s afraid of forgetting them, and he’s afraid of betraying them.

While Leah’s investigation into the cold case kept me engaged in the story, what I really enjoyed about Secrets and Sins: Gabriel was the interaction between the protagonists. They are both wounded, Leah because she’s lost the career she loved and Gabriel because he lost his family.  His reluctance to start a relationship with Leah was heartbreakingly convincing; he’s already lost one family and it nearly destroyed him.  What would happen if he lost Leah, a woman who isn’t content to sit on the sidelines and watch life pass her by.  She needs to be in the thick of the action, protecting not only her family and friends, but also her clients.  If she sees an injustice, she is driven to right it.  I loved that about her; I believed beyond a doubt that she would have given her life to serve the greater good when she was on the force.  That need and desire to help people is what gave her a sense of fulfillment.  After she had to retire, she felt, like Gabriel, as though she had nothing to live for.  This pair needed to get together in order to heal their broken hearts.

I don’t want to spoil the mystery behind Richard’s disappearance, other than to say that maybe Leah would have been off to have let this sleeping dog lie.  The man she loved and admired so much revealed a dark and shocking personality, one that robbed every last bit of innocence from her.  Not only was Richard hiding terrible secrets, but so were her four best friends.  These are horrid, soul-leaching secrets that changed all of them irrevocably.

After reading this book, I have to re-evaluate my perception of romantic suspense.  Yes, there were a couple of scary moments when the deranged killer almost got the better of Leah, but the pacing, characters, and romance more than made up for them.  And I’m pretty sure most of my neighbors aren’t really insane murderers.

Grade:  B, leaning to B+

Review copy purchased from Amazon

Interview with Lorenda Christensen, Author of Never Deal with Dragons

Please welcome special guest Lorenda Christensen to the virtual offices this morning.  Lorenda is here to chat about her new Carina Press release Never Deal with Dragons.

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

[Lorenda Christensen] The editing cruelty begins early, eh? Let’s see…

Accountant by day, writer by night, lover of all things Pepsi and chocolate. And purple.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Never Deal With Dragons?

[Lorenda Christensen] I consider NDWD as a lighthearted urban(ish) fantasy filled with dragons. Sort of a Stephanie Plum meets Dragonriders of Pern with a dash of The West Wing. Confused yet? ?

Never Deal with dragons is a first person story featuring Myrna Banks, a lowly secretary who used to be on the fast track to management, until her ex-boyfriend stole some classified work papers and got her demoted. Now, her ex works for the most powerful dragon lord in the country, and he needs her help.

She takes the job, but only because it gives her a shot to redeem herself and get back on the corporate ladder.

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

[Lorenda Christensen] I’m a sucker for any television show that shows the inner workings of places that normal people would likely label boring. I remember watching a show featuring a female mediator at a law firm, and I thought that it would be really fun to have a heroine in the same type of job, but in an unreal, over the top environment. Huge, scaly, perpetually hungry dragons fit the bill perfectly. ?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Myrna?

[Lorenda Christensen] spunky, ambitious, sarcastic

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Trian had a theme song, what would it be?

[Lorenda Christensen] Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone (the Eva Cassidy version is the best)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Myrna is never without.

[Lorenda Christensen] muck boots

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Trian’s bathroom?

[Lorenda Christensen] hair gel – Trian’s not one to care about his appearance. Myrna’s lucky if she can get him to run a comb through his hair. Luckily, good genes keep him looking attractively tousled instead of unkempt.

Fake mustaches – Trian might be a spy of sorts, but he’s got better tricks than this up his sleeve.

Plane tickets – Myrna finds it completely adorable, but Trian gets a little antsy when he’s forced to take cross country trips inside a piece of flying metal.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Myrna’s greatest regret? [Lorenda Christensen] Wearing her favorite white blouse to work. (Some of those stains will never come out.)

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

[Lorenda Christensen] I adore Katie MacAlister, Darynda Jones, and Janet Evanovich. I love how they can be funny and move the plot along at the same time. I’ve done my best to do the same.

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

[Lorenda Christensen] Childcare, a power outage, and a long-lasting laptop battery. ?

Seriously, I have so much trouble focusing. Facebook, Twiiter, email…ALL THE PRETTY THINGS. It’s just so hard to stare at that blinking cursor when the story isn’t flowing, and put words on the page anyway. I’m like the dog from Disney’s Up that keeps—squirrel! But I feel like I’m slowly getting the hang of this self-discipline thing. We’ll see how long it lasts.

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

[Lorenda Christensen] I cannot get enough of Karen Chance’s Cassie Palmer series. Hunt the Moon was just fantastic, and I am about to gnaw my own fingers off waiting for the release of Tempt the Stars. It’s a wonder I can still type.

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

[Lorenda Christensen] If we’re going way back, I fondly remember Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion series. But if you’re talking about the romance genre, I’d have to go with Jude Deveraux’s The Maiden. A friend of mine loaned me this on a school bus ride. It was my first exposure to the romance genre. What an introduction! It had all the classics—alpha male, a touch of fantasy, and insta-lust. Be still my middle school heart.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Lorenda Christensen] Like most writers, my first love was and always will be reading. Otherwise, I’m hanging out with my husband and kids. And I’ll admit I’m more than a little addicted to Aaron Sorkin or Joss Whedon productions, so there’s more than a little bit of television in there.

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

[Lorenda Christensen] Because I’m still working a day job, Twitter is the place I feel most comfortable popping in and out of. My handle is @LorendaC

I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorlorendachristensen

And if you want to read a lot of boring information about me, my short stay in India, and a bit more about my writing, you can visit my website at http://lorendac.com

Thanks so much for the interview – it was a blast.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Purchase link:

About the book:

Consoling a sobbing dragon and serving pig buffets are just part of the job for Myrna Banks. Working for a mediation firm, it’s her job to get humans compensated for damages caused by the dragons who now rule. But her “typical” day is interrupted by Trian Chobardan, an old flame who sneaked out of her bed two years ago, taking her heart and a handful of classified documents with him.

Myrna would love to show Trian the door, but he’s been sent by North America’s reigning dragon lord for help negotiating a truce with a powerful rival to avert war. Myrna agrees to help, even though she’ll be stuck with Trian as a partner.

As the two work together, Myrna finds Trian to be surprisingly supportive—and still irresistibly attractive. Though her brain tells her not to forget his betrayal, her body feels differently. When they learn the enemy dragon lord is planning something no one could have imagined, Myrna has to learn who she can trust before she loses not only her heart, but her life.

Review: Seducing the Demon Huntress by Victoria Davies

 

Title:  Seducing the Demon Huntress

Author: Victoria Davies

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Trick or treat, survive until the night’s complete.

For most people Halloween is a night of candy, costumes and revelry but for Kerilyn, it’s the most dangerous night of the year. Hailing from a line of demon hunters, Kerilyn’s family has long been hated by the ruling lords of the Netherworld. On All Hallow’s Eve, the deadly brothers are released from their realm, along with their subjects, the spirits and the demons. Like every good hunter, Kerilyn fortifies her home with spells and tricks to keep her safe. But there is one man no spell can protect her heart from.

Arawn, Lord of the Spirits, has appeared at her fence every Halloween for years. While the handsome lord may turn her head with his heated looks and seductive words, Kerilyn knows without a doubt that should she ever invite him in, her life would be forfeit. But when his brother, the Lord of the Demons, kidnaps her niece, Kerilyn must leave her sanctuary. Now she has a choice. Can the man she’s dreamed of for years be trusted, or will the spirit lord help his brother destroy her?


Review:

I have enjoyed many Carina Press novellas, and Seducing the Demon Huntress is no exception.  There are times when I want a faster read, and I turn to this publisher for a quick fix.  I like the variety of stories they publish, so I can always find something to pique my interest.  I was in the mood for a PNR, and after interviewing the author, I wanted to give Seducing the Demon Huntress a read.  I liked this novella, and would read more by Victoria Davies in the future.

Kerilyn is a demon hunter.  She comes from a long line of demon hunters, much to her sorrow.  Her entire family has been picked off, one by one, and now she’s alone.  As darkness falls on All Hallow’s Eve, she retreats into her house, fearful that she’ll be facing this frightening night by herself.  The demons and spirits of the Netherworld are out to get her, and this is the night when Abaddon and Arawn, the rulers of the Netherworld, can freely pass into this realm.  For years, Arawn has waited outside her gate for her to let him in, and for years she has harbored a terrible secret. She’s infatuated with Arawn, and she can’t help but steal a few moments with him every year.  She resists his requests to open the gate and invite him in, but she doesn’t know how much longer she can.  When disaster strikes, and her niece is kidnapped by Abaddon, she has to leave the sanctuary of her wards to rescue Sarah.  Leaving her yard will spell her doom, but Kerilyn has to try to save her only living relative.

I liked this story a lot. I found the forbidden relationship between Arawn and Kerilyn compelling.  Kerilyn has been drawn to Arawn for years, but exploring a relationship with him will quickly lead to a painful death. Her family has been killing his subjects for years, and it’s impossible to think that he, or his subjects, could ever put that aside.   Yet when she is forced to leave the sanctuary of her home, he is quick to accompany her.  He knows her lame disguise won’t fool anyone, and he’s afraid that facing his brother by herself will sign her death sentence.  I loved how quickly Arawn was willing to follow and defend her, and that he was willing to confront his brother to keep Kerilyn and her niece safe.  I was totally convinced that he was willing to kill his brother, or die trying, to protect her.  I also understood her reluctance to trust him.  How could she know for certain that he wasn’t part of a ply to get her to Abaddon, so they could kill her together.

In addition to being a hot love story, the battle with Abaddon is an exciting, no-holds-barred fight.  If you’re in the mood for a read with a kick-ass heroine, you don’t have to look further than Seducing the Demon Huntress.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Christyne Butler, Author of The Maverick’s Summer Love

Please welcome USA Today bestselling author Christyne Butler to the virtual offices this morning! Christyne is here to chat about her latest release, The Maverick’s Summer Love.

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

[Christyne Butler] Wife-mother-daughter-sister-friend-veteran and writer who loves books, the Red Sox, country music, Elvis movies and dreams of Texas ranch living!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Maverick’s Summer Love?

[Christyne Butler] THE MAVERICK’S SUMMER LOVE is book 2 in a six book continuity, “Montana Mavericks: Rust Creek Cowboys” from Harlequin Special Edition. Six books, six different authors that are all sent in the same small ranching town of Rust Creek Falls, Montana that is recovering after suffering a terrible flood.

My book is about Dean Pritchett, a small town carpenter who comes to town to help with the rebuilding, mainly the town’s medical clinic and the elementary school and the last thing he expects is to fall in love! Shelby Jenkins is a young mother who has been burned by love in the past so she is wary of getting involved with someone, especially when she has plans of her own, but you know what they say about the best laid plans…

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

[Christyne Butler] Actually, this idea came to me from the editorial staff at Harlequin Special Edition. The staff comes up with the ideas for all six books in the series, from character names to plot devices, and then once the individual author gets her hands on her book she works with the editor to make any suggestions or changes and then off we go! Of course, the secondary characters in the book are usually our own creation as we often have people from the other books in series so it’s fun to work with the other authors, especially when you are writing their hero and heroine in your book!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Shelby?

[Christyne Butler] Devoted, cautious, and loving

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Dean had a theme song, what would it be?

[Christyne Butler] Dean does have a theme song and it’s “You Had Me From Hello” by Kenny Chesney. The moment he sees Shelby…that’s it! He’s a goner! In fact, I create a playlist for each of books that usually included about a dozen songs, including a theme song for my hero and heroine, as well as other songs that tell their story and then I play it over and over again as I write the book.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Shelby is never without.

[Christyne Butler] Her cell phone. Which is pretty typical for a 22 year old woman, but because Shelby is a single mother she is always in touch with whoever is watching her daughter, be it her mother or the child care center, while she’s working.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Dean’s bathroom?

[Christyne Butler] A girly magazine (this guy reads the classics and loved Jane Austin!), cologne (he prefers the simple soap and water method!) and messy towels

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Shelby’s greatest regret?

[Christyne Butler] Oh, goodness, that’s a toughie…I think she regrets getting so wrapped up in wanting to be popular and have the “right” boyfriend while back in high school. While the end result is her little girl, who she loves very much, I think the choice of the boy she dated is something she regrets which is why she’s a bit wary of men now.

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

[Christyne Butler] Oh, my critique partners are a terrific group of talented writers who have helped me so much over the years when it comes to brainstorming to revisions on all of my books and my local Romance Writers of America chapter, the New Hampshire RWA chapter, have been with me from the very beginning when I got “The Call” and I’d be lost without with support and love! 

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

[Christyne Butler] Oh, for the last couple of books it would be my husband’s recliner, Tootsie Rolls and the dark of night!

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

[Christyne Butler] I would have to say Roxanne St. Claire’s BAREFOOT IN THE SUN, it’s book #3 in her “Barefoot Bay” series and all of the book have been just wonderful reads! Fun, sexy, contemporary romances with terrific heroines who remind me of me and my friends…loved it!

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

[Christyne Butler] The classic “Little Woman” by Louisa May Alcott. A childhood favorite that I still read from time to time when the mood strikes!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Christyne Butler] I love watching the great musicals of the 40?s and 50?s and Elvis movies, hunting at yard sales and flea markets for any number of treasures from memorabilia of women who served in the military to old books. I love to read and go shopping too!

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

[Christyne Butler] My website is brand new so please visit me at www.christynebutler.com and I am always on Facebook so please friend me at www.facebook.com/christynebutler. I do blog with other Special Edition authors at www.specialeditionauthors.com

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Purchase links:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mavericks-summer-love-christyne-butler/1114668394?ean=9780373657575

About the book:

USA TODAY bestselling author Christyne Butler visits Rust Creek Falls, the setting for the popular Montana Mavericks: Rust Creek Cowboys continuity, in a sexy and emotional romance that is sure to  capture readers’ hearts! Rust Creek Ramblings  

The Great Montana Flood has brought all sorts of interesting menfolk to Rust Creek Falls. At the Ace in the Hole, they’re all talking about hunky out-of-towner Dean Pritchett. They say the green-eyed carpenter from Thunder Canyon is in town to help rebuild the elementary school. But we’ve got the inside scoop! 

Rumor has it that Dean has a special interest in our  Shelby Jenkins. Yes, that Shelby Jenkins-the single mom  who found herself in a "family way" back in high school. She’s been fending off the town gossip forever, but Dean actually got into a fistfight trying to defend her honor! Sweet Shelby fears  his love won’t last. Just what are your intentions, Mr. Maverick?

Waiting on Wednesday–Moonkind by Sarah Prineas

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

ZOMG!!!!  I just discovered that Sarah Prineas has another book due in stores in December! I loved Winterling, and I have Summerkin on my wish list.  I just added Moonkind to the list, so it looks like I have some awesome MG novels to look forward to at the end of the year.

 

Moonkind, the sweeping conclusion to Sarah Prineas’s fantasy adventure series that started with Winterling, follows Fer, the Lady of the Summerlands, as she attempts to inspire change in the face of great danger and resistance.

Fer, the Lady of the Summerlands, has made a critical mistake. In a world where oath-binding magic runs deep, the consequences of a broken promise can be nothing short of dire. But Fer has not broken her promise-she’s remained true to her vow to rule with honesty and without the disguise of a glamorie. Yet as a young leader, she’s naively trusted others to honor such an oath, too-one that many are unwilling and unable to keep.
With the cost of countless broken oaths weighing heavily on the land, the realm has begun to change. A stillness is creeping in, bringing a silent death to the place that Fer holds so dear. Only Fer has the power to fight it, but she may have to rely on the help of the one boy whose very nature is to deceive her.
Sarah Prineas, the award-winning author of the Magic Thief books, shines in this mesmerizing series conclusion. Praised by Kirkus Reviews for her lush and sensuous prose, Sarah once again takes readers on a breathtaking journey to a land of wildling transformations, magical poultices, shape-shifting troublemakers, and enduring friendships that cannot be broken.

 

What are you waiting on?

Cover Shot! Skulk by Rosie Best

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?

Strange Chemistry unveiled the cover for Skulk, their October 2013 release by Rosie Best.  What do you think of it?  It’s about shifters, so I’m interested just because of that!

 

       

To some, Meg Banks’ life might look perfect – she lives in a huge house in West London, goes to a prestigious school and has famous parents. Only Meg knows the truth: her tyrannical mother rules the house and her shallow friends can talk about nothing but boys and drinking. Meg’s only escape is her secret life as a graffiti artist.

While out tagging one night, Meg witnesses the dying moments of a fox… a fox that shapeshifts into a man. As he dies, he gives Meg a beautiful and mysterious gemstone. Soon Meg realises that she’s also inherited his power to shift and finds an incredible new freedom in fox form.

She is plunged into the shadowy underworld of London, the territory of the five warring groups of shapeshifters – the Skulk, the Rabble, the Conspiracy, the Horde, and the Cluster. Someone is after her gemstone, someone who can twist nature to his will. Meg must discover the secret of the stone and unite the shapeshifters before her dream of freedom turns into a nightmare.

Interview with Lynn Raye Harris, Author of Hot Pursuit

Please welcome USA TODAY bestselling author Lynn Raye Harris to the virtual offices this morning.  She’s here to chat about Hot Pursuit.

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

[Lynn Raye Harris ] I’m a Southern girl who loves romance novels, hot military guys, kitty cats, and shopping — especially when shoes are involved.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Hot Pursuit?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] Evie Baker’s luck just ran out. Thanks to an ex-partner with organized crime ties, she’s lost her restaurant, her money, and nearly all her self-respect. Forced to return to her hometown and work as a shampoo girl in her mother’s salon, she doesn’t think her luck can get any worse.
But then someone starts shooting at her, her sullen baby sister is suddenly missing, and the high school heartthrob who stole her heart—and her virginity—is the only man big enough and bad enough to help.
Captain Matt “Richie Rich” Girard can’t afford to get involved. He’s already on the verge of a court-martial after a Top Secret op gone wrong, and he’s been ordered to stay out of trouble while he’s home for his sister’s wedding.
But when Evie’s ex-partner turns up dead, staying out of trouble is the last thing on Matt’s mind. He failed Evie once before; he can’t fail her again. If he’s going to protect her from a killer, and find her sister before time runs out, he’ll have to risk his entire future—and both their lives—to do it.

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

[Lynn Raye Harris ] Boy, that’s the million dollar question!  Hot Pursuit took a lot of time and thought, because it was my first suspense and I actually began it around 2005.  I wrote many versions of it over the years because I believed in this story and these characters!  I think Evie came to me first.  She was down on her luck, but not completely defeated.  And then there was David, her ex-partner who stole everything.  That came from a real life incident that happened to someone I knew.  She’d started her own restaurant and had this suave boyfriend who went in on it with her.  And then one day he took the money out of the safe, in front of her, and told her there was nothing she could do about it.  Well, David is a bit more sneaky than that, but that’s where that idea came from!  Matt had to be a military guy because in 2005 that was my life.  My husband was in the Air Force and I was surrounded by military.  I love a man in uniform!  Mr. Harris hasn’t worn one since 2007, but they’re still in the closet.  I’m thinking about asking him to put one on… ;)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Evie?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] Determined, loyal, and kind.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Matt had a theme song, what would it be?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] It’s cheesy but how could it not be Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out For a Hero?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Evie is never without.

[Lynn Raye Harris ] Her determination to land on her feet!  She’s not always certain she will, but when she starts to feel sorry for herself, she gets mad and vows she will come out on top in the end.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Matt’s bathroom?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] A bottle of cologne (who has time for that?), Crest Whitestrips (really, he’s a badass, he doesn’t walk around with strips on his teeth), and male skin care products (he’s too manly for that, though I’ve implored Mr. Harris for years to moisturize — you can guess the answer).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Evie’s greatest regret?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] Not keeping in better contact with her baby sister as she grew up.

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

[Lynn Raye Harris ] Oh my, I’m not sure!  I get inspired by many things.  Reading, watching a movie, listening to a friend tell a story, people watching.  Everything goes in the churn in my head and you never know what will come out!

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

[Lynn Raye Harris ] I must have a computer.  Not a longhand writer at all, though I can in a pinch.  I also like to have quiet, though sometimes music is good.  And knowing there are readers waiting for the result?  That’s the best thing of all. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on Hot Pursuit?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] Oh man, there are so many!  Like I said before, this book was written and rewritten a few times, so there were many distractions.  One of the most major distractions was me.  I wasn’t sure it was good enough.  I doubted myself and questioned and second-guessed and wondered if anyone besides me would ever want to read this story.  The response thus far has been overwhelming and vindicating too.  An agent added to my doubts when she told me the book wasn’t dark or gritty enough and wouldn’t sell to a big house.  The book never went out on submission, so I won’t know if that’s true or not — but the readers seem to enjoy it just the way it is!  I wrote it because I love stories just like this.  Very romantic adventures with action and suspense but lots of romance too.

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

[Lynn Raye Harris ] A Week To Be Wicked by Tessa Dare.  I *love* a bookish spinster heroine and the handsome rake.  So so much.  Oh, when Colin begins to see that Miranda is intriguing beneath those glasses?  Melts my heart.  I could not put that book down!

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

[Lynn Raye Harris ] That’s kinda hard, because I’ve always been a reader, but when I was a kid my favorite books by far were the Black Stallion books by Walter Farley.  I devoured them.  And I wanted to write stories just like that! 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] Watch good things on TV with my husband, shop for shoes and clothes and the occasional antique, hang out with friends, and go for drives in the countryside.  We live in the South and there is so much to see.  Just last weekend we saw a gorgeous plantation home called Rattle and Snap. 

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

[Lynn Raye Harris ] You can find me on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLynnRayeHarris
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/LynnRayeHarris
Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2973925.Lynn_Raye_Harris
Wattpad:  http://www.wattpad.com/user/LynnRayeHarris

Come say hello!  Also, I love my newsletter subscribers.  Once a month, on the first, I give away a $50 gift card to Amazon, B&N, or Kobo to one lucky subscriber.  All you have to do is subscribe!  I only send emails when I have a new release, and I do not share your address with anyone.  I don’t believe in spamming you when you’ve trusted me with your information!  And hey, you might win a gift card!

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

Purchase links:

coming soon!

 

About the book:

The last man she ever wanted to see…

Might be the only one who can save her…

Things are about to get HOT in the bayou!

Evie Baker’s luck just ran out. Thanks to an ex-partner with organized crime ties, she’s lost her restaurant, her money, and nearly all her self-respect. Forced to return to her hometown and work as a shampoo girl in her mother’s salon, she doesn’t think her luck can get any worse.

But then someone starts shooting at her, her sullen baby sister is suddenly missing, and the high school heartthrob who stole her heart—and her virginity—is the only man big enough and bad enough to help.

Captain Matt “Richie Rich” Girard can’t afford to get involved. He’s already on the verge of a court-martial after a Top Secret op gone wrong, and he’s been ordered to stay out of trouble while he’s home for his sister’s wedding.

But when Evie’s ex-partner turns up dead, staying out of trouble is the last thing on Matt’s mind. He failed Evie once before; he can’t fail her again. If he’s going to protect her from a killer, and find her sister before time runs out, he’ll have to risk his entire future—and both their lives—to do it.

Things are about to get HOT in the bayou!

About the author:

Bio:  USA Today bestselling author Lynn Raye Harris burst onto the scene when she won a writing contest held by Harlequin. The prize was an editor for a year — but only six months later, Lynn sold her first novel. A former finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award, Lynn lives in Alabama with her handsome husband and two crazy cats. You can learn more at her website, www.LynnRayeHarris.com.
For more information about HOT PURSUIT, visit Lynn’s book page at http://www.lynnrayeharris.com/books/hot-pursuit/.  Buy links will be posted there as soon as the book is live on all the retailers’ sites!

Graphic Novel Review: Bluffton by Matt Phelan

 

Title: Bluffton

Author: Matt Phelan

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Matt Phelan, graphic novelist extraordinaire, presents a rollicking tribute to vaudeville, small-town dreams, and Buster Keaton as a boy.

In the summer of 1908, in Muskegon, Michigan, a visiting troupe of vaudeville performers is about the most exciting thing since baseball. They’re summering in nearby Bluffton, so Henry has a few months to ogle the elephant and the zebra, the tightrope walkers and — lo and behold — a slapstick actor his own age named Buster Keaton. The show folk say Buster is indestructible; his father throws him around as part of the act and the audience roars, while Buster never cracks a smile. Henry longs to learn to take a fall like Buster, "the human mop," but Buster just wants to play ball with Henry and his friends. With signature nostalgia, Scott O’Dell Award–winning graphic novelist Matt Phelan visualizes a bygone era with lustrous color, dynamic lines, and flawless dramatic pacing.


Review:

I don’t think that I’ve read anything by Matt Phelan before I picked up Bluffton, but now that I’m aware of him, I’ll be trolling his backlist.  I wanted to read this book because I saw that it took place in Muskegon, Michigan in the early 1900s.  That’s the only reason.  I didn’t realize until I started reading it that it’s about Buster Keaton’s childhood.  Doh!  While I have heard of Buster Keaton, I didn’t really know anything about him, so this book was informative as well as a visual treat. 

Bluffton is the story of Henry Harrison and his magical summers in Bluffton.  Once the vaudeville performers, led by Joe Keaton, begin vacationing in the sleepy town near his home in Muskegon, Henry’s life will never be the same.  He quickly makes friends with Buster, but along with their friendship is envy and a longing for a more exciting life.  Henry is envious of Buster’s talent and the constant attention sent his way.  Buster, on the other hand, longs for a more normal childhood.  He wants to play baseball, and if asked, which he never is, he’d prefer to be a civil engineer than a vaudeville star.  When pretty Sally shows an interest in Buster, the boys friendship is put to the test. 

This was a perfect summer weekend read.  It’s an engaging coming of age story, and it manages to sneak in some history, seamlessly and compellingly, at the same time.  Henry has to come to terms with his normal, though happily ordinary, life, while watching Buster’s star blaze brighter and brighter. The only thing  that keeps Buster from being unlikable is that he, unlike Henry, has no real choice for his future.  His father has honed his stage presence since he was a young boy, and nothing is going to change the course of his life.  Not the authorities seeking to take Buster away from his parents under the suspicion of abuse, and certainly not Buster himself, who longs to have a say in who he is and what he does. 

Bluffton is a heartwarming, slice of life story, about two boys and their unlikely friendship.  It’s a gentle story of summers gone by, and wistful dreams for the future.  While Henry woefully lacked any talent for entertaining, he made his dreams come true in his own way. 

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher