Spotlight: The Marriage Merger by Jennifer Probst and Giveaway!

Today is the release day for the final book in Jennifer Probst’s Marriage to a Billionaire series.  The first book in the series, The Marriage Bargain, will always hold a special place in my heart because it got me reading series romance again.  I really loved that book, and how the author was able to make Nicholas a worthy partner for spirited Alexa.  He was such a pinhead in the beginning of the book!  I did not like him at all, and was getting nervous that I never would.  But enter one mangy dog, and Nick’s attitude on life changed forever.  Alexa was also like a freight train. Once she had a goal, nothing was going to stop her from achieving it. If you haven’t read this series yet, please do consider giving it a go.

 

About the book:

Her sisters have found wedded bliss with their wealthy,wonderful dream men, but not Julietta Conte. She’s stayed on terra firma as top executive of the family’s corporation, La Dolce Famiglia bakery. Work is her passion, and her trendy Milan apartment her sanctuary . . . until Sawyer Wells, a masculine masterpiece in a suit, lures her out of hiding with an irresistible offer: an exclusive partnership with his international chain of boutique hotels.

Julietta’s been burned before—and trusting her brother-in-law’s friend, whose powerful gaze alone has her rethinking the best use of a conference room, is the riskiest proposition. But with a once-in-a-career chance to take the bakery global, will she mix stone-cold business with red-hot seduction?

Giveaway!

Thanks to Gallery Books, I have a copy of The Marriage Merger to giveaway. Just fill out the widget for your chance to win. US addresses only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Links to purchase the other books in the series:

Review: Mist by Susan Krinard

 

 

 

Title:  MIST

Author: Susan Krinard

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

New York Times bestselling author Susan Krinard launches her first urban fantasy series
Centuries ago, all was lost in the Last Battle when the Norse gods and goddesses went to war. The elves, the giants, and the gods and goddesses themselves were all destroyed, leaving the Valkyrie Mist one of the only survivors.
Or so she thought.
When a snowy winter descends upon modern-day San Francisco in June, Mist’s quiet existence starts to feel all too familiar. In quick succession, Mist is attacked by a frost giant in a public park and runs into an elf disguised as a homeless person on the streets…and then the man Mist believed was her mortal boyfriend reveals himself to be the trickster god, Loki, alive and well after all these years.
Loki has big plans for the modern world, and he’s been hanging around Mist for access to a staff that once belonged to the great god Odin. Mist is certain of one thing: Loki must be stopped if there is to be any hope for Earth. But the fight is even bigger than she knows….
Because Loki wasn’t the only god to survive.


Review:

While I love mythology, I have to admit that I don’t know much about Norse mythology. I am far more familiar with Greek, Roman, and Egyptian gods and goddesses, so when I saw Mist, I thought it would be the perfect way to learn more about Odin, Freya, and the rest of the gang.   Did I learn more about them? Yes, but a lot of the details about them, as well as the background information on Ragnarok, felt too much like info dumping, and often left me confused.

Mist believes she is one of the only survivors of Ragnarok, or the end of the world.  She has been entrusted by Odin to guard his spear, but as the years dragged by and still the god did not appear to take back his mighty weapon, Mist lost hope of ever seeing him again.  Turning her back on her Valkyrie duties, she’s decided instead to make Midgard her home.  She believes Asgard has been closed to her forever, everyone she knew dead, so she settles down in San Francisco and tries to make the best of things.  After she’s attacked by a frost giant, however, she realizes that she isn’t the only one to survive the final battle.  To her great dismay, she learns that her boyfriend is actually Loki, and he’s been fooling her in order to get his hands on Odin’s spear.  Now with the real end of the world approaching, she has to put her trust in a battered elf and learn how to make use of the magic she didn’t realize she possessed. 

While I found the info dumping in the first half of the book trying, I loved Mist when something was happening.  The heroine is strong, brave, and determined to save her adopted, even if it means standing up to Loki and his ruthless plans to take over the  world.  She has a handful of allies, and she’s not even sure she can trust them.  Odin’s sons, Vidarr, and Vali, are hardly dependable allies.  Vidarr is aggressive, selfish, and quick to rage, and Vali is a drunk who always caves to his brother’s whims.  Dainn, the tattered elf she found in the park, is hiding terrifying secrets, both about himself and Freya’s plans for Mist.  I liked Dainn, too.  He’s one step away from losing himself to his inner beast, and he has to ceaselessly fight the curse he’s been burdened with.  He’s old, but that doesn’t necessarily make him wise.  A fool to one of Loki’s tricks, he has a grudge the size of  California against his tormentor. 

I kept seeing Tom Hiddleston as Loki  (not a bad thing, right? And what’s this about Loki NOT being in the next Avengers movie??), which gave him a strong image in my mind every time he appeared in the book.  He’s such a fun character, what with his love of causing chaos for his own sick amusement.  Better yet, he has the power to back up his bad boy behavior.  There aren’t many who can oppose him, and Mist’s attempts to track him down and get the spear back seemed hopeless at first.  As she was forced into one deadly encounter after another, though, her powers grew, along with her desire to take Loki down.  I enjoyed the conflicts and confrontations as they clashed time and again.  He’s the kind of character you love, love, love to hate, so I wasn’t overly upset when Mist come out on the losing side more than once.  Like Mist’s, my dislike of Loki had to fester so that when Mist got the best of him, the victory would be that much sweeter.

I thought the pacing was slow at first, and that most of this book was set up for the series.  However, after the giants attack Mist in her home, the story really took off, and it was hard to put down after that exciting sequence of events.  The battle scenes were a blast, and the plot was starting to take off when the book ended.  While Mist didn’t always work for me, I am invested in the characters now and am looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Grade:  This book is hard to grade.  C+/B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Susan Krinard, Author of Mist and Giveaway!

I’m excited to welcome Susan Krinard to the virtual offices today! She’s here to chat about her latest release, Mist, and after the interview, she has an excerpt to share, as well as three copies of Mist for you to win! 

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

[Susan Krinard] Nerd, SF/Fantasy fan, reader, to fellow nerd, living in Albuquerque with three dogs, two cats. Loves angst, redemption, love stories, tough heroines, and good villains.

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

[Susan Krinard] Mist is the story of a centuries-old Valkyrie (who manages to keep herself looking around 28) living in San Francisco and trying to live a normal, mortal life. Hundreds of years ago, when Ragnarok–the final battle of the Norse gods (the Aesir) and their enemies—was about to begin, she and her sister Valkyrie were sent to Midgard (Earth), sworn to protect the gods’ twelve Treasures until Odin came to reclaim them.

But he never came, and Mist finally gives up her duty … until she faces a frost giant waiting for her in Golden Gate Park, and finds an elf in rags who had already “met” the giant, and lost. He tells her that the gods have survived, and are on their way to reclaim the Treasures from their Valkyrie guardians. But Freya, the goddess of love, who acts as the go-between for Mist and the other Aesir, isn’t quite what she seems. And Loki, their mutual enemy and greatest threat to Midgard, has a past with Mist and a legion of Jotunar (giants) on his side.

It’s up to Mist to head the ragtag army of mortals, Valkyrie, minor gods, and one elf in a battle against seemingly impossible odds, or see her adopted world fall into chaos.

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

[Susan Krinard] I’ve always loved mythology. It was like a visit to other worlds, and that was always what I was looking for as a reader when I was a kid. Long before I began writing professionally, I used to tell myself fantasy stories built on mythological concepts. I loved the silly TV cartoons about Thor, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Submariner. I started looking at comics just before my teens, though I was a bit afraid to read them because girls just didn’t do that in those days. And again, Thor was one of my favorites.

After I discovered SF and fantasy, that genre seemed to fit right in with the kinds of mythological stories I loved so much. When I sold my first contemporary paranormal romance in 1993, I made use of the mythology of the shapeshifter, choosing a non-cursed werewolf as my hero.

But I always wanted to write “straight” fantasy. So when I was invited to participate in the anthology Chicks Kick Butt, I turned back to my love of mythology in writing the original novelette, “Mist.” I loved the idea of a Valkyrie heroine, and I’ve always loved tricksters … so I knew Loki, as the antagonist, was going to be a lot of fun. (I wrote “Mist” before the first Thor movie came out, so any similarities, especially between the Lokis, is sheer coincidence!) I also wanted a sort of aesthetic character to contrast with Mist and drive her crazy, so I chose an elf, Dainn, to be her somewhat ambiguous ally. (Not much is said about elves in what Icelandic retellings remain to us, so I could do largely what I wanted with them.)

Norse mythology is very earthy, very direct and “romantic” in the traditional sense, and the Norse gods are very much like humans—selfish, malicious, generous, inconsistent, courageous. I chose to interpret these myths my own way, developing some aspects and discarding others.

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

[Susan Krinard] Straightforward

Courageous

Conflicted

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

[Susan Krinard] Her sword, Kettlingr (kitten) … disguised as a knife she wears on her belt.

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

[Susan Krinard] Authors such as C.J. Cherryh, Lois McMaster Bujold, Andre Norton, among many other female authors (and some male) I’ve been reading since I was about 11. I’m also greatly inspired by nature, and good adventure/SF movies and TV like Firefly, The Avengers, X-men, Fringe, etc. I’m definitely a nerd at heart.

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

[Susan Krinard] My computer (duh)

Peace and quiet, or ambient music

My dogs

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

[Susan Krinard] It’s really, really, really hard to knock my socks off. I’m very picky, and though I will like a book (I’m currently reading The Demi-Monde by Rod Rees), the last book that made me wish I could get the sequel immediately (which, alas, didn’t even happen this year) was last summer: the most recent of Rebecca Cantrell’s Hannah Vogel mystery series set in WWII Germany, City of Broken Glass. Her website doesn’t even suggest she’s working on a fifth book after leaving us with a major cliffhanger!

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

[Susan Krinard] Get out into nature, especially in spring and summer. I didn’t get to do enough of that last year or this due to my constant deadlines. I love to read good SF/Fantasy, historical, and mystery authors. I love a good movie, ranging from old classics to modern super hero films. I try to get out to see friends, another activity I’ve hardly been able to enjoy this or last year.

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

[Susan Krinard] The best way is via my website, www.susankrinard.com. I also have a Facebook page. Right now I still owe readers a few answers to blog comments, but as soon as this book is in (about a week to go) I’ll be getting to that.

Thanks for this opportunity!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you for visiting today!

Here a short excerpt from MIST

“Your manners disappoint me, my dear Mist,” a voice said from the shadows behind the desk. “And so does your judgment. I had hoped you would take warning and flee. After all the plea sure you’ve given me, I had intended to spare you.”

Eric. But it wasn’t Eric’s voice. And the figure that emerged from the shadows was not tall and broad- shouldered, but as lean and wiry as a stoat. He was dressed in black from neck to toe, modified biker’s leathers adorned with flashy metal trimmings and emblazoned with a stylized flame. His eyes were brilliant green, the irises rimmed with orange. His red hair was artfully styled, and his long, handsome face was smiling.

He looked nothing at all like the man she’d come to love. But her heart lurched under her ribs as she realized who she was seeing. Loki, the great Trickster, once beloved of Odin. The child of powerful giants, Loki was one of the few divine beings— not quite a god— who could change his shape completely without relying on illusion or possessing the body of an animal or man. At times he had saved the Aesir, at other times opposed them. His constant scheming had been overlooked until he had killed Baldr, the blind god, with malice and treachery.

The punishment they had set for him had planted the seeds of the Last Battle.

But he had many flaws besides a propensity for duplicity, not least of which was overweening pride and belief in his own ultimate superiority.

And that meant he could be beaten. Not now, not by her, but by those who were coming.

Swallowing her instinctive fear, she faced him squarely. “I’ve come for Gungnir, Slanderer,” she said.

“How charming.” Loki walked past Vidarr without a glance in his direction and stood before her, hands on hips. “You always were impulsive, darling. That was what made you so entertaining in bed, even if your other skills were not”— he looked her up and down— “quite as well developed as I might have preferred.”

Mist swung Kettlingr at his head. Loki sent the sword spinning to the floor with three short words and a wave of his hand, violently twisting Mist’s fingers.

“It’s no use,” Vidarr said, his voice thick with despair. “You can’t beat him.”

“Listen to the Silent One, villkatt,” Loki said. “Like you, Odin’s son has been corrupted by his long residence in Midgard. He let his magic fade over the years. He proved remarkably ineffective in his attempts to resist.” Loki reached for the glass of red wine that stood on the nearby desk and sniffed it critically. “I confess I am a little surprised that you found me so quickly.”

Mist made a show of nursing her twisted fingers. They hurt like the devil, so it wasn’t really a show at all. “You didn’t make much of an effort to hide your trail,” she said.

“Your magic never amounted to much, nor did I have anything to fear from you should you find me . . . as our meeting here has proven.” He took a very small sip of the wine and held it on his tongue. “Amusing, isn’t it, that you thought ‘Eric’ might not be able to handle the truth about you?”

About the book:

 

MIST  By Susan Krinard (Website, Goodreads)

A Tor Hard Cover

ISBN: 978-0-7653-3208-0

On Sale: July 16, 2013

Centuries ago, all was lost in the Last Battle when the Norse gods and goddesses went to war. The elves, the giants, and the gods and goddesses themselves were all destroyed, leaving the Valkyrie Mist one of the only survivors.

Or so she thought.

When a snowy winter descends upon modern-day San Francisco in June, Mist’s quiet existence starts to feel all too familiar. In quick succession, Mist is attacked by a frost giant in a public park and runs into an elf disguised as a homeless person on the streets…and then the man Mist believed was her mortal boyfriend reveals himself to be the trickster god Loki, alive and well after all these years.

Loki has big plans for the modern world, and he’s been hanging around Mist to get access to a staff that once belonged to the great god Odin. Mist is certain of one thing: Loki must be stopped if there is to be any hope for Earth. But the fight is even bigger than she knows.

Because Loki wasn’t the only god to survive.

Purchase links

Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, BooksAMillion,

Powells, Walmart, Overstock

About the author:

Susan Krinard has been writing paranormal romance and fantasy since 1993, when a published author friend read a short story she’d written and advised her to try writing a novel. She sold her first novel to Bantam Dell, and has since written for Bantam, Penguin, Harlequin/ Silhouette, Harper Collins, St. Martin’s Press., and Tor Books. Her output includes twenty-three novels and twelve novellas and short stories.

Susan’s love for Science Fiction and Fantasy began when her fourth grade teacher read Madeleine L’Engles’ A Wrinkle In Time to the class. She attended her first Star Trek convention at the age of 14. Since then she’s continued to read voraciously and has attended numerous local and World Science Fiction conventions. Her first major urban fantasy series is the “Midgard” series, beginning with Mist, a July 2013 release from Tor Books.

Susan and works in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband Serge Mailloux—whom she met because of a mutual love of the works of writer C. J. Cherryh—dogs Cagney, Nahla and Freya, and cats Agatha and Rocky. www.susankrinard.com

Giveaway!

Thanks to Susan and Tor Books, I have three copies of Mist, as well as some awesome Mist bookmarks, up for grabs!  Just fill in the widget to enter. US addresses only, please

a Rafflecopter giveaway