Friday, 21 July 2017

Review: Taffy by Suzette D. Harrison

The Blurb
Welcome to the sleepy, all-Black southern town of Bledsoe, where Colored residents proudly declare “ain’t nothing white here ‘cept milk and teeth.” It’s 1935. A press-and-curl costs a quarter. Records play on phonographs. And a telephone is a luxury.

Meet twenty-three-year-old Taffy Bledsoe Freeman. She doesn’t need her gift of second sight to know her “mockery of a marriage” to a man twice her age is far from good. After a seven-year exile Up North, Taffy travels down-home to the small town bearing her family’s name, plotting her escape from a marriage not worth the price of a press-and-curl. She only needs to retrieve the son her husband banished to her parents’ care, before boarding a train headed for the Windy City filled with liberty and opportunity. Instead, Taffy stumbles into Roam Ellis: her long-lost love and the man Taffy meant to marry.

Twenty-six-year-old Roam Ellis is a “broad-shouldered, hard-bodied” Pullman porter riding the rails coast-to-coast, outrunning the bitter heartbreak Taffy left behind. Now, after a seven-year absence, Roam is face-to-face with his first love. Anger ignites. Old wounds are exposed. But when pain subsides, passion rises, thrusting Taffy and Roam into a hurricane of buried secrets and lies.

Reminiscent of the works of Bernice McFadden, Bertice Berry, and Andrea Smith (The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner) this Historical Romance is bathed in southern lore and sweeping imagery. Lyrical and powerful, Taffy is a story of restoration and redemption that you won’t soon forget. 

My Review
This is one of the most beautiful stories I’ve read in a very long time. The vividness of the writing was amazing and the tale was told descriptively without being overbearing or boring. The story held a plethora of emotion, dealing head on with issues that made me angry to those which gave me hope.

Taffy was an incredible woman who’d had to tolerate hardship which had made her grow up quickly. As the story progressed her strength, beauty, and good humor shone through although things had been immensely hard for her since she was sixteen.

I adored Roam. Absolutely loved him. He was everything a man should be, including forgiving. His younger self had a hard time dealing with what had happened with Taffy and I couldn’t blame him. His older self was perfection. A strong black man in a time when it was difficult to be one. He knew who he was as an individual, had goals, and worked to reach them, all while loving life (sometimes a little too much). His sense of humor, intelligence, and passionate nature made him one fine man.

The paranormal aspect of the book was intriguing. Taffy’s gift of sight and the story behind how she received it added strength and depth to the story and to the town of Bledsoe.

The one thing I didn’t care for was the head hopping in the book. It took a while to get used to. Other than that minor flaw I found it to be a fabulous novel. Absolutely stunning.

I give this book five out five  train shaped chocolate bars.

I purchased my copy from Amazon UK

Here's the Amazon US link.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Spotlight and Giveaway: Sheik Defense by Ryshia Kennie




GENRE:   Romantic Suspense

Ryshia Kennie will be awarding a signed copy of Sheik's Rule to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

BLURB:

Tossed overboard, Ava Adams had been left for dead, drifting at sea.  But security specialist Faisal Al-Nassar was determined to find her.  He owed her father a great debt and had never forgotten the connection he and Ava had once shared.  Yet after rescuing Ava he discovered she barely remembered him.

Amnesia had left Ava uncertain of who had tried to kill her.  She did know, however, that Faisal was a man she could trust.  The sheik's embrace was familiar and enticing...and possibly even more dangerous.  How could she succumb to feelings for her protector when what she didn't know could get them both killed?



Excerpt:

It was less than an hour since Faisal had received that fateful call that Ava was missing. Now he looked long and hard at the face of the young woman who lay dead on the cold steel of the examining table. Her hair was long, almost to the middle of her back. She was brunette and a few years older than Ava. After that, the similarities stopped.

He’d insisted on viewing the body in the hope that the similarities would somehow give him a much-needed clue. Now he didn’t know why he’d bothered. It was depressing and frightening all at the same time. Looking at her frightened him for Ava and saddened him for the deceased woman’s family.

“She may have been asphyxiated,” the coroner said.

He listened as the coroner went into some detail on why he believed that could be a possibility.

“Her eyes are bloodshot.  Classic sign of asphyxiation.”

A chill ran through him like none he’d felt before. He’d stood in this position many times but never had he felt the haunting fear that the person before him could have been someone he knew and loved. He almost took a step back. That thought combined with the cold steel and sharp smell of disinfectant that depersonalized death was almost too much. This wasn’t Ava but someone had loved her.

Regret and anger snaked through him as he thought of how this young woman had died unnecessarily, how it could just as easily have been Ava on that slab. The reality was as disturbing as it was unthinkable. Whether they could prove it or not, he was sure that this woman had died of unnatural causes. It wasn’t right or fair. And he knew it happened much too often. He’d thought of adding a branch of investigations geared solely to violence against women. He’d seen too much of it in his work. But now wasn’t the time for such considerations.

Five minutes later, Faisal was heading across the hospital parking lot to a charcoal 1967 mustang he kept in Miami for his rare visits to the city. He slipped behind the wheel and leaned back against the plush leather, the keys in his lap, his arms crossed and a frown on his face.

A woman who supposedly should have been Ava was dead. The fact that the decedent had been in Ava’s room and Ava was still the registered patient, indicated that Ava was the target. Now there were questions that needed to be answered and quickly.

Where had Ava gone? He tamped down the panic he’d felt at losing her when he’d only just found her.  He had to stick to facts.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

The Canadian prairies are my home and while the prairie landscape is blessed with beautiful blue skies, it also has four seasons that come on full throttle – especially winter and because of that I like to travel.  Often on those trips, stories are born. 

In 2011 I won my city's writing award, and was the first romance writer to do so since its inception.  In 2013 my romantic suspense was a semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Awards.  Published in historic romance and paranormal romance as well as romantic suspense, in February 2016, my first novel was published by Harlequin Intrigue.

There’s no lack of places to set a story as my imagination and the too long prairie winters may find me seeking adventure.  The memories of those worlds both near and far, the words of a stranger, the furtive look one man gives another, often become the catalyst for a suspenseful story with a deadly villain and an intrepid hero and heroine who must battle for their right to love or even their right to live. 

When not dreaming of other stories, I can be found scouting out a garage sale or two, dusting off my roller blades or just thinking about the next adventure that may be miles away or in my own backyard. 




Buy Links:






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Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Prah, Constantine, and Baryeh Reviews: Snow White Red-Handed (Fairy Tale Fatal Mystery #1) by Maia Chance


We are officially in the midst of summer and I hope you’re all enjoying the gorgeous weather as much as I am. This month we went the way of a mystery. Nothing hard core and gloomy, more of a cozy mystery. I’m looking forward to seeing what Constantine and Baryeh thought of the story. Remember to head over to their blogs once you’re done reading my review.


The Blurb
Miss Ophelia Flax is a Victorian actress who knows all about making quick changes and even quicker exits. But to solve a fairy-tale crime in the haunted Black Forest, she’ll need more than a bit of charm…

1867: After being fired from her latest variety hall engagement, Ophelia acts her way into a lady’s maid position for a crass American millionaire. But when her new job whisks her off to a foreboding castle straight out of a Grimm tale, she begins to wonder if her fast-talking ways might have been too hasty. The vast grounds contain the suspected remains of Snow White’s cottage, along with a disturbing dwarf skeleton. And when her millionaire boss turns up dead—poisoned by an apple—the fantastic setting turns into a once upon a crime scene.

To keep from rising to the top of the suspect list, Ophelia fights through a bramble of elegant lies, sinister folklore, and priceless treasure, with only a dashing but mysterious scholar as her ally. And as the clock ticks towards midnight, she’ll have to break a cunning killer’s spell before her own time runs out…
 
My Review
There are four components that came together in this book to make it work: the historical aspect, fairy tale elements, mystery element, and has the tiniest bit of romance. The best part about the novel was that when I finally figured out who the killer was, it was too late (for me as an amateur sleuth) because the book was almost done. For that I give Ms. Chance a standing ovation.

The characters were very likable, but there were a couple of situations in the story that had me asking questions about if such a thing would actually happen. These moments didn’t have anything to do with the fairy tale aspect of the story. All the activity and intrigue in the book made reading the story fly quickly.

Ophelia is a scrapper and a survivor. A strong character who went to great lengths to help her friend, and eventually herself. Her backstory is fascinating and the things she applied from her past to help solve the mystery added a fascinating depth to the story, especially in a horseback riding scene- I loved it.

I give this story four out of five cottage shaped chocolate bars.

Ms. Chase gave me a real, hold in my hot little hands paperback for an honest review.


 The book can be purchased at Amazon.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

My Harlequin Experience - The Kinkiness Within


Okay. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not an erotic writer. My face burns up just thinking about it. It took me a long time to even decide to write sex scenes into my novels. To be honest I’m more about the romance within a novel than the sex, but sometimes the characters making love helps to emphasize the romance. For me the characters dictate the story and in my last five novels they told me that they wanted to get it on.

I’ve been talking about my initial drafts of A PerfectCaress. Once I lightened the story, and actually put in a conflict, my very patient editor at the time told me that some of the scenes were more kinky than romantic. Now this shocked me because I’m one of the least kinky people you will ever meet.
It turned out that I may not be kinky, but Lanelle’s best friend Toshia was. Let me tell you a little bit about Toshia – she’s one of the funniest characters I have ever written in my life. The woman had no filter and I loved that about her. I had actually based her and her job on one of the women I used to work with years ago. This woman was honest, funny, sexually aware, and didn’t give a rat’s ass about what anyone thought about her because it didn’t matter. Even to this day I think about her and laugh.

In drafts one and two of A Perfect Caress, Toshia throws and anniversary party and tricks Lanelle into inviting Dante to the party. Toshia has a Candy Shop  at the party (we’re not talking Twizzlers and gummy bears here- aka sales of sex toys) and things get a bit kinky in the scene- at least verbally.


In the third draft I toned down Toshia’s wild ways and remove the Candy Shop – a scene that I found both hilarious and embarrassing for Lanelle. Toshia is still funny and a bit unfiltered in the published version of A Perfect Caress, but she isn’t as scandalous as she used to be.


Can kinkiness be romantic?

Monday, 3 July 2017

Cover Reveal: The Record of Wrongs (Redemption County #1) by Sharon Kay

Title: Record of Wrongs
Series: Redemption County #1
Author: Sharon Kay
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Coming: August 1, 2017
Do your past mistakes define you forever?

Cruz Zaffino leaves prison after a serving a decade for a crime he didn’t commit. With his life all over the internet, there’s nowhere he can go to avoid his illicit past. Involved with one of Chicago’s toughest gangs, he made enemies bent on ruining everything he has. Nowhere is beyond their reach.

Every day, Rosie Marlow lives with the scars from the worst mistake of her life. It’s the one secret she has in her tiny, gossip-fueled town. When Cruz walks into her bar, covered in tattoos and dangerous attitude, she’s captivated. His rough sexuality makes her melt, and his harsh experience calls to her own broken soul. But her story is private and buried so deep, she’s never had the strength to share it.

She’s the unexpected light to his darkness, yet he knows she’s hiding something. Sultry summer nights in each other’s arms weaken her resistance and taunt her with the idea of forever. But as his adversaries draw close, can she love him enough to let him go?


Record of Wrongs Excerpt © Sharon Kay 2017

Rosie dropped her own hand on top of Cruz’s, tracing small circles on his skin. “You make it sound so easy. How do you do it?”
“I know that if they won’t look past the surface, then I don’t have time for them. They’re not gonna change.”
“You’re right. People are pretty set in their ways. Whether that’s good or bad.” She slowly moved her fingers up his arm, tracing his tattoos. Her touch was tender yet so tempting. Did she realize the effect she had on him? “Didn’t mean to get in tizzy over that. What Thalia said about those guys, it could be nothing.”
“I might like your tizzies.”
“I can’t hide my emotions too well, I guess. Not a good poker face there.”
Turning back onto the main road, Cruz hit the gas and chuckled.
“Though if I was playing for real, then watch out.” She made a sweeping motion in the air in front of her face. “No one knows what I’m thinking.”
What did she just say? He swung a glance to her. “You play poker?”
“Sure do.”
“For real?” That was the last thing he’d expect from his little country girl. “Where’d you learn?”
“Shane taught me.” She twisted in the seat so she was nearly sideways, facing him. “After my accident, I had months of recovery where I just sat around. I read tons of books and watched movies, but I got to a point where I needed something else to do.”
“No shit.”
“So he taught me, and when I got good enough, he’d bring friends over and we’d all play. For chips, of course. I had no income.”
“You keep surprising me, Rosie-girl.”
“Why? Do you play?”
“Yeah.”
“Well then, there you go.” She made a satisfied mm-hmm. “That may be the first thing we have in common.”
He laughed, because she was right. Well, almost. He had a hunch about one other thing, which he hoped to pursue ASAP.
“Wanna play?” she asked softly, reaching to idly caress his bicep.
They were almost at her driveway and her hands were magic on his arm. He’d played poker when everything he had was on the line, both before prison and inside. “I’d have to go easy on you.”
She sucked in a breath. “You did not just say that. Cruz, I’d whip you so bad, this truck would belong to me.”
“Oh really?” He turned into her drive. “Those are fighting words.” He turned to find her eyes locked on him in a playful challenge.
“Damn straight they are.”
He slid his hand from her knee to her smooth thigh. “All right. You’re on, pretty girl.”
“Yes!” She straightened as they neared her house, and he instantly missed her hands on him. “Hmm. What should the stakes be?” She tapped finger on her chin.
He reached the front yard and threw the vehicle in park. Fucking hell. He knew exactly what the stakes should be. He got out and met her as she hopped out and stood by the truck.
“Money? Dinner?” She tilted her head as he moved in close. “Something else?”
He laid both hands on the metal behind her, caging her in his arms. “Something else.”
“Yeah? Like what?” Blue eyes flashed with a delighted spark. “What do you feel like losing?’
His body had set its cross hairs on Rosie the day they met. He brushed one hand along her shoulder, stopping at the straps of her doubled-up tank tops. He tugged gently. “Our clothes.”
Sharon Kay writes award-winning fiction and can never get enough reading time. She loves winter and black coffee, and is endlessly inspired to write kick-ass heroines and the men strong enough to capture their hearts.

Sharon lives in the Chicago area with her husband and son, and one weekend the idea for her Lash Watchers and tough leading ladies formed in her head, refusing to stay quiet until she put pen to paper. Her characters tend to keep her up at night, as they banter, fall in love, and slay endless varieties of power-hungry demons.

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