Book Review: The Mona Lisa Speaks, by Christopher Angel (+ Giveaway!)

Leave a comment to be entered to win an autographed copy of THE MONA LISA SPEAKS! (US/Canada only.)

the-mona-lisa-speaksAnother thriller I couldn’t put down. I feel like I’m being spoiled!

It didn’t take me long to get into this book, a tightly written story that kept me captivated all the way through. Canadian computer security expert Robertson Ross foils a robbery attempt on art gallery owner Mathilde, and in the process, meets the woman of his dreams. Except it’s not that easy. Love never is, and Mathilde has more problems than she lets on.

Right from the start, I was delighted with this book. It’s so nice to read a book where an American isn’t the protagonist. I could cheer on a fellow Canadian (fictional though he may be). And I could imagine myself in the Louvre, wandering the halls, seeing the art, and wishing I too could see the expansive storage of artifacts and art.

Reading this story felt like a delicious indulgence—art, Paris, daring thefts, computer geekery, and true love, all rolled up in one. The author’s direct first-person narrative sucked me into the story so quickly, and in sections I almost didn’t dare to breathe, wondering how Rob might get himself out of the sticky situations he found himself in. I was never quite sure how things would turn out.

This is a fantastic read, and I was delighted to see a bonus chapter of a followup book. Now, to wait until that one is released!

And here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite!

She loved the quiet of the nights and the early mornings, especially Monday nights, because Tuesday was a day without the hordes of the great unwashed, and instead brought the blessed ministrations of her admiring and careful staff.  They treated her as she felt she should be.  They fussed over her, admired her, and appreciated her true beauty.  If only they could be convinced to hide her away from public display – keep her in private for only those true cognoscenti.  That would be the life.

But, who was this strange fellow?  She didn’t recognize him, and she knew all of her usual caretakers.  And, why was he alone?  What was that strange sheet placed over the case?  She was always glad when the case was opened, but this didn’t feel like a breath of fresh air to her.

Was this more of those strange and invasive tests?  What did they call them – x-rays and infrared scans?  She dreaded the strange, unpleasant coldness of the examining tables, and the cold, technical feel of the examination itself.  Yes, Leonardo had dreamed of machines like this, but surely not to have them trained on her!  The secrets of her beginnings were nobody’s business but hers, and Leonardo’s.  And if he had taken them to the grave, then that is the way he wanted it.  If he had painted over her veil, it was because he thought that suited her better, and showed off her beauty all the more.  Why reveal an imperfection the master had hidden?

What is that in this man’s hands – a new frame?  What?  NO, IT CANNOT BE! Oh, Leonardo, what sort of betrayal is this of your greatest work?

She saw herself – in somebody else’s hands.  It was like looking down on oneself from death.  There was her smile, the smile that had beguiled millions, but she suddenly found herself as the viewer, not the viewed.  And it terrified her.

This was not Leonardo’s great work.  This was a travesty, a transgression of everything that was right in the world.

Wait, he dared touch her?  What was this madman going to do?

About the book:
Brilliant and confident Robertson Ross, an outdoorsy Canadian computer expert hired to update the Louvre’s security system, falls in love with Mathilde, a classic beauty and cultured Parisian art dealer.  But, when he discovers that she’s deeply in debt to Jacques Renard, a powerful and dangerous lord of the French criminal underground, he has to embark on the risky and thrilling theft of the Mona Lisa to save her – and their unborn child.

Rob’s biggest problems actually begin after he successfully steals the Mona Lisa and replaces her with a perfect copy.  Facing betrayals and double-crosses at all turns, he needs every bit of his intelligence, cunning, courage, and computer skills to stay alive and reunite with his true love.  This is a story of thrills, danger, and a Canadian from the frozen North falling in love with Paris.

Buy the book:
Released May 6, 2013 by Over The Edge Books

ISBN-10: 1484166957
ISBN-13: 978-1484166956

Get in touch with the author:
Twitter @filmangel and @MonaLisaSpeaks

Christopher AngelAbout the Author:
Emmy nominee Christopher Angel was inspired to write The Mona Lisa Speaks, his first novel, during a visit to the Louvre, where he dared ask, “why is the Mona Lisa so famous?”  The answer, in part, surprised him: few know that the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911, and went missing for two years.  Wondering what happened in those intervening two years launched his own fictional update of the story.

A professional film-maker, Christopher’s most recent movie as a writer/director is This Is Not A Test – a satire about domestic terrorism that aired on Showtime. He was nominated for an Emmy for his work on James Cameron’s documentary, Expedition Bismarck, and won a student Academy Award for his short film, Mr. October.  Christopher received his B.A. from Yale University, where he was a Humanities major, and an MFA in film-making from the University of Southern California.


Book Review: The Greenland Breach, by Bernard Besson (+ Giveaway!)

Leave a comment below to win an ebook copy of THE GREENLAND BREACH. The contest is open internationally!

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THE GREENLAND BREACH is the latest thriller out from digital-first publisher Le French Book, and it’s a doozy. The world is gripped in dramatic climate change as the Arctic ice caps are breaking up, threatening Europe and the East coast of the United States and Canada with a tidal wave that will drown their cities. Greenland is splitting apart, the ice is melting, and an environmental catastrophe is the catalyst for international rivalries and espionage as geological research firms and scientists barter and bicker with governments and economic development corporations.

We start in on the action immediately with a gruesome murder, and a ship, the French vessel belonging to Terre Noire, desperately trying to escape destruction during a massive tsunami. The damaged ship is a linchpin in the narrative, and its claustrophobic and dangerous atmosphere kept me holding my breath with each plot twist.

When we meet John Spencer Larivière, the head of a small spy organization called Fermatown and a former French intelligence officer, we’re already wondering what he’ll be thrown into, given the state of the world. He accepts a contract to look after the headstrong daughter of a Canadian-based corporation, North Land, and ends up in Greenland, his organization embroiled in a double-crossing game of espionage where nothing is certain.

By halfway through the book, I was utterly enthralled, and I read as fast as I was able, anxious to follow the twists and turns of the plot, and figure out just who was behind the chaos and destruction. The ending did not disappoint (and that’s all I’m going to say about that, because I would hate to inadvertently spoil the book for someone!)

I wasn’t familiar with Bernard Besson prior to reading THE GREENLAND BREACH, but now that I have, I’m going to be crossing my fingers and looking for translations of his other work (look up titles, etc. to insert here). And if there aren’t any, then I know I’ll be writing to Le French Book to beg them to translate another!

The Arctic ice caps are breaking up. Europe and the East Coast of the Unites States brace for a tidal wave. Meanwhile, former French intelligence officer John Spencer Larivière, his karate- trained, steamy Eurasian partner, Victoire, and their bisexual computer-genius sidekick, Luc, pick up an ordinary freelance assignment that quickly leads them into the heart of an international conspiracy. Off the coast of Greenland, a ship belonging to the French geological research firm Terre Noire is in serious trouble. The murder of an important scientist jeopardizes evacuation. Is it related to the firm’s explorations? Is the rival Canadian-based scientific and economic development corporation, Northland Group, involved?

On land another killer is roaming the icy peaks after researchers, while a huge crevasse splits Greenland apart. What are the connections? In the glacial silence of the great north, a merciless war is being waged. Global warming and subsequent natural disasters hide international rivalries over discoveries that will change the future of humanity. This riveting thriller by prizewinning novelist and former top-level French intelligence officer is like a French-style James Bond team walking into Ronald Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow, but much closer to home.

Praise for The Greenland Breach 
“Original and harrowing.” –Cosmopolitan

“This is a remarkable book that is fascinating, frightening, instructive and fun all at once.” –Inter-Ligère

BESSON_DRFP_NB1About the Author
Bernard Besson is an expert in economic intelligence, a former senior chief of staff for the French intelligence services, and a prizewinning thriller writer. He lives in Paris.

world-renowned-translator-Julie-Rose 200About the Translator
Julie Rose is a prize-winning, world-renowned translator of major French thinkers, known for, among other works, her acclaimed translation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, which was published by Random House in 2008.

Facebook: LeFrenchBook
Twitter: @LeFrenchBook

Buy links:

978‐1-939474-94-0 (Kindle)
978-1-939474-95-7 (epub)


Review: The Many Lives of Miss K, by Jean-Noël Liaut (+ Giveaway!)


Giveaway: Post a comment below to be entered to win a paperback copy of The Many Lives of Miss K., courtesy of its publisher, Rizzoli ExLibris. Winner will be drawn at the end of the tour.

Toto Koopman. Quite honestly, someone I’d never heard of before, and I felt like I should have known about her already.  (And I’m a bit annoyed with myself that I didn’t!)

I was utterly staggered by the range of her experiences, her cosmopolitan life… She seemed to have done and experienced more than a dozen people would in the same number of years.

For me the most interesting sections of the book were her concentration camp experiences, and how it affected her afterwards. It’s a miracle that she didn’t become one of the dead, and that she managed to do so well afterwards. I was also interested in her bisexuality, and that she maintained a lesbian relationship for a considerable portion of her life, seeming to have not a care in the world as to whether anyone approved.

Actually, my only complaint about the book is that it wasn’t longer. I could have read about her for another couple of hundred pages at the very least. Fortunately, there is a bibliography included with the book, and I have a feeling that I’ll be reading more about Miss K. and her contemporaries very soon.

About the book:

She is the most fascinating woman you’ve probably never heard of. Toto Koopman (1908 – 1991) was the world’s first celebrated bi-racial model, who was known for her work with Vogue and Chanel; acted as a spy for the Resistance, served time in WWII concentration camps; and played a pivotal role in launching the career of Francis Bacon.  She was fluent in five languages, led a jet set life in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, associated with royalty, politicians, artists and other bon vivants. She was openly bisexual and beholden to no one, vowing never to marry.

She was affectionately known as Miss K and here is her story.

THE MANY LIVES OF MISS K: Toto Koopman – Model, Muse, Spy explores the allure of a freethinking and courageous woman who, fiercely protective of her independence, was sought after by many but truly known by very few. Author Jean-Noël Liaut chases his enigmatic subject through the many roles and lives she inhabited, both happy and tragic. Though her beauty, charisma, and taste for the extraordinary made her an exuberant fixture of Paris fashion and café society, her intelligence and steely sense of self drove her toward bigger things, culminating in espionage during WWII, for which she was imprisoned by the Nazis in Ravensbrück. After the horrors of the camp, she found solace in Erica Brausen, the German art dealer who launched the career of Francis Bacon, and the two women lived out their lives together surrounded by cultural luminaries like Edmonde Charles-Roux and Luchino Visconti. But even in her later decades, Toto remained impossible for anyone to truly possess.

Toto Koopman is a new addition to the pantheon of iconoclastic women whose biographies intrigue and inspire modern-day readers. Like her contemporaries Lee Miller or Vita Sackville-West, Toto lived with an independent spirit more typical of the men of her generation, moving in the worlds of fashion, society, art, and politics with an insouciant ease that would stir both admiration and envy even today. Sphinx-like and tantalizing, Toto conducted her life as a game, and each page of her biography conveys audacity and style.

ISBN: 978-0-8478-4129-5 / EBook – ISBN: 978-0-8478-4142-4

Pub Date: SEPTEMBER 3, 2013 / $24.95 US & CAN / 256 pages + 8 page b/w photo insert, by Rizzoli ExLibris, an imprint of Rizzoli New York.

jean-noel.liautAbout the author:

Jean-Noël Liaut is a French writer and translator. His books include biographies of Givenchy and Karen Blixen, and translations of works by Colin Clark, Nancy Mitford, Deborah Cavendish, Dutchess of Devonshire, and Agatha Christie.

Visit his website:






Review: The Silk Romance, by Helena Fairfax

Leave a comment on the post to be entered into a draw for a free ebook of The Silk Romance! Do you like romances set in France? Draw will take place at the end of the tour.

Let me say straight off that this book was deliciously different, and yet, comfortably similar, to many other romances. And it was the differences that made this story fresh, and kept me reading past my bedtime…until I finished the book! Usually I don’t do that, but I was enjoying it so much that I absolutely had to.

What did I love? I loved that it was set in Lyon. I loved the silk factory, and that Jean-Luc was a racing driver turned businessman. And I loved that he and Sophie had a history. Stories where the couple have already parted once always seem a bit more intense to me. There’s always a harder uphill climb to the finale, old skeletons to put to rest on top of whatever the current tribulations happen to be. And Sophie and Jean-Luc have more than a few of both.

This is a great read. A good story, a believable and charming romance, and utterly delightful. Check out the blurb and the excerpt below!

The Silk Romance Blurb!

The Silk RomanceJean-Luc Olivier is a courageous racing driver, a hero to millions, with the world before him.  Sophie Challoner is a penniless student, whose face is unknown beyond her own rundown estate in London.  The night they spend together in Paris seems to Sophie like a fairytale—a Cinderella story without the happy ending. She knows she has no part in Jean-Luc’s future.  She made her dying mother a promise to take care of her father and brother in London.   One night of happiness is all Sophie allows herself. She runs away from Jean-Luc and returns to England to keep her promise.

Safely back home with her father and brother, and immersed in her college work, Sophie tries her best to forget their encounter, but she reckons without Jean-Luc.  He is determined to find out why she left him, and intrigued to discover the real Sophie.  He engineers a student placement Sophie can’t refuse, and so, unwillingly, she finds herself back in France, working for Jean-Luc in the silk mill he now owns.

Thrown together for a few short weeks in Lyon, the romantic city of silk, their mutual love begins to grow.  But it seems the fates are conspiring against Sophie’s happiness.  Jean-Luc has secrets of his own.  Then, when disaster strikes at home in London, Sophie is faced with a choice—stay in this glamorous world with the man she loves, or return to her family to keep the sacred promise she made her mother.

The Excerpt!

Jean-Luc smiled.  “I tell you what,” he said, his head tilted to one side as he eyed her pleasantly.  “You answer one more question of mine, and then I’ll answer any questions of yours you want.  No holds barred.”

Maybe if Sophie hadn’t drunk the wine, she wouldn’t have been so relaxed.  Maybe her wits would have been sharper.  As it was, her answer came totally unguarded.

“Okay, I agree.” She sank back into her chair, brows lifted.  “What’s your question?”

Jean-Luc leaned forward slowly, the smile gone from his face.  With a shock, Sophie saw all trace of amiability leave him.  His eyes were hard as sapphires.

“I’ve asked you this question once,” he said, the words travelling low and swift over the table between them.  “And you didn’t answer.  Four years ago you left me alone in a hotel room.  Why?”

Sophie gasped.  “That’s not a fair question.”

The vehemence in her voice caused the waiter to jump and the coffee cups to rattle in his hands.  He cast a quick, startled glance in Sophie’s direction before pushing the coffee hurriedly into place.  Sophie sat up straight in her chair.

“And, actually, I prefer not to talk about the past,” she said.  The tone of her voice held a glacial iciness.  Her brother Jack would have known straight away it was pointless continuing the conversation.  Jean-Luc, as she was fast coming to realise, was not so easy to manipulate.

“I think my question is perfectly fair.”  He spoke mildly, but there was no escaping the steel in his voice.   “And more than that, I think you owe me an explanation.”

“I don’t owe you anything.”  Sophie picked up her cognac and took a gulp that left her spluttering.  Her undignified choking failed to move him.  He waited until she had finished and then continued implacably, his eyes never wavering from hers.

“I don’t agree.  That night you seduced me.  You pretended to be experienced, a groupie even, and all the time you were a virgin.”

“Keep your voice down,” Sophie hissed, looking round anxiously at the nearby diners.  Her face flamed scarlet, the bright blush a dead giveaway.  “And anyway, I did not seduce you.”

“I’m right, aren’t I?  You were a virgin.”  His eyes narrowed to dazzling slits.  “Do you think it’s a nice feeling, to be made use of?”

“I wasn’t making use of you,” Sophie protested.

And then it finally hit her.  With a shock of belated realisation, she finally understood how Jean-Luc must have construed the events of that night.  She stared horror-struck into his piercing gaze.  Then her cheeks began a slow burn of mortification.  He must have thought she’d had a one night stand to lose her virginity with a celebrity.  When she remembered that she’d told him afterwards she was engaged, too, she hung her head.  What must he have thought of her?

“That’s not how it was,” she whispered.  She twisted her napkin in her lap.  She hadn’t thought he would find their night together important.  His previous girlfriends were so glamorous, she thought she’d be one on the list, soon to be forgotten.

She lifted her eyes to his.   “It wasn’t how it seemed.  I didn’t think…”

The coldness in his expression brought her to a halt.

“You didn’t think,” he echoed, with an icy quiet.  “You didn’t think that I might actually have a heart.  That I might care.”

Sophie looked down at the creased napkin, a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.  There was nothing she could say.  It was true. She hadn’t thought he’d care.  In fact, she’d assumed him incapable of feeling.  She’d thought he was as heartless as the hangers-on who surrounded him.  When she dared to raise her eyes again, she found Jean-Luc hadn’t moved an inch.  His eyes had never left her, their hardness unyielding.

She pushed her untouched coffee away.

“I’d like to go home now,” she said quietly.  Her request sounded childish, even to her own ears, but she could no longer endure his justified anger. He continued to look at her for several long seconds.  Then he shrugged.

“Very well.  I will call for my car.  But understand this: I’m not asking you for an apology. I’m asking you for an explanation. And you still haven’t answered my question—so we will continue this discussion on the way home.”

“Oh no, I…” Sophie half rose out of her seat, but her protest came too late.  Jean-Luc had pushed back his chair and was already striding to the lobby, mobile phone in hand, to make his call.  The waiters hurried to the table and began silently clearing away.  Sophie looked so miserable that, for once, they forgot all attempts at discretion and were staring at her with open sympathy.  Her bent head was still fixed on the napkin in her lap.  How to tell Jean-Luc that she had run away because otherwise she would have felt bound to him, caught up in his iron will with no chance of escape?  She had made a sacred promise to her mother to look after her father and brother.  She had to leave him; there was no other choice.  There was no way she could ever combine her world with his.  The looks the waiters threw her were full of compassion, but it was no use.  Sophie had guessed how it would be if she came to Lyon to work for him.  For the first couple of weeks he had left her alone, lulled her into a false sense of security with his distance.  But now he had removed the mask of indifferent charm to reveal the iron purpose she should have known all along lay underneath.  This time there would be no getting away.  Sophie put her head in her hands and wished the ground would open wide.

Author Bio:

Helena FarfaxHelena Fairfax was born in Uganda and came to England as a child.  She’s grown used to the cold now and that’s just as well, because nowadays she lives in an old Victorian mill town in Yorkshire, right next door to windswept Brontë country.  She has an affectionate, if half-crazed, rescue dog and together they tramp the moors every day—one of them wishing she were Emily Brontë, the other vainly chasing pheasants.   When she’s not out on the moors you’ll find Helena either creating romantic heroes and heroines of her own or else with her nose firmly buried in a book, enjoying someone else’s stories.  Her patient husband and her brilliant children support her in her daydreams and are the loves of her life.

You can find Helena here on her blog:, on her Helena Fairfax Facebook page, or on Twitter @helenafairfax.

Buy the book!

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Review: Seduction, by M.J. Rose

All I knew about Victor Hugo before starting this book was the usual thing that everyone probably knows: he wrote Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Aside from that, I knew next to nothing. If a historical novel is good, and this one was excellent, it will give me the urge to learn more, and read more, of its subject. (I’ve since added most of his books to my TBR list, a sure sign.)

Now, to Seduction.

I had not read The Book of Lost Fragrances (released just prior), and so the beginning took me a bit to get into, having to play a bit of catch-up with the characters, being dropped into the story. However, it didn’t take long, and from then on, I couldn’t put it down.

Jac being a mythologist, but also a member of a family of storied French perfume makers, really intrigued me. The idea of being able to distinguish so many different smells intrigued me. And smell plays an important part in this book, triggering visions and episodes for Jac, flashes of past lives. But, whose?

At first it does seem like these flashes are one of Jac’s past lives, but yet, theories change, and this is where I really couldn’t stop reading. I had to figure out whose past lives these were, and how these stories fit into the present day. I loved how the author, M.J. Rose, wove these parts together, and how they pushed the story forward.

I was also quite intrigued by the seances. I’m not a believer in ghosts, or spirits, but I can imagine that a seance like what Victor Hugo experienced would be a scary and awesome thing. And if one believed…well, the idea that you’d be talking with Shakespeare, or Dante…it’d blow your mind, or scare you to death. Even me, the unbeliever, found the seance sequences to be creepy, and creepier still when it was the Shadow of the Sepulchre using his wiles on a grieving Hugo.

I won’t say much more, for fear of inadvertently spoiling the story for you, but M.J. Rose made me really feel for Victor Hugo, for his loss, and his searching for answers, and trying to speak to his lost daughter.

If I’ve managed to whet your appetite, here’s the blurb:

Seduction Book Cover

A gothic tale about Victor Hugo’s long-buried secrets 
and the lengths we go to for love…

In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo’s beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, still grieving, Hugo initiated hundreds of séances from his home on the Isle of Jersey in order to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the Devil himself. Hugo’s transcriptions of these conversations have all been published.

Or so it has been believed…

Recovering from a great loss, mythologist Jac L’Etoile thinks that throwing herself into work will distract her from her grief. In the hopes of uncovering a secret about the island’s mysterious Celtic roots, she arrives on the Isle of Jersey and is greeted by ghostly Neolithic monuments, medieval castles, and hidden caves.

But the man who’s invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, hopes she’ll help him discover something quite different—transcripts of Hugo’s lost conversations with someone he called the Shadow of the Sepulcher. Central to his heritage, these are the papers his grandfather died trying to find.

But what neither Jac or Theo anticipate is that the mystery surrounding Victor Hugo will threaten their sanity and put their very lives at stake.

Seduction is a historically evocative and atmospheric tale of suspense with a spellbinding ghost story at its heart, written by one of America’s most gifted and imaginative novelists. Awakening a mystery that spans centuries, this multi-layered gothic brings a time, a place, and a cast of desperate characters brilliantly to life.


M.J. Rose, is the international bestselling author of 12 novels;Lip ServiceIn FidelityFlesh TonesSheet MusicLying in BedThe Halo EffectThe Delilah ComplexThe Venus Fix,The ReincarnationistThe MemoristThe Hypnotist, and The Book of Lost Fragrances.

Rose is also the co-author with Angela Adair Hoy of How to Publish and Promote Online, and with Doug Clegg of Buzz Your Book.

She is a founding member and board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: She runs two popular blogs; Buzz, Balls & Hype and Backstory.

Getting published has been an adventure for Rose who self-published Lip Service late in 1998 after several traditional publishers turned it down. Editors had loved it, but didn’t know how to position it or market it since it didn’t fit into any one genre.

Frustrated, but curious and convinced that there was a readership for her work, she set up a web site where readers could download her book for $9.95 and began to seriously market the novel on the Internet.

After selling over 2500 copies (in both electronic and trade paper format) Lip Service became the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by the LiteraryGuild/Doubleday Book Club as well as being the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house.

Rose has been profiled in Time magazine, Forbes, The New York Times, Business 2.0, Working Woman, Newsweek and New York Magazine.

Rose has appeared on The Today Show, Fox News, The Jim Lehrer NewsHour, and features on her have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and abroad, including USAToday, Stern, L’Official, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

Rose graduated from Syracuse University and spent the ’80s in advertising. She was the Creative Director of Rosenfeld Sirowitz and Lawson and she has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

She lives in Connecticut with Doug Scofield, a composer, and their very spoiled dog, Winka.

The author’s website:

Connect with the author:

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Review of THE PARIS GAME from Ma Vie Française + Win a Paperback!

The lovely folks at francophile site Ma Vie Française have reviewed The Paris Game! And, in conjunction with the review, there is a contest. Sign up to the site and comment on the post, and you could win a paperback of THE PARIS GAME.

‘The Paris Game’, the first book in Alyssa Linn Palmer’s ‘Le Chat Rouge’ series, strikes a delicate balance between erotica and intrigue.

…In some sense, Sera and Marc provide the moral middle ground. In a world where there are debts to be paid, nothing is as clear-cut as it seems. As enigmatic as each other, they’re ruthless in their respective bids to win the wager. And as the stakes get higher, the pace ratchets up.

…For francophiles, much of the book’s pleasure, of course, lies in its setting. Lovers of Paris will trace the protagonists’ steps from Saint-Sulpice to the Pont du Carousel to the Montparnasse Cemetery. And when wide-eyed art history student Sophie is filled with wonder upon discovering Shakespeare & Co. for the first time, we know that feeling exactly!

The contest runs until June 21st, so get your comments in soon!

A new way of being naughty. Wicked Way Interactives!

I’ve been naughty and neglecting this blog. Mea culpa. I shall try to do better.

Today is better. Today is where I introduce you to a brilliant new series by erotic romance author Daire St. Denis. She’s created ‘Wicked Way Interactives’, which is an erotic romance where you, the reader, get to participate. Not in getting naked with the characters (pity, I know), but in a ‘choose your own adventure’-style read.

dairestdennis_sexspiesandphotographs_200Her first is Sex, Spies, & Photographs, and it’s hot. Here’s the blurb:

Claire Marshall has a hot husband, a nice home in the burbs and an assortment of hobbies to keep her busy. She’s perfectly happy, right? Right?!

So why can’t she stop spying on the new neighbor next door?

When she finds out he specializes in boudoir photography, she employs his services to help spice up her love life with husband, John. However, things heat up beyond Claire’s imagination when the neighbor and his exotic wife turn up at their place and the two couples end up involved in more—much more—than a photo shoot.

The relationship that develops between the neighbors is like nothing Claire has ever experienced, forcing her to realize she’s been living a lie, biding her time in the burbs, waiting for something to happen. Well, now something has happened and she’s faced with an impossible decision.

Claire needs help. Your help. Will you help her?

In this exciting new erotic format, you get to make the decision for Claire. You get to decide whether Claire will find her happily ever after. Or…something else altogether.

I devoured this book. I loved the dynamic between Claire & Martin, and the changing dynamic between her and her husband. And then, there’s Martin’s wife…each character affects the story so strongly that to take one out…it might not work. Now, when you have a choice of things for Claire to do, that’s when it gets interesting. The dynamics shift even further.

Now, if you’re like me, you’ll go back and choose your second pick option after you’ve read through the first, just to see what’s different. (I did that with the Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was a kid, too.) And then watch out for more hot Wicked Way Interactive books!

Buy it on Amazon:

Book Review: The SEAL’s Valentine, by Laura Marie Altom

The SEAL's ValentineThe SEAL’s Valentine by Laura Marie Altom

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The moment off-duty navy SEAL Tristan Bartoni meets feisty yet vulnerable Brynn Langtoine, he’s a goner. He sure didn’t have plans to be attracted to a recently widowed pregnant woman who is already mother to a troubled, grieving young son. Nope, the struggling SEAL came home to Ruin Bayou, Louisiana, to finally deal with his haunting past decisions-not to start a new relationship. 

Brynn has enough problems without her hormones going crazy whenever Tristan is near. Her son, Cayden, constantly lashes out at her. Her baby will be fatherless. So…what does Tristan think he’s doing, making her life even more topsy-turvy than it already is? 

But when it comes to putting her heart on the line, who could be more trustworthy than a Navy SEAL?

My knowledge of the US military and its different branches is scant, reliant as it is on films and television dramas (i.e. Generation Kill, etc.), so I can’t really speak to that side of things. Fortunately, as it is a romance, I don’t have to. 😉

I found both main characters to be interesting, and their wounds and backstories were compelling. Brynn’s more than Tristan’s though, to be honest, as somehow I would expect a military guy often away might have marital troubles.

Truth be told, I picked up this book because I wanted a love story. And it delivered. It was easy to root for Brynn and Tristan, and I loved how their relationship grew, and how the author made sure that Brynn’s son was a strong part of the narrative. It’s a good, romantic read, especially to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day.

(copy provided by Netgalley).

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Book Review: Cowboy With a Cause, by Carla Cassidy

Cowboy with a CauseCowboy with a Cause by Carla Cassidy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“I’d apologize for kissing you, but I’m not all that sorry.” 

Dancer Melanie Brooks had escaped small-town Oklahoma, giving up the country for Broadway’s bright lights. Yet after her mother’s funeral called her back, her own health issues forced her to stay. Now her tenant, too-hot-for-his-own-good Adam Benson, is giving her a reason to dance again. But has a killer set his sights on her, too? 

Adam knows a little something about fresh starts. As for his beautiful neighbor, he doesn’t see a wheelchair-he sees a woman who understands. But as the heat grows between them, he can’t avoid the feeling that more than her big-city past haunts her-and that danger has been lurking, waiting to strike….

Melanie is a heroine I can really get behind, a woman of strength and vulnerability, and fully 3-dimensional. I also appreciate reading about a physically disabled heroine, as it’s a refreshing change from the majority of books. I was reminded somewhat of the character of Stephanie in the film ‘Rust & Bone’, as both women are quite suddenly disabled and have to adjust to their new circumstances.

The hero, Adam, was interesting as well, though I did not find his character quite as compelling. However, he’s a good match for Melanie, and doesn’t coddle her or assume she can’t succeed because she’s in a wheelchair.

As for the mystery — it worked for me. I never want to say too much about the puzzle to be solved in suspense fiction because I’d hate to inadvertently give away a clue. However, I will say that I had to debate with myself, and I didn’t figure out the solution until the reveal.

This is a good romantic read, with just the right balance of love and mystery.

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Book review: Skybound, by Aleksandr Voinov

SkyboundSkybound by Aleksandr Voinov
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Set in Germany in 1945, Skybound brings us Felix, a young Schwarzer Mann, an airfield mechanic with a great admiration and love for flying ace Baldur Vogt. It’s near the end of the war, and the German aces (Experten) are fiercely trying to defend Berlin as the Allied forces attack.

I was immediately intrigued by the premise of this novella, as I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in this era from a German point of view. Most fiction (and film) addressing this period tends to be from the Allied POV, and the reality of German soldiers, pilots, etc. is not even considered. I’d also known that Aleks had a thing for WWII history and I wanted to see how his interest translated onto the page.

As a result, I inhaled this novella, reading it in one sitting. It is at once poignant and bitter, heartening and harrowing. And it was thought-provoking, portraying a different mindset than what is often assumed of all German forces–the virulent Nazi beliefs are not shared by all. I love this novella for its story, but also for what I have learned, and I was especially delighted to learn some German terms (aided by the helpful glossary at the back). I would love to read more WWII-set stories from Aleksandr, and I hope he releases some more in the near future.

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