Thursday, June 22, 2017

SHE MADE A PROPOSAL... HE TRIED TO REFUSE... STORM'S PASSION BY CHRISTINE YOUNG



The fifth book in the Twelve Dancing Princesses Series

ISBN: 978-1-62420-143-1
Author: Christine Young
Email: aandcyoung@aol.com

Genre: Historical Romance
Excerpt Heat Level: 2
Book Heat Level: 3



REVIEW:

Reviewed by Kinky Vanilla
http://www.kinkyvanillaromance.blogspot.com/


By all accounts, Storm Graham is brazen, strong-willed, and beautiful. She despises her father and loves her horses. So when Storm discovers that her father has signed a contract that forces her (and her horses) into the hands of one of the region's wealthiest and most despicable bachelors, she does not take it lying down.

After evaluating her options, she determines that her best bet is to convince the region's wealthiest bachelor to marry her. She believes that Hadden Johnston's money and power can protect her from the evil clutches of Charles Robertson (and his father). In return, she can offer her interest in the family's horse and brewery businesses. The problem? Hadden and Storm are merely business acquaintances and neither is really interested in getting married.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Storm has nothing to lose by proposing marriage. Well, maybe a little pride. And Hadden knows all too well the ugliness that lurks in Charles' mind. How could he not try to intervene on her behalf? Combine that with the sparks of attraction between Hadden and Storm, and you'll end up with a marriage of convenience that had me wanting my own Hadden.

"This is an outrageous game you're playing Miss Graham. But I do understand how loathsome marrying Charles would be. I wouldn't wish it on my best friend and for some reason I've a need to protect you." -  Hadden Johnston

Rich, powerful, and cruel, Charles is also not one to take things lying down...

Storm's Passion is a fast-paced, easy-to-read novel. I read it over a weekend. Luckily for us readers, the marriage turns out to be more than Hadden and Storm bargained for. They have a chemistry that is fun to read and watch grow. Storm isn't the stereotypical damsel in distress. She is a heroine that you really get behind and pull for as the story plays out.

I think that Storm's Passion is a great choice for people who enjoy historical romance stories. I must admit, I was a little thrown off by the book cover at first. It didn't really scream historical romance to me. But don't let all that hunkiness fool you. The book is set in England in 1818.

I look forward to reading more of Christine Young's work.



SHE MADE A PROPOSAL...

Life strikes Storm Graham a shattering blow when she learns her father has bartered her to a man she detests. Storm is beautiful, self–assured and fiercely independent, and refuses to be a pawn in her father’s schemes, yet she can find no way out of this bargain made in hell. Going on the offensive she asks the wealthiest man on the eastern coast of England to marry her, never believing she might fall in love.

HE TRIED TO REFUSE...

For Hadden Johnston life has provided everything he ever wanted, including a sanctuary for homeless children. He is wealthy, handsome and happily unencumbered...until stunning Storm Graham marches into his life and proposes a marriage of convenience. Yet this type of marriage to a woman who inflames his senses is far from acceptable. If he’s going to be tied down, he will move heaven and earth to have this woman warming his bed.


EXCERPT

“Did you or did you not set out to seduce me?” he queried, laughing a bit inside but relishing her innocence.
“Yes, yes I did,” she told him.
Her honesty might just be his undoing. “What if I told you your plan was a success? Consider me thoroughly seduced and ready for your next plot.”
“Oh, I don’t have one.” She lowered her lashes before looking back to him.
He bent over and kissed her, their lips melding together. Take it slow. Don’t scare her. You don’t want her to tell you to stop. He groaned, bloody hell that would be hard. For a moment, he wished she did have an agenda because he bloody well wasn’t sure about his.
His tongue traced the seam of her lips, parting them slightly. They’d been down this road before, and he hoped she remembered the other kisses, sweet poignant kisses but innocent as hell.
Smiling when he heard a tiny moan of pleasure, he deepened the kiss. His hands around her waist, he pulled her closer, and the feel of her breasts against his chest sent a funnel cloud of heat coursing through him.
Sensations so deep he’d never felt anything like these flowed inside. Spreading his hand on her back, he waited for another response as his tongue reached inside her mouth, tasting her, exploring.
She ran her fingers through his hair then tugged his head closer before releasing him and their first contact.
“Is this how seduction feels?” Her warm breath feathered across his cheek.
When he looked down, he saw breasts and shadowed, titillating cleavage. Deep evocative sensations pulsed through him. He moved his hand from her waist across her bared shoulder, the contrast mercuric. The urge to dip his finger into the valley between her breasts overpowered common sense. She’d purposely designed the dress for him, for his touch. She was lush and ripe, and he realized she was not protesting as he had expected.

.



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ireland in 1817, when tensions are high between Protestants and Catholics and faey people guide the fate of villagers. STAR CROSSED BY CHRISTINE YOUNG FREE ON KU



Christine Young
achristay@aol.com

Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 2



Ireland in 1817, when tensions are high between Protestants and Catholics and faey people guide the fate of villagers. A lovely Catholic lass stumbles upon the weakly ritual fisticuffing between Irish lads. She falls into the lap of a handsome young Protestant. Family ties, grudges, and two conniving faeries threaten their budding love. But the faeries outsmart themselves when they hijack a time machine that has mysteriously appeared in their forest.

EXCERPT:

The heat from the afternoon sun felt wonderful--enchanting--dreamy. When she tried to sit up, the earth whirled around her again. She wanted to feel indignant but she'd brought this on herself. She didn't quite understand why she wanted to convince this arrogant oaf she wasn't a little girl.
"You mind telling me why you tackled me?" he asked.
Casey turned her head to look at the young man. He leaned on one elbow, nonchalantly plucking a blade of grass and sticking it in his mouth. His dark black hair appeared rakishly windblown and his grin was bordered by dimples on both sides. She had the craziest urge to reach up and trace the line of his lips with her finger.
"I don't believe in fighting," she said. "It's absolutely stupid for the bunch of you to come out here on the Sabbath and fight when the rest of the week you are all bosom buddies."
"Stupid, you say?" he queried. "You dare to call me stupid?" he laughed and extended his hand. "Let me help you up. I don't think I'm ready to meet your dah with pistols on the dueling field. So I think I'd best be seeing you home."
An inferno swept through Casey. She didn't know if she still reeled from the impact or if the dizziness was something else--something magical--something supernatural. When he looked at her, she trembled and her face heated. She touched her hands to her cheeks. They felt cold and clammy. Afraid if he touched her again she might melt, she stared at a puffy cloud floating whimsically overhead.
He bent closer to her. The scent of mint filled the tiny space between them.
"You all right? Did you hear what I said?" he asked, touching a finger to the pulse throbbing at her neck. She tried to bat his hand away even while her heartbeat pounded faster, and she couldn't inhale a decent breath of air.
"Stop it," he said, and paused for a moment in his assessment of her health. "I think you will live."
"Of course I will and I can find my own way home. I'm eighteen. I turned two months ago."
"That old?" He laughed and she wanted to escape. Yet some little demon inside told her he was the last person she wanted to hide from. She felt as if her body had been taken over by something unearthly, something mysterious or filled with enchantment.
"You're going to have a black eye," she said and touched the bruise forming around his eye. "Does it hurt?"
"Come on, lass," he said still holding out his hand and sidestepping her question.
"You're ignoring me," she told him, getting up without accepting his hand and dusting off hers on her skirt.
"My apologies," he laughed, bowing slightly laugh lines crinkling his brow. "It only hurts when you remind me of it."
"Then I won't be reminding you," she said quickly.
"Casey," her brother said as he rounded the top of the hill. "You coming or do you mean to dawdle here all day?"
She jumped and pressed her fingers along her skirts to smooth them all the while feeling not a wee bit guilty, but a whole lot guilty. And I have nothing to feel ashamed of. "What are you doing here? I thought you left me to fend for myself," Casey said feeling a moment of loss at the thought her brother would be walking her home and not Kelly.


EXCERPT

Casey pushed on the green grass, trying to unwind herself from the man beneath her, but fell again. All right, Casey lass, you're in a heap of trouble right now with no way out. You are seeing the earth whirl and tumble around and you're on top of a brute of a man--a Protestant.

"All right, lads, we'll meet here next Sunday, same place, same time," her brother's voice filtered through the air as if it floated in the fog that surrounded Casey.

Once again she pushed on the damp grass and didn't seem to make headway, her arms feeling as if they'd changed to soggy twine. Don't you abandon me, Patrick O'Connell. You know I have the Devil's own luck. If you leave me here, I'll never forgive you.

"What about Casey?" one of her brother's friend asked. "She looks a little worse for the encounter."

"Do you think we should leave her here--with Kelly?"

"He's a right stand-up guy. Of course you can leave her here. We'll see her home," a Shaunasey said.

"Well, Kelly is a fine bloke. He won't hurt her. In fact with my feisty lil' sister involved, I fear for him--not her," Patrick said laughing. "She'll do as she pleases. She always does. How can I control her when father cannot? She does not need a second father." He shrugged his shoulder and looked behind him at his little sister as he strolled down the hill.

"She's hurt," another friend called after Patrick. "What kind of brother are you?"

"One who is tired of looking after an accident prone little lass. She has to take responsibility for herself sometime, does she not?"

"She is that," one commented. "You rescue her night and day."

~ * ~

"You should have blessed her with a wee bit o'Irish coordination," Oran said dryly as he flew to a hovering position near the girl.

"And you should remember what our blessed mother told us, 'if you cannot say anythin' nice, don't say anything at all'." Moya rose above the flower petal, her wings buzzing with her anger toward her brother.

"I didn't say anything that wasn't the truth." Oran whistled out of tune for a moment. "We could kidnap them."

"And that is your solution to everything?" Moya pointed one finger at him and shook it. "Why, Oran, I believe you may fancy the lass for yourself. I will not have it. Go play your tricks on someone else's charge. She is mine to see to safety and long life. And don't be forgettin' the lad is yours to watch over."

"You best stem your anger, Moya. You're wings have turned golden," Oran said with a hearty chuckle.

~ * ~

"Let Kelly handle her," Casey's brother said with a light chuckle. "He lost and so he must deal with the object of that loss and assume the consequences. It's only fair."

"Hey!" Kelly said, "Don't leave me here with your sister. It will be hell to pay. She's a little girl. What will your father say?"

The others laughed. "Just don't take too long to decide what to do with her. Little girl or not, father will come after you with his pistol."

I just turned eighteen years old--little girl--how dare he…

"Bloody hell, Patrick. What are you thinking?" Kelly cried out.

"I'm thinking the Catholics won this fight. What are you thinking?" Patrick turned his back on the pair and whistled a jaunty tune as he strolled down the hill.

"Revenge will be sweet. Next Sunday…" Kelly shook his fist at the departing back of Casey's brother.

From what seemed like a great distance Casey heard the moan emanating from inside her battered and bruised body. She squished her eyes together, wishing her head didn't pound so fiercely, and the ground spin so wildly. "Who are you?" she whispered next to the man's chest while a soft spring breeze whispered against her heated face.

"Who am I?" the man chuckled. "Lass, you are the one who landed atop me. I should be inquiring into who you are? Only I know." His hands rested around her waist and squeezed as if he were testing--perhaps exploring--entirely inappropriate. Yet for some strange reason, Casey didn't mind the supposed to be unwanted attention. "And I don't think your brother should have left you here with the likes of me. I'm afraid I've landed myself in a dangerous predicament. And I'm thinkin' one that will be very hard to explain."

"Shame on you," Casey said. "You take liberties." The words stole her breath and she had to lean on Kelly once more in order to minimize the pounding of her head and the strange feelings emanating from where his hands were.

"I only want to remove you from--my--ah--person. And if I were taking liberties with you, lass, you'd be near swooning with passion."

"Ah, it seems you are a wee bit arrogant," she opened her eyes and gazed into the bluest eyes she'd ever seen. "The color of a summer sky," she whispered to him, still feeling woozy and not quite sure what he'd just told her--but thinking at the moment something besides the fall caused the earth to spin and the sky to tilt with a crazy, wild abandon.

"What is, lass?"

"Your eyes," she said, struggling against him and finally rolling to the side so she lay sprawled on the grass, staring into the sky she'd referred to a moment earlier and watching a white billowy cloud float past. "I'm not a little girl," she told him. "Don't ever call me that again."

"Then you want me to tell lies?" he asked with a lazy half-smile that stole Casey's heart and left her floundering. "I dinna think I can do that."

"It isn't a lie," she said, trying to sound indignant, yet frustrated beyond anything she'd ever felt before.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

TELL TALE TUESDAY: Hippie Mafia is a story of urban redemption, examining how greed and loyalty influence decisions in a sub-culture that is generally accepted as being peaceful and without strife. HIPPIE MAFIA BY JESSICA EVANS



ISBN: 978-1-62420-308-4
Author: Jessica Evans

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 2


TAGLINE

Hippie Mafia is a story of urban redemption, examining how greed and loyalty influence decisions in a sub-culture that is generally accepted as being peaceful and without strife.

BLURB

Hippie Mafia is a multi-voice narrative that examines gender roles within the constructs of urban identity. The antagonist of the work, Mason, is the antithesis of the female archetype, both in her decision making skills and in the progression of her character through her stand-alone agency. The female protagonist, Amy, is one who responds to the situations she finds herself in as one might expect of a standard female character. It is the hope of the work that these two conflicting female identities will help the reader to begin to understand and examine ways in which female characters do not need a male counterpoint to advance their own stores.

REVIEW:

Hippie Mafia
The Granola Gang Book One
By Jessica Evans
4.5 stars (out of 5)
Review by Nancy Dafoe
Refuting the claim that Hippie Mafia is strictly a Southern California cultural phenomenon, propelled by drug users and dealers, Jessica Evans takes readers deep into a group within the counterculture of Cincinnati, Ohio in her new novel Hippie Mafia: The Granola Gang. As benign and healthy as the subtitle sounds, Evans’ gang is anything but hearty or harmless to each other. Betrayal ultimately strains and unravels the bonds found in what was once a tight-knit “family” of drug users chasing Phish on the circuit.
Propelled by the rawness, as well as naturalness of dialogue, the narrative moves with agility and acceleration until the denouement:
“‘Hello,’ I offer. She looks around the room like she's seeing it for the first time, too.
‘Like these kinds of accommodations,’ she snickers.
‘Excuse me?
‘You know, a room like this,’ she says, waving her hand, ‘with four blank walls and nothing to do or anyone to see.’
‘I've been in worse places.’”

This is a subculture the author appears to know intimately, with knowledge of “moving weight,” yet Evans’ narrative is empathetic. At the center of this group of friends, who grow, cook, sell, and use, are the slightly unusual best friends Mason Williams and Dugan Reeves, and brother and sister Amy and Ghost Barnes. Mason is a lesbian with a tough outer shell and a soft inner core. Dugan is half in love with Mason, as well as in love with Amy. Their lives of casual and serious sex, love affairs, fighting, stealing, drug use and selling, parallel their individual and collective search for redemption on the less-than-prosperous streets of Middle America in Cincinnati.
We come to know Amy, Angela, Beata, Mason, Ghost, Dugan, Nola, Ian, Julian, and Theseus intimately, these characters who took communion in drugs on tours. Their sacrament, however, comes with an end date. Almost from the opening pages, we know it will be Mason who betrays the family, but Evans’ story examines people, not caricatures, the how and why, as much as taking us inside the limits of loyalty and love within this counterculture.
Brother and sister Amy and Ghost may be the heart of the Granola Gang, and Ghost quite possibly dispenses the wisest words, even from his tentative stance: “‘All I'm saying is you're too narrow. Your focus is too pinpointed. It's always Dugan. Dugan can't just be your whole world. Let this be it, man. Get your ass out of there while you can still remember who you are.’”

Mason and Dugan spur the action, but it is Theseus and Julian who symbolically orient this novel that is as much about love and fumbling attempts at redemption as drugs, violence, and betrayal.


EXCERPT

Amy shakes her head and looks at Ghost. He wonders just what his sister is thinking, and why he can't see the same kind of rage he's feeling in her.
"So, what? We need to go get you packed?" Ghost's mind is thinking ahead to the logistics of getting Amy out of the apartment in Norwood. He knows Julian has an extra room at his spot in Mount Auburn he would gladly offer up to Amy.
"Your girls know? Beata? Who did you tell?"
"I couldn't," Amy starts, shaking her head, "I couldn't call anyone. The only one who knows is you. Beata would've come last night."
"So would I if you would have called me right after it happened. You shouldn't have waited. I would have been right there."
"But I know you. Your temper. Really, I was worried about what you would do."
"You mean you were worried I'd force you to make the right choice is more like it."
"Something like that," Amy says into her palms. "Like I don't think he set out to do it. I'm sure he was stressed, and whatever he was on didn't help. Probably, I should have just left when he started yelling like that."
"So what, now you're justifying his behavior? You sure this is the first time?" Ghost squints his eyes at Amy, trying to read into her.
She nods her head but doesn't say anything, confirming Ghost's suspicions.
"Right, well. We still need to get you out. Since no one knows, I'll just tell Julian your spot has ants or something. I don't know, I'll figure it out. We need to get back over there and get you a bag of whatever you need. I'll handle getting the rest of your stuff out later."
His mind in overdrive, Ghost sees him helping his sister move out of the apartment. He's never disliked Dugan, but he's never been a big fan either. There's something to be said about a dude who has a chick for a best friend. Something about that has never sat well with Ghost, and looking at his sister's face, he wonders if he's known something like this would happen all along.
"Ghost, I can't do that."
"Why are you arguing this with me, homie? I don't get it."
"It was an accident, man. I can't just get up and leave over something Dugan didn't mean to do."
"Yes, you can. You should. You will." Ghost lets the words sit between he and his sister before going on. "When we were little, there were a million times I wanted to be able to do something to save you. To save us. To get us out of that bullshit we had to deal with. I couldn't then. Had no money, no heat, and no options. Now I can. You need to listen to me, Amy. Listen hard. You say this was the first time, we both know that's probably not true. But this was probably the worst so far. You think he's just going to stop? That all of a sudden a chump ass dude like Dugan is going to realize he shouldn't go around hitting females? You have to see it's just going to keep getting worse. I mean, you have to. Until the next time you call me, it's not going to be about a black eye, but a broken arm, or getting shoved down the stairs, or a slug in the chest. I get that you want to be solo and indie and all that. Cool, I dig. You can't do this on your own, and you can't go back to him."
"I don't know what to do." Amy reaches for her cheek. "I hear you, brother. I really do. Promise this was the first time, but I can see how you might think otherwise. Thing is, I know you're right. I can't just leave. I can't abandon him like that. I know he didn't mean it. I called you because I was scared. Looking in the mirror and seeing this is not the way to start a morning. Shit freaked me out, and I didn't know what to do. Just running away isn't going to solve this problem either."
Ghost shakes his head. "Amy, you realize how you sound right now?" he asks. "I mean really. I've watched you over the last few years let yourself get so wrapped up in this dude, you've lost all your drive. Remember when you were a person outside of Dugan? There was this whole other life you always talked about, the one where you're getting out of the city, doing something with yourself. Now what? Dude's clocking you in the jaw and you're growing boomers in your spot? How is that any different from the shit we saw growing up? Thank god you're not pregnant at least."
Ghost's voice has been steadily rising. A few of the early morning coffee sippers are cutting sideways glances at their table. Ghost realizes they're being observed and tries to dial it back in a bit.
"All I'm saying is you're too narrow. Your focus is too pinpointed. It's always Dugan. Dugan can't just be your whole world. Let this be it, man. Get your ass out of there while you can still remember who you are."
Amy stares at her brother, unflinching. Her eyes move in a pattern from the table to the sugar canister to Ghost's eyes and back, a constant revolving circle, as if she's running on a wheel. She sits like that for a while, and Ghost doesn't say anything, hoping his words are sinking in and will have some effect. He's already cleared his schedule for the day so for the first time in a while, he has nowhere else to be, nothing more important to do than to sit and vibe with his sister, to protect her the ways that she protected him for so many years. He finishes his coffee and stands up.
"I'm getting another one. You need an answer by the time I get back."
Amy looks at the line, four people deep, and then down at the ground. She doesn't say anything to Ghost, but nods her head. Her mouth forms into a flat line and she starts chewing her cheek.
"You're going to chew a hole in your cheek, kid," Ghost says lightly, putting his hand on her shoulder. It's a throwback to something their mother used to say before she went off the deep end and landed herself in prison. Amy smiles wanly and pats Ghost's hand.
"Sounds like something Mom used to say," she replies.
"I'll get you another cup," Ghost says as he walks off.