**INTERVIEW** Howard Kaplan, author of The Damascus Cover – Bestselling Espionage Thriller

DAMASCUS COVER, KaplanWith espionage thriller tv series HOMELAND back on our screens for a fourth season here in the UK, we are certainly excited about today’s post. Today we are privileged in hosting an interview with author Howard Kaplan with regard to his Los Angeles Times bestselling espionage thriller, THE DAMASCUS COVER. The book is currently being made into a feature film starring Jonathan Reis Meyers (Match Point, The Tudors). Howard Kaplan is a Middle East expert and has had his own spy experience smuggling microfilm out of the Ukraine!

THE DAMASCUS COVER was originally published by Dutton (an imprint of Penguin), and has been translated into seven languages. It’s received rave reviews from Kirkus, the Los Angeles Times, BBC News, the Hartford Courant, the Chicago Daily News, the American Library Association, and more (you can see quotes from these reviews below). Clive Cussler, author of the Dirk Pitt Adventure series, says Kaplan is “up there with the best.”

The movie is being produced by H Films and also stars Jürgen Prochnow (Das BootThe Da Vinci Code), Navid Negahban (Homeland, character Abu Nazir), and Igal Naor (The Honourable Woman). For more on the film visit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3457508/

Synopsis:

In a last ditch effort to revive his career, washed up agent Ari Ben-Sion accepts an undercover mission he never would have 30 years ago: to smuggle a group of Jewish children out of the Damascus ghetto. Or so he thinks. Once in Damascus, he meets a beautiful American photographer, Kim, who seems to be falling in love with him—but she’s also asking too many questions. Then his communication equipment disappears. His contact never shows up. Just hours before the operation, everything has gone awry.

Desperate to succeed, Ari must navigate the precarious terrain of love and survival in Syria, risking everything…even his life.

Howard Kaplan Author Photo 1About the Author:

Howard Kaplan, a native of Los Angeles, has lived in Israel and traveled extensively through Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. At the age of 21, he had his own spy experience while attending school in Jerusalem, when he was sent on two missions into the Soviet Union to smuggle out a dissident’s manuscript on microfilm. His first trip was a success. On his second trip, however, he was arrested in Khartiv and interrogated for two days in the Ukraine and two days in Moscow, before being released. He holds a BA in Middle East History from UC Berkeley, an MA in the Philosophy of Education from UCLA, and is the author of four novels. Follow him on Twitter at @kaplanhow.

INTERVIEW with HOWARD KAPLAN, The Damascus Cover

Hi Howard,

Welcome to A Reader’s Review Blog! We would like to thank you for participating in an author interview for The Damascus Cover.

1. Did you have any idea how successful The Damascus Cover was going to be?

I was happy to just be published at all with a first novel.  When Dutton sent the book out to the then 10 paperback houses, all ten were interested in reprint rights and Fawcett immediately bid $75,000 for the rights. I was 27 and pleasantly stunned, shocked, thrilled.  Soon foreign translation rights started being sold.  Portuguese rights in Brazil were sold without the publisher even reading the book on my agent’s recommendation, which really surprised me.  Then a publisher in Yugoslavia bought the book but the Central Committee of the Communist Party prevented them from publishing it and banned the book in Communist Eastern Europe.  All this was beyond any expectations of interest I had.  But I always find what happens in life suprising.

2. Being a Middle East expert, I suspect that some characters/scenes are based on experiences you may have had or witnessed. How much of the book would you say is fact over fiction?

See answer to #4   When I was 21 I took a shared taxi from Beirut to Damascus with a close friend.  We visited the famous Omayyad Mosque and then went to visit the Jewish quarter of Damascus.  Soon, we saw a man we had spotted in the Omayyad following us; this was far across the city.  Mike Wallace did two programs on 60 Minutes about the Jewish community of Damascus in the 1970s then about 5,000 strong.  When we were followed in the Jewish quarter we immediately returned to Beirut.  But I later did very detailed research on the city of Damascus.  God bless the Brits, who have gone everywhere and written memoirs about it.

3. I believe that you had a spy experience of your own in the Soviet Union. Could you please tell us a little about that?

I made two trips into the Soviet Union and travelled from Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) to  Tashkent and Samarkand in Soviet Central Asia.  Under the Soviets any manuscript not yet published was considered property of the state and anybody who emigrated had to leave what they’d written behind where it was then never published.  The first time I went into the Soviet Union, I brought out a dissident’s manuscript on microfilm to London.  On my second trip, I transferred a manuscript from a writer to the Dutch Ambassador inside their embassy; he sent it to the West by diplomatic pouch.  He was a sympathetic friend to the dissidents.  Soviet citizens were prevented from entering foreign embassies, but with an American passport I told the KGB guards outside that I had a close friend who was a friend of the Ambassador’s wife and they let me in. The Ambassador and  I made small talk inside while we passed each other notes.  In the last one he said, “Be careful, this is not James Bond.”  Then he burned all the notes.

4. What was your inspiration to write The Damascus Cover?

When I was in Damascus, I visited Marjeh Square.  In the 1960’s the Israelis had a high placed agent in Damascus, Eli Cohen, who became the chief advisor to the head of the Syrian Minister of Defence.  He was uncovered and hung in Marjeh Square in 1965 though the intelligence he provided enabled Israel to easily take the Golan Heights in the 1967 6 Day War.  It was my inspiration for a novel of an Israeli intelligence agent who penetrates the upper echelons of Syrian Intelligence.

5. Were there any scenes that you found particularly difficult to write?

I wrote the first draft of the book in 9 frenetic months, and enjoyed what I was doing.  I had a detailed map of Damascus taped to my wall.  I had real passion for the injustice in the world:  the folly of the Vietnam War, the murders of the Kennedys so in my mid 20’s I had a lot of anger.  A  lot of that was released in some torture scenes in the novel.  They were not hard for me to write then; they are hard for me to read now.

6. Having travelled in many countries, which is your favourite and why?  

I have great passion for lots of places:  London, the south of France, anywhere in Italy, and Jerusalem, which I know best of all these places.  I’ve had great travel experiences almost everywhere. Once in the Greek section of Cyprus, which appears in The Damascus Cover, we could not understand the menu so the waiter took us into the kitchen and lifted the covers on the pots.  I went on photographic safari in Kenya and Tanzania for 10 days when I was 23.  Most of the other members were Pan Am stewardesses in their late 20s.  I thought I had found Nirvana, but alas they treated me as younger brother but it was great fun nonetheless.

7. What was your reaction to the great reviews you have received and finding out that a movie was to be made?

The reviews came out in 1977 and the movie came together in 2014.  I remember reading once about how hard The Beatles worked, that though the sound seemed effortless, the production of it was not.  I worked very hard on The Damascus Cover, but the calibre of the reviews still surprised and delighted me.  The movie is simply a miracle and a hoot, 37 years after the book was published but it’s testament to how a good story endures the passage of time.

8. How much involvement have you had with the movie production, and will the movie remain true to the story?

I made a few suggestions to the movie script, all of which were greeted by the director  with excitement.  So we have a very good relationship but this is his script and film and I’m thrilled with it.  He has Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Abigail Spencer, Jurgen Prochnow and the actor who played Abu Nazir in Homeland.  It’s almost as good as falling in love.

9. Are you an avid reader? Do you have a favourite author/book?  

I am a great fan and admirer of John le Carre both for the story telling ability, wrestling with moral issues and the calibre of his prose.  I read my regularly for inspiration.

10. What is next for Howard Kaplan?

I have been getting another of my novels, BULLETS OF PALESTINE, ready for release as an Ebook and paperback in November 2014.  It’s as novel of Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation.  It too seems even more timely than when I originally wrote it.  The first week of November 2014 I’ll be in Casablanca on The Damascus Cover film set.  I’m doing a walk on.

Thank you for your time! We will look forward to hosting The Damascus Cover.  All the best for The Damascus Cover and future works!

Caroline Barker, A Reader’s Review Blog

The Damascus Cover can be purchased at:

Amazon US paperback

Amazon US Kindle version ebook 

Amazon UK paperback

Amazon UK Kindle version ebook

And we are excited to be reviewing Howard Kaplan’s bestseller some time in the near future!

Praise for THE DAMASCUS COVER:

“In the best tradition of the new espionage novel. Kaplan’s grasp of history and scene creates a genuine reality.  He seems to know every back alley of Damascus and Cyprus.”—Los Angeles Times

“A mission inside Syria, a last love affair, and the unfolding of the plot within a plot are handled by the author with skill and a sure sense of the dramatic.”—The American Library Association (starred review)

“A fine, taut, tense spy story full of furious action.”—The Hartford Courant

“It’s suspense all the way through.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Exceedingly rich in color about the Syrian capital.”—Chicago Daily News

“The plotting is beautiful.”—BBC News

“… a smartly paced criss-cross laced with enough Mid-East semicruises to snare the MacInness armchair tourists.”—Kirkus

 

**DOUBLE COVER REVEAL** ~ Tempting His Mistress and Once Upon a Rake, by Samantha Holt

Today I’m delighted to share not one but two cover reveals for Samantha Holt’s upcoming Victorian Romances, Tempting His Mistress and Once Upon A Rake! Scroll down to read the book blurb. Tina :)

Tempting His Mistress

Coming November 10th

temptinghismistress800

Book Synopsis

What could possibly induce a woman to follow in the footsteps of her mother and further sully her reputation by becoming a mistress?

Lilly Claremont is well used to being at the centre of gossip.  Being the illegitimate child of a rich businessman never failed to titillate the gossips and while she cared little about the wagging tongues she never intended to reinforce their opinions of her by ruining herself completely.

But it seems Lord Hawksley is determined to make the fascinating Lilly his mistress…

Evan has no doubt her bold tongue and beautiful body could keep him entertained for some time. Captivated by her, he must find a way to burn through his desire for her. He cannot marry a woman of such social standing so why not make her his mistress?

After the murder of her father, Lilly is searching for answers and they lead her directly to Lord Hawksley. But will they also lead her to his bed…?

Once Upon a Rake

Coming November 24th

Onceuponarake

Book Synopsis

In Victorian England, little Ellie Browning swiftly discovered happy endings did not exist, and rakes were simply rakes. When the man she had adored for years kissed her and left her heartbroken, she resolved to put any dreams of fairy tales aside.

Seven years later, the widowed Eleanor, Countess of Hawthorne, has returned to England after years of travelling with a few ideas in mind. Firstly, she will continue to be the refined, elegant woman she has learned to be—or at least she shall try her best—and secondly, she will make a difference to the lives of those less fortunate than her. A fine opportunity presents itself when she discovers she is now a part owner of a cotton mill.

But the owner of the mill and the very same rake who had hurt her, has no desire to let a woman interfere with his business, let alone little Ellie Browning. After one of Lucian’s mills succumbed to fire, he’s fighting to save the other and continue his father’s legacy of fine business decisions and accruing wealth.

However, after a series of accidents, it becomes clear someone wishes the mill to close. But who, and why? Forced together to investigate the incidents, they must get past their shared history if they want to save the business.

If only the growing attraction between them did not prove such a distraction. With things heating up between them, it becomes clear that they are both at risk of getting burned…

VictorianPromoman

 

Victorianpromowoman

 

**BOOK BLITZ** ~ Prisoner, by Skye Warren and Annika Martin (includes excerpts and super giveaway!!!)

Young Adult, Dark Erotic Romance 18+

PrisonerBlitzBanner

I have been waiting impatiently for the release of this dark erotic romance, a collaboration between Skye Warren and Annika Martin and I’m over the moon to be able to share the book blurb and a couple of smexy excerpts with you today!

The authors  have also been very generous  in allowing each blog participating in the blitz to host a giveaway (and that includes us YAY!). The lucky winner will win one e-book copy of On the Way Home by Skye Warren and one e-book copy of The Kinky Bank Robbers boxed set by Annika Martin. Open internationally. For a chance of to winning the giveaway on our blog scroll down and follow the details at the bottom of this post. Tina <3

Book & Author Details:

Prisoner by Annika Martin & Skye Warren
Publication date: October 23rd 2014
Genres: New Adult, Romance
prisoner

Synopsis:

He seethes with raw power the first time I see him—pure menace and rippling muscles in shackles. He’s dangerous. He’s wild. He’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

So I hide behind my prim glasses and my book like I always do, because I have secrets too. Then he shows up in the prison writing class I have to teach, and he blows me away with his honesty. He tells me secrets in his stories, and it’s getting harder to hide mine. I shiver when he gets too close, with only the cuffs and the bars and the guards holding him back. At night I can’t stop thinking about him in his cell.

But that’s the thing about an animal in a cage—you never know when he’ll bite. He might use you to escape. He might even pull you into a forest and hold a hand over your mouth so you can’t call for the cops. He might make you come so hard, you can’t think.

And you might crave him more than your next breath.

“Sexy, dark and thrilling. I loved every second of it!” – New York Times bestselling author Katie Reus

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23303963-prisoner?ac=1

Purchase Links

Amazon US   Amazon UK

Excerpt 1 

Heavy bars close behind me with a clang. I feel the sound in my bones. A series of mechanical clicks hint at an elaborate security mechanism beneath the black iron plating. I knew this would happen—had anticipated and dreaded it—but my breathing quickens with the knowledge that I am well and truly trapped.

 “Can I help you?”

 I whirl to face the administrative window where a heavyset woman in a security guard uniform stares at her screen.

 “Hi,” I say, pasting on a smile. “My name is Abigail Winslow, and I’m here to—”

 “Two forms of identification.”

 “Oh, well, I already filled out the paperwork at the front desk. And showed them my IDs.”

 “This isn’t the front desk, Ms. Winslow. This is the east-wing desk, and I need to see two forms of identification.”

 “Right.” I dig through my bag for my driver’s license and passport.

 She accepts them without looking up, then hands me a clipboard with a stack of papers just like the ones I’d already filled out.

 I’ve been dreading this day for weeks, wishing I’d been assigned any other project but this one. You’d think I was being sent here for a crime. My professor—the one who’d forced me into this—warned me that prisoners were not always receptive to outsiders. Apparently nobody here is.

 I complete each form, arrange the pages neatly on the clipboard, and bring them back up to the window. The guard accepts them and gives back my IDs…still without looking at me.

 My hands clench and unclench, clench and unclench while the guard eyes my paperwork.

Seconds pass. Or are they minutes? The damp chill of the place seeps in through my cardigan and leaves me shivering.

 Leaning forward, I read the name tag of the guard. “Ms. Breck. Do you know what the next steps are?”

 “You can have a seat. I have work to do now, and then I’ll escort you back.”

 “Oh, okay.” I glance at the bars I just came through, then the open hallway opposite. “Actually, if you just point me in the direction of the library, I’m sure I can—”

 The woman’s hand hits the desk. I jump. Her dark eyes are faintly accusing, and I wish we could go back to no eye contact. How did I manage to make an enemy in two minutes?

 “Ms. Winslow,” she says, her voice patronizing.

 “You can call me Abby,” I whisper.

 A slight smile. Not a nice one. “Ms. Winslow, what do you think we do here?”

 The question is clearly rhetorical. I press my lips together to keep from making things worse.

 “The Kingman Correctional Facility houses over five thousand convicted criminals. My job is to keep it that way. Do we understand each other?”

Heat floods my cheeks. The last thing I want to do is make her job harder. “Right. Of course.” I shamble back, landing hard on the metal folding chair. It wobbles a little before the rubber feet stop my slide. 

I understand the woman’s point. She has to keep the prisoners in and everyone else out, and keep people like me safe.

 I reach down and pull a book from my bag. I never leave home without one, even when I go to classes or run errands. Even when I was young and my mother used to take me on her rounds.

Especially then.

I would hide in the backseat with my nose in the book, pretending I didn’t see the shady people who came to her window when we stopped.

A little green light above the barred doors flashes on and there’s an ominous buzz. Somebody’s coming through, and I doubt it will be a library volunteer. I slide down.

Pretend to be invisible.

It’s no use. I peer over the top edge as a prisoner saunters through the door, and my pulse slams in my throat double time.

He’s flanked by two guards—escorted by them, I guess you’d say. But they seem more like an entourage than anything. Power vibrates around him like a threat.

Read, read, read. Don’t look.

The prisoner is half a foot taller than the guards, but he seems to tower over them by more than that. Maybe it’s his broad shoulders or just something about the way he stands, or his imperiously high cheekbones. The dark stubble across his cheeks looks so rough and unforgiving I can feel it against my palm; it contrasts wildly with the plushness of his lips. His short brown hair is mussed. There’s one scar through his eyebrow that somehow adds to his perfection.

The little group approaches the window. I can barely breathe.

“ID number 85359,” one of the guards says, and I understand that he’s referring to the prisoner. That’s who he is. Not John Smith or William Brown or whatever his name is. He’s been reduced to a number. The woman at the desk runs through a series of questions. It’s a procedure for checking him out of solitary.

The prisoner faces sideways, spine straight, the corner of his mouth tilted up as if he’s slightly amused. Then it clicks, what else is so different about him: no visible tattoos. Tough guys like this, they’re always inked up—it’s a kind of armor, a kind of fuck you. This guy has none of it, though he’s far from pristine; white scars mar the rough skin of his hands and especially his forearms, a latticework of pain and violence, a flag proclaiming the kind of underworld he came from.

The feel of brutality that hangs about him is compelling and…somehow beautiful.

I drink him in from behind my book—it’s my mask, my protective shield. But then the strangest thing happens: he cocks his head. It’s just a slight shift, but I feel his attention on me deep in my belly. I’ve been discovered. Caught by searchlights. Exposed.

My heart beats frantically.

I want him to look away. He fills up too much space. It’s as if he breathes enough oxygen for twelve men, leaving no air for me at all. Maybe if we were in the library and he needed help finding a book or looking something up, then I wouldn’t mind the weight of his gaze.

No. Not even there. He’s too much.

Two sets of bars on the gate. Handcuffs. Two guards.

What do they think he would do if there were only one set of bars, one guard?

My blood races as the guards draw him away from the window and toward the inner door, toward where I sit. His heat pierces the chill around me as he nears. His deep brown eyes never once meet mine, but I have the sense of him looming over me as he passes, like a tree with a massive canopy. He continues on, two hundred pounds of masculine danger wrapped in all that beauty.

Even in chains, he seems vibrant, wild and free, a force of nature—it makes me feel like I’m the one in prison. Safe. Small. Carefully locked down.

How would it feel to be that free?

“Ms. Winslow. Ms. Winslow.”

I jump, surprised to hear that the woman has been calling my name. “I’m sorry,” I say as a strange sensation tickles the back of my neck.

 The woman stands and begins pulling on her jacket. “I’ll take you to the library now.”

 “Oh, that’s great.”

 That shivery sensation gets stronger. Against my better judgment, I look down the hallway where the guards and the prisoner are walking off as one—a column of orange flanked by two thinner, shorter posts.

The prisoner glances over his shoulder. His mocking brown gaze searches me out, pins me with a subtle threat. Though it isn’t his eyes that scare me. It’s his lips—those beautiful, generous lips forming words that make my blood race.

Winslow.

No sound comes out, but I feel as though he’s whispered my name right into my ear. Then he turns and strolls off. 

Excerpt 2

I’m coughing, wheezing. I had asthma as a kid, and that’s what it feels like now as the pepper spray stings me all the way down. “Get off!” I gasp. “You’re too heavy—I can’t—get air.” 

“It’s the spray you hit me with,” he says. “Breathe normal.” 

I gasp for air, panicking. “I can’t!” Is this how I die? Suffocation? 

“Pretend,” he says, letting up his knee. He shifts so that he’s straddling my back. He grips my wrists now, pressing them above my head, and I feel his boots locked over my thighs. His weight is off my back. “It’s something every thug like me knows, how to not breathe in the fucking Mace.” 

I choke and cough. I still can’t breathe. He’s going to let me die. He’s going to sit on me and watch me die.

 “Relax,” he says softly. “You’re making it worse by panicking.”

Hoarsely, I try to get air. The sounds scare me. I really can’t breathe. I suck faster as the panic rises.

“Hey,” he whispers. “Shhh.” He brings his head near mine, breath tickling the back of my neck. “Pepper spray is an inflammatory agent, okay? It swells your throat and sinuses, but it doesn’t shut them.”

 I gasp.

 He continues to speak in his calm, strangely soothing voice. Why is he soothing me? I can feel him rattling against my defenses with every word. “You’re still getting air, okay? Focus on that, Ms. Winslow. That little passage of air you can still breathe through. Slow it down now, got it?”

I can’t slow it down. It’s like I don’t know how to breathe anymore, and I’m shaking.

 And suddenly he’s stretching his big body over me, on top of me. His weight isn’t entirely on me, or else I’d be squished; it’s more of a dull weight, as though he’s holding himself against me, warming me, pressing me to the forest floor. Into my ear he whispers, “Breathe with me.”

 I suck in a faint breath. “Get off me, you caveman!” Why is he even trying to help me? 

“You’re okay, baby,” he says. “Match my breath.” 

I feel his chest expand against my shoulder blades. He’s like a big, warm animal on me. I twist, but there’s no moving. He presses down harder, and something about his weight soothes me. I hate that he’s actually calming me, helping me. I don’t want him to make me feel good—he’s my enemy.

 I wheeze lightly. 

He breathes on, hot and slow against me. A bird calls in the distance. I can hear the hum of the highway, the drone of a helicopter. My eyes tear, and my limbs feel floppy and warm, and suddenly I’m doing it—I’m breathing. I take an almost regular breath.

“There you go,” he whispers.

“Fuck you. I don’t want your help.” I gasp in another breath.

His whisper caresses my cheek. “Nice and slow, Ms. Winslow.” There’s something sensual in the way he says it. “Nice and slow.”

 He breathes again, as if to demonstrate. On the next breath I match him. Soon we’re breathing together. It’s strangely intimate, like we’re two wounded creatures under the forest canopy. It’s almost like dancing. 

Almost like having sex.

 I crane my head around just enough to see that he still has his eyes shut tight, dark eyelashes wet with tears from the irritation of the spray. Did I hurt him? Did I burn his eyes?

 “Stop moving around,” he growls. “Lie still.”

 Like I have any choice with him pinning me. My heart pounds under his weight.

 Breathe in, breathe out.

 It’s as if we’re in some kind of time-out, a no-man’s-land with the two of us fucked up and lying on the forest floor on a bed of pine needles that actually feels sort of soft and nice. The moments stretch on and on. I wonder how long it will take him to recover.

 Maybe I really injured his eyes. Could I have hurt his eyes permanently?

He shifts, and I think maybe he’s getting up. But he doesn’t.

In a weird way I’m glad. If he got off me, that would end this strange, relaxing time out. It would bring back the harsh reality of who we are to each other.

For now, there’s nothing I can do with him lying on my back, and I let my limbs go soft, let my breathing calm, giving myself permission to relax. I feel like jelly suddenly, spread underneath him, spine flattened out. Us breathing together.

My eyes drift closed. The warm patch on my neck feels lit up every time he breathes out, and I imagine his lips hovering just over my skin.

 I imagine him kissing me there, and a wave of forbidden feeling swells through my core.

 My eyes fly open. There is no way I’m turned on.

 Except I am.

 My heart races. My breath gets fitful again.

 “Hey,” he says. And then more softly. “You’re okay.”

I become aware of a hardness against my thigh. An erection. A melty sensation pulses through my pelvis. I’m trembling deep down, and it’s not just fear; it’s excitement.

 Horrified, I try to shake him off, and he tightens his legs and arms around me. I feel his weight and warmth keenly now. “You don’t want to give me any more trouble, do you?” 

“No,” I whisper huskily.

The energy of sex runs wild between us, and I don’t know how to stop it. Does he know? I flash back on him in the prison waiting room, the way he looked at me, and all that power and beauty barely contained in shackles. How stupid I was to think he was beautiful.

“No, you don’t want to give me trouble,” he affirms. “So we’re going to stay just like this until my eyes can recover.”

“So you can kill me? 

“If I was going to kill you,” he says, warm and tickly beneath my earlobe, “don’t you think you’d be dead?” There’s something about the way he says this that makes my belly quiver, and I can’t stop focusing on his erection. His big, strong heart beats against my back, beating my heart like we’re conjoined in some primitive way. 

His breath feels soft on the side of my neck, and heaven help me, I want to feel more of him. I imagine his skin on my skin. Dimly I’m aware that my breath is changing, speeding, shallowing. 

I stiffen as he presses his lips to the warm spot; it’s a kind of kiss. Or is it? And then he whispers, “Penny for your thoughts, Ms. Winslow.” 

Oh God, he knows. This man who’s going to kill me, this man I’ve been breathing with, he knows. 

 Author Bios

Annika

Annika

I’m a NYT bestselling author living a stone’s throw away from the Mississippi with my awesome husband and two cats in a home full of plants, sunshine and books. I’m heavy into writing love stories about criminals–some of them are dirty and fun (my Kinky bank robbers!) others are dark and intense (Prisoner!)I also write gritty romantic suspense as the RITA-award winning author Carolyn Crane.

Author links:

http://annikamartinbooks.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AnnikaMartinBooks

https://twitter.com/Annika_Martin

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5826888.Annika_Martin

Skye 

Skye Warren is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of dark romantic fiction. Her books are raw, sexual and perversely tender. For those new to her work, consider the bestseller Wanderlust or Don’t Let Go.

Author links:

http://www.skyewarren.com/

https://www.facebook.com/skyewarren

https://twitter.com/skye_warren

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5339130.Skye_Warren

Giveaway 

The winner of the giveaway on our blog will win one e-book copy of On the Way Home by Skye Warren and one e-book copy of The Kinky Bank Robbers boxed set by Annika Martin. Open internationally. To enter it’s easy – just leave a comment on this post with your email address by November 10th, the closing date for the giveaway on this blog. You can also enter by leaving your name against this post on our FB page. A winner will be selected at random and contacted after this date and their prize will be sent out after November 18th.

ButtonXBT

 

 

 

Sue’s Seduction by Saylor Storm *BLOG TOUR with Author Interview & GIVEAWAY*

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00017]Sue’s Seduction

By Saylor Storm

Genre: Mystery/Romance Contemporary

Middle aged, overweight, depressed and lonely, Susan Kent, becomes part of an anti-aging clinical trial and is offered a lease on life. She swiftly transforms into a budding beauty. Her new found tender age brings opportunities, lovers and tragedy. Sue’s youthful path takes her on a journey that she never could have imagined and catastrophe brings sobering consequences. Sophisticated attorney, Roger Grayson, enters her life and saves the day. In the end does Susan choose youth or the promise of love?

INTERVIEW

Hi Saylor,

Welcome to A Reader’s Review Blog!

I love the synopsis for Sue’s Seduction. What were your main influences for the story/character?

My first thought was to take a real life anti-aging product that I had heard about and researched and combine it with who I saw as the average, depressed, middle-aged woman who blames everyone else for her misery. I wanted my character, Sue, to evolve into a better, more likable person as the story unfolds.

Have you based any characters or scenes from your own or your friend’s experiences?

Most of the time I do base my characters and scenes from real life experiences, but not so in the case of Sue’s Seduction. The only reality-based part of the story is the anti-aging product.

Who is your favourite character, and why?

Even though we don’t care for Susan Kent much in the beginning, we can’t help but grow to love her as she learns what is truly important in life.

Were there any particular scenes that you found either more difficult or easier to write?

It was fun and challenging to write about lesbian love scenes as a straight woman. In the end I interviewed men about their first time with a woman; what were their first thoughts and impressions, what was it like for them and used that as Sue’s point of reference for the book.

What inspired you to write Sue’s Seduction?

I was inspired to write Sue’s Seduction when I learned about a real life anti-aging product that is currently on the market. I took this piece of reality and turned it into a reverse aging product that my character, Susan Kent, consumes during as a participant in a clinical trial. I imagined all the positive changes that might occur from reverse aging 35 years as well as the negative ones. In my mind, there would be plenty of both!

Do you have a favourite author/book? If so, who/what and why?

I grew up reading John D. MacDonald’s books and loved the fact that they were quick reads offering a temporary escape from reality.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

I love to hike in the Sierras near my home in Lake Tahoe.

For those who have not read your work, how would you describe your writing style?

My writing is style is clean, straightforward, and imaginative.

What’s next for Saylor Storm?

We have a book of love trivia and fun facts coming out next month, a compilation of my daily posts on Facebook for the past couple of years. My first romance thriller called, Basking in the Light, will be coming out in March.

Thank you for your time! We will look forward to hosting you as part of the blog tour! All the best for Sue’s Seduction and in the future!

About Saylor Storm

Saylor Storm smileSaylor Storm takes something from real life and turns it into something fun, and perhaps a bit twisted. Reality becomes fantasy, or is that imagination turns into real life experience? Her stories include places where she has lived or visited from the beaches of Malibu to Islands of Fiji and destinations in between. Love and passion are at the root of her novels; after all isn’t that what life is all about? Storm is a long-time resident of beautiful Lake Tahoe. Saylor is currently working on several new books and loves to hear from her readers! Visit her at http://saylorstorm.com and see her interview me, Caroline, on her site in regard to book blogging!

Saylor Storm trailer –  http://youtu.be/HlbwporBScE

Twitter: @SaylorStorm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/saylor.storm

Sue’s Seduction is available at Amazon US and Amazon UK OR Enter below for your chance to WIN a copy of Sue’s Seduction!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/8c7fd74d1/

Sacrificed (True Alpha #5) (short story) by Alisa Woods **REVIEW**

Sacrificed (True Alpha 5)

For fans of paranormal, shifters and plenty of action!

Shifters live in the shadows of Seattle, just under the skin of the alpha male, dot-com entrepreneurs who are building a new Silicon Valley in the Emerald City.
Sacrificed (True Alpha 5) – New Adult Paranormal Romance

Even with Jak’s help, Mia finds escaping Mace’s grasp isn’t easy… in fact, it may require a sacrifice neither she nor Lucas want her to make.

Sacrificed (True Alpha 5) is 50 pages or 12,000 words. It’s the fifth of six episodes in the True Alpha serial.

REVIEW

Sacrificed is the shortest of the True Alpha series, focusing on the escape of Mia and her friend, Jupiter, from the Red pack. And the story picks up just where we left off in Captured, book 4. It appears that Jak, a shifter and member of the pack that is holding her, is trying to help her and Jupiter escape.

Mia is struggling with her thoughts. There is the question of why Jak would be interested in going against his pack and helping them. But worse still is the strong hold that her submission to Mace has over her, making it almost impossible to go against the wishes of her captor.  In her human self she knows that she doesn’t belong here, with the Red pack, but her wolf has little control now that she has submitted. She must obey his wishes. Mia needs to find the strength to do the right thing, if not for her then for Jupiter.

Meanwhile, Lucas and his father’s pack have their own rescue plan to save Mia. Without spoiling too much, I can sat that there is plenty of action and it doesn’t go as smoothly as one would like. However, it is exciting to read and the fear for both Mia and Lucas’ pack reaches a high.

Mace was not so easy to escape from, and now the reader does not know what Mace will have in store for Mia. Lucas is only too aware of the situation and is helpless, regardless of his growling and snarling inner wolf. He knows that Mace will claim Mia for his own unless they can come up with something…………….. and quickly!

Sacrificed, as well as the previous books of the True Alpha series, create a fantastic build-up of tension and excitement for the final instalment, Claimed. I loved the ending of Sacrificed, especially with a nice surprise that no reader would guess. I am certain that Claimed will be as thrilling, if not moreso, than the first five!

Sacrificed (True Alpha #5) was provided by the author, Alisa Woods, in return for an honest and fair review.

Check out my previous reviews for Desired (True Alpha #1), Guarded (True Alpha #2),  Hunted (True Alpha #3) and Captured (True Alpha #4)!

Sacrificed (True Alpha #5) is available on Amazon UK and Amazon US. (Currently individual books 1-6 can all be bought from Amazon for a small price. However, if you would like all books together in one set – this will be released on Tuesday 28th October, again for a small price. Book 6 and the boxset are available to pre-order in the time being.)

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

**BLOG TOUR** ~ Cafe in the Park, by Elodie Parkes (includes 18+ excerpt and giveaway)

Cafe in the Park - Tour Banner

 BOOK INFORMATION

TITLE – Café in the Park
AUTHOR – Elodie Parkes
GENRE – Contemporary Erotic Paranormal romance
PUBLICATION DATE – September 9, 2014
PUBLISHER – Siren Publishing
COVER ARTIST – Elodie Parkes

Cafe in the Park - Book Cover

 BOOK SYNOPSIS

When Emily joins a dating agency, she never expects to meet someone like Chris. Everything she ever hoped for in a man, he’s special in more ways than one. Their intense attraction to each other is fueled by their shared loneliness. Will Emily find out his shocking secret when someone from his past comes back to haunt him?

How can love blossom, when someone is trying to tear them apart?

Cafe in the Park - Teaser 3

 BUY & TBR LINKS

AMAZON KINDLE USAMAZON KINDLE UKGOODREADS

Cafe in the Park - Teaser 4

 EXCERPT

18+ erotic excerpt – only suitable for mature readers

Desire flared low in his stomach. He let it take him over. He knew his next kiss was searching, needy, hard. He grasped one of her breasts and kneaded, the softness drove him crazy. His cock, fully erect now, pushed at his pants. He sighed into her mouth. “I want you so much.” He relished the hard peak of her nipple through her T-shirt. He bent his head and sucked.
When she ran her fingers into his hair, he felt the pressure in them, and moved away. He could see her nipple now through the soft white fabric in the wet patch he made. He looked into her eyes. “I said I wouldn’t rush you next time, but it’s killing me already.”
Emily stood. She pulled her T-shirt off, followed by the skirt.
Chris reached out and grasped her hips, pulling her to his mouth as he leaned forward. He kissed her stomach, and slid his palms over her ass to cup her there with his fingertips pushed inside the lace of her panties.
She held his head as he kissed across her stomach to each hipbone where he nibbled.
Chris heard her sighs grow ragged. He liked her pretty panties, but he wanted them off her. He yanked them down her thighs, and calves, bending to thrust his tongue into the cleft of her pussy. It delighted him that she was shaved there.
Emily arched to his face.
The scent of her creaming pussy called to him. He let her go. The need to pull her down and fuck her hard was scary. It tore right into his wish not to rush her. His thoughts filled with pictures of holding her thighs apart and pounding his erection into her pussy. His cock leaked and his balls ached.
She stood before him naked.
He gazed up into her eyes.
“Take your pants off. If I don’t have you inside me soon…” The need in her voice soothed his fear.
Chris took his pants off. His cock bumped on his stomach muscles sending hot pre-cum streaking across them.
He stood to pull Emily into his arms and kiss her lips. He plunged a hand between her thighs. The wet welcome there sent spears of sensation right through his body. He was on fire with the need to bury his cock in her, but he pushed his fingers into her pussy to make sure he wouldn’t hurt her when he fucked her. Her folds swollen, her cream flowed on his fingers. The air was laden with the erotic perfume of sex. His urgency brought his kisses down her neck along the soft place in her shoulder and he sucked.

©Elodie Parkes 2014 Siren Publishing All Rights Reserved

Cafe in the Park - Teaser 6

 AUTHOR BIO

Elodie Parkes is a British author writing romance, erotic, contemporary, and often with a twist of mystery, paranormal or suspense. Her books are always steamy — cool stories and hot love scenes.

Elodie lives in Canterbury with her two dogs. She works in an antique emporium by day and writes at night, loving the cloak of silent darkness that descends on the rural countryside around her home.

Elodie writes for, Hot Ink Press, Moon Rose Publishing, Eternal Press, Secret Cravings, Evernight, and Siren Publishing.

She has also released titles as an individual indie author.

Cafe in the Park - Teaser 1

 FOLLOW LINKS

BLOGTUMBLRFACEBOOKTWITTERGOOGLE+
PINTERESTYOUTUBEAMAZONAMAZON UK
SMASHWORDSBARNES & NOBLESALL ROMANCE
BOOK STRANDEVERYNIGHT PUBLISHING
ROMANCE REVIEWSMANIC READERS

Cafe in the Park - Teaser 5

 GIVEAWAY PRIZES

One $10 or £10 Amazon Gift card

Five eCopies of Elodie’s latest release from Hot Ink Press, Love at First Sigh, for kindle and gifted from Amazon a duo of contemporary erotic romance for 18+ readers

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cafe in the Park - Teaser 2

 

Tour Hosted & Organized by:
1-MINIBUTTON

**Review** Tim O’Rourke’s Moonshine (The Moon Trilogy, #3)

Moonshine (The Moon Trilogy, #3)

A Paranormal Horror Adventure Filled with Action, Adventure, Surprises and Heart-warming Moments! A great trilogy for Halloween!!

Weak and still not yet a true vampire, Winnie McCall heads north toward Scotland in the company of the last of the werewolves, Thaddeus Blake. Hunted relentlessly by two police officers, Thaddeus and Winnie must find the Moonshine, a prism that when matched with the Moonbeam, will destroy the vampires.

When two ancient enemies go head to head, the body count soon starts to rise, but who is it leaving a trail of dead bodies along the path that Thaddeus and Winnie are taking? And what is the terrible secret from Winnie’s past that is preventing her friend Ruby Little from staying dead?

With terrifying consequences, Winnie discovers how far she and the man she loves, Thaddeus Blake, will go to survive and remain the last of their species.

A shock ending that will leave you stunned, ‘Moonshine’ is the final book in ‘The Moon Trilogy’ by bestselling author, Tim O’Rourke.

REVIEW

Another action-packed adventure of paranormal horror and drama from Tim O’Rourke, with many twists and turns, especially as the ending nears. You will be blown away with this ending and the many surprises that the author reveals. Two questions many of you will be asking are, ‘Can there ever be a truce between vampires and werewolves?’ and ‘Will Thad and Winnie’s love be enough to hold everything together?’

Winnie is slowly turning into a vampire, whilst Thad is the last of the werewolves. Being hunted down by his last love’s vampire father, Thad has to keep going to prevent the end for all werewolves. After Winnie has been bitten by a vampire, and turning into one herself, these two are very unlikely characters to unite and work together. Yet Winnie’s love for Thad keeps her doing just that! For the very first time in Winnie’s life she feels the love and the freedom she thought she would never have. Thad has given her so much, despite his early intentions. The bond they have is strong and the reader feels that anything is possible as long as these characters are together.

Not only do they share their love for each other, but they both need each other to survive. During full moons, Thad needs Winnie to ensure he doesn’t harm anyone in his wolf form. He needs to be caged somewhere and watched until he returns to his more human state. Meanwhile, as Winnie is becoming more vampire-like, she also has the need and thirst for blood. She needs Thad to help her through her thirsts. They need to ensure their safety from each other as well as the safety for humans to prevent either of them being harmed and to prevent the truth from coming out.

“She would have to look after him as much as he would have to take care of her. They needed each other. Thaddeus, therefore, knew in his heart that he couldn’t leave Winnie behind, even if he wanted to – because without her at his side, he risked dying as much as she. Whether she held him back or not, they were now forever linked – held together that shrouded the world he lived in.”

The plan for Thaddeus is to travel to Scotland where he can threaten to destroy all vampires if he connects the Moonbeam with the Moonshine. As a result of this connection, all vampires will cease to exist. With Winnie turning, Thaddeus is hoping that the vampires are willing to see reason and once they are aware of the true love that exists between Thad and Winnie then perhaps a truce can be made. To make matters worse, there is a trail of dead bodies that are following Thad and Winnie and the local police are following them. The police are not all they seem to be as readers may be aware from Moonbeam (The Moon Trilogy, #2), and with vampires hunting them down Thad and Winnie do not have a great chance.

As well as the action, the chase, the attacks and the sheer desperation that Thad has, another element of Moonshine is the more spooky and eerie side, where the reader is given a much more detailed account of Ruby Little. Ruby Little was Winnie’s best friend from when they were younger and then living on the streets together. After Ruby’s death, Winnie began hearing her voice and seeing her. She has provided Winnie with advice and warnings. Still looking out for her friend from the other side. Some of these scenes are spooky and become more gory and horrific, especially as the trilogy has come on and the reader can envisage a Little Red Riding Hood character, back from the dead, but with maggots where her face should be. It is sad, especially for Winnie, and it is also horrifying and scary.

Moonshine is broken down into three sections: Thad and Winnie; Winnie and Ruby; and Winnie. Although I loved all three sections, I thought the flashbacks of Winnie’s history with her friend, Ruby Little, really stood out. This is partly due to the tragedy of Ruby’s life, the horrors that she endured. The whole atmosphere of this section is both dark and light as the reader begins to understand exactly what Ruby has gone through and her strength to cope with it and yet she also forms a special bond with Winnie that perhaps would never have been created if it wasn’t for the dark occurences. I feel that this type of scene is a new avenue for Tim O’Rourke and he has captured the hearts and minds of the reader magically. It is also extremely heart-warming when we discover how Ruby is protective of Winnie and she goes to great lengths, without really explaining an awful lot to Winnie to begin with. This is a friendship like no other and even after death, Ruby still looks out for her friend.

During the last chapters the tempo builds up again as the ending comes to a close. The rollercoaster of the series is set to turbo boost as the reader is thrown from one possible ending to another. The reader feels as desperate as Thad and Winnie as the heartbeat quickens from fight scenes to chases, from the uncertainty and the horror. This finale will leave the readers a little gobsmacked and torn between what has happened and maybe what they thought would happen. I love it when an author can completely baffle the reader and that’s what Tim O’Rourke has done.

The Moon Trilogy would be fantastic to read one book after the other, as one complete novel, as the reader is left on tenterhooks with the first two books. The pace is also very fast and full of action that you simply don’t want to stop reading. I would certainly love to see this series in a box set, but for now all three books are available for very affordable prices. (Currently Moonlight, The Moon Trilogy #1, is available for £0.77 at Amazon UK and $1.24 Amazon US. Please note that prices are subject to change.)

A copy of Moonshine (The Moon Trilogy #3) was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest and fair review.

You can purchase Moonshine (The Moon Trilogy #3) at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Review for Moonlight (The Moon Trilogy #1)

Review for Moonbeam (The Moon Trilogy #2)

Reviewed by Caroline Barker