Happy Easter to all our Readers!

Easter 2013 018-001I was hoping to post a picture of some golden daffodils in our garden, whilst basking in the spring sunshine, but the British weather has other ideas. Instead, I have made an internet star out of the Easter Chick my eldest made at Brownies this week. I hope that you like him!

I am about half way through reading Kellyann Zuzulo’s The Genie Ignites and hope to post a review  in the next few days. So far it is a very sexy and engrossing read, with strong elements of suspense and intrigue.

I noticed this week that Amazon has some deals on the following e-books (please note that the prices were correct at the time of posting but may have changed when you read this post):

Darker After Midnight (Midnight Breed 10), by Lara Adrian

Amazon UK 99p            Amazon US $1.51

I loved this book, but then I love all of the Midnight Breed Series! I recommend it if you like vampire romances, featuring some very alpha males, although I would advise starting with the first book in the series. Lara Adrian has a great take on the vampire myth as her vampires have alien DNA.

Knight Awakened (Circle of Seven #1), by Coreen Callahan

Amazon UK 99p        Amazon US $1.50

I haven’t read any books by this author as yet, but I am tempted to try this one.

Consequences, by Aleatha Romig

Amazon UK 73p          Amazon US $1.10

I purchased this book late last year and have not been brave enough to read it yet! It is the first book in a trilogy. Most readers elsewhere have loved it. It sounds like a dark read along the lines of an erotic thriller, but I believe that it does contain some violent scenes.

Once Burned: A Night Prince Novel: Night Prince Series, Book 1, by Jeaniene Frost

Amazon UK £1.99       Amazon US $3.03

I have read some of the author’s Night Huntress Series which pairs a half-vampire Cat with a scrummy vampire called Bones, and I really enjoyed them as they are sexy and funny, with a kick-ass heroine. Also Bones is one of my favourite vampire characters. According to the book blurb, this tale features Vlad Tepesh, who inspired the greatest vampire legend of them all, and a woman whose body has been scarred by a tragic accident, giving her the power to channel electricity and learn a person’s darkest secrets. It will be a great read if it is as good as the Night Huntress novels that I have read.

Happy reading!

Tina and Caroline 🙂

The Key to Helmbrooke. For the Love of Isabelle. By Jayn Wilde

41JsSzD0w2L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-074Sweet Fantasy Romance

The Key to Helmbrooke. For the Love of Isabelle by Jayn Wilde is her first published work. It contains an evil queen, a young maiden and a man intent on committing one final foul deed before he starts a new life. It is a short story of circa 82 pages.

Isabelle’s mother died a year previously and on the anniversary of her death her father is kidnapped and spirited away by the queen’s men, as he refuses to give them a special key they are seeking. Isabelle leaves her fiancée behind and sets out from her village, alone and on foot to find him, heading to the palace of Helmbrooke, home to the queen. Isabelle is a young woman with a free spirit and craves adventure.

Queen Tristana, feared by all, tasks Zander, a skilled tracker and hunter, with finding Isabelle. She instructs him to earn Isabelle’s’s trust, take the key from her and return it to the palace, leaving her to die in the forest. Zander, a tortured hero, is not proud of his past and decides that this will be his last job for the queen, before takes the gold he is due and uses it to fund a more reputable future.

Isabelle loses her way and by chance comes across Zander, who points her in the right direction. Zander is intrigued by Isabelle and follows her as he is curious as to why anyone would voluntarily seek the palace. Isabelle employs him to escort her there and it is not long before Zander realises that she is the woman he needs to deceive and abandon in the forest. However, the more he gets to know her, the less he desires to do this.The remainder of the plot includes capture, incarceration, magic and a sword wielding queen. We learn what happened to Isabelle’s mother, why the key is so important to the queen and whether Zander and Isabelle have a future together.

The book is a sweet romance. Isabelle and Zander are attracted to each other almost immediately, although Zander tries to fight this because of his orders and as such Isabelle thinks that he does not care for her. However, in the course of their journey to the palace we are given many examples of how their attraction grows and how they come to develop feelings for each other. I particularly liked the two scenes which took place at the waterfall – the descriptions were very vivid and they made me smile. I also enjoyed the humorous banter between Zander and Isabelle, which formed part of their courtship.

Overall it is a heart warming romantic tale. I could imagine it being told by the fireside to young and old alike. I liked the plot and thought that the pacing of the story was excellent. I would have liked a little more back story about the two main characters, but this would have been difficult due to the length of the book. I would certainly read another book by the author and recommend it to all lovers of a sweet romance.

Author Jayn Wilde’s Blog

The Hourglass Killer Trilogy by LR Potter

The Hourglass Killer Trilogy - All 3 BooksWhat a brilliant and carefully written dark, dark crime thriller? Poor Tess!!! Tess Champion is a police detective in Colarado, and we begin the first novel, ‘Dwindling Sands’, with Tess being subjected to a violent, torturous, sexual attack in her own home. As she returns to work, alongside her partner, Anthony Delgado, they are faced with a murder of a woman with similar scenarios that Tess found herself in. Is she going mad? Is she scared after what happened to her? Is she adding two and two together and coming up with five? However, over time there are more murders, each with a possible link to her ordeal.

Tess, although now feeling vulnerable and weak, is actually one of the strongest heroine’s that I have read about. Mentally, she has been teased and taunted, confused and, after the third book, ‘Cascading Sands’, in that much despair that it is a wonder that she doesn’t end her own pain. However, she keeps on going. She is a fighter deep down and her inner strength helps her to survive.

As Tess’ attacker knew her by name, it is believed throughout that it must be somebody that she knew. There are five main characters to keep you guessing; Anthony Delgado, her partner; Carter, her twin brother (even though unlikely, you can’t rule anyone out!); Thom Wyndom, her new love interest; Dominic Wyndom, Thom’s brother and an acquaintance to Tess, and finally; Dane Carver, the first and only true love from Tess’ past. I kept an open mind as different areas of the story led me to believe that each of these characters were capable and had the opportunity but as the story unfolded there were so many possible scenarios that the reader simply cannot determine the culprit until it is all made clear at the end.

Due to the motivation, the obsession, of the murderer and their perseverance it does feel very personal. Therefore, each event that happens with Tess is very believable and horrific. He, the murderer, is referred to as ‘The Angry Man’ and, in the prologue, he is the first character the reader encounters. We learn of his obsession, his need for control and throughout the book we know how he despises those he deems vulnerable and weak. These can be disposed of, as far as he is concerned, as there is no real need for them.

Initially, I was planning to read ‘Dwindling Sands (Book 1)’ of The Hourglass Killer Trilogy and separate each book with another of my choice in between. However, I was hooked! Each book of this trilogy is carefully interwoven with the next that I just had to simply carry on reading. The stories, settings, characters, etc, are so fluent that it felt like I was reading only one novel. ‘The Hourglass Trilogy’ is absolutely gripping, with so many twists and turns and unexpected turn of events. Just when the reader thinks that there are no more ordeals for Tess – bam! – another hits you right in the face.

There are many adult themes in these novels, such as abduction, rape and murder. Hence the strongly recommended 18+ year age warning. LR Potter’s style of writing these horrific scenes is amazing. The reader feels so tense in parts and there are some scenes that are creepy and yet the writing of these scenes is not over-exaggerated. LR Potter displays her sensitivity towards these scenes when she describes Tess at her worst, after each ordeal. It would be so nice just to pick Tess up from the book and pop her in your pocket to keep her safe! She is in trouble, without even realising it at times, and, working for the police department, she feels like she should be able to protect herself. It is so upsetting, knowing that she is vulnerable and a possible target/link to this monster.

I am disappointed to let Tess go – although to be fair she has been through enough. However, the whole setting and characters of these books make me want to read more about her. If you are interested in crime thrillers this is a must-read. If you would like to try a crime thriller for the first time, ‘The Hourglass Killer Trilogy’ will blow you away, at the same time as keeping you on your toes. After this absolutely brilliant introduction to LR Potter’s work , I am definitely looking forward to reading more of her novels.

‘The Hourglass Killer Trilogy’ was sent to me for the purpose of a honest and just review. Received gratefully, with thanks, from the copyeditor, Carolyn Pinard.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Books I’ll be reading this week

genieignites_full-17942442_std[1]I am planning to read Kellyann Zuzulo’s romance novel, The Genie Ignites (Book 1 of the Zubis Chronicles), which she has kindly provided ARR for an honest review. I am very excited as I have never read a book with a genie as a hero and having read the excerpt on Kellyann’s site I am intrigued. This is the book blurb from her publisher, Boroughs Publishing:

Girl meets genie. They fall in love. Girl gets killed. Genie gets cursed. Three millennia later, she’s reincarnated as a smart, somewhat sardonic 21st century editor who can’t remember the great love of her existence. The genie however, will never forget her.

I think that the pairing of a modern day woman with an ancient genie has all the ingredients of a great read. I hope to post my review in the next week or so.

Templar Publishing have also kindly provided us with copies of a proof of a forthcoming young adult publication, Drummer Girl, 16691515[1]-002by Bridget Tyler, for an honest review. In this novel, five London schoolgirls form a band and win a talent show that takes them to L. A . However, L.A. has a dark underbelly and the girls find themselves having to deal with issues such as murder and drug addiction, alongside the usual teenage trials of first love and self-image, in this coming of age novel. Caroline and I have decided to read and review this independently of each other and post our reviews side by side this week. The novel is scheduled for publication this May. See Amazon UK  and Amazon US  sites.

We love reading and reviewing books for the site, but we are also looking into ways to spice up the content where we can. Look out for some guest posts from authors or other bloggers, blog hops and some special themes, starting with our Werewolf theme coming soon!

Tina 🙂

Cover design for Drummer Girl by Will Steele

Update from Tina

Books I’ve read recently

assassin%20(1).jpg.opt134x203o0,0s134x203[1]I read and reviewed Samantha Holt’s The Angel’s Assassin, which takes place in medieval England. If you have read my review you know that I enjoyed this immensely. The hero, a dark mercenary knight, is not only an alpha, but a tortured alpha. The woman he is sent to kill is the very woman that melts his heart!

 

15724366[1]-002I also re-read Connie Balfour’s Deceptive Lord, (Lords of Bondage Series #1). I read this last year before we began our blog and it is one of those unforgettable reads that I just had to share. The story takes place in an alternate Earth, at first in Flourda, in the household of a deranged dominatrix Countess Nefertiti, who keeps a male harem, which is on the receiving end of her depraved passions. The hero of the tale, Drest, an alien/Druid hybrid from the land of Asstrumnia, infiltrates her household on a mission from his king. In escaping Nefertiti’s clutches, he kidnaps Lady Eden Avenal, Nefertiti’s half-sister, and transports her to Asstrumnia, rendering her a captive in an alien land. I have posted this on our Sizzle and Burn site. It is a very naughty and humorous romp! For adult readers.

I also read a couple of novels that I don’t plan to do a detailed review of but which I found to be great reads:

Kristen Ashley’s Knight, book 1 in her Unfinished Heroes Series, an erotic romance. This is the first book I have read from this author and the characters are addictive. The main character, Knight, is an alpha male and an anti-hero.  He has had a dark past and lives life on the wrong side of the law, although he has his own code of honour.  He meets a young woman, Anya, who does not belong to his world, and although he does not think he will be good for her they begin a passionate affair. Knight is  very dominant in and out of the bedroom and I enjoyed all of the scenes the main couple had together! The main tension in the plot not only came from whether Anya enjoyed Knight’s dominance but also whether she could accept him for what he was, especially when the extent of his operations comes to light. It was a super hot, romantic read and I will be reading Kristen Ashley again.

Elizabeth Hoyt’s To Desire a Devil, is a great conclusion to her Legend of the Four Soldiers Series. Each story has centred on one of the four soldiers who survived the betrayal of their regiment and suffered torture at the hands of natives in the American colonies. In this instalment, Reynaud St Aubyn  returns to Georgian England seven years after being presumed dead, to reclaim his Earldom, after being enslaved by the natives who tortured his fellow soldiers. He is a scarred hero, inside and out, and I loved the way he courted the heroine, Beatrice, the neice of the current Earl.

The main tension in the plot is whether Reynaud can reclaim his title, as he is suffering from post combative stress disorder and it is in the interests of others to prove him insane. There is also the matter of who is responsible for the attempts on his life and what impact these events and his state of mind have on his relationship with the heroine. I love reading Elizabeth Hoyt, as her heroes and heroines and the situations she puts them in are always so original. I have read all of her books now and am eagerly awaiting the next in her Maiden Lane Series.

Happy reading!

Tina 🙂

Deceptive Lord (Lords of Bondage) cover art by kind permission of Corinne Balfour

The Angel’s Assassin, by Samantha Holt

assassin%20(1).jpg.opt134x203o0,0s134x203[1]The Redemptive Power of Love

In this medieval romance penned by Samantha Holt, a dark knight finds redemption through the power of love, in a romantic tale that I found had an almost fable like quality.

In The Angel’s Assassin, Nicholas, a hardened mercenary knight, is employed by Lord Benedict. He is tasked with taking his niece Annabel, under the pretext of protecting her from rebels, from her home at Castle Alderweald, and return her to Benedict’s abode. Once there, he is to guard her until he receives word from his employer to return her to Alderweald, ensuring that she then meets with a fatal accident. In the intervening time Lord Benedict will persuade the king, Williams Rufus, that Annabel is a traitor, thus paving the way for him to inherit Alderweald, without suspicion falling on him. Nicholas has not killed a woman before, but accepts the task. When he reaches Alderweald Castle it is already under siege from the rebels. Nicholas therefore easily persuades the terrified young woman that he has been sent by her uncle to bring her to safety, and they escape on foot into the adjacent forest.

Nicholas has never met a woman like Annabel, whom he finds angelic, almost fey like in her appearance and he fights his attraction knowing what he must do. Annabel in turn is grateful to her rescuer, seeing him as a brave and honourable man. Forced into close proximity a strong attraction develops into something far deeper. Yet will Nicholas fulfil his contract? What will Annabel do if she finds out his real motives for rescuing her? Annabel’s evil uncle will go to any ends necessary to claim Alderweald, even if Nicholas decides to leave his contract unfulfilled. The remaining plot contains some sweet and hot love making scenes, deceit, violence, betrayal and redemption.

Nicholas, a lonely man, has accumulated wealth due to his misdeeds but he sees no joy in life until Annabel. He is awed by her blind trust in him as her saviour, but also her kindness and intelligence. I loved the way she seems to mesmerise and bewitch him. Annabel has had no experience of men outside her own family. She is immediately grateful to her mysterious and taciturn rescuer and little by little she breaches his defences, finding out as much as she can about him. She knows that he is not unaffected by her presence and finds him equally attractive.

I found the tale to be a sweet romance with likeable central characters. I love a dark hero and was praying for his redemption and a HEA throughout. Much of the plot centred on the couples’ growing attraction towards each other, the conflict coming from Nicholas’ own feelings of self loathing and from the machinations of Lord Benedict. I found that Annabel was not your typical Medieval heroine, as she succumbed to the physical side of their relationship more easily than perhaps a lady would have done at the time. However, she is portrayed as a character who knows her own mind and I think that any woman faced with a hero such as Nicholas would have acted the same way! I enjoy Samantha Holt’s writing style, which enables the reader to get into the head of her characters and transports them into another time and place. If you like medieval romances I can also recommend her novel A Crimson Castle.

Author Samantha Holt’s website

Sizzle and Burn Book Reviews

Tina-001We like our fiction with an element of romance in it, be it a paranormal, sci-fi, contemporary or an historical, from books aimed at young adults to adults.

However,  sometimes the novels we read may be controversial and darker and we are not comfortable putting a review of them on this site.This is because some of our readers are below 18. It is for that reason that I have set up a separate blog site Sizzle and Burn, where Caroline and I will make the ocassional book review of erotic romance, dark fantasy and erotica.

It is an Adults only site for  those of you like us who like your romance to sometimes push the envelope. If you think that you might be interested than pop over to the site to check it out. If you are at all offended by anything that goes beyond a mainstream erotic romance than it may not be for you. We will continue to post adult books which we feel are not as controversial on A Reader’s Review, labelling them as containing adult content where we think it is necessary. In fact we have a review of an erotic paranormal for A Reader’s Review planned very shortly!

There are currently three reviews on Sizzle and Burn, the latest being Corinne Balfour’s Deceptive Lord, the first book in her Lords of Bondage series.  If there is anyone out there who wishes to blog alongside us on Sizzle and Burn, we’d be delighted to discuss it.

If we post a review on Sizzle and Burn, we’ll mention it as part of any updates we put on this site. You can also click on the link on the left of A Reader’s Review screen.

Happy reading!

Tina @ ARR