Friday, February 28, 2014

Thief of Shadows (Maiden Lane #4) by Elizabeth Hoyt

Mass Market Paperback, 360 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by Grand Central Publishing (first published June 1st 2012)
ISBN 1455508322 (ISBN13: 9781455508327)
Characters:Winter Makepeace, Isabel Beckinhall, Baroness Beckinhall
Setting: London, England, 1738 (United Kingdom) 

 Elizabeth Hoyt's novels never disappoint. She is queen when it comes to dark plots with thoroughly captivating characters.

A MASKED MAN . . . Winter Makepeace lives a double life. By day he's the stoic headmaster of a home for foundling children. But the night brings out a darker side of Winter. As the moon rises, so does the Ghost of St. Giles-protector, judge, fugitive. When the Ghost, beaten and wounded, is rescued by a beautiful aristocrat, Winter has no idea that his two worlds are about to collide. A DANGEROUS WOMAN . . . Lady Isabel Beckinhall enjoys nothing more than a challenge. Yet when she's asked to tutor the Home's dour manager in the ways of society-flirtation, double-entendres, and scandalous liaisons-Isabel can't help wondering why his eyes seem so familiar-and his lips so tempting. A PASSION NEITHER COULD DENY During the day Isabel and Winter engage in a battle of wills. At night their passions are revealed . . . But when little girls start disappearing from St. Giles, Winter must avenge them. For that he might have to sacrifice everything-the Home, Isabel . . . and his life. 

I've read Wicked Intentions, the story of Winter's sister, so it was fun to be able to delve back into that world again. I still have to read all the one's in between, but I've been waiting to see Winter again. It seemed obvious she was going to make one, I just didn't know how she was going to make him into hero material.

I enjoy how to the world Winter Makepiece shows this stuffy do-gooder personality, when in reality he is just reining in his emotions and sense of righteousness. He puts his all into the orphanage and champions the orphans of the city by night as the Ghost of St. Giles. And suddenly he meets Lady Isabel Beckinhall and you see this other side of him that is charming and a little cheeky.

As usual, Ms. Hoyt's plots are wonderful, the books run together smoothly, and the characters are wonderfully complex.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Interview with M. LaRose, the author of The Flower Eater

Ravishing Pen: Thank you for taking the time to interview with us! We thoroughly enjoyed your book and thought there would be no one better to spotlight in our first ever author interview! 

Ravishing Pen: Could you tell us a little about your book from your point of view? 

M. LaRose: The Flower Eater is the manifestation of my life-long dream to write and publish a fairy-tale.

Ravishing Pen: Trilla’s world and the House of Zerr is such a magical place. Where did the ideas for this world come from? 

M. LaRose: Elements of the setting and plot came to me over many years. The title came to me first, and opened many questions in my mind. Pondering potential answers to those questions helped form the plot. Ideas of ancient priestesses, oracles, nuns, and convents led me to choose a fantasy setting where I could also explore psychic powers. I wanted to delve into the concept of taking vows, and the conflict involved when people break solemn oaths. Star-crossed love has always intrigued me and fit very naturally into this theme. I also wanted to conjure a magical world where a group of women have exalted power.

Ravishing Pen: The names! They are all so very original. Where did those originate? 

M. LaRose: The name of the heroine, Trilla, took me the longest to decide. I wanted a name that sounded feminine but was unusual, and that implied a connection with the energies of nature. Birdsong is often described as "trilling," hence a nature element, but according to the dictionary, the word "trill" also means to "twirl" or "revolve" and the probable Scandinavian origin of the word means "to vibrate." Since Trilla's psychic powers allow her consciousness to expand and travel in non-physical dimensions, the name seemed very fitting. Some characters' names came to me easily and felt correct right away. Others were harder to decide. I considered many names for the twin guards, Venn and Reller, yet finally went with those two as "working" names, intending to change them later. But as I wrote, the names "stuck" to the characters, so that was it!

Ravishing Pen: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

M. LaRose: The first-person voice of the story came naturally, since I've kept journals off and on since age 12. Over the years, I've had my share of confusing romances, unrequited love, and personal heart-break, and have heard many stories of romantic angst from friends, all of which helped breathe life into Trilla's emotional quandaries. As did real-life experiences of happiness and hope. One or two plot twists came to me very suddenly; out of the blue -- as if channeled and gifted to me by some divine source - I am very grateful for those!

Ravishing Pen: If your book were made into a movie, who do you picture playing each characters part?

M. LaRose: I don't feel strongly about any particular casting choice, but I can imagine Drew Barrymore as one of the younger high-priestesses and someone like Theresa Russell, Kathleen Turner, or Sharon Stone as The Time Sister. Mila Kunis would make a good Moon Sister. As for Trilla, it would have to be an actress who can embody the necessary mix of emotions, ranging from naive "good-girl" primness and spiritual devotion, to worldly ambition, morbid despair, vengeful anger, regret and contrition, to redemptive self-sacrifice and emotional maturity.

Ravishing Pen: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in The Flower Eater?

M. LaRose: I'm content with the story, so would not change anything -- except for a few spelling and grammar-related edits.

Ravishing Pen: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

M. LaRose: I do not have a favorite author, but my writing has probably been most influenced by the books of collected old-world fairy tales that I read in childhood, many with unknown authorship. A sense of mystery and magic combined with a moral ending satisfies me most. The romance novels of Victoria Holt are another influence.

Ravishing Pen: What project are you working on now?

M. LaRose: Along with marketing The Flower Eater, I'm developing a sequel that will expand on certain ideas and plot lines, including psychic powers and the love story.

Ravishing Pen: What do you hope a reader will take away from your writing?

M. LaRose: I hope readers of The Flower Eater will find within the story, an exciting and beautiful experience of a magical world; emotional catharsis; and a final sense of redemption, goodness, and hope.

Ravishing Pen: Thank you again for interviewing with us! Do you have any last thoughts for your readers?

M. LaRose: Let your dark angels rant and rave, in private, if they must; but always follow the advice of your good angels.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Flower Eater by M Larose

Paperback, 398 pages
Published August 21st 2013 by Archway
ISBN 1480801771 (ISBN13: 9781480801776)

This book was, at the risk of sounding cheesy, a magical read. I could not stop reading once I started, and it took me about three hours to finish. It was like Romeo and Juliet meets Hamlet, but with a happy ending.

I enjoyed Trilla, the main character, and I liked the character development of her. She went from being a young and naive girl, to being a strong and mystical woman. It was quite intriguing what happens once she eats the flowers, and how it affects her.

The world that M. LaRose has created in The Flower Eater is amazing. She gives so much detail that it's easy to envision what she is trying to portray. It was really a world filled with beauty and magic. I loved reading about Trilla's time in the House of Zerr. It was like Hogwarts and a convent all at once!

The villain, Endric, was very well written as well. You sympathized with him and thoroughly disliked him all at once. I do hope that in future novels the author goes more into detail about why eating the flowers affected him like it did. Perhaps it only works correctly with women?

The only real issue I had with the novel was I felt the relationship with Venn was a little rushed. I felt they needed more detail and more moments together. Also, I was a little surprised that she ended up with Venn. I saw her being with Reller, as his serious personality seemed to fit with the "New" Trilla much more. Oh, that would be FANTASTIC drama for the next book. And I DO hope there will be a sequel, because I can't wait to read more of this world!

All in all, a most wonderful debut novel. One of the most original and captivating books I've had the pleasure of reading in quite some time!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Interlude (The Bridge #1.5)

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward in the same direction.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

noun \ˈin-tər-ˌlüd\ 
: a period of time between events or activities
: a brief romantic or sexual meeting or relationship
: a short piece of music that is played between the parts of a longer one

When the snarky Natalie LeGrange meets a handsome stranger on a train to New York City, her immature philosophy on life is suddenly challenged. A casual relationship quickly evolves into a beautiful friendship, but the ultimate sacrifice must be made in order for the other to follow the stars and dream. The Interlude is an intermission to The Bridge Series but can be enjoyed as a flirty, quick read on its own. 

This one was a little hard for me to write a review for, because I loved The Ballad, and I think Ashley is an amazing  author. However, I was not as big a fan of this one. I realize it's supposed to be a short story, and just a small relationship in the course of Natalie's MANY relationships, but it sort of hit me as a waste of a grand story. Now, before anyone gets offended, it's not that I hated the story, I enjoyed it very much. It was quirky and funny, and touching all at the same time. And of course I love Ashley's wonderful way with words, and her ability to paint a scene so well. It's only that I so enjoyed the chemistry between Natalie and Zach, and I recognized the possibility of writing this into a full novel. Instead, at the end I was sort of left feeling uncompleted and disappointed that was where they were leaving things. It's my hope that the next full novel of Ms. Pullo's is Natalie's redemption.

The Ballad (The Bridge #1) by Ashley Pullo

noun \ˈba-ləd\
: a slow popular song that is typically about love
: a kind of poem or song that tells a story 

The Ballad is a Modern Romance designed to involve the reader in the authenticity of life, love and all things in between.

Chloe LeGrange is a singer/songwriter guided by her internal rhythm and raw emotions. Adam Ford is a sexy attorney, disciplined and emotionally guarded. Her impulsive behavior is counter-balanced by his calm composure, but a stable relationship can often divert one’s own path to self-discovery.

The Ballad is written in the unique narrative style of Chloe’s witty approach to life, with unpredictable crescendos and intimate verses. 

Does love follow a formula? 

Join Chloe and Adam on their journey through the picturesque streets of Brooklyn, so passionate and real that a simple love story becomes a romantic ballad

The ballad of Chloe and Adam was one of the most original story structures I've seen in quite some time. I was drawn in from the very first by Ashley Pullo's incredible skill at setting a scene, and describe it with beautiful word imagery. I spent a couple of pages after the birthday party entirely confused, only to realize that she was telling Chloe and Adam's love story in reverse! We start from Chloe's 35th birthday, and go from there to the first meeting of Adam and Chloe. What I believe I enjoyed the most about this story was how REAL it is. It's not all fluffy and perfect, everyone is not staring at each other in longing for half the book. It's an everyday love type of story, where you meet someone who is generally your opposite, as is the case for the extremely emotional musician Chloe and guarded and trouble Attorney Adam, and you work through your issues to find the love underneath. I was incredibly impressed by this novel of Ashley Pullo's.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A to Z Book Blogger Survey!

I saw this over at girl of 1000 wonders and I thought it looked so fun, and what a great way to get to know each other! So here goes!

Author You've Read The Most Books From

Well, off the top of my head I would probably say Stephanie Laurens or Mary Balogh, because they do have quite a bit of books, and I've read everything they have done.

Best Sequel Ever

This one is hard, because I don't normally read a lot of books that could be termed sequels. Series, yes. If it has to be a sequel, then Scarlett, by Stephans Mitchell would have to be a top choice.

Currently Reading

In Between reviews I've been rereading all of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. It might be about the 100th time since I discovered them when I was 16. I am reading them in anticipation of the Outlander show that will be airing on Starz sometime early next year. I've been waiting for this for years!

Drink Of Choice While Reading

I could give a healthy answer and say water or green smoothies, but I will be truthful. Since reading is a comfort activity for me, it's usually hot chocolate or whisky, sometimes even a combination of the two. (No really, try it! It's fantastic.)

E-reader or physical book?

Oh, physical for sure! I will read a kindle book if that is the only format available. Sometimes if an author wants me to do editing work as well as a review, I will ask for a word or pdf copy. However, nothing can match the magic of a hard copy book. For me, I am a little weird in that I enjoy older versions better. I love the musty smell of old books, with the fading covers and pages falling apart. I love seeing that others enjoyed the same adventure as me and I think about what would be going through those persons heads as they read a certain part. I have an old copy of the complete works of shakespeare, from 1900, and I just adore it. I love looking at the beat up book, and knowing that others have shared the magical words in this exact book. And now I have gone and written a novel of my own about physical books, haven't I? :)

Fictional character you probably would have dated in high school

I am going to concur with girl of 1000 wonders with this answer. Honestly, can there be any proper response to this question besides Jamie Fraser? Diana Gabaldon truly made the perfect hero. He's a man who has gone through things that would break and destroy most, but he battles through them with strength and, and of course, the Fraser stubbornness. Despite hardship and heartbreak, he still manages to love with all his heart and be a man that everyone can love and depend on. Plus kilt and accent, duh. I can't wait to see him portrayed by Sam Heughan.

Glad you gave this book a chance

Prince Charming, by Julie Garwood I am not usually one for western type books, or usually anything, at the risk of sounding unpatriotic, set in America. It's just not in my realm of interest. I generally stick with British history. However, I was given this book back in high school. The librarian always gave me any romances that people donated, because who donates romance novels to schools? I decided to give this one a try one day when I was out of other books to read, and trying to avoid doing homework. I finished it in just a couple of hours because I couldn't stop reading it! I adored Lucas, and the chemistry that he had with Taylor was fantastic. This is another book that I really must get a new copy of, because I still have that same one from when I was 16. The poor book is falling about and the cover is near invisible. I read it at least once a year, sometimes more. After discovering Julie, I went out and found the rest of her work. Some have been hits with me, some misses, but I always come back to this one. Prince Charming is her best work in my humble opinion.

Hidden Gem Book

Normally, I would give the same answer as above, but I suppose that is not so hidden is it? I actually have two books I could put into this category. One is The Bride Of Black Douglas, by Elaine Coffman. The other is such a hidden gem it's even hidden from me. I have read this book SO MANY TIMES, and I still can't remember the name of it. The essential story is that it's a medieval romance. The warrior comes home because his latest wife died. He has tons of children, by various mothers if I remember right, although I also seem to remember something about most of them being orphans that he actually takes in and says are his but are not. I remember the description on the back says something about him being a great warrior who is afraid of nothing except for his own children. He sends one of his men out to get him a new wife, one that is ugly and won't make him want even more children. Of course him man goes out and finds some cute young thing, with a horrible stepmother or something, so she goes with the agent and marries the warrior. I might be blending two stories, I do that sometimes. But that's what I think happened. If anyone could help me out with that, I would be ever so grateful!

Important moment in your reading life

I suppose for me it would be discovering Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. You never realize how influenced you are by books until you find "the one." For me the one was Outlander. I grew up in foster care, going from home to home with no permanent fixtures in my life except for my books. What I learned from books shaped who I am, since they were the only real governing force in my life. When I discovered Outlander, I also discovered a love for history and Scotland, among many other things. It helped me come to terms with the abuse in my own life when I saw Jamie battle through hardship and abuse himself. I am now in my late 20's and have a strong and positive outlook on life. I am studying to be an Archaeologist, with special interests in British History, namely Scottish, with a bit of Colonial knowledge as well. I have a side hobby of working with herbal medicine. I mean, MANY books helped me learn to be who I am today, but Outlander will always be the core.

Just finished 

Well, as I am rereading the Outlander series, I just finished the Fiery Cross, and I am now reading A breath of snow and ashes.

Kind of books you won't read

Usually any political, mystery, thriller.

Longest books you've read

The Outlander series gets to get mentioned again. Each book seems to get longer and longer. And NO, I am not complaining. I love it.

Number of bookcases you own

Well, I only have one, but it's a five shelf. The rest of my books are scattered around the house in various organized piles because I don't have room for another shelf. My husband doesn't even like the huge bookshelf we already have!

One book you have read multiple times 

Looks like Outlander is going to be a running theme on this survey. I suppose another would of course be Prince Charming, and Devil's Bride by Stephanie Laurens.

Prefered place to read

For now I usually read sitting on the couch or sprawled across my bed. Someday, when I have my own house, I plan on a room just for my books and reading. Some lovely reading nook with a huge window, facing the garden. Sunlight streaming over me while I read, with the window open and the scent of roses filling the air....ahhh.

Quote that inspires you

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore, Dream, Discover. –Mark Twain

Reading Regret

I suppose that I didn't give YA novels a chance before now. There is such a wealth of good reading and writing if you overlook books like twilight and such. Veronica Roth is fantastic, and I was thrilled to hear she got a movie.

Series You Started and Need to Finish 

Oh goodness, I don't even know how to start answering that question. There are way too many to list. I suppose a couple I could mention are some of Brenda Joyce's novels and I still need to read a couple new novels that just came out by Mary Balough.

Three of Your All Time Favorite Books

1. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon, of course
2. Prince Charming, by Julie Garwood
3. Devil's Bride, by Stephanie Laurens
4. Because I am a rebel, and I don't want to miss this one, The more I see you by Lynn Kurland.

Unapologetic Fangirl For

I think it's pretty obvious by now right? Outlander.

Very Excited for This Release More Than All the Others

Written In My Heart's Own Blood, by Diana Gabaldon

Worst Bookish Habit

Forgetting to use bookmarks and just laying it page down, book open when I need to stop for a minute. It sucks when one of my pets knocks over my book, because it takes me forever to find the page I was one. Plus, I KNOW that it's not good for the book, but I do it anyways.

X Marks the Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book…

I really need to alphabetize my shelves again, is what I noticed doing this exercise haha. It looks like the 27th book on my very overcrowded bookcase is Shanna, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Your Latest Book Purchase

I just went to Savers and bought 5 new books. Including The Viper, by Monica McCarty.

ZZZ-Snatcher Book (last one that kept you up way too late)

The cheating answer would of course be anything in the Outlander series that I've been rereading. But I suppose the VERY last book I read at night would have been Every Scandalous Secret, by Gayle Callen

Well, this was incredibly fun! And I am sure I answered the questions with more detail than I was meant to, but such is always the case with me! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Laird of Ballanclaire, Jackie Ivie

Paperback, 416 Pages
Published October 1st, 2013 By Zebra

I just won this book in a goodreads giveaway (and it was signed! Yay me!), and I am SO very happy that I entered. This book was a delight to read and I classified in it one my of favorite terms, "Unputdownable!" 


Kameron Ballan, heir to the Laird of Ballanclaire, has no respect for his father's titles and treaties. They've gotten him naught but trouble—and a betrothal to a sickly Spanish princess. So when his latest peccadillo gets him transported to America to subdue the restless colonies, he's ready to prove his worth as a man, not a figurehead.


Constant Ridgely, seventh daughter of an upright patriot family, discovers Kam beaten senseless by a crowd of colonists. She must hide him or watch him die, but the strange, brawny Scotsman inflames passions she's never guessed at.


Under Constant's ministrations, Kam discovers a lovely, innocent woman whose hands stir his desires. But much is at stake and there is much to lose, and their happiness depends on a risk so great only the truly lost would dare..

First of all, it was a breath of fresh air to read a novel that didn't have the couple fighting each other and fighting their attraction to each other for the whole book. They got to know each other, Kam helped her build her self esteem, she acknowledged the fact that no one else made her feel that way, and I loved it! I loved that he didn't care about his title and would have willingly given all for her. I loved that despite his upbringing, he himself was open to love and emotions and had no problems expressing it. 

I very much enjoyed watching Constant grow from being a farm girl with no sense of self worth, and blossom into royalty. I do wish that we had gotten to see more of her year away becoming the Princess, I think that would have been lovely to see that character development, and maybe it would have opened it up for Esmeralda to have her own book. As it is, perhaps we could build off of this world and create stories for his guard that he is putting together? Just an idea. I would love to see more of Kam and Constant, and see how their lives are with her living as the Princess. And perhaps see how many kids they have now. Good lord, Constant is fertile isn't she? 

All in all, it was a wonderful story, that I highly recommend. I can't wait to read more from this author!
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