Monday, May 20, 2013

Release Day Blitz *Review + Excerpt*: TRAGIC by J.A. Huss

Rook Walsh is TRAGIC

Because life so far – just sucks. Some girls get parents. Rook got the foster care system. Some girls get Prince Charming. Rook got an abusive frog. Some girls get lucky…

Rook got a second chance.

And she took it. Because when fate throws you a bone – you grab it with both hands and run.

Antoine Chaput knows the minute he spies Rook in his photography studio that she’s got The Look. The dark and desperate look he must have to land the exclusive TRAGIC media contract.

Rook is paired up with top model, Ronin, and he’s everything her abusive ex-boyfriend wasn’t. Patient, gentle, happy, attentive, and sexy! He knows exactly what to do to make Rook blush for Antoine’s camera.

Rook’s luck changes in an instant and suddenly she’s the darling of the modeling world. It’s a dream job to go with a dream guy and all she has to do is look pretty and follow directions. But there’s always a price to pay – and Rook is about to get the bill.
I have always considered J.A. Huss a brilliant author, but with her latest release, Tragic, I believe she's more than brilliant! From her action-packed science fiction series, I Am Just Junco, to her steamy New Adult contemporary series following Rook and Ronin, Huss is showing her talent for entertaining readers no matter the subject.

Rook is at her lowest in life: living in a shelter and recently finding herself unemployed. A chance encounter with models in a coffee shop lead her to photographer Antoine and his upcoming TRAGIC campaign. She lands the role that turns her life around for the better despite finding herself out of her comfort zone and modeling exotic shoots with charming Ronin.

I'm usually not a fan of New Adult stories with both a hero and heroine's point of view, but Huss doesn't upset the balance by keeping Ronin's thoughts to a minimum and focusing more on Rook. Their connection is spot on because they have different upbringings but a mutual understanding of each other. The first of the Rook and Ronin series is emotional and filled with reality. I can't wait to see how their story continues to unfold. I know that with Huss' style it'll be an unpredictable but entertaining experience!
*eARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review*

Rook & Ronin #1
May 2013, ebook


Antoine's camera is on Ronin's left, so Ronin's left hand begins to caress my foot with small circles, a touch so light it actually makes me squirm because my feet are totally ticklish. He takes the hint and slowly sweeps up my calf, which is just about the most sensual feeling I've ever experienced. I moan out a little and his bruising kisses are back, crushing against my mouth.

Just as Antoine takes his attention to our lips Ronin's right hand also begins at my foot, swirling his fingertips around the soft pad of my arch. I laugh into his mouth and he pulls me close, my hair hiding our faces for a moment, and says, "Shhhh, now. Be good, Gidge." And then his right hand sweeps up my leg and under my dress, caressing the same small circles along my inner thigh.

"Oh, shit," I whimper as I bury myself in his neck. Just a few more inches and I'm going to come undone. My neck tilts back as the sensations all crash together and he takes his kisses to my plunging neckline, his left hand, the one still out in the open, slips up to my breast just as the hidden hand drops down a little farther, just a flutter of a touch against my crease.

He reaches over, not with the hidden hand, and picks up a glass of wine and hands it to me.

My fingertips barely understand what to do with the glass because the only thing on my mind is where his other hand is. We each take a sip and then he bites into a cherry, taking half of it in his mouth, and spits out the pit.

Antoine barks something harsh in French and Ronin laughs. "It's a fucking pit, Antoine, it's not litter." He rolls his eyes at me. "Sit still now, Rook, and keep your mouth closed for a moment."

My mind is still on his fingers as they caress my inner thigh, but I do my best not to squirm.

He brings the cherry to my lips and I keep my mouth closed. This makes him smile and then he traces my lips, dripping juice as he paints them. I'm just about to let my tongue dart out and get the juice when Ronin's mouth reaches up and licks it off, stopping to suck on my bottom lip, and then gives it a little nibble that makes me cry out.

He bites into another cherry and again, to Antoine's disgust, woofs out the pit into the grass. Spitting is a skill only boys really acquire. They are so good at it. It might gross out Antoine, but not me. I think just about everything Ronin is doing with his mouth is astonishing right now. The secret hand under my dress appears again. He lifts my left hand and paints each fingertip pad with cherry juice, then sucks it off, nibbling them one by one, just like he did my lips.

I just stare at him and his eyes never leave mine. "What?" he finally asks.

"You—" I say.

He raises his eyebrows.

"—are bad."

He laughs. "If you were naked right now I'd drip this juice all down your belly and let my tongue—"

"OK, that's enough," Antoine says. "Excellent job, Rook."

Fucking Antoine.

I bite my lip as Ronin licks my fingertips one more time and then grins up at me like an idiot. "Want to come over and watch a movie, Gidget?"

I nod enthusiastically as Elise helps me up, and then Ronin bounces to his feet and puts his arm around me protectively. "You fell asleep pretty quick last time, are you sure you're up for a movie?"

I'm not sure if a movie is the code word for sex or not right now, but either way, I'm definitely up for it.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tour Review: Girl Three by Tracy March

Dr. Jessica Croft has avoided the players, the power, and the passions of Washington, DC. But when her estranged sister’s suspicious death is classified as natural, Jessie resolves to expose the murderer. As she pursues elite suspects who’d kill to keep their secrets buried, she encounters sexy security consultant Michael Gillette, who knows more about her sister than he’ll admit.

Michael has a vested interest in Jessie’s plight. Her sister died on his watch—while he wasn’t watching. His plan to find her murderer becomes complicated when Jessie’s father hires him to protect Jessie, and his interest turns from professional…to romantic.

Jessie and Michael must unravel a mystery rife with political agendas, deceit, and betrayal. When confidential papers reveal a fertility scandal surrounding the enigmatic Girl Three, the two realize the danger of exposing the truth. Who is Girl Three? And will the murderer kill again to keep a secret?
 Tracy March's romantic thriller is an exciting novel full of suspense and surprise. Every step of the plot is unexpected but perfect to make Girl Three a fascinating read.

When Jessie discovers that her sister's death may not have been an accident she puts herself in the danger zone. The people that her sister surrounded herself with are immediately cast in suspicion. The politics involved their world is littered with deceit and greed making Jessie task that much harder. March doesn't simply hand Jessie the answers, though someone is giving her a trail of crumbs to follow. The killer is sneaky, obviously rich with connections and out to keep the truth under wrap.

At times the story felt drawn out, like Jessie was getting no where closer to the truth and that her eventual ally, Michael, was never going to get past his own grief and be of some actual use. I found that Michael's side of Girl Three, as a behind the scenes security guard first for Jessie's sister, then herself, wasn't quite so interesting. It did provide a strong conflict between Jessie, Michael and her father that helped with the overall suspenseful tone of the novel.

There's really no in-between with this story, you either love it or hate it. Tracy March is a writer who knows how to get the wheels turning in her readers' minds and keep them coming back for more!

April 2013, Entangled Publishing, 352pp

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Tour Review: To Katie With Love by Erica Lucke Dean

Banker Katie James has a serious thing for romance novels. She’d almost rather settle for a fictional boyfriend than risk her heart on a flesh-and-blood man. Besides, the only real guy she’s remotely interested in is her rich, unattainable client, the mysterious Cooper Maxwell.

Looking less like the ultra-conservative man she knows and more like a drop-dead sexy character from one of her books, Cooper crashes Katie’s 29th birthday party. But one too many drinks lands Katie in uncharted territory… Cooper’s bedroom!

Drunk on love, Katie dives headfirst into the relationship only to discover that Cooper is keeping secrets… dangerous ones. As if things couldn’t get worse, her meddling mother makes a surprise visit, digging up a whole new set of problems.

Who would have guessed having an assassin for a boyfriend would be the least of her worries?
Katie James, romantic at heart and in life, is a heroine women of all walks of life will love to read about. Erica Lucke Dean debuts her romantic comedy, To Katie With Love, with enough sass and humor to make anyone's day!

Katie wishes her life was like the romance novels she reads almost obsessively. She wishes that the man of her dreams would walk in a sweep her off her feet. Instead, she works as a full-time banker with an imaginary cat, trying to keep her friends and mother from hounding her about her loveless life.

Life takes a happy turn at Katie's birthday party when the man of her dreams indeed sweeps her off her feet and she wakes up hung over in his bed. Cooper Maxwell, Katie's client for the last year, charms her and surprises her at every turn as they manage their whirlwind romance. As they become closer, Katie realizes that certain aspects of Cooper's life he keeps close to the chest providing her with plenty of opportunities to let her imagination run wild. I have to say that Dean keeps readers on their toes even during this chick-lit novel with more cuteness than suspense. To Katie With Love is indeed a fun read with an unexpected ending that will endear readers to this author immediately!

April 2013, Red Adept Publishing, 274pp

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tour Review: Born & Raised Chris Ross

Chris Ross's work is both insightful and big-hearted, and he opens the door to his beloved Indiana like a gracious host who knows the skeletons have already tumbled out of the closet, but he's throwing the party anyway. Ross illuminates the lives of his characters with a vision and voice guided by empathy and humor. He captures the poignant resiliency and spirit found in Indiana's small towns where the factories have closed, yet the people still play baseball in the industry league, even though the industry no longer exists.

Parked in a small southern Indiana town, Born & Raised is set where hope and defeat stain two sides of the same coin – a coin tossed to the kid working the night games at the men’s industrial softball league even though all industry moved on years ago. It is the coming of age story of Sean Yokam, a reluctant nineteen year-old trucker, fighting not to come apart. As Sean sifts through the two summers he believes have brought him to where he’s now stuck, he starts to realize that the bad things happening are just the things people do to one another in order to survive.

The summer of ’84 delivers Sean the first chill of neglect as his father, Roy, and his sister, Billie, desperately try to fill in the void left by Sean’s mother. Roy, turning every success into a failure, roams the used car lots, flips through the pages of International Male catalog and soaks up whatever there is to be found at the singles’ scene, while Billie, like an animal chasing after its own tail, does the best she can on the fate of scratch off-lottery tickets and the pre-set radio stations of a Dodge Dynasty whose seats are draped in beach towels that reek of Little Kings beer and suntan lotion.

The summer of ’90 finds them, six years later, in one way or another, living up to the Yokam family code of shit in one hand, wish in the other, see which fills up first. Sean, a high school graduate, finds himself setting out on his own – not to escape, but to find a way back. Back to what or where, he’s not sure, but as life unfolds for him, it’s becoming painfully clear that love, in the end, is blind – but only to those who aren’t looking for it.
Chris Ross keeps it real in Born & Raised as he relates life in the summer of 1984 for Sean Yoakam. With a mother who walked out on her family and a not so affectionate older sister and father, Sean's coming of age story makes you want to better appreciate the blessings and good family life you may have.

Ross' storytelling paints the picture of what Sean's life is like very vividly. It easy to envision yourself growing up in Sean's shoes no matter how tough or unusual, the writing style is that expressive and honest. I wasn't too crazy about the narration style with no quotation marks around speech, though it made the story sound conversational and more like Sean's speaking directly to the reader, I had a hard time keeping up each character's speech. I wouldn't say that this detracted from the enjoyment of the story, but it did occasionally trip me up during some scenes.

Ross doesn't completely depress readers, but shows the possible reality that could be anyone's life. I would recommend Born & Raised, especially because it is a story that will capture readers who love to see someone young make it through rough situations.

February 2013, Tell Me Press, 224pp, Paperback

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