Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Upcoming Interview: Marie Force on McCarthys of Gansett Island Series

McCarthys of Gansett Island Series rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Marie Force is interviewing here tomorrow
She's answering reader questions & giving away her entire series

How are the sex scenes?
Plentiful, surprising and trickled throughout. They get hotter as the series continues.

How are the story lines?
Entertaining and fulfilling enough to make you forget you're reading a romance novel.
Until someone takes their clothes off.
Then you're glad you're reading a romance novel.

Would you read it again?
I've read them all twice. I've read some thrice.

Novels (click for excerpts)

Maid for Love (currently FREE on Amazon and other sites);
Fool for Love;
Ready for Love;
Falling for Love;
Hoping for Love;
Season for Love (read Sallie's review); and
Longing for Love (Coming late summer/early fall 2012).

Fans are fascinated with Marie Force, her endearing female characters, and the entire lickable McCarthy (and others) male cast. 

Marie is a self published author with a Harlequin Fatal Series on the side.  She has described her entire writing career as "the house that Jack built" because Jack is the main character of her first novel that lead to the Treading Water Trilogy.

Hello Jack, Clare....Reid.
The McCarthys of Gansett Island is a soon-to-be seven book series that has everyone emailing Marie, "When is it that next book out again?"

These addictive stories follow the McCarthys and friends through unexpected parenthood, broken engagements, first times and loving another while carrying someone else's baby.

Many series become as unbelieving as daytime soap operas, but Marie's well paced, practical writing keeps reality - and plot development - in check.
Marie's writing also improves throughout the series and - wait for it - so do the sex scenes.  Season for Love has more sex than any book prior and Hoping for Love is quite surprising for a woman who writes intimate encounters "like no one is ever going to read it."

Well, we read it Marie...and it rocks.

In her last novel, Season for Love, Marie brought her A game and...whew.

Marie has graduated from the school of Self-Published to Self-Published-and-Self-Employed-because-I'm-Awesome.  

Join us tomorrow (read the interview) and find out why fans (me included) will continue to follow the McCarthys of Gansett Island series and consistently buy anything Marie Force writes.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Shadow Rising, Dark Dynasties #3 (by Kendra Castle)

Shadow Rising rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Dark Dynasties series rating:  N/A (haven't read them all)

Shadow Rising is book #3 of the Dark Dynasties series.
It can be read as a stand-alone novel.

How are the sex scenes?
Sweet, short and hot.  Read last paragraph in review.

How are the story lines?
Great.  There are so many characters doing so many things, but everyone is trying to reach the same end goal - either for good or for evil.

Would you read it again?
Yes.  I'd like to read the series.


I'm a reviewer for Beverley Kendall's The Season for Romance website!  Read the review here.

Learn more about Kendra Castle and upcoming titles on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads.

Disclaimer:  No compensation was received for this review.  eARC received from The Season
Published by Forever, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rules for a Fat Heroine

Every princess is rescued by her prince and they live happily ever after.  

Well not anymore.

Now the princess is usually an unsuspecting doctor, victim, or dump truck driver.

What they rarely are - and only have been in two books that I can quickly recall - is fat.

Their men can be scarred and emotionally wounded, but the women are usually 5'4, 110 pounds with flawless skin and hair that reflects gold flakes in the sunlight.

Okay, one was body-tattooed with more baggage than an airport so she gets a pass.  But she was still freakin' skinny.  

Maybe you authors don't write larger-than-life leading women because you're unsure of the rules.  Here's a few what-to-dos to get you started:

1.      Don’t squeeze her into something she can’t fit in and try to make it sexy
Never has it been nor will it ever be hot to strut a muffin top.  Maybe put her in a form fitting dress when she usually wears muu-muus and give her Spanx for confidence.

2.     It’s okay to let her eat
Most fat heroines didn’t get fat while on the couch throwing back carrot sticks.  You want to make her a size XX?  At least let her eat her way there with chocolate.

3.     Any size double digits can be fat
No, I’m not calling a size 10, 12, 14 or anything else fat.  But these sizes are the ones likely to view themselves as less than perfect.  And it’s hard to describe the “curvaceous figure” of a size 4 without laughing.

4.     Fat heroines can be happy – or sad
Fat women may not enjoy being fat, but their bodies do not control their happiness.  On the other hand, fat women can be upset about other things.

5.     Bad things happen to fat people
Don’t be scared to put your fat heroine through the hellishness of your book.  Great people get screwed over all the time in fiction.  Fat women don’t get a pass.

6.     Fat women can be secondary characters
Let’s face it.  Readers expect romance about perfectly imperfect people.  Write your Barbie and Ken story and let Skipper be overweight.  Then as your series progresses readers will bombard you with emails requesting you write her happily ever after.

7.     Fat heroines can lose weight for healthy purposes, but not artificial ones
Artificial improvements happen all the time in real life, but you make a fat girl lose weight so she fits better in her halter and you just committed novel suicide.

8.     Fat women are sexy and drop dead gorgeous
Fat does not equal unattractive.  Curves are sensual and should be used as such.

Hopefully this gets you all started.  

Let me know if you need any other suggestions.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Buy "Seducing Cinderella" from B&N, Win a Book from Ravishing Romances


If you purchase Seducing Cinderella from Barnes & Noble for $3.00, you can email me the receipt and be entered to win a free ecopy of Amber Lin's Giving It Up from Amazon (priced above $6.00) or a book from my 10 lbs pile.

If you purchase Seducing Cinderella today, email Gina proof of purchase and she will mail you a signed bookmark. 
(US & Canada only)

If you win the ecopy of Amber Lin's Giving It Up, you can email her a proof of purchase and receive a signed cover flat, romance trading cards for Colin and Allie and a handcrafted signature soap for showers together.

Read Amber's Swag Offer here (at the bottom)
*she's just been to RWA and swag IS still available*

Click book cover to purchase

Read the review

Read the review

Email proof of B&N purchase to MusingSallie at gmail dot com.

Purchase must be made today and must be from Barnes & Noble.
Email receipt quickly. Once time runs out winners will be chosen using random.org.

Available Books
Veronica Wolff's Sierra Falls
Victoria Alexander's My Wicked Little Lies
Sandra Hill's Kiss of Pride
Jenny Brown's Perilous Pleasures
JoAnn Ross's Moonshell Beach, a Shelter Bay Novel
Jennifer Bernard's Hot for Fireman
Jennifer Bernard's The Fireman Who Loved Me
Barbara Freethy's On Shadow Beach
Barbara Freethy's Suddenly One Summer
Christine Feehan's Dark Predator
Jean Johnson's The Mage
Jill Gregory's Larkspur Road
Jodi Thomas's Just Down the Road
Deirdre Martin's Breakaway
Lynsay Sands's Under a Vampire Moon
Brenda Jackson's Inseparable

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Seducing Cinderella (by Gina L. Maxwell)

Seducing Cinderella rating: 6 STARS
Release Date: July 20, 2012
Fighting for Love series rating: 6 stars

"Seducing Cinderella" is book 1 of the Fighting for Love series

Follow Gina's Blog Tour

How are the sex scenes?
Passionate and memorable with emotion that will make you forget to breathe.

How are the story lines?
Entertaining and character driven.  Seducing Cinderella constantly revolves around the hero and heroine's relationship.

Would you read it again?
In addition to the two times I've already read it?  Yes.  
My bookclub's reading it now.


Reid Andrews a/k/a Randy Johnson is a thirty-four-year-old UFC fighting champion who just tore his rotator cuff while training to regain his title.  

Lucinda "Lucie/Lu-Lu/Lubert/Lu/Luey/Luce" Miller is the physical therapist Reid must use for rehabilitation, and also happens to be his best friend's baby sister.

Reid needs full time physical therapy and Lucie needs Dr. Stephen, her sexy co-worker who's romantic intentions are currently towards Lu's uninterested friend.  To achieve their goals, they strike a deal:  Luce will get Reid ready for his rematch and Reid will help Luey nab Dr. Clueless Dumbass...or, Stephen.


Gina L. Maxwell's Seducing Cinderella is a modern romance with scene-stealing characters and chemistry that proves everyone is having sex all wrong.  Her writing is impeccable, but she had me at the dedication:

"...I searched for, and finally found, THE THING I WAS MEANT TO DO."

I still tear up reading that.  Good for you, Gina.

Reid is beyond hot.  There's no other way to put it.  With his body and hair and tattoos and confidence and words...ohh, his words.  In their first scene together Reid tosses Lucie on the exam table, stares deep into her eyes and breathes, "So, Miss Miller, tell me where it hurts."

Everywhere.  Dies.

We find out fairly soon that Lucie more than fancies Dr. Stephen - she loves him.  This is expounded upon and picked apart later, but thank you Gina for giving us a heroine who truly wants another guy.

Gina's writing is seduction on paper with lines like, "His breath feathered the drying strands tucked around her ear, and when he spoke, the vibrations from his voice rippled along her neck."  Lucie thinks she'll never survive Reid's lovemaking.  I felt I wouldn't survive Gina's writing.  Her meanings are so layered and her descriptions and comparisons are so original that it took two days to read 155 pages.

155 pages?

Seducing Cinderella sure as hell feels like a 90,000 word novel with 12 subplots and guest walk-ons.

Reid pursues Lucie from the beginning, though he (and I) never noticed.  Upon a second reading, I realized that Gina’s subtle hints ease us into the big “I love you” making it the natural next step - instead of a sudden scene crash so many other novels die from.

Gina uses the best unique phrases.  My favorite: “…pushed him with the strength of a baby bird.”  Find that scene and we’ll talk about how accurate this sentence is.

Seducing Cinderella is true to its title.  Reid is seducing his Cinderella and she is sometimes clueless to his seduction.  So she says careless things, mentioning Dr. Stephen at inopportune times.  Genius.  Now we get to read great emotion and actually see Reid and Lucie struggle.  Then when Reid demands to know why Lucie chooses Stephen...

“I don’t know what you want me to say.”

In nine words Gina sums up feelings I could describe to you in four paragraphs.  I’ll repeat.  Genius.

The ending almost threw me into a seizure.  Gina pushed the story one way – so much so that I was sure we would have a Rocky reenactment of Reid in the ring shouting “Lubert.”  We didn’t. 

I then thought we may read the classic “let down” scene, where the characters finally see one another and have the story end two sentences later.  That didn’t happen either.

What did happen was an ending that became predictable only right before it was read and a few lines that may remind you of a Young Adult romance.  (The title is Seducing Cinderella, after all.)  Gina did not end this novel on a Young Adult note, but she ran head first towards that line and thumped it.

I sat there with tears in my eyes, my adult mind being completely at peace with the heart-tugging journey and my teenage heart beating staccato from the melodramatic ending.


Food for thought - despite my usual dislike, Seducing Cinderella contains the most erotic and beautifully written oral scene I have ever read. 

Now go forth, purchase, and find it.

Comment About It

Have you read this?  Have you read a story you liked as much as I liked this??  Please share!

Learn more about Gina Maxwell and her upcoming titles on her webpage, blog and Twitter.

Disclaimer: No compensation was received for this review. Novel purchased by Sallie.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Author Interview & Giveaway: Rionna Morgan on her novel "The Wanting Heart"

“The Wanting Heart is a sexy, intriguing, modern-day western romance.  
A fun summer read.”  
-- Kat Martin, New York Times Best Selling Author

McEckK is the winner of the Giveaway!  

Read The Wanting Heart's review

Rionna Morgan will answer reader questions in the comment section below!


1.  Comment below to win a free copy of The Wanting Heart for your eReader!
- Winner will be drawn using Random.org -

2.  Enter Rionna's Win a Piece of Montana.  
What and when can you win?  
Your answer is here. 

Rionna Morgan's debut novel The Wanting Heart hit bookshelves and eReaders on July 9th!

Read an excerpt.  Watch the trailer.

Rionna, thank you so much for taking the time during the Romantic Writers Association conference to speak with me and Ravishing Romance's readers.  We know this is a very busy and hectic time.  Without further adieu, let's discuss The Wanting Heart.

Q:        A man wants to murder Kate.  Before killing them, he gives his victims a small gift.  Why that and not something else?

A:        I did a lot of research on serial killers while I was writing The Wanting Heart.  What I found in my research is that many killers have a pattern.  Some even left items of significance.  I chose the red rose for Luke because it has great symbolism.  Red is a very passionate color.  The rose is elegant and romantic.  On the surface, a red rose can seem harmless and beautiful.  Taken too far the romance can be stifling and the passion can turn to hatred.  That deeper level was what I was working towards in The Wanting Heart.

Q:        The Wanting Heart has violence, specifically when the story is told from the killer’s point of view and through his treatment of Kate.  Was that hard for you to write?

A:        Yes.  I cried writing those scenes and would have some pretty depressing days because of the amount of emotion I was trying to convey.

Q:        In many romances the alpha male hero saves his lady from her troubles.  Why doesn’t Blake ever save Kate?

A:        I believe that women are stronger than they’ll ever imagine.  I don’t believe we need to be saved.  I think it is wonderful to have friends and loved ones on our side, but if there is any saving that needs to be done; we definitely can do it. 

Q:        You and Kate both have red hair, a history in rodeo and were raised around horses.  Did you base Kate on yourself?  If so, is there a Blake in your life?

A:        In a way, yes, I suppose I did.  At the time when I began writing The Wanting Heart, I was very similar to Kate.  As far as a cowboy in my life, no the man who is the hero of my heart, wears a tie and not a hat.  He dances with me in our kitchen, laughs with our kids and we stand with each other through all of life’s adventures. 

Q:        Is The Wanting Heart the first in a series?

A:        Yes, that was my intention when I began writing.  Kate and Blake’s story would be the center for the other stories to come.  Each new book would feature one of Kate’s friends as the main character and her journey to find what her heart needs, wishes and knows. 

Q:        The Wanting Heart is your debut novel, but what was the first novel you’ve ever written and what’s happened to it?

A:        The Wanting Heart is the first novel I ever wrote.  It began as a very different story, but over time evolved into this one.  I’ve added and removed entire casts of people.  I’ve changed the title several times.  But, Kate and Blake were constant element. 

Q:        What’s next for you?

A:        I have another book being released later this year.  It is entitled Judge Thyself First.  It features a profiler who uncovers a 20 year-old murder at an Alabama prison.   

Q:        Romance Writers of America.  You’re going this year.  Where can readers find you?

A:        I left early for the conference so that my family and I could go to Disneyland and the beach for a few days.  I am happy to report that we’ve been to Laguna Beach swimming and watching the sunset.  Magnificent!  And yesterday my three daughters got to meet Cinderella.  I cried.  So awesome!

I am still available by e-mail and Twitter.  I plan to post updates pretty often.  As far as the conference goes, I have several meetings I’m attending.  I am president of Montana Romance Writers so I am attending a chapter leadership meeting.  Also, many Crimson Romance writers will be in attendance this year, so we are planning a dinner to meet each other and share our wonderful successes and friendship. 

Otherwise, my time will be devoted to connecting with readers and other writers.  I am so very excited to share my experiences, learn from others and buy some great books!!

Thank you so much for having me with you today.  I have so enjoyed working with you.  Our conversations have been so much fun!  I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Judge Thyself First.

All the Best,

Rionna - I will read whatever you like.  This has been wonderful.  - Sallie

Rionna is a founding member of Montana Romance Writers; she reads as much as she can possibly hold, and she loves most of all combining the chilling edge of a knife with the sweet surrender of romance.  Rionna shares her home in Missoula, Montana with her husband, her four children and the mountains outside her window.  Please be invited to stop by www.RionnaMorgan.com - she loves the company.

Learn more about Rionna Morgan and her upcoming titles on her websiteFacebook and Twitter.

Ask your questions and you shall receive answers!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Wanting Heart (by Rionna Morgan)

Rionna Morgan to appear on Ravishing Romances tomorrow!
There will be giveaways!

Amazon - B&N
The Wanting Heart rating:  3 out of 5
Release Date:  July 9, 2012

How are sex scenes?  
Sweet and curious.  There's not many naked moments, and the first one involves the hero lighting multiple candles somewhere in the room and then roaming back to the bed to kiss the heroine after each one.  Sweet.  Sensual.  Inconvenient?

How are the story lines?  
Good.  This is a romantic suspense novel.  There's no mystery (i.e., you immediately know who the killer is and when a "mystery" is written it's unveiled shortly thereafter), but there is plenty of plot tension.

Would you read this again?  
Yes.  I'd also like to read about Blake and Kate a few years down the road.  


The Wanting Heart by Rionna Morgan is a contemporary/suspense romance based in Colorado.

Kate White never stopped loving Blake and he just moved back into town.

Blake Spencer never stopped loving Kate, but it's taken him three years to prove it.

Only problem is, Kate won't speak to him and she's dating Luke Ferral now.  Smooth, rich, psycho...

When Kate is targeted by a serial killer, Blake is determined to protect her.  She's just not ready to let him.


The Wanting Heart is Rionna Morgan's debut album and she enters the romance scene wearing rhinestones and sequins.  Okay not really, but her heroine does.  In fact, I enjoy how Kate wears sequins and rhinestones for the crowd and how that information is given right after we're introduced to Blake.  Somehow it makes Kate appear more human, trying to please the one constant (the rodeo crowd) she has left in her life.

And we do meet Blake.  He has the very first line.  Morgan drops the reader directly into Kate's misery of unrequited love.  She loved him.  She loves him, and we already ache for her pain.  Because he's here.  He's right here and won't go away.

Enter Luke Ferral, Kate's new beau and freak extraordinaire.

In small town, Colorado Luke always wears a tuxedo.  The tux seems over-the-top.  A suit would have the same affect.  He's also really, really, really smooth. Like when he writes Kate a note saying, "...your magic green eyes" and takes her on a private plane.  I feel he's trying too hard and Kate should notice that private planes aren't normal for first dates.

Kate's friends are, like her, just out of college.  They seem immature to me, going on hardcore "buy silly things" shopping trips and always being present when Luke picks up Kate for an outing.  Some girls probably do act this way, but for some reason I expect more adult behavior from a savvy woman who works in LA, a school teacher and a woman who is looking to take on a mortgage.

Kate teaches summer school to seventh graders who play on a playground.  (I get that this could be a filed.  Maybe the word playground has me thinking monkey bars.)  One seventh grade boy tells her he feels, "That [he has] to lose two moms in the same lifetime."  Is two weeks a long enough time to get that reaction from a seventh grader?

We never find out why Blake left!  He says why he felt the need to leave, but what did he do while gone?  Did he rent an apartment or stay on some other chic's couch?  Did he never visit his grandparents who live in Kate's town?  Did he sleep with someone else?  He says he never stopped loving Kate so I hope he proved it.  This is the 21st century buddy and "I'm a man" just doesn't fly.

I also wish I knew exactly how old Kate and Blake are.  I'm not sure why this is important.

Still, Morgan's writing style is natural.  I particularly enjoy how she writes in layers.

"If the tux hadn't been enough to prove that he wasn't from around here, his hand was.  It was smooth."
She compliments the cowboy work ethic while describing Luke at the same time.  Love it.

There's also a few details dropped along the way that are used during the end.  I really like that.

All this makes The Wanting Heart a decent read.  I wish there was more explanation and that the turn of events weren't so sudden, but I was entertained and three days later I can still recall the story.  Despite having read two additional books in between.

Hear what others are saying about The Wanting Heart!

Goodreads has 9 reviews with a 4.5 star average

“The Wanting Heart is a sexy, intriguing, modern-day western romance.  
A fun summer read.”  
-- Kat Martin, New York Times Best Selling Author

Learn more about Rionna Morgan and her upcoming titles on her websiteFacebook and Twitter.

Published by Crimson Romance an imprint of F+W Media, Inc.
Disclaimer:  No compensation was received for this review.  ARC provided by author.

Forever a Lady (by Delilah Marvelle)

Forever a Lady rating:  1 out of 5 stars
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Rumor series rating: N/A (haven't read them all)

"Forever a Lady" is book 2 of the Rumor series. It can be read in order or as a stand alone novel. 

How are the sex scenes?
I only read one, and it was pretty heavy.  Later, the book has some "back door" action.

How are the story lines?
...not so great to me, I'm afraid.

Would you read it again?

Forever a Lady by Delilah Marvelle is a historical romance novel set in New York City in the early 1800s.  Matthew Joseph Milton and his father have just moved to the shady side of town after losing everything to the hands of their greedy bookkeeper.  Lady Bernadette Burton is a lady of the ton living in New York on her dead husband's money.  She's married once for duty and refuses to do so again.  Now she does as she pleases.  London, her father and gossip no longer controls her. 


As you can tell from the one star rating - I couldn't finish this.  I read approximately 120 of 362 pages, but ultimately set the book aside because the plot left me confused and the dialogue is too wordy.

Here's why:
  1. At some point Forever a Lady skips ahead seven months and instead of going to London (where the story leads) it gives us eight pages of writing to communicate that Matthew still helps out a boy he met in Chapter One and to concoct a reason for Matthew to be in London.  It seems a waste of words.  No one changed during the seven month hiatus - except Georgia who we didn't see until later during the opening of the Season.

  2. I was very confused when Matthew and Bernadette met.  First, 35 year-old Bernadette compares Matthew to a childhood Pirate King fantasy she had when she was eight, then says rude things about him to "trudge through whatever ridiculous attraction she had for the ruffian."  She's 35, has crossed oceans, lives on her own and she's this childish?  Okay, maybe.

  3. The scene gets a little lost when Matthew and Bernadette greet.  Georgia and Bernadette were riding in the park and Georgia speeds away to avoid Matthew, yet Matthew speaks to both women when only Bernadette's within hearing distance (and he apparently didn't hear Bernadette's rude remark when I thought she spoke it for his benefit).  Then it's explained that when Matthew said "ladies" he actually only meant it for Bernadette because he's being all sexy and smoldering.  I get this in theory, but I was already so confused by the time it might have made sense that I didn't care anymore.

  4. Immediately after this Bernadette runs into an old acquaintance, a gentleman of the ton, who demands to know where she's been and begins to beat her with his riding crop when she gives him an answer he does not like.  ....  ....  This could, and probably would, happen in private.  But she's riding with another lady in a public park in broad daylight.  Unless the gentleman has mental issues it doesn't seem reasonable for him to do this where he may be discovered.

  5. Skip ahead a few pages and Bernadette goes to see her overbearing father.  I'm unsure of his age, but he talks to her as if she is 12.  He insists she comes home - repeatedly - and she repeatedly refuses.  The dialogue just repeats and repeats, offering the reader no new information.  Their interaction could have been cut in half and still make its point. 

  6. Skip ahead again.  Lady Bernadette has invited Matthew to her home and before they consummate their one-night stand Matthew says,
"...how far are you willing to take this?  Are we talking matrimony here?  Because I'll admit, despite not looking the sort, that's what I'm going for.  You may not know this, but a rough life does one of two things to a man.  Disillusions him completely or makes him create a very long list of all things he wants and needs.  And I'm the latter."
    Love-at-first-sight happens often enough in romance, but that doesn't mean I buy it.  Did he really have to say all that right then?  Wouldn't the first three sentences suffice, I thought he had other things on his mind?  His feelings were made clear, did he have to go into detail now?

I decided this book and I were not going to stay together until the end when I read, "...I'm not saying any more. But I will say this-" Either you say it or you don't Mr. Hero, but you can't do both.

As usual with low ratings, I really am sorry I don't like this.  Also as usual, I glanced at Goodreads to see what everyone else thinks.  My opinion is in the minority, because Marvelle's Forever a Lady has 23 ratings averaging at 3.91. 

Read the reviews and decide for yourself.

Comment About It

Ever dislike a novel that everyone else loves?  Please share!

Learn more about Delilah Marvelle and upcoming titles on her webpage, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads

Read the Rumor series.
Forever and A Day (released 12/20/2011);
Forever a Lady (released 7/24/2012); and
Forever a Lord (Coming 1/2012).

Published by Harlequin HQN
Disclaimer: No compensation was received for this review.  
eARC courtesy of NetGalley.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Self's Blossom (by David Russell)

Self's Blossom rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Release Date: July 1, 2010

How are the sex scenes?

Russell describes Self's Blossom as "soft vanilla."  
There are sex scenes, but they are not vulgar. 

How are the story lines?

There's really only one story line and it follows the heroine Selene on her much anticipated vacation.

Would you read it again?



Selene is an educated, sexually repressed woman who travels to a remote vacation island with plans for an affair to discover her sensual nature.

Hudson is a sociologist at the island for research.  He and Selene strike up a friendship and accompany each other throughout her travels until, finally, succumbing to their mutual attraction for one hot and satisfying night.


Self's Blossom by David Russell is a 189 page contemporary romance novel set in Central America.

The story is mostly told from Selene's point of view, and she has plenty of views to go around.  So much so that the first 20 pages are almost entirely Selene's observations and thoughts.  I did not go back and confirm, but I think there are only two dialogues prior to page 21.

Russell's writing is comparable to that of classic literature and poetry, with in depth description and a plethora of commas.  Before purchasing Self's Blossom, read the sample.  (This is a good idea for any novel.)

Sadly, I do not care for this story.  The writing style is overly descriptive and there is too little dialogue.  There seems to be no "story" to balance out Selene's odd musings.  Example:

"As a student, the macho cliques who tried to dominate everything had nauseated Selene.  Most games seemed to have some affiliation to that mentality which she so detested, and now Janice was going to be the flip side of that coin, backing up one of those heavies."

When reading a 33 word sentence it's hard not to get a little lost.

After page 20, and especially when Selene meets Hudson, the story and dialogue improve.  Yet the improvement still leaves us reading an overly complicated version of a modern woman's journey to find sexual empowerment.

If a reader does enjoy this type of writing, however, they may appreciate Self's Blossom.

Here are a few parts that caught my interest:

Pregnancy Scare
"Selene remembered how exhausting it was trying to calm Janice down after her false alarms.  The hours of suspense before the predictor kit gave her the negative results expected."
Selene's First Sexual Encounter
"In the telescoped love of one nameless meeting in pure sensation they melted the earth, made new mountains and valleys, heated more, to make new planets and star systems.  As they approached their real climax, they returned to narrow focus feeling..."

Such peculiar scenes.

I also enjoyed Russell's imagery, such as Selene taking her "proper wire cutters" to sever the "straggling strands" of "unrealizeable hopes."

Selene is not my favorite heroine, though that is not a requirement for me to enjoy a novel.  She dislikes her best friend, Janice, because Janice is a hypocrite, yet Selene won't let the relationship die.

Selene also has the above-mentioned passionate encounter with a male who sobs afterwards when she leaves him.  Sobs.  How does Selene justify this?  "...for the sake of his later life he had to be hurt a few times...to...develop his consideration for others."  She doesn't have to marry him, but soothing his feelings won't ruin her vacation.  Sheesh.

Overall, Self's Blossom is a difficult, slightly boring and hard-to-follow read.

It should be noted, however, that Mr. David Russel is the utmost gentleman.  I contacted him prior to this review and he expressed his appreciation for my time and criticism.  For those wondering, his emails are worded just like Self's Blossom's.  Eloquently.

Obviously not every reviewer feels the same, and Mix Love and Crew Love Books gives Self's Blossom a 5 out of 5 star rating.  Read it and decide for yourself.

Comment About It

Do you enjoy a novel that doesn't fit the usual mold of its genre?  Please share!

Learn more about David Russell on British Romance Fiction, a blog that reviews a majority of his work.

Published by eXtasy Books, Inc.
Disclaimer: No compensation was received for this review. eARC courtesy of David Russell.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Forever and a Day (by Jill Shalvis)

Forever and a Day rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Release Date:  July 31, 2012
Lucky Harbor series rating: N/A (haven't read them all)

"At Last" is book 6 and the last full length novel in this series.  It can be read in order or as a stand alone novel.  Jill Shalvis will publish one Christmas novella, completing the Lucky Harbor series.

How are the sex scenes?
Yearning, filled with tension and semi-hot.  Dr. Scott's a doctor - and they don't always have a lot of time.  Shalvis works with that.

How are the story lines?
Humorous and enjoyable.  Grace is "non-truth-telling" to her parents about her current state of employment, it takes a village to run Josh's life and the "...village is in mutiny" and, of course, there's always Lucille with her intrusive Lucky Harbor Facebook page.

Would you read it again?


While interviewing for jobs in her field, Grace has taken up delivering flowers and hand modeling to pay the rent.  When Dr. Josh Scott accidentally calls the wrong number to hire a dog sitter Grace accepts the job despite her lack of experience.

Grace's first day is atrocious, but Josh really needs a dog walker...and now a nanny.  With his only requirement being that everyone survives, Grace agrees to help with his son, his sister and his dog until a more appropriate nanny can be found.  Grace and Josh begin a "fun" relationship, but Grace gets a job offer too soon and no one's decided whether "fun" isn't just "fun" anymore.


Forever and a Day by Jill Shalvis is a contemporary romance novel set in fictional Lucky Harbor, Washington.

The heroes and heroines of the last two novels (Lucky in Love and At Last) are still forefront and present while Sheriff Sawyer Thompson and Chloe (from Head Over Heels) make guest star appearances.

Grace and Josh move in the same circles, giving their "relationship" a head start with Josh already knowing Grace needs money and Grace knowing Josh as a successful doctor with a hectic, crazy schedule.

Their initial meeting is hilarious.  Josh has an adorable dog (a/k/a Antichrist) who, in fact, acts like the Antichrist if the Antichrist was a pooch - and he causes a scene you will never forget. 

Shalvis creates intense character conflict between Josh's family members.  They seem like a normal modern day family until Shalvis throws in the complication that Josh - as an ER doctor, owner of his father's practice, dad and caretaker of his sister - has no time to solve any of it.  In return, Josh tries to micro-manage everything with his family (and sleep) paying the price.

Grace's life isn't as busy, but it's more than interesting with her being the adopted child of a rocket scientist and research biologist.  She has a CPA, yet no accounting job and an almost non-existent bank account.  Not quite what mommy and daddy planned.

Forever screams "romance for the white collar overworked class" and it screams it well.  This book made me laugh out loud with antics of a family at the busiest time of its life.  Featuring a grumpy paraplegic, young Jedi warrior, sleazy boyfriend and hungry-for-doctor housewives Forever is guaranteed to entertain romance readers of all ages.

You liked it, why didn't it get 5 stars?
The circumstances surrounding Josh and Grace's first kiss seems very juvenile and is out of character with the rest of the story.  Also, at one point Grace asks Josh, "Has it really been a whole year for you since you [had sex]?"  The scene where Josh informs Grace about his year of abstinence must have hit the cutting room floor because Josh never tells her in the copy I read.  (I did get an ARC from Netgalley so perhaps it's in the version to be sold?  Someone who reads it let me know.)

Comment About It

How do you feel about "family" romances?  Too old, too distracting or just right?  Should children be included?  Please share!

Learn more about Jill Shalvis and her upcoming titles on her webpage and Facebook.
Shalvis writes about her inspiration for the Lucky Harbor series here. Let us all pray for a sexy construction crew.

Read the Lucky Harbor series.
(Read Lucky in Love's  and At Last's review.)

Published by Forever, an imprint of Hachette Book Group
Disclaimer:  No compensation was received for this review.  eARC courtesy of NetGalley.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dear Colorado

Our deepest sympathies.

How can we help?

In honor of the Colorado victims and their families, Ravishing Romances is observing a day of silence.

Today is a day to spend with loved ones.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Romance Novel Humor

I spend a lot of time with romance novels.  A lot.  They're entertaining, written by smarter-than-average women (mostly women) and can be amusing as hell.

Here's just a few:

"Giving It Up" by Amber Lin
Word Search 
fuck - 163
knew - 140
take - 132

"Season for Love" by Marie Force
Quote:  "It makes me hot when you're bossy.  Like last night when you told me to fuck you harder.  So hot."

"About Last Night" by Ruthie Knox
The hero's name is Neville.

"Sampson's Lovely Mortal" by Tina Folsom


Samson's Lovely Mortal (Scanguards Vampires #1) is now available on !!! Listen to the sample on  - 
There's a whole new meaning to, "How bad could things get if there was a gay couple in the room?" when it's narrated by a dude.

Have any other funnies about your romance novels?  Please share!