Philosophy

HEART is about uplifting authors and their hard work. Only stories the staff have read rating three hearts or higher will appear on this site. If a story does not make the grade then it will not appear on the site. It is HEART’s belief that no review is better than a bad one. With that being said, HEART stands behind the STORIES (stories only, not the publisher or any affiliates) posted on its review site and believes in the writing abilities of the author. HEART inspires to celebrate the art of writing, great story telling and the authors who write them.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March Reviews


Reviews are up for the month of March. I'm sorry I didn't get to more stories this month, but I missplaced my ereader. Lucky for me I found it, so I hope to have more reviews to post next month.

  1. The Omegas - The Vanguards: Book One by Annie Nicholas

  2. Unless by Vivien Jackson

Check 'em out! Leave a comment. We'd love to hear from you.

And don't forget to come back March 15-31 to vote for your favorite book of the quarter.

Unless by Vivien Jackson

NOTE: EROTICA 18 and over

Blurb:


Laura's romance novel and night alone is interrupted by her sometime lover, whose passion and skill never fail to please her. How long will he stay this time?






Review:


Please note this is straight erotica.

If you are looking for a short story to set the mood, this is it. The story line is believable, unlike a cheesy porn. Two people highly attracted to each other, but at different places in life. The emotion is there. The sex is there. The writing is there.

The only issue I had was a few editing quirks that might have been the authors or house style. I'm not sure since I haven't read any other stories from this publisher, but they were a bit jarring. Other than that, I enjoyed this little tale.



I give this story 5 hearts. Reviewed by
Jasmine






Buy Link

Lux Zakari Book Trailers

The Omegas - The Vanguards: Book One by Annie Nicholas

Blurb:

Only a vampire is man enough to teach werewolves how to fight.

Pretty librarian Sugar wants her life to stay quiet. That’s hard enough when friends and neighbors turn into furry wolves every full moon. But when a hot vampire gets involved, life’s bound to get complicated.

The Omega have always been the pansies of the paranormal. Now Chicago’s top werewolf pack has issued them a life or death challenge. Their only option: hire a vampire warrior to teach them the moves.

Daedalus has been a powerful vampire for ages. Intrigued by the chance to train the geeks of the underworld, he wasn’t bargaining on losing his heart to a human. Can he make the Omegas a success, fit into Sugar’s quiet life, and avoid being ripped to shreds in the process?

Review:

When I first picked up this book to review it, I said, "Great, another vampire book". Mind you, that's not a good thing for me. I'm not into vampires, but I give every book I receive a try.

By the time I was a couple of pages into the story, I couldn't put it down. I mean I was really enjoying this story. The whole plot and all. Truly wonderful. I'm a real root-for-the-underdog kind of gal and this story spoke to me. I liked the world in which vampires and shifters were free to roam without fear of being found out and humans trying to kill them.

I do have an issue in that I wanted to see a bit more interaction and depth in the relationship between Sugar and The Omegas. She'd been best friends with Eric for years, but yet I didn't feel that strong of a connection between them. And the same goes for Daedalus and the Omegas. I wanted to see a bit more of him training them, him showing off his strength and intelligence while preparing them to fight. Of course the romance is between Sugar and Daedalus, but I was just looking for a bit more character development with the Omegas.


I give this story 5 hearts. Reviewed by
Jasmine



Buy Link

Author Page - Nyla Rose

http://www.nylasparadise.blogspot.com/

Bio:

I grew up surrounded by books and have always loved reading. I count my blessing for the opportunity to write what I love - steamy hot romances with soft-centered alpha heroes and sensual heroines who know what they want. The lovely county of Kent, England is where I call home with my husband and two adorable kids and where my heart will always remain. Much Love, Nyla.

Yuletide Fire

Blurb:

This year Maxine's Christmas present has arrived two weeks early. Only it's not full of glad tidings or great joy. She's facing bankruptcy.

Turning to her Grandpa for help, the last thing she expects is an ultimatum - marry by Christmas or lose her inheritance. Her ex-lover, attorney Gabe Fenton offers his help, but he has his own strings - a repeat of the mind-blowing nights they spent in Vegas five years go.

Will Christmas end with a blissful explosion of fireworks, or will her world crash and burn?



Excerpt:

Bankruptcy.

The very word sent a chill down Maxine’s spine.

This time last year, she’d been sharing pre-Christmas champagne with her staff to celebrate their third and best year.

Her cell phone vibrated on her desk, then startled her with the shrill ring tone her airhead secretary had programmed into it.

Maxine Gray Designs, how may I help you?” She tried to inject as much gusto into her voice as she could, but missed by a long shot. Closing her eyes, she prayed whoever was at the other end wouldn’t take their business elsewhere due to her lackluster tone.

You may help me by explaining what that garbled message you left on my phone was supposed to mean!” a deep male voice grumbled down the line.

Oh. It’s you.”

Thanks for that upbeat response. It’s perked me right up!”

It amazed her how her best friend, Will Fenton, had lived in London for over twenty years and not lost a single trace of his American accent.

Listen, Will, I don’t need your brand of humor right now. Not today.”

Why? What’s happened?”

She sighed. “Didn’t you get my message?”

Since you seem a little slow today, I’ll start again. Your message was about as clear as mud mixed with a ton of concrete.”

Right.” Her attention wandered over her desk to the papers her lawyers had couriered over, her breath catching all over again when her gaze landed on the bright letters that spelt urgent. She hadn’t bothered to open the package, seeing as her very thorough lawyers had also sent the bad news by email.

Bankruptcy.

How could things have gone from great to abysmal in so short a time?

Okay, if you let me know how long we’ll be playing the silent game, maybe I can get comfortable. Right now I’m freezing my ass off at a bus shelter, it’s pissing down rain, and there’s a nutter next to me trying to feed me bananas.”

Maxine started to tell him, but paused. She didn’t want to say the word bankruptcy aloud. Her Catholic headmistress had once told her words, once spoken, hung in the air around you, waiting to become reality. Whether she’d intended at the time to scare Maxine into not saying the word shit in case it literally rained down on her was something she’d never been brave enough to test. To this day, only variations of the word passed her lips.

Maxine! For fuck’s sake. What’s going on?” Even concerned, Will’s voice held a brisk snap that broke through her maudlin thoughts.

I’ve lost my business,” she finally mumbled, feeling numbed by the whole situation.

You’ve what? That’s absurd!”

A hysterical cackle burst from her lips. “Believe me, I wish it was. Come Christmas, I’ll be out of business.”

But why? How come?” His genuine puzzlement touched her. If anyone knew how hard she’d worked to make Maxine Gray Designs work, it was Will.

Does the name Lady Satchel-Worthing ring any bells?”

Are you serious? Are you telling me Lady Starch carried through with her threat?”

Maxine’s lips twitched at the name Will had coined for the septuagenarian aristocrat who’d had so many facelifts her features seemed starched into place. “Yes. The letter came through three days ago. I met with my lawyers yesterday—”
What did they say?”

The burden of her dilemma settled like a heavy cloak over her shoulders. “They advised me to settle.”

Bullshit. You fight, Max. You fight her hard. This isn’t like you to just bend over and take it up the ass. What’s wrong with you?” Irritation sharpened his voice even further.

Her fingers tightened around her BlackBerry. “Because it’s hopeless, Will. I can stand on principle and spend every last penny I don’t have fighting a battle I’ve been advised I’d lose, or I can settle and at least ensure my employees have half a turkey instead of ashes for Christmas. You know as well I do, Lady Satchel-Worthing has an astonishing amount of clout in this city. In the last thirty-six hours alone, six of my clients have withdrawn their commissions.”

At the other end of the line, Will swore hard. “Can they do that? Didn’t they sign a contract?”

Oh, come on. What do you want me to do, force them to let me decorate their homes? That’ll certainly go down well.”

Listen, I can see the last free cab in London coming my way. If I catch it, I’ll be there in ten minutes, okay?”

Before she could respond, a loud whistle pierced her ear, and the line went dead.

Backlist:

Wreckless

Author Page - Aubrie Dionne

http://authoraubrie.blogspot.com/
http://www.gypsyshadow.com/Aubrie.html

Bio:

Aubrie Dionne is an author and flutist in New England. Her writings have appeared in Niteblade and Silver Blade ezines, Emerald Tales, Wyvern Publication’s Dragtontales anthology, and the Night Bird Singing in the Dead of Night Anthology. Her young adult fantasy book, Dreams of Beauty, is published by SynergEbooks and her short story collections are published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing. Her Space Opera, Nebula’s Music, is coming out in 2010 at Lyrical Press. Her pirate story will be published in Bedazzeld Ink's Skulls and Crossbones anthology in January, 2010 and her short story, Song of the Bard, will be featured in Mindflights ezine in 2010. Aubrie teaches flute at Plymouth State University and the Manchester Community Music School. Please stop by and visit her blog.


Carnival of Illusions: Chameleon's Colors


Blurb:


Ever since she stumbled into her father’s lab and drank a cocktail of his experiments, Kaylee has had the ability to change color, blending into her environment like a chameleon. Named a freak at school, she runs away and joins the Masquerade Carnival. Her life takes on a routine and she enjoys performing in the shows until she falls for a young man hired to run the rides.

Coincidentally, an old, roving gypsy offers a potion to restore her body to the way it once was to win his heart. Now she must choose between her unique powers or a chance at love.


Excerpt:


The bulky velvet curtain rose inch by inch in a ponderous black sunrise. Kaylee surveyed a sea of glossy eyes, all staring eagerly in anticipation. She stood gracefully from her stool on the ancient night-shrouded stage and released the clasp on her black cloak. The fabric fluttered behind her like a bat’s wings before drifting to rest in a linen puddle on the stage. Music filled the tent, heightening to an ominous swell of mysterious chimes with the surge of ocean waves.

Kaylee could feel her skin burning, as if the sun were all around her, within her, flowing like liquid gold through her veins. The screen behind her was a deep scarlet, and so that’s what her skin became.The audience watched in a silent hush of awe as spirals of burgundy and bursts of dark crimson blossomed on her naked torso, spreading to engulf her body. In an instant, she was invisible. Every inch of skin blended with the backdrop, except the small snakeskin bikini that clung to her body and the glowing whites of her eyes.

Next the screen softened to an iridescent indigo, and the music diminished to a lull of birdsong and the patter of rain. Kaylee danced, twirling on tippy-toe as a refreshing calm spread through her like a breath of sweet wind on a stifling day. She felt her body grow cool as swirls of cobalt and explosions of azure littered her back in fireworks. Each time she changed color was a different experience, setting off capricious patterns of hued rainbows on her skin. All at once, she was a visual masterpiece before she disappeared into oblivion.

Once totally invisible, she crept up to the front of the stage and approached a handsome young man in the front row. When the screen turned again, he cried out in surprise to find a cobalt beauty perching inches from his face. She laughed lightly and swept herself up onto her feet, lilting to the liquid flow of music and colors of the digital tapestries that flickered behind her.

It was time for the glorious showstopper finale. The music took on a tribal beat, ancient drums pounding like bones on dried skin. Kaylee shouted a war cry and spun around to a screen of multicolored rainbows, every hue imaginable. Her body changed from gold to silver, dappled salmon to stripes of jade and back again. She somersaulted, jumped, and then spun around, urged on by the audience’s claps on each throbbing beat.

With a clash of cymbals and timpani, the screen flashed and went black. Kaylee froze in an Egyptian stance, her arms zigzagging out in front of her and her breath heaving from the exertion. A thunder of applause erupted and she released her pose and bowed ceremoniously. Before her skin turned again, she snatched the cloak and spread it around her body, the hood casting shadows on the rose-colored patterns that withered on her cheeks.

Kaylee walked offstage quickly, ignoring the audience’s cries for more. Her skin sizzled and she needed to rest. A bodyguard guided her down the hall and into her dimly-lit dressing room at the back of the performer’s tent.Plopping down in the make up chair, Kaylee smiled to herself, satisfied. It was another show down, another audience enthralled. She was a born performer, and had found her calling in the grand scheme of the universe, a place where she was accepted, honored, and glorified. Her life was complete.

This was a big improvement. A year ago she was nobody, an ordinary teenager with no one to care about her, and she had risked everything to get someone to notice her. Even now the desperate scene plagued her dreams; the fateful day, the one instance of choice that would decide the rest of her life.


Backlist:

Carnival of Illusions: Sheer Destiny

Carnival of Illusions: Jester's Folly

Autumn Crone

Spring Maiden

Summer Sprite

Winter Queen

Night Dance

Jasmine Black Book Trailers





Contemporary Trailers A-M

Jasmine Black





Monday, February 1, 2010

February Reviews




Reviews are up for the month of February.

  1. Chameleon’s Colors by Aubrie Dionne


  2. The Timsestone Key by Pamela Hearon


  3. When the Condor Returned by Icy Snow Blackstone

Check 'em out! Leave a comment. We'd love to hear from you.

When the Condor Returned by Icy Snow Blackstone

Blurb:

Peace was within their grasp...and then the enemy returned.
Love doesn't necessarily conquer all. Newlyweds Philip and Rebekah represent the union of two different people, but the Earthmen and the Tusteya are not understanding of their union.

Philip needs to convince everyone that he is a capable ruler. When he and Rebekah think they've succeeded, The Condor, a Federation spaceship returns, reawakening thirty years of hatred and aggression.

Captain Renault, in charge of the Condor, considers himself a by-the-book commander. Whatever he does, he has the excuse of following orders. His viewpoints set him up to be in conflict with Phillip.

Phillip must answer the ultimate question--is he Tusteyan or Earthman?

Review:

Excellent! Loved it from beginning to end. Second book in this series, you should read book one first, but I really think you could follow even if you didn’t. Though you might not enjoy book two as much as having read book one first.

Ms. Blackstone created a fabulous world in book one that just got better in When the Condor Returned. The characters come to life in this setting. I found myself rooting for both sides hoping for a solution to their problems and not wanting the story to end. But the epilogue helped, bringing tears to my eyes and doing my heart good.

Whatever issues I had with book one were worked out in book two.

I give this story 5 hearts and a Recommended Read. Reviewed by

Jasmine

Chameleon’s Colors by Aubrie Dionne

Blurb:

Ever since she stumbled into her father’s lab and drank a cocktail of his experiments, Kaylee has had the ability to change color, blending into her environment like a chameleon. Named a freak at school, she runs away and joins the Masquerade Carnival. Her life takes on a routine and she enjoys performing in the shows until she falls for a young man hired to run the rides.

Coincidentally, an old, roving gypsy offers a potion to restore her body to the way it once was to win his heart. Now she must choose between her unique powers or a chance at love.

Review:

A refreshingly sweet young romance. Wonderfully written. Ms. Dionne paints a vivid scene that had me sucked in from paragraph one. I could see everything taking place on stage as Kaylee preformed. Most times when you read a romance, you want to connect with the heroine and live through her. But in this first scene, I was more than happy to sit back watch in awe.

The only issue I had with this story was that it seemed to end abruptly. Like there was a little left untold to the story. Other than that, this is a wonderful short read.


I give this story 5 hearts. Reviewed by
Jasmine



Buy Link


The Timsestone Key by Pamela Hearon

Blurb:

Can a modern heart entwined with an ancient mystery prevail against a terrifying future?

When she was three, Halley Winsted was given a mysterious family legacy and told to follow her heart. But now that she’s thirty-three, love and commitment don’t come easy, even in the arms of sexy Tom Rutledge. A trip to England seems the perfect chance to sort out her feelings, and to indulge her obsession with the Arthurian legends.

But the legends are true. Arthur is alive in Avalon, teetering on the brink of madness, unable to fulfill his role in mankind’s terrifying future. Can the legacy Halley bears heal Arthur’s mind in time? Can she trust her heart to lead her to her destiny?

Content warning: This book contains sensual descriptions of consummated love scenes. Not for those under 18 years of age.

Review:

Very interesting take on the Arthurian legend. I have to say I love a good King Arthur story, though I’m not an expert on the matter.

This story has me torn on the rating. I liked the plot, though more mainstream or fantasy than romance. Ms. Hearon’s imagination is gripping and I enjoyed the paranormal/fantasy plot twists worked in.

On the downside Ms. Hearon got a bit long winded and repetitive so that parts read more like a history lesson or even a summary of one’s vacation than of fiction.

I was hoping for more romance from an Arthurian story than I what I got. After all, it is marketed as romance and the main storyline is of the heroine’s travels and research for a book. The story does not focus on the coming together of two people as a romance should. But as I said before, I was very intrigued with the plot and twists. Maybe I’m not well versed in all things Arthurian, but I’d never heard this theory before and that part I loved. I think if it was marketed as straight fantasy instead of romance, than I might not have been so let down.



I give this story 3 hearts. Reviewed by

Jasmine


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Author Page - Piper Denna

http://www.piperdenna.com/
http://piperpatter.blogspot.com/

Bio:

Romance is sexy. And often funny, and sometimes tangled up with suspense. Let’s face it: all sorts of things get mixed up with romance in real life.

Piper Denna’s stories are not cut-and-dried romance. She wants her characters to deal with issues female readers can relate to: independence and trust, empowerment, inhibitions, an unfaithful partner, motherhood. Sometimes her characters make mistakes and often her “bad guys” are not 100% bad. Mostly she wants to take the reader on an emotional journey to a happy ending (with a few enviable sexual encounters along the way!).

When she’s not writing, she edits, raises two “tweens” along with her husband, and has an evil day job.

She enjoys books (or movies) with a comedic twist and hopefully a love story, too.

Sexiest parts of a man in Piper’s opinion? The hands and eyes. Shoulders are nice too, and of course, great pecs are never amiss…


A Fireman for Christmas


Blurb:

One more Christmas lusting after her older brother’s best friend? Timi might lose her mind. Fed up with family holidays, she rents a cabin for one, planning a Christmas escape her drawings. But after numerous sketches turn out to be her rendition of Clay in the Hottest Firemen Calendar poster, she realizes location is just a technicality.

Fireman Clay can’t imagine spending Christmas without Timi around to ogle. Hearing she’s holed up in a lovers’ retreat, he can’t resist seeking her out. This year, he’s determined to start a fire and claim the gift he’s always wanted.

TRAILER COMING SOON

Excerpt:

The cabin was exactly what Timi Rogers wanted: small, cozy, and private. Two days and nights of peace and quiet at Green Mountain Lodge. No work, no responsibilities, no family holiday hassles.

She dropped her bags on the rustic couch, wandered into the bathroom, and flipped on the light switch. More plaid, and a moose motif. Comfy, like the tidy kitchenette and handmade quilt on the bed. The desk lamp would give just the right light, once she moved it to the table.

For once, she had uninterrupted time to sketch. Hopefully the scenery would inspire some new projects. Eager to get started, she headed to her small pile of belongings to get out her drawing stuff.

Solid rapping on the front door called for a detour. Probably somebody from the front desk. Had she left her credit card, or maybe forgotten to sign for the charges?

She yanked the stubborn door and all but lost her balance when it gave. And looked up into the scowling face of Clay Jones.

Great.

“You always open the door without looking to see who’s standing outside first?” Snow swirled in icy gusts past his big body and into her cabin.

Her knuckles were probably white from gripping the door so hard. Maybe she’d slam it shut in his face. If she thought for a second it would make him go away, she’d try it. “This resort has the lowest number of ax murderers per capita in the Midwest.”

He didn’t so much as crack a smile. The lower edge of his blond hairline peeked out from under his fleece hat. “Good one. What are you doing up here all alone on Christmas Eve? Going Scrooge this year?”

“Sure. Scrooge. That’s me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got things to do.” Her fingers fluttered a farewell wave.

“Don’t think so.” He shoved his considerable parka’d bulk past her, ducking slightly under the jamb, and looked around. The cabin suddenly seemed crowded instead of cozy.

Whoa, he was even bigger than the last time she’d seen him. Was he going for a Mr. Universe title or what, pumping so much iron? Could just be the thick coat.

Well, he was in. She might as well shut the door on the blizzard raging outside. If she gave the right answers to his questions, he’d be on his way. With award-worthy effort, she held back a sigh. Hopefully he wasn’t there to try luring her back to holidays with the family. One more repeat of Christmases past, and she’d go bonkers.

“Things to do, huh? Like what?” He stood with his legs set, arms crossed over his chest, like a bouncer in front of some exclusive nightclub. “You’re obviously not up here with a boyfriend, like you told your Grammy Martha.”

“If I tell you I’ve hated Christmas with my family for the last five years, will I have to listen to a lecture about how they all love me and they’re just worried? Which one of them sent you, anyway?” Probably Eddy. Clay and her oldest brother had been tight as two slats on a beer barrel since Kindergarten. Leave it to Eddy to pawn off the dirty work and stick his only single friend with keeping tabs on Little Timi.

Clay turned red around the neck. “Uh. Who said anything about sending me? Maybe I just heard from a little bird that you were traipsing off for a romantic holiday with a fictional boyfriend. Maybe since you have a history of being…” He shrugged and scrubbed the back of his neck. “…you know…lonesome?”

Backlist
All Fore Revenge
Fantasy Mountain

Cowboy Trailers

Contemporary Trailers N-Z

Autumn Piper








Lux Zakari

Historical Trailers

Jasmine Black





Kimberly Killion

Autumn Piper Book Trailers













Author Page - Autumn Piper

http://www.autumnpiper.com/
http://piperpatter.blogspot.com/
Piper.Autumn@gmail.com

Bio:
I write contemporary romance and women's fiction/mom-lit. My stories often have a high heat index to match their American southwest settings. Known by my writing buddies as "Angst", I have a penchant for making my characters suffer. My stories may be tributes to the old saying, "No pain, no gain", but my Hero and Heroine always get the happily every after they so deserve.

I love sunny spring days, hot bread, the smell of the ocean, and that fluttery feeling I get inside at the first spark of a great romance story. In my "spare" time between being a wife, mom of two pre-teens, and writer, I like to read, take morning walks, make people laugh (this probably happens when I break into a jog!), garden, and conquer the beast that is Sudoku. Working as a substitute teacher keeps me on my toes and makes me hope to become a very successful writer!

For me, an excellent book has characters you can sympathize with or hate (sometimes both at once), a story you simply must see through to the end, and realistic dialogue. Give me those key elements, and I'll read any genre or time period, any author.

Lone Star Trouble

Blurb:

One hot cowboy plus one tough rancher-girl adds up to trouble!

Kiersten Day holds a grudge against all things Texan, especially cattle baron CJ Howell, with his hubcap-sized belt buckle and tacky white hat. He’s set his sights on her tiny Colorado ranch, and he’s a master of dirty tactics, slinging threats to make her sell out.

Caught in the fight of her life, Kiersten meets Cleve, a tall, handsome good guy. Too late, she finds out he’s Howell’s son. She might be pregnant, she doesn’t know who to trust, and danger is closing in. She’s head over heels -- and kicking herself!

Content warning, a hot cowboy, dirty tactics and lots of lone star trouble.



Excerpt:

This couldn’t be good. She never ran into other people up here. And after yesterday’s confrontation… Why hadn’t she strapped on her pistol before she left the cabin?

A sweaty buckskin gelding topped the hill, then halted.

Time for another confrontation.

The cowboy dismounted and made a thorough visual examination of her.
Freckles. The first thing he’d see would be her freckles, since she never bothered with makeup except for trips to town. Add to that her big messy ponytail, and it was amazing the guy was taking a second look. And a third? Well, he wasn’t exactly looking at her face, now was he? Warm from her hike up the hill, she’d unzipped her jacket, exposing the only curves on her body—her breasts. The tall stranger was all but ogling them.

Not in the least appreciative of his silent admiration, she tugged her jacket closed.

With a small cough, he cleared his throat. “Howdy, neighbor. I’m Cleve. You must be Miss Day.”

Another Texan, but clean shaven, with light skin, short dark hair and nearly black eyes. He wore a red flannel shirt with a blue t-shirt under, tucked cowboy-style into his Wranglers. Around his waist he sported a plain leather belt and everyday buckle, not a shiny gold-and-silver number like the guy she’d met yesterday. Brown boots, and the straw cowboy hat he’d removed when he introduced himself.

It was hard not to meet his wide, open smile with one of her own. Too hard, in fact. “Hi. Kiersten.” A tiny gold hoop hung from his left ear, odd on a cowboy, but nothing blame-worthy. And he was definitely fine to look at—if she’d been interested in looking at men anymore.

He took her hand in his and shook it with big, friendly strokes, settled his hat back atop his head and looked around. “Some view up here.”

She nodded. “See that peak over there, the darker one? It’s in Utah. My Grandpa said it’s about a hundred and fifty miles away.”

Cleve whistled behind her. “You walk up here?”

She grinned at how winded he was from riding horseback up the mountain. “I walked the fence line, checking for snow damage. I’ll be hanging it back up in the next few days.”

“What kinda fence is that?” The wire net lay flat and ran parallel to an army of steel posts marching straight as an arrow into the horizon.

Cattlemen marked the edge of their property with two or three simple strands of barbed wire, rather than the net fencing sheep ranchers used. “It’s a fence to keep my nuisance sheep in, and your fat cows out, since the law says I’m responsible for both.”

He rubbed his chin with the back of his fingers. “I meant, why’s it on the ground?”

“Seven feet of snow on a hillside tends to make a mess of a fence, come spring. Used to come up here and find this part of the fence crumpled up way down there.” She pointed at a stand of aspens about twenty feet down the hill. “Might find several steel posts bent over flat. One of the other old-timers came up with the idea of unhooking the wire from the posts in the fall. Keeps the snow from leaning on it for months on end, and the elk from getting tangled in it.”

“Pretty good idea, then.”

“You’ll find I’m not stupid, in spite of what your boss might think.”

“Ah…Boss?” He scratched the back of his hair, tipping the front of his hat a little.

“Yeah. Charles. The world’s last remaining male chauvinist pig. Boss Hogg, in a Cadillac truck instead of his trademark white convertible. Give him my regards.”

Her middle fingers raised in another rebellious salute.

His eyebrows lifted. “Doesn’t sound like he put his best foot forward.”

“Just let him know that next time, his foot better have a bullet-proof boot on, cause I’ll be comin out with my twelve-gauge. And let him know I thought over his offer.”

Cleve’s eyes lit. “And?”

“You’re probably shy about giving your boss the bird, even though it’s a message, so just tell him, ‘Not everybody can be bought, Jackass, and there are a million five reasons why,’ okay?”

His eyes widened. “Ah. Wasn’t too persuasive, then?”

“Definitely not a people person, that Chaz. I thought his lawyers were bad. You must be his new, what, manager? Ranch foreman?”

Big fingers rubbed over his chin. “Somethin like that.”

Why was the guy so confused? Maybe the thin air was starving his brain of oxygen. Seemed nice enough. Too bad he’d gotten hooked up with such a peckerwood. “Well, it’s been nice meeting you, Cleve. Good luck with Boss. Is there a Mrs. Hogg, I mean Howell?”

He grinned. “Not yet.”

“I’d say his chances keep getting thinner as his waist gets thicker, and women get more crazy ideas in their heads about equal opportunities, all that Women’s Lip nonsense.” The mere thought of Chaz’s asinine ideals had sent her hands to her hips again. Damn. “I need to get back and do something domestic around the house now.”

With a wave over her shoulder, she started back down the hill.

“Wait!” Cleve followed down the hill on his side of the fence. “You want some help when you put up this part-time fence?”

Work with the cattlemen? She’d be damned if she’d ever take help from Chaz, but Cleve seemed friendly. And cute. Shaking off cute, she shrugged. “Sure.”

“Wanta do it tomorrow? Same time?”

“I’ve, um, got a…date.” And why did she say that? Why should she want him to think she had a date? “How ’bout Sunday.”

“Sunday it is,” he answered with a smile.

Damn fine smile he had. George Strait fine.

As she walked away, she called back, “Don’t forget your gloves!”

“Hey, wait!”

Criminy. She stopped again.

“You startin at the top, or bottom?”

“Top. If we get to the bottom, I’ll feed you lunch.”

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Kimberly Killion Book Trailer

Book Trailers by Author

Check out these author's book clips.

Autumn Piper

Jasmine Black

Kimberly Killion

Lux Zakari

Author Page - Kimberly Killion

Author: Kimberly Killion
Book: HIGHLAND DRAGON
Website: http://kimberlykillion.com/


Back cover copy:
Scotland 1502. Akira Neish has been raised as a peasant, her belly often empty and her family subject to the cruel whims of her clan's laird. To the clan’s children, the horned shaped birthmark she bears means she is a witch. But she is neither peasant nor witch—and now the man who knows the truth has returned to claim her for his own.

Calin MacLeod has kept Akira's secrets and to avenge his father, the sensual young laird must marry her. He is more than a match for the fiery nature of the woman he adores. Yet the passion they share—and truths that can no longer remain hidden—could rip all of Scotland apart...



Excerpt:

HIGHLAND DRAGON by Kimberly Killion

Prologue - Scotland 1484

Hidden behind a false panel, ten-year-old Calin MacLeod covered his ears with sweaty palms. The screams echoing throughout Brycen Castle were loud enough to loosen his teeth.
Lena Kinnon cried for mercy with every gut-wrenching contraction, but didn’t receive the slightest morsel of compassion from the many men present. Her position held no dignity, sprawled atop the council table like a sacrificial lamb. The wool of her soiled sark draped between her raised knees and provided her little privacy. No one wiped her brow or offered soothing words of comfort.

A woman was supposed to suffer during childbirth to pay for the sins of Eve. Even at his young age, Calin knew the laws of the church. He also knew Lena had already suffered more than any woman in Clan Kinnon. The bruises speckling her pale skin were evidence of the constant torture she endured at the hands of her ruthless husband.

The sliver of space between the wooden planks where Calin hid was no wider than the trunk of a sapling, but provided a view of his da, Laird MacLeod, who stood against a stone pilaster opposite Laird Kinnon. Da’s dark hair had grayed at the temples over the recent months, and his face sagged in weariness, but his rigid stance displayed his contained rage. With his eyes narrowed, Da stroked the golden bull’s head engraved into the signet ring he wore and glared at his enemy.

Two pairs of MacLeod warriors flanked each side of his da, while four Kinnon warriors surrounded Laird Baen Kinnon. All were unarmed as was previously agreed upon by both lairds.
“Ye keep screamin’, wife. It’ll cleanse your black English soul.” Laird Kinnon paced the council chamber, a sneer twisting his pitted face.

Calin hated the chieftain of his neighboring clan as much as his da did. Laird Kinnon was a cold-hearted demon. Anyone who would beat his lady wife during her childbearing time walked upon this earth with the devil’s black blood flowing through his veins.
“Ye bear me another bitch and it will be your last.”

“Please, Baen, have ye no mercy? Send for the midwife, please.” Lena gripped the sides of her belly and arched her back.

Laird Kinnon slapped her across the face with an open palm. Sweat sprayed over the tabletop. “Still your tongue, wife, or I’ll cut it out.” He spread his arms wide, gesturing to the many warriors present. “There be plenty o’ eager hands awaitin’ to catch my male bairn as soon as ye free him from your spoiled womb.”

Calin bit his tongue to avoid cursing the man as venomously as his da always did. Calin had lived his whole life without a mam to kiss his cheek or offer him praise. Over the past few months, Lena had been like a mother to him. She was kind and gentle and Laird Kinnon should burn in the deepest pit of hell for the way he abused his lady wife. Calin didn’t have to be an aged warrior to know this was wrong. Lena’s child was nothing more to Laird Kinnon than a binding contract.

A contract that affected Calin’s future. Which was precisely why he’d disobeyed his da’s direct order not to follow him to the Kinnon keep when word of Lena’s lying-in arrived. If Lena bore a daughter, the babe would become his betrothed.

Calin and his friend, Kendrick Neish of Clan Kinnon, had discovered the secluded compartment just two months past after stumbling into the pitch-black caverns beneath the castle. Since then, they had become privy to every council meeting between their clans. They knew of war and how the English wanted to reign over Scotland. Both had heard the gruesome tales of entire villages being slaughtered. Neither he, nor Kendrick wanted their clans to suffer such a fate. Calin knew they were supposed to be enemies, but they wanted the same thing—an alliance.

For five hours, Calin had hugged his twisted limbs in the narrow space while Lena labored in the corner. His arse tingled, and his toes had gone numb hours before inside his leather brogues. The dank odor of moldy floor rushes drifted into his hiding place. A prayer floated into his ear.

“Fàilte dhut a Mhoire, tha thu lan de na gràsan…” In the Gaelic tongue, Father Harrald prayed to the Blessed Mother while he paced the edge of the chamber. The granite beads of his rosary clattered with his every movement. The young priest had been summoned to perform the baptism or to administer Last Rites in the event this child didn’t survive—as Lena’s previous three babes had not.

Lena pushed and Calin sucked in air.

He exhaled when she did. Her whole body convulsed, his shivered. Wet ropes of black hair clung to her face and neck. Propped on her elbows, her head fell back. Her mouth opened, and she screamed in agony.

One of the warriors caught the babe just as it slid from Lena’s body.
Calin held his breath awaiting the outcome.

“A lass, Laird Kinnon,” the old man announced grimly while he held the babe by the ankles and slapped her rump. He then laid her atop Lena’s quivering abdomen.

Lena pulled the crying child to her breast and stroked her newborn skin. Relief washed over her face and tears spilled over her cheeks when she smiled at Da. All would be well now.

“Seal off the hall and bring me the other child.” The cord still attached his infant daughter to his wife when Laird Kinnon commanded his seneschal. His dark eyes blazed with contempt as he stared directly at Da. “Ye will ne’er hold claim to my land. Nor will ye e’er touch my wife again.”

“I have ne’er wanted your land.” Da stepped closer to Lena.

“But ye dinnae deny touching my wife.”

Da glanced at Lena.

A dozen broad-shouldered men materialized from the darkened recesses of Brycen Castle. Their weapons flickered beneath golden wall torches. A raw-boned nursemaid, escorted by another warrior, entered the chamber, her fear evident in sunken wide eyes. In her arms, she held another babe swaddled in stripped wool, its fists swatted the air. With trembling hands, she placed the babe in the crook of Laird Kinnon’s arm.

Confused, Calin studied the exchange. Laird Kinnon had agreed to unite their clans if Lena bore a daughter.

Laird Kinnon turned to his warriors. “Send their miserable souls to the devil. All of them.” His tone was devoid of mercy. Of compassion. Of any emotion except contempt.

He stepped out of the keep onto the stone rampart. “I have a son!” he shouted.

The villagers of Dalkirth roared their approval while the words echoed in Calin’s ears.

Nay! ’Tis a lie! He gawked in horror as the shadowed knights charged his clansmen. Da’s devoted seneschal used a flaming pitch-pine torch to defend the attack. His efforts were futile. With one swing of a halberd, a Kinnon warrior beheaded him. Another fiend slashed one of the MacLeod warriors from gullet to navel. Fists clutched enemy plaid as he fell to his knees.

Calin’s heart tripped. His hands flattened against the panel. His nose pressed into the crack. Oh saints, help them!

The saints could no more help his kinsmen than the bits of wood they used as shield and sword.

The Kinnon warriors buried the steel of their weapons into the MacLeod’s flesh, spreading pools of dark blood over their crossbarred plaids. Slaughtered before his eyes were his Da’s most loyal kinsmen. Calin’s stomach convulsed and saliva grew thick in his mouth. He wanted to run and hide his eyes from the nightmare.

Standing amid the four fallen men, Da was trapped. His hand slid to the empty scabbard at his hip. There was no weapon. No claymore to defend himself against this preplanned attack. Six Kinnons surrounded Da. His father turned to Lena.

Calin froze. Unshed tears scalded his eyes. Run, Da! he screamed in his head, but instead, his da fell upon Lena. He brushed the tears from her cheeks then pressed his lips to hers.

A single warrior cast a shadow over his da like a demon cloaked in black mist. Leather-clad hands gripped the hilt of a battle-axe and raised the lethal weapon over his head. In one thrust, he buried the steel between Da’s shoulders.

Lena screamed as his body slid off her and crumpled to the floor.

Calin choked on the knot in his throat as the bloody massacre branded an image in his mind. His pulse pounded in his neck, making his cries hard to swallow. Terrified they would find him, he splayed his violently shaking fingers over his eyes, all the while chastising himself for cowardice. His world went black, along with his mind, his heart, his soul.

The dying groans of suffering drummed through his ears, but the scream slicing through the air brought sight back to his eyes.

Lena.

Shame flooded Calin as he watched the same warrior unsheathe a black dirk from his stocking. He held Lena’s chin while he slashed the sharp sgian dubh across her throat. With her infant daughter nuzzling at her breast, Lena’s head fell to the side, giving Calin one last look into crystal-blue eyes before the terror in her face vanished along with her spirit.

The warrior’s leathered hand hovered over the nape of the babe. His other hand held the weapon that would end her short life. The coppery taste of blood pooled on Calin’s tongue from where he bit the inside of his cheek.

Father Harrald dropped to his knees at the warrior’s feet. “Save your soul and cease. Please, cease. I beg of ye. The others had been baptized. She must be baptized.”

The Kinnon warrior hoisted the priest up by the hood of his habit and pointed his dirk at one of the other warriors. “Confess.” The clansmen gave their confessions one by one, binding Father Harrald to clerical secrecy. After the last warrior reconciled his sins, he shoved the priest toward Lena. “Ye may proceed with the rites. Someone will return to collect the babe.”

The men vanished into the shadows from whence they came.

The violent turn of events had Calin near to retching. He gripped his churning gut with clenched fingers and stared at the babe still nestled atop her dead mother’s bosom—daughter to the demon who murdered his father, but also his betrothed. He didn’t know whether to hate her or protect her. He had nary a doubt her brief life would tragically end in much the same way as Lena’s first three daughters.

The fire’s reflection flickered off the blade Father Harrald used to sever the cord binding the babe to her mother. The priest washed the remnants of birth from her skin and laid her in a pile of linens next to Lena. His voice quavered with the administration of blessed sacraments. “An tAthair, An Mac, An Spiorad Naomh.” Signing the cross over the babe, he blew breath upon her, and baptized her with holy oils.

Calin crawled from his hiding place, wiping the wetness from his cheeks. He raked the patch of brown hair falling loosely over his brow, while stepping over the blood and carnage. Unable to tear his gaze from his da’s body, he let the sickly sweet stench of death fill his nostrils and revive his spirit with the promise of vengeance. The metallic acid thickened in his throat, but he swallowed his fear. His grief. His newfound hate. He had but one purpose now—avenge his father’s death. And to do so, he needed the babe.

Father Harrald flinched. “Young Calin, ye must not be here.”

Ignoring the priest, Calin knelt at Da’s side. He brushed a lock of graying hair from his da’s damp brow and willed him to stand, but his skin paled as a pool of blood welled beneath him. Calin bent to his ear. “Blood of my blood. I’ll not fail ye, Da. I vow it.”

Father Harrald’s hand rested on Calin’s shoulder. “They’ll murder ye, just as sure as they will the babe. Ye must go.”

“Father Harrald, ye will see that Da and these men are returned to MacLeod soil. Get word to Uncle Kerk. Tell him I am weel, and I’ll be home soon.” Calin wished his voice didn’t falter. He needed to be a man, a warrior. He swallowed hard then pulled the signet ring from Da’s limp hand and set the engraved crest against a glowing ember in the hearth.

Calin couldn’t meet the priest’s eyes. “An eye for an eye. She’s the key to the alliance, and she belongs to me.” He spoke with defiance as he handled the squirming babe. He carried her to the hearth and set her atop a wooden basin. Using a strip of heavy wool to retrieve the signet ring from a hot coal, he rolled her onto her side and branded her bottom with the MacLeod crest. She let out a shrill scream, followed by shuddering sobs. He wrapped the babe in linens, then secured her in Lena’s stripped arisaid, fastening the wool with her family brooch. He held her close and attempted to coo her into submission. One day he would tell her about her mam and how kind Lena had been to him.

So many questions stirred in Calin’s troubled mind, but one in particular needed answering. “I know ye heard Da’s confession last week. I also know ye are bound by the seal o’ the confessional, so I’ll understand if ye cannae answer my question.”

“What’s your question, my son?” Father Harrald scanned the entrance to the chamber.
“Da loved Lena Kinnon.” Calin paused with his gaze fixed on the newborn bundle. “Is this babe of my own blood?”

“Nay. Lena was swollen with her fourth child before she ever met your da. Rest assured, your young bride is not your sister. Now ye must go, quickly.”

Retrieving a torch from a wall bracket, Calin reentered the nook. The babe whimpered against his chest. A tiny hand swatted his chin. She was warm and smelled of innocence. He glanced over his shoulder at Da’s body, his eyes lowered. He should have done something. At least tried to stop them. He was weak, spineless. A coward.

Calin’s eyes found Father Harrald, his skin gray with worry. “What will ye tell them when they return for the babe?”

“I’ll tell them a warrior took her. ’Twill not be a lie.”

Friday, January 1, 2010

Under A Shifter's Moon by Kari Thomas

Blurb:

He was fated for another,but created to love her …

Decreed by Elders, alpha Jaguar Shifters Lyon Savage and his brother must decide Pride rule in a way not seen for centuries. Under a Shifter’s Moon, a mating can take place with a chosen human to produce a child, and the father of that child will become the one Alpha. Now Lyon must choose the love of his Truemate—or accept the decree to save his Pride and secure his future.


Strong and selfless, Kitlene is a rare woman whose blood, like her niece’s, carries something of the Shifter within its DNA. Willing to sacrifice herself for the sake of family, she offers herself to the Alpha Cat whose very presence pulls at her soul—and whose love brings with it a deadly complication.

Review:

Emotional from start to finish. A tough heroine. And alpha male to die for; one who cherished his woman without cruelty.

This fast paced, exciting story will keep you turning page after page. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. (Ms. Thomas owes me night of sleep.)

Danger lurks around every corner and Lyon is in for the fight of his life. The only way I could have been happier with the ending was to have a sequel with some of the secondary characters.

The book did have some editing problems that took me out of the story, which is why I can't give it the highest marks.

I give this story 5 hearts. Reviewed by

Jasmine