Sunday, 31 May 2015

Hold Me Until Midnight, by Christina Phillips - Review

Hold Me Until Midnight (Grayson Brothers), by Christina Phillips
Publishing Imprint: Entangled Publishing, Entangled-Brazen
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Eroticism
Pages: 218 Adobe Digital Editions
Upcoming Publication Date: June 9, 2015
Source: Entangled Publishing, Entangled-Brazen, NetGalley

Scarlett Ashford needs a date for her father’s wedding. Only she doesn’t just need a guy in a suit – she needs a bodyguard. The only problem is that Jackson Grayson is big and gorgeous and way too sexy. So much so, that Scarlett’s tempted to let this hot bad boy ruin her oh-so-good reputation…

Jackson doesn’t do relationships and he certainly doesn’t sleep with clients. Yet he can’t fight their inconvenient attraction, or how badly he wants Scarlett’s warm and wicked curves against his body. He wants her. Now. Even if it’s just for one night, and if even walking away the next morning isn’t as easy as he thought.

Besides, one hot and incredibly intense night between a bad boy and a pampered princess could never turn into something real… could it?
Scarlett Ashford hires a sexy, tough security guy to take her to her politician father’s wedding as a tactic to put off unwanted male attention, but she gets a little more than she bargained for with Jackson Grayson. She and her bodyguard “date” are instantly sexually attracted to each other.

The action moves fast and Scarlett and Jackson are so attracted to each other that, despite their huge social differences, they hook up almost immediately.

I think because Scarlett has grown up in a wealthy family, she has learned to be ‘polite’ about difficult situations. Unfortunately this does her no favours.  Scarlett’s redeeming feature is that while she doesn’t like blatant confrontation, she has the sense to choose a guy/bodyguard who has no problem with it and the physical brawn to back it up. Jackson totally fits the bill.

And Scarlett is nice enough that even though she’s a society girl, she’s the type who would fall for a regular working guy. Overdone trope, though with a slight twist.

Scarlett and Jackson’s attraction continues and they start to find common ground in their personal interests and develop something more between them than just several hot sexual encounters. They are supportive of each other which is a very nice development.

I think Jackson is a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy who has overcome a tough start in life, and it’s funny at times to watch how he and Scarlett figure each other out as she’s at the opposite end of the spectrum.

While some elements of the story are endearing, overall I found the story thin on character development and the writing style fairly basic. As an Entangled, Brazen imprint, this book is definitely true to steamy novels and if you’re looking for same, Hold Me Until Midnight will satisfy.

I was given a copy of this book by Entangled Publishing, via NetGalley in order to provide an honest review.

Christina Philips is a triple finalist in the 2013 ARRA Awards for erotic romance, and a finalist in the 2012 awards.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Siren's Call, by Debbie Herbert - Review

Siren's Call Available at Amazon
Siren’s Call, by Debbie Herbert
Published by:  Harlequin, June 1, 2015
Genre:  Paranormal Romance, Harlequin Nocturne
Pages: 297 Kindle
Source:  Njkinny Tours
Mermaid mythology meets Native American lore.
Lily Borsage is the ultimate siren; gorgeous, aloof and irresistible to all the men in Bayou La Siryna. All of them, that is, until Nashoba Bowman comes back to town. The Native American kid whose innocent first kiss Lily remembers fondly is now all grown up, hot as an Alabama summer, and immune to Lily’s charms. What self-respecting mermaid could resist finding out more?

But Nash has a dark history that puts any woman he loves in grave danger, and a heritage of power he isn’t ready to accept. And Lily has a secret that no mortal man can ever know. When a mysterious enemy starts menacing Lily, they will both have to risk everything and embrace their deepest destinies if they want to survive.

This book can be read as a stand-alone, and has no erotic content.
Okwa Nahollo “The white people of the sea…” “… if you swam near their home, they’d grab you by the ankles and pull you under. If you stayed underwater with them more than three days, you could never return to land.”

This is my favourite bit of Choctaw lore from Siren’s Call. Debbie Herbert uses fascinating southern Alabama bayou legends and shamanism as an evocative framework for her last installment in the Siren’s series about mermaids. This is my first mermaid book and I’m impressed with how the author blends the fantasy element of mermaids into a modern day life story telling.

The opening scene for Siren’s Call is initially quite hilarious. Lily has the siren’s voice, making her irresistible to all males… except to Nash, her childhood friend, who she bumps into, all grown up and hot, at the supermarket. It’s amusing to see her deal with rejection probably for the first time.

I found Lily to be a little immature through the early part of the book, but she comes around through middle-to-end as she and Nash struggle through some tough situations. Nash isn’t that interested in Lily right off and it’s different seeing Lily being more aggressive than she’s probably ever had to be with a guy.

Nash has returned to his home town on a job as a famous wildlife photographer, with assistant Opal in tow. Opal makes a good foil, being a bit geeky, to the Borsage sisters. I love how centred and earthy Nash is, and his great ability to connect with wildlife. He ties in with the shaman aspect in the book as his father, Sam, is a well-respected shaman who contributes to the plot. We also see Tia Henrietta, the local tarot card reader/psychic mamma for the town.

The author takes a chance revealing something early on in the story. I wasn’t sure how good a move this was, but I admit to liking being on the uptake as things happen and ultimately for me it didn’t take away anything from the story. There are a couple of treacherous sub-plots running through the book, some based on some past events in prior books in the series. These really add to the story.

The romantic element between Nash and Lily develops naturally, and I had really nice feel-good vibes about Nash and Lily as a couple as the book closes. And we learn something really interesting about Nash. This is a fabulous mermaid read, especially if you enjoy a southern locale. All the bayou lore has me dreaming about a steamy southern vacation there some day!

Debbie Herbert writes paranormal romance novels reflecting her belief that love, like magic, casts its own spell of enchantment. She's always been fascinated by magic, romance, and gothic stories. You will find Siren's Call, and Debbie on the web at these links:
Debbie is a past Maggie finalist in both Young Adult and Paranormal Romance, and she's a member of the Georgia Romance Writers of America.

I'm pleased to provide this review for Debbie Herbert and Njkinny Tours!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Indie Publishers Royalty Review 2015 and Pronoun

Image by Geralt, at Pixabay
In light of the May 19, 2015 announcement by Vook that they are rebranding to Pronoun, I thought I’d review the existing royalty payment structures at Amazon, and Smashwords in comparison to the new Pronoun offer.

Pronoun is an amalgamation of Vook, Byliner, and Booklr, designed to bring a complete digital book creation, distribution, and analytics platform to the indie publisher, apparently all free, and with 100% royalties. Sounds like direct competition to Amazon, and Smashwords to me.

Here’s a brief overview of royalties all around for the sake of comparison.

Amazon Royalties
This is a very simplified look as the royalty structure is too complex overall to explain here.

The 35% royalty option is for titles priced 0.99 cents to $2.99 (between 3 and 10 megabytes in size).
The 70% royalty option is for titles priced $2.99 to $9.99 (10 megabytes or greater in size).

While Amazon has significantly lower royalties, they offer an enormous network for getting your work out there, including the Select and KLL programs.

The author/publisher earns 85% or more of net proceeds from the sale of their works (minus PayPal payment processing fees), and 60% from sales originated from retailers.

I noticed some articles from a few months ago where Vook had bumped up their royalties to 85%, but then with this final announcement, it has now gone up to 100%. They note that they will earn money from their other enterprises.

Despite the May 19th announcement, Pronoun’s website is yet to become functional but you can sign up with your email to be the first to get in the action here:

There is no indication of whether they will allow authors to publish their works simultaneously elsewhere or if, like in Amazon Kindle’s Select program, you can only publish your works on their platform alone.

So, distribution breadth and allowance for publishing your work elsewhere will likely be important factors in Pronoun's success.

Digital book publishing is a rapidly evolving species on the Internet that appears to benefit from technological innovations. I, for one, am very interested to see how this pans out!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Two Lands-Return - Review

The Two Lands – Return, by Ann Livi Andrews
Genre: Fantasy
Pages:  425 PDF, 490 Print
Published By: Hollow Hallow Bindings, March 29, 2014
Source:  Author
“Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful princess…” But what if the princess is really plain, and no one wants her? Princess Keita may be the wisest princess in all The Two Lands, but it isn’t until a prince from across the sea arrives that she is mysteriously betrothed.

Princess Keita sets out on a journey with her new Prince to his homeland. Her journey begins to take an unexpected turn as she struggles between thinking of her betrothed, her father’s guard who escorted her into the hands of her Prince, and a dark wizard who speaks to her through dreams.

Princess Keita’s troubles are overshadowed by the threat of someone trying to reunite The Two Lands. This will ignite a war between power-hungry kings.  As Keita realizes her role in this struggle, she learns the truth about her new kingdom and its people.
Two Lands – Return is a charming fantasy/fairy tale style novel about a land split in two in the past by two powerful wizards.

Princess Keita is plain but has abundant native intelligence, and has yet to get a marriage offer at the age of 16. Finally, Prince Jeremiah from across the treacherous sea comes seeking her hand as he has heard about her even in his far domain.

In some ways, this is like a parable. Princess Keita leaves her parents’ home to probably marry Prince Jeremiah, and comes to learn about the big outer world and her place in it. Although in Keita’s case it’s a magical world of wizards, dragons, other strange and dangerous creatures, and the unknown things that have brought the two lands to their current perilous condition.

I found Keita to be smart, sensible, and somewhat dispassionate. She just deals with everything that comes her way with her natural smarts and learning. Despite this, she is susceptible to the wizard’s power over her, especially after she overhears Jeremiah’s parents discuss why they want her to marry their son. I think King Abner has been remiss in teaching his son, Jeremiah, about many things and this does him no favours.

I really love the magical library in Jeremiah’s father, King Abner’s castle!

At 425 PDF pages, I worried that this would drag as it’s quite long. The book reads fluidly and well, though I still found it long (am getting reader’s attention deficit?). I think some areas could have been tightened up a bit, like some of the conversations which bring information but go on at length.

As this is a young person’s book, I also felt the cover is somewhat dull and could use some brighter images as that would attract readers to this wonderful story. I can see middle graders staying up into the wee hours wanting to find out what will happen next but think they need to have a clearer idea from the cover what great adventures await inside.

There is an exciting and quite unexpected ending!

Overall, Two Lands – Return is an easy reading great fantasy tale excellent for young readers. I love the female MC, and there is a great mix of other storybook characters to entertain readers.

My favourite quote,
(Prince Jeremiah) “What do we do?”
Abner looked back out the window. “Don’t tell the women.”

A reading copy of this book was given to me by the author in return for an honest review.

Ann began the fast growing Group thread, Support for Indie Authors, on Goodreads, and she is an Apocalyptic author as well (her new YouTube promo is to the left) and can be found on the web here:
To purchase Two Lands - Return, please follow this Amazon link:

Friday, 1 May 2015

White Raven, by J.L. Weil - Excerpt

White Raven, (White Raven, #1) by J.L. Weil
Published:  March 27, 2015 by Dark Magick Publishing
Source: Xpresso Book Tours

The perfect beginning to May is today's excerpt from J.L. Weil's first book in her new series, White Raven for a book blitz. Enjoy!

It took only one heartbeat to change my life - one chilling phone call in the middle of the night.

And then, as if my life didn't already suck, my dad sends my brother and me to some idyllic island for the summer to live with a grandma we never met.  WTH. Naturally, I rebel. In the end, I find myself shipped off to Raven Hallow...and bored to tears.

Until I get an eyeful of the mind-bendingly gorgeous Zane Hunter. The dark-hair cutie makes my pulse go bonkers, and I think, maybe this might not be so bad after all. Six feet of swoon inducing looks, with a hint of Celtic charm in his voice, he was the type of guy that left a string of broken hearts in his wake. And I had all the heartbreak I could handle.

Yet, there is something uncanny, almost supernatural about Zane, and it's not just his devastating smirk. No matter how much distance I put between us, Raven Hallow isn't big enough, and the sparking tension between us is undeniable. Of course, the one person I want to avoid becomes my salvation.

My past comes back to terrorize me. Someone wants me dead, and the closer I get to the truth, the more I realize my whole life is a lie. I am no longer sure what is more frightening - the attempts on my life or the guy whose heart and soul are synchronized with mine.


TJ and Rose kept the conversation rolling as I gave the appropriate one-word responses or a head nod. I didn't have much of an appetite, mostly picking at my chicken Caesar salad and gazing out at the ocean, until...

His hair was black as a wintry night, eyes icy blue as a gypsy’s heart. He had a lazy saunter about him and a glint of humor twinkling in those heart-melting eyes. There was nothing loose about his body, muscles bunching as he tethered a boat to the dock. I twiddled the straw, staring brazenly.

Good God. I wanted to have his babies. Not now, but most definitely someday.

And just like that, my summer got a billion times hotter…and interesting—way more interesting. I bit my lip, mulling over how I was going to accidently fall into his pants. Um—I mean path or even his lap would do, anything to get that one’s attention.

Drool hit the table in a mad case of fangirl, and I didn’t even know his name.

As if he sensed he was being slobbered over, his eyes scraped over me, and I held my breath. Holy hot tamales. An electric bolt of…lust maybe, I really didn’t know what it was, but it coiled through my body, making me shudder. A flicker of an unidentified emotion crossed his face, right before a secret smile appeared on his lips. Oh man, don’t get me started on his lips.

Elbows propped on the table, I rested my head on the edge of my palms, continually gazing and getting lost in the depths of his eyes. He hypnotized me. I followed his movements, my eyes glued to him. Then one of my elbows slipped off the table in classic Piper form, and down I went. I caught myself just before my chin whacked a corner of the patio table.

Only me.

Mortified, I closed my eyes.
TJ laughed. “Smooth, Pipe. I think you made a lasting impression.”
Author J.L. Weil
First three chapters are available on Wattpad:
White Raven on Wattpad

About the Author:
Award-winning and best-selling author J.L. Weil writes teen and NA paranormal romances about spunky, smart-mouth girls. She can be found on the web here:

White Raven available at Amazon

JL Weil Blog
JL Weil on Twitter
JL Weil on Goodreads