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Linz

Linz Loves Romance

I've loved romance novels since...like forever. I read across most subgenres of romance. I also write fantasy/paranormal and new adult romance.

Currently reading

Your A Game: winning promo for genre fiction
Damon Suede, Heidi Cullinan

Reading as a Coping Skill

I think the title of this post is more of a goal than an actuality right now. I have maybe six books going. I can't get into any of them. Some of them I stalled out on prior to the election. But since last Tuesday, nothing sounds good. I even went to the library and grabbed some comfort reads and random crazy-sauce new-to-me books. Still, nothing.

 

Instead, I've been busy with a little activism, writerly meetings, and lots and lots of dayjob. I miss reading romance and I know I'll get back to it soon. It's just hard when something that's been such a standby isn't quite doing it for me.

Ravishing the Heiress Mini-Review

Ravishing the Heiress - Sherry Thomas

Ravishing the Heiress is about an arranged marriage between Millie, the only child of a wealthy canned goods merchant and Fitz, a man who comes into an earldom with properties nearly in ruins. Due to this arrangement, Fitz and Millie agree to a marriage in name only for six (then it expands to eight) years. It's set in England in the late Victorian era and told in dual timelines--the first, from their meeting and through the early years of their marriage, and the second, the date Fitz's childhood sweetheart returns, now a widow, and they plan to resume their relationship. Yeah. The hero, after eight years of marriage to the heroine plans to set up his former love as his mistress.

 

This was the first Sherry Thomas story I read. I have mixed feelings about this story, but I definitely am going to read more of her backlist. Her writing is gorgeous and angsty. I loved her voice. There were threads early on that reminded me of 90s-era Judith McNaught stories, where you can feel how much your heart is going to break. (Ah, the swoons!)

 

But, this story, in the end, didn't really work for me. It's a friends-to-lovers and most of the book the hero, Fitz is in love with another woman, Isabelle. He's clueless about Millie, who secretly has loved him from their first meeting. I kept waiting for Fitz to show that he had earned Millie's love and that didn't quite happen. Then I waited for him to have an epic grovel. That also didn't happen. The ending felt rushed and Isabelle stuck around WAY TOO LONG. Still, there were quiet, sweet moments and a few smexy ones between Fitz and Millie that were lovely. I have mixed emotions about Millie as well. While reading it, she seemed to be protecting her heart and too proud to just put her heart out there. However, by the end I really wanted her to just stand up for herself. So while I'm not sure the hero deserved her, Millie gave him so much room to trample over her feelings (and sense of self-respect) too. 

 

Hopefully Thomas' other books will work better for me because there were several things in this story that had me hooked and craving more.

 

Perv Mini-Review

Perv (Filth Book 1) - Dakota Gray

Perv blew up on twitter last weekend and lived up to the hype. I totally loved it. Hero is a cocky guy who is really into a certain part of a woman's anatomy and is apparently quite skilled at bringing women pleasure. The heroine takes him down several notches. I adored her. It was funny, sexy, and had some unexpected moments of heart and angst. Bonus for several scenes highlighting women's friendships.

 

This is the first book in a series about three guys (the hero and his friends). A sexy book that hits the feels too. Can't wait for the next one.

The Sell: Mini-Review

The Sell: The Secrets of Selling Anything to Anyone - Fredrik Eklund, Barbara  Corcoran, Bruce   Littlefield

I bought this audiobook because I love Million Dollar Listing New York and Fredrik is perhaps my favorite agent on the show. He's hilarious, works hard, and has clearly found his calling as a real estate agent. He seems like someone who could sell anything to anyone. He's charming and driven. I wouldn't normally read a book about selling. It's not something I'm good at or interested in, but know that I need to be as a (future) author.

 

The Sell is entertaining, engaging, and heart-felt. Of course Fredrik did the audio for his book, which, I think, is the best way to experience it. (Yes, he high-kicks and squees.) :) My favorite parts were the glimpses into his daily life which consist of long days, multitasking with phones, delegating tasks that don't make him money, and sweet moments where he talks about his husband Derek. 

 

As a fan, I really loved this book. As someone learning about selling techniques, I definitely learned some strategies too. I appreciated his focus on relationships, both in terms of business dealings, and one's personal life.

 

Highly recommend to fans of the show and/or to anyone who wants to learn about selling techniques from a natural.

Arcana Rising Mini-Review

Arcana Rising (The Arcana Chronicles Book 5) - Kresley Cole

I loved this book. It was angsty, showed many Arcana in full use of their powers, and explored their thorny alliances. It ended on another cliffhanger that had me tapping my nook for more pages.

 

I am thoroughly #TeamJack and (no spoilers, promise), what happened to him at the end of Dead of Winter gutted me. I read Arcana Rising dying for information about him.

 

I loved the scenes in the first third where Evie was full-on rage-mode using her powers. Anger fueled her, which we've seen in pieces and certain scenes (which are awesome!), but this was scene after scene as the Red Witch. I was right there with her.

 

We finally get to meet Evie's grandmother, her Tarasova. I'd anticipated her being loving but firm. She is way more intense in her role as Chronicler than I'd thought--all about the game.

 

I also enjoyed Evie's scenes with Sol and even with Zara (Fortune). I love the world-building and the sheer scrappiness of the characters.

 

The theme of fate versus free will continues in this book in the series. Again there are stories from past games that affect the relationships between the players and their ability to trust each other. Evie had dismissed them as "that was then, this is now" in previous books (somewhat), but this time those stories from past games had a strong sense of foreboding, which I liked. There was also a sweet thread of love between the players--beyond the Jack-Evie-Aric triangle. Post Apocalyptic badasses need love too. ;)

 

I can't wait for the next book. It comes out Spring 2017.

Right Through Me Mini-Review

Right Through Me (The Obsidian Files Book 1) - Shannon McKenna

Right Through Me is the first book in Shannon McKenna's new series, The Obsidian Files. I adore her books and this one was no different. I'd categorize it as paranormal romantic suspense, which is where her McCloud series ended up as well.

 

Right Through Me is about Noah, the leader of a group of modified supersoldiers, and Caro, a woman who witnessed a murder and is wanted by the big bad (also a modified supersoldier) for her brain wave ability to open something. Noah and his friends have taken new identities and become billionaires by creating bio-tech inventions, BUT, they also want to get back at the group of psychopaths--the Obsidian group--who experimented on them and then wanted to destroy them.

 

I loved the opening scene where Caro is hired as a belly-dancer to surprise Noah--during a board meeting. It was intense, awkward, and sexy. We got an up-close of how Noah's modifications fritz-out. It's almost like heavy applications of sexytimes would help him...*cough.

 

Caro was plucky and strong and caring. She grudgingly accepts Noah's help but she really wants to clean up her own mess. I loved her independence even though I wanted to tell her to trust Noah much sooner than she did. Noah is a bossy, control freak alpha male, who tends toward watch-and-see to keep the people he cares about safe. I won't spoil this, but, trust that he has to change these views. (Heh.) I appreciated his alpha tendencies, mostly because he worked hard to reign them in with Caro and he doesn't venture into alpha-hole territory.

 

The sexytimes were awesome. Hot--so hot!--with the connection between Noah and Caro turning and tightening with each scene.

 

The paranormal world-building was great--techy but with a focus on the human experience of being changed (and tortured) as well as the emotional cost of such enhancements. Backstory was handled well--little sprinkles and no info-dumps. McKenna's scenes are intense and, and, at times, violent, but not over the top for me.

 

TW: for threatened sexual assault and threats about hurting a child; plenty of fight scenes, some of which are a bit gory.

 

So excited about this new series! *fangirl-flails

 

 

Day Zero Mini-Review

Day Zero (The Arcana Chronicles) (Volume 4) - Kresley Cole

Day Zero is a companion book to Kresley Cole's Young Adult series, The Arcana Chronicles. As a huge fan of the series, I totally loved it. Day Zero refers to the day of The Flash, the apocalyptic event that starts the next "game" between the players/characters. Normally, I'm a fan of reading books out of order (yes, such a rebel!), but for this, it's chock full of spoilers from the first three books. While it did follow some story structure across the chapters--which were each full descriptions (er, mostly) of the 22 Tarot cards--I'm not sure it would mean much to someone who hasn't read at least the first book.

 

I thought Day Zero adds to the series, little details that we wouldn't get otherwise, that more fully round out the supporting characters. I loved learning more about Selena, Finn, and Joules, as well as other cards we haven't met yet. I also appreciate the diversity and global-span of the players backgrounds and identities. 

 

As for the Evie-Jack-Aric love triangle, it lives on in this companion book. With separate chapters from Aric and Jack, we learn more about these guys and, importantly, why they're so crazy in love with Evie. Swoon. I'm firmly #TeamJack, but Aric's chapters are absolutely heart-breaking.

 

Cannot wait for the next book, Arcana Rising, to come out!!

 

 

I hope I fixed it this time

So, last night, I reblogged a review about a book I've been excited to read. It was meant to be a reminder to myself to read it. Then, in scrolling down, I read the post and comments about how reblogging reviews is not done here on BL. I tried to delete my reblog last night and tried again just now. Sigh. We'll see.

 

I apologize.

 

*finally gets the book I've been meaning to read for months.

 

 

Dark Mafia Prince Mini-Review

Dark Mafia Prince: A (Dangerous Royals) - Annika Martin

I really like Annika Martin/Carolyn Crane's books, but this one was just okay for me. The set-up was strong, reunited childhood friends on opposite sides of a Russian mafia war, but it just lost steam.

 

The pacing was fine and I even thought the actions scenes were strong, but the romance--ahem, and the alluded to dirty sex--was few and far between and not particularly dirty.

 

So, if you are the type of reader who is annoyed when characters in a romantic suspense story stop during a chase scene to have sex, this is the book for you. I, however, never mind when that happens. ;)

 

A final note: I liked Mira and Aleksio as a couple. Their character arcs were subtle and made sense, I was just expecting more of a dark romance.

Booklikes has been sold?

Reblogged from Familiar Diversions:

In case you aren't following the Bug Reports discussion, YouKneeK and I have come across some details that may indicate that Booklikes was sold.

 

YouKneeK found that Dawid Piaskowski stopped being Booklikes' "CEO and cofounder" in April 2016. I discovered that Joanna Grzelak-Piaskowska, Booklikes' other cofounder and owner, sold Booklikes in 2016 ("After selling Okazjum.pl to Bauer Media Group in 2015 and BookLikes in 2016, Joanna with her husband are already working on something new."). Considering the info about Dawid, I would guess that the sale happened sometime last month.

 

I've searched Google and several business and company info databases and have been unable to find anything about the new owner(s). Dawid Piaskowski is still listed as the owner of the site's domain name.

 

If anyone finds any other info, please let the rest of us know! At the moment, I'm most concerned about the owner's plans. If they intended to keep the site running, wouldn't they have introduced themselves? And, if they didn't intend to keep it running, what did they buy it for? All I can think that they might want is any data it has generated or collected. Which is a little worrisome.

Goodreads has opted all members into receiving book deals emails from Amazon (plus others)

Reblogged from Debbie's Spurts:

Well, at least for books on your " to read" shelf.  You can opt out and you can select which retailers.  "Opt out" versus "opt-in" -- even for features I really want -- always offends me.  Feel free to reblog.

 

See the announcement thread in a group less than 5% of goodreads members belong to for directions on opting out or customizing:  https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18114746-goodreads-deals-u-s-members?page=1#comment_number_1 

 

I suppose it could be worse (for example if only listing Amazon deals) but cynical me thinks it's a way for Amazon to finally make use of goodreads member emails without technically being considered spam; a side-eyed way for authors to send their Amazon countdown deals and other promotions out to goodreads members who do not subscribe to their mailing lists or follow them without Amazon being accused of illegally harvesting emails not provided for that purpose.  Ethically, I find opt-out as wrong as just doing it but technucally only just doing it is illegal.

 

Okay, it's worse.  Update: Pricing to be included in goodreads emails to members is forthcoming. https://www.goodreads.com/authors-advertisers .  Finally authors can pay to email to goodreads members.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18114746-goodreads-deals-u-s-members?page=1#comment_number_1

Romancing the Beat Mini Review

Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels (How to Write Kissing Books Book 1) - Gwen Hayes

This is a great almost-companion book to Save the Cat. There are lots and lots of books about plotting and narrative structure, but almost none of them cover romance novels. And, yes, while the big structure is the same, the fact that the romance is a major part of the story means it needs to be cooked into the structure. I read one book that talked about how a love story can be a subplot--which it totally can--but that's not how romance novels work. 

 

Anyway, Romancing the Beat is a great, short read. The tone is conversational and irreverent. Each chapter lists three songs from the 80s to highlight the "beat" of the story. This created instant ear worms, but was a great tool to get the tone of each beat.

 

I think RtB would work best for writers who are familiar with story structure. There's a lot of terminology that isn't explained. It worked for me because I was familiar with the concepts and could just zip along. I hope Hayes writes more books on craft for romance writers. This was apparently meant to be read in one sitting, but I would gladly read more. :)

 

 

Star Crossed Mini Review

Star Crossed (The Billionaires) (Volume 4) - Emma Holly

I love Emma Holly's stories, regardless of which subgenre she writes. Star Crossed was fun and funny with some thrills thrown in too. It's almost a second chance at love as well. A.J. Hoyt is an ex-detective turned body guard who is assigned to Luke Channing, a young movie star who gets shot at at his latest movie premiere. It felt like a gender reversal, with A.J. as the tough, reserved protector, and Luke as a more fun-loving dude in distress.

 

It was sexy and sweet and a great read.

I remember liking this one. It's a non-Malory book. I think the heroine was pretty feisty.

Once a Princess by Johanna Lindsey $1.99

Reblogged from Cat's Books: Romance :
Once a Princess - Johanna Lindsey

Once Upon A Time...

In a rustic Missiissippi tavern, a beautiful exiled princess was forced to dance for the pleasure of others--unaware of her regal birthright...and infuriated by a magnificent golden-eyed devil who crossed an ocean to possess her.

From A Far Off Land...

A bold and brazen prince came to America to claim his promised bride. But the spirited vixen spurned his affections while inflaming his royal blood with passion's fire...impelling virile Stefan Barany to take in sensuous and searing conquest the love Tatiana vowed never to yield.

Review: Wicked Sexy Liar

Wicked Sexy Liar - Christina Lauren

This is the fourth book in Christina Lauren's Wild Seasons series. I've read the first three (in order!) and was looking forward to this one. The hero, Luke, is the high school sweetheart and ex-boyfriend of Mia, the heroine from book #1 (Sweet Filthy Boy). I don't remember if Luke had any dialogue in the first book, or if his scenes with Mia were mostly told in flashback. Either way, I remember him as a bit of a let-down.

 

The heroine of this story is London who is roommates with Lola (heroine from book #3) and tangentially friends with Mia. Whew. Clear as mud? Essentially, we have a heroine who faces breaking girl code to be with the hero. That conflict was interesting.

 

The other big(ger) point of conflict between Luke and London was that Luke is a player, I think London refers to him as a manwhore. All she wants from him when they first meet--and she has no idea he's Mia's ex--is a one night stand. But, for some reason, Luke wants more. London also had an ex who cheated on her, so she has trust issues with guys.

 

What worked for me: I liked Luke and London as a couple. My favorite scenes were when it was just the two of them. I also liked that London respected Mia enough to call her and tell her about Luke. It was so assertive. (Go, London!) I also liked Luke, mostly. He was a well-developed character. He had to work to woo London. For so much of the book, he wants more and she absolutely doesn't. That tension was strong. The sex scenes were trademark Christina Lauren--strong, slightly kinky, and a great metaphor for where the couple is in their relationship.

 

There's also a long explanation for how to surf. As a midwesterner trapped in the middle of a continent, I appreciated this level of detail. At least I can imagine surfing in a more accurate way. ;)

 

What didn't work for me: there's a lot of navel-gazing. The level of angst didn't match up with the amount of navel-gazing. Harlow's (heroine from book #2) control over whether London felt like she could date Luke wasn't my favorite, although it was consistent with her overbearing character. And, hey, I like Harlow, but London gave her way too much power.

 

Also, there's sort-of a misunderstanding about Luke's phone. (***Mild spoiler alert***) One conversation about the phone could have helped so much. But, no.

 

And, I'm side-eyeing the fact that Mia, Harlow, Lola, and Luke were all besties since elementary school. I mean, I guess? But not only were they besties with him, he was portrayed as The Perfect Boyfriend. This was unnecessary and over the top. I'm all in for the reformed rake trope. Luke didn't need to be that perfect. (For example, he would perform weekly errands in high school for his group of female friends. Sweet, but too much.)

 

One more thing: while the title works for the continuity of the series, I still can't figure out why it was given to this book. I have no idea who the wicked sexy liar is, not that it matters.

 

This New Adult series has an escapist quality to it, which is nice. There's sun, sand, waves (London is a surfer), and warm southern California days and nights. I wanted a little bit more out of the twists and turns of Luke and  London getting to their HEA, but it was sweet (and cute!) when they worked it all out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Never Sweeter

Never Sweeter: A Dark Obsession Novel - Charlotte Stein

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

Never Sweeter is the second book in Charlotte Stein's Dark Obsession series. I haven't read the first yet, but I have read several of her other novels and novellas. I adore her voice. She writes in an almost stream-of-consciousness, neurotic way. But it works for me. It so works. You can get inside a character's head, usually the heroine, and feel her awkwardness and blossoming joy.

 

I'm not sure I would have read this book if I didn't already really like Stein's other stories and trust her as an author. The premise is that Letty, a college student, runs into her high school bully, Tate, when he takes a class with her. Yeah. The hero used to bully the heroine.

 

While enemies-to-lovers is one of my favorite tropes (and this has a little friends-to-lovers too), this felt a bit different. I had to grit my teeth at first. But, again, because I trust the author, I kept going. I'm glad I did.

 

Years after the bullying stopped, but not the effects certainly, Letty winds up in the same class with Tate, titled Sex in Film, and he now wants to talk with her. They even get paired in a semester-long assignment.

 

There is so much tension in each scene as Letty runs from Tate, finds that he helps her, and begins to explore a friendship, of sorts, with him. Tate is apologetic and wants to make amends and show her that he's a different person and she didn't deserve any of how he (and another guy at school) treated her.

 

There is also a bubbling, brewing sexual tension between them. It is heartbreaking to see Letty struggle to trust and believe that she is attractive and that the guy who had hurt her would ever be kind to her. While it's told in third person, we don't get Tate's POV, so we never get to see what he really thinks of Letty. We're left with how he treats her.

 

I'm trying very hard not to be spoilery because reasons, I suppose. I will say that Tate's arc is impressive and the romance worked for me. The dude gave some very good grovel. He may not be redeemable for every reader, but for me, he was.

 

The smexy scenes were crazy hot. Letty gains in confidence and it is lovely to see. It seems to be both due to Tate but also a growing sense of herself as strong. She also has a supportive friend Lydia who lives across the hall from her. (Yay, female friendships in romance!!) I loved how Letty worked at letting herself trust Lydia too. She needed an ally and Lydia was a great one.

 

So, potential trigger warning for bullying. We get one instance of seeing it in the prologue, but otherwise Letty brings up certain incidents. I believe that Stein wrote a compelling story that understands the depth of the harm that bullying can do.

 

It was a helluva place to start for a romance. I found myself gripping my Nook, making all kinds of faces as to whether and how it would all work out. It's a well-written romance, so it does. But there's a lot of angst, both for the characters and as a reader.

 

I highly recommend this story and any of Stein's backlist. We are friendly on twitter but that did not influence my review.