Monday, September 17, 2007

Sarah McCarty ARC Contest

As found here.

The correct email address is:
SarahMcCartyContests @ (no spaces)
was listed as Contest. Sorry all.

Hell's Eight

Bloggers are you ready?

(readers can win an arc by entering my .net site contest starting 10/1/07)

My first NY Western Historical series is releasing from SPICE in just over one month. It's a super-hot, fast-paced romance with a strong heroine, a hero to die for, and a happily ever after that will touch your heart. Like my Promise series, Hell's Eight probably is not what a reader thinks of when they think Western Historical, but each of these stories is a slice of life rich with emotion, spiced with passion, and filled with moments I hope will make your heart twist. The men of Hell's Eight are unpredictable and fascinating. They're definitely a law unto themselves, as wild as the West in which they live. Determined, and single-minded, they've planned for every contingency that could complicate their goals except for the one they never saw coming: the extraordinary women that will capture their hearts.

Read an excerpt

Think you're ready?

Okay, here it is, your chance to win one of the six ARCs of Caine's Reckoning, first book in the Hell's Eight series.

The goal of this contest is to spread the word far and wide of the upcoming release of Caine's Reckoning.

To enter:
  • * Copy and paste this post on your website, blog, MySpace, or wherever you wish, including a link to the excerpt.
  • * Once you've completed #1, email SarahMcCartyContests @ (no spaces) with the link to your site and you are entered. It's as simple as that.
  • * If you are the lucky winner of an ARC, simply be ready to read the book and review it during late October. You can review it on your blog, MySpace, online websites like Amazon, etc.
That's it.

Blog. Email. Read. Wait till the last couple of weeks of October. Review.

To enter, EMAIL me at SarahMcCartyContests @ (without the spaces), with:
  • * Caine's Reckoning ARC in the subject line.
  • * The link to your post about the ARC contest.
  • * Your name and address.
  • * Where you intend to review the book.
Contest (open to US and Canadian residents) closes September 30th, 12 midnight, EST US.

Good luck!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Last Breath by Mariah Stewart

Last Breath by Mariah StewartLast Breath by Mariah Stewart

Well... I'm not sure where to start on this one. Great story, as usual. This book is Connor's story. All the "Dead and the "Last" books that have dealt with the Shields family have created this mystique around Connor. He is the brother that was supposed to be out on that dock when Dylan was killed (this ended the Dead books, and was the story behind AnneMarie McCall's book - Dylan was her fiance). He is the brother supposedly wracked with guilt. All the books from the Dead books till now have been leading up to this one.

I found myself disappointed. Not in the story - that was, as usual, well-written, exciting, interesting. And on a subject totally out of the ordinary. But what disappointed me was that after all this buildup, Connor lacked the emotional depth that I expected. I was expecting (hoping?) for hidden dimensions to Connor's psyche. Instead what I got was an incredibly honorable man, full of love and warmth. The honorable part, I could deal with. The love and warmth part, I found didn't jive with the glimpses I've seen of Connor in other books. Don't get me wrong - he was a great guy. One any woman would love to have. But he just wasn't the Connor that I was wanting, needing, expecting after 6 or 7 books. Stewart hinted that there was more there; Connor's unwillingness to really discuss himself was key to that. But by just accepting this, Daria made it impossible for me to accept a full and complete relationship between the two of them.

And interestingly, Connor's book was the most relationship-driven book of them all. Stewart's books are usually heavy on the storyline and the suspense, light on the romance. While this was fairly light on the romance, Stewart did do an awful lot of relationship-building between Connor and Daria.

The story itself totally absorbed me; it was a truly fascinating look at ancient cultures and archaeology. And I didn't realize until the one conversation that Connor and Daria had about Dylan that I was missing something. I was missing the hard edge to Connor that I'd seen in all the other books about the Shields family. It was that lack of continuity of character that threw me - Stewart is usually such a master at this. You would have to be when writing about a family that arcs across many books such as the Shields family, even though each book focuses on a new family member.

Stewart did leave a door open (I hope) for more follow up to Connor and Daria with a potential story for Daria's brother, Jack. I truly hope that we get more than just a glimpse into Connor's psyche there, because I'm left feeling vaguely unfulfilled - like I had a mini-orgasm, but was so close to the peak of the big one that I feel cheated.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Caressed By Ice by Nalini Singh

Wow. Just Wow.

Caressed By Ice delivers.

Now three books into the series, Singh’s Psy/Changling world is familiar, comfortable—a recognizable character from which I expect more. I wonder at its fate and want to know more of its secrets. This world is not a simple construct built to support a handful of romantic pairings. It has a pulse of its own. And a future.

Singh’s Psy-Changling romance is another that finds its uniqueness in character. Even though traits inherent to each race factor heavily, Singh delves deeper into individual character for inspiration. Readers tumble head first with Judd and Brenna, not the Psy and Wolf. Their feelings for one another stem from a bond neither can avoid nor explain and Singh delivers this age-old “meant for each other” theme in such a way that readers come to the edge of their seat every time this destiny is threatened. I don’t think I relaxed once until I started seeing others refer to Judd as “her Psy” and Brenna as “his wolf.” Really, the emotion riding beneath each scene was palpable.

Caressed By Ice also qualified as a “can’t put down” read. When the action began to unfold, food and sleep went the wayside. Singh’s pace, underscored by prose that is clean and concise, held me firmly in place until I turned the last page.

Moving beyond world building, romance and pace, Caressed By Ice worked for me in a couple of other ways. First, there is Judd. Unerring calm, quiet intelligence, infinite patience, intrinsic self-control—packaged to present both danger and haven for the heroine. This is by far my favorite setup, my ideal alpha. I’d easily put Judd—with his whisper-soft lethality—in the company of Roberts’ Roarke, Low’s Jed O’Neil and Janzen’s Superman.

Singh brings this tantalizing duality to life through Judd’s rigid posture, cool expression and soft-spoken commands. Everything about him conveys power. The glimmer of something else—something akin to a trigger—comes in the form of a heroine brassy enough to provoke his ire, yet vulnerable enough to elicit feelings of protectiveness. Not a new scenario necessarily, but an especially interesting one given that Judd should experience neither anger nor possessiveness. A twist afforded by Singh’s world and one she turns on its head later, following one of Judd’s flameouts.

And there is the second item, the unexpected. I wait for it in Singh’s books. It’s always there in the way hero and heroine ultimately come together. In this one, Judd’s unforeseen ability following his flameout was the perfect respite from the mounting tension.

Singh’s talent wows, no question. She creates a complex world crisscrossed by strict hierarchies, archrivals and untold subversives—then sparks romance that defies all of it. Caressed By Ice—very aptly titled, BTW—is another must read from Singh.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Letting Go by Sarah McCarty

I never cease to be amazed by McCarty’s ability to deliver a convincing depth of character in the space of moments. With familiar and telling gestures. Tension—spoken and unspoken—that the reader can all but hear and feel. A physical demeanor clearly visible in the mind’s eye. All in words and turns of phrase that we have not seen before.

No small feat given the brevity of this story, and its erotic content. It is what sets McCarty apart. Period. Her stories engage. Her characters linger. And the intimacy is always inextricably tied to trust.

Constructed on a solid premise, Letting Go easily transports readers to the emotional and sexual fantasy portion of the program. You will silently encourage Becky to submit, to give herself over to Marc. You will be right there, listening to the change jingling in Marc’s pockets, sensing his movement through shadow and light, wondering what’s next—wholly focused on the sensory. Transported.

The only downside to an author capable of pulling you fully into the story? The story’s end. In this case, it came too soon. It’s a Spice Brief. Tightly written, emotionally laden and tension filled. But…too brief. A catch-22. On the one hand, as a means to introduce first-time authors or grow reader base for an established author, the Spice Briefs offer just the right glimpse, an invitation to browse more than just the window display. On the other hand, what happens when the author can’t be simply glimpsed or browsed? When her audition turns the show on its head? A well-timed lasting impression, as intended? Or a disgruntled reader scrolling madly for more? Hopefully both. Cuz Caine’s Reckoning is just around the corner.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Force of Nature by Suzanne Brockmann

Yes, she lives! I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I finally got my turn for Force of Nature at the library. Woot! Love me some Suz. Can I just say, am I alone in this? I SOOO miss Team 16. In their Team 16 SEAL context on their Team 16 missions. There. I said it. Not that I don't like the Troubleshooters and the FBI stories, and I know that she has to keep writing fresh stories, but still...

Anyway, here's what I liked. Loved Ric. OK, I hated that he was going to do the porn star/psycho client right there in the office, when all he really wanted was to do Annie, but, aside from that one faux pas, I really liked him. He's a little more beta than her usual heroes, I think, but still with all the protective instincts. As with all Brockmann heroes, we really get to see inside his thoughts and feelings. I always enjoy that about her writing. (Yes, he cries, but not for the reasons you might think).

I loved Annie. She's kickass, yet still vulnerable. Sweet, but still strong. And I love that she didn't let Ric get away with anything he shouldn't have. I loved Ric and Annie's love story. It was laced with loads of humor, and rich with friends to lovers history. Sweet, sassy, and sexy.

Now the tough part. Jules. Because Jules gets his HEA in this book. A rough and rocky road to it. And, although it was well written, it was also a bit more unbelievable in a way. Robin's character just didn't do it for me for some reason. And Jules' vulnerability, while in other books has come off as loveable, here came off as a bit inappropriate. He was the team leader here, and just completely seemed to fall apart for much of the book. It was a shame, because their love story should have been all-encompassing; instead I felt a bit cheated for much of the story.

As for the underlying terror/crime plot - I was disappointed. It didn't seem to live up to Brockmann's usual standards. Junior was caracaturish (I know he was supposed to be that way, but it was still distracting), and it seemed thrown together as a device simply to carry the two romances. In other Brockmann books, the terror/crime plot line has always had a life of its own, and I really missed that here.

All in all, I did really enjoy it. It was great to read another Brockmann book. I've missed them. I do hope, though, that she gets back to writing what she does best - SEAL books in war zones.
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