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Winners!

LSUReader and bn100

wins a digital copy of Reckoning by Winter Austin

*

Eva M

wins a digital copy of Siege of the Heart by Elise Cyr

*

Congrats! To claim your prize, please email lillie80 @ gmail.com (without the spaces). You have 48 hours to email before a new name is chosen.

Whenever the subject of my book comes up, whether I’m with friends, family members, or someone I’ve just met, I invariably get asked why I chose to set my debut novel Siege of the Heart in medieval times. There’s an easy answer: the story required it. But that rarely satisfies since what the person is really asking is what is the appeal of medievals.

 

Let’s face it. Medievals often get a bad rap. Set during the Middle Ages (affectionately called the Dark Ages due to the cultural and economic decline throughout Europe), they usually feature members of nobility (while technically classist, everyone else was too busy toiling to have adventures) and your traditional alpha-male hero (which can be problematic for modern readers given the gender equality issues of the time). To top it off, let’s just say some of the historically accurate details of the time are less than…palatable. (A good rundown is here.)

 

And yet… I and many other readers love them. Why is that?

 

Escapism plays a big role, for me at least. There was a time when I wanted my very own knight in shining armor to whisk me away on a grand quest. Clearly, I consumed too many fables and fairy tales growing up. But these fantasies are linked to history, a brutal past to which the remains of any castle will attest. I’ve found medieval times come the closest to evoking the world of fairy tales. The historical details not only provide a link to that storied past, but also reinforce the distance between that time and now. This results in a safe space to escape to again and again.

 

Another reason I enjoy medievals is how high the personal stakes can be for lovers of the time period. The concept of marriage in medieval times was essentially a business transaction. Love was not an emotion regular people could afford to have when so much of their day was focused on survival. So any love match of the period was really something special, since too often they went against the wishes of their families and their liege lords when they chose love over duty.

 

Still not convinced? Consider this: Knights were the soldiers of the day. Training started early for boys, creating lethal men (so long as they lived to see adulthood). In addition to knowing how to wield a sword, they were usually trained in another weapon (ax, bow, spear), taught how to control a warhorse, and had to wear thirty to fifty pounds of chain mail. Such a regimen would result in a fine physical specimen, don’t you think?

 

Thanks again to RR@H for hosting me!

 

 

About Siege of the Heart:

siegeoftheheart_Final

He fought for king and country, but that battle was nothing compared to the one he’ll wage for a woman’s heart.

Still reeling from the news of her father’s death during the Norman Conquest, Isabel Dumont is unprepared when trouble arrives at the castle gates. Alexandre d’Évreux, a Norman knight with close ties to England’s new king, has arrived to secure the land and the loyalties of the Dumont family. Desperate to protect her people, Isabel strives to keep the confounding knight at arm’s length and hide the truth about her father’s death.

For Alexandre, the spoils of war come with more than just a generous gift of land. They come with Isabel Dumont. Vowing to marry only for love, Alexandre finds himself in a difficult situation as a conqueror granted dominion over the land and its people. Isabel is the one person capable of helping him win the regard of those living in the war-torn country…if he chooses to accept her.

Just when Alexandre finds a spark of hope that he and Isabel have a chance at love, she vanishes. His quest to find her plunges him deeper into the conquest’s fallout. Was she taken? Or did she leave?

CONTENT WARNING: Entering into this novel may cause extreme affection toward knights of old, admiration for strong-willed women, and the overwhelming belief that love really can conquer all.

 

About Elise Cyr:

 

I’ve always loved adventure, romance, and happy endings. I write primarily in the medieval period. Because there’s still so much we don’t know about that time in history, the writer’s imagination is essential for fleshing out the research and making it come to life on the page. Plus swords and castles are just plain fun.

 

I live in New Mexico with my husband and the sweetest dog ever. When I’m not writing, I hike, bike, cook, and (of course) read. Siege of the Heart is my debut medieval romance. You can follow me on Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, or check out my blog.

 

Ready to go medieval? One random commenter will win an ebook of Siege of the Heart (epub or mobi).

 

A Review of Gambling with the Crown by Lynn Raye Harris

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Cover and Blurb:

GWC1GWC2

UK Cover (left) and US Cover (right)

The crown of Kyr holds no appeal for pleasure-seeking sheikh Kadir al-Hassan—his memories of the kingdom are as dark as a desert’s night. But neither will he shirk his duty…. Instead, Kadir returns home with a bride so unsuitable, no one will want him to be king!

Long-suffering assistant Emily Bryant is the most important person in Kadir’s high-octane life, and the most invisible—until she’s promoted to royal bride! Sealing their marriage bargain with a scorching kiss leaves Kadir craving more….

Now Kadir must decide what’s really at stake in his royal game—his desert duty, or Emily!

Review:

Gambling with the Crown, the first in the “Heirs to the Throne of Kyr” series, was a quick read, and parts of it had me smiling while other parts of the novel had me shaking my fist in frustration. (But that was mostly Kadir’s fault.)

Kadir is a playboy sheik, who is used to getting what he wants, but I like that he stands up for Emily in the start of the novel. I also like that he’s smart enough not to be fooled by his ex for long. However, I wanted Kadir to me more alpha – yes, I’m spoiled – but he was a little too indecisive for my taste. I really wanted him to get on with it and “claim” Emily already – and no, I’m using that as a euphemism for my pervertedness.

On the other hand, I liked Emily. She was smart, goal-oriented and can tell Kadir off when he’s being too big of an ass, which can be often. And I like that Emily is able to keep her cool when facing some of Kadir’s gazillion exes.

But, undoubtedly, my favourite part of this novel was Rashid. He pretty much stole the show the second he came on scene, or rather page. He gave me more of an alpha-vibe than Kadir and although our hero had a tortured past, Rashid’s life and past seem more complicated and therefore more fascinating:

“To talk to Rashid was to think you were talking to an iceberg. It was only when you saw him that you realized he blazed like the desert.”

I did have one other quibble with the book, there is no “I love you” from the heroine. Okay, I know it’s there, but sometimes it’s nice to hear the words…so, Emily, out with it already. Harris, of course, deliberately stops Emily from saying the words and its part of the character development. But as for myself, I’m really hoping that Emily and Kadir make a cameo is Rashid’s novel, if only so I can hear her say it. (I am very single-minded about these things it seems.)

Overall, despite my quibbles because they are in fact personal in nature and have nothing to do with the author’s ability to write, I’m going to give this novel a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Read and enjoy,

Rika Ashton

RBR

 

Winter Austin is back with the fourth and final book in her chilling romantic suspense series, Degrees of Darkness. Reckoning is now available everywhere e-books are sold.

 

ReckoningThe honeymoon is over for Cody and Remy LeBeau. And Cody’s darkest secret haunts her, threatening to destroy their marriage.

The brutal murder of a former judge sets in motion a domino effect of killings that all point back to Cody and her father. She suspects her father is hiding something sinister from her and Remy. But the closer she tries to get to her husband, the more she feels Remy drifting away from her, taken by his job and his stubborn instance that she’s not trusting him enough. Then her ex-boyfriend sends her a warning note, and with her world spinning out of control, Cody turns to the only man she does trust to help her and protect Remy. Her actions produce a result she’s not prepared to handle.

Remy watches as his once happy marriage is pulled apart brick by brick. With threats closing in all sides, he’s forced to resort to his cold, secretive style that has kept him alive. If he’s to have any chance at succeeding, he must rely on the assistance of the last person on earth he wants to reach out to, even if the result continues to push Cody away.

Death will have a reckoning, and for Cody and Remy it could mean the end of everything they’ve loved.

Sensuality Level: Behind Closed Doors

 

READ AN EXCERPT:

How much time was enough? Geesh, if Remy blew her off again, there might be some good, old-fashioned, Texas ass-whooping tonight.

“You’re serious?” Marion Wilks’s question brought Cody out of her mental rant. Marion was Steve’s wife and co-owner of Ima Monster.

“I’m so serious. You should see them eat. It’s like a freaking delicacy.” Breaking open the miniature-looking lobster, Cody pinched the softened shell over the tail until it split open and she removed the meat with her teeth.

“And you’re married to one,” Marion said, then continued nibbling on her half-eaten corncob.

“And he still grosses me out when he does it, too.”

JC wiggled his way between Cody and the guy next to her and plucked a crawdad— or mudbug, as Remy was so fond of calling them— off the mound in front of her and the women. “Who grosses you out doing what?” he asked and cracked open the crawdad.

Well, if she was going to get stood-up, again, she could have some fun. Cody grinned at the older woman and eyed JC wickedly. He hadn’t been able to stick around Houma after her wedding long enough to know the Cajuns’ little secret when eating their crawdads. And from the looks of the crowd gathered around the tables, not many in the cutting horse world knew about it, or cared to do it, either. She watched JC chew the meaty part from the tail.

“You’ve got that evil gleam in your eyes.” He waved the empty tail at her. “What’s that all about?”

Behind her, Marion snickered.

“Oh, I was just tellin’ Marion how Remy and his family usually eat one of these things.”

JC bit into another crawdad, waiting. Oh man, Cody felt particularly evil. She ran her tongue over her teeth and grinned.

“They suck the heads.”

JC stopped chewing, a greenish-whitish tinge appeared on his rugged face, bleaching out his suntan. “Say what?”

“Yeah, they crack ’em open, suck the innards out and then eat the meat. Remy says all the good stuff is in the heads.”

“I think I’m gonna be sick.” JC dropped the shell and staggered away.

Marion burst out laughing. Cody faced the table and plucked a corncob out of the mound, her cheeks aching from the grin.

“How is it that a boy who grew up eating prairie oysters is grossed out about sucking the heads on these things?” Marion asked, flopping a whole crawdad around.

“Don’t ask me.”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

WinterWinter Austin was once asked by her husband if he could meet some of the people who took residence in her head. She warned they weren’t all characters he wanted to meet, as killers walked among them. Needless to say, that conversation ended abruptly.

 

A lifelong Mid-West gal, Winter swears she should have been born in the South, Texas or Louisiana preferably. But then she’d miss the snowy winters.

 

Dividing her day between her four children and their various activities, a growing pet population, and her Beta-with-Alpha-tendencies Hero, Winter manages to find time to write chilling thrillers between loads of laundry.

 

Don’t worry. You won’t find any of her mouthwatering culinary dishes poisoned. Unless you’re one of her fictional creations.

 

E-BOOK GIVEAWAY:

For the chance to win a digital copy (mobi or epub format) of Reckoning by Winter Austin, just leave a comment below. Two winners will be drawn. Good luck!
Where to find Winter:

 

Twitter: @WinterAustin_
www.winteraustin.com
www.facebook.com/w.austin.degressofdarkness

http://www.pinterest.com/winteraustin/

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review…and I’m going to try really, really hard to keep this post spoiler free.

Cover and Blurb:

SoWAssassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch—if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life.

For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…

Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to suffocate her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she’ll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption. But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness…

Review:

SHIELD OF WINTER + ME = ECSTATIC HAPPY DANCE

I cannot put into words how much I loved Nalini Singh’s Shield of Winter. I wasn’t a big Vasic fan going into the novel. He seemed like a classic tortured hero with a “dark past” – I much prefer the “I own my darkness” vibe that Kaleb gave off or “alpha” vibe of Lucas. But as I started reading this novel, I realized I might have – okay, definitely – stereotyped Vasic based on his appearances in previous novels. There are so many new facets we learn about Vasic in this novel that, by the end of it, Ms. Singh has created a character that is complex and hard to categorize.

“There was a man standing on the path between the snow-kissed trees. No, not a man. A soldier. Over six feet tall with broad shoulders, his posture was unyielding, his stillness absolute, his eyes a chill gray, and his hair black.”

Vasic isn’t your classic alpha, but he does have some similarities to Lucas and Hawke from Slave to Sensation and Kiss of Snow, respectively. However, while Lucas and Hawke live for their packs, Vasic is more of a lone wolf.

But as the case with most lone wolves, he eventually has to learn to work with someone. In this case, that someone is Ivy Jane – E-Psy (empathic) and heroine of our novel. Vasic is sent to keep Ivy safe, and through at first he’s reluctant, he slowly learns to interact with her. Ivy is a very warm and sweet character – personally, I found it hard to dislike her – so it didn’t really surprise me when Vasic learned to trust her and open up.

But undeniably, the best part of this novel had to be Judd (Caressed by Ice) acting as sex-ed councillor/advisor.

Overall, this was one of my favourite books of the year so far! And if my review has made you curious enough to check it out, or if you were already going to get it despite my rambling, Shield of Winter releases on June 3, 2014.

Enjoy,

Rika Ashton

RBR

I’m so happy today to share the cover and official blurb of One Lucky Night with you!

One night can change everything…

The crew at Boston’s Brazen Head Pub hasn’t been very lucky in love. Can a mysterious visitor inspire them to look past old hurts and misconceptions and give romance a chance? One Lucky Night is a collection of five sexy interwoven novelettes by Aria Kane, Grace Teague, Ana Blaze, Constance Phillips, and Melinda Dozier.

Lucky Break by Aria Kane

Four years ago, chef Derek Chase walked out of Andrea Rivera’s life after a tragedy neither of them were prepared to deal with. When she’s called to the Brazen Head to repair a dishwasher, old sparks ignite buried feelings.

Lucky Star by Grace Teague

When her life is threatened by a mugger, Charlotte Price realizes she’s in love with her best friend, Tommy Leung. The Brazen Head seems like the perfect neutral place to confess her feelings, but nothing goes according to plan.

A New Tune by Ana Blaze

When it comes to dating, Holly Hall has one unbreakable rule: no musicians. Not even gorgeous ones. Especially not gorgeous ones. Dating them only leads to heartbreak. So why did she let singer-songwriter Cian O’Neill kiss her? And why is she thinking about doing it again?

Lexi’s Chance by Constance Phillips

As a bartender, Sean Whalen meets all kinds of women every night, but none turn his head the way that Lexi has. She’s been playing cat and mouse with him for weeks. Tonight, Sean’s determined to get Lexi to quit teasing and take a real chance on him.

Drink or Dare by Melinda Dozier

A bachelorette party Drink or Dare game pairs paramedic students, Rachel Robertson and Killian Whelan, in a flirting match. Soon, the dares threaten to turn their academic rivalry into something much more.
One Lucky Night will be available in print and at all major ebook retailers on May 7th. For now, you can add it to Goodreads!
About the Authors

Aria Kane is a recovering mechanical engineer and romance writer. As a military brat, she grew up all over the country, but now lives in sunny Florida with a 60 lb mutt who thinks he’s a chihuahua.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads

Grace Teague lives in Pittsburgh with her spouse, children and a cat named Mr. Sushi.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Ana Blaze lives near Washington DC with her charming husband and three cats who firmly believe they are royalty. Ana is a member of Romance Writers of America.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | Tumblr

Constance Phillips lives in Ohio with her husband, two
ready-to-leave-the-nest children, and four canine kids. Her perfect
fantasy vacation would involve hunting Dracula across Europe with her
daughter, who also digs that kind of stuff.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | Tumblr

Melinda Dozier teaches English to middle schoolers by day and writes at night. She lives in Guatemala, Central America with her college sweetheart and three sons.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads
Giveaway

The authors are giving away four print copies of One Lucky Night before you can buy it!

Enter here.

Winners!

TrishJ, Briana Cole, and AmandaS

wins a digital copy  Justice For Abby by Cate Beauman

*

Quilt Lady

wins Betting the Rainbow by Jodi Thomas

*

Tabitha Jones

wins a $15 gift card to Books-A-Million from Amber Leigh

*

Congrats! To claim your prize, please email mad @ romancereaderatheart.com (without the spaces). You have 48 hours to email before a new name is chosen.

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