Author Interview: Jessica Hawkins and Come Undone Giveaway!

Hey everyone, I’m feeling very lucky today as I get to ask one of my favourite breakout authors of 2013 a few questions! Jessica Hawkins is with me to talk about her new bookCome Alive Cover Come Alive, which is Book #2 in the Cityscape Series.

Onni: Jessica welcome!

JHawk: Thanks for having me.

Onni: So I’m just going to jump right in – I read your bio at the end of Come Undone, and you’ve pretty much given up your day job to work on writing full-time. What pushed you to do this? Weren’t you scared?

JHawk: Well, I have this ’30 under 30′ list that I started in college, but it only has two things on it: write a book and swim with sharks. After school, I moved to Costa Rica for almost two years, where I picked up surfing. Well – picked up isn’t right – more like fought and flailed and struggled until I finally got the hang of it. When it was time for me to move from the white-water to the line-up, I was scared out of mind. And that was why I knew I had to do it.

Onni: And writing a book?

JHawk: This was sort of the same thing. Quitting my job was, and still is, scary. Writing this book was scary. Putting it out into the world… well, it was worse than making the leap to the line-up. But every time I hopped on my board and rode a wave, it was worth every minute. And if there are people who connect with my story, who really get it, then it’s worth it too. I have one year left to swim with sharks. (I sincerely hope I never unknowingly surfed with sharks!)

Onni: I re-read Come Undone to refresh my memory for this interview and I didn’t think it would be possible to like it more, but I did! Olivia is a complex character, but a sympathetic one. Can you give any insights into the journey she’ll face in the next book(s)?

JHawk: Thank you, what a compliment! Olivia is definitely complex, and she becomes even more so as the story continues. Her journey won’t be easy… trust me, I wanted to baby her, but I couldn’t. Come Alive is dark and emotional. Olivia’s already come undone, but before she can come out the other side, she has to come apart – and some difficult questions will be raised.

Onni: Olivia has a ‘difficult’ (to put it mildly) relationship with her mother that was touched on in Come Undone – will we meet her in the Come Alive?

JHawk: Yes and no. Neither of her parents actually appears in the second book, but the reader will learn more about Olivia’s relationship with her mom and where she comes from. But as we know, Olivia isn’t one to give it up easily – so their issues will be covered further in the third book.

Onni: What prompted you to write a story about deception, passion and love? Adultery is a topic that authors these days generally steer clear of, yet some of the best love stories (e.g. The English Patient and the End of the Affair) have included forbidden, star-crossed lovers. How did you go about making them sympathetic and not simply the ‘bad guys’ doing bad things?

JHawk: That’s a great question. I’ve done research and I know adultery is a tough topic. I think it scares people, so I find it utterly fascinating. Cheating is one of the worst crimes a person can commit, so I had to know – why do it? What’s the rationale? In love, nothing is black and white. Adulterers are branded with a scarlet “A”, but things aren’t always what they seem. I wanted to show another side to it. I wanted to tell a real story, not something with sugar on top.

Which leads me to the next part of your question – it was very tempting to make things easier on myself by having Bill & Olivia be engaged or dating rather than married, or by turning Bill into an unsympathetic jerk. That would’ve been the easy way out, though. I continually refer back to a Tolstoy quote that goes something like, “The best stories don’t come from ‘good vs. bad,’ but from ‘good vs. good.’”

Onni: So what does romance mean to you?

JHawk: I’ve always thought one of the most romantic things is knowing that out of everyone, somebody chose you. To them, you’re not just anyone. The first scene of the book, Olivia and David have this moment where, in a crowded room, they are inexplicably drawn to each other. But Olivia is jarred back to reality by her husband. So what happens when there’s someone else in the picture? That’s where things get complicated. Do you honor this commitment no matter what? And if not, how can you know if what you feel is only passion or something more? This concept will take a front seat in Come Alive. I hope readers will ask themselves what they’d do in Olivia’s position. There are no right or wrong answers, but I hope it gets people thinking.

Onni: How are you hoping to develop both Olivia and David’s characters in the coming books?

JHawk: I want to put Olivia through the ringer. Then I want the reader to transform with her. It’s important to me that every character develops naturally and realistically. Each will be faced with hardship, and so we’ll get to see their true selves emerge in the process. They’ll break rules, do immoral things. Does that make them bad people?

Bill (Olivia’s husband) becomes more of a person in the second book. He has to, in order for the reader to understand what’s happening in Olivia’s mind. And David has his own past to face. He can’t get away so easily with the reputation he has. What does he actually want from Olivia? He’s got to go through the ringer a bit too.

Onni: Moving on to you now – who are your favourite authors and why?

JHawk: I like authors that aren’t afraid to push boundaries, to “go there.” I tend to jump around, so I don’t necessarily have favorites, but I do have favorite books. Gone with the Wind: I didn’t know the story and hadn’t seen the movie when I read it a couple years ago, so I was going crazy up until the last sentence. I consumed that book. I also love Anna Karenina. It wasn’t necessarily my inspiration for this story, but I really connected with that book and so there are some similar themes between them.

Onni: And lastly: any plans beyond the Cityscape Series you’d like to share?

JHawk: I have been so totally immersed in Cityscape that no, not really. I do keep a file of ideas when they come up, so I definitely have some thoughts, but nothing concrete. One book I have in my mind would more likely veer toward contemporary fiction, rather than romance and even more likely, it would deal with a very controversial topic – even more so than adultery.

Onni: Well, I can’t wait for Come Alive and anything else you turn your hand to. Thank you so much for chatting to me today – it’s been great!

Come Alive will release on May 30th, but you can win a copy of Come Undone here.

Long Simmering Spring by Elisabeth Barrett

LSSBook: Long Simmering Spring

Author: Elisabeth Barrett

Series: Star Harbor #3

Review by: Onnica 

Basic Story: Julie Kensington is finally realising her dream as a small-town doctor. She’s returned to her hometown of Star Harbor and is killing herself by working all hours in order to meet the demands of her new practice. She has no time for a social life or being part of the community, but she loves her work. The day her work puts her in the path of Cole Grayson, (the town’s Sheriff and former-hellraiser) she knows instinctively that her work ethic and her plans for the future do not include him. Having known him in High School, she isn’t convinced that he’s changed all that much and is determined not to be derailed by his smouldering good looks and intimidating presence.

Since hearing that Julie Kensington had returned to sleepy Star Harbor, Cole has been keen to get closer to her. Knowing that she still thinks of him as the surly, arrogant boy from High school, it becomes important to him to show her the real him – even the damaged, dark parts of him, which are a lasting reminder of his harrowing time in Afghanistan.

After agreeing to a date with the intense Cole, Julie is surprised by what she finds. Gone is the trouble-making rebel and instead, there’s a responsible and devastatingly handsome man in front of her. Perhaps she can stand to have a little fun – without losing her heart. Cole is happy to oblige, but before long, he isn’t content for their relationship to remain just a fling. He wants the real deal and the only way to convince Julie of that is to let her in on all of his secrets. Will she be able to accept what she finds there?

Why you should read this: Ok, so it’s no secret that I’m loving this series. Sleepy Star Harbor makes me want to emigrate! The Grayson brother series keeps getting better and I felt that this story had more depth to it – Cole is damaged and needs help and Julie is the perfect partner for him. She’s strong; she’s compassionate and makes a great heroine. Some of the other heroines in the series have had me tearing my hair out, but Julie was perfect. Cole is sexy as all get out – he’s my new favourite brother! It’s also a nice change to have a vulnerable hero, rather than a broken heroine for once.

What you might hate: If you’ve been following the series and enjoying it, I really don’t think there’s anything to hate. The pace is fast and there’s an adventure subplot running through the story, which makes it a real page-turner.

Rating: For me, the story keeps on getting better. I give this 4/5 for this imperfect love story between Cole and Julie. Long Simmering Spring is out on 13 May 2013. I am really looking forward to the last in the series (sniff, sniff) Slow Summer Burn, which is Val’s story – out in August 2013.

Taking Shots by Toni Aleo

Taking ShotsBook: Taking Shots

Author: Toni Aleo

Series: The Assassins Series (Book #1)

Format: unedited ARC

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic Story: Elli Fisher is finally living the life she’s struggled for while keeping past spectres at bay. She has a thriving photography business and when she gets to combine taking photos with her passion for hockey, she’s in seventh heaven. Due to her strong reputation, her next job is to photograph the entire Nashville Assassins hockey team. A lifelong supporter, Elli is determined to pull it off, even though coming face-to-face with her idol, Shea Adler, scares her to death.

Shea Adler, captain of the Assassins, known playboy and all-round American superstar loves his life. He has a strong family unit; a twin sister who he cares about more than anything and his nephew and niece. Too busy for anything else, women are just a diversion to pass the time and help release pent-up energy. That is until he’s called to a team photo session for the new season. When he locks eyes on Elli (even though he can barely see without his contacts) he is thrown. He has to know her. She’s bashful and talented and not like any of the women he’s known before. Elli is sweet and instantly attracted to Shea; however, her past relationship left her self-esteem in tatters. Her lack of family support has left her insecure and feeling unworthy of love. She wants to believe that Shea could be part of a happier future, but can’t shake the feeling that she’s just not good enough for the mighty Shea Adler.

Why you should read this: It’s a pleasant read in many respects, set in the world of hockey. Shea is ideal book boyfriend material – he’s kind, considerate, never puts a foot wrong. Always says the right thing.

What you might hate: I really wanted to like Elli. Truly I did. I understand that she’s had a turbulent past but honestly, her tendencies to whine about not being pretty enough, or good enough for Shea were repetitive and self-indulgent. It also made the book twice as long as it needed to be in my opinion. Her relationship with her mother also seemed a little far-fetched, but it did build the suspense. Also, for me this book lacked structure – it was pleasant but it didn’t seem to be heading anywhere until the final chapters where the couple finally faced conflict and the boy lost the girl.

Rating: Sadly, I was disappointed – I had high hopes for this book and it just didn’t do it for me. Hopefully the later books in the series will be different. I give it 2/5 for the meandering storyline at times and the exasperating heroine. This is the first Loveswept story that has failed to sweep me away. Hot cover though.

Emancipating Andie by Priscilla Glenn

Book: Emancipating Andie

Author: Priscilla Glenn

Format: ARC

Review by: Judith

Basic story: Andie Weber knows what she wants out of life and she always always plays by the rules. She has the true love of a wonderful man named Colin, a stable job, and dreams of one day becoming a writer (though she keeps that to herself). The only glitch in her otherwise perfect world is Colin’s best friend, Chase – a free spirited and hilariously unfiltered photographer who thinks she is way too uptight for her own good. When they end up driving to Florida together for a wedding, Chase decides to show Andie just what she’s missing out of life by being so rigid. In only 48 hours he manages to rock her to her very foundations and forces her to reevaluate what is most important.  Once the wedding is over however, Chase, Andie, and Colin find themselves back home and each of them must deal with the ramifications of Andie’s awakening.  With all these new ideas of what’s right and wrong, will she choose Chase or Colin? And most importantly, will she be happy with her choice and what the future brings with him?

Why you should read this: She’s done it again! Priscilla Glenn smacks us upside the head with awesome in this book and will make you question why we really love people and what it takes to make us happy in life. She is the master of gorgeous, effortlessly written prose and when you reach the end of this one, you’ll say to yourself, “wha…? It’s over?! ALREADY??? Now I gotta go read sub-par crap again? Wahhhh!” With this book, her characters are fleshed out and described so beautifully that you feel for them as they grow and mature naturally. Like I said above, everything that she writes is effortless. It’s as if her words were a lens and we’re able to see into these people’s lives through it.  It’s an amazing and unique experience.

Chase is undeniably clever and hot. His interactions with Andie will have you laughing out loud and yearning for more simultaneously. He’s everything obnoxious and brash but when we finally learn more about him and hear his whole backstory, we discover that he’s not abrasive just matter of fact. I’m tired of all the Alpha males running around these days and Chase is definitely not one. He lays his cards out there on the table and is just a raw, refreshing character. You will swoon all over him!

What you might hate: Their trip down to Florida was way too short! I wanted to see more of Andie getting out of her comfort zone because what we do get is exhilarating. Priscilla’s books are all very real and in today’s romance world of vampires, humongous packages, and marathon sexy times, some of you may not want to read about things that could actually happen. And this book is all about reality. There’s no explosive action or men with huge muscles fighting over the girl. It’s a very raw look at emotions and the ties that bind us to other people.  A true love story. It’s also a standalone which many people might dislike cause it means they’re investing time and emotion into a story that will end.  Many people love series and this is a wholly contained world. (Personally I loved that!)

Rating: 4.5/5. The writing is gorgeous, the characters are extremely real and likable, the story just flows. This is a love story at its core but also a tale of redemption and maturity where the heroine finds her happily ever after not only in love but also in all the other aspects of life. Read it now!

Cover Reveal: ‘Come Alive’ by Jessica Hawkins

Hi everyone – Onnica here. I’m super-excited to share with you the new cover of ‘Come Alive’, which is Book #2 in the Cityscape Series.

The sequel to ‘Come Undone’ should be with us in a matter of weeks (release date is pencilled in for 30 May) and I’m trying to be patient. (Really I am!) If you haven’t read Come Undone yet, get on it!

ComeAlive_Cover

Cover Photo: © iStockphoto.com/VikaValter

Curious to know what’s in store for the Olivia and David in this instalment? Here’s the synopsis:

Determined to move on with her life, Olivia Germaine has vowed to forget David Dylan. Struggling to keep her head above water, she focuses on her new promotion and refuses to drown in the memory of their night together.

But when Olivia realizes what life without David means, she must decide if she is willing to risk everything for him . . . and if she is ready to reopen the wounds of her past.

Can Olivia move forward with her marriage despite her feelings for David?

And can David stay away like he promised?

Coming soon: Watch this space, as we’ll be interviewing Jessica and I’ll be asking her about love, romance and her inspiration for the delectable David…don’t miss it!

Penthouse Suite by Sandra Chastain

Penthouse SuiteBook: Penthouse Suite (A Loveswept novel)

Author: Sandra Chastain

Review by: Onnica

Basic Story: Since nursing her mother through ill-health and following her subsequent death, Kate Weston has decided to take some time for herself, travelling around the US doing odd-jobs as plumber and general all-round handywoman. The plan is to never stay longer than a couple of months; never form attachments or roots, as there lies trouble as far as Kate’s concerned.

After scoring a temporary job in a luxury hotel, Kate sets to work fixing all the electrical and plumbing issues. She is summoned to the penthouse suite to fix the leaking shower and gets more than she bargained for when she bumps into the hotel manager, Max Sorrenson, emerging from said shower. All thought escapes her. Far from middle-aged and balding, the manager Max is young, virile and with a body for sin. The more time she spends in his company, the more determined she is not to overstay her welcome and leave the job when the usual handyman returns. Her attraction to Max frightens her but it will not derail her plans to move on. But will head or heart win out for the couple?

Why you should read it: This is a fun, short read, full of light-hearted moments and the role-reversal element is charming. Both characters are likeable and engaging.

What you might hate: I didn’t realise it when I requested the book, but I feel I should highlight that this book is VINTAGE. It originally came out in 1989 – therefore the references to pop culture are a little um, shall we say dated? I don’t know about you, but when imagining Max’s body, I didn’t really want to picture Sylvester Stallone or Chuck Norris! The ending was also a little abrupt – but a satisfying read nonetheless.

Rating: It was a short, entertaining story that I finished in little time – I’m feeling generous, so I’d say 3/5. Definitely needs updating however, as it bears no resemblance to other contemporary Loveswept novels coming out.

Author Interview: Jade Hart

Hi, Onnica here. I’ve recently been blown away by the writing of Jade Hart. Last year, she wrote Ocean Kills, which told the story of a young and deadly teleporting assassin, Ocean Breeze. (Yes, that’s really her name and she’s not a fan of it either!) This year, there’s plenty more from Jade to look forward to.Jade Hart

We recently reviewed Coffee and Cockpits, which is the story of flight attendant Nina Poppins and what happens to her when faced with a life and death situation. It’s a complete departure from Ocean Kills and after reading it, I really wanted to ask Jade some questions. She kindly agreed…

Onni: Jade, thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions – especially as we’re on VERY different time zones!

JH: My pleasure.

Onni: When I finished Coffee and Cockpits, I read through your bio and you mentioned that you draw quite heavily on your own experiences for aspects of your writing. Can you tell me how much of “you” is in your characters?

JH: Oh, tricky question. I suppose I put quite a lot of myself into the characters I write. Ocean Breeze is darker, more broken than I could ever be, but some of her thoughts are my own – against the sickness in the world, and things that shouldn’t go on. With regards to Nina Poppins, there is a lot of my past in her (dancing, flying, being an air-hostess) but I don’t share her personality. I’m not as ‘fluffy’!

Onni: Yes, you were a flight attendant in the past – and could’ve written your typical, garden-variety contemporary romance in that setting but didn’t. What made you take it in a different, more fantastical direction?

JH: Well, funny enough – and this no one else knows, but it started as a sexy romance dealing purely with the love triangle. Nina can’t chose between Liam and Nikolai and she ends up *cough cough* having both of them. Unfortunately, as much as I liked the heat, the storyline didn’t work as I got to know the characters. So the direction changed and the story evolved into what it is. I didn’t sit down and say “I’m going to do that” – the story arched that way and I went along for the ride. I knew when I did it that some people would love it, and some wouldn’t. I was willing to take that risk.

Onni: It certainly arched in a way I didn’t expect – I didn’t see it coming at all! I love when that happens. So, I know this is a bit like asking who your favourite child is, but which of your characters holds a special place in your heart?

JH: Umm, that is a tough question. (Laughs.) I’d probably have to twist your question and give you two answers. Ocean Breeze holds a special place in my heart. I love her, and love the growth she’s undergoing in Ocean Slays (sequel to Ocean Kills) However, I hold a very soft spot for Callan. I love him. He may be a part of my imagination, but I just feel sorry for him with what Ocean did, and love to watch him grow into his temper and become a fiery match for her.

Onni: I was gobsmacked by what Ocean did to Callan and she’s definitely going to have to do a lot to redeem herself. And to the readers who have no idea what we mean – read Ocean Kills!

As you’ve already mentioned Callan Bliss, hero extraordinaire, that leads me to my next question: writing stories from a male point of view must be one of the hardest aspects for a female writer. How did you approach Callan and Liam’s characters? Did finding their ‘voices’ come easily?

JH: That is true – writing from a male pov is hard, and I don’t know if a woman can ever get it exactly right. But Callan is more ”alpha” whereas Liam was more ”in tune with his sweet side.” I love both of them, but I’m writing a dark (as in dark-dark) contemporary romance currently called Octopus Lotto and the main guy in that – Dashiel Rossen is a hard one to write. He’ll be the hardest one with his demons, attitude and past.

Onni: Which brings us nicely to your future plans. What’s next for you? More fantasy, or contemporary romance?

JH: Yes, I’ve got quite a lot happening! In May 2013, Mirror Amour will be coming out – an erotica novella based around the threesome I had to delete from Coffee and Cockpits. As I already mentioned, there’s Octopus Lotto, a dark, contemporary romance which will be a personal fave of mine. Loka, which is based on Hindu mythology and Jets and Joysticks, which is a companion piece to C&C. It’s Joslyn and Nikolai’s story.

Onni: And of course there’s Ocean Slays…

JH: And there’s Ocean Slays! I think that’s it for now (laughing).

Onni: So when you’re not writing, who do you like to read?

JH: I have a fairly large reading library. I LOVE Liani Taylor’s writing in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I love George R R Martin’s storytelling in Game of Thrones. I loved Jean M Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear for it’s indepthness, and also enjoy the romance in Crosstitch series by Diana Gabaldon. Quite different books. I also really enjoy all the NA stuff that has been released recently.

Onni: Wow – that is pretty eclectic! So, now is the moment for the big reveal. You’ve offered us a sneak peak into the first chapter of Ocean Slays – which had me doing a pretty undignified happy-dance (it was horrible, really, thank God I was alone). Thank you for this as I know NOBODY else has seen it yet! So here’s an exclusive:

Chapter One: Ocean

You left him to rot, you little bitch.

I clutched my hair, tugging against the vile voices inside my head. Adrian Mathieu: My rapist, family’s murderer, and overall black stain on my soul taunted me.

His voice dropped to a whisper-whiplash. You think you’re better than me. You’re not. You’re filth. Blood leaks from everything you touch. You left someone to take your punishment. If that doesn’t show how fucked up you are, then I don’t know what will. In fact, little bitch, you’re worse than me.

Yes, worse than all of us. Atsu Bazeer’s Afrikaans accent threaded with Adrian’s Australian twang.

You’re the scum. Kill yourself. Go on. Do it.

I ripped a handful of hair out, screaming soundlessly. My lungs strained to evict all the darkness writhing inside.

Blessedly, the taunts stopped, and I blinked through tear-fogged eyes, panting, trying to calm my galloping heart.

I’m fine. It was over. For now.

The oozing, pressuring guilt at leaving Callan, settled over me with the weight of a hundred elephants. No matter how evil the men who lurked inside me were, they were right.

I was scum.

The burn of hope since Maurice noticed a black splodge missing on my spine, cindered under the weight of hatred for myself. Who cared if Maurice thought I might not be damned? That I might find freedom from the malevolent murmurings of psychopaths?

It didn’t matter.

I wasn’t worthy of the gift my body unwrapped for me. A good person wouldn’t have left an innocent to suffer the consequences. I kidded myself if I thought I was worthy of Callan’s love and adoration. At the first test, I ran, leaving him with a corpse.

My nerves jigged and jagged at the thought of what Callan suffered. Where was he? What happened? I should go back. Now.

Yes. Go. You need to redeem yourself. Then kill him. Atsu Bazeer sneered.

I hung my head in my hands, my scalp smarting from ripping out a handful. What if I ported to rescue Callan, only to find he’d gone? Or show myself to others like the security guard who’d arrived the split second before I disappeared? What if Callan looked at me with hatred and scorn?

I gulped. What if I went to help him, but the voices inside over-powered me and I ended up hurting him, instead?

My heart quashed against my ribs. I rubbed my chest, trying to dispel the agony of knowing how much I fucked everything up. Callan would never forgive me.

My eyes bounced around my room, almost as if I could summon him from empty air. The harsh glow from the laptop screen heralded my eyes. I stared at the email left open.

Tariq Hunter.

Who the flying fits was Tariq Hunter?

(Disclaimer Unedited. Copyright JadeHart2013)

A massive thanks to Jade – I’ll keep you posted on when Ocean Slays is released.

Coffee and Cockpits by Jade Hart

Coffee and CockpitsBook: Coffee and Cockpits

Author: Jade Hart

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Nina Poppins (don’t make fun of her name, she’s heard all the jokes before) is about to become a flight attendant. It’s all part of the plan – pass her exams, be a flight attendant for a while, then study for her Commercial Pilots licence. Simple.

She’s a woman on a mission – by day, she works hard in the aisles of aircrafts, by night she enjoys dancing with strangers in salsa clubs. She has no time in her schedule for complications – not even when they come complete with pilot uniform and in a devastatingly handsome package. Liam Mikin, a pilot, has been interested in Nina for a year. Unable to penetrate her professional veneer, he finds out all her can about her from mutual friends (and a little friendly stalking).

Nina has heard all the stories about him and does not want to become fodder for the gossip mill. Dating a colleague, let alone a pilot with a bad reputation, is not going to happen.

Then one day on a routine flight, when disaster is narrowly avoided, Nina and Liam are forced to confront all their misconceptions about each other and about life. Where has playing it safe got Nina in life? When faced with death, she realises that you need to live your life as you won’t get another chance. Determined to be more open, Nina embarks on a relationship with Liam that strips away all the facades and the game-playing. By being honest with each other, they find that they can move forward together. But challenges are never far away.

Why you should read this: I was very excited about the premise of the book – I find flight attendants fascinating (I really do) and thought this book would be a light-hearted romp in a glamorous world. I was wrong. This book took so many twists and turns it made my head swim. I won’t ruin the plot for you, but not everything is as it seems. Liam has a heart of gold and is sexy as hell and there’s even a bit of a love triangle early on in the book between him, Nina and a former friend called Nikolai. There’s so much packed in there!

What you might hate: I love the way Jade writes – her description of Liam and Nikolai (a rival for Nina’s affections) had me in hysterics. Something like them ‘waving their cocks in the air’ trying to get her attention. At times though, it did feel as though there were too many similes and metaphors – especially from Liam’s point of view. He was romantic sure, but dare I say, a little girly at times? The language at times was a little flowery for my tastes but it didn’t make me want to stop reading.

Rating: so difficult as the book kept changing. Pre-crash, 4/5, post-crash 3/5 due to the turns the storyline took. Vague much, Onnica? I know, but if I say more it will really ruin the plot for you! I enjoyed this book – it made me laugh and certainly kept my attention. I didn’t see the twist coming, although the signs were there. It’s definitely worth a read!

Claim Me by J Kenner

Claim MeBook: Claim Me

Author: J. Kenner

Series: Book Two, The Stark Trilogy

Review by: Onnica

Basic Story: Nikki and Damien continue their relationship, getting to know each other better and facing the fact that what binds them goes beyond their sexual attraction. As their deal comes to an end, (Nikki agreed to pose nude for a painting that Damien had commissioned, in return for $1,000,000 to start up her own business. On the condition that she spends the week under his command, playing by his rules) they both come to the realisation that they don’t want things to end.

As media interest in their relationship grows, Nikki is faced with the press intruding not only in their personal life, but also into her past on the pageant circuit. Nikki is afraid that she won’t be strong enough to deal with this new life, as the temptation to revert to self-harm is ever-present, so instead she is reliant on Damien and the control that he brings. It seems as though Damien has no shortage of enemies either, all wanting to bring the mighty tycoon to his knees. Nikki grows increasingly frustrated with Damien’s reluctance to talk about his past. He asks for her patience, he’s trying to let her in, but is afraid he’ll lose her altogether once she knows the secrets he’s hiding.The pair have a tough road ahead, but as they’re finally able to admit their feelings for each other (I’m talking ‘I love yous’) they decide that together they can face anything.

Why you should read this: If you enjoyed the first instalment, Release Me, then you’re going to want to know what’s next for Nikki and Damien. Damien is a great hero, as he isn’t a caveman and doesn’t show his temper very often, unlike some other alphas I could mention. He’s fairly reasonable actually, which is refreshing.

What you might hate: The pace of the book was a little erratic for me; I felt as though it took 20% of the book for the action to actually start, which meant that I couldn’t get into it for a while. The dialogue at times if I’m honest (and I always try to be) was a little sketchy. I could have done without all the ‘Oh Ms Fairchild’ and ‘Why, Mr Stark’ on such a regular basis, as it seems a little cliché now after Fifty Shades of Grey.

Rating: I give this book 3/5 as I did with Release Me. It’s not a perfect read, but I’m curious enough to see how these two will get their happily ever after. (Claim Me is out on April 23rd.)

Blaze of Winter by Elisabeth Barrett

Blaze of WinterBook: Blaze of Winter

Author: Elisabeth Barrett

Series: Star Harbor (Book # 2 A Loveswept novel)

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic Story: Theo Grayson has writer’s block. For the life of him, he cannot seem to make his latest historical novel flow. With his editor keen to see his next work, Theo needs to find inspiration fast. Deciding that a break from San Francisco will help him find that inspiration, he resolves to spend the winter in his childhood home of Star Harbor, Massachussetts. Suddenly, being home with his family – three brothers and lots of friends, Theo begins to re-evaluate who he is and what he wants from life.

Avery Newbridge is facing a crisis. Her career as a social worker has come to an abrupt hiatus, leaving her unsure of her abilities and whether she is capable of helping others. She has come to Star Harbor temporarily in order to look after her aunt, who’s recovering from cancer. She’s not used to the small community and the fact that everybody knows everybody’s business, but she is sure that a change of scene will help her to plan what she’s going to do with her life. She doesn’t want any complications and so when Theo Grayson walks into her aunt’s inn looking for a place to stay, it’s clear he is nothing but trouble to her peace of mind. Theo has her in his sights and Avery must decide whether guarding her heart against pain is worth living a half-life of nothing special.

Why you should read this: A couple of weeks ago, I read book one in this series and I was struck by how vividly Cape Cod is depicted. The same is true of this book – I feel as though I know this community and these characters really well. Picking up the next book in the series is like catching up with an old friend. I thought that Sebastian Grayson was hot, but his twin brother Theo is off the charts! Glasses wearing, chiselled abs, tall, dark and sexy; what more could you ask for in a hero? He’s basically perfect and doesn’t put a foot wrong, despite his bad-boy reputation.

What you might hate: Avery, Avery, Avery. I could have smacked the woman on several occasions. I get that she’s trying to focus on her life and not get caught up in a complicated love story, but come on! She pushes him away constantly, when he hasn’t done anything to deserve it. He doesn’t lie; he doesn’t flirt with other women. From the moment they meet, he makes it fairly clear she’s all he wants, yet she’s too dense to accept it.

Rating: 4/5 Despite a very challenging heroine, I absolutely loved this book – I feel like I’m getting to know these characters much better and I can’t wait for Long Simmering Spring, which will be out in May 2013. How hot are these covers?!