Friday, December 28, 2012

TEMPTED BY THE STORM by Maxine Mansfield



I've only been reading fantasy for a short time, so I was excited to what was between the pages of Tempted by the Storm.

I found gnomes, elves, wizardry, dragons, barbarians, paladins, and more.

Some of the happenings in the story had me shaking my head and wondering, What the heck? NEVER in a million years would I have expected a fantasy novel to include characters utilizing a blow-up doll named Miss Bunny as a make-shift sled to get get out of a dangerous situation. (And for it to actually work.)

I chuckled when I was introduced to Leeky Shortz, Tug McGroin, Ms. Bea Hayven, and Sherman Bobert Limburger the Ninth (who says he was "thrown over for a Gouda . . . and destined to go down in history as the man who stank at love."

While I couldn't believe some of what I was reading, I couldn't put the book down and finished it in one sitting. The story line is captivating, the naughty parts are ooh la la, and the characters are so well-developed that I felt almost like I knew them personally.

Prior to reading this book, I hadn't read anything by Ms. Mansfield, but I am certainly going to get my hands on a copy of book one of this series, Touched by Magic, as soon as I possibly can and I'll be snapping up books three and four when they're available.

I rate Tempted by the Storm four out of five stars.


Tempted by the Storm can be purchased from Wild Rose Press or Amazon.





Tempted by the Storm

By Maxine Mansfield

Genre: Erotic Fantasy

Heat level: 4, Scarlet Rose

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Release date: November 9, 2012

Blurb:

Larksong Hammerstrike has always been just the younger sister of Princess Aryanna. Never quite as pretty or as smart, always lacking, a mere empath whose power gets her into trouble more often than not. But at Carnalval, the festival of all things sexual, she unleashes her sensual side for a night in the arms of a masked stranger. When morning dawns, Lark can't resist a peek beneath the mask of her lover and is once again crushed by fate. The man of her lusty adventure is none other than the future Lord of the High Elves and destined to marry her sister. As heir to the kingdom of Landis and current instructor of wizardry at the Academy of Magical Arts, Sarco Sunwalker is honor bound to rise above the temptation of the beautiful empathic student who invades his mind, body, and soul. But when sparks fly, lightning strikes, and thunder rolls, Sarco finds himself more than tempted by the storm of Lark's passion and vows to find a solution that will prevent a war between races, fulfill an infamous quest, and win Lark's hand.

~~~

Excerpt

 
There was only one word that could describe the creature standing before him. Wonderful.

“Did you say something?” the woman whispered.
 
He shook his head. “Nothing, I just can’t believe my luck. You really are real and here with me.”
 
She smiled, but her smile didn’t extend to her eyes.
 
Before another heartbeat passed or another breath taken, he stood at her side. With tenderness, he gazed into her gentle, masked face and took both of her hands in his. He was humbled as her fingers trembled even more than his own did. “We don’t have to do this if you’d rather not.”
 
She smiled wider, and her eyes gleamed with mischief. “I suppose we might as well. After all, we’re already here, and you’re at least halfway undressed.”
 
Sliding his hands up her arms and around her shoulders to her back, Sarco felt for and found the clasps holding her gown together. With the flick of a wrist, they gave way, and with a swish, the silky fabric fell to her hips exposing lush, rose-tipped breasts. Just the right size to hold in both hands, to fondle, to caress, to taste.
 
“Hmm, it seems you’re halfway undressed yourself.”

~~~

About the Author
Maxine Mansfield writes fantasy, erotic romances. She lives in the far northern state of Alaska where the summer days are long and the winter nights even longer.
 
She has one very special man, his three equally special children, and their six delightful grandchildren in her life. Not to mention a very bossy African Grey parrot named Gabriel. Oh, and Gnomes! Many, many Gnomes.

Maxine can be found online at the following places:




Other Books: Touched by the Magic (1st book in the Academy Series)
 

 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Twisted Seduction by N'Tyse



According to the girlfriend code, one does not date, sleep with, canoodle, fraternize, or otherwise become involved with a friend's ex. Disregarding this rule has resulted in not only the break-up of lifelong friendships, but sometimes also can erupt into physical altercations.

If the above-mentioned interactions with an ex-boyfriend can result in a loss of friendships and/or physical fights, can you imagine what would happen if this code were violated when a friend has a relationship with your husband? (If it were me, I'd end up sulking behind bars because the best friend I killed or maimed is the only one who'd write me regularly and put money on my books.)

Let's take this interaction with a friend's husband a step further. What happens if friend A is behind the scenes, setting up the opportunity for friend B to get it on with friend A's own husband? (Personally, I'd suspect the husband is rich and friend A wants out of the marriage, but terms of a pre-nup prohibit her from walking away and murder would be too obvious. Hmm, I may have read that in a book somewhere.)

N'Tyse has addressed this exact scenario in Twisted Seduction.

Denise and Nadine are best friends and business partners. Denise has been married to Jeff for nine years. Na dine and Jeff secretly lust after one another. One night, after choir rehearsal, the two of them chat as they're leaving the church. While covertly ogling each other, Jeff opens up about sexual problems in his marriage. Moments later, ON THE CHURCH GROUNDS, Nadine is crouching between Jeff and her car, playing "Hide the Salami in My Throat," which then progressed to the two of them getting to know each other in the biblical sense inside her car, still in the church parking lot. (I swear I heard "Give it to Me Baby" by Rick James in my head while reading this scene. Although, Salt-n-Peppa's "Push It" comes to mind too, now that I think about it.)

Having grown up in church, even going to a church school in elementary school, I had to put the book down for a minute. All I could think was "Oooh, they're going straight to hell in gasoline-soaked undies!"

That thought aside, I picked the book back up and didn't put it down again until I had read the entire book.

An addition to some steamy scenes, the book reveals the motive for Denise having maneuvered her best friend and husband together so that she can be with another man.  A life-altering secret that no one but Nadine has been privy to also comes to light- Deandra, Denise's daughter, isn't Jeff's child.

Three years later, we see Denise's plot to getting her husband and friend together explode. What happen affects her marriage as well as her friendship and business relationship with Nadine. Her secret affects Jeff, her daughter, and Nadine and Jeff's relationship, and Denise and Nadine's business relationship. (I can see Eddie Murphy pointing a finger at Denise, lecturing her when she comes up with her plan:  There's gonna be some consequences and repercussions.)
nhg
Readers are also given a glimpse of another intriguing character in Canvas Green. In him, we have a young, black male who presents himself as a "project thug" in Jeff's words. Canvas applies for a job at Jeff's car dealership, needing to earn income to support himself and his little sister. Jeff senses there is more to Canvas beneath the rough exterior and gives him a second chance and a mentor/mentee relationship develops between the two. Things go well, but, unfortunately, Canvas loses his job and we get a glimpse of him returning to a life on the streets. Though he's not a major character in the story, something about him in the scenes he's in draws me to his character. I'd love to see a story done about him and what happened to him up to this point.

N'Tyse effectively draws the reader into the emotional upheavals the characters go through. Although I think Denise brought all her upset on herself, I had to sympathize with her when things fell apart. Yes, she did some scandalous, downright dirty stuff, but my heart hurt for her. Even thought I wanted to reach into the pages of the book and slap Jeff in the back of his head for seeking out the attentions of a stripper, I understood that in the physical release with her, he was able to feel like a man again for the time he was with her.Like a lot of men, he let his little head do the thinking. I felt sorry for Nadine who, in keeping Denise's secrets, was caught between her loyalty to her best friend and loyalty to the man she loves. It may be further evidence that I'm a sap, but the funeral scene brought tears to my eyes.

I give this book five out of five stars. The plot is compelling and the characters are engaging. I can't wait for the sequel, Twisted Vows of Seduction.

To purchase a copy of Twisted Seduction: A Novel  from Amazon.com, click the photo of the book cover.

N'Tyse is currently working on a debut film titled "Beneath My Skin." Check out the trailer here.

For updates on N'Tyse and her work, check her out at all the following:
www.ntyse.com
www.facebook.com/author.ntyse
www.twitter.com/ntyse
She can be reached via email at ntyse.amillionthoughts@yahoo.com

**Disclosure: A complimentary copy of the book was received from the author for review. No compensation, financial or otherwise, was received.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Blackberry Days of Summer by Ruth P. Watson


This is a coming of age story that involves love, lust, adultery, murder, and forgiveness.

Herman Camm attended the funeral of Mae Lou’s husband. Carrie, her daughter, is uneasy around him. Not long after the burial of Carrie’s father, Herman and Mae Lou announce their impending marriage. While her husband, Willie, was away at war, Pearl had also been seeing Herman. Her husband comes home from the war earlier than she expects and he suspects something is going on. Of course, Pearl denies it. Herman and Pearl continue seeing each other, having clandestine meetings.

Three plot lines converge: Herman commits a horrific act that has life-altering consequences for fifteen-year-old Carrie who has obtained her mother’s permission to court and is now in love, Mae Lou shows signs of tiring of her husband’s philandering, and Pearl is afraid that her husband will hurt Herman and vows to stay away from him. The end result is a dead Herman Camm and multiple suspects with motive and opportunity. However, no one really cares that he’s dead.

The characters in the book are true-to-life and easy to identify with. The reader witnesses Carrie’s pain with the secret she harbors after having found out another secret about herself that she’s coming to terms with. Pearl is a married woman who is having an affair with a married man, but underneath the fa├žade, there is a yearning for something that she can’t seem to find. Mae Lou is a widow with three children. There’s an unspoken suggestion that she may have met Herman prior to her husband’s death. Her character is that of a hard-working mother and wife who does what’s necessary to take care of her family. Given her nature, one does wonder what attracted her to Herman and why she kept him around.

While providing a compelling story, the novel also gives a glimpse of African American life after World War I. It shows the difficulty for the returning soldiers to find employment. It also illustrates how hard the women in that era worked to take care of their homes and children. There is a glimpse of the life of those with more children than they can afford to have as well as mention of the hush-hush abortions that young girls had.

Blackberry Days of Summer is Ruth P. Watson's "I have arrived" statement to the literary world.

I rate this book five out of five stars.

** Disclosure: I  won an ARC of this book in a contest. I received no compensation, financial or otherwise, in exchange for this review.

Oh Gad by Joanne C. Hillhouse


Oh Gad is the story of a young woman who was born in another country, but was raised in the States by her dad. She returns to her homeland of Antigua when her mother dies.

The book starts a little slow with setting the background, but, after several chapters, I found myself intrigued. The main character, Nikki, has always felt alone. She laments never truly knowing her mother, but accepts that as being her own fault. She talks of being alone in “the organized chaos of New York housed with a man who never stopped being a stranger… A man who told her he was her father, but never taught her what family was.”  This novel is the story of her journey to discovering herself. On that journey, she goes over potholes and speed bumps in her relationships with family members as well as several with men.

In addition to giving us the story of Nikki’s finding herself, the reader is given a look into the Antiguan culture. The dialect is wonderfully written and rolls off the mental tongue while reading it. The book also touches on the subject of developing the country and its effects on the people who live there.

I rate this book a four out of five stars.

** Disclosure: I won an ARC of this book in a contest. No compensation, financial or otherwise, was received in exchange for this review.

A Silken Thread by Brenda Jackson


A Silken Thread is a novel composed of intricately woven sub-plot surrounding three relationships that are affected by the machinations of one heartless, callous woman.

Karen Sanders is hell-bent on stopping her daughter, Erica, from marrying a man she considers beneath them. Despite Erica’s love for Brian, Karen goes to desperate lengths to push her into the arms of Griffin, who is of the blue blood status that Karen approves of. Although we later learn what shaped her into the person she is, it doesn't diminish the repercussions of her actions for those involved. This is a masterfully told story of love, trust, betrayal, and faith. It explores the man/woman relationships of these characters, but also goes into the parent/child relationship as well as the relationship between friends. This book reinforces the belief that “what’s meant to be, will be.”

The author draws the reader in and allows them to feel the pain of the characters as they are subjected to the things that rip their relationships apart. The unexpected twists and revelations will keep you turning the page to see what happens next.

I give this book a rating of five stars out of five.

** Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free in a random drawing. No compensation, financial or otherwise, was received in exchange for this review.

Sinners & Saints by Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley


Move over Batman and Robin, there’s a new dynamic duo in Gotham City.

Fans of Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley are familiar with Jasmine Larson Bush and Rachel Jackson Adams, first ladies of mayhem.

The ladies are set to go head to head as their husbands vie for President of the American Baptist Coalition. The gloves come off as soon as the ladies get off the plane in New York and the two go multiple rounds before finding out there’s a surprise contender entering the presidential ring – one who’s been hiding in the corner the whole time, waiting for them to knock each other out.
The two schemers team up to outwit this unexpected entrant to the race while, at the same time, staying a step ahead of each other. The two effectively eliminate the threat and a deeper conspiracy is uncovered, one that has repercussions that will affect the winner of the race, no matter who it is.
One of the women gets the win she desires, but, as the saying goes: “Be careful what you wish for.”

This collaboration is exceptionally well-written. The writing styles of the two women mesh seamlessly. Were it not for the two names on the cover, it could easily be thought to have been written by one author.
Readers who are not familiar with the stories of Jasmine and Rachel will have no problem keeping up with the story. In fact, this will make them want go back to the beginning for both women to see what shenanigans they've been part to up to this point. 

The sequel, Friends & Foes, is set for release in 2013.

This is definitely a five-star read.

** Disclosure: I received no compensation, financial or otherwise, in exchange for this review.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Art of Deceit by Fabiola Joseph



I'm not going to discuss the men in this book because, simply stated, their actions/reactions are based on physical attraction and their penises. The prime example is Tay's telling Tangie that she's "just a star fucker." He knows this about her, but his attraction to her and his enthrallment with her sexual prowess override this. He tells his bodyguard "She got a nigga hooked and there's nothing that I could do about it." Well, there is something he could do about it -- walk the other way.


But I digress...


I've read books before where a character did or said something that was so overboard it made the character ridiculous. That's not the case here. The characters in this book are very well developed and realistic. Their words and actions are consistent and in sync with the characterization the author has set out to show the reader. The women characters in this book intrigued me.




Tangie
The main character set off a rollercoaster of emotions for me.


1. Admiration - She's a go-getter who lets nothing get in her way. When she sees something she wants, she goes after it. No matter what else she has going on, her eyes remain on her ultimate goal. She is a master manipulator/charmer and no one she comes across is immune to it.


2. Hate - I hated her for the things she did to get what she wanted - Seducing Carl and rubbing it in his face that they'll never be together because he doesn't make enough money for her. Taking the groupie to the hotel room as a "gift" for Tayvon and her rejection of Amira because leaving Tay would be walking away from what she'd aspired to all her life and losing the material things that it represented.


3. Sympathy - Her sexuality rules her. She uses sex to control and manipulate, with the exception of Amira. She found true love with Amira, but was afraid of what others would think/say. Her grief over Amira's death was heartwrenching. The author vividly paints the picture of the denial phase and the reader can't help but feel sorry for Tangie.In different places in the story, we get brief glimpses of a sad little girl who feels like she's on her own with no one else to look out for her well-being and happiness. This is where her "get him/her before he/she gets me" attitude stems from. I would be interested to know the kind of childhood she had. Her mother instilled a lot of her attitude in her. It would also be interesting to know her mother's story. 


4. Finally, I must admit that Tangie is a woman that I fear. The insecure part of me quakes at the thought that a woman like her might decide she wants my significant other, whether it be for money, sex, or whatever. Someone like me would have not no chance whatsoever in trying to stand up to or fight against the ruthlessness with which she operates. 


Shamika
While on the surface, Shamika isn't a nice person, I sympathized with her character. Not because of what Tangie did to her, but because of who she is. She's a hood chick struggling to fit in. Her actions are a desperate attempt to come up from the lower ranks to the upper eschelon. With her preoccupation with trying to fit in and be the person she thinks she should be, she doesn't realize that she's trying too hard and pushing Black to look elsewhere. It's obvious that she comes from a background of poverty or just barely making it. She wants a big house like Tay and Tangie's instead of the simple townhome that she and Black share. She envies Tangie's jewelry and clothes. The material things that she sees Tangie with is what she wants for herself. It's hard for me to determine whether she truly does love Black or whether she's holding on to his potential. In her words, they have a "thug love," not a kissy, kissy love like Tangie and Tay. In my opinion, she doesn't know what love is and is simply looking for a method of come-up.


Amira
This character was only in the book for a short while, but her presence had the greatest impact on the story by bringing out the other side of Tangie's character. Amira was a tragic character. Because of her career in the spotlight, her personal relationships were affected. She was having to suppress who she was to keep her fans happy, but in meeting and falling in love with Tangie, she was willing to risk her career. When Tangie wasn't brave enough to admit to reciprocal feelings, Amira wasn't emotionally able to cope with it. Tangie was her downfall.


***** SPOILER ALERT! *****




Once I sat down to read, I couldn't stop until I finished the book. I can't wait for the sequel to find out what happens. Part of me hopes that Tay isn't really dead, that maybe it's one of the body guards or Carmello. I want to know whose baby Tangie is carrying. I'm a little surprised that with her mindset of sex as a tool, she wouldn't make sure the men wrap it up or that she wasn't on some type of birth control.
While the story is entertaining, I'm a little disappointed that she didn't get any punishment for her actions. Yes, she lost Amira, but that loss doesn't seem to have changed her. It's as if she cried it out and now she's moved on with her life. She uses and abuses people and it doesn't seem to affect her at all. Her character remains consistent in her "all about me" attitude. She doesnt' seem to grow from that. Maybe in the sequel she will.


I applaud the author for a well-written story. She is certainly a wonderful storyteller. This was my first time reading her work and I look forward to reading more. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.


A copy of this book was provided by the author for review. I received no compensation.