29 November 2012

Review: The Reluctant Santa

Happy Thursday! Today, I'm running a little behind, per usual. But I'm here now, and this is a review of The Reluctant Santa by Sylvia McDaniel. Enjoy!

There's a giveaway associated with this tour, so make sure to enter!


Colin McDermott has one last chance to get Christmas right. Since his mother abandoned him on Christmas Eve never to return, Colin McDermott has hated Christmas and sworn never to have children. But this year two angels are giving him everything he didn't want. A Santa suit, a child and a chance at love again. This is his last chance to learn the true meaning of Christmas.


The Reluctant Santa is a heart warming tale of love lost and found again. It follows Brooke and Colin, once a couple of college kids in love and now two working stiffs with no idea of what lays ahead of them.

Brooke ran from Colin in college after learning she was pregnant and believing Colin wouldn't have wanted them around. She works for a hospital, and is raising their daughter as a single mother. Colin happens to sell software to hospitals, and walks right into Brooke's. She doesn't tell him anything, even after he's coerced into playing Santa and meets his daughter for the first time.

It takes a tragedy to bring out the truth. I enjoyed this story. The characters are fleshed out well, and I grew to truly enjoy seeing the interaction between them. I did wonder at the inclusion of an angel and demon. To be honest, I'd forgotten they were a part of the story, and when they were mentioned again I had to flip back and see who they were. Otherwise, this is an excellent book. Happy reading!


“His soul is mine,” Devon, the devil's angel, said. He watched the humans, who were oblivious to his presence, gathered in the sales office. One of the best things about being an angel was his ability to pop into just about anywhere and spy on his subjects without their knowledge. He could observe the humans as if were watching a play and even occasionally act as director.

A chill wind howled outside the downtown Denver office, heralding the arrival of winter and the holiday season. The perfect time of year to increase his soul count. Devon studied his next soul, a brown-haired young man with expressive brows and a quirky grin. Unbeknownst to him, the salesman's life meter was about to expire unless he made drastic changes.

Devon," a voice echoed into the atmosphere before the being that irritated him the most shimmered into his vision. “Doing a soul count before he's yours?”

Slowly, an angel materialized, clad from head to toe in a white leather jacket and white knee-high boots fit snug over white leather pants. A gold belt around her waist, held a cross that signified sergeant, angel, first class. Her halo was tilted at a rakish angle. In earth terms, Gabriella looked hot.

“Whoever is in charge of your wardrobe, I like the changes they’ve made,” Devon said, letting his eyes rake her until a searing heat reminded him he was crossing boundaries. "Please tell me they ditched the boring robes."

With a toss of her blonde hair, her blue eyes flashed, glinting silver as her brows rose.

“My robes are hardly boring, but no, one of my cases is a motorcyclist. I'm riding shotgun today, trying to keep him from splattering all over the highway. The robes kept blowing up in my face, so I found a solution.”

"Nice!" Devon shook his head and forced his eyes back to the human whose life he'd soon influence. “I thought your promotion at Easter took you out of the saving souls division.”

Gabriella smiled as the air around her shimmered. Why didn’t the angels from purgatory patrol get that shimmery essence?

Devon, we work so…well together” she said, drawing out the word until he wanted to snap at her. He held onto his temper.

“We're all looking for ways to make quota this time of year. Only the strongest stay out of the pit, and every time I come up against you, I lose. But not this time. This one belongs to me,” he announced, staring at the man whose only interest in life was making money. No family, no girlfriends, no friends— just work and money.

Gabriella tsked. “Now why would you want to send this poor man to hell for eternity? He just needs a little coaxing to choose the right path.”

Devon sighed. “His time is about to expire. I'm here to collect his soul.”

“Maybe,” she said. “Unless, I can give him some guidance and save him from evil.”

“Not this time. Heavenly angels may not be able to play dirty, but I can,” he said, smiling at Gabriella. “And I intend to win this one.” Gabriella laughed.

"Always so arrogant, Devon." She glanced at their human. “His case is challenging, but I'm certain I can help him.”

She turned toward Devon, her brows rising. “Playing dirty landed you where you are now. Why should I expect anything less?”

“How I got here doesn’t matter. I need this soul,” he snapped. "You make your soul count or the big man sends you back to the pit to fight and claw your way back for another chance."

“And Colin McDermott needs to be saved,” Gabriella said, swirling back to their subject. “I mean, look at the poor man. He has no idea his priorities are in the wrong place. He's a selfish, greedy man because he's unloved."

“Love!" Devon exclaimed. "You heavenly angels think loving someone solves everything.”

Gabriella shook her head at Devon, her blue eyes darkening with some sort of power. “Even you deserved love, Devon. In fact, if I had been your angel, I would found someone to show you love. Hopefully, you'd have been smart enough to grab the lifeline."

“Well, you weren't my angel, and now I'm the big man's soul catcher.”

“It's simple, Devon. Why would you want to lure more men into the darkness you already face?” she asked.

Devon clenched his fist, struggling to control the frustration that spiraled through him. Hell was not a place anyone planned on going. “The pit!" he said. "Let’s just concentrate on the human.”

"I already was." She contemplated Colin McDermott. “He's quite handsome with those long, sandy lashes and sparkling honey eyes. If I were human, one look and he’d melt my heart.”

“Women on earth know he's not a good risk. I could wrap this case up before Christmas, if you weren't here."

“Too bad. I'm here to keep you from destroying him,” she said, giving him a stern frown. “The poor soul has no idea of what he's about to face. I'm sure you’ve got some nasty surprises in store for him, some hard to resist temptations. But hopefully, with my guidance, he'll make the changes his life needs.”

Devon shook his head. “No, by Christmas he’ll be mine. Count on it."

About The Author:

Sylvia McDaniel and her very supportive husband Don, the love of her life, live in Texas with son Shane, Putz the klutzy dachshund and Ashley our shy dachshund. During the day, she works for a small insurance agency from home, helping clients with their commercial insurance coverage. 

The weekends are spent working out in the garden until the temperature climbs above ninety degrees. Recently, with the help of her husband, she learned to make homemade blueberry and blackberry jam. Cooking is not her favorite past-time and she prefers Don’s cooking any day of the week.

Currently, she’s written fourteen novels.  In the last year, she’s been a finalist in six writing contests and was a 1996 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist. Sylvia is very involved with the Dallas Area Romance Authors.

She can be reached by email at Sylvia.McDaniel@verizon.net.

Visit Sylvia online at:
Twitter - @WriterSylvia

20 November 2012

Promo: Devlin's Grace

Happy Fri-Tuesday! Today's the last day of school for my kiddos, so it feels like a Friday. Today, I'm hosting a stop for Devlin's Grace by LeAnn Sontheimer Murphy. Enjoy!



When he rides out of the fog on his motorcycle, Gracie Alloway almost mistook him for a demon rising from the smoke and steam of hell.  Except she's attracted to him from the first moment.  Devlin's everything she's not - wild and a little wicked.  But opposites attract because good girl, college student Gracie wants more of this bad boy.

Devlin dreamed up a fantasy woman back in Iraq a lot like Gracie and she evokes a side he hasn't shown anyone in years.  She also dares to enter his personal space and take liberties no other woman's dared.  Although he struggles with PTSD and other issues, Gracie won’t run and she refuses to abandon Devlin.

If she can just tame him and help him battle his demons. If he can teach her how to live a little bit more, they might just have a chance at a future together.

When he held out the cup, Gracie noticed the scarring on the underside of his left arm.  Dead white skin mottled with angry red patches and rough ridges indicated he’d suffered serious burns.  She noticed similar scars on the side of his neck and wondered how much of his body had been affected.  Everything she’d learned screamed at her to say nothing, to ignore what she saw, but Gracie followed instinct.  After accepting the cup, she put it down on the end table and touched the old burn.  Her fingers brushed against the coarse skin and marveled to find it cool.  She expected heat, but it would’ve gone long ago.  Dev started to jerk away from her, but when she touched him, he stopped.  Like a bird poised for flight, he remained still as she stroked the damaged area.

Before she could speak, he pulled his arm back and with a defiant glint in his eyes, he removed his t-shirt. “If you want to see the scars, you can see them all,” Dev said, voice harsh and hoarse. 

He revealed a torso dappled with terrible raised welts, both back and belly.  These scars were worse than the others.  Raised red ropes twined like vines over his flesh, fused and almost melted.  The agony Dev endured was beyond anything she could imagine and Gracie’s eyes brimmed with tears.  They spilled over, down her cheeks with silent hurt.  One glance at his face, set hard and as stoic as a statue intensified her empathy.  She laid her right hand on his back, his scarred flesh beneath her touch and with her left she touched the center of his chest.

Beneath her hand his heartbeat thumped, rapid but steady.  His eyes locked with hers and in them Gracie glimpsed flickers of his personal hell.   Confusion showed up, too, along with regret and maybe shame.

Whatever she did or said now would be pivotal, she sensed.  Based on her actions he’d either leave and be gone from her forever, something she didn’t want, or a new beginning would emerge, delicate and fragile.  If she took time to think, she’d be lost so Gracie mined deep into her woman’s soul.  When words came, she spoke them, her voice soft and yet as constant as the evening stars.  “Oh, Dev, it must’ve hurt so much.”

“I don’t want your pity,” he said, a snarl transforming his face into something wolfish, alien.  “Don’t feel sorry for me, babe.  I don’t need charity and I sure as hell don’t need you to tell me some dumb ass feel good bunch of shit.  So quit crying over me.  Maybe it makes you feel better, but it makes me mad.”

“It isn’t pity,” Gracie told him. “I admire you.  It takes a lot of courage to overcome hurts like this.  I hurt for you, but I don’t feel sorry for you.  I hate you had to go through such pain, but I’m crying because I care.”

His hard face softened a little. “Why?”

In this raw moment, she could give him nothing but honesty. “I don’t know, but I do.”

Then Gracie leaned forward and bent just enough to touch her lips to one of the ugliest lesions, the worst of the scars.  He shuddered as she kissed his chest and when she lifted her tear streaked face, Devlin grasped her arms.  He held her in place and kissed her back, full on the mouth, without remorse or mercy.   Gracie gasped with surprise.  His lips burned hers as if she kissed a devil fresh from the pit, but she liked it.  Her body answered his call and her arms moved to circle his neck as she gave him back the kiss.

Book Trailer:

About the Author:
Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is a full-time romance author. A native of the old historic city of St. Joseph, Missouri, one time home to both Jesse James and the Pony Express, she now lives and writes in the beautiful Missouri Ozark region.  Her romance novels include Love Never Fails, Witness Protection Program, Sing We Now of Christmas, A Patient Heart, In Love’s Own Time, Miss Good Samaritan, In The Shadow of War, Guy’s Angel, and Heart of the Ozarks, all from Rebel Ink Press.  She also has six other novels and several novellas available. Her work also appears in more than twenty anthologies and she has multiple short story/non-fiction credits.

She is a member of RWA, Missouri Writers Guild, EPIC, and the Ozarks Writers League. Her work also appears in multiple anthologies. She earned a BA degree in both English and History from Missouri Southern State University as well as an AA Degree in Journalism from Crowder College.  She worked in broadcast media for a decade and also has a background in education.  Her weekly column “Hindsight” appears each week in the Neosho Daily News.

She is married to Roy W. Murphy and the couple has three children, Emily, Megan, and Patrick Murphy.

If Lee Ann – or Lee as many of her writing friends know her – isn’t writing, she’s reading or spending time outdoors.

In Neosho, Missouri, the small town she now calls home, she serves on the local library board, is active in the annual Relay For Life fight against cancer, has worked with the local Arts Council, and is active in her parish.

Contact Lee Ann at:
Blog: Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy - http://leeannsontheimermurphy.blogspot.com

Coming from Lee Ann Autumn/Winter 2012:
Kosovo Tales: Two Hearts, One Love (10/3)
Three Encounters of A Close Kind (11/3)
Movie Star Magic (Nov 2012)
Devlin's Grace (11/17)
The Home Fires of Christmas (12/3)

16 November 2012

Review: Incendiary

Happy Friday! Today, I'm reviewing Incendiary by Chris Redding . Enjoy!


What if your past comes back to haunt you?

Chelsea James, captain of the Biggin Hill First Aid Squad, has had ten years to mend a broken heart and forget about the man who'd left her hurt and bewildered. Ten years to get her life on track. But fate has other plans.

Fire Inspector Jake Campbell, back in town after a decade, investigates a string of arsons, only to discover they are connected to the same arsons he'd been accused of long ago. Now his past has come back to haunt him, and Chelsea is part of that past.

Together, Chelsea and Jake must join forces to defeat their mutual enemy. Only then can they hope to rekindle the flames of passion. But before they can do that, Chelsea must learn to trust again. Their lives could depend on it.


From the first page, Incendiary captured my attention.

This story follows Chelsea, the daughter of a wealthy and influential man and owner of his non-profit ambulance service. Brad, her brother, is the fire chief. Jake, the new fire inspector, is also her former lover.

I found Chelsea to be a strong character, and definitely not a wallflower. She has some issues she's trying to work through, and seems to carry a lot of baggage regarding her mother and pride. The relationship with her brother is tense, at best, but they rally around each other in times of hardship. As a fire erupts in their small town, and it's determined to have been pre-set, they find themselves entangled in a devious plot to take down everything they've built since their parents deaths.

The villain was pretty predictable, but that didn't detract from the story itself. Besides a few formatting issues and a couple of scenes with confusing flow, this story was an easy read and I got through it quickly. It's suspenseful and a page turner, and I recommend it.


The electricity of an impending storm raised the hair on Chelsea James's arms. Barefoot, she stood on the wide front porch and watched the trees blow almost in half.

Her dead sister's voice played in her mind.

"It's like nature has to violently clean up," Morgan would say as they stood in this very spot.

They both loved storms. The power of nature impressed Chelsea. Morgan concentrated on the aftermath. Odd that she never thought of the aftermath of her own actions.

"How so?" Chelsea would ask her older-by-a-few-minutes sister.

Morgan's eyes would be wide. "Because a storm gives the trees a haircut, gets rid of the ones that are weak. And on top of that, the rain helps the ones that do survive."

Chelsea would nod.

But this storm didn't bring with it the same renewal. Somewhere deep inside her, Chelsea knew this storm was different. This storm could bring destruction— or worse—this storm might not bring the wanted rain for those trees that survived.

She sighed. Right now she missed her sister more than anything.

Chelsea's firehouse pager went off. "Unit 37, you have a fully involved structure fire on Briar Lane."

As Captain of Biggin Hill First Aid Squad, she had certain duties. But she was also a firefighter and sometimes that took precedence. The shakiness of the dispatcher's voice told her this fire could be big.

So tonight she'd be a firefighter.

About The Author:

Chris Redding lives in New Jersey with her one husband, two kids, one dog, and three rabbits. When she isn't writing she's chauffeuring her two boys to activities and working per diem in her local hospital.

Website/Blog: http://chrisredddingauthor.blogspot.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/chrisreddingauthor

14 November 2012

Birthday Bash Blog Hop!

Howdy, howdy!

Today, I'm part of a birthday blog hop! Check out the link below to see what my favorite birthday was like (hint: it involves a goose), and to see a bit about one of my favorite books. Below is an ongoing blog story by   Mikela Chase. Enjoy!


Someone was hammering on the door.


“Go away.” Rhea yelled. Satisfied that the problem was solve she snuggled against the warmth beside her.


The hammering began again.

“Your majesty,” someone shouted.

“I said go away.” She peered out from the covers to see what she could throw.

The warm body beside her shook. She looked up to see he was laughing.

“What’s so funny?”

“You.” He pecked her cheek with a light kiss. “You’re adorable when you wake up.”

Hmm. People usually used the words “cranky bitch”.

It was a refreshing change.

“Your majesty.”

“Go away.” They yelled in unison.

Then it struck Rhea that she didn’t recognize the voice and her guards didn’t know where she was. For the first time she took in the lushness of her surroundings, the palatial size of the room and the richness of the bed coverings.

Glaciers formed in her stomach. “Please, please tell me you aren’t the prince.”

“All right. I’m not a prince.”

“Your majesty,” a guard shouted.

“Or the king,” Rhea insisted.

“Do you want me to lie to you darling?”

“Yes!” Rhea shouted.

He went still beside her but she could feel his muscles bunching.

With a fighter’s precision he flipped her beneath him. Once she was pinned beneath him he rubbed noses with her, a playful light in his eyes.

“I don’t lie.” A wide grin split his handsome face momentarily distracting her.

Rhea tried to lash her foot out and kick him but he had her pinned beneath the covers.

More pounding on the door. “Your majesties. A contingent of guards are out here and they are looking for her highness, the royal empress Rhea. Is she in there.”

If only she had a camera.

Was it even healthy for a man to turn that particular color?

Teven jumped off of her so fast she thought he was going to hurt himself.

“It’s not like I wanted to have sex with a king anyway,” Rhea snapped.

He didn’t even look at her. He was too busy slipping into clothes. Maybe he was going for the land speed record.

Was there one for dressing?

“Why didn’t you tell me you were an empress?” He demanded his green eyes spitting fire.

“I don’t know, your majesty. We weren’t really into the whole talking thing.”

Angry with herself for caring, Rhea slid into her own clothes and headed for the door.

A large hand grabbed her. “Where do you think you are going?”

Ouch that was going to bruise.

“To find my sister. Obviously we’re done here.”

He nodded. “Yes we should go make our announcements.”


“Listen, your majesty. I don’t know how it’s done in your world but in mine we don’t make announcements after we have sex. We just move on with our day.”

“Stop calling me, your majesty in that tone. And in my world we make announcements when two people are getting married.”

“Who’s getting married?”

“We are.” His lush mouth was firm and didn’t look the least bit tempting when such idiotic words came out of them.

07 November 2012

Review: Christie A.C. Gucker's The Cliff

Hello, hello! Today, I'm hosting a review and spotlight for The Cliff by Christie A.C. Gucker. There's also a giveaway associated with this tour, and I've included the Rafflecopter code to enter with. Enjoy!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

As an aside, I've been trying to upload images and the uploader isn't working. (Thanks, Blogger.) I'll try to add them first chance I get!


Can a childhood pact affect the lives of three adults?

Love and betrayal surrounds the lives of lifelong friends Lanie Rhodes, Grant Bennett, and Dane Voight. Years ago, they made a pact to remain together as friends forever. The boys also made another secret pact that same day—to never vie for Lanie’s love.

Grant and Lanie have secretly been pining for one another since they were children.

Now grown up, they finally admit their feelings for each other and what ensues is a twisted tale of deception as Dane does everything he can to stop them.

The story weaves around this uneven love triangle. What will happen to the pact? Will friendships be destroyed? Will lovers emerge?


The Cliff is an erotic romance novel revolving around a woman named Lanie, her lover named Grant, and a third wheel named Dane.

I was impressed with the quality writing in this novel. The author was able to effectively portray the intense feelings of the situations, especially where the romance is involved. Her erotic scenes are poignant and original. One rather traumatizing scene was written exquisitely.

Following this scene, however, I fell out of love with the characters. Well, two of the main characters. I found the heroine to be rather weepy, and the hero to be...well, just not as Alpha as I like. That's on me, though. The villain, at least for a short while, captured my attention and I enjoyed his portrayal until he went soft on me. There is no short supply of drama with this one, and with episode after episode I grew tired of it quickly. The first main trauma could easily have carried the characters through the book, and with only a week or so of time covered it would have been more than enough.

I will say this, though: the writing is strong and the storyline is original and compelling. In spite of me wanting to strangle Lanie, I did feel for her struggles at some level. It may not be as deep as the author intended, but it did impact me. If you enjoy good erotic scenes and can ignore the weepy scenes, this book is a good read.


“You go first,” I said.

“All right. I missed you so much these past six months,” he offered.

“I already know that; that doesn’t count.”

“But I don’t think you know the extent or how.”

“Okay . . . how then?”

“I don’t ever want you to be away again.”

“Grant, work will always cause one of us to travel for extended—” and he put a finger over my lips. I suddenly felt the urge to wrap my tongue around it.

“No, Lanie. I don’t ever want you to be away from me; never again. I missed you terribly.”

“Um, terribly?” God I was so lame. I stared into his eyes. The heat between us became intense. It was almost like electricity was crackling between us.

“Lanie, do I have to spell this out for you?”

“Yes, please. Spelling, definition, and then use it in a sentence.”

And then he  just kissed me. It was a soft, gentle kiss that sent a shock wave from my lips right to my girliest of girl parts. When he pulled away, not very far away, he just stared into my eyes with something that was not looking at me like a sister. What was he searching for?

“Could you please spell that again?” I murmured. He relaxed and laughed softly and kissed me again, this time allowing his tongue to brush across my bottom lip. I was melting.

It took everything not to pounce on him and do all the naughty things that were suddenly running through my head right there on my porch.

“Use it in a sentence, please.” I whispered with my eyes still closed, my head still tilted.

“Of course.” And he crushed his lips to mine, pulling my body against his. I was lost in him. His tongue began swirling with mine and my head began swirling, too. We remained in this sentence, which was slowly approaching a paragraph. I didn't care, I would have been happy kissing a novella with him.

When our lips finally parted, I wasn't sure what to do next. “Would you like to come in?” I sounded like a complete idiot.

“Lanie, I'm not sure this is right or wrong. I just know it's what I want. But I want to go very slowly. I don't ever want to hurt you or ruin things between us. Maybe not tonight. Promise you understand.”

I raised my right hand and stated, “I promise I understand.”

And then his lips were on mine again. I reached up and curled my fingers into his hair and drank him in. I wanted to pull him inside to see where this would go, but I had promised. So I released him.

About The Author:
Christie A. C. Gucker

Christie A.C. Gucker lives in NJ with her husband, two daughters and a menagerie of pets. Being a mother is one of the greatest joys of her life. She has worked in the advertising industry for over 20 years as a degreed artist, but also works in the fine arts, especially sculpting out of stone or snapping photographs. Christie is also a singer and musician, and can be found singing on a few CDs.
After the death of her father, Christie searched for something to fill her desire to make a mark in this world. Her love of the arts and creativity allowed her to search for a new medium, which she found with a pen instead of a brush. Being an avid reader her whole life, and with her family cheering her on, she decided to take her shot, and began writing.
Fascinated by the supernatural and sharks, Christie studies both avidly. You’ll be sure to find something spooky lurking somewhere in her stories. Her greatest joy is sitting on a beach with her family while surf fishing, flying kites or building sandcastles with her girls.

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