Sunday, November 30, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (76) + November Month in Review


 Stacking The Shelves, a weekly meme from Tynga's Reviews
where I list what I've read, what I've reviewed, what I've acquired
and anything else worth mentioning
  • Heat by KT Fisher
  • Breathe into Me by Nikki Drost
  • Unbroken by Olivia Leighton
  • Gathering Their Mates by ML Briers
  • Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle
  • Viscount Vagabond by Loretta Chase
  • Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase
  • Not Quite a Lady by Loretta Chase
  • Rules of Protection by Alison Bliss - recommend
  • Viking's Orders by Anne Marsh
  • Anomaly by Tonya Kuper - recommend and review to come
  • No One's Angel by Kelly Walker - reviewed



Trace Elements (A Gower and Saxon Book)
3 Star Review

Accidentally in Love with...a God? (Accidentally Yours, #1)
4 Star Review

Jagged (Colorado Mountain, #5)
4 Star Review


December Month in Review:

56 Books read
9 Reviews posted
3 - 3 star reviews
4 - 4 star reviews
2- 5 star reviews
*Book image property of Microsoft  

{Romantic Suspense Minute Review} Trace Elements (A Gower and Saxon Book) by Kate Donovan

Trace Elements (A Gower and Saxon Book)
Special Agent Annika Trace is the hottest thing in law enforcement—at least on TV. Her long legs, designer suits, and hunky sidekick have garnered millions of fans, one of whom—a four-year-old kidnap victim named Linzie—is refusing to talk to the real FBI. In desperation, Special Agent Trace—a.k.a. actress Nikki Gower—is called in to help.

Special Agent Josh Saxon became a hero when he brought Linzie back safely. Now he’s out to catch the kidnappers and doesn’t need some Hollywood caricature of a federal agent interfering in his case. But when Nikki establishes a rapport with the child, Josh admits she might just get him enough information to track down the culprits. And even as Josh and Nikki spar over the best way to get the job done, another rapport is being established—on a much more physical and decidedly more adult level—as Josh discovers firsthand how Nikki makes the airwaves sizzle.
(Blurb via Goodreads)
{Details} ebook, 188 pages. Published July 26th 2013 by Beyond the Page Publishing (first published July 24th 2013). Source: Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
{Rating} 3/5 - I liked it!
{Review}
I liked the premise of the novel, Nikki is an actress on a Bones-like television show though she's the one with the gun, and when a little girl who is one of Nikki's biggest fans is the victim of a crime the real FBI brings her in to help.

I'm a fan of the enemies into lovers trope and we get that in spades between the faux special agent and the real special agent. I liked Josh and Nikki together, they're good for each other, but I never really felt the emotional connection between them.

If you're looking for a bit of romance, a mystery, excitement and a bit of action check out Trace Elements.
 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

{Paranormal Romance Minute Review} Accidentally in Love with...a God? (Accidentally Yours #1) by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff


Accidentally in Love with...a God? (Accidentally Yours, #1)
Twenty-two-year-old Emma Keane has a secret friend. He’s powerful, mysterious, and devastatingly handsome. In her dreams, anyway.

In real life, he’s an enigma. Maybe just a teensie jealous. Definitely overbearing. He’s also a voice only she can hear.

So who or what is he? He won’t say. But if she wants to be free, to be normal, Emma will have to trek to the jungles once ruled by the Mayans and find the forgotten ruin holding the answers.

However, the ruthless deity she’s about to unknowingly unleash on the modern world, might not be so easily extracted from her life. Bottom line, he’s got enemies, and now, so does she.
(Blurb via Goodreads)
{Details} Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 294 pages. Published February 17th 2012 by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff (first published January 15th 2012) . Source: Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

{Rating} 4/5 - I really liked it!
 
{Review}
"Wasn't dating supposed to be fun?" (page 1, line 1)
The premise of the series is really interesting, gods, mortals, murder, death, mayhem, as is the book, normal girl hearing a voice in her head. But, oh yeah, the voice in her head? He's really a god.

Guy/Votan, aka the voice in Emma's head, is a god. He's got a god sized ego too. He's grumpy and he goes hot and cold and he definitely does not want Emma. At least that's what he tells himself. He's also uber-protective, determined and once in a while, sweet. 

Emma is a firecracker. She's spunky and defiant and of so confused about the voice in her head. A voice she likes and hates and when she meets the guy she's no less confused. Though she felt a little immature at times and has more than one 'too stupid to live' moment I still liked her.

I adored Mimi Jean Pamfiloff's sense of humor, she's sassy and smart and had me laughing out loud more than once. There's a bit of a cliffhanger at the end, more like a mini happily ever after followed by an event that shakes up that ever after, and it will make you want to read the next book in the series ASAP.

 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (75) Reborn (Altered #3) by Jennifer Rush



"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, created by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week I'm waiting on: 

Reborn (Altered, #3)

Reborn (Altered #3) by

An action-packed, romantic, and suspenseful third book in the Altered series.

The Branch is in shambles, but Anna, Sam, Cas, and Nick can't rest easy. Remnants of the organization lurk unseen and the flashbacks to their old lives are only getting stronger--especially Nick's.

Following scattered memories and clues from his Branch file, Nick sets off alone in search of answers and in search of the girl who haunts his dreams. But the sleepy town where she lives in full of secrets and Nick soon learns that uncovering their shared past may have deadly consequences.
(Blurb via Goodreads)

Expected publication: January 6, 2015
What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Teaser Tuesday (73) The Duchess War + Under Different Stars + Rules of Protection



Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read(s)
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) -- or less or more -- “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
"Just think of it, Your Grace. What am I to say? 'My name is Wilhemina Pursling, but you can call me Hell.'"

location 797, The Duchess War by Courtney Milan
"Touch her, and I will make sure that not even your soul will survive."
"If I touch her, she'll have my soul," Trey replies."
location 3010, Under Different Stars by Amy Bartol
"You're a real piece of work, you know that? You don't just burn bridges. Oh, no, not you, Emily ... You have to blow the sonofabitches up."

location 4503, Rules of Protection by Alison Bliss

{Release Day Launch + Giveaway} Fragile Reign (Mortal Enchantment) by Stacey O'Neale

Fragile Reign Release Day
I'm excited to take part in Stacey O'Neale's release day launch for FRAGILE REIGN! Check out the book below and be sure to enter the amazing giveaway!
Fragile Reign by Stacey O'Neale
It’s been a week since all hell broke loose… Rumors of King Taron’s weakened powers have left the air court vulnerable. Kalin is desperate to awaken her akasha powers, except she doesn’t know how. Tension within the court is at an all-time high. Pressure is mounting for her to ascend to the throne, but a halfling has never ruled over any court. To solidify her position, the council has advised her to marry Sebastian—a high ranking air elemental she’s never met and her betrothed. Will Kalin sacrifice her relationship with Rowan to strengthen her court? Rowan and Marcus return to a fire court in turmoil. Liana’s death has fueled the fire elementals’ distrust against the air and woodland courts. The unbalanced elements have set off natural disasters all over the mortal world. Rowan takes the throne to restore balance, promising to unite the fire court. But not all elementals are happy with his leadership. Many are secretly loyal to Valac, which means Rowan needs to find allies for his cause. Can Rowan unify the court of fire before the elements destroy the world? Goodreads | Amazon
If you haven't read Stacey's Mortal Enchantment series, you can get the first book for FREE on Amazon and Barnes & Noble! The Shadow Prince won GOLD at the 2014 Readers' Favorite Book Awards in the Short Story/Novella category!

MESFBCover.v3

Excerpt from FRAGILE REIGN

Rowan
After Marcus left, the lack of sleep and overuse of my power had finally caught up to me. My lids were heavy, making it hard to keep my eyes open. I laid down on the nearest bed, sinking into the softness of the vanilla scented pillows. I could rest here until tomorrow, and then meet Kalin on the beach at sundown. As I closed my eyes, I imagined her in that sexy sundress with the ocean breeze wafting through her red curls. My lips tingled remembering the raspberry taste of her kisses. With all this craziness going on, she was the one thing that made sense. The only person who could make me forget about everything for a little while. Kalin was the one I wanted. The only one I needed. I shook my head. What was wrong with me? It was too soon to be thinking about this stuff, right? It had only been a few weeks. And what did I know about real feelings, anyway? Had it not been for Marcus, I would never even know what it felt like to care for someone. Love was never part of my life. My mother thought love was a weakness—a totally worthless emotion compared to power and control. But that still didn’t explain how I was feeling. Why everything seemed better when Kalin was around. Why my fingers ached to touch her. Why her pain shattered me to the core. I put my hands over my face. Or, maybe the lack of sleep was making me delusional. With a smirk, I gave in to the darkness that was overwhelming me and fell asleep.

Stacey O'NealeAbout the Author

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads
Stacey O'Neale lives in Annapolis, Maryland. When she's not writing, she spends her time fangirling over books, blogging, watching fantasy television shows, cheering for the Baltimore Ravens, and hanging out with her husband and daughter. Her career in publishing started as a blogger-turned-publicist for two successful small publishers. Stacey writes young adult paranormal romance and adult science fiction romance. Her books always include swoon-worthy heroes, snarky heroines, and lots of kissing. Stacey loves hearing from readers. Follow her on Twitter @StaceyONeale, look for her on Facebook, Pinterest, and GoodReads. You can also visit her blog at http://staceyoneale.com/.

Giveaway

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Monday, November 24, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (56)

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme from Book Journey where we spotlight what we finished reading, are currently reading and plan to read next.
{Finished Reading}


Jagged (Colorado Mountain, #5)Her Best Shot (Hot & Nerdy, #1)

Under Different Stars (Kricket, #1)

{Currently Reading}

Princess Ever After (Royal Wedding, #2)

{Currently Listening To}

At Grave's End (Night Huntress, #3)

{What I'm Going to Read Next} 

Anomaly

What about you? What have you read lately? What's next on your list?

{Romance Review} Jagged (Colorado Mountain #5) by Kristen Ashley

Jagged (Colorado Mountain, #5)
An old flame rekindled . . .

Zara Cinders always knew Ham Reece was the one, but he wasn't interested in settling down. When she found someone who was, Ham walked out of her life. Three years later, Zara's lost her business, her marriage, and she's barely getting by in a tiny apartment on the wrong side of the tracks. As soon as Ham hears about Zara's plight, he's on her doorstep offering her a lifeline. Now, it will take every ounce of will power she possesses to resist all that he offers.

Ham was always a traveling man, never one to settle down in one town, with one woman, for more time than absolutely necessary. But Ham's faced his own demons, and he's learned a lot. About himself, and about the life he knows he's meant to live. So when he hears that Zara's having a rough time, he wants to be the one to help. In fact, he wants to do more than that for Zara. A lot more. But first, he must prove to Zara that he's a changed man.
(Blurb via Goodreads)
{Details} Kindle Edition, 345 pages. Published November 5th 2013 by Forever (first published January 1st 2013). Ebook provided in exchange for an honest review
 
{Rating} 4/5 - I really liked it!
 
{Review}
"My eyes opened and I saw dark." (page 1, line 1) 
Zara and Ham fight hard. They love hard. It's a long road to love, a hard, full out battle to a happily ever after. I'm not usually a big fan of reunited lovers story but from the very first page Kristen Ashley immersed me in the history, passion and pain between Zara and Ham. I couldn't put Jagged down until I knew how Zara and Ham's story ended. There's hot sex, ex drama, a lot of rehashing the past, family drama, an ex murderer and a fierce love story.

Ham is a total alpha male. He's controlling yes, but it comes from a place of love, a desire for Zara to be safe, secure, protected and happy. He messes up but he loves fiercely and completely. But  Ham? Zara's a sassy girl and that's the best nickname she could come up with? Definitely not sexy.

Zara has been through hell, the hows and whys of it are slowly revealed, but she never gives up. She keeps fighting as life kicks her knees out from her over and over again. She's always loved Ham, knew he was her forever, but he didn't feel the same way. Years passed and things changed and now Ham's back and she's still in love with him.

{Book Blitz + Giveaway} Winter Wolf (Witch & Wolf Book 2) by R.J. Blain

  Winter Wolf 
Winter Wolf (Witch & Wolf Book 2) by R.J. Blain

The Hunted Wizard When Nicole dabbled in the occult, she lost it all: Her voice, her family, and her name. Now on the run from the Inquisition, she must prove to herself—and the world—that not all wizards are too dangerous to let live. The savage murder of a bookstore employee throws Nicole into the middle of Inquisition business, like it or not. Driven by her inability to save the young man’s life, she decides to hunt the killer on her own. Using forbidden magic to investigate the past, she learns that the murderer is in fact a disease that could kill the entire werewolf race. Forced to choose between saving lives and preserving her own, Nicole embraces the magic that sent her into exile. Without werewolves, the power of the Inquisition would dwindle, and she could live without being hunted. Nicole’s only hope for success lies in the hands of the werewolves she hates and the Inquisition she fears, but finding someone to trust is only the beginning of her problems. There are those who want to ensure that the werewolves go extinct and that the Inquisition falls. But, if she fails to find a cure, her family—including her twin sister—will perish…  
Excerpt Almost everyone in the store had a phone. Dormant devices, from reading lights to mobile chargers, littered the tables. One woman, browsing books nearby, had four battery-powered devices in her purse. One was a phone, and like mine, it hungered. Its need was strong; its battery waned to the point of failure. If I wanted, I could charge it for her. No one would notice if I did. Maybe the woman would wonder how her phone hadn’t died before she got home. It only had a few minutes left. It’d take me all of ten seconds to fix it for her. If I did, I wouldn’t be so aware of it. But to do so, I’d have to touch her—or her phone. Some things I could manipulate without having a direct conduit, but cell phone batteries were tricky, greedy things. I cringed a little, setting the thriller book down. I picked up the next nearest title. I flipped it over, not reading the text on the back. Did I dare? Out of the corner of my eye, I watched the woman browsing through the books. All it would take was a few seconds. I could charge it without her noticing. That was one thing I was actually good at. I put the novel I held down and wandered to the same table, careful not to look at her. Book by book, I investigated the titles, circling to where she stood. “You’re Nicole Thomas, aren’t you? The actress. You’re her.” My quarry appraised me with a pleased expression. People normally recognized the mainliners, people with beautiful faces and voices to match, people who didn’t avoid crowds. In short, people other than me. I met her gaze, abandoning my perusal of novels. “I am,” I replied, wincing a little at the sandpaper-rough quality of my voice. At least I hadn’t been reduced to a whisper—yet. My fatal flaw was my rough, grating voice. Chronic laryngitis did that to a person. It ruined careers, as it had mine, though I hadn’t quite given up on being an actress. I’d already lost the ability to sing. I wasn’t going to let a stupid disease take everything away from me. The woman smiled, not seeming to mind talking to someone who sounded more like a zombie than a human. “You’re taller than I expected. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” She thrust out her hand. We shook. I left her phone alone. “They keep putting me next to giants,” I quipped. It was true. When I did manage to get on the silver screen, I worked alongside actors easily a foot-and-a-half taller than me. “It’s a pleasure to meet you too.” I matched her smile. She didn’t tell me her name, and I didn’t ask for it. It took all of my will not to fiddle with her phone. All it would take was a murmured word and a thought, and it’d be done. It would have been easy to charge the battery when our hands had been clasped together, but I hadn’t dared. If, sometime later, she noticed her phone had magically been charged—literally—she might remember me. She knew my name. And in true cowardice, I couldn’t bring myself to help her. If she connected the strange behavior of her phone with me, she might tell someone. If she did, I’d be as good as dead—or worse. I had dabbled in the occult, and the occult had dabbled back, and there were those who didn’t like when that happened. The last thing I needed was them finding me.

 Author RJ Blain 

Author R.J. Blain RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning. When she isn't playing pretend, she likes to think she's a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband. She is currently on a quest for a new warrior fish. In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.  

Favorite Books & Series In no particular order: Anne McCaffrey's Pern Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar & Gryphon Series Jim Butcher's Codex Alera & The Dresden Files Brandon Sanderson's Elantris Patricia Briggs' Alpha and Omega, Dragon Bones, & The Mercy Thompson series Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time

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        Blast Giveaway $100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/16/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.    a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (75)


 Stacking The Shelves, a weekly meme from Tynga's Reviews
where I list what I've read, what I've reviewed, what I've acquired
and anything else worth mentioning
  • The Duchess War by Courtney Milan - recommend
  • Taste by Cambria Hebert - recommend
  • The Listeners by Jo Cole - recommend
  • Bear Biker Love by Harper Ashe
  • Vampires Need Not ... Apply? by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff - recommend and review to come
  • Under Different Stars by Amy A. Bartol - recommend and review to come
  • Broken Hart by Ella Fox
  • Fangs of Anarchy by Dakota Cassidy
  • Rocked in the Dark by Clara Bayard
  • Just You by Rebecca Phillips
  • Part Time Princess by Pamela DuMond - recommend and review to come 
  • Accidentally in Love With ... A God? By Mimi Jean Pamfiloff - recommend and review to come 
  • Touched by Vicki Green
  • Thursday Nights by Lisa N Paul
  • The Games We Play Vol. 1 by Elizabeth Nelson
  • Hard Rocked by Clara Bayard
  • Jagged by Kristen Ashely - recommend and review to come 
  • Lucas by L.J. Dee - recommend


Her Best Shot (Hot & Nerdy, #1)

3 Star Review

Undertow, Wunderland #1 (NA Contemporary Romance)
3 Star Review

*Book image property of Microsoft  

Friday, November 21, 2014

First Line Friday (51) Under Different Stars (Kricket #1) by Amy A. Bartol



First Line Friday is a meme hosted on Rampant Readers, where we share the first line of the novel we a currently reading in order to pique the interest of other readers like you. So basically, we just share the first sentence or two of the novel you are currently reading, and tell us whether or not it hooked you in!

The book:



Under Different Stars (Kricket, #1)

Under Different Stars (Kricket #1) by

All she wants is a home, but can she find one...UNDER DIFFERENT STARS

Kricket Hollowell is normally not one to wish upon stars; she believes they’re rarely in her favor. Well versed at dodging caseworkers from Chicago’s foster care system, the past few years on her own have made Kricket an expert at the art of survival and blending in. With her 18th birthday fast approaching, she dreams of the day when she can stop running and find what her heart needs most: a home.

Trey Allairis hates Earth and doubts that anyone from his world can thrive here. What he’s learning of Kricket and her existence away from her true home only confirms his theory. But, when he and Kricket lie together under the stars of Ethar, counting them all may be easier than letting her go.

Kyon Ensin’s secrets number the stars; he knows more about Kricket's gifts than anyone and plans to possess her because of them. He also knows she’s more valuable than any fire in the night sky. He’ll move the heavens and align them all in order to make her his own.

When everything in their world can be broken, will Kricket rely upon love to save her under different stars?
(Blurb via Goodreads)
 The first line(s): 

"Flipping a coin into the air, I watch as it arches toward the cascading water of the fountain."

Hooked?
Interested.
Join the fun, link up at Rampant Readers

{First Chapter Reveal + Giveaway} The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl by Leigh Statham

M9B-Friday-Reveal
Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!
This week, we are revealing the first chapter for

The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl by Leigh Statham

presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
The Perilous Journey
Lady Marguerite lives a life most 17th century French girls can only dream of: Money, designer dresses, suitors and a secure future. Except, she suspects her heart may be falling for her best friend Claude, a common smithie in the family’s steam forge. When Claude leaves for New France in search of a better life, Marguerite decides to follow him and test her suspicions of love. Only the trip proves to be more harrowing than she anticipated. Love, adventure and restitution await her, if she can survive the voyage.
add to goodreads
Title: THE PERILOUS JOURNEY OF
THE NOT-SO-INNOCUOUS GIRL
Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Leigh Statham
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Excerpt

The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl
Leigh Statham
Chapter One
Marguerite held the brass cricket gingerly in her hands. She kept it tucked under the table while she turned it over, her fingers blindly memorizing every feature. She knew it was childish for a sixteen-year-old to have a favorite toy, but she couldn’t help it. The design fascinated her. Occasionally she would trip the mechanism and the cricket literally sprang to life, launching itself against the underside of the table with a loud knock.
“What was that?” Madame Pomphart cried.
Marguerite caught the little metal bug with one hand and tucked it into the folds of her skirts. “Nothing,” she lied.
“I heard a noise.” The sour-faced governess slapped the desk with her pointer and stepped closer. “What are you hiding?”
Marguerite didn’t flinch. “You must be hearing things again. You are getting rather old.”
Madame Pomphart swung her pointer, making sound contact with Marguerite's shoulder.
“Ah!” Marguerite grabbed her shoulder and jumped to her feet, knocking her chair over. She quite forgot about the little toy cricket which launched right at the governess’s face.
“What? Oh!” Madame Pomphart batted the air and stumbled backward, dropping her stick as the cricket ricocheted off her nose and landed at Marguerite’s feet. “How dare you bring vermin into my classroom? Your father will hear about this. Lord Vadnay will not be pleased!”
Marguerite scooped up her prize and ran for the door, grateful for the chance to escape.
“Get back here or you’ll receive double lashings!”
It was too late. Marguerite ran much faster than her teacher and was already halfway down the wide corridor. Lined with portraits of long-dead relatives and her father’s collection of modern weaponry, each display tempted her with thoughts of challenging the governess to a duel. She could easily scoop up one of the automated cat-o-nine-tails and turn back to the classroom. She rather fancied the idea, actually. But it wasn't the right time or the right way to handle her heavy-handed caretaker, and honestly, she wasn't quite brave enough to do more than talk back—not yet.
Her fear began to lift as she lightly descended the grand curving stairway to the ballroom, sprinting over the marble tiles and through the large doors to the gardens. The French summer sun blinded her. Marguerite blinked as she continued to run around the fountain filled with automated koi. A servant perched on the edge of the large pool, brass fish in hand. Its tail clicked furiously back and forth as he tried to oil it. The late-summer roses bloomed bright with color all around her. Butterflies seemed to flit merrily on every blossom, cheering her on. Human and automaton servants worked side by side grooming the large hedges … They jumped out of her way and bowed. None of them seemed surprised to see the young lady of the house running out of doors and they all knew where she was headed.
She tried to slip away to the cool shelter of the small glen beyond the lavender fields every chance she could, but since her father came up with the idea that she needed to be a “real lady,” it had become more difficult to sneak away.
At this point, she could have stopped. Pomphart wouldn’t follow her now, but it felt so good to move quickly after being at a table all morning. Her heart beat like an auto-hammer in her chest by the time she reached the work fields. More automatons and human servants stopped and bowed to the master’s daughter. Marguerite paid them no attention.
Finally reaching the small grove of trees, she flopped merrily on the soft grass and took a deep breath, then giggled to herself. She was safe, for now. The wind picked up and tousled the leaves overhead, sending bits of sunlight swimming wildly around her. The grass outside the glen rustled under the heavy thud of work boots: Claude.
“Hullo!” His voice sounded merry as he peered through the low branches that poked and tickled at the earth, surprised to see her there so early. “How’d you manage to beat me?” His wavy, light brown hair was just shaggy enough to soften his strong jaw and angular nose. His cheek was smeared with gear oil, right up to the corner of his smiling blue eyes. He was too tall for his work trousers and his chest had grown too broad for his cotton shirt. The buttons tugged a bit, but he wasn’t the type to care about his clothes. He pulled his welding goggles off of his head and wiped the sweat on his brow with the arm of his shirt.
“I ran.” She smiled wickedly.
Claude flopped down in the grass beside her. “That’s not very ladylike, and Pomphart doesn’t usually let you out till half past.”
“I had to run after this marvelous toy you made for me attacked her.” She held up the cricket like a prize gem freshly plucked from the earth.
“Marguerite!” he cried. “I asked you to keep it safe, not use it to get yourself tossed out of ladyhood!”
“It was an accident. I swear. The lessons are just so boring. I needed something to do, so I had it under the table. She’s such a brute. You should have seen how she hit me with her blasted pointer.”
“She struck you again?” his face turned dark.
“Yes, but it's nothing, just a welt on the shoulder.” The last thing she wanted was to be the damsel in distress.
“Still.” Claude's brow furrowed. “It's not right. Ladies don't strike other ladies. Please keep good care of that little bug. It took me a long time to build and I didn’t record the plans. I may need to borrow it back someday.”
“All right.” Disappointed at his lack of enthusiasm for her naughtiness, she carried on. “But you should have seen her face! If only I could have a portrait made of that. I’d hang it over my bed and have a miniature made to keep by my heart.”
A nasally voice attached to a pointy-faced, pale girl in bright pink skirts burst through the cool glen. “Whose miniature are you keeping by your heart? You haven’t even had your ball yet.”
“Hello, Vivienne.” Marguerite sighed without enthusiasm.
“Marguerite has just sealed her doom,” Claude chimed in. “She threw the cricket I made her at Pomphart’s face today, so there may not be a ball.”
“That’s rubbish! I did no such thing. It just got away from me and bounced right off her nose.” Marguerite laughed again while recalling the image, but Claude’s words made her a bit nervous.
“Oh dear,” cried Vivienne. “What are you going to do?”
Of course Vivienne would make a big deal out of it, Marguerite didn’t expect anything less from her childish neighbor.
“I’m not sure. That’s why I came straight here.” She turned pointedly to Claude. “I thought you’d want to celebrate my freedom and take the rest of the day off.”
Claude was quick to reply, “I’m afraid I can’t. Lots to be finished at the forge and I am on stall-mucking duty with the bots.”
“What do you possibly have to finish at the forge that’s so important?”
Claude raised his eyebrows at her. “A certain girl’s father has requested automatic serving dishes made of twenty-four-karat gold for her introduction to society.”
“Oh my!” Vivienne drew a dramatic breath. “How elegant. I so wish I were old enough to come.”
“Don’t worry,” Marguerite patted the girl’s knee, “I’m sure you can borrow them for your own ball.”
“Marguerite … ” Claude hissed at her.
It wasn’t a very kind thing to say, but Marguerite had never been very fond of Vivienne. She mostly endured her company because she was the only girl within a hundred miles that was close to the same age and station as Marguerite. That, and Claude had insisted she be kind to her.
“You’re right, Claude.” Marguerite smiled in repentance. “I’m sure your father will have loads of wonderful things for the guests to marvel at when your time comes, Vivienne. Still, it would be nice to have both of you there. I suppose I will be forced to talk to strangers.”
“I can’t believe you’re not excited!” Vivienne chattered. “New dresses! Handsome suitors!”
“I am excited,” Marguerite cut her off, “to have it over and done with! Dressing up might be fun, but dressing up to catch a man is not my idea of a good time.”
“Don’t be vulgar.” Vivienne blushed. “It’s not like that at all.”
Claude cut in, “I’d love to stay and discuss this matter with you girls, but I do have a few chafing dishes waiting for their motors in the shop.”
Marguerite tensed at the thought of not only being left alone with Vivienne, but also being without Claude’s protection should Pomphart come looking for her. “Do you think I could come help you at the forge today?”
“Not if you want me to get anything done.” Claude smiled merrily.
“Stop it! You know I’m a whiz with gear-work.”
“When you are actually interested in the work, yes, but I’m afraid that auto-spoons and brass tureens would bore you to death.”
Marguerite tried to make her eyes look large and beseeching, but she knew it was no use.
“No. But you can walk me there. I forgot my lunch anyway,” Claude said as he reached to help Marguerite up.
“I didn’t exactly have time to grab a snack as I fled the dungeons,” Marguerite quipped.
“Oh! I know!” Vivienne was bursting. “Let’s have lunch in town today. You’re not going back to your lessons are you? And Claude is busy with work. It will be such fun girl time!”
Marguerite sighed, but Vivienne was right. There was no way for her to return to the estate house without being trapped by Pomphart, and she had nothing to do if Claude insisted on finishing his chores. Still, she was uneasy about the idea of being on her own with Pomphart’s wrath hovering around an unknown corner waiting to pounce. The woman was ruthless when no one of importance was watching. She had a way of getting Marguerite off on her own and exacting whatever form of punishment she felt was suitable for the crime. Marguerite tried to complain to her father, but he wouldn’t listen, he thought Marguerite just didn’t want lessons anymore.
Claude knew all of this and sensed her fears in her quiet gaze.
“Come with me, both of you. I have someone I want you to meet.” Claude smiled.
Marguerite jumped up at his tug, tossed her wavy brown hair, and set her skirts aright, glad someone was helping her make up her mind. “Very well.”
“Hooray! Oh, I know just the place,” Vivienne said. “There is a new little patisserie I saw the other day I’ve been aching to try.” She skipped up the hill ahead of the other two, babbling on about buns and cakes and half sandwiches.
Claude reached for Marguerite’s arm and squeezed a bit. He used this gesture when he was about to chastise her, but she didn’t think she’d been that rude to Vivienne. The girl got on her nerves with every word, but her intentions were good and Marguerite wasn’t cruel by nature, just impatient.
“What?” she hissed.
“I have some news, but I wanted to tell you first.”
“Oh?” Relieved not to be in trouble, but also perplexed, Marguerite wished more now than ever that Vivienne would just skip into oblivion with her bouncy blonde curls and scattered thoughts.
“Yes. You know how we spoke a few weeks ago about my plans?”
“Did you find a position in Paris?” Marguerite could scarcely contain herself. Her friend was so talented, and she knew better than anyone that he was wasted working as a bondservant on her father’s estate. If he could secure an apprenticeship in Paris he could come back to La Rochelle as a master tradesman. Plus she could visit him there. Still, apprenticeships were hard to come by.
“No, I think it’s better than that.”
“What could be better than Paris?” In her mind, crowds of well-dressed ladies paraded down glittering avenues while the latest autocarts passed by in a blur of technology and innovation. Paris was the hub of all things Marguerite admired.
“I’ve signed into His Majesty’s service. As of next week, I’ll be an official member of the Royal Corp of Engineers.”
“You what?” She was stunned. It took her a moment to sort out her emotions. How could he have made this type of decision without consulting her? They had shared everything since they discovered each other as bored children on the estate a decade ago.
“I knew you’d be angry with me for not telling you beforehand, but an opportunity just presented itself and I knew it was right—I had to take it.”
“No, I’m not angry at all. Just shocked. You know how my father feels about the military.”
“But you see, that’s just it. I won’t have to worry about your father anymore, I won’t owe him anything. My first assignment is to New France.”
“Are you two coming or not? I’m starved!” Vivienne had doubled back when she realized she was talking to herself.
Marguerite wasn’t sure she could eat or talk at that moment. She wasn’t sure she could even take another step.

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author
L. Statham
Leigh Statham was raised in the wilds of rural Idaho, but found her heart in New York City. She worked as a waitress, maid, artist, math teacher, nurse, web designer, art director, thirty-foot inflatable pig and mule wrangler before she settled down in the semi-quiet role of wife, mother and writer. She resides in North Carolina with her husband, four children, five chickens and two suspected serial killer cats. If the air is cool and the sun is just coming up over the horizon, you can find her running the streets of her small town, plotting her next novel with the sort of intensity that will one day get her hit by a car.
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Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

{NA Minute Review} Her Best Shot (Hot & Nerdy #1) by Shannyn Schroeder


Her Best Shot (Hot & Nerdy, #1)
With college graduation looming, three childhood friends vow to make spring break their last blast of pure fun. But at least one of them didn’t count on such incredible heat…

Layla Sharpe is definitely more math ninja than bikini babe, and her future has been calculated with razor precision. Convinced to let loose over spring break, Layla is finally ready to party—until her car breaks down halfway to her destination, leaving her stranded in Georgia with a mouthwateringly hot pool shark. She knows more than enough about angles to learn the game, but this week she wants him to appreciate her curves…

Phin Marks has never met a girl like Layla. She’s more Star Wars geek than seductress, and when he offers her a place to stay while her car is in the shop, he’s counting on the attraction between them to set the nights ablaze, no strings attached. But every moment he spends with Layla makes it harder to let her go. Can he persuade her to gamble in the most dangerous way possible…on forever?
(Blurb via Goodreads)
{Details} ebook, 130 pages. Published September 29th 2014 by eKensington. Source: ebook provided in exchange for an honest review

{Rating} 3/5 - I liked it!

{Review}
"Layla Sharpe held her composure until she reached her car." (page 1, line 1)
A quick, steamy and fun read. Layla is a smart girl, a girl who doesn't fail, a girl who thinks she has her life planned out. But then her car breaks down on the way to spring break and she meets Phin. Phin - love the name - plays pool, moves a lot, he's a lot like the gypsy he used to be. Their relationship is hot and intense but is it just a spring break fling or is it something real?