Blog Tour+Review+Giveaway: The Black Lily by Juliette Cross

The Black Lily

by Juliette Cross
Publication Date: March 27, 2017
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Select Otherworld, Paranormal, Historical, Vampires, Cinderella Retelling

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SYNOPSIS:

Cinderella like you’ve never seen before…

With the threat of the vampire monarchy becoming stronger every day, the Black Lily must take drastic measures. As the leader of the underground resistance, Arabelle concocts the perfect idea to gain the attention of the Glass Tower. Her plan? Attend the vampire prince’s blood ball and kill him. Fortunately for Prince Marius, her assassination goes awry, and Arabelle flees, leaving behind only her dagger.

Marius is desperate to find the woman whose kiss turned into attempted murder, hunting for the mysterious assassin he can’t push out of his mind. But what he uncovers could change the course of his life forever…

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Review

She was a fiery beauty in the cold darkness, a beating heart among the lifeless, mundane world he knew too well.

Wow! This book starts with a BANG, and it doesn’t let up until the last page. I was so sad when it was over. The Black Lily is an exhilarating adventure that I can’t wait to re-explore.

Oh, what a merry chase our Arabelle gives the prince and his army. This girl has gumption out to the wazoo! I was so impressed by her. The story opens with her attempt to assassinate the prince, and she’s so self-assured and shows such badassery. She’s not afraid to use all weapons at her disposal to complete her task. Arabelle escapes by the skin of her teeth that night, and I was so excited to see the firecracker side of her. This girl has got it goin’ on! I laughed at how she keeps Marius (and really, the whole vampire community) on their toes.

And Marius? He completely knocks the wind out from Arabelle’s sails…by just being himself.

As soon as he catches sight of her at his ball, Marius is hooked. Arabelle is the last person he should want. She’s the Black Lily, the leader causing the uprising against the vampires. But when has that ever stopped love? Never, that’s when!

Marius doesn’t expect her complete hatred of his people, and even though Arabelle almost succeeds in killing him, it rejuvenates him almost. It’s a challenge he can’t help but rise to, and it opened him as a character. There’s a lot going on in the kingdom that he is unaware of, and Arabelle doesn’t fear showing him. I was on the edge of my seat every time they had a confrontation, and I couldn’t wait to see who came out on top. There’s an animal magnetism between them, a searching and meeting of wills.

Once in a blue moon, I’ll find a book that captures me heart and soul. This book is it. Arabelle astounded me with her fiery strength, with her vulnerability. Marius was dashing and daring and so sweet, it made my teeth ache. The Black Lily kept me anticipating every new page because it’s flowing with color and charm, with purpose. Overall, it’s a riot to read–Cinderella set in the dark, enticing woods of Maleficent.

I’m eagerly awaiting the next in this series. One of my favorite reads this year by far! 

ABOUT JULIETTE CROSS

Juliette is a multi-published author of paranormal and urban fantasy romance. She calls lush, moss-laden Louisiana home where she lives with her husband, four kids, and black lab named Kona. From the moment she read JANE EYRE as a teenager, she fell in love with the Gothic romance–brooding characters, mysterious settings, persevering heroines, and dark, sexy heroes. Even then, she not only longed to read more books set in Gothic worlds, she wanted to create her own.

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Review: Rough & Tumble by Rhenna Morgan

“I think you’ve already got a clear picture in your head.”
“I’ve got an outline. I want you to color it in for me.”

Jace is the ultimate alpha male. Someone who’s protective; someone who would do anything for those he loves. Abrupt and honest, but able to stand back and allow his heroine to find her own strength and glory in it.

My heart’s still wrenching from the feels in this one.

roughtumbleVivienne spends her weekends saving her sister from one disastrous party to the next. It’s why she hides her own inner wild child, locking that part in one room of the staid townhome she can barely afford. It’s safer that way. That changes the night Callie’s SOS leads Viv to The Den where she faces an adversary who sees beneath her uppity suits and no-nonsense hairstyle. She shoves down the attraction. She’s never going to see him again anyway. Only an event planning opportunity comes up and Jace is behind it, offering her a lot more than business.

Jace takes one look at Viv and knows underneath there is something hot, aggressive, and his. It’s why when Viv agrees to plan some events for him and his brotherhood, Jace makes a bid for her. He prods here and pushes there until he insinuates himself into her life only to find he’s as hooked as she is.

If only Callie’s bad decisions and the enemy out for Jace’s blood didn’t threaten Vivienne’s safety. He’ll do anything to keep Viv, and when he brings her into the fold of Haven, the last thing Vivienne wants to do is leave.

She seriously needed to get a grip on her taste in men. Suits and education were a much safer choice. Manners and meaningful conversation. Not bloody T-shirts, smoky bars and panty-melting grins.

I adored Viv. She’s a smart, strong heroine and with Jace being so bold, she needed to be. The first time they meet, she’s entranced by the big, scowling hunk with the wicked tattoo. But he’s caring too. He handles Viv’s drunk sister and watches over Viv herself. These two were well-matched!

I also like how Viv’s insecurity doesn’t drag the pace of the story down. Viv knows her failings and owns up to them. Years of forcing herself into a mold only makes falling for Jace that much sweeter.

Jace has his own problems in the beginning. He owns other establishments besides the bar, but the bad PR (drug deals and fights) means his name stays out of the others. It made me so angry on his behalf and increased the tension on all sides.

Then there’s his pursuit of Viv. The only way he’ll get his chance with her is if he forces the proximity and boy, does he ever! Jace is honest to a fault, and while he accepts Viv’s distance, he’s always waiting in the wings, urging her to fly.

And then Jace says things like this that batter down Viv’s walls:

I’m not afraid to mix pleasure with my business, but I want to make sure you’re grounded in how much value you bring to the table before I show you how it’s done.

Hot. Dawg. (That’s written in my notes.) I’ve heard my share of lines before, but these are genuine and heartfelt and just so Jace. From the very beginning, he makes sure Vivienne knows the score. How refreshing is this? An alpha male that doesn’t go anywhere near the alphahole category. It sets the tone for the sweet and the smexy with a side bit of kink.

The secondary cast of Haven is to die for as well, and I can’t wait to see these men in action!

So, if you’re looking for a hot, badass alpha with a heart of gold who listens and challenges and just gets the smart and sassy heroine – you know, mixing a bit of his business with a whole lot of pleasure (ha! See what I did there?) – I’d get that one click finger ready for Rough & Tumble.

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*This was reviewed by Michaelene for the Alpha Book Club, and you can find the cross-post here.*

ARC Review: Hard Wired by Santino Hassell and Megan Erickson

I have adored this entire series and Hard Wired (Can we all admit that Hassell and Erickson’s title game is on point?) follows this pattern. Hold on to your angst meters, ya’ll. Things are about to get complicated!

33642764Ian is at FallenCon to do his drawings as Cerise (the emo, playboy artist) and meet his Twitch mod team as Cherrycakes (the cheery blonde-haired girl.) And then, downplay the fact that he’s not the cheery blonde-haired girl the other mods expect. His plans are shot to hell when he looks up and locks eyes with Jesse Garvy. The same Jesse that Ian has been crushing on hard.

This was supposed to be my unveiling. The day I finally stopped hiding behind an anonymous avatar and let everyone in Kai’s channel know about the other side of me. But I’d hoped…that somehow Jesse would know on his own.

To tell or not to tell? Ian chokes back the confession. The problem? Jesse is as sweet and charming offline as he on it, and Ian ends up ravishing the blonde surfer babe against a wall.

Now, what?

Jesse is fascinated by Ian with his tattoos and his black hair and his complete and utter talent. When Ian gives Jesse his first experience with a guy? He’s all in. If only he didn’t find Ian – aka Cerise, aka Cherrycakes -are all one and the same.

This story tore out my heart while slowly rebuilding it piece by agonizing piece. Ian hides behind Cerise, and when we learn the why of it, it wrecked me. He needs it to feel safe. When Jesse wants Ian to be Ian, he bolts. I wanted to give Ian a big hug at the same time I wanted to kick his hiney into gear and tell him to go get his man!

The split personalities of Cherrycakes/Cerise/Ian did confuse me at first, and I believe focusing on two personas might have uncomplicated the story a bit. That said, this is a key part of Ian’s character. This crippling, social anxiety is something he deals with every day. Without them, the story would have lost some of its magic.

There was no such thing as identifying someone by their fucking soul, but it was easy to trick yourself into thinking such things were possible when you lived your life primarily within the pages of manga, fanfic, and original slash.

Then there’s Jesse. He’s one of the most forthright and charming individuals I’ve come across in a romance novel. While he can’t stand up to his parents (who take advantage of his sweet soul), Jesse has no issues taking Ian to task. I was actually surprised by this because I, too, bought into Cerise’s outgoing personality. But that’s not Ian, and I love that Jesse became the aggressor. I didn’t expect him to be, and part of that is because he is so self-conscious. Jesse lacks the confidence to start his own Youtube channel (his dream) and almost sabotages himself. He wants to move to LA with his cousin, instead of working at a surf shop and bailing his parents out of debt.

I haven’t seen another series or book in romance tackle the gaming community so well and so succinctly, and while I am not caught up on all the players and how streaming works, the background is given in such a way that I understood the gist of it. It interested me enough that I even looked up Twitch and watched a few streams. Side note: it’s quite fascinating! Props to the authors on that!

This in-depth look into online and offline communication added another layer to this book, and boy, can these two make use of communication! Um…also? Phone sex, anyone? 😉 It also gave the opportunity to develop Ian further as a character. He has to draw the line between his online persona and the Ian he saves for Jesse.

While the romance portion is front and center, I found that the emotional, individual journeys were the primary focus for me. We see how they each heal the other, together. It’s relatable; it’s heartbreaking; it’s an essential part of them both.

That is a version of romance I think we can all relate with and strive for.

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are 100% mine. Hard Wired is book 3 in the Cyberlove series and can be read as a standalone (although, I would recommend reading them all. They’re AWESOME!) Hard Wired releases February 7th.*

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ARC Review: The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian

30226770Cat Sebastian has done something for the romance genre with The Lawrence Browne Affair – and in particular, this historical period – that few have done in the market thus far. It has added diversity that’s needed while giving us all the essential elements of a great romance. I am so happy I found this one!

Lawrence and Georgie are the perfect match right from the beginning. I simply can’t resist a broody hero, but Lawrence is more than that. He’s sequestered himself alone, living in a broken down home, and thinking he’s mad simply because he desires men. How can you not just want to hug this man? This sweet person who doesn’t understand how amazing he is?

Don’t worry. It’s Georgie to the rescue. He’s funny, snarky and brutally honest. He made this book for me! In one scene, they are working on Lawrence’s experiments – yes, Lawrence is super sexy smart and handy too! – and Georgie sends him a message. Two words, and Ack! The tension killed me. I just wanted to shout, “Atta boy, Georgie! Get your man!” And when Lawrence reins in his ghosts and throws around his brute strength and title…watch out!

Their story is the perfect mix of sweet and spicy, and any book that makes me sigh in happiness is a 5-star read for me. It’s books like these that have me so excited for the historical fiction genre as a whole as much as it cements my love for them.

I highly recommend this one!

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Review:Becoming a Legend by Sarah Robinson

There are just some books that bring a whole new definition to the term “book hangover.” Becoming a Legend by Sarah Robinson is one of those books. It gives all the feels and hours later, I am still living in the Kavanagh world.

41d7qry9lilOh, these two! Right out of the gate, they have such a dialogue with each other. Kade has it bad for Nora, and Nora rebuffs him like it’s her day job! Unfortunately for Nora, there is something about him. I just knew they were going to throw down eventually (both in and out of the bedroom, that is). It’s simply a matter of when, and it happens quite quickly. At first, I worried that the plot might stall out.

I was so glad to be wrong.

Their chemistry is off the charts, both complimenting each other so well. Nora is a sweet character, but her mother (ugh! her horrid mother!) makes her feel unworthy. I’ll be honest and say I have never cried so much throughout a book. Nora’s history is heartbreaking, and Kade’s honesty and openness are just what she needs. Kade breaks right through those barriers of hers. (He’s secretly the biggest softie!)

Kane pulled her grip from the sheets and intertwined their fingers. He traced the edge of her ear with his tongue, and his breath warmed her neck as he whispered, “Anchor yourself to me, Nora. Nothing else. Only me.”

See what I mean? Such sweet, intimate moments where Kade completely steals my heart! I would give an I just love this book” sigh and then the sex would be steaming hot followed by another, “Awww, he’s just so sweet!”

But Nora definitely holds her own, and they are well matched. Kade can be a little bit of a bad boy and instead of getting on his case about it, she accepts it and gets a lot more confident and playful than she has with other men. Their banter was laugh-out-loud funny. In one part, Kade offers to help Nora with her studies:

Her eyes flickered down to his lips, then back up to meet his gaze. She straightened her shoulders and exhaled. “Let me guess, you’ll quiz me, and for each wrong answer I give, I’ll have to take off something I’m wearing?”

Kane’s mouth parted and his eyes widened as he considered the image she’d just painted for him. “Hell, Kitty, I was genuinely offering to help, but your idea is so much better. Let’s go with that.”

One of my favorite scenes involves a reference to The Princess Bride. They’re both secretly a little nerdy and quirky, and I love it! It had me giggling like a loon and grinning at their antics.

And I was astounded by how forward they both were. They communicated, and I loved that there weren’t any misunderstandings. They had each other’s back. They know what they want and when they make up their minds to go after it, it is electric.

They are electric.

This book had it all. This was the first book in the Kavanagh Legends series that I have read, and I have already ordered the previous two. I recommend this book so hard, and I dare you not to fall for the Kavanagh brothers.

I know I have.

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Review: Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt

Every once in awhile, a book comes along that reminds me why I fell in love with the romance genre to begin with and where the true meaning of romance comes out: that you’re good enough as you are; that you are accepted as you are; that you are worthy of love.

Just as you are.

Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt is that book for me.

And honestly, I knew before picking up this book that it would go straight to my keeper shelf. Ms. Hoyt always astounds with her remarkable details and depth of feeling. I didn’t expect, however, for this book to have such a profound impact on me.

My Review

imagesInitially, I read the book for Hugh. Readers are introduced to him in the previous book as the King’s acknowledged bastard, and he is a widow with two sons – children who hardly know him. He is an enigma I wanted to solve, and I did adore him. Alf, however, stole the story for me.

This is, quite simply, a coming-of-age story that had me charmed from the very beginning. Alf has spent the last two decades as a boy, and after losing her close friend, has been faring for herself in St. Giles.

The feeling of flight, the happiness she finds in the freedom of jumping roofs as the elusive Ghost, is a big part of her journey, and when she finds that same feeling in Hugh’s arms, she owns it. Alf is the one who saves Hugh in the opening scene, and right away, she makes her attraction to him known. Alf revels in it, even if – or especially because –  she has lived decades as a male. It cements her decision to ultimately help the duke find his attackers.

Hugh, for his part, is the catalyst that helps Alf grow into her womanhood. When Alf’s disguise crumbles and the duke requires the woman, Alf, not the informant boy, she is plagued with doubt, and I love how Hugh took charge. Where’s the courageous Alf? He asks. He needs her to do this, praises her skill and her upbringing, and knowing Alf like he does, she takes the bait and rises to the challenge.

This is, quite simply, a coming-of-age story that had me charmed from the very beginning.

Likewise, Alf brings Hugh to his knees. He is scared shy of love after his wife’s infidelity, and the chasm between Hugh and his children is heartbreaking. Alf’s honesty and forthright nature are exactly what he needs.

And, typical of Hoyt, the heat between these two is there and steaming hot. Alf initiates the intimacy on more than one occasion, and I loved this! Hugh didn’t stand a chance against her, and I loved when the Duke lost his soldier persona – the protector and gentleman – for the lusting man beneath.

And oh, how this girl made even my eyebrows go up a time or two! There is one scene in the book where they must hide in plain sight…and well, I’ll let you read and delight in the how.

There is also a secondary romance featured, and I gasped at the ending. I can never wait for the next installment in this series, but we readers are in for quite a treat!

5/5 Stars!

Duke of Pleasure is hands down my favorite read of the year. Well done, Ms. Hoyt. I have never been more proud to be a woman than I am reading this book. Another absolutely breathtaking and heart wrenching addition to the Maiden Lane Series.

Professional Reader

Excerpt+Review+Giveaway: Hooked on Love by Jennie Marts

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HOOKED ON LOVE
Cotton Creek #2
Jennie Marts
Releasing Oct 17th, 2016
Entangled Lovestruck

Chicago City Girl Tackles Colorado Mountains with Sexy, Reclusive Guide 

Avery Oliver can see the byline now. What better way to jumpstart her journalism career than to head out into the woods with a sexy guide? It’s all very Bear Grylls, but she’ll take it, even if it means ditching her beloved designer suits and handbags. 

All Sullivan Reed needs in life is a fly rod and the roar of a river. Playing guide to a hot little reporter can’t end well…until they strike a deal that’s mutually beneficial. She’ll pretend to be his girlfriend to deflect an overly flirtatious neighbor, and he’ll help her with the article. It’s a win-win. 

Until it isn’t. By the time a storm strands them in his cabin, Sully’s done pretending. He wants Avery—badly—but she’s a big-city girl looking for adventure, not his simple life. So why does releasing her feel like he’s lost the perfect catch?

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The distraction of her gorgeous legs almost did him in. Literally.

Sullivan Reed hit the brakes just in time to avoid a collision in front of the general store.

The curvy blonde in the red jacket didn’t even notice, her focus intent, trying to wrench her purse from the passenger seat of her car—a little foreign number with rental tags.

She was wearing some kind of short pants, not quite shorts but not really a skirt. Must be the new fashion—not that he paid attention to fashion. According to his ex, he never noticed anything.

But he noticed this woman—noticed her long legs, her too-high heels, and what the hell was up with that purse? It was practically the size of Wyoming. What could she possibly be carrying in there? He could pack for a three day trip in a grocery sack.

Not that he cared. He didn’t have time to be thinking about how high her heels were or the enormity of her handbag when he had other things to worry about. Bigger fish to fry. So to speak.

He needed to get in, grab his supplies, and get back to the shop. He’d stayed up late last night tying some new flies and wanted to get the new stock put up this afternoon so he could be out on the creek by dusk.

Early summer in the Colorado mountains was like paradise to a fly-fisherman. Plus he needed the time spent fishing tonight to mentally prepare himself for the visitor who was supposed to arrive tomorrow.

Besides, with that long blond hair and tall curvy figure, the woman in the red jacket was totally out of his league.

Not that he had a league, or even wanted to be in a league. He wasn’t even particularly interested in the game right now. He just wanted to be left alone.

Present company excluded. He reached across the seat and patted the neck of his golden retriever, Sadie.

Sadie was the only female in his life now, the only female he trusted, and that was fine with him. She hadn’t left him, didn’t yell at him to make more money, never nagged him to pick up his wet towels off the bathroom floor, and she hardly ever snored. All attributes that he valued.

The dog whined, sitting upright in the seat of his old truck, her gaze intent on the blond woman.

She stood on the sidewalk, oblivious to him and the fact he’d almost run her down, her large round sunglasses perched low on her nose as she looked over them to read the parking meter.

Sully watched her dig into her cavernous bag for change. He was no lip reader, but he was fairly certain she dropped a pretty clear F-bomb before pulling her hands out and throwing them up in disgust, apparently giving up on the effort.

He stepped out of his truck, his gaze captivated by the way her hips swayed and the swish of the breezy fabric of her shorts against her legs as she hurried into Miller’s Mercantile. He slammed the door and stepped up to the curb, stuffing his hands in the pockets of his shorts and jingling his loose change.

After dropping a quarter into his own meter, he paused in front of hers.

It would serve her right to get a ticket. “Just because this town is small doesn’t mean you can just ignore the law,” he grumbled, half to himself, half to the dog who watched him intently, and then he dropped a quarter into her meter.

Pausing, he thought about the size of her purse—she was probably pretty high maintenance and would be in there for a while.

He dropped in a second quarter.

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Looking for a broody, blushing fisherman – one who doesn’t realize how sexy he is? Like to hear about an adventurous city girl writing an article about this gruff fisherman – one she loves making blush for his sexy, lumberjack ways?

Look no further! I giggled and laughed out loud through the entirety of Hooked on Love by Jennie Marts that my face still hurts from grinning ear-to-ear.

Sullivan Reed completely stole my heart, and he hasn’t given it back! His ex, aka the “She-devil,” did such a number on his confidence, by calling him dull and telling him he wasn’t good enough. I wanted to shake Sully sometimes and shout, “You’re a catch, you sexy man!”

Thankfully, he has Avery for that. She is such a forthright character, letting Sully know how sexy she finds him. It is adorable how often this gruff man with his beard and fisherman ways blushes throughout this story. He even attempts to dress up for her with his “good” cologne. A first since his ex left him.

Avery is his perfect catch (and yes, that pun is intended). This book is full of puns and innuendo, and I snorted with giggles. I love that Sully didn’t pick up on how dirty his fish lingo sounds either until Avery points it out. When Sully mentions that he doesn’t want the attention of a woman in town, Avery teases him, saying the woman should use a different approach to get his attention.

“If she were smart, she’d take up fishing. I heard it’s a great way to get a rod in your hands.”

And, wait for it … he blushes!

“How could she make fishing sound so dirty?”

It’s because he’s as hooked on her as she is on him. I love seeing them break their walls down, and I just adored the entire premise. The bold, yet undeniably earnest Avery and the shy, moody Sully. It is a refreshingly fun read, and there isn’t any added drama because this book doesn’t need it.

The characters run this story, and I am honored that for a day, I lived in this story with them.

It also didn’t hurt that halfway through the story my dreams came true. In one part, Sully whips off his shirt in the rain and grabs a power tool (I’ll let you read which one). When Sully sees Avery’s open mouth, he assumes he looks like a scary murderer. Avery sees something else – the same thing as I did. A crazy hot lumberjack! I pumped my fist because, heck, yeah!

Hooked on Love snagged me on the hook and reeled me in. I went along quite willingly, and what a catch this book is.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, dear readers … (picks up fishing rod and car keys)

I think I might head down to a river. In a small town. Probably in the mountains of Colorado.

This girl is goinfishin’! 

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USA TODAY Best-selling author Jennie Marts loves to make readers laugh as she weaves
img_0223stories filled with love, friendship, and intrigue. She writes for Entangled Publishing, and reviewers call her books “laugh out loud funny” and full of great characters that are “endearing and relatable.”
 
She is living her own happily ever after in the mountains of Colorado with her husband, two sons, two dogs, and a parakeet that loves to tweet to the oldies. She’s addicted to Diet Coke, adores Cheetos, and believes you can’t have too many books, shoes, or friends.
 
Her books include the contemporary western romance Hearts of Montana series, the romantic comedy/ cozy mysteries of The Page Turners series, the hunky hockey-playing men in the Bannister Brothers Books, and the small-town romantic comedies in the Lovestruck series of Cotton Creek Romances.

Click below for a Rafflecopter Giveaway! Jennie Marts is giving away a $10.00 Amazon eGift card, Two (2) gifted ebook copies of Romancing the Ranger, and Three (3) gifted ebook copies of Tucked Away. Don’t miss your chance to win!

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