Book Review: To Katie with Love

To Katie With Love - Erica Lucke DeanSince I’m always happy to support the growing virtual world of authors I know, I jumped at the chance to review Erica Lucke Dean’s debut novel, To Katie with Love. I’ve followed Dean’s funny exploits via a serendipitous connection on Triberr for the past year and a half, so while we’ve never met IRL, I know the intimate mishaps of her daily life as documented on her blog. From the blurb, I could see the same distinct voice I’ve grown to anticipate from her:

Banker Katie James has a serious thing for romance novels. She’d almost rather settle for a fictional boyfriend than risk her heart on a flesh-and-blood man. Besides, the only real guy she’s remotely interested in is her rich, unattainable client, the mysterious Cooper Maxwell.

Looking less like the ultra-conservative man she knows and more like a drop-dead sexy character from one of her books, Cooper crashes Katie’s 29th birthday party. But one too many drinks lands Katie in uncharted territory… Cooper’s bedroom!

Drunk on love, Katie dives headfirst into the relationship only to discover that Cooper is keeping secrets… dangerous ones. As if things couldn’t get worse, her meddling mother makes a surprise visit, digging up a whole new set of problems.

Who would have guessed having an assassin for a boyfriend would be the least of her worries?

The book more than met my hopes. The pace was fast, the writing smart and true-to-life, and each chapter had at least one moment of laughter. It’s a classic bit of humorous chick lit that plays with tropes and expectations in a very clever way, using language that further supports Dean’s characters’ development:

How excruciatingly embarrassing. Well, at least I didn’t have to go on an expedition to find my clothes in order to sneak out. If I didn’t run across my boots on the way, I would simply hike out in bare feet.

And Monday? Well, I had yet to use a single sick day. I could surely invent some horrible illness to keep me from work for at least one day.

Dean threw me back into that tentative, insecure mental framework of a young woman early in her career and still uncertain about how to define herself, let alone a good, healthy relationship. Her headlong dive into a relationship is both predictable and realistic, but Dean throws in enough twists to make the culmination of the story a unique take on the happily ever after required by the romance genre.

For anyone who enjoys contemporary romances with a hint of mystery and a tongue-in-cheek approach, this book is worth the price of admission. Run and enjoy a fun afternoon read.

About the Author

Erica Lucke DeanAfter walking away from her career as a business banker to pursue writing full-time, Erica Lucke Dean moved from the hustle and bustle of the big city to a small tourist town in the North Georgia Mountains, where she lives in a 90-year-old haunted farmhouse with her workaholic husband, her 180lb lap dog, and at least one ghost.

When she’s not writing or tending to her collection of crazy chickens and diabolical ducks, she’s either reading bad fan fiction or singing karaoke in the local pub. Much like the main character in her newest book, To Katie With Love, Erica is a magnet for disaster, and has been known to trip on air while walking across flat surfaces. How she’s managed to survive this long is one of life’s great mysteries.

Website: http://ericaluckedean.com/

Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/ericaluckedean

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/13410825-erica-lucke-dean

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ericaluckedean

Where to Buy:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/To-Katie-With-Love-ebook/dp/B00CIY2A40/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1366926213&sr=1-1&keywords=to+katie+with+love

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-katie-with-love-erica-lucke-dean/1115197331?ean=2940016551333&isbn=2940016551333

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/To-Katie-With-Love/book-wUbrooAwekOfeY94zoeWRQ/page1.html?s=wsX4qAW9FkahVq9wc5TLPw&r=1

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17737985-to-katie-with-love?auto_login_attempted=true

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sass, Snark, & Serendipity – Aces Wild Release Day

Sass, Snark, & SerendipityToday, my good friend and crit partner Fiona Druce is celebrating the release of her debut novel. So a group of us decided to join the party to push her out into the world in style.

The original plan was to hop around the first release date she’d been given. Unless there’s a time-warp, we’re a week early for that goal…

And there you have my snark, sass, and serendipity commentary all wrapped up in one sentence, because next week also starts the madness that is the A-Z blog challenge. So Fi gets a day all on her own this week on my blog to revel in the snarky fun of her book.

Because the world revolves around me that way.

😀

And because Fiona’s story is about a woman with her own challenges about snark, Fiona has invited those of us with experience writing about those kinds of characters to share a little of our stories. Since one of the prizes in the give-away that goes with the blog hop is the first two eBooks of my Red Slaves series, I thought I’d give a small preview of the kind of snark you’ll see there:

“Do you remember what you were doing before you zoned out?”

“Sure. Igor was saying the language on the cards was some variant of Chinese and Ivan was using Vasily and Fyodor to see if they couldn’t access draconic memories. Ivan grabbed my hand and pulled me into it. I saw a vision of a sky full of dragons and the oldest of them landed in front of us. He addressed us as children!” The memory of that epithet still makes me scowl.

“We knew the race was long-lived from what Natasha had told us, so 30-something human years is unlikely to impress any elders.”

“Yeah. But he didn’t have to make it sound so condescending. After all, we were looking for a source of knowledge or insight. That’s not childish behavior.”

“Maybe you’re just sensitive.”

I stick my tongue out at her. “Now you see childish behavior.”

Our laughter brings Andrei and Igor hurrying into the room. “You’re awake.”

“Quod erat demonstrandum.”

Igor snorts and says, “The men are all still non-responsive. Maybe if you try, you can get them to waken?”

I glance at Olga. “Do we know it’s necessary for them to wake up? Olga made a cogent observation earlier: We don’t know what the norm is for these beings.”

“You are one of them, so you should stop talking that way.” Igor hasn’t lost his habit of injecting the last word into a conversation.

“Fine. I’ll see what I can do. But if their teeth are as sharp as mine, I’m staying at least an arm’s length away.”

Good luck to those participating in the Rafflecopter–and to Fiona. May her book sell like hotcakes, launching her career in the style it deserves.

Book Review: The Year of the Lucy

The Year of the LucyI’ve been an unabashed Anne McCaffrey fan since I read Dragonflight in 9th grade. I plowed through all the remaining books about Pern as soon as they came out, and wore out the binding on a few of them, I read them so often. It wasn’t until I was halfway through college, though, that I discovered she wrote in an entirely different genre: Romance, my (at the time) secret addiction. I had escaped my college town for a weekend trip to Boston to stay with friends of friends, and had found my way to a Barnes & Noble, where I was looking for the latest McCaffrey offering. Since I was unfamiliar with the store and was wandering aisles, I stumbled across this, described on the back cover this way:

“You’ll want to have a look at this. Here is love, romance, even sex, but the point is the life of Mirelle Martin… who’s making some changes in her life and her feelings… One of the catalysts is the handsome pianist James Howell, a pleasing contrast to her too-often-absent husband; another is the sculpture she’s working on of Lucy – her best friend, now dead. Mirelle risks everything to make her life more meaningful…”

I have to admit part of the reason I bought this was the similarity of the character’s name with one of mine. The book, however, struck a deep chord with me. It was a candid snapshot of what it was like to be a woman constrained in the historical ways we’ve generally been limited – by others’ perceptions, by social expectations, by the roles we’re allowed access to, and by our acceptance of those constraints.

McCaffrey does a great job chronicling how Mirelle grows up as a mother, wife, and artist over the course of a year, starting from this already somewhat unconventional standpoint:

Easy, gal, she cautioned herself. Forgetting the husband to lunch with another man? She snorted at the whimsy, impatient as the cross-highway light held her up. As if Howell were that type. He was only interested in her work and that part of herself was completely divorced from her family or her marriage, for all the overlapping. It was the as yet unhampered, unpossessed soul of her that she had refused to relinquish to Steve’s possessiveness. She had told him, early in their marriage, that she had given him her body, her worldly possessions, obedience and loyalty: she had given him all her love and devotion but that inner part of her that was unalterably Mary Ellen LeBoyne was not his. By the same token, she did not expect to possess his innermost secrets and soul. She doubted if Steve had any conception of such basic privacy. Very often he acted as if that final reserve were an offense against him, instead of her defense against the world. He was always striving for complete capitulation.

It’s considered romance, but I’d say it’s also chick lit, since the way Mirelle navigates through her circumstances brings her face to face with quite a bit of drama and other concerns. It’s a story that doesn’t shy away from the dark underbelly of life and it was startling to consider her perspective as a collegian with optimistic, romantic goggles on about how my life might evolve.

In the end, Mirelle’s self-empowerment and the place she carves out for herself in the standard 50s/60s housewife role make her compelling. I read the novel in an afternoon, and then eagerly followed up with McCaffrey’s other books in the same cross-over market. Not everything in these worlds comes up roses, and it’s worth revisiting these books for their perspective on how far women have come in just 50 years. I can highly recommend this one (or any of the others, really) to anyone who wants to revisit how hard it was for a female to find her individuality in that context.

Book Review: Blue Moon Rising

Blue Moon HouseI got myself in over my head this week… I’ve never reviewed erotica before, and hadn’t planned on ever doing so. However, one of the women who did me an early review favor for Dust to Blood contacted me to ask if I’d support her new release. Without asking further details, I offered to return the favor. The publishing house sent me an ARC for review purposes, and then I started thinking this might be a wilder ride than I had anticipated.

So I’m giving you fair warning: This is graphic erotica of the BDSM variety, something that may not be completely obvious from the blurb (though the book is appropriately tagged, rated, etc., in its Smashwords listing):

Julia has the chance to become one of the vampires of the Blue Moon House. Before being accepted, however, she must prove herself to each of the vampires, and each has their own exacting cost. Ranging from lesbian, to being forced, to physical torture, she is pushed to her breaking point time and again. Eventually her perseverance pays off and she crosses from submissive to dominant and vampire.

The story starts in the deep end and doesn’t relent, however, there is a real and intriguing basis to the plot: An old vampire wanted to avoid killing all her donors, but wanted to keep the mystery of her race intact. So she conceived of a very specialized kind of brothel where the clients expected the pain and silence she required to manage both elements of her goal.

For those of you who are intrigued by the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, but have been warned off by or worried about the dismal quality of writing, this would be a much better alternative. The writing is clear and smooth, and even though the kink Dawson describes is not the kind I enjoy, I was sucked into the novella and had no problems finishing it and appreciating the happily ever after the main character receives.

I’m still looking forward to Dawson’s guest post visit later this month, so keep your eyes open for what is bound to be an interesting post.

😉

Guest Post: Jennifer James – Love Kinection

Tom Walker, Love KinectionAs promised, Jennifer James is back one last time to spread a little more excitement about Love Kinection (which I reviewed earlier this week). Take it away Jenn:

It’s my job today to interview Tom from LOVE KINECTION. I’m nervous. He’s really cute and funny and I don’t want to stare at him and be a dork. *sigh* We’re meeting for coffee at a Panera Bread that’s in a nice central location between our houses. (I may have an ulterior motive of scoring one of the giant cookies from the pastry display, but I admit nothing.)

Jennifer James: So, Tom. Hi. *blushes because he’s so handsome and grinning at me.*

Tom Walker: Hi Jenn. Good to see you again. Are you hot?

JJ: Ermm, no. *blushes more*

TW: *smiles wider* You know, Abby used to turn red like that around me. Not so much anymore though. I think after you’ve seen someone naked enough times, the effect starts to wear off.

JJ: What effect? *takes a gulp of coffee and burns herself*

TW: The effect all sexy geeks have on women. We overwhelm them with our special nerd aura.

JJ: *laughs* Uh-huh. I see. So, I’m supposed to ask you some questions.

TW: Is it safe?

JJ: Don’t cross the streams.

TW: Keep it secret, keep it safe.

JJ: What? *breaks cookie in half and shares it with the hunky man across from her*

TW: Noob. It’s from Lord…

JJ: I know what it’s from. I’m just not tracking with how that follows mine.

TW: Sorry. I’m not that great at movie quotes. That’s more Abby’s area. *He lets his arm rest on the table long enough for me to see the new ink he’s sporting on the inside of his forearm. “Abby” scrolls across the muscle in black lettering*

JJ: *grabs Tom’s hand to get a better look at his tattoo* Awww…….

TW: *His lips twitch and he lets me look my fill* She’s a great girl.

JJ: So, when are you guys tying the knot?

TW: Soon. She doesn’t want anything big, just us and a few close friends. Moms and dads, that sort of thing.

JJ: Better to do it before she’s showing, right?

TW: How did you know Abby’s pregnant?

JJ: *Smug smile* You just told me. She told me to ask you how practice was going, and she was gorging on Ben and Jerry’s. so….

TW: Ah. Well, I guess you’re a smart nubby, anyway.

JJ: Thanks. So, my friend Sarah wants to know how you spent five years staring at Abby and never asked her out.

TW: Oh. Well, when I first met her I had a fiancée. We broke up before the wedding, but by that point Abby was dating the douchebag. I wasn’t much up for a new relationship. Then she got screwed over and I didn’t want to be her rebound guy so I gave her space.

JJ: Hmmm…so, what’s your favorite MMORPG game?

TW: WoW.

JJ: Wow? What the hell is that?

TW: World of Warcraft. *coughs into hand* Nubcake.

JJ: Shush. I don’t speak text. Dork. Keep it up and I’ll confiscate what’s left of that cookie.

TW: You can try.

JJ: *turns scarlet and looks at the floor* Ahem. So, Tonya also wants to know if you make tech house calls often. I think she might need you to come fix something….

TW: *Snickers* No, actually I don’t. I try to leave work at work. Plus, when you start messing in people’s systems, you run across all their porn…It gets awkward.

JJ: *Wide eyed* Oh.

TW: If Tonya needs something fixed, I’ve got a single friend that can help her out. *winks*

JJ: *giggling* Oh, I’m sure you do.

Blogger Interjection: HEY! I’m happily married, here!
😀

JJ:Now, back on topic. We all need to learn more about you.

TW: Ah. It’s like Christmas, but with more….me.

JJ: I thought you didn’t do movie quotes that well.

TW: I lied.

JJ: Okay Mr. Stark. Did you really forget that cable?

TW: Yes. Of course. Think I planned leaving it there so I’d have an excuse to go back?

JJ: *arches eyebrow*

TW: No, really. I did forget it. I was so turned on I couldn’t see straight. And aggravated.

JJ: Okay…over share. *sips coffee and tries to calm heartbeat.* Let’s back away from the sex stuff. What do you like best about yourself?

TW: What is this, a job interview? I have nice toes.

JJ: Nice toes?

TW: Yep.

JJ: Boxers, briefs, or commando?

TW: Women and men’s underwear. Look, the only time it matters is when I’m taking them off. Right? But for the record, I go boxer briefs. And not silk or something like that. They’re all slippery and crawl up your—

JJ: GAH! Stop. Just, stop. Too much. Besides, if they’re red, then they’re Satan’s panties anyway.

TW: *laughs* Nicely done. So let me ask you a question.

JJ: O-kay. *Nervous*

TW: Have you watched Season 4 of True Blood yet?

JJ: *sighs* No.

TW: Abby and I watch that show together.

JJ: Me and hubs do too. But I think he’s more in it for the boobs.

TW: Nothing wrong with that.

 

There you have it: More reasons to grab a copy of Love Kinection, to find out about Tom and Abby.

🙂

 

Author Bio:

Multi-published author are not three words that Jennifer James ever thought she would be associated with. Author of erotica and erotic romance, what she likes best are happy endings – whatever that might mean for the characters. Wife, mother of two Tiny Divas, college student, and office drone, when not writing Jenn enjoys the outdoors, adventures of all sorts, horror movies, and the occasional comic book.

Links:

Website: http://www.authorjenniferjames.com/
FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-James/212335188856799?ref=hl
GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/644267.Jennifer_James
Twitter: @JenniferJames34
Blogs I contribute to: Paranormalists http://paranormalists.blogspot.com/
Love Scenes and Wet Dreams: http://lovescenesandwetdreams.wordpress.com/

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