Monday, March 25, 2013

Book Review: The Spotlight Series by J.S. Taylor

Title: Close Up and Personal
Series: Spotlight #1
Author: J.S. Taylor
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Published: 01/21/2013
Publisher: Pageturners
Genre(s): Contemporary Erotic Romance, Romantic Suspense

DESCRIPTION

"Actress and director. The stage is set for passion...

Drama-school graduate Isabella Green wants to be a script-writer. But when she meets famous director James Berkeley, she’s tempted into the glamorous world of acting.

Behind the camera, the mysterious Berkeley commands discipline at all times. But Isabella soon discovers this man's dominant tendencies also extend into the dressing room.

Suddenly Isabella is discovering a side of herself she never knew existed. But she is also learning more about the alluring James Berkeley. Is his desperate past something she can help heal? Or will the flames of passion consume them both when the cameras start rolling?

Lights, camera, action.."


Title: The Berkeley Method
Series: Spotlight #2
Author: J.S. Taylor
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Published: 03/19/2013
Publisher: Pageturners
Genre(s): Contemporary Erotic Romance, Romantic Suspense

DESCRIPTION

"The Berkeley Method is book two in the bestselling Spotlight Series, which began with Close-Up and Personal.

If you love books like 50 Shades of Grey (E.L. James) or Bared to You (Sylvia Day, Crossfire Series) you'll love the Spotlight Series...

Lights, camera, action...

Isabella Green has landed a lead role, in James Berkeley’s latest movie. And she’s about to discover, that the famous director is runs a punishing schedule. Both on and off set.

But with their relationship still a closely guarded secret, James and Isabella are walking a tight-rope. And when jealousy and danger explode around them, can their feelings hold firm?"


Title: The Director's Cut
Series: Spotlight #3
Author: J.S. Taylor
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Published: 05/18/2013
Publisher: Pageturners
Genre(s): Contemporary Erotic Romance, Romantic Suspense

DESCRIPTION

"The Director’s Cut is Book #3 in the bestselling Spotlight series, which began with Close Up & Personal.

If you love books like 50 Shades of Grey (E.L. James), Bared to You (Sylvia Day, Crossfire Series), Beautiful Disaster, Rock Me, or Love Unscripted you'll love the Spotlight Series...

Ready for your close up?...

Issy and James have survived dangers and challenges to their relationship. But now the cameras are rolling, a new threat could ruin everything.

With Isabella, sparkling behind the camera, and James smouldering behind it, life on set is sexy and explosive. So when a malicious press leak, could end filming, their chance of a real relationship is suddenly in jeopardy."


Title: The Final Act
Series: Spotlight #4
Author: J.S. Taylor
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Published: 08/22/2013
Publisher: Pageturners
Genre(s): Contemporary Erotic Romance, Romantic Suspense

DESCRIPTION

"Issy and James have come a long way since that fateful first audition. And now filming is finally underway, past dangers seem behind them.

But when a deadly character from the past makes a reappearance, their relationship will be tested to the limits. And Issy is about to find out, that fame and love don’t always mix.

Could this be the end of everything?"


 MY THOUGHTS
 
I would really love to be able to write extremely detailed and helpful reviews for Close Up and Personal and The Berkeley Method. I'd like to be able to wax poetic about these two surprising books—books I may not have found had a Goodreads friend not recommended them. I wish I could accurately express how surprised I was by the contents of these two plainly covered books that actually go straight from cover to the first page without any introduction whatsoever...not even the standard copyright notice. I've got a feeling they may be overlooked for their simple (although pertinent) covers, rather bland synopses, lack of hype, and for not being among the abundance of recommendations (mine, at least) on Amazon and Goodreads. Why is that, I wonder?

Instead of highlighting passages and adding notes as I read, which helps in writing a more precise review, I totally "flaked" and just read, read, read. Doesn't that kinda say a lot right there, though? :) So, just a few brief observations...

I took to this James readily (he's an alpha male, but not a total brute!) and Isabella, although not particularly extraordinary, is genuinely endearing. I can't think of much I didn't appreciate about either book. Cleanly edited, well written, interesting characters, solid internal and spoken dialogue, great chemistry between the hero and heroine, and even some suspense for added drama. I read each of them in just a few hours, so they are page turners (Pageturners being the publisher's name!)


Updated 24 Aug 2013: Regarding The Director's Cut, which I read on May 19, I think I owe the series a back-to-back re-read in the future, mainly because at the time I read it I was distracted and didn't enjoy it nearly as much as the first two. Three stars is nothing to sneer at, and I just might feel this book more reading all four as one story.

Well, I've finished The Final Act, and have to say that it was my favorite in the series. I felt the character of Issy, in particular, had a stronger presence. Her character matured and became more interesting. The way she interacted with the other characters, especially James, but also with Natalie, Camilla, and briefly with Emilia, showed a more sophisticated Isabella. Yet, she could be counted on to exhibit a youthful enthusiasm when called for, which I found very sweet. I've read a number of books recently where the heroine would go suddenly from acting shy and unsure of herself to becoming a total seductress in the blink of an eye. I can't express how much I dislike that! Although Issy is obviously seriously attracted to and in love with James, she still had reservations about each new step in their relationship. She alternated between being confident with what she perceived as the familiar, and faltering when presented with something unfamiliar.

James really liked stirring things up, and most certainly that included stirring Issy up! There were moments when he pulled back from her emotionally, but this final installment was also where he opened up to her—explaining a very dark part of his life. I would have enjoyed even more dialogue between them, but I did feel like there were more conversations here than in the previous two books.

I think this series is mainly marketed as contemporary erotic romance, but the suspenseful aspects of the series cannot be overlooked.  Although not heart-pounding thrillers the addition of the unknown elements, i.e. the Lipstick Stalker and the person leaking confidential information to the press did add a suspenseful element to the story.  I was pleased when I found out I had identified the stalker based on Issy's ruminations. YAY! Most of the book took place at Berkeley Hall or Studios, and in London. However, Issy's curious nature had her flying abroad hoping to uncover clues to identify the stalker. There were also several minor teaser-y types of story lines, which aided in keeping me interested.

As far as the romantic parts went, well, James really stepped things up. He made several grand gestures to prove his love to Issy! The things he did and said and-and did and said...Which, of course, inspired Issy to do and say wonderful things too...

"In Mauritius we don’t just say I love you. We say ‘Mo Content Toi’. It means: ‘You are the place where my heart feels at home.’ You are that place Issy. And my heart is very, very happy." ~ James 

“You don’t have to be strong and in control all the time. Sometimes, you can let me be the strong one.” ~ Issy
"There are no words for how much I love you, James. If you are broken, I will fix you. If you are hurting, I will care for you. And no matter what, I will love you always." ~ Issy

“I think, sometimes, that’s what love is like,” he says, regarding the lake as he kisses my mouth. “It doesn’t just affect the two people involved. The ripples go outwards, further than we imagine.” ~ James
 I will admit to being mildly disturbed by what occurred during one of their sexual rendezvous, but overall I think James and Issy communicated well in this area. :)  She gained strength with her maturity, and confidence from the admiration and support he openly bestowed upon her. He gained compassion, understanding, and acceptance from being with her.

Happily-ever-after endings are something I nearly always look for at the end of a romantic read, and in The Final Act there was an FANTASTIC one!

"Mo content toi."

I did identify more editing oversights in The Final Act (several typos, misspellings, and lapses in the "I" and "Me" rule) than in the previous books, but I allow for more with self-published books by default. Nothing that distracting, really.

J.S. Taylor's next book was announced at the closing of this one, and she hints that James and Issy may make an appearance in Star Struck. ✨



 Secret Scenes:
Related Items: 


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Music to My Ears


Courtesy of Tech | Age

As I've mentioned numerous times before - blah, blah, blah I must be a broken record! ;) I never listen to the radio and hardly ever watch music videos.  I do occasionally stream music through Spotify or Pandora, but in all likelihood I was introduced or re-introduced to the music below through mentions in the indie novels I read or by hearing them on television shows or movies.

Sometimes I go a little crazy after hearing one song by an unfamiliar artist or band and end up with an entire album or multiple albums. See what hearing and liking one song will get you? Well, me, at least! :)

There are rare times I inadvertently go days without listening to music on my computer, iPod, or iPhone and then...WHAM - I just have to catch up, which goes something like this:
  • I always listen while I'm driving
  • I always listen during my walks, whether indoors or out
  • I always listen while in the shower
  • I always listen while I'm grocery shopping alone to keep my stress level down
  • I usually listen while doing chores around the house...even cooking.  (I think the only chore I don't listen to music while doing is vacuuming because, DUH, that would be a total  waste :)
  • I usually listen while reading and before falling asleep but am known to fall asleep with my ear buds in
  • I usually listen while spending time on my laptop
  • I usually listen while walking my dog
Then, after listening to music throughout all the preceding situations I'll opt for peace and quiet until, once again, the lack of music sends me "listening" for relief from all that quiet! Great how that works, eh?

I especially want to thank my husband for making sure I get all the music I want (235 songs this time), which probably seems like an endless and thankless task! My current wish list already has three albums and twenty-three more singles. I must be greedy, but I'll not be apologizing! :)

(Note: The artist names are almost exclusively linked to their Wikipedia pages and the songs to YouTube videos. The singles succeeding the albums are (mostly) those which have corresponding videos on the artists' official channels.)


SINGLES

Adele - Skyfall  [Pop/Soundtrack] - First, it's Adele! Second, it's Bond!
Alice in Chains - Would? [Alternative Metal/Heavy Metal] - Mentioned in a favorite novel The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski.
Alicia Keys - How It Feels to Fly [R & B] - Mentioned in a favorite novel, Fighting for Flight by Jamie Salsbury.
Avalanche City - Love Love Love [Singer/Songwriter] - Aired on the 11/05/2012 episode "Mohai" of Hawaii Five-0.
Beyoncé - Halo [R & B] - Mentioned in the novel Fighting for Flight by Jamie Salsbury.
Billy Joel - And So It Goes [Pop] - Mentioned in the novel Rock Chick Reckoning by Kristen Ashley.
Blue Ă–yster Cult - Godzilla [Hard Rock] - Hearing it recently reminded me that I should have had it a long time.
Bob Seger - Get Out of Denver [Classic Rock] - Mentioned in the novel Rock Chick Reckoning by Kristen Ashley.
Buena Vista Social Club - Candela, El Cuarto de Tula [Salsa y Tropical] - After Chan Chan these are currently my favorite BVSC songs.
Bush (featuring Gwen Stefani) - Glycerine (LIVE) [Alternative] - Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani are perfectly in sync.
The Civil Wars - Tip of My Tongue [Indie Folk] - Mentioned in the novel My Favorite Mistake by Chelsea M. Cameron. These two make the most beautiful music together!
Dan Hill - Sometimes When We Touch [Soft Rock] - How on earth had I missed this one? It was a favorite back when I was a of a certain age. ;)
Dave Matthews Band - Lying in the Hands of God [Rock] - This really is my first DMB song...for shame! Mentioned in a favorite novel Gabriel's Inferno by Sylvain Reynard.
The Doobie Brothers - Jesus is Just Alright [Classic Rock] - Mentioned in the novel Rock Chick Reckoning by Kristen Ashley.
Ella Mae Bowen - Holding Out For A Hero [A Beautiful Countrified Reboot of the Pop Song] - Featured in one of my favorite novels Breathe by Kristen Ashley.
Gary Clark, Jr. - Don't Owe You a Thang [Awesome Bluesy-Rock] - Featured on the 10/26/2012 episode "Misconceptions" of CSI:NY.
The Head and the Heart - Honey Come Home [Folk Rock/Indie Rock] - Mentioned in the novel My Favorite Mistake by Chelsea M. Cameron.
Hinder - Thing for You [Hard Rock Ballad] - This is the song that Travis Maddox sings to Abby Abernathy during her birthday party in the novel Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire. Say, "aww!"
Jason Mraz - I Won't Give Up [Alternative] - Mentioned in the novels My Favorite Mistake by Chelsea M. Cameron and Fight With Me by Kristen Proby. Also on the playlist for the novel Tidal by Emily Snow. This has got to be the most popular wedding song these days!
Jesse McCartney - Beautiful Soul [Pop] - I'm pretty sure it was mentioned in a novel I read but I didn't make note of which one. Pretty for a teeny-pop song.
Joshua Radin - Closer [Singer/Songwriter] - Featured on author Megan Hart's playlists for her novels, Dirty and Broken.
Liam Titcomb - Landslide [Folk Rock] - Featured in the 11/19/12 episode of Bones "The Bod in the Pod."
The Lighthouse and The Whaler - Iron Doors [Indie Folk/Indie Pop] - Featured on the 10/26/2012 episode "Misconceptions" of CSI:NY.
Led Zeppelin - Going to California - [Classic Rock] - Sins against these gods of rock - this is my only Led Zeppelin song...so far. I'm working on remedying that ASAP...I swear! Mentioned in the book The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski.
Matchbox Twenty - She's So Mean [Pop/Alternative Rock] - Mentioned in the novel My Favorite Mistake by Chelsea M. Cameron.
Matthew Barber - And You Give [Indie Pop/Rock] - Mentioned in the novel Gabriel's Inferno by Sylvain Reynard.
Mazzy Star - Fade Into You [Alternative] - Mentioned in the book Breathe by Kristen Ashley. I don't recall ever hearing this song until right before I bought it. How is that possible?! Oh my, it's a really sensuous song. (Lyrics)
OneRepublic - Feel Again [Pop Rock] - From their new album, Native, which releases in the U.S. on March 26!!!
Pearl Jam - Black [Alternative] - Mentioned in the book Rock Chick Reckoning by Kristen Ashley.
Phillip Phillips - Home [Singer/Songwriter] - Mentioned in the novel My Favorite Mistake by Chelsea M. Cameron. I can't count the number of shows and commercials I hear this beautiful song featured in. Lovely, isn't it?
Rihanna - Umbrella [R & B/Hip Hop] - Mentioned in the novel My Favorite Mistake by Chelsea M. Cameron.
The Rolling Stones - Laugh, I Nearly Died [Rock] - Mentioned in the book The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski. A Stones song that I don't know if I'd ever heard before but absolutely LOVE now!
Ronan O'Hora (Debussy) - La Fille Aux Cheveux de Lin [Classical] - From the Fifty Shades Trilogy.
Ryan Adams - When the Stars Go Blue  [Alternative Rock] - Featured on author Megan Hart's playlist for her novel Broken.
Ryan Cabrera - True, On the Way Down [Pop Rock/Acoustic] - Featured on author Megan Hart's playlist for her novel Dirty.
Sade - Your Love is King [Smooth Jazz/R & B] - This is Ana's ringtone for her husband, Christian, in Fifty Shades Freed.
Taylor Swift - Ours [Pop] - Mentioned in the novel My Favorite Mistake by Chelsea M. Cameron.
Yuna - Tourist [Indie Rock] - Featured in the Arrow episode "Muse of Fire" which aired on 11/28/2012.

ALBUMS

Bad Company - Thirty-three songs to reacquaint myself with and rate! [Classic Rock] - "Ready for Love" and "Feel Like Makin' Love" were mentioned in the book The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski.
Boston - Boston [Classic Rock] - "More Than a Feeling" was mentioned in the novels, On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves, and Exquisite by Ella Frank. "Peace of Mind" was mentioned in the book Rock Chick Reckoning by Kristen Ashley.
The Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards [Alternative]
Gary Clark Jr. - Blak and Blu [Bluesy Rock]
The Heavy - The Glorious Dead [Indie Rock] - Including the song, "What Makes a Good Man," which was featured on a Suits promo commercial I first heard on 12/16/2012. It is one of my current favorite songs...LOVE IT!!!
Imagine Dragons - Night Visions [Alternative] - These guys are such an awesome new-ish band! I love several songs from this album, including Radioactive and It's Time.
Jeff Buckley - Grace (already had Lover, You Should've Come Over) [Rock] - I'm not going to pick one song of his, just listen to his channel.
Kansas - The Best of Kansas [Classic Rock] - "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind" were mentioned in the book The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski.
Lifehouse - Almeria [Rock] - Their most recent album just because I heart them SO much! Including Between the Raindrops w/Natasha Bedingfield.
Lifehouse - Smoke and Mirrors (Deluxe Album) [Rock] - Lifehouse is a band that does not require any particular mood - I love them just about any time! Including All In and Nerve Damage, whose chorus really gets my heart a pumpin'!
Muse - The 2nd Law [Alternative]
No - Don't Worry You'll Be Here Forever (EP) [Indie Rock] - "The Long Haul" was played on an episode of Elementary called "You Do It To Yourself" on 12/06/2012. MOST EXCELLENT SONG!
The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely [Alternative] - I'd had the single, Consoler of the Lonely, for a long time and finally got the rest of the album.
The Script - #3 [Pop] - Including Hall of Fame and If You Could See Me Now.
Snow Patrol - A Hundred Million Suns [Alternative] - Including The Lightning Strike and Take Back the City.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Pt. 2 Soundtrack- Probably my least favorite of the Twilight Soundtracks, but I still had to have it!

What say you? Who are you listening to these days?


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Review: Beauty From Pain by Georgia Cates

Title: Beauty from Pain
Series: Beauty #1
Author: Georgia Cates
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Published: 01/29/2013
Publisher: Self-published
Genre(s): Contemporary Erotic Romance

DESCRIPTION

"They agreed on three months...but their love knew no boundaries.

Jack McLachlan is a winemaking magnate and easily one of Australia’s most eligible bachelors. His success and wealth makes him no stranger to the complications of romantic relationships and that’s why he goes to extreme measures to avoid the hassle. He prefers simplicity in the form of a beautiful female companion with no strings attached. He arranges relationships like business deals and they’re always the same. No long term relationships. No real names.

It’s his game and his rules. He’s content to play as usual, but when Laurelyn Prescott enters his life, his strategy must change because this player is like none he's ever encountered. His world is turned on its head after he begins a three month affair with the beautiful American musician. Nothing goes according to plan and as he breaks more and more of his own rules for her, she’s exceptionally close to becoming something he never thought possible. His ultimate game changer.

Beauty From Pain is an adult contemporary novel and is not intended for younger readers due to mature content."

MY THOUGHTS

*minor spoilers contained herein*

Sitting here with my fingers poised over the keys staring out the window hoping for…those perfect words and phrases to adequately express my thoughts. How about I start with stupefied? I do feel like I’m in a kind of daze. In this instance it comes from reading Beauty From Pain, which I started without really being aware of its premise and being totally unfamiliar with its author. I had read the synopsis, but it had been awhile. Strangely enough, I rarely read full reviews until after I've read the book, even when it’s by an author I've never read. Also, I was a wee bit concerned over the title – I saw the word PAIN and cringed a little. I was clueless to the fact that it is a song title the author was inspired to name the book after. Let me just say that the stupefied I’m feeling is the positive one because I am “overwhelmed with amazement; astounded; astonished.” I was also up until 2:30 a.m. because there was no freaking way I was getting any sleep until I finished it! Is “finish” even the right word when there’s a “cliffie” involved? Oh-oh! The author did give us a sneak preview of Beauty from Surrender, which is set for a May 30th release. Okay, so need to breathe, be patient, and keep distracted until then. Aargh!

Immediately in chapter one it was made obvious that Beauty From Pain was written from alternating points-of-view as the heroine’s name is captioned at the beginning. However, the first impression I got of Laurelyn was that she was whiny and impatient. Now, I did say “first” impression, it soon changed (YAY) because I certainly don’t want to read an entire book about a whiny heroine. She and her best friend, Addison, have been on a plane for ages getting to Australia from the states, so I thought her grouchiness was warranted. I had my editing note-taking mindset ready to find a plethora of mistakes, misspellings, and other grammatical boo-boos, but instead found only a whole lot of passages I just had to highlight. Score a big HURRAY for the author!

Once arrived at Wagga Wagga Airport we were introduced to Addison’s brother, Ben, and his Aussie friend, Zac. Ben was attending college to learn more about wine-making,  their family’s business, and his small apartment is where Laurelyn and Addison were supposed to be staying for the three months they were in Australia. Of course, there is an instant mutual attraction between Addison and Zac, but there is only a one-sided fascination between Ben and Laurelyn. While Ben’s obviously taken with Laurelyn, she’s seeing red flags – he’s her best friend’s brother and she’s trying to ease her broken heart over a guy back in the states. She does not need this complication.

When Jack Henry McLachlan first appears in chapter two, he’s sitting in a dark corner of a karaoke bar looking for his next “relationship.” Let me just say that being privy to his inner observations and critiquing of the women available in the bar did not put him in a favorable light. I mean, yuck! However, when he had pretty much conceded that his hunt for just the right woman had been unsuccessful, he saw Laurelyn for the first time. Now, this first impression was the one that counted! She may have been reassessing her music career, but her musical talent was obvious - as was her beauty. Jack was bewitched by her. He had made his choice: it was time to go about convincing her to accept his proposition, but first he needed answers to some questions.

Instead of his usual three or four weeks, he wanted to try a three month relationship. Nice how that worked out, eh? He wanted three months and Laurelyn was there for three months. It’s fate I tell ya. That anything-wonderful-can-happen-in-fiction kind of fate! I could partially accept Jack’s reason for wanting to remain innominate in these short relationships – he required uncomplicated, fun, sexual relationships without these partners aiming to land themselves (trap) a rich husband. I really felt like it wasn't made obvious enough how he kept his real name completely unspoken for so much of the book though. Yes, Wagga Wagga was a small town, and he was fairly new to the area, but he was supposedly a well-known, “hot commodity.” Fortunately, he recognized that Laurelyn was different from the first twelve women. One of the things he found “different” about her was a small thing – her accent, which was supposed to be Southern. Her character lived in Nashville, but if you’re looking for regional dialects, you won’t find them here. I admit, I missed having any trace of Aussie or Southern dialect written for me to “hear.” There was a touch of Aussie slang here-and-there, but it and the country were not made key components of the story. Of course, I wasn't reading this book to read about Australia. This book was about Jack and Laurelyn, and the author created a dynamic chemistry between them that was addictive!

Enough of the chronological events though; those are for you to read for yourself. I soon found myself truly liking both the hero and heroine very much. We know she accepts his proposition and in doing so they must work out the details, which include what names to call each other – she combines her middle name and the surname of her “sperm donor” father for Paige Beckett. He chooses to use the suffix of his last name and his middle name for Lachlan Henry. His use of just part of his name was another exception to his “usual” modus operandi. Right away Jack was aware of how special Laurelyn was and without making a big deal he made allowances to keep her with him. I LOVED that! I totally got how they would make exceptions for each other. Sure, he was after a sexual relationship, but he wanted conversation and companionship too. Laurelyn was absolutely remarkable in all three areas because of her openness, honesty, intelligence, confidence, humor, talent, and general acceptance of his “rules.” Given their unconventional relationship Jack treated her respectfully and with concern. Rather soon, he demonstrated a protective and even possessive behavior towards her that she just couldn't comprehend.

Laurelyn used several slang descriptions that I had not heard of before in all my reading of contemporary romance books. I’ll not be listing them, but I sure chuckled over them as they appeared sporadically throughout the book. Yep, I enjoyed her inner voice as much as her spoken words! I love when music is a part of the lives of the characters too, especially when the author mentions specific songs and artists. Georgia Cates went above and beyond just mentioning songs, she added a detailed playlist at the end of the book! Currently, she also has a Spotify Playlist embedded on her blog. It sure makes adding to my Literary Playlist much easier!

With each favorable thing they discovered about the other, their mutual appreciation grew: Jack realized Laurelyn wasn't ruled by the almighty dollar, he put spending time with Laurelyn ahead of work, she was genuinely appreciative of the gifts her gave her, but remained uncomfortable with his largess, and he thoroughly enjoyed her sole method of exercise – POLE DANCING!

There were a few unpleasant situations that needed to be dealt with: some vandalism at a couple of his vineyards, his troublesome ex “number three,” Ben’s unrequited feelings for Laurelyn, phone calls from Laurelyn’s mother and ex-boyfriend/producer, a health scare for Jack’s father, and that looming three month deadline for Laurelyn’s return to the states.

In the end I found much more beauty than pain in this book – the beauty in their being together was evident in chapter after chapter, but some of the pain - the pain that Laurelyn felt - was very eloquently expressed with these words at the close:

“I've known pain my whole life, but this is a new kind for me. It isn't born of something wrong or ugly. This pain is conceived out of beauty—my love for Jack Henry McLachlan. I embrace it. I clutch it as tightly as I can with both fists because I never want to forget the love I have for him. Loving him will forever be my Beauty from Pain."


HIGHLIGHTS
 
“Listen to me, Laurelyn. The best way to get over somebody is to get under someone else”  ~ Addison

~*~

"Lachlan": "I do too, but I'd like it much better if you were singing to me instead of Poison."
"Paige": "I've been known to take requests."
"Lachlan": "Me too. I can talk dirty by request anytime."

~*~

"Always go right and you'll never go wrong." ~ Laurelyn

~*~

"I find my voice and whisper, 'Caveman.' That's going to be my nickname for him. He throws his head back laughing and I join in soon after. He's so beautiful when he smiles." ~ Laurelyn (after Jack gives her her first "O" in a wine cave)

~*~

"I can't wait to have a naughty with you. You know it's only a matter of time, and when I do, I'm going to make you come so hard." ~ Jack Henry

~*~

"Music is what feelings sound like out loud. I sing songs that speak from my heart. They tell my story, how I feel." ~ Laurelyn

~*~

"Baby, you've f*cked my mind without touching my body." ~ Jack Henry

~*~

"Very much, Mr. Henry. I like your late-night instigations. And your morning ones. And your midday ones. Hell, I like all of your instigating." ~ Laurelyn

~*~

"'My heart wants you to be happy, and I believe that girl is the one to do it. you have four weeks to convince her to stay.' She lifts her brows at me. 'I suggest you get on that right away, son.'" ~ Margaret McLachlan


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Book Review: Fighting for Flight by Jamie Salsbury


Title: Fighting for Flight
Series: Fighting
Author: J.B. Salsbury
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Self-Published: 02/25/2013
Genre(s): Contemporary Erotic Fiction, Romantic Suspense

DESCRIPTION

"What happens when in order to win, you’re forced to lose?

The only daughter of an infamous Las Vegas pimp, Raven Morretti grew up an outsider. Liberated from the neglectful home of her prostitute mother, she finds solace as a mechanic. With few friends, she’s content with the simple life. Flying under the radar is all she knows, and more than she expects.

Until she catches the eye of local celebrity, UFL playboy Jonah Slade.

Weeks away from his title fight, Jonah is determined to stay focused on everything he’s trained so hard to achieve. Undefeated in the octagon, he’s at the height of his career. But resisting Raven’s effortless allure and uncomplicated nature is a fight he can’t win.

Jonah trades in his bad-boy reputation and puts his heart on the line. But when her father contacts her, setting in motion the ugly truth of her destiny, Jonah must choose. In a high-stakes gamble where love and freedom hang in the balance, a war is waged where the price of losing is a fate worse than death.

Will the hotheaded Jonah be able to restrain his inner fighter to save the woman he loves?

Or will Raven be forced into a life she’s been desperate to avoid?"


MY THOUGHTS (Short and Squeet!)

Where are the words I need to explain how AMAZING and WONDERFUL this book is?! GAH! I'm totally girl-crushin' on Raven...I ADORE HER!!! She is SO freaking perfect that Jonah, "The Las Vegas Casanova," was totally gobsmacked by her...even with grease on her forehead and...and her wearing coveralls and Chucks. He knew a jewel-in-the-rough when he saw one. Thank goodness he didn't lose all of his brain cells takings hits (and kicks) to the head. Jonah and Raven were suh-weet together!!! This book has everything (humor, hot sexy stuff, romance, suspense, secrets, gunfights, mixed martial arts guys with tattoos, tight friendships, hot cars, swanky house...) all swirled together in exactly the right amounts.

Love it, love it, love it!!! *sighs dreamily*

*The next book in the series, Fighting to Forgive, will be about that bad boy, Blake.

HIGHLIGHTS


“'Raven, a little later we can play Titanic,' he calls over his shoulder. 'I'll yell iceberg and you can go down.'”  ~ Blake Daniels

~*~

“If I flip a coin, what are the chances I'll get head?” ~ Blake Daniels

~*~

"You're unlike anyone I've ever known. You're kind, smart, funny, gracious...hell, you even laugh at Blake's jokes. I want you. And that includes everything that makes you who you are." ~ Jonah

~*~

"If only everything were like that. It's not easy to do: owning and accepting the pain of our past, the heartbreak, our misgivings, and using them for good. Make our lives better not in spite of it all...but because of it." ~ Raven

~*~

"'Baby, I promise you that you'll never want for physical contact again.' His big, strong hands hold my head and he leans his forehead against mine. 'I'll always hold you when you're scared.' He softly kisses my jaw. 'Comfort you when you're sad.' His lips brush against my cheeks. 'Take care of you when you're sick.' Tilting my head back, he kisses my forehead. He bends down and his hazel eyes narrow into mine. 'I'll make it my life's mission to make up for every second you were neglected.'" ~ Jonah


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Book Review: True Love Story by Willow Aster

Title: True Love Story
Series: Standalone
Author: Willow Aster
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Published: 02/17/2013
Publisher: Self-published
Genre(s): Contemporary New Adult

DESCRIPTION

"Growing up in an idealistic home, Sparrow Fisher is sheltered and innocent. When she meets Ian Sterling, a musician who is rising in popularity, she instantly falls for his charm. They run into each other over the next few months and eventually begin an unconventional relationship.

At different places in their lives, Sparrow is off to college in New York, and Ian is traveling the country with the band. When they see each other, all seems wonderful and lighthearted, but when they’re apart, Sparrow is left to wonder if Ian really cares about her the way he says he does, or if she’s just another pretty face to him.
Once their relationship steadies, they’re both happier than they’ve ever been, and it’s hard to not get caught up in the magic they have together. Until something so devastating comes to light that threatens to shatter everything they’ve built with each other.

True Love Story is a story about the real highs and lows that come with a relationship—happiness, pain, angst, and finding out if love really is enough."

MY THOUGHTS

*minor spoilers contained herein*

This impressive debut stand alone novel with first person narrative began with the announcement of how much time had lapsed since the lovers had last seen each other, since the young woman had become aware her love had broken her heart, and since they had first met…

Sparrow Kate Fisher officially met Ian Orville Sterling when she was a very mature 18 year old and he was…much older, but not quite as mature.  He was a well-known and highly respected musician and songwriter.  He was also unbelievably attractive and had a way about him that knocked the no-nonsense and well-grounded Sparrow off her perch.  The first time they touched, her skin “blazed” and after their sedate introduction, she atypically blurted out something she would otherwise never have said out loud. Yes, that’s how much he affected her!

Ian unashamedly flirted with her while her parents, his cousin and his wife, and her boyfriend were seated at the table with them.  She thought herself a “horrible person” because she loved his audacity.  Ian was immediately taken with her and set about asking questions and using body language that set Sparrow’s heart pounding.

Ian came into Sparrow’s life as she and her best friend, Tessa, were preparing to leave home in San Jose, California for New York City, where Sparrow would be taking literary courses at NYU.  Sparrow was very much the product of her proper upbringing. She considered her parents “wonderful.”  Her father was a pastor and she felt her only job being a pastor’s daughter was to be "perfect."  She didn't  use curse words or slang—preferring “meaningful” words instead.  Her love of books, reading, and writing were evident in how effectively she was able to express herself.  In fact, as a songwriter, Ian was no slouch in the area of communicating – orally and in writing.

Sparrow brilliantly used what she called a contradiction game to list the pros and cons of that first meeting.  She also had to deal with Michael, her boyfriend, who had feelings for her much deeper than her own for him.  Although Michael may have appeared to be the perfect match for Sparrow, her feelings for Ian defied that logical fit.  She daydreamed about Ian constantly and ended up shooting down Michael’s plans for their lives together.  Tessa’s unfailing friendship and the support of her disappointed, but loving parents got Sparrow through the period following the break-up with Michael.  Then Ian made another appearance which left no doubt for either of them that there was something serious happening between them.  After spending one magical day with Ian in San Francisco, she and Tessa were off to New York.  They settled into their tiny NYC apartment and Sparrow, still constantly thinking of Ian, committed herself to her classes.

She didn't hear from the constantly traveling Ian, but a ski vacation at Christmas had them spending time together.  Their shared chemistry was still evident in every interaction and in their first kiss, which had Sparrow further wondering why he hadn't once contacted her.

While Sparrow and Ian seemed to communicate comfortably with each other verbally, there was loads of sexual tension!  There were multiple instances where things he said to her caused her to get “splotchy” with embarrassment and him to tug at his hair when flustered.  I found both traits to be quite endearing!

Upon returning home to New York, she attended a party where she met a music producer named Asher Caldwell at his big New Year’s Eve party.  Even though he was handsome and wealthy, she couldn't help finding him wanting when compared to Ian.  They talked and danced and, at midnight, kissed.

I don’t think Sparrow knew exactly what kind of relationship she wanted with Ian, and Ian had never “done relationship.”  Despite their obviously strong feelings for each other, his traveling and apparent inability to stay in touch constantly left Sparrow wanting more. She was confounded that he would be so affectionate and loving with her during their brief and infrequent encounters and then disappear for months with nary a word.

As the story progressed, Sparrow was left dealing with the aftermath of a bewildering, life-changing event and the most painfully disappointing desertion by Ian yet.  The author did a masterful job of writing Sparrow’s desolation, anger, and frustration.  Fortunately, when Sparrow and Ian are reunited, they are able to very effectively express themselves.  I felt a strange sense of pride in Sparrow when she finally “tells off” Ian, and equally a sense of relief when he finally explains his behavior and about his childhood.

One of the things I truly appreciated about Sparrow and Ian’s relationship was how their ability to converse with one another was significantly depicted.  I believe it was mentioned several times that they had talked for hours.  In this day and age of erotic romances, deep discussions and meaningful conversations don’t seem to make it to the page very often.  However, all their phenomenal communications skills were not limited to the verbal ones.  Their sexual relationship, although long-delayed, was remarkable too, of course.  Further proof that these two were made for each other!

Ian’s hectic musical career had him traveling constantly away from Sparrow for extended periods of time.  When they decided to try for a long distance relationship, Sparrow asked Ian for a commitment – she needed him to call her more often.  He was able to get past his lifelong issues and do just that.  Yay!  Things were finally looking up for them!

Their relationship happily progressed; Sparrow graduated and received wonderful news about her first book.  Ian’s career was burgeoning and then, WHAM, a painful confession tore them apart.  What followed this devastation was page after page of voicemail transcriptions and letters from Ian to Sparrow where he spilled his heart and soul out to her.  Keep the tissues handy because if you’re as affected as I was, you will be crying.

A completely devastated Sparrow went back to California and attempted to get on with her life.  One way she tried was to date several different men, though she could not help but make comparisons to Ian.  In that regard, they were all found lacking.

Tessa’s wedding to Jared required Sparrow, as the maid of honor, to travel to New York with a change of planes in Texas.  This event’s chapter may have been titled “Layover in Hell,” but really it was more like a divine intervention, as Ian was departing Texas for New York and amazingly had the seat right next to Sparrow’s!

Thus, after not seeing each other for one year, two months, and seventeen days, Sparrow and Ian had arrived at exactly the right place and time open to the possibility of living their own True Love Story.  In other words, they found their perfect happily-ever-after!  (The epilogue was awesome!)

As impressed as I was with the writing, story, and characters, I also thought the editing and technical aspects of the Kindle edition were outstanding – I can’t recall a single typo, misspelled word, or obvious (to me) grammatical error.  I also cannot remember ever reading a more beautifully formatted digital book.  The lovely chapter title graphics and spacing were pleasingly consistent—it looked and read wonderfully on my iPod.


HIGHLIGHTS

“I've been looking for you, his eyes are saying. You've found me now, I'm certain my eyes are saying.”
~ Sparrow
 
~*~

"A wedding would have been fun ... besides that one little complication of you being married afterwards." ~ Tessa
 
~*~

I thought it was brilliant how the author wrote Ian's side of a couple telephone conversations overheard by Sparrow. One example:

"Hey ... yeah. What? (Pause) (Sigh)  Ask when they're ready to go and I'll have her back by then, how about that? (He smiles at me, eyebrows raised. I smile back in agreement) (Long pause) (Another sigh) God, Laila, relax. I'll get her there. (Silence) I said I'll get her there!"
 
~*~

“He reaches over and grabs my hand and laces our fingers together. 'You're gonna break my heart, Sparrow Fisher.' And I think, not before you break mine.” ~ Sparrow
 
~*~

“Little Bird, our love has been hard-earned from the very beginning. It is more precious to me than anything on earth. I can't just let go of it. And I won't stop fighting for it. ~Ian"
 
~*~

“You may have to break this heart before you can use it. You may have to take it apart and start all over with me. I know it hurts to change, but I don't want to stay the same. Take me. Break me. Do whatever it takes to make me what you need me to be.” ~ Ian
 
~*~

"Love is enough. Love does conquer all. Love really does always protect, trust, hope, persevere...I'd even go as far as saying that love never fails. I finally believe that." 
~ Sparrow
 

My autographed copy received 02/20/2015!