Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Blog Tour Book Review: Boots and Backpacks by K. C. Kahler

Boots and Backpacks
by K.C. Kahler

Genre: Romance / Contemporary / Pride & Prejudice Re-telling

Ages: 16 and up

I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thanks to Leatherbound Reviews! :)


William Darcy counts down the last few months to his 30th birthday with dread. Orphaned as a child, his parents’ will includes a bizarre clause: Darcy must get married by his 30th birthday in order to inherit the family fortune. To make matters worse, the press knows about this deadline, as do the hordes of women chasing him in the hopes of becoming Mrs. Darcy. His family legacy hangs in the balance, but Darcy has little faith in the fairer sex. Will he find a woman he wants to marry, and quickly?
Elizabeth Bennet is determined to pursue her education and career without letting a man get in the way. When her traveling companion drops out, her planned hike on the Appalachian Trial is jeopardized. She meets the spoiled, snobby William Darcy just when he is desperate to escape the spotlight. No one will suspect that the Prince of Manhattan has gone backpacking! Darcy and Elizabeth form a tenuous partnership and begin a 300-mile journey that will transform them both.
In classic romantic comedy tradition, Boots & Backpacks follows our reluctant partners as they build trust, friendship, and even more. Six weeks together on America’s most famous hiking trail may turn out to be just what these two need!

My Thoughts:

Oh my goodness, Darcy is a total jerk in this book. At least, he is at first. For the first few chapter I kept trying to wrap my head around it; a version of Darcy who had slept with hundreds of women over the course of eight years of one-night stands. After a little while, though, I started looking at it less as a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and more of a contemporary romance that was just written by someone who loves Jane Austen. At that point, the book stopped bugging me and I just started enjoying it.

The character arc was simply delightful. As I mentioned above, Darcy starts out as a jerk. Ever so slowly, though, over the course of the novel, he learns and improves. He stops hitting on Lizzy all the time and starts actually thinking about her. The development was very well written. Lizzy has her own issues, and the way the two of them worked through things was lovely to watch.

I am a huge fan of the way Ms. Kohler worked in so many Jane Austen characters, not just the ones from P&P. Marianne and Ellie Dashwood, along with Christopher Brandon and Eduardo Ferraro, made an appearance, thought Ellie's was off-screen. Several others were slipped in, sometimes in a way that was obvious, and some that were rather sneaky.

While it took me a little while to get into it, I liked this book a lot. It had a great deal of humor and wit, making it a very entertaining read.

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme). Ratings may contain spoilers.
I rate it an 8.10 for a few uses of the f-word and some mid-level swearing.
I give it 7.10 for a few middlingly descriptive scenes and quite a few references.
There was no violence in this book, though it came close once or twice.
About the Author: 

KC Kahler has worked as a writer and editor in both non-profit and academic settings. Until discovering Jane Austen Fan Fiction several years ago, KC’s writing had been limited to the dry and technical, which is a shame, since she considers herself witty and sparkling. Her first novel, Boots & Backpacks, will be published in 2014 by Meryton Press. 
KC lives on a four-acre slice of Penn’s Woods with her husband and two dogs. They enjoy hiking, gardening, and being beer snobs. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Book Blast Review + Excerpt + Giveaway! A Matter of Grave Concern by Brenda Novak

Displaying SBB_AMatterOfGraveConcern_Banner.jpg
A Matter of Grave Concern
by Brenda Novak

Genre: Historical / Suspense / Romance / Mystery

Ages: 18 and up

I received an advance e-copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.


When Maximillian Wilder joins the notorious body snatchers known as the London Supply Company, the last thing on his mind is love. He’s worried about Madeline, his vanished half sister, who was last seen in the company of Jack Hurtsill, the gang’s conscienceless leader. Raiding graveyards, stealing corpses, and selling them to medical colleges as dissection material is dirty work, but he has to gain Jack’s trust. He’s determined to find out what happened to Madeline—and to bring Jack to justice if she was murdered for the coin her body could bring.

Beautiful, spirited Abigail Hale, daughter of the surgeon at Aldersgate School of Medicine, detests the challenging, hard-bargaining Max. But she must procure the necessary specimens if she is to save the college and her father’s career. She believes she is going to be successful—until Jack double-crosses her. Then she’s swept into a plot of danger and intrigue, one where Max must intervene and protect her, no matter the risk to his plan . . . or his heart.

Displaying SBB_AMatterOfGraveConcern_CoverBanner.jpgExcerpt:

“Make that fifteen.” A deep voice interrupted, and for the first time, Abigail looked directly at the man standing to the side and slightly behind Big Jack. His clothes bore as much dirt and his face as much beard growth as the rest of the group, but he was different. Not only was he significantly taller, he carried himself with a certain…authority.

How had she not noticed him before?

She’d been doing her best to block him and the others from her consciousness, she reminded herself.

Her gaze locked with an intense pair of sea-green eyes. “Why, that’s highway robbery! My father has never paid a resurrectionist more than nine guineas, six shillings. I’ve got it all in a book, right here.” She tapped the top of the desk to convince him.

When he smiled, his teeth looked clean and mostly straight, another detail that set him apart from his companions. “Evidently, you’re not a pupil of economics, or not a very good one, Miss Hale. Short supply, high demand, prices go up. Sometimes significantly. Fifteen guineas. No less.”

Those short, clipped sentences bore no Cockney accent and revealed a definite culture to his voice, causing Abigail to wonder if she had been dealing with the wrong man all along. She couldn’t imagine this stranger taking orders from anyone, much less the likes of Jack Hurtsill.  

“Blimey, Max,” one of the other men muttered.

Drawing herself up to her fullest height, which was at least ten inches shy of this Max’s six feet something, Abigail clung tenaciously to her composure. “At this point, I would rather you take your ‘large’ and go.” Surely, there had to be other resurrection men she could contact; she hadn’t gone through all the names she heard muttered about the halls of the college and St. Bart’s Hospital next door. “I have seen naught but the head, and that small sample revealed a nasty wound.”

“There’s not a mark on the rest of him,” Max responded coolly. “We offered to show you, but you refused.”

Abigail had no intention of letting this body-snatcher tempt her into dumping the body out onto the rug as she had almost let them do before. “Mr. Hurtsill—I mean, Big Jack, here, was about to say ten guineas. I will go that high.”

“I’m afraid it’s not high enough,” Max countered.

“You’re a fast study, mate.” Jack slapped him on the back but didn’t interfere. Instead, he turned a challenging smile on Abigail and waited for her response.

“Then go,” she said, shooing them away. “Take Mr. Whoever He Is and leave. I will not let you rob me. Not if I can help it.”

“And what if you can’t?” Insolence lit the eyes of the man identified as Max. “Perhaps we should wait here for your father. No doubt he will have better sense of what a corpse is worth at the present time, although I doubt he would want us loitering about the place. What’s it been…eighteen months or so since those two surgeons were prosecuted for receiving and dissecting stolen bodies? With a possible knighthood on the horizon, and such a close tie to Sir Astley Cooper—the sergeant surgeon of the late king himself, no less—it would be quite unfortunate if your father were to be found dealing with the likes of us, wouldn’t you say?”

Abigail’s jaw dropped at the not-so-subtle threat. Perhaps she had underestimated these sack ’em up men. This man, anyway. “If what you have brought is worth so much Mr.…Max, is it?”

He gave her a mocking bow and added his last name, as if to prove he feared nothing from her. “Wilder. Maximillian Wilder at your service, Miss.”

Displaying Cover_A Matter of Grave Concern.jpgMy Thoughts:

I loved this book. It was the perfect blend of intriguing romantic suspense and fascinating historical details. The heroine is bold, intellectual, do-what-needs-to-be-done Abigail. I liked her immediately and grew to like her even more as the story progressed. Max, on the other hand, took some getting to know, and even then I wanted to smack him upside the head sometimes. I always forgave him, though...eventually.

I've read a lot of books set in the time period (early to mid-1800s), but none about the resurrectionists, so it was interesting to learn some new things. The author stayed away from the gorier details of body snatching, instead touching more on the controversy surrounding it.

Interesting historical setting and moral issues aside, this book had a good story. The action scenes and romantic scenes were well-balanced and the heroine - did I mention I loved the heroine? - was strong and occasionally surprising. The ending was just a trifle rushed and neatly tied up, but only a little bit.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good adventure with plenty of kissing and a little more substance than your typical romance novel.

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme). Ratings may contain spoilers.

I rate it 5.10 for some mild to mid-level swearing.

I give it an 8.10 for multiple scenes of varying explicitness.

I rate it a 7.10 for murder, intended rape, references to sexual abuse and injuries, none of which are graphically described.

About the Author:

Displaying Author Pic.jpgNew York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak is the author of more than fifty books. A four-time Rita nominee, she has won many awards, including the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, and the Holt Medallion. She also runs an annual on-line auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised over $2 million. For more about Brenda, please visit www.brendanovak.com.

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Buy link


And here's the giveaway! Ms. Novak is giving away a $100 Amazon gift-card to one random winner during the tour! Best of luck to you all; please feel free to leave a comment and check out the rest of the tour. Dates and blog links can be found here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Series Review: The Titan Series by Cristin Harber, Part 1

The Titan Series (Books 1-3)
by Cristin Harber

Genre: Action / Romance / Adventure / Suspense / Espionage

Ages: 18 and up

I received e-copies of this series through the author and NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Since the series has three books and two novellas (with another novel on the way), I've divided the review into parts.

Winter's Heat

After putting her life on the line to protect classified intelligence, military psychologist Mia Kensington is on a cross-country road trip from hell with an intrusive save-the-day hero. She'd rather take her chances without the ruggedly handsome, cold-blooded operative who boasts an alpha complex and too many guns.

Colby Winters, an elite member of The Titan Group, has a single objective on his black ops mission: recover a document important to national security. It was supposed to be an easy in-and-out operation. But now, by any means necessary becomes a survival mantra when he faces off with a stunning woman he can't leave behind.

When Titan's safe houses are compromised, Colby stashes Mia at his home, exposing his secret--he's the adoptive father of an orphaned baby girl. Too soon, danger arrives and Mia lands in the hands of a sadistic cartel king with a taste for torture. As hours bleed into fear-drenched days, Colby races across the globe and through a firestorm of bullets to save the woman he can't live without.

My Thoughts:

This book jumps right into the action with a kidnapping and rescue in the first chapter, making me feel like I was watching an action movie. Despite that, it took me a little while to get into it. The pacing at first was a bit awkward, making me wonder once or twice what the heck was going on, but that cleared up in the first quarter of the book and it was smooth sailing from there on out with a fun, romantic adventure.

Mia and Colby are a good, straightforward pair of protagonists with excellent chemistry. They do have jump-into-bed-too-fast syndrome, but it was done well enough that they didn't lose the tension and spark that makes a romance entertaining. Plus they still had to learn each others' secrets. Arriving at Colby's home and meeting both his mother and adopted daughter was an interesting twist that added dimension to their relationship.

All in all, this was a fun novel with solid characters and storyline and a few spectacular action scenes mixed in.

Garrison's Creed

Nicola is an injured CIA agent on the run from a failed undercover operation. Her escape plan shatters when she slams into the man who buried her a decade ago. Cash Garrison. Her first and only love. Now, sexier than her best memory and cradling a sniper's rifle, he has questions she can't answer. Why was she alive? And armed?

Cash is an elite member of a black ops organization, The Titan Group. He thought Nicola died his senior year of college and swore off love to focus on a decade of military missions. But when she shows up behind enemy lines, bleeding out and wielding a weapon, his heart and mind are unsure how to proceed.

Titan and the CIA join forces to uncover a mole hidden in a network of international terrorists and homegrown mobsters, teaming Cash and Nicola again. When disaster strikes, Nicola's hidden past makes her the hunted target and Cash's best kill shot may not be enough to save them.

My Thoughts:

Oh, this book could have been written just for me. A hero and heroine with a messy, painful past relationship, long lost relatives, a faked death...I've always had this thing for characters who fake their own deaths. From the first page I was gleefully glued to the page as I watched the whole glorious disaster unfold.

Garrison's Creed didn't have the minor pacing weirdness that Winter's Chase had, so there was nothing to mar my enjoyment. This book would make an awesome movie. Danger, betrayal, romance...what's not to like? Cash and Nicola have a great dynamic; he's shocked and angry that she never told him she was alive, and she's never really stopped loving him. The sparks are enough to singe anyone.

The more of the series I read, the more I like the Titan team as a whole; their banter and teasing and loyalty. They fit well together, but they each have distinctive, interesting personalities. The more I read, the more clearly I can hear their different voices.

While I liked the first book, I loved this one.

Westin's Chase

Jared Westin knows his reputation and likes it. He gets the job done. No emotion. No baggage. That's why his elite ops company, The Titan Group, is better than the best. They complete projects classified as mission impossible.

And then, in walks a woman as tough as she is sexy. His counterpart in every way, should he choose to admit it.

Ousted undercover ATF agent Lilly Chase only answers to "Sugar." Jared is the only man who can see past her leather-and-lipstick demeanor, and that revelation is terrifying. She was fired for helping Titan on a questionable arrest she should've ignored, then partnered with Jared's rival on an assignment in Afghanistan.

Saving Sugar isn't a normal rescue operation. It pits Titan against its rival, Jared against his nemesis. Chasing Sugar's heart isn't a simple task, either. She fights him, fights them, always ready to run. Jared must risk his life to save her--the woman whose bravado and surprising sweetness has given him the one thing he never had. Love.

My Thoughts:

Jared's story. I was looking forward to it with great anticipation, and it did not disappoint in the slightest.Jared and Sugar had such a sizzling chemistry, there were sparks flying on every page. Since they first met, their relationship has been one of bantering, occasional colleagues. Both of them try very hard to keep it that way, even though their friends know that they are perfect for each other. When they get caught up in one dangerous situation after another, though...You can see where this is going. It was endlessly entertaining watching master-of-all-he-surveys Jared fall in love with madcap, independent Sugar.

The storyline was good, with an evil twist. It wasn't all that much of a surprise twist, because there was quite a bit of foreshadowing, but rather more of a oh, no, I can't believe this is actually happening kind of twist. It was evil, but I loved it. At least, once I got past my initial anger at its sheer evilness.

Like the other Titan novels so far, this book is just fun. Explosions, gunfights, betrayals, steamy romance and addictive as heck.


Stay tuned for my reviews of the rest of the Titan Series thus far, coming soon. :)

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme). Ratings may contain spoilers.

I rate it 8.10 for strong language in all three books.

I give it 8.10 for multiple descriptive scenes of sexuality.

I rate it 8.10 for several scenes of violence, injuries, etc. and attempted rape.

                             Lieder Madchen