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New Book Alert.... Wrecked, By Shiloh Walker...

oh I’m such a sucker for Friends-to-Lovers stories, and this Shiloh Walker book due out in April, sounds especially good…

Blurb

In the nineties, Abigale Applegate and Zach Barnes were the most beloved sitcom child stars in the world. Then they grew up and left Hollywood behind…

Whatever happened to Abigale Applegate?

She’s been wondering the same thing.

With her Hollywood dreams long gone, Abigale now has a nice, neat, uncomplicated life—until the day her perfect fiancé needs to talk. Dumped, a little more than shattered, and totally confused, Abigale turns to Zach, her best friend since forever, to help her pick up the pieces. He does it with a gift—a copy of Wreck This Journal. She can vent her frustrations, and sketch out a new plan. Zach just hopes he’s part of it. Because he’s been in love with Abigale his entire life.

When the journal falls into Zach’s hands, he discovers Abigale wants a new man. And fast. Nothing more than a hot distraction. Zach has a strategy, too. He’s going to be that man. It’s his last chance. Abigale might be out to shake up her life, but Zach’s out to reinvent it. Now, all he has to do is convince Abigale that life can go as planned.

I think the blurb could definitely be improved upon, but I am all over the excerpt posted on Shiloh’s website:

Excerpt

Wine would have been a good idea, Abby thought.

Stretched out on her belly, she closed her eyes and tried to think about anything but the pain. Digging her nails into her palms, she tried to zone out.

“You okay?”

Zach’s hands on her weren’t helping her zone out, she decided. It was one hell of a distraction, but it wasn’t helping her zone out.

Swallowing the knot in her throat, she croaked out, “I’m as good as I think I can expect to be.”

“And how good is that?”

“Lousy.”

He laughed a little. “Why don’t you talk to me? We’re halfway done,” he said. “If you talk, you’ll get distracted and it will be done before you know it.”

“Okay.” She scrunched her eyes tightly closed and tried to think of something to say. Her mind was blank. “Shit. I don’t know what to talk about.”

“You always have something to talk about,” he teased, his voice low and easy and she knew even without looking at him that he was smiling.

“Not right now I don’t.” Well, she could think of a thing or two. But those things were really things she could say. Were they? No. She’d thought this through. She wasn’t going down that road with Zach.

“Okay. I’ll help. What is this new life plan you’ve got laid out? Besides the tattoo here?”

I plan on flipping my life upside down–

She bit her lip to keep from blurting that out. That would make him worry. She loved him dearly and she didn’t need him worrying about her right now. “It’s not a life plan exactly. It’s just a for-now plan,” she said slowly. “Some things to keep me distracted until I figure out what I’m going to do with myself. There’s the tattoo thing, which you’re obviously helping with. I’m going to try to stop worrying so much. One of them, though…I plan on calling up Roger and telling him off.”

He grunted. “Good plan.” Something soft brushed against her lower back and she hissed a little.

Damn it, that hurt. It felt like something was slicing right through her skin.

Distraction. Talk, damn it. About anything.

“I don’t get it,” she said softly, some of the confusion and pain breaking free. “I mean… I thought he loved me. How could he love me and walk away like that? Over the life I used to have? That’s what it’s all about. I used to be an actress. I’m not anymore—I haven’t been for years and I’m happy with that. How can he not see that? If he loved me, wouldn’t he be able to see that I don’t want to act anymore?”

Zach didn’t answer.

Turning her head, she peered over her shoulder at him.

He had his head bowed, the gold-streaked strands falling down and hiding his features from her.

“Zach?”

He sighed. “Do you really want to hear what I have to say about this right now, sugar?”

“I always want to hear what you have to say.”

“Okay.” He used the cloth again on her back and then bent down, staring at her skin like there was nothing else in the world but her back and the design he was inking onto her flesh. “He never loved you.”

It was a strike, square to her heart.

She closed her eyes.

“If he loved you, he wouldn’t treat you the way he did. When you walked into a room, it would have showed on his face…if he really loved you. Either he’d been so busy staring at you because he just had to see you, or he would have been looking away so nobody could see it. Except he was going to marry you–you were his and he had every right to let the world see how he felt.” Zach dabbed at her back again, still focused on the work.

She was almost glad of the pain now, because it was easier to think about how much it hurt than to think about what he had to say.

“But when you walked into a room, that f’ing prick was too busy either messing with his damned gadgets or looking at everybody else to see what they thought about you. He was in love with the idea of having Kate the cutie on his arm. But he never loved you.”

He paused what he doing and for a brief second, the world fell away as he looked up and met her eyes. “He never loved you, and the son of a bitch sure as hell didn’t deserve you, sugar.”

Her heart slammed against her ribs as his blue gaze held hers.

And then, as it felt like all the oxygen in the room had dwindled away, he turned his attention back to the task at hand.

It felt like he was flaying the flesh from her bones. And she decided that was just fine, because now she needed that distraction.

Was he right, she wondered? Had Roger ever loved her at all?

And more importantly…had she loved him?

“Okay, here are the important things,” Zach said as he studied the design. It was cute, sexy as hell and if he found out another guy was the one who got to press his lips to that dragonfly as where it curved low over the flare of her left hip, he thought he just might go insane. “I’ll send you home with some instructions on how to care for it, but you need to make sure you keep it clean. No scrubbing at it or anything–you need to be gentle when you wash it, but keep it clean. I’ve got some ointment I’ll send home with you and I’ll go into detail about using that, too.”

She was still staring at it over her shoulder in the mirror. Worrying her lower lip with her teeth and eying the dragonfly like she expected it to take flight or something.

“I need to get the bandage on,” he said softly.

“What? Oh.”

She continued to stand there and he reached up, pressed his hand between her shoulder blades. “Lean forward a little.”

Hunger screamed, jerking on the leash inside him as he eased the waistband of her skirt just a little lower so he could get the bandage in place. Bent over the table like that, he could so easily imagine pulling the hem of the skirt up. Slipping his hand between her thighs. Would she sigh? Moan?

No. This was Abby and she’d freak the hell out and then she’d run away and he’d lose her–

A soft, shaky sigh caught his attention as he smoothed the bandage down. Keeping his head bowed, he checked the mirror from under his lashes and his knees almost buckled.

Abby was staring at their reflection and her face was flushed.

What. The. Hell.

Abruptly, he stepped back and moved away. If he didn’t move away immediately, he was going to grab her and do things he never should do to his best friend. The woman he loved. That was the problem. He’d loved her for too long and he was misreading the signals and–

“Do you really think all that’s true? About Roger?”

Hearing that shithead’s name on her lips snapped his temper. He turned around and glared at her. “If I didn’t think that was the case, Abs, I wouldn’t have said it. He’s an egotistical, arrogant piece of work and he never loved you. You deserved a hell of a lot better and I knew it all along. But he was what you wanted so who in the hell was I to say any different?”

“You’re my best friend,” she said quietly.

“Shit.” He went to pass a hand over his face and stopped. He still had his gloves on. Stripping them off, he tossed them into the red trash can near the door and headed over start cleaning up. “Yes. I am. You asked me what I thought and I told you. But I can’t tell you what is in that fucker’s head. You can always ask him when you call him to tell him off, although I doubt he’ll tell you the truth. He doesn’t even see the truth anyway.”

“Have you ever been in love?”

In the middle of gathering up his supplies, he paused. Zach closed his eyes and started to mouth every single foul, nasty curse he could think of. He had four brothers. He could think of a lot of cuss words. Half way through one that involved anatomical improbabilities and a goat, a hand touched his shoulder.

“Zach?”

Damn it, he couldn’t do this. Moving away, he started grabbing shit at random. Dumping trash, slamming the tools here, there. Being careless with them, but he couldn’t look at her yet. If he did, she might see–

He went to dump the trash and turned around.

Abby was right there, dark brown eyes locked on his face, her shirt still knotted just under her breasts, leaving her belly bare.

“What is this?” she teased. “You make me play twenty questions all the time.”

Edging around her, he focused on cleaning up. “I’m thirty-two years old, Abby. Yeah. I’ve been in love,” he said, keeping his voice flat and his eyes on the task at hand. “It didn’t work out.”

“Why not?”

“She never seemed to notice that I was staring at her when she walked into the room.”

Yeah, she had me with that last line…

You can check out Shiloh Walker’s other books here, pre-order your copy from Amazon here, from Barnes & Noble here, and from The Book Depository, here.

Go fill your boots!

It's all Shiloh's fault

Shiloh would be the always classy Ms Walker, who is hosting a giveaway for Myke Cole’s upcoming book in her blog.

Now, it’s been quite a while since I’ve read straight fantasy. For many reasons, romance has been my staple when it comes to reading, for years now. Yes, I occasionally read other genres (I’ve even reviewed some and stuff) but it’s mostly romance for me.

However, after reading Mr Cole’s guest post over at Shiloh’s, I’m quite hyped about this fantasy novel. Whether I win it or not, I’m committing myself publicly to read it and reviewing it here soon¹.

What book, you ask?

Control Point, the first installment in Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops fantasy series.

Army Officer. Fugi­tive. Sorcerer.

Across the country and in every nation, people are waking up with mag­ical tal­ents. Untrained and pan­icked, they summon storms, raise the dead, and set every­thing they touch ablaze.

Army officer Oscar Britton sees the worst of it. A lieu­tenant attached to the military’s Super­nat­ural Oper­a­tions Corps, his mis­sion is to bring order to a world gone mad. Then he abruptly man­i­fests a rare and pro­hib­ited mag­ical power, trans­forming him overnight from gov­ern­ment agent to public enemy number one.

The SOC knows how to handle this kind of sit­u­a­tion: hunt him down–and take him out. Driven into an under­ground shadow world, Britton is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he’s ever known, and that his life isn’t the only thing he’s fighting for.

Oh, and I have to say that I really like how Mr Cole uses the theme of the novels for the layout of his website, particularly the placement of the series logo, with one small exception: it’s a bit dark for the eyes of some readers *coughI’manoldbroadcough*

 * * *

¹ (ish–have to allow for real life and the soul-suckiness of the real job to interfere)

People helping people (and yes, authors there too)

After yesterday’s edition of yet another over sensitive author deciding who is qualified to review her masterpiece, I bring you something refreshingly different:

Helping out.

*********************

In your lifetime, there are few moments when you’re given the opportunity to directly save another person’s life.-Bryan Mealer, HuffPo

If you had a chance to save somebody’s life, and it didn’t take all that much… would you do it?  Well, here’s that chance.

Check out Shiloh Walker’s blog for a chance to read how you can help save a man’s life…

*********************

You can read all the details over at Ms Walker’s blog, but here’s the short version: she’ll match a dollar per comment, up to $400, to donate to the fund to finance the kidney transplant that Congo minister Marrion P’Udongo needs to survive.

Right now there are close to 200 comments in that thread–go, leave yours, and help save a good man’s life.

Yes, I’m beyond giddy! It feels like I’ve waited for this book forever!

Stay tuned, I’ll be giving away two of ‘em…

Hunter's NeedUp to the end of September, there are ARCs of Hunter’s Need , Ms Walker’s December release in the Hunters series, up for grabs over at her blog!

A few lucky people will get a signed ARC and find out what happens between Ana and Duke (remember them? We met them in Hunting the Hunter), well before the release date.

Perfect for taunting fans of the series, wouldn’t you say? And getting your name in the drawing couldn’t be easier!

Here are the basic highlights on how to enter the giveaway:

(more…)

Gaudy Night, by Dorothy L. SayersGaudy Night

The tenth in Ms Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey novels, Gaudy Night is the third and most crucial book in the Harriet Vane story arc; it is also the first to be told entirely from Harriet’s point of view. Both this and the almost claustrophobic setting allow the reader insights into both her character and Peter’s that have only been glimpsed in previous books.

I feel that it must be noted that, while there is a quote on the cover from The Los Angeles Times touting Ms Sayers as “One of the greatest mystery story writers of this century”, it is not the mystery side of her writing that makes her novels—and Gaudy Night in particular—so incredibly appealing and so wonderful to re-read.

No, it’s not the mystery; it’s her incredibly deft use of the English language—her dialogue, her descriptions, her literary references—and how she makes these people come vividly alive on the page. (more…)

After two weeks, I’m finally putting down my impressions from the insanity that is a book signing involving more than a couple hundred authors, and ten times as many fans1. As I mentioned before, the energy in that ballroom (conference room? whatever it was) was extraordinary.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me backtrack a little.

ann-aguirre-rt-09-3Ann Aguirre picked me up early on Saturday, so that we would have some time for breakfast before she had to start setting up for the signing. We had met face to face, for the first time after over a year of emailing and chatting, only that Tuesday. Let me tell you that Ann is a very funny person, as well as very down to earth. Hell, she made us dinner and everything!

(Yes, epic failure of my hostess skills-don’t tell my mother, please)

Anyway, Ann had to be inside the… well, the ginormous room for quite a while before, first, the convention attendees, and then the general public could enter, so I waited in line for a while. What does one do when standing around without a book (really, it would have been a bit like bringing a lump of coal to a mine, you know), but people watch? And so I did. (more…)

Embraced by Love, by Suzanne Brockmann

(I am in a Suzanne Brockmann kick, have you noticed? Well, what’s a woman to do, when she has written so many of my favorites?)

Embraced by Love is Ms Brockmann’s third published novel, originally released by the now defunct Pinnacle in 1995 and reissued by Ballantine just shy of its ten year anniversary. It is a good thing it was reissued, because for a while it was impossible to find a copy to read. Anyway, I got my s.o. his very own copy, we read it, and here’s our joint review.

But first, the blurb in the reissued version:

Josie and Cooper were one of those couples everyone envied: gorgeous, successful, and so deeply devoted. Even though Josie tended to work too hard, putting in long hours to lift her fledgling company off the ground, and Cooper could be wild and unpredictable, the two complemented each other. It seemed their love would last forever.

But sometimes love just isn’t enough. When a tragic accident leaves Josie and Cooper with two young children to care for, their bond will be tested. Now the pressures of their commanding careers are compounded by the needs of the children, and they find themselves drifting further apart. They will have to work to find the way back to each other, to the incredible passion that was once at the center of their lives—and still burns deep in their hearts…

(more…)

Please note, I’m going to try to keep this message up here for a while, so for new posts, please look below.

Sharon Cullars, the author of Again and The Object of Love needs our help. Since losing her job, she has been unable to find another. As a result, Sharon is about to lose her home to foreclosure.

Any donation you can make to help out will be greatly appreciated. You can make a contribution via PayPal by stopping at CHIP IN: SHARON CULLARS.

If you’re not familiar with Sharon and would like to learn more about her and her work, you can visit her web site (Sharon Cullars) and blog (Sharon’s Muse).

It would be great if you guys could help spread the word, so please feel free to copy and paste this info onto your blog.


(If the widget doesn’t work, just click on the Chip In link)

Thanks muchly.

From Paz Edwards’ blog.

Lord and Master, by Jules Jones

Back in July, I read and enjoyed Ms Jones’ short story “Black Leather Rose” and ever since have had a hankering for more of her writing. Very kindly, she sent me review copies of both Lord and Master and its sequel, Lord and Master 2, and even though it’s been a few months (me, ssssllllloooooowwwwww) she’s been extremely patient with me. A few days ago I was finally able to sink into Lord and Master and oh man! what a treat it was!

Published by Loose Id as an erotic romance, it has the following publisher’s note: “Lord and Master is a homoerotic love story. As such it depicts sexual content that may be objectionable to some readers: male/male sexual practices.” It also has explicit language and is pure contemporary romance (which should delight the peeps at Smart Bitches and Dear Author *said innocently*).

Here’s the (yay, good!!!) blurb:

When Mark’s PhD supervisor sent him for a job interview with an old university friend, he didn’t mention that the friend was devastatingly handsome. He also neglected to mention to either that the other is gay.

Steven was just looking for a young scientist to train as a PA to help him run his technology company. No extra services required. But watching other people react to a young, pretty man playing secretary to an openly gay CEO amused them both. Watching people wonder if they were having an affair was an entertaining game.

But when the game became real and caught them both up, Mark was left wondering… how real? Because he’s the one PA in the building who can’t marry the boss.

(more…)

Talking with the Dead, by Shiloh Walker

Originally published by Samhain in November 2006, this novella length story by Ms Walker caught my eye recently when it was reviewed by the inimitable SBSarah here. Eagle eye readers will notice quickly that she gave Talking with the Dead a C-.

If you are familiar with the most irreverent Smart Bitches who love Trashy Books, you understand immediately why I would be moved to search for and read a story with such a grade. If you are not familiar with them… where have you been? Nevermind. Hie thee over to their blog posthaste, and edumacate yourself. (If you are truly pressed for time, you can see Ms Walker’s reaction to the grade here) (more…)

Prize will be:

  • ARC of FRAGILE, my 2/09 release (this will not be mailed until January)
  • Gift Certificate for $40 to the bookstore of your choice (as long as I can purchase the GC certificate online, you can pick whatever bookstore you want)
  • Two books from my available backlist
  • Goody bag. (more…)

Guilty Needs, by Shiloh Walker

Should I admit upfront that I’m a fan of Ms Walker’s? Well, I am. And I think her writing gets better with each book.

At 150 pages, Guilty Needs is a longish novella rather than a full novel and despite its (lack of) length, it manages to be a very engaging read. How engaging, you ask? Well… My eyes are burning and I’m awake in the middle of the night after having read it in one sitting. One. At the stupid desktop. (Yes, I know I need a better way to read e-books, thank you.)

The usual warning: this erotic romance has graphic language and sexual content. If you are a minor, or bothered by either of the above, do yourself a favor and don’t read on. Thank you. (more…)

We all love drama. The more convoluted, drawn out, ridiculous it is, the more we love it.

Some of us love it behind closed doors—or in the case of these here intrawebz, by lurking quietly in the background. And some of us have to be on hand wherever pieces of the wreckage happen to fall. The majority of us, like any good normal distribution, fall somewhere in between these extremes. And more power to us, really.

But occasionally, even the most stalwart among us get a tad fed up with all the screeching of “mean girlz” and the batshit crazy, so today I would like to list some of the amazingly cool people I’ve met around blogland this year. I say some because I’m liable to forget one or more (please do forgive me if your name isn’t mentioned—I’m having a CRS* day) (Perhaps I shouldn’t write this now…) (But then, there’s no guarantee I’ll ever get over the CRS*) (more…)

Today we welcome the talented Lauren Dane!

Ready to be grilled? :evil :grin: :

How long have you been writing? (i.e., “since before I could write” or “I just started when…”)

I’m one of those, “Oh I’ve always loved to write” people but I’m also a practical girl so while I wrote for my college newspaper and had a ‘zine with my husband and did the odd poem and short story here and there, I never planned to be a writer. I went to law school instead, LOL.

But then through a host of things happening in my life I ended up on a lot of bed rest when I was pregnant with my daughter and thought, “Hey, maybe I’ll give that writing thing a try.” My husband brought home a second hand laptop and I wrote Triad.

That was in 2004 and I’ve been fortunate enough to build something with my writing since.

Would you share your THE CALL story with us? The catch: one paragraph :grin:

I had “the email” experience with my earlier books, which was wonderful but when I sold my first single title to Berkley I got the actual “call” from my agent. I hadn’t been expecting it and when I heard it was her, I said, “You’d better be calling to tell me you sold something,” as a joke. She laughed and said, “Well, I am.” I burst into tears and sat on my stairs while my kids milled around wondering why I was weeping like a baby, scribbling details on piece of paper I still have to this day. (more…)

Black Leather Rose, by Jules Jones

This short m/m e-story published by Loose Id is my first exposure to Ms Jones’ writing and I have to say that I’m delighted. My only complaint is that instead of a full length book it’s a novella. Despite the length—or lack of it—the characterization and set up are truly excellent.

Usual disclaimer: this story has very little sex, and it’s not truly graphic, but it is still what we call “adult content.”

Here’s the blurb:

John just wants a little privacy. He finds it in a shared house with flatmates who are friendly without being intrusive; people who don’t pry into his personal things or his personal life. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the landlord is an attractive man who doesn’t assume that attraction means an automatic invitation.

He’s a dom with a bad history of relationships going sour because of his needs, so he’s in no hurry to expose his private desires. He’d rather just enjoy the view. Lucky for him, his landlord Charles has a liking for mysterious parcels, and he’s got the patience to wait to find the rose behind the thorns.

The bulk of the story is told from John’s point of view, with just a couple short passages told from Charles’ side. While a couple of other characters play secondary roles that move the story forward, this is definitely about the relationship.

There are no car chases, no murder mysteries, no external gimmicks to make this story anything but what it is: the lovely and hopeful beginning to a romantic relationship between two people who have just started to know each other.

I like the characterization, because it’s clean and done through showing rather than telling. The feelings and reactions of the characters are adult and very well conveyed through the written word. Black Leather Rose is definitely an adult story and not a child’s fairytale, even though there is very little actual sex in it.

My only complaint is that I really would like to see what happens next with these two…

8 out of 10

Black Leather Rose is only available as an ebook from Loose Id.

This is not, by any means, a new topic around blogland. It’s been discussed ad nauseam in many places and by readers and writers alike. (I’ll even add a nifty list of links to previous conversations at the bottom of this post, for those who just got here) However, given a recent example of loud, unprofessional and childish behaviour from yet another author, it seems that the topic has not yet been exhausted.

So let’s recap, shall we?

Good promotion should cost as little as possible and result in the highest number of actual sales possible.

Reviews from readers who bought the book themselves are free promotion for the author—which definitely falls into the ‘good promotion’ definition above. Regardless of the actual tone or grade of the review, it puts the book’s title and the author’s name out there for other readers to become aware of. Name recognition, in other words. If I know your book exists, if I know your name, it’s more likely that I’ll at least check out the back blurb of a book with your name on it than that of a dozen other writers whose names I don’t recognize, when I’m looking over the book aisle in the grocery store.

Many blog readers will read a review wherein the reviewer didn’t like the book, but because they, the readers, know the reviewer’s tastes and how they mesh or differ from their own, they will buy that book. Many of those potential sales, though, can be lost when the author feels the need to publicly explain how the reviewer didn’t like the book because she “didn’t get what the author was doing.”

It may be true, at least from the author’s point of view, but it is also irrelevant. The reviewer didn’t like the book, she explained why, she moved on.

Seriously, there is no need whatsoever to tell her that she didn’t get the book—or the author’s voice, or whatever it is—because she’s stupid. Or shallow. Or too afraid to read outside her comfort zone. Or whatever the condescending and insulting remark du jour may be.

Because, whether any of those remarks is true or not, will not change the fact that the reviewer didn’t. like. That. One. Book.

She may have liked other books by that author in the past. She may look forward to future books by that author. She just didn’t like that one book. It is not open to debate. “Explaining” the book to that reader won’t make that reader like it

So, what to do in the face of non-glowing, rather blah, or outright horrid reviews that slash your book into confetti? (more…)

The second Dorothy Koomson book that I read this week was The Chocolate Run, and oh my, it was good. Actually, it was better than good, it was bloody fantastic.

Amber Salpone keeps ending up in bed with her best male friend, Greg, who by his own admission is a bit of a tart. The veritable ladies man, who’s never met a woman he didn’t want to have sex with.

When they first met, Amber was convinced he was an asshole, but little by little, they became the best of friends, and Amber became the person he rang whenever he found himself in a spot of bother. (usually when  trying to extricate himself from yet another clingy woman, who didn’t realise that all he wanted from them was sex.)

Greg was the quintessential womanising bastard who really shouldn’t have been likeable, but oh my, I loved him to bits.

Amber had never thought of Greg like that before they ended up in bed, but to her consternation, it was the best sex she’d ever had. After they’d done the deed (many times) they vow to never repeat the event, and pretend it never happened. The problem is, they just can’t keep their hands off each other.

They decide to keep getting horizontal (and vertical come to think of it), but Amber insists on keeping their nocturnal activites quiet from their best friends, Matt and Jen.  Jen is Amber’s best friend and Matt is Greg’s best friend.

Amber feels very guilty about keeping her friend in the dark about her fling with Greg,  but she doesn’t expect it to last beyond two weeks, so she launches herself into the affair, fully expecting the other shoe to fall at any time.

Amber is a commitment phobe who doesn’t believe in the sanctity of marriage, and she assumes that Greg feels exactly the same way. The problem is, Greg has secretly been in love with her for the last two years, and has been waiting for the perfect time to get his hands on her. Now that he’s got her, he wants to keep her, but he has to be underhanded about his intentions, because he knows that he’ll scare her if he makes any sudden moves towards making their relationship more permanent.

Whilst Amber struggles with her growing feelings for Greg, she’s conscious of the fact that there seems to be a gulf between her and her best friend, Jen. She feels guilty for not telling Jen about her affair with Greg, but she knows that it will cause friction between them if she does.

Amber wants to find a way back to her best friend, but fears that she may lose Greg in the process. What she doesn’t realise, is that there are secrets, that when revealed, will test the strength of all their relationships.

The Chocolate Run was one of those books that hooks you from the first page, and keeps a stranglehold until you finish. I started reading it at about twelve o’clock midnight (after another insanely busy day), and didn’t put it down until I’d finished.

Once again, as per all of Koomson’s books so far, The Chocolate Run is told from the heroine’s point of view. I enjoyed Amber’s thought processes immensely, and I loved the way she equated the people she met to different types of chocolate.

Oh, I may not have mentioned it, but Amber was a chocoholic. She had a habit of running to the supermarket (especially when going through stressful periods) and systematically looking for the perfect chocolate to buy at that moment.  This was generally done by conducting a highly scientific sniffing test. These moments were highly amusing.

One thing I loved about Amber was how humorous she was. I found myself laughing during her self-analysis phases, something that she went through quite often. She had a self-deprecating type of sense of humour, which appealed to me.

As for Greg, well I simply loved him. Yes he was a womanising swine, but this reader could see that Amber was his world. He realised that he’d have to work extra hard with Amber, seeing as she’d witnessed first hand the devastation he left behind after his affairs went sour, but he wanted to take that challenge, because for him, she was The One.

Greg was warm and humorous, but could also be madly jealous and clingy. I loved that this confident, notorious lothario could be brought down low, with just one thoughtless word from the heroine. I liked that he wasn’t as secure with her, as he was with other women. For me, it proved that she was special to him. What can I say, I love that dynamic in my romance.

One of the most moving moments was towards the end of the book, when he fears that he’s going to lose Amber and he begs her to stay with him. He cries in that scene, and oh my soft little heart really felt his pain.

The secondary characters in the book were also superbly written,  and none of them were surplus to requirement.

Something else I loved about the book, was the setting. The Chocolate Run was set in Leeds, and it was wonderful reading about places that I’m familiar with. For instance, I attended a graduation ball at the Queen’s Hotel in Leeds many years ago, and myself and some friends got very drunk in Yates’s pub, whilst on a pub crawl. It gave me such a thrill to read about shopping on Albion Street, and walking into the Virgin music shop.

The Chocolate Run is at heart, a friends-to-lovers romance, but with so much more depth than your average traditional romance. It examines the vagaries of friendships, and how they evolve over time. It was an extremely smart, well-written, witty, deliciously poignant book, that both elevated my spirits, and sunk me low. I mostly laughed, then I cried, and then I laughed again.

Having read Koomson before, I was fearful that the book wouldn’t end the way I wanted it to, but luckily this time, I got my happy ending.

What more could this avid romance reader ask for?

You can read an excerpt of The Chocolate Run here, buy from Amazon.com here, and Amazon UK here.

BTW, how lovely is that cover?

You guys already know about my love affair with Koomson’s My Best Friend’s Girl, but what you don’t know is, how much I love her other books.

It’s been an insanely busy week (hence the lack of scheduled posts) but I still managed to fit in two DIK-worthy Dorothy Koomson books.

I’ve always maintained that I’m easy to please when it comes to books. (No, really, I am) I’m not someone who dwells on flaws when a book leaves me feeling fantastic. I’m not particularly pernickety when it comes to character inconsistencies, as long as the book made me happy. Sometimes endings are rushed and maybe aren’t as satisfactory as they could be, but I am mostly all about the pleasure gained during the reading of said book.

Well, I can safely say that the one thing that Dorothy Koomson has provided me with this week, is hours of reading pleasure.

In Marshmallows For Breakfast, our heroine, Kendra has just returned from Australia and needs somewhere to live. She rents a room from Kyle, a separated father of twins, Summer and Jaxon, and starts a new job. Kendra’s looking for peace in her life, having run away from a somewhat tragic situation in Australia.

The twins however have other ideas though, and invade Kendra’s life in every way possible. They love her because she lets them eat marshmallows for breakfast on Saturdays, and makes their world a little lighter and brighter than before. To them she represents security, something they’ve had very little of in their short lives.

Against her wishes, Kendra gets embroiled in the tapestry of their lives, and she soon finds herself mending broken hearts and tired minds.

Marshmallows For Breakfast was just a wonderful, wonderful book, that made me laugh and cry. Although told from a first person pov (Kendra’s), Koomson’s talent when it comes to breathing life into her characters is evident, even when viewed through the eyes of one person.

One of the most beautiful things about Marshmallows For Breakfast is the relationship between Kendra and the children, Kendra who wants nothing more than to get on with her new job, and avoid other people’s drama, falls in love with the twins, and does her best to give them the things they are missing, whilst trying to keep her heart intact. Something that she fails miserably at. She considers them her children, even though she knows full well, that there is a ticking clock on their makeshift family.

Kendra’s relationship with the twins’ father develops very slowly, but they have a connection that is undeniable. This isn’t a traditional romance, so if you purchase this book, you should do so knowing that there will be romance no-nos, that may leave you reeling. No I’m not talking about infidelity, but it’s important that you know that this isn’t a Mills and Boon book. There’s lots of pain, harrowing situations, and real life problems.

Marshmallows For Breakfast deals with a variety of familial ills, as well as what happens when you let secrets take over your life.

This was a grand, grand book, that probably shouldn’t be read by the romance purist.

You can visit Dorothy Koomson’s website here, read an excerpt here, and buy the book from Amazon UK here, or Amazon.com here.

Once again, note the subtlety of the cover.

Remember how I bitched about Beverly Havlir never updating her website? Well waddaya know, she has a book out today called Educating Emily. I was a little worried about the title because whenever I see the word ‘educating’, included in an erotic romance title, the theme is usually BDSM-centric, which just isn’t my cuppa. All that flogging and submissive bollocks gives me the heeby geebies. I’d rather poke myself in the eye with a hot fork methinks.

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that it’s not a BDSM book. Thank Oprah for that.

Here’s the blurb:

How to drive a man insane in bed.

That’s the subject of Emily Sinclair’s latest article for her online magazine. And she has just the guy in mind to teach her — Devlin McKay. After all, she’s fantasized about the hottie next door for years.

Devlin is shocked by Emily’s proposition, not to mention aroused. She’s definitely not a kid anymore, and she’s not just sexy — she’s irresistible. He agrees to be her sexual mentor, but he has a proposition of his own. When the lessons are over, they will each go their separate ways. He’s not in the market for a relationship.

One night in the classroom — well, bedroom — and Devlin is singing a different tune. Not only is Emily Sinclair all grown up, but she has a lot to teach him, too.

Yeah, the blurb needs work. If I’d happened upon this book without being familiar with the author’s writing, I’d have passed right over it, but whatever, it’s a Havlir baby!

Anyway, I’m off to buy and read!