What to read Wednesday – Unbound by Cara McKenna

Unbound by Cara McKennaShe set out to find herself, and discovered the darker side of desire.

Merry’s lost a lot recently—first her mother, then close to a hundred pounds. Feeling adrift, she strikes out in search of perspective. A three-week hike through the Scottish Highlands was supposed to challenge her new body and refocus her priorities, but when disaster strikes, she’s forced to seek refuge in the remote home of a brooding, handsome stranger…

Rob exiled himself to the Highlands years ago, desperate to escape his own self-destruction. Haunted by regrets, he avoids human contact at all costs…but when Merry turns up injured, he can’t very well run her off. And as he nurses her back to health, Rob can’t resist his guest’s sweet demeanor—or her flirtatious advances. The igniting passion between them rouses a secret appetite Rob has long struggled to keep hidden. But Merry craves nothing more than to help Rob surrender to his desires, and the journey draws the lovers into an entirelydifferent kind of wilderness.

Goodreads Button

What I thought pink

I have the biggest girl-crush on Cara Mckenna. Since I first read another of her books, Willing Victim, she’s been on my list of must-read authors. Whenever she has a new book coming out I find myself eyeing up the calendar like it’s my birthday. It’s fair to say that as soon as I opened the book, I was expecting it to be great.

I’m delighted to say McKenna didn’t disappoint. While the hero—Rob Rush—deviates from her usual, built, alpha male, (in attitude if not in physique) he was a beautifully depicted character. His flaws and problems have led him to hole himself up in a shack in the middle of the Scottish Highlands, far away from civilized society.

It’s here that the heroine—Merry—first encounters him. She’s been hiking in the Scottish hills and has been struck down by a vomiting bug. In need of shelter and medical help, she finds herself hammering at Rob’s ramshackle door.

What follows is a journey into the unknown for the both of them. At first they are wary of each other, Rob is taciturn and stoic, Merry over-talkative and grating. But gradually they become attracted to each other, leading to a hot encounter with a bed and a length of rope.

But the path of true love, or lust, never did run smooth. For Rob is a recovering alcoholic, and Merry is intent on returning to civilization and dragging him with her. When they both reach Inverness, he is confronted by the easy acquisition of alcohol for the first time in years. What follows is cataclysmic for them both.

An erotic romance that reaches deep into the psyche of both protagonists, Unbound isn’t always the easiest read. For those who prefer their men to be the dominants in a BDSM encounter, this may be challenging. For me, though, I loved the way the story made me question what I found attractive in a man, and made me realize that a hero doesn’t have to be an alpha to be hot as hell. It’s a testament to Cara McKenna’s excellent writing that I found myself falling a little in love with Rob Rush right alongside Merry.

I’d give this story five, rope-burned, hot as hell stars.

gold-stars_zps9723be0b

Fun Friday – Where I talk about writing, editing and why I’ve jinxed the weather.

mountain_stream_in_autumn_192284

It’s been a crazy few weeks. Everything seems to have come at once. I’m delighted to say I’ve finished the editing for Halfway Hidden and have now sent it off to be proofed. The cover reveal happened last week, and I was so pleased with everybody’s comments. I really love the design, and was excited to be able to finally share it. To top it all off, I’ve become consumed by a new story that I couldn’t get out of my mind.

With a working title of Unexpected, my latest project is a full-length, New Adult novel. I’m already in love with the characters, and the plot makes my heart race a little. I’m planning on getting it finished by the end of November, ready for editing. For the moment, it is spilling onto the page at a fast rate, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this continues.

It’s a completely different beast to Halfway Hidden, not only in genre, but also in tone and length. Writing it has taken me out of my comfort zone in a good way, and I’m really looking forward to getting it polished up and out there. I’ll let you know more details as soon as I do.

I’ve also been super-busy at work, as well as doing the usual, mom-type activities with the young’uns, and trying to keep the house from looking like it has a layer of nuclear dust throughout. We have some lovely friends coming to stay this weekend, and I’d rather not clog their airways with dust motes. On the plus side, we’re planning on taking them to London on Saturday. It’s not often that somebody goes to the Big Smog just to get some fresh air, but hey, that’s just the way we roll.

Well, that’s about it for now. I hope you all have an amazing weekend. As we’ll be spending most of it outside, sightseeing, it will almost certainly rain. Have a great one no matter what you do. And thanks for reading.

Carrie Pink

What to Read Wednesday – Good by S. Walden

This week’s recommendation is Good by S. Walden.

Good by S. Walden

Cadence Miller is a good girl. She just happens to make one terrible mistake her junior year in high school which costs her ten months in juvenile detention. Now a senior, she’s lost everything: her best friend, the trust of her parents, driving privileges, Internet access. It’s a lonely existence.

But there is one bright spot: Mark Connelly, her very cute, very off-limits 28-year-old calculus teacher. She falls hard for him—a ridiculous schoolgirl crush headed nowhere. She can’t help it. He’s the only good thing at Crestview High. She doesn’t expect him to reciprocate her feelings. How inappropriate, right? But he does. And he shows her.

And that’s when her life goes from bad to good.

What I thought pink

When the book opens, Cadence is working on a modern-day equivalent of a chain gang. A juvenile offender, she’s forced to wear an orange jumpsuit and pick litter up off the road. While following the trail of debris, she comes across a good looking guy changing out his flat tire. In spite of the close scrutiny of her supervisor, she chats with him a bit, his sweet charm and interesting clothes a bright spot in an otherwise dreary day.

Flash forward a few months. Cadence is now back home, having to go back to school and face her senior year after nearly ten months in juvie. She’s dreading going back to high school, and she’s right to feel that way. From the start she is the subject of ridicule. Nasty notes are stashed in her locker, kids shout names at her as she walks down the hallway. And then, to top off a great day, she walks into her math class to find her new teacher is none other than the tire-changing hottie she met while in juvenile detention.

As the story unfolds, we see Cadence trying to be good. She made one—big—mistake, but nobody is allowing her to forget it. Her parents don’t trust her at all, her little brother has no patience for her, and her ex-best friend won’t even speak to her, at school or outside. The only light in an otherwise dark existence is her math teacher. And that’s where things start to get murky.

S. Walden treads a very careful line during this story, and I loved the way she didn’t try to glamorize the situation or paint Mr. Connelly into a good light. From the start I found myself suspicious of him and his motives, even when he seemed to be saying or doing the right things. But as Cadence came to trust him, I found myself softening too. He seemed to truly care for her, and was the one person who could see through the tough exterior of her past into the sweet girl inside. And when they finally consummated their relationship—after her eighteenth birthday—it was a beautiful, passionate moment.

Good isn’t a glossy, easy read. It is a story about a forbidden relationship, after all. All the characters have flaws, and at times make you want to scream, shout and berate them. But it is artfully written, perfectly plotted with characters that seem to pop off the page. I’m not ashamed to say I loved every word. If you like your characters broken, your stories edgy and your climaxes explosive, then Good is definitely for you. Go read now!

Five naughty, taboo-like stars.

gold-stars_zps9723be0b

Cover Reveal – Halfway Hidden by Carrie Elks

I’m delighted to be able to share the cover for my first novella – Halfway Hidden. You can find this book on Goodreads.  To join my mailing list (for details of new releases) please sign up here.

And now, without further ado, I present to you the cover for Halfway Hidden. I hope you love it as much as I do.

Halfway Hidden - Imprint

Mayhem Publishing’s After Dark imprint is pleased to reveal the cover  for Carrie Elks’ forthcoming novella, Halfway Hidden

When fear mixes with desire, who can you trust?

Rachel Stone is stuck, contemplating that very question. Spending her time as a bartender in an isolated West Virginia town, she hides behind dark hair and an assumed name. She exists from day to day, trying not to let her past overwhelm her.

When a tall stranger walks into the bar at closing time, her attempts at hiding turn to dust. Muscled and intense, he is attractive enough for Rachel to ignore her instincts and listen to her baser desires. As a storm brews in the skies of West Virginia, confusion builds in Rachel’s mind. What begins as flirtation explodes into a darker, more primal passion, leading her to question everything she thought she knew. 

While snow blankets the outside world, they are forced to remain inside, confronting their demons and the sizzling attraction between them. Submitting to their urges is easy; learning who to trust is anything but.

Advisory: This novella contains references to past abuse, and rough consensual sex.

Halfway Hidden will be released in November, 2013.

Cover by Mayhem Cover Creations

What to Read Wednesday – Where We Fell by Amber L. Johnson

This week’s recommendation is Where We Fell, by Amber L. Johnson.

ce228-wherewefellfinalcover

 

Oliver Bishop is having a seriously bad day. With one diagnosis, his life suddenly has an expiration date. Confused about the numbness he has to the idea of it, he unwittingly puts himself directly in the sights of a girl that just may give him a reason to fight – and to live. 

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.

What I thought pink

Seventeen; an age when you have everything to look forward to – college, girls, and a summer of post-graduation relaxation. But not Oliver Bishop. After falling over during track, he discovers a lump in his leg, and his normal, teenage life is transformed into a blur of hospital appointments, treatments and panicking parents.

Then, one day, he walks into a local diner and is served by Hannah Hartwell, a local girl who has just finished her freshman year at college. The daughter of an oncologist and cancer survivor, she knows something is wrong, and so begins a beautiful and tender relationship with the two of them, as they come to terms with Oliver’s cancer diagnosis.

Heartbreaking at times, hopeful at others, this novella is so beautifully and whimsically written that I had to read it in one sitting. Johnson’s characterizations were perfectly formed and they made me feel I was part of the book. Even smaller characters, such as his Environmental Science teacher, are deftly carved with few words; his short-sleeve, button-down shirt and pleated khakis bringing him to life like an actor has just stepped into his clothes.

Where We Fell is a love story as well as a tale of survival, as we see the burgeoning relationship between Oliver and Hannah. And though their path isn’t smooth – it isn’t just Oliver’s diagnosis, but his reactions that make the road bumpy – it is emotional and enjoyable and pulls your heart strings in a perfect way. I particularly enjoyed reading about Oliver’s relationship with his parents, the way they were so supportive yet understanding, knowing their son was facing the fight of his life at a time when he should be fleeing the nest.

This was a little slice of perfection, wrapped with beautiful words and interesting characters. I loved everything about it, and have no hesitation in awarding five, perfect stars.

NB: This book will be published on 28th October.

gold-stars_zps9723be0b

What to Read Wednesday

This week’s recommendation is Painted Faces, by L.H. Cosway.

Painted Faces
Dublin native Freda Wilson considers herself to be an acquired taste. She has a habit of making offensive jokes and speaking her mind too often. She doesn’t have the best track record with first impressions, which is why she gets a surprise when her new neighbour Nicholas takes a shine to her.

Nicholas is darkly handsome, funny and magnetic, and Freda feels like her black and white existence is plunged into a rainbow of colour when she’s around him. When he walks into a room he lights it up, with his quick wit and charisma. He is a travelling cabaret performer, but Freda doesn’t know exactly what that entails until the curtains pull back on his opening night.

She is gob-smacked and entirely intrigued to see him take to the stage in drag. Later on, Nicholas asks her if she would like to become his show assistant. Excited by the idea, she jumps at the chance. Soon she finds herself immersed in a world of wigs, make-up and high heels, surrounded by pretty men and the temptation of falling for her incredibly beautiful employer.

In this story of passion and sexual discovery, Nicholas and Freda will contend with jealousy, emotional highs and lows, and the kind of love that only comes around once in a lifetime.

What I thought pink
I was skeptical when this book was first suggested to me. I like my heroes strong and edging toward the Alpha, and the thought of a guy who dressed up as a woman seemed like the opposite of this. However, from the moment I opened the book I was drawn in, first by the character of Freda; a strong, self-deprecating Dublin girl, then by Nicholas, her new, gorgeous neighbor, who turns out to be a drag queen.

They become friends, maybe a little more, though Nicholas’s closed-off emotions and Freda’s lack of self-esteem make things messy and rocky. She agrees to be his assistant, finding sensuality in the way she dresses him up before his appearances, then takes his clothes and his make-up off, transforming the glamorous Vivica Blue back into Nicholas. The dichotomy between his two personas is absolutely fascinating, as is Freda’s reactions to both sides of him. I loved reading about their burgeoning relationship, the way their characters grew as a result of the emotions it brought out in them both.

I confess, when I read the blurb I turned my nose up at this story. But I’m so glad I listened to Lucia and bought it regardless. I still love Alpha males, and there was definitely a side to Nicholas that was very Alpha, but he was so, so much more. He had depths and scars and emotions that tore me up and made me cry, but he also took what he wanted without necessarily thinking things through. He was messed up, but his relationship with Freda made him a better person, and that’s exactly what I wanted from this story.

Five glamorous, beautifully dressed stars to this one.

gold-stars_zps9723be0b

Fabulous Friday – It May Be Raining Outside …

rain-drops-window

Well, it definitely seems like Autumn is here. I’m sitting in my living room, watching the raindrops slide down my windows, and seeing how grey everything looks outside. I’m also seeing tweets about how few weeks there are until Christmas. These frighten me so much I want to bury my head beneath the cushions on our sofa and stay there until January.

On the writing side, I’m waist deep in edits. We’re on the second round now, and things are being added / removed and generally tidied up. Still aiming for an early November release date, and looking forward to finally seeing it up on Amazon. For those of you that don’t know, the cover reveal will be taking place on 17th October, and you can bet I’ll be shouting all over the place. Feel free to bury your own head under a sofa. I promise to zip my lips come the 18th.

The rest of my weekend is shaping up nicely. A hair cut and colour today—long overdue—followed by an afternoon of writing. Saturday will involve an early start at the gym (Spin class, it hurts so good) and a bit of time with the family.  I’ll also be reading a new Novella that I spotted on Twitter. The Game by A.J. Carella looks great – and at 20,000 words should be just enough for me to finish without annoying the husband too much.

The Game by AJ Carella

I hope you all have a great weekend, full of fun, chocolate and a glass or two of wine. (Or is that just me?)

Carrie Pink