Friday, June 24, 2016

Blog Tour Review and Excerpt - - Beauty and the Highland Beast

Beauty and the Highland Beast
A Highland Fairy Tale - Book 1 (digital)
By Lecia Cornwall
Publisher: SMP Swerve (an imprint of St. Martin's Press)
Release Date: June 21, 2016

Powerful and dangerous highlander Dair Sinclair was once the favored son of his clan, The Sinclairs of Carraig Brigh. With Dair at the helm, Sinclair ships circled the globe bringing home incredible fortune. Until one deadly mission when Dair is captured, tortured and is unable to save his young cousin. He returns home breaking under the weight of his guilt and becomes known as the Madman of Carraig Brigh.
When a pagan healer predicts that only a virgin bride can heal his son’s body and mind, Dair’s father sets off to find the perfect wife for his son. At the castle of the fearsome McLeods, he meets lovely and kind Fia MacLeod.
Although Dair does his best to frighten Fia, she sees the man underneath the damage and uses her charm and special gifts to heal his mind and heart. Will Dair let Fia love him or is he cursed with madness forever?

I'm always excited when a new Lecia Cornwall book comes out. This is an author who captured my attention with her debut novel and has kept me returning book after book with her innovative story ideas and writing that draws me into her fictional world, losing myself in the lives of her characters. While I've enjoyed all of her books, this one, Beauty and the Highland Beast is one of my favorites.

Dair and Fia are such worthy characters; flawed, complex, and the perfect counterbalance to one another. With the confidence of a natural leader and the swagger of a pirate, Dair sailed the world, conquering hearts and building his clan's fortune until the fateful mission that sent him spiraling into madness; the madness of grief and guilt. He can't forget the horror of his cousin's death, continuing to relive it in his dreams, sure that he's being haunted by her unforgiving ghost, and causing his clan to fear for his sanity, his very life. He captured my heart when he began to show his and I fought to save him as hard as Fia did. And Fia, oh, how I adored her.

Fia has spent her twenty years in the protective (some might say "smothering") cocoon of her family's love. A healer, beautiful Fia's kind heart and gentle ways draw both people and animals to her but her perceived clumsiness and fey nature lead people to believe she needs protecting and the pronounced limp and scars from a childhood injury mean she's most likely to remain a spinster for life. It was a joy to watch her blossom and become a strong, assertive woman willing to reach for her happiness and fight for what she deserves.

Filled with suspense, danger, and intrigue, Beauty and the Highland Beast is also laced with humor and brimming with passion. The characters are so fully developed they practically leap from the pages; the madness of the villains so perfectly portrayed they gave me chills while Dair and Fia filled my heart with love and affection. The secondary characters fill in all the extra spaces splendidly in scenes that are so vividly described, I felt as if I was right there with them. I especially enjoyed scenes between the brawny Sinclair men and Fia's cat, Beelzebub (appropriately named). And Fia's father? The fearsome chief whose heart is held in the collective palms of his twelve daughters? I adored him! I hope we'll see more of the MacLeod laird and his daughters in future books.


What's your favorite classic fairy tale?

Do you enjoy romances based on fairy tales? Have any favorites?

Have you read Lecia Cornwall's books yet?

I'm giving a Kindle copy of Beauty and the Highland Beast to one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment on today's post. Deadline for comments to be eligible for giveaway is 11:00 PM, Saturday, June 25, 2016. 

Beauty and the Highland Beast Excerpt  

How had the Sinclairs heard of Moire? She was a humble soul. She kept to herself, tended the ancient spring of the goddess, and helped only those who came to her. Fear numbed the icy blast of the wind as she stared up at Carraig Brigh’s bony tower, a crooked black finger rising from a solid fist of rock.

“Ye’ve made a mistake,” she whined as they rode under the iron teeth of the gate. “I’m naught but a simple midwife.” No one listened, and the wind carried her pleas over the edge of the cliff and drowned them in the bay below.

In the bailey, men stood in the light of gale-thrashed torches. There wasn’t a friendly face among them, or a word of welcome.

Someone hauled her off the garron, kept hold of her arm as he propelled her across the bailey. The portcullis fell with a metallic squall that ended on a human note, a wail of pure agony that floated down from the tower and made Moire’s innards curl against her backbone. The clansmen shifted uneasily, crossed themselves, and turned their eyes up to the narrow window high above them. 
Moire’s escort grabbed a torch from the nearest man as he opened an iron-studded door and pushed her up the steps inside.

“Do you truly have magic, old woman?” he asked. “You’d best hope you can conjure a cure.”

She stumbled. A witch. They thought they’d summoned a witch.

“A midwife, just a midwife,” she protested again, panting. The curving stone steps were steep, but he gave her no time to catch her breath. Her old legs were no match for his long, muscular ones. She scrabbled at his sleeve. “Please, there’s been a mistake.”

“There’s no mistake, Moire o’ the Spring. ’Tis you and no other we were sent to fetch. The chief would summon the devil himself if he thought it could save his son.”

“What’s wrong with him?” she found the courage to ask.

He grunted. “Have ye heard of Jean Sinclair?”

“Aye, of course. The lass they called the Holy Maid of Carraig Brigh,” Moire replied.

“That’s her. She was Alasdair Og’s cousin, the chief’s niece. Padraig wasn’t pleased when she decided to take holy orders and shut herself away in a French convent.” He rubbed a hand over his face. “’Tis a sad tale. They set sail from Sinclair Bay and put in at Berwick for the night, only to be ambushed by English soldiers. Alasdair Og thought there’d been a mistake, that they’d been taken for pirates, perhaps, or kidnapped for ransom. He imagined it would be a matter of a few days’ delay, an exchange of coin, and they’d be on their way again. But they didn’t bother themselves about ransom. They took the gold Alasdair Og was carrying right enough, and the goods, and the ship, and they murdered his crew. Then they beat Alasdair Og half to death, and threw him and Jean into the dungeon of Coldburn Keep.”

Moire put a hand to her throat, a shiver racing up her spine.

“Worst of all was what they did to poor wee Jean. They raped her, tortured her, then murdered her in front of Alasdair Og. He was chained to the wall, could do nothing to help her. She pleaded with God for help. She was just a slip of a girl. They said if she was Catholic and a Highlander, then she was no better than an idolatrous witch. ’Twas hatred—not just for the Scots, but for Alasdair Og in particular. They called him a pirate, blamed him for things that had nothing at all to do with the Sinclairs. It wasn’t wee Jeannie’s fight—Alasdair told them that, but they wouldn’t listen. He lay in his own filth for a fortnight, chained, wounded, and listened while they beat her, broke her bones, tormented her. 

They kept him alive to hear her screams.”

“And then?” Moire asked.

The man grimaced. “They hanged her as a heretic in the courtyard, forced Alasdair to his feet, made him stand at the window and watch.” He stared down at her from the step above. “He can’t forget any of it. That’s why they call him mad—he has nightmares, feels constant pain, and starts at shadows. 
Can you help him?”

She blinked. Did the holy maid haunt Alasdair Og Sinclair? Perhaps it was the devil’s work after all. Moire knew little of the Christian God, either Catholic or Covenanter. She followed the ancient goddess, tended her sacred spring . . .

Another guttural scream came from the top of the tower. Moire shrank against the cold stones of the wall and made a sign against evil.

Her companion took hold of her arm again. “Come on.” He opened a door at the top of the steps, dragged her through it. The room was nearly dark, lit by a single candle—expensive beeswax—and the dull glow of a brazier in the corner. The sweet scent of the candle mixed with the dark stink of old blood, corruption, and sweat. It was a smell Moire knew. It meant illness far beyond her ability to heal, and death.             

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Spotlight on Jill Shalvis' Sweet Little Lies

When Sweet Little Lies releases on June 28th, it will mark not only the start of a new contemporary romance series for Jill Shalvis but the beginning of a new career adventure: a move to HarperCollins Avon publishing. Shalvis' new Heartbreaker Bay series is set in the beautiful San Francisco Bay area where readers are sure to lose their hearts along with Shalvis' characters. And, as in many a Jill Shalvis novel, Sweet Little Lies features a dog readers can fall in love with too. Today, Jill shares with us five reasons why dogs make great sidekicks. (I wholeheartedly agree with all five!) 

You can follow Jill's adventures with her own canine sidekicks at her blog and Facebook page. The star of the photos below is Jill's fun-loving buddy, Frat Boy. 

Five reasons why dogs make great sidekicks...

1. Because when you’re on the mountain trail and you come across an angry mama bear and her baby cubs, your dog will run like hell.  This will warn you to run like hell as well.  Just be careful because if your dog is like my dog, he will throw you under the bus (or in this case bear) to get home before you do.

2. Because when all the cookies are gone you can totally blame your cookie loving dog.  No one has to know that you ate all the cookies yourself.  And your dog can give you dirty looks for blaming him but he can’t actually talk and dispute your story.  Solid alibi.

3. Because if you’ve eaten in a way that disagrees with your stomach, there are never any worries.  Your dog will always, ALWAYS, out stink you.  And if he doesn’t, you can still point the finger at him.  Again, he can’t talk and dispute your story.

4. Dogs are not just great sidekicks but they also make great a really great wingman.  If you’re single, you can totally put your dog to work at charming the person you’re interested in.  Just make sure that person likes dog drool and dog hair all over everything first.

5. There is never a need for a pillow or extra blanket because your dog will always be willing to get into bed with you and share body heat.  Always.  Just be forewarned.  Being a great sidekick is not the same thing as a good bed partner.  They have a habit of being a total bed hog.

From Sweet Little Lies

They ran through Fort Mason, along the trail above the water. Not that they could see the water today. The early morning fog had slid in so that Pru felt like she had a huge ball of cotton around her head. They came out at the eastern waterfront of the Port of San Francisco, constructed on top of an engineered seawall on reclaimed land that gave one of the most gorgeous views of the bay.
It was here that Thor refused to go another step. He sat and then plopped over and lay right in front of her feet.
A guy running the opposite way stopped short. “Did you just kill your dog?”
“No, he just doesn’t like to run,” she said.


Tell me about your pets. If you have a dog, what kind is it? 

Is he/she a runner or a relaxer? 

Do you have more reasons why dogs make great sidekicks to add to Jill's list?

Have you ever been to San Francisco? What's your favorite memory of the City by the Bay?

Are you as excited about a new series from Jill Shalvis as I am? I've had Sweet Little Lies on pre-order since it first appeared on Amazon. 

Choose the one guy you can’t have . . .
As captain of a San Francisco Bay tour boat, Pru can handle rough seas—the hard part is life on dry land. Pru loves her new apartment and her neighbors; problem is, she’s in danger of stumbling into love with Mr. Right for Anybody But Her.
Fall for him—hard . . .
Pub owner Finn O’Riley is six-foot-plus of hard-working hottie who always makes time for his friends. When Pru becomes one of them, she discovers how amazing it feels to be on the receiving end of that deep green gaze. But when a freak accident involving darts (don’t ask) leads to shirtless first aid, things rush way past the friend zone. Fast.
And then tell him the truth.
Pru only wants Finn to be happy; it’s what she wishes for at the historic fountain that’s supposed to grant her heart’s desire. But wanting him for herself is a different story—because Pru’s been keeping a secret that could change everything. . . .

For Buy links and another excerpt from Sweet Little Lies, visit Jill's website

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Today's Special - - Blog Tour: Debbie Mason's Happy Ever After in Christmas

Title:  Happy Ever After in Christmas
Author: Debbie Mason
Series: Christmas, Colorado #7
On Sale: June 28, 2016
Formats: Mass Market & eBook
Price: $5.99 USD

It's beginning to look a lot like love . . .

As her thirtieth birthday approaches, deputy Jill Flaherty decides it's time to live a little. When she walks into Sawyer Anderson's bar in her sexiest dress, she's not thinking that he's her brother's best friend or about the many women he dated during his years as a pro hockey player. All she's thinking is that it's finally time to confess to her longtime crush how she truly feels.

Sawyer is done being a player on and off the ice. Yet no one in the small town of Christmas seems to believe he's ready to settle down, not Jill, and certainly not Jack, who is determined to keep Sawyer from breaking his little sister's heart. But as Sawyer and Jill's relationship heats up, can he prove that he's her happy ever after?

I've been hooked on Debbie Mason's Christmas, Colorado series since reading The Trouble With Christmas, the book that started it all and hoping for a while now that sexy Sawyer and prickly Jill would get a book of their own. As with the other books in the series, there's plenty of humor and a whole lot of heart in this story, the final one in the Christmas, Colorado series. Loose ends are tied up, a pivotal secondary character in the series gets a surprising happy ending and Sawyer and Jill finally get their HEA, though Mason sure does make them work for it. But that makes it all the sweeter. 


Deputy Jill Flaherty sat at her desk wrapping her brother's birthday present for his surprise party tonight. The yellow helium balloons she'd ordered were currently bouncing in front of her face. She lifted her hand to bat them way, ripping the paper off the present in the process. A present that she'd been painstakingly wrapping for the last ten minutes. Frustrated, she swore under her breath while shaking her fingers to free them of the tape and brightly-colored tissue paper.
            "You're stuck," Suze announced in an authoritative voice from behind her computer.
            "Thank you for your insightful observation," Jill grumbled at the forty-something woman sitting at the dispatcher's desk across the room as she bent her head to pull the tape off her fingers with her teeth. 
            Suze leaned around her computer and grinned. "I didn't mean literally. I mean you're stuck, stuck. That's why you've been so bitchy lately. You have the pre-30 birthday blues."
            "It's my fingers that are stuck, not me. And I'm not. . . " Jill sighed. "Okay, so maybe I have been a little bitchy. But it's because of all the overtime I've been putting in the past couple of weeks. I'm tired."
            She ignored the reference to her thirtieth birthday. She wouldn't admit to Suze that she was partially right. Like an ominous black cloud, the big 3-0 loomed large in Jill's mind. It always had. Her mother died two days before her thirtieth. Preparations for Jack's thirty-seventh birthday had served to remind Jill that her thirtieth was only five months away. 
            "Because you don't have a life."
            Jill lifted a hand still covered in tape and paper in an are-you-kidding-me gesture. "I do so. I have--"
            "Yeah, yeah, I know. You have friends and family and a job you love. Still doesn't mean you have a life. You put yours on hold when Jack was MIA. I had a front row seat so I know what I'm talking about."
            "I have a life," Jill reiterated without elaborating. Suze had stolen her ammunition. If having friends, family, and a job she loved didn't count, Jill didn't know what else to say.
            A chair scraped noisily on the tile floor and Suze took a seat across from her. "Okay, so tell me, when was the last time you hid the salami?" she asked.
            Jill frowned. "What . . ."
             Suze rolled her brown eyes as she peeled the last of the tape and tissue paper from Jill's fingers. "Bumped uglies. . . Did the horizontal mumbo?"
            "I have no idea what you're--"
            "Oh for godsakes, when was the last time you got laid?"
            Since the answer didn't immediately pop into her head, Jill hedged, "What does that have to do with anything?"
            "And there's your problem. You can't remember, can you?" Suze said as she rolled the paper and tape into a ball.
            "Yes, I can. Seven months ago," she said, taking a guess. Then realizing the number of months might unwittingly validate Suze's no-life pronouncement, Jill added, "Before you say anything, I've been busy."
            Suze pursed her lips and tossed the ball into the garbage can. "Don't buy two-sided tape again. And it was eight months ago with that accountant from Logan County."
            "Really? Huh. I could have sworn . . . " She took in the I-told-you-so look on Suze's lightly freckled face. "Oh, come on, that doesn't mean anything."
            "Yeah, it does. It says it all. You have unmemorable sex with unmemorable men. And do you know why you do?"
            "No, but I'm sure you're going to enlighten me," Jill said, carefully working the rest of the paper off Jack's present with a pair of scissors.
            "Fear," Suze said, taking the scissors from Jill's hand and looking her in the eyes. "You're afraid to get your heart broken. That's why you spend your time fantasizing about the man and life you want and not doing anything about it."
            "I do not fantasize about Sawyer," Jill blurted without thinking. She caught the triumphant look in Suze's eyes and quickly added, "Or any other man in town."


a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Trouble With Christmas, #1
Christmas in July, #2
It Happened at Christmas, #3
Wedding Bells at Christmas, #4
Snowbound at Christmas, #5
Kiss Me In Christmas, #6
Happy Ever After in Christmas, #7


Walmart (Special Edition)

Debbie Mason is the bestselling author of the Christmas, Colorado series. Her books have been praised for their "likable characters, clever dialogue and juicy plots" (RT Book Reviews). She also writes historical paranormals as Debbie Mazzuca. Her MacLeod series has received several nominations for best paranormal as well as a Holt Medallion Award of Merit. When she isn't writing or reading, Debbie enjoys spending time with her very own real-life hero, their four wonderful children, an adorable grandbaby, and a yappy Yorkie named Bella.


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