Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day


Happy Memorial Day! Enjoy it with your loved ones! Remember those who gave us this beautiful day!

~ The Pen & Muse Staff

Monday, May 24, 2010

Reviews: Eternal Press

The GalleryAuthor: David D. Landrum

Length: 10,800 words/29 pages

Genre: Paranormal fiction
What I liked:
Although short, this is a beautiful story about two people who are 
artists who fall in love. 
It was an easy read and great to follow.
I really enjoyed the setting and the characters. 
But not everything is at it seems, a mysterious man 
appears to thwart them and their love. 
He will do anything possible to stop them.
Will their love pass this test? You'll have to find out! 
Martin Rollins and Siobhan O’Conner find it easy to fall in love,
especially since they’re both artists.
partial amnesia she experiences from an accident doesn’t prevent
her from creating beautiful, valuable art.
But a mysterious man appears and insists
He’s a musician, she’s a painter, 
and the that she not sell her art—and 
he’s willing to resort to any means possible to stop her…


“‘How can you tell the dancer from the dance?’” he said.
he line sounded vaguely familiar to Martin. Poetry? An old song?
That was by the Irish poet William Butler Yeats,” Kierce continued.
“I knew him. Fine fellow, good writer.”
“What you’ve said bothers me a lot, Mr.
“I need to go.” Martin paused and then
a Kierce. Stay away from Siobhan. I’ll call the police if I even think you plan to harm her.
And I’m going to call her and tell her what you said.”
xpected to be confronted. “She must not sell those paintings—or her own.”
Martin stood. After a few seconds, he turned and walke
Kierce looked a little confused—he apparently had not
ed out to his car. He called Siobhan and told her what had happened.
“He was sitting next to you at the concert—
the guy who kept giving you dirty looks.”
“Did he say his name?”

reland. He was a
“Seamus Kierce.”
She laughed—a kind of delighted, sparkling laugh. “Maybe he’s Seamus the Wraith.”
“Seamus the Wraith—a ghost who supposedly lives in my family’s area of
I priest, a choirmaster who supposedly buggered countless choirboys.

Protestantism, and became curator of a local museum—museums were pretty new things back then.
After he died they say he became a ghost who haunted art galleries or
When this got found out he fled to the north, said he had converted t

o houses where there were lots of paintings on display.”

Gypsy Crystal
Author: Lorrie Unites-Struiff

Length: 33,000 words

Genre: Paranormal thriller/romance

What I liked: 
What was there not to like about this thriller/romance? For one, I love that Gypsy (Roma) magic was used as

an element to fight crime. I love that the author used it because it 
made it interesting and such a great read!
It also made the plot and scenes very believable.
I really enjoyed Rita's character, her determination and 
her passion to capture the ritual killer.
I also liked how her character finds someone more equally 
to her as Agent Boulet who has his own thoughts on the killer he won't share.
So will Rita find out the family secret and be able to deal with it?


Homicide Detective Rita Moldova has a secret: a crystal amulet, a Roma family heirloom that allows her to see the last thing
a person saw before they died.
rorizing her town, FBI agent Matt Boulet is sent to lead the task force to catch the murderer.
While Rita feels she has a con
When a ritual killer starts te
rnection with Agent Boulet, she senses he is holding back a deep dark secret about the killer.
Her suspicions deepen when she learns another secret about her Roma family—
one she finds impossible to swallow.


Before Rita had time to get her fingers on the gun, the man had shot out of the door, yanked her forward, and somehow shoved her headfirst onto the front seat. She skidded over the vinyl, her nose and cheek hitting hard, blocking her breath for a moment. Rita yelled; the door slammed shut. She scrambled to sit upright, gagging when she inhaled the dank, moldy scent of the interior. A metal object, hanging 
from the roof above the mirror, clunked heavy against her head. She swallowed the acrid taste in her throat.
The driver’s door opened and the man slipped inside. One corner of her mind wondered how he could have possibly run around the front of the van so fast.
Rita rubbed her bruised temple and twisted the door handle. 
It was stuck. She rammed her shoulder into the door. 
It didn’t budge. The window was up. 
Her purse with the gun lay on the sidewalk. 
She worked the lock button and slammed into the door again. 
The impact sent shock waves down her arm to her fingertips. The van was rigged.
Rita looked at the serial killer, her heart banging against her ribs, 
her breathing short and shallow. Tapping the mic with frantic fingers, 
all she could do was pray.
The man grinned.
 I Came Up Stairs: A Victorian Courtesan’s Memoirs, 1867 to 1871

Author: MC Halliday 
Length: 87,800 words/ 337 pages 
Genre: Historical Erotica
What I liked: For lovers of historical and erotica, here is a treat! 
This read really reminded me of those underground reads
that women read in that time. This story follows the likes of character named Mae, who literally comes up from poor conditions
to riches ad she shaped into a seductress. 
These are her encounters and stories,
but will she have to give up due to her ways?
Will she have to finally conform to the ways in 
which she denied or will she still be true to her passionate ways? 
You will just haveto find out and read it. 
A long read, it's one that you have to read in one sitting without reading and its tantilizing at every page turn. 
Halliday does not disappoint in this hot and warming read.
Led from filth and poverty by a gentleman in the hopes of gaining coin for his purse, Mae is shaped into a lady and tutored in the arts of pleasure.
With raw sensuality, she creates a seductive dance that entices the peerage in puritanical England, and she quickly becomes favored courtesan to Prince of Wales.
Her renown and riches ever rising, she continues to romp with gamely men and women of both the nobility and the lower classes.
Eventually, Mae’s bohemian ways cause suffering for those she loves and her own heartbreak. Must she conform to Victorian mores, or can she remain true to her sensual desires? These intimate memoirs reveal a young woman’s journey from the slums of Whitechapel to celebrated dancer of the Victorian music hall, and courtesan to the highest peers of the British realm.
From the years 1867 to 1871, Mae recounts her varied lovers and false loves, and her heartbreaking losses in a quest for happiness.
came up stairs into the world, for I was born in a cellar. Love for Love William Congreve (1670–1729).
The squalid room where I was born was much less than a cellar, for the stairs led only downward to the stinking streets of Whitechapel, where misery draped over us as heavy as the coal soot-laden air. We were filthy and neglected as the derelict structures, and our subsistence was made worse by the urine and feces ever emptied from chamber pots onto the street cobbles. Splashes oft occurred from the higher windows, and once, a full pot was tipped upon my head. Without fancies such as bathing or washing clothes, I had to abide the dousing. 
Every drop of water hauled from the fetid river in a rusted 
bucket we set aside for a boiled dinner of potatoand cabbage. 
Seven of us lived in the small room above the butcher. 
We kept to the streets to escape the bickering and steady smell of rotting flesh 
and sour blood. The scurry of rats heard in the walls by day became a persistent scuttling over us at night. 
My brothers, sisters and I slept together on a heap of flea-infested straw with our boots on and one thin blanket wrapped tight against the damp. 
Mam and Da would come in late of an evening, singing and falling over us until my da would curse and kick before falling onto his narrow bed. 
And my mam laughed and laughed in that shrill way she had until she dropped beside him. After, I would listen to the little ones crying and Da’s snoring as I pushed at the rats until sleep took me again. I was Mabel Gray in those days, 
but I left that life and name behind the night I met Mr. Roger Vickers.
The Pendant
Author: Mirella Patzer 
Page Nos: 375 
Genre: Historical Romance
What I liked: Patzer surely pleases with this historical romance. This was really a page turner that you won't be able to put down.
This book has everything from a family feud, romance, and lost treasure. I loved Morena's character, I liked everything about her,
her character, her passion, and her tenacity. I loved Amoro's characters because he is caring and faithful. Their journey is a touch one, but
will their love survive it? Go ahead and read it! I dare you! Those who love historical romance will fall in love with this book as I did.
A lost ancient treasure. A 100 year family feud. And a woman with a passion richer than the bloodstone pendant she wears around her neck.
In medieval Italy, as spirited and stalwart as any man, the brazen Contessa Morena is betrothed to the impoverished, black-hearted Count Ernesto,
a man desperate to escape his mounting gambling debts by marrying her and laying claim to the ancient treasure secreted somewhere in the underbelly of her castle.
Morena meets her match when Amoro, the handsome and brash heir to the Duchy of Genoa, who swears an oath upon his father’s grave to claim her as his bride and end the feud between their families.
Soon, Amoro’s virile charm awakens the passion in her steadfast heart.But a treacherous plot ensnares them; Ernesto abducts Morena and renders Amoro helpless.
r destinies become one.
Embroiled in a life-and-death chase, Morena learns that not even the devious madness of her captor can destroy her love for Amoro as their hearts unite and thei
Morena stepped into the cell. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the dark, but then she saw him. Her heart lurched with alarm. Amoro lay on his back in blood and filth curled upon the straw with a ragged cloth around him, chained to the wall like a wild animal. He shivered like a rousing cat and babbled something indistinguishable as he held up his arm to shield his face.
His face, half-turned into the shallow light that filtered into the room from the tiny barred window, was a mask of filth and bruises. One eye was swollen shut above a bruised and swollen cheek. He cradled his arms to himself in an effort to keep warm. His good eye widened in surprise at the sight of her. He blinked as if in disbelief, as if she were too bright, like some sudden, sharp burst of sunlight.
“You have come,” he said, the words less than a whisper, scarcely an utterance. “What dream is this?”
“I am no dream, I have come,” she said. Shocked at his condition, she looked at him on the floor then held out her hands and fell to her knees beside him.

Autobiography of a Worm
Subtitle: The horrid fall of a man who loved beautiful women

Author: Ed Tasca

Genre: Mystery/psychological thriller/psychological drama/crime drama

What I liked: Tasca turns up the scary and nightmare to the next level. This is a story that stands the hair on your arm up!

What nightmares are truly made up of... The story follows that of Ronnie Churchill whose life falls apart after his married lover
leaves him. From there he falls into a deep psychosis and depression that makes him do unspeakable things. Not seeking treament is making
it worse. What will happen to him? Find out!

There are many ways people stumble into self-destruction. This story may be one of the most bizarre, and in some ways, one of the most common among those who pulse deep inside with rage they are unable to vent. Who among us hasn’t had that richly-demented homicidal fantasy? But what happens when you act on that fantasy? And succeed?


Gary arrived a few minutes later with the police photographer, and so did a van filled with other search volunteers. A little after ten in the morning, 
Officer Shirk had us line up and spread out along the shoulder of the road. When everyone was ready, we entered the surrounding field stepping out in unison. There were about forty of us, and we marched funereally, with eyes and 
concentration on the two or three feet in front of us.
What did we see? Nothing but dirt, tall weeds - mostly ragweed - and some prickly varieties I couldn't identify, some flowering wild daisies, moss, and patches of burned out November grass. Occasionally, one of the searchers would stop and examine something. Each time it turned out to be nothing more than a bottle cap or some broken glass. The search continued on quietly, respectfully. I found nothing. But the exhilaration remained. After about half an hour, I came across a dead bird, not sure what type, just a bird, probably black, maybe a starling. Its tiny bones and iridescent feathers were smashed into the dirt, and only one eye could be seen from its balding skull. I hovered over it a moment. Death on faces never looked sad, I thought. It never looked troubled. Any time I've seen corpses, which was only in photos or films, and once at an accident scene when I was a child, 
their expressions always seemed to be of contented collusion, 
as though death had convinced them that it was all okay before they died. 
That was the message to me on the face of the dead bird. “Don’t worry about me. I’m going along with all this. I’ll be just fine.”

Cassie’s AwakeningAuthor: Brigit Aine

Genre: Paranormal romance/erotic

What I liked: Jared is a headstrong guy and he knows what he doesn't want. 
He doesn't want a mate, but does he have a choice in

the matter. 
The wolf inside of him is hell bent on claiming her.
se it, but it just doesn't function around
Jared. Passion flare and tensions rise and these two find each o
Cassie is a sweet character who knows her gift and knows how to
use it, it just doesn't work on Jared.
Cassie’s talent is dampening the emotions of others. This has been a very useful way of keeping peace around her, but has proven harmful in learning about passion and love. After all, none of the men she has ever dated have been able to profess or show the true depth of their feelings.
Jared is happy for Ethan and Red, but he doesn’t want a mate of his own, no matter what his inner wolf might say. Unfortunately, every time he sees the beautiful Cassie, he knows his wolf is winning the battle.

Will Cassie and Jared discover that a powerful force can overcome even a talent?
As their path unfolds, a stranger arrives in Torrent; is this a sign of trouble on its way?

“I repeat. What did you think you were doing?” Cassie asked, with more bravado than she was feeling. She had never felt anything like the pulsating emotions emanating from Jared. It seemed to overwhelm all her senses and she was struggling with just getting breath in and out of her lungs. She looked up at him and found herself face to face with eyes that were so intense she could see nothing but them. There was a slight glow that fascinated her; she had never seen eyes like this before, incredibly deep with a special inner light.
“Don’t ever touch Kraig again or let him touch you,” Jared growled 
from deep in his chest. He was having trouble keeping his wolf in check. When 
Kraig had kissed Cassie it was all he could do to not rip the pup’s head off. She 
didn’t know anything about being his mate, or even what it entailed, but Jared did 
and he was having trouble controlling the wolf because of it. He had barely managed to control changing, and he certainly wasn’t going to stop the rush of jealousy 
and anger at his mate being touched by another man. Not just a man, but another werewolf. And with that acceptance, he quit thinking and did what his wolf wanted. 
He kissed her.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Review: Enchanted Palette

The Author: Brigit Zahara

Author Website:

Genre: Fantasy, part of the Ellora’s Cave Zanadu line

Info: ISBN: 9781419928437
Price: $4.45 (e-book)


I liked that the heroine, Miranda, has such a great friend who brings her a thoughtful gift. The ancient palette picked up on a trip to Greece, prompts a grieving Randi to start painting once again. I really liked how the author uses a multitude of descriptive colors to show us the world haunting Randi’s dreams.

I loved her description of the forest when Randi is yanked from her home and into her painting! When the unicorn appears, I enjoyed her use of equestrian terms for lovemaking. When the black wolf attacks, things turned bloody. The author sends us into a world of shape shifter/vampires, cursed to roam a painting until love arrives. Is Randi the keeper of their prison’s key?

The dilemma of meeting two opposite yet same enchanted men is a problem Randi faces with calm, loving intentions. I found myself hoping, desperately, for a happy ever after ending.


Still grieving over the loss of her fiancé, Randi has lost her artistic focus and even her will to paint. That is, until an archaic palette opens the door to an incredible world and adventure on the other side of the canvas.

Transported into paradise, Randi’s desire to love and be loved is awakened by soul twins Zak and Adrian—half vampire, half shapeshifter polar opposite spirit siblings who were once one tortured man. They are equally enticing—Zak’s pure soul and bright spirit and Adrian’s primitive passion and brooding mystery.

For Randi, it’s hard to say which is hotter—a slow sensual union with the virginal Zak or a pulse-pounding, explosive tryst with the dark and dangerous Adrian. But one thing’s certain—when all three get together the result is quite simply out of this world.

Review: Undercover Heat by Judy Mays

Undercover Heat
by Judy Mays

Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance (Werewolves/Shapeshifter)
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Cost: $5.95

What I Liked:
Just when I think I've already read the best shapeshifter erotic romance, Ellora's Cave comes out with a new one. I've never read Judy Mays' books before, but I am going to be a devotee, now. Wow. What a hot, enticing, engaging, exciting... okay, where was I? What was I saying? Right. How much I loved this book.

The hero in this book just might be my new favorite erotic romance hero of all time. I love the idea of a human becoming a wolf (not in the way you might think), and I really loved Nick. Really. Really, really. Okay, I'm lost again. Seriously, this book was just hot. The heroine was feisty and funny, in control of her own destiny, but also ready to be mated. The hero was cocky (in more ways than one), and a little bit pissed off, and really ready for something exciting to happen to him, even though he didn't think so. The plot was engaging, the love scenes were hot-hot-hot. All in all, this was just a pleasure to read.

Absolutely loved it. Can't wait to read more of Judy Mays' werewolf romances. I hear there are many, many more... GOOD!! :-) Seriously, if you're a shapeshifter romance fan, you have to buy this book immediately. Fantastic. If we gave out stars, I would give this one 5/5. But as it stands, I hope you get how much I loved it. ;-) Just writing the review makes me want to go back and read it again...

Book Blurb:
Nick thinks his asshole CIA boss has sent him on a wild goose chase. Hunting a fellow agent who’s a werewolf? What a crock!

Good at her job as a private investigator thanks to her werewolf-heightened senses, strength and speed, Melody Gray is happy and content with her life. Until a CIA agent shows up searching for her brother. What can a girl to do to keep this gorgeous, chocolate-skinned guy away from her brother? Keep his attention on her, of course, and what better way to accomplish that than with sex. Especially when her werewolf soul is howling that this sexy hunk is hers, her mate, even if he’s human. Or is he?

Unable to resist the fire between them, Melody and Nick turn to his aunt, a powerful Vodun priestess, for help figuring out what happens when human, werewolf and voodoo are mixed with an overwhelming urge to claim each other in every sexual way possible.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Review: Claimed by Zoe Winters

Claimed by Zoe Winters

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Smashwords
Cost: $.99

What I Liked:
This was a very fun book. I hadn't read the first one ("Kept"), but I could tell that Greta and Dayne were the lead characters, because they seemed to have a developed relationship already, along with some interactions between the main characters of Claimed. I really enjoy series, and I like characters with ongoing relationships. So this was great for me.

This book was sort of like a twist of "Underworld", "Twilight" (in a very good way), and a little Ann Rice. I liked the way she used known vampire lore/culture and twisted in her own ideas. The book had a feisty heroine, an undescribable hero, and a very interesting plot. It's a short novel in a series (2 of 3 and about 120 pages), and well worth the meager price you pay to read it. I think I'll go back and read "Kept" and I'm looking forward to the next release, which should be happening very soon.

Check this book out. It's a good one!

Book Blurb:
Her eyes were frozen in a mask of terror, his order to be quiet unnecessary. She couldn’t have gotten her vocal cords to come to her aid if she’d wanted to. She was too stunned by what stood before her. He peeked into her mind, and saw what she saw: his long blonde hair a disheveled mess, blood streaked over his face, fangs, glowing eyes, and then her mental recognition as she put the pieces together.

Unlike others before her, her mind didn’t deny what she saw. It screamed, vampire. No doubt or hesitation. He had to admire her for that. Her pulse thudded in her throat, drawing his eyes to her jugular.

He heard the thoughts swirling through her mind as she wondered which thing she’d said to him to piss him off. She recognized him. Not just the monster, but the man she’d known from the bookstore.

In one swift movement, he grabbed her around the waist and pulled her to him, her back pressed flush against his chest. Then he sank his fangs into the warm column of her throat.

Her blood was exactly as he’d imagined it would be. Sweet and somehow spicy, like her. He couldn’t get enough. He could drink her forever and was dimly aware that wasn’t possible, that at some point soon the blood would run out and he’d never drink from her again.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Review: The Highwayman by Fiona Vance

The Highwayman 
by Fiona Vance

Genre: Historical Erotic Romance
Publisher: Breathless Press
Cost: $3.95

What I Liked:
First of all, this was super-short. So I could get in a good read on a lunch break, or waiting at the dentist's office. Second, it was a pdf, so I could put it up on my Kindle, which I appreciate because that's what I always have on me at the dentist's office. :-)

Second, it's a Regency, which I haven't read in awhile, and I was just about due for one. I do love the spicy Regency quickies.

And of course, perhaps the most important part, is that I think it's not over!! This was a fantastic little story. Just about the right length for a quick read, and the writing is absolutely excellent. The heroine was spunky and fun without being a charicature. And the Highwayman. Well, you'll just have to read it yourself to find out. :-) But let me tell you... it's a hot one! :-) Fiona Vance is an excellent writer. And like her saucy heroine, she'll keep you coming back for more.

Book Blurb:
After finding her husband tupping one of the maids in the pantry, Ariadne, the Marchioness of Danvers, sets off to visit her sister to avoid scandal. Wondering if her marriage is over, she finds her carriage held up by a highwayman, whose silver tongue and suave manner soon have her eager to demand her due. Having learned to get what she desires, will Ariadne choose to pass his way again? Or will she use her newfound knowledge to bring her husband to heel?

Read an excerpt here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Enter Celtic Hearts Romance Writers Chapter contest The Golden Claddaugh!

Enter Celtic Hearts Romance Writers Chapter contest The Golden Claddaugh! Don’t let our chapter name dissuade you, your entry does not have to be Celtic-based to enter, unless you enter our Celtic Category. We have six categories, Historical, FF & P, Romantic Suspense, Celtic, Contemporary & Erotic Romance.

Final Round Judges FF&P:  Leis Pederson - Berkley/Jove
Contemporary:  Lois Winston - Ashley Grayson Literary Agency
Romantic Suspense:  Laura Bradford - Bradford Literary Agency
Historical: Barbara Poelle -  Irene Goodman Agency
Celtic:  Deb Werksman – Sourcebooks
Erotic:  Kate Seaver - Berkley

Our contest due date is June 1, 2010.  Finalists will be notified by July 1, 2010 and winners notified by September 1,2010.
Visit: www.celtichearts. org to register!

Review: To Stand with Angels by Caitlynn J. Gabriel

To Stand with Angels
by Caitlynn J. Gabriel

Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Eternal Press
Cost: $7.95

What I Liked:
When I saw that the book was set in Wyoming, I thought... hmm, this should be interesting. Come to find out, the author is also from Southwest Montana (like me!), so setting a story in Wyoming makes lots of sense. We're right there. :-) But that automatically made me interested in the story.

Then I realized that this paranormal is about angels and demons and a struggle for good and evil. Hooked. With a capital "H". For an old Carnivale fan, it has been entirely too long since I've seen and/or read anything like this. (I was also a little peeved that they canceled Carnivale just when we were getting to the good stuff... but this book helped to calm that frustration.) I loved the plot of this book, I thought it was well-developed and interesting. The characters were memorable (especially the hero... seriously... the guy is just fantastic). Very worth the time to read it. If you liked Carnivale, or if you like paranormals with theological significance, I would consider picking up this book. It was very good.

Book Blurb:
For seven years she’s fought her demons, but now a stranger has arrived and the real battle is about to begin…

In the wild Wyoming Territory, controlled by an evil cattle baron and his outlaw’s guns, one woman is hiding from her horrific crime and one man is seeking revenge. But when a deadly stranger comes to town, Evil takes on a terrifying new face. Now hiding is no longer an option and a revolver cannot kill the supernatural presence that is waiting in the dark city to claim the souls of those foolish enough to stand against it....

Read an excerpt here

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Review: All for a Fist Full of Ashes by R. Ann Siracusa

All for a Fist Full of Ashes

Genre: Humorous Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Sapphire Blue
Format: E-book only
What I Liked:
The good thing is that Will, darling Will, is coming back for another round after this one is over (or at least that's what it appears will happen). And Harriet (his heroine) looks like she will be back, also. The suspense was interesting and exciting. Definitely not a plot I expected, when the book began, which was a good thing. Full of surprises, and worth the read. The adjectives "humorous" and "romantic" are intentionally adjectives, I think. The focus of the plot is definitely the suspense, and both the humor and the romance play supporting roles to that. Nothing wrong with it, just something I thought should be noted, given the fact that I mostly review romance. But this was a good book. I enjoyed it. And I liked Will so much that I'm considering reading the next book. Should be very exciting to see if Will and Harriet will finally get their happy ending... :-) You know me, I'm all about the happily ever after.

Book Blurb:
This is the second book in a humorous romantic suspense series featuring Harriet Ruby, a young tour director who is a well balanced, cute, and hardworking over-achiever whose life was good but ordinary…until a year ago when she met mysterious and troubled Europol spy, Will Talbot. From that moment on, her predictable life turned upside down and has never been the same.

All For A Fist Full Of Ashes brings Harriet and Will, who have been seeing each other for a year, together in Italy where their work assignments again overlap. Harriet is conducting a custom tour for fourteen members of an Italian-American family. The family matriarch is on a quest to find the unknown location of her mother's grave so she can bury her brother's cremated ashes which have been smuggled into Italy wrapped in Cuban cigars. Will has one of the family members under surveillance as a suspect in an assassination plot.

Charming the matriarch, Will wangles an invitation to join the tour.  The quirky family members, including four unruly teenagers and a pet green tree python named Fluffy, sweep through Italy in search of long lost relatives and leave destruction in their wake.  Will and Harriet, on their own personal journey, find that traveling together for twenty-four hours a day threatens their budding relationship, which is fraught trust issues. Harriet wants to be involved in everything and Will can't and won't trust her.  Harriet's intervention leads her to intuit the time, place, and victim of the assassination attempt.  Unable to reach Will, she puts herself in danger to thwart the murder.

Travel with them on their fast-paced romantic romp through Italy in pursuit of a lost grave, an assassin, and a healing and once-in-a-life-time love.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Review: Beautiful Stranger by Katalina Leon

Beautiful Stranger

Genre: Short Erotic Romance (Younger Man/Older Woman)
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Release Date: April 2010
Price: $5.95

What I Liked:
I'm not quite the age yet where I should be thinking about older women and younger men. (Except perhaps Taylor Lautner... wait, no comment.) Yet there is something about this story that *really* appealed to me. I'm not sure if it was the freedom and the openness of Lilly's attitude, or the extreme hotness of David's character (and bod-ay). But I really enjoyed this book. It was well-written, it was well-plotted, it was well-executed. It was an all-around good time. The picture on the cover does not do justice for what I think this couple is described as... she's over forty, he's in his early thirties. But it was a very hot story, and the characters are memorable. I've not read Katalina Leon before, but I see that she has an Ellora's Cave release from ancient Rome. I'm looking forward to reading more of her stories. If this one was any evidence, I will be in for a treat!

Book Blurb
Lily Fontaine is a newscaster and former beauty queen, but those roles don’t suit her anymore. She’s healing from divorce and ready to make big changes in her life, but first she needs her sexual confidence back.

She wants a lover without the risk of heartbreak and considers hiring a male escort as a special treat. Her best friend offers a provocative solution to her request. On her birthday, Lily returns to New Orleans, the place of her birth, to meet a special man. She plans to fly in and fly out for a three-day weekend of cool music, great food and hot sex, with no emotional attachment and no further contact with her “escort”. She wants to pay to play—what can go wrong?

David is perfect—even if he is eleven years her junior. He’s strapping hot, intelligent and knows how to take charge. The attraction is instantaneous. With just the clothes on her back, Lily sheds her old life and follows a beautiful stranger into bayou country for the adventure of a lifetime. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: Starting Over by Laura Rittenhouse

Starting Over

Genre: Mainstream Fiction
Publisher: Wings E-Press
Price: $12.95

What I Liked:
This book is not for the faint of heart. I like to read a book like that every once in awhile. Something that's not just your average (even above-average) category or single-title romance novel/novella. This book is over 400 pages of intense interpersonal interacting and saga. 

That being said, I hope the length and the intensity won't deter you from potentially reading it. It did me, if I'm honest, for quite awhile. I kept thinking... I don't know if I have it in me to read a 450 page book today. But I'm glad I finally took the time to sit with it. I enjoyed it.

As an old fan of the saga (think John Jakes meets Nevil Shute, with a very different story-telling perspective), I found myself easily slipping back into that style of reading. It's not an action-based skim-to-finish experience. It's a deeper connection. And it's a lot of fun, especially when the story is interesting. Like a lot of saga-type books, it's not really about the destination, it's about the journey. (You may not like the destination... I'm not sure I did... but the journey was a good one.)

Book Blurb:
Though she doesn’t understand exactly why, Maria isn’t content with her lot. The prospect of exchanging dependence on her family for dependence on a husband doesn’t sit well with this young woman growing up in late 19th Century Germany. Three generations later, on the other side of the Atlantic, Eva struggles with a similar restlessness; she’s generally happy but never quite satisfied.

This book follows Maria and her great-granddaughter Eva as they face surprisingly similar choices in dramatically different decades: how to keep a roof over your head, when to abandon independence and commit to a lover, where to draw a line in the sand. The choices they make take them to new countries, open them up to heartache and leave them wondering what is enough.

Short Excerpt:
 Maria stood unmoving as she absorbed the fact that she was now a legal immigrant into America. She hadn’t realized how much she had worried that her dream could have been crushed at the last minute.

One of the men at the desk snapped something to her in English that brought her out of her reverie. She grabbed her bags and moved towards the ferry.

A short boat ride later had Maria stepping onto Manhattan Island. She blinked, still fearing it was a dream that would vanish. But she didn’t wake up. Or rather, she was already wide awake. She’d never been more awake in her life. And nothing had ever felt as real as this street in New York.

A Pen & Muse Review: First Date

The Author: R. Ann Siracusa

Author Website:

Genre: Contemporary Romance (A "bridge" short story between first and second books in a humorous romantic suspense series) Sub genre: Romantic Comedy

Publisher: Sapphire Blue Publishing, visit

Info: ISBN: 9781934657461
Price: $1.50 (e-book)


The prologue for this incredibly funny story is a hoot! A nice set-up, my Gods (read the excerpt, below, and you will understand.) The story is filled with humor and some healthy, hot sex between two people intent on finding out more about each other. Told in the first person (not my favorite) it worked well, here. The author skillfully melds sex and humor as in this line...
“He pulled me into his arms and gave me a long, deep kiss that peeled the polish off my toenails.”


Stripping off your clothes in a restaurant: NOT a good idea on a First Date
Tired of celestial politics and wanting some fun, Fate brings together two young people who would have never met. A your tour director, Harriet Ruby, whose biggest problem is that she has no real problems, and Will Talbot, Europol spy with a dark and troubled past.

Wham! Bam! Sparks fly! Fate smiles. "They'll never know what hit them."

After teaming up in Morocco for outstanding sex and hilarious adventure, Will and Harriet agree to see if their relationship can develop beyond mutual lust. Now, they're having their first real date. Things are heating up nicely when they learn the "getting to know you" process, while on-the-job, is fraught with interruptions, frustrations...and the promise of an unforgettable adventure
First Date by R. Ann Siracusa is a tour Director Extraordinaire Story

Excerpt from FIRST DATE by R. Ann Siracusa
Sapphire Blue Publishing

"Political assassinations...spiritual wars...hostile takeovers! And now this!" Heaving a frustrated sigh, Fate threw down the most recent cd-mail from the Celestial Department of Interspecies Mediation and the sheaf of protest petitions containing a billion energy imprints.
Hitching up her robe, she stomped to the edge of her intergalactic dust cloud. "What idiots came up with the idea that they could enslave the djinni's souls to generate power and solve a galactic energy crisis? Some of these species are seriously strange."
Leaning on her staff, reminiscent of a drop spindle on steroids, she pursed her lips and stared into the void beyond. Maintaining a balance within the universal realm required her constant vigilance and divine intervention in the big-ticket affairs. Necessary, but she hated ignoring the ordinary beings and leaving their individual development to a gaggle of untrained staff.
"Besides, that's the fun part of the job," she murmured wistfully. She'd paid her dues. Wasn't she entitled to enjoy herself every now and then by bringing together unlikely beings and causing unexpected events at the personal level? "I wonder what's happening down on Earth? Now, there's an interesting species."
At the edge of an ethereal rift, Fate whipped out a heavenly instrument like a telescope from under her flowing robes and aimed it at the Milky Way Galaxy, located in the most distant reaches of her jurisdiction within the Celestial Department of Predetermined Destiny.
"I'll just take a quick look." No one would miss her for a few minutes. She'd relax a bit, then get back to the task of freeing the souls of one billion djinni.
Preset on random scan, the instrument hummed as it examined millions of human beings in all walks of life and came to rest on a young woman living in a quiet town in a place called California.
"Well, let's see who we have here." She looked through the telescope and focused it. "Harriet Ruby. Ow! We don't see many Harriets these days. But she seems smart enough and honest. What else? Trusting, dependable...those are good, but she hasn't found what she wants to do with her life." Fate shook her head with resignation.
Kids! They're all alike, no matter what species.
Then she did a double take. "Hmm, this one is too well balanced." Concerned, she fined-tuned the instrument and studied the readings. "Well, of course she is. Her life has been stable, predictable and good. Nothing really bad has ever happened to her."
Fate frowned. This kid must have completely fallen through the cracks.
"No hangups? No fears or phobias? No tough choices? What has my staff been doing? This girl hasn't been challenged at all!" Clearly, someone in the Earth Division had been sleeping on the job. "I'll have to speak to the intern who's assigned to her case."
Disgruntled and suspecting the worst, Fate reset the scanner to search for other anomalies in the system. The djinni would just have to wait.
Every now and then, when the divine intervention scanner slowed, she glanced through the eyepiece, but each time the machine moved on. Finally, it stopped again and didn't budge.
"Uh-oh. We've found another one?" Exasperated, she gritted her teeth and peeked. This time the subject was a young man on the other side of the world living an unpredictable life filled with mystery and excitement but also hurt, disappointment, and distrust. He faced danger on a daily basis, fighting for what was right in spite of a turbulent and troubled youth.
"Ouch! That's bad." Shaking her head, Fate recalibrated her equipment for more detailed information. "Oh, my. This poor Will Talbot fellow has a shitkicker of a caseworker with an overactive imagination. He is one seriously troubled human."
Irritated by such incompetence, she paced back and forth across the diffuse intergalactic medium, comparing his situation to that of the young woman whose biggest problem was that she had no real problems.
"Why in the name of dirt and earthworms can't these interns get it through their thick skulls that our interventions are supposed to create choices for these corporal beings? Opportunities to exercise free will. How else can they define their lives and eventually become civilized? That can't happen when some beings don't have to make any choices and others are slammed with too many. No wonder the universe is such a mess!"
Fate pounded her staff on a nearby cloud, stirring up puffs of ionized hydrogen. "I'll be glad when these budget problems ease up and I can get some trained staff. I'll have to keep a closer eye on these interns from now on. In the mean time, what if I give this girl a life-altering decision to make?"

First Date/publisher excerpt

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Review: Promises to Keep by Heather Kuehl


Title: Promises to Keep

Author: Heather Kuehl

Author Website:

Genre: Paranormal / Fantasy

Publisher: Eternal Press



What I liked: Looking for fantasy with a big dash of paranormal? Look no further, Kuehl has this and much, much more! This story follows Starlette (Love the name!) and her journey to find her father who she believes is still alive. Starlette will encounter new worlds and have to find the strength within herself to fight and free her father? You will just have to find out! I really like the story and the character. She was passionate, loyal, and fierce in her belief that she was right about her father. She was willing to do anything in order to save him. Kuehl does a wonderful job telling Starlette's journey and describing a world full of magic. 

Blurb: Starlette is on a mission, and nothing will get in her way. Starlette DeFore knows that her father is alive, even though her family buried him ten years ago. When a faerie confirms this she travels to Charleston, South Carolina to hunt down Sivad Night, the only person to have ever escaped from the hands of a powerful sorceress, the Dark Lady Dreashae. With help from a witch, Stalette travels into Verella, a fantasy realm filled with centaurs, dragons and magic. She is very close to finding her father, but first must defeat Dreashae. Will Starlette, a mere mortal, have the strength needed to finish her quest and save her father?

Excerpt from Chapter Seven:

I looked up to the sky, at the rainbow-colored dragons trying to kill one another.

“Wow, talk about your bad divorce,” I said to no one in particular.

“This isn’t funny, Star.”

“I don’t think it is.” A green dragon was scorched, wings ruined. It fell down, spiraling until it hit the ground with a sickening crunch. “We have to do something.” I said my thoughts aloud. I knew the dragons were not our friends. They wouldn’t help us in our time of need. But there was no reason we couldn’t help them.

“Sivad, get on Zarzia. We have to get to the highest point on this island.”

“Starlette, that would be suicide!”

“I don’t care. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if they died and I didn’t try to help.”

Sivad looked up once again, his jaw clenching when another dragon fell from the sky. His eyes met mine as he nodded curtly. We mounted Zarzia, her wings lifting us up into the air. It was no surprise to me that the highest point was the top of Lady Cleoante’s throne room. I reached into my bag of hairpins and pulled them out. A large red dragon flew past us, whipping my hair about my face.

“Which one is Kalin?” I shouted above the din of the battle. Sivad pointed at the large red dragon that had just flown over us.

So that was Kalin. He spiraled around and flew toward us again. As he passed, I threw one of the hairpins. I hadn’t had much practice with throwing a knife. My hit rate was only one out of ten. It never hurt to try, though. The hairpin flew up with deadly accuracy, finding its home in the red dragon’s eye. He screamed, flapping around and pin-wheeling through the sky. I knew it wasn’t a mortal wound as the dragon regained his balance, turned around and headed straight toward us. Zarzia landed and I ran to the gap that led into Lady Cleoante’s throne room. I was just praying that the drop wasn’t too far. I jumped, my heart going up in my throat as I fell through the hole and onto the large stone slab that was Lady Cleoante’s throne. My legs went numb and I collapsed, gasping for breath. I needed to move. I heard a dragon scream, a sound that would forever haunt me in my nightmares.

I rolled off the slab onto the stone floor. My legs still didn’t want to cooperate and I had to force myself to crawl toward the exit. I needed to get out of here before Kalin came after me. The earth started to tremble again and I wondered if the island would survive this battle. I heard the echoing of footsteps walking toward me.

“Sivad!” I cried out. I wondered how he had gotten down here so quickly.

A man with thick black hair stood in front of me. He would have had iridescent red and brown eyes, except one of them was nothing but a bloody mass. I tried to stand to run, but nothing happened. I must have jarred my legs pretty good. Kalin didn’t miss a step as he walked over and kicked me, sending me flying into the wall behind Lady Cleoante’s throne. My head hit the wall, causing spots to burst across my vision. I lay on the floor, trying to reorient myself, but Kalin grabbed a handful of my hair and dragged me to my feet. His face was only inches from mine. I shifted around and found my feet were now agreeing to work. I lashed out, kicking him in the knee as hard as I could. He fell to the ground, releasing my hair as he went. I turned and ran, trying to get some distance between the angry dragon-man and me. I reached in my bag, pulling out another hairpin but cried out in pain as I was once again grabbed by the hair and forced back.

Kalin, with his hands on my shoulders, roughly turned me around to face him. Without thinking, I struck, imbedding the hairpin in his chest. It went in all the way to the decorative jewel. Kalin howled in pain, shoving me back so he could rip out the hairpin. His hand swung out, backhanding me across the face and causing me to land in a heap on the floor, once again seeing stars. I reached out, trying to crawl away. Kalin shimmered and transformed back into his red dragon form. I screamed as he opened his fang-filled jaws with a roar and struck out at me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My True Lies Become Truth!

First, I want to thank Kerri Nelson again for nominating me. I appreciate it!

Second of all, we have a winner: Linda Henderson has guessed correctly!

My True Lies & How They Saw The Light

1) I am a published author. - Not yet, although that may change!

2) I know Steve Jobs.- I'd love to, yet it has not happened yet.

3) I met and had lunch with a famous author.- I have met a famous author, but I never had lunch with them.

4) I love the Little Prince and quote it often.- I do love the Little Prince, but cannot quote it as much as I'd love to.

5) I'm a huge fan of James Dean.- Ding! Ding! I am a huge fan although I was not alive when he was an actor. I love his work, his charisma, passion, of course I thought he was handsome!

6) I own all technology under the sun. - LOL I wish I did, but I do not.

7) I have written 5 novels. - I'm getting there, but not completely.


Sunday, May 9, 2010


Author: Nan D. Arnold
Author Website:
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Champagne Books. Available June 1, 2010 from
Info: ISBN: 978-1-926681-44-3
Price: $6.00 Available as e-book

Maggie Duncan is a mid-life, recently widowed woman who caused her abusive husband’s death, and life in Florida’s heat has started to thwart happiness at every corner. Her cheap apartment is going expensive condo; her small meal prep business is going bust; her friend is hovering on the brink of adultery; and her sometimes boyfriend, Bruce Herring, returns to her life with a big secret. This time Maggie surprises him. She has a rival for her affections in a swarthy new neighbor.

A chance to make it big by cooking, bottling, and selling her special marinara and pesto sauces gets her involved with a gambling backer who absconds with her inventory and profits. But, not after two hired goons latch on to her, looking for the deadbeat.

Slashed tires, a trashed apartment, anonymous phone calls, and a friend’s heart attack sends her spiraling through one emergency after another. Fantastic Florida scenery, charming characters, and a very special feline named Lulu add to the sweet sexual tension. This is a sequel to “Hitting the High Notes”.


A new business venture, selling pasta sauces, lands fifty year old widow Maggie Duncan in hot water. Too bad she and heartthrob Bruce Herring are on the outs after his seventy year old deadbeat dad drops a baby brother in his lap. A baby underfoot at midlife? B-a-b-y is just a four letter word to the only woman to make Bruce think a second trip down the aisle might be worthwhile. Can love conquer all. Should it?


Bruce Herring’s flight from San Jose, Costa Rica, had been late the night before but he cleared customs in Charlotte without a hitch and changed planes with five minutes to spare. An army brat, he’d had all the travel he ever wanted. If he never boarded another international flight, he’d be happier than a judge at a wet T-shirt contest. Like it or not, another trip or two to Costa Rica was imperative.

He glanced at his bedside clock and sighed as the mental weight of a two-ton truck settled on his chest. There was now the real possibility he’d lose Maggie, the only woman to make him think marriage might be worth another try.

Marriage? The best were based on trust and what was he doing but sneaking off to Costa Rica without telling her. He yawned. All Bruce could think of was more sleep. He’d tried to nap on the plane, but his seat mate, an elderly lady who also boarded in Charlotte, chatted nervously from takeoff right up to the plane’s taxi into Miami International near dawn.

The economy airline required a departure and consequential return to Miami which meant Bruce then had to motor a good hour’s drive to the north end of Palm Beach County and his bed.

Thoughts of Maggie’s dark blue eyes in her heart-shaped face and those cute Clara Bow lips made him smile. He’d passed the half century mark himself a couple years back and though she’d never stated her age, he guessed Maggie flirted with fifty. Some silver strands mingled in her brown hair and deep lines about her chin line indicated it, and gravity, weren’t complete strangers.

A pleasant sensation teased his groin when he thought of the few pounds Maggie complained about. He liked them right where they were. Best of all, he loved her wry wit. If one of her searing eye rolls didn’t nail you, a spear-tipped quip would.
He thought about his Dad. Bruce hadn’t heard from him for three decades at least. That’s why the phone call was like a sucker punch. Bruce decided not to confide details of it to the women of his life, meaning his mother or Maggie.

Initially, this trip had nothing to do with Maggie. At least not until he got down there. The mere mention of Herring, Sr.’s name could set Mrs. Herring on a rampage.
The fact his father called unnerved Bruce enough. The urgency for it denied him the privilege of giving the guy the kiss-off. He could have, but this way, he proved something. He’d suspected he was a better man than his father, now they both knew it.

Turned out closure came at a high price.
Music from the clock radio gave way to the news. Reports of the usual murder and mayhem reminded him he was lucky not to have to face it head-on anymore. A love song followed on the easy-listening station.

It tripped his mind back to Maggie.
He’d call her in a minute and convince her to join him for dinner. Although she was a fine cook, he wanted to take her someplace public where he might tell her how in only a few weeks his life would forever change.

Maybe not.

Bruce might not be up to it. Fatigue, mental and physical, squeezed him in a vise.
God, he was tired.

How would Maggie handle his news? If he summoned the courage to tell her. Divorced and childless, Bruce once envisioned a future with stepchildren but that was long ago. He’d never met the right divorcee with kids that would make him a defacto dad.
Until Maggie, he’d never hooked up with a widow of any kind.

Regardless, he’d never considered an infant under foot. Especially not now. The shock of a baby brother to bring up at his age strained credulity. Telling his mother would be bad enough. To Maggie, childless by choice, b-a-b-y was just a four-letter word.

Happy Mother's Day


Happy Mother's Day to all the Mother's out there!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Enchanted Palette by Brigit Zahara

ENCHANTED PALETTE - the vampire-shapeshifter fantasy menage from erotica author Brigit Zahara.

Enchanted Palette.jpg

True Lies starring Denise Alicea: A Blog Award & Contest!



This week I (Denise) was nominated via my The Pen & Muse Blog for the Creative Writer Blogger Award . Thanks to Kerri Nelson, for the great nomination!

This award requires me to tell some lies and have you try to guess which one is correct. If you win, I will give away a beautiful Celtic green journal!

My True Lies

1) I am a published author.

2) I know Steve Jobs.

3) I met and had lunch with a famous author.

4) I love the Little Prince and quote it often.

5) I'm a huge fan of James Dean.

6) I own all technology under the sun.

7) I have written 5 novels.

Now to Pass the torch to 7 new bloggers/writers who will have to continue this burden of telling their own lies as well as passing the torch to 7 other people!

1) Eliza Knight - a great woman and a busy one! She deserves some of this!

2) Denyse Bridger - Love her work and her!

3) Terry Kate - A good friend and such an inspiration with her many projects!

4) Cynthia Owens for Seduced by History - I love this blog, such great information!

5) Beth Trissel - I first read her story in a contest and since then I have been hooked!

6) The Ladies @ Inspiration Ink - a great blog with tons of great authors and writing articles.

7) Gena Showalter - Love her books and her blog.




Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Review: Love Doctor by Mari Freeman

Love Doctor
by Mari Freeman

Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Release: March 19, 2010
Price: $5.20

What I Liked:
There are some great lines in this book. Like the hero has "the kind of smile that reassured frightened puppies and old people." Now, how can you *not* like a guy like that?? Um. You can't. You have to like him. Because he is a great guy. A great hottie. And this was a fantastic book! I loved the beginning, with all the tension of their meet-cute.

Lots of tension in the beginning, sexy and sweet hero with a refined palate, confident and vulnerable heroine, unknown professional tension, hot sexy encounters. Seriously, it does not get better than this. I loved this book. Five stars, especially for an erotic short. I would give this book my highest recommendation to anyone who likes to read romantica/erotic romance. Very well written, great love scenes, relatable characters and fantastic ending. Excellent work, Mari Freeman!

Book Blurb:
Love Doctor is a stand-alone sequel to Beware of the Cowboy.

Just call Becky Cooper the Love Doctor. Everyone else does. What else would you call a woman who dates men, fixes their relationship issues then sends them off to find love and marriage? Her stellar record is nine for ten. Well, technically ten for ten…the tenth is in a relationship not yet recognized by the state of Texas. As far as Becky’s concerned, she’s providing a much-needed, super-fun service.

She’s up for more fun and games during a business trip to New York, where she lets a sexy stranger control the remote to her vibrator. What follows is a night of heat to rival the Texas sun. Then she learns Craig, her nightlong stud, is actually E.C. Hill—attorney for the festival her company is hosting. Craig’s reputation as a workaholic precedes him. He’s precisely the sort of man in need of her services. It’s Love Doctor to the rescue!

Craig, however, is less in need of therapy than Becky suspects…and has his own brand of medicine for the Love Doctor.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Pen & Muse Blog Needs Another Book Reviewer

Do you enjoy reading books and reviewing them? Well then the Pen & Muse needs you!
If you are interested in reviewing and reading books, we could use another good one.

Benefits: Free Books

Requirements: Lover of books, romance genre reader and open to others, and be willing to read and write about the books, read about 2-3 books when reviews jobs come in.

If you are interested please email me @ thepenmuse(at)

Review: Tears of the Dragon by Cyndi Friberg


Title: Tears of the Dragon

Author: Cyndi Friberg

Genre: Fantasy, Historical, Romance

Publisher: Cerridwen Press


What I liked:

Lady Rowena finds herself in such a predicament. So far nothing slows her down not even a curse or famine. She thinks she can solve her predicament alone, but then comes Dominic. A man who will test Rowen's boundaries like no other, but will she get close to him or continue to fear a curse or her future? Friberg certainly knows her stuff and she shows it with this book. I found myself inside the time period of knights, damsels, distress, fantasy, and of course love. I loved how Dominic was willing to help her, but at the same time was irritated by her. I love Rowen's determination to help her people and in the end help herself with her own heart. A lovely and inciting read from start to finish!

Book Blurb:

Neither wars nor famine nor Fairy curses have intimidated Lady Rowena of Pendragon, but now she finds herself locked in a battle of wills with Dominic of Capstow. Dominic is William Marshal’s trusted knight, and the regent has sent him to escort her to court so her scheming stepfather’s claim against her can be heard.

She’s infuriated and insulted—and intrigued. Dominic is by far the most attractive man ever to coerce his way beyond her defenses. He’s dangerous and appealing and she needs him in her bed for reasons she dare not reveal. Knowing little about seduction, but more than willing to learn, Lady Rowena sets out on a conquest of her own.

The stakes are high, higher even than Lady Rowena realizes. For the Fairy curse is real and dark forces are at work, ready to tear the young lovers apart and rob them of their happily ever after.