Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Knight of Passion gets Re-released with a NEW Cover!

I'm absolutely thrilled to announce that A Knight of Passion is being Re-released by Samhain Publishing on September 25th, with not only a few edits, but a brand new, beautiful cover!

Thank you, Natalie Winters for doing such a fantastic job!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Romance Reviews: Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Gabrielle Maxwell is a professional photographer, and one of the youngest to have her photos hung in museums. What Gabrielle doesn't realize is that her skills hide a special ability--the ability to instinctively photograph places were the Breed and their enemies, the Rogues, live in and around the city of Boston. An ability that makes her a danger to herself and others. But Gabrielle hides other dark secrets, like the fact her birth mother abandoned her in a dumpster when she was a baby, and the very disturbing need to cut herself and make herself bleed. But when Gabrielle witness a brutal murder, it brings her face to face with one of the most dangerous and seductive men she's ever met, Detective Lucan Thorne. 

Lucan Thorne is anything but a detective. In fact he is a Gen One of the Breed--a vampire whose sire crashed landed on Earth centuries ago. These alien creatures, whose taste for blood, destroyed whole civilizations in ancient times, raping and pillaging as they went. But a few special women who were raped by the monsters, carried their seed to term, to give birth to a new generation of vampires, ones who were half human, half vampire. Seeing the need to destroy their alien sires before they destroyed mankind, Lucan and had a handful of his brethren created the Order to protect both human and vampire kind from the terrible Ancients. Now with the Ancients gone, the Order fights the Rogues--vampires addicted to blood, so deep in bloodlust they will kill anyone to feed their hunger. Lucan is one of the few remaining Gen One vampires which means his need for blood is so strong that if he's not careful he could become a Rogue himself. But when a beautiful young woman witnesses and even photographs a group of Rogues killing and feeding off a man, Lucan must track her down to find out what she knows before she tells anyone else what she's seen. 

Much to Lucan's dismay, he finds Gabrielle not only irresistible, but wants him with the same intensity as he desires her. Desperate to drive his need for her out of his system, he seduces her, only to discover that one long, hard night of passion is not even close to being enough to cool his adore for her. He wants her as he has never wanted a woman, which scares him all the more. Especially when he realizes she is a Breedmate, one of those rare females who can bond with one of the Breed and give birth to the vampires. One bite of her sweet blood, and he will forever bind them together, which he can never allow--not when he is so close to loosing himself to the bloodlust. When Lucan discovers that Gabrielle has been cutting herself for years, not to cause pain but to bleed, he realizes it is her innate need to mate with one of the Breed who would feed from her regularly. It is time for Gabrielle to learn who and what she really is, and why her special ability to find vampire shelters is so dangerous. He has no choice but to bring her into his dark world. 

Gabrielle doesn't know what to think when Lucan saves her life from a man determined to kill her, only to discover that Lucan himself is a monster. A vampire. Yet, somewhere deep inside her, she's known the truth all along, but that doesn't make it any easier to accept. And when Gabrielle is thrown into the dark world of the Breed, she finds herself in terrible danger...of not only falling in love with Lucan who wants nothing to do with her, but being a pawn in the deadly war between the Breed and the Rogues. And time is running out for Lucan...can Gabrielle save him from himself? Or will Lucan turn Rogue and destroy them both? 

Lara Adrian's Kiss of Midnight is a provocative thrill ride that sucks you into a dark world of hot vampires and dangerous passions. A thousand years old, Lucan takes his duties to the Order very seriously and the last thing he wants is to get involved with a human female. Even if that female happens to be one of the most stunning and alluring women he's met in a very long tome. In fact, the harder he tries to the resist her, the more he wants her, which is enough to drive this controlled warrior mad. Gabrielle has no idea who and what she truly is, only that she finds Lucan irresistible in a way she's never felt before. And when she discovers he's a vampire and she's suppose to bond with one of his kind, her world is turned upside down and inside out. I found both Lucan and Gabrielle to be deeply complex and compelling characters tortured by pasts they cannot change yet refuse to hide from. Lucan is one hot alpha vampire who's seen too much. He doesn't realize what he has with Gabrielle until it's almost too late. And Gabrielle is his perfect mate: strong, intelligent, courageous, and yet tender of heart. I loved watching these two characters grow and discover a future they could have together. I think Ms. Adrian has created a unique and dynamic world of vampires, one which I can't wait to visit again in the next book in the Midnight Breed series.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Revisiting the Keeper Shelf: Lady of Conquest by Teresa Medeiros

Recently, I signed up with GoodRead's author program and I wanted to fill out my “book shelves.” So I decided to add a new shelf to the list: the keeper shelf.  

Now my personal keeper shelf at home consists of some five hundred books, and yes, I've read them all. Some I read only once, and loved them so much I knew I had to keep them. Some I've read multiple times and every time it's a joy to read.

Such is the case with Lady of Conquest by Teresa Medeiros. It was my introduction to Ms. Medeiros extraordinary writing and I instantly fell in love with the book. I decided to add it to the keeper shelf on GoodReads (along with a plethora of Teresa's other books). As I was writing a vague review on the book, I realized I hadn't read it in quite a few years and decided to read it again.  

Conn of the Hundred Battles was the first king of Ireland, known then as the Isle of Erin, who united all the smaller kingdoms under one High-King---himself. But all is not well in Conn's kingdom. A giant is killing the Fianna, his elite warriors, and now it is up to Conn himself to destroy the beast. But what Conn finds instead is an orphaned girl with the deadly skills of a warrior. A girl injured by Conn's own sword—when Conn has sworn gentleness to all women. But there is nothing gentle about the lovely waif, even though she is dying from the wound.

Gelina O Monaghan wanted only one thing, vengeance! Vengeance against the man who had her mother and father killed. Vengeance against the one who destroyed her life. That is why she and her brother, Rodney, created the “giant” to kill Conn's men. Why Gelina spent years honing her skills until she was as good as any of the Fianna. But when the moment comes to kill Conn, he turns out to the better warrior. And when he discovers who she is, she is sure he means to kill her, if not use her cruelly as Rodney has warned her. But instead, Conn treats her with kindness, he returns her ackward kisses and tries to heal her wounds. In fact, once Gelina swears featly to him, he protects her by claiming to his people that he killed the Giant and rescued Gelina from it's clutches.

Conn doesn't know what to make of Gelina. He is pained by the fact he indirectly caused her family's death, but then, her father did lie and betray him. It was justice, such as Gelina and her brother had been seeking. But with her brother gone, and with no one else for her to turn to, Conn decides to make her his foster daughter. Needing to keep her close and protect her. But what Conn refuses to acknowledge is the growing feelings he has for her.

Despite everything Rodney told her about Conn, Gelina begins to realize that beneath the battle scared king, is a good and kind man who stirs her heart and fills her days with joy. And though Conn seeks to give her the childhood she lost, what he does not seem to realize, is that Gelina is no longer a child, but growing into a woman, with the wants and desire as such. And much to her dismay, realizes she has deep feelings for Conn.

Betrayed by one of his own men, Conn is sold into slavery to the Romans and returns to Erin a year later to discover his waif has grown into a beautiful young woman. And stirs inside of him a gut deep longing for her. But a part him refuses to see her as the woman she has become, and cannot forget the fact Gelina is his foster daughter.

Faced with more betrayals and dark secrets, Conn and Gelina will be faced with love and hate, passion and destruction...but only love will heal them both...

Even after all of these years, Lady of Conquest is still an emotional and exhilerating ride. From the moment he realizes who Gelina is, Conn struggles not only with his gut wrenching desire for her, but the deep emotions filling his heart. How can he reconcile the murderous waif with the beautiful young woman she has become? And when Gelina herself betrays him, it is the ultimate test to his love and honor. Gelina herself struggles not only with her love for Conn, but for that of her brother, Rodney. Did Rodney truly lie to her about Conn? Who is she to believe? (And I thought I tortured my characters!!!) Despite the fact I absolutely love Conn and Gelina and their struggle to find love and happiness together, my favorite character has always been Nimbus, the jester. He is funny, wise and sweet, and his ultimate fate is heart breaking. It is no wonder this book has a special place on my keeper shelf...

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Romance Reviews: Howling at the Moon by Karen MacInerney

Sophie Garou has it all: she's an auditor at a top accounting firm in Austin, her boss is considering her for partnership, she has clothes to die for, and she has a gorgeous lawyer boyfriend who could be a GQ Cover Model and wants to marry her. She only has one tiny, teeny problem...she's a werewolf. Not to mention, her mother is a physic witch who owns the Sit A Spell new age store. Life is good, as long as Sophie drinks plenty of wolfsbane tea (which prevents her from changing at the most inconvenient moments), she constantly shaves her legs, stays away from the other werewolves living in Austin (thankfully the werewolf population is small), and she's able to escape a couple of days a month for the full moon. 

In fact, everything is just peachy until she arrives at work one day to find a strange care package waiting for her. The problem? Besides the awful poetry, somebody knows what she is and is threatening to expose her. As if that weren't bad enough, Sophie gets a phone call from one of the employees at the Sit A Spell..her mother has been arrested for the murder of Ted Brewster, a city councilman. Her mother might be a little crazy but she certainly isn't a murderer. Sophie figures the day can't get any worse, when on the way to the courthouse, she comes face to face with her first werewolf sighting in Austin. And what a werewolf! He's a gorgeous Norse god with long blond hair, piercing amber eyes and a body that makes her drool. She knows instant lust, it hits her like a ton of bricks. And he sees her! Which means if he's a part of a pack, then lone wolf Sophie is in big trouble. 

Why do the police think Sophie's mom killed Brewster? Because the Love Potion he purchased from Sit A Spell, poisoned him. But Sophie knows her mother is too good of a witch to make such a terrible mistake. In fact, Sophie's mom comes from a long line of Romanian gypsy witches, and her potions and spells are her legacy--one that Sophie doesn't share. After bailing her mother out, Sophie and her best friend, Lindsey, decide to join her mother's séance in hopes of bringing Brewster's ghost back from the other side and find out who really killed him. Depending on your point of view, it goes better than expected, Brewster does come back, but Sophie doesn't understand his clues--apparently he doesn't know who killed him... Still something is better than nothing, especially when Sophie has to come up with the real murderer and fast. And who should show up at her mother's store? THE werewolf! Not only is he as drop dead gorgeous up close and personal, but he definitely remembers Sophie. Tom Fenris is one yummy bad wolf and now Lindsey wants to date him. Problem is, having been abandoned by her father when she was just a pup, Sophie has no idea if Tom plans to take Lindsey out to dinner, or eat her for dinner. 

Where is Sophie the day of the full moon? In Austin. First she has to give a presentation to a potential new client interested in the accounting firm, and Sophie's boss will except nothing short of her death to get out of the meeting. Then, Sophie's boyfriend has planned a romantic dinner to celebrate the anniversary of their first date, and he won't take no for an answer. What is a werewolf to do? Take lots and lots and lots of wolfsbane tea, which has the unfortunate side of effect of giving Sophie a rubber tongue, hot flashes, and hallucinations. Not to mention, Sophie isn't any closer to figuring out who murdered Brewster, nor does she know who's sending those atrocious care packages... Will Sophie ever get her mom off the hook? Will she stop whoever is threatening to expose her wild side? And how will she ever cope with her fierce attraction to Tom when Lindsay's dating him? 

Howling at the Moon by Karen MacInerney is a fast paced, sassy ride with plenty of laugh-out-loud humour. Sophie maybe young, attractive, and a real go-getter, but she's also a werewolf. And though she tries hard to ignore her wolfy nature, it keeps coming back to bite her in the ass. Heath is her human boyfriend, who hasn't a clue that she gets hairy on the full moon, and she wants to keep it that way. Tom is one hot, hot, HOT werewolf, with a mysterious past and a deep interest in Sophie. But Sophie wants nothing to do with him despite the searing kisses they share. I loved getting to know Sophie Garou and all her foibles. The writing is strong and flowing, and the ending left me wanting more. I can't wait to read the next book in the series. Keep them coming, Ms. MacInerney!

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

History Shorts: 1066, Conquest of England

It is widely agreed upon by historians that the year of ten sixty-six and the Norman conquest forever changed the future of England. We can only imagine how England might have developed had King Harold Godwineson survived and defeated the invading Norman army at Hastings. If the Anglo-Saxons had been allowed to develop on their own, what sort of country would England be today? The Normans did more than change the face of England, they brought with them new technology, skills and ideals that had never before been introduced to the Englisc people. They built fortresses out of stone to better suppress the Englisc. Brought warriors with the ability to fight mounted on mighty warhorses, which were able to defeat the elite Saxon warriors known as the Huscarles. They brought forth the feudal system which suppressed every Englisc man, woman and child, while turning the Normans into the ruling class. French became the language of the Nobility and Englisc that of the peasants, widening the gap between the rich and the poor. But not even Duke William of Normandy had wanted to rule England with an iron fist.

It had been William's dream from the first to rule England peacefully, for at an early age he had become fascinated by her rich, fertile soil and her quaint people with their lilting tongue. He had wanted to hunt in their forests, to rule their land as their king, and to learn their ancient language. Almost as if he thought to retire from the warring, grasping Barons of Normandy. It is not known for sure if King Edward the Confessor did indeed promise the throne to Duke William years earlier. However, William's dream was closer to realization as it had never been before when he ransomed an oath from Harold Godwineson upon his capture. Harold swore he would give the throne to William upon King Edward's death. But it all turned to ashes when the Confessor died, and Harold was proclaimed king by the witan—the council of elders—only hours after the Edward's death.  

We can only guess how furious William the Bastard must have been when he heard the news of the death of King Edward and the coronation of the new King of England in the same message. Perhaps he still hoped that some how he would have a chance to rule it's green shores peacefully for he sent several messengers to King Harold, no doubt to remind him of the oaths he had sworn to the duke. All of his wishes to rule England peacefully died when in desperation to raise an army, William offered England as booty to every Baron, knight and mercenary who would fight for his cause. Yet perhaps the most powerful and cunning stroke of all his planning was the messenger sent baring gifts to the Pope, Alexander II, asking him to judge as to who was the true heir and successor to the Englisc throne. It is believed that not a single shred of truth was debated, nor was Harold called upon to send his own representative. For the Pope gave his blessing to William and with it, the duke's greatest tool, the papal banner. To all who set eyes upon it, it clearly stated that the Pope and even “God” was in support of Duke William and his campaign. It is this very tool that is believed to have crushed the fighting spirit of King Harold Godwineson.

King Harold had already displayed his military prowess when he received the message that King Harald Hardrada of Norway, and his own brother Tostig, had landed near the great northern city of York with a host of Vikings determined to take the crown for themselves. Harold luckily had been at the capital at the time and immediately rallied an army and set forth from London to York in a march that took him only five days, covering over two hundred miles to reach his foe at Stamford Bridge—marching day and night without stopping. It was an amazing feet, and when he finally reached Stamford Bridge to meet his enemy, his army had swelled in size for he had recruited every available man from every village the fyrd had passed along the way. The Vikings were so impressed by the Englisc army that it is recorded that it looked like a “plain of ice from the sun glinting off their weapons.” 

Harold was very much the diplomat just as his father had been, and before the battle he offered his brother the Earl Tostig peace and one third of the kingdom if he would surrender now, but to the Vikings he offered only death. Tostig declined and so the fighting began. It was ferocious as it could only be with thousands of men fighting hand-to-hand combat. The Englisc pushed the Norsemen across the bridge and into the river. Seeing that his Vikings were loosing, King Harald became filled with the berserker spirit and enraged, plowed into the ranks of the fyrd, slaughtering Engliscmen left and right, until in the end, he himself was brought low, killed by an arrow in the throat. The fighting stopped then and once again King Harold Godwineson offered peace to Tostig and the remaining Norsemen, but they would not have it. The fighting continued into the evening and in the end the Viking army was annihilated. It was while the Englisc and their King were celebrating their victory at York that they received the message that Duke William and his Norman army had landed at the town of Pevensey.
In another amazing feat, Harold marched his army straight from York to Caldbec Hill near the town of Hastings were the Norman army had marched and conquered. The King's army was now smaller, but there were still many counties who had not been affected by the invading Norsemen nor the Normans and would have been easy to call upon. But something happened to Harold between his victorious battle at Stamford and his total defeat at Hastings. It is not known for sure but it is believed that the Papal banner is what brought the Englisc King so low. Perhaps he felt guilty at having broken an oath to the Duke, no matter that it had been given under duress, for now it appeared that the Pope and even God was against him. 

The Englisc took the defensive position upon the Senlac ridge, effectively cutting off the route to London. It was a good position, but no battle can be won without an offensive attack. And yet none ever came. The English stood defending the ridge against the continuous onslaught of the attacking Normans, but never once did they charge upon the invaders. The fyrd of eight thousand strong began to diminish in size. It is said that lines of the Englisc were so thick and deep that even those who had died by the hail of Norman arrows were held up by their brethren even after death. Their lines were finally broken and scattered by the repeated attacks of the mounted knights. It is not exactly clear how Harold died, for the only records left to us come from the Normans. According to the Bayeux Tapestry, the King was blinded by an arrow in the eye, and then viciously hacked to death by William himself and three other of his closest men. And there at the Battle of Hastings died the last Saxon King of England.

Even after the victory at Hastings and the defeat of Harold, it was still no easy task for William to conquer England for he and his men were waylaid by dysentery. It has been speculated that the Englisc could have many times stopped the invading foreigners, with more battles or guerrilla warfare, for there were many Englisc warriors that had not been killed at either battles and yet it was as if the spirit of the whole people of England had been defeated by the death of their king and the papal banner. After the ravishment and destruction of Romney and Dover, the great cities of Cantabury and Winchester surrendered to the Duke without a fight, as did most of Kent, Sussex, Wessex and East Anglia. London was now all that lay between William and victory. And after effectively cutting it off from the rest of England by a path of devastation that circled the countryside around the great city, it too finally surrendered. Though William was crowned King of England on Christmas day, he had yet to fully conquer the entire country, for the north remained untouched.

 In the end, England became more trouble than it was worth. Though the Duke had conquered it with relative ease, he continually had to contend with the Englisc that rebelled in the north, and even his own barons, angry with his laws, rose up against him time and time again, until he spent as much time in Normandy as he dared. He gave up hope of ever learning the Englisc tongue and could no longer stand spending his time with a people who hated him with a passion. William died in Normandy, begging forgiveness for all the violence and death he had visited upon the Englisc people.
By ten eighty-six, over two hundred thousand Normans, French, and Flemish had settled in England becoming the ruling class, while over three hundred thousand Engliscmen had been killed by their oppressors. The dark age for the Anglo-Saxons had only just begun and would continue for several hundred years more, because of one man's obsession.


~ 1066: The Year of the Conquest - by David Howarth ISBN# 0-14-00-5850-8 
~ William the Conqueror - by David C. Douglas ISBN#0-520-00350-0 
~ William I, the Conqueror - 
~ Harold II - 
~ Edward III, the Confessor - 

History Shorts: 1066, Conquest of England © Ingela F. Hyatt 2003 

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