Some More Reviews

Okay, time for some more reviews. I’m certainly getting great workouts lately!I figured I should put my thoughts on these books down while they’re still fairly fresh, and I have more that I’ve read recently. But these are the ones with characters that have stayed in my head, and keep me thinking about them.
This time around, I’m talking about Carly Phillips “Dare to Love” series. The first, Dare to Love, was a great story about Ian Dare and Riley Taylor. Ms. Phillips sure does know how to create characters with lots of baggage, and these two are no exception. As usual, I was hooked right from the start, the chemistry between Ian and Riley was tangible, and the love scenes smoking hot. I liked watching the two of them learn to give in in various respects, though of course, Ian takes longer to get there. Typical man. lol  
In Dare to Desire, Alex Dare meets his match in Madison Evans. Actually, he met her in the previous book, and when Dare to Desire opens, he’s rather a jerk to her. My kind of hero. 😉 He eventually comes around, but is it too late for him to convince Madison to take another chance? Alex is determined, that’s for sure. Again, talk about emotional baggage for these two. It was done so realistically, I could feel their emotions as if they were my own. There was one part of the book that left me a bit disappointed, and I’m not going to talk about it here for spoiler purposes, but the reason being is that I want the characters to get and do everything they want and deserve. Since it is romance fiction, sometimes, when that doesn’t happen, I feel a little blindsided. Other than that one thing, though, another seriously hot love story that I hated to see end.
Dare to Surrender was quite an interesting read. All three of the Dare books contain some aspect of sexual domination, which of course I love and was thrilled to read in these books, but Dare to Surrender dove into it a little deeper. This book is part of the Invitation to Eden series, and you can bet I’ll be picking up more of these titles.
Anyway, back to the review. Dare to Surrender has the heroine, Isabelle Masters’, POV written in the first person. I’m not usually a fan of first person narrative, too often, you don’t get enough of the other characters’ POV, but Ms. Phillips wrote Isabelle perfectly. ASnd we got plenty of Gabriel Dare’s POV, so I was quite happy about that. I was sucked right into her woes, and loved how Gabriel came in and saved the day. Temporarily of course, but when he finally gets Isabelle back into his life, the chemistry between the two is electric. The love scenes were the best I’d read in first person in a very long time. Kudos to Ms. Phillips. I know I could never handle that as well as she did here. I am anxiously awaiting the next books in the series.
A repeat author here, J.J. Rose, has a new novella out, titled Other Options. I really enjoyed this – again first person, but done very well. This is the story of Ala, her mate/husband Kivol and her lover Vivia. Kivol quickly is sent away, leaving Ala confused and longing for both her absent mate and her female lover. But because of the laws of their culture, she cannot be with her lover in her mate’s absence. A really neat world was developed her and Rose really paints a beautiful picture without overcomplicating or overwriting, not an easy feat. The comfortable sexuality in the culture lends to some really beautiful and erotic scenes, and Ala’s emotions are all too real and make me feel for her dilemma. My only complaint – the novella is a little too short! I wanted more! 😉
One of the best rewards I get from reading these awesome books is they inspire and motivate me. I’m hard at work on multiple projects, as usual, but I find the words come easier when I’ve just finished a sexy and satisfying read.

Reviews – Taking the Bitter with the Sweet

When a book releases, reviews usually follow. Sometimes quickly, sometimes not so quick. I found a lovely review for In the Devil’s Arms a good year after it was released. So these things do take time.
I’ve had a couple of recent releases in the last few months, and I’ve sent them off with a fingers-crossed silent prayer that whoever reads them loves them. I’ve been lucky for the most part – most of my reviews that came from review sites and blogs have, overall, been very good.  I know not everyone will love my books, and I usually have a pretty thick skin. I love the feedback, even it it’s not as good as I’d hoped.
Prince of the Universe was my first stab at sci-fi. Generally, I’m not a big fan of the genre, a few movies here and there, and an occasional book by a favorite author are about it. But the idea came to me, and I ran with it. I had a blast writing the story. It was a lot of fun, although I did have to do a bit of double-checking on certain things that had to be accurate. The rest, I kind of went with what I envisioned in my head when the first pieces of the story came together. I loved Merry, and wanted to give her the happy ending she deserved after what she’d endured. Same for Vega, even though he was a pompous, arrogant fool at times, he genuinely cared for Merry.  He needed her as much as she needed him.
Apparently, though, I bored the reviewer. Ugh! Bored? Gah, that’s like the kiss of death for a book. I’ve had people trash my characters, my plotlines, even my writing talent. But no one ever said they were bored before. This was new. I sulked for a bit, and lost all desire to continue working on the outline for PotU’s sequel. Logically, I know the book just wasn’t for that reader. It happens, and everyone’s opinion is important. And the review was not done in a mean-spirited way. It was honest. I appreciate that. It’s been some time now, the sting has softened a bit, but the worry remains that people will read that review and steer clear. It happens, and I can’t dwell on it. I have decided I will go ahead and write the sequel. This book will take place entirely on the planet Aldarra, and I’m liking how the plot and conflict are coming together.
My other recent release, Warrior’s Vengeance, was a title I had lots of worries for. I’ve mentioned before the reactions to this book have been extreme, no middle ground. My hero, Ian, can be cruel, and doesn’t always treat the heroine, Marissa, very well. But I wrote this book knowing I was keeping it in sync with events and the people of the times. Of course, I’ve had a few things brought to my attention that I never thought of as I was writing the book, but that’s okay. I kind of expected to be beaten down by readers and reviewers for some of the content, anyway, so those complaints were almost minor. They also spurred a couple of “D’oh!” moments. Haven’t heard the term “bodice-ripper” in a while, but I’ll admit, I liked hearing it. 🙂 

I have a plan for a sequel to this book too, and there are ideas for more books set in 12th/13th century England and Scotland, bringing in some of the paranormal elements I like so much to play with. I truly enjoy that time period, the location, so I want to explore more of the people. I will definitely be producing some more “bodice-rippers” in a similar vein and can only hope they do as well.
Anyway, it seems I needn’t have worried too much about this book – this story resonated with the reviewer. It touched others as well – one reader admitted she had a hard time with the story. I get that – it’s not a light, fluffy story by any stretch of the imagination. But she was honest, and straightforward in her review, and rated the book very highly. I got her point, and it was a pleasure to discuss that with her a little. You can’t ask for more. 
Now, the general rule is, don’t respond to reviews. But I always think it’s nice, when a reader says my story touched her deeply in some way, that I should at least thank her. And it often leads to new experiences I might not otherwise have had. I like to think my instincts are good, and while I don’t often respond to a review, there are those that warrant it, and I’m always glad I did afterward.

Don’t get me wrong – there are a few places I avoid getting in too deep reading reviews. When a reviewer reports my work is poorly written and needs editing, then lists Fifty Shades as one of her Top 10 All Time Favorites, well, I can’t take that reviewer too seriously. Sorry for anyone who’s a fan of those books – I am not. I tried, I really tried, but that’s a topic for another blog post.

In any case, seeing the reactions to Warrior’s Vengeance was a huge bright spot in a gloomy last couple of weeks, which sadly, look to be getting gloomier. I have some thoughts on that, but I don’t know if I’m inclined to share them here yet. I’ve been holding off and taking a wait-and-see approach, but I think that time has come to an end. In the meantime, I’m just trying to keep up with getting two books done – one revised, and one new. And trying not to think too far ahead.

Music and Mayhem (sort of)

Last night was my daughter’s Spring Concert at the High School. She’s actually in the Junior High School, but the music program merged the singing groups and various bands with the Senior High School’s musical program, since the 8th grade is the only “Junior High” class.
Anyway (there I go, rambling again!), the concert was last night and showcased some really talented students. There was a fantastic jazz band, they just blew me away. The drummer was incredible, I really hope some of those kids have a successful future in music. They certainly have the talent. If I had only been listening outside, and not known the band was comprised of students, I would have thought they were pros.
There was also a wind ensemble performance. They were also very good, though not as good as the jazz band. A lot of the kids played in both, as well as the 95 member school concert band. The school really does have a lot of opportunities for musicians.
The chamber singers were good, though to be honest, I’m not much of a fan of chamber music. It’s an audition only group, and the kids were great singers. I wonder if we’ll see any of them on AI in the future.
But the newly formed a capella group, calling themselves Fermata Nowhere (the music teacher is very clever), was phenomenal. They performed Adele’s Rolling in the Deep and the girl who sang lead, while not as talented as Adele, still did a great job. Then they did Stacy’s Mom. Several of the parents and probably all of the grandparents in attendance were not familiar with the song. The kid who sang lead was really good, I’ve seen him perform before in other things, and he is quite talented. He’s one of the ones I hope gets to make a career with music. He had stage presence, and really had a great time up there, he had that “spark.” Anyway, the lyrics drew quite a few laughs, but some were also offended. One older woman near me, when she realized what the song was about, said,. “That’s disgusting.” She was promptly shushed quite loudly!
My daughter’s choir was also good. I wasn’t familiar with some of the songs, but they did a medley from Les Mis that left me crying. The soloists were incredible, the emotion in their voices touched everyone in the auditorium. And from there, they went into Bohemian Rhapsody. They cut chunks of it, since it’s such a long song. I’m not a big fan of that song myself, to be honest, but they did a good job with it, After that, we had yet another set by the concert band. The whole thing lasted about 3 hours! By the time I picked up my little guy from his friend’s house, it was after 10:00pm.
There was a brief intermission, and two idiot dads almost came to blows over someone coming in late. I mean, really, why do you have to be an ass and ruin what’s supposed to be a great night for your kids? Morons. Thankfully, someone stepped in between them, or it would have turned into a fistfight. Similar thing happened at my daughter’s dance recital a few years ago and they had to call the cops to break it up and keep it from becoming a free-for-all. I don’t understand why people have to be such jackasses.
In any case, the concert was a nice way to wrap up the music program for the year, and the kids worked really really hard. The talent and discipline they showed impressed me so much, I could use some of that discipline, to be honest! Lol
On another note, Kathryn at The Romance Review gave 4 Stars to Healing the Mage. You can read the entire review here:  This review was especially sweet, since she really liked the characters. As my critique partners know, the editing process was difficult with Healing the Mage. My hero had some serious flaws, as pointed out by my editor at Noble. Flaws I didn’t see until she brought them to my attention. Lily had some problems too, but not as bad as Aidan. I took every one of my editor’s suggestions and made significant changes. If I hadn’t, I seriously doubt this book would have gotten such good reviews. So a big thanks goes to Jill Noble for not only her comments, but her patience in working with me as I made the changes. I appreciated (and apparently needed to hear) her honest opinion, and it made all the difference, as evidenced by the latest review.