Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book Tour for The Other Brother Part 1: Forbidden by Lauren Hawkeye & Tawny Stokes (Review & GIVEAWAY)

In this provocative tale a bad boy tempts a good girl who he should never claim as loose familial ties complicate their futures.  Keep reading to get a tantalizing taste of The Other Brother Part 1: Forbidden by Lauren Hawkeye & Tawny Stokes, along with my impressions of it, and then get a look at future installments in this series!  Make sure to go to the giveaway link below for the chance to win a $25 Amazon GC too!

From two New York Times bestselling authors comes a stunning tale of betrayal and blood…
Simple. The consummate good girl, this is the word I used to describe my life… until my stepbrother Seth came to live with us. Until that point, I’d been a very good girl… but my older, emotionally blocked stepbrother made me want to do very bad things.
With him.
In the course of one night everything changed, and my simple world was torn to shreds. I wanted to hate him. I did hate him. Mostly. But now he’s back. And nothing will ever be simple again.
The Other Brother is a novel told in three parts. This is part one of three.

***The Other Brother Part 1 is on sale for 0.99 during preorder and the first two days of sale only… get yours now before the price goes up!***

BUY LINKS:  Kindle  |  Nook  |  Kobo


You can read chapter one here!
You can read chapter two here!
You can read chapter three here!


Those looking for an intense read that puts its characters, and readers, through the emotional wringer will find this an apt description of The Other Brother Part 1: Forbidden.  From start to finish there's a sense of foreboding as bad boy Seth tries to do good while apparent good boy Theo starts losing control.  Caught in the middle of their tug of war is a sweet and innocent girl attracted to Seth against her better judgement and his last shred of goodness.  One fateful night changes everything irrevocably, leaving all of them bruised and as the years pass they're all once again set on a collision course that leaves you screaming as the final page is turned.

Allegra was the good girl who got good grades and knew very little about what went on between a man and a woman.  She instantly became attracted to her new step-brother and the brief glimpses of compassion he showed her.  She knew he was dangerous but he was also a big temptation.  She's older and wiser now that he's returned, with an attraction just as intense, but there's anger in her now where once there was awe.  She hates that his actions tore her family apart and led her on a path of self-destruction but she's still drawn to him and when Theo returns too she'll again need the protection Seth once promised her.  I felt sympathetic towards Allegra and the overpowering feelings Seth engendered in her.  The rush and sexual promise he represented was understandably intoxicating though she was much too young to handle those feelings.  I look forward to their now being on a level playing feel.

Seth tried to make a home with his newly-remarried mom but Fate set him on a different path which led to heartache for everyone.  He was attracted to his young step-sister but kept his distance, only showing his true emotions when she needed comfort.  Unfortunately he saw the perverted and dangerous looks his step-brother aimed at Allegra and acted as her white knight which resulted in a horrific outcome.  He's stayed away since that night and made something of himself though thoughts of Allegra never left him and there's now nothing holding him back in claiming her.  I was drawn to Seth's intensity and sexiness.  He cared for Allegra, she was one of the few people he truly did care for.  He's a different man now, closed off and desperately fighting for control so he doesn't lose it again.  With the return of the creepy Theo though he might have to do whatever necessary to keep the somewhat clueless Allegra safe.

This was a fast read, an atmospheric one that kept the sexual tension high.  The writing here was enthralling too but massive typos, which I've never commented on before, pulled me out of the story frequently.  As the story progressed I became just as obsessed with Seth as Allegra did as I was drawn to his bad boy/good guy mentality.  Seth just wanted to find a welcoming place with someone who cared for him and it was heartbreaking that the promise in Allegra's eyes was snuffed out over his hidden deed of protection.  I look forward to when the truth comes out about that night, and about Theo, which will hopefully pave the way for Seth and Allegra to be together as adults.

My rating for this is a B+

*I got this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.


Lauren Hawkeye/Lauren Jameson never imagined that she’d wind up telling stories for a living… though when she looks back, it’s easy to see that she’s the only one who is surprised. Always “the kid who read all the time”, Lauren made up stories about her favorite characters once she’d finished a book… and once spent an entire year narrating her own life internally. No, really. But where she was just plain odd before publication, now she can at least claim to have an artistic temperament.

Lauren lives in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada with her husband, toddler, pit bull and idiot cat, though they do not live in an igloo, nor do they drive a dogsled. In her nonexistent spare time Lauren can be found knitting (her husband claims that her snobby yarn collection is exorbitant), reading anything she can get her hands on, or sweating her way through spin class. She loves to hear from her readers!

Tawny Stokes has always been a writer. From an early age, she’d spin tales of serial killers in love, vampires taking over the world, and sometimes about fluffy bunnies turned bunnicidal maniacs. An honour student in high school, with a penchant for math and English, you’d never know it by the foot high blue Mohawk and Doc Martens, which often got her into trouble. No longer a Mohawk wearer, Tawny still enjoys old school punk rock, trance, zombie movies, teen horror films, and fluffy bunnies. She lives in Canada with her fantastical daughter, two cats, and spends most of her time creating new stories for teens.
Tawny also writes adult paranormal/urban fantasy fiction under the name Vivi Anna, and is an aspiring screenwriter.
Website | Facebook | Twitter


Book Spotlight for Make Me Up by Avery Flynn (Review & GIVEAWAY)

Readers who enjoy sensual stories with witty banter between a delicious hero and a strong-willed heroine will be drawn to Make Me Up by Avery Flynn.  Keep reading to get a tantalizing taste of this book, along with my impressions of it.  To celebrate it's recent release too there's a great giveaway of make-up items that you might win after filling out the form below!

Murder, mayhem and makeup.
Panty dropper, knee knocker and all-around-good time Cam Hardy leaves a trail of broken hearts wherever he goes. His lady killer reputation never bothered the private investigator until he met Drea Sanford. Getting the tough as nails make up artist in his bed proved to be the easy part. It’s keeping her there that’s harder than any of the special ops missions he’s run in South America.
Falling into Harbor City’s modern day Casanova’s bed was never on Drea’s list of smart things to do—but hotness happens, especially in the form of the six-foot-five-inch motorcycle riding Cam. Then he takes their secret affair public and she swears to never let him crinkle her sheets again. But when one of Drea’s clients is murdered and the police zero in on her, the only person she can count on is the one man she never thought she could trust.


Drea got out of the seat and turned around to face him, but she was lost for words when she realized standing up had just given him a better view. Cam’s green-eyed gaze took in her entire body. Then he grinned, pissing her off and drenching her panties at the same damn time. 
If anyone could carry off absolutely wicked and totally charismatic at the same time, it was Cam. She itched to run her fingers through his thick mass of tousled honey blond hair. His murky green eyes were full of dark promise, the kind she knew he could deliver. 
And then there was his body. She could eat Jell-O off of his tanned washboard abs and the gelatin wouldn’t have the courage to jiggle. Being near him was like standing at the edge of the subway platform as the train whooshed by—exhilarating, dangerous, and addicting on a completely visceral level. 
But he’d broken her rule. The one thing she’d asked him not to do—and he’d gone and done it anyway. She wasn’t sure whether knowing he’d done it without thinking made the situation worse or just sad. But she couldn’t keep seeing him if she couldn’t trust him to keep this a secret. Hell, after that kiss, there was no secret. Cover blown. Everyone knew.
Time to cut her losses. Breaking it off now was the smart plan.
“I know what it is.” He stood up and closed the distance between them. “You’re embarrassed because you think someone saw your tongue push its way into my mouth—accidentally, I’m sure. And heard that sweet, soft moan of pleasure—”
She pushed her hand against his chest and forced him back. “Get over yourself, pretty boy.”
He didn’t even blink at the insult. “You want me. I want you. The sex is amazing. Why are you fighting so damn hard against letting people know we’re together?”
“Because we’re not.” She had no plans to trod down the well-worn path to Cam Hardy’s bed again. “You knew the rules when this thing started.”
“No going public.” His gaze pinned her to the spot, and he looked at her like she was the only woman in the world. “Look, babe, give me another chance.”
It made her mouth go dry and other places get wet. They’d had one hell of a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am twisting of the sheets, but they’d known from the start this was temporary. She’d known it. He’d known it. They’d agreed to keep it secret.
“It’s over.” Drea took a single step away from him.
He moved lightning fast to get in front of her, his bulk blocking her view of the rest of the group. “Don’t go away mad, babe. Let me make it up to you. Tonight. My place. No one has to know.”
She tossed her cup and plate into the trashcan. “Charming.”
He threw up his hands in frustration. “Around most people, I am.”
“And I’m not most people.” Pushing her point home, she traced a finger across his broad, sinewy shoulders and used the softest hint of pressure to nudge him out of her way so she could march across the grass to say goodbye to her best friends. “You should remember that.”
“As if I could ever forget.”





What do you get when you combine two strong-willed characters with lots of emotional baggage with on-the-edge suspense courtesy of somewhat stereotypical get an energetic read with lots of steaminess in a story that's a comfort read for all its predictability.  As the third book in the Killer Style series main character's Cam and Drea have a past connection that's easy to pick up on even if you haven't read the other installments and it's their interactions that keep the story sailing along in crackling style.

Cam and Drea have been having a secret affair that he's tired of keeping secret.  His decision has Drea running away from him and headlong into trouble when she's accused of murder.  Not only are the cops now looking for her but so too are the real bad guys which leads her right back into Cam's strong arms.  With his security and military knowledge he'll do whatever it takes to keep her safe and find the bad guys before they find them.  All this leads to a fast-paced tale of cat and mouse intrigue amidst crackling sensual interludes between Cam and Drea.  The more time they spend together though the more they have to deal with their pasts and the resulting emotions.  Drea's scared of opening her heart for fear of losing the one she's come to love as her past has taught her that happiness can be snatched away in the blink of an eye.  Her past is further tied up in the murder she's found herself caught up in and could eventually destroy her family.  Cam too is letting past insecurities weigh on him making him feel unworthy of Drea.  He had a difficult upbringing and seen lots of vileness in his life and it's left it's mark.  All in all, their feelings are those seen in numerous romances but are still easy to understand.  Drea's a strong-willed woman more than capable of keeping up with Cam.  Though she's a bit superior at first, she becomes more sympathetic as readers discover more about her past.  Cam's always seemed so self-assured so his feelings of unworthiness don't exactly ring true but I like that these feelings draw them closer together ultimately, as does the danger.

This was a sexually tense read full of witty and sensually-tinged banter flaring often between Cam and Drea.  They're a fun and flirty couple who barrel their way to the truth in this fast-paced story that's full of twists and turns.  The secondary characters provide good support to keep the story progressing at a good pace that resulted in a conclusion that left me sighing in relief and in satisfaction.  I hope there's more tales to tell in the Killer Style series as the combination of action and romance is an engaging one and well-handled by Ms. Flynn.

My rating for this is a B.

*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Avery Flynn has three slightly-wild children, loves a hockey-addicted husband and is desperately hoping someone invents the coffee IV drip.
She fell in love with romance while reading Johanna Lindsey’s Mallory books. It wasn’t long before Avery had read through all the romance offerings at her local library. Needing a romance fix, she turned to Harlequin’s four books a month home delivery service to ease the withdrawal symptoms. That worked for a short time, but it wasn’t long before the local book stores’ staffs knew her by name.
Avery was a reader before she was a writer and hopes to always be both. She loves to write about smartass alpha heroes who are as good with a quip as they are with their *ahem* other God-given talents. Her heroines are feisty, fierce and fantastic. Brainy and brave, these ladies know how to stand on their own two feet and knock the bad guys off theirs.



When you're a makeup artist, you have to look good--even when you're on the run from the cops and a crime boss. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the person standing between you and the bad guys is a sexy, motorcycle-riding former special ops hottie who just happens to be your ex-lover. Yeah, those kind of days require Sexy Mother Pucker lipstick, Most Wanted eyeliner, Making Headlines nail polish, Gun Ammo eye shadow and Sweet Verbena scents. Lucky you, you don't have to be on the run like Drea and Cam in Make Me Up to get all of these goodies. Just enter the giveaway for your chance to win the Make Me Up Makeover Basket from author Avery Flynn & Entangled Publishing!

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Book Blitz for Captivated by Sarah Makela (GIVEAWAY)

As a fan of Ms. Makela's writing I'm thrilled to bring you her newly released fantasy-fueled tale, Captivated.  To celebrate this first installment in the Courts of Light and Darkness series, keep reading for a tantalizing taste of this exhilarating romance and then fill out the form for the chance to win a $10 Amazon GC along with 2 e-copies of books from Ms. Makela's backlist!

When a mercenary whose purpose is to dispose of wicked Unseelie fae meets a dark elf, she’ll question her mission and become captivated...
After her family was killed by a dark elf, mercenary Honora Butler’s purpose is the disposal of wicked faeries, elves and other Unseelie beings, but she’ll find herself questioning her mission when she meets Brennan, a dark elf who doesn’t conform to what she believed his kind were like.
Brennan O’Niall doesn’t know what it is about Honora that makes him crave her, but he wants to find out. However, when she’s charged with the murder of a friend, he’ll have to discover the truth and decide just how much she means to him.


Gritting her teeth, Honora Butler sneaked farther into the dark, snowy forest. Danger lurked within the shadows, and she would kill or be killed. Death didn’t intimidate her anymore. She knew it too well.
Everyone she’d loved had been taken from her. The only thing she cared about now was destroying those who had ruined her life.
Snow crunched beneath the soles of her knee-high leather boots. The risks of killing those monsters were great, but she didn’t care. When she was young, the Mercenary Guild had taken her in. They’d seen her abilities and her determination. They’d trained her, given her a chance when she’d wanted only to die, and now she did what she bloody well could to make sure the dark beings of the Unseelie Court hurt no one else.
A horrified scream erupted ahead, beckoning her deeper into the forest. It had to have been caused by her prey. Picking up her pace, she pulled a throwing knife from its sheath. Her magic surged into the blade, filling it with power and making the metal white-hot.
The trees broke into a clearing. The cause of the cries stood in the dirt road. A woman cowered on the ground while a short, stocky man dressed in blood red with a matching hat sneered at her. He looked to be having far too good a time.
“I have a husband and kids. Please, don’t hurt me,” the woman whimpered. “My master...he’ll—”
The Fear Dearg snorted and crossed his arms in front of him. Stroking his bushy beard, he stared down his crooked nose at the terrified woman as if pondering what to do first.
Honora doubted the woman was in immediate danger. The Red Man mostly engaged in cruel pranks on those he sought, but that wouldn’t stop her from killing him. Her mission in life was to rid the world of malevolence. No matter what.
She slid from the trees, taking one quiet step after another. “Na dean maggadh fum,” she said. Those words, ‘Do not mock me,’ were the best chance she had to take him down without a problem.
The Fear Dearg jerked his gaze to Honora. His lips curled back into a snarl at the interruption. “So be it. Now go on. Get out of here. Can’t you see I’m busy?” He stared at her blankly, waiting. “What? You want my favor and prosperity? One of those bold adventurers? Wait for your turn.”
Just like that, he returned his focus to the woman, grabbing for her dress.
With a snap of her wrist, Honora sent the throwing knife sailing through the air. A wash of blood arced in a thick spray as the Fear Dearg collapsed, the knife lodged between his eyes.
Shrieking, the woman scurried backwards from the corpse. Her eyes were wide and horrified at the sight of the dead faerie. “What have you done?” she asked, glancing Honora’s way. Shaking her head, she reached for her large basket with foodstuffs that lay on its side. Most of the food had fallen out, but the woman didn’t bother gathering it. She just took the basket, then ran off down the dirt road.
What had that been about?
Honora watched the woman until she disappeared around the curve of the path. She walked over to the dead Red Man, then tugged her blade out of his skull. It came away easily, blood dripping off it in great crimson drops. She wiped it clean on his jacket before tucking the knife back in its sheath.
Her stomach rumbled. On the ground was an unsoiled loaf of bread from the woman’s fallen food. She stripped off her bloody gloves and crouched. After brushing off a few leaves, she tore a piece from it and lifted it to her lips.
In the distance, she heard a faint noise like that of a large flock of birds beating their wings. That couldn’t be right. Birds weren’t typically active at night there. Yet the sound grew louder.
The sudden realization of what it was punched her in the gut. She dropped the bread and raced after the woman. Honora needed to find the safety of shelter. She couldn’t be out here when the Sluagh—restless spirits of the dead—flew over. What they did was worse than death. They captured their victims’ souls.
Behind her, the cries became impossibly louder. She didn’t have much time at all. She had yet to spot any homes or places to hide and knew if she were spotted, she would be connected with the murder of the Fear Dearg. They’d hunt her down. She wouldn’t be safe unless she found somewhere soon.




NYT & USA Today bestselling author Sarah Mäkelä loves her fiction dark, magical, and passionate. She is a paranormal romance author, but she’s written all over the romance spectrum with cyberpunk, sci-fi, fantasy, urban fantasy...even a sweet contemporary romance!
A life-long paranormal fan, she still sleeps with a night-light. In her spare time, she reads sexy books, watches scary movies (and Ghost Adventures), and plays computer games with her husband. When she gets the chance, she loves traveling the world too.



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Book Spotlight for Shopping for a Billionaire's Fiancée by Julia Kent

Those looking for a fun and flirty read will adore this romantic tale told from a male perspective.  Keep reading for a tantalizing taste of the just-released Shopping for a Billionaire's Fiancée by Julia Kent and then add it to your bookshelf....

All of our best dates end up in the emergency room....
I planned the perfect proposal. Plenty of lobster, caviar, champagne and--her favorite--tiramisu. The perfect setting. The perfect woman. The perfect everything.
Dad gave me my late mother's engagement ring, platinum and diamonds galore. Shannon wouldn't care if I slid a giant hard-candy ring on her finger instead of a three-carat diamond designed to impress. But my future mother-in-law, Marie, will pass out when she sets eyes on that rock, which will give us two minutes of blessed silence. That woman talks more than Kim Kardashian flashes her naked backside on the internet.
I was going to make it perfect, from the color of the tablecloth to the freshness of the roses. And it was perfect.
Until Shannon swallowed the ring.
* * *
Shopping for a Billionaire's Fiancée gives near-billionaire Declan McCormick the chance to tell his story in this continuation of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Shopping for a Billionaire series.



New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge, and new adult books that push contemporary boundaries. From billionaires to BBWs to rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every book she writes, but unlike Trevor from Random Acts of Crazy, she has never kissed a chicken.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Tour for Love’s Last Bite by Viki Lyn and Vina Grey (Review & GIVEAWAY)

As someone who's been following this series from the very beginning I'm thrilled to see John and Vincent and their complex relationship once again.  Keep reading to get a glimpse of Love’s Last Bite by Viki Lyn and Vina Grey, the third installment in the Orbus Arcana series, along with my impressions of this book.  Learn even more about this book by visiting the other blogs hosting this tour and make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $15 bookstore GC too.

Dark forces, a vampire, plus one sexy cop is a recipe for trouble.
VINCENT KAMATEROS is no longer the lonely exiled vampire running a cupcake shop, but the heir to his father’s throne.
JOHN REEDER is out and accepts his vampire lover, but he has to deal with his lover being destined to rule the vampire kingdom.
While Vince and John revel in their newfound love, dark forces are at work in Orbus Arcana, determined to keep the progressive Vince from becoming the next vampire king.
Time is short and decisions loom. Their irrevocable choices will change their lives forever.


The boat swiftly sailed toward the open sea. John stood on the deck discussing the merits of using a certain knot with the Captain. He loved to discuss sailing with just about anyone, but he was having a difficult time after the shit that Vincent just threw at him.
Jesus. H. Christ.
King Vincent.
Or would he go by King Kamateros? His stomach revolted. This was not in the plan, not really.
Sucking in sea-tinged air, his shoulders drooped as weariness settled over him. Turning, he spied Vincent leaning on the railing, a glass of wine held between two elegant fingers. The man was beautiful.
Vincent stared into the distance. With his bronzed skin, taut lean muscles and his hair blowing back in the sea breeze, he looked so damn good. Sometimes he wished Vincent kept his emotions shielded. Even from a distance, he sensed Vincent’s stress. A strange sensation when this happened, a faint tremor passed over John’s heart. His poor lover was as worried and upset as he was. This had to be hard on him, too. As much as Vincent touted his right to rule, there had to be a side of him that desired a normal life. A life they had right at this moment.
A life that was about to be shattered.
John politely excused himself and headed for the starboard. He’d better talk with Vincent. Soothe his worry that John would ever consider leaving him.


Just when life seemed to be calming for vampire heir Vincent and human John, the vampire world intervenes once again as Vincent's life continues to be in jeopardy from an unknown villain.  Family's also causing problems as a human for a life-mate is seen as a weakness in the vampire world which could put Vincent's reinstatement as heir in jeopardy.  For John, coming out is as awful as he expected which leaves a group of vampires his family in name as he slowly gains their admiration through his loyalty to, and support of, Vincent.  Their romance continues to sizzle in numerous sexual interludes and just a few misunderstandings as they're both willing to talk through their issues.  While Vincent shows utmost calmness and wears his dominance like a cloak, John is the one to show his emotions more with a tendency to jump to conclusions before being the voice of reason.  They may appear to be different but together they're a formidable team who got put through the wringer and came out stronger because of it.

While I enjoyed watching Vincent and John's relationship flourish, and take a dramatic turn, I was more drawn to the unrequited connection between the flamboyant Angelo and the stoic Jude Mikhail.  Angelo desperately wants to commit himself to one person but fears of future headed towards insanity because of his gift have him holding back.  He refuses to get close to anyone for fear they'll follow him into death, so he continues to be the playboy, but the longing for more is always there.  JM is drawn to Angelo against his better judgement as he brings energy and humor to his quiet existence.  His vows are also holding him back but Angelo's promise of eventually getting JM in bed points towards an intense and sensual battle on the horizon which has me excited for more books in this series.

This was an entertaining story that mostly took place in the glamorous and glitzy vampire world, with all its pomp and circumstance.  These characters are compelling, and John's recent decision promises big changes ahead.  Though this story went on a bit too long with a conclusion too quickly wrapped up, I still enjoyed the ride.  My enjoyment mostly stemmed from Angelo and JM and a complicated relationship that has me clamoring for more.  Their connection brought a smile to my face as Angelo is larger than life and can always be counted on to provide much-needed humor and I enjoyed the flashes of humor JM expressed when he let his guard down around Angelo.  Though this story ends with a definitive conclusion there's still some stories left to tell.  So here's hoping Ms. Lyn and Ms. Grey return us to this emotionally conflicted world soon!

My rating for this is a B.

*I got this book from the authors for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


An introvert and artist with a healthy dose of skepticism about life and love =Viki. An extrovert and academic and a die-hard romantic =Vina. It was so not a match made in heaven. But Viki and Vina discovered a mutual love of traveling around the world, the paranormal, good coffee, and a healthy admiration for their respective creativity. Sitting in a coffee shop one day, they started brainstorming about story plots and Vince and John and the car crash in the bakery. A story was born. Vina writes the sappy romance and Viki tempers it. Between them, they managed to find their boys a ‘happily ever after’.



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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Tour for Pairing Off by Elizabeth Harmon (Review & GIVEAWAY)

As a fan of sports-themed romances I was thrilled to come across one featuring the world of figure skating.  It's not a world often depicted in romances but after the enjoyable time spent with Pairing Off by Elizabeth Harmon I look forward to more.  Keep reading to get a tantalizing taste of two opposites attracting, a glimpse at the city that brings them together, along with my impressions of this book.  Learn even more about this book, the first installment in the Red Hot Russians series, by visiting the other blogs hosting this tour.  Make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win 1 of 5 e-copies of this book too!

Love in the Big City......
I grew up in a medium-sized Midwestern college town, but when it came time to strike out on my own, I knew exactly where I wanted to go…to the closest big city, which in my case,was Chicago.
I got my wish and spent my post-college years living with roommates, and eventually my husband, in some great neighborhoods on Chicago’s North Side: Lincoln Park, North Halsted and Wrigleyville. I had unforgettable times, made some amazing memories, and drew upon a number of them to create the setting for my debut contemporary romance, “Pairing Off.”
The thing is,” Pairing Off” isn’t set in Chicago. It’s set in Moscow, Russia. But the great thing about being a writer is being able to turn our experiences into our characters’ lives—the essence of writing what you know.
I’ve never been to Moscow, but as I began my research, I discovered it has a number of things in common with Chicago. Both are bisected by rivers, have thriving arts and music scenes, stunning architecture, a variety of neighborhoods—from trendy and upscale, to homey and working class. Oh yeah, andthey both get really, really cold.
With the help of several print travel guides, websites including one by a blogger friend who answered many questions, I tried to create a version of Moscow that’s a little less Tom Clancy and a little more Nora Ephron.
But some of the little details that help bring the setting to life came from my memories of Chicago; the seagulls riding the currents above the river on a sunny Saturday afternoon, the magical look of a wintertime city at twilight, and the cozy ambiance of a neighborhood tavern, complete with sports trophies and a chalkboard menu (though the one in “Pairing Off”is written in Cyrillic).
I had a great time learning and writing about Moscow, and I hope you enjoy your vicarious visit, though the eyes of Anton, who calls it home, and Carrie, who discovers love in a place she never expected.

A scandal-plagued American figure skater's last chance at gold means pairing up with Russia's sexiest male skater...who happens to be the first man she ever loved.
"The Cutting Edge" with a Russian twist.
American pairs figure skater Carrie Parker’s Winter Games dreams were dashed when her philandering partner caused one of the greatest scandals in skating history. Blacklisted from competing in America, her career is over…until she receives a mysterious invitation and is reunited with the most infuriating, talented—and handsome—skater she’s ever met.
Russian champion Anton Belikov knows sacrifice. He gave up a normal life and any hope of a meaningful relationship to pursue his dream. And he’s come close—with a silver medal already under his belt, the next stop is the gold. All he needs is a partner. While he’s never forgotten the young American skater he seduced one long-ago night in Amsterdam, he never expected to see her again…never mind skate with her.
When what starts as a publicity stunt grows into something real between them, Carrie and Anton’s partnership will test their loyalties to family, country, and each other. With only a few months to train for the competition of a lifetime, can they master technique and their emotions, or will they lose their footing and fall victim to the heartaches of their pasts?


She’d seen Galina Borisova at competitions, but they’d never been introduced. Galina looked to be in her fifties and her thin neck, sharp features and spiky bleached blond hair, tinted pink on the ends, brought to mind a flamingo. Her dark eyes and brows suggested neither blond nor pink were her natural shade.
“It is well to meet you. Flight was agreeable, yes?” Galina’s accent was so heavy, Carrie struggled to understand. The ancient Zamboni rumbling past on the ice didn’t help.
“Yes. Spasibo. As I said before, I want to reimburse you for the airfare. I know it was very expensive.”
Galina waved the offer away. “Money is made to be spent. I consider investment. I wish you had let me arrange pickup car.”
“Really, that’s fine. You’ve been more than generous.” The Russian coach’s willingness to pay for and arrange everything now seemed too good to be true. Didn’t Dad always say “There’s no such thing as a free lunch?” She had the feeling she’d just flown six thousand miles to see him proven right. “I’m excited to begin training. I was a big admirer of your work with Zelenskaya and Belikov.”
Galina gazed wistfully at the departing Zamboni and the glistening ice left in its wake. “Olga and Anton were once-in-lifetime pair. Every coach should have good fortune to work with skaters so talented.”
Carrie offered a sympathetic smile. Losing her longtime students must have been heartbreaking for Galina. “Well, I’m no Olga Zelenskaya, but I’ve also been quite successful.”
Galina thinned her lips. “In your way. But we all must move forward, not live in past, yes?”
She bobbed her head, as her cheeks grew warm. Just how successful she’d been was the subject of ongoing debate. From the corner of her eye, she spotted someone doing warm-up stretches on the opposite side of the rink. “Is that my new partner? Your emails didn’t provide much information.”
A tall, dark-haired man skated out. Fast and athletic, he stroked halfway around, then cut toward center ice, launching himself into a double axel. After a confident landing, he glided into the far corner and did a camel spin, rotating with perfect form, his muscular body in flawless, T-shaped alignment over the ice.
Carrie caught her breath, but it wasn’t his beautiful skating that made her heart race. “Oh. My. God.”
“Yes, this must be good news for you. Antosha!” Galina waved, beckoning him over.
Carrie grasped the rink board to ground herself in reality, shaking even more than in the cab. This couldn’t be happening. But incredibly, it was. Her new skating partner was AntonBelikov, World silver medalist…and the first man she’d ever made love to.
He gave a polite nod, but didn’t smile. “Hello, Carrie. Welcome to Moscow.”
How could this be? He belonged with Olga, training at a top rink with a top coach. Not here, with a second-rate coach and skating with…her! She gaped and shook her head. “What are you doing here?”
His brows lifted in surprise. “You don’t keep up with news of your sport?”
Under normal circumstances yes, but these past months she’d avoided as much contact as possible with the outside world and especially the skating world. Galina crossed her arms. “Olga has teamed with Valentin Egorov. You are to be her replacement.”
She grasped the board tighter, as her out-of-control life spun into orbit. “That’s impossible.”
“I’m afraid I don’t understand,” Galina said. “You will train with me, and partner with one of world’s top male pair skaters. I cannot see how this is bad thing.”
Well gosh, for starters, she knew how he looked naked. Damn good, if memory served. Though seven years had passed since that night, this wasn’t an ideal start to a professional partnership. Even if he and Olga no longer skated together, she assumed they were still an off-ice couple. She searched his eyes for any sign of recognition. There was none. Was she relieved, or disappointed?
And how was it that Galina had simply decided to pair her with Anton, without even a tryout? Skaters were matched after weeks of evaluation, like dating before you were engaged. This felt more like a quickie Vegas wedding. She shook her head, as if that might clear her addled brain. This was ridiculous. They couldn’t possibly skate together. “We’re very different,” she began. “Olga’s delicate and artistic. I’m more of a jumper. An acrobat.”
Anton nodded. “You and Olga are different. But with right coach…and right partner, you could be champion again.”
His smile was much too attractive. Straight, perfect teeth gleamed against tawny skin dusted with the shadow of late afternoon stubble. She flashed back to that smile shining brightly in a stranger’s dim bedroom, as Anton gazed down and gently stroked her face. She crossed her arms over her chest as her cheeks burned hot and she let out a harsh laugh.
“Well, bless your heart.” The damn drawl slipped out, the way it always seemed to when she was nervous. “This is all very flattering but I’m afraid we can’t compete together. I’m an American. I’m not eligible.”
Galina spoke up. “Under international rules, you are eligible by permission to compete for us one year after date of your last competition for United States. Since you never skated at World Championship, your last competition was U.S. Nationals and this year, Russian Nationals begin exactly three days after one-year date. Our skating federation has contacted yours and both are willing to grant permission.”
Wasn’t that nice of them? Normally, a top-tier skater wouldn’t be released to compete for another country so easily. American figure skating was clearly anxious to be rid of her.
“As for citizenships,” Galina continued, “you can be both American and Russian. Becoming citizen here normally takes long time, but our government can be most accommodating when dreams of gold medals are at stake. Now then, shall we get to work?”
Carrie stared. Her hands fell to her sides. These two weren’t talking cruise ships. “Lake Placid is in less than seven months! You can’t be serious.”
But the Russians looked dead serious. Anton shrugged. “Not ideal situation, but neither of us is beginner. I am World medalist. You were U.S. champion.”
“Only because my partner slept with a judge!”
“Is that what you think?”
She gave a bitter laugh. “What difference does it make? Everyone else thinks so.”
“Maybe you have something to prove, then?” His deep, exotic voice sent a shiver up her spine.
God, it was tempting. She’d been so close to her dream of competing at the Winter Games, only to see it snatched away. Here was another chance. Maybe, if she could salvage her career and restore her reputation, she could finally hold her head up. The public would forgive her. Dad would forgive her.
Was this the opportunity of a lifetime…or a disaster waiting to happen?
Just as she had skating dreams, Dad had political dreams; to win Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat this fall…then in a few years, maybe run for president. The Cody scandal had embarrassed him, and as much as it hurt that he’d done nothing to defend her publicly, she understood. His political opponents had slobbered over images of Les Parker’s cheating daughter like dogs with new bones.
Imagine how they would react to her turning Russian so she could compete in Lake Placid.
And suppose Anton suddenly remembered their night in Amsterdam? True, she’d had jet-black hair at the time, and been hidden behind those silly sunglasses she and the other Silverettes wore when they snuck out after curfew. Back then, she’d still talked like Scarlett O’Hara too. But hey, it could happen. How would he feel about skating with a girl he’d deflowered, even if it meant nothing? Nothing to him, anyway.
Besides, who was she kidding? She didn’t belong here. The Russians ruled figure skating—especially pair skating—like the popular kids ruled the school cafeteria. She’d been the queen of that lunch table in high school, and if you didn’t belong there, you didn’t try to sit down. She’d lost her seat in spectacular fashion and now the quarterback wanted to take her to prom.
This was too weird for words, and she’d had enough weird to last a lifetime.




This book is described as "The Cutting Edge with a Russian twist" and it's an apt description as it engendered in me the same heartwarming, feel-good feelings as the movie.  From its immensely likable main couple to the colorful cast of secondary characters to the vivid depictions of the rigors of ice skating I was fully immersed in this story from the first page to the last.  The descriptions of Moscow further enhanced my engrossment in this story and as an homage to the city it was a beautiful addition to the already emotionally engaging storyline.

American skater Carrie came from a family of wealth with a father more concerned with appearances than his daughter's feelings.  Growing up she had plenty of heartache that took away her confidence and left her untrusting of others.  A recent debacle starring her pairs partner has left her reeling even more and trying to start over in Russia with new partner, Anton.  Her past connection with this new partner though could once again lead to conflict as the attraction she felt for him is as intense as ever, but as she doesn't want to be seen as the other woman she keeps her feelings hidden.  As the pressure to succeed keeps mounting she finds the support of Anton the only thing she can count on in a world where she feels all alone.  With the Games only a few months away, and with pressure coming from her father and blackmail from her ex partner battering away at her self-confidence, she'll need Anton's support more than ever.  But will it be enough to win or will she feel like a disappointment once again?  Carrie's an immensely likable girl whose self-confidence has taken a beating.  She never felt good enough and hides behind a facade of the sweet Southern girl when she longs to speak out.  With Anton though she slowly comes out of her shell.  She carries guilt over events blown out of purportion but she closes herself off for fear of them coming to light.  Her family is more concerned with their future than hers which sets her further adrift until Anton and his family take her to heart.  She's a kindhearted girl hurt by those who should've protected her and it's not until she goes half-way across the world that she finds a real family who support her wholeheartedly.

Anton was always made to feel inferior to his glamorous skating partner.  When she dumps him he finds Carrie to be the perfect partner as she too was seen as inferior in the skating world.  He admired her loyalty though and knew she'd give her all to see them succeed.  She also engenders surprising feelings in him from the moment they first met that have them soon becoming more than friends.  As Anton works to earn Carrie's trust and to get her to lower her emotional walls, the truth comes out about their past connection which makes her even more important to him.  To prove his commitment he's willing to sacrifice his promise to win by upending Russian tradition.  Will it pay off in a gold medal, and more importantly will they stay partners off the ice once the Olympic flame is extinguished?  Anton is a delectable hero, truly caring and supportive.  He's a romantic man in his words and deeds and I loved his broken English and self-deprecating humor.  He's loyal to family and to others who don't deserve him and in Carrie is someone truly in need of loyalty which had me rooting for them.

The romance here is a slow burning one as Anton is with someone else at the beginning.  The connection between Carrie and Anton slowly builds as they move from friends into lovers and it had me captivated.  The sexual tension is quite apparent from the start though and intensifies in subtle touches, glances, and flirty banter as the story progresses and once they finally give in to each other it's richly rewarding.  These are two immensely likable characters dealing with pressures from the sport and from family and only together will they survive the drama.  The skating scenes are numerous and vividly detailed and I worked up a sweat reading about all the work leading up to their competitions.  Moscow too plays a big role in this story as readers are lovingly taken on a tour of the city.  As Anton escorts Carrie throughout the city their romance flourishes in a sweet and sensual journey to HEA.  The colorful cast of secondary characters, both heroes and villains, further enhanced my reading experienced and have me excited for more action on and off the ice.

My rating for this is an A.

*I got this book from NetGalley for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


I love stories that give a fresh take on classic themes, and feature characters and locations not often seen in romance. Give me a lovable, if less-than-perfect heroine, a gorgeous hero with a heart of gold, take them a little off the beaten path and I'm a happy girl.
I read a variety of genres-- romance to horror and just about everything in between. I am a member of Romance Writers of America. I have worked as a freelance journalist for a number of local publications and am a contributing writer to Romance Writers Report.
When I'm not writing, I love to ice skate, bike ride, hang out at the beach or on my front porch. I love vintage homes, adventurous cooking, spending time with my family and traveling.



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