Friday, March 20, 2015

Ellen March - Love on the Menu - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Jago Tanner is a loner. He works up a good hunger at his outdoors pursuits centre in Wales and looks upon each female conquest as just another meal. When he’s sated, he doesn’t go back for dessert. Until Riley shows up. A Londoner hired through an agency to assist him with activities, she isn’t at all what he asked for. For starters, with the name Riley, he expected a man. But Riley is all woman—the sexiest woman Jago has ever laid eyes on. Unfortunately she dresses like a trollop and curses like a sailor. Though ignorant about most outdoors pursuits, she’s a skilled horsewoman, able to calm even his nerviest stallion. And her lively and generous nature enchants his housekeeper Emily and his ancient friend, Tom.

In short, Jago’s new employee is a bundle of contradictions. Which is why, when Jago falls for her, he doesn’t trust his feelings. Riley seems unusually accident prone, and when her brother’s shady friends menace her, she plays the innocent. But how can anyone so self-sufficient and mouthy also be so trusting and naïve? And can a man with Jago’s volatile nature endure the jealousy a woman like Riley provokes just by strolling down the street?


My Review

Cowboys in Wales?

It certainly makes for an intriguing concept.

Alas, there aren't any Stetsons or pickup trucks in this novel, but there are plenty of boots and saddles to go around. Wide open spaces give way to the bleakness of a rough and rugged mountain range, while the wind-swept moors stand in for the prairie heartland. Yet that fierce independent spirit of the Old West remains the same on both sides of the Atlantic.

Cowboys make good romantic heroes, whether they have a British accent or not.

Tyrian is the rustic domain of Jago Tanner. It's the name of the country estate he inherited from his uncle and turned into an outdoor pursuits centre. It's the type of place where corporate types go to bond outside the office with Jago as their naturalist guide. However, it turns out Jago's not a steer-wrestling, bronco-bucking rodeo star. In fact, he's more like a stock broker in tight fitting jeans than some cattle rustler. Jago has a shrewd hand in managing his finances, knowing how to build upon his family's wealth. While his large fortune allows him to indulge in his passion of being in the great outdoors full time, it doesn't necessarily make him happy.

And the small neighboring village is well aware of the moodiness of their most affluent resident. Jago is known for getting into fights, even though he always walks away the winner. That's because he's a big, strapping guy that no one ever gets the best of. He's brash and arrogant. The kind of man who's used to getting his way.

That's why the patrons of the local pub cheer when they see a girl like Riley Smith put him in his place. They've been waiting a long time to see Jago taken down a few pegs, and she's just the girl to do it. The old toothless sheep farmers, with bailing cord holding up their trousers and muddy wellies on their feet, enjoy watching Riley get Jago all flustered. He's usually the one leaving women speechless, including the eighty-three-year-old barkeep, until Riley takes him on.

Jago's not safe anywhere now that she's arrived. He's getting it at home, as well as in the village. His longtime cook, Emily, places herself firmly in Riley's camp. She was taken with the young lass as soon as she walked through the door, hoping her cantankerous employer finally met his match. Emily delights along with the rest of the villagers in introducing the young Londoner to some of the area's signature dishes from a made from scratch potato pie pastry to cawl, a piping hot vegetable lamb stew. Riley is someone who's used to eating frozen dinners or grabbing takeaway whenever she has spare change. So she wastes no time in scarfing down these home-cooked meals, letting them dribble down her chin, much to Jago's chagrin.

Jago always expected the woman he'd fall in love with to be dignified and ladylike. He never dreamed that he'd fall for a foul-mouthed bartender with nothing but a broken-down Volkswagen Beetle to her name. Riley only has a few quid in her pocket, yet she's willing to spend it on him, buying him a thank you gift for letting her keep her job at Tyrian as his assistant. She had no experience when he hired her, but he kept his word, giving her the chance to prove herself.

Little does Riley know that she might actually become the lady of the manor in the very near future, if Jago has any say in the ending to this rags to riches tale.

***

Love on the Menu can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble 
Smashwords

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Pages: 244
Genre: Steamy Cowboy Romance
Release: February 14, 2015
Publisher: Fanny Press
ISBN: 9781603815680
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Ellen March and her husband live on top of a mountain in Wales, which is ideal in the summer but not so much in the winter months or when it rains. She has three grown children, one suicidal cat--it really does have nine lives--and three Alaskan Malamutes. One of her hobbies is showing and working them. Ellen's first love, however, is reading and writing. Since childhood, she has devoured every romance and fantasy she can get her hands on and enjoys acting out her own fantasies in print. Her body of work includes erotic romance, psychological thrillers, and supernatural fantasies. Fanny Press has published three of her erotic romances--Promises, His Girl Friday, and A Ghost of an Affair--and will be publishing more in 2015 and beyond.

Links to connect with Ellen:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


About the Giveaway

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Sharon St. George - Due for Discard - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Aimee Machado is thrilled to be starting her first job as a forensic librarian at the medical center in the town of Timbergate, north of Sacramento, California. Her ebullient mood is somewhat dampened by her recent breakup with her former live-in boyfriend, Nick Alexander. And then there's a little matter of murder: on Aimee's first day on the job, a body is found in a nearby Dumpster and soon identified as her supervisor's wife, Bonnie Beardsley.

Aimee's heartbreaker of a brother and best friend, Harry, just happens to be one of the last people to see Bonnie alive, but he is hardly the only suspect. Bonnie was notorious for her wild partying and man-stealing ways, and she has left a trail of broken hearts and bitterness. Aimee is determined to get her brother off the suspect list.

Aimee's snooping quickly makes her a target. Isolated on her grandparents' llama farm where she fled post-breakup, she realizes exactly how vulnerable she is. Three men have pledged to protect her: her brother Harry, her ex, Nick, and the dashing hospital administrator with a reputation for womanizing, Jared Quinn. But they can't be on the alert every minute, not when Aimee is so bent on cracking the case with or without their help.

Book 1 in a new mystery series featuring amateur sleuth Aimee Machado.


My Review

Race is a complex issue. Yet in fiction when it's dealt with subtly, it can make such a strong impact. A competent writer can take readers inside the skin of a character and have them feel what it's like to go through life as a person of color, or an ethnicity different from their own. Understated prejudices run just as deep as any verbal slur or uttered epithet. Oftentimes, daily interactions are tinged with an undercurrent of mistrust backed by false assumptions. The individual isn't seen, only the stereotype.

In the opening of DUE FOR DISCARD, Aimee Machado is confronted with the question, "You're not from around here are you?" Even though she's the new research librarian at Timbergate Medical Center. Even though she just received her master's degree from Southern Connecticut State University. She's no dummy, yet the security guard views her with suspicion because she's half Portuguese, half Chinese. She doesn't look like everyone else so for him it automatically throws up a red flag. She's targeted solely for her skin color, and this ignorant authority figure makes her feel the sting.

It's not the first time that Aimee's stood out in her hometown, a rural section of Northern California that's predominantly white. In fact, it's the reason why growing up she learned how to defend herself by studying martial arts at the local dojo. One particular childhood incident really left its mark on her. She still harbors painful memories of the day she laid into a bully on the school bus, breaking his finger in the process. It was the only time she ever resorted to violence, yet to this day she continues to carry with her a reluctance to hurt anyone. Afraid of her own strength, so to speak.

However, when her brother, Harry, is viewed as a suspect in the murder of Bonnie Beardsley, the wife of a prominent plastic surgeon, Aimee's fears are quick to resurface. Harry is a fit, good-looking guy who's known around town as the successful architect who just landed the new mall project. However, he was seen coming out of his abode with the beautiful, blonde Mrs. Beardsley hours before her disappearance. It doesn't take long for the police to point the finger at Harry, especially when the evidence indicates there may have been a sexual component to the crime, as well.

But the suggestion is preposterous since Harry recently saved Aimee from being raped by the brother of a police officer. When Aimee pulled over to check out a flat tire, she was jumped from behind and nearly assaulted before Harry showed up. Harry was charged with using excessive physical force to protect his sister, and the assailant was sent to prison. Yet the pall cast on his brother's law enforcement career continued to fester, accounting for the eagerness of the police department to pin Mrs. Beardsley's murder on Harry. But the corruption doesn't stop there, because it turns out this particular officer is also bedding the female DA.

It's no wonder that Aimee says that her twin blisters are jealousy and insecurity. The Machados have worked hard to maintain their exceptional reputation in the community, and now it looks like it'll all be for nothing. After their father retired, the family business was left to Harry, and he thought he was on the right track until his fiancée left him because her parents didn't want their grandchildren to look foreign. That's when Harry started shacking up with random women. In the book, he never admits to sleeping with Bonnie Beardsley at any time before her death, but he does claim that she tried to get him in a lip lock when he walked her to her car, insisting that he thwarted her advances and pushed her away.

Yet it seems like the Machado siblings don't have much luck when it comes to love. One of Aimee's hard-and-fast rules is to never date a cheater, and when she thinks she catches her boyfriend, Nick, with another woman, she cuts off all ties with him. Her heart aches because it was the first time she ever considered herself to be truly in love, yet she stubbornly guards her heart, refusing to believe that he might actually be telling the truth when he said nothing happened between him and his ex-girlfriend.

Nick knows how rare a woman like Aimee is. Nothing about her smacks of manipulation or pretense and he claims that he'd never do anything to jeopardize losing her. However, Nick doesn't give up on Aimee. He's determined to help her prove Harry's innocence, no matter how much she keeps pushing him away.

And Aimee needs that kind of loyalty when Bonnie Beardsley's husband makes a play for her. The philandering doctor doesn't waste any time pursuing Aimee after his wife's tragic death. Aimee knows that he has a penchant for exotic-looking women and every time he looks at her she feels like he's envisioning her in a kimono. He's enthralled by her chameleon-like tendency to transform from Mulan to Pocahontas, but his interest in her just plays into all of the insecurities she has about herself. She feels that when a man like him looks at her eyes and cheekbones, all he thinks is concubine and the only time he thinks wife is when he comes across a blue-eyed blonde like Bonnie.

The author, Sharon St. George, nails the tone of what she's trying to express through the character of Aimee with the clever title, DUE FOR DISCARD. It's a librarian's term for the stamp placed on outdated books and periodicals. Aimee knows that that stamp was already placed on Bonnie Beardsley when her body was found in a Dumpster outside the hospital, and she has no intention of the same thing happening to her, or her brother. No amount of racial profiling is going to pin the buxom blonde's murder on them, not if Aimee has anything to say about it.

***

Due for Discard can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Pages: 340
Genre: Detective Murder Mystery
Release: March 1, 2015
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812238
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Sharon St. George had the good fortune to spend an idyllic childhood in a small northern California town, riding horseback and camping with her family in the nearby mountains. One of her favorite pastimes was reading fiction, and a trip to the library was always an occasion of great joy. She’s traded horses for llamas, but she still treks to the high mountain lakes near her home—always with a mystery novel in her backpack. Sharon’s writing credits include three plays, several years writing advertising copy, a book on NASA’s space food project, and feature stories too numerous to count. She holds dual degrees in English and Theatre Arts, and occasionally acts in, or directs, one of her local community theater productions. Sharon is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, and she serves as program director for Writers Forum, a nonprofit organization for writers in northern California.

Links to connect with Sharon:
Web Site
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


About the Giveaway

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