Tara Neale

April 26, 2012

Savage Cinderella by PJ Sharon

Filed under: book review,romance,Uncategorized — Tara Neale @ 7:15 am
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Title: Savage Cinderella

Author: PJ Sharon

Source: Amazon

Price: Around $3.50

Heat: Sweet and simple

Rating: Not to be missed

Genre: Young Adult

When I began this blog to support indie (self) published authors, I knew that I had to put some limits to it. I did not want to be reading technical manuals or how-to-get rich yarns. So I decided to stick with my other great love…Romance. But within that genre I knew that there were dozens of sub-genres. Being the liberal and adventurous person that I am, I decided not to put any limits beyond that. Historical, para-normal/sci-fi, contemporary, gay (I am still open to suggestions in this one folks)…you name it; I’ll read and review it.  Of course, I am more familiar with some genres than others.

But when I got a request from one of my Savvy Author friends to review her Young Adult novel I was not certain what to expect. I honestly can’t remember reading more than a couple of Judy Blume books in junior high I seemed to skip straight from Little House on the Prairie to Bertrice Small and Johanna Lindsey. So I was not sure exactly what to expect.

What I got when I opened PJ Sharon’s Savage Cinderella was the delightful story of pain, love and the triumph of the human spirit. It was an amazing journey and if this story is any indication of that genre then I cannot wait for my six year old to graduate to these tales.

Brinn has lived alone in a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains since she escaped from the man who kidnapped, raped, tortured and left her for dead. In her eight years of living off the land, she has grown from a child to a beautiful young woman. She has learned which plants are edible, how to catch a fish with her bare hands, that her monthly bleeding does not mean she will die…and oh yeah, she raised an abandoned bear cub.

Until the day that Justin Spencer discovers her. He is a reporter, hiking the trails and taking pictures of nature. When he sees the feral woman-child, he is intrigued. But following her gets them both into big trouble. When he falls, he bumps his head, twists his ankle and ends up as Brinn’s uninvited houseguest for a few days.

Justin ignites feelings in Brinn that she does not understand. His stories of life in the city capture her imagination. While her strength and beauty capture Justin’s heart. Can he help her to re-discover the world that was stolen from her? Can she find the strength to leave the safety of her mountain home? Can he keep her safe from a past that nearly destroyed her once? To find out the answers to those questions, you’ll have to read Savage Cinderella for yourself.

It is well worth the time and money. PJ Sharon is that most elusive of creatures…an amazing storyteller. She uses words to paint pictures of people and places that captivate the reader, drawing them into complex storylines that hold you enthralled until the very end.

Of course, you know me…nothing is ever perfect. For this story, my only quibble was formatting. The story moved so fast and the copy that I had at least did not make clear paragraph breaks. It was difficult going at first…until I got so caught up in the story that nothing mattered. Of course, considering my own journey with self-publishing, I have new respect for how difficult formatting can be. And like I said, this story demands reading.

So if you are looking for a birthday present for a son/daughter/niece/nephew…or if you just want an amazing story of the triumph of the spirit against all odds, then rush out (into cyber space that is) and purchase Savage Cinderella. It is another example of the talent of self-published authors…and this brave new world.

Next week, join me as I taste male-male love…and more than ménage with Emma Holly’s Hidden Depths. Imagine it girls…three husbands…and one of them is a king of an undersea wonder land.

March 15, 2012

Some Kind of Wonderful by Dahlia Rose

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tara Neale @ 7:30 am

Title: Some Kind of Wonderful

Author: Dahlia Rose

Source: Amazon, AllRomance

Price: $3 or so for novellas between 15K and 30K, slightly more for her full-length novels

Heat: HOT, within the confines of a committed relationship

Rating: Tear jerking, heartwarming and BREATH-TAKING

Genre: Interracial Romance

Dahlia Rose was one of my first discoveries in indie romance. Although she also writes for established print and e-publishers, her self-published line offers her variety and freedom to explore boundaries. She has become my author of choice for novellas. When I know I have just a couple of hours and do not want to get into a story that I will have to put down, she’s my girl.

As an African-American author, she writes almost exclusively in the IR (Interracial) genre. Her characters are independent and sometimes a bit quirky black women, who find happiness and amazingly HOT sex in the arms of white and Latino men. Her works realistically and empathetically explore the societal issues that face these couples…without losing the focus on what drives a romance…deep characters with amazing stories.

Some Kind of Wonderful represents Dahlia at her best. Bonnie Gabriel is a photographer/artist who is beginning her life over after a disastrous relationship that left her with a sweet something worth it all…a baby.  But trouble is brewing off the coast of her North Carolina home, in the form of a hurricane. Her best friend is worried about Bonnie and asks her Special Forces brother to drop in on her while he is on vacation. And does he…drop-in that is…literally, repelling from a helicopter. With the hurricane bearing down on them, Conrad Lewis shows the reader what a hero really is…securing Bonnie’s home, delivering her baby and making the world a better place for us all (and a hotter one too, girls). And the rest is an awesome read.

I loved this novella and choose it to highlight what I find so special about Dahlia because it breaks a proto-typical romance mold. In a typical romance, the story would go something like this…heroine has been hurt before so she refuses to give into the new feelings that building within her out of fear.  As a result, there are pages and pages of frustration (hers, his and the readers) as she fights her growing feelings for the hero. It is only when she loses him that she discovers her real feelings and miraculously they are reunited.

Not this time. This story is about two amazing people, who recognize early that something special is happening between them and have the good sense to cherish it for the special gift that it is. The hero admits his feelings and is in her bed in record time. They are married and enjoying a different kind of honeymoon by mid-point. But that does not mean that the storyline is weak or without conflict. This romance is what I have always dreamt of and complained that publishers never print…real-life romance, where the struggles are not against each other or their feelings but against outside forces that are trying to tear them apart. In this case, Bonnie must face the insecurities and uncertainties of becoming a military wife…and the fears of ‘what if’s.’ Add to that the ex, who shows up to make trouble and this couple need all the love and HOT sex they can get to overcome the things that life throw at them.

Of course nothing is ever perfect, so a couple of warnings (I will always include these for balance, folks).  One of the complaints I hear about indie publishing is the lack of adequate editing. First of all, you can find misspellings and grammatical errors in New York Times best-sellers from top publishers. Sometimes lots of them given the amount of money they spent on proof-readers, editors and re-writes. Given the limited resources of authors who self-published, I believe that a bit more leeway is in order.

Like me, Dahlia is a story-teller, first and foremost (and one of the best in my opinion). As a story-teller, our focus is upon just that…the story. This means that sometimes the number of errors that slip past spell-check and beta-readers is a bit higher than traditional publishing and its big budgets. So if your focus is on grammar and spelling more than strong, believable characters and complex, fast-paced storylines then Dahlia might not appeal to you as much as she does to me.

The other thing to remember is that these are fast-paced novellas, not full-length works. Just like a quick sandwich can sometimes fail to fill you up and leave you hungry for more, so can stories that move this quickly. But sometimes, all we have time for in our fast-paced lives is a sandwich. And these are gourmet sandwiches, folks. Full of the meat of rich, robust characters, sandwiched between storylines that are like the best home-made French rolls and with hot, spicy dressings (sex)that leaves you satisfied but hungry for more. So if you are looking for a little something to tide you over until the next meal, a story that you can finish in a single sitting or on your commute to work, then you should check out Some Kind of Wonderful and Dahlia Rose’s other works.

In this brave new world of indie publishing, there is room for so many different styles and tastes. No longer are we restricted in what we read by the big business of publishing.  Shorter works, novellas that were once not worth the publishers efforts are abounding in this medium. And genres such as IR that were once considered niche have been given new life. Those are just two of the many benefits of e-publishing. Dahlia Rose is one of a new breed of authors taking risks in this new reality. So if you are looking for a couple of hours of amazing sex, happy endings and wonderful people give this book and Dalia Rose a try this week.

Next week I step back in time to medieval England with Laurel O’Donnell’s The Bride and the Brute.

March 9, 2012

Brides of the Kindred by Evangeline Anderson

Filed under: erotic romance,erotica,romance,Uncategorized — Tara Neale @ 7:30 am
Tags: , ,

Title (Series): Brides of the Kindred (Claimed, Hunted, Sought and Found…in that order)

Author: Evangeline Anderson

Source: Amazon, AllRomance

Price: Less than $3 for full length novels

Heat: No holds barred, not for the faint of heart (polyamoury and light BDSM included)

Rating: AWESOME

The Kindred are an alien race with one problem…no women. They have scoured the universe looking for compatible females. So far only three species have been found, resulting in three hybrid races…Beast, Blood and Twin Kindred. But look out girls, the Kindred are coming to earth…and we are the lucky ones.

Beast kindred are the offspring of breeding with women from Rageron, a primitive planet with exotic and dangerous jungles. Beast kindred have a little something extra down below that keep them going and going and going…an Energizer bunny but much hotter. Blood kindred are a vampire like breed that bite their mates as part of the sex act. Their home world is barren Tranq Prime, where the people live below ground in a series of caves, and its inhabitants are as cold as its weather.  But it is the Twin Kindred that lit my imagination. Two hot hungry men for the price of one…what girl could resist that bargain? To add spice to the mix, the Kindred have come to protect Earth from the Scourge, a distant related dying race with twisted and perverted need to abuse and dominate. The price of their protection is a draft that allows the Kindred to draw brides from Earth’s women.

This series follows the intertwined stories of four half-brother Kindred as they seek and court their Earth mates. It also follows the ongoing battle with the Scourge as they seek the special Earthling that can fulfill the prophesy and bring live to their race. All-Father, the Scourge leader, knows no bounds, even his son is prey to his ever-ending need for power.

But if you want to know more…you’ll have to read them for yourself!

Trust me; these books are one of the best buys out there. First of all, they are reasonably price. Each story is over 60,000 words for less than $3. I am a fast reader and these books provide even me with two to three days of pleasure.

But if the price is not enough to attract you, these stories are among the best written sci-fi, paranormal and erotic romance on the market. Evangeline Anderson has crafted complex world with strong yet vulnerable characters. You find yourself empathizing with them. Screaming at them. And most definitely rooting them on their pathways to love and happily ever-after.  The conflict that drives each story is well crafted and believable. The heroine with phobia of needles (borne of a childhood illness that required many hospital visits) must meet those fears head-on as she comes to love her Blood Kindred mate. The zoftig beauty comes to see herself through the eyes of her Twin Kindred mates from a world where bigger women are worshipped. The timid heroine discovers a bit of her kink as she comes to dominate her Scourge lover…and he discovers it can be as much to be dominated as it is to dominate.

A couple of slight warnings…as I said this series are not for the timid. If your preference is for Barbara Cartland or Grace Livingstone Hill, then Evangeline Anderson’s Brides of the Kindred probably would shock and mortify you. In fact, this series would probably be considered pushing the boundaries of erotic romance for most. But the writing skill and depth of emotion that Ms. Anderson brings to her characters and stories carry it off beautifully. Polyamoury such as with the Twin Kindred sharing a single mate is a topic on the fringe of society, but the complex and loving relationship that Evangeline crafts between these three makes it seem almost ‘normal’ in the end.

The only real weakness in these stories is probably the fight scenes. Miss Anderson’s skill with the sword (or laser gun) is not as adapt as her skill with a different kind of ‘sword.’ So if you are as much into the fighting as you are at loving, you might be a tad disappointed. For me, this really was not an issue. Although for a moment or two, I did feel a tad let down at how easily killed the All-Father was…think I might have said too much.

One thing that is important to remember though is that to get the most out of this series you really do need to read them in the order in which they were written as each story is a continuation of the over-arching plot and struggle between the Kindred and the Scourge. While each story is a stand-alone erotic romance with a beginning, struggle and happy ending, much of the larger story line would not easily be understood if you read them out of order.

Overall, these stories are among the best of their genre. Evangeline Anderson has a voice and style that is enjoyable and easy to read. Her imagination is heart-stopping thing of beauty and the characters and stories that follow from her mind are engaging and enthralling. These are not to be missed sci-fi erotic romances and the perfect gift for your wife or partner for a birthday, anniversary, Mother’s Day or just because. So rush out to Amazon or AllRomance and start reading today…and who knows what might be in store for tonight… Note to husbands: If your wife likes romance novels, this is a great opportunity to introduce a bit of spice/kink into things.

Best of all, Evangeline Anderson has just released the latest in the series…Revealed. I am off now to purchase it for an exciting weekend of love and hot sex.

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