Tara Neale

May 4, 2012

Hidden Depths by Emma Holly

Filed under: book review,erotic romance,erotica — Tara Neale @ 8:59 am
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Title: Hidden Depths

Author: Emma Holly

Source: Amazon, AllRomance and others

Price: $3.99

Heat: Flaming hot…even under water

Rating: Wow

Genre: Paranormal/Multiple Partners/Gay-Bi Male

I read just about anything in the romance genre, but I have to admit a unique love for really hot paranormal/sci-fi men. Forget hunky humans…nothing beats an alien or a vampire or a shape-shifter. These guys can play by different rules. Things that would never go with a human lover can be amazingly erotic if one of these guys does it.

Emma Holly’s Hidden Depths takes that to a whole new level. Image a second honeymoon with your husband of over twenty years. You are laying on the beach thinking about how wonderful it is that after all these years you still love one another and the spark has never gone out.

Then out of the waves stalks hulking naked men. One of them grabs you while the others subdue your husband. Walking you out into the waves, your kidnapper tells you that you are his destined bride. He follows this with a breath stealing kiss before plunging you both beneath the waves.

Now add to this, an undeniable attraction to the guy. The fact that the dude is a king…of his own underwater kingdom. Court intrigue that would have done even the Tudors proud. And the king’s gay lover, best friend and chief of security. Oh and did I mention that your hubby has the hots for the king’s lover.

Does it boggle your mind? Stretch your imagination? Perhaps even ignite some curious fires in your libido?

It is an unusual combination of seemingly impossible circumstances that Emma Holly crafts and weaves into the most captivating and titillating story I have read in some time. She delves deep into the human psyche to explore taboos then turns them on their ears. She creates complex but likable characters with flaws and complementary strengths. And it works. She pulls off this seemingly impossible combination of characters and storylines creating a universe in which it all seems perfectly normal. In the end, readers are challenged to examine their own morals (and hidden desires), to consider new depths of relationships and alternative lifestyles. Kudos to Ms. Holly.

Again my only quibble with the story was some formatting problems with the Kindle edition that I read. But what the heck, not gonna let some paragraph spacing keep me from a spell-binding read. And neither should you.

So if this weekend, you want to push your boundaries…explore your kinky side…and fall in love…with not one hot hero, but three…then rush out to your local neighborhood cyber bookseller for this awesome story. Hidden Depths delivers all that its title promises…and more. (Oh and if like me you can’t get enough of this unusual combination, there is a novella called Date Night that is a sequel.)

I want to say special thanks this week to all my friends at IndieRomanceInk for the support and patient answers that they have provided the past couple of weeks as I took my own dive into this brave new world of indie publishing. It has been a steep learning curve and without their advice, encouragement and downloading/Tweeting I don’t know what I would have done. In the coming weeks, I will be featuring some of their works on this blog…reviews of other amazing stories brought to you not by the big business of publishing but by the creative (and in some cases kinky) minds and hard work of talented authors. Hope you will join me for their stories.

Next week, I am back to another of my Savvy Author friends and another unusual combination as I review Nancy Lee Badger’s Southern Fried Dragon. Don’t that name just say it all?


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 22, 2012

The Bride and The Brute by Laurel O’Donnell

Filed under: book review,romance — Tara Neale @ 2:08 pm
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Title: The Bride and the Brute

Author: Laurel O’Donnell

Source: Amazon, AllRomance

Price: FREE Read from Amazon

Heat: Sweet and innocent until the end

Rating: Tantalizingly teasing

Genre: Historical (Medieval)

One of the best things about this brave new world of self-publishing is the number of quality FREE books available to readers. That’s how I discovered this week’s feature author. I admit it is how I find most of my favorite authors.

Back in the day, before the Internet (yes, I am THAT old), I would visit used bookstores. I would sit by the racks, if a book’s cover caught my eye I would read the blurb on the back or inside cover, then perhaps a few pages to see if it was worth the money. Sometimes I would spend hours in the store to come out with only a half a dozen or so books.

I much prefer this brave new world in which we live. Now in the privacy of my home without the need to have someone watch my young daughter, I simply log into Amazon or AllRomance. I still read the blurbs on dozens and dozens of books, but these days I tend to ignore the covers. But what gets me every time is the price. If I can pick up a book for ninety-nine cents or less, then I am likely to buy it (if the blurb is decent). My line of thought is…what the heck, it’s only ninety-nine cents and I’m supporting an indie author. But when the price is FREE, I rarely turn away…and I have gotten some really nice surprises that way.

The Bride and the Brute by Laurel O’Donnell is one of those surprises. Admittedly, I have never been into historicals that much…and sweet has not been my thing since I was a teenager. So without that magic…what the heck…I might have missed this delightful interlude of a novella and not discovered a truly noteworthy indie historical writer.

Set in Medieval England, this story is about an arranged marriage with some interesting twists. A hero haunted by his parents’ disastrous arranged marriage. Reese Harrington has sworn to never marry without true love. Jayce Cullen is the sheltered only child of a neighboring lord who is equal parts timid, innocent maiden and spirited, mouthy young woman. Mix in a dying father determined to see his only child safely wed and a meddling sister, who wants only her brother’s happiness. The result is disastrous and at times comical collision of wills.

Like I admitted neither the genre nor the heat level would place this novella at the top of my to-read list. Yet I found myself engrossed for a couple of hours (this is a short novella after all) in this intriguing story of mixed-up plans, meddling relatives and two strong people who find love and happiness despite themselves. Ms. O’Donnell’s strength lies in developing believable and engaging characters, including an array of secondary ones who help the story along and make you laugh.

One of the things I loved best was that unlike too many historical romances I have read (from top publishers) she did not bog the reader down with description. Yes, she gave enough details in terms of clothing, living arrangements and setting for you to know that you were not in Kansas, Toto. But not the long winded ones where you threw up your hands and moaned…do I really care about her dress?

The one thing I was not too hyped about was the love scenes, but as I said earlier I outgrew sweet a long time ago. This is one of the few works that I have read in a long time that used the word…manhood. It took me back to another lifetime almost to see that word.

So if you do enjoy historical romance and especially if you are into less graphic/sexual character driven romances then I think you will fall in love with Laurel O’Donnell. Even if you don’t, like me, you may find this book an enjoyable read for a light change. It is definitely worth the cost of admission…and her longer works are also reasonably priced at around two to three dollars each. Ms. O’Donnell is definitely one of the stars of this brave new world of self-publishing.

Next week I visit another unusual family Bella Andre’s The Sullivan’s, a quirky contemporary family with six HOT brothers and twin baby sisters.

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