Wednesday, September 30, 2009

10 Questions with Leslie Dicken, Author of Beauty Tempts the Beast & A Giveaway!

Today Cheeky Reads welcomes Leslie Dicken, the author of Beauty Tempts the Beast!

I read Beauty Tempts the Beast in one sitting and really loved it. In fact, when I went to draft the questions for this interview I found myself completely re-reading the story - less than a month later! If you are a historical romance fan I cannot recommend this book enough. On the Cheeky Reads scale I give it a 4 Heart Review - It really is a fantastic read!

Welcome Leslie!

Let's start by having you tell us a little about Beauty Tempts the Beast. I've always loved the gothic novels, especially when there was romance involved. Wuthering Heights had a huge impact on me with regards to setting, dark heroes, and thwarted love. Beauty Tempts the Beast is about a man who has hidden himself from the world. He not only wants to keep his son hidden, but also is afraid he truly is the monster he is rumored to be. The heroine is running from true evil and believes marrying a man who keeps himself isolated is the perfect answer. But what they both learn is that just living is not the same as being alive.

You have created a story chock-full of awesomeness! There's Ashworth's scar and mysterious past, Vivian's flight from an abusive man, a secret child, blackmail, and a mysterious monster to name just a few of the twists and turns in this story. How did you keep it all straight while writing? Ha. I'd love to say I had notebooks filled with scribbling of every twist and turn. But the truth is, I just wrote. I'd go back and reread and reread and reread to make sure I was following through on subplots and characters. And it always helps to have an extra pair of eyes (or several) read it before it gets published!

A sucker for the disfigured hero with a dark past, I was instantly drawn to Ashworth. What inspired you to create him and what three words would you use to describe him? He was created (and the book itself) when I issued a writing challenge to an online loop. I said to use the words "I do not take kindly to strangers" in a scene. Thus, my first scene was written and Ashworth came to life. What would make a man say something like that? He is: tortured, protective, and sexy. ;-)

For all my talk of Ashworth, Vivian is no shrinking violet! Describe your heroine in three words. She is: passionate, determined, and kind.

Silverstone Manor itself becomes a character in this story. Is there a particular place you based it on? No, other than various images of windswept moors and hilltop manors. But, as I've said, I love gothics and the fact that the setting becomes a character. All of this story came so easy to me...as if it was meant to be written!

What was your favorite scene to write? Wow, that's a hard one. I think it's the bathtub scene in the beginning of the book. It was such a turning point for both of them.

What do you love most about writing historical romances? I love that the characters are more limited by custom, morals, and values. Their motivation step outside these confines must be very strong, which can make for powerful characters. Of course, I love the dresses and balls and carriage rides too.

How would you describe your writing process? I used to be much more disciplined about it. When writing Beauty Tempts the Beast, I wrote almost every night from 8:30 to 11:00. Now that kids are older and stay up later, I try to squeeze in writing before 11:00 or during lunch breaks or on weekends.

I am mostly a pantser, but I can't go solely on my Muse. So I do brief plotting and character development and research before writing, then just dive in. After the initial flush of getting down what's in my head, I stop and regroup and replot again. If I'm lucky, the book will actually get finished. ;-)

What are you currently reading and are there any books you would recommend? Authors always have the best recommendations! I'm reading the new series by Tessa Dare. I've only read the first book so far, Goddess of the Hunt, and so loved it. She has such great talent. I'm also excited for Courtney Milan's debut book. Some of my other historical favorite authors are Jennifer St. Giles, Sally MacKenzie, and Eve Silver. There are many, many more, but can't name them all!

What are you working on now? Please let us know any news or cool stuff you have coming up! I'm working on a Victorian steampunk murder-mystery (think Jack the Ripper but with cool flying machines). My hero is a mysterious inventor who disappears each night until dawn and my heroine becomes an amateur sleuth to find her cousin's killer.

Thanks Leslie! You can find out more about Leslie at her website, or purchase Beauty Tempts the Beast by clicking here.

Leslie has graciously offered to giveaway a copy of Beauty Tempts the Beast to a lucky reader! Leave a comment here telling us if you love a tormented hero, or with a question for Leslie, and you'll be entered to win an eBook copy of Beauty Tempts the Beast! I'll announce the winner tomorrow - Oct. 1st.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Book Review: Mischief in Mudbug By Jana DeLeon



Book Review: Mischief in Mudbug
(A Ghost-In-Law Mystery Romance)
By: Jana DeLeon
Love Spell – Dorchester Publishing
3 Heart Review

Everyone in Mudbug, Louisiana, knows that when Helena Henry shows up, no good will come of it. Especially now that Helena is dead. And more meddlesome than ever.

Sabine LeVeche needs to locate a blood relative fast – her life depends on it. Her only ally is the smart-mouthed ghost of Helena Henry. Until Beau Villeneuve agrees to take the case. The super-sexy PI is a master at finding missing persons – and all the spots that made Sabine weak in the knees. But as they start to uncover the truth about the past, it becomes clear that someone out there wants to bury Sabine along with all her parent's secrets. And she realizes what they say is true: family really can be the death of you.

This is one romantic mystery that really kept me guessing until the end. There were some many twists and reveals that you won't absolutely know the villain until the end. Surprises abound and the book makes for a fun and delightful romp through the bayou!

One thing I really liked was how spunky Sabine was. She was trained in marshal arts even if she isn't some kick-ass assassin or bodyguard. Love that! I also really liked Mildred as the mother figure and of course, the ghost Helena. The history of the characters makes for a charming set-up and all the characters were original and engaging.

A trend I love and that is found in this book is the tweaking of a traditional cozy mystery into something new and sassier. The heroines are more modern and they are sexual! It's great to see a more contemporary feel finally find cozies. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE cozies. But, I love my amateur sleuth and comedic hi-jinks with a little steam and sauciness! I refer to them as modern cozies, but I think the time has come for an official industry name for this new breed.

My only issue with this book was that I did have some trouble with the names. They might be authentic, but not being able to easily read names makes it harder to identify with a character. It kept me from being totally immersed in the story. I felt like I had to stop and try to pronounce the names or to get straight which character it was. Not a good way to keep the reading flowing.

Note to authors: It's okay to use regular names. We don't care if they are common. If your story is good and the name fits the character's personality we won't care that the heroine’s name is Sarah. Not every character in every story has to have a unique name!

If you are better at the names in this book than I was then you won’t have any issues with this book! If you love cozies with sass, this is a story for you. Be sure to check out the first book in the series,Trouble in Mudbug! (Although each book stands perfectly well on its' own, you'll want to follow the antics of these characters!)

Local Romance Author Signing: Where Cheeky Girl Sabrina Dorks Out!


Recently, I discovered a lovely little local bookstore that sells new and used books and even does paperback trades for store credit! Not only does the store have a fantastic selection of books, but it felt cozy and nice to be in a store that really loves books. B and L Books held a customer appreciation day this past Sat. and it included a 7 local authors signing their latest releases. Of course I had to go!

There were door prizes, refreshments and loads of fun, but the authors themselves were a blast. As I walked around the shop, I could hear them giggling and cracking jokes amongst themselves in-between customers. So cute!

The authors at the singing included Roxanne St. Claire, Julie Leto, Kathy Carmichael, Elissa Wilds, Loretta C. Rogers, Susan Kearney and Wendi Darlin. What a fantastic group and I can't believe they are all local to Central Florida!

I was able to spend some time with the three lovely ladies pictured above from Left to Right - Kathy Carmichael, Susan Kearney and Elissa Wilds. All three have fabulous sounding books that I can't wait to read. I'm still learning to use my iPhone camera, so sorry for the slightly blurred action!

Here's the crazy part - I was in total fan girl mode - I dorked out quite a bit and didn't even introduce myself as a blogger for Cheeky Reads! I especially made a fool of myself taking Roxanne's photo - so much so that I couldn't bring myself to say hello! I have no idea why my inner 6 year old geeky self had to appear at this event, but she did. :)

Hopefully I'll learn a better poker face for the next time I meet one of my favorite authors in person. Boy, you would think I could at least appear slightly professional! LOL - next time I'm gonna play it calm, cool and collected. Yeah right!

Making It Through Monday: Your Wake Up LOL

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Can't you just picture a whole herd of cats flying around instead of the monkeys in the Wizard of Oz? I'm so happy it's fall and the weather is cooling off. It's my favorite time of year and puts me in a great mood. This little guy just got my Monday off to a good start!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Poll: What Color Hair Do You Prefer On Your Heros?

Book Review: Start Me Up by Victoria Dahl



Book Review: Start Me Up
By: Victoria Dahl
HQN Books
5 Heart Review

Lori Love is yearning for something more

Lori had always planned to get out of tiny Tumble Creek, Colorado, but when her late dad left her his beloved auto body shop, she'd stayed. Now, according to her crazy best friend, Molly, what Lori needs is some excitement, in the form of hot, no-strings-attached sex...and lots of it.

Quinn Jennings has buildings on the brain – not love and romance. A serious architect, he's delighted to discover that Lori is willing to skip dating protocols and head straight for the sheets. And aided by the steamy books on Lori's bedside table, he's busy indulging both of their wildest fantasies. But when life in Tumble Creek takes a dangerous turn for Lori, Quinn's protective instincts kick in.

Suddenly he cares. More than either of them expected...

Ok, here's my review in a nutshell: BUY THIS BOOK! Then, buy Victoria's entire backlist and be first in line for every new release.

I'm beyond excited to have read my first book by Victoria! She's a fantastic writer who combines quick whit, strong female characters, sexy as hell love scenes, and an overall interesting plot into a fantastic read. Authors like Victoria are why I love to read and why I created Cheeky Reads in the first place. She gets readers like me and what we want. It's like she read my mind before writing Start Me Up!

Many Authors talk of writing the book of their heart, but I'd like to suggest that there is also the book of the reader's heart. Start Me Up might not seem like a contender since it's not weepy, dramatic chick-lit, but it’s very, very close to being my perfect book.

Maybe it's because I identify completely with Lori. Seriously, I think I AM Lori. From living in a small town and the desire to escape that town and travel the world, to being the caretaker of a handicapped parent and dealing with their passing, I am very like Lori. The list goes on and on as to how much of myself I saw in Lori. Oh, how I hope I can live up to Lori's wit and um...well we won't discuss the “other” side of Lori I'll never be able to live up to!

Victoria's books are the epitome of Cheeky Reads and she deserves her own special designation. I formally announce that Victoria Dahl will be known forever more here at Cheeky Reads as “Cheeky V!”

Long may Cheeky V write!

(TIP: Victoria released a new historical romance recently titled One Week As Lovers. So...Umm...maybe you should...you know...check that out!)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday Round-Up: Random Romance News You Can Use

There are lots of exciting things going on in romance land lately so I thought I would do a round-up post today.

First off, I'm excited to be counting down the days to the release of Heir of the Dog by Judi McCoy on October 6th! I reviewed the first book in Judi's Dog Walker Mysteries series, Hounding the Pavement, and loved it so much I gave it a 5 Heart Review. Judi herself says that the second book is even better, to which all I can say is hurry up Oct. 6th! You can read my review of Hounding the Pavement here.

If you are on twitter there is a great new hash tag you need to know and follow - #romrev. Started by Sue Grimshaw, the romance buyer for Borders, it will be used to help tag review links posted in twitter. What a great idea!

A while back I wrote a post about the new Lifetime show Drop Dead Diva - if you aren't watching it you are missing out! It's getting better every show and the lead actress is amazing! Today I found this super cute video about Guardian Angel Fred's Romance Rules.

I've added a new feature to the blog - check out the upper right hand side bar and you'll see a list of upcoming guest authors and dates for when I'll be guest blogging at some fantastic sites. I'll be updating this all the time so keep an eye on it. HINT - I'll even be teasing upcoming contests!

For those of you who love a good giveaway - and who doesn't - the fabulous blogger at Book Binge is hosting daily giveaways all month. These are fantastic giveaways with cool bags and great selections of books. Check out today's giveaway and see for yourself!

Whew - enough updates for now. Be back with some reviews soon! Happy Reading!



Monday, September 21, 2009

BBAW Giveaway Winners!

So I decided that Book Blogger Appreciation Week was so good, that I should giveaway two prize packs! Using Random.org, the winners of 4+ books in their selected genres are posts:

#9 Kaye and #37 Bella

Kaye and Bella - I'll email you about your prize! Congrats and Happy Reading!

Welcome to our new followers and I hope you join in the discussion here at Cheeky Reads!

Book Review: Vicious Circle By: Linda Robertson



'>Book Review: Vicious Circle
By: Linda Robertson
Juno - Pocket Books
3 Heart Review

A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...

Being a witch doesn't pay the bills, but Persephone Alcamedi gets by between reading Tarot Cards, writing her syndicated newspaper column, and kenneling werewolves in the basement when the moon is full – even if witches aren't supposed to mingle with wolves. She really reaches the end of leash, though, when her grandmother gets kicked out of the nursing home and Steph finds herself in the doghouse about some things she's written. Then her werewolf friend Lorrie is murdered...and the high priestess of an important coven offers Steph big money to destroy the killer, a powerful vampire named Goliath Kline. Steph is a tough girl, but this time she bites off more than she can chew. She needs a little help form her friends – werewolf friends. One of those friends, Johnny, the motorcycle-riding lead singer for a techno-metal-Goth band Lycanthropia, has a crush on her. And while Steph has always been on edge around this 6'2 leather-clad hunk, she's starting to realize that although their attraction may be dangerous, nothing could be as lethal as the showdown that awaits them.

I slipped very easily into reading Vicious Circle. The heroine Persephone is an intriguing character and I wanted to find out more about her even after the first few pages.

This book seemed very familiar to me and this was good and bad. On the bad side, I felt that many parts of Linda’s world mirrored Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series and Persephone reminded me of Rachel very much. Likewise, Master Vamp Menessos made me think of Laurel K. Hamilton’s Jean-Claude as there was sexual tension mixed with the dangerous control Menessos can have over Persephone.

It’s only because I have read these other series that I was so easily reminded of them, but I think it speaks well that I would compare the writing to these two talented authors.

On the good side, Robertson’s world and writing are indeed very good. Even though parts of the book were familiar, this also added to my being able to fully engross myself in the story. Johnny is a great love interest and the foreshadowing of him being more than just any shape shifter added to my enjoyment of the story and makes me look forward to more in this series.

Vicious Circle feed my craving for an urban fantasy with a heroine I genuinely liked, and a hero who didn’t immediately have the heroine in the palm of his hand. I loved that Steph wasn't immediately attracted to Johnny and that he isn’t your typical looking hero. The interesting twist that in this world werewolves and witches aren't exactly friendly does make this world stand apart from many of the other Urban Fantasies I've read. I expect these things to add layers to the series as it moves forward.

A good read with an interesting world and cast of characters, I'll be looking for the next in this series.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Book Blogger Appreciation Week: Cheeky Reads Goals For The Future


As Book Blogger Appreciation Week draws to a close, today's blog topic is to discuss what we like most about our blogs currently and the goals we want to set for the future.

Cheeky Reads is only about half a year old, and I'm been so happy to see how its evolving. Although I know I'm still finding my voice, I'm proud that the reviews I post are getting stronger and I'm sticking to my idea of writing them like a conversation with friends.

I'm happy to be the book blogger who doesn't give away plot points and spoilers. I don't want to be the serious critical reviewer - I think there are so many high profile bloggers out there who already do this exceptionally well. What I wanted was a place to discuss the books I read and to give others the chance to join in. So far, I think Cheeky Reads is living up to my hopes.

For the future, I would really like to see the blog move forward technically. I'm basically teaching myself html as I go, but I would LOVE to see real sections and pages to Cheeky Reads. I'd love to spiff up the entire blog with sharper graphics.

I think I'm doing a much better job of posting regularly, but my goal is to post at least one review a day because at the end of day after all the fun freebies and downloads, this is a romance book review blog. That's not to say I don't love the giveaways! They are the best part!

Beyond more book reviews, better navigation and graphics and finding my voice, my goal is to grow my followers and traffic to the site. Because it's much more fun to write a blog if you have people that will comment! I don't write Cheeky Reads just to review what I thought, I write to create a discussion with my fellow Cheeky Readers!
Help me out - let me know what you like about Cheeky Reads, and what you think about my goals for the blog in the future! Feel free to let me know if you don't like something too. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

In Honor of Book Blogger Appreciation Week: A GIVEAWAY!


This has been my first Book Blogger Appreciation Week and I've had a fantastic time! So, what better way to celebrate than to do a giveaway!

What can you win? How about at least 4 books from my prize shelf based on the genres you prefer! Leave me a comment letting me know what romance genres and authors you like best, and you're entered to win!

Sorry, this contest is open to the U.S. only but check back soon because I hope to open all of my contests to worldwide shipping soon.

Good Luck and Happy Reading!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BBAW Reading Meme


For our third day celebrating Book Blogger Appreciation Week, we are supposed to participate in a Reading Meme. I'm supposed to answer the following questions as succinctly as possible. So here goes!

Do you snack while you read? Nope.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? Skin crawls thinking about it!

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?Laying the book flat open? Past = Dog-ears. Present = Bookmark. Future = flat (eReader)

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both? Both.

Hard copy or audiobooks? Both - Love Audiobooks.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point? Any Point.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? Nope.

What are you currently reading? Sweet Seduction by Maya Banks

What is the last book you bought? Can't Stand the Heat by Louisa Edwards

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time? One at a time please.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read? Anytime, Anywhere, Anyhow.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books? No preference - just good writing!

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over? Victoria Dahl = pitch perfect for me.

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?) Review books by month reviews to post. Keeper books by author.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Book Blogger Appreciation Week: 10 Questions with Blogger Swapna from S. Krishna's Books


Book Blogger Appreciation Week is in full swing and one of the wonderful events this year is a book blogger interview swap. Today, I'm hosting an interview with Swapna from S. Krishna's Books and she is featuring an interview with yours truly.

Swapna was up for two BBAW awards - Best Cultural Review Blog and Best Reviews! Welcome Swapna!

1) If you had to pick just one favorite book, what would it be and why?

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I got out of the habit of reading while I was in college, but my last year I happened to pick up The Shadow of the Wind and went ahead and read it. It's the book that got me back into reading, and I still think it's an amazing read.
2) What character do you most identify with?

Emily in The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum. I understood her fears and absolutely loved the novel as a whole.

3) If someone wrote a biography of you, what would the title be?

A Life Lived in Books

4) Book covers: illustrated or photo?

Photo, definitely. While I don't mind illustrated covers, I find that the ones that attract me most are photo covers.

5) If you were a book, what genre would you be?

Gothic mystery, with a dash of romance thrown in! I'd love to think that I'd be like a book from Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey series - mysterious and fun!

6) Hardcover, trade paperback or mass market paperback?

Trade paperback.

7) A book you recommend to anyone and everyone, and they always love it?

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. That's one that I literally force on people. Not every single person has liked it, but the vast majority that I recommend it to do!

8) If you could have dinner with one living author, which author would it be? Why?

Neil deGrasse Tyson - I have a bit of a nerd crush on him.

9) Why did you decide to start your blog?

I read so much that I found I was forgetting what I had read previously. I'd pick up a book at the bookstore or the library, get it home and start reading it and discover that it was very familiar - because I had read it before! I was already reading and loving book blogs at that point, so I decided I'd start my own in order to keep track of the books I read.

10) What book did you read as a kid that stayed with you or made you really love reading?

The Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper. I absolutely love these books, I still re-read them now. Even as an adult, every time I read them, I discover something new. Though they are a bit dated, they really are timeless - I can't recommend these highly enough. The mix of fantasy and King Arthur mythology is excellent.

Be sure to visit Swapna's blog!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Winner Chosen: 1st Two Books of Darcy Saga

Using Random.org, The winner of the first two books in The Darcy Saga - Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Loving Mr. Darcy is commenter #1:

Booklover1335

Congrats! Please send me your snail mail information to cheekyreads @ gmail.com (no spaces).

Happy Reading and thanks to all who entered!

Book Blogger Appreciation Week: Blogs That Inspire Me


I'm so excited to participate in Book Blogger Appreciation Week this year because there are some truly fabulous bloggers out there sharing their experiences with reading books so I don't have to go out and spend money on a stinker of a read! What's more, many of these bloggers give freely of their time and do this service just for the fun and community of it. That's why I decided to start Cheeky Reads, to have a place to talk to other book lovers about the books that I read.

Today I wanted to mention a few of the book blogs that I love to visit and hope that you'll take the time to check them out!

My two biggies are the heavy hitters of the book blogging world. If you aren't reading Smart Bitches Trashy Books or Dear Author then you are seriously missing out! Each with a distinctive voice and a knowledge of the industry unmatched by other bloggers, they set the standard for book bloggers.

I'm a huge fan of author Heather Long's Book Blog about Fantasy & Romance called The Daily Dose. Every post is intriguing and easily pulls you in for discussion. If you're a Fantasy & Romance fan you should check it out.

Book Junkie is also a great book review site. I like that she tends to focus on small press books and her reviews are heartfelt and read like a friend talking to a friend - exactly what I try to do with my reviews.

I adore Royal Reviews! The ladies there know how to do great spotlight weeks and giveaways. Plus, their reviews are detailed and spot on.

There are so many other book blogs I want to rave about, but I could go on forever so I'll just say make sure you also check out Heather's Reading Romance and Leontine's Book Realm.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Romance Book Review: Broken Wing By Judith James

Romance Book Review:Broken Wing
By: Judith James
Medallion Press
4 Heart Review

Abandoned as a child and raised in a brothel, Gabriel St. Croix has never known tenderness, friendship, or affection. Although fluent in sex, he knows nothing of love. Lost and alone inside a nightmare world, all he's ever wanted is companionship and a place to belong. Hiding physical and emotional scars behind an icy facade, his only relationship is with a young boy he has spent the last five years protecting from the brutal reality of their environment. But all is about to change. The boy's family has found him, and they are coming to take him home.

Sarah Munroe blames herself for her brother's disappearance. When he's located, safe and unharmed despite where he has been living, Sarah vows to help the man who rescued and protected him in any way she can. With loving patience she helps Gabriel face his demons and teaches him to trust in friendship and love. But when the past catches up with him, Gabriel must face it on his own.

Becoming a mercenary pirate and a professional gambler, Gabriel travels to London, France, and the Barbary Coast in a desperate attempt to find Sarah again and all he knows of love. On the way, however, he will discover the most dangerous journey, and the greatest gamble of all, is within the darkest reaches of his heart.
This is an EPIC story! Not for the faint of heart, don't read this book if you are looking for a lighthearted romance. This story is gritty, dark and in your face and perfect for you if you want a romance full of emotion, angst and forgiveness.

Gabriel is most definitely a broken man coming from dire circumstances and readers will need to be open minded to warm up to this dark hero. It would have been very easy for Mrs. James to make Gabriel's path to love and redemption all roses and wine, but instead she made his romance with Sarah an epic journey on the path of his self-forgiveness.

Sarah could easily have expected Gabriel to forget his past and move forward with her, but again Mrs. James demonstrates excellent story-telling ability in showing Sarah's awareness, disgust, understanding and acceptance. It's through Sarah's reactions to Gabriel and his past, that Gabriel is able to understand what love really means.

A beautiful, but heavy, love story this book was completely unlike any other book I've read in years. If you want something bold and different this is for you. Just know that the subject matter might not be for everyone but it is handled perfectly and is essential to understanding Gabriel and celebrating his happy ending.

Broken Wing is Mrs. James' first novel and I'm excited to say her second book, Highland Rebel, is now available from Sourcebooks. Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Romance Book Review: TORTURED By Amanda McIntyre

Romance Book Review: TORTURED
By Amanda McIntyre
Harlequin Spice
4 Heart Review

In a time of chaos, darkness, and violence it is better to live only in the moment, lest your memories eat you alive.

A young woman blessed with “sight seeks vengeance against a tyrannical lord responsible for her mother's murder. Forced to become an executioner's apprentice, she encounters a Roman prisoner who offers her a away to escape her prison and find a future. Torn between desire, duty, and the chance for revenge, her choice to live or die leaves her TORTURED.
First of all, check out that cover! If anyone has ever wondered if covers can sell a book, the answer can be found just looking at Amanda McIntyre's books. As soon as I saw the Diary of Cozette cover, I had to buy it. Had no idea what the book was about, but my mind was made up and to this day I still think that is my favorite cover of all time.

That doesn't make the cover of TORTURED any slouch, it's another winner and perfectly captures the time period and the passion of this book. The Harlequin Spice cover gods are definitely smiling on Amanda since I've seen the sneak peak at her next book, and wowsa! Click here to take a gander at the next cover.

One thing I love about Amanda's historicals, are that they always feature a time period not normally given much notice. TORTURED takes place in the Dark Ages of Briton around 500 A.D.

Another thing I love? Amanda's unconventional heroines. The heroine of Tortured is Sierra, a young girl who will eventually become the Saxon King's Head Executioner. Didn't know women served as executioners? Well they did, and Amanda loves turning this kind of unknown information into a story of passion and love.

Dryston and Sierra's story is both unconventional in its beginnings and lovely in its growth. Inside Dryston beats the heart of a warrior and that of a man who can love deeply. I enjoyed the interchanges between the two as Dryston strove to change Sierra's view of sex as a act of manipulation. A guide to help her rediscover how to live and love, Dryston was a hero through and through.

This is a very passionate and intense book that I easily became engrossed in. If you like your historicals with some real meat to the story and some intense heat, then you'll really enjoy this book.

As many of you know from reading this blog, I do my best to give my honest opinion of books while leaving as much of the story for you to discover as possible. Not only am I seriously against spoilers, but I don't like giving away plot points either. But, I have to say this – the ending to TORTURED was one I found very satisfying. The climax surprises in that it's not typical of romances and for that I literally cheered out loud. I've been waiting to find a book that would go there, and leave it to Amanda to write it!

Visit Amanda's website for information on TORTURED and her other Harlequin Spice releases. Also check out her blog called McIntyre's House of Muse.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Winners of The Harlequin Presents Giveaway

Our giveaway winners for a copy of Lynee Graham's The Italian's Inexperienced Mistress are:

Throughthehaze
Mari
Brenda
Etirv

Email your snail mail address to cheekyreads @ gmail.com (no spaces) and I'll get your book in the mail to you! Congrats and happy reading!

A Vocabulary Lesson with Guest Author Sharon Lathan

Today I'm pleased to introduce our guest blogger Sharon Lathan, author of Loving Mr. Darcy. Recently released, Loving Mr. Darcy is the second in her trilogy of Pride and Prejudice sequels called The Darcy Saga.

I love Sharon's topic today - a vocabulary lesson that will help you get even more out of the historicals you read, like Loving Mr. Darcy. Welcome Sharon!

A Vocabulary Lesson

Writing in an era some 200 years ago is a daunting task. Add to that the chore of tackling Jane Austen and it teeters on the brink of insanity! I haven’t decided yet whether I am crazy or brazen, but whatever the opinion, it is a very good thing that I am a lover of history and vocabulary. The research necessary to plausibly present a past world is tremendous. Writing in a style that is one’s own voice while also paying tribute to the original author is precarious. Using vocabulary that conveys a forgotten way of speaking while utilizing the language a modern reader will understand is rough.

Yet, as I said, I love history and I love vocabulary. I told a friend recently that I was a thesaurus addict! I absolutely love searching for new words to use and actually start to shake when I stumble across a new one. I have formed whole paragraphs around some really cool word, just because I have to use it! I try not to be overly obscure as I want my readers to enjoy the story and not falter when encountering a bizarre word. On the other hand, broadening ones vocabulary is a worthy endeavor and pausing to flip through the dusty dictionary is time well spent. Yes?

From time to time on my website I post an entry called “Vocabulary Rocks!” I share the origins and definitions of some of the cool words I unearth. I am going to share a few of my favs.

D├ęcolletage – Often this word is used in such a way that one thinks it means the actual cleavage visible. In reality, d├ęcolletage is referring to the fabric neckline of the gown itself, but is only applied to a gown that is very low cut so that the shoulders and upper breasts are exposed.

Chatelaine -A set of useful items hung at the waist with a decorative chain. Commonly associated with the housekeeper who kept the keys to the Manor on her person at all times. A chatelaine was also worn by fashionable ladies and would secure a watch, sewing or writing implements, small coin purses, keys, scissors, etc.

Harridan - A bad-tempered, disreputable old woman. Probably from the French word haridelle meaning a worn-out horse. I used this word to describe Lady Catherine de Bourgh! Fits, don’t you think?

Inexpressibles – This one cracks me up! We would say ‘pants’ but that term was considered vulgar! So instead, this was the general, polite word for all the various types of male garments worn over the lower half of their bodies.

Accoutrements - The additional accessories, paraphernalia, and trimmings that are not a main part of the garment. For the Regency man and woman the accoutrements were as important as the suit or gown. Hats, gloves, walking sticks, pocket watches, jewelry, scarves, and so on.

Halcyon – It means calm, tranquil, happy, carefree, and prosperous. What is interesting is the origin: The fourteen days of calm weather at the winter solstice when a mythical bird, identified with the kingfisher, was said to breed in a nest floating on calm seas. Identified in mythology with Halcyone, daughter of Aeolus, the ruler of the winds, who when widowed upon her husband, Ceyx the king of Thessaly, drowning at sea, threw herself into the sea and became a kingfisher, flying to be with her husband. OK, you have to admit that is cool!

Braggadocio –Vain, swaggering, pretentious bragging attitude or person. After Braggadocchio, the boastful character in Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene (1590)

Insipid and Vapid – I love both of these words! They sound exactly like they mean, that is to be without any distinctive or interesting qualities, dull and bland, no liveliness of spirit or zest for life.

Urbane – I love this word because it perfectly describes Mr. Darcy to me. Having the polish, elegance, sophistication, and suave refinement that comes from wide social experience. Oh yeah, that’s my hero!

Well, I could go on indefinitely, but I shan’t! I hope you have enjoyed my mini-English lesson. I have an extensive glossary of Regency places and terms on my website if this essay piqued your interest for more. And I hope you will dash over to my website to read about my sequel to Pride & Prejudice: The Darcy Saga by Sharon Lathan at http://www.darcysaga.net/ The first two novels are already available to purchase! And I promise you will learn some new words to dazzle your friends. Share with us some of your favorite words, especially if they are unusual.

About the Author

Sharon Lathan is a native Californian currently residing amid corn, cotton, and cows in the sunny city of Hanford. She divides her time as homemaker nurturing a husband and two children, plus the cat, dog, and fish; while also working as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal ICU. Somewhere in there she finds time to write! Sharon Lathan can be found on her website/blog at: http://www.darcysaga.net/, on Facebook as “Sharon Lathan, “ on Twitter as “@SharonLathan,” and on the Casablanca Authors’ blog at: http://casablancaauthors.blogspot.com/

We have a fantastic prize to giveaway to celebrate Sharon's latest release. One lucky reader will win one copy of the first two books in The Darcy Saga - Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Loving Mr. Darcy! Just comment and tell us some of your favorite words of past or present and you're entered to win!

Sorry, this giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents only. Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tease Me Tuesday: Author Sharon Lathan Guest Blogging Tomorrow!

I hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend! I traveled to Rhode Island with my hubby to celebrate his grandparents 60th wedding anniversary. There was a slide show that was amazing to see all the things they had shared in their lives together. So fabulous!

Now, for our first tease of the day I'm reminding you that tomorrow author Sharon Lathan will be guest blogging here at Cheeky Reads and celebrating the release of her new book Loving Mr. Darcy.

To make it a real celebration, we'll be giving away of the first two books in her series Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Loving Mr. Darcy. Be sure to stop by and enter to win!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Harlequin Happenings: A Smart Bitch Review and Presents Giveaway!

As one of the Test Drivers of a Sony Reader for Smart Bitches Trashy Books, I also received a gift certificate from Harlequin for eBooks with the agreement that I would review one for SBTB. Of course this was no problem...you say free Harlequins and I say where do you want the review sent!

Yesterday, Smart Bitches featured my review of Make Me Yours by Betina Krahn. If you didn't already, head over and check it out and let me know what you think. Here's the link.

In other Harlequin news, I received 4 copies of Lynne Graham's The Italian's Inexperienced Mistress, a Harlequin Presents title, to give away to some lucky readers!

How to win? Just leave me a comment telling me if you have a favorite Harlequin line, author or book on this post (we love recommendations!), or comment on any post from this week. Every comment enters to win, but please only one comment per post. I'll randomly select comments to win on Tuesday Sept. 8th. Good Luck and Happy Reading!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stolen Moments & Short Affairs: Welcome Guest Author Heather Long

Cheeky Reads welcomes Author Heather Long to the blog today! I met Heather on Twitter and then had the pleasure of reading her novella Remembering Ashby. I'll be reviewing it here soon, but the gist is that it's a beautifully told story and I highly recommend it!

Heather has a new book releasing soon titled Prime Evil, but in the meantime she is offering a FREE download of a short story titled It Happens that's a great introduction to her heroine Chance Monroe. I had fun with this introduction to Chance and now I can't wait to read Prime Evil! If you love earth witch stories you will really want to check these out!
In addition to writing wonderful novellas and short stories, Heather has a fantastic blog called The Daily Dose, which talks daily about Fantasy and Romance. Heather's blog posts are always interesting and entertaining so you should be sure to stop by!
Without further ado, welcome Heather!
Stolen Moments and Short Affairs
I have a confession to make; I love to indulge in short affairs rather frequently. That doesn’t mean I am opposed to longer term relationships, but those short affairs, one night stands, afternoon quickies, those short, brief passionate moments stolen away from everyone and everything else. Yes, I have a problem and that problem is the short story.

Passion for Short Stories
My passion for short stories began as a child. My grandmother used to read to me from her Harlequin romance novels because she didn’t like to read children’s books. I loved the stories, particularly when they were funny or adventurous. When I was five, she gave me a book of Aesop’s Fables. I devoured it. You know Aesop’s Fables right? The Boy Who Cried Wolf? The Dog in the Manger? The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs? The Tortoise and the Hare?

Of course those classics captured my imagination. Short, pithy stories filled with entertainment and a moral. Those were soon followed by books on Greek mythology and collections of tales from mythology with everything from Zeus becoming a Bull to the tales of Hercules. It wasn’t long before I was seeing Encyclopedia Brown and the Two Minute Mysteries.

Is it any wonder that I reached for Cats Fantastic? Horse Fantastic? Villains Victorious? And so many more that drew me in and I couldn’t help but read? I used to think the attraction was the swift read of short story books. I could satisfy my fiction needs in fast, furious bursts of goodness, but not get so sucked into a novel.

The Star
The best short story I ever read was called The Star by Arthur C. Clarke. In the story, deep space explorers are on their way home from a far away star system. During their journey, they found the archaeological remains of an advanced civilization that was ended when their star went super nova. The mission’s lead astrophysicist is deeply troubled by something from their journey. Throughout the story, we learn different things about the destroyed culture.

The planet and its people seemed very Earth-like in nature. The people knew well in advance that their star would explode. They didn’t have the interstellar capabilities to save themselves so they built a large time capsule on a planet with a distant orbit, where it would be safe from the supernova. They stored complete records of their culture, their society, achievements and everything they could to keep the memory of their exceptionally peaceful and advanced civilization alive in memory.

All of the explorers were deeply moved by the vault, especially the Jesuit priest. At the very end of the story, the Jesuit reveals what he has figured out. The exact Earth year that light from the supernova would have reached Earth equates with the year that Christ was born. That civilization was destroyed so that the wise men would know to journey to the Christ child. To this day, that story gives me total chills.

Writing, Reading, Loving Short Fiction
This love affair with short fiction continued into adulthood. While I was not necessarily a fan of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer book series, I adored the Tales of the Slayers, the short fiction collection books. I love short fiction because you get to meet lots of different writers. More recently, I’ve read short story collections like Mean Streets, Suite 606, Strange Brew and so many more than I can name.

As a writer myself, I appreciate the opportunities that short fiction provides to readers. Remembering Ashby is a novella, a short novel just under 30,000 words. I wrote two short stories, one that follows up RA called Forget to Remember and another called It Happens. The first is a follow-up to RA while the second introduces a new series that will be coming out this fall from Sapphire Blue Publishing.
Short stories can give you a window of opportunity into the body of an author’s work. I discovered Jim Butcher in a short story, I discovered Tom Sniegoski in a short story. I discovered Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison, J.D. Robb, Simon R, Green, Rachel Caine, Patricia Briggs, Christopher Golden and so many more.

The list of authors could go on and on and on. I’ve gotten letters recently from a handful of people who found my short story on All Romance eBooks and others who found the short story on my website. They wrote to let me know they enjoyed the short stories so much; they wanted to see what else I wrote.

So the circle is complete. I read short stories because I love those moments, the swift introductions and thoroughly passionate affairs that can leave you breathless and longing for more. I love those short stories the best, I can’t wait for the next.

What is your favorite short story?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tease Me Tuesday: Louisa Edwards Free Read


If Can't Stand The Heat is on your list of books to buy (it's at the top of mine!) then you'll enjoy this FREE READ from Louisa that includes a character from Can't Stand the Heat! Check it out here.

Want to know something even cooler? Louisa is going to give us more free installments of this story, so be sure to keep checking her site for updates!

Oh, and for even more awesome goodness - here's an excerpt of Can't Stand The Heat and a deleted scene for your reading enjoyment courtesy of Louisa's website!

Tease Me Tuesday:

Believe it or not, it's already September. Since Fall is my favorite time of year, I'm excited for the cooler months to finally blow through! Bring on the cute fall colors and snugly sweaters.

Coming up on Sept. 9th Cheeky Reads welcomes Sharon Lathan, author of Loving Mr. Darcy. Be sure to stop by for her special guest blog and the chance to win a copy for yourself!

Some exciting new releases in September that I'm looking forward to...

Debbie Macomber's 92 Pacific Boulevard (Cedar Cove) and Cedar Cove Cookbook

Christina Dodd's Storm of Shadows (Chosen Ones, Book 2)

Louisa Edwards'Can't Stand The Heat (A Recipe for Love)

Jana DeLeon's Mischief in Mudbug

A Lady of Persuasion by Tessa Dare

Barely Bewitched by Kimberly Frost

Make Her Pay (The Bullet Catchers) by Roxanne St. Claire

...more to come soon, including ebooks that are calling my name!

Be sure to visit on Thursday when we'll be giving away copies of The Italian's Inexperienced Mistress, a Harlequin Presents book by Lynne Graham.

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