Dark, Compelling Read

6348514The Cold Room by J.T. Ellison
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

J.T. Ellison knows how to spin a tale with Taylor Jackson, a tough-as-nails main character who never seems to lack for passion. She finds it in both her professional and personal life. The Cold Room gripped me from the first page, and it didn’t let me go until I had reached the end. The chilling nature of the tale kept me in rapt attention, and while the plot may have seemed a bit farfetched to some, I found it to be both heavily researched and a compelling read.

I found myself intrigued by the descriptions of Nashville, and I attribute this to the outstanding writing abilities of the author. She turned a local tale into an international one, when Taylor and her fiancé, FBI agent John Baldwin, crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Italy. Florence never sounded so good.

It takes a special writer to delve into some dark places of the human psyche, when many individuals might shy away from such an experience. To her credit, she didn’t just skirt across the surface, she jumped all the way in, and her novel is a stronger, better book because of her willingness to peek beneath the surface.

Endings can prove a bit of a challenge, but Ellison pulls it off with ease. She sets herself and the reader up perfectly for The Immortals. While this is my first foray into Taylor’s world, it certainly won’t be my last.

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Unkillable Charlie Hardie

9583670Hell And Gone by Duane Swierczynski
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I blame erotica. My natural response is to proceed with a whips and chains and between-the-pages sexual binge until this burning desire extricates itself from my system, and the world turns itself right-side up. What does that have to do with HELL AND GONE? Probably not a whole hell of a lot. But here we are you and I. With that being said, I cannot be held accountable for my actions during this review.

Fun And Games had Mann in all of her infinite glory, with her nipples sticking straight up in the air, sunbathing topless on a deck in the middle of LA. But Mann has been relegated to cameo status in the sequel, and I couldn’t help the heartfelt sigh that escaped my lips. Now we have Eve Bell who can maintain the lotus position for hours on end, and I’m intrigued all over again. Her shower scene certainly captured my attention. I’ll say it right now: I have no shame.

Unkillable Charlie Hardie once again was forced to question his very sanity, spending his days in an inescapable prison with a team of guards and prisoners that proved to be some of the baddest dudes and dudettes around. The adrenaline rush proceeded at an IV pace (my finger pushing the magic button every three minutes or so), and I couldn’t avoid the post-nasal drip, the chlorine beach, the white tile, the blue scrubs, or the shower curtain divider that separated me from the guy on the respirator.

The other characters, while interesting and intriguing, didn’t capture my attention the way the secondary cast of characters popped into my brain and executed the mambo in the first installment. The action scenes, while intense and electrified, held back a bit compared to the first go round and the insanity that is LA. But don’t get me wrong, this was one hell of a ride, and I’ll be seeking out the explosive finale with equal parts enthusiasm and trepidation. I may need to sleep with the lights on, and my head buried underneath the covers, but it’ll all be worth it in the end. That’s what I’ll keep telling myself anyway, repeating the mantra until it’s permanently etched in my brain.

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What Do You Mean You Used To Write Children’s Stories

Guest post provided by Elene Sallinger.

When people find out that I started my writing career in children’s literature, the reactions are varied but always funny. It’s a classic “what the f@#$” moment. Somehow, this transition just doesn’t seem to compute for most people. Granted, children’s lit and erotica are much further apart on the spectrum than say mysteries and romance, but they are both still part of the fiction genre. And, the theme of my erotica – people overcoming their baggage – is only marginally different from the theme of my children’s stories – overcoming fear and doubt.

I began writing children’s stories after my then four-year-old daughter repeatedly asked for the same bedtime story which I’d improvised one night. She didn’t want more or less the same story, she wanted the details to match. With my memory being as full of holes as Swiss cheese, I began to write them down and illustrate them for her.

When he discovered this, her father encouraged me to take some classes. After much stalling, I finally did and a writer was born. Because my daughter was so young, children’s lit was natural for me. I found myself writing the stories I wished I’d had as a child. Stories that promoted facing fear, self-acceptance and overcoming doubt. All concepts I’ve struggled with throughout my life.

As my daughter grew and Dora gave way to Xbox and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom was put away in favor of Artemis Fowl, I found I had no taste for writing for the young adult market. There were too many prolific authors already doing it better than I could.

Around this same time, I stumbled across my first tale of erotic fiction, Seducing Jane Porter by Dominique Adair. One taste and I was hooked. I devoured everything I could find. Sadly, I also found myself disappointed again and again by stories that lurched from one sex scene to another with no plot, no character development and laughable, unrealistic sex scenes.

I’d already picked clean the catalogs of my favorite authors and was frustrated with a lack of quality content. I wanted more and I didn’t want to sacrifice my reading standards. One night, after deleting a particularly bad story off my iPad, I decided to try and write a story that I would want to read. The rest, as they say, is history.

After getting some practice in with a few short stories, I submitted Awakening to Xcite Books’ contest for new writers at the 2011 Festival of Romance and won! I haven’t looked back since.

I love the erotic genre and nothing pleases me more than a good story where people explore their sexuality while overcoming the baggage we all carry at some level.

While, I may write other children’s stories – I’ve got one or two percolating – I’m officially hooked on erotica and plan to continue writing erotic romance for as long as I’ve got a story to tell.

17683820Hailing from Washington, DC, Elene Sallinger first caught the writing bug in 2004 after writing and illustrating several stories for her then four-year-old daughter. Her writing career has encompassed two award-winning children’s stories, a stint as a consumer-education advocate, as well as writing her debut novel, Awakening—a novel of erotic fiction that won the New Writing Competition at the Festival of Romance 2011. Visit Elene online here.

Click here to read my Awakening review.

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Enthralled By The Eccentricities

17368378 by  and
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Seeing Douglas Preston in person (twice) and Lincoln Child via Skype (once), I can’t help but be enthralled by the eccentricities of these two individuals, and the odd dynamic that must ensue from this powerful writing duo. So it’s hard not to see how Aloysius Pendergast might have developed from these two brilliant minds fully formed and ready for action. He’s odd and eccentric and intriguing and his dark suits never manage to get wrinkle, even when he’s bounding through snow drifts up to his chin or playing Russian roulette with a loaded revolver.

More than just Pendergast, though, WHITE FIRE filled its pages with entertaining characters and a few individuals from the days of yore. With Corrie Swanson leading the charge and immersing herself in skeletal remains and mining caves and mountain passes, this novel piles on roadblocks and adventures in equal measure, and then douses the remains in cans of kerosene. With stoic individuals stepping to the forefront and the interweaving of a story within a story, this novel moves forward as much as it lingers in antiquity. Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde and Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson weave through the pages, leaving footprints in white blankets and half-eaten meals behind.

The rush of adrenaline helped me maneuver from the first page to the last, the throttle easing just enough to keep me from overexertion, the pages pounding with the precision of a jackhammer. The vibrations echoed through my hands and all the way up my forearms, as I drove my snowmobile through the ensuing avalanche. The tight plot fit about as well as a snug pair of gloves, and I leaned my back from the resultant wind current, my teeth chattering and my feet stamping in protest.

If you don’t mind Pendergast avoiding the spotlight as opposed to standing in the limelight, acting more as a mentor than the lead investigator, and you enjoy your plots more tightly woven than a pair of mittens, you’ll probably find yourself enjoying this Colorado tale.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

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Steamy Scenes And Passionate Embraces

17683820Awakening by Elene Sallinger
My Rating: 2/5 Stars

Confounded and baffled on so many levels, it’s hard to state rather emphatically how I truly feel about this read. On the one hand, I rather liked Claire Ryan, Bridget (no last name), and Evan Lane to the point that I considered them good acquaintances by the end of this tale. In some ways, Claire reminded me of…well me. If I were female, that is. Shy, but definitely not quiet, her stronger, talkative self was just bursting at the seam of her jeans. She tentatively explored the BDSM world through a series of engorging reads, becoming more aroused with each tale, and her high pain tolerance helped her out immensely in this new universe. Bridget with her bubbly personality and stunning good looks reminded of a cheerleader who hasn’t exceeded her expiration date. Evan, on the other hand, confounded me a bit with his overemphasis on past guilt and unwillingness to embrace the present. While his actions and motivations become clear, it’s hard not to be a bit frustrated with his constant clinginess to previous wrongs.

Steamy scenes and passionate embraces filled the pages, but not to the point that it ever exceeded my threshold. The peek behind the bedroom curtain left me hot and heavy and bothered and squirming in my chair, while the downtime allowed me to catch my breath, reevaluate the purpose of my life, and study long division. Elene Sallinger knows how to turn up the heat and strike your pleasure points with a fine leather flogger.

But…the first half of AWAKENING reminded me of a high school crush not yet realized, and the buildup proved an exercise in self-control to continue to flip the pages. Sure, there’s character development and story, but there’s a whole lot of dancing around in Claire’s and Evan’s heads. Had more external conflict been presented here, instead of massive amounts of the internal variety, this would have been easier to sludge through. Instead, I probably needed a larger pair of boots. But possibly even worse than that was the moment the mental tango turned into a physical one for our dynamic duo. *BEGIN SPOILER* With very little preamble and no real buildup whatsoever, in the middle of Bibliophile and during normal business hours, Evan yanked away Claire’s black silk thong and gets her off, and then he fucks her mouth with his dick. Excuse me…what? That rattled me a bit, worse than being shoved against the book stacks by some leather bound hellion with a whip and a pair of handcuffs. *END SPOILER* But once I shook my head and wormed my way back into the story, all was right with the world. The suspect beginnings, though, left my world with a tainted haze that never completely went away.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

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