Willow’s Review of First to Burn by Anna Richland

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I’m thrilled to be a part of the First to Burn book blast event and I offer my purrs of thanks to both Tasty Book Tours and the author, Anna Richland, for allowing me to read this book for an honest review. If you’d like to see all of the blogs who are participating in this event, please click on the banner above. =^.^=

CoverRating: paw3

Date Released: January 27, 2014

Publisher: Carina Press

Series: Immortal Vikings #1

Goodreads Description:

A soldier with secrets

Immortal Viking Wulf Wardsen once battled alongside Beowulf, and now serves in Afghanistan. He’s trusted the mortal men on his elite special operations team to protect his secret, until an explosion lands Wulf in a place more dangerous to him than a battlefield: a medevac helicopter.

A doctor with questions

Army captain Theresa Chiesa follows the rules and expects the same from others, even special forces hotshots like Sergeant Wardsen. She’s determined to discover the secret behind his supernaturally fast healing, and she won’t allow his sexy smile to distract her.

An enemy with nothing to lose

Even as Theresa’s investigation threatens to expose him, Wulf is stirred by her passion. Dreaming of love and a normal life, he wants nothing more than to build a future with her. But the lost Viking relic needed to reverse his immortality is being hunted by another—an ancient enemy who won’t hesitate to hurt Theresa to strike back at Wulf.

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Review:

Enjoyable characters and an intriguing plot line combine to create an action packed book! Richland definitely knows how to keep a reader on the edge of her seat.

Theresa is a fun character. She’s tough as nails, driven to succeed on her own, sarcastic at times, and expects everything to be orderly, but she’s also got a romantic, dreamer like side to her. She wants to live a normal life, or at least as close to normal as she can get, and I can’t begrudge her that. I can see a lot of myself in her character, which is why I think I liked her as much as I did while reading. Wulf is a mystery. He’s not exactly a wounded soul, but he’s been through enough over the years of his life to be guarded and a bit surly at times. When I first was introduced to him, I couldn’t help but think he was a bit reckless too, and as the story progressed, that thought grew. I’m not saying that he goes out of his way to put people, or even himself, in danger, but he doesn’t hold back when he gets into fights. And I don’t care that he’s immortal…taking bullets while attacking your shooter is reckless regardless of whether you heal right afterwards or not. Still, he was an interesting character and my whiskers did curl in enjoyment during many of his scenes.

As romantic couples go, I had difficulty accepting their relationship at first. Not because they didn’t make a steamy pair, they did, but because outside of instant attraction and their military careers, there didn’t seem to be much that really connected them. Maybe I’m over analyzing things (or I missed it completely), and yes, relationships have been built on less, but I couldn’t figure out what motivation either of them had for falling for each other. I enjoyed the romance scenes, loved the banter between both characters, and cheered at the end when they got their “happily ever after,” but I couldn’t keep from questioning why they initially got together in the first place.

The plot itself was amazing. I’ve always enjoyed the myth that surrounds Beowulf, so to read Richland’s spin on it was a treat. I’m rather looking forward to seeing where she takes things in the next book. And as much as I want to talk about what happens and how Beowulf ties in to the story, I don’t want to give away spoilers, so I’m sure my statement sounds rather ambiguous and for that I apologize. Let me simply say that the way in which Wulf discovered he was immortal and his connection to Beowulf is fascinating.

So what did I have a problem with, outside of the initial difficulty of believing the romantic interest between the lead characters? What kept me from giving this book higher than 3 paws? Call me an odd feline, but the book felt long to me. Several times I felt like the story could have ended, but it just kept going, one event after the other. And some of the events I felt could have either been left out or the resolution to them was to simple/too abrupt. I couldn’t help but feel like Richland was trying to pad her story by creating extra hurdles for her characters to jump through before reaching the end of the book. Not sure how much of this was done to set up for the rest of the series, or if it was just for effect, but just when I thought the story would end, I’d realize that I still had 30% of the book or more left to read. An example of a resolution that was just too simple: how Wulf handles the bad guy at the end. It’s just…sigh, I don’t know how to even begin to explain why it didn’t work for me.

Regardless, for a debut author, and the first of a series, I really liked this book and will definitely be reading the next one when it comes out. If you enjoy books that deal with myths, have a lot of action, mystery, and romance, you’ll want to check this one out and give it a try. =^.^=

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“Delicious.” His slow, deep voice returned, cueing her to look into the box.
Her mother hadn’t put the cookies on top. Black lace peeked out of pink packing tissue. Jet beads caught the Afghan sun and winked at her from ribbon trim that connected two scalloped bra cups. She shoved the offending object deeper. Her jaw hurt from the pressure of gritting her teeth, but nothing she could say, nothing, would make this go away. She should shut up. Right now.
“If you decide to take her advice…” His smile lifted one side of his mouth.
What was he talking about? She followed his gaze to a sticky note that’d transferred from the tissue paper to her forearm. Not for your roommates! Share these with a nice boy. Written in her mother’s distinctive slanted loops.
She needed to escape before she surpassed her record for embarrassment, set the day she broke her holster in pre-deployment training at Fort Benning, and her Beretta slipped down inside her pant leg. Two more minutes and she’d blurt out that story. That would impress a Special Forces stud.
“Here.” She reached deep, felt plastic and tugged out a bag of chocolate espresso swirls. After he caught them, her free hand snatched the carton he held, and she jammed the small box into the top. She was out of here like crap in a case of salmonella.
“Would you like to see a movie?”
Her mouth opened a second before her thoughts gelled into speech. “What did you say?” She suspected her mother’s cooking had led high school boyfriends to date her longer than they might have, but never had the effect occurred from merely seeing the food.
“Friday night movie at our ready room. Maybe cookies would cheer Captain Deavers.” The eyebrows arched over his shades ruined his sincerity. “Team’s worried.”
“Laying it on thick, aren’t you? I know his wife’s been to three parenting meetings already.”
“We’re showing Cinderella.”
“Tell me that’s not spelled with an S.”
“Disney, I swear.” He raised a palm like a Boy Scout. “Kahananui’s pick. His girls are into the princess lifestyle. He wants to share it with them.” Lines at the corners of his mouth betrayed his struggle to hold a straight face. “The rest of the team might know a new patient for you.”
This felt like high school, when guys had three idiotic ways to explain why getting a burger wasn’t a date, but finding Afghan women who needed medical care would involve Wulf and his team. “What time?”
“We start at twenty hundred. You know where our ready room is?”
“Yes.” If he knocked on her hut, gossip would explode like a rocket-propelled grenade.
“Until tonight.” He leaned in until her face filled his reflective lenses.
Did her eyes really look half-closed? Her lips half-open? Her sports bra compressed her chest as she struggled for air, waiting for him to close the last inch between their bodies even though he must not.
He swung a second bag of cookies in the air as he pulled away and gave her the free-form salute perfected by Special Forces.
She squeezed the big box until its seams creaked. The shameless bastard had grabbed her butteroons.

About the Author:

Anna RichlandAnna Richland lives with her quietly funny Canadian husband and two less quiet children in a century-old house in Seattle. Like the heroine of FIRST TO BURN, she joined the army to pay tuition, a decision that led to an adventurous career on four continents (if standing on the bridge in Panama that divides North and South America counts as two).

She donates a portion of her book proceeds to the Fisher House Foundation, which provides housing for families of wounded soldiers in the US and Great Britain, and Doctors Without Borders, which delivers emergency medical care in more than sixty crisis zones world-wide.

To find out about her October novella, HIS ROAD HOME, and the next Immortal Vikings romance, THE SECOND LIE, visit her website at annarichland.com and sign up for her newsletter.

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***Giveaway***

Anna is offering one lucky winner a $10 Starbucks Gift Card! To enter, simply click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/521ac4c8414/

Release Day Blitz: Whisper by Heather Hildenbrand

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Happy Release Day to Heather Hildenbrand for her novel WHISPER! =^.^=

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Release Date: August 13, 2014

The Cherokee believe when a person dies, their soul is reborn. Life is repeated. An endless cycle of lessons to be learned, love to be found, destiny to be fulfilled. For the past six months, in every flower, every bird, I’ve imagined my parents, relieved of their human forms.

Now, after five months at the Skye View Wellness Center, it was summer. A time for parties and friends, but that’s the last thing I want to do. So when my best friend Erin convinces me to attend a bonfire at Eagle Point, I can’t handle the crowd full of sympathetic stares or drunken class clowns who would use my tragedy as a way into my heart – or my pants. The solitude of the woods offers an escape, until I stumble upon a boy, unconscious and bleeding, his pockets stuffed not with identification but with poetry illustrating the beauty of dying. I’ve seen enough death. I will not leave this boy’s side.

Even after he wakes, when the only thing he can remember are visions of events that haven’t happened yet…

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About the Author:

HeatherHildenbrandAuthor of Across the Galaxy, Whisper, and the Dirty Blood series. I write, read, and fuss at my kids. Oh, and I do laundry, lots of laundry. I’m pretty good at it, too. Sometimes I even read WHILE doing laundry – and fussing at my kids. I’m a multitasker.

For more information on my books, release dates, or just general stalker material, um, I mean FAN material, visit my website. I love hearing from readers!

Likes and dislikes? I love vintage tees, hate socks with sandals, and if my house was on fire the one thing I’d grab is my Amazon Fire TV! (oh yeah, I’m a fan of puns.)

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Cover Reveal: Eventide by Christine Allen-Riley

EVENTIDE (Iron Falls, Book One) - smaller size

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Release Date: October 2014

Publisher: Amazon

Series: Iron Falls #1

The driver in a tragic car accident that killed her best friend, Devon Greer is consumed by guilt. When powerful hallucinations convince her that she’s seeing Rachael everywhere, Devon thinks she’s going crazy. But her friend isn’t truly gone.

To save Rachael from the faeries who stole her, Devon must pit herself against the Court of the Sidhe. Once she witnesses the true form of the fey, Devon’s life is in danger—and so are the lives of everyone she loves.

Now, Devon must not only protect herself, but also Jonah Seafort, Rachael’s cousin and the only person Devon can trust to help her. While the Sidhe walk among them, no one is safe…

About the Author:

christine allen riley

Lover of books, nature, cats and shiny things. Active disliker of cooking, cleaning and stress. Mom, freelance editor & YA author – also a bit of a nerd.

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Cover Reveal: Snark and Stage Fright by Stephanie Wardrop

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Release Date: October 14, 2014

Publisher: Swoon Romance

Happily-ever-after isn’t as happy or forever as Jane Austen makes it look. Just something Georgia Barrett learns when her sharp tongue costs her the only guy she’s ever really cared about: Michael Endicott.

Determined to move on, Georgia lands the lead role in the school’s fall musical. But to survive on stage, she’ll need to learn to express herself without her protective shield of snark. She soon discovers being honest with others means being honest with herself, and the truth is she’s still in love with Michael.

But from the looks of Michael’s new girlfriend, Georgia isn’t the only one who tried to move on. Apparently, some people are just better at it than others. And when Michael and his girlfriend join the cast of the fall musical, Georgia finds out that snark and stage fright are the least of her worries…

About the Author:

stephanie wardrop

Stephanie Wardrop grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania, a town mostly famous for being a railroad card in Monopoly. After giving up on her childhood goal of becoming a pirate, she decided to become a writer but took a detour through lots of college and grad school and ended up teaching writing and British and American literature. She’s the author of the Swoon Romance e-novella series Snark and Circumstance, based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and lives in western New England with her husband, kids, cats, and gecko.

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Sara’s Review of I Adored the Lord by Katharine Ashe + Excerpt

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I’d like to thank Tasty Book Tours, Avon Romance, and Katharine Ashe for the opportunity to be a part of this event! If you’d like to see all of the blogs participating in this tour, please click on the banner above. I received a copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review. =^.^=

I Aodred a LordRating: paw4

Publisher: Avon Romance

Release Date: July 29, 2014

Series: The Prince Catchers #2

Goodreads Description:

Three very different sisters beguile society with their beauty and charm, but only one of them must fulfill a prophecy: marry a prince. Who is the mystery Prince Charming, and which sister will be his bride?

All that clever, passionate Ravenna Caulfield wants is to stay far away from high society’s mean girls.

All that handsome, heroic Lord Vitor Courtenay wants is to dash from dangerous adventure to adventure.

Now, snowbound in a castle with a bevy of the ton‘s scheming maidens all competing for a prince’s hand in marriage, Ravenna’s worst nightmare has come true.

Now, playing babysitter to his spoiled prince of a half-brother and potential brides, Vitor is champing at the bit to be gone.

When a stolen kiss in a stable leads to a corpse in a suit of armor, a canine kidnapping, and any number of scandalous liaisons, Ravenna and Vitor find themselves wrapped in a mystery they’re perfectly paired to solve. But as for the mysteries of love and sex, Vitor’s not about to let Ravenna escape until he’s gotten what he desires . . .

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Review:

Ah, what a difference a sequel makes! May I say that I enjoyed this book much more than I did the first in this series. Not to say that I didn’t like the first book, but I definitely appreciated the characters and storyline in this book a great deal more when all is said and done. Yes, Ashe has earned some serious purrs this time around, murr!

I completely adored Ravenna. Her love of animals, overall gypsy nature, and desire to fight for the underdog won my heart right from the start. Thus far out of the three Caulfield siblings, she is definitely my favorite! Likewise Vitor made my heart swoon. While he wants to protect Ravenna, he’s also not afraid to let her be herself. He accepts her as she is and doesn’t seek to change her. Right there he’s won my respect and admiration. Together these two are the perfect couple. Their attraction for each other is seriously hot, and from the first moment they met I could help but grin in delight. They are a fun pair and I defy any fan of Historical Romance not to like them. Also I have to give a nod of acknowledgement to all of the secondary characters who made this book a charming read. I loved them all, even the catty twins whom I seriously hated for their behavior towards some of the other young ladies, and the rather inept mayor turned detective (he earned more than one eye roll from me).

Yes, I REALLY liked this book! Once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop. And it’s not just the characters that kept me intrigued, but the mystery element to the storyline was a fantastic touch. I wanted to know who did it, and I constantly kept revising my theory of who and why as the story progressed. Just when you think you have it figured out, Ashe would add a twist into the mix to keep you guessing. My only complaint in the end, and one of the reasons for why this didn’t rate as a 5 paw read, was that the answer to who did it had me shaking my head and asking “Did I really just read that right?” Usually with a mystery I can joke with friends about who the killer is, but in this particular case, I can’t do it because I’d literally be spoiling things. And if you don’t know by now how I feel about spoilers, then you obviously haven’t been paying attention to any of my previous reviews.

The other thing that kept me from giving this a full paw rating was that there were some events that I thought were unnecessary to the plot line. On the one paw I can see these scenes as being red herrings (Mmm herring) created specifically to divert the reader’s attention from the actual truth in order to keep the mystery going a bit longer, or in one specific case to make Ravenna admit her true feelings for Vitor, but on the other paw I think the story would have been just as strong without them. I mean, just how necessary was it for Ravenna to end up in the river or for Ann’s dress to be ruined? Or even for the dog to be dognapped? Okay, yes, in retrospect, I can actually see the importance for everything happening the way it did, but during the initial read I honestly felt that some of what happened just didn’t need to.

Having said that though, I will admit that Ashe can be a bit of a brutal writer as well, and I mean this in the best of ways because she knows how to pull emotion from her readers. I actually cried towards the end of the novel due to something that happens to a character whom I greatly liked. Yes, I actually felt like I’d been punched in the gut with this one scene and I did yowl in despair over it. Seriously, Ashe, if you end up reading this, did you have to add that heart wrenching twist? Really?!

So yeah, as reads go, this is definitely a fun one, and I can’t wait to see what happens in the final book of this trilogy! If you are a fan of Historical Romance, or if you were debating on whether you wanted to read this book or not because you were not all that enamored with the first of the series, let me say that you definitely don’t want to miss this one, murr! Purrs and tail waves to of approval to you, Ashe, for a job well done. =^.^=

Excerpt:

“Why are you out here? Hiding behind trees so you can jump out at unsuspecting women?”
“I was at the village observing Monsieur Paul interrogate the servants. The mayor under-exaggerated his deputy’s incompetence.”
“He is less than helpful?”
“He’s a drunken simpleton. Also, the mayor’s nephew.” His grin reappeared. “Alas, mountain communities.”
“You are now here. On the north side of the castle. The village is to the south.”
“I must have gotten lost.”
Ravenna pursed her lips. “You are withholding information from me. This is clear. But Monsieur Sepic is a numbskull. If we hope to discover the identity of the murderer, it will be best if we work in concert. Agreed?”
He seemed to consider this, or rather her , then said. “What have you learned?”
She pulled off her gloves and flapped her cloak open to dig in her skirt pocket. She felt watched. It had never before bothered her to be watched by a man; no man ever did unless she worked on his animals. Now her fingers slipped on the packet.
Lord Vitor caught her hand. His were large, without gloves but warm. She jerked back.
“I spoke with Mademoiselle Dijon, and with Lady Margaret and her daughter, Ann,” she said too quickly, “then the duchess and Lady Iona. I learned nothing useful, unfortunately. Gossip may not suffice to draw them out.”
“You are honest to admit it.”
“I haven’t any pride to be wounded by admitting my mistakes.”
He stepped close to her. “That is refreshing to hear. Pride is one of my worst faults.”
“You are admitting to a fault? I am astonished.”
“I’m hoping to turn up your good side.”
She looked up from the packet in her hands, and her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. She loosed it with effort. “Don’t look at me like that.”
“Like what?”
“Like you intend to kiss me again.”
“I am not looking at you like that.”
“Are you intending it?”
“Since you have made very clear the consequences of doing so without your permission—”
“Ever.”
“—it would not be in my interests, would it?”
“I have never been swayed by a pretty face.”
A single dark brow rose. He wore no hat and the sunlight shone in his eyes, lighting them to sapphire like the jewel in his neck cloth the night before. “Pretty?”
“Rather, a handsome face. Beast was the ugliest pup in the litter.”
“Who is Beast, I wonder.”
“The best—” Her throat closed. “Just don’t.”
The color was high on his cheekbones and his eyes were abruptly serious, like in the drawing room when he and his brother had spoken. “I do wish to kiss you, Miss Caulfield, however unwise that would certainly be.”

About the Author:

Katharine AsheAward-winning, best-selling author KATHARINE ASHE writes intensely lush historical romance, including How To Be a Proper Lady, among Amazon’s 10 Best Books of 2012 in Romance, and eight other acclaimed novels set in the era of the British Empire. With the publication of her debut novel in 2010, she earned a spot among the American Library Association’s “New Stars of Historical Romance.” She was a nominee for the 2013 Library of Virginia Literary Award in Fiction, and in 2011 she won the coveted Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Historical Romantic Adventure. Katharine is also a finalist for the 2014 RITA® Award, the highest honor in the romance fiction industry, for How To Marry A Highlander.

She lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her beloved husband, son, dog, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of European History at Duke University, Katharine writes fiction because she thinks modern readers deserve high adventure and breathtaking sensuality too. For more about her books, please visit her at www.KatharineAshe.com.

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***Giveaway***

Katharine is offering three digital copies of I Married the Duke to three lucky winners! If you’d like the chance to be entered into the giveaway for this event, simply click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/521ac4401/

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