Release Day Blitz: Piece by Piece by Elisabeth Staab

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We would like to thank Herding Cats & Burning Soup Promotions for letting us host Elisabeth on the site today! =^.^=

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Date Released: September 20, 2016

Publisher: Elisabeth Staab

Series: Evergreen Grove Series #4

ETHAN’S HIT A ROUGH SPOT

So I caught my dad in bed with my ex-girlfriend.

My best friend cancelled our plans to celebrate my birthday.

Decided to drink away the betrayal.

Made out with a cardboard cutout of a celebrity in front of my new roommates.

Got in a bar fight.

Hooked up with that pretty bartender whose sad smile I’ve secretly been painting pictures of since forever, but she shoved me out the door without a word.

Did I mention the tattoo I don’t exactly remember getting?

And that’s only Saturday.

Now I need to pick up the pieces of my messed-up life.

LEEANNE’S HAD A TOUGH LIFE

What do you do when you’ve lived in the same small town your whole life and you feel as if you’ll always be stuck in the same rut, like a piece of busted wagon wheel? Well, maybe you start by hooking up with the first decent guy who walks into your bar.

Maybe once you do, it’s hard to get him out of your head even though you try. And maybe, just maybe, you find out he makes you laugh even more than he makes you want to shout his name.

If you’re me, you don’t even know what to do with a guy like him. A little piece of happiness…that feels downright dangerous.

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Excerpt:

(LeeAnne’s POV):

So, whatcha thinking? Time to go?” He rises up on his knees. The way he’s poised, he could either move away or get closer just as easily.

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m not dizzy yet.” Not that I honestly want to get dizzy, but we’ve gotten a little too serious. After Ethan brought me here to have fun, I want to lighten the mood.

With his hands deep in the pockets of his leather jacket, Ethan leans in toward me again. “I thought you didn’t want me to make you dizzy.”

I didn’t think so. Yet here we are, hot breath puffing in the cold air between us. My lips tingle as he leans close. It’s impossible to forget the way his hands explored me so carefully before. The way his tongue tasted me like he wanted to keep on tasting me forever.

“You remember that first time you kissed me?”

His cheeks turn a deep merlot. “Damn right I do. I remember thinking it was the best kiss I’d ever had.”

Well now. I’m pretty sure if I wasn’t sitting on something cold and metal, I’d have just melted right into the playground gravel.

“It was the first time I’d kissed someone because I wanted to, and not because I thought I should.” My chest feels strange when I confess this to him. Like it’s full of butterflies or bees. Lighter but nervous. And oh God, my heart is just bouncing every which way.

As his hair brushes my forehead, his dimple deepens and his eyes get darker. “I’m glad you wanted to kiss me, LeeAnne. I’ve been dying to do it again.”

Maybe…maybe I don’t have to lean on him. Maybe I could just lean in again. Meet those wind-chapped lips halfway. That’d be okay, right?

I wrap my arms around my knees and smile. “I think I’ve decided I wouldn’t mind getting a little dizzy.”

His lips brush mine so fast, I’m left breathless when he jumps from the merry-go-round to give it a spin.

“Hang on tight,” he says.

So I do.

About the Author:

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Elisabeth Staab started hunting mutant hedgehogs back in 1842… Oops, wrong bio… Elisabeth Staab digs coffee, saucy stories, and sexy things that go bump in the night. Once, she ate dinner in a jail and liked it. She lives in the Washington DC area with her incredible family and does her best to juggle life while ignoring the laundry.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Newsletter

***Giveaway***

Elisabeth is giving away a cute makeup kit she made (US only) or an ecopy of Piece by Piece (INT). To enter, please visit The Herd Presents and fill out the Giveaway Tools form at the end of the post page, murr! =^.^=

Vivienne Lorret’s The Wallflower Weddings Series – Excerpt & Promotional Post

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We’re thrilled to be participating in Vivienne Lorret’s The Wallflower Wedding Series Spotlight Tour! If you’d like to see everyone involved in this spectacular event, please click on the banner above, murr! =^.^=

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Publisher: Avon Impulse

Date Released: November 25, 2014

Series: The Wallflower Weddings #0.5

Penelope Rutledge longs for passion, but only with the man of her dreams: the brilliant, dashing Ethan Weatherstone. If only her longtime neighbor would open his eyes and realize how much she loves him. If only they weren’t best friends with so much at stake. Penelope knows her future – and their friendship – is in her hands, but is she willing to take the biggest risk of all on the man she loves?

If it were up to Ethan, life and love would be as predictable as the figures in his ledgers – certainly nothing like the adventures Penelope longs for. Yet his childhood friend has grown into a beautiful, feisty woman blissfully unaware of the danger she causes when near. Ethan knows he must save Penelope-and her reputation…but can he save himself from the temptation of her lips?

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Publisher: Avon Impulse

Date Released: May 4, 2014

Series: The Wallflower Weddings #1

It’s all fun and games…until someone falls in love.

Oliver Goswick, Viscount Rathburn, needs money and soon. With time ticking away and his inheritance held hostage until he’s properly wed, Rathburn’s slim options point to just one solution: a mock courtship. In need of the perfect bride, he knows of only one candidate: his best friend’s wallflower sister. The plan seems flawless; except for just one thing…he can’t help falling in love with her.

Poised, polished Emma Danvers knows nothing good can come of Rathburn’s scheme. Spending the next two months engaged in a mock courtship is not what she’d imagined for her final season. Yet, charmed by his roguish ways and the inexplicable hammering he causes in her heart, she accepts his challenge.

For Emma, keeping the secret seems easy when it was just a game… but as Rathburn begins to see past her reserved exterior to the passionate woman within, the risk of losing her heart becomes all too real.

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Publisher: Avon Impulse

Date Released: June 10, 2014

Series: The Wallflower Weddings #2

She’s got nothing left to lose…

With her fiancé suddenly engaged to another and her reputation in tatters, Merribeth Wakefield needs a bold plan to reclaim her life. She must be brave. Confident. She must… kiss a rake? The suggestion is ludicrous! Yet, when Merribeth finds herself alone with the dark and brooding Lord Knightswold, suddenly the plan doesn’t seem so farfetched. So she does something she never thought she’d do—she kisses him.

But he has everything to gain…

The Marquess of Knightswold—Bane to most—has no use for the affections of women. Well, none lasting longer than a single night. A plot for revenge weighs heavy on his mind, leaving no room for romance. So, when a shy, witty miss borrows a kiss from him in a darkened room, everything he thought he knew about innocent debutants vanishes along with her.

Yet when a twist of fate brings Merribeth within Bane’s grasp, he’ll have to resist her charms—or risk losing everything—for the sake of his heart.

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Publisher: Avon Impulse

Date Released: August 5, 2014

Series: The Wallflower Weddings #3

Fans of historical romance authors Lorraine Heath and Sophie Jordan will adore Vivienne Lorret’s latest Wallflower Wedding novel.

Delaney McFarland is on the hunt for a husband—preferably one who needs her embarrassingly large dowry more than a dutiful wife. After the unspeakable incident at her debut, Delaney knows marrying for love is off the table, but a marriage of convenience—one that leaves her free to live the life she chooses—is the next best thing, never mind what that arrogant, devilishly handsome Mr. Croft thinks. Delaney plans to marry for money … or not at all.

Ever since the fiery redhead burst into his life—in a most memorable way—Griffin Croft hasn’t been able to get Miss McFarland out of his mind. Now, with the maddening woman determined to hand over her fortune to a rake, Griffin knows he must step in. He must help her. He must not kiss her. But when Griffin’s noble intentions flee in a moment of unexpected passion, his true course becomes clear: tame Delaney’s wild heart and save her from a fate worse than death … a life without love.

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Excerpt:

Excerpt for FINDING MISS McFARLAND:

“I don’t understand you, Miss McFarland,” he said, studying her with new interest. “Last Season, I was nearly convinced you went out of your way to ensure that we were never seen in the same place, to avoid association to the—”

The incident,” she supplied quickly. “That is the only delicate way to refer to what happened at my debut, Mr. Croft.”

He grinned at the haughty way she addressed him, saying Mr. Croft as if accusing him of a wrongdoing or misbehavior. “Then, a year after the incident, I cannot go three steps without running into you. Why, you practically laid your bonnet at my feet yesterday, daring me to pick it up.”

Her lips parted on a gasp, offering him a flash of her pink tongue. “I did no such thing. It was the wind and nothing—I repeat, nothing—more.”

A bit of deviltry flared to life within him. Now, he wanted to hear her haughty address again. He wanted to goad her into those three syllables. “Yet you came here to spare my mother’s feelings and then stayed long enough to encourage her, praising her in a way that gave every indication of your interest in her son.”

“Mr. Croft!”

He felt her admonition cover him, tightening the flesh over his bones. He could feel heat radiate from each drop of blood in his veins, feel the length of each hair on his body. His follicles contracted—released—contracted with those three syllables out of her small pink mouth.

Mis-ter Croft.

Q&A with Vivienne Lorret:

Q: Vivienne, where had you gotten the idea for the Wallflower Weddings Series?

Strangely enough, the Wallflower Wedding Series began as an afterthought. I wrote a Christmas novella (Tempting Mr. Weatherstone) and submitted it to an Avon “call for submissions.”

When the novella was well received, my editor at the time suggested that I create a spin-off. I was so excited about the opportunity! Since Ethan and Penelope’s story lacked unmarried sub characters, however, I had my work cut out for me.

But then inspiration struck! I remembered that, in Tempting, Penelope enjoyed embroidery. So I gave her a circle of friends who shared that interest. Adding in a few details here and there… and voila, the Wallflower Wedding Series was born.

Q: Which title or couple was the easiest to write and which gave you the most trouble?

Hmm… This is a tough question. Each story had its share of smooth sailing, as well as bumpy roads. I practically held my breath the whole time while writing Emma and Oliver’s slow, burgeoning love. I was as eager for them to realize it as, I imagine, they were. I blushed when Merribeth “borrowed” that kiss from the deliciously naughty Bane. And I laughed (horrible of me, I know) during Delaney’s incident at her debut, all over Griffin’s shoes.

What gave me the most trouble for each book was reaching the end and knowing that I had to say goodbye. I suppose that’s why I proposed the Rakes of Fallow Hall Series, so that I could check up on them.

In fact, I’ll tell you a secret. I even added a mention of Bane in my upcoming novel, WHEN A MARQUESS LOVES A WOMAN.

Q: Which heroine do you feel most closely relates to your personality?

Out of the Wallflowers, I’d have to say that I relate to Delaney McFarland. Sadly, we’re both socially awkward. In fact, the beginning of her story—the incident at her debut—is one of my own fears. Thankfully, I have never cast up my accounts in public (and knock on wood that it never happens), but there’s always that fear when facing a crowd.

I guess you could say that writers have secret ways of facing our fears by forcing our characters to live them out. It’s good for us, but not-so-good for our characters. On the bright side, I think Delaney handled the incident with a strength of character that even surprised me.

Q: What is one of the most interesting things that you have learned from researching for your historicals?

 I just love research! Discovering little historical tidbits feeds my inner nerd. I can’t begin to tell you how tired my family is of hearing “Guess what I learned today?” So much eye rolling!

But one thing, in particular, I found fascinating came from an 1800s play (the title of which I have presently forgotten). The main character went into a taproom and ordered his food and drink “hot and hot.” Instantly, I wondered what that meant. Did he want hot ale, too? Was this a popular figure of speech? Inquiring minds…

I searched online and found nothing. I went to the library database and found nothing. Then I asked my friend and local research librarian, but she didn’t know either. She came up with the same results that I had. However, she had a secret weapon that I didn’t have—connections. She knew a food historian.

This “hot and hot” became such a puzzle for all of us that, after compiling research, the food historian blogged about her findings. So cool!

In the end, she found that asking for your food and drink to come “hot and hot,” meant that you wanted everything when it was ready. No waiting. In other words, bring the ale now. And if the broth is done, then bring it to me, as well, while the kitchen prepares my leg o’ mutton, aspic and eggs. Um… yum?

Or, to put it in a modern context…  If you make pancakes in a skillet, one by one, then instead of waiting to compile a short stack for your family, you’d serve each steaming flapjack—butter melting, syrup oozing—one at a time, and fork at the ready.

So, the next time you’re at IHOP, pound your fist on the table hard enough to jangle the silverware, and tell the server that you want your rasher of bacon, scrambled eggs and each fluffy pancake “hot and hot”… because you’re worth it. ; )

Q: What is your favorite part of writing historical romances?

 All of it. I love the rules of society (and breaking them). I love the layers of clothing, and how even removing a glove can be racy. I love the fact that they didn’t have immediate knowledge of a potential scandal. There’s so much that can be done with slow-moving information. And on the flip-side, so much can happen when news or rumors spread like wildfire. It’s fun playing with the differences.

Also, as I mentioned before, I love the research and discovering new-to-me tidbits of history.  I often like to imagine how my current character would have reacted to the latest scientific invention, or how they felt about their changing world.

Q: What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a proposal for a potential new series. At this time, I can’t go into detail, but I can tell you that I’m having a lot of fun with this new set of characters.

Also in the works, is a novella that will finish the Season’s Original Series and answer some important questions, such as:

  • Will the evil Miss Leeds and Miss Ashbury get what’s coming to them?
  • Will the Fates smile upon the overlooked but handsome Viscount Ellery?
  • Will Gemma Desmond escape ruination after her father’s misdeeds?

Are you curious, too?

Thank you for having me here today!

I wake up each morning, incredibly thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to write these stories. But even more than that, I feel immensely blessed to have readers who have enjoyed them.

Warm wishes and happy reading!

Vivienne

About the Author:

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USA Today bestselling author, VIVIENNE LORRET loves romance novels, her pink laptop, her husband, and her two sons (not necessarily in that order … but there are days). Transforming copious amounts of tea into words, she is an Avon Impulse author of works including: Tempting Mr. Weatherstone, The Wallflower Wedding Series, The Rakes of Fallow Hall Series, The Duke’s Christmas Wish, and the Season’s Original Series.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

If you would like to enter for your chance to win a Wallflower Weddings Tote Bag Prize Pack, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/521ac4c81120

Cover Reveal: Blue Satin Sashes by Millenia Black

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We’re thrilled to be participating in the cover reveal for Millenia Black’s newest title and wish to thank Tasty Book Tours for letting us share this beautiful post with you all today! To see all of the blogs involved in this reveal, please click on the banner above. =^.^=

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Title: Blue Satin Sashes

Author: Milenia Black

Publisher: Self-published

Release Date: November 28, 2016

Series: Favorite Things Trilogy #2

From the #1 bestselling author of The Great Pretender comes the highly anticipated second book in the captivating Favorite Things Trilogy—Blue Satin Sashes is a searing story of passion, desperation and vengeance…

What happens when you fall in love with someone else?

Paris, France. Corporate brand designer Michael Frost knows he’s found a once in a lifetime love in professional illustrator Priscilla Bauer, the granddaughter of a legendary Hollywood icon—but Michael must now cross an ocean of regrets to repair damage inflicted by his heartbroken high school sweetheart Amber Holland, whose increasingly extreme attempts at sabotage may know no bounds…

How will she win? How will she lose?

Brave the razor-sharp edges of an intensely hot love triangle as Michael and Priscilla discover the depths of Amber’s passion ultimately rivals their own.

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***Pre-Order Today***

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Check out the book that started it all!

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Publisher: Self-published

Date Released: November 14, 2014

Series: Favorite Things Trilogy #1

What happens when his ex just won’t let go?

Mayfair Island, Florida. Grief-stricken after the sudden loss of her beloved grandmother, an enduring but reclusive Hollywood icon, young Priscilla Bauer finds herself adrift and looking to find solace in the arms of her vast inheritance, when she meets the kind and considerate corporate brand designer, Michael Frost—a drop dead gorgeous beacon of light in her all too dark night.

Falling hard and falling fast, Priscilla has no idea she’s stepped into dangerous territory…someone else has already branded Michael Frost her very own—with no intention of letting him go!

Love. Loss. Jealousy. Vengeance. Passions are high but bitter vengeance gets even higher in this razor-sharp love triangle you won’t forget!

With Raindrops on Roses, the captivating Favorite Things Trilogy takes flight!

Now on Sale for $0.99!

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Praise for Millenia Black:

“Intensely intriguing and deeply riveting, Black’s latest is a first-rate page-turner that will draw you in from the very beginning and never let go.”—Sheri Melnick, RT Book Reviews

“Ms. Black is a talented writer, and I can’t wait to read many more of her books…”—Carol Ann Culbert Johnson, MyShelf.com

“Millenia Black is a mistress at neatly laying out each part of the story, like building an elaborate building that forms a fascinating whole. She clearly and succinctly draws verbal pictures of each character and their interrelationships with each other. It is masterful…”—Jeri Neal, The Romance Reader’s Connection

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About the Author:

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No one does family and relationship drama quite like bestselling author Millenia Black! Heralded as a double life and relationship expert, she’s been a featured guest on radio shows across the country, discussing the 7 Smoke Signals Your Man is Living a Double Life.

Millenia lives in Florida where she’s currently unmarried and has never dated anyone living a double life…

She thinks.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

If you would like to enter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card, or 1 of 5 Audible copies of Raindrops on Roses, or 1 of 5 digital copies of Raindrops on Roses, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/59f04dbb4

Cover Reveal: Pocket Full of Tinder by Jill Archer

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We’re excited to be sharing the cover of Jill Archer’s newest title with you all, and wish to offer our thanks to Bewitching Book Tours for letting us participate in the reveal! =^.^=

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Title: Pocket Full of Tinder

Author: Jill Archer

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: TBA

Publisher: Black Willow

Series: Noon Onyx #4

Noon Onyx is back! In this long-awaited fourth installment, Jill Archer returns readers to the dangerous world of Halja, where demons, angels, and humans coexist in an uneasy state of détente.

Maegester-in-Training Noon Onyx feels like she’s done it all – mastered fiery magic, become an adept fighter, learned the law, killed countless demons, and survived having her heart broken by both love and an arrow, but now she’ll face her greatest challenge yet…

Far to the north lies an outpost famous for its unrest – Rockthorn Gorge. The town’s patron has specifically requested Noon’s help. Her assignment? Help the neophyte demon lord build his fiefdom and keep what’s his. The problem? Lord Aristos – Noon’s new employer – is her erstwhile lover, Ari Carmine, the aforementioned heartbreaker. And the number one thing he wants is her.

When Rockthorn Gorge’s viaduct is destroyed by Displodo, an enigmatic bomber, killing a dozen settlers and wounding scores more, Noon sets off early to aid in the search and rescue. Ari is listed among the missing and the suspects are legion. But Noon’s search is just the beginning. Her journey forces Noon to confront not only those she loves, but also enemies hell-bent on destroying them.

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Add to your Goodreads shelf:

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And don’t miss the first three books in the series! Click on the covers below to read Willow’s reviews & learn more.

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Excerpt:

POCKET FULL OF TINDER
Noon Onyx #4

The claw-and-ball had been chewed clean off. It lay on a patch of sunny parquet floor, just to the right of an antique, aubergine wool rug now covered with the splintered remnants of an eleventh century pedestal table and one very large, ghastly looking, somewhat repentant barghest.

Nova’s head rested on her front paws as her gaze shifted warily from me to Miss Bister, Megiddo’s dormater, or house mother.

“Megiddo’s lobby is not a kennel, Miss Onyx. That”—she motioned dismissively toward Nova—“beast can no longer be housed here.”

I opened my mouth to respond, but Miss Bister continued speaking, her tone rising only infinitesimally, her back as stiff as Luck’s lance must have been, and her expression just as hard. She pointed toward the previously priceless, three-footed piece of furniture that was now a worthless, two-footed pile of kindling.

“No amount of money – or magic – can fix that, Nouiomo. It’s beyond repair. I warned you. I made an exception to my ‘no pets’ rule because you never cause trouble. You never forget your key; you promptly pick up your deliveries; you change your own light bulbs; you double bag your trash. You leave nothing behind in the bathroom; you don’t monopolize the washing machines; you are exceedingly polite to the lift operator; you don’t sing in the shower.”

I suppressed a sigh. After a year and a half of painstaking efforts, harrowing experiences, and endless hours of education, my worth had just been measured by the fact that I could change a light bulb. I’d mastered fiery magic, become an adept fighter, learned the law, killed countless demons (one regrettably, the others much less so), freed myriad immortals from an accursed, tortured bondage, and survived having my heart nearly destroyed by both love and an arrow, yet none of that meant bupkis next to the fact that I double bagged my trash. And yet…

I couldn’t really argue with Miss Bister either. Everything she’d said was true. And who was I to tell her what she should deem important? I respected that she valued domestic order and antiques. I did too, if not nearly as much as I valued the thing that now threatened our continued access to such. I glared at Nova, who swept one paw over her eyes as if she could hide from me and the evidence of what she’d done.

Barghests are giant hellhounds. They’re bigger than bears, fiercer than rabid raccoons, and uglier than naked mole rats. Their teeth are the size of railroad spikes, their claws as sharp as a sickle, their breath as foul as sewage gas. But they are also affectionate, brave, and loyal. What barghests lack in magic, they make up for in devotion. And even though I was plenty mad at Nova for chewing up Miss Bister’s table, I also knew it wasn’t Nova’s fault.

It was mine – for thinking the lobby of a demon law school dormitory would be a good place to keep her.

“Miss Bister, please,” I said. “I’m truly sorry. I know I can’t replace that exact table. But if you would just allow me to—”

“No,” Miss Bister said simply. “Either the beast goes… Or you do.”

I stared at the small, frail, magicless woman in front of me, trying desperately to think of some way to fix this problem. Wasn’t there something I could do, or say, or offer her that would make amends and convince her not to kick us out?

But all I could think of was how useless some of the things our society valued most were. As Miss Bister had pointed out, neither magic nor money would help. If I was going to repair the table, I’d need to find another way. Which would take time. And that meant I’d need to find somewhere else for us to sleep tonight. Because if the beast was going… I was too.

“Yes, Miss Bister,” I said. “I understand.”

She narrowed her eyes, slightly suspicious of my now gracious defeat since I’d just spent the last half-hour trying to persuade her to accept various forms of reparation. But then she nodded, handed me a couple of paper bin bags, and left.

I slid one bag inside the other and stooped down to pick up the slobbery remains of Nova’s mangled chew toy. When I finished, she came over to me and nudged my arm with her head. She let out a woofy whine.

Was she sorry? She darn well better be!

I gave her a scratch behind the ears.

“Now that you’ve sharpened your teeth on my former dormater’s furniture, are you ready to eat some real food for breakfast?”

About the Author:

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Jill Archer writes dark, genre-bending fantasy from rural Maryland. Her novels include Dark Light of Day, Fiery Edge of Steel, White Heart of Justice, and Pocket Full of Tinder. She loves cats, coffee, books, movies, day tripping, and outdoor adventuring.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

If you’d like to enter for your chance to win a $25 eGift Card to a bookstore of your choice, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112ffc1446

Mimi’s Review of Bury the Living by Jodi McIsaac

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I’d like to thank Tasty Book Tours for letting be host Jodi McIsaac on the blog today, and I’d also like to extend my purrsonal thanks to 47North for providing a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. To see all of the blogs participating in the tour, please kindly click on the banner above. =^.^=

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Rating: paw3

Publisher: 47North

Date Released: September 6, 2016

Series: The Revolutionary #1

Goodreads Description:

Rebellion has always been in the O’Reilly family’s blood. So when faced with the tragic death of her brother during Northern Ireland’s infamous Troubles, a teenage Nora joined the IRA to fight for her country’s freedom. Now, more than a decade later, Nora is haunted by both her past and vivid dreams of a man she has never met.

When she is given a relic belonging to Brigid of Kildare, patron saint of Ireland, the mystical artifact transports her back eighty years—to the height of Ireland’s brutal civil war. There she meets the alluring stranger from her dreams, who has his own secrets—and agenda. Taken out of her own time, Nora has the chance to alter the fortunes of Ireland and maybe even save the ones she loves. In this captivating and adventurous novel from Jodi McIsaac, history belongs to those with the courage to change it.

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Review:

This was an interesting read to what I feel is going to be a promising series. Blending historical fiction with fantasy, McIsaac’s book is one that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for something new to try and/or has an interest in Irish history and mythology. I certainly plan on reading the next book in the series when it becomes available.

Nora was a character whom I both liked and found annoying at times. While I could easily understand where she was coming from as a teenager at the start of the book, I felt at times that she was a bit too stubborn and angry as the story progressed. Despite this I enjoyed watching her character grow and I suspect that as the series continues she’ll become one of those character whom I’ll count amongst my favorites later on. She’s certainly strong-minded, willing to fight, and loyal, all of which are traits that I admire. I also have to applaud her focusing her energy on humanitarian aid missions in other countries.

While there may be those readers who would be put off by the focus on Irish history and politics within the story, I found it intriguing. Yes, I did feel that at times there was probably too much attention given to the political side of things, but I also felt that it needed to be discussed in order to fully understand both everything that was going on plot-wise and Nora’s character. Without the historical and political attention Nora would just come across as an angry teenager at the start of the book and any compassion that the reader would have for her would be minimal. Understanding the struggle and horror that was The Troubles, or the Irish Civil War is important for the success of the story. And yet, as I said there were times where I felt it was a tad overdone. It took too long to get to the heart of Nora’s story, which was why she is sent back in time, and that aggravated me greatly.

It isn’t until the last 25% of the book that we start to learn why Nora was really sent back in time, and this was when the book truly started to pick up for me. Prior to this I felt that the book dragged greatly because there was so much focus on the politics and history, and regardless of how interesting I found it to be, I wanted to experience more of Nora’s interactions with “Thomas” instead. There are so many questions that I have now about his character and I was disappointed that McIsaac didn’t delve much into his character. Here’s hoping that in the next book we’ll see and learn more of him.

Despite this one issue, I still enjoyed the story. I especially loved the Celtic mythology and hope that we get more of it as the series continues. And if I’m to be honest, as soon as I finished reading this book, I pulled out a few of my books on Celtic mythology to read up more on Brigid and learn more about Fionn mac Cumhaill. There’s nothing I love more than studying myths and legends from other cultures, so I must give McIsaac some purrs of appreciation for including these in her story.

Overall I feel that there is a little something for everyone in this book, and it certainly is a good start to a series that holds a lot of promise, so I would encourage readers to give it a try and discover for themselves what the story has to offer. And yes, I will be reading book two when it becomes available. No way would I miss an opportunity to read about Grace O’Malley, Ireland’s infamous Pirate Queen!

Excerpt:

Belfast, 1990

When she was fifteen years old, a simple knock on the door changed Nora O’Reilly’s life—again. The knock was hard and impatient, like the people in her neighbor-hood. Nora ignored it. Maybe, just this once, her mother would rouse herself off the sofa. But no. Her mother hadn’t answered the door since the day Nora’s father had done so and been thanked for his trouble with a bullet through the eye. Nora’s small red footprints had tracked across the beige linoleum. The saint Brigid’s cross that had hung over the doorway for as long as Nora could remember had failed in its promise to protect them.

Ten years had passed, and now the linoleum was more gray than beige. Nora slipped to the front window and peered out. It was the middle of the afternoon; she’d only just arrived home from school. There’d been no warning of a raid—no banging of dustbin lids on the sidewalks to announce that the peelers had dared venture into Andersonstown. Two men she didn’t recognize stood on her doorstep. They must be looking for Eamon.

Nora opened the door a crack. The first man jammed his black boot into the opening. Ballix. Adrenaline flooded her body. She shoved the door against his foot, berating her stupidity. What had she been thinking? What if these men were Prods, come to finish off the rest of them?

“Relax, kid. We just want to talk.” The man forced the door open farther. “You Nora O’Reilly?”

“Depends on who’s asking. Who’re you?” He had bottlebrush hair and wore a brown leather bomber jacket. He looked old enough to be her father, only her father had been wiry, and this man looked like a rugby fullback. His companion had a thin, sharp face and kept looking over his shoulder.

“Doesn’t matter. We’ve been told to fetch you.”

“Fetch me where?” Nora tried to push the door closed again, her mind lurching. Whoever these men were, she wasn’t going anywhere with them.

“The commanding officer of West Battalion has a few questions about your extracurricular activities. C’mon now. Let’s go without a fight.”

Nora’s fear turned to dread. “Like hell I’m going with youse.” She stamped on his foot, but he responded by putting his shoulder to the door and sending it flying. Nora staggered backward, colliding with the coat rack.

Shite, shite, shite. She scrabbled to her feet. She’d almost rather be caught by the Brits. The Provisional IRA didn’t tolerate petty crime in their area, and they certainly didn’t believe in such luxuries as courts and trials.

“Ma! Ma!” she screamed. Her mother would know these men; Nora’s father had been a PIRA member from the beginning.

Her mother came padding into the hall, still in her dressing gown, weaving slightly, a glass of whiskey clutched in her hand. “Paddy Sullivan, what is the meaning of this?”

“Sorry, Mrs. O’Reilly, but O’Connor wants to see her. Seems she’s been selling drugs up at the school.”

Think, Nora, think. She grappled for an explanation, a plausible denial, anything that would get her out of this. But panic clogged her brain, and all she could think was I’m fucked.

She didn’t know her mother could move so fast. Suddenly they were nose to nose. “Oh, aye? Is that true?” Mrs. O’Reilly demanded.

“No, it’s a load of shite!” Nora protested.

“You watch your language. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, what am I going to do with you? What would your poor father say?” Her mother shook her head, then turned back to the PIRA men.

“Whatever she’s done, we’ll take care of it here, so we will. Youse all head out, now.”

“Sorry, Mrs. O’Reilly, but we’ve got our orders.” Paddy nodded to his companion, who brushed past Nora and her mother and pounded up the stairs toward the bedrooms.

“Oi! Houl on! Youse said you just wanted to talk!” Nora shouted after him. Mrs. O’Reilly looked like she was about to follow, but Paddy laid a hand on her arm.

“Just let him do his job,” he said.

“Ma, I’ve done nothing wrong! I swear it!” a faint sheen broke out on her forehead, and the blood drained from her fair skin.

The sound of drawers being emptied and furniture being overturned traveled down the stairs. Mrs. O’Reilly sank down into a kitchen chair and took a large gulp of whiskey. she set the glass down with a clunk and put her head in her hands.

“Ach, Nora, I’ve tried my best with you, sure I have. Where is Eamon?”

“He went out with the lads,” Nora mumbled. She glanced toward the door.

“Don’t you be thinking of doing a runner,” Paddy warned. He wrapped his meaty hand around Nora’s upper arm.

“I’m not! But youse wait until Eamon gets home. He’ll sort youse out all right.”

“She’s quite the lip on her, hasn’t she?” Paddy said to the slumped form of her mother.

Loud footsteps on the stairs made them all look up. Paddy’s friend tossed him a clear plastic jar of tiny white pills.

“Oh, aye, what’s this, then?” Paddy asked.

“It’s not mine! I don’t know where you got it,” Nora said.

“I got it from your room,” the other man said with a sneer. “Unless you’re telling us your ma or your brother put it there?”

“Don’t be an eejit,” Nora spat.

“Nora! Are you trying to get yourself killed?” Mrs. O’Reilly said, locking her watery gaze on her daughter. “Do you think I don’t have enough trouble as it is? Answer the man! Is this yours? What’s in that bottle?”

“I don’t know. I said they’re not mine. Headache pills, prob’ly.”

“Oh, aye?” Paddy said, his grin widening. “With wee happy faces stamped on them? Looks like a fine stash o’ Molly to me.”

“It’s not,” Nora said. She stared at the floor, letting her lank red hair fall forward to hide her face.

“Right, we’ll be off, then,” said Paddy. “We’ll bring her back after.”

“Where are youse taking her?” Mrs. o’Reilly asked. “Can’t say. She’ll not be hurt. But O’Connor wants to talk to her himself, so he does.”

“Then tell him he should come here!” Nora said.

They ignored her.

Mrs. O’Reilly groaned. “Maybe he can talk some sense into her. But sure and you’ll be bringing her back here as soon as he’s asked his questions.”

“Aye,” Paddy said. “Don’t you worry. No one’ll be hurting Jimmy’s daughter.”

“Ma! You’re not letting them take me?” Nora’s brown eyes widened with panic. “They’ll knee me, so they will!” She’d seen it once, a man with both kneecaps shot through. She could still hear his screams, see the blood running down his legs. But then again, he’d been lucky not to get a bullet in the head, like her father.

“You and I both know they’ll not give us a choice, now, don’t we? Go on with the lads, and answer their questions,” her mother answered, pulling herself unsteadily to her feet. “Mind you be polite. Maybe you’ll listen to Mick O’Connor more than you do your own mother.”

With a nod to Mrs. O’Reilly, Paddy and his friend each took hold of one of Nora’s scrawny arms and dragged her out the front door toward a waiting van.

“Someone help! I’m being kidnapped!” Nora yelled, craning her head frantically in search of a savior. Neighbors peeked out from behind curtains, and two boys stopped their game of football down the street to stare. No one came forward.

“Shut yer gub!” Paddy said, giving her a rough shove into the van. “I told yer ma we wouldn’t hurt you for your da’s sake, but if you make it hard for us, all bets are off.”

“Eamon!” she yelled, clinging to the door, hoping her brother was somewhere nearby. He’d stand up to the Provos. He’d protect her. “Eamon!”

About the Author:

authorphoto_jodimcisaac

Jodi McIsaac is the author of several novels, including A Cure for Madness and the Thin Veil Series. She grew up in New Brunswick, on Canada’s east coast. After abandoning her Olympic speed skating dream, she wrote speeches for a politician, volunteered in a refugee camp, waited tables in Belfast, earned a couple of university degrees, and started a boutique copywriting agency. She loves running, geek culture, and whiskey.

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