Review Excerpts


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Setting the Pace

As promised, here are some spoiler-free thoughts on Mass Effect: Andromeda. The game's been out for almost a month and I'm not finished with it yet (how's that for pacing?), and I'm really not sure how much I have left to go. Based on the level requirements to unlock certain things, I think there's still a decent amount left, but I can't say for sure. That said, I've played enough of it to spout off some of my thoughts and how they relate to storytelling.

So far, I'm really enjoying the game. Some parts of it have been frustrating, but the good stuff more than makes up for it. While I do love Dragon Age: Inquisition, as we all know (the previous BioWare game), I wouldn't say the game was without its faults. MEA has improved on the elements I took issue with, which I appreciate.

As the title of this post indicates, I'm going to talk about pacing. That was my number one qualm with DAI, in that the pacing seemed really uneven and just...off. There are certain plot points you have to hit in order to progress the main plot, and in some cases, you can choose the order in which you do them, but the sheer number of side quests (many optional, to be fair) killed the sense of urgency for me. And what really bugged me was that the main plot quests were SO GOOD. Like, I distinctly recall staying up way too late while playing one of them because I HAD to know what happened next (a mark of good storytelling). I wish there had been more of that instead of Fetch Quest #2837.

To be fair, the structure of MEA isn't too dissimilar, but something about it flows better for me. Maybe it's because all the little side quests add up to a bigger whole, or contribute more to the overall story. It's funny, in DAI, the Big Bad is established relatively early on and you know your goal is to defeat him. In MEA, I'm pretty sure, though not positive, I know who the final boss is going to be, but the overall goal is just making a safe place for your people to live. You'd think that the game with the more defined goal would be the one with better pacing, but it's not working out that way for me.

Moving on! The other issue I had with DAI is that I thought there were way too many characters, and as such, not all of them felt as developed and well-written as they could have been. (For the record, I said the same exact thing about Mass Effect 2.) MEA pared down the number of companions and as a result, I don't feel like any of them are useless or redundant. Sure, there are some I like better than others, but even my least favorite has a detailed background and has had some good moments.

I'll stop here before this gets too long. I know you're all wondering about the romances, because obviously that's the main reason people play these games ( ;) ). I've chosen who I'm going to pursue the first time around, but the romance hasn't progressed super far, so I'll get back to you on that!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Spring into Romance Blog Hop and Giveaway!



Spring is here! What better time to share our favorite reads for the season? Join in and tell everyone about what new reads you're excited about!

For my stop on the hop, I'm giving away an e-copy of Elysium. The book takes place in the spring, and for good reason—themes include new beginnings, taking a chance on a new romance, and all sorts of other ideas we associate with the season. (Heck, the heroine's name is even April!) All the participating sites are hosting giveaways, so be sure to check them all out!

 

And here's the blurb and giveaway for Elysium. Good luck, and happy spring!


Two years have passed since April Patterson’s husband was shot and killed in the line of duty, and she’s trapped in a haze of grief and uncertainty. Having grown frustrated by all other efforts to engage her in activities where she could meet new people, her cousin pays for a date via 1Night Stand. Not thrilled with the idea, April nevertheless contacts Madame Eve and requests the impossible: a date with her deceased husband.

Brilliant software engineer Drew Monroe created his company, Elysium, to help give closure to those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, through the use of virtual reality. Though passionate about his work, being constantly surrounded by heartache and death has taken a toll on his mental health. When he accepts the case of a young widow referred to him by Madame Eve, her tragic tale depresses him further, but he commits himself to programming April the romantic date she desires.

April arrives at Elysium and prepares to enter Drew’s virtual realm. Will she find the solace she seeks within? Or will she discover she doesn’t need a fantasy world to discover happiness again? 

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Seductive Suspect - Coming Soon!

One little revision later, and the paperwork's all done for Seductive Suspect! Watch this space in the future for more details like the cover, the release date, and other fun things. For now, have a blurb, which might change since I'm still terrible at writing them*:

When Veronica Campbell agrees to take her sister’s place at a murder mystery weekend getaway, she has no idea what’s in store for her. The events at the mountaintop lodge get off to a good start, especially when she meets Adam, the handsome man staying in the room next door. By the end of the first night, however, the role-playing games take a dark turn when one of the participants is killed for real.

Violent storms and sabotaged cars trap the guests at the lodge with no escape. In addition to the danger lurking around every corner, Veronica must deal with her growing attraction to Adam. Despite trying to keep her distance from him, she struggles to resist his flirtatious charms.

One by one, the number of guests dwindles as the murderer continues to strike. The longer they survive, the more Veronica worries she’s falling for Adam. Can she trust his intentions, or has she wound up in the arms of a cold-blooded killer?


*I'll be totally honest here, this blurb was originally scribbled on a piece of scrap paper while I let the kids watch The Price is Right. I did edit it, at least, when I went to type it up. :P

Friday, March 31, 2017

Promo - Fiery 10-16, by Lea Bronsen


I'm taking a short break from playing Mass Effect: Andromeda (more on that soon, just know that it's GOOOOOD) to bring you a hot Hot HOT new release from Lea Bronsen. Seriously, there's plenty of fire and heat in Fiery 10-16, a dark romantic suspense. Keep reading for the blurb and featured excerpt!

Blurb:
Runo Wiggins is a scarred man, the wounds etched into his psyche deeper than those on his skin. But he loves his job: fighting fires helps reenact his survival of a house fire as a teen, one that killed his mother and brutal stepfather.

Dawn Caravello is married to a psychotic drunk. She can take his beatings as long as he doesn't touch their children, and she'll do anything to put food on the table, even if it means stealing from the town hero.

When Runo meets the fiery Dawn, sparks fly. But he suspects she is victim of the same abuse as his mother was. As day turns to night, the past and the present blend in an exhausting, nerve-wrecking chase to prevent another death.


Excerpt:
Dawn's eyes shimmered with a mix of stubborn pride and extreme sadness. They seemed to be made of molten brown stone. Runo had never seen eyes like these. So vibrant, saying so many things. They revealed her life, her endurance, her dreams, her combats, her despair. And she was still so young.

While he stared, she leaned forward and kissed him, an act a whole lot more intimate than he was comfortable with. A short, hard peck, a statement. Not the tender gesture a kiss was supposed to be, but one telling him her gratitude as well as her dignity. She thanked him, but was going to go back to her life and continue fighting.

He stood shocked, his entire body rigid, didn’t know what to do. She, such a small woman thing a whole head shorter, shook him, a giant of muscle and stupid testosterones inside a hard shell.

He would definitely take care of Dawn and her kids. Any way possible. Alert the authorities and make sure they got the protection they desperately needed.

She stepped backward, her features softening, and turned on her heel.

Not so fast.

He cleared his throat and called, lifting a weak hand. “Hey, wait!” His heart hammered in his chest, blood pulsed in his ears.

She turned. “What?”

“Promise to be good. Promise it’s the last time you do it.”

“Do what?” Her eyes gleamed with humor. “Kiss you?” In the midst of this emotional turmoil, she found the strength to tease.

“Steal.”

And lie.

She pursed her lips, looking like a disappointed little girl. Maybe she still was a child inside. A child taking care of children. A child beaten savagely.

He swallowed. “Promise.”

After several long seconds, she nodded. But her gaze told a different truth.

Liar.


Buy Links:


Add the book to your Goodreads list!
 

About the Author:


I like my reads hot, fast, and edgy, and strive to give my own stories the same intensity. After venturing into dirty inner-city crime drama with my debut novel Wild Hearted, I divide my writing time between psychological thriller, romantic suspense, and erotic dark/contemporary romance.

I love to hear from my readers! Write to leabronsen@yahoo.com or meet me on:
 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Everything is In Order

While I didn't hit my original deadline of finishing up Seductive Suspect by the end of February, I did get it done before the release of Mass Effect: Andromeda next week. We'll put that in the win column! So that's all taken care of, and I have another ten days to loaf around (and maybe replay some Dragon Age: Inquisition on my shiny new laptop that I bought for ME:A).

I've mentioned it before, but I'm the type of writer who needs to write in order. That method has its pros and cons, and I'm certainly not going to argue with the people who write their scenes as they come because hey, whatever gets the words on the page. For me, though, when I go in order, I wind up thinking about the final, climactic scenes SO much, by the time I get there, writing is just plain fun. The words fly out of my fingers, and it's a far more enjoyable process than "okay, how am I going to connect Point A to Point B here?" I don't mind waiting for the reward as opposed to getting the fun stuff done first and then having to tie it all together. (But again! Whatever works!)

(Incidentally, the knitting project I'm working on now is similar - the body of the cardigan is done in one color in plain stockinette on tiny little needles, and I'm not going to lie. It's been a bit of a slog. But once I get to the colored yoke, HOLY CRAP IT'S GOING TO BE SO MUCH FUN!)

(My knitting friends may think I'm a bit nuts, too.)

Getting back to writing! Interestingly enough, despite all the nights I lay awake hashing out every single detail about those last thrilling chapters, I did wind up tweaking a few details once I got there. Nothing major, just some bits I thought made the plot flow a little better. I suppose it just emphasizes that no process is perfect. Either way, I'm happy with the end result, so stay tuned for more updates!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Cover Reveal - No Rest for the Wicked, by Krystal Jane Ruin



Today we have some exciting news! Long-time writing buddy and fellow author Krystal Jane Ruin has a new book coming out later in the spring, and I am THRILLED to be participating in her cover reveal. As well we all should be, because that's a pretty badass cover, right? Ogle it for a few more minutes, and then keep reading for more details about the book. The release date isn't until May 10th, but lucky us, it's already available for pre-order!

Synopsis:
Since her release from the psychiatric facility and into the smothering guardianship of her aunt, twenty-one-year-old psychic Tatum Torabi has been sneaking away to sell curses and plagues in the underground, a black market known for illegal and supernatural wares.

Tatum’s unique abilities catch the attention of a hella-creepy trash peddler who offers her a job tracking down people who owe his boss “a favor.” She couldn’t be less interested, but when she refuses, the company forces her compliance by threatening the lives of the only family she has left.

Because tracking barely scratches the surface of what they really want from her. There’s a reason Tatum is so good at making curses, and they want her to use those skills for a much darker purpose.



Buy Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34329188-no-rest-for-the-wicked

Pre-order: https://www.amazon.com/Rest-Wicked-Krystal-Jane-Ruin-ebook/dp/B06WD6JJKT


About the Author:

Krystal Jane Ruin is the author of supernatural and paranormal fiction living in the Tennessee Valley. She can often be found knee deep in Sudoku and other puzzles, in a Youtube hole, or blogging about books, writing, and random things.


Author links:
http://krystaljaneruin.net/
https://twitter.com/planetkrystal
https://www.facebook.com/krystaljaneruin/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16465460.Krystal_Jane_Ruin 


 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

These Things Happen

I don't remember if I've ever mentioned it here before, but I suffer from chronic illness. Well, "suffer" probably isn't the best word - I was diagnosed nearly 20 years ago (eep!), and there's definitely been a ton of ups and downs. Lately I've been in one of those valleys, which resulted in a five-day hospital stay. It had been about six years since that happened last, so I really can't complain too much.

This post isn't meant to be a whiny rant, or a pity party. These things happen, and while the situation may suck right now, it's bound to get better sooner or later. It should go without saying that a lot of things fell by the wayside when I wasn't feeling well, and writing was one of them. At this point, I'm probably not going to meet my self-imposed deadline for this book. Meh.

But. BUT! As anyone who's ever been in one will tell you, hospitals are boring. I wasn't on my deathbed or anything, just in need of some IV drugs (and maybe a little more rest than I get at home with two toddlers running amok). I actually read some books, and then I had the bright idea to tell Mr. Landen to bring me a brand new shiny notebook and some pens. Brilliant, I say.

I managed to successfully extricate myself from marathons of Say Yes to the Dress and Law & Order: SVU and get some writing done. And, of course, I was right at the scene where the romance really kicks off, but awkward or not, I forged ahead. So yeah, there I was, curled up in a hospital bed with an IV in my hand, writing all sorts of dirty words in my notebook.

As I said, these things happen. That's got to earn me some street cred in the smut-writing world, right?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Valentine's Day Giveaway!

Well, February totally snuck up on me. It's hard to believe the first month of the year is over already! There's snow over here on the ground, so let's think warm thoughts and prepare for Valentine's Day with some free stuff! Follow the directions below, and then keep scrolling for my own giveaway - a free e-copy of what's probably my most traditional romance, Second Skin.
 
We're spreading some Valentine's Day love with a giveaway full of chocolate, books, and pretty things! 
To enter fill out the Rafflecopter then hit the comments and tell us about something YOU love. Your favorite author, book, or blog. Tell us about your true love, your kids, your best friend or your pets. Anything you love. We want to hear about what makes your heart full or just makes you smile.
Enter the Giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And now for the blurb for Second Skin, plus another Rafflecopter. You know the drill by now.

Anna’s career as a high-level CIA operative is put on involuntary hiatus. When a trusted colleague passes along the information for the 1Night Stand service, Anna decides to take the plunge against her better judgment and seek some intimate company. But her CIA instincts can’t be ignored, and when she contacts Madame Eve, she uses an alias.

Brendan owns a lucrative manufacturing company, but he’s yet to achieve the goal of finding a woman with whom he can share his successes and joys. But beneath his polished, capable exterior hides the painfully shy teenager he’s never been able to escape. When his own efforts in the dating scene fall short, he turns to 1Night Stand.

It would be so easy to fall in love with Brendan, and Anna’s protective mask slides away, piece-by-piece, revealing more of herself than she should dare. Before she can slip away with the sunrise, Brendan shows their encounter in a new light. Will Anna take a chance on their future, or will she choose to return to her undercover, but lonely life? 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 27, 2017

Promo - The Boss of Me, by Merryn Dexter



Time for another 1 Night Stand! Merryn Dexter's latest contribution to the ongoing series, The Boss of Me, comes out today. Ogle her spectacular cover for a few more moments, and then read on for an exciting excerpt!

Blurb:
Dear Madame Evangeline…
Lou Jones loves her job, but she can’t ignore the attraction she feels for her boss, Daniel Smith. She contacts the 1Night Stand dating service hoping a little fantasy role play will help her get over her crush.

I want to see you in my office…
Daniel can’t believe his eyes, or his luck, when a misplaced letter gives him a shocking insight into the erotic thoughts of his personal assistant. The chance to satisfy her fantasies and make his own dreams come true is too tempting to resist.

This is fantasy, nothing more…
As they explore their every desire, Lou and Daniel find keeping reality at bay is harder than they thought. Will their 1Night Stand deliver the satisfaction Madame Eve prides herself upon, or are they just too close for comfort?

Excerpt:
“Bring the file here and place it on my desk.” He settled more comfortably into his chair, steepled his fingers beneath his chin, and admired the sway of her lush hips. She placed the file down as instructed then folded her hands in front of her, eyes still averted. Schooling his need with an iron control, Daniel waited.

Her chest rose and fell, the slight hitch in her breath pressing her breasts against the thin silk of her blouse. The tip of her tongue peeked out, dampening her coral-pink lips, and a bolt of lust drove him from the chair. Ignoring Lou, he strode to the door and locked it. He doubted there were many people left in the building at that time of day on a Friday, but he wouldn’t risk anyone interrupting them.

Pacing back to the center of the room, he stopped to admire the hourglass lines of her figure. The heels looked even better from the back. Balancing on their slender points gave extra definition to her calf muscles.

“Do you know why I summoned you, Ms. Jones?”

Her breath seemed to catch in her throat. Her voice barely above a whisper, she said, “No, Mr. Smith.”

“You will call me Daniel.” The visceral need for her to know who was about to touch her surprised him. He wanted to hear his name on her lips as she sighed, moaned, and fell apart at his command. Her head bobbed in acquiescence, and he spoke again. “I summoned you because you canceled our appointment this evening.”

She half-turned, seemed to catch herself, and straightened to face the front again. A thrill of satisfaction curled in his gut. Each little act of submission from her proved sexy as hell. “Did you do as I requested?” he asked. Her skirt clung to her hips and ass with no hint of a panty line, but he couldn’t be sure.

“Yes,” she murmured.

A bolt of lust rocked him on his heels. He wanted to crawl on his hands and knees and fawn at her feet, but she had been very specific in her email—her fantasy required him to be the boss, to take control and dictate his desires upon her.

“Show me.” The rasp in his voice couldn’t be helped; his body tingled with anticipation. Her hands gripped the hem of her skirt and began to raise it, inch by tantalizing inch. The material cleared the back of her knees, gliding higher to reveal the lacy tops of her thigh-high stockings, the soft expanse of her tanned thighs.



Buy Links:




About the Author:


Merryn Dexter is a military spouse who, after a varied employment career (from selling sandals to old ladies with bunions to being a health and safety coordinator for a construction company), is thrilled to be pursuing her dream career as a romance writer. She likes The Winchesters, Spike, Hotch, Loki and watching complicated European Noir. Her hobbies include crying at books, crying at movies, crying at tv serials (there’s a theme!) and believes all stories should have a Happy Ending. 

Contact links