Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Author Interview ~ Lori Foster, author of No Limits


No Limits (Ultimate, #1)

A surprise inheritance reunites a mixed martial arts fighter with the woman he's never forgotten in the first in a smoldering new series from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster...

Cannon Colter is quintessential hero material: chiseled jawline, shredded body—the works. He's also the guy who rescued Yvette Sweeny from kidnappers, only to put an end to her romantic dreams. These days, she's older, smarter, determined to face whatever life throws her way. Even the prospect of sharing a house and business with Cannon.

Cannon knew Yvette wanted him three years ago. But she was young—and some things are worth waiting for. Thrown together by her grandfather's legacy, he realizes how deep Yvette's scars really go, and how much danger lurks in their quiet town. As pent-up desire explodes between them, protecting her becomes the only fight that matters. And he'll break all the rules to do it…


1. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release, NO LIMITS?

This is Cannon’s story, a character that readers met in my last series, Love Undercover. From the second Cannon showed up on the page, I knew he’d get his own story. He’s that kind of guy, the guy who steps up and takes notice and gets a lot of notice in return. In NO LIMITS, Cannon reunites with Yvette, another character from the previous series. They parted under strained circumstances, with Cannon just heading into professional MMA and Yvette young and traumatized from a horrific threat. Cannon saved her then, but he was noble because of her age and what she’d been through. Now she’s older, more independent, and he’s ready to make up for lost time.

2. Can you also fill us in on the prequel to the series, HARD KNOCKS?

HARD KNOCKS gives readers a peek into the MMA world and the fighters who will have novels in the Ultimate series. You get to see the inside of Cannon’s gym, the set-up and what the guys do for the neighborhood, as well as the close relationships they share. It’s a short romance featuring Gage and Harper, two fun, strong people with a few romantic quirks to work out. It’s short and sexy and gives readers a taste for how the novels will be more about fighters in a romance than about fighters fighting in the cage.

3. How has your UFC obsession influenced the writing of NO LIMITS?

Well, I’ve gotten into the idea of picking silly fight names for the heroes. And from the fight names, I’ve come up with some “inspired” reasons for them. It also makes it easier to justify the guy being totally ripped – although not all fighters are. I’ve learned in actual fights the physical appearance can be deceiving. It’s more about heart and talent, training and speed, than how a guy looks. But naturally any hero I write about will be blessed with a six-pack and boulder shoulders.

4. What was it like getting inside the mind of a mixed martial arts fighter?

I’ve interviewed a few fighters over the years, chatted with others while getting promotional photos and during before and after “meet and greets” while at live events. Every single fighter I’ve met has been extremely nice, unassuming, dedicated to fans, and (though it sounds silly) very sweet. It took only a few questions to see how much they give to the sport they love, the discipline it takes to stay in training, and the confidence they gain from having extreme ability. Since I’ve never asked a fighter about his love life, that part of the story is pure imagination on my part. But then I only write good guys, and talented lovers.

5. What is your process for choosing names like Cannon Colter?

I’m a terrible cheat when it comes to names. More often than not I see a name on Facebook or Twitter that I like. I never, ever use a first and last name together, but I do pick and choose and mix and match. When I see a unique name, or a name that resonates with me, I grab it up. When I’m writing, I’m far less focused on names than I am on personality. Names for me are an afterthought, so stealing from my social media sites makes it easy.

6. What are Cannon and Yvette’s best physical traits?

Although Cannon is a fighter with a shredded bod, it’s more his smile and his eyes that get to Yvette. He has a very sincere smile, because he’s a very sincere guy. And when he looks at a person, it’s felt through and through.

For Yvette, she has long beautiful hair, but it’s more about the deceptive confidence she tries to exude that draws Cannon – that, and the way she looks at him like he’s a superhero. What guy could resist that?

7. What is the best scene (in your opinion) between Yvette and Cannon?

There’s a fun scene where Yvette is at the rec center (the gym) and the fighters start arguing. Cannon is irked, his buddies are irked, and Yvette thinks they might come to blows. She tries to put herself in the middle and sort of gets sandwiched between some pretty hot flesh. I smiled while writing it, so I hope readers smile when they read it.

The poor guys didn’t know what to think. They’re big, physical guys who don’t mind working out a few differences on the mat, but they’re also friends, and they’re fighters with a load of control often utilized in a fight. But with Yvette, they all want to be gentle – while struggling to figure her out.

8. What music did you listen to while writing NO LIMITS?

I have a long playlist of about 150 songs. Much of it is from KORN and Kid Rock and Marilyn Manson, but I’ve also really gotten into Disturbed, The Pretty Reckless, Papa Roach, Skillet and Puddle of Mud. Oh, and Cage the Elephant. I like loud, strong music that I can sing along with while I’m writing.

9. How is this series different from your previous works?

The Ultimate series is a different setting, different characters, different plots – and yet you still visit some of the characters from Love Undercover series since it remains in the same fictional city and state. In the last series the focus was on Rowdy’s bar and the police station. There are visits to the bar still, but much of the action takes place at Cannon’s rec center and in different houses owned by the characters.

The stories remain super-sexy, the guys remain alphas, the women remain smart and independent, and elements of suspense go throughout both series. But I hope each character has their own personality and for me, that’s where the differences should be most evident.

10. What character did you find yourself most drawn to, and why?

I love Armie Jacobson – and I’m pretty sure readers will too. He’s outrageous, too sexy, has effortless talent in the cage, and a wounded background that has influenced his life greatly. I love all the guys – Gage, Cannon, Denver, Stack... but Armie stands out.

11. Do you prefer writing about small town romance settings (like in NO LIMITS) or city settings?

I’m not sure I’ve ever written a large city setting. Smaller towns, always fictional, work best for me because I like the lack of anonymity in a small town. Everyone knows everyone, or has at least heard of everyone, and it can lead to some touching, and embarrassing, situations. I like the warmth of knowing your neighbors and caring about them. And I like the ease in creating the town.

12. Who would play Cannon and Yvette in a book-to-film adaptation?

Josh Duhamel, while a little too old, would make a fabulous Cannon! He’s big and gorgeous and built. I think he’d be perfect if NO LIMITS was ever made into a movie. For the heroine, Mila Kunis is beautiful and I can easily picture her as Yvette. They’d make a hot couple!

13. What are your five favorite verbs to use during a love scene?

Favorite verbs to use in a love scene... Only five, huh? Wow, that’s difficult. How about catch/caught, press, contract, nuzzle/nibble, lick/suck. I’m not sure I could write a full love scene without them.

14. Can you tell us about the process behind the cover artwork?

Ooooh, I LOVE getting new covers, it’s so exciting. The way it works is that I give my editor an idea of what the characters look like. Usually this means emailing her my own character sheets – notes I keep on the characters to detail (and help me remember) height, eye and hair color, body type, etc... I usually include any and all info like the car he/she drives, job description, age and any other pertinent information that I might need to recall from book to book.

My editor also asks for a synopsis, but since they usually start working on covers long before I know what the story is about, it’s a guessing game on my end. I know there’ll be a hunk, a heroine, some suspense, hot sex, lots of emotion, and a happy ending. The how and why is often not clear to me at that point.

Then the publisher has a meeting with the art department and they brainstorm cover ideas and come up with a concept that I get to see.

The concept is just an idea. It’ll show a model, but not THE model. It’ll show a pose, but not THE pose. I see where the placement of my name and the title will appear, along with any quotes.

Once that’s approved, the art department does a photo shoot and from those images they choose the one they like best. I weigh in with pleas of chest hair. Chest hair is always my #1 requirement if they show the model with his shirt off. To be clear, this is for new novels, not novellas or re-issues. For those they generally use stock art. It’s all very fun and I can honestly say I’ve loved the artwork so far.

15. If you were stranded on a desert island with one of your many characters, who would you choose and why?

Since I’m an enormous wimp and not at all heroic, I’d love to have Trace with me, from Trace of Fever. He’s bossy and take-charge and lethal. He knows what he’s doing, how to protect and how to survive. Plus I think he was pretty sexy.

If it needs to be a character from my current Ultimate series, I’d say Denver – for many of the same reasons. He’s far more autocratic than Cannon or Armie or Stack. He’s big, brawny, and when necessary he can be lethal. I’d feel safer with a real bad ass if I had to be stranded.

16. What was the most difficult part of the process when writing NO LIMITS?

My heart broke for Yvette. She’s one of more damaged heroines I’ve ever written (although there have been a few) and she struggled so hard for her independence. More than anything she wants Cannon, but because he’s so brave and strong she doesn’t feel quite worthy, and the stigma of being seen as a victim really hit her hard. I image something like that would be very, very difficult to overcome.

17. Have you written an outline for the NO LIMITS series or do you make it up as you go?

I totally make it up as I go along. Or I should say my characters make it up. I never try to figure things out in advance because as sure as I do, the characters will have a different idea and they’ll rebel, making it difficult to write until I give them their way. Fighting it is futile. But since they’re seldom wrong, it works for us. (And yes, I’m nuts. I don’t fight that either.)

Usually the characters will give me enough clues along the way to keep the writing flow steady. For instance, while I was writing NO LIMITS, Denver stepped up and talked about Cherry and made it clear his book needed to be next. Now while I’m writing HARD KNOCKS (Denver’s story) Stack is giving me nudges, saying, “Me next, me next. And I’m going after Vanity... whether she or I know it yet or not.” So that’s how I know Stack’s story will be after Denver’s.

Armie has said he wants to wait, stew on things a while, come to grips with his future... so I’m letting him get used to the idea of what is to come.

18. What was your go-to snack while writing NO LIMITS?

Goldfish cheese crackers and pretzels. Occasionally I drink Mountain Dew when I need more caffeine but I usually snack with Lipton Citrus Green Tea as my drink.

I also love baby carrots. And far too often I cave to the call of the Pringles can.

19. What’s your favorite part of the book?

There’s a fight scene in the book. Not a sporting match, but an angry, defensive, you-dared-touch-what-is-mine kind of aggression filled with rage and loss of control and an awakening of strong emotion. Call me barbaric but I love writing scenes like that. I love getting down to the basics of how love can affect a person, whether it’s in sex or fighting off danger or just showing vulnerability awareness. It’s the real stuff people are made of.

20. What are you working on next?

I’m writing Denver’s story right now, titled HOLDING STRONG. It’s due out in spring 2015 and I’m loving Denver and Cherry together – and them as a couple with the rest of the fighters around. It’s a very fun dynamic.

After that I’ll do another benefit novella for June 2015. It’ll be part of the Buckhorn family and all proceeds from sales of the book will go to a charity. I’m not yet sure which of the Buckhorn clan will be featured, but I’m sure it’ll all come to me in plenty of time.

And then I’ll jump into Stack’s story. He should be ready by then – which means I’ll also be ready. Luckily the characters keep me writing. In fact, if there were more hours in the day, I’m not sure they’d ever let me stop!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review: Slow Seduction by Cecilia Tan

Slow Satisfaction (Struck by Lightning, #3)Publish Date: August 26, 2014
Trade Paperback {p.297}
Genre: Erotica
Series: Struck by Lightning #3
Source: Publisher
Karen Casper, James
 
James has finally pushed Karina beyond her limit--not her limit for kinky sex play, but for his extreme secrecy. She has had enough and breaks things off. But James won't give up on Karina and will do whatever it takes to get her back. He's ready to share his deepest, darkest secrets, but is Karina ready to hear them?

James offers Karina not only the truth but a place at his side... onstage. He wants Karina to star in his final musical production and enter his life and his world fully and completely. As the two work together, they rekindle the trust and love they'd lost. But James's world is full of deceit. When he is blackmailed by an unscrupulous music industry executive, James must give in to unreasonable demands or risk exposure of his and Karina's secret sex life.

Will Karina and James's love be strong enough to withstand the many obstacles being thrown their way?
This story was just too far-fetched for me to get behind. I never bought their relationship from day one because of how Karina went along with the commands of a complete stranger no questions asked. From that point on it was downhill for me. with that being said I just skimmed the remainder of the book one and completely skipped book two altogether.

The book seemed as though it was going to be a good read, but Karina's complete lack of self preservation turned me off from the beginning. It never seemed to come back from that for me. Book three was a complete did-not-finish for me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Breathe by Kristen Ashley ~ Launch Day Blitz & Review

Breathe (Colorado Mountain, #4)Publish Date: August 26, 2014
Mass Market Paperback {p.610}
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Colorado Mountain #4
Source: Publisher
Faye Goodknight, Chace Keaton
 
There's nothing like the first time...

In Carnal, Colorado, Faye Goodknight is the town's quiet, shy librarian. She may also be Carnal's last remaining virgin. For years, Faye has had a crush on Chace Keaton, but the gorgeous cop has always been unattainable. She's resigned to live contentedly with only her books for company-until Faye suddenly meets Chace alone in the woods...

Chace doesn't think he's the good guy everyone believes him to be. He's made a lot of choices he regrets, including denying his feelings for Faye. Through his choices, he's come to believe the pretty librarian is too good for him, but after their time in the woods, Chace realizes that she may be his last chance for redemption. Soon, their long simmering desires grow to a burning passion. Yet always casting a shadow over their happiness is Chace's dark past...

I was a bit unsure if I was going to like Chace because of the way he was behaving toward Faye in the first couple of chapters. I wasn't sure how they were going to make it as a couple with him referring to her by calling her "fat ass" in not in the Kim K kind of way. Chace couldn't possible do worse than that to her, right? Wrong. She truly stuck it out for him, because it steadily got worse before it got better.

I never really developed a true connection with either of Faye or Chace. Plus, there didn't really seem to be a connection between them either. Their story just seemed to drag on entirely too long, with nothing truly happening. I did like Faye's family; they were a delightful treat.

Yet again I found myself re-reading sentences in an effort to make heads or tails of them. I just don't understand why it seems so difficult to structure a sentence. I just gave up on the last third of the book or so. It was just too long-winded with very little plot.
 
 
 
About the author:
Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write. Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake. Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up.  And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.
 
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review: The Bet by Rachel Van Dyken

The Bet (The Bet, #1)
Publish Date: April 19, 2014
Trade Paperback {p.255}
Genre: New Adult
Series: The Bet #1
Source: Public Library
Kacey, Travis Titus
"I have a proposition for you." Kacey should have run the minute those words left Seattle millionaire Jake Titus's mouth. It's been years since Kacey's seen her childhood friend Jake, but the minute Jake mentions his ill grandmother, Kacey is ready to do anything for the sweet old woman. And if that means pretending they're engaged for her sake-so be it.

But Kacey wasn't counting on Jake's older brother Travis still being there. She calls him "Satan" for a reason: she's never forgotten the way he teased and taunted her. Yet when they meet again, Travis's gorgeous smile is a direct hit to her heart . . . and Kacey's more confused than ever. As the days pass, only one thing starts to become alarmingly clear-she never should have accepted Jake's deal...
This was an entertaining read for me. I started laughing from page one and never stopped.

I truly enjoyed both Travis and Kacey. I loved how they interacted with each other. Their chemistry was amazing. I just ate up all their scenes together. Not only did I love these two, but Travis and Jake's grandmother. What a hoot. She sure kept everyone on their toes.

As far as characters I did not like, that would go to Jake, the other Titus brother. Which is disappointing because his book is next in the series, but I have no desire whatsoever to read more of him. He was a complete a**hole throughout the book and come to find out he was one as a child as well. I personally don't feel that there are any redeeming qualities for Jake.

Overall I loved this book, minus Jake. I want to keep going with the series because I loved Kacey, Travis and Grandma Nadine. If they don't have to be read in order to grasp the story, I may just skip to book three in the series.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

In My Mailbox {174}

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a weekly meme. Every week I'll post what books I've received either by mailbox/library/store.

I'll try to post an entry of IMM every Sunday that I receive books by mail/library/store of that week.





Books via Books-a-Million
Haven of ObediencePleasure's EdgeThe Secret of Ella and Micha (The Secret, #1)
Haven of Obedience by Marina Anderson
Pleasure's Edge by Eden Bradley
The Secret of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen

Books via Library
Saga, Volume 1
Sage by Brian K. Vaughan

Books via Paperback Swap
Dash of Peril (Love Undercover, #4)Love and LeftoversFifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades, #2)Too Hot to Handle (Jackson, #2)
Dash of Peril by Lori Foster
Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay
Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
Too Hot to Handle by Victoria Dahl

Books via Publisher
Bound by Night (MoonBound Clan Vampire, #1)The Last Breath
Bound by Night by Larissa Ione
The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle

Books via Reader Service
The Best Kind of Trouble (The Hurley Boys, #1)Falling for Max (Kowalski Family, #9)The Homecoming (Thunder Point, #6)Wedding Belles
Falling for Max by Shannon Stacey
The Homecoming by Robyn Carr
Wedding Belles by Beth Albright

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lady Luck by Kristen Ashley ~ Launch Day Blitz




“I know it’s fake but thank you, Ty. I never expected to have anything that nice and it is nice, no matter what. So thank you for giving it to me.”

He didn’t speak but his eyes changed, one of those changes I didn’t know, didn’t yet understand but this one was meaningful. They all were but this one was more meaningful than the rest.

A lot more.

And I couldn’t stop myself, his eyes so close, that look in them, my arms moved from around his shoulders, my hands framed his face, I leaned up and whispered, “Thank you.”
Then I pressed my lips to his.

View Ashley_Lady Luck_MM.jpg in slide showI meant to give him a soft kiss of gratitude. This was not to say I didn’t want to give him a long, hard, wet kiss of something else. And just what I wanted to give him and what that would lead to had also been filling my head space the last couple of days but that wasn’t where I intended to go just then. Not yet. Not with a house full of people downstairs waiting to eat fried chicken.

But when my mouth hit his, he didn’t give me the chance to give him a soft kiss of gratitude.

Instantly, his fingers slid up into my hair, cupping my head, and his mouth opened over mine making a demand.

Mine complied. His tongue spiked into my mouth and I liked the taste of it, I hadn’t had it in what seemed like a decade, I missed it and he tasted so fucking good my body pressed into his and not just because his arm around me grew super tight.

Then I was twisted, on my back in what was, I noted vaguely and was unbelievably happy for, a bed. His torso was on mine, his hips beside mine, his long, heavy leg moved to tangle with mine as his tongue moved in my mouth. I wrapped one arm around his back, one around his shoulders, my hand moving to cup the back of his head and hold him to me.

God, he couldn’t kiss. He could kiss.
                                
LADY LUCK by Kristen Ashley (July 29, 2014; Forever Mass Market)
Is love in the cards? Since birth, Lexie Berry has had nothing but bad luck. Orphaned at an early age, she had a rough childhood and a boyfriend who was murdered. Now the beautiful, stylish Lexie is determined to change her luck and her life. But first she's got to make good on a promise: to pick up Ty Walker from prison. One look at the gorgeous ex-convict and Lexie knows she's in trouble-and already thinking about taking a walk on the wild side...

For five years, Ty was imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit. Now he wants revenge on the people who framed him. Yet when the high-stakes poker player sees the leggy Lexie, he suddenly has other desires on his mind. Realizing that Ty is innocent, Lexie tries to stop his plan for vengeance and help him become a better man. But as Ty battles his inner demons, dirty cops and criminals plot to take him out. Can he and Lexie find a way to escape the past?


About the author: 
Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write. Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake. Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up. And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

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