Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Release Day Review: Change of Heart by Liv Rancourt #Review #Giveaway ~ Guest Post

Author: Liv Rancourt
Book: Change of Heart
Self Published
Publication date: March 1, 2017
Length: 70 pages

Reviewed by Meredith


Preacher always said New Orleans was a den of sin, so of course Clarabelle had to see for herself…

Momma says a body reaps what they sow, and Clarabelle’s planted the seeds of trouble. The year is 1933, and not much else is growing in the Oklahoma dirt. Clarabelle’s gone and fallen in love with her best friend, so she figures it's time to go out and see the world.

If she’s lucky, she’ll find the kind of girl who'll kiss her back.

Clarabelle heads for New Orleans, and that's where she meets Vaughn. Now, Vaughn's as pretty as can be, but she's hiding something. When she gets jumped by a pair of hoodlums, Clarabelle comes to her rescue and accidentally discovers her secret. She has to decide whether Vaughn is really the kind of girl for her, and though Clarabelle started out a dirt-farming Okie, Vaughn teaches her just what it means to be a lady. 

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You know that feeling, after you finish a book, where you know there are going to be mixed feelings about it from readers? Yeah, that is this book. I think this book should evoke the emotions you will likely feel upon completion. I also think it's vital to keep in mind that this book takes place in 1933 not 2017. Times were so beyond different then than they are now. We can't even comprehend it no matter how hard we try. So that's dipping into the unknown.

This historical LGBTQ story is told from Clarabelle (Clara) a girl from Oklahoma who moves to New Orleans after she is "outed" as a lesbian. Because her Preacher always warned her about New Orleans, a sinful place, she was excited to move there.

I want to bring to the forefront the descriptive writing in which the author, Liv Rancourt, brings to this book. I've never been to New Orleans but she really does take you there. I could hear the sounds, taste the foods, feel the bubbling excitement in Clara and those around her. Of course the other side of that is I felt the hatred. See, you think it's bad now for people who are deemed "different" by societies standards try going through it in 1933. The slurs do run rampant in this book from the F word even to the N word. It was a time where words like that were used like the word the. Though offensive to hear, it really put us in the place and time this tale is weaved.

Vaughn is a magnificent character. Gorgeous internally and externally. When she meets Clara it's like two puzzle pieces finding their connections. They fit. Thanks to Vaughn, Clara can truly see the world through new eyes. Too long Clara had heard the sinful side of her sexuality. Now she sees the beauty and with tender words and patience, Vaughn takes her to the place she belongs. Vaughn's story turns quite emotional and though hard to read it shapes this book and takes it in a new direction. One I felt we needed to see to truly understand the seriousness Vaughn faces daily.

Though this is a short story it does tell a meaty, touching, well written story of a time that was different and yet the same. Of course I wanted it to be longer because I wasn't done with these characters. This is a sweet addition to the Hours of Night Universe (which author Irene Preston also writes in) and we do see some familiar faces in this book.

This should be read by people with an open mind that you aren't reading a book set in this time but in a whole different one.

Guest Post

Thanks so much, Meredith, for having me back on Diverse Reader! I’m excited to be here, and to be sharing my story Change of Heart on its release day.

Change of Heart is an Hours of the Night story. It’s a distant prequel to the novels I’ve co-written with Irene Preston, although it’s a historical romance instead of being a paranormal/vampire story. The common thread is the vampire Thaddeus Dupont, who plays a key role in Change of Heart. His true nature is a secret, although I left a few clues to entertain readers who enjoyed the other books.
The other common thread between Heart and the other HotN books is the setting. The story takes place in New Orleans’ French Quarter, in 1933. New Orleans is one of my all-time favorite cities – in fact I’ll be heading there next week! – so digging in to what it was like in the Thirties was an absolute pleasure.

I learned that in those days, the Quarter was a rough neighborhood. New Orleans’ infamous red light district, Storyville, had been shut down in 1917, but some of the “businessmen” had moved their hook shops (whorehouses) and saloons into the Quarter. Also, Prohibition ended the year this story takes place, though no one paid much attention to that law and liquor was readily available.
Many of the houses in the Quarter had been built by the Spanish in the 18th century, and after about 1910, a large population of Sicilian immigrants made it their home. The Twenties saw writers and artists moving in for the cheap rent and the camaraderie they found in coffee houses and cheap Italian and Creole restaurants. Rising rents drove most of them out by the Thirties, ending the Quarter’s Bohemian moment, but their influence remained.

Music has always been important to New Orleans, with the wide-open clubs in Storyville providing a place for the cross-pollination of musical ideas. When Storyville closed, musicians found work at nightclubs in the Quarter, giving voice to the new sounds of the day. The French Quarter wasn’t a tourist destination like it is now, but it was a fascinating place, and I hope my story does it justice.
As I said, I’ll be traveling to the French Quarter in just a few days, mostly for vacation, but also to do research for the next HotN novel (lol!). I’ll be on the lookout for places Thaddeus and Sarasija might visit, so when the next book comes out, it’ll feel even more authentic.

Or, as authentic as a story about a demon-fighting vampire can get. You know?

Change of Heart is available from most ebook vendors at a special price of $0.99 until March 7th, so grab a copy now! And be sure to enter the rafflecopter giveaway Irene and I are running for a $10 gift card. Thanks again!


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Release Day Review: Snowblind by Eli Easton #Review #Giveaway

Author: Eli Easton
Book: Snowblind
Series: Dreamspun Desires #29
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication date: March 1, 2016
Cover Artist: Bree Archer
Length: 196 pages

Reviewed by Erin


Snow, steam, and secrets.

The latest snowstorm carries something unexpected to the doorstep of Hutch’s secluded Alaskan cabin: a stranger named Jude, the most beautiful man Hutch has ever seen. Jude says he’s in the area for a ski trip and that he fled a domineering lover, thinking he could make it into town. But Hutch is a suspicious SOB and treats his unwanted guest warily. The problem is Jude isn’t just gorgeous, he’s funny and smart and flirtatious.

Two gay men snowed in for three days—things happen. Really good things. By the time the storm clears, Hutch finds himself a little too attached to Jude Devereaux, San Francisco-based male model. But is Jude what he claims to be? Or is he entangled in the secrets Hutch moved to Alaska to escape?

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Dreamspinner Press's Dreamspun Desires line just keeps getting better and better. With every new release, I fall in love just a little bit more, and with the addition of Eli Easton's action packed Snowblind, I don't see that changing anytime soon. And I'm so, SO grateful for that! That being said, I have to admit and tell you that Snowblind was NOTHING like I expected! Not at all, but damn it was hella fun to read. 

When Hutch finds an unexpected stranger  at the doorstep of his secluded cabin in Alaska in the middle of a snowstorm you'll get a feeling that there's more going on that first appears. When we see Hutch checking trip wires and motion sensors, your senses will start tingling for sure. I know mine did. I was immediately and thoroughly engrossed in what was going on between Hutch and Jude right from the first. Hutch is all growly and suspicious whereas Jude is charming and flirty. That always makes for a fun combination but when the action starts happening, boy did the story take off. There is some really hot sex going on between these two, along with a healthy dose of intense tension ... but there's also some humor and playfulness, too. Eli does a fantastic job of weaving this story and surprising you left and right. 

There are tons of twists and turns in this one, so for the sake of not spoiling a thing, I'm not going to say much more because trust me, you want to go into this book totally, um, well, blind. Sorry, couldn't help myself, but seriously people, just dive into this book knowing as little as possible. You'll find all the things you're used to from Eli Easton and from the Dreamspun line as a whole. Great writing, characters that are well-developed and engaging. A plot that moves lightning quick and just enough steam to make you happy. This one was one hell of a fun ride, don't miss it!


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Contest ends March 31st

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Random Review: Moment of Fate by Karen Stivali #Review #Giveaway

Author: Karen Stivali
Book: Moment of Fate
Series: Moments In Time #5
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication date: February 24, 2017
Length: 244 pages
Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska

Reviewed by Morningstar


Bryan Dane’s been living the dream—photography student by day, up-and-coming rocker by night. His summer goals are to earn his last few credits, graduate from NYU, spend as much time in the recording studio as possible, and survive the next few months without sex so he can complete his yearlong goal of self-imposed celibacy. Everything is on track, until he meets Oliver Newcastle.

For years Oliver planned a marriage of convenience with his high school BFF, but now that she’s fallen in love for real, with someone else, it’s no longer convenient. So Oliver came out to his family, quit his job, and left small-town New England for NYC, an intensive summer study program, and a chance to find his own happiness.

From the moment they meet the sexual tension between Bryan and Oliver sizzles. But Bryan wants no part of a relationship, and Oliver wants to sew his wild oats—he just isn’t sure how. Oliver seeks Bryan’s help navigating the NYC gay scene, which throws them together in increasingly more sexual situations until they can no longer deny they're hot for each other. Bryan is desperate to keep things simple, but fate might have other plans.

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The first time I ever read a Karen Stivali book I fell in love! It was a free read (still free BTW) called Tonight. I remember reading this wondering first, how was it freaking free and second, why didn’t everyone and their mother know who she was and buy all her books like now?! Because, for me, her writing was fantastic, it was the flow, the pace, the characters, the settings, the HEAT. She had it all. And she quickly became one of my favorite auto buy authors. Maybe that makes me bias, but I think I can be objective...mostly ;)

The world she created in the Moments in Time series is a world with very dynamic and fully fleshed out characters that I cannot help but connect with, cheer for, and swoon over. And Moment of Fate was no different. Bryan Dane is the down to earth rocker guy who was going to NYU for photography we met in book one, Moment of Impact. Finally being able to see him and know him was what I’ve been waiting for. He’s the guy that never shares his problems, never wants to depend on someone else, but is always there to lend a helping hand. Bryan is working hard to graduate, taking it slow this summer with his band, and oh yeah he has that whole year of celibacy thing. I loved the glimpses we got of him in book one, but seeing him deeper here, finding out his secrets; shed a whole new light on what makes him tick. He’s not as put together as he makes himself out to be, which honestly made me love him more. He’s a funny guy who really gives everything 110% when he sets his mind to it. So finishing this pact shouldn't be so difficult…or so he thought until he met Oliver.

Oliver is a new character, and although the story is completely from Bryan’s POV, I felt I knew as much about him as I did Bryan. Oliver seems sweet, naive, and full of life. After living a half-life; he chose, he’s finally out in the big bad city wanting to explore and learn about the side of himself he’s kept hidden. I loved his blog and Bryan reading it - in his sneaky stalkerish ways - because it felt like through them I, as the reader, got to know him better. The chemistry between these two was a super slow burn but was hot and ready to ignite at any given moment. Karen took their story slowly and I loved each and every scene between these guys. And can I just say talk about super-hot catch the kindle on fire sex scenes!!! I know in part it’s the chemistry and anticipation but believe me when I tell you there are very few authors that I can say write smexy so well and Karen is one of them. It should come with a warning to not read in public, for sure.

The journey of love is easy to see between them, even when they weren’t ready to admit it. The story talks about Oliver's need for a new experience, exploring to get to know himself, but in the end this is a story about Bryan letting go of the past, looking to the future, and letting people in. It was heartwarming, heat filled, with breathtaking writing, and a place wouldn’t mind going back to again and again.


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a $30.00 Dreamspinner Press GC
Contest ends March 31st!

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