Category Archives: 4 Stars

Blog Tour Stop and Giveaway: Enslaved by the Ocean by Bella Jewel

Enslaved By the Ocean Cover

Title: Enslaved By the Ocean (Criminals Of The Ocean #1)

Author: Bella Jewel

Expected Release Date: December 9, 2013

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Hosted by: Love Between the Sheets

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lynsey

5 out of 5

Okay, so first thoughts for this book are basically it’s going to be a typical mills and boon romance about pirates.  Oh, how wrong was I! I instantly fell in love with this book and the characters. It’s funny, scary, heartwarming and heartbreaking, to say the least. Yes, at times you just wanna smack Hendrix upside the head, but at other times you just want to give him a cuddle. Oh, and the sex, oh my the sexy scenes, let’s just say that you will certainly get very steamy and extremely hot (if you catch my drift). He’s sexy, controlling, and won’t take no for an answer but you just can’t help but fall in love with him. And when he calls her “inocencia” you just can’t help but swoon. Then there’s Indigo. She’s had a hard time of it recently and when she meets Hendrix you just know things are definitely not going to be any easier.  In short, this book was well written and well thought out, an absolute joy to read and I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

Favourite lines
“Why can’t a pirate watch a horror film?
He shakes his head, smirking. “You’re about to tell me.”
“Because it’s rated arrrrrrrrrr.”

“Why do pirates wear eye patches?”
“Because they can’t afford iPads.”

mandy

3.5 out of 5

Finally, a new premise for a romance novel. Pirates. And not Jack Sparrow pirates, but modern day pirates. Yes, they’re real. Our heroine, Indigo (coolest name ever), in Enslaved by the Ocean runs from one trouble right into more trouble at the hands of pirates and what ensues was fun and sexy to read. Hendrix, our pirate Hero, is rugged and oh so yummy! I am still not sure what exactly he does as a pirate. He’s not a drug runner or a human trafficker, but he sure is a bad ass. But at the end of the day, who cares what he does? He’s hot and seems to have the best of intentions with each decision laid before him. And Indigo loves him and finds the fresh start she was looking for.

I enjoyed Enslaved by the Ocean. The characters were great. The dialogue quick and witty. The pacing was fast. This was a very short read for me. The sexy times were erotic and left me panting. Bella Jewel won our hearts with the MC Sinners series and her unique writing style continues in this new series. Yes, I said series. Bella will be giving us more yummy pirate goodness to drool over in Where Darkness Lies, which will be the second book in the Criminals of the Ocean series. I will be reading it. I need to know what happens after that bombshell of an epilogue.

danielle

4 out of 5

From the first word to the last, Bella Jewel’s Enslaved by the Ocean, will captivate your attention. Struggling through a whirl wind of unexpected life changes, broken dreams, and regretful lust, the heroine Indigo hasn’t had an easy life. But unlike most heroines she doesn’t find happily ever after the conventional way, because Captain Hendrix is anything but conventional. I mean, what would you expect from a pirate? And poor Indie forced to make difficult decisions to keep her life and her heart safe, decisions that would break the average person. Thankfully everything turns around semi in her favor and we aren’t left with a giant cliff hanger. The entire concept was definitely refreshing but I felt rushed through the entire book. The major plot lines were glossed over and I didn’t have a chance to develop a strong connection to the characters like I wanted too. The sexy times were completely juvenile for my taste as well, and to be honest I skimmed over most of them. I’m still giving it a 4 because the plot line is extremely interesting and it is a really good book. The story just feels really incomplete, and yes there is a sequel about two other characters, but I need more. Hendrix is still on my shit-list and I’m not sure I can ever get over his “payment plan. “ (sorry, I don’t give shit away) That’s just kind of big, NOO for me… and he didn’t do anything worth redemption in my opinion. But I’m holding out hope that the sequel will fill me in and bring the story full circle. Until then, I guess Ill have to wait, damn it!

❤ dg

lorraine

4 out of 5

walked into this with pretty high expectations since I’ve read and loved all of Bella Jewel’s MC Sinners series, and I was definitely not disappointed.  I’ve never come across a modern day pirate tale, so I was excited, but still a bit skeptical about whether or not it would be worth reading.

This had everything I love about pirates, and even better, it left out the ripped and busting bodices synonymous with pirate tales.  Enslaved By The Ocean takes everything you’ve ever fantasized about being swept away by a pirate and brings it into this century.  I’m now dying to take a boat ride across the ocean in hopes of being marauded by Hendrix (drool!).

Ooh, I need to shake myself out before I get lost there.  Let’s put aside the pirate factor.  There was a lot to recommend outside of that aspect.  Indigo is an awesome chick.  She was dealt a really shitty hand and was able to persevere.  I love a strong and sassy chick, it makes it so easy to root for them to get their HEA.

Her friend, Eric, is a bit of a douchenozzle but I’m almost glad because I didn’t have to spend a minute hoping that Indigo would get with him.  Jess is a great character as well, major sweetness.  I really hope that one of the stories in this series gives her a chance to shine and get an HEA too.

Overall, this was a great read whether or not you like pirates, and if you’re a Bella Jewel fan this is a must-read!

 

guest reviewer

Please welcome our newest guest reviewer, Jess

3.5 out of 5
A modern day pirate saga…  I was curious to see how Bella Jewel could take what I would typically consider a historical plot and make it modern.  And it was a good book, but I was hoping for a little more.  While I connected with Indigo, I felt the initial story and dialogue was a little forced to skip through Indigo’s story, introduce the best friend, Eric, and get straight to the pirate drama.  The pirates were a little cliche, drawing their swords and sailing on a ship with a mermaid on the bow.  But who am I to say what a modern pirate has for weapons and amenities in 2013.  They had guns too and did not hesitate to use them.

And then there is Hendrix.  Hendrix is tough and cruel, and his actions made him all the more believable as a pirate and consequently less likable, at least initially.  I struggled to see what Indigo could be attracted to.  But as the story progressed, the physical connection (and it was steamy!) sparked the emotional one.  The big, bad pirate, did indeed have that protective, caring side I was wondering about, and yes, I liked it.

This book has a lot of what you’d expect from a pirate story – pirate jokes, rum filled nights, tropical islands, and the old pirate crew.  I’m still not sure how a girl goes from life in the city to life with a pirate on the sea, but I’m going to add Where Darkness Lies to my to read pile to hopefully find out.

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Synopsis

Indigo is running, she has no other choice. She’s done something bad, and there only way to escape it, is to flee her home, and her country. She sets out on a luxury Yacht, to take her to another country with her best friend Eric. But she runs into a problem.

The Yacht catches fire.

She ends up stranded in the ocean, terrified, and scared of the uncertain. Until they show up. The pirates. Terrified, Indigo and Eric have to face the reality that this might be the end for them. These are pirates, they are the criminals of the ocean. What chance have they got of surviving this nightmare?

Then she lays eyes on Hendrix. He’s the Captain, he’s gorgeous, rugged, and mean. He’s planning on keeping her to repay his debt to another man, by selling her. Now Indigo has a crazy ex after her, as well as a pirate she can’t seem to get out of her head.

Come on this heart wrenching, dark, angsty and dangerous adventure as two people so opposite, find something so beautiful.

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Excerpt

“Stand up, this will be easier if you do,” he orders. He stands, taking me with him, and I lose my balance when I accidentally try to lift the wrong foot. Hendrix reaches out, taking my shoulder and goes to take a step forward to steady me, only to realize he’s wrapped the rope around his ankle, and is now tangled too. As if in slow motion, we topple backwards. I scream, and land with a thump on the ground as the ropes surround me. Hendrix lands over me, but manages to put his hand down to stop me taking the force of his body. He’s pressing into me in places he really shouldn’t be.

“Fuck,” he curses, tugging his hand to try and untangle it.

“How the hell did you get tangled too?” I cry out, squirming.

“Stop fuckin’ squirming like that,” he orders, and I stop as soon as I realize why he’s asked me to. He’s hard. My God, he’s hard.

“You’re…you’re…”

“I’m fuckin’ hard because you’re squirming against me. I’m a man. Get over it.”

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About the Author

Bella Jewel is an Aussie girl through and through. She spent her life in Western Australia, growing up in many different areas of the state. She now currently lives in Perth with her husband, children and mass amounts of pets. She’s crazy, fun, outgoing and friendly. Writing is her passion, she started at the young age of 18 but finally got the courage up to publish, and her first novel Hell’s Knights was released in August 2013.

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Filed under 3.5 Stars, 4 Stars, Blog Tour, Danielle, Dark, Drifter, Erotica, Forbidden Romance, Friendship, Giveaway, Indie Authors, Lorraine, Lynsey, Mandy, Pirates, Review, Slavery, Tattoos & Piercings, Uncategorized

Blog Tour Stop: Beautiful Rose

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mandy

Rating 4 out of 5

I have been waiting and waiting for more of Jack Falcon’s story. The prequel, Seduce, left us with a very messed up Jack and I really loved Jack’s character so I needed him to find his happy again. Beautiful Rose is the story of Jack finding his happy again. The book is not very long, I read it in an afternoon during naptime. But the pacing is perfect and the characters are endearing.

Rose and Jack are both so damaged and gun shy about their feelings and a psycho ex of Jack’s throws a few monkey wrenches into the storyline that keep you wondering how things will play out. I love Jack’s brother, Alex, and I am so glad that the next book will be from his point of view.

As for Jack and Rose, the story was exactly what I needed to feel better about Jack and what he has gone through. Not a lot of sexy times, but the book is so well written that I didn’t care. The story kept me too involved. I couldn’t put it down. I already told Missy that she has a lifelong reader with me after Seduce, and I maintain that promise after reading Beautiful Rose.

lorraine

3.5 stars out of 5 

This was a little tough for me to read.  First, because I read the prequel Seduce, and I had trouble getting past my loyalty to Belle.  And second because, well, this was sad!  I had a difficult time rating this because I both liked and disliked it.

Jack’s inability to move on from Belle’s death, coupled with Rose’s tragic history depressed me at times.  Which is not necessarily a bad thing, I just really wanted Jack to be happy and I was having trouble coping with the aura of sadness in the air.

The beginning moved a little slow and I found my attention wandering, but when I got further along I understood the purpose behind the slow build up.  The situations weren’t the type that would have worked well with a slow reveal and it was worth the wait.

Ultimately, it was great checking in with Jack’s character, and seeing his growth after Seduce.  In the end, I did like Rose and I feel the two of them will be good for each other in the long term.  Alex’s character is next up and I can’t wait to see who Missy Johnson finds for him.

Jody

5 out of 5 

Missy Johnson is the SHIT!  She is an amazing and very talented writer that grips you from the start of the book and makes you experience the story right along with the characters.  I love how you get a point of view from more than one character and yet feel like the book was written for each one personally.

You have Jack, a broken man that is trying to live a life that would make Belle proud of him.  He is trying to make something of himself with no help from his daddy or his daddy’s money and be a good friend and brother but still manages to punish himself and all those around him in the form of Harmony!  That is, until the day his brother needs another ride home from work and Jack hears the sounds of a sweet and sultry voice coming down the hall!  The pull between them is noticeable instantly but of course each of them are so damaged they fight it at every turn.

Rose has dealt with so many traumas and allows no one to get close.  Until Alex takes her to interview with Jack that is.  Once she is hired she is thrown into many situations that challenge the walls that she has spent her life building.  Now she cannot deny the feelings Jack stirs in her.

I absolutely loved this book.   I love how Missy takes the time to fully describe her characters and their thoughts and feelings.  It pulls me in and makes me feel like these are people I know instead of characters in a novel.  She makes you feel invested in their lives which have you crying and cheering for them throughout the book.

I am looking forward to Missy sharing Alex’s story with us.  I cannot wait to see who she pairs him up with and I do hope we get to see a little of Jack and Rose and the other amazing characters she has in her stories.

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Jack Falcon is a new man. Three years after he left his life behind in London, Jack finally feels settled. He’s surrounded with everything that is important to him; a great relationship with his brother, Alex, a bar he is about to re-open, and most importantly, he has control of his life and his dreams. He knows he can’t undo the wrongs of his past, but he sure as hell can determine his future. He has worked hard to move forward and nothing is going to undo that.

Until he meets Rose.
Rose Wilson has never felt normal. Since she was a child, Rose has felt nothing but the overwhelming desire to end her life and she has no idea why. We live to die, so what’s the point in living? Rose has pushed the limits in the past, and pushed people away. She can’t figure out why Jack and Alex are so insistent on helping her. Twelve years of therapy has failed to help her, so why should they be any different?
Jack sees just how beautiful and important Rose is, but convincing her of that means putting his heart on the line, something he isn’t sure he can do. He can’t deny his feeling for Rose, but that doesn’t mean he has to act on them. And Jack isn’t the only one developing feelings for Rose.

Before Rose, Jack vowed he would never let himself fall in love again.

Before Rose, he had control.

But sometimes, it’s losing control that makes you really see what’s really important in your life.

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Author Bio 

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter 

Missy lives in a small town in Central Victoria with her husband, and her confused pets (a dog who think she’s a cat, a cat who thinks he’s a dog…you get the picture).When she’s not writing, she can usually be found looking for something to read.

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Filed under 3.5 Stars, 4 Stars, Erotica, Jody, Lorraine, Mandy, Uncategorized

Release Day Blitz: Fighting to Stay by Kasey Millstead

Cover: Cover It Designs
Release Date: December 15, 2013
“Never stay, Lacey. Promise me. Promise right now, that whenever things go bad in life, you will run. Never, ever stay.”Lacey Monroe was used to running. When things got bad, when things got dangerous, when there was a chance that she would get hurt – physically or emotionally – she did what her momma said. She ran. She kept running, until she landed in Salt Rock, Alabama. She meets Roam Cooper, the Vice President of the Mayhem Motorcycle Club and for the first time in her life, Lacey considers staying…and then, right before her eyes, her world falls apart. And she runs again.“No more runnin’, Lacey. ‘Bout time you started fighting to stay.” – Roam.

**This is a stand-alone, full length novel with a happy ever after**


lynsey
4 out of 5 

I honestly don’t know if I have the right words for this book other than it was bloody fantastic. I have really enjoyed reading this one, yes it was a MC book, BUT it seemed to have so much more than some of the MC books around lately. This book had funny one liners, fantastic characters, angst and yes a few tears as well. Roam is a typical MC bad boy but when he says “sugar” in that southern drawl women within a 2 mile radius swoon. Lacey is pretty kick ass too although at times I did think she needed to grow a spine and start throwing some punches around. All in all I would definitely recommend this book it is well worth the read, I would also say 4 out of 5 as it did seem to be over quick as it could have been longer. The sex is soooo hot too it made me have to fan myself several times. Just the way I like it.

mandy

3.5 out of 5

Kasey’s Cowboys Down Under series sold me on her writing so of course I was motivated to read a biker romance from her. And Fighting to Stay is well written, but I just couldn’t get attached the characters. I did not like Lacey. In my opinion, she was selfish and immature. She made rash decisions and put her best friend in a precarious position with her man. I also never felt like she really had strong emotions for Roam. She went from in lust and determined to run at the first sign of hurt to in love and there wasn’t enough between these two emotions in the storyline for me to get behind her. As I type this it has occurred to me that my real hang up with this book is it felt rushed. It’s not a long read at all. I read it in less than 3 hours. I need more of a build up or for something to happen that pulls me in and makes me feel some connection with the story and I never got that. I think if this book was longer and had more of that intangible “thing” to suck me in, I would have enjoyed this more. Kasey Millstead is a good writer and it was a good story, but for me it wasn’t a great story. This will not sway me in pursuing future books by Kasey Millstead and for some of you this will be a great story.

Kasey Millstead lives a quiet life in country New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and their four young children. She enjoys baking, singing (ridiculously out of tune) & spending time with friends and family. Kasey has always harboured a deep love for reading and writing, and she is now lucky enough to be living her dream of being an Author.
 
 

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Filed under 3.5 Stars, 4 Stars, ARC, Bikers & MCs, Blitz, Contemporary, Giveaway, Indie Authors, Lynsey, Mandy, Release Day, Review

Review: Safeword Rainbow by Candace Blevins

Safeword Rainbow

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mandy

4 out of 5

WOW! I read the first 2 chapters and was so hot and squirmy that I needed a shower to cool down. And then I flipped to chapter 3 and fell out of my seat as time had passed and I wanted more from the first two chapters. But never fear, this book delivers the kink in spades and a great story to go with it.

I am not going to rehash the storyline or give you spoilers, but Candace Blevins has written a book that takes the kink in the bedroom and explores how a couple with different ideas but an overlapping kink make it work outside the “bedroom”. Her characters were mature, believable, and relatable. The whole book has a great flow and the perfect mix of story with my smut. I will be reading anything I can from Candace Blevins and I am honored that she sought out Raw Books to review the new extended version of Safeword Rainbow for her.

And please take me seriously when I tell you that this book is not for the faint of heart. Very intense BDSM scenes in this book and a whole lot of power exchange. The writing is flawless and brilliant but it is kinky and descriptive. If kink is your thing, go one click that bitch. If you are on the fence, take heed of my warnings as I will be pissed if you go read this and give it a poor rating because your sensibilities have been offended. Candace Blevins delivers kink with a story and it is exactly what I needed!

lorraine

2 out of 5

Safeword Rainbow is definitely not for the faint of heart.  There are some extremely intense BDSM scenes.  Sounds hot, right?  Normally, I’d agree.  I read the dirtiest of the dirty (ask Mandy, I’m pretty sure my Kindle archive shocked her), and enjoy every second of it.  The scenes in this were not the most intense I’ve ever read, but some left me a little uncomfortable, and that is not something easy to do.  The overall story itself was good and the book had potential to be great.  My issue is primarily the fact that most of the time Vivian did not seem to be enjoying what Tyler was doing to her, and it seemed to me that he enjoyed the fact that she wasn’t.  Most of Vivian’s thoughts revolved around her fighting the urge to safeword out of the scene, and there were a few times I wish she had.  To each his own if you like it like that, it just didn’t seem like she did, and he knew it.  I’m definitely no expert as I’ve never gone this deep in play, so please know that if you like the more extreme side of BDSM, you will most likely love this one.

 

Jody

 

DNF

Note to the BDSM novice readers out there, this is not a book I would recommend as your introduction in to the BDSM life style.  This book starts out with some heavy BDSM scenes before leading into any kind of story telling for readers like me.  I like a book to wine and dine me before getting down and dirty but this book was down and dirty from the beginning.

While I enjoy the thoughts of being tied up and at the mercy of a Dom, I am very green when it comes to the understanding of the thoughts of how someone would enjoy being hurt so bad you cried during a scene and have residual marks left for days or even weeks.

I enjoyed the serendipity the writer shows of Vivian and Tyler meeting years later and still having that connection that makes you want to continue a relationship, but I felt this story was overall left undeveloped and lacking.

While I did not finish this book, I do feel a little more knowledgeable about the workings of this world.

 

Synopsisbutton

Tyler and Viv have found each other again after a three day fling three years ago. Ideally suited for each other, they try to make a relationship work. However, they soon realize Tyler was expecting a 24/7 total power exchange and Vivian will never be a 24/7 submissive. As they try to find a compromise, Vivian must deal with what a Total Power Exchange means, even if it’s only a part time power exchange, and Tyler must decide if he can live with a sometimes-Master and sometimes-boyfriend relationship.
Will they find their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
This title was published in 2010 with less than half of the current content. The story has been considerably rewritten and contains a great deal of new material for your reading enjoyment. We think it’s a far better story now, but if you read the original, you can be the judge!
Warning: Contains graphic language, consensual BDSM, bondage, and the use of toys including clamps, canes, plugs, paddles, and floggers.

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Review: Only For You by Genna Rulon

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lorraine

4 out of 5

When I started reading Only For You, I really didn’t think I was going to like it.  I don’t typically go for the college romance genre, but the synopsis sounded really good for this as well as the next in the series, so I wanted to give it a whirl.  Very glad I did.

Only For You started out on the lighter side, and Everleigh really did remind me of a typical snobby college girl.  My impression quickly changed though.  I imagine if Everleigh was a real person, that many on the outside looking in would have the same initial impression as I did.  As the layers peel away, you get to know a sensitive, strong, and caring individual that is mature beyond her age.  As the story progresses, she needs all of those qualities to help her and her friends through the rough situation going on around them.

I liked Hunter from the start.  What’s not to like?  A sexy alpha male who has brains on top of brawn.  And then I started to not like him so much.  It pissed me off how he was stringing Everleigh along, but I had a few ideas about what was going on, so I reserved judgment.  In the end I was right, so I allowed myself to forgive him for his jerk moments and like him again.

I got my warm fuzzy HEA and some really awesome build up to the next book, Pieces For You, which I’m thinking is going to be even better than this was since I’m already half in love with Sam and Griffin.  And yet another bonus, I just found out Genna Rulon has a short story companion piece available for FREE from Hunter’s POV, it’s really good, and you can link to it from here!

mandy

4 out of 5

I was bossed by JJ at The Book Bosses to read Only For You and I am so glad that I was a good girl and listened. Genna Rulon is an immensely talented storyteller. I wouldn’t have picked this book on my own since it’s a college romance, but after reading it I can honestly say that it is not a teeny bopper new adult novel. This book is full of intelligent and quick wit. The characters are not only likeable but relatable. There is plenty of angst and drama, but not too over the top. The story pacing was well done and I never felt like there were lags or holes in the story. The banter between Hunter and Everleigh was fun and laced with sexual chemistry right from the start.  I had the mystery aspect figured out pretty early on, but this did not take away from my enjoyment in watching it play out.  After what plays out in Only For You, I am salivating for Pieces For You. Pieces For You will be Sam and Griffin’s story. The books can be read as standalone, but why miss out on the goodness that is Genna Rulon’s writing?

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“In its purest form love is self-sacrificing, eternal, selfless, enduring, truthful, forgiving and indulgent.  It also feels an awful lot like a kick to the stomach when you try to fight it!”

All Everleigh Carsen wanted to do was complete her final semester at Hensley University and begin the life she carefully planned.

When a wave of violent crime seizes campus, Everleigh is persuaded by her best friend to attend a school sponsored self-defense seminar, where she meets volunteer instructor, Hunter Charles. After Everleigh’s biting sarcasm induces Hunter to eject her from class, an explosive relationship is born.

Everleigh is determined to forget the striking man, but fate—that fickle shrew—continuously intervenes. Unable to escape him, she declares Hunter an enemy combatant.  The only complication…Hunter is resolutely pursuing vindication…by any means necessary. Verbal warfare ensues, and despite Everleigh’s ingenious efforts, in Hunter, she has finally found her equal.

Only For You is a compelling tale of friendship, desire, and redemption—brimming with intelligent characters, witty dialogue, unexpected twists, profound sorrow, unfettered hope, and love’s unassailable perseverance.

• This story is appropriate for readers 18+

• Though Only For You is a part of the For You Series, the book can be read as a stand-alone.

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gennarulon

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Genna Rulon is an up-and-coming contemporary romance author who loves nothing more than a good love story.

During her 15 years in the corporate world, Genna, inspired by her love of reading, fantasized about penning her own stories.  Encouraged by her favorite authors, many of whom are indie writers and self-published, she committed to pursue her aspirations of writing her own novels.

Genna was raised on Long Island in New York, where she still resides, surrounded by the most amazing family and friends.  Married to a wonderful man who patiently tolerates her ramblings about whichever book she is currently working on, even feigning interest relatively convincingly!  Genna is blessed with two little boys who do their best to thwart mommy’s writing time with their hilarious antics and charming extrapolations.

All of Genna’s reviews are brought to you courtesy of copious amounts of coffee and Disney Junior (something has to entertain the boys when mommy is writing).

You can find Genna online at:   www.gennarulon.com

Be sure to join the mailing list for updates about future books, as well as giveaways, and other fun facts.

Genna would love to hear from you, and will personally respond to all messages!

You can contact her as follows:

Email:                  genna@gennarulon.com

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We fangirled on Genna Rulon a little bit and she was awesome enough to send us an excerpt from Pieces For You, Book 2 in the For You Series, out on December 17th.  Make sure to check out our reviews scheduled for the 17th as well!

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Excerpt:

breathing as I gathered the courage to face a history I would prefer to forget.  Confident I had done all I could to prepare myself, I entered the office suite.  I was comforted by the refined elegance of the space.   There was minimal clutter and several flowering plants, adding both color and life.  I settled myself in a comfortably stuffed chair and waited.

A few minutes later, the door in front of me opened and an attractive woman in her early fifties emerged.  Dressed in a colorful sundress and ballet flats, she conveyed warmth and acceptance.  I wondered if she had done this deliberately or if she just thought the floral pattern was pretty on the hanger.

“Sam?” she asked in a strong, clear voice.

I nodded.

“Hello, it’s nice to finally meet you.  I’m Dr.  Cynthia Veritus, but please call me Thia.”

“Hi Thia, it’s nice to meet you, too.  I have heard great things about you; I’m hoping they’re all true.”

She laughed at my joke, which set me at ease.

“Come in, Sam—let’s get this over with.”

I followed her into the adjoining office, confused by her choice of words.  It wasn’t the most encouraging opening statement, but perhaps I had misheard.  I sat down on the comfortable, tan love seat and noted that her office matched the style of the waiting room. Thia sat across from me in a navy wingback armchair and offered me a kind smile.  I returned her smile and waited for her to begin.  She continued to smile at me but said nothing, which was becoming exceedingly uncomfortable.  My own smile began to fall and she smirked knowingly.  I rededicated myself to what was apparently a staring/smiling contest, determined to emerge victorious.  She smiled even wider and I caught a glimmer of laughter in her eyes, but she was rock solid and unwavering.

Son of a bitch!  I was going to lose this contest…I’m not even sure what that meant, but it couldn’t be a good sign.

“Fine, I give,” I acquiesced with a sigh.

Thia smiled before raising her hand to muffle what I can only imagine would have been a chuckle if permitted to escape.

What the heck?  She was laughing at me…how unprofessional!

“What gives?  Aren’t you supposed to be asking me what brings me here?  The details of what I experienced?  What dysfunctional ways I have coped with everything thus far?”

“Is that what you want to talk about?”

“Hell no!  That is the last thing I want to relive for the umpteenth time,” I virtually shouted.

“You don’t want to talk about what is past and I’m not asking.  So what is the problem?”

Well that took the wind right out of my sails.  I had no idea how to respond, so I resumed our staring contest.  It was juvenile, I know, but it felt really good being defiant.

This time she did laugh aloud and I glared back at her.  Was I actually paying her to laugh in my face?

“Okay, so what is your biggest concern right now?”

She finally asked a question…thank God!

“I’m not sure.  I’ve been back almost two months and I think I have kept it together—for the most part.  I’ve been having night terrors occasionally.  I’m still a little uncomfortable out in public when alone and I find myself looking over my shoulder.  The deep breathing exercises help to center me, but I wish I could get rid of the paranoia completely.”

“It definitely is normal after what you have experienced, but I think you are ready to conquer this particular fear.”

“Okay, what do I do?”

“We will get to that in a little bit, it’s a part of your homework assignment.”

“Homework?”

She nodded in reply.  Dammit, I thought I was done with homework.  Oh well, I would try anything once.

“What else?” she prompted.

“My parents have requested I come to dinner next week.”

“And?”

“I don’t want to?” I asked, as if it may be the wrong answer.

“Why not?”

“Because they never make time to see me.  They only came to visit me in the hospital once after the attack—and I wasn’t even conscious!  They never bothered to visit me when I was at The Phoenix Centre and I haven’t actually spoken to either of them in over six months, since before the attack.  The only communication I received was an email from my father’s secretary reminding me to use the Platinum Amex for any medical expenses.  Trust me, whatever they want, it’s not going to make me happy.”

“Are you certain?  Maybe they had an epiphany after almost losing you and want to work on improving your relationship.”

“Spoken like a rational person who has an empathetic bone in their body.  There’s a reason I am an only child, Thia.  My parents thought having a kid would be a great addition to the illusion of their Rockwell portrait life.  Once I arrived, they handed me to the nearest nanny and resumed business as usual.  My mother was horrified by the effects pregnancy had on her previously impeccable body, and spent well over a hundred grand to repair the damage I caused.  Ultimately my cost exceeded my value, so they determined children were a bad investment and a hindrance to their quality of life.  These are not the type of people who have sudden moments of introspection—nothing good will come of this dinner,” I finished with conviction.

“Well, I’m convinced.  Next?”

“Are you mocking me?” I asked, confused by her quick dismissal of my mommy and daddy issues.

“Not at all.  You seem to comprehend that their issues are theirs, not yours.  While you’re understandably apprehensive about the dinner, you aren’t harboring any unrealistic expectations and have already developed healthy coping strategies to process your feelings concerning your parents.  Unless you begin to exhibit inappropriate emotional responses to their behaviors or indulge in self-destructive coping mechanisms, I see no reason for us to explore this any further.  Do you want to analyze the minute details of every disappointment you have ever suffered at their hands?  We can do that, but I’ll need to grab my calendar to schedule all the additional weekly visits.”

“Sarcasm much?”

“I am happy to waste your time and money by exploring every little facet of your past and psychoanalyzing the myriad ways each has shaped your psyche…if that would make you feel better,” she deadpanned.

“You should grab coffee with Everleigh some time—you two would have a blast out-snarking one another.”

“Since Everleigh is your best friend, I will take that as a compliment,” she countered, successfully turning my poke around.

“Two peas in a freakin’ pod,” I muttered.

“Next?”

“Geeze, I might as well be waiting my turn at the supermarket deli counter holding a little ticket with a number on it.”

“Sarcasm much?” she parroted my earlier barb.

“I’m not sure if you are the best therapist ever or the worst.”

“I get that a lot,” she offered without concern, causing me to laugh.  “Don’t worry, I’ll grow on you.”

“If you have a magic solution to cure my night terrors, I will commit to providing you an organ of your choice should a transplant ever become necessary.”

“Now that is a tantalizing offer.  Unfortunately, there is no magic pill you can swallow…just kidding.  Of course I could prescribe a sleep aid if you don’t currently have one, but that would not be my suggested course.”

“What do you suggest?”

“Homework.”

“Such a dirty word to be throwing around so casually.  Okay, lay it on me.”

“I want you to find a part-time job in an environment you feel safe to help increase your comfort level in public—consider it exposure therapy.  Plus, you need something to do besides shopping,” she said as she eyed my outfit, correctly pegging my current method of passing time.  “You should attend the dinner at your parents’ next week.  At the very least it will clear them off your list of worries.  I also want you to establish a regular exercise routine.  Sign up at a gym and use it.  It will aid your sleep and possibly help reduce the number of night terrors you have been experiencing.  Not to mention, it’s another public venue for you to build comfort and confidence.”

“I can handle those assignments.”

“Oh, one more—eat!  The Italian in me is dying to shove heaping piles of carbohydrates into that scrawny little body of yours.”

I laughed at her exclamation; it was clear she wasn’t exaggerating for effect.

“Will do, Chef Boyardee,” I teased, glad to be ending on a positive note and with several manageable tasks to focus on.  “It’s been…strange, but good…I think.”

“Excellent.  You handled me better than most do on their first visit.”

I didn’t think she was kidding, which gave me an odd sort of pride at the unexpected accomplishment.  As I departed, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had just found a guide through the minefield of recovery or if I was being “Punk’d” by Ashton Kutcher—if it was the latter, this would have made for some great TV programming.  I glanced around to make sure there were no cameramen hiding in the bushes.  Nope.  Thia was a therapist unlike any I had encountered thus far.  I resolved to follow her directives and get a jump on my homework assignments.

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