The Lure of the Vampire….

I am kind of newbie to the paranormal world.  I have only been reading paranormal’s for about four years now, not nearly as long as some of the other readers that I know.

For as long as I can remember I fought the idea of reading paranormal’s.  When I was a brand new reviewer at RRAH, I remember some of the other girls loved them.  Paranormal’s were all they read, all they talked about, all they reviewed!  I used to think they were crazy, I preferred to think at least marginally realistically, thank you very much!  I was very sure that my historical romances were the only ones to read and nothing else would do the trick!

Then one day about four years ago, one of my fellow reviewers talked me into trying JUST one paranormal.  Just take a gander, see if I could hang, if not she would leave me alone with my historical’s.  Her suggestion to me?  Christine Feehan’s Dark series.  IDK how many people out there have read this series? I’m sure tons of people , but for a newbie, this is the kind of series that can either scare a person away or make them fall madly in love.  I mean, this is a big, huge, INTENSE series of books with all sorts of raging emotions, brooding, telepathic men and women and sadistic villains.

Well, never let it be said that I am some sort of wilting flower, let me tell you.  I grabbed a hold of Feehan’s Dark Prince and I was a lost woman.

I couldn’t explain it, I couldn’t understand how I could spend so long fighting this idea of paranormal’s and in one book, ONE book I was hooked!  I poured over this book for hours…. At work, on my breaks, at red lights in my car, I even remember reading some of the book while folding a load of laundry!  What was it about Raven and Mikhail’s story that had me so hooked?!  How could this be?

Well, I think now that I have had a few years to marinate on that paranormal’s have fast become my favorite genre, I have figured it out.  It is the fact that they are so very unrealistic.  There is an element to them that says, “to heck with the conventional way of thinking about romance”.  And that, my friends, is just it!!  Anything goes in these books!  There is nothing that can be done or said or enacted that cannot be explained by a paranormal event!

Vampires, werewolves, shapeshifting lions, tigers, cougars, snakes, housecats, witches, mermaids, fairy’s, demons, Lords of the Underworld. All of these creatures bring something different to the table!  And they transport me to a different place, one where my rules go out the window and I get to enjoy a world where anything can happen and nothing is the norm.

I get to think that a man with pale skin, no heartbeat, aversions to the sun, who has long scary teeth and drinks blood is SEXY!  Imagine that!  Can you imagine a True Blood sort of world where vampires lived among us?  In my books, that gets to happen!  And it’s romantic and fascinating and intriguing and sensual when a vampire sucks the blood of a beautiful woman.

It is the unrealistic non-reality of these books that draws me like a moth to a flame.  I want to be swept away to a world where nothing is my own and everyone plays by a different set of rules.  One in which my own rational thoughts don’t get to intrude, because really why else is there to read a good book?

What do you think, my friends?  What is the draw of the vampire for you?  What was the book that made you fall in love with these otherworldly creatures?   Tell us your thoughts and I will pick one lucky winner to receive a copy of Christine Feehan’s Dark Prince!

Bookworm Kristal


“Never a Mistress, No Longer a Maid” by Maureen Driscoll

STORY: Caught behind enemy lines at the Battle of Waterloo, nurse Jane Wetherby is forced to seek shelter with British operative Lord Edward Kellington. After a night of passion, the two are separated. With nothing but the alias Jane used to protect her family, Lord Edward is unable to find the woman he can’t forget.

Seven years later, Jane courts scandal by serving as the unofficial surgeon in the village of Marston Vale. When Edward arrives to formalize his betrothal to a viscount’s daughter in accordance with his late father’s wishes, Jane has no choice but to watch the match proceed. When a threat from the past emerges, Jane must join forces with Edward to safeguard her loved ones. But at what risk to her heart…

REVIEW: “Never a Mistress, No Longer a Maid” a début romance novel by Maureen Driscoll is a thrilling Regency Historical romance that spans seven years and begins in Belgium right after the battle at Waterloo. In this first installment of Kellington Series we meet the family, headed by William, Duke of Lynwood who has three brothers and a sister who were all named after England’s Kings and a Queen. Edward, Ned, was second born; Arthur and Henry were followed by Elizabeth.

This is Ned’s story and it has everything a romance novel should: a handsome and very charming hero determined to protect the love of his life and a beautiful and strong heroine, determined to keep the biggest secret of her life.

Their story is sweet and sensual as well as passionate. It is filled with secrets and intrigue, redemption and forgiveness, humor and wit. Here’s an excerpt that I liked a lot:

“He knew the leg needed to be tended to, even if he didn’t quite trust the person would do the tending. But, given the lack of options, he resigned himself to it.

‘You have absolutely no respect for good Scots whiskey. May I have another drink? I assure you I’m filled with plenty of spirits that would be well assuaged by the potion.’ Then he gave her the smile that had melted half the hearts in the ton and spread a good portion of their legs.

She gave him the drink. Then the stick.

He obligingly bit down.

‘Are you ready?’ she asked.

‘Madam,” he said, taking the stick out of his mouth, ‘I will never be ready for you to cut into me. However, I am resigned.’

He replaced the stick and bit down hard.”

I liked Ms. Driscoll’s writing style and the pace of the book. When I read a book I want to be invested in these people, I want to care for them, and Ms. Driscoll has managed to meet all those requirements for me. I’m looking forward to visiting these people over and over. However, I still wanted just a bit more depth and detail. For example…


Just two or three more sentences would make me feel and not only see the first reunion between Ned and Jane.

All of the secondary characters in this book are well written, three-dimensional with strong voices of their own. I understand that each one will have their own story, and let me tell you, I can’t wait to meet Lizzie’s hero. The man who tames her will certainly deserve respect of her brother the Duke. Speaking of our Duke, Ms. Driscoll has created a very strong character in writing him and she has managed to keep him under control, lest he take over Ned’s story. Not many authors can balance the secondary characters so well, but she has done an outstanding job at that! I will be very disappointed not to have Rosalind fall in love with our Duke. This is a wonderful story of true love, trust, family and friendship. It’s a keeper and ‘must read.’

Yet another discovery of a début author that I’ve had the privilege to read. I am astonished at some of these women that seem to be coming out of the woodwork, brimming with obvious talent. These women have never been published, yet their prose can go toe-to-toe with the best of them. I know. I’ve read THE best of the best.

Grace Burrowes Unlurks

Guest Post & Giveaway with…




His idyllic  estate is falling down from neglect and

Nightmares of war give him no rest.

Then Devlin St. Just meets his new neighbor.



With her confident manner hiding a devastating

Secret, his lovely neighbor commands all of his

Attention, and protecting Emmaline becomes

Devlin’s most urgent mission.

I am BEYOND excited to welcome this Madam Author!

To help launch this adventure for us I’ve invited an author that is still very new to many. Her début book “The Heir” hit the bookstores last December and has garnered much praise. Today, she’s here to talk about her latest release, “The Soldier” as well as introduce herself to us. I for one want to know where has she been hiding her talent?

So without further ado, I give you Grace Burrowes, an author that’s well on her way to win us all with her wonderful prose.

Grace, welcome! Take it away!

“Where have you been lurking?”

Melanie, whose blog this is, asked me that after she finished reading “The Heir,” and it’s a fine question to pose when an author pops out of the starting gate with an eight-sibling series in the works.

I haven’t been lurking. I’ve been doing the same thing I suspect my readers are doing: Raising the offspring, paying the bills, learning the life lessons. Long, long ago I was an arts reporter for a small daily newspaper, but I never considered myself a writer—I was just the only person on staff with a degree in music and some interest in art. I did a shift copy editing for the same outfit, and ended up after college as a technical editor and writer, but still, I did not consider myself a writer.

I was, however, a mother—a single mother. In those years, I read, and read, and read. It was my escape, my consolation, my guilty pleasure, my way of insisting that I was a grown up no matter how many Thomas the Tank or Disney Princess videos I watched. I read romance, of course—I suspect most single moms do—sometimes a book a day.

While I raised the Beloved Offspring, paid the bills, and learned the life lessons. Eventually, Beloved Offspring was sufficiently raised that she went fluttering out of the nest. I hear from her regularly, and I miss her constantly, but the pride I take in her growth and maturation outweighs the missing… well, I hope it will soon, because I am very proud of her.

Somewhere in the midst of my daughter’s exodus, I became an increasingly fussy reader. I wanted substance in my characters, believable plots, emotional punch in the writing… fussy, fussy, fussy. I’d written a romance novel as part of my master’s program, but still I did not consider myself a writer.

Until one night I was working late at the office, supposedly lawyering up some document for filing at the courthouse, when I instead got out the book I was devouring that day… except I couldn’t devour it. For every line of dialogue, I thought of another line that might have worked better. For every internal aside by Our Hero, I thought up something more witty or compelling…

And into my head popped a thought: “I could write one these.” It was the type of “Now Hear This” thought that bonks us over the head with particularly intensity. I opened a new document and started writing a novel.

There ensued an orgy of writing that lasted at least two years. Novels sprouted from each other sideways, up, down, and from the middle. My imagination was an overfed spider plant, generating books at a great rate, and I have never had so much fun in all my born days. I love to write, I love to be in the story, to play Let’s Pretend at the computer.

Understand, please, that I do not own a TV or DVD player. I own no radio, I don’t get a newspaper. Until well after I started writing, there was no internet at the house. Of course I got a lot of writing done—anybody would get a lot of writing done in such a stimulus deprivation chamber.

My fiftieth birthday loomed up out of the fog of WIPs and MSs, and I decided what-the-heck, why not see if any of this schtuff is publishable? I signed up for a few writers’ conferences, and the first person I pitched offered me a contract. We now have eleven books in the publication queue, and of those, eight are already written at least in draft. Another twenty books are incubating in completed draft form, waiting to see the light of day.

That’s where I’ve been lurking. What can you take away from this recitation? Several things.

First, the best part of life can begin a lot later than you think—if you let it.

Second, having fun and being successful can coincide, but there’s usually some risk to ego involved.

Third, when it’s your passion, it doesn’t feel like work.

There are some books that come more easily than others, but the hardest writing day is still more fun than the easiest lawyering day.

And having realized that, I can now say, that yes, I’m a writer. A very happy writer.

And for those of you interested, an excerpt below follows from the third book in the Duke’s Obession series, “The Virtuoso.” Valentine’s story will hit the shelves in November, immediately after the first of the Windham sisters’ stories, “Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish.” By way of background, he’s a virtuoso pianist no longer able to make music. He’s trying to endure this sentence by restoring a run down country estate. She’s a widowed baroness in a world of trouble that her attractive neighbor might be able to resolve–if she’ll trust him. Here’s an excerpt from “The Virtuoso:” 

Well, I got my question answered, and I’m humbled by your story. Thanks for stopping by and sharing it with us. We wish you much success and many awards! If you’d like to get in touch with Grace, please click on her name, or you can find her on FACEBOOK, like I did. 

My DH through his FB stats…

I always get a kick out of reading my DH’s FB stats so here are some for your amusement as well!

Round Three and I guess they have another Doc working here. Unlike the last guy who had the precision of a watch maker, this guy had the finesse of a GED dropout working at Jiffy Lube! All I can say is…., FUCK!!!!!! This one hurt! He jammed me with so much Novocaine I can’t feel half my nose! Here’s where I go back into my rant about people being horrible at their jobs again!!!!

Definitely the move of Whitey. A 48 year old Lance Armstrong wannabe stuffed into a sausage casing tying up traffic. I never felt the need to dress up like Mario Andretti to take the car out for a spin! Wanna bet you don’t see too many of these cats riding through the hood?

The Hinsdale Housewife strikes again! The dude at the Mobile station told me some broad in an SUV clipped this parked scooter and kept going. In other news, I saw the meter maid that unjustifiably ticketed my car this week. Just as I figured, not the regular guy that knows my car but some dingbat talking on her cellphone while checking the meters. A greater testament to her motivation is how someone who walks around all day still manages to pack on 60 extra pounds? I left that part off of my complaint form.

My first “Uncle Pete’s” in the post Bin Laden era. This is much better than taking a permanent nap in the Marianas Trench! Another reason the terrorists hate us: Our superior pizza technology. We are CLEARLY a more civilized society! In the words of that Macaroni and Cheese cat: “You KNOW we luv it!”…

I give thee Excalibur my Lady!!!!!!! I knew I liked this chick! Oh yes!… Oh yes indeed your Grace!
When I’m not being entertained by looking at fancy cars, or “C-List” celebrities in town, I’m being amused by people’s actions. Whether it be oblivious housewives double parking and blocking traffic to this clown who decided to do a sharp U-turn to grab this parking spot but for some reason hammered the gas, screeched his tires and slammed into the parking meter. The worst part for him was probably not the damage, rather being openly heckled by the dizzy real estate broads from their office across the way. Nothing better than having a couple of 50 year old Yenta’s with too much makeup on yelling “Have another drink Buddy!”
Well it’s “official”. A gallon of gas has surpassed a cup of Starbucks in Illinois. I just paid $4.42 for premium. Good thing I don’t give an F and this only means I will be pressing this thing harder on I-88 next week. Let’s try for 105 mph shall we? If they are going to screw me on the price of gas, I’ll screw them on their speed limit laws. Sounds like a fair trade off to me?
Here’s a “feel good” as a taxpayer. Two Hinsdale cops getting their cars washed on the taxpayer’s dime. Ahh, last time we had a car washed here, I believe it cost $16! Really man???? No prisoners available to do this??? AND IL had the nerve to jam us with a tax increase???!!! F.U.!!!!!
As a society, how lazy have we become? Just slide out of bed and not even have to get dressed? Didn’t the Three Stooges used to roll like that? Besides, these “pajama jeans” make chicks asses look weird. Something isn’t right? Just a bit off? I got it ! No support for their overfed tushes! In the same way Nurses got fat once they went to wearing smocks and loose clothes so goes the way of the pajama mamas!
I’ve seen some poor decision making in my time but THIS is a really curious culinary choice for a snack coming from vending machine that is positioned next to an industrial toilet. I mean, how much of the envelope do you want to push?… Tuna. Thai. Spicy. Chili. It looks like a $2 “Medley” of death! Where are you in life when you’re making decisions like this????
It’s becoming PAINFULLY obvious why poor people have such bad teeth! WTF! THIS is what brushing, flossing AND having dental insurance gets you!!! It’s one of those industries, much like being a “Life Coach” that just charges WAYYY too much for what they’re actually doing! It isn’t that much different from being an auto mechanic!

Dancing With the Stars Final Five!

UPDATE: Romeo’s out!

RECAP of week eighth; Season 12 – Our remaining couples performed two routines, one ballroom dance and an instant Latin dance; first real injury of the season – Ralph Macchio .

Kirstie & Maks: I’m shocked that Kirstie’s still here. I’m not sure she’ll still be in the last four. I’m thinking not, but hey, she just might squeak through! She was so sexy tonight! Oh, and Maks PICKED her up! I was holding my breath the whole time!

Ralph & Karina: Ralph “Karate Kid” Dude’s still on, and I’ve come to LOVE this guy! What a sweetheart he is. He was dancing with an injury (his hamstring gave out during rehearsal) and so far he’s at the bottom of the score board. I think he’ll still be in last four. Even though he was limping, he was good and especially his spiky “do”! I swear it made him look half his age.

Romeo & Chelsie: Romeo, Romeo! I was so wrong about this cat! He’s good, very good. Their Salsa was BURNING my TV screen, but not in Judges’ eyes. Speaking of, WTH is wrong with those three? They’re so inconsistent, petty at times. WHATEVER! Back to Romeo…If Ralph’s injury persists, he just might bow out, if he doesn’t, Romeo might be kicked out…

Chelsea & Mark: Chelsea (the Disney chic, not the dancer; BTW – did you know there are MANY different spellings of this name? Confusing!) gets an 8, from the ‘three stooges’ and then Kirstie gets the same score?! Are you insane? That just does not compute! Chelsea, in my mind, is the best! She’s got what it takes to RUN with this trophy, so my money’s on her. I think those two are a pair, they’re K-I-SS-ing too much!

Hines & Kym: And then we have Hines Ward. I’m stunned by this guy! He’s just someone who can ‘come from behind’ and steal this trophy. I never, EVER thought he had a chance, and now he’s a serious contender! If they drop him tonight, it’ll be a shame. Kym Johnson, his partner, is just such a Babe! Great choreographer! Their instant dance rocked as well!

Here are the scores from the stooges:

Chelsea & Mark – Waltz (29) /Salsa (26)

Hines & Kym – Foxtrot (28) / Jive (26)

Romeo & Chelsie – Tango (27) / Salsa (25)

Kirstie & Maks – Argentine Tango (28) / Salsa (25)

Ralph & Karina – Viennese Waltz (25) / Cha-cha-cha (21)

I love Kirstie, but I think she needs to go home. I have a bad feeling that it’ll be my Ralph that’s going to get a boot tonight.

May RRAH reviews (part 1)

This months reviews I’m starting with Historical Fiction, which to be honest, I always thought it too much history and not so much romance. Guess what? I was proven wrong! I’m broadening my horizons, as it were, and venturing out of my ‘comfort zone, as of late and I’m glad of it. This year I’ve read three so far, and all three have proven me wrong.

THE COUNTESS AND THE KING is my first time reading an author I’m starting to like a lot. Her name is Susan Holloway Scott and she’s written  a few Historical Fiction’s that I feel compelled to get my hands on after I was done with her latest one. I’ve found out that she’s also blogging with Loretta Chase at TWO NERDY HISTORY GIRLS and they’ll crack you up along with giving you a treasure trove of history information on anything and everything from Regency Dances to wives for sale! I love these girls!

THE SECOND DUCHESS is by Elizabeth Loupas, one more author I’m happy to say, is just brilliant! This is her début book, set in the Renaissance Era, which I’m not so familiar with, but I’m going out of my way to find out more about it. For her first book, she’s outdone herself and I see only good things coming from this author. If you love good mystery, peppered with romance and intrigue, you HAVE to read this one. This story’s plot will keep you guessing who the villan is until the end.

IMPROPER LADIES is from Amanda McCabe and it’s two stories for the price of one, so right there you can’t go wrong! This is my fourth book by this author, but I read her books under her other pen name of Laurel McKee and I ADORED her work. I’ve enjoyed these two stories so much that I went the next day to stock up on six more: SPIRITED BRIDES, SCANDALOUS BRIDES and ROGUE GROOMS. All them feature two stories each, and I loved them all.

THE CHIEF was written by Monica McCarty an author I’m not so familiar with. This is book one of her  Highland Guard series. It’s basicly Navy SEALs in kilts. To some of you, this will appeal, but to me, it just made me laugh. I couldn’t take this book seriously. Not after “Braveheart” movie.

So, there you have it. Please remember, these are just my personal opinions and they in no way, shape or form should reflect on these hard-working authors. These reviews reflect what I like, my preferences, my personal likes and dislikes. We’re all different, and what I like, you might not. Hope you enjoy my reviews, and happy reading from one bookworm2another:)

“The Heir” Debut book by Grace Burrowes

STORY: An Earl Who Can’t Be Bribed…

Gayle Windham, Earl of Westhaven, is the first legitimate son and heir to the Duke of Moreland. To escape his father’s inexorable pressure to marry, he decides to spend the summer at his townhouse in London, where he finds himself intrigued by the secretive ways of his beautiful housekeeper.

A Lady Who Can’t Be Protected…

Anna Seaton is a beautiful, talented, educated woman, which is why it is so puzzling to Gayle that she works as his housekeeper.

As the two draw closer and begin to lose their hearts to each other, Anna’s secrets threaten to bring the earl’s orderly life crashing down—and he doesn’t know how he’s going to protect her from the fallout…

REVIEW: I’m not going to go into the plot, as the blurb already accomplished that task for me. What I want to do is announce: Here comes Grace Burrowes!

Lately I’ve read a number of début authors that I have wondered where the hell have they been hiding. Their talent is astounding!

But I digress, so let me start at the beginning. After reading all the high praise (and a handful of low), I’ve broken down and bought this “highly” recommended read. Well, what can I say? It was worth EVERY penny! I have to warn you, though. This is neither a ‘bodice ripper’ nor your average ‘cookie cutter’ romance. This romance novel is very much character driven and ‘courts’ the reader as much as our hero courts his lady-love. In Westhaven she gave us a hero that’s no ‘rake’ or a ‘scoundrel’ but a loving and patient man, and in Anna an affectionate, well-meaning, strong heroine.

Westhaven is one of those heroes that we want to, as Anna did, constantly hug and let be hugged back. I enjoyed the relationship between Westhaven and Anna because of its natural progression from employer to employee, from friendship to love. These two people had to work hard in accepting each other, seeing each other only as Anna and Gayle.  Their friendship and love took awhile to blossom, and I found that I enjoyed their slow courting. I was treated to a natural and easy flow of this intriguing duo.  Our hero displayed patience with our Heroine, and he controlled his lusts admiringly! The author took a huge gamble in deliberately developing true affection between the two main characters, and never allowing the lust to take over the story, and it paid off big time.

It’s not enough to say that this is well written book. This is a very cleverly written book full of period detail, intelligent and witty characters, believable mystery plot and very sweet, passionate love story.

Secondary characters, Morgan, The Duke and his Duchess, Dev and Val and especially Douglas and Gwen are given just enough time and space to hook us and ask for more.

I’m very impressed with Ms. Burrowes’ style of writing and truly looking forward to her next book in the series, and Dev’s story “The Soldier”. I am hereby officially requesting of the author to eventually give us a prequel to “The Heir”. We need to find out Gwen and Douglas’ love story. All those teasers hooked me real good!

If you’re not taken in with the romance part of this book, you’ll defiantly love the mystery part. The author should be congratulated on keeping us on pins and needles almost to the bitter end as to Anna’s real identity.

So, here I go, joining the throng of all of those that ‘highly’ recommend this book. Truly, don’t hesitate to take a journey with Anna and Gayle. This Earl and his Housekeeper will steal your heart, burrow deep inside and make you feel warm and fuzzy allover. Definite Keeper shelf material.