Review: Love, In English by Karina Halle

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Title: Love, In English

Author: Karina Halle

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: April 20, 2014

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Synopsis

He’s thirty-eight. I’m twenty-three.

He speaks Spanish. I speak English.

He lives in Spain. I live in Canada.

He dresses in thousand-dollar suits. I’m covered in tattoos.

He’s married and has a five-year old daughter.

I’m single and can’t commit to anyone or anything.

Until now.Because when they say you can’t choose who you fall in love with, boy ain’t that the f*#king truth.

***

To a restless dreamer like Vera Miles, it sounded like the experience of a lifetime. Instead of spending her summer interning for her astronomy major, she would fly to Spain where she’d spend a few weeks teaching conversational English to businessmen and women, all while enjoying free room and board at an isolated resort. But while Vera expected to get a tan, meet new people and stuff herself with wine and paella, she never expected to fall in love.

Mateo Casalles is unlike anyone Vera has ever known, let alone anyone she’s usually attracted to. While Vera is a pierced and tatted free spirit with a love for music and freedom, Mateo is a successful businessman from Madrid, all sharp suits and cocky Latino charm. Yet, as the weeks go on, the two grow increasingly close and their relationship changes from purely platonic to something…more.

Something that makes Vera feel alive for the first time.

Something that can never, ever be.

Or so she thinks.

 

 

Meagan’s 5 Star Review

 Hussy. Tramp. Whore. The other woman. Adulterer. How do you write a novel from the point of view of a woman in love with a married man and not have the reader immediately attach one of these labels? Karina Halle has created a story so realistic that all your preconceived notions of what this woman should act like are shattered. Halle takes something taboo and weaves a story so believable that you soon find yourself wondering what you would do in the same situation.

            Vera Miles is an outsider. Sure she fits in enough, but there is a loneliness in her she can’t quite fill. Her adventurous spirit finds her answering an ad to live in Spain for a month. The program takes place at a resort where English speakers mix with Spaniards who need help honing their conversational English. It is there, at Casa de las Palabras, that she meets Mateo Casalles. Mateo is a retired soccer player. He is now a restaurateur and has come to Casa de las Palabras to better his conversational English for international business.

            When Vera and Mateo meet, it isn’t all fireworks and singing birds. There is an attraction there, but when Vera sees Mateo is married she doesn’t even think of a relationship with him. As the program begins, Mateo and Vera are continually placed in each other’s paths. What’s so beautiful about this book is how real their relationship plays out. They begin as strangers who quickly turn into friends. But even though they are just friends, there is always an undercurrent of something more. Vera knows Mateo is married and refuses to be the other woman, especially since her parents divorced after her father had an affair. But every day it gets harder to not act on her attraction to Mateo, especially when everything he does seems to have a double meaning. In every innocent touch or conversation there is an undercurrent of lust and wanting.

            One of my favorite parts of this novel is that it doesn’t end where you would expect it. Karina Halle refuses to give us a clichéd fairytale romance. The story is well thought out and continues on well after the damage of Vera and Mateo’s actions have taken effect. Instead of creating a shallow character who only has concern for her feelings, Vera is constantly second-guessing her decisions. I respect Halle so much for not giving Vera an easy way out. No matter the choice, to be with Mateo or move on with her life, each decision comes with a mountain of problems to overcome.

            I started this book with interest. As a fan of Halle’s Artists Trilogy I was happy to be reading another of her books, but I no preconceived notion of creating any emotional attachment. Like Mateo and Vera, my relationship with this book developed slowly until I was obsessed with their story. I found it hard to keep my eyes on the page in front of me as I constantly wanted to jump ahead. Hours would pass as I fell deeper and deeper into Vera and Mateo’s world. This book that looks so innocent soon became a story that would live with me long after I had finished. Love, in English from beginning to end is a journey of the worst and best kind. A forbidden love so raw and painful it will tear at your soul as you read it.

Excerpt

Claudia shrugged and pulled down at her yellow tee. “Not my problem. Eduardo is nice but Ricardo is really nice.”

“How did it happen?” I asked, kinda wanting the sordid details.

She was coy. “The way it usually happens.”

“Did you make the first move?”

Another shrug. “Why not?”

I swear, a shrug and a “why not?” were the Spaniards’ go-to answer for everything.

“Well, then I guess it seems safe—and a little boring now—to tell you that I have a crush on someone.”

Her brows quirked up. “Other than Mateo?”

“What?”

“You are sleeping with Mateo, no?”

“WHAT?!”

“No?”

“No!” I exclaimed, appalled. “Why does everyone keep thinking that?”

“Because you are always together,” she said simply. She took a sip of wine. “The attraction is very obvious. So, I figured you must be sleeping together.”

“He’s married!”

“Yes, but you are not.”

I shook my head adamantly. “It’s wrong. I don’t want to be the other woman. I’ve seen my dad go for the other woman, and I can’t put Mateo’s daughter through that,” I said. “Or his wife,” I quickly added.

“That doesn’t mean that you can’t have feelings for anyone else.”

“Yes, it does mean that.”

“Maybe you are meant to be together.”

“We’re not! There isn’t even a together. We’re just friends. I haven’t done anything about it, and so far my feelings are totally one-sided.”

Claudia got up off the couch and brought a pack of cigarettes out of her front jean pocket. “If you think it is on the one side, you have not seen the way he looks at you.”

She walked over to her small patio table and pulled out a chair. I got up and stormed after her, my nerves dancing excitedly.

“What do you mean, the way he looks at me?” I asked, lowering my voice in case there were people around listening. I felt like bouncing off the walls.

She slid the ashtray toward her as I sat down. “You do not see it. But I do. I think everyone does. He looks at you like…like you’re his favorite food.”

“Favorite food?”

She lit her cigarette. “Yes. You’re like his favorite food in the whole world. He wants to have you, eat you, devour you. He thinks about you all the time, craves you. But he cannot have you for one reason or another. Perhaps you upset his stomach. Maybe he is on a diet, yes? All he wants is a taste, but he cannot even have that. That is how he looks at you.”

I sat there, stunned, as some of her smoke blew in my face. That’s how Mateo looked at me? Like he wanted to eat me? I was pretty sure that’s how I looked at him. Just last night I was contemplating nibbling on his earlobes.

“And yes,” she said, leaning closer to me, a small smile on her lips, “that is also how you look at him.” Great, a mind reader. “But you are more subtle about it. You try not to let everyone know. But, we know.”

“There is nothing to know,” I reminded her, poking the table with my finger for emphasis. “We are not sleeping together. He is married. I have a crush. That is it. The end of the story.”

“A crush?” she questioned. “Vera, I think you’re in love with him.”

No fucking way. Not love. That did not happen with me, not ever and not now.

“You can’t fall in love in a week,” I told her heatedly.

“You can fall in love in a second,” she said with a snap of her fingers. “The heart has no regard for time.”

With that sobering thought, Claudia told me about her ex-boyfriend and how they fell in love at first sight then took the conversation back to Ricardo and their exploits. I envied her so badly right then and there. She could fawn over Ricardo, kiss him, fuck him, and no one would ever bat an eye. It was okay for them to be together. It wasn’t forbidden.

I gulped the rest of the wine and left her apartment, heading back to reception to meet Cristina for my next one-on-one, my mind and heart and hormones all over the place. Lo and behold, Mateo was walking up the path toward me.

He was on the phone, smiling.

His shirt was off and slung over his shoulder, exposing his bare chest, abs, and arms.

Holy fuck.

For a moment, I was sure that time had stopped. Or maybe ever single nerve, cell, vein, bone, muscle in my body just slowed as I took him all in.

From his thick-veined forearms to his sculpted shoulders and broad chest peppered with neatly-trimmed chest hair, to his six-pack abs, he had, by far, the best body I’d ever seen on a man. He kept himself in fine-ass shape, looking more like a young athlete than anything else. He and David Beckham had more in common than I thought, although David’s skin tone wasn’t as mesmerizing. Mateo’s color was amazing, just beautiful, this dark, golden bronze that covered him everywhere. I wanted so badly to just touch him, to lick the sheen of sweat off his skin. I bet he tasted like victory.

And to think this was the man that Claudia said wanted to taste me.

I really, really wanted to believe her.

Meanwhile, I was just standing there like I was melting into a puddle of myself. I clamped my mouth shut as he walked past and I heard him say into the phone, “No, mi tesorito, it was easy, I didn’t injure myself.” He was beaming, talking about the game, to his wife. To his tesorito. And he called their relationship complicated? This was complicated.

He winked at me in acknowledgement, his smile becoming broader. I tried to smile back but it wouldn’t come. I just stared at him, feeling stupid, foolish, and strangely rejected. In a perfect world I may have been his favorite food, but it still wasn’t what he got served every day. I turned around and walked down the hill, my heart feeling like a pincushion.

“Vera!” I heard him call out from behind. I stopped and nervously glanced over my shoulder. He was holding the phone’s receiver to his chest, grinning at me. “I need to ask you your question.”

“What?” I asked, hoping it was quick.

“Who is your favorite Spaniard here?”

Seriously?

And yet I couldn’t lie to him.

“You,” I said, more to myself than to him. Then I turned around and walked away as quickly as I could.

 

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About the Author

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With her USA Today Bestselling The Artists Trilogy published by Grand Central Publishing, numerous foreign publication deals, and self-publishing success with her Experiment in Terror series, Vancouver-born Karina Halle is a true example of the term “Hybrid Author.” Though her books showcase her love of all things dark, sexy and edgy, she’s a closet romantic at heart and strives to give her characters a HEA…whenever possible.

Karina holds a screenwriting degree from Vancouver Film School and a Bachelor of Journalism from TRU. Her travel writing, music reviews/interviews and photography have appeared in publications such as Consequence of Sound, Mxdwn and GoNomad Travel Guides. She currently lives on an island on the coast of British Columbia where she’s preparing for the zombie apocalypse with her fiance and rescue pup.

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Review: Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher

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Synopsis

When reclusive novelist Senna Richards wakes up on her thirty-third birthday, everything has changed. Caged behind an electrical fence, locked in a house in the middle of the snow, Senna is left to decode the clues to find out why she was taken. If she wants her freedom, she has to take a close look at her past. But, her past has a heartbeat…and her kidnapper is nowhere to be found. With her survival hanging by a thread, Senna soon realizes this is a game. A dangerous one. Only the truth can set her free.

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Christina’s Review – 5 Stars

I wish I owned the vocabulary to do this review justice. 

Mud Vein is not a romance, but it is very much a love story.

When Senna wakes up in a cold house, out in the middle of a snowy forest (yes, much like straight from the pages from Misery by Stephen King) and finds Isaac bound in the downstairs bedroom and nobody else around for miles; she has to wonder how she found herself in this situation, but more importantly, what she and Isaac can do to get out of it. 

Senna is a best selling author. She also battles unknown psychological issues, which are only magnified when several life experiences (including being raped) are thrown at her. It is when she is raped that Isaac comes to her rescue and he sees to her for several months, making sure she gets back on her feet.

Isaac just happened to find Senna years prior on a jogging trail that Christmas morning after having been brutally attacked. He was there for her, taking her to the hospital, and basically helping her get back on her feet, especially when she is thrown another curveball when she is in the hospital. (Sorry for being vague, trying for no spoilers!) He encourages her to seek counseling so that she can start to heal not only from the rape, but from all of the other issues that are keeping her from leading the life she should be living.

Much of the book is made up of scenes from the past. There is even a book within a book which I thought was quite interesting, and I liked it. Moving between the past and the present was a very effective way to truly get an understanding of the depth of the relationship between Senna and Isaac. I’m sure that there will be many people that will be immediately turned off by the idea of Isaac being married and what ends up happening in the book, but I think it is important to really understand the relationship between the two, and what that type of relationship could mean to someone like Senna, who has problems processing her feelings. They’re both human, and under severe duress, it is not unthinkable that regardless of how deep Isaac’s feelings are towards his wife, his feelings toward Senna would revert back to what they may have been years ago.

I am entranced by broken characters. And not just characters that are broken due to various consequences; divorce, bullies, abuse, death, but those that are “organically” broken, or just wired that way. I make no attempt to hide my own struggles with mental health from those that know me. It is through my own constant internal battle that I am able to relate to these types of characters. I’ve seen other reviewers critical of the character’s (and author’s) views on suicide. The character thinks about suicide, not her own, but of others, and their lack of originality in going about it. I’ve had those thoughts. Not because I felt the need to minimize suicide in any form, but more so from an angle of storing that info for later, when it suit my needs.

This is not an easy read, by any means. Your emotions are likely to run the gamut until finally despair is about all you have left. I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading this, it is an incredible book that has found its way onto my favorites, but it is not for everyone. There are several subjects within the book that may be triggers for some readers, so it is best to go into it with an open mind and the realization that it’s okay to put it down and walk away. It is however beautifully written with a storyline that pulls you in from the beginning and characters that will break your heart.

This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Fisher, and you’d better believe I will be going back to read all of the others. If I could give the book more than five stars, I certainly would. This book is bound to be polarizing, anything that pushes us out of our comfort zone is begging for controversy. You may not like it; it may make you uncomfortable. You may love it, you may find yourself overcome with emotion. No matter what it does to you, you’ll find yourself changed by it.

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Exceprt

You don’t have to be alone. We are mostly born that way, though. We grow up being nurtured to believe that the other half of our soul is somewhere out there.  And since there are six billion people inhabiting our planet, chances are one of them is for you. To find that person, to find your soul piece, or your great love we must count on our paths diverging, the tangling of lives, the soft whispering of one soul recognizing another.

I found my piece. She wasn’t what I was expecting. If you formed a woman’s soul out of black graphite, bathed it in blood, and then rolled it around in the softest rose petals, you still wouldn’t have touched on the complication that was, my match.

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About the Author

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I am a real life villain, truly. I drink sick amounts of Starbucks. Most of the time my hair smells like coffee. I was born in South Africa, and lived there for most of my childhood. I moved to Seattle just for the rain. Rome is my favorite place in the world so far, Paris comes in at a close second. I read and write more than I sleep. When I was eleven, I wrote an entire novel about runaway orphans, using only purple ink. I am addicted to Florence and the Machine and will travel to see concerts. I love scary movies and giraffes. I spend way too much time on Facebook. Meet you there?…

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Cover Reveal: One True Thing by Lynne Jaymes

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Title: One True Thing

Author: Lynne Jaymes

Genre: NA Contemporary Romance

Release Date: May 22, 2014

Cover Designer: Helen Williams at AllBookedOut.com

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Can one true thing save a love built on lies?

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Synopsis

“That was all before…” Jolene waves her hand in the air, but we both know what she means. Before I touched her in the most intimate places. Before I felt her shudder under my tongue. Before she tasted the salt on my skin. Before I promised a lot more than I could deliver.

Ty Branch has wanted one thing his entire life—to play professional baseball. When he gets a chance to move from San Francisco to play at Texas powerhouse Garvin State University, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make his dream come true, even if that means hiding his past. But when he meets dance major Jolene Taylor, the chemistry is so strong his single-minded quest begins to weaken. As he gets to know her quirky, small-town family, he falls more deeply in love, but becomes even more sure he can never tell her the truth about his family. When a surprise visitor blows his past wide-open, Ty is forced to come to terms with his secrets. But is the damage already done with Jolene or can he find a way to sacrifice everything he’s worked for in order to win back the heart of a once-in-a-lifetime love?

 

Excerpt

            “Thank you,” Jolene says, as I hold the door open for her, the soft Texas twang in her voice making my heart beat faster as she brushes by me, her dark brown eyes fixed on the ground. Jolene Taylor. Dance major, sophomore, comes from somewhere outside of Abeline—way outside according to Jessie, one of those towns that has only four stoplights and a Dairy Queen with a sign that congratulates the FFA on their livestock win.

            “No problem,” I reply, following her through the door. We approach the stairs to the second floor together, but I slow my pace so that she can get ahead of me, hoping that I don’t look like a stalker and that she doesn’t notice that I’m sneaking looks at her ass as she walks up the steps. And it is a perfect little ass. Jolene has a way of moving that’s more like gliding than actual walking, her feet turned out just slightly in that way that dancers have. She’s wearing baggy sweats that sit at the place where the two dimples on her lower back meet her spine and a workout top holding her small, perky breasts that leaves little to the imagination. I can see the muscles in her back move as she walks and that turns me on more than anything, so I shift my eyes up to the expanse of bare skin on the back of her neck, covered by a few dark tendrils of hair that escape from the messy bun on top of her head. Even at her messiest, Jolene is perfection. But I can’t talk to her, there’s no point. There’s too much I’d have to say, too much I’d have to give up to make it real.

            I want her to look back as I approach the door to my apartment, nosily fumbling for the keys to try to get her attention, but she stares straight ahead, her back tall and her thin, muscled arms gripping the laundry basket as she heads for her apartment at the end of the hall. I sigh as I take one last look at her and swing my apartment door open. Gotta keep my eyes on the prize. Jolene Taylor is just one more thing I shouldn’t be messing with this year.            

 

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About the Author

Lynne Jaymes

Lynne Jaymes is a life-long reader and accidental writer living in Northern California. She writes contemporary fiction that is sometimes funny, sometimes sexy and always from the heart. Although this is not her first venture into writing – Lynne is traditionally published in another genre under another name – she loves the indie world for the freedom it gives her to write the stories that call to her, the ones that mean the most and the ones that editors have said would never sell. ONE TRUE THING is the adaptation of the first book she ever wrote and the story is one that is close to her family and has lived deep in her soul for years. She is also the co-author of the second book in the UNFILTERED Series, UNFILTERED & UNKNOWN. Keep up with Lynne at www.lynnejaymes.comon Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Release Blitz: The Point of Return by Stacey Lynn

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Title: Point of Return (Nordic Lords #1)

Author: Stacey Lynn

Release Date: April 22, 2014

Genre: Contemporary Romance

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Synopsis

Deceit.

Destruction.

Death.

Olivia Masters grew up familiar with all of them. The daughter of the President of the Nordic Lords Motorcycle Club, Olivia always knew she wanted nothing to do with any of it. Her plans were made to leave the town she grew up in as soon as she and her boyfriend, Daemon Knight, turned eighteen.

But then Olivia was shot. Her mother killed in front of her. Fleeing became her reality.

Forced to return to her hometown of Jasper Bay five years later, events beyond Olivia’s control put her directly back into the life she swore she’d never return to.

Her dad wants her back in the family. Daemon wants her in his bed.

But just as Olivia begins to accept her destiny, history finds a way to repeat itself.

This time, will Olivia be strong enough to fight for the family she once turned her back on? Or will she once again flee from the only life that has ever felt like home?

 

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About the Author

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Amazon Bestselling Author of Just One Song and Just One Week, Don’t Lie to Me, and Remembering Us.

I am a wife, a mom, and a writer. I can often be found curled up on the couch with a good book, or obsessively eating Skittles in a very complicated and organized manner. No joke.

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Book Blitz: The Fall by Sienna Lane & Amelia Rivers

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Title: The Fall

Authors: Sienna Lane and Amelia Rivers

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Release Date: April 12, 2014

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Synopsis

When you live forever, you think you’ve seen it all. 
Faces blur, time stands still, and nothing can surprise you.

Until I meet her. 

The timing couldn’t have been worse. Trouble brews. 
My brethren are divided, but the sides remain unclear. 
And now, on top of everything, I’m falling for a human.

 

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