4 Stars, Genre Romance, Interlude Press, Melissa Graves, Reviewed by Karen

Review: Tainted Heart by Melissa Graves

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TitleTainted Heart (Mi Corazón Sangrante Series: Book Two)

Author:  Melissa Graves

Publisher:  Interlude Press

Pages/Word Count:  244 Pages

At a Glance: I’m looking forward to the next book in the series to see how everything unfolds, but didn’t love this one as much as I did the first.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb:  A year after meeting and falling for a young, mysterious vampire, Dr. Brian Preston is now living and working side-by-side with Kyle Hayes for the agency guiding vampire-human relations at a secret underground facility. As the couple adapts to the demands of Brian’s career tending to vampires, Kyle’s return to school and the needs of their evolving relationship, a dangerous conspiracy puts everyone they know and everything they have been working for in danger.

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Review:  So, I saw something online about a free book recently, and since funds have been kind of low lately, I checked it out. That book was Bleeding Heart by Melissa Graves, and I loved it! Since I saw it was book one in a series, I immediately went right into Tainted Heart, but to be honest, I wasn’t all that happy with the first part of the book. I kind of wanted to maybe punch Kyle, but I got over it…well, mostly.

I liked that in this book we got more info about the world this group lives in, and some background and insight into some of the other characters we have met in the series. The only real problem I had with Tainted Heart was that it dragged at times.

I loved the interaction between Kyle and Brian, but there were a lot of subplots going on and on. Was it all interesting? Sure, but it was just a little too much for me, and a couple of times I found myself skimming a little bit. When I realized it, I forced myself to go back and reread just so I didn’t miss something, though what I found is that I didn’t really miss anything.

Overall, I am glad I read this book and will be looking forward to the next one in the series to see how everything unfolds. I just didn’t love Tainted Heart has much as I did Bleeding Heart.

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You can buy Tainted Heart here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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All Romance eBooks

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Giveaways, Interlude Press, Jude Sierra

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Hush Blog Tour With Jude Sierra

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The Novel Approach is pleased to welcome author Jude Sierra today on the Hush blog tour. I asked Jude to chat a bit about the title of the book, so enjoy the conversation and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win a $25 Gift Card at Interlude Press.

Good luck!

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TNA: Hi, Jude, I’m so happy to have you at The Novel Approach for a visit on your Hush tour.

JS: Thank you so much for having me, I’m happy to be here!

TNA: Speaking of Hush, I’d love for you tell us a little bit about the title of the book. Was the book titled something else while you were writing it, or did you always know it would be called Hush? If so, what was the working title?

Hush as a title was a collaborative effort involving the Interlude team and myself in a hysterically funny phone call. The working title for the book was Dark Horse, because the origin of the book came from the Katy Perry song by that name. It never actually fit any theme in the book, it was just a placeholder. I am terrible at titles, and I rarely title things until I’ve completed them. Re-reading a work often generates an idea, but in the case of Hush, it just wasn’t happening. I think we’d all become so used to calling it Dark Horse, it was hard to imagine anything else. At one point during the conference call we became so desperate that our promotions director actually performed a dramatic reading of the lyrics to the song. That’s a moment I’ll never forget.

In the end, I think Hush was one of several ideas we were tossing around; at first we all kind of rejected it, but the more we talked about it, it just made sense.

TNA: How did you decide it was the perfect title for the book?

JS: Hush worked in little and big ways. The cover gives us one of them: a tryst in the library stacks at the university they attend. There’s a lot of that furtive, public sex in the book. Partly because it’s hot, but more because it creates a perfect set up for the dynamic they both enjoy — they both get a rush from the danger that requires a level of secrecy, but also the urgency they bring out in each other that makes it hard to stay quiet.

But more importantly than the sex, Hush is a book about secrets: ones the characters keep from each other, the ones they keep for themselves. Secrecy is one of the rules Wren sets down as a part of their game, and as the book progresses, one secret gives way to more, uncovers more, exposes more.

TNA: What’s the significance of the title in relationship to the book/characters?

JS: The secret Wren asks Cam to keep seems simple at first — that no one can know. The secrecy Wren asks for isn’t only for a specific sexual dynamic though: it is a part of a complicated set of rules Wren keeps for himself, both to protect his partner, but himselfas well. It becomes clear in the course of the book how much of himself Wren tries to keep from Cam, and how hard Cam fights to keep his true feelings as they develop from Wren. Through the book, we see how influential the secrets Wren is keeping — about himself, about his motivations, about his past — are in his decisions and choices, and how deeply informed they are by his fears. We see the toll complicated secrets can be, not only on Wren and Cam, but on their friendships and selves. The more tangled things get, the harder it is for either of them to keep secrets from each other.Hush covered the themes in this story so perfectly; once we thought it through, it became clear that it was absolutely the right title for the story.

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HUSH 900px COVER-FrontBlurb: Wren is one of “the gifted”—a college sophomore with the power to compel others’ feelings and desires. He uses his power as a game of sexual consent until Cameron, a naïve freshman, enters his life. As Cameron begins to understand his sexuality and gain confidence under Wren’s tutelage, Wren grows to recognize new and unexpected things about himself. Can their game become a relationship as the power shifts from teacher to student?

Buy Links: Interlude Press | Amazon

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Author BioAbout the Author: Jude Sierra first began writing poetry as a child in her home country of Brazil. Still a student of the form, she has expanded her repertoire with her first novel, Hush.

She began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007, and in 2011 began writing in online fan communities, where her stories have thousands of readers.

Where to find the author: Website | Facebook Author Page | Twitter: @judesierra | Goodreads

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THE GIVEAWAY:

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Guest Post and Giveaway: The Go Your Own Way Blog Tour With Zane Riley

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The Novel Approach welcomes author Zane Riley today on the Go Your Own Way blog tour. For Zane’s visit, I asked him to chat with us about “Bad Boys”. Just what is it that makes them so irresistible? Enjoy his answer and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win a $25 Gift Card at Interlude Press.

Good luck!

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Bad boys: You can’t live with them, you can… probably can live without them.

A lot of people do. They live inside the lines and in their boxes and houses without ever second guessing themselves. For some people, that life is enough. They follow every guideline and rule placed before them and never have a want or need to question it. And for others, they do nothing else. Bad boys can come to life in a single instance of rebellion—throwing their food at someone, dumping the finger paints on the floor, or dropping a cherry bomb in a mailbox. Sometimes they’re forced into a world where they have to fend for themselves at a young age. Others just think the jacket and attitude make them look cool.

A bad boy represents the one thing we’re always encouraged not to do: Break the rules. They challenge what’s set before them. That’s an appealing idea in many cultures for reasons different to the individual. But every culture comes with a set of instructions, not on a piece of paper, but through actions and words of encouragement from the people around you. Bad boys take those instructions and stomp them into the dirt.

They’re a life away from the moral obligations you’re raised to adhere to throughout your childhood. In a modern western culture, that bad boy takes a fairly distinct shape: dark, brooding, handsome, a rebel without a cause with a leather jacket and a smirk. James Dean is a popular icon for the role. Han Solo is another and my personal favorite.

It’s sexy to be bad, to live both outside the law and for yourself. But there’s a balance that needs to happen as well. Every bad boy needs a redeeming quality—one little characteristic (that evolves into several) that makes people like them. They need a kind heart. It might be buried and chipped, even cracked like a window that’s been shot up, but their heart, ultimately, must be kind. They can be crass and crude and misguided, but they can’t be cruel. Otherwise, their counterpart, the “good” character will want very little to do with them. A balance needs to be maintained between them to accompany a slow revealing of the bad boy’s kindness that builds with their relationship.

One of the greatest parts of writing such a relationship is the little moments where all the sparks between them erupt into a little plume of flame, a true flame and not the bursts of fire that come with heated attraction. It should be something real and lasting, a moment that alters a life forever. They can spend so much time despising one another and never take a moment to stop and know each other, that when it happens, it’s stunning. It knocks the breath right out of you when you see two such characters realize what’s so obvious from your vantage point. Every person is more than what you see or hear. It’s in what they say and don’t, how they breathe and sleep, whether or not they wipe their mouth on a napkin or their sleeves. That’s the greatest moment in these stories, as a writer, when you take characters that appear so opposite on the outside, and bring them together under the surface. It’s almost as if they’re meeting for the first time all over again. In a way they are. Every second spend learning something new about another is like starting all over again.

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GYOW 900px COVER-FrontBlurb: Will Osborne couldn’t wait to put the roller coaster ride of his public education behind him. Having suffered bullying and harassment since grade school, he planned a senior year that would be simple and quiet before going away to college and starting fresh. But when a reform school transfer student struts into his first class, Will realizes that the thrill ride has only just begun.

Lennox McAvoy is an avalanche. He’s crude, flirtatious, and the most insufferable, beautiful person Will’s ever met. From his ankle monitor to his dull smile, Lennox appears irredeemable. But when Will’s father falls seriously ill, Will discovers that there is more to Lennox than meets the eye.

Buy Links: Interlude Press | Amazon US

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Author BioAbout the Author: Zane Riley wrote his first work of fan fiction in the fourth grade, a Star Wars story in a notebook recently unearthed from the back of a closet.

Zane is a transgender writer and recent recipient of a degree in English: Creative Writing from the University of Mary Washington. Go Your Own Way is his first novel.

In his spare time, Zane is a musician and frustrated fan of the Baltimore Orioles.

Find Zane At: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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THE GIVEAWAY:

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Guest Post and Giveaway: The Love Starved Blog Tour With Kate Fierro

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Hi, everyone! I know this isn’t the usual post time for blog tours here at The Novel Approach, but we had some technical difficulties to get ironed out, and now we’re ready to welcome author Kate Fierro on her Love Starved blog tour.

Once again, I’ve gone the route of cover art and asked Kate to chat a bit about the artwork for the book, with a focus specifically on:

• Who is the cover artist?
• How much input did you have in the design?
• How much importance do you place on a book’s cover—do you think books really are judged by their covers?
• What made you decide to go with an illustrated cover?
• How closely did the artist capture your characters?

Enjoy Kate’s answer, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win a $25 Gift Card for Interlude Press.

Good luck!

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Hi Lisa,

Thank you for hosting me on your blog! I will gladly talk about my cover because it’s a thing of beauty.

The first time I saw my cover art was one of the truly magical moments in the journey towards the publication of my debut novel. It was one of those steps that drove home the realization that yes, there was an actual, real book in the making – a book with my words and thoughts and characters in it. My hands shook and my heart pounded when I got the email from my publisher containing the first picture; I was excited, but also terrified. What if I hated it? What if it didn’t fit the idea of my book that I had in my head at all? All the book covers by Interlude Press that I’d seen were beautiful and perfectly crafted to the novels, but what if…

I shouldn’t have worried. When I looked at the proposed cover, I loved it instantly. It felt surreal and amazing to actually see the characters that had only lived in my head for so long. And the luminosity of the picture, the beautiful play of lights and shadows, was a perfect representation of the recurring element of stars and fairy lights in the story.

I’m no artist, so I’m glad that most of the decisions concerning the cover have been taken out of my hands. All I did was send photographs of men that fit my vision of Micah and Angel (heavily annotated: “this hairstyle but lips from the other photo, sans stubble but add dimples…” – you get the picture), and then let out the final squeals of delight (that is, accept the final version). I have BuckeyeGrrl Designs (http://www.buckeyegrrl-designs.com/) to thank for the cover idea and design, as well as the choice of the style and artist. I was delighted to learn that the cover was illustrated by Valerie Schroedl, an animation student whose fan works I’ve loved for a long time. RJ reached out to her when the concept of my cover was first discussed, because Valerie is known for her gorgeous work with lights. She says that lighting is the first thing in her head when she starts thinking about a new drawing, and it shows; the radiance in her drawings is what pulls attention. You can see some of Valerie’s works on her blog, valerieschroedlart.tumblr.com.

I’m really happy with my cover – I love the style, the color scheme and the typography. There is a fun little detail on the back cover, too: a business card that plays an important role in the story. The fun part is, the email address on the card is an actual, functioning address of one of the main characters, and there are ways in which readers can use it once they read the book. (For the details, check the category “Custom-Made Fantasy” on my website).

I do believe that a good cover is an important element in the perception of a book. It’s not the be-all and end-all, of course, but in that short moment we get for the first impression, a beautiful, eye-catching cover raises the chances of keeping a potential reader’s attention and making them stop to read the blurb or leaf through the book. Plus, I just like pretty things :)

Would you reach for Love Starved based on its cover?

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Love Starved FrontCover-WEBBlurb: Micah Geller considers himself lucky: at 27, he has more money than he needs, a job he loves, a debut book coming out, and a brilliant career in information security before him. What he doesn’t have is a partner to share it with—a fact that’s never bothered him much.

But the romantic in him isn’t entirely dead. When a moment of weakness finds him with a contact to a high-class escort specializing in fulfilling fantasies, Micah asks for only one thing.

Show me what it’s like to feel loved.

Buy Links: Interlude Press | Amazon

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About the Author: Kate Fierro spent ten years translating, editing, and reviewing other people’s words before making an impulse decision to write down some of her own. She hasn’t been able to stop ever since. Kate lives in Europe and is bilingual, with more love for her adopted language than her native one.

With nearly a million words under her belt, Love Starved is Kate’s debut novel.

Where to find the author: Website | Twitter: @kate_fierro | Pinterest: MissKateFierro

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THE GIVEAWAY:

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Interlude Press, Lilah Suzanne, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: Spice by Lilah Suzanne

Title: Spice

Author: Lilah Suzanne

Publisher: Interlude Press

Pages/Word Count: 225 Pages

At a Glance: Spice is low on the angst meter, high on the delightful, with an unapologetic promise of happily-ever-after for its two heroes.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: As writer of the popular sex advice column, Simon Beck has an answer to every relationship question his readers can throw at him. When it comes to his own life, the answers are a little more elusive—until computer troubles introduce him to the newest and cutest member of his company’s IT support team.

Simon may be charmed by Benji’s sweet and unassuming manner, but will he find the answer to the one relationship question he has never been able to solve: How to know when he’s met Mr. Right?

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Review: Lilah Suzanne’s Spice is an adorable meet-cute of a love story: fresh, funny, romantic and touching. This is a character driven novel, sweet and simple, about finding Mr. Right; though almost missing him because Mr. Wrong consumes an excess of energy in just trying to figure out how to turn him into a tolerable Mr. Passable.

There’s a bit of a “there are none so blind…” bent to Spice, Simon Beck playing the man who gives women advice on everything from sex to body image issues, but when it comes to his own love life, can’t seem to suss out what the real thing looks and feels like…until he nearly lets the nerdy-sexy IT guy, Benji McHugh, slip through his fingers. Which would have been a tragedy because while Benji may not use words for a living the way Simon does, when he says the right thing…boy, does it count.

Through his advice columns for Ravish magazine, Simon begins to examine and share the building of his relationship with his readers. Hands-on sex tips come in really, well, handy, especially when the test subject curls his toes and is willing to play along. And believe me when I say Simon and Benji keep the mag supplied with plenty of juicy material. On top of being romantic, this novel is also sexy, and Simon and Benji are seriously playful and playfully serious about the business of falling for each other. These two characters are chock full of charm, even if Simon is a bit obtuse at times, but on the plus side, Benji is the equilibrium to Simon’s skittishness when he begins to question whether what he and Benji have is real.

Spice is low on the angst meter, high on the delightful, with an unapologetic promise of happily-ever-after for its two heroes. When push comes to shove, these two men communicate with each other, don’t hide things for the other’s own good, and while the message is that every day and everything won’t be fireworks and excitement, the takeaway is when you’re with someone you not only love but like, you’ve found someone worth fighting for.

The one detractor for some readers might be this story is narrated in the third person present tense, which takes some getting used to, but it’s bright and breezy, filled with hope and optimism. The antagonist in the story is also built up to be a bit of a troublemaker, but then fades to black and disappears without being half the threat I expected him to be, but those things aside, I’ll end by saying when you’re in the mood for something sweet and a little sassy, Lilah Suzanne has offered that to readers, and has done so in a couple of guys who charmed the pants right off of each other. And we get to watch.

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You can buy Spice here:

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

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Q&A and Giveaway: The Spice Blog Tour With Lilah Suzanne

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The Novel Approach welcomes Lilah Suzanne today on the Spice blog tour. Lilah took a few minutes to answer some questions for me, and she’s also offering the chance for ONE lucky reader to win a $25 Interlude Press gift card and FIVE will win an e-copy of the book. Be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

Good luck!

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Q: Lilah, I’m not going to lie: I fell immediately in love with the cover for Spice. How big a part did you play in the design? Did you come up with the line on the t-shirt, or was that all your cover artist’s doing?

LS: I did not come up with that T-shirt or the cover design, it was all the artist and art director’s doing. I wish I had! Benji wears a lot of nerdy T-shirts in the book, but that one is definitely my favorite. We do have meetings about the cover and any ideas I might have for it, but I’m really not a visual artist type at all. I absolutely adore the cover, though, it’s beyond perfect.

Q: Do you find nerds kind of sexy? What do you love about nerdy guys?

LS: I find enthusiasm to be very attractive, so the kind of people who are weird and quirky and happily, boldly so are the type that tend to catch my eye. I’m not interested in any sort of bored detached irony.

Q: Would you call yourself a nerd? If so, what’s your nerdiest quality?

LS: I’m not sure if I would call myself a nerd! I do tend to like the things that I like very, very much. And I’m quiet and often pretty awkward. Okay, maybe I am a nerd.

Q: If you were to write an advice column, what would you offer advice on and what would it be called?

LS: Well, I think I’ve gotten pretty adept at writing a relationship advice column! In fact, I’m channeling Simon over on his blog: ask-eros-blog.tumblr.com, where the advice column fun continues outside of the book, with an open submission for any reader’s pressing relationship questions. For entertainment purposes only, of course!

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Spice 4x6x COVER-Front-1Blurb: As writer of the popular “Ask Eros” advice column, Simon Beck has an answer to every relationship question his readers can throw at him. When it comes to his own life, the answers are a little more elusive—until computer troubles introduce him to the newest and cutest member of his company’s IT support team. Simon may be charmed by Benji’s sweet and unassuming manner, but will he find the answer to the one relationship question he has never been able to solve: how to know when he’s met Mr. Right?

Buy Links: Interlude Press | Amazon US

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About the Author: Lilah Suzanne has been writing actively since the sixth grade, when a literary magazine published her essay about an uncle who lost his life to AIDS. A freelance writer, she also authored a children’s book and has a devoted following in the online fan community.

Social Media Links: Website | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Pinterest

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