Friday, August 16, 2013

I'm Moving

Just a quick note. I'm moving this blog over to Word Press as of immediately. I imported all my posts from here, so if you're looking for something, it can be found there. Hope to see some of you follow me on the new blog.

http://torymichaels.wordpress.com

Have a great day, everyone!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Nail Biting and Life

Well, I did it. I went into my first-ever pitch session on Saturday. It went well. The editor I pitched to actually requested the full, though I don't have it. They take partials on proposal and so I offered to send her the first three and proposal for the book/series. I actually  submitted my proposal to the publisher today, so now it's the waiting game. First time in almost a year I've been sitting in this particular position and I'm nervous. But, whether or not they accept it (and they may well not - they're a very good publisher and who knows what's going to catch someone's interest), I at least got the experience in pitching.

Yeah. Pitching. Yikes. I wanted to toss my cookies, and I don't mean the ones I baked for my husband on Sunday. Heh. I stammered and I babbled a bit, but once I got past the initial description of the book and could go into an actual discussion, responding to her specific questions, I got much better.

Let's see, what else is going on in Tory world? I'm currently debating whether to stay here on Blogger or move over to WordPress (Tory Michaels' World). WordPress seems very easy and I like the look of it. Blogger's changed a lot recently and I don't think I like all of the changes. I sorely miss my Google Reader and barely read any blogs now. I'd lose all my followers here if I move, and I think blogs are on the downward spiral.

What I may do is keep both, for now, exporting my blogger blogs over to WordPress on a regular basis, and hopefully gradually coax people over to WordPress. Not sure how I'll do that, but hopefully some of you who read and don't comment, will actually follow me over there.

Hope you're liking the reviews I do. I'm trying to get more up. Lord knows I read a lot, it's just a matter of actually forcing myself to sit down and write the reviews. Hehe.

Anyway, hope to hear from you if you check out the WordPress blog! Let me know what you think of it over there.

Have a great night!

ARC Review: Under a Spell

Under a Spell (Underworld Detective Agency #5)

Author: Hannah Jayne
Publisher: Kensington Books
Date of Publication: August 6, 2013
Description:

Count your blessings, guard your curses--and watch your back. . .
Sophie Lawson was seriously hoping life at the UDA would get back to relative normal now that her boss Pete Sampson has been reinstated. Unfortunately, her new assignment is sending her undercover into a realm where even the most powerful paranormals fear to tread. . .her old high school. Being a human immune to magic is no defense against soulless picture-perfect mean girls--or a secret witch coven about to sacrifice a missing female student. And Sophie's Guardian, uber-proper Englishman Will, is determined to convince Sophie he's the kind of temptation she should indulge in permanently. Now as the clock ticks down to apocalypse, he and Sophie will have to summon every trick in the book to battle devilish illusion, lethal sorcery--and betrayals they'll never see coming . . .

My Thoughts:

This is definitely part of a series, though I didn't know that when I picked it up from NetGalley. Sophie Lawson was pretty amusing as a character, though her snark got on my nerves. Anyone who knows me, knows I like snark and have snarkiness in my heroines. Unfortunately, Sophie was just waaaay over the top at times and places. There were a few times I almost gave up on the book. But, the overall story was intriguing enough that I ultimately couldn't put this book down and not finish it.

As I said, I enjoyed it though had issues. One of my main issues, beyond Sophie's pretty constant whining about high school, was her absolute blind spot to the ultimate villain (okay, one of the two) in the book. From almost the beginning, it was pretty clear who one of them was, and almost no one looked twice at the individual. (Sorry, trying not to spoil this, because it's worth the read, but on the other hand, one of my major problems comes from the issue of one of the villains).

I loved the secondary cast, from Sophie's two vampire roommates to her sexy Englishman Will and apparently a complicated relationship with an angel named Alex who works as a police officer. Some of Ms. Jayne's descriptions were hilarious and kept my attention even as I wanted to slap Sophie upside the head from time to time for being a ditz.

This book rated 3 stars from me. I might pick up other books in the series because I'm curious about how things got to where they are, but on the other hand, I'm not positive how much of Sophie I could actually take in a single (or more) sitting(s).

Thank you for letting me read this book, Kensington/Ms. Jayne.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Ugly Ducklings Finish First

Ugly Ducklings Finish First

Author: Stacy Gail
Publisher: Carina Press
Date of Publication: August 5, 2013
Description:

Metal Mouth. Queen Geek. Dr. Payton Pruitt heard it all growing up. But she's over it, and attending her ten-year high school reunion is the perfect way to prove it to herself. Even if there's only one person she's interested in seeing in Bitterthorn, Texas: Wiley Sharpe.
Now a respected lawyer, Wiley didn't live down to the label Most Likely to Be Slapped with a Paternity Suit. But recent acts of vandalism suggest someone still sees him as a heartbreaker, and the reunion seems a likely place to find the culprit. Instead, Wiley comes face-to-face with his old pal Payton—and is wowed not only by her transformation into a ravishing swan, but by the connection they still share.
Payton is pleased the playboy she used to tutor has grown into an honorable man, but she's too smart to fall for a guy with roots in a place she couldn't wait to leave. But while Payton is an academic genius, Wiley is the one with the PhD in pleasure, and he intends to use it to convince her to stay…

My Thoughts:

As with most Carina books, this is a quick, easy read. As I gave it a 5-star rating when I rated it on Goodreads, clearly I didn't have any major issues that took away from my appreciation of it. This featured a couple of classic tropes (nerd-girl turned sexy and reformed rake) and didn't particularly do anything original with them. But the way Ms. Gail presented them, I got plenty of giggles.

I liked seeing this couple get together. Payton was a sweetheart and yet still haunted by her high school days. She has mother issues which I enjoyed seeing her actually attempt to work through, making a pretty darned good start by the end of the book. Wiley was (for me) hilarious, in how everyone who knew his high school reputation (which was pretty much everyone in Bitterthorn), thought he was waaaay too familiar with the ladies. Yet he rather liked Payton back when she tutored him in high school and of course, she had the hots for him, though she had to hide it. After all, she was the nerd tutor and he was the uber-popular football star.

When they first meet at their 10-year reunion, Wiley doesn't recognize her, but she recognizes him. She has a bit of fun with that, but ultimately, the truth comes out quickly. They work through some of their issues.

The one disappointing factor that stuck with me, even a week or so after reading this book, came toward the end when Wiley was trying to protect Payton. I felt he was a bit of an ass, and could have handled it a lot better/smarter than he did.

There was a side-plot which involved Wiley and someone who was clearly out to get him (spay-painting his house, etc.). That was another not-so-great-part of the book, which involved a couple of eye rolls on my part, but in the end didn't bother me enough to effect my rating/enjoyment of this book.

Ultimately, this was a great book and definitely worth reading. 5-star rating.

Thank you for letting me read this, Carina/Ms. Gail!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, August 9, 2013

ARC Review: Slow Summer Burn

Slow Summer Burn (Star Harbor 4)

Author: Elisabeth Barrett
Publisher: Random House/Loveswept
Date of Publication: August 12, 2013
Description:

Cameron Stahl has everything, so why does she feel like her life is incomplete? A beautiful Boston socialite and a successful entrepreneur, she’s just opened her second boutique in Star Harbor and business is booming. But one searing look from Val Grayson sends fire through her body and shows her exactly what’s missing from her life: a real man who doesn’t play games and who makes her feel like the most desired woman on earth.   DEA agent Val Grayson has always looked after his brothers. Now it’s his turn to find love—though Cam is the last sort of woman he ever dreamed he’d fall for. When courageous Cam realizes she has the insider connections to help Val take down a major drug player within Boston’s political elite, he can’t stop her from putting herself in danger. But as the drug bust of his career looms, all Val cares about is saving the woman he loves before it’s too late.

My Thoughts:

As the title above indicates, this is the 4th book in the Star Harbor series. While I was sort of aware of that (since there were a few references to other characters' relationships and the chase for the drug kingpin was pretty strongly established and seemed to be an "I assume you know this"), I did not (and have not) read the first three books in this series and had no trouble falling into the story itself.

Cameron Stahl could have been a Mary Jane character, with a perfect life (she's rich, beautiful and successful with her business). But Ms. Barrett didn't let her be too perfect. Oh, don't get me wrong, she doesn't go doing stupid things, but she's also very human. There was a nice little subplot/issues with Cameron pushing against the stultifying atmosphere she grew up in (very VERY old money and the stuffiness that goes with it) and her mother that was resolved well.

Val is a strong character as well, devoted to his career as a DEA agent. At no point does he do stupid, lone wolf, "gonna get the bad buy no matter what" idiocy. No, he thinks he knows who the kingpin is, but is willing to put in the time, effort and paperwork required to get the guy legally so there won't be any weaseling out of the charges on technicalities.

I liked Cameron's growing business (antique shops) and how devoted she is, when she could have easily just accepted the life her mother wanted. However, that very life she wanted out of (and not in a poor little rich girl way), helped her get involved in Val's investigation (as an official Confidential Informant, complete with paperwork, despite Val's objections).

Of course Cameron didn't know about Val's investigation into an ex of hers (an up and coming DA and son of a US Senator) when she started getting to know him. All she saw was a handsome guy and sparks flying between them.

What stopped this from being a five-star review for me is the fact that I figured out relatively easily who the actual kingpin was. Oh, don't get me wrong, Val and the DEA made a very compelling case for why it was the Senator, but it just felt wrong and I had my eye on the actual drug lord pretty early.

 I don't get why they never really looked at him until the end, which almost resulted in Cameron's death. And yeah, that was a pretty hairy situation. I was on the edge of my metaphorical seat to see how Val would get there. Don't get me wrong, I didn't expect Cameron to need a knight to come swoop down and rescue her from her own stupidity. She wasn't stupid in getting into the situation, not at all. Wrong place, wrong time, trusted the wrong person.

Overall, great book and I might just have to go back and read the first three books. Only problem is, I know where the series is leading now. :( So it might take away some of the drive to read. We shall see.

Thank you Ms. Barrett for writing such a great book!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

ARC Review: Why Dukes Say I Do

Why Dukes Say I Do

Author: Manda Collins
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Date of Publication: July 30, 2013
Description:

Even in London society—where everyone knows what you did last season—you never know who’s next in line to walk down the aisle…
TRUE LOVE IS OFTEN FOUNDWith her whirlwind social life in London, Lady Isabella Wharton has little interest in the customs of the country. But when her godmother asks her to pay a visit to her bachelor grandson in Yorkshire, Isabella can’t refuse. It behooves her to please the old dowager, since she harbors one of Isabella’s most scandalous secrets. So off she goes to see the newly-titled—and notoriously rustic—Duke of Ormond…
WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT ITTrevor Carey doesn’t care about what goes on behind ballroom doors. He is content with the simple life—and isn’t ashamed to admit it to a society flirt like Lady Isabella. But the country air brings out a different side of Isabella—one full of longing and passion. Can her sophistication be hiding a desire for love? When a blackmailer from the city arrives to threaten Isabella, Trevor will shield her from harm—even travel to London. Can the duke tackle the ton on Isabella’s behalf …and manage to keep her all to himself?

My Thoughts:

I am so happy to have read a book that didn't feature an "innocent young miss" and the rakish duke. No, Isabella is far from innocent, though that's not entirely her own doing. She was married for quite some time and the story begins in a prologue wherein the Duke of Ormond (who was married to Isabella's sister) dies. He thoroughly deserved to die too. But that death scene gives the blackmailer (actually multiple blackmailers, technically, though only one was sinister) what they need to torment her throughout the book.

Her godmother blackmails her into going to the country to collect the newly titled Duke of Ormond (who inherited because of the death). Trevor has shown no inclination to come and pick up his duties in town as the new duke, and has good reason to. His father had been essentially disowned when he married a commoner, and Trevor turned his back on the family the way they turned their backs on him.

It's a great set up and Ms. Collins didn't disappoint with carry through. Isabella was strong, yet vulnerable too when it came to matters of the heart. Her marriage severely sucked. Trevor has good reason for his hatred of his family, though he's incredibly devoted to those he does care about, along with being very conscientious of his duty to those in his charge (the village around him that depends on him, in part, for their livelihoods and his sisters). These two people really needed each other and of course in the end, they find their way together.

The one weak point for me in this story was the identity of the blackmailer. It seemed fairly clear in some ways (in terms of access at the right time) who the blackmailer probably was, though I didn't figure out their motivation. Not even close. That was a bit of a shocker.

I don't believe I've read anything by Manda Collins before, but that will definitely change in the future. This was a lovely read and totally worth four stars.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

ARC Review: Lady Hathaway's Indecent Proposal

Lady Hathaway's Indecent Proposal (Hathaway Heirs 1)

Author: Suzanna Medeiros
Publisher: Suzanna Medeiros
Date of Publication: July 15, 2013
Description:

Twelve years have passed since Miranda Hathaway ended her courtship with Andrew Osborne and married the older, but much wealthier, Viscount Hathaway. It is only one week after her husband’s death and Miranda cannot ignore the temptation to have a taste of what she threw away all those years ago when she followed her parents’ wishes. But to entice the man she never stopped loving, she will have to act quickly.
Now the Earl of Sanderson, Andrew is no longer the same man who once believed in love. When Miranda asks him to help her conceive a child—one whom she means to pass off as the next Hathaway heir—he sees her deceit as proof that she is not the same woman he once knew. However, he cannot ignore the temptation to finally have her in his bed.
Miranda knows she is infertile, but her deception gives her three weeks with Andrew. He plans to use that time to finally consign Miranda Hathaway to the past, while she hopes to build memories that will last her a lifetime.

My Thoughts:

 This was a quick read that I gulped down in a single sitting. I thought Andrew was a bit of a horse's backside with his intentions toward Miranda when she propositions him supposedly to get a child, but on the other hand, I can't blame him for feeling the way he did, even if by marrying Hathaway as her parents wished, she was being a good daughter. 

Doing what Miranda did took guts. She knew she still loved Andrew and wanted at least a short time with him, even if she never saw him again after their short affair. I can't blame her for wanting a brief time, after having been stuck with an old man for many years, and having turned away from her true love to marry said old man.

I'm certainly interested in reading the next book in the series which features (I suspect) the next Viscount Hathaway, who's briefly introduced as a decent chap toward the end of this book.

Overall, short book with no noticeable weaknesses. It was just short and to the point, with good characters. It just didn't send me into paroxysms of exaltation, hence the 3-star rating, rather than 4 or 5. I like Ms. Medeiros's writing and will keep reading her as long as she keeps coming out with books.

Thank you for letting me read this!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

ARC Review: Surrender

Surrender

Author: C.J. Archer
Publisher: C.J. Archer
Date of Publication: January 1, 2012
Description:

Gentleman spy, Alexander Redcliff, murdered his colleague. It's an event he can't remember, except in his nightmares. Suppressing them is the only way to keep his sanity, but forgetting is no longer an option. 
Only one woman can save Alex from himself. 
Georgiana Appleby is a most unconventional lady. Prejudice shadows the physician and scandal is never far away. Forced to take Alex as her patient, she must not give into the rogue's advances or she will risk losing her career and her heart.
Will Alex's fierce longing for Georgiana be enough or will he surrender to the darkness inside? 

My Thoughts:

First thing's first: when I got this book from NetGalley, I would swear it had a different cover, a woman in a pale pink dress, but I can't find that cover any more. But, oh well. I liked that cover better than this one.

Now, onto the story. Alex has been a spy for many years, but after a mission goes disasterously wrong, he believes he killed someone and has retreated into smoking opium to avoid the nightmares that are plaguing him of the final events in that mission. He believes he's not addicted, but of course he is. His spymaster blackmails Georgiana (the daughter of a physician who had success in treating opium addiction who's taken up the cause herself) into taking Alex on as a patient. The spymaster needs/wants to know the truth about that final mission and believes that Alex will want to return to spying once he's recovered.

I really liked Georgiana and her unusual career path for the period. She was a woman, yes, but she chose to help people with a drug addiction (very unusual, I would say). She made a mistake with one patient and that's what gets used against her to take on Alex, despite Alex's attempts to get rid of her quickly. She's a strong character who has a lot to offer.

Alex I didn't like quite so much, but he was also a bit of a jerk from time to time. Blame the opium addiction (I do), or whatever, but Georgiana got a lot of crap from him before they started edging toward getting together. And lord, did that take a while! Which made for a nice change. They were attracted, of course, but Georgiana had her reasons for not wanting to look at Alex as anything other than a patient, and Alex of course had his drug addiction which was more powerful than his attraction to Georgiana...at first.

I love the fact that, by the end, Georgiana didn't let Alex replace his addiction for opium with an addiction for her. She cleared out of the area and forced him to work through his issues without her adding to the mix. He had to want her for her, not as a replacement for something else.

The secondary cast of characters rounded out the book (Alex's little sister and his aunt were staying with Alex for most of the book). The aunt was your typical socialite who thoroughly disapproved of Georgiana staying in the townhouse with Alex and went out of her way to remind Georgiana that she was not their social equal and she shouldn't even think about making a move on Alex. The niece was a hoyden of course, and got into trouble as part of the overall spy plot. Typical sixteen year old, really, impressionable.

The revelation as to the ultimate villain did surprise me. I sort of dismissed the possibility and never doubted that dismissal until they were unmasked at the end.

The writing flowed smoothly enough. I just wasn't as drawn to this book as I would have needed to be to give this any higher of a rating. Don't get me wrong - it's a good book, just not (for me) a great one. I will put Ms. Archer on my ever-growing list of authors I like though, definitely.

Thank you Ms. Archer and thank you NetGalley for letting me read this!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hi Everyone

It is now August 1st. Wow. This year just keeps zipping on by without pausing to let you breathe much.

The last few weeks just seem to have blurred all together. Unfortunately, I missed my self-imposed deadline on Locked in Stone. I'm past the 50% mark now (yay!) but as usual, I've ground to a halt the last few days. I could blame sick twins (the girls were sick over the weekend and only finished recovering yesterday), but truth is I'm lousy when it comes to being focused on my writing. It's a very frustrating thing. I think I've got something with my Hearts of Stone series, but getting it out is the problem. I've gotten some great feedback thus far on what I've written, which is nice, but of course it's going to require massive revisions (part of which I've already got in mind and is causing major problems because I'm itching to go back and start fixing it, but am forcing myself to get to the end before I allow myself the luxury).

Work in the real world is going well for the most part. I like my job and my co-workers. One of the lawyers...yeah, not a big fan, but I also feel sorry for him. He's getting on in years and his mind is losing its sharpness. You know he knows it is, and that's probably making him more frustrated than anything else.

Girls are growing like crazy. Daddy took this picture Monday as I was coming home from work:

It's much clearer on my phone, and I'm not sure why it ended up looking so bad on the computer screen. It's bigger my phone and crystal clear.

After a couple months of stalling out, my weight loss has continued, which is cool. The stall turned out to have been related to a heart issue I was having without knowing it. Losing weight would probably go faster if I put much effort into it. Still, I have my little victories (I've dropped another size, which was awesome, and was able to find more clothes that fit and looked okay on me).

Anyway, that's it for now! Hope you're enjoying the reviews I post. Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

ARC Review: Play Me

Play Me (Take a Chance #3)

Author: Diane Alberts
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, Ever After line
Date of Publication: July 29, 2013
Description:


Even the best-laid plans can go awry.
Single-mom Kiersten Worth knows a bottle of champagne and night of hot, no-strings-attached sex is the perfect solution to her jilted bride blues…and Garrett Kelly, long-time friend and her teenaged son’s sexy basketball coach, is just the stud for the job.
Garrett wants more from the elusive temptress than a casual affair, but he never expects it to come in the form of an unexpected pregnancy. When he proposes an unorthodox solution—move in and raise their baby together—Kiersten has to decide whether to let down her guard and open her heart to the man who secretly loved her for years, or risk losing his tender embrace for good. 

My Thoughts:

While this was a cute little book about friends to lovers with an unexpected (are they ever in romance novels) pregnancy, it just didn't sparkle for me in the way I like contemporary romances to sparkle. Even given the blurb, the obviousness of the fact that Kiersten would end up pregnant was overblown.

I like Kiersten. She's a good woman who got cheated on by a no-good fiance and instead of just moping around on what would have been her wedding night, she decides to seduce Garrett. She's been looking after her sister's child for her entire life and truly considers him her own child. That's admirable, to say the least. What I didn't like about her was her back and forth wishiwashiness about whether or not they could make a relationship. He was certainly quite willing and interested. After all, he'd been in love with her (or at least had the hots for her) for years.

Garret was a sports coach of Kiersten's son, and of course there's a little bit of an ethics issue there when Kiersten and he start circling the idea of a relationship to take care of the child they accidentally created. To Garrett's credit, he never hid from the fact that he wanted a relationship with Kiersten, even when she blew hot and cold on him. He was willing to pretend to have a no-sex/loving relationship to do right by their child, but he went into it fully prepared to convince her to change her mind.

Thankfully, the teenager involved in this (the son) wasn't overly dramatic or pouty or anything more than simply a typical teenager who wasn't happy when his mom starts making eyes at a man, but he quickly adapts. It helps that he and Garrett were already friends, or at least coach/player before this. They further bond over videos. Just like men do. Hehe.

Anyway, so I found this an okay book, but not a spectacular one. I certainly wouldn't say no to reading other books by Ms. Albert.

Book provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.