Friday, 4 September 2015

Spotlight On: Raven by Ashley Suzanne

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Flight or Fight #1
Ashley Suzanne
Re-Releasing Sept 8th, 2015

In the debut of Ashley Suzanne’s blistering-hot Fight or Flight series—perfect for fans of Monica Murphy and J. Lynn—two sparring partners put their hearts on the line and push their bodies to the edge.

Rian Fields is done being a punching bag. When Rian was thirteen, her only friend walked out on her, leaving Rian alone to mourn when she lost her mother three years later. Then he came back into her life senior year, igniting new desires—and breaking her trust permanently when he enlisted in the army. Now Rian has finally found an outlet for her rage against the world: mixed martial arts. But just as she’s learning the ropes, Garrett Rhodes turns her life inside-out one more time.

As much they hurt each other, Garrett never got over Rian. So when he gets the call that she’s in jail, he bails her out, no questions asked. The years have toughened her. Made her harder. Sexier. All she needs to make it as an MMA fighter is the right coach, and Garrett’s man enough to train her. He just has to go toe-to-toe with “Raven,” the fearless woman who takes control in the ring. . . without falling for Rian, the vulnerable girl who still drives him crazy.

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 Now and again I like to pick-up books that I wouldn't ordinarily read by authors I haven't come across before. Raven by Ashley Suzanne is such an example. Whilst YA books are not new to me, MME is, so I began reading this with the hope I'd get a “feel” for the sport.

Everyone who matters to Rian ends up leaving, so her coping mechanism is to believe she is meant to be alone. For someone as young as she is, life has been tough after being exposed to way too many life issues; each with far reaching consequences.

Garrett always looked out for his friend when they were youngsters, but his Father's new military posting meant a move away. Miraculously, some years later, Rian ends up at the same school as him, after moving in with her aunt. Now in high school their friendship turns into something more meaningful. After graduating, Garrett follows his Father's footsteps and heads off to military training leaving Rian behind. Only he hasn't done a very good job of explaining his motivations. Rian feels abandoned by his departure and does the only thing she can think of and drops out of school and runs away from her old life. To be alone.

There are very clear and defined character developments between the protagonists. Their friendship begins in school and continues on and off as fate pulls them apart only to re-unite them, not once but twice. With each reunion, their bond becomes stronger. There is no sugar-coating the relationship between Garrett and is raw, unconditional and palpable.

The emphasis on MME was a lot less than I expected however, the plot and writing more than compensated for that. Ashley Suzanne has beautifully written a story full of hope and love, with protagonists who show such strength of character and maturity even at the darkest time. I'll definitely be seeking out the remaining books in this Fight or Flight series.

4 Stars

***arc generously received courtesy of publisher Loveswept via NetGalley***

From a young age, I knew that I wasn’t like the other kids. I was the outcast, the one who was talked about on the playground, the one who didn’t have many friends, the girl with a boy’s name. The worst part about being the brunt of all the jokes was that none of it was my fault or anything I had control over.
The problem, which I didn’t really understand when I was seven, revolved around my mother. On any given day, you could find her on the front porch, swaying back and forth with a funny-smelling cigarette in her mouth, which I now know was a joint, mumbling along with Jimi Hendrix playing on the radio. She would more than likely be dressed in a floor-length dress and always in bare feet. My momma was a hippy—so carefree, so happy, but hiding a tinge of sadness behind her brown eyes that were identical to mine, like she was missing something. I never had a father, so I always assumed she was just lonely.
As a little girl, nothing was more exciting than getting off the bus, knowing my momma would be in the same place she always was, waiting to hug me and ask about my day. After the grand inquisition would be over, she’d toss me a piece of fruit and we’d dance together on the porch, rain or shine.
She used to dress me in adorable circa-1975 floral-print dresses with fresh flowers in my hair. I loved every second of it; I was her personal dress-up doll. She would comb my hair for hours and it was all about the quality time I spent with her.
The real bullying started when Kyle Jamison decided that ripping the fresh flowers out of my ponytail would make a great game. Every. Single. Day.
After spending the better part of my childhood miserable, I started to dress more like the other kids—Jordache jeans and high-top Converse or LA Gear sneakers. The shirt didn’t really matter as long as I could tie it on the side and it wasn’t a floral print. I never did anything else exciting with my hair after the last carnation was ripped out by Kyle; it just hung down my back, crimped or feathered, much like the other girls’. I’d traded my love for Stevie, The Doors, and Janis for mainstream music like New Kids on the Block. Some of the songs weren’t so bad once I got used to them, but Donnie and Jordan had nothing on The Mamas and the Papas. I couldn’t even compare the two.
Once I hit junior high, the trends changed and the kids’ words got more mean and more hateful. I tried to adapt to the other girls, but no matter what I did, I still didn’t have friends. Until Garrett Rhodes came to our town.
Being a military brat, his family moved around a lot and our town happened to be a few minutes away from the base that his father had transferred to. Since Garrett was the new kid, he was kind of an outcast like me and we clicked. Once Garrett started to mature and become more a man, the girls started to notice.
Garrett was a grade ahead of me. By the time he was in eighth grade, ready to embark on high school, I started to worry about what my final year in junior high would be like without him. He assured me that it wouldn’t be so bad and that we could still hang out every day after school.
He was wrong. My eighth-grade year was terrible. The girls were nastier and the boys were harsher, and I soon realized exactly why they would make fun of me all the time. Until then, I had never put two and two together.
Apparently, my mother being a flower-loving hippy meant that she was all about “free love,” or whatever. They would tease me, calling my momma a slut, a whore, or easy, and since apples don’t usually fall far from the tree, the same had to be true for me.
I started to develop into a woman that year—getting my first visit from Aunt Flo, as my growing breasts and widening hips gave me more curves than any thirteen-year-old girl should ever have. Instead of Kyle pulling flowers out of my hair, he was snapping my bra or slapping my ass any time I passed. Without having Garrett around to protect me, I was on my own, helpless against my tormentors.
My only comfort during those brutal nine months was the fact that every day, after the bell rang, Garrett would be waiting for me in front of the school to walk me home. I didn’t know if he knew that the other kids were so disgusting toward me or if he just wanted to walk with me, but he always came and it was the best part of the day—the only part I looked forward to.
Then the worst possible thing happened that summer. Garrett’s dad was transferred to a new base, and I was left alone to fight off the wolves. My only friend in this entire world was moving over an hour away, far too distant for him to ride his bike to my house or walk me home from school. It doesn’t sound like much, but the distance might as well have been in light-years. My heart was shattering and I didn’t know what to do or how to act.

My world came to a standstill and everything around me just kept moving. People were growing up and getting more mature, except for me. I was still that little girl having her first heartbreak. Looking back now, I wonder if life could have stayed as simple as it had been at that time. If only the little lessons that life teaches us were as simple as a thirteen-year-old’s broken heart. Life would be a whole lot more manageable.

Ashley Suzanne has been writing for as long as she can remember. As a youngster, she was always
creating stories and talking to her imaginary friends. Thankfully, her parents also carried this love of fiction, and helped her grow into the bestselling author she is today. When Ashley isn’t coming up with her next story, you’ll most likely find her on the couch, telling her husband all about her new book boyfriend, or spending quality time with her two gremlins . . . er, adorable children.

Review: My Lady Faye by Sarah Hegger.

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Sir Arthur's Legacy #2
Sarah Hegger
Released September 1st, 2015
Kensington Books : Lyrical

The Lady

The fair Lady Faye has always played the role allotted her. Yet the marriage her family wanted only brought her years of abuse and heartache. Now, finally free of her tyrannical husband, she is able to live her own life for the first time. But someone from the past has returned. Someone she has never been able to forget.

The Warrior

After years of servitude as a warrior for King and Country, Gregory is now free to pursue his own path: to serve God by becoming a monk. The only thing stopping him is Faye. Gregory has loved Faye since the moment he saw her. But their love was not meant to be. How can he serve God when his heart longs for her? He can neither forsake God nor the woman he loves.

The Promise

When Faye's son is kidnapped, Gregory answers her family's call for help, only to find that even in the most dangerous of circumstances, neither can fight their forbidden attraction. An attraction that now burns brighter than ever before. And it is only a matter of time until it consumes them both.

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 I don't pick-up historical romance books very often but was drawn to read this one because of who the author is. I'm a fan of Sarah Hegger's contemporary romances so decided to try this medieval tale. Result? I'll definitely continue with the Sir Arthur's Legacy series, starting with book one -Sweet Bea.

It took a little while for me to get into this story; to become familiar with the writing style, language and characters. Once that was achieved, I was quickly turning the pages as the narrative became addictive and my interest in the protagonists increased.

Gregory comes across as a tortured soul. Torn between his love for Lady Faye and his calling to devote his life to God, we watch as he wrestles with his conscience even when the love of his life reciprocates his feelings.

As an abused wife, Lady Faye has always found solace in her relationship with dashing knight Gregory and was left heart-broken when he left for the monastery to take up his life long ambition to become a monk. When her eldest son is kidnapped, it is Gregory her family turn to, to help rescue him, re-awakening her attraction to the only man she's loved and can't have.

The mutual loyalty, devoting and love Gregory and Faye show for each other is both heart-warming and heart-breaking. Set at a time where family and duty take precedence over personal wants and desires, it is intriguing to follow the protagonists as they overcome the physical obstacles that lie in their wake, whilst wrestling with guilty consciences and pent-up lust! As I've come to expect from this author My Lady Faye is well written with the storyline flowing beautifully, keeping my attention throughout.


5 Stars

***arc generously received courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley***

The ache in Gregory’s knees brought him closer to God. Hunger gnawed at his belly and reminded him of his connection with the Lord. For three days, he had fasted and prayed, waited for God to show him the way to enter into service.
God remained silent.
He must pray harder and keep at it until he had his answer. God’s way was not always the way of man and His divine timing did not always answer the impetuous call of sinners.
Something clattered through the bars of his cell.
Gregory started, but kept his eyes closed. He could afford no distractions in his wait for God to deign to speak with him. Sweat broke out on his brow. He bowed his head. “Dear Father in Heaven...”
Another skittering across the floor and Gregory opened his eyes.
A pebble lay almost within reach at his knees, a pale trespasser against the dark stone floor of his bare cell. A thin pallet rested against one wall, stripped of linen except for a rough blanket. On the opposite wall a tiny barred window overlooked the fields were they worked each day. Above it, a stark wooden cross served as a reminder that all here was by Grace alone. Beneath the casement stood a plain wood table and a bench.
The Abbey bell tolled Terce over the undulating chant of the monks reciting the second of the Little Hours of the Divine Office. Father Abbott had understood his need for private meditation, but he would be expected at Lauds.
Not God at all, unless the Almighty had grown a set of large hands and gripped the bars of his cell so tightly His knuckles turned white.
A dark head popped over the lip, followed by dark eyebrows and the sharply drawn planes of a face many a lass considered handsome.
Garrett?” Gregory’s knees creaked as he rose. Sharp pain lanced through his long-frozen muscles. Three days, most of which spent on your knees, would turn any man’s limbs into a grandfather’s. “Is that you?”
Aye?” Garrett blinked away a sweat droplet that snaked down his brow and into his eye. His face turned redder. “Only could you come down, I am not sure how much longer I can hang on.”
Did you climb the side?”
Teeth clenched, Garret said, “Aye and I am about to go tumbling on my ass, so get down here.”
Garrett’s head disappeared from view as he scrabbled down the side of the two-story dormitory.
If Garrett was here, something was amiss at Anglesea. Sir Arthur might have sent him with news. My Lady Faye. His blood thrummed in his ears. Fresh sweat prickled over his skin as he wrenched open his door and trotted down the empty corridor. He took the stairs three at a time. Unease spurred him into a run.
From the chapel the monk’s voices called and responded in prayer as he entered the kitchen yard. Singing voices reminded him he had left his former life behind, but he needed to check all was well.
Garrett appeared out of the dark shadows around the dormitory.
The smell of incense hung heavy in the air.
What is it?” Gregory closed the distance between them.
Garrett’s expression was grim, his shoulders tense. “You must come.”
To Anglesea?”
Aye.” Garrett turned and motioned him to follow.
Gregory took a step and froze. He couldn’t go with Garrett. Outside these walls was not his life anymore. His calling lay here at the Abbey. “I cannot.”
Sharp strides driving divots into the soft, bare earth, Garrett strode back to him. “You must come. Sir Arthur sent me for you.”
Sir Arthur would not have sent for him if it weren’t urgent. Sir Arthur had sponsored him as a postulant to the Abbey and he owed the man for that. But he owed God his obedience and he had put his former life aside. “My place is here now.”
Your place is where you are needed.” Movements sharp and jerky, Garrett gestured to outside the Abbey.
He didn’t want to ask the question. It did not concern him. Yet, his stubborn gut demanded an answer. “What has happened?”
Garrett clasped his arm. “It is Faye.”
What?” His muscles bunched in response. The words rasped from his throat. Dear Father, please do not let her be...
What? Hurt, or worse, reconciled with Calder. He grabbed the other man’s tunic, twisting his hand in the fabric.
Garrett shrugged him off. “I will explain as we ride.”
He couldn’t go. He couldn’t not go. Again, the same tussle within him. Faye or the Abbey, his lady versus his God. It never ended.
Garrett stepped closer until his face was inches away. “Beatrice is worrying herself sick. She carries our first child and if I have to tie your saintly ass on a horse, you are coming with me. Faye needs you.”
Faye needed him. The confusion cleared. It was all Garrett need say. Clean, crisp purpose flooded his being. “Do you have a horse for me?”
Garrett’s grim face softened into a smile. “Come on, before one of your monks catches sight of me and tosses me in there.” 

Born British and raised in South Africa, Sarah Hegger suffers from an incurable case of wanderlust. Her match? A hot Canadian engineer, whose marriage proposal she accepted six short weeks after they first met. Together they’ve made homes in seven different cities across three different continents (and back again once or twice). If only it made her multilingual, but the best she can manage is idiosyncratic English, fluent Afrikaans, conversant Russian, pigeon Portuguese, even worse Zulu and enough French to get herself into trouble.

Mimicking her globe trotting adventures, Sarah’s career path began as a gainfully employed actress, drifted into public relations, settled a moment in advertising, and eventually took root in the fertile soil of her first love, writing. She also moonlights as a wife and mother.She currently lives in Draper, Utah, with her teenage daughters, two Golden Retrievers and aforementioned husband. Part footloose buccaneer, part quixotic observer of life, Sarah’s restless heart is most content when reading or writing books.

She loves to hear from readers and you can find her at any of the places below.