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  • Tara Sonin 6:00 pm on 2017/12/07 Permalink
    Tags: a notorious countess confesses, a rogue by any other name, , , , , , heather cocks, if you deceive, jessica morgan, Joanna Wylde, , julie anne long, , , , , , , one good earl deserves a lover, original sinners series, , reaper's legacy, , sarah maclean, slightly wicked, , , tiffany reisz, trouble at the wedding, unclaimed, when he was wicked   

    A Romance Novel for Every Song on Taylor Swift’s reputation 

    It’s been over a week, we’ve listened to it over a thousand times…and now the moment has come: we’re pairing up romance novels with Taylor Swift’s newest album, reputation!

    “…Ready For It?”

    I immediately thought of Claire and Jamie for this song, so Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is my pick! It’s fast-paced, like their adventures, but also sensual and sexy, like their relationship. “Younger than my exes but he acts like such a man” make sense since Jamie is younger than Frank (and Claire herself) in the series. And of course all the references to islands reminded me of the current Season Three (no spoilers, if you haven’t seen it!)

    “End Game (featuring Ed Sheeran and Future)”

    “Ahh, and I heard about you…you like the bad ones too.” This song is all about a couple whose reputation precedes them, making them probably the least likely to work. “And I bury hatchets but I keep maps of where I put ‘em” made me think of Devon Ravenel of Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas: he’s a rake who lives up to his name. But then he inherits an earldom and must step up to the plate and assume responsibiity for his status—and the honor of the late earl’s three sisters. “You’ve been calling my bluff on all my usual tricks” is what happens when he meets Kathleen, who knows better than to ever fall in love with a man like Devon…except, as the song implies, they both wind up wanting to be one another’s end game.

    “I Did Something Bad”

    Unclaimed by Courtney Milan is about a handsome Bachelor known for having unimpeachable character…who finds himself entangled with a secret courtesan, not the high-bred lady he assumed her to be. “I never trust a playboy, but they love me…” totally embodies Jessica’s character: she’s a woman who knows what she wants, and is willing to do “something bad” in order to get it…like team up with the bachelor’s enemies to take him down in exchange for money. But of course, doing bad things makes you feel oh so good, and Jessica and Mark are no exception to the rule.

    “Don’t Blame Me”

    The moody, rumbling, erotic nature of this song brought one threesome to mind: Nora, Soren, and Kingsley from Tiffany Reisz’ Original Sinners series. “For you, I would cross the line/I would waste my time/I would lose my mind/They say, “She’s gone too far this time…” are definitely words worthy of Nora, preeminent Dominatrix and submissive only to Soren, a Priest she credits with saving her life. And of course, there’s Kingsley, the owner of the BDSM club, Dominant in every way…except when it comes to Soren. “If you walk away/I’d beg you on my knees to stay…” The pulse-pounding romance between these three people over the course of the series is the perfect accompaniment to Taylor’s pining words.

    “Delicate”

    Two people with broken pasts—and reputations that have never been worse, as this song croons—meet and marry for convenience in A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean. It’s just business between them: Bourne runs a casino after being stripped of all societal influence a decade ago, and Penelope is just trying to secure her future after a string of failed relationships. But eventually their boundaries start to slip. “Is it cool that I said all that?/’Cause I know that it’s delicate…” That’s contemporary speak for the passion that ignites between this regency couple when they least expect it.

    “Look What You Made Me Do”

    A revenge song needs a worthy book—and I can’t lie, this one made me think about one particular villainess in the 50 Shades Series…Christian Grey’s ex-girlfriend, Leila. “I don’t like your kingdom keys/they once belonged to me…” those words might as well have come out of her mouth in Fifty Shades Darker. We all know that Taylor likes to parody the “man-eater” persona the media has developed for her, but in this case, Leila’s instability was totally real. “I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams”, indeed.

    “So It Goes…”

    This is one of the quieter songs on the album, but with lyrics like “You know I’m not a bad girl/but I do bad things with you” and “I’m so chill, you make me jealous” the book to match needed to have the right balance of sweetness with an undercurrent of passion. Sarah MacLean’s One Good Earl Deserves a Lover totally fits! Pippa is a good girl from a good family who wants nothing more than a quiet life…and the freedom to pursue science. But before she settles down in that life, she wants one little taste of true passion. So she goes to Cross, a notorious gaming hall owner, and proposes an arrangement between them—all in the name of science. But of course, Pippa can’t stay “chill” when it comes to Cross for long.

    “Gorgeous”

    This upbeat song is definitely worthy of a happily ever after! Julia Quinn’s When He Was Wicked follows the track of the song: a man and woman meet, and sparks fly…the problem—well, in the song it’s that she’s got “a boyfriend, he’s older than us…” but in this book, it’s a betrothal! And to make things worse, the guy she’s marrying is the cousin of the one she falls for. “You’ve ruined my life, by not being mine…” That’s exactly how Michael Stirling feels when she marries the guy anyway. But trust me, there’s a happily ever after waiting for this gorgeous couple.

    “Getaway Car”

    One of my favorite songs on the album spins a story about doomed lovers caught in the aftermath of their betrayal. “Nothing good starts in a getaway car”, the song begins…and the statement rings true in Reaper’s Legacy by Joanna Wylde, except for one thing: you can swap out “car” for “motorcycle”. A love triangle winds its way through the story of Sophie, Zach, and Ruger: Sophie and Zach slept together, resulting in their baby, Noah…but Zach’s a deadbeat dad, leaving his brother Ruger to pick up the pieces. But living—and loving—a man in a motorcycle club can be dangerous, and even when he tries to provide security for Sophie and her son, the past always finds a way of catching up with a speeding bike. After all, remember what Taylor says: “Us traitors never win…”

    “King of My Heart”

    This song makes specific reference to the “American” identity of the heroine (and of course, there’s been rampant speculation on the British identity behind most of Taylor’s new songs) so for this one I chose Trouble at the Wedding by Laura Lee Guhrke, a story about an American falling for a Brit! Annabel does not want true love (just like the heroine of the song, who knows she is “better off being alone,”) but still, she agrees to marry a high-born man with a British title as a way to protect her new, “Southern” estate. The problem? Christian, the Duke of Scarborough, does NOT approve of Annabel’s choice. “Change my priorities/the taste of your lips is my idea of luxury…” And that’s exactly what Christian decides to do: make Annabel fall for him, instead, and become King of Her Heart.

    “Dancing With Our Hands Tied”

    Mary Balogh’s Slightly Wicked is about the ramifications of one reckless, erotic night that you think no one else will ever find out about. When Judith meets Rannulf after an accident with her stagecoach, she indulges in a passion she knows she will soon have to bury. (“First sight, yeah, we love without reason…”) But when he shows up at her aunt’s house, intending to court her cousin, Judith knows her secret will not be kept in the dark for long, especially when she can’t stop her feelings from pouring out. As this song says, “I knew there was no one in the world who could stop us/I had a bad feeling”, and soon enough, Judith and Rannulf are dancing with their hands tied, too.

    “Dress”

    One of the sexiest songs on the album deserves a romance to match. A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long made me think of some of the song’s steamiest lyrics, starting with “All of this silence and patience, pining and anticipation/My hands are shaking from holding back from you (ah, ah, ah).” Evie is an ambitious actress, and has charmed all of London…until her scandalous marriage goes down in flames. (Sound at all like a familiar narrative?) She escapes the tidal wave of gossip only to find herself tempted once more…by Vicar Adam Sylvaine, a man sworn to piety and prayer. “Even in my worst lies, you saw the truth in me…” Soon enough, they can’t stop their passion from overflowing, and the costumes come off to reveal their true hearts to one another.

    “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”

    You can finish the title of this romance novel with the title of Taylor’s diss track: If You Deceive…this is why we can’t have nice things! Two people caught at the center of a family feud (aka, a “narrative” they’d like to be excluded from, perhaps?) in the third novel in Kresley Cole’s MacCarrick Brothers series find themselves irrevocably drawn to one another despite the pain and anguish that their families have wrought. “But then you stabbed me in the back while shaking my hand…” What starts as a quest for revenge soon becomes a mission to keep the one thing they both hold dear in this Highland romance.

    “Call It What You Want”

    The Royal We by Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks is a sweet romance with just a tad of high-stakes drama: Bex Porter has a real-life fairytale in the form of Nick, the heir to the throne of England. But just like Taylor Swift, loving a famous person comes with consequences. “All the drama queens takin’ swings/All the jokers dressing up as kings…” is right: between the paparazzi, backstabbers, and family baggage, it’s going to take everything she has to keep their relationship together.

    “New Year’s Day”

    This poignant, piano-based closer is heartfelt and raw with emotion, all about what happens when the glitz and glamour fades and the reality of life sets in….and who will be by your side when it does. “I want your midnights/but I’ll be picking up bottles with you on New Year’s Day…” It’s not a New Year’s story, but that sentiment really reminded me of The Notebook: a love story all about choosing the harder road, but the one that’s ultimately true to who you are.

    What do you think of our pairings?

    The post A Romance Novel for Every Song on Taylor Swift’s reputation appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Sarah Skilton 5:00 pm on 2017/11/22 Permalink
    Tags: a mcclendon thanksgiving, anna richland, her naughty holiday, his montana homecoming, his road home, how to bake the perfect pecan pie, jenna mindel, , pass the love, ready or not, , sean d. young, tiffany reisz   

    6 Delicious Thanksgiving Romances  

    As the wind picks up outside and reunions bring loved ones together, it can be nice to sneak off for a moment, light a fire, put your feet up, and kick back with a romance. While everyone else sleeps through their tryptophan comas, why not enjoy a feast of a different sort? Our favorite Thanksgiving romances run the gauntlet from spicy to sweet, and historical to contemporary, but what they have in common is they’ll whisk you away to places where love conquers all and gratitude abounds.

    Her Naughty Holiday, by Tiffany Reisz
    An irresistible novel with a gorgeous single dad at its heart, Holiday finds put-upon Clover Greene determined to silence her irritatingly critical family by introducing them to her new beau at a Thanksgiving get-together. What begins as a ruse turns into something much, much better (and hotter). International bestseller Reisz may be best known for her Original Sinners series, and her talent for BDSM erotica is second to none, but Naughty proves she knows how to spin a tale as sweet as pumpkin pie, too.

    A McClendon Thanksgiving, by Sean D. Young
    In this friends-to-lovers tale set in Chicago over Thanksgiving, Faith McClendon has recently moved home, determined to hit the re-set button on her career after a painful divorce. Though she’s still gun-shy around men, there is one person who might be able to reach her: her childhood best friend, Michael, a photographer who’s been pining for her for years. A heartwarming story in which Michael and Faith’s supportive friends and family are key to helping the would-be lovers recognize their feelings.

    His Montana Homecoming, by Jenna Mindel
    Stranded in Jasper Gulch, Montana by a winter storm, ultra-rich New Yorker Dale Massey would rather be anywhere else. Small town life is not his jam. Hosted by the mayor’s family, including the mayor’s daughter, Faith, Dale’s gruff attitude slowly melts when Faith shows him just how healing an old-fashioned holiday can be. An inspirational romance from a master of the genre.

    Ready or Not, by Meg Cabot
    In this Young Adult romance, the second in the All-American Girls series, Cabot continues the story of teenage Samantha Madison and her boyfriend David, who happens to be the President’s son. Family perks include access to Camp David over Thanksgiving, and this year, he’s invited Madison! One problem: she’s pretty sure that means he wants to “take things to the Next Level” (i.e. sex), and she’s not sure she’s ready. A romantic comedy with a feminist bent, this book will have you laughing out loud and rooting for the young couple to figure it all out. 

    His Road Home, by Anna Richland
    A 2015 RITA winner, this novella touches on the emotional and physical effects of war. Prior to an explosion that took his legs in battle (he sacrificed his own safety to rescue a child), Reynaldo Cruz had pretended to be engaged to an acquaintance from home—lonely marine biologist Grace Kim, who doesn’t even remember him. But when his so-called fiancée is summoned to his hospital room at Walter Reed, she’s willing to offer her friendship to the brave soldier. As they connect and get to know each other, their initial hesitance turns into a deep and trusting love.

    How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie, by Gina Calanni
    In the first book in the Home for the Holidays series, it’s not exactly love at first sight between Lauren and Jack. Hapless in the kitchen, Lauren is nonetheless determined to find every ingredient required to fulfill the secret recipe list for her grandmother’s pecan pie. On the night before Thanksgiving, and running out of time, she must travel to a specialty shop in which she discovers to her horror that Jack has purchased all the pecans available and has no interest in sharing. But when her car breaks down on the return trip, guess who comes to her rescue?

    What romances are you tucking into over reheated pie?

    The post 6 Delicious Thanksgiving Romances  appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Amanda Diehl 4:00 pm on 2017/11/08 Permalink
    Tags: , a promise of fire, alana delacroix, alanea alder, amanda bouchet, , amy raby, annette blair, anya bast, bed mcmaster, , , cecelia tan, , christine warren, crux, cursed, , dana marie bell, , daunter of mystery, , , diablo lake: moonstruck, elisabeth stab, elizabeth hunter, emily croy barker, enchanted warrior, firelight, , grace draven, , heart of crystal, heart of stone, heather rose jones, her wish, how to tame a beast in seven days, if he’s wicked, , , , , juliet marlier, , kerrelyn sparks, kirsten callihan, kylie griffin, labyrinth lost, lauren d.m. Smith, , lilith saint crow, lucy leroux, lynn kurland, m. j. rose, mary robinette kowal, masked possession, master of crows, michele bardsley, moira rogers, my commander, never again, nina walker, no proper lady, , prince of power, prism, rebecca zanetti, rising fire, , rose & thunder, , , second sight, sex and the psychic witch, shades of milk and honey, shadow bound, shadow of the wolf, sharon ash wood, sophie h. morgan, spellbound falls, star of the morning, , terri brisbin, the devil in disguise, the fire seer, , the mark of the tala, the red, the scribe, the siren and the sword, the thinking woman’s guide to real magic, , the witch of painted sorrows, tiffany reisz, vengeance born, , wicked ride, wickedly dangerous, , witch fire, zoraida cordova   

    50 Magical Romances to Read Right Now 

    My own romance reading is rather varied, but I have a weakness: magic. Psychic abilities, being able to shoot fire from one’s hands, or even just mystical elements is enough for me to give a book a double take. Magic adds an extra, fantastical element to a romance as characters need to contend with their abilities or fight off powerful villains. Though the fifty romances below are not an exhaustive list, if you love magic in your books or are hoping to find the right blend of magic and romance, you’ll definitely find something to add to your reading pile!

    A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness
    A Discovery of Witches is probably the first book that comes to mind for books that blend magical elements and romance. Unbeknownst to her, Diana Bishop finds an “alchemical manuscript” while conducting research. Further complicating things, Diana also comes from a long line of witches. The emergence of the manuscript sends Diana’s life into chaos as other witches, demons, and even vampires join in the quest to obtain the manuscript for themselves.

    A Promise of Fire, by Amanda Bouchet
    I cannot say enough amazing things about this book. If you like strong, powerful heroines with dark secrets and a burgeoning need for revenge, pick this up immediately. Cat works at a traveling circus, hoping the constant moving will keep her from being undetected because she’s a Kingmaker. She has the rare ability to sense when someone is lying, making her very valuable, especially to Griffin, a normal warlord who has bested a magical family to rule a kingdom. With elements of mythology and face-melting fireballs, this is a fantasy romance readers won’t soon forget.

    Burn for Me, by Ilona Andrews
    Ilona Andrews has a handful of amazing series with magic, but their Hidden Legacy series is by far my favorite. In Houston, magic is real and the elite community is ruled by powerful magical families. Nevada Baylor works as a private investigator, taking small time cases where she can determine what is the truth and what’s a lie. As her abilities grow stronger, making her a target of anyone who wants her talents on their side, she may very well wind up in over her head on her next case, especially when it causes her to partner with elusive billionaire, Connor “Mad” Rogan.

    Crux, by Moira Rogers
    Mackenzie Evans is on the run from a man who thinks she’s destined to mate with him to create strong, supernatural babies. Taking refuge in New Orleans, she soon learns that not everything her stalker has said is nonsense. Magic is real and she’s part of a shifter bloodline. Jackson Holt is a charming spell caster and a private investigator. He’s been hired by Mackenzie’s new boss to help her with the stalker situation. There’s action, mystery, and plenty of scene-stealing secondary characters as Jackson introduces Mackenzie to a world she’s never known before.

    Cursed, by Lucy Leroux
    Up until the age of twelve, Isobel Sterling was trained in witchcraft, a gift that she kept secret from the people around her. She’s found a haven working as a governess for the Montgomery family, but soon the home is visited by several strange individuals, namely Matteo Garibaldi. She senses something dark in Matteo and does her best to avoid the Montgomerys’ guest whenever possible, but fate has other ideas when Isobel and Matteo become shut inside for a night.

    Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier
    Juliet Marillier is the author to go to if you love beautifully detailed fantasy settings. Sorcha is the youngest of seven children, with six older brothers who are now cursed to take the form of swans. As her father takes a new wife following the death of Sorcha’s mother a decade earlier, things take a turn for the worse as she’s sent away, kidnapped by her family’s enemies. When a man comes to her rescue and takes her under his protection, Sorcha is conflicted between her blossoming feelings of love and her need to break her brothers’ curse.

    Daughter of Mystery, by Heather Rose Jones
    Daughter of Mystery is a lesbian romance set in a detailed fantasy realm with religious-based magic, political intrigue, and a fish-out-of-water heroine. Margerit Sovitre is surprised to learn that she’s inherited the fortunes and the protective bodyguard of a baron. The change in finances catapults her to being one of the most eligible heiresses on the market. Thrust into a world with which she isn’t familiar, she relies on her new guard, Barbara to lead her. But when Barbara sees an end to her servitude, she must choose to finally live a free life or take up arms for Lady Margerit.

    The Devil in Disguise, by Cynthia Eden
    As overlord of dark, sinister creatures, Luke Thorne typically wants for nothing until he meets Mina James, a living, breathing siren. Her appearance in his life is a temptation he cannot ignore and he longs to claim the rare woman, but he comes to realize that Mina is out for herself. She is destined to escape her enemies and Luke’s all encompassing power is the best way to make that happen. Can the two come to a mutually beneficial arrangement or are they destined to use and betray each other for the sake of power?

    Diablo Lake: Moonstruck, by Lauren Dane
    Katie Faith isn’t happy about having to slink back to her hometown, especially after being jilted by her werewolf ex-fiance. But Diablo Lake is full of magic and two warring shifter families, the Dooleys and the Pembreys, and her return doesn’t go unnoticed. Werewolf Jace Dooley has known Katie for years, though now that both of them are all grown up, there are more than just friendly feelings getting in the way. Unfortunately, Katie and Jace’s flirtation means all sorts of trouble once the Pembreys realize their rivals have a witch on their side.

    Enchanted Warrior, by Sharon Ashwood
    As one of King Arthur’s knights, Gawain remembers the fall of Camelot. But the world he is now in looks nothing like the one he has known. Somehow, someway, Gawain wakes up in present day in the Medievaland Theme Park. Historian Tamsin Greene isn’t sure she believes that stranger who appears in the park in which she works. However she’s determined to help him. Though no matter how much Gawain wants Tamsin’s help, he senses a deep magic within her. And if there’s one thing he abhors as a knight, it’s a witch.

    The Fire Seer, by Amy Raby
    In the Coalition of Mages, Taya is known as a fire seer, and she’s determined to maker her fellow magical colleagues take notice. By accepting a mission to track down a rogue mage, Taya knows her work is cut out for her, which is why she’s taking on a bodyguard. What she doesn’t expect is that her guard is her former nemesis, Mandir. The two are unsure if they can set aside their differences to work together, but they see no harm in trying, if the rogue mage doesn’t track them down first.

    Firelight, by Kristen Callihan
    A paranormal historical with Beauty and the Beast elements, Firelight has one of the strongest heroines, both physically and emotionally. Miranda Ellis is a fire starter, a secret she desperately tries to hide. Lord Benjamin Archer is a mysterious figure who hides his face behind a mask. He’s also been in love with Miranda for years. As circumstances throw them together again, leading to a marriage of convenience, the two not only must confront their growing feelings for one another, but also deal with accusations that could lead to Archer’s arrest.

    Garden Spells, by Sarah Addison Allen
    Sarah Addison Allen is an expert at writing magical realism. The Waverly women are used to being the subject of gossip in their small town in North Carolina. Claire Waverly keeps to herself, dedicating her time to her catering business, but when her wayward sister and niece come back to North Carolina, things become increasingly complicated. Claire’s predictable life spirals into a tailspin; her magic, based on emotions, becomes harder and harder to control. For readers who prefer their romance on the lighter side and have a weakness for sisterly relationships, this one’s for you.

    Heart of Crystal, by Lauren D.M. Smith
    Azara comes from a family of fire mages, a family that has been kidnapped and taken from her. She’s heard rumors of her family’s whereabouts and she’s determined to free them. In order to save her family, she must pose as a tea merchant alongside her emperor’s magus, Jin, to gain access to enemy territory. Her rescue mission is more dangerous than she realizes, as the two mages battle their feelings for one another amidst an underlying betrayal.

    Heart of Stone, by Christine Warren
    Ella Harrow is a self proclaimed “art geek.” She also just so happens to have psychic abilities. Working in a museum allows Ella to keep herself secluded, alone with artifacts and her powers contained. But then one of the museum’s statues comes to life. Kees is a gargoyle unintentionally awakened by Ella, though the why of the matter has yet to be determined. Was he awakened to protect the earth from danger, or does Ella’s presence have something to do with it?

    Her Wish, by Sophie H. Morgan
    With a quite funny take on the typical paranormal romance, genies are celebrities in the modern world. Women want them and men want to be them. Unfortunately, Charlie Donahue wants absolutely nothing to do with genies, which makes it awkward that her friend entered Charlie into a lottery to win a genie at her command. It’s even more awkward once she wins and notorious genie Jax Michaels appears to make all her wishes come true. The two are not quite enemies, but Charlie makes it quite clear she’s immune to his charms, which only spurs Jax on even more.

    How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days, by Kerrelyn Sparks
    Luciana has lived a sheltered life, never once leaving the Isle of Moon, but her father has given her a chance to see the rest of the world. There’s just one catch: In order to leave their home, she must agree to marry Lord Leofric, known as the Beast of Benwick. Both individuals agree to the match, though they imagine love probably isn’t in the cards…Until they discover each other’s magical abilities. Luciana is more powerful in her magic than Leo realizes, while Leo’s fear of endangering others with his ability to harness lightning slowly seems to wane. Two magical strangers falling in love after agreeing to an arranged marriage? Yes, please!

    If He’s Wicked, by Hannah Howell
    Julian Kenwood can’t shake the feeling that his life is in danger, but he has nothing to corroborate that feeling, until Chloe Wherlocke shows up on his doorstep. Chloe receives visions and the latest one she has shows a dangerous and deadly plot against Julian and his child. She’s earnest in her need to save him and prevent her vision from occurring. All she has to do is convince the broken-hearted Julian to trust her.

    Labyrinth Lost, by Zoraida Córdova
    If you’ve always thought you needed a queer Alice in Wonderland-inspired romantic journey featuring witches, look no further than Labyrinth Lost. When it’s revealed that Alex is a the most powerful bruja in a generation, she’s anything but excited. In fact, she hates magic and schemes to rid herself of her abilities. But when the spell goes haywire and her family vanishes, Alex knows she must use her powers for the sake of righting her wrong. There is an element of romance that I think will delight many readers, though it’s worth a read just for the world-building and magic.

    The Magpie Lord, by K.J. Charles
    Magician Stephen Day absolutely hates Lord Crane. Well, rather, he hates Crane’s family. But Stephen quickly learns that Crane is nothing like his father, and when the man needs magical assistance, Stephen can’t find the heart to say no. Sexual tension runs rampant between these two men amidst of backdrop of evil magic and mysterious attacks. For readers who like Gothic romances with a twist, The Magpie Lord has chemistry that crackles off the pages and a dark mystery that propels the story to great heights.

    The Mark of the Tala, by Jeffe Kennedy
    Andi doesn’t mind being the middle princess of her father’s kingdom. She prefers being overlooked in favor of sneaking off to the stables. Then, a strange man turns her life upside down. Rayfe is a man who rules a mysterious kingdom where gossip is frequent, as whispers travel that his lands are overrun by evil magic and shapeshifters. During a chance meeting with Andi, he declares the princess will make a fine queen for his kingdom. But the declaration sends Andi’s father into an obsessive madness, and Rayfe may be just the ally she needs.

    Masked Possession, by Alana Delacroix
    Caro Yeats is a masquerada, a person with the rare ability to change his or her appearance. Working for a public relations company that specializes in supernatural clients, she’s never met anyone quite like her, until now. Hoping to understand more about herself and her abilities, she takes on, albeit hesitantly, the assignment to assist Eric Kelton, a masquerada desperate to “rebrand” himself and fix the problems his alter egos have caused.

    Master of Crows, by Grace Draven
    Martise of Asher is on a dangerous mission: spy on the rogue sorcerer, Silhara of Neith, by posing as an interested apprentice, and turn him over to the Conclave. Silhara knows Martise is a spy the moment they meet. Not only does he have to navigate Martise’s eventual betrayal, but he’s also battling a madness that could have lasting effects on his world. As Martise commits to the role of her apprenticeship, her quest to find a cure for Silhara’s affliction starts to change, from duplicitous to earnest and sincere.

    My Commander, by Alanea Alder
    A sewing circle of magical matriarchs takes a turn after they consult a witch elder about when their sons will be supplying them with grandchildren. The elder surprises them with the knowledge that their sons all have mates waiting to be found, there’s just one catch: they’re all human. Aiden McKenzie truly feels like he doesn’t need a mate, though fate has other ideas when Meryn Evans enters his life and promptly knocks him out. Literally.

    Never Again, by Michele Bardsley
    In small town Nevermore, Texas, witches, wizards, and humans live relatively peacefully in their close knit community. Lucina Rackmore is a witch down on her luck. Her family’s finances are nonexistent, and her former lover and master wizard has reduced her magical talents to nearly nothing. To make matters worse, Nevermore is home to her ex-brother-in-law, Gray Calhoun, a man who was nearly sacrificed to a demon by her sister. But when it’s clear that there’s no love lost between Lucinda and her hometown, and that her dangerous ex is trying to “win” her back, Gray begrudgingly steps up to be her knight in shining armor.

    No Proper Lady, by Isabel Cooper
    Joan is from a time when demons plagued the earth. Unfortunately, she now finds herself thrown back in time to Victorian England, where a woman outfitted with all manner of weapons is a sight to behold. She knows what she must do though, as she’s been sent back in order to defeat an evil magician, to keep the demon-filled future from happening. To blend in enough to reach her target, Joan must seek help from Simon Grenville to teach her how to become the perfect Victorian woman.

    Prince of Power, by Elisabeth Staab
    Few rivalries have lasted longer than the one between vampires and wizards. Anton is the son of the Master Wizard, and his aim is to steal the power of the vampire king’s sister, Tyra. Though when he’s finally face-to-face with the undeniably beautiful vampire, things become…complicated, as Tyra also can’t seem to bring herself to vanquish the wizard before her. An enemies to lovers romance between two strong individuals from warring families.

    Prism, by Nina Walker
    Prism has an interesting concept that will make readers want to know more. The cover is also pretty gorgeous. In Prism, colors are directly related to alchemy, and young alchemist Jessa is undergoing her training under Prince Lucas. While Jessa just wants to complete her apprenticeship, Lucas is in desperate need to uncover the magic needed to heal his ailing mother, and time is running out. A unique take on the typical magic and alchemy young adult narrative, with a charming prince and an ambitious heroine.

    The Red, by Tiffany Reisz
    Tiffany Reisz knows how to write a darn good mysterious and erotic romance. Mona Lisa St. James made a promise to her mother that she’d do anything to keep her art gallery running, but Mona isn’t sure she has any choice but to sell it. Then Malcolm enters her life with an offer she can’t refuse. If she submits to Malcolm for a year’s time, he’ll save her gallery. Mona accepts, unaware of what she’s getting into, and who or what Malcolm truly is. A twisty and surprising romance that’s unlike anything you’ve read before.

    Rising Fire, by Terri Brisbin
    Brienne of Yester is having a problem. Her abilities with fire are starting to become dangerous, surging and sparking beyond her control. What she doesn’t know is that the dark powers of the “fabled fire goddess” are slowly starting to seep into her magic. William de Brus has been sent by the king to track down this destructive magical force and is completely taken off guard once he realizes the magic is coming from a woman. William does his best to try and free Brienne from her magic, but if he can’t, his orders are to destroy her.

    Rose & Thunder, by Lilith Saintcrow
    Isabella Harpe is a witch who lives a nomadic lifestyle, taking her tarot cards and packing up whenever the mood strikes her. She lands in Tremont City, where a tough assignment is waiting for her from her newest employer, Jeremy Tremont. His family has built their estate on an ancient, cursed plot of land, a land that has many secrets, and he needs her help. Isabella can’t argue with Jeremy’s paycheck, but the question is, can she survive through nightfall in order to break the Tremont curse?

    The Scribe, by Elizabeth Hunter
    Ava Matheson can’t stop hearing voices and she’s traveled to Istanbul, hoping to find answers. During her travels, she begins to realize she isn’t alone, as she’s seen the same group of men tailing her time and time again. Malachi is tasked with protecting the human race, that tattooed words and images on his skin imbued with magic. What Ava doesn’t realize is she has her own abilities, ones that are meant to complement Malachi’s. He just hopes he can convince her before someone takes Ava for their own, greedy purposes.

    Second Sight, by Amanda Quick
    Venetia Milton is at the Arcana House to photograph its mysterious artifact, though there’s something about her employer, Gabriel Jones, that unsettles her. Independent and thirsty for adventure, Venetia has the secret ability of sensing energies and auras, which makes her curiosity for the Arcane House’s artifacts even stronger. Though when people start disappearing and dying around Venetia, Gabriel takes a keen interest in getting to know the photographer a little more intimately.

    Sex and the Psychic Witch, by Annette Blair
    Prefer your romances more on the comedic side? Give Sex and the Psychic Witch a try! Harmony helps run her sisters’ curio shop. She’s able to “read” objects and get a sense of their previous owners. When a Celtic ring turns up, Harmony travels to Massachusetts in an effort to put an angry ghost to rest and restore King Paxton’s renovation project back to working order. An opposites attract, slapstick romance with a pushy witch and a stuffy hero!

    Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal
    Jane Austen meets magic in the start to the whimsically romantic Glamourist Histories series. Jane Ellsworth has the power to use glamour and when she finds out her sister’s suitor is manipulating her for her dowry, she refuses to stand idly by. The magic is interesting and the setting will be familiar to many historical romance fans. If you prefer a more subdued romance, this is a series that just keeps getting better and better. (The covers also look beautiful on any bookshelf.)

    Shadow of the Wolf, by Dana Marie Bell
    Christopher Beckett is a wolf shifter and he’s ready to find his mate, fed up with his life of loneliness. However, the qualities he seeks in a mate are very particular, and he hopes that by casting an ancient spell to find his partner, he’ll get everything he’s looking for. What he gets is Alannah Evans, a witch who has no problem with his “wolf” but has many issues with the fact that he practices magic. Though the two are unsure if Lana’s witch and Chris’ wizard will get along, an old enemy will become a bigger threat than any adversarial opinions.

    Shadowbound, by Bec McMaster
    An ancient relic has gone missing and Ianthe Martin is the one tasked with finding it. However, the only man who could possibly help her is that last man who wants to see her. Ianthe is the one responsible for having the Earl of Rathbourne locked away in Bedlam. He has zero desire to aid her in finding the relic, but the promise of freedom is too tempting to resist. However, Rathbourne has a few conditions of his own that will lead Ianthe to his bedroom, night after night.

    The Siren and the Sword, by Cecilia Tan
    An erotic LGBT magical romance set on a university campus! Kyle Wadsworth starts his freshmen year discovering that he’s magical. At a time when many young adults are beginning to learn about themselves, throwing in having to addresses one’s magical talents makes a stressful time even more so. Fortunately Kyle quickly settles into a group of students just like him, as the group undertakes honing their magic while trying to solve the mystery of the library’s secret siren who wanders the shelves.

    Spellbound Falls, by Janet Chapman
    Widow Olivia Baldwin isn’t interested in cultivating a relationship; her heart is full of helping take care of Inglenook, but when Maximilian Oceanus and his young, precocious son help her in escaping the unwanted attentions of a rather persistent suitor, there’s something that won’t let her ignore Mac’s presence. Her seatbelt locks and sticks when he’s around, doors just seem to open for him, and other little things that don’t seem to add up. For fans of contemporary small town romances with a cozy element, Janet Chapman’s Spellbound Falls series will hit all of those notes and more. And by more, I mean some rather adorable magic.

    Star of the Morning, by Lynn Kurland
    The Black Mage is slowly overtaking the kingdom of Neroche with his dark breed of magic, and there’s only one way to defeat him: a pair of magical swords. Morgan is no ordinary, maidenly woman. She’s a warrior and she wields one of the magical swords that can end the Black Mage’s reign. She knows she has a duty and along her quest, she meets Miach, a man with his own reasons for protecting the kingdom of Neroche. Morgan is wary of Miach at first, but with the trials of their journey ahead, distrust slowly gives way to respect and then to romance.

    Stars of Fortune, by Nora Roberts
    Nora Roberts is another author who has some great magical romances to read. What makes Stars of Fortune such a compulsive read is the cast of characters and Roberts’ deft hand at packing so much into a 300-ish page book. Sasha Riggs is an artist plagued with visions of people destined to save the world. Her only solace is to paint what she sees and she soon realizes that the people in her visions are very real, including the magician, Bran Killian.

    The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic, by Emily Croy Barker
    This is more magical fiction with romantic elements and is great for readers who enjoy romance, but would rather it not be central to the story. Nora Fischer is supposed to be busy working on her dissertation, not getting herself sucked into a portal to another world where her life is transformed. But it all seems too good to be true, and the enigmatic Aruendiel is the only one who can get her back to her world in one piece.

    Vengeance Born, by Kylie Griffin
    Annika is half-human and half-demon, a disgrace to the pure blooded demons in her kingdom. The only thing she longs for is escaping to the human realm to live a life of peace. Kalan Tayn is one of the demon’s greatest enemies, known as a Light Blade, but he soon finds himself a prisoner to the demon horde. Sensing that Kalan is her chance to leave, Annika promises to help him make it home if he takes her with him. Vengeance Born is gritty, full of action, and Annika really shines with her ability to give and take away life.

    Water Bound, by Christine Feehan
    Rikki is autistic and has found a home amongst her sisters, but nothing comforts her quite like the water, and being near the ocean gives her a sense of peace. When she spots Lev Prakenskii caught in its currents, she doesn’t hesitate to rescue him. But Lev has no memory of his life before winding up in the waters, a treacherous life in which he served as a killer for the Soviet government. Fantasy and suspense combine perfectly in this romance with a slow burn attraction and two people who aren’t aware how close to danger they really are.

    Wicked Ride, by Rebecca Zanetti
    Come on, who doesn’t want to read about a magical, immortal, motorcycle-riding hero? Wicked Ride is the first book in the Realm Enforcers series, which gets better and better, though it’s advised that you read them in order. And who better to go up against an immortal than Alexandra Monzelle, a tough as nails vice cop? She does her best to avoid Kellach Dunne, but with his constant interference in her work, he’s rather hard to ignore. Especially when she’d rather get him into bed and get her attraction over with.

    Wickedly Dangerous, by Deborah Blake
    For those familiar with Russian folklore, you might recognize Baba Yaga as a figure of magic and mischief. Barbara Yager is a Baba Yaga, which is not just one, solitary being, but a title bestowed to several worthy women. Barbara lies low, posing as a researcher and herbalist with her dog and traveling in a magical camper. When a child goes missing, Barbara must help and confront several enemies she’s left behind. At least she has the attractive Sheriff Liam McClellan to keep her company.

    The Winter King, by C.L. Wilson
    Wynter Atrialan is out for revenge. Unfortunately, his quest has caused him to absorb a powerful magic that is slowing consuming him. Part of his plan for vengeance is taking one of his enemy’s daughter as his bride, Khamsin Coruscate, known as Princess of Summerlea and summoner of Storms. But while Kham expects the marriage to be a punishment to her, it actually affords her the freedom she’s long been denied. She wants to love her new husband, but the dangerous magic to which her Winter is connected may just destroy them both.

    Wintersong, by S. Jae Jones
    All of you Labyrinth fans out there, read this, immediately! This is a lyrical, magical romance in which a young woman with the gift of music agrees to become the Goblin King’s bride in order to save her sister. Fair warning that there’s a bit of a cliffhanger and many of us (myself included) are eagerly awaiting the follow up book. The Goblin King’s loneliness is palpable; he’s afraid to fully give himself over to Liesl knowing that she’ll soon leave him. A heartbreakingly fantastic story.

    Witch Fire, by Anya Bast
    Jack McAllister can harness the power of fire and his next mission from the Coven is rather personal. Years ago, he saw Mira Hoskins’ family murdered and he’s carried around guilt ever since. Now the same forces that destroyed her family are determined to drain Mira of her rare magical abilities. There’s just one problem, Mira has no clue that she’s an elemental witch who can command the power of air.

    The Witch of Painted Sorrows, by M.J. Rose
    What can you do when you become possessed by La Lune, a famous witch and courtesan from the sixteen century? When Sandrine Salome becomes fused with La Lune’s spirit, she starts to fully accept her “erotic nature,” while on the run from her cruel husband. Set in Paris in the late nineteenth century, The Witch of Painted Sorrows is undoubtedly romantic, but there’s an additional underlying seductive aspect of playing with fire.

    What romances with magic do you love?

    The post 50 Magical Romances to Read Right Now appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Tara Sonin 3:00 pm on 2016/07/05 Permalink
    Tags: love and vengeance, , the bourbon thief, tiffany reisz   

    A Love Affair of Blood and Bourbon in Tiffany Reisz’s The Bourbon Thief 

    In The Bourbon Thief, Tiffany Reisz spins a tale as old as time; an epic historical novel about the unraveling of a bourbon dynasty and the mysterious, vicious woman at the center of it.

    “We have bourbon in our blood…and blood in our bourbon.”

    When bar owner Cooper McQueen meets a bombshell dressed in red and takes her to bed, he thinks nothing of it. But the following morning, he finds his most prized possession stolen: a million-dollar bottle of Red Thread Bourbon, the first bottle ever made. When the woman—named Paris—says that the Bourbon is actually her birthright and Cooper never should have had it in the first place, we learn that the story of Red Thread begins and ends with fire and blood.

    The conceit of revealing a sordid past history through a third party is familiar territory for Reisz, whose Original Sinners novels often retain a similar structure. Paris deftly weaves past and present with the story of fiery Tamara Maddox, heir apparent to the Red Thread fortune—despite the fact that she’s a woman, which is of deep disappointment to her grandfather, who hoped his son would inherit the riches. But Tamara’s father committed suicide, leaving her and her mother without a future or a home. Defiant, willful and with a heart of gold, Tamara doesn’t want to marry someone her mother and grandfather deem “suitable” by their Kentucky highborn standards; she wants Levi, the groundskeeper and stable boy, who is too old for her—and as we soon learn, an inappropriate choice because he is black. When her mother catches them kissing on her sixteenth birthday, she gives Tamara an ultimatum: Levi goes, or her favorite horse does.

    But Tamara refuses to concede to her mother’s demands, which further angers her grandfather, whose horrific retaliation finds Tamara spending the rest of her life to seeking vengeance against his memory—and atonement for her sin. It turns out the well of Maddox family darkness only begins there; over the course of the novel, secrets are revealed, truths destroyed, and choices made that have irrevocable.

    While this is not a romance novel (the story’s happily ever after is more than tinged with tragedy), there is romance between Tamara and Levi, who reunite later in the novel as part of Tamara’s master plan to secure the Red Thread inheritance. There is also romance in the way Reisz writes; her descriptions of Kentucky are as beautiful and terrible as the history of the place itself. The passion between Tamara and Levi leaps off the page, but their journey is not an easy one. By the time Paris tells Cooper the end of her story, these characters have endured their share of heartbreak, along with beauty and redemption—but we are left wondering whether that will ever be enough for Paris, whose mission to take back the legacy stolen from her family a generation ago has only just begun.

    Fans of Reisz’ other romances will surely be along for the ride, but newcomers to her work, be warned: The Bourbon Thief will steal your heart.

    The Bourbon Thief is in stores now.

     
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