Review: Holiday Heat by Carrie Lomax

Holiday Heat

A Christmas Dramedy

by Carrie Lomax

Genre: Contemporary Romance

BLURB:

A broken engagement.
An ill-advised fling.
A reality-TV inspired dating contest.

Meet the Bachelorette…
When Alyssa Carlisle arrives home for the holidays nursing a fresh Christmas Eve heartbreak, a hookup with her hot neighbor, Marc De Luna, seems like the perfect rebound, a no-strings-attached, super sexy vacation fling.

…and the (Play) Boy Next Door
Although he’s never told anyone, Marc has had it bad for his aloof, ambitious neighbor ever since her family moved into the neighborhood years earlier. But knowing she was seeing some rich guy in New York told him she was off-limits… until she shows up alone and unexpectedly single for this year’s Christmas. With the rich boyfriend out of the picture, Marc’s not about to pass up the chance to claim Alyssa as his own.

But when the ex-boyfriend makes an unexpected appearance, intent on getting Alyssa back, Marc’s got a fight on his hands. And he’ll do whatever it takes to win.

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So here’s my review, originally posted on my author website:

Last night, I stumbled on Holiday Heat: A Christmas Dramedy by Carrie Lomax, a seemingly “holiday” novel with its Christmas glitter and mistletoe on the cover that’s not exactly a holiday novel. It’s set during the holidays, yes, but it’s *not a holiday novel. Family dynamics? Check. Sibling rivalry and protectiveness? Check. Steamy AF hot scenes? Checkcheckcheck.

The first thing that caught my attention was the smart and witty heroine, Alyssa Carlisle, who lives in a studio apartment in Midtown Manhattan and she’s just been stood up by her rich boyfriend of two years, Zach. He was supposed to propose on Christmas Eve but he’s five hours late and when he does show up, he’s drunk and tells her he got cold feet. Apparently, it’s not the first time Zach has pulled something like this and so, with a plane to catch in the morning where they were supposed to spend Christmas with her parents in Tampa, Florida, she tells Zach they’re over, to have a great life, and not to talk to her ever again.

Tampa is where we meet Marc Del Luna, the oldest son of the Del Lunas who live next door to her parents. He’s never finished college but he’s smoking hot, “the kind of guy who made girls’ panties wet just by walking into the room—at least, the ones like her who wore undergarments.” And apparently, Alyssa has been secretly crushing on him since her family moved into the neighborhood almost ten years ago… but there was something about Marc being known as the resident man-whore that made her steer clear.

While taking out the trash, they bump into each other and sparks fly, especially when Marc learns she’s suddenly single. Who knew the (play)boy next door liked her all these years?  To Alyssa, the prospect of a one-night stand or a vacation fling with Marc before she returns to New York is looking better and better every minute.

But before one assumes that Marc is simply the manwhore everyone thinks he is, there’s actually more to him than meets the eye, just as there’s more to the sibling dynamics between him and Julian as well as Alyssa and Janelle, her younger sister stuck in a dead-end job and drowning in student loans.

What I love the most about Holiday Heat is that it’s a refreshing take on romance from the usual fare that I’ve been picking up lately (dark romance, secret baby, and let-me-top-the-sex-in-this-book-with-more-sex… oh wait, that’s my book!). It’s a new voice and I love me some new voices especially since I just finished A Man Called Ove and needed something light and fun and witty.

I like how Lomax explores certain social issues that are at the forefront today and for the most part, they’re deftly interwoven into the storyline. The sparks that fly between Alyssa and Marc are super hot and deserving of New Year’s Eve fireworks, and the scenes between them are super steamy as well. But that’s not going to mean that everything is smooth sailing either. They go through some rough patches like an unexpected visitor, a reality TV show-inspired contest, and some good measure of angst.  And for a holiday tryst that’s hot and heavy from the get-go, will their fling last long after the New Year’s Eve fireworks are all done?

So, yup, except for the ending which kinda felt flat for me because I wanted more Aly and Marc, I enjoyed Holiday Heat: A Christmas Dramedy by Carrie Lomax and highly recommend it if you like a contemporary romance with a chock-full of really well-written steamy scenes and high octave chemistry.

Holiday Heat: A Christmas Dramedy is free to read in Kindle Unlimited.

10% of the proceeds from this book will benefit the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Find Carrie online:

Website: http://www.carrielomax.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carrielomaxnovelist/

*The only reason I say it’s NOT a holiday novel is that holiday novels get pigeonholed during the holidays. Which is a disservice to this witty and layered novel that’s more about relationships and romance than the holiday itself. It’s just SET in a holiday and that’s about it. But that’s also the Marketing me talking. I hate seeing good novels get pushed aside because people assume if it’s holiday-themed then it’s kinda “holiday-themed” which to me, would be sugar and spice and mistletoe and family and eggnog and chocolate with marshmallows and cuddles in front of the fireplace. None of which brings up steamy AF romance in all its glory. I mean, come on. When do you watch A Christmas Story? While You Were Sleeping and so many other stories that are set during the holidays???

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Books to Check Out: My Perfect Mistress by Carly Quinn

My Perfect Mistress (An Erotic Short Story) is Carly Quinn’s debut short story about a young woman named Zoe.  Between her divorce, the death of a parent, and the quick remarriage of the surviving parent, she’s having a heck of a tough year and needs to blow off some steam.  When her best friend suggests she go online and explore some alternative lifestyle websites, she figures she’s got nothing to lose if she’s just looking, right?

Right.

So she sets out to look for a Dom of her own to teach her the ropes, but what she finds is someone she never expects – Chase, the perfect man who’s looking for the perfect Mistress.  What follows are their online exchanges, from tentative hello’s and even a bit of storytelling on her end as she explores that power exchange a little bit more, and what follows next is, of course, the meeting.

Is she a Mistress or Domme as he tells her she really is?  Or are they both really just exploring the lifestyle together, fumbling towards a dynamic that would closely resemble D/s while getting to know each other, or are they serving as each other’s distractions?

Her Perfect Mistress is free to read on Kindle Unlimited.

Review: Clean Break by Abby Vegas

Title: Clean Break
Author: Abby Vegas
Genre: Chick Lit

I enjoyed following Lane Haviland’s adventures – or is it misadventures – after she moves to Brooklyn thinking she’s sharing a nice apartment with a balcony only to find out she’s been scammed.  So after a quick visit to the police precinct to pour out her sob story and some unenthusiastic help from a chain smoking apartment manager, she ends up in a 6×9 basement room with a Manny Pacquiao poster that thankfully doesn’t hide a blood stain.   With new digs nailed down, she just needs a new job and she finds one as a personal assistant to a neurotic Manhattan housewife.

Lane’s got some issues with her past and though I wish this was explored more, it’s her personality that shines through for me in the book and the way she deals with every obstacle thrown her way.  When the love interest reveals himself, it comes in the form of a mysterious Russian handyman named Viktor who shows his heart underneath all that nasty scar and tattoos.  But there’s trouble brewing on the horizon and short of revealing too much  about what happens next, it kept my attention all the way through the end.  One thing I did wish was for the relationship between Lane and Viktor to be explored a bit more towards the end.

Overall, it’s a strong debut novel, and I can’t wait to read more of her work.

CB

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About the Author

Abby Vegas loves reading and writing books that feature feisty, flawed heroines. She grew up in New York City and lives in Connecticut. Visit her on the web at AbbyVegasAuthor.com.

 

Book Blast and Review: Drop Dead Handsome by M.K. Scott

Dilapidated Victorian house appears "haunted"

Drop Dead Handsome

M.K. Scott

Genre: Cozy Mystery

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REVIEW

The Painted Lady Inn is open for business and limping along in the B and B world. A high school reunion package assembles Donna’s least desirable classmates, including the backstabbing cheerleader, her narcissistic high school crush, and Arnie, whose cheesy poem had everyone calling her, hot mama. It’s all something she liked to forget. These are the normal guests.

An octogenarian self-proclaimed sleuth, Father Christmas, a dognapping couple, and a pair who is copying everything in the Inn to set up their own competitive establishment rounds out the group. Maria, the sister-in-law, has a matchmaking agenda for Donna. Daniel, her brother, finds himself serving as a referee with one guest’s multiple wives.

High school reunions can be murder. Detective Mark Taber is on the trail of the murderer, when he isn’t interfering in a smitten Arnie’s determined bid to woo the no nonsense innkeeper.

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Excerpt

By the time, she had the salts swept up and the broom stowed, Terri arrived. The woman swept in with the same arrogance Cleopatra must have shown entering Rome. A disdainful head tilt announced she’d been in grander accommodations. No mistaking the woman, she looked the same, only tighter as if her skin had shrunk, making her face all angles without any soft curves.

“Hello, Gentry, Terri, I have a reservation.”

Donna repressed an urge to remark that her presence made a reservation self-evident. “Yes, you do. Welcome to The Painted Lady Inn. Here’s your gift basket.” She pushed the remaining basket in Terri’s direction.

The woman pawed through the contents as her lips pulled down in a frown. “The bath salts that were advertised on the website ad are missing.”

Before she could answer, Terri continued.

“No way, I can carry it and my luggage upstairs. I guess it’s too much to expect a backwater establishment like this would have an elevator?” Her sneer announced she already knew the answer.

“Here at The Painted Lady Inn, we strive for authenticity.” It seemed a better answer than no, we don’t have an elevator.

Terri raised both eyebrows as she stared down at Donna, who had picked up both the woman’s suitcase and basket. Normally, the woman wouldn’t have anything on her height wise, but with her hunched over like Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame, she was at a disadvantage.

What did she have in the suitcase? Bricks? She stood, straightening her back and retaining as much dignity as possible. “You’re in B2.”

“Hmm. Should I assume there’s no running water?”

Count to ten. She inhaled deeply. While she didn’t think it was possible, the woman had grown even more malicious with age. “Excuse me?” Maybe she hadn’t heard right.

“If you’re trying to return to Victorian times, then they wouldn’t have running water.”

About the Authors

MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_DropDeadHandsomeM. K. Scott is the husband and wife writing team behind The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries. Morgan K Wyatt is the general wordsmith, while her husband, Scott, is the grammar hammer and physics specialist. He uses his engineering skills to explain how fast a body falls when pushed over a cliff and various other felonious activities. The Internet and experts in the field provide forensic information, while the recipes and B and B details require a more hands on approach. Morgan’s daughter who manages a hotel provides guest horror stories to fuel the plot lines. The couple’s dog, Chance, is the inspiration behind Jasper, Donna’s dog. Murder Mansion is the first book in The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries. Overall, it is a fun series to create and read. Drop Dead Handsome is the second book in the series. Killer Review should be out in October 2016.

Social Media

Website
http://www.morgankwyatt.com/

Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMorganKWyatt

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http://www.twitter.com/morgankwyatt

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https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5826299.Morgan_K_Wyatt

Pinterest
http://www.pinterest.com/morgankwyatt/

Tsu
http://www.tsu.co/MorganKWyatt

Buy Links

Amazon US 
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EQML0RO

Amazon UK 
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01EQML0RO

Amazon Canada 
https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01EQML0RO

Amazon Australia 
https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01EQML0RO

Amazon Mexico 
https://www.amazon.com.mx/dp/B01EQML0RO

Smashwords 
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/639885

Forthcoming on KOBO, iTunes & Barnes and Noble

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2: fundinmental
3: The Avid Reader
4: Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
5: Christine Young
6: Sharing Links and Wisdom
7: BooksChatter
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11: Long and Short Reviews
12: Love Sex and Other Dirty Words
13: The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
14: Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews
15: Queen of All She Reads
16: Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin’
17: Sapphyria’s Book Reviews
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21: Wendi zwaduk – romance to make your heart race
22: Lynn Crandall
23: Hope. Dreams. Life…Love
24: The Broke Book Bank
25: Readeropolis
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27: Room With Books
28: Tina Donahue Books – Heat with Heart
29: Journey of a Bookseller
30: Author C.A.Milson
31: Book Crazy Scrapbook Mama
32: Bookjunkie’s Book Blog
33: Linda Nightingale…Wordsmith
34: Natural bri

Blog Tour: When I Lied by Michelle Kemper Brownlow

When I Lied - COVER

When Kate created her sexy online persona, “Lexi,” she never expected the lies to spin so far out of control. But now one of the biggest rock stars in the world, the brilliant but damaged Oliver Walt, is in love with her, and revealing the truth means not only breaking her own heart but sending the musician into a tailspin from which he might never recover.

Lexi is just the sort of girl a dark and brooding rockstar like Oliver Walt would fall for.  Beautiful. Wild. Fun. The only problem?

LEXI IS A LIE

Bookish Kate Green knew she needed to brush up on her social skills before her first year of college, so she created an online persona to chat and flirt. And who better to practice on than talented and tormented rock frontman Oliver Walt? After all, the lead singer of her favorite band would hardly notice one more adoring fan. Except…he does. And with a single private message, Kate’s world changes forever.

Then Oliver wants to meet in person. Kate knows she has to come clean, but things are never that easy, so instead she enlists the aid of her beautiful and calculating study partner…which turns out just the way you might expect. Now, with Gretchen refusing to stop being Lexi, the lies grow bigger by the hour—and so do the stakes. Kate’s heart and Oliver’s life.

WHEN I LIED - TEASER 2

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AUTHOR BIO

Michelle Kemper BrownlowMichelle Kemper Brownlow likes her music loud and prefers live concerts but will happily settle for the eclectic playlists on her iPhone. This Penn State grad and former high school art teacher is easily distracted by colorful art supplies and Eddie Vedder’s voice. When she’s not in her studio writing, she can be found putting off housework for a good romance novel that has her heart pounding and tears flowing. She is married to her college sweetheart and is mom to three fantastic humans, a black lab, a tabby cat and a Chinchilla named Wodney.

Social Media

blog: http://michellekemperbrownlow.blogspot.com

facebook: http://facebook.com/MichelleKemperBrownlowAuthor/

twitter: http://twitter.com/MK_Brownlow

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EXCERPT

“Oliver, I don’t know if it’s my place to say anything…” I stammered a little as I tried to find the right words.

“It’s okay, Kate. You can say anything to me. What is it? What’s bothering you?” He tilted his head like he always did. It melted me each time he did it.

“Oliver, just know that you have blessed my heart and my soul with who you are and the words you bring to life. Be careful not to cut your time short inspiring the world with your genius, too.” I didn’t know what else to say and worried I’d said too much. Tears pricked behind my eyes, still being held back from earlier in the evening.

“Kate! Why are you crying?” Oliver’s other hand lifted to my other cheek and he held my face close to his.

“Oliver, there’s something I have to tell you.” Tears streamed from the corners of my eyes. The time had come. It needed to be done. It would break him but hopefully he could heal knowing I’d voluntarily set him free from the lie I’d created.

The limo’s horn blared and we both jumped. I sucked in a deep breath and wiped my face. Oliver’s hands gripped my bare arms.

“Come ON! Say good night already!” Gretchen’s voice had become like nails on a chalkboard and I’d have gotten great pleasure in ripping her throat wide open so I’d never have to hear it again.

“Lexi, you’re being rude. Please give us a moment.” Oliver actually rolled his eyes then turned back to me. I knew I didn’t have enough time to unleash the backstory of my lie before Gretchen would catapult herself from the limo and drag Oliver back inside.

Abort mission.

“It’s okay. I’m sorry, Oliver. I get weepy when I drink too much. It’s nothing. Go ahead. I don’t want you to have to deal with Lexi being pissed off for the rest of your evening.”

“You sure you’re okay?” He placed his hands on my bare neck and goose bumps rose across every square inch of me.

“Promise, I’m fine. Champagne makes me really intense.” I winked and turned and slid

my ID through the security lock. The door clicked and I pulled it open. I wanted him to walk inside with me and not leave until morning.

“Sweet dreams, sweet Kate.”

Book Review: My Perfect Mistress by Carly Quinn

MistressMy Perfect Mistress (An Erotic Short Story) is Carly Quinn’s debut novelette about a young woman named Zoe.  Between her divorce, the death of a parent, and the quick remarriage of the surviving parent, she’s having a heck of a tough year and she needs to blow off some steam.  When her best friend suggests she go online and explore some alternative-lifestyle websites, she figures she’s got nothing to lose if she’s just looking, right?

Well, kinda.

When she sets out to look for a Dom of her own to teach her the ropes, what she finds is someone she never expects – the perfect man who’s looking for a Mistress.  What follows are their online exchanges, from tentative hello’s and even a bit of storytelling on her end, though what follows next is for you to find out, and I hope you do.

What surprised me first about My Perfect Mistress – right off the bat – is the cover.  It’s not your usual waif-like figured woman and her hunky man.  She’s a BBW and damn proud of it, too – which is a good thing and something I’d like to see more of.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Buy on Amazon

Play Review: Slowgirl

 

1375916416_SlowgirlThere’s something about watching two actors onstage with minimal set design that makes one sit up and listen – really listen to what they are saying, as layers upon layers of mistakes and regrets are peeled one after another off a broken man’s back by his brash 17-year old niece. In my case, at least, it also made me realize just how much I have missed watching such riveting performances and just how much I love them.

Slowgirl is a 2-actor play that’s set in the Costa Rican jungle, where parrot calls, cricket songs and the scratching of the iguanas upon the tin roof are broken by the unabashed words of a 17-year old to an uncle she hasn’t seen since she was seven  years old.  When the play opens, we see Sterling, played by William Petersen (Gil Grissom of CSI) fixing a stack of books  in his little casa set in the Costa Rican jungle.  There really isn’t much to do here, and we see that as Sterling picks out a book to read, settles carefully into his hammock and reads till he falls asleep.  I bet that’s how his life is like every day – when Sunday just seems like a Monday and Monday seems like a Tuesday, and so on…

When Rae Gray’s Becky arrives, she startles her uncle awake and from here on, you see that this girl is a motormouth – go, go, go with her mouth, and now and then, she’ll even throw in a word or two that jars you back to reality and makes you wonder if 17-year old kids really do talk like this (they do).  In my case and at least for my companion, it was always a sexually related word, and maybe it was hearing it being spoken from a 17-year old character that made some people in the audience flinch a little, but I found it refreshing to hear it uttered in a play – plus it proved to be a ‘tell’ for her vulnerability (at least to me).

Rae-Gray-and-William-Petersen-in-Slowgirl-Steppenwolf-Theatre

Becky, we find out, has been sent to Costa Rica by her mother, Sterling’s sister, even though she really shouldn’t be out of the country because of a harrowing accident that’s currently under investigation for.  With her own father unable to look at her at the dinner table and a mother used to avoiding conflicts by simply, well, avoiding them, Becky now is in the hands of her uncle who has, it seems, fled the United States after his own set of seemingly-unfortunate events, and who has been living in the Costa Rican jungle for the last ten years, building trails and walking his hill-top labyrinth when he’s not reading books while swinging on his hammock.

Throughout the play, we see the characters slowly go through their individual journeys – though the journey that really matters here is Sterling’s.  For while Becky’s journey has just begun, Sterling seems to have surrendered to the notion that he will probably die in this tropical paradise, away from the only family he has, and even friends – by choice.  But is that a life worth living really, when everything else outside of you has just about gone to hell in a hand basket – where a young girl who has waited for him to come through with an empty promise seven years earlier is in dire need of a friend, and an ally?

Written by Greg Pierce, nephew of David Hyde Pierce, and directed by Randall Arney, Slowgirl stars William Petersen and Rae Gray, and is currently playing at the Geffen Playhouse till April 27.

Putting Slowgirl together with William Petersen and Rae Gray