Monday, April 14, 2014

Rec'd romance: 'Woman in Chains,' 'Nashville Trio,' 'Life After'

by Michelle Monko)

(Photo: Phaze Books)

Join me every week as I share a few shout-outs on romance author goings-on, related events and recommended reads.

Woman in Chains by Bridget Midway

What it's about (courtesy of Phaze Publishing):

Former BDSM Dom, Dakota "Dak" Ricci is a part of a BDSM group called S.A.F.E., which means Security Away From Extremists. The group concentrates on saving abused slaves and submissives from their Doms and Dommes. After an emotional save, he decides that that's it. However, his friend and fellow Dom has another plan for him. He wants Dak to do one last save.

Brea Oliphant pushes her Dom to the limit to get the abuse she thinks she deserves. When a Domme sees what she perceives as abuse during a BDSM luncheon, she contacts S.A.F.E. to help this submissive.

Dak decides to help her when he finds out that this submissive is with the Dom who his former submissive goes to after leaving him. He's going to make this save be about revenge.

As soon as Brea and Dak get together, they find that they help each other more than they thought. And the sexual tension between them is so palpable that they both rethink their BDSM roles. But when the truth about Dak's involvement in her save and Brea's past comes to light, will their connection be enough to keep them bound together?

Why you should read it: Woman in Chains by Bridget Midway is an erotic romance that has the fully developed story and emotional impact of a women's fiction story. I am never disappointed with Midway's approach to storytelling about the BDSM lifestyle. She artfully draws the reader in to be a voyeur or to slip into the skin of the characters. This technique successfully encourages all judgment to be left on the wayside.

With great plotting, there are twists and turns for a story that doesn't tout the suspense elements. But it's that perfect sense of timing as secrets are revealed, whether voluntary or involuntary, that drives the page-turning experience. The vivid and Technicolor BDSM scenes encourage the reader to linger, blush, and keep that cool drink of water at hand.

(Photo: Joy Daniels)

Nashville Trio by Joy Daniels

What it's about (blurb from author):

After years of hard work country music duo Sweet Talk is on the verge of success. Singer Ashley Ford swore off the romantic entanglements that cost her mother her musical career, but her playing has fallen flat. She needs a spark.

Co-singer Rob usually find his pleasure with men, but when Ashley runs back to the arms of her ex lover Ty, he realizes that he's no longer content being only a friend.

Pride kept Ty from pursing Ashley to Nashville. When Ashley returns to his bed, Ty vows not to give her up again, even if it means sharing her with a man he finds aggravating – and surprisingly attractive.

When secrets and ambition seem poised to destroy her chance to be a star, Ashley must decide if she's willing to risk it all for a Nashville Trio.

Why you should read it: Joy Daniels writes an intertwining journey of three characters who are friends, ex-lovers, and best friends. Heavy with emotional pulls and angst, this erotic romance is the perfect platform for this interesting trio. The two men and woman work to reconcile their needs, with their wants, and with achieving ultimate satisfaction.

The story works that much more with its country charm and cozy family and friends scenes. Daniels successfully tackles the emotional and erotic elements around these three using passion as the motivating factor. There's passion for music. Passion to move forward with life. Passion to find and lay claim to personal/sexual identity. Passion for two, not one, partners in life. Enjoyable and sexy read.

(Photo by KeithWalkerBooks)

Life After by Keith Thomas Walker

What it's about (courtesy of author):

Donna's marriage seems perfect. An unexpected event sends her reeling - even more so when a pregnant mistress steps forward. Marcel survives a divorce, but there's no solace when he loses his only child. Love has caused Donna and Marcel nothing but pain, but it may be the only thing powerful enough to heal their broken hearts.

Why you should read it: Picking up the pieces after a traumatic experience isn't easy. You don't have to necessarily experience the sense of loss and betrayal to understand the depth of despair. And especially when you have Keith Thomas Walker expertly weaving such a tale that takes hold from the first chapter and doesn't let go even after the reading experience is over.

Relatable characters, relatable circumstances are Walker's strengths. He doesn't cheat the reader out of fully understanding and empathizing with every rise and fall and rise of these people. Wonderfully flawed, but heroic when necessary is the beat that this cast marches to. The high-octane drama comes packing with a powerful pull to add this to the keeper shelf. Definite book club recommended read.


Through the next few months until RWA's award ceremony in July, I will introduce you to several Golden Heart finalists from Romance Writers of America's contest for unpublished writers.

Pintip Dunn, 2014 Golden Heart finalist.(Photo: Pintip Dunn)

Pintip Dunn is a double finalist this year in the YA category for Carlie in Crisis and the paranormal category for Fit to Die. She finaled in 2012 in the YA category for Forget Tomorrow.

Michelle: What are three books on your keeper shelf? What elements make them so?

Pintip: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I can honestly say this novel changed my life. It introduced me to the Young Adult genre, which I hardly knew existed, capturing my attention and refusing to let go. To me, this is about as perfect as a book can get, from the inciting incident to the three-act structure to the fascinating world to the sympathetic but brave heroine. If anyone can read the first chapter and then stop, I'd be shocked.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer. I picked up this novel at the airport, hoping for nothing more than a few hours of entertainment. Instead, I was enthralled from the first page and could not put this book down until I finished it more than 800 pages later. I've never read a heroine quite like Wanderer, an alien who takes over the minds of humans. She is at once brave, loving, compassionate ... and the enemy. I started crying around page 200 and didn't stop until the book ended — not because the story is sad, but because Wanderer moved me so much. This book is the epitome of an intriguing science-fiction tale with a whole lot of heart.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I love beautiful writing, the kind of writing where you can linger over the words and roll them around your mouth and enjoy a novel from sentence to sentence. Put this kind of writing into a surprising and suspenseful plot, with tight, fast pacing, and you've got Gone Girl. The characters in this novel aren't particularly admirable; the ending is more shocking than satisfying. And yet, the story is so clever, so intensely human, I adored every last word.

Michelle: What is it about paranormal and Young Adult subgenres (and books) that excite your reading appetite?

Pintip: I love the Young Adult genre because of the sense of possibility. These novels are about teenagers discovering who they are — and often, the person they turn out to be is much stronger, braver, more talented, and more capable than they ever dreamed possible. I think the potential inherent in all of us, young adults and beyond, is limitless. We only need to tackle the obstacles life throws our way fearlessly, the way many YA protagonists do.

The paranormal subgenre appeals to me because it is an elaborate game of "what if." What if teenagers had to fight to their death in a televised arena? What if an alien who took over a human mind fell in love with the host body's boyfriend? In a compelling made-up world, the stakes are sometimes higher than in a contemporary background. But with these fantastical settings come decisions that get at the very heart of humanity. I love reading novels that blend these two elements.

(Photo: Putnam Juvenille)

Michelle: What book or series in 2013 and this year make you want to tell everyone, "Get it now and read." Why?

Pintip: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. Remember all the things I loved about my keeper books? Well, this novel has them all. Beautiful writing, suspenseful plot, thoughtful structure, horrific world, and painfully real characters. This book took my breath away — and that only happens about once a year. If you like Young Adult or science fiction or just a really good story, go read this book now!

Thank you, Pintip. Good luck with your many accomplishments.

Pintip lives with her husband and children in Maryland and blogs at Waterworld Mermaids, Honestly YA and DoomsDaisies.

Michelle Monkou celebrates her Evernight urban fantasy digital release Into the Pride , out now. Her website is You can also connect with her on Facebook.