Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review: THE SIREN by Tiffany Reisz

The Siren
by Tiffany Reisz
Publisher: Harlequin/Mira
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Series: The Original Sinners, #1
Source: NetGalley

Notorious Nora Sutherlin is famous for her delicious works of erotica, each one more popular with readers than the last. But her latest manuscript is different—more serious, more personal—and she's sure it'll be her breakout book...if it ever sees the light of day.

Zachary Easton holds Nora's fate in his well-manicured hands. The demanding British editor agrees to handle the book on one condition: he wants complete control. Nora must rewrite the entire novel to his exacting standards—in six weeks—or it's no deal.

Nora's grueling writing sessions with Zach are draining…and shockingly arousing. And a dangerous former lover has her wondering which is more torturous—staying away from him...or returning to his bed?

Nora thought she knew everything about being pushed to your limits. But in a world where passion is pain, nothing is ever that simple.

The Siren is the first book in The Original Sinners series. It’s a continuation of Nora’s (Eleanor) story from, Seven Day Loan. I liked Nora from that first story of her as a young submissive woman loaned out to her Master’s friend. But in The Siren ten years have passed and Eleanor has left her Dominant lover and is a successful author of erotica. She is no longer a submissive but has become one of the top Dominants of New York’s underground BDSM scene. 

Her current work in progress is a more personal book that she is hoping will break her out into the mainstream. She is to work with Zach Easton, a British editor who is known to be difficult and hardnosed. At first he balks at working with her but after two face to face meeting with Nora, he’s all in. He agrees to give her six weeks to re-write her book to his exacting standards. Zach has his own demons. He struggles to put a broken marriage behind him while trying to look forward to a new job in Los Angeles. Through the course of writing and editing the new book and a brief affair, Nora may help Zach make his way back to his estranged wife. 

Nora Sutherland is a complex character. She’s a woman who is comfortable in her skin and does whatever it takes to get what she wants. I loved her ballsy take-charge attitude. And her sex scenes with several different characters were lush and decadent. I definitely have a huge girl crush on Mistress Nora. 
“Zach this isn’t a game, you know. I don’t just write it. I live it. I’m a Domme, a female Dominant. There aren’t a lot of us around. Most Dominants are men. Technically I’m a Switch since I can top and bottom, but if I show up on your doorstep, get ready to say ouch. I’m not good at it-I’m amazing at it. So good at it that I’m as famous down here for my skills with a whip as I am in the straight world for my skills with a pen.”  ~ Nora
 The Siren is the first book in a planned series. I suspect that some of the secondary characters in this book will eventually get their own stories. Wesley Railey is Nora’s nineteen year old intern. It’s rumored that he is her live in lover. Their relationship is complicated and endearing. 

Griffin Fiske is a wild and sarcastic kinkster who we meet at the 8th Circle kink club. I think he will prove to be a fun and entertaining character. 

Kingsley Edge is the figurehead and king of New York’s underground kink scene. He helps Nora navigate her life after she breaks ties with her Dominant. Kingsley trains her in the art of domination and helps her to become the top Domme. He’s mysterious and sexy and I am looking forward to his story. 

Then there’s the infamous and omniscient Søren. He’s known Nora since she was a teenager and groomed her to be his submissive. He’s the ultimate sadist and the top Dominant within the kink community. His profession is a shocking contrast to his unflinching love of kink.  While I enjoyed Nora’s interactions with Zach and the rest of the characters, I got really excited when Søren entered the story. I love a big bad sadist. Søren and Nora’s love affair is epic and I can’t wait to read more about it. 

Tiffany Reisz has written an incredible story with clever, witty dialogue and multi-faceted characters. With the main characters being an author and an editor, the reader gets a fantastic bird’s eye view into the creative and analytical processes of creating a novel. The plot is intricate and engaging and I enjoyed everything about it.  The eroticism in this book is really intense but if you like your stories complex, dark and dirty then you will not be disappointed with The Siren.
4.5 Dragons

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway: MELT INTO YOU by Roni Loren

Hi Everyone. Please help me welcome Roni Loren back to AsianCocoa's Secret Garden today! Roni is here to talk about her latest novel Melt Into You.

I’m a Reunited Lovers Story Junkie

So apparently I’m a sucker for a reunited lovers romance. I didn’t plan on writing two reunion stories back to back, but I can’t seem to resist the layers of emotion that come with having history with someone. In CRASH INTO YOU, the reunion was a little more straightforward. The hero and heroine had dated in college, something pulled them apart, and then they run into each other ten years later--a very unwelcome surprise for my heroine.

However, in MELT INTO YOU, the situation was more complicated, and the reunion was even more of a shock for my dear hero. The previous relationship was brief, but very complex (for reasons I can’t reveal because it would be a spoiler), and happened when they were teens. And they didn’t “break up”. Evan, the heroine, ran away. Jace had no idea where she disappeared to or if she was even alive. So when he stumbles upon her twelve years later and she’s all grown up, it’s the shock of his life.

I loved being able to write that reunion--the surprise, the mixed feelings, the hurt and anger, the guilt Jace has felt all those years believing that he was the reason she ran. And I tried to write this book without showing the previous relationship on the page. After all, prologues and flashbacks are often frowned upon in books and some readers skip them. However, I couldn’t get the scene out of my head. So after getting about halfway through the book, I went back and wrote about the night Evan ran away. And the prologue was born. It turned out to be my favorite chapter of the book. So I hope readers don’t assume it’s a pointless prologue and skip it! lol

And if you’d like a little sneak peek of said prologue and a glimpse into Evan and Jace’s previous relationship, here you go:


Twelve Years Ago

Most of the time temptation climbs into your lap and straddles you, demands you deal with it immediately. Give in or deprive yourself. Choose your adventure.

Jace’s general stance: deprivation was overrated.

But he’d never faced this kind of temptation. The kind that seeped into your skin so slowly you didn’t even notice until you were soaked with it, saturated. To the point that every thought, every breath seemed to be laced with the desire for that thing you shouldn’t have.

And right now that thing was nibbling flecks of purple polish off her fingernails.

Jace shifted on the rec room couch, pretending to look for the remote control, even though he could feel the damn thing digging into his hip. He had to do something to get her calves off his lap. Otherwise, she was going to feel exactly how much he hadn’t been concentrating on the horror movie. Or she’d assume he’d gotten the monster hard-on watching the teens get butchered on the screen. Though, thinking he got off on blood and guts might be preferable to the real reason he was sporting wood.

She tucked her legs to her chest and set her chin on her knees, staring at him with eyes so pale blue, they looked like silver dimes in the flicker of the television. Thunder rumbled outside and her gaze darted to the window behind him. Wary. “Maybe we should’ve watched that Jim Carrey movie instead.”

He hit Stop on the VCR, cutting off the eerie music to the closing credits, and resisted the urge to scoot closer to her, to curl around her lithe body and slay her fears like the dude in the movie had done for the heroine. Well, up until the guy’s head was lopped off. That he could skip. “See, I warned you it would freak you out. I shouldn’t have even let you watch it. It’s rated R. Too old for you.”

She snorted and shoved his thigh with her foot. “Said the nineteen-year-old who just finished his third beer.”

He glanced at the empty bottles on the side table. Yeah, he was batting a thousand on the responsible adult thing tonight. “I’m in college. Beer is part of homework.”

“Whatever. I’ll be rated-R approved in three months anyway.” She grabbed her Coke off the coffee table and sipped, drawing his attention down to her heart-shaped lips and the way they drew the liquid slowly from the bottle. “Hell, I’ll be porn approved.”

Fuck. That’s the last image she needed to paint on his brain. “No, you won’t. Gotta be eighteen for that.”

Lightning reflected off the silver ring in her arched eyebrow. “You would know, I’m sure.”

“I’m a guy.” Which should be enough of an explanation. “And don’t you dare watch any of that shit until you’re like thirty.”

“Oh, please. I’m not that innocent, Jace,” she said, yawning and setting down her drink. She rubbed her eyes with the heels of her hands, smudging her heavy kohl eyeliner until she looked like some gothic angel.
Alright, can’t go any further without spoiling it for you. ;) 

So how do you feel about reunited lover stories? Do you skip prologues?

Melt Into You
by Roni Loren
Publisher: Berkley Heat
Release Date: July 2, 2012

Her first love has returned, and he's brought a friend... 

After running away from home and the boy who broke her heart, Evan Kennedy has kick-started the perfect new life with her celebrity fiancé. So what if said fiancé prefers guys? She knew the deal when they got engaged. And with her ticket to The Ranch, an exclusive resort where any fantasy can be satisfied, she can find someone to fulfill her less-than-traditional desires on the side.

She just never expected that man to be Jace Austin, her old heart-breaker—all grown up, hard-bodied, and holding out a collar. She knows it’s a world-class bad idea—especially since Jace has brought along his buddy Andre, who’s every bit as irresistible. But if they can stick to the no-strings rules, so can she.

Too bad Jace has never been so good with rules. Evan is convinced “forever” is a word used only in greeting cards, but Jace and Andre have one last fantasy of hers left to fulfill. It’s time to go big or go home. And neither man has ever been a fan of going home.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. Though she’ll forever be a New Orleans girl at heart, she now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. If she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you can find her reading, watching reality television, or indulging in her unhealthy addiction to rockstars, er, rock concerts. Yeah, that's it. She is the author of The Loving on the Edge series from Berkley Heat.

Giveaway Time

Roni will award an eBook copy of "Still Into You" to one randomly drawn commenter at every tour stop.

She will also award a Book Grab Bag - Autographed copy of CRASH INTO YOU along with these books: Raziel by Kristina Douglas, Blood Stains by Sharon Sala, The Summer Garden by Paullina Simons, and Deadly Valentine by Justine Davis and Cindy Dees to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US/Canada only). 

To Enter:
Answer Roni's question from the post or leave a comment or question for her and include your email address. Good luck!
Be sure to visit the other blogs on this wonderful tour. Click on the tour banner below for a list of participating blogs.

Click here to see Roni Loren’s  Guest Post about The Ranch.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway with Author Tori St. Claire

Hi Everyone. Please help me welcome Tori St.Claire  to AsianCocoa's Secret Garden today. Thanks for stopping by today, Tori!

Thank you so much for hosting me today – I’m thrilled to be back at Asian Cocoa’s Secret Garden, discussing my newest release, Lie to Me

When Spies Make Errors

In keeping with our July festivities, I want to share a tidbit – did you know that the American Revolution would have never succeeded without espionage and the use of spies?

It’s true.  The nature of the Colonies, with everyone speaking one language, made it easy for folks to pretend loyalty to one side or the other.  Plus, women were considered too unintelligent to be of concern, and when the British housed servicemen in Revolutionary homes, the women listened to conversations and reported to Revolutionary leaders. 

So we, as a country, have been employing spies for our greater good since our inception.  And as we all know, once in a while, things go wrong.  We wouldn’t know what we do now about our early spies if those Revolutionary spies hadn’t made errors and gotten caught.

I figure that every now and then, “wrong” translates to having to “undo” what we’ve “done” (or not done, officially, as the case may be).  How is that handled?  That was the question I pondered when I originally began to think about Lie to Me.  What if, in the course of standard operations, the Black Opals made a mistake and had to undo that wrong?

A few hours later, I had Alexei, who’d kidnapped the wrong girl.  Now, when he’s finally escaped the nightmare of the job he despised, he must return to Dubai and reclaim a woman he’s wronged.  Only when he leaves… he has no idea he’s going after the only woman who ever mattered to him.

What a glorious mess for an author to have free-reign with!  Did I mention the same woman has secrets of her own, not the least of which is that someone wants her dead?  Yes, yes, a grand, perfect pile of muck to throw an already damaged hero into.  Add in the chemistry between the pair, the danger that’s never far away, and it’s the perfect mix for fireworks of an entirely different kind.

I’ll share a peek at Lie to Me, but I’d love to hear your thoughts:  If you were living in Revolutionary times, and you had British officials in your home, what would you do to secure our independence?  (And yes, slipping arsenic into their drinks is a totally okay answer!)

I’ll go first:  I would do everything possible to portray my home as possessed by evil spirits.  It might not accomplish much, but stringing their underclothes in the front lawn, in the middle of the night would create a good deal of personal enjoyment.  I can picture the British’s expressions when their undergarments are blowing in the breeze!  Because, you know, as a woman I’d be too dumb to think of that.  Worst case scenario I spend my days amused.  Best case, I drive them from my home.

Lie to Me
by Tori St.Claire
Publisher: Berkly Heat
Release Date: July 3, 2012

A man of action…

After helping to break up a Russian human trafficking ring as part of the CIA’s elite Black Opal team, Alexei Nikanova’s newest assignment is to rescue one of the stolen women and return her to her father. When he arrives in Dubai, he discovers his target is Sasha Zablosky—a woman he knows all too well, and who has haunted him ever since their unforgettable time together in Moscow, two and a half years earlier. But he finds Sasha reluctant to leave her sheikh, the only true friend she’s ever known. Only Alexei can’t give her a choice.

A woman of deception…

With their yearning roused by intrigue, Alexei and Sasha can no longer resist temptation, and spend night after night in forbidden pleasure. Soon Alexei finds himself falling for her, even as he battles a shadowy menace to protect her. But Sasha is no innocent. She has a past darker than she could ever admit, one that Alexei could never forgive. And it is about to explode into her life once more. As the lies they tell themselves—and each other—pull them deeper into a perilous desire, what began as simple passion becomes a love certain to destroy them and end the lives of countless innocents.


Opening his eyes, he smoothed a hand down her long silken hair. “You should get some sleep.”

“It’s morning. The sun’s peeking up.”

Carefully avoiding the mirror, he shifted his gaze to the window, noting the early violet hue in the sky. “I guess it is.” Which meant they wouldn’t be going anywhere until tomorrow morning. He’d put her through enough for one night. Her father could live another day without her. Particularly since he knew she was safe at least.

As he nuzzled her hair once more, tiny wisps getting caught on his unshaven chin, all the places they connected soaked into his awareness. His pulse kicked up a notch. Against his thigh, his cock stirred.

Damn. What was the matter with him? It was like some animal had invaded his body. Sure, the sex was mind-blowing, but this wasn’t normal. Certainly not for him.

His cock was going to have to wait. He knew from experience Sasha could go all night. But those amazing evenings hadn’t included bullets and death. She might be strong, yet he couldn’t ask her to endure more.

Easing out of her embrace, he wrapped an arm around her shoulder and guided her to the door. “You still need sleep.”

All five and a half feet of her tensed like stone. Bracing against his steering efforts, she shook her head. “I don’t want to sleep, Alexei.”

In her adamant whisper, he heard the fear he had once known so intimately. Dreams had a way of making all the realities unavoidable.

Alexei stopped urging her toward the door and turned to catch her chin in his hand. He tipped her face to his. A dozen reassurances floated through his mind. What made it off his tongue shocked him. “Why don’t you hate me?”

Author Bio - 

National Bestselling author Tori St. Claire grew up writing. Hobby quickly turned into passion, and when she discovered the world of romance as a teen, poems and short stories gave way to full length novels with sexy heroes and heroines waiting to be swept off their feet. She wrote her first romance novel at seventeen.

While that manuscript gathered dust-bunnies beneath the bed, she went on to establish herself as a contemporary, historical, and paranormal author under the pen name, Claire Ashgrove. Her writing, however, skirted a fine line between hot and steamy, and motivated by authors she admired, she pushed her boundaries and made the leap into erotica, using the darker side of human nature and on-the-edge suspense to drive grittier, sexier, stories.

Her erotic romantic suspense novels are searingly sensual experiences that unite passion with true emotion, and the all-consuming tie that binds -- love.

Tori can be found at:


Tori will be giving away a $25 Gift card to one randomly drawn commenter during the month of July. Two additional commenters  will receive a basket of swag. The more comments you leave the better your chances of winning. Complete tour dates can be found here.

To Enter:
Answer Tori's question from the post or leave a comment or question for her and include your email address. Good luck.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway: BY ROYAL COMMAND by Laura Navarre

Sympathy for the Devil:  Crafting a Delectable Villain
By Laura Navarre

Good morning, readers!  I was delighted when Monique offered me this chance to chat about a subject I ADORE but, as a romance author, am rarely asked about:  how to craft a believable and compelling villain.  As a writer of dark medieval and Renaissance romance, I’ve always had a sneaking sympathy for the Devil (i.e., the villain) in fiction.  That’s why I wove the tapestry of my medieval romance, By Royal Command (Harlequin/Carina, July 2012), around a deliciously complex villain.  He was a real historical figure in Anglo-Saxon England whose actual descendent, incredibly, is a personal friend of mine.  And I am proud to say my villain does not twirl his moustache.

Set on the turbulent shores of Anglo-Saxon England during the Viking conquest, By Royal Command is the story of a daughter of royalty who must choose between two warring brothers to save the English throne.  Lady Katrin of Courtenay believes she murdered her cruel husband when she prayed for his death, but she doesn’t mourn him.  Struggling to defend her northern lands, she’s proud and courageous as any man.  Determined never to remarry, she believes manipulation and deceit are a woman’s only true weapons.  But they won’t be enough to save her from her vengeful uncle:  Ethelred, the King of England.  Katrin’s marriage to a powerful ally is the cornerstone of his scheme to defeat the Viking invasion and save the English throne.

Katrin’s uncle, King Ethelred of Wessex, was a real historical figure who ruled England until he was overthrown by the marauding Sweyn Forkbeard in 1013.  Ethelred assumed the English throne at the tender age of thirteen after murdering his brother, which cast a shadow over his reign.  The details I provide about Ethelred and his family are mostly true, although his dark brilliance and sadistic tendencies in the story are my own invention.  He began paying the Danegeld, an annual tribute to buy off the raiding Vikings, in 991. Ethelred’s dilemma was immortalized by Rudyard Kipling, who famously warned, “If once you have paid him the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane.”

When Katrin makes the Devil’s bargain with Ethelred and agrees to an arranged marriage to save the man she loves, Ethelred becomes Katrin’s dark ally—invested in her success for his own sinister motives.  And I could have kissed the Goodreads reviewer who read By Royal Command and spoke admiringly of Ethelred as a criminal mastermind.  This is a villain worth his salt.

What are my secrets for crafting a villain both the hero and the reader can respect?   Personally, I need to be fascinated—even a little in love—with the devils in my fiction.  Here’s how I make that happen.
1.     1. Villains are people too.  I make my villains human, giving each one a backstory that’s developed as fully as my hero’s story.  I know all the major milestones of my villain’s childhood, the pivotal catalysts that make him the villain he is.  I give him strengths as well as weaknesses, laudable qualities as well as flaws, human vulnerabilities as well as advantages.  Incidentally, the smarter and stronger the villain, the stronger the hero must be in order to overcome him.  In other words, a good villain makes for a good hero.

    2. Every villain is the hero of his own story.  When you’ve made your villain a real person, it becomes much easier to endow him with strong and believable motivation for his dark deeds.  In the immortal words of screenwriter Robert McKee, no villain should ever twirl his moustache.  Although we may not agree with his values, every villain acts for reasons that seem laudable to him.  Bear in mind that, for most villains—unless they’re insane or invading aliens—random destruction does not make a compelling goal. 

3.    3. Make the villain the hero’s dark mirror.  Here I dip into material from the workshop I teach on “Sympathy for the Devil:  Dark Heroes in Popular Fiction.”  Many of the best, most fascinating heroes reveal unsettling similarities at some level with the villain.  Hero and villain may have common backgrounds, a similar personality trait or passion (in love with the same woman?), or a shared history.  Whereas the hero’s response to these stimuli is to behave heroically, the villain follows a darker path.  Thus, the villain becomes the hero’s dark mirror.  In these cases, the villain’s role is transformative, and his opposition makes possible the dark hero’s redemption.

If you’d like to read more about my villain the King in By Royal Command, my publisher has released an exclusive extended excerpt (the first five chapters!) free for a limited time.  You can find the goods here at http://t.co/T4qZ6vUY.  

I love hearing from readers!  Let’s keep in touch:
Happy reading!

By Royal Command
by Laura Navarre
Publisher: Harlequin/Carina Press
Release Date: July 2, 2012

Two brothers. One woman. Three hearts at war.

Katrin of Courtenay's husband is dead-and she doesn't mourn him. He was cruel and controlling, and she doesn't need a husband to hold her northern keep. But her vengeful uncle, the King of England, has other ideas: intent on marrying her off, he's ordered his Viking-bred warrior to return her to court.
On the journey, the Viking captures her interest, and for the first time Katrin understands passion. But her guard is honor-bound to deliver her to the king, and so it is settled-she must wed the mysterious Rafael le Senay, the Baron of Belmaine.

A forced marriage to a stranger slowly becomes something more, and Katrin realizes she is in love with Rafael. But with the shadow of her former lover hanging over her, and Rafael's powerful brother making dangerous plans, can Katrin negotiate the delicate balance between survival and happiness?

Read an Excerpt of By Royal Command:

Author Bio for Laura Navarre

In her other life, Laura Navarre is a diplomat who’s lived in Russia and works on weapons of mass destruction issues. In the line of duty, she’s been trapped in an elevator in a nuclear power plant and has stalked the corridors of facilities churning out nerve agent and other apocalyptic weapons. In this capacity, she meets many of the world’s most dangerous men. 

Inspired by the sinister realities of her real life, Laura writes dark medieval and Renaissance romance with a dash of political intrigue. A member of Romance Writers of America’s Published Author Network (PAN) and a 2009 Golden Heart finalist, she has won the Emily Award for Excellence, the First Coast Romance Writers Beacon Award, the Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award, the Golden Pen, the Duel on the Delta, Hearts through History’s Romance through the Ages, and other awards. 

Previously published with Samhain and Dorchester, Laura’s newest releases are her epic medieval romance By Royal Command (Harlequin/Carina, July 2012) and her sexy romantic intrigue The Russian Seduction (Affluent Press, August 2012, as Nikki Navarre).  She teaches writing workshops on “Sympathy for the Devil: Dark Heroes in Popular Fiction.”

Laura holds an M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine.  Living in Seattle with her screenwriter fiance and two Siberian cats, she divides her time between her writing career and other adventures for U.S. government clients.

Connect with Laura here at:

Giveaway Details:

Laura is giving away one $25 electronic gift card to either Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble to one randomly drawn commenter from the tour.  

Please leave a comment along with your broken up email addy. The contest is open the duration of the tour from June 18 – July 2, 2012. The more chances a person follows and comments on the tour, the greater their chances of winning. 

Good Luck! 

Be sure to visit the other blogs on this tour. Click on the tour button below for a list of participating blogs. Good luck and thanks for stopping by.

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