My 2014 Reading List

ShadesOfBlueBanner-430x1024So, I missed my reading goal for 2013. By 73 books. I’m a little embarrassed to call myself a reader. This year, I’m taking a slightly different approach. I’ve created a collection on my Kindle, and when I find a book that interests me, I’m going to add it to the “2014” folder.

God only knows when the next Protectors novel is coming out, so I will be getting my Hildie McQueen fix from her Shades of Blue Trilogy, which appears to have four stories. (More the merrier, I say.)

Also on the list is this six-pack of paranormal romances that I got on sale for $2.99 on Black Friday!

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AND Kate Evangelista’s Savor left me seriously sad that the sequel isn’t already available. I’ll be consoling myself with these two pretties when I get through the other ten mentioned above.

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ARC Review: Desperate Possession (Protectors #3), by Hildie McQueen

DesperatePossession-400-600Crescent Moon Press
Release Date: January 1, 2014
Paranormal Romance

Fallon Trent is going to die. Either the Protectors will kill him or he will do the honors himself. Either way, the powerful demon in him will not be allowed to flourish. After living so long, why does the love of his life have to enter his life at the same time as possession.

As a human demon slayer, Tonia Mohr’s sole purpose is revenge. The more demons she kills the better – and she will continue finding the one that killed her husband. But will she be able to keep her oath when the man she loves becomes more demon than not.


In Hildie McQueen’s Atlanta, there are Protectors and demons. Three castes of the latter, in fact, walking around looking very human, and some are up to no good.
The third Protector novel focuses on the plight of Lord Fallon Trent, a British noble who, like his brothers-in-arms, acquired immortality in his 20s, along with nightmares and the physique of a Greek statue. A privileged young man in prior to his change, Fallon has long had a way with women, so a lover’s bed is a good place to pick up where “Desperate Surrender” left off.

Tonia Muhr–a US Marshal by day, demon slayer by night—begrudges the clothing that hides Fallon’s body from her as he dresses to leave her apartment. She doesn’t know much about him. His name. He’s British. He’s filthy rich. And if sexual talent were converted to dollars, his actual bank account would pale by comparison. He’s that freaking great at it. At the same time, he wants her to stop looking for the kind of trouble that introduced them, and with a murdered husband in the ground, walking away from the demon world is something she won’t do.

Fallon’s recent performances in bed aren’t entirely his doing. A master demon has been slowly preparing him for possession over the course of weeks. The symptoms of this process are a desire to kill everyone around him, which he fights, and a voracious appetite for sex, which he indulges with a very willing Tonia.

In between romps, Fallon patrols the streets and looks for the demon that’s marked his claim on him, where his paths continue to cross paths with Tonia’s.

Tonia and Fallon’s do-si-do with demons becomes a tango when he finds her bleeding and near death on her bathroom floor. Fellow Protector, Roderick Cronan saves her life the same way he once saved his own wife; he infuses her with the only blood available…Fallon’s. It was once a rare thing, but there are now three mated protectors in Atlanta. What’s their exasperated boss Julian to do with the fourth soldier to disobey his very clear orders?

First, he throws the Protector’s rule book at the lone remaining single man on the team with a stern command to, “Read it.” Then, he insists Fallon join with Tonia in the same ancient Roman ceremony that joined Roderick, Cynden, and Kieran, to their respective wives. This takes place on the spot, without input from Tonia, and it doesn’t go over well at all.

What was once a glorious casual sex relationship becomes marriage overnight, complete with competing expectations, mistakes, and bruised egos. The sex between them is passionate, almost animal, and possibly driven more by Fallon’s demon’s lust than his own. It doesn’t care much if it fills the growing rift between Tonia and Fallon, or pushes it open wider, as long as it gets fed.

Desperate Betrayal, the first book in this series, was an exercise in trust and forgiveness between soul mates. Book two, Desperate Surrender followed man overcoming deep-seeded emotional scarring to reluctantly grasp happiness and hold onto it for dear life. In the third, Desperate Possession, the battle against demons is closer to home than ever, and deeply personal.

The Protectors novels are among my very favorite in the Paranormal Romance genre. The chemistry between characters is at times amusing, heartwarming, and maddening. The settings are rich, the fights are explosive, and the sex scenes are scorching. With incubus, Sebastian, taking on a larger role, the introduction of two very interesting new characters, it is clear that Ms. McQueen is not done in Atlanta. So, I will be anxiously awaiting the next novel, hoping (and crossing my fingers, and praying to gods I don’t believe in) that we’ll soon know Julian’s story. I mean, with a new master demon at the helm in Atlanta, it might be time for the Protector’s leader to pick a bedroom at Fallon Trent’s house.

I would recommend the Protector novels to fans of Paranormal Romance, Christine Ashworth’s Caine’s Brother’s novels, Lynn Rush’s Wasteland series, and SyFy Channel’s Lost Girl.

I was given an advance copy in return for my honest opinion.

My Red Star AwardAbout My Book Reviews

Liebster Award

So, a while back on a Six Sentence Sunday post, I mentioned a snag with the publication of January Black. Well, that snag may have been sorted out with the help of Melissa Robitille, a writer/freelance editor. (You can follow her on Twitter.) I’m all sorts of amazed by her, not least of all by the fact that she gave me an award. The Liebster Award. For blogging. Which, if it weren’t for SSS, I’d be totally failing at.

Liebster is an award bloggers give to introduce blogs you might not have found already that we think are completely awesome. Here’s how it works. You post the picture of the award to your blog:

Liebster Award

You give 11 random facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you. Then you think up 11 new questions and nominate 11 new blogs – and you can’t nominate the blogger who nominated you.

Eleven Random Facts About Wendy S. Russo

  1. I was a premie. I was born 8 weeks early in an air force hospital and spent 11 days in an incubator. As the story goes, there were three pre-term babies born that week at that hospital, but I was the only one who went home.
  2. I love sarcasm, but it’s sometimes lost on me.
  3. I’m fascinated by machinery. I once picked up a cam shaft from a friend’s dining table and said, “It’s so pretty.” Half-a-dozen people looked at me like I had two heads.
  4. It took me 2 1/2 years to read Umberto Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum,” the first time. The second read took 10 days. (The secret is accepting that most of the details are important to world, but not the plot.)
  5. My husband and I were THIS close to naming our son “Hiro Protagonist.” We thought his English teachers would get a kick out of it. But, Hiro Russo is hard to say.
  6. I can engage myself in a repetitive task for months on end. My boss doesn’t get it but seems to appreciate it.
  7. I don’t understand “cute shoes” or “cute bags.” My husband picks out my outfits because I’m that fashion impaired.
  8. I do get “mean cars,” though. I’m partial to American muscle cars, particularly ’60’s Camaros.
  9. I’m bad at math, but I rock at Geometry proofs…which I’ve found practically useless in my adult life. Go figure.
  10. My favorite way to eat mashed potatoes is fried.
  11. I can’t golf. At all.

Answers to Melissa’s Questions

  1. What motivates you to write when you don’t really feel like writing?
    Music. For example, NIN “The Hand that Feeds” invokes a pretty, slender girl in a muay thai-esque street fight. (That WIP was shelved.) Skid Row’s “Breakin’ Down” gave birth to a scene where a young boy is pleading with a father figure not to leave. (A scene from that WIP became January Black.)
  2. Do you prefer being alone, in a group of people you know, or anonymous in a crowd?
    I don’t like being the center of attention. I like being in small groups, or anonymous in crowds. And I do alright alone.
  3. Do you ‘people watch’, and if so what’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen other people do?
    I think the thing that grabs my attention is when people wear something that defies explanation. Like…who wears flesh colored spandex pants to the mall? Who wears sparkly letters across the seat of their yoga pants? I’m not a fashionista, or even qualified to judge most outfits, but there’s some surprising stuff out there.
  4. How many books (a rough estimate, don’t go count them) do you have in your house, and what kind of books are they (yes, eBooks count as books)?
    A few hundred, I guess.
  5. What are your hobbies?
    Baking, jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, gardening (none of which I’m particularly good at.)
  6. What are your three favorite songs?
    Queensryche “Someone Else”, Lee Ann Womack “I Hope You Dance”, and Tori Amos “Winter.”
  7. What’s the biggest, best, and shiniest dream you have for your writing career?
    I got published! Everything after January Black’s release is a bonus.
  8. If you could take someone’s place for a day (modern or in history), who would you be and why?
    I would like to be Joseph Smith on a particular afternoon in April 1820.
  9. If you could have a re-do of some point in your life, what would it be and what would you do or say differently?
    I am where I am today because of life as it’s been. I wouldn’t change a thing.
  10. Which family member has been most supportive of your writing and in what way?
    My husband. I respect his opinion so much, I’m almost too embarrassed to let him read anything. *facepalm*
  11. What part of the writing process (writing, editing, querying, submissions, etc.) is the hardest for you?
    Blurbs. OMG, I hate writing blurbs.

And My 11 Questions

  1. What is your oldest memory?
  2. What did you want to be when you grew up? (Assuming that you ever actually did.)
  3. What’s the image on your computer desktop?
  4. Do you exercise?
  5. Which actor is ‘James Bond’ to you?
  6. Who was your favorite teacher in high school and why?
  7. Do you prefer books, or ebooks?
  8. White walls? Or do you need color on your walls?
  9. What character do you think you are most like?
  10. Which character would you like to be more like?
  11. How long did it take you to put together this blog post?

For the Liebster Award, I am nominating:

Evolution Thursday: Hildie McQueen

Hildie McQueen writes Paranormal Romance, with a touch of Historical here and there. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, as well as Georgia Romance Writers and Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapters of RWA.

Visit her blog for a peek at her zany thoughts and you’ll also get a chance to meet some great author friends that post on Favorite Five Wednesdays!

For fun, she spends a lot of time with her girlfriends. Her wonderful hubby is her partner in crime for traveling. They love to jump in the car or sometimes his motorcycle and head to the mountains, the city or the beach.

Life is great!


What gave you the idea for the title “Desperate Betrayal?”

I am not quite sure, it mostly came from the fact that in each story Emma is in a ‘desperate’ position with little recourse other than to betray Cyn.

Do you recall the first scene you wrote?

Yes! It was the scene where Emma is watching Cyn fight against the demons, it’s such a vivid scene in my mind, I can actually see him battling.

Did you have a scene that you loved but ended up cutting?

There is a scene where Roderick is being held captive by the demons. He defends himself quite well even though he’s tied up. It’s a great scene. But it did not propel the story forward so the editor cut it.

I usually have an a-ha moment, where an insignificant detail becomes something really important. Did you have a moment like that? Will it spoil the plot to tell me what it was?

No it will not spoil it…it’s when Julian tells Cyn who Emma is to him. I wasn’t quite sure until I wrote that scene how I was going to bring them together.

Are you surprised where the story took you? Or if ended up where you planned, were you surprised how you got there?

I’m a total pantster, can’t wait to write to see what happens next, so every scene is a surprise to me most times!

What story idea is sitting in the class right now, raising his hand madly, begging you to call on him?

I had to quit writing Fallon’s story (Desperate Possession) and penned a short story for Sebastian, the Incubus in all of the Protector books. It’s not finished but I couldn’t move on until he shut up!

Oh, I really like Sebastian. I want to read that! Thanks for dropping by today, Hildie.

Thank you so much for having me here taking over your blog this week! It’s been so much fun.


Okay, lovely readers, don’t go yet. In celebration of the unannounced, completely accidental “Hildie McQueen Week” on my blog, sweet Hildie is giving away a $10 Starbucks giftcard AND three free copies of Desperate Choices for  commenters on this post! So, leave a comment, and then go check out the reviews for her work posted this week. I’ll even provide links:

Desperate Choices
Desperate Betrayal
Desperate Surrender 

Book Review: Desperate Surrender, by Hildie McQueen

Desperate Surrender, by Hildie McQueen
Crescent Moon Press, 2012

When Wendy O’Sullivan is charged with guarding the Key of Peace, she reunites with the Protector she’s dreamed of since the day he rescued her from a demon attack.

Betrayed by his wife, Kieran Fraser, hasn’t kissed, much less loved a woman in over three hundred years, his heart firmly encased behind thick walls. The fierce immortal is charged with protecting Wendy, but can he shield himself from the diminutive spitfire, who manages to get past all his guards?

Faced with arranged marriages to others and battling demons, that will stop at nothing to trap Wendy. Will they be forced to surrender their love, for the greater good?

In Desperate Betrayal, the first of The Protector Novels, betrayal danced with fierce attraction as two strangers find their life-mates under undesirable circumstances. Much like the man it follows, McQueen’s sequel, Desperate Surrender, bears much resemblance to its brother, but under the skin, it’s truly a different beast.

The Protectors’ rules regarding marriage and family have been tested in recent years. One man created an unsanctioned bond with a woman, resulting in a miracle pregnancy. Another improbably found his life-mate when she literally tracked him down. Together, the incidents turned their boss, Julian, cold on Atlanta, as if there was something in the water that was responsible.

Kieran couldn’t have imagined he’d be a party to the mating mess. He takes every opportunity Julian provides to vent his tension. The women are compensated very well for nights they don’t remember, so it’s win-win in his book. His 6-foot-five frame and three-hundred-plus pounds of muscle serve as armor for the most fragile heart in the history of mankind. A woman would have to be lucky at a moment he’s careless to get anywhere near the atrophied organ. Marry one? He’d laugh at the idea if he knew how to laugh, which he doesn’t.

The bitter Scot is damned good at his job, and after he leaves behind a metric ton of demon dust on the streets of Atlanta, Julian decides that the escorts aren’t working. The boss believes that the only thing that will stabilize Kieran is a woman in his bed on a permanent basis, so he insists on Kieran settling down. The ironies are not lost on the Protector when he’s forced into an arranged marriage, by a boss who frowns upon such distractions, as a consequence for doing his job too well.

Even annoyed as the situation makes him, Kieran’s too empty to bother resisting much and agrees.

Wendy O’Sullivan, the best friend of Kieran’s brand new sister-in-law Emma, knows well more about the demons and Protectors than she should. (She told Emma how to find Cynden, setting in motion the events of the first book.) After saving her from a demon two years before, Kieran erased her memory of the event and of him. At least, he thought he did, but it didn’t take. She has thought of him every day since then, but she never thought she’d see him again. Then, one week before the start of Surrender, they crossed paths in Emma’s hospital room. Kieran vaguely recognizes her, but she is careful not to let on that she knows him. She knows he’d try to erase her memory again, and this time he might succeed. She fears losing more than just her memory of demons and of him, but of everything that’s happened since meeting him as well.

After she’s attacked once again, this time by a demon looking for a mysterious key, Wendy finds herself in Kieran’s care at the home of Lord Fallon Trent in one of Atlanta’s wealthiest neighborhoods. Just like that, Kieran’s women problems go from zero to two in short order. Suddenly, there’s a woman he wants, but she’s under his protection and professionally he can’t get involved with her. Even if that didn’t matter to him, he gave his word to marry the woman Julian chose, and the boss man’s not the sort to overlook insubordination or change his mind.

Kieran is a man of principles, so he surrenders what he wants to be fair to Wendy. He keeps his distance, even at the risk of being rude, and spends a good deal of time taking cold showers. It’s good for a stretch of delicious sexual tension, and when the man’s resolve finally breaks, it’s not with a crack but a shatter.

Where as Desperate Betrayal was an examination of trust between partners, Desperate Surrender delves into deep-seeded emotional scarring and the risks one man will take to take control of his life. In addition, Surrender takes a few steps out of its romance framework and includes the POV of additional characters—master demon Gerard and Fallon—to set up the events of the third Protector novel, Desperate Possession. This allows Hildie McQueen to leave her audience hanging with a sense of foreboding opposed to hanging onto the edge of a cliff, which as a reader I appreciate since the next installment may not be available for months.

I would recommend Desperate Surrender, and the Protector Novels, to fans of paranormal romance, particularly readers partial to Lynn Rush and Jean Murray, and also to the audience of SyFy’s Lost Girl.

Book Review: Desperate Betrayal, by Hildie McQueen

Desperate Betrayal, by Hildie McQueen
Crescent Moon Press, 2012

Cynden Frasier (Cyn) is a member of a group of immortal warriors, the Protectors, assigned to protect humans in Atlanta, Georgia, the epicenter of a major uprising in demon activity. When Cyn is approached by a beautiful woman in a dirty alley, he is intrigued by the fact that she can see him for what he is, a terrifying demon slayer, and still dares to approach him.

Emma Blake, a half-demon, has to convince Cyn to help rescue her sister from powerful demons. Terrified that the Protector will kill her if he realizes what she is, she still goes against every instinct and approaches Cyn for help. Despite knowing that she is leading them both into territory so wrought with treachery, neither of them may survive.

Can Cyn and Emma overcome betrayal, the ancient rules that prevent Protectors from taking a wife, unless she is his one true mate? And if they do, will it even matter?

In Hildie McQueen’s Atlanta, there are Protectors and demons. Three castes of the latter, in fact, walking around looking very human, and they are mostly up to no good. Scottish Protector Cynden Fraser, like his brothers-in arms, suffered a brutal growth spurt in his early 20s that left him a walking Greek statue—beautiful, massive, ageless—gifted with the strength and speed necessary to hunt demons. The Protectors are permitted marriage in only two incidences: encountering one’s life-mate, which is rare, or by arrangement of the order’s leader, Julian, aka “The Roman.”

These men exist to stand between mankind and the threat of evil. Period.

The mating rules of the Protectors have never been a problem for Cyn. While he has a voracious appetite for women, it’s rare that any one woman can hold his interest passed a third orgasm. Furthermore, he’s hit a dry spell, a mixed blessing of sorts because he has lots of other problems that need his attention. His Protector friend, Roderick Cronan, was recently been abducted. The demon father of Cyn’s adopted son is making noise about wanting custody. The demon population in Atlanta is growing bigger and bolder. The last thing he needs is girl trouble.

So, when Emma Blake approaches him a) knowing who he is, b) knowing what he is, and c) begging for his help to free her sister from a high-level demon strong-hold, he turns her down flat. There are enough demons to deal with on the street. He doesn’t intend to walk into a nest of them to rescue a woman who he is certain is already dead. Emma is persistent, but even after she tells him that Roderick is being held in the same compound, he continues to refuse.

Still, Cyn wants to believe her. He doesn’t want to accept that Roderick is dead, or that the man’s wife and son will be without him, so Cyn does commit to a rescue. Julian commits several other Protectors to the mission, including Cyn’s cranky brother Kieran, and pretentious Lord Fallon Trent. Cyn is a man who understands the value of keeping friends close and enemies closer, so Emma remains close at hand, but out of earshot of the mission plans. It unnerves Cyn that he’s drawn to the woman, even while sensing there’s something off about her, even while suspecting that he can’t trust her, even while knowing that she is going to betray him.

That something is a big deal. Emma is half-demon, born to a human mother and a demon father. And while the story about her sister is true (as she knows it), it’s also a trap to lure Cyn to a master demon named Gerard. Julian is holding another master demon captive. Gerard is sure that two of the world’s most powerful Protectors will suffice for a prisoner exchange. Even though Cyn knows the moment of truth is coming, when Emma finally does betray him, it cuts him deep.

In Desperate Betrayal, Hildie McQueen balances a series of betrayals against a theme of trust and forgiveness. It is hard to let our loved ones go, but that burden can be impossible to bear when that person is all that remains of your family. Cyn is lucky among the Protectors to have a brother who shares his calling and immortal gifts. He can step into her shoes and ask himself if he could sacrifice his brother for the sake of a lover, but forgiveness can be another burden impossible to bear and his does not come easily. McQueen lets the emotions of the events play out naturally, rebuilding a relationship between Cyn and Emma amidst the manifestations of one demon’s lust for power and other’s greed.

Desperate Betrayal is an action-packed novel with steamy sex and a tense atmosphere that lives up to its title. It also moments of unnerving brashness and incredible sweetness. The story of Atlanta’s demon hunters continues with Desperate Surrender, which focuses on Cyn’s brother Kieran and Wendy, a human he saved years ago. I would sincerely recommend this book (and series) to fans of Lynn Rush’s Wasteland series, Jean Murray’s Soul Reborn, and SyFy’s Lost Girl audience.

Book Review: Desperate Choices, by Hildie McQueen

Desperate Choices, by Hildie McQueen
Crescent Moon Press, April 2012

When an Immortal demon slayer saves Rachel Andrews from certain death, her life changes forever. An unbreakable bond with the handsome Protector, drags her into a world she never believed existed and has no desire to be part of.

The actions of one night drastically alter the course of his long existence. Torn between his feelings for Rachel and his life’s calling, Roderick Cronan comes face to face with the fact that he is losing both.

Rachel Andrews’ mother warned her not to pick up hitchhikers. Also, there are such things as demons. Both occur to Rachel as she’s pulled bodily between the front seats of her car into the back. Not strong enough to fend off the monster sucking on her jugular, Rachel regrets not having stopped into talk to her mother. But just as she’s losing consciousness, the demon becomes a puff of blue smoke. Hovering above Rachel was a man she believed to be the Angel of Death.

When Rachel wakes up once more, she’s lying in a four-poster bed. She gets a second look at her angel. He’s naked, frustrated at having misplaced his shorts, and when his towel slips, she gets an eyeful. She blurts out her appreciation, alerting him to fact that she’s awake. He then explains to her that she was attacked by a demon, which he killed, and she’s been out for three days because she lost so much blood.

In Hildie McQueen’s Atlanta, there are Protectors and demons. Three castes of the latter, in fact, walking around looking very human and most up to no good. Roderick Cronan, like his Protector brothers-in-arms, was born human, but he suffered a change in his early twenties that subjected him to nightmares and a brutal growth spurt. As a result, he is a walking Greek statue–Spartan, in his case—beautiful, massive, and ageless. The Protectors are permitted marriage only by arrangement by the leader of their order, “The Roman” named Julian, and they are usually unable to father children. (And “usually” is important here.)

These men exist to stand between mankind and the threat of evil. Period.

Roderick is also a medical doctor; saving Rachel’s life is a no brainer for him. He is short on time and resources, so when she needs a blood transfusion, he doesn’t think twice about using his own. That’s when things get complicated for Rachel, Roderick, and Julian.

Desperate Choices is a charming and sexy lead-in to Hildie McQueen’s full-length novel Desperate Betrayal. The novella doesn’t waste much time on the demon scene in Atlanta, but instead focuses on Roderick’s relationships with Rachel, his roommate Cynden Fraser, and his boss, Julian. I felt that McQueen did a particularly good job with Julian, a tough-love type who is way more father than friend to the men who serve him. Julian knows when to keep his head, when to blow his cool, and never changes his mind once a decision is made because he doesn’t abide weakness. Roderick’s roommate, Cynden, is similarly rounded out as a Scot whose lost his brogue after centuries away from the Highlands. He’s in only a few scenes, but he’s got a lot of personality.

With three enigmatic male characters in this novella, it might seem difficult for a female to grab the spotlight, but Rachel’s a solid character and she holds her own.

Desperate Choices is Book 0.5 of The Protectors series. It is stand-alone; it doesn’t have to be read before Desperate Betrayal, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt as Rachel and Julian appear in both. It’s also a clean, smooth read that I was able to polish off while my husband watched Ferris Bueller. I would call The Protectors a paranormal romance series to watch closely. I would recommend it to fans of Lynn Rush’s Wasteland series, Jean Murray’s Soul Reborn, and to SyFy’s Lost Girl audience.

Rating: ★★★★★

Little Moons from Crescent Moon Press

Little Moons is a brand new series of novellas from Crescent Moon Press. These stories are from CMP’s already contracted authors, set in the worlds they have already created. They may feature characters you know. Or maybe they’re telling a story belonging to a side character, or maybe even a new character all together. But with these talented authors, whatever the stories are, they’re bound to be exciting.

Little Moons will start being released sometime today on Kindle for $0.99. (Dates mentioned below.)

  • Vicarious (Prequel to Stealing Breath), by Joanne Brothwell
  • Prelude to Darkness (Prequel to Wasteland), by Lynn Rush (May 7th)
  • Desperate Choices (Related to Desperate Betrayal), by Hildie McQueen (TBA)