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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Review and ebook Giveaway - Murphy's Law by Sandy James

This is a "winning" romance set in the harness racing industry.
Murphy's Law [Damaged Heroes 1] (BookStrand Publishing Romance) by Sandy James

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: BookStrand Publishing (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606012711
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606012710
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5.0 of 5.0

Product Description
Seth Remington had a fortune at his fingertips, but something was missing in his life. Purpose.

Knowing he has one last chance to redeem his son, terminally ill Sterling Remington rewrites his will. To earn his inheritance, his son Seth must labor as a groom for a horse trainer.

Katie Murphy's orderly existence is turned upside down by Sterling Remington's will. Raised on hard work and dedicated to her harness racing stable, Katie agrees to take Seth on as a groom. How can she ever fulfill the challenge of instilling a work ethic in Seth and still keep her faltering stable running?

Kept at arm's length by the strict terms of Sterling's will, Seth and Katie are forced to struggle with their growing attraction until a devastating racing accident forces them to take a hard look at their relationship. How much is he willing to risk for her love?

Review:
This was a book that kept me reading when I should have been getting ready for work or going to sleep earlier.  The writing is crisp and clean and moves at a very smooth, quick pace which is well suited to the harness racing world which is the setting for the romance.  The conflict and obstacles create great tension; the bantering dialogue flows easily.  The characters seemed real and I was wrapped in their emotions and lost to the story when reading it.

Katie is a tough minded young woman struggling to make a go as a horse trainer in a field that doesn’t favor women.  But she knows and loves horses, she has been raised to work hard and she has learned to be self sufficient. She was betrayed by an old boyfriend so she doesn’t trust or even expect much from men. And she surely can’t expect much from a rich, spoiled playboy who has never worked a day in his privileged life.

When you first meet Seth he is exactly that: a rich playboy who has no direction and no responsibility.  His self made, millionaire father has given him one month to sow his wild oats and then settle down to a pristine job at the family business and a pristine socialite marriage. And now Seth has wrecked his umpteenth (okay it was only the fourth) Porsche and just expects his father to replace it for him.

Then Seth’s father unexpectedly dies leaving Seth a fortune. Well, sort of. Seth can only inherit if he works incognito as a groom for one racing season under Katie’s tutelage. There are a few more stipulations, including a “no seducing” the boss clause if Seth is to inherit and Katie to get the full benefit of the Will provisions.

Considering the set up, neither Katie or Seth are happy. Surprisingly Seth digs in deep to find the guts and fortitude to do the hard, dirty work. That turns out to be easier than keeping his hands off the boss lady. Of course when Seth learns that Katie will get a bonus at the end of the nine month “sentence” he tends to lump her into the “gold-digger” category. That label seems enhanced by Katie’s dating Ross, the attorney handling the details of the Will. Ross becomes enamored of Katie and creates a threat to Seth’s growing feelings for Katie.

There is wonderful detail about the harness racing world from the dirt of the stables to the excitement of racing and winning. In addition to Ross, there are several other friends and enemies that add good character relationships to the story.

The sparks fly between these two sometimes in anger, sometimes in love, but always with passion. The engaging plot keeps you reading because you want to find out how they will succeed under the terms of the Will. Will Seth choose a fortune over love? I highly recommend you get this book to find out for yourself.

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY FOR THE EBOOK:
1.Visit the author's website and tell me something you learned there. Or if you have read any of Sandy's books you can answer her Question at Q9 on the Interview.
Please leave your e-mail!

2. For an extra entry, become a follower or tell me if you are already a follower.

3. For another entry, blog, facebook, tweet (any of those networks!) about this giveaway and tell me where you did.

4.  For two extra entries comment on the Interview.

(Five total entries possible.)
It isn't necessary to use separate entries unless you want them in different chronological order.

* This contest is open Worldwide.

* This contest will close 10:00 PM (Central) on September 17, 2010. The winner will be randomly selected from all entries.

Interview - Sandy James author of Murphy's Law

Today we welcome author Sandy James to the Interview table!

Q1. What would you say makes a romance novel a great love story?

SANDY: The characters have to have chemistry. To me, that connection, that wonderful feeling that the heroine and hero belong together, makes the story work. If an author can make me believe the relationship is destiny, then I’ll suffer through anything she throws in their path to see them together. The more hurdles they have to jump to get to their happily ever after, the more interesting the story. I had a fan mail once where a reader told me she read All the Right Reasons and was mad at me up until the very last chapter because she was terrified Lucas and Joy would never find a way to get past all their problems and end up together. I was thrilled because that meant I did a good job on that book.

Martha: Ahh – now that may explain why I found Murphy’s Law so gripping… the chemistry and the conflict were such a good combination!

Q2. It appears that your books follow a rule many authors are told: “write what you know.” Please share briefly what special knowledge or experience you bring to your books.

Murphy's Law [Damaged Heroes, Book 1] (BookStrand Publishing)SANDY: My husband and I own a small stable of harness-racing horses. When we first became owners, we had so much to learn! From the equipment to the handling of the animals to the strategy of the sport… It was almost overwhelming. I decided to try to share what I learned with my readers and hopefully introduce a few new fans to the sport by writing a romance based in the horseracing world. Murphy’s Law was born, and as Seth learns about racing, so do readers.

I’m a high school teacher and had resisted writing about being a teacher because I didn’t think of it as the type of profession that would interest romance readers. But when I sat down to write a first-person book simply to exorcise my middle-aged angst, of course the heroine had to be a teacher. It was also the first book I wrote around a title – Turning Thirty-Twelve.

I never intended to share that story, but when a friend encouraged me to submit it to Siren-BookStrand, I did. To have it be the first book I sold was bizarre to say the least. My little “kicks and giggles” book seems to have resonated with other readers of a certain age, which makes me very happy.
Turning Thirty-Twelve (BookStrand Publishing Romance)
Martha: I found the harness-racing world very interesting and a great story setting. I look forward to reading the second book and more of your books too.

Q3. When you do a series do you have each book plotted out before you start the first one, or do the subsequent books flow from the first book?

SANDY: I never plan to write a series. I write the book that calls to me. You nailed it on the head when you asked whether “subsequent books flow from the first book,” because that’s exactly what happens. A secondary character from a completed story will start buzzing in my ear, telling me he deserves a story of his own. The world I created tells me it has more to offer.

Martha: That seems like a good sign. If the characters and world you create grab you they are likely to grab the reader as well.

Q4. I noted that you have a new series coming out, an Urban Fantasy series about “Amazon” women. These women sound pretty awesome. What inspired these books?

SANDY: Thanks! I love my girls. Those are the only books I designed as a series. They haven’t found a home yet, so I can’t give you a date for when you can buy them, but I promise to scream from the mountaintop when my agent sells that series.

I had written mostly contemporaries, but I love reading paranormals and urban fantasies. I simply couldn’t think of a really good and innovative idea for a paranormal of my own. My son is my biggest muse because he’s horribly creative. We love to go to movies together, and we talk a lot while we’re waiting for the previews. Sometimes we even go early simply to hash out book ideas. One time, I asked if he could help me with some world-building and he tossed out some ideas for having women be the warriors for once and being guided by goddesses. Things happened pretty quickly after that. By the time we got out of the movie, I let him drive home while I grabbed some paper – an old horseracing program I think – from the back seat and started jotting down ideas. The Reluctant Amazon, the first in the series, was written within three months because I couldn’t stop the story. It yelled at me day and night. Three more books followed, the titles based on that warrior’s weakness – The Impetuous Amazon, The Brazen Amazon, and The Timid Amazon. I’m dying for my girls to find a good home so I can share them!

Martha: They sound awesome (I even like the pictures at your blog) and I hope they find a home soon! Then perhaps I could review one?? (hint hint)

Q.5 Do you find that there is a big transition in writing style from your contemporary works to the new urban Fantasy series? Did you have to change or struggle with anything particular?

SANDY: I didn’t consider it a challenge to change my writing style because I simply didn’t. I wrote with the same romantic entanglements and character interactions. I made the hero and heroine just as in love and just as tortured. The gods and goddesses have all the emotions and foibles of the human characters. The only things I added were the action scenes. But to me, those fight scenes weren’t really different from describing the action of a horse race. It’s all about choreography – like a ballet. Having the right person in the right place at the right time.

I loved doing the research about the deities as well as the demons and cultures. The history teacher in me had a ball with my Amazons, so much fun I started a new sci-fi series!

Martha: The goddesses sound like added fun to those books. I’ll be watching for the sci-fi books too.

Q.6 In Murphy’s Law is there something your heroine would never be caught dead doing or saying?

SANDY: Katie would never compromise her principles. For example, some horse trainers look for ways to cheat faster than the sport can keep up with policing their activities. Katie would never, ever cheat to win a race. She’d rely on hard work and her love for the animals to be sure they were in their best condition so they had the best chance to win. And they probably would. J

Martha: Right – Katie was definitely a stand up character and a "winner."

Q.7  Is there an ancillary character In Murphy’s Law you had the most fun with?

SANDY: I fell in love with Ross Kennedy. He came about because I had a student who begged me to name a villain after him. Ross should have been a shyster lawyer who was trying to cheat Katie out of the money she was supposed to earn by taking on Seth. But every time I tried to write Ross that way, he rebelled. He just wouldn’t let me write him as a bad guy. So Ross became the third side of a Katie/Seth/Ross triangle and a potential hero. I loved him so much, I had to give him his own book when Katie chose Seth, the love of her life. Finding the right heroine for Ross was a true joy. Ross’s story became his struggle of a Type A personality to learn how to let go – Free Falling. The ultimate kicker is that my student, the real-life Ross, is going to school to become a lawyer now because of that character. How cool is that?

Martha: That is cool about your student studying law! Now I just have to find time to squeeze in Ross’s story. J

Q.8 Do you read new authors? If so, who's your new favorite find?

SANDY: Hands down, Paula Quinn. Her Laird in the Mist and the sequels are phenomenal. I’m in love with Graham from A Highlander Never Surrenders. Her books really deliver in emotion and action.

Martha: I love Paula Quinn too! I was fortunate to recently review two of her books.

Q. 9 If you could have readers finish a sentence what would it be?

SANDY: When I read a book by Sandy James, I come away feeling…

Martha: My answer: I come away feeling emotionally charged from an intense romance.
Q.10  Some quick reply sentences:

Why I write ... To express all the things I feel deep inside.
What I am reading/watching/listening to ... I’m a Broadway freak, so I’m usually listening to some Broadway musical score.
My inspiration ... My children and my students inspire me.

Sandy, thanks for a great read and for sharing in an Author Chat! Thank you too for offering an ebook of Murphy's Law as a giveaway. Some lucky winner will really get to enjoy a wonderful romance.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Three Winners of Audio Book: When I Stop Talking... by Jerry Weintraub

CONGRATULATIONS 
TO THE WINNERS OF
the Audio Book:


When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man

I will send the form to Lora1967, Lab1990 and Allison to complete. I think you will all be glad you won. When you get to listen to it maybe you'll share your thoughts too!

One New Winner for Deadly Fear

Donnas let me know that she already won Deadly Fear so I picked a new winner.
Congratulations to Kailia!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

It's Monday! What are you Reading? August 30, 2010

This meme starts at One Person's Journey Through A World of Books!
What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I finished four more good books this week.:0)
I posted two interviews, three reviews, and three book giveaways.
I didn't get any older reviews done this week as it was a VERY busy work week with end of month closings and preparing for vacation this week. I hope to have internet as we visit our son in Monterey, CA, my step-son (DH's oldest child) in San Francisco and my brother in Sonoma. I will post the planned interview with Sandy James with review with giveaway of Murphy's Law before I go and, 
as long as DH does not object (which he might), I should be able to post a couple of other reviews and giveaways later in the week.

My visiting plan last week did not get implemented so I will try it after I return from vacation.

These were last week's posts plus several Winner posts not listed.
Finished Reading:
Small HQ book #1 for survey.  I liked this sweet and quick category romance.

PB: Seduced by a Highlander by Paula Quinn. The author interview, review and giveaway posts are linked above.

Kiindle: ---------

The Island: A NovelAudio Book: The Island: A Novel by Elin Hilderbrand. I will post the review and Hachette giveaway this week.


Audible: With all the excitement about Mockingjay I decided to check out this series. I remembered that I had downloaded The Hunger Games from Audible a few weeks ago. I finished it in two days and was SO glad that I had two credits at Audible so I could download Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) and Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games).

The Hunger GamesThis was awesome and I will post a review later this week.
For anyone (like me) who has not yet read this series here is the synopsis of Book One:
Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.
Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Line Edits:  -------


Currently reading:
PB:  Tropical Kiss by Jan Coffey. I decided to read this from the summer books before I give them away.  I will finish this tomorrow so I can mail it to the Chat post winner.  This is a sweet YA that reminds me a bit of The Moonspinners.
Tropical KissProduct Description
A summer in Aruba, on the beach, in the sun–what else could a girl want? A summer romance, of course!
Imagine spending your entire summer vacation on the beautiful Islands of Aruba. Who could ask for anything more? Well, for Morgan Callahan, spending her entire summer in Aruba with the father, she hardly knows, is barely anything to look forward to. In fact, she is dreading the next few months.
Nonetheless, she is in for the time of her life! From secret operatives to finding romance.Morgan is in for some international intrigue!

PB:  One Fine Cowboy by Joanne Kennedy. Reading and reviewing for Sourcebook. I have just read the first couple of chapters and like the easy pace of this so far.
Synopsis
One Fine CowboyWhen brilliant, beautiful graduate student Charlie Banks comes to Wyoming for a conference on horse communication, the last thing she expects to get is a lesson in love from sexy horse trainer Nate Shawcross. While Nate's always had a way with horses, it's the women in his life who have left him with romantic scars. But when Nate enlists Charlie to help him rehabilitate an abused stallion, she can't help but be wooed by his soft touch and gentle voice. And though he's been burned in the past, Nate is finding it harder and harder to hide his heart from the sexy greenhorn.

E-Book: Never a Bride by Amelia Grey. There were difficulties with the eArc so plans changed on this and I should be getting a print book to read soon.
Kindle ------ 

Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)Audible: Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins. I am a already a quarter of the way into this book. This is hard to put down.

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Suzanne Collins continues the amazing story of Katniss Everdeen in Catching Fire, the second novel of the phenomenal Hunger Games trilogy.


Line Edits: The site is ready but I have to make a domain switch this week. I have been finalizing several books for release.


Upcoming books:
The second small "Tell HQ" review book.
PB:  Sin Undone (Demonica, Book 5) by Larissa Ione - Review and Hachette Giveaway 9/10.
Last to Die by Kate Brady - Review and Hachette Giveaway 9/15
Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America by Tom Graneau

Audible:  Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)

The Brothers of Gwynedd: The Legend of the First True Prince of Wales by Edith Pargeter. Part Three - The Hounds of Sunset. Reviewing for Sourcebooks.  Not quite sure when I will be getting back to this but it is still on the schedule.

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