[#BookBlitz & Giveaway] Dangerous Victor by Aislinn Kearns @ardentaislinn @XpressoTours #Romance #Suspense

Excerpts and teasers and giveaways, oh my! Get prepared for the lead up to Dangerous Victor’s release. A whole bunch of blogs will feature the book, and they are all hosting a giveaway! Get in on it.

The Paperback Princess


Dangerous Victor
Aislinn Kearns
(Soldiering On, #3)

Publication date: March 2nd 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

Radha Iyer knows there’s something terribly wrong happening at the casino she manages. Her staff are acting cagey, the finances don’t add up, and then her Head of Security is found murdered in his own home. She’s out of her depth and desperate for help.

Zack Walker has kept to himself since the day an IED left him permanently scarred. When Radha calls Soldiering On for help, his degree in math makes him the obvious choice to go undercover as the new Head of Security to help her discover what’s going on and who’s responsible.

But the conspiracy they uncover goes deeper than either of them could have imagined. When their investigation is compromised, it puts them both in mortal peril and on the run. With nowhere to turn they must rely on each…

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Review: Forced Disappearance by Dana Marton

Forced DisappearanceForced Disappearance by Dana Marton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was okay. I enjoyed the survival in the jungle elements – I love that stuff. I liked that they had to think their way out of dangerous situations, and figure out smart ways to stay safe/fed/sheltered/etc.

I thought the hero was fine, if a little forgettable. I much preferred him during the survival in Venezuela part of the book. I liked his resourcefulness and persistence. But once they got out of the jungle and he turned back into the billionaire businessman I lost interest. Private jets and ridiculously unrealistic hotel rooms in Vienna (surprisingly) don’t do it for me at all.

I found the heroine’s wound to be a little inconsistent. Sometimes she couldn’t be with the hero because of her dead husband and child, and sometimes because of her Big Secret (which wasn’t connected to her dead family at all). It just made the heroine seem like she’d suffered an unnecessary amount of trauma. Otherwise, I liked the descriptions of her. I like that she was described as strong and lean and short-haired rather than ‘curvy in all the right places’. It was a nice change.

Plus, I listened to this in audio, and the narrator’s dialogue for the heroine sounded e-x-a-c-t-l-y like Lauren Holly, which was cool but distracting.

I’m interested enough in the set up for this company to read the next book, but hopefully that one has more of the survival stuff and less of the billionaire nonsense.

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Review: All I Am by Nicole Helm

All I Am (A Farmers' Market Story, #2)All I Am by Nicole Helm
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book a lot. Some of that was because it was just my favourite kind of dynamic – wounded, virgin, decent hero, and sexually experienced and kind (if a little broken herself) woman. But that’s not to take away from Helm’s skilled writing. She crafted two likeable characters, and I really enjoyed their journey.

Wes is a loner – a hermit, even. He hates people, and his gruff and grumpy demeanour keeps them away. It works out well for everyone, until Cara bursts into his life and starts turning everything around. But she’s got her own issues to deal with.

I don’t think this book will work for everyone. We spend a lot of time in the characters’ heads dealing with their issues. I didn’t mind it because I liked them so much, but I could see it being frustrating for some reasons.

I also wasn’t entirely convinced by Wes’s reasoning for keeping Cara away from his mother. It felt a little like the author was trying to force a ‘black moment’ for her characters.

All in all, though, I really loved this book. It’s everything I could have wanted from one of my favourite dynamics! I definitely found it a lot more enjoyable to read than All I Have by far. Mostly because the characters were more my thing, but also because we didn’t have to deal with such awful secondary characters (unless you count Cara’s “friends”). I did get very emotionally invested in Wes and Cara’s story, and did cry a bit at the end. A great book!

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Review: All I Have by Nicole Helm

All I Have (A Farmers' Market Story, #1)All I Have by Nicole Helm
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a really hard review for me to write. I wasn’t even sure how to rate this book. Based on my enjoyment level of it, it should probably only get 2-2.5 stars. But that was far more to do with what I brought to the reading, than the quality of the book itself.

Let me explain.

The story is that two people with competing market stalls at a farmer’s market – Mia and Dell – end up starting a relationship and falling in love.

It sounds like a fun premise, but the conflict and tension is high, meaning it isn’t as fun a read as the premise suggests. I already wasn’t primed to like this book. The virgin woman/sexually experienced man dynamic is one that I generally dislike, even by extremely skilled writers. It didn’t work for me here, either, but again that was because of my own preferences, not anything to do with the book itself.

The main problem I had is that so many of the characters were simply awful to each other, in really subtle, unpleasant ways. Dell bullied Mia, trying to put her out of business. I don’t care what his reasoning was, I thought he was a complete asshat.

Dell’s father was a dick to Dell. The two couldn’t have a civil conversation. One of the main things that gets me upset when reading (which I never fully understood until reading this book) is when a character simply won’t listen to what a protagonist has to say, or willfully misunderstands them. Dell’s relationship with his father was like this, and I found it deeply unsettling in their scenes together. Dell’s brother was honestly not much better.

Similarly, Mia’s relationship with her mother was smothering. The fact that the woman was horrified because her 26-year-old daughter was in a relationship – it was horrible judgey and made me deeply uncomfortable how guilty she tried to make Mia. It was so uncomfortable to read. I don’t care that they tried to make her have a sympathetic back story later in the book. The fact that she made her daughter feel so awful made her unforgivable in my book.

Obviously, since I was so upset by these things, I was not the right person to enjoy this book. I suppose what I’m saying is that if you like the virgin heroine/playboy man dynamic, and aren’t too fussed about people the protagonists love being awful to them, then you’ll most likely enjoy this book more than I did. However, I am already reading All I Am and thoroughly enjoying it. With the virgin hero, and no awful secondary characters, it’s far more my speed.

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Review: The Fixer by HelenKay Dimon

The FixerThe Fixer by HelenKay Dimon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Emery is looking for the man she thinks abducted or killed her cousin many years ago. She finds Wren’s name in her uncle’s files on the case and thinks he’s connected. Turns out, he was just someone that the man thought might help.

Wren becomes quickly intrigued with Emery and the case, and agrees to help her. Despite their differences, they realise they make a good team.

I enjoyed this. I love awkward heroes and while I didn’t quite buy that such a successful manipulator of people could be so clueless, I was willing to go along with it.

My only real complaint about the book is that I got quite frustrated by the circular conversations. Their conflict was almost entirely due to the fact that they couldn’t communicate – particularly in the beginning. So, one of them would say something (fairly obvious to the reader) and the other character would demand an explanation, which they may or may not end up getting. It got better towards the end because Emery began to understand Wren. But I don’t think he ever really learned to understand her.

Other than that, the book was fine. I thought the villain was a bit too obvious, but maybe that was just me.

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Dangerous Victor Available for Preorder!

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Amazon link here!

March 2 will be the big day.

This book has been the most challenging of the series to write – in the best kind of way. I think it’s my favourite so far.

Fun fact: This was the book that sparked the whole idea of the series. I actually started writing a very different incarnation of this book more than a year before I wrote anything else in the Soldiering On world. Before I even had a proper idea for the series!

I hope you all enjoy reading it!

Radha Iyer knows there’s something terribly wrong happening at the casino she manages. Her staff are acting cagey, the finances don’t add up, and then her Head of Security is found murdered in his own home. She’s out of her depth and desperate for help.

Zack Walker has kept to himself since the day an IED left him permanently scarred. When Radha calls Soldiering On for help, his degree in math makes him the obvious choice to go undercover as the new Head of Security to help her discover what’s going on and who’s responsible.

But the conspiracy they uncover goes deeper than either of them could have imagined. When their investigation is compromised, it puts them both in mortal peril and on the run. With nowhere to turn they must rely on each other, but danger and betrayal lurk in every shadow…

Additional fun fact: a decent portion of this book is set at the same time as Guarding Sierra! You don’t have to read one to understand the other, but it might be fun to see where they overlap.

Preorder it now!

What do you think of the cover and the title? Any clues about the story?

Review: Undecided by Julianna Keyes

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I read this as my January book for my 2017 Reading Challenge/Book Club. The theme was ‘Read an Indie Author’, so I picked this book that got rave reviews and had been sitting on my TBR pile for a while.

Brief Plot:

A New Adult Romance about a young woman trying to atone for her wild first year in college. She moves in with the college stud – whom she happened to hook up with the previous year – but ends up falling for his best friend.

My Thoughts:

This is usually the kind of book I avoid. Firstly, I tend to hate first person POV. And secondly, angsty New Adult Romances generally have dickhole “heroes” and “broken” women that the guy can get protective over. But I’d heard that this book wasn’t like that – and they were right. Despite me being unsure at first, Crosbie turns out to be adorable. Nora is flawed, but determined.

Julianna Keyes is a skilled writer. I really felt all the pain and awkwardness of Nora’s situation and everything she goes through. I did think that she made too big a deal out of some things, and determinedly stuck to her course for a bit too long. But it was in character and consistent with what I knew of her. If I had one complaint about the book – which is so minor as to be insignificant – is that maybe I didn’t feel the joy as strongly as I felt all the pain.

This book overcame all my reservations and made me feel a whole bunch of things – so it gets 5 stars.

Did I learn anything by reading this:

I certainly learned what a difference a cover could make. I wasn’t interested in this book at all based on the first cover. And though I don’t love the second cover, it’s not nearly as off-putting. Mostly because it doesn’t imply a love triangle.

Would I read in this genre again:

In New Adult? Hmmm, probably only if the book is highly recommended by someone that really knows my reading tastes.

An Indie Author? Of course!

Final Thoughts:

Read it if you like beta heroes, college-aged characters, and feeling all the feels.

Which Indie Authors did you read this month?

Networking for Indie Authors

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If there was ever such a halcyon time when an Indie Author could just hit publish on a book and then watch the sales come in, that time is long over.

Now, discoverability is a real issue, and many authors are feeling alone and disheartened, and struggling to find sales. I’m certainly not an expert on getting sales, (or on not feeling alone, for that matter!) but I have a steady amount of books sold each day. I can attribute my modest success to one thing: networking.

There are a number of different forms of networking.

  • In person
  • Online (Readers)
  • Online (Other writers)
  • Online (Bloggers and reviewers)

The first time I saw a bump in my sales (after the initial release) was when I attended the Romance Writers of Australia conference last year. There, I met a lot of lovely, like-minded people that loved the same genre I do, both as readers and writers. I didn’t spend any of my time pimping my books to people there (unless they asked!), but I did build connections, ones that I’ve continued since. And many of those people have been supportive of my writing in subsequent months.

So, in person networking is not about selling your books, necessarily, it’s about selling yourself as a person and making friends.

I also have seen an uptick in my sale since I joined a number of online groups for writers. Not critique groups, but more communities, many of which are on Goodreads and Facebook. Again, I didn’t use these groups to spam people with my books, but I try to be a helpful, active member. I answer people’s questions as best I can, I offer opinions when they’re asked for, and I cheer people on when they need it. And they do the same for me! I don’t go in with the intention of any mercenary gain, but I think in many ways these groups have contributed to me finding a readership.

This, for me, was about having a support network of other people that understand the writing process. Some of them bought my book! But that isn’t the point of the connection. Rather, they make me feel less alone in the writing and publishing world, and these groups are a place to pool our knowledge for the betterment of all of us. However, like with the in-person networking, it helps to make friends and be supportive of other people, because they’ll probably be supportive back.

Bloggers and reviewers are the group I’ve had the least success networking with. I’ve tried! But I’m probably doing something wrong. However, I’ll keep persisting because there is a wealth of evidence out there that bloggers and reviewers will be your biggest supporters down the line. They are the ones that get readers to hear about your book, and get them hyped for releases. It will definitely be a challenge worth pursuing to build those relationships!

And, now, to readers. There are a number of ways to meet and communicate with readers. In person you have book launches, conferences, conventions, and things like that. Online, you have social media, groups, forums, etc. If you can build a relationship with readers, then I’ll wager that will be your most financially successful form of networking. Part of this comes through your author branding (something I’m still working on) – readers want to know who you are. Other times it’s just interacting with them in appropriate places.

 

Networking is essential for building not just a readership, but a community around you. This isn’t (just) for financial reasons. Indie authors don’t have to take this journey alone – and they shouldn’t. Find opportunities to build relationships, and be receptive to those that come your way. It’ll make a massive difference!

2017 Reading Challenge

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One of my goals this year is to read more – and read more outside of my usual type of books.

I’ve always had a secret desire to join a book club, but since I hate depressing books, which make up a lot of literary fiction (the genre most chosen for book clubs), I have a suspicion that I would be miserable in a conventional book club setting.

However, I do acknowledge that I am occasionally too narrow in my reading, and would love to challenge myself to read a wider variety of books.

So, I thought I would challenge myself (and others, if you want to join!) to a more broad and thematic kind of book club. Instead of all reading the same book, I thought it would be cool if we all read to particular themes each month, and then returned to discuss what we’d read.

This way, we can choose books we are comfortable with, while still challenging ourselves to read outside of our usual patterns.

Here is what I’m thinking so far:

January: Indie Author

February: Fiction genre you haven’t read before

March: #OwnVoices book

April: Nonfiction book

May: Book with a protagonist of a different race to you

June: Book that’s been languishing on your TBR pile for a long time

July: Book set in an unusual place

August: Book that scares or intimidates you

September: Anthology or short story

October: Book that was made into a movie

November: Translated book

December: Book in an unusual format

If you have any comments or suggestions, let me know!

I intend to write a review of each book I read for the challenge, to see if it changed my mind about anything. I’ll ask myself questions such as ‘What did I learn?’ (either about writing, myself, or the world at large) and ‘Would I read a book with this theme again?’ It should be a nice record of a year’s reading.

What do you say? Will you join me?