New Release and Giveaway! RISE by Sierra Cross (Coven of Fire #1)

Rise
Sierra Cross
(Coven of Fire, #1)
Publication date: June 15th 2017
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy

I closed the door on magic long ago…the day it made me an orphan.

Ten years ago, the Coven of Fire sacrificed their lives—my mother among them—to hold off an overwhelming demonic force. Now it’s back.

As a poorly-paid bartender, how can any of this be my problem? But Callie, another orphan of that battle, swears I’m the key to reviving the coven. And there’s an incredibly sexy guardian stranded on my couch who’s promising to help me stop the demons and keep the veil between the realms standing.

One problem: I’ve never been able to use magic. Our local bad boy warlock assures me I have the talent, but even if I did, we don’t have enough witches to complete a coven. The only way to survive is to pull together this pack of magicborn misfits, who have more secrets than spells, into a makeshift coven.

Can we—three untrained witches, a sarcastic warlock, and an overly intense guardian—take back the city…before the demongate falls and the forces that killed my mother destroy us too?

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Startled, I flailed backward. Losing my grip on all six bottles. With a sickening crash they toppled to the stone floor, exploding on impact. The crisp smell of alcohol punctured the dank air.

My heart was still thundering, but I saw no one. “Who’s there?” I demanded.

A figure came into view. Not like he stepped out of the shadows…more like he materialized in front of me. Tall. Powerfully built. With short brown hair and a lean angular face covered in bruises and bloody scrapes. I could have drawn that rugged face, and all its battle scars, from memory.

I forced myself to look into his dark, knowing eyes. The eyes that I’d once allowed to see into my deepest grief. “Matt?” My voice came out higher, younger than I expected. “I didn’t think you were ever coming back.”

“Alexandra…kid, we need to talk.” Matt’s gravelly voice—a voice I hadn’t heard since I was fourteen years old—was low and serious. “I’ve waited over a year for you to come down here. Don’t know how much longer I can hold this form. So listen and don’t interrupt.”

I’d almost forgotten how bossy Matt could be for a ghost. Well, ethereal being anyway. Despite his torn T-shirt and jeans, he had a palpable air of authority, like some kind of rogue commando. The impatient blaze in his eyes would be intimidating, if I didn’t know him. Actually, it still was. But as blown away as I was to see him again, my life had changed since the last time he’d paid me an astral visit. Since then, I’d learned that I had no business interacting with supernatural beings.

“I’m not a kid anymore, Matt,” I said, as firmly as I could. “And I’m not part of your world. Look…you helped me back then, I’ll always be grateful. But I think it would be best if you left now.”

“That’s because you don’t have all the information yet.” He folded his muscular arms, which looked so real and powerful I had to remind myself that they, like the rest of his strapping body, weren’t physically here in the room but in another realm entirely. “Once you’re up to speed on the magical dangers facing our city—”

“Thanks, but I have enough problems to deal with. You know, in the real world.” I couldn’t bring myself to tell Matt that I’d been officially declared magically deficient. Not when he’d always referred to me as “the next coven leader,” after my mother. Instead, I glanced at the shards at my feet and shook my head in despair. Randy was definitely going to make me pay for these broken vodka bottles. Just add it to my tab. “Sorry, but you need to leave me alone, so I can deal with this, okay?”

I started upstairs to get the broom…but didn’t make it past the third step before his form appeared again on the next highest step. Inches between us.

“You have no idea what your real problems are, Alexandra.”

I froze.

Walk right through him, I told myself. You’ve done it before. But Matt’s chiseled face, swathed in desperation, held my full attention. Something had changed there since I last saw him—startling, given that he was incorporeal. In the last ten years, he hadn’t aged one hour. Funny, how I used to think of him as an older guy. Now he looked about my age. The dark purple bruises flowering along his square jaw hadn’t healed. Nor had the bloody gash down his pillowy lower lip—the one part of him that looked incongruously boyish. It was his eyes that had changed.

“I need your help, Alexandra.” His dark eyes, once warm and charming, burned with an urgency that put fear into my heart. “Please.”

 

Author Bio:

Spells and skyscrapers. Warriors and warlocks. Coven secrets and forbidden romances. Sierra Cross lives for urban fantasy, for modern magic and the bold supernatural beings who stalk our contemporary world. Her Spelldrift universe stars kickass witches and their heroic guardians, as well as vampires, shifters, mages, Fidei, and the dark demonic forces that threaten them all.

 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! RISE by Karina Bliss (A Rock Solid romance)

Finally, Zander’s story–totally worth the wait!

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 “You have the ability to make controversial characters sympathetic. Maybe I just want to be understood.”

Acclaimed literary biographer Elizabeth Winston writes about long-dead heroes. So bad boy rock icon Zander Freedman couldn’t possibly tempt her to write his memoir. Except the man is a mass of fascinating contradictions – manipulative, honest, gifted, charismatic, morally ambiguous.

In short, everything she sought in a biography subject. When in her life will she get another chance to work with a living legend? But saying yes to one temptation soon leads to another.

Suddenly she’s having heated fantasies about her subject, fantasies this blue-eyed-devil is only too willing to stoke. She’d thought self-control was in her DNA, after all she grew up a minister’s daughter. She thought wrong.

Outside your comfort zone is the only place worth living…

Zander Freedman has been an outlier – many would say an outcast – for most of his life. But there’s no disaster he can’t overcome, from the break-up of his band to the fall-out on his reputation. His Resurrection Tour is shaping up to be his greatest triumph – if his golden voice holds out. Contracting a respected biographer is simply about creating more buzz; Elizabeth’s integrity the key to consolidating his legacy as one of rock’s greats.

All the damn woman has to do is write down what he tells her. Not make him think.

Or encourage the good guy struggling to get out. And certainly not to fall in love for the first time in his life.

Turns out he is scared of something – being known.

Rise – a redemption story of a rock star going straight(er) through the love of a good(ish) woman.

Review:

I first encountered Zander Freedman in Bring Him Home and then again in A Prior Engagement (which you don’t have to have read to enjoy this one–it’s fine as a standalone), where he wasn’t the most appealing of characters, but there was definitely something about him. He’s apparently a full-on villain in What the Librarian Did , which has leapfrogged up my TBR list now–it’ll help me from wanting to strangle him with his guitar strap, having the insight into his true character that we finally get inRise. (And Karina’s notes at the end of the book promise that he–and Elizabeth–will be back in future books in the series–bonus!)

I loved this book! Elizabeth and Zander are fantastic characters, and you can’t help but root for them both from page one even when what they each want doesn’t appear to be in the same stratosphere. Their encounters right from the beginning are witty, funny, and not without a healthy dose of steam. Here’s one of their first altercations, when Zander is trying to convince Elizabeth to take on his biography project, after he’s already fired biographers numbers one and two:

“What’s your dream, Elizabeth? Hell, that’s a mouthful. Liz.”

“Dream? And I prefer Elizabeth.”

“Imagine that money’s no object, Lizzy. I added a syllable because I’m a guy willing to compromise. What would you do?”

The spark of annoyance that he wouldn’t use her name shielded her against his sex appeal. “I’d take six months sabbatical, go to the States and research my next project, Alex.”

Zander’s eyes narrowed, then he smiled an angel’s smile to go with the wings. “And what’s your next project, Eliza? Three syllables, that’s more than meeting you halfway.”

Yeah, I could tell from this conversation that it was going to be one heck of a ride. The rest of the book did not disappoint.

Ms. Bliss did a great job of making Zander into a sympathetic character–as always, he’s not apologetic for what he’s done in the past, though at least now he recognizes what he did wrong and is sorry for it, there’s no excuses made. He tries to keep the worst of it from Elizabeth (and for the most part, from us), believing it will change how she sees him, but of course it doesn’t. It doesn’t hurt that the thing he is most ashamed of is the one that is easiest for everyone but him to forgive. We finally see what makes the infamous Zander Freedman tick, and it makes him an amazing hero.

Elizabeth thought she was content with her life–teaching and writing historical biographies, enjoying a close relationship with her family and elderly neighbor–but as we soon see through Zander’s eyes, her family, at least, neither truly understands her nor truly appreciates her. (Not that they’re exactly willful in this–Elizabeth is used to her pigeonholed role in the family. She herself isn’t even aware of the disparity for most of the book.) She resists Zander for as long as she can, turned on and frustrated by him in equal measure (and usually both at the same time). By the time they start on their “secret” and “temporary” relationship, I was practically screaming at them to just tell the other one how they were feeling, for Pete’s sake!

But of course they don’t for pages and pages and pages, because that’s not their style–and then we wouldn’t have such a satisfying story.

And oh, it is a satisfying story. I was dying to get to their HEA, but at the same time didn’t want the book to end. Knowing I’ll see them both again–and looking forward to reading about Zander’s more ruthless and selfish past in his brother Devon’s book–was a definite consolation when I finally got to the end.

Write fast, Ms. Bliss! 🙂

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

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About the AuthorKarina Bliss

New Zealander Karina Bliss’s debut, Mr Imperfect, won a Romantic Book of the Year award in Australia, the first of eleven books published through Harlequin SuperRomance. Her most recent release, A Prior Engagement, was a Desert Island Keeper at likesbooks.com. Her next release, Rise, is a single title, self-published contemporary which continues the story of Zander Freedman, who first appeared as a villain inKarina’s bestselling title, What the Librarian Did – a book that made DearAuthor’s Best of the Year list in 2010.Two of Karina’s books have also featured in Sizzling Book Chats at SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.

Find out more at www.karinabliss.com

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Karina Bliss, Author of RISE, Talks About Making Opposites Attract (with a giveaway!)

I can’t wait to read this one!

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The rock star & the academic: Making opposites attract
By Karina Bliss

 

I love the opposites-attract trope, ‘You say toe-ma-toe, I say toe-mate-o’. (FYI, as a Kiwi, I say it the first way). I couldn’t have written two people more different than my egotistical, rock-star bad boy Zander Freedman and my warm-hearted, church-brat academic Elizabeth Winston.

With opposites, it’s easy to see what’s keeping your characters apart. But when you’re writing romance, what’s more important is what brings and binds these two together. What do they have in common? Both Zander and Elizabeth are smart, independent, take-charge people who share a similar sense of the ridiculous, and I made sure my plot gave them opportunities to join forces.

I found this wonderful Oscar Wilde quote, which I adopted as my theme for Rise. “Every saint has a past, and every sinner a future.” As I wrote the book, it reminded me to add dimensions to my story characters. Just because my heroine is a good person doesn’t mean she lacks a wild side, and vice versa for the hero.

Opposites or not, the hero and heroine need to appreciate each other in a way no one else does. In Zander, Elizabeth sees a caretaker hero, capable of kindness and vulnerability. In Elizabeth, Zander sees a wolf in sheep’s clothing, someone as adventurous as he is.

In a romance, the challenge for opposites is to incorporate the qualities of the other – the qualities they lack – so two halves become a perfect whole.

Can you recommend favorite romances that use this dynamic? Enter the Release Giveaway and go into the draw for an e-book of Rise.

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Adult Contemporary Rockstar Romance

Release: January 28, 2015

“You have the ability to make controversial characters sympathetic. Maybe I just want to be understood.”

Acclaimed literary biographer Elizabeth Winston writes about long-dead heroes. So bad boy rock icon Zander Freedman couldn’t possibly tempt her to write his memoir. Except the man is a mass of fascinating contradictions – manipulative, honest, gifted, charismatic, morally ambiguous.

In short, everything she sought in a biography subject. When in her life will she get another chance to work with a living legend? But saying yes to one temptation soon leads to another.

Suddenly she’s having heated fantasies about her subject, fantasies this blue-eyed-devil is only too willing to stoke. She’d thought self-control was in her DNA, after all she grew up a minister’s daughter. She thought wrong.

Outside your comfort zone is the only place worth living…

Zander Freedman has been an outlier – many would say an outcast – for most of his life. But there’s no disaster he can’t overcome, from the break-up of his band to the fall-out on his reputation. His Resurrection Tour is shaping up to be his greatest triumph – if his golden voice holds out. Contracting a respected biographer is simply about creating more buzz; Elizabeth’s integrity the key to consolidating his legacy as one of rock’s greats.

All the damn woman has to do is write down what he tells her. Not make him think.

Or encourage the good guy struggling to get out. And certainly not to fall in love for the first time in his life.

Turns out he is scared of something – being known.

Rise – a redemption story of a rock star going straight(er) through the love of a good(ish) woman.

Add to your Goodreads list!

Amazon Print | Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

 

 

About the Author

New Zealander Karina Bliss’s debut, Mr Imperfect, won a Romantic Book of the Year award in Australia, the first of eleven books published through Harlequin SuperRomance. Her most recent release, A Prior Engagement, was a Desert Island Keeper at likesbooks.com. Her next release, Rise, is a single title, self-published contemporary which continues the story of Zander Freedman, who first appeared as a villain in Karina’s bestselling title, What the Librarian Did – a book that made DearAuthor’s Best of the Year list in 2010.Two of Karina’s books have also featured in Sizzling Book Chats at SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.

Find out more at www.karinabliss.com

 

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Cover Reveal! RISE by Karina Bliss

 I LOVE Karina Bliss–can’t wait for this one!
(Plus–niiiiice cover 😉 )

Rise-KarinaBliss-1600x2400

Adult Contemporary Rockstar Romance

Release: January 28, 2015

“You have the ability to make controversial characters sympathetic. Maybe I just want to be understood.”

Acclaimed literary biographer Elizabeth Winston writes about long-dead heroes. So bad boy rock icon Zander Freedman couldn’t possibly tempt her to write his memoir. Except the man is a mass of fascinating contradictions – manipulative, honest, gifted, charismatic, morally ambiguous.

In short, everything she sought in a biography subject. When in her life will she get another chance to work with a living legend? But saying yes to one temptation soon leads to another.

Suddenly she’s having heated fantasies about her subject, fantasies this blue-eyed-devil is only too willing to stoke. She’d thought self-control was in her DNA, after all she grew up a minister’s daughter. She thought wrong.

Outside your comfort zone is the only place worth living…

Zander Freedman has been an outlier – many would say an outcast – for most of his life. But there’s no disaster he can’t overcome, from the break-up of his band to the fall-out on his reputation. His Resurrection Tour is shaping up to be his greatest triumph – if his golden voice holds out. Contracting a respected biographer is simply about creating more buzz; Elizabeth’s integrity the key to consolidating his legacy as one of rock’s greats.

All the damn woman has to do is write down what he tells her. Not make him think.

Or encourage the good guy struggling to get out. And certainly not to fall in love for the first time in his life.

Turns out he is scared of something – being known.

 

Rise – a redemption story of a rock star going straight(er) through the love of a good(ish) woman

 

Goodreads

 

 

About the Author:

New Zealander Karina Bliss’s debut, Mr Imperfect, won a Romantic Book of the Year award in Australia, the first of eleven books published through Harlequin SuperRomance. Her most recent release, A Prior Engagement, was a Desert Island Keeper at likesbooks.com. Her next release, Rise, is a single title, self-published contemporary which continues the story of Zander Freedman, who first appeared as a villain in Karina’s bestselling title, What the Librarian Did – a book that made DearAuthor’s Best of the Year list in 2010. Two of Karina’s books have also featured in Sizzling Book Chats at SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.

Find out more at www.karinabliss.com

 

 

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