Monday, August 14, 2017

Scott Hilbreth -- A Man And His Book

Scott Hildreth was born into this world early and plans on leaving late. Between his arrival and departure, he has written forty novels and has every intention of writing many more.

Despite falling in love with his wife, Jessica, late in life, Scott professes to be an authority on the subject of love, and his writing is a reflection of this belief.

His preferred careers of being a biker, military hero, mafia boss, boxer, vigilante, and tattoo artist will always be favorites, but as writing has become a full-time gig, he must live vicariously through the characters in his books who share his admiration for these professions.

The above blurb is copied from his Goodreads author page and I felt it would be helpful to read what he says about himself.  Scott is a new author for me -- not new in the sense that I had never encountered his books before, but for some reason that I can't recall, I have now started reading his work.  Not many books at this point, but I have now finished one of his biker MC series.

Set in So. California, this motorcycle club was started by a retired Navy SEAL with the club base set in Oceanside.  This immediately captured my attention since hubby and I lived in Temecula for 5 years and visited so many of the locations mentioned in these six books.  I think each of the books really can be read as a stand alone, but I found they linked together nicely.

BOBBI - Tate Reynolds was muscular, tattooed, and handsome. Seeing beyond his physical attributes allowed me to understand that the man beneath all the muscles was a compassionate, kind, and understanding romantic. I wanted him so bad I could taste it. There was only one real problem. 

He was an inmate in prison. 

And, I was a prison guard. 

TATE - Bobbi Madden was gorgeous. We talked every day for two months. During that time, I learned more about her than any other woman I'd ever met. I wanted to get my hands on her so bad I ached. 

But. Ex-cons and prison guards don't mix well in the real world. 

And, I was hopping on my Harley and heading back to the real world. 
If only... 

This is the 6th in the 6-book series and I have posted the cover here simply because it is the latest to be published.  The main character was mentioned briefly in previous books and centered around a man who was set up by the ATF because he was (1) a member of a 1% biker "gang," and (2) he had already spent 27 months in prison for a crime he didn't commit (as it turns out).  

The romance aspect of this story is slow to develop, but actually that was perfectly OK with me -- the character development was so well done that I really didn't mind that the two main characters sort of glanced off each other for a good portion of the story.  

All the stories in this series were captivating in their own way.  As mentioned already, I could picture so much of the background scenery because of my own personal history living in that area of So. California.  I was also fascinated with the fact that unlike so many of the 1% biker clubs, the Filthy Fuckers MC didn't indulge in illegal methods of making money for the club.  Now that didn't mean that they were opposed to skirting the law if that was called for, but they worked at their own professions and were focused on keeping their community free of drugs and functioning as sort of a shadow guardian organization.  The members of the FFMC all had their own reasons for joining, and exploring their issues and their journey toward more stable relationships were at the core of each of the books.

Scott Hildreth writes with a deft hand, uses language in a wonderful and totally readable fashion, and his books are well edited (poor editing is one of the issues that self-published authors seem to struggle with and one of my personal pet peeves).    I found the characters to be fascinating -- some were interesting because they were edgy and colorful in their actions and their conversations with other characters.  Some were interesting because their ordinariness stood in stark contrast to the characters that were, in many ways, out of step with anyone other than themselves.  Yet the stories brought these individuals together in a cohesive way and made the story move forward at a steady pace.

I happen to like biker romances.  Don't know why, and I am not going to spend much time trying to figure out the answer to that question.  I know that I am always fascinated with characters who set a path for themselves that is strictly their own, people who are undisturbed if others are upset or find their way of life disturbing.  Perhaps it is a source of good reading for me because I have often encountered  human distress and brokenness in my own profession so I am drawn to stories about people who discover a renewed energy for living through the restoring power of friendship and love.

I hope you can see your way clear to investigate Scott's writing.  There are a number of series available as well as single novels.  This particular series is terrific!!  I am delighted with this new reading discovery.  I hope you will be as well.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Books, books, and more books . . .

I opened my blog page for the first time in many months and realized I hadn't posted anything since December, 2015.  Really!!  I pondered whether to keep the blog going after all this time.  Not sure there are even any followers that check in from time to time since I have been absent for so long.

I decided to try to get back into the blogging thing just because I had enjoyed it, for one thing, and I still read mountains of books, digitally speaking, of course.  There are several reasons why I have been gone from the blogging universe for so long.

1.  I guess the main reason is that I miss my Southern California blogging pals.  Here in So. Middle Tennessee I have not connected with any blogging groups and it has been kind of lonely -- feeling like I am just hanging out all by myself.  Our So. Calif. group got together a couple times a year and it was such fun to put faces with names and share on a face to face basis.  Now after 4-1/2 years gone from that scene, I just feel like I am in a world of one.

2.  I had gotten really burned out on the book reviewing thing.  I did hundreds of reviews for The Book Binge and quite a few for this blog.  I also guest reviewed for my daughter once in awhile but her blog has now gone away as well.  I just got tired.  Being away from my full-time profession has also made a difference.  It seemed like I just read and read and read and moved from book to book to book, not really thinking about reviewing, and only making a few comments from time to time at

So I am picking up the mantle once again.  I am going to put some new stuff up on this page if I can remember how to do it all.  Hope some of you check back in from time to time and I will try to reach out to some of my blogger pals again.

Hope you are having a good summer and stay cool!!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Not Ready for Christmas yet . . . Still Hangin' on to Thanksgiving

That's right . . . I still want to hang on to Thanksgiving.  I love the family time, I love the quiet times of just sharing and of course, turkey, dressing, gravy, whipped potatoes, sweet potato casserole, Waldorf salad, and pumpkin pie are all my favorite foods.  

Yet there's something about taking time to re-examine the whole issue of gratitude.  I know down deep most of us have a profound sense of gratitude for the lives we lead, for the people who populate our homes and our lives, and for the abundance we all enjoy, even as we are thinking about all the "stuff" we still lust after.  I think there is so much that goes unsaid for much of my time.  I love being with my family, but I agree with those who point out that it is far too late to express our love at a graveside.  It's often embarrassing or we feel uncomfortable expressing our feelings to certain people.  I know when my kids were teens they really didn't welcome a mother that was overflowing with outward expressions of affection.

But now I look back on those days and regret not braving their displeasure in order to say what was in my heart.  I am reminded of those regrets at Thanksgiving, yet I think I am most blessed to still have them all in my life.  Now I have five grown grandkids, one who is just getting ready to enter high school, in-law children I value, and now three great-grandkids who are marvelous even as they are still toddlers and infants.  

I'm in that "tween time" between Christmas and Thanksgiving.  I shudder to think of the money flying out of my wallet for presents although I love giving to my family and friends.  But I'm still thinking about all the wonderful gifts of love and respect and joy they have brought into my life.  

Never fear . . . I'll get there.  Christmas will overwhelm soon enough.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Fun, Family, Romance and Suspence: It's All Here -- "Sinful Intent" by Chelle Bliss

It was supposed to be simple. Find the bad guy and save the girl.

I hadn’t expected Race True—a golden-haired beauty with a silver tongue that made me want to toss the rules aside.  I tried to fight my attraction to her, but she made it impossible.  Our chemistry became too much to ignore.

Temptation is dangerous.

In a moment of weakness, everything changed. We gave in to our carnal desires, letting ourselves drown in the passion we could no longer deny.  The problem was that I still had a job to do before her world collapsed.

If I failed at finding the person behind the threat, I’d lose Race forever.

This first book in a new series by this author is a spin-off from Men of Inked by Ms Bliss, a series that many of us really enjoyed.  The rambunctious carryings on by the Gallo Clan never seem to quit and as open hearted as they all seem to be, they are just as open in expressing their feelings about each other, romance, marriage, life in general and any subject that comes up in particular.  The previous novels focus on each of the Gallo siblings and this new series takes up the family saga but begins to focus on members of a new private investigative organization begun by Thomas Gallo and his sister's husband James.  Into this new configuration comes Morgan DeLuca, cousin to Thomas.  Morgan's mother is sister to Uncle Sal Gallo.  Morgan has just returned from eight years in the military where he was an intelligence-gathering individual in the Middle East.  His skills make him particularly suited to the investigative tasks at ALFA PI and he happily relocates from Chicago where the winters drive him crazy, to Florida with its tropical climate.  The only problem is that his mom decides that she is going to follow him.  Oh well, it's called "Taking the good with the bad."

This is Morgan's adventure, to be sure, but the novel is also the tale of a woman who seems to have lost everyone who is important to her.  Her beloved father was killed when Race was 12, her mother has blamed her ever since for her father's death, and now she has parted company permanently with her mom.  She has poured her heart and soul into building her career and even that is now threatened.  It is this which has brought her to the ALFA PI guys and it is here that she meets Morgan.  

Their story is filled with coming and going, hot and cold, on again-off again involvement.  Even when their relationship seems to have come to a settled phase, all is overshadowed by the increasing menace of a stalker, someone who is threatening Race in a very personal and hurtful way.

This is a really terrific read and has so much going on in it from page one.  I don't think anyone will not like the family dynamics, the rockem-sockem repartee between the Gallo men and those around them, the hot and erotic encounters between the characters, and the tension which is a part of the danger growing around Race and Morgan.  It is all tied together by an invincible bond of family love and acceptance.  

Beautifully written and told in the first person throughout, shifting POV and changing venues, readers will be delighted with all the complications, the threads of the story that the author so skillfully weaves together into a terrific book.  I hope the novels keep coming.  There are still so many interesting characters whose stories need telling in this panoply of players.  Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I Can Do Just Fine Without a Man! Can't I? "Bunny and the Beast" by Heather Rainer

Hard-working, strong, and sassy, Bunny Carrigan desires a simple life, far away from the complications of the big city, posh houses, and materialism. She makes her own rules and has no time for pushy men in fancy suits or playing games.

Joseph Hazelle enjoys taking control and has very set ideas about what the ideal submissive looks and acts like. In fact, his ideas are so set they might as well be concrete. Vibrant and full of life, Bunny challenges Joseph’s preconceived notions and she’s determined that if she submits at all, it’s going to be on her own terms.

Accustomed to being the instructor, Joseph discovers that Bunny has claimed his lonely heart and has a thing or two to teach him. All he has to do is educate her about his world and convince her that she does indeed “do” submission. What could go wrong?

Those of us who have read and re-read the Divine Creek novels are always delighted when a new book comes along.  Where Ms Rainier comes up with these fun characters is locked in the depth of her imagination.  They come alive on these pages and for those of us who feel like we know this community backward and forward, meeting new folks or exploring characters who have already shown up previously makes reading these books a very satisfying experience.  

I have found that all Ms Rainier's books are really focused on needs and issues these characters manifest, most if not all are those we all experience or find living in those we love or in friends and co-workers.  Yes, this is erotic romance and that's just what it is.  Yet there are some very real human bits and pieces that I think most readers recognize in these characters.  It is one of the main reasons we who love this series keep coming back for more.  No matter if the context is one in which a reader has never indulged, the issues of living and loving are common to all of us.  

For the hero, Joseph Hazelle, life has become predictable and he has become set in a lifestyle that seems to be just as he has ordered it.  While he comes and goes as any ordinary man does, he lives in a bubble of his own making and it takes the antics and unpredictable manners of a young woman who is anything but staid, submissive, or whose days are ordinary.  Bunny Carrigan has not had it easy and she has learned to meet life head-on. It's almost as if she head-butts her way through her days, very sensitive to anything or anyone who seems to put her down or make her feel less about herself or what she does.  The last thing she can even imagine is turning her life and her future over to someone who thinks he knows better than she does.  And even though the glow of aliveness surrounds her and draws Joseph like a moth to a flame, she wants nothing to do with any way of living that she believes will take away her self-determination or her right to order her own life.

What doesn't show up right at first is that underneath the external realities of their lives, both these people are desperately lonely, so very weary of being disconnected and of not really being valued for who they are at their core.  Both have spent so much time working to manage their lives, they have not left time for the nurture of their inner selves.  Joseph is amazed that he comes alive when Bunny is around, even though she really rubs him raw at times.  Bunny, on the other hand, has never had anyone upon whom she could lean, who could help her carry the burdens of a difficult life, who truly cares enough to put her first simply because she is a beautiful and sensual woman and not because of what she can do for him.  Joseph's dominant ways go over like a cement canary at first, but as he learns to look deeper into her life and into his own heart, he finds ways of slowly drawing her into a new relationship.

This book has just a bit different flavor than many of the books in this series.  I'm not really sure what it is but it just feels that way to me.  Yet it still bears the unmistakable marks of Ms Rainier's quest for exposing the humanity in her characters and for connecting her readers to the action in her stories.  Whether it is in Joseph's BDSM world or in Bunny's world of rush, rush, rush from dawn to dusk, we all recognize the need to be truly be important to someone who will esteem us and partner with us in this task known as living.  I think this is at the core of this story.  I read this book through twice because I was fascinated with how different these two were from not only many of the characters in Divine, but how they seemed so very unlikely as lovers.  Yet what brought them together was that recognition that the other brought alive a need that they had either chosen to ignore or which had lain dormant for far too long.

As always, this novel is beautifully written and flows seamlessly from scene to scene.   It is the kind of romance that drew me in because I was fascinated to watch these two people somehow connect when I couldn't imagine that they ever would manage it.  It is the kind of story that will pique one's interest and hold it for the duration.  Ms Rainier has a winner here and I hope that you all will avail yourself of this terrific book.

And while you're at it, check out The Book Binge for more really great reviews.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Growing Up The Hard Way: "The Liberty Series" by Leigh James

My name is Liberty and I'm a good girl. I come from nothing. I have no one but myself. Sometimes I do things I don't want to -- I do them because I have to. Stripping. That's my life in Vegas. And my boss keeps pressuring me to do more than just take my clothes off... 
Then John Carter Quinn crashes into my life. He's an older, gorgeous billionaire in a thousand dollar suit. He keeps coming to see me, night after night. I'm not sure what he wants -- but one night at my club he takes down a bad guy, and I find out what type of business he's actually in. Hint: he doesn't sit at a desk, he employs a bunch of ex-military operatives, and it's lethal to be on his bad side. 
Like me, John has his share of secrets. Dark secrets, dark pain. One of his secrets involves my past. These secrets will bring us together... and then tear us apart. 

This series was released earlier this year but I know that I had read portions of it previously.  However, this is the first time I had put the entire story together in its proper context and everything made much more sense than had been the case in the past.  Some of the reviews of this series have not always been glowing, but I have to say that looking at it from the point of view that Liberty just needed to "grow up" and slot in all the experiences she was having into her maturing process made the book better for me.  

I guess having grown daughters and granddaughters, watching them struggle and learn and grow, all helped me appreciate that Liberty had to experience some of the highs and lows in her life in order to move beyond her evident naivete and her fear of life.  Being shackled to a junkie mother didn't help, and then having the responsibility of caring for a woman who really chose drugs over both her daughters made her close in on herself.  Add in a potentially abusive drug dealer who really cared for nothing and no one except himself and you have a young woman who doesn't trust her own judgment and yet must make some life decisions that may or may not be wise.  

This author has put together a cast of characters that all hold their own even though Liberty and John take center stage.  John's early life experiences have formed him into a hard man who finds his only joy in "taking out the bad guys" that fall through the law enforcement cracks.  John's dad is a caring and understanding man who still grieves the loss of John's mother but who wisely allows John to pursue his chosen life path.  Yet their is deep sadness and regret that colors all of John's experiences and even though his new relationship with Liberty had brought a sense of contentment and "coming home" into his life, he still is broken by loss and grief.  Putting these two broken people together into a relationship that seems lopsided is something that this author pulled off well.  The story moves along, albeit it does stumble from time to time, and I got just a little weary of the fight scenes, but that may say more about me than about the story itself.  Even so, the thrust of the story never seemed to waver, IMHO.  I think all of it was intended to bring the reader into Liberty's experience more deeply.  And I think the author succeeded in that goal.

All in all, this is a good series of stories, taking Liberty from the stage of a seedy stripper club, to the jungles of So. America, to the terror of a Mexican drug cartel, and into the politics of a highly dysfunctional family unit she had not idea of which she was a part.  No wonder she was overwhelmed.  Yet in the end, I think she put the puzzle pieces of herself together, saw more clearly who she was capable of being, and finding a path toward greater contentment than ever she hoped to find.  The books are well written and I think the editing was good, surely a good thing for those of us who read so many badly edited books.  Don't be put off by the ups and downs in this woman's life.  It's part of the growing and maturation process.  She makes some foolish choices and she and those she loves pay dearly.  But she learns and her life experience expands.  A really good read when all is said and done.  I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

Check out The Book Binge for some really good reviews on the latest books.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Screwing Up The Best Laid Plans: Riding Dirty by Jill Sorenson

Psychologist Mia Richards wants revenge. Her new client, tattooed Cole "Shank" Shepherd, provides the perfect means. She just has to manipulate the felon-turned-informant into eliminating her husband's killers—members of Cole's rival motorcycle club. The first step, seducing Cole, is simple. As for walking away before she falls hard—it's already too late…

Dirty Eleven practically raised Cole, and he plans to double-cross the cops rather than sell them out. But smart, sexy Mia is an irresistible distraction. While she's evaluating his mind, all he can think about is her body… until he discovers her true intentions. Walking a fine line between desire and betrayal, they'll have to outrun her past, his enemies and the law for a love that's dangerously real.

Motorcycle club fiction is all the rage now, and I, for one, and delighted that is so.  I guess it is sort of walking on the wild side for those of us who are way past getting involved in that sort of lifestyle, yet the human interaction of those who live on the outer edges of society still manage to fascinate.  This is a new book which I received from Netgalley and which is being currently released.  There is a sequel which is called Shooting Dirty and which, in my opinion, is every bit as good and deserves to be read as well.

It has been said that . . . "revenge is a dish best served cold." Mia is anything BUT cold . . . she is burning up with the need to find justice for herself and her deceased husband.   Yet for this intrepid woman whose life has been upended by the murder of her husband, revenge has sustained her and kept her focused in the years since the home invasion that resulted in the death of her husband and her near-rape at the hands of members of an outlaw motorcycle club.  The hero in this story is just about as anti-social as they come, a young man whose life really never had a chance and whose spirit has been crushed by the abuse of family and the disregard of a society who sees him as a throw away person.  Yet the attraction between these two has a curious effect which spins this tale in directions neither the reader or the characters could have anticipated.  It is a complicated story, filled with characters who aren't your desirable good neighbor kinds of people.  Yet the loyalty that many have for one another goes far beyond that which many of us experience among people who think themselves of a far better class.  

The Dirty Eleven MC is a curious collection of social misfits and is a club that is happy to live on the edge most of the time.  But their secrets are in danger of causing the ties that bind them together to unwind, and the pressures exerted by a rival gang, one which may have been involved in the murder of Mia's husband, are another important factor in the unlikely coupling between "Shank" and Mia.  If a reader likes complicated stories, if one is not offended by the anti-social attitudes and actions that characterize these people and their lifestyle, than this will be a very enjoyable read.  Ms Sorenson is an author who has paid her dues, so to speak, and who has proven to vast numbers of readers that she can put a vibrant and imaginative story together and make it work.  I was delighted to find this novel and highly recommend it as one that will definitely hold your interest.  I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

Be sure to check out The Book Binge for more fine reviews of the latest romance fiction.