MelanieM’s Best Books of 2014

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Best Books of 2014

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MelanieM’s Best Books of 2014

 

Winnowing down my list of Best Books is always a near impossible project.  To me it always feels like trying to leave a book shop during a particularly wonderful sale.  My arms are full to overflowing with books, with ones toppling off the pile here and there as I totter over to the sales counter.  My impulse is to go back and get more because all are books I loved and need to have near me.  Sigh.  And this year makes it particularly hard.  So many great books came out this year,  terrific short stories,, fabulous endings to series I love…..so this is as close as I got…check it all out below:

Best Series:

 Best Holiday/Whatever Time of the Year Anthologies:

Best Contemporary Fiction:

 

Best Science Fiction:

Best Fantasy:

 

Best Supernatural/Paranormal:

 

A MelanieM Review: Radiant Burn (Fighting Fire #5) (Pulp Friction 2014 #17) by Laura Harner

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Radiant Burn coverScott McGregor almost has it all.  He’s finally living with the man he loves, Rob Hammond along with Rob’s children.  And the group of diverse group of people who live at Mountain Shadows Campground have become a family to one another.  But still problems lurk all around waiting to destroy his happiness and new life.  His nightmares are increasing and Scott realizes that he needs to uncover the truth and face his fears before he can put that part of his life behind him.

Twelve years ago, Scott and Rob Hammond’s relationship exploded, and torn them apart. Now Rob and his children are happily living with Scott and Rob is about to leave his job to help Scott run Mountain Shadows. But even as Scott and Rob’s relationship continues to deepen, Rob must help Scott work through his PTSD and the path to recovery leads to Phoenix and the only other firefighter that survived that day.

As Scott and Rob struggle to help Scott finally put his past behind him, another danger appears on the horizon.  Scott and Rob are so close to their HEA.  Can they overcome the last obstacles and finally get the future they want and deserve?

So close. With Radiant Burn (Fighting Fire #5), we are so close to the HEA Laura Harner has been promising us since we first met Scott MacGregor and Rob Hammond in Firestorm (Fighting Fire #1).  We’ve delved into their painful past, watched the tumultuous climb to a new relationship in the present and hoped for a bright future for them all.  Now, its almost here and the anticipation and buildup is enough to make any reader a little crazy.

Why?  Because as we all know, nothing is ever easy or straightforward in a Pulp Friction or Laura Harner series.  There’s never just one barrier to overcome, more a veritable obstacle course of hurdles that the characters must leap over or work through to get to their HEA.  That’s the joy and more than a little of the frustration (in a good way of course) that we find with these stories and characters.

One main element has been Scott’s PTSD.  His days and nights are riddled with nightmares and flashbacks, which are providing a barrier of their own to a happy future. Scott needs to face the truth about that fire and the circumstances that caused his injuries and those of the only other survivor.  Harner has dropped hints and clues about that fatal wildfire and now we are all about to get some answers.  They will be startling, shocking even, while leaving Scott and the readers with a well earned sense of relief and closure.  But as I said, with this series and Laura Harner at the helm, nothing is ever resolved that simply.

Why?  Because there is a larger scheme at work at Mountain Shadows, one that has been alluded to in some scenes, hinted at in others.  This mystery has no shape or definition yet. Instead it has been creeping like a dense fog over the campground and its inhabitants. And with each story and series, it has been gaining in complexity and size. What it is and who is behind it…well, we have no idea.  Just vague suggestions and assumptions, nothing concrete.  That’s to be left to the series finale, the last story to be written by all four authors to pull the myriad plot threads and relationships together in one explosive and ultimately satisfying crescendo of multiple tales.

Laura Harner’s Fighting Fire stories, Radiant Burn among them, has been a wonderful angst filled, sexy, white knuckle ride.  Our companions have been men who have been believably complex human beings who continue to strive for a happily ever after, no matter what wounds life and experience has inflicted upon them.  It’s been a wow of a trip and we are almost at our destination.  One final station to go….I can hardly wait.

Radiant Heat (Fighting Fire #5) and the entire Elemental Connections Pulp Friction 2014 joint series is one of Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words most highly recommended reads.  They will all occupy a special place on our Best of 2014 List this year.

If you are new to the series or Pulp Friction 2014, run, don’t walk, to the first stories in each series.  I have listed them all below for your convenience.  This is one spectacular journey you won’t want to miss!   Happy Reading!

 

Cover Art by Laura Harner.  Terrific cover that works to brand the series and the characters Scott and Rob.

Sales Links:   All Romance eBooks (ARe)           amazon             Buy it Here

Book Details:

ebook, 69 pages
Published September 12th 2014 by Hot Corner Press
ISBN139781937252892
edition languageEnglish
seriesPulp Friction 2014 #17, Fighting Fire #5
charactersScott McGregor, Rob Ham

About Pulp Friction 2014

Pulp Friction 2014 Authors: Laura Harner ~ Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ T.A. Webb
The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends.
The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth.

Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment. All stories have been read and reviewed at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

The Pulp Friction 2014 series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, events and plot:

Round One:
Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1)by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Whispering Winds: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by TA Webb

Round Two:
Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Whispering Winds #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by TA Webb

Round Three:
Backburn (Fighting Fire #3) by Laura Harner
Cold Feet (In From the Cold #3) by Lee Brazil
Blown Hard (Whispering Winds #3) by Havan Fellows
Tremors (Earthquake #3) by T.A. Webb

Round Four:
Flare-up (Fighting Fire #4) by Laura Harner
Out In The Cold (In From the Cold #4) by Lee Brazil
Blown Chance (Whispering Winds #4) by Havan Fellows
Aftershocks (Earthquake #4) by T.A. Webb

Round Five:
Radiant Burn (Fighting Fire #5) by Laura Harner
Cold Day in Hell (In From the Cold #5) by Lee Brazil
Final Blow (Whispering Winds #5) by Havan Fellows
Terra Firma (Earthquake #5) by T.A. Webb

Sixth Book Series Finale Written by all the Authors coming in December.

Side Stories or Interludes:

Taking Chances by Lee Brazil (a In From the Cold story)
Wicked Winds (Whispering Winds 3.5) by Havan Fellows – bonus book, Whispering Winds
Frankie’s Knight (Elemental Connections: IV) (Earthquake #3.5)
Kismet & Cartwheels – bonus book, Fighting Fire

A MelanieM Review: Final Blow (Whispering Winds #5) (Pulp Friction 2014 #19) by Havan Fellows

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Ratings:  5 Stars out of 5

Final Blow coverRowen Smithe fought his demons, in this case the people who turned a 14 year old boy into a warped nightmare of a man.  But Rowen escaped them but never the darkness they created inside him.  Now, with the events of the past weeks behind them, Rowen is finally prepared to start living again, this time with Mick, the man who helped free his soul and stole his heart. But in the aftermath of the horror and killing, things have changed and now its Mick that the darkness has swallowed and Rowen is uncertain how to help the man he loves regain what he has lost.

Mick Rutger was a happy-go-lucky type of guy, a feeling he liked. But his encounters up close with Rowen’s past and the events that followed have left Mick with feelings of hatred and rage, feelings he is unprepared to deal with. Drowning under his fears, nightmares, and anger, Mick closes himself off to the outside world in a drastic measure of protection.  Just when Rowe has finally opened up to him and Mick had hopes for their future together.

Both men will have to battle the darkness one more time if they hope for that HEA and trust that their sanity won’t be lost forever.

Final Blow is the penultimate story in Havan Fellows’ Whispering Winds (PF2014) series.  I have loved both of her characters, but especially the damaged Rowen Smithe from the very start.  Mick Rutger was Rowe’s opposite, always he seemed to be that affable and lighthearted golden bouncing after the haunted, dark soul that was Rowe.  It was Mick who drew Rowen out of the cabin, or down from his tree, ever so slowly out of the silence and isolation that Rowen had wrapped himself in.  It was a beautiful balance between the sun and the night, a twilight journey the reader was thrilled to be on along with Mick and Rowen.  For every heartbreaking reveal from Rowen, Fellows gifted us with an endearing scene of Mick beckoning Rowen further out of his shell.  Remember this scene from Blown Kisses?

Huh?

Rowen sat quiet for a second, wondering where the extra noise came from when it happened again, and he looked up to the right.

“Shit…” he muttered under his breath. Someone was knocking on his door.

He turned his body, slowly moved the curtain out of the way, and with only his right eye, peered out the window. He couldn’t see the front door from this window, but he wondered if a certain.

Two clear pale blue eyes stared back at him, crinkled around the edges undoubtedly because of the smile Rowen couldn’t see from this close. Mick moved back enough to lift up Filigree—no, the stray cat—and wave her paw at Rowen.

I laughed about that scene all the way through the terrors that followed, and the glimpses of hope for a future together that the author allowed us to see.  Consistently, just when things were at their worst, Fellows incorporated lighter elements to alleviate the heaviness and strain that has been a major factor in this series.  And always it was Mick who was the bearer of light tidings.

But in Blown Chance, there was a major reversal of roles between Mick and Rowen, the dynamics of which are just being felt here in Final Blow.  Now we see the trauma and rage those acts have visited upon Mick as well an uncertain Rowen trying to reach out and  save the man he finally acknowledges that he loves.  It’s an unsettling turnabout for all and it heightens the vulnerabilities and frailties of both characters like we have never seen them before.

Havan Fellows reveals Mick as a character far more complex and layered then he originally appeared to be.  It makes the relationship we have seen develop between the tortured Rowe and Mick more authentic and believable.  If there is to be a yin to his yang, then it also needs to be on equal ground with matching complexities and overtones. The author accomplishes that hard-won balance in Final Blow.  Here her characters find themselves in situations that require them to achieve a certain amount of emotional growth and healing in order to move forward, hopefully together.  It was painful and wonderful and immensely satisfying to see characters we have come to love reach out for each other and more, much, much more.

I love Final Blow as I have all the preceeding stories in this series.  But there is one last story to come.  There are still monsters at play and demons to vanquish.  Who and what they are is still to be revealed.  I can’t wait for December to come.

But until then, grab up this marvelous series if you haven’t already.  Make the acquaintances of Rowen Smithe (who definitely give Wicked Templeton a run for the money as favorite Fellows character) and Mick Rutger.  Start at the beginning, enjoy the journey to love  and HEA.  Its one of the top series of the  year, along with its interconnected Pulp Friction 2014 series, all of which are listed below.

Cover artist:  Laura Harner consistently delivers a great branding job with the series and the PulpFriction 2014 logo.

Sales Links:  All Romance eBook (ARe)   amazon   Final Blow

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 50 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by Appleton Publishing Avenue
original titleFinal Blow (Whispering Winds #5) (Pulp Friction 2014 #20)
ASINB00OII4ZRE
edition languageEnglish
seriesPulp Friction 2014 #19, Whispering Winds

About Pulp Friction 2014

Pulp Friction  2014 Authors: Laura Harner ~ Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ T.A. Webb
The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends.
The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth.

Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment. All stories have been read and reviewed at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

The Pulp Friction 2014 series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, events and plot:

Round One:
Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1)by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Whispering Winds: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by TA Webb

Round Two:
Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Whispering Winds #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by TA Webb

Round Three:
Backburn (Fighting Fire #3) by Laura Harner
Cold Feet (In From the Cold #3) by Lee Brazil
Blown Hard (Whispering Winds #3) by Havan Fellows
Tremors (Earthquake #3) by T.A. Webb

Round Four:
Flare-up (Fighting Fire #4) by Laura Harner
Out In The Cold (In From the Cold #4) by Lee Brazil
Blown Chance (Whispering Winds #4) by Havan Fellows
Aftershocks (Earthquake #4) by T.A. Webb

Round Five:
Radiant Burn (Fighting Fire #5) by Laura Harner
Cold Day in Hell (In From the Cold #5) by Lee Brazil
Final Blow (Whispering Winds #5) by Havan Fellows
Terra Firma (Earthquake #5) by T.A. Webb

Sixth Book Series Finale Written by all the Authors coming in December.

Side Stories or Interludes:

Taking Chances by Lee Brazil (a In From the Cold story)
Wicked Winds (Whispering Winds 3.5) by Havan Fellows – bonus book, Whispering Winds
Frankie’s Knight (Elemental Connections: IV) (Earthquake #3.5)
Kismet & Cartwheels – bonus book, Fighting Fire

A MelanieM Review: Cold Day in Hell (In From the Cold #5) (Pulp Friction 2014 #18) by Lee Brazil

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

 You’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs… 

Cold Day In Hell coverCannon Malloy has been through hell and back, from the horrific events in Atlanta to the loss of his career as a surgeon in that aftermath.  But moving to Arizona has changed him.  Mountain Shadows campground has given Cannon not only a new family of friends, but a man he has come to love like no other, Finn Lorensson.   But recently Finn has been acting remote and secretive.  Just when Cannon is ready for the final commitment for them both.

Finn Lorensson is in trouble.  His big heart and concern for Cannon allowed him to make some poor judgements that have put himself and his relationship in danger.  But what is he to do?  All he wants is a future with Cannon but now that seems to be in jeopardy.  One thing Finn realizes is that it will be a cold day in hell when he lets the man he loves walk away.  Now if only he had a solution for their problems…

Here we are, Cold Day in Hell – Story 5 (or 18 depending upon how you are counting), and the stakes have never been higher for  both of  our remarkable main characters.  It has taken two series, with more heartache and pain than any character should go through,  to get Cannon Malloy to this point in his life.  Lee Brazil has taken us on a journey that saw the reader disliking Cannon because of his treatment of Chance (PF2013) of Chance’s Are, then slowly bring about this character’s evolution. Cannon has grown from  a self centered story irritant to a complex man finally coming out of the closet and into his personality.  It has been a rough and tumble sort of metamorphosis that involved a psychotic killer, a Dom, a lot of regret and finally a move to Flagstaff, AZ.   And every painful step forward that this complex, intelligent man has taken moved the reader closer to him as an individual and a part of the Cannon/Finn coupledom,

If you had told me I would end up loving Cannon Mallow after my initial impressions, well, let’s just say my disbelief would have been huge! But Lee Brazil has skillfully made this progression of feelings towards Cannon resolve itself into one of compassion for and understanding of  a man in transition at a later point in his life.  We now “get” Cannon, his issues and the road he had to travel to become the man that Finn Lorensson loves today.  And that was partially made possible by the marvelous character of Finn Lorensson himself.  What a noble (overly so), self sacrificing (yes too much), hugely brilliant Viking of a man!  Brazil has constructed a man you want to jump because of his brain and body, and then smack upside the head because of his actions.  Is  Finn believable?  Absolutely, which makes it both hilariouis and frustrating when the actions run counter to those the readers want to happen.  And sometimes that behavior turns the  story dark and scary.

Pulling the pieces of  their various pasts back into the picture and their relationship is a large element of this story.  Cannon’s children, Finn’s past actions…it all needs to come out and coalesce  for Cannon and Finn to have a future together.  How Lee Brazil does that is both the charm and the terror of this story.  What a dichotomy!  Cannon’s grown children need to see the man their father has become and the life he has made for himself in Arizona.  Finn needs to resolve the mounting problems  he created, out of the best intentions of course, that now threaten everything he loves and has worked for.  Family and threat to family, loving relationships balanced by those that were never meant to happen. And while we (and our heartstrings) are zigging and zagging along the many plot twists Brazil has in store for us, the siren song of Cannon and Finn’s love has never been stronger.  It is that ocean swell that carries us and the men along to that final story and, hopefully, their HEA.

Yes, one more group story to go.  Just one.  One to tie up all the loose ends (and there are many).  Bring all the lovers, their famlies together for a resolution we can cheer for because we have so much invested in these characters and their stories.   So look forward to December and in the meantime, if you are already along on this journey, get prepared by reading Cold Day in Hell by Lee Brazil.  It’s a heartgrabber, just like the men it revolves around.  If you are new to the series,  back, back, I say!  Go to the beginning and start there with this series and all the rest.  Don’t miss out on a story, not one.

Cold Day in Hell takes it’s place among the top stories/series of the year for Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  See you back here in December for the finale!   Happy Reading.

Cover art by Laura Harner.  These covers are wonderful.  The artist does a great job branding the series with the logo and the model works for the character.

Sales Links:    All Romance eBooks    amazon   Cold Day in Hell

Book Details:

ebook, 51 pages
Published October 1st 2014 by Lime Time Press (first published September 30th 2014)
ISBN13LBRZL0201441
edition languageEnglish
seriesPulp Friction 2014 #18, In From

 

About Pulp Friction 2014
Laura Harner ~ Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ T.A. Webb
The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends.
The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth.

Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.  The Pulp Friction 2014 series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, events and plot:

Round One:
Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1)by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Whispering Winds: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by TA Webb

Round Two:
Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Whispering Winds #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by TA Webb

Round Three:
Backburn (Fighting Fire #3) by Laura Harner
Cold Feet (In From the Cold #3) by Lee Brazil
Blown Hard (Whispering Winds #3) by Havan Fellows
Tremors (Earthquake #3) by T.A. Webb

Round Four:
Flare-up (Fighting Fire #4) by Laura Harner
Out In The Cold (In From the Cold #4) by Lee Brazil
Blown Chance (Whispering Winds #4) by Havan Fellows
Aftershocks (Earthquake #4) by T.A. Webb

Round Five: 
Radiant Burn (Fighting Fire #5) by Laura Harner
Cold Day in Hell (In From the Cold #5) by Lee Brazil
Final Blow (Whispering Winds #5) by Havan Fellows
Terra Firma (Earthquake #5) by T.A. Webb

Sixth Book Series Finale Written by all the Authors coming in December.

Side Stories or Interludes:

Taking Chances by Lee Brazil (a In From the Cold story)
Wicked Winds (Whispering Winds 3.5) by Havan Fellows – bonus book, Whispering Winds
Frankie’s Knight (Elemental Connections: IV) (Earthquake #3.5)
Kismet & Cartwheels – bonus book, Fighting Fire