Grey is the New Black

Poor gray. It’s often ignored on the color wheel and gets a bad rap as being a bland and often boring color. Well, I’m here to tell you that gray is the new black! Don’t believe me? You will, after reading Fifty Shades of Grey by first-time author E. L. James. From the hero’s name, to the color of his penetrating eyes, to the couple’s complex relationship, there are hues of gray scattered all throughout the story. Still skeptical? Well, if my review doesn’t clinch it for you, then be sure to check back tomorrow for an *exclusive* guest post from the author herself! Plus, I’ll be giving away FREE copies of the book, so that you can read for yourself why gray is the new black.

SYNOPSIS: When Anastasia Steele agrees to interview millionaire Christian Grey as a favor for her friend, she has no idea what she’s getting herself into. The moment she looks into the enigmatic businessman’s piercing gray eyes, she’s literally head over heels, accidentally stumbling to the ground when they first meet. After several sexually-charged interactions, Christian asks Ana out, and though she can’t figure out how such a successful — and hot! — man could be interested in her, she agrees. However, after their date, Christian warns Ana to stay away from him. Talk about mixed signals!

Ana refuses to back down, though, and in return Christian propositions her with a blushing offer to explore her sexuality… together. Despite Ana’s innocence, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to Christian and willing to do whatever it takes to get to know him better. Soon, their relationship begins to transcend physical boundaries and Ana finds herself wanting more from the wealthy tycoon. If only Christian could get past his inner demons to open himself up to Ana’s love…

If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be INTENSE! From Ana and Christian’s relationship to Christian’s internal struggles and Ana’s emotional roller-coaster, the entire 380 pages are intense. The story is told in first-person present tense, which I have to admit thew me at first, but I quickly became engrossed in Ana’s thoughts and intrigued with her perception of Christian and her take on their affair. Christian is a multi-faceted hero. Yes, he’s drop-dead gorgeous, but he’s also troubled, overbearing and possessive. As odd as it sounds, it’s his flaws that really make him alluring — it’s no wonder Ana is willing to submit to him!

The secondary characters  — Ana’s roommate, Christian’s family, etc. — bring another level of depth and complexity to the plot — which, by the way, flies by; I read this book in less than three days! All in all, I’d have to say that Fifty Shades of Grey was not at all what I expected… it was fifty times better! And, if that wasn’t enough, turns out that it’s part of a trilogy, which means that there will be more shades of Grey to indulge in. The only downside, however, is that the story ends on a cliff-hanger, making me more than a little anxious for the next book to be released.

*Click here to read my review and view my star rating on Goodreads.

**I received Fifty Shades of Grey as a complimentary copy for review from the publisher.

Summer Solstice Series

Suuuuuuummertime, and the livin’s easy hot. 95Âș hot, to be exact — at least here in Georgia, that is. Today is the first day of summer, which means we’re in the throes of humid mornings, scorching afternoons and sweltering nights. In honor of the summer solstice, I thought it was only appropriate to ring in the new season with a list of smokin’ hot series to stuff into your beach bag. Why a series? Well, everyone knows that when it comes summer reads, you can’t stop at just one! With so much free time on my hands, I know I need at least three books — per week — to satisfy me during summer vacation. Whether you’re heading out of town or soaking up some indoor A.C., there’s a series to accompany you on whatever type of vacation you’ve got planned.

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Bathing suit? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Perfect beach/poolside weather? Check. If you’re spending the day splashing around and under an umbrella, then you’ll want to tuck Carly Phillips’ Hot Zone series into your beach bag. The series is comprised of four books, which pulls back the curtain of a sports PR agency and its oh-so-sexy employees.

Looking for something that’s sure to melt your ice cream cone? Lora Leigh’s Nauti series is for you! There are six books in the series — each focusing on a different smouldering, trouble-is-their-middle-name cousin. Warning: this series is sure to leave you flustered, so be sure you have a bottle of water close by!

If your plans include camping, hiking, or any other type of outdoorsy adventure, Julie Garwood’s Buchanan series is for you. Begin with Heartbreaker, the first of eight sexy romantic suspenses, guaranteed to give you chills and wish for your own hero to snuggle up to for protection. With so many books in the series, it’s likely that you may have to extend your vacation just so you can read them all!

If summer for you means swimming, playing beach volleyball or watching a ball game, then you’ll want to scoop up Rachel Gibson’s Chinook Hockey Team series. In each of the six books, the chemistry between the couples will leave you hot, while the hockey elements are sure to cool you down. Don’t be surprised if you forgo a few games in favor of finishing these delicious reads!

Hopefully one of these series will keep you sated during what is sure to be a very long and very hot summer. And remember, always wear sunscreen!

ROAMING QUESTION: Do you have another series that you think should be included? If so, what and what type of summer plans should they accompany?

Snacks For All Occasions

For me, the only thing better than curling up with a good book is curling up with a good book and a delicious snack to munch on while I read. Whether it’s cookies, hot tea, or even a bowl of yogurt, I find that eating (or drinking) while I read adds to the sensory experience. This becomes even more true when I come across scenes where the characters are eating or drinking something; if I’m not already snacking, this is when I quickly jump up to grab a bite — and usually end up imagining that I’m eating whatever the characters are eating.

While I usually end up eating whatever is available in the fridge/pantry, there are certain snacks I prefer and equate to certain books when I read them. That being said, if I had a picnic basket to accompany my fave books, it would look something like this:

First up on the menu, we’ve got a relaxing cup of hot tea. Preferably served while reading historicals — regency, medieval, etc. Think Lisa Kleypas and her Hathaways family series, or Julie Garwood’s Highland’s Lairds. With scenes filled with royal balls, crinoline dresses and elevated speech patterns, I can’t help but associate “tea time” with these posh bodice-rippers.

Then we’ve chocolate — more specifically, dark chocolate. I reserve the 60% proof cacao for paranormal romances. Just like the books, I find chocolate to be dark, sexy and (depending on what kind you get) a little wild… just like the characters in Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series. Ever tasted chocolate with a hint of sea salt? Sounds odd, but believe me, the subtleness of the salt really brings out the chocolate flavor!

For all things erotic, I have to have — you got it — something spicy! Don’t worry, I don’t go too far overboard, but something as simple as chips and spicy salsa really does the trick. I break out the party platter whenever I get my hands on any Blaze novel, or something along the lines of Lora Leigh and her naughty Nauti boys. Mm…

Last on the list in the basket is popcorn. Light, airy and guilt-free — just like contemporary romances! This usually consists of my go-to arsenal of authors — Rachel Gibson, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Carly Phillips, Jennifer Crusie. But, regardless of the author, my one determining factor is this: if the heroine is a spitfire or the hero is a smart-ass, and the story makes me laugh-out-loud, then we’ve got a winner.

So there you have it — my picnic basket of ideal reading snacks. Of course, now that I’ve spent the last 400+ words talking about food, I now have a killer case of the munchies… go figure. While I mosey over to my old mother Hubbard kitchen, I leave you with these Roaming Questions —

ROAMING QUESTION: Do you like to snack while reading? If so, what’s your favorite food to munch on or drink to sip? What would you put in your reading picnic basket?