First Look at the Cover Flat for DEAD OF WINTER by Kresley Cole

If you missed the cover flat reveal in Kresley Cole‘s newsletter for Dead of Winter (or if you aren’t a subscriber), here it is:


What do you think?

The models’ poses reminds me of the cover for Endless Knight, and I like that the models haven’t completed been eradicated from the series – at least this cover has partial consistency to the old ones. I hate when series covers stop matching…looks so odd on my self.

-Rika Ashton

(aka Cover Flat Lover)


Throwback Thursday: THE SILVER DEVIL by Teresa Denys

This week I went with a controversial historical romance novel, often characterized as a bodice ripper – because, yes, it’s very old – by Teresa Denys. Ms. Denys wrote only two historical romance novels, The Silver Devil (which is this week’s pick) and The Flesh and the Devil, and both novels are  difficult to find. I found a copy of The Silver Devil a few years ago at a used book store, but if you try to buy a print copy these days it’ll cost you about $50 for a used paperback in Canada- a high asking price indeed.

Amid the gilded opulence and dark intrigue of Renaissance Italy grew a love that knew no bounds….

No woman’s heart is safe from the Silver Devil. From the moment he sees the beautiful Felicia, he must have her. Overnight he changes Felicia’s nightmare world of tavern drudgery into an erotic adventure as his royal mistress. He is the Duke of Cabria who holds his subjects in constant fear. He is troubled. He is ruthless. And Felicia is hopelessly in love with him – though at times he seems like the devil incarnate.…

I’ve always considered The Silver Devil more than just a romance novel. Set in Renaissance Italy, its very different from the norm. The entire novel is written in first person in the heroine, Felicia’s perspective, and while she does focus on her dangerous and romantic relationship with the Duke – Domenico – she also describes the corruption of the Italian court in detail and her own place in this new world. Felicia is an uneducated eighteen year old, and she’s plucked from her life with her half-brother and sister-in-law and thrown into a new one as the Duke’s (really equivalent to King’s) mistress. The Duke apparently finds her beautiful enough for the new role, though Felicia claims that other women at court are far more beautiful than her. For me, The Silver Devil was as much a novel of court intrigue and politics as it was about romance.

On the other hand, the first person perspective was very limiting at times. The reader stays with Felicia through the events that unfold, but we don’t get much insight into Domenico at all. We’re forced to make assumptions – which may be correct – but we don’t get the thought process in Domenico’s mind and he comes across as evil. Felicia describes him as a spoiled child, which is as accurate a description as you can get for a man who would execute another for simply being taller than him. Likewise, he is very jealous. Insanely so. He has a man tortured because he thinks Felicia’s falling in love with him.

I found this novel a very dark read…and yet, oddly amusing. Felicia does go through a character arc and comes out stronger in the end, but along the way her naivete is painfully clear. On the flip side, Domenico is very cynical and distrusting throughout.

But, I really found this an interesting read. It was beautifully, almost poetically written, and despite the controversial subject matter – rape, torture, etc – it was still a believable (and imaginative) representation of life in the Renaissance.

What “controversial” bodice rippers are you in love with?

-Rika Ashton

(aka Renaissance Time Traveler)

P.S: Here’s another, very detailed, review of the novel in case you’re interested and not afraid of spoilers.

Cover Reveal: SHARDS OF HOPE by Nalini Singh

Check out the incomparable cover for Nalini Singh‘s upcoming Psy-Changeling masterpiece, Shards of Hope:

The “smoldering heat, epic romance, and awesome action” of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as two Arrows find themselves caught in a chilling conspiracy that spans all three races…

Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough—because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken…like Zaira.

Do we love it? Hate it? Or are we stuck on our neighbour’s fence about this one?

Well, cover or no…I’ve only got one thing to say to Aden:

So bring it on!

-Rika Ashton

(aka “WOW!”)

Spotlight on the Grim Reaper! (With a TRIPLE Giveaway!)

WARNING: This post contains uncaged spoilers! 

Just in time for Halloween, we thought it was appropriate to introduce you to the Grim Reaper, Charley Davidson…or rather, the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones!

I stupidly waited a ridiculously long time to read these books, but now that I have I can’t get enough of the hilarious characters, fascinating world building, and spine-tingling plot. The fun in the Charley Davidson series is that you never quite know what to expect, and the plot of each novel flows seamlessly into the plot the next. Just when you have one question answered, you’ve got three hundred more burning thoughts to deal with. In other words, these novels are page turners!!!

And if you haven’t  had the chance to start this series, then lucky you!


Because Rika’s Musings is holding its first ever giveaway, and we are putting our books where our mouths are by giving not one…not two…but THREE paperback novels from the Charley Davidson series to one lucky winner on Halloween night! You now have a chance to win and read the first three novels: First Grave on the Right, Second Grave to the Left, and Third Grave Dead Ahead.


Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.


When Charley is rudely awakened in the middle of the night by her best friend who tells her to get dressed quickly and tosses clothes out the closet at her, she can’t help but wonder what Cookie’s up to. Leather scrunch boots with a floral miniskirt? Together? Seriously?

After dragging Charley out the door and trying unsuccessfully to stuff her into a trunk—mostly ‘cause Charley pitches a fit—Cookie finally explains that a friend of hers named Mimi disappeared five days earlier and that she just got a text from her setting up a meet at a coffee shop downtown. They show up at the coffee shop, but no Mimi. After a brief investigation, Charley finds a message on the bathroom wall. Mimi left a clue, a woman’s name. They head to the parking lot only to be accosted by a frantic husband with a gun. After some soothing words and a few deep breathing exercises, the husband, aka Warren Jacobs, hires Charley to find his wife. He explains that his wife had been acting strange since she found out an old friend of hers from high school had been found murdered a couple weeks prior. The same woman Mimi had named in her message.

Meanwhile, Reyes Alexander Farrow (otherwise known as the Son of Satan. Yes. Literally) has left his corporeal body and is haunting Charley. He’s left his body because he’s being tortured by demons who want to lure Charley closer. But Reyes can’t let that happen. Because if the demons get to Charley, they’ll have a portal to heaven. And if they have a portal to heaven…well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty. Can Charley handle hot nights with Reyes and even hotter days tracking down a missing woman? Will Cookie ever get a true fashion sense? And is there enough coffee and chocolate in the world to fuel them as they do?


Charley Davidson—grim reaper extraordinaire, private investigator . . . meh—is practicing her profession under the influence, caffeine and copious amounts of it, due to an extreme desire to induce insomnia. Every time she closes her eyes, Reyes Farrow, the part-human, part-supermodel son of Satan, is there. Only thing is, he’s a tad peeved. She did bind for all eternity, so it’s hard blame him. But 13 days without a wink is bound to bring out the crazy in a girl. So, when a man hires her to find his wife, Charley accepts the job with one goal in mind: Put the man behind bars, and not the wet kind. She can sense the guilt waft off him and vows to find the woman’s body and prove he’s a murderer.

In the meantime, Reyes is back in prison and none too happy about it . . . so Charley thinks, until she is carjacked by the dark-haired rake, who swears the very man he went to prison for killing is not only alive, but close by. And he wants Charley to find him.

While a visit to her old friend Rocket sheds no light on Reyes’s situation, Charley finds out the man’s wife is still alive and time is running out. Finding her before she dies would be a miracle, but she has to try. Together with the help of a fashion-impaired receptionist named Cookie, Charley sets out to bring the bad guys to justice. She just hopes Reyes is not one of them. And that she’s not hallucinating from her self-induced bout with insomnia.

If you would like to win a paperback copy of each of these great books, just leave a comment in the comments section below. The contest open to all, and the winner to be chosen through Remember the deadline is this Friday, October 31 at midnight, pacific time. The winner will be contacted via email the next day, so be sure to leave a valid one. The winner will have a week to respond with a physical mailing address, or the prize will be forfeit and we will draw a new winner.

Good luck!

-Rika and Chaos Ashton

(aka The Grim Reaper’s Honorary Publicists)

Throwback Thursday: THE MAD, BAD DUKE by Jennifer Ashley

I’m sharing an old favourite this week for Throwback Thursday. It was one of the very first Jennifer Ashley novels I read, and the novel that made me realize that I was madly, badly in love with her writing.


The Mad, Bad Duke by Jennifer Ashley!

Meagan Tavistock can easily see how Alexander earned the nickname Mad, Bad Duke. His deep blue eyes promise sinful pleasure and his rich voice intimates that as soon as they are skin to skin, he’ll fulfill desires she isn’t even aware of.

When a love spell misses its intended target, Meagan can no longer resist the temptation…until the magic wears off, leaving the pair in a most compromising position. Their only option is a marriage that thrusts Meagan into a new world of high danger, dark secrets, and a passion so intense she can’t help wondering: Is it the lingering power of the spell or true love at last?

The second of the Nvengaria series, The Mad, Bad Duke was the reason I went back and read Penelope and Prince Charming – an equally delightful tale, but Meagan and Alexander have a special place in my heart.

Alexander came of as cold initially, but boy was he HOT! And Meagan was a sweetheart from start to finish. The novel had everything that my paranormal and historical loving heart desired – magic and carriages and lavish parties. In fact, just thinking about the book makes me want to read it again. :)

-Rika Ashton

(aka The Madly, Badly Still in Love)

One Lovely Blog Award!

one-lovely-blog-awardFellow writer and critique partner, June Hur, nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award and I graciously accept the invitation to participate in the blog tour and share seven interesting facts about my life.

Official Rules:

  1. Share 7 Lovely Facts about yourself.
  2. Link to 15 blogs (or as many as possible) that you enjoy reading…I just picked my top five favourite blogs to visit that haven’t already been nominated…I hope.
  3. Nominate the authors of those 15 (or however many you chose) blogs to participate and do the same, linking back to the blog that nominated you – which would be this blog.

My nominees will be further down in the post – but first, for my seven hour long acceptance speech:

A-hem…I feel quite blessed to receive this great badge of honour and I would like to thanks the universe for finally recognizing my genius, my family and friends – including my mom and dad, my several aunts and uncles, my grandparents on both sides, my cousins, my neighbour’s cat…here’s to you Patrick…the lady who works at the Dynamite store in the mall who always brings me my size -

CHAOS: Stop! This is all wrong.

APOLLO: *making a rare appearance off the pages of my manuscript* I agree, you’ll bore them to tears. Have you never heard of keeping it short and sweet?

DELPHYNE: *also jumping off my manuscript and smirking* Yeah, like Apollo’s c–

APOLLO: *glaring at Delphyne* Don’t say it!

DELPHYNE: *shrugging with a grin* I was going to say cat.

CHAOS: I’m a cat!


CHAOS: Oh…well, I just wanted to say that the speech was all wrong.

ME: How do you mean?

CHAOS: I should have been the first person you mentioned…not, not PATRICK!

APOLLO and DELPHYNE: *eyeroll*

ME: Jealous.

CHAOS: Am not!


CHAOS: *saunters off*

Well, thanks to that untimely interruption I’ve lost my train of thought – anyone who was not mentioned in the acceptance speech will just have to blame Chaos.

But now for seven curious facts about my life: 

1. I am a chronic binge-watcher of anime series. I’ve watched everything from Skip Beat (with English subtitles) to Dragonball Z (a childhood favourite) and Death Note.

Ahhh, Ren!

2. I’ve had three near death experiences…two by nearly drowning.

Sad fact is that I still don’t know how to swim, and I probably never will. The whole “your natural survival instincts will kick in to save you thing” never really happened…I just got tall enough to stand up in the pool.

3. My childhood (and current) dream is to fly.

You can probably blame this on that fact that I read way too many paranormal romance novels with angels, etc. Plus then I could be a crime fighting superhero who wears heels…because I’d never have to walk again!

4. My favourite Greek myth is the one about Narcissus…I could really relate to how he fell in love with himself, lol.

5.  If I could go back in time, I would…and then I’d kill the guy who invented Math.

And it wouldn’t be a pansy-ass assassination either, but real hard core and one that would require elaborate planning, costumes, and theme music.

6. I have a LOVE for gaudy nail paint colours.

Bright blue, neon pink, highlighter yellow…BRING IT ON!

7. I once appeared on a TV new cast, but I missed it.

I’ve been trying to recapture my 15 seconds of fame ever since.

And here are my nominees:

1. Priscilla Shay

She is fascinated with all things historical and the only way she can explain it is by claiming she was – clearly – born in the wrong century. (Although, she has been dabbling in the Paranormal and Young Adult.) She currently lives in NY and holds a B.A. in English: Creative Writing, Honors and a M.A. in History. She is also a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America). When not writing she can be found in a corner crafting, drawing, or baking.

2. Ki Pha

I’m a reader! Plus an artist. I also write and am a habitual daydreamer, with out of the world crazy imaginings that I can never write down quick enough onto paper. I’m a hoarder of print books and need a new bookshelf. Plus having a Kindle is not helping in my book binge.

3. Wicked Scribes

(A very mysterious book blogger with an interest in paranormal romance and fantasy novels, but no official bio.)

4. Rakes and Rascals

I’m a young-at-heart 67 year old retiree living in the small town of Penarth, South Wales, UK…I love Historical Romances but I do occasionally read Contemporary and Erotic Romances. Although I don’t read Paranormal Romances, I make an exception for J. R Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

5. Noelle Pierce

My world is convoluted, random, and sometimes confusing, but it only matches all my roles in life: mother, student, teacher, artist, wife, daughter, writer. I love to laugh, believe in destiny, and try to see the silver lining around every cloud. Watching thunderstorms is a favored pastime of mine and I love living in a big city with lots to do. I don’t ever get to do any of it, but I like knowing it’s there.

Have fun! And don’t forget to visit Ms. Hur’s blog and check out her answers!

-Rika Ashton

(aka “I should start writing down my acceptance speech for when Oprah contacts me to appear on her show.”)

Blurb Reveal: GARDEN OF LIES by Amanda Quick

Fans of mystery and historical romance, rejoice! We have a blurb for the next Amanda Quick (aka Jayne Ann Krentz) novel, Garden of Lies (release date April 21, 2015).

The New York Times bestselling author of Otherwise Engaged and The Mystery Woman presents an all-new novel of intrigue and murder set against the backdrop of Victorian London…

The Kern Secretarial Agency provides reliable professional services to its wealthy clientele, and Anne Clifton was one of the finest women in Ursula Kern’s employ. But Miss Clifton has met an untimely end—and Ursula is convinced it was not due to natural causes.

Archaeologist and adventurer Slater Roxton thinks Mrs. Kern is off her head to meddle in such dangerous business. Nevertheless, he seems sensible enough to Ursula, though she does find herself unnerved by his self-possession and unreadable green-gold eyes…

If this mysterious widowed beauty insists on stirring the pot, Slater intends to remain close by as they venture into the dark side of polite society. Together they must reveal the identity of a killer—and to achieve their goal they may need to reveal their deepest secrets to each other as well…

I’ve had a chance to see a proof of the cover for Garden of Lies, and while I think it’s the a perfect mystery/romance cover with moonlight, manor, and maze, it’s not approved for distribution and I can’t share it just yet since there may be changes. But, I really, really like the cover that I saw and I’m already dreaming about putting it on my bookshelf, so I hoped they don’t change too much.

Anyway, stay tuned for the reveal at a later date!

-Rika Ashton

(aka One Inquisitive Victorian Reporter)

Throwback Thursday: HIS LADY BRIDE by Shayla Black

I came across this historical reissue by Shayla Black yesterday as I was browsing my library for new reading materials. His Lady Bride was originally published in 2000 under the name Shelley Bradley, but Ms. Black has been self-publishing and re-releasing a few of her older novels written with this pen name.

Cover of the 2014 reissue

Return to an age of danger and chivalry, when three daring knights—fostered together since boyhood in the warrior tradition—face their greatest challenge: winning the hearts of the women they love.

A passionate battle of wills…

He was a legend on the battlefield, but Aric Neville, known throughout England as the White Lion, had had his fill of intrigue and bloodshed. So he threw down his sword and walked away, to live a solitary life, cultivating a reputation as a sorcerer. But his prized tranquility was shattered when the villagers brought him a bride.

Gwenyth de Auburd was a raven-haired beauty too impudent to ignore and too tempting to resist. When the war raging around them sucked Aric into his past again, he also fought a losing battle against his undeniable desire for the luscious, willful maiden… only to learn that he had come to cherish as his wife

I started the novel last night and I’m a quarter of the way through. It’s definitely entertaining and amusing, although at times I wasn’t fond of the heroine, Gwenyth. Gwenyth came across as a bit selfish at first, but through no fault of her own. But as I read further into the novel, I had to reexamine my opinion of the heroine. The more I read, I realized that Gwenyth was ambitious rather than selfish. She really didn’t want anything more for herself than what anyone could expect. I nice home, food, clothes, etc.

However, the problem was that I had gotten to know Aric, the hero, better from the beginning. I got to read about the disastrous war with Richard III, and how this affected him, so naturally I had begun to empathize with him from the start. I understood Aric desire for peace away from the horrors he had lived through.

Nonetheless, had I not read about Aric or known about his past from the start, my opinion of him would have been completely different. I certainly would have empathized with Gwenyth for being saddled with an ambition-less bum for a husband more openly because that is what he would have come across as.

So far Gwenyth and Aric are really making me question making snap judgments about characters…all this and I’m not even halfway through the book.

Original cover from 2000

Have you ever met a character that made you doubt the importance of first impressions? What book were they in? What did you learn about yourself as a reader?

-Rika Ashton

(aka The Introspective One)

It’s Two for One Time…As in Two Covers in One Post and a Little Extra

What do the names Kenyon and Jones have in common? Fantastic covers, that’s what!

I recently became insanely addicted to the Charley Davidson mystery series – seriously, how awesome is that name? – by Darynda Jones. The woman is a prolific writer, and good one, and the wait between novels has been short enough that I can devour read after read without feeling guilty. If you haven’t started the series, or are debating the wisdom of doing so like I did not so long ago, you can read a free short story called For I Have Sinned on Heroes and Heartbreakers. (Be warned, you do have to be registered member and logged in to read. Registration is free and easy, however.)

The next book of the Charley Davidson series, Seventh Grave and No Body, releases this year on October 21st but we already have the title, blurb and cover for book eight – Eighth Grave After Dark.

 With twelve hellhounds after her, pregnant Charley Davidson takes refuge at the only place she thinks they can’t get to her: the grounds of an abandoned convent. But after months of being cooped up there,  Charley is ready to pop. Both metaphorically and literally since she is now roughly the size of a beached whale. Fortunately, a new case has captured her attention, one that involves a murder on the very grounds the team has taken shelter upon. A decades-old murder of the newly-vowed nun she keeps seeing in the shadows is almost enough to pull her out of her doldrums.

Charley’s been forbidden to step foot off the sacred grounds. While the angry hellhounds can’t traverse the consecrated soil, they can lurk just beyond its borders. They have the entire team on edge, especially Reyes. And if Charley didn’t know better, she would swear Reyes is getting sick. He grows hotter with every moment that passes, his heat scorching across her skin every time he’s near, but naturally he swears he’s fine.

While the team searches for clues on the Twelve, Charley just wants answers and is powerless to get them. But the mass of friends they’ve accrued helps. They convince her even more that everyone in her recent life has somehow been drawn to her, as though they were a part of a bigger picture all along. But the good feelings don’t last for long because Charley is about to get the surprise of her crazy, mixed-up, supernatural life…

Eighth Grave After Dark releases May 19th, 2015.

But we promised you two for the price of one, so here’s cover reveal number two!

Sherrilyn Kenyon has been her usual busy self, and we have a cover, title and blurb for the next book of the Dark-Hunter (or Were-Hunter if one wants to get technical) fantasy series, Dragonbane:

Out of all the mysterious boarders who call Sanctuary home, no one is more antisocial or withdrawn than Maxis Drago. But then, it’s hard to blend in with the modern world when you have a fifty foot wingspan.

Centuries ago, he was cursed by an enemy who swore to see him fall. An enemy who took everything from him and left him forever secluded.

But Fate is a bitch, with a wicked sense of humor. And when she throws old enemies together and threatens the wife he thought had died centuries ago, he comes back with a vengeance. Modern day New Orleans has become a battleground for the oldest of evils. And two dragons will hold the line, or go down in flames.

Max’s book hit bookstores – though not literally – on August 4th, 2015.

So there you have it…two amazing covers for the price of one. How’s that for whetting our appetite? Sadly, we’ll have to wait for next year for the full enchilada.


CHAOS: Whoa, whoa, whoa…hang on! Aren’t you going to tell them about the giveaway?

ME: Oh, right…okay, fellow readers, here’s the deal. We will be doing a giveaway very, very soon  – our first ever actually – and you’ll have a chance to win a copy by one of the amazing authors featured in this post. But you’ll have to wait to see which one. Stay tuned on the blog and on Twitter for more news.

Okay, so that was actually three for the cost of reading one post. Yes, we really can’t count here on Rika’s Musings, but aren’t you glad we failed elementary school Math? ;)

-Rika Ashton

(aka “Signing off for real this time.”)

PsyNet Breaking News!

This just in, Nalini Singh has penned a love story of epic proportions between two Arrows. Aden, a name which has been buzzing on the Net for a while now, and Zaira – a surprising new addition – have eloped! (Okay, this reporter is taking liberties with the term “eloped” but we are not disqualifying that as an option.)

Shards of Hope, releasing in 2015, will be the next installment of Ms. Singh’s action-packed Psy/Changeling series:

The “smoldering heat, epic romance, and awesome action”* of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as two Arrows find themselves caught in a chilling conspiracy that spans all three races…

Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough—because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken…like Zaira.

No cover as of yet, but stay tuned for the reveal.

-Rika Ashton

(aka Not-so-Silent Voice)


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