Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Review, Excerpt, and GIVEAWAY of: The Calum (The Calum Series Book 1) by Xio Axelrod

Hi everyone!  There is a lot packed into today's post, so I hope you're ready!

I’m reviewing THE CALUM, which is the phenomenal debut novel of Xio Axelrod.  (I was provided a copy of this novel for an honest review.)  Xio provided an excerpt from Chapter One for your enjoyment, and: Xio is giving away a Kindle copy of THE CALUM -- giveaway details below.

While this is a novel that I read for a review, it also meets one of the 2015 Reading Challenge (#29 - A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit), so...I'm checking that box off the list.  Only 49 left to go!  

A quick note about how I came to read and review this novel.  I met Xio last July at the RWA 2014 Conference in San Antonio.  We ended up having breakfast at a table of about seven wonderful authors (or aspiring authors, such as myself).  We exchanged cards and I ended up following her blog & recently followed her on Twitter (I finally gave in and set up a Twitter account for myself, okay?)  
     Anyway - I saw her post a tweet about having difficulty finding blogs to post reviews for her debut novel.  I got in touch & offered my (very small) blog, which in turn lead to this very blog post that you're reading.

Book Blurb (provided by Xio):
Calum, The (Noun) 
  1. fictional hero of best-selling romance novel, A Laird to Love
  2. the perfect man 

     Twenty-six is too old to believe in fairytales, but tell that to Lovie’s roommate. Convinced she’ll find a real life version of her ultimate book boyfriend, Calum MacKenzie, Jo drags Lovie to the Scottish Highlands. Lovie’s no cynic *ahem* but she knows The Calum is a myth. A construct. A freaking unicorn! And there are warmer places to spend a winter vacation.
     If Duff had his way, he’d never step foot in Inverness again. Only his best friend’s wedding, and his ailing grandmother, could bring him home. Duff’s plan is keep his head down and stay out of trouble. Hard to do when the groom targets a pretty blond tourist for one last conquest.
     When Duff and Lovie meet, stones, sparks and insults fly. He’s instantly attracted to the sexy, sharp-tongued American. She’s just glad to have someone to hang out with, especially the bad boy with a mysterious past. Lovie is determined to learn his secrets, but as they grow closer, Duff is forced to choose between his best friend and his heart.

***** (5/5)

Review: You know that feeling you get when you put a book down and wish it had been longer?  Well, that’s how I felt after I read this book.  I absolutely adored Lovie; she’s intelligent, supportive, funny as all hell, and I want her to be my best friend.  (I love finding characters that I want to meet in real life.  Xio delivers on that, fabulously.)
     Duff gives off the aura of someone who is dark and mysterious.  But his point of view shows that even though he has his demons; he also has a vulnerable side.  That’s basically my weakness: the bad-ass with a soft side (see: my love of Dean Winchester from Supernatural).  (And just a little note about Jo -- I was quite surprised by her, in the best way possible.) 
     The interaction between Lovie & Duff was entertaining, and the story moved at a great pace.  I finished the book in less than two days.  And the ending will leave your jaw on the floor.     

You can order your copy of THE CALUM at:
Amazon (Kindle)
Barnes & Noble (Nook) 
All Romance 

Xio is giving away a Kindle copy of THE CALUM!  
The winner will receive a Kindle code for a free copy of the book.

The giveaway begins on Wednesday, 1.14.15 @ 12am (midnight) EST, and ends Monday, 1.19.15 @ 12:00pm (noon) EST.

Once again, Blogger & I had a disagreement about putting the actual Rafflecopter widget on the blog, but here is the link to the Giveaway, courtesy of the generous author herself, Xio.

Excerpt from Chapter One (provided by Xio)

Lovie Grant wished like hell that she had paid the five dollars for the airline headphones. But that balloon had popped, and now she was stuck listening – again – to Joana’s latest “brilliant” plan. She hunched her shoulders and buried her face in the in-flight magazine. Anything to avoid one more word about their freaking trip.

“Are you even listening to me?” Her shrill tone bounced off the airplane window and directly into the oh-my-God-let-me-off-this-sky-bus-before-I-kill-her section of Lovie’s brain.

“What is it now, Jo?”

“You’re not paying attention. And you keep sighing like you’ve been left home on prom night.”

“I’m just tired, and I can’t sleep on planes.” And I should be relaxing on a beach instead of chasing after you.

Flip. Flip. Flip.

Page after page taunted her with one photo of crystal blue waters and palm trees after another. There would be no palm trees where they were headed.

Which asshole decided to put that magazine in her seat-back pocket?

“You’re upset.”

How very astute. “It’s a scientific fact that a lack of sleep causes a decrease in the neurotransmitters that regulate mood.” Flip. “Otherwise, I’m fine, Jo. Let it go.”

“I call bull. You’ve already convinced yourself that this is going to suck.” Jo’s bottom lip poked out in her signature pout. With her blonde locks twisted into two braids, and her bright pink Juicy sweatpants, the picture of a bratty twelve-year-old was nearly complete.

Lovie’s best friend, roommate and constant damsel-in-distress had a plan. A good plan, she’d said. A sound plan, if you dared to believe her. Lovie didn’t, but the plan was this:

● Go to Scotland

● Find “The Calum”

● Marry him

Jo had been saving up for this particular trip for three years – ever since Lovie picked up a dog-eared copy of A Laird to Love at a used book store. It was a great read, sure, but why the hell did that one have to fall out of the stack?

Like millions of other women around the globe, Jo had fallen in love with its hero, Calum MacKenzie.

Unlike most of those other women, Jo believed that someone like him was just across the ocean, waiting for her.

“The Calum,” Jo explained to anyone that stopped long enough to listen, was the perfect man. A lover and a fighter, he was a chivalrous, six-foot-four redhead with a six-pack and a penchant for languages. You could find variations of him in the pages of Jo’s vast collection of romance novels.

Campbell. Covington. Cage. Colton.

She had shelves filled with ideal men, but somehow The Calum stood out to her from the rest. Enough to convince Jo that she needed to go to Scotland and find him.

Each year since college, they’d flipped a coin to see who would pick their Christmas vacation destination. This year, Lovie lost. So there they were, thirty-five thousand feet above the Atlantic, on their way from Philadelphia to Brigadoon…er…Inverness.

Lovie couldn’t believe she’d agreed to spend her measly handful of vacation days tailing Jo through the Scottish Highlands. It was going to be cold and damp.

And damp.

And fucking cold.

There was a beach somewhere with her name on it, and that name was getting washed out to sea. Or sat upon by German tourists. Her lungs deflated in a heavy sigh as her dream of endless mojitos drifted away on the clouds below.

“You didn’t have to come with me, you know.”

Yeah right. Lovie laughed. “You get lost in Chinatown. I can’t even imagine you on your own in another country. Of course, I had to come with you.”

“Your confidence is inspiring,” Jo deadpanned. “I am perfectly capable of looking after myself.” She drew her tiny feet up into the seat and hugged her knees to her chest. “I don’t need a babysitter.”

“Okay, how about a bodyguard?”

Jo snorted. “You’re not much of one.”

Lovie turned, her brow arched. “I’ve got four inches and twenty-five pounds on you. Put on your seatbelt.”

“Yes mom,” Jo said. “I’ve got it all worked out.” She fumbled with her seatbelt. “When I meet The Calum, and I will meet him, I’ll just play it cool and casual. Like I’m not into him at all. Show just enough of the girls to make him pant after me.” Jo smacked the ends together like she was trying to force a size ten foot into a size six shoe. “What’s wrong with this thing?”

“Oh, for the love of…” Lovie reached over and untwisted the contraption, closing it with a snap.

“I had it.”


“Anyway, as I was saying, I’ll be like a piece of candy that he can’t wait to unwrap.” Throwing her blonde locks over her shoulder, she batted her eyelashes in demonstration.

“So your plan is to lustrate him until he falls in love with you?”

“Good word, lustrate.” Jo grinned. “I’ll have him eating out of my hand. You’ll see.”

Author Bio
Philadelphia native and global citizen, Xio Axelrod writes love stories, sexy romance and what she likes to call “strange, twisted tales.” Bitten by the literary bug in 2003, she has self-published two volumes of poetry. 
Her short stories have also appeared in e-magazines such as Oysters and Chocolate. After a five year hiatus from writing, Xio returned with the fiery web serial, Starstruck: a story about finding the right person at the wrong time that became a viral hit. The Calum is book one in a series.
Xio is a vocalist and songwriter by day and lives in Philadelphia with her husband, Mr. X, and their on-again/off-again cat, BB.

Author Links:


  1. Thank you for this! I'm thrilled that you loved the book. =)

    1. =) I'm going to be sitting over here patiently waiting for the next book. Well...trying to be patient about it.

    2. Haha! I'm working on it now. Hoping to get it out sometime in March. =)

  2. I just thought I would get the comments about our ultimate book boyfriends started (and no, I'm definitely not participating in the Giveaway).

    I love reading strong male characters -- they need to be brave, selfless, but also show vulnerability. I fall hard for a guy who falls helplessly in love with the heroine/his love interest. And guys with a painful past that overcome it and learn to love again? Forget about it..I'm weak at the knees.

    1. Same here. When I started to write down Duff's story, he was reluctant to tell me why he had such a huge chip on his shoulder. And when he finally did, I melted. =)

    2. You're not the only one who melted!!

  3. My ultimate book boyfriend? Kinda always wanted Paul Atreides and Westley combined. Yeah, don't tell.

    1. Don't worry, your secrets are safe with me!

    2.! Care for some spice? ;)

  4. I have a couple of book boyfriends (actually more than a couple). Jericho Barrons from Karen Marie Monings Fae Fever series and Reyes Farrow from Darynda Jones, Charley Davidson novels. I'd take either of those two, not fussed which.

    1. Love it! I'm not really picky either...I would be totally fine with having them on a rotating schedule, haha.

    2. I definitely have a rotating schedule. Some days it could be Jamie Fraser, other days it could be Gideon Cross. Today it's Deuce West. Rawr!

    3. I'm angry with him right now, but I know he'll win me over by the end of this draft. LOL

    4. Lol I'm sure he will. He's a big softie that one (underneath it all, at least).