Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: Hooked ~ Brenda Rothert

Brenda Rothert
Contemporary Romance
Loveswept/December 6, 2016

Miranda: Even though I’m broke, putting myself through college, and working two jobs, I’m trying to make the best of it. Meanwhile, Jake Birch, hockey’s hottest bad boy, lives in a luxury hotel in downtown Chicago—and still complains about every little thing in his penthouse. But after I tell him off, instead of getting me fired, Jake requests me as his personal housekeeper. Then he starts flirting with me. Only I’m not flirting back . . . at least, I’m trying not to. Did I mention that he’s hockey’s hottest bad boy?

Jake:  I’ve met the best woman at the worst possible time. Miranda is the fire to my ice—a sexy, charmingly candid spark who breaks down my walls and reminds me what it’s like to feel again. But I’m being forced to date my team owner’s daughter to keep my job, so I can’t be caught with Miranda. Still, we’re getting closer—until Miranda finds out about my “girlfriend.” And that’s not the only secret I’ve been keeping. But Miranda’s the one I want . . . even if she doesn’t believe me.

I've been into hockey heroes lately - with some excellent results! I love the premise of this romance. Hard working Miranda doesn't bow to hockey hero Jake's super sexy hotness. She's not denying his hotness, she's just not playing the part of super fangirl. Miranda shares her smartass attitude with Jake but he finds Miranda refreshing. I did too!

Their relationship has some major hurdles to overcome. They have to hide their relationship from everyone or else Miranda could loose her job. Jake offers to help her out financially but Miranda is a proud woman and doesn't want Jake's money to come between them. She likes him in spite of his wealth and his pickiness. In truth, he can be a real ass when it comes to having things exactly how he wants them. The big hurdle is the batshit crazy woman who wants Jake as her boyfriend. Unfortunately, she is the daughter of the team owner. This woman made me feel sorry for Jake and considering how he met her, that's saying a lot. She was about to go down on him, they were interrupted and later, he didn't remember her name. Manslut thy name is Jake. But, he is different with Miranda. He's smart enough to know she's worth making some serious changes to his life and leaving his manwhore ways behind.

Jake was a better person after meeting Miranda. It's cliché but it worked well in this story. And while there are points when Miranda and Jake should have talked things out instead of keeping quiet, they still acted like mature adults, which can be incredibly refreshing. Characters acting their age, yes please! The way Jake and Miranda's relationship develops is believable even though they come from different worlds and must hide their relationship.

This is my first novel by Ms. Rothert but certainly won't be my last. And as luck would have it, she has a lovely backlist with more on the way!

Rating: B+

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Review: The Hook Up ~ Kristen Callihan

The Hook Up
Kristen Callihan
Contemporary Romance/New Adult
Plain Jane Books/September 7, 2014
Game On/Book 1

The rules: no kissing on the mouth, no staying the night, no telling anyone, and above all… No falling in love.

Anna Jones just wants to finish college and figure out her life. Falling for star quarterback Drew Baylor is certainly not on her to do list. Confident and charming, he lives in the limelight and is way too gorgeous for his own good. If only she could ignore his heated stares and stop thinking about doing hot and dirty things with him. Easy right?

Too bad he’s committed to making her break every rule…

Football has been good to Drew. It’s given him recognition, two National Championships, and the Heisman. But what he really craves is sexy yet prickly Anna Jones. Her cutting humor and blatant disregard for his fame turns him on like nothing else. But there’s one problem: she's shut him down. Completely.That is until a chance encounter leads to the hottest sex of their lives, along with the possibility of something great. Unfortunately, Anna wants it to remain a hook up. Now it’s up to Drew to tempt her with more: more sex, more satisfaction, more time with him. Until she’s truly hooked. It's a good thing Drew knows all about winning.All’s fair in love and football…Game on.

So happy I picked this one up! I've been into sports romances lately, but hockey has been the game of choice. But I read and enjoyed Kristen Callihan's Idol and Managed novels so she has now gone my to-read list. So while these heroes are not hockey players, football is still better than baseball. Or golf. I don't think I've ever seen a pro-golf hero/heroine story.

This is a new adult but really, the new adult novels I've read are only different in that the characters are college age. There is explicit sex so other than the age and location, this might as well be an adult contemporary. And not all of the books in the series are new adult. The characters graduate from college and go on to their adult lives. So if you think new adult is now for you, don't let that designation stop you from checking out this series.

Star football player and quarterback, Drew Baylor is good looking, smart and a decent guy. Almost too good to be true. And when he sets his sights on Anna Jones, she doesn't believe his interest is genuine. She doesn't think she's his type. She's not a cheerleader, nor a tall, slim model type. Anna has the looks of a sexy pinup of the 50's. Which works well for Drew. Their chemistry is enough to set off alarms and their snarky banter made me laugh out loud.

While Anna says she only wants a hook-up, Drew is of a different mind. He wants Anna. Period. Sure, he wants the hot sex. He's a guy. But he also wants that relationship that Anna is so against. So Drew decides to change Anna's mind. I loved these two together! Yes, I got frustrated with Anna and even Drew, but they are such a cute couple! I couldn't help but root for them.

This wouldn't be a sports romance without the ball players. Drew's teammates are players. But they're also good friends to him, like brothers. I enjoyed the dynamics of these guys. They tease each other mercilessly but they'll also be there for each other, no matter what.

This isn't all fun and games. I was pleasantly surprised at how emotional the story was. Both Drew and Anna have been through tough times and they are still in for some emotional damage that they survive and become stronger for it. After finishing The Hook Up, I headed straight into The Friend Zone, book two in the series. And guess what I read after I finished The Friend Zone? Yep! The Game Plan!  Highly recommend this addictive series. I only hope we don't have to wait too long for the next book!

Rating: B+

Game On Series~

The Hook Up
The Friend Zone
The Game Plan

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

ARC Review: Wild Horse Springs

Wild Horse Springs
Jodi Thomas
Contemporary Romance
Ransom Canyon/Book 5
Harlequin Books/January 24, 2017

In the heart of Ransom Canyon, sometimes the right match for a lonely soul is the one you least expect. 

Dan Brigman may not lead the most exciting life, but he's proud of what he's achieved: he's a respected lawman, and he's raised a bright, talented daughter on his own. But finding a lone, sparkly blue boot in the middle of a deserted highway gets him thinking maybe the cowgirl who lost it is exactly the shake-up he needs.

After losing her baby girl, Brandi Malone felt like her soul died along with her daughter. Now singing in small-town bars to make ends meet, she's fine being a drifter until a handsome sheriff makes her believe that parking her boots under his bed is a better option.

College grad Lauren Brigman has just struck out on her own in downtown Dallas when a troubling phone call leads her back home to Crossroads. Her hometown represents her family, friends and deepest hopes, but also her first love, Lucas Reyes. Will Lauren's homecoming be another heartbreak, or a second chance for her and Lucas?

I've said it before, reading Ms. Thomas' stories are like coming home. They are filled with wonderful characters who feel like family and good friends the more you read about them. The newest addition to the Ransom Canyon series is no different. Wild Horse Springs catches up with some familiar characters while introducing a few new ones as well.

As previous novels in the series did, Wild Horse Springs doesn't solely focus on one story line but starts new plots as well as following up with established story lines. Some plots grab my attention more than others but I always leave satisfied when I am finished.

Sheriff Dan Brigman has been there since the beginning. He's been a stable, intelligent figure lending his control and experience to help his community. Sheriff Dan enjoys his life, even if it is rather predicable. Then he makes one small change and he could not have predicted the effect it would have on his life. I liked seeing Dan, in essence, come out of his shell. We get to see more of the man behind the lawman.  And this is a romance so it's no surprise the change in Dan's life is caused by a woman.

Leaving your old life behind and starting fresh somewhere else. It's a romantic notion, one many of us have most likely had at one time or another. But the romance ends when that leaving is brought about by tragedy. This is the case for Brandi Malone. Brandi is running from her tragedy but it continues to follow her. She has no desire to settle in any one place so she keeps moving. Then she meets a man with a boot, her boot.

I loved how Dan and Brandi's meeting came about. How Dan envisioned what the owner of the boot might be like. And how pleased he was when he met Brandi. I did like their romance but at the same time, I found myself more drawn to what was happening between Lauren, Tim and Lucas. Or perhaps I should say what might happen with Lauren and Lucas. Their intertwined relationships have been going on for so long, it is almost as if they will never be fully resolved. But... I have hope that the next book will have Lauren and Lucas back together. Please.

Thatcher Jones. Just saying his name makes me smile. He's such a likable character. I dare you not to like him. He has this way of speaking his mind that is so refreshing. His outlook on life is different from the other characters because of his rough upbringing.  Thatcher has this solemness about him. He has such a strong sense of right and wrong. For all his "country boy" charms, he also has this air of nobility. I can't wait to see more of Thatcher in future books.

And then there's Cody Winslow. He lives on the edge. On the edge of town and on the edge of life. He is rescued from his lonely existence by some of the most unlikely heroines. Yes, that's heroines, plural. Cody's life is turned upside down and inside out. And it turns out, he's okay with that. This romance was such a treasure to read. The characters of Cody and Tess are an entertaining mix of lonesome cowboy and take charge park ranger. I loved how their relationship started with Tessa saving Cody and basically taking over his life. While Cody is busy feeding the local gossip mill. Things get a little out of control but Cody and Tess work it all out and give the town even more to talk about.

Wild Horse Springs is small town romance set in a charming town with enjoyable characters that leave the reader wanting to come back for more.

Rating: B+

Ransom Canyon ~

Winter Camp (novella)
Ransom Canyon
Rustler's Moon
Lone Heart Pass
Sunrise Crossing
Wild Horse Springs

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

ARC Review: Fall ~ Karina Bliss

Karina Bliss
Contemporary Romance
Rock Solid Series/Book 2
Karina Bliss/November 15, 2016

Keep Rage together at all costs...

Powerhouse PA Dimity Graham is off her game. Her career is everything to her and she never lets anything personal mess that up. So how can she explain getting busy between the sheets with Rage's nice-guy drummer Seth Curran? She's supposed to be keeping this band out of trouble, not getting into it.

But before she can put everything back where it belongs, Seth needs her help.Faking a relationship seemed like a good idea that night, right before they fell into bed together. But standing on New Zealand soil, facing the people he disappointed to pursue his dream, Seth doubts he and Dimity will convince anyone they're hot and crazy for each other. To his surprise, Dimity is working her magic on everyone and they're all convinced this is the real deal. The problem is, he's almost convinced, too.

After reading and loving RISE, the first book in the series, I was thrilled to get my hands on FALL, Seth and Dimity book. Seth and Dimity at first glance may come across and fire and water but there is so much more to them as we find out.

Dimity Graham is a whirlwind who can kick ass without breaking a sweat. She may come across as aloof and all business, but in her heart, she is all about taking care of the people she loves. Those people are the family she has found in the band members of Rage. The ability to bring this rock band back to life and achieve world wide popularity is not just due to the band members but to Dimity's ability to manage all aspects of their lives as rock gods.

I loved how we see Dimity as the intelligent, tough business woman and then see how she does so much for the band not only because she wants them, and her, to be successful but because she truly cares about them. It's not a persona most of the people she interacts with ever get to see. Only a select few, and even then she would most likely deny it. She's a strong, gutsy heroine who works as a perfect match for Seth.

Seth Curran is the easy going drummer of Rage. Drummer's keep the beat and Seth is, in a way, the heart beat of the band. While the other members tend to act more erratic, more like rock stars, Seth is down to earth and makes himself easily approachable to his fans. He doesn't go for the diva attitude but when he does take a hard stand on something, you know it's important to him. I liked him a lot and thought his easy going personality is just what Dimity needed in her life.

The other members of the band are present and it was interesting to see not only how they all interact but how they support each other and have formed not only a band but a family in the short time they have been together. We get more insight to what makes both Dimity and Seth reach for their goals and we see it's not all about the fame and fortune. Their families, as many families do, had a great impact on them. I also enjoyed seeing a little more other the other band members, Jared and Moss. Jared's story is in the anthology You Had Me at Christmas (loved it!) and Moss' story I hope is next. I'm extremely curious to find out more about him and his backstory.  And I can't forget catching up with Zander Freedman. We get to see how he and Elizabeth are doing. Loved seeing them again!

Ms. Bliss keeps the plot moving along at a good pace. The romance between Dimity and Seth has that friends to lovers quality I love! It was obvious from the beginning that they cared for each other and the writing made it easy to believe that friendship could and did lead to a more intimate relationship. If you love rock and roll, romance and great friendships, you'll love this series.

Rating: A

Rock Solid Series ~

Play (novella in You Had Me at Christmas)

Monday, November 14, 2016

This Week's New Releases

There are plenty of wonderful releases to look forward to this week. Here are the ones on my list. What's on your list?

First up is the second full length novel in Karina Bliss' Rock Solid series. I fell hard for arrogant rockstar Zander Freedman, hero in the first novel, Rise. This time we get to find out if good guy Seth Curran is too good to be true. And fiesty, kickass Dimity Graham is not a typical heroine. I just finished this one - highly recommend!

Karina Bliss
Rock Solid Series
Book 2

Keep Rage together at all costs...

Powerhouse PA Dimity Graham is off her game. Her career is everything to her and she never lets anything personal mess that up. So how can she explain getting busy between the sheets with Rage's nice-guy drummer Seth Curran? She's supposed to be keeping this band out of trouble, not getting into it.
But before she can put everything back where it belongs, Seth needs her help.

Faking a relationship seemed like a good idea that night, right before they fell into bed together. But standing on New Zealand soil, facing the people he disappointed to pursue his dream, Seth doubts he and Dimity will convince anyone they're hot and crazy for each other. To his surprise, Dimity is working her magic on everyone and they're all convinced this is the real deal. The problem is, he's almost convinced, too.

Next is another second in the series. This time it's J. M. Stewart's Nic. This is the story of the brother of Luc, hero of the first book in the series. I read and enjoyed Luc's story. Luc is a single father and falls for a woman ten years older than him. If you like that set-up, definitely give it a try. I liked what I saw of Nic in the first book and can't wait to see how he finds his HEA.

J. M. Stewart
Rossi Brothers Series

Single father Nic Rossi’s only desire is to raise his little girl with the same love and security his grandparents gave him and his siblings. That is, until Anna Thompson and her frightened daughter walk into his family restaurant, looking for employment, and turn his carefully ordered world upside down.

On the run from her abusive ex, Anna wants one thing: a quiet place like Angel Bay to raise her daughter. But she needs a job to pay for that dream, even if her new boss is a man whose sheer size makes her tremble. Yet Nic’s capacity for kindness leaves her feeling safe for the first time in years, and the gentle giant slowly awakens her long-dormant passion.

Then her ex-husband turns up like a bad penny, threatening not only Anna’s safe haven but Nic’s daughter in the bargain, forcing them to choose between love and family.

I was first introduced to Sawyer Bennett through her Cold Fury Hockey series. Sexy, athletic heroes and equally incredible heroines. Her newest release is a stand alone contemporary novel about a rock star and a lawyer. Should prove to be a combustible combination.

Sexy Lies and Rock & Roll
Sawyer Bennett

When you're a rock god, fame and fortune are your two best friends, but they can be fickle bed mates. It seems everyone wants a piece of me. I'm being sued, pressured to sign contracts, and fending off rabid women who want to steal my virtue. Just kidding on that one. We all know I don't have much virtue left.

That's why I need Emma Peterson. The sharp-as-a-tack and sexy-as-sin lawyer saved my ass before and I know she can do it again. The only problem is that sweet, prim and totally straight-laced Emma doesn't want anything to do with me. Not professionally, and certainly not personally.

But c'mon. Everyone wants me, and even though it would take a crow bar of epic proportions to get her to spread those sexy legs for me, all I want is her mind. I swear. Her beautiful, brilliant mind to make sense of my crazy world. Good thing I have something up my sleeve to get her to say “yes”. Some might call it blackmail. I call it SOMETHING ELSE.

Looks like Emma Peterson just became my biggest defender. If only I can resist wanting to screw my attorney six ways to Sunday.

If you think I've been reading a lot of contemporary romances, you'd be right! It seems like I'm either into contemporary romances or historical romances. I do hope to get back to fantasy but for now, I bring you another contemporary romance.

Karina Halle
Heat Wave

They say when life closes one door, another one opens.
This door happens to lead to paradise.
And a man I can never, ever have.

Still grieving the loss of her sister who died two years ago, the last thing Veronica "Ronnie" Locke needed was to lose her job at one of Chicago’s finest restaurants and have to move back in with her parents. So when a window of opportunity opens for her – running a kitchen at a small Hawaiian hotel – she’d be crazy not to take it.

The only problem is, the man running the hotel drives her crazy: Logan Shephard. It doesn’t matter that he’s got dark brown eyes, a tall, muscular build that’s sculpted from daily surfing sessions, and a deep Australian accent that makes your toes curl.Kind of an asshole, too.And gets under Ronnie’s skin like no one else.

But the more time Ronnie spends on the island of Kauai, falling in love with the lush land and its carefree lifestyle, the closer she gets to Logan. And the closer she gets to Logan, the more she realizes she may have pegged him all wrong. Maybe it’s the hot, steamy jungles or the invigorating ocean air, but soon their relationship becomes utterly intoxicating.

There’s just one major catch.

The two of them together would incite a scandal neither Ronnie, nor her family, would ever recover from.

Forbidden, Illicit, off-limits – sometimes the heat is worth surrendering to, even if you get burned.

Note: this is a standalone novel, unrelated to any previous books. It does NOT contain cheating of any kind.

Hey, look! It's a new release that is not a contemporary romance! I love the premise. It sounds cool and funny and creepy and certainly different.

Extreme Makeover
Dan Wells

The satirical new suspense about a health and beauty company that accidentally develops a hand lotion that can overwrite your DNA.

Lyle Fontanelle is the chief scientist for NewYew, a health and beauty company experimenting with a new, anti-aging hand lotion. As more and more anomalies crop up in testing, Lyle realizes that the lotion's formula has somehow gone horribly wrong. It is actively overwriting the DNA of anyone who uses it, turning them into physical clones of someone else. Lyle wants to destroy the formula, but NewYew thinks it might be the greatest beauty product ever designed--and the world's governments think it's the greatest weapon.

New York Times bestselling author Dan Wells brings us a gripping corporate satire about a health and beauty company that could destroy the world.

Monday, September 19, 2016

This Week's New Releases

So is it cooling off where you live? Here, it's actually cool in the mornings, only in the 70's. lol  Still hot during the day but in another month we'll stop having to run the air conditioning, at least at night.

She writes historical romances beautifully. She writes romantic suspense amazingly. With her spin-off from her successful I-Team series, she started her Colorado High Country series. I just finished the first book, Barely Breathing, and can't wait to read Vic and Eric's story!

Slow Burn
Pamela Clare
Contemporary Romance
Colorado High Country series/Book 2

Victoria Woodley is done with men. Fresh off a dating nightmare, she flies from her home in Chicago to Scarlet Springs to take part in her best friend’s wedding. Who picks her up at the airport? Eric Hawke. Of course. She made a fool of herself over him last time she was here. He’s cocky, charming, and sexy as sin. But the fact that she’s attracted to him is all the proof she needs that he’s bad news. She would ignore him if she could. But he’s the best man, and she’s the maid of honor. She can’t just tell him to jump in a lake—especially not when her lips are locked with his.

Eric isn’t looking for a relationship. Between running the firehouse and volunteering for the county’s search and rescue team, he has enough on his plate. He doesn’t need to get tangled up with a woman from the big city, especially one whose idea of roughing it is going without designer coffee. Yet from the moment he looks into Victoria’s big brown eyes, the attraction he feels is too strong to deny. Faster than he can imagine, the spark of desire that has smoldered between them since the first day they met will flare into full-blown passion.

But can Eric convince Victoria to set aside her doubts and trust him with her heart before their time together runs out?

Oh, this sounds chillingly different! Something out of my usual comfort zone. Yes, this will no doubt find it's way to the TBR pile.

The Female of the Species
Mindy McGinnis
Young Adult/Suspense

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.

So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.

Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

A favorite series, Kate and Curran are also a favorite couple of many a reader. Hard to believe this is the ninth full length book in the series.

Magic Binds
Ilona Andrews
Urban Fantasy
Kate Daniels Series/Book 9

Mercenary Kate Daniels knows all too well that magic in post-Shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But nothing she’s faced could have prepared her for this…Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar…

Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person Kate can ask for help is long dead.

The odds are impossible. The future is grim. But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules…

I have not read anything by this author, but have heard good things about her novels. The blurb intrigues and it's the first book in a new series so I won't be starting behind!

The Queen of Blood
Sarah Beth Durst
The Queens of Renthia Series/Book 1

An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure.

Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .

But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.

With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.

When I was little, maybe 6 or 7 years old, I was fascinated by the bookmobile. I wanted to be the bookmobile lady when I grew up. To drive around all day, surrounded by books, pure joy! This next release is the adult version of that dream.

The Bookshop on the Corner
Jenny Colgan

Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.

Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

ARC Review: Sunrise Crossing

Sunrise Crossing
Jodi Thomas
Contemporary Romance
Ransom Canyon/Book 4
Harlequin/August 30, 2016

Yancy Grey is slowly putting his life back together after serving time for petty theft. As he rebuilds an old house, he finally has a sense of stability, but he can't stop thinking of himself as just an ex-con. Until one night, he finds a mysterious dark-haired beauty hiding in his loft. But who is she, and what secret is she protecting? 

The art gallery Parker Lacey manages is her life—she has no time for friends, and certainly not lovers. But when her star artist begs Parker for help, she finds herself in a pickup truck, headed for the sleepy town of Crossroads. A truck driven by a strong, silent cowboy… 

Gabe Snow has been a drifter since he left Crossroads at seventeen after a violent incident. When he accepts a job in his hometown, he'll have to decide whether he can put the worst night of his life behind him and build a future in the community that raised him.

I love this series! Every time I visit Crossroads, Texas it's like going home. It is that welcoming feeling you get when you know you can simply relax and enjoy yourself. No stress, no worries, just sitting back and taking in the goings on. That is how Ms. Thomas' stories make me feel. 

Yancey Grey has been a character since the first book. I was pleased to see he was getting his own story since I have been curious about him and his background. More as the series progressed. He is a different hero, having been in prison and now trying to live his life so he can be proud of himself. He's become a familiar face in Crossroads and has many friends. He's an easy character to like and Ms. Thomas did well in creating his backstory. His romance is a slow burn beginning with friendship, companionship and then leading to romance. I loved it!

Parker Lacey is in love with her life but she also feels there is something missing. She can't figure out what, then she travels to Crossroads and meets a grumpy, sexy cowboy who seems to be her complete opposite. But it turns out in their case opposites do attract. Parker and her cowboy have a romance of physical attraction but it leads to a more deeper friendship and love. It was fun to see the quiet, sometimes cranky cowboy come around to not only enjoying spending time with Parker but needing to spend time with her. This was a romance between two people who have lived through some hard times and are used to depending on themselves. You could say they were both loners in a way. I liked seeing how they turned that into a couple who learned to depend on each other. 

A trip to Crossroads wouldn't be complete with a some suspense, danger and a little mystery. Ms. Thomas knows how to blend all these things together, along with the romance, to make a beautiful story that draws the reader in and makes you believe these people and this place truly exists. 

Rating: A

Ransom Canyon Series 

Winter's Camp (novella)
Ransom Canyon
Rustler's Moon
Lone Heart Pass
Sunrise Crossing

Monday, September 12, 2016

This Week's New Releases

It's Monday... is there anything positive to follow up to that? I did have a great weekend. Didn't do much but reading and shopping. Which is good right? This week is a mix of contemporary, mystery, women's fiction and young adult. It's a short list which is good for my wallet and my TBR pile. How's your TBR pile?

I was happy to hear the show Longmire would be continuing on Netflix with season five starting September 23. I've enjoyed the show but, as books to movies and TV shows, the book(s) is usually better. So while I'll still watch the show, I also get to look forward to the books!

An Obvious Fact
Craig Johnson
Walt Longmire Series/Book 12

In the midst of the largest motorcycle rally in the world, a young biker is run off the road and ends up in critical condition. When Sheriff Walt Longmire and his good friend Henry Standing Bear are called to Hulett, Wyoming—the nearest town to America's first national monument, Devils Tower—to investigate, things start getting complicated.

As competing biker gangs; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; a military-grade vehicle donated to the tiny local police force by a wealthy entrepreneur; and Lola, the real-life femme fatale and namesake for Henry's '59 Thunderbird (and, by extension, Walt's granddaughter) come into play, it rapidly becomes clear that there is more to get to the bottom of at this year's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally than a bike accident. After all, in the words of Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Adventures of Sherlock Holmes the Bear won't stop quoting, "There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact."

Alice Clayton's Cocktail series is such a fun adventure in sexy romances. Now Clayton is teaming up with Nina Bocci to bring the new series, Broad Abroad, to life. I loved the movie Under the Tuscan Sun so the idea of starting over, in a foreign country tempts me to no end.

Roman Crazy
Alice ClaytonNina Bocci
Contemporary Romance
Broads Abroad Series/Book 1

Avery Bardot steps off the plane in Rome, looking for a fresh start. She’s left behind a soon-to-be ex-husband in Boston and plans to spend the summer with her best friend Daisy, licking her wounds—and perhaps a gelato or two. But when her American-expat friend throws her a welcome party on her first night, Avery’s thrown for a loop when she sees a man she never thought she’d see again: Italian architect Marcello Bianchi.

Marcello was the man—the one who got away. And now her past is colliding with her present, a present where she should be mourning the loss of her marriage and—hey, that fettuccine is delicious! And so is Marcello…

Slipping easily into the good life of summertime in Rome, Avery spends her days exploring a city that makes art historians swoon, and her nights swooning over her unexpected what was old is new again romance. It’s heady, it’s fevered, it’s wanton, and it’s crazy. But could this really be her new life? Or is it just a temporary reprieve before returning to the land of twin-set cardigans and crustless sandwiches?

A celebration of great friendship, passionate romance, and wonderful food, Roman Crazy is a lighthearted story of second chances and living life to the fullest.

Carolyn Brown is known for her western romances featuring hot cowboys. This is not a romance but a about a second chance that is long over-due. Love the sound of this blurb!

The Lullabye Sky
Carolyn Brown
Women's Fiction

After seven years of misery and abuse, it’s all over—Hannah O’Malley is officially divorced. Hallelujah. It’s like every Christmas in her life all rolled up into one glorious day. Not only does Hannah get to keep her grandmother’s spacious old house, but she has full custody of her sparky five-year-old daughter. All Hannah has to do now is put the past behind her.

And now that she’s free, she wants to make a difference. With the help of her warm, close-knit circle of friends—including her high school crush, Travis Wilson—Hannah begins turning her home into a safe house for other women who’ve endured the pain she’s known. But even as life and laughter return to Hannah’s home, she’s haunted by the memory of her dangerously unstable ex. With a second chance at love on the horizon, Hannah must face down her past in order to let the sunshine back into her life.

A young adult to round out the short list this week. This sounds like a story that could easily pull me in fast and not let go until the end. Love the premise!

The Forgetting
Sharon Cameron
Young Adult/Fantasy

What isn't written, isn't remembered. Even your crimes.

Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person's memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn't written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.

Monday, August 29, 2016

This Week's New Releases

August is almost over and it is going out with a bang! So many new releases this week - how on earth will I ever catch up on my reading? Well, I'm ready if the Zombie Apocalypse ever happens. I can survive with my Gardetto's and my TBR pile. :)

I've been looking forward to this one. I've truly enjoyed the previous books in this series (can't believe I'm actually current!) Can't wait to see how Denys and Lola find their Happy Ever After.

No Mistress of Mine
Laura Lee Gurhke
Historical Romance
An American Heiress in London/Book 4

After spending his youth as one of the wildest rakes in the ton, Lord Denys Somerton has devoted the past six years to putting his past behind him. He is determined to fulfill his duties, find a suitable wife, and start a family, but that plan changes when Lola Valentine—the red-haired temptress from his past—returns to London, sparking the same irresistible desires that almost ruined his life once before.

Lola is a woman with no romantic illusions. She knew love would never be enough for a British lord and an American girl from the wrong side of the tracks. For Denys’s sake, she walked away from him and the glittering life he offered. But when an unexpected inheritance brings her back to London, Lola discovers the passion between them is as hot as ever. Can they vanquish it, or will it burn out of control again and destroy them both?

I have not read anything by Emma Cane but I like the blurb and the hero is a professor and an author. Not the most common of hero occupations. Could be interesting!

At Fairfield Orchard
Emma Cane
Contemporary Romance
Fairfield Orchard Series/Book 1

For Amy Fairfield, the family orchard is more than a business. With its blossom-scented air and rows of trees framed by the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s her heritage and her future. But right now, it’s also a headache. Putting a painful breakup behind her, Amy has come home to help revitalize Fairfield Orchard. She doesn’t have time for the handsome—distracting—professor who wants to dig into her family’s history for his research.

Jonathan Gebhart knows he needs the Fairfields’ cooperation to make his new book a success. As for Amy—nothing in his years of academia could have prepared him for their sudden and intense attraction. He doesn’t want to complicate her life further, especially since she seems uneasy about his poking around in the past and he knows he’s not the sort of man built for forever. But some sparks can’t help but grow, and Jonathan and Amy may just learn that unexpected love can be the sweetest of all.

I couldn't help but laugh after reading the first sentence of the blurb. It sounds like something that might happen to me, except I'd go into anaphylactic shock since I'm allergic to almost everything. I do like the cover - it has a festive look to it. I imagine this will be a "feel good" romance. Something we can all use.

Run to You
Rachel Lacey
Contemporary Romance
Risking it All Series/Book 1


Moments after meeting the most gorgeous guy ever, Gabby Winters promptly gets stung by a zillion yellowjackets and falls-not gracefully-into a stream. Yup, Ethan Hunter is trouble with a capital "hot," and Gabby definitely needs to keep her distance. Except in the small town of Haven, there's nowhere to hide from Ethan's sexy, infectious grin . . . and all the residents are conspiring against her.

At the center of the town's matchmaking is Ethan's grandmother, who's convinced their relationship is a done deal. Rather than break her heart, Gabby and Ethan find themselves cornered into pretending to be falling in love. The problem: there's serious sizzling attraction between them. And if this charade continues, they won't fool just the entire town - they might fool themselves too . . .

I've been enjoying this series from the beginning and eagerly waiting for Yancy's story. The wait is over! And the cover - like this one too! It's so pretty!

Sunrise Crossing
Jodi Thomas
Contemporary Romance
Ransom Canyon Series/Book 4

Yancy Grey is slowly putting his life back together after serving time for petty theft. As he rebuilds an old house, he finally has a sense of stability, but he can't stop thinking of himself as just an ex-con. Until one night, he finds a mysterious dark-haired beauty hiding in his loft. But who is she, and what secret is she protecting?

The art gallery Parker Lacey manages is her life—she has no time for friends, and certainly not lovers. But when her star artist begs Parker for help, she finds herself in a pickup truck, headed for the sleepy town of Crossroads. A truck driven by a strong, silent cowboy…

Gabe Snow has been a drifter since he left Crossroads at seventeen after a violent incident. When he accepts a job in his hometown, he'll have to decide whether he can put the worst night of his life behind him and build a future in the community that raised him.

I've read the first book, which is a novella, have the first complete book on the TBR pile so of course I'll be getting this one. I like this author's writing style -funny, sexy and with just the right amount of snarky humor!

For Better or Worse
Lauren Layne
Contemporary Romance
Wedding Belles Series/Book 2

When small-town girl Heather Fowler finally gets promoted from assistant to actual wedding planner, she’s determined to make it as one of Manhattan’s elite Wedding Belles. Unfortunately, her first client demands an opulent black-tie affair at the Plaza…in five months’ time. Heather’s days quickly become a flurry of cake tastings, dress-fittings, RSVP cards, and bridal tantrums. But what she’s really losing sleep over is the live music blaring from her playboy neighbor’s apartment all night.

Five years ago, Josh Tanner was an up-and-comer on Wall Street, complete with the penthouse and the migraines. But a grim cancer diagnosis made him realize there is more to life than the corner office. If only he could convince his pretty, workaholic neighbor to let loose, too. As Heather lets down her guard, Josh is surprised when he starts falling for the sweet, vulnerable woman hiding beneath those power suits. Soon, it’s Heather’s turn to convince Josh to take the biggest risk of all: love.

New-to-me author with the first in a series. Small town romance between a former NFL player and a high school physical therapist. Didn't know high school football teams had physical therapists. Interesting...

Winner Takes All
Erin Kern
Contemporary Romance
Champion Valley Series/Book 1


Money. Fame. Endorsements. Blake Carpenter had it all—before his professional football career spiraled out of control. Determined to rebuild his life, he takes on coaching the high school team in his Colorado hometown. Despite a few fumbles, Blake knows he can lead these boys to victory. As long as he can keep his eyes on the prize and off the team's distractingly gorgeous physical therapist.

Annabelle Turner knows all about the scandal that cost Blake his NFL career, and she'll be damned if she's going to let mistakes hurt her team. What she doesn't count on is the intense attraction that turns every heated run-in they have into a wildly erotic competition. Point by point, play by play, kiss by kiss, they try to keep things professional for the good of the team. But when the score is this close—and the passion this fierce—it's anybody's game...

Absolutely, positively LOVED the first book, An Ember in the Ashes and I've been waiting impatiently for this one! You must read the first book before this one.

***SPOILERS*** in the blurb if you have not read the first book.

A Torch Against the Night
Sabaa Tahir
Fantasy/Young Adult
An Ember in the Ashes Series/Book 2

Elias and Laia are running for their lives.
After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf - the Empire's most secure and dangerous prison - to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars' survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene - Elias's former friend and the Empire's newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus's will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own - one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape... and kill them both.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

ARC Review: A Promise of Fire

A Promise of Fire
Amanda Bouchet
Romantic Fantasy
Sourcebooks Casablanca/August 2, 2016
The Kingmaker Chronicles/Book 1

Catalia "Cat" Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice… 

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

The cover grabbed my attention right off. It's beautiful! I love the colors, the shading and the intense look on Cat's face. It gives the reader an idea of how vivid the action will be. It is action packed but it's also political with different royal families of power. And family plays an important role on both the traditional family represented by Griffin's and the rather non-traditional represented by Cat's circus family.

Cat is an anti-heroine and she is wonderful! She made me laugh so many times I lost count. She does not want anything to do with heroics. She's a real smartass in the best possible way. In fact, she almost seems to enjoy threatening people who piss her off. But when she truly needs to, she comes through for those she cares about. Even at the point of risking her life to save others. She is a heroine, whether she likes it or not.

This is a fantasy wrapped in political intrigue with noble families of both Magoi (magical) and Hoi Polloi(non-magical). Cat is from a powerful Magoi family which she keeps to herself for fear she will be found by her more-evil-than-Satan mother. But Cat is incredibly powerful and it is Griffin's luck and perseverance which places Cat in his arms.

Griffin and his merry band of men are soldiers searching for Cat and when they find her, they kidnap her. Not the best start to a romance but eventually Cat comes around once she gets to know Griffin and his men. They are placed in some epic battles, often with little hope of survival. But Cat is willing to use her considerable powers to save her new friends. I loved the battle scenes and how Griffin, his men and Cat all worked together to defeat overwhelming odds. The times between battles is when Cat learns more about Griffin and what his family hopes to accomplish now that they have won the war for Sinta. Although, they still have more wars to fight.

The powers Cat and others have are magical, gifts of the Gods. There are numerous references to various gods and Cat even talks to them and they seem to reply back, just not in the usual form. Think more of god-like reply with thunder and lightning. I liked this aspect of the story but also found it a little confusing between keeping up with who's who of the Magoi, Hoi Polloi, the armies, magical creatures and the gods.

This world Ms. Bouchet has created is complex and entertaining. I look forward to January's release of Breath of Fire and seeing what happens next in the lives of Cat, Griffin, their families and friends. Definitely a strong start to this new series.

Rating: B+

The Kingmaker Chronicles ~

A Promise of Fire
Breath of Fire (January 3, 2017)
Heart on Fire (Fall 2017)