Monday, July 25, 2016

This Week's New Releases

So many good contemporaries coming out this week! Since I started this weekly feature I have added a bunch to my TBR pile. As usual, plenty of contemporary romances. I have no problem finding these because it's what I read the most of. I would love to see more historical releases so if anyone knows of any, please let us know in the comments.

I have read one Lauren Layne book so far (Blurred Lines) and enjoyed the heck out of it. While To Have and To Hold is the first book in a new series, there is a prequel of sorts, the novella, From This Day Forward. I have yet to read it but like the blurb as well as the blurb for this one. And for some reason the term "fancy-pants" has always cracked me up!

To Have and To Hold
Lauren Layne
Contemporary Romance
The Wedding Belles/Book 1

USA TODAY bestselling author Lauren Layne is the “queen of witty dialogue and sexy scenes” (Rachel Van Dyken)! Now, Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, her sizzling brand new contemporary romance series about three ambitious wedding planners who can make any bride’s dream come true... but their own.

Discovering her fiance is an international con man just moments before they exchange vows devastates celebrity wedding planner Brooke Baldwin's business—and breaks her heart. Now a pariah in Los Angeles, she seeks a fresh start in New York City and thinks she’s found it with her first bridal client, a sweet—if slightly spoiled—hotel heiress. Then she meets the uptight businessman who’s holding the purse strings.

Seth Tyler wishes he could write a blank check and be done with his sister Maya's fancy-pants wedding. Unfortunately, micromanaging the event is his only chance at proving Maya’s fiance is a liar. Standing directly in his way is the stunning blonde wedding planner whose practiced smiles and sassy comebacks both irritate and arouse him. He needs Brooke’s help. But can he persuade a wedding planner on a comeback mission to unplan a wedding? And more importantly, how will he convince her that the wedding she should be planning... is theirs?

A heroine named Vivian Leigh? I can't resist! And the hero has a heart attack? I'm curious as to how old he is. And I like what I've previously read from Ms. Gibson. All reasons to add to the list!

Just Kiss Me
Rachel Gibson
Contemporary Romance

"Hello, Ms. Vivian . . . it's been a long time.

And with those words, Vivian Leigh Rochet nearly melted. It's been years since she last saw Harrison Whitley-Shuler. She was a teenager scrubbing houses for a living. He was the gorgeous son of rich parents, not fit for the likes of her.

Vivian had vowed to get out of Charleston, become a big Hollywood star, and stick it to the snooty girls who made her cry.

She got what she wanted—and more—but why does her glamorous life seem so trivial?

Harrison got out too . . . making it all the way to Wall Street, until a heart attack forced him to trade in his cufflinks for a good set of hand tools.

Making furniture soothes his soul, but escaping the Whitley-Shuler heritage is nearly impossible. And now he's come face-to-face with the one who got away. He's not looking for love. He's not even looking for sex . . . so why is resisting her the hardest thing he's ever done?

I decided to get this next release from Netgalley so I have a little head start on reading it. So far, the heroine's experiences with her neighbors are much better than mine have ever been!

Don't Tempt Me
Lori Foster
Contemporary Romance
The Guthrie Brothers/Book 1

Love comes along when it's least wanted.

Jason Guthrie has no time for entanglements—between helping out his widowed brother and teenage nephew and getting his hometown back on its feet, his days are spoken for. But his nights are another story… And when his lovely new neighbor, Honor Brown, reluctantly accepts his help in remodeling her house, Jason finds himself wishing his handyman skills could knock down the defenses she keeps building around herself.

Martial arts teacher Sullivan Dean knows real danger when he sees it—even when it takes the form of the gorgeous blonde helping her friend move in across the street. After putting his wayward past behind him to focus on teaching control to troubled kids, Sullivan has learned to avoid party girls like Lexie Perkins. But Sullivan can't seem to keep his hands off the real woman behind that flirty charm—or keep his heart from landing at her feet…

Kasie West is a favorite Young Adult author of mine. She writes characters who are genuine in their feelings and situations. Love the premise of this one. Can't wait to dive in!

P.S. I Like You
Kasie West 
Young Adult/Contemporary

What if the person you were falling for was a total mystery?

While Lily is spacing out in Chemistry one day, she picks up her pencil and scribbles a line from one of her favorite songs on the desk. The next day, someone else has written back to her on the desk! Soon enough Lily and the mystery student are exchanging notes, and lyrics, and even sharing secrets. When Lily finds out that her anonymous pen pal is a guy, she's flustered -- and kind of feels like she's falling for him. She and her best friend set out to unravel the identity of the letter writer -- but when the truth is revealed, the guy is the LAST person Lily could have ever imagined it to be. Now that Lily knows the truth, can she untangle her feelings and gather the courage to listen to her heart? 

 From beloved author Kasie West (The Distance Between Us) comes an utterly charming story about mixed messages, missed connections, and the magic of good old-fashioned secret admirer notes. 

I've been waiting for this book ever since reading the first book in the series, All Hell Breaks Loose. There was enough of a teaser for the second book to make me want it right now.

Hell Breaks Loose
Sophie Jordan
Contemporary Romance
Devil's Rock Series/Book 2

Hell hath no hunger like a man let out of a cage . . .

Shy and awkward, First Daughter Grace Reeves has always done what she’s told. Tired of taking orders, she escapes her security detail for a rare moment of peace. Except her worst nightmare comes to life when a ruthless gang of criminals abducts her. Her only choice is to place her trust in Reid Allister, an escaped convict whose piercing gaze awakens something deep inside her. Reid is nothing like her other captors.

He’s tougher, smarter…and one blistering look from him makes her hotter than any man ever has.

Reid spent years plotting escape and revenge . . .years without a woman in his bed. For this hardened felon, Grace Reeves isn’t just out of his league—she’s from another planet, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting her. Escaping Devil’s Rock was tough, but resisting this woman could be the end of him. For a man with nothing to lose, protecting her . . . claiming her as his own, becomes more necessary than his next breath.

When I was a little kid, I would fall asleep with my mom while we listened to a radio mystery show. I don't remember any of the stories but I've always loved a good mystery. Maybe that's where I first got my love of mysteries.

The Unseen World
Liz Moore

The moving story of a daughter’s quest to discover the truth about her beloved father’s hidden past. 

Ada Sibelius is raised by David, her brilliant, eccentric, socially inept single father, who directs a computer science lab in 1980s-era Boston. Home-schooled, Ada accompanies David to work every day; by twelve, she is a painfully shy prodigy. The lab begins to gain acclaim at the same time that David's mysterious history comes into question. When his mind begins to falter, leaving Ada virtually an orphan, she is taken in by one of David's colleagues. Soon after she embarks on a mission to uncover her father’s secrets: a process that carries her from childhood to adulthood. What Ada discovers on her journey into a virtual universe will keep the reader riveted until The Unseen World's heart-stopping, fascinating conclusion.

Look! It's an urban fantasy!

Thunder Road
Sierra Dean
Urban Fantasy

Being Chosen was supposed to be a gift. 

That’s what Tallulah Corentine’s parents told her when they handed her over to the Rain Chasers on her seventh birthday. It was an honor to be born with a destiny, to be hand selected by the gods before taking her first breath. She should be overjoyed.

Twenty years later, Tallulah is still waiting for the gift. She might have the power of the storm at her fingertips, but she’s spent her whole adult life living under a cloud. 

 A cross-country trip to find the wayward son of Seth, god of the storm, turns into a fight for her life when she dupes Death out of a valuable treasure. With only a wily con man, a dangerously handsome bad-luck priest, and a lot of lightning to help her, can she deliver the package and keep herself out of an early grave?

Or will Seth be looking for a new Rain Chaser before it’s all over?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

TBR Challenge: Catch of the Day ~ Kristan Higgins

This month's suggested theme is appropriately about the RITA Awards. Last Saturday this year's awards were presented but the TBR Challenge has to do with past winners and nominees. Wendy was kind enough to post links to past RITA winners because, while I might be particular as to how my books are shelved, I don't have a clue which ones were RITA winners.

When I spotted the Kristan Higgins win in 2008, I knew I had Kristan Higgins books on the TBR pile and luckily found my winner for this month's challenge.

Catch of the Day
Kristan Higgins
Contemporary Romance
Gideon's Cover Series/Book 1
Harlequin/October 1, 2007

First date à la Maggie: Take one lovelorn diner owner (me), a generous helping of nosy local gossips, a dollop of envy at married sister's perfect life, a splash of divine intervention (my matchmaking priest). Combine ingredients with one adorable puppy, add a strong but silent lobsterman with a hidden heart of gold and watch the sparks fly.

This is a cute romance set in a small Maine town where everyone not only knows everyone, but they know everyone's business. No need for Facebook in Gideon's Cove!

Maggie doesn't exactly help things when it comes to the gossip. She is a talker. There are times when she doesn't seem to have control over her mouth. She is funny, with her babbling as well as her internal dialogue showing her insecurities as well as her love for her family, friends and the town itself. Maggie made the mistake of having an insta-crush on the new priest. I do have to give her some slack since she didn't know he was the new priest and he is young, handsome and Irish with a beautiful Irish brogue. The problem is Maggie continues her crush, not too obvious but still... it's a small town and everyone knows. Maggie's dating woes continue with her family and Father Tim (her insta-crush) setting her up on blind dates. It's funny and sad at the same time. I couldn't help but laugh at Maggie's dating experiences and didn't blame her for feeling she had the worst luck in blind dates because she really did!

Then Malone comes along and he is such an anti-hero it's almost adorable. He is a mono-syllabic, grumpy loner who doesn't let anyone one in. He frustrates and infuriates the hell out of Maggie but she doesn't seem to be able to give up on him. The reality is that he is a true friend and can keep a secret probably better than Father Tim. (Malone's mono-syllabic nature helps!) Malone doesn't come anywhere near looking like a GQ model. He's a lobsterman who works hard and it shows in his choice of practical clothing and general scruffiness. He's also stingy with his smiles, but when he does bestow one on Maggie, she feels like she's been given a gift because it's genuine. I loved Malone!

The town is small, Maggie tends to walk or ride her bike everywhere. I'd love to live somewhere like that except for the big drawback - the gossip. Maggie is the owner of the local diner plus she grew up in Gideon's Cove so she knows everyone. And they know her and her history with men. I felt sorry for her because she is a good person, always willing to help anyone in need. Thankfully, Malone was in need. But Maggie also needed someone too and while I can't say Malone exactly went after Maggie, he doesn't completely give up on her either. Instead he gives her space and time to figure things out. Some readers might have preferred Malone go after Maggie but I liked his style of leaving Maggie alone for a while and letting her make the decisions she needed to make before they could be a couple.

Kristan Higgins lets readers use their imagination when it comes to the bedroom scenes. There is plenty of sexual tension and implications making it clear what happens with Maggie and Malone behind closed doors but no detailed description of body parts, etc. I was actually fine with that and focused on the emotional part of the story rather than the more physical.

The story is fairly predictable but cute and sweet. Catch of the Day turned out to be a quick, enjoyable read and I look forward to returning to Gideon's Cove.

Rating: B+

Gideon's Cover Series ~

Catch of the Day
The Next Best Thing
Somebody to Love

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Review: An Ember in the Ashes ~ Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes
Sabaa Tahir
An Ember in the Ashes/Book 1
Young Adult/Fantasy
Razorbill/February 9, 2016

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

I find myself almost wishing I had waited to read this, at least until the second book is released. It was an incredible experience and with only one book, I'm addicted to the world Sabaa Tahir has created. I did in fact listen to the audio book, not once but twice! It was that good! Kudos goes to the narrators as well, Fiona Hardingham and Steve West.

From the beginning, I was drawn into the lives of Laia and Elias. They both live in different worlds. Laia is a scribe, one of the conquered, while Elias seems to live the life of privilege, the conqueror. But neither have much, if any, control over their lives. Laia is thrown out of her dismal home when her brother is arrested. She barely escapes the Empire's soldiers and seeks out the rebels, hoping they will help her rescue her brother. In exchange for the rebel's help, Laia must become a house slave to the Commandant of Blackthorne Academy. Laia is a teenager, seventeen, but her hard life has given her the determination to overcome horrendous odds in just surviving the Commandant.

The Academy is where the Martial Empire trains their soldiers. The training starts at age six. The children are brought to the academy and given training many adults would not survive. Sadly, many of the children do not survive the harsh environment of the Academy. The descriptions are brutal, conditions at the Academy are severe. The weak do not survive here. They are eliminated, mostly by the Commandant who takes sadistic pleasure in whipping the boys who disobey her rules. She killed a ten year old who tried to escape, was captured by the Masks and then punished by the Commandant. I absolutely hated her.

The Masks are the soldiers who have graduated from the Academy. They got their name from the masks they wear, which they are not allowed to remove. The soldiers received their masks while still in training and the masks slowing begin to "bond" to the soldiers' faces. The description is, disturbing, and I had the impression the masks are made out of some type of pliable metal. I don't remember if it was mentioned what exactly they are made of but they gradually attached the the face and head of each trainee until they become a part of the soldier.

The whole setting of the Academy is brilliantly developed from the grounds, the trainees' rooms, the kitchen and halls, and the Commandant's quarters. It felt like a real place with not only the physical description but the atmosphere. Everyone always ready to follow orders at a moments notice or be punished for the slightest infraction. This was not a happy place, but rather a prison camouflaged as a military academy where most of the inmates think they want to be there and are brainwashed into believing they are doing the right thing for the Empire.

The character of Laia is a magnificent heroine. She is terribly scared and out of her element when she leaves her home and searches out the rebels. You can feel her terror as she encounters the hostility of the rebels and later the soldiers and the Commandant. You can also feel her resolve to follow through on her mission in the face of the real fear she has for her life. I felt as if I was right there with Laia. The writing is extremely detailed not only the physical components but the emotional turmoil Laia and the other characters go through.

The secondary characters are well developed and fit like puzzle pieces into the story. There are the other soldiers, Elias' best friend Helene was a particular favorite of mine and will be featured more prominently in the second book. She is currently the only female cadet and worked her ass off to get as far as she has. She is confident in her abilities but holds dangerous secrets that could get her killed. I can not wait to learn more about Helene. There is also Marcus, the Commandant's protégé and Elias' enemy. Marcus is evil and has a sadistic streak that given time, will be on the same level as the Commandant's.

We also meet some of the rebels. Resistance fighters who have their own agenda and use Laia to get what they want. Then there is another favorite of mine - kitchen girl. She is a sweet, brave young girl who works in the kitchen at the academy and befriends Laia. Cook is also there and can be brisk and even rude but her heart is in the right place.

The story is told in alternating POV of Laia and Elias. It's interesting how closely their thoughts and feelings parallel each other. They have such different backgrounds and yet have similar moral codes. Laia is a young woman and a slave so you would think she is in the weaker position while Elias is a physically powerful young man, trained in warfare so he must be the more powerful of the two. When in fact, Elias wants desperately to run away from his responsibilities while Laia is embracing hers. Elias is afraid of what he will become if he stays and takes up his role as a Mask.

When I'm reading an incredibly good book, I get pictures in my head. Pictures of the characters and the setting. I'll also find my body tensing up and my heart will feel as if it's beating faster when the scene is reaching the point where I know something dreadful or shocking is about to happen. This book was like that. There are graphic fight scenes, tense situations, adventurous spying, daring escapes and the passion of friendships both new and old. I absolutely loved this book!

Rating: A+

An Ember in the Ashes Series ~

An Ember in the Ashes
A Torch Against the Night (August 30, 2016)
Untitled (Expected publication 2017)

Monday, July 18, 2016

This Week's New Releases

This week there are some new to me authors and some favorites, both longtime and recent. What new releases are you looking forward to?

Oh, boy. This is book four in the series and I have read... zero. So not only do I need to catch up on Ms. Singh's Guild Hunter series, I need to start this one. Who here has been reading this series? Like it?

Rock Wedding
Nalini Singh
Contemporary Romance

After a lifetime of longing for a real family, Sarah Smith thought she’d finally found her home with rock star Abe Bellamy, even if she knew Abe didn’t love her the way she loved him. But their brief relationship, filled with tragedy and heartache, nearly destroyed her. Alone, emotions in turmoil, and already shaky self-esteem shattered, Sarah struggles to pick up the pieces in the wake of their divorce.

Abe knows he’s to blame for the end of his marriage. Caught in a web of painful memories, he pushed away the best thing in his life – the sexy, smart woman he adores – breaking them both in the process. Then fate throws him a second chance to get things right, to prove to Sarah that she means everything to him. Abe desperately wants that second chance at love...even if he knows he doesn’t deserve it.

But can he convince Sarah – now strong and independent without him – to risk her wounded heart one more time?

I've been enjoying Vi Keeland's writing lately and Bossman sounds like what I've come to expect from Ms. Keeland.

Vi Keeland
Contemporary Romance

The first time I met Chase Parker, I didn’t exactly make a good impression.

I was hiding in the bathroom hallway of a restaurant, leaving a message for my best friend to save me from my awful date.

He overheard and told me I was a bitch, then proceeded to offer me some dating advice.

So I told him to mind his own damn business—his own tall, gorgeous, full-of-himself damn business—and went back to my miserable date.

When he walked by my table, he smirked, and I watched his arrogant, sexy ass walk back to his date.

I couldn’t help but sneak hidden glances at the condescending jerk on the other side of the room. Of course, he caught me on more than one occasion, and winked.

When the gorgeous stranger and his equally hot date suddenly appeared at our table, I thought he was going to rat me out.

But instead, he pretended we knew each other and joined us—telling elaborate, embarrassing stories about our fake childhood.

My date suddenly went from boring to bizarrely exciting.

When it was over and we parted ways, I thought about him more than I would ever admit, even though I knew I’d never see him again.

I mean, what were the chances I’d run into him again in a city with eight million people?
Then again…

What were the chances a month later he’d wind up being my new sexy boss?

A new Young Adult from a debut author is a reason to get happy. For me at least because 1) I enjoy finding new authors & 2) I like reading the YA genre, even though I'm no longer a "YA".

That is one of those things I don't understand when people are: shocked, surprised, confused, as to why I read YA. It seems acceptable for adults to enjoy G rated movies and TV shows whose target audiences are kids. So why shouldn't adults enjoy well written books regardless of the age of the MCs?

Signs of You
Emily France
Young Adult/Contemporary

Since sixteen-year-old Riley Strout lost her mother two years ago, her saving grace has been her quirky little family in the grief support group she joined as a freshman. Jay, Kate, and Noah understand her pain; each lost a loved one, and they’ve stuck together in spite of their differences, united by tragedies only they understand.

When Riley thinks she spots her mother shopping in a grocery store, she fears she is suffering some sort of post-traumatic stress. Then Jay and Kate report similar experiences. Only Noah hasn’t had some kind of vision, which is perhaps why he’s become so skeptical and distant.

When Noah disappears, Riley fears she’s lost another loved one. As they frantically search for him, she, Kate, and Jay are drawn into the mystery surrounding a relic that belonged to Jay’s dead father and contains clues about the afterlife. Riley finds herself wrestling with her feelings for both Noah and Jay—which have become clear only in Noah’s absence. If Riley is to help those she loves, and herself, she must set things right with the one she’s lost.

Best friends to lovers AND second chance at love? Yes, PLEASE! Two of my favorite tropes! Now if this was a historical and the heroine was a mail-order bride? Trifecta of romance tropes!

Until Harry
L. A. Casey
Contemporary Romance

He was my best friend, my best not-really-big-brother, and my best protector.

He was my best everything.

He was mine.

Coming home is hard for Lane. Hard because Harry, her beloved uncle, has died suddenly, but also because of him. Kale.

Kale Hunt has been her best friend since childhood. But it was never that simple. He was Lane’s reason for leaving home and moving to New York. Seeing him with someone else, in love with someone else, shouldn’t have hurt. But it did. It really, really did. So she upped sticks and left, started a new life and cut herself off from her past.

But now she’s back, and all the feelings are right there. As if she had never left.

Emotions are running high for everyone, and tragedy has a funny way of bringing people together. But is Lane reading the signs right? Are they still just friends, or is there something more? 

The blurb intrigues me and frankly scares me a little. I'm not sure what to make of it. My guess is that Bo and Sofia have mental health issues and the story is about how they survive their daily struggle. I'll have to read it to find out. 

A World Without You
Beth Revis
Young Adult/Contemporary

Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time. When he was ten, Bo claimed to have witnessed the Titanic hit an iceberg, and at fifteen, he found himself on a Civil War battlefield, horrified by the bodies surrounding him. So when his concerned parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he’s actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have "superpowers."

At Berkshire, Bo falls in love with Sofia, a quiet girl with a tragic past and the superpower of invisibility. Sofia helps Bo open up in a way he never has before. In turn, Bo provides comfort to Sofia, who lost her mother and two sisters at a very young age.

But even the strength of their love isn’t enough to help Sofia escape her deep depression. After she commits suicide, Bo is convinced that she's not actually dead. He believes that she's stuck somewhere in time — that he somehow left her in the past, and now it's his job to save her.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

RITA Award Winners

This past week was the annual Romance Writers of America convention, held this year in beautiful San Diego. The event culminates with the awards dinner on Saturday night. I tend to base my reading selection on friends recs, favorite authors, interesting blurbs or just the cover (yes, I can be shallow at times.)  It is interesting to see who the winners are and maybe find a new author or two to add to the reading lists.

The list of 2016 RITA winners as well as Golden Heart winners can be found here.

Sadly, I have not read any of the winning books. I do have two on my eTBR pile. Brokendown Cowboy by Maisy Yates and Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy. I've read the first book in Maisey Yates' Cooper Ridge series and enjoyed it which is why I have the second book, Brokendown Cowboy.  Sarina Bowen is a favorite of mine so I'll read anything by her. I have a few of Elle Kennedy's books on my eTBR pile and have read some great reviews of her books.

I have a feeling I will be adding to my reading list with some newly crowned winners!

Which of the winning books have you read? Which would you recommend?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Review: Duke of Sin ~ Elizabeth Hoyt

Duke of Sin
Elizabeth Hoyt
Historical Romance
Maiden Lane Series/Book 10
Grand Central Publishing/May 31, 2016


Devastatingly handsome. Vain. Unscrupulous. Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery, is the man London whispers about in boudoirs and back alleys. A notorious rake and blackmailer, Montgomery has returned from exile, intent on seeking revenge on those who have wronged him. But what he finds in his own bedroom may lay waste to all his plans.


Born a bastard, housekeeper Bridget Crumb is clever, bold, and fiercely loyal. When her aristocratic mother becomes the target of extortion, Bridget joins the Duke of Montgomery's household to search for the incriminating evidence-and uncovers something far more dangerous.


Astonished by the deceptively prim-and surprisingly witty-domestic spy in his chambers, Montgomery is intrigued. And try as she might, Bridget can't resist the slyly charming duke. Now as the two begin their treacherous game of cat and mouse, they soon realize that they both have secrets-and neither may be as nefarious-or as innocent-as they appear . . .

Ever since Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery first appeared, he's been a curiosity. He's rude, arrogant, beautiful, rich and powerful. He's also without scrupulous - blackmailing when he can, killing when he deems it necessary. I would not call him likable, only fascinating in the way predatory animals are fascinating. You want to know more about them but you don't want to get too close. Bridget Crumb had to get close, and she found out what was behind the beautiful facade.

Bridget Crumb is an appealing heroine with her practicality and hard work ethics. She didn't grow-up as a pampered lady but started working as household help when she was twelve. She is portrayed as being young (she's 26) but still able to command the household staff with great finesse. She does have a healthy unease regarding the Duke. She knows she must be careful to not be found out by the Duke when searching out his blackmail evidence. She's quite quick with her comebacks when engaging in verbal sparing with the Duke. I do think those were my favorite scenes, with Bridget and Val, sparring with words. Bridget's brilliant riposte of the Duke's parry was like watching a fencing match. Even when she stumbled under the Duke's greater expertise, Bridget still held her own.

The Duke of Montgomery is a cold, demanding aristocrat who doesn't apologize for his words or actions. I didn't find him likable at the beginning and that had not changed much by the end of the story. I liked Bridget well enough but Val didn't leave me feeling as if he had changed overly much from the first time he showed up in the series. He is fiercely protected of those he cares for, but not at all trustworthy. I'm not sure even Bridget should trust him completely.

Val loves playing with people, seeing how they will react to his games he enjoys playing so well. It wouldn't be such an issue except he plays with people's lives. You could make a argument in his favor because the people he blackmails are either doing or have done something wrong. But why should Val get to profit form other's mistakes? He did have a horrible childhood, with disgusting parents who should have been locked in a dungeon. When we find out about his childhood, that is when I felt sympathy for him. For the child he was and the reality he was forced to endure. He is justified in taking actions against those who hurt him and his sister when they were children. But does it justify all of Val's actions?

The plot is centered around Val's blackmailing and Bridget's attempts at stopping him. We do get to see some of Val's sister, Eve, the heroine in the previous book, Sweetest Scoundrel. But the hero and heroine remain the focal point as far as the relationships go. I did like seeing how Bridget's pragmatic nature warred with Val's impractical one. Val's lifestyle is filled with opulence while Bridget takes pleasure in the smaller joys. She also teaches Val to appreciate the simpler things in life. Val teaches Bridget that she is desirable, not only for her body but for her mind.

In the end, I was happy to see Val and Bridget ride off into the sunset towards their HEA but it didn't have the same impact as previous books in the series. I will say I am looking forward to the next book, The Duke of Pleasure. Love what we've seen so far of the hero and heroine.

Rating: C+

Maiden Lane Series ~

Wicked Intentions
Notorious Pleasures
Scandalous Desires
Thief of Shadows
Lord of Darkness
Duke of Midnight
Darling Beast
Dearest Rogue
Sweetest Scoundrel
Duke of Sin
Once Upon a Moonlight Night (novella)
Duke of Pleasure (November 29, 2016)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Cover Reveal: Silence Fallen ~ Patricia Briggs

The cover for the next book in the wonderfully addictive Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs was posted this morning over at Happy Ever After.

You all know how much I love Dan Dos Santos and his art. This is another winner by him. I love the detail work he does. You can see it on the feathers and the tattoo. This cover has a dark feel to it, and I don't mean the background Mercy is against but it feels like the book will deal with a decidedly grim plot line. I have no doubt there will be laughter and snark as well. And we're going to Prague! I've never been there, don't know if I will ever get there so this should be an exciting virtual trip!

Here's the blurb:

In the #1 New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson novels, the coyote shapeshifter has found her voice in the werewolf pack. But when Mercy’s bond with the pack—and her mate—is broken, she’ll learn what it truly means to be alone… 

Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes—only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe… 

Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise… 

There is also an excerpt posted over at Happy Ever After. You can read it here.

Silence Fallen is scheduled for release on March 7, 2017. You can find out more about Mercy Thompson at Patricia Briggs' website.

Monday, July 11, 2016

This Weeks New Releases

I look forward to this weekly post and at the same time I almost dread it. Why you ask? Because it reminds me of how much I want to hideaway for hours and simply read!

It's all contemporaries this week. In comments, please add any releases you are anticipating.

Sarina Bowen is a favorite author of mine. Thanks to Nath for first recommending Ms. Bowen's wonderful Ivy Years series. I have yet to start this new series but have read some glowing reviews.

Sarina Bowen
Contemporary Romance
True North Series/Book 2

She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there's no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie's police chief father. But it's a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.

And... another series I haven't started yet but I have enjoyed Alice Clayton's writing in the past. She writes witty, sexy, fun contemporary romances. If you haven't ready her, give her a try.

Cream of the Crop
Alice Clayton
Contemporary Romance
Hudson Valley Series/Book 2

Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns. She’s got a large circle of friends, a family that loves her dearly, and her dance card is always full with handsome eligible bachelors. What else could a modern gal-about-town wish for? The answer, of course, is...cheese.

Natalie’s favorite part of each week is spending Saturday morning at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, where she indulges her love of all things triple cream. Her favorite booth also indulges her love of all things handsome. Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer, is tall, dark, mysterious, and a bit oblivious. Or so she thinks. 

But that doesn’t stop Natalie from fantasizing about the size of his, ahem, milk can.Romance is churning, passion is burning, and something incredible is rising to the top.Could it

I've read Susan Mallery's Fool's Gold series and liked the small town setting with a diverse character group and some amusing secondary characters. Daughters of the Bride sounds like a sweet romantic story.

Daughters of the Bride
Susan Mallery
Contemporary Romance

With Joy, Love and a Little Trepidation, Courtney, Sienna and Rachel Invite You to the Most Emotional Wedding of the Year… Their Mother's

Courtney ~ The Misfit ~ 

As the awkward one, Courtney Watson may not be as together as her sisters, but she excels at one thing—keeping secrets, including her white-hot affair with a sexy music producer. Planning Mom's wedding exposes her startling hidden life, changing her family's view of her—and how she views herself—forever.

Sienna ~ The Free Spirit ~ 

When Sienna's boyfriend proposes—in front of her mom and sisters, for crying out loud—he takes her by surprise. She already has two broken engagements under her belt. Should she say "I do" even if she's not sure she does?

Rachel ~ The Cynic ~ 

Rachel thought love would last forever…right up until her divorce. As Mom's wedding day draws near and her ex begs for a second chance, she's forced to acknowledge some uncomfortable truths about why her marriage failed, and decide if she'll let pride stand in the way of her own happily-ever-after.

This sounds like a fun, tropical romantic suspense. A little on the short side, 222 pages per Amazon. Which is actually a good length for a beach/vacation read. I've read some of Lauren Blakely's novels and she writes steamy romances. Not too dark but with plenty of action.

The Sapphire Affair
Lauren Blakely
Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Jewel Series/Book 1

Bounty hunter Jake Harlowe knows how to track a criminal. So when a group of swindled shareholders hires him to trail their former CEO, Jake expects a quick trip to the Cayman Islands to close another case. Until a devastatingly beautiful woman gets in the way.

Steph Anderson is visiting the Caymans for a rock climbing and dive trip—or so she tells Jake. She’s really trying to find out whether or not her stepfather embezzled money from his company. The last thing Steph needs is the distraction of a sexy, charming man whose kisses drive her wild.

Soon, the pair discover they’re after the same target—and millions in jewels. While Jake can’t be certain Steph isn’t working for her stepfather, and Steph can’t be certain Jake isn’t after the diamonds for himself, they can agree the heat between them is intense, and neither can deny the passion for long.

But the morning after, Steph discovers that she just might have slept with the enemy, and now she’ll have to outwit him to get everything she needs…

Friday, July 8, 2016

Friday Video ~ Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

This is a trailer for a video game! Doesn't this look like a movie trailer? The concept would actually make a great book or movie.

This is the game play trailer. Warning: Some might find it a little too bloody and violent.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


Last week was we had a crazy good time. We got out of the heat of Phoenix for a lesser heat. It's was only in the upper 80's in Anaheim, so not too bad. Our last day, Friday, July 1st, was beautiful with highs in the 70's. You can't imagine what a treat it was to be out in that weather in the summer.

We haven't been to Disneyland in 6-7 years and a lot has changed. It's also Disneyland's 60th Anniversary Celebration so there is a ton of stuff going on. Fun rides, great shows and so much delicious (but expensive) food!

With the release of Finding Dory movie, Nemo and Dory items are popular. These treats were so cute but expensive. At $10.99 it was "look but don't touch".
Micky Mouse!
These next treats were a bit more reasonable at only $4.99 each. Still a little out of my price range for something that looks good but not sure of the taste.
Tigger Tails!
These cute little cakes tempted me but I decided to wait and search for funnel cakes instead. Sadly, no funnel cakes at Disneyland. : (
I don't go on as many rides as I use to. Between my vertigo and my neck problems, I have to be careful when choosing rides. I still managed to have loads of fun with hubby and the boys. Pirates of the Carribean is always a favorite, especially when it's hot out! You get out of the sun and it's cool inside the building where the ride is. Turns out Indiana Jones is not a good one for my neck. Much too jerky. But the Jungle Cruise was fun and relaxing. The train that travels around the park was not working. That's always been a good ride to go on when you are too tired to walk anymore. Sadly, our feet did not get a break this trip!

It turns out my favorite rides were the water rides. Splash Mountain at Disneyland and Grizzly River Run at California Adventure.

I don't have pictures of either ride, turns out I'm terrible at remembering to take pictures. But here are a few to give you an idea of what the rides look like if you've never been.

This is Splash Mountain. We got pretty wet. I did have my husband sitting in front of me so I was lulled into a false sense of security, thinking he would block much of the water. (He's 6'1). Nope. The water comes high enough over the sides that everyone got plenty wet.

The second picture is of the boys when they went on by themselves later in the evening. Clearly, they were having a great time. lol  They did enjoy the ride but are not crazy about getting their picture taken, even by Disney. I went ahead and bought the download since it's next to impossible to get a picture of either of them. Nick is the one in front, looking bored. And Ryan is behind him with the hair flying. He hates getting his haircut!

This is my all time favorite ride! The boys and I went on Grizzly River Run two times in a row. We were waiting to use our Fastpasses and since the line wasn't too long, we decided to go on while we waited. We got utterly and completely soaked. It was awesome! Then we waited about 15 minutes and went on again with our passes. Got soaked again but it was hard to tell since we were still wet from the first time. There are two big drops and the boat thing you sit in spins around so you never know if you will be going down facing forward or backwards. Every time I was facing backwards. But it was a blast! The only downside is walking around after with pants, capri's in my case, soaking wet. Right down to your undies. :) Whenever I go on this ride, when I exit, I always look longingly to the Grand Californian Hotel, near the ride's exit, and wish we were staying there. Someday maybe but it's incredibly expensive. I checked. $1500 a night for a two bedroom suite. A standard room goes for about $500 so I guess we could have gotten two standard rooms. Not! Way out of our price range.

I did get some reading done, but not much. The only book I finished was an audio book, Amber Kizer's A Matter of Days. Pretty good Young Adult dystopian. I won't promise a review since I need to get back into reviewing and have a bunch of books I want to review. I will say the narrator was good, Alex McKenna.

We were home for a day and then I went to Flagstaff, by myself for the Fourth of July holiday. I got to spend some time with my daughter, who lives there, and enjoy the cool mountain weather. It's beautiful up there!

What has everyone been up to? Any vacations yet this summer or planned? The boys start school in four weeks, yes, they start very early. So we will be busy soon getting ready for that.

Monday, July 4, 2016