DEAD DUKES TELL NO TALES by Catherine Stein – Featured New Release

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DEAD DUKES TELL NO TALES

Sass and Steam #3

by

Catherine Stein

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Airship pirates, mysterious inventions, and a treasure beyond compare? All in a duke’s work.

Chicago scrap metal mogul Clifford Kinsley has never encountered an obstacle he couldn’t dismantle. Until he inherits a dukedom burdened with mountains of debt, stifling rules, and people who want to ship his seven-year-old daughter off to boarding school. He’s stuck with the title for life. Which leaves only one solution: kill the duke. And for that, he’ll need the assistance of a professional.

Sabine Diebin, the infamous pirate captain La Capitaine, has one final treasure to find before she settles down to a well-deserved retirement. Unfortunately, the key to finding her prize is buried somewhere in the mess left behind by the late Duke of Hartleigh. To speed up her search, Sabine makes a deal with the oddly charming new duke-next-door. If he digs through her clutter, she’ll help him disappear.

Working together, Cliff and Sabine uncover a trail of clues that sends them on a world-wide search for a potentially life-changing device. With their combined skills, they can dodge murderous enemies and unravel baffling messages, but they can’t deny their growing bond or the desire sparking between them. Pirates don’t have partners. But if they dare to open their hearts, they might discover that the greatest treasures of all can’t be buried.

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DDTNT graphic 3“The leftovers of the Mad Duke.” He huffed a little laugh.

“Yes. I understand you run a scrap collection business? Perhaps I could employ you to haul everything away.”

“I was in the recycling business.” His mouth tightened into a hard line. “Now, unfortunately, I’m a goddamned duke, if you’ll pardon my French.”

Sabine tried not to laugh. She really did. But he was so delightfully, blunt-spokenly American.

“Has your new title destroyed your ability to pluck valuable bits from the rubbish?”

He adjusted his spectacles, assessing her with a steady gaze. His eyes were an icy blue, like the glacial caves in the Alps—quiet, still, and eerily beautiful.

“I don’t expect it has, no.”

“Since we are neighbors, maybe you would like to lend your expertise and help me straighten out this mess of a house? As payment, you may keep what you wish of the saleable items. After I have taken any that are of interest to me, of course.”

Hartleigh folded his arms across his chest. “Why, may I ask, did you purchase this house and all the items in it if you didn’t want them?”

“I do want them. Or, rather, I want some of them. There are items in this collection, purchased long ago, that are of great interest to me, if only I can find them in the mess.”

“So you’re a collector yourself, then.”

She chuckled. “More of a treasure hunter.”

“See, Daddy?” Lola grinned at her father. “I told you!”

“You told him I was a treasure hunter?” Sabine asked.

“No. I told him you were a pirate.”

“Oh, God.” Hartleigh put a hand to his temple. “I’m so sorry. Pirates are her new favorite thing. The trip across the ocean was very long, and we’d just read Treasure Island together…”

“Please, don’t apologize.”

He leaned so far forward he rocked the piano bench onto the front two legs. “No, I must. I’m sure there’s some way I could have better explained that you don’t call your new neighbor a pirate, even if she does collect treasure, and…”

“But I am a pirate,” Sabine said. “Haven’t you heard of the infamous La Capitaine? I am she.”

Hartleigh gaped at her. “I, uh…” Before he could stammer a coherent word, the piano bench slipped, sending the peculiar new duke tumbling to the floor with a resounding crash.


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This is a fantastic romp of a novel. It should be adapted into a movie along the lines of The Mummy and Romancing the Stone. The story is incredibly entertaining with humor, action, emotional depth, and romance blending well. The characters are wonderfully diverse and utterly likable, especially the MCs Sabine, Cliff, and Lola.

We’re better together. I’d rather have a short life with you in it than a long life thinking about what might have been.”

Cliff is my new favorite of Ms. Stein’s heroes. Reluctant duke, klutzy nerd, amazing girl dad, sexy considerate lover. He’s absolutely endearing. And Sabine, what a heroine! Super strong, smart, and capable with a soft center. They fit so perfectly.

5 stars


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Catherine Stein

Award-winning author Catherine Stein believes that everyone deserves love and that Happily Ever After has the power to help, to heal, and to comfort. She writes sassy, sexy romance set during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Her books are full of action, adventure, magic, and fantastic technologies.

Catherine lives in Michigan with her husband and three rambunctious kids. She loves steampunk and Oxford commas, and can often be found dressed in Renaissance Festival clothing, drinking copious amounts of tea.

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A DELICIOUS DILEMMA by Sera Taíno – Preorder Blitz

A Delicious Dilemma

A Delicious Dilemma by Sera Taíno is coming August 24th! Pre-order now and get an EXCLUSIVE cookbook straight from the fictional family restaurant featured in the novel! Simply email seraspromos@gmail.com with a screenshot or forward of your pre-order receipt to claim!

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Pre-Order Here at Your Favorite Retailer


Different worlds collide in Sera Taino’s debut novel.

It’s hard to remain enemies when you’ve broken bread together

Val Navarro’s first mistake: going out dancing after a bad breakup when the chef should be focused on her family business. Her second mistake? Thinking the handsome, sensitive stranger she meets could be more than a rebound – until she discovers he’s Philip Wagner of Wagner Developments. His father’s company could shut down her Puerto Rican restaurant and unravel her tight-knit neighborhood. When Philip takes over negotiations, Val wants to believe he has good intentions. But is following her heart a recipe for disaster?

From Harlequin Special Edition: Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.

A Delicious Dilemma Pre-Order Blitz 2

 


ABOUT SERA

Sera Taino

Debut romance author Sera Taíno was selected for Harlequin’s Romance Includes You Mentorship, an initiative launched in 2019 to reach out to diverse communities of writers and bring more own voices stories to romance readers. For more information on this initiative, click here.

She is also the author of several short contemporary romances, including her latest, “Oil and Vinegar,” part of A More Perfect Union: A Voting-Themed Romance Benefit Anthology. All proceeds benefit Fair Fight, a national voting rights organization based in Georgia.

Her debut, #ownvoices novel, A Delicious Dilemma, is scheduled for publication with Harlequin Romance Special Edition in September 2021.

When she is not writing, she can usually be found teaching, traveling, or wrangling her family.

Sign up for Sera’s newsletter here, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, or BookBub to stay up to date.


SABOR DE CASA

I had the privilege of receiving an early copy of the cookbook Sabor de Casa and I immediately taste-tested several of the recipes. With the Spanish heritage common in both Filipino and Puerto Rican cultures, the dishes are familiar to me and the recipes for them easy to follow. I made the roasted pork (similar to lechon), tostones (the Filipino maruya is a sweet relative), mojo, and the perennial favorite (leche) flan. All the ingredients are readily available in the local grocery stores, especially here in Texas with its huge Mexican community. I chose the small limes because they reminded me of the calamansi. I also substituted evaporated milk for whole milk in the flan recipe.  

The house smelled amazing with the aroma of garlic, of the succulent pork while it roasted in the oven, and the sugar being caramelized. The roast pork was super moist and delectable my 12-year-old son had two servings.

I didn’t have a tostonera so I improvised by smashing the plantain with the use of two differently-sized dipping sauce dishes. One note about the tostones–I fried the plantains five minutes per side two times. It should probably only be five minutes for both sides. Ten minutes total frying not twenty. They turned out browner than the recipe called for. My bad. They were still delicious but did not photograph very well beside the pork. I love brown food, so it’s all good as far as I’m concerned. 

The flan came out great. Creamy and not too sweet. I’ll probably use less sugar next time (2/3 cup instead of 3/4) and I’ll make it with 6-8 egg yolks. In short, I’ll revert to my own recipe. Hahaha. 

I cooked a feast with the three dishes I chose. I can’t wait to try out the rest of the recipes. Maybe I’ll do the arroz con gandules, bistec encebollado, and tres leches cake next. Come back here on August 24 to see which dishes I made and to check out my review of A Delicious Dilemma. Preorder the book so you too can make these scrumptious meals.  

 

A DUKE IN TIME by Janna MacGregor – Featured New Release

A Duke In Time

A DUKE IN TIME

The Widow Rules

Janna MacGregor

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Katherine Vareck is in for the shock of her life when she learns upon her husband Meri’s accidental death that he had married two other women. Her entire business, along with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a royal supplier, is everything she’s been working for and now could be destroyed if word leaks about the three wives.

Meri’s far more upstanding brother, Christian, Duke of Randford has no earthly clue how to be of assistance. He spent the better part of his adult years avoiding Meri and the rest of his good-for-nothing family, so to be dragged back into the fold is…problematic. Even more so is the intrepid and beautiful Katherine, whom he cannot be falling for because she’s Meri’s widow. Or can he?

With a textile business to run and a strong friendship forming with Meri’s two other wives, Katherine doesn’t have time for much else. But there’s something about the warm, but compellingly taciturn Christian that draws her to him. When an opportunity to partner in a business venture brings them even closer, they’ll have to face their pasts if they want to share each other’s hearts and futures.

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Buy Links:

Amazon          B&N          Books-a-Million          Indiebound          Powell’s


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With its wild premise, easy-to-root for main characters,  fascinating set of secondary characters, easy pace that kept the story moving, and low-angst conflict, A Duke In Time gives Janna MacGregor’s new The Widow Rules series a promising start.

Janna has always written strong and resolute female leads and Katherine is a remarkable example of them. Her occupation and hidden background provide for a refreshing change from the previous heroines who were born into nobility. Her backstory allows for a better understanding of her decisions and actions throughout the story.

Christian, the titular duke, is himself an admirable character with his care for war veterans and his taking up the responsibility for his brother Meri’s three widows and the menagerie that kept on coming. His kind treatment of the people under his employ and his resolve not to follow his father’s debauched ways make him immensely likable.

I like that Kat and Christian formed tight friendships with each other and with others. I like that while there was an instant attraction between them, they didn’t act on it until they established a bond. I appreciate the absence of excessive push and pull. They satisfied their physical desire with agreement on both parties without coy protestations.

 While there are some aspects of the story that could have been better fleshed out (I’m still unclear how Katherine managed to start a business on her own with two hundred pounds to her name) and the lack of flaws in Christian’s characterization, I recommend this light and easy read to fans of “modern” historical romance.

4 out of 5 stars


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Janna MacGregor_Credit Hilary Hope Photography

Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and splits her time between Kansas City and Minneapolis with her very own dashing rogue, and one smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pug. She loves to hear from readers.

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GINGERBREAD KISSES by Minette Lauren – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

GINGERBREAD KISSES
Hot in Magnolia Book 4
By Minette Lauren


Publication Date: April 30th, 2021
Pages: 275
Categories: Sexy Romance

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Hollywood actress Ginger Lynn Harding is broke, unemployed, and stuck in the glaring spotlight of a sex-tape scandal thanks to her lousy ex-boyfriend. Changing her coveted ginger-colored hair to brown, Ginger heads to small-town Magnolia, Texas, where she plans to hide out and wait tables at the Cupcake Diner and Dive.

As a Magnolia constable and possible candidate for mayor, Roland Karr prides himself on protecting the community. When he nabs a Lauren Bacall look-alike for speeding, Roland is surprised that he lets the sassy beauty off the hook, but he can’t help it. She looks like she could use a break.

As Ginger settles into life in Magnolia, she can’t stop thinking about the handsome and debonair cop, but can she risk losing her heart when she’s lost everything else?

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With its double serving of swoony love stories, small-town quirks, adorable pets, and fascinating characters readers would want to get to know more, Gingerbread Kisses is an early holiday treat for Romance lovers everywhere. Its fun and light tone makes it an easy and enjoyable read and its steamy sexytimes live up to the series title of Hot In Magnolia. Funny, low-angst, and hot. Exactly how I like my Romance.
This is my first book by Minette Lauren, my first visit to Magnolia, and I’m happy to go back for more. I usually don’t seek out stories with actors and actresses as lead characters because I find so little in common with them, but Ms. Lauren made Ginger Lynn sympathetic to me and I give her kudos for that.
I admire Ginger’s determination to get back on her feet after her humiliating fall from grace, her willingness to work two jobs that she considered beneath her in the past, and her gradual warming up to the people of Magnolia. I understood her loss of confidence and cheered for her when she realized what’s important. I also liked the characterization of Roland as a by-the-book constable whose life is upended when Ginger came into town. I really like his patience with her and his respect for her wishes despite her sometimes hot-and-cold behavior. I especially like the ending where they both reached out to the other and decided to be together even to the point of giving up what’s familiar.
I have an equal appreciation for the second-chance romance between Lexi and Noah. I’m always soft for heroes who fall fast and fall hard for the object of his love and Noah ticks that box for me. There’s a “Seize the Day” quality to their getting together that is totally my jam.
Ms. Lauren’s vivid descriptions gave this book a great sense of place. I can picture in my head where the scene locations are as if they’re real. Magnolia seems to be a quintessential Texas small town with a higher proportion of hot men and women than most places in the state (or country). Herein lies my major cavil about this book–the lack of diversity. There’s not much indication of multiculturalism or unconventional lifestyles. Everyone seems to be fit, white, and straight. Not truly reflective of the society we live in today.
Overall, an engaging read and a book I’d recommend to the followers of this blog. It put me in a holiday spirit, inspiring me to bake gingerbread kiss cookies. I’m not sure if it’s Ginger’s grandma’s recipe, but it sure made the house smell like Christmas. Thanks to Ms. Lauren for the inspiration and for providing me with a complimentary copy to review through Lone Star Lit.
4 out of 5 stars

Minette Lauren is an award-winning author who loves animals and writes humorous romance in a small Texas town.

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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

THREE WINNERS
First place: Signed copies
of the Hot in Magnolia series books (prequel included) + $25 Amazon gift card
Second place: Signed copies of all four books in the series
Third place: Signed copy of Gingerbread Kisses

(Continental US residents only. Ends midnight, CDT, June 4, 2021)

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AAPI SPOTLIGHT – A LOWCOUNTRY BRIDE by Preslaysa Williams

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A LOWCOUNTRY BRIDE

by

Preslaysa Williams

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A heartwarming Avon debut of love, forgiveness, and new beginnings set in the beautiful South Carolina Lowcountry.

Maya Jackson has worked for Laura Whitcomb, Inc, a renowned New York City bridal gown brand for years and dreams of becoming Head Designer. She has the talent, she just needs a chance to showcase her unique style. Due to an illness, she’s always prioritized her career over her personal life until Maya’s father fractures his hip and she returns to Charleston, SC. While home for only a few months, she’s thrilled to find an opportunity at the local bridal gown boutique, never expecting sparks to fly with its owner…

A military veteran and widowed father, Derek Sullivan hopes to save Always a Bride from bankruptcy in order to preserve the legacy of his mother. He also wants to reconnect with his estranged, twelve-year-old daughter, who is still recovering from the loss of her mother. The last thing he needs is a relationship with a beautiful, smart, complicated woman who will be leaving soon.

When Derek begins to fall for the lovely Maya, he knows there’s no future. But destiny has its own plans, and these two lonely people with big hearts discover that coming home to love is the best gift life can give.

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Buy links:

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Apple     Google Play     IndieBound     Kobo


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ALB bookstagramA Lowcountry Bride is an affecting story of discovering identity, fulfilling dreams, dealing with loss, keeping the faith, and finding love. The authenticity with how the characters’ culture came across strongly emphasizes the importance of providing opportunities for own voices stories, of lifting marginalized creators, of representation and inclusion.

This book is bursting with Ms. Williams’s pride in her unique mix of West African/Filipino heritage. It’s manifested in the food, by distinctive sewing techniques, and in the sympathetic personalities of the main characters.

Maya Jackson, with her struggles to cope with a chronic illness while attempting to achieve her mother’s dreams for her amidst obstacles in the workplace, feels like a real person to me.  Adding to all those the care for her injured father, she is heavily burdened than most but utterly real. Maya’s internal conflict when making life-altering choices made me anxious. Despite the guarantee of a hopeful ending, I still fretted over her decisions.

While I liked Maya, I was soft for the men in her life–her father Carl and her love interest Derek Sullivan. These two dads had similar tales of guiding their daughters to find their paths. They had the best lines from the book.

Her dad’s advice resonated with me.

But don’t stop living, Maya. Don’t ever stop living. You owe it to yourself to live every single day to the fullest.”

Derek’s declaration made me melt.

It’s not the dying that matters. It’s the living. … I can bring the past with me and use it to craft a beautiful present and a hopeful future.”

I like that despite the heavy topics (illness, deaths from a mass shooting, inequity in the workplace, racism) this book is not depressing. There’s enough humor and joy in the successes both Maya and Derek achieved individually and together.

My minor concern is with the portrayal of Laura, Maya’s boss, as an irredeemable villainess. I wish there’s more dimension to her character. After all, she hired Maya in the first place. Her part in the story appeared soap-opera-ish.

Besides that, I enjoyed this book.  It’s engaging and made me root for the characters. I can’t wait for the author’s upcoming books.

4 out of 5 stars


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Preslaysa Williams (nee, Preslaysa Edwards) is an award-winning author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction with an Afro-Filipina twist. She loves sharing her culture with her readers.

She has an undergraduate degree from Columbia University and a MPA from the University of South Carolina. She is also a Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar, a Jackie Robinson Foundation Extra Innings Fellow, and a Sol Spiegelman Scholar. Preslaysa is currently earning a MFA in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University.

In addition, she’s a professional actress. She started acting at age eight, joining the Screen Actors Guild as a teenager when she co-starred on the Nickelodeon TV show, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo.

She’s an avid bookworm and planner nerd who hoards pens, pencils, and notebooks in her spare time. In her daily life, you’ll find her wearing mismatched socks while being a homeschool mom. Preslaysa presently makes her home in Virginia with her husband and two children. You can visit her online at www.preslaysa.com where you can sign up for her newsletter community.

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AAPI SPOTLIGHT – HAPPY ENDINGS by Thien-Kim Lam

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HAPPY ENDINGS

by

Thien-Kim Lam

With her debut novel, Thien-Kim Lam serves up a sexy second-chance romance about exes with unfinished business. When working together reignites their passion, will these former flames sizzle or get burned all over again?

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Trixie Nguyen is determined to make her sex toy business a success, proving to her traditional Vietnamese parents that she can succeed in a nontraditional career. She’s made a fresh start in Washington DC, and her first pop-up event is going well—until she runs into the ex who dumped her. With a Post-it note.

The last person Andre Walker expected to see in his soul food restaurant was the woman he left behind in New Orleans. Their chemistry is still scorching, but he’s desperately trying to save his family restaurant from gentrifying developers. The solution? Partnering with his ex to turn Mama Hazel’s into a vibrator pop-up shop for hungry and horny clients.

Thanks to their steamy truce, both businesses start to sizzle and their red-hot desire soon reignites deeper feelings. But when Trixie receives an incredible career opportunity, will pride ruin their second chance at happiness?

 

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Buy links: 

Amazon     Harper Collins     Barnes & Noble     Indiebound     Bookshop

 


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A promising #ownvoices debut with a multicultural pairing, an admirable female lead, sex positivity, fierce female friendship, strong family ties, and loads of glorious food, Happy Endings is exactly my jam. 

I love that there are more and more Asian-American authors writing romance and I’m ecstatic that we are creating main characters who positively represent our heritage and who celebrate the joy of loving freely. It’s wonderful to read books with characters, backgrounds, and situations I can relate to. 

Ms. Lam’s debut excites me because she’s fearless in giving her Vietnamese-American female lead a job selling sex toys thereby confronting the issue of the hyper-sexualization of the Asian female in popular media head-on. Trixie’s pride in her accomplishments and her ambition in furthering her career no matter the obstacles delighted me. 

For me, this is very much Trixie’s story–her quest for success, her difficult relationship with her very traditional parents, her friendship with the Boss Babes were all fascinating to me. Her romance with Andre only takes second place. I do understand the attraction between them and the intimate scenes were really hot but, in my opinion, Andre needed to be more, to do more to deserve Trixie. His characterization was the weakest aspect of the book for me. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to reading more of Ms. Lam’s Boss Babes. 

 

4 out of 5 stars

 


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Thien-Kim Lam_Photo Courtesy of the AuthorThien-Kim Lam writes stories about Vietnamese characters who smash stereotypes and find their happy endings. A recovering Type-Asian, she guzzles cà phê sữa đá, makes art, and bakes her feelings to stay sane. Thien-Kim is also the founder of Bawdy Bookworms, a subscription box that pairs sexy romances with erotic toys. She’s been featured on NPR, BBC America, and NBC.

Thien-Kim brings over 20 years’ experience as a sex educator and sex toy expert into a steamy second-chance romance in her debut, Happy Endings. Selected as the winner of Avon’s 2019 open call for unagented Own Voices submissions, this romantic comedy is filled with heart; it is a story of honoring each person’s culture in an interracial relationship, sex positivity, and exploring non-traditional ambitions even when they terrify you.

Happy Endings is my love letter to all Asian women,” says Thien-Kim. “We live in a society that fetishizes us, but Trixie explores her sexuality on her own terms and wants to help the women in her life do the same. She may stumble a bit, especially when love is on the line, but she’s got her Boss Babes by her side. Just like how I have my Boss Babes in my corner.”

 

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TEMPTING A GENTLEMAN by Rachel Ann Smith – Featured New Release

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TEMPTING A GENTLEMAN

by

Rachel Ann Smith

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Tempting a Gentleman

THE HADFIELDS SERIES
BOOK TWO

An independent East End girl meets a determined West End boy…and the chase begins.

As a key member of the Network and modiste to the ladies of the ton, Emma Lennox favors freedom over marriage. But when her best friend asks that she attend the Hadfield ball, Emma finds herself thrown into the arms of a dance master who raises both her pulse and her temper.

Respected barrister Christopher Neale needs to marry in order to claim his place as a Protector of the Royal Family (PORF). After two years of searching, an innocent encounter with a stranger on his brother’s front steps ignites a yearning he cannot ignore.

Ordered by the head PORF to teach Emma how to dance, Christopher finds himself in love with his reluctant and enigmatic student. Emma must ignore the whispers of her heart or risk what she holds most dear—control over her dress shop.

Will Emma’s resolve not to marry remain steadfast against Christopher’s skill as a barrister and a lover?

 

Buy Links:

Rachel’s Store          Universal link          Amazon          Barnes & Noble          Kobo          Apple

 

20210425_192212278_iOSReview to follow.

Rachel Ann Smith writes steamy historical romances with a twist. Her debut series, Agents of the Home Office, features female protagonists that defy convention.

When Rachel isn’t writing, she loves to read and spend time with her family. She is frequently found with her Kindle by the pool during the summer, the soccer field in the spring and fall, or curled up on the couch during the winter months.

She currently lives in Colorado with her extremely understanding husband and their two very supportive children.

Follow Rachel Ann here: 

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IN A BOOK CLUB FAR AWAY by Tif Marcelo – Featured New Release

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IN A BOOK CLUB FAR AWAY

by

Tif Marcelo

SYNOPSIS

9781982148096From the author of Once Upon a Sunset and The Key to Happily Ever After comes a heartwarming and moving novel following three Army wives—estranged friends—who must overcome their differences when one of them is desperate for help.

Regina Castro, Adelaide Wilson-Chang, and Sophie Walden used to be best friends. As Army wives at Fort East, they bonded during their book club and soon became inseparable. But when an unimaginable betrayal happened amongst the group, the friendship abruptly ended, and they haven’t spoken since.

That’s why, eight years later, Regina and Sophie are shocked when they get a call for help from Adelaide. Adelaide’s husband is stationed abroad, and without any friends or family near her new home of Alexandria, Virginia, she has no one to help take care of her young daughter when she has to undergo emergency surgery. For the sake of an innocent child, Regina and Sophie reluctantly put their differences aside to help an old friend.

As the three women reunite, they must overcome past hurts and see if there’s any future for their friendship. Featuring Tif Marcelo’s signature “enchanting prose” (Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake) and the books that brought them together in the first place, In a Book Club Far Away honors the immense power of female friendship and how love can defy time, distance, and all old wounds.

Buy links: 

Tif’s Website
Bel Canto Books
Indiebound
Amazon
B&N
Kobo
Book of the Month

REVIEW

20210406_022548605_iOSI always sound like a broken record when it comes to my reviews of Tif Marcelo’s books. It’s because I see myself in her characters. For one, there’s always a Filipina in her stories. And Filipino food, of course.

With this book in particular, I see myself in all three women–Regina, Adelaide, and Sophie. I’m a military spouse (Air Force, not Army) and a founding member of a book club initially comprised of military spouses. We set it up in a military city when our service members were all still active duty or working at the base/fort. Alongside discussions about our book of the month, we also talked about our experiences of military life. I relate closely with the strong friendship that developed among such like-minded people. Three years after I’ve left that city, I still belong to the book club and I remain great friends with many of the members. This is why this book resonated with me greatly.

However, one doesn’t have to be a military spouse to relate to this story of a fractured friendship and reconciliation. As long as you appreciate good storytelling, compelling diverse characters, great sense of place, intelligent conversations, and evocative real-life situations, you’ll enjoy this book too.

4 Four-half-stars

ABOUT TIF 

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Tif Marcelo is a veteran US Army nurse and holds a BS in Nursing and a Master’s in public administration. She believes and writes about the strength of families, the endurance of friendship, heartfelt romances, and is inspired daily by her own military hero husband and four children. She hosts The Stories to Love Podcast, and is the USA Today bestselling author of In a Book Club Far AwayOnce Upon a SunsetThe Key to Happily Ever After, and the Journey to the Heart series.

Follow her here:

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Tif Heartwarming Fiction

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

HER EVERY MOVE by Kelly Irvin – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

HER EVERY MOVE
By Kelly Irvin
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 352 pages
Pub Date: February 9th, 2021
Categories: Christian / Romance / Suspense
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He’s a cop trying to stop a serial bomber. And she’ll stop at nothing to clear her own name.

When a deadly bomb goes off during a climate change debate, librarian and event coordinator Jackie Santoro becomes the prime suspect. Her motive, according to Detective Avery Wick: to avenge the suicide of her prominent father, who was accused of crimes by a city councilman attending the event.

Though Avery has doubts about Jackie’s guilt, he can’t exonerate her even after an extremist group takes responsibility for the bombing and continues to attack San Antonio’s treasured public spaces.

As Jackie tries to hold her shattered family together, she has no choice but to proceed with plans for the Caterina Ball, the library system’s biggest annual fundraiser. But she also fears the event provides the perfect opportunity for the bomber to strike again.

Despite their mistrust, Jackie and Avery join forces to unmask the truth—before the death toll mounts even higher.

Bestseller Kelly Irvin is back with a nail-biting romantic suspense where nothing is certain until the very last page.

PRAISE FOR HER EVERY MOVE:

“A gripping story that will have you on the edge of your seat until ‘The End.’”—Patricia Bradley, author of The Logan Point Series, Memphis Cold Case Novels, Natchez Trace Parkway Rangers series 

“Explosive, tender, and races all the way through!”Jennifer Graeser Dornbush, author, screenwriter, and forensic specialist

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From its explosive opening scene to its dramatic climax, Kelly Irvin’s Her Every Move is one high-octane read. A ripped-from-the-headlines plot, a well-described familiar setting, a broad array of hot-button issues, and a large diverse cast made this book remarkably current and incredibly realistic.
Reading is a gift … Reading gives me joy, takes me places I’ve never been, and I learn things. What person wouldn’t want that gift?”
The San Antonio setting, my former residence and the last city I visited before the world shut down, first attracted me to this book. The heroine Jackie’s job as librarian and event planner further solidified my interest. But it was the fast-paced, action-packed, emotional storyline that kept me reading until the end.
The themes of familial love, lifelong friendships, social responsibility, faith amidst adversity, and complicated romance always appeal to me and they’re thoroughly explored in this book. Jackie’s strength while faced with unjust accusations of doing unspeakable crimes made her a sympathetic heroine. Avery’s steadfast performance of his duties despite developing conflicting personal feelings about the prime suspect Jackie and dealing with an unstable possible suspect in his best friend had me rooting for him.
My favorite character, however, is San Antonio itself. The culture, architecture, beauty, and history of this multiethnic city really came alive in the book.
We’re all guilty of believing we have plenty of time.”
For the most part, the book engaged my attention except in a couple of aspects. First is the excess of political issues raised. There’s climate change, domestic terrorism, racial profiling, gun control, budgetary constraints, etcetera. There could have been more focus on fewer causes for more impact.
Next is the weakness of the emotional ramifications after the reveal of the villain. There should have been long-term consequences for the people left behind and changes in policies, especially concerning public safety.
Lastly, the romance part needed more attention than it got. Jackie and Avery’s initial meeting was especially lacking in establishing their attraction. The ending was good but I wish there was more of the same sweetness in their journey to getting their happy-ever-after.
Huge thanks to Lone Star Lit and Thomas Nelson for the opportunity to review this book.
4 out of 5 stars
Bestseller Kelly Irvin is the author of 28 books, including romantic suspense and Amish romance. Publishers Weekly called Closer Than She Knows “a briskly written thriller.”  The Library Journal said of her novel Tell Her No Lies, “a complex web with enough twists and turns to keep even the savviest romantic suspense readers guessing until the end.” The two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist worked as a newspaper reporter for six years on the Texas-Mexico border. Those experiences fuel her romantic suspense novels set in Texas. A retired public relations professional, Kelly now writes fiction full-time. She lives with her husband professional photographer Tim Irvin in San Antonio. They have two children, three grandchildren, and two ornery cats.

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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
TWO WINNERS each receive signed copies!

(US ONLY. Ends midnight, CDT, 4/3/2021)


Click to visit the Lone Star Literary Life Tour Page
for direct links to each post on this tour, updated daily, 
or visit the blogs directly:

3/24/21

Excerpt

3/24/21

BONUS Promo

3/25/21

Review

3/25/21

BONUS Top Ten

3/26/21

Review

3/27/21

Guest Post

3/28/21

Scrapbook Page

3/29/21

Review

3/30/21

Author Interview

3/31/21

Review

4/1/21

Audiobook Review

4/2/21

Review

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LOVE IS NEVER LOST by Katy Regnery – Featured New Release Review

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LOVE IS NEVER LOST 

The Modern Fairy Tales Collection #8

Katy Regnery

SYNOPSIS

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From New York Times bestseller Katy Regnery comes a new twist on the beloved American legend, “Rip Van Winkle.”

Sometimes, the journey is the love story.

On the night of his high school graduation, Ripley Van Winkle—local quarterback, prom king and all-around big man on campus—swan dives off the top of the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse. . . and lands on jagged pile of rocks. Suffering massive brain trauma, Rip isn’t expected to live, but he somehow manages to beat the odds: most of his physical injuries heal, though he remains in a deep coma for the next twenty years.

When Rip awakens two decades later, he will need to relearn his body’s most basic functions, in addition to catching up on twenty years’ worth of history, progress and change.

Something called the “internet” has the answer to every question you could ever dream of asking, and people are reliant on mobile telephones smaller than a Walkman. His high school girlfriend is married with children, and he has an eighteen-year-old sister who was born while he was “sleeping.”

As Rip struggles to find his place in this strange, new world, one presence in his life will become both a beacon and guide: his childhood friend, Katrina Van Tassel. But Trina has a challenging adult life of her own, and there’s no guarantee she has space in her life (or her heart) for her one-time high school crush . . . Rip Van Winkle.

https://geni.us/LoveIsNeverLost

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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Love is Never Lost is part of the ~a modern fairytale~ collection: contemporary, standalone romances inspired by beloved fairy tales.

The Vixen and the Vet (Beauty & the Beast)
Never Let You Go (Hansel & Gretel)
Ginger’s Heart (Little Red Riding Hood)
Dark Sexy Knight (Camelot)
Don’t Speak (The Little Mermaid)
Shear Heaven (Rapunzel)
At First Sight (Aladdin)
Love is Never Lost (Rip Van Winkle)

REVIEW

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Katy Regnery’s ability to take a fairy tale and make it her own is absolutely amazing. Before I dove into Love Is Never Lost, I read the short story that inspired it and I prefer this re-imagining of Rip Van Winkle to the original a thousand times over. Handsome, athletic, and popular Ripley is much preferable to old, lazy Rip and shy, smart, insecure Trina is a vast improvement over the termagant Dame Van Winkle.

A fantasy but rooted deeply in the real world, this sweet, second-chance romance delivers on the swoon-worthy promise of  a happy-ever-after without the heaviness of unnecessary angst. Rip and Trina’s slow burn journey to finally getting together is complicated enough with the myriad challenges presented by waking up after twenty years in a coma. There’s ample tension provided to keep their path not too smooth to be boring. Engrossing and evocative, this story took me only three hours to read.

I love that this is partly set in the ’80s, my favorite decade ever. I appreciate the diversity of characters. I like the presence of strong family support and tight friendships. And I simply adore the love story between Rip and Trina, both in the past and twenty years later.

What I liked most about the original short story is the beautiful description of the Catskills. I miss that a bit here.

4 Four-half-stars

ABOUT KATY

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katy Regnery has a heart for smart romance featuring strong women and decent men. Almost exclusively self-published, Katy claims authorship of almost 50 titles, including three RITA® finalists. Translated into French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Turkish, Katy has sold over two million books worldwide.

Author Links:

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