ANY ROGUE WILL DO by Bethany Bennett – Featured New Release

ANY ROGUE WILL DO

Misfits of Mayfair #1

by

Bethany Bennett

He ruined her reputation—now he’s the only one who can save it

For exactly one season, Lady Charlotte Wentworth played the biddable female the ton expected—and all it got her was society’s mockery and derision. Now she’s determined to be in charge of her own future. So when an unwanted suitor tries to manipulate her into an engagement, she has a plan. He can’t claim to be her fiancé if she’s engaged to someone else. Even if it means asking for help from the last man she would ever marry.

Ethan, Viscount Amesbury, made a lot of mistakes, but the one he regrets the most is ruining Lady Charlotte’s reputation. Going along with her charade is the least he can do to clean the slate and perhaps earn her forgiveness. Pretending to be in love with the woman he’s never forgotten is easy. What isn’t easy is convincing her to give him a second chance.

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Publisher’s Weekly starred review:

“In [a] splendid Regency-set debut . . . Bennett turns a spotlight on the class distinctions and gender restrictions of 1819 England, with a formidable leading lady and a swoon-worthy hero with lower-class roots. Filled with gripping drama, strong characters, and steamy seduction, this tantalizing story is sure to win the hearts of Regency fans.”―Publishers Weekly

Employing some of my favorite tropes of second-chance romance, enemies-to-lovers, and fake engagement in her debut Any Rogue Will Do, Bethany Bennett offers a well-crafted historical romantic fiction with an engaging storyline, fully fleshed-out characters, and steamy sexy times.

I like that Charlotte Wentworth is a capable, smart heroine who thinks on her feet and saves herself from dire situations without waiting for someone else to rescue her. I admire her independence and her desire to take control of her life while still working within the boundaries of the aristocratic society she belongs to. That means a marriage of convenience with a man who is willing to live off her dowry in London while she takes care of her estate in the country. She doesn’t require love as she has seen how it could devastate a person when somebody dies like with her parents.

I like that Ethan Ridley is a truly repentant hero who has matured into a responsible and hardworking man. I admire that although not born into the nobility, he genuinely cares for his tenants, wants his lands to prosper, and he doesn’t care to be looked down by society for engaging in trade to achieve his goals. His apologies to the people he wronged because of his past behavior are sincere with words backed by action. That’s how he finds himself offering a temporary fake engagement to Charlotte. Except, he quickly wants the relationship to be more permanent and more real.

I love that both of them maintain strong friendships with people from all classes. Charlotte with her godmother Agatha and her maid Darling. Ethan with his steward Connor and his best friend Cal. These secondary characters brought much of the humor in the story.  

While I enjoyed most of the story, I found Charlotte’s pushing Ethan away to stick to her plans frustrating and a bit unfair. I guess it’s Ms. Bennett’s fault for redeeming Ethan so thoroughly that he gained my sympathy and became less understanding of Charlotte’s reluctance to fight for their love.

The fact that I’m talking about these characters as if they’re real people should tell you how engaged I was with this story. A fantastic debut for Ms. Bennett. I’m looking forward to Book 2. 

Bethany Bennett grew up in a small fishing village in Alaska where required learning included life-skills like cold-water survival, along with several other subjects that are utterly useless as a romance writer. Eventually settling in the Northwest with her real-life hero and two children, she enjoys mountain views from the comfort of her sofa, wearing a tremendous amount of flannel, and drinking more coffee than her doctor deems wise.

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Chapter One

Somewhere in Warwickshire, Late August 1819

Ethan Ridley—Mac to his friends, Lord Amesbury to everyone else—lounged outside the Boar and Hound. With his face lifted toward the sky, he closed his eyes, taking in the familiar smells of horses and the hearty breakfast served at the inn. Scents of perfectly cooked sausages and fresh bread had him considering a second helping.

Thin wisps of fog would soon give way to the warm August sun, but for now, they clung, hovering in the trees like wraiths. The cool brush of a breeze lifted goose bumps on his throat, where yesterday’s cravat hung in a haphazard knot, the linen limp from a second day of being

tied. When packing, he’d forgotten a second cravat but remembered the book he was currently reading, so Ethan wasn’t terribly upset about the lack of fresh accessories. He shifted from one foot to the other. Not for the first time this morning, he considered leaving Calvin behind.

They’d traveled all the way from London to visit a highly regarded brewery to see how its processes could be applied to his own budding business venture. After waiting for over thirty minutes past the agreed time, he suspected at least another quarter hour would pass before Calvin

appeared looking fresh and annoyingly rested. Running a hand through his hair, Ethan winced as the strands snagged on calloused fingers. No doubt the unruly curls were assuming their usual vertical position, so he jammed his hat down over the mess. One of these days he’d get a haircut, but today was not that day. Tomorrow didn’t look promising either.

The clattering of hooves caught his attention as a wreck of a woman barreled into the stable yard. “There’s been an accident! I need a surgeon.”

It was the blood that stopped him from acting right away. God, so much blood. It covered her face and the top half of her traveling gown. She rode astride with her skirts hiked up and had the fiercest expression he’d ever seen on a woman. Like a warrior goddess hell-bent on dragging the next poor sod who got in her way into the afterlife, she didn’t rein in the mount until they were nearly upon him.

Forcing his legs to move, he shouldered through the taproom’s doorway. “We need help out here!” Without waiting for the occupants to jump to attention, he returned to the woman. Ethan swiped a palm over his brow, clearing away fear-ridden sweat, then placed a steadying hand on the heaving chest of the horse. For a moment, his mind had tried to retreat to another accident five years before.

Blood had soaked a different roadside while he held his friend, calling for aid until his voice failed. But the past, with its dark, clawed memories, would have to wait.

“My coachman has a broken leg.” The woman slid off the horse’s back. She touched her forehead, and her fingers came away wet and red. With a grimace, she wiped them on her skirts. One eye had swollen shut, and a cut near her hairline seemed the probable source of most of the blood. “He was unconscious when I left. My maid is with him.”

“Where’s the accident, miss?” a man from the inn asked, taking the long leather traces she’d used as reins.

Men spilled out of the taproom to lend their aid while grooms readied mounts and gathered carts to form a rescue party.

“By my best guess, they are perhaps three miles away. Directly down this road. You can’t miss them.” She pointed back in the direction from which she’d ridden.

Waving over a fellow whom he’d seen eating with the locals at the morning meal, Ethan said, “We’ll need the surgeon. Sir, do you know where tae find him?”

“Yes, milord. I’ll fetch ’im.” The man donned his hat and scurried down the road toward the village.

The woman swayed on her feet, appearing less warriorlike by the minute and more like a maiden about to faint from blood loss. Before Ethan could say something, Calvin arrived and offered his arm to escort her inside. Just as well. Ethan may want to help, but Cal’s particular skill set would be more useful to a damsel in distress. She went with his friend willingly enough, no doubt won over by his charm. Charm wasn’t Ethan’s strongest trait.

Better to stay in the stable yard until everyone had a job and was on their way.

A gentleman with hair that glowed like a halo grasped her elbow, speaking in the same tone Lottie would use with a frightened horse. “Perhaps you should sit. Your head wound is still bleeding. Frankly, you need help as much as your coachman.” Her escort offered Lottie a seat in

the public room, which she took, moving with precision to avoid further irritating the bruises making themselves known.

After crawling out of the wreckage, she’d not thought beyond flinging herself atop a carriage horse, then praying she’d stay seated long enough to find a doctor. The shaking in Lottie’s legs began, and she feared the rest of her body would follow suit until twitchy, useless

nerves overtook her. Lacing her fingers together steadied her somewhat while she waited for her vision to clear.

Dear Lord, one of her eyes wasn’t working correctly. No wonder her face hurt.

She tried to focus on the man who’d helped her. His striking features and perfect attire seemed more suited to a London drawing room than a Warwickshire country inn.

“What brings a pretty fellow like you to a town like this?” A disconnect between her ears and mouth made the words come out slow and slurred. Mercy, her head hurt.

Following his gaze to a sparkling window overlooking the yard, she spied the behemoth of a man they’d left behind deploying volunteers and taking control of the situation with an air of command no one questioned. Ah, he must be here with the man using his impressive presence to get things done. The man’s confidence amidst an emergency didn’t hurt his aura of competence.

Fresh blood seeped past her lashes. Wincing, she turned from the scene and wiped an already filthy hand over her eyes.

The innkeeper’s wife arrived with water and a stack of cloths. “I’m Mrs. Pringle, dearie. Let’s look at your head and see what we’re about, shall we?”

Lottie waved a hand. “It’s nothing. Nothing serious at any rate. I’m sure I’ll be fine after a bath and rest. My coachman needs a doctor far more than I do.”

Clean tables and the scent of fresh bread made the inn warm and cozy. Hopefully, the rooms upstairs would be as welcoming. She desperately wanted to get her bearings, then find a tub and a bed. A bath would be heaven.

The elegant stranger pushed, “Please, miss, let her clear away the blood—”

Chilly air danced over her cheek as the commanding man from the courtyard entered the room. With a blunt “Give me the rag,” he once again took charge, swiping the cloth from Mrs. Pringle’s hand.

Her charming escort rolled his eyes. “Fine, Mac. Take over. I’ll see if I’m needed outside.”

The giant grunted an acknowledgment. Really, were actual words too much to ask? A few moments before he’d been kind, but now surly impatience colored his demeanor. The sheer size of him overwhelmed her—an unusual circumstance for a woman her own father referred to as “sturdy.” Even sitting, he dwarfed everyone in the room. Only one other man of her acquaintance had made her feel delicate in comparison, but that had been a lifetime ago.

The man tossed his hat on the table, revealing a mass of dark curls. Another wave of dizziness swamped her as recognition hit. Please, God, let her be wrong. And if she didn’t humiliate herself by fainting, she’d tithe double the next time she found herself near a church.

Maybe the head wound caused the buzzing in her ears—it couldn’t possibly be because this man still affected her after so long. But no. Even seven years later, Lord Amesbury, the one who had saved her, then callously ruined her, evoked a visceral response. If he thought to save her again, she’d best remember what he’d done the last time they’d met.

Amesbury leaned forward, sparking an almost forgotten heat of awareness in her belly. His dark brows were broody slashes under a disobedient lock of hair that fell over his forehead, providing the only softness on his face. Shadows played in the hollows under his cheekbones,

where at least a day’s growth of beard made him look as roguish as she knew him to be.

“I know your concern is for your coachman. ’Tis commendable. But you’re useless if you don’ see tae yourself.” That lilting brogue did something funny to her chest, creating flutters she’d rather not ponder. “Now please hold still so you don’ make a bigger mess on this good woman’s floor.”

Mrs. Pringle didn’t seem sure if she should leave or stay. The older woman stared at the floorboards while holding the water basin, no doubt wishing to be anywhere else. Lottie could relate.

Although his exasperated tone rankled, Lottie allowed the examination. Knowing this man, of all people, saw her in such a state set her cheeks aflame with a mix of embarrassment and fury. Fate, that fickle fiend, always tossed her in his path at her worst, casting him as a hero.

With a finger under her chin, Amesbury raised her face toward the morning light streaming through the window. His gruff words were at odds with gentle fingers as he brushed the blood-soaked hair off her brow and prodded at a painful area near her hairline.

How had he grown more attractive while she’d merely gotten older? Every year her body grew softer, rounder, despite daily rides all over the estate. As the butterflies in her belly would attest, the small lines at the corners of his eyes and a new hardness to his jaw didn’t diminish his appeal. Grossly unfair, in her opinion.

Over the years, she’d imagined a different meeting. In her version, she always wore a stunning new gown—the picture of intimidatingly competent femininity. Lord Amesbury would stop in his tracks, recognizing her in an instant. Then his striking face would flood with regret, evoking her pity—but only for a moment. A strong cup of tea would help the sensation pass once she snubbed him and went on her way.

No matter the scenario, Lottie served witty set-downs while looking ethereally beautiful, then left the man with an unrelenting grief to haunt him for the rest of his natural life. Really, was that too much to ask? In her imagination she would marry a gorgeous duke—even though young available dukes weren’t exactly thick on the ground.

Especially for spinsters.

Logic had no jurisdiction in daydreams and fairy tales.

Reality was sorely lacking. Her traveling gown’s tattered bodice barely clung to modesty, she’d just dripped blood on his boot, and any fool could see Viscount Amesbury didn’t remember her.

Perhaps it was immature to wish the circumstances of their meeting were different, but the fact was that she found herself in another embarrassing situation requiring his help and he didn’t even have the decency to remember her. Inhaling deeply, she searched for calm and instead filled her head with the scent of him—not the wisest course of action. If only Amesbury favored the usual perfumes or bottled tonics, or smelled of rotten onions with a trace of dock water. Instead, he smelled like a man who bathed, then gave no further thought to his appearance. It reminded her of fresh air, leather, and an underlying warmth she couldn’t place. Now her heart pounded for a different reason.

The one thing her old suitor-turned-nemesis did well was confuse her. He always had.

Some things didn’t change, even after seven years.

Lottie exhaled his essence, pushing the tangle of emotions from her body. A man she hated so thoroughly shouldn’t smell so comforting.

THE HUNGRY READERS GAMES 2020

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I’m participating in The Hungry Readers Games 2020 organized by Mary Smith of @chicklitshop. It’s a reading contest Hunger Games-style from June 1st to August 31st and I intend to be the Champion! 🏹🏆

the hungry readers games rules

🏹🏆 Two Challenges and Two Ways to Win

Competition 1 – Power Reader Challenge:

1 pt. will be awarded for novels (200+ pages!) 📚📚
0.5 pts. for novellas (199 pages or less!) 📚

Competition 2: Bonus Points Challenge – #HungerGames style! 😱🙈😱

✔️ Read an ARC a week (up to 3 max per week) = Accept 1 Bonus Point or Go to GamesMistress @LauraHeffernanBooks & Dice Roll for 0 – 5 Bonus Points! 😮
✔️ Write a Review a Week = 5 Bonus Points 😍
✔️ Write a Blog or IG Book Post a week = 3 Bonus Points. Keep them, or Go to the GamesMistress & Roll for Double or Nothing! 🤔
✔️ Gain Lifelines –> Every 15 new Followers = 5 Bonus Points 🤩
✔️ Gain Sponsors –> Every 5 Sponsors = 1 Bonus Points

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Week 1 (June 1-7) Report:

A Dark and Stormy Knight by Kerrigan Byrne – 2 points

  • Novel (eBook) finished on June 1 – 1 point
  • ARC – 1 bonus point
  • Review posted on Goodreads, BookBub, and Amazon on June 4
  • Bookstagram on June 3
  • Sponsor #1 – Kerrigan Byrne

The Outlaw’s Daughter by Margaret Brownley – 10 points

  • Novel (paperback) read between June 1-2 – 1 point
  • Advance reading copy – 1 bonus point
  • Review posted on Goodreads, BookBub, NetGalley, Amazon, and B&N – 5 bonus points
  • Blog and Instagram post- 3 bonus points
  • Sponsor #2 – Margaret Brownley via NetGalley

The Scoundrel’s New Con by Catherine Stein – 2 points

How to Seduce a Spy by Catherine Stein – 1 point

  • Novel (audiobook) finished on June 5 – 1 point
  • Review posted on Audible and Goodreads

Alpha Night by Nalini Singh – 1 point

  • Novel (eBook) read between June 5-7 – 1 point
  • ARC
  • Review posted on Goodreads, BookBub, Edelweiss, and Amazon
  • Bookstagram
  • Sponsor #4 – Nalini Singh via Edelweiss

Week 1 = 18 points (including bonus roll)


Week 2 (June 8-14) Report

Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho – 20 points

  • Novel (eBook) read between June 8 to 12 – 1 point
  • ARC – 1 bonus point
  • Challenge #1 – 10 bonus points
  • Review posted on Goodreads, BookBub, Amazon, Litsy, Edelweiss – 5 bonus points
  • Bookstagram – 3 bonus points
  • Sponsor #5 – Lauren Ho via Edelweiss

Seeds of Desire by Jessie Scott – 1 point

  • Novel (eBook) finished on June 13 – 1 point
  • Review posted on Goodreads
  • Sponsor #6 – Jessie Scott

Dance Away With Me by Susan Elizabeth Phillips – 2 points

  • Novel (eBook) read between June 13 and14 – 1 point
  • ARC – 1 bonus point
  • Review posted on Goodreads, BookBub, Edelweiss
  • Sponsor #7 – SEP via Edelweiss

The AI Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole – 0.5 points

  • Novella (audiobook) read between June 7 to 14 – 0.5 point
  • Review posted on Audible and Goodreads

Week 2 Total – 23.5 points

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Week 3 (June 15-21) Report

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Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras25 points

  • Novel (eBook) finished on June 19 – 1 point
  • ARC – 1 bonus point
  • Review posted on Goodreads, BookBub, NetGalley, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Litsy – 5 bonus points
  • Bookstagram – 3 bonus points
  • Challenge 2 (OwnVoices Dinner Book Challenge) – 15 points
  • Sponsor #8 – Priscilla Oliveras via NetGalley

Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh – 2 points

  • Novel (eBook) re-read on June 20 – 1 point
  • ARC – 1 bonus point
  • Review posted on Goodreads
  • Sponsor – Nalini Singh via NetGalley

The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles – 1 point

  • Novel (audiobook and eBook combo) read between June 19-21 – 1 point
  • Review posted on Goodreads

Additional bonus points – 2 points

  • ARC of Seeds of Desire – 1 bonus point
  • 5 sponsors – 1 bonus point

Total Week 3 – 27 points (after -3 for Double or Nothing)

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Week 4 (June 22-28) Report

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Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi – 0.5 points

  • Novella (audiobook) read between June 22-23 – 0.5 points
  • Review posted on Goodreads and Audible

Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin by Mariana Zapata – 1 point

  • Novel (audiobook) read between June 24-27 – 1 point
  • Review posted on Goodreads and Audible

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert – 10 points

  • Novel (eBook) finished on June 27 – 1 point
  • ARC – 1 bonus point
  • Review posted on Goodreads, Edelweiss, BookBub, Litsy – 5 bonus points
  • Bookstagram – 3 bonus points
  • Sponsor #9 – Talia Hibbert via Edelweiss

Simmer Down by Sarah Smith – 32 points

  • Novel (eBook) read between June 27-28 – 1 point
  • ARC – 1 bonus point
  • Review posted on Goodreads, NetGalley, BookBub, Litsy
  • Bookstagram 
  • Challenge #3 Chef & A Dream Book Challenge – 20 bonus points + 10 bonus points for Own Voices
  • Sponsor #10 – Sarah Smith via NetGalley

Additional points – 3 points

  • 5 sponsors – 1 bonus point
  • 2 turns of the dice – 2 bonus points

Total Week 4 – 46.5 points 

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Rest of June Report

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Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley – 6 points

  • Novel (audiobook) read from June 29 to 30 – 1 point
  • Review posted on Goodreads and Audible – 5 bonus points

Additional Points – 10 points

  • 15 new Facebook Likes – 5 bonus points
  • 15 new Instagram Followers – 5 bonus points

Deductions

  • Skipping Challenge #4 – -20 points

Total “Week 5” – 4 points

TOTAL JUNE POINTS – 111

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BREAKFAST AT THE HONEY CREEK CAFÉ By Jodi Thomas: Review and Giveaway

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BREAKFAST AT THE HONEY CREEK CAFÉ

A Honey Creek Novel

by

Jodi Thomas

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
Number of Pages: 336 pages

 

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Synopsis

BATHCC cover embellishedFrom Jodi Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of Mornings on Main and Indigo Lake, comes this heartwarming new novel set in Honey Creek, Texas—a small town where family bonds and legends run deep, and friendship and love are always close at hand . . .

Piper Jane Mackenzie, mayor of Honey Creek, won’t let a major scandal rip her quirky hometown apart or jeopardize her dream of one day running for higher office. So she’s willing to welcome undercover detective Colby McBride, hired to help solve the mystery behind her wannabe fiancé’s disappearance. Colby’s cover? That he is an old boyfriend now begging Piper for a second chance—always when there are plenty of townsfolk around to witness his shenanigans.

Piper hardly knows whether to laugh or cry, especially when she finds herself drawn to the handsome rascal. He’s not the only newcomer she has to deal with. There’s a new interim preacher in town, Sam Cassidy. Drifting from one assignment to another since his one love died, Sam isn’t sure he’s the right fit for Honey Creek. But as Piper knows, this is a place chock-full of surprises. And if she can keep her town—and her heart—from going completely off the rails, there may be a sweet, unexpected future in store . . .

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This was a hoot, a zany, funny light read that’s sure to entertain readers who like romantic fiction that’s set in a small town and that contains a little mystery to liven things up.

Breakfast at Honey Creek Café tells the intertwined stories of three couples – Piper and Colby, Sam and Anna, and Pecos and Kerrie. All different, all romantic in their own way.

Piper is the mayor of Honey Creek whose rumored boyfriend went missing and is now under suspicion of foul play. Colby is a trooper who was sent by her Texas Ranger brother to investigate the case and also to protect her. The cover story they came up with has Colby posing as an old suitor so that he can get the townspeople to talk to him. Both have bad experiences with relationships in the past that made them wary about their attraction to each other. With the entire town looking on, their pretend courtship soon turns oh-so real.

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Sam is a former firefighter and former soldier who takes up the position of temporary preacher originally meant for his deceased father. After the death of his girlfriend, he found himself drifting along without any real purpose until he came to Honey Creek. There, he realizes that preaching isn’t for him, but Anna, the feisty world-saver definitely is. Their snappy banter made me laugh out loud.

The third story–told from the point of view of Pecos, the graduating high school student who wants to leave town to be somebody–is the one that touched me the most. Pecos has the most tremendous growth of all the POV characters. He made me tear up with this line: “That living through any storms with her was better than facing the world alone.”

Jodi Thomas described a setting that’s quirky enough to be fictional, but also familiar enough to be realistic. There’s a lot of named characters necessary to paint a complete picture of a community. My favorite is the generous Mr. Winston.

This book is a different style from what I’ve read of Ms. Thomas’s work before. It’s more comedic and less angsty. It’s still her usual heartwarming story and I love that. My only critique is in the inconsistency of the tone. It started really serious with the mystery of the missing boyfriend but as the book went on, the graveness was abandoned in favor of attempts to elicit laughter from the reader. Also, the ending was a tad rushed, with the villain’s motivations not fully fleshed out. But all of that is minor compared to my overall enjoyment of the book. How could I not when this quote from Anna expresses my carpe diem motto exactly?

“We don’t know what the future holds, but we want to step into it together. It’ll take some work, but we’ll fit each other in our lives.”

4 out of 5 stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

Jodi Thomas 2With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over fifty novels and countless short story collections. Her stories travel through the past and present days of Texas and draw readers from around the world.

In July 2006, Jodi was the eleventh writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. With five RITAs to her credit, along with National Readers’ Choice Awards and Booksellers’ Best Awards, Thomas has proven her skill as a master storyteller.

Thomas was honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas and served sixteen years as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.

When not working on a novel, or inspiring students to pursue writing careers, Thomas enjoys traveling with her family, renovating an historic home, and “checking up” on two grown sons and four grandchildren.

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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

ONE WINNER: One signed copy of Breakfast at the Honey Creek Café
MAY 12-21, 2020
(US ONLY)

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5/12/20 BONUS Post Hall Ways Blog
5/13/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
5/14/20 Guest Post All the Ups and Downs
5/15/20 Review Momma on the Rocks
5/16/20 Author Interview Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
5/17/20 Scrapbook Page That’s What She’s Reading
5/18/20 Review Jennifer Silverwood
5/19/20 Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog
5/20/20 Review Reading by Moonlight
5/21/20 Review StoreyBook Reviews

 

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A HIGHLANDER WALKS INTO A BAR by Laura Trentham – Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

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A HIGHLANDER WALKS INTO A BAR

by

Laura Trentham

 

SYNOPSIS

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The timeless romance, soaring passion—and gorgeous men—of Scotland comes to modern-day America. And the rules of love will never be the same…

Isabel Buchanan is fiery, funny, and never at a loss for words. But she is struck speechless when her mother returns from a trip to Scotland with a six-foot-tall, very handsome souvenir. Izzy’s mother is so infatuated by the fellow that Izzy has to plan their annual Highland Games all by herself. Well, not completely by herself. The Highlander’s strapping young nephew has come looking for his uncle…

Alasdair Blackmoor has never seen a place as friendly as this small Georgia town—or a girl as brilliant and beguiling as Izzy. Instead of saving his uncle, who seems to be having a lovely time, Alasdair decides he’d rather help Izzy with the Highland Games. Show her how to dance like a Highlander. Drink like a Highlander. And maybe, just maybe, fall in love with a Highlander. But when the games are over, where do they go from here?

Buy-book link: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250315021

 

ABOUT LAURA

Trentham Author PhotoLaura Trentham is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance, including Then He Kissed Me and The Military Wife. She is a member of RWA, and has been a finalist multiple times in the Golden Heart competition. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.

 

Follow Laura here:

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REVIEW

A Highlander Walks Into A Bar is a fun, light double romance I thoroughly enjoyed for its themes of family, friendship, and community.

The main characters Isabel and Alasdair are well-suited to each other with similar caring for their respective parents and uncertainties about their careers despite their different backgrounds. I like the slow build-up of their romance through proximity and their quick acknowledgment of their mutual attraction. There was no push-and-pull that usually ticks me off.

I also appreciate that the deceptions (Gareth’s hiding of his title for self-protection and Alasdair’s mistake on getting his loathsome co-worker and boss interested in the Buchanan’s property) didn’t play out too long and after a proper grovel, especially on Alasdair’s part, Izzy and her mother Rose forgave their men.

I adore the idea of a small town where people work together to embrace and celebrate their cultural heritage. As an immigrant, I relate to this incredibly well. Highland, Georgia sounds like a fun place to visit during the games as described in this book.

Well-balanced story telling, likable secondary characters (especially Anna and Holt) who were interesting enough without overpowering the leads, smooth pacing, and  an intriguing tease for the next book are the reasons I’m giving this book four stars.

4 out of 5 stars

 

GIVEAWAY

One US reader will receive a paperback copy of A Highlander Walks Into A Bar from St. Martin’s Press. To enter, like the post and leave a comment below. I will draw a winner on Tuesday, August 6, at 12 noon Central time.

 

 

 

 

THE DUKE I ONCE KNEW by Olivia Drake – Blog Tour Review and Giveaway

ABOUT THE BOOK

Award-winning author Olivia Drake begins her new Unlikely Duchesses series with THE DUKE I ONCE KNEW (St. Martin’s Paperbacks; December 31, 2018). With compelling characters and skillful plot twists, Drake’s latest novel will take your breath away.

Duke I Once Knew_Cover.jpgFirst love is always the sweetest…

For years, Abigail Linton devoted herself to caring for her parents and her siblings’ children. Now, eager to create a life of her own, Abby seizes upon a position as a governess on a neighboring estate. Unfortunately, her absentee employer is Maxwell Bryce, the Duke of Rothwell, the notorious rake who once broke her youthful heart. But since he hasn’t set foot on his estate for fifteen years, Abby assumes she’ll never have to lay eyes on him ever again.

Then, from out of nowhere, Max appears. He is stunned to come face to face with the girl next door he fell for years ago—before he went away, and she stopped writing to him … even though Abby swears that he is the one who left her without a word. Could it be that this spirited, witty spinster has won Max’s heart all over again—and that they may have a second chance at love?

Buy this book: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250174376

REVIEW

The Duke I Once Knew will delight readers who are fans of historical romance novels that are light, entertaining, and simply about two people falling in love. There’s no deep angst, dark deadly secrets, or hardline stance of any kind. Just good story-telling. Sometimes that’s what I’m looking for. And it’s all right.

Abby and Max reunite after fifteen years and the return of their love for each other is utterly believable and quite obviously inevitable. The forces that are trying to keep them apart (misunderstanding about the lost letters, Lady Elise, Max’s poor example of a father) are addressed one by one and in a timely manner.

I love reading an older heroine in Abby. There are so few of them in historical romance that when I find one, I gravitate towards it right away. It was fine for me to read teenagers when I was younger, but not when I’m middle-aged and can’t relate. I also love her taking control of her own life and not letting herself be pushed around anymore. And when she and Max had their intimacy, she proved her strong will once more.

I also loved that the characters are flawed, but still sympathetic. Especially Max.  It makes the book as close to reality as it could get.

If I have minor complaints (villainess with no redeeming factor, some repetition in the PoVs, so many named characters some of whom never got fully developed), they’re overshadowed by the positives.

 

GIVEAWAY

SMP will send a paperback copy of The Duke I Once Knew to one lucky reader who follows me on social media and who likes this post. Comment here or my Facebook Author page to let me know you’ve entered. Here are my links:

1. Amazon
2. Blog
3. BookBub
4. Books+Main
5. Facebook
6. Goodreads
7. Instagram
8. LinkedIn
9. Pinterest
10. Twitter 

I’ll draw the winner on Monday, January 7 11:59 pm CST.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Olivia DrakeOlivia Drake is the author of the Cinderella Sisterhood series (Seducing the Heiress, Never Trust a Rogue, Scandal of the Year, If the Slipper Fits, Stroke of Midnight, Abducted by the Prince, Bella and the Beast, His Wicked Wish, and The Scandalous Flirt). She has been a member of Romance Writers of America since 1981, and her novels have won the Golden Heart Award, Best Historical Romantic Suspense and Best Regency Historical from Romantic Times. She has also won the prestigious RITA award. She currently resides in Houston, TX.

Author website: http://oliviadrake.com/
Author Twitter: @OliviaDrake1
Author Facebook: Olivia-Drake

SMP Romance Twitter: @SMPRomance or @heroesnhearts
SMP Romance Website: https://heroesandheartbreakers.com/

A BORROWED DREAM by Amanda Cabot – Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway

BNR A Borrowed Dream JPG_preview

A BORROWED DREAM

The Cimarron Creek Trilogy, Book 2

by

Amanda Cabot

Genre: Historical Romance / Inspirational

Publisher: Revell

Date of Publication: March 20, 2018

Number of Pages: 352

Scroll down for the giveaway!

 

Synopsis

Catherine Whitfield is sureCover hi res A Borrowed Dream_preview that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the town doctor’s excessive bleeding treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as
Cimarron Creek’s dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life without love or family, a life where dreams rarely come true.
Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He’s managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.
With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality.

Click for book trailer on Animoto!

Review_preview

Amanda Cabot’s A Borrowed Dream is a departure from what I typically read and I like that. This inspirational small town historical fiction with romantic elements hits all the right spots when you want to take a break from the regency or contemporary books that dominate the marketplace today. It’s the second book in the series but the first I’ve ever read by this author, yet I did not feel lost in not having read A Stolen Heart first.

This book introduced a lot of characters (the children – Hanna and Seth – are my favorites), but Ms. Cabot was able to center her story around Catherine and Austin. I really liked that they’re fully formed characters with strengths and weaknesses, so well-developed that you can picture them in your head. By the time you get through reading the book, you’ll feel like these people actually lived in 1881, in the Hill Country of Texas.

There’s a lot to this book–romance, friendship, some suspense and mystery, medical history, small-town intrigues–but amidst it all there’s always the messages of forgiveness and faith. Although it’s an easy read, some themes Ms. Cabot touched on were quite heavy. Child abuse, rape, adoption, and murder were treated with sensitivity. Cruelty to children is something I cannot abide that’s why I really felt for Seth.

A Borrowed Dream is a well-written book by a talented author. I especially liked the Author’s Letter at the end with its surprising information about plastic surgery. I do love books that educate and inform as well as they entertain. I’ll now have to go back and pick up A Stolen Heart while waiting for A Tender Hope.

 

PRAISE FOR A BORROWED DREAM:

“Cabot’s sweet love story will appeal to readers of gentle romances. . .Although this title stands on its own, readers of A Stolen Heart (2017), the first in Cabot’s place-based trilogy, will be happy to revisit the folks of Cimarron Creek.” –Booklist

“The second book in Cabot’s Cimarron Creek trilogy is even better than the first, with a dash of suspense, an intriguing bit of medical history and a host of enjoyable characters.” –RT Book Reviews

PRAISE FOR A STOLEN HEART, BOOK ONE IN THE CIMARRON CREEK TRILOGY:

“Readers will enjoy the surprising ending as well as the romance always found in Cabot’s books.”—Publishers Weekly

“Moments of humor provide a nice balance to the heartwarming scenes and the mild suspense thread.”—RT Book Reviews

“Cabot’s nonpreachy inspirational romance features characters who genuinely try to live honorable lives, and their story has broad appeal for readers of gentle fiction and historical romance as well as for readers of Christian fiction.”—Booklist

CLICK TO ORDER ON:

Baker Book HouseAmazonBarnes & NobleChristianbook.comBooks-A-MillionKobo

 

AboutTheAuthor

Cabot_Amanda_previewAmanda Cabot is the bestselling author of A Stolen Heart, the first book of the Cimarron Creek trilogy, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming.

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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

Click on picture for the Rafflecopter link:

Giveaway A Borrowed Dream_preview

THREE WINNERS

1ST: Copy of A Borrowed Dream, Novel Teas (25 count), Paddywax Library Collection Ralph Waldo Emerson Scented Soy Wax Candle, Cedar & Wild Fern (6.5oz)

2ND: Copy of A Borrowed Dream + $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card

3RD: Copy of A Borrowed Dream + $10 Starbucks Gift Card

APRIL 12-21, 2018 (US ONLY)

 

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

4/12/18          Excerpt 1                    Hall Ways Blog

4/12/18          Excerpt 2                    Book Fidelity

4/13/18          Review                        The Page Unbound

4/13/18          Author Interview      Chapter Break Book Blog

4/14/18          Excerpt 3                     Books in the Garden

4/14/18          Excerpt 4                     Books and Broomsticks

4/15/18          Review                         Missus Gonzo

4/16/18          Notable Quotable       Story Schmoozing Book Reviews

4/16/18          Notable Quotable        StoreyBook Reviews

4/17/18          Review                          That’s What She’s Reading

4/18/18          Guest Post                    Momma on the Rocks

4/19/18          Review                          The Love of a Bibliophile

4/20/18          Scrapbook Page           The Librarian Talks

4/21/18          Review                           Reading by Moonlight

4/21/18           Review                           Carpe Diem Chronicles

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LoneStarBookBlogTours

 

 

My January 2018 Reads

I was 8 for 10 in January for my Reading Challenge. I have three Works-In-Progress and finally joined Twitter; my reading time was severely curtailed. The good news is that I thoroughly enjoyed the eight books I read in January.

My first five-star read was Sonali Dev’s A Distant Heart. I tooa-distant-heart-sonali-devk my time reading this book even though I had a deadline to rate and review it within two weeks of its release. I wanted to not only delve deep into the story and characters, but also study the writing style and learn from it. I’ve decided that the majority of my books will be set away from the US and this is a perfect model for me to emulate. Sonali transported me to Mumbai from the first word. She deftly weaved the Indian culture into the story without the need for a glossary and lengthy explanations.

a devil in scotlandFrom India, I traveled to the Scottish highlands in Suzanne Enoch’s A Devil in Scotland. I enjoyed this action-packed Highland story of redemption and second-chance love. I especially liked Callum’s growth from a drunken irresponsible youth to a sharp businessman, loving father figure, seductive lover, and worthy clan leader. I adored little Margaret and her pack. I appreciated the slow(ish) build up of trust between Callum and Rebecca. The realization of their mutual attraction came as a natural progression due to their shared history and re-acquaintance rather than the lightning strike of instalust. Four stars. This was an ARC from NetGalley.

I love that I’m traveling through space and time with my reading. My next book Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan took me to one of my most favorite cities in the world, during what’s quite possibly my favorite holiday –moonlight-over-manhattan-by-sarah-morgan Christmastime. I rated it four stars. I love that both hero and heroine are self-aware, mature individuals yet they still both grew in the telling of this story. I adore that there are several cases of misunderstanding, but they were discussed and resolved right away. There’s a lot to admire in both Harriett and Ethan, that you just have to root for them to be together. I also appreciate the dogs, the friends, the family who played important roles in the MCs romance. If I have a critique, it would be that the pacing could have been a bit “faster” and the hero and heroine could have more flaws.

beyond scandal and desireWe go back to Victorian England with Lorraine Heath’s Beyond Scandal and Desire.  I loved loved loved that the romance between Mick and Aslyn is at the center of this book and Lorraine Heath never strayed from it. The revenge angle never overwhelmed it as I’ve seen in some other books I read recently. I cried at the end with the reveal and the discussion of baby farming. Ms. Heath has always been able to do that to me and I love her for it. A four-star read for me, this book sets up the new series very well. I’m looking forward to the stories of Mick’s foster siblings. Edelweiss kindly provided me with the Advance Review Copy of this book.

Back to present-day Napa Valley with Love Me Like love me like thisThis by Bella Andre. This was another ARC. Love Me Like This is incredibly sweet and unabashedly romantic. This story of a second-chance love between college best friends, who mistakenly thought their love for the other was not reciprocated, is the very definition of a romance novel. I always enjoy Bella’s books and Love Me Like This didn’t disappoint. I recommend this to everyone who wants to be reminded that there are positive stories out there, stories of generosity and kindness, stories of love and hope. They can be found in the pages of romance novels. Four stars.

heretics of thran

I haven’t taken a break from reading romance in a while so I decided to check out this series prequel by Tai. It turned out to be a great choice because it was a quick, fun read. What I loved is the world-building is happening without excessive info-dump at the start. I’m seeing it unfold as the scenes happen. Also, the characters are introduced in such a way that the reader is not confused by their sheer number, each distinct and easily identifiable. Heretics of Thran is a fast-paced action-packed adventure-fantasy romp and I cannot wait for the Distant Stars series to begin. I hope Edrich gets a love interest somewhere along the way. 😉 That’ll make my romance-loving heart happy.

After the futuristic sci-fi/fantasy, I’m back to romance the ones who got awaywith Roni Loren’s The Ones Who Got Away. Ms. Loren is a new-to-me author and this is the first one I’ve read of her work. It will certainly not the last. I gave this book five stars because it ticked all the boxes for books I enjoy the most. It was satisfying. There’s angst, hot sexytimes, family dysfunction, lots of humor, and what I love best, female friendships. The theme of taking one’s fate in hand and going for your dream in the present is something that parallels my own motto of Carpe Diem that’s why I have such an affinity with this book. “… I won’t play it safe. I won’t be practical. I’ll live a passionate life … I promise, Class of 2005, to live the life that scares me.”

unraveled

The last novel I completed in January is the first book of Lauren Dane’s Whiskey Sharp series – Unraveled. I was conflicted with this book. I love everything that had to do with Maybe and Alexsei. They are wonderfully well-rounded characters, who are real people and highly relatable. I adore their interactions and the sizzling chemistry between them. Their journey to love was funny, sweet, and oh-so sexy. On the other hand, I didn’t love the storyline with the parents. It overpowered the book. In the end, I will still follow this series, but I’m hoping the villains are gone quickly in the next novel.

 

To start February, I already have four books opened, both ebooks and paperback. I’ll try to catch up this month and read 12 books. Good thing, one of my WIPs will go to the editor in the middle of the month. I’ll have a little bit more time to read and be able to scale my Mt. TBR.

See my full reviews on Goodreads.

My Year in Books: Best of 2017

2018-12-30 (2)When you read Romance, all four seasons are seasons of love. As the song asks, “How do you measure a year in a life?” I measure in books. This year, Goodreads tells me I’ve read 208 books so far. Will probably end with 215. It’s a good number, but way below my average before I started writing. It will probably go down even more in 2018 as I plan to write 2 books and a novella. One thing won’t change, though. I will always be reading. I need to.

On to the list. I have loved so many books this year. These below are some of those I gushed about in 2017. I rated them five stars, posted about them in social media, and recommended them to as many people as I could.  Many of these were not published this year, but I only read them for the first time in 2017. Some are rereads. All are amazing.

January: My first five-star rating of the year went to a craft book: Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes. I used it extensively when I revised Boracay Vows to get it ready for pitching. I have this in both ebook and paperback. I’ve since recommended it to my writing group.

February: The best new book of the month for me was Lisa Kleypas’s Devil in Spring. The Wallflowers is my favorite of her many series of books and seeing Marcus, Evie, and Sebastian again made me really happy. Pandora and Gabriel held their own. My short Goodreads review read: “Lisa Kleypas did it again. Gabriel and Pandora, Sebastian and Evie – they all made me laugh, cry, love, and learn. It’s unputdownable.”

March: I feasted in books this month. My friend Eva Moore released her debut novel Someone Special and I loved it. I said in my review, “This story is so real to me. Like I’ve met these people in real life. Eva made them come alive for me. The situations and emotions are things I myself have been in and felt. This book is not just about the romance between Dani and Nick, but also about friendship and community.

the hating gameIf there was a book I gushed over the most, it has to be Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game. I put it on hold at the San Antonio Library in November, but I didn’t get it until March. That’s how long the queue was for this book. When I got it, I devoured it in a couple of hours and immediately wanted to reread it. I posted about THG on OSRBC, I friended Sally Thorne and joined her fan club The Flamethrowers. I’ve since gotten my own digital and paperback copy. Now if only I can get it signed by Sally, my fangirl-ing will be complete. My review reads, “Five glowing stars. I am so envious of Sally Thorne for writing this outstanding first novel. This book is fresh and young, and utterly delightful. Josh and Lucy are fantastic characters, their chemistry is electric. I adore their conversations. I’m always antsy when they weren’t talking. I didn’t want the book to end. I want to read more. One of my new favorites.”

Another great find in 2017 is Katy Regnery’s The Vixen and the Vet. I was looking for Beauty and the Beast retellings to prepare for the live action movie and this came up on my search. It was also OSRBC’s New School Book of the Month in March. As with Sally Thorne, I also friended Katy on Facebook, became one of her Katy’s Ladies, and received a signed copy of The Vixen and the Vet. This was my review: “5 stars. A perfect 10 stars, if possible. This has to be one of the best romance novels I’ve ever read. Will definitely be on my Top Ten. I couldn’t put it down once I started. I cried and cried. Great writing.”

April: I read 26 books in April and I rated 6 of them 5-stars. That’s a fantastic percentage.

Nora Roberts’s Born in Fire was OSRBC’s Old School BOTM for April and I reread all three books in the series. I rated Fire and Ice 5 stars, Shame 4 stars. My reviews were long so I won’t repeat them here, but this is a highlight: “Even though this was a reread for me, I savored every word as if I was reading it for the first time. This book proves why Nora Roberts is my most favorite romance writer ever.”

I’ve been reading Sophie Jordan’s historical romance novels since 2010, but she didn’t become an auto-buy for me until her contemporary Devil’s Rock series. The third book, Fury on Fire, is my favorite. “Five red-hot stars. For me, Fury on Fire is the best of the three Devil’s Rock books so far. Both North and Faith are such great characters. I felt so much for North and what he had gone through inside the prison. I like it that although the attraction was there from the start, they didn’t act on it until later. I also liked that there was no heavy external conflict and that the HEA was not drawn out.”

I didn’t read Susan Elizabeth’s Phillips’s Nobody’s Baby But Mine when it was OSRBC’s BOTM in July 2015. I don’t remember why and I regretted that I hadn’t read it sooner. It was wonderful. Here’s my review: “5 Lucky Charms-flavored stars. Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a genius. She has the gift of making me laugh out loud and cry like my heart is breaking. All of the characters in Nobody’s Baby but Mine are wonderful. Jane, Cal, Lynn, Jim, Annie, Ethan, Kevin – they’re all great, crazy but in a good way. I really enjoyed this and would recommend it to romance readers looking for happy books with substance.”

Nalini Singh’s backlist is daunting, especially her Psy/Changeling series. I wanted to read her so bad I decided on her Rock Kiss series as my entry into her world. The second book, Rock Hard, is my most favorite of the four books. I said, “Five rock-hard stars. This is the kind of books I want to be able to write – characters like Charlotte and Gabriel, who have strengths and flaws, who grow up in the course of the book; stories about real people in today’s world, who experience pain, joy, victories, failures; and stories of friendship, family, and love. Rock Hard has all of these. It has humor, conflict, and heart.”

I didn’t discover Lorraine Heath until OSRBC made Texas Destiny its Book of-the-Month in June 2015. I’ve been collecting her books ever since. I wanted to read in order so I started with the Scoundrels of St. James before going into the Scandalous Gentlemen. Oh boy, was I rewarded for my patience when I finally reached The Duke and the Lady in Red. This is easily one of my Top 25 favorite historical novels of all time. “Hurts so good. Five heartrending stars. I’m still ugly crying up to now. I’ve been warned about this book. It’s going to make you cry, my friends said. The feels! I can’t express how amazingly this romance novel breaks my heart and yet put it back together again. Avendale, he is so flawed, yet so heroic. Rose – what a heroine, a swindling angel. And Harry. He was the best part, the heart of the book.”

May: This was the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and I prioritized those authors whose heritage could be traced to the biggest continent and largest ocean in the world.

Sherry Thomas is a new-to-me author in 2017, but I quickly fell for her fluid use of the English language. “Five sumptuous stars. Delicious is the first book by Sherry Thomas that I’ve ever read and if this is any indication of her style of writing, I’m sure I’ll read more. Her voice is unique, the hero and heroine are not your typical characters in historical novels. She’s 33, he’s 37. She’s a cook, he’s a politician. More than her atypical characters, there’s the way Ms. Thomas lays out the scenes. All your senses are engaged, especially when she described food. I swear, my mouth was watering at the thought of eating madeleines. I could feel the sweat on my face while I was reading the bathtub scene. The book made me cry three times. And, at the very end, it made me smile so big. It deserves all the luscious stars I could give it.”

I’ve been reading Alisha Rai since when she was still self-publishing. Her first book under Avon is probably her best. “Five stars. I’ve read Alisha Rai’s work before and her books have always been sexy, but this series, I believe, has the most depth. She expertly laid out Nico and Livvy’s second-chance love amidst their shared complicated family history. This book would always score high for me due to the multicultural characters. That it delivered in the storytelling was a big bonus. I cried, I smiled, I blushed, I felt for all the characters. As a writer of multicultural contemporary romance, I would look to this work as a model of how a book of the sub-genre can be told well.”

Also in May were rereads of After the Night and Sarah’s Child by old school favorite Linda Howard and The Best is Yet to Come from Indie Goddess Bella Andre’s new Summer Lake series.

“Sarah’s Child is one of my most favorite romance novels, one I reread every Mother’s Day. Sarah and Rome are such memorable characters, their story so, so affecting. I love Sarah for her strength. She is self-sacrificing without being a martyr. For all that Rome is such a difficult character, I could never hate him, especially that he loved and cared for Sarah in his own way, and he did change in the end. I also loved the secondary characters- Max, Marcie, and Derek. They provide a good balance of humor and support into the seriousness of Sarah and Rome’s relationship. I cry at the same exact places, every single time. I adore this book. I consider it one of Linda Howard’s best works ever.” After the Night: “This is one of Linda Howard’s steamiest books, but there’s also humor and mystery. One of my favorites of her books.”

The Best is Yet to Come was the first ARC I received from Bella Andre for being a member of her VIP Street Team. She used my review in a graphic to promote the book during the launch. “Five sweet stars. I love the sweet, small town, reunion story of The Best is Yet to Come. There’s real conflict, but Bella did not make it so heavy that you’ll feel depressed while reading it. I appreciate that I could like and dislike Sarah at the same time. I understood her internal struggle and fears. I like that Calvin is strong yet can admit to weaknesses and mistakes. What I liked the best is feeling as if I’m part of the world that Bella is building in Summer Lake. I’m excited for this new series. It has all the elements that I love in a contemporary romance- family, friendship, community, and love. It made me smile and tear up. There’s a freshness and depth to Bella’s writing here.”

June: Another mixed bag of new-to-me authors and reread of a favorite.

the chocolate kissAfter The Hating Game, I was looking for enemies-to-lovers, slow-burn books and found Laura Florand’s Amour et Chocolat series. The second book, The Chocolate Kiss, is my absolute favorite. “J’adore ce livre. Enemies-to-lovers, slow burn, multicultural, strong characters, french pastries, hot chocolate – I love everything about The Chocolate Kiss. This book just made me so happy while reading it. I smiled, I cried, I felt for both Philippe and Magalie in their journey to love. Secondary characters were fleshed out well. The descriptions were lavish, evocative, and as decadent as chocolate. I could picture the people and the scenes in my head as I read. It’s sexy, heartwarming, magical.”

Sarah MacLean is the founder of the Old School Romance Book Club (OSRBC) and I fell in love with her books ever since I read A Rogue By Any Other Name. In preparation for the launch of The Day of the Duchess, a bunch of us reread The Rogue Not Taken. This was my review: “TRNT made me laugh, cry, and fall in love with both Sophie and King, and Warnick, and the handsome doctor, even Matthew, the footman. Engaging storytelling, snappy dialogues, great character-building- this book has all of the reasons why Sarah MacLean has become one of my favorite historical romance novelists.”

I went on vacation to the UK in June and I decided to read books set there. Lucy Parker’s Act Like It is another book recommended for those who have THG hangover. “I really enjoyed this book. There are so many funny moments and touching ones, too. I loved that the characters are multi-dimensional, not cardboard cut-outs. Lainie and Richard’s fall into love was a journey I willingly traveled with them. There were several characters introduced, but in no way did they overshadow the leads, not even Will. I loved the sparkling dialogue.”

July: Continued the UK trend, dove in to the new Sarah MacLean when I got back to the US, and finally read my ARC of Jill Shalvis’s Lost and Found Sisters which I received from her way back in March. I was also busy with Camp NaNo so I did not read a lot this month.

Multicultural romance is the genre I write in and it’s one I love to read. Melissa Blue’s Under His Kilt series hits the right notes for me. “Five kilted stars. Wonderful relationship building. Fell in love with both Victoria and Callan. And the Baird, Douglass. Just visited Scotland last week and loved it there. Obviously, Melissa Blue did, too.”

Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis: “Five heartwarming stars ✨ I’ve had this book since March and I can’t believe I didn’t read it until now. It’s wonderful. It’s got everything: romance, friendship, community, and family. There’s humor and pathos. The characters are well developed and relatable. It even had the most lovable “villains”. This is a triumph for Jill Shalvis.”

Sarah MacLean’s The Day of the Duchess was excellent as expected. “Devoured it in four hours. Cried from page 2 up to p. 364. Laughed as well, especially with the suitresses. Was a monster and dog-eared pages of my favorite lines (at least 15). Groveling Haven redeemed. ❤❤❤ all the Dangerous Daughters/Soiled S’s.”

August: Another fabulous month of reading with lots of ARCs coming from both NetGalley and Edelweiss and established favorites.

Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me: “It has all the elements I love in a romantic comedy. First, it’s really funny with witty and zippy dialogues, hilarious but probable interactions and situations among characters. Second, the hero and heroine are likable and relatable with enough strengths and weaknesses to make them real. I like that Min is full-figured but wasn’t ashamed of it and didn’t try to lose weight to get her man. I liked that Cal has vulnerabilities but is also confident about himself and he really, really knew Min. I love that they tried to stay away from each other yet fate kept bringing them together. I appreciate that they got each other’s backs when it comes to defending the other against their awful families. I also like that although there are a lot of secondary characters in this book, their presence is all because of Min and Cal. I love the friendship, the cat, Elvis, even the families. I love the Stats nickname (that’s me), the cute shoes, the Chicken Marsala, and the doughnuts. This book just hits the right spots for me.”

“SEP should teach a course on character growth in romance novels and Kiss an Angel should be her textbook. Everyone in this book, from Daisy, Alex, Brady, Sheba, and Heather were different people at the end of the book from who they were at the start. The readers get to know them, feel for them, hate and care for them. They were not just names on paper, they’ve become real people. All because of the writing genius of Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I absolutely adore this book. It took me on an emotional journey I was only too willing to traverse. I laughed, I wept, I smiled, I got angry, I loved. I loved all the characters, even the minor ones like Trey, Kevin, Max, and Amelia. But, i especially loved the animals – Glenna, Tater, and Sinjun. Kiss an Angel has just become one of my favorite romance novels of all time.”

Kate Meader is another new-to-me author who I became really friendly with. I joined her fan group Kate’s Kittens and I’ve been privileged to receive advance review copies of her books from NetGalley this year. She is so versatile, writing about food, firemen, and sports with equal competence. “Five icy-hot stars. Kate did it again! She delivered another book with a delicious hero one can’t help but fall in love with, a strong heroine you can relate to, a fascinating story you enjoy following along, and fully-fleshed out secondary characters whose future books you’re looking forward to reading. Irresistible You is funny, but also addresses several heavy issues like sexism and violence against women. It’s super sexy and incredibly fun to read.”

In my opinion, Tessa Dare’s The Duchess Deal is one of the year’s best books. “I devoured this book in two hours. Had tears in my eyes from laughter beginning at Chapter One and throughout the book. Teared up in the end as well from Ash’s fears for his child. The dialogue is sharp, witty, clever, and laugh-out-loud funny. The characters were sympathetic and utterly likable. The attraction between Emma and Ash was strong from the start. Their love scenes were steamy.”

Kerrigan Byrne is another author I discovered through OSRBC. I’m looking forward to meeting her in person next year. “The Scot Beds His Wife, despite its unfortunate title, reinforces my love of the Victorian Rebels series. It has all the elements that I adored in the four earlier books – loads of angst, electric chemistry between hero and heroine, sizzling lovemaking, heart-pounding action, and most especially, the far-from-perfect and diverse characters. What Scot has more of that the others don’t is the lightness of humor balancing the heaviness caused by all the tragedies that are constantly befalling the Rebels and their loved ones.”

beautiful lawman“The title of the book, Beautiful Lawman, refers to Sheriff Hale Walters and I love him even though he started all judgmental and tight-assed. He ended up so in love I forgive him for his early behavior. That he’s yummy and so heroic wasn’t too bad, either. But, the star of the book for me is Piper. Sophie gutted me with Piper’s struggles to be a parent to her sister Malia and her determination to rise above the desperate situation she was in when no one was willing to help because of her family history. I got emotional reading this book because I felt so much for what Piper had to go through, what she has to overcome. She was shunned, looked down upon, but she remained strong and resolute. In the end, she truly deserved her victorious happy-ever-after. Another thing I loved about this book is the hot sexytimes. Sophie Jordan’s latest works have become increasingly sensual and I’m loving the extra heat and sizzle of her stories.”

September: Feedback from Beta readers for Boracay Vows started to come in this month and I was in full revision/edit mode. There were still a few gems I managed to indulge in this month.

Lorraine Heath’s When the Marquess Falls: “Cried my eyes out. Short, but oh-so-sweet. The Marquess of Marsden was my favorite part of The Viscount and the Vixen. Reading his full story just about broke my heart. It’s not your typical HEA, but I believe he and Linnie got it in the end.”

J.D. Robb’s In Death is the longest series I’m still following and loving. Now up to fifty-five books and novellas, it remains fun and fresh. “In other In Death books, sometimes the murder mystery overpowers the love story, but not in Secrets. Here, the death is in the background, only a tool employed by J.D. Robb to show the continued growth of the relationship between Eve and Roarke. There is humor and snark, pathos (oh Summerset!), comfort, and intelligent procedural to solve the crime. There’s friendship, collegial camaraderie, community, and family. But, above all, there’s heat and so much love. Scary Roarke and Bitch Cop Eve Forever!

Katy Regnery’s Unloved: “Five heart-rending stars ✨ My eyes are swollen from the tears I shed. My throat aches from the lump that kept forming as I read Unloved. My heart is both heavy and light. I knew it was going to be angsty. I was prepared, but I still felt so emotional. Every now and then you need a book that will break your heart and piece it back together again. Unloved does that.”

October: While my editor worked on copy edits, I read.

Eloisa James’s The Beauty Tamed the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tale retellings and this month, A Kiss at Midnight became another. “A Kiss at Midnight is a funny, witty, sexy, touching fairytale with plenty of clever Shakespearean references mixed in. Kate is a delightful Cinderella, smart, feisty, feminist. Gabriel is a not-so charming prince, one who takes his responsibilities seriously. Their attraction is not quite instant, but strong nonetheless and it’s based on banter and character more than appreciation of physical attributes.”

Y’all can probably tell by now that Lorraine Heath is one of my favorite authors. I’m still slowly working on reading all her books. Sweet Lullaby is a real jewel. “This book was cry-a-minute for me. Jake is the best beta hero I’ve ever read. He has suffered so much in his life yet his capacity for love is still boundless. Lorraine Heath always writes remarkable heroes. Her male voice is truly outstanding. Reb is a good heroine. Her actions and reactions, including her confusion, are understandable. It’s not her fault that Jake was drawn better than her. Sweet Lullaby is melodramatic but I don’t mind it. Published in 1994, it doesn’t read old or dated.”

I requested Roomies from NetGalley because I’ve seen a lot of raves for Christina Lauren’s books but I haven’t read them before. Well, I appreciate being gifted the ARC because I was impressed. “This book is a great introduction to new-to-me authors and I will be adding their books to my TBR mountain ASAP. What’s admirable is that they are two writers but Roomies has one unified “voice”. You cannot tell who wrote which part. It was so seamless. The conversations flowed. The situations and the characters’ actions and reactions were all plausible. There was no suspension of disbelief. I laughed, I cried, I gushed with the romance, I blushed during the love scenes, I got angry, I sympathized. I felt everything Holland went through. That’s why I am giving Roomies all the five stars. Books that engaged all my emotions usually get the top score. Roomies deserves nothing less.”

Bella Andre and her Sullivans have become my go-to reads when I need comforting from all the chaos of life’s realities. I’m often reassured that love, friendship, and family are still some of the most important things in the world. That’s why I read romance. That’s why I love You Do Something To Me. “It’s obvious that Bella loved writing Alec Sullivan. He’s strong yet vulnerable, resolute but also unsure, tough and a softie at the same time. He’s what you want your romantic hero to be – honest about his intentions and takes great care of the heroine. Cordelia is a worthy match for Alec. She has her strengths and brings out the best in him. She helps the real him to come out. She can stand on her own but is happiest when she’s with him. I really enjoyed this sweet and sexy friends-to-lovers romance. Anytime a book makes me smile and tear up, it’s sure to get high marks.”

November: Launch month of Boracay Vows plus NaNo meant I only got to read 6 books including mine.

My author review: “Boracay Vows will always be special to me as it’s my first born. Krista has a little bit of me and Blake has a little bit of my hubby in him. The food, hats, and shoes–they’re all me. So is the female friendship. And the closeness of family relationships.”

I took time out of preparing for the launch of my debut novel Boracay Vows and writing my second novel Singapore Fling during naNoWriMo to read Cherish Hard and I consider it time well spent. “As usual, Nalini Singh tells a great love story not just between Isa and Sailor, but also between them and their friends and family. It’s a story that anyone can relate to, even though the characters might not look like them. I love that this book is multicultural and it reflects the reality of the world we’re living in right now. I adore that Isa is older than Sailor and she’s a full-figured woman with the normal insecurities, but with innate confidence as well. I love that Sailor is oh-so-sexy with a big heart. Like Rock Hard before it, Cherish Hard is a keeper for me.”

I’ve been on a Lisa Kleypas binge lately and I am enjoying it so much. On Sugar Daddy: “It’s barely a romance novel, but I loved it anyway. Lisa Kleypas has a very strong historical voice and an equally strong contemporary one. I honestly believe she had poured more of herself in this book and the rest of the Travis series. She obviously knows Texas and Texans. I’ve only been to Houston once, but after reading Sugar Daddy I feel so familiar with it I felt like I lived there during the time I was reading the book.”

December: LK binge continued.

Blue-Eyed Devil“These days, all we see in the news are reports of sexual harassment to the point of assault–mostly made by men against women. We need a reminder that there are still men out there who cherish and protect women. One such man is the Blue-Eyed Devil himself: Hardy Cates. Next to Roarke, he’s my favorite contemporary romance Book Boyfriend. He doesn’t get a POV, that’s all Haven, but boy does he leap out of the pages of the book. Even in the first book Sugar Daddy he dominated each scene he appeared in. Lisa Kleypas must love him very much because she wrote him so beautifully. Here’s why I keep giving Blue-Eyed Devil five stars: it’s real to me. Haven and Hardy, Churchill, Liberty, Gage, Jack, etc. are not mere characters in a book. They are real people. And that’s why I love Lisa Kleypas. Because she created them and made them come alive. That is an incredible talent. I will always buy her books, even when I hate their covers.”

“Five stars. This is my third reread of A Wallflower Christmas and the time I enjoyed it the most. I actually upgraded my rating from four to five. I loved revisiting the Wallflowers and this is a great wrap-up to the series. The bonus story of Rafe and Hannah’s fall into love was well-done and I adore its development even though it’s short. The toy soldier and love letter more than made up for Rafe’s earlier boorishness with the forceful first kiss and the teacup incident. One of the best parts of this novella though is this quote: “A well-read woman is a dangerous creature.”

So, here they are, the books I loved in 2017. It was a happy reading to me the whole year long. Hopefully, it will be the same in 2018.

Happy Book Birthday – So Over You by Kate Meader

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SO OVER YOU
Chicago Rebels series, Book 2
Kate Meader
Pocket Star EBooks
December 4, 2017
$5.99
ISBN 9781501168567

“Meader serves up a delicious mix of sports, sexy romance, and complicated, captivating characters with her second Chicago Rebels hockey contemporary (after Irresistible You)…Meader’s erotic scenes could melt ice, and her complex protagonists will keep readers eagerly turning pages.”
—Publishers Weekly (So Over You)

“Things heat up on the ice in Meaer’s latest installment of the Chicago Revels series (Irresistible You, 2017)…Isobel and Vadim’s chemistry is off the charts, and Meader’s engaging details of hockey and Chicago pull you further into their world. Even nonhockey fans will be rooting for the Rebels by the last page.”
—Booklist (So Over You)

“Hockey is a sport that moves a mile a minute, and it’s even more thrilling when the action off the ice has even more speed. In the second Chicago Rebels book, external conflicts make the path to a happy ending difficult for the couple, but that makes it even more satisfying in the end. Meader’s thought-provoking tale has well-rounded characters who touch each other’s lives — sometimes not too gently.”
—RT Book Reviews (So Over You)

“Meader’s strength is creating characters who live, breathe, and jump off the page; Remy and Harper shine, and the supporting cast of characters, including Harper’s half-sisters, is very strong. The mix of sexual tension and emotional decisions will lead Meader’s series launch to many a keeper shelf.”
—Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW (Irresistible You, Book 1)

“Meader takes her readers on a breathtaking, non-stop, glorious ride. The sex scenes are lyrically written with fresh, descriptive prose. Enough is included about hockey to add its fast rhythm to the book. Remy’s family is multi-faceted and fills the pages with joy. Readers will love the relationship between Remy and Harper, and will be excited for the next story — Isobel’s.”
—RT Book Reviews Four and a Half Star TOP PICK (Irresistible You, Book 1)

About the book:
Three estranged sisters struggle to sustain their late father’s failing hockey franchise in Kate Meader’s SO OVER YOU, Book 2 in the new sizzling Chicago Rebels series. Middle sister Isobel is at a crossroads in her personal and professional lives. But both are about to get a significant boost with the addition of a domineering Russian powerhouse to the Rebels…

Isobel Chase knows hockey. She played NCAA, won silver at the Games, and made it thirty-seven minutes into the new National Women’s Hockey League before an injury sidelined her dreams. Those who can’t, coach, and a position as a skating consultant to her late father’s hockey franchise, the Chicago Rebels, seems like a perfect fit. Until she’s assigned her first job: the man who skated into her heart as a teen and relieved her of her pesky virginity. These days, left-winger Vadim Petrov is known as the Czar of Pleasure, a magnet for puck bunnies and the tabloids alike. But back then…let’s just say his inability to sink the puck left Isobel frustratingly scoreless.

Vadim has a first name that means “ruler,” and it doesn’t stop at his birth certificate. He dominates on the ice, the practice rink, and in the backseat of a limo. But a knee injury has produced a bad year, and bad years in the NHL don’t go unrewarded. His penance? To be traded to a troubled team where his personal coach is Isobel Chase, the woman who drove him wild years ago when they were hormonal teens. But apparently the feeling was not entirely mutual.

That Vadim might have failed to give Isobel the pleasure that was her right is intolerable, and he plans to make it up to her—one bone-melting orgasm at a time. After all, no player can perfect his game without a helluva lot of practice…

About the author:
KateMeaderKate Meader was raised on romance. An Irish girl, she started with Catherine Cookson and Jilly Cooper novels, and spiced it up with some Mills & Boon. Now based in Chicago, she writes romances of her own, where sexy contemporary alpha heroes and strong heroines match each other quip for quip. When not immersed in tales of brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron or a fire hose, Kate lives on the web at katemeader.com.
Giveaway:
Kate Meader will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card during release week. To enter, please go here!

Excerpt: 
“This little job is the difference between you playing and not. Dancing with the Stars, Vaddy baby. It’s where all the washed-up pros end up.”
Annoyed at his reaction to her, he skated away, throwing out over his shoulder, “I will be playing, Isobel. You will have no say in that. I spoke with Moretti—it is clear why you have this job.”
Her brow crimped. Naturally, it was adorable. “Please. Enlighten me.”
“He is new and no doubt under pressure to bow to the owners. You can write your own ticket.”
“If that’s the case, I’d just appoint myself as head coach and be done with it.”
“You are also conscious of what the fans and media think, so you are starting small. Really, you could have called or texted, Isobel. Buying my contract seems like a lot of work to bring me back into your world.”
“You weren’t my first choice. But luckily your poor play this season meant Quebec was happy to offload you.”
He ignored the brief stab. The last six months had been difficult. Isobel understood this, yet they could not resist these little cuts.
“I think you wanted to be closer to me. Just like before, right, Bella?”
A blush crept up her cheeks on hearing his endearment for her.
He would test her. Make her angry and emotional. Make her cry. Because angry, emotional criers were not the stuff of coaches. If she was serious about a career in the NHL, she would hear worse.
She would get him game fit. He would get her battle ready.
He continued to needle. “Yes, I think that must be it. It seems that the female owners of the Rebels would like to abuse their position and use the players for their personal pleasure. Your sister and Remy DuPre—that is interesting.”
“Is it?”
“Harper may have duped a Rebel player into her bed, but please don’t imagine you and I will be renewing our acquaintance in a similar manner.”
That got her attention, at last. Her creamy skin blazed, her crimson mouth twitched, and even from a distance he could see those melted-shamrock eyes darken. She looked like she wanted scream at him. Burst into tears. Slap his face.
Yes, Bella. Let us see if you can handle the barbs of every player, coach, and fan who will dismiss you. Let us see if you can handle me.
Fury powering her stride, she skated over, skidding to a halt mere inches from his face. As before, she was magnificent.
“You’ve found me out, Petrov.”
“I have?”
“It’s all an elaborate ruse. We bought your contract even though you really haven’t been performing well this season. Let’s face it, you’ve sucked donkey balls, Vadikins. But I convinced my sisters that I alone could bring you back to top condition. Make you a valuable asset to the team. I also made sure I’d be the only one working with you . . .” She leaned up on the tips of her blades, a balancing act that required great skill and remarkable ankle strength. Close enough that he could have slipped his tongue between his lips and tasted hers.
Her breath was a hot puff of temptation. “So we would have all this alone time.”
With that fiery gaze, she held his own.
Unerring.
Unflinching.
Until her mouth creased, and she broke into a laugh. He remembered that laugh. Just as before, it hit him right in the balls.
She used the edge of the iPad to poke him in the chest. “You thought I’d go to all this trouble to try to get into your hockey shorts, Petrov? I’m a team owner—I can have any of these Rebel boys with the click of my fingers!” She chuckled, clearly enjoying herself. “Despite what that supersized ego of yours thinks, the only performance I want from you is on the ice. Maybe if you spent less time carousing—”
“Carousing?”
“Yes, it’s nicer than calling you a club-hopping, vodka-sodden manwhore. Less of that and more effort on your day job, please. And don’t worry yourself that I’m interested in ‘renewing our acquaintance.’ I’ve had better lays with the Ukrainian delegation at the last Games.”
He had to say he enjoyed this sharp-tongued, quick-witted version of Isobel. But not enough to admit it to her.
“There is nothing you can teach me.”
“So sure, Russian.”
“I am positive.”
“We’ll see.” She skated back to the edge of the rink. “Again.”

 

My Review:

4.5 stars rounded off high. pro_reader_120

Kate Meader’s books are so addictive. I thought Remy from Irresistible You was my love, but now it’s Vadim Petrov. I’m almost one-hundred percent sure I’ll be falling for Dante next, then Bren after him. That’s because Kate has a very strong male “voice”. Her men are lovable because they’re not altogether flawless. She lets us get to know her characters so well that we understand where they’re coming from when they act in a certain way. So, yeah, Vadim started out super arrogant and cold and Russian, but by the end, he became this sympathetic, vulnerable guy. When he made a unilateral decision to “protect” Isobel, I got mad along with her, but I forgave him even before she did. That’s talent. Kate Meader has loads of it.

Not to say that her heroines are weak or secondary to the heroes. They’re fabulous! Isobel, like Harper before her, is awesome. She knows her own mind but has doubts, too. She’s confident, yet has fears. All very real and relatable.

Isobel and Vadim are great together. They’re sexy, funny, and they’re just meant to be with each other. I enjoyed their interactions and their journey to love.

I also enjoyed the secondary characters. The team, the sisters, Vadim’s small family, especially his relationship with his little sister Mia. The sisters. I love them. I love that they’re working together to create a uniquely functional family.

There’s so much love and laughter in So Over You. Shed a few tears, too. Yep, this is a worthy read.

Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for giving me an advanced copy to review.

Happy Book Birthday!

Several of the ARCs I received are released today. Thanks to NetGalley, Goodreads, publishers, and authors for giving me the privilege. Today is turning out to be the busiest release day in Romance.

Wilde in Love (The Wildes of Lindow Castle #1) by Eloisa James

wilde-in-loveLord Alaric Wilde, son of the Duke of Lindow, is the most celebrated man in England, revered for his dangerous adventures and rakish good looks. Arriving home from years abroad, he has no idea of his own celebrity until his boat is met by mobs of screaming ladies. Alaric escapes to his father’s castle, but just as he grasps that he’s not only famous but notorious, he encounters the very private, very witty, Miss Willa Ffynche.

My Review:

Wilde in Love is a sexy and funny Shakespearean comedy. The characters, both human and animal, are well described and distinctive. The situations are on the right side of farcical. Alaric and Willa are evenly matched in looks and intellect. Their interactions are sweet and steamy. I always like it when the hero realizes his feelings first and gives his all in wooing his beloved. Their attraction was natural and inevitable. As expected of an Eloisa James novel, Wilde in Love entertains and satisfies. That’s why she is an auto-buy for me.

 

A Daring Arrangement (The Four Hundred #1) by Joanna Shupe  a-daring-arrangement-the-four-hundred-book-1-by-joanna-shupe

Set in New York City’s Gilded Age, Joanna Shupe’s Avon debut introduces an English beauty with a wicked scheme to win the man she loves—and the American scoundrel who ruins her best laid plans…

Lady Honora Parker must get engaged as soon as possible, and only a particular type of man will do. Nora seeks a mate so abhorrent, so completely unacceptable, that her father will reject the match—leaving her free to marry the artist she desires. Who then is the most appalling man in Manhattan? The wealthy, devilishly handsome financier, Julius Hatcher, of course….

My Review:

This is probably my favorite of Joanna Shupe’s books so far. The story is familiar but she gives it a fresh twist which I enjoyed very much. A romance novel about an English heroine faking a relationship with an American hero set in New York during the Gilded Age is all kinds of fun. I liked both Nora and Julius. They’re strong characters and this book is really about how they fell in love in spite of the less than ideal beginning. I truly admire all of Ms. Shupe’s research on the era as there’s a sense of place to this book that makes the reader feel as if they’re there with the characters. I love New York and I loved being transported there when I read A Daring Arrangement. Another thing I appreciate with this book is the comparisons between English and American societies. There really is history in this historical romance.

 

The Bride Who Got Lucky (The Cavensham Heiresses #2) by Janna MacGregor

the bride who got lucky

He would do anything to protect her. Even marry her…

The son of a cold-hearted duke, Nicholas St. Mauer isn’t one to involve himself in society…or open his own heart to anyone. But driven by honor, the reclusive Earl of Somerton feels obliged to keep a watchful eye on Lady Emma Cavensham. She possesses a penchant for passions unbecoming a woman that finds Nick in constant peril of losing his well-structured solitude. She even dared kiss Nick once―an utterly unladylike, and delightful, lapse…

My review: 

I liked that the heroine Lady Emma is very passionate about her causes – her fight to get justice for the death of her friend Lena and her desire to help women in need by setting up a bank. I liked that she’s brave and that she loves to read.

I liked that Nick is a self-made man, that he amassed his own fortune. I liked that he is so protective of Emma even though he kept fighting his feelings for her. It is admirable that he stands firm on his principles and is not wishy-washy.

I appreciate that Ms. MacGregor has them waiting until they got married to consummate their relationship. I also liked that the whole family gets involved and although I haven’t read the first book, I appreciate that the story of Alex and Claire gets an update.

There were things I questioned in my advanced copy which I’m sure have been addressed before today’s publication date. Overall, a good book.

 

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