A SWEET MESS by Jayci Lee – Release Day Review and Giveaway

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A SWEET MESS

by

Jayci Lee

 

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A Sweet Mess_coverKorean-American author Jayci Lee delights with A Sweet Mess, a delicious and light-hearted romantic comedy that readers will devour and ask for more.

Aubrey Choi loves living in her small town nestled in the foothills of California, running her highly successful bakery away from the watch of her strict Korean parents. When a cake mix-up and a harsh review threaten all of her hard work and her livelihood, she never thought the jaded food critic would turn out to be her one-night stand. And she sure as hell never thought she’d see the gorgeous Korean hunk again. But when Landon Kim waltzes into her bakery trying to clean up the mess he had a huge hand in making, Aubrey is torn between throwing and hearing him out.

When she hears his plan to help save her business, Aubrey knows that spending three weeks in California wine country working with Landon is a sure recipe for disaster. Her head is telling her to take the chance to save her bakery while her heart—and her hormones—are at war on whether to give him a second chance. And it just so happens that Landon’s meddling friends want them to spend those three weeks as close as possible…by sharing a villa.

When things start heating up, both in and out of the kitchen, Aubrey will have to make a choice—to stick it out or risk her heart.

Buy this book: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250621108

 

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Asian-American main characters, lots of hunger-inducing food descriptions, and classic romance tropes. How can I turn that down? That’s essentially what I write too.

I like the choice of having the Korean leads be beautiful people in successful occupations–an influential food critic in Landon and a talented baker in Aubrey. I like that this story is light, focusing on the travails of a romantic relationship instead of societal struggles that minorities face in the US. We have too many of those stories and not enough of this kind. The angst comes from the yearning, the risking of professional reputation versus personal desires.

While there’s instalust, the sex scenes are sweet and not explicit. The food scenes are sumptuous, so don’t read this hungry. Friendships are tight and mothers are honored. Overall, Ms. Lee’s storytelling is enjoyable. She handled one of my most disliked tropes quite well and the push-and-pull was just enough to cause tension but not too much to make me give up on the couple.

As the title suggests, this book is both sweet and a little bit of a mess. In the early copy I read, there were several times when the transitions between Aubrey’s and Landon’s points of view weren’t smooth and the time jumps weren’t clear. Also, the dual daddy issues were too much and the cover, while cute, didn’t reflect the ethnicity of the lead characters. These are minor issues and don’t stop me from recommending A Sweet Mess to Romance readers who are looking for books that reflect the diversity of the society we live in today.

Three-half-stars

 

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Jayci Lee_Photo Credit Nichanh Nicole PhotographyJAYCI LEE writes poignant, sexy, and laugh-out-loud romance every free second she can scavenge and is semi-retired from her fifteen-year career as a defense litigator. She loves food, wine, and travelling, and incidentally so do her characters. Jayci lives in sunny California with her tall-dark-and-handsome husband, two amazing boys with boundless energy, and a fluffy rescue whose cuteness is a major distraction. She is the author of A Sweet Mess.

Website: https://jaycilee.com/
Twitter: @authorjaycilee
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjaycilee

 

 

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Macmillan is giving one of my followers a digital copy of Jayci Lee’s A Sweet Mess. All you have to do to enter is Follow @carpediemchronicles on Instagram and Like my bookstagram of the book. Comment there or return here to let me know you’ve entered. I will draw the winner on Tuesday, July 21 at 12 noon Central time.

 

SNIPPET SUNDAY: Know

SF in bed todays

SINGAPORE FLING
Carpe Diem Chronicles 2
Chapter Twenty-Two

Carpe diem,” he read out loud. His fingers traced the outer edges of each word, scratching at the leftover adhesive. He stretched out beside her, his hand continuing to caress, to build the fire. “When did you get it done? And why?”

Maddie shivered in delight. His touch provided both relief from the itch and the slow-burning heat. “Last Sunday, after my first time at paddling, I decided to get a tattoo. For me, this describes my attitude towards the future after I returned to you.” She turned to face him. “I don’t know if tomorrow will come, and if it does, what will happen. I only know I want to spend my todays with you from now on.”

Aidan scooted closer, placed an arm around her, and kissed her lightly. “I want that too. I want to be beside you in the present and in the future. I love you, Maddie-mine.”

Maddie kissed him right back. “And, I love you, Aidan-mine.”

 

Singapore Fling is Book 2 of Carpe Diem Chronicles, a series of multicultural contemporary romance novels. The stories celebrate the rich cultures of exotic Southeast Asian islands through languages, food, and festivals.

It’s now available from your favorite etailers in eBook and paperback.

Check out other blogs participating in Snippet Sunday on Facebook.

SNIPPET SUNDAY: Today

SF bed No guarantees

SINGAPORE FLING
Carpe Diem Chronicles 2
Chapter Fourteen

She loved Krista and Blake. She was happy for them. But seeing them together reminded her of what she wanted but didn’t have. Yet.

Maybe Krista and Blake had it right, carpe diem-ing their decisions in life. There were no guarantees for their future. Today was the only day that mattered.

If she told Aidan she loved him, what was the worst thing that could happen? That he didn’t love her back. But, what if he did?

Aargh! She was going to give herself a headache with these thoughts, and that would make sleep difficult. She did need to be early at work in the morning, as she was leading a pitch. If tomorrow came, she’d seize the day. For now, it was time to hit her lonely bed.

 

Singapore Fling is Book 2 of Carpe Diem Chronicles, a series of multicultural contemporary romance novels. The stories celebrate the rich cultures of exotic Southeast Asian islands through languages, food, and festivals.

It’s now available from your favorite etailers in eBook and paperback.

Check out other blogs participating in Snippet Sunday on Facebook.

SNIPPET SUNDAY: Hope

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SINGAPORE FLING
Carpe Diem Chronicles 2
Chapter Nineteen

Dear Maddie,

I’m sorry. For stealing the privilege of using the name only your friends call you. You may no longer consider me your friend, but I will always think of you as mine.

I’m sorry for letting my job take precedence over you. It was never my intention to hurt you, yet my choices took away yours. I will give up my career if it means having you by my side and in my arms again.

I’m sorry for my selfishness in holding on to your things. As long as they remain with me, I have hope that you’ll return.

I’m sorry my words are inadequate to express my regret for hurting you. I will wait until you grant me the opportunity to say it in person and seek your forgiveness and love.

Always yours,

Aidan

 

Singapore Fling is Book 2 of Carpe Diem Chronicles, a series of multicultural contemporary romance novels. The stories celebrate the rich cultures of exotic Southeast Asian islands through languages, food, and festivals.

It’s now available from your favorite etailers in eBook and paperback.

Check out other blogs participating in Snippet Sunday on Facebook.

SNIPPET SUNDAY: Crave

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SINGAPORE FLING
Carpe Diem Chronicles 2
Chapter Twelve

The moment the heady scent of vanilla infused the air, she knew what he was going to do. Just like that, all tension left her.

“I bought this from your perfumer,” he said as he spread the fragrant oil on her shoulders and all over her back. “It promises to soothe tired and sore muscles, promote rest and relaxation, and nourish your skin.”

It was working. The soothing and relaxation part, at least. Maddie sank deeper on the bed as Aidan alternated the pressure and pace of his ministrations, digging hard and slow at the base of her neck and shoulder blades, while sweeping fast along the fleshy parts of her back and thighs.

He delivered on his promise to take care of her, sliding off the bed to better reach her entire body.

There was pain—was there ever. The tear-inducing force of the heel of his hand on her left calf, the jolt caused by his thumb on her right instep that had her gasping for breath, she’d expected all of that. It was part of the therapy.

She also anticipated the healing and the pleasure. Especially the pleasure. There was relief when he scratched the marks her tight bra had left on her flesh. Tingles fluttered on her skin from the glide of his palms on the sides of her breasts.

”’

Aidan’s voice was rough as he tipped the vial over his palm, catching the drops as they fell. “Did you know when you chose vanilla to be your signature scent that it’s a powerful aphrodisiac?” He rubbed his hands together, warming the oil.

“Yes,” she gasped as he brought his hands down to her chest, smoothing the oil in circular motions.

“That’s why I can’t keep my hands off you. The reason I can’t get enough of your scent,” he said, bending down, inhaling deeply. “Why I enjoy the feel of your skin, why I crave your special taste.”

 

Singapore Fling is Book 2 of Carpe Diem Chronicles, a series of multicultural contemporary romance novels. The stories celebrate the rich cultures of exotic Southeast Asian islands through languages, food, and festivals.

It’s now available from your favorite etailers in eBook and paperback.

Check out other blogs participating in Snippet Sunday on Facebook.

SNIPPET SUNDAY: Please

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SINGAPORE FLING
Carpe Diem Chronicles 2
Chapter Sixteen

… tonight was for giving, not taking. Tonight was for Maddie, not him.

He lowered her to her feet beside their bed and took the towel from her.

“I can dry myself,” she protested but released the fabric at his tug.

“I know you can. I want to do it for you. Will you let me?” When she sent him a questioning look, he said, “Please?”

Please forgive me for keeping secrets from you.

Please remember tonight.

Please know how much I love you.

Her nod of assent felt like an absolution that he didn’t deserve, but that he wanted more than anything else.

Soft pats burst the bubbles that still clung to her silky skin. Gentle swipes dried most of the moisture from her body.

He’d get her wet again, Aidan promised himself as he laid them both down on the bed.

He’d get her hot. It wouldn’t take much. It never had.

One kiss. All they needed to set fire to their passion for each other.

As if she’d read his mind, Maddie reached up to twine her arms around his shoulders and pulled him to her. “Kiss me, Aidan,” she murmured against his lips.

 

Singapore Fling is Book 2 of Carpe Diem Chronicles, a series of multicultural contemporary romance novels. The stories celebrate the rich cultures of exotic Southeast Asian islands through languages, food, and festivals.

It’s now available from your favorite etailers in eBook and paperback.

Check out other blogs participating in Snippet Sunday on Facebook.

SNIPPET SUNDAY: Coffee

coffee 3

SINGAPORE FLING
Carpe Diem Chronicles 2
Chapter Three

Maddie started at the sound of his amused voice. She turned in her seat to stare while Aidan made his way to her side. He’d changed into a moisture-wicking top and track pants, both black, better suited for walking than the cotton he wore earlier. Again, he looked like the spy Rini had thought he was.

And now, she was wide awake once more. This morning, she’d likened Aidan to dark chocolate.

Wrong.

He was coffee. Black, no sugar, the way she preferred it: strong, hot, addictive.

Maddie let out a sigh filled with regret. She should have jumped him when she’d arrived. In white t-shirt and gray sweatpants, jaw shadowed by a day’s growth of stubble, he had looked totally jumpable.

 

Singapore Fling is Book 2 of Carpe Diem Chronicles, a series of multicultural contemporary romance novels. The stories celebrate the rich cultures of exotic Southeast Asian islands through languages, food, and festivals.

It’s now available from your favorite etailers in eBook and paperback.

Check out other blogs participating in Snippet Sunday on Facebook.

SNIPPET SUNDAY: Bathtub

bathtub scene

SINGAPORE FLING
Carpe Diem Chronicles 2
Chapter Sixteen

A baby. An image of a black-haired, brown-eyed little girl flashed in his mind. She’d have her mother’s beauty and his height. Their child. His and Maddie’s. Without thinking, he dragged the sponge to Maddie’s flat stomach. “Do you want to have children?”

She stilled in his arms for a second before resting her head on his shoulder. “Yes. At least one.” She exhaled a soft whish of breath against his neck. “But not yet. Before I turn thirty-five for sure,” she said in a perkier voice, but he still heard the wistfulness she tried to hide.

Aidan, who’d never planned anything long term, was all of a sudden dreaming of babies with the woman in his arms. If this wasn’t love, he didn’t know what else it could be.

 

Singapore Fling is Book 2 of Carpe Diem Chronicles, a series of multicultural contemporary romance novels. The stories celebrate the rich cultures of exotic Southeast Asian islands through languages, food, and festivals.

It’s now available from your favorite etailers in eBook and paperback.

Check out other blogs participating in Snippet Sunday on Facebook.

ONCE UPON A SUNSET by Tif Marcelo – Release Day Review and Giveaway

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ONCE UPON A SUNSET

by

Tif Marcelo

SYNOPSIS

OUASbookcoverDiana Gallagher-Cary is at a tipping point. As a Washington, DC, OB/GYN at a prestigious hospital, she uses her career to distract herself from her grief over her granny’s death and her breakup from her long-term boyfriend after her free-spirited mother moves in with her. But when she makes a medical decision that disparages the hospital, she is forced to go on a short sabbatical.

Never one to wallow, Diana decides to use the break to put order in her life, when her mother, Margo, stumbles upon a box of letters from her grandfather, Antonio Cruz, to her grandmother from the 1940s. The two women always believed that Antonio died in World War II, but the letters reveal otherwise. When they learn that he lived through the war, and that they have surviving relatives in the Philippines, Diana becomes determined to connect with the family that she never knew existed, though Margo refuses to face her history. But Diana pushes on, and heads on a once-in-a-lifetime trip that challenges her identity, family history, and her idea of romantic love that could change her life forever.

Buy links: 

Tif’s Website
Indiebound
Amazon
B&N
Kobo
Simon & Schuster

 

REVIEW

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This richly-layered and immensely touching tale of family, friendships, and love is another winner from Tif Marcelo. I’m honored to have been given the opportunity to read both an early draft and an advanced copy of the final version. Both solidified my respect and admiration for the author of such engaging reads as Once Upon a Sunset.

At the forefront is the complicated relationship between super-analytical Diana and her social media-savvy mother Margo. Both are still reeling from the death of Leora, the third female lead of the book whose secrets affected her descendants’ present and future in ways neither of them imagined. Their separate quests to find answers to  individual questions about identity and purpose eventually brought them closer to each other which is as satisfying an ending as any happily-ever-afters out there. That both also found romantic love in the process makes this an all-around enjoyable read.

Set in both the US and the Philippines, Once Upon a Sunset presents aspects of Filipino-American culture that only someone who belongs could articulate. There’s plenty of delicious food, a smattering of Filipino language, and a bit of intricate family setup. And then, there’s the matter-of-fact acknowledgment of the Filipino migrants’ contributions to many US historical causes, particularly to their service during World War II through the character of Antonio Cruz.  That’s something that is seldom celebrated in publishing to the point that it adds to the sense of erasure that the minority group to which both Tif and I belong to experiences. For this solid piece of representation, I give this book top marks.

PS: I read this novel in both eBook and paperback and I have to state my preference for and recommendation of the paper version. The formatting of the letters and text messages added an extra-special dimension that enhanced my enjoyment of the story.

5 stars

ABOUT TIF 

Tif Marcelo

Tif Marcelo is a veteran army nurse and holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of 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 is also the author of The Key to Happily Ever After and the Journey to the Heart series.

Follow her here:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

 

 

GIVEAWAY

Gallery Books is generously sponsoring a paperback giveaway of Once Upon a Sunset to one of my followers. All you have to do to enter is follow Tif Marcelo on BookBub and tell me in the comments that you’ve done so. Bonus entry if you also follow me. I’ll draw the winner on Tuesday, March 10 at 12 noon Central Time.

 

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.

THE KEY TO HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Tif Marcelo – Happy Release Day

cherry blossoms tkthea

THE KEY TO HAPPILY EVER AFTER

by

Tif Marcelo

KeytoHappilyEverAfter (1)

All’s fair in love and business.

The de la Rosa family and their wedding planning business have been creating happily ever afters in the Washington, DC area for years, making even the most difficult bride’s day a fairytale. But when their parents announce their retirement, the sisters—Marisol, Janelyn, and Pearl—are determined to take over the business themselves.

But the sisters quickly discover that the wedding business isn’t all rings and roses. There are brides whose moods can change at the drop of a hat; grooms who want to control every part of the process; and couples who argue until their big day. As emotions run high, the de la Rosa sisters quickly realize one thing: even when disaster strikes—whether it’s a wardrobe malfunction or a snowmageddon in the middle of a spring wedding—they’ll always have each other.

Perfect for fans of the witty and engaging novels of Amy E. Reichert and Susan Mallery, The Key to Happily Ever After is a fresh romantic comedy that celebrates the crucial and profound power of sisterhood.

Buy here: 

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/2HitZik
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2LH1Dni
B&N: http://bit.ly/Key2HEABN
ibooks: https://apple.co/2wYD7En
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2WEIh3f 

 

REVIEW

tkthea flowersI hardly ever see myself represented in romantic fiction (which is why I write them myself), so I can’t help but gush whenever I read one that has someone like me as a main character.

Vanity, thy name is Maida, for when I read The Key to Happily Ever After–the latest work by Tif Marcelo–I feel like she based her heroines on me. I’m Filipino-American, a (former) wedding planner, and I lived in Alexandria. Like Marisol de la Rosa, I’m the eldest, the one who is expected to be responsible, to take care of her younger siblings, and someone who is a tad dictatorial. I’m also Jane, the middle sister, who is good with numbers and has a sweet little boy. Like Pearl, I’m resourceful, creative, I (used to) do yoga, and a little impulsive at times.

Even if I wasn’t Tif’s inspiration for her characters, I can still lay claim to these wonderful women like I never can for all the other female main characters in the hundreds of books I read and review every year. That’s what makes this book and this author special to me.

Not to say that only Filipinas can relate to these beautiful, complicated women. For surely, everyone who has ever had siblings, especially sisters, can put themselves in the shoes of the protagonists in this book. These are women who want to break free from long-held stereotypes regarding birth order, who struggle for individuality even as they remain loyal to the family, who retain unresolved issues from the past that color, if not outright dictate, their present attitudes and actions. They attempt to balance work and love amidst family drama and mostly succeed. Hey, it’s romantic fiction, after all.

Light but not fluffy, deep but not angsty, The Key to Happily Ever After is well-written, well-told, well done. I highly recommend this book to readers who value excellent storytelling  and who are open to reading books that accurately reflect the diverse world we live in today.

 

ABOUT TIF MARCELO

Tif Marcelo

Tif believes in and writes about heart-eyes romance, the strength of families, and the endurance of friendship. A veteran Army Nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Public Administration, she is a craft enthusiast and food-lover. As a military spouse, she has moved nine times, and this adventure shows in some of her free-spirited characters. Tif currently lives in the DC area with her own real life military hero and four children.

Follow her here:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook