THE SCOUNDREL’S NEW CON By Catherine Stein – Excerpt And Review

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Happy Release Day to Catherine Stein’s The Scoundrel’s New Con, a retelling of The Emperor’s New Clothes, part of the Lady Goosebury’s Tales series from various authors.

 

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He’s pulling the con of a lifetime. Unless she exposes the naked truth.

Conman Jack Weaver has his eyes on the prize. The arrogant Earl of Bardrick has offered five thousand pounds to anyone who can prove his castle is haunted. With money like that, Jack can ensure he’ll never end up on the streets or in prison again. And his spirit photography skills are just the trick needed to convince all of the earl’s houseguests to believe in something unseen.

Investigative journalist Tess Cochran believes in one thing: the truth. She’s not going to let phony ghosts and trick photographs swindle anyone, even a snobbish aristocrat like Bardrick. And she’s certainly not going to let herself be swayed by Jack Weaver’s charming smile and mischievous antics.

When Jack and Tess stumble upon one of the castle’s many secrets, they realize something nefarious lurks behind the earl’s competition. To solve the mystery, these rivals forge a reluctant partnership. As they strip down the facts, Jack and Tess begin to find that the deepest truths may be concealed in their hearts.

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EXCERPT

Weaver slid into the empty seat beside Tess as silently as the ghosts he supposedly photographed. Goosebumps rose on her flesh. The air seemed to hum with energy. And none of it had anything to do with the spiritualist at the front of the room. No, this was far too corporeal.

You did this to yourself, Tess.

A few single empty places remained in the rows closer to the performance. She could have taken any of them, and given herself a better view. Instead, she’d chosen the empty back row. It gave her the chance to slip away at any time, she’d told herself.

“Good evening, Tess,” he murmured. On his lips, her name sounded sensual. Illicitly enticing.

“Not photographing any longer?” she whispered.

“It’s past sunset. All the candles in this castle would give me nothing more than a blur on the plate.”

She looked at him just long enough to give him a sweet smile. “And here I thought that’s exactly what you wanted.”

“On the contrary.” He edged closer, until no more than an inch separated his body from hers. “I prefer a crisp, sharp photograph. One that exposes every detail.”

Thank the Lord the entire room was fixated on Rowland and his little pile of burning papers, or they might have noticed Tess combusting in the back row. Her simple dress felt stifling, and she wanted to tear it from her body to cool her heated skin. The thought of Jack Weaver seeing that skin only made her warmer.

Tess bit her lip. Enough was enough. She was tired of him having control of the situation. She was going to show him she could match him jab for jab.

“Oh, I would love to expose you, Jack.” Her whispered words were far too breathy, but she pressed on. “I intend to strip you bare for all the world to see.”

“My room, midnight.”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Stein

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

Catherine lives in Michigan with her husband and three rambunctious girls. She loves steampunk and oxford commas, and can often be found dressed in clothing that was purchased at a Renaissance Festival, drinking copious amounts of tea.

Follow Catherine here: 

Facebook page        Facebook group        Twitter        Instagram        Pinterest               Bookbub        Goodreads        Amazon        Book + Main        Newsletter

 

REVIEW

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Catherine Stein continues to show tremendous growth in her craft with her latest excellent offering.

The Scoundrel’s New Con is an incredibly original work in a subgenre that is often flooded with stories centered on the nobility. Here, as in most of Catherine’s books, the main characters are “ordinary” but remarkable people in the Victorian era. Tess is a news reporter, intent on exposing the truth about spiritualists and their ilk who seek to divest the gullible of their money. Jack, a spirit photographer and con man, is one of those she plans to discredit. There’s only one problem, she’s deeply attracted to him. The better she gets to know him, the weaker her determination to strip him of his livelihood.

I love that their flirtation is frank and sensual. I appreciate the slow reveal of their respective pasts to explain their present choices. I like the proper amount of push and pull that made me anticipate the eventual happy payoff.

I enjoyed the dialogue, pacing, action, and photography competence porn. I adored the cat Phantom. And, best of all, I admire the matter-of-fact feminism that was laid out in a manner that came naturally to the characters and not at all preaching to the readers. Brava!

4 Four-half-stars

 

 

 

 

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.

 ║ Website ║ Facebook ║ Twitter  ║
║ Instagram ║  Amazon  ║ BookBub ║
║ Pinterest  ║ Goodreads ║

 

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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
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BREAKFAST AT THE HONEY CREEK CAFÉ By Jodi Thomas: Pre-Order Preview

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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

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VISIT JODITHOMAS.COM FOR ALL JODI’S BOOKS BY SERIES

Synopsis

From 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 . . .

CLICK TO PRE-ORDER NOW:

  AMAZON  BARNES & NOBLE 

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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.

 ║ Website ║ Facebook ║ Twitter  ║
║ Instagram ║  Amazon  ║ BookBub ║
║ Pinterest  ║ Goodreads ║

 

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ONCE A RAKE, ALWAYS A ROGUE by Catherine Stein – Release Day Review & Giveaway

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Happy Release Day to Catherine Stein’s Once a Rake, Always a Rogue, the third book from her Potions and Passions series.

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He’s mended his ways.

Dr. Ernest Montford has left behind his rakish youth for a respectable life mixing medicinal potions and helping patients. So when his best friend’s sister is threatened with incarceration in an asylum, he rushes to help. But Lady Astrid Wembley isn’t keen to heed Monte’s medical advice. Worse, she’s part of his wild past: the mysterious girl he could never forget.

But the woman he can’t forget…

Astrid has fond memories of her long-ago passionate encounter on the beach. Unfortunately, the Monte who kissed her so thoroughly that day shows little resemblance to the stuffy, abstemious doctor with absurd health advice. Still, she has little choice but to put up with him until her sanity is proven and she can return to her life of scientific study.

Might be his undoing.

Dangerous potions and unethical experiments await Astrid if she fails, and only with Monte’s help can she expose the true horrors of the asylum and thwart the plans of the men controlling it. But the longer Astrid and Monte are together, the more their old passion sparks, and the more she longs to unleash the rogue that still lurks inside him.

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A long silence passed between them before Lady Astrid sighed.

“Very well. I shall practice my social niceties. Lovely to see you, Dr. Montford. How are you this morning?”

Hungover and lustful.

“Very well, thank you.”

“What are those peculiar little cakes on your plate?”

Monte glanced down at the small round cakes. The cook had done a masterful job, making them perfect circles of a lovely dark-brown color. “Bran loaves. I eat them every morning. Your cook was kind enough to make a batch for me.”

“How curious. May I try one?”

“Certainly.” He sliced off a small bite and transferred it to her plate. “You would do well to eat them, yourself. They are most healthful.”

She chewed her bite slowly, and her nose wrinkled in distaste. “Ugh. It’s like eating paper.”

“The rich foods you’ve eaten of late have no doubt overstimulated your palate. I assure you, if you were to eat them every morning as I do, you would find them appetizing.”

“I doubt that.”

Monte sipped his tea. It was as strong as he’d hoped. “The bran loaves stimulate healthful digestion and do not overset the stomach. This allows both the body and mind to begin the day in a restive state. Unlike your cheese, which may well cause dyspepsia when ingested so early in the morning.”

Astrid’s brow furrowed, but her tone remained even, “I’m very fond of cheese.”

“I never eat cheese,” Monte explained. “Nor do I adulterate my tea with milk. It adds an unnecessary richness and dilutes the beneficial properties of the beverage.”

“How unpatriotic of you.”

Was she mocking him again?

“What do you eat, Dr. Montford? Other than your revolting little cakes, I mean.”

“Vegetables.”

She gave him a skeptical arch of her brow once more. “Vegetables.”

“Yes.”

There was a distinct lack of vegetables at the breakfast table this morning. Dinner had provided only a few withered specimens with most of the nutrition boiled out of them.

“Nothing else? You did eat some of the chicken last night, though you avoided the sauce.”

“Moderate portions of meat. Nuts and beans. But primarily vegetables.”

“No fruits?”

“Rarely.”

“That’s a pity. I love fruit. There’s nothing quite like biting into a perfectly ripe apple, don’t you think? It floods one’s mouth with that crisp, juicy taste. So sweet, with just the right tart bite.”

Monte swallowed a groan. Now he was fixated on her mouth again. He gulped his tea to prevent himself saying anything he would later regret.

Astrid hopped from her seat, forcing him to set down the cup and rise.

“It was interesting chatting with you in a civil manner, Dr. Montford,” she said. “I must go and prepare for our journey. Enjoy your tasteless breakfast.”

He nodded and watched her leave before resuming his seat and pouring himself another cup of tea. He wished it were a good, strong whisky.

“Cal, you bastard,” he muttered. “You haven’t just asked for a favor. You’ve asked me to do the impossible.”

 

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Catherine Stein

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

Catherine lives in Michigan with her husband and three rambunctious girls. She loves steampunk and oxford commas, and can often be found dressed in clothing that was purchased at a Renaissance Festival, drinking copious amounts of tea.

Follow Catherine here: 

Facebook page        Facebook group        Twitter        Instagram        Pinterest               Bookbub        Goodreads        Amazon        Book + Main        Newsletter

 

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Catherine Stein’s books are auto-buys for me because they never fail to entertain and educate at the same time.  Her latest release Once a Rake, Always a Rogue brings an enhanced element of humor that, in addition to fascinating characters, fast-paced action, and expected competence porn, made reading it a delightful diversion. These days, when there’s still no antidote to the global medical crisis we’re facing, a potion comprised of those elements of great writing could be just what we need to get us through days and weeks of social distancing.

From their titillating first encounter, Astrid and Monte captivated my attention. Their witty and snappy banter incited hilarity which made me thankful I read it at home. Their expertise in their respective fields provided interesting information I didn’t expect to learn from a romance novel.  Both have likable, engaging personalities that make it easy to root for their happy ever after.

All that lightness doesn’t mean there is no depth to this book. On the contrary. Once a Rake, Always a Rogue touched on issues of female empowerment,  body positivity, interracial relationships, and patriarchy in a manner that is natural and integral to the story and not at all forced or preachy.

Funny, steamy, instructive, utterly enjoyable. Another five-star read.

5 stars

 

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OUT OF THE EMBERS by Amanda Cabot: Book Blog Tour – Author Interview

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OUT OF THE EMBERS

MESQUITE SPRINGS, BOOK ONE

by

Amanda Cabot

Genre: Historical Fiction / Christian Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 3, 2020
Number of Pages: 336

Scroll down for the giveaway!

 

Synopsis

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Ten years after her parents were killed, Evelyn Radcliffe is once more homeless. The orphanage that was her refuge and later her workplace has burned to the ground, and only she and a young orphan girl have escaped. Convinced this must be related to her parents’ murders, Evelyn flees with the girl to Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country and finds refuge in the home of Wyatt Clark, a talented horse rancher whose plans don’t include a family of his own.

At first, Evelyn is a distraction. But when it becomes clear that trouble has followed her to Mesquite Springs, she becomes a full-blown disruption. Can Wyatt keep her safe from the man who wants her dead? And will his own plans become collateral damage?

Suspenseful and sweetly romantic, Out of the Embers is the first in a new series that invites you to the Texas Hill Country in the 1850s, when the West was wild, the men were noble, and the women were strong.

 

PRAISE FOR OUT OF THE EMBERS:

Out of the Embers is part prairie romance, part romantic suspense. I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a book more. Amanda Cabot has written an intriguing, chilling mystery and she winds it through the pages of a sweet romance in a way that made me keep turning the pages fast to see what was going to happen next. An absolutely excellent read. And now I’m hungry for oatmeal pecan pie!”

~ Mary Connealy, author of Aiming for Love, book #1 in the Brides of Hope Mountain series

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AboutTheAuthor

amanda cabot

 

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author 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, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming.

 

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INTERVIEW WITH AMANDA CABOT

What inspired the idea for your new book, Out of the Embers?

I’ve always been fascinated by the way that events of the past shape us, so I started brainstorming worst case scenarios. What if a young girl’s parents were murdered and she never knew why? What if she still felt as if someone was watching her and planning to kill her too, even though it’s been ten years? What if she narrowly missed being inside her new home when it was destroyed and everyone died? These were the seeds of Out of the Embers.

Out of the Embers is set in a fictional small town in the Texas Hill Country. What inspired you to create a place like Mesquite Springs?

By now, readers have probably figured out that I enjoy bringing small towns to life, particularly in the Texas Hill Country. The challenge for me is making each of my fictional towns different. After all, I wouldn’t want anyone to say “same old, same old” when reading one of my stories. What distinguishes Mesquite Springs from Ladreville and Cimarron Creek is that it’s experiencing a period of growth with new businesses and new people coming to town. Those people change the town’s dynamics—some in good ways, some in not-so-good ways—but they all make their mark on Mesquite Springs.

Two of the main characters in Out of the Embers, Evelyn and Polly, are joined together through a fire that destroys their home. But, that’s not the only thing the two have in common. Can you tell us a little more about their relationship?

Besides both being orphans, Evelyn and Polly share enough of a resemblance that when she flees after the orphanage is destroyed, Evelyn finds it easy to pretend that Polly is her younger sister. In truth, their relationship is more like mother and daughter than sisters, with Polly depending on Evelyn to make her fondest dream come true: finding her a new daddy.

Did anything surprise you as you were writing the novel?

Yes, as a matter of fact. Although I plot my books before I begin the actual writing process and rarely make major deviations from those plots, this time when I was about half through the first draft, I realized that what I had envisioned for Wyatt’s life after the book ended wasn’t the right one for him. He needed to stay in Mesquite Springs, and he needed a compelling reason to stay. The mayoral race was the result of those realizations.

Did you face any challenges in creating this story? What was the hardest scene to write?

The biggest challenge was not revealing too much about the two men who are secondary characters too soon but still giving readers enough reason to care about what was going to happen to them.

I wouldn’t say that any one scene was particularly difficult to write, but perhaps that’s because I tend to agonize over every scene, trying to make it as close to perfect as possible.

Do you see parts of yourself in any of your characters?

I’d like to claim that my characters are totally fictional, but the truth is that I, like all authors, bring parts of myself to each story. The fact that I’m the oldest of four children made Evelyn’s almost parental relationship with Polly an easy one for me to write.

What do you hope readers will gain from Out of the Embers?

As always, I hope they’ll finish the book with a smile on their faces, a renewed belief in the healing power of love, and the knowledge that God can—and does—answer prayers.

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Copy of Out of the Embers + Special Hill Country Sweets Cookbook
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3/12/20 Excerpt, Part 1 Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
3/12/20 Author Interview All the Ups and Downs
3/13/20 Character Spotlight The Clueless Gent
3/13/20 Review Reading by Moonlight
3/14/20 Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog
3/15/20 Author Interview Carpe Diem Chronicles
3/16/20 Excerpt, Part 2 That’s What She’s Reading
3/16/20 Review StoreyBook Reviews
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TAKE TWO by Karysa Faire – Happy Release Day!

Take Two

TAKE TWO

by

Karysa Faire

 

SYNOPSIS

Take Two Final Cover

Is their love real or fiction?

Rachel is a teacher and a single mom who’s picked up the pieces of her life after a horrible marriage. She’d thought her ex-husband was the man of her dreams. He wasn’t. She’s moved on and written a historical romance novel, Swashbuckler, that’s been picked up by Hollywood.

Rodger is an actor who doesn’t trust women. He’s made bad choices in his past that have come to haunt him in the present, especially the choice that came packaged with blond hair, large tits, and a marriage that was doomed from the start. Rodger thought they were in love—turns out his wife was a social-climber more interested in his status than his heart. He doubts there is a woman alive who can love him for who he is, and not for his fame or for the fantasy he presents to the world.

Both Rachel and Rodger have been burned by love, trusting a reality that turned out only to be fantasy. Will their fear succeed at keeping them apart? Or will they break through the barriers and allow themselves to love once again? After all, sometimes reality is much sweeter than fantasy.

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ABOUT KARYSA

Karysa FaireKarysa Faire is a fiction writer and high school science teacher. Her best days are when something unexpected and new happens – whether that be in the classroom or during vacations when she goes on extended road trips to haunted ghost towns. Karysa writes a variety of romance genres including contemporary, historical, erotica, horror, and paranormal. She’s also been known to write a mean lab report. Karysa lives in the San Francisco Bay Area along with millions of other people, including her wonderful family.

Website: https://www.karysafaire.com/
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MY TOP 19 READS OF 2019

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I read 190 books in 2019, seventy more than in 2018. Audiobooks made all the difference in my reading habits this year. They contributed to eighty of the books I experienced in 2019, seven of which are in my Top 19.

Here they are in the order I read them. In the interest of full disclosure, I want to inform you that some of the links in this post are affiliate links to Indie Bound store 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.

  1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman – Probably the best audio I listened to all year. I loved the all-star cast.
  2. New York to Dallas by J.D. Robb – my favorite re-read of the year. One of my Top 5 J.D. Robb books.
  3. How to Seduce a Spy by Catherine Stein – a great debut by a fantastic indie author. I featured her Eden’s Voice here.
  4. Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas – possibly my favorite of the Ravenels. Gorgeous cover as well.
  5. Death’s Dancer by Jasmine Silvera – great world-building. Now, I want to go to Prague because of this book.
  6. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han – one of the rare times when I like the second book better than the first.
  7. Unlaced by the Highland Duke by Lara Temple – Lara is a new-to-me author this year whose writing really impressed me.
  8. The Emotion Thesaurus – this book is incredibly useful for writers who want to improve their craft.
  9. The Bride Test by Helen Hoang – I rarely say I can relate to the heroine in a romance not written by a Filipina. I did with this book.
  10. Kulti by Mariana Zapata –  hilarious. I have both the eBook and audiobook editions but I prefer the latter because the narrator really brings the book to life.
  11. There Goes My Heart by Bella Andre – how can I not love a book that’s dedicated to me?
  12. Dragonfly by Leila Meacham – I seldom veer away from romance but I made an exception for this one. My full review is here.
  13. Things You Save In a Fire by Katherine Center – In a slew of books where the female main character works in a male-dominated environment, this stands out.
  14. Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan – highly evocative, I can’t believe it took me so long to read this one.
  15. The Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas – the only Young Adult book I read all year. I’ll bet when I watch the live-action movie I’ll say, “The book was better.”
  16. Singapore Fling by me – I am incredibly proud of this book. It’s probably the most #ownvoice of my works.
  17. Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh – Kaleb Krychek is my new Book Boyfriend and the Psy/Changeling is my favorite paranormal series.
  18. Paradise Valley by Robyn Carr – the entire series is amazing but this one moved me the most, so it’s my favorite so far.
  19. The One For You by Roni Loren – a highly-satisfying ending to a wonderful series. All five-star reads for me.

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2019-12-29 (1)

 

SOMETHING REAL by Allegra Johnson – Happy Release Day Review

Something Real cover photo

SOMETHING REAL

by

Allegra Johnson

SYNOPSIS

Something Real book cover

Never say never.

For Taylyn, life has been a series of disappointments and heartache. Every relationship she’s had has ended in tears … and the occasional restraining order. Swearing to never get into another relationship, Taylyn is prepared to live the single life. So why is she drawn to the hometown hero who already hurt her once?

Wishful thinking.

Declan was destined for the NFL until a dirty hit took him out of the game for good. Before leaving for college, Declan shared one amazing kiss with the girl he always wanted but could never have. Now he’s back in Silverton rebuilding his life without football, and she’s single. This time he’s going to get the girl. He just needs to convince her he’s not like all the others.

Can Taylyn allow herself to believe in love again? Can Declan prove he’s the one made to love her? Will they find a love that is Something Real?

** Something Real, Silverton Series 1, contains subject matter that may be uncomfortable for some readers. Those subjects include mental illness, suicide, alcoholism through self-medication, sexual assault, and emotional abuse. **

Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XYDP1YN/

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ABOUT ALLEGRA

Allegra

After a lifetime of sharing headspace with an ever-growing cast of characters, Allegra threw caution to the wind and wrote a story. Since that day she’s been living her crazy author life writing love stories and happy endings. Originally from Massachusetts Allegra now resides in Southern California. When Allegra is not busy at work in her writing cave she enjoys spending time with her family, connection with her readers, procrastinating, and napping. You can usually find Allegra fluttering around Romancelandia trying to stay out of trouble while figuring out this author thing, one book at a time.

Social Media Links:

Facebook: (author page) https://fb.me/stumblingauthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/allegra_johnson/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Allegra55302863
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/authorallegrajohnson/
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/allegra-johnson
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15276339.Allegra_Johnson
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/AllegraJohnson
Email: authorallegrajohnson@gmail.com

Something Real meme

REVIEW

With her first full-length novel, Allegra Johnson tells an emotional story of a woman’s journey to self-acceptance and allowing love into her life. It’s a story of found family and true friendship.

While Something Real is categorized as a romance, it’s main focus is Taylyn, the female lead character. On one hand, her rash actions and defeatist thoughts make it difficult to like her; on another hand, the very same things make it easy to sympathize with her, especially after her horrific past is revealed. My heart ached for her the entire time I was reading the book and that’s a testament of how well Allegra wrote her character. Damaged and suffering from crippling mental health issues, Taylyn comes across as a real person, one who needs love, support, and understanding. I love that in this book there are people who provide exactly what she needs — her found family consisting of MacKenzie, Ella, and Autumn.

I also love that Declan was all-in right from the start and he never wavered in his determination to be part of Taylyn’s life. I only wish he has a bigger role in Taylyn’s path to sobriety although I recognize how that would be tough considering his ownership of a bar. Ultimately, it’s Taylyn’s resolve that has to manifest for such a transformation to happen.

Because of the dark themes, this book might not be for everyone. That’s a pity because Something Real is a darn good read.

4 out of 5 stars

EDEN’S VOICE by Catherine Stein – Release Day Review

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Happy Release Day to Catherine Stein’s Eden Voice, the first book of a new series she’s calling Sass and Steam.

BLURB

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Football, mechanical dragons, industrial espionage, sexy romance. Welcome to fall in Ann Arbor.

Eden Randall has her life under control. Sure, people call her weird for having a mechanical dragon with her at all times, but she’s content. All she needs are her studies and her sports—and for the football team to have another undefeated season. What she doesn’t need are nosy men from out-of-town poking into her business.

Spending months in a tiny town shadowing the football team is the last thing Boston reporter Bruce Caldwell wants to do, but the tedious job could be his ticket to something bigger and better. When he meets a sports-mad spitfire on the sidelines, he realizes the town may hold stories far more interesting than he expected.

With dragons running loose in the laboratory and a ruthless New York industrialist threatening their budding friendship, Eden and Bruce find themselves players in a game far more dangerous than the one on the gridiron. Never ones to quit, they know the only way to emerge as The Victors is to become a team. This football season, winning might mean losing their hearts.

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Buy links: 

Books2read      Amazon      Google Play      Kobo     Barnes and Noble

 

ABOUT CATHERINE

Catherine Stein

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

Catherine lives in Michigan with her husband and three rambunctious girls. She loves steampunk and oxford commas, and can often be found dressed in clothing that was purchased at a Renaissance Festival, drinking copious amounts of tea.

Follow Catherine here: 

Facebook page        Facebook group        Twitter        Instagram        Pinterest               Bookbub        Goodreads        Amazon        Book + Main        Newsletter

 

REVIEW

In a genre often accused of being formulaic, Catherine Stein and her latest work of genius Eden’s Voice stand out as refreshingly original.

First, there’s the setting: 1904 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Most historical romance novels I read are set in England during the Regency. If they’re American-based, they’re typically in New York during the Gilded Age or in wartime Texas. I’m astounded by the depth of research Catherine must have undertaken to make the time period come alive as she did in this book.

Next, there’s the football theme. The historical sports romance category has only one entry and this is it. The author’s love for the game shines bright. Competence porn at its best.

Oh wait, there’s another unique sub-category for this book–historical STEM romance. All the biomechanics were explained in an engaging manner, I felt smart after reading those passages.

And then we have the characters. How I love Eden and Bruce. They come across as real, compelling, and sympathetic people to me and that’s not just because they both have disabilities. It’s because their thoughts, feelings, decisions, and actions appear true to who they are.

Catherine Stein has become my favorite steampunk romance author from the moment I read How to Seduce a Spy. Eden’s Voice only cemented that status in my mind with its fantastic story, smooth flow, wonderful characters (even including the villains), steamy sexy times, and amazing originality.

5 stars

A GLITTER OF GOLD by Liz Johnson – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

Gold Tour Cover

A GLITTER OF GOLD

Georgia Coast Romance #2

by

LIZ JOHNSON

Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance / Mystery
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: August 6, 2019
Number of Pages: 368

Scroll down for the giveaway!

 

Synopsis

Gold Cover

Discover a treasure worth more than all the pirate gold in the world

Anne Norris moved to Savannah, Georgia, for a fresh start. Now her pirate-tour business is flagging and paying the rent requires more than wishful thinking. When she discovers evidence of a shipwreck off the coast of Tybee Island, she knows it could be just the boon she needs to stay afloat. She takes her findings to local museum director Carter Hale for confirmation, but things do not go as planned.

Carter is fascinated with the wreck, the discovery of which could open the door to his dream job at a prestigious museum. But convincing Anne to help him fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle is no easy task. And working with Carter means that Anne will have to do the one thing she swore she’d never do again: trust a man.

 

"Both an exciting treasure hunt and penetrating exploration of overcoming mistakes Johnson's excellent novel will captivate readers." -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, STARRED REVIEW

 

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Review_preview

Gold BookstagramPacked with deep emotions and filled with important life lessons, A Glitter of Gold tells a compelling story about finding treasures of grace, forgiveness, and love after being battered by storms, both natural and man-made.

Anne’s fortuitous discovery of a precious artifact caused a chain of events that changed her life forever. Not only did it lead her to Carter, but it also gave her a reason to stay in Savannah, the place she has chosen to hide from the shame of her bad decisions in California.

With the help of a 250-year old diary, Carter’s Aunt Tessie, and an influential grand lady, Anne and Carter worked together to search for a sunken ship, the treasures of which they hoped will secure their individual goals. Despite many difficulties thrown their way, including betrayal of trust, Anne and Carter found what they were looking for and so much more. She received true freedom from her past and he had his family returned to him when he surrendered his pride to right a wrong.

I enjoyed Liz Johnson’s previous novel A Sparkle of Silver that’s why I snatched up the opportunity to review this second book in the series. A Glitter of Gold certainly exceeded my expectations. The clever device of narrating a story within a story lent the Georgia Coast Romance series a unique quality that makes it stand out against other books in the genre. Rebecca and Captain Thackery’s suspenseful tale is a real treasure with its action-packed high-seas adventure sequences. There was plenty of drama, bits of humor, historical factoids, so much wisdom, and loads of love. Five glittering gold stars.

5 stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

Liz Johnson

 

Liz Johnson is the author of more than a dozen novels, including A Sparkle of Silver, A Glitter of Gold, The Red Door Inn, Where Two Hearts Meet, and On Love’s Gentle Shore, as well as a New York Times bestselling novella and a handful of short stories. She makes her home in Phoenix, Arizona.

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————————————-
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

GRAND PRIZE: Copies of both Georgia Coast Romance Series Books + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card;
SECOND PRIZE: Copy of Glitter of Gold + $10 Starbucks Gift Card;
THIRD PRIZE: Copy of Glitter of Gold + Tote Bag
AUGUST 6-16, 2019
(U.S. Only)

Gold Giveaway

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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

8/6/19 	Scrapbook Page 		The Clueless Gent 
8/6/19 	Bonus Post 		Hall Ways Blog 
8/7/19 	Review 			That's What She's Reading 
8/8/19 	Review 			Missus Gonzo 
8/9/19 	Excerpt 		Story Schmoozing Book Reviews 
8/10/19 Excerpt 		All the Ups and Downs 
8/11/19 Review 			Chapter Break Book Blog 
8/12/19 Playlist 		StoreyBook Reviews 
8/13/19 Author Interview 	Forgotten Winds 
8/14/19 Review 			Reading by Moonlight 
8/15/19 Review 			Carpe Diem Chronicles

book blog tour provided by:

LSLL and LSBBT