THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME by Melissa Lenhardt – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

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THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME

by

MELISSA LENHARDT

Genre: Women’s Fiction / Romance
Publisher:  Graydon House (Harlequin)
Date of Publication: August 4, 2020
Number of Pages: 352

 

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Synopsis

TSOYAM book cover

True love never fades—and old secrets never die . . . 

Nora hasn’t looked back. Not since she fled Texas to start a new life. Away from her father’s volatile temper and the ever-watchful gaze of her claustrophobically conservative small town, Nora has freed herself. She can live—and love—however she wants. The only problem is that she also left behind the one woman she can’t forget. Now tragedy calls her back home to confront her past—and reconcile her future.

Sophie seems to have everything—a wonderful daughter, a successful husband, and a rewarding career. Yet underneath that perfection lies an explosive secret. She still yearns for Nora—her best friend and first love—despite all the years between them. Keeping her true self hidden hasn’t been easy, but it’s been necessary. So when Sophie finds out that Nora has returned, she hopes Nora’s stay is short. The life she has built depends on it.

But they both find that first love doesn’t fade easily. Memories come to light, passion ignites, and old feelings resurface. As the forces of family and intolerance that once tore them apart begin to reemerge, they realize some things may never change—unless they demand it.

PRAISE FOR THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME:

“Lenhardt convinces in her portrayal of the conflict between desire and control.” —Publishers Weekly

“A compelling story of second chances and being true to yourself.”
Harper Bliss, bestselling author of Seasons of Love

“At turns sweet, sexy, and always respectful of these characters and their journeys to their most authentic selves, Lenhardt’s wonderful book is highly recommended for all fiction collections.” —Booklist

 

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There was a question in one of my Facebook groups about which book I’d want to see made into a movie and I responded with a favorite title. Now, I have an additional candidate — The Secret of You and Me. The story of Nora and Sophie’s passionate second-chance journey to their happy-ever-after despite small town prejudices and past hurts lends itself highly adaptable to film. All the elements are there: fully fleshed-out characters, complicated relationships, well-described small town setting, timely subjects, and involving storytelling.

I loved how Ms. Lenhardt developed the characters of Nora and Sophie. Both are imperfect, broken people who, through the course of the story, have to learn things about themselves that they needed to address separately in order to forge a future together.

While Nora was able to live her truth elsewhere, Sophie has a more difficult time accepting her real identity within the narrow confines of her conservative town. A bigoted mother, a husband with political ambitions, and a teenage daughter she doesn’t want to lose if she came out all contribute to Sophie’s  quandary in making a choice. Similarly, Nora has her own internal conflicts to resolve with a family responsibility, a sick aunt, and a life in DC that’s hard for her to walk away from.

I also appreciate the balance of both opposing and supportive characters. For Nora’s always-complaining sister Mary there’s a mothering Emmadean. For Sophie’s heinous mother Brenda there’s her stalwart sponsor Todd.

Some serious topics are discussed in this book. Homosexuality, bisexuality, homophobia, PTSD, and alcoholism being the most prominent ones. For the most part, they’re treated with sensitivity and provide a positive representation of the LGBTQ community.

My main gripe is the overabundance of cheating. Sophie and Nora picking up where they left off eighteen years ago is an essential plot point but puts a tawdry element to their affair that can’t be erased by their true love for one another. Fidelity is an important issue (for me) in romance and the lack of it here gives me a little pause in an otherwise engaging story.

Overall, an entertaining read that highlights the message that love is universal.

4 out of 5 stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

TSOYAM Author photo

Melissa Lenhardt is a women’s fiction, mystery, and historical fiction author. Her debut mystery, Stillwater, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and Sawbones, her historical-fiction debut, was hailed as a “thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new sub-genre: the feminist Western” by Lone Star Literary Life. The New York Times called her sixth novel, Heresy, “An all-out women-driven, queer, transgender, multiracial takeover of the Old West”. The Secret of You and Me, her seventh novel and her first contemporary women’s fiction novel, was published on August 4, 2020.

 When Melissa isn’t writing, she’s thinking, “I really should be writing,” and eating Nutella or peanut butter straight out of the jar. A lifelong Texan, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband, two sons, and two Golden Retrievers.

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August 11-21, 2020
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8/17/20 Review Rainy Days with Amanda
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HER SECOND CHANCE COWBOY By Makenna Lee – Release Day Review

 

 

HerSecondChanceCowboy_500_quote

HER SECOND CHANCE COWBOY

By

Makenna Lee

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Wealthy cowboy, James MacLachlan, is content running his massive family ranch and starting an equine therapy program for special needs children. After his mother died in childbirth, and witnessing his father’s destruction at the loss of true love, James sticks to casual affairs. Marriage and children are risks he won’t take.

Reese Turner visits Cypress Creek, Texas, to complete a photo assignment for National Geographic and buy back her grandparents’ cottage. After disastrous romances, she’s sworn off men to focus on her career. Marriage and the babies she longs for can wait. When she runs into an old flame, she decides she can live out a fantasy, then leave town to pursue her dreams.

But love doesn’t play by the rules…

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20200720_032257712_iOSFilled with tropes (small-town/return to hometown/second-chance/fling), a touch of mystery, a dash of intrigue, vivid imagery, and fascinating characters, Her Second Chance Cowboy is a highly polished debut by Makenna Lee. Reese and James have such intense chemistry from page one, their decision to have a summer fling is inevitable. Of course, the real story is how they turn that temporary arrangement into a long-term commitment. Along the way, they have to deal with past hurts, lack of trust, miscommunication, incompatible dreams, and external forces that seek to separate them. Good thing, there’s also a fun treasure hunt that helps strengthen their bond.

Overall, this is a light read with some sweet steam. Being the first book of a series, Her Second Chance Cowboy suffers a little from multiple subplots and the introduction of numerous characters who could have their own stories someday. These made the book longer than it has to be and may have taken the focus away from Reese and James at various parts of the book. Aside from these, this promises to be a series worth following.

4 out of 5 stars

 

mm about the author white

MakennaLee

Makenna Lee is an award-winning romance author living in the Texas Hill Country with her real-life hero and their two children. Her oldest son has Down syndrome and taught her to appreciate the little things. He inspired her first Harlequin book A Sheriff’s Star. Her writing journey began when she mentioned all her story ideas and her husband asked why she wasn’t writing them down. The next day she bought a laptop, started her first book, and knew she’d found her passion. Makenna is often drinking coffee while writing, reading, or plotting a new story. She enjoys renaissance festivals, nature photography, studying herbal medicine, and usually listens to Celtic music while writing. Makenna writes for Harlequin and Entangled Publishing and believes everyone deserves a happy ending. Her wish is to write books that touch your heart, making you feel, think, and dream.

Contact Information: 

www.makennalee.com
https://twitter.com/MakennaLeeBooks
https://www.facebook.com/MakennaLeeAuthor
https://www.instagram.com/makennaleewriter/

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THE OUTLAW’S DAUGHTER by Margaret Brownley – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

 

THE OUTLAW’S DAUGHTER

HAYWIRE BRIDES, BOOK 3

by

MARGARET BROWNLEY

Western / Historical Fiction / Clean and Wholesome Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date of Publication: May 26, 2020
Number of Pages: 384

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Synopsis

TOD book coverHe may be a Texas Ranger, but he only has eyes for the outlaw’s beautiful daughter . . . 

Texas Ranger Matt Taggert is on the trail of a wanted man. He has good reason to believe that Ellie-May’s late husband was involved in a stagecoach robbery, and he’s here to see justice done. But when he arrives in town, he discovers the thief has become a local hero . . . and his beautiful young widow isn’t too happy to see some lawman out to tarnish her family’s newly spotless reputation.

Ellie-May’s shaken by her encounter with the ranger. Having grown up an outlaw’s daughter, she’ll do anything to keep her children safe—and if that means hardening her heart against the handsome lawman’s smiles, then so be it. Because she knows Matt isn’t about to give up his search. He’s out to redeem himself and find proof that Ellie-May’s husband wasn’t the saint everyone claims . . . even if it means losing the love neither expected to discover along the way.

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Whenever I read a book by Margaret Brownley, it’s always exactly what I needed at the time. Cowboy Charm School provided a humorous break from the controversies in the fall of 2018. In 2020, when there is widespread distrust against those who work in law enforcement, The Outlaw’s Daughter allows the readers to visit a time when people in the profession were like Texas Ranger Matt Taggert — honest, honorable, determined to fulfill his sworn duty while caring deeply for the innocent family members whose lives will be affected adversely by the justice he seeks.

From the first chapter, the stakes were set high for Matt and Ellie-May. Matt was investigating her husband for a possible connection to a crime. Ellie-May was resolute in trying to keep her children’s father’s reputation sterling. She didn’t want them to suffer as she did from society’s ill-treatment because of who her father was.

The two main characters were at cross purposes for most of the book, I wasn’t sure how the author would bring about their happily ever after. Of course she did and it was a satisfactory resolution as far as I’m concerned. Such is Ms. Brownley’s writing prowess that my belief regarding Neal’s innocence closely matched Ellie-May’s in that there was a point that it wavered slightly.

There’s a lot to love in this book. The characters, including secondary ones like Lionel and Alicia, Anvil, and Jesse James, are sympathetic, the storytelling is topnotch, the romance is sweet and natural. If not for some repetitive elements that lengthened the story unnecessarily, a bit of an ineffectual villain, and parroting of oppressive gender roles  Ellie-May had to adhere to, I’d have given this the full marks.

Content advisory: six-year old child in peril and handled firearm, alcoholism, child neglect

4 out of 5 stars

AboutTheAuthor

Margaret Brownley

New York Times bestselling author Margaret Brownley has penned more than forty-six novels and novellas.

A two-time Romance Writers of American RITA® finalist, Margaret has also written for a TV soap and is a recipient of the Romantic Times Pioneer Award. Not bad for someone who flunked eighth-grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.

 

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5/30/20 Review Book Fidelity
5/31/20 Review Bibliotica
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THE FIRST EMMA By Camille Di Maio – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

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THE FIRST EMMA

by

Camille Di Maio

Historical Fiction / Historical Romance / Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
Date of Publication: May 5, 2020
Number of Pages: 315

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Synopsis

TFE book cover

The First Emma is the true story of Emma Koehler, whose tycoon husband, Otto, was killed in a crime-of-the-century murder by one of his two mistresses—both also named Emma—and her unlikely rise as CEO of a brewing empire during Prohibition. When a chance to tell her story to a young teetotaler arises, a tale unfolds of love, war, beer, and the power of women.

PRAISE for The First Emma: 
“Di Maio’s take on a shocking American drama pleasantly blends romantic and historical fiction . . . a sweet memorialization of a real-life female business pioneer in San Antonio.” —Kirkus

“A beautifully crafted portrait of an intriguing woman. Mystery and romance are set against the backdrop of fascinating pieces of twentieth-century history, and a richly drawn setting leaves the reader feeling wholly immersed. Historical fiction fans will love this one!” —Chanel CleetonNYT bestselling author of Next Year in Havana

“Di Maio does a brilliant job of weaving together all the threads—from past to present—while unearthing a tale of blossoming love, the power of our chosen family, and the losses that make us whole again.” —Rochelle B. WeinsteinUSA Today bestselling author of This Is Not How It Ends

 

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Review_preview

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Born out of Camille Di Maio’s creative imagination and impeccable research, The First Emma is a wonderful tribute to a remarkable woman whose historic contributions to San Antonio have not been much touted as she deserved. Seamlessly intertwining fact and fiction, dual timelines, details of the brewery business, and the intricacies of the lives of two women, Ms. Di Maio has created a novel that engages the emotions and captivates the intellect at the same time.

In this book, close-to-dying Emma Koehler narrates her life story to young Mabel Hartley, spanning from her and her husband’s beginnings in St. Louis through their move to Texas and until the end of the Prohibition. All the while, the titular Emma provides a new home for the lonely young woman, matchmakes her with Erik, a nephew, and inspires her in her future. As Mabel said in the book, “Mrs. Koehler’s story was interesting, yes. But more than that, it offered hope to girls who were beginning to see a world where opportunities were available to them that were never there before.”

Having lived in San Antonio, I delighted in being transported to its past. I’ve only seen Pearl as it is now, a tourist destination filled with chic shops and fancy restaurants. This book took me on a fascinating “tour” of how it was eighty years ago through detailed descriptions of the brewery, the theater, cars, and the war. I can only say the “trip” was awesome.

So many themes in this book resonated with me–female strength, found family, hope, and love. I highlighted several passages that spoke to me.

“… there is much in life that is out of our control. The answer is not to give up and crumble. The answer is to find a way around it, no matter the difficulty. No matter how impossible the obstacles.”

I related so much to this because I met cousins in San Antonio I didn’t know I have. “… what I can give them is the gift of each other. It’s not easy to come from a different country and make a life here. But if they have each other to lean on, they will have a far better foundation than most.”

Well-crafted and evocative, The First Emma is a novel I highly recommend for readers of historical fiction and historical romance, and maybe even those who like true crime.

Content advisory: On-page deaths, gun violence, alcoholism, war.

4 Four-half-stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

Camille Di MaioCamille Di Maio always dreamed of being a writer, though she took a winding path of waitressing, temping, politicking, and real estate to get there. It all came to fruition with the publication of her bestselling debut, The Memory of Us, followed by Before the Rain FallsThe Way of Beauty, and The Beautiful Strangers. In addition to writing, she loves farmers’ markets, unashamedly belts out Broadway tunes when the mood strikes, and regularly faces her fear of flying to indulge her passion for travel. Married for twenty-three years, she home-schools their four children. (Though the first two are off at college now!) She is happy to live in Virginia near a beach.

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

OOTE graphic

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

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Synopsis

OOTE cover photo

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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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
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THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE’S SECRET by Linda Broday – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

MOBS blog tour cover

THE MAIL ORDER
BRIDE’S SECRET
Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride,
Book Three

by

LINDA BRODAY

Genre: Historical Western Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Number of Pages: 352 pages

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Synopsis

MOBS book cover

When the West was wild and man’s law favored the few, these extraordinary women could be found…in the heart of an outlaw.

When three young children show up on outlaw Tait Trinity’s doorstep, he knows he can’t help them―a wanted man has no business raising kids. And yet he can’t bring himself to turn them away. At a loss, he sends for the mail order bride he’d been writing to, hoping the demure dressmaker will be the answer to his prayers.

Melanie Dunbar is nothing like the bride Tait was expecting. She’s rough and tumble … and hiding an ulterior motive. Dangerous men have taken her sister hostage, and if Melanie wants to see her alive, she’ll have to betray her new husband. There’s only one problem―the more time she spends with Tait, the more she comes to care for him. Yet as the noose begins to tighten, Melanie will have to make a terrible choice: save her sister … or the man she loves.

 

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MOBS bookstagramHeart-pounding action from the deadly beginning to the daring rescue in the end. With her justice-seeking outlaw hero Tait and brave mail-order bride heroine Melanie, Ms. Broday once again gave readers an exhilarating tale of romance, family (both blood and found), and community amidst the lawless landscape of the Old West.

“I want someone to share my life with–the sunshine, the storms, and the days when everything seems just about perfect.”

What began as an unwilling deception on Mellie’s part and helpless desperation on Tait’s developed into heated desire and a love so strong they’re both willing to lay down their lives for the other. I really liked the slow build-up of the relationship between these two main characters. There was an instant attraction but they didn’t act on it until they were already wed. I appreciate the choice to have Mellie confess her deception mid-way into the story. Had her false act gone on too long without Tait knowing would have disappointed me and made me enjoy the story less. Even more so if he found out before she told him. That speaks so well about Ms. Broday’s expertise in crafting an engaging tale.

“I’ve found out that love is like the flow of a river–constant, something that fills up all the aching, empty places.”

I think this book is well-balanced in that the heavy elements are lightened by funny bits especially from the antics of the twins Joe and Jesse and their adorable sister Becky. What a scene-stealer! I also liked seeing characters from previous books featured to move Tait and Mellie’s story along without overpowering them. I suspect (and hope) that a couple of the secondary characters will have their full-length stories made and I am looking forward to reading them.

While I enjoyed the majority of the book, there were a few things that had me knocking down some points in my overall rating. I had to suspend disbelief with the speed of the telegram system they have in place, the convenient coincidences, and the ease in which the rescue was accomplished. Also, the villains needed more dimension in their characterization.

Content advisory: There’s plenty of gun violence in this book. This is a historical western novel and new readers should be aware of the numerous on-page shooting and taking of life scenes.

4 out of 5 stars

 

MOBS meme

PRAISE FOR THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE’S SECRET:

“This is another page-turning period romance from Broday.” Publisher’s Weekly

“Broday does a fabulous job of telling a story filled with humor, angst and some candid truths just so we don’t romanticize this period in our history.” Fresh Fiction

“This book was absolutely mesmerizing with nonstop action, full of laughter, tears and just a downright good Old fashioned Wild West story as only Linda Broday can do.” Glenda (Goodreads reviewer)

 

AboutTheAuthor

tomob linda brodayI’m a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty historical western romance novels and short stories. I reside in the Texas Panhandle on land the American Indian and Comancheros once roamed, and at times if the breeze is just right, I can hear their voices whispering in the wind. Texas’ rich history is one reason I set all my stories here where cowboys are still caretakers of the land. I’m inspired every day by their immense dedication and love for the wide-open spaces.

When I’m not writing, I collect old coins and I’ve also been accused (quite unfairly I might add) of making a nuisance of myself at museums, libraries, and historical places. I’m also a movie buff and love sitting in a dark theater, watching the magic unfold on the screen. As long as I’m confessing…chocolate is my best friend. It just soothes my soul.

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1/30/20		Review 			Carpe Diem Chronicles
1/31/20 	Review 			Chapter Break Book Blog
2/1/20 		Character Interview 	It's Not All Gravy
2/2/20	 	Top Ten List		Storeybook Reviews
2/3/20 		Review	 		Books & Broomsticks
2/4/20 		Series Spotlight	Jennifer Silverwood
2/5/20 		Review		 	Missus Gonzo
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COMFORT SONGS by Kimberly Fish – Book Blog Tour Reviewapalooza: Review and Giveaway

Comfort Songs Tour Cover

COMFORT SONGS

a companion novel to Comfort Plans
by

KIMBERLY FISH

Genre: Contemporary Romance / Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Fish Tales, LLC
Date of Publication: September 19, 2019
Number of Pages: 348

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Synopsis

Comfort Songs book cover

Award-winning author of Comfort Plans, Kimberly Fish, delivers a novel about family, forgiveness, and the seeds of second chances.

Eight years ago, Autumn Joy Worthington, still reeling from the bitter divorce of her Grammy-Award-winning parents, endured the betrayal of a man who’d promised her a wedding. Running from pain seemed the logical response. Reinventing herself in Comfort, Texas, as a lavender grower, she creates a wildly successful gardening haven that draws in tourists and establishes an identity far removed from her parents’ fame. Her mother’s retirement from stardom inspires AJ to offer her refuge and nurse the dream that they could move past old hurts and the tarnish of the music industry … to find friendship. A grandmother in the early stages of dementia and the return of AJ’s father complicate the recovery, but nothing sets the fragile reality spinning like the arrival of Nashville music executive, Luke English.

As Alzheimer’s slowly knocks away the filters of their family, AJ comes to appreciate the true meanings of love and forgiveness — and that the power of redemption can generate from the most unlikely sources. When AJ uncovers the grit to make hard choices, she also discovers that the flowers that bloom the brightest can have the most tangled roots.

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With its familiar setting of Texas Hill Country and its compelling storyline that deals with the burgeoning of romance amidst the complications of family drama, Comfort Songs grabbed my attention and didn’t let go until I reached the incredibly satisfying end. Four hours later, I find myself sighing happily, having been thoroughly entertained by Ms. Fish’s fantastic prose. Not a bad way to spend four hours of a cold, wet autumn evening.

One of the things I love about Comfort Songs is its highly-developed sense of place. I’m certain that even those who are unfamiliar with the area described in the book would feel as if they’ve been transported to its location. The sights, sounds, smells, and feel of Comfort, Texas came alive through Ms. Fish’s vivid descriptions. It’s no hardship to imagine myself in the midst of AJ’s warm and fragrant lavender fields right now.

Speaking of AJ, I admire her character in the book. Responsible, nurturing, and mature, she bears the heavy burdens of managing her business, taking care of her slowly-deteriorating grandmother, and putting up with her warring parents remarkably well. All of these at the same time she is starting to trust again and allowing Luke into her heart.

There are so many scenes in this novel that moved me to laughter and tears, particularly when AJ finally received the love and attention she deserves from her parents. There are also many quotes that resonated with me, like this one:

“One had to remove the rocks and the weeds before they could till the soil …”

I appreciate those snippets from “Lessons from Lavender Hill” very much. I only wish they’re more consistent in that every chapter should have an epigraph of them. Other than that, I can’t find much to complain about in this book.

4 Four-half-stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

Kimberly Fish

Kimberly Fish is a professional writer with almost thirty years of media experience. She’s been telling stories far longer. She published her first novel, a WWII historical fiction novel, because of a true story in her adopted hometown that was too good to ignore. She quickly followed that success with a sequel. Since then, she’s continued writing fiction and added a contemporary second-chance romance series set in Comfort, Texas, to her list of fun, fast-paced novels. Kimberly lives with her family in East Texas.

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PARANORMAL TEXAS by Tui Snider – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

Paranormal Texas tour cover

PARANORMAL TEXAS

Your Travel Guide
to Haunted Places
Near Dallas & Fort Worth
2ND EDITION

by

TUI SNIDER

Genre: Travel / Haunted Places / Texas History
Publisher: Castle Azle Press
Date of Publication: September 19, 2019
Number of Pages: 210 with 100+ black & white images

 

Scroll down for Giveaway!

 

Synopsis

Paranormal Texas cover

More Haunted Places and True Ghost Stories!
Tui Snider’s popular travel guide to haunted places in North Texas is back with a fully updated 2nd Edition featuring more haunted places and true ghost stories!

What’s new in Paranormal Texas, 2nd Edition?
Just like the original travel guide, Paranormal Texas 2nd Edition gives readers haunted history and directions to sites where paranormal activity is reported in the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex.

The 2nd edition now includes:
• Photos: Readers asked for photos of haunted places. Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition has over 50 photos of haunted towns, haunted hotels, and more.
• Ghost hunting tips: Tui Snider explains what she has learned since she began attending paranormal investigations with Texas ghost hunters.
• More haunted places: Several new venues (including a haunted doll museum!) with fascinating haunted history were added to Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition.
• Firsthand accounts: Readers asked for more true ghost stories and hauntings. (She even shares personal experiences with paranormal activity, including a strange encounter with her doppelganger at a haunted hotel!)

All the above, PLUS a paranormal activity evidence database:
See the paranormal activity for yourself: Readers can access an online database with links to EVPs, ghost photos, videos, and other evidence gathered by paranormal investigators who have visited the haunted sites in her book.
Continually updated: This database will be continually updated with EVPs, anomalous photos, videos, and other data gathered at haunted places featured in Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition.
Add your paranormal activity: Readers can contact the author if they have paranormal evidence to add!

Is Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition for YOU?
1. Ghost Hunters – If you want to plan a fun road trip to haunted places (with or without ghost hunting equipment) Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition can help.

2. Armchair Travelers – If you prefer reading about haunted history, Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition can take you on an exciting armchair tour through haunted towns of North Texas.

 

“Tui’s 2nd edition is spot on fun and thrilling for everyone to read as only Tui can tell it!” – Greg Stephens, Paranormal Investigator (RIP)

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Pack your bags, fill up the tank, and go on a road trip to places recommended in this book. This was the message I received from Tui Snider’s Paranormal Texas right after I read it. Written in a casually chatty, engaging, and knowledgeable manner, this book both informs and entertains. It’s unlike any travel guide I’ve ever read. Whether she’s recounting her own investigations, debunking urban legends, sharing other people’s personal experiences, or stating factual history, Ms. Snider proves her professional expertise and immense talent as a story-teller.

I can see the depth of her research and her enthusiasm for the subject of paranormal activity in North Texas in every location she mentions. I like the variety of places that were included: hotels, bookstores, concert halls, and restaurants in addition to the usual cemeteries, bridges, and houses. I dog-eared a few of my favorites, usually the ones with the lengthy stories – Hotel Lawrence in Dallas, Emily Fowler Central Library,  and Granbury Opera House.

Haunted places organized alphabetically by city, with addresses, websites, and photographs, Paranormal Texas delivers on the travel guide part of its description. What elevates it from other books of its kind is the lively personality of its author which shines through despite the creepy, scary, and sometimes tragic tales she wrote. I’ll definitely read more of Ms. Snider’s work.

5 stars

. AboutTheAuthor

Tui Snider

Tui Snider is an award-winning writer, speaker, photographer, and musician specializing in offbeat sites, overlooked history, cemetery symbolism, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction, but then I moved to Texas!”

Tui lectures frequently at universities, libraries, conferences, and bookstores. This fall, she will speak about the Great Airship Mystery of 1897 at this year’s UFO Congress and teach a course on Understanding Cemetery Symbols at Texas Christian University. She also shares weekly info-videos based on her research on her YouTube channel.

Snider’s writing and photography have been featured in a variety of media outlets, including WFAA TV, Coast to Coast AM, LifeHack, Langdon Review, the City of Plano, Wild Woman Waking, Shades of Angels and many more. She has several more books in progress.

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10/3/19 	StoreyBook Reviews 
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THE LITTLE TEASHOP ON MAIN by Jodi Thomas – Book Blog Tour Giveaway

Little Teashop Blog Cover

THE LITTLE TEASHOP ON MAIN

by

Jodi Thomas

Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction / Coming of Age
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Number of Pages: 336 pages

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Synopsis

Little Teashop Book Cover

A rainy-day ritual—a tea party between three little girls—becomes the framework of not only their friendship, but their lives.
Blonde, curly-haired Zoe is openhearted, kind and free-spirited, and dreams of becoming a famous actor in New York City. Shy Emily struggles with mental health but has the heart and soul of a writer. And Shannon—tall, athletic, strong—has a deep sense of loyalty that will serve her well when she heads off to military college.
As Zoe, Emily, and Shannon grow into women—forging careers, following dreams, and finding love—they’ll learn that life doesn’t always unfold the way they want it to, but through it all, the one constant is each other and their regular tea parties. And when the unthinkable happens, the girls must come together to face the greatest test of all.

A deeply moving novel about the family that raises us, the hearts that nurture us, and the great friendships that define our lives.

 

PRAISE FOR THE LITTLE TEASHOP ON MAIN:

“Heart-wrenching as well as heartwarming, the book reflects the experiences of these seven multifaceted and compelling characters as they journey through challenging years together.” — NY Journal of Books

“A comforting treasure for regular Thomas readers who enjoy the easy flow of her writing, a little steamy romance to spice things up, and the development of vulnerable, realistic characters.” — Booklist

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TLTOM bg 2

AboutTheAuthor

Author Pic ThomasWith millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 45 novels and 14 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 11th writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. With five RITA’s to her credit, along with National Readers’ Choice Awards and Booksellers’ Best Awards, Thomas has proven her skill as a master storyteller.

Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, Thomas enjoys interacting with students at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, where she currently serves as Writer in Residence.

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

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SAVING THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE by Linda Broday – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

STMOB Blog Tour

SAVING THE
MAIL ORDER BRIDE
Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride,
Book Two

by

LINDA BRODAY

Genre: Historical Western Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Number of Pages: 384 pages

SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

 

Synopsis

STMOB 3D

 

He may have a high price on his head, but all outlaw Jack Bowdre ever desired was a second chance. Now he’s been arrested and on his way to jail, completely unaware that his unexpected —and unexpectedly beautiful— traveling companion is none other than Nora Kane…his mail order bride.

It’s too bad Nora doesn’t know Jack is her groom-to-be. All she sees is a scoundrel. But when their stagecoach crashes, they’re suddenly handcuffed together and running for their lives with nothing but the clothes on their backs. A posse behind and unforgiving terrain ahead, how long can they survive? Hounded by desperate men bent on stopping them by any means necessary, Nora and Jack find the love they both desperately want. But the question remains: will they have a chance to claim it?

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20190409_195134947_iOS

Just when I thought I had Linda Broday pegged, she goes and reveals another wonderful facet of her amazing talent as a writer. While the first book in this series (The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride) had me almost in despair for Clay and Tally’s chances in making it through their challenges–spoiler alert: they did–Saving the Mail Order Bride assured me of Jack and Nora’s happy-ever-after right from the start of their action-packed escape adventure. That’s because Ms. Broday infused this book with light humor and boundless optimism rather than angst and incessant suffering.

20190406_162137383_iOS

I loved that Jack and Nora’s objective changed while on the run. Instead of getting away from enemies, it had become more about reaching a specific destination: Hope’s Crossing. Because in that place was community, support, and love.

I adore that during their journey, they managed to acquire an entire family. A family that’s formed from tragedy and abuse with a promise of a better future for the children.

I enjoyed how Jack and Nora always worked together to escape, evade, provide for one another, face their adversaries, and plan a course of action. I really appreciate how strongly the characters were drawn with admirable qualities and all-too-human weaknesses. Despite the title, it wasn’t only Jack who was saving the mail order bride, it was also Nora saving the outlaw.

20190416_195355501_iOSAt the beginning of the book, Linda Broday wrote a letter saying she hopes the readers are entertained by this story and that we’re left wanting to know more about the characters from Hope’s Crossing.

Well, this reader is happily entertained and is looking forward to reading more about these outlaws and the community they’re building from nothing. Bring on Ridge’s story please, Linda. I can’t wait for more.

 

PRAISE FOR SAVING THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE:

“Broday continues her Outlaw Mail Order Brides historical Western romance series with an interesting premise…” — Kirkus

“The adventure and dangers kept the pages turning – delivering quite a few surprises and heart-pounding moments. And generously balanced in were moments of peace and beauty.” — Sunshine Lake Reviews

“I loved every deep ravine-gun blazing-twist of this book.”
Glenda (Goodreads reviewer)

“Linda Broday has spun another great adventure that is full of surprises, has you rooting for the outlaws and people of Hope’s Crossing, and wanting some ‘lawmen,’ ‘businessmen,’ and other ‘questionable men’ to find their deaths. It’ll make you question who should be called an outlaw in this period of time.”
Stephanie (Goodreads reviewer)

 

STMOB Meme 1

 

AboutTheAuthor

tomob linda brodayI’m a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty historical western romance novels and short stories. I reside in the Texas Panhandle on land the American Indian and Comancheros once roamed, and at times if the breeze is just right, I can hear their voices whispering in the wind. Texas’ rich history is one reason I set all my stories here where cowboys are still caretakers of the land. I’m inspired every day by their immense dedication and love for the wide-open spaces.

When I’m not writing, I collect old coins and I’ve also been accused (quite unfairly I might add) of making a nuisance of myself at museums, libraries, and historical places. I’m also a movie buff and love sitting in a dark theater, watching the magic unfold on the screen. As long as I’m confessing…chocolate is my best friend. It just soothes my soul.

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5/8/19 		Review 			Book Fidelity 
5/9/19 		Excerpt 		StoreyBook Reviews 
5/10/19 	Review 			Carpe Diem Chronicles 
5/11/19 	Guest Post 		The Clueless Gent 
5/12/19 	Review 			Reading by Moonlight 
5/13/19 	Top Ten List 		That's What She's Reading 
5/14/19 	Review 			The Book Review 
5/15/19 	Author Interview 	Forgotten Winds 
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5/16/19 	Review 			Chapter Break Book Blog

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