COMFORT ZONE by Kimberly Fish–Book Blog Tour: Reviewapalooza and Giveaway

COMFORT ZONE
A Comfort Stories Book
by
KIMBERLY FISH
Genre: Contemporary / Second Chance Romance / Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Fish Tales Publishing
Date of Publication: November 1, 2021
Number of Pages: 289 pages 
Scroll down for Giveaway!

The award-winning author of Comfort Songs, Comfort Plans, and Comfort Foods digs into the life of single-mom Anna Weber, an appraiser who gives value to other people’s found treasures. On assignment to research a handwritten sheet of music, Anna helps a stranded motorist, only to discover she’s rescued retired NFL quarterback Jack Moses. His confidence and fascination for solving problems makes him impossible for Anna to ignore even as they both dart along separate deadlines to save the finances at an inner-city school. Little does Anna know that as she wrestles with secrets from her past and a suspicious approach to people, Jack is running too—dodging women, pro athletes, and a future with no definable end zone.
As a nemesis threatens Anna’s young daughters, these two unlikely partners discover that it’s in stepping back from years of self-sufficiency that Anna and Jack can find the best treasure of all: a series of sweet, second chances.
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PRAISE & AWARDS
“Kimberly Fish’s Comfort books are wonderful, charming stories set in the Texas Hill Country. Fans of small towns family relationships will enjoy these feel-good books. Two thumbs up!” – Jan Moran, USA Today bestselling author of Seabreeze Inn.
Comfort Zone is a Literary Titan Gold Award winner and a Reader Views Bronze Award winner in romance. It was also a runner-up in the regional fiction category of the New England Book Festival awards.
CLICK TO PURCHASE!
Amazon


Perfectly titled, Comfort Zone left me feeling a warm glow inside after reading it. With her latest book, Kimberly Fish welcomes her eager readers back to Comfort, Texas– a place of solace and support, a place where you’ll feel safe and at ease. For those reasons, Anna Weber calls it her forever home.

Not at first, though. Not until her past caught up with her and brought danger to herself and her twin daughters. What was a place to hide became special because of friends gathering around to get her back on her feet and a new man proving his worth to her with his actions, making her consider opening her heart once again.

We’re living in days not promised … We can’t treat these gifts lightly.”

While in pursuit of information to turn a handwritten sheet of music into a funding vehicle for a charter school, Anna and former NFL Quarterback Jack Moses get thrown together by chance and by well-intentioned manipulation care of Jack’s best friends Jo Jo and LaDonna. From San Antonio to Dallas to Tyler and to Comfort, the scenes showing the burgeoning attraction between Anna and Jack elicited some of the widest smiles and the most satisfied sighs from me. I loved the romance in this story. It developed naturally and was paced properly.

… you need to spend time in the workshop of your soul. It’s in getting out and doing things, serving others, that you get your real livelihood.”

One of the things I appreciate about Ms. Fish’s writing is her ability to manage a multitude of secondary characters. She gives them distinct personalities without having them overshadow the leads. Jo Jo and LaDonna are notables. As are Lacy, AJ, and Kali. For future books, I’d like to see the author explore beyond the binary. She has done so well in seamlessly incorporating a multicultural cast, I’m sure she’ll excel in further inclusion.

Live in the present because it is …”

Outstanding sense of place, compelling storyline, impeccable characterization, a wonderful balance of humor and angst. I’m grateful to Kimberly Fish and Lone Star Lit for the opportunity to review this delightful story.

4 Four-half-stars


Kimberly Fish has been a professional writer in marketing and media for over thirty years, with regular contributions to area newspapers and magazines. As an accidental historian, she wrote two novels, The Big Inch and Harmon General, both based on factual events in Longview, Texas that changed world history. Kimberly also offers a set of contemporary women’s fiction, based in the Texas Hill Country, that reveal her fascination with characters discovering their grit and sweet, second chances; all four of these novels have won distinguished awards.
WEBSITE  ◆  FACEBOOK
TWITTER AMAZON
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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
 ONE WINNER! 
Autographed copy of Comfort Zone,
hand-painted note card from artist Elaine McMillan,
and NFL official Silver Series football signed by Jack Moses

(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 4/29/2022)

STAND FOR UKRAINE — A Collection for Charity from The New Romance Café

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♥️🌻♥️🌻♥️🌻

STAND FOR UKRAINE

I am proud to contribute to this charity anthology collected and published by The New Romance Café. My story Songkran is the prologue to Samui Heat, Book 3 of the fun and steamy multicultural contemporary destination romance series Carpe Diem Chronicles

It’s now available. I hope you’ll check it out and lend your support to this worthwhile cause — https://books2read.com/StandForUkraineCharityAntho


BLURB

Protect the innocent.

Provide for families.

We stand with Ukraine.

Across the globe, authors have come together to provide stories filled with hope, heart, and understanding, inspired by the events of February 2022.

STAND FOR UKRAINE is a collection of romance, women’s fiction and poetry. Proceeds go to Save the Children’s efforts to provide Ukrainian children with food, warmth, shelter, and psychological support.


AUTHORS

Ally Vance, Amanda Cuff, A McCarty, Pandora Snow, Anna Klein, Anne Mercier, Annee Jones, April A. Luna, April D. Berry, M.A. Lee, A.M. Roark, Sarah Stein, Riana Everly, Lesley Hoover, C.A. Rene, Caraway Carter, Cassie Simon, Corinne M Knight, Dakota Willink, Danielle Pays, Dawn McGraw, Debra Elise, Demelza Carlton, Diane Jones, Sharon A. Mitchell, EmKay Connor, Eva Moore, Ginger Ring, Dylan Quinn, Gwen Dylan, Caia Daniels, Harlow Layne, Harper Michaels, Heather D’Agostino, Heather Scarlett, Helena Novak, Carol Van Den Hende, Jakki Frances, Jane Suen, Jen Stevens, Jennifer M. Miller, JCC Downing, Tasha Blythe, J. P. Uvalle, K Leigh, Karigan Hale, Kari Ganske, Kasey Hill, Élodie Garroway, Katherine Moore, Katie Rae, Kimberly Halstead, Kristie Leigh, Olivia Rhymer, Lisa Wells, M.Culler, S.C. Principale, Maida Malby, Mandy Bee, Maria Macdonald, Megan Ryder, M Jameson, Lissa Lynn Thomas, Merrie Destefano, Chele Maccabe, Michelle Iannarelli, Maya Lemaire, Leila Coltyn, Kathleen Ryder, N.J. Ember, Aarti V Raman, A.R. Bell, Renee Dahlia, RJ Gray, Robin Andrews, Rosie Wylor-Owen, Rubi Jade, Liz Martinson, Candace Sams, Guinevere Jordan, Shannon O’Connor, Miranda Jameson, Simone Leigh, Skye MacKinnon, Skye Turner, Sofia Aves, Jo Seysener, J. T. Silver, Suki McMinn, Tanya Dawson, Tanya Nellestein, Taya Rune, T.R. Weatherly, T Wells Brown, Tina Glasneck, Tracy Broemmer, Tracy Reed, Trinity Wood, Yolanda Olson, Zoey Indiana, Iuliana Foos, Melissa Riddell, Bria James, Remy Reigns, Emily Rose, Sabrina Silvers, Margaret Madigan, Andie Bale, Dakota Star, Jeanette Taylor Ford, Jenny Fenshaw, Anna Volkin, D.A. Nelson, Susan Horsnell, Sloane Nicole, Kristin T. De La Garza, Leann Castellanos, Cass K, Faith Justice, Nina Knight, Michelle L. De La Garza, Daniel Cade Quinn, Lisa Acerbo.

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AFTER PERFECT by Maan Gabriel – Featured New Release

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AFTER PERFECT

Maan Gabriel

 

BLURB

9781647422035_fcThirty-six-year-old Gabriella Stevens is living quietly and contently as a devoted housewife to Simon—just as her traditional Filipino mother has always told her to do—when, after sixteen years of marriage and twenty years together, he tells he wants a divorce.

With New York City as her backdrop, Gabby—single for the first time since she was a teenager—goes back to school, gets her first real job, and faces unfamiliar reality with determination. But when she unexpectedly falls in love with her mysterious but utterly beautiful creative writing professor, Colt, she learns he is battling demons of his own: a tragic past that may have made him incapable of love. Is Gabby destined for another heartbreak—or will her connection with Colt be what unbreaks her?

 

Buy Links:

Amazon          Barnes & Noble          One More Page

 

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Advance Praise:

  • “A heartfelt debut, After Perfect depicts a woman’s healing after divorce with grace and empathy. Maan Gabriel is an author to watch in contemporary women’s fiction.” ―Tif Marcelo, USA Today best-selling author of In a Book Club Far Away and The Key to Happily Ever After
  • “At once relatable and unexpected, AFTER PERFECT is the story of one woman’s quest to learn to live—and love—on her own terms after heartbreak. Maan Gabriel is a refreshing new voice in women’s fiction.” —Camille Pagán, bestselling author of Don’t Make Me Turn This Life Around
  • “Maan Gabriel’s After Perfectis the story of a marriage and a divorce and the complexities of both. Gabriel explores how cultural expectations may not only inform decision-making but determine it. In clear prose and through vivid scenes, Maan Gabriel shows us this irony―often through relationships, we come to know ourselves.” ―Corie Adjmi, author of Life and Other Shortcomings

ABOUT MAAN

MaanMaan Gabriel is a mom, wife, dreamer, writer, and advocate for women’s stories in literature. She earned her BA in communications from St. Scholastica’s College in Manila and MPS in public relations and corporate communications from Georgetown University. She has lived in Manila, Brussels, Dakar, and Mexico City. During the day, she works in strategic communications. Gabriel, along with her husband and son, currently calls suburban Washington DC home. After Perfect is her first novel.

 

Learn more at www.maangabriel.com


REVIEW

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From its pain-filled opening scene to the sigh-worthy hopeful ending, After Perfect is one highly evocative read. Maan Gabriel’s wonderfully polished debut involves the reader in newly-divorced Gabby Stevens’ journey to self-discovery amidst heartbreak and uncertainties.

After being cosseted most of her life, Gabby resolves to start over, go back to school, get a job, move into a small place, open herself up to new experiences, and stand on her own. Along the way, she maintains the support of her parents and best friend while creating meaningful relationships with new people. 

I like how Ms. Gabriel made Gabby so real and relatable by giving her balance in both long-held insecurities and newfound strengths. I love how she made Gabby’s Filipino heritage integral to her identity. I admire the way she drew her characters with dimensions, with light and shade. Thomas is, of course, a favorite as well as Gabby’s parents and her best friend Felicity. They provide the humor necessary to counter the angst in the storyline. As for Simon and Colt, I can see the attraction and approve of the final choice. They’re both important but this book is all about Gabby.

Other things I love: 

  • The inclusiveness and diversity of the characters reflect the society we live in today.
  • The great sense of place in both New York City and Washington DC locations
  • Everything that has to do with books (Thomas’s bookshop!!!), the writing and reading of them 
  • All the food

Some of my favorite quotes:

The thing about writing … It defines who you are as a person. It evolves and revolves around you, around how you feel, or around how you perceive life.”

If I become light, then darkness cannot overpower me. You can’t extinguish the light from the sun.”

When you have a book, you have been everywhere.”

Love is nobody’s fault. Love is someone’s magic. And no one should feel guilty for loving.”

Content notes: adultery, on-page miscarriage, deaths (narrated), body image issues

4 Four-half-stars

 

IT TAKES HEART by Tif Marcelo – Featured New Release

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IT TAKES HEART

by

Tif Marcelo

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it takes heart paperback

From romance author Tif Marcelo comes a heartwarming story about taking a second chance on love at a family-owned couples resort.

Heart Resort, a private resort in the Outer Banks, is a romantic getaway for couples but a hotbed of family drama for its proprietors, the Puso family. Brandon Puso, the youngest of the four siblings, prefers life on his own as a licensed contractor in DC after a falling-out with his eldest brother.

After a hurricane plows through the Outer Banks, Brandon has a change of heart. He returns to the resort to help with the grand reopening but encounters his big sister’s best friend, designer Geneva Harris, who’s there to do the same thing. But Geneva and Brandon have a secret. Years ago, they had a secret romance that ended in heartbreak.

With the resort’s future at stake, Brandon and Geneva decide to put the past aside and to keep peace with the family. But as their mutual attraction heats up, they have to decide if history will repeat itself—or if this time, love gets a second chance.

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Buy links: 

Tif’s Website
Amazon


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

Follow her here:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

2021 books


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ITH bookstagram

To follow.


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.

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

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IN A BOOK CLUB FAR AWAY

by

Tif Marcelo

SYNOPSIS

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

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

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

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

Buy links: 

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

REVIEW

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

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

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

4 Four-half-stars

ABOUT TIF 

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

Follow her here:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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.

COMFORT FOODS by Kimberly Fish – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

 

COMFORT FOODS

A Comfort Stories
Stand-Alone Novel

 

 
by
Kimberly Fish
 
Categories: Contemporary / Second-Chance Romance
Publisher: Fish Tales Publishing
Date of Publication: October 7, 2020
Number of Pages: 385 pages
 
 
Scroll down for Giveaway!
 
 
 

From the award-winning author of Comfort Plans and Comfort Songs comes a story of two rising stars blitzed by social media. Lacy Cavanaugh and single-dad Rudy Delgardo live a hundred miles apart but meet in the worst possible way. Working at a weekly paper and creating social media for area businesses helps Lacy connect with locals who open her mind to a perspective beyond Instagram. In launching a food-and-wine festival to support Comfort’s new event center, she discovers surprising skills bubbling over, much like the food she’s attempting to cook.

Rudy, on the brink of his restaurant’s takeover, struggles to improve time management so he can create a better relationship with his daughter. Distracted by Lacy and her invitation to the festival, he’s tempted by her beauty, wit, and courage, but as a chef, he rarely gets to enjoy life outside the kitchen. Enemies, illness, and exes add unwelcome spice to the dish they’re concocting—one that will teeter with misunderstanding until the very end.

Will Lacy and Rudy embrace their second chances and discover the perfect seasonings of family, resilience, and grace to create a handwritten recipe of love that will stand the test of time?

CLICK TO PURCHASE!

 
 
 
 
 
 
Review_preview
 
20210105_163710123_iOSRelevant and current, Comfort Foods is a feast of a read. Gobble it up in one sitting or savor for several days, you’ll end up satisfied either way. 
 
When I saw the opportunity to review this book, I jumped at the chance. Food and romance are two of my favorite things. As I said when I requested it, foodie romance is my jam, pun fully intended. 
 
Comfort Foods lives up to my expectations. Lacy and Rudy’s story, taking place in two locations (Comfort and Austin), is rich and filling. Lacy’s journey of self-discovery after her fall from grace is especially fascinating and touching. Her scenes with Frank Bachman, the publisher of the newspaper she works for, provide moments of both laughter and tears. In doing service for her sister and for others in the community, Lacy finds her worth beyond the superficial beauty and fashion she was previously famous for. Rudy’s grappling with too many pots on the stove–his restaurant Stella, his daughter Luna, and his attraction to Lacy–is realistic in today’s world and highly relatable. His bewilderment in his search for balance amid man-made obstacles is endearing and admirable.
 
But life is more than a shiny ball. It has edges, holes, and deep caves. Make a choice on where you feel most grounded.
 
Ms. Fish created fully-fleshed-out characters that are sympathetic and likable and oh-so-real with their all-too-human failings. I love that she included multicultural characters that’s reflective of the society at present. She spun a tale filled with humor, angst, insider knowledge of the restaurant and publishing businesses, and the weighty concern of human trafficking. The themes of found family and close-knit community are ones I often seek out and are entrenched in this book and in this series. And then, there’s the food. There’s enough to make a reader’s mouth water and head to the kitchen to recreate the dishes mentioned in the book. 
 
Food is a necessary element of living, and there is real beauty in the process of preparing it and serving people who appreciate the effort.
 
I enjoyed the slow burn of Lacy and Rudy’s romance from their awkward first couple of meetings to cooking together, to the impromptu bridal photo shoot, and to their eventual happy ever after.  I wish though that they have more scenes together and that they communicated more frequently, and collaborated on resolving their issues. Rudy’s declaration at the end seems too quick for a relationship that’s not fully developed because of so much distance. 
 
Love is a recipe worth every effort.
 
As always, huge thanks to Kimberly Fish and to Lone Star Literary Life for the copy of the book to review.
 
 
 
4 out of 5 stars
 
 
 
 
 

Author Kimberly Fish resides in Longview, Texas, and enjoys writing contemporary fiction set in the Hill Country. During the seven years she lived in San Antonio, wandering in and around Comfort, Texas, provided endless space for her imagination to develop stories of women discovering their grit. She studied the small Texas town that had seemingly dug its heels into the limestone and refused modern development and thought that was fertile ground for stories about women remodeling their lives. It made a juxtaposition of place and purpose that was hard to ignore. Plus, anything that takes intentional effort has a much higher value than the things that come easily—Comfort personifies this, and the novels remind readers that anything worth having is worth the work.

Comfort Foods is the third full-length novel in the set, Fiction from the Texas Hill Country, and follows behind the award-winning novels Comfort Plans and Comfort Songs. A novella, Emeralds Mark the Spot, is available as a free eBook download to subscribers of the incredibly sporadic newsletter at kimberlyfish.com and is the original story from which all other Comfort novels grew.

 
 
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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
ONE WINNER
GRANDPRIZE (US only):
Signed copy of COMFORT FOODS +
Ina Garten’s MODERN COMFORT FOOD
Ends Midnight, CST, January 22, 2021
 
 

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FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY,
or visit the blogs directly:
 
1/12/21 Guest Post Hall Ways Blog
1/12/21 Review Sydney Young, Stories
1/13/21 Excerpt Forgotten Winds
1/14/21 Review Jennie Reads
1/14/21 Author Interview Texas Book Lover
1/15/21 Review The Clueless Gent
1/16/21 Review Jennifer Silverwood
1/17/21 Guest Post All the Ups and Downs
1/18/21 Review Momma on the Rocks
1/18/21 Character Interview StoreyBook Reviews
1/19/21 Review Book Bustle
1/19/21 Guest Post That’s What She’s Reading
1/20/21 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
1/21/21 Review It’s Not All Gravy
1/21/21 Review Bibliotica
 
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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

 

Scroll down for the giveaway!

 

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

 

CLICK TO PURCHASE

Interabang Books
(Personalized/signed copies available through Interabang)

Amazon || IndieBound || Bookshop

A portion of royalties are going to the It Gets Better Project.
(Click for more details.)

add to goodreads

Review_preview

TSOYAM bookstagram

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.

Facebook  Instagram ║ Website
Goodreads ║ Amazon ║ BookBub ║ Twitter

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TWO WINNERS each get a signed hardcover copy of the book and their choice of
either a FaceTime call or virtual book-club visit with the author.
August 11-21, 2020
(U.S. Only)

TSOYAM giveaway

Click on the photo to enter.

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CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY.

Or, visit the blogs directly:

8/11/20 Author Interview All the Ups and Downs
8/11/20 Review Tangled in Text
8/12/20 Review Momma on the Rocks
8/12/20 BONUS Post Hall Ways Blog
8/13/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
8/14/20 Top Six List Texas Book Lover
8/14/20 Review Bibliotica
8/15/20 Excerpt StoreyBook Reviews
8/16/20 Guest Post The Page Unbound
8/17/20 Review Missus Gonzo
8/17/20 Review Rainy Days with Amanda
8/18/20 Audio Spotlight Book Bustle
8/19/20 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
8/19/20 Review Reading by Moonlight
8/20/20 Review It’s Not All Gravy
8/20/20 Review That’s What She’s Reading

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THE HUNGRY READERS GAMES 2020

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

the hungry readers games rules

🏹🏆 Two Challenges and Two Ways to Win

Competition 1 – Power Reader Challenge:

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

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

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

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Week 1 (June 1-7) Report:

A Dark and Stormy Knight by Kerrigan Byrne – 2 points

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

The Outlaw’s Daughter by Margaret Brownley – 10 points

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

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

How to Seduce a Spy by Catherine Stein – 1 point

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

Alpha Night by Nalini Singh – 1 point

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

Week 1 = 18 points (including bonus roll)


Week 2 (June 8-14) Report

Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho – 20 points

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

Seeds of Desire by Jessie Scott – 1 point

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

Dance Away With Me by Susan Elizabeth Phillips – 2 points

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

The AI Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole – 0.5 points

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

Week 2 Total – 23.5 points

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Week 3 (June 15-21) Report

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Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras25 points

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

Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh – 2 points

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

The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles – 1 point

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

Additional bonus points – 2 points

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

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

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Week 4 (June 22-28) Report

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Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi – 0.5 points

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

Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin by Mariana Zapata – 1 point

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

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

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

Simmer Down by Sarah Smith – 32 points

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

Additional points – 3 points

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

Total Week 4 – 46.5 points 

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Rest of June Report

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

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

Additional Points – 10 points

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

Deductions

  • Skipping Challenge #4 – -20 points

Total “Week 5” – 4 points

TOTAL JUNE POINTS – 111

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THE FIRST EMMA By Camille Di Maio – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

TFE Tour Cover

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

Scroll down for the giveaway!

 

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

 

CLICK TO ORDER ON:

 Amazon    Barnes and Noble 
 Indiebound  Bookshop.org  

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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.

Newsletter ║  Website ║ Facebook  ║ YouTube
Instagram ║ Amazon Author Page ║ BookBub
Twitter ║ Goodreads

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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

ONE WINNER receives a signed copy of The First Emma 

May 19-29, 2020
(US only)

TFE giveaway

Click on photo to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE FOR
DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY.
Or, visit the blogs directly:

5/19/20 Promo Texas Book Lover
5/19/20 BONUS Post Hall Ways Blog
5/20/20 Review Missus Gonzo
5/21/20 Author Video Max Knight
5/22/20 Review Librariel Book Adventures
5/23/20 Excerpt Part 1 All the Ups and Downs
5/24/20 Excerpt Part 2 Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
5/25/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
5/26/20 Excerpt Part 3 The Page Unbound
5/27/20 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
5/28/20 Review Momma on the Rocks

 

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THE DAHLONEGA SISTERS by Diane M How – Featured Review

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THE DAHLONEGA SISTERS:

The Gold Miner Ring

by

Diane M How

 

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Dahlonega Sisters eBook Cover Proof III

Three Sisters. One Mysterious Ring. Too Many Unexplained Misfortunes.

A teenage transgression burdens the superstitious and eccentric Mutzi McGilvray. Nothing in her life has been right since she stole a unique ring intended for her sophisticated older sister, Rose Ellen.

Convinced the ring is cursed, and fearing her days are limited, Mutzi’s efforts to dispose of the vexatious object fail. When Marge, her perfect-at-everything twin, accidentally comes into possession of it, a series of unexplained mishaps generates turmoil and forces Mutzi to admit her wrongdoing. The mysterious origin of the ring creates more conflict and doubt, testing the three sisters’ bond. None of them are prepared for the unexpected journey that follows.

Join the delightful McGilvray Sisters on a lighthearted journey through the quaint, historic town of Dahlonega, as they try to unravel the mysterious origin of a ring closely tied to the first Gold Rush Days Festival in 1954.

Buy Links:

Books2Read    –    Amazon      –     Barnes & Noble     –     Kobo    –     Apple

 

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It’s perfectly fitting that I’m posting this review of a book driven by superstitions during Friday, the thirteenth, probably the day with the most superstitious beliefs attached to it.

I was thoroughly charmed by this story of sisterhood/family, return to faith, small town living, and second chance at love. The main characters (Mutzi, Marge, Rose Ellen, and April) are all relatable and real. Ms. How gave each of them distinct personalities right from the start with quirks and mannerisms that make them likable and sympathetic.

The mystery of the gold miner ring is a fascinating thread throughout the story, bringing about life-changing situations that reached satisfying conclusions for those affected. The superstitions are funny and I actually also believe in some of them. As a romance author, I delighted in Mutzi and Sam’s reunion and April and Paul’s reconciliation.

Even though I couldn’t pinpoint exactly how old the sisters and Sam are (late-60s is my guess), I still appreciate the fact that they are of an earlier generation than most main characters in women’s fiction these days. I find them extremely fascinating and their stories rich and varied. Indeed, I am looking forward to the next shenanigans by the Dahlonega sisters.

4 Four-half-stars

 

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My pictureDiane M How is the author of The Dahlonega Sisters, The Gold Miner Ring. Her award-winning short stories and poetry are published in numerous anthologies. She is a member of the Missouri Writers Guild, the St. Louis Publishers Association and an officer of Saturday Writers, a nonprofit organization of writers encouraging writers. She resides in St. Peters, Missouri. When not writing, Diane enjoys basket weaving with her daughter, casino visits with her husband, and spending time with family in Dahlonega, Georgia.

You can get to know more about Diane here:

Website
Facebook
BookBub
Amazon