New Release Review! WHATEVER YOU NEED by Barbara Longley (The Haneys #2)

Whatever You Need
by Barbara Longley

Synopsis:

In the second novel in award-winning author Barbara Longley’s sweet and sexy Haneys series, an introverted electrician rewires a young widow’s apartment—and attempts to mend her heart.

Painfully shy electrician Wyatt Haney is a pro at complex wiring jobs, but when it comes to women, he just can’t seem to make a lasting connection. If he had even half the courage of the superhero he penned for his comic book series, he’d finally be able to talk to his beautiful neighbor, Kayla—and stop hiding behind a hoodie. When an electrical fire breaks out in Kayla’s apartment, Wyatt comes to the rescue, sparking an attraction neither of them expected.

Kayla Malone has had enough surprises. First an unplanned pregnancy at eighteen, then losing her husband in war, and now a fire in her apartment. Thank God her hot neighbor has the skills to help. As Wyatt repairs Kayla’s apartment and forges a relationship with her son, he also makes inroads to her heart. It’s clear that Wyatt has fallen for Kayla, but is she willing to risk another heartbreak—or will she ignore the electricity between them and miss her happy ending?


Review:

Whatever You Need was a cute story and very sweet–the heroine’s little boy especially was a show stealer. (He’s almost too good, but manages to have a few mini-meltdowns that make him a tad bit more real.) This was the second in the series, but I didn’t have any problem at all not having read the first yet.

There were a few aspects that stretched credibility a bit thin–the amount of time the heroine’s misconception about the hero’s relationship status went on for, the virgin who has amazing sex and gives incredible Os the very first time (even with “research” I found it highly unlikely), the rather quick and painless way some pretty big issues were resolved toward the end–but for some light, easy reading with likable characters, you could do a lot worse. Having Wyatt draw comics in his free time was a nice touch, and Kayla putting herself through school with VA benefits made the horrible first husband storyline easier to take.

Though this won’t make it on to any of my favorite lists, there was enough that was enjoyable here; I’d probably give another book from this author a try.

Rating: 3 stars / C+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.


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New Release Review and Giveaway! LAW AND DISORDER by Heather Graham (The Finnegan Connection #1)

Synopsis:

Trust the enemy?

Desperate to escape her kidnappers, Kody Cameron can turn to only one man…and he’s holding a gun. Outnumbered and trapped in the deadly Everglades, she has little recourse, but something in this captor’s eyes makes her believe she can trust him. Does she dare to take the risk?

Undercover agent Nick Connolly has met Kody before and knows she might very well blow his cover. Though determined to maintain his facade, he can’t let Kody die. He won’t. And his decision to change his own rules of law and order are about to make all hell break loose.

 

Review:

A fairly quick read; I believe this book (first in The Finnegan Connection) is at least loosely connected to another series–a number of characters were briefly mentioned and/or made appearances here who were familiar to both Kody and Nick–but as a series starter it worked just fine as a standalone.

The romance here takes a second seat to the suspense/action plot, which is fine–we get our fill later on, when (we think!) the danger has passed. Or has it? 😉 The setting was intriguing (though a bit over-described at times)–it really made me want to visit the Everglades, though I have to admit doing so at gunpoint would not be my first choice. I was entertained by the story even if not quite drawn into it–some pretty big coincidences, and the plot was a bit thin in parts–still, I’d be interested to see where this series will head next.

Rating: 3 stars / C+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Purchase Links

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About the author:

For more information, check out her websites: TheOriginalHeatherGraham.comeHeatherGraham.com, and HeatherGraham.tv. You can also find Heather on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

 

 

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New Release Review! DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION by Olivia Dade (Lovestruck Librarians #5)

Driven to Distraction
by Olivia Dade

Synopsis:

IF THE BOOKMOBILE’S ROCKING . . .

Constance Chen is not the demure kind of librarian. Sure, her high-horsepower ride is Big Bertha the Bookmobile, but Con swears a blue streak, does her own home improvement, and wears steel-toed boots. She has a tight circle of friends, a demanding, beloved sprawl of a Chinese-American family, and a strict hookups-only policy when it comes to men. Her life is just how she wants it. Except for one maddeningly sexy footnote.

Sam Wolcott, her friend’s baby brother and the library’s IT star, has been throwing sparks with Con since he moved to town. To everybody else, he’s a thoughtful, sensitive sweetheart. To Con, he’s a cantankerous pedant, because if they don’t fight nonstop their clothes will spontaneously combust. Sam needs a commitment Con won’t—can’t—give. And neither of them will chance their hard-won bonds for pure lust.

Too bad Con and Sam have a whole week in a very tiny, very private space to sustain their dumb arguments. Alone. What happens in the Bookmobile might take their resistance right out of circulation . . .

 

Review:

This one had such a strong start–the bookmobile librarian and the geeky IT guy who have all kinds of sexual tension going on, both believing that they can’t be together (he’s the brother of one of her best friends and younger than her; she doesn’t want/have time for a relationship) competing against each other for department of the year at the library…at the beginning, this was all kinds of fun. It was a bit frustrating that Con was so dead set against any kind of a relationship beyond the purely physical, but Sam put his all behind changing her mind on that point, and it was great to see him bring her around to the idea. Oh, the presents he leaves for her–made me melt every. Single. Time. He plays hockey, and she cheers him on using hockey terms that are perfectly valid but manage to sound totally dirty at the same time 🙂 So fun.

But…

The major conflict in their relationship changed everything for me. First, it took them 80% of the book for them to figure out what their conflict was…I really have a hard time believing that they would have gotten to the point that they did without having the talk that they clearly needed to have before committing to a future together, but they didn’t. They actively avoided it, both just assuming what they wanted to believe about the other until they couldn’t believe it anymore. Then they broke up. Then they reconsidered, and of course got back together in the end–with another really big

BUT…

It was really hard to buy the way this whole issue was resolved. One person completely turned around on their position, thanks to a single conversation and the events of a weekend, and the other person…didn’t. They pretty much said, “Yeah, I suppose I could possibly, maybe change my mind eventually in the far distant future, but I strongly doubt it.” As much as I had wanted them together early on (and there were more awesome gifts involved in the reconciliation!) the way they managed it in the end left me unconvinced that they really should be together, which made me sad.

Still, I love the idea of a series built around public librarians. How awesome is this? I’ll definitely try some of the other books in this series–the one excerpted at the end, book 4 Ready to Fall, looks cute–in the hopes that this one was a one-off. The series characters all work together and are friendly with each other, and so the MCs of the other books were in and out of the pages of this one. Not having read the other books yet, I wasn’t familiar with their stories but still enjoyed seeing their relationships here with Con, Sam, and each other–as a standalone, it worked okay; those who have read the other books, though, will definitely enjoy seeing the stories of those librarians continue here.

Rating: 3 stars / C

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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Re-Release Review and Giveaway! FIRE BRAND by Diana Palmer

Fire Brand
by Diana Palmer

Synopsis:

He’ll risk his whole heart to save her from the past 

Gaby Cane was always a bit afraid of her attraction to Bowie McCayde. Even when she was fifteen and Bowie’s family took her in, she had sensed his simmering resentment. Now ten years later, she’s an aspiring journalist who can hold her own with any man professionally, the dark shadows of years gone by far behind her. Then Bowie strides back into her life—only this time, he needs her, and the pull of loyalty to his family is too strong to ignore.

When Bowie asked Gaby to help save his family’s Arizona ranch, he never expected the girl he once knew to return transformed into a stunning, successful woman. As they work together, Bowie is shocked to find that her innocence and beauty stir a hunger he can’t deny. But the rogue rancher can sense something holding her back, and he’s determined to uncover the terrible secret Gaby is fighting to keep hidden…

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Review:

I had mixed feelings about this one.

I didn’t realize until I read the author’s note that it was a reprint of a previously (1989!) published novel. Diana Palmer (pseudonym od Susan Kyle–originally published under her real name) explained that she kept the hero’s smoking habit in the book (and yep, that’s a blast from the past–my kids have a hard time believing me when I tell them that people used to smoke in public all the time, especially restaurants) and noted that the way in which Gaby and the other reporters worked was true to the time period, because that used to be her job. It was definitely interesting to watch reporters work before they had the Internet to help with research! Since it was all taking place in the year in which I graduated high school, I like to think it’s not that long ago, but boy have some things really changed. It was fun to get a glimpse back to a sort-of-distant time.

As a library and information studies student, it was really interesting to observe hands-on research when there was so much actual work (travel to read documents, phone calls, etc.) involved. I also enjoyed seeing all the different hats everyone in the small town paper had to wear on a daily basis. It definitely felt authentic, and really added to the overall atmosphere of the book.

I have to admit I had a difficult time connecting with the main characters. Gaby’s rabid virginity and complete innocence/ignorance about sex (explained by a traumatic event as a young adult) seemed totally at odds with her go-anywhere-heedless-of-danger reporter persona. At times she was worldly and knowledgeable, and then at other times totally clueless. She would waffle back and forth a lot–she trusted Bowie, but no, he scares her; she’s noticed some major red flags about the new group that wants to develop the McCayde land, oh, but they say they’re going to bring lots of jobs to the area, so let’s support them!–definite lack of consistency.

Bowie as a hero felt a bit dated. He was very alpha I-am-man-and-in-charge and not always very nice to Gaby, his mother, or his mother’s new boyfriend. He was big on making “this is how it’s going to be” pronouncements instead of talking things through with the women in his life, and it got to be aggravating. He ended up much more likable than he started, so that was something.

At times I had a hard time believing that Aggie, Bowie’s mother, and Ned Cartwright, her new boyfriend, were mature, grown adults. Not only did they get engaged really, really quickly (without really knowing each other, as becomes clear toward the end) they also broke up for a fairly ridiculous reason. And then we find out what he’s been hiding all along. I kind of wanted to smack him upside the head at that point. They did have a cute HEA, though, so that helped to make up for a lot.

I did like the bits of southwestern history that were sprinkled throughout, and digging into the mystery behind the new agricultural venture (positive forward progress, or environmental disaster in the making?) made for some interesting reading. This was my first book by the author; I’d definitely give some of her more recent titles a try though I don’t know that I’d read too many more of her ones that are 20+ years old. If you read similar books “back in the day” it will probably make you nostalgic, but if you’ve become accustomed to the more modern offerings it might take some adjustment.

Rating: 3 stars / C

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the author:diana palmer

Susan Eloise Spaeth was born on 11 December 1946 in Cuthbert, Georgia, USA. She was the eldest daughter of Maggie Eloise Cliatt, a nurse and also journalist, and William Olin Spaeth, a college professor. Her mother was part of the women’s liberation movement many years before it became fashionable. Susan grew up reading Zane Grey and fell in love with cowboys. Susan is a former newspaper reporter, with sixteen years experience on both daily and weekly newspapers. Since 1972, she has been married to James Kyle and have since settled down in Cornelia, Georgia, where she started to write romance novels.

She began selling romances in 1979 as Diana Palmer. She also used the pseudonyms Diana Blayne and Katy Currie, and her married name: Susan Kyle. Now, she has over 40 million copies of her books in print, which have been translated and published around the world. She is listed in numerous publications, including Contemporary Authors by Gale Research, Inc., Twentieth Century Romance and Historical Writers by St. James Press, The Writers Directory by St. James Press, the International Who’s Who of Authors and Writers by Meirose Press, Ltd., and Love’s Leading Ladies by Kathryn Falk. Her awards include seven Waldenbooks national sales awards, four B. Dalton national sales awards, two Bookrak national sales awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award for series storytelling from Romantic Times, several Affaire de Coeur awards, and two regional RWA awards.

 

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Diana Palmer’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, August 8th: From the TBR Pile – excerpt
Tuesday, August 9th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, August 10th: Stranded in Chaos
Thursday, August 11th: A Holland Reads – excerpt
Friday, August 12th: A Splendid Messy Life
Monday, August 15th: The Sassy Bookster – excerpt
Tuesday, August 16th: Reading Reality
Wednesday, August 17th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Thursday, August 18th: Books a la Mode – excerpt
Friday, August 19th: A Bookaholic Swede – excerpt
Monday, August 22nd: Moonlight Rendezvous
Tuesday, August 23rd: Mignon Mykel Reviews
Wednesday, August 24th: Bewitched Bookworms
Thursday, August 25th: Dog-Eared Daydreams
Monday, August 29th: Worth Getting in Bed For
Tuesday, August 30th: Becky on Books
Wednesday, August 31st: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Thursday, September 1st: Buried Under Romance
Friday, September 2nd: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

 

New Release Review! WANTING IT ALL by Christi Barth (Naked Men #2)

Wanting It All
by Christi Barth

Synopsis:

In the follow-up to Risking It All, hailed by Lauren Layne as “the perfect escapist read,” the heartthrobs of the Naked Men blog and podcast get a little too real about friendship, love, and sex. For one wealthy bachelor, the trouble starts when all three collide. . . .

After narrowly surviving a bus crash in high school with his best friends, science geek Knox Davis resolved to become so successful that he could have anything and everything he wants. Now he’s über-wealthy, a huge business success, and a notorious ladies’ man. Knox refuses to limit himself to one woman, but when his latest conquest—a blond beauty from the Alaskan bush—challenges his superficial ways, Knox begins to see the world through her eyes, and finds he likes what he sees.

A nurturer at heart, Madison Abbott wants to put down roots. She left Alaska to meet Mr. Right—and to track down Logan, the half-brother she’s never met. Instead, she finds Knox. Although the sexy-as-sin bachelor may not seem like marriage material, Madison’s starting to think that Knox is The One. But Knox refuses to settle down, especially once he learns that Madison is his best friend’s little sister. Now it’s up to her to convince Knox that she’s everything he really wants.

 

Review:

The second Naked Men series book had such a strong start. I really love the ACSs (Italian abbreviation for “American soccer survivors”)–the dynamic between these guys, and the women who intersect their orbit, is great. Former scholarship student/geek turned bazillionaire fashion plate/tech guru Knox and Library of Congress librarian (!) Madison are absolutely adorable together. For 60+% of the book, I was in love.

But…it kinda goes off the rails in the last third or so. While I realize that the person who said yes to a marriage proposal one week into a relationship shouldn’t point fingers (in my defense, I figured he 1) was kidding or 2) was insane, and either way, I could easily get out of it later, since the only witness was fast asleep–and we didn’t make it official for 5 more months and the actual event was 2 years later–that all makes it more sane, yes?), there were so many, many things that happened in that last third that had me shaking my head.

1) Madison’s declaration to all and sundry that she’s in D.C. to get married. Um…okay. Not sure you need to tell everyone that quite so fast, especially the commitment-phobic womanizer you just met and started to date, and hey, you’re only twenty-four. It’s not Regency England, so take a breath, okay? Maybe enjoy living somewhere other than Alaska and your brand new job at the LoC for a few minutes first?

2) Though you could see who her mystery half-brother was going to be about a million miles away, it’s still a pretty convenient coincidence.

3) Expecting that previously-oblivious-to-her-existence half-brother to have an instant sibling love connection? Slightly unrealistic. Springing it on the guy 1) at the crack of dawn 2) on a sat phone call from halfway around the world 3) without any easing into it at all and 4) with said half-sister right there, expecting that instant connection? Not fair. Ripping into the guy for not taking it well? Beyond not fair.

4) Mystery half-brother is yelled at, threatened, and then extends a completely insane email invite to his half-sister, whom he still hasn’t met in person. What the what? And Ms. I-have-my-brand-new-dream-job considers it? What???

5) My brow is still furrowed from Madison’s and Knox’s friends’ pep talks toward the end. Were those really supposed to be helpful and supportive?

Sigh.

Still–such a strong start. Chemistry and cuteness all over the place! Set in one of my favorite places in the world! Madison’s a librarian! Jerry’s the butler I never knew I wanted!

Final verdict? I really do love all of these characters, and Ms. Barth’s writing has some truly funny moments throughout. It shouldn’t be too hard to put the crazy aside and look forward to book three–Logan’s story! (Giving It All: A Naked Men Novel)

Rating: 3 stars / C+

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
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New Release Review and Giveaway! WHEN I FOUND YOU by Kate James (K-9 Trilogy #3)

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When I Found You
(K-9 Trilogy #3)
by Kate James
Adult Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 365 pages
July 1st 2016 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Is she part of the solution…or the problem?

It could be a terrorist threat. Or is it some other sinister plot? An unprecedented rash of security breaches at San Diego’s international airport is putting passengers at risk and bringing the competence of the airport’s chief of security, Ariana Atkins, into question. With explosives the weapon of choice, police K-9 unit captain Logan O’Connor and his bomb detection dog, Boomer, might be Ariana’s best, if not only, line of defense. Logan is certain his belief in Ariana, and his growing love for her, aren’t misplaced…but it wouldn’t be the first time he’s misjudged someone’s intentions.

Review:

When I Found You was my first book from this author. It’s the third in her K-9 trilogy of books, but it worked okay as a standalone. If you have read the others, though, you’ll no doubt appreciate seeing the heroes and heroines from the first two books when they show up in this one.

I really enjoyed the insight that When I Found You gave into both the behind-the-scenes action in airport security and the work that K-9 bomb sniffing dogs do. Fascinating! The mystery was solid, and though I had a pretty good idea as the book went on who might be behind things and why, it wasn’t obvious. It was especially understandable that the people involved wouldn’t immediately suspect them either.

I loved Logan and his relationship with Boomer, his K-9 partner. Though they did make me look askance at my own not-so-well-behaved dog a few times while I was reading. (I know, I know–owner error, not dog. Yeah, yeah, yeah…)

The romance between Logan and Ariana was enjoyable, though Ariana’s tendency to believe the worst about Logan as a potential romantic partner was frustrating. I’ll admit that a few times things did look a little questionable, but it seemed like she consistently took the “he’s a cheater/player” view immediately without giving him any benefit of the doubt. Why? She didn’t seem to have any relationship drama in her past that would have affected her ability to trust him; one person telling her that he got his nickname because he has “moves like Jagger” without seeing any evidence of the same felt like a stretch. As a result, a lot of their relationship drama could have been resolved quickly or even prevented altogether with a bit more conversation, which was frustrating. Still, the ending was sweet and satisfying.

Rating: 3 stars / C+

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

When I Found You (K-9 Trilogy, #3)

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Other Books in the Series:

When the Right One Comes Along (K-9 Trilogy, #1)

When the Right One Comes Along
(K-9 Trilogy #1)
by Kate James
Adult Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 293 Pages
October 1st 2015 by Harlequin

Brought together by disaster. Kept together by love.

In the aftermath of a deadly earthquake, it’s chaos for trauma surgeon Jessica Hansen. Among the many victims, one patient stands out—San Diego Police K-9 search and rescue officer Cal Palmer.

Cal vows to help Kayla, a child orphaned by the disaster. But he needs Jessica’s help. Will their shared concern for Kayla and for Cal’s canine partner, Scout, allow them to put aside their personal torments and discover the difference love can make?

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When Love Matters Most (The K-9 Trilogy, #2)

When Love Matters Most
(K-9 Trilogy #2)
by Kate James
Adult Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 368 pages
January 1st 2016 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Keeping her safe at all costs

Could their backgrounds be any more different? Rick Vasquez, a K-9 unit sergeant with the San Diego Police Department, fled drug-related violence in Mexico as a boy. Madison Long, who recently became primary veterinarian to the SDPD’s canines, is the privileged daughter of a judge. Rick has dedicated his life to curtailing cross-border drug trafficking and preventing other young boys from being drawn into the dark world of the cartels.

But everything Rick and Madison value, and the growing love between them, is threatened by the dangers of Rick’s job, and the risks he’s determined to take…

Kate James spent much of her childhood abroad before attending university in Canada. She built a successful business career, but her passion has always been literature. As a result, Kate turned her energy to her love of the written word. Her writing has been recognized with a number of awards, including first place honors for Silver Linings in both the First Coast Romance Writers’ Published Beacon Contest and Ancient City Romance Authors’ Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Award. Her November 2014 Harlequin Heartwarming release, A Child’s Christmas, received first-place honors from Southern Magic, the Birmingham Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, for the 2015 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, placed second in the Ancient City Romance Authors’ Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Award, and was a finalist in RWA’s Desert Rose Chapter’s Golden Quill Award and the Colorado Romance Writers’ Award of Excellence. Finally, her October 2015 release, When the Right One Comes Along, the first book in her K-9 trilogy, has received a Best Book of 2015 award in the contemporary category.

She and her husband, Ken, enjoy traveling and the outdoors with their beloved Labrador Retrievers, Harley and Logan.

Kate would love to hear from you! You can connect with her by e-mail, through her website, her Facebook page, Twitter, or mail at PO Box 446, Schomberg, ON, L0G 1T0, Canada.

Tour Schedule:

July 6th: Katie’s Clean Book Collection, Thoughts of a Blonde & Slice of Life
July 7th: Getting Your Read On
July 8th: Becky on Books
July 10th: Christy’s Cozy Corners
July 11th: EskieMama Reads
July 11th: Brooke Blogs
July 12th: Rockin’ Book Reviews
July 12th: Wishful Endings
July 13th: Mel’s Shelves
July 14th: 23 Review Street & Hardcover Feedback
July 15th: deal sharing aunt
July 17th: underneath the covers & Falling Leaves
June 18th: Grand Finale

Tour Giveaway

US/CAN PRIZE PACK: one K-9 trilogy women’s T-shirt, tote bag and a mug, a signed copy of the award-winning first book in the trilogy, When the Right One Comes Along, a signed copy of The Truth About Hope, signed book plates and a bag of Tim Horton’s coffee.

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-Ends July 24th

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Top 5 Things You Don’t Know About Sawyer Anderson, Hero of Debbie Mason’s HAPPY EVER AFTER IN CHRISTMAS (with a New Release Review and giveaway!)

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Top 5 things you don’t know about Sawyer Anderson:

  1. Sawyer has been best friends with Jack Flaherty since they were twelve. An only child, Sawyer thinks of the Flaherty family as his own—including Jack’s baby sister Jill.
  2. Sawyer was an NHL superstar. He played for the Colorado Flurries for ten years before a dirty hit and severe concussion ended his career.
  3. Sawyer owns the local sports bar in the small town of Christmas, Colorado—the Penalty Box, and coaches the competitive midget hockey team.
  4. Sawyer has a soft spot for single mothers. His mother raised him on her own.
  5. When Jack was MIA for seventeen months, Sawyer fell in love with his best friend’s wife. Even though he didn’t act on his feelings, Sawyer nearly lost Jack’s friendship. He’ll never put their friendship at risk again.

AUTHOR INFORMATION:Debbie Mason CREDIT Debbie Mazzura

Debbie Mason is the bestselling author of the Christmas, Colorado series. Her books have been praised for their “likable characters, clever dialogue and juicy plots” (RT Book Reviews). She also writes historical paranormals as Debbie Mazzuca. Her MacLeod series has received several nominations for best paranormal as well as a Holt Medallion Award of Merit. When she isn’t writing or reading, Debbie enjoys spending time with her very own real-life hero, their four wonderful children, an adorable grandbaby, and a yappy Yorkie named Bella.

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Title:  Happy Ever After in Christmas
Author: Debbie Mason ”
Series: Christmas, Colorado #7
On Sale: June 28, 2016
Formats: Mass Market & eBook
Price: $5.99 USD

It’s beginning to look a lot like love . . .

As her thirtieth birthday approaches, deputy Jill Flaherty decides it’s time to live a little. When she walks into Sawyer Anderson’s bar in her sexiest dress, she’s not thinking that he’s her brother’s best friend or about the many women he dated during his years as a pro hockey player. All she’s thinking is that it’s finally time to confess to her longtime crush how she truly feels.

Sawyer is done being a player on and off the ice. Yet no one in the small town of Christmas seems to believe he’s ready to settle down, not Jill, and certainly not Jack, who is determined to keep Sawyer from breaking his little sister’s heart. But as Sawyer and Jill’s relationship heats up, can he prove that he’s her happy ever after?

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Review:

Where to start? So much was going on in this one…at times, a little too much. Talk about having to go through the wringer to get to your HEA–Jill and Sawyer definitely earned it, that’s for sure!

I picked this one up because of two things: 1) Sawyer’s an ex-NHL player and 2) best friend’s little sister troupe. Hockey players are my catnip, and I love the angst that BFLS stories can bring. On the second, this story did not disappoint, though that part of the conflict was resolved fairly early in the story and gave way for a whole lot of other angsty stuff. Maybe a bit too much? I’m still not sure how I feel about some of the directions this story went in.

On the hockey front, I did really like the scene early on where Jill was strong-armed into playing in the championship game against Sawyer and Jack’s team. I’m not sure it’s really plausible to do so well in your first game ever, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

I also loved Sawyer’s sabotaging of Jill’s dates. Very amusing…unless you’re Jill, of course. 😉

Some of the other plot diversions? Birth control mishaps, nursing home mysteries, ex-husband drama, former relationship angst, kidnapping, shoot-outs, predatory coworkers…the list goes on and on. I was starting to wonder what wasn’t going to happen to these two before we got to “the end”!

Not having read the rest of the series, having so many secondary characters involved in/invested in the story’s outcome did get a bit overwhelming at times. It was easy to keep track of Jack and Grace (Jill’s brother/SIL) and Brandi and Trent (Sawyer’s coworker and her son) but everyone else tended to blend together and leave me with a feeling of “now who is this person again…?” for at least a paragraph or two each time they show up. For series regulars, though, I have a feeling this story will be right up their alley–everyone’s in it, and it seems to wrap everything up nicely.

I enjoyed the HEA, and was beyond glad when we finally got to that point. It felt like a long and rambling journey at times, but ultimately all’s well that ends well, right?

Rating: 3 stars / C+

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

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THE FULL SERIES:

The Trouble With Christmas, #1

Christmas in July, #2

It Happened at Christmas, #3

Wedding Bells at Christmas, #4

Snowbound at Christmas, #5

Kiss Me In Christmas, #6

Happy Ever After in Christmas, #7

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New Release Review! FROM FAKE TO FOREVER by Jennifer Shirk

From Fake to Forever
by Jennifer Shirk

Synopsis:

Sandra Moyer’s preschool is struggling, so when her sister suggests allowing a super-famous actor to research his latest role there, she reluctantly agrees. Except the actor turns out to be Ben Capshaw—a playboy who’s never serious, always joking around, and who knows zero about kids or being a parent. Case in point: his involvement in the untimely death of the preschool’s class pet…

Ben is enjoying teaching more than he thought he would, but that doesn’t mean he’s looking for a permanent position. Sure, he’s ready for more serious movie roles and less goofing off, but the buttoned-up, beautiful Sandra and her young daughter are more than he bargained for. Plus, Sandra still won’t trust him—what if it’s all an act, research for the role? As the lines between make-believe and reality blur, Ben will have to decide if love is worth casting aside the role of his life for a new role…that could last a lifetime.

Review:

Cute and sweet, though somewhat problematic. (Like the big one: how will they manage a life together, with her a small-town preschool teacher and him a big-time movie actor? We don’t know, because it never came up.) I liked Ben and (tried hard to in the beginning and eventually manged the same with) Sandra, and they were definitely cute together, though it didn’t feel like we had enough story to get them both to a real HEA by the end. Her blowup at their “black moment” felt over the top and artificial.

Hannah, though, Sandra’s four-year-old? Totally adorable from start to finish. (Though I’m still kind of puzzled about her “bug” comment. Wouldn’t she have said the class pet’s name instead?)

From Fake to Forever is a reissue “enhanced with new material”, but I can’t help feeling like it’s still only about 2/3 of a story. More time, more answers, and more relationship would definitely help me to rate this one higher.

Rating: 3 stars / C

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Audiobook Review! KISSING MR. RIGHT by Michelle Major

Kissing Mr. Right
by Michelle Major

Synopsis:

Kendall Clark has always dreamed of anchoring the national news. The dedicated Denver journalist has worked hard to earn more than her fluff-piece reporting job. When she’s asked to star in an on-air dating show to increase her station’s ratings, she initially refuses…until she learns that participating will give her a shot at a national news-desk position in New York.

But nothing prepares Kendall for the dating show’s popularity—or for the laughable dates she’s forced to endure on camera. To complicate matters further, she’s falling hard for Tyler Bishop, the handsome scientist hired to consult on her first big news story. Ty soon finds himself equally smitten with Kendall and sets out to prove he’s her Mr. Right. But is there room in his quiet life for a woman with such a public image? And when Kendall’s integrity is questioned, will she choose her dream job or her dream man?

Review:

OMG, Kendall was one aggravating heroine! I wanted to take her list, the chip on her shoulder, and her total tendency toward drama and…well, do something very unladylike with them. I have no idea why Ty stayed with her as long as he did, because he was a stellar hero (until the end, when he absolutely lost it–I guess that makes them made for each other?)

I really, really wanted to like this one, but with Ken’s TSTL mentality I ended up rolling my eyes at the story more often than not. I did like the secondary characters a bit more (Jenny, Ty’s best friend and coworker and Sam and Chloe, Kendall’s BFFs–who she had no qualms whatsoever about leaving behind while she went to live her dream); stories about them might tempt me to give the author another try. There were some amusing moments between the eye-rolling ones…

The narration was decent–pleasant enough, but  nothing that would have me going out of my way looking for more by her to listen to, but nothing that would make me hesitate to listen to it because of her either.

Rating: 3 stars / C

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New Release Review and Giveaway! THE DEAL WITH LOVE (One-on-One #3)

About the Book:

When filmmaker Christian Monroe runs into fiery—and frustrating—Elise Templeton at a party, the night quickly becomes the hottest one-night stand of their lives. But then her boss hires Christian to make a publicity film about Elise, and suddenly they’re in each other’s space. All day. Every day. And things are getting hotter…

Outside the bedroom, the two have nothing in common. Elise is focused solely on becoming the NBA’s first female general manager. And Christian learned long ago that being a work-a-holic—or being with one—is a recipe for disaster.

But the more Elise reveals her deepest desires and fears to Christian—something she’s done for no man, ever—the more Christian wonders how much longer he can keep his hands off the infuriating woman who rocked his world…

Excerpt:

“I suppose since I was distracted, you can be forgiven for using the cheesiest pick-up line known to mankind.”

Shifting on the leather seat, she crossed her right leg over her knee. His gaze flickered down briefly to where a slice of her thigh had been revealed, thanks to the split in her dress. She noticed the small flare of heat in his eyes, though quickly banked. What surprised her was the flickering in her body. Lately, she’d been much too busy to think about her physical needs.

The cheesiest?” He wrinkled his nose. “I’m sure if I thought about it for a second, I could come up with something much cheesier.”

She would not chuckle and encourage him. She didn’t have time for any entanglements. Though getting entangled with this guy, whoever he was, between the sheets would almost certainly be no hardship. It was a battle, but she kept the laughter from spilling out. “I’ll take your word for it.”

He grinned again. “As you should.”

She shook her head and studied him, still trying to place him. One of Brady’s childhood buddies, maybe? Had he come to a game?

His eyes narrowed. “You have no clue who I am, do you?”

Elise winced. Oops. Busted. “What’s the best way to answer that without offending you?”

His lips cracked, revealing even, white teeth. “No worries. I’m Christian Monroe.”

That’s right. Caitlin’s brother. A memory tickled her brain. She had met him once briefly, probably after a game. She must have been too busy with work—the story of her life— at the time to pay much attention to him. Which, if she was being honest with herself, was seriously embarrassing because Christian Monroe had “hard man to forget” written all over him.

He looked good. Exceptionally so. But wasn’t a man in a well-tailored suit always a safe bet to capture a woman’s interest? Lord knew the style revved her engines. But it wasn’t only his clothes that gave him an air of hotness. No, the man was handsome. Confident. Two other things she found damn near irresistible. If for the night only.

She nodded. “Of course. Sorry about that. Nice to see you again.”

“Pleasure’s all mine.”

Good Lord. The man’s voice. Deep and rumbly and everything yes. But no, Christian Monroe was off-limits. No matter how much his full lips, dark slashes of eyebrows, muscular thighs, milk-chocolate eyes, and wide shoulders appealed.

 

Review:

Elise is the first female GM to a major league sports team–I loved that! Sure, her father owns the NBA Dallas Stampede, but she’s worked her way up–originally working for another team and then doing time as the assistant GM first. She gets the job, but she’s got a legion of the team’s fans to win over, and worse yet, her dad can’t seem to trust her to do the toughest parts of the job without his “help”.

So, yeah. A guy? she doesn’t have time for this..

But Christian’s not taking “no” for an answer–and when he’s asked to spend a week filming Elise on the job for a documentary at NBA,com, he manages to chip away at Elise’s determination, especially since their one night stand still haunts them both.

I loved Elise! She was a great character, and every time her dad undermined what she was doing just broke my heart. I wasn’t sure how she’d be able to get him to stop. Christian was a bit tougher–he had a tendency to criticize Elise for doing her job (because, yeah–sometimes her GM duties are going to have to come before the career day volunteering she promised to do. She a GM! In the freaking NBA!) and to have a “it’s my way or the highway” mentality that was frustrating to read, let alone how it must have made others feel. He makes up for a lot of his a$$hattery at the end, but still.

This was the third in the series, but it worked just fine as a standalone. It was my first from this author, who I’d definitely read again.

Rating: 3 stars / C

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Deal with Love
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Meet Jamie:

Jamie Wesley has been reading romance novels since she was about 12 when her mother left a romance novel, which a friend had given her, on the nightstand. Jamie read it instead, and the rest is history. She started her first manuscript, a contemporary romance, after she graduated from Northwestern University in 2002 and couldn’t find a job. Life got in the way as it often does, i.e. she found a job, and she didn’t finish the story. However, she never forgot about it and finally got serious about completing it in 2009. She’s been writing ever since. Jamie holds a master’s degree in sport management (yes, that’s a real thing 🙂 ) from the University of Texas at Austin, so it probably comes as no surprise that she loves sports and spends an inordinate amount of time rooting for her hometown Dallas’s pro sports teams and her alma maters. She also adores Walt Disney World, shopping, and pop culture. Want to know if your favorite TV show is going to be canceled or what the newest Disney attraction is? Ask Jamie. She’ll probably know the answer.

Connect with Jamie: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway:

  • One Winner will receive a $50 Zappos Gift Card
  • One Winner will receive an eBook set of first two books in the One-On-One Series (Tell Me Something Good and Slamdunked By Love)

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