New Release Review! THE THING ABOUT LOVE by Julie James


The Thing About Love

by Julie James

Synopsis:

Two undercover FBI agents can hide who they are from everyone but each other in the latest novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Suddenly One Summer

FBI agents Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd have a past. The former lawyer and cocky Army ranger clashed during their training at Quantico, gladly going their separate ways after graduating from the Academy. Six years later, the last thing either of them expects is to run into each other again–assigned to work as partners in a high-profile undercover sting.

For both of them, being paired with a former rival couldn’t come at a worse time. Recently divorced from a Hollywood producer and looking for a fresh start, Jessica is eager to prove herself at her new field office. And John is just one case away from his dream assignment to the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team. In order to nail a corrupt Florida politician, they’ll have to find a way to work as a team–a task that becomes even trickier when they’re forced to hole up at a romantic, beachfront resort as part of the investigation. Suddenly, the heat behind their nonstop sparring threatens to make the job a whole lot more complicated. . .

 

Review:

OMG, absolutely loved. Julie James hasn’t written anything I haven’t liked, but this one? Blew all of the others out of the water! The dynamic between Jessica and John was fantastic, whether they were in their earlier antagonistic phase (or was it antagonistic? Poor John, LOL) or their reluctant let’s-make-the-best-of-this-for-the-op phase, or their OMG these two are setting the pages on fire phase, they are absolutely fantastic together. This time they’re both FBI, and the case they’re working on is “just work” instead of one of them being personally involved, but that doesn’t make the suspense any less or involve the readers to a lesser degree. At one point, I actually gasped out loud when Jessica and John’s covers were threatened, and when Jessica does in her attempt to get home to see John one last time? O. M. F-ing G. It was almost too much. But soooooo good.

If you like romantic suspense that’s high on the romance and snark and does a darn good job with the suspense too, you can’t go wrong with Julie James!

(I got a NetGalley copy, but actually listened to the audio from Audible because I love the narrator. She does a fantastic job every time–definitely worth the expense!)

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

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Audiobook Review and Giveaway! GOLD RUSH by Jennifer Comeaux

Gold Rush
by Jennifer Comeaux
Genre: YA Romance
Release Date: January 9th 2017

Summary:

Liza Petrov’s entire life has been about skating and winning her sport’s top prize – Olympic gold. She’s stayed sheltered inside her bubble, not daring to stray from her destined path.

Until she meets Braden Patrick.

He makes her heart flutter with possibility, and for the first time she gets a taste of a normal teenage life. She longs to have both the boy and the gold, but stepping outside her bubble comes with a price. As Liza begins to question both her future and her past, can she stay focused on the present and realize her ultimate dream?

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Excerpt:

“Hey, Liza.”

I looked up directly into the smiling face of Braden. He was holding the raffle bucket, and a Sox player stood beside him. I was so unprepared to see him that I couldn’t even get a “hello” to come out of my mouth.

“Would you like to buy a raffle ticket?” he asked.

I felt weird having him talk down to me while I sat, so I sprang to my feet. “Hi. Umm… yeah, I’ll take a couple.”

“Cool. How many?”

I bent to get my wallet and pulled out a five dollar bill. “As many as this will get me?”

The player tore a strip of tickets from the big roll and gave them to Braden before moving on to solicit Em and Dad, who were watching Braden and me with rapt attention. Braden set the bucket down and slowly separated my part of the tickets. Now that there wasn’t a counter between us, I could see his full physique better. The top of my head only reached his chin, so he had to be more than half a foot taller than me. He had a slender build, but he wasn’t scrawny. The short sleeves of his polo showed nicely-defined biceps.

“I remember you,” Quinn said.

Braden laughed. “I remember you, too.”

Quinn might also remember Holly and me discussing Braden’s date potential. I quickly stepped between them so Quinn couldn’t see him.

“I thought you worked concessions,” I said.

“I’m an intern, so I go wherever they tell me. I like doing the raffle better because I get to see more people.”

His eyes held steady on mine in the I’m-only-looking-at-you way they’d done at the concession stand. How was I supposed to come up with witty conversation when my heart was pitter-pattering so loudly I couldn’t even think?

“Were you going to visit me at the concession stand? I’m still waiting for my autograph.” He cocked his head with a sly grin.

“Oh… yeah. I’m sorry. I wasn’t sure if you were really serious.”

“I definitely was. I’ve never met anyone as talented as you. I watched a video of you at the world championships, and you were incredible.”

“You Googled me?”

“What kind of twenty-first century guy would I be if I didn’t?”

I had to break away from his gaze because I felt redness taking over my face. If only I could be incredible and confident right now.

Review:

Such a fun and sweet story!

Even though I can barely stop on skates without an assist from the wall around the rink (this is normal, yes?), for as long as I can remember (every 4 years during the Olympics, at a minimum ;)) I’ ve dreamed of being an ice skater. (Also normal, yes? Everyone plans out skating routines while listening to instrumental music, right? Right??)

So the chance to read a book from the POV of a slightly socially-awkward ice skating Olympic (hopefully) superstar? Sign me up!

I loved both Liza and Braden. Whether it was the beginning, when she practically ran from his flirtiness at the baseball game, when they were going on their first dates, or when they were trying to be just friends (because of her parents and her need to give everything to her skating during the Olympic season), they were just great together. Plus, how many guys will back off immediately when the girl they like tells them they have to devote themselves to their sport instead of dating and be willing to hang out indefinitely in the friend zone in the hopes of someday? (I’m hoping that there are actual guys who will fit that description out there, and not just (darn–is he really just) fictional Braden…)

It was fun seeing the behind-the-scenes life of a top level figure skater–their day-to-day life, training, and competitions–and the fact that Liza reads and writes romantic fiction in her spare time just made me love her even more 🙂

I know I’ll definitely have this book and its characters on my mind the next Winter Olympics…and not just those of The Cutting Edge as per usual… 😉

The audiobook version was nicely done–the narrator has a pleasant voice, and does a great job narrating the story. I’d definitely listen to something else performed by her in the future, even if no figure skating is involved.

Though, hopefully, figure skating will be involved…

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

 

About the Author:

Jennifer Comeaux is a tax accountant by day, writer by night. There aren’t any ice rinks near her home in south Louisiana, but she’s a diehard figure skating fan and loves to write stories of romance set in the world of competitive skating. One of her favorite pastimes is travelling to competitions, where she can experience all the glitz and drama that inspire her writing. Jennifer loves to hear from readers! Visit jennifercomeaux.blogspot.com for contact information and to learn more about her books.

 

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New Release Review: THE OTHER EINSTEIN by Marie Benedict


The Other Einstein

by Marie Benedict

Synopsis:

A vivid and mesmerizing novel about the extraordinary woman who married and worked with one of the greatest scientists in history.

What secrets may have lurked in the shadows of Albert Einstein’s fame? His first wife, Mileva “Mitza” Marić, was more than the devoted mother of their three children—she was also a brilliant physicist in her own right, and her contributions to the special theory of relativity have been hotly debated for more than a century.

In 1896, the extraordinarily gifted Mileva is the only woman studying physics at an elite school in Zürich. There, she falls for charismatic fellow student Albert Einstein, who promises to treat her as an equal in both love and science. But as Albert’s fame grows, so too does Mileva’s worry that her light will be lost in her husband’s shadow forever.

A literary historical in the tradition of The Paris Wife and Mrs. Poe, The Other Einstein reveals a complicated partnership that is as fascinating as it is troubling.

Review:

Marie Benedict’s The Other Einstein was a fascinating read, and one that is significantly adding to my TBR pile–with nonfiction, for a change! (Lots of great suggestions in the author’s note at the end–thanks, Ms. Benedict!)

The author freely admits that her book is a fictionalization of Mileva Maric Einstein’s life and that she makes use of much speculation (especially with regards to exactly how much of a contribution the first Mrs. Einstein made to her husband’s famous Theory of Relativity–I’d love to think that her version is the truth, but it’s probably a bit of a stretch and I doubt it could ever be proved), and as such I kind of hoped that Albert wasn’t as much of a, well, b@stard as he seems to be in the book. Though I can still hope that at least one pretty jarring scene is completely fictional, Princeton University has been kind enough to publish volumes of Einstein’s writings and correspondence and their English translations online, and I’ve now read the memorandum myself that made me gasp out loud when I read that part of the book (18 July 1014, Memorandum to Mileva Einstein-Maric, with comments in Volume 8–but don’t read it until after you’ve read the book!) and then the next few letters after that one, and…just whoa. I’m not sure I’ll ever hear the name “Albert Einstein” again and be able to think purely happy thoughts about him. How can a man be so scientifically brilliant and so spectacularly not brilliant in his personal life?

(Interesting side note from the letters, not the book, since Mileva wouldn’t have known this: Albert wouldn’t let his second wife/cousin(!) Elsa be there when he spent time with his sons from his first marriage, because “it is not right to have the children see their father with a woman other than their own mother” yet he had no such scruples about divorcee Elsa’s children from her first marriage spending time with their mother and a man who wasn’t their own father…double-standard much? Oh, and just to really make it next to impossible to look up to him as a father figure and husband–he apparently briefly considered proposing to Elsa’s 20-year-old daughter Ilsa instead… Yeah. He’s a prince among men. But a brilliant scientist.)

Anyway.

Though the story was a bit slow in parts, overall I quite enjoyed it. I look forward to both reading more about Mileva (and her children!) and more from Ms. Benedict in the future.

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.


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Audiobook Review! HOME ICE by Catherine Gayle (A Portland Storm novella)

Home Ice
by Catherine Gayle

Synopsis:

Tough-as-nails Portland Storm head coach Mattias Bergstrom is hard on his players, molding them into heroes on the ice. He’d never let them see his warm, soft side—something he saves only for his younger sister, who has special needs. But when a hockey event brings a sexy, single mother and her four rambunctious daughters into his life, that icy exterior quickly melts away for her youngest, who reminds him of his dear sister.

Paige Calhoun has her hands full with four teenage daughters who are beyond boy crazy. Throw crushes on hockey players into the mix, and they’re almost too much to handle. But when Paige meets the Storm’s all-business but irresistible coach, she finds herself as smitten as her girls, and Mattias couldn’t be happier. With a Home Ice advantage, Mattias lets his icy exterior melt away to prove to Paige how hot they can be together.

 

Review:

Such a sweet story!

This is actually the first in the series that I’ve read–I picked up the audio version recently, and when I needed a quick read to fill some spare time I decided to give it a try. I’ll definitely be backing up and reading some of the earlier ones now…and undoubtedly later ones too 🙂

Realistic characters, sweet romance, fantastic portrayal and treatment of a special needs child and hockey. What more do you need?

(Okay, so she had me at “hockey” and “romance”. Really, the rest was just icing on the cake. ;))

The narrator did an adequate job–she’ll probably never make my top ten list, but she did a nice job of changing her voice just enough depending on whether it was Mattias or Paige’s POV that it was easy to keep track of, even if I had to stop listening mid-section and come back to it later.

Rating: 4 stars / B+

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Audiobook Review! THE GIRLS OF MURDER CITY: FAME, LOVE, AND THE BEAUTIFUL KILLERS WHO INSPIRED CHICAGO by Douglas Perry

The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers who Inspired Chicago
by Douglas Perry

 

Synopsis:

The true story of the murderesses who became media sensations and inspired the musical Chicago

Chicago, 1924.

There was nothing surprising about men turning up dead in the Second City. Life was cheaper than a quart of illicit gin in the gangland capital of the world. But two murders that spring were special – worthy of celebration. So believed Maurine Watkins, a wanna-be playwright and a “girl reporter” for the Chicago Tribune, the city’s “hanging paper.” Newspaperwomen were supposed to write about clubs, cooking and clothes, but the intrepid Miss Watkins, a minister’s daughter from a small town, zeroed in on murderers instead. Looking for subjects to turn into a play, she would make “Stylish Belva” Gaertner and “Beautiful Beulah” Annan – both of whom had brazenly shot down their lovers – the talk of the town. Love-struck men sent flowers to the jail and newly emancipated women sent impassioned letters to the newspapers. Soon more than a dozen women preened and strutted on “Murderesses’ Row” as they awaited trial, desperate for the same attention that was being lavished on Maurine Watkins’s favorites.

In the tradition of Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City and Karen Abbott’s Sin in the Second City, Douglas Perry vividly captures Jazz Age Chicago and the sensationalized circus atmosphere that gave rise to the concept of the celebrity criminal. Fueled by rich period detail and enlivened by a cast of characters who seemed destined for the stage, The Girls of Murder City is crackling social history that simultaneously presents the freewheeling spirit of the age and its sober repercussions.

Review:

I recommend this book if you like Chicago and/or true crime–if you like both, then you definitely should read it! I had no idea that the musical was 1) based so closely on actual events or 2) adapted from a play written in the 1920s by a reporter who witnessed and reported on the events and trials herself.

Too cool! And fascinating, in a train wreck, I-can’t-believe-this-really-happened kind of way.

Not to mention aggravating–if you were pretty enough (or figured out how to dress better and do your hair and makeup on time to make a difference in front of the all-male jury) you literally could get away with murder in Chicago. If you were “ugly”, not originally from America, or not white, however? There was a good chance you would not only be convicted, but you could get the death penalty.

Yeah. Justice.

My only complaint about the book? I listened to it on audio (the recording itself very well done–narrator did a great job) and it was a little hard to keep track of all the people discussed as the story went on. There are so, so many people in the story, murderesses and others. I seriously needed a cheat sheet. Fortunately I listened to it with Mini Moe #2 and we managed to help each other (mostly) keep everyone straight. I just might have to check the book out of the library, though, just to double check who is who again (and look for pictures… ;))

Rating: 4 stars / B+

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Marie Force’s FATAL Series–FATAL FLAW (#4) Review, FATAL IDENTITY (#10) Spotlight, and Giveaway!

I’ve let the FATAL series get away from me–I just finished book 4, and 10 comes out this month–so I’m pretty sure a binge listen session is in order!

Binge-worthy summer image Fatal series

Marie Force’s FATAL Series

Check out on Marie’s website

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Fatal Flaw (Fatal #4)
By Marie Force

Synopsis:

Back from their honeymoon, Senator Nick Cappuano and D.C. Police Lieutenant Sam Holland are ready for some normalcy after the whirlwind of their wedding, but someone has other plans for them. When Sam discovers wedding cards containing thinly veiled death threats, she’s not sure if she or Nick is the target.

Already on edge, Sam and her team start investigating a series of baffling murders. The victims are well-liked with no known enemies, and the murders are carried out in a clean and efficient manner. Unable to find a clear motive for the deaths, she feels like she’s chasing her tail.

With no obvious connection between the victims, Sam soon suspects that she may be the ultimate prize in the killer’s clever game. When the danger starts to hit a little too close to home, she has two goals: find the elusive murderer and manage to live long enough to enjoy her happily ever after.

Review:

Sam and Nick are finally married–yay! Back from their honeymoon, they’re looking forward to settling in to their new lives together…sort of. Naturally, staying in Bora Bora would have been ideal, but being back in D.C. has its charms too, right?

Right???

Of course it does, though when you’re a homicide detective, things can get a little dicey. When you’re a homicide detective who’s just married a U.S. Senator and therefore become one of the newest “It” couples, things get even more complicated. And when your first call comes in just minutes after midnight on your first day back? You know it’s gonna be one heck of a welcome home. And probably not the kind you were hoping for.

It was great to get back to the world of Sam and Nick in Fatal Flaw–they are one of my favorite recurring couples, and the series’ secondary characters can be just as fun. As usual, there’s a whole lot going on in book 4–Sam’s dad has some health issues, Freddie (her partner) is torn between his mother and his new girlfriend, Jeannie (another department detective) is still reeling from a devastating event earlier in the series, Terry (Nick’s chief of staff) and Lindsey (the ME) might be starting a relationship. Sam and Nick have gotten a crazy number of wedding mail (some of which is decidedly threatening)…oh, yeah, and the homicides are starting to pile up almost as fast as the mail is coming in. The murders don’t appear to be related–or are they?

With so much going on with all the characters and so many murders to solve, the pages practically turned themselves with this one! We don’t quite have all the information we need to figure out the link between the murders ourselves, but that’s okay–it all makes sense in the end. I’m still not entirely convinced that the way in which Sam went about trying to snag the killer would have really been okayed by real-life police commanders, but it sure made for some exciting reading anyway. I loved getting caught up with all of my favorite characters, and can’t wait to continue with the rest of the series.

I really wouldn’t recommend starting the series with this one–there’s a whole lot here that hinges on earlier events in other books. (Even though I have read #s 1-3, it had been a while and at times I wished I had a cheat sheet to get myself back up to speed. Most of it came back to me pretty quickly, though.) This is book 4 out of 10, so starting from the first book shouldn’t add too much to your TBR (because if you’re like me, 4 more to 1500+ is just a drop in the bucket, really) if the series is totally new to you. Plus, this series would be a great one for a summer binge read!

Just sayin’ 🙂

Rating: 4 stars / B+

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

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Release date 7/26–Sam and Nick’s latest adventure!

Fatal Identity

As the first anniversary of her marriage to Vice President Nick Cappuano approaches, Lieutenant Sam Holland is dreaming of Bora Bora—sun, sand and a desperately needed break from the DC grind. But real life has a way of intervening, and Sam soon finds herself taking on one of the most perplexing cases of her career.

Government worker Josh Hamilton begs Sam to investigate his shocking claim that his parents stole him from another family thirty years ago. More complicated still, his “father” is none other than the FBI director. When a member of Josh’s family is brutally murdered, Sam begins to question how deep this cover-up goes. Is it possible the revered director was part of a baby-napping ring and that others involved are also targets?

With a killer intent on deadly revenge and her team still reeling from a devastating loss, Sam’s plate is full—and when Nick and their son, Scotty, take ill, is her dream of a tropical anniversary celebration in peril too?

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Read the book that started it all:

Fatal Affair

Washington, D.C., Metro Police Detective Sergeant Sam Holland needs a big win to salvage her career–and her confidence–after a disastrous investigation. The perfect opportunity arises when Senator John O’Connor is found brutally murdered in his bed, and Sam is assigned to the case. Matters get complicated when Sam has to team up with Nick Cappuano, O’Connor’s friend and chief of staff…and the man Sam had a memorable one-night stand with years earlier. Their sexual chemistry still sizzles, and Sam has to fight to stay focused on the case. Sleeping with a material witness is another mistake she can’t afford–especially when the bodies keep piling up.

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Marie Force

Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of 50 contemporary romances, including the Gansett Island Series, which has sold more than 2.3 million books, and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books, which has sold more than 1.2 million books. In addition, she is the author of the Green Mountain Series as well as the erotic romance Quantum Series, written under the slightly modified name of M.S. Force.  All together, her books have sold more than 5 million copies worldwide!
Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.
Join Marie’s mailing list on her website at marieforce.com for news about new books and upcoming appearances in your area. Follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/MarieForceAuthor, on Twitter @marieforce and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/marieforceauthor/. Contact Marie at marie@marieforce.com.

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Audiobook Box Set Review and Giveaway! SCOTTISH WEREBEAR series #1-3 by Lorelei Moone

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Scottish Werebear: A Collection of BBW Bear Shifter Romances
by Lorelei Moone
Scottish Werebear #1-3
Publication Date: June 16, 2016
Genres: Adult, Paranormal Romance, Audiobook, Shifters, BBW

Synopsis: 3 for the price of 2: For the first time ever, a handy collection of the first three novellas in the Scottish Werebears series. Titles include: An Unexpected Affair, A Dangerous Business and A Forbidden Love.

Scottish Werebears: An Unexpected Affair
When romance novelist, Clarice Adler, hides herself away in a secluded holiday cottage to finish a book, the last thing she needs is another relationship. Imagine her surprise when she falls head over heels for the man who runs the place. Derek McMillan knows Clarice is his mate, but he’s a bear shifter and she’s human and the two simply don’t mix. They are literally worlds apart; can they find a way to come together?

Scottish Werebears: A Dangerous Business
As part of the Alliance, bear shifter Aidan McMillan is hunting the Sons of Domnall, a secret society of humans sworn to destroy all shifters. Along comes Heidi Blackwood, his fated mate, and it suddenly becomes nearly impossible to focus on the job.

Scottish Werebears: A Forbidden Love
Alison Campbell has been told that shifters are evil and the world would be a better place without them. In her efforts to infiltrate the Alliance to gather intel for The Sons of Domnall, she comes across Jamie Abbott, bear shifter and Alliance leader, who doesn’t seem so bad at all. In fact, he seems to be all her heart desires and the feeling is mutual. Where will her loyalties lie when it becomes time to pick a side once and for all?

 

 

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An Unexpected Affair (Scottish Werebear #1) Cover

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Review:

The first three stories of the Scottish Werebear series take place concurrently–book one back at the isolated McMillan farm, and books two and three in Edinburgh.

Scottish Werebears: An Unexpected Affair was my favorite of the three. It introduced the world of the shifters in the series, which we learn about alongside Clarise (one of the book’s two non-shifting main characters, and the only American). Most of the drama of the shifter-hunting society is saved for the next two in the series, though we do sense a bit of what’s going on through the drama that it becomes clear that Derek’s brother is dealing with.

As in all three books, Clarise and Derek’s story is one of opposites attracting. The American human and Scottish werebear farmer are both attracted to each other from the first, though she assumes he’s married (he leaves her baked goods, which she attributes to the “farmer’s wife” and he doesn’t correct her) and he is certain that attraction or no, he could never be with a human. An accident soon brings them together, and they no longer can deny what is happening between them. What will they do? 4 stars / B

Scottish Werebears: A Dangerous Business is the story of Derek’s brother Aiden, who left the family farm years ago to discover the truth about their parents’ deaths. As a part of the Alliance, a group dedicated to protecting the shifter populations from the Sons of Domnall, a neo-Nazi-style hate group that wants to wipe them all off the face of the planet, he meets Heidi, a werewolf and…his fated mate. How can this be?

I enjoyed watching Aiden and Heidi struggle with their feelings (though shouldn’t she have figured out sooner that Aiden and Jamie were different species? That part seemed odd) and the drama and excitement of their encounter with the Sons. I was hoping against hope that Auden’d not only find the answers he was looking for but also an HEA with Heidi, despite their differences. 3 1/2 stars / B-

Scottish Werebears: A Forbidden Love is Jamie (Aiden’s boss at the alliance) and Alison’s (the daughter of the leader of the Sons!) story. Of the three, its plot definitely seemed to offer the most drama–the two are supposed to be sworn enemies! Plus, we find out that Alison played a part in an earlier tragedy in Jamie’s life. Obviously these two are going to have to work the hardest to find their HEA, right?

Well…maybe. Alison comes over a little too quickly to the other side, it feels like, mainly due to the power of being the mate of a shifter. I really wanted a bit more drama there. I was also amazed that Jamie wasn’t more concerned with finding his brother once he knew it was a possibility, since his disappearance from the beach all those years ago was a big part the reason he was now doing what he did. Though possibly Ms. Moone was just saving it for a future series book? 3 stars / C

The audio for all three were well done, except that for three books taking place entirely in Scotland and peopled by Scottish people (except for Clarice) why is it that the owner of the store she visits on her first day in the country is the only one who speaks with an accent? As an accent lover, that part was on the disappointing side…

Still, Ms. Moone has created an interesting world here (even if the idea of shifter mates is used a bit liberally to explain instalove times three), one I’d be more than willing to visit again!

Overall rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+

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

ABOUT LORELEI MOONE:
Lorelei Moone

Lorelei Moone is an up-and-coming author of paranormal romance based in London. Her first book, Scottish Werebear: An Unexpected Affair has hit the virtual shelves on Amazon on 25 September 2015, and her second, Scottish Werebear: A Dangerous Business a month later on the 25th of October. A lover of all things sweet, and caffeinated, when she’s not writing about sexy bear shifters and their strong-willed curvaceous love interests, Lorelei can be found baking cookies or cakes for her family.

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Audiobook Release Blitz and Giveaways! Sheltered in His Arms by Tara Taylor Quinn (Shelter Valley Stories #4)

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Welcome to the Audiobook Release Blitz for
Sheltered in His Arms
By Tara Taylor Quinn

About the Audiobook Release

I’m an avid reader. And with my 75th book publishing in a few days, I’m an avid writer, too. And yet there was one aspect of storytelling to which I was completely ignorant. Absent. I didn’t get it. The world of audiobooks.

And then, a few years ago, I was given a free audiobook from one of my favorite authors. I put it on iPod more to be polite than anything else. The book was a gift, I’d listen out of respect. Then, I figured, I’d go buy the book and read it so that I could get my full enjoyment out of the story.

That didn’t happen. Instead, as happens so many times in my life, my ignorance turned to understanding. And an entire new world opened up to me. I’d planned to listen to a few words on my daily commute and then switch to the music that always saw me safely down the road. Imagine my conundrum when, for that whole week, all I wanted to do was commute! I couldn’t wait to get in the car and get back to my friends.

And now, this week, I have the honor of bringing you one of my own books in audio format! Sheltered In His Arms is a unique story. It’s about a man who made a huge mistake. It’s about the people he loves. The people who once loved him. And it’s about healing. I hope you’ll give it a listen! I personally chose the narrator based on audition recordings and she does a great job. I promise friends to sit in the car with you as you get to where you need to be!

—TTQ

Sheltered in His Arms
(Shelter Valley Stories #4)
by Tara Taylor Quinn
Adult Contemporary Romance
Paperback, Audiobook & ebook, 299 pages
April 1st 2001 by Harlequin

Sam Montford left Shelter Valley ten years ago. He’s a direct descendant of the town’s founder, the first Samuel Montford, and for him, Shelter Valley’s expectations had become oppressive. Home had become smothering instead of sheltering.

Sam returns to the town–and to his ex-wife, Cassie Tate–with a seven-year-old child. This is a complete shock to Cassie. When Sam left, he hadn’t known she was pregnant. Or that she had lost their baby.

Sam’s back in Shelter Valley now, back to stay. But he refuses to become the man people expected him to be ten years ago. Can he be the man Cassie needs now?

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About the Author:

The author of more than 70 original novels, in twenty languages, Tara Taylor Quinn is a USA Today bestseller with over six million copies sold. A 2015 RITA finalist Tara appears frequently on bestseller lists, including #1 placement on Amazon lists, and multiple showings on the Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller list. She has appeared on national and local TV across the country, including CBS Sunday Morning.

Tara is a supporter of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. If you or someone you know might be a victim of domestic violence in the United States, please contact 1-800-799-7233.

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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 (Audiobook) Review! ELIGIBLE by Curtis Sittenfeld (The Austen Project #4–a P&P retelling)

Eligible
by Curtis Sittenfeld

 

Synopsis:

A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice

This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . .

And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.

Review:

I know, I know–I’m a total sucker for Jane Austen remakes. It’s like a compulsion. Even though P&P isn’t my favorite of hers (hello, Persuasion!) I do love it, and I seem to be particularly drawn to its modern interpretations (Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, Epic Fail; I could go on and on and on, but that’s not the point of this review.) It was pretty much a forgone conclusion that I was going to read Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, even if the publisher wouldn’t approve my request on Edelweiss. (They didn’t say no, for the record–they just ignored my request.)

Anyway. I waited until it came out and picked up the audiobook instead with an Audible credit.

There were things I liked a lot in this one–that Darcy is a brain surgeon, for one, and the way in which the reality TV dating show “Eligible” was used to move the plot along (and LOL to Lydia’s observation–“It’s called reality TV. It’s not called true TV.” True that, sister.) It made sense to me that if the threat of “spinsterdom” was going to be played up, that the sisters would need to be older than in the original (Jane turns 40, Liz is 38). Even though her role is absolutely nothing like the one in any other P&P version anywhere–including (especially?) the original, I did like this version of Catherine De Bourgh the character. (Though why does she have absolutely no connection to Darcy at all in this rendition? It was like the author just wanted to get her name in there somewhere and that’s how she did it. Odd.) Ms. Sittenfeld did a nice job of showing Bingley’s chronic indecisiveness, and the ending of Lizzie and Darcy’s part of the story was absolutely delightful.

Then there were the things that bothered me–Lydia’s crisis, for one, did not at all have the urgency or impact of the original version. It pretty much left me with a “that’s it?” impression. Ditto the event that put Darcy and the Wickham-type character at odds with each other. Don’t get me wrong, what Jasper does isn’t nice, and he definitely deserved the consequences he received, but the oomph of the original transgression? It’s not there at all. (And why is he called Jasper Wick when pretty much everybody else keeps their whole names from the original–even poor Fitzwilliam? And don’t get me started on Bingley’s first name–Chip. Chip.) A text from Darcy’s sister Georgiana causes Liz some heartache at one point, and I’m still not sure what Georgie meant by one part of it (the bit about feeling awkward about their conversation)–I get what the text’s role in the plot was, but what Georgie really was trying to say there? I have no idea.

Plus. I’m still not sure how I feel about Lizzie and Darcy engaging in “hate sex”.

A whole lot of issues were thrown at us throughout the book–interracial dating, transgender issues, feminism, bigotry, antisemitism, racism (and whatever the proper label would be for Mary’s sexual identity; I think I know what it is, but don’t want to spoil anything here)–that felt more as if they were there just for the sake of being trendy and modern than because they were needed for the sake of the plot and story. And the incredibly short chapters as the book went on? I felt like I was reading a James Patterson novel.

Although the vocabulary definitely wasn’t JP-worthy. There were many TingoEd vocabulary video alums (“supercilious” is one that sticks out, probably because I used that video in my classes. A lot. Check it out, it’s entertaining), and quite a few other words that probably should have videos on that channel. At times it kind of felt like I was reading a book that wanted to advertise itself as a SAT or GRE vocabulary-prep text.

Sometimes it’s really okay to use the simpler words, even when you have an impressive vocabulary.

So…was it worth the read? Yes, I think so. Overall I did enjoy it. It *is* P&P, after all. And Charlotte did not get turned into a zombie, which can’t be seen as anything but a plus in my book. Will I read another book by the author? Maybe. The jury’s still out on that one.

The narrator did a good job with the audio–she has a pleasing voice, did a decent differentiation for male vs female characters, and the flow was good. I don’t think I’ve listened to anything else by the narrator, but I definitely would in the future.

I struggled with rating this one–at times it was am absolute 3 stars, occasionally it veered into 4 territory, and some things that bothered me initially did so less as time went on, so…I think we’re left with a solid 3 1/2 stars.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+

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