New Release Review! SOMEONE TO HOLD by Mary Balogh (Westcotts #2)


Someone to Hold

by Mary Balogh

Synopsis:

Humphrey Wescott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune and a scandalous secret that will forever alter the lives of his family—sending one daughter on a journey of self-discovery…

With her parents’ marriage declared bigamous, Camille Westcott is now illegitimate and without a title. Looking to eschew the trappings of her old life, she leaves London to teach at the Bath orphanage where her newly discovered half-sister lived. But even as she settles in, she must sit for a portrait commissioned by her grandmother and endure an artist who riles her every nerve.

An art teacher at the orphanage that was once his home, Joel Cunningham has been hired to paint the portrait of the haughty new teacher. But as Camille poses for Joel, their mutual contempt soon turns to desire. And it is only the bond between them that will allow them to weather the rough storm that lies ahead…

 

Review:

Ms. Balogh has pulled off a miracle–not only did she have me feeling empathy for Camille, but by the book’s end I actually liked her! (She was pretty prickly, to put it nicely, in book 1–Someone to Love and even in the early parts of this one I had a hard time not rolling my eyes at her…)

What helped early on was seeing her take over her half-sister’s (her emphasis) job as teacher at the orphanage and trying so hard and being so sure that she was failing at it. (She wasn’t; she was brilliant, but boy can I sympathize with that “I don’t have a clue what I’m doing; what if I scar these kids for life?” feeling that she had.) At the beginning I was in total sympathy with Joel, who saw Camille as an unfeeling drill sergeant who was trying to usurp her half-sister’s former position–watching her with her pupils, though, that began to change for both of us. I loved watching both of them come to respect and like each other as the story progressed; their transition from two people who wanted nothing to do with each other to friends to lovers was nicely paced and believable.

And that ending…it tugged on my heartstrings big time! I cannot wait for the rest of the Westcotts to get their stories!

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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Ode to Audio Week with a LIVE WIRE (Titan #6.5 by Cristin Harber) Audiobook Review!

Love audiobooks? Us too! Six incredible authors have come together to celebrate audiobooks with an Ode to Audio week – and there’s a chance to win every day! There’s so many prizes – a chance to win one of the six audiobooks, plus a month membership from audiobooks.com, and a three month audible.com subscription! Find out more about the six audiobooks and enter to win below!

Enter to win the Ode to Audio giveaways here: http://smarturl.it/OdeToAudio

 


ABOUT LIVE WIRE by Cristin Harber:

Titan Group is expanding. New recruits mean Jared Westin has potential new hires to scrutinize. What he didn’t expect was his very pregnant wife Sugar to finagle her way onto the surveillance team as the prospects were assessed.

Her involvement in the simple observation goes dangerously wrong. She and best friend Lexi Black stumble into a problem with Russian mobsters. Sugar is forced to draw on her old ATF tricks, but weeks from her due date, she has no choice but to team up with Bishop O’Kane, a potential-new recruit and Parker Black, Lexi’s hacker husband, who must go undercover.

This is special ops novella is packed with high-stakes crime and intrigue, a baby story for Boss Man, and two steamy romances for two of Titan’s favorite couples.

 

Review:

This audiobook is so. Much. Fun!

Whether you’ve read all, some, or even none of the other books in this series, you’ll enjoy the heck out of this one–it really does have something for everyone. If you’ve read other series books, especially and , you’ll love seeing Sugar (heroine of Westin’s Chase ) and Lexi (heroine of Black Dawn ) up to check out a possible new recruit for team Titan. Naturally things are going to take a wrong turn as they do, which will give established series fans and new fans alike a chance to see the men and women of Titan at their best, as they unite to take down the bad guys. You’ll meet the potential new recruit who’s sure to star in his own series book as well (spoiler alert: it’s Bishop’s Queen ) and as a bonus, you’ll witness a life-changing event for one of the two main couples in this book.

If that all sounds like a lot for a novella, you’re not wrong–yet somehow none of the plot lines feel short changed, and we get to see plenty of tender (and a few steamy!) moments for the couples involved. Plus, the narrator does a fantastic job and has a truly kick-a$$ voice to boot. He does a great alpha male, yet still voices the female POVs convincingly. A must-listen!

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

 

Listen to an audio sample or pick up your copy of the LIVE WIRE audiobook here!

Connect with Cristin Harber:

Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Team Titan Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

About HOT PURSUIT by Lynn Raye Harris:

He was the last man in the world she wanted to see. But he might be the only one who could save her.

Ten years ago, Matt Girard did something he shouldn’t have. When sweet Evangeline Baker offered him her virginity, he took it. Then he left town and he’s never looked back.

Until now. His future as a black ops soldier with the Hostile Operations Team is in jeopardy, and he’s come home for a few days before going back to face the consequences of a mission gone wrong.

Matt still makes Evie’s heart pound, but she wants nothing to do with him. She’s had enough of men who lie and promise things they don’t deliver. But when her sister goes missing and her ex-boyfriend turns up dead, she’s in need of Matt’s special military skills.

With time running out, Matt will put everything on the line to protect Evie and find her sister. Even if it means sacrificing all he’s worked for with HOT. Sometimes, the reward is worth the price. Especially when it’s the one woman he can’t forget.

Listen to an audio sample or pick up your copy of the HOT PURSUIT audiobook here!

Connect with Lynn Raye Harris:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

 


About GONE TO DUST by Liliana Hart:

The Gravediggers aren’t exactly what they seem. They’re the most elite of the world’s fighting forces – and all they have in common is that they’ve been betrayed by the countries they’ve died for. Because they are dead. To their countries, their militaries, and their families.

Sometimes the dead do rise….

Miller Darling is one of the most popular romance novelists of her time. Not bad for a woman who doesn’t believe in romance. She’s as logical as they come, and she doesn’t believe in happily ever afters. What she does believe in is family, so when her brother disappears, she doesn’t think twice about packing her bag and her laptop and heading out to find him.

Elias Cole lived and breathed the life of a Navy SEAL. Now he’s “dead” and his hero’s honor tarnished. The only thing keeping him sane are the men who are like him – The Gravediggers – and the woman who makes his head spin. He’s never met anyone like Miller Darling. Her smart mouth and quick wit keep him on his toes, and damned if he doesn’t find that appealing.

When Miller receives a package from the brother who abandoned her asking for help, it’s clear she’s in over her head with the mess he’s gotten himself into. She needs a professional, and Elias is just the man for the job. Only her brother is a former SEAL – the man who left his team to die – and Elias is more interested in vengeance than saving his life.

Listen to an audio sample or pick up your copy of the GONE TO DUST audiobook here!

Connect with Liliana Hart:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

 

About ENEMY MINE by Megan Mitcham:

Born in the blood of Sierra Leone’s Civil War, enslaved, then sold to the US as an orphan, Base Branch operative Sloan Harris is emotionally dead and driven by vengeance. With no soul to give, her body becomes the bargaining chip to infiltrate a warlord’s inner circle. The man called the Devil killed her family and helped destroy a region.

As son of the warlord, Baine Kendrick will happily use Sloan’s body if it expedites his father’s demise. Yet, he is wholly unprepared for the possessive and protective emotions she provokes. Maybe it’s the flashes of memory…two forgotten children drawing in the dirt beneath the boabab tree…but he fears there is more at stake than his life.

In the Devil’s den with Baine by her side, Sloan braves certain death and discovers a spirit for living.

Listen to an audio sample or pick up your copy of the ENEMY MINE audiobook here!

Connect with Megan Mitcham:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

 

About INKED EXPRESSIONS by Carrie Ann Ryan

The Montgomery Ink Series from NYT Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan continues with the brother who keeps his secret and the one woman he shouldn’t want.

Everly Law married the love of her life and on the eve of giving birth to their twins, lost him in a tragic accident. Now she’s a single mother working overtime at her bookstore trying to make sure her boys have the life they deserve. Her life is busy enough without her adding dating a Montgomery. As past secrets come to light, she’ll need Storm more than ever—even if she doesn’t realize it.

Storm Montgomery has spent his life atoning for sins that only few know he’s committed. When he lost his best friend, he promised his widow that he’d always be there for her—even when she wanted nothing to do with him. But when a single touch ignites passions they’ve both buried deep inside, he’ll have to remember exactly who is in his arms and that taking chances might be far more dangerous than they bargained for.

Listen to an audio sample or pick up your copy of the INKED EXPRESSIONS audiobook here!

Connect with Carrie Ann Ryan:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

 

About A SEAL’S OATH by Cora Seton:

Navy SEAL Boone Rudman and his friends want to create a sustainable community that can be replicated anywhere in the world. But they need land, so when Martin Fulsom, leader of the Fulsom Foundation, offers them Westfield, a ranch in Montana, they agree to Fulsom’s condition that they document their progress on a reality television show.

Building the community will be hard enough, but Boone’s got another problem. Fulsom expects families to make up the population of the new town. Now Boone’s got to find a wife fast, before he loses his funding and his dream. So when he arrives at Westfield to find it already occupied by the startlingly beautiful, strangely attired Riley Eaton, he wonders if fate itself has provided him with an answer.

Riley Eaton is done with traffic jams and 24/7 workweeks. She loves Jane Austen’s novels, and she knows she’s not the only woman longing for a simpler, more beautiful life. When she discovers her friends are in the same frame of mind, she throws caution to the wind and invites them to Westfield, the ranch her uncle inherited long ago but has never lived in. Equipped with a key and a standing invitation to stay there whenever she likes, she gathers her friends, drives to Chance Creek, and gives up all things 21st century in order to open a Jane Austen-style bed-and-breakfast. She knows her absentee uncle will be thrilled with a new stream of income, and Westfield is perfect for Regency living, with its wide lawns, extensive gardens, and large ballroom. But when sexy, stubborn Boone shows up with plans to build a hyper-modern sustainable community on the ranch, it’s clear her Regency paradise is over before it even began.

Now Boone has 30 days to marry Riley or lose the ranch to developers, and Riley has three weeks to prepare for the bed-and-breakfast’s first guests or face bankruptcy. Can they overcome their prejudices to help each other? Or will their pride destroy both their futures?

Listen to an audio sample or pick up your copy of the A SEAL’S OATH audiobook here!

Connect with Cora Seton:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

New Audiobook Review! HIDE YOUR HEART by Tracey Alvarez (Far North #1)

Hide Your Heart
by Tracey Alvarez

Synopsis:

Love will bring them together. Distrust will tear them apart…

Alexandra Lauren Knight has reinvented herself in the safety of her rural New Zealand hometown to become Lauren Taylor. She’s cut all ties with her past as a former model whose ex-husband turned out to be ruthless in both the boardroom and the bedroom. While Alexandra allowed other’s expectations to propel her into the spotlight, Lauren prefers the safety of anonymity; restoring classic cars with her brother, and snuggling with her four-year-old son.

Nate Fraser, a burned-out photojournalist, plans to fix up the property next door to Lauren and sell it as a celebrity retreat. Always on the move, Nate is only comfortable with short-term assignments and even shorter-term relationships. But it’s not just his buyer’s tight deadline or that the restoration is far beyond his expertise which turns a short-term project into an ordeal. Nate’s plan of travelling the globe is in jeopardy—created by the intensity of his growing feelings for Lauren and her little boy.

As the sparks of passion ignite between them it reawakens Nate’s long forgotten dream of having a home and family. Lauren must find a way to trust Nate not only with her secrets, but with her heart—before her safe haven is exposed and she can no longer hide in the shadows.

 

Review:

Such a sweet read! I loved the characters–Lauren and Nate, naturally, but also Lauren’s brother Todd and sister-in-law Kathy and Drew, of course–he is absolutely adorable, with his monkey-roni and the Superman picture–too cute! 🙂

Lauren’s fighting some pretty big demons–she and her son escaped an abusive relationship and a life she’d never asked for in New York City, seeking refuge in rural New Zealand. Once a world-famous model, she’s dyed her hair, changed her look, and keeps herself apart from everyone but her immediate family. She’s afraid of being recognized, afraid of the paparazzi, and afraid to let anyone outside her family in. She originally befriends Nate somewhat reluctantly in order to get him to change his plans for the property next door, but the more she gets to know him, the more she wants him, even though she knows their relationship can’t last…

Having recently lost his mentor, Nate’s taking a break from his photojournalism to rehab a house he’s bought sight unseen. (Okay–he saw pictures, but they were misleadingly old and hugely inaccurate.) He’s in way over his head, so he enlists the help of a neighbor–a neighbor who’s less than thrilled to notice his new boss’s interest in his sister. Nate’s drawn to Lauren and charmed by his son, but has always believed that his would be a solitary existence–leaving a family to chase work around the globe just wouldn’t be right, after all. That’s what his mentor always told him…didn’t he?

I loved watching Lauren and Nate grow closer, and seeing Drew work his magic on the confirmed bachelor. Tracey’s new series is starting out beautifully–this book doesn’t quite have the same lighthearted feel to it that her Due South series does, but it’s written with her same trademark humor. I loved every minute I spent reading this one, and look forward to book two–which will star Nate’s equally famous (and in at least one aspect, equally infamous) cousin.

The audiobook version added the extra dimension of an awesome New Zealand accent–so fun! The narrator did a nice job of bringing Tracey’s story to life–here’s hoping that the duo will get together in the future to bring more of her books to audio!

Rating: 4 stars / A-

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

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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

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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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A Dangerous Business (Scottish Werebear #2) Cover

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A Forbidden Love (Scottish Werebear, #3) 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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