New Release Review and Giveaway! FALLING FOR THE FAKE FIANCE by Jennifer Blackwood (Snowpocalypse #2)

Falling for the Fake Fiance
by Jennifer Blackwood
Publication Date: June 12, 2017
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Scorched, Erotic, Contemporary, Romance

SYNOPSIS:

Jill Michaels prides herself on one thing: being independent. That is until her daughter gets into an elite school, and she needs money more than ever. It seems her fairy godmother—aka her deceased Grammy—has granted that wish in the form of one-fourth of her estate. The only catch? She must be married by her thirtieth birthday. In two months.

Aaron Collins is fresh out of the army and back in town to help his father’s failing business. When he runs into Jill at a hotel where she’s attending a single’s mixer, he makes sure she doesn’t make it past his room and into another guy’s arms. When he hears about her predicament, he has a plan: they’ll get married and keep it a secret. And maybe have a little sexy fun until he leave towns for his new job.

But letting go of the woman of his dreams may be harder than Aaron could have ever imagined.

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Excerpt:

What a weird feeling—she sat across from someone she’d seen every day in high school, and yet the man in front of her was a complete stranger. One with blue eyes so dark they looked like whorls of ink. Ones that were subtly undressing her, if she was reading the situation right. She took another sip from her glass. Was it getting hot in here? Because, man, was she thirsty. Better to focus on things she could control. Like the tasty wine. Yes, this wine was fantastic. Maybe if she focused enough on her drink, her body would stop tingling from the heated glances Aaron kept throwing her way.

With shaky hands, she placed the glass back on the table. It’d been a while since she’d been in the company of any guy she was actually interested in, but she forced down the nerves. “What do you have lined up now that you’re out of the military?”

“I’ve been rooming with a buddy up in D.C. He did me a solid and found me a job at a private security firm he works for. I’ll start it as soon as I’m finished helping my dad. What have you been up to?”

Oh, you know, getting wild and crazy with Netflix binges of Paw Patrol and worrying that she’d get some type of lung disease due to accidentally inhaling too much mac and cheese dust. Her life was glamorous. It might have qualified as pathetic that she enjoyed dentist appointments and even routine check-ups just for the sole fact she could get a minute to herself. Her AARP card was due in the mail any time now. “Same old, same old. Nothing really changes in our town.”

“Besides the fact that you’re now attending singles mixers. When did that start?” He took a long sip of his beer, watching her with an intensity that made her skin tingle.

“Tonight. It was silly, really.” The last thing Jill wanted was for Aaron to know that she’d gone out in search of a husband, because how desperate did that sound? One bad haircut stood between her and Brittany Spears circa 2007.

“I don’t know how long I’ll be in town, but I’d be more than happy to take you out.”

His forearms flexed as he gripped the pint glass, and she mentally shook her fist at the fact the sleeves of his flannel weren’t pushed farther up his arm. Maybe Kate was onto something. Broad shoulders, dark eyes, lips that she should have noticed were kissable years ago, because whoa.

The next time she glanced down at her cell, they’d been talking for hours, catching up on everything from crazy stories from his time in the military to her latest run-in with a very involved dance mom. For real, those ladies were scary.

She peered around the room and realized that they were the only occupied table, besides a few stragglers at the bar. “I should be getting back to my room. It’s getting late.” This was the best dinner she’d had in months. No, years. When was the last time she’d actually enjoyed the company of a man, one whose deep voice was a warm caress down her spine? By her calculation and the fact she could call herself a born-again virgin thanks to the lack of action…it had been a freaking long time. Maybe it was the wine. Or maybe it was the muscly, drool-worthy man in front of her, but dammit, she wanted one night of fun. Screw the whole search for a temporary husband—it wasn’t going to happen. But she could be happy for a few hours in other ways.

 

Review:

A fun fake engagement story!

Jill and Aaron were friends and neighbors for years while growing up, a fact that helps this fairly short, very steamy fake-to-real romance work. Ms. Blackwood’s writing gave this story the perfect blend of humor and romance–I laughed out loud nearly as much as I swooned while reading. Her characters feel real, and are likable despite their flaws (like geez, how can it take them almost a week to realize that they can’t live without each other? Wink, wink…)

I’ve had this author on my TBR radar for quite some time now, and will definitely be using my experience with this story as an excuse to go back and check out her backlist (especially book one in this series, Snowpocalypse. Because snowpocalypse…someone might as well be benefiting from an excess of snow…)

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

 

ABOUT JENNIFER BLACKWOOD:

Jennifer Blackwood is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Oregon with her husband, son, and poorly behaved black lab puppy. When not chasing after her toddler, you can find her binging on episodes of Gilmore Girls and Supernatural, and locking herself in her office to write.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Newsletter | Amazon Author Profile

 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! THREE WEEKS WITH A PRINCESS by Vanessa Kelly (Improper Princesses #2)

The Improper Princesses—three young women descended from royalty,  each bound for her own thrilling adventure . . .

THREE WEEKS WITH A PRINCESS
Improper Princesses #2
Vanessa Kelly
Releasing June 27, 2017
Zebra
 
In Vanessa Kelly’s captivating series, three young women are descended from royalty in the most improper way. But that doesn’t stop them from pursuing lives rich in adventure. . .

Lia Kincaid, illegitimate daughter of the Duke of York, comes from a long line of notorious women. Raised by her grandmother, formerly mistress to the late Marquess of Lendale, she has little hope of a respectable marriage. But the new Marquess, her childhood friend, Jack Easton, would make a very desirable protector . . . if he weren’t too honorable to take her to bed.It s bad enough being saddled with a title he never desired. Now Jack must resist the beautiful woman he desires far too much. Duty calls, and he is duty-bound to choose a wealthy bride. But then Lia makes another outrageous suggestion: asking Jack to devise some tests to find her the perfect paramour. Tests that involve flirting, kissing, and other pleasurable pursuits. Tests that, in a matter of weeks, could transform friendship into the ton s greatest scandal, igniting a passion even duty can t deny. . . 

 

“Trying to set me up as a courtesan is rather drastic,” Lia said. “I’m not you or Mama. I’m not a patch on either of you.”

“Nonsense. You’ve grown into a stunning young woman. With a little help from me and some financial support, you could very well take London by storm.”

There were so many things wrong with that plan that Lia didn’t know where to start. “I have another idea, Gran, and I’m convinced it’s the best one we could possibly come up with.”

Her grandmother had been reaching to replenish her teacup, but her hand halted in midair. “I’m listening.”

“I’ll join Mama’s acting troupe. They’re looking for new company members now that they’re in London. Mama said so in her last letter. And I’m sure I could live with Mama and Mr. Lester in their town house in Kensington.”

Her grandmother regarded her with a dubious air. “Unfortunately, there are a number of critical drawbacks to that plan.”

“Such as?”

“You can’t sing, dance, or act.”

That was rather a low blow. “I’m not much of a singer, I grant you. But I’m sure I can learn to dance, and you know very well I can act.”

Lia had been playacting for as long as she could remember and had often dreamed girlish dreams of following in her mother’s famous footsteps. She’d put on any number of recitations for her grandmother and his lordship over the years and had staged skits and little dramas for the servants, often with help from the kitchen maids and footmen. Granny and Lord Lendale had often told her that she was as fine an actress as Mrs. Siddons.

“My darling, the truth is you’re a dreadful actress,” her grandmother said in a patient tone.

“But you and his lordship were always so enthusiastic about my performances,” she protested.

“Because we didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”

“But what about the amateur theatricals I put on up at the house? The servants all seemed to think I was splendid.”

Her grandmother rolled her eyes.

She couldn’t help feeling daunted, but she had no intention of conceding—especially if the alternative was to become the next Notorious Kincaid. Lia was convinced she’d make an utter fool of herself as a courtesan, especially because her heart wouldn’t be in it.

“I don’t care what you say,” she said. “I’m writing to Mama tonight and telling her I’m coming to London. I can at least try out the notion on her and Mr. Lester and see what they say.”

Her grandmother seemed to waver for a moment, but then she grimaced. “I feel certain your mother will not be amenable to you taking up the theatrical life.”

“But she will be amenable to me becoming someone’s mistress?” Lia asked with disbelief.

Granny starched up. “It was good enough for me, was it not?”

“Look how well that’s turned out.”

“I’m sure under certain conditions your mother will agree to this plan,” Granny said, clearly determined to ignore Lia’s objections.

“And what are those conditions?”

“That won’t become entirely clear until I’ve had a chance to speak with Jack.”

Lia’s mind blanked for a few moments. “What in heaven’s name does Jack have to do with me becoming a courtesan?”

Granny’s eyebrows lifted with delicate incredulity. “Because you’re feeling a little squeamish about this plan, I think he should be your first.”

Lia got a very bad feeling—which was something, considering how alarming the entire discussion had been thus far. “First what?” she asked, praying she had misunderstood.

“Your first lover, of course. But only if I can persuade him to agree to our terms.”

Such a sweet story!

After reading My Fair Princess , I was anxious to find out Charles’s BFF Jack’s story–and I’m happy to say, seeing him as the star of his own story made me love him even more. (Though OMG, could he wait any longer to tell Lia those three magic words? Men! Fortunately he knows how to bring an excellent ending, which makes up for much.)

I enjoyed Lia too, though her idea of becoming a courtesan/seeking a protector–which on a certain level seems to make a teensy bit of sense, but would have made her absolutely miserable which everyone who knows her realizes (except her mother and grandmother, argh) goes on for waaaaaaaaaay to long, which was frustrating. Ms. Kelly gave her a powerful experience to show her the error of her thinking, though, and, like Jack, she helps to bring together the awesome ending when it counts.

Once again the secondary characters are a lot of fun, both those who have had their own books already and those who will hopefully have them in the future. In all, I can’t wait to see where this series goes next!

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.


Vanessa 
Kelly is USA Today Bestselling, award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.”  Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. 
Vanessa’s previous series, The Renegade Royals, was a national bestseller. She is currently writing a spin-off series called The Improper PrincessesMy Fair Princess, book 1, was named a Goodreads Romance of the Month. Vanessa also writes USA Today Bestselling books with her husband, under the pen name of V.K. Sykes. 
 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! HER SURPRISE ENGAGEMENT by Ashlee Mallory (A Sorenson Family novel)

About the Book:

Single mom Daisy Sorensen doesn’t believe in fairytale endings—at least not for her. All she wants is to enjoy a much-needed, stress-free family vacation at a friend’s Lake Tahoe home. So of course everything that can go wrong does. Including a gorgeous man and his daughter showing up in the middle of the night.

Soon-to-be Governor Jack Harrison has had a crazy week, but he’s sure nothing can top arriving to find a bathrobe-clad, beautiful stranger in the home he’s staying in for the week. He’s wrong. When things spiral out of control the next morning, Jack makes Daisy an offer she can’t refuse. She’ll pretend to be his fiancée and he’ll help her open the bakery she’s been dreaming about.

But in between late-night campfires and days on the lake, Jack finds himself falling for the strong, stubborn woman for real.

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Excerpt:

Now it was her turn to do what she’d spent the better part of the last twenty minutes convincing her daughter to do. This whole trip was about experiencing new things, right?

So why wouldn’t her legs take the step forward they needed to?

She didn’t know how but she was suddenly aware of Jack’s presence next to her. He must have climbed the ladder, but it hadn’t been long enough for him to get here…or had it?

“You don’t have to do this if you’re that scared.”

“Of course I do,” she snapped. “I just told my daughter how she shouldn’t let her fears control her life.”

He grinned. “I know. Now prove it to them and yourself that you’re not going to let your fears get the better of you. Take that step.”

He placed his hand on her shoulder, something that shouldn’t have felt as good as it did. Especially not right now when she was a million feet up in the air possibly about to step to her death.

“How do I know the system is equipped to hold my weight and size?”

He smiled at her indulgently. “Because I just did this same line not fifteen minute ago and I easily outweigh you by two.”

That earned her own smile. “How much do you weigh?”

“One eighty-two.”

Cute the way he thought she weighed only ninety pounds.

“Now,” he continued, “if it can hold me, it can hold you. I promise.”

She nodded, somehow finding the courage to take the tiniest step forward so her toes were past the ledge. Then stepped right back.

“Hey. Look at me,” he said. She glanced over her shoulder, meeting his steely blue gaze. “If it’s one thing I know about you, Daisy Sorensen, you will take that step one way or another. You’re not going to let your kids see you give up. Whether it’s now or in twenty minutes or in one hour. Because you don’t walk away from a challenge. You’re a fighter and no matter what obstacles have been put in your way, you’ve pushed past them to be the amazing mom and woman you are. This”—he nodded toward the empty air—“this is nothing compared to the last two years of hell your ex put you through. What your life put you through. Here’s a chance to embrace the unknown. You can—and will—do this.”

Something in his tone told her he meant every word he’d said. And despite her fear, she found his belief in her…empowering.

She looked down at her kids waving. Up ahead she could hear Jenna and Lily calling for her to go.

The only one stopping her right now was her.

Everyone else knew she could do this.

Taking a deep breath, she took that step and lifted her other leg, and felt her body falling forward.

Review:

A sweet fake-to-not romance story!

Though Daisy and Jack’s “relationship” started out a bit heavy on the side of insta-lust, once the two of them really started to get to know each other? the whole story became pretty magic. Each of them brought out the best in each other, and together with their kids/dog also managed to make their incomplete families whole again. Such a fun, satisfying read, and a great ending to the Sorenson family series 🙂

Her Surprise Engagement could work as a standalone, if needed; if you’ve read the other books, though, you’ll love the glimpses you get here into the HEAs of Daisy’s two brothers and sister. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out to see what Ms. Mallory is going to bring us next 🙂

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

 

Check out the other books in the Sorensen Family series:

 

Meet the Author:

Ashlee Mallory is a USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and thrillers. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and two kids. She aspires to one day include running, hiking and traveling to exotic destinations in her list of things she enjoys, but currently settles for enjoying a good book and a glass of wine from the comfort of her couch.

Connect: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Giveaway:

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New Release Review and Giveaway! HOW TO BEWILDER A LORD by Ally Broadfield (How to series #3)

Some secrets aren’t meant to be kept…

HOW TO BEWILDER A LORD
How To #3
Ally Broadfield
Releasing June 5th, 2017
Entangled Scandalous
Gavin Corey, the Earl of Thornbrook, has shed his rakish ways in the hope of winning Lady Louisa’s heart, but neither she nor her parents consider him a suitable match. He convinces her to join forces with him to locate a missing family treasure by proposing a wager: if he finds the jewels, Lady Louisa must allow him to court her, but if she prevails, he must reveal the secret he’s keeping from her.
Lady Louisa Adair might be the most sought after lady on the marriage mart, but she values her independence above all else and has no interest in giving up her inheritance to marry. As she spends more time with the charming earl, however, she comes to wonder if he’s worth risking her inheritance and her family’s disapproval… until she’s confronted with the scandal from his past.
 

She paused and flipped back a few pages. “So it looks like she stopped journaling when she began her…ahem…relationship with Bukov.”

“Of course she did. She had a vastly superior form of entertainment to indulge in.”

“For heaven’s sake, do be quiet.” Her eyes flashed back and forth across the page.

“For the sake of my sanity, could you please read aloud.”

Without looking up, she waved a hand at him. “I’ll let you know as soon as I find something interesting.

“Of course. I’ll just sit here and twiddle my thumbs until you deem it appropriate to include me.”

“There it is!”

He leaned closer, but her arm blocked his view of the page in question.

“‘Begin where warmth abounds. Very close, yet worlds away, it is no place for the meek.’”

“Right. That was the clue that we all assumed pointed to the portrait over the fireplace. Is there any reason to think otherwise?”

Louisa shook her head. “Not that I can think of.”

Gavin tossed the words around in his head. “I’ve never understood what she meant by ‘…it is no place for the meek.’”

“I agree, but I don’t think it matters. This was the clue that led to the painting that had the grille hidden beneath the backing.”

Something was tickling his memory, but he couldn’t figure it out. “Is there a pen and paper somewhere? I’d like to write down the clues so we have them all in one place.”

She pointed to the other side of the room. “Check the drawers in the desk over there.”

He found what he needed and pulled off his gloves before carefully writing the entire clue. In the meantime, Louisa had continued reading without him. Oddly enough, her face was flushed a deep red. “Have you discovered another clue?”

“Not exactly.” She sucked in a deep breath. “A few days later, she wrote, ‘What new surprises will my lover have for me tonight?’” She flipped the page. “‘I long for the sweet torture of his touch, for the pleasure he brings me.’”

It suddenly seemed very warm in the room.

Louisa swallowed audibly. “There’s more.”

Lord help him.

“‘My pulse races as I remember the warm touch of his hands. I throb with unmet desire, craving his practiced attention.’”

“Um, perhaps we should stop here for the night.”

Preferably before he spontaneously combusted.

Her eyes wide like a frightened animal, she nodded her agreement and put the journal back on the shelf, then came toward him and stopped a few feet away.

Without thinking, he lifted his hand and cupped her cheek. For a moment, she leaned toward him, and he leaned a bit nearer to her. They were so close he could feel her warm breath against his neck. Just when he decided it would be a good time to kiss her, she took a step back.

He reached for her hand, but she backed away from him. “Louisa,” he said ever so softly, reaching for her again.

She shook her head, then turned and ran from the room, her dog trailing behind her.

His throat tightened. That had not gone well. Certainly not the way things had progressed in a thousand or so of his dreams that had featured her. He wanted to chase her down the corridor, but that would probably scare her away forever. Though he was certain she was as innocent as the day she was born, he might still have a chance with her if she desired him even a fraction of the amount he did her.

A sweet romance!

Though How to Bewilder a Lord can stand on its own as a combination romance/light historical mystery, it definitely continues some threads that were started in the first two series books. I have a feeling that having seen Gavin and Louisa in book two ( How to Bewitch an Earl ) would endear the reader even more to them here (though to be honest, they’re pretty darn endearing all on their own!)–but don’t let the fact that you haven’t read the others yet stop you from reading this one 🙂 Gavin and Louisa have their own delightful romance, and their own mystery to solve. Plus, I have a feeling knowing their story will make going back and reading the first two an even more enjoyable experience (plus, I feel like knowing how much trouble Louisa’s father gives Gavin here will have me giving him some definite side-eye when I get to his book ( How to Beguile a Duke ) because somehow I doubt he’s half as virtuous as he’s expecting the younger generation to be 😉

The ending is a bit rushed, but as I was anxious to get Gavin and Louisa to their much-deserved HEA, it’s hard to complain much. In the end, How to Bewilder a Lord is an entertaining, quick read just perfect for a summer afternoon or two.

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Don’t miss any of the HOW TO romances!

 


Ally 
Broadfield has worked as a horse trainer, director of marketing and development, freelance proofreader, and a children’s librarian, among other things. None of them were as awesome as writing romance novels (though the librarian gig came closest). She lives in Texas and is convinced her house is shrinking, possibly because she shares it with three kids, four dogs, a cat, a rabbit, and assorted reptiles. Oh, and her husband. 
 
Ally likes to curse in Russian because very few people know what she’s saying, and spends most of what would be her spare time letting dogs in and out of the house and shuttling kids around. She has many stories in her head looking for an opportunity to escape onto paper. She writes historical romance set in Regency England and Imperial Russia.
Stay up to date by visiting her WebsiteFacebook, and Twitter, though she makes no claims of using any of them properly.
 

New Release Review and Giveaway! THROUGH YOUR EYES by Shannyn Schroeder (For Your Love #3)

One Last Chance…
 
THROUGH YOUR EYES
For Your Love #3
Shannyn Schroeder
Releasing May 30th, 2017
Zebra Shout

ONE LAST CHANCE

Deirdre Murphy has had her life planned for her since she was born: Work in her parents’ noisy pub in rural Ireland. Live with her family until she marries. Marry her childhood sweetheart ASAP, since he’s decided sexy fun time should wait for marriage. None of it excites her. But before her fate closes in, Deirdre’s got one last visit to her Chicago cousins—where she can spend her mornings in a peaceful bakery, keep to herself, and savor the space she needs…. Until she meets Tommy O’Malley.

Tommy is as tough as his city and twice as ready to welcome her in. He’s covered in tattoos, stays up half the night inking them on other people, and has a reputation for being good with his hands. And he’s heart-pounding, forgot-her-words, can’t-stop-staring exciting.

Tommy knows he’s the opposite of everything Deirdre has prepared for. But to watch her set herself free, he’s willing to risk almost anything…

He drove to the bakery and found a parking spot in front. It was near closing and the business was empty.

He walked through the door and a sweet scent filled the air. The place hadn’t changed much over the years. The fake cakes they had on display were different, changing with the times, showing popular themes, but the classics remained on a high shelf near the ceiling.

One of his earliest memories was coming here with his dad and Jimmy to pick out his birthday cake. His dad had hoisted him up on his shoulders and told him to pick any cake design he wanted. He couldn’t have been more than four or five. It wasn’t long after his mom had been killed, but the memory was such a happy one. He didn’t remember feeling sad.

That realization made him feel crappy.

No one came from the back, so he called out, “Hello? I’m here to pick up a cake.”

From the back room, with her head down, she came toward him.

“Cupcake,” he whispered.

She moved to the counter opposite him and turned her back to dig through a stack of order slips. Her reddish-brown hair trailed down her back in a ponytail. Without any greeting, she asked, “Name?”

“O’Malley.”

She spun with the pink slips in her hand. Her light blue eyes were wide, and the sprinkling of freckles across her nose reminded him how cute she was.

“You’re back,” he said.

Another cake for O’Malley?”

He lifted a shoulder. “There are five of us.”

“It’s good to know you’re not eating all this cake. I was beginning to think you had a wicked sweet tooth.”

“Uh, your cousin Moira told me you went back to Ireland.”

The papers in her hands crinkled, and a blush swept across her cheeks. “I did.”

“Are you staying long?”

“I’m not sure.” She focused on the slips, flipping through them, looking for his order.

When she found it, she pulled it from the stack and looked up. She waved it at him with a smile. “I’ll be right back.”

She disappeared to the back room, and Tommy sucked in a deep breath. This was it. He had another chance. All he had to do was open his mouth.

Why hadn’t Moira said anything? She knew he had a thing for her cousin. Maybe she was the one who’d put Jimmy up to making him get the cake. That definitely sounded like a Moira move. But to get Jimmy involved, that took skill. Moira was obviously better than he’d given her credit for.

Deirdre returned carrying a box. She slid it on the counter between them and lifted the lid. “Here you go.”

He barely glanced at it. No one would care if something was misspelled. His gaze locked on hers as she lowered the lid.

“Would you like to go out sometime?”

She stared for him so long, he began to wonder if he’d really spoken aloud.

“Uh . . . I have a boyfriend.”

“Oh.” The disappointment hit him hard. Again, he had to question why Moira wouldn’t tell him. This was the kind of pertinent information you gave a guy before he made a fool of himself.

“Your order is all paid for.” She nudged the box forward so he’d take the hint.

He scrambled for what to say to ease the tension. “Maybe you’d like to go out and do some sightseeing. As friends. You’re new to Chicago, and I could show you around.”

“Maybe.” Her eyes shifted away. It seemed no matter what he said, he made her nervous.

“Are staying with the O’Learys again?”

“Yes.”

“I’m right across the street. Stop by any time.”

She nodded and he took the cake from the counter. Not quite the answer he was looking for, but at least she hadn’t totally shot him down. She didn’t seem completely uninterested.

But boyfriend?

Through Your Eyes is a sweet romance; and I loved seeing Tommy finally get his HEA. The story could probably be read as a standalone, but be warned–both Tommy and Deirdre have large, extended families who show up here a lot (and they bring friends!) and even having already read the other two books in the For Your Love series I felt like I needed a cheat sheet at times to remember who everyone was and who was with whom. (I haven’t read the O’Leary’s series yet, though–that might have helped too.) On the other hand, being slightly confused by the family chaos definitely adds a sense of realism to the fiction, so…

In the end, though, the story is about Tommy and Deirdre, and it is an enjoyable one. I had liked Tommy from previous books, and that didn’t stop here. Deirdre’s a little harder to get to know, because she’s a private person who’s used to keeping things inside, but she was likable as well. Their story took a direction I really wasn’t expecting, even though I absolutely didn’t want her to go back to Ireland, and it took me a bit to come to terms with what they did, but in the end it ended up working out well.

So–another fun read from Ms. Schroeder! Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to the O’Learys series before she throws more at us from this universe 🙂

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Don’t miss the other FOR YOUR LOVE titles!

 


Shannyn 
Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series, contemporary romances centered around a large Irish-American family in Chicago and the Hot & Nerdy series about 3 nerdy friends finding love. Her new series (For Your Love) released with the first title Under Your Skin. When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to
bake cookies.
 

 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! CHANCE AT REDEMPTION by Samantha Harris (Madison Square #3)

Chance at Redemption (Madison Square #3)
by Samatha Harris
Publication Date:  May 23, 2017
Publisher:  Limitless Publishing

 

Synopsis:

Gwen Stevens had a privileged life until her father spoke three little words that turned her world upside down. “You’re cut off.”

Broke and desperate, Gwen is forced to accept a waitressing job, but this glimmer of hope has a price. As if being a cocktail waitress isn’t bad enough, she has to do it in a dive bar called The Den, and her bad luck doesn’t stop there. She also needs to deal with the new owner, a blue-eyed, self-righteous ass determined to make her life miserable.

Liam Sinclair walked away from the entitlement and obligation his family planned for him, vowing to make his own way in the world…

Adjusting to life as a new business owner, Liam has experienced more than his fair share of setbacks. When his only waitress breaks her leg, his sister takes it upon herself to hire a replacement—a spoiled, self-indulgent hothead with too much makeup and more than enough attitude. Gwen represents the world he’s trying to escape, a world of excess and greed that he was never cut out for.

Appearances can be deceiving, and first impressions aren’t always right…

Despite their apparent differences, the tension between them turns to a fiery passion that neither of them can resist. Together they find balance and learn to appreciate the simpler things in life. But Gwen soon discovers that old habits die hard, and one mistake is all it takes to ruin everything.

Forgiveness must be earned, but even a villain deserves a chance at redemption…

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Excerpt:

“Anything you want to tell me, little brother?” she asked as she folded her arms across her chest and watched me closely to gauge my reaction.

I frowned. “Um, No.”

“Really? Nothing new at all in your life?” She was baiting me into something I was sure was not going to be good.

“I bought a new toaster the other day.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“You should see it, it’s pretty sweet. Its toasts Darth Vader’s face into the bread.”

Madison growled in frustration and tossed a breadstick at me.

“Whoa chill cougar,” I laughed.

“Don’t start that.” She pointed her finger at me. “I get enough of that crap from Margot.”

“Okay,” I said as my laughter died down.

“So you really have nothing to share?”

“Like what?”

“Like what’s going on with you and Gwen.” She smiled, her eyebrows disappeared beneath her bangs.

“Oh that.” I ducked my head to hide my smile.

“Yes that.”

“Who told you?”

“Sean.”

“What? Who told him?”

“I don’t know, someone at the bar I guess,” she said with a dismissive wave.

“The bar?” Madison shrugged. Then it hit me. “Sam,” I sighed. “Great now everybody knows.”

“Were you hiding it?”

“No. Not really. We just didn’t want things to be weird at work.”

“Well, here’s a tip, if you don’t want the people you work with to know. Don’t have sex in your office.”

I cringed. Hearing my older sister discuss my sex life was disturbing on a lot of levels.

“So?” she asked.

“So what?”

Madison let out a frustrated groan and rolled her eyes. “So what’s going on between you and Gwen?”

I wasn’t sure how to answer her. Hell I wasn’t even one hundred percent sure I even knew how. I sat back in my chair and played with the edge of my napkin. I was stalling and the look on my sister’s face said she knew it too.

“I’m not exactly sure,” I said.

She raised an eyebrow and tilted her head. “Aren’t you living together?” she asked.

“Kind of,” I said.

“Kind of?” she scoffed. “Her clothes are there, she sleeps in your bed, eats your food, uses your shower.” I nodded and she sat back in her chair, folded her arms across her chest. “Sounds like living together to me.”

“It’s not like we’d been dating for a while and I asked her to move in. She needed a place to crash. Everything else came later.”

“Everything else?”

I shrugged. “You know what I mean we were spending a lot of time together and it just happened.”

“What happened?”

“Sex Madison. We had sex.” I leaned back in my seat and relived some of our more creative positions in my head as a grin crept across my face. “Lots and lots of sex.”

Review:

Chance at Redemption is a great example of an opposites attract story, paired with a really dramatic second chance (at life, not love) plot–because the Gwen who starts this book is worlds away from the Gwen who finishes it. And thank goodness, because for the first 20% or so of the book to say I was not a fan of hers would have been a massive understatement! Suddenly the book’s tagline made all too much sense… Ms. Harris did a fantastic job, though, of giving her the opportunity to grow up…and helping her to find love along the way.

I almost feel sorry for Liam, because unlike Gwen he was fabulous from page one… 😉

…though come to think of it, their relationship black moment is due in large part to his pig-headedness, so maybe the two balance each other out there?

Either way, this was a fun read from an author I’ll definitely be reading more of. This book is the third in the Madison Square series and worked okay as a standalone (though in my case at least, it’s acting more like a gateway drug for the rest of the series, since I’d already added them to my TBR before I was more than 50% finished with this one…)

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

 

About the author:

Samatha “Sam” Harris lives near Baltimore, Maryland with her husband David and daughter Ava. Born in Florida, she migrated north which most people agree was a little backwards. She has been an artist all of her life, a Tattoo Artist for more than ten years, and a storyteller since she was a kid.

Sam has a slightly unhealthy love for Frank Sinatra, classic movies, and Jazz and Blues music, but her first love will always be reading. From Romance, to Thrillers, to Historical Fiction and everything in between, she loves to become a part of the story. As a writer she tells the stories that she would want to read.

 

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New Release Review! THE LAST IN LOVE by Terri Osborn (Ardent Springs #5)

The Last in Love
by Terri Osburn

Synopsis:

Abby Williams lost her husband—and the future she envisioned—to a roadside bomb in a foreign land, so a kitchen fire is no big deal. When the local firemen show up to put out the blaze, the army widow finds herself attracted to one hot volunteer firefighter…until she realizes it’s Justin Donovan, a man five years her junior.

Justin has long carried a torch for Abby. But after she got married ten years ago, he put her out of his mind, left Ardent Springs for Chicago, and got a job as a real estate developer. Now he’s back—for reasons he’d rather not share—and he wants to prove to Abby that age is nothing but a number. Will Abby’s reluctance and Justin’s secrets extinguish any attempts at romance? Or will the sparks between them ignite a second chance at love?

 

Review:

I really enjoyed reading Terri Osburn’s The Last in Love–my first book in this series (Ardent Springs) and from this author, but definitely not my last on either count!

Abby and Justin were an adorable couple–I liked the older woman/younger man twist (only 5 years, though–definitely not insurmountable when the couple in question is late 20s/early 30s) and the fact that he had a major crush on her while in his late teens–too sweet! The fact that he’s a volunteer firefighter now definitely doesn’t hurt, either (and OMG, the description of the firefighter bachelor auction at the beginning? Fabulous!) I really loved that Abby was able to (eventually, of course, after the appropriate amount of relationship angst and a suitable black moment) move on to a second relationship after losing her solider husband without diminishing her first marriage. (If you follow my reviews at all, you’ll know that having to demonize the first–dead–spouse or make their relationship somehow less-than in order for a hero/heroine to commit to a new one is a huuuuuge pet peeve. Okay, yes, sometimes that will be the case. But all too often in romance it’s a crutch, a convenient way to get the surviving spouse to more easily put their first marriage in the rear view mirror and get on with the second, clearly superior, one. C’mon, people. We can do better.)

Though there were times that things happened abruptly–Abby changing her mind about the age difference after being so resistant was pretty sudden, as was when she decided that Justin had been less than honest about breaking up with his fiancee–overall there was a lot more to like here than to criticize. And even though Abby’s “the last in love” of her friends in Ardent Springs, her story worked just fine as a standalone.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go add books #1-4 to my TBR…

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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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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New Release Review and Giveaway! ROMANCING THE BACHELOR by Diane Alberts (Hamilton Family #2)

He’s not going to know what hit him…


ROMANCING THE BACHELOR
Hamilton Family #2
Diane Alberts
Releasing May 15th, 2017
Entangled Indulgence

 

Eric Hamilton isn’t looking for love. Hell, he isn’t even looking for a girl. He has a five-year plan, and he’s one hundred percent focused on that. But then Shelby walks into his life, and suddenly, he can’t think about anything else. Unfortunately for him, she hates his guts, and wants nothing to do with him. But he’s a man who loves a challenge.

Shelby Jefferson can’t wait to get out of the city, and back to her country roots. She moved to Atlanta for a guy who promptly left her, and the last thing she wants is to fall for another man who might make her want to stay. But Eric is nothing if not persistent, and before long she’s inside his arms, in his bed, and she’s falling for him. Hard. But when history repeats itself, and she has to choose between a man and herself––again.

He patted his pockets and turned around to pick up his jacket. His muscles flexed under his shirt, something the fabric did nothing to hide. He wore a gray suit, and the pants hugged his rear. And when he turned around…sweet baby Jesus.

It hugged other things, too.

Things she’d been without for over two years now.

He faced her and froze. He stared at her again, taking in her red dress, and the heels she’d carefully put on earlier. She never wore heels. Or tight dresses. But tonight…

What was she doing?

This was a horrible idea.

“Christ, Shelby, you’re beautiful.” He ran his knuckles down her bare arm, leaving behind a tingling sensation that quickly turned into red-hot need. His nostrils flared, and he stepped closer, reading her reaction to him like an open book and clearly liking what he saw. “I want to kiss you. Right here. Right now.”

Her stomach tightened in response, and she pressed a hand to it as her breath quickened. It didn’t help. Nothing would. Nothing except…him. He seemed unaware of her internal struggle as he rested a hand on her lower back. His touch burned through the fabric, scorching her skin, and he stepped closer. His cologne teased her nose, and she breathed it in, swaying closer.

That was all it took.

He lowered his face, his mouth an inch from hers as he—

No. No, no, no, no.

“Can I have a second, please?” she blurted as she sidestepped him.

He frowned, letting go of her instantly, his forehead wrinkled with confusion. “Yes, of course.”

She bolted into the bathroom, closing the door and taking deep breaths. The room spun, and all she could think, all she could feel, was his hand on her, and her reaction to it.

This was a bad idea.

Horrible.

Yet, if she didn’t see this through, if she didn’t show him she was the wrong girl for him in the most obvious way possible, then he’d keep throwing those heated stares her way, like he had today in court, and he’d haunt her forever.

Eventually, if he kept staring at her like he was starving and she was his next meal, she’d give in and let him win gobble her up. She couldn’t let that happen.

This had to end tonight.

“Shelby?” he called out, knocking lightly on the door. “Look, if you changed your mind, we can just cancel the date and—”

She opened the door, meeting his eyes. “I didn’t change my mind. I just”—needed a second to breathe—“had to powder my nose again. My makeup was uneven.”

He eyed her suspiciously but stepped aside so she could come out. “If you’re sure. I’d never want you to think you had to go out with me. If you’re not interested, then I’ll go home. No harm done. I’ll leave you alone.”

But he wouldn’t. Not really.

She had to make him not want her anymore.

A fun read!

I really enjoyed both Eric and Shelby’s early relationship (she won’t give him the time of day, he’s determined to win her over like a gentleman instead of his usual manwh*rish persona) and their “friendship”–because man, can he pull out all the stops when he wants to, and even though Shelby really is pretty wowed by him (abs. And butt. And actually a nice guy in there somewhere) she still gives even better than she gets in their relationship. And though he’s never done it before, Eric does give a good grovel.

You gotta love a good grovel.

Which admittedly he wouldn’t have needed if he hadn’t turned into a total tool at about 80%–even though what seemed like it was going to be their black moment was caused by a non-communication issue (not my favorite plot device, but here it was fairly believable) was Eric content with that? Oh, no–he had to take it to the next level of WTFery and nearly lost me–but the aforementioned groveling saved him and the story.

Romancing the Bachelor is the second in the Hamilton Family series, but worked just fine as a standalone.

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Diane Alberts is a USA TODAY bestselling Contemporary Romance author with Entangled Publishing. Under the name Jen McLaughlin, she also writes New York Times, USA TODAY, and Wall Street Journal bestselling books with Penguin Random House. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists. Diane is represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency.
 

 

Release Day Review! THE NANNY ARRANGEMENT by Rachel Harris (Country Blues #2)

The Nanny Arrangement
by Rachel Harris

Synopsis:

Soft-spoken and shy Hannah Fisher is determined to make the man she’s loved her entire life finally see her as a woman. With the help of a makeover, a new mission—Operation Find My Happy—and the convenient forced proximity of a tour bus, she vows to win her best friend Deacon’s heart.

Former bad boy and current fiddle player Deacon Latrell has the world at his fingertips: a new gig with a famous band, plus his best friend on tour as his son’s nanny. Life couldn’t get much sweeter. Now if only he could stop imagining kissing the daylights out of his childhood BFF…

With one friend set on pushing the boundaries and the other afraid to rock the boat, one thing’s for certain—their story would make one heck of a country song.

Soft-spoken and shy Hannah Fisher is determined to make the man she’s loved her entire life finally see her as a woman. With the help of a makeover, a new mission—Operation Find My Happy—and the convenient forced proximity of a tour bus, she vows to win her best friend Deacon’s heart.

Former bad boy and current fiddle player Deacon Latrell has the world at his fingertips: a new gig with a famous band, plus his best friend on tour as his son’s nanny. Life couldn’t get much sweeter. Now if only he could stop imagining kissing the daylights out of his childhood BFF…

With one friend set on pushing the boundaries and the other afraid to rock the boat, one thing’s for certain—their story would make one heck of a country song.

 

Review:

The Nanny Arrangement is an excellent example of one of my favorite troupes–friends-to-lovers. Hannah and Deacon are absolutely adorable together, whether it’s their very first interaction or their one thousandth. When you add in Deacon’s two-year-old son Max, it’s pretty much sweetness overload.

The two main reasons the two of them haven’t gotten together yet are 1) Hannah’s certainty that Deacon is beyond her reach (kind of annoying, since they started in pretty much the same place) and 2) Deacon’s certainty that he can’t have nice things because in the end everyone lets him down (also kind of annoying, because in ten years Hannah and her family have been there for him, even though his family and ex haven’t been). And yes, some actual, adult conversation between the two of them probably would have cleared everything up–and yet, this book ended up working for me anyway, even though those factors are usually deal breakers. I’m going to give credit to Ms. Harris’s writing and such likable characters that I’m willing to overlook their flaws.

The Nanny Arrangement is the second book in the series (third, if you want to count Tyler and Sherry’s book, Accidentally Married on Purpose, which is actually part of a previous series but clearly connected, as Tyler’s the lead singer of the band) but could be read as a standalone. Certain aspects of the story–things happen for both of the H/hs from the other books here–will have more meaning if you’ve read the other stories, but it’s not necessary if you haven’t yet.

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.


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