New Release Review and Giveaway! LOVE WITH A SCOTTISH OUTLAW by Gayle Callen (Highland Weddings #3)

All she does know? She’s starting to fall in love with him. 

 

LOVE WITH A SCOTTISH OUTLAW
Highland Weddings #3
Gayle Callen
Releasing June 27, 2017
Avon Books

 

Catriona Duff can’t remember who she is. Discovered in the midst of a raging thunderstorm, she has no recollection of how she came to be there or how the guards around her ended up dead. She certainly doesn’t remember that the handsome Highlander who saves her is her family’s sworn enemy. All she does know? She’s starting to fall in love with him.

Duncan Carlyle couldn’t believe his luck when he found Catriona, the daughter of the man who made him an outlaw and forced him from his ancestral home, stranded on the road with nothing to her name–including her memory. Speaking out against Aberfoyle’s evil practices of stealing poor and orphaned children to sell to the highest bidder has cost him everything, but now he has the opportunity to make the man understand the true price of a missing child. But as Duncan begins to know Cat, guilt over his actions wars with his irrepressible desire for her.

When Cat discovers the truth of her identity, she decides she can teach the outlawed clan chief a lesson, but in love, there’s more than one way to win.

 


Duncan lifted the woman’s upper body into his left arm, cradling her head so that he blocked the rain. He probed near her wound gingerly with his right hand, and she frowned and weakly tried to turn away.

His wariness deepened. There was something about her, a familiarity that echoed inside his head but refused to take shape.

“Where am I?” she whispered, her accent English. “What happened?”

An English lady in the Highlands? He chose to answer the second question rather than the first. “Ye’ve a nasty wound to your head, mistress. Did ye fall?”

She blinked as if she might lose consciousness. “Where am I? What happened?”

Now it was his turn to blink, but he remembered that wounds of the head could cause confusion. He knew he had to stop the blood loss.

“Mistress, can ye stand?”

She opened those eyes again, large and golden, in a delicate face. Her dark hair streamed back from her forehead, her hairline coming to a peak.

He recognized her, a flash of memory from Stirling several years ago, when he’d glared his hatred at the Earl of Aberfoyle, a haughty old man on horseback, forcing aside a poor lass heavy with child to make way for him. The earl’s family was seldom in Scotland, so their arrival in the Highlands had caused a stir. Duncan had seen this woman riding just behind, wearing the fine gown and jaunty hat that marked her a noble lady. At least she’d looked distressed at her father’s actions.

Catriona Duff was the daughter of Aberfoyle, the chief of the Clan Duff and Duncan’s bitter enemy. Aberfoyle was one of the main reasons that Duncan was an outlaw who had to protect and feed his people while on the run.

He lifted his head and looked about, as if the earl and his entire retinue were somewhere nearby, waiting to attack him. “Where are your men?” he demanded.

“What happened?” she asked weakly.

“Ye’ve hit your head. Where are your men?”

“My—men?”

Her hand fluttered toward her forehead, but he didn’t allow her to touch the wound.

A spasm of pain narrowed her eyes. “I found them . . . dead,” she whispered. “What happened to me?”

“I don’t know.” Six weeks after almost being captured, he was still wary of anything unusual in his part of the Highlands. Dead men would prove her story true, but he couldn’t deal with them now.

“I—I can’t remember—I can’t remember anything!” Though her cry was feeble, it was full of helplessness and fear.

“Ye don’t remember the accident?”

“Not . . . the accident, not even . . . my name.”

He frowned down at her, wondering at what intrigue she was playing—or what her father had set in motion. He wouldn’t put it past the bastard.

She clutched his plaid. “What happened to me?” she cried in despair.

“I do not ken. I must clean that wound. Can ye stand? I can pull ye up on my horse.”

He rose, lifting her up with him until she could clutch the saddle for support. After mounting, he reached down for her. He would have preferred she ride astride behind him, but she seemed so weak that he ended up cradling her across his thighs. She leaned into him, her head lolling onto his chest, her blood staining his black, red, and yellow plaid.

It didn’t take long to reach the rocky overhang he’d used for shelter several other times. Once out of the rain, he searched his saddle pack but found nothing that would do for a clean bandage. He ended up cutting several strips from the end of his shirt with his dirk. The wound seemed clean enough after all the rain, so he wrapped the improvised bandages around her head and hoped they stopped the bleeding.

She looked at him helplessly the whole time, and he felt like she was memorizing his features. He studied her, too. Her high cheekbones emphasized the hollows beneath, and her full lips hinted at an expressive mouth. Her pale face was as remote and beautiful as a statue, making her appeal to him on a primitive level that he would never acknowledge.

Why was she in the remote Highlands? According to gossip he’d heard long ago, she rarely visited her father’s castles. Was she the advance of a larger party headed right for Duncan’s unsuspecting people? She was so close to his hidden encampment. If he let her go, she could bring men to hunt the area, risking his people—risking the good he was trying to do. He couldn’t release her until he knew all the facts.

I love this series! <3

Duncan and Cat’s story is just so good. I haven’t read a lot of amnesia stories–it always seems to me an awfully convenient plot device–but here it works, and OMG it creates one heck of a story. Even though Duncan starts out their relationship…well, lying to Cat and to his people…he does so for the same reason he’s been doing just about everything since taking over as head of his clan–in an attempt to keep the Carlyle clan safe. And yeah, he takes a big risk keeping up those lies, but I’m not sure he could have told her much earlier than she found out. Well, maybe he could have…but that might have robbed us of our grand gesture moment.

Because OMG. These two. So good together! And what a fabulous ending 🙂

Here’s hoping there’s going to be more Highland Weddings to come, because I will be so there! 🙂

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

 


After a 
detour through fitness instructing and computer programming, Gayle Callen found the life she’d always dreamed of as a romance writer. This USA Today bestselling author has written more than twenty historical romances for Avon Books, and her novels have won the Holt Medallion, the Laurel Wreath Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, and been translated into eleven different languages. The mother of three grown children, an avid crafter, singer, and outdoor enthusiast, Gayle lives in Central New York with her dog Uma and her husband, Jim the Romance Hero. She also writes contemporary romances as Emma Cane. Discover more at her website.
 

 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! THE DAY OF THE DUCHESS by Sarah MacLean (Scandal & Scoundrel #3)

A love that neither can deny…
 
THE DAY OF THE DUCHESS
Scandal & Scoundrel #3
Sarah MacLean
Releasing June 27, 2017
Avon Books

The one woman he will never forget…Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem—he already has one.

The one man she will never forgive…

After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a single goal—to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow cannot resist.

A love that neither can deny…

The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their broken past, he can give her forever, making every day…

 


Chapter 1

DESERTED DUKE DISAVOWED!

August 19, 1836

House of Lords, Parliament

 

She’d left him two years, seven months ago, exactly.

Malcolm Marcus Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven looked to the tiny wooden calendar wheels inlaid into the blotter on his desk in his private office above the House of Lords.

August the nineteenth, 1836. The last day of the parliamentary session, filled with pomp and idle. And lingering memory. He spun the wheel with the six embossed upon it. Five. Four. He took a deep breath.

Get out. He heard his own words, cold and angry with betrayal, echoing with quiet menace. Don’t ever return.

He touched the wheel again. August became July. May. March.

January the nineteenth, 1834. The day she left.

His fingers moved without thought, finding comfort in the familiar click of the wheels.

April the seventeenth, 1833.

The way I feel about you . . . Her words now—soft and full of temptation. I’ve never felt anything like this.

He hadn’t, either. As though light and breath and hope had flooded the room, filling all the dark spaces. Filling his lungs and heart. And all because of her.

Until he’d discovered the truth. The truth, which had mattered so much until it hadn’t mattered at all.

Where had she gone?

The clock in the corner of the room ticked and tocked, counting the seconds until Haven was due in his seat in the hallowed main chamber of the House of Lords, where men of higher purpose and passion had sat before him for generations. His fingers played the little calendar like a virtuoso, as though they’d done this dance a hundred times before. A thousand.

And they had.

March the first, 1833. The day they met.

So, they let simply anyone become a duke, do they? No deference. Teasing and charm and pure, unadulterated beauty.

If you think dukes are bad, imagine what they accept from duchesses?

That smile. As though she’d never met another man. As though she’d never wanted to. He’d been hers the moment he’d seen that smile. Before that. Imagine, indeed.

And then it had fallen apart. He’d lost everything, and then lost her. Or perhaps it had been the reverse. Or perhaps it was all the same.

Would there ever be a time when he stopped thinking of her? Ever a date that did not remind him of her? Of the time that had stretched like an eternity since she’d left?

Where had she gone?

The clock struck eleven, heavy chimes sounding in the room, echoed by a dozen others sounding down the long, oaken corridor beyond, summoning men of longstanding name to the duty that had been theirs before they drew breath.

Haven spun the calendar wheels with force, leaving them as they lay. November the thirty-seventh, 3842. A fine date—one on which he had absolutely no chance of thinking of her.

OH MY GOSH, THE ANGST.
Seriously, I don’t think I’ve read this much delicious romantic angst since The Scarlet Pimpernel…except, every scene between Sera and Mal is like the one where Percy kisses everywhere that Marguerite’s hand touched after she left him outside their home. So much love, buried under so many layers and years of hurting each other and being hurt…
GAH.
Though here we’ve got the lot of the Soiled Ss to keep things interesting, and a batch of suitesses (LOL, even when they’re thinking they need a new name for them, they’re still using the label) and a fluffy, bad-tempered, shedding like a fiend cat…plus, Sarah MacLean’s writing. So. Good. Even when I’m aggravated beyond reason with Sera for her stubborn insistence that they have no future together, I couldn’t get angry with the story, because did I mention, it’s so good?
Warning: once I’d started this book, I was good for absolutely nothing until I saw Sera and Mal to their long deserved HEA! (And can I just say–HA! I knew that what happens in the epilogue was going to happen!)
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

New York Times, Washington Post & USA 
Today bestseller Sarah MacLean is the author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than twenty languages, and winner of back-to-back RITA Awards for best historical romance from the Romance Writers of America.

Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. She is the author of a monthly column celebrating the best of the genre for the Washington Post. Her work in support of romance and the women who read it earned her a place on Jezebel.com’s Sheroes list of 2014 and led Entertainment Weekly to call her “gracefully furious.” A graduate of Smith College & Harvard University, Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

 

New Release Review! WHY I LOATHE STERLING LANE by Ingrid Paulson

Why I Loathe Sterling Lane
by Ingrid Paulson
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen

 

Synopsis:

Per her 537 rules, Harper Campbell keeps her life tidy—academically and socially. But the moment Sterling Lane transfers into her tiny boarding school, her twin brother gets swept up in Sterling’s pranks and schemes and nearly gets expelled. Harper knows it’s Sterling’s fault, and to protect her brother, she vows to take him down. As she exposes his endless school violations, he keeps striking back, framing her for his own infractions. Worst of all, he’s charmed the administration into thinking he’s harmless, and only Harper sees him for the troublemaker he absolutely is.

As she breaks rule after precious rule in her battle of wits against Sterling and tension between them hits a boiling point, she’s horrified to discover that perhaps the two of them aren’t so different. And maybe she doesn’t entirely hate him after all. Teaming up with Sterling to save her brother might be the only way to keep from breaking the most important rule—protecting Cole.

Link to Goodreads:

Purchase Links:

Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

 

Review:

Why I Loathe Sterling Lane was so much fun to read! It’s got everything in it that makes enemies-to-lovers so much fun to read: snarky comebacks, laugh out loud one-upmanship, surprise kisses, and partial public nudity–really, what more could one want? 😉

When Harper and her 537 Rules (yes, she capitalizes it–Every. Time.) meet chronic rule-breaker and smoother-than-a-politician truth stretcher Sterling, brace yourself for impact. Their prank war was absolutely epic (and really makes me want to do some experimenting with a classic British Mini Cooper and Mini Moe #2’s future dorm room–though if that one didn’t work, I’d be beyond bummed. Surely the author did her research there?) I loved that Sterling, Cole, Kendall, and Parker were able to help Harper to finally loosen up and start living her life–almost as much as I adored the fact that his competition with Harper in turn inspired Sterling to start making more of an effort in life. A true example of opposites bringing out the best in each other. As Kendall puts it, “The two of you are just–bizarrely, diametrically opposite, but that makes you fit together somehow.”

Truth.

I will absolutely sign up to see whatever Ms. Paulson has in store for us next! Her unique writing style kept me turning the pages, highlighting passages and reading out loud to random passersby, dying to see what Harper and Sterling Lane were going to do next.

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

 

About the Author:

Ingrid Paulson does not, in fact, loathe anyone. Although the snarky sense of humor and verbal barbs in Why I Loathe Sterling Lane might suggest otherwise (and shock those who think they know her best).

Ingrid lives in San Francisco with her husband and children and enjoys long-distance running, eavesdropping, and watching science documentaries. She has always loved books and writing short stories, but was surprised one day to discover the story she was working on wasn’t so short any more. Valkyrie Rising, a paranormal girl power story, was Ingrid’s first novel. Expect another humorous contemporary romance to join the list soon.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest

New Release Review and Giveaway! A MOST UNLIKELY DUKE by Sophie Barnes (Diamonds in the Rough #1)

He never thought he’d become a duke,  or that the secrets of his past will cost him his greatest love…
 
A MOST UNLIKELY DUKE
Diamonds in the Rough #1
Sophie Barnes
Releasing June 27, 2017
Avon Books
Raphe Matthews hasn’t stepped foot in polite circles since a tragedy left his once-noble family impoverished and in debt. The bare-knuckle boxer has spent the last fifteen years eking out an existence for himself and his two sisters. But when a stunning reversal of fortunes lands Raphe the title of Duke of Huntley, he’s determined to make a go of becoming a proper lord, but he’ll need a little help and his captivating neighbor might be just the woman for the job…
After her sister’s scandalous match, Lady Gabriella knows the ton’s eyes are on her. Agreeing to tutor the brutish new duke can only lead to ruin. Although she tries to control her irresistible attraction to Raphe, every day she spends with him only deepens her realization that this may be the one man she cannot do without. And as scandal threatens to envelope them both, she must decide if she can risk everything for love with a most unlikely duke.
 

It was past eleven o’clock in the evening by the time Raphe returned home, his knuckles tender and his body still sore from the fight. Glad to get out of the cold, he closed the door on the rain that now poured from a thunderous sky, shrugged out of his coat and hung it on a hook behind the door just as his sister Amelia entered from an adjoining room that served as a small parlor.

“Good evenin’.” She yawned, leaning against the door frame. Squinting through the darkness, Raphe echoed her salutation. “I thought ye would be asleep by now.”

Stepping past her, he entered their tiny kitchen and snatched up the tinder box.

“I was,” Amelia said, following him into the chilly room. A threadbare shawl was draped across her shoulders, and as she pulled it tighter with pale and trembling fingers, Raphe felt his heart lurch. This wasn’t right. His sister did not deserve to live like this. None of them did. Pushing aside such fruitless ponderings, he found a candle, struck a flint and held it to the wick until a flame began to bloom, driving the darkness toward the walls where it struggled against the light.

“If it makes any difference, Juliette’s safely tucked into bed.” Amelia said, referring to their younger sister, whose weaker disposition was a constant cause for unease. When Raphe lifted the lid of a nearby pot and peered inside, Amelia added, “I made soup for dinner.”

“Smells delicious,” he dutifully told her.

“We both know ‘ow untrue that is, bu’ I appreciate yer optimism.”

Meeting her gaze, Raphe made a deliberate effort to smile. “Per’aps I can manage some meat for us tomorrow.” It would certainly be a welcome change from the potatoes and turnips they’d been eating for what seemed like forever. Christ, he was so tired of having a sore belly all the time, and his sisters . . . they never complained, but he knew they needed better nourishment than what they were getting.

“That’d be nice,” Amelia said. Her tone, however, suggested that she doubted his ability to manage such a feat. Bothered by her lack of faith in him, he grabbed a chunk of bread and tore off a large piece. “A chicken ought to be possible. If we make it last a few days.”

Amelia simply nodded. Grabbing a cup, she filled it with water and placed it before him. “I miss the smell of a bustlin’ kitchen.”

The comment threw him for a second. “Wha’?”

“Meat roastin’ on the fire, bread bakin’ in the oven.” She shook her head wistfully. “It’s funny. I

can’t picture Mama, but I remember Cook—plump cheeks an’ a kind smile. I remember bein’ ‘appy in the kitchen back ‘ome.”

The sentimental thought made Raphe weary. He didn’t bother to point out that she’d only been seven when they’d lost their parents and there’d been nothing left for Raphe to do but turn his back on the house in which they’d spent the early years of their childhoods and walk away, taking his siblings with him. He’d been no more than eight years old and with a mighty burden weighing on his shoulders. “I know this isn’t the sor’ of life that any of us ever imagined.”

Feeling his temper begin to rise at the memory of what their parents had done to them all, he added, “Hopefully, in time, things’ll get better.”

“I’m sure ye’re right.” Could she possibly sound any more unconvinced?

He ate a spoonful of soup, the bland flavor just a touch better than plain hot water. Amelia took a step forward. “The reason I didn’t retire with Juliette earlier is ’cause of this letter.” She waved a piece of paper in his direction. “It arrived for ye today while ye were out.”

Frowning, Raphe stared at her. “Do ye know who sent it?” He couldn’t even recall the last time he’d received a letter. Nobody ever wrote to him or his sisters.

“The sender’s name’s smudged. So’s the address. It’s a miracle it arrived here at all.” Handing the letter to Raphe, she watched as he turned it over and studied the penmanship. Sure enough, the only legible part of the address, which even appeared to have been altered once or twice, was his name: Mister Raphael Matthews.

I really liked this story!

Though parts of it didn’t feel totally accurate–smaller details, mostly; overall it was fairly plausible historical fiction–the story was entertaining and the characters extremely likable. And though I shuddered slightly when Gabriella was hanging out with spiders and beetles (spiders! and beetles!) it was really easy to adore her character anyway. And Raphe…ah, Raphe. You’ve got to love a guy who’s been taking care of his younger sisters since the age of eight and somehow managed to educate all three of them himself. (One of the aforementioned details–where on earth would they get books as penniless, parentless kids living in St. Giles? But still, it’s hard not to love characters who get excited by libraries and bookstores, so I’ll go with it :))

Also very interesting to note that though there’s chemistry galore here and all kinds of lusting after each other, actual sexytimes are sparse. I actually didn’t miss it–it was nice to focus on the relationship for a change…plus, chemistry and lust and hot and heavy dreams filled in the gap nicely 😉

Raphe’s younger sister Amelia is clearly being set up as the heroine of the next book, and I am so there, people! Can’t wait!

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.


Born in Denmark, Sophie Barnes spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish, and Romanian. But, most impressive of all, she’s been married to the same man three times—in three different countries and in three different dresses. 

When she’s not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading.

Release Day Review! WHERE I BELONG by M. O’Keefe (The Debt #2)


Where I Belong

by Molly O’Keefe

 

THE GIRL I LOVED IS THE WOMAN I CAN’T HAVE

It was simple: Pay the debt and I stay out of jail. Pay the debt and I stay alive.

But I sacrificed it all for Beth.

I didn’t pay what I owed. I’m sure punishment is coming, but I can take it – as long as Beth is safe. Away from her mother and everyone else who would hurt her.

I gave it all up for two days with her. And it was worth it.

She always was.

THE SECRETS WE KEEP ARE WHAT TEARS US APART

We’re supposed to be done. Over. Tommy goes his way, I go mine. Cue the heartbreaking music.

I’m supposed to forget him, but I don’t think I can. And when the danger closes in on Tommy, we’re on the run again. From Bates. From my mother. From our past. And there are no safe places to hide.

Except one. And it’s the place that will hurt Tommy the most.

But maybe it’s time for me to face my past. My demons.

Maybe it’s time for me to save Tommy for once.

 

Review:

The intense emotion and drama continue…

Where I Belong picks up just moments before Lost Without You ended, in a moment of intense drama (yes, you really need to have read book one first–sorry!) and Ms. O’Keefe continues to keep the level up throughout. Lies old and new, a hero and heroine in hiding and attracting national attention, the suspense of wondering what will happen since “the debt” has been defaulted…this one is definitely not a light beach read!

(Warning: have a cold drink and a fan handy, because there’s some pretty steamy scenes ahead…)

For all of the tension and drama, though, Tommy and Beth’s triumph over their difficulties comes rather abruptly. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy with the ending, but their victory manages to seem almost anticlimactic in the ease in which it comes about. Still, an HEA is an HEA, and we get a satisfactory on here–plus, we’re left in great suspense at the end about the next person on Bate’s debt list. Next up: Simon’s book! Can’t wait 🙂

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

View all my reviews

 

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.

BUY:

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! TALK BRITISH TO ME by Robin Bielman (Wherever You Go #1)

Talk British to Me, an all-new sexy STANDALONE romance from Robin Bielman is available now!!

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Talk British to Me
by Robin Bielman
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

As the Dating Guy on L.A.’s top morning show, I give the single guy’s perspective on dating, love, and sex—and I give great advice. Everyone’s hooking up…well, except for me. Sure, I can get any woman I want, but I’ve got a “no relationship” clause in my contract and the only woman I want has “relationship” written all over her. Probably stamped on her ass, too. And wouldn’t I like to confirm that.

Unfortunately, she wants nothing to do with me. At all. Something about the next Ice Age might have even come up in her rebuttal. Adorable. Because she’s determined to ignore what one simple kiss proved: she wants me as badly as I want her.

Everything in me is screaming to go after her, but I’ve got a secret that I’m fairly certain will end up with her roasting my nuts over an open fire. So, job on the line? Check. Nuts on the line? Check. Can’t get her out of my head? Nail…meet coffin. But what a way to go…

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Excerpt:

I lean down to whisper in her ear. I can’t help it. I can tell from her body language that I make her nervous, and right now I’m a total cad, but I’m curious to see her reaction to my words. She did walk right into them. “Are you saying I make you wet, Teague?”

The trunk pops open, almost hitting her in the forehead when she balks at my question. She’s blushing, but her warm blue eyes hook me with sparks of anger. Several charged seconds pass before she speaks.

“Does it hurt? Being so full of yourself?” She turns to rummage

through a small pile of clothes in her trunk. “News flash, stuck-up”—she glances at my attire, I’m guessing—“jock, you don’t make me feel anything. I’m sure there are plenty of girls in this town you can charm the panties off of with your attitude and voice, but I’m not one of them. So please do me a favor and keep your unsavory thoughts to yourself.”

Several things about what she just said hit me like a ton of goddamn bricks. That she called me a jock makes me grin. I’m wearing long athletic shorts with my collared shirt and running shoes.

She’s right about girls’ panties, but she’s the only girl to mention my voice. What would she think if I used my British accent on her? The station manager says she gets more calls about my accent than anything else.

And this bolder, more assertive, yet wholesome Teague is hot.
Don’t even get me started on her use of the word “unsavory.”

I am so fucked.

This isn’t a random chick anymore. She works for my mom. This sweet, beautiful, genuine, fascinating girl has a last name and knows my mother.

 

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Review:

Loved!

I absolutely adored Mateo’s voice–his cocky confidence in himself and his abilities was so much fun to read! (And made it all that much more meaningful when he started to question things he’d never questioned before!) Teague wasn’t too bad herself–plus, she was so easy to identify with–really, I just had so much fun with this one. There are many, many highlighted passages in my digital version, and there may have been a few instances of snort-laughing. Though I’ll never tell. 😉

The secondary characters here are a lot of fun too–Teague’s BFF Harper and Mateo’s roommate Levi are clearly being set up for a future series book (yay!), plus they have a third roommate (double yay!), and don’t even get me started on Zoe, their six-year-old next door neighbor and the cutest kid (sadly only fictionally) alive–Ms. Bielman made them all come alive on the page, and made you want to become besties with every single one of them.

The first in a new series, Talk British to Me (and OMG, that title leads me to one of my favorite bits, at the very end) is also being referred to as a standalone, but if you really want more of these characters and don’t feel like waiting for book two, Teague’s the younger sister of Luke from Kissing the Maid of Honor and Erin from Wild About Her Wingman in the Secret Wishes series.

You’re welcome 😉

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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About Robin: Robin2-287x3001
When not attached to her laptop, USA Today Bestselling Author and RITA Finalist, Robin Bielman can almost always be found with her nose in a book. A California girl, the beach is her favorite place for fun and inspiration. Her fondness for swoon-worthy heroes who flirt and stumble upon the girl they can’t live without jumpstarts most of her story ideas.

She loves to go on adventures, and has skydived, scuba dived, parasailed, gotten lost in the wilderness (and only suffered a gazillion bug bites for it) hiked to waterfalls, and swam with dolphins. In her spare time she also likes to put her treadmill to good use while watching her favorite TV shows, take hikes with her hubby, indulge her sweet tooth, and play sock tug of war with her cute, but sometimes naughty dog, Harry.

She dreams of traveling to faraway places and loves to connect with readers. Keep in touch at all of her social media spots!

Connect With Robin:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RobinBielmanWriter

Twitter: @RobinBielman

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/robin-bielman

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5825070.Robin_Bielman

Stay up to date with Robin by signing up for her newsletter:

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http://robinbielman.com

New Release Review and Giveaway! DATING THE WRONG MR. RIGHT by Amanda Ashby (The Sisters of Wishing Bridge Farm #3)


Dating the Wrong Mr. Right
by Amanda Ashby
Publication Date: June 19, 2017
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Bliss, Contemporary, Romance

SYNOPSIS:
Pepper Watson has lost everything–her job, her fiancé, and the future she’d so carefully planned. Now she’s back at Wishing Bridge trying to figure out her next step. Her new plan does not include the ever-so-sexy Ben Cooper. Nope. She’s getting her life back on track, and getting out of this little town as fast as possible.

Ben Cooper is doing his best to build his business and help his parents. The last thing he needs is the distraction that is Pepper Watson. She might be prickly every time he’s in her presence, but he sees another side of her. The side that has set aside her dreams to help her sisters. And then there’s the fact that kissing her is pretty much the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

He’s putting down roots. She’s running away. It’s going to take more than a wish for these two to find their happily ever after.

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Excerpt:

Next to her Coop shifted and lifted a finger up to her cheek. His touch was like a heat-ray and it wasn’t until he dropped his finger and mouthed the word ‘dust’ she remembered the candelabra.

She clamped down on her tongue to steady the uttering sensation in her stomach as she turned her attention back to the real problem. Paul.

Her ex-fiancé might be stubborn and controlling to a fault, but he never liked to contradict himself.

All I have to do is piss him off and he’ll walk away.

Exhilaration at finally getting her life back pumped through her veins and before she could stop herself, she did the one thing she swore she’d never allow herself to do.

She stood on her toes and searched for Coop’s mouth, her cheek still burning from his touch. The plan was to give him a small peck on the lips. Just enough to prove to Paul just how serious she was.

The reality was the moment her mouth brushed his, her stomach swirled and her entire body tingled. Big mistake.

She tried to pull away but forgot Coop’s arm was still around her shoulder and, as his lips formed a smile, he used his other arm to drag her closer, trapping her against his chest.

Somewhere in the distance Paul’s footsteps echoed against the wooden porch. But, it wasn’t until the sound of his engine roared into life she stepped away. Coop was grinning, as if kissing her was the biggest joke in the world.

“Well,” he said in a husky voice as he leaned against the staircase. “That was interesting. And now how about telling me what the hell’s going on?”

Which part? Where I finally got Paul to take me seriously, or that you kiss better than any man has a right to?

Either way, as far as Pepper could tell, she’d solved one problem by creating another one and now she was in trouble. Big, big trouble.

Review:
At long last–Pepper’s story 🙂

If you’ve read the other series books, you knew that Pepper was keeping secrets, and we’ve been almost as anxious as her sisters to figure out what they were. (If you haven’t read the others yet, no worries–this one should work fine as a standalone too…though her sisters play a pretty big part and you’ll probably end up wanting to know their stories as well. Just sayin’) Add in the fact that Pepper’s story is an enemies-to-lovers one, and boy, was I anxious to get to this book.

In many ways, it did not disappoint. We find out Pepper’s secrets–they are pretty heavy ones, and you absolutely want to see her back on her feet. There’s lots of cute moments between Pepper and her two sisters, and we get to see some major life moments for all the residents of Wishing Bridge Farm throughout the course of the book. There are more than a few funny, quirky moments with the townspeople throughout to keep the mood light–from what pie will be chosen for whom and why in the diner to who is going to ask Pepper for legal advice next and what their just left of left field question will be. Pepper and Coop have a history, which always has a lot to add to a story.

There were things, though, that frustrated me here. I love enemies-to-lovers stories, but Pepper’s animosity toward Coop felt like way too much. For all of her stomach swirling desire for him, she kept up the mean prickliness far too long–I’m not sure what kept him going in that direction, honestly. And I’m still scratching my head over their relationship black moment, because I felt even more blindsided by it than the characters did. Then they suffered–though we don’t really see much of it, because it’s off the pages–until they suddenly weren’t anymore. The resolution was cute, but awfully quick, and left me feeling not quite satisfied with how it came about.

Still, the story had an overall feel-good vibe, and I loved seeing Pepper finally open up to her sisters and watch them all progress through their HEAs. The ending really was pretty adorable, and the story even brought us a surprise wedding just to keep things interesting. A nice finish to a sweet series!

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.


ABOUT AMANDA ASHBY:

Amanda Ashby was born in Australia but now lives in New Zealand where she writes romance, young adult and middle grade books. She also works in a library, owns far too many vintage tablecloths and likes to delight her family by constantly rearranging the furniture.

She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two children. Her debut book was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award, and her first young adult book was listed by the New York Public Library?s Stuff for the Teen Age. Because she’s mysterious she also writes middle grade books under the name, Catherine Holt and hopes that all this writing won’t interfere with her Netflix schedule.

She also runs writing workshops and loves to speak to people about Buffy (er, she means writing). See her Website for more information.

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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.

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