A Conversation with Kari Lynn Dell, Author of TANGLED IN TEXAS (with a giveaway!)

 

Welcome, Kari Lynn! What 5 things should readers know about you?

  • I am, in person, one of the least romantic, most logic-bound people you’ll ever meet. We don’t even celebrate Valentine’s Day. My husband hates watching movies with me because I insist on pointing out plot holes and illogical character arcs, but I am incapable of just letting it go.
  • I am currently, simultaneously addicted to astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson’s podcast Star Talk and binge-watching the first season of Glee. I love me some show tunes and theories of relativity.
  • Ninety-nine percent of the scenes in Tangled involving Delon’s rehab were written from personal experience. I studied sports medicine in college and worked as a clinic-based athletic trainer in South Dakota and Oregon, spending my afternoons, evenings and weekends on the sidelines of local high school practices and games. Ask me about any sport, I’ve probably watched a thousand or so hours of it. Mornings I worked in the physical therapy clinic rehabbing athletes, just like Tori.
  • Also like Tori, I am obsessed with big rigs and would love to climb in and do a cross country road trip. Especially with someone who looks like Delon and has a chocolate stash. I would settle for my husband, though, who actually owns a commercial driver’s license. But sadly, not a truck.
  • I grew up as a rodeo rat, hanging out behind the chutes while my parents were competing. Beni Sanchez is a conglomeration of all the wise-beyond-their-years cowkids I’ve known. And been.

Fascinating! Thanks for sharing 🙂

 

Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

It all started with the George Strait song, I Can Still Make Cheyenne, about a professional cowboy who has been dropping in and out of a woman’s life as his rodeo schedule allowed. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKXdnBGIcm0 ) Finally one day he calls to say he’s coming home and she tells him not to bother, she’s found someone new. I love that song. And it got me thinking—what kind of guy would take off for weeks and not even call, and what kind of woman would put up with him? What would happen if their paths cross again, years down the road when they’re both older and wiser and life has knocked them around some? My imagination took it from there, and Delon and Tori were born.

Oooh, I love that song too! Awesome inspiration!

 

How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?

I started writing in the late ‘90s. We were living in Oregon and I was working as an athletic trainer at Pendleton High School, so I had summers off. I’ve always done a lot of reading—anything and everything—but romance has been one of my mainstays. As a rancher and cowgirl it was natural for me to gravitate toward western romances, but what I found wasn’t the world I live in. The characters didn’t look the same or talk the same as the cowboys and cowgirls I knew. In many cases the rodeo or ranch setting was a backdrop, not a central part of the plot. So with an entire summer vacation stretching ahead of me, I decided to write my own. Much to my surprise, I was good at it—and I got hooked.

 

What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?

I am currently working on the fourth book in the Texas Rodeo series (due spring 2018), what I call Shakedown in Texas on the good days, and This Damn Book the rest of the time. It stars Wyatt, the best friend of the hero of the first book, Reckless in Texas, and Melanie, the lifetime BFF of the heroine of the same book. Which makes things complicated right off the bat because, as one character points out, “You two hooking up would be like dating your best friend’s sister.” And it just gets weirder from there.

My next release will be Tougher in Texas which is currently available for pre-order at all of the usual online outlets or your local indie bookstore. I don’t like to play favorites, but I have to say, Shawnee (who you meet in Tangled) is my favorite heroine to date. Imagine Melissa McCarthy as a cowgirl, at her outrageous, sarcastic best. Then throw her together with Cole Jacobs, who was diagnosed as autistic at the end of Reckless in Texas and treasures nothing more than his safe, predictable routines. Wow, were they fun to write.

I bet—and they sound like even more fun to read!

 

What are you currently reading, and what are your thoughts about it so far?

The last book I read was The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, and it was awesome. A great study in how to write a story that is very narrowly focused on the hero and heroine, especially for a someone like me who loves her secondary characters and sub-plots. As for what I’m currently reading—I am banned from my To-Be-Read pile until I survive the release of Tangled and get through the first draft of Shakedown.

That sounds like a plan! Maybe I should ban myself from my TBR until the end of the semester…? Nope, not that strong. 😉

 

If you had to “sell” your book in a single Tweet, what would you say?

Pro bronc rider Delon Sanchez lost everything when his knee was shattered. One person can help him get it back—the woman who broke his heart.

Perfect! Thanks so much, Kari Lynn!

 

 

Kari Lynn Dell is a ranch-raised Montana cowgirl who attended her first rodeo at two weeks old and has existed in a state of horse-induced poverty ever since. She lives on the Blackfeet Reservation in her parents’ bunkhouse along with her husband, her son, and Max the Cowdog, with a tipi on her lawn, Glacier National Park on her doorstep and Canada within spitting distance. Her debut novel, The Long Ride Home, was published in 2015. She also writes a ranch and rodeo humor column for several regional newspapers and a national agricultural publication.

 

Buy Links:
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Title: Tangled in Texas
Series: Texas Rodeo, #2
Author: Kari Lynn Dell
Pub Date: February 7, 2017
ISBN: 9781492631972

 

It took 32 seconds to end his career.

But it only took 1 to change his life.

Thirty-two seconds. That’s how long it took for Delon Sanchez’s life to end. One minute he was the best bronc rider in the Panhandle and the next he was nothing. Knee shattered, future in question, all he can do is pull together the pieces…and wonder what cruel trick of fate has thrown him into the path of his ex, the oh-so-perfect Tori Patterson.

Tori’s come home after her husband’s death, intent on escaping the public eye. It’s just her luck that Delon limps into her physical therapy office, desperate for help. All hard-packed muscle and dark-eyed temptation, he’s never been anything but a bad idea. And yet, seeing him again, Tori can’t remember what made her choose foolish pride over love…or why, with this second, final chance to right old wrongs, the smartest choice would be to run from this gorgeous rodeo boy as fast as her boots can take her.

 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! LORD OF THE PRIVATEERS by Stephanie Laurens (The Adventurers Quartet #4)

Synopsis:

Revel in the action, drama, intrigue and passion as the Frobishers— with help from Wolverstone, the Cynsters and many familiar others— steer the adventure to a glorious end.

Unstoppable determination

Widely known as the lord of the privateers, Royd Frobisher expects to execute the final stage of the rescue mission his brothers have begun. What he does not expect is to be pressured into taking Isobel Carmichael—his childhood sweetheart, former handfasted bride and current business partner—with him. A force of nature, Isobel has a mission of her own: to find and bring a young cousin safely home. And along the way, she hopes to rid herself of the dreams of a life with Royd that still haunt her.

Unfinished business

Neither expects the shock that awaits them as they set sail, much less the new horizons that open before them as they embark on a full-scale rescue-assault on the compound deep in the jungle. Yet despite the support of his brothers and their ladies, Royd and Isobel discover that freeing the captives is only half the battle. To identify and convict the conspirators behind the illicit enterprise—and save England from political disaster—they must return to the ballrooms of the haut ton and hunt the villains on their home ground.

Unforgettable love

But having found each other again, having glimpsed the heaven that could yet be theirs, how much are Royd and Isobel willing to risk in the name of duty?

 

#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens delivers the thrilling conclusion to her acclaimed series THE ADVENTURERS QUARTET, a passionate Regency-era drama where intrigue and danger play out on the high seas and in exotic tropical jungles, ultimately reaching a dazzling climax in the glittering ballrooms of London.

Purchase Links:

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Review:

A fitting wrap up to the quartet!

Books 1-3 ( The Lady’s Command , A Buccaneer at Heart , and The Daredevil Snared ) have been building up to this point, where the enslaved men, women, and children at the diamond mine would be saved (or not), the slavers stopped (or not) and the mysterious backers revealed and punished (or not). Oh, yes, and when the final and eldest Frobisher brother, Royd, would find his HEA…or not.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I loved seeing all the brothers and their significant others work together for a common goal–the chemistry between them all is fantastic. I’d been anxiously awaiting the rescue of the captives at the diamond mine camp for months–though I loved getting to know Royd and Isobel (and a surprise someone else), I was practically bouncing on the edge of my seat, just waiting for them to get to Africa already.

Finally they do, and the rescue is of course very exciting and action-packed. But the book’s not over yet–the backers need to be identified and brought to heel, and Royd and Isobel need to resolve their relationship issues, once and for all, a relationship that’s literally been years in the making. So there’s a whole lot going on in this book: so many threads of the series to tie up, as well as those of all of the relationships–Royd and Isobel but also all of his brothers’ as well–making this a pretty hefty book. At just over 500 pages, it did feel like it possibly could have been tightened up a bit–all of the Black Cobra and Cynster characters did start to feel a bit like name-dropping after a while–but really, with everything going on here you know it’s not going to be able to get done in a short book, so be prepared to settle in for a good, long read when you pick this one up.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend starting with this one–everything here builds on the books that have gone before, and though they do bring Isobel up to speed (she gets involved because Kate in book 3 is her cousin) it’s still a lot to take in all at once. Ms. Laurens does do a good job of catching characters up without belaboring the point for the rest of us, though, which is much appreciated.

We leave all of the Frobisher brothers here in a good spot–happy weddings and babies galore on the horizon!–and there’s a teaser thrown in at the end for a future book for Catrina (Kit) Frobisher as well that will have me keeping an interested eye out.

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

About the Author:

Stephanie Laurens was born in Sri Lanka, which was at the time the British colony of Ceylon. When she was 5, her family moved to Melbourne, Australia, where she was raised. After continuing through school and earning a Ph.D. in Biochemistry in Australia, Stephanie and her husband moved to Great Britain, taking one of the last true overland journeys from Katmandu to London.

Stephanie and her husband live on peaceful acreage on the outskirts of Melbourne. If she isn’t writing, she’s reading, and if she’s not reading, she’s tending her garden.

Connect with Stephanie:

Website | Facebook

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New Release Review! SEARCHING FOR DISASTER by Jennifer Probst (Searching for #4.6)

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Blurb: 

The next highly anticipated novella in the Searching For series, a romantic spin-off of the Marriage to a Billionaire series from New York Times bestselling sensation Jennifer Probst.

When Isabella MacKenzie tries to move on from her disastrous past, Officer William Devine is determined to show her that love is the only way to heal. This sexy enovella, the final installment in Jennifer Probst’s heartwarming Searching For series, follows the high-powered women of the popular matchmaking agency Kinnections, located in the small, picturesque town of Verily, NY.

Review:

Searching for Disaster brings together two secondary characters from two other books in the series–Izzy (Gen’s twin sister in Searching for Beautiful ) and Liam (Officer Devine from Searching for Always )–yay! On top of that, the prologue tells us that Izzy and Liam actually have a past, making them a second chance romance–bonus! Throw in the fact that they both love the Star Wars franchise (and focus on the characters from movies #4-7, because even fictional characters feel the need to block out movies #1-3) and that’s pretty much the cherry on top of this novella 🙂

There were a lot of things to like in this story. Most of the series characters make an appearance at least once; the women of Kinnections, where Izzy has started working, play a pretty big role. It’s a second chance story for Izzy in more than one way–a former addict, she’s been clean for two years now, and is making a fresh start in a new place and reconnecting with her large and loving family. It has a pair of puppies named after my number one favorite famous couple, and plenty of references to two of Ms. Probst’s other series (Marriage to a Billionaire and Billionaire Builders) throughout. Definite pluses, all.

I really enjoyed reading this novella.

But…I actually wish there’d been a little less sexy times and a bit more relationship cuteness. (I know, I know! But it’s a novella. I always want a meatier relationship and way more cute couple times than we tend to get in novellas.) And though I absolutely get where Izzy is coming from with her reasoning for why she’s all wrong for Liam, she held on to that line of thinking way too long in the face of what they were coming to mean to each other. I really did like how Ms. Probst had her finally come to her senses, though–nice touch there.

Overall, this one’s bound to be a hit with fans of the series; it definitely hits all the right buttons. If you haven’t read the other books yet, you should do just fine–you won’t get every single reference, but Searching for Disaster is a sweet second chance story all on its own.

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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AUTHOR INFORMATION: 

Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She took a short hiatus to get married, get pregnant, buy a house, get pregnant again, pursue a master’s in English Literature, and rescue two shelter dogs. Now she is writing again.

She makes her home in Upstate New York with the whole crew. Her sons keep her active, stressed, joyous, and sad her house will never be truly clean.

She is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of sexy and erotic contemporary romance. She was thrilled her book, The Marriage Bargain, was ranked #6 on Amazon’s Best Books for 2012. She loves hearing from readers. Visit her website for updates on new releases and her street team at www.jenniferprobst.com.

Website:  www.jenniferprobst.com
Facebook Fan Page:  https://www.facebook.com/jenniferprobst.authorpage
Twitter:   https://twitter.com/jenniferprobst
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2965489.Jennifer_Probst

 

New Release Review and Giveaway! 12 STEPS TO MR. RIGHT by Cindi Madsen

12 Steps to Mr. Right Cover
12 Steps to Mr. Right
by Cindi Madsen
Publication Date: September 26, 2016
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Contemporary Select, Romance

Synopsis:
12 steps to finding Mr. Right, composed by dating coach extraordinaire Savannah Gamble:
  1. Admit to being powerless over your attraction to the wrong type of guy. (Like Lincoln Wells, who broke your heart after an unforgettable one-night stand.)
  2. Believe Mr. Right is out there.
  3. Take inventory of past mistakes. (See step #1.)
  4. Make a list of qualities you want in a man. (Avoid charming baseball players/reason you made these rules in the first place)
  5. Take charge of your own life.
  6. Learn to love yourself.
  7. Sort the hookup guys from the relationship guys. (Avoid a painful brushoff after an amazing night together.)
  8. Never, ever settle. (Even if the chemistry is off-the-charts.)
  9. Don’t believe you can change a guy. (Once a commitment-phobe, always a commitment-phobe)
  10. Communicate your needs.
  11. Open your heart & love fully. (Still working on this one…)
  12. Don’t ever, ever stray from the steps.

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Review:

The romance in this one is sloooow moving, and it seems a little strange now to read an adult romance with a single POV (I want to know how he’s feeling, and I want to know NOW, darn it!;)) but ohmygoodness, the last 10% of this one made up for every bit before it when I didn’t get what was up with Linc or wanted to tell Savannah what she could do with her rules.

So. Good. There were tears. More than one batch. I might have even crossed over into sloppy crying, if I hadn’t been in a public restaurant and trying really, really hard not to embarrass my poor unsuspecting teenaged son.

Don’t get me wrong–I didn’t spend the first 90% in perpetual aggravation, and I really did enjoy Savannah’s voice from the first page to the last. I love her business (why, oh why isn’t it real and why isn’t she operating right here in my town?) and what she does for women, and her rules really do make a lot of sense. (#12 is the one that started the tearfest, BTW. It sounds good on the first page, but later on…? Sigh.) But we wait an awfully long time to find out exactly how her and Linc’s first time really went, and even longer to find out what the heck he was thinking then and since. There’s all kinds of good stuff in between about holding out for what you deserve, and friends and family goodness (Ivy and Jackson! Tell me they’re getting a book,please!) and learning to truly know and trust yourself–all good things. But it was frustrating to have Savannah and Linc moving sooo slowly and feel like the truth was out there, but just out of reach.

But that last 10%? Was killer.

Loved.

Every.

Page.

Except then I wasn’t ready to let go…

(So…Ivy and Jackson, yes? Soon?)

And for the record, I totally agree with Savannah. Baseball games are way too long, and their pants are totally like Regency-era silk breeches. I can’t believe I’ve never noticed before!

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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ABOUT CINDI MADSEN:Cindi Madsen

Cindi Madsen is a USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance and young adult novels. She sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children.

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

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New Release Review and Giveaway! A FOOL FOR YOU by Katee Robert (Foolproof Love #3)

He never thought he’d get a second chance.  A Fool For You is the third and final novel in the Foolproof Love series from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Katee Robert and Entangled Publishing.  

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Title: A Fool For You
Author: Katee Robert
Series: Foolproof Love #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 3, 2016
Publisher: Entangled Brazen

 

Synopsis:

It’s been thirteen years since Hope Moore left Devil’s Falls, land of sexy cowboys and bad memories. Back for the weekend, she has no intention of seeing the man she never got over…or the two of them getting down and dirty. It’s just a belated goodbye, right? No harm, no foul.

Until six weeks later, when her pregnancy test comes back positive…

Daniel Rodriguez hasn’t forgiven himself for how things went down with Hope all those years ago. He knows she’s better off without him, but when she shows up on his doorstep, panicking because she’s pregnant with his baby, he can’t help seeing it as a chance to make up for the past.

Too bad Hope has no intention of going along with his plans.

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Excerpt:

Hope shook her head. “You’re as much an idiot now as you were then.”

And then she kissed him.

It caught him a little off guard—he hadn’t expected her to be the one to make the first move, especially after the way the scene in the bathroom had gone down—but Daniel wasted no time taking control. He kissed down her neck, sliding his hands beneath her shirt and skating them up to her body to cup her breasts. They filled his palms, familiar and yet not, all at the same time. He cursed. “Gorgeous Darling, the things you do to me.” He nipped her collarbone. “I’m going to taste you, so if you’re going to change your mind, now’s the time to do it.”

Her only response was to shove her yoga pants down to her knees.

He lifted her onto the counter and disentangled her right leg from the pants so he could spread her fully. He stroked her thighs, pausing when his fingers met the scar. It brought up so many conflicting feelings in him. It was his fault that she had the damn thing, but that didn’t mean he thought of her as less, the way she seemed to think. She was as beautiful now as she’d been at eighteen, and more confident despite her injury. Or maybe because of it. He had no idea.

All he knew was that at some point he was going to have to get up close and personal with her healed injury, and he was going to have to tread very, very carefully to avoid burning what was left of the bridge between him and Hope.

“If you apologize, I might actually kick you.”

That snapped him out of it. As much as he wanted Hope, he had an ulterior motive for pushing her now. All getting distracted by her leg was going to do was fuck up his chance of convincing her to stay, in his house and in his bed. He jerked her to the edge of the counter, spreading her thighs wider. “Don’t scream. You’ll upset Ollie.”

And then he did what he’d been fantasizing about ever since he walked out of her life. Daniel dipped his head and gave her center one long lick. She tasted better than he remembered, her body already shaking for him, so he used his thumbs to part her folds and licked her again, reacquainting himself with every inch of her.

“Oh.”

He looked up her body to find her head thrown back and her chest rising and falling with each harsh breath. “Take off your shirt.”

Hope wasted no time obeying, dragging the material over her head and tossing it away. And then there was nothing hiding her body from his gaze. He licked her again, savoring the way she shook. A tattoo curling around the bottom of her ribs caught his eye, but he was too distracted to read it.

He was tired of teasing her. He wanted to feel her orgasm again, to know she was coming apart at the seams because of him. Daniel sucked her clit into his mouth, stroking the sensitive little nub with the flat of his tongue the way she’d always loved. Sure enough, before he had a chance to truly savor her, Hope cried out his name and shuddered, her thighs squeezing his head as she came. He gentled his touches, licks turning to kisses, turning to the slightest brushing of his lips against her. Only when she stopped shaking did he raise his head. “Stay, at least until we figure out what we’re doing.”

Review:

Loved Hope.

Even though I thought their episode of “getting down and dirty” on the first night she was back in town after thirteen years was a bit…abrupt (zero contact for all that time => quickie against a wall at a party?) I was willing to go with it for the sake of well, it had to happen for the rest of it to go on…

Continued to love Hope, who though she was incredibly strong and a successful businesswoman, clearly still had a Daniel-sized hole in her life and yeah, can’t blame her for coming back again when she suspects what she begins to suspect six weeks later. And obviously the we-don’t-have-to-have-quickies-up-against-the-wall-anymore-though-they-could-be-fun-alternatives sexytimes are good, so I don’t blame her for being tempted to stay around longer than she was intending. Again, the Daniel-sized hole wants to be filled.

But Daniel? The guy needed to get over himself a good thirteen years earlier. For more than 90% of the book, he was doing everything he was doing (except maybe for the sex, which he was doing for the usual reasons) because of his guilt. On the one hand, I get it. He was driving, John was his best friend, and sure, at the funeral John (and Hope’s) mom felt some resentment toward him. But for the past 12 1/2 years, no one was blaming him but him. Even when this was pointed out to him, the guilt was still his number one motivating factor. When he uses it to cause their relationship black moment? Argh.

The resolution came a bit quickly, and though he does try to make up for his previous a$$hattery, we don’t really have enough time left in the book at that point to find out if it’s a lasting thing or not. (I’m going to go on the side of the HEA for this one, eternal optimist that I am. Of course he’s a new man now! Hope deserves and their baby not-named-John deserve nothing more.) I am bummed that as it’s the last book in the series we’ll never know about what happens in May–an epilogue would have been nice. Still, I enjoyed the heck out of this series even if this one wasn’t my favorite book in it.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B-

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

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About Katee Robert:Katee Robert

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. She found romance novels at age twelve and it changed her life. When not writing sexy contemporary and speculative fiction romance novels, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her wee ones, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

Connect with Katee at: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Instagram | Tumblr | Youtube

 

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New Release Review! BAREFOOT AT MOONRISE by Roxanne St. Claire (Barefoot Bay Timeless #2)

 

Barefoot at Moonrise
by Roxanne St. Claire

Synopsis:

As a firefighter, Captain Ken Cavanaugh knows his way around dangerous situations—but he’d rather run into a burning building than help plan his 25th high school reunion in Barefoot Bay. Unfortunately, it’s his best chance of finally putting things right with Beth Endicott two and a half decades after they ended so badly. But the instant they see each other again, the years blow away like ashes in the heat of their combustible chemistry. For one single night, they let their incendiary passion consume them…but in the morning, they’re still left with the smoldering wreckage of a relationship that ended in tragedy.

Raised under the thumb of a rich and controlling man, Beth has spent her adult years craving freedom. Now that she’s finally managed to carve out an independent life, is she ready to risk her heart on the first man she ever loved—a man who blames her family for his father’s death? With so much painful history between them, Beth can’t see a way to have a future with Ken. But one stunning surprise will turn everything they ever believed upside down and send them straight into each other’s arms.

Ken is willing to put everything on the line for the family he’s always wanted, but Beth knows the past that ruined them could flare into heartache again. It will take all her newfound courage to prove she would walk through fire for this second chance with the love of her life.

 

Review:

My favorite of the Barefoot Bay universe so far!

I really enjoyed Barefoot at Moonrise. A second-chance romance with a firefighter hero (and his un-firefighterly dog)? Yes, please! I loved “only you can call me” Kenny and “poster child for independent women” Beth. Together or apart, they are a hero and heroine it’s easy to root for. They’re not perfect–Beth takes the independent bit a little too far at times, and Ken has a tendency to see things as a bit more black-and-white then they actually are–but together they compliment each other nicely.

Plus, did I mention there’s a dog involved? And a shirtless firefighter performing a demolition of a kitchen and master bath? Not to mention Ken has a a boat and a dock with a nice big Adirondack chair on it. Waterfront. Property. Really, I’m not sure what more you could want from a hero. Goodness knows he had me from page one.

And Beth owns her own business and typically does her own demolitions, except when she can’t because of reasons. How cool is that?

Though it’s second in the trilogy, Moonrise worked just fine as a standalone. It gives you enough of a glimpse of the hero of book one (Mike from Barefoot at Sunset) and book three (Lawson from Barefoot at Midnight–I cannot wait to see that guy become a one-woman man! I’m pretty sure there will be kicking and screaming involved) that you’ll probably find your TBR increasing by two more before you’re even finished with this one.

The Barefoot Bay Timeless trilogy almost makes me want to go to my next high school reunion.

But only almost. Because really, let’s not get crazy. It is fiction, after all. And I remember high school just a little too well, for all that it was mumble, mumble years ago. 😉

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
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New Release Review and Giveaway! A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S FLING by Eliza Walker (Much Ado About Love #1)

Title: A Midsummer Night’s Fling
Author: Eliza Walker
Genre: Contemporary Romance
On Sale Date: June 21, 2016

 

About the book:

The show must go on, but the price of admission could be her heart.

Sick of her vagabond life in a Broadway touring company, Nicola is ready to settle down. She wants nothing more than to park her suitcase in California, put out feelers for local auditions, and leave her past firmly behind her.

Too bad her past comes knocking on her door her first day home. All six-foot-three, beautiful man of past named Max. Max: the mistake Nicola just can’t seem to stop making.

Even before Nicola—fiery, quick-witted, beautiful Nicola—slams the door in his face, Max is in trouble. She will always be the one who got away. Three times. Which makes convincing her to play Titania to his Oberon a bit…awkward.

Though she has zero desire to re-re-rekindle an old flame, Nicola can’t turn down the chance Max is offering: a lead role with the West Coast’s premiere Shakespeare company. But when their first rehearsal kiss disintegrates into a passionate liplock, she’s questioning her sanity and tempted to jump ship—before Max can break her heart again.

Now it’s up to Max to convince her that the torch he’s been carrying is actually an eternal flame.

 

Opening:

For Nicola Charles, the yellow water was the breaking point.

She had already spent several hours working her way through five years of dust as she sorted all her worldly possessions. With her throat parched from that uncomfortable effort, she’d staggered past her friend Cassie to get a drink from the kitchen sink.

When Nicola turned on the tap, a long pause ensued, followed by several ominous spit-takes from the sink. The faucet finally shot to life with a stream of dark yellow water.

Nicola stared for a long moment, then said to Cassie, conversationally, “I’m moving.” With a firm hand, Nicola flicked off the tap and retreated from the sink.

Want more? Check out the first two chapters here. (Click on the Excerpt tab on the far right of the page.)

 

Review:

Shakespeare, musical theater, and The Princess Bride references? Yes, please!

A Midsummer Night’s Fling is a second- (no, wait–third-…er, make that fourth-) chance romance story set in an absolutely amazing-sounding theater among the cast members of a premier Shakespeare company doing–what else?–A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Our main characters, Max and Nic, have tried the whole relationship thing–several times–and now are determined to be just friends.

Friends who are playing Oberon and Titania. And who have to kiss on stage. A lot. This will totally work, right?

And if their never-ended explosive chemistry isn’t enough of an issue for them to deal with, they’ve also got a spiteful, cougar-wannabe co-artistic director; a competitive and resentful fellow actor; see-through and skintight costumes; and potentially painful hair bleach making things even more complicated.

Can the forth time really be the charm? Will they survive the rehearsals and make it to opening night in one piece? Read A Midsummer Night’s Fling to find out!

(I had to take quick reading breaks to watch the videos of “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better” and “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” and the Henry VSt. Crispin’s Day speech–really, I had no choice! You’ll understand why when you read it ;))

I had a lot of fun reading A Midsummer Night’s Fling. I loved Max, Nic, and the rest of the company and can’t wait to see where the rest of the series will go! (Plus OMG, I really wish that I could go see the version of Henry V that they’re slated to be putting on next, because it sounds absolutely awesome!)

Rating: 4 stars / A-

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

 

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New Release Review! THROWN DOWN by Tessa Bailey (Made in Jersey #2)

Vaughn and River were the high school sweethearts everyone expected to fail. And they did. But not because of any shortage of love. Oh no. The town bad boy and the bubbly class president had that in spades. What they didn’t have was the truth—or the ability to defeat the forces that kept them apart. Vaughn never left River completely, however, because the night he left town for good, they conceived a child. Now Vaughn has returned to earn back his family—and River’s love—any way he can.

Thrown Down Tour

Thrown Down Synopsis:

He has one last chance to deserve the girl of his dreams…

Overachiever River Purcell was never supposed to be a struggling single mom, working double shifts just to make ends meet. Nor was she supposed to be abandoned by her high school sweetheart, breaking her heart into a thousand jagged pieces. Now Vaughn De Matteo is back in town, his sights set on her…and River is in danger of drowning a second time.

No one believed Hook’s resident bad boy was good enough for River. Not even Vaughn himself. But he’ll fight like hell to win back the woman he never stopped loving, to keep the daughter he never expected, and convince himself he’s worth their love in the process––even if he has to rely on their fierce and undeniable sexual chemistry.

But even as River’s body arches under his hungered touch, the demons of the past lurk in the shadows. Waiting for Vaughn to repeat his mistakes one last time…

 

EXCERPT:

Forty-nine months and three days.

That was how long it had been since he’d seen her.

Vaughn swayed to the right, his shoulder slamming up against the wall. Then he kind of just hung there, counting forward and backward from one to ten. Not helping. Not helping. His stomach pitched at the sight of River walking through the drunks, like a nurse walking among the wounded on a battlefield. She could still knock his lights out on sight. Not that he’d doubted it for a second. But God, if it were possible, she’d grown even more beautiful over the last forty-nine months. Her blond hair was tied up in a ponytail, a pencil stuck through the base, in a way he remembered well enough to make his throat go raw. In a short black skirt and fitted white T-shirt, River tried to look the part of indifferent barmaid, but didn’t pull it off.

Not by a stretch.

Eyes Vaughn knew were just a shade darker than cornflower blue flitted to each table, and her fingers tugged on the skirt’s hem self-consciously every time she approached a new one. When she fumbled with the notepad, recovering with a nervous laugh, a choked sound left Vaughn. “Riv,” he whispered.

She looked up so fast, he might as well have shouted. The sudden impact of having River’s focus on him after such an extended period of time without it released a rushing sound between his ears, blocking out the sad lounge act…and apparently someone asking if he needed a table. Because when Vaughn snapped back to reality, a man he towered over by at least a foot was in his face. Snapping his fingers.

“I wouldn’t…” Vaughn shook his head to clear it, experiencing a resurgence of anger, this time for having his attention diverted from where he needed it to be. On River.

“I wouldn’t advise snapping your fingers in my face again.”

“Why’s that, huh?”

A toss of blond hair snagged Vaughn’s gaze as his angelic ex-girlfriend zigzagged through the crowd, drawing more than just his notice. Ah no, quite the opposite. She was putting on an unwitting show for every man in the room, attracting lecherous looks by virtue of being her beautiful self, light in a dark tunnel, same way she’d always been.

Finger snapped in front of his face. Again. “This is my place and I asked you a question.”

“This is your place?” Vaughn asked. God, one hour back in Jersey and already his accent had thickened from water to oil. “You hired River Purcell to clean up tables?”

“That’s right.”

Vaughn plowed a fist into the underside of the man’s jaw, watching him fall backward onto the sticky concrete floor with detachment that slowly morphed into satisfaction. So much for calm, he thought, shaking out his right hand.

Review:

Ever since reading book one in the series, Crashed Out , I’ve been anxious for River and Vaughn’s book–and rooting for Vaughn, even though I hadn’t even met him yet, really. River wasn’t my favorite person throughout much of Crashed, so I knew she had her work cut out for her in this one.

Fortunately, she did a decent job of pulling it off. Though I still didn’t agree with all of her choices, she was definitely a more sympathetic character in her own book and she did much to atone for prior actions. Vaughn too made some great strides–because his earlier actions (which we see through flashbacks) left much to be desired as well. In all, this was a well done second chance at romance, and I enjoyed reading it very much.

My only complaint (and it’s a “complaint again”–I can’t believe it!) is that the sex and dirty talk got to be a bit much (!) I know, I know–but it was actually distracting at times. And his nickname of “doll” for her was not my favorite. (And he was “buck” at one point, which was just…wrong.) I actually skimmed through at least two scenes to get back to the actual story faster–though I’m willing to go with the “it’s not you, book, it’s me” theory here, because it’s been a busy few weeks school-wise and I’m feeling the crunch. So it’s entirely possible that no one else might feel this way and it really is all me.

Still, I’m anxious to see where this series is going next. Duke of all-the-newly-unmarried-sisters clearly needs his own story, even if it might cut into his cute babysitting scenes… 😉

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B+

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

 

throw down cover

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About Tessa:10916377_394985460677232_5282589425052637583_o

Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days.

Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.

She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eight years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.

 

Darcy Burke, Author of YOU’RE STILL THE ONE (Ribbon Ridge #6), Talks About Emotional Writing (with a giveaway!)

Don’t miss my review of YOU’RE STILL THE ONE here!

Emotional Writing

You’ll have to pardon me in advance because this has turned out to be a rather personal post! Thanks for letting me share it with you.

For those of you that have read the Ribbon Ridge series, you know that along with some funny scenes and, of course, romance, there’s a healthy dose of emotion, too. When I first thought of this series, I knew that one of the sextuplets would die. That he committed suicide came a bit later in the plotting (and you can thank my friend Elisabeth Naughton for that, lol). Writing a romance series about a family struggling to deal with the after-effects of the death of a loved one was tricky. It was sometimes hard to balance that giddy sensation of falling in love with the weight of their brother’s death. I think this was never more true than in book three, WHEN LOVE HAPPENS. The heroine of that book, Tori Archer, was so broken up that she just had a hard time feeling anything—like she was numb. I related to that so much. Sometimes we just have to power through the day, and in my case, sometimes I just had to power through writing these emotional scenes!

True confession: I’m a crier. I wasn’t always, and it’s not just when I’m sad. Live music typically makes me tear up if not outright cry (which can be ultra embarrassing!). Unsurprisingly, sappy commercials can trigger tears. But for me, just a happy hug from my children can make my eyes leak with joy. It’s not something I’m proud of, lol. Conversely, as I’m writing, I don’t cry often. I might tear up during an especially emotional scene near the end—usually on a read-through—but generally speaking, I keep myself together. This book (YOU’RE STILL THE ONE), however, really got to me. And there are a lot of reasons for that.

First, it’s the last book in the Archer family saga. I’ve come to love these characters a great deal and I truly enjoy writing them (never fear—there will be more Ribbon Ridge books and they will make appearances!). Still, I’m sure there was a natural sadness to be finishing this particular story regarding Alex Archer, who passed away at the start of book one. Complicating matters was a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer for a very close friend of mine. We’ve been friends for a decade—volunteering together, mothering together, being there for each other in times of great joy and laughter and moments of deep struggle. I had a difficult time translating my wild emotions during this time onto the page. I think I finally found what I was searching for when I wrote one of the scenes toward the end. When you read it, know that I wrote every word with my friend Dominique in mind. She’s already gone, but her impact on my life and on this world will be forever felt.

I (and Dominique—it was one of the many things we bonded over) used to act in high school and college. Tapping into your life experiences to find the emotion for a scene is just something you learn to do and hone. It’s very much the same for writing. Good and bad, I reach into my emotional stockpile, if you will, and hopefully find the right tone for a scene or a character. Sometimes it’s draining and other times (more often that not actually), it’s exhilarating. I’ve adored writing the Archers and am grateful for the new well of emotions they’ve given me. Thank you for coming along on the ride. I hope you’ve enjoyed it!

 

Darcy Burke is the USA Today bestselling author of hot, action-packed historical and sexy, emotional contemporary romance. Darcy wrote her first book at age 11, a happily-ever-after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan who loved him, with exceedingly poor illustrations.
A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids-who each seem to have inherited the writing gene in some form-and two Bengal cats. In her “spare” time Darcy is a serial volunteer enrolled in a 12-step program where one learns to say “no,” but she keeps having to start over. Her happy places are Disneyland and Labor Day weekend at the Gorge.

 

YOU’RE STILL THE ONE
Ribbon Ridge #6
Darcy Burke
Releasing on April 5th, 2016.
Avon Impulse
USA Today bestseller Darcy Burke concludes her Archer family saga with a second chance at first love…
 
Everyone thought college sweethearts Bex Holmgren and Hayden Archer were headed for the altar… until a tragic accident sent young Bex running from a future she wasn’t ready to claim. But when she’s offered her dream job at Archer Brewing, Bex can’t pass up the chance to reconnect with the big, crazy family that once welcomed her with open arms—and the one man she’s never stopped loving.
When he returns home after a year in France, Hayden is less than thrilled to find his ex-girlfriend working for his family’s company. He’s finally moved on, and being around her rekindles long-buried feelings he’d rather ignore. But Bex isn’t the same girl he knew—she’s more mature, more beautiful, more tempting than ever—and he can’t resist the pull of the intense passion he’s only ever shared with her.
Have five years changed them enough, or are they doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past? The only thing Bex knows for sure is that for her, Hayden is still the one.


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New Release Review! COMPROMISED by Emmy Curtis (Alpha Ops #5)

Compromised
by Emmy Curtis

Synopsis:

It was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. But when her wedding erupts in gunfire, Sadie Walker realizes this is not the life she wants – her fiancé’s work with Delta Force will always cast a shadow over their relationship. After leaving the hard-muscled hero at the altar, she thinks she’ll never see him again . . . until a chance encounter reveals that he still has a strong grip on her heart.

On a covert assignment overseas, Simon Tennant is shocked when he spots Sadie with another man. Jealousy flares, as does an irresistible urge to keep her protected. Amid a dangerous game of international espionage, he’ll have to convince Sadie just how perfect they’ve always been together. This time, nothing will take precedence over winning her back, no matter the cost to his cover – or his life . . .

Review:

 

Normally I love a good second chance romance, but this one just didn’t quite make it for me.

I liked both Simon and Sadie, and there were some genuinely funny and touching parts. Simon’s preoccupation with figuring out what Sadie was doing, for example, and Sadie’s new ability to pull the wool completely over his eyes was amusing. The way that Simon still had feelings for her after their time apart, and Sadie’s eventual realization that she did for him as well was a great moment.

However, there were other parts mixed in there that just didn’t work for me.

Like why Sadie dumped Simon–on their wedding day–because she suddenly realized that what he did was too dangerous for her to deal with…and then she quit her own job and joined the CIA. Because that’s a super-safe profession, you know.

And Sadie’s complete hatred for Simon when she “found out” that he’d used his covert skills to woo her in the first place? Of course he did. Hasn’t the woman ever seen a single James Bond film? Or even a commercial? If a guy’s got mad skills, naturally he’s going to use them to his advantage. Her resentment over that made no sense…and was quickly disposed of in about thirty seconds when her coworker let her in on the “secret”. But in the meantime she spent a year hating the guy for no reasonable reason. After all, she’s the one who’d cried off–where did she get the right to be resentful that he actually went?

Finally–try as I did, I just couldn’t really feel the chemistry between the two of them for much of the book. Especially when Sadie turned their every early encounter once they reconnected into an emotionless example of stress relief…so not sexy.

They did have a better connection by the end, once each knew the truth about the other, and the conclusion gave me hope that the second time might indeed be the charm. The suspense and action bits were pretty good as well, which gives me hope that this one was just a one-off and the other books in the series will be more on par with book 3.

Though it’s fifth in the series and loosely connected to the only other Alpha Ops book I’ve read so far (Pushing the Limit–Harry and Matt’s hookup is the night before the wedding that doesn’t happen for Simon and Sadie), Compromised worked just fine as a standalone. Though I have to admit, what I’ve seen of Malone Garrett here has me chomping at the bit to read his story ASAP…

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+

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

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