Spotlight: Back to Before by Tracy Solheim

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I've been looking forward to reading more of Tracy Solheim's work ever since I read Risky Game. I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to spotlight Ms. Solheim's new contemporary romance, Back to Before. I love small town romances and second chance stories, so Back to Before is definitely up my alley. Scroll down to look more about Back to Before and read an excerpt provided by Ms. Solheim's publisher, Berkley!

About Back to Before:

Back to Before CoverChances Inlet, North Carolina, has an infamous power for second chances. But its charms are lost on the town’s favorite son—until she comes along...

When his father’s sudden death puts his family’s construction business in serious debt, architect Gavin McAlister is forced to put his dream career in New York on hold. Making matters worse, his fiancée calls it quits. Desperate to return to his big-city life, he discovers an opportunity to save his family, one that has him reluctantly starring in a home restoration TV show.

Former soap star Ginger Walsh hopes this job as a TV makeup artist will lead to better things. So far it’s only brought her to a hamlet full of people who don’t like her—except Gavin. After a wild night out leads to Ginger waking up in Gavin’s loft—and the rest of town talking—the two of them soon wonder if getting back to before is what they want. Because being in each other’s arms certainly feels like what they need...

Purchase links: Amazon | B&N

Excerpt from Back to Before:

It was Friday night and Pier Pressure was crowded with both locals and tourists. Not surprisingly, the waterfront bar was decorated in a nautical theme with captain’s chairs from salvaged ships serving as stools shoved against the mahogany bar. Tables and chairs from old ferryboats were scattered around the long narrow room. Deep into the bar, a small stage stood above an empty dance floor, a jukebox beside it blasting out a Luke Bryant song.

“Oh, my gosh, Destiny Upchurch is in my bar!” a woman wiping out some glasses yelled above the noise. “Can I get a picture for Instagram and Twitter?” she asked, snapping a photo with her cell phone before Ginger had a chance to answer. “Hey, I heard you’re going to get Savannah Rich to come to town. That’s so cool!”

Ginger shook her head in disbelief as she took her seat at the bar. At least everyone in this town was predictable if not relentless.

“What can I get you ladies?”
Back to Before Cover
Audra slid into one of the captain’s chairs, carefully positioning her braced knee away from the crowd. “I’d like a big glass of Merlot, Jolene.”

“How ’bout you, Destiny?” Jolene asked.

“It’s Ginger,” she said with a sigh. “And I think I’d like to try”—she glanced at the triangular card depicting summery drinks—“this lemonade looks nice.”

Jolene gave a little whistle. “My specialty. One Lynchburg Lemonade, coming right up. Of course, I’ll need to see some ID first.” She winked at Ginger. “You played a teenager on the show. I need to make sure you’re not one in real life.”

“You do know there’s whiskey in that lemonade?” Audra asked after Jolene had studied Ginger’s driver’s license long enough to commit it to memory.

Aside from an occasional glass of wine or champagne, Ginger made it a point to stay away from alcohol. It seemed the prudent choice ever since the accident that had devastated both her and Diesel’s lives. But Destiny Upchurch wouldn’t venture into a bar without having ordered a drink, so Ginger decided to give the people of Chances Inlet what they wanted. “Sure,” she said to Audra before posing in another bar patron’s selfie. Besides, Diesel had been right. Destiny was already having a lot more fun than Ginger ever had in this town.

It was nine thirty and Gavin had to weave his way through a larger-than-usual crowd hovering at the entrance of Pier Pressure. He’d only just arrived back to his loft from his nightly walk-through of Dresden House. After a long day spent in Wilmington, he was looking forward to knocking back a cold one and finishing up some drafting, but then Audra had texted him. He bumped into Sheriff’s Deputy Hayden Lovell on his way through the crush of people.

“Oh, good,” the deputy said. “Maybe you can take care of this without me having to arrest her.”
Back to Before Cover
“Arrest who?” he asked as they finally broke through the crowd. His eyes were immediately drawn to the stage at the back of the bar where the answer to that question stood and shimmied her hips with a microphone in her hands. White jeans accentuated her long legs while the rest of her was clad in a poufy sleeveless top with big pink flowers that swung provocatively from side to side with every move she made. Her hair formed a wild halo around her head and those unique eyes shone with unabashed delight. Ginger was a sensual fantasy come to life strutting around on that stage.

Until she opened her mouth.

“Whoa,” Hayden said. “I’m pretty sure I heard wailing in the mountains of Afghanistan that sounded better than that.”

Ah, shit.

Waiting on Wednesday: Grave Phantoms by Jenn Bennett

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases!

I LOVE Jenn Bennett's Roaring Twenties series. The first two books, Bitter Spirits and Grim Shadows were wildly original and so much fun to read. I've been waiting on the edge of my seat for Grave Phantoms and I can't believe it's still months away. Bo and Astrid have intrigued me from the start and I just know their story is going to be fantastic. If you haven't read this series, I highly recommend picking up book 1, Bitter Spirits - it was one of my Top Ten Books of 2014.

Grave Phantoms Cover Title: Grave Phantoms
Series: Roaring Twenties, Book 3
Author: Jenn Bennett
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Jenn Bennett Reading Order

Book Description (from Amazon):

Feisty flapper Astrid Magnusson is home from college and yearning for the one thing that’s always been off limits: Bo Yeung, her notorious bootlegging brother’s second-in-command. Unfortunately her dream of an easy reunion proves difficult after a violent storm sends a mysterious yacht crashing into the Magnussons’ docks. What’s worse, the boat disappeared a year ago, and the survivors are acting strangely…

Bo has worked with the Magnusson family for years, doing whatever is needed, including keeping his boss’s younger sister out of trouble—and his hands to himself. Of course, that isn’t so easy after Astrid has a haunting vision about the yacht’s disappearance, plunging them into an underground world of old money and dark magic. Danger will drive them closer together, but surviving their own forbidden feelings could be the bigger risk.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Liar by Nora Roberts

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases!

Last week's Waiting on Wednesday pick was a book by J.D. Robb, so it's only fitting (in my mind ;)) that this week's pick be Robb's alter ego, Nora Roberts. NR was my very first romance author, and 19 years later she's still my favorite author. I can't wait for her new romantic suspense, The Liar, to come out!

The Liar Cover Title: The Liar
Author: Nora Roberts
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Release Date: April 14, 2015

Book Description (from Amazon):

Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions...

The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.

Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning...

Review: The Last Quarrel: Episode One by Duncan Lay

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Last Quarrel: Episode One by Duncan Lay
Publisher: Momentum
Genre: Fantasy The Last Quarrel Cover
ISBN: 9781760082512
Release Date: January 22, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Gaelland is a nation gripped by fear.

In the country, fishing boats return with their crews mysteriously vanished, while farms are left empty, their owners gone into the night, meals still on the table. In the cities, children disappear from the streets or even out of their own beds. The King tells his people that it is the work of selkies – mythical creatures who can turn from seals into men and back again – and witches. But no matter how many women he burns at the stake, the children are still being taken.

Fallon is a man who has always dreamed of being a hero. His wife Bridgit just wants to live in peace and quiet, and to escape the tragedies that have filled her life. His greatest wish and her worst nightmare are about to collide.

When an empty ship sails into their village, he begins to follow the trail towards the truth behind the evil stalking their land. But it is a journey that will take them both into a dark, dark place and nobody can tell them where it might end…

Superstition abounds and true magic is hinted at in The Last Quarrel: Episode One. Duncan Lay’s first installment of The Last Quarrel sets the stage for interesting things to come, though on its own Episode One takes quite a while to engage readers. Still, Mr. Lay’s land of myth and magic is interesting and shows true potential. There are creepy monsters, kidnapped children, politics, family strife, a man who wishes to be a hero, danger, and numerous unsolved mysteries all woven into Episode One. If it seems like a lot to introduce in a small slice of a book, that’s because it is. Rather than parse things out over the course of the story, Mr. Lay chooses to introduce a good portion (if not all) of the central players right from the start. This means that Episode One is heavy on introduction without providing much depth. Since I assume that the characters will be fully fleshed out as the story goes on, I’m not bothered by this. I will say that perhaps this is a story best read from start to finish, as it doesn’t read like an intended serial.

The Last Quarrel: Episode One is a difficult book for me to review because I felt like I didn’t get enough sense of the story as a whole to judge it. I had a hard time starting Episode One because it felt weighed down by numerous introductions, but by the end I was ready to leap into the next part. The best thing I can say is that The Last Quarrel shows a lot of promise and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Waiting on Wednesday: Obsession in Death by J.D. Robb

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases!

I'm a huge, huge, HUGE fan of J.D. Robb's In Death series, which means it's a guarantee that I'm always going to be excited for the next book. Obsession in Death is no exception, but even if I'd never read the series before the book blurb is something that would catch my eye. This is the 40th book (and 50th In Death story if we're counting novellas) and I'm still insanely excited for Eve and Roarke's next adventure.

Obsession in Death Cover Title: Obsession in Death
Series: In Death, Book 40
Author: J.D. Robb
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Release Date: February 10, 2015
J.D. Robb Reading Order

Book Description (from Amazon):

Lieutenant Eve Dallas walks the thin line between love and hate in this fabulous 40th thriller from #1 New York Times–bestseller J. D. Robb...

Eve Dallas has solved a lot of high-profile murders for the NYPSD and gotten a lot of media. She—and her billionaire husband—are getting accustomed to being objects of attention, of gossip, of speculation.

But now Eve has become the object of one person’s obsession. Someone who finds her extraordinary, and thinks about her every hour of every day. Who believes the two of them have a special relationship. Who would kill for her—again and again...

With a murderer reading meanings into her every move, handling this case will be a delicate—and dangerous—psychological dance. And Eve knows that underneath the worship and admiration, a terrible threat lies in wait. Because the beautiful lieutenant is not at all grateful for these bloody offerings from her “true and loyal friend.” And in time, idols always fall...

Review: Unforgettable by Shannon Richard

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Unforgettable by Shannon Richard
Series: Country Roads, Book 4
Publisher: Forever Yours
Genre: Contemporary Romance Unforgettable Cover
ISBN: 9781455588459
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

One long, hot summer would never be enough…

Attorney Hannah Sterling lives a life she's worked hard for. So when she unexpectedly inherits an inn, Hannah decides to take that long overdue holiday and settle her eccentric grandmother's estate. She knew there would be challenges, but what's hardest about returning to Mirabelle, Florida, is facing the man who gave her the most passionate summer of her life-and then broke her heart.

Nathanial Shepherd never forgot the redheaded goddess who lit up his world and got away. Now that she's home, Shep vows to make up for their years apart-and if the fire in her kiss is any indication, they're well on their way. But when a devastating secret from their past threatens their future, Shep must fight to heal Hannah's heart. Because this time, their love will truly be unforgettable…

I love a good reunion romance and Unforgettable is a wonderful one. Shannon Richard’s fourth Country Roads novel will make you smile one moment and break your heart the next. It’s an engrossing romance thanks to its interesting leads and their fantastic chemistry.

Hannah and Shep first fell in love as teenagers, but when they chose to end their summer romance and follow their planned life paths, their lives changed irrevocably. It’s been thirteen years, but neither Hannah nor Shep have forgotten each other or the heartbreak their separation caused. Now that Hannah is back in Mirabelle, Shep can’t bear to lose her again. But things aren’t exactly easy. It takes patience and trust on Shep’s part and a willingness to risk her heart once again on Hannah’s for these two to get together. And when they do…watch out because Unforgettable heats up fast. Shep and Hannah are truly made for each other in every way and their every encounter crackles with energy. The obstacles in their romance are mostly due to a lack of communication and the occasional misunderstanding. Though I wanted to shake them and tell them to just open up to one another a couple of times over the course of the story, Ms. Richard did make me understand where both Shep and Hannah were coming from. Hannah in particular had to deal with a powerful loss; she bears an emotional scar that will never truly heal and it affects her present-day relationship with Shep. There’s a wealth of emotion in Unforgettable that keeps you invested in the story. I hated having to put the book down and I was rooting for Hannah and Shep every step of the way.

Unforgettable is the fourth book in Ms. Richard’s Country Roads series, but having only read one other book in the series I think it’s safe to say this story can be read as a standalone. There are some minor spoilers from Undone, Undeniable, and Unstoppable, so if you absolutely hate spoilers start from the beginning. Also brought over from the previous books are some delightful former heroes and heroines. Shep’s group of friends are funny and charming and they add tons of warmth to Unforgettable. All in all I adored Hannah and Shep’s romance and I cannot wait to read the rest of the Country Roads series!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: All Fired Up by Kate Meader

Monday, January 5, 2015

All Fired Up by Kate Meader
Series: Hot in the Kitchen, Book 2
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance All Fired Up Cover
ISBN: 9781455599615
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Her sweetest mistake…
Cool as a Chicago winter, private events planner Cara DeLuca is a model of self-control . . . until she meets the one temptation she can't resist: Shane Doyle. The sexy, Irish pastry chef is too hot, too sure, too young, and after a crazy night in Vegas-her new husband. While at first Cara wants nothing more than a way out of her sham marriage to Shane, she soon finds that beneath his farm boy demeanor lies a man who can match her drive, both in and out of the bedroom. How can the wrong guy feel so deliciously right?

…Tastes so, so good
Shane has carefully structured his career and life around one goal: connecting with the family that doesn't know he exists. Marrying a woman with more issues than a magazine stand wasn't part of the plan, but melting Cara's icy exterior is so worth the detour. Now as the annulment date nears and long-buried secrets are revealed, Shane will have to fight for the one thing guaranteeing the perfect life he craves…the current Mrs. Shane Doyle.

A sensual pâtissier with an Irish brogue, an events planner who doesn’t let anyone or anything distract her, weddings, secrets, and a drunken night in Vegas… It’s a recipe for a whole lot of fun. Kate Meader’s All Fired Up isn’t just a foodie’s delight – though her descriptions of Shane’s creations will make your mouth water – it’s a sexy, heartbreaking, complex romance that’ll leave you smiling.

I absolutely loved Cara – she’s one of the most “real” heroines I’ve read in a long time. She’s rough-around-the-edges, a perfectionist, and a recovering anorexic. It’s hard for her to feel like she belongs and she can come off as distant because of this. Put simply, she’s not perfect and it was my favorite thing about her. Ms. Meader doesn’t pay lip service to Cara’s problems, specifically her recovery from anorexia, but rather shows knowledge and respect for the battle Cara fights each day. I loved how well-drawn Cara was and if nothing else, she would have kept me hooked on All Fired Up because I so wanted to see her get the happily ever after she deserves. Shane is the first person to truly see past Cara’s mask and he’s a great fit for her. His Irish charm and talented hands (in and out of the kitchen) make him a sexy hero, but he’s got issues of his own. Shane grew up in an abusive household and, like Cara, is searching for a place to belong. I wasn’t immediately attached to Shane like I was Cara, but he definitely grew on me over the course of the story. He and Cara have fabulous chemistry and I was rooting for them to overcome the obstacles in their path.

All Fired Up is the second book in Ms. Meader’s Hot in the Kitchen series, but for the most part it can be read as a standalone. The beginning of the book did feel like I was dropped into the middle of the plot, but after a few chapters the rhythm smoothed out. I’m not sure if reading the first book, Feel the Heat, would have helped, but regardless I’ll be picking it up because I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes with Lili and Jack in All Fired Up. In fact, both Feel the Heat and book three in the series, Hot and Bothered, are waiting for me on my Kindle because I truly liked the DeLucas and Kilroys and cannot wait to read more about them!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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