Sunday, January 28, 2018

Review: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
Series: The Wedding Date, Book 1
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780399587672
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in this fun and flirty debut novel.

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there's something about Drew Nichols that's too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can't stop thinking about the other...

They're just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century--or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want…

An elevator glitch + two charming characters + cheese and crackers = one of the most delightful meet-cutes I’ve read in a long time. Jasmine Guillory sets the stage for an effervescent romance from the very first page of The Wedding Date. Alexa and Drew have instant chemistry and they’re a whole lot of fun to read about.

Alexa is a heroine who’s easy to root for and adore. She’s successful, intelligent, and kind. She’s confident in her job as chief of staff to the mayor of Berkeley, but she’s plagued by some very relatable insecurities in her personal life. When she agrees to Drew’s spontaneous request to be his date to an ex’s wedding, Alexa lets go of her inhibitions for a whirlwind weekend of fun. I was so eager to see her find happiness with Drew, a pediatric surgeon who made me smile right alongside Alexa when they first meet. Drew is a sexy, fun hero to start with, but he loses some of his shine over the course of the story. He’s not a bad hero, but because his character isn’t explored as deeply as Alexa’s is, his commitment phobia and moodiness stand out in an unappealing way a few times. I do wish we’d gotten to know his character better because it would have made the romance stronger.

The Wedding Date is a book I have a hard time rating, because there are some things I really love about the book and some things I struggled with. I loved that Alexa opened Drew’s eyes to some of the everyday struggles a person of color faces and that she, a black woman, faces in particular. Alexa’s candor adds depth and realism to what would otherwise be a fairly breezy story. I also loved that both Alexa and Drew are successful thirty-somethings with high-power, demanding careers. That they understand and support one another in their work really had me rooting for them. What kept me from falling in love with this story like I wanted to was the middle of the book. It’s disappointingly repetitive. Either Alexa or Drew flies to meet the other, they eat, have sex, and don’t talk about their relationship or what their expectations are. The same thing keeps occurring with very little change, and I wish I’d seen more of their conversations or activities outside eating, sex, and the occasional party so that I could feel more of a connection to their romance. I also had a hard time with the fact that a lot of the conflict stemmed from miscommunication or simply an unwillingness to talk to one another about a problem. I did understand why Alexa was reticent to do so (to a certain extent), but when the same patterns kept emerging, it dragged the book down. That being said, the end of the book was so sweet, so lovely that I circled back around to falling for Alexa and Drew.

The Wedding Date is Jasmine Guillory’s debut novel and I cannot wait to read more from her. Alexa and Drew have quite a few wonderful friends whose books I’m dying to read. In fact, it’d be remiss of me to talk about this book and not mention Carlos, Drew’s awesome best friend and my new book crush. Carlos is friendly, incredibly patient, and caring and I absolutely cannot wait for his book. Until then, I will definitely revisit my favorite moments from The Wedding Date because when Alexa and Drew work, their book shines.

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.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Review: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
Series: The Invisible Library, Book 1
Publisher: Ace
Genre: Fantasy
ISBN: 9781101988640
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction...

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it's already been stolen.

London's underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.

Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself…

Enter the world of the Library, an interdimensional organization that collects important books from as many alternate dimensions as possible. Genevieve Cogman’s debut has an exciting premise and there’s a ton of possibilities to this world, but I struggled a bit with the execution.

The Invisible Library follows the journey of Irene, a junior Librarian, as she takes on Kai, a new apprentice, and is sent to an alternate version of Victorian-era London to steal an important book of fairytales. What should be a routine mission is anything but. The world is chaos-infested, one of the side effects of that being supernatural creatures exist, including the Fae. Things go wrong for Irene almost from the start, and she catches the attention of Vale, an alternate version of Sherlock Holmes, the powerful Fae Lord Silver, and an enemy of the Library who threatens to destroy not just Irene, but the whole world.

There are quite a few things that I liked about The Invisible Library. The premise is fantastic and of course a bibliophile like myself is ready and eager to enjoy a book about people who love books. The seemingly infinite number of alternate worlds means there’s a host of possibilities to explore, and I liked how Ms. Cogman set up the powerful forces of Fae and dragons and their respective representations of chaos and order. In short (so as to avoid spoilers), all the elements of a great story are there. That being said, the story did not live up to its parts. The world building was a case of tell, rather than show. There were seemingly endless amounts of exposition that slowed the book’s pace to a crawl. The characters aren’t very well developed (not even our principals, Irene and Kai, though Kai did charm me), most likely because there was no time to do so. Everything but the kitchen sink seemed to be thrown into this story, and quite a bit of it could have been cut without impacting the narrative. Less might have been more for a first book, as I’d have liked to have delved more into the characters and the different kinds of magic.

The Invisible Library is the kind of book I struggle with rating. While I did have a number of issues with this book, I can’t say I didn’t like it. The second half of the story found its footing and the pacing did pick up. More importantly (to me, anyway), I think Ms. Cogman has a great imagination and I’m excited to learn more about the world of the Library. There’s a lot of interesting information exposited in The Invisible Library that I didn’t unpack because it’d spoil the story. Suffice it to say that – while I struggled with the writing overall – the premise has me hooked and I look forward to seeing what Irene and Kai get up to in The Masked City.

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.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Review: About That Kiss by Jill Shalvis

About That Kiss by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay, Book 5
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780062741776
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

When love drives you crazy…

When sexy Joe Malone never calls after their explosive kiss, Kylie shoves him out of her mind. Until she needs a favor, and it’s a doozy. Something precious to her has been stolen and there’s only one person with unique finder-and-fixer skills that can help—Joe. It means swallowing her pride and somehow trying to avoid the temptation to throttle him—or seduce him.

the best thing to do…

No, Joe didn’t call after the kiss. He’s the fun time guy, not the forever guy. And Kylie, after all she’s been through, deserves a good man who will stay. But everything about Kylie makes it damned hard to focus, and though his brain knows what he has to do, his heart isn’t getting the memo.

…is enjoy the ride.

As Kylie and Joe go on the scavenger hunt of their lives, they discover surprising things about each other. Now, the best way for them to get over “that kiss” might just be to replace it with a hundred more.

About That Kiss is a warm, funny read that’s classic Jill Shalvis. Kylie and Joe are endearing, vibrant characters and their love story charmed my socks off. Like all the Heartbreaker Bay books, About That Kiss draws you into a wonderful world of welcoming characters, making you want to pull up a comfy chair and get lost in their stories.

Ms. Shalvis knows how to write sigh-worthy heroes, and Joe definitely fits the bill. He’s strong, protective, and his love for his family shines on the page. He had to grow up fast at a young age; his father is a Gulf War vet with severe PTSD, so as a child Joe had to be the one to ensure his family was safe and fed. Hid childhood left its mark on him, and Joe is reticent to get involved with someone long-term, which is why he tries to resist Kylie. She gets under his skin like no one else, and I loved that she knocked Joe off balance a bit. Kylie also carries some scars from her childhood, which makes her wary of opening her heart. She has hidden vulnerabilities, but I was rooting for her to take a risk and open her heart to Joe. Kylie is the kind of heroine you want to have for a friend. She’s quick, funny, kind, and an incredibly talented woodworker. She also has an utterly adorable dog who threatens to steal the show more than once. It’s clear from the start that Kylie and Joe are simply meant to be. They’ve got buckets of chemistry and their banter made me grin more than once. So while they might resist the “L” word, Joe and Kylie don’t stand a chance. Their romance is bright, sexy, and sweet – the perfect combination.

About That Kiss is the fifth full-length book in the Heartbreaker Bay series, but it can easily be read as a standalone. Kylie and Joe’s friends – all part of the Pacific Pier Building crowd – add even more humor and warmth to this story. The friendships are as important to the story as the romance, which is part of the book’s charm. Everyone is perfectly imperfect and easy to adore. I finished About That Kiss a well-satisfied reader, but I cannot wait to see what Ms. Shalvis has in store for Joe’s sister, Molly.

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

Review: Headmaster by Tara Sue Me

Headmaster by Tara Sue Me
Series: Lessons from the RACK, Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Erotic Contemporary BDSM Romance
ISBN: 9780399584503
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Lennox MacLure, owner of the RACK Academy, has sworn off the Dominant/submissive lifestyle. Years ago, his submissive, Winnie, died in a car accident following a heated argument for which he blames himself. Guilt-ridden and emotionally closed off, Lennox sees the academy as both his punishment and penance for her death.

Mariela, a dance instructor and a natural submissive, was Winnie’s best friend and longs to help Lennox move past his grief. She’s accepted that he will never see her as anything more than a friend, but she still wants to help him acknowledge what he needs. Mariela comes up with a plan of seduction, guaranteed to unleash the Dominant he’s willfully buried—but the passion they unleash could prove to be stronger than they are ready to handle.

After the death of his submissive, Winnie, Lennox MacLure turned his back on the Dominant part of himself while at the same time opening the RACK Academy as a sort of penance. He’s been living a half-life since then, but emotionally shutting himself down is getting more and more difficult when faced with his desire for the academy’s dance instructor – and Winnie’s best friend – Mariela. Mariela has wanted Lennox for years, but he’s never seen her as more than Winnie’s friend. Frustrated and determined not to lose him to despair, Mariela makes one last desperate bid to unleash Lennox’s Dom side, and the risk she takes could make or break their chance at happiness.

Since I first ventured into the world of the RACK Academy in Master Professor, I’ve been dying to read Lennox and Mariela’s story. Headmaster is filled with emotional turmoil, but there’s also quite a bit of hope to balance that out.

Lennox has been closed off for years, unable to move past his misplaced guilt over Winnie’s death. I liked that it wasn’t easy for him to come back to his whole self; the work he had to put in made his journey feel “earned,” for lack of a better word. And Lennox definitely needed to start finding himself before he was a good fit for Mariela. Though she’s loved him for years, Mariela was always stuck in the role of “Winnie’s best friend.” And though Mariela is kind, she’s no doormat that will let Lennox put in her in a sort of box. She and Lennox clash more than once over the course of the story, and their happily ever after is well earned. There are a lot of ups and downs, and sometimes I might have been frustrated with Lennox’s one-step-forward-two-steps-back, but the fast pace of the story kept it from ever dragging. And while it has plenty of angst, Headmaster isn’t all loss and discovery. There are also plenty of smoking hot scenes. Mariela and Lennox have fantastic chemistry, and things get hot.

I really enjoyed Headmaster – so much so that I read it in one sitting. And even though I had some issues with the story (namely problems popping up which are then quickly resolved off-page), I was still quite happy with how Lennox and Mariela’s romance turned out. These two had a rough journey, but the result is a strong, believable love story that was a pleasure to read.

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.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Review: Down by Contact by Santino Hassell

Down by Contact by Santino Hassell
Series: The Barons, Book 2
Publisher: InterMix
Genre: Male/Male Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780399586309
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Two rival football players begin a game with higher stakes than the Super Bowl in this steamy romance from the author of Illegal Contact.

Simeon Boudreaux, the New York Barons’ golden-armed quarterback, is blessed with irresistible New Orleans charm and a face to melt your mama’s heart. He’s universally adored by fans and the media. Coming out as gay in solidarity with his teammate hasn’t harmed his reputation in the least—except for some social media taunting from rival linebacker Adrián Bravo.

Though they were once teammates, Adrián views Simeon as a traitor and the number-one name on the New Jersey Predators’ shit list. When animosity between the two NFL players reaches a boiling point on the field, culminating in a dirty fist fight, they’re both benched for six games and sentenced to joint community service teaching sullen, Brooklyn teens how to play ball.

At first, they can barely stand to be in the same room, but running the camp forces them to shape up. With no choice but to work together, Simeon realizes Adrián is more than his alpha-jerk persona, and Adrián begins to question why he’s always had such strong feelings for the gorgeous QB…

Down by Contact is insanely addictive! Like the first Barons book, Illegal Contact, Simeon and Adrián’s story is so compelling that you’ll want to be sure you have plenty of time to devour it in one sitting. Santino Hassell’s writing has power and passion and his characters are so vibrant that there’s no way this story won’t stick with you.

I dare readers not to fall in love with Simeon from the start. He’s so charming that he lights up the page and it’s easy to see why almost every one he meets is instantly at ease with him. In the previous Barons book, Illegal Contact, Simeon came out as gay in solidarity with his best friend and teammate, Gavin. Coming out hasn’t harmed Simeon’s reputation in any visible way, but the invasiveness of the media and the online taunting from his former teammate now rival, Adrián, is wearing on even the generally positive Simeon. Simeon isn’t perfect, but he’s a pretty perfect hero. He’s kind, generous, and has a spine of steel. He doesn’t let anyone walk over him, but he’s also willing to forgive. I absolutely loved him and couldn’t wait for him to fall for someone who’s his match.

While Simeon made me swoon, Adrián isn’t immediately endearing. And though it might sound weird to say it, I enjoyed the fact that Adrián is deeply flawed at the start, because he grew into a hero worth rooting for. Adrián is aggressive and doesn’t think before he speaks, throwing out comments he doesn’t even realize are homophobic and deeply hurtful. He also carries deep resentment toward Simeon for leaving the Predators to play for the Barons. Part of Adrián’s animosity also stems from the fact that he’s bisexual and doesn’t realize it. I really liked that Simeon was able to open Adrián’s eyes about his behavior. Adrián isn’t a bad person, which is why his change over the course of the story is organic. It was great to see him realize just what he had been saying and the impact it had. He not only starts to think before he speaks, but becomes a better, more aware person, one who is happier and more at peace with himself.

Adrián and Simeon may hate each other at the start of Down by Contact, but the former friends turned enemies have one hell of a love story. When the tension simmering between them explodes into a fistfight on the field, they’re both suspended and forced to teach teenagers how to play football. Having to put the kids first means they have to put aside their animosity, which of course leads to the barriers between them coming down. It’s clear from the start that these two have incredible chemistry and I couldn’t wait for Adrián to realize that his feelings for Simeon run far deeper than he ever could have imagined. The sexual tension between them is incredible, and when it boils over Down by Contact gets insanely hot. In bed and out, Adrián and Simeon make a fantastic couple. That doesn’t mean the road to happily ever after is an easy one. Adrián not only has to come to terms with the fact that he’s bisexual, he and Simeon have to make hard decisions about their burgeoning relationship that could impact the careers they love (and those are only the non-spoiler obstacles). Mr. Hassell makes every bump in the road worth it, because the ending of the story left me grinning.

Down by Contact is the second book in Mr. Hassell’s Barons series, but it can easily be read as a standalone (though you’d be missing out on a great story if you skip Illegal Contact). I absolutely loved Simeon and Adrián’s romance. It’s sexy and sweet, but also interesting and layered. I cannot wait to re-read it!

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.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Best Books of 2017

2018 is here and with it comes a batch of highly anticipated reads. But before I fully dive into the new year looking for some new favorite books, it’s time to take a look back at the best books of 2017. I read 138 books last year, including quite a few re-reads that I fell in love with all over again. I tried 31 new (to me) authors and discovered some wonderful authors (like Rebecca Brooks, Santino Hassell, Stefanie London, and Heather McCollum) whose backlists I cannot wait to dive into. And finally, I participated in my eighth A to Z Reading Challenge, a fun challenge that usually leads me to at least a couple of books I might not have moved to the top of my TBR pile otherwise.

I read a number of excellent books in 2017, but I did manage to narrow the list down so I could spotlight my 17 favorites of '17 – the ten best new reads and the seven best re-reads.

Top Ten Books of 2017
Top Re-Reads of 2017

My Top Ten Books of 2017

Note: My picks weren’t all published in 2017 (one is even a 1930s classic), but all were new-to-me reads for the year.
Also note: The books are alphabetized by author as I love them all equally.

1. White Hot (Hidden Legacy, Book 2) by Ilona Andrews
My Review | Purchase Link

2. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Purchase Link

3. On Broken Wings (Wild Aces, Book 3) by Chanel Cleeton
My Review | Purchase Link

4. Illegal Contact (The Barons, Book 1) by Santino Hassell
My Review | Purchase Link

5. Fair Game (All’s Fair, Book 1) by Josh Lanyon
Purchase Link

6. Fair Play (All’s Fair, Book 2) by Josh Lanyon
Purchase Link

7. Fair Chance (All’s Fair, Book 3) by Josh Lanyon
My Review | Purchase Link

8. Trouble Next Door by Stefanie London
My Review | Purchase Link

9. The Wolf of Kisimul Castle (Highland Isles, Book 3) by Heather McCollum
My Review | Purchase Link

10. Silver Silence (Psy-Changeling Trinity, Book 1) by Nalini Singh
My Review | Purchase Link

My Top Re-Reads of 2017

1. Rock Chick (Rock Chick, Book 1) by Kristen Ashley
Purchase Link

2. Quinn’s Hart by Cassandra Gold
My Review

3. Azagoth (Demonica Underworld, Book 1) by Larissa Ione
Purchase Link

4. Accidentally Compromising the Duke (Wedded by Scandal, Book 1) by Stacy Reid
My Review | Purchase Link

5. One Hot December (Men at Work, Book 3) by Tiffany Reisz
My Review | Purchase Link

6. Angels Fall by Nora Roberts
Purchase Link

7. High Noon by Nora Roberts
Purchase Link

Monday, January 1, 2018

Review: Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley

Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Below Stairs Mysteries, Book 1
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Mystery
ISBN: 9780399585517
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Jennifer Ashley Reading Order

Victorian class lines are crossed when cook Kat Holloway is drawn into a murder that reaches all the way to the throne.

Highly sought-after young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her young Irish assistant is murdered.

Intent on discovering who killed the helpless kitchen maid, Kat turns to the ever-capable Daniel McAdam, who is certainly much more than the charming delivery man he pretends to be. Along with the assistance of Lord Rankin’s unconventional sister-in-law and a mathematical genius, Kat and Daniel discover that the household murder was the barest tip of a plot rife with danger and treason—one that’s a threat to Queen Victoria herself.

Murder, secrets, and seedcake all come together to form one highly entertaining mystery in Death Below Stairs. Jennifer Ashley’s first Kat Holloway novel is a delight, thanks in large part to the wonderful cast of characters.

Kat Holloway is a talented cook and I loved seeing how a Victorian-era household chef works. Yet while that’s interesting in its own right, that’s not what endeared her to me. Kat is smart, no-nonsense, and stands up for what is right, even when it might get her in trouble. She’s a clever sleuth, and when her assistant is murdered in the middle of the night, she becomes determined to find out who killed the girl and why. But a cook – no matter how quick – cannot solve crime alone, which is why she needs the help of Daniel McAdam. Daniel is a mysterious figure who puts on and sheds personas at the drop of a hat. He seems to be able to find anything at any time and I’m desperate to know more about him. What I do know so far, I absolutely adore. Even though this isn’t a romance (though it does have romantic elements), I still have to say that Daniel is a pretty swoon-worthy hero. His charm radiates off the page and the way he interacts with Kat makes me sigh more often than not. The two of them have seriously fantastic chemistry that I’m hoping will continue to develop over the course of the series.

Daniel and Kat are at the heart of Death Below Stairs, but they’re not the only interesting characters. Daniel’s son James is as charming as his father and Kat’s daughter Grace is as sweet as can be. Lord Rankin’s household staff are a bunch of colorful characters that add life and depth to the story. Every single supporting character in this book is well-drawn and adds to the tale. But though the characters are what stood out most to me in Death Below Stairs, that doesn’t mean the mystery is lacking. A not-so-simple case of murder leads to clues about a Fenian plot, one with dire implications that leads to an exciting race against the clock. Ms. Ashley seamlessly blends historical details in with fiction and the result is a marvelous mystery that’s filled with action.

Death Below Stairs is the first full-length Kat Holloway novel and readers can easily dive right in here. However, there is a prequel novella, A Soupçon of Poison, that I highly recommend reading first. It gave me a better sense going into the novel of Kat’s character, background, professional situation, and her relationships with Daniel, James, and Grace.

Death Below Stairs is an engaging murder mystery overall. Jennifer Ashley’s writing always draws me in and this story is no exception. And while I finished this book a well-satisfied reader, I cannot wait to see what Kat and Daniel take on next in Scandal Above Stairs!

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: Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz

Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Cutler, Sutter & Salinas, Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Romantic Suspense
ISBN: 9780399585272
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

A painter of fiery, nightmarish visions throws herself into the sea—but she’ll leave some of her secrets behind…

Seattle gallery owner Virginia Troy has spent years battling the demons that stem from her childhood time in a cult and the night a fire burned through the compound, killing her mother. And now one of her artists has taken her own life, but not before sending Virginia a last picture: a painting that makes Virginia doubt everything about the so-called suicide—and her own past.

Like Virginia, private investigator Cabot Sutter was one of the children in the cult who survived that fire…and only he can help her now. As they struggle to unravel the clues in the painting, it becomes clear that someone thinks Virginia knows more than she does and that she must be stopped. Thrown into an inferno of desire and deception, Virginia and Cabot draw ever closer to the mystery of their shared memories—and the shocking fate of the one man who still wields the power to destroy everything they hold dear.

Promise Not to Tell is a real page-turner. It’s fast-paced, interesting, and has some great twists and turns without ever losing sight of the main couple. I absolutely hated it whenever I had to put Virginia and Cabot’s story down, and quite honestly, by the end of the book nothing could have torn me away.

Virginia and Cabot were children living in a cult until one fiery night where they lost their mothers and were rescued by the local police chief. It’s been over twenty years since the fire but both Virginia and Cabot are still haunted by the past. And when another cult survivor plunges to her death after sending Virginia an urgent message with hidden clues, she and Cabot will have to team up and face the demons of their past. Without sounding too vague, that’s about as much as I can say about the plot of Promise Not to Tell without giving away anything. Jayne Ann Krentz did an excellent job of combining mystery, suspense, and romance in this story. Cabot and Virginia may not have seen one another since they were kids, but their shared experiences and invisible scars give them an instant bond and help them easily open up to one another in a way they might not do with strangers. They’re both interesting, intelligent characters and it was easy to root for them to fall in love because they just plain fit. They had an easy chemistry that came off the page and their connection – not to mention the heightened drama around them – made their fast-paced romance work really well.

Intertwined with Virginia and Cabot’s romance is the suspense plotline involving the cult that was first mentioned in When All the Girls Have Gone, though you don’t have to have read the that book in order to follow this one. Ms. Krentz delves deeper into the history of the cult and Virginia and Cabot’s time there. The past is coming back to haunt Virginia, Cabot, and Cabot’s family in a very real way. As I said above, I’m hesitant to go into much detail for fear of spoiling the story. Suffice it to say Ms. Krentz has a lot of excellent twists and turns planned for readers and I was as taken with the cult plot as I was with the romance. While the ending of Promise Not to Tell left me a well-satisfied reader, I cannot wait to see what happens in the next Cutler, Sutter & Salinas book!

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.

2018 A to Z Reading Challenge

I've had a blast doing this challenge for the past few years and I can't resist another go 'round. I've discovered a few now-favorite books I might not have otherwise noticed because of this challenge :)

Challenge details:
- Duration: January 1, 2018 - December 31, 2018
- Read 26 books which titles begin with the letters of the alphabet.
- You may ignore articles like A, An and The at the beginning of the title.
- For the letter X, any book title with the letter X in it is acceptable if you can't find one that begins with X.
- You can sign up anytime.
- Please only list books you have read. You can read them in any order.
- A book only counts once, so you can include a re-read the first time you read it.

Date Completed: December 25, 2018

My List:
About That Kiss by Jill Shalvis – 1/20/18
Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs – 3/2/18
Chateau, The by Tiffany Reisz – 5/26/18
Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs – 2/3/18
Earl in My Bed, The by Stacy Reid – 4/12/18
French Maid, The by Sabrina Jeffries – 9/15/18
Good Luck Sister, The by Jill Shalvis – 3/15/18
Headmaster by Tara Sue Me – 1/15/18
I Flipping Love You by Helena Hunting – 5/12/18
Joy of Cookies, The by Sesame Workshop – 4/18/18
Kiss Quotient, The by Helen Hoang – 6/1/18
Life of the Party by Kate Davies – 2/6/18
Masked City, The by Genevieve Cogman – 1/7/18
NightDrake by Lara Adrian – 8/24/18
Other Lady Vanishes, The by Amanda Quick – 5/6/18
Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz – 1/1/17
Quidditch Through the Ages by J.K. Rowling – 3/30/18
Royally Wed by Teri Wilson – 4/28/18
She Tempts the Duke by Lorraine Heath – 1/10/18
Too Wilde to Wed by Eloisa James – 5/20/18
Untouchable by Jayne Ann Krentz – 12/25/18
Voodoo Killings, The by Kristi Charish – 11/22/18
Wedding Date, The by Jasmine Guillory – 1/28/18
NeXt Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton – 3/9/18
Your Magic Touch by Kathy Carmichael – 9/3/18
Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt – 10/20/18

2018 New (to me) Author Challenge

I've done this challenge for the past eight years and discovered some great new-to-me authors along the way (not hard to believe since I've read 537 new (to me) authors from 2010 to 2017). A few of my favorite authors that I've "discovered" over the past few years are Jenn Bennett, Kerrigan Byrne, Chanel Cleeton, C.C. Galloway, Larissa Ione, Robin LaFevers, Heather McCollum, Jeanette Murray, Lilah Pace, Stacy Reid, Tiffany Reisz, Riley Shane, Cherise Sinclair, Dee Tenorio, Lynn Viehl, Amanda Weaver, and Elia Winters.

The Challenge: Read 20 or more books this year by authors you’ve never read before.
Dates: January 1, 2018 - December 31, 2018

My list:

1. Author: Jen McLaughlin
Title: A Princess in Maine (McCullagh Inn, Book 3)

2. Author: Jasmine Guillory
Title: The Wedding Date

3. Author: Lauren Blakely
Title: Wanderlust

4. Author: Katie Allen
Title: Baking Lessons (Off Guard, Book 2)

5. Author: Jill Twiss
Title: A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo

6. Author: Shelly Laurenston
Title: Hot and Badgered (The Honey Badgers, Book 1)

7. Author: Kim Fielding
Title: The Little Library

8. Author: Sam Crescent
Title: Princess Next Door

9. Author: Amber Belmont
Title: Running Bear (Love Laid Bear, Book 1)

10. Author: Helena Hunting
Title: I Flipping Love You (Shacking Up, Book 3)

11. Author: Helen Hoang
Title: The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, Book 1)

12. Author: Mia Marlowe
Title: The Singular Mr. Sinclair (The House of Lovell, Book 1)

13. Author: Stuart Turton
Title: The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

14. Author: Louise Bay
Title: Hollywood Scandal

15. Author: Kate McKinley
Title: A Duchess in the Dark (By Invitation Only, Book 1)

16. Author: Lara Adrian
Title: NightDrake

17. Author: Kathy Carmichael
Title: Your Magic Touch

18. Author: Tara Sheets
Title: Don’t Call Me Cupcake (The Holloway Girls, Book 1)

19. Author: Joe De Sena
Title: The Spartan Way: Eat Better. Train Better. Think Better. Be Better.

20. Author: Mindy Kaling
Title: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

21. Author: Vi Keeland
Title: Sex, Not Love

22. Author: John Paul Parrot
Title: Dr. Parrot's Guide to Becoming a Lean, Mean, Killing Machine

23. Author: Patton Oswalt
Title: Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

24. Author: Marie Hall
Title: Her Mad Hatter (Kingdom, Book 1)

25. Author: Lisa Kessler
Title: Magnolia Mystic (Sentinels of Savannah, Book 1)

26. Author: Beth Labonte
Title: Pumpkin Everything

Books I've Read in 2018

For the past eight(!!!) years I've kept track of the books I read. I read so much that everything tends to blend together in my mental library. It's always fun at the end of the year to look back and see what I've read, loved, and want to re-read (and - on the rare occasion - want to avoid). Plus, it's great to share and compare lists with other book bloggers :)

This list is only of books and novellas I've read and finished (though if I read an entire anthology, I list only the anthology title). The books are listed in the order I read them.

There are sure to be many wonderful stories on the list, but the ones with a ** by them are ones I highly recommend.

1. Promise Not to Tell (Cutler, Sutter & Salinas, Book 2) by Jayne Ann Krentz
2. The Masked City (The Invisible Library, Book 2) by Genevieve Cogman
3. She Tempts the Duke (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, Book 1) by Lorraine Heath
4. A Princess in Maine (McCullagh Inn, Book 3) by Jen McLaughlin
5. Down by Contact (The Barons, Book 2) by Santino Hassell
6. Headmaster (Lessons from the RACK, Book 2) by Tara Sue Me
7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, Book 1) by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
8. About That Kiss (Heartbreaker Bay, Book 5) by Jill Shalvis
9. Dumb as a Roc (Paranormal Dating Agency) by Mina Carter
10. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, Book 2) by J.K. Rowling (re-read) **
11. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
12. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, Book 3) by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
13. Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega, Book 4) by Patricia Briggs (re-read)
14. Life of the Party (Girls Most Likely to..., Book 3) by Kate Davies
15. Playing House (Sydney Smoke Rugby, Book 5) by Amy Andrews
16. Wanderlust by Lauren Blakely **
17. The Burning Page (The Invisible Library, Book 3) by Genevieve Cogman
18. Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega, Book 5) by Patricia Briggs
19. Dark in Death (In Death, Book 46) by J.D. Robb
20. Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
21. Baking Lessons (Off Guard, Book 2) by Katie Allen
22. The Good Luck Sister (Wildstone, Book 1.5) by Jill Shalvis
23. Murder Takes the High Road by Josh Lanyon – 3/18/18
24. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Marlon Bundo and Jill Twiss **
25. The Secret of Flirting (Sinful Suitors, Book 5) by Sabrina Jeffries
26. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, Book 4) by J.K. Rowling
27. Hot and Badgered (The Honey Badgers, Book 1) by Shelly Laurenston
28. Quidditch Through the Ages (Hogwarts Library) by J.K. Rowling
29. Misbehaving by Tiffany Reisz **
30. The Little Library by Kim Fielding
31. The Magician Murders (The Art of Murder, Book 3) by Josh Lanyon
32. The Earl in My Bed (Rebellious Desires, Book 2) by Stacy Reid
33. The Woman Who Couldn't Scream (Virtue Falls, Book 4) by Christina Dodd
34. Princess Next Door by Sam Crescent
35. The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Monster's Guide to Life by Sesame Workshop **
36. A Duke Like No Other (Playful Brides, Book 9) by Valerie Bowman
37. Dead Girl Running (Cape Charade, Book 1) by Christina Dodd
38. Running Bear (Love Laid Bear, Book 1) by Amber Belmont
39. Royally Wed (The Royals, Book 3) by Teri Wilson **
40. The Other Lady Vanishes (Burning Cove, Book 2) by Amanda Quick
41. I Flipping Love You (Shacking Up, Book 3) by Helena Hunting
42. Wilde in Love (The Wildes of Lindow Castle, Book 1) by Eloisa James
43. Too Wilde to Wed (The Wildes of Lindow Castle, Book 2) by Eloisa James
44. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, Book 5) by J.K. Rowling
45. Rainy Day Friends (Wildstone, Book 2) by Jill Shalvis **
46. The Chateau (The Original Sinners, Book 9) by Tiffany Reisz **
47. Purity in Death (In Death, Book 15) by J.D. Robb (re-read) **
48. The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, Book 1) by Helen Hoang
49. Ritual in Death (In Death, Book 27.5) by J.D. Robb (re-read)
50. Ocean Light (Psy-Changeling Trinity, Book 2) by Nalini Singh **
51. One for the Rogue (Studies in Scandal, Book 4) by Manda Collins
52. Scandal Above Stairs (Kat Holloway Mysteries, Book 2) by Jennifer Ashley
53. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, Book 6) by J.K. Rowling
54. Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, Book 1) by Gail Carriger (re-read)
55. The Little Library by Kim Fielding (re-read)
56. Heroine’s Journey (Heroine Complex, Book 3) by Sarah Kuhn **
57. Smoke and Iron (The Great Library, Book 4) by Rachel Caine **
58. Angels Fall by Nora Roberts (re-read) **
59. Off the Grid (The Lost Platoon, Book 2) by Monica McCarty
60. The Risk of Rogues (Sinful Suitors, Book 5.5) by Sabrina Jeffries
61. Playing Dirty (Sydney Smoke Rugby, Book 6) by Amy Andrews
62. The Singular Mr. Sinclair (The House of Lovell, Book 1) by Mia Marlowe
63. Born to Be Wilde (The Wildes of Lindow Castle, Book 3) by Eloisa James
64. The Dark Horse (The Dark Horse, Book 1) by Josh Lanyon
65. Iron and Magic (The Iron Covenant, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews
66. Riding Red (Fairytale Shifter, Book 1) by Alexa Riley
67. The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
68. Hollywood Scandal by Louise Bay
69. 36 Valentines by Julia Quinn (re-read)
70. The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie (Mackenzies & McBrides, Book 6) by Jennifer Ashley (re-read)
71. Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels, Book 10) by Ilona Andrews
72. Don’t Look Back by Josh Lanyon (re-read)
73. A Duchess in the Dark (By Invitation Only, Book 1) by Kate McKinley
74. Three-Way Split (Comes in Threes, Book 1) by Elia Winters
75. Seduction In Death (In Death, Book 13) by J.D. Robb (re-read)
76. NightDrake by Lara Adrian
77. The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo (Victorian Rebels, Book 6) by Kerrigan Byrne
78. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, Book 7) by J.K. Rowling **
79. Hard Deal (Melbourne After Dark, Book 2) by Stefanie London
80. Your Magic Touch by Kathy Carmichael
81. Don’t Call Me Cupcake (The Holloway Girls, Book 1) by Tara Sheets
82. Hot Winter Nights (Heartbreaker Bay, Book 6) by Jill Shalvis
83. The French Maid by Sabrina Jeffries
84. The Spartan Way: Eat Better. Train Better. Think Better. Be Better. by Joe De Sena
85. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
86. Missing In Death (In Death, Book 29.5) by J.D. Robb (re-read)
87. Don't Touch My Petunia (The Holloway Girls, Book 2) by Tara Sheets
88. A Rose in the Highlands (Highland Roses School, Book 1) by Heather McCollum
89. The White Knight (The Dark Horse, Book 2) by Josh Lanyon
90. The Salisbury Key by Harper Fox
91. Leverage in Death (In Death, Book 47) by J.D. Robb
92. The Wedding from Hell: The Rehearsal Dinner (Firefighters, Book 0.25) by J.R. Ward
93. The Wedding from Hell: The Reception (Firefighters, Book 0.5) by J.R. Ward
94. Sex, Not Love by Vi Keeland
95. Consumed (Firefighters, Book 1) by J.R. Ward
96. Dr. Parrot's Guide to Becoming a Lean, Mean, Killing Machine by John Paul Parrot
97. The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
98. Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt
99. Kiss Me at Christmas (Playful Brides, Book 10) by Valerie Bowman
100. Her Mad Hatter (Kingdom, Book 1) by Marie Hall
101. Picture Perfect Cowboy (The Original Sinners, Book 10) by Tiffany Reisz **
102. Magnolia Mystic (Sentinels of Savannah, Book 1) by Lisa Kessler
103. Pirate’s Passion (Sentinels of Savannah, Book 2) by Lisa Kessler
104. The Other Miss Bridgerton (Rokesbys, Book 3) by Julia Quinn
105. Aidan & Ethan (Seeking Redemption, Book 1) by Cameron Dane (re-read) **
106. The Voodoo Killings (Kincaid Strange, Book 1) by Kristi Charish (re-read)
107. When All the Girls Have Gone (Cutler, Sutter, & Salinas, Book 1) by Jayne Ann Krentz (re-read)
108. A Protector in the Highlands (Highland Roses School, Book 2) by Heather McCollum
109. Somebody Killed His Editor (Holmes & Moriarity, Book 1) by Josh Lanyon (re-read)
110. Promise Not to Tell (Cutler, Sutter & Salinas, Book 2) by Jayne Ann Krentz (re-read)
111. Not the Duke’s Darling (Greycourt, Book 1) by Elizabeth Hoyt
112. The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks (The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks, Book 1) by Josh Lanyon
113. Untouchable (Cutler, Sutter & Salinas, Book 3) by Jayne Ann Krentz
114. Pumpkin Everything by Beth Labonte
115. A Will and a Way by Nora Roberts
116. Maybe This Time (Whiskey and Weddings, Book 2) by Nicole McLaughlin
117. The Ghost Had an Early Checkout (The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks, Book 2) by Josh Lanyon