Monday, December 30, 2019

Review: My Darling Duke by Stacy Reid

My Darling Duke by Stacy Reid
Series: Sinful Wallflowers, Book 1
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781640637467
Release Date: December 31, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

Miss Katherine Danvers has always been a wallflower. But now, with her family on the brink of financial ruin, she finds herself a desperate wallflower. To save her family, she'll do anything. Luckily, she has the perfect plan…

She’ll impress the ton by simply announcing she is engaged to the reclusive and mysterious Duke of Thornton, Alexander Masters, and secure strong matches for her sisters. No one has heard from the duke in years. Surely he’ll never find out before her sisters’ weddings, and she can go back to her own quiet life.

Soon, though, everything is out of control. At first, it’s just a few new ball gowns on the duke’s accounts. Then, it’s interviews with reporters eager for gossip. Before she knows it, Katherine has transformed herself into Kitty Danvers, charming and clever belle of the ton—with everyone eager to meet her thankfully absent fiancé.

But when the enigmatic Alexander Masters suddenly arrives in the city, dashing and oh so angry, he demands retribution. Except not in the way Katherine expected…

Beauty and the Beast gets a fresh new retelling in the wonderful My Darling Duke. Stacy Reid has kicked off her Sinful Wallflowers series with a tale that’s both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

Kitty Danvers is desperate. At twenty-three, she is both unmarried and the head of a family with almost no money. With three younger sisters she wants to see happily settled, Kitty makes a bold move to capture society’s interest: she claims to be engaged to the reclusive Duke of Thornton. I loved Kitty’s spirit and determination. She’s got a good heart and is doing what she can for her family. Kitty is lively, unique, and a very easy to root for heroine.

Alexander Masters, Duke of Thornton, keeps his hand in politics but has otherwise withdrawn from society. He was horribly injured in a fire that also claimed the lives of his parents. I really liked that Ms. Reid didn’t simply wave off his devastating injuries, but rather shows the strength and determination Alexander has had to go through to be able to walk. He’s a man almost always in pain and is still healing, but much like the literary beast we all know and love, he’s locked himself away in his castle. When news reaches him that he’s supposedly engaged, he finds himself intrigued by the daring woman who is using his name. He’s even more captivated when he meets Kitty, and soon he strikes a deal with her that has Kitty in his clutches.

The romance between Kitty and Alexander is slow to burn and it works really well in this case, as Alexander and Kitty fall in love as they learn more and more about one another. They are both intelligent, stubborn, warm-hearted characters who fit one another like lock and key. But Alexander is determined never to marry because of the complications from his accident. However, the longer he and Kitty are around one another, the more she is determined to show them they can have the happiness he secretly longs for. Alexander was so lonely it broke my heart at times and I loved watching him come back to life around Kitty. As for Kitty, she’s got such spirit and inner strength it was impossible not to adore her. She deserves to find love with someone like Alexander, someone who wholly accepts her and sees how wonderful she is.

Whenever I pick up a Stacy Reid book I know I’m in for a good time and My Darling Duke is no exception. Ms. Reid perfectly balances the dark and the light, emotional turbulence with fun banter. I cannot wait to see what she has in store for Kitty’s fellow Sinful Wallflowers!


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, December 15, 2019

Review: Healthy as F*ck by Oonagh Duncan

Healthy as F*ck: The Habits You Need to Get Lean, Stay Healthy, and Kick Ass at Life by Oonagh Duncan
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Health and Wellness
ISBN: 9781492693864
Source: Publisher & Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Join the Movement. Ditch the Diet.

Who's ready to stop thinking about weight loss? To free their brain from thoughts about ketones, calories, and fasting? Who wants life to be more effortless, energetic, and empowered?

Welcome to a refreshing and gloriously unapologetic conversation about health, fitness and habits. Award-winning trainer Oonagh Duncan cuts through the wellness clutter to drop some truth bombs: it might not be six-pack abs you're looking for — it might be happiness, confidence, and acceptance. But if losing your belly is what you want, don't let anyone — including yourself — stop you from going after it. And she'll show you how to make it happen.

There's only one major difference between those rare unicorns who have managed to lose weight and the rest of us: their habits. When you acknowledge that following a diet is not getting you anywhere, and you make a few small changes to your everyday routine, you'll find yourself happier and healthy as f*ck.

Healthy as F*ck is hands-down the best health and wellness book I’ve ever read. Author Oonagh Duncan is funny, relatable, and smart in her approach to wellness. The secret to weight loss isn’t a magic pill or a quick fix or an extreme diet. It’s all about the habits you form, the small changes that will ultimately shape your behavior and help you lose weight. Ms. Duncan provides simple guidelines that are easy to follow, but before you get to those I highly recommend doing the very few exercises she asks you to do on finding your why. Trust me, it’s something I would normally roll my eyes at but it was a far more powerful motivator than I could have imagined.

Ms. Duncan’s approach is the most commonsense one I’ve seen in a long time. Her conversational writing style is also incredibly appealing – she talks like my friends and I do. I’ve read Healthy as F*ck twice already and her voice is what draws me in from the start, making me more at ease and open to her ideas. That being said, if cussing bothers you then you may have a hard time with this book. As for me, I loved everything about this book. It has been the most helpful book on getting healthy I’ve ever read and Ms. Duncan’s writing is a joy to read. So if you’re looking for an approachable, motivational, commonsense approach on how to meet your long-term health goals, you cannot go wrong with Healthy as F*ck.


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

Monday, December 2, 2019

Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Thriller
ISBN: 9780593099131
Release Date: December 3, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Nalini Singh Reading Order

On the rugged West Coast of New Zealand, Golden Cove is more than just a town where people live. The adults are more than neighbors; the children, more than schoolmates.

That is until one fateful summer—and several vanished bodies—shatters the trust holding Golden Cove together. All that’s left are whispers behind closed doors, broken friendships, and a silent agreement to not look back. But they can’t run from the past forever.

Eight years later, a beautiful young woman disappears without a trace, and the residents of Golden Cove wonder if their home shelters something far more dangerous than an unforgiving landscape.

It’s not long before the dark past collides with the haunting present and deadly secrets come to light.

Prepare to be swept away to a small New Zealand town that’s as beautiful as it is treacherous in A Madness of Sunshine. Nalini Singh’s thriller debut is as engaging and evocative as I would expect from a writer of her caliber.

Golden Cove is an isolated community where everyone knows everyone. But do they really? For even in a place like this, people have their secrets. Anahera Rawiri, a gifted, renowned pianist, has returned home after years away. Anahera is strong, kind, and recovering from pain and betrayal. Everything and nothing has changed about Golden Cove when Anahera returns; many of the people she once knew as well as herself are familiar strangers. The most interesting new addition? Detective Will Gallagher, Golden Cove’s one-man police force. Will is as strong and focused as Anahera. He also has demons of his own he’s facing, ones that are the reason he was sent out to the bush. Sparks fly immediately between Will and Anahera, but it’s their “otherness” – Anahera’s from her time away and Will from his newness to Golden Cove – that draws them together when tragedy strikes and a young woman goes missing. Her disappearance stirs up old ghosts and hidden shame from one summer years ago when three other women vanished.

Ms. Singh serves up an interesting double mystery in A Madness of Sunshine. The present day search for a missing young woman intertwines with the disappearance of three hikers back when Anahera was a teenager and each mystery is engaging in its own right. I loved watching the pieces unfold, loved how the lush landscape Ms. Singh details plays into the story itself. I also enjoyed uncovering the layers of the town and its residents. The sordid secrets were all interesting as they were unearthed and I liked feeling like I was digging deeper into many of the characters with each passing page. Though it is set a world away, in many ways A Madness of Sunshine reminded me of Nora Roberts’s romantic suspense titles from fifteen – twenty years ago (think Carolina Moon). It’s not the plots themselves, but rather the cadence of the story and the patterns of the characters that felt familiar (not a bad thing). The only downside is that I felt the mysteries weren’t too…well…mysterious.

A Madness of Sunshine is beautiful and dark, just like the world of Golden Cove. Even though I would have wished for a few more surprising moments, I still thoroughly enjoyed this book. Ms. Singh’s writing sucked me in each time I picked up the book and I loved watching Anahera and Will put the pieces together over the course of the story. Though my first love will always be Ms. Singh’s paranormal romances, I would dive into another thriller by her in a heartbeat.


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.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Review: The Boss Who Stole Christmas by Jana Aston

The Boss Who Stole Christmas by Jana Aston
Series: Reindeer Falls, Book 1
Publisher: Rutherford Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ASIN: B07ZV9C9Q9
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Amazon | Audible

Dear Santa,

Please bring me a new boss for Christmas. Mine is the worst. The worst, hidden in a six foot tall package of male perfection. It’d be easier if he looked like an old Scrooge, wouldn’t it?

Nick Saint-Croix doesn’t look like an old scrooge. He’s hot as-

Um, never mind. Just bring me a new boss. Please.

Sincerely,
Holly Winter

Holly Winter loves Christmas, her hometown of Reindeer Falls, and her dream job at Flying Reindeer Toy Company. What she doesn’t love is her new boss, Nick Saint-Croix, the Grinch of Reindeer Falls. She has no idea why Nick took over the toy company after his uncle retired; the man has “big city” written all over him. But perhaps there is more to Nick than Holly sees…

The Boss Who Stole Christmas is capital “A” Adorable. It’s bright, cheerful, sexy, and just plain fun to read. I adored Jana Aston’s world of Reindeer Falls and cannot wait to see more of it.

Poor Nick. He’s pretty much the perfect hero and Holly’s assumptions about him have to hurt. Nick is far more caring, considerate, and kind than Holly gives him credit for and it’s clear from the start he and Holly are a perfect match in every way. On the one hand, if Holly hadn’t been convinced Nick was a Grinch then there would be no story. On the other, her image of him didn’t have much of a basis so I wanted to shake her a few times and it kept this story from being a solid five star read. In any other story Holly’s dogged determination to cast Nick in a bad light might have soured me and made me want to yell at Nick that he deserved more. But aside from her bias against Nick, Holly was a charming and fun heroine. She’s bright and full of passion and great ideas for the Flying Reindeer Toy Company. Her bright-eyed love of Christmas made me smile and Ms. Aston makes this story so bright and charming that I was willing to go along and wait for Holly to see the real Nick. I loved watching her come to see the man beneath the suit – and what a deliciously sexy man he was.

The Boss Who Stole Christmas is supremely sweet with a kick of spice. It’s never cloying but genuinely warm-hearted in its holiday cheer. I can’t wait to read more about Reindeer Falls and I really liked Holly’s sister Ginger, so I’m eager to dive into her story, If You Give a Jerk a Gingerbread.


FTC Disclosure: This book was purchased by me. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Review: Three For All by Elia Winters

Three For All by Elia Winters
Series: Comes in Threes, Book 3
Publisher: Cecaelia Press
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Polyamorous Romance
ISBN: 9781951589004
Release Date: November 12, 2019
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo
Elia Winters Reading Order

Geoff Robinson has no reason to feel insecure in his marriage to Patrick Walsh, even with Patrick’s polyamorous past and Geoff’s own inexperience. When Geoff starts fantasizing about bringing a woman into their bed, he has to admit that he’s trying to appease his own curiosity, and not Patrick’s. Threesomes are exciting, and surely one night of fun won’t cause any problems.

With the ink still fresh on her PhD, Lori Clark is finally ready to move to a bigger city and pursue her dream job. Her time in small-town Mapleton has an expiration date, so there seems to be little harm in a fling, even a fling with her sexy coworker and his husband. One night is never enough, though, and their chemistry together hints at the possibility of more than just an affair. The excitement of a new relationship makes Geoff and Patrick wonder if they’re just infatuated or destined for non-monogamy, but Lori’s future plans are pulling her away from both of them. Can a marriage survive when two people in love… both fall in love with someone else?

You’re not going to need to turn the heater on this winter because Three For All is hot as hell. Elia Winters’s third Comes in Threes story is a deliciously dirty polyam romance with a core of emotional honesty that makes it stand out.

Geoff and Patrick have been married almost seven years and their love and marriage is as solid as can be. They don’t talk much about Patrick’s polyamorous past anymore and Geoff has no doubt that Patrick is completely faithful. That doesn’t stop him from wondering if perhaps Patrick might want more…and if maybe he does as well. The chief reason for Geoff’s unquiet? His co-worker, Lori, who is not only intelligent and gorgeous, but shares a lot of common interests with both Geoff and Patrick. One of the things I love most about Three For All is Patrick and Geoff’s marriage. They have their bumps, uncertainties, and vulnerabilities, but they always talk to one another and there’s never any judgment. They are so solid they know they can be open and vulnerable to one another and it makes their love story that much stronger and more interesting.

With the ink still drying on her PhD, Lori has her eye on the prize. She’s going to leave Mapleton and move to New York City to pursue her dream of working as a relationship therapist, hopefully with an organization that supports people of color, LGBTQ people, and nontraditional relationships. She did her dissertation on polyamory and is intrigued when she realizes Goeff and Patrick are interested in inviting her to bed. What none of them count on is how quickly they start to fall for each other and fall into a triad relationship. Lori fears being the third wheel, but it’s clear she’s made for Patrick and Geoff. She’s also a fantastic heroine who is funny, interesting, and refreshingly self-aware.

Whether they get together in twos or threes, Patrick, Geoff, and Lori are insanely hot. Sweetly submissive Patrick just about melted my heart, Geoff – who can be uncertain in some areas of his changing feelings – is confidently dominant, and Lori isn’t afraid to go for what she wants in the bedroom. Put them all together and you’re in for one hell of a ride. And while I cannot overstate how sexy Three For All is, it’s the characters themselves who make this story shine. They talk about polyamory, they learn, the guys become friends with Lori even as they fall for her and she for them. There’s no false drama, only honest emotion and very human fears and needs. There’s so much to love about this book and the way it discusses polyamorous relationships that I’ve barely touched on what readers will find.

Elia Winters writes polyam romance better than anyone else I’ve ever read and Three For All shows why. It’s erotic, sex-positive, funny, heartwarming, engaging, and just plain fun to read. Patrick, Lori, and Geoff are all unique, well-drawn characters who fit each other perfectly and I loved watching them become a family. So if you’re looking for a kinky good time that also has emotional depth, Three For All is the perfect book for you.


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.

Elia Winters Book Order

Click on series title to jump to a particular reading order:


Comes in Threes
Slices of Pi
Stand Alones


Comes in Threes

1. Three-Way Split
Hannah Stewart, Mitchell Fredericks, and Ben Harrington
My Review

2. Just Past Two
Abby Burke and Sam Burke
My Review

3. Three For All
Lori Clark, Geoff Robinson, and Patrick Walsh
My Review

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Slices of Pi

1. Even Odds
Isabel Suarez and Caleb Portland

2. Tied Score
Iris Parker and Owen Hobbs
My Review

3. Single Player
Matthew Abrams and Silas Benson


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Stand Alones

Playing Knotty
Emma Green and Ian Cooper
My Review

Purely Professional
Bridget Hartwell and Max Harlow

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Please note: This page was written by me, so as always, please visit the author’s website for up-to-date, author-verified information as well as for information books that have not yet been included to this list.

https://eliawinters.com/

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Review: The Widow's Auction by Sabrina Jeffries

The Widow’s Auction by Sabrina Jeffries
Publisher: InterMix
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9780451488268
Ebook Source: Publisher
Print Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo
Sabrina Jeffries Reading Order

Though Isobel Lamberton, the widowed Lady Kingsley, is confounded by her dealings with the obstinate Justin Antony, Lord Warbrooke, his commanding presence sparks something deep within her. But such romantic thoughts are for naught. For Justin’s political aspirations always come first. And Isobel’s own secret past could damage both of them permanently.

So when Isobel’s friend talks her into participating in a scandalous auction of masked widows at a gentleman’s club, she reluctantly agrees…and soon begins to relish being an object of desire. But none desire her more than Justin, who recognizes the outspoken Isobel in disguise and sets out to teach her a lesson worth far more than money…

Isobel Lamberton, Lady Kingsley, and Justin Antony, Lord Warbrooke, are at loggerheads with one another. Both sit on the board of a boys’ school and each has their own proposal they are determined to see win the board vote. The two of them are driving one another mad. Isobel is frustrated with Justin’s high-handedness and he is equally frustrated with her stubbornness. What neither will admit – but all can see – is their deep attraction to one another. When Isobel is talked into participating in a scandalous widow’s auction and Justin finds himself at the same auction, determined to gain the support of one of their more degenerate board members, things come to a head and the passion takes hold. But what will morning bring?

I can’t count the number of times I’ve read The Widow’s Auction since it was first published in the Fantasy anthology. Justin and Isobel never fail to make me smile and I always fall into Sabrina Jeffries’s writing.

Isobel and Justin are clearly made for one another, but misconceptions and hidden fears are keeping them both from taking a risk making their feelings known. It takes a masked widow’s auction to give them that extra push, Isobel’s belief that Justin doesn’t recognize her making her more open than she would normally be. Isobel’s upbringing isn’t at all what Justin thinks it is; the way it marked her and how her marriage to the saintly Lord Kingsley shaped her persona are something he could never guess. I loved watching him come to understand her and for her to see past her biases and come to know the man beneath the perfect politician. One night of passion doesn’t solve everything, but it is exactly the push both Justin and Isobel need. They’re a perfect match in bed and out and I loved watching Isobel embrace her desires. The Widow’s Auction is a deliciously steamy read with two passionate protagonists and a happily ever after that’s guaranteed to satisfy.


FTC Disclosure:I received the eBook edition of this story 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, October 27, 2019

Review: A Mackenzie Clan Christmas by Jennifer Ashley

A Mackenzie Clan Christmas by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Mackenzies & McBrides, Book 8.5 & Book 11.5
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781984805584
Release Date: October 29, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Jennifer Ashley Reading Order

Celebrate the holidays with New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ashley's Mackenzie clan in two heartwarming novellas.

Includes a never before published Mackenzie Christmas novella!

When the Mackenzie family gathers in Scotland to celebrate the holidays the love and joy of the Christmas spirit captures everyone's hearts.

And a reader favorite…A Mackenzie Clan Gathering
The Mackenzie clan has gathered for Hart's birthday at the sprawling family estate in Scotland. But before the festivities can start, the house is robbed, and thieves make off with an untold fortune in rare art.

Ian Mackenzie and his brothers must do what they can to retrieve the family treasure, but Ian is distracted by a family friend who claims he might have the power to "cure" Ian of his madness forever. All the Mackenzies must draw together as courage, love, and a tantalizing mystery serve to strengthen their bond, and redefine the meaning of family.

“A Mackenzie Yuletide” (Mackenzies & McBrides, Book 11.5)
A ghostly visitor, a missing artifact, and multiple generations of Mackenzies getting in on both hunts? Sign me up! “A Mackenzie Yuletide” is a delightful Christmastime romp featuring one of my favorite families.

It’s December 1898 and Mac Mackenzie is at Kilmorgan painting when he spies a ghost. His siblings and their various offspring are determined to settle their supernatural debate over the existence of ghosts by catching the specter. Meanwhile, Ian Mackenzie is equally determined to get the perfect Hogmanay gift for his wife, Beth. But the priceless antique necklace has been stolen and he’s not the only person – or even the only Mackenzie – searching for it. Both mysteries are delightful, mostly because various Mackenzies team up to solve the cases.

Ian has always been a scene-stealer for me, so I was delighted to catch up with both him and his beloved Beth. Their love for one another and their children is as strong as ever and spending time with them was pure joy. And speaking of their children, author Jennifer Ashley gives an exciting peek into the minds of some of the Mackenzie children. The only downside to this? I desperately hope the younger Mackenzies get books of their own one day because they are as fascinating as their parents. Cam’s daughter, Gavina, intrigued me most of all and her determination never to wed means she’s practically begging for a book of her own.

The Mackenzie clan is bright, boisterous, and unique. The romantic and familial bonds are on full display in “A Mackenzie Yuletide” and made me smile more than once. I’m so glad I got to go on another adventure with the Mackenzies and I desperately hope Ms. Ashley has more stories in store for them.


“A Mackenzie Clan Gathering” (Mackenzies & McBrides, Book 8.5)
“A Mackenzie Clan Gathering” is a beautiful story brimming with emotion. Fans of the Mackenzies & McBrides series won’t want to miss this novella, for it’s sure to make you fall in love with the Mackenzies all over again.

Ian, Beth, and their children are the only Mackenzies in residence at Kilmorgan when thieves break in, stealing a good portion of the duke’s art collection. Ian is determined to track the culprits before the rest of his family shows up, but he’s sidetracked by the arrival of Beth’s late husband’s brother, a man who claims he can cure Ian of his “madness.” Ian and Beth are two of my all-time favorite characters, and in “A Mackenzie Clan Gathering” we get to see how they’ve grown over the years they’ve been married. Their bond is stronger than ever, but when Ian is tempted with the possibility of being “cured,” it just about broke my heart, especially because he wants to do so for Beth’s sake. Of course, we know two things: (1) Beth loves him just the way he is and (2) Ian isn’t mad, nor does he need to be “cured” – he has Asperger’s, decades before anyone knows what that is. What follows I’ll leave readers to discover, but I will say that we get to see more interesting things about the Mackenzie family. Most importantly, Ms. Ashley touched my emotions showing the deep bonds of love – romantic and familial – among the Mackenzie clan.

The investigation into who is behind the art theft takes some interesting turns, tying into the series in an unexpected way. And though “A Mackenzie Clan Gathering” is primarily Ian and Beth’s story, other family members do get their moments to shine. I’ll never get tired of seeing Hart with Ian; the duke’s love for his youngest brother never fails to grab me and revisiting this novella made me want to re-read their books all over again. If you’re new to the series, don’t worry – you’ll still be able to follow along. But truly, this story is probably best enjoyed if you’re already invested in the Mackenzie & McBrides series. I absolutely loved revisiting Ian and Beth and I hope Ms. Ashley continues to gift readers with more glimpses into what happens after happily ever after for the entire Mackenzie clan.


A Mackenzie Clan Christmas is perfect for any fan of Ms. Ashley’s Mackenzie family. It’s lovely to catch up with such beloved characters after their happily ever after, to see the bonds of love and family strengthen as their number grows. Both novellas warmed my heart and made me smile; they’re the perfect holiday reads that you can enjoy all year long.


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, October 22, 2019

Review: The Highland Outlaw by Heather McCollum

The Highland Outlaw by Heather McCollum
Series: The Campbells, Book 4
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781640638716
Release Date: October 21, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

Shaw Sinclair, chief of the outcast clan of Sinclairs of Caithness in northern Scotland, has made a deal with the devil. Despite his strength and lethal skills, he needs help—specifically from a woman—to accomplish his mission to bring a bairn to safety to the coast. When he meets the brave and beautiful Alana Campbell at a Samhain Festival, he decides she's the one.

Alana Campbell is ready to show the world she's just as skillful with a sgian dubh as any man. Attracting the attention of the brawny chief who coerces her to join him on his journey to the coast of Scotland gives her that very opportunity. Sparks flash between them as they're forced to act as husband and wife to accomplish the deadly mission. However, when secrets threaten to tear them apart, they have to decide if their differences outweigh the reality of their feelings…

Shaw Sinclair grew up under the brutal thumb of his wastrel uncle who sold the Sinclair lands to the Campbells. Shaw takes his duties as chief of the Sinclair clan seriously and is determined to protect his people at all costs. His fears for their welfare are well-founded so when the chance to reclaim his lands and guarantee health and safety for his people is offered, he jumps on it. All he has to do is deliver a very important newborn to the coast where she’ll be taken to France. But when the baby is delivered to Shaw, starving and clearly in imminent danger, Shaw knows he and his trusted warriors are going to need help. Chance throws him in the path of Alana Campbell and when her problem-solving skills and kind heart show she’d be perfect to help with the baby, Shaw kidnaps then bargains with her to gain her assistance. Their journey is fraught with danger as they work together to care for and defend the child in their care. Threats they expect, but their mutual attraction is something neither could anticipate. Sinclairs and Campbells are enemies, so there’s no way anything could happen between Shaw and Alana. Is there?

The Highland Outlaw is an exciting, engaging ride thanks to its two leads. Alana and Shaw have great personalities and fantastic chemistry, making the pages of their story fly by.

Alana has a generous heart, a spine of steel, and a deadly aim. She’s exactly the kind of heroine I enjoy and I liked her resourcefulness and spirit. As for Shaw, he’s a chieftain desperate to save his people and will go to great lengths to do so. He’s also as protective as they come and has more honor than he gives himself credit for. He and Alana clash, then become allies in the name of protecting the baby in their charge, and then they become something much more. Their dialogue made me smile, their romance made me sigh, and the way they cared for their vulnerable charge absolutely melted my heart. I loved every bit of Alana and Shaw’s journey and hated it whenever I had to put The Highland Outlaw down because I so wanted them to get their happily ever after.

Feuding clans aren’t the only problem in Shaw and Alana’s way. There are also the men hunting the child they’re sworn to protect, whose origins I’ll leave readers to discover. Alana and the Sinclair warriors with her are outgunned and outnumbered, but I’ll put my money on these fearsome Highlanders any day of the week. And though I must be purposefully vague so as to avoid spoilers, I enjoyed how the secrets, questions of loyalty, and various plots unfolded over the course of the book. Author Heather McCollum balanced the action and the romance perfectly there was never a dull moment in this book.

The Highland Outlaw is the fourth book in the Campbells series, but it can easily be read as a standalone. I’ve adored every single outing with the Campbell clan and the Highland Roses School, where women are taught everything from reading to self-defense. Alana and Shaw’s story is no exception and I dearly hope Ms. McCollum has more adventures in store for the Highland Roses. Ms. McCollum’s strong, compassionate, and skilled heroines and the brave, protective warriors who love them are always a draw for me.


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, October 21, 2019

Review: Eff This! Meditation by Liza Kindred

Eff This! Meditation:108 Tips, Tricks, and Ideas for When You're Stressed Out, Anxious, or Overwhelmed by Liza Kindred
Publisher: Rock Point
Genre: Health and Wellness
ISBN: 9781631066368
Release Date: October 22, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Are you stressed out, anxious, or overwhelmed? Get out of the storm swirling in your head—and into the peaceful place inside you. Eff This! Meditation will help you let that crap go…with 108 hands-on practices rooted in humor, love, straight talk, and a deep respect for the foundational teachings of Buddhism. If you’re ready to throw your hands in the air and yell “Eff This!” you are not alone—and this book can help.

You already know that you should meditate, and that meditation will make you happier and healthier. But you’re tired and irritated, and every time you try to meditate, your mind races and you can't stop thinking about that jerk at work. If this describes you, then this might be just what you need. This is not a joke, this is real meditation—and really effective practices—for everyday life. This book is a reference for you to come back to again and again. Integrate these tips into your daily life, or pull it off the shelf when you need a boost.

Learn to celebrate the small victories in life with a “to done” list. Release yourself from phone addiction with a digital detox plan. Get your body out of stress mode by practicing diaphragmatic breathing. Be transported, and open your heart with a pick-me-up playlist. These are just a few of the simple, practical strategies that will help you find your center.

Eff This! Meditation is a Shamatha (mindfulness-awareness) practice rooted in radical compassion for self, and presented in 108 tips, tricks, and ideas. They are all centered on the idea that, as humans, we might not be “finished,” but we are complete. Everything you need to attain enlightenment is already contained within you, and you can use meditation—and these practices—to connect with it.

The book offers 108 exercises, organized by the amount of time you have to help you respond to your current effing context.

There are a number of ways you can dive into the book:
Read it all the way through
Flip through and mark what seems interesting
Try all of the techniques, one by one
Grab the book in a panic and thumb through until something sticks out
Open the book to a random page and do that thing
However the eff you want; it’s your book now

Eff This! Meditation is a handy quick guide with centering and mental grounding practices. It’s not really a book on meditation as the title suggests, but rather an accessible book of quick tips that you can use to help calm yourself. The practices range from a minute to more than an hour, which I appreciated. It’s something you can flip through and mark your favorites for when you’re feeling overwhelmed and/or stressed. Author Liza Kindred has a very easygoing, nonjudgmental voice and her tips and tricks are not going to scare anyone off. The practices Ms. Kindred lists aren’t new or innovative and I will say that I’ve seen many of them on Pinterest before. Still, taking Eff This! Meditation for what it is, it’s a good resource written in an accessible way that will appeal to anyone looking to have a few quick tips to help when they’re stressed or anxious.


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, October 14, 2019

Review: Holiday by Candlelight by Laurel Greer

Holiday by Candlelight by Laurel Greer
Series: Sutter Creek, Montana, Book 3
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781335574237
Paperback Release Date: October 15, 2019
Ebook Release Date: November 1, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Harlequin

A tragic accident ended the life he once knew

Is a Hanukkah miracle right around the corner?

This year, Dr. Caleb Matsuda could do without holiday cheer. After an avalanche robbed him of his ability to practice surgery, he struggles to make it through each day. He may be intrigued by new colleague Garnet James, but she’s also a search-and-rescue volunteer who could be in danger at any moment. If only she wasn’t perfect for the man he used to be…

You can’t judge a book by its cover, and that’s definitely the case for Holiday by Candlelight. While the couple embracing and lighting the menorah on the cover (not to mention the book blurb) might indicate a warm Hanukkah romance in the vein of the thousands of Christmas romances out there, it honestly has nothing to do with the holiday. Caleb, the Jewish hero of the story, is either an observant Jew or a bacon-loving nonobservant Jew. Either one or somewhere in between would be all well and good by me – how someone does or doesn’t practice their faith or incorporate their religion’s culture into their lives varies from person to person – but I wish it had been consistent for the length of the story. It felt like author Laurel Greer Googled some key words related to Judaism (and Hanukkah in particular) and then inserted them randomly in a few spots without any follow through. And presto! Diversity!

Not so much.

False advertising and the half-baked way Ms. Greer treats Judaism aside, Holiday by Candlelight had its ups and downs. Caleb was a top surgeon whose career came to a screeching halt when he was trapped in an avalanche and his hand was crushed. Caleb can’t perform surgery anymore and on top of that he has severe PTSD. Moving to Sutter Creek, Montana was supposed to help him move forward. But falling for Garnet James, a woman as adventurous and risk-loving as Caleb used to be, triggers him. Garnet has lost herself trying to fit in with others before and she’s determined not to compromise what she wants ever again. So her falling for the risk-adverse Caleb is an equally terrible idea. Of course, mutual attraction has other plans for them…

Caleb is an interesting and well-drawn hero. The avalanche, how it shaped him, and how he works through his fears and PTSD are compelling and make it easy to root for him. He was truly the big draw in this book and kept me turning the pages. Garnet…is not as appealing. She has potential, and I understood why she didn’t want to lose herself in a relationship, but for much of the book she comes across as selfish. A relationship isn’t balanced when only one person is compromising and given how Caleb struggles to work through his fears for her as well as himself, it was frustrating that Garnet spent so much of the book refusing to look beyond her own wants. Eventually she becomes a character I could enjoy more, but it takes most of the book. The romance between them was lacking in chemistry, which was a huge letdown. I really wished I could feel the pull between them, but everything about their supposed attraction felt flat. I was much more interested in the dynamics between side characters, past and possibly future Sutter Creek, Montana heroes and heroines.

Holiday by Candlelight isn’t a bad book, per se. There is simply a lot of potential to the characters and the story that goes unfulfilled. The story did finish strong, which was nice and left me with enough of a warm and fuzzy feeling to bump up the rating. Perhaps if it had had more of that energy throughout it would have been a more exciting tale. If you’re looking for a good interracial, interfaith, or Hanukkah-specific romance, this isn’t the book for you. But if you simply want a wintertime romance with skiing, Search and Rescue, an interesting hero, and guaranteed happily ever after, Holiday by Candlelight checks those boxes.


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, September 30, 2019

Review: Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh

Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter, Book 12
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780451491664
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Nalini Singh Reading Order

Wings of silver. Wings of blue. Mortal heart. Broken dreams. Shatter. Shatter. Shatter. A sundering. A grave. I see the end. I see…

The world is in chaos as the power surge of the Cascade rises to a devastating crescendo. In furiously resisting its attempts to turn Elena into a vessel for Raphael’s power, Elena and her archangel are irrevocably changed…far beyond the prophecy of a cursed Ancient.

At the same time, violent and eerie events around the world threaten to wipe out entire populations. And in the Archangel Lijuan’s former territory, an unnatural fog weaves through the land, leaving only a bone-chilling silence in its wake. Soon it becomes clear that even the archangels are not immune to this deadly evil. This time, even the combined power of the Cadre may not be enough…

The Cascade has reached its peak and the final battle is here in Archangel’s War. At the heart of it all is the Archangel Raphael and his angel-made consort, Elena Deveraux. Everything in the previous eleven Guild Hunter novels has led to this: a battle for the world’s survival waged against a seemingly invincible enemy – Lijuan, the Archangel of Death.

If you’ve read Archangel’s Prophecy (and you absolutely should before starting this book), then you know that the events in that story changed Raphael and Elena. How, I cannot say without spoiling the book. Unfortunately, there’s a lot in this book I cannot write about without spoiling it. I will say that I enjoyed watching the build up to battle, seeing Elena and Raphael discover what the Cascade has done to them now and how they might use it against Lijuan. And make no mistake, Lijuan is coming. Her power is dark and cruel, fascinating to read about in its horror. The Cadre alone may not be enough to stop her, even with all their Cascade-born talents.

Archangel’s War brings all the major players in and I enjoyed their interactions. Nalini Singh has created a vast and varied cast of characters and all of their personalities are unique and well-defined. It brings depth to this world and is a consistency that’s much needed when the Cascade plays havoc with the rules of power and change. Everyone has a role to play and fans of the series will undoubtedly be delighted that most of the past heroes and heroines get some page time in this story.

About a third of Archangel’s War is devoted to battle scenes and how much you enjoy this will depend on personal taste. I don’t personally love long, drawn-out battles – even though the action keeps moving – but for Ms. Singh to do any less would be a disservice to the characters and the threat she has been building over the course of the series. At times I felt like things got repetitive, but again, I could understand the logic of it. I did feel like a few things were rushed at the end regarding supporting characters new and old (again, spoilers so I apologize for the vagueness), but I hope to see these plot points played out in future books. And while the stakes have never been higher, I never really felt the tension. Never felt that the characters I loved most were in danger, a direct contrast to how I felt reading Archangel’s Prophecy. This is a pity, but I definitely don’t want to indicate that I didn’t like the war sections of this book. Even though they’re not my personal favorite and I had some niggling issues, Ms. Singh’s writing never fails to suck me in.

Archangel’s War is a satisfying ending to a complex storyline that has spanned twelve books. I always enjoy time spent with Elena, Raphael, and their loved ones, and this time was no exception. Now, with the war over, I cannot wait to see where Ms. Singh takes the Guild Hunter series 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.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Review: Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh

Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter, Book 11
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780451491640
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Nalini Singh Reading Order

Midnight and dawn, Elena’s wings are unique among angelkind—and now they are failing. The first mortal to be turned into an immortal in angelic memory, she’s regressing. Becoming more and more human. Easier to hurt. Easier to kill.

Elena and Raphael must unearth the reason for the regression before Elena falls out of the sky. Yet even as they fight a furious battle for Elena’s very survival, violent forces are gathering across the world. In China, the Archangel Favashi is showing the first signs of madness. In New York, a mysterious sinkhole filled with lava swallows a man whole. In Africa, torrential monsoon rains flood rolling deserts. And in Elena’s mind whispers a haunting voice that isn’t her own.

This time, survival may not be possible…not even for the consort of an archangel.

Archangel’s Prophecy is a ticking time bomb, and I mean that in the very best way. It’s a tense, exciting thrill ride and author Nalini Singh doesn’t hold back as the Cascade picks up steam and threatens the very heart of the Guild Hunter series: Elena Deveraux.

Elena – strong, powerful, Hunter-born mortal turned angel – and her indescribably powerful mate, the archangel Raphael, are facing something more frightening than they ever could have imagined. Elena’s wings are failing, her immortality regressing, and nothing can stop it. The haunting voice of an archangel lost to sleep prophesizes Elena’s doom. Elena isn’t one to go quietly, which is one of the many reasons I adore her, and Raphael definitely won’t let the woman he loves more than life itself fall without a fight. Their love is as strong as ever, even as their nerves are stretched to the breaking point. I desperately wanted to know what was happening to Elena. I hated having to put down Archangel’s Prophecy because I loved and hated watching her struggle. It’s rare that authors can keep me guessing, but Ms. Singh manages it.

Even with her wings failing and mysterious things happening to her body, Elena doesn’t have time to take a breath. After her brother-in-law is nearly decapitated, it’s clear that her sister and niece are in danger. Elena can’t – won’t – lose another member of her family and she’ll fight for their safety to her last breath. I found this case to be both interesting and tragic, but I admit the most exciting part of the story was watching Elena fight through the changes in her to unravel the mystery.

Archangel’s Prophecy is the eleventh book in the Guild Hunter series and you should definitely be familiar with the world before jumping in. This is not a book to be missed, but fair warning: it ends on one hell of a cliffhanger. I’m thankful I can dive right into Archangel’s War because with everything that happened at the climax of the book (too many spoilers to talk about) I would have gone mad waiting to find out what happens next. Ms. Singh knows how to up the stakes and I’m on the edge of my seat as I prepare to dive into Archangel’s War.


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, September 23, 2019

Review: Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory
Series: The Wedding Date, Book 4
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781984802217
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Vivian Forest has been out of the country a grand total of one time, so when she gets the chance to tag along on her daughter Maddie’s work trip to England to style a royal family member, she can’t refuse. She’s excited to spend the holidays taking in the magnificent British sights, but what she doesn’t expect is to become instantly attracted to a certain private secretary, his charming accent, and unyielding formality.

Malcolm Hudson has worked for the Queen for years and has never given a personal, private tour—until now. He is intrigued by Vivian the moment he meets her and finds himself making excuses just to spend time with her. When flirtatious banter turns into a kiss under the mistletoe, things snowball into a full-on fling.

Despite a ticking timer on their holiday romance, they are completely fine with ending their short, steamy affair come New Year’s Day…or are they?

Royal Holiday is a Hallmark Christmas movie waiting to happen. It’s a picturesque bit of fantasy that’s blessedly low on drama and high on sweetness.

Vivian Forest is a social worker with a clear love of her job and the people she helps, which won me over immediately. Vivian rarely does things for herself, so when her daughter, Maddie, talks her into taking a vacation to England where Maddie has been asked to dress a member of the royal family, Vivian packs her bags and is along for the ride. I loved seeing someone as hardworking, kind, and generous as Vivian get to sit back and enjoy herself. But life as the guest of royalty isn’t all tiaras and scones. There’s also the Queen’s sexy private secretary, Malcolm Hudson. Malcolm is the picture perfect version of a holiday fling. He’s handsome, sweet, and I seriously envied the private tours he took Vivian on.

Malcolm and Vivian are both in their fifties, know their own minds, and generally avoid manufactured drama, which I liked. Vivian’s time in England is the stuff of dreams, from picturesque walks on royal grounds to a private visit to the V&A and more. I adored being whisked away from reality by author Jasmine Guillory and was happy to suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride. Malcolm and Vivian’s love story glides with relative ease, keeping with the overall lighthearted tone of the book. I think it had potential to be more than a fluffy read had Ms. Guillory delved more deeply into both characters. It’s a pity, because Vivian and Malcolm both hinted at rich and interesting histories, so I would have loved to see them better fleshed out. And as much as I like a sweet read, I will say that Royal Holiday edged into saccharine territory more than once. Someone laughing or giggling on almost every page (most of the time for reasons I couldn’t understand) for the first three-quarters of the book was distracting and made me wish for tighter editing. But even with these issues, I think Royal Holiday is the kind of warm and cozy book you’d want to escape with on a cold winter’s night.


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, September 22, 2019

Review: Wrapped Up in You by Jill Shalvis

Wrapped Up in You by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay, Book 8
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780062897787
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

It’s love. Trust me.

After a lifetime on the move, Ivy Snow is an expert in all things temporary—schools, friends, and way too many Mr. Wrongs. Now that she owns a successful taco truck in San Francisco and an apartment to call home, Ivy’s reinvented life is on solid ground. And she’s guarded against anything that can rock it. Like the realities of a past she’s worked hard to cover up. And especially Kel O’Donnell. Too hot not to set off alarms, he screams temporary. If only his whispers weren’t so delightfully naughty and irresistible.

Kel, an Idaho sheriff and ranch owner, is on vacay, but Ivy’s a spicy reason to give his short-term plans a second thought. Best of all, she’s a tonic for his untrusting heart, burned once and still in repair. But when Ivy’s past intrudes on a perfect romance, Kel fears that everything she’s told him has been a perfect lie. Now, if only Ivy’s willing to share, Kel will fight for a true love story.

Wrapped Up in You has everything I’ve come to expect from Jill Shalvis’s books: endearing characters, funny banter, friendship, family both blood and made, and a romance that will make you smile and sigh. Kel and Ivy’s story was a joy to read from beginning to end.

After years of hard knocks, Ivy Snow is determined to reap the success of her hard work by putting down roots in the Bay Area. Her Cow Hollow taco truck is incredibly popular and she’s finally in the black and almost ready to put a down payment on a brand new condo. I loved Ivy’s spirit, her determined attitude, her capacity for love, and the vulnerabilities she tries to hide from others. She keeps pain and secrets close to her chest, preferring to focus on the here and now and not let others know the hard times she’s been through, thanks primarily to her brother. If there’s one thing Kel O’Donnell hates, it’s lies. The Idaho sheriff/cowboy has been hurt badly, physically and emotionally, and he doesn’t like secrets. But even though he can tell Ivy is hiding something, he can’t help but want her. She’s sassy and strong and oh-so-tempting. Getting her to trust him, to learn it’s okay to lean on someone, is hard work but it’s worth it. The two of them light up the page and their banter made me smile over and over again.

Kel’s time in San Francisco is supposed to be temporary, but that isn’t the biggest obstacle to his and Ivy’s happily ever after. Trust is hard earned and easily broken for both of them and neither likes being vulnerable. But they prove that love is worth the risk and it was easy to root for them every step of the way. Of course, they do need the help and support of their friends and family. A host of past (and hopefully future) Heartbreaker Bay heroes and heroines make an appearance in Wrapped Up in You, bringing the love and laughter I so enjoy in Ms. Shalvis’s books. If you’re a fan of this series, you’ll enjoy visiting beloved characters. If you’re new, strap yourself in and prepare for an irreverent, heartwarming story with a romance that’s both sweet and spicy. It’s the perfect holiday read to enjoy all year long.


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: Arctic Heat by Annabeth Albert

Arctic Heat by Annabeth Albert
Series: Frozen Hearts, Book 3
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Male/Male Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781335008091
Release Date: September 23, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

A lasting connection needs more than simply surviving a winter together—they’ll have to outsmart danger, let down their defenses and open their hearts.

Owen Han has a fresh lease on life—he’s kicked cancer’s ass and is roaring through his bucket list. The former investment banker hopes to find his next challenge in Alaska, volunteering alongside park rangers and fulfilling his childhood dreams of snowy winters and rustic life. Of course, those dreams did tend to feature big strapping mountain men in vivid detail…

Ranger Quilleran Ramsey would like to be anywhere other than dealing with newbie volunteers. And really, the only thing he needs less than a green volunteer “partner” is the flirty attentions of a buff city boy who doesn’t look ready to last a week, let alone an Alaskan winter. They’re all wrong for each other, even if Quill’s traitorous body enjoys the flirting more than it should.

As the weeks pass, the two snowbound men give in to temptation. But can their seasonal romance last until spring? For them to have a future together, each will have to trust the other…while hoping that the harsh elements and omnipresent dangers don’t destroy what happiness they’ve found in the moment.

Owen Han has a new lease on life after surviving cancer. He’s making his way through his bucket list, determined to live his life for himself while he discovers what he really wants. His latest stop is volunteering alongside park rangers for the winter in Alaska. The gorgeous vistas are nothing to sneeze at, but the real beauty is his partner: stoic Ranger Quill Ramsey. Owen would never want to be in a relationship with someone buried as deeply in the closet as Quill, but sharing a little body heat never hurt anyone, right?

Annabeth Albert proves that the warmest of personalities can win over even the most guarded of hearts in Arctic Heat. Ms. Albert’s third entry in the Frozen Hearts series is a slow burn romance that will melt your heart by the end.

Owen has a sunny personality and a determination to win people over that made me smile. He’s the opposite of Quill, a quiet, authoritative ranger who struggles with his attraction to Owen. Quill has had a host of negative life experiences that have impacted him and it’s easy to understand why he struggles to keep his relationship with Owen professional even while the sizzling attraction keeps drawing them together. I liked Quill a lot; his shyness, loneliness, and vulnerability called out to me and I was looking forward to seeing him find joy, companionship, and love with Owen. I liked that Owen was bold and sexy and brought Quill out of his shell, though at times Owen seemed to lack patience and empathy. It’s understandable in a way because his life prior to their meeting was vastly different from Quill’s. Neither man is perfect, but their flaws make them interesting. Their romance is slow burn, which is both good and bad. On the one hand it felt like they really got to know one another, on the other the book did move at a glacial pace for the first half of the story.

The life of an Alaskan park ranger is as important to the story as the romance and the research Ms. Albert did really shows. Quill and Owen’s duties, the beauty they see, and the dangers they face are fascinating. All in all, I enjoyed Arctic Heat. I struggled with the slow pace in the beginning, but Owen and Quill’s happily ever after at the end felt earned.


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: Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney

Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781496720283
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Sabrina Jeffries Reading Order

This winter, steal away with the reigning queens of Regency Romance…to a surprise snowstorm, the comfort of a blazing fire, and the heat of a lover’s kisses…

A CHRISTMAS ABDUCTION by Madeline Hunter

Caroline Dunham has a bone to pick with notorious rake Baron Thornhill—and a creative plan to insure his undivided attention. Yet once in close quarters, she finds herself beholden to their smoldering connection…

A PERFECT MATCH by Sabrina Jeffries
Whisked away from a wintry ball by the officer she knew only through letters, Cassandra Isles struggles with her feelings for the commanding Colonel Lord Heywood. For he, secretly a fortune-hunter, must marry for money to save his estate—and Cass, secretly an heiress, will accept nothing less than love…

ONE WICKED WINTER NIGHT by Mary Jo Putney
Dressed as a veiled princess, Lady Diana Lawrence is shocked to discover that the mysterious corsair who tempts her away from the costume ball is the duke she once loved and lost. Now snowed in with Castleton at a remote lodge, will she surrender to the passion still burning hotly between them?

“A Christmas Abduction” by Madeline Hunter
Caroline Dunham’s family once owned a famous racehorse-breeding farm, but their luck has been spiraling downward for years. It’s the last straw when she learns that Adam Prescott, Baron Thornhill, has done something unforgivable to a member of her family. What’s a woman to do when she has no options? Abduct the lord in question, of course. Except this supposed villain is nothing like she expected…

“A Christmas Abduction” started out a lot of fun, mostly due to the chemistry between Caroline and Adam. Caroline has had enough and is determined Adam will do right by her family and Adam is anything but your typical hostage. I liked watching Adam start to care for Caroline and her friends, enjoyed seeing him work hard alongside Caroline. As for Caroline, I respected how hard she worked and her loyalty to others, her strength in holding her family afloat. That being said, the romance left me wanting a bit. Given what Caroline believed of Adam, her attraction to him and the way she gave into it made the love story feel a bit stilted and rushed. Added to that, the ending was tied up so neatly that it was not entirely believable. Still, “A Christmas Abduction” is an enjoyable story and Madeline Hunter’s writing keeps things moving along at a quick clip.


“A Perfect Match” (Duke Dynasty, Book 1.5) by Sabrina Jeffries
Colonel Lord Heywood Wolfe has come to a ball to warn his best friend’s sister, Kitty, that one of her suitors is a villainous fortune hunter with a dark past. One thing leads to another and Heywood ends up abducting Kitty and her cousin, Cass, and taking them to his family home for the holidays in order to protect them. Kitty is an heiress and Heywood needs funds to restore the estate he inherited, so she should be the one he’s courting. Except he can’t take his mind off of Cass, the intelligent beauty who is his perfect match in every way…

“A Perfect Match” was my favorite novella of this anthology and the reason I picked it up in the first place. Sabrina Jeffries brings Christmas cheer and charm with her story of a soldier in need of a fortune and a secret heiress who will only marry for love.

Heywood and Cass sparkle, their chemistry wonderful and their back-and-forths made me smile. Cass has sworn her family to secrecy about her being an heiress and she’s been burned in the past by fortune hunters. So even though she’s quickly falling for Heywood she doesn’t want to reveal she has money and risk not finding a man who wants her for herself. I adored Cass and Heywood and was rooting for their happily ever after. The only thing that detracted from the story was a turn in attitude from Heywood at the end, one that was out of character and seemed forced in to add drama. It’s a pity, because otherwise “A Perfect Match” is a fun, aptly-titled story with two protagonists I adored and a cast of supporting characters who made me smile.


“One Wicked Winter Night” (Rogues Redeemed, Book 3.5) by Mary Jo Putney
After exploring the world for years, Lady Diana Lawrence has decided to return home to England. The only thing she’s wary of is running into the man who was the reason she so quickly took to exploring all those years ago. On the night of her cousin’s masquerade ball she meets a dashing corsair who tempts her in a way she hasn’t been tempted in a long time. Of course, it’s none other than Anthony Raines, Duke of Castleton, the man she loved and lost. It’s clear the attraction between them has never died, but is that enough for them to take a risk at opening their hearts for a second chance at love?

I love a good second chance romance so I was eager to dive into this story of a duke who wants to marry for love and the intrepid explorer he never got over. I liked that Diana was older than Anthony, that she was worldly and well-traveled, had an adventurous spirit, and knew her own mind. I also really liked that Anthony accepted and loved Diana for who she was, unreservedly and without any alpha male posturing. The two of them had a lot of promise and their sense of humor charmed me. However, partway through “One Wicked Winter Night” the story took a turn and I was flabbergasted by both Anthony and Diana’s stunning lack of maturity. I won’t spoil the story, but Anthony’s way of securing Diana’s attention was childish and her response to it was reckless and irresponsible. It left a sour taste in my mouth and the two of them didn’t have enough chemistry to overcome it. And because it was so distracting, I must point out that Mary Jo Putney’s overuse of exclamation points did not help her characters seem more mature (truly, the sheer quantity was alarming!). Still, fans of the Rogues Redeemed series (which I have not read) might enjoy this story more than I did. Previous heroes and heroines play strong supporting roles and that will undoubtedly mean more to people invested in the characters.


Seduction on a Snowy Night has its ups and downs with a bit of unevenness in tone in each of the stories. Being snowed in plays a part in each story and close quarters helped with the accelerated falling in love timelines the novella length necessitates. If you’re a fan of any of these authors it’s worth picking up this anthology. I particularly enjoyed Sabrina Jeffries’s “A Perfect Match,” but there’s something for every historical romance lover in Seduction on a Snowy Night.


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.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Review: No Judgments by Meg Cabot

No Judgments by Meg Cabot
Series: Little Bridge Island, Book 1
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780062890047
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

The storm of the century is about to hit Little Bridge Island, Florida—and it’s sending waves crashing through Sabrina “Bree” Beckham’s love life…

When a massive hurricane severs all power and cell service to Little Bridge Island—as well as its connection to the mainland—twenty-five-year-old Bree Beckham isn’t worried . . . at first. She’s already escaped one storm—her emotionally abusive ex—so a hurricane seems like it will be a piece of cake.

But animal-loving Bree does become alarmed when she realizes how many islanders have been cut off from their beloved pets. Now it’s up to her to save as many of Little Bridge’s cats and dogs as she can . . . but to do so, she’s going to need help—help she has no choice but to accept from her boss’s sexy nephew, Drew Hartwell, the Mermaid Café’s most notorious heartbreaker.

But when Bree starts falling for Drew, just as Little Bridge’s power is restored and her penitent ex shows up, she has to ask herself if her island fling was only a result of the stormy weather, or if it could last during clear skies too.

Real world issues meet fluffy romantic comedy in No Judgments. I wanted to like Meg Cabot’s first full-length Little Bridge Island book. And perhaps you can make a rom com set against the backdrop of a potentially devastating hurricane work, but it doesn’t in this story. In another setting, the quirky inhabitants of Little Bridge Island would be fun to read about and I did like most of them. Plus, any animal lover would be won over by the cuteness of the pets that threaten to steal the show (toothless Gary for the win).

Bree Beckham is the star of No Judgments and unfortunately she’s also its biggest weakness. She’s moved to Little Bridge Island for a fresh start and is determined to do everything on her own. This would be great, except Bree is, well, TSTL. She lacks basic common sense, makes poor decisions, is stubborn over the most ridiculous things, and honestly would not have survived this story if not for the rest of the cast. What Bree does have going for her is a big heart and a love of animals. Her take-charge attitude when it comes to seeing to abandoned pets’ needs warmed my heart. But it’s overshadowed by her often immature attitude and stunning lack of common sense. Her love interest is Drew Hartwell, her boss’s nephew and rumored town playboy. Drew is good looking and patient, but is kind of a cardboard hero. The thing that stands out the most about him is his love of dogs and his hilarious choice of dog names. Drew and Bree’s love story was pretty standard and enjoyable, but I can’t say it pulled me in.

There’s a lot going on in No Judgments and none of it is developed well. Sexual assault, family secrets, and mother issues are all thrown in and the way each of these storylines played out was unsatisfying. The first is the most frustrating of all because it’s a very real, relatable issue that is not handled well at all. And though it’s a minor moment overall, I really struggled with Bree’s characterization of an intellectually disabled young man as “slow.” It’s 2019 and we can expect authors to do better. There are also too many convenient coincidences in this book that make suspending disbelief an almost Herculean task. And as I mentioned before, the looming presence of a possible Category 5 hurricane doesn’t go with the fluffy tone of the book. The casual attitude and the way the characters ride through the storm are so wildly different from my experience, friends’ experiences, and what I’ve seen on the news, but I will admit I’m no expert so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

The animals are the best part of No Judgments and I can’t count the number of times they made me smile. The residents of Little Bridge Island were also so warm and welcoming (even Bree’s sometimes grumpy boss, Ed) that the town won me over and in a less dramatic setting they would have been a delight. Ms. Cabot’s writing did keep the story moving along at a quick clip and the secondary characters (human and animal) were charming enough to bump it up a star. But if you’re looking for a heroine you can root for, well-developed characters and plotlines, and a consistent tone throughout the story, you should probably look elsewhere.


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: Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd

Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd
Series: Cape Charade, Book 3
Publisher: HQN
Genre: Romantic Suspense
ISBN: 9781335016614
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Source: Publisher
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Christina Dodd Reading Order

I have three deadly problems:
1. I've seriously offended a maniacal killer.
2. I just had a bullet removed from my brain.
3. My new daughter is growing up too fast--and she's in the line of fire.


Living on an obscure, technology-free island off California means safety from the murderer who hunts Kellen Adams and her new family… Or does it? Family time becomes terror-time, and at last, alone, Kellen faces a killer playing a cruel game. Only one can survive, and Kellen knows who must win…and who must die.

The Cape Charade series comes to a thrilling conclusion in Strangers She Knows. Christina Dodd knows how to up the tension and I was seriously questioning how Kellen Adams, survivor and soldier she may be, would survive and protect her husband and daughter from the vicious and clever Mara Phillipi.

It has been three years since Kellen had a bullet removed from her brain and she’s still recovering and working on restoring a full range of motion to her hand. She’s not in peak condition when her husband, Max, suggests they head to a remote island off the California coast to hide out while the authorities hunt Mara. On top of that, her daughter Rae is in full pre-teen hormone swing, so a remote island with no technology isn’t always a peaceful place. Max is sure they’re safe on the island, but Kellen knows Mara better than anyone else. The serial killer will never stop hunting her and Kellen needs to be prepared.

The isolated locale and a very small number of unusual characters brings a tight, tense atmosphere to Strangers She Knows. I can’t say much about the book without spoiling it because the entertainment is watching the ongoing game of cat-and-mouse between Mara and Kellen unfold. I loved that Ms. Dodd didn’t make it easy, kept me guessing how things would work out, and didn’t make Kellen superhuman. She’s a strong yet vulnerable heroine with a big heart and powerful reasons to defeat the psychopath hunting her family. I devoured this book in a day because I had to know how it would end.

Strangers She Knows finishes the Cape Charade series perfectly. I highly recommend reading Dead Girl Running and What Doesn’t Kill Her before this book to get the history of the characters and the relationships. But even if you want to jump right in with this book, you’re sure to enjoy this tight, tense thriller.


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, September 1, 2019

Review: The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier

The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier
Series: Warrior Bards, Book 1
Publisher: Ace
Genre: Fantasy
ISBN: 9780451492784
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Eighteen-year-old Liobhan is a powerful singer and an expert whistle player. Her brother has a voice to melt the hardest heart, and is a rare talent on the harp. But Liobhan's burning ambition is to join the elite warrior band on Swan Island. She and her brother train there to compete for places, and find themselves joining a mission while still candidates. Their unusual blend of skills makes them ideal for this particular job, which requires going undercover as traveling minstrels. For Swan Island trains both warriors and spies.

Their mission: to find and retrieve a precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship, which has gone missing. If the instrument is not played at the upcoming coronation, the candidate will not be accepted and the kingdom will be thrown into disarray. Faced with plotting courtiers and tight-lipped druids, an insightful storyteller, and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realizes an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the kingdom. When ambition clashes with conscience, Liobhan must make a bold decision—and the consequences may break her heart.

Enter a world of warriors and bards, of mortal kings and uncanny creatures in The Harp of Kings. Juliet Marillier’s writing has a lyricism to it that never fails to draw me in and I found myself spellbound by this story.

Since childhood Liobhan has wanted to become one of the elite Swan Island warriors. Now she and her brother Brocc have that opportunity. As trainees, they wouldn’t normally be sent out on missions, but their skills as bards make them the perfect spies when the mystical Harp of Kings is stolen. Alongside two senior warriors and a fellow trainee, Dau, Liobhan and Brocc make their way to the kingdom of Breifne. There they must suss out secrets from courtiers and druids, fend off royal bullies, and uncover the machinations of Otherworld beings, all while learning to become a team and strengthen their weak spots.

Liobhan is a heroine who is easy to like. She’s vibrant, skilled, loyal, kindhearted, and hardworking. She’s also young, vocal, and sometimes reckless when she follows her heart, but I liked that she wasn’t perfect and I could see how she will continue to grow over the course of the series. Brocc too is an endearing character. He’s quieter than his sister, more aware of his fears, but his talent as a bard is unparalleled. Brocc is unknowingly on a journey to come into his own and his path is one I’m still thinking on days after finishing this book (for reasons I won’t spoil). As for the third main character, Dau isn’t immediately loveable. He comes off as arrogant and is determined to win a spot on Swan Island at all costs. I knew there had to be more to him, and Ms. Marillier did not disappoint. I loved peeling back the layers of Dau’s character. He’s the most complex and wounded of the three and there were times his story brought tears to my eyes. Though each of the three main characters has a satisfying story arc in The Harp of Kings, I look forward to seeing how they mature and progress and how their relationships change in the next book.

The Harp of Kings is the first book in the Warrior Bards series and can easily be read as a standalone, but if you like Ms. Marillier’s Blackthorn & Grim trilogy you’ll be delighted to find out this series is set in the same world. I’m a huge Blackthorn & Grim fan, so I must confess that as soon as I read the character list in the beginning of the book and discovered that Liobhan and Brocc were Blackthorn and Grim’s children I was automatically invested in their fates. I loved the nods to the prior trilogy and even though I enjoyed The Harp of Kings on its own merits I still desperately hope we travel to Winterfalls in future Warrior Bards books.

The Harp of Kings has intrigue, fights, magical quests, and otherworldly action aplenty. The pages of the book practically flew by and I hated it whenever I had to put it down. I finished this story a well-satisfied reader, but there is a bittersweet quality to it that makes me hope the wait for the next book won’t be too long.


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.