Friday, February 17, 2017

Today's Special - - Sheila Roberts' Recipe Contest





DISHING UP SOME YUMMY FOOD
Enter Sheila Roberts’ 
STARTING OVER ON BLACKBERRY LANE 
Recipe Contest

              With the blog name, “The Romance Dish,” Sheila Roberts figures there must be some mighty fine cooks among all you Dishers out there. And mighty fine cooks have scrumptious recipes. Sheila invites you to share one of those (or two or three or four) in her fun Sheila Roberts STARTING OVER ON BLACKBERRY LANE Recipe Contest. The grand prize winner’s reward: a complete set of Rachael Ray pots and pans worth about $150 (and a signed copy of her new book!).



              Sheila thought up this fun contest to promote that book, her light-hearted February 28 Icicle Falls novel, which is filled with fabulous foods, a chef, a baker, a cook-off, a food photographer and a resident Icicle who’s publishing a cookbook of her late mom’s yummy recipes. Being a foodie herself, Sheila just can’t resist writing about food. Or sampling it. And she’s eager to sample your recipes.

              To enter, simply go to bit.ly/2lxE3HI and share your recipe. Be sure to say The Romance Dish sent you so the site can also win something—a complete signed set of Sheila’s Icicle Falls series. If we win the set, we’ll think up something creative to do with it here on The Romance Dish. The deadline to enter is 11:59 p.m. Friday, March 10.

              Something fun about Sheila’s recipe contest: after her panel of judges picks five finalist recipes, you readers will vote to select the grand prizewinner! BTW, there are two recipe categories, main dish and desserts, and recipes must be original. That is, not previously published in a cookbook or otherwise copyrighted. You know, the kind your momma taught you, or you combined this with that and came up with a dish your family and friends beg you to make.


STARTING OVER ON BLACKBERRY LANE

Three friends, all in desperate need of a guy who knows his way around a toolbox, decide to pool their resources so they can be the highest bidders for a repair package donated by new handyman-about-town Grant Masters at Icicle Falls’ Raise the Roof bake-off fundraiser. Not only is Grant one heck of a good guy with a hammer, he is also oh-so-easy on the eyes. Well, the three friends win that auction, and being the gentleman that he is, the Honey Do man decides, what the heck? He’ll help out all three ladies with their home repair projects. Which creates some fun moments and sends hearts a-pounding. To find out where Grant eventually parks his toolbox, of course, you’ve got to read the book, which is available right now for pre-order. 





           
You can reach Sheila on www.sheilasplace.com and on Facebook.

   Have you discovered Sheila Roberts' humorous and heartwarming Icicle Falls books yet?         

Do you have a recipe to enter into the contest? 

Wouldn't you love that gorgeous set of pans? I would! I love that color!    

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Review - - The Scoundrel's Honor


The Scoundrel's Honor
By Christi Caldwell
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: February 14, 2017






The Scoundrel’s Honor by Christi Caldwell was a solid five out of five stars for me. It tells the story or Penelope Tidemore and Ryker Black. On the surface, you would never imagine these two people crossing paths but cross they do and unconventional doesn’t even begin to describe their romance.


Penelope is the last great hope of her family for a scandal free season, courtship and marriage. That’s not to say the Tidemores are an evil lot or that they throw themselves into the midst of the Ton with any intent of finding themselves in compromising after compromising situations no less than three times...it just seems to happen. Penelope or Penny is the sensible one. She has molded herself into a young lady who knows how to comport herself in any ball, musicale or picnic the Ton holds. She’d show them.


Ryker Black would rather be caught dead then deal with any of that. He’s too busy for that anyway. The bastard son of a duke he has little time and no patience for simpering lords and ladies. His own father and faithless mother threw him into the streets of St. Giles where he survived by his wits and wiles. It was there that he honed his skills as a survivor and leader of his own mismatched family. A sister he rescued from that hell and a band of three others who were as brothers to him. The only time he tolerates lords are when they are gambling, drinking or whoring at his gambling den the Hell & Sin.


His first foray into polite society collides with Penelope’s when they both attend his sister, now the Duchess of Somerset’s ball. An innocent collision that sets in motion what becomes a great romance. Duty bound, they wed. Duty bound, she moves from the safe haven of her home and family to Ryker’s home and headquarters at The Hell and Sin. It is a huge adjustment for both. Penelope is headstrong and brokes no quarter. Ryker is equally stubborn but his is borne from a life hardened by experiences no man, let alone a child should have to endure. Those same forces follow him into adulthood and as much as he protects his own,which now includes Penelope, he must protect himself against everything and everyone.


I really loved this book. It is the second in Christi Caldwell’s Sinful Bride series. The story is compelling and endearing. The grand gesture at the end: pure romance happily ever after. Penelope and Ryker have quite a bit going against them as neither were prepared for the emotional impact their attraction would have on them. I would say they were not prepared for the viciousness of their enemies, be they harpies of the ton or cold blooded, soulless enemies of the club itself. What also makes this such a great read for me are the secondary characters in the book. Penelope’s sisters, brother and mother are stellar. Equally so are Ryker’s family, the brothers who banded together as children to survive the streets and his blood sister who he rescued from the streets and who found her happily ever after with a duke no less.

~Santa

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

On Second Thought - - When He Was Wicked




When He Was Wicked (with Second Epilogue)
By Julia Quinn
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: February 28, 2017
(originally published by Avon in 2004)





Michael Stirling is known as the Merry Rake by those who see only his light-hearted persona and the long list of women whom he has charmed without once falling in love. What observers do not understand is that Michael Stirling is a man consumed by guilt because the only time he fell in love was at his first sight of Francesca Bridgerton, thirty-six hours before she became the bride of his first cousin, John Stirling, Earl of Kilmartin. For two years, John and Francesca have been blissfully happy as man and wife, and Michael, who looks upon John as a brother, has remained hopelessly and guiltily in love with his cousin’s wife.

Francesca, more reserved than her Bridgerton siblings, had felt from her first meeting with John that he was her perfect complement. Two years of marriage have strengthened that feeling. Francesca is also excessively fond of Michael, whom she views as her closest friend next to John. She values his loyalty to John, and he makes her laugh. She would love to see him settled and happily married and has even entertained the idea of a match between him and her sister Eloise. She has no inkling of Michael’s real feelings for her.

Everything changes one evening when John, plagued by a headache, lies down to take a nap. He never awakens. Francesca is devastated. So is Michael, but his guilt is even heavier than when John was alive. He cannot be the friend Francesca needs, and he flees to India, leaving his cousin’s twenty-two-year-old widow to deal with her grief and manage the Kilmartin estate.

Four years bring changes to both Francesca and Michael. Although Francesca still grieves for John, she has adapted to widowhood. She enjoys the responsibilities of being the Countess of Kilmartin, and both her family and John’s provide love and companionship. But her nieces and nephews remind her of what she wants most—a child. So, she puts off her half-mourning and leaves Scotland early for London where she plans to find a husband. Michael is grateful for the balance and maturity his years in India have brought him, but he is weary of the life there and ready at last to assume the responsibilities of the earldom.

Despite the changes, Michael is still in love with Francesca, and she is still oblivious to his feelings. Francesca felt abandoned by Michael’s leaving when she needed him most, but she is eager to see him restored to the position of close friend and confidante. However, it soon becomes clear to her that her feelings for Michael have also changed. She no longer sees him as merely a friend; she is newly aware of him as a man. And if the idea of a sensible remarriage induces guilt over losing her identity as John’s wife, seeing her relationship with Michael as anything other than familial and platonic is terrifying.

As for Michael, the torment of being a friend to Francesca, wife of his cousin, is mild compared to the guilt and regret that nearly overwhelms him now and to the knowledge that he cannot act on his feelings but must stand by and watch her marry another man.

It shouldn’t have surprised him. And yet it did. Every time he thought he knew everything about her, had unwillingly memorized every last detail, something inside her flickered and changed, and he felt himself falling anew.

He would never escape her, this woman. He would never escape her, and he would never have her. Even with John gone, it was impossible, quite simply wrong. There was too much there. Too much had happened, and he would never be able to shake the feeling that he had somehow stolen her.

Or worse, that he had wished for this. That he had wanted John gone and out of the way, wanted the title and Francesca and everything else.


With the tension between them at such a fever pitch, it is inevitable that it shatter. And it does in a scene that has Francesca running away to Scotland. Michael, with the blessing of Colin Bridgerton, who offers him the excuse of his own very recent engagement as reason to pay a visit to the place both Michael and John considered home, follows her to Scotland. But Michael and Francesca must come to terms with their feelings about John separately before they can claim their own HEA.

When He Was Wicked is the sixth book in Julia Quinn’s beloved Bridgerton series. With John’s death at twenty-eight playing such a significant part, it is hardly surprising that it is the darkest of the eight-book series. More surprising, since the big kiss scene that changes the direction of the book occurs more than half way into the story, it is also one of the author’s most sensual books. When I first read it, even though I exceeded the two-hanky warning while reading it, I ranked it below the first four books in the series on my list of Quinn favorites. It seemed to me that it started a new piece of music rather than offering a new movement in the Bridgerton symphony. I liked it, but I didn’t love it.

Then, several years before The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After (2013), a compilation of all eight Bridgerton second epilogues plus the bonus story of Violet, the Bridgerton matriarch, was released, I read the second epilogue for When He Was Wicked. It became one of my favorite epilogues ever and one of my Julia Quinn favorites, and When He was Wicked  jumped to a place only slightly below The Duke and I and Romancing Mr. Bridgerton among my best loved and most reread Julia Quinn books. Even though I own print and digital copies of the novel and of the epilogue collection, I am excited about the new release that has the novel and the second epilogue together. Next time I need reminding that heartbreak can lead to an unexpected HEA and that even HEAs may include a few bumps along the way, I will have the full story together.

If you have never read Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, I highly recommend them, particularly for readers who delight in Regency romps that are more than mere froth. And if you think Julia Quinn has written only Regency romps, I suggest you read When He Was Wicked. I recommend it with great enthusiasm, with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye.

~Janga

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Review - - Breathless


Breathless
By Beverly Jenkins
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: January 31, 2017





First, a confession: I’m an ignorant twit. I avoided Beverly Jenkins’ historicals before because in my head I couldn’t imagine a HEA for a black couple prior to, oh, 1965. This is due to, I’m sure, partly to my education where we studied the Civil War and Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Act, but as anyone knows in today’s political climate, our education system leaves much to be desired on what is actually true. Yes, we did have a Civil War; and yes, we’re still a racist society. However as there is truth in that everyone has a hard time in life, it is also true we all experience happiness. There is always hope; there is always love; there is always change toward our better selves and a better society.


That said, I received an ARC of Breathless and was completely intrigued by the premise. The heroine, Portia Carmichael is a hotel manager in Arizona Territory, thriving in a world where she has stability and respect (which she did not have as a child), when a family friend, Kent Randolph comes back into her life. Kent Randolph is a drifter, but now has drifted back home and upon spying the beautiful Portia, who he always called Duchess, believes his drifting days are over, if only he can convince her to stake some roots with him. Portia’s dark childhood still haunts her and she does not want to marry and put her control at the whim of any man, not even a man as tempting and kind as Kent.


And Kent is tempting. He’s a tall drink of water, all things sexy and a little flirty, but also very gentlemanly and respectful, and a little dangerous. I was willing to run off with Kent far faster than Portia was willing to, but Kent is a patient guy. He doesn’t rush her and it’s clear he respects her and wants to forge a relationship that will last. Portia is a heroine to root for--she can’t cook but she can help roof a house, do bookkeeping, and patiently serve the most vile and obnoxious customer in a diplomatic way. She’s smart, passionate, and loving--and it’s easy to see why Kent is determined to win her. She is an equal partner in every way.


Portia’s Uncle Rhine owns the hotel where he partners with a local ranch for a “dude ranch excursion” for guests who come from the city and want to experience the West. The owner of the dude ranch passes away and Rhine purchases the ranch so he can continue the operation. Kent is assigned to run the ranch and he moves there to begin renovations that have been put off due to the previous owner’s age. Meanwhile, some guests from San Francisco come for the dude ranch experience, and Portia, who already has a couple young men in town who are vying for her attention, also has to deal with a matchmaking mama and her son.


There’s some excitement--which I don’t want to expound on because I don’t want to give too much away; however, I love how Ms. Jenkins’ handled the various characters and their interactions with each other. You will definitely be rooting for Portia when she puts these people in their place. There’s societal politics and snobbishness as well as racial and historical issues that were shared in an interesting and informative manner, which added to the depth of the characters who were navigating in a world set with those issue restrictions. 


I loved the sibling relationship. Regan is the younger sister, but also the wild one, and when Portia, who has avoided men altogether all this time, finally decides she would like a little one-on-one time with Kent, she first goes to her Aunt Eddy, who while conservative, answers her questions and sends her to talk to Regan, who had asked for the talk some years before. Regan is very informative and playful, but at the same time, being matter-of-fact and honest, there is also caution and how to protect yourself when you’re an unmarried woman who wants to have sex. (I never want to hear another excuse from a contemporary novel about the awkwardness of working in contraception into their scenes. Ms. Jenkins did it beautifully and totally didn’t have to.)


I love how Ms. Jenkins made the story sensual and sexy, her characters not at all prudish, but also made them behave as would be likely in the setting they were. It gives me hope for romance novels--especially modern historicals--that allow for love scenes to happen naturally to the characters and time period.

I can’t wait to read Regan’s story--she is going to be much less conventional than her sister. Now, I need to go and write this title on my list of 2017 Favorites. It’s going on the list!

~Hellie

Monday, February 13, 2017

Review - - Someone to Hold


Someone to Hold
By Mary Balogh
Publisher: Jove
Release Date: February 7, 2017
  


With the revelation of her father’s bigamous marriage to her mother, Camille Westover lost her identity as Lady Camille Westcott, her status in society as the eldest daughter of an earl, and her well-ordered world. She also lost her fiancé who had no intention of allying himself with the bastard daughter of a disgraced aristocrat; she even lost the comfort of her mother who left Camille and her younger sister Abigail with their maternal grandmother in Bath when she retreated to her brother’s country vicarage. Several months later, Camille has arrived at a hard-won acceptance of who she is not, but she has yet to determine who she is. In her search for answers to unanswerable questions, she is drawn to the orphanage where her half-sister, the Duchess of Netherby , née Lady Anastasia Westcott, spent most of her life as Anna Snow, first as one of the orphans and later as a teacher. What begins as a visit to the orphanage ends with Camille being granted a two-week trial as a teacher in the orphanage school, the very job Anna once filled.


Joel Cunningham’s life has also changed. He has left his days as a struggling artist behind him and is enjoying considerable success as a painter of portraits. A larger income has allowed him to move into a more commodious set of rooms and to be more selective about the commissions he accepts. However, he refuses to give up the two days a week that he volunteers to teach art at the orphanage school. He views his time with these students as a mission as much about fostering their imagination and power to dream as about art. Even in the absence of Anna Snow, his friend during the years they were growing up together in the orphanage and later the woman he loved, he remains committed to the orphans. He is not pleased to learn that Camille has taken the teaching position. Despite interactions with the children that suggest she is less rigid and humorless than he thought, Joel cannot excuse her arrogance or her unkindness to his dear Anna.

Although Camille and Joel clash at first, in part because each clings to misperceptions of the other, closer acquaintance reveals their errors and stirs an attraction that grows as they spend more time together. But baggage from their separate pasts must be dealt with before these two can claim their deserved HEA.

Someone to Hold is the second book in Mary Balogh’s Westcott series, and this beloved author proves once again that even after more than three decades and more than eighty novels, she remains a gifted teller of tales whose characters are engaging and memorable. I admit that I have a particular affection for redeemed heroines, and that doubtless is one reason I found this book a most rewarding read. Camille appeared to be arrogant and superior in Someone to Love, but in this book, Balogh uncovers layers that reveal the eldest of the three delegitimatized Westcotts as a flawed woman but nevertheless one with strength, integrity, and a capacity for growth. Even her coldness toward the sunny, open-hearted Anna becomes easier to forgive when Camille acknowledges to herself that her response to Anna is irrational and emotional and that Anna has behaved graciously.

Joel too is revealed as a more complex character in this novel than he appeared to be in the first. The story of his past that is unraveled might have seemed a too easy parallel to Anna’s story had Balogh not prepared her readers by having the orphanage in which Anna and Joel were brought up one where the children are supported by anonymous benefactors. Joel’s tangled family relationships also give him and Camille something in common as they both deal with challenges to who they thought they were and to their concepts of what makes a family.

Readers who enjoyed the first book will be pleased to see various members of the Westcott family appear in this one, and the orphans are even more appealing and play a more significant role in the story. I liked the first book, but I think the second is even better. I highly recommend it. Although Someone to Hold may be read as a standalone, readers will have a more satisfying reading experience and a better understanding of Balogh’s world-building if they read Someone to Love as well.

If you have never read Balogh, you owe it to yourself to read one of the classic writers of Regency-set historical romance. If you are a Balogh reader, you will find yourself hooked on yet another Balogh family, immersed in the new book and eager for the next. That next book will be Someone to Wed (November, 2017), the story of Alexander Westcott, the new Earl of Riverdale, and his need for a wealthy bride. I look forward to the admirable Alexander’s story; however, the one I am most excited about is the story of forty-year-old Viola Kingsley, the woman who thought she was the Countess of Riverdale only to discover that her three adult children are illegitimate. I think we will have to wait until 2018 for her story.


 ~Janga

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Review - - Baby Talk & Wedding Bells


Baby Talk & Wedding Bells
By Brenda Harlen
Publisher: Harlequin (Special Edition)
Release Date: January 17, 2017
  



Widowed for a year, CEO Braden Garrett is determined that he will be the father that his adopted daughter, fifteen-month-old Saige, needs, but he feels guilty that he is not providing the two-parent home his daughter’s birth mother wanted for her. His mother, whose help in caring for Saige is invaluable, is certainly doing her part to encourage him to remarry and give Saige a mother. But Braden remains uninterested until his mother suffers a dental emergency that requires Braden to fill in for her at the weekly Baby Talk class. There he meets Cassie MacKinnon, the librarian in charge of Baby Talk. Captivated by her beauty, he tries to charm her, but she turns down his invitation for coffee, although she shows signs of sharing the attraction.

Cassie is not immune to Braden’s appeal, but she is convinced that he is out of her league. She has lost enough throughout her life to be cautious of emotional risks. Her distant father was killed in battle, her younger sister drowned, her alcoholic mother was struck and killed by a car, and her hypocritical step-father was verbally and physically abusive. When she thought that she had met the man with whom she would create a family of her own, she realized that he was trying to turn her into a clone of his ex-wife with whom he was still in love. That broken engagement convinced Cassie that she was better off alone than with someone who didn’t really love her. She has found a degree of contentment in a job she finds fulfilling and in her small, book-filled house which she shares with two rescue cats, Wesley and Buttercup.

But Braden is persistent, and the HEA Cassie has dreamed of with this sexy single father and his adorable daughter is almost within her grasp when she learns that Braden sees her not as the love of his life but as the perfect mother for his child. Braden may be slow to realize how he feels, but losing Cassie is a wake-up call. Can he persuade her that they belong together?
Baby Talk & Wedding Bells is the eleventh book in Brenda Harlen’s long-running series, Those Engaging Garretts, and it offers the same mix of swoon-worthy heroes, independent heroines, and unlikely matches—usually with credibly cute kids as a plus—that has made the series so popular. I’ve been following the romantic adventures of the Garretts since the first book, From Neighbors . . . To Newlyweds (2013), and I have what I am guessing is the last in the series, The Last Single Garrett, on my TBR list for April. The extended Garrett clan has become one of my favorite fictional families.

Baby Talk & Wedding Bells is a sweet read with engaging characters, an emphasis on family dynamics (past and present), and emotional punch—just the kind of book that makes Harlen a favorite author. Not only did Cassie and Braden have me rooting for them immediately, but I also found the secondary characters appealing, particularly sweet Saige, Braden’s benevolently interfering mother, and Cassie’s mentor, Miss Houlahan with her once and future beau.

If you are a reader who enjoys these qualities in the romances you read, I recommend this one. But don’t complain if you end up adding another eleven titles to your TBR list.

~Janga

Friday, February 10, 2017

Review: The Cottage at Firefly Lake


The Cottage at Firefly Lake
By Jen Gilroy
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: January 31, 2017



Charlotte Gibbs and Sean Carmichael had a teenage romance that for all intents was destined to be a forever kind of love.  But, as we know, life doesn’t always turn out to be what we imagine. 

At 18, Charlotte Gibbs leaves Firefly Lake with no explanation.  Eighteen years later she’s returned to sell her mother’s cottage.  As a war correspondent, Charlotte experienced tragedy and witnessed death and destruction, but she’s still not prepared for the depth of emotion she experiences when she sees Sean Carmichael again.

Sean Carmichael never left Firefly Lake, and despite his intense love for Charlotte, after she left, he had to get on with his life.  So he continued the family business, got married, had a child and ultimately ended up divorced. The driving forces in his life are his son, his family and his business, but his world is about to come crashing down when he sees Charlotte and old wounds are opened and long hidden secrets are revealed.

I enjoyed this debut novel.  The hero and heroine aren’t perfect, but that’s what makes them real.  The characters have depth, the story is multi-dimensional, and there are aspects to the story that a reader cannot easily predict.   While it started out slow, the story is what I call a ‘deep’ read.   As you turn the pages you become emotionally invested in the characters and their lives. 

This is a story about second chance love.  And in a word – it’s sigh worthy.  Yup, you will sigh when you get to the very last page.  And isn’t that why we read romance?


What do you think about second chance love?  Is this a trope you like or do you have another that’s your favorite?

~Maria Lokken

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Blog Tour & Giveaway - - Donna Alward's Somebody Like You


Somebody Like You
By Donna Alward
Darling, VT - Book 1
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Release Date: February 7, 2017
    




Where do you go when your life has changed in ways that make it awkward and damaging to your self-esteem to try going on as if the changes are insignificant. If you are Laurel Stone, an employee in the same accounting firm that employs your recently uncloseted ex and his lover, a partner in said firm, you return to your hometown, Darling, Vermont, a New England town where everyone knows your name and most of your business, and you open a gardening center, hoping to find emotional satisfaction as well as economic success in your new business. Laurel is still sensitive to her recent divorce and the circumstances surrounding it making her the focus of gossip, but her business is going well. She has reconnected with Willow Dunaway, an old friend from high school, and life seems promising. Her confidence in that promise is shaken when her gardening center is the target of vandalism. Her stress grows when the investigating officer is Aiden Gallagher with whom Laurel has a long history. One particularly memorable bit involves a milkshake she dumped on him.

Aiden is no longer the immature kid who behaved like a jerk back in high school, but he knows Laurel may not be ready to believe he has changed. He doesn’t really expect her to be pleased to see him. He regrets that he hurt Laurel and would like to apologize for his immature behavior. When he sees Laurel and is reminded of all the reasons he once liked her, he is even more determined to make amends for the past. However, he is wise enough now to know that he has to move slowly.

Laurel, reluctant though she may be to admit it, also acknowledges that the attraction between them is still strong. She remains wary, however, and when she is approached about reenacting the iconic pose captured in Darling’s famous tourism photo (two five-year-olds, dressed for their parts as flower girl and ring-bearer in a wedding, kissing at the town’s Kissing Bridge where, according to legend, a kiss guarantees a forever love), she refuses. But as she spends more time with Aiden and discovers the kind of man he has become, her defenses weaken. Perhaps a new photo at Kissing Bridge is not a bad idea; perhaps that old legend is more than a tale for tourists.

Donna Alward is among the best at creating small towns that have the requisite quirkiness without losing authenticity. With Somebody Like You, she introduces her readers to a new series but one that has the same heartwarming appeal that made her Jewell Cove series a favorite with readers. The covers of the Darling, Vermont series are enough to make some readers fall in love with town, and the novel reveals a town that lives up to that impression.

Alward also takes common tropes of romance and gives them twists that make them feel fresh. The heroine’s returning home after a shattering divorce serves as the beginning of many a romance, but Laurel’s situation is more fraught than the typical case. The lingering effects of high school heartbreak is another much-used device, but Aiden has neither forgotten his actions nor does he avoid accepting responsibility for them. I found both Laurel and Aiden likable and sympathetic from the get-go, and I award major kudos to Alward for letting their relationship develop credibly rather than rushing to consummation. The love scenes include the sweet, the tender, and the sizzling plus a golf-course scene that is giggle-inducing.

Secondary characters are also important in small-town romances, and Alward gives her readers a cast designed to win hearts and pique interest. Willow Dunaway, Laurel’s bestie, is a delight with hints of depths readers will be eager to see explored in a later book. Aiden’s large, lively, loving family includes enough unattached siblings to keep the series going and readers intrigued for quite a while. George, Darling’s homeless man, serves not only to reveal the kind of man Aiden is but also to impress the reader with his humanity and dignity.

If you are a fan of small-town romance, I recommend you add this one to your list. I think you will be as eager as I am to pay a return visit to Darling, Vermont. Lucky for us, we don’t have to wait long. Someone to Love, the story of Willow and Aiden’s brother Ethan, will be released March 7, and Somebody’s Baby, a third book, with another Gallagher hero, releases April 4. I do love back-to-back releases.

 ~Janga

Are you a fan of small-town romances?

Do you enjoy a large secondary cast surrounding the main couple?

Is Donna Alward on your reading list? Do you have a favorite of her books? 

One randomly chosen person leaving a comment will receive a print copy of Somebody Like You. (U.S. addresses only) Deadline to leave a comment for the giveaway is 11:00 PM (EST), February 11, 2017.



Marti Corn Photography

While bestselling author Donna Alward was busy studying Austen, Eliot and Shakespeare, she was also losing herself in the breathtaking stories created by romance novelists like LaVyrle Spencer, Judith McNaught, and Nora Roberts. Several years after completing her degree she decided to write a romance of her own and it was true love! Five years and ten manuscripts later she sold her first book and launched a new career. While her heartwarming stories of love, hope, and homecoming have been translated into several languages, hit bestseller lists and won awards, her very favorite thing is when she hears from happy readers!
Donna lives on Canada’s east coast with her family which includes a husband, a couple of kids, a senior dog and two crazy cats. When she’s not writing she enjoys reading (of course!), knitting, gardening, cooking…and is a Masterpiece Theater addict.




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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Review - - Almost a Bride


Almost a Bride
By Jo Watson
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: January 31, 2017







Almost a Bride by Jo Watson had me laughing out loud from the first pages of the book. What a fun read. It had all the elements of a sexy, romantic comedy. The book starts out in South Africa which is a refreshing change and takes the reader on a vacation to a tropical isle. What else can you ask for? Sexy location, sexual tension and some pretty hot characters. Throw in a zany, supportive, loving group of friends who would do anything for you and you have a 5 out 5 star read.

Ann, the main character, seems to lead a charmed life. She has the perfect flat, the perfect job and the perfect boyfriend. Yeah, well that lasts for about a page and a half and all because of one stellar pair of shoes. If it hadn’t been for those shoes she never would have walked in on her boyfriend and his co-worker working out some, um, kinks. From there her day and life pretty much spiral downward in a vortex of epic proportions.

Left with little else, her friends convince her to go with them on a vacation. She gets there, gets sunburned - yes, we are not giving her a quick HEA - and discovers Chris, a scruffy, gorgeous, writer- blocked screenwriter. AND, as luck would have it, her ex-boyfriend and his co-worker lover who are planning their wedding. Could life get any better!

Well, it does and in a grand way. Chris and Anne strike a bargain to show the other two love birds that there is room in paradise for more than one happy, happy couple.

In the end, Anne and Chris scheme and plan and end up falling in love but their HEA comes with a price but there’s groveling from half a world away, like the whole world away, and it’s FUN-tastic.

This is book 2 of a three book series called Destination Love. It could easily be read as a stand alone. But me? Naturally, I am going to go back to the first and finish with the last. I can’t wait!

~Santa