Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Crashing Into Her


Crashing Into Her: Love on Cue
by Mia Sosa
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release Date: February 19, 2019
Reviewed by PJ



Relationships are a thing of the past for Eva Montgomery. Her current motto? You can’t spell “manipulative” without man. But Eva has needs, and a one-night-stand at her best friend’s wedding is the perfect way to kick off her new approach to singledom. Then a job opportunity puts her in the same city with the guy she can’t forget . . .
Anthony Castillo is a perpetual bachelor—no strings, just flings—a status he maintains by being honest about his intentions and never looking back. So why is he still thinking about the firecracker of a woman who rocked his world at his cousin’s wedding? It’s a question he refuses to answer, until she comes crashing back into his life, taking his emotional walls down with her.
When her father doubts her ability to make it in LA, Eva vows to go big and prove him wrong. With her athletic background, she’s an ideal candidate for stunt work. But first she’ll need training, and the instructor is none other than her former hookup, Anthony Castillo. Except he’s not as cocky as she remembers and he’s definitely still sexy as sin. The only problem is . . . Anthony doesn’t want her anywhere near his stunt school—or his heart.

My thoughts:

Warning: You may not want to read this book in public if you're reluctant to share raucous laughter, heartfelt emotion, and lusty sighs with strangers. On the other hand, Crashing Into Her can be an effective tool for making new friends, as I discovered while reading the book at the beach the other day. Total strangers were putting down their own books and asking the title of the one obviously bringing me so much enjoyment. :) 

I'm not sure why I haven't read Mia Sosa before now. You can be sure I won't make that mistake again. There's a binge ahead! Crashing Into Her is fun, flirty, a little dirty, and oh, so sensual. Her characters are so real and vividly portrayed. They pulled me into their world from the get-go, taking me on a fast-paced ride that had me swiping pages with excitement while, at the same time, wanting to savor each delicious scene. 

Eva and Anthony are both so darn likable and so very deserving of their HEA, even if neither believes they want a relationship. The banter between them is fun and flawless, and their chemistry could spark an inferno. Talk about sizzle! Their physical relationship is scorching but there's also a sweetness about them that captured my heart. 

Sosa places Anthony's Puerto Rican culture front and center in this story with plenty of music - I have a new appreciation for Reggaeton - and detailed descriptions of food that had me wiping the drool from my Kindle...and searching Yelp for local PR restaurants. She should write a cookbook. I'd buy it. 

Secondary characters - and couples from the first two books - seamlessly weave in and out of the story, adding richness and flavor without detracting from the main couple. I especially enjoyed Anthony's father and Eva's best friend (also Anthony's cousin), Tori (Book 1 - Acting on Impulse). I can't wait to read Tori's story! 

With sweet sighs, laugh-out-loud humor, and sensual scenes that left my heart racing, Crashing Into Her has vaulted Mia Sosa onto my author auto-buy list and earned my enthusiastic recommendation...and a few new friends.   


Have you read Mia Sosa's books yet?

Do you have a favorite?

Do you find yourself wanting to search out the food featured in the books you read?



Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Review - - The Eulogist


THE EULOGIST
by Terry Gamble
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: January 22, 2019
Reviewed by Hellie




THE EULOGIST is a historical fiction novel set in pre-Civil War America, following Irish immigrants who live in the Ohio River Valley area. Told in the first person of Olivia Givens, who relays the twisted histories of her brothers, James and Erasmus, and her own trials as a woman who is more spinster than wife, who has odd ideas about religion as well as unpopular ones about slavery and women.

The writing showcases a unique and compelling author’s voice, and Olivia’s voice shows a woman who is both hilarious and gritty as she tells the truth as she sees it; however as the story continues and the years pass, there is little humor and triumph, but the grit remains to pursue social justice for those kept in slavery. In the end, there is probably a truthful sort of happy ending, one in which a slave was rescued and Olivia shares what happens to all the family members because she ends up being the one who outlives them all. To her surprise, she becomes the eulogist of the family.

Most of the story is set from the 1820s to the 1840s, so it weaves many historical components competently and naturally in an interesting way. In addition to slavery and abolition, there are interesting insights about the Irish immigrant experience, the rise of evangelism in early America, and the Industrial Revolution in all its glory, with the rise of the middle class and interest in science and medicine as well as reason. There was also the tragedy of the outbreaks of cholera, slave catchers who succeed, and constant fevers that could take anyone at any time--and do. Much of the humor spins around the evangelism side of history as well as the complicated love triangles that seem to crop up. I laughed a lot while reading and admired the author’s writing style and vocabulary.

Basically the story is thus: after their parents die on the journey west, the Givens children, James, Erasmus, and Olivia must learn to fend for themselves. James marries into a prosperous family and builds a thriving business and social standing in Cincinnati. Erasmus, who is plagued by wanderlust, becomes an itinerant preacher, loving and losing the love of his life as he makes his way up and down the river. Olivia--the least marriage minded of the group--surprises even herself when she marries Silas Orpheus, a doctor who is as odd as she is and admires the fact she is not conventional. When Olivia’s husband dies suddenly, she travels to his family’s home in Kentucky and encounters the horrors of slavery firsthand. She is able to help one slave escape to freedom, but her attempt to free a young woman named Tilly results in disaster. Despite this, the family continues to take risks to fight to end slavery, actions that causes ripple effects throughout the rest of their lives.

If you like to read historical fiction outside of a regular historical romance novel, I think this is an excellent choice: compelling, beautifully written, interesting. But there is little romance in it, of any nature, either of love or the good old days. What it lacks in romance though, it makes up for in grittiness and humor as well as a history lesson in the very things Americans still struggle with acknowledging even now. It’s not enough to say slavery and racism is wrong. This is a story about heroes who chose to take action to right those wrongs, which makes it very much a story worth reading.



Monday, February 18, 2019

Review - - Ten Kisses to Scandal

Ten Kisses to Scandal
by Vivienne Lorret
Misadventures in Matchmaking - Book 2
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: December 24, 2019
Reviewed by Santa




Ten Kisses to Scandal by Vivienne Lorret is the second book in her Misadventures in Matchmaking series and it is definitely a five star winner for me. Briar Bourne is the youngest of the three sisters who, along with their uncle, run the agency. Briar feels her role is an insignificant one compared to her sisters. She meets and greets prospective clients with delicious tea and mouthwatering scones before her sisters come in and set up the clients with potential suitors. Briar feels that her romantic heart and instincts make her the better matchmaker. A fact her sisters fail to take note of. So, donning her lucky slippers, Briar sets out to take on the most eligible bachelor in England as a client and, quite literally, steps right into quite a mess.

An innocent from the countryside, she thinks nothing of sneaking out of her home in the pre-dawn hours to go to see this gentleman at his home. The only people out and about are despots, rakes, rogues and whatever bit of baggage they have with them. Enter one Nicholas Blacklowe, Earl of Edgemont. And, no, he is not THE most eligible bachelor...not even close. Briar comes upon him occupied and endeavors to take his hack so she can continue her quest. He’s having none of it. He shares the carriage and takes her back to her home. She stubbornly hangs onto her right to pursue her mission. He thinks she’s daft and has no idea how dangerous it is for her to be out and about.

He can see she doesn’t know the first thing about how to read people. Briar's romantic notions cloud her vision. Nicholas is no romantic. He had a disastrous marriage and, despite his good intentions, made a misery out of his own cousin’s life. He is drawn to Briar and feels protective of her and attracted to her at the same time. And so they strike a bargain. He will give her ten lessons on ‘reading’ people and for every lesson he gets a kiss.  He also engages her to find his cousin a match. She agrees because she wants to prove she can match people to their soul mates and, besides, who would say no to ten kisses from a rogue?

I really loved the banter between Briar and Nick. Nick, despite his reputation, really cares for others as is evidenced by his closeness to his cousins who are more like siblings to him. I enjoyed watching him fall in love with Briar. And Briar is able to begin to see herself as an asset to her family - with quite a few hilarious hiccups along the way that show her value and potential. It was hard to see their struggles as they fall in love especially when people who are malicious and petty try to bring them misery. And nothing tugs at my heart strings more than a hero who knows how to tug at his heroine's heart strings. Nick does this in spades.



Sunday, February 17, 2019

Winner - - Old Dog New Tricks







The randomly chosen winner of a Kindle copy of

Old Dog New Tricks by Roxanne St. Claire is:

Pamela Devereux

Congratulations!

Please send your email address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Friday, February 15, 2019

Review - - Old Dog New Tricks


Old Dog New Tricks
by Roxanne St. Claire
The Dogfather - Book 9
Release Date: February 15, 2019
Reviewed by PJ



Daniel Kilcannon, the veterinarian known as the Dogfather, has been widowed for four years. He's spent the time running the largest canine rescue and training facility in North Carolina and pulling some strings to make sure each of his six grown children find a love like the one he lost when his beloved Annie died. 

But as the years slip by, Daniel's vow to never love again is starting to make him restless. When a woman who was pivotal to his past arrives in Bitter Bark, he wonders if her appearance is coincidence or the guiding hand of his dearly departed wife...but the truth is neither. She's about to change his life again in ways he could never have imagined. And Daniel isn't sure if his heart -- or his family -- will ever recover from the impact.



My thoughts:

Get ready for a beautifully written, deeply emotional, often humorous, and always heartwarming story of two characters who, after devastating loss, relearn the joy of opening hearts to life, to love, and to the possibility of a second happily ever after. 

I adored this book. I devoured it in one sitting then returned to the beginning for a slower read, savoring all its delicious nuances. After coming to know Daniel over the course of this series, I was fully invested in his journey back from the depths of life-shattering grief. It was never a secret that Daniel would eventually find love again but St. Claire kept readers guessing as to the identity of the woman who would bring that love back into his life. She couldn't have created a better heroine or a better story for these two. The writing is flawless, the story realistic and deeply emotional, and the ending had my heart, and tear ducts, overflowing with joy. In my opinion, it's some of St. Claire's best work. 


Old Dog New Tricks is a heart-tugging, life-affirming, deeply romantic journey between two characters who may have snow on the roof, but still hold plenty of fire in their souls. I can't imagine anyone reading it and not falling in love with Daniel, Katie, and the entire Kilcannon family, including the four-legged members. Old Dog New Tricks also gives readers another look at the Kilcannons' Mahoney cousins (firefighters!) and introduces the Santorini kids, all single and ripe for matchmaking. St. Claire has announced that she has  stories planned for all of them. I can't wait! 

As with the other books in the series, the cover of Old Dog New Tricks was shot at Alaqua Animal Refuge in Florida using rescue dogs and local men (not models). A portion of the book's sales will be donated to Alaqua to help save animals and place them in forever homes. 

Are you reading this series?

Who did you think would be Daniel's second-chance heroine?

Do you enjoy romance heroes/heroines with some life experience? 

I'm giving a Kindle copy of OLD DOG NEW TRICKS TO one randomly chosen person leaving a comment before 11:00 PM, February 16. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Tour Review & Giveaway - - In The Dog House





 

In The Dog House
by Traci Hall
An Appletree Cove Romance
Publisher: Entangled:Bliss
Release Date: February 11, 2019
Reviewed by PJ



Ten years ago, Jackson Hardy joined the Marines, leaving behind a woman he still dreams about. When he's called home to care for his ten-year-old nephew, no one is more shocked than he to run into Emma again. Or to still have those same feelings. But Jackson isn't looking for love, and neither is Emma, especially not with him. His precocious nephew, though, and a retriever named Bandit, are about to change that.

So what if Emma Mercer is an overachiever? She has plans to get her doctorate in psychology and create a no-kill shelter for the EST dogs she trains. Which leaves absolutely no time for romance. She's fine with a furry family—dogs don't teach you to love and then rip your heart to shreds. But young Matty's situation tugs at her heartstrings and there's no way she can't help him…and Jackson.

She may have hotter-than-ever chemistry with the soldier, but forgetting the past isn't easy.




My thoughts:

This was my first book by Traci Hall. It won't be my last. I was charmed by this heartwarming tale of second chances. The characters are well developed and realistic and the dogs are adorable. I liked Emma from the get-go, admiring her devotion to the rescue dogs she trains and her determination to find them the right homes where they can use their emotional support skills for good. I understood her reluctance to open herself to Jackson again and admired her determination to help him and his nephew, even if it meant putting her heart at risk. 

My heart ached for what Matty was going through. He's such an awesome kid. It took Jackson a bit longer to win me over but, of course, he did in the end. I really felt for him as he struggled with his PTSD, his sister's precarious health, and caring for his nephew while dealing with guilt for being on emergency leave and not with his military unit. 

And then there's Emma's Aunt Pepita, a free spirit with sage advice who I absolutely adored. All in all, a well-rounded (two and four) legged cast that kept me entertained, touched my heart, and left me confident in and satisfied by the well-earned happily ever after. 


Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | AppleBooks | Kobo


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Meet the Author:


My name is Traci Hall and I love to write...sounds like the beginning step of a program!However, I am not sorry that I love to write, so I guess I'm in it for the long haul. Finger cramps, slumped back and numb feet from sitting all day aside, there is nothing I would rather do than tell stories. Hearing back from readers makes it all worthwhile.


Connect: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads







Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Release Day Review - - Back to You




Back to You
by Kimberly Kincaid
A Remington Medical Contemporary Romance - Book One
Publisher: Kimberly Kincaid Romance, LLC
Release Date: February 12, 2019
Reviewed by PJ





His second chance is his only chance

Parker Drake wants exactly one thing—to fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor. Between his reputation as a rule-breaker and the six years that have passed since his first internship ended in disaster, he knows he’s only getting one shot at a second chance. He’ll do anything to put the past behind him and reach his goal…including work with the gorgeous ex-wife he’s never gotten over losing.

All work and no play make surgeon Charleston Becker a very happy woman. But when she’s tasked with mentoring her ex-husband through his second chance as an intern, her signature calm is put to the test. She’s not interested in re-hashing the heartbreaking circumstances that ended their marriage, and the six years that have passed haven’t made Parker less reckless. The last thing she’s willing to do is trust him—even if she does find him sexier than ever.

But familiarity breeds forgiveness, which then becomes a passion that threatens the careers Parker and Charlie have worked for. Can they turn their second chance into a happy ending? Or is history bound to repeat itself?


My thoughts:

I loved this first book in Kimberly Kincaid's new Remington Medical contemporary romance series. It's brimming with deep emotion, complex relationships, and steamy romance, all set within the controlled chaos of the Remington Medical Emergency Department. Kincaid pulled me into the story from the first pages and held me spellbound until the very end.

Parker and Charlie haven't had any communication in the six years since their short marriage came to a quick and tragic end. When they unexpectedly come face to face on Charlie's first day back at Remington Medical, it's apparent that there are unresolved feelings, deep feelings, between them still. Okay, maybe not good feelings, at least on Charlie's part, but you know what they say about the fine line between hate and love. I felt an immediate connection to them both and couldn't wait to see what Kincaid had in store for them. I love how she tells their stories - what happened six years ago and what's occurring now - with flashbacks during the first part of the book. It gives readers a much better understanding of the deep love and commitment that was once between them and how they came to be in the adversarial position where they now reside. I also appreciate the care and time she takes with their present journey. There are no easy fixes with this couple and, given what they went through, there shouldn't be. Their bodies recognize first what their hearts are slower to accept which leads to some steamy encounters along the way. Let me just say, Kimberly Kincaid knows her way around steamy encounters! There are a lot of sexy scenes in this book but they all feel organic, never gratuitous, and they all lead to the happily ever after this couple so richly deserves.

Kincaid surrounds Charlie and Parker with a fascinating group of secondary characters and plenty simmering drama to boost my excitement for this series. I already have my favorites and can't wait to see what's in store for them in future books. 

If you're a fan of shows like Grey's Anatomy, if you enjoy second-chances, both in life and love, if you want your books to snap, sizzle and introduce you to intriguing characters who will take you on an emotional journey, then I highly recommend Kimberly Kincaid's Back to You

Excerpt
Back to You

Of all the ways Parker Drake had envisioned his first day as an intern, witnessing a sedan-versus-bike messenger that resulted in an open tib-fib before he’d even walked through the hospital doors hadn’t been in the top one thousand.
Being face to drop-jawed stare with the one woman he’d been certain he’d never lay eyes on again, and who probably hated him as passionately as he’d once loved her?
Had to be a one in a million.
The man in his arms groaned in pain, snapping time back into motion and Parker back to reality in less than a heartbeat.
“I need a little help over here,” Parker called out, and fucking great, Tess was here, too?
“What happened?” Charlie asked as Tess hollered for a gurney and a C-collar, both of which arrived astonishingly fast.
Parker blinked, his brain momentarily too swamped with adrenaline to form a reply. Focus. On something other than how the hell Charlie is here in front of you instead of far, far away in Nashville. Now would be good, since you’re holding a guy whose tibia is sticking out of his skin.
Well, that did the trick to redirect his thoughts from her, at least temporarily. Then again, work always did. “Mike Yoshida, got clipped by a Camry while riding his bike,” Parker said, placing the man on the gurney and diving right in to the bullet. “Obvious right lower leg deformity, GCS 12. No apparent head or neck trauma, no LOC.” The guy’s helmet was still firmly in place. Not that it had done his leg a lick of good, but at least that would be a hell of a lot easier to repair.
“Hi, Mr. Yoshida, I’m Dr. Michaelson, and this is Dr. Becker,” Tess said, but only after she’d shot a micro-frown in Parker’s direction that promised nothing good once their patient was stable. “We’re going to take care of you, okay?”
            “O-okay.” He tried to nod, but Tess placed her hands firmly over the sides of his helmet to keep him still as Charlie grabbed the C-collar.
“Dr. Becker and I are going to put this around your neck. I know it’s not super comfortable, but we have to err on the side of caution until we can get a closer look at your spine.”
Charlie, who was in street clothes, and Tess, who wasn’t, had both gloved up to examine the man while a nurse guided the gurney past the automatic doors and into a curtain area.
“You didn’t think to call a paramedic instead of dragging him in here on your own?” Charlie asked, her red-gold brows pulled low in disapproval, as Tess continued her rapid trauma assessment on the patient.
Parker took a deep breath and reminded himself that he deserved every degree of chilliness Charlie wanted to offer. “I am a paramedic. Or I was for five years. Anyway”—he grabbed a pair of nitrile gloves from the dispenser box on the wall and slid them into place—“the accident happened less than a block away. Calling an ambo would’ve been stupid.”
Dropping her voice enough to keep it from the patient while Tess asked him a few more questions and examined his leg, Charlie said, “He was in an MVA, and you moved him without a C-collar. That is stupid.”
Shock popped Parker right in the solar plexus. “Seeing as how we were in the middle of a busy city street and the guy had already been hit by a car once, I thought getting him out of traffic might be prudent.”
“Parker—” she started, but he shook his head. As much as he wanted to, arguing with her was a bad idea for several reasons, none of them small. Anyway, he couldn’t change what he’d already done.
            “Yes, I moved him,” Parker said quietly. “But I did an RTA in the field. He was alert and reactive, with no signs of a head or neck injury. He was in a lot of pain and had an open fracture, and I wanted to get him treated as fast as possible. So, I made a judgment call.”
            If her expression was anything to go by, Charlie remained highly unimpressed. “So he didn’t present with any outward signs of a spinal injury,” she argued. “That doesn’t mean he’s fine. There could be any number of things going on that you can’t see.”
            “I know that.” Parker had completed four years of medical school, nearly seven months of his first internship, and three of his five years at Station Seventeen as a lead paramedic. He was hardly a dumbass.
“This tib-fib is pretty straightforward,” Tess said loudly enough to grab both of their attention. She’d—damn—already cut away the patient’s jeans to reveal a nasty break, and splinted the injured leg to keep it stable. “Let’s get head and neck films to see what we’re dealing with otherwise.” She swung her stare to the dark-haired nurse who had appeared with the gurney and stuck around for the ride. “And page Dr. Sheridan, along with whoever’s on call for ortho, stat, please.”
“I’ve got the films, Dr. Michaelson,” Charlie said, her eyes on Tess’s very pregnant belly, and Parker’s throat went tight. But then Tess had stepped out of the curtain area and the nurse had produced two protective aprons, and Charlie was shooting the X-rays as easily as she’d order a fucking latte.
“Head and neck are clear,” she called to Tess a few seconds later, who returned to the curtain area and looked at the images on the portable monitor, nodding her agreement.
“It’s just my…leg that hurts.” The man’s labored grunt punctuated the claim, and Charlie—Christ, how was it possible that she’d gotten even prettier over the last six years—softened her gaze, leaning in toward him.
“Do you have any drug allergies, Mr. Yoshida?”
Another groan. “No.”
Charlie looked at the nurse. “Start an IV so we can get some pain meds on board while we wait for those consults. We’re also going to need to do a full set of films on that leg for ortho.”
“I can start the IV,” Parker offered, taking a step toward the supply cart beside the gurney. Anything would be better than just standing here, useless.
Charlie’s arm shot out, and even through his shirt and hers, the contact sizzled through him as if they’d touched intimately, skin on skin. “No. You absolutely cannot.”
“I’m qualified to do it,” he said. He’d started hundreds of lines. Maybe even thousands. For God’s sake, Charlie had been there when he’d learned how.
“You’re a paramedic,” Tess said, clearly on Team Charlie, and also clearly unaware that he’d tendered his resignation at Station Seventeen to return to medical school and had been placed here at Remington Mem for his internship, take two. “We have very capable nurses. You brought Mr. Yoshida in, but we’ve got it from here, Parker. You can go.”
His pulse slapped faster. “Actually, I—”
The curtain moved, the metal loops shushing along the track built in to the ceiling and stopping the rest of Parker’s words in his windpipe.
“Someone called for a—whoa, yeah. Surgical consult,” said Jonah Sheridan, who had appeared behind Tess. Parker recognized him, both from running patients in to the emergency department for the last five years and the semi-rare occasion that the staff at Remington Mem came to hang out at The Crooked Angel, where the first responders from Station Seventeen and the cops from the Thirty-Third precinct tended to gather.
Sheridan completed a quick but thorough perusal of the patient’s injury. Parker listened carefully as Tess gave the guy a brief rundown and the nurse started the IV, then again as Sheridan looked at the patient.
“What’s your name, sir?”
“Mike,” the guy groaned, leaning back against the gurney. “Mike Yoshida.”
“Well, Mr. Yoshida, I hope you like Jell-O, because you’re going to be here for a day or two. You definitely need surgery to repair that injury to your leg.” He turned toward the dark-haired nurse, who Parker belatedly recognized from his first internship six years ago, and damn. How could he have changed so much while this place had stood stock-still?
“Kelly, let’s get some antibiotics in that IV along with the pain meds Dr. Becker ordered, and call surgery to book an OR.” Dr. Sheridan rattled off a few more directives—specific medications and dosages, plus a rush on the X-rays Charlie had already ordered—then shifted to look at Parker, blond brows lifted in question. 
“You’re the paramedic, right?”
Shit. “Intern. Parker Drake.” Tugging off his still-spotless gloves, he extended his hand, trying as hard as he possibly could to un-hear the twin gasps of shock from Tess and Charlie. 
“Huh,” Jonah said. “A new attending and a paramedic intern. The hits just keep on comin’. Okay, Mr. Yoshida.” He turned back toward the patient while Parker battled some shock of his own. Charlie was working here now? As an attending? Surely, he’d misunderstood. “Let’s get you ready for surgery, shall we?”
“OR three is open, Dr. Sheridan,” Kelly said, hanging up the wall-mounted phone. “They’re expecting you.”
“Perfect. We can do the films upstairs while I scrub in and get Dr. Mallory up to speed. Let’s go.”
Sheridan and Kelly wheeled the gurney from the curtain area. Now would normally be the time for everyone to scatter, with the patient stable and the handoff to a surgeon made. But since everything about the current situation was far from normal, Tess killed the four hundred-pound silence with a long, low exhale.
“I’m sorry. Did you just say you’re…”
“An intern. Starting today.” He looked at Charlie, whose expression was impossible to decipher. “Did Dr. Sheridan say you’re…”
“An attending. Temporarily, at least. I’m covering Tess’s maternity leave for ten weeks.”


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Winner - - Playing for Keeps






The randomly chosen winner of a print copy of

Playing for Keeps by Jill Shalvis is:

LSUReader

Congratulations!

Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Winner - - The Conspiracy Review







The randomly chosen winner of a book from

the AGAINST series by Kat Martin is:

Chrisbails

Congratulations!

Please send your full name and mailing address (U.S. only) to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Winners - - Coming Attractions






The randomly chosen winners of a package of books from 

the February Coming Attractions post are:


Diane D - Florida

and

Carol L


Congratulations!

Please send your full name and mailing address (U.S. only) to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Thursday, February 7, 2019

Review - - The Military Wife


The Military Wife: Heart of a Hero
by Laura Trentham
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Reviewed by PJ



Harper Lee Wilcox has been marking time in her hometown of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina since her husbandNoah Wilcox’s death, nearly five years earlier. With her son Ben turning five and living at home with her mother, Harper fights a growing restlessness, worried that moving on means leaving the memory of her husband behind.
Her best friend, Allison Teague, is dealing with struggles of her own. Her husband, a former SEAL that served with Noah, was injured while deployed and has come home physically healed but fighting PTSD. With three children underfoot and unable to help her husband, Allison is at her wit’s end.
In an effort to reenergize her own life, Harper sees an opportunity to help not only Allison but a network of other military wives eager to support her idea of starting a string of coffee houses close to military bases around the country.
In her pursuit of her dream, Harper crosses paths with Bennett Caldwell, Noah’s best friend and SEAL brother. A man who has a promise to keep, entangling their lives in ways neither of them can foresee. As her business grows so does an unexpected relationship with Bennett. Can Harper let go of her grief and build a future with Bennett even as the man they both loved haunts their pasts?


My thoughts:

Laura Trentham will break your heart and then stitch it back together, stronger than ever, in this poignant, heart-wrenching, and, ultimately, life-affirming story about the men and women who protect our country on the front lines and those on the home front - the spouses, children, and families - whose contributions, and trials, are no less significant.

One of the strengths of Trentham's contemporary romances is her ability to create richly complex and realistic characters into whose lives I become completely invested. The same is true of The Military Wife, her first foray into women's fiction. She brings these characters to vivid life in a convincing portrayal of honor, duty, sacrifice, fear, survivor's guilt, grief, and love. They all notched places for themselves in my heart, taking me along on each of their journeys and wringing my emotions with the challenges they face. 

The writing is flawless with seamless transitions from present to past that enable the reader to fully understand the events, and people, that have brought the primary characters, Harper, Bennett, Allison, and Darren to this point in their lives. I especially appreciated the insight gained through the flashback chapters that tell the story of Harper and Noah's courtship and marriage as well as those telling the story of Noah and Bennett's close friendship. Experiencing those journeys with them makes the present journey Bennett and Harper are traveling, both individually and as a couple, all the more satisfying. The secondary characters, as well, are all vividly crafted and realistic. 

Those of you who have read Trentham's other books should be aware that while The Military Wife is women's fiction and there are some serious issues dealt with, there's also plenty of sexual tension, humor, deep emotion, and, for the romance lovers among us, a happy ending. I highly recommend it. (Keep the tissues handy.) 


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Review - - The Good Ones


The Good Ones
By Jenn McKinlay
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: February 5, 2018
Reviewed by PJ



Ryder Copeland is an accomplished architect and one heck of a father...not to mention tall and sexy. He's everything a hero should be, and Lord knows, Maisy Kelly has read enough of her great-aunt Eloise's romance novels to recognize one when she sees one. But like all fairy tales, Maisy can't help but wonder if this Prince Charming is too good to be true...

Ryder is drawn to the shy, curly haired professor who hires him to convert the Victorian house she's inherited from her aunt into a romance bookstore. Attracted to a woman for the first time since his divorce, Ryder finds himself wishing for a future with Maisy that he knows is impossible. Ryder has never wavered from his plan to leave the small town of Fairdale, North Carolina, so he can give his daughter the life she deserves. But suddenly he's not so sure. And the closer he gets to Maisy, the harder it's going to be to walk away...



My thoughts:

Launching her new Happily Ever After series, Jenn McKinlay brings readers a small-town romance with plenty of humor, heart, sizzle, and charm as well as an enthusiastic verbal hug for the romance books we all love to read. 

Maisy is at a crossroads in her life. Chucking her academic career and louse of a boyfriend, she makes the decision to turn the home and thousands of romance books she's inherited into a romance bookstore. Who among us hasn't had that dream once or twice? She's such an endearing character. I applauded her determination, cheered when she stood up to her ex, and ached with her when things took a sideways turn. I enjoyed her relationship with Ryder's daughter and, especially, with the rescue kitten, King George. And I loved her female sidekicks!  

Ryder is a great single dad with some lessons to learn where his teen daughter, and Maisy, are concerned. He's a nice guy and his relationship with Maisy is sweet, and sexy, but unsteady. His continued hot and cold routine throughout most of the book had me frustrated though he comes around by the end and his back story, once revealed, explains much of his behavior. I liked his sense of humor, his willingness to embrace Maisy's dream, his determination to give his daughter the best life possible, and his gentle care of the adorable King George. 

If you enjoy a fast-paced, fun romance with plenty of snappy dialogue, sizzling chemistry, and endearing characters, give this one a try. 





Excerpt


When Jake took off his cowboy hat and pulled her close, Claire wrapped her arms around him and the two became one. When they kissed she knew they were making each other a promise for today, tomorrow, and forever. Clare sighed. For the first time in her life, she knew that no matter what happened this man, who was her partner and her best friend, would be by her side. For all time.

     Maisy Kelly closed the book and pressed it to her chest and sighed. Jake Sinclair, the perfect man, why did he reside only in the pages of a book? It wasn’t fair. She was twenty-nine and none of the men she’d ever dated had been even remotely as caring or charming as Jake Sinclair.
     Knock knock knock.
     Maisy blinked. Someone was at the door. No, no, no. She had a book hangover and she didn’t want to deal with the world right now.
     Knock knock knock.
     They weren’t going away. Maisy rose from where she’d been seated on the bottom step of the stairs. In theory, she was supposed to be cleaning out her Great Aunt Eloise’s house, in reality she was binge reading Auntie El’s hoarder’s trove of romance novels. It wasn’t making the task, which was heartbreaking to begin with, any easier.
     Knock knock knock.
     “All right, all right,” Maisy grumbled. “I’m coming.”
     She strode to the door and yanked it open. Probably, if she had bothered to glance through the peep hole she would have been prepared, but she hadn’t and she wasn’t.
     Standing on her front step, looking impossibly handsome and imposing, was a cowboy. Maisy glanced down at her book. On the cover was the artist’s rendering of Jake Sinclair, in jeans and a white shirt, leaning against a split rail fence, with a brown cowboy hat tipped carelessly over his brow. Maisy could practically hear the cows mooing in the background.
     She glanced back up. Jeans, white shirt, and a cowboy hat. This guy had it all going on, except where the artist had left Jake’s face in shadow and not clearly defined, this guy was a full on 3D HD of hotness, with full lips, faint stubble on his chin, and quite possibly the bluest eyes Maisy had ever seen this side of the sky. She had a sudden urge to poke him with her pointer finger to see if he was real.
     “Mornin’, Miss,” the man drawled, drawled!
     Miss? Huh, she hadn’t been called “Miss” since she’d started teaching at Fairdale University. Why would he…she glanced down.
     She was wearing her favorite floral Converse All-stars, ripped up denim shorts, and her old Fairdale University sweatshirt, the one with the sleeves that hung down past her hands, oh, and she had on no makeup and her hair was held back by an enormous pink headband. She probably looked like one of her college students, possibly a freshman.
     In that brief shining moment, she was certain if it was possible to die of embarrassment, she would expire in three…two…one. She gave it a second. Nope, still standing. Damn it.
     “Listen, I’m sorry, sir, but whatever you’re selling, I’m not interested—,” she began but he cut her off.
     “Oh, I’m not selling anything,” he said. He looked confused. “This is three-twenty-three Willow Lane, right?”
     “Yes, it is. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back--,” she let her voice trail off, hoping he’d get the hint. He didn’t.
     “I have an appointment with a Ms. Kelly,” he said. “Or Mrs. Kelly, I’m not sure.”
     Maisy knew she didn’t have any appointments today. That was why she’d indulged herself in a good long reading sesh. This guy was probably a hustler, trying to con her to buy some property insurance or new windows. Ever since she’d inherited this monster of a house from Auntie El she’d had all sorts of scammers climbing out of the cracks in the sidewalk, trying to get her to refinance or buy a security system. It was exhausting.
     The man met her squinty stare with one of his own. He shrinkled up one eye and mimicked her look of disbelief right down to the small lip curl. The nerve! Then she saw the twinkle in his one open eye, and Maisy couldn’t hold it. She burst out laughing.
     He grinned at her and her ire diminished as she noted the cowboy had a sense of humor. Okay, she decided to give him a break and at least take his name and number.
     “I’m sorry,” she said. “What was your appointment with Ms. Kelly about?”
     “It’s about the house, actually,” he said. “My name’s Ryder Copeland. I’m a restoration architect, and you are?”
     “Ryder Copeland?” Maisy’s eyes went wide. “But our appointment isn’t until tomorrow, you know, Tuesday.”
     “Today is Tuesday,” he said.
     “No, it isn’t,” she said. “It’s Monday.”

     “Sorry, it really is Tuesday. Wait,” he said. “Our appointment? You’re Maisy Kelly?”