Friday, July 19, 2019

Review - - The Friend Zone


THE FRIEND ZONE
by Abby Jimenez
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Reviewed by Hellie 
 


Kristen Peterson doesn't do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don't get her. She's also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend's wedding is bittersweet for Kristen -- especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He's funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he'd be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it's harder and harder to keep him at arm's length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.

This book is hilarious. In fact in many ways, this author’s style and voice remind me of rom-coms in the vein of Kristan Higgins: all heart, lots of laughter, some very real tears. If you love sarcasm, plenty of “the hero feeding the heroine” scenes (always sexy!), and a cute dog named Stuntman Mike, you will likely be picking this book up for your light beach read; however, I wish this book had come with a bit of a warning. Like some of Kristan’s books, not everything ends happily. There. Are. Things. Things I cannot allude to because they are definite “giving away the book” but which I think, if you’re like me, you should know going in so you don’t think you’re taking home a cute fluffy rabbit and you arrive home with a badger. 

Kristen suffers from PCOS (which we find out early in the book) and she plans to have a medical procedure that pretty much guarantees she won’t have kids (not that her odds were good with the PCOS anyway.) In a series of unfortunate but hilarious events, she meets Josh who is a threat to all women’s ovaries everywhere. He is the guy you definitely want to fall in love with--and Kristen does. But she knows he can never be hers. He wants a big family--his own family--and she can never give that to him. There are a number of scenes in the book where you want to shake Kristen though you understand why she says and does what she says and does. And Josh does a good job of picking up cues and delivering on the ultimate romantic gesture needed to win Kristen back.

Still...the last third of the book was a hard read. As one of the Amazon reviewers said, “This book just sucked me in and it was 2 AM and I was ugly crying when I got to the end.” That is exactly what will happen. You cannot put the book down. The characters, the conflict, the terrible terrible sadness--it’s all consuming. Now it is a romance. It does end on a happy note, but with everything that happened, the ending felt very bittersweet. 

This is a debut book for Abby Jimenez--and I am looking forward to any other books she comes out with. I also appreciated her author notes talking about PCOS and what the real “happy ending” was. I imagine for most people this book is a 5 star--in fact, the book has 455 reviews, none of them below a 3 and her average is a 5 star. It’s a great story. It’s just for me, for a rom-com trade book, I was possibly expecting a slightly happier read (more froth, perhaps) and this book is not a fluffy white latte macchiato, it’s its darker cousin, caffe macchiato. Enjoy!!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Tour Review & Giveaway - - The Kompromat Kill





The Kompromat Kill
by Michael Jenkins
Publisher: Failsafe Thrillers
Release Date: June 19, 2019
Reviewed by PJ
 



They were preparing for decades – now it’s time to take them down. When a British Diplomat is kidnapped in the heart of London, followed by a brutal double assassination in Chelsea, MI5 braces for the threat of deep sleeper cells coming alive. Hiding overseas with a price on his head, Sean Richardson is tasked to lead a deniable operation to hunt down and recruit an international model and spy. Moving across Asia Minor and Europe, Sean embarks on a dangerous journey tracking an Iranian spy ring who hold the keys to a set of consequences the British Intelligence Services would rather not entertain. As Sean investigates deeper, he uncovers dark secrets from his past and a complex web of espionage spun from the hand of a global master spy. As he inches closer to the truth, the rules of the game change – and the nerve-wracking fate of many lives sits in his hands…….……..

My thoughts:

Michael Jenkins has penned an intense page-turner filled with suspense, drama, and high stakes consequences. It's clear he has his finger on the pulse of today's political climate as well as the global intelligence community, lending a realistic authenticity to this breath-stealing story. The characters within are complex and interesting, bringing with them the unique challenges and moral dilemmas of the espionage game. There are a number of characters in play, however, requiring close attention so as not to become lost or confused. I managed to keep them all straight but it took a bit of effort at times. Perhaps, as many of them have a history with Sean, I would not have had this difficulty had I read the first book before beginning The Kompromat Kill. There are also sections of the book which are repetitive, overly descriptive, and require significant editing. Since I read an advance copy, I'm hoping those issues were addressed before the final copy was released. However, while they may have slowed my reading at times and lowered my score a bit, they didn't keep my heart from racing as the intensity ramps up or flipping the pages in my desire to find out what would happen next. 

If, like me, you're a fan of political or spy thrillers (I devoured every Tom Clancy novel the minute it released), then you might want to give Michael Jenkins a try. I recommend reading his debut novel, The Failsafe Query (Sean Richardson - Book 1) first, followed by the second Sean Richardson book, The Kompromat Kill


~~~~~~~~~~~~

I love my romances but, occasionally, I enjoy stepping into another genre. What about you? What other genres besides romance do you enjoy reading?

Do you read spy thrillers or political thrillers? Who are some of your favorite authors writing in this genre?



Giveaway to Win 5 copies of The Kompromat Kill (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize. 

Click to enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway


Purchase Links
UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07QFSF44F 
US - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QFSF44F 



Author Bio – I started climbing at 13, survived being lost in Snowdonia at 14, nearly drowned at 15, and then joined the Army at 16. Risk and adventure was built into my DNA and I feel very fortunate to have served the majority of my working career as an intelligence officer within Defence Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers. I was privileged to serve for twenty-eight years in the British Army as a soldier and officer, rising through the ranks to complete my service as a major. I served across the globe on numerous military operations as well as extensive travel and adventure on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that I led or was involved in. I was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration in 2003 and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity for many years. It was humbling after so many years of service when I was awarded the MBE for services to counter-terrorism in 2007. The Failsafe Query is my debut novel, with The Kompromat Kill, my second. 

Social Media Links – 
https://twitter.com/FailsafeQuery https://www.facebook.com/thefailsafethrillers/



Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Review - - Ayesha At Last


AYESHA AT LAST
by Uzma Jalaluddin
Publisher: Berkeley  
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Reviewed by Hellie



I am a sucker for a twist on Pride & Prejudice (or a Beatrice & Benedick, where I think the whole trope of pride and prejudice first went viral when it came to romantic pairings.) Therefore when I saw a summer beach read list that said, “It’s a Muslim Pride & Prejudice,” I bought it immediately. I did not regret my purchase--even though I am rather stingy when it comes to trade paperbacks--and I lapped up every page of mistaken identity, Pride & Prejudice ‘I-Know-It!’ scene, and immersive detail that felt like I was invited into my Muslim neighbor’s home for some samosas and gossip. It was by turns hilarious and farcical, and also uncomfortable and real. It was one of those experiences where you thought you’d just enjoy it for its own sake, but came out learning so much more. 

Blurb: Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejectng her hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices, and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century. 

When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.

Khalid is not your usual romantic hero in the romance cover sense. While he is honorable, kind, smart, a loving son and brother, hardworking, and funny, he is also uber-religious, has a long beard, and wears robes instead of more modern apparel. I think the author did a clever twist in that Khalid tapped into the prejudices readers would associate with the original Mr. Darcy (OMG, the things that come out of his mouth!), but his outer appearance as well as his conservative behavior tapped into the reader’s prejudice of what one thinks of a fundamentalist Muslim. It certainly made me consider my own prejudices--or assumptions--and after a while, the beard grew on me. Khalid really was a dreamy romantic hero worth rooting for. 

Ayesha is lovely and amazing--the best kind of heroine in my book: beautiful, smart, sassy, kind, hilarious, and brave. She’s the heroine of a thousand books--and many of my friends. She was easy to relate to and see in the world, a well-rounded character. The author also does a great job of creating secondary characters that also reflect other romantic ideals of love. Ayesha’s grandparents are adorable and in love. Ayesha’s best friend Clare and her boyfriend, Rob, are also loving and complicated. Khalid’s sister and her husband--a surprising couple. Love comes in many ways, in its own time. 

But it’s not all lovey-dovey romance. Oh, no. This is a close community with lots of aunties and arranged marriages and teas. There is gossip, there is pettiness, there is revenge. It’s by turns horrifying and hilarious. And again, it feels very much like Everyman because we’ve all belonged to these communities who are all up in everyone’s business, causing more drama than was ever needed but entertaining everyone just the same. 

If you’re as much a fan of Pride & Prejudice as I am, I suggest giving this one a try. While there is no ‘wet shirt’ scene to swoon over, there is a scene between Ayesha and Khalid after they have a date (of sorts) that positively burned up the page. Pure romance and top dish!


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Winners - - Karen Hawkins





The randomly chosen winner of a Kindle copy of

Love in the Afternoon by Karen Hawkins is:

Melanie

Please send your email address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

The randomly chosen winner of a copy of 

The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins is:

Lil

Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Winner - - Who's Your Daddy





The randomly chosen winner of a 

Kindle copy of Who's Your Daddy is:

Carol L

Congratulations!

Please send your email address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Tour Review - - One Fine Duke


One Fine Duke
by Lenora Bell
School for Dukes - Book 3
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: July 23, 2019
Reviewed by PJ
 



Ready.
Raised in the countryside by her overprotective uncle, Miss Mina Penny’s dream of a triumphant London season is finally here. She determined her perfect match long ago: Rafe Bentley, the wickedest rake of them all. There’s only one very large, very unyielding obstacle: Rafe’s brother Drew, the reclusive Duke of Thorndon.
Aim.
This was supposed to be simple. Duke goes to London. Duke selects suitable bride. Love match? Not a chance. But when Drew meets Mina, she complicates everything. How can a lady armed with such beauty and brains fall for his irresponsible degenerate of a brother? Drew vows to save her from heartbreak and ruin, no matter the cost.
Desire!
But Mina is no damsel in distress. She’s daring, intuitive, passionate…and halfway to melting Drew’s cold heart. And although Mina thought she knew exactly what she wanted, one breathtakingly seductive kiss from Drew changes everything. Now Mina must decide between long-held dreams and dangerous new desires. Could her true destiny lie in the arms of a duke?

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this new book by Lenora Bell. It's filled with likable protagonists, witty banter, emotional depth, and feel-good, laugh-out-loud humor that had me smiling from beginning to end. Mina is everything I would have wanted (but probably wouldn't have had the courage) to be had I lived in Regency England. And Drew? Seriously swoon-worthy. He's sexy as all get out but also dealing with severe, long-term PTSD from a traumatic incident in his youth. I wanted to hug him one minute and have my wicked way with him the next. Kind of like Mina does. These two have some incendiary chemistry between them. I love how Mina challenges Drew and how he supports her. I love how they work together to vanquish their enemies and gain the life together that neither knew they wanted...or needed. They're one of my favorite romance couples this year.  I adored them, both individually and as a couple. 

Bell is at the top of her game in this novel. Adventurous, witty, heart-tugging, and oh-so-sensual. It's going straight to my keeper shelf where I have no doubt it will be visited again and again.   

Have you read any of Lenora Bell's books?

Do you have a favorite?

What's the last book that made you laugh out loud?

One randomly chosen person who leaves a comment before 11:00 PM, July 17, will receive a print copy of One Fine Duke. (U.S. only)


~~~~~~~~~~~



Excerpt:

“There he is, Wilhelmina,” Grizzy whispered, staring reverently across the crowded ballroom. “The Duke of Thorndon.”
Holy hell he’s handsome, thought Mina.
Jaw-dropping-on-the-floor handsome. Drool-on-your-lace-fichu handsome.
Distract her from her plan with his brother, handsome.
Her uncle had been right. Thorndon was a fine figure of a man. Objectively speaking, the finest she’d ever beheld. 
Tall as a doorframe, with a face hewn from the same granite as the rugged Cornish coastline.
A face rendered seductive by contrasts: sharp cheekbones and curved, sensuous lips. Gleaming ebony hair brushed his collar. His eyes were a light, gold-tinged brown—the only warm thing about him. 
He owned this ballroom. Literally. And he owned everyone in it by dint of his oversized presence and the cold, unsmiling arrogance scrawled across his face. 
He didn’t even follow the dictates of fashion, preferring plain black attire to the white pantaloons and gaily-colored waistcoats of the other gentlemen.
Why should he follow the dictates of fashion? Everyone should follow him.
“When you’re introduced to Thorndon, pray speak as seldom as possible,” Grizzy whispered. “Attempt to appear biddable and do try to recall my decorum lessons. Remember, no one in London knows anything about you, thank the Lord.”
Mina had seen several polished, elegant young ladies staring at her, nudging each other and whispering. She was an outsider, a usurper, her proper place in the social hierarchy not yet established. 
They needn’t worry. She had no designs upon their prize duke. And she was about as unpolished as a debutante could be—as rough as an un-sanded plank. If anyone touched her they might get splinters.
She longed to shed her country skin swiftly and emerge as the sophisticated social butterfly her mother had been. But she knew that it would take time, observation, and experimentation.
Her first flirtatious conversation, first kiss, first taste of brandy, first adventure…it was all ahead of her. 
She couldn’t wait to taste it all.


  

Lenora Bell is a USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of historical romances. A teacher with an MFA in Creative Writing, Lenora has lived and worked on five continents. She currently lives in New Zealand with her carpenter husband and two tiger-striped rescue kitties. She loves hearing from readers! Sign up for her mailing list to hear about new books, sales, and giveaways.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Cover Reveal & Excerpt - - Between Me & You by Kimberly Kincaid


Between Me & You
by Kimberly Kincaid
Remington Medical - Book 3
Publisher: Kimberly Kincaid
Release Date: August 13, 2019


From USA Today best-seller Kimberly Kincaid comes an enemies-to-lovers story full of emotion and heat. This full-length romance features a muscle-bound veteran flight medic and a smart, tart female CEO finding happily ever after...the hard way.




He hates the corporate world.
She's all business.
Now they have to work together
on the one job that could
make or break them both...

Connor became a flight medic
for one reason, and
one reason only.
To help people.
If he can keep his head down
and his past in the past while he's at it?
Even better.

Until Harlow appears to upend his world
with an offer he can't refuse.

She's calculating. Composed.
Scalpel-sharp.
And she'll stop at nothing to make
her father's business successful.

Even if that means teaming up with Connor
to turn around a failing clinic.

He shouldn't like her.
He definitely shouldn't want her.
But the more they work together
the less he's able to resist.

But Connor's secrets run deep.
Will Harlow's ambition ruin him,

or will she be his salvation?



⭐️⭐️ PREORDER BONUS CONTENT SPECIAL ⭐️⭐️

Because this was so popular with the last book, Kimberly Kincaid is going to do it again! Everyone who preorders BETWEEN ME & YOU and signs up with this form (link below) will get a bonus scene via email!

✅ Use this form to sign up. http://bit.ly/BetweenPreorderDeal If you don't fill this out, you won't get the scene! So make sure you do.

✅ Please note: the author can't double check this for you later, to see if you signed up or to make sure you typed your email address in properly, so please make sure you keep track of that and double check your sign-ups before clicking submit!

✅ Bonus material will NOT be available to anyone else--ONLY preorder people--and it won’t be released at any time in 2019, or possibly beyond. I (Kimberly Kincaid) try really hard to keep exclusive stuff, well...exclusive. So, if you want it? Sign up now! You may not get another chance to get this scene (DIFFERENT than the last bonus scene!)

πŸš‘ Amazon https://amzn.to/2li1IkL
πŸš‘ Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/BetweenMeYouBN
πŸš‘ Goodreads http://bit.ly/betweenmeyouGR


Previous books in the series (books one and two stand alone, but book 3 contains some series spoilers, so all are best read in order!)

BACK TO YOU (start here!) https://kimberlykincaid.com/back-to-you/

BETTER THAN ME (then here!) https://kimberlykincaid.com/better-than-me/

PJ, here. I loved the first two books in this series and am so excited for the release of book three, Between Me & You! For more information on what I loved about books one and two, check out my 5-star reviews of Back to You and Better Than Me. And don't miss the giveaway of book one, Back to You, at the end of the post. 


Excerpt (not PG-13)
Between Me & You



Connor hadn’t even made it more than a few steps over the threshold of the clinic before he’d run into a crush of people in various states of injury or illness. Most of the waiting room chairs were occupied, and after getting one woman an ice pack she should’ve received when she’d been triaged and sending a badly bleeding teenager directly to the ED to get the gash in his arm tended to by a surgeon, Connor finally moved past the intake desk and headed to the office in the back of the building.

The door was shut, but the blinds on the window beside it weren’t, allowing him to see inside. Harlow sat primly behind the sleek, walnut desk, a pair of red-framed glasses perched on the bridge of her nose as she pored over something on the laptop screen in front of her.

Her chin was tilted slightly downward, her gaze focused and serious, and for one bright, impulsive instant, Connor wondered what she looked like when she laughed. With her hair all mussed from sleep. When she was caught up in a moment of pure, hot pleasure, and Jesus H. Christ on a Pop-Tart, was he insane? Of all the times to think with his dick, now was probably the most inopportune. He needed to be completely on guard around this woman, not get all gee-I-wonder about what she looked like halfway to orgasm.

Damn, he’d bet she was really fucking pretty when she laughed, though.

Clearing his throat, Connor forced his spine to full attention and his cock to stand down, then placed a sharp trio of knocks on the door in front of him. Harlow’s ice-blue eyes widened as she looked up from her desk, but only by a fraction, and by the time she’d waved him over the threshold, any traces of surprise had disappeared as if they’d never existed.

“Mr. Bradshaw,” she said, and oh yeah, no. They had to nip that in the bud right freaking now.

“No mister,” he corrected. Guard up. “It’s not really my thing.”

Harlow nodded. “Lieutenant, then.”

Oh, the shit Declan and the rest of the guys in his unit would give him for that would last days on end. “No lieutenant, either.” Connor shook his head. “Retired military personnel don’t usually go by their rank. It’s kind of considered bad form.”

“I apologize.” Her voice softened by the smallest degree. “I didn’t mean any disrespect.”
“None taken. Connor is fine.”

Just like that, Harlow’s all-business demeanor settled right back into place. “But what will you have the staff call you, then?”

Connor blinked. “Well, my first name has worked up ’til now with everyone in the ICU and ED. I don’t really see a reason to change that,” he said. In fact, he hadn’t even given it a thought.

“You want everyone to call you by your first name,” Harlow said slowly, as if he’d just suggested the earth was flat and they should all go cannonballing over the edge. “The medical staff, the patients. The members of the board?”

He bit back the temptation to tell her he didn’t want to be anything-Bradshaw, especially with the members of the board. He wasn’t some uptight VP who needed to lord his power over other people. “Sure. Why not?”

If the look on Harlow’s face was anything to go by, the answer to Connor’s question was about to arrive adamantly and in list form. “Well, for one, you’re a director now.”

“It’s just a title, like mister or lieutenant,” Connor argued. He knew he should at least try to keep the heat in his veins away from his voice—if he made a big deal about his name, her radar would surely start to ping, full-bore. But come on. Was she seriously trying to tell him how to have his own staff address him? “What people call me isn’t going to affect how I do the job.”

“The title still matters,” she replied. That she’d controlled her words with near-surgical precision didn’t make them any less of an argument. She gestured to the hallway over his shoulder, leading out to the clinic beyond. “All those physician’s assistants and nurses and staff members out there? You’re their boss now.”

Oh, here we fucking go. “So? That doesn’t make me better than they are.”

Harlow surprised him by conceding. Sort of. “No, it doesn’t. But you’re still in a position of power. Business hierarchies exist for a reason, and titles are part of that. How your staff perceives you is going to have a direct impact on your ability to manage them.”

Finally, one (and only one) thing on which they could agree. “I know I’m kind of new to this side of things, but I promise, my ability to manage the staff will be just fine. And since they are mine to manage as the director of ops”—he made sure his tone turned it into enough of a riiiiight? to make it a point and not flat-out provocation before adding—“Connor it is.”

He gestured to the center of the scrubs he purposely hadn’t changed out of, and after a beat, Harlow sat back against her office chair.

“Suit yourself, I suppose. At any rate, I didn’t expect to see you down here so soon.”

“What can I say?” Connor shrugged amiably. “I’m full of surprises.”

That is an understatement.”



Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet and hot and edgy romantic suspense. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to Γ©clairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a USA Today best-selling author and a 2016 and 2015 RWA RITA® finalist and 2014 Bookseller’s Best nominee who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. Kimberly resides in Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.


Connect with Kimberly:

Stay up to date with Kimberly by joining her mailing list: http://bit.ly/2WwXAKW


Have you read any of the books in Kimberly Kincaid's Remington Medical series?

Do you enjoy hospital/medical romances?

Are you as excited to read Connor's story as I am?

One person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, July 16 will receive a Kindle copy of book one in the Remington Medical series: Back to You