Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Review - - Sugar Pine Trail

Sugar Pine Trail
By RaeAnne Thayne
Publisher: Harlequin / HQN
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Reviewed by Janga

Julia Winston has always lived a quiet life. Adopted by an older couple, she grew up in an antique-filled historic home without even a dog to add a bit of disorder to her structured life. Except for her years away at college, Julia has lived in the huge Victorian house almost since birth. Immediately upon completing her training, she accepted her current job as a Haven Point librarian. With her mother’s death four months ago, Julia is alone except for her mother’s cats, Empress, Tabitha, and Audrey Hepburn, and she is finding the house big and lonely. When her parents were still alive, she turned the upstairs into a separate, large apartment to allow her a degree of independence. Her plan is to rent the apartment to help provide funds for the upkeep of her home. She did not expect her first tenant to be Jamie Caine, a good-looking charmer who has set all the female hearts in Haven Point aflutter, including Julia’s.

After leaving the Air Force, Jamie Caine accepted a job with the company his brother Aiden founded. Jamie is lead pilot for Caine Tech’s jet fleet. Caught between an expired apartment lease and a newly purchased condo that is unready for occupancy and reluctant to intrude on Aiden and his family, he needs a temporary home. His sister-in-law Eliza persuades her friend Julia to rent him the first floor of Winston House. Jamie, one of the younger members of the large, boisterous Caine clan, has led a life vastly different from Julia’s. Caine family gatherings are noisy, chaotic, and ever increasing in number as spouses and progeny are added. Jamie’s military career has led him around the world, and his current job, although based in Haven Point, keeps Jaimie traveling. Outgoing and lighthearted, at least superficially, Jamie is at first taken aback by his reserved landlady. She is not at all his type.

When Julia discovers two young brothers, eight-year-old Clinton and six-year-old Davy living alone, she begs social worker Wyn Bailey Emmett (Riverbend Road) to let her foster the boys until their mother or another relative is located. Since Julia’s offer keeps the boys together and in Haven Point with their friends and school, the overburdened Wyn pulls strings to make the placement possible. As Julia makes a home for the boys, Jamie, child-savvy from his brood of nieces and nephews, is drawn into the mix. The four quickly form a kind of family, enjoying meals and activities together and creating a strong bond of affection. Julia and Jamie develop an easy friendship complicated by a growing attraction. But Jamie’s reputation as a playboy and Julia’s conviction that she is not the kind of woman to hold his interest leave their relationship vulnerable when the family proves temporary. Can Julia believe in herself and in the happily-ever-after Jamie promises, or will Christmas in Winston House be a blue one for a solitary Julia?

RaeAnne Thayne introduced her Haven Point series with a book that linked her beloved Hope’s Crossing series with the new one and gave readers a Caine family Christmas with the geeky Aiden as hero. Almost three years later, her seventh Haven Point novel repeats that winning combination with the last Caine bachelor as the hero. I’m a huge Thayne fan generally, I particularly love her Christmas books, and I number the Caines among my favorite fictional families. It should then come as no surprise that I loved this book.

Julia’s reserve covers a great capacity for tenderness, and Jamie’s charm disguises a heavy burden of guilt. They are both sympathetic characters with layers that render them more complex than even family and friends realize. Clinton and Davy are endearing but believable kids whose story ends with a bittersweet twist that I was not expecting. Add Haven Point’s heartwarming appeal, appearances by familiar characters from the earlier books in the series, and the Caine family gathered en masse for another Christmas with Aiden and Eliza, and you have one of my top three Christmas books of 2017.

If you like sweet romance with humor and heart, one that makes Christmas more than sparkling lights, pretty ribbons, and mistletoe kisses, I highly recommend Sugar Pine Trail

Review - - The Way to London

By Alix Rickloff
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Reviewed by Hellie

Exiled spoiled socialite, Lucy Stanhope, sent back to England to live with her aunt, is dealing with her grief and new circumstances as she usually does: by running away and causing a circus in her wake, all while proclaiming she is doing exactly what she wants, as she always has. Faced with the grim reality that the horrors of World War II have left even her an orphan, Lucy wants to start over somewhere else, somewhere that doesn’t remind her of her mother. Hollywood, preferably. And the ticket to Hollywood lies in Mason Oliver, who happens to be in London for a few days before he returns home to L.A. Come hell or high water, Lucy is going to get to Mason and prove she is the actress he’s looking for--and she’ll do it while returning a young boy--and proven sidekick--Bill back to his mom.

But the road to London does not run smooth, certainly not during a war where the planes come nightly to bomb everything. And keeping an eye on one measly twelve-year-old turns out to be more challenging than she imagined. Worst, she has to call in help from one of the last people she wants to see, a former soldier and acquaintance, Corporal Michael McKeegan, one of the most truly decent people she’s ever met and one who seems to take her rudeness and sarcasm in stride. And one who seems determined to make her confront the things she doesn’t want to think about at all: her mother, family, and where she belongs.

I’ll be honest--it’s difficult to like Lucy. It becomes clear that Lucy doesn’t even like Lucy; and her behavior in contrast to the honorable and kind Michael makes you want to shake her more often than naught. But her tender behavior with Bill, the boy she is escorting to London on her lark to meet up with the movie director, shows the reader there is more to Lucy than meets the eye. And Michael shows a bit of a temper as well--so even guardian angels have ruffled feathers. At the same time, you get why Lucy behaves as she does. Her mother is literally the worst. Rabid wolves are kinder mothers, and Lucy reeks of a childhood in which she had to constantly compete for attention and failed. So as much as it was hard to like Lucy’s character, I found myself crying for her at the end...and for Bill...and for Michael, and very happy when things turned a corner to a happy ending had by all.

The people you meet on the way to London are wonderful--a score of other mothers (all better than Lucy’s) will make you laugh and cry and marvel at the steely strength of the women (and men) who lived through the Blitz. The shenanigans Bill gets up are enough to turn your hair gray, and it’s no wonder the lad was sent out to live in the country during the war if this was what he was like when he was living in London. Smoking, drinking, gambling, conning, faking illnesses, running away--honestly. Dickens couldn’t have written a wilier and sweeter young charmer. And then there is Michael. Oh, the odes I could write about that man. You’ll spend most of the book, I’m sure, thinking he doesn’t deserve to be saddled with a girl as ungrateful as Lucy--but can’t imagine him with anyone else. Not even the love of his life he was pining for when he was living back home.  

The writer’s voice--and Lucy’s--was vivid, well-paced, and rich with detail. I enjoy World War II era novels, and I always feel I learn something new about that time in London when I read them. I look forward to reading other books by this author--hopefully also in the WWII era. If, like me, you tend to judge heroines more harshly--and avoid books where the heroines are ‘unlikeable’ for stretches of time, I hear you. For the longest time while reading it, this book was a solid 3 for me, and this whole quest of getting to London got a little...long while she was behaving this way, but I have to say, it all adds up. As in, I don’t think I would have cried as much or been as happy with the ending if the author hadn’t taken us on this journey as Lucy learns what it means to be without a mother, but to finally realize what it means to have a real family and real belonging.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Review - - Someone to Wed

Someone to Wed
By Mary Balogh
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Reviewed by Janga

Alexander Westcott never expected to become Earl of Riverdale, and he is not happy to have inherited a neglected estate with the title but with no funds to restore the properties. Nevertheless, his keen sense of responsibility forces him to do his best by the land and his dependents at Brambledean Court who have suffered too long from the actions of an irresponsible, selfish lord. Alex admits to his mother and sister that marrying an heiress seems to be his only option, but recognizing the necessity of marrying for money did not prepare him for the bargain offered to him by a reclusive neighbor.

Wren Heyden is an enormously wealthy woman, having inherited a flourishing Staffordshire glassworks from her uncle. Despite her wealth, she has chosen to live the life of a recluse because of a birthmark that covers one side of her face. Wren is lonely and as her thirtieth birthday draws near, she becomes conscious of a desire for human warmth and companionship. She is looking for someone to wed, and in her logical fashion she has drawn up a list of five candidates. Her plan is to invite them to tea in turn. The first and second gentlemen on her list have proved unsuitable. It is at this point that the Earl of Riverdale arrives. He is not what she expects; he is too young and too handsome. Still, she makes her proposal: “Perhaps we could combine forces and each acquire what we want.”

Everything about his visit to his neighbor’s home astonishes Alex. He is shocked to find her alone except for a token chaperone when he arrives. He is surprised to have her greet him heavily veiled and in a darkened room. He is offended by her directness in monetary manners and by her suggestion of a marriage of convenience very like the one he was already contemplating. He is not bothered by her birthmark, which she sees as making her unmarriageable without her fortune, but he is disturbed by the complexities that he senses beneath Wren’s cold, controlled façade. Yet, he agrees to consider her proposal, but further meetings end with a mutual decision that they should part. And so they do. Alex returns to his London world and soon selects a potential bride; Wren returns to her business, even going to Staffordshire.

When Wren uncharacteristically decides to visit London, they meet again. Neither has been able to forget the other. As they spend time together, Alex begins to believe that Wren will allow him into her inner world, and Wren recognizes how unrealistic were her expectations of clinging to her reclusive life if she became Alex’s countess. With Alex at her side, the support of his large family, who welcome her warmly to their midst, and her own high courage, Wren confronts her fears and her past.

Someone to Wed is the third novel in Balogh’s Westcott series. In this one, the author takes the marriage of convenience trope and gives it a new twist as she pairs an unlikely couple in a match instigated by the heroine. She also takes a couple who could have turned readers off and makes them sympathetic and likable. In less skillful hands, Alex might have been one of those heroes too perfect to be believed. He is handsome, charming, honorable, and generous—and a good son and companionable brother. In fact, perfection is Wren’s first impression of him: “If she were to dream up the perfect hero for the perfect romantic fairy tale she could not do better than the very real man standing halfway across the room. . . . ” But Alex is saved from bland flawlessness by his own recognition of his faults. For example, he recognizes the inconsistency of his finding a proposal offensive when Wren makes it that would not have bothered him had he, or another man, made a similar proposal.

Wren as she is first introduced is so cool, isolated, and rational that she is not an emotionally attractive heroine. Balogh needs to make her reserved and socially awkward to reveal the effects of her extraordinary life. She compensates by making her such an interesting, mysterious character initially that the reader is hooked, and later, as Wren lets down her defensive walls, her natural warmth and her brave choices win the reader’s heart. I also loved Wren’s insistence on her personhood. She says to Alex, quite early in the story: “If I must choose between being a person and being a typical woman of our times, Lord Riverdale, I would choose personhood without hesitation.” Even when she embraces her womanhood, Wren insists on her personhood. A large part of Alex’s appeal is that he recognizes her personhood and respects her autonomy even after she becomes his wife.

Admittedly, the pace of the book is slow. Alex and Wren’s story is about as far from insta-lust as a romance can be. They meet and part and meet again and gradually come to understand their feelings for each other. They don’t so much fall in love as they grow in love. This is one of the things I valued most in this book, having read a surfeit of books based on a romance variation of Caesar’s description of victory: I saw, I lusted, I came. A book in a Balogh series invites readers into a world in which all the characters in the series—and occasionally characters from another series—reside. Most of the Westcotts and their connections make an appearance in this book, and, of course, new characters are introduced. I find such rich contexts appealing. I even loved that Camille and Joel and their family (Someone to Hold), living happily in Bath, earn a mention and Wren anticipates meeting them. And I thought Colin, Wren’s rediscovered brother, was delightful. I hope to see more of him. Other readers may feel that the large family distracts from the central love story, just as some readers may long for a more rapid pace. I see these qualities as strengths.

Balogh is quite simply one of the most gifted authors in the romance genre. She has been giving her readers memorable, engaging, character-driven stories for more than three decades, and the Westcott series confirms that she continues her record of excellence. I enthusiastically recommend Someone to Wed. I am already counting the days (six months to go) to the release of the next Westcott story: Someone to Care, the story of Viola Kingsley, the countess who was not a countess and who is now a forty-year-old grandmother. Now that’s a rare heroine!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Review - - Holiday Wishes

Holiday Wishes
By Jill Shalvis
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Reviewed by Janga

Two weeks before Christmas the Heartbreaker Bay tribe is packed into a fourteen-passenger van, headed for a “bachelor/bachelorette party weekend extravaganza” for Pru Harris and Finn O’Riley (Sweet Little Lies) at a Napa Valley bed & breakfast to be followed by their wedding the next week at a nearby winery. Sean O’Riley is stressed. As the younger, once irresponsible, brother, he is unaccustomed to being the man in charge. But he is the one responsible for seeing that all the details are just what will make the bride happy. Sean, fully aware of how much he owes his big brother, is determined not to let Finn down. He thinks he is prepared for anything, but he is surprised when the innkeeper in the Santa hat turns out to be Lotti Hartford whom he last saw ten years ago when the two of them, sixteen-year-old high school students at the time, lost their virginity together.

Charlotte Hartford is not happy to see Sean. He was her first love as well as her first lover—and the first to break her heart. Lotti remembers all too well the look on Sean’s face when she said, “I love you,” and she remembers the phone calls and letters to which he never responded. Sean has been the feature attraction in her fantasies and the reason she maintains an emotional distance from the men she dates ever since. She can’t deny that the grown-up Sean is even hotter than the teenage boy who has haunted her memories. She may allow this Sean into her bed, but she won’t allow him into her heart. But what if this time Sean is ready for forever?

Jill Shalvis has already given her readers one of the best contemporary romances of this holiday season in Chasing Christmas Eve. In Holiday Wishes, she adds the bonus gift of a novella in the same series. Pru and Finn’s wedding week turns into the start of Sean’s HEA with his first girl, the one who was there for him in those months after his parents’ deaths. Their story is brief, but it is filled with the humor, the sweetness and the steam that Shalvis’s fans expect from her.

The focus is clearly on Sean and Lotti, so Holiday Wishes can be read as a standalone. But for readers who have not followed the series, the novella may seem as packed as that van Sean rents. On the other hand, fans of the series will enjoy celebrating Pru and Finn’s wedding with all the gang. They are all part of the party—Willa and Keane (The Trouble with Mistletoe), Ella and Archer (Accidentally on Purpose), Colbie and Spence (Chasing Christmas Eve), Kylie, Tina, and Joe Malone (whose book, About That Kiss, will be released January 23). Fans will feel like guests joining some of their favorite people, but new readers may be overwhelmed. If you have loved the other Heartbreaker Bay books, especially the first one, grab a copy ASAP. At $.99, it is an inexpensive and delicious Christmas treat. But if you have not read the earlier books, I recommend you at least read Sweet Little Lies first.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Review - - Such a Pretty Girl

Such A Pretty Girl
By Tess Diamond
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Reviewed by Nancy Northcott

Such a Pretty Girl revolves around FBI ace profiler Grace Sinclair, who writes crime novels on the side. Her career is going well until a serial killer starts murdering women who look like her. As her team rallies around to protect her and catch the murderer, they race to figure out their quarry’s identity before he kills again.

The newest recruit on the team complicates the situation for Grace.  She and Special Agent Gavin Walker had a one-night stand two years previously.  Determined to avoid entanglements, Grace seldom indulges in more than that with a man.  But seeing Gavin again reminds her what drew her to him in the first place.

As she and Gavin spend time together, the sparks between them rekindle.  But they know the killer will eventually target Grace.  Even after they figure out his identity, he eludes their efforts to catch him. Matters reach a desperate pass when he kidnaps someone close to Grace.

Can they set a trap to lure him in? Or will time run out for his latest victim?

Grace and Gavin are sympathetic characters and are easy to root for.  The other members of Grace’s team are drawn in enough detail to let the reader know them but not so much as to bog down the action.  Such a Pretty Girl includes references to earlier cases worked by this team, and Diamond provides enough to understand the early situation in the context of the present one without explaining everything about it.

The villain’s motivation is believable and clearly explained but not predictable or easy to spot. The FBI team work together as a competent and interesting ensemble.

In general, the story moves well. It’s a bit slow at the beginning because there are a couple of places where chunks of backstory drop into conversations.  When that happens, I always wonder what Character B is doing while Character A is mentally running through all of this. After the first couple of chapters, though, that isn’t a problem. The resolution seems to come on a bit quickly, but it works.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Cover Reveal - - Marriage with a Proper Stranger

Karyn Gerrard has been a regular here at The Romance Dish since we opened the doors back in 2009. It's been fun to watch her journey over the years from enthusiastic romance reader to published romance author. Today, I'm excited to reveal the beautiful cover of Karyn's next book, Marriage with a Proper Stranger, the first in her new Men of Wollstonecraft Hall historical romance series! 

I'm a fan of the marriage of convenience trope so, of course, I'm looking forward to this book.

I'm also intrigued by the prospect of a beta, schoolmaster hero. I don't believe I've read one before. Have you?

by Karyn Gerrard
(Men of Wollstonecraft Hall #1) 
Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press Feb 6, 2018

“Build a wall about your heart.”

Riordan Wollstonecraft labors under the heavy burden of his forebears. For generations, a curse has followed the dashing young men of his family, guaranteeing the women they love an untimely death.  The youngest grandson of the Earl of Wollstonecraft Hall, charismatic Riordan is quietly resigned to his fate, an educator who devotes his life to good works, and ignores any longing for something more . . .

Widowed and penniless, Lady Sabrina Lakeside is desperate to avoid a second forced betrothal—this time to an aged marquess. Her chance encounter with Riordan leads her to an impulsive offer: a temporary marriage of convenience that could benefit them both. His agreement is as surprising as it is welcome. Before long, Riordan’s keen intellect and kind words have Sabrina rethinking her plans of a union in name only. But her new husband is holding something back. Will giving in to their tantalizing passion lead her only to further heartache . . . or could it be the first step toward healing them both?

✔︎Sexy beta hero
✔︎Grandson to an earl
✔︎Schoolmaster with a progressive soul
✔︎Loves children and kittens
✔︎Knight in shining armour

“What have we here?” Mr. Black asked, his blue eyes twinkling with amusement.
“Luncheon. Please. Open it and help yourself.”
Mr. Black got to his feet, picked up a nearby chair, and carried it to the front of his desk. “Have a seat, my lady.”
As she made herself comfortable, Mr. Black unpacked the lunch. “Cold salmon sandwiches. A rare treat. Cheese, biscuits, sliced strawberries.” He held up a jar. “And lemonade. Shall I serve?”
Sabrina nodded, and Mr. Black quickly loaded food onto the stoneware plates, passing one to her along with a paper napkin. He took his seat, bit into the sandwich and smiled. “Very tasty.”
“I believe Mrs. Kempson adds dill weed to the salmon mixture. There are four dozen ginger biscuits for the children. For teatime this afternoon.”
“No teatime, I’m afraid. The children work until five.” Mr. Black finished his sandwich and reached for another wedge. Goodness, she should have brought more food.
“There should be a break, at least in my opinion, to rest or play for ten minutes. Or have a biscuit. Or an apple.” Sabrina pointed to the basket of fruit by his desk. “Do you provide them yourself or does this board you spoke of?”
“I paid for this, but am hoping it will become part of the budget. Many of the children have little enough to eat, and an apple can provide many needed nutrients.” He poured them glasses of lemonade. “I must say I like your idea of a break. Ten minutes. It would be a recess from learning, to allow for play or quiet time or to eat a ginger biscuit. Thank you for bringing them.”
His words were cordially spoken and despite her determination not to react to this man, her cheeks flushed. “Now that we’re settled in, what do you wish to discuss with me?” he asked.
Lord, where to begin? Finishing her sandwich, she dabbed the corners of her mouth and laid the napkin on the plate. “I recently came out of mourning. My late husband, the earl, did not provide for me in his will. His heir and nephew tossed me out and I had no choice but to return to my father.”
Mr. Black frowned. “I am sorry this happened to you. It’s a travesty women do not have any rights whether inside of marriage or out.”
“No, we do not. None at all. My hateful father no longer wishes to provide for me as he has his own plans to remarry. To paraphrase, he does not wish his widowed, ancient daughter lurking about the house.”
Mr. Black’s mouth quirked with amusement. “You’re hardly doddering, my lady.”
“According to Society, I am. I’m thirty years of age. My father believes I’m only fit for old men. Pepperdon was more than thirty-five years older. I will not be forced into such a union again.” Sabrina exhaled. She had come this far. Might as well lay it all out. “The baron has given me an ultimatum. Marry another prehistoric peer or I will be left to find my own way in the world.”
Mr. Black’s friendly smile turned into a frown. “Damn. Pardon, my lady. I am sorry to hear this.”
“Good. Then you can aid me by marrying me. Right away.”

MARRIAGE WITH A PROPER STRANGER (Men of Wollstonecraft Hall #1) Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press Feb 6, 2018
SCANDAL WITH A SINFUL SCOT (Men of Wollstonecraft Hall #2) Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press June 5, 2018
LOVE WITH A NOTORIOUS RAKE (Men of Wollstonecraft Hall #3) Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press Dec 2018

Reserve your copy now!


(Men of Wollstonecraft Hall #2) 
Publisher: Kensington/Lyrical Press  
Release Date: June 5th, 2018 

“You must lock away your heart at all costs.”

Falling in love was the darkest moment of Garrett Wollstonecraft’s privileged youth, even as he and Abigail Hughes shared a blissful summer of passionate promise. Sworn to keep Abigail safe from the curse plaguing generations of Wollstonecraft men, Garrett sacrificed his future happiness. Now, fourteen years after he lost his heart, Abigail reenters his life. But the woman who arrives unannounced at his ancestral manor is very different from the sheltered girl Garrett once knew.

The widow of a country doctor, Abigail can’t forgive Garrett for his cruel rejection. Yet she can no longer keep the truth from him—a secret that could have resulted in her ruin. But as the embers of desire reignite, and Abigail and Garrett slowly rebuild trust, a malicious enemy plots against them. Is their love strong enough to break free from the sins of the past—and to end the tragic cycle that consigns Garrett to a life of loneliness?

Cover coming soon!


Karyn Gerrard, born and raised in the Maritime Provinces of Eastern Canada, now makes her home in a small town in Northwestern Ontario. When she’s not cheering on the Red Sox or travelling in the summer with her teacher husband, she writes, reads romance, and drinks copious amounts of Earl Grey tea. 

 Even at a young age Karyn’s storytelling skills were apparent, thrilling her fellow Girl Guides with off-the-cuff horror stories around the campfire. A multi-published author, she loves to write sensual historical and contemporaries. Tortured heroes are an absolute must. 

 As long as she can avoid being hit by a runaway moose in her wilderness paradise she assumes everything is golden. Karyn’s been happily married for a long time to her own hero. His encouragement and loving support keeps her moving forward.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Review - - Wanted: A Mom for Christmas

Wanted: A Mom for Christmas
By Lee Kilraine
Publisher: Kensington / Lyrical Press
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Reviewed by Janga

Hawk Savage has been a single father since the death of his wife Holly seven years earlier. He is devoted to his two children, ten-year-old Heather and eight-year-old Henry Lee, better known as “HL.” Fatherhood was less difficult when they were younger, but with shy, sensitive Heather approaching puberty and insisting that she cannot be the only girl in fourth grade not wearing a bra and livewire HL declaring he is too old for Pokémon cards and footed pajamas but not too old to ask Santa for a mommy, Hawk is stressed. It doesn’t help that he has a headache that could mean he is coming down with the flu that is raging through Climax, NC.

Nora Joy, Olympic silver medalist in beach volleyball and two-time Sports Illustrated cover star, is looking forward to going for the gold when she is sidelined by a rotator cuff injury that could be career-ending. To add a storm of insults to her injury, she finds her boyfriend and best friend/partner in bed together, discovers that her mother/manager has spent all the endorsement money Nora thought was safely invested, and learns that said mother is resigning as Nora’s manager to manage the betraying partner. An eviction notice sets Nora applying for jobs in sixteen states, but things seem hopeless until Rent-A-Mom sends her to Climax, NC, to a motherless family in need of help. Nora is sadly lacking in Mom skills, but she seizes the opportunity anyway.

Climax is Nora’s hometown, and the family she is sent to help is that of her former boyfriend and first lover, Jackson “Hawk” Savage. Fourteen years earlier Nora and Hawk were quite an item, but Hawk has no room for a former love in his life. He never heard of Rent-A-Mom, and he is ready to send Nora packing just as soon as he recovers from the flu and then just as soon as the rest of his fellow cops recover so he can stop working double shifts and then . . .

HL is convinced that Nora is the mommy Santa has in mind for him. Heather is a bit slower to warm up to Nora, but soon the two are bonding over girl stuff. Hawk is falling for her again, body and soul. As for Nora, all three Savages are winning her heart. But Nora can’t believe that she is mother material. It will take a common enemy, Reindeer Games, and love too strong to resist to persuade Nora that she is an essential part of Team Savage now and forever.

This is another funny, sweet Christmas romance that seems designed to be turned into a Hallmark movie. It was also my first book by this author. It is the fifth book in the Cates Brothers series, but I had no problem reading it as a standalone. Nora and Hawk and his children are all appealing characters. Their story often made me laugh and left me misty-eyed a few times. The humor is character-driven, and the interactions among the key characters had a lot of charm. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you are looking for another sentimental, seasonal contemporary romance to add to your TBR stack, this one may be the perfect early Christmas indulgence.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Review - - A Family for Christmas

A Family for Christmas
By Tara Taylor Quinn
Publisher: Harlequin / Superromance
Release Date: November 1, 2017
Reviewed by Janga
Quinn gives fans another story centered around The Lemonade Stand, a women’s shelter in Santa Raquel, California. This thirteenth novel in the long-running series focuses on two love stories, connected but taking place many miles apart.

Dr. Simon Walsh, a top pediatric thoracic surgeon in Los Angeles, suffered damage to an optic nerve in a vicious attack. His doctors have told him that it will be six months to a year before the full extent of the damage is clear. He chooses to leave LA and retreat to an isolated cabin in Prospector, Nevada, while he waits to learn if his injury will mean the end of his career. When he stumbles across the body of a badly beaten woman, he feels compelled to help her, but she will accept his help only if he agrees not to report her injuries.

The woman, who identifies herself only as Cara, is not certain she wants to survive. Abused physically and emotionally by her husband for years, she has endured out of love for her daughter. Now she believes her daughter is dead, and life has lost its purpose. Slowly, under Simon’s care, Cara’s physical wounds heal, and Simon’s gentleness and generosity begin the healing process for her battered spirit as well. When news comes that Joy is alive, Cara dares to hope for a new life.

Meanwhile, in Santa Raquel, Edward Mantle struggles to connect with seven-year-old Joy, the traumatized granddaughter he has only recently met. At the same time, he is monitoring the search for his estranged daughter Cara who is missing. Authorities fear she has been killed by her husband Shawn Amos, who has been charged with beating his sister to death. Edward finds strength in his friendship with Lila McDaniels, managing director of The Lemonade Stand. Lila yearns to help Edward, but she cannot allow her feelings for him to move beyond friendship. She is convinced that an event in her past makes her unworthy of love.

Christmas is a season for forgiveness, reconciliation, and miracles wrought by love. Will it be the season that all these troubled souls find wholeness and family again?

This story is closely connected to For Joy’s Sake, the book that immediately precedes it. Although A Family for Christmas can be read as a standalone, readers whose hearts were wrenched by Joy’s plight in the earlier book will be particularly interested in this one. It is a dark book filled with deeply wounded characters. The darkness is somehow deeper because the wounds were inflicted, some deliberately and some through misunderstanding, by those who should have been sources of love and support. It is easy to feel liking and sympathy for these characters, but some readers may find it a stretch to believe that all their problems can be so simply resolved. Others will accept that in a romance—and a Christmas romance, at that—the unbelievable can happen.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Cover Reveal and Giveaway - - A Reckless Redemption

I'm a huge fan of Laura Trentham's Cottonbloom and Falcon Football contemporary romance series but I haven't yet read her historical romances. This seems like the perfect time to dive in with the upcoming December 5th release of A Reckless Redemption, the third book in Trentham's Spies and Lovers series. 

A Reckless Redemption
by Laura Trentham
Series: Spies and Lovers, #3
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: December 5, 2017

Can a single night’s deception lead to a lifelong love?

On the eve of her wedding to a man she detests, Brynmore McCann can think of only one way to escape—by ruining herself—but the local lads leave her wholly uninspired. Just as she’s ready to accept her fate, she spots Maxwell Drake, home after nearly a decade. Even though he had loved her sister when they were young, Bryn has always considered him hers and she can’t think of anyone she’d rather have bed her for the first time. Only she never intends for him to find out who she is.

Upon returning home, Maxwell is stunned by the news that his father may have left him an inheritance. As the unacknowledged by-blow of a local nobleman, Maxwell struggles with resentment over the way he and his mother were treated by his father and the village. To add to his troubles, he discovers the lass he spent an incredibly satisfying night with was not the village whore, but the high-born sister of his first love. He insists Brynmore travel with him to Edinburgh until they determine if she is with child. Because if she is, she’ll marry him whether she wants to or not.

Along the road to Edinburgh, they are attacked by persons unknown. As the list of suspects who want them dead grows longer and his worries deepen, Maxwell prepares for an even more personal battle—how to keep from surrendering his heart to Brynmore.

Warning: Contains a broody Scotsman, a fiery-haired lass, and a night of passion that changes everything. Readers are encouraged to bring a fan.

A man’s murmur rose through the occasional nicker and whinny. For a long moment, Bryn stood still, letting the cadence soothe her like a wild pony. The deep, rich voice mesmerized her, and she found herself under its spell, moving inexorably closer to the open stall. She peered around the door to see a man rubbing down his horse with sweeping, graceful strokes of a blanket.

He exchanged blanket with brush and methodically groomed the horse’s flanks, all the while talking nonsense to his besotted mount. The low timbre of his voice lilted with a Scot’s brogue. The horse nuzzled the man during his ministrations. A greatcoat and brimmed hat kept his identity a secret.

The edge of his coat and boots were muddy and road-worn but of excellent quality. How had such a fine gentleman ended up in such an out of the way village as Cragian? For her wedding? Why then wasn’t he at the house with all the other kowtowers?

He circled to the horse’s opposite flank, and she caught sight of the lower half of his face. Weakness crawled into her knees, and her stomach took a fearless leap. She knew him.

Dark stubble covered a strong, square jaw. In juxtaposition, his mouth was sensuous, the bottom lip full and curled up in a smile as if caring for his horse was a pleasure and not a chore. Something deep inside of her, something she hadn’t even known was lying dormant, stirred to life after almost ten years.

It would be this man or no one. The man who’d once loved her sister. The man she’d loved from afar for too many years. Maxwell Drake. The Fates had made her decision.

Book 1: An Indecent Invitation

Book 2: A Brazen Bargain

An award-winning author, Laura Trentham was born and raised in a small town in Tennessee. Although, she loved English and reading in high school, she was convinced an English degree equated to starvation. She chose the next most logical major—Chemical Engineering—and worked in a hard hat and steel toed boots for several years.

She writes sexy, small town contemporaries and smoking hot Regency historicals. KISS ME THAT WAY, Cottonbloom Book 1, won the Stiletto Contest for Best Long Contemporary and finaled in the National Readers Choice Award. THEN HE KISSED ME, Cottonbloom Book 2, was named an Amazon Best Romance of 2016 and was a finalist for the National Excellence for Romance Fiction. TILL I KISSED YOU, Cottonbloom Book 3, is a finalist in the Maggie contest. LEAVE THE NIGHT ON, the latest Cottonbloom book, was named an iBooks Best Book of the Month and a Recommended Read from NPR.

When not lost in a cozy Southern town or Regency England, she's shuttling kids to soccer, helping with homework, and avoiding the Mt. Everest-sized pile of laundry that is almost as big as the to-be-read pile of books on her nightstand.

Visit her at or connect on Twitter at @LauraTrentham or on Facebook ( or Pinterest (


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