Saturday, August 24, 2019

Review - - The One Who Stays


The One Who Stays
by Toni Blake
A Summer Island Novel - Book 1
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Reviewed by PJ
    


Summer Island has always been home to Meg Sloan. She runs the Summerbrook Inn, like her grandmother did, and she loves the laid-back pace of life and the close-knit community the island offers. Meg also loves Zack Sheppard, but what she doesn’t love is Zack’s refusal to commit to an exclusive relationship.

Seth Darden arrives on Summer Island in search of summer work, but also in search of something else—his past. There are secrets buried at the Summerbrook Inn, secrets that forged the path of Seth’s life. But he wasn’t counting on falling for the lovely innkeeper, Meg.

When Meg meets Seth, she can’t ignore the sparks that fly between them, even though she feels like her heart has been torn in half. But if Zack won’t commit, should she take the leap with Seth? And can she even have a future with him if he can’t reckon with his past?


My thoughts:

Toni Blake is an author whose books I've enjoyed over the years. More than a few sit on my keeper shelves so I was excited to hear that she was embarking upon a new contemporary romance series. The One Who Stays, a slow-paced, small-town story launches her A Summer Island series and left me with mixed feelings. I'm not sure if this book is intended to be a contemporary romance or a women's fiction story so I'll approach it from both perspectives.

As a romance, the story left me wanting more. I knew pretty early on which of the two men in Meg's life I preferred but I was never convinced that Meg's ultimate decision came from a place of deep, genuine, "I can't live without him" love. They have a solid friendship but I wanted more romantic development, more emotional depth between them. I like them both and I'm hopeful that their relationship will continue to evolve throughout the series and that I'll have that certainty by the end.

As a coming of age, women's fiction novel, I enjoyed it very much. Because, even though Meg is almost forty, because of past events that impacted her life, this is in many ways her coming of age. She's just now beginning to figure out what she wants from life, and gathering the courage to go after it. Zack and Seth are both on journeys of their own, and both play critical roles in Meg's journey, as do Meg's close friends on the island, but her main source of guidance comes from the diary that appears during the renovation of her inn. Giving her unexpected insights into her beloved grandmother's life as a young woman, her diary provides both a link to the woman who was so instrumental in Meg's life and a blueprint to aid Meg in figuring out her own life. 

Blake does a good job of creating the laid-back environment of Northern Michigan's islands and the close-knit community of individuals who live there year-round. The supporting cast is interesting, with color provided by quirky islanders, and intriguing newcomers with past baggage, and a few secrets, that will undoubtedly be unraveled in the books to come. 

Book two in the series, The Giving Heart, is scheduled to be released October 29 and features Meg's sister, Lila and real estate developer, Beck in a Christmas romance. I already have it on pre-order. But the book I'm most intrigued by is The Love We Keep, third in the series and scheduled for release January 28, 2020. I have a suspicion that one will be overflowing with all the "feels." 


On which side of the book fence do you fall: Women's Fiction or Contemporary Romance? Or do you enjoy both?

Have you ever read Toni Blake?

How do you feel about love triangles?

One person who comments before 11:00 PM, August 25, will receive a signed, print copy of The One Who Stays. (U.S. addresses only)


Friday, August 23, 2019

Review - - The Me I Used to Be


The Me I Used to Be
by Jennifer Ryan
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: July 2, 2019
Reviewed by PJ
    


An inheritance she never expected…
After serving time for a crime she didn’t commit, Evangeline returns home to discover her father left her solely responsible for the family’s failing ranch, her mother blames her for her father’s death, and her brothers want her out of their way. With her family’s future squarely on her shoulders, she desperately searches for ways to save their home—before they lose everything.
A chance to right past mistakes…
Her only ally, Chris Chambers. The cop who sent her away is positive she took the fall for someone else. And if she helps him track down the real criminals, he’ll clear her record. But the closer Evangeline and Chris get to exposing the truth—and to each other—the deeper Evangeline is drawn into a dangerous sting that will finally bring her justice and pave the way for a bright future.

My thoughts:

Jennifer Ryan's gritty, suspense-filled, and deeply emotional romantic suspense books are auto-buys for me so I was understandably curious when I heard she was writing a standalone women's fiction novel. I wasn't sure what to expect when I began reading The Me I Used to Be. What I got was another keeper that lured me in and kept my emotions engaged from beginning to end. 

Ryan is very skilled at creating complex, multi-layered characters then putting them in situations that test their courage and their resolve. Such is the case with Evangeline. My heart broke for what she had been through and what she faces when she returns home. This is her journey but she isn't the only character who grows and changes. It's also her family's journey as they grapple with the truths that are finally revealed and the consequences of actions that were taken. And it's Chris's journey as well as he battles to right past wrongs, to see justice finally served, and to, hopefully, build a future with the woman who continues to impress him every day with her strength, courage, heart, and ability to forgive and move forward. 

Dysfunctional families, second chances, danger, suspense, emotional depth, and romance. You'll find all that and more in this deeply satisfying page-turner from Jennifer Ryan.  





Thursday, August 22, 2019

Review - - The Duchess in His Bed


The Duchess in His Bed
by Lorraine Heath
Sins for all Seasons - Book 4
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: August 20, 2019
Reviewed by PJ
    



For a duchess with practical desires, falling in love is an inconceivable part of her plan…
 As owner of the Elysium Club which caters to women’s fantasies, Aiden Trewlove is accustomed to introducing adventurous ladies to sin and vice. But he is uncharacteristically intrigued by the mysterious beauty who visits his club one night, yearning to indulge in the forbidden—with him. Drawn to her indomitable spirit, he breaks his rule of never becoming personally involved with his clientele and is determined to fully awaken her desires.
A recent widow, Selena Sheffield, Duchess of Lushing, has never known passion, not until Aiden’s slow, sensual seduction leads her on a journey of discovery and incredible pleasure. But her reasons for visiting the notorious club are not all that they seem.
As Selena’s motives become complicated by love, she finds herself with a most unexpected choice: forge ahead with a secret plan that could secure her future—or follow her heart which could prove ruinous.

My thoughts:

Lorraine Heath is one of my favorite historical romance authors and the Sins for all Seasons books rank among my favorites that she has written. The first three books have all been five star reads for me, with the last one earning a Top Dish rating. The Duchess in His Bed, while very good, didn't quite hit the same mark. 

I've been anticipating Aiden's story and he was everything I had hoped for: loving, loyal, sensual, and protective. His emotional journey is littered with peaks and valleys and I was there with him for them all. Which probably goes a long way toward explaining why I didn't connect with his heroine, Selena for much of the book. While I sympathized with her position, and understood how her family's expectations had shaped her, I had a real problem with her dogged determination to continue her deception after she begins to know the real Aiden, the person behind the persona, and realizes the impact her actions will have on him. There's one particular scene where Heath walks a tight line between "this is where she begins to change" and "I'm done. Book, meet wall." I'll be honest; it was a close call. It was my faith in the author that kept me reading and she didn't let me down but it wasn't until the last quarter of the book that I actually began to forgive the heroine for her actions and believe that she might be worthy of a happy ending with the hero. 

The other Trewlove siblings, and their partners, make appearances, helping to move the story forward as well as allowing readers to catch up with their ongoing relationships. We're also given a peek into what younger sister, Fancy is up to. Her book is next and I'm excited to see what Heath has in store for her. 

If you've read Finn's book, The Scoundrel in Her Bed, you've already met the monster who sired both Finn and Aiden. You'll see more of him in The Duchess in His Bed and, let's just say, he hasn't changed his ways. But, never fear, justice is served up in the best possible way by the best possible person, in one of the best "revenge is sweet" scenes I've ever read. I would have bought the book for this scene alone. Lorraine Heath may look sweet in her photos but the woman has a deliciously devious mind when it comes to her writing and I love it!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Review - - Deadly Secret


Deadly Secret
by TJ Logan
O'Halleran Security International - Book 1
Publisher: TJL Creative Works, LLC
Release Date: August 21, 2019
Reviewed by PJ
  


He steps into the shadows to pursue a killer…

F.B.I. Special Agent Beckett O’Halleran values Family, Honor, and Loyalty. A botched undercover assignment results in the brutal murder of his partner. When the killer is set free by a Deputy Director on the take, Beck walks away from the Bureau. He vows to stop at nothing to avenge his partner’s death, including using an innocent woman. 

She is dragged into the shadows by her mother’s past …

A deadly secret from the past threatens Gwendolyn Tamberley’s life. Thrust into the crosshairs of a merciless psychopath who will destroy anyone who threatens his empire, she becomes the center of a firestorm between the Russian mafia, the F.B.I. and a former agent hell-bent on retribution. 

Will deadly secrets destroy them?

Gwen’s only hope is the man who’s been deceiving her. And Beck must choose between his obsession with vengeance and the woman who’s come to mean everything to him.


My thoughts:

Make room on my auto-buy list for another author because I am all in for TJ Logan's super-sexy, family-loving, crime-fighting O'Hallerans! Logan gave me everything I enjoy in this fast-paced debut: action, danger, suspense, passion, fully-developed characters, a hard-won HEA, and enough intriguing family members for future stories to eagerly anticipate. 

Beck and Gwen are both characters who engaged my interest and my emotions. Logan does a good job of bringing them to life as well as balancing the evolution of their personal relationship with the intrigue and danger surrounding them. The danger is hard-hitting and readers should be prepared for some gritty, on-the-page violence during this battle to bring a cold-blooded psychopath to justice. I was on the edge of my seat much of the time, flipping pages as fast as I could to find out what would happen next. 

If you enjoy page-turners that keep you riveted to the action - and the romance - give Deadly Secret a try. I'm looking forward to more from this newly published author and have already pre-ordered the next two books in the series: Deadly Disciple (19 Sept.) and Deadly Deception (16 Oct.).  

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Review and Giveaway - - Britches Get Stitches by Elicia Hyder


Britches Get Stitches
by Elicia Hyder
Music City Rollers - Book 2
Publisher: Inkwell & Quill, LLC
Release Date: March 18, 2019
Reviewed by PJ
    


Best revenge on a cheating man?
A dozen eggs.
A stolen dog.
And a night with his very best friend.


After a two-year struggle to conceive ends with her husband getting another woman pregnant, Grace "Britches Get Stitches" Evans is taking out her frustrations on the roller derby track. Full-contact violence and absolutely no cheating men? Best divorce-support group ever. 

With the help of her teammates, Grace is reclaiming one piece of her broken heart at a time--starting with the family dog, which she lost in the divorce. When the dognapping ends with a call to the police, the best revenge shows up at her door in the form of Officer Jason Bradley. He's hot. He loves animals. And he's her ex-husband's best friend. 

Then her ex does the unimaginable, threatening everything she has left as well as the new life she's started to build. Only Grace isn't the woman he kicked to the curb anymore. Derby has taught her a priceless lesson... 

How to hit back.


My thoughts:

I am having so much fun getting to know not only the sport of roller derby but also the community of friends Elicia Hyder has created within her Music City Rollers contemporary romance series. These women are so real, so relatable, and so easy to cheer for. I love how they empower one another, pick each other up when life knocks them down, and give one another a nudge - okay, a swift kick - when necessary, to get them back into the game. I want to hang out with them, go to their bouts, and jump up and down in the audience. I'm not getting anywhere near that track, though I have incredible admiration for the women who rock this sport.

Hyder has given Grace a multi-layered personal journey to travel following her (now ex) husband's betrayal. Her evolution is all-encompassing and I was there, encouraging her, at every step, as she rediscovers her passion for life...and love...along with her confidence, her strength, and her self-worth. It's a journey filled with laughter, anguish, devious revenge, more laughter, a few tears, and a sigh-inducing, dog-loving, hero who not only captured Grace's heart but mine as well. The supporting cast is all that and more, especially the college intern at Grace's shop, a snooty senior citizen customer with surprising depths, Grace's family (loved them but I would never accept an invitation to dinner!), and Bodhi, the adorable dog who might turn her into a felon (but it would be worth it). 

If you're looking for a fun journey with plenty of humor, heart, and female empowerment, I enthusiastically recommend Elicia Hyder's Britches Get Stitches. I don't know how many more books Hyder has planned for the ladies of the Music City Rollers but I know I'll be there for each and every one!

Have you ever watched roller derby?

Have you attended a live bout?

Do you roller skate? 

One person who comments before 11:00 PM, August 21, will receive a code for a free audio download of Britches Get Stitches





Monday, August 19, 2019

Review, Guest Post & Excerpt - - The Deception by Kat Martin



The Deception
by Kat Martin
Maximum Security - Book 2
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Reviewed by PJ
  


When missing turns to murdered, one woman's search for answers will take her to a place she never wanted to go… After searching for her sister for two long years, Kate Gallagher is devastated when she’s called to the morgue to identify Chrissy’s body, the runaway teen the victim of a brutal attack. Guilt and grief send Kate into a tailspin. She failed Chrissy once…she won’t do it again. Even if finding her sister’s killer means following a lethal bounty hunter into the heart of darkness, placing both their lives in danger. Working at Maximum Security has taken Jason Maddox down some dangerous paths, but never for a client he’s so drawn to, or for a case so monstrous. As clues lead them deeper into the city’s underbelly, connections to human trafficking draw them closer and closer to peril, but even Jase’s warnings can’t convince Kate to walk away. As the deadly operation puts a target on their backs, they’ll have to decide what matters most: the truth…or their lives.

My thoughts:

Kat Martin cranks up the heat, and the stakes, in this newest addition to her Maximum Security, romantic suspense series. Filled with non-stop action, edge-of-the-seat suspense, and twists and turns that had me guessing how it would all turn out until almost the end, this page-turner kept me reading late into the night. Jason and Kate are such a well-matched couple. I loved them in the bedroom (hot!) and in the field (where Kate really comes into her own). This is a story of growth, of connection, of determination to avenge a horrible death, to rescue innocents from the same fate, to discover your life's passion and, in the process, the person you're meant to share that life, and passion, with. 

Martin grabbed me from the first page, pulled me into a dark and gritty world of drugs, money laundering, and human trafficking, and kept me riveted until the end. Characters are well-developed, inciting emotional responses across the board. A sub-plot involving a young girl is especially riveting...and heart-wrenching. (content warning for underage human trafficking). It's an emotional roller-coaster with a hard-won, well-deserved, happy ending awaiting the good guys and a satisfying reckoning for the bad ones. 





Creating a Page Turner
by Kat Martin

“I couldn’t put it down!  Those words are some of the most satisfying comments an author can receive.  Nothing pleases me more than a note from someone grumbling about staying up late to finish one of my books.
It’s music to my ears. 
There are lots of ways to earn those precious words.  Writing a fast-paced novel is one of them.  It is certainly my goal every time I start a new book.
My latest, THE DECEPTION, was no different.  I knew I would be writing Hawk Maddox’s story.  Hawk had been on my mind since he first appeared in a previous novel, BEYOND DANGER.  I knew what he was like--strong, determined, tough as boot leather, and at six-foot-four, two-hundred-twenty pounds, a total beefcake hunk. 
He was also a bounty hunter, which made him an interesting character with an interesting job.  I always try to find the hero’s perfect match and Kate Gallagher was just right for Hawk.  Tall, blonde, and curvy, she loved country music and drinking tequila at the Sagebrush Saloon. 
But that was her secret side.  She also owned her own business consulting firm so she was smart and hard-working. 
I like to read books that draw me in and won’t let go, books I can’t wait to pick up again to find out what’s going to happen next.
There are lots of ways to do it.  Pairing down description makes the story move faster--or as Elmore Leonard once said, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.”  
A Hollywood movie trick is to jump right into the scene.  Leave out the, “Hello, how are you?”  “I’m fine, how are you?” and just start talking.  
I try to use hooks at the beginning and end of chapter,  though some authors end a chapter in the middle of the action to keep you turning the pages. 
I’ve found I do a lot of characterization by showing how the hero, heroine, and sub characters react in a situation, rather than telling about their past.  For instance, I don’t mention what the heroine did in high school unless it’s important to how she’ll solve the problem she’s facing.
These are a few of my techniques, though every author has his own style and there is nothing wrong with any of them as long as they work. 
In THE DECEPTION, Kate Gallagher is devastated when she learns her sister has been murdered.  Determined to find Chrissy’s killer, Kate hires lethal bounty hunter, Hawk Maddox.  Working together, they follow a trail of clues that lead them deep into the city’s underbelly.  Though Hawk warns Kate of the danger, nothing he says can convince Kate to walk away.
I hope you’ll watch for THE DECEPTION and that you find it a fast-paced, high-action page-turner.  Until next time, all best wishes and happy reading, Kat 


THE DECEPTION, by Kat Martin

Excerpt 1 of 5
Dallas, Texas
“I’m sorry, Ms. Gallagher.  I know this is terribly painful, but unless there’s someone else who can make a positive identification--“
Kate shook her head.  “No.  There’s no one else.”
“All right then, if you will please follow me.”  The medical examiner, Dr. Jerome Maxwell, a man in his fifties with thick black hair threaded with gray, started down the hall, but Kate stopped him with a hand on his arm. 
“Are you...are you completely sure it’s my sister?  The victim is definitely Christina Gallagher?”
“There was a fingerprint match to your missing sister.  I’m sorry.  We’ll still need your confirmation.”
Kate’s stomach rolled.  Her hand trembled as she followed the doctor down a narrow, endless hallway in the Dallas County morgue.  The echo of her high heels on the stark gray linoleum sent a sweep of nausea through her.  
The doctor paused outside a half glass door.  “I warn you, this is going to be difficult.  Are you sure there isn’t someone you can call, someone else who could make the identification?”
Kate’s throat tightened.  “My father’s remarried and living in New York.  He hasn’t seen Chrissy in years.” 
“And your mother?” the doctor asked kindly.
“She died of a heart attack a year after Chrissy ran away.”  For Madeleine Gallagher, losing both her husband and her daughter had simply been too much. 
The doctor straightened his square black glasses.  “Are you ready?” 
“I’ll never be ready to see my sister’s murdered body, Dr. Maxwell.  But I’m all Chrissy has, so let’s get it over with.”
The doctor opened the door and they walked out of a hallway that seemed overly warm into a room that was icy cold.  A shiver rushed over Kate’s skin and her heart beat faster.  As Dr. Maxwell moved toward a rollout table in front of a wall of cold-storage boxes, Kate could see the outline of a body beneath the stark white sheet. 
Emotion tightened her chest.  This was her baby sister, only sixteen the last time Kate had seen her two years ago, before she had run away.
The doctor nodded to a female assistant in a white lab coat standing next to the table, and the woman pulled back the sheet.
“Dear God.”  The bile rose in Kate’s throat.  She swayed and the doctor caught her arm to steady her.
“Is this your sister, Christina Gallagher?” 
Tears welled and slipped down her cheeks.  “It’s...it’s her.”
“I’m sorry for your loss,” the doctor said.  
“Thank...thank you.”  Tears blurred her vision and her head swam as she walked out of the building into the sunlight and crossed the parking lot to her car.  She wouldn’t be returning to her office today.  She needed time to grieve.
Kate slid in behind the wheel and shoved her key into the ignition.  Fresh pain struck so hard she couldn’t breathe.  Instead of starting the engine, Kate put her head down on the steering wheel and started to weep.

Jason Hawkins Maddox sat at the old fashioned long bar in the Sagebrush Saloon, a country western hangout with a juke box in the corner for dancing.  Tonight he was there on business, meeting an informant he hoped would give him a lead on the fugitive he was hunting, Randall Darren Harding. 
Harding, a cement contractor, had been arrested for the brutal murder of his ex-girlfriend.  He’d been out on bail when he’d decided to flee instead of standing trial, where most likely he would have been convicted.
From what Jase could find out, Harding was a rotten, self-centered, mean-tempered bastard, the kind who could wind up killing again.  He’d strangled his girlfriend in a fit of rage, but a fancy lawyer had gotten him out on bail. 
The reward for catching him was a fat fifteen percent of his million and a half dollar bond.  Jase planned to collect. 
Thus his meeting with Tommy Dieter at the Sagebrush Saloon.
It was relatively early, a little after nine p.m., but the place was already more than half full.  The d├ęcor was rustic, with a sea of wooden tables.  A big dance floor dominated the interior, the juke belting Willie Nelson for the couples that were
In the mirror in the carved oak back bar across from him, he could see himself on a bar stool next to a little guy in a blue Texas Rangers baseball cap.  The little guy made Jase look even bigger than his six-foot four-inch, two hundred twenty pound frame. 
So far Tommy hadn’t showed, but he wasn’t due for at least another hour.  In the meantime, Jase was enjoying the local scenery, his attention fixed on the tall blonde with the pretty face, sexy curves, and amazing cleavage, but then half the guys in the bar were watching her. 
In a short jeans skirt, a pair of cowboy boots, and a bright pink tank top, she had danced five times in a row.  If he weren’t there on business, he might ask her for a turn around the floor himself.  Jase watched the blonde dancing with a lanky biker too short for her, too skinny, and a few years too young. 
She wasn’t meant for the boy biker, but she was just Jase’s type, luscious, with legs that went on forever.  And as she slid her arms around the boy biker’s neck and he pulled her close, clearly uninhibited.  It didn’t take much to imagine the way she’d feel moving beneath him.
He picked up his beer and took a drink.  He’d been watching her all evening.  The good news was, she’d been watching him, too. 
When the song came to an end, she left the boy biker and walked right up to him, the heels on her boots pushing her closer to his height. 
She smiled.  “You like to dance, cowboy?”
“Depends.”
“On what?  The song?”
“Who I’m dancing with.”
A dark blond eyebrow went up.  “Is that right...”
“That’s right, darlin’, and you’ll do just fine.”  Without waiting for a reply, Jase swept her onto the dance floor.  She felt good in his arms, fit him just right.  She was a good dancer, but so was he.  He was a Texan.  He’d done all the usual things a Texas boy did.  Played football, drank beer down on the river, rode horses, and two-stepped.
“What’s your name?” he asked as he whirled her around the floor
“Kate.”  She smiled.  “You’re Hawk.”  Her smile widened into a grin that etched a dimple into her cheek and he felt a jolt of heat.  “I like it,”  she said.  “It’s sexy.”
“You think so?”  As the song came to an end, he drew her off the dance floor into the shadows, took a chance she wouldn’t slap his face, and kissed her. 
She softened against him and kissed him back, and he took it a little deeper, felt the rush hit his system.  Since they were standing in a bar full of people, he didn’t let it go too far.
Kate ran a finger along his jaw.  “You looked like you’d be a good kisser and you are,” she said.
“We can go outside and I’ll show you just how good I can be, but it’s gotta be up to you.”
Something flickered in her big brown eyes and for a moment her bright smile faded.  “I need that tonight.  Just this once, just to help me forget.”  Her bottom lip trembled an instant before her saucy grin returned.  “Come on, cowboy, let’s go.”







Purchase Links: 

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Friday, August 16, 2019

Review - - Between Me & You




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


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?


My thoughts:

This third book in Kimberly Kincaid's Remington Medical contemporary romance series brings a whole lot of heat, both in the bedroom and the boardroom, for this unlikely couple who couldn't be more different. Neither of them is happy to be tapped by the hospital to work together to attempt to right the sinking clinic that bears Harlow's late mother's name. She's all business, bottom line, and proving herself to her father. Connor's all about patient care and giving back to the community his father wronged. As a professional team, there are obstacles and clashes aplenty. Personally, the ever-growing desire between them threatens to flame out of control. Will they play with fire and get burned? Or, will they emerge from the flames stronger, individually and as a unit? Only reading the story will tell.




I have been impatiently waiting for Connor's story since book one. I mean, who wouldn't be intrigued by a big, tattooed, male nurse who reads romance novels, considers his closest co-workers his best friends and family of the heart, gives his all to his patients every single day, and is keeping a mysterious secret? I adored him. 

Prickly, self-contained Harlow took longer to warm up to and it was not solely through her interactions with Connor that that process began, though observing him with patients and staff certainly helped. Kincaid effectively uses an unexpected encounter with a battered patient and Harlow's burgeoning relationship with Connor's female doctor friends, her first real friendships with other women, for this complex, multi-layered character to begin to evolve, gradually opening her heart and mind to possibilities of a life beyond - or in concert with - her career. 

I have fallen hard for Kincaid's Remington Medical characters and their journeys to love, none of which has been easy but all of which have been sexy, sassy, deeply emotional, and completely sigh-worthy. You don't have to have read the first two books in the series to enjoy Between Me & You but I enthusiastically recommend them all. Now to begin the wait for Kimberly Kincaid to announce the lead characters of book four. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a certain female doctor and a former military, current romance novel cover model! 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Tour Review - - Call Her Mine





Call Her Mine
by Melissa Foster
Harmony Pointe - Book 1
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: August 13, 2019
Reviewed by PJ
  


Ben Dalton has always been honest, except where his heart is concerned. He’s been in love with his best friend—saucy, smart-mouthed Aurelia Stark—forever. But Ben’s a planner, and timing has never been on his side. When he finally decides to make his move, Aurelia beats him to the punch with a move of her own—to a different town.

Aurelia loves her new life in the charming town of Harmony Pointe. She has a great apartment and her very own bookstore, and best of all, the sinfully hot, commitment-phobic friend she’s crushed on for years is no longer just around the corner. Maybe she’ll finally be able to leave her unrequited love behind and move on.

But when a baby is left on Ben’s front porch—a baby that is presumably his—Aurelia is there for him. Neither one knows the first thing about babies, but how hard can it be? Ben and Aurelia are catapulted into a world of love, laughter, and tracking down the baby mama, and it might even add up to a very happily ever after… just not one either of them expects.


My thoughts:

We all have our favorite romance tropes. Friends to Lovers is one of mine and Call Her Mine is an good example of why I never tire of it. Readers are treated to a fun, sexy, and surprisingly emotional journey between two people who have been best friends since childhood and who have always harbored (secret) romantic feelings toward each other but have never acted upon those feelings. For Ben, it's always been bad timing (face it, Ben's timing truly sucks as do his reasons for a series of one-night stands), and they both fear that taking their friendship to the next level by declaring their feelings could potentially ruin what is their most treasured relationship. And then Foster tosses a major monkey wrench into their lives that turns everything upside down, strips them down emotionally and all those feelings come pouring out. What happens next is sexy, flirty, and laugh-out-loud funny, with an unexpected emotional twist that had the tears flowing but an HEA I could believe in. 

Ben and Aurelia are good people I liked and cheered for but their journey isn't without its issues. Ben has spent the past several years dropping his pants at the drop of a hat and his  reasons for all that meaningless sex made me angry. Man's got some growing to do - which he does - but not without a few cringe-worthy moments in the process where I would not have blamed Aurelia one bit for walking. The strength of this relationship is definitely tested. 

Foster guides them forward with all the hiccups, humor, and sigh-worthy moments one would expect when two life-long friends finally reveal, and accept, the romantic feelings the entire flippin' town has known they've carried for one another for years. She's created a strong family - and community - around them that adds texture and richness to the story. I adore Aurelia's grandmother as well as Ben's family and will be searching out the books that tell his sisters' stories. I'm also here for all of the Harmony Pointe stories that follow this one. 

Do you enjoy friends to lovers romances?

Have you read any of Melissa Foster's books?

What's your favorite romance trope?


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Melissa Foster Author Interview

1) ”If a woman can’t find love in the quaint town of Harmony Pointe, it’s sure to find them…” —this is the tagline for your newest series Harmony Pointe. Tell us a bit about the town and these women who are finding love.

I love writing about close-knit small towns, where gossip is ripe, and embarrassing tales of youthful rascals abound. Harmony Pointe is nestled between Sweetwater and Port Hudson, New York, not far from the city. It offers grand views of mountains as far as the eye could see. Cobblestone streets, brick-front eclectic shops, and old-fashioned street lights add to the small town’s charm. Readers who are familiar with my Sugar Lake series will recognize Harmony Pointe as Derek Grant’s hometown.

2) What was the idea that sparked the beginning of the series? 


I have been itching to write Ben Dalton and Aurelia Stark’s story since I first read about them in WILD BOYS AFTER DARK: LOGAN and BAD BOYS AFTER DARK: MICK (Billionaires After Dark series) and THE REAL THING (Sugar Lake series). Harmony Pointe is a Sugar Lake spin-off, and in the Sugar Lake series several of Ben’s siblings find love. It was finally Ben’s turn.

3) For longtime fans, can you tell us what this series has in common with your previous books? How is the series different from what you have written before?


Avid readers of my Love in Bloom series will have met Ben and Aurelia in several previous books and series. Their story is filled with humor and sexy times, and this one wallops the reader with an ugly-cry worthy punch. This family is very female centric, which is different than most of my other series. The exception is the Montgomerys, cousins to the Daltons, in which the males are also outnumbered. #GirlPower (Bradens & Mongtomerys series).

4) Why was it important that Ben and Aurelia launched this series in Call Her Mine?

Ben and Aurelia were too loud for me to ignore! They were finally ready to share.

5) There are friends-to-lovers romances and then there are Ben and Aurelia who are closer-than-close. Seriously, these two just about live in each other’s heads. What takes them so long to realize that they belong together?

Have you ever had a friend who you love so much that you can’t imagine life without them? I have. It instills a certain level of fear—what if you risk that friendship, lay your feelings on the line, and the other person doesn’t feel the same? True friends, the ones who “get” you, who accept you at your worst, bitchiest states, and at your best, are hard to come by. Risking the friendship is terrifying. I think this was the case for Ben and Aurelia—Plus there’s Ben and his damn planning...
That man made me crazy.
I love him so hard!

6) When romance finally (finally!) is in the cards for these two, they have one very tiny situation that turns up—Ben’s previously unknown infant daughter. What was it like to create an insta-family for this pair? 

It was so frigging fun I wish I could do it again! I loved every second of writing this book. I was able to strip Ben and Aurelia down to their most raw selves and emotions, and then watch as they found their new footings together. It was glorious.

7) While it is unfair to ask if you have a favorite hero, we’d love to know what makes Ben so special to you. 

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes—arrogant, funny, introverted, brilliant, average, overly serious, etc. Ben is like the guy you see sitting at the end of a bar in a fine suit and think he’s probably taken, or at the least too refined to be fun. And then he opens his mouth and melts you, or makes you laugh, at every turn. He’s protective, but not in a bullying way. Don’t even get me started with that man holding a tiny baby, falling in love with her page after page. I’ve got goosebumps just thinking about it. 




Melissa Foster is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of more than eighty books, including The Real Thing and Only for You (from her Sugar Lake series). Melissa and her books have been featured in USA TodayHagerstown magazine, The Patriot, and more. Her novel River of Love has been optioned for film by Passionflix. Melissa also writes sweet romance under the name Addison Cole. When Melissa isn’t writing up a storm, she’s living her own happily ever after with her husband and a gaggle of grown children. For more news, information about her books, and to chat with her, visit Melissa at www.MelissaFoster.com.

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