Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Review - - Her Night With the Duke

Her Night With the Duke
by Diana Quincy
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: September 29, 2020
Reviewed by PJ
 


Desire knows no reason...

When Lady Delilah Chambers finds herself stranded at a country inn on a rain-swept evening, she’s forced to fend off a group of ruffians with the help of a handsome gentleman. Irresistibly drawn to each other, Leela and the stranger spend one reckless night in each others’ arms—and then go their separate ways. But the very next day Leela receives the shock of her life when she meets the duke who is set on wedding her beloved stepdaughter.

When it finds two destined hearts...

One night isn’t enough with a woman as fierce, fiery, and brilliant as Leela. Elliot Townsend, Duke of Huntington, cannot believe his good fortune when their chance encounter leads to an unforgettable evening of passion. Yet Hunt’s luck runs out when he is introduced to his prospective mother-in-law. Dowagers aren’t supposed to look like this... 

Leela and Hunt are determined to keep each other at arm’s length, which should be easy enough for two intelligent adults with reputations to uphold. The problem is all logic is lost when it comes to a passion that refuses to be ignored.


PJ's Thoughts:


What a breath of fresh air this novel is! With vividly depicted characters, emotional depth, fiery passion, and enough twists to keep me guessing until the very end, Quincy has penned a novel that captured my interest and kept me involved from start to finish. 


Leela is a treasure. She is the heart of this book and one of my favorite romance heroines this year. I love her strength, her intelligence, and her hard-won independence. I love her adventurous spirit, her confidence in her value, and her refusal to accept less than she is worth. I especially enjoy how Leela embraces the heritage of her Arab mother that was denied her while growing up. This is an "own voices" novel with Quincy exploring the history, culture, and cuisine of the heritage she shares with her heroine. 


I also love how Leela embraces the passion between Hunt and herself during their agreed upon night together, but places a higher value on the bond of love and trust she shares with her stepdaughter, Tori, once she discovers Tori is to become Hunt's betrothed.  


Hunt is stunned by the passion he shares with Leela but bound to her stepdaughter by his honor, even though he barely knows the girl, as well as his determination to outrun his family's reckless reputation. His heart knows what it wants but his head, and stuffy English bias, disagree, especially after certain facts come to light. He has quite a growth arc in front of him if he has any hope of being worthy of Leela's love.


There are several colorful secondary characters who enrich the story but my favorite is Tori. What a surprise she is! Her relationship with Leela is not that of a typical fictional stepmother-stepdaughter. Instead of an adversarial relationship, these two share deep love, deep liking, and mutual respect. I love how they support one another, no matter what. It's not hard to see from whom Tori gained her unexpected independence and strength of character. I enjoyed her journey almost as much as I did Leela's. 


 


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Winners - - Holiday Romance Giveaway

 



We have winners! 

Thank you to all of you who visited the blog over the weekend and entered our fabulous Forever Holiday Romance Giveaway. I hope you will all give one - or more - of the featured authors a try. And come back to visit again soon!


The randomly chosen winners of a bundle of 

ALL the titles featured in the post are:

Kaitlyn Seelen

"I haven’t read any of these yet, but I love Debbie Mason and Annie Rains! I always enjoy a good anthology but I love contemporary romance stories. I’m so excited to begin my Christmas reading!"

and

Suzanne B

"Love holiday stories. Have not read any of these authors. Seeing it's snowing outside the mood is here!"


Congratulations to our winners!

Please send your full name and mailing address 

(with Forever Winner in the subject line) to:

theromancedish@gmail.com

no later than October 22, 2020.

If I do not hear from you by that date, I will choose a new winner.



Winner - - Susan Sands Q&A and Giveaway

 



The randomly chosen winner of a signed copy of

Christmas, Alabama by Susan Sands is:

Deb

Congratulations!

Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com




Review - - Bella Cigna

 

Bella Cigna
by Wendi Dass
Foreign Endearments - Book 1
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Release Date: September 30, 2020
Reviewed by Santa


Bella Cigna by Wendi Dass is a four star debut novel.
 

After losing everything, Sarah Flynn decides to take her friend’s advice and ventures to an entirely different continent to find herself, a bit of adventure and, in the end, love, or should we say amore. 

Let me rephrase that. She doesn’t lose everything as much as it is taken out of her very hands. After two year of trying to conceive through many different procedures, she gets a call from a fertility clinic willing to work with her and her husband. This is their chance! She quit her job as a teacher to work for a federal agency in order to make more money so they could afford all those procedures! She excitedly runs home to tell her husband Phillip - who advised they take a three month break from it all - only to find him packing up his things and heading out the door to another woman! Needless to say, she is heartbroken and retreats to her mother’s home. 

Her friend, Meredith, encourages her to take a leap of faith and go abroad to teach for a year, to take some chances and open herself up to adventure. Why not! That is how Sarah arrives to teach nine year olds English at La Scuola della Santa Teresa. She is met by Anna, a fellow teacher, who takes her under her wing and gets her to spread her own.  

Sarah also meets Eduardo, the father of one of her students. Sarah finds it difficult to believe someone like him could be interested in her. But he sees her as beautiful both inside and out even if she does not quite believe him. After all, her husband had seen her as less than perfect but Eduardo sees her as a bella cigna - a beautiful swan. To him, she is perfetta - perfect. This is Sarah’s journey across an ocean to find and love herself - and Eduardo. 

I highly recommend this debut novel to women’s fiction and romance readers everywhere!


Monday, October 19, 2020

Q&A and Giveaway with Susan Sands

 
Noel, Alabama
An Alabama Christmas Romance
by Susan Sands
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Release Date: October 19, 2020 
 


She’s finally come home, but will she choose to stay?


After twelve years spent building her career in Los Angeles, Bailey Boone returns home to Ministry, Alabama, weeks before Christmas with a large cast and crew. She’s desperate for a miracle to save her company’s big budget holiday film that just lost its winter wonderland location. Bailey may have bolted from Ministry before the ink on her diploma dried, but her hometown definitely knows how to throw an unforgettable southern Christmas. Except she forgot about the ghosts of Christmas past she left behind—especially her first love, Seth.

Sheriff Seth McKay never forgot the girl he let go so many years ago. They were soulmates, but he knew Bailey needed more than Ministry could offer. Now she’s back and more stunning and confident than ever. Despite the years, their connection and chemistry still burn bright. Can Seth find his own Christmas miracle and convince Bailey to write her story in Ministry...with him?

Welcome, Susan! Congratulations on the release of your newest Alabama novel. What should readers expect from Noel, Alabama?

Hi PJ! Thanks so much for having me on The Romance Dish today! First, readers can expect a clean read. This one is a little different from the others in that there is no kissing (until the end), no cussing, and no sexy time. This was by design. BUT, in some ways, it challenged me to compensate by upping my skills so you wouldn’t miss a thing! Bailey and Seth’s story is rich in setting, emotion, and all the fun of small town Alabama! Oh, and the movies!

This is such a feel-good, second-chance story. Second-chance romances are among my favorites to read. What draws you to this trope as an author?

I think we all have a whisper of fantasy in our bones. Not in reality, but fantasy. It’s so delicious to think, “what if…” Second chance romances are all about the way things might have been.

I really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at turning Ministry into a movie location. It felt very authentic. What kind of research did you do for those scenes? Have you visited a movie set?

I have a friend from college who works as a producer in Hollywood. He was invaluable with information about how all the things worked (who would be on set and how it all might look) on my “set” in this book. Remember the producer, Brad? Well, the real producer Brad read my book and sent corrections when I went rogue.  Also, Steel Magnolias was filmed in my college town when I was a senior. We got to watch all the glamour and fun of the sets and stars and how it all works.

This is your fifth book set in Ministry. Will there be more? Will Alexis find her happily ever after?

I don’t have the answer to this question yet! LOL!! But I loved Alexis and writing her story would be a pleasure!

The food in this book had my tummy begging to be fed. From the pizza to the chili to the fudge to the pot roast, I was on drool overload. Do you have a favorite comfort food or holiday treat recipe to share with us?

There is always a lot of food in my books. I love to cook. I’m happy to share an easy favorite:

This is a tried and true family favorite, and you can use lower fat cheese and ground beef to decrease the calorie and fat content should you desire.

Ma Ma Louis’s Casserole

(This is not a diet food)

Buy:

1 pkg. Egg noodles or other pasta

1lb. to 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef

Small block Velveeta or Mexican Velveeta

1 can Ro*tel

1 Tbsp. flour

1-2 cubes chicken or beef bouillon (whatever kind of concentrate you prefer)

Tony Chachere's seasoning to taste (or use onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper and dash red pepper.

1/2-1 tsp. Garlic (fresh, minced or powdered)

2 cups sharp cheddar

1 large yellow onion

Prepare:

Boil pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside.

Brown the meat, add onion, bullion, seasonings, and garlic. Cook until onions are wilted.

Add Ro*tel and Velveeta in small cubes.

Cook on low heat until cheese is melted.

Spray a deep casserole dish with non-stick spray and layer noodles, meat mixture and shredded cheddar until gone. Top with any remaining cheddar.

Baked in 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy casserole season!

Susan

 

Where can readers interact with you online?

Facebook

Twitter

Bookbub

Instagram

Goodreads


Let’s play a quick round of complete this sentence.

My favorite Christmas tradition is…Making and decorating cut-out Christmas cookies with my daughter…and whomever else will help!

A holiday sweet I’d eat a whole pan of is…fudge

The book I’m most eager to read is…Kimberly Belle’s Stranger in the Lake (loaded on my Kindle now)

The throwback movie I can’t resist watching again and again is…The Family Stone and The Grinch

The characteristic a hero must have to win my heart is…a great smile and an honest heart

 

Thank you for visiting with us today, Susan. Would you like to add anything else or ask our readers a question?

This was so much fun, PJ!

I love hearing about readers’ family holiday traditions or favorite holiday treats! I would love to give away a signed copy of my holiday novel, Christmas, Alabama to a commenter! (US)


Friday, October 16, 2020

Forever Publishing Holiday Romances & Giveaway Extravaganza




Do you feel the spirit? I do. The spirit of holiday romance! This year feels like it's lasted about 48 months already and we still have two more months to go. I'm more than ready for hot chocolate, holiday music, twinkling lights, and the humor, heart, and charm of a holiday happily-ever-after. Fortunately, the folks at Forever (part of Grand Central Publishing) have a bundle of new books ready to bring you all of that and more. Let's take a look!


The Buchanan sisters all share special childhood memories of their Aunt Sassy's beloved Juniper Inn. There, they frolicked in the snow, baked sugar cookies, and celebrated the town's annual Christmas extravaganza. They haven't been back to Colorado in nearly fifteen years, but when their aunt invites them for one last Christmas, they can't say no...  
With her ex-husband whisking her children away for the holiday, Dahlia decides it's time to do something for herself. Juniper Springs is just as beautiful as she remembers, but it's also full of surprises -- including the town's handsome doctor, who makes her feel like herself again for the first time in years.
To the outside world, baker Magnolia has the ideal marriage. Only the pain and sorrow of infertility have strained her relationship with her husband, perhaps beyond repair. But a holiday miracle is about to change her life.
After a whirlwind romance, youngest sister Rose is about to be married, but as the wedding draws near, she's unsettled by her fiancé's expectations that she become a society wife. Spending Christmas with her family could be a necessary reality check -- or the beginning of a brand-new happily ever after.
Thanks to the strength of their sisterhood, some mistletoe, and the love of their Aunt Sassy, the Buchanan sisters will discover what it is they truly want this Christmas.

PJ says... This women's fiction novel about three sisters, each at an emotional crossroads in her life, is garnering rave reviews from readers. I bought it the other day and am looking forward to meeting the Buchanan family. I enjoy stories that explore the bonds among sisters and Richardson can always be counted on the deliver an emotional read.

 

Can the magic of mistletoe bring together two busy single parents?

Mallory Maitland knows all too well what it's like to feel abandoned, which is why she's sworn never to give up on her two stepsons -- her late husband's children. But when the teens land in hot water, she's got a whole new problem: how to resist the caring and incredibly hot Chief of Police Gabriel Buchanan. All Mallory wants is to give the boys a magical holiday. She doesn't need the distraction of wondering what it would be like to kiss Gabriel under the mistletoe.

After his wife died, Gabriel left his job as an adrenaline-chasing New York City homicide detective to focus on raising his three sons. But back in Highland Falls, he doesn't have to go looking for trouble. It finds him -- in the form of a beautiful neighbor and her troublemaking stepchildren. With Gabriel's mother-in-law looking for any excuse to gain custody of his sons, Gabriel can't risk getting involved with Mallory, even though she's the only woman capable of making this Christmas -- and all the rest to come -- his best ever.

PJ says...As I said in my review (click here to read), I adored this book. There's so much emotional depth. I wanted to wrap my arms around the characters and hug them tight, especially six-year-old Teddy. Along with the emotion that accompanies some serious issues, Mason also laces this story with a heartwarming, lighthearted touch. She's an author who transitions seamlessly from heart-wrenching to hilarious while immersing readers in the lives of her vividly and realistically depicted characters. I cried, sighed, and laughed out loud as I accompanied these characters on their journey to a holiday happily-ever-after. Christmas on Reindeer Road is one of my favorite books of 2020.



The holidays are served up with some spice in this small-town romance featuring a woman who must maintain a secret identity and the man who begins falling for her.

This Christmas, all Mayor Kevin Hadley wants is to give his five-year-old son whatever his heart desires. Only Tad has fallen head over holly for his pretty, sweet-as-sugarplum teacher. When attraction sparks between Kevin and Mary Margaret, the single dad thinks she may be the answer to his and his son's dreams. But after Mary Margaret reluctantly turns him down, Kevin decides it's time to embark on a new campaign -- one for Mary Margaret's heart.
Mary Margaret Sneed usually spends her holiday baking and caroling with her students. Yet this year, she's swapped shortbread and sleigh bells for a second job to pay off her late husband's debts. Mary Margaret would love to go tree trimming with Kevin and his son, but she won't risk his political future with her controversial side gig. Only the town's meddling matchmakers have determined there's nothing a little mistletoe can't fix . . . and if the Widows Club has their way, Mary Margaret and Kevin may just get the best Christmas gift of all this year.
*Includes a bonus novella by Hope Ramsay.

PJ says...I'm really enjoying this new series from Melinda Curtis. It seems like everyone in town has an opinion about the newest couple in the sights of the matchmaking Widows Club. Kevin and Mary Margaret are both stepping outside their comfort zones this holiday season due to events not of their making and there are more than a few unexpected obstacles on their journey to love. Filled with humor, wit, meddling matchmakers, and an unlikely pair who not only discover love but also themselves, A Very Merry Match is another entertaining installment in Curtis' Sunshine Valley series. 



The Perfect Christmas
 by Carolyn Brown
 Rugged cowboy Landon Griffin can't help being smitten by single mom Dixie Boudreaux and her baby girl. To help win their hearts, he wants to give them both the perfect holiday at Longhorn Ranch -- baking cookies, trimming the tree, building snowmen, and the whole works. But when nothing seems to go right, he might need a Christmas miracle to help him out of the mess.
Joy to the World by Hope Ramsay Retired music teacher Brenda McMillan has lost her holiday spirit, but reluctantly agrees to fill in for the director of the Magnolia Harbor Christmas Chorale -- even though Dr. James Killough, the town's biggest Christmas enthusiast, is the group's accompanist. Will he have enough Christmas magic to mend her broken heart?
Home for the Holidays by Rochelle Alers Pastry chef Iris Nelson is looking forward to spending Christmas on Cavanaugh Island with her best friend's family. But she wasn't expecting to celebrate with their very handsome visitor on leave from Afghanistan. Is their attraction just the glow of the season or a gift to enjoy forever?
A Christmas Cowboy at Heart by A.J. Pine For Deputy Sheriff Daniela Garcia, no hometown tradition makes her happier than the Meadow Valley Holiday Light Parade. This year she's planning for the sheriff's office to have the most dazzling lights. But when the new mayor -- and certified grinch -- threatens to cancel the event, Dani will have to show him the true meaning of Christmas.

PJ says...I enjoy anthologies all year but especially during the winter holiday season. As busy I get, I love that I can grab an anthology and have a selection of quick novellas to fill the time while waiting in line, between baking batches of cookies, or curled up in bed when I can't quite fall asleep yet. I haven't read A Little Country Christmas yet but with stories by four authors who I always enjoy, it will be hitting my Kindle soon. 

 

A delightful holiday romance about a small-town single dad and an animal rescue owner as they try to find forever homes for a dozen lovable pups before Christmas.

Pine Hollow has everything Ally Gilmore could wish for in a holiday break: gently falling snow in a charming small town and time with her family. Then she learns some Grinch has pulled the funding for her family's rescue shelter, and now she has only four weeks to find new homes for a dozen dogs! But when she confronts her Scroogey councilman nemesis, Ally finds he's far more reasonable -- and handsome -- than she ever expected.
As the guardian of his dog-obsessed ten-year-old niece, Ben West doesn't have time to build a cuddly reputation. But he does feel guilty about the shelter closing. So he proposes a truce with Ally, agreeing to help her adopt out the pups. As the two spend more time together, the town's gossip is spreading faster than Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve. And soon Ben is hoping he can convince Ally that Pine Hollow is her home for the holidays. . . and the whole year through.

PJ says...Anybody who knows me half a minute knows I can't resist a dog of any type, real or fictional. Twelve adorable pups looking for homes by Christmas? Count me in! This one is waiting for me on my Kindle. 
 


A beautiful story about 
the magic of childhood Christmas memories, the strength of family and falling in love when you least expect it.

Carrie Blake loves her job as a nanny but, while her friends are settling down, all of Carrie’s spare time is spent with other people’s families. Though it breaks her heart, her New Year’s resolution is to embark on a new career and fix her love life.
As Carrie starts her last job, she’s sure she’ll be going out on a high – the house is amazing, the kids are adorable, and she’s in charge of decorating the tree!
The only problem could be her boss… Single dad Adam Fletcher might be both handsome and successful, but he’s always working. Doesn’t he realise he’s missing out on precious moments with his son and daughter?
As Adam’s family arrive for Christmas, including his sensitive sister, Sharon, and his fun-loving, elderly Grandpa, Walter, Carrie realises that she might just have found the perfect allies in her quest to persuade Adam to loosen up. There’s still time for Carrie to make this the best Christmas ever… After all, Christmas is the time for miracles, isn’t it? Let the festivities begin!

PJ says...Doesn't this one sound lovely? I haven't read Jenny Hale yet but A Christmas to Remember seems like the perfect place to begin. 



Tis the season for love


For single father Granger Fields, Christmas is his busiest and most profitable time of the year. But when a fire devastates the Merry Mountain Tree Farm, he fears the season won't be holly or jolly unless he can convince free spirit Joy Benson to care for his two rambunctious daughters. Yet while Granger wants to focus on saving his business, Joy seems determined to shake up his family's Christmas with her festive ideas and merry making.

Joy is counting down the days until she can open her own art gallery. Babysitting Abby and Willow will help her reach her goal, and when inspiration strikes, Joy convinces Granger that her craft classes can bring even more holiday cheer to the farm. As crowds return and Joy's creative side flourishes, life with Granger and his girls begins to feel like home. But with Christmas coming nearer, can Joy convince Granger to open his heart again? Or will their newfound happiness be as fleeting as the newly fallen snow?

PJ says...I love Annie Rains' Sweetwater Springs. When I pick up a new book in this series I'm confident I'll be treated to a well-written story, set within a vibrant and supportive community, with likable characters, realistic challenges, emotional depth, and plenty of humor and heart. As with the earlier books, I was thoroughly charmed by Season of Joy. Don't let the fact that this is the 6th book in a series scare you off. It stands perfectly fine on its own. 

 

Past relationships and close quarters stir up old emotions, making Christmas the perfect time for a magical connection in this heartwarming second chance Amish romance.

Elsie Miller has witnessed -- and experienced -- Levi Wyse's forgetfulness too many times to count. But even after they broke things off, Elsie never forgot the handsome Amish toymaker or her love for him. So when Levi's sister asks her to help keep him organized for the busy Christmas season, Elsie agrees. But she didn't expect working alongside Levi to reignite those old feelings.

Secretly, Levi's heart will always belong to Elsie. But she deserves a better man, one who isn't so absentminded . . . or responsible for a terrible tragedy. Now, she's at his workshop every day and as Christmas draws near, his reasons for staying away become harder and harder to remember. Will the spirit of Christmas heal past hurts and give Elsie and Levi the greatest gift of all: a future together?

PJ says...I haven't read this book but it's receiving lovely reviews on Goodreads (it releases 10/27). If you enjoy emotional Christian romance set within an Amish community, you might want to give this one a try. 

~~~~~~~~~~~

Didn't I tell you this was a bundle to get excited about?  

Have you read any of the above books (or authors) yet? 

Do you begin your holiday romance reading when the books are released or do you save them for December?

What are your favorite types of holiday romances? Contemporary? Historical? Suspense? Christian? Women's Fiction? Anthology? All of the above? 😉

Where do you most enjoy reading holiday romances? I love to curl up with a holiday romance, cozy blanket, a mug of hot chocolate (laced with Kahlua), and twinkling Christmas tree lights. There's not much better after a long day of cookie baking, gift wrapping, and Christmas card writing. 

In the spirit of the season, Forever has generously offered today's incredible giveaway. Thank you, Forever! Follow them on social media @ReadForeverPub and @GrandCentralPub. 

Two randomly chosen people who post a comment before 11:00 PM (Eastern), October 19 will each receive a bundle of all eight titles featured in today's post.

*Must be 18
*Open to U.S. and Canadian addresses 


 

 



Thursday, October 15, 2020

Review - - The Magic of Christmas

 
The Magic of Christmas
by Christi Barth
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Release Date: October 15, 2020
Reviewed by PJ


It’s the opportunity she’s dreamed of…


After spending two years focused on her career, Rowan West is finally up for an advertising manager promotion. Holiday parties and gift-buying are on hold as Rowan travels to New Hampshire to create a marketing campaign that can revive a struggling, Christmas-themed resort and adventure park. Rowan’s brains and ambition make her shine, and she won’t allow anything to get in her way—especially not her far-too-handsome competitor with a sense of humor and high-up connections.

He needs to prove himself…

Jeremy Kincannon is competitive enough to fight tooth and nail for a promotion he doesn’t even want. Because his stepfather owns the company, no one believes he earned his spot despite having climbed up from the bottom like everyone else. He’s intrigued by his button-upped, business-only colleague who’s distractingly pretty. So he lays down a challenge—he’ll call a truce to their verbal sparring if she tries to have fun.

As their rivalry wanes and attraction grows, will Jeremy and Rowan embrace the magic of Christmas?

PJ's Thoughts:

I love a workplace, enemies-to-lovers romance. Even better when your nemesis turns out to be the complete opposite of what you believed. Toss in a head-to-head competition for a coveted promotion, forced proximity in a Christmas wonderland, a temporary corporate cease fire, and over the top holiday cheer, and you just may have the ingredients for a happy, heartwarming, holiday romance. And, with luck, perhaps a happily ever after.

I've always enjoyed Christi Barth's books. She has a knack for bringing both characters and the settings in which she places them to life. The Magic of Christmas is no exception. It sparkles with wit, humor, snappy dialogue, and undeniable attraction. Jeremy and Rowan are both complex, interesting characters who I enjoyed getting to know while the cast of secondary characters added warmth, humor, and wisdom along the way. Barth also tucked in a few surprises to keep things from becoming too predictable. I enjoyed both the journey and the ultimate destination. 

If you're looking for a charming holiday romance (I could so see this as a Hallmark movie) to put you in the Christmas spirit, give this one a try. 



Winners - - Kaylene Winters

 



The randomly chosen winners from my Q&A with

Kaylene Winters are:

Laurie G
(Print or e-book copy of ENDLESS)

and

Martha Lawson
(Print or e-book copy of LIMITLESS)

Congratulations!

Please send your choice of format and mailing information to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com



Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Review - - A California Christmas

A California Christmas
by Brenda Novak
Silver Springs - Book 7
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Reviewed by PJ



Up-and-coming TV anchor Emery Bliss can’t imagine anything more humiliating than the sex tape her ex revenge-posted online. That is, until it causes her to lose her job on top of her self-esteem. Seeking solace—and anonymity—in Silver Springs, Emery isn’t looking to get involved with another man any time soon. But when she’s thrown back into contact with Dallas Turner, she sees something that his many detractors have missed.


Being home for the holidays and his adoptive mother’s wedding isn’t where mountain climber Dallas feels most comfortable. Thanks to his troubled childhood, he’d rather be on a rock face alone than trying to connect with people. Emery, however, makes him want to overcome his past…somehow.

Both Emery and Dallas had been planning on a quiet, solitary Christmas, but the sparks between them are lighting a fire strong enough to last—possibly forever.

PJ's Thoughts:

This is one emotional story. Emery's ex-boyfriend/co-anchor has really put her through the wringer, personally and professionally. She's returned to Silver Springs to hide and to heal, not to begin a new relationship. Dallas has returned for his adoptive mother's wedding and isn't interested in a relationship either. Neither his career nor his past are conducive to letting anyone close to him emotionally. Physically, on the other hand...

I really liked these two together. I enjoyed the friendship they formed and the desire between them that threatened to erupt. I could feel Emery's shame and anger over what had been done to her. It was both healing and empowering to watch her regain her strength and dignity with Dallas's help. And Dallas. He's a good guy but so closed off. My heart hurt so much for the pain that little boy inside him had endured. If anybody deserved a happy ending, it was him. 

Both Dallas and Emery were wonderfully complex characters that Novak slowly revealed to readers with a skilled hand. There's also a bit of a mystery woven into the story with a few twists I didn't see coming. There are also other relationship threads that I'm guessing are from earlier books in the series. I haven't read those books yet and at times I did feel as though I would have had a better understanding of Dallas's adopted family and their back stories had I already read those books. Which I plan to do now.


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Review - - Noel, Alabama: An Alabama Christmas

 

Noel, Alabama
An Alabama Christmas Romance
by Susan Sands
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Release Date: October 19, 2020
Reviewed by PJ
 


She’s finally come home, but will she choose to stay?


After twelve years spent building her career in Los Angeles, Bailey Boone returns home to Ministry, Alabama, weeks before Christmas with a large cast and crew. She’s desperate for a miracle to save her company’s big budget holiday film that just lost its winter wonderland location. Bailey may have bolted from Ministry before the ink on her diploma dried, but her hometown definitely knows how to throw an unforgettable southern Christmas. Except she forgot about the ghosts of Christmas past she left behind—especially her first love, Seth.

Sheriff Seth McKay never forgot the girl he let go so many years ago. They were soulmates, but he knew Bailey needed more than Ministry could offer. Now she’s back and more stunning and confident than ever. Despite the years, their connection and chemistry still burn bright. Can Seth find his own Christmas miracle and convince Bailey to write her story in Ministry...with him?

PJ's Thoughts:

Ministry sure knows how to celebrate Christmas! Susan Sands returns readers to her small Alabama town for another delicious slice of Christmas romance pie. Whenever I begin reading one of the books in this series it's not long before I forget this isn't a real town and immerse myself in the lives, and loves, of her characters.

Bailey and Seth just may be my favorite couple of this series. Their story of coming home and second chances really tugged at my heartstrings. They are both such good, likable people. I appreciated the fact that even though hearts were broken when Bailey left to pursue her dreams, there was no animosity when she returned with the movie crew. The bond between Seth and Bailey may have been stretched to its limits but it had never broken. My heart ached for Bailey as she was finally given the tools to explore her past and the connection she never knew of before. This trip home, for her, was not only about reconnecting with Seth, but also about reconnecting with her younger self, with the dreams of her youth, and forging a path for the future. And Seth. ::sigh:: Who wouldn't love a guy who is so supportive, so encouraging, so loving? He's not perfect (hey, who is) but he sure is perfect for Bailey. I loved him for wanting to build a future with her but I loved him more for wanting her to build the future that was right for her. 

The secondary cast only adds to the richness, humor, and heart of the story. I adored Bailey's dad and Seth's mom. I want to have tea and shortbread with the darling Mrs. Wiggins (I'll take the side door, thank you very much - you'll understand after you read the book). I want to hang out with Alexis (maybe some of her organizational skills and style will rub off). The thought of Seth's mom's delicious pizza has me drooling and I want a pan of that fudge for myself, please. I want to sing carols at the tree lighting, enjoy a mug of hot chocolate with the locals, catch up with all of my "friends" and celebrate the newest happily ever after in Ministry, Alabama. 

If you're looking for a sweet, heartwarming Christmas romance filled with humor, Southern charm, relatable characters, emotional depth, and happy endings, pick up a copy of Noel, Alabama. While this is part of a series and fans will enjoy glimpses of favorite characters from earlier books, readers new to Ministry will be able to jump right in with no worries of being lost or confused. 

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Have you read Susan Sands yet?

What holiday treat would you eat a whole pan of?




Monday, October 12, 2020

Spotlight, Q&A, Giveaway - - Kaylene Winter's Less Than Zero Rockstar Romance Series

 
For anyone who has had a crush on a rock star, these books are for you. For anyone who enjoys multi-layered characters, complex relationships, and emotional roller coasters, these books are for you. For anyone who wonders what life in - and out - of the spotlight is like for superstar band members, these books are for you. Kaylene Winters' characters are authentic, complex, and fully formed, with realistic personal, career, and relationship challenges. Their journeys are a full-immersion experience. Once I started reading, I was hooked. There was no way I was going to put these books down until I reached the end. 



ENDLESS: A Less Than Zero Rockstar Romance
Book 1: Ty and Zoey
Release Date: June 26, 2020

Ty:
It's my only chance to make it. To escape my abusive childhood. A new album and tour with my band family are weeks away. Success and stardom are all but guaranteed. Then I saw Zoey at our biggest show, and everything changed in a instant. She's my soulmate. My lover. My best friend. 

Zoey:
Ty is my one and only true love. I never imagined feeling so loved, cherished and adored. Then he said he'd give it all up and I couldn't stand in his way. So I ghosted him, only so he'd be free to follow his dream. Now the world sings along to his anthems about me. The girl who never wanted the spotlight.

Their reunion is explosive.

On so many levels. Ty's not proud of the man he became. Zoey has to live with her own bad decisions. With so many forces keeping them apart...

Will they find redemption? Will they ever be able to forgive each other and move on?


LIMITLESS: A Less Than Zero Rockstar Romance
Book 2: Jace and Alex
Release Date: October 9, 2020

Jace:
"She snuck up on me and stole my heart..."

Sexy Viking drummer Jace Deveraux used his genius marketing skills to help propel Less than Zero (LTZ) to the top. Friends-with-benefits was the only thing he was capable of. Until free-spirited social media influencer Alexandria LeRoux made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Their secret, spontaneous global hookups were decadent, erotic, extraordinary. For the first time in his life, Jace wants it all. Including a future with Alex. Will one fateful night destroy his chance with her forever?

Alex:
"I'll travel the world for him..."

Ethereal animal lover Alex had one goal in mind: conquer playboy Jace before they both left Seattle. Her plans for him certainly didn't include forever. But their first time was so sublime, it ruined her for anyone else. What's a girl to do? Enjoy him in as many countries as possible, that's what. Except Alex has her own dreams and they're already in motion. 

Will Jace ever follow her for a change?

Their lives orbit on different courses, but gravity always seems to pull them back together...

Unless a blast from the past blows their chance to smithereens. 
 

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  Q&A with Kaylene Winter

Welcome, Kaylene! It was lovely to “meet” you at this year’s virtual RWA conference.

It was sincerely my pleasure, I’m so excited to connect with other romance fans.

Congratulations on the publication of the first two books in your debut series. What should readers expect from the Less Than Zero Rockstar romances?

Thank you so much! It is very surreal. A year ago it was just an idea, and now the reality is better than I imagined. When I read something, I want to feel something. I want to know the characters, or feel like they could be people I’m friends with. Of course, for me all romance should be STEAMY but feature integrity, true love, twists and turns, heartfelt emotion and, of course, a rockstar setting that hopefully makes you feel like you are right there with the LTZ guys and their beautiful, feisty loves. I like to get a little social justice in there, not too preachy hopefully. In Endless I tackle arts education in schools and for underserved youth. In Limitless, we explore animal rescue and what I’ll call a “reverse” Bill Cosby situation.

I read both ENDLESS (book one) and LIMITLESS (book two) in one sitting each. They were a total immersion experience, mostly due to the authentic feel of both the characters and the world in which they live. Please tell us a bit about your background and how your experiences contributed to the creation of your fictional world.

From an early age I was fascinated by music and musicians. As a teenager, my friends and I were so obsessed I wrote my first “rockstar romance” about our fantasy boyfriends, and we’d giggle and read it each night as I wrote more pages.

Fast forward to my college and new adult years, and I was knee-deep in the Seattle music scene. Grunge music is what Seattle is known for in many ways, and I worked with many of the bands that everyone associates with that scene. I was on the front line watching our bands rise up from the clubs to worldwide superstardom.

Music has continued to be a big part of my life, but more on the cutting edge of digital media and entertainment on the business side of things. When I began reading romance again about a decade ago, I discovered that the “Rockstar Romance” genre was a thing! I devoured everything I could find.  

It makes me so happy that you picked up on the authenticity (although these are NOT biographies or real-life situations) – I have pulled from so many of my own experiences and those that I have witnessed to create what I hope is an immersive world of LTZ.

By the time I finished LIMITLESS, I was fully invested in all four members of the band. When can we expect Connor’s and Zane’s stories to be published? Are you able to tell us anything about them?

OOOH!  I’m halfway done with FEARLESS, Connor and Ronni’s story. Connor is a powerful, strong man (with a bit of Irish brogue) whose background and story will explain a lot of why Alex and Zoey think he’s a bit broody. Ronni is AMAZING, she’s strong, capable and overcomes a lot of situations that other Hollywood actresses have had to face. I’ll leave it at that.  I’m shooting for a March release.

Zane and Fiona will be out sometime next summer, hopefully. I’m not going to reveal too much yet, but suffice it to say – I think that everyone will adore him. And her, of course.

In bigger news, I’m going to be releasing a “prequel” in between LIMITLESS and FEARLESS – this will be Carter’s story. It will be a shorter story, but I think it will be a nice tie-in for the first two books and a great segue into the books that haven’t been released.

I’m not sure that after that I’ll be ready to leave LTZ behind – it is entirely possible that there might be “Part 2” novellas for each couple at the very least.

Let me assure you that I would be totally on board with Part 2 novellas! 

This series is set in your hometown of Seattle, Washington and your love for that area shines through. Please share with us what makes Seattle special and why it was the location of choice for your series?

Well, I think I explained it a bit above. Seattle is ultimately, a music city with a very strong, supportive community of musicians from all different genres. My friends are musicians, I represent musicians in my “day job” and I’m actually on the City of Seattle Music Commission to advocate for music business in Seattle.

COVID has taken a toll on the arts generally, and music especially since you can’t really go out to see shows right now. I’d love to encourage people to support music in their own communities, because it is such an important part of all of our lives.

Where can readers find out more about your books and interact with you online?

I’m on all social media platforms, most active on Facebook and Instagram. If you visit my website at https://rockerromance.com/ you can sign up for my newsletter (which gives you REAL behind the scenes stuff from back in the day) and interact with me on social media. 

Let’s play a quick round of complete this sentence.

On crisp autumn days, my favorite thing to do is… Walk my beautiful Siberian husky, Boudi through the fall leaves.

When I’m craving something sweet, I reach for… Peanut butter and chocolate. Every. Damn. Time.

The book I’m most eager to read is… I’ll shout out to my favorite authors: Mari Carr, Kennedy Ryan, Carian Cole, Cari Quinn, Taryn Elliott, Jaine Diamond, Michelle Mankin – and one of my new discoveries LJ Shen. The minute they put out a book, I’m in.

When I’m not writing, you’ll most likely find me… Running my other business and hanging out with my husband and Boudi.

The musical artist (or song) that can always get me dancing is…Van Halen (with David Lee Roth, of course)

The characteristic a hero must have to win my heart is… Two things – I like my men to be very “manly” but also not afraid to love with every fiber of their being. I think I’m describing my own husband!

 

Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Kaylene! Would you like to add anything else or ask my readers a question?

I think that’s everything, thank you so much for loving my LTZ world – I’d love for your readers to hit me up on social, join mymailing list and feel free to contact me directly!  I love hearing from everyone!


Kaylene has graciously offered two giveaways for our readers. So tell me, who is/was your rock star crush? Do you have a favorite band or musical group? What song or musical artist gets you dancing? 

One randomly chosen person posting a comment before 11:00 PM, October 13 will receive a signed print copy or digital copy of ENDLESS (winner's choice).

One randomly chosen person posting a comment before 11:00 PM, October 13 will receive a digital copy or print copy of LIMITLESS (winner's choice).

*Must be 18


Links to interact with Kaylene online and purchase her books: