Friday, December 8, 2023

Review & Giveaway - - Christmas with a Cowboy

Christmas with a Cowboy
by Pam Mantovani
Cowboys of Burton Springs - Book 7
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Release Date: November 17, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

What do you get for the girl who has everything? A cowboy, of course.

Avery McClain is looking forward to her first Christmas in Montana with her little girl. But as soon as she arrives, she's caught in an unexpected tug of war between two ranchers wanting to buy the land left to her by her favorite uncle. All she wants to do is make the holiday special for daughter. But instead, she's overwhelmed with attempts to pressure her into selling. And she's uncomfortably attracted to one of the men competing for her property.

Judson Ford wants Avery McClain's land to expand his horse breeding operation. He didn't anticipate his attraction to her, or his admiration for her courage. And her little girl is so damn cute! Before he knows it, he's been swept up in her Christmas spirit. Suddenly, Avery and her daughter are filling all the empty spaces in his life.

But then, Avery is offered a job opportunity that would mean she'd have to relocate. And Judson realizes that everything in him is pushing him to ask her to stay and make a life—a family—with him.

Unfortunately, someone else has other ideas.

PJ's Thoughts:
This was my first novel by Pam Mantovani. While I didn't feel lost by jumping in at book 7 (it really does stand well on its own), I'm also excited to go back to the beginning and read books 1-6. I want to get to know all of the couples who reside in this small Montana town. 
I enjoy a second chance story and Mantovani has brought readers a good one with Christmas with a Cowboy. I empathized with Avery, a newly-divorced single mom looking for a new beginning with her three-year-old daughter on the ranch left to her by her uncle. I was with her every step of the way as she worked to figure out the right place to move forward. I loved the warm, welcoming nature of the people in her new town and the friendships made along the way. Meeting the secondary characters who ease her way made me eager to read their stories too.
I really liked Judson's openness with Avery. I would have had a harder time with their budding relationship if he had kept his ambitions from her. Still, there were some potholes and misunderstandings along the way but the author didn't let them go on for too long. I especially loved the relationship that developed between "Udson" and Avery's daughter. That little girl is adorable, wonderfully developed, and an important part of the story. Judson's father adds an additional layer of emotion that provides insight into some of the emotional baggage Judson carries as well as offering heartwarming layers to his relationship with Avery and her daughter.
In addition to the heart-tugging romance, Mantovani also spins a suspenseful thread that adds another layer to the story, keeping me guessing as to the perpetrator and their motivation. I would have enjoyed a bit more development of that portion of the book but I'm a romantic suspense afficionado. Others may think it's just right.
All in all, this was an enjoyable read that made me laugh, tear up a bit, cheer for the lead couple, lose my heart to a little girl, and sigh with delight. I'll be happily visiting the rest of the books in this series for more Montana happy endings. 

Have you read Pam Mantovani?
Do you enjoy a bit of suspense paired with contemporary romance?
What is it about Montana? I love romances set there. Do you?

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, December 13 will receive a signed print copy of Christmas with a Cowboy
*U.S. only
*Must be 18

The germs won...


Hello, everyone!

I'm sorry to say the flu virus has found me.

 The positive news is I have good meds and hopefully will start feeling

better within a week. 

The bad news is one of the effects of this virus is a debilitating headache.

I haven't been able to read and am not sure when I will be able to. 

Fingers crossed it won't be long. 

The reviews I've already written will be posted as scheduled in Coming Attractions.

However, those books I had not finished reading when this 

virus struck will be delayed. I'm so sorry.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Winner - - Coming Attractions


The randomly chosen winner

of a package of books is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Review & Giveaway - - The Cowboy Whisperer

The Cowboy Whisperer
by Sabrina Sol
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: November 28, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

When a champion equestrian butts heads with a sexy, brooding cowboy, the heat between them sizzles.

After her last disastrous competition went viral, Olympic hopeful Veronica del Valle spent three years healing – and hiding. Finally ready for another shot, Veronica agrees to train at an under-the-radar, family-run ranch in tiny Esperanza, California. The living accommodations? Sparse. High-end equestrian equipment? Zero. What Rancho Lindo does have is stable manager Tómas Ortega, a brooding, handsome cowboy who offers Veronica unsolicited advice during her training sessions. Advice that, infuriatingly, turns out to be right every time.

The only thing Tómas cares about are his horses and saving his family’s ranch—and not their new boarder, who makes it clear she’s not happy with his stables. So he’s shocked Veronica offers to pretend to be his girlfriend when Tomas’s ex comes back to town. All she wants in return is some after-hours training. He soon realizes Veronica is nothing like he imagined, and the harder he falls, the more he worries, because Veronica’s Olympic dreams will eventually take her away from Rancho Lindo – and from him.

PJ's Thoughts:

I do love me a cowboy. Make him a broody Mexican-American cowboy with strong family bonds, a special connection to horses, and a once broken, now wary heart and I am all in. Plus, bonus, he has brothers!

Sabrina Sol has created an enjoyable contemporary romance with two main characters who have both been hurt by love. I enjoyed their journey from adversaries to lovers, with a fake relationship that gradually grows into friendship, thrown into the mix. Veronica and Tómas each have flaws, familial complications, and emotional baggage that make them both realistic and relatable. Each has an emotional journey of growth to complete individually as well as part of a couple. Sol guides them through it with a deft hand. The banter between them is lively, as is the initial friction that morphs into an undeniable attraction. They're opposites in many ways but alike in others, sharing commonalities, such as their love of horses and of family. I could feel the feelings that slowly grow between them even when they are at odds. 

I really enjoyed the Mexican-American representation of both families in this book. Sol has included traditions, (drool-worthy) food, and Spanish language that give the characters and their storylines a rich cultural authenticity. It brought them to life for me, eliciting a deep appreciation for their history as well as their present-day lives. 

The Cowboy Whisperer is the second book in this series but stands well on its own. Even though the lead couple from book one, Second Chance at Rancho Lindo, feature prominently in this book I never felt lost or confused for not having read their story. However, once I met them I knew I'd be diving into their book too. I hope we'll continue to see the evolution of both couples' relationships as the series moves forward. 

Have you read books by Sabrina Sol?

Do you enjoy reading romances with strong cultural representation?

How do you feel about cowboys, whether present day or historical?

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, December 7 will receive a print copy of The Cowboy Whisperer.

*U.S. only
*Must be 18

Thank you to Forever Romance for the generous donation of a print copy of The Cowboy Whisperer for today's giveaway. 


Monday, December 4, 2023

Coming Attractions - - December 2023


The last month of 2023 has arrived. Is it just me or did this year fly by in the blink of an eye? It needs to slow down so I can read all the wonderful books being published. And speaking of books, here's what's on the schedule for December. 

We launch the month on Friday, December 1 with a review of Balancing Act, book two in Emily March's heartwarming new Lake in the Clouds series. 

Saturday, December 2 brings a review of The Asheville Christmas Wedding, book three in the feel-good Carolina Christmas series co-written by Hope Holloway and Cecelia Scott.

Who wants a cowboy for Christmas? Join me Tuesday, December 5 when I share my thoughts about The Cowboy Whisperer by Sabrina Sol. I am all over this handsome, broody, Mexican-American cowboy...and he has brothers!

I'm going back in time on Thursday, December 7 with a review of Art of the Chase by Tracy Brogan. This Gilded Age historical takes readers back to Trillium Bay, site of Brogan's popular contemporary romance series. 

Santa returns on Monday, December 11 with a review of Technically Yours, a second-chance romcom by Denise Williams.

Stop by Saturday, December 9 for a review of Merry Christmas, Montana by Elsa Winckler. This was my first book by Winckler but it won't be my last. 

Join me on Friday, December 8 for a review and giveaway of Christmas with a Cowboy by Pam Mantovani. This is the seventh book in Mantovani's Burton Springs series but stands well on its own. Fair warning though: now that I've read it, I'll be getting books 1-6, pronto. 

Do you enjoy forced proximity romance with a couple surrounded by a love bundle of high-energy, adorable, rescue dogs? If so, you won't want to miss my review of Housebroke by Jaci Burton on Tuesday, December 12.

Wednesday, December 13 brings a review of Virginia Kantra's newest modern adaptation of a beloved classic. Join me when I share my thoughts about The Fairytale Life of Dorothy Gale.

Join me for another Coastal Magic Spotlight when I welcome Seressia Glass on Thursday, December 14. Glass's newest romcom, Game On, releases on December 12. 

Our second Coastal Magic Spotlight on Monday, December 18 features Jeanne Adams. Her newest story, "Intrigue in Althor", is a novella included in the new Mercedes Lackey anthology: Anything With Nothing

We're rounding out the month on Wednesday, December 27 with a review of You're the Duke That I Want by Lenora Bell. I'm loving these new historical romances by Bell that are inspired by popular movies. Anyone want to guess which movie inspired this book? 

What holidays will you be celebrating this month?

Do you have any special traditions that you're looking forward to?

Tell me about the books you'll be reading in December. Anything you're especially excited to dive into?

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, December 5 will receive a package of books from my stash.

*U.S. only
*Must be 18


Winner - - Highlanders Never Forget


The randomly chosen winner of

an e-book copy of 

Highlanders Never Forget by Julie Johnstone is:



Please send your email address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Review - - The Asheville Christmas Wedding

The Asheville Christmas Wedding
by Hope Holloway and Cecelia Scott
Carolina Christmas - Book 3
Publisher: Hope Holloway and Cecelia Scott
Release Date: December 1, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

With a grand and glorious wedding planned for the end of the year, the family faces a new and daunting challenge and the possibility of losing their beloved cabin. Angie rallies everyone for her mission, but meets so many unexpected roadblocks.

As the holidays come to a close, each of the sisters stands at the precipice of a new life. Noelle has fallen in love, but the cost might be more than she’s willing to pay. Eve has an idea that is wild and wonderful, but she’s put her fate in the hands of a complete stranger. And Angie can’t start her new life without somewhere to live, so she is moving heaven and earth to find the proof they need to keep the cabin.

Can one Christmas in Asheville change everything? Join these strong, funny, and loving women as the holiday spirit lifts them as high as the Blue Ridge Mountains and promises a whole new life ahead.

PJ's Thoughts:

This is the heartwarming, uplifting series I needed this Christmas. As preparations continue for Aunt Bitsy's wedding in book three, The Asheville Christmas Wedding, the family is thrown into chaos by unexpected events. Futures are threatened, relationships are tested, and life-changing decisions loom. New beginnings await all three triplets...if they have the courage and the faith to take those first steps.

Holloway and Scott flawlessly guide their characters with love, compassion, and more than a little humor in this third book of their Carolina Christmas series. They have a way of drawing me into their world and into this family. I'm emotionally connected to the characters, absolutely certain they're all enjoying their lives, celebrating the love and strength of their family, their relationships, and the possibilities that await. No, I haven't lost touch with reality. Yes, I do know these are fictional characters but the layers, intricate details, and nuances these two authors bring to them, plus the challenges life places in their paths, make them seem very, very real.

The Asheville Christmas Wedding ties up many of the threads begun in book one while leaving the door open for future stories for these characters. I was so happy to read that the authors plan to continue the series with more stories for the Chambers sisters next fall. Book four, The Asheville Christmas Tradition is scheduled to be published November 1, 2024 and already available for preorder.

The Carolina Christmas series is one I strongly advise readers to read in order. The books are: The Asheville Christmas Cabin, The Asheville Christmas Gift, and The Asheville Christmas Wedding. Why not give yourself a gift and get all three, or download them from Kindle Unlimited if you're a KU subscriber. I'll just be over here on my sofa with a cup of hot cocoa reading them all over again. 

Friday, December 1, 2023

Review - - Balancing Act

Balancing Act
by Emily March
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: November 28, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

Genevieve Prentice is learning that reinventing herself is a bit like downsizing a house. Deciding what to keep and what needs to go gets complicated. After settling into life in Lake in the Clouds, Colorado, with her sister’s help, she’s finally finding her balance. But Genevieve’s newfound steadiness is threatened when her daughter Willow unexpectedly arrives carrying a mountain of emotional baggage.

Willow Eldridge needs a fresh start, but that can’t happen until she comes clean about her family’s secrets. Thankfully, between caring for her two young children and planning her brother’s wedding, Willow has plenty of reasons to delay the uncomfortable heart-to-heart with her mother. Yet when Willow grows close to her kind but standoffish neighbor and suspects he is keeping secrets of his own, she realizes there’s no moving forward without facing what came before…

Can Genevieve and Willow jettison the pain of the past to create the future they so desperately crave? Beneath the crystal blue skies of Lake in the Clouds, anything seems possible.

PJ's Thoughts:

I've been reading this author for almost thirty years, first as historical romance author Geralyn Dawson and more recently as Emily March. Never has she failed to give me a story I could happily immerse myself into. Her current series, as the Eternity Springs books that preceded it, brings all the feelings and I am here for them. 

March excels at creating family connections. In this book especially, I love how we see the stories unfold from the perspective of multiple generations. It was easy for me to connect with Genevieve, a widow of a certain age struggling to find her identity now that her children are adults and on their own. But March makes it equally easy to relate to Willow, a young single mother dealing with heavy emotional baggage as well as her young son, an inquisitive chatterbox with more worry than a child should have to shoulder. Add in a reclusive - but very hot - neighbor with plenty of emotional baggage of his own, an undeniable chemistry with Willow, and an endearing soft spot for little kids and puppies, and you have the heart-tugging recipe for romance, family, finding one's place, and happily-ever-afters. Not, however, until all of these characters navigate the unexpected obstacles life has chosen to place in their way. 

Those obstacles are one of the things I enjoy about March's writing. Her characters' journeys have real, relatable layers as do the characters themselves. We're only two books into this new series but I'm already wholly invested in them and their well being. I'm eager to watch Genevieve find her footing...and her joy. I'm curious to discover what life has in store for her two remaining single children. And I'm wondering just what role neighboring rancher, Gage will play in it all. 

For maximum enjoyment, I strongly recommend reading book one in this series, The Getaway, followed by Balancing Act.  

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Review & Giveaway - - Highlanders Never Forget

Highlanders Never Forget
by Julie Johnstone
Wicked Willful Highlanders - Book 3
Publisher: Darbyshire Publishing
Release Date: November 30, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

In the game of love, the only way to win is to risk it all.

Fiercely focused Highland warrior Alexander Gordon has one goal—secure a coveted spot on the King’s Night Guard. Being born illegitimate and raised with the constant scorn of his father’s wife, he wants nothing more than a home of his own where he feels like he belongs, and the king’s elite warrior group is the only chance to achieve his dream. He doesn’t intend to let anything or anyone derail him, but then the brave beautiful Adeline Brodie strolls into his life, and the harder he tries to push her away to preserve his honor and dreams, the more it makes him want her.

Sweet smart Adeline Brodie is used to being overlooked by men, but she’s never cared much until the day her world collides with Alexander Gordon’s. Not only is the Scot sinfully handsome, but his intense allegiance to his undeserving brother and his noble heart intrigues her in a way no man ever has. When he appears to return her admiration, things seem perfect for the promise of a wonderful future, until betrayal strikes from the most unexpected places.
Desperate to save her chance at love, Adeline creates a plan to save it, but the qualities she admires most in Alex—loyalty and determination—may be the very things to tear them apart forever.

To secure a future together, Adeline and Alex must face painful truths and make dangerous choices to champion themselves, each other, and the forbidden love that’s grown between them that’s worth any price—even that of old dreams.

PJ's Thoughts:

She's done it again. When I want to immerse myself in the adventure, danger, and atmospheric authenticity of Medieval romance, Julie Johnstone is the first author writing today to whom I turn. She has a knack for bringing it all to life, making me feel like I'm right there, in the midst of the action, from start to finish.

In Highlanders Never Forget, Johnstone has created a star-crossed couple for whom I felt an immediate affinity. Alex and Adeline are good, honest, loyal, likeable characters you just can't help but cheer for. They have an immediate connection but, of course, there are complications. Complications, betrayals, complex family dynamics, and obstacles aplenty. Alex's honor is tested to its limit. Adeline's eyes are opened to unpleasant truths. Danger comes from an unexpected corner and salvation from yet another. It's a roller coaster ride of emotions, with a well-developed cast of characters, that had me turning pages well into the night, eager to discover what would happen next.  

Highlanders Never Forget is a standalone story that you can jump right into and enjoy without having read any of Johnstone's other books. Fair warning though, this author's writing has a tendency to be addictive. Don't be surprised if once you finish this book, you immediately start exploring her backlist. Lucky you, there are so many wonderful books to find there! 

Have you read any of Julie Johnstone's books yet?

Do you read Medieval Romance? What do you enjoy about it?

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment by 11:00 PM, December 1 will receive an e-book copy of Highlanders Never Forget

*U.S. only
*Must be 18

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Review - - It HAD to Be a Duke

It HAD to Be a Duke
by Vivienne Lorret
The Liars' Club - Book 1
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: November 28,  2023
Reviewed by Santa

Verity Hartley always tells the truth. Well, mostly. However, when her snooty neighbor returns to their small hamlet to brag about having a grand Season, a plethora of ballgowns, and so many suitors that she cannot possibly decide which one to marry, Verity tells a lie. She claims to be betrothed. To a duke. Who happens to be her family’s sworn enemy. But what are the odds that he would ever learn of this one, little, harmless falsehood?

Magnus Warring, the Duke of Longhurst, is on the precipice of marrying an heiress to save his estate from financial ruin. At least, he was. Until he hears an unbelievable rumor that he is already betrothed. To the daughter of a liar, cheat, and swindler! Needing to protect his reputation, he hunts down the culprit. And when he finds the untamed beguiler, she has the audacity to ask him to lie for her. To pretend to be her fiancé!

One week, that’s all Verity needs. Then Magnus can return to his life. But nothing is ever that simple. Sometimes it doesn’t take that long to fall in love, even with the enemy.

Santa Says:

It HAD to Be a Duke by Vivienne Lorret is the first book of her newest series The Liars' Club. I am a huge fan of Ms. Lorret’s books and this one did not disappoint. The banter between the two main characters was spot on. The funny moments were hilarious. The tender moments were sublime. It was a real page turner for me because I couldn’t wait to see how Verity and Marcus, her duke finally got out of their own way and into each other’s hearts. At times it felt like the odds were stacked against them.

It all started with a little white lie that Verity Hartley told her obnoxious nemesis that snowballed into a fake betrothal with a duke. And not just any duke but the son of a man her father used to call a friend. And Marcus Warring, Duke of Longhurst wasn’t having any of it. He could not see himself leg shackled to a plain miss who was the daughter and sister of the very men who brought his family to the brink of bankruptcy. Verity and Marcus decide a fake engagement would fool his family and the ton long enough for Marcus to cry off and save face and Verity’s reputation. 

Fake engagements are one of my favorite romance tropes. I love seeing how each character develops in the relationship. Verity and Marcus do not disappoint in this. As stubborn and determined as the duke is, he can not help but fall in love with Verity who is all that is good no matter what scrapes she finds herself in. And Verity, a confirmed spinster, fairly blossoms right before his eyes even as she does not see herself as someone to take note of.

And the story is carried forward with some real characters in Verity’s eccentric, beautiful and talented sisters, a thespian father and an intrepid brother. Marcus’ own grandmother and sister add to the mix. His mother proves to be a tough nut to crack. Throw in the real villains of the story from a surprising quarter and you can see how I couldn’t put this book down.

I advise you, readers, to run to your nearest bookstore or e-reader and grab this gem! I am already looking forward to the next one in this series! Enjoy!