Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Review - - The Duke Undone

The Duke Undone
by Joanna Lowell
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Reviewed by Santa



When Royal Academy painting student Lucy Coover trips over a naked man passed out in an East End alley, she does the decent thing. She covers him up and fetches help. Trouble is, she can't banish his muscular form from her dreams as easily. Compelled to capture every detail, she creates a stunning portrait but is forced to sell it when the rent comes due. What could be worse than surrendering the very picture of your desire? Meeting the man himself. 


Anthony Philby, Duke of Weston, is nobody's muse. Upon discovering the scandalous likeness, he springs into action. His infamous family has been torn apart by shame and secrets, and he can't afford more gossip. Even a whisper may jeopardize his inheritance and his chance at independence. His plan is simple: burn the painting, confront the artist. Or rather, it's simple until he meets Lucy and decides to offer the bewitching young artist a devil's bargain.  He'll help save her foreclosed home, if she'll help repair his family’s brutal legacy.

An irresistible passion ignites between them, but when danger strikes, Lucy and Anthony must risk everything... for a love that might destroy them both.

Santa says:

The Duke Undone by Joanna Lowell left me breathless and I give it five out of five stars. I felt for each character from page one, from the desolate, naked drunk our heroine, Lucy Coover, stumbles across in an alleyway to our hero Weston’s long lost sister. Lucy stumbles across this drunk while trying to make it to art classes, covers him up with her shawl and pays an urchin to watch over him. Set in Victorian England, Lucy is part of a group of women at the Royal Academy hoping to make a name for herself in that male dominated institution. She does make it to class in time and at the end of her day commits to paper every last detail of that drunk - every single detail.

Months later, Lucy painted that portrait and sold it to a bored wife of the ton. Her husband recognizes the man’s face in the picture and confronts him. It turns out the man in the alleyway was in fact a duke. Anthony Philby, the 7th Duke of Weston spends his days a sober, somber man and his nights in a drunken haze - more often than not - fully clothed scouring the streets of London looking for his missing sister. He is bound by a codicil in his father’s will that he must prove he is worthy of his inheritance by remaining sober and scandal free until his 30th birthday which is just a short time away.

The fact that his face is recognizable can cost him everything and so he grabs the picture home with him and tracks down the artist based on the signature on the painting and the accompanying letter stating the painter is a visiting artist at the Royal Academy. He is surprised to find that the artist is a woman, one Lucy Coover, and demands any other renderings she may have or he will expose her. She had no idea the drunk she painted was a duke. She only sold it in order to help pay for the house she and her aunt lived in.  

They soon discover their lives are connected in many other ways. Lucy and Anthony begin to work together to try to save where Lucy lives, to discover what happened to his sister and to find what sinister forces are at play in keeping Anthony helpless in commanding his own life.

The Duke Undone will keep you on the edge of your seat. I really didn’t know how Lucy and Anthony would get their HEA or if Anthony and his sister would ever be reunited but it all comes together in spectacular fashion in the end. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more books by Joanna Lowell.


Monday, April 12, 2021

Excerpt and Giveaway - - Sunset on Moonlight Beach

Sunset on Moonlight Beach
by Sheila Roberts
Moonlight Harbor - Book 5
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: April 27, 2021


Jenna Jones has been standing on the shore of the Sea of Love for too long. Even with two good men interested in her, she's been afraid to wade in. According to her best friend, Courtney, she should. The water’s fine. Life is great! Practically perfect, if you don’t count Courtney’s problems with her cranky ex-boss. Maybe Courtney’s right. It’s time to dive in.

When tragedy strikes, everything changes and Jenna's more confused than ever. But this fresh heartache might help her figure out at last who she can turn to when times get tough.

Full of warmth and humor, Sunset on Moonlight Beach proves that every ending can be the beginning of a beautiful new story.

~~~~~~~~~~


Sheila Roberts brings readers the long-awaited conclusion of Jenna Jones' story arc in the fifth book of her Moonlight Harbor series: Sunset on Moonlight Beach. Now that Jenna's ready to open herself up to love again, which of the two good men in her life will she choose?

 

Excerpt 

 SUNSET ON MOONLIGHT BEACH

 

Unlike her mother, Jenna had no problem being taken out to dinner. She and Brody enjoyed crab cakes (for her) and steak and lobster (for him) at the Porthole, and, later, a sunset walk on the beach. The waves danced along the shore, their lacy froth making a gentle swoosh like a dancer’s skirt, and the sun set the sky on fire, a final reminder of its power before leaving to let its quiet sister, the moon, take over.

“It’s so beautiful,” she said as they walked close together, his arm around her shoulder. Funny how I thought my life was ruined before I came here.  Turns out it was really just beginning.”

“I’m glad you came,” he said. He stopped them and switched from an arm around the shoulders to both arms around her waist. “My life sure began again when you hit town.” He smiled down at her, then did what Brody did best. He kissed her.

Yes, this was happiness, being with someone who wanted to commit to you, of knowing you’d have a safe and secure future.

“Jenna,” he said softly, “you know how I feel about you.”

She did. Was he going to propose right then and there? Suddenly she felt … what did she feel? Surely not anxious. What was there to be anxious about?

She nodded. And pulled back. Oh, bad body language. What was she doing?

“I’m not going to let you get away,” he said softly, and tucked her right up close again.

With the sun going down the temperature was dropping. The body heat felt good. Body heat. Feeling good. What was she waiting for? Just say it, Brody. Ask me right now. Let’s do this thing before I chicken out.

But she’d pulled away. He’d gotten the message. He started them walking again.

“We need to make this official,” she said, determined to move them in the right direction.

He studied her. “Are you sure?”

Brody was great. What was there not to be sure about? She smiled up at him. “Yes, I’m sure.”

“Well, then, I’m thinking I should be looking around for some bling for your poor, naked finger.”

“I’m thinking that, too.”

He grinned. “So, want to come over to my place and really make it official?”

“After my finger’s not naked.”

He chuckled. “I can hardly wait to see you in the ring. Just the ring.”

“Come on back to the house. We can watch a movie.”

“I’d rather watch you.”

She shook her head at him. “You are so full of it.”

“Is that what you think?” he demanded, pretending to be insulted. “Jenna Jones, I never get tired of looking at you.”

Damien had never said anything like that to her. She was ready to be with someone who really appreciated her. That someone was Brody. What a perfect ending to her story.

No, she corrected herself, a perfect beginning. This was a new story, a much better one. Happily ever after at Moonlight Harbor. Beach walks at sunset, dinners out, having someone who was the polar opposite of her ex, willing to talk about something besides himself. Yes, it didn’t get any better than this. Brody was a great guy, and she was lucky to have him. She’d make him happy.

They went back to the house to find Aunt Edie on the couch, working on her afghan, finishing up watching Casablanca.

“We’ll always have Paris,” Rick said to his former lover Ilsa.

“Not the same as having the woman,” Brody said. “Anyway, I’ll take Moonlight Harbor and walks on the beach over Paris any day.”

He looked speculatively at Jenna. “But what about you? Would you rather have Paris?”

“I wouldn’t mind visiting, but I wouldn’t want to live there. Moonlight Harbor has my heart.”

“Paris would be a wonderful place to honeymoon,” Aunt Edie said slyly.

Jenna could feel herself blushing, although she wasn’t sure why. It was becoming obvious to everyone, including her, that she and Brody were a permanent item.

He chuckled. “It might be at that.” The movie credits began to roll, and he said, “Okay, ladies, time for a second feature. What have you got with guns and gore, Edie?”

“Nothing,” she said. “Well, except for one of those Jack Reacher movies.” She looked accusingly at Jenna. “Jenna bought it for me.”

“You know you enjoyed it,” Jenna said.

“Sounds good to me. Let’s put it on,” said Brody. He knelt in front of the wicker basket that held the DVD collection Jenna had made for Aunt Edie – streaming still wasn’t her thing.

“It was exciting, I’ll say that,” Aunt Edie conceded. “And that Tom Cruise is such a cutie. Not as cute as James Garner was, mind you. Nobody was as gorgeous as him when he was in his prime.”

“Yeah, but Tom is a man of action,” Brody said. “Gotta love that.”

“He doesn’t say a lot in this movie though,” said Aunt Edie.

A man of action who didn’t say a lot. Who did that remind Jenna of? Never mind Seth. He was history now, the road not taken. Brody was the future, a perfect future.

She made popcorn and he got the movie going and they all settled in to watch it. Cozy, homey, comfortable—this would be the rest of her life. Safe. She was more than ready for that after the drama and heartbreak Damien had dished out.

The movie came to a satisfying end, with the fictional Jack Reacher riding off into the sunset—on a bus instead of the proverbial horse—ready to continue righting wrongs.

Sabrina and Scotty arrived, hungry after a night of laser tag at Sabrina’s friend Hudson’s house.

“How was laser tag?” Jenna asked.

“It was wig,” Scotty said.

Which Jenna knew meant awesome. Hey, she was on top of things.

“Do we have any cookies left?” Sabrina asked Aunt Edie as Scotty plopped on the floor and stretched out his legs.

“We do. I’ll get you some.”

“I can get them,” Sabrina said easily and hurried off to the kitchen.

“What did you guys do tonight?” Scotty asked politely, taking in the three oldies.

Walked on the beach, kissed, the usual female fantasy stuff. “We watched a movie with Aunt Edie,” Jenna said. Yep. Nice, cozy and homey.

Scotty nodded politely. “Cool.”

Probably pretty boring compared to laser tag.

Brody took the arrival of the kids as a signal to leave and stood. “Guess I’ll get going,” he said.

“I’ll walk you to the door,” Jenna offered.

Once there, he snugged her up against him for a final kiss. She could get used to this.

“I can’t get enough of you,” he whispered against her hair.

Oh, yeah. More good female fantasy stuff. Except this was real life now. Her life.

“You always know what to say,” she told him.

He should have. He’d had enough practice. With several women in town, as a matter of fact.

But so what? She was the one he wanted.

Yes, her life was moving forward. She found herself too keyed up to sleep, even after she’d shooed Scotty off and Aunt Edie and Sabrina had gone to bed—one to sleep, the other to text with her friends. The beach was calling.

She crossed the dunes to find someone had a small fire going, a solitary man. She knew exactly who. She should turn back. Beach fires with Seth would hardly be appropriate now that she was moving forward with Brody.

She started to back up, but he had eyes like an owl and he’d seen her. “Join me,” he called.

It would be rude not to. He was a big part of her life at the Driftwood. They were friends.

“Your mom all settled in?” he asked as she took a seat next to him on a log.

He pulled a can of root beer out of the mini cooler at his feet and offered it to her. He knew she wasn’t a beer drinker. Had he hoped she’d see his fire and join him and planned accordingly?

She took it and popped the top, took a drink. She suddenly felt a little hot, sitting there by the fire.

“Yep. I think she’ll be happy down here.”

“Pretty hard not to be. Nice house.”

“She could have stayed with us, though,” Jenna said. “We’d have made room for her.”

“Parents like having their own digs. Both my brother and my sister have tried to talk our mom into living with them. She says the only way they’ll get her out of her place is feet first.”

“What’s your mom like?”

“Good-hearted, strong. My dad wasn’t in the picture for long. She pretty much raised us single-handed. She’s lot like your mom, only a little rougher around the edges.”

“Will she ever come up here and visit?”

“She says she’ll make the trek if I ever get married.” He cleared his throat, took a drink from the beer can he was holding.

“Which will be in a parallel universe,” Jenna said.

A little resentfully? No. She had no reason to be resentful. Her life was all sorted out. She moved them on to new conversational territory. “Thanks again for your help today.”

“You didn’t really need me. You had plenty of help.”

“I’ll always need you,” she said. As a friend, of course.

“I don’t think so. You’ve got the house peddler now. Looks like things are getting serious between you two.”

“I need to get serious with someone,” she said.

“Yeah, you do,” he agreed, but didn’t volunteer for the position. “I want to see you happy.”

“With another man.”

“The guy’s got money, a fancy house, fancy car.”

“As if that stuff’s important to me? How shallow do you think I am?” she demanded.

“You’re not, but there’s nothing wrong with having a good life. He’ll be good to you.”

“I need somebody to be good to me.” It was about time. Past time.

“You deserve that,” he said.

All this nobility. Blech. “You don’t have to be so agreeable, you know.”

“How do you want me to be?” He sounded irritated.

Jealous. Angry. Willing to fight for her. “Why did you invite me to join you, anyway?”

“Heard you coming. I was being polite.”

“Polite, huh? You know what? You’re a tease.”

He crumpled his beer can and tossed it in the mini-cooler. He shoved it shut, then stood and doused the fire from a nearby bucket of water.

“No, I just have a hard time letting go,” he muttered.

“No one told you to let go,” she snapped.

He kicked sand over the sizzling mess. “No one had to.” He picked up his cooler and bucket. “Goodnight, Jenna.”

It was suddenly very cold with the fire doused. She stood shivering and watched him walk away. Seth was damaged and there was no mending him because he wouldn’t let anyone close enough to do that. She truly had made the right choice.

 

~~~~~~~~~

Looks like Jenna has a difficult choice on her hands. Have you been reading Sheila Roberts' Moonlight Harbor series? Which of the two men in Jenna's life would you choose? 

Three people who post a comment before 11:00 PM, April 13 will each receive a print ARC of Sunset on Moonlight Beach.

*Must be 18
*U.S. addresses only


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Winners - - Susanna Craig

 



The randomly chosen winners of an e-book copy of

Who's That Earl by Susanna Craig are:

robinb

and

dstoutholcomb

Congratulations!

Please send your email address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Winners - - April Coming Attractions

 



The two randomly chosen winners of a 

package of books are:

Patoct

and

SusanLovesBooks

Congratulations!

Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Review - - Love of a Cowboy

Love of a Cowboy
by Jennifer Ryan
A McGrath Novel - Book 2
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: March 30, 2021
Reviewed by PJ




Skye Kennedy has always loved the close-knit community of Sunrise Fellowship—but when she witnesses the commune’s new leader commit a terrible crime, she flees…and finds herself in Montana, on the McGrath ranch, and drawn to the stoic yet kind man determined to help her.

Declan McGrath has always handled things himself and focused more on work than his love life. With his newlywed brothers distracted by their beautiful wives, Declan has even more work on his hands. But when Skye arrives at the ranch starving and desperate for work, his loner days are over.

Skye wants to keep her distance and protect Declan from the deadly threats facing her, but soon their relationship morphs into something much more than either of them expected. When she fights back against those out to destroy Sunrise Fellowship, Skye and Declan will have to do everything to protect not just Skye's community, but also their new love...


PJ's Thoughts:


I love a tightly-plotted, romantic suspense novel and that is exactly what Jennifer Ryan offers up in her newest McGrath novel: Love of a Cowboy. This book kept me on the edge of my seat, eagerly reading from the first page until the very end. 


At the center of the story are Declan McGrath, a hard-working, good-hearted rancher and Skye Kennedy, a smart and determined young woman who has been sheltered from the world at large. Considering Skye's upbringing, her lack of knowledge about the world outside Sunrise Fellowship, and the fact that Declan rescues her at the beginning of their story, one might expect a power imbalance between Skye and Declan but I never felt that. Ryan handles the dynamics of their relationship with a deft hand, displaying Skye's strength of will and leveling their romantic playing field nicely. Their feelings develop quickly and I enjoyed them together, believing in their happy ending. However, I wanted more exploration of them as a couple. I liked them as individuals and was happy for their HEA but didn't feel as invested in their relationship as I have with previous McGrath couples. 


The suspense, on the other hand, is spot on. Ryan has created a villain who is chilling in his authenticity and a situation that could easily be occurring in many pockets of the country today. The tension kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering which direction the author would take as that part of the story twisted here and there throughout the book, right up until the explosive conclusion. 


Love of a Cowboy can be enjoyed as a standalone though I do recommend getting to know the entire McGrath family through their individual stories. Next up is Declan's sister, Trinity. I'm eager to discover what Ryan has planned for her. That book, True Love Cowboy, is scheduled for release on August 24, 2021. 




Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Tour Review - - Uncork My Love

Uncork My Love
by Rich Amooi
Publisher: Rich Amooi
Release Date: March 30, 2021
Reviewed by PJ



Ivy needs a miracle and a drink—not necessarily in that order. With a struggling winery, the only hope of keeping her dream alive is snagging a gold medal at the annual wine competition. She’s determined to win, but she can do it without the help of Ted Jacobs, aka Mr. Know-it-All.


Ted wants to catch lightning in a bottle and create the world’s greatest wine, but he’s smart enough to know he can’t do it alone. When he heads to Napa to keep his grandma from ending up in jail (don’t ask), he meets Ivy. She’s as complex and intoxicating as his award-winning cabernet, but as stubborn as the mule next door when she stomps on his offer to collaborate.

Ted knows it’s risky to mix business with pleasure, but if Ivy would only listen, they might just be the toast of the town.

PJ's Thoughts:

As fun and fizzy as a cool glass of sparkling wine. Rich Amooi brings readers another feel-good, contemporary romance that's sure to tickle your funny bone and warm your heart. This time, he's off to Napa wine country where two vineyard owners going it alone just may have the opportunity to create something special - both in and out of the wine room - if they can get out of their own way. At least, that's what their matchmaking grannies are hoping!

Amooi brings their story to life through vivid descriptions of the lush Napa Valley, comedic antics of three grandparents who just want their beloved grandchildren to find happiness, interesting facts about wine making, and a sweet romance between two fully-developed main characters who deserve a happy ending. Ivy's reticence is understandable. She's been burned badly by her ex's betrayal and isn't about to open herself up to another man who could do the same. But Ted isn't your average bear. I adored his charm, his kind heart, and his willingness to go the extra mile. I was cheering him on the entire way. 

I can always count on Amooi's stories to lift me up and leave me laughing. His humor is contagious, the characters he creates are relatable, and I'm guaranteed a happy ending. What's not to love?


Do you enjoy romantic comedies?

Have you ever been to Napa? Is it as gorgeous as I imagine? 




Monday, April 5, 2021

Review, Guest Post, & Giveaway - - One Thing Leads to a Lover

One Thing Leads to a Lover
by Susanna Craig
Love and Let Spy - Book 2
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Reviewed by PJ
 
 

Amanda Bartlett, widowed Countess of Kingston, is a woman beyond reproach. Married at nineteen, she dutifully provided the Earl with an heir and a spare before his death three years ago. Since then, Amanda has lived a simple, quiet life. A life that, if she were honest, has become more than a trifle dull. So when an adventure literally drops into her lap, in the shape of a mysterious book, she intends to make the most of it—especially if it brings her closer to a charismatic stranger. . . .

 
Major Langley Stanhope, an intelligence officer and master mimic known as the Magpie, needs to retrieve the code book that has fallen into Amanda’s hands. The mistaken delivery has put them both in grave danger and in a desperate race to unearth a traitor. It’s also stirred an intense, reckless attraction. Langley believes the life he leads is not suitable for a delicate widow, but it seems he may have underestimated the lady’s daring . . . and the depths of their mutual desire. . . .

PJ's Thoughts:

Susanna Craig's main characters are among some of my favorites in historical romance. I love that they're multi-layered, frequently flawed, and typically not ton-obsessed members of society. They intrigue me, pulling me into their hearts and minds with ease, and immersing me in their stories.  

In her current series, which is inspired by (some of my favorite) 1980's television shows, the blend of mystery and romance, with her always impeccable historical research, has been especially enjoyable. Once again, in book two, One Thing Leads to a Lover, there's adventure, danger, sensual chemistry, heartwarming romance, and bad guys intent on causing harm to some of our favorite characters. It's a twisty journey with a few surprises along the way that kept me flipping pages from start to finish. 

Langley and Amanda are both characters who spoke to me, engaging both my interest and my affection. I enjoyed the spark between them, the banter, and the fact that they were each intellectually challenged by the other. Respect and desire is a potent combination, and these two have an abundance of both. It was fun to watch Amanda gain confidence throughout her journey, finally taking control of her life and standing her ground, with both her family and Langley. And speaking of our hero, I adored his many disguises, his fascination with Amanda, his integrity, and his relationship with Pip and Jamie, Amanda's sons. In fact, his relationship with the boys was one of my favorite parts of the book. Langley also has emotional baggage to deal with before he can have a happy ending with Amanda and Craig does a good job of guiding him through that process. I was delighted with the outcome and especially, the peek into the future found in the epilogue which already has me eagerly anticipating book three!

~~~~~~~~~~

Thoughts on Adaptations
by Susanna Craig

I spend a lot of time thinking about why and how we tell certain stories over and over again. I’m in the middle of writing a series of historical romances that take their inspiration from television shows from the 1980s: Magnum P.I., Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Remington Steele. I also teach a course called “Jane Austen on Film” and another called “Retellings” that covers everything from fairy tales to Sherlock Holmes. So today, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts about adaptations.

Clearly, we can’t get enough of some storylines or characters. Take Pride and Prejudice, for example, which has been adapted in almost every form imaginable. We’re obviously drawn to handsome, brooding, wealthy Mr. Darcy. We enjoy watching him be humbled by love; the pampered son of an aristocrat has to work to gain Elizabeth Bennet’s affection without any guarantee of success. In order to keep enjoying the experience of Austen’s story—itself perhaps inspired by elements of Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella—we tell variations of it in adaptations that range from board books to graphic novels to musicals. We imagine how the story would look if set in another place or time. We seek out its echoes in Regency romances. And because creators keep bringing it to us in new forms, we can return to a beloved favorite with fresh eyes.

Some people think of adaptations and retellings as the products of laziness. After all, using old texts as the basis for new media means we don’t have to come up with original ideas or worry about copyright. But I usually prefer to think of them as homages to the stories and characters that have inspired us. There’s a challenge in creating new work from old worlds: Am I making something fresh and interesting? Does my story still capture that “something special” in the original that has spoken to readers over time?

Often our debates about adaptations are focused on the degree of their faithfulness to the original. A popular meme depicts an iceberg, with the fraction visible above the water labeled “the movie” and what’s still submerged labeled “the book.” The implication, obviously, is that the book is deeper, more complex—and therefore better. But that’s not really fair to either medium. What no movie can capture is your interpretation of a book (unless you’re the one making the movie, and even then, unless you’re writing, directing, acting, filming, and editing, other peoples’ ideas are bound to sneak in).



When we watch a film adaptation or engage with any other form of retelling, we’re getting a glimpse at someone else’s vision of the story, and I find that fascinating. I like to see how others imagine the characters or setting I think I know well. That’s why I try to stay out of those heated debates between fans of the 1995 TV miniseries of Pride and Prejudice and fans of the 2005 movie. I avoid choosing between Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy. I like them both, but neither of them perfectly matches the character I have in my mind. For one thing, according to a very authoritative Buzzfeed quiz, my husband is actually Mr. Darcy! And my Mr. Darcy isn’t exactly like the one that Jane Austen imagined when she wrote the novel. But every time I encounter someone else’s version of her story, my experience is enriched.


How about you? Do you like prequels, sequels and other retellings? Do you have a favorite movie (or other) adaptation of a book? What makes it enjoyable to you? Or are you happiest with the version of the story that plays out in your head when you read?


Two randomly chosen people who post a comment before 11:00 PM, April 6 will each receive an e-book copy of Who's That Earl, the first book in Susanna Craig's Love and Let Spy series. (Click here for PJ's review of Who's That Earl and a Q&A with the author.)

*Must be 18




Sunday, April 4, 2021

Coming Attractions

 

Proof that, on occasion, I can actually keep a plant alive long enough for it to bloom. 


It's April and not only are gardens blooming with beautiful flowers but this month is also blooming with a huge bouquet of new romances for our reading pleasure. Here's what I'm spotlighting at The Romance Dish this month.



We launch the month on Monday, April 5 with a review of One Thing Leads to a Lover by Susanna Craig. This historical romance/mystery is the second book in Craig's Love and Let Spy series. In addition to my review, Ms. Craig joins us with a guest post about adaptations (her current series is inspired by 80's television shows) and a giveaway. 




Tuesday, April 6 brings a tour review of Uncork My Love, another rib-tickling romantic comedy by Rich Amooi. This one is set in beautiful California wine country with two meddling grannies to add to your reading pleasure...and matchmaking hijinks! 






Breezie Bennett is back with a sweet and sexy new series featuring the Vice family of Miami Beach. I'll be sharing my thoughts about the first book in the series, The Billionaires Big Game, on Friday, April 16





Leigh Duncan concludes her Heart's Landing, contemporary romance series with April's release of A Waterfront Wedding. Stop by Tuesday, April 20 for my review of this heartwarming third story from Hallmark Publishing. 




Sheila Roberts
brings readers the long-awaited conclusion of Jenna Jones' story arc in the fifth book of her Moonlight Harbor series: Sunset on Moonlight Beach. Now that Jenna's ready to open herself up to love again, which of the two good men in her life will she choose? My review will post on Friday, April 23





Join me Wednesday, April 28 when I share my review of Picnic in Someday Valley. This contemporary romance is the second book in the heartwarming Honey Creek series by Jodi Thomas. I've fallen hard for this small Texas community and her citizens. 




I have many more books in my review reading queue for this month so look for additions to the schedule as we move through April. 

What are you looking forward to this month? Any books on your must-have list? Any new authors you've discovered? 

Two randomly chosen people who post a comment before 11:00 PM, April 5 will each receive a package of books from my stash.

*Must be 18
*U.S. only

Winner - - Scoundrel of My Heart

 



The randomly chosen winner of a print copy of

Scoundrel of My Heart by Lorraine Heath is:

Laurie G

Congratulations!

Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com



Winner - - The Gift at Sugar Sand Inn

 



The randomly chosen winner of a Kindle copy of

The Gift at Sugar Sand Inn is:

Patricia B

Congratulations!

Please send your email address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com




Friday, April 2, 2021

Review & Giveaway - - The Gift at Sugar Sand Inn

The Gift at Sugar Sand Inn
by Leigh Duncan
Sugar Sand Beach - Book 1
Publisher: Gardenia Street Publishing
Release Date: March 23, 2021
Reviewed by PJ
 


Escape to Sugar Sand Beach with Michelle Robinson and her best friends for a second chance at all life has to offer.

At forty-five, Michelle has a great life. A husband who loves her. Two children on the fast track to success. A beautiful home in the rolling hills of Virginia. And three of the best friends a girl could ever want.

But with the sudden death of Michelle’s husband of twenty-five years, her life turns upside down.

Forced to sell their forever home and at odds with her children, Michelle faces a bleak future. Until an unexpected inheritance starts her on a path paved with bright possibilities.

Join Michelle, Reggie, Nina and Erin as they journey to Sugar Sand Beach where fresh opportunities for life, love and happiness are as limitless as the blue Florida skies.


PJ's Thoughts:


The Gift at Sugar Sand Inn launches Duncan's new women's fiction series about four women, best friends, each at a crossroads in her life, who are offered the unexpected opportunity to take a new path. It's heart-tugging, complicated, hopeful, and inspiring. 


In this first book, Duncan introduces us to four fully-developed and complex characters. While Michelle takes center stage, we begin to know all four friends and dip into their individual stories as they are tested by complicated family relationships, workplace manipulation, and personal betrayal. I'm intrigued by each of them, already forming attachments, fully invested in their stories, and eager to discover where this new adventure will take them. It will be fun to watch them bring a forgotten, Florida beachfront, Queen Anne home to life again with a new purpose as they - hopefully - do the same for themselves, with the possibility of new romances to sweeten the deal.


If you enjoy female friendships, mature characters (mid-thirties to mid-forties), new life adventures, and the beach (who doesn't love the beach?), give The Gift at Sugar Sand Inn a try. The remaining four books will all be released this year and I am eager to read all of them.   


The Gift at Sugar Sand Inn (3/23/21)

The Secret at Sugar Sand Inn (5/14/21)

The Cafe at Sugar Sand Inn (8/13/21)

The Reunion at Sugar Sand Inn (10/15/21)

Christmas at Sugar Sand Inn (11/19/21)


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In their quest to restore their new property and open the Sugar Sand Inn, each woman takes responsibility for a different facet of the project. Michelle is the business mind, Reggie is in charge of landscaping, Chef Nina tackles the kitchen, and globe-trotting athlete Erin dives into water sports and other activities. 


If you and a group of friends decided to restore an old home and turn it into an inn, which part of the project would you claim?


One person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, April 3 will receive a Kindle copy of The Gift at Sugar Sand Inn


*Must be 18

*Amazon US only






 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Review - - Scoundrel of My Heart

Scoundrel of My Heart
by Lorraine Heath
Once Upon a Dukedom - Book 1
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: March 30, 2021
Reviewed by PJ




She is desperate to wed a duke…
Lady Kathryn Lambert must marry a titled gentleman to claim her inheritance and has finally gained the attention of a duke. Yet she is unable to forget the scandalous second son who aided in her achievement—or his betrayal.
He wants what he can never possess…
Lord Griffith Stanwick is tormented by the bitter truth that as a “spare,” he will never be able to give Kathryn what she yearns to possess. But when his father is found guilty of treason, Griff detours into the dark and dangerous corners of London, haunted by memories of the woman lost to him forever.
Love not to be denied…
As the duke’s courtship intensifies, Kathryn discovers Griff has become a man to be reckoned with. When old passions flare and new desires ignite, she must decide if sacrificing her legacy is worth a lifetime shared with the scoundrel of her heart.

PJ's Thoughts:

If you follow my reviews you know how much I loved Lorraine Heath's Sins for All Seasons series, especially the final book, Beauty Tempts the Beast. I was intrigued by the glimpse readers were given of heroine Althea's brothers, Griff and Marcus, in that book and happy to hear Heath planned to write stories for them but, to be honest, I doubted she would be able to surpass my love for Beast and Althea. Boy, was I wrong.

This book is about as close to a perfect read as I could want. I wouldn't change a thing about it. Exquisitely written, beautifully nuanced, each word, look, and gesture conveys depth, intent, and a full range of emotions. Griff and Kathryn showed me anger, devotion, joy, retribution, love, hopelessness, and yearning - oh my gosh, the yearning - so clearly and so deeply that I couldn't help but feel their emotions to my core. Heath gives us fully developed, multi-layered characters who continually evolve throughout their journey. I adored them. I want to be friends with Kathryn. I want to dance with her on the beach and bask in the glow of her joy. And Griff. There are so many scenes I'd like to quote to highlight the ways in which he captures Kathryn's heart - and mine - but each reader should have the opportunity to discover those on their own. Suffice it to say, he's set the new standard for my book boyfriends. 

And then there's the duke, the character who most surprised me in this book. I was prepared to heap my full disdain upon his head. I mean, really, the man actually placed a notice in the paper inviting women to submit applications detailing why they should be chosen for the position of his duchess. Plus, he was standing between Griff and Kathryn. But, the Duke of Kingsland holds his cards close to his chest and I was very pleased with the twists his character arc took, especially as pertains to my favorite couple. He's up next as the hero of book two and I cannot wait to discover what Heath has in store for our single-minded, workaholic duke and his uber-efficient secretary, Penelope Pettypeace. The Duchess Hunt will release September 28, 2021. I already have it on pre-order. 

If you enjoy historical romance, Scoundrel of My Heart is a book you won't want to miss. Both Griff and the book are in the running for my favorites of 2021. 

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Have you read Lorraine Heath's books yet? Do you have a favorite book or series?

Kathryn loves to start her day with a joyful dance on the beach. How do you start your day? 

One randomly chosen person posting a comment before 11:00 PM, March 31 will receive a print copy of Scoundrel of My Heart. 

*Must be 18
*U.S. only