Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Beach Bag Bonanza Reviews & Giveaway

PJ here!  As I write this, my skin is gently caressed by sweet ocean breezes, my ears are serenaded by the music of waves lapping at the shore and my toes wiggle happily in warm sand. I'm in my happy place and all I need to complete the picture is a beach bag filled with good books.  Luckily for me, that's exactly what I have!  As I prepare to immerse myself in the first of many good stories I plan to read this week, let me share with all of you some recently read books that I recommend for your summer reading list.  

A Coral Cove Novel
By Toni Blake
Publisher:  Avon
Release Date: May 27, 2014

After losing her parents in a devastating house fire, Christy Knight is starting over with nothing - no insurance money, no childhood memories, barely enough income to make it from paycheck to paycheck and her dream of supporting herself with her jewelry designs seemingly out of reach.  But she's hanging on until she learns her beloved grandfather is about to be kicked out of his nursing home in Coral Cove, Florida for lack of money to pay their high fees.  He's her only remaining relative and she's not about to let him go down without a fight. Her roomie suggests Christy find herself a rich husband to solve all her problems. Unfortunately for Christy, none of her rich dates measure up to Jack DuVall, her sexy handyman neighbor, a man with the potential to fulfill all her needs except one: money.  Jack's had his heart broken by a woman in search of a rich husband before and isn't about to go down that road again.  He initially pegs Christy as a gold digger and even though he changes his mind as he gradually gets to know her he still protects his heart by letting her think he's a low-income handyman.  A road trip from Ohio to Coral Cove to visit Christy's grandfather changes everything and teaches both Christy and Jack what's really important in life.  But just as they begin to trust in each other and what they have between them, Jack's secret comes to light and that betrayal of trust threatens to tear them apart.  Forever.

This first book in Toni Blake's new Coral Cove series is a winner.  She's created a lovely, laid-back beach town in Coral Cove that I want to visit and has populated it with quirky, heartwarming characters that I want to meet.  Christy's Grandpa Charlie would be first on the list!  Full of wit and wisdom, Charlie is in his twilight years but very important to this story.  Blake gives Charlie his own story-within-a-story by reflecting on a time in his life when he chose to do the "responsible thing" over following his heart, a choice he has regretted his entire life and it's this life experience that enables him to help Christy with her own love vs responsibility struggles.  We also meet other characters who fill in the Coral Cove landscape and I hope will make more appearances in future books.  When you pick up this Toni Blake book you can expect realistic and fully developed characters, a richly told emotional journey and laughs, sighs and cheers along the way. Add this one to your summer beach bag.  You won't be sorry.

By Judi Fennell
A Manley Maids Novel
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date:  June 3, 2014

Movie star Bryan Manley is used to swarming paparazzi and swooning fans. Surprisingly, he's also used to dusting, sweeping and cleaning toilets.  The grandmother who raised him and his siblings saw to that so when he loses a bet with his sister that has him spending six weeks in his hometown as a Manley Maid for her cleaning service, he isn't worried about being able to do the job.  Then he meets the client, widow Beth Hamilton and her five children.  Suddenly, four weeks in the Hamilton household takes on a whole new meaning.

After the traumatizing media circus surrounding her late husband's headline-making death, the last thing over-worked and over-stressed Beth Hamilton and her children need is any kind of connection to handsome, sexy, media darling Bryan Manley.  But then the man arrives at her house in that ridiculous Manley Maids uniform and he's so gorgeous, so sexy, so nice.  And he cleans!  Four weeks with the actor who stars in the dreams of women world-wide.  What could go wrong?

I loved this book!  It's sweet, sexy, flirtatious and heartwarming.  My recipe for a no-fail summer read? Take one worn-out mom, one surly teen son, one teen daughter in the throes of puppy love, twin sons who rival an F5 tornado and an adorable little girl sure to win everyone's heart.  Toss in a sexy, charming, too-good-to-be-true movie star with the ability to send a woman's libido into orbit while corralling her children, cleaning her house and winning all of their hearts in the process. Relax.  Read.  Enjoy!

A Malory Novel
By Johanna Lindsey
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: June 10, 2014

Johanna Lindsey's Malory family captured my heart in our first meeting which happened to be in the first book of the series.  There have been highs and lows over the course of eleven books and I admit to being a bit disappointed with the last few books but I'm happy to say that Stormy Persuasion has our love affair back on the right course.

While cousins Jacqueline "Jack" and Judith Malory, daughters of James and Tony, may have different life goals - marriage and motherhood for Judith while Jack yearns to sail the seas like her former pirate father - they've been best friends since the cradle.  So, of course, when the girls turn eighteen and Jack has to travel to America for her debut to satisfy a promise her father made to her mother's American brothers she isn't about to go without Judith beside her.  Setting sail in the company of their fathers, Jack's mother, an aunt and uncle and a newly discovered cousin, the girls look forward to fun and adventure before returning to England where Judith's mother is busy narrowing the field of Scottish marital prospects for her daughter. Neither girl has any idea that the trip will be life-changing in ways they could not possibly have foreseen.

Masquerading as a deck hand on the ship, Nathan Tremayne is actually a ship captain and smuggler carrying out a secret mission for the British government in exchange for a full pardon and the chance to reclaim his stolen ship. The last thing he needs is a pampered society miss mucking up the works but he can't seem to resist the lovely Judith and it appears the feeling is mutual.  Just when he begins to entertain ideas of a future with her though, an event aboard ship changes everything and leaves Nathan disappearing into the night and Judith heartbroken.  But fate isn't quite finished with this pair.  When Jack's life is put at risk, only Nathan has the means to rescue her but will he be able to put his pride aside and offer assistance?  And, more importantly, will Judith and her family be able to accept his assistance with the strings that are attached?

Stormy Persuasion is a fast-paced, high seas romance of the very best kind.  Fans of the Malory series will delight in seeing the girls all grown up and watching their former rakehell fathers deal with all the ramifications of having respectable - and not so respectable - gentlemen sniffing around their skirts.  Loved it!  For readers who have not read the series, not to worry.  This book stands well on it's own.  Though, after reading it, you will most likely start searching out the rest of the books in the series, especially Tony and James' stories (Tender Rebel #2 and Gentle Rogue #3).  My favorite couple, Amy (Malory) and Warren Anderson also make an appearance in this story.  Their book is The Magic of You, #4 in the series.

I do hope Lindsey is planning a book for Jack.  I can't wait to see what she does with her.  Whatever it is, it's sure to be fun.  She truly is her father's daughter!  :)

By Deeanne Gist
Publisher: Howard Books
Release Date: May 6, 2014

In 1893, the world descends upon the city by the lake for the World's Columbian Exhibition, otherwise known as the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. One of those working at the fair is Dr. Billy Jack Tate, a woman ahead of her time.  She loves the city, is dedicated to her profession and is working toward her goal of establishing her own successful medical practice.  Hunter Scott, a Texas Ranger, traditionalist and country boy through and through is one of the elite Columbian Guards hired for the duration of the fair.  He thrives on wide open spaces and can't wait to get back to Texas.  He also believes a woman should be a homemaker, not a wage earner. You know from the minute of their unconventional first meeting that these two are going to be fun!

When Hunter finds an abandoned baby and takes him to Billy Jack, the baby eventually leads them to the slums of Chicago's Nineteenth Ward and the mass of downtrodden children living there.  Determined to do something to brighten the lives of those children, they team up to build a playground, a decision that eventually spawns a playground movement that spreads across the country.  In the process of working together to help the children, Billy Jack and Hunter grow closer and eventually fall in love but in order to have a happy ending will one of them have to sacrifice their dream?  

I grew up close to Chicago and was fascinated by family stories of ancestors who lived there.  In fact, my multi-great grandfather emigrated from Canada to Chicago to take a job building the "White City" that was the 1893 World's Fair so this story had special meaning for me.  As I read Gist's book, it was as if I was actually there, experiencing all that Billy Jack, Hunter and my ancestors had as they walked the grounds of the fair and ventured into the garbage-strewn, poverty-stricken areas of the city.  Gist's descriptions are spot-on and her characters realistic and true to the times, bringing 1893 Chicago vividly to life.  She does an excellent job of weaving real characters into the fabric of her story as well, to the point that it's difficult to differentiate between real and fictional.  They all seemed real to me.  The romance between Billy Jack and Hunter is sweet and emotional but not explicit. Again, Gist does a good job of keeping the heat factor (mild) true to the characters without sacrificing any of the emotion or sexual tension.  Readers may notice that this book is published by an inspirational imprint but I would not classify it as such. In fact, I believe it signals Gist's move from inspirational romance to more mainstream stories. 

If you enjoy rich, historical Americana with a heartwarming romance then I suggest you tuck this book into your beach bag this summer.  In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I may just tuck it into mine and go back for a second visit! 


Now it's your turn!  Tell me what books are on your beach bag list this summer.  Or tell me what book(s) you've read lately that I need to add to mine.  I'm cleaning out my bookshelves and have two boxes and three packages of books to give away today.  My apologies to our international readers but shipping costs require me to limit this giveaway to U.S. addresses only.  

Let's Dish!


  1. On my list are Jill Sorenson's "Backwoods," Madeline Hunter's "The Accidental Duchess" and
    Barbara Freethy's "That Summer Night."

  2. Hi PJ. I'm trying not to be jealous of you. Don't forget to use a lot of sunscreen! ;)

    I just read BEFORE WE KISS by Susan Mallery and I think it's the funniest Fool's Gold book she's written. The (very private) hero's mother wrote a book about sex and has no boundaries when talking about it or offering to demonstrate...things. LOL

    Marcy Shuler

  3. Here are some books that I read recently that I enjoyed:
    On the Surface by Kate Willoughby
    Running Back by Allison Parr
    Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway

  4. So many books...so little time! Here are a few of what I am looking forward to reading this summer:
    Donna Alward - The House on Blackberry Lane
    Toni Blake - All I Want is You
    Judi Fennell - What a Woman Needs
    Jane Graves - Baby It's You
    Susan Mallery - Before We Kiss
    Alexis Morgan - A Reason to Love
    Marilyn Pappano - A Man to Hold Onto


  5. Susan Mallery trilogy, Johanna Lindsey's, Raeanne Thayne's, Kaki Warner

  6. Heather Graham's The Cursed, the Book Stops Here by Kate Carlise, anything else that catches my eye at the library.

  7. When I take a break from reviewing, I'm going to read the Lindsey. Really looking forward to that one just to read about James Malory again. He's been my favorite since Gentle Rogue. I also want to squeeze in Field of Prey by John Sandford.

  8. Thanks for the giveaway.

    I would recommend One Good Thing by Kevin Alan Milne - it is not a new book but a very enjoyable read.

    I am looking forward to Toni Blake's and Susan Mallery newest ones and enjoy military heroes coming back from the fight so also looking forward to the 2nd and 3rd in Marilyn Pappano's latest series as well as A Reason to Love by Alexi Morgan. Really enjoyed the first 2 in the series.


  9. I've been on a Grace Burrowes kick. Once I read one story I had to keep reading and lucky for me she has a nice long backlist and of course is still writing. And so I've enjoyed every single one so far I don't have to recommend a particular one - just dive in :)

    1. I like her a lot, too and agree with your recommendation. Her medievals are good, too, and her latest Lonely Lord series release, Worth, is now a favorite.

  10. Kristan Higgins' Blue Heron series is a must! I also love Brenda Novak's Whiskey Creek series.

  11. Waiting on You and The Best Man by Kristan Higgins were great and funny - loved the Dialogue.

    I love any thing new by Susan Mallery, Toni Blake and Robyn Carr. You cannot go wrong with any of their reads.

    Patty B 43

  12. Wonderful giveaway. I am reading Ember Island, and will be starting Lunch with Buddha. Susan Mallery's books are delightful.

  13. I've been reading a lot of older categories lately especially Marie Ferrarella. When you're in the mood, read And Babies Make Four (the hero has pined for the heroine since high school and she has always yearned for him) Nothing earth-shattering but quick and cute.

  14. Although I'm not a beach bunny, these are the books I look forward to this summer.
    Carolyn brown- how to marry a cowboy 7/14 and long Texas summer 8/14
    Rosanne Bittner- desperate hearts 9/14
    Toni Blake- all I want is you 5/14
    These are the books I have read and really enjoyed!
    Lacey Weatherford- chased dreams. This is the 3rd book in a awesome series.
    Carolyn brown- red hot chill cook-off. Carolyn's books are just great books period!
    Thanks for the chance to win one of my books on my TBR list plus some other fabulous new authors books!

    1. Oops I forgot another great author and a awesome book.
      Becky McGraws- borrowing trouble!

  15. I'm so glad you got a chance to have a fun time at the beach. It is wonderful how the sounds of the waves in the background while you are reading is the most relaxing thing ever. I live close to the beach but our weather has been rather wet lately. Hope to see more sun soon.

    I have such a mixed bag of books that I want to read and the list continues to grow. A few I'm anxious for are:
    The Fortune Hunter - Daisy Goodwin
    The Fall of Lady Grace - Julia London
    The Danger in Tempting an Earl - Sophie Barnes
    That Summer - Lauren Willig
    How Paris Became Paris - The Invention of the Modern City - Joan DeJean (I love reading everything I can about the history of my beloved Paris!)

    I have recently enjoyed a number of novels such as:
    Lady of Ashes - Christine Trent (Story of a female undertaker in Victorian England. Very interesting and a wonderful plot.)
    Thornbrook Park - Sherri Browning (I believe this releases today. A fabulous story. Loved it!)

    Wishing you a wonderful summer and hoping North Carolina is much drier this year. Would love to be up there right now doing some hiking!

    All the best!

    Connie Fischer

  16. Hi Everyone! I'm sitting on the beach with my kindle as I type this. It's a beautiful day! Thanks for dropping by and sharing. Good luck in the drawing! :)

  17. A great bag of books. the books I would love to read Stormy Persuasion by Johanna linsey and a series books I love reading series and hanna howell books

  18. The beach is one of my favorite places to read! One book that I want to read this summer is Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan. It will be released on June 24.

  19. I seem to be going back in (romance) time this month by reading old romance novels from the 80's-90's: "Louisiana Lovesong" (Wanda Owen), and currently reading one of Bertrice Small's old novels from her Skye O'Malley series (I love her other series also). Other than that, I'm eyeing that book by Johanna Lindsey (she and B Small are among one of the very first romance authors I read), and the 2 CR books you posted.

    1. Oh, and did I tell you that you're envied, not that you don't deserve to be by the beach. The pic would have done the jealousy justice w/o your beginning of sensuous prose of caress, serenade, lapping..... PJ. (((loooong-drawn-out sigh)))

  20. Just discovered Julie Ann Walker - Hell on Wheels - loved it and now have to get the others in the series. Also looking forward to reading Toni Blake's latest.

    Natalie's Mama

  21. I have been reading Tawny Weber's books lately. The next books on my TBR pile are TO LOVE A HIGHLANDER by Sue-Ellen Welfonder, SAPPHIRES ARE AN EARL'S BEST FRIEND by Shana Galen, BOUND TO THE HIGHLANDER by Kate Robbins, HIGHLAND SOLUTION and HIGHLAND COURAGE by Ceci Giltenan.

  22. Anything by Jill Shalvis. I am reading Emma Cane's A Town Called Valentine. Also wanting Eloisa James's book Three Weeks with Lady X at least thats what that is at the top of my list. Although I want be going to the beach.

  23. Fire Rising by Donna Grant, Air Bound by Christine Feehan, Twilight with the Infamous Earl by Alexandra Hawkins and these are just a few. There are many more.

  24. The books I've enjoyed recently are historical romances from authors, Kathryn LeVeque, Moriah Densley and Ann Lawrence. I've loved every single one of them. What I'm planning on reading next are western historicals from Kaki Warner; recent romantic suspense stories from Cynthia Eden, Diane Capri and J. Kenner; historical romances from Maya Rodale, Karen Ranney, Rose Gordon and Madeline Hunter; and some shifter paranormals from Terry Spears. What a conglomeration! And I'm excited about it all. :-) Thanks for asking. jdh2690@gmail.com

  25. I'm saving a big chunk of time for the latest Outlander... Written In My Own Heart's Blood...

  26. This summer I'm looking forward to reading two Kate Pearce reissues from her erotic Simply series, three true crime books, all of which are about serial killers/rapists, the new Johanna Lindsey book you've mentioned, and some older historical romances.

  27. I want to read I want to Hold your hand by Marie Force, Baby its you, All I want is You, Deeper Than Need by Shiloh Walker and of course all the "Nantuckett " books that come out every summer...

  28. seems like there's something almost every week (sometimes more than one) this summer to look forward to. makes me wish for the days when I had summers off in high school & could just read all day long :) books out by Miranda Neville, Stephanie Laurens, Virna DePaul, Correen Callahan, Dana Marie Bell, and the list goes on and on

  29. I'm trying not to be jealous :) As I type this, we are in a huge severe thunderstorm that looks like it's going to last all night and beach reads are the furthest from my mind! LOL... but I've got The Scandalous Adventures of the Sister of the Bride by Victoria Alexander and Mercy by Helen Kay Dimon on my to be read next pile. Thanks for sharing!

  30. Wonderful giveaway! I've just started "A Bride most Begrudging" by Deeanne Gist.

  31. Beach, here I come. My kindle is (or will be) loaded with Jill Shalvis, Julie James, Emily March and HelenKay Dimon. I love to get there early before it gets too crowded. Thanks for the giveaway! Crossing my fingers.

  32. Abbi Glines' Sea Breeze series

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  33. Some July releases I'll be reading at the beach:
    Escape by Mary Balogh, The Captive by Grace Burrowes (a new series), Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews, The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, Kate Noble's The Game and the Governess, and finally Vixen in Velvet by Loretta Chase out end of June

  34. Pj Thanks for your excellent recommendations!

    I'm currently reading Shana Galen's Diamond trilogy. I'm half way through book 2, Fallon's story.
    I just finished two books in Renee Ryan's Charity House series. I'm also enjoying Linda Lael Miller's Montana Sky series, Kat Martin's Against series, Susan Mallery Fool's Gold series, and Jill Shalvis's Lucky Harbor and Animal Magnetism series.

    Thanks for the chance to win a box of books. I'm looking forward to doing a lot of reading this summer. I love trying new authors.

  35. Books on my summer list include:
    A Shiver of Light--LKHamilton, Vixen in Velvet--Loretta Chase, That Night--Chevy Stevens, All Day and a Night--Alafair Burke, Then Came You--Jill Shalvis, Top Secret Twenty-One--Janet Evanovich, The Mistress Rebellion--Courtney Milan, Hadrian--Grace Burrowes,Terminal City--Linda Fairstein, Cop Town--Karin Slaughter, The Accidental Duchess--Madeline Hunter, When We Touch--Susan Mallery, Fast Track--Julie Garwood, An Ex to Grind in Deadwood--Ann Charles, The Game and the Governess--Kate Noble, A Wicked Temptation--Beverley Kendall, and Hit and Run--Laura Griffin & Allison Brennan.

    Thanks for the post and giveaway.

  36. Love With A Perfect Cowboy - Lori Wilde. Toni Blake's, Jill Shalvis, Susan Malleyr, Loretta Chase from those lists above. Carolyn Brown's How To Marry a Cowboy. Lady Wilde by Maire Claremont. What I Love About You by Rachel Gibson.

  37. I can't wait for the new WHISKEY book to come out...previous stories were wonderful! Reading the DEADWOOD series books now....funny, little mysterious, a bit of lovely romance add to the mix! Pick either series...they are both delightful! And I couldn't leave without mentioning Jodi Thomas HARMONY series!
    Helen MacDougall