Thursday, June 30, 2016

Review - - Stepping to a New Day

Stepping to a New Day
By Beverly Jenkins
Publisher: Morrow
Release Date: June 28, 2016 

Genevieve Gibbs, having rid herself of her cheating, thieving, utterly repulsive spouse, former Henry Adams mayor, Riley Curry, and Cletus, the loathsome hog Riley treasures, has declared her independence and is looking forward to being a new woman even if she is sixty-something. This time she refuses to change herself to please anyone—not even Clay Dobbs who has loved her for decades or Marie Jefferson, her housemate and lifetime best friend. There’s a new man in town, retired big rig driver Terrence Christopher “T.C.” Barbour, a widower who has arrived in Henry Adams from Oakland, California, to help another widower, his nephew Gary Clark, who is struggling to handle all the responsibilities of single parenthood. T. C. is not only a real gentleman and good looking enough to set Gen’s heart a flutter, but he also likes the new Genevieve.

Rev. Paula Grant, pastor and psychologist, has done wonders helping various members of the community with their problems, but her own seem to have increased with the death of her grandfather. Paula knows she will have to deal with her psycho aunt when she returns to Oklahoma for her grandfather’s funeral, but she is not prepared for all the secrets that will be revealed, some of them deeply buried.

These are the two leading stories in this seventh book in Jenkins’s Blessings series, set in Henry Adams, Kansas, a historic black town founded by freed slaves after the Civil War. However, there are several smaller stories as well. Fans of the series will be happy to see the town’s children are still a vital part of the scene, and other familiar characters play their necessary roles, including favorites such as town owner Bernadine Brown and Mayor Trent July and his wife Lily Fontaine July. Riley and Cletus return to complicate matters.

Long-time Jenkins readers may recognize Henry Adams as the setting of her first novel, Night Song (1994). The town has changed a great deal since Bernadine Brown bought it on eBay with a portion of the $275 million divorce settlement she and a tough lawyer exacted from Bernadine’s cheating husband (Bring on the Blessings, Book 1). The improvements to the town continue, and the population keeps growing. But the unique spirit of the town remains. 

Some label this book a contemporary romance, but I think it is closer to women’s fiction with romantic elements. The romance between Gen and T. C., both in their sixties, is sweet and endearing, but it is only a part of their stories and an even smaller part of the book over all. Regardless of the label applied, Jenkins gives readers a feel-good story that offers a mix of sweetness, humor, sentiment, and redemption. I’ve been reading the series since the first book, and I’m always ready for another visit to Henry Adams. I particularly liked that this novel shows characters over fifty still changing and growing. I definitely recommend this one.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Color My World With Summer

I love Summer. I love the long days filled with the warmth of the sun, boating on the lake, or lounging at the pool. I love soul-stirring sunrises at the beach, splashing in the waves, and relaxing with a cool drink and a good book. I love the music of summer; the upbeat, catchy tunes that have us moving, grooving, and singing along. I love the warm blanket of the sultry nights as the sun sets in a blaze of glory to be replaced by the exuberant dancing of fireflies against a dark, velvety backdrop. But, thinking about it this morning, I realized that one of the things I love most about summer is color. Bold, beautiful, vibrant, make-me-smile-and-twirl-with-joy color. Here are a few of the ways I add summer color to my life.

Flowers: Rachel and I begin our days with an early morning walk and as we navigate the streets and sidewalks of our neighborhood this time of year it seems that almost every day we're met with a new burst of color. Geraniums. Daisies. Lilies. Impatiens. Roses. Everywhere I look, there are beautiful bursts of color. I especially enjoy the geraniums on my patio and the colorful pinwheel that spins happily in the breeze. Don't pinwheels just scream summer? By the way, both the pinwheel and the cute straw hat in the photo above came from Dollar Tree. Only $1 for each of them!

Handbags: Most of the year I'm a warm brown or basic black kind of girl. That all changes when summer comes to call. Turquoise! Green! Yellow! Red! I love them all. This summer's favorite pop of handbag color is a gorgeous coral bag that I can toss over my shoulder and go. Plenty of room in there for the basic essentials...including my Kindle. You never know when you'll have a few extra minutes to lose yourself in a book, right?

Cool drinks in colorful containers: It's the season of smoothies, the more colorful, the better. Favorites include blueberry, strawberry, peach, and strawberry-banana, served up in my favorite red swirl or deep blue glasses on my colorful summer place mats.  Another favorite beverage when I want something lighter is homemade lemonade or Crystal Light's Raspberry Green Tea. Both great for quenching your thirst on a hot summer day.

Home Accessories: When the sun grows brighter so do the colors I surround myself with inside my home. Pillows, throws, bedspreads, and home accents in the colors of summer are easy and inexpensive ways to bring a light and airy feel to your living space. I adore the colors of the summer spreads in my master and guest bedrooms. They make me smile whenever I enter the rooms.

Pashminas:  Need to add a splash of color to a summer outfit? Looking for a light-weight wrap to stay warm and cozy while sipping morning coffee on the patio, dining al fresco, or indulging in some star gazing on cool nights? A soft, colorful pashmina shawl is perfect for the job. My special favorites are courtesy of an open-air market visit during a trip to Italy many years ago but I've added to my collection over the years by shopping the extensive assortment at two of my favorite stores, Charming Charlie and World Market. Their sales are terrific!

Jewelry: Big, bold, colorful, statement jewelry is a great way to indulge in the colors of summer. And it doesn't have to be expensive! My favorite place to score bright, vibrant, inexpensive summer jewelry is Charming Charlie. Here's a necklace and earrings set I bought there last year, in one of my favorite summer colors, for less than $20. And, hey, I just noticed it matches Sabrina Jeffries' sweater!

What do you enjoy most about summer?

How do you add summer colors to your life?

What's your favorite way to relax in the summer?

What are your favorite summer drinks?

Will you have more time to read over the next few months? 

What books are on your summer reading list?

I have a package of books for two randomly chosen people who leave a comment on this post. Deadline to be included in giveaway is 11:00 pm Thursday, June 30. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Blog Tour Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway - - A Gift for Guile

A Gift for Guile
By Alissa Johnson
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: July 5, 2016

Esther Walker-Bales has taken advantage of the absence of her protective sister and brother-in-law to leave the safety of her cottage in Derbyshire for a visit to London. Esther understands the risks she is taking. After all, she, along with her older sister and younger brother, were removed from London and set up in Derbyshire with new identities to protect them from the enemies of their father, William Walker, a notorious thief and con man who chose the role of informer for Scotland Yard over a prison sentence a few years before his death. But Esther has a reason to be in London, and she trusts in her own skills with a knife, honed at her father’s side, and in her disguise as a widow in heavy mourning, complete with veil, for protection.

Sir Samuel Brass disagrees. Esther’s disguise is not enough to conceal her identity from him. Brass is one of the three famous thief-takers of Scotland Yard who nine years ago, in the case that claimed William Walker’s life, saved a kidnapped duchess and earned themselves titles in the process. The trio left Scotland Yard to set up as private investigators. Samuel, who has known Esther since she was little more than a child sees the good in her but is also aware of an untamed quality. He tracks her from Derbyshire to London and appears at Paddington Station just in time to interfere with Esther’s appointment with an unusual blackmailer.

Esther is determined to complete the search that brought her to London. Samuel is determined to protect her. They compromise and thus begins a shared adventure that includes some wonderfully funny moments, ample sexual tension, and real danger plus an ongoing battle of wills between the fiercely independent Esther and the stubborn Samuel. The growing intimacy between the two and painfully acquired self-knowledge on both their parts make for a rewarding and believable HEA.

The mystery element in this second book in Johnson’s Thief Taker series takes second place to a richly developed relationship story that explores the difficult pasts of both hero and heroine. The verbal battles between Esther and Samuel are a delight even though Samuel, whose characteristic clumsiness of speech is magnified by his confusion over the feelings Esther evokes in him, is consistently outgunned by the witty and facile Esther. From tense to tender, their moments together are memorable. And their badminton game just may be the best game in historical romance since the Bridgertons played croquet.

Johnson avoids the trap of misunderstanding and has her protagonists talk to one another when conflict threatens the relationship—you know, like adults are supposed to do. Esther and Samuel are sympathetic, likeable characters individually; together they are irresistible. Readers who prefer the focus to remain on the lead couple should be particularly happy with this novel. Even Gabriel Arkwright, the third thief taker and clearly the hero of an upcoming book, is not allowed to distract from the central story.

My first Alissa Johnson novel was Practically Wicked in 2012, and I fell in love with her wit, her flawed and fascinating characters. I started on her backlist immediately after finishing that first book. A Gift for Guile is just one more reason Johnson is on my auto-buy list. A preference for character-driven romance is a refrain in discussions of the genre. If you are part of that chorus but also like a touch of adventure in the mix, I think you will enjoy Esther and Samuel’s story as much as I did. I highly recommend it. And if you love historical romance and have never read Alissa Johnson, A Gift for Guile is a good place to begin. Then you can start on the backlist.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fun Fact about the Victorian Age

 “Tight-lacing,” or the practice of cinching one’s corset to produce a ridiculously small waist, was not commonly practiced in the Victorian era.  Most women needed some freedom of movement (not to mention the ability to breathe) in order to take care of their daily responsibilities. Extreme binding and squishing, or the really crazy stuff like removing ribs, just weren’t practical for the average girl.  In fact, as fashionable as the tiny waist was, it didn’t stop ladies from buying tea gowns. Donned for informal entertainment at home, these loose fitting dresses were often designed to be worn without corset.

Excerpt from A Gift for Guile

Samuel grabbed Esther and shoved her behind him just as the gig raced by, launching a great wall of ditch water over the curb and onto him.
It soaked him through to the skin, and there was nothing he could do but drag a hand down his face and flick the excess moisture from his fingers.
Esther snickered. Actually, she coughed, but it was a hide-the-snicker sort of cough. It didn’t fool anyone.
He glowered at her.
She snickered again.
“Get in the carriage, Esther.”
For once, she complied without argument. She clambered inside, one hand covering her mouth. The moment the door was closed, her laughter filled the carriage.
“Oh. Oh, Lord.” She flipped up her veil. “I’m sorry. I’m terribly sorry. But the state of you. Good heavens.” She calmed herself a bit and reached over to pat his knee. “My hero.”
Then she laughed some more.
He ought to be offended, really. Annoyed at the very least. But he couldn’t seem to move beyond amazed.
He’d never heard her laugh before. Not like this. Not with her head tipped back and the sound just flowing from her.
Samuel wracked his brain for a single memory of Esther laughing, really laughing, and came up blank. Years ago, when she’d been little more than a girl, she had giggled. Once or twice, she may have chuckled. Certainly, he’d heard her snicker. But he hadn’t heard her laugh. Not as a child, and not since he’d known her as an adult.
The woman simply didn’t laugh in front of him.
It seemed an odd thing not to have noticed before now. Stranger still that he should find an ordinary sound so extraordinarily appealing. There was a sweet, clear tone to it that made him think of wind chimes. Not the tinny sort Mrs. Lanchor had hung in the garden two years ago (and the beast had mauled into oblivion three days ago) but the solid sort that put one to mind of woodwinds.
Her laugh reminded him of wind chimes that reminded him of woodwinds. By God, he was England’s finest poet.
“You’ve changed,” he murmured. There used to be a brittleness about her, a deep unhappiness she kept hidden away along with her kindness and honesty, all buried beneath a layer of cool indifference. He couldn’t see that brittleness anymore.
“Beg your pardon?” Her laugh tapered off slowly, and she looked at him uncertainly. “I didn’t mean to cause offense.” A spark of mischievousness lit in her blue eyes. “Well, maybe a little offense, but—”
“I’m not offended… Maybe a little offended,” he corrected with humor. “But I wasn’t implying that you’ve changed for the worse. It’s for the better.”
“Oh.” Her lips curved in a small, hesitant smile. “Thank you.”
“You’re happier, aren’t you?”
“I am,” she agreed, and so readily that he could only assume she’d given the matter some thought recently. “I am starting to be.”
“It is nice to see.” It was more than nice. It was something else, something more.
Here, he thought, was the woman he’d caught glimpses of before. The remarkable one who amazed and fascinated him. Only it wasn’t just a glimpse. He remembered her insistence that he wasn’t a hard man and her defense of the little boy. And he wondered now if the traits he admired in her had never been quite as buried or transient as he imagined. Anything could seem like a glimpse, he realized, if one looked away too quickly.

She's a liar.
She's a con.
She's a thief.
And God help him, but he'll do anything to keep her safe.

Beautiful and conniving, maddening and brilliant, Esther is everything private detective Samuel Brass shouldn't want. Esther knows she's put herself in terrible danger, but nothing will stop her from making amends—not her family's enemies, not old fears, and certainly not the domineering, interfering, and undeniably handsome former officer of the Scotland Yard. Yet whenever he's near, Samuel makes her long for a life that can never be hers…and wish she were worthy of being saved.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Review - - Sweet Little Lies

Sweet Little Lies
By Jill Shalvis
Heartbreaker Bay, Book 1
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: June 28, 2016 

I have a confession: I’m typically not a fan of books with “lie” or “lies” in the title. I suppose that stems from the fact that I don’t particularly care for stories where one of the leads withholds the truth from the other. And it’s only natural to assume that with “lie” or “lies” in the title, someone is holding on to a big, fat lie. (Though, yes, sometimes keeping a lie—big or small—is justified.) Having said that, I am a fan of books by Jill Shalvis, so I was certainly willing to give Sweet Little Lies a chance. I’m so glad I did. *grin*

Pru Harris is captain of a day cruise ship in the San Francisco Bay area. Since her parents died when she was nineteen, Pru has been somewhat of a loner. After she moves into her new apartment, she meets a few people who quickly welcome her into their circle. One of those people is Finn O’Riley, the owner of the pub next door. It doesn’t take long for Pru to find it difficult to think of him as only a friend. After all, he is a hottie and a really nice guy. She wants only the best for Finn, so she makes a wish for him when throwing a coin into the courtyard fountain. Unbeknownst to her, Pru gets more than she bargains for!

Sweet Little Lies is the first of a new series and a terrific contemporary romance! It contains Shalvis’s trademark snappy dialogue and characters you fall in love with set in the big, beautiful city of San Francisco. I absolutely love Pru. She is such a selfless person that you can’t help but root for her. The fact that she’s never had a really close relationship fuels her insecurity that she might be unlovable. Oh, how my heart went out to her. It’s not hard for readers to fall in love with Finn. He owns O’Riley’s with his younger brother, Sean. Finn raised Sean after their father’s death, and he gave up a lot in order to do so. Finn is responsible and steadfast, while Sean is carefree and easygoing. Finn is the kind of guy you can rely on and wouldn’t hesitate to give you the shirt off his back. It’s no wonder Pru makes a wish for him! 

I also love the close group of friends. They are so incredibly likeable and funny that, at times, I was reminded of one of my favorite TV shows, Friends. I look forward to their stories in upcoming books. Adding to the humor is the homeless Old Guy and Pru’s neighbor, Mrs. Winslow. Oh my goodness, I found myself laughing out loud repeatedly! (Side note: I read much of this book while my family was on vacation. My husband did a lot of driving, so of course, I read. I lost track of how many times I received funny looks from him when I busted out laughing.) Throw in a cute mutt named Thor, a crazy game of darts, and perfectly worded hashtag epigraphs with each chapter, and you’ve got yourself a winner. Don’t miss out on this one!


Friday, June 24, 2016

Blog Tour Review and Excerpt - - Beauty and the Highland Beast

Beauty and the Highland Beast
A Highland Fairy Tale - Book 1 (digital)
By Lecia Cornwall
Publisher: SMP Swerve (an imprint of St. Martin's Press)
Release Date: June 21, 2016

Powerful and dangerous highlander Dair Sinclair was once the favored son of his clan, The Sinclairs of Carraig Brigh. With Dair at the helm, Sinclair ships circled the globe bringing home incredible fortune. Until one deadly mission when Dair is captured, tortured and is unable to save his young cousin. He returns home breaking under the weight of his guilt and becomes known as the Madman of Carraig Brigh.
When a pagan healer predicts that only a virgin bride can heal his son’s body and mind, Dair’s father sets off to find the perfect wife for his son. At the castle of the fearsome McLeods, he meets lovely and kind Fia MacLeod.
Although Dair does his best to frighten Fia, she sees the man underneath the damage and uses her charm and special gifts to heal his mind and heart. Will Dair let Fia love him or is he cursed with madness forever?

I'm always excited when a new Lecia Cornwall book comes out. This is an author who captured my attention with her debut novel and has kept me returning book after book with her innovative story ideas and writing that draws me into her fictional world, losing myself in the lives of her characters. While I've enjoyed all of her books, this one, Beauty and the Highland Beast is one of my favorites.

Dair and Fia are such worthy characters; flawed, complex, and the perfect counterbalance to one another. With the confidence of a natural leader and the swagger of a pirate, Dair sailed the world, conquering hearts and building his clan's fortune until the fateful mission that sent him spiraling into madness; the madness of grief and guilt. He can't forget the horror of his cousin's death, continuing to relive it in his dreams, sure that he's being haunted by her unforgiving ghost, and causing his clan to fear for his sanity, his very life. He captured my heart when he began to show his and I fought to save him as hard as Fia did. And Fia, oh, how I adored her.

Fia has spent her twenty years in the protective (some might say "smothering") cocoon of her family's love. A healer, beautiful Fia's kind heart and gentle ways draw both people and animals to her but her perceived clumsiness and fey nature lead people to believe she needs protecting and the pronounced limp and scars from a childhood injury mean she's most likely to remain a spinster for life. It was a joy to watch her blossom and become a strong, assertive woman willing to reach for her happiness and fight for what she deserves.

Filled with suspense, danger, and intrigue, Beauty and the Highland Beast is also laced with humor and brimming with passion. The characters are so fully developed they practically leap from the pages; the madness of the villains so perfectly portrayed they gave me chills while Dair and Fia filled my heart with love and affection. The secondary characters fill in all the extra spaces splendidly in scenes that are so vividly described, I felt as if I was right there with them. I especially enjoyed scenes between the brawny Sinclair men and Fia's cat, Beelzebub (appropriately named). And Fia's father? The fearsome chief whose heart is held in the collective palms of his twelve daughters? I adored him! I hope we'll see more of the MacLeod laird and his daughters in future books.


What's your favorite classic fairy tale?

Do you enjoy romances based on fairy tales? Have any favorites?

Have you read Lecia Cornwall's books yet?

I'm giving a Kindle copy of Beauty and the Highland Beast to one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment on today's post. Deadline for comments to be eligible for giveaway is 11:00 PM, Saturday, June 25, 2016. 

Beauty and the Highland Beast Excerpt  

How had the Sinclairs heard of Moire? She was a humble soul. She kept to herself, tended the ancient spring of the goddess, and helped only those who came to her. Fear numbed the icy blast of the wind as she stared up at Carraig Brigh’s bony tower, a crooked black finger rising from a solid fist of rock.

“Ye’ve made a mistake,” she whined as they rode under the iron teeth of the gate. “I’m naught but a simple midwife.” No one listened, and the wind carried her pleas over the edge of the cliff and drowned them in the bay below.

In the bailey, men stood in the light of gale-thrashed torches. There wasn’t a friendly face among them, or a word of welcome.

Someone hauled her off the garron, kept hold of her arm as he propelled her across the bailey. The portcullis fell with a metallic squall that ended on a human note, a wail of pure agony that floated down from the tower and made Moire’s innards curl against her backbone. The clansmen shifted uneasily, crossed themselves, and turned their eyes up to the narrow window high above them. 
Moire’s escort grabbed a torch from the nearest man as he opened an iron-studded door and pushed her up the steps inside.

“Do you truly have magic, old woman?” he asked. “You’d best hope you can conjure a cure.”

She stumbled. A witch. They thought they’d summoned a witch.

“A midwife, just a midwife,” she protested again, panting. The curving stone steps were steep, but he gave her no time to catch her breath. Her old legs were no match for his long, muscular ones. She scrabbled at his sleeve. “Please, there’s been a mistake.”

“There’s no mistake, Moire o’ the Spring. ’Tis you and no other we were sent to fetch. The chief would summon the devil himself if he thought it could save his son.”

“What’s wrong with him?” she found the courage to ask.

He grunted. “Have ye heard of Jean Sinclair?”

“Aye, of course. The lass they called the Holy Maid of Carraig Brigh,” Moire replied.

“That’s her. She was Alasdair Og’s cousin, the chief’s niece. Padraig wasn’t pleased when she decided to take holy orders and shut herself away in a French convent.” He rubbed a hand over his face. “’Tis a sad tale. They set sail from Sinclair Bay and put in at Berwick for the night, only to be ambushed by English soldiers. Alasdair Og thought there’d been a mistake, that they’d been taken for pirates, perhaps, or kidnapped for ransom. He imagined it would be a matter of a few days’ delay, an exchange of coin, and they’d be on their way again. But they didn’t bother themselves about ransom. They took the gold Alasdair Og was carrying right enough, and the goods, and the ship, and they murdered his crew. Then they beat Alasdair Og half to death, and threw him and Jean into the dungeon of Coldburn Keep.”

Moire put a hand to her throat, a shiver racing up her spine.

“Worst of all was what they did to poor wee Jean. They raped her, tortured her, then murdered her in front of Alasdair Og. He was chained to the wall, could do nothing to help her. She pleaded with God for help. She was just a slip of a girl. They said if she was Catholic and a Highlander, then she was no better than an idolatrous witch. ’Twas hatred—not just for the Scots, but for Alasdair Og in particular. They called him a pirate, blamed him for things that had nothing at all to do with the Sinclairs. It wasn’t wee Jeannie’s fight—Alasdair told them that, but they wouldn’t listen. He lay in his own filth for a fortnight, chained, wounded, and listened while they beat her, broke her bones, tormented her. 

They kept him alive to hear her screams.”

“And then?” Moire asked.

The man grimaced. “They hanged her as a heretic in the courtyard, forced Alasdair to his feet, made him stand at the window and watch.” He stared down at her from the step above. “He can’t forget any of it. That’s why they call him mad—he has nightmares, feels constant pain, and starts at shadows. 
Can you help him?”

She blinked. Did the holy maid haunt Alasdair Og Sinclair? Perhaps it was the devil’s work after all. Moire knew little of the Christian God, either Catholic or Covenanter. She followed the ancient goddess, tended her sacred spring . . .

Another guttural scream came from the top of the tower. Moire shrank against the cold stones of the wall and made a sign against evil.

Her companion took hold of her arm again. “Come on.” He opened a door at the top of the steps, dragged her through it. The room was nearly dark, lit by a single candle—expensive beeswax—and the dull glow of a brazier in the corner. The sweet scent of the candle mixed with the dark stink of old blood, corruption, and sweat. It was a smell Moire knew. It meant illness far beyond her ability to heal, and death.             

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Spotlight on Jill Shalvis' Sweet Little Lies

When Sweet Little Lies releases on June 28th, it will mark not only the start of a new contemporary romance series for Jill Shalvis but the beginning of a new career adventure: a move to HarperCollins Avon publishing. Shalvis' new Heartbreaker Bay series is set in the beautiful San Francisco Bay area where readers are sure to lose their hearts along with Shalvis' characters. And, as in many a Jill Shalvis novel, Sweet Little Lies features a dog readers can fall in love with too. Today, Jill shares with us five reasons why dogs make great sidekicks. (I wholeheartedly agree with all five!) 

You can follow Jill's adventures with her own canine sidekicks at her blog and Facebook page. The star of the photos below is Jill's fun-loving buddy, Frat Boy. 

Five reasons why dogs make great sidekicks...

1. Because when you’re on the mountain trail and you come across an angry mama bear and her baby cubs, your dog will run like hell.  This will warn you to run like hell as well.  Just be careful because if your dog is like my dog, he will throw you under the bus (or in this case bear) to get home before you do.

2. Because when all the cookies are gone you can totally blame your cookie loving dog.  No one has to know that you ate all the cookies yourself.  And your dog can give you dirty looks for blaming him but he can’t actually talk and dispute your story.  Solid alibi.

3. Because if you’ve eaten in a way that disagrees with your stomach, there are never any worries.  Your dog will always, ALWAYS, out stink you.  And if he doesn’t, you can still point the finger at him.  Again, he can’t talk and dispute your story.

4. Dogs are not just great sidekicks but they also make great a really great wingman.  If you’re single, you can totally put your dog to work at charming the person you’re interested in.  Just make sure that person likes dog drool and dog hair all over everything first.

5. There is never a need for a pillow or extra blanket because your dog will always be willing to get into bed with you and share body heat.  Always.  Just be forewarned.  Being a great sidekick is not the same thing as a good bed partner.  They have a habit of being a total bed hog.

From Sweet Little Lies

They ran through Fort Mason, along the trail above the water. Not that they could see the water today. The early morning fog had slid in so that Pru felt like she had a huge ball of cotton around her head. They came out at the eastern waterfront of the Port of San Francisco, constructed on top of an engineered seawall on reclaimed land that gave one of the most gorgeous views of the bay.
It was here that Thor refused to go another step. He sat and then plopped over and lay right in front of her feet.
A guy running the opposite way stopped short. “Did you just kill your dog?”
“No, he just doesn’t like to run,” she said.


Tell me about your pets. If you have a dog, what kind is it? 

Is he/she a runner or a relaxer? 

Do you have more reasons why dogs make great sidekicks to add to Jill's list?

Have you ever been to San Francisco? What's your favorite memory of the City by the Bay?

Are you as excited about a new series from Jill Shalvis as I am? I've had Sweet Little Lies on pre-order since it first appeared on Amazon. 

Choose the one guy you can’t have . . .
As captain of a San Francisco Bay tour boat, Pru can handle rough seas—the hard part is life on dry land. Pru loves her new apartment and her neighbors; problem is, she’s in danger of stumbling into love with Mr. Right for Anybody But Her.
Fall for him—hard . . .
Pub owner Finn O’Riley is six-foot-plus of hard-working hottie who always makes time for his friends. When Pru becomes one of them, she discovers how amazing it feels to be on the receiving end of that deep green gaze. But when a freak accident involving darts (don’t ask) leads to shirtless first aid, things rush way past the friend zone. Fast.
And then tell him the truth.
Pru only wants Finn to be happy; it’s what she wishes for at the historic fountain that’s supposed to grant her heart’s desire. But wanting him for herself is a different story—because Pru’s been keeping a secret that could change everything. . . .

For Buy links and another excerpt from Sweet Little Lies, visit Jill's website

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Today's Special - - Blog Tour: Debbie Mason's Happy Ever After in Christmas

Title:  Happy Ever After in Christmas
Author: Debbie Mason
Series: Christmas, Colorado #7
On Sale: June 28, 2016
Formats: Mass Market & eBook
Price: $5.99 USD

It's beginning to look a lot like love . . .

As her thirtieth birthday approaches, deputy Jill Flaherty decides it's time to live a little. When she walks into Sawyer Anderson's bar in her sexiest dress, she's not thinking that he's her brother's best friend or about the many women he dated during his years as a pro hockey player. All she's thinking is that it's finally time to confess to her longtime crush how she truly feels.

Sawyer is done being a player on and off the ice. Yet no one in the small town of Christmas seems to believe he's ready to settle down, not Jill, and certainly not Jack, who is determined to keep Sawyer from breaking his little sister's heart. But as Sawyer and Jill's relationship heats up, can he prove that he's her happy ever after?

I've been hooked on Debbie Mason's Christmas, Colorado series since reading The Trouble With Christmas, the book that started it all and hoping for a while now that sexy Sawyer and prickly Jill would get a book of their own. As with the other books in the series, there's plenty of humor and a whole lot of heart in this story, the final one in the Christmas, Colorado series. Loose ends are tied up, a pivotal secondary character in the series gets a surprising happy ending and Sawyer and Jill finally get their HEA, though Mason sure does make them work for it. But that makes it all the sweeter. 


Deputy Jill Flaherty sat at her desk wrapping her brother's birthday present for his surprise party tonight. The yellow helium balloons she'd ordered were currently bouncing in front of her face. She lifted her hand to bat them way, ripping the paper off the present in the process. A present that she'd been painstakingly wrapping for the last ten minutes. Frustrated, she swore under her breath while shaking her fingers to free them of the tape and brightly-colored tissue paper.
            "You're stuck," Suze announced in an authoritative voice from behind her computer.
            "Thank you for your insightful observation," Jill grumbled at the forty-something woman sitting at the dispatcher's desk across the room as she bent her head to pull the tape off her fingers with her teeth. 
            Suze leaned around her computer and grinned. "I didn't mean literally. I mean you're stuck, stuck. That's why you've been so bitchy lately. You have the pre-30 birthday blues."
            "It's my fingers that are stuck, not me. And I'm not. . . " Jill sighed. "Okay, so maybe I have been a little bitchy. But it's because of all the overtime I've been putting in the past couple of weeks. I'm tired."
            She ignored the reference to her thirtieth birthday. She wouldn't admit to Suze that she was partially right. Like an ominous black cloud, the big 3-0 loomed large in Jill's mind. It always had. Her mother died two days before her thirtieth. Preparations for Jack's thirty-seventh birthday had served to remind Jill that her thirtieth was only five months away. 
            "Because you don't have a life."
            Jill lifted a hand still covered in tape and paper in an are-you-kidding-me gesture. "I do so. I have--"
            "Yeah, yeah, I know. You have friends and family and a job you love. Still doesn't mean you have a life. You put yours on hold when Jack was MIA. I had a front row seat so I know what I'm talking about."
            "I have a life," Jill reiterated without elaborating. Suze had stolen her ammunition. If having friends, family, and a job she loved didn't count, Jill didn't know what else to say.
            A chair scraped noisily on the tile floor and Suze took a seat across from her. "Okay, so tell me, when was the last time you hid the salami?" she asked.
            Jill frowned. "What . . ."
             Suze rolled her brown eyes as she peeled the last of the tape and tissue paper from Jill's fingers. "Bumped uglies. . . Did the horizontal mumbo?"
            "I have no idea what you're--"
            "Oh for godsakes, when was the last time you got laid?"
            Since the answer didn't immediately pop into her head, Jill hedged, "What does that have to do with anything?"
            "And there's your problem. You can't remember, can you?" Suze said as she rolled the paper and tape into a ball.
            "Yes, I can. Seven months ago," she said, taking a guess. Then realizing the number of months might unwittingly validate Suze's no-life pronouncement, Jill added, "Before you say anything, I've been busy."
            Suze pursed her lips and tossed the ball into the garbage can. "Don't buy two-sided tape again. And it was eight months ago with that accountant from Logan County."
            "Really? Huh. I could have sworn . . . " She took in the I-told-you-so look on Suze's lightly freckled face. "Oh, come on, that doesn't mean anything."
            "Yeah, it does. It says it all. You have unmemorable sex with unmemorable men. And do you know why you do?"
            "No, but I'm sure you're going to enlighten me," Jill said, carefully working the rest of the paper off Jack's present with a pair of scissors.
            "Fear," Suze said, taking the scissors from Jill's hand and looking her in the eyes. "You're afraid to get your heart broken. That's why you spend your time fantasizing about the man and life you want and not doing anything about it."
            "I do not fantasize about Sawyer," Jill blurted without thinking. She caught the triumphant look in Suze's eyes and quickly added, "Or any other man in town."


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The Trouble With Christmas, #1
Christmas in July, #2
It Happened at Christmas, #3
Wedding Bells at Christmas, #4
Snowbound at Christmas, #5
Kiss Me In Christmas, #6
Happy Ever After in Christmas, #7


Walmart (Special Edition)

Debbie Mason is the bestselling author of the Christmas, Colorado series. Her books have been praised for their "likable characters, clever dialogue and juicy plots" (RT Book Reviews). She also writes historical paranormals as Debbie Mazzuca. Her MacLeod series has received several nominations for best paranormal as well as a Holt Medallion Award of Merit. When she isn't writing or reading, Debbie enjoys spending time with her very own real-life hero, their four wonderful children, an adorable grandbaby, and a yappy Yorkie named Bella.


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