Friday, November 1, 2019

I'm Adventuring!







I'm off on another adventure! This time I'm heading across the 
(big) pond and will be gone for most of November. 
I'm putting the blog on vacation while I'm gone so that I can
 recharge and enjoy time with my family. 
I'll pick things back up with a blog tour review 
on Friday, November 22. 

I will, of course, post a travelogue when I return with photos 
and giveaways. I love browsing for fun giveaways in 
foreign countries! 
If you're on Instagram, follow me at @pjpuppymom 
for photo updates along the way.

I hope you all have a wonderful month. 

See you on the 22nd! 

~PJ

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Review - - The Bromance Book Club


THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB
by Lyssa Kay Adams
Publisher: Berkley
November 5, 2019
Reviewed by Hellie




The first rule of book club:
You don't talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott's marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him. 

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville's top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it'll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

Hellie’s Heeds:

TLDR: Hellie says GO ORDER THIS BOOK NOW. If Hellie could have given more than 5 stars, she would have. 

In case you need a bit more persuasion, let me say this book has flown to the top of my 2019 Best Reads. It may even be in the top 10 of best books for the decade. It was so funny and emotional and clever, I could not put the book down. 

I realized this was SUCH A BOOK when I brought in the book to work and read parts of it to my co-worker, Unicorn, who does not read romances herself. But I’ll make her listen. One day I’ll get her converted to the charm and brilliance of romance novels. This book definitely tipped the scales to it being a possibility because even she was completely charmed by the diverse group of men who made up the Bromance Book Club. I hadn’t even gotten a quarter way through the book before I’d logged onto Facebook in order to be part of Lyssa Kay’s Book Club. But I was a complete goner when I thought to myself: this woman could give Julie Anne Long a run for her money when it comes to funny and heart-felt. And now that Jules has gone back to historical set funny and heart-felt, Lyssa Kay has come and created a contemporary world I can’t wait to read more of. 

Please, please, please tell me there will be a book for Braden Mack. A scene stealer of the highest order, it was a miracle Gavin (the hero) still managed to outshine him (which is hard to do when you have secondary characters who steal scenes--but Lyssa Kay handles it well.) In fact, I would love a whole slew of books about the men in this book club, or at least a hopeful trilogy. Gavin, Mack...and some other hottie. A nice hat trick, you could say. Excuse me while I spin in a web of reader speculation….

That aside, the modern day twist of a marriage of convenience (so to speak) where the husband needs to woo back his wife was absolutely delicious. The drama of the WAGs (wives and girlfriends) and their hierarchy was such a rich setting conflict to the storyline--and you won’t be able to help but root for Thea. If you’ve ever been in a relationship where you didn’t know yourself anymore--and you came to a cross roads to determine if staying in the relationship was worth it, this is your story. A hero and heroine to truly root for and adore. And obviously plenty of secondary characters to add hilarity and drama. 

Put this book at the top of your TBR pile. I would share favorite scenes with you, but there are too many and I don’t want to ruin the New to Me Experience of reading it. In fact, I wish I could read it again for the first time...it was that delightful.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Review - - Aurora Blazing



AURORA BLAZING
by Jessie Mihalik
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Reviewed by Hellie
 


To save her brother and protect her family’s future, a powerful princess must join forces with a dashing man from her past in this thrilling space adventure, the second novel in the Consortium Rebellion trilogy.

As the dutiful daughter of High House von Hasenberg, Bianca set aside her personal feelings and agreed to a political match arranged by her family, only to end up trapped in a loveless, miserable marriage. When her husband unexpectedly dies, Bianca vows never to wed again. Newly independent, she secretly uses her wealth and influence to save other women stuck in dire circumstances. Information is power and Bianca has a network of allies and spies that would be the envy of the ’verse—if anyone knew about it.
When her family’s House is mysteriously attacked, Bianca’s oldest brother, the heir to House von Hasenberg, disappears. Fearful for her brother’s life, the headstrong Bianca defies her father and leaves Earth to save him. Ian Bishop, the director of House von Hasenberg security—and Bianca’s first love—is ordered to find and retrieve the rebellious woman.
Ian is the last man Bianca wants to see. To evade capture, she leads him on a merry chase across the universe. But when their paths finally collide, she knows she must persuade him to help her. Bianca will do anything to save her sibling, even if it means spending time alone on a small ship with the handsome, infuriating man who once broke her heart.
As the search takes them deep into rival House Rockhurst territory, Bianca must decide if she can trust Ian with the one piece of information that could destroy her completely . . .

Hellie’s Heeds:

I feel the blurb makes the book sound more like a romance than it is. This book is classified as science fiction/ space opera, which it definitely is; and the romantic elements feel to be fourth or fifth down the list of classifications. As an adventure story, this book ticks all the marks, though admittedly I don’t read a lot of classic action-adventure per se, so those who do might have other opinions. (I know some people who read sci-fi may read this and go, “there’s too much romance!”--laughable--or “the world-building is cliched/stolen from a movie” which I wouldn’t know because I don’t watch a lot of sci-fi action movies either. To me, the plot felt plausible and the world-building detail didn’t seem to contradict each other or feel cliched. The writer’s voice and setting detail was such that I was still able to lose myself in the story without questioning every little thing. I know some readers who do read more of this kind of fiction may not be able to lose themselves as easily, much like when I read certain historical period books where I “know too much” and pick apart character development and plot.

The romantic elements were a struggle for me. While I believe the hero and heroine were both good people, so I wouldn't object to them being together, their chemistry felt non-existent for me. The author tried; and again, in a primary action-adventure, it would have been ludicrous to constantly make the heroine aware of the hero and how much she wants to jump him in a crucial situation where their lives are on the line, but at the same time, by the time they did get together, it felt off for them to even hook up. I think this might be a struggle in many romantic element type books. In a straight up romance, there is more chemistry tension than this particular book allowed, so when I get to a sex scene in a regular romance, I usually devour the scene as feverishly as the characters are devouring each other. Not so in this book. I mostly rolled my eyes and skimmed until we could get to the next scene. THAT. NEVER. HAPPENS. Now if you are a reader who skips those scenes anyway, this may not bother you, but I do enjoy those scenes and it was disappointing for me. 

Overall, I think the story and characters are well-done, the pace is fast and kept the plot tight, and the world building is interesting enough to hold my attention. (It would have been handy to also have had a glossary because there were a number of acronyms and Houses, et al, where it would have been nice to refer to keep me organized of what was going on and what things were called. The author did make a notable effort to be clear with new terminology, et al, but I have the memory of a gnat, so a glossary would have been helpful for me.) I would like to go back and read the first in the trilogy, POLARIS RISING, and I’d be interested in reading the book coming in 2020 as well. I think the author’s voice and storytelling outweighs the romantic elements problems I had.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Review - - Angel in a Devil's Arms


Angel in a Devil's Arms
by Julie Anne Long
The Palace of Rogues - Book 2
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: October 29, 2019
Reviewed by PJ





He has devil’s blood in his veins. At least, that’s always been the legend. How else could the Duke of Brexford’s notorious bastard son return from the dead? The brutal decade since Lucien Durand, Lord Bolt, allegedly drowned in the Thames forged him into a man who always gets what—and who—he wants. And what he wants is vengeance for his stolen birthright . . . and one wild night in Angelique Breedlove’s bed.
Angelique recognizes heartbreak when the enigmatic Lord Bolt walks into The Grand Palace on the Thames, and not even his devastating charm can tempt her to risk her own ever again. One scorching kiss drives home the danger.
But in the space between them springs a trust that feels anything but safe. And the passion—explosive, consuming—drives Lucien to his knees. Now his whole life depends on proving his love to a woman who doesn’t believe in it . . . because his true birthright, he now knows, is guardian of Angelique Breedlove’s heart.

My thoughts:

You know those books that fill you with pleasure from beginning to end; hold you tight until you've read the very last word, even if that's at 3:00 AM? The ones that leave you in a state of such satisfied bliss that it's a week - at least - before you can even begin to contemplate the thought of starting a new story? This is one of those books. 

Julie Anne Long is at her best in this newest installment of her The Palace of Rogues series, creating a story filled with heartache, humor, deep passion, revenge, redemption, sweet poignancy, reconciliation, and love. And all wrapped in the sheer beauty of Long's powerful, evocative prose. With characters brought to life in glorious, gritty detail. This one's a keeper and already sitting on my Best of 2019 list. 

I loved Lucien and Angelique. Both have been hurt in the past, both betrayed, and both very determined in the paths forward they have chosen. I love how they both evolve over the course of the story, how they slowly begin to shed their protective shields and open their hearts to one another. How the protector, and protected, ebbs and flows along the way.

The surrounding cast is rich in intriguing characters with the boarding house scenes, especially among the men, sheer perfection. I loved the friendship that develops between unlikely characters, leading to unexpected opportunities. The dispatching of the story's villain is brilliantly executed and the resulting introduction of a new character into Lucien's and Angelique's lives had my heart sighing with delight. I do hope he'll show up again in future books. I want to see this relationship - and this character - as they grow. 

While Angel in a Devil's Arms can be read as a standalone, there are many facets to Angelique's character as well as her friendship with Delilah and the events that led to them opening a boarding house near the docks that are uncovered in book one, Lady Derring Takes a Lover. For a more complete understanding, and appreciation, of Angelique and her journey, I recommend reading the two books in order. Like I'm going to. Again. 


Monday, October 28, 2019

Coming Attractions







The Romance Dish will be on vacation November 1 - 21
See you on the flip side!





Join me Friday, November 22, for my tour review of It's not PMS, It's You by Rich Amooi. This looks like another fun romcom from one of my favorites. 








Monday, November 25 brings the Wendy LaCapra Diamond in the Rogue tour to the Dish with a review of this much anticipated story in LaCapra's Lords of Chance series.






On Tuesday, November 26, I'll have a Q&A with B.J. Daniels along with my review of her new book, Restless Hearts. This romantic suspense, western tale launches Daniels' new Montana Justice series.







Wednesday, November 27, brings another Coastal Magic Spotlight. Stop by to meet Amalie Howard and learn more about her and her new historical romance, The Beast of Beswick






The month wraps up with my tour review of The Perfect Fit on Friday, November 29. This new romcom by Mary Jayne Baker takes readers to England for some holiday fun in the Yorkshire Dales.





Hope you all have a wonderful month of November! 

Review, Q&A, and Giveaway - - The Lady's Deception by Susanna Craig


The Lady's Deception
by Susanna Craig
Rogues and Rebels - Book 3
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Release Date: October 29, 2019
Reviewed by PJ
    


Can a runaway English bride find love with a haunted Irish rebel?
 
Paris Burke, Dublin’s most charismatic barrister, has enough on his mind without the worries of looking after his two youngest sisters. The aftermath of a failed rebellion weighs on his conscience, so when the young English gentlewoman with an unwavering gaze arrives, he asks far too few questions before hiring her on as governess. But her quick wit and mysterious past prove an unexpected temptation.
 
Rosamund Gorse knows she should not have let Mr. Burke think her the candidate from the employment bureau. But after her midnight escape from a brother bent on marrying her off to a scoundrel, honesty is a luxury she can no longer afford. With his clever mind and persuasive skill, Paris could soon have her spilling her secrets freely just to lift the sorrow from his face. And if words won’t work, perhaps kisses would be better?
 
Hiding under her brother’s nose, Rosamund knows she shouldn’t take risks. If Paris learns the truth, she might lose her freedom for good. But if she can learn to trust him with her heart, she might discover just the champion she desires . . .


My thoughts:

Susanna Craig has penned another enjoyable installment in her Rogues and Rebels series featuring the Burke family of Ireland. After reading the first two books in the series, I was left wondering if Paris would be able to engage my emotions as much as his sisters had. He was a very angry man and I didn't much like him. By the time his book begins, the anger has mellowed somewhat though other emotions have surfaced that leave him struggling with guilt and remorse. Craig excels at creating complex characters with layers of emotion that are gradually revealed as their stories are told and drawing me into their thoughts and their journey. By the time this book ended, I was firmly in Paris's corner and cheering him on to familial reconciliation and a happy ending.

I admired Rosamund's determination to not be forced into an untenable position by her brother and the lengths she was willing to go to avoid it. I enjoyed the chemistry between Paris and Rosamund, the banter between them, and the attraction they both dance around.  I enjoyed her intelligence, her creativity, her growth throughout the book and the self-confidence that blossoms within her after she impulsively jumps into the unexpected position of governess to Daphne and Bell. And those two! I adored them and am keeping my fingers crossed that sometime down the road Craig may decide to give the grown-up Daphne and Bell stories of their own. 

As with her other books, Craig's impeccable research shines through in The Lady's Deception. She always gives me an emotional romance but the history within which those romances are set never fails to enrich my base of knowledge. I've thoroughly enjoyed her foray into Ireland and learning more about their struggles with the British while, at the same time, falling in love with the eclectic Burke family. I can't wait to find out what she has in store for readers next. 


   ~~~~~~~~~~~

Q&A with Susanna Craig


Welcome back, Susanna!

Thanks for having me, PJ! It’s lovely to be here again.

The Lady’s Deception, the third book in your Rogues and Rebels series will be released tomorrow. What should readers expect in this story?

It’s a forbidden attraction story between a tormented Irish barrister and an Englishwoman on the run from a disastrous match. She pretends to be the governess he hired for his younger sisters, while he pretends not to be falling for her. It is a stand-alone story, though if you’ve read the first two Rogues & Rebels books, you’ll also get to catch up with the rest of the Burke family.

One of the facets of your writing that I always enjoy is the well-researched historical detail. What have you uncovered in researching your books that has most surprised – or fascinated – you?

Thank you so much! I love to do research, and I also get some help from my husband, who is a historian. For this series, my research has included some serious subjects (the United Irishmen’s Rebellion in 1798, a horrifically violent and ultimately failed attempt to secure Irish independence from British rule), some exciting ones (spying during the Napoleonic era—I even took a workshop on secret correspondence!), and some fun ones (botany, especially). While researching The Lady’s Deception, I learned that in the late eighteenth century, some Dublin barristers were such a hot commodity, ladies went to the trials to watch them at work, hoping to catch their eye. You can bet that detail made its way into the story!

It was fun getting to know the younger Burke siblings, Daphne and Bell, in this book. They darn near steal every scene they’re in. Do you have any plans for them down the road?

They were a lot of fun to write (and my daughter, who is nine, was a live-inspiration for a lot of the girls’ antics)! I don’t have any official plans for them, but I would love to bring them back in a later series, when they’re all grown up. They would surely set proper society on its ear!

I love that so many of your books are set outside the typical social sphere of London. They make me want to pack my bags and travel to craggy seaside villages, sultry Caribbean islands, and verdant country locales. If money were no object, what country or area would you most want to explore? Would you lean toward the cities or more rural locations?

I spend a lot of time on the settings of my stories, so I love it when readers enjoy those elements. As far as where I’d explore? That’s a tough choice! It would be amazing to see Italy, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand…I really can’t pick. I am generally more of a country girl, and most of my travel pics are landscapes, but I do love to visit museums and historic sites too.

Autumn temperatures have finally arrived at my house and I’m immersing myself in everything I most enjoy about this season, like homemade soups, football, apple-cider scents, and apple desserts. Which season is your favorite? Do you have signature scents for each season? Favorite comfort foods?

For me it’s a tie between autumn and winter, and you’ll find my house smelling of cinnamon and spice at least half the year! Cold weather is a great excuse to make things cozy—hot chocolate, a fire in the fireplace, a snuggly blanket or sweater, and a good book, of course! Just yesterday, I decided it was finally cool enough to make soup in the crock pot, and I’ll be ready to bake for the holidays before long.

What’s on your writing horizon? Do you have a new series in the works? Are you able to share any information about it?

I do have a new series in the works! It’s called “Love and Let Spy” and the stories will be my Regency takes on classic 1980s TV suspense. The first book was inspired by Magnum PI: a Scottish intelligence officer unexpectedly inherits an earldom, but finds his castle inhabited by a persnickety Englishwoman, who turns out to be a gothic novelist in need of his protection. Look for Who’s That Earl in fall 2020.

Thank you for visiting with us today, Susanna, and thank you for introducing us to the Burke family. I have thoroughly enjoyed traveling their journeys to love with them. Is there anything you’d like to add? Would you like to ask my readers a question?

Thank you again for having me at the Romance Dish! I would love to hear what everyone is looking forward to this fall. And I have copies of the first two Rogues & Rebels books, The Companion’s Secret and The Duke’s Suspicion, for one lucky commenter (ebook or print; US shipping only for print).

Winner randomly chosen from all comments posted before 11:00 PM, October 29, 2019. Must be 18 or older. 











Saturday, October 26, 2019

Today's Special - - Spotlight & Giveaway: Christmas at Caynham Castle

I'm excited to welcome the authors of the upcoming holiday anthology, Christmas at Caynham Castle, to the blog today. Please give them all a warm welcome!




Christmas at Caynham Castle




Hi, everyone!  I’m Nancy Northcott, and my friends and I are excited to share our forthcoming holiday anthology, Christmas at Caynham Castle, with you. I have a weakness for Christmas collections. At busy times, I like having something I can read that’s shorter than a novel, and I love stories set during the holiday season. I wasn’t surprised to discover my co-authors felt the same way. So the seven of us got together and devised various Christmas celebrations at an imaginary castle.

Jeanne Adams and I created Caynham Castle, which is inspired by Ludlow Castle in Shropshire (England).  Unlike Ludlow, which is a well-preserved ruin, Caynham Castle is a hotel, bustling with life and brimming with holiday spirit. Once we had the castle layout and basics, the entire group then added details of the castle and the nearby town, Caynham-on-Ledwyche.

I had a great time reading what everyone came up with for Christmas at Caynham Castle. We hope you’ll enjoy that too!

Here’s a bit about the stories:

Her Heart in His Pocket ~ Donna MacMeanshttps://www.donnamacmeans.com

About a year ago, I asked my readers what secondary character they’d like to see featured in a Christmas novella and they chose Ben from Redeeming the Rogue.  I love the resulting novella and I hope you do as well. A surprise reunion of a pickpocket turned lady’s maid and a mysterious unexpected footman occurs just in time for the Christmas Frost Ball at Caynham Castle. The past of each could jeopardize the future of the other, and the future of Caynham Castle itself.




A Perfect Grey Christmas ~ Anna Sugdenhttps://www.annasugden.com

Readers often ask me about Ryan Grey, a former NJ Ice Cat who runs Grey’s Steakhouse, and who appears in several of my books. Christmas at Caynham Castle gave me the opportunity to explore Ryan’s story. Since concussion issues forced Ryan to give up hockey, and his dream of winning the Stanley Cup, it seemed important to give him his chance at glory – hence having him compete for the ultimate prize in cooking. Only one woman would do for Ryan’s heroine – Lydia, his former business partner and the woman he once loved, who left him to marry an English lord. Things are about to get hot in the kitchen!





The Ghost of Christmas Past ~Jeanne Adamshttps://www.jeanneadams.com 

In The Ghost of Christmas Past, Dr. Denby “Bee” Alden, is a bee expert and one of the witches from my Witches of Haven Harbor series. She’s come to Caynham Castle at Christmas to research ancient beekeeping techniques…and to escape. The ex-boyfriend who dumped her is getting married and she wants to be far away when that happens. While there, she meets the Earl of Caynham. A castle ghost helps them both find something to celebrate! I hope you enjoy Bee and Ward’s story!




Christmas Crossroads ~ Caren Cranehttps://www.carencrane.com

My story is about a young woman from my fictional town of Cross Springs, NC, who was orphaned young and has not found a place to call “home” until she lands in Caynham-on-Ledwyche and meets a local man who is reconnecting with his hometown.







Still ~ Seressia Glasshttp://seressiaglass.com

Still is set in my Shadowchasers universe. Morgan Lafayette is a Light Witch who got injured while astral traveling. She teams up with fellow traveler Arthur Davies and Shadowchaser Kira Solomon to defeat the creature that hurt her and finds love and a new friend in the process.






Crewel Fate ~ Gail Z. Martin ~https://ascendantkingdoms.com 

Crewel Fate was inspired by the many embroidery samples I’ve seen when touring historic homes. When Teag Logan and his fiancĂ© Anthony Benton travel to England to celebrate their engagement, Teag’s magic and supernatural experience hone in on restless ghosts, an old scandal and century-old secrets that could turn deadly. Can Teag and Anthony solve the mystery and settle the ghosts before the Ball, or will more people join the ranks of the castle ghosts? Crewel Fate is part of my Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series, and falls immediately after the newest novel, Inheritance. 





The Last Favor ~ Nancy Northcotthttps://www.nancynorthcott.com

The Last Favor, part of my Arachnid Files spy series, was inspired by my experiences and those of friends in dealing with loss at the holidays. Grayson (Gray) Kane, the hero, comes to Caynham Castle to pick up an award for his late father. Dealing with his loss amid the families celebrating the holiday makes him question his solitary life as an covert agent. His partner, Laurel Whitney, joins him to protect Gray from an assassin. As the long-suppressed attraction between them flares anew and a killer closes in, she must decide whether she has the courage to seize what she has always wanted.



~~~~~~~~~~~

Many thanks to all of the authors for visiting with us today and sharing a bit about their contributions to Christmas at Caynham Castle. This anthology is definitely going on my holiday reading list!

Christmas at Caynham Castle will be available November 20 through most ebook vendors. Jeanne Adams and Nancy Northcott return on December 4 to share the process of creating the castle.

Readers, do you have questions for the authors?

What's your favorite story with a castle in it? 

One person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM (EST), October 27, will receive a Kindle copy of Christmas at Caynham Castle (gifted to winner on November 20). 


Friday, October 25, 2019

Review - - The Highlander's Christmas Bride


The Highlander's Christmas Bride
by Vanessa Kelly
Clan Kendrick - Book 2
Publisher: Zebra Books
Release Date: October 29, 2019
Reviewed by PJ
 

Being thrown over by the man she expected to marry was humiliating enough. Now that Donella Haddon, grandniece of the Earl of Riddick, has also proven a failure as a nun, she has no choice but to return to her family's estate. The brawny Highlander sent to escort her is brash, handsome, and the only thing standing between Donella and a gang of would-be kidnappers. But the scandal in her past can't be so easily outrun . . .
 
Wealthy widower Logan Kendrick was expecting to meet a plain, pious spinster--not a gorgeous, sharp-tongued lass who can hold her own in any ambush. Though she's known as the Flower of Clan Graham, Donella is no shrinking violet. In fact, she might be the perfect woman to bring happiness back to his lonely little son's life, just in time for Christmas.  But first he must protect her from ugly gossip and a mysterious threat--and convince her that their wild, unexpected desire is heaven sent.


My thoughts:

I've been reading Vanessa Kelly's books since her debut. Some make me laugh, some make me cry, some make me sigh with delight. Many do all three. Then there are those that introduce me to characters who draw me into their hearts and their lives; characters who make make me want to revisit them time and again. The Highlander's Christmas Bride is one of those books and Logan, Donella and Joseph (Logan's son- I adored that kid), three such characters. 

This book is just so much fun. It made me laugh, made me cry, made me want to go back and re-read passages over and over. I loved Donella. Having read the book where she was first introduced, I was not prepared for the new "kicked to the curb by the convent" version of her. I loved her determination, her spirit, and how her non-pious side kept slipping through. I love how protective she is of Logan's son and how they both grow within that relationship. It was so enjoyable watching her evolve as she takes control of her life, starts speaking her mind, grows closer to Logan and his family, and begins to understand, and accept, her true life path. And I love how she finally takes charge of - and responsibility for - the events of the past that have guided her life to this point.  

Logan is one of my all-time favorite Vanessa Kelly heroes. My heart ached for everything he'd been through and cheered his newly restored relationship with his family. I loved Logan and Donella together; how she stoked his interest and respect while they were on the run from kidnappers, how he introduced her to her sensual side and opened her eyes to possibilities of a different life than she had imagined. I loved the courting process that only one of them seemed to be aware of. Of course, their eventual love didn't come without a few bumps - and one nasty ex - along the way. I'll be honest. I wanted consequences for that woman!

There's a lively cast of family members from previous (and hopefully, future) books who are all up in Logan and Donella's business in this book. It's fun catching up with everyone but, at times, it can be a bit overwhelming and detract from the primary couple. Overall, though, I loved seeing everyone in both Logan's and Donella's families and how they interact as well as how previous couples' relationships are progressing. Kelly is very good with family dynamics. 

While The Highlander's Christmas Bride can be enjoyed as a standalone, for a deeper understanding of the characters and the journeys that have brought them to this point, I suggest also reading The Highlander's Princess Bride (Victoria Knight & Nick Kendrick), The Highlander Who Protected Me (Royal Kendrick & Ainsley Matthews), and the book in which Donella first appears, How to Marry a Royal Highlander (Alec Gilbride & Eden Whitney).   

Are you reading Vanessa Kelly's Clan Kendrick series? Do you have a favorite Kendrick couple so far? Whose book are you most looking forward to reading? 

Review - - The Scrooge of Loon Lake


The Scrooge of Loon Lake
by Carrie Nichols
Small-Town Sweethearts - Book 4
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Reviewed by PJ
    


It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

…with the grumpiest man in town!

The love of his life left him. The navy discharged him. So former lieutenant Des Gallagher sees no reason to celebrate Christmas—now or ever.

Yet when Natalie Pierce shows up on his doorstep, a bright light enters his gloomy existence. As Des shapes her—and her little son’s—world for the better, she wonders if a scrooge could turn into the perfect Santa…



My thoughts:

Carrie Nichols never fails to touch my heart with her small-town romances and The Scrooge of Loon Lake is no exception. Both Natalie and Des have some serious emotional wounds but how they respond to them is totally different. Des chooses to hide away on his farm, interacting with the residents of Loon Lake as little as possible and ignoring the approaching holiday. Natalie, on the other hand, embodies the spirit of Christmas with her generosity, kindness, and community involvement. Not to mention the delicious plates of cookies she keeps delivering to Des as she tries to gain his cooperation for a charity auction. They may be total opposites but they are oh, so good together!

Nichols writes wonderful banter between Des and Natalie as she gradually, and skillfully, guides them into friendship and love. Natalie's young son is a heart-stealer. Nichols shows great sensitivity - and realism - in creating this young character who has lost his ability to speak following an accident three years earlier that killed his father and left Sam with a traumatic brain injury. I love the relationship that forms between Sam and Des almost as much as the one between Des and Natalie. But I really love the three of them together. I laughed, sighed, and also shed a few tears as I caught up with previous Loon Lake couples while gathering this newly formed family into my heart. 

If you're looking for a quick, sweet, holiday romance with well-placed humor, a satisfying depth of emotion, and a tear-inducing happily ever after, give The Scrooge of Loon Lake a try.