Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Review, Q&A, Giveaway - - Beyond Fear

Beyond Fear
by Connie Mann
Publisher: Connie Mann
Release Date: November 29, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Sometimes, wild animals aren’t the biggest danger in the forest

After her mother’s murder two years ago, sharpshooter Lisa Bass returned to Florida to start over – and try to earn her grandmother’s forgiveness. She loves her job as a Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission officer, and teaching a weekly self-defense class helps keep the guilt at bay. So when the husband of one of her students is murdered, Lisa is absolutely determined the woman won’t get railroaded for a crime she didn’t commit.

Newly promoted Sheriff’s Detective Pete “Bulldog” Tanner believes spouses are always the prime suspect, but when the clues point to blackmail and illegal game hunting, he’s not sure what to think. Especially when their prime suspect vanishes.

Neither Lisa nor Pete relish working a joint investigation, not with the unexpected and unwelcome attraction crackling between them. But when Lisa is targeted and more people disappear, they will have to trust each other to stop the killers that are closing in fast.

PJ's Thoughts:

Mann kept me on the edge of my seat with this one! With an intricately woven mystery, breath-stealing suspense, unwelcome desire, and twists and turns around every corner, I was kept eagerly flipping pages from the beginning all the way to the explosive conclusion. I could not put it down. 

Reading a book in this series is always an immersive experience. The author has the ability to describe the location in such a way that places me right in the middle of the action. Even if I had never visited this area of Florida, reading Beyond Fear would have brought it to vivid life on the page. It's almost a character in itself. 

I enjoyed the friction between Pete and Lisa, how they gradually evolved from adversaries to working partners to a romantic couple. The main focus of this book is definitely on the action and suspense (do not underestimate Lisa!) but romance fans won't be left wanting.

Lisa's strained relationship with her grandmother is another key element of the book that gives readers insight into Lisa's background and personality. My feelings were fully engaged in this thread and my heart was firmly with Lisa. I was happy with the way that played out. 

If you enjoy romantic suspense thrillers with plenty of action, lead characters you can root for, dastardly villains, and enough twists to keep you guessing until the big reveal, pick up a copy of Beyond Fear. I highly recommend it. 

Q&A with Connie Mann

Hi Connie! Thank you for answering a few questions for us today. Beyond Fear, the newest book in your Florida Wildlife Warriors series released yesterday, November 29. Congratulations! What should readers expect from this book? 

Thanks so much for having me and helping me celebrate this new story. Beyond Fear is another Florida-set romantic suspense, centered around the Tanner family. Here are some of the things I love – and think readers will love - about Pete Tanner and Lisa Bass’ story:

-Their inconvenient attraction – and the sparks that fly between them

-Two strong leading characters learning to trust each other

-The building suspense and mystery

-Lisa’s Harley-riding grandma

-Small-town southern charm and quirky characters

-Florida’s nature and untamed wilderness

-Forgiveness and complicated family dynamics

The back cover puts it like this:

Sometimes, wild animals aren’t the biggest danger in the forest

After her mother’s murder two years ago, sharpshooter Lisa Bass returned to Florida to start over – and try to earn her grandmother’s forgiveness. She loves her job as a Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission officer, and teaching a weekly self-defense class helps keep the guilt at bay. So when the husband of one of her students is murdered, Lisa is absolutely determined the woman won’t get railroaded for a crime she didn’t commit.

Newly promoted Sheriff’s Detective Pete “Bulldog” Tanner believes spouses are always the prime suspect, but when the clues point to blackmail and illegal game hunting, he’s not sure what to think. Especially when their prime suspect vanishes.

Neither Lisa nor Pete relish working a joint investigation, not with the unexpected and unwelcome attraction crackling between them. But when Lisa is targeted and more people disappear, they will have to trust each other to stop the killers that are closing in fast.

Will there be any more books in this series? Should the existing books be read in order? 

I’ve had lots of fun writing about the three Tanner siblings, but this is the third and final book in the series. Each book focuses on one of the siblings, and introduces other people who live in the community, but the books can most definitely be read as stand-alone stories. 

You bring this section of Florida to vivid life in these books. What is your personal experience with this region? What about it calls to you as an author? 

I love Central Florida, especially the Ocala area, where the series is set. Hubby and I lived there for 24 years before moving to Florida’s east coast last year. I worked on the Silver River as a boat captain for 15 years, and loved teaching guests about the area. I also worked for the Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center and got to introduce boatloads of local schoolchildren to this fabulous area via boat rides. 

As an author, I realized that when people think of Florida, they usually think three things: beaches, Miami and Disney. They don’t realize we have places like the Ocala National Forest, which encompasses over 600,000 acres. They don’t know about alligators and bears and even the feral monkeys that live in the forest. Shining a spotlight on all the cool things that make up Florida’s wilderness appealed to me. 

What would readers be surprised to discover about you? 

Besides being surprised that I’ve been a boat captain for 16 years, people are also surprised to learn that despite my deep love of nature and passion for conservation and wildlife, I have a major aversion to snakes. I don’t like them, at all. I’ve trained myself not to yelp whenever I see one, but I can’t avoid the instinctive shiver and need to get as far away from them as possible, immediately. If one got into my house and couldn’t be found, I’d have to move. 

Winter holidays are on the horizon. What are you most looking forward to (food, music, books, traditions)? What makes your holidays jingle?  

I love everything about Christmas! The tree, the lights that hubby hangs by the thousands, baking spritz cookies, listening to Christmas music 24/7, watching Christmas movies and most of all, spending time with friends and family. We also make time to read the biblical Christmas story and reflect on the hope that is the reason we celebrate, so it doesn’t get lost amidst the busyness and noise. Oh, and I love eggnog. Lots of eggnog.

What’s next for Connie Mann, author? 

Right now, my agent is shopping my brand-new series. It’s about a small team of women who travel the world helping other women in trouble, especially those who are trying to make the world a better place. They’re part of a secret society that dates back to the middle ages and the stories will be filled with exciting adventure and suspense, with a touch of romance, of course. 

Would you like to ask my readers a question? 

What is your absolute favorite thing about the holiday season? Leave a comment and I’ll send the e-book of Beyond Fear to one lucky commenter. 

Thanks so much, Connie! 

Thank you so much for having me! I had a wonderful time.

Readers, one randomly chosen person leaving a comment before 11:00 PM, December 2 will receive an e-copy of Beyond Fear.

*Must be 18

*Void where prohibited

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Review and Giveaway - - Flirting with the Beast

Flirting with the Beast
by Jane Porter
Modern Love - Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 29
Reviewed by PJ

It’s been five years since Andi McDermott lost her husband, and she's finally starting to feel like herself again, ready to live fully—she’s even started dating again. But when her holiday plans with her stepson and his fiancĂ©e fall through, she refuses to spend another Christmas alone while everyone is celebrating with their families. Impulsively, she decides to go up to her cabin in Lake Arrowhead, a place she used to love to visit but hadn’t gone to in years, not since the feud started between her husband and their nearest neighbor.

Andi starts to rethink her decision when being alone at the cabin proves to be more challenging than she expected—a heavy snowstorm hits the area, and Andi finds herself trapped there with no one to help except for her neighbor, Wolf Enders. A military vet who lives full-time on Lake Arrowhead, Wolf is as grumpy and intimidating as Andi remembers. But he’s also unexpectedly kind and uncomfortably sexy—his presence reminds Andi that she may be older, but her body still works perfectly fine, thank you very much. But can this good girl tame this sexy beast of a man, and will this snowy fling turn into a love of a lifetime?

PJ's Thoughts:

I am thoroughly enjoying the mature love stories in Jane Porter's new Modern Love series. These characters have a fair amount of life experience and all that brings with it. They're proving you're never too old to start over, to fall in love, and to grow. I love that Porter has created complex characters with complicated family dynamics, unpacked emotional baggage, relationship wariness, and sizzling desire. 

Andi and Wolf are fully developed, realistic and very relatable. In Wolf, Porter has perfectly captured a true alpha, very stubborn male. It was fun to watch the sparks he and Andi created, especially in light of his contentious past with her late husband. Watching Andi grow into her confidence and strength was especially satisfying. In many ways, even though she has several decades behind her, this is her coming of age story and it was heartening to see her take control of her life. 

There were times when I wondered if these two would be able to find their way through their own emotional roadblocks. Porter gave them the time to work through issues - separately and together - before leading them to their happy ending.  They created laughter, steam, friction, and deep emotional upheaval along the way but that made their eventual happily ever after all the more satisfying and believable.

If you enjoy heart-tugging contemporary romance with mature lead characters, give Flirting with the Beast a try. I highly recommend it.

Do you enjoy alpha heroes?

Have you read any romances featuring mature characters that you would recommend?

Have you read any Jane Porter books yet?

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, December 1 will receive a print copy of Flirting with the Beast.

*U.S. only
*Must be 18
*Void where prohibited


Monday, November 28, 2022

Winner - - Too Wrongs Make a Right


The randomly chosen winner of

a print copy of

Two Wrongs Make a Right by Chloe Liese is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Please include "Chloe Liese Winner" in your email.

Review - - One Last Chance

One Last Chance
by Kat Martin
Blood Ties, the Logans - Book 3
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: November 29, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Former Green Beret Edge Logan has made a new life for himself at Nighthawk Security in Denver, using his finely honed skills to neutralize threats of all kinds. When he overhears friend and fellow agent Skye Delaney discussing a new case involving her missing sister and a mysterious cult, he offers himself as backup. With her own military background, Skye is gutsy and more than capable, but a cult like Children of the Sun is too risky for anyone to investigate alone.

Skye is grateful for Edge’s experience, even though she is aware of the attraction simmering between them. Her battle scars make her reluctant to get involved with anyone, much less a coworker—even a warrior like Edge. But infiltrating the cult’s compound is more complicated than expected—and something much more sinister than worship is clearly going on behind its walls. As the pair works against the clock to unearth high-stakes secrets, the personal barriers between them begin to crumble. Together, can they unmask the face of evil before their time runs out?

PJ's Thoughts:

This third book in Martin's Blood Ties, The Logans series is a fast-paced, non-stop, edge-of-the-seat thriller filled with murder, mystery, forced cult imprisonment, betrayal, dysfunctional family dynamics, and more than a few surprises. Each time I thought I had figured out what was happening in Skye's and Edge's mission to rescue her sister, a new twist sent them in a different direction. I love when an author keeps me on my toes, trying to tie up all the threads of a story before the big reveal. In One Last Chance, Martin carefully wove in unexpected layers that would eventually reveal connections that would have wide-spread consequences...and would keep me guessing until the end. There was much more to this than a clear-cut religious cult. 

The action and suspense of this story took center stage but romance was not left behind. I enjoyed the chemistry between Edge and Skye, the partnership formed while they stood side by side as equals, and the growth both experienced as they sorted through emotional baggage. I was firmly in their couple corner the entire way.

While this is the third book of this series, it can be enjoyed as a standalone. Actually, all three books - while connected by the three brothers - stand well on their own. If you choose to begin with One Last Chance, rest assured you'll be able to jump right in without missing a beat. 

If you're a fan of action-packed, high-intensity romantic suspense, give this one a try. I couldn't put it down.

Click the title to read my reviews of book one, The Last Goodnight and book two, The Last Mile

Winners - - Thanksgiving


The randomly chosen winners of 

a package of books from PJ are:


Amy H

Barbara A


Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Please include "Thanksgiving Winner" in subject line 

or email message.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving Giveaway


 Happy Thanksgiving!

It's a busy day around our house with chopping, mixing, and baking on the agenda. Of course, I plan to slip some reading time into the schedule too but mostly it's a day for kitchen creating. 

I'll be making two dishes this year. My apple pie squares evoke sweet memories from my childhood and have become a family favorite so that will be one of my contributions. The other will be Cranberry Jell-O salad. It's a recipe I first had at Thanksgiving dinner at a dear friend's house and has become a must-have at my Thanksgiving and Christmas tables. 

Tomorrow will be our first Thanksgiving in our new combined-family home and I have many blessings for which to be grateful. High on that list of blessings are all of you who share my love of books and continue to support me in this now 13-year journey of sharing my thoughts about the stories we enjoy reading. I love hearing your opinions. You frequently thank me for introducing you to new-to-you authors but I want you to know that you've introduced me to new authors and books as well. I appreciate that...even if my bank account doesn't. ;-) You make the late nights writing reviews worthwhile. You make me smile every day. And you touch my heart with your kind words and notes. 

Thank you for being here. Thank you - each of you - for being you. 

How will you be spending Thanksgiving? Do you have any special traditions?

Will you be cooking?

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish to make or eat? (Feel free to share recipes!)

What are you thankful for this year?

Three randomly chosen people who post a comment before 11:00 PM, November 27 will each receive a package of books.

*U.S only

*Must be 18

*Void where prohibited

Cranberry Jell-O Salad

2 (4 ounce) pkgs. raspberry Jell-O
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Put Jell-O mix in serving bowl. Add 1-1/2 cups boiling water. Stir until dissolved.
Stir in cranberry sauce and 1 cup cold water.
Add remaining ingredients and stir gently to combine. 
Cover and refrigerate until set.


8 oz. softened cream cheese
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Spread over top of firm Jell-O mixture. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Cover and chill.

Apple Pie Squares

4 Granny Smith apples (peeled and sliced)
2 Gala apples (peeled and sliced)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour*
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
2 Tablespoons butter (sliced or cubed)
Double pie crust**

*I use King Arthur Gluten Free 
**I use Wholly Gluten Free frozen pie crust
**If you prefer regular crust but don't want to make it, I recommend the pie crust sheets found in the dairy section of your grocery.

For gluten free: Mix sugar, flour, spices, and a sprinkle of salt. Add sliced apples and toss until coated. Place mixture into the pie crust and dot with butter. Top with second crust and seal. Cut slits in top crust to allow steam to escape. Sprinkle top crust with granulated sugar.

For regular recipe: Mix sugar, flour, spices, and a sprinkle of salt. Add sliced apples and toss until coated. Spread one crust into the bottom of a 9 x 11 baking dish. Empty the apples into the crust. Dot with butter. Cover with second crust, seal, and cut slits in the crust. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. 

Bake at 400 F. for 50 minutes.

After pie has cooled, drizzle with topping and cut into squares. 

Topping: Stir milk, powdered sugar, and a bit of vanilla together until smooth. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Review & Giveaway - - Two Wrongs Make a Right

Two Wrongs Make a Right
by Chloe Liese
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 22, 2022
Reviewed by Santa

Jamie Westenberg and Bea Wilmot have nothing in common except a meet-disaster and the mutual understanding that they couldn't be more wrong for each other. But when the people closest to them play Cupid and trick them into going on a date, Jamie and Bea realize they have something else in common after all—an undeniable need for revenge.
Soon their plan is in place: Fake date 
obnoxiously and convince the meddlers they’re madly in love. Then, break up spectacularly and dash everyone's hopes, putting an end to the matchmaking madness once and for all.
To convince everyone that they’ve fallen for each other, Jamie and Bea will have to nail the performance of their lives. But as their final act nears and playing lovers becomes easier than not, they begin to wonder: What if Cupid’s arrow wasn’t so off the mark? And what if two wrongs 
do make a right?

Santa Says:

Have you ever been drawn into a book from the very first page? Two Wrongs Make A Right by Chloe Liese is just that kind of book. It is a five star read for me and ticks off so many boxes for me. First and foremost for me, it is a wonderfully crafted re-telling of my favorite Shakespearean play, Much Ado About Nothing. Hello! Beatrix and Benedict or in this case Bea and Jamie. Benedict is his middle name but more about that in the book. There is even the exchange of letters like in the play in the form of texts. Just lovely. Second, fake dating for revenge. Brilliant! What could go wrong? Nothing if you don’t end up actually falling in love. Right? Once they embark on this fake dating, delicious shenanigans ensue.  

There are so many laugh out loud moments in the book. The dialog is witty and engaging. Each chapter is written from Bea and Jamie’s point of view. Their first encounter is stiff and awkward. Bea is neuro-divergent and navigates social situations awkwardly. She is an erotic artist. Jamie is a straight backed professional but also equally awkward in social situations. For every bit that they are different they discover how much they have in common. And the attraction is off the charts. Big points to Jamie as a classic romance hero. He’s a gorgeous baby doctor who saves geriatric cats. Bea’s artistry comes alive on her body as her tattoos express who she is as an individual. They grow beautifully together. 

Their relationship grows so organically that revenge dating becomes real dating and real love. But the forces that bring them together namely her twin sister Juliet and her fiance’ Jean-Claude. This guy’s a piece of work. They also wreak havoc on their world, The fall out from her twin sister’s love life threatens theirs. This was crushing to me but, in the end, all things are set to rights. And all’s well that ends well.  I know, I know. Different play. 

I have to say this one’s a keeper for me. I also intend to glom Chloe Liese’s blacklist. I hope this is the first in a series because there were some other characters in the book whose stories I’d like to read. I’m looking at you Chris, Kate and Juliet.


Have you ever played Cupid for someone? Or has someone played Cupid for you?

Have you read any books by Chloe Liese?

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, November 24 will receive a print copy of Two Wrongs Make a Right

*U.S. only

*Must be 18

*Void where prohibited


Monday, November 21, 2022

Review - - Sanibel Moonlight

Sanibel Moonlight
by Hope Holloway
Shellseeker Beach - - Book 7
Publisher: Hope Holloway
Release Date: November 18, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Nearly a year has passed since Eliza arrived for a “few days” on Shellseeker Beach. She has overcome grief, forged lifelong relationships, and found a place where her heart can sing. All around her, there is peace and harmony and love for the found family who has conquered every challenge thrown at them.

But when a person from the past arrives with an offer that might be too good to be true, one of the newest and most tender relationships might be set up for failure. And Eliza’s sister has to finally come to terms about her life on Sanibel…and that may mean reconsidering everything she thought mattered to her.

Through it all, Eliza seeks clarity with her second chance at romance…but she must face one last and unexpected challenge or this new love will slip through her fingers like moonlight on the water.

PJ's Thoughts:

Holloway concludes her Shellseeker Beach series with another complex, emotional, feel-good story for these unforgettable characters. Typically, I jump right into her books as soon as they've downloaded to my Kindle. This time, I let it simmer for a few days. I wasn't ready to say good-bye and, based on past experience, I was certain this farewell would be a heart-tugging experience. I also knew that once I began reading this book I wouldn't be able to put it down. I was right on both counts.

One of the many things I've enjoyed about this series is how real and relatable Holloway's characters are. These characters form a mixture of backgrounds, generations, and life experience, all expertly woven together into a tapestry of more than friendship. Over the course of seven books, they have formed romantic relationships, discovered unknown siblings, opened their hearts to new experiences, suffered disappointments and betrayals, and become chosen family. They are flawed, like us all, which makes them so much more interesting. They have depth, as do their journeys. But they also have fun, this small group who have joined together at Shellseeker Beach. They make me want to join them. They make me want to know them.  

In this final book of the series, Holloway ties up all of the loose ends that have fluttered throughout the series. There are hard won happily ever afters, and although some of them may not look exactly like series readers expected, this reader was very happy with the way things turned out. To readers who have not yet discovered the Shellseeker Beach series, I strongly recommend reading these seven books in order. 

True to form, the epilogue made me laugh, smile, and shed more than a few tears along with a fond farewell. The fact that the series setting - Sanibel Island - was significantly damaged by Hurricane Ian made that final chapter all the more poignant. I've included below a message from Hope Holloway (taken from her website) that addresses the hurricane devastation and how readers can help. 


A Special Note about Sanibel Island

from Hope Holloway

My heart has been ripped out by the catastrophic storm destruction on Sanibel Island, and the whole southwest coast of my home state of Florida. It is painful to see the images of this once glorious slice of paradise. Sanibel has been my “fictional home” for a year as I write the Shellseeker Beach books, all set there. When I think of the residents, locals, librarians, booksellers, and shop owners who've helped me craft this series, I almost can't bear their pain.

I am pledging to donate a portion of every book sold in the Shellseeker Beach series for the remainder of the calendar year directly to the residents, businesses, and the refuge on Sanibel Island. My goal is to raise at least $10,000 through the sales of this series, so I hope you'll tell your friends, sisters, mothers, and besties to grab a book in paper or digital, or download on Kindle Unlimited.

Please help me help Sanibel Island in this small way. If you have the books already, I hope you will consider a donation to the Red Cross or

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Review - - Sugar and Spice

Sugar and Spice: An Opposites Attract Romance
by Kimberly Kincaid
Pine Mountain - Book 1
Publisher: Kimberly Kincaid
Release Date: November 15, 2022
Reviewed by PJ


One by-the-book cake caterer
One rule-breaking hotshot pastry chef
One prize in a Christmas cookie competition that will skyrocket both of their careers

Mix well and add a whole lot of heat that doesn't stay in the kitchen.

Serve with a side of opposites attract, holiday cheer, and a hard-fought happily ever after.

Sugar and Spice is a sexy and sweet opposites attract/adversaries to lovers holiday romance. It kicks off the Pine Mountain series, and is an updated, spicy-sweet version of a novella that was originally published as part of The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap anthology in 2013.

PJ's Thoughts:

Kimberly Kincaid brings the sweet, the spicy, and the steamy to this fun uplifting holiday novella. As is the norm for Kincaid, she's created intriguing, multi-layered characters who fill the pages with sassy banter, crackling chemistry, and heart-tugging emotion. And then, if that isn't enough, she makes them both bakers competing against one another in a holiday competition. Yes! When I wasn't laughing, or sighing, or tearing up, I was drooling all over the yummy cookies and desserts these two were whipping up. As soon as I turned the final page, all I wanted to do was start hauling ingredients out of my pantry and baking up a storm. November 15th isn't too early to kick off my holiday baking, right? 

If you're looking for a quick holiday romance that will tempt your tastebuds, tickle your funny bone, and fill your heart with joy, pick up a copy of Sugar and Spice. It's sure to get your holiday reading - and baking - off to a rousing start. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Review - - A Wish for Winter

A Wish for Winter
by Viola Shipman
Publisher: Graydon House
Release Date: November 15, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Despite losing her parents in a tragic accident just before her fourteenth Christmas, Susan Norcross has had it better than most, with loving grandparents to raise her and a gang of quirky, devoted friends to support her. Now a successful bookstore owner in a tight-knit Michigan lakeside community, Susan is facing down forty—the same age as her mother when she died—and she can’t help but see everything she 
hasn’t achieved, including finding a love match of her own. To add to the pressure, everyone in her small town believes it’s Susan’s destiny to meet and marry a man dressed as Santa, just like her mother and grandmother before her. So it seems cosmically unfair that the man she makes an instant connection with at an annual Santa Run is lost in the crowd before she can get his name.

What follows is Susan and her friends’ hilarious and heartwarming search for the mystery Santa—covering twelve months of social media snafus, authors behaving badly and dating fails—as well as a poignant look at family, friendship and what defines a well-lived and well-loved life.

PJ's Thoughts:

A Wish for Winter is a hopeful, heartwarming story of family, friendship, personal growth, and love. In many ways, it reads like a coming of age story even though the main protagonist is almost forty. I enjoyed Susan's journey. It's a leisurely, seasonal path that plays out over the course of an entire year. At times it felt a bit repetitive and sluggish, leaving me wishing either the story would speed up or the time frame be condensed. But I have to admit that when I reached the end of the book, I was glad the author had taken his time with these characters. There are no quick fixes, no miraculous recoveries. Susan needs each of those seasons and the personal growth they bring to achieve the clarity, healing, and happiness she seeks.

There's plenty of humor in Susan's dating adventures but Shipman nicely balances that with a depth of emotion that tugged at my heart. Her grandparents are the kind we all wish we had, her friends have her back, always, and her community wants only the best for her. Plus, she runs a bookshop! Her numerous Santa dates bring a few duds, a few new friends, and the possibility of one who is destined to jingle her bells for a lifetime.

As much as A Wish for Winter is about Susan and her family and friends, it's also very much a love letter to its setting. I grew up in Michigan and this book filled me with joyful memories of the pleasures to found there in all four seasons. It evoked the fun of summer boating on the lake, the majestic, colorful display of autumn leaves, the floral reawakening of spring, the beautiful, almost spiritual reverence of that first, silent, pristine, snowfall of the season and much, much more. 

If you enjoy novels by Susan Mallery, Robyn Carr, and Sarah Morgan, you may want to give this book a try. It was my first Viola Shipman story. It won't be my last. 

Monday, November 14, 2022

Review - - Ship Wrecked

Ship Wrecked: A Novel
by Olivia Dade
Spoiler Alert - Book 3
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: November 15, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Maria’s one-night-stand—the thick-thighed, sexy Viking of a man she left without a word or a note—just reappeared. Apparently, Peter’s her surly Gods of the Gates co-star, and they’re about to spend the next six years filming on a desolate Irish island together. She still wants him…but he now wants nothing to do with her.

Peter knows this role could finally transform him from a forgettable character actor into a leading man. He also knows a failed relationship with Maria could poison the set, and he won’t sabotage his career for a woman who’s already walked away from him once. Given time, maybe they can be cooperative colleagues or friends—possibly even best friends—but not lovers again. No matter how much he aches for her.

For years, they don’t touch off-camera. But on their last night of filming, their mutual restraint finally shatters, and all their pent-up desire explodes into renewed passion. Too bad they still don’t have a future together, since Peter’s going back to Hollywood, while Maria’s returning to her native Sweden. She thinks she needs more than he can give her, but he’s determined to change her mind, and he’s spent the last six years waiting. Watching. Wanting.

His shipwrecked Swede doesn’t stand a chance.

PJ's Thoughts:

I was blown away by Olivia Dade's Spoiler Alert, set within the fanfic world of the hit (fictional) television show, Gods of the Gates. Then came book two, All the Feels (click for review), and let me tell you, I felt all. the. feels. How, I wondered, would Dade possibly top Alex and Lauren's journey to love? With co-stars (grumpy, socially awkward) Peter and (sunny, confident) Maria, with set-the-sheets-on-fire chemistry, intense yearning, emotional angst, hilarity, snappy banter, laugh-inducing nicknames, and a hard-won happily ever after, all wrapped up in an immersive story that I could not put down. That's how she did it. 

I fell head over heels in love with both Peter and Maria. How could I not when the author's love for these characters she had created was so clear? These are complex characters and the care she took with each of them was evident in their development, layers, flaws, fears, hopes, and dreams; in their subtle - and not so subtle - nuances, and in their significant personal growth. Dade's characters are so very real and relatable. 

I have enormous respect for an author who, in a sea of ripped heroes and svelte heroines, chooses to create both a fat leading man and leading lady, embracing them as they are without making their weight a negative facet of their story. Peter is tall and broad-shouldered, with thick thighs and arms, and a soft belly, qualities Maria loves about him. He surrounds her body, makes her feel safe. Maria is a tall, strong, blonde Swede with with a healthy love of her ample curves and the fortitude to stand strong against those who would risk her health for a smaller silhouette on TV. Great body positivity! And she's not the only one who loves those curves. Needless to say, Peter and Maria enjoy an energetic and steamy physical relationship once they make the decision to indulge.

Secondary characters are flawlessly woven in and out of the story, interacting with Peter and Maria in ways that highlight facets of their personalities and move their story forward while also giving fans of the series a look at favorite couples from other books and new favorites to embrace. The relationships from the three books all move in a similar timeline so for those who have read the first two books, it's fun to view certain events from a different perspective. For those new to the series, if you want to avoid spoilers I recommend reading the three books in order. Though you can definitely enjoy Ship Wrecked as a standalone, my own enjoyment was enhanced by having read books one and two first. 

A particular highlight of Ship Wrecked for me was Dade's impeccable comedic timing balanced with heart-tugging emotion.  In Chapter 16, when Peter and Maria are sent to Stockholm on a publicity trip and stay with her family we are treated to both. There were heartbreaking parts of that chapter where I cried for past experiences Maria finally shared with Peter and other parts where people on the other side of my house were tracking me down to find out why I was snort laughing so loud and often. Pro tip: do not eat or drink anything while reading Chapter 16. 

Olivia Dade has secured her place on my must-buy, favorite-author, I-will-never-miss-a-single-book-she-writes, all-novels-go-straight-to-my-keeper-shelf list. I enthusiastically recommend giving her a try. 

One last thing: kudos to Avon for a fantastic cover that accurately depicts these wonderful characters! 

Have you read any of Olivia Dade's books yet?

Have you read other romances where body positivity is an integral part of the story?