Monday, January 30, 2023

Review - - One Duke Down

One Duke Down
by Anna Bennett
Rogues to Lovers - Book 2
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Release Date: January 24, 2023
Reviewed by PJ


Miss Poppy Summers is determined to keep her family’s fishing business afloat. Her poor widowed father has fallen ill, and her foolhardy brother has moved to London, leaving her precious little time to read or pursue her own dreams. But she’ll do anything for her family, so she cheerfully spends mornings in her rowboat, casting her nets. The very last thing Poppy expects or wants to find tangled in them is a dangerously attractive man. Especially one with a head wound—who’s convinced he’s a duke.

Andrew Keane 
is the Duke of Hawking, but he’s having the devil of a time convincing his fiery-haired rescuer of that fact. The truth is he came to the seaside resort of Bellehaven Bay to escape his life in London. Unfortunately, someone in Bellehaven wants to kill him—and he intends to find out who. He implores Poppy to tend to his injuries and hide him on her beach, reasoning it will be easier to find his attacker if that man assumes Keane is already dead. She wants no part of the scheme but can’t refuse the generous sum he offers in exchange for food and shelter while he recovers. It’s a mutually beneficial business arrangement…nothing more.

Under Poppy’s care, Keane regains his strength—and a sense of purpose. As they work together to solve the puzzle of his would-be murderer, he’s dazzled by her rapier wit and adventurous spirit; she’s intrigued by his mysterious air and protective streak. Though Poppy’s past gives her every reason to mistrust someone like Keane, the seawalls around her heart crumble in the storm of their passion. But when clues hint at the prime suspect in Keane’s attempted murder, Poppy must decide where her loyalties lie. Torn between the world she’s always known and the one she’s always dreamed of, she’ll need true love for a shot at her fairytale ending.

PJ's Thoughts:

Buy it for the cover; enjoy it for the story within. This one had me in its net from start to finish. You may think a romance between a duke and a fisherwoman sounds impossible (it does) but Bennett makes it work. These two balance each other so well. They're meant to be and I was right there cheering them on the entire way.

I like that Bennett takes her time with Poppy and Keane, creating a circumstance where they are secluded from the outside world, giving them the time away from prying eyes to slowly transition from paid partners to friends, to much, much more. I love that Keane falls hard, and quickly, making his heart the more vulnerable of the two. It's fun to watch Poppy slowly discover that there is much more to this duke than his scandalous reputation. 

Their excursions away from Poppy's small village in pursuit of the truth of the attack on Keane add another layer to their growing relationship, opening Poppy's eyes to the world in which Keane lives and highlighting the many sides of this hardworking young woman. I love them together. There is nothing "surface" about their relationship. The love and trust they build - the confidence that each will always be there for the other, under all circumstances - had me celebrating their happily ever after as if they were dear friends, not characters in a book. 

The mystery of who wants Keane dead is a central thread that runs through the book. I figured it out quickly (a hazard of reading too many books?) but still enjoyed the process of watching it all play out on the pages. Knowing the identity of a villain doesn't always mean knowing what will happen and, happily, there were a few unexpected twists along the way that caught me by surprise. 

One Duke Down is the second book in Anna Bennett's Rogues to Lovers series, featuring three good friends (Hazel, Poppy, and Kitty) who all live and work in the seaside town of Bellehaven Bay. It stands well on it's own, however meeting Poppy's two friends has me eager to read their stories as well. I've already downloaded book one, Girls Before Earls and am eager to discover what Bennett has in store for Kitty in book three. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Review - - Glitterland

by Alexis Hall
Spires - Book 1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: January 17, 2023
Reviewed by Santa

Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people's expectations.

Then a chance encounter throws him into the path of Essex-born Darian Taylor. Flashy and loud, radiant and full of life, Darian couldn't be more different...and yet he makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it's like to step beyond the boundaries of his anxiety. But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can no longer see a way out. Can a man who doesn't trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can someone who doesn't believe in happiness ever fight for his own?

Alexis Hall's iconic Glitterland has been revised and expanded, with extensive bonus content and a stunning new cover by Elizabeth Turner Stokes. Bonus content includes:

  • Author Annotations: Alexis Hall's insights and commentary threaded through the novel
  • Shadowland: a brand new scene exploring Niall and Max's complex relationship
  • The Glass Menagerie: an entertaining look at an in-universe Rik Glass novel
  • A Letter from the Author discussing the experience of writing Glitterland
  • Darian's Nanny Dot's Cottage Pie and Aftermath, brought together from the original release

Santa Says:

Glitterland by Alexis Hall is a re-issue of the first book in his Spires series. I would give it a four out of five stars. I have read some of the other books in the series. I unknowingly read them in no particular order and never got to this one. It is not your typical grumpy meets sunshine book. A. A. Winters, also known as Ash is a writer of some renown who grapples with his bi-polar disorder and crippling anxiety. These permeate so much of his life. It was heart wrenching for me to read as I know people who fight these battles for survival. Sometimes it is a daily battle and at other times they thrive.  

I usually do not like books that have such heavy characterizations but Alexis Hall never shies away from some harsh realities in life and he creates such a light even in the darkest times. He brought that light into this story with the brilliantly be-dazzled Darian. Darian is all that is lightness to Ash’s darkness.  Where Ash shrinks into the background, Darian struts into the center dragging Ash out of his comfort zone. 

They meet and hook up for what Ash hopes is a one and done deal but Darian calls out to him and drags him out of his shell even when well-meaning but overbearing friends like Naill try to shield Ash and keep him needy.  Darian puts no pressure on Ash who puts more than enough on himself. He asks nothing of him even after Ash spectacularly insults their relationship by making it out to be no more than a meaningless fling. 

Glitterland is a great title for this book. It’s happily ever after for Ash and Darian feels authentic and lifted up my spirits. I have a feeling that they are in it for the long haul. I look forward to seeing how the other books in the series have been re-edited.

Trigger Warning: Potential triggering elements in this book include attempted suicide and subsequent hospitalization, acute social anxiety and panic attacks, bi-polar disorder.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Review - - Breaking All The Rules

Breaking All The Rules
by Amy Andrews
Publisher: Entangled Amara
Release Date: January 24, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

Sometimes you gotta toss your whole life into a burning dumpster to find what’s most important...

Beatrice Archer has always done everything she’s supposed to —worked her ass off, ignored her non-existent personal life, and kept her mouth shut. Now she’s over it. The rat race, respectability…the underwire bras. She’s taking her life back. Starting with moving to Nowhere, Colorado to live life on her own terms.

Now Bea gives exactly zero forks. Beer for breakfast. Sugar for everything else. Baggy sweats and soft cotton undies FTW. Then a much younger and delightfully attractive cop is called to deal with her flagrant disregard for appropriate clothing outside the local diner (some folks just don’t appreciate bunny slippers) and Bea realizes there’s something missing from her little decathlon of decadence…and he might be the guy to help her out.

When it comes to breaking rules, Officer Austin Cooper is surprisingly eager to assist. He’s charming, a little bit cowboy, and a whole lot sexy. But Bea’s about to discover that breaking the rules has consequences. And all of the cherry pies in Colorado can’t save her from what’s coming…

PJ's Thoughts:

Do you have a special shelf for comfort reads? I do. It doesn't have a lot of books on it but I know that the stories that reside there are guaranteed to lift me out of the doldrums, make me laugh, make me sigh, generate a little steam, remind me why I love to read, warm my heart and, basically, chase all my blues away. Which is exactly what happened while reading Breaking All The Rules, the newest member of my comfort reads collection. 

Bea and Austin hit the ground running with snarky banter, unexpected sizzle, and a whole lot of laughter...not to mention orgasm-inducing ice cream and the best pie west of the Mississippi. By the end of chapter one I was completely hooked, buckled in and ready for a rollicking ride. Which I got. But, there was also much, much more. Andrews combined laugh-out-loud humor with sweetness, sizzle, and a depth of emotion I wasn't expecting then wrapped it all up with romance, uncertainty, emotional growth, and a well-deserved grovel (I do love a good grovel) to create a feel-good happy ending that had me sighing with delight. 

The cast of characters in this book were so well developed it felt like they were going to leap from the pages right into reality, with Bea and Austin leading the way. Andrews took her time with these two, slowly peeling away their layers and giving us necessary insight into their feelings, fears, frustrations, and hopes. At the same time she allowed Bea to rebel against past injustices in the best possible ways with Austin as the more-than-willing partner and safe landing place she had no idea she needed...or wanted. I loved them both. Okay, I loved Austin more but, come on. He's such a good hero! I understood Bea though and fully supported her rule-breaking rebellion. Any woman who has worked in a male-dominated environment is going to be right there with her. Mostly, I loved these two together. They balanced one another, were hot for each other (so hot), had fun together, and were sweet together. This was one couple that had me cheering for them from start to finish.

After reading the book, I discovered that this is the fourth book in Andrews' Credence, Colorado series. I didn't feel like I was missing anything by reading Breaking all The Rules first. However, after meeting some of the characters from the earlier books, I will definitely be reading their stories too. And, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a romance between a certain grumpy, by-the-book chief of police and a local erotic romance writer! 

Have you read any Amy Andrews books? Do you have a favorite?

How do you feel about younger men? Does a younger man influence your enjoyment of a romance? (In this book, Bea is 35 and Austin is 25 but, honestly, much of the time it feels like he's the more mature of the two.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Tour Spotlight - - Never Cross a Highlander

Never Cross a Highlander
by Lisa Rayne
Publisher: Entangled Amara
Release Date: December 27, 2022

Ailsa Connery has waited three long years to finally escape her enslavement at Stirling Castle and reunite with her clan. But her carefully laid plans are completely destroyed by the arrival of the infamous Highland warrior known as 
Dubh Mahoun, the Black Devil...who has plans of his own.

Kallum MacNeill's fearsome reputation has long allowed him to keep hidden his secret double life of freeing enslaved captives across the land. It's only when he kidnaps a servant lass—quite by accident—that he finds himself facing a wee predicament. He must accompany the lass home or risk her exposing his true identity. It'd be easy enough...if the feisty hellion didn't fight him at every turn.

As they make their way to the Highlands, the perils the two must face are surpassed only by their constant sparring. Soon, their heated sniping sparks heat of a totally different kind. The kind that ignites a hunger that could consume them both. Yet the difficult journey is no match for the dangerous secrets they're about to uncover.

About Lisa Rayne:

Lisa Rayne is an award-winning author and an advocate for mainstream multicultural fiction. An avid reader, the only thing she likes more than curling up with a good book is writing one. She provides readers with romantic fiction and edgy thrillers featuring smart, sexy characters of diverse backgrounds.

PJ Says:

I've not yet read any books by Lisa Rayne but the premise of Never Cross a Highlander - along with the main characters - sound intriguing. I've downloaded it from Kindle Unlimited and am looking forward to diving into Ms. Rayne's historical Scottish Highlands. 

Have you read any of Lisa Rayne's books?


Monday, January 23, 2023

Review - - A Chance Inheritance

A Chance Inheritance
by Carolyn Brown
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Release Date: January 10, 2023 (reprint anthology)
Reviewed by Hellie

Upon inheriting their sassy grandmother's home and family bait shop, cousins Lanie, Jodi, and Becky Cornell return to Catfish, Texas, looking for a fresh start. Turns out living as roommates in Granny Lizzie's tiny two-bedroom house and running the Catfish Fisherman's Hut isn't at all like the idyllic summers they spent as children on the banks of the Red River. The days are long and hot, the tourists demanding and rude. And then there's Chris Adams, a local river guide who seems to have eyes only for Becky.

But Lizzie's death has set in motion a chain of events that will cause a new generation of Cornell women to come together. And thanks to this chance inheritance, the Cornell cousins discover that sometimes an ending is really a new beginning .

Hellie’s Heeds 

Carolyn Brown is a very reliable read if you are in the market for sweet, romantic, and small town, and the stories featured here definitely fit her trademark storytelling. When I originally read the back blurb for this book, I thought the entire book was about Lanie, Jodi, and Becki–and admittedly I was quite invested in the trio when I started–but I soon realized (yes, I’m one of those who occasionally skips ahead to see what might be happening), this was actually a novella. And this book was a series of three novellas. A little more research had me realizing this book is a reprint, and while I, a book hoarding dragon, enjoy my books, I do get a little put out when I end up buying a duplicate book I didn’t mean to, especially for an author I was anticipating as a new read. I think Sourcebooks should have made it a bit clearer in the blurb and such that this was a reprint anthology.  

The first novella, in the complicated nature novellas are, is short and only lightly conflicted. When you only have a hundred pages, there aren’t massive dark secrets and dark moments. I enjoyed the story, especially the cousins, and the romance between the eldest cousin and a childhood crush was very cute, though perhaps I did have to suspend belief a little for myself because as a romance hero–his career is a professional fishing guide?–he isn’t exactly Mr. Darcy. I fully admit this probably says much more about me who does not find fishing particularly alluring in reality or fantasy, especially since catfish seems to be the main target, and have you ever smelled the bait for that? You never forget it. I think my real disappointment is that I wanted to know more about the other two cousins, or even have romances for them, and maybe I’ll go in search to see if Ms. Brown wrote novellas featuring them.  

The second novella is another of Ms. Brown, written in first person, and featuring entirely different characters. The story is much more complex and dark, full of secrets and problems and an absent father. The heroine is plucky and has a sister who is hilarious and just the kind of older sister you imagine: bossy and “I know best.” The hero–while not a fishing guide (plus)--is an assclown. Now Mr. Darcy is definitely an assclown, so this should not have bothered me, but this guy did. And again, since this is a novella, his evolution from asshole to Prince Charming left me a bit disbelieving, though as a Pisces, I do like to hold a grudge so again, this may just be me.  

The third novella is Sharon Sala’s…and I believe in Ms. Sala’s fashion, it does not lack in drama, conflict, or black moments. In fact, it starts with a jilted bride (heroine) and then turns into a school shooter situation and ends with an optimistic new start in a new school system. (I only share the main beats here because if you’re like me, I was rather triggered by a short story of a school shooting as part of an anthology of sweet contemporary Western romances.) 

In summary, my recommendation for the stories is a bit mixed. If you’re in the mood for very lightly conflicted romance and you don’t want to commit to a 300 page book, this book may be much more your preferred read. The first two stories were definitely quick reads and enjoyable. The third one feels a bit odd man out compared to the other two, but Ms. Sala is a very good writer and if you enjoy her stories, I imagine you will enjoy this too. If, like me, you’d rather not go fishing on a romantic date and you prefer the gentleman status of Mr. Darcy to the self-employed fishing guide as a hero, this might not be your book.



Winner - - The Love of My Life


The randomly chosen winner of

a print copy of

The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Review & Giveaway - - The Love of My Life

I first reviewed The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh when it was released last March in hardcover. It was one of those books that reeled me in and refused to let go, keeping me eagerly flipping pages through a multitude of twists and turns until I finally finished it late into the wee hours of the night. The book has now been published in paperback so it seemed a good time to revisit my original review as well as offer a print giveaway, courtesy of the publisher. More on that at the end of the post.

The Love of My Life: A Novel
by Rosie Walsh
Publisher: Penguin Books
Paperback Release Date: January 17, 2023
Hardcover Release Date: March 1, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Emma loves her husband Leo and their young daughter Ruby: she’d do anything for them. But almost everything she's told them about herself is a lie.
    And she might just have got away with it, if it weren’t for her husband’s job. Leo is an obituary writer; Emma a well-known marine biologist. When she suffers a serious illness, Leo copes by doing what he knows best – researching and writing about his wife’s life. But as he starts to unravel the truth, he discovers the woman he loves doesn’t really exist. Even her name isn’t real.
    When the very darkest moments of Emma’s past finally emerge, she must somehow prove to Leo that she really is the woman he always thought she was . . .
    But first, she must tell him about the other love of her life.

PJ's Thoughts:

I started reading this book in bed last night. It was a bit slow at first and I figured I'd try to get in a couple chapters before going to sleep. It wasn't long before the author began dropping little bits here and there that snagged my interest. Then a few more bits that gradually drew me deeper into the lives of these characters. Then the first twist that had me thinking, "Whoa! What's going on here?" By that time the first few chapters were in my rearview and I was hooked. There was no way I was going to be putting this book down until I hit the final word. It was a late night. ;-)

The Love of My Life is compelling, poignant, twisty, mysterious, suspenseful, emotional, gripping, and heartachingly real. Brilliantly plotted, with fully-developed characters who tugged at my heart, it's an intricately-woven story that kept me on my toes. Each time I thought I had figured out what was going on, there was another unexpected twist that had me gasping with surprise. It's an immersive experience that pushed my buttons in all the best ways and it never stopped surprising me, right up until the final page. When I say I couldn't put it down, I mean it. I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down. 

The Love of My Life is Rosie Walsh's second published novel. I haven't read her first, Ghosted, yet but you can be sure I'll be giving it a go...along with every book she writes in the future. This is an author to watch.

Have you read Rosie Walsh yet?

What's the last book that kept you reading late into the night?

One randomly chosen person posting a comment before 11:00 PM, January 21 will receive a paperback copy of The Love of My Life.

U.S. only
Must be 18
Void where prohibited

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Review - - The Backup Plan

The Backup Plan: A Novel
by Jill Shalvis
Sunrise Cove -  Book 3
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: January 17, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

When Alice receives a call about an unexpected windfall, she’s stunned to learn the gift is a falling-apart-at-the-seams old Wild West B&B she once considered home—and she’s inherited it along with two strangers. Except they weren’t always strangers. Once upon a time, they were friends. One is her ex-BFF Lauren. The other is Knox, the only guy to ever break her heart, all while never even knowing she existed.

It turns out their lives are unknowingly entangled because they once separately helped the same woman without expecting anything in return. Years later, Alice, Lauren, and Knox are broken in their own way, with their own history—and secrets— causing them to start out on the wrong foot with each other. But according to the will, they must renovate and be partners in the inn for one year or else lose their inheritance.

Stuck together, they make a list of rules to keep the peace—rules that end up doing the opposite, but by some miracle they find what they didn’t even know they were looking for—acceptance, true friendship, and in a case (or two!), true love.

PJ's Thoughts:

Friendship, loss, betrayal, forgiveness, self-discovery, hope, love...this book has all the feelings!

Once again, Jill Shalvis has created an immersive, complex, heart-tugging story that captured my attention and my heart. These characters are fully developed, flawed, relatable, and real. Each is on an individual journey while, at the same time, all three are slowly, sometimes painfully, extending tendrils of forgiveness and hope as they begin to reconnect with one another. Once I began reading, I was hooked. There was no way I was going to be able to put this book down until I reached the final page. 

Just as Shalvis's characters are complex and fully developed, so too is her choice of setting. The Lake Tahoe area is majestic, stunningly beautiful, and deceptively dangerous, all facets that are explored in intimate detail by an author who knows the area well. The pictures she paints with her words bring it all to vivid life and convince me I'm right there with her characters as they breathe in the scents, navigate the dangerous roads, and discover all they never realized they were seeking. 

Sometimes, I finish a book happy for the characters who have found their happy endings. But, other times, I turn that final page feeling as if I've just spent several hours with a group of dear friends. I know them, I care about them, I want only the best for them. That's how I felt when I turned the final page of The Backup Plan. I want Knox to build me a home that's harmonious with the surrounding nature. I want to buy Lauren's book then lose myself in her words. And nobody, but nobody, touches my car except Alice! I'm fully confident that Knox, Alice, and Lauren are all living their best lives in Sunrise Cove and I want to be there for all the future happy events in their lives.

It should be noted that while The Backup Plan is the third book in the Sunrise Cove series, it is a complete standalone. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Winner - - Sleep No More


The randomly chosen winner of a copy of

Sleep No More by Jayne Ann Krentz is:

Martha Lawson


Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Spotlight on The Year of Cecily

The Year of Cecily
by Lisa Lin
From Sunset Park, With Love - Book 1
Publisher: Tule
Release Date: January 17, 2023

This is the year of Cecily Chang.

San Francisco attorney Cecily Chang is ready to tackle the New Year head on, so she creates a list of resolutions guaranteed to reboot her life—right after her dutiful visit home to Sunset Park, Brooklyn, for the Lunar New Year. Cecily prepares to face her critical, meddling mother, nosy relatives, and the chaos and drama family togetherness brings. At least the food will be delicious. This holiday, Cecily vows to remain calm—as long as she doesn’t see him.

Jeffrey Lee deeply regrets how he ended things with Cecily ten years ago, but he felt it was best for her at the time. When he runs into her again during the New Year, he sees it as a sign. Now a successful screenwriter, Jeffrey is determined to win back Cecily’s heart.

But Cecily doesn’t believe in signs or second chances and embraces her new resolutions. This time, Jeffrey won’t give up—and he’s convinced he can write them a new Hollywood happy ending.
PJ's Thoughts:

I'm always a little nervous to read a book written by a personal friend. What if I don't like it? What will I say? Very happy to say that was not the case with this one. 

The Year of Cecily is a sassy, second-chance romcom featuring two 30-something Asian-American main characters with a rocky past. The story rings with humor, snappy banter, emotional depth, and cultural authenticity. The push and pull within the Lee and Chang families, in particular, had me rolling with laughter as well as mopping up tears.  

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Cecily and Jeffrey and appreciated the layers Lin gave them. I want characters to work for their HEA and these two do just that, both individually and as a couple. Their necessary introspection, growth, and compromise led to a very satisfying conclusion for them as a couple as well as a new, more understanding path forward with their families.  

I've already pre-ordered the next book in the series, The Rachel Experiment (5/16/23). I'm especially eager to read it after (separately) meeting socially awkward Rachel and charming Luke while reading The Year of Cecily. I can't wait to see them interact on the page together!  

Disclaimer: You may have noticed that while this is technically a book review, I have not assigned a number of stars to it. That's because the author is a close personal friend and I do my level best to always remain unbiased in my book reviewing. 

Monday, January 16, 2023

Review - - Mr. Right Next Door

Mr. Right Next Door
by Naima Simone
Rose Bend - Book 4
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: January 10, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

As the ex-mayor’s daughter, Jenna Landon has spent her life aiming for perfection—and missing. The pressure and disappointment turned her into a bit of a mean girl, but now she’s tired of protecting her soft heart, of hiding her losses—she’s ready to leave Rose Bend and start over. But before she can leave, she has to endure the town’s carnival fundraiser, her father’s reelection campaign…and the pain-in-the-tail giant who just moved in next door.

Wrestling coach Isaac Hunter didn’t mean to disturb his neighbor with his music while fixing his car. But if anyone could use “messing with,” it’s prissy, perfect, sexy Jenna Landon. Soon their clashes turn into something hotter. Recently divorced, his focus should be rebuilding his life, not an… entanglement with a woman who spells nothing but trouble. Because Jenna is leaving Rose Bend. And they both know he can’t go with her, and he can’t ask her to stay...

PJ's Thoughts:

My first impression of Jenna Landon, in book one of Naima Simone's Rose Bend series, was that she was a bitter, self-absorbed, nasty piece of work. My second impression, in book two, only reinforced my opinion. But then, along came book three and one single scene where Simone pulled back Jenna's curtain just a bit and suddenly I found myself wondering if I, like the rest of Rose Bend, had it all wrong. Was there actually more to this character than I had thought? And, holy wow, did Naima Simone actually have plans to redeem her???

To say I have been anticipating this story would be a massive understatement. I went into it with very high expectations and I'm happy to say that Simone not only met those expectations, she blew them out of the water. I would even go so far as to say this was my favorite book of the series so far. I loved the complexities of both Jenna and Isaac. These two set off sparks from the get-go, with their snappy banter, sizzling chemistry, and snarky nicknames that over time became endearing. 

It wasn't an easy road to Jenna and Isaac's happily ever after but it never is with a Naima Simone book. That's one of the things I most enjoy about her writing, the way she keeps it real. She populates her stories with flawed, complex characters, people like you and me who face adversity and react to challenges in a myriad of ways. She also excels in writing complicated, dysfunctional families and, boy howdy, does Jenna's family ever exemplify that. I won't go into the things I wanted to do to her parents. And then she gives me deeply emotional, heart-tugging, steamy romance that renews my faith in enduring love...every single time. 

If you aren't reading Naima Simone's Rose Bend series - and why aren't you? - you're missing out on some of the best contemporary romance out there. I highly recommend it. Mr. Right Next Door can be enjoyed on its own but for the full impact of Jenna's redemption I strongly recommend reading the series books in order. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Review & Giveaway - - Sleep No More

Sleep No More
by Jayne Ann Krentz
The Lost Night Files - Book 1
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: January 3, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Seven months ago, Pallas Llewellyn, Talia March, and Amelia Rivers were strangers, until their fateful stay at the Lucent Springs Hotel. An earthquake and a fire partially destroyed the hotel, but the women have no memory of their time there. Now close friends, the three women co-host a podcast called the 
Lost Night Files, where they investigate cold cases and hope to connect with others who may have had a similar experience to theirs—an experience that has somehow enhanced the psychic abilities already present in each woman.
After receiving a tip for their podcast, Pallas travels to the small college town of Carnelian, California, to explore an abandoned asylum. Shaken by the dark energy she feels in the building, she is rushing out when she’s stopped by a dark figure—who turns out to be the women's mysterious tipster.
Ambrose Drake is certain he’s a witness to a murder, but without a body, everyone thinks he’s having delusions caused by extreme sleep deprivation. But Ambrose is positive something terrible happened at the Carnelian Sleep Institute the night he was there. Unable to find proof on his own, he approaches Pallas for help, only for her to realize that Ambrose, too, has a lost night that he can’t remember—one that may be connected to Pallas. Pallas and Ambrose conduct their investigation using the podcast as a cover, and while the townsfolk are eager to share what they know, it turns out there are others who are not so happy about their questions—and someone is willing to kill to keep the truth from coming out.

PJ's Thoughts:

Sleep No More may be the title of this newest Jayne Ann Krentz novel but it was also what happened to me once I turned to the first page and began reading. Krentz plunged me straight into the heart of the pulse-pounding action of this story and had me completely hooked before I reached page ten. And then she kept me hooked, guessing how it would all turn out, through unexpected twists and turns right up until the final scene. There would be no sleep for me until all of my questions were answered!

There are many things I enjoy about a Jayne Ann Krentz book. Her characters are complex and multi-layered; it usually takes me an entire book to figure them out. Her plots are twisty and, again, rarely do I guess the final outcome before the reveal. Her attention to detail is superb, creating an atmosphere that highlights both the suspense and romance. But what I find most fascinating about these novels is the fine line the author navigates between fact and fiction, between reality and possibility. The psychic/paranormal elements of these romantic suspense novels, while clearly fiction (Are they, though? Really?), walk that line, leaving me swinging between thoughts of "This could never happen" and "Whoa, what do I really know about that sleep clinic I made an appointment with?" She creates an immersive reading experience where it's all too easy to place myself in the positions of Pallas and Ambrose, thereby heightening both my enjoyment and my reader anxiety as I navigate the murky, murderous waters of Sleep No More

Sleep No More is the first book in Krentz's new trilogy and a great place to begin if you're new to her writing. The romantic (and mystery) portion of Pallas and Ambrose's story is completed with this first book though there is an overarching mystery which will continue through the next two books in the series. I can't wait to find out how it will all play out. 

Have you read Jayne Ann Krentz?

Do you enjoy romantic-suspense books with a paranormal/psychic twist?

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, January 14 will receive a hardback copy of Sleep No More.

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