Sunday, March 31, 2024

Coming Attractions - - April


If April showers bring May flowers what do April books bring? Just as I thought. Lots of cozy reading on rainy days, cool nights, and warm afternoons. Here's some books to whet your appetite for the month of April. 

Kicking off the month on Monday, April 1 is a review and print copy giveaway of How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang. This debut novel by Kuang (she's the adapting screenwriter for Emily Henry's People We Meet on Vacation and writer/director of Henry's Beach Read film) is an emotional roller coaster with - contrary to the title - a happy ending. 

Tuesday, April 2 brings a review and giveaway of Her Duke at Midnight by Wendy LaCapra. This book concludes LaCapra's compelling Mythic Dukes historical romance trilogy.

The highly anticipated Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez is up next with a review on Wednesday, April 3. This standalone (but with crossover characters from other books) kept me reading late into the night. 

Launching a new series, Janna MacGregor's newest book is an absolute delight. Join me for a review of A Simple Seduction on Thursday, April 4.

Don't forget to stop by on Wednesday, April 10 for an excerpt and ARC giveaway of The Best Life Book Club by Sheila Roberts. This new women's fiction novel will release on May 7.

Thursday, April 11 brings a tour review and giveaway of The Kiss Countdown by Etta Easton. A hot astronaut and the struggling event planner I'd love to be pals with? Yes, please. 

Join me on Tuesday, April 16 for a review of the newest Somerset Lake novel by Annie Rains: The Finders Keepers Library. Wouldn't we all like to have one of those?

Wednesday, April 17 brings a review and giveaway of Christa Comes Out of Her Shell by Abbi Waxman. What happens when an antisocial scientist is tossed into her least favorite place - the spotlight? We'll find out on the 17th. 

I'll be sharing my thoughts about Make You Mine by Nan Reinhardt on Thursday, April 18. I thoroughly enjoyed this first book in Reinhardt's The Walker Family trilogy, part of her popular River's Edge setting.

Don't miss my review of Julie Anne Long's My Season of Scandal on Monday, April 22. This is the newest installment in Long's Palace of Rogue's series. 

Swing by Tuesday, April 23 for my review of The Lady Plays with Fire, book two in Susanna Craig's Goode's Guide to Misconduct historical romance series. 

Harper St. George's The Stranger I Wed launches her new The Doves of New York historical romance series. Stop by Wednesday, April 24 for a review and print giveaway.

I'm looking forward to reading Fake it Till You Make it, a small-town romance by Sierra London. I'll be sharing my thoughts about it on Thursday, April 25.

Wrapping up the month on Friday, April 26 will be a review of Earls Trip, a historical romcom by Jenny Holiday. Lots of chuckles and endearing characters in this one. 

Just to let you know, I'll be out of pocket for most of this month. Nothing to worry about - I'll be visiting family overseas - but I might be a bit scarce here at the blog and online. Also, winners of giveaways (with the exception of How to End a Love Story and The Best Life Book Club) won't be announced until the last week of April. 

I hope you all have a wonderful month. What are you looking forward to in April? 


Winner - - One Dangerous Night


The randomly chosen winner of

a print copy of

One Dangerous Night by Cathy Maxwell is:

Cherie J


Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Friday, March 29, 2024

Review - - Falling for Alaska

Falling for Alaska
by Belle Calhoune
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: March 26, 2024
Reviewed by PJ

A small-town restaurateur and a big city former football player go head-to-head in this heartfelt enemies-to-lovers romance . . .

As the oldest of three brothers, former pro-football player Xavier Stone is no stranger to making tough calls. Like returning to his small hometown of Moose Falls, Alaska to help run his grandmother’s hard cider company and gastro pub. He agrees to keep an open mind, but between working with his estranged father and confronting heavy childhood memories with his brothers, Xavier’s ready to rush back to civilization. Even the stunning woman who runs his grandmother’s restaurant seems to instantly dislike him . . .

True Everett knows better than to let a ridiculously handsome man distract her, especially when it’s the same guy who stands between her and owning Northern Exposure, the tavern she manages. She didn’t pour her soul into the restaurant just for Xavier to swoop in and snatch away her dreams. But amid all the barbs—and, fine . . . all the sparks—flying, True glimpses the man beneath the swagger. That version of Xavier, the real one, might just steal True’s heart.

PJ's Thoughts:

Belle Calhoune is one of my favorite authors writing sweet, small-town romance and Alaska is one of my favorite romance settings. Put the two together and I was more than ready to be swept away by this first book in a new series featuring the three Stone brothers.

Falling for Alaska is a fun, charming read with emotional undertones. Xavier and True have great banter, wonderful chemistry, and a lot of fun. I love how Calhoune grows their relationship over the course of the book in addition to their own individual journeys. True's relationship with her younger brother (I adored him) and Xavier's complicated family ties all play significant roles in the evolution of these characters. I'm eager to discover more about the backstory of the Stone family as well as what happens going forward with Xavier's brothers, their grandmother, and their parents. There are issues still to be addressed. The Alaska setting is an important character as well, immersing me in her majestic, though sometimes dangerous, beauty. 

If you're looking for a sweet romance with plenty of chemistry, banter, meddling family, humor, and emotion, I recommend giving Falling for Alaska by Belle Calhoune a try. 

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Review & Giveaway - - One Dangerous Night

One Dangerous Night
by Cathy Maxwell
The Gambler's Daughters - Book 2
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: March 26, 2024
Reviewed by PJ

Elise Lanscarr is furious—her very own sister has married the man Elise had marked for herself. Feeling betrayed, she flees London, determined to return to the one place where everything was once as it should be: her family home in Ireland. But when her stagecoach crashes in a storm, she finds herself cast adrift in the wilds with no one to help but a rough-looking, albeit handsome, stranger—one who has obviously never been informed of the “proper” rules of society.

Christopher Fitzhugh-Cox, the missing Duke of Winderton, has fled all responsibility, preferring the persona of the devil-may-care rake “Kit.” He proudly lives hand-to-mouth, rubbing shoulders with commoners and thieves alike. But while he values his freedom, he’s never been one to leave a lady in trouble—even one as opinionated, albeit intriguing, as Elise.

But this night of booming thunder and flashing lightning is just the beginning of an unexpected, often dangerous, adventure. And two disillusioned souls who have been caught up in their own webs of expectations and disappointments are about to learn that life always holds surprises, and gifts. And all it asks in return is that they risk everything for Love . . . 

PJ's Thoughts:

Okay, I'll admit, I wasn't looking forward to reading this book. After reading A Kiss in the Moonlight (Michael and Dara), book one of  The Gambler's Daughters series, I was fed up with Elise and didn't much care what happened to her. I felt much the same about the Duke of Winderton after reading His Secret Mistress (Brandon and Kate), book one of the A Logical Man's Guide to Dangerous Women series. So then, how did these two unlikeable characters end up being one of my favorite couples? It's all due to the authorial excellence of their creator, Cathy Maxwell. 

First of all, I adore a good road romance and One Dangerous Night is among my favorites. Elise needed to be taken away from her comfort zone and challenged in order to grow. Kit also needed growth from the spoiled, entitled man-boy he was when first introduced in His Secret Mistress. The obstacles faced in their journey offered both exactly what was needed to evolve individually as well as bond as a couple. I loved watching them slowly adapt, change, and grow through the adventures that awaited them. Some were filled with humor, others with danger, and one in particular, for Elise, with heartbreaking emotion. 

I loved the steam between Elise and Kit, the adventure, the dog (especially the dog), and the gradual bond that slowly deepened into much more. I appreciated the way in which their family complications were addressed. There were amends that needed to be made for both and I was satisfied in the ways in which that was accomplished. In the end, I found myself firmly in the corners of two individuals I had heartily disliked, cheering them on to a happily ever after as a couple and as families. 

One Dangerous Night can stand well on its own but for a complete understanding of the events that brought Elise and Kit to where they are at the beginning of this book, I would encourage you to read both His Secret Mistress and A Kiss in the Moonlight

Have you read Cathy Maxwell?

Do you enjoy redemption romances?

Are there any secondary characters you'd like to see get their own book?

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, March 30 will receive a print copy of One Dangerous Night

*U.S. only

*Must be 18

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Review - - Wilde for You

Wilde for You
by Jennifer Ryan
Dark Horse Dive Bar - Book 2
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: March 26, 2024
Reviewed by PJ

Welcome to the Dark Horse Dive Bar, where the Wildes throw one hell of a party and love could be a barstool away!

Landscape artist, Layla Brock, knows what it feels like to love someone so completely you’d do anything for them—even take their secrets to the grave. Widowed after her husband’s betrayals and tragic death, Layla is searching for a new scene to paint, a new life to live. And Wyoming feels like the perfect place to get lost and find herself again.

Jax Wilde runs the family ranch, but has a few side hustles: wrangling his sisters, covering shifts at the Dark Horse Dive Bar, and renting out cabins to tourists looking for the ranch experience. His busy schedule, plus a bad breakup, equals no personal life. And then she showed up. And the woman he thought he had nothing in common with turned out to be his perfect match.

Layla knows what it feels like to lose everything. Jax is a man who wants it all—a wife, children, a life filled with happy memories. It’s a beautiful picture of a life Layla thought she’d had but turned out to be a lie. This could be her second chance…

Until her secrets begin to unravel and a new threat is revealed. There’s one difference this time: she has Jax Wilde on her side…

PJ's Thoughts:

Wilde for You is another book by Jennifer Ryan that kept me up reading well past my bedtime. Whether it's contemporary romance, romantic suspense, or women's fiction, this author has the ability to pull me into her stories and hold tight until I turn the last page. Even then, her characters linger in my mind for days after finishing their story. 

This is the second book in Ryan's Dark Horse Dive Bar series and one of my favorites from this author. She always brings her western settings to life on the page but especially so in Wilde for You. Maybe it's because Layla is an artist and we see the scenery through her eyes but I found the sense of place to be exceptionally immersive and vividly depicted. I felt like I was right there with her as Jax showed her all the special places on his ranch, absorbing the soul-stirring majesty of nature's beauty. 

The setting wasn't the only thing that captured my attention. Ryan has given readers a cast of characters I want to be friends with. I love the Wilde family and am totally invested in their happiness and well being. I want to stay at one of the cabins on their ranch, ride horses, go fishing, and dance the night away at their bar. These are characters it's fun to be around, characters who make me feel good, which is a large part of why it was so heartwarming to watch Layla be absorbed into the warmth of their family after coming through her two years of grief. 

Ryan excels at weaving suspense into her stories, as is the case with Wilde for You. I liked that that portion of the story didn't show up until later in the book, devoting necessary time to growing the relationship between Jax and Layla before introducing the danger. Once it became part of the story though, I was on my toes trying to figure out what was going on and who was behind it. 

If you enjoy contemporary romance with a western flavor, a thread of suspense, and a couple it's easy to cheer for, pick up a copy of Wilde for You. I loved it.

While Wilde for You is the second book in a series, it stands well on its own. You should be aware, however, that Lyric and Mason (the main couple from book one, Wilde Love, feature prominently in this book as well. 

Content warning: suicide, abortion, miscarriage, adultery (all occur off page and before the story begins)

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Review - - A Governess's Guide to Passion and Peril

A Governess's Guide to Passion and Peril
by Manda Collins
Ladies Most Scandalous - Book 4
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: March 26, 2024
Reviewed by Santa 

Jane Halliwell once dreamed of a home of her own—but those dreams (and her dowry) died with her father. Now, she works as a governess, preparing her charge for a future no longer within her reach. When her employer is murdered during a house party, however, Jane is forced back into the world of the 
ton. But stepping in as hostess will require working with the same lord who once broke her girlish heart.

Lord Adrian Fielding was too consumed with his job at the Foreign Office to pay young Jane much heed, but he always considered her a friend. Which is why he’s confounded by her icy demeanor now. More troubling still is his desire to melt the tensions between them. But his mentor’s murder means he must first find the culprit—and ensure Jane’s safety as she manages a house full of foreign dignitaries.

Only Jane insists on joining the investigation, and Adrian, despite all his diplomatic skills, finds himself seduced by her sharp wit and sparkling eyes. But with a vicious killer circling ever closer, will it soon be too late for their chance at forever?

Santa Says:

A Governess’s Guide To Passion and Peril by Manda Collins is another solid five star story. It is the fourth in this delightful series. It had me quickly turning pages. I just had to see what the main characters Jane and Adrian were up to as they worked together to solve what turned out to be a series of murders within the Foreign Office community. 

We met Jane Halliwell and Adrian Sterling in the previous book. I was excited to see how their story would evolve and I was not disappointed. Adrian is the younger brother of the Duke of Langham who went to work at the Foreign Office. He met Lady Jane Halliwell in Rome early in his career while working with her father. Tragically, her father committed suicide because of massive gambling debts. This threw Jane and her mother into diminished circumstances. Society was unforgiving and Jane was forced to seek employment as a governess.

Jane and Adrian are reunited several years later in the home of her latest employer, Lord Gilford, who is also a respected member of the Foreign Office. A house party turns to tragedy when her employer is found dead in his study by Jane and a lock down of the home is enacted. A mysterious message is found on Lord Gilford. 

Jane remembers a similar note she found on her father. Could her father’s suicide have been a homicide? There is more than one mystery to unravel here. This brings Jane and Adrian closer together as they assist Detective Eversham who some may remember from the first book in this series. Adrian’s brother the Duke and his wife Poppy also make appearances. I am a huge fan of other characters from the world Manda Collins created coming organically into a story.

This series always delivers a delicious recipe of romance with a hearty helping of mystery, a combination that keeps readers engaged throughout the book. I highly recommend this book and, really, this series to readers. Enjoy!

Monday, March 25, 2024

Review - - Wild Ride

Wild Ride
by Kate Meader
Rookie Rebels - Book 9
Publisher: Kate Meader, LLC
Release Date: March 26, 2024
Reviewed by PJ

Chicago Rebels hockey player Dex O'Malley has been a naughty boy . . . again.

Only his latest stunt isn’t quite like when he was caught with his pants down at a nightclub or was cited for drag-racing on Lake Shore Drive or even that time he said a few critical things about his teammates on a hockey podcast. Oops. This time, Dex is in real trouble, the kind that could get him kicked off the team and out of the league. And that can
not happen. Hockey is the only thing he’s ever been good at. The only thing he cares about. He’ll do whatever it takes to rehab his rep, even if it means cleaning up dog poop and suffering the steely-eyed disapproval of his new no-nonsense “boss” at the animal shelter, Ashley Adams.

Ashley has enough on her plate between her low-paying job, her high-maintenance family, and a love life she’s trying to resurrect after her divorce. She’s already mom to an amazing nine-year-old; the last thing she needs is to be stuck mothering a celebrity volunteer with more money than sense. But the troublemaking f-boy needs Ashley to sign off on his good deeds so he can get back to what he does best: lighting up lamps both on and off the ice. And while a guy like that could never interest her mind, it seems her body is not on the same page. Sure, Dex O’Malley is too young, too hot, too flighty for Ashley to take seriously, but a brief ride on the wild side might fit the bill …

Only that’s not enough for Dex. What happens when this notorious player decides the older, single mom is the hottest woman he’s ever met and that he wants to light her lamp . . . forever?

PJ's Thoughts:

Kate Meader is one of my favorite contemporary authors. Her books bubble over with sass, sizzle, and bone-deep emotion. Not to mention some of the best bromances around. Meddling, advice-giving, downright hilarious hockey teammates for the win. 

One of the things Meader does exceptionally well is the redemption of bad-boy heroes who are sometimes also total jerks. Enter the hero of Wild Ride, Dex O'Malley. If you've been reading Meader's Rookie Rebels series, you'll recognize Dex as heroine Tara's media-nightmare fake fiancĂ© (but not hero) from book 7, Jock Wanted. He showed glimmers of good-guy contrition in that book but it's going to take more - much more - to turn the corner for free-wheeling, trouble-magnet, entitled f-boy, Dex. Enter Ashley, a no-nonsense, hard-working, single mom whose sense of desirability has been beaten into the ground by her louse of an ex. She knows nothing about hockey and is less than impressed by the entitled (though gorgeous) celebrity athlete who's been dumped on her. She's determined to not give Dex an inch. He's determined to loosen her up. And then the fun begins...

I adored this couple. They've become one of my Meader favorites. The evolution of their relationship is filled with unexpected layers, plenty of humor, poignant moments, sizzle, and growth. Ashley's arc takes her on a journey of self-discovery that had me cheering. Her ex really did a number on her self-confidence, especially in regards to her looks and body image. To see her begin to blossom because of time spent with Dex - Dex! - was both poignant and empowering. Who knew he had it in him? Well, obviously the author did. It was so much fun to watch a smitten Dex have to do the chasing for probably the first time in his life. The best things in life are worth putting in the effort and Ashley - and hockey - are at the top of Dex's list.

There is so much more to Dex than meets the eye. I love how Meader uses the shelter animals to slowly unveil the layers of this character, showing parallels in the troubled journey of one particular rescue with Dex's own life journey. There may have been heart-tugging tears. Okay, there absolutely were. Then there are his encounters with Ashley's awkward, hockey-loving daughter which shine a light on his unexpected compassion, understanding, and goodness. It was heartwarming to watch him grow into this kind, caring, protective man without losing the mischievous, sexy flirt (but now with only one woman). 

The supporting cast in this book is flawless. As in earlier books, Meader uses the current and retired members of the Rebels to perfection. There is not a grandma out there who can rival these hockey players when it comes to romance meddling. The scenes where they start doling out romantic advice are pure gold. Several of the Rebels wives are also featured in this book with Tara (the former fake fiancĂ©, now best friend/confidante/cheerleader), leading the way. The woman is a force of nature.

If you enjoy contemporary romance with both sweetness and sizzle, complex, multi-layered characters, emotional depth, meddling friends, humor, and a happily ever after, don't miss Kate Meader's Wild Ride. It's an excellent addition to the Rookie Rebels series. 


Note: For those of you who prefer classic (man chest) covers to the new illustrated ones, check out the online store at Kate Meader's website where her books can be purchased in the cover format of your choice. 


Friday, March 22, 2024

Winner - - The Love Remedy


The randomly chosen winner of

a print copy of

The Love Remedy is:

Sharyn L


Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Review - - Cut the Cake

Cut the Cake
by Leigh Duncan
Heart's Landing - Book 1
Publisher: Gardenia Street Publishing
Release Date: March 29, 2024
*Previously published by Hallmark Publishing
as A Simple Wedding (March 10, 2020)
Reviewed by PJ

Will a fake bride miss her chance at real love?

From the time she and her cousin played dress-up and took turns pretending they were brides, Jennifer Longley has dreamed of the day she’d have her very own Heart’s Landing wedding. Now, she finally has her chance to visit the charming seaside village where lovers stroll arm in arm past Bow Tie Pasta, Dress For A Day and Forget Me Knot Flowers. But there’s a catch—as the personal assistant to a famous movie star, Jenny’s only in town to make wedding arrangements for her boss, and to avoid a media circus, she must pretend she’s the one getting married. But once Jenny reserves the venue, orders the bouquet and, best of all, samples the cake for the simple wedding her boss described, the movie star changes all the plans.

While the other store owners grumble about a wishy-washy bride who can’t seem to make up her mind, Nick Bell is intrigued by the bride-to-be who visits his bakery every afternoon for sweet treats and conversation. He can’t help but befriend her. But when sparks fly between the town’s most eligible baker and Jenny, Nick finds it more and more difficult to remember that she’s already spoken for.

As Jenny deals with her boss’s ever-changing demands, she tries to hide her attraction to Nick. But things get more and more complicated … and what will happen once everyone learns the truth about the woman who is only pretending to be a bride?

PJ's Thoughts:

If you're a fan of Hallmark Channel movies there's a good chance you're going to love Leigh Duncan's Cut the Cake. This book brings the small, wedding destination town of Heart's Landing to life with vivid descriptions and fills the wedding-related businesses with likable people readers will want to know better. The story flows smoothly, like a gentle summer's ride down a lazy river, with occasional bumps but a sweet landing at the end. 

Jenny is an engaging character and I easily became invested in her, happily nudging her along the path of friendship with Nick and hoping for more. Nick is such a good guy...and he bakes! I fell for him right along with Jenny. Duncan does a good job of strengthening their friendship, and deepening their emotions, without crossing any relationship boundaries. Remember, Jenny is pretending to be engaged to someone else and planning her own wedding. I also appreciated the decisions made near the end of the story, giving Jenny and Nick the necessary time to strengthen their feelings without secrets between them. Kudos to Duncan for giving them the time to grow and solidify their relationship after all is revealed. 

If you're looking for a sweet, fun, feel-good romance filled with likable main characters, plenty of colorful secondary characters, and one high-maintenance cousin, I recommend giving Cut the Cake a try.  

*Cut the Cake is a retitled reissue of A Simple Wedding which was originally written by Leigh Duncan and published by Hallmark Publishing. Hallmark has closed their publishing arm and the rights to the book have been restored to the author. Duncan is reissuing the three books in her Heart's Landing series with new covers and titles but the same heartwarming stories. Watch for book two, Save the Dance (formerly A Cottage Wedding) on May 31, 2024 and book three, Kiss the Bride (formerly A Waterfront Wedding) on July 30, 2024.