Geri’s Review+Excerpt: The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean

THE DAY OF THE DUCHESS
Series: Scandal & Scoundrel #3
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Sarah MacLean
Release Date: June 27, 2017

The one woman he will never forget…

Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem—he already has one.

The one man she will never forgive…

After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a single goal—to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow cannot resist.

A love that neither can deny…

The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their broken past, he can give her forever, making every day…

AMAZON | iBOOKS | B&N | GOOGLE PLAY | KOBO

Chapter 1
DESERTED DUKE DISAVOWED!
August 19, 1836
House of Lords, ParliamentShe’d left him two years, seven months ago, exactly.
Malcolm Marcus Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven looked to the tiny wooden calendar wheels inlaid into the blotter on his desk in his private office above the House of Lords.
August the nineteenth, 1836. The last day of the parliamentary session, filled with pomp and idle. And lingering memory. He spun the wheel with the six embossed upon it. Five. Four. He took a deep breath.
Get out. He heard his own words, cold and angry with betrayal, echoing with quiet menace. Don’t ever return.
He touched the wheel again. August became July. May. March.
January the nineteenth, 1834. The day she left.
His fingers moved without thought, finding comfort in the familiar click of the wheels.
April the seventeenth, 1833.
The way I feel about you . . . Her words now—soft and full of temptation. I’ve never felt anything like this.
He hadn’t, either. As though light and breath and hope had flooded the room, filling all the dark spaces. Filling his lungs and heart. And all because of her.
Until he’d discovered the truth. The truth, which had mattered so much until it hadn’t mattered at all.
Where had she gone?
The clock in the corner of the room ticked and tocked, counting the seconds until Haven was due in his seat in the hallowed main chamber of the House of Lords, where men of higher purpose and passion had sat before him for generations. His fingers played the little calendar like a virtuoso, as though they’d done this dance a hundred times before. A thousand.
And they had.
March the first, 1833. The day they met.
So, they let simply anyone become a duke, do they? No deference. Teasing and charm and pure, unadulterated beauty.
If you think dukes are bad, imagine what they accept from duchesses?
That smile. As though she’d never met another man. As though she’d never wanted to. He’d been hers the moment he’d seen that smile. Before that. Imagine, indeed.
And then it had fallen apart. He’d lost everything, and then lost her. Or perhaps it had been the reverse. Or perhaps it was all the same.
Would there ever be a time when he stopped thinking of her? Ever a date that did not remind him of her? Of the time that had stretched like an eternity since she’d left?
Where had she gone?
The clock struck eleven, heavy chimes sounding in the room, echoed by a dozen others sounding down the long, oaken corridor beyond, summoning men of longstanding name to the duty that had been theirs before they drew breath.
Haven spun the calendar wheels with force, leaving them as they lay. November the thirty-seventh, 3842. A fine date—one on which he had absolutely no chance of thinking of her.

Tell me, Seraphina. If there were no one—no sisters or god or goddess to protect, no American, no aristocracy to watch and judge? What would you do if I pursued you?”

The Day of the Duchess is one of those books that makes me go, “This is the reason why I read romance!” Does it have a healthy dose of angst? Yes, it does. It also has one of the best grovels I’ve read in a while. The satisfying ending was worth every single heartache I, and the characters, went through. And every emotional moment in this book was earned.

Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, is back from exile with a single mission: get a divorce from her estranged husband, Malcolm Bevingstoke. The Duke however won’t let her go without a fight. He has regretted his actions in the past and is willing to do anything to win his wife back. But he has to contend with a lot of obstacles before he can even begin to fix what he broke years ago. So he concocted a crazy plan. Ask Sera to accompany him on his estate to help him choose her replacement and then she’ll get her divorce.

It’s a crazy plan from a man who’s desperate to win back his wife and atone for his sins in the past. What he didn’t know is Seraphina is desperate, too. But for different reasons. And it’s something that I totally could relate to. It’s something that we take for granted now but was totally not an option for women back then. And this is important to the story and to Sera’s character arc and it made me understand her motivation and sympathize with her.

I have dreamed of you here. Look up. Look at us. Look at how beautiful you are. Watch how I worship you.”

The tension between them was unmistakable. These are two people who clearly still love each other desperately but are so desperately broken that they can’t see beyond their own pain. Sarah MacLean did a phenomenal job at writing both of these characters at their darkest moments. They both made mistakes. Malcolm’s transgression would have been a deal breaker for me if not for the fact that the author was able to convince me that he truly regretted his actions. And some of his actions were not immediately known to Sera. She didn’t know what he’s done to make it up to her after she left.

And that’s one of the beauty of this book. I went through it knowing that these two are still desperately in love and that they deserved each other. I want them to work out their issues because them not being together would be a tragedy. But man, did they have to work for it.

But she remembered every note, every word, as though it were a prayer. And perhaps it was. Perhaps she could exorcise the past with it.

I mentioned above how much the satisfying ending was so earned. And this is the reason why. Both characters had to find a common ground first before they could even move on.

I don’t blame Sera for not trusting Malcolm at his word. What she went through was heart-wrenching. At the same time, as much as I hated what Malcolm did, it was impossible not to be moved by how genuinely sorry he was for the past. And he suffered as well. I loved, LOVED how their relationship evolved.

I shall have to be happy with finding you in the stars, at night.”

Apart from Sera and Malcolm, the Day of the Duchess are full of interesting characters. Of course, Sera’s sisters, the Soiled S’s are by the far the most interesting ones. But there were characters here who really stood out as well. Caleb and the ladies that were supposed to vie for the title of the next Duchess of Haven were charming and wonderful. I’m so looking forward to reading Caleb’s book. I won’t tell you his potential partner. You’d have to read this book to find out. But man, that’s going to be another angsty one for sure.

Overall, I LOVED this book. The romance was just top-notch. And the grovel…*swoon* It took me quite a bit of time to recover after I finished it because it was that good. Well done, Ms. MacLean. Well done!

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Geri’s Review: Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis

LOST AND FOUND SISTERS
Series: Wildstone #1
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Author: Jill Shalvis
Release Date: June 20, 2017

From New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis comes her first women’s fiction novel—an unforgettable story of friendship, love, family, and sisterhood—perfect for fans of Colleen Hoover, Susan Mallery, and Kristan Higgins.

They say life can change in an instant…

After losing her sister in a devastating car accident, chef Quinn Weller is finally getting her life back on track. She appears to have it all: a loving family, a dream job in one of L.A.’s hottest eateries, and a gorgeous boyfriend dying to slip an engagement ring on her finger. So why does she feel so empty, like she’s looking for a missing piece she can’t find?

The answer comes when a lawyer tracks down Quinn and reveals a bombshell secret and a mysterious inheritance that only she can claim. This shocking revelation washes over Quinn like a tidal wave. Her whole life has been a lie.

On impulse, Quinn gives up her job, home, and boyfriend. She heads up the coast to the small hometown of Wildstone, California, which is just a few hours north, but feels worlds apart from Los Angeles. Though she doesn’t quite fit in right away, she can’t help but be drawn to the town’s simple pleasures…and the handsome, dark-haired stranger who offers friendship with no questions asked.

As Quinn settles into Wildstone, she discovers there’s another surprise in store for her. The inheritance isn’t a house or money, but rather something earthshattering, something that will make her question everything she thought she knew about herself, about her family. Now with a world of possibilities opening up to Quinn, she must decide if this new life is the one she was always meant to have—and the one that could finally give her the fulfillment she’s searched so long for.

AMAZON | iBOOKS

Admittedly, I was a bit nervous starting this book because this was marketed as Women’s Fiction and not romance. And I always get nervous when it’s WF because I happen to love my HEA…and well…WF can be downright depressing and drab. But it’s Jill Shalvis! I trust her and I wasn’t disappointed.

This book rocks!

It was humorous but also poignant, and the characters are flawed but still completely relatable, which is always a plus.

Lost and Found Sisters is a story about Quinn Weller who is still grappling with her sister’s death a couple of years ago. Her sister’s accident had hit her so hard that she still hasn’t moved on emotionally from it. She’s contemplating how empty her life is and how numb she felt but doesn’t really know how to get out of it when she meets a lawyer who told her some devastating truths about Quinn’s life. And this is where the story really gets interesting for me.

Quinn, driven by curiosity left LA and went north to Wildstone, California in order to uncover the secrets of her past and the inheritance that she’s going to receive. Quinn’s own expectations were upended when she arrived in Wildstones. She’s not only discovering the secrets of her own past and her own family, she’s also getting involved in the lives of the people in Wildstone, especially Mick’s.

Mick is a Wildstone native who ran out of town the moment he graduated high school. He’s now a successful businessman who’s temporarily back to help his mother get on her feet after his father’s death. He had no plans of coming back to Wildstone permanently. When he meets Quinn, he’s drawn to her and she to him but because Mick isn’t really staying in Wildstone and Quinn is dealing with some family stuff, their relationship started off tentatively without any promises.

With Lost and Found Sisters being tagged as Women’s Fiction and not Romance, I was a bit prepared for the romance to be thin and secondary. While the romance between Mick and Quinn isn’t the main focus of story, it’s still well developed and substantial, in my opinion.

There is also a secondary set up romance between two characters that I hope would develop into something more in the future. And since this is looking to be another series, we might be getting their book as well.

Romance aside, I enjoyed Quinn’s journey as a character. She came to Wildstone expecting one thing and came out with so much. The secondary characters are well drawn and complex. They do have personalities of their own. They’re not there just to advance the plot of the main character. I actually wanted to know them, which is a testament to how talented Ms. Shalvis is for making me care about these secondary characters.

Wildstone itself is a character in the book. Its landmarks and struggles feature heavily in the book. The town feels alive and populated by real people. I’m definitely looking forward to visiting and discovering more of its secret in the coming books.

As of right now, I’m happy with how this book turned out. It exceeded my expectations. And yes, I highly recommend this book to everyone!

Geri’s Review & Excerpt: Silver Silence by @NaliniSingh

SILVER SILENCE
Series: Psy-Changeling Trinity #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Author: Nalini Singh
Release Date: June 13, 2017

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh introduces a bold new chapter in her extraordinary paranormal romance saga with the Psy-Changeling Trinity series. Wild passion will encounter the darkest of betrayal…

Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life.

But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater Bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence—her mind clear of all emotion—Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her.

But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious…and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed…

AMAZON

I’ve got strong hands, and I promise to be a gentleman unless you ask me to tear off your clothes and kiss every delectable inch of you.”

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Oh my gah, Valentin. *melts into a puddle of goo*

This Changeling alpha bear stole my heart from the get go and he almost ALMOST replaced Hawke as my favorite Nalini Singh hero ever! No small feat coz duh, Hawke is Hawke but oh man, Valentin is right up there.

Silver Silence is the first book out of the second chapter of Nalini Singh’s sprawling Psy-Changeling series called Psy-Changeling Trinity. Silence has fallen and a new peace accord has been signed by the three groups: the Human Alliance, the Psy’s and the Changelings. But a new group threatens to unravel the fragile bonds of peace that the Trinity has forged. Just when you thought this series couldn’t get any better, it does. It really does.

Silver didn’t know how to love, but she knew how to hold on to her people.

Silver Mercant rose from being Kaleb Krychek’s top aide to become the head of the Em-Net, the worldwide emergency response network. Silence has fallen but despite this Silver still chooses to live under it. She has a good reason to and her reason isn’t clear to other characters in the book as well as the readers until it was revealed. The Mercants is one of the most powerful Psy family in the world, and the most secretive. So when an attempt was made on Silver’s life, the Mercants did what they had to do their way.

Fortunately for Silver, Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater Bears offered his home and his protection while her family tried to get to the bottom of who wanted Silver killed. 

The StoneWater Bears are a strong predator changeling group out of Moscow who went through a very traumatic rift which threatens to tear them part. And Valentin being the Alpha has his hands full with keeping his family safe and strong as they navigate the new changes brought about by the Trinity Accord. But Silver has always fascinated Valentin. The man and his bear recognized their mate in Silver and despite her Silence, Valentin goes above and beyond in trying to win her trust and her heart. And we know what happens when you put a determined alpha bear together with a reluctant Silent Psy in one place, right?

This was my favorite part of the book for me. Yes, this book does have multiple POVs. It has intrigued and a dash of suspense. But the romance…the ROMANCE was top-notch swoonworthy.

Explain what’s happening.”  

 “We’re happening.”

Valentin, like most changeling Alpha, is determined. Gah! His devotion and patience as the pursues Silver “sneaky like a cat” was everything. He was funny as hell and he respects Silver and treats her as his equal. He totally won me over and Silver didn’t stand a chance. He was one determined bear.

I loved how Ms. Singh took time to develop not just their romance but each of their character arcs. Silver went from being Silent to the kind of person that was perfect fit for Valentin, who has always worn his heart on his sleeve when it comes to Silver. I loved how the StoneWater Bears Denhome was explored in the book. The vivid imagery of their cave as well as the relationships between Valentin and his sisters, as well as his lieutenants added an interesting layer to the story and to the romance.

A few familiar characters from the first chapter of the Psy-Changeling series made some appearances but not all. Lots of names were dropped though which made me so happy because yes, I knew these characters. Their presence were felt but not too much that it became distracting. This book is definitely all about these new characters, specifically, the StoneWater bears and the BlackEdge wolves, which I am already in love with.

I’ll be beary good,” he promised, his face lit from within.

She had the sense of playing with a wild thing. “Now you’re just beyond bearing.”

Silver Silence did not disappoint. It’s tautly written with fascinating characters and an intricate plot that holds your interest from beginning until the end.  There were a lot of plot threads that were left open and I for one, am intrigued.  I’m definitely looking forward to more Psy-Changeling Trinity.

Laughing at the cubs’ antics, Valentin jogged down the slight incline and waded into what had to be ice-cold water after kicking off his boots and socks. He splashed the cubs, laughed when they splashed him back. Running so they could chase him, he turned abruptly and chased them back, to their unhidden joy.
Silver took a seat on the grass. When the female bear looked her way, she inclined her head in a silent greeting. The bear did the same, then they both watched an alpha bear play with two energetic cubs, his hands holding rough care for their small bodies.
By the time Valentin made his way back to her, he was drenched and his eyes weren’t human in any way. When he spoke, his already deep voice was so low it felt like thunder against her skin. “Couldn’t resist,” he said, pushing back his wet hair with one big hand. “If you weren’t in recovery and if I wasn’t in terror of Nova’s wrath, I’d have invited you. The small monsters wanted to play with you.”
Silver didn’t get to her feet. “Can we stay here a little longer?” It was patent that Valentin had an extremely high tolerance for the cold, but he might want to dry off.
“Sure,” he said, and, moving away several feet, shook off the wet.
Fine droplets settled on the skin of her cheek, but she didn’t flinch at the unintentional tactile contact. She also controlled her urge to reach up and touch the water where it lay against her skin. There was no reason to do that, and Silver was alive because she only did things that were rational.
Settling beside her, Valentin waved at the cubs as their guardian led their tired forms toward a path in the trees that was at the same level as the stream. “Gentler climb,” Valentin told her.
“They seem too exhausted to make it to Denhome.”
“It’s all an act—they’re hoping for a ride on their aunt’s back.” His tone held the same fond affection she’d heard when he spoke of Dima. “It’d take more than a few minutes’ play in the water to wipe out those two.”
The cubs had played with Valentin for almost a half hour. “They’re hyperactive?”
“They’re baby bears.”
Silver watched as those baby bears turned toward her and rose up on their back paws, as if in challenge. A stern sound from their caretaker, and they dropped down and scrambled to catch up with her. Their bodies disappeared into the trees as dusk began to turn from orange to shadowy gray.
Beside her, Valentin sprawled out, bracing himself on his elbows. His drenched T-shirt clung to the ridged muscles of his abdomen, pulled tight across his pectoral muscles, shaped itself over his shoulders. His jeans weren’t much better, outlining the raw muscle of his thighs.
Valentin Nikolaev was a man of violent physical strength even in human form. Yet he clearly had iron control over it; when he’d played with the children, they’d displayed zero fear of their alpha.
“You thought about where you’re going to live when you escape the bears who’ve kidnapped you?”
When she raised an eyebrow at him, he grinned. “Fringe netter with his own Internet channel sent out a breaking report last night. Pasha—who obviously needs more work duties—made up a fake account and posted a comment swearing to have seen you being pulled into a black van by six burly bears in bear form.”
“You don’t seem too concerned.” Amber eyes and deep voice, he remained very much a bear in human form.
“Well, according to this ‘eyewitness,’ the getaway driver was in bear form, too. Must’ve been tough for him to steer with one paw since he was drinking a beer at the same time.”
“Bears,” Silver said, making Valentin throw his head back and laugh that huge laugh that wrapped around her.
“I’ve got strong hands, and I promise to be a gentleman unless you ask me to tear off your clothes and kiss every delectable inch of you.”

NEW YORK TIMES AND USA Today bestselling author of the Psy-Changeling and Guild Hunter series Nalini Singh usually writes about hot shapeshifters and dangerous angels. This time around, she decided to write about a hot and wickedly tempting rock star. If you’re seeing a theme here, you’re not wrong.

Nalini lives and works in beautiful New Zealand, and is passionate about writing. If you’d like to explore her other books, you can find lots of excerpts on her website. Slave to Sensation is the first book in the Psy-Changeling series, while Angels’ Blood is the first book in the Guild Hunter series. Once Rock Addiction is out, swing by the site to check out the special behind-the-scenes page, complete with photos of many of the locations used in the book.

Geri’s Review: When It’s Real by Erin Watt

WHEN IT’S REAL
Genre: Contemporary YA Romance
Author: Erin Watt
Release Date: May 30, 2017

From #1 New York Times bestselling author duo Erin Watt comes the addictive contemporary tale of a teen rock star in need of an image makeover and the teen girl hired to be his fake girlfriend.

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?

AMAZON | iBOOKS

When It’s Real by Erin Watt is the perfect, romantic, fluffy summer read.

Oakley Ford is a teen celebrity whose early rise to fame and penchant for trouble has attracted a slew of negative publicity. Desperate to rehab his image before he becomes a washed-up has-been at 19, his management suggested that he dates a normal girl to not only rehab his tarnished image but to also help him land the next producer for his album.

Vaughn Bennett may be a “normal girl” by Hollywood’s standard but her life hasn’t a bed of roses. Orphaned and desperately helping her sister raised her younger siblings made Vaughn’s decision to be Oakley Ford’s fake girlfriend a no-brainer.

Despite a rocky start, Oakley and Vaughn found themselves becoming friends. But paparazzies, jealous exes, Hollywood gossip, nosy publicists and crazy fans are just few of the things that Oakley and Ford had to contend with. They also had to deal with their growing feelings for each other, which makes things a little bit more complicated.

I appreciate how the authors didn’t just focus on the growing romance between Vaughn and Oakley. It also focused on Oakley’s growth from being a spoiled brat musician who had fame way too early in his life to a mature young man whose passion and love for music was unquestionable.

Even though this premise has been done a lot in the past, I still enjoyed this book immensely. I liked that this was different from their other series. Low drama and low angst but still in keeping with the Erin Watt tradition of having smart, capable teenage characters that would appeal even to older readers.

And what makes me even more excited was the fact that I could share this book with my nieces. This is a true YA book, not just because the characters are in their teens but also the way it’s written which means no explicit or overly sexy scenes. So yes, you could recommend this to a younger audience without fear of being accused of corrupting them.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to readers who are looking for smart, romantic YA reads.

Geri & Lana’s Review: Curveball by @MariahDietz

CURVEBALL
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Mariah Dietz
Release Date: May 18, 2017

Shakespeare believed there was always humor in tragedy and tragedy in humor.

My life proved his theory as fact.

At eighteen I was a single parent moving to this small town to be with the man I loved. The one who was supposed to love and cherish me in return.

Finding out he had a wife was tragic.
Remaining in love with him in spite of her was more tragic.
My mom and best friend setting me up on a long string of blind dates was an ongoing tragedy.

Nine years later, I’ve learned to see the humor in most situations.

My mom and best friend setting me up on disastrous blind dates.
My son’s jokes.
The fire alarm going off each time I cook.

My constant bright spot always adding to the humor was my son, Hayden. But when Hayden had a life-threatening allergic reaction, the man who came to help my little boy became my own savior. His laugh, his smile, and the way his eyes lit up when he spoke to my son made him a beacon of light in both our lives.

But I wasn’t the only one who noticed him.
When I began having feelings for the man my best and only friend had fallen for, I knew following my heart would once again lead to a fresh round of heartbreak.

Love led me to this town.
Lies kept me there.

Would history repeat itself?
Or had life just thrown me another Curveball?

AMAZON

LANA’S REVIEW

Will you keep looking at me like I’m yours if I tell you there’s nothing to worry about?”
“You just haven’t been paying attention. I’ve been looking at you like you’re mind since I first saw you.”

Holy. Wow. How is this the first book I’m reading by this author? I’ll fully admit that I was hooked by the blurb with a promise of an angst fest. Being the angst addict that I am, I was ready to have my heart ripped out…
But that’s not at all what I got.

This book was nothing what expected and yet exactly what I needed. I loved the flowing, almost lyrical writing style. I loved the characters and most especially the incredible hero. I loved the character driven story and the pacing. I loved the slow burn romance. I loved the lack of unnecessary drama. I loved Elle and Coen’s connection and their journey from friends to lover. I loved Elle’s adorable little boy. I just loved it. I loved everything about it.

I feel the blurb is a bit misleading, or maybe it was for me. Because this is not an angst fest. It’s a story that’s full of depth and feeling, but there’s no crazy drama or angst. It’s a story of a woman that made a mistake when she was young and naive and now learning to move on with her life. Elle fell for a man when she was a teenager that irrevocably changed the course of her life. Now 9 years later, she’s come a long way from the naive 17 year old girl she used to be. Being a single mother that’s balancing raising her son and a full time career leaves no time for her love life. She inevitably allows her best friend to set her up on a string of horrible dates from a dating site she’s on, fully convinced she’ll never meet the man she wants.

The last thing she expects is to form a connection with her best friend’s new neighbor. Coen is everything that she’s sworn off; a firefighter and off limits because her best friend is interested in him. He’s also endearing, thoughtful, sweet, and is incredible to her little boy. What starts off as an almost unwilling friendship, soon begins to develop into something much more.

She squares her shoulders when I take three measured steps that bring us toe to toe and the flame in her eyes smothers me as it spreads like a wildfire, heating me, filling me with a fight or flight instinct that has me reaching up to grab a handful of her dark hair and lean forward until my lips steal her breath and give her my own.

Coen.

SWOON. All of the swoon! This man was perfection. He’s fiercely protective, sweet, thoughtful, and he cares for Elle’s son as much as for her. I loved seeing the development of the connection between the three of them. I loved the way that Coen demolished every wall that Elle has built around her heart through the years.

There was no crazy drama or angst and it’s not even a little smutty. It was simply a story of a love in the most unlikeliest of place. Elle and Coen complimented each other so perfectly. Coen lifted Elle up in her weak moments and Elle stood by Coen in his. It was poignant and touching and I absolutely adored it.

My only quibble is the twist in this book that made things a little too convenient in how some things played out. But other than that, I enjoyed this book immensely. I’m seriously kicking myself for not reading this author before but I’ll be rectifying it by reading every future book this woman releases.

GERI’S REVIEW

I love him because he saved me. Because he makes me acknowledge my feelings rather than feel ashamed of them, and he makes me feel calm and safe. Two things I haven’t felt since I was seventeen.❞

This was my very first Mariah Dietz book and certainly won’t be my last.

Curveball was a pleasant surprise. I was kind of expecting angst on top of angst, which I admittedly am all for on some cases, and Curveball isn’t quite the angsty read I was expecting. But it nevertheless, captured my attention and I was able to fell in love not only with the story overall but with the characters.

Speaking of characters…Coen, Coen, Coen. He made this book for me. Just an amazing hero. He had me swooning right from the get go. He could’ve easily become an indecisive character with two beautiful women vying for his attention but he’s not. I loved his steadfastness and resolve. He’s definitely worthy to be called a hero in every sense of the word.

I also loved Ella. Her journey is quite heartbreaking. I liked how the author showed the toxic kind of love that Ella had with her ex and how it can happen even to a person like Ella who had a great family and friends, etc. Her reactions and her fears felt real to me, and I really enjoyed seeing her character evolved from the beginning of the book until the end.

Another thing that I really liked about this book was how rich and complex the secondary characters are. They’re not just there to serve the hero or the heroine. They definitely have their own personalities and quirks.

That said, I felt like the ending was a bit rushed and conflict resolved a little too quickly. Some people got away with some things and there were some confrontations (which I won’t divulge here because it’s a spoiler) that I would’ve loved to see.

But overall, this was a very solid, heartwarming read. And yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from Ms. Dietz.

Mariah Dietz lives in Eastern Washington with her husband and two sons that are the axis of her crazy and wonderful world.

Mariah grew up in a tiny town outside of Portland, Oregon where she spent the majority of her time immersed in the pages of books that she both read and created.

She has a love for all things that include her sons, good coffee, books, travel, and dark chocolate. She also has a deep passion for the stories she writes, and hopes readers enjoy the journeys she takes them on, as much as she loves creating them.

Geri’s Review: The Simplicity of Cider by Amy Reichert

THE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Author: Amy Reichert
Release Date: May 16, 2017

Fall in love with The Simplicity of Cider, the charming new novel about a prickly but gifted cider-maker whose quiet life is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome man and his young son at her family’s careworn orchard by the author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.

Focused and unassuming fifth generation cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Although her business is struggling, Sanna remains fiercely devoted to the orchard, despite her brother’s attempts to convince their aging father to sell the land.

Single dad Isaac Banks has spent years trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak at home, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, driving across the country. Chance—or fate—led them straight to Sanna’s orchard.

Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places—friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm.

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You make my heart reckless.”

I had the pleasure of reading my first Amy Reichert book with The Coincidence of Coconut Cake. I fell in love with Lou and Al and with Amy’s writing then. I mean, I love food. And what’s better than reading about romance and food? Nothing! It’s a no-brainer for me.

The Simplicity of Cider take readers on another journey through Wisconsin’s charming apple orchards.

Sanna Lund is a daughter, hermit, and talented cider maker whose life was scarred by a family betrayal. She’s content with her life making cider and helping her father tend to their family orchard. Things aren’t going well for Sanna and her father though. She’s failing to sell her cider and her family might lose the orchard to developers.

Help came in the form of two strangers, Isaac and his son, Bass. Father and son are running from their own heartbreak at home and found solace and respite in the Lund orchard bringing Sanna and Isaac together. The attraction that sparked between them took Sanna and Isaac by surprise. But Sanna has no time for love especially one that could leave her at any moment.

She couldn’t tell if he was the storm or the rescue boat.”

Love, loyalty, family and betrayal are just some of the themes that are at the heart of this book. Amy Reichert did a phenomenal job with these characters. Sanna was an amazing character. She’s awkward but sure of herself. Confident in her skill but also shows vulnerability which made her such a joy to read.

Isaac and his son Bass straight up stole my heart. Their interaction and banter was given a substantial amount of page time, which I really enjoyed and the tragedy that they both went through tugged at my heart. Isaac was the perfect foil for Sanna. He’s exactly what she needed.

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Despite its somber theme, there was such a joy to this book. Sanna’s love for cider making, Isaac’s love for Bass, Einar’s patience, Ms. Dibble’s matchmaking—these things saved the book from being depressing. Not to mention, the romance was really strong in this book. Isaac and Sanna’s chemistry sizzled throughout the book.

The toe-curling romance combined with strong family dynamics made this book a winner for me. Simplicity of Cider was simply lovely. And I couldn’t have asked for a better book from Amy Reichert.

Review: Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers #3) by Sarina Bowen

PIPE DREAMS
Series: Brooklyn Bruisers #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Sarina Bowen
Release Date: May 2, 2017 

A goalie has to trust his instincts, even when taking a shot to the heart…

Mike Beacon is a champion at defending the net, but off the ice, he’s not so lucky. A widower and a single father, he’s never forgotten Lauren Williams, the ex who gave him the best year of his life. When Lauren reappears in the Bruisers office during the playoffs, Beacon sees his chance to make things right.

Lauren hates that she’s forced to travel with the team she used to work for and the man who broke her heart. There’s still undeniable sexual tension running between her and Mike, but she won’t go down that road again. She’s focused on her plans for the future—she doesn’t need a man to make her dreams of motherhood come true.

Lauren plays her best defensive game, but she’s no match for the dark-eyed goalie. When the field of play moves to Florida, things heat up on the beach.

One of Mike’s biggest fans doesn’t approve—his teenage daughter. But a true competitor knows not to waste the perfect shot at love.

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 You’re my happy thought, Lo.”

 

Lauren Williams may be known for being an ice princess, but she’s also one of Nate’s trusted right-hand man. So when Becca suffered a concussion and has to rest, Lauren had to step in and take over her job (temporarily) as manager of the Brooklyn Bruiser’s front office. The problem is Lauren would rather be anywhere else than in the Bruiser’s office. Readers of this series will remember her aversion to hockey and the team but we never really knew why. We do have an inkling that she and the Bruiser’s goalie had a thing in the past but it was never fully revealed in the other books yet.

In Pipe Dreams, we finally get to know the reason behind Lauren’s aversion to hockey. And yes, it does have to do with her past relationship with Mike Beacon. Mike was the former captain of the Bruisers. We found out that he stepped down as captain after his estranged wife fell ill and he had to devote his extra time with her. What we do not know then was that this event was also linked with the demise of his and Lauren’s relationship.

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I have been intrigued with Lauren since the series began. I thought there was more to that whole ice princess routine than meets the eye. But at first, I thought, “Oh no, she’s going to cause trouble for one of our heroine, isn’t she?” But then Sarina Bowen sort of turned that on its head when she volunteered to babysit for Becca’s neice (sic) in the previous book.

Since then, my opinion on Lauren changed. I wanted to know why she’s the way she is. I loved that she’s capable, accomplished and ambitious. She’s also heartbroken and vulnerable. And boy, her past with Mike was a doozy. It’s tragic and it’s one of those things where you really don’t have any choice in the matter. And that’s what makes Lauren’s heartbreak even more relatable.

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I was prepared to hate Mike for what he did with Lauren. But when I started reading this book, I realized that things are more complicated than that. Mike had to make the best decision he can for his family, and while I feel for Lauren and I wish he didn’t break her heart, I understand where his coming from.

It also really helped that Sarina Bowen didn’t write Mike’s wife as this shrew who had no personality except to be the bad guy in the story. Again, it was more complicated than that. I actually felt sympathy for Mike’s family especially his daughter. Okay, I admit I was a little leery when it seemed like Elsa is going to be the “obstacle” that’s going to keep our main couple apart. But again, Ms. Bowen did her character justice. She’s not just a prop but a real character with a story arc.

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The whole team featured prominently in this book as they chase the Stanley Cup. I enjoyed seeing them in action. My only complaint about this book was  

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Apart that, I liked this one a lot. I’ve always enjoyed Sarina’s writing. Her characters are simply likable and her stories tends to really resonate with me and with a lot of readers. Pipe Dreams is an enjoyable, low-angst, second-chance romance that shouldn’t be missed.

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Review: Before I Ever Met You by Karina Halle

BEFORE I EVER MET YOU
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Karina Halle
Release Date: April 25, 2017

I first met William McAlister when I was just a teenager.

He was handsome, had a beautiful wife and was on the verge of success, having just joined my father as his business partner. Mr. McAlister was full of smooth charm, but back then he was barely a blip on my radar. Just a family friend.

Fast forward ten years: I’m 25 years old and a single mom trying to make things right for her seven-year old son. I’ve made some mistakes, grappled with my demons and now I’m back in the city of Vancouver, getting a second chance at a better life.

I’ve started by working for my father’s production company as an executive assistant. My first day on the job and I already know I could have a promising career there.
That is until I see Will McAlister for the first time in a decade.

Now recently divorced and as sophisticated as always, Will has gone from being my father’s friend and business partner to something so much more.

We’re both older, for one thing, and he just oozes this worldly confidence and stark sexuality. Combined with his tall, muscular build and sharp suits, strong jaw and bedroom eyes, Will has turned into one hell of a distraction. A distraction I’m having a hard time staying away from, considering his office is right across from my desk and I work with him in such close proximity.

But it’s just a harmless crush, right?

It’s just an innocent fantasy of screwing him on his desk, right?

It can’t ever be more because he’s my father’s best friend, business partner, and my boss.

Right?

Wrong.

 

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When I think about Karina Halle, I immediately think delectable anti-heroes, edgy heroines, and her stories are usually dark and twisty with a lot of angst. I never would have used sweet and adorable to describe her stories until now.

Before I Ever Met You is a different Karina Halle altogether and I am glad I got to read it this early because I really, really enjoyed it. Take my opinion with a grain of salt because I haven’t read all her her books but as someone who’s enjoyed her horror-paranormal series and her other edgier titles, Before I Met You was a breath of fresh air. Don’t get me wrong, it is still quintessentially KH but different.

Life is short. And when you find what makes your heart beat, your soul sing, then you have to hang on to it.”

Jackie is a familiar KH-type heroine: troubled, rebellious teenager who made a terrible decision and is now paying for it. Because of those mistakes, her relationship with her parents suffered and now, she’s back in their home, begging for a job and another chance to make a better life for her and her 7-year old son. Despite the guilt and the shame she’s feeling, Jackie remains resilient and it’s one of the things that made me relate with her character. Her decisions and actions made sense throughout the book.

The Mr. McAlister I remember from when I was a teenager was tall, dark and handsome, now he’s all those things magnified. Age has made him one hell of a sexy beast.”

But as much as I liked Jackie, the one character who stole my heart is Will McAllister. Will is her father’s friend and business partner, and 16 years older than Jackie. Will is also seeking a second chance in a town he left for who he thought was the love of his life. He’s back in Vancouver after the humiliating end of his marriage. Like Jackie, love is not his priority at all.

But the moment Jackie and Will meet, sparks started flying. And despite their best effort to stay away, their coming together was inevitable.

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Yes, it’s “forbidden” romance in a sense that there is that 16-year age gap and he’s her boss. But it’s also more than that or should I say, it’s never really about that. I feel like Jackie and Will’s journey as characters go beyond the May-December office romance affair cliche thing. Jackie’s got a lot of emotional baggage she had to deal with and Will was the catalyst that brought those issues to the forefront.

There was nothing sordid about their coming together even though they did keep things under wraps from other people especially her parents. It never felt like the story was about just that, and I really appreciated that Karina Halle took time to develop Jackie’s character. She made me understand and sympathetic to her plight, which is very important to me.

How is that life can be so crazy,so chaotic,so scary.
And yet one kiss from you and all that goes away.”

Will’s character is the same. From the get go, he’s characterized as a mature, caring, and sweet man who is willing to risk everything for Jackie and his boy. I smiled and swooned along with Jackie and I’m pretty sure I was doing the heart-eyes emoji thing every time he does something sweet for Jackie and Ty.

Then there’s the grand gesture.

Anyone who knows me well enough would attest that it doesn’t matter if I got annoyed with the characters or that the book was really slow in the beginning as long as I get my big-ass, grand gesture at the end. And this book’s grand gesture had me like…

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And then there’s that epilogue….

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OMG, I can’t. I was bursting with happiness. All that gooey HEA goodness was just too cute for words.

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Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of Where Sea Meets Sky, Racing the Sun, The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Dirty Angels and over 20 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit www.authorkarinahalle.com and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.

Geri’s Review: All You Need by Lorelei James

ALL YOU NEED
Series:  Need You #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Lorelei James
Release Date: April 4th 2017

A hockey romance burns up the ice in the third sexy Need You novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Mastered Series and the Blacktop Cowboys® Series.


PR agent Annika Lund can spin any disaster into a win. But revamping the reputation of a notorious Swedish hockey player will take every trick in her arsenal, especially when his agent insists that convincing everyone he’s no longer a playboy is top priority. And that it requires a sham relationship—with Annika playing the part of loving girlfriend.

On fire in the rink and in the bedroom, Axl Hammerquist couldn’t care less about being anyone’s golden boy. So when his agent forces him to play nice with a new publicist, he takes satisfaction in being as much of a pain as possible.

But the more time he spends getting to know Annika, the more Axl starts to think that being Mr. Nice Guy might be worth it if it gets him the girl…

AMAZON | iBOOKS

I have a confession to make. When I started this book, I was sure I wasn’t going to like it.

One, the heroine, I felt, has no personality whatsoever. She’s too perfect for my taste. She has no flaws. She’s basically a walking, talking cliche: tall, gorgeous, rich, blonde heiress who has everything. I have nothing against blonde heiresses for heroines but Annika Lund just left me cold.

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Two, the book started off slow. Not only that it reads like any other sports romances out there. It’s not bad but the story didn’t stood out either.

Three, the hero was just okay. Again, he’s your typical NA-ish hockey romance hero. I didn’t find anything exciting about him even though I liked him better than the heroine.

Then 53% happened, and the story, the character just took off for me. The jokes that felt off at the beginning started to hit me and I found myself genuinely laughing at the banter between Annika and Axl.

“I’m happy I’m not Santa—the poor guy only comes once a year. And he limits himself to just good girls.”

Also, there’s this chemistry thing. It finally worked. I started rooting for these two characters to figure their shit out and have their HEA.

And oh, did I mention that the secondary characters, specifically Annika’s mom, Selka, was hilariously entertaining and entertaining? No? Well, they are. Selka especially. And the whole Lund clan had their own brand of crazy that I found entertaining. Same goes for Axl’s teammates and neighbors.

Then there’s that “big gesture” scene near the end that had me swooning. I admit, it might have been a bit cheesy but IT WORKED!! Big time. It just did.

So yeah. I ended up really enjoying this book. I’m glad I stuck with it otherwise I would have missed this gem:

“What’s a douchecanoe?”
“Worse than an asshat, but not as bad as a twatwaffle.”

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READ THE SERIES IN ORDER

WHAT YOU NEED | JUST WHAT I NEEDED | ALL YOU NEED

Review Blitz: Twist by Kylie Scott

TWIST
Series:
Dive Bar, #2
Author: Kylie Scott
On Sale: April 11, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

 

From New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott comes the second sizzling stand-alone novel in the Dive Bar series!

When his younger brother loses interest in online dating, hot bearded bartender Joe Collins only intends to log into his account and shut it down.

Until he reads about her.

Alex Parks is funny, fascinating, and pretty much everything he’s been looking for in a woman—except that she lives across the country.

Soon they’re emailing up a storm and telling each other their deepest, darkest secrets…except the one that really matters.

When Alex pays Joe a surprise visit, however, they both discover that when it comes to love, it’s always better with a twist.

 

 

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“Worst internet friend ever…”

When Joe Collins answered an email from a certain woman named Alex Parks using his brother’s dating profile, he never thought anything would come of it. And yet many months later, they’re still communicating and unbeknownst to him, she’s coming to Idaho to meet him in person. There’s one huge problem though. Alex thought she was talking to Eric, Joe’s brother who owned the profile. So imagine her surprise when she goes to Dive Bar and sees the guy she’s been pouring her heart out to, only to find out he doesn’t know her.

“Because the same as any man, women were entitled to a fuss-free sex life should they so choose. And it didn’t make us sluts, or whores, or any of the other nasty, misogynistic, double-standard bullshit that got thrown a woman’s way when she didn’t fit with the traditional ideals of who and what a female should be.”

There’s something about Kylie Scott’s heroines that really appeal to me, and Alex is no exception. She’s beautiful, funny, exasperating but also totally real and adorable. Her character just comes to life in these pages and I just enjoyed reading her thoughts no matter how crazy and sometimes exasperating it is.

But there’s more to like about Twist aside from Alex. I mean, hello? Joe Collins is H-O-T and good with his hands. Despite the initial douchecanoe move of letting Alex go on believing he’s someone else and totally flaking out on meeting her many times, he got his act together rather quickly.

“Because the same as any man, women were entitled to a fuss-free sex life should they so choose. And it didn’t make us sluts, or whores, or any of the other nasty, misogynistic, double-standard bullshit that got thrown a woman’s way when she didn’t fit with the traditional ideals of who and what a female should be.”

Despite Joe’s obvious enthusiasm for Alex’s company, their road to HEA hit some major bumps along the way. And I just loved it. I loved the drama, the unpredictability. I didn’t even mind it too much when these characters just became oblivious to logic because their feelings were involved. And there were a lot of FEELINGS…from Joe’s guilt to Alex’s jealousy to mine. Yes, mine. I wanted to step into the book and hit them both upside in the head. I felt like doing that sometimes. But ugh, I love their characters that it felt natural for me to root for them even though they annoyed me at one point because it was all worth it in the end.

My only teeny-tiny complaint is that Joe should have made the big gesture near the end!!! Although I understood where he’s coming from but still…

Anyway, that’s just a very minor blip to an another enjoyable read. I’m looking forward to more Dive Bar shenanigans in the future especially with Eric. Also, can we have a Pat and Nell novella? I really want to know more about them. We only get to see their story through other characters’ eyes. I want them to tell it themselves.

“No more hiding or denying, sticking to the sidelines of life. It was my time to step forward and be brave. When it came to Joe Collins, I was more than ready to say yes.”

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/

 

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