Friday, December 19, 2014

Review: The Heart of Christmas

The Heart of Christmas (Whiskey Creek - Book 7) by Brenda Novak

Publication Date: 10/28/2014
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: Mira
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
ISBN-100778316394
ISBN-13978-0778316398

(Received for an honest review from Harlequin Mira)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, itunes

Brenda Novak on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Whiskey Creek

0.5. When We Touch
1. When Lightening Strikes
2. When Snow Falls
3. When Summer Comes
4. Home to Whiskey Creek
5. Take Me Home for Christmas
6. Come Home to Me
7. The Heart of Christmas

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, The Heart of Christmas, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

Just call her Christmas Eve… 

Eve Harmon has always enjoyed Christmas, but this year it reminds her of everything she doesn't have. Almost all her friends are married now, and that's what Eve wants, too. Love. A husband and kids of her own. But the B and B she manages, and even Whiskey Creek, the small Gold Country town where she was born and raised, suddenly seem…confining. 

Eve's worried that her future will simply be a reflection of her past. There's no one in the area she could even imagine as a husband—until a handsome stranger comes to town. Eve's definitely attracted to him, and he seems to have the same reaction to her. But his darkly mysterious past could ruin Eve's happily ever after—just when it finally seems within reach. And just when she's counting on the best Christmas of her life!


Thoughts:

The Heart of Christmas is the seventh book in Brenda Novak's Whiskey Creek series and it arrives in time for Christmas. This is a great story of love and the Christmas Spirit. Novak has a knack for writing her stories with a bit of an edge to them and this one certainly has that. Reader's who are fans of the series, won't want to miss it. If it's your first in the series, don't worry, you'll be dropping by your favorite bookstore for the rest in short order.

What I liked:

I love a good Christmas romance and The Heart of Christmas provided that for me. I have to admit this one of the first Brenda Novak books I have read. But after this one, I am most definitely a fan. Novak's Whiskey Creek series has been very popular and when I was looking for good Christmas reads I couldn't resist it even though I hadn't read the other books in the series. Something I shall be fixing very soon. I didn't have a huge amount of trouble coming in late, but I did find myself wanting to know more about the different characters that showed up in this one. I know that several of them have already had their stories and I can't wait to see how it all goes into this one. 

Eve is the manager of Little Mary's Bed and Breakfast in Whiskey Creek and she's having a bit of a hard time with her 35th birthday. Too much sadness and too much alcohol ends up with Eve in bed with an unknown man. But this one night stand is anything but. Eve and her mystery man have some real attraction. But there are tons of secrets standing in their way. I loved the way that Novak gives this story a good edge. The mysterious man turns out to be someone reader's might remember from some of Novak's previous writing. It was great to see Rex here and I think it gave the direction of this series some punch to it. I look forward to seeing where Novak takes it.

Jared, Brent, Rex... this guy has a ton of names and a ton of secrets. He made some bad choices and now he's in a real mess. His attraction to Eve is forceful, and intense and I loved the way Novak makes it seem like they just can't stay away from each other. That's the kind of attraction reader's wish they could have in their own lives. That raw, passionate experience we all crave. It's a shame that doesn't happen too often in real life, but Novak makes you believe it can.

I liked all of the secondary characters that I got to meet in this book as well. Ted seems like a bit of a stinker she trifled with Eve's feelings in the past, but he does come through and helps her and Rex out when they really need him in this one. There are plenty of other characters who are keeping secrets of their own, like Cheyenne. Not sure where that's going but it's bound to be a great addition to the series, when it all comes out. Whiskey Creek just has all kinds of interesting avenues to pursue. I really thought Novak had it all together with these characters. Rex and Eve were amazing, but there's a lot more going on in this little town than meets the eye.

Bottom Line:

I can't wait to go out and read the rest of these books. Whiskey Creek reads like a perfect little town but there is a bit of mystery in just about everyone's relationships and pasts. I liked the angle of finding out who killed Little Mary as well as the mysteriousness surrounding Rex and what he was really trying to protect Eve from. The steamy parts were very enjoyable and that intense connection between the hero and heroine made for some serious tension. I loved this one and the Christmas setting just made it all the better.

The Heart of Christmas is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!





About the Author:


New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has penned over 45 novels. A two-time Rita nominee, she's won The National Reader's Choice, The Bookseller's Best, The Bookbuyer's Best and many other awards. She runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com. To date, she’s raised over $2 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.

Review and Giveaway: The Good Chase

The Good Chase (Highland Games - Book 2) by Hanna Martine

Publication Date: 12/02/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425267520
ISBN-13: 978-0425267523

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Sensation)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, itunes

Hanna Martine on the WEB: websitetwitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Highland Games

1. Long Shot
1.5. Play For Me
2. The Good Chase

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.





Excerpt from, The Good Chase, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

The second in the Highland Games series, following Long Shot

Gleann, New Hampshire’s annual highland games always deliver the best of Scottish culture—rowdiness, rugby, whiskey, and unexpected romance…

Even though Shea Montgomery’s swanky bar and distinguished palate have made her a highly regarded whiskey connoisseur, she’s happiest bringing her favorite spirit to various highland games around New England. Her demanding ex made her wary of men obsessed with money and status, and she’s now more comfortable in the country than in the city. Still, when a gorgeous rugby player straight from Wall Street barrels into her whiskey tent, she’s tempted to change her mind…

J.P. Byrne went from poor beginnings to international high roller by using his charisma and wit, and holding fast to his dreams. A strong, independent woman like Shea is exactly what he’s looking for, only he has no idea how to prove he’s more than his three-piece suits—especially when he’s spent years doing just the opposite.

But as Shea and Byrne battle old demons, they discover together that the best remedy for past pain is a good, stiff shot of present pleasure…


Thoughts:

Hanna Martine does a great job with the second book in the Highland Games series, The Good Chase. Martine brings whiskey and rugby to the forefront in this contemporary romance about two people who have overcome a lot to get to where they are. Martine uses a bit of a Highland theme to get the ball rolling with this one and reader's who love all things Scottish will find this one irresistible. Martine's use of the whiskey industry in the story was ingenious and makes for a really interesting read.

What I liked:

I haven't read the first book in this series, Long Shot, but I was really intrigued with The Good Chase. Being of Scottish decent probably had something to do with that. I love stories that portray aspects of the Scottish people and homeland. The Highland Games is something synonymous with the Scotland and I was interested to see how Martine handled it. Usually, the any Highland Games held in America is similar but not exactly like the real thing. I thought Martine had her facts straight and she made the games seem like a place any reader would want to visit. As well as Shea's whiskey tasting tent.

Shea's profession was certainly not what I expected. I loved it though. The background on the whiskey industry was interesting and full of unique facts. It added a certain finesse to the story. It cost quite a pretty penny to be able to taste the fine whiskey that Shea was providing and she made it a great experience for those who got the opportunity. I've never seen a whiskey tasting at any Highland Games I have been too, but I think it would make an amazing addition. Scotch whiskey, yummy!

I liked Shea as a character as well. She has started a new life for herself after a marriage to a controlling wealthy man, who didn't see her potential. I liked the fact that she took a chance and did something she loved. She was a self made woman, so to speak and so was the hero, J.P. Byrne. He also came from humble beginnings and now had become a banker with enough money to help his impoverished family, but he didn't understand why they wouldn't take his help. His story was compelling and interesting.

The chemistry between Shea and Byrne was electric. They had met before in the first book in the series, but the encounter didn't go anywhere. Shea has some strict rules when it comes to dating and Byrne had to take a chance that he might be the man to help her lower her barriers. He was persistent but not overbearing in his pursuit of Shea. He let chance encounters and situations dictate the pace and it worked for him. I was glad he didn't pressure her, that would probably have been the end of it considering her past.

It gets a bit hot and steamy now and then, but Martine works that aspect of Shea and Byrne's relationship right into the story. It felt natural and flowed easily. You might need a good cold drink and a fan, because, these two are smoking hot together. Martine writes these types of scenes very well. She is descriptive without being crass and the reader will enjoy the balance between sexual and emotional moments.

Bottom Line:

I definitely want to go back and read the first book in this series. I really enjoyed The Good Chase and thought Martine did a great job with her knowledge of the Highland Games and the whiskey industry. It gave the book a high end kind of feel, but didn't seem pretentious. I liked the characters a lot and found several secondary characters that I hope enter the forefront in new books in the series.

The Good Chase is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:


Hanna Martine has loved stories—particularly the romantic kind—since she was very young. She spent a decade working in an office, but has since dedicated herself to writing. She's the author of the Highland Games contemporary romance series, including Long Shot and The Good Chase, and the Elementals paranormal romance series, including Liquid LiesA Taste of Ice, and Drowning in Fire.

Hanna has traveled to many wonderful places around the world, including the haunted Scottish castle in which she got married. Though she lives outside Chicago with her family, her heart will always belong to Australia.



Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of The Good Chase by Hanna Martine.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, January 2nd.

1. Please leave a comment. Ever been to a Highland Games event or festival?

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review: Doghouse

Doghouse (Gin and Tonic Mystery - Book 3) by L.A. Kornetsky

Publication Date: 07/22/2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Imprint: Pocket Books
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 278
ISBN-101476750041
ISBN-13978-1476750040

(Received for an honest review from Pocket Books)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, itunes

L.A Kornetsky on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Gin & Tonic Mysteries

1. Collared
2. Fixed
3. Doghouse

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, Doghouse, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:

In the third novel in the “entertaining” (Library Journal) Gin & Tonic mystery series, the stakes are raised when Ginny Mallard and Teddy Tonica stumble on an underground dog fighting ring with bloody consequences.

Even though she’s unlicensed as an investigator, the infamously nosy Ginny Mallard has begun to make a name for herself as an unofficial champion of the tongue-tied. When a mysterious stranger comes to her with landlord trouble, she convinces her bartender friend Teddy Tonica to help her once more. Soon, they realize they might have got themselves tied up in an underground dogfighting ring. With the help of Ginny’s pet shar-pei puppy and Tonica’s tabby cat, they have to figure out what’s going on before someone else gets hurt. Will twelve legs really be better than four?


Thoughts:

Doghouse is the third book in L.A. Kornetsky's Gin & Tonic series. Reader's looking for a great mystery and a series featuring animals, will find this a very good place to start. Kornetsky's investigative duo, Ginny and Teddy find themselves looking into a possible dog fighting ring at the request of a friend and co-worker at Mary's bar. But everything isn't what it seems and the author does a fantastic job keeping the reader off track until the very end.

What I liked:

This was my first book in the Gin & Tonic series. I didn't have any trouble at all falling into the story line for this novel. It can easily be read as a standalone even though it is book three in the series. I guarantee you'll be going back to read the rest once you dive into this one. Kornetsky does a great job of filling the reader in on what has gone on before, how Ginny and Teddy started working together and how their furry friends are involved.

This cozy series has a really unique feel to it. Ginny is not a licensed investigator as are many of the sleuths in the cozy genre, but she has put her shingle out so to speak and is willing to try to help as many people as she can. I liked her tenacity and her tough as nails attitude. But she wasn't foolhardy. She and Teddy both seemed to understand the risks of what they were doing and knew how to protect themselves while still getting the answers they needed. I liked that purposeful kind of approach.

Teddy is the manager of a local bar named Mary's in Seattle and I loved the atmosphere created by Kornetsky. The setting was enjoyable and made me want to learn more about these characters and the city of Seattle itself. There were so many little things that seemed to give off a kind of attitude. Laid back, but alert. It didn't feel anything like other cozies I have read and I found that a good thing. It was refreshing and new for this genre.

There was a feeling of urgency about the mystery, and the details could have been a bit gruesome but Kornetsky kept it light. Dogfighting or any kind of activity that would harm an animal is something that really gets under my skin. I thought Kornetsky handled the subject with a deft hand. She didn't minimize the issue, she explored it without giving in to the brutality of it, which I think a lot of readers will appreciate. It's a tough subject.

I thought the relationship that Kornetsky had developed between Ginny and Teddy was perfect. The worked well together and played off each others strengths and weaknesses. I liked the snarky comments and teasing, but it didn't seem to have too much sexual tension behind it. These two were obviously good friends despite the fact that Tony didn't really want to be Ginny's sidekick. But he did want to help out a friend. They made a great duo!

The mystery itself was intense and took some pretty big twists and turns. I actually found the villain a very interesting character and I hope he appears again in future books in the series. He have a devil may care attitude but he was smart and devious. That made him a lot of fun to try to figure out. I thought Kornetsky wrapped everything up, but she didn't use a predictable pattern. That was a good thing and made this one a really good read.

Bottom Line:

If you haven't given this series a try yet, I would definitely recommend it. It may be a bit different from your average cozy but in this case that's a good thing. Kornetsky gives readers strong characters, some great pet interaction. I loved Penny and Georgie and reading their thoughts and watching them investigate right along with the hero and heroine. A great overall read that will have you rounding up the others in the series in no time!

Doghouse is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!





About the Author:


L.A. Kornetsky is an amateur chef, oenophile, and cat-servant. She lives in New York City and also writes fantasy under the name Laura Anne Gilman.

Review: Jason

Jason (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter - Book 23) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Publication Date: 12/02/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Jove
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Pages: 304
ISBN-100515156078
ISBN-13978-0515156072

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Jove)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, itunes

Laurell K. Hamilton on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter

  1. Guilty Pleasures
  2. The Laughing Corpse
  3. Circus of the Damned
  4. The Lunatic Cafe
  5. Bloody Bones
  6. The Killing Dance
  7. Burnt Offerings
  8. Blue Moon
  9. Obsidian Butterfly
10. Narcissus in Chains
11. Cerulean Sins
12. Incubus Dreams
13. Micah
14. Danse Macabre
15. The Harlequin
16. Blood Noir
17. Skin Trade
18. Flirt
19. Bullet
20. Hit List
20.5. Beauty
21. Kiss the Dead
22. Affliction
22.5. Dancing
23. Jason

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, Jason, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:

"Enjoying pain with your pleasure is something you either get, or you don't. If you get it, then you don't really need it explained, because you know how good it feels, and if you don't get it then no amount of talking is going to convince you it makes sense."

But sometimes you have to explain the unexplainable, especially if the love of your life needs to understand, or she'll leave you. Jason Schuyler is one of Anita Blake's best friends and favorite werewolves, with benefits. J.J. is his lady love, an old flame from childhood who dances at one of the top ballet companies in New York. She's accomplished, beautiful, and she's crazy about him, too. Neither of them wants to be monogamous, so what could go wrong?

J.J. is enthusiastically bisexual, with an emphasis on the female side of things. She plans to keep sleeping with women, because Jason can't meet that need, just like she can't meet Jason's need for rough sex and bondage. J.J. doesn't understand why Jason isn’t content to go elsewhere for a need she can’t fulfil, so Jason asks Anita to help him explain.

Anita is having her own relationship growing pains with her only female lover ever, Jade. Jason suggests that J.J. might be able to help Anita with her girl problem, while she helps him with his kinky explanations. With some encouragement from a few other lovers in Anita's life she reluctantly agrees, and J. J. makes plans to fly into town for an experience that none of them will ever forget
.

Thoughts:

Laurell K. Hamilton brings readers a short novella from the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, Jason. This is a novella that essentially lets readers see inside the head of a succubus. It's full of everything sexual. From talks at the breakfast table to full on poly-amorous adventures. Anita is somewhat into BDSM and she's exploring the bi-sexual side of things. Jason, a friend and lover is having an issue with love of his life and he needs Anita to help him work it out, in more ways than one.

I have read several of the books in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, and I've liked them all. The first few books in the series are really enjoyable reads for anyone interested the paranormal. The premise however has changed over the course of the series and Anita has undergone a lot of character growth and has become a lot more sexual in nature, as have the books. The latest novella in the series, Jason continues to explore Anita's sexuality and preferences. Some readers are going to enjoy that. Hamilton has a huge following with this series and in part the sexual content is a big draw. But some readers are going to find it more of the same old thing.

Anita is a succubus and as such I expect the books to carry a high concentration of sexuality. You can't really write a succubus character and not have that. That's what it all about. It's central to that type of paranormal character. So, I wasn't surprised at the overall sexiness of this particular story. But there were a few things that didn't quite match up to what I generally expect from this author. 

Usually, Hamilton gives readers the strong sexual stuff, but she also gives them another avenue to explore, like a mystery of some type or even some zombie related issues for Anita to solve. Not this time. Perhaps it was the shorter format or maybe Hamilton just wanted to write a story that was completely focused on Anita's sexuality. Whatever the reason, there isn't a whole lot other than sex going on in this novella. It does help the reader see into Anita's psyche where it comes to sexuality but that's about it.

Anita is a lot of things when it comes to sex. She has tons of sexual partners, she likes it rough, she is exploring both men and women and she has some BDSM tendencies. That'a pretty hard sell in some ways, but she is a succubus so I guess that is supposed to explain it all. I just felt like I needed a little more reason to believe that one person could be all those things. 

I read erotica and though this book doesn't go that far, I don't think I've ever read a character, succubus or otherwise that is quite as active as Anita in this book and in the last several books in the series. I feel a little let down by that for some reason. I think I would have liked it better had she settled into one of those sexual activities and not all at the same time. Then Hamilton could have honed in on what Anita needed sexually and explored that in a lot greater detail. This novella just felt a little too full of too many different things, sexually speaking.

The sex scenes were, well sexual. Anita has some pretty amazing men in her life and now she's exploring women. I wanted to enjoy the sex scenes and I had a hard time with that because, Hamilton doesn't really call anything what it really is. Yep, there is a bit of terminology issue that I find kind of funny. I understand the need to use a different word for some things, to try to make it sound new and refreshing, but sometimes I want to hear those words. I want to know exactly what this character is doing, where he or she is doing it, and why it felt good to do it that way... LOL. I'm not talking dirty, nasty, descriptions, but a little less "going" and a little more "coming" if you know what I mean would have served this book well.

Bottom Line:

If you are a fan of the series and have read every book, than I expect you'll probably read this one as well. If you have possibly had some issues with the last few books in the series, this is probably a little more of the same. I wanted more plot, I wanted one aspect of Anita's sexuality to explore and I honestly wanted better sexual language. More correct terminology and less trying to say something without really saying the word. The F-word can explain a lot, but there are a lot of other words that were needed here, that reader's just didn't get. This one just wasn't my cup of tea, but it might be yours!

Jason is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 3 out of 5 apples from my book bag!





About the Author:


Laurell K. Hamilton is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of two series that mix mystery, fantasy, magic, horror and romance. Her Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter novels from Berkley Books began with GUILTY PLEASURES (now a hugely successful graphic novel from Marvel - the first sexy paranormal comic ever!) and continues with the SKIN TRADE, number seventeen in the series, in which Anita's complex personal and professional relationships with a master vampire and an alpha werewolf continue to evolve. There are now more than 6 million copies of Anita in print worldwide, in 16 languages. Hamilton's Ballantine series features Fey princess and private investigator, Merry Gentry and there are now six novels exceeding one million copies in print. Divine Misdemeanors, the eighth in the series will debut October 29, 2009. She lives in St. Louis County Missouri with her husband Jonathon Green, daughter, one pug dog and one boxer/pug dog.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winner's Post

It's time for another winner's post!

I feel like I need to reiterate a few things about signing up for giveaways.

Please make sure you fill out the form ONE time. If you fill out the form several times or hit submit several times all other entries other than the original will be disallowed. Everybody gets one shot! 

Also, please make sure that you are leaving your comments on the original post and NOT on the form.

Thanks so much to everyone for participating. Winners will be notified this evening and publishers in the morning. 

And now for the good stuff:

A High End Finish by Kate Carlisle

Winner: Annette N.






Edge of Betrayal by Shannon K. Butcher

Winner: Anita Yancey






While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell 

Winner: Karen B.





Plagued by Quilt by Molly MacRae

Winner: Heidi Peterson






I Saw Her Standing There by Marie Force

Winner: Pat Lieberman





Breaking Out by Lydia Michaels

Winner: bn100






Romancing the Billionaire by Jessica Clare

Winner: Helen Livermore





Not Until You by Roni Loren

Winner: Danielle Meek






On Borrowed Time by Jenn MacKinlay

Winner: Jeanette Green






Sunflower Lane by Jill Gregory

Winner: Lisa Garrett






What a Woman Gets by Judi Fennell

Winner: Julia Holden  (holdenj)






When We Met by A.L. Jackson, Molly MacAdams, Tiffany King and Christina Lee

Winner: Linda Kish




The Tiger Queens by Stephanie Thornton

Winner: Texas Book Lover





Snow White Red Handed by Maia Chance

Winner: Dotty Kelley

Review: Snow Angel Cove

Snow Angel Cove (Haven Point - Book 1) by RaeAnne Thayne

Publication Date: 10/28/2014
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: Harlequin HQN
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
ISBN-100373779070
ISBN-13978-0373779079

(Received for an honest review from Harlequin HQN)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, itunes

RaeAnne Thayne on the WEB: websitetwitter, facebook, goodreads

Excerpt from, Snow Angel Cove, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne welcomes you to Haven Point, a small town full of big surprises that are both merry and bright 

Nothing short of a miracle can restore Eliza Hayward's Christmas cheer. The job she pinned her dreams on has gone up in smoke—literally—and now she's stuck in an unfamiliar, if breathtaking, small town. Precariously close to being destitute, Eliza needs a hero, but she's not expecting one who almost runs her down with his car! 

Rescuing Eliza is pure instinct for tech genius Aidan Caine. At first, putting the renovation of his lakeside guest lodge in Eliza's hands assuages his guilt—until he sees how quickly he could fall for her. Having focused solely on his business for years, he never knew what his life was missing before Eliza, but now he's willing to risk his heart on a yuletide romance that could lead to forever.


Thoughts:

Eliza Haywood's dreams of a fresh start for Christmas go tragically astray in this holiday romance from RaeAnne Thayne. Snow Angel Cove is the first book in Thayne's Haven Point contemporary romance series and is an off shoot of her highly successful Hope's Crossing series. Fans of Thayne's writing will love the Christmas setting in the Idaho mountains and the possibility of falling in love with a billionaire. Thayne does an amazing job with characterization and giving readers a heartfelt and beautiful story. This is the perfect book to read beside the fire, with the Christmas lights twinkling and the hot chocolate nearby. A great Christmas romance!

What I liked:

When I was deciding on which Christmas books I wanted to review this year, the cover of Snow Angel Cove just seemed to beckon to me. It was very picturesque and I wanted to know more about it. The blurb on the back made me wonder if Christmas wishes do come true, what with the hero being a billionaire and all, but there was a lot more to this story than I expected. This was my first book by Thayne and I'm glad I picked this one. It was the perfect Christmas read and had me hooked in no time. 

Though this is an off shoot of the Hope's Crossing series, it is not necessary to read that series before this one. I had no trouble at all getting into the story and the visits from characters in the Hope's Crossing series only made me want to read about them as well. Thayne does such an amazing job with the characters in Snow Angel Cove. There were times when I just wanted to reach out and hug them. This was a very straight forward romance. The author didn't put up too many obstacles in the paths of Eliza and Aidan. She concentrated more on making them characters that readers would fall in love with and the town of Haven Point was simply magical.

Eliza Haywood is looking to start over in Haven Point but her hopes and dreams for the future end abruptly when the hotel she is going to manage burns to the ground. To make matters worse there is no where for Eliza and her daughter to go and Christmas is right around the corner. And unfortunately, so is Aidan Caine's car. When Aidan mistakenly hits Eliza with his car, he is determined to make it up to her and Maddie. Thayne gives readers three amazing characters here and a story that will make the heart of the reader grow three sizes! Just a lovely story!

The fact that Aidan was a billionaire did factor into the story but it wasn't what made the story special. The way this tech wizard kept Christmas was fun and endearing. I loved Aidan as the hero here, he was tender and caring and he realized that every day should be spent like it could be your last. Eliza was one strong lady and she'd been through a lot it was time her to get a win, and this was a big one. Little Maddie was a dear and readers will fall in love with her from the first mention of her. She was the true angel of Snow Angel Cove that Christmas. Thayne's characterizations were not especially deep and philosophical, but they were perfect for the season!

Bottom Line:

If you haven't read anything by RaeAnne Thayne, you really should. She puts me in the mind of author's like Debbie Macomber and Sherryl Woods. Snow Angel Cove was romantic and sweet and pulled all of the heart strings that reader's want pulled this time of year. Christmas is a special time and this book showed the spirit of it in so many ways. A simply magical Christmas read!

Snow Angel Cove is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!





About the Author:


New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including four RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews magazine. RaeAnne loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.raeannethayne.com.

Review and Giveaway: Keeper of the Castle

Keeper of the Castle (Haunted Home Renovation - Book 5) by Juliet Blackwell

Publication Date: 12/02/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Obsidian Mystery
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 0451465806
ISBN-13: 978-0451465801

(Received for an honest review from Obsidian Mystery)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, itunes

Juliet Blackwell on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Haunted Home Renovation Mysteries

1. If Walls Could Talk
2. Dead Bolt
3. Murder on the House
4. Home for the Haunting
5. Keeper of the Castle

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, Keeper of the Castle, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

In the latest Haunted Home Renovation mystery from New York Times bestselling author Juliet Blackwell, San Francisco contractorand reluctant ghostbusterMel Turner gets hired for a job that's to die for.

Lately, Mel has been worried about finding enough historic renovation work to pay the bills. But while Turner Construction is in need of a project, Mel’s boyfriend, Graham, has his hands full managing the reconstruction of an ancient building shipped over from Scotland.
 
With the job plagued by rumors that the stones are cursed, Graham brings in Mel to look for paranormal activity. And while the ghost of a charming Scottish clansman does seem to be hanging around the site, the real shock comes when they stumble upon a body.
 
When the original construction crew starts running scared, Mel brings in her team to finish the job. Now all she has to do is nail down the killer, and put the spirits to rest, before anyone else winds up heading for the highlands…


Thoughts:

There are not one, but two ghosts in Juliet Blackwell's latest Haunted Home Renovation book, Keeper of the Castle. This one has a Highland theme, as well as, a few ghostly twists and plenty of construction and renovation tips. Reader's who are looking for something a little on the spooky side will love Mel's adventure with the reconstruction of a Scottish monastery and her continuing work with laying ghosts to rest. Blackwell once again shows great care with her character development and interesting plot ideas. A must read paranormal cozy!

What I liked:

Juliet Blackwell always seems to come up with something usual for each of her books in this series. She has the ability to think outside the box with each story and come up with something original and different. That's a great quality for any writer, but I think it's especially important to those who write mysteries. You have to have that something that sets your book apart from the rest of the pack. This time it's a Highland twist that gives Keeper of the Castle it's unique foundation. 

Graham asks Mel to take a look at a project he is working on. He is a green consultant for a wealthy client who is reconstructing a Scottish monastery, stone by stone, in a new American location. Unfortunately, there are a few issues. The building inspector is trying just about everything he can think of to shut down the project and there are a couple of ghosts haunting the chapel.

This sounds like it's right up Mel's alley, especially after said building inspector ends up dead and Mel is asked to complete the project. Blackwell doesn't take long to draw the reader into the background and history of the monastery and what seems to be bothering the Highland ghosts. I loved the Scottish theme and thought Blackwell did a great job executing it. The mystery involving the inspector's death was interesting, but sort of took a back seat to the ghostly drama going on.

Bottom Line:


Mel starts to unravel what is going on with both the murder and the ghosts and still has time for her family, friends and Graham. There was a nice balance to the book, but it did lean a little toward the ghostly goings on. I felt like it needed a little more mystery and a little less history, but still enjoyed it a lot. Readers who want a little something unique will appreciate Blackwell's attention to detail with the Scottish aspects of the book and Mel once again shows of her great knowledge of construction. A good overall read.

Keeper of the Castle is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!



About the Author:


Juliet Blackwell is the pseudonym for the New York Times bestselling mystery author who also writes the Witchcraft Mystery series and, together with her sister, wrote the Art Lover’s Mystery series as Hailey Lind. The first in that series, Feint of Art, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. As owner of her own faux-finish and design studio, the author has spent many days and nights on construction sites renovating beautiful historic homes throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. She currently resides in a happily haunted house in Oakland, California.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Keeper of the Castle by Juliet Blackwell.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, December 31st.

1. Please leave a comment. Ever done any home renovation projects? What kind? How did they turn out?

2. Please fill out the FORM.