Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Spotlight: When I Close My Eyes

When I Close My Eyes by Elizabeth Musser

Publication Date: 11/05/2019
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Imprint: Bethany House
Genre: Christian Fiction
Pages: 272
ISBN-13978-0593099735



Elizabeth Musser on the Web: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads

Excerpt from  When I Close My Eyes courtesy of Amazon’s Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

Could she ever share the secret of The Awful Year?
 
There is one story that novelist Josephine Bourdillon shirked from writing. And now she may never have a chance. Trapped in her memories, she lies in a coma.

The man who put her there is just as paralyzed. Former soldier Henry Hughes failed to complete the kill. What's more: he never received full payment--funds that would ensure surgery for his son. 

As detectives investigate disturbing fan letters, a young but not-so-naïve Paige Bourdillon turns to her mother's turbulent past for answers. Could The Awful Year be worse than the one they're living now?
 
Set against the flaming hills of North Carolina and the peaceful shores of the Mediterranean Sea, When I Close My Eyes tells the story of two families struggling with dysfunction and finding that love is stronger than Anything.

When I Close My Eyes is available now from your favorite bookseller


About the author:

Elizabeth Musser, an Atlanta native, lives and works with her husband in southern France. She is the author of ten novels, including the critically acclaimed The Swan House. Visit Elizabeth's website at 
www.elizabethmusser.com

Review: Someone to Remember

Someone to Remember (Wescott - Book 7) by Mary Balogh 

Publication Date: 11/05/2019
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Imprint: Berkley
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: :272
ISBN-13978-0593099735

(Received for an honest review from Berkley)


Mary Balogh on the Web: WebsiteFacebookGoodreads


Cover Art:




Excerpt from Someone to Remember courtesy of Amazon’s Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

It’s never too late to fall in love in this enchanting new story, a novella in the Westcott series from New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh.

Matilda Westcott has spent her life tending to the needs of her mother, the Dowager Countess of Riverdale, never questioning the web of solitude she has spun herself. To Matilda, who considers herself an aging spinster daughter, marriage is laughable—love is a game for the young, after all. But her quiet, ordered life unravels when a dashing gentleman from her past reappears, threatening to charm his way into her heart yet again.

Charles Sawyer, Viscount Dirkson, does not expect to face Matilda Westcott thirty-six years after their failed romance. Moreover, he does not expect decades-old feelings to emerge at the very sight of her. When encountering Matilda at a dinner hosted by the Earl of Riverdale, he finds himself as fascinated by her as he was the first day they met, and wonders whether, after all these years, they have a chance at happiness together. Charles is determined to crack the hard exterior Matilda has built up.

Thoughts:

There has certainly been a bit of controversy with Mary Balogh’s latest addition to the Wescott series, Someone to Remember. I won’t focus too much on that, but I will make a few comments later in the review. This is a lovely story of second chance love with an older couple that I thought was beautifully written and necessary to those readers who enjoy the entire Westcott family. We just can’t leave out, Aunt Matilda! 

What I liked:

Matilda Westcott has always done the right thing. She’s taken care of her mother stoically and supported her family unfailingly. Readers have watched her character develop over the course of the first six books in the Westcott series. In early books she comes across as a bit fussy, maybe even a little rigid. But we didn’t know much about her past or how her circumstances landed her where she was. I thought Balogh did a great job of tantalizing the reader with possibilities in the last book Someone to Love where Matilda is reunited with an old love. I’m very happy that she decided to give Matilda a story in Someone to Remember. She brings a secondary character to the forefront so that readers can see a new side to not only Matilda but to the way her family sees her.

The main couple Matilda and Charles are not your typical hero and heroine. At the ripe age of 56, Matilda once again finds love. I thought this was such a beautiful story about love during a later stage in life. Balogh shows their tempestuous love affair from years past and then shows the changes that have occurred to the couple over time. But the one thing that remains is love. 

Charles and Matilda’s love story is told in about ten chapters and each one shows great care and attention to detail. Novella’s are not meant to be long. The stories they tell don’t require as much development as a full length novel. In this case readers already know Matilda well. Balogh is an excellent writer of this historical period and I’m never disappointed in her writing.

What I didn’t:

Charles may have needed a bit more attention. Though readers of the series have had an ongoing relationship with Matilda, Charles is relatively new and therefore exciting. As reader I want to know more about him. Why he was so devilish in his youth. Why he chose one path in the aftermath of love and Matilda chose another. We learn a lot in this quick trip to the Westcott world but I always want more! LoL 😂 

The big controversy involving this book is pretty simple to understand and really could have been avoided in a couple of ways. First, I would always encourage readers to look at the information provided by the book seller you purchase from. Read the publication details. Read the reviews but also take them with a grain of salt because they are subjective. It was clearly noted that this story was a novella. It was never meant to be a full length novel. 

Secondly, the publisher should have corrected the page length number to reflect the number of pages in the actual story and not in the story plus excerpts from the previous books. That was clearly a mistake in hindsight.  Also, the publication details nor the description of the book notes that approximately a third of the length is excerpts. That is a lot. And I’m sure some readers did not feel like they got their money’s worth.

Bottom Line:

Controversy or no controversy this is a very good novella. As a reader of this series I wanted Matilda’s story. I wanted her happy ever after. Balogh gave me a well developed character that I already knew and loved and just told me another story about her. I didn’t need the full length though more time with this family is always appreciated.  I do think Balogh was a bit short changed on how this book was marketed but that is certainly not a black mark on her writing. Read it! It’s good!

Someone To Remember is available now from your favorite bookseller

I’m giving this book 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag




About the author:


Mary Balogh has written more than one hundred historical novels and novellas, more than thirty of which have been New York Times bestsellers. They include the Bedwyn saga, the Simply quartet, the Huxtable quintet, the seven-part Survivors' Club series, and the Westcott series.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Spotlight: The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby

The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby (Sweetheart Ranch - Book 3) by Cathy McDavid


Publication Date: 11/01/2019
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: Harlequin Heartwarming
Genre: Contemporary Western Romance
Pages:  384
ISBN-13 978-1335510891



Cathy McDavid on the Web: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads

Books in the series:

Cover Art:




Excerpt from The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby courtesy of Amazon’s Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

She gifted him with a daughter

He stunned her with the truth

When Tanner Bridwell discovers he’s a father, he gains some much needed hope. A year ago, Tanner lost his livelihood as a champion bull rider, and—more important—Jewel Saunders, the love of his life. Now this cowboy wants to do right by his family. But first he must reveal a stunning secret that will send Jewel and his beloved daughter either packing…or into his arms forever!


The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby is available now from your favorite bookseller


About the author:

New York Times bestselling author Cathy McDavid has been happily penning contemporary westerns for Harlequin since 2006. Every day, she gets to write about handsome cowboys riding the range or busting a bronc.It's a tough job, but she's willing to make the sacrifice. Cathy shares her Arizona home with her own real life sweetheart and a trio of quirky pets. Her grown twins have left to embark on lives of their own, and she couldn't be prouder of their accomplishments.

Review: Awaken the Dragon

Awaken the Dragon (Legion - Book 1) by A.C. Arthur


Publication Date: 11/04/2019
Publisher: Harliquin
Imprint: Carina Press
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 227 (print)
ASINB07SJ7D5LW

(Received for an honest review from Carina Press)


A.C. Arthur on the Web: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads

Excerpt from Awaken the Dragon courtesy of Amazon’s Look Inside features

Synopsis:

He’s sworn to protect the very entity she was born to kill…

Next in line for the Drakon throne, Theo Masters is the most powerful half human, half dragon in the world. Royal power is the last thing he wants, however. He lives as a human and runs the Legion Security Company. But his new client—a mysterious, beautiful human from a small African village—and the unknown danger she faces may forever change the quiet life that he’s chosen.

Shola N’Gara exists to kill the dark spirit that is attempting to demolish her people. It’s her purpose and her destiny. The gorgeous protector who taunts her with his sexy voice and body is not—especially after he shifts into a magnificent black dragon with turquoise eyes.

A rise in demon activity and the brutal murders Theo’s agents have been reporting start to add up. Someone is making a play, and it’s big enough to change the course of the world as they know it. Now Shola must choose between her destiny and her heart. And Theo must decide if standing by the woman he’s fallen in love with is worth facing his father in a battle to the death.

Thoughts:

A.C. Arthur is another new author for me. I’m always looking for good ones when it comes to the paranormal romance sub genre. This lady has a good track record with another shifter series so I decided to start at the beginning with first book in her new Legion series, Awaken the Dragon. This one has lots of action, several different paranormal characters and a very strong lead couple. It’s a good start to the series. We will see where this one goes.

What I liked:

Theo is a Drakon.... never heard of that before? Me either. That’s half dragon, half human. He lives as a human and has his own security business. He is also next in line for the Drakon throne which gives him even more power. Theo is a total alpha male. He’s strong, he’s determined and formidable. Oftentimes with paranormal romance you get a powerful hero but the heroine isn’t quite up to the challenge. Not in this book! Arthur really comes through by giving Theo a love interest that is in every way his equal. This bad boy deserved a great leading lady. 

In the course of his daily business, Theo and his agents are tasked with protecting, Shola N’Gara of the river tribe. Shola has a specific destiny. She may not be a black dragon with gorgeous turquoise eyes like Theo but she is every bit as dangerous. I loved her spirit and her take no crap attitude. She could stand toe to toe with any of those dragons. I like a heroine who knows her own mind and can stand with her hero no matter what comes against them.

The paranormal aspect of the series was interesting and well developed. You had dragons, vampires, demigods and other assorted paranormal characters. Shifters of any kind are my favorite but dragon shifters were really cool in this world. The world itself was teeming with mystery. 

There was a bit of mystery and tons of action in this one. It was a fast paced ride and didn’t slow down much. Pitting Theo against his father provides some serious conflict. Making the choice between your family and the person you love is tough no matter what the reason is or who is in the right. I thought the author did a great job with that part of the story.

What I didn’t:

The reader is dropped right into this world from the first page of the book. There isn’t a lot of backstory in the beginning and I feel like some readers may be a little overwhelmed. If you stick with it, it does get better and explains more. If you’re new to the sub genre it might not be your best choice to start out with primarily because first impressions are everything when you are trying to hook a reader.

Bottom Line:

This was a good first book. The lead couple was great and the side characters were really interesting. I’m sure we will see more of them as the series continues. I liked the Drakon” half human, half dragon concept. I’ll definitely be reading book two.

Awaken the Dragon is available now from your favorite bookseller

I’m giving this book 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag




About the author:


For all the latest news on A.C. Arthur books, giveaways, appearances and discussions Like A.C. Arthur's Book Lounge on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/pages/AC-Arthurs-Book-Lounge or follow her on Twitter @AcArthur

A.C. Arthur was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland where she currently resides with her husband and three children. An active imagination and a love for reading encouraged her to begin writing in high school and she hasn't stopped since.

Working in the legal field she's seen lots of horrific things and longs for the safe haven reading a romance novel brings. Her debut novel Object of His Desire was written when a picture of an Italian villa sparked the idea of an African-American/Italian hero. Determined to bring a new edge to romance, she continues to develop intriguing plots, sensual love scenes, racy characters and fresh dialogue--thus keeping the readers on their toes!

A.C. also writes small town contemporary romance as Lacey Baker. Visit her Amazon Author Page for details about her upcoming Hallmark Channel novelization, A Gingerbread Romance. amazon.com/author/bakerlacey

In the young adult arena, A.C. also writes under the name Artist Arthur. Visit her Amazon Author Page for details about available YA books. amazon.com/author/artistarthurbooks

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Spotlight: Stealing Kisses in the Snow

Stealing Kisses in the Snow (Rendezvous Falls - Book 2) by Jo McNally


Publication Date: 10/29/2019
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: HQN
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Pages: 384
ISBN-13

Spotlights are books that I didn’t have the time to review this month. But ones that still make great reading options.

In this one opposites do attract!



Jo McNally the Web: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads


Cover Art:




Excerpt from Stealing Kisses in the Snow courtesy of Amazon’s Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

It’s Christmas in Rendezvous Falls and love’s waiting to be unwrapped…

Single mom Piper Montgomery’s plate is full. Between her two adorable kids, two jobs and a fixer-upper house, she’s so busy she can hardly see straight. But when rugged biker Logan Taggart strolls into the inn where she’s working, she can’t help but stare. He has bad boy written all over him. And with two kids relying on her, that’s the last thing she needs this Christmas.

Rendezvous Falls is nothing but a pit stop for Logan. Once his grandmother is back on her feet and ready to reclaim the inn, Logan can get back on the road. It’s where he belongs, even if his grandmother’s matchmaking book club try to convince him otherwise. Still, there’s something about beautiful spitfire Piper that makes him wonder if family and forever might just be what he needs after all.

But as the holidays draw ever closer, so do Piper and Logan. Could these polar opposites find that all they want this Christmas is each other?

Stealing Kisses in the Snow is available now from your favorite bookseller

About the author:

Jo McNally lives in coastal North Carolina with 100 pounds of dog and 200 pounds of husband – her slice of the bed is very small. When she's not writing or reading romance novels (or clinging to the edge of the bed...), she can often be found on the back porch sipping wine with friends, listening to great music. If the weather is absolutely perfect, she'll occasionally join her husband on the golf course, where she always feels far more competitive than her actual skill-level would suggest.

Review: The Devil in the Saddle

The Devil in the Saddle (Princes of Texas - Book 2) by Julia London


Publication Date: 10/29/2019
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Imprint: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages:  368
ISBN-13978-0451492371

(Received for an honest review from Berkley)


Julia London on the Web: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads

Books in the series:


Cover Art:



Excerpt from The Devil in the Saddle courtesy of Amazon’s Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia London brings readers another charming, sexy contemporary western.

A devil in her path...

 
No one cheats on a Prince and gets away with it. And Hallie—Texas socialite, would-be ballerina, and the only daughter of the renowned Prince family—is ready to give her two-timing fiancé a piece of her mind. But fate plants hot, sexy ranch hand and ex-Army Ranger Rafael Fontana quite literally in her way. Her childhood friend is all grown up. He’s sexy, he’s handsome, and suddenly, after all these years, Hallie is taking notice. 
 
A princess in his heart...
 
Rafe has been in love with Hallie since they were kids, but he was always the help—and she was glamorous and popular, seemingly off-limits to a lowly cowboy. But now he’s back at Three Rivers Ranch to help his family and Hallie is there too—and she needs his support. Soon long-buried feelings boil to the surface, and the desire between them is hot and palpable and undeniable. Rafe realizes he wants Hallie—and her adorable puppy—for keeps… he just has to convince her.

Thoughts:

Julia London is an author I haven’t read too much from. She’s very popular and has won many accolades. I have enjoyed every book of hers that I have read but the opportunities have been few for whatever reason. That being said I would definitely recommend her new novel, The Devil in the Saddle. This in the second book in the Princes of Texas series. London brings readers a friends to lovers story that is both heartwarming and steamy. With tons of witty banter and characters that will win your heart, this one is a keeper!

What I liked:

The friends to lovers trope is always a favorite of mine. This is a situation that often happens in real life and I think readers enjoy the idea that hey maybe this could happen to me. It’s easy to relate to and it’s engaging. In Devil in the Saddle our hero, Rafe has always had secret feelings for his long time friend, Hallie. But there seemed to be something standing the way. I thought London did an excellent job of showing how this couples feelings for each other changed over the course of the story. How they moved beyond Rafe being Hallie’s shoulder to cry on, to becoming her support for a new life choice and kept going from there. It wasn’t a slow start at all just a nice easy flow.

One thing that stood out to me about this book is that the story was more than just your run of the mill romance. Hallie is the only daughter in the Prince family, who are practically considered royalty in their Texas community. Rafe is the son of one of the Ranch employees. Readers will feel and understand Rafe’s struggle to see himself as good enough for Hallie because of the social class barriers and the good intentions of those who want to see Hallie marry well. I thought London did a wonderful job showing the reader that it doesn’t matter whether you come from money or from a hard working family, love doesn’t see the obstacles. It sees the possibilities.

Hallie has really been through the wringer when this book begins. After a hard night of drinking tequila and sleeping in her fancy wedding gown, she finds herself rescued by her long time friend, Rafe. She’s been through a lot from losing her father to getting rid of her cheating fiancé . I loved the way Hallie took some time. She pulled herself together and decided to move on with her life much to the chagrin of her family. Her choices aren’t what they want but Rafes support allows her safety while she redefines her dreams. Loved that aspect of the story! London fosters the idea that it is up to you to change your life both in Hallie’s story and in Rafe’s.

What I didn’t:

At first our heroine doesn’t come off as a sweet Texas girl. She’s a little bit spoiled. A little bit catty. And a whole lot of trouble. Some readers may have a hard time deciding if they like Hallie. But give it some time. Believe me, she grows on you and she grows up.

Rafe was a great character in every way but it did take him a little while to get out of his own way. Yes, he’s the employee and she’s the bosses daughter but in 2019, does that really matter? Sometimes I wonder...

Bottom Line:

Julia London is a great writer! This book had a good storyline. The characters were believable, their struggles palpable. The character growth throughout the book was excellent. I felt like it wasn’t predictable nor was it way off base. I’m gonna have read more from this lady... I really enjoyed this one!

The Devil in the Saddle is available now from your favorite bookseller

I’m giving this book 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag


About the author:


Julia London is the New York TimesUSA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of numerous romance novels and women's fiction. She is also the recipient of the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance and a six-time finalist for the prestigious RITA Award for excellence in romantic fiction.