Thursday, December 1, 2022

A Class of Her Own: A School Teacher Romance (The Thornback Society Book 2) by Aspen Hadley

 


Meredith Atwood has been described as a lot of things.

Her friends call her determined, strong, and dedicated. Her enemies, well, their words are a little less flattering. But, Meredith doesn’t have time to worry about appearances, especially not when she finds herself locked in a life or death battle with her new HOA president – a man, incidentally, who didn’t even want the job that should have been hers.

Brooks VanOrman doesn’t have a lot of time or interest in fighting battles. However, when he finds himself unwittingly in the position of HOA president, he realizes he’s going to have to start caring, and soon. To complicate matters, his neighbor - the feisty, dark-haired woman of his nightmares - refuses to follow the rules and he’s the one called in to enforce them.

It’s an instant clash of wills.

Only the more Brooks gets to know Meredith, the more he realizes that there’s a lot more to the fierce warrior than meets the eye.

A Class of Her Own is a closed-door, kissing only, sweet and clean romance with all the swoon but no explicit content.

 * Amazon * Goodreads *

I know Aspen Hadley isn't a new author but I think this is the first time I've reviewed one of her books on my blog.  I happened to be sitting at a table with her at an event and we got to talking.  She is a lovely person.  Lots of fun.  Of course I went to check out her books!  I have a few unread ones on my kindle but decided to start with the newest series, The Thornback Society.  I read the first book, Class Act (which is on KU) in preparation for reading and reviewing this book.  I do think these books should be read in order just for reading enjoyment.  There is a continuation of storylines for the characters.

Meredith is a prickly character until you get to know and understand her better.  Isn't that always how it is, though?  I enjoyed her emotional journey of awareness and breaking down barriers.  It was super satisfying.  I liked that her friends called her out on some of her poor verbal choices but always followed up with understanding and love.

Speaking of the friends, they take up a large portion of this book.  I would say at least half of the book is spent with them.  This puts the romance as a backstory until at least half way through.  Then it starts moving.  Personally, I would prefer to see more of the romantic relationship and the friendships as more of a secondary story but that's just me.

Brooks might be the most patient, understanding man ever.  He is so aware.  So intuitive.  A unicorn among men, as Meredith realizes too.  I loved the scene where Brooks is vacuuming and Meredith is having a moment of complete attraction.  She panics and calls her friend.  It's hilarious.  And true.  I wouldn't have thought that 20 years ago, but now?  Vacuuming is totally sexy.  

When you read this book, don't forget to read the author's notes at the back.  You won't believe how much of this story comes from the author's personal experiences.  It's crazy and so fun.

I'm really enjoying this sisterhood of friends and these sweet romances.  Author Aspen Hadley is definitely someone I'll be keeping my eye on from now on.

Content:  mention of child neglect.  Kissing.

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

A Thousand Heartbeats by Kiera Cass

 


“Love has a sound. It sounds like a thousand heartbeats happening at the same time.”


Princess Annika has lived a life of comfort—but no amount of luxuries can change the fact that her life isn’t her own to control. The king, once her loving father, has gone cold, and Annika will soon be forced into a loveless marriage for political gain.

Miles away, small comforts are few and far between for Lennox. He has devoted his life to the Dahrainian army, hoping to one day help them reclaim the throne that was stolen from them. For Lennox, the idea of love is merely a distraction—nothing will stand in the way of fighting for his people.

But when love, against all odds, finds them both, they are bound by its call. They can’t possibly be together—but the irresistible thrum of a thousand heartbeats won’t let them stay apart.

Kiera Cass brings her signature sparkling romance to this beautiful story of star-crossed lovers and long-held secrets.

 * Goodreads * Amazon

First, isn't the cover pretty?  I love it.

Second, I finished this book yesterday and I'm still thinking about it.  

I'm thinking about both Annika and Lennox and their personalities and history.  From every angle.  Because Annika is SO forgiving.  I looked at it from a mother's standpoint.  From a woman's standpoint.  From a daughter's standpoint.  Is it all believable?  My conclusion is that yes, with a bit of a stretch, yes.  There aren't many people who can forgive and offer kindness and mercy like Annika and her mother, but I do believe it can happen.  

The plot is so good.  I loved it all.  It had me invested all the way through.  Oh the buried secrets!!  Of course, after Annika and Lennox meet, things really pick up and intensify.  There is a lot going on.  I liked the mystery, the action, the thought behind all of the characters and their motives.  The ending was so exciting!  I'm guilty of reading way too fast.

The bottom line is that any book that still has me thinking about it well after I've finished it, deserves the credit for filling that brain space.  I had feelings and emotions regarding the characters and what was happening.  I was equally happy and sad when the story ended.  I loved that I got a whole story, all wrapped up at the end.  No cliffhangers.  This book is a stand alone and that made me happy.

This book releases on November 29th.

Content:  violence, peril, death.  Kissing.

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.


Saturday, November 19, 2022

Love on Display (The Wonder Boys #3) by Dana LeCheminant

 


They’re sworn enemies. They also happen to be incredibly attracted to one another.

After bonding at a half-marathon, rival gym owners Cam and Kailani discover the person they thought could be their soulmate turns out to be the reason their respective businesses are failing. When a heat-of-the-moment kiss leads to the pair becoming viral sensations, they pretend to be a couple to keep up interest despite the hatred they feel toward each other.

But new clients are not the only thing drawn in by the star-crossed lovers’ fake relationship. They also grab the attention of a famous fitness mogul who tells them he wants to sponsor one of their gyms. The catch? One of them has to beat the other in a televised competition.

With undeniable attraction pulling the two together for real, Cam and Kailani agree to set their differences aside and enjoy the time they get to spend together while competing. Each new challenge becomes a chance for the two of them to get to know each other better, but their pasts keep getting in the way.

Unless they can learn to truly trust each other, not even a miracle can save a relationship that was doomed from the start.


It's book three in the Wonder Boys Series by Dana LeCheminant!  Hello, Cam.   I think Cam's story might be my favorite so far.  I loved the instant crackling chemistry, the first kiss early on and how everything just built from there.  It was so good to learn more about Cam and Kailani who are both awesome characters.  Even in competition, it was easy to root for them both because they deserved it.  It's been so interesting to see how each of these Wonder Boys views themselves within the friend group.  Some conceptions are true, some are very off but through it all they are becoming stronger, more unified.  I'm all in for that.

I am just loving this series.  Each book rings with personality.  The spotlight shines on one couple each book but all the friends are still there, still involved.  It creates a real feeling of family.  Guess who is next?!  Kit!  The anchor of the group.  I can't wait to see what's up for him!!

Content:  kissing

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Esperance (Esperance Trilogy #1) by Heather Frost + an Excerpt!


TITLE: Esperance (Esperance Trilogy #1)

GENRE: NA Fantasy Romance

RELEASE DAY: November 18, 2022



Twelve strangers. Six marriages. One year in Esperance.

Amryn has many reasons to hate the empire. Her latest is her forced marriage to General Carver Vincetti, better known as the Butcher. If he learns even one of her secrets, he will kill her. And Amryn has many secrets. Not only is she an empath with forbidden magic, she's also a newly recruited rebel intent on destroying the empire—starting at Esperance.

Carver knows the rebels have infiltrated the remote temple of Esperance. His job is to hunt them down before they can wreck the emperor’s new peace. Despite the demons that haunt him, Carver is intent on his mission—but he’s not prepared for Amryn. From her fiery red hair to her surprising wit, his new wife has captured his attention. The attraction that flares between them is undeniable. Now he just has to determine if she’s the enemy.

When the newly married couples become targets in a violent game, Esperance becomes more dangerous than anyone anticipated. Carver and Amryn are about to discover that no one is exactly who they appear to be—especially each other.

Esperance is book one in a New Adult fantasy romance series by Amazon bestselling author Heather Frost. If you love enemies-to-lovers romance, forbidden magic, and an action-packed story you can’t put down, you’ll love Esperance!

 * Amazon * Goodreads *

Woot, woot!  It's release day for this new book, Esperance, by Heather Frost!!  I've been anxiously awaiting this day since I found out about this book.  I really love books like this and I never feel like I can find enough of them.  I'm so glad this author is writing books in this genre.  I've loved everything she has written so far.  (If you haven't read the Fate of Eyrinthia series yet, you really must.  It's one of my favorites!!)

How can I sum up this book?  Political intrigue.  Enemies to lovers.  Forbidden magic.  Mystery.  Danger.  Are you interested yet?!  You should be because this book is so good!  This author does a fantastic job of introducing a whole cast of characters without making me feel overwhelmed.  I felt like I knew each character as a distinct personality.  That's hard to do with many characters in a story, especially right away.  This story builds and builds in intensity and it was really hard to put it down.  I'm invested.  I'm intrigued.  I want more.

Oh, and I love Carver.  He's exactly the type of hero that I love.  Strong, determined, loyal, brave.  A little bit tortured too, which tugs at my heartstrings.  He has patience and willpower.  How could I not love him?!?!  <sigh>

This is book one in a trilogy so the story isn't over and will continue in the next book.  Of course we are left with a cliffhanger but thankfully, I didn't feel as desperate as I have with other books by this author.  I really cannot wait for the next book.  And the next.  I wish I had them right now!!  But cheers to something good to look forward to. 

Good news!  This book is on KU if you have it.  

Content:  violence, peril, death.  Kissing.

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  I have since purchased my own copy.  All opinions expressed are my own.



Heather Frost is an #1 Amazon bestselling author of YA/NA fantasy romance. Her books have been Whitney Award and Swoony Award Finalists, and Royal Decoy was a 2022 semifinalist in The Best In Indie Awards. She has a BS in Creative Writing and a minor in Folklore, which means she got to read fairy tales and ghost stories and call it homework. Heather lives in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains in northern Utah. To learn more about Heather and her books, visit her website: www.HeatherFrost.com.

 

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Please enjoy the following excerpt!

 “Your body will adapt,” Carver said.

Amryn glanced over at him as they made their way down a wide stone staircase. “Excuse

me?”

“To the climate. The humidity is brutal, but you will adapt over time.”

She snorted. “If I don’t melt first.”

He felt a smile tug into place. “I felt the same in Harvari. But you will get used to it.”

“Forgive me if I don’t believe you. Isn’t Westmont unconscionably hot as well?”

“Compared to Ferradin, I suppose it might be considered that. I just think of it as the

warmth of home.”

“Ferradin can be warm,” Amryn said, swiping a quick hand over her hairline. “This

rivals the Scorched Plains.”

He chuckled. “I suppose it’s a matter of perspective.”

They reached the base of the stairs and turned right, following the directions they’d been

given. Other than a handful of guards and servants, they didn’t see anyone else in the

long corridor.

Wanting to keep her talking, Carver said, “I miss the ocean, and the sandy beaches of

Westmont. What do you miss from home?”

“Everything,” she whispered.

Her melancholy was like a barb against his skin, and he winced. A poor choice of topic

on his part, when she was clearly homesick.

She peeked over at him. “I miss the mountains.”

The admission was unexpected after her previous one-word response, but he grasped at

it gratefully. “Westmont doesn’t have many mountains, at least not near my home. I

remember the first time I traveled with my father and we came across a true mountain

range. I was terrified.”

She shot him a look. “Why?”

“I thought it would fall on top of me and crush me flat.” He shrugged. “I was only a

child, so it seemed a valid fear at the time.”

The ghost of a smile lifted her lips. “So mountains no longer scare you?”

“I didn’t say that. Frankly, I always feel a little trapped whenever I find myself

surrounded by them.” Her smile was proof that she was relaxing around him, but that

fact alone wasn’t what kept him talking. He found he enjoyed talking with her—liked

coaxing those rare smiles from her. “Mountains also steal the sunlight prematurely, and

they block the view of the rest of the world. And have you ever climbed one?”

“Don’t tell me that the emperor’s favored general is afraid of heights,” she said, one

eyebrow raised.

He scoffed. “As if I’m the one with an issue if I have a rational fear of falling off a cliff

and plunging to my death?”

“You know,” she said a bit drolly, “I grew up playing on mountains.”

“Then it’s a blessing from the Divinities that you’re still alive.”

She rolled her eyes at that, but she wore an amused smile. “Has anyone ever told you

that you’re overly dramatic?”

“Yes. Just about everyone,” he added, making his tone as dramatic as possible.

He didn’t get a full laugh out of her, but she made a sound in her throat that could have

been the beginnings of one.

Perhaps charming his wife wouldn’t be as difficult as he’d feared.

He glanced over at her. “Why do you miss the mountains?”

His more serious tone chased away her smile, but she didn’t miss a step as they neared

the end of the corridor. “I feel lost without them,” she said, and he was surprised by the

honesty in her voice. “They’ve always surrounded me. Given me landmarks. When I’m

surrounded by mountains, I feel . . . safe.”

Something she clearly didn’t feel here.

Not that he blamed her. Esperance had already been a place of death, and they’d only

been married for a day.

She peeked over at him. “Why do you miss the ocean?”

He shrugged. “I hadn’t really thought about it . . . but I suppose I miss everything about

it. The sound of it, the smell of it—the way it goes on forever.” The ocean comforted him.

Reminded him of better days. Sometimes, in Harvari, he would close his eyes and try to

picture it. The salty air, the spray hitting his face, the gritty sand clinging to his bare feet.

The glitter of the water.

Sometimes, he could almost imagine the sweat and blood on his skin was water. Only

water.

“You miss it because the ocean is home,” she said quietly.

He glanced at her. “And that’s why you miss the mountains.”

Her steps slowed as they reached the breakfast room. Beyond the arched doorway,

Carver could hear the hum of voices, and the scents of breakfast wafted into the hall. But

he paused with Amryn, the two of them standing alone in the hall.

This moment felt weighted, and he wanted to say the right thing.

“My father described the mountains of Ferradin,” he found himself sharing. “How snow

can top the peaks even in summer, making them a vivid blue and white on top, but

covered in trees and cliffs and wildflowers everywhere else. They sound breathtaking.”

Amryn stared at him, and as her eyes slowly narrowed, he felt a sinking in his gut.

“Your father has only been to Ferradin once, I think,” she said quietly. “To conquer it.”

She stepped around him and entered the breakfast room, leaving him standing alone in

the hall.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Christmas at Valentine Inn by Jennifer Peel

 


With a name like Isabelle Valentine, one would think I was destined to find true love and believe in the ridiculous notion of soul mates. Don’t get me wrong: I’m all about love. I even own an inn with my sister where each room is named after our favorite romantic couples. But soul mates? It seems highly implausible there is that one person, your person, meant only for you. My sister, of course, would tell me I’m dead wrong and that the very inn we own calls to such lovers. So, what if she did find her own unlikely happily ever after here with one of the most famous men alive? That doesn’t mean I’m meant for such a destiny.

But what happens when the implausible happens? When a man I thought I would never see again walks into my inn. The man who twenty years ago administered the kiss of all kisses. The kind of kiss that whispered to my soul and told me things I wasn’t ready to hear. But this time Dr. Patrick Abbott isn’t alone—he comes with two beautiful kids and the memory of his dead wife, who seems to haunt all their lives. So much so, Patrick would just as soon skip Christmas. At least that’s his plan until he finds himself playing hero trying to help me save my sister’s secret Christmas Eve wedding. By hero, I mean pretending it’s our wedding. Yep, you heard that right. Now we find ourselves having to act as if we are the jolliest couple around, making the season bright. But somehow the pretend feels all too real. Perhaps in all the chaos, there is room for my own Christmas dreams to come true. Maybe, just maybe, I was wrong about soul mates? Either way, I’m hanging up more mistletoe. Because hello, the man can kiss.

 * Amazon * Goodreads *

It's here, it's here, it's here!  I've been waiting to read this book, desperate to get Izzy's story.  And it was amazing!!  If ever two hearts deserve a second chance at first love, it's Patrick and Izzy's. Family oriented, mature and SEXY. My heart was ALL IN for the magic of these two.  And it was.  Magic.

I loved the backstory that was weaved into the current story so all the pieces came together seamlessly.  It was so satisfying to see Izzy step into a mothering role, reaching out to Patrick's traumatized children with love and patience.  She was such a good balance of fun, emotionally intelligent and sexy.  I loved all her sides.

Patrick.  Once he loosened up, boy was it full steam ahead!  I loved all the swoony moments between him and Izzy.  Yeah, the kissing, but the words too.  It was a more mature love between Izzy and Patrick and I was all in for it.  And don't even get me started on the ending.  Oh my stars.  It was beautiful.  My heart expanded at least ten times normal.  Sigh.  I adore happy, happy, happily ever after endings.  

Fake engagements, second chance at first love, and Christmas magic.  It's the perfect book to pick up right now.  One of my favorite Christmas love stories ever.

The first book, The Valentine Inn, is available on KU if you have that.  You don't HAVE to read it first but you will definitely be happier if you do.

Content:  some innuendo, kissing.

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

The Call of the Sea by Sian Ann Bessey

 


A Viking Historical Romance

On the eve of her betrothal to a nobleman she’s never met, Rhiannon seeks comfort on the shores of the sea she loves so well. But instead of offering peace to her uneasy heart, the ocean heralds doom with the arrival of dreaded Viking ships. A vicious raid leads to the death of her beloved father and leaves Rhiannon’s life in tatters. Heartbroken, she travels to Ynys Môn, where she takes up residence at the royal court of Owain Gwynedd.

Leif loves voyaging on the open water. As the son of a Viking chief, he’s accustomed to his people’s practice of plundering and looting. But when one of his companions ruthlessly kills an old man in front of the man’s beautiful daughter, Leif is haunted by the memory. Desperate to find forgiveness for the atrocity he allowed to occur, he’s offered a chance at redemption through the kindly teachings of an Irish priest and the unexpected arrival of a royal fugitive. Suddenly thrust into the midst of the Cymry’s political turmoil, Leif is reunited with the dead man’s daughter―Rhiannon. Forced to work side by side to uncover the truth behind the turmoil, they come to discover that love can grow from even the most tragic of beginnings. But with such incompatible backgrounds, surely a future together can never be theirs.

 * Amazon * Goodreads * Deseret Book *

I was so drawn to this story!  I loved how the characters grew and how the plot unfolded.  It felt gentle but exciting at the same time.  This historical romance is based on real events which made it even more interesting to me.  A real Viking story!

Leif has such a good heart.  I loved how he sought to learn more about the things he didn't understand.  His curiosity led him to change his heart and then his actions.  He worked hard to right wrongs, ease burdens and discover truth.  He adored Rhiannon and it showed.

Rhiannon is the sweetest.  I admired her courage and how she never lashed out in pain or anger.  She was a character who was easy to love and root for.  Her love of the sea was my favorite.

I loved every minute of this story.  The ending really ramped up in intensity and I was fully invested, reading WAY too fast.  So, so good.  

Content:  peril, violence, death.  Kissing.  Some Christian elements.

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.


Monday, October 31, 2022

Sundown (Sky King Ranch #3) by Susan May Warren

 


Former Delta Operative Colt Kingston knows when someone is lying. He may not know the truth, but he sure doesn't trust Tae, the woman who is caring for his ailing father at Sky King Ranch. Behind those beautiful blue eyes, he can tell there is a troubled--and smart--woman.

A few of her stories prove true--he's found the crashed plane and the dead body inside. Still, her story of survival seems too incredible to believe . . . until the thugs she claims to be hunting her show up and threaten Sky King Ranch. Now Tae must disappear, along with her secrets.

But Colt's not about to let her go it alone. And when they discover that her secrets include the antidote to a plague that threatens the world, it'll take all three Kingston brothers to save the country they've vowed to protect.

Susan May Warren brings her Sky King Ranch series to a climactic close with this high-stakes race against the clock.

 * Amazon * Goodreads *

Wow, this Kingston family.  They are really something else.  What I love about this series is we get all the family in each book.  While each one may focus on one individual more than the others, they are all still there, part of the story and part of the family.  I feel like I know them and am connected to them.  I think it's pretty important to read this series in order.  There are individual stories within a growing, overarching story.

I was excited to get to Colt.  I knew there would be a lot to unpack there.  Between him and Tae, there is SO MUCH.  Colt is a jump right in kind of guy.  He goes with his instincts and is quick to defend and protect.  Tae really needs someone like him to depend on.  I loved how their story unfolds through the series and how it really gains momentum in this book.  It was so satisfying.

The story brings mystery, action, suspense, romance and danger on every page.  It is fast paced and exciting which is exactly how this author writes and I love it.  I've loved hanging with the Kingston family.  They aren't perfect, they are all fighting physical, mental and emotional demons but they are solid.  They are strong and they keep trying.  They stand up for right and they fight hard when they need to.  It's pretty awesome.

Content:  peril, violence, death.  Kissing.  Christian elements.

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.