Thursday, September 28, 2017

All That Makes Life Bright: The Life and Love of Harriet Beecher Stowe (Historical Proper Romance) by Josi S. Kilpack

When Harriet Beecher marries Calvin Stowe on January 6, 1836, she is sure her future will be filled romance, eventually a family, and continued opportunities to develop as a writer. Her husband Calvin is completely supportive and said she must be a literary woman. Harriet's sister, Catharine, worries she will lose her identity in marriage, but she is determined to preserve her independent spirit. Deeply religious, she strongly believes God has called her to fulfill the roles of wife and writer and will help her accomplish everything she was born to do.

Two months after her wedding Harriet discovers she is pregnant just as Calvin prepares to leave for a European business trip. Alone, Harriet is overwhelmed-being a wife has been harder than she thought and being an expectant mother feels like living another woman's life. Knowing that part of Calvin still cherishes the memory of his first wife, Harriet begins to question her place in her husband's heart and yearns for his return; his letters are no substitute for having him home. When Calvin returns, however, nothing seems to have turned out as planned.

Struggling to balance the demands of motherhood with her passion for writing and her desire to be a part of the social change in Ohio, Harriet works to build a life with her beloved Calvin despite differing temperaments and expectations.

Can their love endure, especially after "I do"? Can she recapture the first blush of new love and find the true beauty in her marriage?

It's sometimes hard to imagine how life would have been if I had lived in the early 1800's when the country was changing so quickly and women were so repressed.  But then Josi Kilpack comes along and makes me feel like Harriet's life could have been my life or the life of any of us because of the common desires, thoughts and feelings that inherently makes us women.  

I did not know much about Harriet Beecher Stowe before reading this book other than her famous writing of Uncle Tom's Cabin.  I love how personable Harriet and Calvin became to me and how much of myself I could see in them.  Kilpack does an excellent job of bringing this bit of history to life and I loved her notes in the back for each chapter.  It points to research well done which can be felt in each page of this book.

There is nothing heart pounding or edge of your seat in this book.  It's simply a story about two people trying to work through the messy bits of life and relationships to find happiness and peace.  I felt the connection to the characters and the story.  I feel like I now have a better understanding of Harriet Beecher Stowe and I'm the better for it.

Content:  Some references to intimate relations between a husband and wife with no details.

- I received a copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Happily Ever Afters by Rachel Magee + $25 and Prize Pack Giveaway!

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Happily Ever Afters
Rachel Magee
Contemporary Sweet Romance
ebook, 286 pages
September 19th 2017 by Clean Reads

Lainey Stratton does not fall in love with strangers she meets on vacation. It simply doesn’t make logical sense. So when Lainey meets Carter Thompson on the first day of her Caribbean vacation, she knows it could never amount to anything more than a crush. At the end of the vacation she will return to Dallas and he will return to D.C., and that will be the end of it. Well, unless he wants to join her at a friend’s destination wedding, which would be considered vacation too, right?

But when an unexpected tragedy sends Lainey’s logical world spiraling out of control, she realizes her vacation crush might be the only one who can help her pick up the pieces of her shattered life. That is, as long as she can get out of the way of her own happiness. And as long as Carter’s past doesn’t catch up with him before she gets a chance.

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It's always a bit of a chance picking up a book by an author you don't know and haven't really heard anything about.  I do believe this is Rachel Magee's first book and if it isn't, it's MY first book by this author.  I was hopeful going in, but unsure.  Man, I am SO glad I joined in for this book tour because this book was fantastic.  It's more than just a sweet romance, it's a journey filled with emotion and growth.

The book starts out in a tropical paradise where two people meet.  All the initial feelings of attraction and butterflies were there.  It was a fun place to be.  Then we move to this middle part where Lainey and Carter navigate a new long distance friendship/relationship.  They are both a bit unsure and aware that distance is hard when cultivating the newness of a relationship.  Carter is solid though, where Lainey is hesitant.  He is honestly the rock star of this book in every way.  I LOVED him.

The last part of the book is filled with emotion that yanked my poor heart out.  I was fully invested in the lives of these characters.  Their journey wasn't easy, but it was satisfying.  I loved my time spent with this book.  I'll be watching for more from Rachel Magee!  She is now on my radar.  :) 

About the Author

Rachel Magee wrote her first novel when she was twelve and entered it into a contest for young author/illustrators. Unfortunately, the judges weren’t impressed with her stick figures. So she dropped the dream of becoming a world famous illustrator and stuck to spinning stories. When she’s not busy working on her latest book, she loves to travel with her family and friends. By far, her favorite destination is the beach, which tends to work its way into most of her stories. Between vacations, you can find her at home in The Woodlands, TX with her wonderful husband, their two adventurous kids and a couple of spirited pets, all of whom share Rachel’s love of the ocean. Well, except the cat and dog. They’re both afraid of water. Find out more about what Rachel has been up to at
Tour Giveaway

Happily Ever Afters Prize Pack 1 (US residents only)
· Happily Ever Afters coffee mug
· Tea Sampler Pack
· Happily Ever Afters notebook
· Lilly Pulitzer pen
· Chocolates
· ‘Vacations’ picture frame

Happily Ever Afters Prize Pack 2 (US and International residents))
· $25 Amazon e-gift card

Giveaway ends October 4th

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Cursed Wolf (Curse of the Moon #5) by Stacy Claflin

A stone in the shoe is irritating. A stone around the neck is a nightmare.

Victoria should be happy. Elated. Enemies have been defeated and her new life has endless possibilities. But things never stay uncomplicated for long. Not for her. The wolf essence stone was supposed to cure wolves of their shifting curse. Instead, it adheres itself to her, and casts a new curse on almost everyone surrounding her. Even worse, it speaks to her—leading her to a disturbing and heartbreaking realm where no one can find her and no one can follow. Each time she disappears, she returns with no memory of what transpired and is left with a feeling of dread.

Toby suffers more from the curse than the rest of his pack. The wolf essence stone seems to actively hate him and often repels him away from the love of his life. Compounding their problems? A secret society wants the stone for their own nefarious ends and the evil witch who created the curse has also resurfaced—and everything they do puts Victoria’s life in jeopardy.

All the supernaturals must band together in an epic battle for control of the stone. But before it’s over, one or more of them may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

I read the first book in this series awhile ago and I don't think I've read any of the books in between before reading this book.  I can say that there were a lot of things that I was missing- back story, relationship progression, etc., but I feel like I had a handle on most things that were happening.  This series is probably best read in order though!  :)

Paranormal characters are in full forces in this story.  Witches, werewolves, valkyrie, vampires, shape shifters, you name it, it's probably in this book or in this series!  

One thing I really loved about this book was the sense of community and family in the core group of characters.  They work well together and look out for each other.  Individually I didn't feel much emotional connection to the characters, but I really enjoyed them as a whole.  

The beginning of this book is a bit slow as everyone is fawning over Victoria but things do pick up resulting in a very climactic ending.  The author leaves a few openings for future books which look promising- especially the one involving the Jaguar!  

Content:  mild violence, kissing, implied intimate relations between a married couple with no details.

- I received a copy of this book from the author.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Pursuit of Lady Harriett by Rachael Anderson + $25 Giveaway!


When wills clash and hearts collide, who will reign victorious?

 Termed an Incomparable during her first London season, Lady Harriett Cavendish is beautiful, spirited, and confident, capturing the attention of a great many suitors. Unfortunately, they all failed to capture her attention, and she concluded the season as unattached as she’d begun it.

Only weeks prior to her second season, Harriett encounters Lieutenant Christopher Jamison while visiting Tanglewood Manor. Recently returned from war, the lieutenant is everything that Harriett's previous suitors were not. He’s arrogant, ungentlemanly, irritating, and challenges her at every opportunity. When he goes too far, Harriett decides that it’s time to turn the tables on him. But as she sets out to put the lieutenant in his place once and for all, she discovers there is more to him than meets the eye, and when it comes to matters of the heart, she has no control whatsoever.

Rachael Anderson is one of my favorite authors no matter the genre she is writing in.  Any day I get to read one of her books is a great day.  I was really looking forward to this book because the previous two books in this series have been fabulous!  You don't have to read this series in order as each book can stand alone easily, but I would recommend you read in order if you can.  It just helps with loving the characters.  :)

I was a bit worried in the beginning of this book because Harriett was such a brat!  I thought, "oh no, I don't like her at all!"  And in the beginning of the book, I really didn't like her.  She was mean.  Christopher was a bit oblivious, but not really deserving of all she dished out to him in the beginning.  This started a bit of a war of sorts- each trying to up the other one because Christopher is not one to stand there and take anything.  It was a bit amusing, I have to say.  There was some excellent banter and some sparky moments of romantic tension.  Harriett grew on me- especially as her softer side began to emerge.  I loved Christopher from the beginning.  He's a funny guy.  And so very oblivious.

The ending was superb.  There was such a build up throughout the book which made the ending ever so satisfying.  I loved it.  This book was engaging and fun the whole way through.  

If you haven't read this series, you need to.  It's so, so good!

Enjoy the following excerpt!

Harriett looked at what remained of the cake. Apparently, he didn’t intend to finish it off after all, so she collected their forks and stood. “Forgive me for saying so, but you look quite done in, Chris. If you do not go up to bed now, you will probably fall asleep here. Only imagine what Mrs. Caddy might say if she discovers you here with the mostly-eaten cake. For your own sake, you ought to retire. I will do my best to tidy things up.”

Before she could move away from him, he grabbed her hand and guided her to sit back down, keeping hold of her fingers. “Not so fast, my lady. I meant it when I said that I’m in desperate need of the distraction that only you can provide. Thus far, all I have done is burden you with my troubles.”

 “I do not feel at all burdened, sir.” Indeed, Harriett suddenly felt breathless and somewhat giddy. The effect this man had on her was something of a wonder.

“Sir?” he asked. “I thought we were beyond that.”

 “I thought so as well, but you only just called me ‘my lady.’”

He frowned and blinked as though he hadn’t realized he had. “Forgive me, Harry. I fear my exhaustion has muddled my thinking.”

This time, she did not let the name slide. She snatched her hand free and frowned at him. “Obviously it has.”

He laughed—not a tired attempt at a laugh, but a real one filled with the richness that warmed her straight through. Only this time, it did not bother her at all. In fact, it felt wonderful, almost like a compliment.

 “I knew you’d come through for me,” he said, leaning close enough to touch shoulders with her. “You have no idea how much I needed to laugh or how good that felt. I could honestly kiss you right now.”

Harriett tried her best not to blush or appear astonished by the suggestion—he had obviously made the comment in jest—but when his smile widened into a devilish grin, she knew she’d failed. He leaned in closer, and his gaze wandered briefly to her mouth before returning to her eyes. She could smell vanilla and lemon and a hint of something else—leather perhaps? A delightful pulse whipped down her arm, and she was hard-pressed not to shiver.

 “Admit it,” he said. “You have missed me.”


Author Rachael Anderson A USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can’t sing, doesn’t dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway Ends 10/1/17 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Kiss Me in the Rain (Destined for Love: Mansions) by Lindzee Armstrong

Will she risk the home she treasures for the man she loves? 

Cypress Grove has always been a treasured constant in Layla's perfect life. Now the mansion will be sold to the highest bidder if she doesn’t date an investor's son. The problem? The man she really wants just rolled into town.

Tyler is done being responsible and never going after what he wants. Layla's finally given him the courage to quit grad school and use his student loans to flip houses. And he's decided to move near Cypress Grove to do it.

When Layla happens upon suspicious ledgers at the mansion, her family's financial woes take a sinister turn. As Tyler and Layla work together to find the culprit, the attraction between them threatens to burst into flames. But admitting their feelings could spell disaster for Cypress Grove.

I think I'm going to love this new Destined for Love series with the theme of mansions!  The last series set in Europe was so fun and this series has a great line up of authors.  I'm hoping to be able to read then all in the next couple months.  Fingers crossed!

I had the chance to meet Lindzee Armstrong this summer.  How fun is that?!  We met at an author/blogger dinner.  There is nothing better as a blogger/reviewer than meeting authors whose books you love.  Right?!  Here's a picture from that night.  Also included in this picture is Lucinda Whitney who has a book in this series as well!  (Lindzee is on the far left, Lucinda on the far right, me next to Lucinda)

Kiss Me in the Rain follows a couple that we meet in a previous book, Kiss Me in the Moonlight.  It sets the stage for this book although I don't think you need to read the first book to understand the second.  But, as with all books in a series, you will probably feel more of a connection to the characters if you do.

Layla and Tyler have a few bumps to get over in this book.  It's a frustrating sort of attraction because neither of them can act on the feelings they have.  Instead each of them is trying to be close to the other in small ways while they try to work things out.  I loved the sparks between Layla and Tyler and the frustrated attraction.  There is also a bit of mystery intertwined in the story line that kept things interesting.  I loved the romantic ending!  It was worth all the frustration.  :)

This story was easy to picture in my head.  I love when I can read books and fall into a movie as well.  I can't wait to read the next book in this series!  Hopefully next week!

Books in the Destined for Love: Mansions Collection
—Kiss Me in the Rain by Lindzee Armstrong
—Roping His Heart by Jaclyn Hardy
—The Princess and the Pizza Man by Cassie Mae
—Mending Fences by Lorin Grace
—Love Me at Sunset by Lucinda Whitney
—Saving Her Plantation by Cami Checketts

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wish Me Love by Michele Ashman Bell + $25 and Book Giveaway

Charlotte Wells does not date. After surviving a broken engagement, she’s taken a leave of absence from the social scene. So when her best friend and coworker, Jack, challenges her to get back in the game, she’s not so sure she’s ready to play. But ultimately, curiosity gets the best of her, and Charlotte accepts the daunting challenge: she will attempt to have fifty first dates in her effort to find “the one.” Unfortunately, she quickly realizes that the dating pool mostly holds clown fish as she goes on one lousy outing after another. Without a good man in sight as summer ends, Charlotte cuts her losses and sets her sights on a fun-filled trip to her cousin’s destination wedding in Brazil.

Brazil is a land of beautiful sights and delicious offerings—including Max, the charming brother of her cousin’s new husband. Max has all the makings of a Prince Charming in soccer cleats, and Charlotte’s happily ever after seems to be within reach. But love is a funny thing, and soon Charlotte finds herself wondering: could it be that her true love has been right in front of her all along?

First of all, I really love this cover.  It's so bright and happy.  And, like the character in this book, my grandma had lilacs in her yard and I loved them.  I planted a lilac bush in my yard and it always reminds me of her.  

This is an LDS fiction book.  There are religious elements in it- more than just casual Christian mentions.

I loved the characters in this book.  I think Charlotte and Jack are fantastic and I would love to have them as my friends!  They have so much personality and it's well defined so that I feel like I know them.

The book takes a location change to Brasil and it was fun!  It made me want to visit there myself.  I loved the bracelet and wishes part of the book too.  It made Charlotte's life feel a bit magical.

The story lost some momentum for me in the middle when the more religious elements came into play.  I'm a religious girl, but I felt like this just slowed the story down and went on too long.  That's just me though.  The HEA ending happened VERY fast.  Over in an instant.  I guess I just wanted more between the couple AS a couple- I waited so long for it.  No epilogue.  <sigh>  It's okay though.  I really did enjoy this book for the most part.  

Content:  Just the religious themes mentioned above.

- I received a copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Mind Games by Stephanie Black + $25 and Book Giveaway!

Psychologist Natalie Marsh’s dream is now reality: her mental health services clinic has opened and is housed in an elegant, newly renovated nineteenth-century building. Unfortunately, not everyone is happy with the clinic’s presence, including Heather Osbourne, a troubled young woman who wholly objects to the occupation of the building. Heather has spent years wandering the halls of the abandoned structure, convinced she’s communing with her ancestor’s ghost. When Natalie thwarts Heather’s attempt to leap from a window, the shaken psychologist soon realizes Heather’s failed jump is merely one piece of a disturbing puzzle. Greed and deceit are weaving a web around Natalie, and someone will stop at nothing—not even murder—to get what they want. Stretched to her breaking point, Natalie struggles to learn the truth, but only one thing is clear: nothing is as it seems.

This is a book I have rules about.  Number one:  don't read at night.  Number two:  don't read when you are alone.  Both of which I had to do for this book in order to get it read in time for my review.  I'm a wimp, no doubt about it and I really wish I would have kept to my rules.  😱

This book started out slow for me.  It took me a few chapters to get a grip on who the many characters were and what role they played.  I'd have to stop and think- wait, who is this?  I don't like having to do that.  By the middle of the book the intensity ramped up and things started happening at a faster pace.  I was thinking everyone was guilty, bad and lying!  The ending is very climactic!  (and it scared me)

Stephanie Black is so good at writing these suspense/thrillers.  What a mind she has.  I appreciate that she is able to write in this genre and keep it clean.

Content:  violence, death, attempted suicide

- I received a copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Lady of Breken Manor by Heather B. Moore

No lady can steal a loyal man from his fiancé, but what if that lady is a ghost?

Lady Charlotte is bored. So bored that when the owner of her manor in Scotland dies, she actually looks forward to haunting, uh, meeting the new owner. Too bad he’s engaged. Because if he weren’t, and if Charlotte could get him to fall in love with her, then the curse would finally be broken.

What curse, you ask? The curse that keeps Charlotte confined to an ancient manor decade after decade, playing parlor tricks on unsuspecting visitors. If only being a ghost weren’t so tedious, Charlotte might actually enjoy her life-slash-death. But the new owner is making her rethink her entire existence.

LADY OF BREKEN MANOR will be released in the Secret Legends Boxed Set on September 12, 2017. Secret Legends will be available only for a limited time at the low price of 99 cents.

LADY OF BREKEN MANOR will be then moved to an individual release in December 2017.

How fun was this book!!??  I love reading romance books with a little twist off "normal".  I mean, a boy falling in love with a ghost?  He never touched her, he never kissed her.  He only spoke with her but the connection was forged and there was no going back.  There were plenty of moments in this book that made me smile and then there was Sean.  Oh, hello Sean.  Guy in love with the ghost.  You may think he's a titch off in the head but I'm telling you that he has some awesome swoony moments.  I loved his devotion to Lady Charlotte.

I wish this book would have been longer.  At novella length, everything happens so fast.  I wanted to stay and wallow around.  That's a sure sign of an engaging book!  I expected nothing less from Heather Moore though.  She is fantastic at writing in many different genres.  This one is the perfect light-hearted, paranormal romance.

Content:  clean, a couple instances of mild swearing

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Love Remains by Sarah M. Eden + Giveaway!

From Sarah M. Eden, the USA Today Bestselling author of the Longing for Home series, LOVE REMAINS is a new romance novel set in the beloved world of Hope Springs.

For nearly a year, Tavish O’Connor has carried the crushing weight of his family’s future on his shoulders. He has taken on the care of his youngest brother, Finbarr, who lost his eyesight in a terrible accident. But the lad needs more than Tavish can provide. Finbarr needs hope.

Cecily Attwater specializes in hope. As a tutor to the newly blind, she has dedicated her life to helping others overcome the obstacles she herself has conquered. Her new assignment in a remote corner of Wyoming proves trickier than usual: Finbarr refuses to learn. To make matters worse, his family—and the other Irish townspeople—are less than thrilled to discover an Englishwoman in their haven.

Cecily’s only hope lies in securing the cooperation of her pupil’s brother Tavish, who happens to be her harshest critic and quite possibly the most frustrating man she’s ever known.

For Finbarr’s sake, Tavish and Cecily forge an uneasy alliance that, as the weeks pass, tiptoes toward something deeper than either dares admit or face, and toward a future they know to be impossible. There can be no hope of a happy outcome for an Irishman and an English woman amongst a people reeling from violence and centuries of hatred between their two homelands.

Other Books in the Hope Springs Series:

Longing for Home

Hope Springs

My Dearest Love

It's no secret that I love Sarah Eden's books. This series is absolutely one of my favorites and this book? Oh my heart. Seriously. It's full of depth and emotion and my heart was one hundred percent engaged.

I have loved Tavish from the very beginning of this series. I think I might be in love with his name alone! Tavish is the very best sort of person and I was SO grateful this book brought about some healing, peace and happiness for him. It was a long, hard fought battle- emotional and fantastic. Man, I love Tavish. LOVE him.

Cecily earned a place in my heart right next to Tavish. She sort of wormed her way in and took up space. It happened with no conscious effort on my part. I felt all sorts of things for Cecily but mostly I admired her. She has a strength of character that I wish I had. She is someone who rises up no matter what. Through heartache, prejudice, physical pain and limitations, loneliness and sorrow, Cecily rises up.

I could seriously go on and on about this book. I really loved everything about it. There is a song in this book and a scene that yanked my heart out. If you have ever loved someone and lost them, you will feel it's power. So emotional!

I would highly recommend reading this series and in order if you can. It will provide more of an emotional connection this story and it's characters. But, if you cannot read them all, this book can stand alone, I think.

Tour Schedule

September 11 - My Book A Day
                        Smiling Book Reviews
                        Peggy Urry

September 12 - Bookworm Lisa

September 13 - LDS Writer Mom

September 14 - Literary Time Out

                         Why Not? Because I Said So!
Mel’s Shelves

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Miss Leslie's Secret by Jennifer Moore + $25 and Book Giveaway!

Decorated war hero Conall Stewart has spent ten years envisioning his return to his beloved Scottish Highlands. But now, with the days of battle finally behind him, it seems that his dreams of home have been in vain: the land of his youth lies in ruins, and his family is gone. Though he will never stop searching for his kin, Conall knows he must begin again. But when he takes on a rented farm in a nearby town, he finds far more than the fresh start he was looking for . . . After catching a mischievous local lad stealing, Conall returns young Jamie to his mother, Aileen Leslie—and finds the woman’s coddling of the child maddening. What Conall does not realize is that Aileen hides a frightening secret: her devoted protection of Jamie is all that shelters them from discovery by a dangerous man from their past. Drawn together by circumstance, Conall soon develops a fatherly relationship with Jamie—as well as romantic feelings for Aileen. But even as the couple accepts their growing affection for one another, time runs out for Aileen and her son: after years of hiding, they have been found. Conall lost his family once—he will do all in his power not to let history repeat itself . . ..

This book transported me to the Scottish Highlands.  Conall has been far from his home for a long time and through him I was able to feel the longing to be there and the peace that he felt in coming home.  This story is full of Scottish traditions and I love how traditions bind people together.  I had a really strong sense of this while reading.  The author does a really good job of capturing the pride of the Scottish people, their struggles and their love for the land and each other.  

Aileen is such a good mother with very strong mama bear tendencies.  I loved her for that.  She loves that little Jaime with everything in her and I can surely relate to that!  Aileen is a strong woman, and a hard worker which made her an easy character to like and root for.  

This was another great story from Jennifer Moore!  

Content:  kissing, mild peril

- I received a copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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