Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Stone (The Metcalfes #1) by Ronie Kendig


Series: The Metcalfes #1
Publisher: Task Force Press
Release Date: Jan 6, 2022
Genre: Clean with faith elements, Romantic Suspense

She cost him everything. Now, he’s forced to protect her.

Stone Metcalfe embodies the Metcalfe legacy—blue eyes, an unfair amount of good looks, and hardcore patriot-laced character. But a foolish lapse in judgment dismantles his name and career. Humiliated and furious, he retreats to his mountain lodge to hide from media hounds and eke out a new life. However, one phone call from an old Army buddy upends Stone’s best-laid plans.

Supermodel Brighton Buchanan had designers and men eating out of her hand until a terrible mistake trapped her in the soul-eating world of human trafficking. Years later, she is used by her captors to take down the best man she’s ever known. The man she loves. Hope lost, she’s unexpectedly freed—and thrown back into Stone’s life. Being forgiven is out of the question considering how much he hates her.

Believing danger and her are one wrong move away, Brighton will do anything to keep him from being ruined again—even if it means going back to that life. As everything is falling apart and threats mount against Brighton, Stone realizes forgiveness is the easy part. Protecting her—and his heart—is another story.

 * Amazon * Goodreads

I loved so much about this book it is hard to know where to start!  Honestly, I didn't really read the blurb when I agreed to read this book or if I did, I forgot.  The latter is most likely.  Anyway, I agreed to read because this author is awesome.  I love the books I have read by her and I trusted that this time would be no different.  Because I didn't remember the blurb I was pleasantly surprised by the dedication this author showed in representing the world of human trafficking and Operation Underground Railroad.  This organization is amazing and if you don't know anything about them, I suggest you start learning.  It's so important to be aware, educated and supportive of this organization.

 I was so invested in this book.  It was fast paced, intense in both plot and emotions, and left me wanting more, more, more.  The characters were humanly flawed but so strong and sincere in their intentions.  I couldn't help but be caught up in their stories and their emotions.  It was SO good!  The backstory is revealed bit by bit, unfolding in the perfect way for me, as a reader to get to know them intimately while also keeping me firmly rooted in the drama of the present.  There is struggle, attraction, romance, danger and tension, leading to an intense, climactic ending.  I loved it!!

I wish I had the next book right now.  It's going to be hard waiting.

Content:  violence, peril, kissing, mention of faith and God, mention of sex trafficking and intimate relations with no details.

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



Monday, January 24, 2022

The Valentine Inn by Jennifer Peel


I, Charlotte Valentine, am mostly of sound mind. Typically, I make really good choices. I mean I went to college, never did drugs . . . I even brush and floss every day. That’s not to say I don’t make poor decisions—believe me, I do. They always seem to involve men—everything from gluing my eye shut (don’t ask) to falling in love with my boss. Did I mention he was famous? Oh, Drake Foster, you beautiful creature, you. My sister told me not to accept the position as his personal assistant. Apparently, she thinks it’s emotionally unhealthy for me to work for the object of my desire. What does she know?

Well, she knew enough to tell me not to go on a little jaunt with him through a blizzard. She was definitely against us sharing the only room left at the coziest inn ever. And what happened after that she was adamant should have never happened. But, hey, it all worked out. I got the inn and the cutest kid ever. Unfortunately, Drake has no idea about either one—he really should answer his phone more—until, that is, he decides to take a trip down memory lane and shows up at my beloved inn. Let’s just say he’s surprised. But he’s not the only one. Who knew our connection would be just as strong as it always was and that all this time, I’ve haunted him as much as he’s haunted me? But this time, will love come to stay, or is it checking out for good? 

 * Amazon * Goodreads *

 Jennifer Peel book days are the BEST days.  There is just something about the way this author writes characters and stories that makes me feel like I'm there too.  I'm invested, I'm interested and I feel the emotions.  This book found me on a sad day and it wrapped around my heart in the best way.  

Charlotte is my favorite.  Drake was awesome too (he has the best one liners) but Charlotte.  I connected with her. She made me smile so many times and smiling always feels good.  She loves her boy, she's devoted to her new business project and she believes in love and maybe magic too.  "Miracles are magic brought to life."  Honestly, I want to be her friend. 

I loved this story, beginning to end.  It was such a happy escape.  I'm ready to read it again right now!

This book is on Kindle Unlimited if you have that!

Content:  kissing

- I received a complimentary copy of this book but have since bought my own copy.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Choices of the Heart (Hope Springs #7) by Sarah M. Eden


The paths of life that brought them together are destined to tear them apart.

Burke Jones began his life as a nameless orphan, dreaming of one day being a renowned doctor with a home and family to call his own. Sophie Kingston, daughter of an influential East Coast family, was destined to be an important and beloved part of Baltimore Society.

Life has not gone quite as either planned.

Now living in the home of a family friend, Sophie joins the lady on a journey to the tiny town of Hope Springs in Wyoming Territory. It is unlike any place she’s ever known. And the resident doctor is a mystery as well. Burke knows he isn’t the success he’d always imagined he would be, and seeing it through the eyes of this newly arrived Society lady only drives that home.

As Hope Springs begins to weave its magic, Sophie discovers more than she’d ever imagined, in both the town and its doctor. And Burke, who has always guarded his heart, begins to wonder if there might be more to life than he has previously imagined.

Their futures, however, do not lie along the same path or in the same destinations. Fate has once again proven unkind.

Can Hope Springs work yet another miracle?

It was so, so good to be back in Hope Springs once again with these people that have become so familiar and so embedded in my heart.  This series is one of my favorites because it is family, it is hope and it is love.  (And wouldn't it make a fantastic TV series?  I wish someone would do this!)

This particular novella shifts our focus to Burke and Sophie, who are technically not related by blood to the Hope Springs clan, but anyone who steps into Hope Springs becomes family and this is true for both Burke and Sophie.  Even though Burke and Sophie have a rough first meeting, things improve from there.  I love the friendship that blossomed and how their romantic interest grew.  Burke and Sophie both struggle with finding value in themselves and their place in society.  They both had things to reconcile and it was a great journey.  The whole story was so gentle and endearing.  I loved it.

I am anxiously (not patiently) awaiting Finbarr's story.  He appears in this book and it left me wanting more, more, more.  

If you haven't made the dive into this Hope Springs series, you really should.  

Content:  kissing

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

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Siren of Sussex (Belles of London #1) by Mimi Matthews + Excerpt


Victorian high society’s most daring equestrienne finds love and an unexpected ally in her fight for independence in the strong arms of London’s most sought after and devastatingly handsome half-Indian tailor.

Evelyn Maltravers understands exactly how little she’s worth on the marriage mart. As an incurable bluestocking from a family tumbling swiftly toward ruin, she knows she’ll never make a match in a ballroom. Her only hope is to distinguish herself by making the biggest splash in the one sphere she excels: on horseback. In haute couture. But to truly capture London’s attention she’ll need a habit-maker who’s not afraid to take risks with his designs—and with his heart.

Half-Indian tailor Ahmad Malik has always had a talent for making women beautiful, inching his way toward recognition by designing riding habits for Rotten Row’s infamous Pretty Horsebreakers—but no one compares to Evelyn. Her unbridled spirit enchants him, awakening a depth of feeling he never thought possible.

But pushing boundaries comes at a cost and not everyone is pleased to welcome Evelyn and Ahmad into fashionable society. With obstacles spanning between them, the indomitable pair must decide which hurdles they can jump and what matters most: making their mark or following their hearts?

Amazon * Goodreads *

Wow, here's another layered, intricate work by author Mimi Matthews.  The attention to detail about the time in history and Ahmad's work as a tailor is fantastic.  It really set the stage and the mood for the characters to flourish.

Both Evelyn and Ahmad were so easy to like and settle in with.  Of course, we've seen glimpses of Ahmad in a previous book so it was a real treat to go in depth with him in this story.  His back story is one that tugs at your heart.  I loved the pull I felt toward the characters and how I constantly wanted the very best for them.  Invested.  That's what I was.  And that's the best place to be as a reader.  This comes as no surprise to me though, as author Mimi Matthews proves this with every book she writes.  

I'm excited for this beginning of a new series.  This group of ladies is certainly going to be entertaining.  We get a little sneak peek at the next book coming out this fall and it's going to be good!

Content:  kissing, mention of suicide, an unmarried couple living together, mention of prostitution.  Several instances of profanity (using God as an exclamation).

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

Enjoy the following excerpt from The Siren of Sussex!

A surge of disappointment dimmed Evelyn’s smile. It occurred to her, quite suddenly, how little she knew about him.

Of course, he must have a sweetheart. Heaven’s sake, he was probably married! Just because he didn’t wear a wedding band didn’t mean he didn’t have a wife—and probably several children besides. It was none of her affair.

She turned back to the shelves. “In that case . . . What about a romance?”

“No romances,” he said darkly.

“No?” Was he one of those stuffy men who disapproved of romance novels? Many did. Even so, she’d expected better of him. A man who designed clothing so beautifully shouldn’t be averse to sentiment. “What about this one, then? Silas Marner. It only came out last year.”

Mr. Malik drew it from the shelf. It was bound in brown cloth with gilt lettering on the spine. “What’s it about?”

“An individual and his place in society. The hero of the story is a weaver. A man with no family to speak of, who keeps himself apart from his community.”

“A bit too close to home.” He returned the book to the shelf. “She needs something bright. Something to boost her spirits.”

Evelyn wondered why. Was she ill? Melancholic? Had she had some sort of disappointment? “In that case”—she reached for a Jane Austen novel—“I recommend this one.”

He took it from her, giving the title a dubious glance. “Northanger Abbey.”

“It’s Miss Austen’s satire of a Gothic novel. A vastly entertaining read. It should take her mind off whatever it is that’s troubling her.”

Mr. Malik thumbed through the pages. His expression was doubtful.

“I confess,” she said “there is a romance in the story, but it’s witty rather than mawkish. I can’t imagine she won’t enjoy it.”

“It’s still a romance.”

A cough sounded nearby, along with the thump of books being shoved back on a shelf. It was a reminder that she and Mr. Malik weren’t alone. Far from it. The shop seemed to be growing busier.

Evelyn sunk her voice. “What does she have against romance?”

“Nothing,” he replied, his tone equally low. “I just don’t want her to get any ideas.”

“Ideas about what?”

“About happily-ever-afters.”

The wide swell of Evelyn’s skirts brushed his leg. She belatedly realized that she’d drawn closer to him. That their conversation had taken on an air of intimacy. “You object to them?”

“I don’t believe in fairy tales,” he said.

She gave him an amused look. “Is that what they are?”

“In my experience.”

“How illuminating.”

“Is it?” He turned another page.

“Indeed. You’re a cynic, Mr. Malik. I wouldn’t have thought it.”

“I’m a realist.”

“Happily-ever-afters are real. For some people, at least. And even if they weren’t . . . A little romance never hurt anyone.”

His eyes lifted to hers. There was an expression in them that was hard to read. “You think not?”

Butterflies unfurled their wings in her stomach. The same feeling she’d had when she’d first touched his hand. A fluttering, breathless sensation. As if her corset had been laced too tightly. “No,” she said. And then she thought of Fenny. “Not in a novel, anyway.”

His mouth curled into the barest hint of a smile.

Once again, she had the unsettling sensation that he could read her mind. She took a step back from him. “Forgive me, but I mustn’t linger. My maid is waiting for me.”

He closed the book, clutching it in his hand. “Thank you for your help.”

“It was my pleasure. I hope your . . .” Wife? Sweetheart? “I hope she enjoys the story.”

“My cousin.”

Evelyn nearly stumbled in the process of taking another step backward. “I beg your pardon?”

“The book is for my cousin.”

His words penetrated before she could school her features. She was certain an expression of relief passed over her face.

She was equally certain that he saw it.

Heaven only knew what he must think.

“Your cousin. Well, that’s . . . that’s splendid.” Splendid? Evelyn’s eyes closed against a swell of embarrassment. She was quite ready to disappear into a hole in the earth. She took another step back. “Please convey my regards.”

His smile broadened. “I shall.”

From THE SIREN OF SUSSEX published by arrangement with Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Mimi Matthews.

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Library JournalPublishers WeeklyBooklist, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, and two Siamese cats. Learn more online at  Photo by Berkley Jove (TR)

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Sunrise (Sky King Ranch #1) by Susan May Warren


Pilot Dodge Kingston has always been the heir to Sky King Ranch. But after a terrible family fight, he left to become a pararescue jumper. A decade later, he's headed home to the destiny that awaits him.

That's not all that's waiting for Dodge. His childhood best friend and former flame, Echo Yazzie, is a true Alaskan--a homesteader, dogsledder, and research guide for the DNR. Most of all, she's living a life Dodge knows could get her killed. One of these days she's going to get lost in the woods again, and his worst fear is that he won't be there to find her.

When one of Echo's fellow researchers goes missing, Echo sets out to find her, despite a blizzard, a rogue grizzly haunting the woods, and the biting cold. Plus, there's more than just the regular dangers of the Alaskan forests stalking her . . .

Will Dodge be able to find her in time? And if he does, is there still room for him in her heart?

 * Amazon * Goodreads *

Is it possible to be freezing cold just from reading a book?  Yes, yes it is.  This book is set in Alaska and man, I am so glad I don't live there!  I really don't think I could do it.  So. Much. Cold.  AND So. Many. Bears.  😨

I'm happy to be back into a new series by this author.  She really knows how to bring the adventure and danger into her books.  Her characters are humanly flawed but trying and not giving up which makes them so relatable and endearing.  Hurts definitely follow Dodge and Echo- between each other and with other people.  Watching them navigate those hurts and learning to forgive themselves and each other was satisfying.  I loved the pacing in this book and how it built in tension and purpose.  I can see the other stories forming from this one and I'm excited to follow this family through more adventures.

Content:  peril, violence, kissing.  Christian elements.

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

Friday, January 7, 2022

The Masked Fae (Royal Fae of Rose Briar Woods #1) by Shari L. Tapscott


Never make a bargain with one of the Fae.

It’s a rule everyone knows…and yet it’s one Alice’s family seems to ignore. After her brother loses their entire family fortune in a wager he cannot afford, Alice ventures into the Rose Briar Woods to make a deal with the formidable Fae marquis who now owns her family’s estate—a portrait in exchange for her brother’s freedom.

But instead of Lord Ambrose, the young artist meets a mysterious masked man who saves her when her carriage is attacked by goblins. Even though he warns her to leave the woods, Alice finds herself working in the marquis’s manor.

Right away, Alice realizes Lord Ambrose is not what she expects. He’s kind when the Fae are supposed to be cold, and he’s generous even though he wants to be rid of her. And more, he’s hiding a painful past—one that seems to have something to do with Alice herself.

Soon, Alice is torn between the handsome marquis and the dashing masked bandit who continues to visit her in the evenings, but her heart tells her something is amiss.

Because it seems very likely the two men Alice is taken with just might be the same man…

The Masked Fae is a breathtaking fantasy romance with a touch of angst and plenty of chemistry. Each book in the series is a complete story, and although it’s best to read them in order, there are no cliffhangers.

I'm always, always in for a new book by author Shari Tapscott.  Always.  I know exactly what I'm going to get and it's what I love, so yeah, always in.

What I super love about this particular book is that it has NO CLIFFHANGERS!!  YAY!!  I loved going into the story knowing that I would have resolution even though this is a continuing series.  Yes, there will be other books, but each can stand alone.  My heart loves this.

This story is my type of fantasy.  Give me some light fantasy elements and creatures, but with plenty of human emotion and romance.  That's how I like it and this author is really good at it.  I was invested in this story from the very beginning and that interest held tight the whole way through.  It was so good!  We get a sneak peek at the next book and I'm excited about it!  Yay for a new series from this author!

Content:  mild peril, mild violence, kissing.  Mention of death, gambling and substance abuse.

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

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Never Leave Me (Waters of Time #2) by Jody Hedlund


In the last stages of a genetic disease, Ellen Creighton has decided to live out her remaining days at the estate of her longtime friend Harrison Burlington. Harrison cares deeply for Ellen, but as a wheelchair-bound paraplegic, he's never allowed himself to get serious in a relationship. However, he's desperately trying to save her by finding the holy water that is believed to heal any disease.

When he locates two flasks, Ellen refuses to drink one of them because she believes the holy water killed her sister and father. In an effort to convince her to take it, Harrison ingests the contents first, and when Ellen witnesses the effects, she can no longer deny the power of the substance in the bottles. Dangerous criminals are also seeking the holy water, and Ellen soon learns they will go to any lengths to get the powerful drug--including sending her back into the past to find it for them.

Bestselling and award-winning author Jody Hedlund plunges you into the swiftly flowing river of history in a race against the clock in this breathtaking, emotional second Waters of Time story.

 * Goodreads * Amazon *

Yay!  Book two in this series is finally here!  I've been waiting to read this one because the first book was good and left things primed for this story.  You really need to read book one before reading this book.  The story is continuing and all the characters are in both books.  The first book really sets the stage for this one with background and explanations.

Time travel books are tricky to write, I think.  You have to make some sort of logical sense out of it and the author does a pretty good job of it here.  We start in the present day and are there for a bit, then we go with Ellen for a dip into the past.  It's quite eventful to say the least!  The first part of the book was really us getting to see Ellen and Harrison together, interacting and getting to know their relationship.  The second part was them apart, in desperate times, trying to help each other.  The pacing was good, building with tension and emotion all the way through.  

I especially loved Harrison.  He was so kind, gentle, and thoughtful.  Ever the gentleman.  He adored Ellen and it was expressed in his words and his actions.  He was the hero of this book for sure.  Harrison!  😍

This book was a good change of pace in my reading.  Time travel is a lesser written genre and I'm glad this author gave it a go.  It was fun!

Content:  peril, death, mild violence, kissing

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

Saturday, January 1, 2022

The Paid Bridesmaid by Sariah Wilson

Rachel Vinson is a bridesmaid for hire: part confidante, part wedding planner, and one hundred percent pretend BFF. Discretion guaranteed. Her next gig is a destination wedding—livestreamed and sponsored—for an Instagram influencer. That means a paradise of new contacts, which could be a boon to her already booming business. If Rachel can keep the very handsome and slightly too interested best man at bay, that is.

High-tech entrepreneur Camden Lewis must know: Who is this gorgeous, intelligent, and mysterious woman? Too good to be real. Convinced she’s a corporate spy out to tank his company, Camden’s not letting her out of his sight. But the constant surveillance is also opening his eyes to things about Rachel that he likes. If she’s a spy, she’s certainly the cutest one he’s ever seen.

As the week’s worth of wedding events march along, Rachel and Camden are learning almost everything there is to know about each other. Rachel’s made a career out of always a bridesmaid…but perhaps there’s a chance for her own trip down the aisle? 

I always feel so lucky when I get to read a book by Sariah Wilson.  Especially when I get an early copy!  I know that I am going to get a book with fantastic characters and plenty of humor and romance.  Her books always hit my sweet spot!
This book has such a great set up.  First, tropical location.  Yes.  I was wishing all the way through that I was there too.  Second, Rachel has a top secret job: paid bridesmaid.  It sure makes it difficult when the hot best man is flirting with you but also has his spidey senses going off.  Because, yeah.  Something IS going on but Rachel can't tell him.  See?  It's a great set up and such a unique job for Rachel.  It all felt very fresh.
There was great build up with the characters and great chemistry too.  The flirting was fun and it made me smile.   Also, the kissing.  Oh!  And the ending.  <swoon>  So good.  What a lovely diversion.
- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.