Saturday's Series Spotlight

Saturday's Series Spotlight
Saturday's Series Spotlight

Maverick Fakes a Bride

Maverick Fakes a Bride
The Maverick Fakes a Bride by Christine Rimmer

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday's Series Spotlight: Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly- Feature and Review





Welcome to The Book Review's SATURDAY'S SERIES SPOTLIGHT !!





What is a series spotlight, you ask?

I am always starting a new book series, but I also have a habit of starting long running series, which means I get to hunt down all the volumes, hoping to read them from start to finish.  This means I get to enjoy older books that are a new discovery for me.  Unfortunately, older =books don't get the same interest as new releases, which means my readers may be missing out on some really great books.

So, each Saturday, I will feature a book from a series I am working my through them. Mostly, I  will highlight a long running series, but I will also feature new ones too, and keep you posted on the latest installments.

THIS WEEK'S SATURDAY SERIES SPOTLIGHT IS ON SOFIE KELLY'S MAGICAL CAT MYSTERY SERIES: 

THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES IS: CURIOSITY THRILLED THE CAT:



ABOUT THE BOOK:


When librarian Kathleen Paulson moved to Mayville Heights, Minnesota, she had no idea that two strays would nuzzle their way into her life. Owen is a tabby with a catnip addiction and Hercules is a stocky tuxedo cat who shares Kathleen's fondness for Barry Manilow. But beyond all the fur and purrs, there's something more to these felines.

When murder interrupts Mayville's Music Festival, Kathleen finds herself the prime suspect. More stunning is her realization that Owen and Hercules are magical-and she's relying on their skills to solve a purr-fect murder.
 

READ AN EXCERPT:







MY REVIEW:


Curiosity Thrilled the Cat (A Magical Cats Mystery, #1)Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat: A Magical Cats Mystery by Sofie Kelly is a 2011 NAL publication.

Cats, libraries and books are a winning trifecta, and they tend to complement each other, especially well when these three elements apply to mystery novels. So, it’s no surprise that there is no shortage of mystery series, especially in the cozy genre, featuring cats, books, and libraries, in one combination or another.

I wasn’t sure about this series when it was recommended to me, because, although I love it when pets and animals have a role in a story, I’m not especially fond of the magical or paranormal elements, since, well, it’s just too silly for me. But, in this case, I found the entire story very charming. The mystery is solid, well plotted, with quick pacing, strong dialogue, with a little humor sprinkled in along the way.

Hercules and Owen, Kathleen Paulson’s adopted cats, are ‘special’, and they do help Kathleen find clues, in small ways, but I found myself caught up in the spirt of the book, and enjoyed the pure whimsy of it. In fact, the cats are what made the book so utterly charming.

Kathleen is a likeable character who is licking her wounds after a bad break up, and adjusting to small town life, as well as her decision to try a super short hairdo, which is driving her nuts. (I can relate!) Her new job as the town’s librarian is fraught with a plethora of issues due to a major renovation, which is not going so well.

But, when Kathleen finds the body of a famous, and difficult, musical conductor, things get a whole lot worse when she discovers she is suspect number one.

Things get dicey from there as she copes with Marcus, the detective working the case, and a string of ‘accidents’, as well as feeling as though someone doesn’t want the library renovated, for some reason.

This first book in a series, sets the stage for future installments, giving it a nice foundation to build on. So, overall, this one turned out to be an unexpected pleasure, so I’ll be adding yet another series to my enormous TBR pile.





GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Curiosity-Thrilled-Cat-Magical-Mystery-ebook/dp/B004H4XI40/



https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/curiosity-thrilled-the-cat-sofie-kelly/1100059264

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Sofie Kelly is the pseudonym of young adult writer and mixed-media artist, Darlene Ryan. As Sofie Kelly she writes the Magical Cats mysteries. And as Sofie Ryan she writes the Second Chance Cats series. Sofie/Darlene lives on the east coast with her husband and daughter. In her spare time she practices Wu style tai chi and likes to prowl around thrift stores. And she admits to having a small crush on Matt Lauer.

Friday, June 23, 2017

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- The Sandalwood Princess by Loretta Chase- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:



Determined to uncover who stole her sandalwood statue, Amanda Cavencourt - an Englishwoman living in India - is shocked to learn the culprit is a notorious rogue known as the Falcon. Why would a man renowned for his dangerous and delicate missions indulge in petty thievery? Intrigued by the mystery — and rumors of the Falcon's devilish charm and good looks—Amanda sets out on the trail of the brazen blackguard. But what she stumbles upon is a man who just may be her perfect match....



READ AN EXCERPT:





MY REVIEW:

The Sandalwood PrincessThe Sandalwood Princess by Loretta Chase
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is technically considered a "Regency" romance. True, it is set during the Regency period, and part of the story does take place in Yorkshire. However, this is not one of those polite Regency novels fixated on manners, "the season" or ball gowns.

The book starts off in India. Amanda is given a statue by her good friend The Rani. A legend surrounds the statue, but Amanda has no idea the monetary value of the relic. Amanda has the statue for less than an hour before she is attacked and the statue is stolen from her.

It also, just so happens, that Amanda, along with Rani's 'Cook', and her lady's maid have boarded the ship where the renowned thief, 'The Falcon' has also booked passage.


After such a fast start, pacing slowed considerably, but they are all on board for eight months, and due to a little mistaken identity, Philip, -aka- 'The Falcon', and Amanda begin to spend time together. The chemistry between them is very strong, and an attraction develops between them.

The second half of the book picks up speed a little as we watch the doomed relationship between Phillip and Amanda develop.

 The question is: Who will betray whom?

I really enjoyed this light, and clever romance, which included a touch of intrigue. Originally published  by Avon in 1990, the story doesn't appear very dated at all.  The sensuality is almost G rated. Kissing and very mild innuendo only. The story was so good though, I don't think you will miss that element.


GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Sandalwood-Princess-Loretta-Chase-ebook/dp/B00A4GPDI4/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sandalwood-princess-loretta-chase/1002292800


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Loretta Lynda Chekani was born in 1949, of Albanian ancestry. For her, the trouble started when she learned to write in first grade. Before then, she had been making up her own stories but now she knew how to write them down to share. In her teenage years, she continue to write letters, keep a journal, write poetry and even attempt the Great American Novel (still unfinished). She attended New England public schools, before she went off to college and earned an English degree from Clark University.

After graduation, she worked a variety of jobs at Clark including a part-time teaching post. She was also moonlighting as a video scriptwriter. It was there that she met a video producer who inspired her to write novels and marry him. Under her married name, Loretta Chase, has been publishing historical romance novels since 1987. Her books have won many awards, including the Romance Writers of America RITA.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Aunt Dimity & the Widow's Curse- by Nancy Atherton- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:


Nancy Atherton's twenty-second cozy mystery in the beloved, nationally bestselling Aunt Dimity series.
It's early April in the small English village of Finch. Lori Shepherd's husband and sons are spending Easter break camping, and Lori is perfectly happy to be left at home with Bess, spared a week of roughing it with a curious toddler. The two attend a village events committee meeting and Lori is astonished when the elderly, soft-spoken widow Mrs. Annabelle Craven stands to make an announcement: she's decided to hold a quilting bee in the old schoolhouse.
At the quilting bee, Lori ends up seated beside Mrs. Craven, delighted at the opportunity to learn more about her neighbor's life in the village of Old Cowerton. But dear, sweet Mrs. Craven's stories reveal a startling secret about her first husband's death.
With Aunt Dimity's advice, Lori sets out to learn the truth about what the residents of Old Cowerton refer to as the "widow's curse"--and the deeper she digs, the more horrifying the tale becomes, until she discovers the most astounding revelation of all.
 


READ AN EXCERPT:




MY REVIEW:

Aunt Dimity and the Widow's Curse (Aunt Dimity Mystery)Aunt Dimity and the Widow's Curse by Nancy Atherton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Aunt Dimity and the Widow’s Curse by Nancy Atherton is a 2017 Viking Books publication.

Another wonderful visit with Lori and the gang in the friendly, but gossipy, village of Finch!!


I know I’ve told this story before, but Aunt Dimity is a special series for me. It is the first ‘modern’ cozy series I ever read. I usually grabbed the darkest, most twisted mystery/suspense novels on the market, but I received an ‘Aunt Dimity’ book as a gift, and eventually, mostly out of pure, and quite skeptical, curiosity, I finally decided to give it a try.

I’ve been a cozy mystery fan ever since. This series still remains one of my favorites, and is always consistent, never losing its charm, even after twenty-two installments!

In this chapter, Lori’s elderly friend and champion quilter, Mrs. Craven, makes a startling confession to Lori, that has her very worried. Concerned, Lori and Bree, set off to Old Cowerton, looking for proof to back up Mrs. Craven’s claims, and will have you asking, ‘How well do I really know my neighbors?’



The author immediately puts me into a Cotswolds state of mind in the first chapter, reacquainting me with the village regulars, and reminding me of the quirky, but wonderful, homey, sense of community that Finch offers.

From there, we learn Bob and the boys are camping, which leaves Lori free to pursue her ‘case’ at Aunt Dimity’s urging.

For those of you, who follow this series, you know that these mysteries are not the traditional murder variety, and are usually more about the characters, but does indeed solve a mystery along the way. While, Lori’s amateur sleuthing skills are a bit unconventional, they eventually get the job done, with the help of 'Aunt Dimity'.

*It's not absolutely necessary to read the series from start to finish to enjoy the later installments. I've skipped around quite a bit myself, but I would check out a few older installments for background so you will understand the characters and setting more.

I especially enjoyed this installment, which calls attention selfless acts of kindness, which often pays off in ways we never thought possible. The characters Lori and Bree meet in Old Cowerton, were well drawn, and the plot is rich with deceptively benign details, that come together quite nicely.

There are some laugh out loud moments, some girl bonding, and a host of interesting characters to round out the puzzling mystery behind the seemingly angelic, Mrs. Craven. The story ends with a nice warm and fuzzy feeling, but, as always, I’m always sad to have to end my visit with these characters, all of whom feel like old family friends.

So, until next time…

GET YOUR COPY HERE:
https://www.amazon.com/Aunt-Dimity-Widows-Curse-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01KGZVWTG/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/aunt-dimity-and-the-widows-curse-nancy-atherton/1124367956

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Nancy Atherton is not a white-haired Englishwoman with a softly wrinkled face, a wry smile, and wise gray eyes, nor does she live in a thatched cottage behind a babbling brook in a tranquil, rural corner of the Cotswolds.

She has never taken tea with a vicar (although she drank an Orange Squash with one once) and she doesn't plan to continue writing after her allotted time on earth (though such plans are, as well all know, subject to change without notice).

If you prefer to envision her as an Englishwoman, she urges you to cling to your illusions at all costs -- she treasures carefully nurtured illusions. She also urges you to read no further.

Because the truth is that Nancy Atherton is a dark-haired American with a generally unwrinkled face, a beaming smile, and hazel eyes, who lives in a plain house in Colorado Springs. She comes from a large, gregarious family (five brothers and two sisters!) and enjoys socializing as much as she enjoys solitude.

So if you are looking for her at a convention, don't look for a stately grande dame in a flowery dress. Look for a woman in jeans and sneakers who's bounding around like a hyperactive gerbil.

That'll be her. And she'd love to meet you.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Maverick Fakes a Bride by Christine Rimmer - Feature and Review



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Do You Take This (Faux) Fiancee?

Rust Creek Ramblings

All the single ladies in Rust Creek Falls know Travis Dalton. And they all know the sexy, rascally rancher is not the marrying kind. So how is it that our town's most notorious bachelor has wound up engaged on a Western reality TV show?

We here at the Gazette are pleased The Great Roundup has chosen our hometown heartbreaker as a contestant. And we are definitely rooting for Travis's unexpected union with childhood friend Brenna O'Reilly, the one girl we believe can keep this cowboy on his toes. But is it true this betrothal is strictly a fabrication for the cameras? Pass the popcorn, dear readers. We suspect this made-for-TV romance could be headed straight for a Hollywood happy ending!

READ AN EXCERPT:


It was a warm day for March. And everyone in Bee’s Beauty Parlor that afternoon had gathered at the wide front windows to watch as Travis Dalton rode his favorite bay gelding down Broomtail Road.

The guy was every cowgirl’s fantasy in a snug Western shirt, butt-hugging jeans, Tony Lama boots and a black hat. One of those film school graduates from the little theater in nearby Kalispell, a video camera stuck to his face, walked backward ahead of him, recording his every move. Travis talked and gestured broadly as he went.

“My, my, my.” Bee smoothed her brassy blond hair, though it didn’t need it. Even in a high wind, Bee’s hair never moved. “Travis does have one fine seat on a horse.”

There were soft, low sounds of agreement and appreciation from the women at the window—and then, out of nowhere, Travis tossed his hat in the air and flipped to a handstand right there on that horse in the middle of the street.

The women applauded. There was more than one outright cry of delight.

Only Brenna O’Reilly stood still and silent. She had her arms wrapped around her middle to keep from clapping, and she’d firmly tucked her lips between her teeth in order not to let out a single sound.

Because no way was Brenna sighing over Travis Dalton. Yes, he was one hot cowboy, with that almost-black hair and those dangerous blue eyes, that hard, lean body, and that grin that could make a girl’s lady parts spontaneously combust.

And it wasn’t only his looks that worked for her. Sometimes an adventurous woman needed a hero on hand. Travis had come to her rescue more than once in her life.

But he’d always made a big deal about how he was too old for her—and okay, maybe he’d had a point, back when she was six and he was fourteen. But now that she’d reached the grown-up age of twenty-six, what did eight years even matter?

Never mind. Not going to happen, Brenna reminded herself for the ten thousandth time. And no matter what people in town might say, she was not and never had been in love with the man.

Right now, today, she was simply appreciating the view, which was spectacular.

Beside her, Dovey Jukes actually let out a moan and made a big show of fanning herself. “Is it just me, or is it really hot in here?”

“This is his, er, what did you call it now, Melba?” Bee asked old Melba Strickland, who’d come out from under the dryer to watch the local heartthrob ride by.

“It’s his package,” replied Melba.

Dovey snickered.

Bee let out her trademark smoke-and-whiskey laugh. “Not that kind of package.” She gave Dovey a playful slap on the arm.

“It’s reality television slang,” Melba clarified. “Tessa told me all about it.” Melba’s granddaughter lived in Los Angeles now. Tessa Strickland Drake had a high-powered job in advertising and understood how things worked in the entertainment industry. “A package is an audition application and video.”

“Audition for what?” one of the other girls asked.

“A brand-new reality show.” Melba was in the know. “It’s going to get made at a secret location right here in Montana this summer, and it will be called The Great Roundup. From what I heard, it’s going to be like Survivor, but with cowboys—you know, roping and branding, bringing in the strays, everyone sharing their life stories around the campfire, sleeping out under the stars, answering challenge after challenge, trying not to get eliminated. The winner will earn himself a million-dollar prize.”

Brenna, who’d never met a challenge she couldn’t rise to, clutched the round thermal brush in her hand a little tighter and tried to ignore the tug of longing in heart. After all, she’d been raised on the family ranch and could rope and ride with the best of them. She couldn’t help but imagine herself on this new cowboy reality show.

True, lately, she’d been putting in some serious effort to quell her wild and crazy side, to settle down a little, you might say.

But a reality show? She could enjoy the excitement while accomplishing a valid goal of winning those big bucks. A few months ago, Bee had started dating a handsome sixtyish widower from Kalispell. Now that things had gotten serious, she’d been talking about selling the shop and retiring so she and her new man could travel. Brenna would love to step up as owner when Bee left.

But that would cost money she didn’t have. If she won a million dollars on a reality show, however, she could buy the shop and still have plenty of money to spare.

And then again, no. Trying out for a reality show was a crazy idea, and Brenna was keeping a lid on her wild side, she truly was. The Great Roundup was not for her.

She asked wistfully, “You think Travis has a chance to be on the show?”

“Are you kidding?” Bee let out a teasing growl. “Those Hollywood people would be crazy not to choose him. And if the one doing the choosing is female, all that man has to do is give her a smile.”

Every woman at that window enthusiastically agreed.

*

First week of May, a studio soundstage, Los Angeles, California

Travis Dalton hooked his booted foot across his knee and relaxed in the interview chair.

It was happening. Really happening. His video had wowed them. And his application? He’d broken all the rules with it, just like that book he’d bought—Be a Reality Star—had instructed. He’d used red ink, added lots of silly Western doodles and filled it chock-full of colorful stories of his life on the family ranch.

He’d knocked them clean out of their boots, if he did say so himself. And now here he was in Hollywood auditioning for The Great Roundup.

“Tell us about growing up on a ranch,” said the casting director, whose name was Giselle. Giselle dressed like a fashion model. She had a way of making a guy feel like she could see inside his head. Sharp. That was the word for Giselle. Sharp—and interested. Her calculating eyes watched him so closely.

Which was fine. Good. He wanted her looking at him with interest. He wanted to make the cut, get on The Great Roundup and win himself a million bucks.

Travis gave a slow grin in the general direction of one of the cameras that recorded every move he made. “I grew up on my family’s ranch in northwestern Montana.” He was careful to include Giselle’s question in his answer, in case they ended up using this interview in the show. Then they could cut Giselle’s voice out and what he said would still make perfect sense. “My dad put me on a horse for the first time at the age of five. Sometimes it feels like I was born in the saddle.”

Giselle and her assistant nodded their approval as he went on—about the horses he’d trained and the ones that had thrown him. About the local rodeos where he’d been bucked off more than one bad-tempered bull—and made it all the way to eight full seconds on a few. He thought it was going pretty well, that he was charming them, winning them over, showing them he wasn’t shy, that an audience would love him.

“Can you take off your shirt for us, Travis?”

He’d assumed that would be coming. Rising, Travis unbuttoned and shrugged out of his shirt. At first, he kept it all business, no funny stuff. They needed to get a good look at the body that ranching had built and he kept in shape. He figured they wouldn’t be disappointed.

But they wanted to see a little personality, too, so when Giselle instructed, “Turn around slowly,” he held out his arms, bending his elbows and bringing them down, giving them the cowboy version of a bodybuilder’s flex. As he turned, he grabbed his hat off the back of his chair and plunked it on his head, aiming his chin to the side, giving them a profile shot, and then going all the way with a slow grin and a wink over his shoulder.

The casting assistant, Roxanne, stifled a giggle as she grinned right back.

“Go ahead and sit back down,” Giselle said. She wasn’t flirty like Roxanne, but in her sharp-edged way she seemed happy with how the interview was shaking out.

Travis took off his hat again. He bent to get his shirt.

“Leave it,” said Giselle.

He gave her a slight nod and no smile as he settled back into the chair. Because this was serious business. To him—and to her.

“Now we want to know about that hometown of yours.” Giselle almost smiled then, though really it was more of a smirk. “We’ve been hearing some pretty crazy things about Rust Creek Falls.”

Was he ready for that one? You bet he was. His town had been making news the past few years. First came the flood. He explained about the Fourth of July rains that wouldn’t stop and all the ways the people of Rust Creek Falls had pulled together to come back from the worst disaster in a century. He spoke of rebuilding after the waters receded, of the national attention and the sudden influx of young women who had come to town to find themselves a cowboy.

When Giselle asked if any of those women had found him, he answered in a lazy drawl, “To tell you the truth, I met a lot of pretty women after the great flood.” He put his right hand on his chest. “Each one of them holds a special place in my heart.”

Roxanne had to stifle another giggle.

Giselle sent her a cool look. Roxanne’s smile vanished as if it had never been. “Tell us more,” said Giselle.

And he told them about a certain Fourth of July wedding almost two years ago now, a wedding in Rust Creek Falls Park. A local eccentric by the name of Homer Gilmore had spiked the wedding punch with his special recipe moonshine—purported to make people do things they would never do ordinarily.

“A few got in fights,” he confessed, “present company included, I’m sorry to say.” He made an effort to look appropriately embarrassed at his own behavior before adding, “And a whole bunch of folks got romantic—and that meant that last year, Rust Creek Falls had a serious baby boom. You might have heard of that. We called it the baby bonanza. So now we have what amounts to a population explosion in our little town. Nobody’s complaining, though. In Rust Creek Falls, love and family is what it’s all about.”

Travis explained that he wanted to join the cast of The Great Roundup for the thrill of it—and he also wanted to be the last cowboy standing. He had a fine life working the Dalton family ranch, but the million-dollar prize would build him his own house on the land he loved and put a little money in the bank, too.

“I’m not getting any younger,” he admitted with a smile he hoped came across as both sexy and modest. “One of these days, I might even want to find the right girl and settle down.”

Giselle, who had excellent posture in the first place, seemed to sit up even straighter, like a prize hunting dog catching a scent. “The right girl? Interesting.” She glanced at Roxanne, who bobbed her head in an eager nod. “Is there anyone special you’ve got your eye on?”

There was no one, and there probably wouldn’t be any time soon. But he got Giselle’s message loud and clear. For some reason, the casting director would prefer that he had a sweetheart.

And what Giselle preferred, Travis Dalton was bound and determined to deliver. “Is there a special woman in my life? Well, she’s avery private person.”

“That would be yes, then. You’re exclusive with someone?”

Damn. Message received, loud and clear. He wasn’t getting out of this without confessing—or lying through his teeth. And since he intended to get on the show, he knew what his choice had to be.

“I don’t want to speak out of hand, but yeah. There is a special someone in my life now. Wehaven’t been together long, but…” He let out a low whistle and pasted on an expression that he hoped would pass for completely smitten. “Oh, yeah. Special would be the word for her.”

“Is this special someone a hometown girl?” Giselle’s eyes twinkled in a way that was simultaneously aggressive, gleeful and calculating.

“She’s from Rust Creek Falls, yes. And she’s amazing.” Whoever the hell she is. “It’s the greatest thing in the world, to know someone your whole life and then suddenly to realize there’s a lot more going on between the two of you than you’ve ever admitted before.” Whoa. He probably ought to be ashamed of himself. His mama had brought him up right, taught him not to tell lies. But who did this little white lie hurt, anyway? Not a soul. And to get on The Great Roundup, Travis Dalton would tell Giselle whatever she needed to hear.

“What’s her name?” asked Giselle. It was the next logical question, damn it. He should have known it was coming.

He put on his best killer smile—and lied some more. “Sorry, I can’t tell you her name. You know small towns.” Giselle frowned. She might be sharp as a barb-wire fence, but he would bet his Collin Traub dress saddle that she’d never been within a hundred miles of a town like Rust Creek Falls. “We’re keeping what we have together just between the two of us, my girl and me. It’s a special time in our relationship, and we don’t want the whole town butting into our private business.” A special time. Damned if he didn’t sound downright sensitive—for a bald-faced liar. But would the casting director buy it?

Giselle didn’t seem all that thrilled with his unwillingness to out his nonexistent girlfriend, but at least she let it go. A few minutes later, she gave the cameraman a break. Then she chatted with Travis off the record for a couple of minutes more. She said she’d heard he was staying at the Malibu house of LA power player Carson Drake, whose wife, Tessa Strickland Drake, had deep Montana roots. Travis explained that he’d known Tessa all his life. She’d grown up in Bozeman, but she spent most of her childhood summers staying at her grandmother’s boardinghouse in Rust Creek Falls.

After the chitchat, Giselle asked him to have a seat outside. He put on his shirt and grabbed a chair in the waiting area next to a water cooler and vending machine. For the next few hours, he watched potential contestants come and go.

It was past six when they called him back in to tell him that he wouldn’t be returning to Malibu that night—or any time soon, as it turned out. Real Deal Entertainment would put him up in a hotel room instead.

*

Travis lived in that hotel room for two weeks at Real Deal’s beck and call. He took full advantage of room service, and he worked out in the hotel fitness center to pass the time while he got his background checked and his blood drawn. He even got interviewed by a shrink, who asked a lot of way-too-personal questions. There were also a series of follow-up meetings with casting people and producers. At the two-week mark, in a Century City office tower, he got a little quality time with a bunch of network suits.

That evening, absolutely certain he’d made the show, he raided the minibar in his room and raised a toast to his success.

Hot damn, he’d done it! He was going to be a contestant on The Great Roundup. He would have his shot at a cool million bucks.

And he would win, too. Damned if he wouldn’t. He would build his own house on the family ranch and get more say in the day-to-day running of the place. His older brother, Anderson, made most of the decisions now. But if Travis had some hard cash to invest, his big brother would take him more seriously. Travis would step up as a real partner in running the ranch.

Being the good-time cowboy of the family had been fun. But there comes a point when every man has to figure out what to do with his life. Travis had reached that point. And The Great Roundup was going to take him where he needed to go.

The next morning, a car arrived to deliver him to the studio, where he sat in another waiting area outside a different soundstage with pretty much the same group of potential contestants he’d sat with two weeks before. One by one, they were called through the door. They all emerged smiling to be swiftly led away by their drivers.

When Travis’s turn came, he walked onto the soundstage to find Giselle and Roxanne and a couple producers waiting at a long table. The camera was rolling. Except for that meeting in the office tower with the suits and a that session involving lawyers with papers to sign, a camera had been pointed at him every time they talked to him.

Giselle said, “Have a seat, Travis.” He took the lone chair facing the others at the table. “We have some great news for you.”

He knew it, he was in! He did a mental fist pump.

But then Giselle said, “You’ve made the cut for the final audition.”

What the hell? Another audition?

“You’ll love this, Travis.” Giselle watched him expectantly as she announced, “The final audition will be in Rust Creek Falls.”

Wait. What?

She went on, “As it happens, your hometown is not far from the super-secret location where The Great Roundup will be filmed. And since your first audition, we have been busy…”

Dirk Henley, one of the producers, chimed in. “We’ve been in touch with the mayor and the town council.”

“Of Rust Creek Falls?” Travis asked, feeling dazed. He was still trying to deal with the fact that there was more auditioning to get through. He couldn’t believe she’d just said the audition would be happening in his hometown.

“Of course, of Rust Creek Falls.” Giselle actually smiled, a smile that tried to be indulgent but was much too full of sharp white teeth to be anything but scary.

Dirk took over again. “Mayor Traub and the other council members are excited to welcome Real Deal Entertainment to their charming little Montana town.”

Travis valiantly remained positive. Okay, he hadn’t made the final cut, but he was still in the running and that was what mattered.

As for the final audition happening at home, well, now that he’d had a second or two to deal with that information, he supposed he wasn’t all that surprised.

For a show like The Great Roundup, his hometown was a location scout’s dream come true. And the mayor and the council would say yes to the idea in a New York minute. The movers and shakers of Rust Creek Falls had gotten pretty ambitious in the last few years. They were always open to anything that might bring attention, money and/or jobs to town. Real Deal Entertainment should be good for at least the first two.

Dirk said, “We’ll be sending Giselle, Roxanne, a camera crew and a few production people along with you for a last on-camera group audition.”

Giselle showed more teeth. “We’re going to put you and your fellow finalists in your own milieu, you might say.”

Dirk nodded his approval. “And that milieu is a very atmospheric cowboy bar with which I’m sure you are familiar.”

There was only one bar inside the Rust Creek Falls town limits. Travis named it. “The Ace.”

“That’s right!” Dirk beamed. “The Ace in the Hole, which we love.”

What did that even mean? They loved the name? Must be it. No Hollywood type would actually love the Ace. It was a down-home, no-frills kind of place.

Dirk was still talking. “We’ll be taking over ‘the Ace’—” he actually air quoted it “—for a night of rollicking country fun. You know, burgers and brews and a country-western band. We want to see you get loose, kick over the traces, party in a purely cowboy sort of way. It will be fabulous. You’re going to have a great time.” He nodded at the other producer, who nodded right back. “I’m sure we’ll get footage we can use on the show.”

And then Giselle piped up with, “And Travis…” Her voice was much too casual, much too smooth. “We want you to bring your fiancée along to the audition. We love what you’ve told us about her, and we can’t wait to meet her.”



MY REVIEW:


The Maverick Fakes a Bride! (Montana Mavericks: The Great Family Roundup #1)The Maverick Fakes a Bride! by Christine Rimmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Maverick Fakes a Bride by Christine Rimmer is a 2017 Harlequin Special Edition publication.

What a cute story!!

Homer makes a small appearance in this reality show based story centered around Travis Dalton and Brenna O’Reilly.

Travis has auditioned for the reality show, ‘The Great Roundup’, but before he can make the final cut, he must convince his fiancé to join him on the show. The problem is, he doesn’t have a fiancé!! With a million dollars on the line, Travis convinces his long time friend, Brenna to join him on the show and pretend to be his fiancé.



Brenna has loved Travis since she was six years old, but he has always said he was too old for her. Her feelings haven’t changed, so the chance to play the role of his fiancé is too good to pass up. But, as much as she would like to win that million dollars, she would like to win Travis's heart, even more.

However, once they make it onto the show, they are informed of one more shocking task the show's staff insist they perform- if they win, they will have their wedding during the show's finale! OOPS!!

This may be the hottest reality show, ever!!

Okay, in all honesty, I do not watch reality shows. But, if you are on social media at all, it is impossible to avoid snippets of them, conversations about them and comments between friends, or on Twitter trends. So, I ‘get’ the general idea of how it all works.

I think the author did an admirable job of authentically presenting these shows and the various ploys contestants use to give them an edge.

But, for me, the romance between Travis and Brenna was the main focus and would have worked in any setting. Brenna’s one -sided love affair with Travis makes the story slightly poignant, because all of her proclamations of love have a note of truth to them, while Travis is merely acting… at least at first.



 The story is light, very fast paced, and truly delightful. Watching Travis realize his feelings for Brenna was very romantic and I loved the little surprise twist at the end!

I really had a lot of fun with this one! It may not convince you to start watching reality TV, but it will convince you of true love, and happily ever after.


GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Maverick-Fakes-Bride-Montana-Mavericks/dp/0373623569/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-maverick-fakes-a-bride-christine-rimmer/1125315020


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



A New York Times and USA-Today bestselling author, Christine Rimmer has written more than 100 contemporary romances for Harlequin Books. A reader favorite, Christine has won Romantic Times BOOKreview's Reviewer's Choice Award for best Silhouette Special Edition. She has been nominated seven times for the Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award and five times for Romantic Times Series Storyteller of the Year. Christine lives in Oregon with her family.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

A shocking discovery and chilling secrets converge in this latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf 

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters--her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?

New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf has been described as "masterful" and "intelligent" and compared to Lisa Scottoline and Jodi Picoult. Introducing her most compelling heroine yet, she delivers a taut and emotional thriller that proves she's at the top of her class.

LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:





MY REVIEW:


Not a SoundNot a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf is a 2017 Park Row Books publication.

This novel delves deeper than the taut, suspenseful elements, touching upon some timely issues, while creating a sympathetic character, in Amelia Winn, that is at once vulnerable, but whose resilience is inspiring.

Amelia Winn is an RN, happily married, with a step daughter she adores, when her life changes on a dime. She is left profoundly deaf after a horrific car crash. Her equilibrium is knocked out of whack in more ways than one, and she turns to alcohol to cope, which causes her marriage to end.

Now, she is slowly fighting her way back, looking for work, and trying to be a mom to her beloved step daughter, with the help of her good friend, Jake, and ‘Stitch’, her therapy dog. Yet, just before a promising job interview, Amelia discovers the body of a woman she was once friends with, and her life once more spirals into dangerous territory.

The story got off to a deceptively slow start, but the isolated atmosphere was perfect for eliciting a few spine tingles, setting the stage for some tense, nerve wracking suspense.

It is hard enough to find oneself in imminent danger, but it’s doubly hard when you are handicapped in some way. Amelia’s deafness puts her in a perilous situation, when she begins to dig into the circumstances of her friend’s death, and someone isn’t pleased about it.

While this approach has shown up in books, television, and movies, it never fails to make me nervous, making my palms to sweat. The final showdown nearly gave me a heart attack, but on a more serious note, the author delved into some uncomfortable topics, such as cancer, and the dangerous temptations, some healthcare providers may entertain, which should send even more chills down your spine.

The downside is a certain amount of predictability since I think seasoned readers will have the ‘who’ part figured out, although that really doesn’t have much of an effect on the suspense levels, in my opinion. However, there were some implausible moments, here and there, and the wrap up was too brisk, with some issues hurriedly glossed over.

On the plus side, Stitch is a real hero, and I love it when a book showcases the work these specially trained dogs do for humans.

Overall, this is a very suspenseful, thought provoking psychological thriller.

GET YOU COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Not-Sound-Thriller-Heather-Gudenkauf-ebook/dp/B01M8M9IW1/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/not-a-sound-heather-gudenkauf/1124894575

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence, These Things Hidden and One Breath Away. She lives in Iowa with her family.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowtiz- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:
From the New York Times bestselling author of Moriarty and Trigger Mortis, this fiendishly brilliant, riveting thriller weaves a classic whodunit worthy of Agatha Christie into a chilling, ingeniously original modern-day mystery.

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.

Masterful, clever, and relentlessly suspenseful, Magpie Murdersis a deviously dark take on vintage English crime fiction in which the reader becomes the detective.
 

LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:





MY REVIEW:





Magpie MurdersMagpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz is a 2017 Harper publication.

Shrewd, cunning, intelligent, and ingenious!

I love the golden age of mysteries, but, of course, I also love present -day mysteries, too. This book gave me both of those things in one novel!

How is this for a setup?

Susan Ryeland is an editor for Cloverleaf Books. She plans to spend her weekend reading the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest Atticus Pudd mystery, entitled ‘Magpie Murders’. The reader is allowed to read along with Susan, and pretty soon I found myself enjoying an absorbing historical mystery, set in the mid-fifties, the style of which bears a strong resemblance to that of Agatha Christie. But, just as the murderer is about to be revealed, Susan makes the horrific discovery that the last few chapters of the manuscript were not included. In fact, they are missing!!

If that weren’t bad enough, she soon hears that Alan Conway is dead, after allegedly committing suicide. It is more imperative than ever that Susan finds those missing chapters, because Cloverleaf Books’ livelihood depends on it.

Her inquires soon leads her to realize ‘Magpie Murders’ holds the clue to why Alan Conway, died, and to where those the missing chapters are. To solve the true crime mystery of Alan’s death, and discover the solution to the ‘Magpie Murders’, she turns amateur detective, hoping to not only solve a crime, but hopefully, keep her publishing house afloat and save her job.

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told.

Mysteries are my first love. I read mysteries long before I dabbled in horror, or fell in love with romance novels. I love experiencing new authors and frequently dabble in various genres and sub-genres, but I rarely ever go more than a week without reading a crime novel of some kind.

However, reading numerous crime stories for so many years has a few drawbacks too, because now I have learned the various formulas, devices, tactics and familiar plotlines, used by authors within this genre, meaning I can often puzzle out ‘whodunit’, although I may not have worked out the finer points.

This ‘occupational hazard’, if you will, keeps me on the lookout for a book or an author that can challenge me, give my brain a good workout, keep me guessing, and stun me with that ‘gotcha’ moment.

This book did all that, and kept me thoroughly entertained from start to finish, plus, I got not one, but two mysteries, which are cleverly intertwined. Okay, frame stories aren’t exactly new, but this one is genius, I tell you, genius!!


The story is chock full of details, anagrams, parallels, and crafty twists, and occasionally a bit of humor or an inside joke. It is perfect for even the most jaded mystery reader, and will certainly keep you on your toes. Despite the slightly expanded length, the story is very fast paced and hard to put down, even though I wanted to savor it as long as possible.

Needless, to say, fans of golden age mysteries will not want to miss this one, but any and all mystery lovers should give this one a try. I don’t think you will be disappointed.




GET YOUR COPY HERE:
https://www.amazon.com/Magpie-Murders-Novel-Anthony-Horowitz-ebook/dp/B01M1G8JQE/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-magpie-murders-anthony-horowitz/1110206806

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:









Anthony Horowitz is perhaps the busiest writer in England. He has been writing since the age of eight, and professionally since the age of twenty. He writes in a comfortable shed in his garden for up to ten hours per day. In addition to the highly successful Alex Rider books, he has also written episodes of several popular TV crime series, including Poirot, Murder in Mind, Midsomer Murders and Murder Most Horrid. He has written a television series Foyle's War, which recently aired in the United States, and he has written the libretto of a Broadway musical adapted from Dr. Seuss's book, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. His film script The Gathering has just finished production. And&oh yes&there are more Alex Rider novels in the works. Anthony has also written the Diamond Brothers series.

Friday, June 16, 2017

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Darling Jasmine by Bertrice Small- Feature and Review






ABOUT THE BOOK:

She was headstrong, fearless, and beautiful. She was just like her grandmother, the legendary Skye O'Malley. 

Darling Jasmine

Jasmine had been forced into marriage twice. Rebelling at King James' decree that she wed Jemmie Leslie, fifth earl of Glenkirk, she fled to France with her children. But her youngest, the illegitimate offspring of Jasmine's lover, Prince Henry Stuart, is also the king's only grandson. Now the man coming after her and her little boy is the man she both fears and desires. . . 

Jemmie Leslie has come to France to possess Jasmine--by force if necessary. Though they shared a night of unforgettable passion, her rejection of their betrothal stunned and maddened him. Yet once he sees her again, Jemmie vows to win the elusive Jasmine back. . .and take her beyond ecstasy. 

"Rare poignancy, heart-stopping adventure, and sizzling sensuality." --Romantic Times 

The author of over thirty-five novels of historical romance and four erotic novellas, Bertrice Small is a New York Times bestselling author who has also appeared on the Publishers Weekly, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times bestseller lists. 

She is the recipient of numerous awards, including Best Historical Romance, Outstanding Historical Romance Series, Career Achievement for Historical Fantasy, and several Reviewers' Choice awards from Romantic Times BOOKclub. She has a "Silver Pen" from Affaire de Coeur, and an Honorable Mention from the West Coast Review of Books. In 2004 Bertrice was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by Romantic Times BOOKclub for her contributions to the historical romance genre.

READ AND EXCERPT:






MY REVIEW:


Darling Jasmine (Skye's Legacy #1)Darling Jasmine by Bertrice Small
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Darling Jasmine by Bertrice Small is a 2007 Kensington publication.

Wow! This book was certainly not what I expected and I must say I was quite shocked by the subject matter covered in this one, especially since it was originally published in 1997.

Jasmine, with the aid of her grandmother, the notorious Skye O' Malley, ran away from her fiance, Jemmie Leslie, the Earl of Glenkirk, and has been in hiding for a good while, holed up with her children from previous marriages or relationships. But, the time has come to pay the piper when Jemmie Leslie finally tracks her down. By this time Jemmie isn't sure if he loves Jasmine, hates her, or if he is simply doing his duty by carrying out the king's decree that they marry.

But, Jasmine senses that if she doesn't make amends and recapture Leslie's affections she could lose her children or be stuck in a miserable marriage. So with a little help from her meddling grandmother, Jasmine and Jemmie are left alone to sort out their differences. Can Leslie tame the wild, fiercely independent Jasmine, or is it too late to rekindle their passion?

Back in February, Bertrice Small passed away, and I was saddened to see so few remark upon her passing. This author was way ahead of her time and one of the few who refused to back down under pressure and did not neuter her back listed titles, nor did she change the way she wrote her novels, a trailblazer all the way throughout her career.

While many would chose to give the book the moniker of 'bodice ripper', it only technically falls into that category. Jemmie does not force Jasmine sexually, in fact, she is in control of the of the entire mating dance, although Jemmie is advised to sweep her way with his passions in an aggressive manner, by Skye, no less, Jasmine is quite consenting and even plans her own seduction, if you will. The only way this could be cast in the 'bodice ripper' category, comes later in the book, when a nefarious character who is into BDSM decides he wants Jasmine and plots to lure her away from Jemmie. He stalks her continuously, even when she is safely at home in Glenkirk.

The BDSM is vivid and graphic, but unlike the current trends in contemporary 'romance', this behavior is considered depraved, is not celebrated or glorified, and our darling Jasmine must be protected from this man at all cost. Since I have read many retro romances, and novels that HAVE earned the title of 'bodice ripper', I have encountered more than my fair share of controversial passages. Yet, I had never come across this subject matter in an old historical romance quite like this, and never had it actually described in such detail. While BDSM began to cross over into mainstream consciousness back in the sixties, I wonder if those reading this book for the first time in 1997, were as taken aback by it as I was. I mean, there are plenty of people today, despite the popularity of Fifty Shades, who feel very uncomfortable with this subject matter.

Jasmine was a woman, like her grandmother, who was ahead of her time, very passionate, independent, and at times naughty. Although, she and Jemmie were not into anything kinky per se, they are quite lusty, and could get rough at times, and the names they called one another in the bedroom were hardly sweet nothings or pillow talk, so they were certainly not conventional themselves. There were a few too many sex scenes in the book, and while I realize the author was all about erotica, something she built on her reputation, there weren't enough tender moments for my taste, although the couple are clearly besotted with one another.


One other thing that should be noted, is that if you decide to get into these older books, they are really a series, in the true sense of the word, meaning the stories pick up where they left off and the main character is featured in all the books in the arc, unlike today where a series simply means, the books are connected, but each one features new characters. So you will want to read these in order.


I was impressed by the boldness of the book, and liked the 'saga' quality in it, which is something we just don't see anymore. Even with the shock value, though, there were times the story lagged, but not for long.

Overall, I liked the book, the intrigue in court, the build up with Jemmie and Jasmine, the suspense, and the happy ever after.

Many of Bertrice Small's back listed titles have been reissued and formatted into a digital format, so you don't have to try hunting down vintage copies.

GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Darling-Jasmine-Skyes-legacy-Book-ebook/dp/B004SCDM92/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/darling-jasmine-bertrice-small/1100308323


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Bertrice Williams was born on December 9, 1937 in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, the daughter of Doris S. and David R. Williams, both broadcasters. She studied at Attended Western College for Women and Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School. On October 5, 1963, she married George Sumner Small, a photographer and designer with a History Major at Princeton. They had a son Thomas David. She lived on eastern Long Island for over 30 years. Her greatest passions were her family; Finnegan and Sylvester, the family cats; Nicki, the elderly cockatiel who whistles the NY Mets charge call; her garden; her work, and just life in general.

Published since 1947, Bertrice Small was the author of over 50 romance novels. A New York Times bestselling author, she had also appeared on other best-seller lists including Publishers Weekly, USA Today, and the L.A. Times. She was the recipient of numerous awards including Career Achievement for Historical Romance; Best Historical Romance; Outstanding Historical Romance Series; Career Achievement for Historical Fantasy; a Golden Leaf from the New Jersey Romance Writers chapter of Romance Writers of America; an Author of the Year (2006) and Big Apple Award from the New York City Romance Writers chapter of RWA, and several Reviewers Choice awards from Romantic Times. She had a "Silver Pen" from Affair De Coeur, and an Honorable Mention from The West Coast Review of Books. In 2004 she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by ROMANTIC TIMES magazine for her contributions to the Historical Romance genre. And in 2008 she was named by ROMANTIC TIMES along with her friends Jennifer Blake, Roberta Gellis and Janelle Taylor, a Pioneer of Romance.