A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Friday, July 31, 2015

Lady Scandal by Wendy LaCapra- Guest Blog + Review + Giveaway

He had everything under control, until she proved him wrong...

London, 1784

Sophia Baneham has lived in the poison of her dead father's shadow for longer than she cares to admit. Now she exists outside of polite society's influence, holding gambling parties for London's most dangerous men. When a man walks into one of her soirees, a compelling mix of charisma and icy control, he offers the lady of sin a wager she can't refuse...

Lord Randolph is a spy in the service of His Majesty, but he's given an oath to protect the daughter of his mentor. Even as his gamble of marriage starts to spiral out of control and his passions ignite, Randolph is determined that he'll handle things his way...

But when danger closes in, Randolph won't just have to protect Sophia from an intended killer. He'll have to protect her from himself


Lady Scandal (Furies #2)Lady Scandal by Wendy LaCapra
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lady Scandal by Wendy LaCapra is a 2015 Entangled Publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Lady Vice, the first book in The Furies series blew me away. So, I have been eagerly anticipating the follow up, and I am happy to report this second book is every bit as good as the first one.

Espionage, Spies, murder, intrigue... it's all here in this complex and riveting tale filled with deceptions, double crosses, and heart stopping action and suspense. But, at the heart of the story is Sophia, a woman with deeply rooted fears and complex emotions. She is secretly married to Lord Randolph, a spy, and a man who was deeply entrenched in her father's world, which she was not aware of until much later. This development has infuriated her, and crushed her ability to trust him.

Lord Randolph is swoon worthy in appearance, but is as complicated as Sophia, flawed and conflicted, with a very troubled past. Now he is near hysteria as he attempts to keep Sophia safe from her enemies, a task she makes quite difficult, and cope with his losing battle with denial. He is in love with Sophia, wants her desperately, but feels she deserves so much better than to keep her mired in the murky world he lives in.

“A spine of iron and a kiss like spring. She is a patchwork of opposites, his love. His fingers tightened around her ankle. His love. His. Love.

Perhaps he needn't send her away. Her could keep her for his own – lock her away in one of his estate's medieval turrets. The mad and fleeting hope was useless. She would never come to her jailer with wanton and willing desire. Better to finish this and set her free where she had a chance to be happy.

He'd been wrong . Love was not buoyant. Love was anguish. Love did not make you weak. Love gave you the strength to do things you found unimaginable.”

Wow! Great stuff!

These novels,so far, have shown the underbelly of the regency period, are fairly dark toned, and I absolutely love it! It's about time an author came along and took historical romance, especially regency period, and shook it up, hopefully starting a whole new trend within a genre which is in serious danger of growing stale.

Once again, I can't say enough good things about this book. I highly recommend it, not only for historical romance lovers, but to those who enjoy romantic suspense and mystery thrillers, as well.

Deserving of every one of these 5 stars!!


Lady Scandal
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Scandal-Entangled-Scandalous-Wendy-LaCapra-ebook/dp/B0105T5SGG?tag=entangpublis-20&link_code=ur2&creative=9325&camp=211189
BN: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lady-scandal-wendy-lacapra/1122187916
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/lady-scandal-entangled-scandalous/id1010581435?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/lady-scandal-entangled-scandalous
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Wendy_LaCapra_Lady_Scandal_Entangled_Scandalous?id=MSn1CQAAQBAJ

I AM THRILLED TO HAVE  WENDY AS MY GUEST TODAY!  She has been kind enough to write up a guest blog post for us and if you are like me, this post will have you searching your bookshelves for those classic romance novels that broke the barriers for all future historical romance authors-  Take it away, Wendy!

A few weeks ago I was browsing a used bookstore, killing time while my husband searched for an out-of-print biography. Not surprisingly, I found myself in the romance section. Almost all my current reads are digital and it was refreshing to run my fingers along well-loved paperbacks and inhale the scent of print. One book in particular caught my eye. Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught.

While I must have read this book back in the day, unlike the Rebecca Brandewyne books that I read so many times they fell apart in my hands, I don't recall the story.  And, since it is often mentioned as a classic, I thought I should become acquainted with Whitney and the Duke of Claymore. So, I've decided to read it one chapter a night until I finish, just so I can have the time and space to think about what parts of the chapter and characterization were striking. I wrote my first reflection on my Facebook page. 
My technical conclusion after Chapter One? Head-hopping (switching the point of view several times within the same scene) has been disparaged for so long, but in adhering to a single point of view per scene (and often limiting that POV to the hero or heroine), the romance writing community has lost a useful tool for making potentially unsympathetic characters more compelling. My conclusion as a long-time reader of Historical Romance? YAY, this first chapter promises so much fun!
My current release, , is fast-paced and modern, but has a character who is, in part, a nod to the richly-written, emotional and meaty classic Flowers From the Storm (1992) by Laura Kinsale. Flowers from the Storm would be on my recommendation list for anyone looking to revisit a classic. My teen self was agog for Rose of Rapture (1984) & Upon a Moon-Dark Moor (1988) by Rebecca Brandewyne, though I've yet to revisit them as an adult.
I'd love to hear if readers have gone back to revisit a 'modern historical romance classic' (ie, something from the 70s, 80s or early 90s) and how they've felt about the read. Did it live up to your expectations? Did it have elements or qualities you miss in historical romance? Did in include elements or qualities that made you cringe?
And, if you were going to recommend a 'modern historical romance classic' what would it be?

GIVEAWAY  DETAILS:  One lucky commenter will win a digital copy of Lady Vice and Lady Scandal from the online retailer of your choice!!!

Wendy is a 2012 Golden Heart Finalist writing Historical Romance with a touch of intrigue & suspense. Her debut novel, Lady Vice, the first in a trilogy about three Ladies who refuse to play by society's rules, will be released by Entangled Scandalous in March 2015.

Wendy was born a Jersey Girl while most of her extended family lived in Maine. Trekking up and down the Northeast coast in the backseat of a car gave her plenty of opportunity not only to fight with her sister, but to read, to listen to her dad tell stories from history, and to dream up stories of her own.

She lives in NYC with her husband. Things she loves besides writing and reading and being an aunt to seven nieces and nephews include travel (46 states and all 7 continents), old things, pine trees, wine and pasta.

If you'd like to join her infrequent, never-shared mailing list for freebies and new-release information, sign up here: http://bit.ly/GetWendyNews


Website: http://www.wendylacapra.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WendyLaCapraAuthor
      Twitter: https://twitter.com/wendylacapra
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/wendylacapra/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/wendylacapra

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bad Medicine by Caroline Fardig - Guest blog, + Review + Giveaway

What do a smokin’ hot detective, an evil chiropractor, and a couple of blind dates from hell have in common?

Lizzie has to wrangle them all in the third book of THE LIZZIE HART MYSTERIES series!

Book Description:

Lizzie Hart is overjoyed that six whole months have passed without a single murder in the sleepy town of Liberty. It’s also been six months since Blake Morgan heartlessly dumped her, but she’s determined to get over him. She’s slimmed down, ready to party, and injury-free, except for a little nagging pain in her ankle. She’s also very single, but her friends are doing everything in their power to fix that—including setting her up on one disastrous blind date after another.

Lizzie’s reprieve is short-lived when an old friend of hers is found dead from an apparent drug overdose. She wants to write it off as bad behavior after having seen the guy cheating on his wife with the new chiropractor in town. However, when she sees that same chiropractor playing doctor with another man who ends up dead, she worries there could be murder afoot.

Doing her best to stay on the right side of the law this time, Lizzie decides to go straight to the police with her suspicions. Unfortunately, the only cop available to speak with her is the stern yet hot new detective who has already given her a traffic ticket and a reprimand for public intoxication. Not surprisingly, he brushes her off, leaving her no choice but to begin snooping on her own. Lizzie soon learns she’s going to need help to get to the bottom of this mystery, but her best partner in crime solving, Blake, has turned into her worst enemy.

Can Lizzie and Blake find a way to work together to catch the killer…or will they kill each other first?


Researching for your novel—how far will you go?

I love researching for my novels. It makes me feel like I get to be one of the characters for a while. When I’m starting a story, I like to immerse myself as much as possible in the culture and interests of my characters, especially my heroines.

With my Lizzie Hart Mysteries series, the “cultural” researching was easy. I based the fictional town of Liberty on my own hometown. For my first attempt at writing, I thought having a real, working model of the town would help me get into the feel of the story. And I admit, even though I’m finished working on the series for now (my upcoming series is taking center stage for a while), every time I pass the real buildings and areas I used as fictional places in the series, I fondly think about what adventures Lizzie has had there. Aside from that, I did a lot of Internet research on death and decomposition, Wicca, and drug interactions. I wouldn’t want to have to explain my browser history to the authorities!

I went even farther for my upcoming series with Random House, the Java Jive Mysteries. This series is set in the Midtown area of Nashville, the trendy area in and around the campuses of Vanderbilt and Belmont Universities. Nashville is one of my favorite vacation spots anyway, so of course I had to make several road trips there in the name of “research”! My main character is the manager of a coffeehouse, so I hit every coffeehouse in the area to get a feel for the vibe they embody. I even bought an espresso machine and taught myself how to make the perfect latte and pour latte art. My character is also a musician/songwriter, so I took it upon myself to perform one of the songs I wrote for the book at an open mic night at one of the coffeehouses. Dedication to the craft, right? Oh, and I also got some red lowlights put in my hair so I could experience life as a redhead, just like my character. That didn’t actually help, but it was fun anyway. Look for DEATH BEFORE DECAF, coming this fall!

For the win, my research for my newest project (a crime novel—think Patricia Cornwell) consisted of taking a Forensics class at my local college. Let me tell you, going back to school as a 40-year-old mom scared the pants off of me. However, the other students were very welcoming, and I wasn’t even the oldest person in class. I was, however, the geekiest person in the class. I couldn’t get enough of the topics we studied, and I’d go home and research further on my own. NERD ALERT! I studied like my life depended on it (even though my grade totally didn’t matter), and I think I only missed 2 questions the entire semester, even with a quiz to take each week. I learned so much, and there was a crazy amount of hands-on lab work. We got to splatter cow’s blood and study the patterns, package evidence in official law enforcement packaging, and even got to tour the local state police crime lab.

Do I go overboard? Yes. Does it make me confident in the “truth” to my fictional work? Absolutely. One of the keys to good fiction is believability, and if you’ve done your research, it shows.


Bad Medicine (Lizzie Hart Mysteries Book 3)Bad Medicine by Caroline Fardig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bad Medicine by Caroline Fardig is a 2015 publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When we last touched base with Lizzie Hart, she managed to survive after being drawn into an investigation involving a Wicca coven, and made a few life long friends in the process, but sadly, she lost her boyfriend, Blake, when he discovers she kept vital information from him.

Now, Lizzie is trying to move on with her life as an investigative reporter, in the small town of Liberty, which is hard because she still has to work with Blake, who is kind of hostile towards her now, not to mention the other comical work place issues she has always had to deal with.

But, when she is out with the girls one night, she sees her chiropractor, Lydia, who is new in town, out with Jason, a married man whose wife just had a baby. Not long after that, Jason is found dead, allegedly overdosing on pills. But, Jason's death is only the beginning as it seems any man who rubs elbows with Lydia dies, which is bad enough, but it seems Blake could be the next guy on Lydia's radar. Can Lizzie keep Blake from becoming the next victim?

Caroline Fardig is really hitting her stride now, as each installment in this series has gotten better. She does an outstanding job on this one in particular. Lizzie once more finds herself in a love triangle, as Blake finally opens up about their break up, but a super sexy detective, Brody Callahan, expresses interest in becoming involved with Lizzie on a personal level, all while warning her off the investigation surrounding the mysterious deaths of several men recently, which of course she ignores.

“Wait. What am I doing? My brain finally decides to join the party, and it's not amused. I can't be kissing Brody Callahan! He's mean, and he arrested me. And he took my clothes off without my permission. Maybe if I'm lucky I can get him to do it again. No! I can't think that. Must. Quit. Kissing. Him.”

The mystery isn't exactly a mystery since it's plain from the get go who our culprit is, it's just a matter of proving it, and understanding the motive behind the killings, and preventing more deaths. However, that knowledge does nothing to dampen the suspense level in the story and there are a few stunning big reveals and plot twist before all is said and done, and of course there is plenty of action as well.

The dialogue is super sharp, crisp, witty, and laugh out loud funny at times. Lizzie's character grows and learns with each new installment, but never loses her edge. Blake's character growth really stands out in this one, and while I was super ticked off at him after the way he ended things with Lizzie, he does impress me in this story and I had to grudgingly admit he was a pretty good guy at the end of the day.

I'm not sure, it's just a vibe I picked up on, but this could be the last book in this series or trilogy. If so, I will truly miss Lizzie Hart, and I do hope she will be back to solve more mysteries and prevent more crime in Liberty, but if this is the last one, I can say it ended on solid footing with the knowledge that things may not always be perfect for Lizzie, but the important things in her life are in place and I feel confident her future will be bright.

If you love light romantic comedy, or cozy mysteries, or a combination of the two you really need to check out this series. While the mystery is always compelling, it's Lizzie's personal relationships that draws the reader in, and with that in mind I would strong recommend reading the books in order, so you can fully appreciate the character's growth and feel the satisfaction in seeing things turn out the way the way you hoped.




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About the Author:

CAROLINE FARDIG is the author of the LIZZIE HART MYSTERIES series and the forthcoming DEATH BEFORE DECAF, available November 2015 through Random House. Her eclectic working career included occupations of schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

Social Media:



Mailing List:

Twitter: @carolinefardig


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lucky's Choice by Jamie Begley- Virtual Tour + Giveaway

Enter to Win A
Custom LAST RIDERS T-Shirt & Mug, 
$25.00 Amazon eGift Card and Signed Copy of SHADE'S FALL

The Last Riders #7
Jamie Begley
Releasing July 29th, 2015
Young Ink Press

Life dealt him a dead man’s hand.

Lucky had always led a life of service, always putting his life on the line for someone else, managing to survive by pure luck and skill. After bringing an end to a multi-state drug ring, he was finally able to live the life he had wanted as a Last Rider.

A good man would walk away and not touch the curvy woman who had been tugging on his heartstrings. Lucky wasn’t a good man. Therefore, the bad-ass biker in him had a choice: once again become the man he had pretended to be and stake his claim or take the devil’s highway.

Some girls had all the luck.

Willa wasn’t one of them. All she wanted to do was give a home to the children she had made orphans. Instead, she found herself needing help from the man who had left the pulpit behind to embrace a life of sin.

Painfully shy and withdrawn, she wanted a quiet life, a simple man, and well-behaved children. The last thing she had ever expected was for Lucky to want her size twenty body and show her a passion that would lead her straight to hell. 


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"I was born in a small town in Kentucky. My family began poor, but worked their way to owning a restaurant. My mother was one of the best cooks I have ever known, and she instilled in all her children the value of hard work, and education.
Taking after my mother, I've always love to cook, and became pretty good if I do say so myself. I love to experiment and my unfortunate family has suffered through many. They now have learned to steer clear of those dishes. I absolutely love the holidays and my family puts up with my zany decorations.
For now, my days are spent writing, writing, and writing. I have two children who both graduated this year from college. My daughter does my book covers, and my son just tries not to blush when someone asks him about my books.
Currently I am writing five series of books- The Last Riders, The VIP Room, Predators MC, Biker Bitches, and The Dark Souls.
All my books are written for one purpose- the enjoyment others find in them, and the expectations of my fans that inspire me to give it my best.”

Monday, July 27, 2015

Tremaine's True Love by Grace Burrowes- Review + Giveaway

Book Information
Title: Tremaine’s True Love 
Author: Grace Burrowes
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical Romance

He's had everything he could ever want...until now
Wealthy wool magnate Tremaine St. Michael is half French, half Scottish, and all business. He prowls the world in search of more profits, rarely settling in one place for long. When he meets practical, reserved Lady Nita Haddonfield, he sees an opportunity to mix business with pleasure by making the lady his own.

Nita Haddonfield has a meaningful life tending to others, though nobody is dedicated to caring for Nita. She insists the limitations of marriage aren't for her, then Tremaine St. Michael arrives-protective, passionate, and very, very determined to win Nita's heart.

Excerpt – Tremaine’s True Love
Wealthy businessman Tremaine St. Michael has concluded that marriage to Lady Nita Haddonfield would be a prudent merger of complimentary interests for the mutual benefit and enjoyment of both parties… or some such blather.
Tremaine rapped on Lady Nita’s door, quietly, despite a light shining from beneath it. Somebody murmured something which he took for permission to enter.
“Mr. St. Michael?”
Tremaine stepped into her ladyship’s room, closed the door behind him and locked it, which brought the total of his impossibly forward behaviors to several thousand.
“Your ladyship expected a sister, or a maid with a pail of coal?”
“I wasn’t expecting you.” Lady Nita sat near the hearth in a blue velvet dressing gown. The wool stockings on her feet were thick enough to make a drover covetous. “Are you unwell, Mr. St. Michael?”
“You are not pleased to see me.” Did she think illness the only reason somebody would seek her out?
She set aside some pamphlet, a medical treatise, no doubt. No vapid novels for Lady Nita.
“I was not expecting you, sir.”
“You were not expecting me to discuss marriage with you earlier. I wasn’t expecting the topic to come up in a casual fashion either. May I sit?”
She waved an elegant hand at the other chair flanking the hearth. Tremaine settled in, trying to gather his thoughts while the firelight turned Lady Nita’s braid into a rope of burnished gold.
“You are pretty.” Brilliant place to start. The words had come out, heavily burred, something of an ongoing revelation.
“I am tall and blond,” she retorted, twitching the folds her of her robe. “I have the usual assortment of parts. What did you come here to discuss?”
Lady Nita was right, in a sense. Her beauty was not of the ballroom variety, but rather, an illumination of her features by characteristics unseen. She fretted over new babies, cut up potatoes like any crofter’s wife, and worried for her sisters. These attributes interested Tremaine. Her madonna-with-a-secret smile, keen intellect, and longing for laughter attracted him.
Even her medical pre-occupation, in its place, had some utility as well.
“Will you marry me, my lady?”
More brilliance. Where had his wits gone? George Haddonfield had graciously pointed out that Nita needed repose and laughter, and Tremaine was offering her the hand of the most restless and un-silly man in the realm.
The lady somehow contained her incredulity, staring at her hands. “You want to discuss marriage?”
“I believe I did just open that topic. Allow me to elaborate on my thesis: Lady Bernita Haddonfield, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife? I think we would suit, and I can promise you would know no want in my care.”
A proper swain would have been on his damn bended knee, the lady’s hand in his. Lady Nita would probably laugh herself to tears if Tremaine attempted that nonsense. Lady Nita picked up her pamphlet, which Tremaine could now see was written in German.
“Why, Mr. St. Michael?”
“I beg your pardon?” Tremaine was about to pitch the damned pamphlet in the fire, until he recalled that Nita Haddonfield excelled at obscuring her stronger emotions.
“Why should you marry me, Tremaine St. Michael? Why should I marry you? I’ve had other offers, you’ve made other offers. You haven’t known me long enough to form an opinion of my character beyond the superficial.”
This ability to take a situation apart, into causes, effects, symptoms, and prognosis was part of the reason she was successful as a healer. Tremaine applied the same tendencies to commercial situations, so he didn’t dismiss her questions as coyness or manipulation.
She wasn’t rejecting him either. She most assuredly was not rejecting him.
Book Information
Title: Tremaine’s True Love 
Author: Grace Burrowes
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical Romance

Message From the Author
What makes a man a gentleman?
For a romance writer, this question has to be answered in every book, because implicit in the term “hero” is something of the gentleman. Heroes need not be charming, handsome or wealthy, and they might not even be obviously heroic, at least at the start of the book, but they have to be worthy of our loyalty for the duration of an entire book. 
In the True Gentlemen series, I took three men who’d wandered across my pages in previous stories—Tremaine St. Michael, Daniel Banks, and Willow Dorning—and found them each a happily ever after. Tremaine is a flinty business man, Daniel is poor and pious, Willow finds polite society an enormous trial and would far rather be with his dogs. These fellows were not obvious choices as romance heroes, but they each had something that tempted me to write stories for them.
When we met Tremaine in an earlier book (Gabriel: Lord of Regrets), Tremaine was convinced that he’d found a good candidate for the position of wife. He offered marriage, listing all the practical advantages to both parties, and he congratulated himself on how much sense his proposed union would make.
The lady turned him down flat, and as a gentleman is bound to do, he graciously ceded the field. He didn’t like it, he didn’t entirely understand how or what he’d lost, but he wished the happy couple well.
Daniel’s role in David: Lord of Honor was to charge to London with sermons at the ready in an attempt to restore his sister’s honor. The very man Daniel accused of wronging that sister had already set her back on the path to respectability.
Oops. But again, being a gentleman, Daniel wishes the couple every happiness, even if doing so costs him the future he’d envisioned for himself and his loved ones. Like Tremaine, he’s a gracious and even dignified loser.
Willow’s appearance in Worth: Lord of Reckoning is brief, but he too is determined to see a sister rescued from a possibly compromising position, and again, rescue is simply not on the heroine’s agenda.
In all three cases, the true gentleman acts in the best interests of those he loves and is responsible for, regardless of the inconvenience or cost to himself. Because Tremaine, Daniel, and Willow were honorable, I liked them. I trusted them, I wanted them to have the happiness they clearly already deserved.
In the Nicholas Haddonfield’s sisters—Nita, Kirsten, and Susannah—I found ladies willing to oblige my ambitions for these men. In each case, our hero has lessons yet to learn, and in each case, his inherent honor wins the day. He might not be handsome, wealthy, or charming in the eyes of the world, but because he’s a true gentleman in the eyes of his lady, he wins her true love.
I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I enjoyed writing them!
Tremaine's True Love (True Gentlemen, #1)Tremaine's True Love by Grace Burrowes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tremaine's True Love by Grace Burrowes is a 2015 Sourcebooks Casablanca publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I always get excited when a new book by Grace Burrowes is released. I was especially excited about this one because it's the first in the brand new “True Gentleman” series.

Tremaine St. Michael is certainly an interesting fellow. His heritage is French and Scottish, he is a well off tradesman, interested in obtaining a flock of Merino sheep. This puts him in direct contact with the Earl of Haddonfield who is looking to sell the sheep, which is how Tremaine meets Nita, the Earl's sister.

Tremaine and Nita connect almost instantaneously and the chemistry is palpable. But, the two were quite unprepared for this event and taken completely by surprise. Tremaine is focused on his sheep and his work, while Nita is working with the poor to help provide them with the best medical care possible, especially since the local doctor sits in judgment of the poor and refuses to treat them properly.

The romance is one of the sweetest I've read in long time. Deeply romantic and sensual, but not without conflict. Nita's family, especially her brother, Nicholas, is worried that Nita is putting her health at risk by working with the poor, which in turn puts the health of the entire family at stake. While Tremaine admires Nita for her sacrifice and hard work, her independence and down to earth spirit, he too believes her work is too risky. So, will Nita will have to make a choice between marriage and continuing with her work?

There are a couple of side stories that are very compelling, especially one which involves the woman and her children, who Nita has been trying to help, and the terrifying possibility that one of Nita's sisters may be about the wed the wrong man.

This story was fast paced and very absorbing. I absolutely loved Tremaine and Nita as a couple. They each had to learn to see the situation from the other person's perspective and figure out how to make compromises, and they ended up being an inspiration. Tremaine is just dreamy, and mean really romantic, and so, so sweet. I just loved him!

I also love a strong female character who defies convention and chooses to do what she feels is right, even if it comes at a great personal sacrifice. Nita was great character and I admired her dedication to principles.

Ms, Burrowes is one of my favorite authors and I love her writing style, but this one has a little added appeal, like a cherry of top of the cake. Very well done!

This was a great story all the way around and I am so excited about getting to know the earl's other sisters in future installments.

Hands down- 5 stars

Buy Links
Amazon: http://bit.ly/AmazonBurrowesTremaine
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/BNBurrowesTremaine
iBooks: http://bit.ly/AppleBurrowesTremaine
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/IndieBurrowesTremaine

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Author Biography
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes' bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish and Lady Eve's Indiscretion. Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.
Social Media Links
Website: http://graceburrowes.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Grace-Burrowes/115039058572197
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GraceBurrowes
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4152482.Grace_Burrowes


Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Philips Virtual Book Tour + Giveaway

Enter to Win A
Surprise SEP Prize Pack

Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Releasing in Paperback July 28th
Avon Romance

The dead of winter.
An isolated island off the coast of Maine.
A man.
A woman.
A sinister house looming over the sea ...

He's a reclusive writer whose macabre imagination creates chilling horror novels. She's a down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids' puppet shows. He knows a dozen ways to kill with his bare hands. She knows a dozen ways to kill with laughs.

But she's not laughing now. When she was a teenager, he terrified her. Now they're trapped together on a snowy island off the coast of Maine. Is he the villain she remembers or has he changed? Her head says no. Her heart says yes.

It's going to be a long, hot winter.

Heroes Are My Weakness: A NovelHeroes Are My Weakness: A Novel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Heroes are my Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a 2014 William Morrow publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

When I start a book by this author it's a strictly fan girl approach. I don't doubt for a minute the book will be good. When I saw this book had a Gothic tone I was especially exited.

Annie Hewitt arrives at the cottage on a small secluded island in Maine that she inherited from her mother, who recently passed away. Annie spent summers here once upon a time, but the memories are not pleasant. When she sees there is no running water or heat, she is forced make it over to Harp house in order to make arrangements to get the cottage in liveable condition.

“Everything was sharp angles: the peaked roofs, shadowed eaves, and foreboding gables. How she loved this Gothic gloom when she'd come to live here the summer her mother had married Elliot Harp. She'd imagined herself clad in a mousy gray dress and clutching a portmanteau gently born, but penniless and desperate, forced to take the humble position of governess. Chin up and shoulders back, she'd confront the brutish ( but exceptionally handsome) master of the house with so much courage that he would eventually fall hopelessly in love with her. They'd marry, and then she'd redecorate. It hadn't taken long before romantic dreams of a homely fifteen year-old who read too much and experienced too little had met a harsher reality.”

But, Annie's going through a bad patch, her mother's health issues having drained her bank accounts, her job as a ventriloquist is at a crossroads after she and her partner split. However, the voices of her puppets are an extension of herself, each with their own personality. Coming to the cottage is something she really didn't have much choice about and due to a strange codicil in her mother's divorce years ago, she must live in the cottage for 2 months out the year. But, the last person on earth she expected to encounter on the island was Theo Harp... a man who once tried to kill her.

“He descended slowly. A Gothic hero in a pearl gray waistcoat, snowy white cravat, and dark trousers tucked into calf- hugging black leather boots. Hanging languidly at this side was a steel barreled dueling pistol.

In the dim gray light, his hair was raven black; his eyes a pale, imperial blue; his face chiseled and unsmiling, everything about him the embodiment of nineteenth century haughtiness. She wanted to curtsy. To run. To tell him she didn't really need that governess job after all.”

Annie and Theo had a very complicated past together in their teenage years. Now they are both hiding out on the island for one reason or other. Each holds their cards close to the vest, but for Annie, her secrets could have painted a target on her back. There is a legacy her mother left her, but Annie has yet to figure out what that is. However, someone on the island is just as eager to discover it. With Theo's dark background and their shared past, Annie is immediately wary of Theo.
If this isn't enough drama for you, add a young mother with a small child who refuses to speak, a slew of medical emergencies on the island and the mystery of what took place between Annie and Theo all those years ago.
I think for some who have read SEP in the past, this book might be something of a departure from what you are used to. I happen to love Gothic flavored stories so of course I was all in. The book is modern Gothic, but pays homage to the Jane Eyre style of storytelling. Dark, brooding, misunderstood heroes with an air of danger about them is always interesting because the reader is not quite sure if they trust him or not and neither does the female protagonist. This creates a edge of suspense and mystery, especially when it looks like there is a real threat out there. While Jane Eyre was obviously the inspiration here,  I also thought I picked up a little Northanger Abbey too. I had to laugh on more than one occasion, especially at Theo who was actually pretty cool despite his troubled life and the self inflicted guilt his carried by blaming himself for the actions of others. But, of course Theo is a hero- Annie's hero through and through.
This is a bit of an unconventional romance,but it worked for me. The start up is a little slow and the pace through out is never fast, but I think that is the style the author was going for. Still, there were a few times I did hope things would pick up a little. Some parts of the plot were predictable and I did guess at what was happening on the island and why Annie was a target. But, this is really a small complaint because I was pretty impressed with the author's foray into this genre and found it quite refreshing to read something out of the ordinary for a change. 4 stars

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Susan Elizabeth Phillips soars onto the New York Times bestseller list with every new publication. She’s the only four-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Favorite Book of the Year Award. Susan delights fans by touching hearts as well as funny bones with her wonderfully whimsical and modern fairy tales. A resident of the Chicago suburbs, she is also a wife, and mother of two grown sons.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Perfect Touch by Elizabeth Lowell - A Book Review

The queen of romantic suspense returns with a heart-racing tale in which a former soldier turned rancher and a beautiful designer race to stop a vicious killer—a battle for survival that threatens to explode in an intense and irresistible passion

An art dealer and owner of her own design studio, Perfect Touch, Sarah “Sam” Maddox travels the world to find the ideal artwork for her clients. Her sophisticated, comfortable life in San Francisco is light years away from the poverty of her family’s dairy farm, and Sam will do whatever it takes to keep her business strong. A dedicated urban career woman focused on her work, she doesn’t have time or energy for a family or distracting romantic entanglements.

Jay Vermillion recently inherited Vermillion Sky, a working ranch near Wyoming’s breathtaking Grand Teton Mountains—and the estates of the rich and restless. While he was fighting in two wars, his father tried to keep the homestead running, until illness stole his fight and then his life. Jay’s determined to restore Vermillion Sky, but first he’s got to settle a vicious battle with his former stepmother over some of his late father’s paintings. The last thing on his mind is a finding a wife and creating a sixth generation of Vermillions.

When Jay hires Sam to handle his father’s artwork, it’s love at first sight—a mutually inconvenient attraction that is soon complicated by a double murder at the edge of the ranch and a potential betrayal even closer to home. Working together to unmask a murderer, Sam and Jay try to fight the intense heat between them. Then the killer targets Sam. And suddenly, Jay, the war-weary soldier, finds something he’s once again willing to die for . .


Perfect Touch: A NovelPerfect Touch: A Novel by Elizabeth Lowell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Perfect Touch by Elizabeth Lowell is a 2015 William Morrow publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

This is romantic suspense written as it should be. Mystery, suspense, action, thrills, and of course romance, this one has it all, and the author does a great job of giving this story the perfect blend of all these elements, resulting a fantastic read.

This story features Wyoming cowboy and rancher Jay Vermillion who has just been awarded by a judge, all his father's paintings. This judgment has frozen out Jay's former step mother and his half brother, who are none too happy.

Enter art dealer Sara Maddox who has been hired by Jay to help him appraise the paintings and then sell them at auction. Sara is thrilled to have this opportunity, but she never imagines the ways in which her life is about to change.

The art world is always fascinating to me and it's obvious the author has a real appreciation for it and has done some research. Her insights into modern art were insightful and thought provoking.

One usually thinks of art galleries and studios in trendy or upscale parts of big cities, but the wide open spaces in Wyoming was where Jay's father did his best work, early in his career. But it's obvious from the beginning that Sara is only there to do a job , and can not wait to hightail it back to the big city of San Francisco, which is too bad because she and Jay have a chemistry that is so hot it needs a warning label.

“But she still could enjoy the one hundred percent male standing only twenty feet away. Wonder if he's smart enough to add three and two and get five, or if he just coast along on his sheer presence”

I loved the Jay's cowboy persona and his loyalty to this way of life, his moral code, and unwavering sense of right and wrong, and his ability to see past the manipulations of this half brother and step mother, who is a real piece of work. Jay is the quintessential cowboy with the right amount of sensitivity and protectiveness which balanced nicely with the take charge side of him. His service in the war gives him some added toughness, but also some vulnerability. I fell in love with him “at first sight.”

Sara escaped the country life and swore she would not find herself marrying a poor farmer and having a brood of kids, like her mother. So, while she is in Wyoming, she enjoys being with Jay, but both of them know Jay would never leave his ranch for life in the city and Sara will never leave the city for a life in the country. Is there any way they can somehow compromise in order to have life together?

The action really gets rolling toward the second half of the book and from that time on its non stop suspense as all the pieces of the puzzle regarding the paintings, especially one entitled “Muse”, starts to click into place. There are some few unexpected twist along the way, and some edge of your seat suspense.

Elizabeth Lowell is a seasoned author with an impressive body of work, but at times over the years I have lost touch with her. I am so happy to have found this one and the well written story is just the type of romantic suspense I enjoy most. I loved the romance, mystery, the city/country conflict, the art, and the wonderful way everything came together in the end. 5 stars

Note: This is an ARC/ uncorrected proof- some of the names and spellings may be different from what you see in blurb or in the published version.

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Individually and with co-author/husband Evan, Ann Maxwell has written over 60 novels and one work of non-fiction. There are 30 million copies of these books in print, as well as reprints in 30 foreign languages. Her novels range from science fiction to historical fiction, from romance to mystery. After working in contemporary and historical romance, she became an innovator in the genre of romantic suspense.

In 1982, Ann began publishing as Elizabeth Lowell. Under that name she has received numerous professional awards in the romance field, including a Lifetime Achievement award from the Romance Writers of America (1994).

Since July of 1992, she has had over 30 novels on the New York Times bestseller list. In 1998 she began writing suspense with a passionate twist, capturing a new audience and generation of readers. Her new romance novel Perfect Touch will be available in July of 2015.

To get a full list of titles as well as read excerpts from her novels, visit www.elizabethlowell.com.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Secrets of Maple Syrup Farm by Rebecca Raisin- Review and author interview + Giveaway!

Secrets...we all have them.

Clay’s inheritance of Maple Syrup Farm came at the perfect time. Leaving city life behind he headed for maple-tree surrounded Ashford, Connecticut. Getting the farm in working order again might be back breaking work – but it seems to be the only way for Clay to finally forget about the girl who once broke his heart…

Lucy’s had enough of rules and the stress of planning her life down to the very last detail. Looking for an adventure she stumbles upon Maple Syrup Farm and its gorgeously gruff owner. This could be the perfect place to hide out…!

But the tranquillity and warmth of Maple Tree Farm is enough to heal even the most battered of hearts. There are very few problems in life that can’t be cheered up by maple syrup!



What gave you the idea for Secrets of Maple Syrup Farm?

I was chatting with a guy who has read all of the Gingerbread Café story books, and he’d googled earthed the ‘real’ Ashford, the town where the books are set. It’s a lot more spread out than my fictional town, and is surrounded by these lush green meadows. We got to talking, and somehow through a street name, I think it as pumpkin something, I thought about doing a farm story. But I wanted it to be a pretty place, and a sweet process rather than a long, hard slog. I thought of maple syrup and researched it, and it was perfect! Connecticut is one of the places you can tap the trees for syrup, so it was fate! I thought of gorgeous maple leaves fluttering in the summertime, and a couple kissing under their canopy and knew I had found the right farm!

What do like most about being a writer?

I love being lost inside a fictional world, and forgetting the real world exists! It’s a great escape! With Secrets, I was so caught up in the rewrites and edits, and under time constraints so I was living and breathing it, and kept calling my partner Clay all the time! After the 37382399 time he was like, my name is not Clay… Whoops.

Who plays Lucy and Clay on the big screen?

Clay I imagined as Channing Tatum (tough job!) and Lucy I imagined Jennifer Lawrence.

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

I was a panster, but now I have to outline my books for my editor. So I am a bit of both. I do plot out the book but it does change as I write, and that’s the fun part, being pulled along by your characters!

What was your favorite book as a child?

I loved a book called Melissa’s Ghost by John Dugan. I must have read it a hundred times! I loved that the main character was new in town, and was out of sorts being a city kid. A ghost visits her every night, so she goes to the town library to research the old place, and work out who he is. There’s all these twists and turns, and for an eight year old, I was hooked! And I have never forgotten it! I found a copy on eBay for my boys, when they’re ready to read it.

Where can readers contact you?

I’m always son social media and would love to chat!

What are you working on now?

I’m almost finished The Little Bookshop on the Seine which is the follow up to The Bookshop on the Corner. I love Sarah, because she’s a total bookworm, and while reserved she has a wicked mind, and is fun to write!

Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share?

I like this description when Lucy first sees the farm. She’s an artist, so I imagined how she might look at the Maple Syrup Farm differently to me. I’d see a lot of work, but she sees beauty in everything.

The Maple Syrup Farm was, at best, a ramshackle mess. The front gate hung off its latch, creaking in the wind, pitching backward and forward like an invitation to enter. In the distance you could make out the cottage. Gnarly old vines twisted around porch posts as though they were slowly strangling them. Cottage windows were smashed, leaving only dirty shards of glass clinging to their perches. Mountains of junk had been abandoned across the land for so long that grass had grown over them. Odd sticks of wood protruded like arms in supplication. The decaying façade of the place was somehow compelling rather than confronting.”



Secrets at the Maple Syrup FarmSecrets at the Maple Syrup Farm by Rebecca Raisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Secrets of Maple Syrup Farm by Rebecca Raisin is a 2015 Carina UK publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and author via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

As sad as I was to say goodbye to the wonderful folks at the Gingerbread Cafe, I couldn't wait to see what new adventures Rebecca Raisin had in story for us.

This new book is centered around Lucy, a young woman who has put her dreams on hold in order to care for her chronically ill mother. But, when her mother begs her to take a year off and travel, and apply to a prestigious art school in order to start lining out her future, Lucy is torn, but she can't say no to what could be her mother's dying wish. So, arrangements are made with Lucy's aunt, a woman who is estranged from Lucy's mother, but who promises to step up and take care of her while Lucy is away.

The deal was for Lucy to hop on the first bus she comes to and let the adventure work it's way out according to the way fate would have it... and wouldn't you know, Lucy meets a woman on the bus named Cee Cee, who tells her all about a Maple farm in Ashford, Connecticut, and a young man named Clay who recently inherited the farm and is in dire need of help....

While I loved the light and cozy stories of the Gingerbread Cafe, I would have to say this author really outdid herself with this one.

The characters literally come to life and the story is so touching and sweet, I found myself checking my supply of tissues.

Clay is closed off, more stubborn than a mule, cynical, and obviously hurt and bitter. At times he had me so frustrated I felt like Lucy did and wanted to hit him over the head with a baseball bat. But, of course we know he must have been raked over the coals in the past to have become so disillusioned about love, and to have lost all his faith in humanity.

Lucy, is a delightful character full of courage and hope, but also has her secrets and insecurities. I loved watching her chisel away at Clay's stone like exterior a little at a time. Her enthusiasm and optimism is in stark contrast to Clay's personality, but it seems it might be catching, as Clay seems incapable of holding on to his stoicism when she is in his presence, although he certainly fights her every step of the way.

The side story of a set of journals Lucy unearths, apparently written by Clay's uncle, the man he inherited the farm from, tells of a tragic love story, epic in the tradition of Romeo and Juliet as it ended without a traditional happy ever after, but the man's deep love for his lost lover was such an inspiration for Lucy as she saw in him a kindred spirit.

“I closed the journal, running a hand along it's cover. 'Most people would die to find a love like he describes.

“Was it worth it though? He spent the rest of his life missing her.”

“How could he not get it?” Clay obviously didn't feel love as deeply.

“ Of course it was! Because he loved her with everything: his soul, his heart, his body. She was his world, so the real world faded to black. Don't you see? He found another kind of beauty here. And he could see her here. He wasn't hiding , he was seeking salvation the only way he knew how.”

“ He loved her fiercely, he couldn't function without her. He's a hero, really. A proper real life hero, who worshiped a woman above all else”.

The mystery surrounding Clay's uncle and his sketches added a surprising twist to the story and touched Clay and Lucy personally.

The procedure of making maple syrup was fascinating, and I enjoyed learning about this process. It was also a delight to touch base with Cee Cee and Lil and I enjoyed the occasional forays into the Gingerbread cafe.

This story is a tiny bit edgier than previous books by this author, as she adds in some real conflict and evokes a stronger emotional response in the reader, but still holds true to the magical atmosphere we have come to love surrounding Ashford, Connecticut. The writing is crisp and sharp, the characters well defined, and the story is warm and inspiring. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to romance lovers of all kinds.

4.5 stars



Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm (Once in a Lifetime)

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Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She's been published in various short story anthologies and in in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance.

Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.

Come say hello to Rebecca on her Facebook page : https://facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor