Veterinarian Wade Roberts is done with love. But try convincing the elderly folk of Cape Harmony who are determined to play matchmaker. Now the young single women in town are bombarding him with baked goods and love notes, and being “taken” is the only way to stop the meddling grannies—which is why he needs a fake fiancée. Fast.
Arden Pearson loves planning weddings. Other people’s weddings, that is. After her own engagement ended in disaster, she prefers to live vicariously through her work. But when she needs to persuade a big client that she’s capable of planning the celebrity wedding of the year, she’s willing to go as far as pretending to be engaged herself to her best friend’s older brother.
Soon their ruse has everyone in town believing they make the perfect couple—including Arden. She’s always been nothing more than a kid sister to Wade, and it might take a village to convince him otherwise…
He threw Arden a tight smile, hoping she’d get the hint and play along. “Yes, because I’m dating Arden here. We’ve been waiting to finally make it official in town.” He gave Arden’s shoulder an extra squeeze when her mouth dropped open. “Didn’t want to tell people too soon. You know, in case it didn’t work out. But I think we can finally come clean, don’t you agree, honey?”
Arden slowly blinked her ocean-blue eyes up at him as if coming out of a yearlong coma. “Uh, right…babycakes.”
Babycakes? Seriously? That’s the first nickname she could think of?
Wade’s smile was frozen in place as he turned back to Judy. “See?”
Judy pushed her dark-framed glasses up her nose, then laid a hand on her heart. “Oh my. This is such wonderful news! Better than I’d hoped. I knew something was going on between you two.”
“You did?” they both asked. He and Arden regarded each other. She seemed as confused as he felt.
Judy nodded. “Yep. I’m an expert on true love. Been married sixty years next month,” she said proudly.
“That must be why you’re so good at matchmaking,” he lied. “Sorry to take your work out from under you like this.”
She blushed and waved his comment away. “You’re too sweet. But the girls and I just wanted to see you happy for a change now that Kinsley was settled.”
Happy for a change? Was he really that miserable looking?
Arden cleared her throat, nudging him in the side with her knuckle. Ow. The woman had steel for bones.
“Babycakes,” Arden said between her teeth, slyly poking him again, “I really need to buy my coffee and get going. I have an appointment this afternoon to prepare for.”
“Oh right. I forgot. Well, you know your money’s no good when you’re with me, honey,” he said, winking at Judy. “Order what you like. I’ve got it.”
Arden smiled up at him sweetly before ordering. “Two regular macchiatos—no, make that grande macchiatos, a bag of regular ground coffee, and four gingerbread muffins. Oh, and you might as well throw in a couple of those ham paninis. It’s almost lunch time after all.”
Wade narrowed his eyes. “Two coffees, a bag of coffee, four muffins, and a couple of paninis, honey?”
“Yes, babycakes,” she said with an innocent smile. “I’ve been so very hungry lately. Gee, I hope I’m not eating for two.” When she gingerly pressed a hand on her belly, he choked.
“Uh, she’s kidding,” he told Judy, handing her the money. “That’s what I love about her.” He gave Arden a sidelong glare. “She’s so much fun to be around.”
Fun as a rabid rottweiler.
Judy winked as she gave him back his change. “Trying to one-up Kinsley with a baby, huh?”
He shook his head. “No. There’s no baby.”
“Yet,” Arden chimed in.
Wade gritted his teeth. At that very moment he wasn’t sure who he was more annoyed with: his nosy personal matchmaker or his sassy, fake, almost-pregnant girlfriend.
One of Judy’s staff came over to the counter and handed Arden her bag of food and take-out tray of coffees. “Thanks so much,” Arden said. She gave Wade a wide grin. “And thank you, baby lips.”
It’s babycakes. Couldn’t she even keep the nickname straight? She was a terrible fake girlfriend.
Judy chuckled. “You two are so cute together.”
Wade harrumphed as he watched Arden sashay to a side table for napkins. “See you later, Judy.” He pointed a finger at her before turning away. “Remember, no more matchmaking. Arden is very jealous.”
“Oh, of course.” The older woman folded her hands and seemed insulted. “I wouldn’t think of it now.”
Halleluiah. He was almost sure he heard angels singing, and hoped what Judy said was true. No more matchmaking. No more women. No more gifts. And if it were true, he needed to ensure pronto that his newfound-fake girlfriend didn’t blow his cover. He glanced around, and when he saw Arden had left, rushed out the door to catch up with her.
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Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of sweet (and sometimes even funny) romances for Montlake Romance and Entangled Publishing. Her novel, FIANCE BY FATE—a 2015 Readers’ Crown Finalist—became an Amazon #1 best seller for Series Romance. And recently, Wrong Brother, Right Match, WON the Sweet Traditional category of the 2017 Golden Quill Contest and became a #1 Amazon bestseller for Holiday Romance.
She resides in a beach resort in NJ, so when she’s not writing or working on her tan, she’s taking care of her most treasured possessions: her husband, daughter and puppy (Sox).
Check out her website for News and Links: www.jennifershirk.com
And don’t forget to join her mailing list for a chance to win monthly giveaways and free ARCs: eepurl.com/Q6TH1
Inheriting the Magnolia Inn, a Victorian home nestled in the East Texas pines, is a fantasy come true for Jolene Broussard. After living with the guilt of failing to rescue her self-destructive mother, Jolene knows her aunt and uncle’s B&B is the perfect jump start for a new life and a comforting place to call home. There’s just one hitch: stubborn and moody carpenter Tucker Malone. He’s got a half interest in the Magnolia Inn, and he’s planting his dusty cowboy boots squarely in the middle of her dream.
Ever since his wife’s death, Tucker’s own guilt and demons have left him as guarded as Jolene. The last thing he expects is for his new partner to stir something inside him he thought was gone forever. And as wary as Jolene is, she may have found a kindred spirit—someone she can help, and someone she can hold on to.
Restoring the Magnolia Inn is the first step toward restoring their hearts. Will they be able to let go of the past and trust each other to do it together?
Without doubt, Carolyn Brown is my go-to girl for all things sweet romance, small town life, and generally good writing. While I feel that way about her books in general, I have particularly fond feelings for The Magnolia Inn.
Though the opening chapters are a bit of a rough go for Jolene (her cousin is an ass!) she gets a plan of action in place quickly and prays for the best. Remodeling, refurbishing, and revamping the Magnolia Inn is going to take a monumental effort and even more money, but Jolene is dedicated and determined. As fate would have it, she isn’t going to be in the remodeling/refurbishing business alone.
Tucker Malone has spent the past months and years mourning the loss of his beloved wife. Tucker’s mourning takes the form of hard work during the week and hard drinking come the weekend. With a pile of money in his bank account and a desire to stay busy, Tucker buys a half interest in the Magnolia Inn. With every intention of getting right to work, Tucker strolls in, takes a look around, and makes a list of what needs to be done. With he and Jolene in near total agreement on the plan, the work begins and so does a new life for each.
Jolene can clearly see Tucker is hurting, but given her past experiences, she has no tolerance for drinking and drunks. Though Tucker only drinks “on the weekends” and never while he’s working, the Magnolia Inn is a huge job, Jolene is a tough cookie (you only get ONE hangover cure!), and the memories of his wife seem to be fading which is making every aspect of life even harder. What’s even tougher and more confusing, Jolene makes Tucker feel and want things he vowed to never feel and want again following the loss of his wife. He wants to do better and to be better if not for himself then for Jolene and the Magnolia Inn.
Keeping both Tucker and Jolene on their feet are Jolene’s aunt’s three best friends. Three of the feistiest old birds Jolene and Tucker have ever met, the ladies take the kids under their collective wings and help keep them moving in the right direction both professionally and personally. With those three involved, and frequent phone calls to and from Jolene’s aunt, Jolene and Tucker have no choice but to face their respective issues head on and get the Magnolia Inn up and running.
The Bottom Line: Hands down, my favorite part of this book would be those three feisty old birds who have a tendency to walk right on into a room without knocking, intervene in each other’s lives when and if needed, and generally be there for one another through all life’s ups and downs. It’s those three old birds who help Jolene and Tucker on their way to a beautiful HEA and very much bind every aspect of this book together. Another particularly interesting aspect of this book would be the recurring voices in both Jolene and Tucker’s heads; the voices not only give insight into Jolene and Tucker’s respective pasts but help each move forward toward a happy and fulfilling future. On top of everything else, this book is just well-written, easy to read, and completely engaging. Finally, it has a completely satisfying epilogue that just brought everything together for me. I am absolutely looking forward to anything and everything Carolyn Brown has for me in 2019!
As the third son of the Duke of Fordham, Alex never thought he’d become a duke. But he’s suddenly catapulted to the lofty title after his slightly older brother dies in his sleep. Now Alex has the onerous task of announcing the death to the woman his brother was to wed.
Ever pragmatic, Lady Georgiana Fenton insists on seeing the late duke’s body, and when she does, she’s convinced he was smothered as he slept. She and the new duke decide to secretly work together to uncover the murderer. But the longer they’re together, the harder it becomes to resist the duke’s scorching kisses–and even harder to dismiss him from the list of suspects. No one had more to gain by her fiancé’s death. . .
As I come to the end of The Lords of Eton trilogy, I find myself wishing two very different things: 1) I wish the Lords of Eton had a great many more friends so the series can go on and, 2) I am so glad the series is limited to these three alone as it is such a strong series that I have truly enjoyed.
Alex never considered he would become the Duke of Fordham; as the third son, his role was never meant to be a leader but as circumstances and life have shown, situations can change quickly and without warning. In the wake of the untimely deaths of his two elder brothers, Alex has assumed the title of Duke of Fordham and he must now readjust his thinking and his life to accommodate his new role. In a most unfortunate turn, Alex’s first act as Duke of Fordham is to inform his brother’s betrothed of his death.
Lady Georgiana Fenton is not to be trifled with. As the first born among her siblings, she has always, despite her small stature, been a forceful and somewhat aggressive woman with a fierce intelligence behind her actions. She is pragmatic, somewhat stoic and not at all accepting of the explanation of the cause of her fiancé’s death. In fact, Lady Georgiana is certain he was murdered and with the help of the new duke, she intends to prove just that!
To say Alex is intrigued by Lady Georgiana Fenton is putting is mildly. She isn’t at all the type of woman he is normally attracted to and yet, he finds himself drawn to her. With her sharp tongue, quick wit, and keen intelligence, she is match for Alex in every way imaginable. With the investigation into his brother’s demise between them, Alex finds ways to spend time with Lady Georgiana and though she often infuriates and vexes him, she also fascinates him. From Lady Georgiana’s perspective the new Duke of Fordham is a stubborn and most unusual man who, though not intended to be entitled, seems to be taking to the role quite nicely. In fact, from where Lady Georgiana is standing, Alex is ideally suited to his new role and approaches it in a far more serious manner than her late fiancé did. This, much to her great consternation pleases (and irritates 😊) Lady Georgiana.
The Bottom Line: If I haven’t said it before, I’m saying it now: Cheryl Bolen is one of my absolute favorite authors across all genres! Bolen always delivers for me with characters who aren’t just interesting, but real. Alex is immediately likeable, Lord Wycliff and Sinjin are clear favorites, and Lady Georgiana is the star of the show. This is one of the elements of Bolen’s writing I have always appreciated, she never writes simpering, incapable, or weak women, but women with their own thoughts and feelings, clear intelligence, a core strength that sustains them, and attitudes typically well ahead of there time and place. Hands down, one of my favorite character types!! As with nearly every other book by Bolen, and especially this trilogy, I blazed through this book in record time. There are enough twists and turns to keep you guess, the various tensions running through the whole book, and the presence of so many familiar and wonderful characters all dedicated to helping one another. While I certainly hate to see these characters go, I am also glad they are leaving as they are, with a clear sense of friendship, devotion, and loyalty to one another that has permeated the entire trilogy. Pay attention, lovers of historical romance and intrigue because this trilogy is for you and you’re not going to want to miss it 😊
SOPHIE MARKES just landed the ultimate writing gig–turning her award-winning superhero comic ‘Shadows of the Imperium’ into a screenplay for Card One Studios.
TRISTAN ECCLESTON just landed the ultimate acting role–playing the icy, brooding Lucius in Card One Studios’ newest blockbuster.
Sophie’s dream job quickly becomes a nightmare. Card One has completely changed her story, rendering it unrecognizable. Salvaging the script means plenty of on-set time… particularly with one unbearably gorgeous British actor.
Tristan’s dream role is more precarious than ever. His father, British acting royalty, and his scheming ex-girlfriend are determined to sabotage his “frivolous” gig. Avoiding them and their snobbish expectations means spending more and more time with the quiet, nerdy, and irresistible Sophie.
But when Sophie learns the truth behind her butchered script–when Tristan learns the truth behind Sophie’s icy facade–it’ll take more than the might of the Imperium to thaw their hearts.
One of her new coworkers.
He was a darling of… well, everything and everyone, it seemed like. Since he’d been cast as Morganna’s brother Lucius, Sophie had spent some time looking into him. Wunderkind of the British theater scene, only son of an acting dynasty that dated back centuries, he had a legendary charm that could infatuate even the iciest drama critic or interviewer. Not that he’d ever met anyone who didn’t like him, from the way articles absolutely gushed over him.
Sophie peered more closely at the tweet. Several pictures, all paired off, featured the actor in an expensive outfit on the left and increasingly fancy old cars on the right. Tristan in a red velvet smoking jacket over his bare chest, next to a glossy Jaguar from the 1960s. Tristan in profile looking moody, wearing blue pinstripes next to a Cadillac with huge fins. Obviously a commentary on the size of his nose. And finally, Tristan in a sleek black tuxedo from last year’s BAFTA awards, one strawberry blond curl springing out from his temple, next to…
Sophie zoomed in on the picture of the last car. A small photo credit at the bottom told her it was a 1938 Phantom Corsair. It looked like a giant bullet, or vibrator.
Who is this guy, and why does he have to be so embarrassing?
She flipped back to look at the editorial photo of him. Like this, for example. Who the hell wore Gucci and then faved photo posts by fans who made life-sized cardboard cutouts of him and posted pictures of themselves pretending to be asleep next to him for Instagram fame?
Sophie zoomed in on the V-shaped split where the velvet smoking jacket opened over the expanse of his chest. Comics Twitter claimed that his workout routine was mostly swimming—he hadn’t bulked up like so many of the Card One players who needed to fill out exoskeletons and spandex, but was focused on being lithe and hungry for power. The planes of his face and angle of the shot combined to make him look like he was gazing right at her, about to suggest that she remove her panties and come closer.
God, she kind of hated him.
Handsome, yes. Annoying and constantly mugging for attention, also yes.
They were going to cross paths on set, and it was going to take a lot of effort to not recall the infamous picture of Tristan on one knee pretending to propose to a girl giving an over-exaggerated look of shock and delight. Sophie tossed her phone to the head of the bed and found a robe to change into.
She could be polite, but ultimately distant. That was really all it required. She’d been raised with good manners.
Being polite and professional was no problem.
Jane Galaxy has the heart of a romantic and a brain full of pop culture knowledge. She loves to escape into the world of super-powered heroes and heroines with awesome abs who punch stuff, but putting them through their paces when it comes to the hard work of emotions and true love is even better. You can usually find her pining over gifs from ComicCon and coming up with the perfect song for a hot guy to play in the background of his latest angst-riddled workout session.
Navy SEAL Renzo Bianchi has a soft spot for Canaan Finley, and not only because the man makes a mean smoothie. He’s the first guy to get Renzo’s motor revving in a long time. But when he agrees to Canaan’s insane charade—one all-access fake boyfriend, coming right up—he never expects more than a fling.
Creating a hot Italian SEAL boyfriend to save face seemed like a good idea…until his friends called Canaan’s bluff. Now he’s setting off into the woods with the very man who inspired his deception, and Canaan is not the outdoorsy type. The sparks are already flying when a flash flood separates them from their group, leaving Renzo and Canaan very much trapped…very much alone in the wilderness.
Working together to come up with a plan for survival is sexier than either of them expects. But back in the real world, being a couple is bringing its own set of hazards…
The Bottom Line: I know I say this every single time I review one of these books, but they just keep getting better, staying totally fresh and relevant, and reaffirming my love of this genre. While I generally like one of the leads better than the other (in most books, let’s be fair!) but I found myself equally enamored with both Renzo and Canaan this time around. Renzo is such a wonderful blend of confidence and self-doubt, while Canaan is simply a care giver through and through. In other words, Renzo and Canaan are the perfect balance, perfect match for one another. To say Renzo and Canaan are put through the wringer is a vast understatement, yet through everything, they support and encourage one another, love one another, and try to overcome each obstacle one at a time. It isn’t all fun and games (and hiking trips) and as expected, there is an emotional roller coaster component to this that always make me quite happy. What else makes me happy?? Grandpa!! As far as secondary characters go, Grandpa kind of killed it and I am so glad to have had him along for the ride. In all, Rough Terrain was an excellent read and I am so glad to still be finding strength and variety in this series.
To make my dream come true I’ll do anything, even put up with an asshole like Leandros Kaplan. Four years, five tops and I’ll have enough money saved to stop working and write full time. I know lying to him to get the job is crazy and stupid. It’s as crazy and stupid as the requirement for his new assistant to be married. I’m not married, and I’m not like his past assistants, the ones who dropped sexual innuendo daily and then would hand him their underwear when he asked for reports. I’m a freaking virgin at thirty-one.
Just beyond the reach of the Twelve Kingdoms, avarice, violence, strategy, and revenge clash around a survivor who could upset the balance of power all across the map . . .
Once Ivariel thought elephants were fairy tales to amuse children. But her ice-encased childhood in Dasnaria’s imperial seraglio was lacking in freedom and justice.. With a new name and an assumed identity as a warrior priestess of Danu, the woman once called Princess Jenna is now a fraud and a fugitive. But as she learns the ways of the beasts and hones new uses for her dancer’s strength, she moves one day further from the memory of her brutal husband. Safe in hot, healing Nyambura, Ivariel holds a good man at arm’s length and trains for the day she’ll be hunted again.
She knows it’s coming. She’s not truly safe, not when her mind clouds with killing rage at unpredictable moments. Not when patient Ochieng’s dreams of a family frighten her to her bones. But it still comes as a shock to Ivariel when long-peaceful Nyambura comes under attack. Until her new people look to their warrior priestess and her elephants to lead them.
I was an Imperial Princess of Dasnaria and I grew up in paradise.
Tropically warm, lushly beautiful, replete with luxury, my childhood world was without flaw. My least whim was met with immediate indulgence, served instantly and with smiles of delight. My siblings and I spent our days in play, nothing ever asked or expected of us.
Until the day everything was demanded—and taken—from me.
Only then did I finally see our paradise for what it was, how deliberately designed to mold and shape us. A breeding ground for luxurious accessories. To create a work of art, you grow her in an environment of elegance and beauty. To make her soft and lusciously accommodating, you surround her with delicacies and everything delightful. And you don’t educate her in anything but being pleasing.
Education leads to critical thinking, not a desirable trait in a princess of Dasnaria, thus I was protected from anything that might taint the virginity of my mind as well as my body.
Because I’d understood so little of the world outside, when my time came to be plucked from the garden, when the snip of the shears severed me from all I’d known, the injury came as a shock so devastating that I had no ability to even understand what it meant, much less summon the will to resist and overcome. Which, I’ve also come to realize over time, was also a part of the deliberate design.
I wish I could take credit for extracting myself from the brutal horror of the marriage they forced me into, but I can’t. If not for my baby brother Harlan, I would’ve continued through the harsh winter of my wedding journey, my physical and emotional injuries muted by the numbing teas and smoke they supplied me with, and inevitably to worse torture and eventual death.
But Harlan broke me out and we escaped. Miraculously, I even made it onto a sailing ship, bound for a greater world I knew nothing about, while Harlan remained behind, a captive
of our ruthless family.
Even then, I likely couldn’t have survived on my own. Full of fear and ignorance, I barely left my cabin, having no idea what I might do with myself. Until Kaja, Warrior Priestess of Danu, coaxed and then forced me to face my future. She taught me to defend myself. She gave me a disguise and vows of chastity and silence to protect me from discovery.
She gave me my self back again.
And Ochieng… He gave me stories, a home, and my heart’s desire.
Without these people, I couldn’t have survived. But I can’t be the helpless kept princess all my life. At some point I need to find the warrior in myself.
If only I knew how.
Buy links can be found here
Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include novels, non-fiction, poetry, and short fiction. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award.
Her award-winning fantasy romance trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms hit the shelves starting in May 2014. Book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose received a Top Pick Gold and was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014. The third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books followed in this world, beginning the spin-off series The Uncharted Realms. Book one in that series, The Pages of the Mind, has also been nominated for the RT Reviewer’s Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2016 and won RWA’s 2017 RITA® Award. The second book, The Edge of the Blade, released December 27, 2016, and is a PRISM finalist, along with The Pages of the Mind. The next in the series, The Shift of the Tide, will be out in August, 2017. A high fantasy trilogy taking place in The Twelve Kingdoms world is forthcoming from Rebel Base books in 2018.
She also introduced a new fantasy romance series, Sorcerous Moons, which includes Lonen’s War, Oria’s Gambit, The Tides of Bàra, and The Forests of Dru. She’s begun releasing a new contemporary erotic romance series, Missed Connections, which started with Last Dance and continues in With a Prince.
In 2019, St. Martins Press will release the first book, The Orchid Throne, in a new fantasy romance series, The Forgotten Empires.
Her other works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion; an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera; and the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, which includes Going Under, Under His Touch and Under Contract.
She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.
Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency.
Meet Graham Tettersaw, former star quarterback. He blew his first shot at success, but now he has a second chance at playing football . . . and at having a life.
Graham’s not about to squander this new opportunity with a rising team. No way. They’re about to make his dreams come true, even If they did just add a weird clause that he’s supposed to pretend some random chick is his girlfriend.
Teams can be weird about stuff. But Graham can play along. After all, it’s all about forward progress.
In football, getting the ball down the field and scoring is goal number one. Life isn’t all that much different. That’s why Graham is hoping to do some scoring of his own off the field. Especially when he finds out the pretend girlfriend the team has picked out for him, Eden Vetterly, is beyond hot.
But it’s not all about sex.
Graham really likes Eden.
And she likes him too—a lot.
Too bad the team just changed all the rules.
Graham Tettersaw’s life hasn’t been his own in many years. Following a career-ending injury and a bout with painkiller addiction, Graham has dedicated his life to getting clean and helping others. With most of his charges now living their best life, it’s time for Graham to look to his own life and future. With a new agent and a new opportunity before him, Graham is ready to roll with the change and hopefully find a bright new future.
At the top of Graham’s bright new future list is a chance to return to professional football. Everyone knows he can’t step right back into his old life, but he can take a chance on something new. While it’s not the NFL, it is an up and coming league and one of the teams is looking for a quarterback who can lead them into the future. Trouble is, Graham isn’t as young as he used to be and everyone, including the management people of his new team know Graham’s background. If Graham is to have his second chance, he must agree to a few rules and requirements, the most dramatic of which is the presence of a woman in his life.
As a part of Graham’s shiny new contract comes Eden Vetterly, a waitress who lives less than paycheck to paycheck, has a younger brother who just got accepted to an expensive art school, and nothing but a positive attitude to see her through. Eden is gorgeous, kind, funny, smart, and just the right kind of girl to give Graham the positive, stable persona the team wants to cultivate for him. According to Eden’s contract with the team, she is to be Graham’s live-in girlfriend and the person who keeps him moving forward on a straight and narrow path. The money is good and with her brother’s future at stake, Eden signs on the dotted line.
As expected, the fake relationship between Graham and Eden very quickly evolves into something real. Fulfilling their contracts with the team isn’t at all hard until the team decides to shake things up and take Graham’s public persona in a whole new direction. With more than a few ups and downs, Eden and Graham have to work out how to navigate difficult situations and not violate their respective contracts. Neither can afford to five up what they have, but they also can’t afford to give up one another.
The Bottom Line: I think Forward Progress is one of those books you just have to take for exactly what it is, a relatively light, low drama, medium heat read that isn’t at all taxing to the reader. While that doesn’t sound like much of an endorsement, it really is one. I found the story good, the characters likeable, and the plot to have just enough drama to keep me interested and wanting to know the outcome. In truth, had I not started this book at 2 a.m., it would have been a single sitting read. This is an easy read and with likeable characters it isn’t at all a burden to get through. However, if I am to continue with this series, and I WANT to, I would like to see a bit more depth to the characters and the plot lines. Graham has an entire team of men with stories that need to be told and digging deeper with more complex plots is just what each of these men deserves 😊 As Graham likes to say, as long as there’s forward progress . . . .
“You want me to do what?”
Irritated, I grab a water from the mini-fridge, take a swig, and slam the bottle down on the table in the middle of the living room of the hotel suite I’m in.
“You’re fucking crazy, Jock,” I sneer.
“It wasn’t my idea, Graham,” he replies, unfazed by my outburst as he sits quietly on the sofa. “I told you the added stipulation in the new contract the Comets are offering was completely new to me too.”
“It’s fucking loco is what it is,” I grumble.
It’s true. This latest development in contract negotiations is truly nuts. They want me to pretend to have a fake girlfriend.
Are they off their rockers?
“How’s this even supposed to work?” I ask.
“We’re hammering out the details.”
“Great. Do I at least get to meet this mystery woman before I sign?”
“No. There’s no time for that. You will meet her, though, before the season begins.”
“Whatever,” I huff. “I can’t believe I’m supposed to pretend to be dating a girl I’ve never even seen. To top it off, I get to meet her just once, then I’m expected to act as if we’re in a serious relationship.”
“Pretty much,” Jock confirms.
This is bad, but there’s something more I’m struggling with—I’m supposed to also fucking move in with this pretend girlfriend.
Could it get any worse?
S.R. Grey is an Amazon Top 30 Bestselling Author and a #1 Barnes & Noble Bestselling Author. Check out her newest bestselling Boys of Winter hockey rom-com series. Each is a complete standalone novel, but the characters are interconnected and may pop up anywhere. Ms. Grey’s novels have appeared on multiple Amazon Bestseller Lists, including the Top 100 several times. She is also a Top 100 Bestselling Author on iTunes. Residing in Pennsylvania, when not writing Ms. Grey can be found reading, traveling, running, and cheering for her hometown sports teams. Sometimes all at the same time!
Winter has come to Wildwood Cove, and riding in on the chill is Wally Fowler. Although he’s been away for years, establishing his reputation as the self-proclaimed Waffle King, the wealthy blowhard has returned to the coastal community to make money, not friends—by pitting his hot and trendy Waffle Kingdom against Marley McKinney’s cozy pancake house, The Flip Side. Wally doesn’t see anything wrong in a little healthy competition, until he’s murdered in his own state-of-the art kitchen.
Marley isn’t surprised when the authorities sniff around The Flip Side for a motive, but it’s her best friend Lisa who gets grilled, given her sticky history with the victim. When a second murder rocks the town, it makes it harder than ever for Marley to clear Lisa’s name. Marley’s afraid that she’s next in line to die—and the way things are looking, the odds of surviving her investigation could be stacked against her.
The Bottom Line: UGH! For the second time in just a few days, I find myself at odds with a cozy mystery series. Yet again, I have come to the point where the setting of the series seems to be what’s keeping me tied to the series and that just isn’t enough any longer. The bit of this book I enjoyed the most was the secondary plot line which had absolutely nothing to do with the primary focus of the book. In truth, I found the primary plot line to be somewhat dull and the growth in some of the primary characters (Marley, Brett, Ivan) to be, minimal at best. While I appreciate this is a cozy mystery, I think this series has gotten a bit too cozy for me and that is what’s leading me to call it a day with the Pancake House Mystery series. To remain engaged, excited, and entertained, I need more action (appropriate to the genre), more character growth, and more interesting plot lines. From a technical perspective, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this book, and I cannot fault the author one bit on this component, but I don’t think that’s going to be enough to bring me back for round five.
“I didn’t reply. I couldn’t. Seeing this man’s naked private parts had not rendered me speechless but watching him lick ice cream off his finger had.” – June Tucker
June Tucker doesn’t understand people. Numbers, data, and statistics? Those make sense. People? Not so much. In a town of Friday night fighters and moonshine-swilling line dancers, she’s the odd duck. And that suits her just fine. But her sister and friends are pairing off, and the change is unsettling.
George “GT” Thompson was at the top of his game—one of the best receivers in football. But a career-ending injury sidelined him for good. Now he’s hoping to find relief in the healing waters of this tiny West Virginia town. And maybe an idea of what life has in store for him next.
He doesn’t expect the no-nonsense girl at the hot spring, telling him he’s not supposed to be there. And pointing out his sizeable… equipment.
George is fascinated by June, with her head full of statistics and blunt honesty. He appreciates her in a way most others don’t. And when the local missing persons case takes a shocking turn, he’s by Scooby-June’s side as she digs for the truth.
He was her fantasy receiver. Now he’s her real-life boyfriend. But as their relationship heats up, June worries she’s not capable of the kind of intimacy he needs. He’s convinced his campaign to get her out of her own head—to stop thinking and feel—will work. But his own crisis could drive them further apart.
Claire Kingsley writes smart, sexy romances with sassy and often quirky heroines, swoony heroes who love their women hard, panty-melting sexytimes, romantic happily ever afters, and ALL the big feels.
She can’t imagine life without coffee, her Kindle, and the sexy heroes who inhabit her imagination. She’s living out her own happily ever after in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and three kids.
This summer, Eastport’s favorite lovebirds, kindergarten teacher Sharon Sweetwater and Coast Guard Captain Andy Devine, are getting married. The gala reception is sure to be the fête of the season, especially with a wedding-cake-sized whoopie pie courtesy of The Chocolate Moose. For Jake and Ellie, the custom-ordered confection will finally reel in some much-needed profits. But the celebratory air, and sweet smell of success, are ruined by foul murder. When Sharon’s bitter ex-boyfriend Toby is poisoned with an arsenic-laced milkshake, Andy is jailed as the prime suspect and the wedding is cancelled, whoopie pie and all. Then Sharon makes a shocking confession—one that sounds like a fishy attempt to get Andy off the hook. Now both the bride and groom are behind bars. And with the fate of The Chocolate Moose at stake, it’s up to Jake and Ellie to catch a poisonous predator before someone else sips their last dessert.
The Bottom Line: I simply adore the setting of this series, but I can’t say I am blown away by any other element of this book. While Jake and Ellie are fine characters and I don’t dislike them by any stretch of the imagination, I just haven’t felt, after two books, that I really want and/or need to know more about them. I thought this second book would sort of straighten out and really pull me in as far as the characters go, but I didn’t find that to be the case at all. As I mentioned in my first review, these women are already fully developed characters with an entire history stemming from a previous series. With that in mind, I can’t see a great deal of room for growth which is something I demand out of my characters. I very much liked the descriptions of the Chocolate Moose and the sweet treats Jake and Ellie create, but I found myself mentally wandering off as I was reading about something other than the Moose and its delectable offerings. Since this is meant to be a cozy mystery and I kept wandering during the mystery bits, I can’t see this being a good omen for me continuing with this series. The ultimate assessment is this: yes, I liked this book, I even thoroughly enjoyed some bits, but there are so many series in this genre that one must really set itself apart to keep my attention and keep me coming back for more. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Death by Chocolate series sets itself far enough apart to keep me coming back for another round. Wile I am going to miss the Chocolate Moose, I am quite sure I can find another series with an equally awesome setting that has a bit more bite and ability to draw me in and keep me ensnared.
Jake and Ellie have been through a lot together, from home repair to homicide investigation. So when they decide to open a chocolate-themed bakery, they figure it’ll be a piece of cake. With Ellie’s old family recipes luring in customers, they expect to make plenty of dough this Fourth of July weekend. Having family home for the holiday only sweetens the deal for Jake—until the ill wind of an early-season hurricane blows up her plans. When the storm hits, Jake’s grown son Sam is stranded in a Boston bus station, and her husband Wade is stuck on a cargo ship. But as bitter as the storm is, something even more sinister is brewing in the kitchen of The Chocolate Moose—where health inspector Matt Muldoon is found murdered.
Ellie never made a secret of her distaste for Matt, who had been raining on their parade with bogus talk of health code violations. Now, with no alibi for the night of the murder, she’s in a sticky situation with the police—and it’s up to Jake to catch the real killer and keep Ellie living in the land of the free.
The Bottom Line: As far as I can tell (and I did a search!) this is my first Sarah Graves book and, in general, I liked the read. Jake and Ellie are fine characters who have been fully and completely developed, are smart and dedicated women, with a tendency to become involved in investigations. As I discovered as I listened along, Jake and Ellie have a history in another Sarah Graves’ series which gave them an entire background and back story I was not privy too. While there were certain aspects of this read where that hindered me, by and large, you don’t have to have read the other series (Home Repair is Homicide) to enjoy the start of this one. Aside from the backstory bit, there is A LOT going on in this first read and I think it fell into some of the pitfalls so common to first-in-a-series books. For example, there are ALL the characters, a plot that became very involved and somewhat unnecessarily complex, and the opening and descriptions of a new business venture for Ellie and Jake. My favorite part of this read, and what’s got me moving on to the second book, is the description of the new business and all the tasty treats that come out of the Chocolate Moose. What’s more, I think, once this series settles in and I get a grip on all the permanent characters, I’m really going to enjoy the sleuthing and chocolating adventures of Jake and Ellie!