Review: Small Town Rumors by Carolyn Brown

Small Town RumorsEveryone is talking about Jennie Sue Baker and the mess she made of her life in New York. The former high school queen bee—and wealthy darling of Bloom, Texas—has returned home after all these years, riding on a common bus and bearing two bounced alimony checks. In a town that thrives on gossip, Jennie’s fall from grace has shamed her mother, set the town buzzing, and caused old, jealous enemies to whisper in delight. They say she’s taken a job as a housekeeper, gotten a garage apartment, and might be crushing on Rick Lawson, a simple farmer with modest dreams.  As romance starts to bud, Jennie relishes what it means to follow her heart, find real new friends, and finally be herself—regardless of all the lying town chatter. But fate has another twist in store. Rumor has it that Jennie now stands to lose what matters most…unless she can convince Rick of one true thing—and that’s love.

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Source: Netgalley          My Rating: 4½/5 stars

Holy Hannah is it hot in Bloom, Texas!!  Jennie Sue Baker is back in town and the town is alight with gossip.  Not only is she back in town, but she showed up on a bus, doesn’t have her husband in tow, and only brought one suitcase with her.  The icing on the cake, she looks terrible and her momma is the first one to tell her so.

Jennie Sue Baker doesn’t particularly care what anyone thinks about her.  Yes, she’s gained ten pounds, yes, she’s wearing jeans and sneakers, and yes, her ex husband ran off with another woman right before the IRS seized all their property and froze their accounts.  To say Jennie Sue Baker has more important things to worry about than what other people think, doesn’t even scratch the surface.  With less than a thousand dollars, no job, and only her parent’s home to run to, Jennie Sue Baker is home and determined to turn her life around.  Jennie Sue is resolved in her mission, she will never again be a pretty piece of arm candy to a man who doesn’t love or even care about her, and she will never again be dependent on anyone other than herself. 

Jennie Sue’s momma has other plans . . . .

In less than 24 hours, Jennie Sue’s momma has made her position clear: her only daughter will lose weight, she’ll get a proper wardrobe, she’ll take her overall appearance and attitude more seriously, and by Christmas, she’ll have a new fiancé if not husband, of proper social standing.  What’s more, in order to secure the first part of her plan, there will need to be a damn good cover story spread around town to account for Jennie Sue’s sudden appearance in Bloom and her lack of a husband and money.  Nothing is going to get in the way of Jennie Sue’s momma and her grand plan, and if something does, well, she just may die from the humiliation.

Jennie Sue has other plans . . . .

Determined to thwart her momma and her momma’s ridiculous plans, Jennie Sue leaves her childhood home and heads into town.  A bus got her there and a bus can get her out too.  But, before she can hop the next bus out of town, Jennie Sue runs into Lettie and Nadine, two of Bloom’s oldest and wealthiest woman who happen to be looking for a new house keeper.  If Jennie Sue will clean the ladies’ homes and help them run errands, she can take up residence in the garage apartment and share meals with the old girls as needed.  House cleaning will only take up a couple days a week which leaves Jennie Sue three more days of the week to run the old bookstore.  In short order, Jennie Sue has herself two jobs with some benefits, a place to live and call her own, and a few new friends who seem truly interested in helping her.  Oh yes, her momma is going to absolutely die from the shame and humiliation!

As Jennie Sue begins to settle into her new life and routine, she finds she is truly happy for the first time in many years.  Lettie and Nadine are positively blessings, the bookstore is a Godsend, and her time with Rick Lawson, local farmer, is an exciting new prospect.  For the first time in her life, Jennie Sue is standing on her own, doing as she pleases, and sincerely enjoying the modest lifestyle she is carving out for herself.   Among her new friends, there are no pretensions, no judgements (OK, there is Cricket!), and nothing but kindness and support.  This is well and truly a whole new world for Jennie Sue and she can’t ever see herself going back to the false, fake, horribly judgmental world of her mother.  All that’s left to do is settle with the ghosts of her past, find some common ground with her momma, and move forward with her newfound happiness.

The Bottom Line:  I just sunk right into this crazy story and didn’t care to crawl out until the very end.  Bloom, Texas is one crazy place that would positively dry up if it weren’t for the rumor mill. 😊  Jennie Sue Baker is a character who’s hard to dislike and as her story unfolds, I found myself liking her more and more.  Though she clearly loves her momma and daddy, she has had enough of their fake world/existence and wants something far more authentic for herself and her future.  To be sure, there are a lot of obstacles, but with the small group of new friends she’s made, Jennie Sue is more confident than ever in her ability to succeed.  At its core, Small Town Rumors is about love, friendship, loyalty, overcoming, and living the best life possible, with or without a boatload of money.  This book has a bit of everything I adore in my books: there’s light romance, there’s light conflict, there’s a great deal of backstory/history, and there are some crazy little old ladies who just keep the overall mood light.  Though there are some truly sad moments throughout this story, it is ultimately a happy ending I found to be immensely satisfying.

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Spotlight: Foolish Games (A Cartwright Brother Romance) by Lilliana Anderson

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I didn’t have an easy life. Waiting tables for a function centre was about as good as life got for me. There were no tips—unless telling me I had a great arse could be considered a tip—but it was enough for me to live on, barely. Everything else I needed, I took. And I was never caught, except that one time when these brothers and some weird chick busted me for stealing their car. It was their fault I took it. They shouldn’t have left their keys where I could find them. And it was a sweet ride; I chucked a couple of donuts in that thing and it smoked up like a charm. Good times. Anyway, those guys took the car back, turned my boyfriend into a pussy and ended up making me homeless. When I saw that same car again in the function centre parking lot, I couldn’t resist. I pulled out my keys and started scratching. C… U… busted. I should’ve known it was a bad idea, but I never was one to listen to my conscience. Suddenly I was locked in a room while a family of five ridiculously hot brothers argued over what to do with me. Their mother wanted me dead, but they were insisting that stealing and vandalism weren’t necessarily grounds for a beheading. I was on their side. I quite liked my head—even though it seemed like I’d just gotten myself in way over it. 
But do you know what was crazy? The brother I’d stolen from, the one who’d caught me defacing his car, was now watching me like a lion watches a big juicy steak. Hmm, maybe I could spin this in my favour after all….

Bestselling Author of the Beautiful Series, Drawn and 47 Things, Lilliana has always loved to read and write, considering it the best form of escapism that the world has to offer.
Australian born and bred, she writes New Adult Romance revolving around her authentically Aussie characters with all the quirks you’d expect from those born Down Under.  Lilliana feels that the world should see Australia for more than just it’s outback and tries to show characters in a city and suburban setting.  When she isn’t writing, she wears the hat of ‘wife and mother’ to her husband and four children.  Before Lilliana turned to writing, she worked in a variety of industries and studied humanities and communications before transferring to commerce/law at university.  Originally from Sydney’s Western suburbs, she currently lives a fairly quiet life in suburban Melbourne.

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Spotlight and Sweepstakes: Regency Romance Box Set, A Scoundrel’s Ruin featuring Christina McKnight

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A Scoundrel's Ruin_HiResDance With Me At Midnight by Samantha Holt: Charles always knew he’d be married within months of inheriting his title. He’s fully prepared to wed a woman he’s never met by summer. Until he meets her that is.  Eloise is nothing like the poised, elegant and controlled woman he thought she’d be. Beautiful, yes, even with a damned parrot sitting on her shoulder, but hardly marchioness material. Even if he does find himself a little intrigued by her.

Stealing the Rogue’s Heart by Erica Monro: When underworld princess Mina Mason falls for her childhood best friend, Charlie Thatcher, their passion starts a rival gang war that threatens to inflame London. With darkness and danger at every turn, these two star-crossed lovers risk it all for love.

For The Love of a Widow by Christina McKnight: After years spent following her husband as he fought against Napoleon’s troops, Lady Lettie Hughes returns to London as a widow to take her place in Polite Society as the daughter of an earl. When nightmares of the battlefield plague her, she’ll find a second chance at love with the man she lost six years before.

Stolen by My Knave by Dawn Brower: Jackerson Carwyn, the Duke of Whitewood hasn’t led the charmed life some believe, and in fact, grew up in the worst parts of London. Lady Elizabeth Kendall grew up on whimsical tales told by her mother. They are an unlikely match, and yet, sometimes its hard to dismiss the ties of the heart.

Taming a Savage Gentleman by Tammy Andresen: Baroness Segrave needs a husband for society’s sake but she’d prefer he have no opinion at all. Which is why the Earl of Loudoun seems the ideal choice. With no fortune and a drinking habit, he should allow her to keep running her estate while living off the allowance she’d provide. But Loudoun proves to be both drunk and foolish. Suddenly a husband who is strong, capable, and appreciative of her gifts gains merit in her eyes. A man like Tom Maddox.

Scandalous Wallflower by Amanda Mariel: Jane and Caleb are brought together through an unwanted circumstance and discover something neither one believed they’d ever have, but can they let go of old hurts and beliefs long enough to embrace the gift fate bestowed upon them?

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About the author and where to find her:

christina-photoChristina McKnight is a book lover turned writer. From a young age, her mother encouraged her to tell her own stories. She’s been writing ever since.  Christina enjoys a quiet life in Northern California with her family, her wine, and lots of coffee. Oh, and her books…don’t forget her books! Most days she can be found writing, reading, or traveling the great state of California.

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Review: The Lucky Dress by Aimee Brown

The Lucky Dress

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Emi Harrison hasn’t been feeling particularly lucky lately. Ever since her ex-fiancée, Jack Cabot, successfully shattered her heart into a million pieces. She’s managed to avoid him for a whole year, but all that’s about to change at her brother Evan’s wedding…  She will have to face Jack, Jack’s sister, Jack’s parents, and Jack’s new girlfriend: a mean girl that just won’t quit. What could possibly go wrong?  But with her lucky dress on, she might just find new love, life, and maybe even happiness at last!

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Source: Netgalley          My Rating: 4/5 stars

For the past year, Emi Harrison has been living a lie!  Oh, she tells everyone who asks, especially her best friend, that she’s crazy happy with her new life, her new business, and the extra twentyish pounds she’s packed on.  She also tells everyone who asks, especially herself that she is completely over the lying, cheating bastard known as Jack Cabot, ex-fiancé.  With the coming over her twin brother’s wedding, Emi Harrison is going to have ample opportunity to prove to everyone, including herself just how over Jack Cabot she is!

One plane ride later . . . .

Stepping back into her old stomping grounds is just as nerve-wracking as Emi thought it would be!  Everywhere she turns, there is a reminder of her five-year life with Jack, the places they frequented, the people they liked and loved, and the promise of a happy future together.  Unfortunately, that happiness was stripped away in one horrifying afternoon and evening a year ago when Emi walked in on Jack with another woman sprawled across his body; just a few hours later, she watched in horror as he left another woman into the home they once so happily shared. 

Yeah, there may be some unresolved issues on both sides . . . .

Emi walks into her old life with every intention of supporting her twin brother, his ridiculous bride to be, and their wedding events!  Emi wants happiness for her brother, but she is a member of the bridal party and so is her ex.  With every intention of behaving herself and not causing a scene, Emi promises everyone she’ll be on her best behavior.  All she must do is follow through on that promise and that quickly proves far, far easier said than done.  The moment Jack walks in to the first event with another woman on his arm, Emi loses her damn fool mind and the shenanigans don’t stop until the very last page!

The Bottom Line:  I read The Lucky Dress in a single sitting and laughed my way through most of this book!  Emi is utterly ridiculous and the recipient of some most unfortunate luck!  As it happens, that run of bad luck has been with her far longer than even she’s aware.  Which leads to my favorite part of this book, the way the story is broken down and told.  The chapters alternate between the present and the past with the chapters dedicated to the present moving forward and revealing a great number of truths and secrets, while the chapters dedicated to the past move backward in time tracing Jack and Emi’s relationship from the moment they broke up to their first meeting. I found this type of storytelling to be most conducive to plot, and it totally fed into my love of past meets present and loads of backstory/history!  Overall, this is a delightful little rom/com that has some moving moments, some sad moments, but mostly a lot of funny/ridiculous moments that play perfectly with the characters and their respective personalities! 

P.S. If you’re like me and turn every available page, then you also know the hot bar owner/fake date is getting his own story sometime next year 😊

Pre-order now for the August 7, 2018 release: Amazon | Kobo

 

Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Angry Annie by Dawn L. Chiletz

 

Joslyn Walters has goals:

1. Infiltrate the life of the internet troll, Annie McClintonuck, who wrote a nasty review for her sister’s bakery before it even opened.

2. Write an article exposing Annie for a fraud, thereby catapulting Joslyn’s stalled career from fact-checker to journalist.

3. Flirt with, but don’t fall for, said troll’s hot, seemingly shy, incredibly edible next door neighbor, Rhode Bennett.

4. Try not to let one week change her life.

Not all trolls are cute and fuzzy but some lemons are gold in disguise.
Dear Reader:
STOP. Don’t waste your time going any further. This book sucks like a plunger in a toilet bowl. I don’t know what to say about this woman’s lack of talent. I’d like to call her an author, but just because you put a bunch of words on paper doesn’t make you a writer. Heck, my cousin’s five-year-old granddaughter wrote a three-sentence story about pizza that’s better than this. Dawn . . . what kind of ’70s hippie name is that, anyway? People name their kid Dawn when they’re too lazy to think of a real name. I’ve always preferred dusk to Dawn and she’s reminded me why. Go watch TV instead. Save your money. You’re welcome.
Annie McClintonuck

 

Dawn L. Chiletz resides in Illinois with her two boys and three dogs. Her love of reading began at a young age and continued into adulthood. Armed with a dream from the night before, she sat down at her laptop in the summer of 2014 and started the words to her first book, The Contest. She’s been writing ever since. When she’s not binge reading or writing you can most likely find her on social media avoiding laundry.

To find out more information, including her upcoming signings, please visit her website at https://www.dawnlchiletz.com
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Mini-Review: The Princess (Book #5: Montagues Series) by Elizabeth Elliott

The Princess

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Married and widowed at a tender age, Princess Isabel Plantagenet understands her duty: to wed a new husband chosen by her father for the purpose of consolidating his power. Faulke Segrave, a rogue suspected of high treason whose past wives died under mysterious circumstances, is hardly suitor material, but his piercing blue eyes spark a fire in Isabel that makes her feel oddly safe and deeply curious. Quite a pair they will make, for she has dark secrets of her own that can never see the light of day.  Faulke does not relish this arrangement any more than his bride does, but he can’t deny his attraction to this poised, beautiful woman whose level gaze and strong command make him ache to have her. Her seduction becomes his conquest, even as deception and murderous scheming draw closer, threatening Faulke’s life, his heritage, and his cherished wife.

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Source: Netgalley          My Rating: 3/5 stars

The Bottom Line: As a means of full disclosure, I had no idea this book is the fifth in an ongoing series.  I tend to have an aversion to reading a series out of order, but don’t really feel like I was missing anything of great significance by reading this book as a standalone.   It took me far longer than usual to finish this book, because I never found anything in it to just set me on edge and make me want to keep going until the very end.  I can’t say I found anything wrong with the book, the writing is fine, the characters, are fine, the plot is fine, but fine isn’t exactly a rousing recommendation.  For myself, I wanted more from this book in terms of its depth, depth of character, depth of plot, even depth of general description.   While I generally enjoy this particular genre, and I found this book to be OK,  I don’t think this book is going to appeal to the hardcore lovers of the genre. 

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Review: The Perfect Catch: Based on the Hallmark Channel Original Movie by Cassidy Carter

Perfect CatchIn the small town of Parker Falls, Jessica Parker spends her time serving pie and coming up with ideas to save the failing diner she inherited from her grandfather. A single mom to eight-year-old Wesley, she has enough to keep her busy well into the future. But when her old high school love, Chase Taynor, unexpectedly pops up, Jess finds herself thinking not of the future but of her past with the handsome professional baseball player.   After a few bad pitches leave his dream career in limbo, Chase slides back home to Parker Falls…although the town may not be as safe as he’d expected. As Jess and Chase reconnect, old feelings return in a major-league way.   With the possibility that Chase could return to the baseball diamond at any time, will their reunion be worth the risk to their hearts? Or will it be déjà vu all over again, with Chase choosing the limelight over the woman he loved before the fame?

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Source: Netgalley          My Rating: 4½/5 stars

Parker Falls is a small town, a community, a place where no matter your circumstances, you can come home to a welcoming group of friends and family.  In the worst way possible, Chase Taynor is learning this lesson.  As a professional baseball player, Chase has spent more than a decade in the limelight, but his last game hung on his talents, he just couldn’t pull it off, and the whole world saw his failure.  With no new contract and no teams knocking on his door, Chase has headed home to lay low and pray for a miracle.

His first day back in town, Chase runs into the girl who got away, Jessica Parker.  Chase’s career and Jessica’s family circumstances separated the two more than a decade ago, and though he has dated other women, none of them were Jessica Parker.  Chase doesn’t intend to be home for long but hanging out with Jessica seems to be the perfect way to pass the time and forget about his troubles for just a little while. 

Jessica Parker and her young son Wesley haven’t had the greatest run over the last couple of years.  Wesley’s dad needed to “get away to find himself” and their family restaurant hasn’t been bringing in business the way it used to.  What’s more, Jessica’s safe-won’t-break-her-heart boyfriend isn’t at all what he started out to be.  While he is still friendly, he doesn’t seem quite as invested in the relationship as he once did. Lately, he’s seemed more interested in growing his insurance business than he is in being with Jessica and Wesley.  When Chase Taynor walks back into her life and restaurant, Jessica isn’t quite sure if he’s part of the not so great run of luck or something entirely different.

Though Jessica is somewhat wary of Chase’s presence, Wesley isn’t at all wary.  In fact, with Chase’s help, Wesley begins to come out of his shell and truly enjoy his extracurricular activities.  In fact, with Chase’s help, Wesley is becoming quite the baseball player!  Jessica loves seeing her young son so happy, and because of his change, she begins to think about some changes in her own life.  Though change often involves risk, Jessica is ready for the challenge, and if she doesn’t do something, she’s going to lose everything.

The Bottom Line:  Y’all I am stupid in love with these based on the Hallmark Channel Original Movie books!!  These books are exactly what I love about Hallmark movies, there’s just enough conflict to keep things interesting, there are sweet characters you really want to see succeed, and, of course there’s the guaranteed HEA.  Chase, Jessica, and Wesley are all simply delightful characters and it was wonderful seeing each one receives their own unique and collective second chance.  Second chance romance, coming home stories, yeah, this is the best of all things romance and well worth an afternoon of your life 😊

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