Excerpt: Heart Full of Stars by Linda Govik

 photo Heart Full of Stars_zpsd1xvvh0n.jpgAn unthinkable scandal drives Darcy Clarke from her jet-set life as a marriage counselor to the rich and famous in Beverly Hills. Taking on another identity to escape the hounding media, she accepts a job as a yoga teacher at a remote Scottish castle, where the owner Aidan McAllister counts on her to save the place from going under. Aidan, jarred by life and determined not to get hurt in love, reluctantly warms up to Darcy and starts to believe in a bright future once again. With Darcy’s lies building up just as steadily and inevitably as her attraction to Aidan, life in the countryside becomes more and more complex. Then, one day, her past comes back to haunt her.
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Excerpt from Heart Full of Stars:

She stood there for a minute, watching the view as though she wanted to imprint every detail in her memory. He couldn’t see her face but wondered what she was thinking. Did she miss the States? Was she wondering how anyone could live in such a desolate place? Or was she in awe? He hoped the latter. A ray of sunshine broke through the clouds, shooting straight across the mountain—Beinn Tomaidh, as it was called—into the Loch Darroch, from which the town had gotten its name. The light reflected in the water and made it shimmer green and gold. Then, the clouds closed in on themselves again, and the loch grew dark, an unblinking black eye by the foot of the mountain.

“I understand now.”

He blinked, drawn from his thoughts by the sound of Daisy’s voice. She turned around to face him. With her face aglow, her eyes shimmering and her soft colors, he was struck by the sudden notion that there was something in the room whose beauty competed with that of the view.

“This is Scotland. This, right here. Its soul. Does that sound cheesy?”

He cleared his throat. “Not at all.”

“I understand why people would come here. All year-round. We must make sure they know it exists.” She chewed her lip and sent the view another glance. “How bad is it?”

“Pardon me?”

Her brows furrowed with impatience. “I’ve already understood your financial situation is bad. But how bad? How long do you have before you have to close down?”

Darkness. It lowered itself over his senses as quickly as the disappearing ray of light over the loch. Suddenly, it became hard to breathe, and the sudden panic made him take a step back.

“I think we’re done here,” he said. He didn’t quite recognize his own voice. It was as though someone was talking through him—and that person’s voice was both deeper and rougher.

Blindly, his airways tightening, he made his way to the door and headed downstairs, without taking care to see if she followed.


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About the author and where to find her:

 

 photo Heart Full of Stars Author Linda Govik_zpsbztja2ny.jpg Linda Govik is Swedish, born and bred. She grew up in what could be described as a ghetto to Gothenburg, but survived it fairly unscathed (in those days, bomb threats to the school meant a day off, and wasn’t really a big thing), and when she met her husband, they moved further up north to a small coastal town, where she now resides, a stone’s throw from the sea.

Cats, coffee and exercise is what sustains her (but unfortunately so does food, which is why the effects of all this exercise still doesn’t make her look like Tinkerbell… but she’s also (fortunately) old enough not to care), and, needless to say, she also loves writing. And reading, any genre.

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Excerpt: Still Breathing by E.A. Fournier

 photo Still Breathing - eBook_zps7ul4ce30.jpgNewly widowed and on the threshold of seventy, Lizzie Warton questions the value of her remaining years. Uncharacteristically, she decides for the first time in her life to do what she wants, instead of what everyone expects.

Against the wishes of family and friends, she sets out for Africa to work at a Ugandan middle school. When she lands at night in the Entebbe airport, her hosts are not there to meet her. Near panic, she hires a local taxi. The driver drugs her, steals everything, and dumps her limp body in a slum. Waking in the dark, she feels someone tugging off her shoes.

Without money, a passport, clothes, or medications, Lizzie is forced to start over and find a way to survive.

Soon she learns that nothing in Africa is as it appears. The grind of daily life in the third-world is beyond anything Lizzie imagined. Nevertheless, encouraged by budding friendships in surprising places, and against every sensible instinct she’s ever developed, Lizzie’s own personal search for meaning becomes the grand adventure of a lifetime.

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Excerpt from Still Breathing:

 “Hey, muzungu! Over here!”
“Lady, best prices in Owino!”
 “I have jeans. You want jeans? New styles from America!”
“Hey! Pretty white lady! Over here!”
 “Best quality! Best prices! Today, only for you, muzungu!”
“I have a new shipment! Come and see!”
“Muzungu! Lady, what you need?”
Lizzie was sick of the accented voices shouting at her. She had yet to see another white woman in the claustrophobic market. Warned in advance, she had ignored the hands on her arms, the fingers trailing across her fingers, even the nudges to move her toward their shops, but she was fed up with the vendors’ constant calls aimed at her. Still, she doggedly maintained her wooden smile, even though she was gritting her teeth behind it.
At one point, a vendor called out a question in Luganda and someone else answered it. Lizzie was sure it had something to do with her. Laughter broke out and other voices chimed in with more quips. Grinning faces nodded at her as she walked away.
Lizzie shot a questioning look at Mrs. Birungi, who rolled her eyes, even though a smile tugged at her mouth. “It is nothing – just vendor talk. Ignore it. We need to go over that way.” Birungi pointed to a split in the congested path ahead, and steered them to the right.
Afiya pulled abreast of Lizzie a little later as they bobbed through a brief open place in the moving crowd. “They said they not sure if you are white or Ugandan.”
“What?”
“It was joke. Our people always make jokes.”
“How was it a joke?”
“Somebody said you half Ugandan.” The girl suppressed a grin.
“I don’t get it.”
“They said you have white top but Ugandan bottom.” Afiya smiled broadly as she said the line.
Lizzie looked back at her, puzzled.
“This kind bottom.” Afiya patted her own rump. “Word means both things. They admired your…bottom.” Afiya couldn’t help but giggle as she repeated the word.
Lizzie understood and sighed. “Well, I guess that’s not the worst thing I’ve ever heard.” In her mind, a little appreciative thought blossomed at still being noticed in that way, at all. She hastily chided herself and kept walking, but her hips now swayed a tiny bit more, nevertheless.

About the author and where to find him:

 photo GeneF_5X7_08042016_1_zpssmrgi6sb.jpgOriginally from South Minneapolis, Gene Fournier earned a BA in Philosophy & Literature from St. Louis University followed by a Masters in Film from USC. Gene is a member of the Writers Guild of America west (WGA) and worked as a screenwriter and editor in Hollywood, but sadly, he never got that big break.

Seeking a return to his roots after twelve years in California, he accepted a Director of Media position with a multinational company headquartered in the Midwest. For thirty years he wrote, directed, edited and distributed corporate video programs around the world, managed live presentations, and orchestrated the creative elements for national and international meetings.

Retired now, with his seven children grown, and a dozen grandchildren to distract him, Gene is finally able to write down the stories he’s been carrying in his head all these years.

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Mini-Review: On Magnolia Lane (Book #3: Blue Ridge Trilogy) by Denise Hunter

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Pastor Jack McReady has secretly carried a torch for Daisy for two long years. She’s a member of his congregation, after all, and she’ll never see him as more than a trusted counselor. Jack’s best friend Noah has taken every opportunity to encourage his lovesick friend, but when Noah catches wind that Daisy has joined an online dating site, he takes matters into his own hands and orchestrates a meet-cute of the most unconventional kind.

Owner of the local flower shop, Daisy Pendleton is content with her small-town life, but she’d sure like someone to share it with. After several disastrous first dates, she’s about to give up—and then she finds a seemingly wonderful man online. Daisy gets to know TJ through a series of messages but finds herself spending more time with Pastor Jack outside of the church at the same time. What she doesn’t know is that her online prospect and Jack are one and the same. 

Just as Daisy’s love life starts to look promising, a mysterious woman appears in town. Daisy is faced with a revelation about her family that turns her world upside down, and she looks to both TJ and Jack for help.

Jack must find a way to reveal himself as her online suitor without breaking her heart and losing her trust. As Daisy faces Jack’s betrayal, she’ll have to learn to extend grace to herself, her family, and the man she’s grown to love.

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Source: NetGalley          My Rating: 3/5 stars

The Bottom Line:  By way of full disclosure, I didn’t dive into this series with book three, but did listen to the first two books on audio before reading On Magnolia Lane.  Based on the first two books, I was rather excited to read On Magnolia Lane, but I discovered as I got started, this series really is better for me on audio.  While I very much liked the characters in this story, the plot, and the inclusion of characters from the first two books, I found it difficult to really focus on the physical reading.  It took me such a long time to get through this book, and that wasn’t the case with the audio books. 

At the end of the day, as audio books, I really enjoyed this series, and wish I had waited for the audio version of On Magnolia Lane.  This is a truly sweet, Christian- based, very low heat series with real people working through real life issues that result in HEAs.  I absolutely know I would have enjoyed the last book more had I listened to rather than physically read the book.  While this certainly isn’t the authors fault, and there are no technical issues at all with this book, it is something I now know to look out for as a reader.  So, do I recommend this trilogy?  Yes, my issues are mine alone and I truly believe this is a trilogy that will appeal to a great number of readers.

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Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Feels Like Falling (Book #5: Dangerous Love Series) by Elle Keating

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Feels Like Falling - ebookLuke McGinnis is the responsible, quiet older brother. The loving son who enjoys working side-by-side with his father at the winery they co-own. At twenty-nine years old, Luke is a success story, the rags-to-riches kind. That’s what people see. Not the ugly past he fights to keep buried… a past that keeps him from really living.

Peyton Matthews is a household name. As a model, her face has been on the covers of countless magazines and she now has more money than she will ever know what to do with. But that smile she flashes for the photographers and the media is just an illusion. That pretty package everyone envies has been her armor, her protection, and she doesn’t want anyone to find a chink in it… especially not the winery owner who looks at her like he knows the dark secrets she keeps.

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Excerpt from Feels Like Falling (Book #5: Dangerous Love Series):

Peyton looked back at the bar, but Luke was nowhere to be found. Pissed, she continued her trek to the bathrooms anyway and was just about to enter the door marked MNA when someone grabbed her hand and pulled her down a hallway and into some back room which housed a pay phone and a rack full of coats. Like the rest of the tavern, the lighting wasn’t great, but she was able to focus on the man who still gripped her hand and stared at her like he was either going to yell at her or take her against the wall in the most primal of ways.

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

“Who is he?” Luke asked through gritted teeth.

It pissed her off that he completely ignored her question and asked her one instead, one that truly left her perplexed. “Who are you talking about?”

“The man who felt it was okay to touch you here.” He released her hand, but she instantly felt his fingertips at the small of her back.

The heat of his touch made her anger fade, at least for the time being and she said, “He’s a friend of Walt’s.”

“Are you leaving with him?” His eyes darkened and he drew closer. His hand fell away from the small of her back, which thankfully broke the trance her body seemed to be under and her fury was reignited.

Who the hell did he think he was? She didn’t owe him anything. Not even responses to questions that made her hot and furious at the same time.

“Did you follow me here?” she asked. Her voice shook a little, but it was better than submitting to his questions.

“Yes. Now, are you going home with him?”

“Do you have any idea how messed up that is? That you fucking followed me…again?”

His jaw clenched and he looked away. Peyton was prepared to continue, to lay into him and tell him that he was a stalker and could go to hell, but then he glanced back at her and she saw the shame in his eyes. “Yeah…it is fucked up. I’m…fucked up,” he said.

She wasn’t even going to try to pretend that his words didn’t shock her. He knew what he was doing wasn’t normal. That he wasn’t normal. Luke roughly raked a hand through his hair as he paced the small coatroom. He reminded her of a caged animal, one that was anxious and willing to chew through the bars to get free. Shame, worry, pain, fear, confusion. He seemed consumed by each emotion all at once and all she could do was watch him suffer. What happened to him? Why did he look so…broken?

Before she could ask, Luke shook his head, told her he was sorry and left.

Copyright © 2018 Elle Keating

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bookseries

THRILL OF THE CHASE: Amazon | B&N

 CUT TO THE CHASE: Amazon | B&N

WANTING MORE: Amazon | B&N

BACK TO THE START: Amazon | B&N

About the author and where to find her:

image1Elle Keating is the author of romance novels with sexy heroes and fierce females. Her first book, Thrill of the Chase (Dangerous Love, #1), was published by Forever Romance’s digital imprint, Forever Yours, in 2015. Cut to the Chase (Dangerous Love, #2) soon followed. Most recently, Elle self-published Wanting More (Dangerous Love, #3), Back to the Start (Dangerous Love, #4) and the standalone novel, Keeping His Commandments.

When Elle isn’t torturing her heroes and heroines (don’t worry, there’s always a happily ever after), she is a public school administrator and enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 children in New Jersey. For more on Elle and her books, visit ellekeating.com

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Excerpt: The Bastard (Book #1: The Filthy Duet) by Lisa Renee Jones

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Cover BastardI’m the bastard child, son to the mistress, my father’s backup heir to the Kingston empire. He sent me to Harvard. I left and became a Navy SEAL, but I’m back now, and I finished school on my own dime. I’m now a few months from being a billionaire myself. I don’t need my father’s company or his love. My “brother” can have it. I will never go back there. I will never be the mistake my father made, the way he was the mistake my mother made.

And then she walks in the door, the princess I’d once wanted more than I’d wanted my father’s love. She wants me to come back. She says my father needs to be saved. I don’t want to save my father but I do want her. Deeply. Passionately. More than I want anything else.

But she’s The Princess and I’m The Bastard. We don’t fit. We don’t belong together and yet she says that she needs me. We’re like sugar and spice, we don’t mix, but I really crave a taste. Just one. What harm can just one taste do?

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Excerpt from The Bastard (Book #1: The Filthy Duet):

“This is a bad idea,” she whispers, but her voice is raspy, affected, the taste of her hunger damn near on my tongue.

I kiss her, a quick brush of lips, and a lick that has the heat between us damn near explosive. “Still think it’s a bad idea?” 

Her hands flatten on my chest but they flex rather than push. “We both know this is wrong.” 

“And yet you followed me here.”

“You said that already,”

“You knew what would happen,” I accuse.

“I was angry.”

I certainly know where anger and family collide, in ways I won’t explain to anyone. My jaw sets hard and I release her, putting a wide step between us. “Stay or go, but if you stay, you’re going to end up naked.”

“I know your father’s an asshole, but my mother loves him and my father’s company is now a part of this one.”

“The part where I said that if you stayed, you’d end up naked.” I reach for her and pull her to me. “You did understand that, correct?” 

“I don’t scare off that easily. If I did, I wouldn’t be working for your father and under your brother.”

“It’s me I want you under,” I say, molding her close, my hands sliding up her back. 

“I’m too young and stupid for business, but I’m just right to fuck?” she challenges.

“I’m warning you, Harper, not talking down to you. And if you’re young and stupid, so was I.”

“You wanted to be here,” she says.

“Yes,” I say, tangling my fingers into her hair. “I wanted to be here, just like I want to be right here, right now, with you.” My mouth closes down on hers once more, a deep thrust of tongue that’s as unforgiving as my father would be if it came down to choosing her or Isaac. It’s all about demand and I expect her to push back, to give me the rejection that sends her to the door and me to the fucking airport. That’s not what I get. 

Her hand on my chest doesn’t push me away. She moans and her elbow softens, those perfect curves I’d admired from a distance now pressed nice and close, right up to the moment she jerks back. “My God. What are we doing? You’re my stepbrother.”

I walk her back against the wall, my hands caressing up her ribcage to cup her breasts. “I told you,” I say, stroking my thumbs over her nipples. “I’m not your fucking brother. Not now. Not ever.” I cup her face, lean in and my mouth finds her mouth, and if she thought my tongue unforgiving before now, she was wrong. This is unforgiving. It’s in my blood. It’s who I am, who I was born to be. A bastard who wants her.

I have this sudden need that consumes me. I shove my hand into the top of her dress, fingering her nipple. She makes this soft, sexy sound that has my cock twitching, expanding beneath my zipper. As if she knows, she presses her hand to my crotch and holy fuck, I need inside this woman. I push off the wall and shrug out of my jacket, my gaze raking over the tops of her breasts. Her teeth scrape her bottom lip, and I want that mouth on my body. I want my mouth on her body. 

I toss the jacket, rip away my tie, and she doesn’t run away as I half expect she will. She closes the space between us, her fingers on my buttons, working them down my shirt, but when one hand slides down to my crotch, I react. I slow things down before I fuck her and this is over, and when it is, I’m gone. Suddenly I’m not ready to leave, which is why I turn her to the wall, and force her hands to its surface, yanking down her zipper before I pull my shirt over my head. I step into her, my erection at her backside, my lips at her ear. 

“You saw me watching you across the pool,” I say, my fingers catching the straps at her shoulders. 

“Of course I saw you. You wanted me to see you.”

“Yes. I did. I wanted you to know I wanted to fuck you.” I shove the straps of her dress down her arms. “I wanted you to know I wanted you naked.” I pull the dress down, and with no bra to contend with I have it down her hips and to her feet. I lift her and kick it away, taking a moment to appreciate just how perfect her heart-shaped ass is before I turn her to face me. 

My fingers tangle in her hair and I pull her to me. “And since you’re here,” I add, “I will assume you got that message loud and clear.”

“I’m still angry and you’re still an arrogant asshole, but apparently it doesn’t matter, so fuck me before I come to my senses.”

I press my cheek to hers, my hand on her cheek, lips by her ear. “I promise to use my tongue in all the right places to make sure you have no regrets.” 

She pants out a breath that tells me my words affect her and I’m right there when she does, kissing her again, drinking her in, and damn she tastes good; one part innocence, one part a drug that knows how good it feels. And she does feel so fucking good. 

I scoop her up and carry her through the living area to the bedroom, because hell, I don’t know, it just feels like I should fuck her on the bed, though I could have easily kept her right there by the door. I want this woman. I want her in a bad way and I wanted her from the moment I saw her by that pool. I set her on her feet and I pull her close. “This is where I lick and you come on my tongue.”

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THE PRINCESS IS THE SECOND BOOK IN THE FILTHY DUET! The finale to Harper and Eric’s story will be out on January 23rd and is available for pre-order everywhere!

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About the author and where to find her:

5380f-lisa2brenee2bjones2bheadshot2b-2b375New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT series.

In addition to the success of Lisa’s INSIDE OUT series, she has published many successful titles. The TALL, DARK AND DEADLY series and THE SECRET LIFE OF AMY BENSEN series, both spent several months on a combination of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling lists. Lisa is also the author of the bestselling WHITE LIES and LILAH LOVE series. 

Prior to publishing Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by the Dallas Women’s Magazine. In 1998 Lisa was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.

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Excerpt and Sweepstakes: My Life as a Mixtape (Book #4:My Life as an Album Series) by LJ Evans

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my life as a mixtape_ebook cover-1LONNIE: I came to Tennessee to help a friend.  And now, I’m stuck.  By the Southern charm, By the sweet tea and By a tall, red-headed “Strawberry Shortcake.”  And when my world crumbles apart, Wynn is there to help me pick up the pieces.  To show me the way.

WYNN: My life was a huge disappointment.  My marriage, My job, Everything slipped away.  Coming home seemed like the final failure.  But then I meet him, Lonnie Brennan, the sexy bass player, Who adds laughter to my life.  And now, I realize that I can Change my tune, Sing a new song.

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Excerpt from My Life as a Mixtape (Book #4:My Life as an Album Series):

“Okay. But being twenty-five,” she emphasized her age like I should have known it. “And already having a divorce under your belt doesn’t bode well for any future endeavors.”

I turned back to the sky because looking at her was harder than I could have ever expected.

 “One mistake doesn’t make you a failure,” I replied automatically but truthfully.

She didn’t respond, and we just laid there watching the stars wink into existence in a way I never got to see in L.A. Here in this part of Tennessee, they were out nightly. And here at the lake, they were stunning. Like her, glimmering…shiny…heart wrenching.

“Look at it this way,” I told her. “Now you get to have a whole bunch more firsts.”

“What?” she asked. I could feel her looking at me now, and I risked turning my head to meet her eyes. They were so pale that it was hard to see them in the darkness that had settled over us as the sun disappeared.

“You know. First time getting drunk…after the divorce. Well, hell, you already did that.” She smiled weakly, and I continued. “How about first date…after the divorce? First kiss…after the divorce. First time making love…after the divorce. It’s like you get a whole shitload of do-overs now but with more experience than you had when you did those things the first time. You can do them better than you did them as a kid.”

She held her breath at my words and stared at me.

Then she leaned slightly forward and kissed my cheek. Her lips hit my skin and filled me with a scent of berries and lake and I had to clench my fingers into my fist to prevent myself from pulling her all the way to me and devouring all of her, not just those sweet, full lips.

“Thank you,” she breathed out as she settled back on the dock and stared at the night.

“For what?”

“For trying to make me feel better. For reminding me that there’s more to life than this moment.”

But as soon as she said it, I was struck with a longing I don’t normally have. A longing to have this particular moment last forever. Because laying on the dock in the dusk with this beautiful creature might be something I could do three hundred and sixty-five days a year. And that was definitely not in any of my plans.

Copyright © 2018 LJ Evans

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New to the My Life as an Album series? Start from the very beginning!

MY LIFE AS A COUNTRY ALBUM, book #1 (Cam and Jake): https://amzn.to/2yNQgkO

MY LIFE AS A POP ALBUM, book #2 (Mia and Derek): https://amzn.to/2yMBzhV

MY LIFE AS A ROCK ALBUM, book #3 (PJ and Seth): https://amzn.to/2yIReib

About the author and where to find her:

LJ Evans author bwAward winning author, LJ Evans, lives in the California Central Valley with her husband, daughter, and the three terrors called cats. She’s been writing, almost as a compulsion, since she was a little girl and will often pull the car over to write when a song lyric strikes her. While she currently spends her days teaching 1st grade in a local public school, she spends her free time reading and writing, as well as binge watching original shows like The Crown, Victoria, and Stranger Things.

If you ask her the one thing she won’t do, it’s pretty much anything that involves dirt—sports, gardening, or otherwise. But she loves to write about all of those things, and her first published heroine was pretty much involved with dirt on a daily basis. Which is exactly what LJ loves about fiction novels—the characters can be everything you’re not and still make their way into your heart.

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SWEEPSTAKES

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Mini-Review: Shadow and Ice (Book #1: Gods of War Series) by Gena Showalter

37532460Knox of Iviland has spent his life competing in the All Wars, where vicious warriors with supernatural powers fight to the death to claim new realms. One winner takes everything—and all losers die. Enslaved as a child for his ability to control shadows, the most ruthless champion in history will stop at nothing to kill his king. But first he must win the battle for Earth. When a fearsome weapon imprisons every combatant in ice, centuries pass without progress…until she walks in.

Vale London craves a fun arctic getaway with her foster sister before settling down to open a bakery. Street-tough but vulnerable, she is unprepared to find ancient gods escaping a frozen cave—merciless beings who target her when she inadvertently enters their war.

Though Vale is now his enemy, Knox is consumed with lust and a fierce need to protect her. But only one combatant can prove victorious, and he will have to choose: live for freedom or die for love.

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Source: NetGalley          My Rating: 3/5 star

The Bottom Line: In truth, my interest in this read faded in and out the further into the book I read.  For me, it started out like a house of fire and I was all kinds of invested, but as I hit the middle part of the book, my interest started waning.  I think my interest waned because of Vale and Knox’s attitudes.  I need my characters to evolve and neither did much of that through the middle part of the book.  In fact, they mostly remained stagnant and that caused me to skim a great deal of the middle part of the book.  As the end of the book approached and Vale and Knox finally began evolving, my interest was once again engaged, and I rolled on through to the very end.  While this may sound like I mostly disliked this book, that would be incorrect.  While Knox and Vale didn’t particularly appeal to me, the information about the other characters did.  There is such a wide variety of strange, lethal, interesting, and completely foreign characters in this book, all with skills, talents, and weapons that are quite literally, beyond this world.  At the end of the day, I think Shadow and Ice may have suffered from the dreaded first book syndrome in which the groundwork and world building didn’t quite do enough to really draw me in.  What saved the book for me is the HUGE cast on interesting characters who populate this world and are going to entertain me for many, many installments to come.

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Spotlight: Plain Roots by Becki Willis

 photo Plain Roots_zpscjwpne1m.jpgA heartwarming story of family, forgiveness, and finding a place to belong.

Taryn Clark thought she’d outgrown the need to find her birth mother. She thought that a successful career and a comfortable life in the city were enough to be happy. Did she really need to know about the woman who had given her away?

Adopted at birth, her first few years were happy. It hadn’t mattered that she didn’t know her heritage; she had parents who loved her and wanted her. But divorce, and then death, ripped their tiny family apart, and at the tender age of six, she entered the foster care system. Over the next dozen years, she shuffled from home to home. Finding her roots seemed an impossible dream.

But dreams are resilient. An unexpected discovery awakens old yearnings of belonging to a family, of being part of something bigger than herself. Finding the brief, ambiguous note from her birth mother is enough to unfurl the ribbons of hope still binding her heart.

Her quest takes her to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and the heart of the Plain community. Aided by her unique eye color, a healthy dose of luck, and the private investigator she hires, Taryn finds her birth family easily enough, but finding the truth is another matter. In all her musings, she never imagined a scenario where her mother might be Amish. She never imagined that the fabric of her life might be a patchwork of faith and fear, stitched together with a dark family secret.

Taryn is determined to trace her roots, even if it means digging in the mud to do so. Now she’s caught in the quicksand of a shocking discovery and the consequences of choices made, almost forty years ago. She’ll risk everything to uncover the truth and to claim the family—and the roots—she so desperately craves.

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About the author and where to find her:

 photo Plain Roots Author Becki Willis_zps4p2s6iwm.jpgBecki Willis, best known for her popular The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series, and Forgotten Boxes, always dreamed of being an author. In November of ’13, that dream became a reality. Since that time, she has published numerous books, won first place honors for Best Mystery Series, Best Suspense Fiction, Best Paranormal Fiction, and Best Audio Book, and has introduced her imaginary friends to readers around the world.

An avid history buff, Becki likes to poke around in old places and learn about the past. Other addictions include reading, writing, junking, unraveling a good mystery, and coffee. She loves to travel but believes coming home to her family and her Texas ranch is the best part of any trip. Becki is a member of the Association of Texas Authors, Writer’s League of Texas, Sisters in Crime, the National Association of Professional Women, and the Brazos Writers organization. She attended Texas A&M University and majored in Journalism.

 
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Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Dangerously Delicious (Book #2: Delicious Love Series) by Denise Swanson

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dangerously delicious-high resMarco Thorne was hired by Club Wilde’s owner to open up the newest, most outrageous venue yet. He is absolutely certain that he can handle all the competition Las Vegas has to offer until his overbearing boss contracts with Lions and Tigers and More sanctuary to have live exotic animals present in the jungle-themed club. Still, he has no choice but to go along with his boss’s idiotic scheme, even if he thinks it’s the worst idea he’s ever heard.

Dr. Sage DeSantis’s entire life is devoted to keeping the animals under her care in the sanctuary healthy and happy. After the sanctuary’s owner announces that he’s renting out some of Sage’s babies to Club Wilde, she’s sickened that they will once again be exploited.

When Marco and Sage meet, the chemistry between them nearly knocks them off their feet. Although they both have experiences in their past that make them leery of love, and Sage is determined to guard her heart, Marco is all in. But will Marco be able to convince Sage to give them a chance?

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Excerpt from Dangerously Delicious (Book #2: Delicious Love Series):

Sage DeSantis held the rifle loosely in her arms. Charlie had gotten free again. The old rascal had somehow learned to pick the lock on the ranch’s gate and had taken to strolling along the side of the highway.

            Sage worked as a veterinarian at the Lions and Tigers and More wildlife park. It was a nonprofit originally established to take in big cats that had previously worked in movies and live performances. All of the refuge’s guests were well socialized, and as long as no one got stupid, everyone was safe. Well, none of the humans were in danger.

            Lately, Sage had been a bit worried that the animals’ safety, or at least well-being, was at risk. Her bosses had been discussing the diminishing contributions and skyrocketing costs and she had a bad feeling that today’s staff meeting was about that very subject.

            However, all thoughts of the looming announcement fled when Sage reached the end of the driveway and spotted Charlie standing over the prone form of her best friend, Deanna Sloan Thorne.

            Deanna was as still as a princess in a glass coffin and almost as pale. Charlie, on the other hand, was grinning like a fool and licking Deanna’s cheek. Each time his pink tongue made another swipe, Deanna’s beautiful green eyes widened a little bit more, and as Sage got closer, she could hear her friend’s frightened little squeaks.

            Immediately, Sage depressed the button on the tiny device in her pocket. At the sound of the click, Charlie raised his head and glanced around. Another click and he reluctantly trotted over to her. She clipped on his collar and leash, then fed him the treat he expected for responding to the signal.

            As the lion ate the chunk of chicken, Sage heard Deanna’s faint voice ask, “Can I get up now?”

            “Absolutely.” Sage looked at her friend. “Why are you on the ground?”

            Deanna rose to her feet and brushed the dust from her pink capris. “Well, I was waiting for you at the entrance like we arranged and suddenly the gate swung open and that beast ran toward me. When I realized there was a lion coming at me, I think I might have passed out.”

            “Running?” Sage raised a brow. These days, Charlie barely made it to a fast walk.

            “Running.” Deanna nodded firmly, then relented and said, “Okay, maybe trotting.” She put her hands on her hips. “Why weren’t you there? You were supposed to meet me at ten.”

            “Oops!” Sage put her hand over her mouth. “I am so sorry. When I found out that Charlie was missing, I forgot about your tour. Do you still want to see the place?”

            “Definitely!” Deanna refastened her ponytail. “But can I carry the gun?”

            While Sage showed her friend around, they chatted about Deanna’s recent marriage and Sage saw the love shining from her friend’s eyes. Sage was truly thrilled for Deanna, but a small part of her wished she had been the one to find Mr. Right.

            But that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. After her disastrous affair at her last gig, she’d given up on men and completely stopped dating. Her ex had been the director of the zoo where she’d been working, so when things fell apart, she’d not only lost her boyfriend but also her job.

Copyright © 2018 Denise Swanson

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About the author and where to find her:

Denise-SwansonNew York Times Bestseller author Denise Swanson was a practicing psychologist for twenty-two years. She writes the Delicious Love and Change of Heart contemporary romance series, as well as the Scumble River, Devereaux’s Dime Store, and Chief-to-Go mysteries. Her books all feature small-town heroines with lots of heart.

Denise’s books have been finalists for the Agatha, Mary Higgins Clark, RT Magazine’s Career Achievement, and Daphne du Maurier Awards. She has won the Reviewers Choice Award and was a BookSense 76 Top Pick.

Denise Swanson lives in rural Illinois with her husband, classical composer David Stybr.

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Spotlight: A Knife’s Edge by Eliot Parker

 photo A Knifes Edge_zpsvycem2k9.jpgSix months after a drug cartel infiltrated Charleston, Ronan McCullough continues to fight the drug war that plagues the city. His investigations are halted when the body of a mutual acquaintance, Sarah Gilmore, is found in the trunk of a burning car. In an investigation that takes him deep into the professional and personal life of the victim, McCullough discovers secrets lurking in her past, and a tangled web of personal and professional conflicts, suspicion, and betrayal. Was Sarah killed for those reasons or something larger? As Ronan seeks answers, his life and the lives of those closest to him are used as pawns in a deadly game that has no ending.

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Praise for A Knife’s Edge

Ronan McCullough is an interesting protagonist and you will want to keep on reading after the intriguing beginning,” —Peter Senftleben, editor and publishing consultant
 
“This book was a gripping, and gritty police thriller that kept me rapt in its pages until the end” – Lisa Brown-Gilbert, Pacific Book Review
 
“As a man who lives and works in Appalachia, Parker puts that knowledge and his storytelling skills to work in this cracking good book.” –The Richmond Times
 
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About the author and where to find him:

 photo A Knifes Edge Author Eliot Parker_zps1j7so6da.jpgEliot Parker is the author of four thriller novels, most recently A Knife’s Edge. A recipient of the West Virginia Literary Merit Award and a finalist for the Southern Book Prize in Thriller Writing, Eliot is the host of the “Now, Appalachia” podcast show on the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network and teaches writing and literature at Mountwest Community and Technical College in Huntington, West Virginia.

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Review: Winter Cottage by Mary Ellen Taylor

38462064Still grieving the loss of her wandering, free-spirited mother, Lucy Kincaid leaves Nashville for the faded town of Cape Hudson, Virginia. She goes to see the house she’s inherited—one she never knew existed, bequeathed to her by a woman she’s never even met. At the heart of this mystery is the hope that maybe—just maybe—this “Winter Cottage” will answer the endless questions about her mother’s past…including the identity of her birth father.

Rather than the quaint Virginian bungalow Lucy expected, Winter Cottage is a grand old estate of many shadows—big enough to hold a century of secrets, passions, and betrayals. It also comes with a handsome and enigmatic stranger, a man next in line to claim Lucy’s inheritance.

Now, as Lucy sifts through the past, uncovering the legacy of secrets that Winter Cottage holds, she’ll come to discover as much about her family history as she does about herself. In searching, she could finally find the one thing she’s never really had: a home.

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Source: NetGalley          My Rating: 4½/5 stars

Winter Cottage is one of those books I find myself mad at myself for leaving it on my TBR for so long.  What was I thinking??  I could have read this awesomeness weeks ago . . . .

Thanks to her mother’s dying wish, Lucy Kincaid finds herself and her dog, Dolly the proud owners of a hilariously named cottage in Cape Hudson, Virginia.  Winter Cottage is, in fact, a virtual mansion with three stories, a large attic, a basement, and a waterfront view.  What’s more, there is land to spare and the house is something of a legend in the sleepy Virginia town.  Unfortunately, Lucy and her mother are also something of a legend.  Trouble is, Lucy has no idea why she’s a bit of a legend.

Twenty-four hours into her stay, Lucy has been advised all her newfound wealth is tied to Winter Cottage and as long as she’s willing to stay, maintain and/or improve the site and lands, she is welcome and will find the help she needs among the locals.  Thanks to her mother’s wanderlust, Lucy isn’t accustomed to staying in one place for long, but she is determined to stick it out until she finds the answers she’s long searched for.  Until the last days of her mother’s life, Lucy knew nothing of Virginia, Winter Cottage, or even the name of her father. 

As it turns out, no one in town, including the local historian has beyond the bare bones related to Lucy and her mother.  Furthermore, other than local gossip spreading over decades, there’s really nothing and no one who can tell Lucy much about Winter Cottage and how it came to be in her possession.  With nothing but time on her hands, a local librarian who enjoys digging into the archives, and stack of VHS tapes, Lucy sets out on a path that will not only change her life, but the lives of many in Cape Hudson.

In short order, Lucy makes her mark on Cape Hudson!  She begins uncovering long buried truths, bones are found on her property, she finds herself a hot a totally capable boyfriend, she takes in a young girl desperate for safety and stability, and finally uncovers the truth about her lineage.  To be sure, none of those accomplishments come without issues, some worse than others, but in the end, the truth sets so many free.

The Bottom Line:  Y’all know I love a good past meets present book, and often it is the past part of the book I am most drawn to.  In the case of Winter Cottage, I found the opposite to be true.  While I certainly enjoyed the chapters related to the past, it was the present that held my interest the most and that has everything to do with Lucy.  Lucy is such a strong character with a honed sense of right and wrong that guides her every action.  She doesn’t play games, she doesn’t beat around the bush, she lives her life out loud and as honestly as possible.  Through Lucy’s discoveries, the reader gets a bit of everything: drama, violence, love, secrets, loyalty, friendships, betrayals, and bounties.  Winter Cottage has it all and I sincerely hope this finely written read finds its way to being just the first in a series.

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Spotlight and Sweepstakes: Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner

 photo Apollos Raven_zpsjtr16g03.jpgA Celtic warrior princess is torn between her forbidden love for the enemy and duty to her people.

AWARD-WINNING APOLLO’S RAVEN sweeps you into an epic Celtic tale of forbidden love, mythological adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia. In 24 AD British kings hand-picked by Rome to rule are fighting each other for power. King Amren’s former queen, a powerful Druid, has cast a curse that Blood Wolf and the Raven will rise and destroy him. The king’s daughter, Catrin, learns to her dismay that she is the Raven and her banished half-brother is Blood Wolf. Trained as a warrior, Catrin must find a way to break the curse, but she is torn between her forbidden love for her father’s enemy, Marcellus, and loyalty to her people. She must summon the magic of the Ancient Druids to alter the dark prophecy that threatens the fates of everyone in her kingdom.

Will Catrin overcome and eradicate the ancient curse. Will she be able to embrace her forbidden love for Marcellus? Will she cease the war between Blood Wolf and King Amren and save her kingdom?

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About the author and where to find her:

 photo Daggers Destiny Author Linnea Tanner_zpsrb9hlnhh.jpgSince childhood, award-winning author, Linnea Tanner, has passionately read about ancient civilizations and mythology that held women in higher esteem, particularly the enigmatic Celts reputed to be warriors and druids. She has extensively researched and traveled to sites described in the Curse of Clansmen and King series. A native of Colorado, Linnea attended the University of Colorado and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry. She lives in Windsor with her husband and has two children and six grandchildren.

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