Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Artificial Sweethearts by Julie Hammerle

goodreads-logo

 

It’s not chemistry between Tinka Foster and Sam Anderson that made them agree to fake date. With her parents trying to set her up with an annoying student golf coach, and intentionally single Sam’s family pressuring him to bring a date to his brother’s wedding, they could both use a drama-free summer.

So it’s not his muscular arms and quick wit that makes Tinka suggest they tell everyone they’re both taken. Definitely not. And it’s not butterflies that makes a kiss for appearances during the lake party go on way too long—so long that Sam wishes it were real.

But Tinka keeps people at arm’s length—she’s always been second best, even to her parents. And her relationship-for-show could crush everything when she realizes she’s done with fake, pretend, and second-best.

Excerpt from Artificial Sweetharts:

The sliding glass door whooshed open behind them. Their opportunity for escape was lost. Tinka spun around as the guy headed toward them. He was carrying three bottles of water and had put on a T-shirt, a faded movie tee, over his mesh shorts. Jaws. A story about a terrifying shark that kills people. The guy handed a bottle to Tinka. “Take a seat.”

Ready to flee at any moment, she perched next to Jane on the bench, where the hot, sticky varnish stuck to her legs immediately. Tinka unscrewed the cap, which gave off the familiar rip-pop sound that proved the bottle had not been tampered with. Tinka tilted it back; and as the cold water coated her parched throat, she forgot for a moment she was about to be murdered.

“This is a gorgeous house,” Jane said.

The guy knocked back his water, then screwed the cap back on. “Thanks. I like it.”

Tinka decided to play civil. “Do you do all the landscaping yourself or do you have a crew that helps you?” He smirked at Tinka, like she was the most curious thing he had seen in a while. “We have a crew, but I noticed a few spots on the bushes that needed trimming.”

She nodded. “If you need to get back to work, don’t let us stop you. We wouldn’t want you to get in trouble with your boss.”

“My boss?” He was still grinning at Tinka with those dimples as he kneaded the plastic on his water bottle. “You mean my father?”

“Your father owns the landscaping business?”

“My father owns the house. I’m Sam. Anderson,” he added for good measure. “I live here.” He gestured toward the back door.

Jane dropped her face into her hands. “Oh my God, Tinka.”

Tinka spun toward her, pointing. “Oh my God nothing, Jane. You didn’t know he lived here, either.”

“I did so.”

“How?”

Jane waved her hand to indicate Sam and the flirty smile reappeared on her face. “He has a way about him.”

“He has no way about anything. No offense.” Tinka nodded to Sam.

“None taken.” Knitting his brow, Sam lifted his hat and ran his fingers through his curly brown hair. He had hazel eyes with friendly crinkles on the corners that didn’t disappear even when he frowned.

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Entangled

About the author and where to find her:

Julie Hammerle is the author of The Sound of Us (Entangled TEEN, 2016) and the North Pole, Minnesota young adult romance series (Entangled Crush, 2017). She writes about TV and pop culture for the ChicagoNow blog, Hammervision, and lives in Chicago with her family. She enjoys reading, cooking, and watching all the television.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Newsletter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Spotlight and Sweepstakes: The Misadventures of Lady Ophelia (Book #3: The Undaunted Debutantes Series) by Christina McKnight

MisadventureLadyOphelia_Badge

The Misadventures of Lady Ophelia Covergoodreads-logo

Quiet, reserved, Lady Ophelia Fletcher always has her nose stuck in a book; hence why she didn’t witness the death of her friend the fateful night of her passing. Now, she writes the Mayfair Confidential column to expose unsavory men as a way of making amends for not backing her other friend’s claims of murder. When a handsome stranger arrives to meet with her father, Ophelia is helpless to keep from investigating the dashing lord.

Colin Parnell, Lord Hawke, has a promise to uphold: find the book that proves his grandpapa worked as a spy for King George II and did not die as a no-good smuggler off the coast of Kent. Shrouded in mystery and scandal, the Parnell family has been at war with one another for decades, and Colin is determined to put a stop to it all by discovering proof of the family’s honorable past. Unfortunately, the book he seeks is in the hands of a fiery-haired beauty, and he’ll need to enlist Ophelia’s help to uncover the truth.

Ophelia is more than happy to use her skills to help Lord Hawke. But will their search for answers lead to misadventure, or will they get something greater than they bargained for: the truth and each other?

The Disappearance of Lady Edith:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

The Misfortune of Lady Lucianna:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

The Misadventures of Lady Ophelia: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

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.

  Website Facebook | Twitter Goodreads | Amazon

SWEEPSTAKES

Barclay

 

Excerpt and Sweepstakes: A Promise Broken by Anissa Garcia

APromiseBroken_ReleaseWeek_Badge

a Promise Broken_Final-ebooksm

goodreads-logo

After a relationship gone bad, Hilary Matthews felt unsure about where she belonged or what to do with her life. Cue Zach Collins, a love ‘em and leave ‘em, no strings attached type of guy. The perfect distraction for her wounded heart. Just one problem. Zach isn’t some random stranger. He’s her brother’s best friend, and more than that, he’s practically family. And to complicate matters, just when things start to heat up between them, she learns there’s more to Zach than he let on.

Zach’s job as assistant to an A-list actor allows him the luxury of women, travel, freedom and fun. But things changed the moment Hilary made her move, completely altering his world. Hilary is his fantasy come to life, his dream woman in the flesh…and his best friend’s little sister. Stepping over the line with her would not only ruin his friendship, but possibly alienate him from the only family he’s ever known.

The pressure mounts as truths are exposed. Embroiled in betrayal, lies, guilt, and heartache, Hilary and Zach must decide if the biggest emotion of all is worth the turmoil. With so much at stake, the repercussions from a promise broken would cause the battle of their lives.

Excerpt from A Promise Broken:

I didn’t say anything. Instead my eyes roamed down his body as he approached. His jeans and shirt were perfectly snug. He sat beside me grabbing the remote, and I was hyper aware of his proximity. He smelled like fabric softener and aftershave. It was familiar and comfortable.

            “Hilary,” his voice was soft as his eyes met mine. “Stop looking at me like that.” 

            “Like what?” I blinked at him with innocence.

            “Like you want me to make love to you,” he said breathlessly. 

            My heart skipped a beat. I fumbled with my hands. “Don’t flatter yourself, Collins.” His phone trilled from his pocket. He reached in to check it, looked at the screen and hit the end button. “Who’s Isabella?” 

He hesitated. “Uh, my chef.” 

I rolled my eyes. “Bullshit. You know I can tell when you’re lying.”  

            “I’m not lying,” he laughed. “She’s my chef.”

            “And your fuck buddy?” His eyes closed. Yup, he slept with her. His whole body tensed. “Do you like her?” 

            His eyes shot to mine. “No. I mean, yes, but…not in that way.”

            The pang of possessiveness that swept through me was familiar to when Graham said he was working late, and that his co-worker was just that. “Is she pretty?” I asked quietly. 

            He nodded. “Very.” 

            “Oh.” Ouch, that stung more than I wish it had. I snapped out of my pity party and stood. “Well, then? Why aren’t you answering her call? You could be with her now.” 

            His bewilderment was obvious as I rushed to the window. It was hot and I needed a draft, and he was right. Drinking around each other wasn’t a good idea. He watched as I yanked on edges of the glass, trying to pry the window open. 

“I told you I don’t care for her in that way.” 

            “So? You don’t have to care for her in that way in order to fuck. You did it already, didn’t you?” I struggled, but it wouldn’t budge. “Dammit, the window won’t open, and it’s so hot in here.” 

            “Only once,” he mumbled, as if reluctant. 

            “Spare me the details, Zachary.” I tugged, becoming breathless as I fought against it. My voice pitched higher as I hit the edges with my palms. “Stupid window.” 

            He drew up behind me, placing his hands over mine. I froze as his body pressed against me. We lingered, my back on his chest. Fast paced breaths escaped him. His mouth was near my ear, the humidity of his breathing caused me to tremble. 

            “Gently,” he spoke affectionately, drawing the window up. The crisp air didn’t make a difference when his warm body was near mine. His hands wrapped around my waist and he squeezed for only a second as his lips descended between my neck and shoulder. He gave the skin there a sweet kiss. His lips lingered longer than they should’ve. “You’re beautiful,” he whispered. His nose grazed over my neck as he pulled away. “Graham will regret letting you go for the rest of his life.” 

            Chills ran down my spine, all thoughts of Graham long vanished. My ringing body turned, needing more of Zach’s touch. His warm palms cupped my cheeks. I wanted more of him. All of him. He looked amazing tonight. I loved the way his emerald green eyes anchored on mine, promising me my darkest desires were a whisper away. His thick, dark hair swirled in waves I wanted to run my hands through. His strong touch had me reeling, and when he denied himself being a good man, instead of pushing me away, it only made feelings trickle in through the cracks of my heart. 

He backed off, headed to the stairs, escaping me, leaving me in complete need. Bitterness toward my brother was creeping over me. Zach wouldn’t lose his friend, his boss. I was a risk he wasn’t willing to take. I had to remember what Zach said when he left me that day. Hilary, this can’t ever happen. I was sure he’d stick by what he said. He was a good man, after all, and a good man didn’t break his promises, but maybe, just maybe, some promises were meant to be broken.

About the author and where to find her: 

AAnissa-BW Square photonissa Garcia resides in Austin, Texas and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communications and English. She has held an array of jobs including Public Relationship Manager for Barnes and Noble. Wanting a change of pace, she moved to Los Angeles where she attended The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and trained full-time in theatre. After working in Hollywood, she returned to Texas where she has written articles for Cosmopolitan and Lady Couture. When not writing stores, watching movies, or drinking a latte, she loves to daydream about romantic fictional men.    

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Follow the TOUR and enter the SWEEPSTAKES

Barclay

 

Review: The Red by Tiffany Reisz

The Red cover

goodreads-logo

Mona Lisa St. James made a deathbed promise that she would do anything to save her mother’s art gallery. Unfortunately, not only is The Red painted red, but it’s in the red. She soon realizes she has no choice but to sell it.

Just as she realizes she has no choice but to sell it, a mysterious man comes in after closing time and makes her an offer: He will save The Red if she agrees to submit to him for the period of one year.

The man is handsome, English, and terribly tempting…but surely her mother didn’t mean for Mona to sell herself to a stranger. Then again, she did promise to do anything to save The Red…

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: ARC from author and purchase     My Rating: 5 ginormous star

Sometimes, I feel like instead of a full-blown review, I can just type “F*^$ you, Tiffany Reisz.  Just, F*^$ you!” and everyone who reads her and knows her work well will simply laugh and know exactly how I feel about her latest book! Unfortunately, that may be awfully confusing to those who don’t know her work, so here comes a full-blown review. 

When Mona’s mother was dying, Mona promised her she would do anything within her power to keep their art gallery, The Red open and operating.  When the promise was made, Mona couldn’t imagine the crippling debt she would be in following her mother’s lengthy and expensive illness.  With little to no revenue coming in and the bills relentlessly showing up, Mona lives in fear of disappointing her mother.  It is at her weakest moment that Malcolm comes into her life with a proposal Mona’s still young and reckless enough to accept.  For the period of one year, Malcolm will have access to her body for whatever purpose and position he so desires.  In return, Malcolm will provide Mona with enough priceless art to keep her gallery not just open, but flourishing.  Desperate and more than a little intrigued, Mona accepts. 

The first few encounters with Malcolm are beyond anything Mona could have ever imagined.  Each encounter is based on a famous painting (my art historian parts squeaked!) and each sexual encounter is more inventive and satisfying than the last.  In fact, there is more than one time when Mona assumes she dreamt or even hallucinated the events of her night with Malcolm and to an extent, that scares her.  Worries aside, Mona wakes the morning after each encounter completely sated and with a new (at least to her!) work of art that is worth, at the very least, hundreds of thousands of dollars.  To be sure, at the end of the year, The Red will not only be financially solvent, but so far in the black as to be secure for years to come.  As the month’s pass, Mona’s financial security becomes less important to her than the eventual and certain loss of Malcolm.  Though some of his scenarios scare and even anger her, there is no denying the hold Malcolm has over Mona and the fact he’s ruined her for all other men.  More than anything else, it is this inevitable ending that scares and saddens Mona. 

The Bottom Line: Holy sh*t!!  Tiffany Reisz just wrote the book version of a mic drop and then sashayed out of the room leaving the rest of lying on the ground twitching!!  As I said in the beginning, F*^$ you, Tiffany Reisz.  Just, F*^$ you.  Between the intensity of the read, the desire to know precisely who Malcolm is, and total lack of respect for my next day’s responsibilities, this book got finished in one shot at 5 a.m.  I regret nothing!  At its core, The Red is all about the art and the sex and I loved every single minute of this read.  Only Tiffany Reisz can write a book that is roughly 85% sex and keep it fresh, exciting, dirty, and oh, so good!  As always, the writing (even in ARC form!) is flawless and elegant and the ending is spot on awesome!! 

P.S. *^$ you, Tiffany Reisz.  Just, F*^$ you. 😊

P.P.S.  Yeah, I ordered a signed copy of this one.  It owes me 😊

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Amazon Audio

 

 

Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Biker B*tch (Book #1: Heaven’s Sinners Series) by Andie J. Christopher

BikerBitch_Tour_Badge

BikerB_tch1600x2400

goodreads-logo

Skyler Clark knows she’ll have to face her past when returns to the Russian River Valley to make pinot noir. People in the small town where she grew up haven’t forgotten her father – a country doctor turned outlaw motorcycle club president – and his fall from grace. But as long as she keeps her own business squeaky clean and stays away from bikers, she’ll be fine.   Abner Travis sold his family’s vineyard and winery to build up his business. And he’s the president of a clean motorcycle club that does things the overburdened sheriff’s department can’t. He’s too busy making sculptures for Hollywood directors and quietly sabotaging meth labs to chase a woman. But now that Skyler’s all grown up, he wants her for his own. He just has to convince her that their dark, shared history shouldn’t get in the way.  Travis is the one thing Skyler can’t resist, but she doesn’t believe they can last. When her father’s old club puts Skyler’s business and safety at risk, she has to decide whether to place her trust in Travis or to walk away. And Travis has to decide how much he’ll give up to keep the woman he loves.

Excerpt from Biker B*tch (Book #1: Heaven’s Sinners): 

“Unzip.”

She looked around as if she was afraid someone would see her. But all the workers lived off site. Any migrants she’d hired to pick the grapes wouldn’t be there for months. There was no one on the property except for the two of them.

“You heard me.” He could hear the edge to his voice. If he was a good guy, he’d talk to her softly, soothe her, tell her he trusted her, and carry her into the trailer and make sweet, gentle love to her.

But that’s not what she wanted. It wasn’t what got her so wet and soft under him. He stepped so close he could feel her breath against his throat. It was rapid, and she looked up. She uncrossed her arms and touched his wrists. He shook her grasp and reached around to the back of her dress.

He moved her hair over her shoulder and blew on the tiny little hairs at the back of her neck. She shivered, but otherwise remained still. The moment was ripe and even the birds and small animals went silent.

Nothing but stars and moonlight and them.

They were alone in the universe, and she belonged to him. She might move on to someone who could offer her more, but he’d always have her like this. When she’d married some rich friend of Michael’s, he’d have her like this.

He wanted to see her naked under the moonlight. When he drew down the zipper, he saw gooseflesh rise where the air hit her skin. She felt it, too. He pulled the dress over her shoulders and bared her to the waist except for the pearls and another lacy bit of nothing.

He flicked the pearls, and was about to rip the strand off. They just made him think about how good and pure she was. She quickly reached back for the clasp and unhooked them. He took them from her and pocketed them.

With one hand, he unhooked her bra and pulled it off her arms from the front. Her creamy tits glowed under the full moon and her nipples tightened to titanium in the cool night air. He bent down and blew on them.

“Goddamn, you have pretty tits.”

She just moaned because he picked her up by the arms and put her down on the flatbed of her truck. He reached for a blanket and tucked it under her ass. Though he wanted to savor the moment, he didn’t have the patience to go easy. The rusty flatbed would scrape up the soft skin on her thighs.

The push-pull of his feelings when he was with her was what made this thing between them compelling. He was always in control, except when he was around her. He liked surrendering to his instinct to mark, to have to mate when they were together.

She sat on the back of her truck with her dress around her waist and her boobs almost up at mouth level. He couldn’t let an opportunity like that go to waste. He bent down and took her nipple between his teeth, gently abrading it until it got even harder and she whimpered. She laced her fingers into his hair and pulled it half-loose. Her fingernails dug into his skull; he loved that little bite of pain that let him know she wanted this just as much as he did.

“Harder.” Her voice sounded like it was a half moan, and he wasn’t about to deny this woman anything she asked for, especially if it was something he wanted to give her. He moved to the other nipple and lifted her up to pull her dress down over her ass. When he got it free of her legs, he threw it on the sparse grass.

As good as she looked, he hoped the dress got ruined. It symbolized everything that would take this woman away from him.

He drew back his head and stared at her. Her panties matched the white bra he’d discarded somewhere on the lawn. And–Christ almighty—she  had a garter belt attached to stockings. The kind with lace on top.

“Never wear these again unless you’re coming to see me.” He grabbed her upper thigh and ground out the words. “I’m going to fuck you in nothing but these damned stockings and the heels.”

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

About the author and where to find her: 

USA Today Bestselling author Andie J. Christopher writes edgy, funny, sexy contemporary romance. She grew up in a family of voracious readers, and picked up her first Harlequin Romance novel at age twelve when she’d finished reading everything else in her grandmother’s house. It was love at first read. It wasn’t too long before she started writing her own stories — her first heroine drank Campari and wore a lot of Esprit.

Although, she set aside writing fiction for a while, her love of romance novels stayed with her through college, law school, and multiple cross-country moves. During one long East Coast winter, she decided writing a book would be a good excuse to avoid braving the elements. It was love at first write. Her heroes are dirty-talking alphas, and her heroines traded Esprit for Free People. (None of them would turn down a Campari, though.)

 Website Facebook | Twitter Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub | Instagram | Pinterest

SWEEPSTAKES

Barclay

Triple Review: Alabama Series by Susan Sands

 

Cammie Laroux is back in Alabama—again.

Dragged back to her small town to help her mother recover from surgery while rescuing the family event planning business should be a cinch. Even for a disgraced television chef, right? Wrong.

Among the many secrets Cammie’s family’s been hiding is the fact that their historic home is falling down. Oh, and the man hired to restore the house, Grey Harrison, is the same high school and college love of her life who thrashed her heart and dreams ten years ago. Yeah, that guy.

Grey, a widower with a young daughter, has never stopped loving Cammie, and when they are face to face once again, the chemistry is off the charts. Cammie may be in full-blown denial, but letting go is no longer in Grey’s vocabulary, even when winning Cammie’s forgiveness and renovating their love may seem like an impossible build even for a master architect and carpenter.

As Cammie finds herself forgetting all the reasons she can’t trust Grey or love again, he finds himself remembering all the reasons he wants her to stay with him in Alabama… forever.  

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Purchase     My Rating: 4½/5 star

Cammie Laroux never had any intention of returning to her home state of Alabama for an extended period.  When she left, she did so under the worst of circumstances so coming home under similar circumstances isn’t at all what she had hoped for.  Her culinary career is in shambles, her former co-worker is ruining her reputation in a very loud and public way, her mother is having a dangerous yet necessary back surgery, and the family business needs a competent hand at the helm.  Since she’s currently out of a job, Cammie is back home in Alabama, again. 

Cammie’s hometown isn’t exactly a metropolis so her hope of staying under the radar is dashed almost immediately.  Out of bed after a long flight, too little sleep, no shower, and only in her underwear, Cammie throws open the curtains only to find her rat-bastard ex-boyfriend standing on a ladder and adoring the view.  Not the way to stay off the radar.  As if the day couldn’t get any worse, as Cammie begins her assessment of the house/business, she discovers everything is much more of a mess than she was led to believe.  The house, an historic site they rent out for all types of events and occasions is coming apart at the seams and apparently, her mother hired her ex to oversee the considerable and extensive repairs.  Even more traumatizing is the kitchen and pantry, Cammie’s happy place.  It’s virtually bare and the house has events coming up sooner rather than later.  Time to go to town . . . . .

Town is just as Cammie expected, a hot bed of gossip and stares and Cammie is the main topic of conversation.  All anyone can talk about is how Cammie’s career literally went up in flames and the fact her ex is back in town and working on her home.  What everyone, including Cammie wants to know is how she feels about her ex, especially considering the fact he is once again single.  Trouble is, Cammie isn’t single and she’s having a hard time remembering that.  Her ex was always hard to resist and now that she’s learning more about what really happened all those years ago and what he’s endured in the meantime, he’s becoming even more irresistible.  With her family encouraging her to forgive and forget and knowing she’ll be in town for an extended period while her mother recuperates Cammie considers the possibility of trying to mend a bridge or two. 

As the days turn into weeks, Cammie finds it harder and harder to resist her ex’s charms and as the house starts coming together and business is picking up, she begins to think more and more about where her future truly lies.  Of course, those kinds of decisions aren’t easy to make and the universe has a way of throwing up one obstacle after another.  In the way of obstacles, Cammie and her ex(?) face all kinds of crazy including Cammie’s fiancé, her former colleague who is still causing problems, one emotionally fragile little girl, and some family secrets not a single person in the world saw coming. 

The Bottom Line: After reading Again, Alabama I feel a little like I need to find a small southern town to live in as there seems to be a lot of crazy that goes down there.  Cammie’s story is just chock full of crazy and it’s enough to make a sane person go, well, crazy!  From one day to the next, Cammie doesn’t know what she’s going to be hit with which makes having her family and ex-turned-friend near such a comfort.  It’s that comfort which reals Cammie in and reminds her of what’s important in life.  There is a bit of everything in this read that greatly appeals to me including a feisty heroine, a sexy, sweet and slightly damaged man, the past coming back to haunt A LOT of people, and enough southern drama and charm to satisfy everyone!

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Emma Laroux’s a fallen Southern beauty queen whose past is barely whispered about in her small town. But the secrets and lies surrounding her scandal still haunt her, and something about Matthew Pope may hold the answers…if only she could put her finger on it.

Matthew Pope wonders what awful karmic thing he’s done to land him in Podunk, Alabama. But when he sees Emma Laroux again after all this time, he knows he’s still the only one who holds the key to unlocking the truth of her past…

Will a shared moment in time ten years ago threaten the best thing that’s ever happened to them – each other?

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Netgalley and purchase     My Rating: 4/5 star

By nearly every standard, Emma Laroux is stunning.  She has poise, grace, charm, beauty, all the things one would expect a former Miss Alabama to have.  One would also expect a woman such as Emma Laroux to have a handsome man on her arm, but that is something Emma Laroux most definitely does not have.  In fact, it’s been roughly a decade since Emma last had a serious boyfriend.

In college, the world was seemingly at Emma Laroux’s feet until she quite unexpectedly gave up her Miss Alabama crown and walked away from her long-term boyfriend.  With little to no explanation, Emma left behind everything she had worked so hard for leaving everyone confused by her actions.  Though Emma knows she made the right decision at the time, all these years later, she still isn’t completely clear on what led her to such a huge, life-altering decision.  Things about that time are hazy and lost and time has helped her remember.

In the ten years since her abdication (is that what you call it when a beauty queen gives up her crown??) Emma has led a successful life and mostly fulfilled life.  She’s tremendously close to her family, she has a successful pageant-prep business, and big dog who loves her unconditionally.  Every single (and some married!) man in town wants her, but they also know she isn’t going to say yes to a date.  That is, until Matthew Pope comes to town.

Matthew Pope is a man of the strictest control.  After a near-disastrous childhood, he knows first-hand what a loss of control looks like.  He watches his food intake, he controls his exercise routine, and he runs a tight ship at work.  As a result, Matthew has risen far in his field and carved a nice life.  Emma Laroux makes him want to give up his strict hold on control and, in the beginning choke the life out of her and her big dog.  Trouble is, that frustration and aggravation are mixed with some serious desire and Matthew Pope is determined to have Emma Laroux.  Since he’s new to town, he doesn’t know about Emma’s no dating rule so he dives right on in the deep end and hopes for the best!  What he gets is a whole lot of sexy and more trouble than he could have ever imagined.

While Emma has worked hard to ignore/forget her past, being in a new relationship means sharing and that’s something Emma isn’t at all capable of doing.  Matthew makes her think about the future, but until she can fully understand her past, a future just doesn’t seem possible.  Adding to the frustration is her now married ex-boyfriend turned town mayor who seems awfully interested in Emma’s current situation.  In fact, his interest in she and Matthew borders on stalking and no one, including her ex seems to be able to explain the behavior.  As the days pass by and Emma and Matthew become more serious, it becomes clear Emma’s ex is tied to her hazy past, the abandonment of her crown, and even some of the strange events of the last ten years.  Figuring everything out means exposing a whole host of secrets no one, including Matthew want exposed. 

The Bottom Line:  I tell you what, Ministry, Alabama is just a hot bed of drama and awful secrets.  Isn’t it awesome???  Emma’s story is dramatic, sad, scary, and ultimately very sweet.  She’s lived alone for so long she’s gotten used to the feeling and doesn’t even realize it until Matthew walks into her life.  Matthew reads as somewhat nerdy and wimpy in the beginning, but as the tale unfolds he proves to be nerdy, strong, and sexy.  In short, exactly what Emma needs!  The road for Emma and Matthew is strange, twisted, and dark which makes the ultimate HEA so very, very good.  Because of Emma’s close relationship with her family, they play a huge part in this read and they shine in she and Matthew’s defense.  The only element of this read which kept me from a higher star rating is Matthew’s family which added absolutely nothing to this read.  At the end of it all, I enjoyed Love, Alabama and look so very forward to returning to Ministry, Alabama to see what new, awful secrets are lurking and just waiting to be uncovered.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Everybody loves local attorney and favorite son, Ben Laroux.  Well, at least everybody of the female persuasion–until he meets Sabine O’Connor. She loathes him and makes no secret of her feelings, even when he pours on his famous charm hoping to thank her for helping his family. Ben has never been told no, and if there’s one thing he’s never walked away from, it’s a challenge.

Sabine hopes she’s finally found peace and safety in the small town of Ministry. She’s changed her name to escape her painful past and her shameful family secrets. Ben Laroux is a gorgeous and sexy complication she can’t afford, but also can’t resist. However, when her past threatens to derail her present and future, Ben might be the only man she can trust.

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Purchase     My Rating: 4½/5 star

Is it possible to be a colossal ass and not know you’re a colossal ass??  In Ben Laroux’s case, the answer is a resounding yes!  Trouble is, he is Ministry, Alabama’s most beloved colossal ass which has allowed him to go through life completely ignorant of his behavior.  It’s hard to hide things from the town shrink though 😊

Sabine spends her days trying to help those who are at the end of their rope.  She listens, counsels, and keeps the secrets of countless Ministry, Alabama residents.  Which is precisely why she knows the kind of man Ben Laroux is without ever having to talk to him.  With his ridiculous two date rules, Ben has left many women in Ministry wanting more than he is ever going to be capable of giving.  As Sabine has figured out, Ben thinks he’s doing everyone a solid by being up front and honest.  He never leads anyone on and simply walks away when the dating limit has been hit.  Yeah, Sabine doesn’t need any part of that arrogance in her life.  She’s full up on that kind of crap!

Sabine and her mother are only in Ministry until Sabine can secure a divorce from her powerful, egomaniacal husband.  For two years, they’ve hidden in Ministry hoping he will eventually come to his senses and grant Sabine the divorce she desperately wants.  After all the lies, the cheating, and the relentless pursuit of power, Sabine wants out of the public spotlight and as far away from her husband as is humanly possible.  In fact, Sabine is ready to move forward with her life and that can’t happen as long as she’s still tied to her past. 

When she refuses to give him even an ounce of consideration, Ben decides to push and poke at Sabine until she agrees to give him a chance.  What Sabine finds is a man who is clueless about his behavior, who’s stunningly sexy, and under all the bravado, a genuinely good man who cares for her.  Which is just about the time Sabine sabotages it all by telling Ben about her past and her struggle to break free.  Though he is justifiably angered, Ben does what all Laroux’s do, he turns to his family for advice.  As always, the Laroux’s come to the rescue (HOWARD!!!!) and Ben crafts a plan that will not only secure Sabine’s divorce, but land her despicable husband right where he belongs, in prison!  To be sure, the plan is risky and before all is said and done, it becomes downright dangerous! 

The Bottom Line:  I am still 100% a smitten kitten with Susan Sands’ Alabama series!!  Of all the Ministry couples, Ben and Sabine are by far the most formidable.  With her keen intelligence and insight into human nature and Ben’s intelligence, determination, and kind nature, there’s not much of anything or anyone who can stand in their way.  Well, they can try 😊  Once again, Sands involves the entire Laroux family (and much of Ministry) which makes the read so much better, far more entertaining.  Though I can’t say for sure this is the end of the Alabama series, I can say, if it is, Ben and Sabine’s story would be a fitting ending as it couples up all the Laroux kids and completes the family.  With that being said, there are still a few characters hanging about (Sabine’s sister for example) who are just begging to have their story told.  I’m not being subtle here, Susan Sands, I want more of the Alabama series.  ASAP!!!

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Review: The Handy Men by Jamie K. Schmidt

The Handy Men

goodreads-logo

Jack and Dean love each other, but they’re missing the woman to complete their triangle. When newly divorced Paige Richards buys a Bed and Breakfast on Hamlet Island and employs them to help her fix the inn up, Jack and Dean are sure they’ve found the one they’ve been looking for. Despite the playful, sexy clues they drop, luscious Paige is reticent about getting involved, even when they set the stage so she can stumble on them in action. They can tell by her responses she wants to join them, but rumors travel fast on the small island, and tales of a threesome could get back to the conservative, family vacation crowd who won’t patronize those with an alternative lifestyle. And the last thing they want for Paige is the B&B’s rooms…and her bank account…to remain empty. But Jack and Dean will stop at nothing to prove to Paige that she can have it all…with them.

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Netgalley     My Rating: 3½/5 stars

Recently divorced Paige Richards has 99 problems and two extremely hot, gay men are one of them!!  Yeah, I totally typed that . . . . .

Paige thought her marriage was solid and strong right up until she caught her husband banging another woman.  Despite her ridiculous parents and their warnings about the appearance of divorce, Paige leaves his sorry ass, sells their home, and buys a beautiful bed and breakfast on a little island.  Unfortunately, that beautiful B&B needs a lot of work and so, with a heavy heart and a lot of regret, Paige borrows the money from her ridiculous parents and sets her sights on righting the ship and making a success of her property.  Fortunately, Jack and Dean live just a ferry ride away from the island and are two super-talented handy men. 

Jack and Dean are more than just hired help to Paige, they are friends who very much want to become lovers.  Between the two of them, they have flirted and hinted at every turn, but Paige just doesn’t seem to be catching on.  To be fair, everyone on the small island (whether they like it or not!) know Jack and Dean to be a committed GAY couple.  What most don’t know, nor care to know, is that the two men are a committed couple, but each is in fact bisexual and when the right woman comes along, they are more than willing to share and share alike.  For Jack and Dean, Paige is the right woman and they want their relationship to expand well beyond its current non-sexual parameters. 

With a little bit of planning and a willingness to finally be brutally honest and up front, Jack and Dean set about seducing Paige.  To everyone’s surprise and delight, Paige isn’t just receptive to the idea, she is all over it, ready and willing to jump right in.  Unlike many of the island’s residents (and her ridiculous parents!) Paige doesn’t see the men and their relationship as wrong or immoral, but just another expression of love and commitment that she is so happy to have been invited into.  Jack and Dean are good men who genuinely care for her and have worked as hard as Paige to see her dream become a successful reality.  All involved know there is going to be some blowback once their relationship becomes public knowledge, what they don’t count on is the source of that blowback.

The Bottom Line:  At only 140ish pages, The Handy Men is a solid read with just one big issue.  I like the three main characters quite a bit, but they are dealt an inordinately large amount of drama for such a short read.  I can totally understand the negative attitude of some of the locals, the gossip about the trio that is generated and spread, Paige’s ridiculous parents, and the drama associated with those things.  However, I can’t understand the additional drama of the ex-girlfriend and her new plus one, Paige’s ex-husband, and his new fiancé.  For such a short read, this is just too much drama!  At some point, it isn’t just a single straw that breaks the camel’s back, the camel is buried under the haystack with no hope of getting out.  I really would have liked to see one of two things happen with this read: 1) some of the drama was cut out or, 2) the book was lengthened to more comfortably accommodate all the drama thrown at Paige, Jack, and Dean.  This one big issue didn’t stop me from liking this book, but it did keep me from really loving it.

Amazon |B & N | iBooks | Kobo