Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sealed with a Kiss by Tronstad, Daley, Tang and Williams, A Review ★★★★

Sealed with a Kiss

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Book Description
Publication Date: July 29, 2014

A new anthology from some of your favorite inspirational authors--no reprints here!

Enjoy this collection of love stories with a theme of LOVE LETTERS. The Sealed with a Kiss collection includes: 

From USA TODAY and Publisher's Weekly Bestselling Author Janet Tronstad comes a new historical romance Mail Order Sunshine Bride. When mail-order bride, Eleanor O’Reilly, arrives in the Montana Territory the only one on the railway platform to greet her is a dangerous-looking man who claims to be the sheriff. Where is her intended husband? Janet Tronstad delights readers with another of her popular mail-order bride stories.

From Amazon Bestselling Author Margaret Daley comes a new romantic suspense Deadly Intent
Texas Ranger Sarah Osborn is sent to investigate the kidnapping of a prize stallion from the Shamrock Ranch, owned by Ian O’Leary, an ex-FBI agent and Sarah’s high school sweetheart. Someone from Ian’s past has a grudge against him and intends to make him suffer. Can Sarah help Ian find who wants him dead?

From award-winning author Camy Tang comes a new romantic suspense Unshakeable Pursuit 
A mysterious young woman warns Dr. Geoffrey Whelan and nurse Maylin Kinley that they are in mortal danger, and then two Asian hit men attack them at the children’s clinic where they work. Geoffrey and Maylin run for their lives, determined to figure out who is after them and why. When they discover the threat is connected to a young teenager whose life they saved, they must race to stop the person who wants them dead—before everyone they care about is caught in the crossfire.

From fan favorite Lacy Williams comes a new contemporary romance With Love, Cowboy
When the love of his life is injured in combat, Ryan Michaels promises himself he won't let any more time go by without declaring his love. Veteran Ashley Reynolds returns home a changed woman, but is she ready to see the truth about the cowboy she left behind?

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.


This anthology includes four very sweet, short-story romances. I have found that anthologies like this can be great or just so-so. This collection is well-done! 

Each romance is pretty predictable but that isn't necessarily a bad thing; the guaranteed happy ending is why I love romances so much. What I really liked about each story in this collection is the strong female character. They (with the exception of Ashley in With Love, Cowboy) were in tune with their feelings and knew exactly what they wanted from life and went for it. No dithering on their part. Ashley was also a strong character although her story did take more for her to realize what she was wanting. I won't go into specifics because I don't want to spoil anything. 

A "sweet" romance.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Hideaway Cove by Anna Sullivan, A Review ★★★★

Hideaway Cove (Windfall Island, #2)

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Book Description

Publication Date: July 29, 2014

Jessi Randal walked away from her last relationship with a baby and a broken heart. Now, years later, the last thing this single mom wants is to give Windfall Island—and all its nosy residents—anything more to gossip about. But the moment she lays eyes on the tall, sexy stranger with the slow Southern drawl, she knows she's in delicious trouble . . . 

Holden Abbot is on the island to find the missing heir to the Stanhope family fortune. It's his job to charm as many secrets out of the town as possible. And if he can charm Jessi into his bed, even better. When all evidence points to her as the heir, a dangerous enemy sets his sights on Jessi and her son. Now Holden will have to risk everything to protect the family he's come to love. 

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.


This is Book #2 in the Windfall Island series. I have not read the first book and do think that this book could be read without reading the first. There is a nice prologue provided that provides needed information. This book is also a romance wrapped around a mystery and it was the mystery element that really captured my attention. It was slow getting into the book at the beginning but as I continued to read and more clues to the mystery were revealed I found myself wanting to continue reading. 

I can't say that I feel a need to go back and read the first book and I'm pretty sure I can see where some of the story will end up in the third book (it's pretty predictable at this point). That being said, I do have the third book on my radar as I am interested in seeing how Sullivan gets us to the solved mystery.

My four star rating is due to the mystery element and how much that pulled me in. Without that, this would be a three star rating -- which still means I enjoyed it. 

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Book Memes, featuring A Paris Apartment

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3)

I have had The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness on hold request at the library for the last few weeks. They called yesterday that it was ready so I of course had to dash over and pick it up. I haven't started it yet because there are things I need to get done in a timely manner and I know that I'll be immersed in the story and won't want to put it down. So I'm holding off for a few days. I did browse a few shelves and picked up a few other books to add to the stack. I spied one of the books on my reading list that fits perfectly with the Paris in July event hosted this month by A Wandering Life. Anything Paris related goes and there have been some really wonderful posts this month. 

Paris In July 003

 I began reading  A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable last night and that is where today's selections come from.

A Paris Apartment

I'm about a fourth of the way into the book and it is very good so far. I admit that I added this to my TBR list based solely on the title and cover (recurring theme around here).  I told myself that I would read a chapter or two this morning over breakfast and a cup of tea. But then I finished breakfast and kept reading, beginning a new chapter without realizing that I had meant to stop. Does this ever happen to you?



Chapitre I
(yes, it actually uses the French....*sigh*)

She only wanted to get out of town. 



p.56
Despite its lack of decorative charm, April loved the place upon sight. She loved the location, its original thick-plank wood floors and how one side of the living room was more windows than wall. April imagined herself leaning against the panes at night, a glass of wine in hand, the city twinkling before her. The apartment did not show all it had to offer, but it still showed Paris. 


The cover shows some wide-planked floors that have been whitewashed; paired with that paragraph above.....I'm thinking that I could fall in love with floors like that in my house. I've always been a carpet girl, but my kitchen floor is one of those things I work really hard to ignore. These floors call me to me!
Thanks for stopping by!

A February Bride by Betsy St. Amant, A Review ★★★★

A February Bride by Betsy St. Amant

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Book Description


Happily ever after guaranteed. Allie left the love of her life at the altar—to save him from a lifetime of heartbreak. When a Valentine’s Day wedding brings them back together, she struggles against her family’s destructive history. Can Allie ever realize that a marriage is so much more than a wedding dress? History repeats itself when Allie Andrews escapes the church on her wedding day—in the same dress passed down for generations and worn by all the women in her family—women with a long history of failed marriages. Allie loves Marcus, but fears she’s destined to repeat her family’s mistakes. She can’t bear to hurt Marcus worse. Marcus Hall never stopped loving Allie and can only think of one reason she left him at the altar—him. When the two are thrown together for his sister’s Valentine’s Day wedding, he discovers the truth and realizes their story might be far from over. Can Allie shuck expectation and discover who she is as a bride and in the Bride of Christ? And if she ever walks down the aisle, what dress will she wear?

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.



I rated this book after I finished reading it and now have come back to write a review for it. And I'm a little surprised I gave it four stars - it seems like a 3 star book for me as I reflect on it. 

In hindsight, I'm annoyed by Allie's insecurity and Marcus' refusal to fight for her throughout the story. There is also back-story to Allie's emotional distress and St Amant did not fully develop it; if she had, then Allie might have been a much more likeable character from the beginning. Because in all honesty, I didn't care for her much and thought Marcus should move on. 

However, I re-read the beginning and the ending; ah, the ending completely saved this book! Both Allie and Marcus decide to speak up for what they are feeling in their heart. This type of ending is so much nicer than just one of the characters deciding to take a chance. LOVED the ending.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Only with You by Lauren Layne, A Review ★★★★★

Only with You (The Best Mistake, #1)

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Release Date: July 29, 2014

Book Description

Cocktail waitress Sophie Dalton doesn't exactly have a life plan. She's perfectly happy being everyones favorite party girl. But when a Las Vegas bachelorette party goes awry and an uptight businessman mistakes Sophie for a prostitute . . . well, Sophie wonders if it's time to reevaluate her priorities. Swearing off her thigh-high boots for good, Sophie slinks back home with damaged pride-and a jackpot of a hangover.

Yet what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay there. On a trip to Seattle to open a new office, Grayson Wyatt meets his latest employee-who turns out to be the same woman he recently called a hooker. Wealthy and gorgeous, Gray is a man used to getting what he wants. And it doesn't take long to figure out that smart, sassy, sexy Sophie is everything he's been looking for. As their late nights at the office turn into hot morning-afters, they realize their Vegas misunderstanding may lead to the real thing . . .

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.

I read quite a bit of romance and enjoy most of them (they are usually 4 stars) but this book earned 5 stars from me. It is excellent!

There's an inspirational saying associated with Cinderella: one pair of shoes can change your life (or something like that. The book opens with Sophie deciding which pair of shoes to wear out for a night in Vegas. Upon meeting a handsome man in an elevator, it seemed that events would be pretty predictable for the rest of the story. Well.....

....only the happily ever after part. 

Layne did a great job developing Sophie and Gray and their story unfolded at a great pace. Sophie's snappy dialogue brought grins and Gray was so awkwardly reserved that you couldn't help but like him. Definitely a step away from the typical leading man who is suave and distant. 

Again, great story - I received a copy from NetGalley but consider this a book worth owning in my permanent collection. I can't wait to read Max and Brynn's story in the second book as well as checking out other works by Layne.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Want to Know More

Author: Lauren Layne

For more thoughts from Lauren Layne on Only with You, visit her blog post here - it's worth the click over!


Death of a Mad Hatter by Jenn McKinlay, A Review ★★★★

Death of a Mad Hatter (A Hat Shop Mystery, #2)

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Book Description


Scarlett Parker and her British cousin, Vivian Tremont, are hard at work at Mim’s Whims—their ladies’ hat shop on London’s chic Portobello Road—to create hats for an Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea, a fund-raiser for a local children’s hospital. It seems like a wonderfully whimsical way to pass the hat, and Scarlett and Viv are delighted to outfit the Grisby family, the hosts who are hoping to raise enough money to name a new hospital wing after their patriarch.

Unfortunately, the Grisby heir will not live to see it—he’s been poisoned. When traces of the poison are found on the hat Scarlett and Viv made for him, the police become curiouser and curiouser about their involvement. Now the ladies need to don their thinking caps and find the tea party crasher who’s mad enough to kill at the drop of a hat…

Review

I borrowed this book from my local library.  Here is my honest review.

Super cute! I remember picking up the first book in the series, Cloche and Dagger based on the title and really enjoyed it. I am fascinated by the British custom of hats. It's so vintage, refined, chic, classic...

 McKinlay has created an endearing cast of characters for this series that kept me reading and looking forward to the second book. Scarlet is not afraid to speak her mind and be who she is - really admire that! Harrison is charming (except when he's bossy) and seeing the relationship develop just a tad bit more in this book was the perfect amount of satisfying. 



I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Good Dog by Todd Kessler, A Review ★★★★★

The Good Dog

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Book Description

Join Tako on an adventure as he makes a brave choice and proves that heroes come in all shapes and sizes. When little Ricky Lee finds a puppy on the side of the road, he takes him home and names him Tako. Ricky's parents say that they will allow Tako to stay only if he is a good dog and follows the 
rules--or it's off to the pound he goes! 

Tako wants more than anything to be a good dog and stay with Ricky, but when greedy Mr. Prichard hatches a plan to put the Lee family's bakery out of business, Tako has to break the rules to protect his new family. Will he be able to spoil Mr. Prichard's plan and be a hero, or will he end up in the pound?

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.


As an adult, I really enjoyed this book. The story is thoughtful and has a great message. The illustrations are adorable. I appreciate that it features a family who is not white (sorry, I can't think of the "politically correct" way to say that). As an educator, I believe it is important that (1) children see books that highlight other cultures and ethnicities and (2) that children see people who look like them in books in positive portrayals. This book definitely fits that.
For especially young children (3-6), I don't think they will grasp all of the messages in this book. They will cheer for Tako and recognize the villain for being a bad guy.  It certainly opens the door to discussions on how a community can support each other for younger students and for older students can delve into simple economics. 

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Revenge of the Cube Dweller: A Tanzie Lewis Novel by Joanne Fox Phillips, A Review ★★★★

Revenge of the Cube Dweller

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Book Description

Tanzie Lewis used to have it all. The stylish wife of a successful oil executive at the top of the Houston social scene, she used to spend her days playing scratch golf or lunching with friends at the club. That was before she was dumped in favor of a beautiful younger woman and the global financial crisis wreaked havoc on her divorce settlement. Now, at 52, Tanzie finds herself depressed and alone in Tulsa, watching her waist size grow and her professional opportunities shrink, working as a minion for clueless bosses in the internal audit department of the Bishop Group. So what’s a “girlie” to do? Snoop!
Taking advantage of Bishop Group’s security weaknesses, she begins to unravel the intricate warp and woof of corporate fraud, manipulation, and a cover-up that enrages her. Avenging the death of innocent Houstonians after a massive pipeline explosion, and uncovering her own hidden talents for sleuthing and cleverly tampering with the system, Tanzie dishes out her own justice to get even—and to get a little something for herself!

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.


What a refreshing book to read! I found Tanzie to be easy to relate to - not because we share life experiences, but because she seemed so real. She was an average, flawed woman. Not flawed in drastic ways - just normal everyday ways. She was really honest with herself. This book was written in first person and sometimes I find that perspective to be .... shallow. Phillips writes very well and really drew me in to the story. 

By the time I finished the book, I had forgotten there was a subtitle to the book. It was left open for there to be other Tanzie Lewis books and I certainly look forward to reading more! If you are a fan of Kinsey Milhone, you'll like Tanzie Lewis!

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Married to a Rogue by Donna Lea Simpson, A Review ★★★★★

Married to a Rogue

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Book Description

from NetGalley

From the author of The Earl of Hearts comes a Regency romance celebrating the witty and romantic world that fans of Georgette Heyer have fallen in love with.
Lady Emily Sedgely, separated from her husband and bored to distraction after years of solitude in the wilds of Yorkshire, is stirred by a sudden thirst for life and eagerly returns to London for the Season. Back in the swirl of society, she quickly warms to the attentions of an ardent young Frenchman—until a chance encounter with Baxter, her estranged husband, leaves her as confused as ever about her heart’s true longings.
Baxter, the Marquess of Sedgely, was given to dark moods and an uncertain temper that doomed his marriage. Finding relief in travel, he spent five years gallivanting the Continent and has now returned to London with a comely young mistress—and a dangerous secret. Cavalier about his safety, he discovers a far greater concern—for just one look at Emily stirs a realization that while his life may be in danger, it is his heart that faces a more immediate peril.
When Emily’s young French suitor arouses suspicions that he may not be all that he appears and a unknown assailant makes several attempts on Baxter’s life, the two are driven to protect each other and surrender to a passionate reawakening—and neither will rest until they are safely in the arms of the only person they’ve ever loved.
This books was originally published under the title Lady Delafont’s Dilemma.
Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.

I really enjoyed the story in Married to a Rogue. An estranged husband and wife falling in love again is super romantic and the ultimate second-chance at love telling. I liked Emily because it was evident that she was hurt by her marriage in the past but she dealt with it and found inner strength to move past it. Baxter at first is the typical Regency romance hero: egotistical and standoffish; yet he was so easy to root for from the beginning.
One thing that I think Simpson did well was show how the characters realized that they still loved each other and progressed towards a declaration throughout the majority of the book. Often this moment comes close to the end and feels very rushed. 

Overall I enjoyed this story very much and definitely think that it is a story I will enjoy reading again in a few years.  I am giving this book 5 stars not because it is brilliant writing (it is written well, don't get me wrong) but because I just love the story concept and how Simpson told it. It's almost as good as a friends falling-in-love setup.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it



Saturday, July 19, 2014

Scarlett Says by Julie L. Cannon, A Review ★★★

Scarlett Says

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Book Description

Scarlett O’Hara has an answer for everything . . . right? Gone with the Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara isn’t perfect, but as far as 30-year-old literature lover Joan Meeler is concerned, Scarlett’s outspoken passion, strength, and 17-inch waist make up for her other shortcomings. In fact, Joan has grown quite fond of writing her advice blog in Scarlett’s devil-may-care tone. It gives her a voice and confidence she otherwise couldn’t muster. Nevermind that her writing muse is a fictional character. What would Scarlett say, for example, about Charles, one of Joan’s first and most devoted blog readers, who suddenly has Joan dreaming (and worrying) of a life—and love—outside of make-believe? Joan digs into her heroine’s mind, searching for something to calm her rising insecurities but discovers that Scarlett is surprisingly mute on the topic. Abandoned by her sole source of security, can Joan look elsewhere—even to God—to uncover the inner confidence she so desperately needs?

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.


This was a good book. It wasn't my favorite but I did enjoy reading it. Scarlett was -- neurotic -- in an almost lovable, quirky way. There were a few points where she kinda bugged me. However, I did highlight two great quotes:

"I've figured out a lot over the years, and one thing is that we humans teach other humans how to treat us by how we act and respond to them." (location 581)

"I keep to myself. I keep up a wall, a very courteous wall, but still a wall. No one knows me well, and I prefer it that way. (location 811)

Cannon does a decent job of writing a story about a young woman who is finding herself and the courage to connect with people around her.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it