Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Sweet Montana Christmas by Roxanne Snopek

A Sweet Montana Christmas* * * *

Melinda Sweet loved her husband before she learned of his wealth and she loves him still, despite the fact that it’s gone. Unfortunately, while she knows the collapse of his Chicago financial services business had nothing to do with him, he believes otherwise. His upbeat adjustment to their new – and temporary – life on his grandfather’s rundown honey farm is a foil to cover the burden of failure. She wasn’t expecting to throw – in five weeks – the traditional Sweet Christmas Open House, but it’s a good earning opportunity and how hard could it be?

Austin Sweet is determined to make his wife proud of him again. But he also wants to erase the sting of shame he feels from his parents, to whom he owes a debt of gratitude for arranging for this caretaking job. Getting paid to fix up this disaster is better than living in their basement, sure. But what does he know about bees? Or fixing broken plumbing? Or cleaning a chimney?

But when Austin’s grandfather gives him the farm as a Christmas gift, there’s only one response. Accepting the gift will secure a future that will make his wife even more unhappy than he already is. Refusing the gift will finalize the rift between him and his family, but he’d rather lose them than Melinda. Then he discovers she’s spared him the choice. Austin’s not-so-Sweet side rears up as he determines that he’s done trying to make everyone happy. He’ll get his wife back, no matter what. And they’ll decide their future together.

Review:

Between the loss of Austin’s business and Melinda’s long hours at the hospital, communication between them completely breaks down, leading to their separation.  The aftermath lands them both in Montana; Melinda with her mom and Austin on his grandfather’s old farm.   Austin feels that he irreparably damaged their marriage so needless to say he is shocked when Melinda shows up at his grandfather’s farm, a few months after their separation, with a very, very unexpected surprise.  

As they navigate a new stage of their relationship, they work together to clean up the farmhouse and get it ready for sale in the spring.  At least that’s Melinda’s plan.  Austin isn’t so sure he wants to leave.  He’s finding that the work on the honey farm agrees with him and he could stay there for the long haul. Together they’ll have to decide their plans for the future if those plans include each other.

At first I had a hard time empathizing with Austin’s melancholy repetition of, “A husband provides.”  He feels that he failed his wife because he couldn’t provide for her financially, hence (according to him) breaking up his marriage.  It’s such a traditional, old fashioned and sexist way to look at things and it drove me slightly batty.  But other than that, Austin did not come across as sexist in any other way. He was actually pretty fantastic.  In the end the moral is that they are equals in their relationship.  They provide for each other.  Providing for their family isn’t something that Austin should ever have to shoulder alone.

Melinda was an interesting heroine.  She was singularly focused on her career; a trait I often admire in female characters.  Unfortunately, her focus is so narrow that she is, at first, unwilling to even consider any other options.  It was the unwillingness to consider those options that was frustrating.  But just as Austin has to learn that they are a team, in some ways Melinda has to learn the same thing. 

And that is what I enjoyed most about this book.  The fact there isn’t only one answer to obtain happiness.  There is no right or wrong answer to their situation.  The point is that together they are a team and together they can decide what is best for them and their future.   

This was a great addition to my winter reading.  It fulfilled a number of traits I’ve been looking for in adult romance. 

Christmas story?  Check. 

Married couple?  Check. 

Montana setting?  Check.
 
Country living? Check

That last one…As Austin and Melinda bust ass renovating the old farmhouse and farm, I found myself feeling extremely jealous.  Snopek tells their story in such a way that made all their hard work look exciting and fulfilling without romanticizing it or making it seem easy.  I wanted to throw a “For Sale” sign up in my front yard and start scouring the ads for remote farmhouses in Montana.  To be fair, this is on the bucket list for me and the Executive Officer but reading A Sweet Montana Christmas made me want it RIGHT NOW!

This was my first Roxanne Snopek book and I enjoyed it so much that I will be reading her other books as soon as possible.    If you are looking for a satisfying Christmas read this month, I highly recommend Melinda and Austin Sweet’s story.


~Nat

That's What HE Said Thursday #8


Image courtesy of Kei at The Lovely Pages Review

That's What He Said is a weekly meme hosted by the ladies at Chapter Break, where we spotlight a quote from our book crush to the object of his desire. We like to pretend it's us.

What better way to celebrate our book boyfriends?


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My choice is from Shadows In Silence by Courtney Allison Moulton. It's book two in the Angelfire series. Shel loves this series and had me read it too so we could both share in the joy and heartbreak that is Will. In fact, whenever we discuss this book, we always start off with "poor Will". A lot happens in these books that leave you breathless and aching and Will is a huge part of why that is. If you haven't yet read these, you should! ~ Bel





“For centuries I’ve watched you with everyone but me, …Not him Ellie.”

~Will to Ellie regarding her attraction to nemesis Cadan


For more information about Courtney Allison Moulton and the Angelfire series, visit her website. You can also see her artwork - including lovely images of Will and the rest of her characters!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ASA by Jay Crownover - COVER REVEAL!

We are so excited about the cover reveal for Jay Crownover's ASA! ASA is the sixth and final book in Jay's Marked Men Series, published by HarperCollins. Check out the hot cover and don't forget to pre-order your copy today!

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Amazon US ** iBooks ** Barnes & Noble ** Kobo

About ASA:
Starting over in Denver with a whole new circle of friends and family, Asa Cross struggles with being the man he knows everyone wants him to be and the man he knows he really is. A leopard doesn’t it change its spots and Asa has always been a predator. He doesn’t want to hurt those who love and rely on him, especially one stunning arresting cop who suddenly seems to be interested in him for far more than his penchant for breaking the law. But letting go of old habits is hard, and it’s easy to hit bottom when it’s the place you know best.

Royal Hastings is quickly learning what the bottom looks like after a tragic situation at work threatens not only her career but her partner’s life. As a woman who has only ever had a few real friends she’s trying to muddle through her confusion and devastation all alone. Except she can’t stop thinking about the sexy southern bartender she locked up. Crushing on Asa is the last thing she needs but his allure is too strong to resist. His long criminal record can only hurt her already shaky career and chasing after a guy who has no respect for the law or himself can only end in heartbreak.

A longtime criminal and a cop together just seems so wrong . . . but for Asa and Royal, being wrong together is the only right choice to make.
  Marked men Banner

And don’t miss the previous books in The Marked Men Series!

RULE

JET

ROME

NASH

ROWDY

And don't miss Jay at 3pm EST over at the Between The Covers page on Facebook today! Come chat with her!

Jay Crownover
About Jay Crownover:
Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men series. She also introduced the dark and sexy world of The Point that started with BETTER WHEN HE's BAD and is currently working on her newest series The Saint of Denver. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she'll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.
     

Website ** Blog ** Facebook ** Twitter ** ASA Goodreads ** Jay Crownover Goodreads

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Waiting on Wednesday (131)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.


The Boy in the Black SuitBy Jason Reynolds
Publication Date:  January 16, 2015

Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this wry, gritty novel from the author of When I Was the Greatest.

Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died—although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. She’s got a crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness—and who can maybe even help take it away.




The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant (The V Trilogy, #2)By Joanna Wiebe 
Publication Date: January 20, 2015

Life and death, light and dark, spirit and flesh-on Wormwood Island, the lines are always blurred. For Anne Merchant, who has been thrust back into this eerily secretive world, crossing the line seems inevitable, inescapable, destined.

Now, as Ben finds himself battling for the Big V and Teddy reveals the celestial plan in which Anne is entwined, Anne must choose: embrace her darkly powerful connection to a woman known as Lilith and, in doing so, save the boy she loves...or follow a safer path that is sure to lead to Ben's destruction at the hands of dark leaders. Hoping the ends will justify the means, Anne starts down the slippery slope into the underworld, intent on exploring the dark to find the light. But as the lure of Lilith proves powerfully strong, will Anne save others-only to lose herself?









The Mime Order (The Bone Season, #2)By Samantha Shannon
Publication: January 27, 2015

Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal penal colony of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the fugitives are still missing and she is the most wanted person in London.

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on Paige, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take center stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner.

Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided. Will Paige know who to trust? The hunt for the dreamwalker is on.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

No Place to Fall
* * * *

Amber Vaughn is a good girl. She sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out at her best friend Devon’s house. It’s only when Amber goes exploring in the woods near her home, singing camp songs with the hikers she meets on the Appalachian Trail, that she feels free—and when the bigger world feels just a little bit more in reach.

When Amber learns about an audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she decides that her dream—to sing on bigger stages—could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older (and unavailable) brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out for the hypercompetitive arts school. But the more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes . . . and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl, after all.

Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between “right” and “wrong,” there’s a whole world of possibilities. 





Review:

To avoid the dysfunction of her family life, Amber and her best friend Devon have been spending their summer evenings at a hiker’s cabin in the woods on the Appalachian Trail; meeting people from all over the country, making music and sometimes hooking up.  During those evenings, it’s the music that makes Amber feel like she has a future.  Possibly one far away from her small hometown.

As the new school year gets underway, life gets complicated.  First, there’s Devon’s brother, Will.  After an unexpected encounter with Will (which we should note she has had a bit of a crush on for a while), Amber is left feeling confused and regretful.  Then there are the two new kids at school; one who seems to have taken an instant dislike to Amber and the other who immediately bonds with Amber over their mutual love of music.  And the most complicated issue of all is Amber’s family.  A dad that doesn’t do such a great job of hiding the fact that he’s cheating on his wife; an older sister and brother in law that are on the fast road to jail time and losing their very young son; and a sweet overprotective mom that purposely puts on blinders in hopes that the dysfunction going on around her will just disappear. 

When Amber finds out about auditions for a performing arts high school in Winston-Salem, she sees a future that includes not only doing the things she loves most but also escaping her flawed family situation.  But in an attempt to help a friend re-connect with the music that he loves so much, Amber manages to break too many rules (and laws).  Her actions could cost the audition for which she fought so hard as well as her friends, including Will.   

There is no ignoring it.  This story is uncomfortable in places.  There are a number of topics/situations that might turn some readers off – cheating, drug use and racism were the three that stood out.  All three of these things were problematic for me but the racism bothered me most.  It was a situational comment by Amber that was obviously used to give the reader insight into where she lives and how she was raised.  It occurs in the beginning and I have to say that I almost decided to not finish this book because of it.  But I was so tired of being disappointed by books and not finishing them that I decided to plow through anyway.  

And I am glad that I did.Because there is also no denying that this story makes you think.  It forces the reader to consider the complicated fact that privileges and opportunities can be so much more accessible to some but not to others and how difficult it can be to pursue a dream when personal circumstances don’t allow for much support.  

No Place to Fall is a great new addition to the world of contemporary YA.   It’s a thought provoking book that will grab your interest and keep you turning the pages every step of the way.


Nat

Monday, December 15, 2014

Inspire by Cora Carmack Release Day Launch

Inspire RDL Banner  

We are so incredibly excited to be able to bring you the Release Day Launch for Cora Carmack's INSPIRE! INSPIRE is a New Adult Paranormal Romance novel and the first book in her new Muse Series!! Greek Mythology!! Go out and get this today because it's on sale for $2.99 until 12/20/14!!!

  Inspire

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

About INSPIRE: Kalliope lives with one purpose. To inspire. As an immortal muse, she doesn’t have any other choice. It’s part of how she was made. Musicians, artists, actors—they use her to advance their art, and she uses them to survive. She moves from one artist to the next, never staying long enough to get attached. But all she wants is a different life— a normal one. She’s spent thousands of years living lie after lie, and now she’s ready for something real. Sweet, sexy, and steady, Wilder Bell feels more real than anything else in her long existence. And most importantly… he’s not an artist. He doesn’t want her for her ability. But she can’t turn off the way she influences people, not even to save a man she might love. Because in small doses, she can help make something beautiful, but her ability has just as much capacity to destroy as it does to create. The longer she stays, the more obsessed Wilder will become. It’s happened before, and it never turns out well for the mortal. Her presence may inspire genius. But it breeds madness, too. 
  Inspire Teaser 3

Excerpt: I can feel Wilder’s breath against my lips. More than that, I can see it. The sun has set and the temperature has dropped, and air fogs between us. There’s something about actually seeing it, like our lips are touching, we are touching, despite the distance between. And as we sway from side to side, my heart gradually begins to pick up speed. The strains of guitar music flowing out from the restaurant are nearly indecipherable over the heavy heartbeat in my ears. But Wilder must hear it. His hands are strong on my body, guiding my movements, and I’m practically clay in his palms. We dance, eyes on eyes, lips nearly on lips, and there is lightning beneath my skin each time his body brushes against mine in a new way. His touch is firm, but gentle, never pushing or pressuring, though I can tell from the dark look in his eyes that he’s just as affected as I am. The music shifts, building to a crescendo, and he spins us. My chest pushes tight against his, and I bite back a gasp. I don’t know if it’s the cold or him or some combination of both, but the tips of my breasts are painfully tight. Just the pressure of my bra is enough to rub them raw. I remember the night at his apartment, the way he’d taken his time learning my body. I think of the heat of his mouth on my skin, and the memory alone is enough to make me shiver and clench. He’s back to being business, grown-up Wilder tonight in his button down and glasses. Only now that I know him, it doesn’t seem like such a stark difference. He is neither the straight-laced man nor the tattooed bad boy. Or perhaps he’s both. Regardless of what he’s wearing, Wilder is caring and loyal and strong and so sexy that I’m having trouble remembering why I shouldn’t push him into the backseat of his SUV and crawl on top of him.

Inspire Teaser 1  Headshot
About Cora Carmack: Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.      

Website ** Twitter ** Facebook ** Author Goodreads ** INSPIRE Goodreads

 
 

The Hook Up (Game On #1) by Kristen Callihan

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The rules: no kissing on the mouth, no staying the night, no telling anyone, and above all… No falling in love.

Anna Jones just wants to finish college and figure out her life. Falling for star quarterback Drew Baylor is certainly not on her to do list. Confident and charming, he lives in the limelight and is way too gorgeous for his own good. If only she could ignore his heated stares and stop thinking about doing hot and dirty things with him. Easy right?

Too bad he’s committed to making her break every rule…

Football has been good to Drew. It’s given him recognition, two National Championships, and the Heisman. But what he really craves is sexy yet prickly Anna Jones. Her cutting humor and blatant disregard for his fame turns him on like nothing else. But there’s one problem: she's shut him down. Completely.

That is until a chance encounter leads to the hottest sex of their lives, along with the possibility of something great. Unfortunately, Anna wants it to remain a hook up. Now it’s up to Drew to tempt her with more: more sex, more satisfaction, more time with him. Until she’s truly hooked. It's a good thing Drew knows all about winning.

All’s fair in love and football…Game on.

New Adult/Contemporary Romance with a HEA - Recommended for readers 17 and older.


Look at this cover and you'll know immediately why I was encouraged to read this. If you're wanting a sizzling hot read, look no further because The Hook Up will have you squealing and biting down on your knuckles.

Anna and Drew first run into each other in their Philosophy class. They’re complete strangers who take no note of each other until Anna speaks and then Drew is mesmerized. Their physical attraction is instantaneous. Hell, by the time the prologue was done, I was mesmerized! Callihan doesn’t waste any time when it comes down to the action. Honestly, some of the scenes were so freaking hot, like your ereader could short-circuit and it's hard to contain yourself, they're so unbelievably hot!

These two kind of start their unconventional relationship backwards. It’s totally physical at first but then as much as Anna tries to maintain some control to keep it as just that, there’s no escaping Drew's charisma. And Drew is turned upside down by this girl who wants absolutely nothing to do with him or his celebrity status. Being with her is most certainly not some challenge for him to win. He genuinely wants to get to know who Anna is behind all that armor. So being “magic-time buddies” is not going to suffice for him. Now he just has to convince her.

It’s interesting how Drew is the one who is open to their possibility as a couple whereas Anna is the hold out. Her main hesitation is being in Drew’s spotlight. She prefers to fly under the radar. Being his girlfriend would mean being helpless to constant and invasive scrutiny, a terrifying thought that opens up old wounds for her. She doesn’t give in to Drew easily but he chips away at her skepticism slowly. There are many hurdles they have to jump over. When it seems that one success is gained, another event comes along to test them. Watching their friendship mature from where they began is truly a delightful thing to witness. And it’s smokin' all the way!

The Hook Up surprised me. It came as a recommendation promising passion and intensity. I definitely got that. I was quite fervent about getting back to it any time I was away from it. What I did not expect was the depth of the characters including the supporting players. As their story continued, I got to see Anna and Drew more than just what they had appeared to be at the beginning. Their problems aren’t resolved easily when a monumental event occurs that throws them off and makes them question everything. By the time I got to the end of the book, so much had transpired between them. 

Callihan has started a very impressive and exhilarating series that I’m very eager to read more of. And I'd like to thank her for rekindling my love of Siouxie and The Banshees. (You'll get it when you read it.) The second book, The Friend Zone featuring Drew’s teammate Gray, comes out in 2015. In the meantime, Anna and Drew have something that I just can’t get enough of so I’ll make do with re-reading The Hook Up just to placate myself. If you haven't gotten the hint yet, YES, you must read it!

~ Bel 


Kristen Callihan also pens the wildly successful Darkest London series, Firelight being the first. Connect with her: 


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