Tag Archives: Romance

Blitz & Giveaway: 70% Dark Intentions by Amber Royer

70% DARK INTENTIONS
Bean to Bar Mysteries Book 2
by
AMBER ROYER
Categories: Cozy Mystery / Woman Sleuth / Romance
Publisher: Golden Tip Press
Date of Publication: July 20, 2021
Number of Pages: 260 pages
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An Idyllic Chocolate Shop. An island with endangered species. And a murder.
Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop on Galveston’s historic Strand is bringing in plenty of customers – in part due to the notoriety of the recent murder of one of her assistants, which she managed to solve. Things seem to be taking a turn for the better. Her new assistant, Mateo, even gets along with Carmen, the shop’s barista turned pastry chef. Felicity thinks she’s learning to cope with change – right up until one of her friends gets engaged. Everyone’s expecting her to ask Logan, her former bodyguard, to be her plus one. But even the thought of asking out someone else still makes her feel disloyal to her late husband’s memory — so maybe she hasn’t moved on from her husband’s death as much as she thought.

Felicity isn’t planning to contact Logan any time soon. Only, Felicity finds ANOTHER body right outside her shop – making it two murders at Greetings and Felicitations in as many months. That night, Mateo disappears, leaving Felicity to take care of his pet octopus. The police believe that Mateo committed the murder, but Felicity is convinced that, despite the mounting evidence, something more is going on, and Mateo may actually be in trouble.

When Logan assumes that he’s going to help Felicity investigate, she realizes she’s going to have to spend time with him – whether she’s ready to really talk to him or not. Can Felicity find out what happened to Mateo, unmask a killer, and throw an engagement party all at the same time?

PRAISE FOR 70% DARK INTENTIONS:

“Royer has concocted a sweetly dark confection with 70% DARK INTENSIONS, the second serving in her Bean to Bar Mysteries series…You’ll read this yummy treat late into the night.” –Amy Shojai, author of September Day & Shadow pet-centric thrillers

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Amber Royer writes the CHOCOVERSE comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the BEAN TO BAR MYSTERIES. She is also the author of STORY LIKE A JOURNALIST: A WORKBOOK FOR NOVELISTS, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She blogs about creative writing technique and all things chocolate at www.amberroyer.com. She also teaches creative writing for both UT Arlington Continuing Education and Writing Workshops Dallas. If you are very nice to her, she might make you cupcakes.
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Review & Giveaway: Dreams Rekindled by Amanda Cabot

BNR Dreams Rekindled

DREAMS REKINDLED

Mesquite Springs, Book 2

BY AMANDA CABOT

Categories: Christian Historical Fiction/ Romance/ Stand-Alone

Publisher: Revell

Date of Publication: March 2, 2021

Pages: 352

 

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He’s bound and determined to find peace . . . but she’s about to stir things up. 
 
Dorothy Clark dreams of writing something that will challenge people as much as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin seems to have. But in 1850s Mesquite Springs, there are few opportunities for writers–until newspaperman Brandon Holloway arrives, that is. 
 
Brandon Holloway has seen firsthand the disastrous effects of challenging others. He has no intention of repeating that mistake. Instead of following his dreams, he’s committed to making a new–and completely uncontroversial–start in the Hill Country. 
 
As Dorothy’s involvement in the fledgling newspaper grows from convenient to essential, the same change seems to be happening in Brandon’s heart. But before romance can bloom, Dorothy and Brandon must work together to discover who’s determined to divide the town and destroy Brandon’s livelihood. 

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Review & Giveaway: Grand Openings Can Be Murder by Amber Royer

GRAND OPENINGS
CAN BE MURDER
Bean to Bar Mysteries Book 1
by
AMBER ROYER
Categories: Cozy Mystery / Woman Sleuth / Romance
Publisher: Golden Tip Press
Date of Publication: February 2, 2021
Number of Pages: 266 pages
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Felicity Koerber has had a rough year. She’s moving back to Galveston Island and opening a bean to bar chocolate factory, fulfilling a dream she and her late husband, Kevin, had shared. Craft chocolate means a chance to travel the world, meeting with farmers and bringing back beans she can turn into little blocks of happiness, right close to home and family. She thinks trouble has walked into her carefully re-built world when puddle-jump pilot Logan Hanlon shows up at her grand opening to order custom chocolates. Then one of her employees drops dead at the party, and Felicity’s one-who-got-away ex-boyfriend – who’s now a cop – thinks Felicity is a suspect.
As the murder victim’s life becomes more and more of a mystery, Felicity realizes that if she’s going to clear her name in time to save her business, she might need Logan’s help. Though she’s not sure if she’s ready to let anyone into her life – even if it is to protect her from being the killer’s next victim. For Felicity, Galveston is all about history, and a love-hate relationship with the ocean, which keeps threatening to deliver another hurricane – right into the middle of her investigation. Can she figure it out before all the clues get washed away? FIRST IN A NEW SERIES!

PRAISE FOR GRAND OPENINGS CAN BE MURDER:

“With as many unpredictable twists and turns as the hurricane approaching Galveston, Grand Openings Can Be Murder is an intriguing cozy mystery set in a new chocolate shop along the island’s historic Strand. Readers will love learning about the bean-to-bar chocolate-making process while the store’s owner, Felicity, pursues truth, justice, and the perfect chocolate bar.”

— Diane Kelly, Award-winning author of the Death & Taxes, Paw Enforcement, House Flipper, and Busted mystery series.

CLICK TO PURCHASE!

Review

Grand Openings Can Be Murder by Amber Royer is a fun whodunnit written by an author who clearly did her research on Galveston, hurricanes, and (most importantly) chocolate. As a Houston native who regularly goes to the island, I really enjoyed walking the Strand and enjoying the historical buildings through Felicity’s eyes. 

It is difficult to put into words why Felicity quickly won my heart. Maybe it is because she is clearly talented, smart, and beautiful, yet is self deprecating and just a wonderfully kind human being. The little details that add up to this interesting person makes me believe that if she wasn’t based on Royer, she must be based on someone the author knows very well. There is an intimacy between the author and this character, and I found that to be the best part of this book.

I found the mystery exciting with little twists here and there, and the added danger of a looming hurricane definitely added an urgency that pushed the pace in a normally sleepy town. Although I figured out early on who the killer was, I just could not wrap my brain around the why. As Felicity works through the clues with her murder mystery book and TV show education (her admitting that was fantastic!), I enjoyed getting to know the other characters and their obvious love and respect for their small town.

I don’t know much about the people who live in Galveston, but this book gives me the impression that tourists visit and fall in love to the extent that they relocate. That Galveston natives might feel their need to spread their wings and move away at some point, but that there’s a likelihood that they will be back. Like birds who travel afar searching for better opportunities to flourish, the islanders find themselves migrating back home to the south when winter approaches. Royer gives us just the right amount of backstory about each of the characters to drive home this concept.

While there were a few typos here and there, Royer’s skill at crafting complex characters, a transportive setting, and thrilling scenes shines through brilliantly. She clearly saw each piece of this story in her mind and was able to translate it in a way that only good storytellers know how. I am excited to read the next installment of this series. I hope that each book will let us get to know more about Felicity’s friends and introduce us to places we have not yet discovered in Galveston.

Amber Royer writes the CHOCOVERSE comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the BEAN TO BAR MYSTERIES. She is also the author of STORY LIKE A JOURNALIST: A WORKBOOK FOR NOVELISTS, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She blogs about creative writing technique and all things chocolate at www.amberroyer.com. She also teaches creative writing for both UT Arlington Continuing Education and Writing Workshops Dallas. If you are very nice to her, she might make you cupcakes.
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2/14/21 Author Interview Rebecca R. Cahill, Author
2/15/21 Review Forgotten Winds
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2/17/21 Review The Page Unbound
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Blitz: The Cowyboy Who Saved Christmas by Jodi Thomas

The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas

by

Jodi Thomas,

Sharla Lovelace, and Scarlett Dunn

Genre: Romance / Adventure / Anthology
Publisher: Kensington Books
Date of Publication: October 27, 2020
Number of Pages: 336 pages
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The Lone Star State doesn’t have to be lonely during Christmas time!

Legendary author Jodi Thomas headlines a new holiday-themed Western historical romance collection featuring three Texas-set stories of romance and adventure.
The Civil War is over, Christmas is coming—and it’s time for three rugged cowboys to hang-up their spurs and settle down. These authors combine their talents and excel at creating atmosphere and complex characters which infuse these stories with Texas history and evoke the grandeur of a bygone era and the indomitable pioneer spirit of the region.
Prepare to be swept off your feet by these heroic cowboys who will stop at nothing to make sure this Christmas is one to remember. Ideal for gift giving, The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas will be the fan-favorite collection of romance for the 2020 Christmas season!

PRAISE FOR THE COWBOY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS:

“FATHER GOOSE is a warm, entertaining story, with Trapper and Emery starting with nothing, yet finding love and hoping for a future.” — Rose from Roses Are Blue

“It was a pitch-perfect reading experience that left my heart bursting with joy. This story has become an instant classic in my holiday reading canon.” — PJ Ausdenmore from The Romance Dish
“I love an anthology at this busy time of the year because I can read a complete story in a short time–this book hit the mark.”
Mary from Bookfan
CLICK TO PURCHASE

Jodi Thomas is a New York Times bestselling author and fifth-generation Texan who sets many of her award-winning stories in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A multi-RITA Award winner and member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame, she’s written over 50 novels with millions of copies in print. Her most recent releases are The Little Tea Shop on Main and the first book in her new Honey Creek series, Breakfast at the Honey Creek Café, which is out now.

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Review & Giveaway: The Love Note by Joanna Davidson Politano

THE LOVE NOTE
by
Joanna Davidson Politano
Genre: Christian / Historical Fiction / Romance
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Number of Pages: 400
 
 Scroll down for the giveaway!
 
 

Focused on a career in medicine and not on romance, Willa Duvall is thrown slightly off course during the summer of 1859 when she discovers a never-opened love letter in a crack of her old writing desk. Compelled to find the passionate soul who penned it and the person who never received it, she takes a job as a nurse at the seaside estate of Crestwicke Manor.

Everyone at Crestwicke has feelingsmostly negative onesabout the man who wrote the letter, but he seems to have disappeared. With plenty of enticing clues but few answers, Willa’s search becomes even more complicated when she misplaces the letter and it passes from person to person in the house, each finding a thrilling or disheartening message in its words.

Laced with mysteries large and small, this romantic Victorian-era tale of love lost, love deferred, and love found is sure to delight.

 
 
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Review

The Love Note by Joanna Davidson Politano is the second book that I have read from this authoress. Much like Lady Jayne Disappears, this book has a lovely cover with an even lovelier story inside. From these two books alone, I gather that Politano loves 19th century literature and she is fully immersed in the period and culture when she writes.

Politano’s wonderful turn of phrase and complex characters place her on the same shelf as beloved authors such as Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. No one is exactly as they seem, and the sequence of events, I believe, will both please and bewilder readers. Personally, I like a good balance of strong, independent women who allow themselves to be vulnerable at times, allowing men the chance to feel like knights in shining armor at pivotal moments.

While classified as a Christian novel, I felt like this book did not preach at you. Sure, there’s a Bible quote or two, but I almost attribute that more to the time period than the author pushing a religious agenda. So if you’re on the fence about this book because of the label, I hope that I have convinced you to pick it up anyway.

I don’t know about you, but the first comparison that came to mind when I read the blurb was the movie Letters to Juliet. If you’ve seen that movie and enjoyed it, I think you will love this book even more so. Why? Because Willa Duvall is a more interesting character and just has this strength about her that you can’t help but admire. Because Politano has woven two different stories together that deftly wrap themselves around you, making it difficult to put the book down. Because the level of secrecy and the stakes are so high in this book, it is a thrill and a relief to reach the summit and just take it all in.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the journey to self-discovery and the winding, confusing path to true love. I look forward to reading more by this author.

 
Joanna Davidson Politano is the award-winning author of Lady Jayne Disappears and A Rumored Fortune. She loves tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives and is eager to hear anyone’s story.
She lives with her husband and their two kids in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan. You can find her at www.jdpstories.com.
 
 
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10/27/20

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10/28/20

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10/29/20

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Days with Amanda

10/30/20

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10/30/20

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10/31/20

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the Ups and Downs

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11/2/20

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11/3/20

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Max Knight

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Review & Giveaway: The Kissing Tree by Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Amanda Dykes, and Nicole Deese

THE KISSING TREE
Four Novellas Rooted in Timeless Love

by KAREN WITEMEYER, REGINA JENNINGS, 

AMANDA DYKES, and NICOLE DEESE
 
Genre: Christian / Romance / Anthology
Publisher: Bethany House
Date of Publication: October 13, 2020
Number of Pages: 400
 

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In this Texas-sized romance novella collection, courting couples, decades apart, leave a permanent mark of their love by carving their initials into the same oak’s bark.

Regina Jennings: “Broken Limbs, Mended Hearts

When a young man from her past returns and upends their small town with a new invention, schoolteacher Bella Eden is reminded of the heartbreak she suffered years ago under the old oak tree. When her job is on the line, can she trust the man who disrupted her life to help her fight for a brighter future?

Karen Witemeyer: “Inn for a Surprise

Determined to keep love alive for others, Phoebe Woodward builds an inn that caters to couples. When her father sends a property manager to help make it a success, she finds her whimsical vision thwarted by his stodgy practicality. Finding the right blend of romance and reality is a challenge, and her spinster heart may be in for a surprise.

Amanda Dykes: “From Roots to Sky

WWII airman Luke Hampstead found comfort in letters from the sister of a lost compatriot. When he visits Texas to thank her, he discovers her constructing a project with surprising ties to his letters . . . and that she herself is even more surprising. While a promising opportunity awaits him elsewhere, will what they’ve shared be enough to give their future flight?

Nicole Deese: “Heartwood

Abby Brookshire’s world is turned upside down when the historic tree she’s strived to preserve as the head groundskeeper at the Kissing Tree Inn is put in danger of removal. Making matters worse, the only way to protect its legacy is to partner with the man she’s been ignoring since he left town years ago. Will she have the courage to move on from the past and start a new beginning?

I have read a few collections of love stories based in Texas before, but none of them hold a candle to the work in The Kissing Tree by Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Amanda Dykes, and Nicole Deese. While those other anthologies had a connection with each other because of the time period or place, The Kissing Tree is a truly unified piece that stretches across generations through the love for and longevity of a magnificent oak tree.

Jenning’s story – Broken Limbs, Mended Hearts – is a lesson in forgiveness and trust. Bethany House could not have picked a better author to voice the charm and innocence of romance in 1868. Although Bella Eden struck me as a little modern at times, she still possessed equal parts southern belle and pioneer woman, which are traits that I adore and respect very much. Of the four stories in this book, this one is a tie for my favorite because of the characters. Jennings created larger than life characters with fantastic obstacles, making it difficult to choose whose side to take. Even when the stakes are high, Jennings writes with a levity that assures you that true love will conquer all.

Witemeyer’s story – Inn for a Surprise – took me a while to get into. For reasons that I can’t explain, it took me a few chapters to take a shine to Phoebe and Barnabas. Maybe it was the obvious tension between the two characters that kept me from relaxing into the story. At any rate, when we start seeing the softer side of Phoebe and Barnabas finally drops his perfect façade, I really enjoyed the interaction between the two and how a competition made way to teamwork. Witemeyer’s description of the Kissing Tree Inn’s conception is a joy to read and provides a lovely backstory and backdrop for the stories that follow. And as a side note, I especially appreciated that the cover artist clearly took notes from this adorable story when designing the cover art.

Amanda Dykes’ story – From Roots to Sky – is my other favorite in this book. There is something about a relationship that grows between two people without them even realizing what has happened. I loved how a connection forged by love for Hannah’s brother (who is Luke’s best friend) defies tragedy and distance, and manifests itself beautifully. Like any good love story entangled in secrets, Dykes keeps us in suspense over why Luke can’t just tell Hannah why he really came to Oak Springs. Of the four stories, this one felt the most complete and could be fleshed out into a lovely movie that I would gladly watch.

Nicole Deese’s story – Heartwood – is the only one that doesn’t paint the heroine as an oddball spinster. There is no timestamp on this one, but I’m guessing that the story takes place in present day. So I guess it makes sense that even if Abby were 40 and single (I’m assuming she is not), there would be no stigma over being unmarried and childless. Again, Bethany House could not have picked a better author to voice the practical and modern story between two old lovers being reunited by conflict. In more ways than one, this story wraps up the other three very nicely as everything comes full circle. Intended or not, there are parallels between the first story and this one, and the symmetry of it is quite lovely.

I give kudos to the authors and editors for the amazing job of tying these stories together. It gave me a little thrill every time I realized the connections between each story. The Kissing Tree really is a fantastic book comprised of four exceptional romance novellas.

Voted
#1 Reader’s Favorite Christian Romance Author of 2019 by Family Fiction
Magazine
, bestselling author  Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines,
and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. She makes her home in Abilene, Texas, with her
husband and three children.

 
Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma
Baptist University, with a degree in English and a minor in history. She’s the
winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist, and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. Regina has worked at
the Mustang News and at First Baptist Church of Mustang, along
with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She
lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children.
 
Amanda Dykes is a drinker of tea, dweller of redemption, and spinner of hope-filled tales who spends most days chasing wonder and words with her family. She’s a former English teacher and the author of Whose Waves These Are, a Booklist 2019 Top Ten Romance debut, as well as three novellas.
 
Nicole Deese’s eight humorous, heartfelt, and hope-filled novels include the 2017 Carol Award-winning A Season to Love. Her 2018 release, A New Shade of Summer, was a finalist in the RITA Awards, Carol Awards, and INSPY Awards. Both of these books are from her bestselling Love in Lenox series. When she’s not working on her next contemporary romance, she can usually be found reading one by a window overlooking the inspiring beauty of the Pacific Northwest. She lives in small-town Idaho with her happily-ever-after hubby, two rambunctious sons, and princess daughter with the heart of a warrior.
 
 
 
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Review & Giveaway: The Secret of You and Me by Melissa Lenhardt

THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME
by
MELISSA LENHARDT
Genre: Women’s Fiction / Romance 
Publisher:  Graydon House (Harlequin)
Date of Publication: August 4, 2020

Number of Pages: 352Scroll down for the giveaway!

True love never fades—and old secrets never die . . . 

Nora hasn’t looked back. Not since she fled Texas to start a new life. Away from her father’s volatile temper and the ever-watchful gaze of her claustrophobically conservative small town, Nora has freed herself. She can live—and love—however she wants. The only problem is that she also left behind the one woman she can’t forget. Now tragedy calls her back home to confront her past—and reconcile her future.

Sophie seems to have everything—a wonderful daughter, a successful husband, and a rewarding career. Yet underneath that perfection lies an explosive secret. She still yearns for Nora—her best friend and first love—despite all the years between them. Keeping her true self hidden hasn’t been easy, but it’s been necessary. So when Sophie finds out that Nora has returned, she hopes Nora’s stay is short. The life she has built depends on it.

But they both find that first love doesn’t fade easily. Memories come to light, passion ignites, and old feelings resurface. As the forces of family and intolerance that once tore them apart begin to reemerge, they realize some things may never change—unless they demand it.

PRAISE FOR THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME:

“A compelling story of second chances and being true to yourself.”
Harper Bliss, bestselling author of Seasons of Love


“Lenhardt convinces in her portrayal of the conflict between desire and control.” —Publishers Weekly
CLICK TO PURCHASE
(Personalized/signed copies available through Interabang)

A portion of royalties are going to the It Gets Better Project
(Click for more details.)

Review

The Secret of You and Me by Meslissa Lenhardt has been described by the author herself as a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I read Persuasion years ago and had to read a synopsis to refresh my memory. My takeaway? I saw some parallels, but Lenhardt’s story felt more tragic to me.

Persuasion was aptly named because that was the method used to rip Anne away from the man she planned to marry. If The Secret of You and Me was renamed to a single word description of how Sophie and Nora were separated, it would be something brutal like Slander or Intimidate. Living my whole life in Texas as part of a deeply religious Asian family, I could relate to the “my way or the highway” parenting that left relationships and confidences in shambles. There are moments that I look back and wonder how things would be different if I had been braver. But seeing the choices that Nora and Sophie made and how their lives panned out showed me that there are different ways of being brave. There also seems to be very a thin line between being perceived as a martyr (in the overdramatic sense, not the literal) and being selfish. Nonetheless, this book left me with this: Life is the series of choices we make and it is never too late to make new ones as long as we are still alive.

While the perspective shifts between Nora and Sophie, I got the distinct feeling that Nora was the main character. Reading the author’s acknowledgements at the end seemed to verify that for me. However, I never felt like I truly knew Nora. And I don’t know if it’s because we don’t get as much detail about what her life has been like the past 18 years. With Sophie, you meet the people she’s been around who have influenced her decisions – namely her mother, her husband, and her daughter. We meet the important people in Nora’s life, but the secrecy and the walls that are up are denser than those in Sophie’s circle. Because of that difference, I felt more for Sophie and was firmly in her corner as the two sparred for the upper hand in their relationship.

Lenhardt’s characterizations were a nice mix of qualities that are common in other books or movies, but different enough that I had several different actors in mind for each role while the story played out like a movie in my head. It is the multifaceted characters like Sophie and Charlie in particular that would be interesting to cast because of the changes in their character (or at least our perception of them) that occurs in the story. I think that their daughter, Logan, is also a very interesting person and I would enjoy seeing her character on the big screen.

While definitely a love story, this book was not the typical romance novel for me. Most romances are light and fluffy, like a yeast donut, while this one was like a mochi donut. Not cloyingly sweet, but super dense and much to chew on. What would you give up to be with your soul mate? Don’t wax poetic. Literally list everything and everyone that means anything to you, and then ask yourself if you could give that all up. That is how deep and heavy this book is.

Melissa Lenhardt is a women’s fiction, mystery, and historical fiction author. Her debut mystery, Stillwater, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and Sawbones, her historical-fiction debut, was hailed as a “thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new sub-genre: the feminist Western” by Lone Star Literary Life. The New York Times called her sixth novel, Heresy, “An all-out women-driven, queer, transgender, multiracial takeover of the Old West.” The Secret of You and Me, her seventh novel and her first contemporary women’s fiction novel, was published on August 4, 2020.

When Melissa isn’t writing, she’s thinking, “I really should be writing,” and eating Nutella or peanut butter straight out of the jar. A lifelong Texan, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband, two sons, and two Golden Retrievers.

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Review & Giveaway: Sitting on a Fortune by Becki Willis

SITTING ON A FORTUNE

The Sisters, Texas Book 9 
by
BECKI WILLIS
Genre: Cozy Mystery / Romance / Women Sleuths
Publisher: Clear Creek Publishing
Date of Publication: February 11, 2020
Number of Pages: 228

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Hidden fortune. Hidden danger. Madison Reynolds deCordova is about to uncover a dangerous secret…literally.

During In a Pinch Professional Services’s latest gig at an upholstery shop, Madison finds a chair that’s perfect for her husband’s birthday gift. At least it will be, once she removes the worn velvet. Hiding the chair at Granny Bert’s, Madison tackles her first solo upholstery project but soon discovers more than she bargained for! A hidden treasure beneath the cushion puts her in the middle of a new mystery and new danger.

The treasure isn’t her only problem. While helping a young boy find his lost dog, Madison lands on the wrong side of surly businessman Lamont Andrews. Meanwhile, best friend Genny is worried about one of her café patrons. Mr. Pruett’s wild stories are getting wilder each day, and now he’s missing. Plus, there’s the matter of a troublesome new habit Maddy seems to have acquired: breaking and entering. It’s a harsh term for simply trying to rescue a dog and save an old man.

Somehow, she knows it all fits together. But what does a lost dog, a cluttered old barn, Mr. Pruett’s disappearance, and a hidden treasure have to do with her chair? Now someone is stalking her and her grandmother, and Madison knows that danger is on its way.

As always, The Sisters are full of fun, excitement, family antics, and more danger than the law allows!

I get a little nervous when I’m reviewing a book that is part of series that I haven’t kept up with. I worry that I will be too focused on the minutiae that are explained in earlier books. Well, I worried for nothing because Sitting on a Fortune by Becki Willis grabbed my attention and did not let up for one second. Willis must be the mistress of narrative exposition because not only did she give the right amount of backstory for people and events that I should know about already, but each occurrence made me more and more excited about reading books 1-8 as well.

I enjoy Willis’ style of mystery writing because she doesn’t throw red herrings left and right, but she also doesn’t hit you over the head with the relevant clues either. The only thing that made me pause for a moment was her choice to have Madison speak her thoughts aloud so often. It almost felt like it was used solely as a device to have our protagonist caught out on several occasions. Although to be fair, when I’m psyching myself up to do something or have trouble processing something in my head, I have a tendency to talk to myself too.

Something about small towns where silly old rivalries run rampant and everyone knows everybody else’s business make for great reading. The interaction between Madison and Monte played out like a moving Normal Rockwell painting, while the bustle at Genny’s cafe had me picturing a cuter version of Luke’s Diner from Gilmore Girls. I would give anything to see a picture of Madison’s three-story mansion and the blueprints (especially for all the secret additions). Even more than the idea of living in an old mansion, I am enamored with the thought of living across the street from an old library.

In addition to knowing more about their community, I am excited to read the previous books so that I can soak up all the lovely backstories and Madison’s meet cute with her husband. If not for Willis sharing little tidbits about the early challenges of blending their families, you wouldn’t have guessed that this more modern and smaller version of the Brady Bunch faced any obstacles at all. Although, I get a little bit of a vibe just short of a ’50s husband flavor when Madison’s police chief husband shows disapproval at the thought of her pursuing her private investigator license. I would have liked a little more exposition on that business. Is Brash just worried about her safety or is he worried a little bit that she will get in the way of his job? Again, I must read books 1-8!

A nice little touch would have been to have a sample page of Juliet’s journal at the very end of the book. Perhaps something that could tease the reader for the next installment in the series. Overall, I am very much in love with this cozy mystery. I never thought about what the “cozy” part meant but I feel like this book embodied it perfectly. (I now take cozy to mean no crass, sexy stuff or gratuitous gore.) So I can highly recommend this series to anyone who likes a good mystery that leaves you feeling lighter once you’ve finished it.

Becki 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 Women’s Detective Fiction and Best Audio Book, won the 2018 RONE Award for Paranormal Fiction, 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.

 
Connect with Becki below. She loves to hear from readers and encourages feedback!

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Review & Giveaway: Bonnie and Clyde: Radioactive by Hays & McFall

RADIOACTIVE
Bonnie and Clyde #3
by
CLARK HAYS AND KATHLEEN McFALL
Genre: Historical / Alternative History / Romance 
Publisher:  Pumpjack Press on Facebook
Date of Publication: March 23, 2019
Number of Pages: 332Scroll down for the giveaway!

Bonnie and Clyde: Defending the working class from a river of greed.

It’s January 1945, the height of World War Two. As the bloody conflict drags on, America has undertaken a massive top-secret effort to unleash the power of the atom and develop the first nuclear bomb. A network of Nazi and Soviet spies is determined to steal the technology, or failing that, sabotage the project. 


But first, they have to get past Bonnie and Clyde.
In a heart-pounding adventure spanning the windswept landscapes of eastern Washington to an isolated internment camp in the California mountains, Bonnie and Clyde face deception at every turn.Can the former outlaws put aside their desire for revenge long enough to help end the war?

As in Resurrection Road and Dam Nation, the story cuts back and forth between 1984 where Royce, a washed-up investigative reporter, teams up with the now-elderly Bonnie Parker to hunt down the truth about their past, and the 1940s undercover exploits of the young Bonnie and Clyde.

And in Radioactive, Royce and Bonnie finally discover the devastating truth: Who Sal — the brains behind forcing Bonnie and Clyde into covert service defending the working class all those years ago — really was.

 

After the exhilarating ride in the last book, Dam Nation, I was anxious to get my hands on this third and final book of the Bonnie & Clyde saga. Fifteen years have lapsed since the original ride or die couple was working the Hoover Dam assignment, but we pick up where we left off with Bonnie and Royce the journalist, sometime in the ‘80s.

Time hasn’t taken anything away from Bonnie and Clyde. Their smarts and toughness haven’t dulled after over a decade of living covertly, and their passion for each other still burns at a hot and heavy roar. As I read their banter and became reacquainted with the couple, it got me thinking that this fictionalized relationship is probably based quite a bit on the stuff that powers the couple who wrote this series. I don’t know how they split their writing duties, but Hays and McFall write a seamless story. Hell, I’ve read books written by ONE author that felt like crashing into a brick wall every time the perspective changed. But this writing duo jumps decades as smoothly as Bonnie and Clyde lie their way out of sticky situations.

I remember raving about all the different characters in the last book, and Radioactive delivers USA Network-worthy (“Characters Welcome”) cast. Not to be sexist, but I especially loved Anna. I don’t want to spoil anything but seriously, it felt like Bonnie might have met her match. A young, attractive woman with a knack for manipulation who can give our duo the slip? It was enough to make me nervous for Bonnie a few times, both as an operative and as a woman.

I really marvel at how much description, story, and character development are compiled in just a 332-page book. This story is screen-ready, as are the other two in the series. If you haven’t already read them, you need to. I know that this is supposed to be the last book, but there was a little something near the end that made me think it was possible to still sneak a few more books in if Hays and McFall find it difficult to part ways with Bonnie and Clyde for good.

Clark and Kathleen wrote their first book together in 1999 as a test for marriage. They passed. 
Radioactive is their seventh co-authored book. 
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Review & Giveaway: A Tender Hope by Amanda Cabot

A TENDER HOPE
The Cimarron Creek Trilogy, Book 3
by
Amanda Cabot
Genre: Historical Romance / Inspirational
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 5, 2019
Number of Pages: 352

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As far as Thea Michener is concerned, it’s time for a change. With her husband murdered and her much-anticipated baby stillborn, there is nothing left for her in Ladreville. Having accepted a position as Cimarron Creek’s midwife, she has no intention of remarrying and trying for another child. So when a handsome Texas Ranger appears on her doorstep with an abandoned baby, Thea isn’t sure her heart Can take it.


Ranger Jackson Guthrie isn’t concerned only with the baby’s welfare. He’s been looking for Thea, convinced that her late husband was part of the gang that killed his brother. But it soon becomes clear that the situation is far more complicated than he anticipated–and he’ll need Thea’s help if he’s ever to find the justice he seeks.
Amanda Cabot invites readers back to Cimarron Creek for a tender story of loss, betrayal, and love in the majestic Texas Hill Country.



PRAISE FOR A TENDER HOPE:

“Such beautiful words flow from Amanda Cabot’s pen–words that lead characters from tattered situations to fresh beginnings and culminate in tender story endings that make a reader sigh in satisfaction. I’ve never been disappointed by a Cabot tale.” — Kim Vogel Sawyer, bestselling author of Bringing Maggie Home
 
 
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review

I begged to have the opportunity to review A Tender Hope because I loved the first two of the Cimarron Creek Trilogy. I couldn’t imagine falling in literary love again after meeting the dreamy sheriff in A Stolen Heart, but the kind doctor in A Borrowed Dream made me sigh as well. And how could anyone figure out who to settle down with when there are so many lovely ladies residing in or moving to the small town? Well, hold on to your horses because we have not just one, but TWO, lovely ladies coming to Cimarron.

In true Cabot fashion, our authoress does not so much as hint if Thea or Aimee is more attractive, so you can count on love connection miscommunication. There is also the series’ common theme of the main romantic pairing disliking or mistrusting each other for reasons not yet known. And if I’m not mistaken, the reasons are usually unfounded. While that might sound dangerously formulaic, Cabot breathes so much life into her characters that it is impossible to feel anything outside of intrigued or delighted when reading her books.

Each book has a mystery or problem to be solved and this one was the most difficult for me to solve correctly. Every reveal made me pause and wonder how I hadn’t even thought of it as a possibility.

If you have had the pleasure of reading the first two books, you will rejoice at being reunited with Lydia and Travis. While their supporting roles are often served offstage (or maybe off-page?), they are much more present than Catherine and Austin, who are in Paris for most of the book. Ah, speaking of Paris, the city was mentioned in a previous book. And now that I think of it, many threads from the previous books were woven into this final book and firmly knotted at the end.

I’m sad to see this series come to an end. There are so many interesting minor characters, the children especially, that I would have loved to see fully fleshed out. If this is the only Cimarron book you have read, I wholeheartedly recommend that you go back and read the first two.

 

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Cimarron Creek trilogy, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming.
 

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