Sunday, July 29, 2018

Spotlight/Giveaway: Last Dance in Kabul by Ken Czech

Last Dance in Kabul by Ken Czech

Publication Date: August 2, 2018
Fireship Press
Paperback & eBook; 306 Pages
Genre: Action & Adventure/Historical/Romance/War & Military

The Ultimate Dance Between Love and War When his superiors ignore his warnings of an impending Afghan insurrection in 1841, British army captain Reeve Waterton vows never to return to Kabul. But then he rescues strong-willed Sarah Kane from an ambush and his plans for civilian life and self-preservation unravel around him. At first Reeve dislikes Sarah as much as she loathes him. She's as impudent and disdainful of authority as he, plus she's betrothed to his bitterest rival.

It's only after Reeve's closest friend is brutally murdered and the Afghan tribes explode in revolt that he and Sarah discover their desperate need for each other. When the retreating British army is caught between the jaws of Afghanistan's blizzard-wracked mountain passes and hordes of vengeful tribesmen, Sarah and Reeve must rely on their skills, courage, and blossoming love just to survive.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Praise for Last Dance in Kabul

“Reeve Waterton, a dashing rogue, is a true hero who stands among the most valiant officers of British fiction. Sarah Kane is an assertive woman assured of her own mind yet vulnerable in her heart. Together they spark the blaze that energizes Last Dance in Kabul.” —Rex Griffin, historical writer

“You won't find two more compelling characters than Reeve Waterton and Sarah Kane. I love them. I rooted for them to survive and work things out from the third chapter until the exciting conclusion. Their story was so expertly woven between survival and romance that I found it difficult to pull myself away from it.” —Ray Simmons, for Reader's Favorite

 “Last Dance in Kabul is a war story; a story of life and death; a story of love and hate, and it is a very good read. I was pulled back to 1841 and dropped in the middle of the Afghan insurrection.” –Trudi LoPreto for Reader's Favorite

 “[The] character development is impeccable and the conflict gives the story its powerful depth and emotional intensity. Last Dance in Kabul is a captivating, well-plotted and beautifully paced novel.” —Christian Sia, for Reader's Favorite

About the Author

Dr. Ken Czech is a retired history professor and an internationally recognized authority on the historical literature of exploration and sport. His passion, however, has turned to writing fiction. He and his wife Mary live in Central Minnesota on an abandoned granite quarry. For more information, please visit Ken’s website. You can also find him on FacebookAmazon and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of Last Dance in Kabul! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

  Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 31st.
 – Giveaway is open to US residents only.
 Last Dance in Kabul
click on banner for more stops on this tour

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Audio Review: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family business; the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, these two estranged sisters will find themselves together again, standing alongside their disapproving mother, Anya, who even now offers no comfort to her daughters. On his deathbed, their father extracts a promise: Anya will tell her daughters a story; it is one she began years ago and never finished. This time she will tell it all the way to the end.

The tale their mother tells them is unlike anything they’ve heard before—a captivating, mysterious love story that spans more than sixty years and moves from frozen, war-torn Leningrad to modern-day Alaska. Nina’s obsession to uncover the truth will send them all on an unexpected journey into their mother’s past, where they will discover a secret so shocking, it shakes the foundation of their family and changes who they believe they are.

Mesmerizing from beginning to end, Winter Garden is that rarest of novels — at once an epic love story and an intimate portrait of women poised at the crossroads of their lives. Evocative, lyrically written, and ultimately uplifting, it will haunt the listener long after the last word is spoken.

Audible Audio, Unabridged
 Published January 14th 2010
by Brilliance Audio
 14 hours, 43 minutes

Peer pressure drove me to the Winter Garden. With so many raving about The Nightingale and The Great Alone, readers were also saying great things about this book. It must have been an audible special at one time and has been sitting patiently waiting in my library. I didn’t read the blurb just jumped in blind.

I didn’t know what to expect and as the story progressed I heard a hard time putting it down. The fairy tale aspect was a unique idea, even though I kinda sensed the direction where that was going.  With the POV's from 2 sisters and the fairy tale Winter Garden is a book of secrets, forgiveness and healing.  It's a part of Russian history I am unfamiliar with, showing with vivid descriptions what the citizens of Leningrad endured.

Whether I would have enjoyed this as much if I read (verses audio) it, it's a story that will stay with me.  Kristin Hannah has cemented herself into my 'read new book upon release' author.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Review: Beyond the Orchard by Anna Romer

A haunting story of yearning, love and betrayal from the bestselling author of Thornwood House

 Lucy Briar has arrived home in turmoil after years overseas. She’s met her fiancĂ© in London and has her life mapped out, but something is holding her back.

 Hoping to ground herself and find answers, Lucy settles into once familiar routines. But old tortured feelings flood Lucy’s existence when her beloved father, Ron, is hospitalised and Morgan – the man who drove her away all those years ago – seeks her out. Worse, Ron implores Lucy to visit Bitterwood Estate, the crumbling historic family guesthouse now left to him. He needs Lucy to find something– an old photograph album, the very thing that drove Ron and his father apart.

 Lucy has her own painful memories of Bitterwood, darkness that has plagued her dreams since she was young. But as Lucy searches for the album, the house begins to give up its ghosts and she is driven to put them to rest.

 And there, held tightly between the house, the orchard and the soaring cliffs, Lucy uncovers a long-hidden secret that shattered a family’s bond and kept a frightened young girl in its thrall ... and Lucy discovers just how fierce the lonely heart can be.

 Paperback, 464 pages
Published November 1st 2016
 by Simon & Schuster

 I always cringe when an author is compared to Kate Morton, those are mighty fine boots to fill and to me it’s just a setup for disappointment. That being said Australian author Anna Romer did not disappoint, this is her third book and I've loved the previous two, The Thornwood House and Lyrebird Hill.

Beyond the Orchard is a dual time period book, with an Australian setting - one of my favourite places (and on my bucket list). With an old house set high on a cliff there is a mysterious ice house that sets the tone, the opening chapter was enough to suck me right in.

Weaving back and forth in time, from the 1930’s and current day, the different characters come to life. There are a number of characters and many layers here but they all work well together with no problem keep track of the story. If anything I was so engrossed that I didn’t realize this until I started writing this up.

Beyond the Orchard is a story of guilt, hidden secrets and family dynamics. It had that Gothic and fairy tale feel that I love. The story unfolded at a great pace it kept me captivated and curious with its twists and turns.

Definitely one of my favourite authors that I discovered when searching Australian settings.

Beyond the Orchard is from my personal library (hard to find in Canada but audible has Anna Romer in audio format) and part of my ‘reading my shelf challenge’

click on cover to take you to may review

Friday, July 20, 2018

Audio Review: The Daughters of Ireland (Deverill Chronicles #2) by Santa Montefiore

International sensation Santa Montefiore presents the second book in her romantic and unforgettable Deverill Chronicles trilogy, which follows three Irish women through the decades of the twentieth century—perfect for fans of Beatriz Williams and Kate Morton.

 Perched majestically atop the lush emerald hills of West Cork, Ireland, Castle Deverill has been the home to several generations of the Deverills. But when the castle fell prey to a devastating attack during the Irish revolt, the ancestral home’s survival was at stake—until Celia Mayberry and her husband buy the estate and vow to restore Castle Deverill to its former glory. For Celia, the castle holds many fond childhood memories when she ran through its vast halls with her cousin Kitty Deverill and their cherished friend Bridie Doyle.

 But not everyone is elated. Although Kitty is grateful to her cousin for purchasing the manor and ensuring it will remain in the family, she cannot help but be wistful for the days when she was the mistress of Castle Deverill. While she is content in her new life with her husband Robert and her adopted son JP, her heart still yearns for Jack O’Leary—the man she cannot have. As Kitty struggles with her choices, she must make a heartbreaking decision that could bring her the greatest joy, but hurt those closest to her.

 Now wealthy and the toast of the town in New York City, Bridie Doyle has come a long way since she was a young girl in Ireland and the daughter of one of the maids at Castle Deverill. But all her money cannot ease the pain over giving away her baby. When she finds love, she is tempted to return to her beloved homeland—even if it means she will have to face the woman she still longs to seek revenge against.

 As Celia wastes no time, or expense, in hiring workers to renovate Castle Deverill—even when the country soon finds itself in the midst of the Great Depression—she has no idea that her world is about to be shattered. Now everything that felt so certain is cast into doubt as this daughter of Ireland must find the inner strength to build a new future.

 “Nobody does epic romance like Santa Montefiore. Everything she writes, she writes from the heart.”—Jojo Moyes, New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

 Audio Published August 15th 2017
 by HarperCollins (first published July 14th 2016)

Book 2 in Santa Montefiore’s Deverill Chronicles Series, this book is also known as Daughters of Castle Deverill.

I loved Songs of Love and War (The Girl in the Castle) and while it had a fitting conclusion there was enough hanging to make me jump right into this one. It picks up right where Songs left off.

Following the lives of Kitty, Bridie and Celia from Ireland, New York City and into Africa, where the past is set to collide with the present. They must be courageous, daring and find their own way.

As author Jojo Moyes states ‘nobody does epic romance like Santa Montifore. Everything she writes, she writes from the heart.” It’s so true, not being a fan of the romance genre she writes multi layered historical stories with a wide cast of characters that aren’t confusing to follow. The plots (yes more than one) are intricate and draws me right in.

Definitely a series I am anxious to continue with and an author that has ranked up there in my ‘must read’ pile.

click on cover to take you to my review

Though the publisher was gracious enough to send me an ARC (via Netgalley) due to personal issues I went the audio route via Audible.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Audio Review: Phoebe's Light (Nantucket Legacy #1) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Phoebe Starbuck has always adjusted her sails and rudder to the whims of her father. Now, for the first time, she's doing what she wants to do: marrying Captain Phineas Foulger and sailing far away from Nantucket. As she leaves on her grand adventure, her father gives her two gifts, both of which Phoebe sees little need for. The first is an old sheepskin journal from Great Mary, her highly revered great-grandmother. The other is a "minder" on the whaling ship in the form of cooper Matthew Mitchell, a man whom she loathes.

Soon Phoebe discovers that life at sea is no easier than life on land. Lonely, seasick, and disillusioned, she turns the pages of Great Mary's journal and finds herself drawn into the life of this noble woman. To Phoebe's shock, her great-grandmother has left a secret behind that carries repercussions for everyone aboard the ship, especially her husband the captain and her shadow the cooper. This story within a story catapults Phoebe into seeing her life in an entirely new way--just in time.

In this brand-new series, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher brings her signature twists and turns to bear on a fascinating new faith community: the Quakers of colonial-era Nantucket Island.

Paperback, 345 pages
Published February 6th 2018
by Fleming H. Revell Company
Length: 9 hrs and 56 mins
Unabridged Audiobook

This is the first book in Suzanne Woods Fisher’s new Nantucket Legacy Series. This author had me with her Amish Beginnings Series, it’s rich detail, flawed and realistic characters plus an interesting story line kept my attention for all 3 books. Hence my eagerness to begin this one.

Again I was not disappointed. Phoebe Starbucks is a likable character living in a time when women were at the mercy of men around her. She takes control of her life (trying to help her father), and is lead on an adventure over land and sea.

It’s Phoebe’s ancestor, Great Mary's diary that rounds out the story nicely. With rich details of living in a time where surviving was what one woke up to every day. I love reading about the early settlers, those working the land with its many obstacles.

Phoebe’s Light is a story of forgiveness, survival and finding one’s Light. A great start to new series with book 2, Minding the Light hitting the bookshelves a few weeks ago (how did I miss that!)

Thank you to the publisher via Netgalley for an advance copy, due to personal issues I went the audio route on this on and it was as great!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Spotlight/Giveaway: The Romanov Empress by C.W. Gortner

Originally I was to post my review of C.W. Gortner's new book, but unfortunately life has gotten in the way.  So instead here is a spotlight and giveaway.

Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Ballantine Books
Hardcover; 448 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Even from behind the throne, a woman can rule.

 Narrated by the mother of Russia’s last tsar, this vivid, historically authentic novel brings to life the courageous story of Maria Feodorovna, one of Imperial Russia’s most compelling women, who witnessed the splendor and tragic downfall of the Romanovs as she fought to save her dynasty in the final years of its long reign.

 Barely nineteen, Minnie knows that her station in life as a Danish princess is to leave her family and enter into a royal marriage—as her older sister Alix has done, moving to England to wed Queen Victoria’s eldest son. The winds of fortune bring Minnie to Russia, where she marries the Romanov heir and becomes empress once he ascends the throne. When resistance to her husband’s reign strikes at the heart of her family and the tsar sets out to crush all who oppose him, Minnie—now called Maria—must tread a perilous path of compromise in a country she has come to love.

 Her husband’s death leaves their son Nicholas II as the inexperienced ruler of a deeply divided and crumbling empire. Determined to guide him to reforms that will bring Russia into the modern age, Maria faces implacable opposition from Nicholas’s strong-willed wife, Alexandra, whose fervor has lead her into a disturbing relationship with a mystic named Rasputin. As the unstoppable wave of revolution rises anew to engulf Russia, Maria will face her most dangerous challenge and her greatest heartache.

 From the opulent palaces of St. Petersburg and the intrigue-laced salons of the aristocracy to the World War I battlefields and the bloodied countryside occupied by the Bolsheviks, C. W. Gortner sweeps us into the anarchic fall of an empire and the complex, bold heart of the woman who tried to save it.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Praise for The Romanov Empress

"Gortner’s mesmerizing historical novel (following The Vatican Princess) depicts the remarkable life of the mother of the last Russian tsar. This insightful first-person account of the downfall of the Romanov rule will appeal to history buffs; at its core, it’s the powerful story of a mother trying to save her family and an aristocrat fighting to maintain rule in a country of rebellion, giving it an even broader appeal." —Publishers Weekly

 “A sweeping saga that takes us from the opulence and glamor of Tsarist Russia to the violent, tragic last days of the Romanovs. C. W. Gortner breaks new ground here, skillfully painting an intimate, compelling portrait of this fascinating empress and her family.” —Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America’s First Daughter

 “The Romanov Empress has all the glitter and mystery of a Faberge egg, the outer decadence and beauty of Imperial Russia unfolding to reveal the mysteries and horrors within. The waning days of a doomed dynasty are recounted by the vivacious but tough Danish princess who would become one of Russia's most revered tsarinas, only to see her line end in war and revolution. Gortner pens a beautiful tribute to a lost world, weaving a tale sumptuous as a Russian sable.” —Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

“A vivid, engaging tale of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, the mother of Russia's last Tsar, her loves and her heartbreaks, bringing the troubled final decades of the Russian Empire to life.” —Eva Stachniak, author of The Winter Palace

About the Author

C. W. Gortner holds an MFA in writing, with an emphasis on historical studies, from the New College of California. He is the internationally acclaimed and bestselling author of Mademoiselle Chanel, The Queen’s Vow, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, The Last Queen, The Vatican Princess, and Marlene, among other books. He divides his time between Northern California and Antigua, Guatemala.

 To learn more about his work and to schedule a book group chat with him, please visit his website.

You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 10
Review & Interview at Clarissa Reads it All
Feature at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, July 11
Review at Just One More Chapter
Thursday, July 12
Review at A Bookish Affair
Friday, July 13
Feature at Bookfever
Monday, July 16
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Tuesday, July 17
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Wednesday, July 18
Review at Creating Herstory
Feature at So Many Books, So Little Time
Thursday, July 19
Review at The Lit Bitch
Friday, July 20
Review at Bri's Book Nook
Monday, July 23
Review at Books and Glamour
Tuesday, July 24
Review at Dressed to Read
Wednesday, July 25
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Thursday, July 26
Review at Donna's Book Blog
Friday, July 27
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit
Monday, July 30
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, July 31
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, August 1
Feature at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, August 2
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Friday, August 3
Review at Broken Teepee
Monday, August 6
Review at A Book Geek
Tuesday, August 7
Review at What Cathy Read Next
Thursday, August 9
Review at Caryn, the Book Whisperer
Friday, August 10
Review at Two Gals and a Book


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a copy of The Romanov Empress to one lucky reader! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US residents only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. Romanov Empress

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Excerpt: The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg

Today I am happy to share an excerpt from The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg (clicking on title will take you to my review)

 Beauty ranCh, Glen ellen, California SeptemBer 1915

For her I accomplished Odysseys, scaled mountains, crossed deserts; for her I led the hunt and was forward in battle; and for her and to her I sang my songs of the things I had done. All ecstasies of life and rhapsodies of delight have been mine because of her. And here, at the end, I can say that I have known no sweeter, deeper madness of being than to drown in the fragrant glory and forgetfulness of her hair.
                                                —Jack London, The Star Rover

 Nothing breathes vigor into a marriage like a boxing match. And it helps to have a stupefied audience to witness the fight. If I can get Jack boxing this morning, with his drinking buddies cheering him on, he’ll be revved up for a good writing session followed by a “grand lolly” that will linger in our loins for days. So I pull on muslin bloomers and leather boxing boots from my wardrobe, twist my hair into a topknot, daub on lavender oil for luck. Our fox terrier raises his head from my bed, ears perked. I stroke his chest and lift him down, his little heart beating in my palm. “Come on, Possum, he can’t say no to you.”

 Slinging boy-sized boxing gloves over my neck, I cross the hallway to Jack’s own sleeping porch, where he sleeps it off after our houseguests plied him with martinis at the Glen Ellen saloon until the wee hours. Possum romps at my heels. Jack still reeks of gin, and his snoring drowns out the jeering blue jays.

“Rise and shine.” I whisk off the plaid blanket, exposing fine muscled legs in red flannel shorts.

Jack’s not moving. So I lift Possum up and let him lick Jack’s face. “Time for our match.”

“Charmian, no. It can’t be morning.” He pulls a feather pillow over his head, and Possum nuzzles underneath.

 “Oh, but it is.” I throw the pillow to the floor, and Possum laps at his cheeks.

 “And a deal is a deal.” Jack groans and lifts up onto one elbow, holding the dog off with his other hand. “I can’t do this after last night.”

 “You can. I know you can.” I take Possum in my arms. Jack’s valet, Nakata, enters with a cup of coffee balanced on his upturned palm, dressed as usual in a haori jacket and skirted trousers. “Kishi kaisei, Mr. Jack.”

Jack sits up and takes the coffee. “My head’s too fuzzy for Japanese this morning.”

 Nakata smiles with teeth straight as piano keys. “Wake from death and return to life.”

Jack grimaces. “That supposed to make me feel better?” Nakata bows and leaves, Possum following him for breakfast. The Socialists criticize Jack for employing servants, but Nakata is essential to his well-being. He starts Jack’s day with platitudes and strong coffee, grants his wildest wishes, manages our household staff so we can focus on writing, and, in the evening, prepares Jack’s cot with philosophy books and farming journals, small and large writing pads, sharpened pencils, and a thermos of martinis (equal splashes of vermouth and olive juice). Together, Nakata and I handle Jack’s needs, and I pray he will never leave us.

I lace on Jack’s boxing boots while he slurps his coffee, his ankles swollen. Drinking always kicks up his gout. “I was kidding about the boxing,” he says. “A joke for the Crowd . . .” His nickname for the Bohemian-Socialist-literary folks who worship at his feet. Come to think of it, that’s exactly where I happen to be at the moment.

 “Oh no. You’re not getting away with it this time.” I knot his laces tighter. “‘Bring me the boxing gloves if I’m not up by eight,’ you said.

 ‘Best thing in the world for a hangover,’ you said. ‘We’ll do the drop-and-grind drill,’ you said.” Jack smirks. “I love it when you talk dirty.”

 “Come on, champ. Let’s give it a go. Our audience awaits.” I hoist his arm over my shoulders, staggering under the weight he’s gained of late.

He limps to the back door.

Nakata and some of the staff have gathered to watch on the back stoop between our separate sleeping porches, Jack’s remedy for my chronic insomnia and his late hours.

 In an apron and calico dress, Jack’s sister, Eliza, washes the windowpanes, doughy underarm flesh swinging with each swipe of her dish towel. “Boxing is no good for Jack.” She clucks her tongue at me. “Just brings out the poison in his system all over again.”

 “Better out than in,” I answer. Lawrence Godfrey-Smith, the Australian concert pianist turned eucalyptus broker, and George Sterling, poet king of the Bohemians, follow us out to the porch with coffee mugs.

“What’s all the ballyhoo?” Lawrence nudges me in the overfamiliar way he’s adopted since that time on the beach in Australia . . .

 I step down to the garden. “Don’t you remember Jack’s promise when you stumbled in last night? He wanted to box this morning to get his blood flowing for writing.”

“Who’s he going to wallop?”

I thrust up my gloved hand. “Me, of course.” Lawrence turns to Sterling. “Do all American couples fight?”

 “Of course,” Sterling says, stroking his goatee. “They just don’t usually wear gloves.”

 It’s nine o’clock already, and the sun just cleared the top of the redwoods, illuminating the garden like an arena. Our boots crush the creeping thyme, melding with the herbaceous smell of ripening chardonnay grapes.

 Jack bounces forward on his left foot, then weaves back, shifting his weight to the right, then back again. Red shorts hug his waist and skim his well-built thighs. He looks fitter than he is, from a past regimen of boxing, swimming, horseback riding. It’s not fair how men look better than us as they age. Not fair at all.

“Come on, pretty boy.” I hold my fists up in front of my face. “Let’s see what you’re made of.”

“The legs of a Roman goddess.” Sterling whistles.

 “Mind your p’s and q’s, Greek,” Jack says. “Those are my wife’s gams you’re looking at.” He throws the first punch, which lands square to my glove.

 “I’m talking about your legs, Wolf.” Sterling combs long fingernails through his goatee, making my skin crawl. The disheveled poet could use a comb and nail scissors . . . and a bath, come to think of it.

Jack camps a pose and spins his white satin boxing sash around like Jack Johnson at the world championship.

 After I take a playful poke at his ribs to get his attention, suddenly he’s jumping around me like Possum dancing for a scrap of meat.

 For a while, Jack and I practice our drill, throwing rhythmic punches, gaining confidence and speed. We must look hilarious with Jack so much taller and broader and me, his “small woman,” holding my own.

“Hey, Wolf,” Lawrence says. “If you win, I’ll take a hundred dollars off your eucalyptus starts.”

Jack thumbs his nose in jest, though I know it eats at him to owe Lawrence for the seedlings, with no way to pay yet. Our Aussie friend convinced Jack eucalyptus would make him a fortune, but the seedlings have only added to our growing debt.

A mighty punch whizzes past me. Jack huffs and rolls his eyes. “You’ve got the advantage today, Mate-Woman. I have the willies.”

“Excuses, excuses.” I make a right jab at his chest, and he takes it, his shoulder swinging back. Abdomen, chest, or shoulders are fair game, but anything below Jack’s belt isn’t allowed— his kidneys and liver have taken all the abuse they can handle.

Eliza shoos the staff inside. “Don’t you people have work to do this morning? The ranch doesn’t run itself.” Her nostrils flare at me. “Though some folks seem to think so.”

 Nine years married to her brother, and Eliza still sees me as a nuisance to endure.

 “Stay in the match or I’ll knock your block off.” Jack takes a swipe. We go at it for another quarter hour. Jack’s chest swells out, his breath labors. I prance and punch to give him a fight, but not too much to tire him out or bruise his ego.

 Lawrence watches my antics with palpable pleasure, which Jack pretends not to notice. Now for the tricky part, how to end this thing. In an effort to go down fighting, I swing in the air, but my glove catches his jaw. I lose my footing and fall on the flagstones, hitting my tailbone with a searing pain. Lawrence runs and lifts me up. “Are you all right?” Jack asks, blood trickling from his mouth onto his chin.

“You won. You won, Wolf.” Sterling claps long hands together in mockery. “You beat the stuffing out of the little lady.”

 “Did I hurt you, Lady-Boy?” Jack holds his jaw, jiggles it side to side.

Breaking free of Lawrence’s grasp, I run to wipe the blood from Jack’s chin with my shirttail. “Now if you’ll excuse us, gentlemen, we have a novel to write.” Jack’s golden rule: write a thousand words a day. And my job is to keep him to it.

I take Jack’s hand and pull him up the steps, feeling Lawrence’s eyes on my backside, tingling despite my good intentions. Damn eucalyptus. Damn blue-eyed, blond Aussies.

 “I feel like a new man.” Jack pats my rear and makes me jump. “You know just what I need, don’t you, Mate?”

“What you need is a shower.” I hold open the screen door. “After we finish the story, we’ll figure out what else you need.”

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price ...

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

Paperback, 416 pages
 Published May 5th 2015
by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

This year I am challenging myself in many areas, with my reading I am stepping out of my comfort zone with genres I usually steer away from. YA fantasy is one such genre. When a reader friend raved about this series I knew it was where to start.

Feyre is a teen who supports her family or make that takes care of them, they fell from the high life and must fend for themselves. It’s a mistake that changes everything for Feyre. It’s a world divided between human and almost fairy talish (I think I made that word up). Some aspects reminded me of Beauty and the Beast.

I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed this book. The characters were likeable, though I didn’t always like them. The plot complex and intriguing. I was right in the setting with all the mystical and fantasy elements.

Yea I will continue with this series, maybe not right away, the next book A Court of Mist and Fury comes in at 626 pages (over 200 pages more then Thorns and Roses).

Book from my personal library and part of my Read TBR challenge.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Excerpt: The Last Rodeo by Delores Fossen

The most important two words for this Wrangler’s Creek rodeo cowboy? I do...

 Lucian Granger isn’t winning any Mr. Cowboy Congeniality awards. Known in his small Texas town as “Lucifer” thanks to his surly nature and knack for scaring people away from getting too close, the handsome rancher has no trouble ignoring the gossip. But when he’s in danger of losing the land he’s put his blood, sweat and tears into maintaining, Lucian sets out to prove he’s a changed man—by claiming he’s about to settle down with his invaluable assistant, Karlee O’Malley.

 Their pending nuptials may be just for show, but from the moment they kiss, the proverbial fireworks start going off in his head—and in his heart. Before long, the man who’s usually as emotional as a brick wall is tired of pretending and wants to share a real future with Karlee. With his world suddenly turned upside down, Lucian will risk losing the business and the ranch if it means holding on to the one woman worth becoming a better man for.

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
 Published June 26th 2018 
by HQN Books


All of his relationships soured.

Especially the one that had mattered most.

She examined his shoulder, and then looked up at him with those Irish-green eyes that could be either warm or cool depending on the situation. Right now, they were on the chillier end of the spectrum because she likely didn’t approve of the shoulder injury or how he was about to ask her to handle it.

“No hospital?” She didn’t wait for an answer because she knew it would be no. She huffed at his unspoken no. “This is risky, you know? Just because I did this for you once before and for my brothers too many times to count, it doesn’t mean it’s a smart thing. You need to see a doctor.”

“Just pop it back in,” Lucian growled.

Her eyes went from plain ordinary chill to an Arctic frost. Karlee frosted and frowned at him a few more seconds while she debated what to do.

“Hold him,” she said to Dylan, and Dylan hooked his arms around Lucian’s chest and waist. “What’s your safe word?” she asked, turning back to Lucian. “The one you use when you’re playing rough with your sweet things?”

What the hell did that have to do with this? But Lucian only managed to get out the “what” part of that before Karlee gave his arm a hard push, moving the shoulder back in place.

And causing him to curse every single word of pro­fanity in his entire vocabulary. He added some new ones, too, though they came out so garbled that it was like cuss stew.

Once he got past the eye-watering, excruciating pain, Lucian realized the reason Karlee had asked about the safe word was to distract him. It had worked, and his shoulder was already starting to feel a little better. The sharp stabbing was now more like a sharp toothache.

“All fixed up now?” Dylan asked him. “I think you just wanted to feel a woman’s touch.” He didn’t wait around for Lucian to glare at him for that bad joke. Dylan gave them a wave and headed for the barn where he’d likely been going when he saw Lucian take the throw from the gelding.

Lucian tried to put his shirt back on, but after a cou­ple of grunts from pain, Karlee helped with that, too, and then they started back toward the house. She also took hold of his wrist.

“No, I’m not giving you more of a woman’s touch. I’m checking your pulse in case what I just did ruptured a blood vessel,” she let him know. “If that happened, your pulse rate will change.”

Lucian figured she knew how to do that because she’d practically raised her three younger brothers. Being a big sister seemed to give her a special set of expertise like doctoring duties, ESP and a built-in lie de­tector. Those things were far superior to his big-brother talents.

As a big brother, he knew how to come up with bail money when needed. That was about it. Of course, being the oldest had also gotten him the title of head honcho/boss for Granger Enterprises after his parents had divorced and moved away from Wrangler’s Creek. That boss label included not only the ranch but the busi­nesses, as well.

So yeah, there was that.

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USA Today bestselling author, Delores Fossen, has sold over 70 novels with millions of copies of her books in print worldwide. She’s received the Booksellers’ Best Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award and was a finalist for the prestigious Rita ®. 

In addition, she’s had nearly a hundred short stories and articles published in national magazines.

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