Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Saving Grace by Jennifer Youngblood and Amelia C. Adams {Review}

Saving Grace (Jackson Hole Firefighter Romance #3) by Jennifer Youngblood and Amelia C. Adams
Kindle Edition, 155 pages
Published February 19th 2020 by Ditch Lily Press 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
 
 https://amzn.to/3bWSCzv   
 
He’s fire. She’s Ice. Sparks will fly, and her greatest source of irritation might just become her saving grace …

Ian Douglas is tired of being set up on blind dates. It seems that everyone wants to go out with a firefighter-paramedic, but no one wants to settle down and get serious. He's looking for something lasting, a woman who will be by his side for the rest of his life. Children, grandchildren, dogs running around in the yard—he wants the whole package, and he's not willing to settle for anything less.

Alicia Teague gave up on romance a long time ago. She's much more comfortable in her laboratory poring over her microscope. Science makes sense in a way people never will, and she appreciates the organization and logic of facts and figures. When her sister Tammy calls from Jackson Hole and tells her about a family emergency, she drops everything and flies out there—but she's less willing to comply with Tammy's second request, to go out with one of the guys from the nearby fire station.

He may be hunky and heroic, but who has time for yet another broken heart?

When Ian and Alicia meet, however, sparks begin to fly. Their chemistry is undeniable, but so is their annoyance with each other. They both want what's best for Tammy, but their goals are completely opposite. It's going to take a whole lot of conversation and compromise to bring this fire under control.
 
My Review: 4 Stars
 
There's something pretty exciting about a big, tough firefighter, especially when he can't seem to put out the sparks of romance, try as he might.
Ian is hesitant to be set up on yet another blind date, but when he catches a glimpse of Alicia, he's whipped. She feels the same connection, but feels they're too different to make things work, and that's exactly when hard work and effort, which these characters are no stranger to, comes into play.

It was a treat to watch the romance unfold in the midst of a traumatic situation, as well as the minor day-to-day of Ian's job. I love the Jackson Hole area and was delighted to be able to vividly picture the setting, which was an added bonus to this sweet romance. In fact, my husband and I spent many hours hiking around this area while we were busy falling in love, so I was definitely cheering Ian and Alicia on for the same fate.

As entrancing as this sweet romance was, I wanted just a tad more. I felt there were a few gaps in developing feelings and events, and while it was easy to piece together, obviously, I wanted to savor it. 

This was my first in this series and could definitely stand alone. And it won't be my last!

Content: mild romance; mild violence/peril

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Shoes by Yvette Cragun, Illustrated by Myra Romano {Blog Tour Review}

SHOESBlogtourbanner 
Follow the tour HERE.

  

Shoes by Yvette Cragun, Illustrated by Myra Romano
Paperback, 32 pages
Published January 20th 2020 by Pink Umbrella Books LLC
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
 
https://amzn.to/39LZIoJ   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51472646-shoes
 
Flip-flops for the beach, sassy flats for shopping or black heels for a night out on the town--Mom's closet has the perfect pair of shoes for any occasion. Playing dress-up for a while can be fun, but at the end of the day, one little girl learns that she doesn't need to be in a hurry to fill her mom's shoes.
 
My Review: 5 Stars
 
Shoes. I think it's safe to say that most little girls love shoes and each pair can drum up a vivid playtime, full of creativity and fun. These shoes can transport a girl to a myriad of settings and events, allowing for a fun-filled romp through the imagination. 
 
From the very first page, I was carried back in time to when I was a child and the worlds I created through shoes. I loved how each page introduced a new type of shoe with a rhyme that relates to the way this young girl feels when she wears each pair. Of course, they're her mother's shoes, and while each has a purpose, she realizes when she wants to be herself and to be carefree and young, she doesn't need them--at least, not quite yet.
 
This is an enjoyable read for anyone who loves shoes.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Best Friends with a Royal Billionaire by Sophia Summers {Review}

Best Friends with a Royal Billionaire by Sophia Summers
Kindle Edition, 106 pages
Published February 10th 2020 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
 
 https://amzn.to/2OKcuMx    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48838878-best-friends-with-a-royal-billionaire
 
Being the Prince's best friend had its perks. Being his Gardener did not.

Prince Arlo just wants to date and marry Amara, but she pushes him away every time he tries. She knows what the press would say. She's already seen what his parents think about the match.

They agree to spend a month of the summer together at the annual prince's yacht party, anchored on a sand bar in the Mediterranean but everything becomes that much more complicated when a family of royals show up, with the daughter Arlo is expected to date. But everything comes to a stand still when the hurricane of the decade slams into Arlo and Amara's home country.

Will Arlo's parents finally see that Amara is the perfect queen for their country? Will Amara herself accept that fact?

Read this third book of friendship, loyalty and service as two best friends find their way into love.

Get to know more of the men in the royal prince society, the perks of the wealthy, their games as royals, and their adventures on the Mediterranean.
 
My Review: 4 Stars 
 
Mingling with a bunch of royals on a yacht with a storm brewing sounds like the perfect way for Amara to spend her summer break, especially when Prince Arlo, her best friend, extends her a personal invitation. 
 
I've always had a fascination with royals and I love reading a story about one who seems so normal. I kept picturing Harry and Meghan, although Arlo and Amara don't resemble them at all in my mind. They just seem like that type of couple--very much into volunteering and service, kind, humble, down-to-earth, and definitely in the spotlight.

I enjoyed spending time with these characters and absolutely loved the setting. There were a few unexpected twists and turns that kept me entertained, but I would have loved for the story to be longer, adding more detail to a few parts.

I haven't read the others in this series and felt that this one could stand alone. This easy, breezy romance was a delicious escape for a cold, wintry day!

Content: mild romance; mild moments of peril

Friday, February 21, 2020

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant {Review}

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant
Paperback, 313 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Zondervan
Source: I received a copy through Netgalley, which didn't affect my thoughts and opinions in any way.

 https://amzn.to/2H5EkOQ    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20663432-all-s-fair-in-love-and-cupcakes

Kat inspected rows of the same old cupcakes. They seemed to blink back at her, as if they knew she was capable of so much more.

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie's bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat's best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself, her, is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat's senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.


My Review: 4 Stars

A cupcake competition is just what is needed to spur Kat and Lucas to explore the idea of moving from friends to lovers, but much like a piping bag overfull of buttercream frosting, things become a huge, sticky mess instead.

Kat and Lucas have an unusual best friendship because they seem to keep so many secrets from each other and things seems skewed more to one side, which drove me a little batty at times. All it takes is a little communication to keep the friendship from turning into a battlefield, people.

Kat is so determined to stand out in the world like a pumpkin scone cupcake that she can't see that sometimes strawberry is okay. The stress of this baking competition was almost the downfall of something great, but I loved watching the events unfold through the delicious and unique flavors and challenges.  

St. Amant does a great job of blending multiple tropes into a charming, cut-throat story, but do not read this if you're hungry, or you'll be craving a sugary treat (or two or three...) all day long. 

Content: mild romance; moderate religion

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Fall From Trace by Rebecca Connolly {Blog Tour Review and Giveaway}

Fall From Trace Blog Tour Banner
Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for
Fall From Trace by Rebecca Connolly hosted by SLB Tours!

About the Book

Fall from Trace

Series: London League
Genre: Adult, Historical, Regency, Romance
Publisher: Phase Publishing
Publication date: February 1, 2020

Gone, but not forgotten...

Alex Sommerville should have been dead. To the world, he had been dead for almost five years, and with him, the secrets he had carried as Trace, the most elusive member of the London League. When a chance to escape finally comes, Alex finds just enough life left in him to take it, and races off to return to the woman he loves.

...Back, but at what cost?

The last person Poppy Edgewood ever expected to see suddenly falls into her life again - literally. Alex is a shell of the man he once was, and on the brink of the death she thought him already lost to. What answers will he have for her when he recovers, and can she even bear to hear them?


About the Author

rebecca-connolly-headshot
Rebecca Connolly writes romances, both period and contemporary, because she absolutely loves a good love story. She has been creating stories since childhood, and there are home videos to prove it! She started writing them down in elementary school and has never looked back. She currently lives in the Midwest, spends every spare moment away from her day job absorbed in her writing, and is a hot cocoa addict.

Snippet

Loneliness is a creeping creature, and its pangs were deep and ravaging. In the evenings, when work was completed and she had so much to tell, there was no one to listen. When she missed her sister or her brothers, her parents, or her life, there was no one to commiserate with. When she cried in the night because Alex was gone and no one cared but her, there was no relief. When she felt more alone than anyone ought to feel, there was no one to take away the darkness.

No one to share her burdens with.

The only person she had in her life with any sort of regularity was Stanton, and he would not take kindly at all to her sharing such personal and emotional thoughts with him. It would have made him uncomfortable and gruff, and he probably would have told her to focus on her work and the farm and forget everything else. He had once told her emotions were a nuisance, after all, and that the past was only good for lessons.

Not for visiting and staying for a time.

Poppy was only too prone to spend an extended period of time in her past these days, though she knew it wouldn’t do her any good.

The trouble was that it was too easy.

She scrubbed at the pot harder, her brow furrowing with the effort, and when she stopped, she looked at her hands. Once these hands had been delicate and soft, protected by gloves more often than not, fair and without blemish but for the occasional pricking of an embroidery needle. Her nails had been clean and manicured, the perfect embodiment of a fine lady. Every now and again, there might be a scratch on the skin from getting into mischief with Alex by climbing a tree or racing across their properties, but her hands had been fairly perfect.

Now, they were rough and worn, weathered by hard work and aggressive labor. She had callouses on her palm, on every fingertip, and along the edges of each finger. Her knuckles were often inflamed, and her skin cracked and peeled regularly. Lines and scars and dry patches dotted every surface of her hands, and her nails were almost brutally short, uneven, and usually had something under them, be it dirt or food or feed for the animals.

These hands were not those of a young lady.

Then again, Poppy could hardly be considered young anymore. Twenty-seven was not particularly old, but in those twenty-seven years, she had lived a lifetime, and she was decades older than anyone of her age. Her life did not even remotely resemble what she had thought out for herself, what she had planned, or anything like it once had.

She closed her eyes and set the pot aside, knowing it was far cleaner now than it had ever been with her excessive scrubbing.

This was what her life amounted to now. Scrubbing the pots and plates from her own meals, feeding the chickens and pigs, currying the horses, farming with whatever help she could afford to pay, even grinding her own flour to make her own bread, at times.

Oh, how far she had fallen.

Lonely and cast out, working for every morsel of bread, sweating her days away in the sun, and mourning a man who had never promised her anything.

Poppy’s hands curled into fists and hot tears filled her eyes. It was wrong to resent a dead man, she knew, but resent him she did. If he hadn’t have died, if that was what had truly happened, she would not be in this situation. He could have just broken off their impending engagement, and she would have been with her family now. She should have been wiser, not giving her heart so freely without the official connection between them.

Never mind that they had been in love since she was fourteen and he sixteen. Never mind that they had been planning to marry for years. Never mind that she was so utterly and completely his that she hadn’t been whole in almost five years.

She should have been wiser.

And it was his fault she was so destitute, despairing, and dismal.

It was his fault she had grown so attached.

It was his fault she still felt the ache within her at the thought of him.

It was his fault that when she looked out of her kitchen window and could see the shadows of Parkerton Lodge in the distance, she still looked for a light in any window.

As she did now.

But there were no lights within, and no lights without, and the crumbling estate looked as foreboding and desolate as it had the day the servants had departed it.

Poppy exhaled slowly, wiping her hands on dry toweling. She couldn’t do this anymore. Couldn’t watch for him, wait for him, ache for him. He wasn’t coming back, and this was the life she had chosen for herself. This was her future, and looking back would not make it any brighter.

She was done.

She had to be.

A knock on her door brought her head around, and she waited for Stanton to enter. When he didn’t, and the knock came again, more firmly, she rolled her eyes as she moved to the door.

"Honestly, Stanton," she moaned loudly. "It’s not so cold that you had to fill your arms to the brim with wood."

She reached for the door handle and pulled the door open, fixing her expression into one of mocking amusement.

The man who stood there stared at her with his dark, sunken eyes, leaning both forearms against the doorframe, his chest heaving wildly, and her amusement faded at once.

She knew that face. She knew the line of that jaw, the dark eyes that were endless in their depths, the nose with a slight crook in the bridge from where her brother had walloped him with a tree branch ten years ago. He was thinner, terrifyingly so, and his face was hollow and gaunt, sickly in color despite being tanned, and covered with a sheen of perspiration. His dark hair was cut brutally short, but it, and the scruff on the lower half of his face, were as dark as his eyes, if not darker still.

All changes aside, she knew that man better than any person on this earth.

"Alex…" she breathed, her voice catching on his name.

His corded throat worked on a swallow. "Poppy."

Her hand lashed out and struck him hard across the face, a weak yet harsh cry ripping from her throat. He stumbled sideways, surprising her with his unsteadiness, and a tremor ran across his once broad shoulders and down to his legs. Slowly, he looked back at her, pressing his left arm against the doorframe again and almost sagging against the wood.

"Please," he whispered, his voice fading with shocking rapidity as his eyes widened.

Then they rolled back, and he collapsed to the ground at her feet.

Review

4 Stars

While I completely enjoyed this story, I feel like I sneaked a peak at my Christmas present sitting under the tree and the surprise of unwrapping it on that joyous holiday was taken away from me. I haven't read this series yet and didn't realize how important reading these books in order is for the reader to get the maximum enjoyment out of them. I've heard so many great things about this series and when this one came up on a blog tour, I jumped at my chance to dive in. So, if you haven't read this set yet, stop now, because there are inadvertent spoilers.
Trace is alive--and I had no idea he was supposed to be dead, which is no one's fault but my own. That said, my heart broke at the things he endured before finally finding his freedom. Can you imagine seeing your lost love suddenly reappear again, years later? My heart also broke for Poppy and the feelings she had to work through in this tough, heart wrenching situation. Being reunited causes for rediscovering connections and feelings. I loved this couple and their resiliency, and I adored the camaraderie with this group of men-turned-spies.

The tensions and action-paced story really propelled the plot of this adventuresome tale and the romance was the icing on the cake (surprise, surprise). I really need to go back and read the rest of this series, as I just know I'll be left feeling extremely satisfied and entertained.

Content: mild romance; mild language; mild-moderate talk/flashbacks of violence (abuse, torture, etc)

*I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.*  

Giveaway

(1) winner will receive a $15 Amazon GC + an ecopy of Falling for Trace.
Falling for Trace tour giveaway
Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Link to full tour schedule below. Giveaway will begin at midnight February 10, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on February 23, 2020. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Giveaway open internationally. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Tour Schedule

Follow along at SLB Tours for a full list of stops!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Promised by Leah Garriott {Blog Tour Review}

https://amzn.to/2udjSIB




 

Margaret Brinton keeps her promises, and the one she is most determined to keep is the promise to protect her heart.

Warwickshire, England, 1812

Fooled by love once before, Margaret vows never to be played the fool again. To keep her vow, she attends a notorious matchmaking party intent on securing the perfect marital match: a union of convenience to someone who could never affect her heart. She discovers a man who exceeds all her hopes in the handsome and obliging rake Mr. Northam.

There’s only one problem. His meddling cousin, Lord Williams, won’t leave Margaret alone. Condescending and high-handed, Lord Williams lectures and insults her. When she refuses to give heed to his counsel, he single-handedly ruins Margaret’s chances for making a good match—to his cousin or anyone else. With no reason to remain at the party, Margaret returns home to discover her father has promised her hand in marriage—to Lord Williams

Under no condition will Margaret consent to marrying such an odious man. Yet as Lord Williams inserts himself into her everyday life, interrupting her family games and following her on morning walks, winning the good opinion of her siblings and proving himself intelligent and even kind, Margaret is forced to realize that Lord Williams is exactly the type of man she’d hoped to marry before she’d learned how much love hurt. When paths diverge and her time with Lord Williams ends, Margaret is faced with her ultimate choice: keep the promises that protect her or break free of them for one more chance at love. Either way, she fears her heart will lose.



 

My Review: 4.5 Stars

Spunky characters are a hallmark of a great Regency romance. Margaret is strong-willed and determined to marry for convenience only, as she's been burned by love in the past, but Gregory has other ideas, when it becomes apparent that her sights are set on his rakish cousin.

I was baffled by Gregory's intentions for the first part of the book and was dying at how spiteful Margaret's behavior was, but as the story progressed, my heart was won over with stolen moments, flowers, poetry, and even a donkey, right along with each character's, and I was fascinated and intrigued by the turns of events. This book dabbles in a little of everything, with its moments of mystery, romance, illness, lost love, envy, and humor. It was a darling escape with a concrete, engaging plot and a steady cast of characters.

I loved settling into this charming story and felt this was a solid debut novel from this author. I look forward to more of her works.

Content: mild romance

*I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.*

 




Though she earned degrees in math and statistics, Leah Garriott lives for a good love story. She's resided in Hawaii and Italy, walked the countryside of England, and owns every mainstream movie version of Pride and Prejudice. She's currently living her own happily ever after in Utah with her husband and three kids. Leah is represented by Sharon Pelletier at Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret.


Connect with the Author here:





~ GoodreadsBookBub






"Promising Regency-set debut. Vivid period details and the hero's grand romantic efforts will please fans of historical romance."—Publishers Weekly

"Debut -author Garriott's smooth prose and character-driven story will enthrall readers looking for sweet historicals with Austenesque plots."—Library Journal


"Garriott's impressive debut distinguishes itself with its expertly evoked Regency setting, a cast of realistically flawed yet eminently relatable characters, and a sweetly satisfying love story. Teen fans of Austen-era love stories will fall hard for this impeccably crafted romance."—Booklist

“Promised is a sweet regency romance and one that I recommend to all of you romance fans, especially those of you that enjoy stories inspired by Jane Austen.”—The Book Diva’s Reads

“…a fun, entertaining, and perfect addition to the Proper Romance collection.”—The Readathon

“With an Austen-like focus on minute emotional detail and some amusing secondary characters, Garriott’s gentle novel promises a treat for Regency fans who like their characters well-bred, their interiors comfortable, and the romance no racier than the hero turning up in a wet shirt.”—Historical Novel Society




February 17 My Jane Austen Book Club (Guest Blog)

February 17 Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)

February 18 Katie's Clean Book Collection (Review)

February 18 Wishful Endings (Interview)

February 19 RelzReviewz (Character Spotlight)

February 20 Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Spotlight)

February 21 The Lit Bitch (Excerpt)

February 22 The Debutante Ball (Interview)

February 23 Adventure. Romance. Suspense (Review)

February 24 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)

February 24 Austenesque Reviews (Guest Blog)

February 24 Half Agony, Half Hope (Review)

February 25 Frolic Media (Excerpt)

February 26 Heidi Reads (Guest Blog)

February 26 The Caffeinated Bibliophile (Interview)

February 27 Wishful Endings (Review)

February 28 Lu Reviews Books (Review)

February 29 KJ's Book Nook (Review)

March 1 My Vices and Weaknesses (Excerpt)

March 2 Bringing Up Books (Review)

March 2 Christian Chick's Thoughts (Review)

March 2 For Where Your Treasure Is (Interview)

March 3 Heidi Reads (Review)

March 3 So Little Time…So Much to Read (Excerpt)

March 4 Romance Junkies (Guest Blog)

March 4 Gwendalyn's Books (Review)

March 5 Laura's Reviews (Review)

March 6 Scuffed Slippers Wormy Books (Spotlight)

March 7 Fiction Aficionado (Review)

March 8 The Christian Fiction Girl (Review)

March 9 Austenesque Reviews (Review)

March 10 Bookfoolery (Review)

March 10 From Pemberley to Milton (Review)

March 11 Faithfully Bookish (Interview)

March 12 Impressions in Ink (Review)

March 13 Robin Loves Reading (Review)

March 13 The Green Mockingbird (Review)

March 14 Inkwell Inspirations (Review)

March 15 The Calico Critic (Excerpt)

March 15 Bookworm Nation (Guest Blog)


Monday, February 17, 2020

Harmony (Destiny #3) by Cindy Ray Hale {Review}

Harmony (Destiny #3) by Cindy Ray Hale
Kindle edition, 297 pages
Published: December 10, 2019, Amazon.com Services, LLC
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.

https://amzn.to/2Uy4i5K   

Will Destiny finally choose between Isaac and Preston?

In the long-awaited final installment of The Destiny Trilogy, Destiny Clark has anything but harmony in her life.

Destiny is dating Isaac Robinson but is not completely sure she’s made the right decision. Preston Nelson re-enters her life and fights to win her back. Destiny struggles to resist the undeniable chemistry between them and is left feeling more confused than ever.

When Destiny’s school issues a new policy, her family realizes they may have to sacrifice more than they’re willing to stay at the only school they’ve ever known.

Is Destiny’s bond with Isaac strong enough to last, or should she give Preston another chance?

As one thing after another goes wrong, Destiny realizes she must search for harmony in her life before she loses everything.

This clean Young Adult Contemporary Romance is filled with stolen kisses, swoonworthy guys, and a girl learning who she is.


My Review: 4 Stars

What a satisfying conclusion to this coming-of-age young adult romance! There is a lot of emotion and angst riddled among these pages and the continuation of the back-and-forth indecisiveness that Destiny displays, as she tries to choose her true love, was enough to give me inner whiplash. But I loved watching these characters grow up and deal with life-changing situations, while staying true to themselves.

This series must be read in order and be sure to buckle up and enjoy the roller coaster ride of teenage life at its finest. Cindy Ray Hale does a great job of jumping into the minds of these characters and allowing the reader to intimately know them. I love how the characters rotate between a few different characters, as this gives the reader a bird's eye view of thoughts, feelings, and actions. 

Content: mild+ romance (some innuendo, teen pregnancy, kissing, cheating, etc); moderate religion