Friday, October 31, 2014

To Love and to Cherish by Leigh Greenwood - Review


To Love and to Cherish
(Cactus Creek Cowboys #2)
by Leigh Greenwood
Expected publication: November 4, 2014
by Sourcebooks Casablanca

Torn Between a Desire to be Free...
When Laurie Spencer said "I do", she never realized she'd be trading one pair of shackles for another-until her husband's unexpected death leaves her with an opportunity to escape her controlling family for good. Determined to be independent, Laurie approaches sexy rancher Jared Smith with an offer she hopes he can't refuse...

And a Longing to be His...
Jared's determined to make it, but with the local banker turned against him, it looks like his dream may be slipping through his fingers. When unconsciously sensual Laurie offers a partnership, his luck may be changing...but when she throws herself in as part of the deal, Jared's not sure he'll be able to respect the terms of their agreement and keep his eyes-and his hands-to himself. 

There's something about Laurie that awakens every protective instinct Jared has...and when all hell breaks loose, there's nothing and no one who'll be able to keep this cowboy from her side.
  

My review:
Laurie was forced to marry a controlling man she didn't love, but now that he has recently passed away, she believes that his money and property will now belong to her and she will have the means to be in charge of her own life. However, her deceased husband intended to control her even from the grave, and his brother is determined to see it through. Buying a partnership in Jared's ranch may be just what Laurie needs to be independent, but when she doesn't have enough money for the partnership, she agrees to become his housekeeper. But Laurie's former brother-in-law, the town's banker, doesn't like this idea and certainly doesn't like when he doesn't have control of something, and he is adamant that Laurie and Jared will do what he wants.

First, I am going to admit that I had a preconceived notion that men can't write romance novels as well as women (even though I know I'm going to get some backlash from that revelation), so when I found out that Leigh Greenwood is a man, I was skeptical that I was going to like this book. I'm glad I gave it a chance because To Love and to Cherish is an amazing historical romance novel with a great plot and full of interesting characters, vivid setting, and spicy romance. 

Laurie is sweet and sassy, resigned to do what's expected of her but in her own way. She's determined that she will never marry again, even though she is only 21 when she becomes a widow. Jared is proud and arrogant but also honorable and caring, with a strong need to turn a profit on his new ranch and find his long-lost brothers. Norman (Laurie's former brother-in-law and the banker) is the perfect villain that you love to hate, and there are several well described secondary characters that add richness to this story. Just based on what I read of Naomi and Colby, I want to read the first book in this series to learn more about their story. And let me just say, a freak snowstorm in the desert never seemed quite so hot before.

I got so caught up in these characters and this story that at one point I wanted to slap Jared and remind him that he knew she was a virgin. (Because yes, she really was, even though she had been married for four years. You will have to read to find out why.) If you like romance, I am most definitely recommending this book. (In fact, I think my only complaint about this book is that the copy I won was not signed.)

I won a copy through Goodreads. I was not required to write a review. 

About the author:
Leigh Greenwood is the author of the popular Seven Brides, Cowboy, and Night Riders series. The proud father of three grown children, Leigh resides in Charlotte, NC. He never intended to be a writer, but found it hard to ignore the people in his head, and the only way to get them out was to write.

Find out more at Leigh-Greenwood.com.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cooking Up Love by Gemma Brocato - "Throwback Thursday" Review

A "Throwback Thursday Review" is either a book I read way back when but didn't write a review for whatever reason (usually, probably forgot ... oops...) or it is a review on a book I got but then didn't get around to reading until now (again, usually, probably just forgot).

Up this week is Cooking Up Love by Gemma Brocato. Gemma graciously sent me a copy of this early this year with no expectation for it to be reviewed. I read it shortly after receiving and intended to write a review, but you know what they say about best laid plans...
 
Cooking Up Love
(Five Senses #1)
by Gemma Brocato

Mix a chef and her contractor, stir in a mystery, and cook up a romance. Jemima George leads a charmed life as a personal chef and assistant to reality television's latest darling. But that changes in a New York minute when her Aunt Caro dies under odd circumstances, bequeathing her a small restaurant. Jem plans to sell the cafe and continue her life in NYC, until a dramatic phone call from her cheating boyfriend convinces her to experiment with the ingredients for happiness and accept her Aunt's legacy. Throwing herself into remodeling the restaurant with the help of the town's delicious contractor, Jem revamps the menu and renews her faith in herself. 

Jack Kerrigan considered Caro a surrogate mother and hates the idea that the cafe could be sold. He doesn't need the remodeling project, but if it means Caro's beautiful, fascinating niece will stay to run the restaurant, he's all in. He wouldn't mind being savory to Jem's sweet. Jack's brassy ex-wife is cooking up a scheme of her own, where Jack tosses Jem like a salad and comes back to her. Fold in a creepy attorney hiding secrets of environmental mayhem, add Jem's claustrophobia, half-pint niece and nephew twins, one mysterious lockbox, and bring to a boil-a recipe for romance. 


My review:
When Jem inherits a cafe after her aunt dies, she intends to sell the property in Granite Pointe because her life, her job, and the man she hopes is her soon-to-be-finance are in New York. Jem soon realizes she may be better off staying and running her aunt's cafe because not only does a late night phone reveal her boyfriend is a sleaze but she also has some hot chemistry with the sexy contractor, Jack. From the beginning, Jem feels there is something not quite right about the way her aunt passed away, but the mystery deepens as time goes on.

Cooking Up Love has a whole lot of steamy romance with a bunch of mystery mixed in. The twist was hinted at from the beginning of the book, but, call me slow or whatever, I was still surprised when everything was finally revealed. Jem is smart, sassy, and independent, while also being vulnerable. Jack is tough and determined, while also having a soft heart that's too big for his own good. The characters were great, the setting was good, and the writing style is easy to read. I got hooked early on with the chemistry in the pantry scene, and I kept reading because of the attraction between Jem and Jack and because of the suspense of finding out what really happened to the aunt. I enjoyed reading this and would recommend to anyone who likes contemporary romance or romantic suspense.

A copy was provided by the author, but I was not required to write a review.

About the author:
Gemma's favorite desk accessories for many years were a circular wooden token, better known as a 'round tuit,' and a fortune from a fortune cookie that said she was a lover of words; some day she'd write a book. She always knew that eventually she'd get around to writing the novel trapped in her mind. It took a transfer to the United Kingdom, the lovely English springtime, and a huge dose of homesickness to write her first novel. Once it was completed and sent off with a kiss even the rejections, addressed to 'Dear Author', were gratifying.

After returning to America, she spent a number of years as a copywriter, dedicating her skills to making insurance and the agents who sell them sound sexy. Eventually, her full-time job as a writer interfered with her desire to be a writer full-time and she left the world of financial products behind to pursue an avocation as a romance author.

Her gamble paid off when she was a 2012 Finalist in the prestigious Golden Pen contest for Romantic Suspense and she received contracts for her first and second book.

Find out more at GemmaBrocato.com.
 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

All I Want For Christmas Is You by Jessica Scott - iPad Mini Giveaway

Title: All I Want For Christmas Is You
Author: Jessica Scott
Release Date: October 24, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Novella (108 pages)

Goodreads * Amazon 

All Major Patrick MacLean wanted was Christmas with the woman and child who were his family in everything but name. But Captain Samantha Egan has come back from the war a different woman than the one who left - and she doesn't know if she can love him anymore.

But neither of them counted on the determination of a little girl they both call daughter and if Natalie has her wish, her parents may have no idea what's coming for them. It's going to take Christmas miracle to bring these two wounded warriors back from the edge of a broken heart. 


Excerpt

It was not a gentle kiss. It was not tame or timid or questioning.

It burned her down to the root of Sam's soul. It touched something deep and dark and hidden.

Something she'd thought was long since dead and buried and gone.

Patrick’s tongue slid against hers, stroking to life the very sensations she thought she'd never feel again.

It was electric, the feel of his mouth against hers. The scrape of stubble against her chin, the taste of him. The smell of his skin.

He nipped her. Pinched her bottom lip between his teeth and sucked it. And she sighed at the pleasure, at the raw ache his taste and touch aroused in her, pushing aside the darkness that haunted her.

Sam felt him. Felt everything. The heat of his skin. The warmth that drew her closer. That made her want to crawl into his lap and unzip his pants and push up that damned flannel shirt until they were skin to skin and there was nothing between them but sweat and heat.

One hand slid down her side. Tugged at her fleece and...

"Dear lord how many layers of clothing do you have on under this thing," he muttered against her lips.

She smiled. "You weren't wondering why I wasn't cold?"

"Well you'd be a champ at strip poker right about now," he murmured.

Then his fingers found her skin and she was no longer thinking.

About the author:

Jessica Scott is a career army officer, mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she's a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon and someone liked some of the stuff she wrote. Somehow, her children are pretty well adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house.

She's written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View Regarding War, and IAVA. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of OIF/New Dawn and has served as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas.

She's pursuing a PhD in Sociology in her spare time  and most recently, she's been featured as one of Esquire Magazine's Americans of the Year for 2012.

Find out more at JessicaScott.net.

The novella ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU is also included in November 11th release HOME FOR CHRISTMAS with Joann Ross.


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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Forget You by Jennifer Snyder - Review

Forget You
(A Coldcreek Novel #4)
by Jennifer Snyder
Published: September 2014

(Fourth novel in the Coldcreek Companion Series.Can be read as a standalone.)

Eva Bennett might be known for her candid approach and sharp tongue, but on the inside she’s still a vulnerable twenty-four year old who’s sick of kissing toads and being habitually single.

Full of comical one-liners and wielding a charming smile, Sawyer Keeton is more than meets the eye. After the news of his brother’s tragic death, however, Sawyer is pulled into a place filled with crippling emotions and pain—a place no one can seem to reach him…until the moment Eva steps into his life.

A twist of fate will bring them together and then tear them apart, forcing the two to learn there are people in life whom you cherish and pray will never forget you.
 



My review:
Eva is seeing all of her friends find good relationships and is ready for one too, but she has had more than her share of cocky, arrogant men. After a chance encounter with Sawyer, she automatically pegs him as another cocky man, especially when she later runs into him at a party. However, there is something there that makes her keep thinking about him, so when he gets her number from her friend and texts her the next day, she agrees to go on a date with him. Sawyer takes her on what she considers a "juvenile" date, and she is surprised to find she has a great time. Eva finds there is more to Sawyer than meets the eye with his unexpected date choices combined with his comical one-liners and the grief he is still experiencing over the mysterious circumstances surrounding his brother's death. They both soon realize they are falling hard for each other, but then they are torn apart.

When the big twist happens, we know something immediately that Eva doesn't know. I think it would have made the whole story more dramatic and suspenseful if the author had left readers in the dark just a little longer. Other than that, this is a really sweet love story and a great read. My heart ached for Eva when she thought she wouldn't see Sawyer again, and then it ached some more for Sawyer when he found out what really happened the night his brother died. I adored Eva and Sawyer, and I absolutely loved the relationship that Eva had with all of her friends. Forget You can be read as a stand-alone, but I would enjoy reading the other novels just to get to know these other characters better because I liked them so much. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys sweet, emotional love stories. (*Note that "sweet love story" does not mean no sex in this case, but it isn't overly explicit either.)

I won a signed copy on Goodreads. I was not required to write a review.

About the author:
Jennifer Snyder lives in North Carolina were she spends most of her time writing New Adult and Young Adult Fiction, reading, and struggling to stay on top of housework. She is a tea lover with an obsession for Post-it notes and smooth writing pens. Jennifer lives with her husband and two children, who endure listening to songs that spur inspiration on repeat and tolerate her love for all paranormal, teenage-targeted TV shows.

Find out more at JenniferSnyderBooks.com.   
 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What Happened to My Sister by Elizabeth Flock - "Throwback Thursday" Review

A "Throwback Thursday Review" is either a book I read way back when but didn't write a review for whatever reason (usually, probably forgot ... oops...) or it is a review on a book I got but then didn't get around to reading until now (again, usually, probably just forgot).

Up this week is What Happened to My Sister by Elizabeth Flock. This is another one from my long list of ones I read back in 2012 right before it came out but then, for some reason, never wrote a review for it. 

What Happened to My Sister
by Elizabeth Flock
Published: August 2012
by Ballantine Books

From the author of Me & Emma comes a dazzling novel of two unforgettable families bound together by their deepest secrets and haunted pasts—perfect for fans of The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes and The Book of Bright Ideas.

Nine-year-old Carrie Parker and her mother, Libby, are making a fresh start in the small town of Hartsville, North Carolina, ready to put their turbulent past behind them. Violence has shattered their family and left Libby nearly unable to cope. And while Carrie once took comfort in her beloved sister, Emma, her mother has now forbidden even the mention of her name.

When Carrie meets Ruth, Honor, and Cricket Chaplin, these three generations of warmhearted women seem to have the loving home Carrie has always dreamed of. But as Carrie and Cricket become fast friends, neither can escape the pull of their families’ secrets—and uncovering the truth will transform the Chaplins and the Parkers forever.



My review:
Get the box of Kleenex for this emotional read. Carrie and her mother are relocating in order to have a better life. Only things really don't seem to be any better, and it doesn't look like they will improve anytime soon. Carrie has memories of a sister but doesn't remember what happened to her, but her mother tells Carrie that she is imagining things and forbids her to talk about it. Carrie and her mother end up living in a run-down, seedy motel, and Carrie is usually left alone in the room. They have very little money, and Carrie does without a lot, even food. It is absolutely heartbreaking to read about this little girl eating things like dirt and clay pots just to ease the hunger pangs.

What Happened to My Sister is very touching. The characters were great, and the story was engaging. Carrie is one of those characters that grab a hold of your heart and burrow their way in. I first read this story 2 years ago (I don't know why I didn't write a review back then), but I have found myself suddenly thinking of it over the years. The Chaplin family is quirky and loveable. Perhaps they didn't see the obvious abuse that was right in front of them at first, but very few people really do. What really did happen to Carrie's sister? You will be left guessing until the end. I would without a doubt recommend this book to anyone. 

A copy was provided for an honest review.

About the author:
Former print journalist Elizabeth Flock reported for TIME and PEOPLE magazines before becoming an on-air correspondent for CBS News. Her acclaimed debut novel, BUT INSIDE I'M SCREAMING, chronically the psychological struggles of a young television reporter in New York, was released in 2003. Her second novel, ME & EMMA, became a New York Times bestseller and was an Indiebound (formerly Booksense) Notable Book of 2005. EVERYTHING MUST GO, Elizabeth's third novel, loosely based on a clothing store in Connecticut, was published in 2007. Elizabeth's books have been translated into seven languages and published in twelve countries. 

Her fourth novel, SLEEPWALKING IN DAYLIGHT, came out in 2009, and was chosen as an Indie Next List (formerly Booksense) title.

Find out more at ElizabethFlock.com.

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