Friday, December 30, 2016

Book Beginnings and The Friday 56 - December 30, 2016

I'm linking up with Rose City Reader for Book Beginnings and Freda's Voice for Page 56. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Pick the closest book on your book stack and join the fun.

The Beginning:

"The Dogs' Teeth Pub was an ugly atrocity of lumber and plaster wedged in the empty space between the row houses at the intersection of Cole and Hester."

Page 56:

"This is what I recorded on the night of the Winged Convergence. The sheet was covered in crazy, jagged squiggles, filled with spikes and jabs."

From The Alchemy of Chaos by Marshall Ryan Maresca. This is book two in a series set in the city of Maradaine. Maresca is writing two series set in this city. This one set at the university and another that features local law enforcement officers.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Short and Sweet Book Reviews #66 - The Holiday Gift by RaeAnne Thane, Everything for Her by Alexa Riley, Wind River Rancher by Lindsay McKenna

The Holiday Gift (Cowboys of Cold Creek, #15)The Holiday Gift by RaeAnne Thayne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a nice sweet filler story that gives the last sister at the Christmas Ranch her HEA. Faith just wants everything to stay the same. No more bad news or life changing events. I think many of us can identify with Faith but we all know we must move on. Faith finally does when she realized that losing Chase Brannon, her best friend, is worse than admitting that she loves him. Will stand alone but more fun if you have read the previous two books.

Everything for Her (For Her #1)Everything for Her by Alexa Riley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What do you do when you find out that someone has controlled your life for years and things you felt you earned were really given to you. That same someone is obsessed with you and will do everything for you. That is the question in Mallory Sullivan's life when she discovers that Miles is really an OZ behind the curtain. First in a series. I was not comfortable with Miles and I wondered how Mallory would handle him. Nice story but I would hope that it never happened in real life.

Wind River Rancher (Wind River Valley, #2)Wind River Rancher by Lindsay McKenna
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This deals with a very serious issue facing many of our vets - PTSD. Every one of the main characters in this story are returning vets who have hit rock bottom and find help at Wind River Ranch. Reading the book made me want to go back and read book one in the series, Wind Rive Wrangler. There was a little to much of a preaching tone to part of the book but in spite of that I loved the story and the main characters. Both have to come back from multiple problems. Shaylene Crawford is a vet who owns and runs the ranch. Reese Lockhart is her newest vet hire. Reece is on his last leg when he gets to job at Wind River Ranch. He and Shaylene have an immediate connection and work well together. There is another big problem in Shaylene's life, that is her Father. Look for a bit of a cliff hanger at the end. A very good series about a very serious issue.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Look Back Wednesday - December 28, 2016



The Christmas Wedding RingThe Christmas Wedding Ring by Susan Mallery
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Christmas Wedding Ring by Susan Mallery – This is not a new story. It is a new release of a book that was released first in 1998. That said it is a very nice story. I love Molly who thought she was weak but was in fact very strong. Dylan Black was the bad boy who really was never very bad. From the wrong side of the tracks he has worked hard and is now a success. Even though they both have problems together they are able to put them aside while they go on the adventure Dylan promised 14 year-old Molly years ago. A very nice story.

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Monday, December 26, 2016


Spooning Daisy
by Maggie McConnell


GENRE:   Contemporary romance (romantic comedy)


Her mango chutney is exquisite; her blueberry sauce to die for. But Chef de Cuisine Daisy Moon is a woman without a kitchen after a "bit of trouble" at her last job. Now blacklisted from Seattle to San Francisco, Daisy's sole job offer is from Wild Man Lodge in Otter Bite, Alaska, where the end of the road is just the beginning.



Max cocked his head at her. No siree, Bob. Daisy Moon was not easy. She was like a 1500 piece puzzle, where all the pieces are really tiny, and similar in shape and color, but are nonetheless different, and it would take weeks, maybe even months, just to get the edges put together. 

"Don't look so surprised," she said. "I know I'm not exactly laid back. Okay, maybe that's being kind," she responded to Max’s smile. "But I'm an incredible cook. And a really good speller. Not to mention having a humongous vocabulary. I came in fourth in the national spelling bee championship when I was fourteen."

Without meaning to, Max pictured Daisy at fourteen, in a prim white blouse and a demure plaid skirt with her hair tied back in a ribbon, triumphantly spelling words like...concupiscence.

"Do I know what men want, or what?" Now Daisy herself.

Taking the cue, Max leaned into her and spoke sincerely, but resisted the urge to cup her hand.

"Somewhere there is a man who wants a pretty redhead who's difficult and a great cook with a really humongous vocabulary who can spell...and next time it won't be a cross-dressing felon."


AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Golden Heart nominee Maggie McConnell spent her childhood overseas as the daughter of US diplomats. Attending college in Illinois, she earned a BA in Art and an MBA while working at the local humane shelter. At 26, she packed her dog and cat into a Ford truck and drove the Alcan Highway to Alaska, where she spent 23 years exploring The Last Frontier in a single-engine Cessna. A vegan and animal rights advocate, Maggie provides a sanctuary on her Arizona ranch for all creatures great and small, but her immediate family includes dog Molly, cat Sara, horses Quinn and Teena, and an ever-growing dynasty of chipmunks. Every year, like the Gray Whale, Maggie returns to Alaska.

NOTE: Spooning Daisy will be on sale for 99 ¢ until January 2, 2017


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Maggie McConnell will be awarding a Kate Spade necklace: enamel "forget-me-not" blue flowers (U.S. only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas - December 25, 2016

My Christmas wish and hope for the next year is that we take a lesson from the cat and mouse sleeping in peace together.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Look Back Wednesday - December 21, 2016



  A Little Christmas Jingle (Man of the Month, #1)A Little Christmas Jingle by Michele Dunaway
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Little Christmas Jingle adds another book to the feel good romances that come out around Christmas. This one features a dog but in a very different way. Jingle has been abused and is in danger of dying when Jack Donovan gets him to Kat Saunders vet practice. This is not cute dog story; in fact it is just the opposite. There is a very strong message about how much pet abuse there is in the world.

Dunaway does a great job of getting that message across without it getting in the way of the romance that is also at the heart of the story. Both Kat and Jack are easy characters to like. Both are devoted to their jobs and the jobs are what bring them together. While they have that in common their views on Christmas are very different. Kat loves it and Jack really hates it especially this year when he is Mr. December on a charity calendar.

One of the fun parts of the story occurs when Jack really messes up the relationship between he and Kat and has to prove he can get into the Christmas Spirit. There are other problems as well but in the end Jack and Kat get to their HEA.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Short and Sweet Book Reviews #65 - Resisting Miss Merryweather by Emily Larkin, Ocean of Storms by Christopher Mari,The Maverick Cowboy by Kate Pearce

Resisting Miss Merryweather (Baleful Godmother, #2)Resisting Miss Merryweather by Emily Larkin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher in return for an honest review.  Miss Merryweather like Charlotte before her has a Baleful Godmother. Unlike Charlotte, she knows what will happen on the 25th birthday. That is when the Baleful Godmother will appear and offer her one gift but she has to be very careful what she asks for. Some things you can ask for will do more harm than good. While she is waiting she meets Sir Barnaby Ware. He was in the first book, Unmasking Miss Appleby, as were Charlotte and Lord Cosgrove. This is about forgiveness and going on with life. Just as Merry thinks that she will get her HEA something happens to Barnaby and she must ask for just the right thing to save the day. This is one where you really need to read book one to understand all of the current running though the story. This has fast become one of my favorite series and I am looking forward to the next book in the series. There is a sample of that book at the end of Resisting Miss Merryweather.

Ocean of StormsOcean of Storms by Christopher Mari
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of Ocean of Storms in return for an honest review. I found some interesting concepts in Ocean of Storms but I also found some very poor writing and editing. I was often lost in long explanations about who and why and what worked and what did not work while the plot just stood still. I think this could have been a very good story if it was edited down to focus on the actions and the plot instead of pages and pages of description that did not add to the story.

The Maverick Cowboy (Morgan Ranch, #2)The Maverick Cowboy by Kate Pearce
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started this series this month and when the second book in the series came up on Netgalley I grabbed it. It does not come out until January but I could not wait to read it and see how the next Morgan boy reacted to coming back to the ranch. Blue was in book one and I knew who he was going to fall for after he insulted her. In book two he has to work hard for forgiveness. Of course, Jenna has her own problems. Her family think she is an under-achiever and keeps putting her down. I liked how dedicated she was to her job and how she eventually got her HEA with Blue. This series has a familiar theme - men coming home after being gone for a long time. There is a reason it is familiar. With a good author it makes for some really good stories. The Morgan Ranch series is no exception.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

The Trouble With Dukes by Grace Burrowes Release Week Blitz and Giveaway




Author: Grace Burrowes
Series: Windham Brides, #1
On Sale: December 20, 2016
Publisher: Forever
Mass Market: $7.99 USD
eBook: $6.99 USD


This first novel in a new Regency series from USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes is a spinoff of her highly popular Windham series.


The gossips whisper that the new Duke of Murdoch is a brute, a murderer, and even worse—a Scot. They say he should never be trusted alone with a woman. But Megan Windham sees in Hamish something different, someone different.

No one was fiercer at war than Hamish MacHugh, though now the soldier faces a whole new battlefield: a London Season. To make his sisters happy, he'll take on any challenge—even letting their friend Miss Windham teach him to waltz. Megan isn't the least bit intimidated by his dark reputation, but Hamish senses that she's fighting battles of her own. For her, he'll become the warrior once more, and for her, he might just lose his heart.


“The hero of THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES reminds me of Mary Balogh's charming men, and the heroine brings to mind Sarah MacLean's intelligent, fiery women... This is a wonderfully funny, moving romance, not to be missed!” —Eloisa James, New York Times bestselling author of My American Duchess

“Grace Burrowes writes from the heart--with warmth, humor, and a generous dash of sensuality, her stories are unputdownable! If you're not reading Grace Burrowes you're missing the very best in today's Regency Romance!” —Elizabeth Hoyt, New York Times bestselling author

“Sexy heroes, strong heroines, intelligent plots, enchanting love stories...Grace Burrowes's romances have them all.” —Mary Balogh, New York Times bestselling author

THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES has everything Grace Burrowes's many fans have come to adore: a swoonworthy hero, a strong heroine, humor, and passion. Her characters not only know their own hearts, but share them with fearless joy. Grace Burrowes is a romance treasure.” —Tessa Dare, New York Times bestselling author

THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES is captivating! It has everything I love in a book--a sexy Scotsman, a charming heroine, witty banter, plenty of humor, and lots of heart.” —Jennifer Ashley, New York Times bestselling author of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie


The Trouble With Dukes, #1
Too Scot To Handle, #2


From the start it was fun to visit with the Windham's again. Most of the original cast from the first series make an appearance in the book and try to play a part in the match making. Once again there are Windham daughters who need husbands. While the main Windham family have all found their HEA there are some cousins who have not and they surely cannot find their soul mate without help. That help is something that Megan Windham does not want or need. When she meets Hamish MacHugh she finds just what she is looking for. She sees the man behind the gossip and she likes what she sees. He sees someone who can be his salvation but their path is not without problems. Look for a great story full of tension and romance. One of my very favorite things is how Hamish manages to change the titles of the Windham men to something similar but funny. I got several good laughs out of those scenes. Burrowes does a good job of injecting humor into some of the serious moments in the story. Megan is just the first of 3 sisters to find that perfect husband. I look forward to more great scenes with all of the Windham's.


Grace Burrowes grew up in central Pennsylvania and is the sixth out of seven children. She discovered romance novels when in junior high (back when there was such a thing), and has been reading them voraciously ever since. Grace has a bachelor's degree in political science, a bachelor of music in music history, (both from Pennsylvania State University); a master's degree in conflict transformation from Eastern Mennonite University; and a juris doctor from the National Law Center at the George Washington University.

Grace writes Georgian, Regency, Scottish Victorian, and contemporary romances in both novella and novel lengths. She's a member of Romance Writers of America, and enjoys giving workshops and speaking at writers' conferences. She also loves to hear from her readers, and can be reached through her website or her social channels.


I asked Grace what her top five places to travel for inspiration were and here are her answers.?

Between the pages of a good book. I have learned so much, had such fun, and gathered up so many cool ideas by reading. Who needs frequent flier miles when we have all these lovely books?

Anywhere on horseback. When I’m in the saddle, my mind works differently. I might arrive to the barn stuck for where my manuscript should go next, but as I’m trotting this way and that, nonverbally communicating with my trusty steed, ideas bubble up. I love that. I think for many people, this happens while jogging, gardening, or otherwise being absorbed in a pleasure.

The United Kingdom. Many of my books are set in the UK, and I go there every chance I get. I never know what snippet of conversation I’ll overhear, road sign I’ll spot, or joke I’ll be told that simply MUST find its way into a book.

Roadtrips! I’ve driven from DC to San Diego and back more times than I can count. Behind the wheel of my truck, rolling down the interstates, I often get to thinking, and thinking leads to imagining, and that leads to interesting books.

Armstrong Redwoods State Nature Reserve (California). I love big trees, and the citizens of this forest are very big and very old. They humble me and put my little worries into perspective. I can hear myself think when I’m around big trees, and I’m less anxious. I don’t know why that is, but it’s been true about me from little up.


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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Short and Sweet Book Reviews #64 - Winter's Child by Margaret Maron, The Cowboys's Christmas Bride by Patricia Johns, Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt

Winter's Child (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #12)Winter's Child by Margaret Maron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Deborah Knott Mysteries are a new series that I just recently discovered. I have not been able to read them in order but find that I don't mind skipping around. In Winter's Child Deborah has just married Sheriff Deputy Dwight Bryan. I missed the courtship in the earlier books but had no trouble following the story. I have found each book can stand-alone. The mystery here starts when Cal calls Dwight wanting him show up at his school the next day. It turns out Cal's mother did not come home the night before and then someone takes Cal. There are a lot of red herrings along the way. Both Deborah and Dwight start to look for both Cal and his mother. There is the mystery with Cal and a murder at home that has to be solved. Each keeps the plot moving and the story fun to read or in my case listen too.

The Cowboy's Christmas BrideThe Cowboy's Christmas Bride by Patricia Johns
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book I have read by Patricia Johns and I enjoyed it. The characters all interesting and the story line a great set up for two people to change their opinion of the other. Andy Granger did a lot of hiding what he was really like growing up in Hope, Montana. Dakota Mason never liked him but on a cattle drive she begins to realize there more to Andy than she thought. The big problem is something that Andy did in the past that had unexpected consequences. Can the past be overcome and a HEA arrive for the two. This is Harlequin so that is a forgone conclusion. A nice easy read for just before Christmas.

Duke of Pleasure (Maiden Lane, #11)Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have not missed one book in the Maiden Lane series. while I did not warm to or really like the characters in Duke of Sin, the previous book in the series, I loved the characters in Duke of Pleasure. When I read Hugh Fitzroy, the Duke of Kyle's name I knew he was a bastard but he is an acknowledged one. Alf, on the other hand is just a St. Giles orphan. What makes her special? She is the Ghost of St Giles at night and passes as a young boy in the day time. Her path crosses Hugh's when she saves him form an attack one night. Turns out someone is trying to kill Hugh and he turns to Alf for help. The story turns really interesting when he discovers that Alf is a woman. There is danger, mystery and romance all mixed up in The Duke of Pleasure. In addition there is a hook for the next book in the series. As long as Hoyt keeps writing Maiden Lane story I will keep reading.

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Ties of Smoke by Claudia Herring - Excerpt Tour and Giveaway

Ties of Smoke
by Claudia Herring


GENRE: Fantasy



Lady Lavinia Bramley is master of a Djinni.

Lavinia runs away from her husband to make a life with the djinni Yasir, but it’s not what she thought, not pearls and flying carpets and wishes come true . . .

Her desperate efforts to find happiness with Yasir are foiled by her husband’s reappearance, murder attempts by the jealous magician who cursed Yasir to the urn, and Yasir’s desire for revenge.

Lavinia finds love, and loyalty, are as ephemeral as ties of smoke.


EXCERPTS (Exclusive Excerpt):

Chapter 36, pages 1-2

“Milady.” Fleming curtsied and cleared her throat. “There’s a . . . a . . . visitor. In the kitchen. Mr. Dobson wouldn’t let her in the front hall, sent her ’round to the servant’s entrance. In this weather.” She made a clucking sound with her tongue.

“She’s wrapped in a hooded blue cape, drippin’ wet. Insists on seeing the lady of the house. Gives her name—a Miss Simza. Even swathed in that plain cape, with them dark eyes, she’s got gypsy written all over her.” Fleming looked expectantly at her mistress, then frowned. “Milady, is it the nausea what ails you again?” Fleming spoke softly as one would to a child. “Jesus, Joseph and Mary, you’re pale as milk.”

Lavinia felt her maid’s sturdy arm wrap around her waist. She clutched her stomach as Fleming helped her to a chair.

Lord in heaven. Simza. Here. At Bramley House.

Lavinia had done what the Chovihano asked. She hadn’t contacted Simza, hadn’t mentioned her suspicions that the gypsies stole her baby, hadn’t tried to find the gypsies. What had she done that would bring the lace romni to her home?

A lace romni to fulfill the Chovihano’s curse.

Blurry specks fuzzed the edges of her vision. She put her head in her hands. The buzzing in her ears almost drowned out the sound of the rain outside.

“Breathe slowly milady. Try and quit gasping like that. Milady? Milady?”

Someone was talking. Stop. Stop. That horrible buzzing. Like bees in the bushes before she encountered the Chovihano. She moaned as Fleming pressed the wet compress on her forehead.

“No. It’s too . . . too cold.”

“The cold will help. I have the bowl if you feel sick. Let me settle you a bit more comfortably.” Fleming bustled around, slipped a thin pillow behind Lavinia’s back and pressed the cold cloth against her forehead again.

Lavinia shivered. From the chill of the compress or from Simza waiting downstairs? She placed her hand on her chest, tried to breathe—


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Claudia Herring aspired to be a baton twirler when she was five and an archaeologist at thirteen. When she became a graphic designer and an author of fantasy, she decided she'd hit upon the perfect compromise.

Along the way she worked as a gift wrapper, a server in a Mexican restaurant at an amusement park (where she rode the Black Dragon at midnight—an actual ride, not a sexual allusion) and an illustrator in medical graphics (where they featured videos on wound healing during lunch) at the Texas Medical Center.

Her novel, His Master's Bride, a historical fantasy with romantic elements set in Regency England, won first prize in the Houston Writer's Guild Novel Competition. Ties of Smoke is the second in the series The Djinn Chronicles.

When she's not delving into the world of the Djinn, Claudia is practicing yoga to go to that hushed space where she imagines and plots her next fantasy novel.

If you like Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series or Carol Berg’s Soul Mirror series you'll love Her Master’s Bride and Ties of Smoke.


Twitter: @claudiakherring




Claudia will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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