Book Reviews

Book Review: Rust and Stardust

Rust and Stardust, by T. Greenwood

Publication: St. Martin’s Press (August 7, 2018)

RustAbout the book: 

Camden, NJ, 1948. When 11-year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth’s, she has no way of knowing that 52-year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute—unless she does as he says.

This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San Jose, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.

Based on the experiences of real-life kidnapping victim Sally Horner and her captor, whose story shocked the nation and is rumored to have inspired Vladimir Nabokov to write his controversial and iconic Lolita, this heart-pounding story by award-winning author T. Greenwood, at last, gives a voice to Sally herself.

*My Review*

Have you ever had something sitting and patiently waiting on your Kindle and then for some reason you decide that today is the day I will finally read that? Somehow, (probably because I wasn’t signed up for a blog tour or other promotional events) Rust and Stardust has been doing just that, sitting and waiting to be read – but today I finally dug in. What an idiot I have been by not reading this sooner! This tragic but beautifully written novel is fiction, yet is based on true events involving Frank LaSalle kidnapping Sally Horner in 1948, as well as, their years together while she was held captive. Told from multiple points of view, author T. Greenwood has created an engaging and addictive novel about how Frank came across Sally in the first place, as well as, the effects of the kidnapping had on Sally, her family, classmates, and many more characters that are introduced along the way. This heart-wrenching and often horrific story about Sally’s kidnapping and subsequent sexual abuse has also been assumed as some inspiration for Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. Greenwood quotes Nabokov in her novel, an aside from Humbert Humbert, which historians and critics have suggested is a clue regarding Sally inspiring his story, “Had I done to Dolly, perhaps, what Frank LaSalle, a fifty-year-old mechanic, had done to eleven-year-old Sally Horner in 1948?”

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I much prefer this fictional account by T. Greenwood, however, because rather than Sally’s story serving as inspiration for a novel of similar subject matter, it feels as though Greenwood has brought life to Sally and her story.

First, despite the difficult moments in this novel, in which there are many, I absolutely loved this one. Like, “there should be more than a 5-star rating” loved it. Greenwood’s writing blew me away with her ability to include so many different first-person points of view, yet still seeming to honestly capture what they may have truly felt. Moreover, her vivid imagery and description were amazing, specifically as she detailed Sally’s mother Ella and her downward spiral over the years that Sally was gone, and even after Sally returned. There were several moments where I felt I was in the room with this woman, in her rundown home, void of any family members that had been there previously. Her pain, guilt, and physical sorrow was not only evident but seemed to jump off of the pages into my heart and soul. 

I could go on an on for days about Rust and Stardust. At some point within this novel, Greenwood manages to touch on almost all of the possible human emotions that we can experience. However, despite the horror and loss within the novel, I loved how the ending beautifully brought the symbolism regarding the name of the novel, the cover, Sally’s on-going experiences, her death, and the thoughts and feelings of those left to mourn her full circle. Specifically, Ella has a memory regarding her late husband on the fourth of July that when combined with the narrative of Sally’s death, almost gives the reader a peaceful feeling in the end.

Whether you are a fan of historical and/or biographical fiction or not, Rust and Stardust is a must-read. Greenwood’s writing is reason enough to dig into this one, but all of the unusual and fascinating characters that Sally meets throughout her nightmarish journey make this a compelling novel that you will not soon forget. This is hands-down one of my top three reads of the year. 

*Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing this copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Purchase Rust and Stardust on Amazon US, Amazon CA, or Amazon UK.

Learn more about author T. Greenwood.

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Blog Tour, Book Reviews

Release Blitz and Review: His for Now (The Byrne Brothers Book 1)

 

  
Title: His For Now
Series: The Byrne Brothers #1

Author: Sofia Tate

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 17, 2018
Blurb
Ronan Byrne, the oldest of the Byrne Brothers, is the hottest bachelor in the small town of blossom, Nevada. With his jet black hair, sapphire eyes, and a body sculpted by manual labor and not a personal trainer, every woman wants him in her bed. But he wants a challenge, not a woman who fawns all over him. However, with the
financial trouble his family’s dude ranch is having, he has no inclination to date, let alone get married.
Then he meets a mystery blonde who won’t give him the time of day, and he is instantly drawn to her. She is Blakely Pierce, a Manhattan businesswoman who is in town to serve as maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding. With her demanding career, she has no interest in romance, but unbeknownst to her, Ronan is the best man at the same wedding to be held at the ranch. The more she ignores him, the more he is curious about her and why she keeps running away from him. He refuses to give up on Blakely because he knows she is worth the fight, but he only has so long until it’s time for Blakely to return to her life in New York City.

 

**My Review**

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Sofia Tate’s His For Now, (The Byrne Brothers book 1). This romance is about Ronan Byrne and Blakely Pierce who meet on his family’s dude ranch in the small town of Blossom, Nevada where Ronan is best man and Blakely is maid of honor. Ronan has always wanted to work on his family’s ranch and is committed to making the ranch profitable once again. Blakely went to an ivy league school and is a successful project management consultant for a huge firm and on her way to make partner. Not expecting to find romance in the small town and haunted by hurtful parts of her past, Blakely is reluctant to trust Ronan and admit her feelings for him. But luckily, Ronan is just as stubborn as Blakely and knows that he wants her in his life.

I enjoyed this sexy but sweet romance and especially loved the setting of Ronan’s family’s ranch. I originally loved both main characters, but then struggled with Blakely and how she was blatantly rude to Ronan many times. Once her past experiences growing up and her body issues were revealed, however, I was able to sympathize with her and my heart broke at some of the things she had endured. Coupled with her overbearing, impossible-to-please father made Blakely even more unsure of herself and made it more difficult to trust Ronan’s feelings.

Ronan was incredibly patient with Blakely as he tried to get to know her better, but also frustrated me with his stubbornness at times. I hate to admit it but I liked his character much more than Blakely, simply because of her pessimistic attitude towards herself and the possibility of happiness. I absolutely identified with her experiences of being teased about her weight, but I felt like it was time she tries to move on from childhood scars rather than spend so much energy dwelling on the painful memories.

Other than my occasional frustrations with Blakely, I found this to be an engaging and quick read. I absolutely adored the ending which left my heart feeling happy and definitely believing in love!

*Thanks to the author, publisher and Give Me Books for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
Author Bio
Growing up in a bilingual family in Maplewood, NJ, Sofia Tate was a shy, good girl who attended Catholic school and never misbehaved. Now, she is a proud author of contemporary erotic romance. She graduated from Marymount College in Tarrytown, NY, with a degree in International Studies and a minor in Italian. She also holds a MATESOL from New York University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Adelphi University. She has lived in London and Prague. A former resident of New York City, Sofia currently lives in New York’sHudson Valley.
Author Links

 

Book Reviews

Book Review: Adèle A Novel

Adèle: A Novel, by Leila Slimani

Publication: Penguin Books; February 5, 2019

AdeleAbout the book: 

From the bestselling author of The Perfect Nanny, her prizewinning novel about a sex-addicted woman in Paris

Adèle appears to have a perfect life: She is a successful journalist in Paris who lives in a beautiful apartment with her surgeon husband and their young son. But underneath the surface, she is bored by her job and her marriage–and consumed by an insatiable need to have sex. Driven less by pleasure than compulsion, she organizes her day around her extramarital affairs, arriving late to work and lying to her husband about where she’s been until she becomes ensnared in a trap of her own making. Suspenseful, erotic, and daring, Adèle is a captivating exploration of addiction, sexuality, and one woman’s quest to feel alive.

**My Review**

Wow! I saw this recently on NetGalley and was intrigued, but Adèle has truly blown me away. This quick read tells about a woman, wife, and mother Adele that for numerous reasons is unsatisfied in her life with her husband Richard, their son Lucien, and her career as a journalist. Whether getting a sitter for her son for a few hours while her physician husband is working, using her friend Lauren as a cover-up, or on business trips around the world – Adele is addicted to sex and more often than not, with men she doesn’t know. As if watching a drug addict with a craving, the reader witnesses Adele’s physical and emotional longing for sex, as well as, how it slowly starts to destroy her. 

Let me begin by saying that often, I struggle with translations of novels and was a bit reluctant when I realized that this was the English translation of a French novel. However, whoever was responsible for this translation did an incredible job and I wish I could find their name to give them proper credit. Leila Slimani’s writing is exquisite, beautiful, emotional, raw, erotic, and heart-breaking all at once. Despite some of the very blunt and graphic parts of this novel, it felt as if I were lying back and relaxing while someone read to me. I can’t even find the words to describe the beauty of her writing.

Now, as for Adele herself, I found myself going back and forth between hating her, feeling sympathy for her, and cheering her on in hopes of her finding some sort of inner peace and happiness. Through flashbacks from her childhood, the readers learn about events, observations, etc. that may have influenced Adele and her addiction to the cold and detached sex she craved. But I feel as if it was a combined cycle of events, as well as, some clear mental illness. Richard is kind to her and provides well for their family, but they just never connect. She loves her three-year-old son Lucien, but goes back and forth between craving and resenting him. For the majority of the novel, we hear Adele’s point of view that is at times both fascinating and horrifying, but the one thing that is clear is that she craves the unknown, risk, and being touched. 

When the book seamlessly shifts into more of Richard’s point of view, I was confused, frustrated, and often sympathetic – yet I still don’t have a clear picture of how he truly felt about Adele. Without giving spoilers, several things change after Richard learns about his wife and her obsession with being unfaithful, but it was unclear whether he loved her, if she loved him, or if it became a game of control and submission. 

Adele is not a mystery, romance, suspense, or any other clear genre. If you are a reader that needs a clear and definite resolution, then this may not be the novel for you. Despite the outstanding writing, language, and imagery I actually considered giving up on this novel very early on because I decided that I wasn’t interested in reading about a habitual cheater. However, I have never been so glad to carry on and commit to anything that I have read. This is a novel that I will think about for quite some time. I’ll wonder what became of Richard and Adele’s marriage and family. I’ll wonder about a very odd scene with Adele when her father passes away. I’ll wonder what combination of life experiences causes someone to need the things she did and behave the way she did. But as far as writing, originality, language, and depth – this is the best novel I’ve read in a very long time. 

*Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Blog Tour, Book Reviews, Giveaway

Blog tour, review, & giveaway: Love Like Ours


NEW RELEASE……..
Talia Dalton lives her life on cruise control. Despite her successful career as a professor, she prefers protecting her broken heart to taking chances. She’s calm, cool, collected, and steady. Until the morning she takes her eyes off that familiar road and almost runs over the sexiest man she’s ever seen. It may not be the best way to start the day, but it might be the type of shake-up she needs.

Male dancer Derek Grant has goals, and nothing is going to get in the way of achieving them. As a graduate student and the sole caretaker of his ailing father, he hasn’t much time for relationships. Then Talia crashes into his life. Sweet, pretty—and so buttoned-up that he can’t wait to help her cut loose.

For Derek, falling in love was a beautiful accident waiting to happen. And it might be exactly what Talia needs—if she’s willing to let go of the past and embrace every surprise Derek has to offer.

**My Review**

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Melissa Foster’s latest in her Sugar Lake series – Love Like Ours! Prepare your heart for this one because it will be bursting at the seams while you read this one. Talia Dalton is a professor at the local university and thanks to the meddling and distracting of her family on the phone one morning, she almost runs over the very sexy Derek Grant. Derek is a grad student, bartender, occasional male dancer, and most importantly – the caretaker for his father Jonah who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. After their initial, almost run-in, they luckily keep crossing paths until Talia is struggling to keep her feelings at bay for the amazing Derek. Between her being a professor, him being a male dancer, and the demands of caring for Jonah, Talia and Dalton have to face potential obstacles head on as their attractions and feelings grow. 

First of all, I challenge anyone that reads this novel to not fall in love with Derek. I assure you that it’s not possible. Sexy, smart, caring, loving, talented, and so on… He’s just incredible. Don’t get me wrong, Talia is great, but between the two of them, I feel that he is the stronger character. After meeting and finally acknowledging their attraction to one another, they have several issues to deal with, especially the fact that Derek lives and takes care of his father that is struggling in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Talia also has ongoing issues with Derek filling in at the bar as one of their male dancers, despite his explaining to her how much the money helps in saving for his dream of opening an adult day care center for others suffering from Alzheimer’s. I mean really, Talia, could he have a bigger heart or be more swoon-worthy? 

Typical of Melissa Foster’s novels, Love Like Ours is romantic, sexy, has the perfect amount of conflict, and plenty of laughs that make this a wonderful read. However, I feel that the best part of this novel is the family aspect. Talia’s incredible family just automatically includes Derek, Jonah, and the wonderful stand-in mom/caretaker that helps with Jonah. Her Dad and brother jump in ready to help with possible renovations and business ideas for Derek’s adult day care center. Talia’s sweet 5-year-old nephew jumps right in spending time with Jonah like they’ve been family forever, and everyone just accepts the situation with Jonah and all spend time together so beautifully that I cannot begin to count the number of times I reached for a Kleenex. And just wait for when Derek gives Talia’s mom the birthday gift that he made for her. I’m embarrassed to say that I wasn’t just teary-eyed, I was crying so much that my hubby came into the room to make sure everything was o.k. But they were happy tears!

I have no idea how Melissa Foster continues to create such incredible characters and stories that are so touching and unforgettable, but what a gift she is! Her novels make you want that amazing romance, make you want to be more loving and caring towards others, and just make you want to strive to have the happiest life possible. Once again, I am in awe of her talent, creativity, and passion that result in novel after novel that touches my heart. Love Like Ours represents and embodies everything that I love about her writing and exceeds all expectations of a contemporary romance novel.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Beck Valley Books for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Available to buy from…

Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Paperback Audiobook

This book is being published by Montlake (an Amazon imprint) and won’t be available on other e-book retailers, but you can download a FREE e-reader app to read it HERE (or order the paperback)

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LLO (4)

Also available in Sugar Lake Series

The Real Thing (Sugar Lake Book 1)

Fall in love on the shores of Sugar Lake in the small town of Sweetwater with Willow Dalton and Zane Walker.

This sassy, spirited baker is fine with heat—but is her fake fiancé too hot to handle?

Bakery owner Willow Dalton’s friendship with Zane Walker has always been a bit complicated. Now a scrumptiously hot A-list actor, Zane’s always had a reputation as a player. He’s arrogant, and he’s definitely not boyfriend material. Sure, he did Willow a favor by agreeing to take her virginity before college, but is that reason enough to go along with a fake engagement a decade later—even if it comes with a real diamond ring?

Zane should have known better. Nothing involving Willow has ever been easy. Still, he knows her better than anyone, and becoming America’s hottest new leading man means cleaning up his reputation. An “engagement” to curvy, sass-mouthed Willow is the perfect PR move . . . provided no one gets hurt.

Now Zane and Willow’s little white lie has turned into an irresistible recipe for sweet temptation. And soon no one will be able to tell the difference between their fake engagement or the real thing—including them.

Available to buy from …

Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Paperback Audiobook

This book is being published by Montlake (an Amazon imprint) and won’t be available on other ebook retailers, but you can download a FREE e-reader app to read it HERE (or order the paperback)

Only for You (Sugar Lake Book 2)

Love only works when your heart is in the right place. Hers could be right next door…

Single mom Bridgette Dalton doesn’t have time to stop and smell the roses—not even in her own flower shop. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t noticed Bodhi Booker. Her ruggedly handsome next-door neighbor would be the perfect candidate for a no-strings fling. Having loved and lost, Bridgette’s not ready to hand over her heart…but she could use a distraction.

Bodhi has one rule: never leave anyone behind. As a special operative, he knows that each new mission is more dangerous than the last. He’s never made a promise of forever to a woman, not even to the beautiful widow who has him tied in knots. And if there were anyone who could tempt him into putting down roots, it would be Bridgette and her adorable son.

But as his next deployment nears, they make a startling discovery. Their passion, meant only for the here and now, might already be blossoming into something more…


Available to buy from…

Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Paperback Audiobook

This book is being published by Montlake (an Amazon imprint) and won’t be available on other ebook retailers, but you can download a FREE e-reader app to read it HERE (or order the paperback)

SugarLake_SeriesGraphic1 (1)

About the author

Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance and women’s fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Readers adore Melissa’s fun, flirty, and sinfully sexy, award-winning big-family romance collection, LOVE IN BLOOM featuring the Snow Sisters, Bradens, Remingtons, Ryders, Seaside Summer, Harborside Nights, Wild Boys and Bad Boys After Dark, and the Montgomerys. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented– perfect beach reads for contemporary romance lovers who enjoy reading about loyal, wealthy heroes and smart, sassy heroines with complex and relatable issues.

Melissa also writes sweet and clean romance under the pen name Addison Cole.

Melissa has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Her interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.

Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on Facebook
or her personal website.

Never miss a brand new release, special promotions or inside gossip again by simply signing up to receive your newsletter from Melissa.

Find Melissa on the following sites….

Website Facebook Twitter Google+ Goodreads Pinterest Amazon Author Page

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I received this book through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own.

And now for the author’s giveaway –

Bayside Desires (Bayside Summers Book 1) by [Foster, Melissa]

Win Bayside Desires ebook – 2 winners!

Ending on Sunday 30th September at 11.59pm EST

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Cover Reveal: End of Day (A Hode’s Hill Novel)

Book cover for End of Day, mystery/suspense novel by Mae Clair shows old dilapidated church with bell tower and a cemetery in the background overgrown with weeds

Release Date: January 15, 2019
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Supernatural Thriller
Publisher: Kensington Publishing • Lyrical Underground Imprint

BLURB:
The past is never truly buried…

Generations of Jillian Cley’s family have been tasked with a strange duty—tending the burial plot of Gabriel Vane, whose body was the first to be interred in the Hode’s Hill cemetery. Jillian faithfully continues the long-standing tradition—until one October night, Vane’s body is stolen from its resting place. Is it a Halloween prank? Or something more sinister?

As the descendants of those buried in the churchyard begin to experience bizarre “accidents,” Jillian tries to uncover the cause. Deeply empathic, she does not make friends easily, or lightly. But to fend off the terror taking over her town, she must join forces with artist Dante DeLuca, whose sensitivity to the spirit world has been both a blessing and a curse. The two soon realize Jillian’s murky family history is entwined in a tragic legacy tracing back to the founding of Hode’s Hill. In order to set matters right, an ancient wrong must be avenged…or Jillian, Dante, and everyone in town will forever be at the mercy of a vengeful spirit.

End of Day can be read as a stand-alone novel or as a follow-up to book one of the Hode’s Hill series, Cusp of Night.

End of Day is available for pre-order through this link
and available to add to your Goodreads to-be-read list here.

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:

Amazon | BookBub | Newsletter Sign-Up
Website & Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | All Social Media

 

Bio Box 8-27-2018

Book Reviews

Book Review: All We Ever Wanted: A Novel

All We Ever Wanted: A Novel,

by Emily Giffin

Publication: Ballantine Books (June 26, 2018)

 

all we ever wantedAbout the book: 

Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton.

Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenaged girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.

**My Review**

So, I’m a bit late on this one, having downloaded it to my Kindle months ago. I’m not sure why I let it sit for so long because once I started this one, I was completely hooked. All We Ever Wanted tells the story of the wealthy, upstanding Nashville family, The Brownings. Kirk and his wife Nina are extremely proud when they learn that their son Finch has been accepted into Princeton. However, while at a charity gala one evening, they learn from one of the gossipy women in their circle that Finch has taken an inappropriate picture of a fellow student at his high-profile private school, and that it is spreading among the community like wildfire. Tom Volpe is a single Dad working extra jobs and doing his best to raise his teenage daughter, Lyla. She attends Windsor Academy with Finch thanks to financial aid and doesn’t exactly fit in with the rich and privileged students at the school, but when Finch’s photograph of Lyla has circulated around, Tom aggressively defends his daughter, demands repercussions for Finch’s actions, and finds a surprising ally in the process. 

I absolutely loved this novel. I mean, LOVED it. Emily Giffin’s characters were completely amazing – whether good or bad – and the main conflict of the novel is something that could happen to any parent. I can’t count how many times I have made comments such as, “my child would never do anything like that,” assuming that I had raised him/her “right” and they just wouldn’t think of doing this or that. In this novel, those assumptions are completely upset and proved to be untrue when the popular, wealthy, intelligent, and charming Finch takes a photo of Lyla and then captions it with a comment even more inappropriate than the photo itself. However, once the photo is shared and each family begins dealing with the aftermath and consequences, lines are blurred, desperate measures are taken to fix everything, and it essentially becomes a battle of morals and what is right and wrong. Add in several lies, omissions, some manipulation and you can guess how things go.

I would say that the major theme of the novel revolves around the fact that assuming things about others – whether loved ones or complete strangers – is a careless way of thinking and unfortunately, can lead to a great deal of disappointment, anger, and heartbreak. Nina not only learns things about her son and his morals that are surprising and disappointing, she also recognizes and/or finally faces things about her husband Kirk that she had not seen. Nina and Tom are the moral heroes in this story, Lyla is repeatedly a victim, Kirk learns nothing, and as far as Finch goes, I honestly don’t know if he learned anything from the experience but I don’t want to go into that because of spoilers. 

Faithful followers of my blog know that overall, I prefer romance or more light-hearted women’s fiction than novels such as this, but I cannot praise All We Ever Wanted enough. I think that parents will especially relate to this novel, but anyone that has ever stopped to wonder if their “perfect” life is truly “perfect” will most likely be fascinated by this novel. It’s a page-turner, there are several twists and surprises, but most importantly this one will get you thinking about things that are important. 

*Thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for providing this review copy in exchange for my honest review!

Purchase All We Ever Wanted on Amazon!

 

Book Blitz, Book Reviews, Giveaway

Release Blitz, Review, & Giveaway: Amongst the Wildflowers

 

Title: Amongst the Wildflowers

Series: Fleurs d’amour #3

Author: Amali Rose
Genre: Contemporary Romance/New Adult
Release Date: September 6, 2018
Blurb
Layla Jensen
dreams of true love.
A quiet soul, she
walks through life with one simple goal. Stay invisible in a world where she’s
never felt enough.
After living in
the shadow of her beautiful, vivacious sister and believing she never measured
up, Layla has withdrawn into herself, watching life pass her by.
Enter Ethan Miller.
Confidant, carefree and outgoing, he is the opposite of Layla in every way. He
is also the one person who sees her. Who has always seen her.
With Ethan back in
her life, Layla is reminded of the love she once craved and her heart slowly
comes back to life. But as they fight to make their dream a reality, their
happiness is placed in jeopardy from a threat they never saw coming.
Book 3 in a STANDALONE series.

**My Review**

Welcome to my stop on the release blitz tour for Amongst the Wildflowers by Amali Rose. This story is about Layla and Ethan, best friends since they were four years old, and now reconnecting in their last year of college after years apart. Layla has spent her life feeling average, ugly, unimportant, and so on – except for when she had her best friend by her side. Layla has secretly been in love with Ethan for years but never shared that with her handsome and popular best friend out of fear of rejection and ruining their friendship. However, after Ethan returns and they start rebuilding their friendship, Layla discovers he may relate to her feelings more than she imagined.

This is the third book in the author’s Fleurs d’Amour series and is absolutely my favorite! I loved Skye and Cassidy’s books, but there is just something special about Layla’s story. For any woman that has ever questioned her beauty, charm, talent, and so forth – prepare for Layla to draw you in like no other character. Except for Ethan and her friend Evie, Layla is forced to tolerate a ton of rude and belittling comments about her appearance, and honestly, it infuriated me. However, I also know that these things happen every day and that bullying very easily can carry over to college – although you would think adults would be more mature. Rose’s writing is so realistic and full of such vivid imagery that when Layla is subjected to teasing and bullying I swear I could feel it. The embarrassed blush in her cheeks, fighting back the tears, trying to play it off – I felt as if I were there in person witnessing the mean, inexcusable awkwardness. Was it uncomfortable at times? Yes, it was. However, I mean that as nothing more than a tribute to the fantastic writing and how she made it all seem so real.

On to happier thoughts, fans of contemporary and/or friends-to-lovers romance will completely devour this novel. Ethan is sweet, smart, funny, kind, and romantic. Layla is just an all-around fabulous young woman, despite her inner demons messing with her confidence. Together, they are like steamy fireworks and sweet teddy bear love all wrapped into one perfect package. Add in Ethan’s amazing roommates and Layla’s best (girl) friend Evie and you get a wonderful and realistic cast of characters that make this novel the beauty that it is.

Although technically a series, you do not have to read the first 2 books prior to reading Amongst the Wildflowers. This novel contains subject-matter that is challenging at times, but unfortunately, a reality in our world. But the difficult parts are just a small percentage of the novel that is overwhelmingly romantic and moving. I can’t recommend this one enough, add it to your TBR!

*Many thanks to the author and Give Me Books for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Purchase Links
99c for a limited time
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
Also Available
Only 99c!
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
Author Bio
Amali Rose is an Australian author, and former blogger, who
released her debut novella in 2017.
A self-confessed bookworm, her love affair with the written word began as a
child, with The Magic Faraway Tree. Her tastes have grown and evolved
over the years, and after stumbling into the indie community a few years ago,
she discovered her passion for romance with a side of smut.

When not reading or writing Amali enjoys baking, yoga, cheesy pop music &
netflix marathons; and believes strongly that pink, puppies, and chocolate make
the world a better place!

 

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Taste of Air

The Taste of Air, by Gail Cleare

Publication: Red Adept Publishing, LLC (September 22, 2016)

taste of airAbout the book: 

A simple phone call disrupts Nell Williams’s well-ordered life. Her mother, Mary, is in a hospital in Vermont. But her mother is supposed to be safely tucked away in an assisted-living facility in Massachusetts, so Nell can’t fathom why she would be so far from home.

After notifying her sister, Bridget, Nell hops on a plane and rushes to her mother’s side. There, she discovers that her mother has been living a second life. Mary has another home and a set of complex relationships with people her daughters have never met.

When Nell and Bridget delve deeper into their mother’s lakeside hideaway, they uncover a vault of family secrets and the gateway to change for all three women.

**My Review**

Although new to me, this novel was published in 2016 and then I got my hands on it this spring and it’s been patiently awaiting my attention on my Kindle since then. Why on earth I’ve waited for months to read this novel, I will never know. The Taste of Air is such an incredible novel about a mother, her two daughters, and all of the most important people in their lives. Nell and her sister Bridget think that their mother, Mary has been safely and contently living in an assisted living community since after their father passed, but when Nell receives a call that her mother is hospitalized in a small town in Vermont, everything changes. After Nell’s arrival, she learns of a completely separate life that her mother had and never told neither, Nell or Bridget, about. But as Nell and Bridget start putting together the puzzle pieces of their mother’s life, they each discover a new level of happiness that they never imagined. 

Mary is one of the most remarkable characters that I have read about. In her younger days, she was young and feisty as she went to Vietnam as a nurse, engaged to Nell and Bridget’s father, and ready to make a difference in the world. Later in her adult life, her daughters observed her as a kind and loving mother and a devoted wife. Little did they know, Mary had a second life that, although unconventional to some, was full of friendship, love, and family. In some ways, I hated that she never told the girls herself, but the slow uncovering of Mary’s secrets are what made this such an addictive read. 

Nell and Bridget were close sisters, yet different in so many ways. Nell was quieter and used to a routine with her husband and children, whereas, Bridget was spunkier, on her third marriage, and longing for a piece of her past that she was forced to give away. When Jake and Adam were introduced into the novel, I immediately loved Adam but struggled with Jake. I could tell that beneath his drunken, rough character there was a man with a broken heart – but it took me a while to truly appreciate him. 

The Taste of Air had aspects that I expected, as well as, things that completely surprised me. This wonderful novel is full of warmth, laughter, happiness, tears, and confusion all wrapped into a perfect package. I fell in love with Mary’s flashbacks where Gail Cleare bared the innermost secrets of this woman’s soul, and as her daughters continued to learn more about their mother, I especially loved seeing them go after and embrace their own happiness. 

*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this novel in exchange for my honest review.

Purchase The Taste of Air on Amazon!

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Release Blitz, Giveaway, & Review: Unbreak This Heart

 

Title: Unbreak This Heart
Author: Betty Shreffler
Genre: Contemporary Romance Standalone
Release Date: August 31, 2018
Blurb

Ever since that horrific night, I’d shut men completely out of my life.
I’d gone from the spunky, fun, Alex DeMarco to a broken woman terrified of
intimacy. Easing me back into dating, my best friend sets me up with kickboxing
lessons from my charming and perfectly sculpted instructor—Carter
Maxwell.   

Carter’s goal is to break through my emotional barrier and mold my
heart just like he molds my body, but trusting men is a battle I’m not ready
for. What’s worse is my ex-fiancé, Todd Livingston—the man who tore my heart in
two—wants me back, and as much as I’d like to deny it, the feelings are still
there.
Both men want what I can’t give—my body and my love—and neither is
willing to give up the fight. But only one of them can unbreak this heart of
mine. 

**My Review**

Welcome to my stop on the release blitz for Betty Shreffler’s Unbreak This Heart! This is such an emotionally charged novel that I absolutely fell in love from the first word to the last.

The story centers around a young woman named Alex, who accepts a gift of kickboxing/self-defense lessons from her best friend Jane as she continues recovery from a tragic event a year earlier. When Alex arrives at the gym to begin her classes, she meets Carter – her trainer and friend of Jane and her husband Kyle. The attraction between them is immediate and Carter slowly gains her trust, takes things slow, and allows things to develop between them naturally. But when Alex’s ex-fiancé continues to cause Alex pain, things escalate changing everything and turning the tables where it’s Alex’s turn to be patient with Carter. 

*Let me get this out of the way – there are several times in the novel that through flashbacks or Alex’s narrative that contain events that could be triggers regarding sexual assault*

With that being said, this was such an incredibly beautiful novel that cannot praise enough! Forget some quick romance with an easy HEA, because that is not what this is. Instead, it’s a touching, romantic, and sexy novel about two people finding each other, falling in love, and overcoming some huge obstacles along the way. This isn’t some alpha-male/hero novel because at various points in the novel, both Alex and Carter each serve as the other’s hero. The circumstances are very different, but both Alex and Carter must be patient, understanding, selfless, hopeful, and unconditionally loving with the other as they heal from tragic events. The best friends, Jane and Kyle, are fabulous from beginning to end, as is Carter’s family, but the juicy meat of the novel is Alex and Carter.

This was my first time reading Betty Shreffler, however, she has gained a new fan that cannot wait to read more from this wonderful author. Unbreak This Heart made me laugh and cry, celebrate and become frustrated, fear the worst and then find hope. Bravo to an author that evokes so many emotions, creates such relatable characters, and creates such a romantic and inspiring story!

*Thanks to the author and Give Me Books for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Purchase Links
99c for a limited time
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
Praise for
Unbreak This Heart
“Every single page has you addicted and craving
more.” ~ Goodreads Reviewer
“Holy Moly! This book was an emotional rollercoaster, I
went through every emotion possible. Alex’s story shows that a person can
survive a tragedy, and become a stronger person in the end…This is for sure
one of my top reads of 2018. This is a must read!” ~
Goodreads Reviewer
Author Bio
Betty Shreffler is a bestselling author of paranormal romantic suspense and contemporary romance. She writes sexy and suspenseful stories with hot alphas and
kickass heroines with twists you don’t expect. She also writes beautiful and
sexy romances with tough women and their journeys at finding love. Betty is a
mix of country, nerdy, sassy, sweet and a whole lot of sense of humor. She’s a
fan of photography, reading, watching movies, hiking, traveling, drinking wine,
and all things romantic. She lives with her amazing hubs and five fur babies.
If she’s not writing or doing book events, then you can find her behind the lens of a camera, in the woods, or sipping wine behind a deliciously steamy
book.
Author Links

 

 

Book Blitz, Book Reviews, Giveaway

Release Blitz, Review, & Giveaway: Recovering Beauty

 

Title: Recovering Beauty
Series: The Kane Brothers #2
Author: Gina Azzi
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: August 30, 2018

 

Blurb
She saves him from himself.  But he ruins her
for anyone else.
Taylor:
He shouldn’t smile at me. He shouldn’t even look at me. He’s
cost me more than he’ll ever know yet he’s saved me in ways he’ll never
realize. Carter Kane is different. He sees past me and through me and into me
all at the same time. He makes the damaged parts of me beautiful and the beautiful
parts inconsequential. 

Carter:

She’s the last person I expect to meet here. Wide blue eyes,
full lips, and flowers in her hair, she looks like she could grace the cover of
a magazine. Or dance at Coachella. But when Taylor Clarke unexpectedly catapults
into my life, she flips it upside down, forcing me to see things differently.
Forcing me to admit things I’d rather forget. 
Sometimes life hands us a second chance. A fresh start.
Sometimes life deals us a tragedy that we just manage to recover from.
Sometimes, it’s even beautiful. 

 

**My Review**

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the latest by Gina Azzi, Recovering Beauty. This second book in the Kane Brothers series is the romantic story of Carter and Taylor as they both face and overcome several challenges. Taylor is beautiful, works as a model, volunteers with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, but also must suffer through various events with her father’s associate Barrington, playing nice for the cameras to bring positive press to the company. Carter has a secret that his family does not know about and that he is trying to get away from, despite his father’s manipulation. Just as he’s making progress in changing his life, he and a friend make a mistake that impacts them both, but Taylor most of all. But when fate brings Carter and Taylor together, they both learn things about themselves they never realized, all while slowly giving the other their hearts.

I loved the first Kane brothers book about Jax and Evie so I was so excited to be a part of this tour. I’m not sure if I like this one better, but I loved it just as much. Carter seemed so playful and carefree in book 1, but I quickly learned in this book that the young man is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Like Taylor, who outwardly appeared to have a perfect life, Carter took on responsibilities and carried guilt that stifled his happiness in life. The fabulous thing about this novel is the opportunity to watch both Carter and Taylor make changes, stand up for themselves and what they believe in, and get to the point where they each liked who they were and where they were in their lives.

For those familiar with Gina Azzi, Recovering Beauty maintains her wonderful, easy-to-read writing style that is vivid enough to propel you into the story without going overboard with details that make reading cumbersome. The plot is intriguing with some twists and turns that made me wonder about the outcome of this young couple, and there is a perfect balance of happiness blended with the realities of life such as disappointment and loss. This is a great read that contemporary romance/new adult and college fans will love, although I do recommend reading Rescuing Broken first so that you are familiar with the family and their experiences. You can certainly read this as a stand-alone, but why do that when you can devour more of this fantastic series?

*Many thanks to GMB and Gina Azzi for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Also Available
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Author Bio
Gina Azzi loved every moment of college – especially her study abroad experiences,
internships, and travel adventures! She draws from these experiences to create
the storylines for her new adult and contemporary romance books. A passionate
reader, frequent globetrotter, an aspiring baker, Gina resides in Canada with
her family. Her new series, the Kane Brothers, releases in 2018.
Author Links
Giveaway

**$25 Amazon gift card and Recovering Beauty e-book**