Category Archives: Books

Release Day Review- Christmas In Vermont by Anita Hughes

Christmas In Vermont

Title: Christmas In Vermont

Genre: Contemporary Holiday Romance

Author: Anita Hughes

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: St. Martins Griffin, Oct. 15, 2019

Pages: 304

Rating: 2

Sexy Rating: 2

Violence Rating: 0

Christmasy Feeling: 0

Description from Amazon:

Emma can’t believe her luck when she finds an open pawn shop on Christmas Eve in Manhattan. She’s there to sell the beautiful bracelet her ex-boyfriend gave her when a familiar looking watch catches her eye. It’s the same engraved watch she gave her college boyfriend, Fletcher, years ago. On a whim, she trades the bracelet for the watch and wonders at the timing.
Practical Emma thinks it’s just a coincidence, but her best friend Bronwyn believes it’s the magic of synchronicity that caused Emma to find the watch. Fletcher was the one that got away, and somehow Emma never quite moved on.
When Bronwyn finds out that Fletcher is in snowy Vermont at a romantic inn for the week, she can’t help but give synchronicity a push. She signs Emma up to help the inn keeper as the children’s activity coordinator. Emma agrees that a week filled with quaint shops and maple syrup would do her good… and maybe Fate really does have a Christmas gift in store for her. That is until she sees Fletcher with his daughter and fiancée.
Suddenly, the fairytale trip seems doomed to fail… much like the innkeeper’s dwindling cashflow. It will take a miracle to save her heart and the inn. And that just might be what Fate has in mind.
**
Sometimes I choose to read a book and I wonder what possessed me to pick this one. Well, I liked the simplicity of the cover, I thought maybe Vermont would be ideal at holiday time. I got both of those hopes fulfilled but I just couldn’t wrap my head around a heroine and her bestie, both alone on Christmas, not spending the holiday together and what was Bronwyn doing with those kids. It just seemed like ineffective parenting, holiday avoidance, and why is Emma taking Ubers in the city if she has a car to drive to Vermont. (Okay I’ll give in on that one since city parking is horrendous.) but I was so annoyed with Emma from the get-go that I couldn’t warm up to her later on. Even though Fletcher’s kid was cute.

This one is not highly recommended by me. There are other holiday books much better than this.

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Advance Review- Child’s Play by Danielle Steel

Child's Play

Title: Child’s Play

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Author: Danielle Steel

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Dell, Oct. 8,2019

Pages: 288

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon:

The lessons our children teach us are the hardest ones. What do we do when our children don’t pursue our hopes for them? In this riveting new novel, Danielle Steel explores how families can evolve and grow in unexpected ways.

A senior partner at a prestigious New York law firm, Kate Morgan couldn’t be prouder of her three grown children. Tamara, Anthony, and Claire all went to great schools, chose wonderful career paths, and would have made their father proud. A single mother for years after the death of her husband, Kate keeps a tight rein on her family, her career, and even her own emotions, never once asking herself if she truly knows her children . . . or if her hopes for them are the right ones, and what they want. She is about to find out.

During one hectic summer in Manhattan, Kate’s world turns upside down. One child has been keeping an astonishing secret while another confesses to an equally shocking truth. A wonderful match and picture-book wedding are traded for a relationship that shakes Kate to her core. A totally inappropriate love affair and an out-of-wedlock baby complete the chaos. Challenged as a mother and as a successful independent woman herself, Kate struggles to keep up with a dizzying and escalating chain of events, and begins to realize that she has a part to play in the chaos. Because Kate too has kept secrets from her children.

Sometimes the surprising choices our children make are the right ones . . . better than what we wanted for them. More often than not, parenting is about letting go of our dreams and embracing theirs.

**
The book description gives you a good idea of what this book is about and I will not pretend I can do a better synopsis. I enjoyed this book and fell into the author’s trap of needing to find out how everything would turn out. I really liked the several surprises and I really admired the protagonist, Kate. Tamara, Anthony and Claire are all successful adults to make any mother proud. That they each have a crisis in their lives only makes them more relatable and Kate more relatable. There is also romance around every corner as well as the problems that arise with romantic involvements.

I have not read this author in a number of years but I’m delighted that I picked up this book. A good read!

P.S.- I really dislike it when a book cover has absolutely nothing to do with the content of the book.  Like this one.

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Retro Review-A Christmas Return by Anne Perry

A Christmas Return

Title: A Christmas Return

Genre: Historical Holiday Mystery Novella

Author: Anne Perry

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Ballentine Books, Nov. 7, 2017

Pages: 179

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 5

Christmasy Feeling: 2

Description from Amazon:

As Charlotte Pitt’s grandmother Mariah Ellison finds herself investigating a long-unsolved slaying, it becomes clear that grappling with intrigue and foul play runs in the family. A festive Christmas package left on Mariah’s doorstep contains an ominous present, sparking memories of a twenty-year-old murder that shattered her friendship with the victim’s widow. Though the gift is a bitter reminder of that tragic time, in the spirit of the season Mariah travels to Surrey in hopes of reconciling with her estranged friend and solving the crime that drove them apart.

On arrival, Mariah joins forces with the murdered man’s grandson, a sleuth in his own right who’s discovered promising evidence as well as a suspect. But Surrey’s picturesque hills conceal dark doings and shocking revelations that could make the holiday anything but calm and bright.

Decked with intrigue and trimmed with Yuletide spirit, A Christmas Return is a holiday treat wrapped in the glorious storytelling talents of the reigning master of Victorian mystery.

**
I must admit that I accepted this book for review when it was first published in 2017 but that year I became very ill and this book slipped through the cracks. Ms. Perry writes a Christmas mystery every year, often with side characters from previous books but they are standalone mysteries.

This is an okay mystery but as a Christmas offering, well…not so much. We pretty much know who the murderer is from the beginning and proving it isn’t much of a task for Mariah and Peter. Why this murder wasn’t solved 20 years before is a mystery to me the reader. Christmas is just a token notion with mentions of a few garlands hung and a Christmas Eve party.

 

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Recent Release Review- Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

Sapphire Flames

Title: Sapphire Flames (A Hidden Legacy Novel, #4)

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Author: Ilona Andrews

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Avon, August 27, 2019

Pages: 400

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 4

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon:
In a world where magic is the key to power and wealth, Catalina Baylor is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, and the Head of her House. Catalina has always been afraid to use her unique powers, but when her friend’s mother and sister are murdered, Catalina risks her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery.
But behind the scenes powerful forces are at work, and one of them is Alessandro Sagredo, the Italian Prime who was once Catalina’s teenage crush. Dangerous and unpredictable, Alessandro’s true motives are unclear, but he’s drawn to Catalina like a moth to a flame.
To help her friend, Catalina must test the limits of her extraordinary powers, but doing so may cost her both her House–and her heart.
**
You’re gonna love Catalina and Alessandro is definitely your new book-boyfriend. Catalina is new to being Head of House Baylor. Her sister, Nevada, was Head of House but she married and went to her husband’s family. Catalina is unsure of herself but gives us a forceful performance of her magic powers in defense of her family and friend, Runa. Alessandro insinuates himself into Catalina’s investigation of a murder. He saved her life and insists on being part of the team. Catalina is reluctant to have him but can’t seem to resist his magnetism.

I enjoyed this action packed novel with sexual tension that burns up the pages. It is a page turner that kept me up all night. The magical world of the Hidden Legacy series is both terror and horror filled with monsters and evil. But our heroes are truly smart and resourceful. This is a fun read. The side characters are well drawn. The ending was a bit frustrating so only a 4-star rating.

P.S.- The cover actually relates to a scene in the book.

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Advance Review- Nothing Ventured by Jeffrey Archer


Nothing Ventured

Title: Nothing Ventured (A William Warwick Novel book #1)

Genre: General fiction/Mystery

Author: Jeffrey Archer

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Sept. 3, 2019

Pages: 326

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: 5 (behind closed doors)

Violence Rating: 4

Description from Amazon:

Nothing Ventured heralds the start of a brand new series in the style of Jeffrey Archer’s #1 New York Times bestselling Clifton Chronicles: introducing Detective William Warwick. But this is not a detective story, this is a story about the making of a detective . . .
William Warwick has always wanted to be a detective, and decides, much to his father’s dismay, that rather than become a lawyer like his father, Sir Julian Warwick QC, and his sister Grace, he will join London’s Metropolitan Police Force.
After graduating from university, William begins a career that will define his life: from his early months on the beat under the watchful eye of his first mentor, Constable Fred Yates, to his first high-stakes case as a fledgling detective in Scotland Yard’s arts and antiquities squad. Investigating the theft of a priceless Rembrandt painting from the Fitzmolean Museum, he meets Beth Rainsford, a research assistant at the gallery who he falls hopelessly in love with, even as Beth guards a secret of her own that she’s terrified will come to light.
While William follows the trail of the missing masterpiece, he comes up against suave art collector Miles Faulkner and his brilliant lawyer, Booth Watson QC, who are willing to bend the law to breaking point to stay one step ahead of William. Meanwhile, Miles Faulkner’s wife, Christina, befriends William, but whose side is she really on?
This new series introduces William Warwick, a family man and a detective who will battle throughout his career against a powerful criminal nemesis. Through twists, triumph and tragedy, this series will show that William Warwick is destined to become one of Jeffrey Archer’s most enduring legacies.

**
I haven’t read a Jeffrey Archer book since KANE AND ABEL back in the 80’s. My husband is an avid fan of the author and has been encouraging me to read THE CLIFTON CHRONICLES. It’s not that I didn’t want to read Archer’s novels, I just had other books ahead of his on my TBR pile. When this, a new series came along I thought it time that I give in and read a Jeffrey Archer novel.

I’m so glad I did pick this one up. William Warwick’s character is fully realized. We are given a complete background in his wanting to be a detective and his involvement with his family, his early years on the “beat” and his sharp mind that propels him forward in his profession. William is often naïve but he doesn’t let set-backs hold him back, he can take a joke when pranks are played on him. Archer has given us a well rounded human who we can root for. Side characters are many in this book, from involved family members to mentoring superiors to clever criminals and a like minded love interest. I look forward to the next book to see where William goes from here.

I highly recommend this book to readers of all genres. There is something for everyone; action, adventure, mystery, legal court scenes and a love story. You’re gonna like this one.

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Advance Review- The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken

The Blacksmith Queen
Title: The Blacksmith Queen (The Scarred Earth Saga, book #1)

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Author: G.A. Aiken

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Kensington Books, Aug. 27, 2019

Pages: 304

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5++

Description from Amazon:
When a prophesy brings war to the Land of the Black Hills, Keeley Smythe must join forces with a clan of mountain warriors who are really centaurs in a thrilling new fantasy romance series from New York Times bestselling author G.A. Aiken.

The Old King Is Dead

With the demise of the Old King, there’s a prophesy that a queen will ascend to the throne of the Black Hills. Bad news for the king’s sons, who are prepared to defend their birthright against all comers. But for blacksmith Keeley Smythe, war is great for business. Until it looks like the chosen queen will be Beatrix, her younger sister. Now it’s all Keeley can do to protect her family from the enraged royals.

Luckily, Keeley doesn’t have to fight alone. Because thundering to her aid comes a clan of kilt-wearing mountain warriors called the Amichai. Not the most socially adept group, but soldiers have never bothered Keeley, and rough, gruff Caid, actually seems to respect her. A good thing because the fierce warrior will be by her side for a much longer ride than any prophesy ever envisioned …

**
I have read GA Aiken’s Dragon Kin Series and liked that so I was fairly certain I would like a new series. I thought this book was totally entertaining. The author can bring characterizations of mythical creatures to life as well as the humans. The heroine, Keeley, is a blacksmith as was her mother. She is strong both physically and emotionally but with a tender and caring heart. Caid is very protective and a worthy hero. But it is Keeley who is the true saviour of country and family.

This book is often cringe-worthy violent, with scenes of battle vividly depicted. There are many scenes of battles and anxiety producing moments. There are truly evil side characters. Aiken’s world building is never an info dump but the result of action and plotting.

I recommend this book to those who like Fantasy, Romance and plenty of action.
P.S. I love that book cover!

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Advance Review- The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

The Escape Room

Title: The Escape Room

Genre: General Fiction/Thriller

Author: Megan Goldin

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, July 30, 2019

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 361

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.
In the lucrative world of finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are at the top of their game. They’ve mastered the art of the deal and celebrate their success in style—but a life of extreme luxury always comes at a cost.
Invited to participate in an escape room as a team-building exercise, the ferociously competitive co-workers crowd into the elevator of a high rise building, eager to prove themselves. But when the lights go off and the doors stay shut, it quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary competition: they’re caught in a dangerous game of survival.
Trapped in the dark, the colleagues must put aside their bitter rivalries and work together to solve cryptic clues to break free. But as the game begins to reveal the team’s darkest secrets, they realize there’s a price to be paid for the terrible deeds they committed in their ruthless climb up the corporate ladder. As tempers fray, and the clues turn deadly, they must solve one final chilling puzzle: which one of them will kill in order to survive?

**
What a great premise; four despicable people, Jules, Sylvie, Sam and Vincent trapped in an elevator with a gun. That premise alone kept me turning pages. Introduce Sara Hall, their other work team member, in alternating chapters and this is a compelling read. But I became very frustrated with two characters seeming change in personality. I won’t go into detail because of spoilers. I also thought that the ending was too abrupt. There are some unanswered questions. I really feel that this could have been a great thriller but because of some missteps it turned out to be just “okay”.

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Recent Release Review- Contracted As His Cinderella Bride

Contracted as his cinderella bride

Title: Contracted As His Cinderella Bride ( Conveniently Wed)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Author: Heidi Rice

Source: Free for Review from the publisher

Publisher: Harlequin, July 16, 2019

Pages: 225

Rating: 3.5

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon:

From penniless delivery girl…

To billionaire’s bride?

The perfect summer Ally Jones spent with gorgeous French billionaire Dominic LeGrand was unforgettable, despite her unrequited feelings. Now Ally’s a struggling courier and is stunned when her latest delivery brings her to Dominic’s door. Yet what’s even more shocking is his proposal! Dominic needs a temporary wife, but with the enticing promise of his expert seduction teasing Ally to her limits, can she really just play the role?

**
Heidi Rice is a new to me author and she delivers a very good read. Ally is trying to finish her fashion designing course and working as a courier. She is overwhelmed and tired when she finds herself at Dominic’s door. So when he offers her a marriage of convenience along with picking up her tuition and giving her a million pounds she finds it hard to refuse so she jumps all-in. But Heidi loved him once a long time ago and she finds herself falling again. The big question is will Dominic ever be able to love.

If you are looking for a well written, quick, escapist read then this might be in your wheelhouse. It didn’t quite push all the right buttons for me but I think that is just because my taste doesn’t run to these billionaire stories. I can recommend this one to CR readers who don’t have billionaire prejudices.

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Advance Review- The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews

The work of Art

itle: The Work of Art

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Mimi Matthews

Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press, July 23, 2019

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 358

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

An Uncommon Beauty…

Hidden away in rural Devonshire, Phyllida Satterthwaite has always been considered more odd than beautiful. But in London, her oddity has made her a sensation. Far worse, it’s caught the eye of the sinister Duke of Moreland–a notorious art collector obsessed with acquiring one-of-a-kind treasures. To escape the duke’s clutches, she’s going to need a little help.

An Unlikely Hero…

Captain Arthur Heywood’s days of heroism are long past. Grievously injured in the Peninsular War, he can no longer walk unaided, let alone shoot a pistol. What use can he possibly be to a damsel in distress? He has nothing left to offer except his good name.

Can a marriage of convenience save Philly from the vengeful duke? Or will life with Arthur put her–and her heart–in more danger than ever?

**
You will not be able to put this book down. It is totally engrossing, romantic, beautifully written and full of intrigue. Arthur and Philly hardly know each other when they are thrust into a marriage of convenience. They have angered a powerful Duke with a wicked reputation. I turned pages to see how our H & h would stay safe and fall in love. There are thriller aspects to this plot that make for rapid page turning. I highly recommend this one to all HR readers. It will go on my Best Reads of 2019 list.

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Coming to Netflix- Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Series

Bridgerton Series

Our friends over at Willow and Thatch have all the latest ondit on the Bridgerton series coming to Netflix.  Now we don’t know just when, but if Julie Andrews is going to be Lady Whistledown and the narrator…well, I just can’t wait! How about you? There are other cast announcements too.  Sign up for the Willow and Thatch newsletter and I’m sure they will keep us up to date on all Bridgerton happenings.

https://www.willowandthatch.com/cast-announcement-bridgertons-netflix/

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