The English Duke
Duke Trilogy #2
By: Karen Ranney
Releasing March 28, 2017
In the second in New York Times Bestselling Author Karen Ranney’s scintillating series, society’s most coveted duke finds the one thing wealth and position cannot buy—the perfect partner…
For years, Martha York has been fascinated by a man she’s never met—Jordan Hamilton, the new Duke of Roth and protégé to her inventor father. Could the elusive gentleman possibly live up to his brilliant letters? When Martha travels to his estate to carry out her father’s last bequest, she discovers that the answer is a resounding yes, for the duke’s scientific mind belies a deep sensuality…
Jordan was determined to complete his prototype alone, but it’s impossible to resist the alluring young woman who shows up at his door. Working together, they grow ever closer, until a case of mistaken identity leaves him bound to another. A woman’s heart may be more complex than the most intricate invention, but Jordan must find a way to win Martha’s, or lose the only woman who can truly satisfy him…
July, 1871 Griffin House, England
Martha York stared down at the letter her sister had just handed her.
For months she’d been trying to satisfy her father’s bequest. He’d asked her to see that his work was given to the Duke of Roth. That’s all. Except it hadn’t been easy, had it?
She’d been writing to the duke for nearly a year and never received an answer. Not a note. Nothing dictated to a secretary. Not one small sliver of information. She’d kept writing and he’d kept ignoring her.
“Aren’t you going to open it, Martha?” Josephine asked.
She nodded, staring at the distinctive emblem on the reverse before removing the seal.
Part of her never wanted him to write back. There, a bit of honesty. She hadn’t wanted to relinquish all her father’s precious diaries, all his prototypes, all his notes.
“What does he say, Martha?” Josephine asked. “Has he invited us to Sedgebrook? Has he?”
Martha frowned at her sister. “Of course he hasn’t.” “But what has he said? Are you going to read it to us?” Josephine asked, her glance encompassing their grandmother.
Gran didn’t say a word, but she was looking over at Martha. Normally, nothing could divert her attention from her crochet work.
“He says he doesn’t want Father’s bequest. He does send his condolences on Father’s death. A year late.”
“He has to take it,” Gran said calmly. “Shall we just send everything in a wagon? He’d have no choice but to accept everything.”
“I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if something happened to Bessie,” she said, referring to her father’s latest prototype. “Why he thought the duke would want it, I’ve no idea.”
“They were friends,” Gran said. “Matthew didn’t spare the time for many people.”
Martha only nodded. Gran’s son, their father, had been a hermit, but a happy one. He went to the cottage situated at the end of the lawn every day, content to tinker there surrounded by his inventions, and al- lowing his imagination to take him where it would.
The unlikely friendship between Jordan Hamilton and her father had begun before the man had become the Duke of Roth. He’d been a naval officer then, curious about her father’s work, and writing with his questions. That had sparked an intense correspondence, one that lasted until pneumonia had taken Matthew suddenly and unexpectedly.
“At least he finally deigned to answer my letter,” Martha said. “Which is the most he’s done all these months. He probably got tired of me writing.”
“What are you going to do?” Gran asked, her crochet work forgotten on her lap.
“I could simply keep writing him until he agrees to come here.”
“Or we could take Father’s bequest to him,” Josephine said.
She glanced up at her sister.
“That’s out of the question,” she said, staring down at the distinctive handwriting. She knew it well. She’d read every one of the duke’s letters to her father.
She hadn’t expected him to repudiate her father’s gift. Doing so was worse than a slap in the face. His ignoring her letters ridiculed the relationship that Matthew York had valued so much. She’d thought the Duke of Roth had felt the same, but evidently he didn’t.
“Why is it out of the question?” Josephine asked. “Josephine, please sit,” she said, looking up at her sister.
Each time Josephine passed in front of her, perfume wafted in her direction. Ever since her mother had departed Griffin House, Josephine had taken to wearing Marie’s favorite French perfume. It was, according to her sister, a sophisticated fragrance. Martha thought it was overbearing and too flowery.
Perhaps Josephine wore it to remind her of Marie. No doubt that was the same reason her sister gravitated to the Rose Parlor. Her mother often sat here, staring out at the lawn, her gaze impenetrable and almost troubling to witness.
The room was filled with all those things Marie loved, but evidently not enough to remain at Griffin House. Needlepoint sat in a frame, patiently waiting to be finished. Needlepoint pillows were arranged on the sofa. Footrests upholstered in needlepoint sat at their feet while needlepoint pictures of flowers framed in gold hung on one wall. Even the draperies had needlepoint tiebacks.
She couldn’t help but wonder if Marie truly had an affinity for needlepoint or if it was only an outlet for other feelings.
The Rose Parlor had been decorated by her step- mother. The sofa and love seat, as well as the curtains that framed the view of the back lawn and the lake were pink. The pillows that weren’t covered in needlepoint were pink as well. The round carpet beneath her feet consisted of overblown lush roses—in pink, of course—with a contrasting green border.
Josephine loved the room. Martha felt slightly bilious in it. Gran didn’t seem to mind, being as involved in her crocheting as Marie had been in her needlepoint.
As for herself, when she wasn’t in her own room, she was in her father’s cottage. Although not quite a laboratory, it truly wasn’t an office, either. Instead, it was a combination of the two with tall skinny windows looking out over the lake.
She was his assistant and one of her tasks was to record his thoughts and experiments for the ages as well as to serve as his sounding board.
He’d been a good man, a truly inventive one. If he was more involved in his pursuits and less his family, perhaps that was to be expected.
No one, least of all her, had been that surprised when Marie had hied off to France six months after his death. According to the letter she had written Josephine, she was madly in love with a French count.
Of course I will send for you, my love, she’d written.
As soon as Pierre and I are settled at his estate. You will love the château. It’s so much more to my taste than Griffin House ever was.
Marie was French, a fact that Josephine seemed to recite more and more often of late. As if being half- French was something preferable to being completely English.
“Well?” Josephine asked. “What are you going to do?”
Martha looked out at the lake, placid in the July morning, remembering her father’s words. “Wherever there’s a mystery, you can’t help but feel excitement. Always seek to find a mystery. The sheer act of solving it will keep you happy.”
The mystery that had occupied her mind ever since his death was finding how that final experiment had been successful. He’d been so happy when he’d come in from the storm. He’d been drenched but ecstatic, telling her that his vessel had leveled off, heading directly for the target.
But he hadn’t told her how.
In this instance there were no notes. No thoughts or idle speculation. Nothing to give her any clue.
She was determined that his life’s work would be finished, even if she had to turn over all his notes and work to the duke.
“We have to go,” Josephine said, interrupting her thoughts. “It’s what Father would have wanted. Besides, it’s the Duke of Roth! Can you imagine, Martha? We could see Sedgebrook!”
Karen Ranney wanted to be a writer from the time she was five years old and filled her Big Chief tablet with stories. People in stories did amazing things and she was too shy to do anything amazing. Years spent in Japan, Paris, and Italy, however, not only fueled her imagination but proved she wasn't that shy after all.
Now a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, she prefers to keep her adventures between the covers of her books. Karen lives in San Antonio, Texas.
Author Links: WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS
Hard to Protect
Black Ops Heroes #1
By: Incy Black
Releasing March 20, 2017
Some Black Op missions are too dark—even for him.
Volcanic hot and ambitious Special Agent Will Berwick doesn’t give a damn what his orders are, he’s not taking the enemy—the lovely, but arctic Dr. Angel Treherne—to bed. Nor will she die on his watch, most certainly not by his hand. Oh, he’ll root out her secrets. But his own way—teaching her a much-deserved lesson while he’s at it: that no one messes with his career plan just because they’re a little peeved with him.
Caught up in a tangled web of deceit and betrayal, psychotherapist Angel trusts no one—certainly not alpha-cocky, cunning Will Berwick. First he’s hostile, then he’s charming, now he wants to protect her? Why? What’s he hiding? With her life—and heart—on the line, she needs to know.
With the risks high and personal, can Will and Angel agree the dangerous choices they must make?
A dark, danger filler, gritty tale filled with unexpected plot twists and intriguing characters in the darkest shadows of the British intelligence. With the authors unique and original voice the story takes noir tendencies while telling the tale of the ultimate betrayal in the world filled with deceit and lies, where finding love and living fulfilling life meant finding another profession and learning to live with the number of kills on your name.
This story took me for an unforgettable ride, with the darkness of the souls of the characters as well as the streets and underground tunnels, it pulled me in and mesmerized my mind. It is very different from the romantic suspense that I normally read, yet it was vastly entertaining, and the author's creative mind while building the plot and the characters is admirable.
Are characters likable and relatable - no, can't say that. They are crude, grim and sinister. Tender feelings don't come easily to them. They have faults, weaknesses, and roughness around the edges that is needed in their jobs, but that made them even more entertaining, enthralling, and hard to let go.
It seemed everyone had issues that were earth shattering. The things they had seen, things they had experienced, the things they had done themselves just to survive in the ominous world they lived in were unimaginable. Blood ties, soulmates, and best friends had a little meaning and weighing to them. The tension is high or escalating through the story, no moment of a lull from the fatal action or the constant threats.
If you love the deep, dark noir suspense stories filled with uncontrollable passion and very little sweetness, that will entice your mind and might seep into your dreams, you are going to love this author's voice and Hard To Protect.
~ Four Spoons
What he wanted was an explanation as to why she’d nixed his return to active duty. He grinned, instead. “You seem more piqued than usual by my silence, Doc. Pre-menstrual tension?”
No flinch. No sharp intake of breath. She didn’t even blink. But the sudden chill she threw damn near caused his balls to retract.
Then, like an assassin’s blade in the dark, she sliced. “Suffered any symptoms of impotency since your injury, Berwick?”
Perversely, his groin heated. Well, apparently, if he wasn’t going to dignify her surprising and utterly unprofessional counter-challenge with a response, his dick would. Odd, when to-date, this woman hadn’t stirred so much as an extra pulse-throb from him.
Not that she was unattractive. On the contrary, her classical beauty could launch ships. Flawless bone-structure. Complexion creamy, lustrous as a pearl. Fathomless grey eyes intent enough to make a man’s soul hum. Wide mouth. Generous lips, blush-pink and ripe. Hinting at dirty.
Her demeanor though—do-not-touch frigid.
Jesus, if someone had told him a Nordic God had carved her out of ice and then had second thoughts about getting close enough to breathe some warmth into her for fear of forevermore ejaculating snowflakes, he wouldn’t have argued.
Without breaking eye contact, he vaguely imagined what she might look like with that tight French braid of hers loosened, the tips of her breasts peeking through the untidy fall of blond tresses, as she lay naked, writhing beneath his hands.
And gave himself a mental slap.
Never going to happen. No way would he take this female to bed. Even if he survived the encounter, he doubted she would. Someone, or something, had damaged her. No woman wrapped herself in that many layers of frost without good reason. She may have crossed him, and for that she would pay, but he didn’t want to break her, for Christ’s sake.
He’d shattered Diana, and in return her death—suicide—had shattered him. A joyride through hell he preferred not to repeat.
No, he’d cajole the whereabouts of Treherne’s brother from her in a way that didn’t require physical contact or, at least, not deep physical contact. The odd affectionate caress he’d allow, purely as a sign of friendship. He had a feeling she could do with an ally. “What would have to happen for you to agree to have dinner with me?”
“Both ice caps would have to melt.”
He choked back, Well, you would know, and widened his grin. To hell with his reservations. This wintery beauty shared none of Diana’s frailty. The Doc could take care of herself.
To escape the frenzy of three children aged under 4 years, two mad dogs and four very odd cats, Incy Black committed to a law degree (University College, London), first to piss off those who said she didn’t stand a chance, and second, because she’s never learned to walk a hill when there are mountains to be climbed.
When not fighting injustice and righting wrongs on ‘Planet Incy’ via her love of writing romantic action adventures, she works as a Marketing Director…also cook, cleaner and homemaker.
Living in the UK’s West Country, her (now five) children are well versed in what scares her (most things) and delight in pushing her neurotic buttons—at their peril.
Author Links: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS
Hot for the Fireman
Boston Heat #1
By: Gina L. Maxwell
Releasing March 27, 2017
Ex-Army Ranger Erik Grady lives for the job. So when his chief at the Boston Fire Department offers him two choices—mandated therapy for supposed PTSD or a permanent desk job at the station, he reluctantly agrees to see a shrink. Only this doctor is unlike anything he expected. Female and curved in all the right places? Check. Hotter than a four-alarm fire? Check. The kind of woman that can heat his blood in and out of bed? Check, check. And oh, yeah, he just happens to have firsthand experience...
Of all the men to walk into psychologist Olivia Jones' office, why did it have to be him? Her one-night stand isn't playing by the rules of just. One. Night. She’s had her heart broken in the past, and no way is she going there again. And now he's blackmailing her into three dates? Well, if that's what it takes to make him see a different therapist, fine. She can handle it. So what if the chemistry between them is combustible? She's a professional, damn it. She'll date Mr. I'm Too Sexy For My Bunker Pants. But it won’t end in the fun he expects.
It’s time to see how much heat this fireman can take...
“Sounds like a plan. Actually, it sounds like a date. Our second official one, to be exact.”
Olivia chuckled. “What are you talking about? We’ve had dozens of dates.”
“On the contrary, Dr. Jones, watching movies and hooking up at our respective apartments is not a proper date.
Attending a party at your parents’ house, however, is definitely a date-type thing.”
“But my parents won’t even be there.”
“What about your godfather?”
A slow smile curved her lips. “Yes, I suppose Uncle Eddie and Aunt Tish will be in attendance.”
“There, you see? Anything that includes your family and my therapist is definitely an official date.” Erik gave her a sly grin and crowded her into the corner where the equipment lockers met the wall. “Come on, humor me.
Calling it a date makes me feel like I’m not only a piece of meat being used for my body.”
“Fine,” she said with an exaggerated sigh and roll of those sexy hazel eyes. “It’ll officially be our second date.
But just so we’re clear, I am only using you for your body.”
Peering up at him coyly through the dark fringe of her lashes, Olivia placed a single manicured nail at the hollow of his throat and dragged it down the center of his body. The muscles of his torso flexed and shuddered in its wake, shooting signals to his cock and balls that it was time to play. Thankfully, he still had a small supply of blood in his brain that prevented him from hauling her into his office and fucking her over his desk. Christ, that’s getting added to the fantasy bucket list. For now, though, he had to postpone the fun until later.
“Oddly enough, I’m very okay with being your boy toy, and I encourage you to get as much use out of me as you can. Now, I don’t know if you know this, but I also happen to be a firefighter. So if you’ve got any hot spots you need checked, I’d be more than happy to bring my hose by later and check them out thoroughly.”
“Mmm, that’s the best idea I’ve heard all day. You’re such a do-gooder, Lieutenant Grady.”
“Just doing my civic duty, ma’am. But you better get out of here before I decide you need to take the afternoon off so I can do some initial inspections.”
Laughing, she bussed him on the lips quickly and ducked under his arm, giving him a sexy wink before leaving him with the biggest hard-on that’d ever graced the firehouse gym. Fuck me. Time for a cold shower.
Gina L. Maxwell is a full-time writer, wife, and mother living in the upper Midwest, despite her scathing hatred of snow and cold weather. An avid romance novel addict, she began writing as an alternate way of enjoying the romance stories she loves to read. Her debut novel, Seducing Cinderella, hit both the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists in less than four weeks, and she’s been living her newfound dream ever since.
When she’s not reading or writing steamy romance novels, she spends her time losing at Scrabble (and every other game) to her high school sweetheart, doing her best to hang out with their teenagers before they fly the coop, and dreaming about her move to sunny Florida once they do.
Author Links: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS
You May Kiss the Bride
The Penhallow Dynasty #1
By: Lisa Berne
Releasing March 28, 2017
In an unforgettable debut, Lisa Berne introduces you to the Penhallow Dynasty—men destined to marry, but hesitant to love.
Wealthy and arrogant, Gabriel Penhallow knows it’s time to fulfill his dynastic duty. All he must do is follow “The Penhallow way”—find a biddable bride, produce an heir and a spare, and then live separate lives. It’s worked so well for generations, certainly one kiss with the delectable Livia Stuart isn’t going to change things. Society dictates he marry her, and one chit is as good as another as long as she’s from a decent family.
But Livia’s transformation from an original to a mundane diamond of the first water makes Gabriel realize he desperately wants the woman who somehow provoked him into that kiss. And for all the ladies who’ve thrown themselves at him, it’s the one who wants to flee whom he now wants. But how will he keep this independent miss from flying away?
This was dangerous. If she bit her lip any harder, thought Livia Stuart, it would probably begin to bleed, sending a bright red rivulet dripping down her chin, and end up staining—in a spectacularly uncouth way—the bodice of her gown.
The bodice of the gown which, Cecily had casually mentioned, was hers from two years ago.
“And you’ve altered it so cleverly, I scarcely recognized it.” Cecily’s voice was soft and friendly, but in her pretty blue eyes there was, unmistakably, the gleam of cruel mischief. “I knew, of course, from the color, which is no longer quite in fashion.”
Short of telling Cecily to stuff it, there didn’t really seem anything Livia could say, but she was spared the necessity of trying to think up something polite when Lady Glanville, Cecily’s mother, turned her gaze to Livia and subjected her person to a comprehensive scrutiny.
“Indeed,” her ladyship finally said, with the gravity of one considering a matter of deep existential import. “That particular shade of rose was very popular. Princess Charlotte, I believe, favored it highly. I’m not at all certain, however, that it’s suitable for one of your coloring, Livia dear. It complements fair hair, such as Cecily’s, as well as a pale complexion, like hers. I’m sorry to say that you are rather brown.”
“She would be out of doors so much,” Aunt Bella interpolated in her vague, melancholy way. “I’ve told her repeatedly how injurious it is to both health and appearance, but I do not think Livia attends to me.” She sighed gustily, sending the faded ribbons of her cap afluttering. “I do not think anyone attends to me. I do not think I am listened to by—”
“Far be it from me to pontificate,” said Lady Glanville, “but one ought not to dwell on oneself, you know. We must always think of others. As Cecily does, for example. She could give her castoff gowns to her maids, as most other young ladies do, but instead she insists that dear little Livia have them. It’s quite touching, really.”
“Your Uncle Charles doesn’t give you a dress allowance, does he, Livia?” Cecily’s tone was sympathetic. Too sympathetic. “But then, you don’t go anywhere, so perhaps it doesn’t matter a great deal.”
“No,” Livia answered flatly. “No, it doesn’t matter at all.”
Now it was Lady Glanville who audibly sighed as she glanced around the large drawingroom with its dated, shabby furniture, the wallpaper from a generation ago pockmarked with ghostly rectangles where valuable paintings had once hung but had since been sold. “It’s dreadfully lowering,” she said, “to see a gentleman’s family so reduced. Why, it was only ten years ago that we met nearly as equals.”
Livia felt her teeth grit. She’d been forced to participate in these occasional morning visits from Cecily— the Honorable Miss Orr—and her mother—the Right Honorable Viscountess Glanville—for years. Because they were wealthy and highborn, apparently their arrogance and rudeness were to be endured. Livia clenched her hands tightly in the folds of her gown.
“Well, there’s no use in dwelling on what can’t be changed,” went on Lady Glanville. “I am afraid that life simply isn’t fair. A disagreeable fact, but what can one do? Now, do stop frowning, Livia dear, for I’m delighted to tell you we’ve come for the express purpose of offering a little treat.”
“I’m all ears, ma’am,” replied Livia with what had to be obvious sarcasm, but Lady Glanville only said, with her arctic smile:
“We are hosting a ball next week. It shall be a kind of début for Cecily. In addition—”
“Mr. Gabriel Penhallow and his grandmother, Mrs. Penhallow, come to visit us!” Cecily said breathlessly. “The Penhallows! Of Surmont Hall! We met Mrs. Penhallow in Bath a few months ago. She wrote us a letter. He’s going to—”
“My dear Cecily, pray refrain from interrupting. It is most unbecoming,” said her ladyship. “As you know, Bella, earlier in the summer I insisted that Lord Glanville go to Bath in order to drink from the waters. His gout, unfortunately, had been paining him a great deal. The nobleman’s affliction! And I thought Cecily might benefit from mixing in a wider society, for it is sadly limited in this neighborhood. There are, alas, so few families of our caliber. As both the daughter of an earl and as a viscountess, I fear I cannot but be aware of how limited our acquaintance must necessarily be. Yet one must, in these rackety modern times, sometimes unbend, and here we are.”
“Too, too kind,” Aunt Bella murmured, evidently with real, if muzzy, gratitude. She took a sip from the delicate crystal glass on the little table at her elbow. In it was her cordial which, Livia knew, was heavily laced with laudanum.
Lady Glanville nodded serenely, and the peacock feathers in her elaborate silk turban waved gently, as if in agreement. “While in Bath, we had occasion to observe Mrs. Penhallow in the Pump Room. I distinctly noticed her looking at Cecily but, naturally, would not have dreamed of encroaching upon her. An earl’s daughter is as nothing compared to her. The Penhallows came to England with the Conqueror, you know, and it’s said that the Conqueror bowed to them. Thus, imagine our gratification when she sent the Master of Ceremonies to us, so that he could escort us to her and perform the introduction.”
“My knees were positively shaking!” Cecily put in. “But I curtsied quite well, didn’t I, Mama?”
“Creditably so. I had no occasion to blush. I must plume myself on my foresight in having you practice curtsying before we left for Bath. An hour a day works wonders. But I digress. Mrs. Penhallow and I spoke for some fifteen minutes, and at the risk of seeming boastful I must say that she was condescension itself! We dis cussed the weather and the dreadful state of the roads. I happened to mention Lord Glanville’s gout, and she recommended a treatment which—”
Her ladyship went on to recount further details of her conversation with the redoubtable Mrs. Penhallow, a personage of whom Livia knew nothing and cared less. Bored, she stopped listening and instead she looked at the rapt, lovely face of Cecily as she hung on her mother’s every word.
Describe yourself in five words or less.
Curious, creative; reader, writer, dreamer.
If you had a theme song, what would it be?
“Gonna Fly Now” from Rocky. Because perseverance is an important quality for a writer.
Name one thing you won’t leave home without.
Besides the necessary cellphone, wallet, and lip gloss? A little notebook and pen. (I know you said one thing, but this is plainly a writer’s indivisible unit of oneness.) Inspiration can strike at any time, and for me paper’s better than apps for jotting down notes about my writing.
Name three things on your desk right now.
A thesaurus. A couple of houseplants, which I’m sneakily categorizing as “greenery,” because I also want to mention my stack of Post-it Notes, without which I am considerably less productive.
What types of scenes are your most favorite to write?
I love writing scenes in which characters are talking and there are all kinds of things they can’t — or won’t — say embedded within their words, whether it’s because they’re wrestling with their emotions, unaware of their deep true feelings, constricted by the etiquette of the time, other people are around, and so on. Which means that in what seems like a simple conversation, the subtext can be deliciously complicated.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
I’m not the first to suggest that reading — widely and voraciously across multiple genres, both for pleasure and with an analytic eye — is a necessary component for someone wanting to become a writer. There are also a lot of great, insightful books and blogs on the subject; I particularly like Stephen King’s On Writing, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, Gwen Hayes’ Romancing the Beat, and Chuck Wendig’s bracing, blisteringly unsentimental approach to the writing life.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
With pleasure! Coming this summer is the second book in the Penhallow Dynasty series: The Laird Takes a Bride, featuring Scotsman Alasdair Penhallow, who’s forced by an arcane decree to marry and ends up with spirited Fiona Douglass. They’re both very resentful of the situation, and don’t find each other particularly attractive or appealing . . . which is, of course, a highly inauspicious way to begin a marriage. But it’s a very fun way to set a love story in motion.
Lisa Berne read her first Georgette Heyer book at fourteen, and was instantly captivated. Later, she was a graduate student, a grantwriter, and an investment banker, but is thrilled to be returning to her roots and writing her own historical-romance novels!
She lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest
Author Links: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS
His Unexpected Family
After a heartbreaking tragedy, youth pastor Jesse Parker stopped believing he had anything to offer kids. Working with the boys at Wranglers Ranch, he's slowly beginning to trust himself. And when he meets widow Maddie McGregor and her young autistic son, his connection with little Noah and his pretty mom is instant.
Maddie's heart is as guarded as his own, but as he spends time with the McGregors--helping Maddie in his gran's quilt shop, caring for rescued puppies, and bringing mother and son closer together--he rediscovers his purpose...including an Easter holiday surprise of renewed faith and love.
A touching tale of life, love, parenting, and growing in faith and learning to trust in God.
Mixed in the tender and sweet story of getting a second chance in love the author has skillfully, in a heartfelt way, inserted a poignant sermon of trusting in God with every aspect of our lives, and what that means in praxis. With an inspiring and uplifting manner, by using encouraging examples of the characters lives, the author manages to touch many questions most of the people might struggle with when it comes to their faith in God.
I liked the instant connection that was formed between Jesse Parker and Maddie McGregor and Noah. They were on the same wavelength, they shared the same concerns, they had the same goals, and they all loved Granny Emma, and were willing to do anything to help her out. The romance and attraction grew much slower and later and was set on a fitting timeframe considering rest of the plot.
Jesse, Maddie, and Noah were all broken souls and had issues of their own they were struggling with. Leaning on each other, sharing their wisdom, listening to each other, and helping with the everyday matters, they all experienced a remarkable character development through the story, as people and with their faith in God.
I don't know enough about autism to be able to say anything about Noah's condition and the changes with it. I found the events in a story a source of joy, and will not question if it would be medically possible to happen to an autistic child.
Love Inspired stories from Harlequin are Christian faith-based stories about life and love and families. Few times I have commented on the stories that I wished the opportunities for the characters to share their faith and struggles with it, would have been used more. But with this story that wasn't a case at all, as the author boldly and beautifully intertwined every aspect of the story back to the character's faith in God.
A story filled with life and faith lessons, many great points made, and several issues left on the back burner to simmer a bit more, as I digest the message of the tale. Truly an inspirational and thought-provoking story.
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
A Hot Romantic Comedy
By: Avery Flynn
Releasing April 24, 2017
Wanted: Personal Buffer
Often snarly, workaholic executive seeks “buffer” from annoying outside distractions AKA people. Free spirits with personal boundary issues, excessive quirks, or general squeamishness need not apply. Salary negotiable. Confidentiality required.
Workaholic billionaire Sawyer Carlyle may have joked he needed a “buffer” from their marriage-obsessed mom, but he didn’t need a waiting room filled with “candidates” to further distract him. (Thanks, bro.) But when a sexy job applicant shooes his mom and the socialite in tow out of his office, Sawyer sees the genius of the plan. And the woman. In fact, Miss Clover Lee might just get the fastest promotion in history, from buffer to fake fiancé…
This “free-spirit” might look like hot sunshine and lickable rainbows, but she negotiates like a pitbull. Before Sawyer knows what hit him, he’s agreed to give up Friday nights for reality tv, his Saturdays for flea markets (why buy junk still baffles him), his Tuesdays and Thursdays for “date nights” (aka panty-losing opportunities if he plays his cards right). And now she wants lavender bath salts and tulips delivered every Monday?
Yup, she’s just screwing with him. Good thing she’s got this non-negotiatable six-weeks-and-she’s-gone rule or Sawyer may have just met this match…
When Avery Flynn isn't writing about alpha heroes and the women who tame them, she is desperately hoping someone invents the coffee IV drip. She has three slightly-wild children, loves a hockey-addicted husband and has a slight shoe addiction. Find out more about Avery on her website, follow her on Twitter, like her on her Facebook page or friend her on her Facebook profile. Also, if you figure out how to send Oreos through the Internet, she’ll be your best friend for life. Contact her at email@example.com. She’d love to hear from you.
Author Links: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS
THE BOY NEXT DOOR IS BACK...AND AFTER HER HEART!
He's a "gift"--a referral from the Matchmaking Mamas--sent by Tiffany Lee's mother to do her bathroom remodel. But the real surprise is that Tiffany already knows Eddie Montoya. When they were little, he was her playground protector. When they were in college, Eddie was her campus competition. And now she's a teacher and he's her handyman?
Well, just on weekends. On Monday morning, Eddie shows up at Tiffany's school--as the new third-grade teacher. When a fund-raising contest between classes is announced, the old rivalry heats up. And it's game on! Except as the playful competition intensifies, so do their feelings for each other. And Eddie begins to wonder if they might work better...as a team.
A well written, smoothly flowing tale of two teachers finding each other, again, with a little help of the matchmakers. I enjoyed the setting, of Eddie and Tiffany meeting for the third time in their lives, how those meetings had shaped their destiny, how they came to be where they are now. I like the teacher romances, always have found them fascinating, and appreciated the many scenes included in the story from the school and the activities around it with them interacting with the kids.
Eddie is the perfect hero, a truly good guy. He is kind, considerate, generous, and loyal. He keeps his promises, the kids love and admire him, he can cook, remodel the bathroom, and he is good looking as can be. The only thing I would fail him in is his taste in women.
Tiffany, she wasn't a nice person at all. She is competitive to the fault, rather mean-spirited, inconsiderate, self-centered, rude... And I waited and waited for her redemption, her to be worthy of love, care, attention, anything. But she never changed. She still wonders how Eddie can manipulate every situation so that he comes off looking like a good guy - because he is! She still is planning to out-do him in any way possible because she is jealous of his 'hero status' at the school, she still is only thinking about herself and her gain in every situation, and her benefit in every single matter, even in a charity race to collect money for the homeless, it is about her. And I wanted her to be nice, sweet, considerate person that would be a perfect match to Eddie, but that development never was shown in the story.
At the 70% mark, I laughed out loud at myself while reading, because learning about the development between these two - it was like watching an accident, you see it happen, there's nothing you can do to stop it, and you just can't turn away from it. Thankfully the story is written so well, I at least enjoyed that part of it. For Eddie and the fluently flowing tale
~ Three Spoons
Walk of Shame
Love Unexpectedly #4
By: Lauren Layne
Releasing April 18, 2017
Sparks fly between a misunderstood New York socialite and a cynical divorce lawyer in this lively standalone rom-com from the USA Today bestselling author of Blurred Lines and Love Story.
Pampered heiress Georgianna Watkins has a party-girl image to maintain, but all the shopping and clubbing is starting to feel a little bit hollow—and a whole lot lonely. Though Georgie would never admit it, the highlights of her week are the mornings when she comes home at the same time as her uptight, workaholic neighbor is leaving to hit the gym and put in a long day at the office. Teasing him is the most fun Georgie’s had in years—and the fuel for all her naughtiest daydreams.
Celebrity divorce attorney Andrew Mulroney doesn’t have much time for women, especially spoiled tabloid princesses who spend more time on Page Six than at an actual job. Although Georgie’s drop-dead gorgeous, she’s also everything Andrew resents: the type of girl who inherited her penthouse instead of earning it. But after Andrew caps one of their predawn sparring sessions with a surprise kiss—a kiss that’s caught on camera—all of Manhattan is gossiping about whether they’re a real couple. And nobody’s more surprised than Andrew to find that the answer just might be yes.
Let’s talk about five a.m. for a second.
Also known as the worst hour of the day, am I right?
If you’re awake to see five in the freaking morning, it means one of a few things, all of them heinous.
Scenario one: You’re on your way to the airport for an early morning flight. Heinous.
Scenario two: You’ve been out all night, and now your vodka buzz is fading, and you’re just sober enough to realize that the rest of your day will likely involve Excedrin, carbs, and indoor voices. Heinous.
Scenario three: You’ve got a crap-ton on your mind, and you’re lying awake in bed, staring at the ceiling, hating your life. Maybe hating yourself a little bit, I dunno, who am I to judge? Heinous.
Now brace yourself, because scenario four is the most heinous of them all: You’re awake at five a.m. because you’re an uptight prick whose schedule is even more rigid than your posture, and your life is an endless string of working out, the corner office, repeat. You’re also likely the type of person who subsists on protein shakes and kale smoothies, and you have been known to utter the phrase the body is a temple, thus solidifying what we already knew about you.
You have no friends.
But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.
See, it’s five a.m., and I, Georgie Watkins, am . . . kind of excited about it.
I know. I know. Four months ago I’d have bet my favorite vintage Chanel bag that there was exactly zero chance I’d actually look forward to the ghoulish hour of five in the morning.
And yet here we are.
I guess you could say there’s a scenario five on reasons to be up this early.
“Good morning, Ramon,” I sing, pushing through the revolving doors of the luxury high-rise on 56th and Park, the place I call home.
The concierge/security guard/all-around good guy glances up and gives me a friendly smile. “Ms. Watkins. Good morning.”
Usually the massive front desk is a bustling, busy affair. Starting at around seven, an army of well-dressed concierges will be smoothly facilitating the needs of impatient residents, as tiny dogs let out sharp, high-pitched barks of greeting from their Louis Vuitton carriers.
But that’s later.
Right now, the luxurious lobby is mostly silent, with just the lone overnight guy working the front desk, holding down the fort until the day guys arrive to handle the morning crush.
My new Tory Burch clutch tucked into my armpit, I hold up the box in my hands and waggle my eyebrows. “Brought you something.”
Ramon’s smile grows wider, brown eyes lighting. “My wife says you’re going to make me fat.”
“Tell Marta that the dad bod is totally in style right now,” I say, setting the box of donuts on the counter and lifting the lid. “Unless, of course, you don’t want a maple bacon donut?”
Ramon is already reaching inside the box, shaking his head in reverence as he lifts the sugary treat. “Still warm.”
“Well, technically the shop doesn’t open until five, but I’m such a loyal customer, they let me in a bit early,” I say, surveying the array of donuts and trying to decide if I’m in a chocolate kind of mood or if I want to risk the powdered sugar one.
Since my Alexander McQueen minidress is black (the archnemesis of powdered sugar), I reach for the chocolate as I set my clutch on the counter and fish out my phone: 4:58 a.m.
Two more minutes.
“How’s Marta dealing with the pregnancy of baby number three?” I ask, taking a bite of the donut and shifting attention back to Ramon, who’s already polished off his donut and is contemplating a second. I nudge the box toward him.
“She’s good,” he says. “Excited that we’re finally having a girl.”
“A girl!” I say, reaching across the counter and squeezing his massive forearm. “Congratulations, I hadn’t heard!”
“Just found out yesterday,” he says with a happy smile, apparently deciding that the occasion calls for another donut.
“Oh my gosh, I have the perfect baby gift,” I say, nibbling at a piece of my donut. “I saw this adorable Burberry onesie in Bergdorf’s the other day, with this precious little red bow—”
“Yes, because that’s what every infant needs,” a low voice interrupts. “A four-hundred-dollar piece of fabric that needs to be dry-cleaned. Don’t be ridiculous, Georgiana.”
I don’t have to look at my clock to know what time it is.
On the dot.
Not even bothering to turn around, I roll my eyes as my red nails tear off another piece of donut and pop it into my mouth. “Ramon, do you think you could talk to maintenance about adjusting the temp? It just got a little cold in here.”
Ramon’s been working here long enough to know my request isn’t for real. He’s not even paying attention to me. He’s already set his donut aside and has straightened up, practically saluting the newcomer.
“Mr. Mulroney. Good morning, sir.”
“Mr. Ramirez.” The voice is low and serious, a touch impatient, although not quite rude.
You know that adage that you catch more flies with honey? I’m not so sure it’s true. I bring donuts to the front desk guys just about every morning, and they adore me. I know they do.
But they respect him.
Giving in to the inevitable, I finally let my eyes flick to the side, my gaze colliding with a stern brown scowl.
I put on my widest, sparkliest smile, only because I know it drives him crazy.
As always, I see a muscle in his jaw twitch as I flutter my eyelashes.
“Good morning, Andrew,” I say sweetly.
I resist the urge to roll my eyes. Only my late grandmother has ever called me that, and I’m pretty sure that’s because I was her namesake. Everyone else calls me Georgie. Well, okay, not everyone. Ramon and the other guys still insist on calling me Ms. Watkins, but I’m working on it. See: daily donuts.
I smile wider and push the box in Andrew’s direction. “Donut?”
His lip curls. In case you haven’t already gotten a read on this guy, he’s the type that sneers at donuts.
He lifts a boring black travel mug. “Already have my breakfast.”
“Blended-up quinoa sprinkled with a few bits of spinach and pretension?” I ask.
“Whey powder protein shake.”
“Sounds immensely satisfying.”
He takes a sip of the nastiness and watches me with cold brown eyes. “The body is a temple, Georgiana.”
There it is.
Full circle to my above commentary about what sort of people are up and about at five a.m.
Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen romantic comedies.
A former e-commerce and web marketing manager from Seattle, Lauren relocated to New York City in 2011 to pursue a full-time writing career.
She lives in midtown Manhattan with her high-school sweetheart, where she writes smart romantic comedies with just enough sexy-times to make your mother blush. In LL's ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books.
Author Links: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS
A navy SEAL sniper turned bodyguard, he’ll protect his target…at any cost…
The SEAL’s secret assignment had been to protect a certain important doctor. But when the man is murdered, Austin Foley’s mission changes. The navy sniper must now protect the doctor’s protégé, the irresistible Sophia Grant, at any cost.
For Sophia has information that could endanger the entire country. There’s only one problem: Sophia has no idea what those secrets are.
With lethal terrorists on their heels, Austin and Sophia must embark on a covert operation. But it will mean placing Sophia even more in harm’s way — a sacrifice not even the steel-hearted SEAL may be able to make.
The intense cover makes promises that the story delivers, and delivers well. I was mesmerized by the escalating tension and danger, the constant deadly attacks making it real and gruesome, someone really was after Sophia Grant, was willing to go to the extreme measures to find out what she knew, and for unknown reasons. The fact that even the characters themselves were not sure what the information was, that they were supposed to have, that had made them the target, gave desperate, fear-filled intensity to the tale, and kept me on my toes.
Sophia Grant had had a horrific childhood. As the little bits of facts of her past are revealed, I was craving more information about her. She had made a remarkable job to survive and make something of herself, despite the circumstances. I admired her, her guts and the bravery she demonstrates in the story.
Austin Foley had grown up in a big, loving family in Wyoming, and had the good old-fashioned family values, he had true gentleman manners and was willing to protect Sophia from any attack in any way he could. His kindness and gentleness with Sophia won me over. The attraction between them was intriguing, the passion they had for each other was fervent yet it was the tenderness and caring that made the feelings take root and bloom.
I enjoyed the story immensely, the fierceness of it, the uncertainty, the courage of the characters, and what they were willing to do and sacrifice to catch the terrorists. I wish there would have been a bit more about the characters themselves, even though the epilogue did open up a little bit more insights to them.
Delicate, poignant romance blossoming in the middle of a savage, violent, and fatal action-filled tale.
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
By: Laura Chapman
Releasing March 21, 2017
She's a work in progress . . .
Bailey Meredith has had it. As an assistant at a prestigious interior design firm, she’s tired of making coffee and filing invoices. She’ll do just about anything to get out from under the paperwork and into the field for real experience. Then she sees an ad for a job that seems too good to be true.
He's a fixer upper . . .
Wilder Aldrich knew she would be perfect for the crew the moment he saw her. His hit home improvement show only hired the best, and Bailey had potential written all over her. It isn’t just her imaginative creativity and unmatched work ethic that grabs his attention. There’s just something about her.
With chemistry on screen, it’s only a matter of time before sparks fly behind the scenes as well. But with Bailey’s jaded views on romance and a big secret that could destroy Wilder and everyone he cares about, are either of them willing to risk it all for love?
Keeping a close distance, she followed Waverly up the cracked path to the house. Bailey took quick mental notes of her surroundings. The exterior needed a lot of work. The sagging roof missing gutters made her think they’d find the inside in similar disarray. They stepped through the front door, nearly tripping over Wilder Aldrich, who was measuring the entryway.
“Hey!” He sprang to his feet and out of their way. “What did I tell you about waiting until I gave you the all clear?”
“You were taking for-frickin’-ever, and some of us were freezing our tits off.” She pursed her lips and took on a warrior stance, seemingly daring him to say something else.
Conceding victory to her, Wilder turned and flashed an apologetic grin at Bailey. “Hey.” He offered a hand.
Warmth permeated through the thin material of her glove. “Welcome to Casa de Waverly.”
Giving him a smug grin, Waverly sipped her coffee and faced Bailey. “Do you have a smart phone?”
Bailey stared blankly for a second, still dazzled by seeing Wilder up close. But she quickly snapped to attention and dug her phone out of her coat pocket.
“Good,” Waverly said after inspecting it. “While you’re on the job, I’d like you to snap some photos for our social media accounts. I’ll want to vet everything before we post it, but we need to start building the buzz for the next season while we’re filming. In exchange, we’ll cover your phone payments to take care of your data usage. Understood?”
“I can do that.”
“Good. Now . . .” She pulled out her own phone. It was the latest model that had come out on the market a month ago. With all of its reported bells and whistles, it put Bailey’s poor phone to shame. “I’m going to make a quick call. I’ll be back in a few minutes, and we can get started on,” she gestured around her, “this mess.”
She spun on her heel and waltzed out of the room, cooing into the phone.
Wilder cleared his throat, and Bailey turned to give him her full attention. She estimated he was only a couple of years older than herself—maybe in his late twenties or early thirties. He looked younger in real life than he did on TV. He was leaner and a little shorter—though she still had to crane her neck a little to meet his gaze.
He was also more handsome. Not the GQ model, your tongue-sticks-to-the-top-of-your-mouth kind of sexy. But he was hot in the same way the guy you sat next to in Chemistry was. It was enough to distract you from formulas and Bunsen burners every so often, but not enough that you’d ever set the lab on fire or forget to finish your final exam.
So far, he seemed much more serious. Where was the guy who scared Waverly with a stuffed dummy in a closet in the last episode she’d watched before calling an end to the marathon?
He was, she realized, studying her every bit as closely, with those hazel eyes speckled with green. Noting that, she didn’t feel quite as rude taking mental notes on the man in front of him.
At least she looked good. She’d laid out three outfits that morning in the hotel room. The first was a long, silky turquoise tunic that she’d paired with a pair of black leggings and knee-high boots. It was similar to the clothes Waverly favored on screen—only hers weren’t name-brand knockoffs. Then she had the casual jeans, a gray T-shirt that she could dress-up with a navy blue blazer. And there was option three: dark-wash, fit jeans, a chambray shirt, and a scarf. It was an ensemble that fell somewhere in the middle. It was the one that looked the most like her when she inspected herself in the mirror.
It was the one that felt most like her now in the middle of the foyer.
She wondered what he saw when he looked at her. Did he see a confident young woman ready to tackle major projects adeptly? Or did he see someone who was desperate to create, no matter what happened? Both were correct, but which one shone through right now?
Like a light switch, that triggered something in her. She offered her hand again. “We haven’t officially met. I’m Bailey Meredith.”
Laura Chapman is the author of First & Goal, Going for Two, Three & Out, and The Marrying Type. A native Nebraskan, she loves football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Connect with her online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her website.
Author Links: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS
MY GRADING SCALE:
5 Spoons - Amazing, memorable story that I loved, and want to read again.
4 Spoons - Fantastic, entertaining story
3 Spoons - Good story, but not much that stood out
2 Spoons - A story with some issues, that were a problem to me
1 Spoon - Not for me
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