Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Outstanding Reads of 2019

It's the very last day of 2019 and time to share TEN outstanding books I read this year. Okay... maybe there's actually eleven here, but the first two go together. šŸ˜‰ Not all were published this year, but I read them all in 2019. They are in order according to when I read them. I couldn't pick a favorite.







Sons of Blackbird Mountain and Daughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischof. I read these back-to-back with my local book club and we all loved them! Read my review of Daughters of Northern Shores.









The Memory House by Rachel Hauck. This book reintroduced me to Rachel Hauck's work after a hiatus from it.  Read my review here.










The Noble Guardian by Michelle Griep. Ms. Griep's finest book so far, in my opinion. Read my review here.




The King's Mercy by Lori Benton. My book club leader introduced me to Lori Benton's Pathfinders series early in the year. I jumped at the opportunity to read The King's Mercy. Read my review here.










Until the Mountains Fall by Connilyn Cossette. I waited so long for Malachi and Rivkah's story and it did not disappoint! Read my review here.









The Baggage Handler by David Rawlings. This book made me ugly-cry... more than once. But, the message inside was so worth it! Read my review.











The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels. This novel was filled with bookish goodness and I loved it. Read my review here.









How to Survive a Shipwreck: Help is on the Way and Love is Already Here by Jonathan Martin. I didn't agree with everything in the book, but it met me where I was at a tremendously difficult time in my life.









Strong, Brave, Loved by Holley Gerth. Another devotional that met me where I was and spoke truth into my mind and heart. Read my review.










Love You, Truly by Susan L. Tuttle. I wasn't even sure I wanted to read this book, but I'm so glad I did! Read my review.






Saturday, December 28, 2019

Book Review: Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander

About the Book:

Amid war and the fading dream of the Confederacy, a wounded soldier and a destitute widow discover the true meaning of Christmas - and of sacrificial love.

Recently widowed, Aletta Prescott struggles to hold life together for herself and her six-year old son.With the bank threatening to evict, she discovers an advertisement for the Women's Relief Society auction and applies for a position - only to discover it's been filled. Then a chance meeting with a wounded soldier offers another opportunity - and friendship. But can Aletta trust this man?

Captain Jake Winston, a revered Confederate sharpshooter, suffered a head wound at the Battle of Chickamauga. When doctors deliver their diagnosis, Jake fears losing not only his greatest skill but his very identity. As he heals, Jake is ordered to assist with a local Women's Relief Society auction. He respectfully objects.Kowtowing to a bunch of "crinolines" isn't his idea of soldiering. But orders are orders, and he soon discovers this group of ladies - one, in particular - is far more than he bargained for.

Set against the backdrop and history of the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, Christmas at Carnton is a story of hope renewed and faith restored at Christmas.


My Thoughts:

I finally found a novella I like! Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander is the best novella I’ve read this year, maybe ever. I admit that I usually don’t like the shortened form, so I don’t read many novellas. However, this one was excellent. The story held my attention and offered a tender romance. Although it still had that shortened novella feel at a few points, the author created intriguing characters that developed deeply. Aletta was especially complex and wonderful. She had several issues to deal with as she grew and changed throughout the story. I feel like it’s rare to see that much character development in a novella.

I recommend Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander to readers looking for an inspirational Christmas read. It has a permanent place on my bookshelf and made me want to read more of Tamera Alexander’s books. 5 stars!

Friday, December 27, 2019

First Line Fridays: A Silver Willow by the Shore by Kelli Stuart

Happy Friday!

First Line Fridays is hosted by Hoarding Books and participants share the first line from a nearby book.

Today I'm sharing the first line from A Silver Willow by the Shore by Kelli Stuart:

"I know when someone's holding a secret."

What are you reading this weekend?

Have a great weekend! Happy reading!


About the Book:

How do you face the future if you don’t know your own past?
When an unexpected pregnancy changes her dreams, seventeen-year-old Annie tries to keep it from her mother and her grandmother. But secrets have a way of coming out. In a household of strong women, the arrival of a new life sets off a spiral of truth that reveals a past full of whispers and lies—a past that existed in another world under the heavy hand of Soviet oppression. This history has dictated the circumstances of the present, but hope, redemption, and forgiveness will grow in the rocky places of these generational differences.

A Silver Willow by the Shore is the story of the unshakeable love between mothers and daughters and of the impact that past decisions can have on present day circumstances. This novel weaves together the stories of generations of women, from the gulags of 1930’s Siberia, to the quiet oppression of 1980’s Soviet Moscow, to present day Tennessee. It is an unforgettable narrative of the treachery of secrets, and of the light that unites the heart of a family.

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Santa Cam by Maria Hoagland


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Santa Cam
(A MyHeartChanel Romance)
By Maria Hoagland
Sweet Contemporary Romance
Hardcover and ebook, 206 Pages 
October 28th 2019 by Red Leaves Press

♥♥ The one behind the camera could be his best match yet. ♥♥

All professional soccer player Camden Sharpe wants for Christmas is to get home to Cobble Creek, Wyoming, for snow and family time. But when a brawl video surfaces online, Cam is forced to stay in Texas to clean up the public relations mess if he ever wants to get off the fans’ Naughty List. His manager-imposed community service lands Camden in a Santa suit surrounded by little kids with long lists of demands, but his attention is on his pretty elf assistant. He’s sure he’s seen her somewhere before, and he’s not convinced it was all that good.

Talia Thomas hopes Santa doesn’t recognize her. A lot of things in her life have changed since they butted heads a while back—including the trajectory of her career—and he has no idea he was the one who changed everything. Once a network reporter, Talia now runs MyHeartChannel Talia’s Truth Cam, but views are falling, advertisers are disappearing, and Talia’s excitement for her stories has frozen over. She’s tired of depressing news and shattered hearts, but it’s her job to tell the truth.

As Talia and Cam set out on a mission to convince the other the see the good in the world around them, they soon discover that only looking for the good sometimes means missing the truth that was right in front of them. Can Camden and Talia ever trust each other enough to move on from the mistakes of their past?

♥ If you love Hallmark channel Christmas movies, this full-length sweet romance novel will brighten your day any time of year! Always clean and wholesome, Maria Hoagland's books can be read as standalone, but often have character cameos from other books. Don't miss any of her uplifting collections of hears, homes, and happily ever afters! ♥♥

(Affiliate links included.)


Excerpt

Pulling back the curtain, he watched thick flakes swirl through the light of the streetlamp in front of his house. At least a couple of inches had accumulated—not bad for a place where he hadn’t expected to ever see snow. He itched to go out in it, but it wouldn’t be fun alone.

He found the number in his contacts and called, hoping Talia had her phone on do not disturb if it was too late for him to be calling. She answered on the second ring.

“Are you afraid of the little storm, Cam?” she crooned before he could say hello.

Point for her. Her spunkiness was exactly why he liked spending time with her. “Do you have an early morning?”

“No . . .” She drew it out, slowly enunciating the word. “Why?” she followed up quickly.

He ignored her question. “How adventurous are you feeling?”

“Why?” This time she asked with more suspicion. While she didn’t exactly answer, at least this time she sounded a little more eager.

“Put on your snow boots and parka. I’m coming over.” He was going to make an order, but decided he ought not to leave it there. “Okay?”

“But it’s snowing . . .”

The unspoken sentiment was that she was worried about him driving and getting in an accident. He’d grown up driving in this kind of weather. “That’s the whole point. And why I suggested boots and a coat.” If that was her only objection, he wasn’t going to let that keep him from coming. “I’ll see you in a few.”

Getting out the door took more work than he’d planned. First, Cam had to dig through a few boxes to locate the appropriate winter attire. While looking, he ran back and forth to the stove, throwing together a thermos-ful of his mom’s hot chocolate. As long as he didn’t scald it while scrounging for matching gloves, it would be a nice addition to the evening he had planned.

Dressed in normal winter clothes but with a Santa cap on his head, Cam knocked on Talia’s door just before midnight. She opened to him, pulling on her knit cap and stepping outside.

She rushed to the balcony railing and put gloved hands in the puff of accumulated precipitation to look over it. “It’s so beauti—”

He didn’t let her finish her statement before he blasted her in the back with a snowball he’d had behind his back. It exploded like a bombshell, the white of the snow stark against her black coat, and she laughed, scooping snow from the railing for a retaliatory snowball. She wound up and let loose, and the ball hit him square in the chest, tiny ice shards ricocheting onto his face.

“I was going to thank you for driving over here in this.” Her tone teasingly insinuated she no longer felt that way. She scooted farther down the landing, capturing more snow but never taking her eyes off Camden. “But I know why you came now.”

“Is that right?” He tossed a handful of snow in her general direction, but it didn’t go higher than their waists and then floated like pixie dust onto her boots.

They sparred down three flights of stairs, and only once did he need to reach out to keep her from slipping down several steps. They made their way across the first-floor walkway, tossing half-formed snowballs at each other and trying to keep quiet so they wouldn’t wake anyone in the apartments. When they made it into the open lawn, however, she slammed him with a good one at the base of his neck, and snow fell down the back of his coat.

“Just for that . . .” He lunged at her, grabbing her around the waist and swinging her around. If there’d been more than the inch or two, he would have dragged her to the ground, but as it was, everywhere they scraped snow away left soggy mud.

She strained against him for half a second, but when he loosened his grasp, she grabbed him around the arms, pinning them to his sides, and jostled him back and forth as he had her. Her mischievous smile was inches from his, and without thinking, he leaned forward until her lips were under his.

He hadn’t actually planned this, had not come with this intent in mind, but there she was, laughing and happy and oh so beautiful in the moonlight.


About the Author


Maria Hoagland writes about hearts, homes, and happily ever afters. Known for her fun and flirty sweet romance and women's fiction, Maria's novels make great book club choices. She's published over a dozen books including two Whitney Award finalists, and has no plans to stop writing any time soon. She is a member of the Storymakers Guild and Indie Author Hub, and is currently serving as the Chair for the Storymakers board of directors.



Tour Schedule
(Posts go live on the day they're scheduled.)

December 11th: Launch
December 12th: Julie Coulter Bellon - Truth or Dare
December 13th: Delaney Cameron - The Gift of Love
December 14th: RaneĆ© S. Clark - Her Country Christmas Date
December 15th: Stephanie Fowers - Robin and Marian
December 16th: Aspen Hadley - Blind Dates, Bridesmaids & Other Disasters
December 17th: Maria Hoagland - Santa Cam
December 18th: Rachel John - The Christmas Bachelor Auction
December 19th: Sally Johnson - Dear Mr. Darcy
December 20th: D.E. Malone - Love Like Forever
December 21st: Melissa McClone - Mountain Rescue Romance Series
December 22nd: Brooke St. James - The Suite Life
December 23rd: Grand Finale


Tour Giveaway


1 winner will receive a $50 Amazon eGift Card.
Open internationally (as long as winner is eligible to receive prize).
Ends December 28, 2019.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Book Review: A Wild Child's Guide to Endangered Animals

About the Book:

From New York Times bestselling author Millie Marotta comes this gorgeous celebration of the animal kingdom. A Wild Child's Guide to Endangered Animals highlights the plight of 43 endangered species from around the world, including rare and well-known animals living in freshwater, oceans, forests, mountains, tundras, deserts, grasslands, and wetlands. Vivid illustrations bring caribous, axolotls, giraffes, agami herons, and many more to life on these rich and varied pages. Illuminating text relays the story of each species, from how they live and why they are endangered to what is being done about it. Complete with a map detailing where each species can still be found, this visually rich, timely, informative book raises awareness in the most spectacular way.


My Thoughts:

My seven-year-old and I read straight through A Wild Child’s Guide to Endangered Animals by Millie Marotta before integrating it into our daily home education curriculum.  The beautiful illustrations and coordinating narratives entertained and educated. Each page spread showcases one endangered animal and, prior to reading A Wild Child’s Guide to Endangered Animals, I was not familiar with many of the animals in the book. We especially enjoyed learning about the Saola, the Little Dodo Bird (featured on the cover), and the Fishing Cat. Continuing on with this book, we’ll do a daily reading page and supplement the information with online educational videos to reinforce the material.

For other homeschooling parents who hold to an intelligent design view about the origins of our universe, I will state that there are a few mentions of evolution in A Wild Child’s Guide to Endangered Animals by Millie Marotta. Depending on personal beliefs, some parents may wish to avoid that topic while others may use it as a discussion opportunity.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Dear Mr. Darcy by Sally Johnson


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Dear Mr. Darcy
By Sally Johnson
Sweet Contemporary Romance
Paperback and ebook, 140 Pages
June 12th 2019 by Pink Bloom Publishing

Aspiring writer Alivia bombs her Regency novel pitch to hotshot acquisitions editor Will Wright and the result is mutual loathing. But when another publisher wants Alivia’s not-yet-written book in 8 weeks, Alivia panics. Luckily, online book doctor Dear Mr. Darcy is there to help.

Will Wright has big opinions and an even bigger ego. When he’s fired from the publishing house he once lorded over, he scrapes by using his Regency knowledge freelancing as Dear Mr. Darcy.

As they unwittingly work together on Alivia’s book, they begin bonding. Two unknowing enemies are about to become more than friends.

Check out a book trailer here.

(Affiliate link included.)


Excerpt

I felt like I was on the verge of a panic attack. Or passing out. Or both. My nerves were shot, so I paced the hallway outside the intimidating double doors for my nine a.m. pitch session. 

“Alivia, seriously. Just breathe,” my roommate, Naomi, reminded me, which was easy for her to say. She wasn’t about to pitch her manuscript to an editor. She hadn’t been given an hour’s notice that a time slot had opened for a consultation. She didn’t have to convince an editor in ten minutes that her book was good enough for a publishing contract. I was so not ready. 

You’d have thought I’d be ready, considering I was on the waiting list for this pitch session, just in case. But I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t even supposed to be at HEARWO. 

“I feel like good things are going to happen,” Naomi said. “I mean, the fact that we snagged this ticket means Fate is on your side.” Fate came in the form of someone from Naomi’s writing group who had a ticket to HEARWO but couldn’t go. So they were giving their ticket away. For free. And Naomi— being a fantastic friend and the proud owner of her own ticket— thought of me and seized the opportunity. What are friends for? 

“Thanks for believing in me.” I didn’t share her confidence. While Naomi knew she would publish someday, publishing was on my bucket list. Writing a book was also on my bucket list, I just hadn’t managed to do it. Yet. But the chance to attend HEARWO rekindled my interest. An advance from a publisher and royalties from a book could go a long way in repaying my student loans and even supplement my income as an adjunct professor at the local community college and substitute teacher for the school district. And that stupid payday loan I shouldn’t have taken. 

As for the pitch session itself, I was meeting with William D. Wright. I knew nothing about him, other than he was an acquisitions editor for some publishing house I didn’t recognize. What I did recognize was the name of the book he discovered: The Silent Invasion. It had been a bestseller three years before. 

“You’re going to kill it. I know it.” I channeled Naomi’s words. I squared my shoulders, closed my eyes, and practiced my presentation in my mind. I made notes because I hadn’t memorized my blurb. In fact, I didn’t really have a blurb or even a manuscript, for that matter. What I had was a couple of chapter drafts and an idea— the perfect idea. I figured if an agent accepted my pitch, I’d just write the book really, really quickly. 

Sally Johnson. Dear Mr. Darcy. Pink Bloom Publishing. 
Sally Johnson. Dear Mr. Darcy (Kindle Locations 101-113). Pink Bloom Publishing. 
Sally Johnson. Dear Mr. Darcy (Kindle Locations 95-101). Pink Bloom Publishing.


About the Author


Sally Johnson has wanted to write books since she was twelve years old. Now that she's *slightly* older, her dream has come true. She loves playing with her imaginary friends, shopping for vintage furniture, and has a collection of pretty notebooks she may or may not ever use. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband, four children and dog.



Tour Schedule
(Posts go live on the day they're scheduled.)

December 11th: Launch
December 12th: Julie Coulter Bellon - Truth or Dare
December 13th: Delaney Cameron - The Gift of Love
December 14th: RaneĆ© S. Clark - Her Country Christmas Date
December 15th: Stephanie Fowers - Robin and Marian
December 16th: Aspen Hadley - Blind Dates, Bridesmaids & Other Disasters
December 17th: Maria Hoagland - Santa Cam
December 18th: Rachel John - The Christmas Bachelor Auction
December 19th: Sally Johnson - Dear Mr. Darcy
December 20th: D.E. Malone - Love Like Forever
December 21st: Melissa McClone - Mountain Rescue Romance Series
December 22nd: Brooke St. James - The Suite Life
December 23rd: Grand Finale


Tour Giveaway


1 winner will receive a $50 Amazon eGift Card
Open internationally (as long as winner is eligible to receive prize)
Ends December 28, 2019

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: His Christmas Wish by Melissa McClone


On Tour with Prism Book Tours


Meet the members of Oregon Mountain Search and Rescue and watch them fall in love in Hood Hamlet with a little help from Christmas magic.

In His Christmas Wish, Jake Porter is burdened by guilt, believing he could have saved two friends during a climbing accident and kept Carly Bishop from the heart-wrenching loss of her fiancĆ© and brother. When she arrives in town for the holidays, Jake wants to make amends so they can both move forward with their lives. As he helps Carly experience the magic of Christmas, will he also be able to open her heart to…love?

In Her Christmas Secret, Sean Hughes asks snowboarder Zoe Flynn to pose as his girlfriend at Thanksgiving dinner, which will take the pressure off him from his meddling family, who enjoy matchmaking. But when an injury occurs, the two are forced to continue their one-night ruse until the line between make-believe and reality blurs. Zoe, however, has a secret…a big one. Is their new relationship strong enough to withstand the truth?

In Her Christmas Kiss, Leanne Thomas works hard to be “one of the boys” at the fire station and on the mountain. After she rescues gorgeous, rookie firefighter Christian Welton, he glimpses a softer, more vulnerable side to her tough-as-nails personality and he’s intrigued. A surprise kiss under the mistletoe sparks a three-alarm fire, but something is holding her back. Will Christian’s kisses break through Leanne’s tough exterior and melt her heart? 

In His Christmas Family, Bill Paulson invites two wayward travelers into his home. Something about Grace Wilcox, a widow, and her young son touches Bill’s heart, so he decides to give them a special Christmas. When attraction flares between Grace and Bill, she won’t gamble her heart on a hero and Bill doesn’t consider himself husband material. Can a little Christmas magic show them love and a family are worth the risks?

(Affiliate link included.)


Excerpt from His Christmas Wish

The door cracked open.

“Welcome back, Carly,” a male voice greeted her warmly.

She’d expected to see Hannah’s husband of two years, Garrett Willingham, but the man standing in the doorway looked nothing like the clean-cut, non-risk-taking, business-suit-wearing certified public accountant. This guy was too rugged, too fit, too…familiar.

“Jacob Porter.”

Over six feet tall with brown hair that fell past his collar, he still had piercing blue eyes, a killer smile, and a hot, hard body that made the girls, herself included, swoon back in high school. Those features had only improved with age.

Her pulse kicked up a notch. “What are you doing here?”

“Waiting for you.” His grin widened, the same way it had whenever he and Nick teased her. “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry…” Simply thinking the word left a bitter taste in her mouth. She couldn’t bring herself to say it. “Season’s greetings. Where’s Hannah?”

“At a doctor’s appointment,” Jacob explained. “Garrett drove her. She didn’t know if they’d be home by the time you arrived or before the school bus dropped off Kendall and Austin, so they asked me to come over.”

Carly noticed Jacob’s clothes—a light blue button-down oxford shirt, khaki pants, and brown leather shoes. A bit more stylish than the T-shirts, jeans, and sneakers she remembered him wearing. He must have come from work.

“Thank you.” Though she wasn’t surprised. Jacob had always gone out of his way for them, a surrogate everything to what remained of the Bishop family. He’d found her the job in Philadelphia. He’d taught Nick’s two kids to ski and fish. He’d even introduced Hannah to Garrett.

“Come inside before you get too cold.” Jacob reached for Carly’s suitcase. His hand—big, callused, and warm—brushed hers. The accidental contact startled her, and she jerked away. “You city girls aren’t used to the temperatures up here.”

Forget the cold. She wasn’t used to her response to his touch. That was unusual for her. “Philadelphia gets cold, too.”

As she stepped inside, heat surrounded Carly, cocooning her with the inviting comforts of home. The homey touches—a fleece blanket on a chair, throw pillows, candles, and framed photos—were ones missing from her apartment.

His gaze ran the length of her. “You look the same.”

He looked better. “So does this place.”

And that somehow made everything…worse.


About the Author


USA Today bestselling author Melissa McClone has written over forty-five sweet contemporary romance novels. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds, and cats who think they rule the house. They do!



Tour Schedule
(Posts go live on the day they're scheduled.)

December 11th: Launch
December 12th: Julie Coulter Bellon - Truth or Dare
December 13th: Delaney Cameron - The Gift of Love
December 14th: RaneĆ© S. Clark - Her Country Christmas Date
December 15th: Stephanie Fowers - Robin and Marian
December 16th: Aspen Hadley - Blind Dates, Bridesmaids & Other Disasters
December 17th: Maria Hoagland - Santa Cam
December 18th: Rachel John - The Christmas Bachelor Auction
December 19th: Sally Johnson - Dear Mr. Darcy
December 20th: D.E. Malone - Love Like Forever
December 21st: Melissa McClone - Mountain Rescue Romance Series
December 22nd: Brooke St. James - The Suite Life
December 23rd: Grand Finale


Tour Giveaway



1 winner will receive a $50 Amazon eGift Card.
Open internationally (as long as winner is eligible to receive prize).
Ends December 28, 2019.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Book Review: Love You, Truly by Susan L. Tuttle

About the Book:

Blake Carlton, the camera-shy son of Hollywood’s Darling, dodges the invasive limelight and scripted relationships that so often accompany fame. But when his mother’s popularity declines and she falls into a depression, he offers himself up as the next bachelor on a reality show, hoping to reignite interest in her career while creating a way for them to finally connect.

After her fiancĆ© dumps her for her best friend, aspiring photographer Harlow Tucker is done with romance—until her beloved, disabled sister requests her aid to start a nonprofit. Harlow agrees to do whatever is needed to raise funds, even reluctantly costarring on a dating show with a notorious womanizer who distrusts anyone behind a lens.

As Blake and Harlow navigate the superficiality of a reality show, their preconceived notions of love are challenged. Deciding to trust each other feels like the ultimate risk, but taking that chance could lead to a love truly picture-perfect, worth both of their hearts.

My Thoughts:

I adored every page of Love You, Truly by Susan L. Tuttle. With a reality tv show as its setting, the perpetual changes and circumstantial drama held my attention throughout the story. The amazing romantic tension between Blake and Harlow made me resist putting it down even when I should have. As soon as I finished the book, I wanted to start back at the beginning and enjoy it again.

But it wasn’t all reality tv drama and sizzling romance in Love You, Truly. The novel has boldly-stated themes about how true fulfillment comes only from God, finding God’s purpose for one’s life, dealing with rejection, and feelings of inferiority. Both Blake and Harlow experience different types of loneliness and cope with it in different ways. It was a pleasure to find substantial character development in this contemporary romance. 

I recommend Love You, Truly by Susan L. Tuttle to readers looking for an amazing Christian romance novel. Seriously, it’s in my top ten books for this year. This was my first book by Susan L. Tuttle and I’ll be on the lookout for more! 5 Stars!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this ebook by the author. All opinions in this review are my own.

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Love Like Forever by D. E. Malone


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Love Like Forever
(Hearts in Hendricks #4)
By D.E. Malone

Sweet Contemporary Romance
Paperback and ebook, 234 Pages
October 3rd 2019 

Stealing Her Heart Was Not In His Job Description

Romance is the last thing on Carmen Navarro’s mind. Up to her neck in student debt, she needs a teaching job, and she needs one fast. As if that wasn’t stressful enough, she’s also overseeing her parents’ renovation project—which would be easier if the carpenter on the job had a little more work ethic and a lot less swagger. She has no time for his flirty banter and affable charm. So why can’t she get him out of her head?

Matt Stetman is a catch. Everyone in Hendricks knows he’d give the shirt off his back to help a friend in need. He’s been told a time or two that he’s pretty delightful to be around too. But for some reason, the enigmatic Carmen seems immune to his charms.

Just as Matt begins to make headway—with the project and with Carmen—a secret from his past threatens to ruin everything. Can Carmen find the courage to trust Matt and take a shot at love? Or is the foundation of their relationship now broken beyond repair?

(Affiliate link included.)


Excerpt

“Wait, is this Carmen Navarro’s remodel?” Sean asked.

“Who’s Carmen Navarro?”

Sean tipped his chin, looking over Matt’s shoulder. “The woman walking up the driveway.” 

Matt turned to look, but the sun had moved slightly and the glare on the hood blinded him. He squeezed his eyes shut, rubbed them, but still saw spots as he tried to focus on the figure coming toward them. Shoes hit the pavement in clipped measure and then stopped. Meanwhile, he couldn’t make out anything but a vague outline of this person with hands planted on her hips.

“Hi, Sean. I didn’t expect to see you here. Do you know who’s in charge here?” The voice was decidedly feminine, but it was also demanding, no-nonsense. 

“That would be him,” Sean said, clapping Matt on the back.

There was a hint of humor in Sean’s voice. Thanks, bro. Throw me to the shark lady.

He wiped more tears from his burning eyes, hoping for some relief. “Except I can’t see at the moment,” he mumbled.

“You don’t need to see to give me an update. Also, a timeline for finishing would be appreciated too.”

Gradually, his vision cleared enough for Carmen Navarro to come into view.

If her eyes weren’t narrowed to slits and a frown hadn’t turned the corners of her generous lips downward, Matt would say she was the prettiest female he’d seen in a long time. There was a messy knot of black hair squeezed into a rubber band at the nape of her neck like she’d run out of time or patience. His eyes betrayed him again and he looked down to press his fingers against his eyelids. He noted her shoes while he did, since they’d announced her arrival so clearly. Those expensive strappy things that everyone seemed to be wearing. Turquoise toenails too. 

Matt blinked, tears watering his cheeks. Despite the temporary handicap, he grinned. And he wasn’t blind enough to notice her checking out his current state of shirtlessness. 

“I’m waiting,” she said, looking the other way when he caught her.

Oh, she wasn’t fooling anyone.


Other Books in the Series


(Linked to an Amazon affiliate link.)


About the Author


D.E. Malone writes sweet contemporary romance and is the author of the Hearts in Hendricks series. She also writes for middle grade audiences under Dawn Malone, and is the author of BINGO SUMMER and THE UPSIDE OF DOWN. Her work has also appeared in Highlights for Children, Pockets, and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She loves traveling to places off the beaten path which inspire the small-town settings in her stories. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, hiking, volunteering with shelter dogs, and continuing her never-ending quest for the holy grail of bakeries.



Tour Schedule
(Posts go live on the day they're scheduled.)

December 11th: Launch
December 12th: Julie Coulter Bellon - Truth or Dare
December 13th: Delaney Cameron - The Gift of Love
December 14th: RaneĆ© S. Clark - Her Country Christmas Date
December 15th: Stephanie Fowers - Robin and Marian
December 16th: Aspen Hadley - Blind Dates, Bridesmaids & Other Disasters
December 17th: Maria Hoagland - Santa Cam
December 18th: Rachel John - The Christmas Bachelor Auction
December 19th: Sally Johnson - Dear Mr. Darcy
December 20th: D.E. Malone - Love Like Forever
December 21st: Melissa McClone - Mountain Rescue Romance Series
December 22nd: Brooke St. James - The Suite Life
December 23rd: Grand Finale


Tour Giveaway


1 winner will receive a $50 Amazon eGift Card.
Open internationally (as long as winner is eligible to receive prize).
Ends December 28, 2019.

First Line Fridays: Synapse by Steven James

Happy Friday!

First Line Fridays is hosted by Hoarding Books and participants share the first line from a nearby book.

Today, I'm sharing the first line from Synapse by Steven James:

"You do not hear your baby cry.."

Have you read this book? I browsed the first chapter and it made me pretty sad, so I haven't picked it back up.

What are you reading this weekend? I'd love for you to share your book's first line!

Happy reading!


About the Book:

Thirty years in the future, when AI is so advanced that humans live side by side with cognizant robots called Artificials, Kestrel Hathaway must come to terms not just with what machines knowbut with what they believe.

Soon after experiencing a personal tragedy, Kestrel witnesses a terrorist attack and is drawn into a world of conspiracies and lies that she and Jordan, her Artificial, have to untangle. With a second, more brutal attack looming on the horizon, their best chance of stopping it is teaming up with federal counter-terrorism agent Nick Vernon. But the clock is ticking—and all the while, Jordan is asking questions Artificials were never meant to ask.

Deftly weaving suspense and intrigue into a rich, resonant tale that explores faith and what it really means to be human, Steven James offers us a glimpse into the future—and into our own hearts. Synapse is an unforgettable, gripping story of dreams shattered, truth revealed, and hope reborn.


First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Book Review: The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson

About the Book:

Just when you think you’ve met your match . . . the charade begins.

Cassie Everson is an expert at escaping bad first dates. And, after years of meeting, greeting, and running from the men who try to woo her, Cassie is almost ready to retire her hopes for a husband—and children—altogether.

But fate has other plans, and Cassie’s online dating profile catches the eye of firefighter Jett Bentley. In Jett’s memory, Cassie Everson is the unreachable girl-of-legend from their high school days. Nervously, he messages her, setting off a chain of events that forces a reluctant Cassie back into the dating game.

No one is more surprised than Cassie when her first date with Jett is a knockout. But when they both go home and find three children dropped in their laps—each—they independently decide to do the right and mature thing: hide the kids from each other while sorting it all out. What could go wrong?

Melissa Ferguson’s hilarious and warmhearted debut reminds us that love can come in very small packages—and that sometimes our best-laid plans aren’t nearly as rewarding and fun as the surprises that come our way.


My Thoughts:

If I had to describe The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson in one word, it would be adorable. I liked this book from the first page and went through all the emotions with it. I laughed, I cried, and I smiled again. While there’s laugh-out-loud humor, there’s also intense emotional drama that brought me to tears. Embedded in it all are themes about family, love, and self-sacrifice.

Adoption and fostering children play a large part in The Dating Charade. It was a pleasure to watch Cassie and Jett adapt to their new normal as foster parents. While I didn’t like some of their decisions/actions, the sweet romance and the promise of a happily-ever-after kept me interested. The ending felt a bit rushed, without Cassie and Jett really working to resolve/compromise on some of their differences of opinion. Still, I finished the novel with a smile on my face.

The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson will appeal to readers who enjoy inspirational contemporary romance. Attendance at church functions is depicted, but the book is not overly preachy. It’s a strong debut novel that I’ll keep to reread and I look forward to more of Melissa Ferguson’s work.




Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided an arc copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Blind Dates, Bridesmaids & Other Disasters


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Blind Dates, Bridesmaids & Other Disasters
By Aspen Hadley

Sweet Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Hardcover and ebook, 272 Pages
July 9th 2019 by Sweetwater Books

On the surface, Rachel Stevens's life looks perfect.

One great job, two awesome roommates, and a supportive family. But when her roommate Hannah announces her engagement, Rachel sees eternal singleness and innumerable cats in her future. When the bride-to-be issues a challenge--go on six blind dates and before the "I do's" --Rachel isn't convinced her imagined future is that bad in comparison. The dates are predictably horrible and the situation further complicated by the return of James, Rachel's first, long-lost love. James says he is over her . . . but is Rachel over him?

(Affiliate links included.)


Excerpt

As the starting time (for the 10k race) arrived, (my blind date) Mitch announced that he wanted to be at the front of the crowd. I followed him with heavy feet. How was I supposed to look all athletic and charming while moving my body in a way it wasn’t familiar with? Not to mention my lungs. My poor lungs were about to have the fight of their life. 

I was saved having to overthink it by the sound of a gunshot. My first thought was to duck, but others around me took off running, and I managed to keep from embarrassing myself thanks to my instinctual herd mentality. When everyone around you is running, you run. 

Mitch was kind enough to let me set the pace. It was a mistake on his part, but it was kind. After a minute or two during which I applauded myself for pulling off a steady jog, Mitch finally spoke up. 

“All warmed up?” he asked. 

Oh heavenly days. He thought I was just getting started when in reality I was at my peak performance. Still, I nodded. My mom always warned me that pride cometh before the fall. 

“Great, let’s go.” 

Mitch poured on the juice and moved ahead of me on the road as he zigged and zagged between other runners. I pushed myself harder and managed to make a respectable showing while dodging people. When I caught up to him, he started asking me more questions. 

“Where did you go to college? How did you meet your roommates? What’s your favorite kind of food? Favorite vacation spot?” He fired questions faster than I could answer them. 

I was trying desperately to respond, to appear fit as a fiddle, to be charming and lovely. In the end, it wasn’t meant to be. I don’t know if a rock caught my toe or if my foot gave out, but one moment I was cheerfully telling him I loved Mexican food and the next I was eating asphalt. 

I heard Mitch make a sound as he looked back and saw me on my stomach. I was trying to catch my breath as he hurried back to my side and rolled me onto my back. A stinging sensation on my chin told me I’d hit it too. I hoped it wasn’t scraped too badly. I reached up trembling fingers to test it. They came away with some blood and gravel. I winced and put my fingers back on my wound. 

“Did you get the wind knocked out of you?” Mitch asked. It was a perfect excuse for my heavy breathing, so I nodded and let him think that. “Are you hurt anywhere? Can you move your legs? Did you hit your head or just your chin?” he asked. What was with him and a zillion questions all the time? This time I shook my head. 

“Rachel?” Suddenly James’s face came into view above Mitch’s shoulder. 

I let my eyes slide closed, my fingers still covering my chin, as I felt a lump rise in my throat at the sight of him. Kind of like how you’re always okay with getting hurt until your Mom shows up, and then you’re a sobbing mess. 


About the Author

Aspen Hadley loves nothing more than a great story. She has devoted herself to story-telling for the majority of her life, writing her first novel at her kitchen table in the 8th grade. Aspen writes what she wants to read: clean, sassy, romantic comedy novels that give you a break from real life and leave you feeling happy.

Outside of writing, Aspen's number one hobby is reading. Number two is sneaking chocolate into and out of her private stash without being caught. Other favorite things include: playing the piano, listening to classic rock, telling jokes around the dinner table, eating ice cream, traveling, a good case of the giggles, and riding on ATVs over the mountains and deserts of Utah.
Aspen shares her life with a patient husband, 4 hilarious children, and 1 grumpy dog in a quiet suburb in the foothills of her beloved mountains. 

Given the choice she would road trip her life away, singing along to the radio and sleeping in every morning.



Tour Schedule
(Posts go live on the day they're scheduled.)

December 11th: Launch
December 12th: Julie Coulter Bellon - Truth or Dare
December 13th: Delaney Cameron - The Gift of Love
December 14th: RaneĆ© S. Clark - Her Country Christmas Date
December 15th: Stephanie Fowers - Robin and Marian
December 16th: Aspen Hadley - Blind Dates, Bridesmaids & Other Disasters
December 17th: Maria Hoagland - Santa Cam
December 18th: Rachel John - The Christmas Bachelor Auction
December 19th: Sally Johnson - Dear Mr. Darcy
December 20th: D.E. Malone - Love Like Forever
December 21st: Melissa McClone - Mountain Rescue Romance Series
December 22nd: Brooke St. James - The Suite Life
December 23rd: Grand Finale


Tour Giveaway


1 winner will receive a $50 Amazon eGift Card
Open internationally (as long as winner is eligible to receive prize)
Ends December 28, 2019.