Monday, May 23, 2016

Deception Island by Brynn Kelly (4 stars)

About Deception Island

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: HQN Books (May 31, 2016)

A stolen boy 
A haunted soldier 
A cornered con woman… 

Rafe Angelito thought he was done with the demons from his past—until his son is kidnapped. Blackmailed into abducting an American heiress, the legionnaire soon finds himself trapped in paradise with a fiery, daring beauty who’s nothing he expects…and everything he desires. But when he uncovers her own dark secret, Rafe realizes he’s made a critical mistake—one that could cost him everything.
Playing body double for a spoiled socialite was supposed to be Holly Ryan’s ticket to freedom. But when she’s snatched off her yacht by a tall, dark and dangerous stranger, the not-quite-reformed con artist will make a desperate play to turn her captor from enemy to ally, by any means necessary.

Yet as scorching days melt into sultry nights, Holly is drawn to the mysterious capitaine, with his unexpected sense of honor and his searing touch. When they’re double-crossed, they’ll have to risk trusting each other in ways they never imagined…because in this deadly game of deception, it’s their lives—and hearts—on the line.

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Review

Rafe and Holly are thrown together by crazy circumstances. Rafe is desperate to save his son from a madman. To do so, he's being forced to kidnap and kill a Senator's daughter. Except things aren't as they seem. Holly has a convoluted past--one she's trying to overcome by putting her life in peril.

Thus begins a fast-paced cat and mouse game where the two must work together if they have any hope of coming out alive. 

From the very first word, you are thrown into this story, and the action doesn't let up. Two desperate people must learn to trust each other to save themselves and Rafe's son from a man with nothing to lose. Along the way, they find themselves drawn to each other.

Trust is an issue, but desire and attraction are not, as Rafe and Holly bond. Desperate and intense situations explode into a strong connection between them, one of passion and need. Both will have to let their guard down in order to survive. 

(And if you like a strong, kick-butt female character like I do, you'll connect with Holly right away.)

Interesting characters, heart-pounding action, scorching heat... these prove to be a great story-telling combination and a fast read. Once you start, you won't be able to put it down. 

Rating: 4 stars

About Brynn Kelly

As a journalist Brynn Kelly once spent her days chasing stranger-than-fiction news reports. Now she spends them writing larger-than-life novels, in a happy bubble of fiendish plots and delicious words. Brynn has a journalism degree and has won several prestigious writing and journalism awards, including the Valerie Parv Award and Pacific Hearts Award. Her debut novel Deception Island was a Golden Heart finalist. She’s also a bestselling non-fiction author in her native New Zealand.

Connect with Brynn



Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 
Please visit other stops on Deception Island blog tour page.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Earthborn by PM Hernandez (5 stars)

About Earthborn

ADELAIDE BECKER—social outcast and sarcastic know-it-all—enjoys her quiet life until a giant alien crash-lands into it. He claims she’s half alien like him—an Earthborn—and he’s there to save her from the coming invasion. Being half little green man isn’t enough to convince Addy to go along with her supposed savior, but when her mother’s safety is threatened, she takes off on a journey that leads her to discover the other, more exotic side of her family and the power she holds deep within. 

BROCK GRIGNI thinks this will be like any other Earthborn collection. His job is simple—bring his fellow Earthborn back to the compound and save them from the threat of becoming breeding slaves at the hands of aliens from their home planet, Ayezh. He isn’t prepared for Addy—beautiful, smart-mouthed, and his complete opposite in every way. When he learns that everything he trusts is a lie, he has nothing left to hold onto except Addy. 

Together, Addy and Brock must struggle with the challenges and choices before them. Stay and fight, or run and hide? They know the Ayezhni—their ancestors and aliens from a planet in distress—are on their way and will make a collection of their own. Addy feels compelled to help her fellow Earthborn, but can she do that and keep her loved ones safe at the same time?


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Review

Addy goes from a quiet, loner life to hanging out with aliens. Not just hanging out... being targeted. Others are there to protect her, but telling the difference could prove difficult. In a rush of revelations and realizations, she's on the run, trusting her life--and her mother's--to people she's known for a few days. People who aren't human.

I've said it time and time again, but memorable reads are all about good, relatable characters, and this book is brimming with them. Addy is both vulnerable and strong while being tenacious and thoughtful. Brock... can you see me fanning myself? He's a hottie with a heart. A perfect combination. 

Together they need to find answers and take into account that their journey involves more than just them... it has long-reaching effects for their families and all of mankind.

And for sci-fi lovers... this is just the beginning of what I predict to be fascinating sci-fi coolness. I can't wait for more in the series. A great read.

Rating: 5 stars


About the Author

Paulette (PM) Hernandez is a young adult paranormal, sci-fi, and fantasy author. She is a self-proclaimed nerd. She wears a lot of black, not because she’s cool but because she’s fashion-challenged. She has been known to fangirl all over the freaking place.

Connect with Paulette
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Note: I was the Editor on this book through Indie Books Gone Wild. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Because I Love You by Tori Rigby (5 stars)

About Because I Love You

Published by: Blaze Publishing
Publication date: May 17th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult


Eight weeks after sixteen-year-old Andie Hamilton gives her virginity to her best friend, “the stick” says she’s pregnant.
Her friends treat her like she’s carrying the plague, her classmates torture and ridicule her, and the boy she thought loved her doesn’t even care. Afraid to experience the next seven months alone, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, Neil Donaghue, a dark-haired, blue-eyed player. With him, she finds comfort and the support she desperately needs to make the hardest decision of her life: whether or not to keep the baby.

Then a tragic accident leads Andie to discover Neil’s keeping a secret that could dramatically alter their lives, and she’s forced to make a choice. But after hearing her son’s heartbeat for the first time, she doesn’t know how she’ll ever be able to let go.
Review

Andi Hamilton is facing a teenage pregnancy, complicated by the father wanting nothing to do with her, much less a baby. Out of fear and need, she finds comfort in the arms of her ex-boyfriend, Neil. 

Will she decide to keep the baby? Will she and Neil beat the odds?

As the mom to three girls, this story really hit home with me. Andi's a well-meaning and pretty straight-laced young woman, but it only takes one mistake to forever change her life. This leaves Andi with a huge decision--what to do about her pregnancy. Her journey to a decision is beautiful, captivating, heart-breaking, and life-affirming. What it isn't is easy.

During such a gut-wrenching time, she begins to fall in love, and not with the Baby Daddy. Nothing about her decision-making process is easy, and she doesn't take a moment of it lightly. And I loved that her mother was part of the journey. Too often we see overly-preachy parents in these situations. 

I adored Because I Love You. It’s an intense emotional journey, and I was sad to say goodbye to these characters. A truly great read.

Rating: 5 stars

About Tori Rigby

Adopted at three-days-old by a construction worker and a stay at home mom, Tori Rigby grew up with her nose in a book and her fingers on piano keys, always awaiting the day she’d take her own adventure. 

Now, she goes on multiple journeys through her contemporary and historical romances. She longs to live in the Scottish Highlands, and her favorite place in history is Medieval England—she’d even give up her Internet and running water to go back in time! Tori also writes high-concept genre fiction as Vicki Leigh, and when she isn’t writing, she’s kicking butt in krav maga or attending classes to learn how to catch bad guys. 
Note: I served as the Proofreader on this book through Indie Books Gone Wild. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Her One and Only by Becky Wade (3.5 stars)

About Her One and Only

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (May 3, 2016)

Gray Fowler, star NFL tight end, is being pursued by a stalker, so his team hires a protection agency to keep Gray under the watch of a bodyguard at all times. When Gray meets Dru Porter, an agent assigned to him, he’s indignant. How can an attractive young female half his size possibly protect him? 

But Dru’s a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt. She’s also ferociously determined to uncover the identity of Gray’s stalker. And she’s just as determined to avoid any kind of romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past. But the closer they get to finding the stalker, the closer they grow to each other. As the danger rises, can Dru and Gray entrust their hearts–and their lives–to one another? 

“Down-to-earth, in-depth characters give the story an authentic feel. Dru, being the youngest Porter, is headstrong and sympathetic, and when she matches wits with Gray, their connection is as electric as their budding romance is sweet. A delightful read.”—RT Book Reviews .

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Review

Dru Porter is a former Marine, expert markswoman, and a black belt. As the youngest in a family of all boys, she's always been tough. Now she's assigned to protect a star NFL player.

When she begins to develop feelings for him, she wonders if she can protect him.


Great characters are crucial components to an awesome read, and this story has them in spades. Both Dru and Gray are well developed through alternating points of view. And the romance between them is sweet and complicated--which I love because it's more realistic than most fictional romance situations. 

In addition, the mystery of who's stalking and threatening Gray is intriguing, and I appreciated the underlying Christian messages.

Then why a 3.5 rating, you might ask. This story had a bit of an identity crisis. It starts off as a suspenseful romance and becomes a Christian romance. I wish the two elements had been blended better, especially at the beginning.


Still, it doesn't keep this from being a sweet and page-turning read. A great choice for a summer read.

Rating: 3.5 stars

About Becky Wade

Wade_BeckyBecky Wade is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and moved to Dallas. She published historical romances for the general market, took time off to raise her children, then felt God nudging her to pursue contemporary Christian fiction.

Becky is a Carol Award winner and a finalist for both a RITA and an INSPY Award.

Connect with Becky 
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 
Please visit other stops on Her One and Only blog tour page.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Think You Know Me by Tricia Copeland (4.5 stars)

About Think You Know Me
(Being Me, Book 3)

March 20 
This isn’t fair! I see his face every time I close my eyes, hear his mother’s words echo in my dreams. And he’s a headline again? How do I move past the rage and guilt when he won’t go away? I need him gone. He doesn’t get to win like this. I won’t let him. 
–Amanda 

Amanda’s first year of college is fraught with drama and parental scrutiny. With her relationship secure and a clean break from her parents, all she wants is a normal term. But fate steps in and deals a shattering blow. Think You Know Me will keep you guessing from the first chapter. 


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Review

After a rough start to college, Amanda was finally on the mend and very much in love. But then another challenge is thrown her way, and it cripples her at first, leaving her in her most fragile state. Can even Doug, the love of her life, help her find her way?

Amanda is a character I've come to really care about through the series. She's vulnerable, yet strong. Determined, yet fragile. I don't want to give anything away, but her encounter early in the book pushes her to the brink... and the reader is left wondering if she'll recover. And, even if she does, how much it will change her.

This installment is more raw and emotional than the previous two... a natural progression for the character and the story. We get to experience a very intimate breakdown in Amanda's psyche while still seeing glimpses of the fighter underneath.

A truly captivating read.

Rating: 4.5 stars

About the Author

Tricia Copeland grew up in Georgia but now lives outside the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado with her husband, three kids, and multiple four legged and finned friends. An avid runner and paranormal fan, she also enjoys hiking, trivia, and Scrabble. 

You can connect with Tricia and other readers on FacebookInstagramTwitterPinterest, and on her website, www.triciacopeland.com.

Note: I was the Editor on this book through Indie Books Gone Wild. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie (3.5 stars)

About The Rivals of Versailles

Series: The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy
Paperback: 448 pages 
Publisher: Atria Books (April 5, 2016) 

And you thought sisters were a thing to fear! In this compelling follow-up to Sally Christie’s clever and absorbing debutwe meet none other than the Marquise de Pompadour, one of the greatest beauties of her generation and the first bourgeois mistress ever to grace the hallowed halls of Versailles. 

The year is 1745 and Louis XV’s bed is once again empty. Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a beautiful girl from the middle classes. As a child, a fortune teller had mapped out Jeanne’s destiny: she would become the lover of a king and the most powerful woman in the land. Eventually connections, luck, and a little scheming pave her way to Versailles and into the King’s arms. 

All too soon, conniving politicians and hopeful beauties seek to replace the bourgeois interloper with a more suitable mistress. As Jeanne, now the Marquise de Pompadour, takes on her many rivals—including a lustful lady-in-waiting; a precocious fourteen-year-old prostitute, and even a cousin of the notorious Nesle sisters—she helps the king give himself over to a life of luxury and depravity. Around them, war rages, discontent grows, and France inches ever closer to the Revolution.

Enigmatic beauty, social climber, actress, trendsetter, patron of the arts, spendthrift, whoremonger, friend, lover, foe: history books may say many things about the famous Marquise de Pompadour. Alongside Catherine the Great of Russia and Maria Theresa of Austria, she is considered one of the three most powerful women of the 18th century, and one of the most influential royal mistresses of all time. 

In The Rivals of Versailles, Christie gets to the heart of Pompadour’s legendary relationship with Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” king. Pompadour was not only his mistress, but his confidante and influential political adviser for close to twenty years. Full of historical insight, decadence, wit and scandal, The Rivals of Versailles is about one woman’s trials and triumphs, her love for a kind, and her role in shaping a nation. 

Told in Christie’s witty and modern style, this second book in the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the world of eighteenth century Versailles in all its pride, pestilence and glory. 

Praise for The Sisters of Versailles: 

“Sally Christie’s The Sisters of Versailles is an intriguing romp through Louis XV’s France. Filled with lush backdrops, rich detail, and colorful characters, fans of historical fiction will enjoy this glimpse into the lost golden era of the French monarchy.” (Allison Pataki, author of THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS) 

“A stunning breadth of period detail, offered in a fresh, contemporary voice.” (Juliet Grey, author of the acclaimed Marie Antoinette trilogy) 

“Such an extraordinary tale makes for compelling reading and, as the lead book in a planned trilogy, will draw in readers who are interested in royal lives before the French Revolution…. Historical fiction fans, unfamiliar with the history of the Nesle sisters, will be intrigued.” (Library Journal) 

“Tantalizing descriptions and cliff-hangers will leave the reader rapidly turning the pages in anticipation… A wickedly delightful read.” (New York Daily News)

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Review

Sally Christie has a way with words, as evidenced in the summary above. I mean, what about the following description doesn't make you want to know more about this character: Enigmatic beauty, social climber, actress, trendsetter, patron of the arts, spendthrift, whoremonger, friend, lover, foe: history books may say many things about the famous Marquise de Pompadour.

Wow. And she is all of those things. But, I still had a hard time connecting with her. Rating a book is completely subjective, and I've discovered that this time in history doesn't enthrall me like it does others. It's a time where women controlled through sex, let's just be honest, because they couldn't hold any visible positions of power. But then, of course, the man (in this case the king) gets tired of them as they age or simply because he needs the latest conquest. 

What I found more fascinating than the supposed romance (it never seemed a true romance to me, because the king never seems in it past his own selfish needs) was how the Marquise handled things once she was no longer the king's favorite. That's where her real strength came through.

For history lovers, this is a captivating look at the underbelly of French society and government. I would've loved to have been privy to the king's point of view in this story, too. I think that would have made her true influence more clear.

Thanks to beautiful writing and intriguing characters, I would recommend this to people captivated by this time in history.

Rating: 3.5 stars

About Sally Christie 

Sally Christie was born in England of British parents but grew up mostly in Canada. As a child she moved around with her family and then continued her wandering as she pursued a career in international development; she’s lived in 14 different countries and worked in many more. She’s now settled in Toronto and loving it. 

Sally lives and breathes history; ever since she read Antonia Fraser’s masterful Mary, Queen of Scots when she was 10, she’s been an avid history junkie. She wishes more attention and technical innovation was devoted to time travel, because there is nothing she would rather do than travel back in time! Writing historical fiction is a poor substitute, but it’s the best one we have at the moment. When not reading and writing history, she’s a tennis and Scrabble fanatic. 

Connect with Sally 
Website | Goodreads

Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 
Please visit other stops on The Rivals of Versailles blog tour page.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Scandalous Proposal by Kasey Michaels (4.5 stars) & Giveaway

About A Scandalous Proposal

Series: The Little Season (Book 2) 
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages Publisher: HQN Books (March 29, 2016) 

The drama of London’s Little Season continues in this vibrant new series by USA TODAY bestselling author Kasey Michaels featuring three courageous war heroes surrendering at last to love…  

Who would have thought a man could tire of being fawned over and flirted with? Ever since Cooper Townsend returned from France as a hero with a new title, he has been relentlessly pursued by every marriageable miss in London. Perhaps that’s why the unconventional Miss Daniella Foster is so appealing. She doesn’t simper or flatter. She only wants him to help unmask her sister’s blackmailer, and Coop has never been so intrigued… 

Let every other woman in London fight over His Lordship’s romantic attentions. Marriage is the last thing on Dany’s mind…at least until she samples his illicit kisses. Now, as a mutual enemy races to ruin Coop’s reputation and Dany’s family name, an engagement of convenience will spark an unlikely passion that might save them both.
  .
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Review

Normally, I summarize a book and then share my thoughts, but I think it can help to get the point in a review sometimes. So, here goes...

What I want in a book--and that's the beauty of what we love as readers, we all might want different things--is to escape into a world where the characters matter to me, there's some humor and fun, maybe even a little mystery, and a satisfying feeling left at the end. And let's be honest... there are many other factors that affect my feelings about a book that have nothing to do with the story: my mood, timing, health, etc. 

Can I just say that this book hit a real sweet spot with me? I needed some romantic escape with some much-appreciated humor and wittiness. Add to that a spunky female lead who doesn't take no for an answer and a guy who not only appreciates that but is drawn to it, especially in a historical time period where these traits weren't acceptable, and the story fulfilled all my needs as a reader.

There's a fun little blackmail mystery going on, too. Nothing is too heavy or complex. But that's what I really needed right in the moment I was reading it. I'm happy to recommended it as a lovely gem of a book. I hope it hits the same sweet spot for you.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Giveaway

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About Kasey Michaels 

USA TODAY bestselling author Kasey Michaels is the author of more than one hundred books. She has earned four starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, and has won an RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award and several other commendations for her contemporary and historical novels. 

Kasey resides with her family in Pennsylvania.

Connect with Kasey Website | Facebook


Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 
Please visit other stops on the A Scandalous Proposal blog tour page.