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Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Seduction of Lord Stone--The Dashing Widows Book One -- by AnnaCampbell.

Anna Campbell introduces the Dashing Widows; Lady Caroline Beaumont, Lady Fenella Deerham and Helena, Countess of Crewe in her new novella The Seduction of Lord Stone. The friends make plans to have fun, drink champagne and flirt with handsome men when their mourning period ends. They want to be dashing widows, not secluded woman. Caroline is  looking forward to her new life.  She has no plans to remarry, in fact she is planning on having an affair.



"Silas, I've been thinking about our conversation last night."


So, devil take her, had he."You've reconsidered taking a lover?"

A faint frown appeared between her brows. "No, of course not."

"Oh," he said glumly.

"This isn't a whim. I've thought long and hard about my plans." It was her turn to sound glum."The world leaves widows a lot of time to think. I've had more than a year to mull over my intentions."

He'd spent a year mulling his intentions, too. He'd been planning a journey down the aisle. She'd been planning a progress from one lucky sod's bed to the next. The most galling element was that she seemed ready to consider any fool in London as a potential lover. Except for one Silas Nash.

It was enough to drive a fellow stark, staring mad.
The Seduction of Lord Stone is a fabulous friends to lovers story. Loved Caroline and her hero Lord Stone, Silas Nash. Silas is Helena's brother and he has been waiting for Caroline to finish mourning her husband. He is in love with her. There is one slight problem, Silas is Caroline's trusted friend. She doesn't  see him as a lover.

Anna Campbell is known for her well crafted characters and intricately woven story lines. I loved that Caroline asks Silas for advice in choosing her lover.  The banter between Caroline and Silas is fabulous and laugh out loud funny especially when she asks Silas detailed questions about each one of his friends. I felt so bad for Silas!  His replies to Caroline's questions were hilarious!!  Silas wasn't going to let Caroline become involved with any of his friends!! Caroline considered all of Silas' friends as potential lovers and never thought of him! I enjoyed that the author chose to have Silas go to great lengths to convince Caroline that he loved her as it made the reader root for their romance to happen! 



Anna Campbell is one of my favorite authors because her stories are filled with lots of humor and romance. I read this novella in one day. I was invested in the couple's story, loved their back and forth banter and enjoyed how their romance evolved. It's a perfect read for a cozy fall evening. I am looking forward to the next novel in the series.

Reviewed by Susan Gorman
Book provided by Anna Campbell 
Quote Card provided by Possum Wranglers Anonymous

Friday, October 23, 2015

Celebration Christmas by Nancy Robards Thompson

A Celebration Christmas by Nancy Robards Thompson is a wonderful holiday read! The book has great characters, romance and a unique message about the gift of love.



Cullen Dunlevy had never begged for anything in his adult life, but right now he was desperate."I'll pay you triple your salary if you will stay for two more hours, Angie," he said. "And you don't need to clean up after the kids."
"Dr. Dunlevy, there isn't enough money in the world to make me stay." Unmoved, the housekeeper brushed past him. She paused at the top of the stairs. "Call me when you find a home for them."
A home for them? They're kids, not stray animals.
Cullen glanced down at ten-year old Megan Thomas. All the color drained from her already pale cheeks. Then his gaze founds it's way back to the hall-bath toilet, which was overflowing with some kind of expanding blue goop that seemed to be growing exponentially. The prank had been the final straw, the reason for Angie's noon phone call to Cullen at the hospital , informing him that he had exactly one hour to get home because she was fed up and leaving.



Lily Palmer arrives at Cullen Dunlevy's home as Angie, his former housekeeper is running out the front door. Angie advises Lily to "Run while you can. Run and save yourself." Lily is a second grade teacher who needs a part time job during the holiday school break. As Cullen interviews Lily for the nanny position, she takes in her surroundings. The home is designer perfect, stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops, large couch and huge flat screen TV. Lily notices that there are no holiday decorations and Cullen has not bought a Christmas tree. Although the Dunlevy house appears to be perfect at first glance, it's missing the spirit of Christmas.

Nancy Robards Thompson creates a fabulous holiday story. The four Thomas children are orphans; their parents were killed in a car accident and they have no relatives. Cullen has agreed to take them for the month of December while his attorney searches for a home for them. Cullen is dedicated doctor--- he's all business -- a Grinch--until Lily takes charge of his household. Lily gets the children in the holiday spirit, they bake cookies, decorate and buy a tree. 

Loved how the author wove in Lily's tradition of baking stollen bread with her grandmother to the story. To keep the children busy,  Lily taught them how to bake cookies and stollen bread. In the true spirit of Christmas, the children decided to bake stollen, sell it at the holiday market and donate the profits to a children's charity.

The romance between Lily and Cullen hits a few roadblocks as they come to terms with their feelings while caring for four active children. Well meaning friends, an ex wife and an ex fiancĂ©  all play a part in this charming holiday adventure. Out of the blue, Cullen and Lily are gifted tickets to the annual Jingle Bell Ball. Will Cullen remember his date with Lily? Does Lily have a chance with Cullen? Read A Celebration Christmas to see if some Christmas magic occurs at the holiday dance! 


Reviewed by Susan Gorman
Copy of the book provided by the author.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tough Love by Lori Foster ARC copy


Tough Love is part of the Ultimate series by Lori Foster.

This edition has the tale of MMA fighter Stack Hannigan
and model Vanity Baker.
I always think that women are smarter about love than men.
And here is a story that proves it. Well, kind of.
Vanity knows she wants Stack. He is the guy for her.
And that is that.


She has a plan. But as everyone knows, the road leading
to true love is never smooth. So, of course, the plan runs
 into one problem after another.
Luckily, the problems seem to keep putting Stack and
Vanity closer and closer together.
Stack, as with most men, is slower to catch onto the
karma that is bringing them together. He is paying
closer attention to anyone that even looks at Vanity.
And his mom. Plus his sister. Then there is f***ing Phil.
 Geesh, with all these things to pay attention to,
its no wonder he is slow to feel cupids arrow.

Vanity is enjoying Stacks family. She misses being
part of one. The more Vanity fits in, the closer Stack
is to falling head over heels. How long can he
tell himself that this is all just for fun with Vanity?

I usually enjoy Lori Foster's writing. They have a lot
of feeling. There is action. The people in them often
have interesting backgrounds. I like watching for
the skeletons. Everybody has one.
This series has a lot of talk about MMA fighters and
their lives. Its obvious that Lori has a great respect for
the MMA. For myself, I enjoy the love story more.

I won this ARC copy from Lori Foster.
Review by Lisa Hutson





Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Spotlight tour for Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley

Title: Named of the Dragon
Author: Susanna Kearsley
ISBN: 9781402258640
Pubdate: October 6, 2015
Imprint: Sourcebooks Landmark

Summary

A haunting tale of intrigue from New York Times bestselling author Susanna
Kearsley.

SOMEWHERE IN THE HEART OF LEGEND
LIES THE KEY TO HER TERRIFYING DREAMS

The charm of spending the Christmas holidays in South Wales, with its crumbling castles and ancient myths, seems the perfect distraction from the nightmares that have plagued literary agent Lyn Ravenshaw since the loss of her baby five years ago.

Instead, she meets an emotionally fragile young widow who's convinced that Lyn's recurring dreams have drawn her to Castle Farm for an important purpose--and she’s running out of time.

With the help of a reclusive, brooding playwright, Lyn begins to untangle the mystery and is pulled into a world of Celtic legends, dangerous prophecies, and a child destined for greatness.

Author Bio

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and RITA award winner Susanna Kearsley is known for her meticulous research and exotic settings from Russia to Italy to Cornwall, which not only entertain her readers but give her a great reason to travel. Her lush writing has been compared to Mary Stewart, Daphne Du Maurier, and Diana Gabaldon. She won the coveted Romance Writers of America RITA Award for The Firebird, and hit the bestseller lists in the U.S. with The Winter Sea and The Rose Garden, both RITA finalists and winners of RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards. Other honors include finaling for the UK’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award, National Readers’ Choice Awards, and the prestigious Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize. Her popular and critically-acclaimed books are available in translation in more than 20 countries and as audio books. She lives in Canada, near the shores of Lake Ontario.

Social Networking Links


Buy Links



Excerpt

While the halls beside it crumbled from the strain of staying upright, Pembroke Castle’s keep had stood through eight long centuries of tumult, and looked capable of weathering another eight with ease. It had been poked at, over time. Bits of the parapet surrounding the domed roof had tumbled down, or been removed, and when we walked round to the north side I could see the black and jagged hole that marked the first-floor entrance, stripped of all its finer facing stones. But such small scars went virtually unnoticed on a building so imposing.
“I’m not sure you should be doing that,” said James, as I scampered up the flight of steps toward the gaping doorway. “Those steps might not be safe. And anyway, you can’t get in that way, you have to go through here.”
The steps didn’t feel dangerous, but I didn’t imagine that open defiance was something James craved in an agent, and I ought to be trying to show him how well I could listen. Reluctantly, I turned back and went through the proper entrance, a much smaller door set at ground level. It felt like walking through a tunnel—the walls of the keep must have been a good twenty feet thick—but at length it discharged us, like puny adventurers, into the cavernous space.
“You see?” James, who had seen it before, pointed up at a ragged-edged hole, streaming light. “It’s a doorway to nothing, the floors have all gone.”
I had tipped my head backward, struck dumb by the sight.
Originally, there would have been three or more levels here, comfortable rooms, wooden floors, warming fires that burned in the royal apartments, but all of that was lost now to the callous hand of time. What remained, though, was in some ways more impressive.
Stripped to its bare outer walls, it was like a cathedral, a great hollow soaring cathedral of stone, with a perfect domed ceiling and small arching windows that slanted pale light through the reverent gloom. From every ledge and opening long streaks of soft and mossy green dripped downward, passing shades of rust and gentle blues that stained the walls in places where the plaster had not fallen from the gray, unyielding stones.
I took a breath, inhaling dust, and fumbled for my guidebook. “Seventy-five feet,” I said, in awe. “This shaft is seventy-five feet tall.”
James looked at me. “You say that as though it’s a challenge.”
“It is.” I’d always liked climbing things. Turning, I spotted the newel stair, and happily squeezed up one tight winding flight to the first narrow landing. Resting my hands on the cold metal piping that served as a guardrail, I leaned through the open arched doorway to look down at James. “Coming up?”
“No, I’ve done it once, thank you.” He sauntered forward, moving through a shifting web of light and shadow, to see me better. By the time I reached the third and final landing, he was standing in the center of the floor. “Do warn me if you’re going to fall,” he said, “so I can step aside.”
“You wouldn’t catch me?”
“From that height? You must be mad.”
I took a firm grip on the guardrail and leaned out as far as I dared, to admire the view. The dome, from this height, was a marvel of masonry, hundreds of stones set with perfect precision to form an impossible half sphere that floated above me. Absorbed, I leaned further, and felt my hand slip in the instant before something clamped round my shoulder.
“Don’t worry,” said Gareth, behind me. “I’ll catch you.”

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

His Texas Christmas Bride ~~ Nancy Robards Thompson

I love reading  Nancy Robards Thompson's holiday stories. His Texas Christmas Bride is a fast paced story which takes place in the small town of Celebration, Texas. The novel has multi - faceted characters, a unique storyline and a meaningful holiday message. 

Becca Flannigan is waiting in the Emergency Room at Celebration Memorial Hospital to see a doctor. She is three months pregnant and is suffering from food poisoning. Becca is surprised that the attending physician is Dr. Nick Ciotti whom she hasn't seen in about three months.  She remembers many details about the handsome doctor including his two unusual tattoos. Nick reads Becca's chart and quickly figures out that Becca's baby might be their baby.




"It's going  to be okay," he said. "Let's just take this one step at a time. I promise I will do everything in my power to make sure you don't have to worry about anything."
His words were soothing, and she stayed in his arms until she had regained her composure. She  pulled back a little to wipe her eyes, but first she looked up at him. His gaze snared hers, and then he was looking at her mouth , and she was leaning into him.
When he took her chin in his hand and drew her closer, she felt his warm, mint-scented breath so near that every feeling---every dream and desire she'd had since the first moment she'd set eyes on him that night at the hospital ---played out before her eyes. Since then, since learning she was pregnant , since finding him again, one of the things she tried not to think about was the way his arms would feel around her, protective and strong. This way his lips would taste.... That taste was so uniquely Nick.
Then his kissed her.

Love the chemistry between the hero and heroine in novel. Becca is warm, friendly, open and honest. She owns her own home and has a corgi. (Yes, a corgi!) Becca tells Nick that she won't force him to be a part of his childs life. This simple statement sets the tone for the novel. Nick is a workaholic and his commitment to his  job cost him his first marriage. Nick finds it difficult to talk about his feelings and is not close to his family. I liked that the couple were different and didn't agree on everything. Nick supported Becca when she told her family about the pregnancy. He was there for her. Becca encourages Nick to reconnect with his father. She believes talking with his father with help Nick let go of his past. 

The secondary characters complement the main characters and add to the story's authenticity. Loved Becca and Nick's date at Kate's house for the Sunday football game and the Flannigan family Thanksgiving dinner.The author did a fabulous job with the girlfriend chat while the men were watching the game. The overwhelming family dinner conversation was spot on down to the last detail with Becca's mother assuring everyone that Nick and Becca would be married very, very soon.

The author incorporates several fall and winter local traditions in the novel. Nick asks Becca to show him something which is typical of Celebration, Texas. Becca's choice of the Friday night football game surprises Nick. It's the perfect choice as it it allows him to experience first hand a small town at its best. He's able to watch the football game, eat hamburgers and french fries and meet Becca's family and friends on his own terms.  The author uses symbolism in the scenes where the couple attends the town's annual tree lighting ceremony and a wedding as a couple. 

 Nancy Robards Thompson weaves a heartwarming story which deals with forgiveness and acceptance on several levels. There  were several unexpected twists in the storyline and the novel held my interest. Loved the ending-- it was perfectly written for this couple.  Grab a cup of tea and spend an afternoon with His Texas Christmas Bride! It's the perfect novel to read during the holiday season.




Reviewed By: Susan Gorman
Book provided by Nancy Robards Thompson
Photo: Susan Gorman

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Billionaire's Betrayal -- Amalfi Night Billionaires Book 3--NancyRobards Thompson

Smooth. He was very smooth.
The man was used to getting what he wanted, but he was smart, cloaking his iron fist in a soft velvet glove. He was promising no business talk, but really, what else would he want?

As Lena lifted the glass to her lips and sipped the effervescent nectar, the vision of her naked body tangled with Matteo's danced through her mind, nearly taking her breath away and making her choke on the champagne. For a split second she fought the urge to run because he wasn't interested in her. He wanted the chance to subversively work on her and potentially wear her down to sell back her shares.

Since she planned to hold on to her shares of dei Fiori Enterprises, she needed to find out how Matteo De Luca operated..

In business, that was.


Lena Von Lienz has returned to Venice to attend the opening of an art gallery and to get answers to questions regarding the details of her husband's death. Anton Von Lienz, his friend Enzo De Luca and their female companions were killed in a car crash. Lena loved her husband and is haunted by the thoughts that he might have been unfaithful to her. Enzo's son, Matteo De Luca  and Lena shared a steamy kiss at the funeral services eighteen months ago. Matteo has spent the past year rebuilding his familys business and thinking about that passionate kiss. 

The Billionaire's Betrayal is the third book in the Amalfi Night Billionaires series and can be read as a stand alone.  The story has complex characters, a lush and romantic setting and provides a peek into the world  of the rich and famous. Matteo has been attracted to Lena for years. He didn't act on his feelings  because she was married to his father's friend. Lena owns 15% of dei FIori Hotels which Matteo is determined to purchase from her. Can Matteo charm Lena? Will she sell the shares to him?

Matteo arranges a private dinner for two on the rooftop of Lena's hotel. He thinks of everything-- champagne, flowers and a gourmet meal  The couple is able to talk and take in the stunning view of Venice as they share dinner. The attraction between Lena and Matteo builds as the story progresses. Is Lena falling for the charming Matteo?

The last two chapters of the book are well paced and full of romance and intrigue. To keep Lena safe, Matteo takes her to his family's private estate where she meets his Nona. Their conversation provides Lena and the reader with insight into Matteo's character and his determination to rebuild his family fortune. There are a few interesting twists in the storyline which were very surprising and kept me reading. I enjoyed that the author Nancy Robards Thompson provides subtle clues as to the storyline in the next book and at the same time wrote a fabulous conclusion to her own story. 

Reviewed by Susan Gorman
Book purchased by the reviewer on Amazon.

Friday, October 2, 2015

If You Only Knew Dinner & Book Signing with Kristan Higgins.

It's me, Celeste!! And I have exciting news!


Guess what??


Lisa and Susan won a fun contest and got to meet author Kristan Higgins  (Did you know Kristan Higgins loves dogs?) for dinner and go to a book signing for her new book If You Only Knew!

Lisa's story
On Wednesday, September 9, I drove to downtown Phoenix. We met at the Blue Hound Kitchen.
We were a group of 7. Two of the ladies were old family friends of Kristans. They live here in the Phoenix area. One of the ladies was a mother of 8 children. Another had a bunch of very good questions to ask Kristan. You could tell she had put a lot of thought into them ahead of time. It was a lovely time, though not long enough. Kristan was very friendly and generous with her answers. Telling us about her family and childhood. Along with all of our questions about her books.
At the end of dinner, I asked for everyone to stand for a group picture. I snagged a young man to snap it for us.

Then everyone separated to make their way to the book signing. It was hard to find and no parking. So I was late getting there. She had already started her reading. But I saw a couple of the ladies from the dinner had made it.
It was a wonderful evening I will never forget. I have never heard of writers doing this. So  feel especially lucky to have gotten to enjoy the experience!


Susan's story

I love contests! I have been so fortunate to win books, necklaces and totes from authors. I never imagined that I would win the Dinner With Kristan Higgins contest. I crossed my fingers and said a quick prayer as I sent the email!! And I won...so exciting!

I drove to The Melting Pot restaurant in Framingham, Massachusetts to meet author Kristan Higgins and five other lucky readers for dinner on September 14th. The Melting Pot is a fondue restaurant and it was perfect spot for dinner as we had to decide on the fondue selections and share the cooking space. We shared two different kinds of cheese fondue and dipped fruit, bread and veggies into the cheese as we talked. Kristan is warm and funny just like she is on social media. I asked her about the characters and settings in If You Only Knew. Everyone talked about how much we loved Jenny and Leo. We ordered dinner which was a surf and turf combination and cooked it on the cooktops on our table. Kristan spoke to each one at the table and knew two of the ladies  Suzy Duffy and Lisa Olech, who were also authors.




I asked Kristan about the Blue Heron series (which I love!) and she mentioned that the last Blue Heron book will be published in December. Kristan thanked me for my review which was published on Fresh Fiction. We had chocolate fondue for dessert and it was fabulous!

The book signing was at the Bacon Free library in Natick and was well attended. Kristan answered many questions about the book and read a chapter. I am so happy that I had the opportunity to meet Kristan! I gave Kristan a small gift for her dog from Celeste-- a Humarock dog bone!  
Dinner was so much fun and the book signing was enjoyable, too!!
Such a fabulous night!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins-Audio Version


I listened to the audio version of this story. Starting there,
it has to be noted that the narration was fabulous. It's the
story of two sisters. In brilliant fashion, they used two
narrators, Xe Sands and Amy Rubinate. This only added
to the pleasure of listening. They did a terrific job.
Having read a number of Kristan Higgins stories, I have
to start out saying, this one took her out of her own
comfort zone. Don't get me wrong, I love her comfort
zone. Her comfort zone is often my comfort zone.

 But this story strayed off from her normal style. At least,
it did for me. This is harder real life. The real life that
we normal people live. With deceit and anger. Not sure who
to trust. Low self esteem. Then, of course, you have your
sister. The one person on the planet you can share
everything with. Everything. The person you are always
sure it doing better than you are. The person you want to be
more like. Only of course, you find out their life isn't all you
thought it was. There is Kristans beautiful comedy too. You will
laugh as well as cry and worry.

This story took me up, down and all around. There
were moments that you could not figure out what she is
thinking. And you could not wait to find out. Jenny and
Rachel have a very interesting mother. We all know
someone with a mother like this. We also know people
that stay friendly with their ex husband. Everyone knows
that some people have the perfect marriage.
And then, none of it is true or good after all.
I highly recommend this story and especially in
the audio version. Such great writing
from Kristan Higgins to send off to the
fabulous narrators.

  And I will never look at a tree the same.
This review written by Lisa Hutson.
I bought the paperback and 
audio versions of this story.