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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

To Scotland with Love by Patience Griffin

To Scotland with Love

Caitriona MacLeod left Gandiegow-home- a long time ago.
When she left, she cut herself off from there. Now she is
realizing that she cut herself off from her career, her family,
her past. Cait finds that the husband she left all that behind
for was not worth it. He is dead, she is humiliated.
Now, Cait is out of there.
She buys a cottage site unseen and
shows up in Gandiegow surprise her gran. However, Gran is
not so quick to welcome Cait back into the fold.
Can Cait find a way to fit back in here?
 Gandiegow is a magical small fishing village on the shore in
Scotland. Everyone there, knows everyone. There is a
quilting society as large as the fishing society. There is also a
handsome successful popular actor. Graham Buchanan is also
from Gandiegow. He loves being able to live here between movies.
The real life he gets to lead there is what keeps him sane.
Graham is sure that Cait will make the perfect wife for his son,
Duncan. Duncan has a wonderful son, Mattie. But should he
be matchmaking for his grown son? Should he let Duncan
find his own match?

I wont go into the story line. But it is a moving tale. Filled with
love and community. Where people look out for each other.
People lean on each other for strength and warmth.
Their faith is strong, obvious and bold. They depend on it
as well as each other. They diligently pass on tradition and
history. As I read the story, I could see this place. Having 
grown up in a small town, I remember the feelings. The 
comfort you get knowing that you are never alone. You will
not face your trials by yourself. You will feel like you are
falling into Gandiegow as you read along.
I loved this story. As I read, I worried for some. I was excited

and happy for others. Frustrated and wanted to scold some.
The town and the story is as true life as can be.

Find a comfortable place to sit and visit Gandiegow, you
will be glad that you did.
 I bought my copy of To Scotland with Love.
Review by Lisa Hutson   



Friday, March 25, 2016

I Kissed A Rogue By Shana Galen

Sir Brook Derring is England’s best investigator. By asking questions and using his observation skills, he has been able to apprehend many criminals. But will he be able to locate his former love Lady Lila, in time?


"The teacup rattled and liquid sloshed over the rim as Lennox set it roughly on the table. 'This isn't about me." He stood, rising to his full height, which was nearly equal to Brook's. 'I came because I thought you might be able to put aside the past, and because I hear you are the best."

'The best?"

'You found the missing Flynn boy and the daughter of the Marquess of Lyndon. if you won't do it for me, do it for Lila."
'What has she got to do with any of this?"
'She was abducted earlier this evening, just after midnight. My coachman and one outrider are dead. Another is hanging on by a thread."
Everything in Brook went very still then. The crackle of the fire behind him, the clip-clop of the horses pulling carts to market, the chime of the tall case clock in the corridor faded into the distance.
'Tell me the details."
Shana Galen begins her fast- paced novel with Lady Lila sitting on a basement floor trying to undo the rope which is tied around her hands. She’s been kidnapped and knows she needs to escape before she is killed. Lila frees herself and before she is able to escape she witnesses a murder. Sir Brook and his partner rescue Lila and their adventure begins. I loved the relationship between Brook and Lila. Brook Derring is a hero. He’s been knighted by the King and is sought after by all of the hostesses in London. Brook is not just the second son Lila heartlessly flirted with seven years ago, he’s a well-respected member of Society. In contrast, Lady Lillian-Anne Lennox has been away from society for several years visiting one relative and then other. Lila was not kind to her suitors when she made her debut. She collected men and made enemies with her peers. Lila has grown up as she spent several years nursing her mother who died. Lila is back in London to make a match.

I liked that the author presented an extremely agreeable hero and presented a heroine that was unlikeable at first glance. Shana Galen is known for her fabulous dialogue and the conversations between Brook and Lila showcase her ability to engage the reader in the story by having the characters banter back and forth. Brook doesn’t like Lila and wants nothing to do with her and it shows from the get go!

 Another hallmark of the author’s writing style is adventure and romance between the main characters. This novel begins with a kidnapping, several people are murdered and the sinister Beezle has vowed to recapture Lila. Even if he is not a part of the scenes, Beezle’s sinister presence is felt during the novel. The romance between the two main characters sizzles. I believe it’s the most sensuous novel that the author has written…and it works for these two characters who argue like cats and dogs but are very attracted to each other. The ending of the book was extremely suspenseful and had several unexpected surprises.

I enjoyed each one of Shana Galen’s Covent Garden Cubs books. In each book, the author’s writing style keeps getting better. Ms. Galen has created memorable characters and effortlessly mixes romance, suspense and snappy dialogue in each book. Lila and Brook’s story was my favorite. I feel that the author took some chances with a story with an unlikable heroine and I loved how she depicted how Brook cared for Lila. I am glad that this couple got their second chance at romance!



Reviewed by Susan Gorman 
ARC from Sourcebooks.

Click here to read Susan's review of Earl's Just Want to Have Fun, which was just nominated for a RITA award.  Congratulations, Shana Galen!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Girls of Mischief Bay by Susan Mallery

The Girls of Mischief Bay
Audio version


Book one of the Mischief Bay series.

This is the story of three friends. Each leading a
totally different sort of life. Still, they are always
there for each other. For the great and the
not so great times. 
Nicole owns an exercise spa. She also teaches

there. She is married to Eric and they have a
wonderful little boy named Tyler.
Pam is married to John. She has her ever present

puppy named Lou Lou and they have three
grown children.
Shannon is the over achieving workaholic of the
group. Engaged twice. But never married.
Pam, Nicole and Shannon live in a

sweet wonderful place called Mischief Bay.


Their lives take so many twists and turns in this
story. You never know quite where things are going.
Which, of course, keeps you wondering and interested
in these women's lives. In the end, I could not believe
all that happened. The ups and downs that had come
along. I really enjoyed the story. The roller coaster
of emotions, mine and the characters. It was
a wonderful read and I am looking forward to
the next one in the series.
The story is narrated by Tanya Eby. She is very

popular because she is excellent. She has a pleasant
tone and flow in her narration style.

When the doorbell rang. Lou-Lou barked with excitement and
raced toward the front of the house. Pam followed. Surprisingly
eager for her company. She opened the door and nearly
started to cry again. Nicole stood with a take out bag in one hand
and a roller bag suitcase handle in the other. Tyler had a Brad
the Dragon back pack over his shoulders. "Hi!", Nicole said.
"We decided we want to spend the night. I hope that's ok."
Pam opened her arms, Nicole stepped into her embrace and
hung on like she was never going to let go. Tyler grabbed Pam's
leg and hugged tight too. Pam breathed deeply for the first time
in days and thought maybe, just maybe, this night
was going to be easier.

Review by Lisa Hutson
I bought my copy of the audio version of
The Girls of Mischief Bay from Audible.com


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Susan and Lisa review -- Waiting On You by Kristan HIggins

Kristan Higgins -- Waiting on You


I’ll admit-- I adore a second chance at romance novel. There’s something about a couple who falls deeply in love, breaks up and gets the opportunity for a do over that appeals to me. I read Kristan Higgin’s book Anything for You and figured out that Ms. Higgins had written a story for Connor’s twin sister Colleen. Waiting On You provides Lucas and Colleen a chance to see if they have what it takes to make a relationship work.

“What are you doing?” said a low voice behind her. 
Colleen’s heart froze, as though she swallowed a large ice cube, and it was stuck right over her heart. 
She turned around. 
Yep. Lucas Campbell. 
None other. 
Standing approximately two feet from her, looking at her with those dark knowing eyes. 
Her skin suddenly felt tight. Mouth: dry Brain: dead. 


Lucas Campbell broke Colleen O’Rourke’s heart ten years ago. He moved to Chicago, married and became a successful construction project manager. Colleen graduated college, returned home to Manningsport and opened a restaurant with her brother. Colleen is a harmless flirt who has played matchmaker to many of her friends but has not gotten over her first love.

Kristan Higgins is a fabulous storyteller. She provides enough back story in Waiting On You for the reader to grasp the intensity of Colleen and Lucas’s teen age romance and how tragic it was that a misunderstanding caused their break up. I liked that the novel was told using the dual narrative technique as it allowed the reader to understand each character’s point of view, their motivations and emotions. I wasn’t a big fan of Lucas at first. He kept something important from Colleen and he got married shortly after their break up. By providing his point of view, the author was able to provide the reasons for his behavior and what was behind his choices.

Colleen has a huge fear which stems from her parents break up. Her father left her mother for a younger, prettier woman. And Lucas left. He married a beautiful rich woman. Colleen doesn’t want anyone else to leave her and is unable to commit to anyone.

I have enjoyed reading each of the novels in the Blue Heron series. Kristan Higgins always delivers a heartfelt story with lots of humor, great dialogue and well thought out minor characters who play important roles in the novel. Colleen and Lucas’ love story is problematic—After 10 years can you go back to the way it was? – - Do you forgive and forget and move forward?-- Or has too much time and one too many secrets gotten in the way of the HEA? Loved the ending to this novel—it is not what I expected at all and its perfect!


Reviewed by Susan Gorman 
I purchased the book at amazon.com. 
To read my review of Anything for You, please visit Fresh Fiction

Waiting On You


The Blue Heron series. Book 3

"Is your first love worth a second chance?"

Lucas Campbell & Colleen O'Rourke were the couple that
everyone knew would be forever. But it took just one bad night.
One bad conversation with regrettable words. And they were
over. But 10 years later, Lucas got the call. His dying uncle
needs him. So, Lucas finds himself back in Manningsport. 
Now, they have a second chance. The heat between them is
still there. As strong as ever.
But they both have a lot of forgiving and forgetting to do.

How bad do they want it? Both of them will have to
compromise and give a little. Can it work?
Amy Rubinate is a pretty well known narrator.
For good reason. She is terrific. Listening to
the story is just that much better because of her.

I bought my audio copy from Audible.com
Review by Lisa Hutson




Thursday, March 10, 2016

Spotlight on Fall of Poppies


Enter to Win a 
Print Copy of FALL OF POPPIES

Fall of Poppies
Stories of Love and the Great War
Contributions by: 
Hazel Gaynor, Beatriz Williams, Jennifer Robson, 
Jessica Brockmole, Kate Kerrigan, Evangeline Holland, 
Lauren Willig, Marci Jefferson, edited by Heather Webb
Releasing March 1st, 2016 
William Morrow



Top voices in historical fiction deliver an intensely moving collection of short stories about loss, longing, and hope in the aftermath of World War I—featuring bestselling authors such as Hazel Gaynor, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig and edited by Heather Webb.

A squadron commander searches for meaning in the tattered photo of a girl he’s never met…

A Belgian rebel hides from the world, only to find herself nursing the enemy…

A young airman marries a stranger to save her honor—and prays to survive long enough to love her…The peace treaty signed on November 11, 1918, may herald the end of the Great War but for its survivors, the smoke is only beginning to clear. Picking up the pieces of shattered lives will take courage, resilience, and trust.

Within crumbled city walls and scarred souls, war’s echoes linger. But when the fighting ceases, renewal begins…and hope takes root in a fall of poppies.

BUY NOW
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Excerpt 
From “Something Worth Landing For” by Jessica Brockmole
I first met her, crying, outside of the medical department at Romorantin.
She’d been there, hunched on the bench in the hall, when I arrived for my appointment and was still there when I stepped from the doctor’s office. She wore the same bland coveralls and white armband as the other women who worked in the Assembly Building and I might have walked straight past. I always managed to make a fool of myself in front of women— on one memorable evening with an untied shoe and a bowl of chowder—  and was sure today would be no different. After all, I’d just been standing stark naked in front of another man and was still a little red in the face.
But she chose that exact moment to blow her nose, with such an unladylike trumpet that I couldn’t help but turn and stare.
I’d never heard such an unabashed sound from a woman. She didn’t even seem to care that she sounded like an elephant. She just kept her head down and her face buried in an excessively crumpled handkerchief.
She looked as healthy as a horse to be sitting outside the medical department. Not as scrawny as the other French girls around here. She had dark hair parted on the side and pinned up in waves, but her neck was flushed pink. I wondered what kind of bug she’d caught to leave her so stuffy.
“Hello. Are you waiting for the doc?” I asked. The army doc wasn’t much— despite the file in his hand, he’d insisted on calling me “Weaselly” instead of the “Wesley” on my paperwork—  but he could probably give her some silver salts or, at the very least, a replacement handkerchief.
She lifted her head and blinked red, wet eyes. I could have smacked myself. I was a dope. She wasn’t sick. She was miserable and sobbing and I had no idea what to do.
If I’d had a sister or a girlfriend or a mother with a heart made out of something softer than granite, I might have known how to handle a teary woman. I’d never gotten as far as breaking a girl’s heart.
Regardless, a clean handkerchief would be a start, and I dug in my pockets until I found a slightly wrinkled one. I held it out, but between two fingers, like feeding a squirrel.
She looked surprised at my offer, though I wasn’t sure why. A nice- looking girl like that, surely she was used to kindness. She stared at me, then the square of cotton, then me again, considering.
I thought to add a few words of eloquence to my offer. “Go on,” I said instead. “I have dozens.” It wasn’t Shakespeare, but it must have been enough.
She swallowed and took it with a watery “Merci.”
That probably wasn’t enough. Chaplains and grandmothers always had a reassuring word or two. I wondered if I should take a cue from the padre and go with a pious Trust in Godor an old-fashioned There, there. I realized, belatedly, that I knew how to say neither in French.
She saved me from having to make a decision. “I am fine, really,” she said in quite excellent English. Tears welled up fresh in her blue eyes, but she nodded, almost too vigorously.
“Yes, never better.” She crushed the handkerchief to her eyes.
I didn’t believe her.  People who were fine didn’t cry uncontrollably in the hallway. “Bad diagnosis?” She looked healthy enough, with those pink cheeks and bright eyes, but I was no expert. Maybe she had just found out she had a week to live.
She blew her nose again, thunderously. “Bad, good, maybe both.”
This was mystifying, but I suppose that was the way of women. 



a Rafflecopter giveaway



Jessica Brockmole is the author of the internationally bestselling Letters from Skye, an epistolary love story spanning an ocean and two wars. Named one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2013, Letters From Skye has been published in seventeen countries.


Hazel Gaynor is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home and A Memory of Violets. She writes regularly for the national press, magazines and websites in Ireland and the UK.

 Evangeline Holland is the founder and editor of Edwardian Promenade, the number one blog for lovers of World War I, the Gilded Age, and Belle Époque France with nearly forty thousand unique viewers a month. In addition, she blogs at Modern Belles of History. Her fiction includes An Ideal Duchess and its sequel, crafted in the tradition of Edith Warton.

Marci Jefferson is the author of Girl on the Golden Coin: A Novel of Frances Stuart, which Publisher’s Weekly called “intoxicating.” Her second novel, The Enchantress of Paris, will release in Spring 2015 from Thomas Dunne Books.

Kate Kerrigan is the New York Times bestselling author of The Ellis Island trilogy. In addition she has written for the Irish Tatler, a Dublin-based newspaper, as well as The Irish Mail and a RTE radio show, Sunday Miscellany.

Jennifer Robson is the USA Today and international bestselling author of Somewhere in France and After the War is Over. She holds a doctorate in Modern History from the University of Oxford, where she was a Commonwealth Scholar and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow. Jennifer lives in Toronto with her husband and young children.

Heather Webb is an author, freelance editor, and blogger at award-winning writing sites WriterUnboxed.com and RomanceUniversity.org. Heather is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and she may also be found teaching craft-based courses at a local college

Beatriz Williams is the New York TimesUSA Today, and international bestselling author of The Secret Life of Violet Grant and A Hundred Summers. A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a corporate and communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons. She now lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry. William Morrow will publish her forthcoming hardcover, A Certain Age, in the summer of 2016. 

Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association’s annual list of the best genre fiction. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.


Each of these compelling short stories provided insight into the emotional and physical effects of war. The authors present characters who struggle with their feelings and actions during a difficult and trying time in history. I enjoyed each story and felt several could have been expanded into full length novels.
 
The Daughter of Belgium—Marci Jefferson 

I enjoyed this suspense filled, well-paced short story set in the days leading up to the armistice. Both Amelie and Lars must find courage from within to outwit the soldiers in German-occupied Belgium in order to make their way to freedom. Can they work together and escape in time? 
  
The Record Set Straight—Lauren Willig 

Lauren Willig’s short story is an exquisitely written look into the British aristocracy before and after the Great War. The importance of duty, honor and society’s rules are woven in this story of love, compassion and misunderstanding between two brothers and the woman they both love. Superb ending to this short story—Ms. Willig stays true to her characters and surprises the reader at the same time! 
 
All for the Love of You—Jennifer Robson 

This story touched my heart. Ms. Robson creates a thoughtful story about a Father’s love for his daughter and the decisions he made for her after the Armistice was signed. Seven years later, Daisy finds a letter which leads her on a search for her true love. Daisy and Daniel’s heartfelt story was my favorite in the anthology as it shows that love endures. 

After You’ve Gone—Evangeline Holland 

After You’ve Gone explores how the end of the war affects people. How does one deal with the loss of a husband, friends, job and find their way during a time of tumultuous change? Can one make peace with the past and love again? 
 
Something Worth Landing For—Jessica Brockmole 

The letters Victoire wrote to her American pilot, drew me into this story. In the letters, she eloquently writes to him about her childhood, expresses her fears, desires and her wish that he return to her. With each letter, Wes gets to know his new wife ,falls in love with her and recognizes he has someone to come home to.

Hour of the Bells—Heather Webb 

The Hour of the Bells is a powerful story. German born Beatrix married a French clockmaker and moved to France. The war between France and Germany takes on new meaning when her son enters the war against Germany. When she learns that her son has been killed, Beatrix is overcome by grief. Her actions drive the last part of this suspense -filled story. 
 
An American Airman in Paris—Beatriz Williams 

The story’s main character, Octavian, was shot down over Germany on November 11, 1918. He has remained in Paris for two years even though he has healed from his physical wounds. This story provides a glimpse into the life of the American airman and their emotional struggles before and after the war. 
 
The Photograph—Kate Kerrigan 

Kate Kerrigan’s The Photograph is set in Dublin in 2016. Bridie and her family are about to attend a ceremony for the 1916 Uprising. Bridie seeks some quiet time and picks up her great-aunt Eileen’s photo while in her room. The backing falls apart revealing a photo of a handsome British officer. Bridie is unsettled to think that her activist aunt was in love with a British soldier. Eileen and Clive’s well written story is another favorite of mine in this anthology set during the final days of the Great War when British soldiers occupied Dublin. Loved the characters and I cried as their heartfelt story unfolded. 
 
Hush—Hazel Gaynor 

Midwife Annie Rawlins is concerned about time. She has just delivered a child and he is not responding and time is running out. Annie has lost a son to the war and doesn’t want this child to die. As Annie is trying to save the child her other son is struggling to survive in the trenches in France. This piece is superbly written -- you could feel a mother's love with in every word in the story--and I enjoyed how the author had several connected plot lines within her main narrative. 
 
This story and the characters stayed with me for several days after I finished reading their story. The last paragraphs are beautifully written:
"Of all the letters she received during the war, Annie Rawlins kept just two. The only letter Jack had ever written, telling her of the poppies in the fields, and the letter Will had written soon after the Armistice was declared, a single red poppy pressed between the pages.
Life, and time ,marched on as the soldiers marched home that spring. The daffodils danced in Annie's garden, and the poppies grew once more in the fields of France."
Reviewed By Susan Gorman
ARC provided by the publisher





Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Barefoot Bay Billionaires books 2 & 3 combo review-Audio

Seduction on the Sand
and
Scandal on the Sand
Audio versions

Seduction on the Sand is book 2 in the
Barefoot Bay Billionaires series.
Elliott Becker is part of a group of billionaires that plan to build a
baseball stadium on Barefoot Bay. Its his simple job to convince
Frank Cardinale to sell his land for a large sum of money. That's it.
That's all Elliott has to do.
But then, Frank Cardinale turns out to be Francesca (Frankie).
She also turns out to be stubborn, determined and gorgeous. Not
exactly what Elliott planned for.
Frankie is the goat herd who owns the goat farm that Elliott needs
to accommodate the parking for his baseball stadium.
The fact that she is falling in love with Elliott does not sway
Frankies plans. She promised her grandpa to keep this land in
the family. She will never break that promise. Not even for the
love of a handsome and good man like Elliott.
The fact that Elliott is falling in love with her does not change
his plans. He has a job to do. He cannot let his friends down.
So he has to find a way to make everyone happy.
Can Frankie forgive? Will Elliott find a way to please everyone?
What is the most important to either of them?

Scandal on the Sand is book 3 of the
Barefoot Bay Billionaires series.

Nathaniel Ivory has the nickname "Naughty Nate". He has earned it.
But now, he is trying to make a better name for himself.
He does not want to keep embarrassing his family. 

About to take his turn at bat during a baseball game, he is pulled
to the side by Liza Lemanski. She is one determined woman. Liza
is only asking for Nates signature. No money. Nothing else from him.
Just sign away your parental rights. You will never see or hear from
us again. But of course, Nate is suspicious. Even if Liza weren't 
beautiful,  sexy and smart. He would still have to find out more.
Liza just wants to know that she can live her life. Caring
for her little boy in quiet peace. Nate only wants to end the kind
of life when he is constantly paying someone off. He wants his
own kind of easy life. 
 Its quite a mystery. Two different stories. Which one is the truth?
With a little boys future and Nates new reputation at stake, its vital
to find out the truth. So Liza and Nathaniel join forces to find
out the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

There are three stories in this series. They all use the
same narrator, Kaleo Griffith. He does a fine job. Speaking
all the parts distinctly. I found him easy to listen to.

I bought these two stories from Audible.com.
Review done by Lisa Hutson. 





Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I Kissed A Rogue by Shana Galen


This is Book 3 in the Covent Garden Cubs series.
He is now known as Sir Brook Derring. The best investigator
in England. Which is why he is called upon to find the kidnapped
Lady Lillian-Anne Lennox.
However, seven years ago, he was not good enough for her.
Every man wanted Lady Lillian-Anne Lennox. Her ego was
large. Brook was a nobody back then. A second son. Though
 he
was head over heels in love with Lady Lillian.
She left him shattered and broken hearted.
Lila did not even remember hurting him. She barely
remembered him at all.
Now, he has managed to save her from the kidnappers. Lila
witnessed a brutal murder while she was being held. Which
means her kidnappers are not done with her yet.
Therefore, Sir Brook is not finished either. They find
themselves far away in a ramshackle cottage hidden
deep in the woods. While he is protecting her,
they feel a strong physical attraction to each other.

"She hadn't known she could feel the way he
made her feel. It wasn't just the physical
pleasure, although that was certainly part
of it. But he made her feel as though she
were the most desirable woman in the
world. He looked at her, touched her, as
though he wanted her more than...well,
more than anything else. More than air or
water or life. "

Can they contain their strong feelings?
Will they have a physical relationship only?
Should Sir Brook take a chance on another broken heart?
Can Lady Lillian and her words be trusted?

I have read many Shana Galen stories. While I have always
liked them, this one is different. There is excitement and
adventure. But in addition, there is heat. Physical sexual
heat between the two characters. As I read it, I kept
feeling like Ms Galen has reached a more sophisticated
style in her writing. It was a compelling read. I believe
everyone will enjoy it as much as I did.
I got this copy from Netgalley.
Review by Lisa Hutson