Monthly Archives: December 2016

Happy Holidays!!

It’s that time of year again. The kiddos are out for Christmas break which means I will be engaging in daily battles of board games, movies, crafts — basically just soaking up the family time until school resumes.

I’ll still be reading but reviews won’t be appearing again until January 2017. 

 

So……. 

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And……

 

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🎄 KAM 🎄

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Author Showcase – Debbie Mason (Mistletoe Cottage, Harmony Harbor)

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‘Tis the season for love . . .

Sophie DiRossi loved growing up in Harmony Harbor. But after fleeing in disgrace many years ago, it is the last place she wants to be. Left homeless by a fire, she’s forced to go back to the small coastal town that harbors a million secrets, including her own. Sophie sees this secret reflected every day in her daughter’s blue eyes-and she must keep it hidden from the only man she has ever loved.

Sophie’s return is a shock for everyone . . . especially Liam Gallagher. The firefighter had some serious feelings for Sophie-and seeing her again sparks a desire so fierce it takes his breath away. Now Liam will do whatever it takes to show Sophie that they deserve a second chance at love, even if everything they’ve concealed threatens to keep them apart. In this special town at this special time of the year, Sophie and Liam can only hope for a little holiday magic…

 

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CHAPTER 1: courtesy of Debbie Mason’s Website

 

Sirens wailed, the fire engines’ red and white lights bouncing off the clapboard Colonials on Main Street. People strolling along the tree-lined sidewalk turned to watch the rigs careen around a corner while cars veered to the side of the road. Ladder Engine 1 and Engine 6 were headed west of Harmony Harbor to Greystone Manor.

Three hours earlier, Liam Gallagher had been heading home to Boston. He’d stopped by the station to say goodbye to his father, Fire Chief Colin Gallagher, on the way out of town. But, because he loved his old man, who had put up with Liam for the past month, he’d made his first mistake. He’d let his dad convince him to stay another day. Taking his father up on his challenge had been a bigger one. Under the watchful eyes of the three men who knew him about as well as he knew himself, Liam would be battling his first fire in more than five weeks. Built in the early nineteenth century and modeled after a medieval castle, Greystone Manor was a firefighter’s worst nightmare. And over the last month, Liam had been battling one of his own.

The chief disconnected his cell phone call and shifted to face Liam and Marco DiRossi, Liam’s childhood best friend. The rest of the crew followed behind in the ladder engine. Fergus MacLeod, a burly beast of a man with russet hair and beard who’d known Liam since he was in diapers, blasted the horn at three second intervals to clear the intersection up ahead. Liam’s father raised his voice to be heard. “Manor’s full of smoke, but the sprinklers haven’t kicked in. Lights went out, and the generator took longer than it should to come on. A couple of guests sustained minor injuries evacuating—”

“GG and Grams?” Liam asked, unable to conceal the anxiety in his voice. He wasn’t worried his father would misconstrue the reason for it or reprimand him for interrupting his brief. Liam’s great-grandmother Colleen owned and operated Greystone with the help of her daughter-in-law and Liam’s grandmother, Kitty.

He’d never understood what had possessed his great-grandmother to turn the manor into a hotel. If it was up to him, she would have sold out years ago. Especially now that his grandfather Ronan was no longer there to help run the place. Liam hoped she’d be more open to the idea after tonight.

“Jasper got GG out, but your grandmother, a woman, and a young child are still inside. They can’t find the little girl. Kitty and the woman refuse to leave without her.” His father looked at Marco. “Jasper says she’s your sister, son. And the little girl is her daughter, your niece.”

Liam blew out a silent whistle. Sophie DiRossi. He hadn’t thought about her in years, and there’d been a time when she’d been all he thought about. He glanced at Marco who sat in the jump seat across from him.

Beneath an inch of dark scruff, Marco’s jaw tightened. “Jasper’s gotta be mistaken, Chief. Sophie and her kid live in LA.”

“Just wanted to give you a heads-up in case it’s true,” his father said, then glanced at Liam and lifted his chin at Marco before facing forward.

Everyone in Harmony Harbor knew how the DiRossis felt about Sophie and her mother’s defection. Within six months of Sophie and her mother taking off, the oldest of the DiRossi siblings, Lucas, had left Harmony Harbor, and a year later their father, Giovanni, remarried and moved to Italy.

“You okay?” Liam asked his best friend.

Marco took off his helmet to stab his fingers through his dark hair. “Jasper has to be wrong. There’s no way it’s Sophie.”

If Jasper said it was Sophie, Liam had no doubt that it was. Nothing got past the old man—a fact Liam, his brothers, and cousins could attest to. Jasper, or Jeeves as the Gallagher grandchildren referred to him, had been at Greystone for as long as any of them could remember. A tall bean-pole of a man with stiff, overly proper manners, he ruled the manor and Gallagher family with an iron fist hidden inside a velvet glove.

Since Marco knew Jasper almost as well as Liam, either his friend was in denial or he held a grudge longer than Liam had given him credit for. Noting the angry bounce of Marco’s right leg, he was going with the latter. Then again . . . “They’ll be okay, buddy. We’ll find your niece. Get them out of there.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. What I don’t know is why the hell Sophie’s here. After eight years, she just shows up out of the blue . . .” With a white-knuckled grip on his helmet, Marco gave his head an angry shake.

So Liam had been right after all. “I don’t get it. Aren’t you happy she’s finally come home?”

“Give me a break. You have no idea what her leaving did to my family. For two years we never heard a word from her. Now we’re lucky if she calls a couple times a year. And for the amount of time she talks, you’d think we were putting a trace on her phone calls.”

“So, what, you don’t believe in second chances? Don’t be a hothead and blow it. At least you still have a sister.” Liam sensed his father glancing his way and Fergus’s eyes on him in the rearview mirror.

“You’re right. Sorry, I didn’t think.”

Fergus blasted the horn as he drove beneath the vine-covered stone arch, past the iron gates leading into the estate. The emergency lights sliced through the gloom of the late October night and Liam leaned forward. What held his attention wasn’t the sprawling mansion built of local granite or the people scattering from where they’d been standing on the circular drive. It was the white smoke billowing from the manor’s entrance. He opened the door as the engine rolled to a stop and smelled the air–chemicals, not burning wood. “There’s no fire,” Liam said to his father as he jumped onto the asphalt.

“Not yet, but could be electrical. Breathing apparatus on, Liam,” his father called after him. Liam raised his gloved hand, indicating he heard him as he jogged to where Jasper was leading Kitty from the manor. “You okay, Grams?” he asked once he reached them.

She nodded through a coughing fit.

He rubbed her arm and looked at Jasper. “Sophie and the little girl still inside?”

Jasper gave him a clipped nod. “We’d gone through most of the upper and main floors before Miss Kitty was overcome.”

“All right. Go let Dad check you both over,” Liam said as he started into the building, then pivoted when it hit him what he was smelling. “Jasper, you didn’t have the fog machine going, did you?”

“Certainly not, Master Liam. As your father directed, I expressly forbid Miss Kitty and Madame from using it this year.”

Since Madame didn’t like to be told what she could or couldn’t do, Liam didn’t rule out the possibility Colleen and a fog machine were behind the smoke. As he walked into the entryway, he tapped the switch on his helmet twice. The beam of light cut through the haze, providing him with a 180-degree view. He jogged down the steps into the lobby calling for Sophie while trying to get an idea where the smoke originated from. He spotted what he believed was the point of origin at the same time he heard someone cough.

A woman with long, dark hair stumbled out of one of the sitting rooms. “Sophie, it’s Liam.” He tipped up his helmet as he closed the distance between them.

She lowered a denim jacket from where she’d held it over her mouth and nose. Her face was pale, her golden-brown eyes red-rimmed. She looked exhausted and utterly terrified. “My little girl. I can’t find my little girl. You have to help me—” She started coughing again.

“I’ll find her, Sophie. But you need to—” He broke off as a second beam of light joined his. “Marco, get her out of here,” he ordered his best friend.

Marco nodded, his expression unreadable as he reached for his sister.

She pulled away from her brother and frantically shook her head. “No, I can’t go. I have to help you find her. You don’t—”

Marco cut her off. “Dammit, Soph, don’t be stubborn. We’ll find her, but you have to—”

“No, no, you don’t understand. She’s terrified of fire . . .  and firemen. And she can’t . . .” A sob broke in her voice. Liam saw the herculean effort it took for her to regain control, but she did, and then she finished what she’d been about to say “. . . she can’t talk.”

He and Marco shared a glance. Their job just got a whole lot harder. “Sophie, I’ll take off the breathing apparatus and my helm—”

“Like hell you will,” his father said through his com. Marco said the same thing beside him.

Liam knew the reason for their concern and ignored them. He couldn’t think about that now. Couldn’t let the memory of the warehouse fire into his head. “I’m going to find your little girl. What’s her name?”

She held his gaze as though she believed him and swiped at her eyes. “Mia. Her name’s Mia.” Overcome by another coughing fit, Sophie struggled to take the knapsack off her shoulder. Waving off his offer to help, she dug around inside and pulled out a pink pig with a singed ear. “We had a fire at our apartment in LA. Other than Mia, Peppa Pig is pretty much the only thing that survived. It might help if you show her . . .” She bit her lip, and then handed him the stuffed animal. “Please, Liam, please find her. She’s all I have.”

He slipped the pink pig into his pocket. “Right now it doesn’t look like we’re dealing with a fire. She’ll be okay, Sophie. I’ll find her,” he promised.

“Jesus, Soph. Why didn’t you call us? Why didn’t . . .”

Liam didn’t waste time waiting for Sophie to answer her brother. He jogged toward the door behind the grand staircase. It led to the basement, a place that as a little kid had featured prominently in his nightmares. Probably because his older brothers and cousins had traumatized him with stories about the long-dead pirates that haunted the narrow passageways and secret tunnels. Since the upper levels had already been searched, it’s possible he’d find Mia down there.

Smoke billowed through the partially open door, and Liam adjusted his breathing apparatus before opening it wide. As soon as he did, he was hit by a thick wall of smoke. The beam of light cut through the fog and illuminated the spiral staircase.

Liam started down the stairs and the stone walls closed in around him, transporting him to a wide-open space filled with movement and noise. Voices came over his radio—yelling, the rapid repeat of gunshots. Faint at first, and then the gunfire became louder. Get downGet down. He belly-crawled to where Billy lay in the middle of the floor, laser beams zinging overhead from one side of the warehouse to the other. Shouting. Everyone shouting. A bullet shattered the concrete an inch from his head, and then another one . . .

Something repeatedly bumped his leg, getting harder with each jab, and the flashback started to fade. Liam looked down. A pair of small blue eyes stared up at him. It was a black cat. It took a moment for his head to clear and to get his bearings. He wasn’t in Boston; he was on the stairs at Greystone.

Someone yelled over the radio. “Liam, are you all right? Liam, goddammit, answer me.”

“Good. I’m good, Chief. I’m in the basement. Must have played havoc with the com.” He lied to his father who must already suspect what Liam had been denying. He was so far from good it wasn’t funny. “Found the problem,” he said as he reached the bottom of the stairs.

To his left, barely visible behind cardboard boxes piled precariously close, sat two overheating commercial fog machines. They were damn lucky the units hadn’t caused a fire. He reported his findings to his father over the com at the same time Marco thundered down the stairs. 

When he reached the bottom, Marco searched Liam’s face and stabbed an angry, gloved finger in his chest. “Get your head out of your ass, Gallagher, before I do it for you.”

“I know. I know. But now’s not the time to—” He broke off and frowned down at the cat head-butting his leg. For a second, Liam was afraid he’d zoned out again. But no, Marco would have seen it coming on and shook him out of it. The cat meowed and looked toward the tunnels. Liam didn’t read minds, cat or human, but somehow he knew this was about Mia. As though the cat sensed he’d clued in, he took off.  Liam ran after him.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Marco called out.

“To find Mia,” he shouted back. His voice sounded like he’d been hacking up a lung. Maybe he had been during the flashback. Though now wasn’t the time to think about those missing minutes and what they would have meant had they been battling an actual blaze. He’d beat himself up over it later.  

As he made his way deeper into the tunnels, the smoke wasn’t as bad. He pulled off his breathing apparatus, stopping briefly to remove the tank and rest it carefully against the damp stone wall. He thought he’d lost the cat until he heard an impatient meow up ahead. The beam of light from Liam’s helmet caught the end of the cat’s tail just before it disappeared down a narrow passageway.

As soon as Liam rounded the corner, he spotted the little girl. Sophie’s daughter sat with her back to the wall, her forehead resting on denim-clad knees that were pressed to her chest. She slowly raised her head and blinked into the bright light.

“Hey, Mia.” He didn’t want to frighten her and crouched a couple yards away. Then he took off his helmet and set it on the ground, angling it so the light didn’t hit her in the eyes. He smiled. “I’m Liam Gallagher, a friend of your uncle Marco. Your mommy too. I’ve known her since she was a little girl not much older than you are.”

She scuttled away from him then came to her feet, her eyes darting from left to right. His chest tightened. He recognized the look on her face, the wide-eyed panic and fear of someone who’d suffered a trauma. He should know, since after tonight, he could no longer deny he’d suffered the same. “Your mommy gave me”—he wracked his brain for the pig’s name— “Porky.” She looked at him “Peppy the pig?”

The faintest hint of a smile touched her adorable heart-shaped face. “Do you want your pig?” he asked, reaching in his pocket.

She gave her head a quick shake, and Liam withdrew his hand from his pocket. He got it. The singed ear was a reminder of what she and her stuffed animal had been through. “You don’t have to be frightened, sweetheart. There wasn’t a fire, just a lot of smoke from the fog machines.” Within minutes, there might have been a fire. But looking at Mia, he couldn’t let his mind go there. Couldn’t think of her down here trapped and alone. “I know you’re scared, and you don’t know me, but your mommy’s worried about you so whaddya say we get out of here?”

She looked down, her long, dark hair shielding her face, but not enough to hide the slight flush pinking her cheeks. He frowned and followed her gaze, wondering what . . . He briefly closed his eyes. She’d wet her pants. 

He cleared his throat. “Mia. Sweetheart.” Her big blue eyes flitted to his face, then darted away. “If I tell you a secret, do you promise not to tell anyone?” She glanced at him, then gave him a hesitant nod. “Okay, I’m holding you to that. When I was around your age . . . Now that I think about it, I was way older. Like ten.” He’d been five. “My brothers and cousins brought me down here to hunt for buried treasure. We had flashlights and shovels, and while we were digging, they told ghost stories. Really spooky ones. And then they turned the flashlights off. They left me down here for hours all by myself in the dark. I was so scared, I wet my pants.” That part was true. “So you see, you have nothing to be embarrassed about. Happens to the best of us,” he said with a smile, and shrugged out of his jacket, holding it open for her. “You can put this on, and no one will know. It’ll be our secret. Sound good?” He’d find a way to tell Sophie without embarrassing Mia.

She took a couple hesitant steps toward him. “Thatta girl,” he said, and leaned over to wrap the jacket around her tiny, delicate frame. “It’s pretty long. Is it okay if I pick you up so you don’t trip?” She nodded, and he lifted her into his arms. “You know what, you’re as brave as any firefighter I know, so you should probably wear this.” He put his helmet on her head, grinning when she disappeared beneath it. He tipped it up. “There you are.”

She rewarded him with a smile that lit up her face and wrapped around his heart, squeezing tight.

“Mia DiRossi, you’re going to be a heartbreaker just like your mother.”

 

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Review of “Snowfall on Haven Point” – RaeAnne Thayne

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There’s no place like Haven Point for the holidays, where the snow conspires to bring two wary hearts together for a Christmas to remember 

It’s been two rough years since Andrea Montgomery lost her husband, and all she wants is for her children to enjoy their first Christmas in Haven Point. But then Andie’s friend asks a favor—to keep an eye on her brother, Sheriff Marshall Bailey, who’s recovering from a hit and run. Andie will do anything for Wyn, even park her own misgivings to check on her grouchy, wounded bear of a brother. 

Marshall hates feeling defenseless and resents the protective impulses that Andie brings out in him. But when a blizzard forces them together for the holidays, something in Marshall begins to thaw. Andie’s gentle nature is a salve, and her kids’ excitement for the holidays makes him forget why he never wanted a family. If only he and Andie can admit what they really want—each other—their Christmas wishes might come true after all.

 

 

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Snowfall on Haven Point is more than meets the eye. It’s not just about Marshall’s frozen heart or who hit him with their car causing a compound fracture of his leg. It’s not about Andrea swallowing her fears and opening up her heart to new possibilities… for new love. It’s not about a troubled young man, Christopher, and the troubles plaguing his young heart.  

No, it’s not about just ONE of those things…. It’s about ALL of them.  

It’s also about the power of love. How love, in all shapes and sizes, can impact a person.

In Snowfall on Haven Point, two small children (Will and Chloe) bring holiday cheer with their homemade ornaments, kind words, warm smiles, and genuine goodness. Through their actions, they opened up Marshall and Andrea’s eyes to many things which brought about happily ever afters for themselves and for others.

Will, Chloe, and Christopher all suffered from traumatic events in their lives so I was happy to see they all receive a Christmas miracle. 

 

Heart Rating System – 1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤1/2

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including four RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews magazine. RaeAnne loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.raeannethayne.com

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Author Showcase – Lori Wilde (A Wedding for Christmas: A Twilight, Texas Novel)

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The whole town is ready for the holidays: The Cookie Club is baking, Main Street glitters with lights, the carolers sing . . .There’s even a Christmas wedding.

When bodyguard Ryder Southerland sees his best friend’s sister Katie at an L.A. Christmas party, he mistakes the slinky blonde for a celebrity stalker and tackles her. Then they tackle each other . . . at his place. The next morning, Katie’s gone, and Ryder tells himself it’s for the best. It isn’t. Now, one Christmas later, Ryder’s falling for the woman he’s been missing in the town he hasn’t missed at all . . .

Katie Cheek’s outgrown the romantic fantasies she had about Ryder when she was fifteen. Katie’s packed their hot night away in a box labeled “fling”—or tried to. But Twilight’s bad boy is the best man in her brother’s wedding. And up-close and personal, Ryder’s impossible to ignore. So Katie can either go into hiding—or surrender to Christmas magic.

 

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Excerpt courtesy of Lori Wilde’s Website

 

“BOLO. BOLO. Be on the lookout for a hot blonde in a red dress.”

Personal bodyguard, Ryder Southerland resisted an eye roll, and muttered into the tiny microphone clipped to his lapel. “I know what a BOLO is, Messer, and I don’t need an update every time you spy a good-looking woman.”

Not a hot chick alert. Repeat this is not merely a hot chick alert, although she does sizzle. It’s Ketchum’s stalker.”

Les Ketchum, the rodeo star turned country and western chart-topping singer, that Ryder had been hired to protect. Two weeks ago Les had broken things off with a buckle bunny in possession of a mean streak who couldn’t seem to take hasta la vista, baby, for the brush off it was.

Ryder’s entire body tensed, and he pressed a hand to the blue tooth device that fed Messer’s voice into his ear. “You sure?”

“Pretty sure.”

“Where?” Ryder leaned over the balcony railing, scanning the well-heeled crowd milling in the art gallery below.

You’d think a hot blonde in a red dress wouldn’t be that hard to spot, but since it was a celebrity-stubbed holiday bash a surprising number of women were wearing red. And sun-drenched LA had a knack for manufacturing blondes.

“You got Ketchum in sight?” Messer asked.

“Yes.” Ryder swung his gaze to his client who was kissing a busty redhead that was known for her appearances in makeup commercials, underneath a bouquet of mistletoe. “Does your red-dress blonde look armed?”

“It’d have to be in her purse. That dress is sprayed-painted on. Couldn’t hide anything underneath that.”

“Can you still see her?”

“Negatory. She disappeared in the crowd.”

“Stop talking, and freaking follow her.”

“I’m trying, but some drunk sitcom-actress just took off her top, and there’s a hundred guys in my way.”

This time, Ryder did roll his eyes.

Trite. His job was trite. Protecting spoiled celebrities from overly zealous fans who thought getting near them meant something special. But after four years in the Middle East, and an unpleasant bout of PTSD, Ryder was good with trite.

And working for his former platoon leader’s personal security business in LA was a long sight better than crawling home to Twilight where small town minds had branded him disreputable years ago.

Pathetic.

He was twenty-nine years old, had been a decorated MP in the US Army, and yet he couldn’t shake the old childhood wounds, and the names he’d been called—bad boy, punk, troublemaker, delinquent, thug.

Ah, his youth. Those were the days.

There was only one family in the whole town he gave a fig about, and that was the Cheeks. The family who’d taken him in when his father kicked him out and no one else would touch him.

His favorites of all the Cheeks was his best friend Joe, and the other was Joe’s kid sister, Katie. He hadn’t talked to Joe since his friend had moved back to Twilight to take over his ailing grandfather’s Christmas tree farm that summer. And it had been two years since they’d seen each other in person, back when Ryder had crashed at Joe’s place for a couple of months after he’d been discharged from the Army, and he was struggling to get his act together.

And as for Katie?

In his mind she was still the gawky fifteen-year-old who’d flung herself into his arms and kissed him. And that had been the last time he’d seen her, but he couldn’t help wondering what she looked like today.

Head in the game, Southerland. Katie ain’t nothing but a fond memory.

He leaned farther over the balcony railing for a better look, watching the circular metal staircase that led to the second story exhibits. The party was in full swing. The band blasted Christmas songs. People packed in close dancing, drinking, eating canapés served by tuxedoed waiters passing through the throng.

The crowd was eclectic. Young and old, trendy and traditional, dressed down and dressed up, an equal mix of male and female. The majority of them were wealthy, or plus ones of the wealthy. Ironic, how much money was being spent raising funds to benefit poverty. Why not just give the money to the homeless?

He scanned the three exits he could see, each one manned by museum security, and finally caught sight of Messer trapped in a bottleneck near the entrance.

He counted off the attractive blondes in red dresses, one, two, seven, a dozen. Was one of the Ketchum’s stalker?

Concerned, he glanced back at Ketchum. The celebrity and his woman of choice, who had shifted to the bench exhibit seating, near the restrooms and they were still in a lip-lock, hands all over each other. The second floor was reserved for special VIP sponsors, and Ryder was the threshold guardian to their domain.

From his peripheral vision, he caught movement at the top of the staircase. A blonde. In red. Hurrying.

Hurrying hell, the woman was full on running.

Immediately, Ryder tensed, and his hand touched the Taser at his hip. He didn’t want to use it, or the concealed Sig Saucer in his shoulder holster. Discretion was a big part of his job. Diplomacy another.

Besides, she was a woman. He was big, and she was small. Body block, and chokehold ought to do it, and that was only if she was unreasonable.

He didn’t want things getting messy.

In two long-strides, he reached her, and for a split second, he was struck by the notion that anyone watching them might assume they were lovers rushing into each other’s arms.

Except she showed no signs of slowing down, her gaze fixed to the spot where Ketchum sat kissing the redhead. This had to be the stalker, hyped up with rage, jealousy, adrenaline and god knows what else.

Instinct, honed from numerous tours in the sandbox, took over and he reacted without hesitation. It happened during the space of a single breath. Grabbing her by the arm, flipping her onto her back, falling atop of her, pinning her to the floor in a four-point restraint.

“Stand back people!” Messer shouted. Ryder felt rather than saw his colleague herding people down the steps. “Nothing to see here. Go downstairs and enjoy the party.”

Ryder’s hands manacled her wrists. His cowboy boots locked spread-eagle around her ankles. The woman was panting.

And so was he, because he realized not only was she not Ketchum’s stalker, but he knew her.

Ryder peered down into her face. A familiar face despite the fact it had changed a lot over the past twelve years.

Katie Cheek.

What in the blazes?

All the air exited his body in one hard puff.

Her features were softer, thinner, and prettier than ever. The glasses were gone, and so were the braces, and instead of frizzy untamable, dishwater blond curls, her hair was straight and lush and golden.

Yes, she’d changed a lot, but he would recognize her anywhere.

Yep. Katie Cheek, all right.

It was high school buddy’s kid sister, all grownup, and curvy in the most dangerous places.

 

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Review of “Dangerous in a Kilt” – Anna Durand

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Good-girl Erica Teague is out on bail, charged with a crime her ex-lover committed. Her desperate bid to experience one wild night of sizzling sex, before her trial and certain conviction, lands her in the arms of Lachlan MacTaggart, a hot Scot with a secret past. She can’t resist his offer to enjoy one month of sex and companionship with no strings. But when their hot fling gets personal, can their passion free their imprisoned hearts?

 

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

From the moment Erica and Lachlan meet, you know this couple is going to be entertaining to read. Neither set out to have more than a casual fling but you don’t need to be psychic to see this casual set-up turning serious rather quickly. Anna kept tossing the “rules” at us so it was only a matter of time before following them became a hinderance to what was building between them. 

Really, how could Erica not fall for the Scottish sex god. He was sweet, charming, romantic, thoughtful, had a voice that could make you weak in the knees and HE WORE A BLOODY KILT. Hello, I’m surprised she lasted as long as she did before hopping on his mighty sword. (Joke within the book) 

With all the romantic gestures and surprises he planned for her, his most thoughtful gift was helping clear her name from the embezzlement charges. Money may not buy love but, in this case, it helped set his love free. 

Now with all the positives I had regarding Dangerous in a Kilt, there was one black spot that I couldn’t shake. It’s what made me drop my rating score a smidgen. On page 106, Erica seemed to to think being a nerd is a bad thing. Lachlan says, “Never call yourself a nerd again. Never.” Then on page 167, Lachlan (Anna Durand) spoke as if being nerdy was a negative trait to possess. He said to Erica, “I told you never to call yourself that again. You are a stunning, sensual woman.” Did I miss something here? Is he, Lachlan, (and the author, Anna Durand) insinuating a woman can’t be nerdy and sensual at the same time? If so, I whole-heartedly disagree. I happen to be a nerdy chick and very pleased with my sex life. 

What Lachlan should’ve said was something like this…..

Embrace your nerdiness, woman, as much as you embrace your naughtiness. Now, show me how naughty my nerdy woman can get.

 

Heart Rating System – 1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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 Anna Duraadnd is an award-winning writer, a freelance librarian, and an audiobook addict. She specializes in steamy romances featuring spunky heroines and hunky heroes, in settings as diverse as modern Chicago and the fairy realm. Her romances have to date won eight awards and her novel Intuition was a 2016 RONE Award nominee, while her short story Tempted by a Kiss was a finalist in The Romance Reviews 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards. In her previous life as a librarian, she haunted the stacks of public libraries but never met any hot vampires hunting for magical books.

Check out the Upcoming Books page for details on what she’s working on now.

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Pinterest ~ Google+ ~ Amazon

 

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Review of “Three Christmas Wishes” – Sheila Roberts

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Three friends, three wishes—one Christmas! 

When three friends visit a shopping-mall Santa on a lark, the jolly old elf is full of mysterious predictions about the thing they’re all wishing for: the perfect man. Or at least men who are perfect for them

Riley Erickson’s fiancé turned out to be a dud, dumping her for her bridesmaid three weeks before the wedding. But Santa says that she’s soon going to meet her ideal man in a memorable way. 

And he predicts that a new man is about to come into Jo’s life. What on earth does that mean? She’s pregnant and already has her hands full with the perfectly stubborn husband she’s got. 

Noel has given up completely on ever finding her perfect match. But apparently Noel is going to get a good man to go with that house she’s trying desperately to buy. 

These friends are about to discover that Christmas wishes can come true, because in spite of romantic setbacks and derailed dreams, this truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

 

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REVIEW 

Christmas is the time of year where we wish, hope, and dream that the impossible becomes possible. Young, old, man, woman, adult, child, rich or poor, we all have a wish or have had a wish you’d like see come true.

Some children dream of a puppy, pony, a toy, or for a parent to be there on Christmas morning. Some adults long for a spouse to be home for the holidays, more financial security, a Christmas miracle, or finding love at last.

In the case of the three women in Three Christmas Wishes, they all went to see Santa for their own personal reasons. Basically, they need Santa to perform a miracle pertaining to man issues.

Jo wanted her Navy husband to be home permanently so he could watch their child grow up. Riley’s engagement recently ended when her fiancé fell out of love with her and into love with her bridesmaid. And Noel, she was unsure if she’d ever achieve her happily ever after.

After a brief and odd encounter with a mall Santa, what they deemed impossible — a lost cause — didn’t seem so far fetched at all. After a few bumps, several tears, more than one spill, and a couple fender benders, these three did get what they most wanted for Christmas.

A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND A VERY HAPPILY EVER AFTER! 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤1/2

 

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Review of “Twelve Days of Christmas” – Debbie Macomber

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Continuing in a festive annual tradition, #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber returns with a new original holiday novel full of romance and cheer—and the magical prospect of finding love in the most unexpected places.
 
Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that’s the last straw. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.
 
To track her progress, Julia starts a blog called The Twelve Days of Christmas. Her first attempts to humanize Cain are far from successful. Julia brings him homemade Christmas treats and the disagreeable grinch won’t even accept them. Meanwhile, Julie’s blog becomes an online sensation, as an astonishing number of people start following her adventures. Julia continues to find ways to express kindness and, little by little, chips away at Cain’s gruff façade to reveal the caring man underneath. Unbelievably, Julia feels herself falling for Cain—and she suspects that he may be falling for her as well. But as the popularity of her blog continues to grow, Julia must decide if telling Cain the truth about having chronicled their relationship to the rest of the world is worth risking their chance at love.

 

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No matter the time of year, whether it’s a special occasion, holiday or just an ordinary day, we ALL SHOULD show kindness, generosity, and a share a smile.

Positive actions cause positive reactions!!

Debbie was correct, one act (big or small) will cause a ripple effect and this world needs more light, more goodness. That’s why I love and embrace paying it forward mentality. It’s also why this book is a MUST READ for everyone. It would be a GREAT BOOK to give as a Christmas present or a just because gift.

It’s never too late to follow in Julia’s footsteps. Bake someone some cookies, pay for another person’s coffee, bring them soup when their sick or walk their dog when they can not, or just play a game with them and talk. In return, you might learn a thing or two…..like Julia, like Cain, like Julia’s followers, like myself. 

 

Heart Rating System – 1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤❤ (Deserves more than 5!!!) 

 

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Review of “Frozen” – L.A. Casey

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Neala and Darcy have loved to hate each other since they were kids. Forced together, will they be naughty—or can they play nice?

There’s one must-have toy this Christmas, and Neala Clarke has told her niece Charli she’ll get it for her. Never mind that she’s got less than a week and it looks like everywhere is sold out. She’s promised Charli a Fire Princess doll—and Neala is a woman of her word.

Darcy Hart is a people-pleaser. So when his adorable six-year-old nephew, Dustin, asks for a particular doll at the last minute, he says yes. Luckily for Darcy, there’s one left in stock at the local toy store. Unluckily for Darcy, he’s not the only person who wants it—and his rival is the one woman who’s immune to his charms.

This can’t possibly end well for both of them…can it?

 

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I snarled, “Give me the doll. Now!”
Darcy had the doll box against his chest with both hands on it. His fingers tapped against the cardboard while a smug smile stretched across his face.
He glanced to the snowmen gathered around my feet and teased, “You’ve got to watch your step, sweetheart.”
I blew out a frustrated breath. “I swear if you don’t give me that bloody doll I’ll-“
“You’ll what?” he cut me off, his smug smile still in place on his handsome face.
Damn him.
“I’ll shove me foot so far up your arse you’ll need a surgeon to remove it.”
Darcy’s eyes widened. “You’re a foot shorter than me, and at least fifty pounds lighter. You’re a tiny little thing, Neala Girl. I’m not scared of you. You can’t hurt me.”
Wrong.
He was so wrong.
“I can hurt you, and I will unless you give me the doll.”
Darcy raised an eyebrow and snorted. “How about… no.”
Bastard!
I curled my lip into a sadistic grin. “Okay, you asked for it.”
Darcy shook his head at me and moved forward so he could brush by me. “I don’t have time for – What the hell?”
When he was close enough to do so I manoeuvred my body behind his, hooked my arms around his chest and searched for his nipples with my hands. When I found them, I grabbed them between my index fingers and thumbs and pinched.
“Me nipples, let go of me nipples!” Darcy roared.
I growled and tweaked his nipples a little harder. 
“Let go of the doll, and I’ll let go of your nipples.”
There was a sentence I never thought I’d hear myself say.

 

 

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Neala and Darcy were once childhood friends –  the very best. Then, one day, their friendship ended and their feud began.

Thorough-out the years, they have made each other lives miserable because they can’t get pass one regrettable moment where he didn’t take her side during a childhood playground fight.

Their animosity carried over into adulthood and caused tension at family events. One event in particular ended with explosive results for Darcy. I mean, shit hit the fan.  😯  I’m not gonna lie, the prank Neala pulled on him was painfully funny to read. 🙂 However, the best prank of all wasn’t pulled off by either of them. (no spoilers)

Now back to the reason why they are at each other’s throats – this time. Cue this Christmas’ must have toy, the last Fire Princess doll. I can recall the frenzy I watched unfold on tv when Tickle Me Elmo first came onto the scene. People went batshit crazy for that overpriced toy. So, I CAN absolutely envision the wrestling match/battle over who gets to claim Fire Princess as theirs.

In the end though, everything worked out. Darcy and Neala realized they truly loved each other all these years. The revelation surprised no one but them. We also saw the magic of Christmas and young love spark to life. 

 

Heart Rating System – 1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤1/2

 

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L.A. Casey is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who juggles her time between her mini-me and writing. She was born, raised and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland. She enjoys chatting with her readers, who love her humour and Irish accent as much as her books.

Casey’s first book, DOMINIC, was independently published in 2014 and became an instant success on Amazon. She is both traditionally and independently published and is represented by Mark Gottlieb from Trident Media Group. 

To read more about this author, visit her website at www.lacaseyauthor.com

Also, don’t forget to follow her on Twitter.

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Author Showcase – Jaci Burton (Mistletoe Games, A Play-by-Play Anthology)

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Holiday Games
For the high-achieving Elizabeth and her husband, baseball player Gavin Riley, failure is not an option. So when it comes to making a baby, they’re not about to let any holiday distractions get in the way of their necessary pleasures…
 
Holiday on Ice
It’s the season for giving and superstar hockey player Patrick “Trick” Niemeyer is ready to give dancer Stella Slovinski his heart wrapped up in bow. But he’ll have to melt the ice surrounding her heart to keep her from walking away…
 
Hot Holiday Nights
Christmas in Hawaii brings sports agent Tori Baldwin two presents: a young surfer at the top of his game and his business manager. But this hot threesome has to decide if the romantic wave they’ve caught is nothing more than a vacation fling, or the kind of love that could change their lives forever…

 

Three Sneak Peeks!

 

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From Holiday Games

 

Not Pregnant.

Liz Riley sat in her bathroom, crushing disappointment tightening her stomach as she stared at the pregnancy test.

Not pregnant. Again.

Her period was three days late. She’d been so certain this time.

Dammit. The word failure wasn’t in her lexicon. She’d always succeeded, usually found a way to get what she wanted. Even when faced with a temporary roadblock, she wrangled her way around it and won. She was one of the best sports agents in the business, and always got what she wanted.

But that was business, and this was personal. For the past year, she’d tried—and failed—numerous times to get pregnant.

She tossed the stick into the trash and stared at herself in the mirror.

“This sucks.”

“What sucks?”

She whirled to face her husband, Gavin, the love of her life and the only man who could have ever made her want to have a baby.

 

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From Holiday on Ice

 

Patrick “Trick” Niemeyer walked into McGill’s, his favorite after-game bar hangout, with several of his fellow players.

It had been a grueling game tonight, and they’d eked out a win by only one goal over Winnipeg. Since it was Friday night and they were on home turf, they deserved to celebrate.

“I need a drink—or three,” Drew Hogan said.

He and Drew were of like minds there, which didn’t surprise him since they were friends and had been as long as they’d both played for the New York Travelers.

“Let’s get this party started.” Trick led the way to the bar.

“How many of us are having beer?” Avery Mangino, their goalie and the main reason they’d won tonight, turned and counted as all of them raised fingers.

“Okay, that’s a half dozen.” Avery turned to the bartender, who slid bottles across.

Trick took a long draw from the bottle, then sighed. Nice and cold, like the ice had been tonight. But the crowd had been hot, and so had the game. They’d had to work hard for this win, and it had been a nail-biter all the way to the buzzer at the end of the third period.

“We need to avoid these close ones,” Avery said, leaning against the bar. “You all are going to have to score more goals next time.”

 

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From Hot Holiday Nights

 

Victoria Baldwin determined it had been six months, three days, four hours and—she looked at her phone and calculated—approximately seventeen minutes since she’d last had time off.

She was damned overdue. She normally took holidays more frequently. Working in the sports industry for fifteen years should have netted her vacation time whenever she wanted it, but being a sports agent meant that sometimes you had to work your ass off, and this had been one of those brutal kinds of years.

Not that she was complaining. Picking up a few new clients had meant an uptick in her bank account, which allowed her to take these getaways. So she’d suck it up and do the hard work when it was necessary.

And now she had three weeks off. She could already feel the stress melting away.

She’d vacationed all over the world, from Mexico to Fiji to Europe to Asia to every island in the Caribbean, but she always loved coming back to Hawaii, and especially the island of Oahu. It was the flowers. She loved the smell of the flowers here, and the staff at her favorite hotel on the north shore were incomparable.

She’d been lucky to get in on such short notice. They were booked solid for the international surfing competitions that would start in a few days. Plus it was also the Christmas holiday. But they’d made a suite available for her, knowing she was a preferred customer and she tipped very well.

She threw on her swimsuit, then put on a pair of shorts and a tank top over it, laced up her shoes, lathered up the sunscreen and grabbed her sunglasses. First item on the agenda was a run on the beach. It was the perfect way to release stress and unwind.

 

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Review of “The Trouble with Mistletoe: A Heartbreaker Bay Novel” – Jill Shalvis

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If she has her way . . .

Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her . . .

He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.

Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead-gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him . . .

Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice . . .

Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish—and let the mistletoe do its work . . .

 

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I’m a uber fan of romantic comedies because I love to laugh and I adore happily ever afters.

In “The Trouble with Mistletoe”, readers will laugh over the woes Keane faces with Pita; his (Pain In The Ass) aunt’s (turned his) cat. It’s a love-hate relationship but they do reach a point where she retracts her claws and allows him into her kitty heart. Someone else also allows him to enter their heart –Willa.

Willa had many walls put up, but thankfully Keane’s tearing down skills don’t just apply to his house-flipping business.  With a little love and a WHOLE LOT OF PATIENCE, he helped her see they were perfect together. Pita, too.  😀 

Really, how could she not let this man in…..all the way in! He’s hardworking, smart, handsome, takes care of his family, friends, and loves Frosted Flakes for supper. Come on, he’s the total package.

And Willa? She would do absolutely anything and everything for those who matter to her. Even Eddie, the homeless man living in her alley, was a recipient of her kindness. She decorated his “home” with Christmas lights. She brought him food. She’d take him into her home, if he actually would accept the offer.

Two generous, loving people finding love on the holidays. What could make a better Christmas story than that?!

 

Heart Rating System – 1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤1/2

 

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New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit http://www.jillshalvis.com for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

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