Monday, 19 March 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It's a great post to organise yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!
Life right now!

Fingers crossed, yesterday was the last really cold day as temperatures are due to begin rising slightly this coming week. With above freezing temperatures forecast, the thaw will begin, although it will be mid-late April before we are completely snow-free. However, the current weather front is bringing lots of sunshine, so that is good for the soul. It's the last week of school for my son before the Easter break and with a school play running this week, our days will be less stressful as there is no homework. The garden is only accessible on skis, so it was a creative trip to feed the birds. Reading is a little slow right now, but I've managed two books this week. 

What am I currently reading?

Murder Notes (arc) by Lisa Renee Jones

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones’s heart-pounding thriller of a woman’s secrets—and a past that’s about to come out of hiding…

As an FBI profiler, it’s Lilah Love’s job to think like a killer. And she is very good at her job. When a series of murders surface—the victims all stripped naked and shot in the head—Lilah’s instincts tell her it’s the work of an assassin, not a serial killer. But when the case takes her back to her hometown in the Hamptons and a mysterious but unmistakable connection to her own life, all her assumptions are shaken to the core.

Thrust into a troubled past she’s tried to shut the door on, Lilah’s back in the town where her father is mayor, her brother is police chief, and she has an intimate history with the local crime lord’s son, Kane Mendez. The two share a devastating secret, and only Kane understands Lilah’s own darkest impulses. As more corpses surface, so does a series of anonymous notes to Lilah, threatening to expose her. Is the killer someone in her own circle? And is she the next target?

Thoughts so far...

I've fallen into a trap where I finish a book on a Sunday and barely past the first chapter on a Monday morning. Today is one of those days! So far, I'm drawn into the narrative and as I've read books by this author before, I feel confident this will fall into a 4-5 star category. 
The majority of books I've read this year have been Romantic Suspense and I'm loving the diversity of this genre. Each one has felt very different from the last, unlike many contemporary romances I've read. 

What's next on my reading list?

by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

by Emily Neville

Saturday, 17 March 2018

New Release Spotlight: Lady In Waiting by Marie Tremayne

Lady In Waiting by Marie Tremayne
Series The Reluctant Brides
Genre Adult Historical Romance
Publisher Avon Impulse
Publication Date March 13, 2018

She wants to escape her present . . .

When Clara Mayfield helps her sister elope, she’s prepared for the scandal to seal her fate as a spinster. What she doesn't expect is to find herself engaged to the vile Baron Rutherford as a means of salvaging her family's reputation. Determined not to be chained to a man she loathes, Clara slips out of Essex and sheds her identity: she becomes Helen, maid at the Earl of Ashworth’s country estate. After all, below stairs is the last place anyone would think to look for an heiress . . .

He wants to forget his past . . .

William, Lord Ashworth, is attempting to rebuild his life after the devastating accident that claimed the lives of his entire family, save his beloved sister and niece. Haunted by memories of what was and determined to live up to the title he never expected to inherit, William doesn’t have time for love. What he needs is a noble and accomplished wife, one who can further the Ashworth line and keep the family name untarnished . . .

Together, can they find the perfect future?

From their first encounter, the attraction between them is undeniable. But Clara knows William is falling for Helen, a woman who doesn’t even exist. The question is, if she reveals the truth about her identity, can she trust the broken William to forgive her lie and stand by her side when scandal—and the baron—inevitably follow her to his door?

“My lord, are you well?”
Ashworth’s hand slowly dropped from the doorknob and he stared openly at her, his expression unreadable. Clara guessed it could have been weeks or months since he’d had a loved one or a friend ask him that question.
He cocked his head to the side, eyeing her curiously. “Do I appear to be unwell?”
Clara bit her lip. Of course, he appeared very well indeed. She couldn’t stop her eyes from scanning over him and felt herself flush hotly in response.
Yes…no…that is, you look distressed. As if something is wrong.”
Ashworth stepped forward. “I am in charge of an earldom. There could be many things wrong.” He paused. “And this concerns you because…?”
Well, I am aware it shouldn’t concern me,” she answered nervously. “But—I find it does.”
He mulled this over in silence as his restless gaze roamed over her, starting at her cap, alighting on her face, moving down the dark rose-colored fabric of her morning dress, skimming over her apron, and landing on her sturdy black shoes. His eyes snapped back up to hold hers in their sway.
I appreciate your concern, but rest assured, it is misplaced.” The earl took another step in her direction. “However, since we’re on the subject of appearances, I would tell you that you seem tired today.” The corner of his mouth lifted in the barest hint of a smile. “Is there something amiss?”
Clara’s lips parted in surprise. “That was neatly done, my lord. You managed to avoid answering my question while directing one at me instead.” She hesitated. “Well if you must know, I am tired. My room is like an icebox at night.”
He blinked. This time he really did look concerned. “Is it?”
Yes,” she replied. “But that’s really beside the point. You are under no obligation to confide in me, I only thought perhaps—”
And I told you,” he said, cutting her off, “that I appreciate the concern. But you and I both know it’s against all proprieties to discuss personal matters—”
Have you always been so set on adhering to the proprieties, my lord?”
The earl straightened, eyes widening in disbelief, and she immediately knew the conversation had been taken too far.
Clara lowered her head and tried to avoid him, skirting around the edge of the room toward the door. “Forgive my intrusion. It was wrong of me to insert myself where I do not belong.”
She passed Ashworth and his hand shot out, securing her wrist in his hold before she could flee.
Was that an insult? Or simply an observation?” he inquired.
She swallowed, weighing her response with caution. “No, my lord. On the contrary, I think it an admirable quality in a peer to be willing to break with tradition.” Ashworth’s gaze drifted from her face to the place where his fingers were wrapped around her arm. After a moment, he gently released her. Disappointment flooded through her as the heat of his hand evaporated off her skin.
Stepping backward, he spread his arms wide in mock invitation.
Since we are ignoring decorum, is there anything else you wish to ask?” Then he added wisely, “I may or may not choose to answer.”
She considered this in silence, her hand moving to cover the wrist that still tingled from his touch. This game had already started. Why stop now?
Yes, my lord. There is one thing.” Clara took a deep breath. “Has your steward much experience with flooded farmlands?”
Pardon me?” His voice was low. Possibly annoyed.
My lord, your land steward is another servant, regardless of his accomplishments. I’d wager your tenants would value a visit from you, the Earl of Ashworth, along with the opportunity to discuss their thoughts on resolving the flooding.”
She had managed to say the words, but she had also begun to tremble uncontrollably. She clenched her hands into fists and held them tightly at her sides to conceal her shaking.
Lord Ashworth stood stock still. He simply stared at her as if she had spontaneously recited the Russian alphabet. When he did speak, he sounded calm, but his voice was hoarse.
What do you know of flooded farmlands, Helen?”
A trickle of sweat raced down her back.
Ashworth stepped closer to her, his face expectant. Clara’s breath came in gulps as she attempted to maintain her composure. “I–my father had experience in such matters.”
Your father?” he asked, intrigued.
Yes, my lord,” she responded hastily, hoping to change the subject. “I’ve no wish to interfere, but I was thinking a meeting might help connect you more closely to your townsfolk.”
The earl’s eyebrows arched. “Why do you take such an interest in my affairs?”
I’m not. I don’t,” she stammered. “I’m only thinking as a commoner. Speaking as a commoner…”
Speaking as a commoner,” he interrupted thoughtfully, taking another step forward. “A commoner would know when to hold her tongue, and yet you, somehow, do not.” Another step. The alarm bells she had chosen to ignore earlier were now clanging again, more insistently.
His words were true. She was being Clara Mayfield right now, and she needed to correct her course immediately. Before he was close enough to touch her.
Of course, you are right, my lord,” she forced out, hoping to put an end to the conversation. “I only meant to help. I can see now that I’ve overstepped my bounds.”
A huff of amusement escaped him. “A habit of yours.” Then softly, “And how can you possibly help me?”
The earl took one last step in her direction, and it wasn’t until Clara felt her back collide with the far wall that she realized she had also been retreating. He was only inches away, so close she could feel the heat radiating off his body. Being at eye level with his broad chest, he suddenly seemed far too large, far too close.
Ashworth had an incomparable sensual grace, unmatched by any man she’d ever seen. Without thinking, Clara reached out and placed her fingertips on his chest—whether a defensive reflex or an invitation, she couldn’t be sure. At her touch, he tensed and closed his eyes, a small gasp hissing through his teeth.
Any lingering doubts melted away as she witnessed his reaction. He wanted her hands on him. She flattened her palms across the lawn of his shirt, feeling the contrast of hard muscle to soft fabric.
Clara had always believed her inexperience had caused her to be shy with men, but now it was apparent part of the problem had been that she had not yet been with the right man. Here, with Ashworth, fire flowed through her veins as she allowed her hands to roam. His clenched jaw and fists were an indication of resistance, but his refusal to halt her caresses challenged her to continue.
What could she possibly do to help him?
He had asked, and now she burned to find out.
Her fingers traced along the length of his blue satin cravat, and he made a sound low in his throat.
The sound raced through Clara like wildfire. Disregarding everything…the woman she was, and the woman she was pretending to be…she rose high up on her tiptoes and brushed her lips against his.

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MARIE TREMAYNE graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. in English Language and Literature. While there, a copy of Pride and Prejudice ended up changing her life. She decided to study the great books of the Regency and Victorian eras, and now enjoys writing her own tales set in the historical period she loves. Marie lives with her family in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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Friday, 16 March 2018

Book Blogger Hop: 16th-22nd March 2018

Question:  Who is your favorite children's books author and why?

Answer: Enid Blyton. Why? Her books made me fall in love with reading before the age of nine. I still have all the books of hers that I read and even though they are rather dated by todays standards, I'm still very fond of them. The Faraway Tree was one of my earlier favourites before discovering the Mallory Towers, St Clare & The Famous Five  series . All These books were escapism as I read about the highs and lows of living away from home and the excitement of the forbidden midnight feasts and magical discoveries. 
If I was to ask the same question to my eleven year old son, his reply would be the writing colaboration called Erin Hunter. He loves the Warrior Cat books and has read twenty seven of them in the past eighteen months. Any authors books that entice and encourage children to read for fun is a favourite of mine.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Cover Reveal: Lyric by Molly McAdams

A stand-alone romance novel in the Rebel series – a Redemption series spin-off
Coming April 30th
Photo: Regina Wamba
Cover: RBA Designs

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Molly McAdams delivers the first captivating, stand-alone novel in her REDEMPTION series spin-off—the REBEL series . . . 

I’m not the kind of girl you forget.  
I wish I was.  
I wish I was normal.  
That I could blend into a crowd. Have a future with the man I’ve loved my entire life… 

Maxon James understands me in a way others can’t. 
For as long as I can remember, he’s vowed that one day he would claim my wild, rebel heart. God knows I wanted him to try. I wanted the life he promised me in his lyrics. 
But his assurances couldn’t change the past, and the infamous mafia blood in my veins guarantees my heart can’t be claimed. 

Somewhere along the way, I slipped. I let myself believe we could have it all. Now a dark, menacing shadow hovers between us, mocking us for daring to hope for a normal future.  

And it’s come to collect on a blood oath.  

My name’s Elizabeth Borello—Libby for short. Don’t worry about forgetting it… He hasn’t. 

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Molly grew up in California but now lives in the oh-so-amazing state of Texas with her husband, daughter, and fur babies. When she's not diving into the world of her characters, some of her hobbies include hiking, snowboarding, traveling, and long walks on the beach … which roughly translates to being a homebody with her hubby and dishing out movie quotes. She has a weakness for crude-humored movies and fried pickles, and loves curling up in a fluffy comforter during a thunderstorm ... or under one in a bathtub if there are tornados. That way she can pretend they aren't really happening.
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New Release Spotlight: The Firstborn Prince by Virginia Nelson

Foster Boyd wants control of the family business before his brother’s escapades ruin their reputation. Since he can’t force his brother out, he needs to distract him--or reform him. Where can he find a woman willing to do anything to save his business?

Natalie Stolen was at the top of her game as image consultant to the stars. But when one of her client’s reveals a juicy secret, the media went on a feeding frenzy, taking down Natalie’s career faster than she could say “scandal.” Now in dire straits, she’s been given an offer she can’t refuse…

But what happens when the woman you hired to distract your brother is the only woman you can’t stop thinking about?

  1. “Do you usually try to manipulate people over lunch?”
His smile was whiplash fast and charming as hell. “I don’t reserve my skills for just lunchtime.”
“Save it, Mr. Boyd,” she said.
He shook his head. “Foster.”
“Pardon me?” She put the napkin back in her lap and grabbed another forkful of the scallops. She hated to admit he was right, but he was. She wanted to eat them while they were still warm and buttery and perfect, a delicious counterpoint to the emulsion, which had a bite of sour, and the unexpected sweetness of the cauliflower.
“If he’s going to think he’s stealing you from me, he needs to think we’re at least on the road to becoming intimate. Which means you really must call me by my first name, Natalie.”
She choked on the excellent scallop and noted it didn’t taste nearly as wonderful when lodged in her windpipe.

USA Today Bestselling Author Virginia Nelson is the hybrid author best known for The Penthouse Prince. Aside from that, she’s the mother of three wonderful biological children and tons of adopted kids and critters. Virginia is a graduate of Kent State University with an Associate of Science and a Bachelor of Arts in English and a current student at Seton Hill University where she’s pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction. Sometimes called the rainbow unicorn of romance, she’s also far from perfect and she knows it. You can find out more about her—including where to find her on social media—on her website.
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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Review: Save Me by Tiffany Snow

(from Goodreads)
In this fast-paced romantic suspense, China Mack will make one final choice.
Computer genius China Mack may be the former head of Vigilance, the government’s clandestine spy program, but she can still be knocked off balance. And two back-to-back personal blows have thrown her into a tailspin.
While her relationship with tech billionaire Jackson Cooper is on the rocks, China is testing the boundaries of what she feels for man-of-mystery Clark Slattery. But when China learns that her mother’s death sixteen years ago wasn’t an accident, she can’t rest until she knows the truth. And China’s own father, an elusive ex–CIA agent, might have been the killer. To avenge her mother’s death, she needs help, and both Jackson and Clark step up to the plate. But when her investigation is linked to a decades-old international plot to hack the New York Stock Exchange, putting both of the men she loves in danger, China must make an impossible decision to keep them safe.
As the three of them are plunged into a far-reaching conspiracy, China’s notions of love and trust are turned upside down. For China, this final case couldn’t be more personal—or more dangerous.

This has been an incredibly difficult review to write. Save Me is the fourth and final instalment of the Corrupted Hearts series.

When I first picked up this novel, I did something I don't normally do and skipped to the end to ascertain who won China's heart simply because I wanted to know. I read the final chapter and the epilogue before going back to read from the beginning onwards. I'm not going to give any hints or clues to the conclusion of that particular plot thread, so you'll just have to read this book yourself to make that discover. I will add, my actions didn't impact on my overall enjoyment of this novel and I don't regret my uncharacteristic impulsive action.

The lives of China Mack, Jackson Cooper and Clark Slattery become more complicated when it becomes clear both men want China and she herself loves them both too, which isn't surprising. They are drop dead gorgeous and powerful men so it's understandable the heroine is spoilt for choice and is undecided. Yet, China does make her choice but the decision doesn't have a noticeable "bells and whistles" impact I was expecting.

However, the conclusion of China's 'Happy Ever After' didn't go entirely as I predicted and an unexpected twist was a welcome surprise. However, because I've continually felt during this series that I was reading a narrative I've read before, it didn't have the impact it should have because I just wasn't invested in the protagonists and their tangled relationships to really care.

The suspense of the narrative is fast-paced as I've come to expect with this author and definitely the most positive aspect of this and the previous novels in the Corrupted Hearts series. Whereas I've struggled to wade through the story lines in the first three books, the writing seemed clearer this time around so I wasn't tempted to put the novel down until I'd finished reading the whole book. Whilst held captive as the numerous plot lines are tied up, I admit to rolling my eyes for each mention of the heroine's favourite biscuits. I wasn't interested enough to understand the acronyms displayed on her fan-fic clothing or tempted to find the meanings on Google. That aspect of China character went over my head and a big reason why I've had trouble relating to her throughout the series.

If I was a new reader discovering Ms Snow's novels and this was the first series of hers I'd read, the rating would be much higher than what I've given. I've read all her novels she's published yet this series has failed to shine for me because whilst the characters, plot and setting are original; the elements shaping the narrative trigger memories of a previous series. (Thoughts based entirely on my own reading experience)

***arc generously received courtesy of Montlake Romance via NetGalley***

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

New Release Spotlight: A Scot's Surrender by Lily Maxton

A Scot’s Surrender by Lily Maxton
Series The Townsends #3
Genre Adult; Historical Romance; M/M Romance
Publisher Entangled Publishing
Publication Date March 12, 2018

When his brother leaves him in charge of Llynmore Castle, Robert Townsend is determined to make everything go smoothly. What does it matter if he’s inexplicably drawn to Ian Cameron, the estate’s stoic steward? Robert is sure he can ignore the way the Highlander’s apparent dislike of him gets under his skin. They’ll muddle along just fine so long as they avoid one another. An excellent plan…until a fire forces Ian into the castle—and Robert’s personal space.

Ian Cameron has worked for everything he owns, unlike spoiled Robert Townsend. And he may not have friends, but he has the Highlands and the stars, and what more could he really need? But when a guest’s stolen possession appears in his room, he doesn’t have much choice but to admit to the handsome and aggravatingly charming Townsend brother that he needs help. To solve this mystery, they’ll have to put aside their differences. And as Ian learns more about Robert, he’ll have to guard his heart…or it may be the next thing stolen.

Robert Townsend isn't happy his sister Georgina invites Ian Cameron to stay at Llynmore Castle when their brother and wife, Lord and Lady Arden are away, He dislikes the aloof Highlander but he's also intrigued by him too. When Ian's accused of stealing personal items from their other temporary guests; English gentry seeking refuge at the castle. Robert decides he believes this man is telling the truth. So the pair works together to prove his innocence.

When a lightning bolt strikes the thatched roof of his cottage on the Arden Estate and sets fire to his home, Ian Cameron begrudgingly agrees to move into Llynmore Castle until the property can be rebuilt. Unlike his factor, he has worked hard for everything he owns unlike Robert Townsend, who is spoilt and doesn't work. Suspicions are aroused when personal items disappear and he is the main suspect. The situation forcing the two men to work alongside each other to solve the crime.

I've haven't read any Lily Maxton novels before and my first impressions are more than favourable. I love how she captures the mood of the era, where vigilance is always necessary when men engage in illicit relationships. The cautious attitudes are captured perfectly in this slow burn romance as Ian and Robert begin to discover their pre-held opinions of each other are presumptive. Gradually, they realise they both have the same burning desires as they lower their defences and open their hearts to each other.

I laughed at the imaginative way of solving the crime as the unexpected culprit is revealed. The secondary characters pushing this plot-line along blended in well. Robert and Ian's developing relationship is as much about cultivating and building a lasting friendship as exploring the physical attraction between themselves. Resulting in more tender, meaningful exchanges between the pair than sizzling passionate interactions which fit both men's limited sexual experiences perfectly.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed A Scot's Surrender. I'll definitely be reading the earlier books in The Townsend series. I loved the Scottish Highlands backdrop and the twist of mystery which was a first for me reading historical romances.

***arc generously received courtesy of Entangled Publishing via NetGalley***

Just as Robert was stepping inside, a dark, wet blur shot past his feet and sent him sprawling. He fully expected to land face-first on the hard stone of the great hall, but Cameron’s hand caught his arm and hauled him up roughly.
Watch yerself.”
Watch himself? It wasn’t Robert’s fault the bloody cat was a menace. The servants’ door had a hole cut from the bottom, specifically so the cat—named Willoughby by Annabel—could come and go, and he still insisted on using the entrance to the great hall instead.
A bit high in the instep really, that scoundrel Willoughby.
Robert didn’t dislike cats, but he’d always been more of a dog person himself—one knew where one stood with a dog. They didn’t stare at a person with those unreadable, impassive eyes. With cats, it was impossible to tell if they liked you or if they might be plotting your murder.
Rather like a certain person he knew. Except that was more of a debate between complete and utter indifference or murder.
He pulled his arm from Cameron’s grasp. Too quickly. Too abruptly. “Thank you,” he said, trying to sound calm.
He usually got along with people much better than this. He usually had no trouble being charming enough to get past their defenses when he chose to. And he’d tried. He couldn’t say he hadn’t tried. Cameron was either all defenses, or he just didn’t like Robert very much.
Robert didn’t know why he let it bother him—he shouldn’t care about the opinion of one lowly factor.
But around Ian Cameron, Robert felt like a piece of refuse, and he was starting to hate it.
And the feeling was made all the more potent by the desire that he couldn’t seem to shake.
He turned toward the man. His hair was slick with rain, curling into wet tangles at the nape of his neck, and darkened, like red-black velvet. “Why do you dislike me?” Robert blurted out. “I’ve never been unkind to you, have I?”
Cameron cocked his head. There was an expression, there and then gone. Robert didn’t have time to decipher it.
Dislike ye?” He almost sounded amused. His lips were curved slightly, more of a smirk than a smile. Cameron seemed incapable of a pure smile, of happiness without a touch of derision. “Why do you assume I think of you at all?”
Robert felt heat crawling up his throat.
Before he could even figure out how to respond, Cameron was speaking again. “Thank you for the coat,” he said, as pleasantly and formally and coolly polite as though the last few seconds hadn’t even occurred.
He dropped the cloak into Robert’s hand, leaned against the wall to peel off his muddy shoes, and then strode away without a backward glance.
Robert felt like he’d just been dismissed by someone of higher rank. Theo really shouldn’t employ someone who was so…undeferential. Of course, maybe he was perfectly deferential when Theo was around. Maybe it was just Robert.
Why do you assume I think of you at all?
His grip tightened on the cloak. The silk lining was still warm from the heat of Cameron’s body, from sleep-warmed skin. He quickly draped it over a hook.
Why, indeed.

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Lily Maxton grew up in the Midwest, reading, writing, and daydreaming amidst cornfields. After graduating with a degree in English, she decided to put her natural inclinations to good use and embark on a career as a writer.
When she’s not working on a new story, she likes to tour old houses, add to her tea stash, and think of reasons to avoid housework.

Entangled Publishing

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open internationally. Two winners will be chosen. One winner will receive a $20 Amazon gift card, the other will receive a $25 Amazon gift card (winners chosen at random). This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Entangled Publishing. Giveaway ends 3/16/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Entangled Publishing will send one winning prize, Pure Textuality PR will deliver the other. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.