Relationships in Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest

Relationships in Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest

So this is a guest post, but not…

Hi! You know me. I’m Keira Gillett and I own and run Love Romance Passion. Today, I’m talking about something you might have noticed if you’ve visited the site recently or been hanging out on Facebook and Twitter. My book! That’s right, I took the plunge and wrote a story. Queue *oooo* and *ahhh* sounds. :)

Oooo

Ahhh

Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest is about an American girl who moves to Norway and meets a troll, who kidnaps her friend… a friend she must rescue. See the book trailer below:

My book is middle grade/young adult and does not include the typical romantic relationships we love to read and discuss on this blog, but my book does include some very special relationships. These are the familial bonds between parents and their kids.

So Zaria is adopted, an only child, has lovely parents, and is well adjusted. Queue the *horror.*

What will you write about without all that teen drama?!?!?

Wait! Adopted?

Adoptive parents can be absolutely wonderful people. They’re not all mean. Just like step-parents aren’t all nasty. Or aunts, uncles, grandparents, and other guardians… take your pick. Fictional kids can be like real kids and come from happy homes and not from neglected environments (an oft-used literary tool.) I wanted my heroine to experience the same happy home environment.

As for the relationships, I modeled Merry Fierce and Zaria Fierce’s relationship off of my relationship with my mom. Mom Gillett is a cool mom if I do say so myself. If I wanted to play hooky growing up, she’d play hooky with me. If I wanted to be checked out for a lunch date, we’d do that and head over to the fancy establishment by the school (Taco Bell.) If I wanted to desperately attend a midnight premiere for Harry Potter while on a family road trip she somehow made it work. In high school, she let my best friend stay with us while her dad was out of the country. We traveled the world together and are the best of friends. So I poured that loving relationship into Merry’s and Zaria’s relationship.

And I don’t stop there.

  • Colonel Fierce is hard-working, attentive, loving, strict, and obliging.
  • Emma Johansen (Christoffer’s mum) is kind, concerned, intelligent, and loving.
  • Mr Mickelsen (Aleks’ dad) is attentive, supportive, and kind.
  • Aleks has a good relationship with his gran.
  • Mrs Storstrand (Filip’s mom) is strict, fair, and loving.

The adults are all good people and yet the kids still get to go on adventures all over Norway to reach Gloomwood Forest. See parents don’t ruin all the fun! So how do the kids do it? Aha! Good question. Discover the answer in Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest.

What other books have you read where the adults are good people and have good relationships with their kids or wards?

Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood ForestBook Blurb: On her birthday, Zaria Fierce finds her usual path to school blocked by an ugly river-troll. At first she’s surprised and curious, but then Olaf threatens to eat her, which is an act Zaria could not in good conscience consent to, so Zaria counteroffers. A deal is struck and she goes to school, but Zaria is about to learn the hard way that one does not trick a river-troll and expect to win.

Early Reviews:

“With kids interested in “Frozen,” with Anna and Elsa, this would be a natural progression.” – Judi Oswald, Reference Librarian

Excerpt:

Geirr stooped to pick up some decent-sized sticks, and Zaria bent to grab a few too. They talked amicably and walked, stretching their legs, until they were too burdened by their loads to keep going.

“My arms are going to collapse,” Zaria huffed. Her breath fogged around her face, covering and then revealing a well-pinked nose and cheeks. “Let’s head back to camp.”

“Sounds good to me,” Geirr said and turned around to do just that. Zaria followed and collided into him, dropping her load of kindling all over the ground.

“Hey!” she exclaimed, as she went to gather them. “Why did you stop?”

“I don’t think we’re going to find camp,” Geirr said, worrying his lip. He juggled his armful of wood and pointed haphazardly forward. “It’s like pea soup.”

Zaria looked up from playing fifty-two pickup and saw what worried Geirr. In front of them was a wall of fog, thick, viscous, and impossible to see through. She gulped and carefully set down the pile she’d been working to gather again. Was it her imagination or did the fog seem to be breathing? It crept closer in stages. Not fast enough that she saw it while looking directly at it, but if she looked away and back, it most definitely moved.

“Uh, Geirr,” Zaria said, slowly gaining her feet. “I think we should move and fast.”

Geirr looked at her puzzled. “I don’t think fast is an option here. Now if you pick up your stack and stick near me maybe we can Marco Polo our way back to the others.”

“Geirr,” Zaria hissed, her voice ratcheting higher. “The fog is moving.” He didn’t look impressed. The breathing sounds from within the fog grew louder, distressing Zaria. “No seriously, it’s moving like it’s alive.”

Geirr looked back again and stared hard, trying to penetrate the fog with his gaze alone. Zaria started to ease away, firewood forgotten.

“Come on, Geirr, we have to move. Can’t you hear the breathing?”

“That isn’t you?” he asked, alarmed.

“No!” Zaria shouted. “Run!”

Listen to an Audio Book sample:

Available in E-book | Print | Audio Book formats.

See if you’re eligible to get a free copy of the audio book here.

Keira Gillett author pictureAuthor Bio: Keira Gillett is a technical publications librarian, book blogger, world traveler, artist, and now author. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Drawing and Painting. From an early age her mother instilled a love of the written word, as such she has always been a big reader. Her first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, is about a young girl who must complete a quest to save her friend from a nasty river-troll.

Website: http://keiragillett.com

Social Media: Twitter (keiragillett), Facebook (zariafiercetrilogy), Pinterest (keiragillett)

Available in E-book | Print | Audio Book formats.

See if you’re eligible to get a free copy of the audio book here.

Review: The Vampire Hunter (In the Company of Vampires, Book 2) by Michelle Hauf

vampire hunterReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: It’s Kasper’s (Kaz) sixteenth birthday and his only present is a wild, fanged beast trying to kill him – in his panic, he stakes him, killing him outright, though it takes another man, Tor to tell him that the beast he just took out was a vampire and even though he bit him, as he killed it – he would not become like him. He got lucky and, though Tor can’t offer him a place to stay as he’s also homeless, he tells him he can become one of the Knights of the Stake who live to protect the humans who walk the streets of gay Paris.

Review: Kaz has changed from what we saw in the prologue. In chapter one and onward he is a grown man who has developed martial arts skills to be able to look after himself, but the ability to be fast still evades him. Meeting Zoe in the cemetery was a chance he never thought possible, but she needed help and he as after three more vampires, longtooth they are known as, and they could have done a lot of damage to a woman like her if they had caught her. The difference is Zoe isn’t like other women he’s met she’s a witch and being with her would go against his code of ethics.

After kissing Zoe once, he wishes he could kiss her again. Strange thing is he feels drawn to her, like they are meant to be together even though he has never met her before. Kaz, like most heroes in romantic fiction is a man on a quest – to find the single-toothed vampire who killed his friends Robert and Ellen Horst. They had been on their honeymoon when the crazed vamp had a burning desire for the diamonds his wife wore that night. Rumour has it there is a new drug going around called Magic Dust and if vampires take it, it makes them crave shiny things. Other than Kaz’s need to find the killer, he wants to find the one who is creating and distributing the drug – but it he does, he might not like who it is.

Good Bits:

  • The fight Kaz has in the cemetery at the beginning.
  • The ever mysterious Vaillant.
  • The naughty things Faeries can do during sex with vampires!

Summary: Michelle tackles the subject of Faerie and other supernatural creatures living in a sort of harmony in this novel. Vampires have the sort of needs we never pondered before and are far from the Gothic, fanged predators we took them for. They have weaknesses and the Faerie tend to exploit them for their own gain. Kaz is a strong character and Zoe is equally as strong but in different ways. I liked that this story was based in Paris and had a lot of fast-paced moments, emotions and humorous moments too.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Vampire Hunter (In the Company of Vampires Book 2)

Excerpt: The Marshal by Adrienne Giordano

The Marshal CoverBook Summary:

His painful past is their present danger.  The last thing US Marshal Brent Thompson needs is distraction from his work. But distraction—in the form of a sexy Chicago investigator—is exactly what he gets. Jenna Hayward is as alluring as she is determined, driven to help apprehend the murderer who killed Brent’s mother twenty-three years ago. With a shared mission—and a steadily rising attraction that jeopardizes Brent’s resolve to stay unattached—the pair must work together to get answers…before the murderer makes them his next victims.

Buy: The Marshal (Harlequin Intrigue)

* * *

Chapter One from The Marshal

This was a switch.

Deputy U.S. marshal Brent Thompson stood in a Chicago hotel ballroom among a throng of impeccably dressed political big shots that, for once, he didn’t have to protect.

Tonight, he was a guest.

Whether that made him happy or not was anyone’s guess. But he’d stay another hour for Judge Kline, a woman he’d spent two years watching over after her husband and children were murdered by some nut who’d been on the losing end of a ruling. Judge Kline had ordered him to pay a $1,200 fine and somehow he was mad enough to wipe out her entire family, leaving her to deal with guilt and rage and heartache.

Crazy.

Sometimes—sometimes? Really?—Brent didn’t understand people. Or maybe it was their motivations he didn’t understand, but the human race baffled him.

Tonight Judge Kline, who’d refused to allow her life to collapse under grief, was smiling. A welcome sight since her eighty-five-year-old mother had decided to throw one hell of a shindig for the judge’s sixtieth birthday.

“Brent?”

Brent turned and found the ever-polished Gerald Hennings, Chicago’s highest-profile defense attorney, weaving through the crowd. Accompanying him was a petite blonde in a floor-length bright blue gown. She had to be over fifty, but may have had a little work done to preserve her extraordinary looks. Her perfect cheekbones, the big blue eyes and sculpted nose were duplicates of the ones Brent recognized from Hennings’s daughter, Penny. Didn’t take a genius to figure out this woman was Mrs. Hennings. Brent held his hand out. “Mr. Hennings. Nice to see you.”

Five months earlier, Brent had been assigned to protect Penny Hennings after yet another nut—plenty of nuts in his world—had attempted to kill her on the steps of a federal courthouse. Penny had nearly put Brent into a psych ward with her relentless mouthiness and aggressive attitude, but he’d formed a bond with her. A kinship. And, much like Judge Kline, they’d remained friends after his assignment had ended. For whatever reason, emotionally speaking, he couldn’t let either one of them go. The fact that they’d all experienced tragedy might be the common denominator, but he chose not to think too hard about it. What was the point? None of them would ever fully recover from their individual experiences. All they could do was move on.

Hennings turned to the woman at his side. “I don’t think you’ve met my wife, Pamela. Pam, this is Marshal Brent Thompson. He was the marshal.”

She smiled and—yep—he was looking at Penny in twenty-five years.

“I know,” Mrs. Hennings said. She stepped forward and gripped both of his arms. “Thank you.”

The gesture, so direct and heartfelt, caught him sideways and he stiffened. Freak that he was he’d never gotten comfortable with strange women touching him. Most guys would love it. Brent? He liked his space being his.

But he stood there, allowing Penny’s mother to thank him in probably the only way she knew how. He could go on about how he’d just been doing his job, which was all true, but even he understood that he’d worked a little harder for Penny. She reminded him too much of his younger sister, Camille, and he hadn’t been able to help himself. “You’re welcome. Your daughter has become a good friend. And if I ever need legal advice, I know who to call.”

Mrs. Hennings laughed.

Mr. Hennings swooped his finger in the air. “You’re not working tonight?”

“No, sir. Judge Kline is a friend.”

“How nice,” Mrs. Hennings said.

“Yes, ma’am. I worked with her for two years. She would always tell me if my tie didn’t match. That happened a lot.”

“As the mother of two sons, I’m sure your mother appreciates that.”

Mother.

Mr. Hennings cleared his throat and, in Brent’s mind, the room fell silent. He glanced around, looking for…what? Confirmation that the room at large wasn’t listening to his conversation?

Maybe.

All around people gabbed and mingled and pretty much ignored Brent. Imagined it. He exhaled and once again the orchestra music—something classical—replaced the fog in his brain.

He’d fielded comments about his mother almost his entire life. It should have been easier by now.

Except for the nagging.

Twenty-three years of gut-twisting, anger-fueled obsession that kept him prisoner. “My mother died when I was seven, ma’am.”

Social pro that she must have been, considering her husband’s wizardry with the press, Mrs. Hennings barely reacted. “I’m so sorry.” She turned to Gerald, shooting him the stink-eye. “I didn’t know.”

Moments like these, a guy had to step up and help his brother-in-arms. “No need to apologize. I think about her every day.” And knowing how this conversation would go, the curiosity that came with why and how such a young woman had died, Brent let it fly. “She was murdered.”

Social pro or not, Mrs. Hennings gasped. “How horrible.”

Brent sipped his club soda, gave the room another glance and came back to Mrs. Hennings. “My sister and I adjusted. We have a supportive family.”

“I hope they caught the person who did this.”

“No ma’am. It’s still an open case.”

A case that lived and breathed with him and had driven him into law enforcement. If the Carlisle sheriff’s office couldn’t find his mother’s killer, he’d do it himself.

“Are the police still looking into it?”

Brent shrugged. “If they get a tip or some new information. I work it on my downtime, but downtime is short.”

Mrs. Hennings, obviously still embarrassed by bringing up the subject of his dead mother, turned to her husband. “Can’t one of your investigators help? You do all sorts of pro bono work for clients. Why not this?”

“Pam, those are cases where we’re defending people. This is different.”

Brent held up his hand As much as he’d like help, he didn’t want a domestic war started over it. “Mrs. Hennings, it’s okay. But thank you.”

Still, down deep, Brent wanted to find the person who’d wrecked his family and had saddled him with a level of responsibility—and guilt—no seven-year-old should have known. Every day, the questions haunted him. Could he have helped her? Should he have done something when he first heard noise? Was he a crummy investigator because all these years later he still couldn’t give his mother justice?

At this point, if he couldn’t find this monster on his own, he’d take whatever help available. Ego aside, justice for his mother was what mattered.

Mrs. Hennings kept her gaze on her husband. “You were just complaining that Jenna is bored with her current assignments. After what Brent did for Penny, give Jenna his mother’s case to investigate. It’ll challenge her and keep her out of your hair. Where’s the problem?”

Hennings pressed his lips together and a minuscule, seriously minuscule, part of Brent pitied the man. If he didn’t agree with his wife, his life would be a pile of manure.

Mrs. Hennings shot her husband a meat cleaver of a look, then turned back to Brent. “My husband will call you about this tomorrow. How’s that?”

With limited options, and being more than a little afraid to argue because, hey, he was no dummy either, he grinned at Mr. Hennings. “That’d be great. Thank you.”

*

Jenna slid onto one of the worn black vinyl bar stools at Freddie’s Tap House, a mostly empty shot-and-a-beer joint on the North Side of Chicago.

How the place stayed in business, she had no idea. On this Wednesday night the sports bar down the block was packed, while the only people patronizing Freddie’s were an elderly man sitting at the bar and a couple huddled at a table in the back.

The bartender glanced down the bar at her and wandered over. “Evening. Get you something?”

You sure can.

“Whatever’s on tap. Thanks.”

He nodded and scooped a glass from behind the bar, pouring a draft as he eyed her black blazer and the plunging neckline on her cashmere sweater. “Haven’t seen you in here before. New in town?”

As much as she’d tried to dress down with jeans, she hadn’t been able to resist the sweater. When dealing with men, a little help from her feminine wiles—also known as her boobs—never hurt. “Nope. New in here though.”

“You look more Tiffany’s than Freddie’s.”

Already Jenna liked him. “Are you Freddie?”

“Junior.”

“Sorry?”

“Freddie Junior. My dad is Freddie. I took over when he retired.”

He slid the beer in front of Jenna. Once more she looked around, took in the polished, worn wood of the bar, the six tables along the wall and the line of empty bar stools.

“Slow night,” Freddie said.

Lucky me. She opened her purse, pulled out a fifty and set it on the bar. Next came the photo taken the week prior by a patron in this very bar. He glanced down at the fifty, then at the photo.

“I’m not a cop,” Jenna said. “I’m an investigator working for a law firm.”

“Okay.”

She pointed at the photo of two men with a woman in the background. Jenna needed to find that woman. “Have you seen her in here?”

He picked up the photo and studied it. “Yeah. Couple of times. When a woman like that walks into a beer joint, there’s generally a reason. Kinda like you.”

Figuring it was time to put her cleavage to work, Jenna inched forward, gave him a view of the girls beneath that V-neck and smiled. Most women would love the idea that a fifteen-pound weight gain had gone straight to their chest. Jenna supposed it hadn’t hurt her ability to claw information from men—and maybe she used it to her advantage. But she also wanted to be recognized for extracting the information and not for the way she’d done it.

Did that even make sense? She wasn’t sure anymore. All she knew was her need for positive reinforcement had led her to using her looks to achieve her goals. That meant wearing clingy, revealing clothing. Such a cliché. But the thing about clichés was they worked.

“Any idea what her reason for being here was?”

Freddie took the boob-bait and leaned in. “No. Both times she met someone. Why?”

All Jenna could hope was he’d gotten the woman’s name. “My client is being held on a robbery charge. He says he was in here the night of the robbery and he met this woman. Her name is Robin.”

“Where’d you get the picture?”

“Friends of my client.”

He dropped the picture on the bar and tapped it. “Birthday party, right?”

“Yes. My client and six of his friends. Any idea where I can find her?”

“Nah.”

“Did she pay by credit card?”

If she paid by credit card, there would be a record of the transaction, and Jenna would dig into the Hennings & Solomon coffers and pay Freddie a highly negotiated sum for a look at his credit card receipts. From there, she’d get a name and two calls later would have an address for Robin-the-mystery-woman.

“Cash.”

Shoot.

Freddie may have been lying. Jenna studied him, took in his direct gaze. Not lying. At least she didn’t think so. Again with the wavering? Didn’t she have a good sense about these things? Yes, she did. For that reason she’d go with the theory that Freddie seemed to be a small-business owner who wanted to stay out of trouble while trying to make a living. She dug her card and a pen out of her purse, wrote her cell number on the card and placed it next to the fifty on the bar.

“How about I leave you my card? If she comes in again and you call me, there’s a hundred bucks in it for you.”

Freddie glanced at the card. After a moment, he half shrugged. “Sure. If I see her.”

Jenna took one last sip of her beer, slid off the stool and hitched her purse onto her shoulder. “Thanks.” She nodded toward the fifty. “Keep the change.”

Buy: The Marshal (Harlequin Intrigue)

* * *

Giordano Author PhotoAbout the Author

USA Today bestselling author Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and mystery.  She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction.

Connect with Adrienne:  Website / Newsletter / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Street Team

* * *

GIVEAWAY

Tour-wide giveaway includes a $25.00 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, a swag pack, and a custom handmade ceramic mug which the winner gets to design! Fill out the Rafflecopter Form to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour Stops

You can follow the tour to learn more about the book and author through interviews and reviews! Just click on the link or button below.

http://www.adriennegiordano.com/appearances

Audio Review: Sylvester by Georgette Heyer

sylvesterHeroine: Phoebe Marlow has a good head on her shoulders and sees the ton’s foibles for what they are. She’s also an aspiring writer who just finished penning a marvelous Gothic romance with cameos of different persons in the ton. She makes her bad guy the insufferable Duke of Salford and unwittingly creates his fictional character with a background very close to the real Sylvester. When Sylvester makes a good impression on her after the book is sent to the publishers, she’s desperate to change it but it’s too late!

Hero: Sylvester, the Duke of Salford, doesn’t remember meeting Phoebe the first time. He’s always prided himself on upholding the title with pride and dignity. To treat anyone ill is beneath him and his station. He decides the best way to get back at Phoebe for her slander is to marry the girl, but he goes about it all wrong and botches everything.

Review: In some respects you could say Sylvester is like Mr. Darcy, but they are not exact copies. Loved Sylvester’s nickname for Phoebe, “sparrow.” Super cute. I love a great nickname. I also liked the dynamics of the story. You have several side characters who add to the story’s tapestry and orchestrate all kinds of shenanigans from an ill-behaved nephew, a spoiled woman who wants the attention from being a pitiable mother without having to mother, a man as pompous as he is wealthy, and a platonic male friend who tries to do right but ends up making a mess of things because he lacks the savvy Sylvester was born with. Overall very enjoyable.

Narrator: Nicholas Rowe has a nice smooth voice. The recording is a little soft and I had to listen to it at higher volume than I normally would, but Rowe himself was great. He had a good cadence with the book and made Heyer’s novel entertaining and engaging.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Sylvester: or The Wicked Uncle, Sylvester: Or, the Wicked Uncle (audio book)

Get into Bed with Leigh Greenwood (Author Interview)

to love and to cherishKeira: Laurie Spencer, the heroine of To Love and to Cherish, feels trapped by her life and particularly by her family. If you were her best friend, what would you tell her?  

Leigh Greenwood: My first impulse would be to tell her to leave her husband, but women on the frontier had few rights and fewer chances for legal support.  Since her parents wouldn’t support her, she would need the support of other family members.  Still, she was a young and beautiful woman.  I would say her chances of finding a caring husband were very good.

Keira: What advice would you give to Jared Smith, the hero of the story, if you were his best friend?  

Leigh: Figure out the money as best he could, but don’t take a chance on losing Laurie.

Keira: What’s your perception of the genre as a male author writing romance? How did you come to write in this genre?

Leigh: I think it’s a wonderful genre and don’t see why so many people look down on it.  That we have excellent writers is proved by their presence on the bestsellers lists.  They can write anything from character-driven stories to action/adventure and science fiction/futuristic.  I think many people are too afraid of their emotions to be able to appreciate romance.  I write romance because I enjoy the interaction between characters that leads to a happy ending.  I also like cowboys and children so it all works together to create a story that, regardless of the setting, can be pertinent to modern situations.

Keira: What’s your favorite part about writing about cowboys and cowgirls and the West?

Leigh: I like the chance to include the kind of action and adventure that you can’t put in most present-day settings.

Keira: How do you define love? How can someone recognize their soul mate / true love?  

Leigh: There really is no answer to that question because it’s different for every couple.  It even changes when a person finds a new partner because no two people are the same.  What they bring to the relationship and what they need from it will be different.  The best I can offer is that being with that one person makes you happy, fulfilled, content, so much so you’re willing to work your butt of to keep it.

Keira: If you could travel anywhere and in any time period, where would you go and why?  

Leigh: It would be hard to choose between ancient Greece and ancient Rome.  I’ve always been fascinated by ancient civilizations.  These two made enormous contributions to our modern world.

Keira: What can we expect from you next?  

Leigh: I have two more books in the Cactus Creek series that will disclose the secret that caused the town to pick up and move west.

To Love and to Cherish by Leigh Greenwood

Torn Between a Desire to be Free…

When Laurie Spencer said “I do”, she never realized she’d be trading one pair of shackles for another—until her husband’s unexpected death leaves her with an opportunity to escape her controlling family for good. Determined to be independent, Laurie approaches sexy rancher Jared Smith with an offer she hopes he can’t refuse…

And a Longing to be His…

Jared’s determined to make it in Texas, but with the local banker turned against him, it looks like his dream may be slipping through his fingers. When unconsciously sensual Laurie offers a partnership, his luck may be changing…but when she throws herself in as part of the deal, Jared’s not sure he’ll be able to respect the terms of their agreement and keep his eyes—and his hands—to himself.

There’s something about Laurie that awakens every protective instinct Jared has…and when all hell breaks loose, there’s nothing and no one who’ll be able to keep this cowboy from her side.

Buy: To Love and to Cherish (Cactus Creek Cowboys Book 2)

Leigh Greenwood is the USA Today bestselling author of the popular Seven Brides, Cowboys, and Night Riders series. The proud father of three grown children, Leigh resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. He never intended to be a writer, but he found it hard to ignore the people in his head, and the only way to get them out was to write. Visit him at www.leigh-greenwood.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Audio Review: Snow Falling on Bluegrass (Bluegrass, Book 3) by Molly Harper

molly harper snow falling bluegrassSummary: Snowed-in at a lodge on a work retreat, Kelsey will not only have to organize her work colleagues, but also her love life. First Darrell, her ex, makes her life miserable by handing her credit card debt she didn’t sign up for or enjoy. Then the cute statistician at the office, Charlie, flashes hot and cold with her. Is he interested or not? And then there’s Luke, who is running the lodge in the absence of other employees and he’s a Ranger. He’s definitely interested in her. Maybe being snowed-in isn’t such a disaster after all!

Review: Molly Harper is funny, which is no surprise as she’s a former humor columnist. It’s even funnier to hear the narrator, Amanda Ronconi, say and act some of these lines. Kelsey is a smart, funny, high energy person. She’s got a sense of humor and is willing to crack jokes at herself. You have to wonder how a girl like her stuck it out with Darrell for as long as she did. Molly does explain and it is plausible but the backstory made me feel more like I was missing a key element than filling in the blanks. Perhaps this was more readily apparent in a previous book in the series. Both of Kelsey’s crushes are good guys. I would happily see her wind up with either one of them, which is very rare for me to say so. And I would definitely read about the one who didn’t win Kelsey’s heart.

Narrator: I recently listened to Amanda Ronconi in another audio book. She did a great job then and she did a great job this time. When I first heard her speak I couldn’t place the previous audio book I had heard her narrate. I think that means she did an excellent job adapting to the character profiles and accents. I’d listen to her again. She’s definitely a great listen for contemporary romances.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Snow Falling on Bluegrass, Snow Falling on Bluegrass (Audiobook)

Review: The Reluctant Elf by Michele Gorman

reluctant elfHeroine: Lottie and her daughter, Mabel, are planning to visit Aunt Kate this Christmas because Aunt Kate is starting a bed and breakfast (B&B) business. When Kate is hospitalized, Lottie and Mabel leave a day early for their Christmas vacation. The B&B is in dire straights, so are Aunt Kate’s finances, and the help just absconded for a break to recuperate. Everything hinges on getting a good rating from the reviewer. But Lottie hasn’t the foggiest clue what to do to run a successful B&B.

Hero: Danny, the taxi driver, is an unlikely but most definitely needed hero. When Lottie offers him enough money to fund a trip to see his young daughter in America, he agrees to aid her in anyway he can. He helps paint, fix, repair, clean, and cook. And along the way the two find they have an affinity for each other.

Review: The B&B reviewer and his family are seriously dysfunctional. I am very glad that the creepy brother/in-law doesn’t barge in on Lottie in the bath. He was a very ignorant self-absorbed cad. His wife was a hypochondriac and couldn’t stand her children. The two kids were terrors. I’d be afraid for Mabel to hang out with them. The only one sane was the reviewer. Are you up for some crazy hijinks involving scolding plumbing, falling down ceilings, holes patched with toothpaste? Then you’re in for a treat with this wifi-less Victorian-themed holiday chick-lit. Happy ending for all. There’s definitely room for continuation.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Reluctant Elf

Review: Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon (Billionaire Romance, Book 2) by Jennifer St. George

tempted by the billionaire tycoonSummary: Nic Capitini is about to take his luxury spa resort company public. He needs the launch to be successful not just for business but because he plans to use its success to prove to his mother and sister they can rely on him to be strong enough to protect them from his father (a ruthless man who runs the island Nic is from with casinos and prostitutes.)

The only fly in his ointment is the poor showing of his English spa where a series of strange incidents spells certain failure for his launch. He goes undercover to ferret out the resort’s manager and fire her for poor performance. Only Nic has a hard time finding anything wrong that Poppy Bradford. Everything he could complain about she fixes or has a reason for doing (like ensuring the safety of the guests). He finds himself falling for her instead.

Review: A quick and fun read. There are a lot of suspects who could be behind the sabotages at the Sirona resort. Is it the manager? The assistant manager? An employee who was fired for drugs? A male client stalking the manager? I like Poppy who was capable and strong. She was a smart manager and was doing everything she could think of to make the resort a success and minimize future incidents. She even figures out Nic quick enough and calls him on it. She proposes a deal – let her prove she’s worth not only keeping but promoting and he takes her up on it. The dialogue was fun and snappy. I had a few concerns about her sister’s sudden turn around in behavior but it didn’t pan out to be anything.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon: Billionaire Romance Book 2