GIVEAWAY + Review: Big Sky Mountain (Swoon-Worthy Cowboys, Book 2) by Linda Lael Miller

big sky mountain linda lael millerHeroine: Kendra Shepherd is divorced and caring for her young adopted daughter. Once upon a time Hutch broke her heart and she’s now afraid he’s going to do it again, but this time it’s not only her heart in jeopardy, but her daughter’s too.

Hero: Hutch Carmody is about to get married to the wrong woman. Apparently the golden boy of Parable, Montana, can actually do wrong and does when he leaves her at the altar. The female populace is furious on his jilted bride’s behalf… and Kendra thinks this is a sign he is still a playboy.

Series: Big Sky Country is the first book in the trilogy and contains background information on the Carmody brothers: Hutch and Slade. In Big Sky Country, Slade inherits half of Whisper Creek Ranch, which is unexpected because Slade is the illegitimate half-brother of Hutch.

Review: Hutch was a bad-boy and a jerk in the first book, but in his book, Hutch is a really loveable hero. His interactions with four-year-old Madison were super cute. She calls him “Cowboy-man.” Who can resist a guy who buys a little girl a pony? Madison came across smarter than a four-year-old at times, which is probably my only caveat to the story. It was good to see the relationship between Slade and Hutch mend and heal.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Big Sky Mountain, Big Sky Country

Excerpt:

Except for bankers and lawyers, few men in rural Montana wore suits on a regular basis—such get-ups were reserved for Sunday services, funerals and…weddings, ill-fated or otherwise.

Opal, for her part, kept murmuring to herself and shaking her head as she began measuring out flour and lard for a batch of her world-class biscuits. “Landsakes,” she muttered repeatedly, along with, “Well, I never, in all my live-long days—”

Joslyn laid her hands on her bulging stomach and sighed. “I swear this baby is practicing to be a rodeo star. It feels as though he’s riding a bull in there.”

Kendra laughed softly, partly at the image her friend had painted and partly as a way to relieve the dizzying tension brought on by Shea’s breathless announcement. Hutch called the whole thing off. He stopped the wedding.

“The least you could do,” she teased Joslyn, trying to get a grip on her crazy emotions, “is go into labor already and let the little guy get a start on his cowboy career.”

Buy: Big Sky Mountain

GIVEAWAY: I have one paperback copy of Big Sky Mountain up for grabs. Open to US/Canada. Enter by leaving a comment about why you love cowboys, westerns, or why you love Linda Lael Miller! Last day to enter: August 25, 2012. good luck!

Follow along on the blog tour: http://booktrib.com/booktrib-blog-tour-nyt-bestselling-author-linda-lael-millers-big-sky-mountain/.

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Review: Blazing Bedtime Stories, Volume VII

blazing bedtime storiesThe Steadfast Hot Soldier by Rhonda Nelson

Army Ranger Tucker “Bear” Midwinter is back in town to help his mother repair her ballet studio/flat so the new owner can move in as soon as possible. He thinks it might mean some long overdue bonding time, but his mother has other plans and is heading to Paris just as he arrives. Figures. It’s always been about her and how he’s ruined her life.

The new owner is Veda Hayes, an old student of his mother’s, aka Tiny Dancer. When he left for college she hadn’t been grown, but now she’s grown up in all the right places. She does things to Bear’s emotions he’s never experienced before and reminds him why petite women and dancers should be off limits.

My Take: This is one very sexy short story and adorable too at turns. My favorite scenes were when the two swam in the creek, when Bear had dinner at her parents house, and when/where he proposes. Bear is totally sexy. May I have an army ranger too? Pretty please? :)

Wild Thing by Tawny Weber

Percy loses his cool when the girl of his dreams walks out after an earth shattering night together. He tries to tell himself the way he remembers is better than it was, but who is he kidding? It’s better. To win her and keep her, he’s going to have to figure out what made her ran the first time.

Then the ugliest dog in the world has been kidnapped and it’s up to the dog groomer and her detective to rescue the pampered Chinese Crested. If they don’t Percy Graham will miss his payday (something he needs to get over his losing streak) and miss his flight for a well deserved vacation; Andrea Tanner will lose Fur’sace to a rival business owner.

If they figure out who is behind the dognapping they will be able to prevent any future attempts on the canine. Is it Gregory Day, the man who hired Percy to pick the dog up from the groomer’s, Gregory’s ex-wife, or Andrea’s business rival?

My Take: Totally yummy! Andrea is a kicking heroine who is smart enough to watch her back and take precautions, but has a tender streak and a tender heart. Percy is the typical playboy who doesn’t know what to do with himself when the girl doesn’t return his interest. So he proposes a way back into her bed while getting the little dog too. Percy is a very enjoyable hero. I like his inner monologue a lot.

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Blazing Bedtime Stories, Volume VII: The Steadfast Hot Soldier\Wild Thing: 7 (Harlequin Blaze)

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Review: If Wishes Were Husbands by Elizabeth Kyne

If Wishes Were HusbandsReviewed by Karin of Savvy Thinker

I really enjoyed this book.

The story: Rachel is tired of being unmarried. While all her friends can tell horror stories about their men, she has nothing to say, so when her new hairdresser asks if she is married, she spins a story about the perfect man she is married to.

And then when she meets her friend for a drink, she spins the same story to the new women she meets, even as her friend challenges her about the story in privacy. Rachel says she will put them straight, the next time she meets them.

And then…

Imagine her surprise when she goes home and finds the man of her dreams, the one she has spun lies about, ensconced in her apartment, having prepared the gourmet meal she had said he prepares, with a perfect body, perfect sex, perfect everything.

And because she doesn’t remember how they got to that point, he re-proposes to her and tells her about their marriage, and…

But honestly, perfect is not what it is cracked up to be.

Even perfectly perfect in all his ways, after all she did make him up, ends up driving her mad.

The ending: Well, I won’t give it away. It ends differently than I thought, and perhaps my ending would have been better – and I suspect you could propose several endings yourself. But it is satisfying and wraps up some of the loose ends, while giving me other questions, which perhaps if I had read slower, I might have caught – or not. Perhaps the ends are not wrapped up tightly.

This book is delightfully funny, wry, interesting, witty…with good friends…with a mother going through her own mid-life crisis – funny in itself.

You would enjoy it. Part fantasy, part reality, a little bit of everything.

Buy: If Wishes Were Husbands

Review: The Guardian by Margaret Mallory

Summary: Ian MacDonald was one of four boys who sought a prophecy from the clan witch. She told them all about the women they were going to marry, what a joke! They wanted to know about the glories of their future battles. Ian was told he’d marry twice: once in anger and once in love.

On the trip back from meeting the woman of his dreams, he finds a 13 year old Sìleas escaping from her keep to run away. He takes her with him and they’re caught sharing a bedroll and forced to marry. Ian is not just mad, he’s furious!

The day after the wedding he runs off with his three friends and doesn’t come back for five years. When he does, he plans to end the marriage, but then he sees his wife. It’s clear she is no longer the awkward girl she was, but a beautiful woman and the pride and joy of his family. The trouble is, she wants nothing to do with him!

Review: This second chance romance features a very strong and likable heroine. She has had to endure much while waiting for Ian to wise up to what a great catch he’s got in her. Her love has been unrequited for so long she can’t really see Ian coming around and winds up making a supremely stupid mistake as part of the angst section of the plot and what’s worse is aided by someone who really ought to have known better too. Luckily for them both Ian is more than capable of pulling the two out of the situation with minimal damage. You’ll swoon when he sneaks into their bedchamber that first time *g*. On the series/trilogy side, I’m pleased to say that all of the male leads who are getting a romance of their own are very worthy guys. You’ll want to root for them too.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Guardian (Return of the Highlanders)

PS – As a complete side note how do you pronounce the heroine’s name? I’ve been pronouncing it something like: SIGH-Lee-uz

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Review: How to Marry a Rake by Deb Marlowe

how to marry a rakeHow To Marry a Rake is a spin-off from The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor.

Back story: Mae loved Stephen and followed after him as often as she could. He never pushed her away, reveling in her attention. Then she manipulates him into a kiss and he tramples on her infatuation with a sharp rejection. The next day she and her parents set sail for Europe.

Hero: Lord Stephen Manning is determined to make a success of his brand new racecourse Fincote Park.  To do that he’s got to get a race set up to inspire the racing community to travel far and wide to come. He thinks he can get that match with Earl of Ryeton’s horse, an unbeatable race champion, Pratchett.  The last thing he needs is an encounter with a girl from his past.

Heroine: With a newly mended heart, heiress Mae Halford returns from Europe ready to face the ton and make a splash. It’s only a matter of time before her father marries her off to the first gentleman to ask for her hand so she’s made a plan. She’s going to find her own husband and she’s going to do it the only way she knows how, by being someone else… at least at the start, so she doesn’t scare them away like Stephen.

Second chance: Stephen requires Mae’s help to find a stolen horse. They strike a bargain. Her help collecting gossip and leads from places Stephen can’t get at for his help finding her a husband and eliminating the gentlemen who wouldn’t like and/or fit her.

Review: How To Marry a Rake is a fun, flirty, fantastic read! There’s a second chance romance, a hero who realizes his own flaws, a mystery involving a stolen horse, and characters you can root for. If you love regency romances, don’t miss out on this one.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: How To Marry a Rake

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Review: Just for the Night by Tawny Weber

Heroine: Larissa Zahn has been busy since she broke up with Jason Cantrell two years ago. From the growth of a romance novel blog she’s become an authority on romance with a column about the Rules of Romance. Her dream is to open Isn’t it Romantic a store for romance in the Cartwright Hotel specialty Mall. The promo package with the vendor is worth its weight in gold and the location perfect. There’s just one problem…

Hero: Jason Cantrell is also going for the same space. He’s pitching Can-Do Adventure, a travel agency he started with his brother, geared toward adventure seekers. To make their company fit the specialty mall they’re putting together couple packages at steep discounts. It’s a shoe-in… until he realizes he’s not meeting Daniel Cartwright but Connor, the guy Larissa cheated on him with.

Review: Tawny Weber delivers a tight story which takes place over 24 hours. It works because the two characters had a previous relationship with each other. They delve into their past while trying to figure out their present. Neither can run away from the other when a convenient lock down of the mall during a power blackout give the two time in close proximity that they need to do this.

There was some repetitive dialogue that kept circling old issues instead of solving them but the sexual tension was right on, and the sex was hot. In the end, Cartwright Hotels is lucky Larissa and Jason didn’t pull out and leave them in a rut for contriving to force them together. Which company do you think was a better fit for the mall?

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Just for the Night

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Get into Bed with Lisa Dale (Author Interview)

Keira: Tell us about your newest release, Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier!

Lisa Dale: I’m so excited about this book! Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier was named a TOP PICK for Barnes & Noble, and the romance of the month for BookPage magazine. Can’t ask for better than that!

Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier is a “second chance” love story. The hero and the heroine were in love with each other in high school, but then something went wrong. Very wrong. In high school, it looked like they were meant to be together forever. But when the book opens, we learn that the heroine is in the middle of a complicated divorce (she didn’t marry the hero). I don’t want to give away everything!

I really wanted readers to get a lot of bang for their buck in this story. So there are two love stories—the story of when the hero and heroine fall in love as teens, and then –running parallel—the story of when they fall in love again as adults. It’s a two-for-one!

Keira: What is your favorite time of day or place to write?

Lisa: Actually, I write in bed! I have a very lovely desk with a nice printer and lighting that I use for work that’s related to writing but is not actually writing. But then, when it’s time to write, I go away from all that work stuff and just go write. Curtains drawn. Door shut. No distractions. I like to be alone with my characters, to really listen to them!

Keira: What advice do you have for new writers?

Lisa: There are really just three things that I think are important. First, reading. Without reading, it’s like a writer is asking to be put on the Olympic hockey team having only seen one or two hockey games. Crazy, right? Second, find good mentors. I was lucky to get into a good MFA program and meet incredible teachers who boosted my technique and my confidence. I have good mentors within the industry as well—people I turn to when I don’t have the answer. Third—and this seems counterintuitive to points one and two—nobody can teach you how to write but you. The writing life is a life of self-inquiry. No one can do more for you than what you can do for yourself.

Keira: Any vacation plans this summer?

Lisa: Yes! I’m getting married on July 2, and my fiancé and I are going to San Francisco. It’s a funny story. I saw a program about a farm-to-table restaurant that I was dying to go to in Napa. I mean—I’ve never wanted to go to a restaurant in my life as much as I wanted to go to this one. It felt…(don’t laugh) cosmic. (Okay you can laugh a little). Anyway, I thought, what are the chances that I’ll be able to get out to California to go to a restaurant? Who does that? Then—totally unrelated and out of the blue, two days after I discover the restaurant—Matt said, “I can get free tickets to California. Wanna go?” Mind-blowing how the world works sometimes!

Keira: What’s down the pipeline for you?

Lisa: For now, I’m just working hard to get the word about Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier out there. My new book, A Promise of Safekeeping, comes out in January. I’m excited to share it. It’s a story that’s both romantic and important. The heroine is a lawyer who inadvertently sent an innocent man to prison for ten years. The hero is an antiques dealer in Richmond, Virginia, who has a crippling secret that keeps him from getting into any kind of serious relationship with women. It should be a good one!

Keira: Where can readers keep in touch with you?

Lisa: I love hearing from readers—whether they’re my fan or just fellow book worms who like to talk books! Come chill with me on my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lisa-Dale/158780257466338) or join the conversation on my blog, where I regularly give away prizes to readers (http://lisadalebooks.com/blog/).

Thanks so much for having me!

Buy: Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier

Review: My One and Only by Kristan Higgins

Heroine: Harper James is a divorce attorney and good at her job. She knows odds are stacked against couples and can see the discrepancies that the people in the relationship avoid until it’s too late. She’s living proof not all relationships built on love can last. When her younger stepsister, Willa, calls out of the blue during Harper’s botched proposal to longtime boyfriend Dennis to announce she’s marrying Harper’s ex-husband’s half brother, Harper senses blood in the water. The relationship can only be doomed and she’s determined to get Willa to see the error of her ways before it’s too late.

Hero: Successful architect Nick Lowery loves his half brother and wants to see the marriage work between Willa and Chris. He thinks Harper is too cynical. It’s her greatest fault. He blames her for their failed marriage and in equal parts hates and loves her. He’s not sure he can ever forgive her, but when a snafu with the airlines downs all the planes at all of the Midwest small town airports, he offers to drive her to a big city to catch a plane. Will time spent together help them untangle the twisted heap of their failed marriage and rekindle their passion for each other? You bet!

Other Guy: Dennis is a thirty year old firefighter who plays too much video games, calls Harper dude all the time, and is still basically a boy in many respects. He lives in an over the garage apartment, drives a crappy junker, and wears his long hair in a rattail. Sex might be good, and he might give Harper the control she craves, but a relationship with Dennis means always taking care of him. They break up at Willa’s destination wedding and the path seems clear that Harper will end up with Nick, but wait – there’s more!

Review: This sweet, snarky, chaste second chance at love is a keeper. The heroine’s issues with abandonment are a large part of the novel and are gently dealt with to reach a hug-the-book-happy-ending. You’ll root for Harper (who does well in getting Nick to finally admit he also had a hand in their failed marriage), wish you could spend time in the hero’s head (though Nick’s feelings are pretty upfront), sigh at the hot sexual tension between the two, and laugh at all the antics of Coco the dog. Definitely one of my favorites for 2011!

Favorite Scene: I like a bunch of tiny moments – when Nick and Harper first kiss after all their years estranged, Nick’s reaction when Harper walks out of the airport, Nick’s groveling to get her to stay, and Harper’s repeated crapolas as things begin to pile up rapidly at the end.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: My One and Only

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