Review: In Your Dreams (Blue Heron, Book 4) by Kristan Higgins

in your dreamsReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Emmaline Neal is a police officer in Manningsport New York.  She has an extracurricular activity that most women don’t do.  Jack Holland puts on a brave face but he has some personal demons he has to deal with.  Right from the start this author will have you laughing and if you’re having a bad day, or even a bad week, this is a great pick-me-up.

As the story begins there are circumstances that will have you feeling sorry for these two.  Even though Em has a job most of us wouldn’t have, this author has made her a woman that you can identify with.  There’s a couples bonding scene that had me wishing I were an actual spectator.  And then the scene ends with me laughing – sorry I just couldn’t help myself.

Our author shows her readers how some of the “beautiful” people can be so self-absorbed.  She also shows how cruel people can be toward those that are “different”.  This would be a perfect book to read while you sit by a fire – jealous – having a mulled wine or cider along with your favorite throw or animal.  One thing I loved about this story is that the author didn’t create one picture perfect character.  It made them more believable and some more relatable.  There are even some readers who may also be able to identify with a few of them.  Jack is what might be called brooding and not everyone will like his character but that just adds to his persona.

This is a series that each book could probably be read on their own but it’s my hope that you are reading them in order.  It’s a town you will fall in love with and wish you could visit while on vacation.  If you do find that place and take reading material with you, make sure to take this series along for the ride.  It will be interesting to see if we get another look into the lives of the residents of Manningsport – I certainly look forward to finding out.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: In Your Dreams (The Blue Heron Series)

Review: Catch of The Day by Carla Caruso

Catch of The Day by Carla CarusoReviewed by Fleur, of A Daily Romance

Glamorous but flawed Winnie Cherry is exiled to small town Australia for work, following an imbroglio involving a senior staff member. Upon immediately entering the local area, our heroine has an accidental run-in with worldly local hunk Alex Bass. As superficial as this sounds, readers may fall in love with Alex before he even opens his mouth.

Excerpt:

Woah. The sunnies were up and she sucked in her breath. He was actually quite dreamy-looking, if you liked rugged seafaring types. Up close, he had ocean-green eyes, an aqualine nose and just the right amount of sexy stubble. His fair hair looked artfully tousled, a style that would take Sydney pretty-boys hours to perfect with texturising sea-salt spray, but was no doubt au naturel. His biceps, straining beneath the polo fabric, looked like they could bench press the Big Lobster any day.

Winnie’s tumultuous beginnings with Alex, sets the stage for many more contretemps and some fiery dialogue. Not only is the sexual tension between the two protagonists enthralling, but the insight into small town living is really interesting and makes for a great story. The side characters are real characters, in some cases a bit odd if not dysfunctional. The story is also littered with quirky details, like reference to slogans on the coffee mugs in the office, “wake up smarter, sleep with a mortgage broker.”

While providing a contrast between town and country life, Catch of the Day explores issues that women in their late 20s and early 30s often ask themselves, is life in the fast lane all it’s cracked up to be? Are my relationships meaningful? What do I really want out of life?

This book is hilarious and if you liked reading Bridget Jones’s Diary then you will probably love this book.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Catch of The Day: Destiny Romance

Get into Bed with Linda Miller (Author Interview)

Miller_Linda Lael_09Keira: Do you write every day? Do you have a writing routine?

Linda Miller: Yes, mostly.  I write five days a week, from about 9 am., stopping at 1 or 2 pm because by then my brain starts turning to jelly.  I am definitely a morning person.  Sometimes, when a deadline is pressing hard, I’ll put in longer hours and work weekends, but mostly I avoid that.  I need time to refill the well by reading, doing art, puttering in the yard and playing with the pets.

Keira: If you could go back 15 or 20 years ago and give yourself one piece of writerly advice, what would it be?

Linda: I LOVE this question—I don’t think I’ve ever been asked this one before.  I’d tell myself to chill out, relax, and not take myself so seriously, to go with the flow and to avoid comparing myself to other writers at all costs.

Keira: Big Sky Secrets has a fair share of family drama and a lot of family secrets and family history comes to light throughout the course of the book. Did you set out to write a book like this or did Ria and Landry’s stories just kind of come together?

Linda: I always start with a few characters and a situation.  I have a general idea how the story will play out as I begin, but my stories tend to evolve, often surprising me with the direction they take.  As I’d become acquainted with both Landry and Ria in “Big Sky Wedding”, I had a pretty good idea what they’d do in any given circumstance.

Keira: Big Sky Secrets is the last of the Big Sky novels. Why did you save Ria and Landry for last?

Linda: It just turned out that way.  Each of the Big Sky books grew from the one preceeding it–in essence, what we have here is one long story.  I love to create a community, people it with interesting characters, and just let things unfold as I write along.

Keira: There are some great teenage characters in Big Sky Secrets. How did you get into the teen mindset to write Quinn and Nash?

Linda: It’s been a long time since I was a teenager myself, and since I raised one, but I guess I still have an affinity for them.  They’re not children and not adults, either, and that presents them with specific challenges to meet and overcome.  Good stories are all about overcoming challenges, methinks.

Keira: Quinn’s stray dog Bones is as loveable as any fictional dog ever. You are known for your love of animals and working them into your books. Was there a particular dog that inspired Bones?

Linda: I love ALL dogs (plus cats, horses and every other kind of creature), especially those in need of a loving home.  When I write about animals, I’m hoping, deep down, that folks will be reminded to be kind to them–not that the vast majority of my readers need a reminder, because they love God’s creatures as much as I do.  Still, it’s a good thing to keep in mind–there’s no such thing as too much compassion.

Keira: Readers and reviewers have loved the Big Sky books and we know a lot of them will be sad to see the series come to an end. What’s next that we can be looking forward to?

Linda: I’ve already started a whole new “Marriage” series, set in a fictional Wyoming town called Mustang Creek in the present day–a town that happens to resemble Jackson Hole.    I recently traveled there to get my bearings, so to speak, and see what my characters will see.  The first book is called “The Marriage Pact”, and includes a sexy cowboy hero, Tripp Galloway, a smart, feisty heroine, Hadleigh Stevens, and at least two adopted dogs–Ridley and Muggles.  There’s no telling, though, what other four-leggers might turn up as the story goes on–like human characters, they tend to show up out of nowhere and demand to be part of it all.

BigSkySecrets_CoverBig Sky Secrets:

The “First Lady of the West,” #1 New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller delivers the stunning finale of her acclaimed series set in Parable, Montana—where love awaits

Self-made tycoon Landry Sutton heads to Hangman Bend’s Ranch to sell his land to his brother Zane. Though he’s got cowboy in his blood, Landry plans to return to city life before the dust even settles on his boots. Of course, he didn’t count on falling for Big Sky Country…or Ria Manning.

Ria’s starting to settle into country life herself…until she has a close encounter of the terrifying kind with a buffalo. Turns out the peeping monster belongs to the cowboy next door—and he has her running even more scared than his bison. She wants a home where the buffalo don’t roam, and the men don’t either. Could Landry’s homecoming be her heart’s undoing?

Buy: Big Sky Secrets

Creating a Book’s Playlist

Running the Red Light CoverGuest blog by Kelsey Browning, author of Running the Red Light (Texas Nights)

Yes, I’m one of those writers who listens to music while writing. It didn’t start out that way. When I first began writing, I needed total quiet. I’ve since learned that’s a pipe dream with two dogs, a 14-year-old, phones ringing, TV blaring, landscape guys mowing, construction down the street…You get the idea.

While I was doing content edits (always tough for me) for Running the Red Light, I needed to block everything out. So Smarty Boy gave me a pair of Bose headphones—dubbed “edit phones”—for Mother’s Day. Hallelujah! My brain now knows when I slip those puppies on and click on the playlist that it’s time to go to WORK!

I build my playlist as I draft the book and listen to it throughout the revision and editing process. Today, I’m sharing the songs on Running the Red Light’s (Texas Nights) playlist and the logic behind them!

  • Photograph” by Nickelback – Nickelback just gets guys’ issues, so I have at least one of their songs on each of my playlists. This one speaks to Jamie’s love/hate relationship with his hometown, Shelbyville, Texas.
  • Walk Like A Man” by Tim McGraw – This song is on both Jamie’s and his brother Cameron’s list. As the kids of an alcoholic, they could have walked in their father’s footsteps, but their mom encouraged them to become better men.
  • Find Out Who Your Friends Are” by Tracy Lawrence – Late in the book, this song is referenced in a scene at Dirty Harry’s bar while Roxanne is deciding whether Ashton Davenport is still a foe or is becoming a friend.
  • How Bad Do You Want It” by Tim McGraw – All his life, Jamie Wright has wanted to be a success. To make it. And he wants it bad. But he might find out he wants Roxanne even more.
  • Roxanne” by The Police – This one is pretty self-explanatory. Roxanne’s lingerie store is named after this classic.
  • Feelin’ Way Too Damn Good” by Nickelback – I chose this song both for the reference to the shower and the fact that both Jamie and Roxanne know their physical relationship may feel good, but neither of them plan for it to last.
  • Some Days You Gotta Dance” by The Dixie Chicks – Sometimes you just have to say screw it and act like everything is all right, which is how Roxanne pushes through her problems.
  • Angel Boy” by Tim McGraw – Jamie looks like a hot-shot, bad-ass attorney to other people, but only he knows about the doubts inside him.
  • Real World” by Big & Rich – Again, this song speaks to Jamie’s internal struggle between success and true happiness.
  • I’m Just Talkin’ About Tonight” by Toby Keith – Roxanne and Jamie’s relationship is supposed to be short-term only, but Jamie realizes he doesn’t just want tonight.
  • Jamie’s Cryin’ by Van Halen – I love me some old Van Halen, and this one directly relates to how Jamie is struggling with his messed up life and priorities!

If you notice, my playlist is always heavy on country music. That’s probably for two reasons. One, I was raised on classic country from artists like Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Don Williams, and George Jones. Two, I don’t think any other music genre tells a story quite like country does!

Do songs draw pictures in your head like they do mine? Can you “see” the song’s story?

Kelsey Browning - HeadshotKelsey Browning Bio:

Kelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories and cozy Southern mysteries. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog and Pharaoh, a Canine Companions for Independence puppy. She’s currently at work on the next book in her Texas Nights series and The Granny Series. Give her a shout at Kelsey@KelseyBrowning.com or drop by www.KelseyBrowning.com. For info on her upcoming releases, subscribe to her Sass Kickin’ News.

Social Media Links

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Email: Kelsey@KelseyBrowning.com

Running the Red Light

Release Date: January 6, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy
Format: e-book

After wearing a “Least Likely to Succeed” label all her life, Roxanne Eberly is hell-bent on making her Red Light Lingerie store successful. Although the residents of small-town Shelbyville, Texas, are a little…lingerie-resistant, she’ll win them over eventually. So when a former employer sues her, putting a major wrinkle in her careful plans, she reluctantly accepts help from hot-stuff Houston attorney Jamie Wright.

Jamie’s on track to become his firm’s youngest partner, but discovers an unwritten prerequisite—marriage. Turns out, the only woman he wants is Roxanne, but peddling thongs and sex toys isn’t a suitable career for the spouse of an up-and-coming attorney.

Jamie’s tangled up in Roxanne’s lawsuit, her life and her lingerie. But if they’re ever going to make it work, Roxanne’s big-city boy will have to decide what he values more: the career he always thought he wanted or the woman he never thought he’d fall for.

Buy: Running the Red Light (Texas Nights)

Review: It Had to Be You (Lucky Harbor, Book 7) by Jill Shalvis

it had to be youHeroine: Have you ever been broken up with by a text message? Well, Ali Winters sure has. When trying to give him a piece of her mind, she finds out her boyfriend, Teddy, has been cheating. When had they gone from being together to being roommates? Now he’s claiming she stole money from his office during a fundraising event and the whole town believes him. To top it all off, she’s about to be kicked out of her house, because the cheating louse of a boyfriend didn’t tell her the lease was up until it was too late.

Hero: Detective Lieutenant Luke Hanover returns to his hometown after a particularly nasty case with a three-ring media circus. He’s going to use the downtime to fix up his house and discovers Ali Winters naked inside. What’s going on and why is this female in his home? She’s an interloper! When she tells him what is going on, he finds himself doing the one thing he was certain he wasn’t going to do – investigate. But he can’t not help!

Review: Luke is a great alpha hero – he’s a gogetter, tough, strong, kind, and tender. He plays the role without being an overbearing blockhead in the process. Ali is also tough. For a gal that was dumped, homeless, losing a job, and about to be arrested for something she didn’t do, she kept herself pretty together. She didn’t give up even when she was feeling really down. And when it gets to be too much, Luke is there to pick her up. For two people who see the end coming before they start, they find they can’t help themselves. Then they find they are both willing to do what it takes to make it stick. Hot!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: It Had to Be You (Lucky Harbor)

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Review: Maid for Love (The McCarthys of Gansett Island, Book 1) by Marie Force

Marie ForceHeroine: Maddie is a single mother, scraping to get by as a maid at the McCarthy’s hotel. She’s given all the crap jobs because of her reputation as a slut. The reputation is totally unearned. The one time she had sex she got pregnant. It’s all because of her endowments in certain areas. Boys in high school were cruel and the girls were jealous. Small town life and gossip sucks a big one, but what is a girl to do? She can’t save enough to leave.

Hero: The McCarthy golden boys are rich, sexy, athletic, and excel at all they touch. Mac is so successful he is stressing out and over-committing himself to his business interests. When his girlfriend dumps him, and his doctor tells him to take a vacation, Mac packs up and heads back to Gansett Island and his family’s hotel. Along the way he literally runs into the heroine and knocks her off her bike. As a gentleman he has to help, but she doesn’t want it! Why is she so stubborn?

Review: Love small town romances? Pick up this book! Wraps up happily into a HEA! A few negatives though… you’ll want to bitch-slap the hero’s mother. She can’t take a hint and is very small minded and petty. Also a negative is Maddie’s overreaction to Mac’s attempts to fix her reputation. He did well with that, I feel. Mac is a perfect hero. He rates very high!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Maid for Love (The McCarthys of Gansett Island, Book 1)

Get into Bed with C.H. Admirand (Author Interview)

A Wedding in Apple Grove Cover

Keira: A Wedding in Apple Grove marks the start of a new series for you, as well as a new romance subgenre—small town romance! What drew you to writing these new books?

CA: My editor asked if I’d be interested in writing a small town series for Sourcebooks, so of course I said yes! The lake community we’ve lived in the for the last 30 years was like living in a small town, where everyone knew everyone else’s business, five of us were pregnant with our first babies at the same time—our kids went to preschool together and graduated from high school together. Although I was born in South Carolina, I grew up on Cedar Hill—a small neighborhood of about 25 homes in Wayne, NJ. We were isolated from the rest of the town, because all of the streets were dead ends—if you didn’t live on Cedar Hill, you really didn’t have a reason to drive up there. IMHO small neighborhoods and small towns have a lot in common. We’ve always tried to help our neighbors and friends whenever possible and were often on the receiving end as well—that is one of my favorite aspects to write about.

Keira: The heroine, Megan, is a handyman—or should we say handywoman! What made you decide to give her this profession most people identify with men? Any handy tips you have to offer our readers?

CA: I thought it would be a nice twist, besides I happen to know quite a few women who have had to learn to be handy when their men weren’t around to fix what needed fixing. Growing up my mom was the one who installed the chair rail in our dining room, among other things. I’m married to a very handy man and am so grateful that he is. There is always something that needs to be fixed or tinkered with in our house. The first thing I learned how to do is sheetrock and spackle when we first moved in. The last project we did was installing one of those laminated wood floors in our kitchen last year. One very important thing I’ve learned over the years is NOT to take photos every step of the way during a project—the memory of the framing for the shower plumbing flying past me down the cellar stairs was all the clue I needed to take pictures before—and when my hubby went outside for more parts or in the cellar for more tools—and of course after—NOT during!

Keira: Dan is the new guy in town, and everyone wants to know everything about him! What are three things that you might assume about him at first, but learn are totally different once you get to know him?

CA: He is a city boy and won’t be able to adapt to small town living, he has a girlfriend back home, he won’t stick. He proves everyone wrong almost as soon as he arrives in town—but I don’t want to spoil the book for those that haven’t read it yet!

Keira: The story begins with a wedding, and readers are introduced to a vibrant cast of side characters! Please introduce us to a few of your favorite Apple Grove residents.

CA: I love Miss Trudi Philo—one of the town’s octogenarians—she owns Trudi’s Garden Center and can be seen around town in her khaki jodphers, white button-down collar shirt, and wellies. Then there’s Honey B. Harrington—who owns Honey’s Hair Salon—she has a unique way of advertising by changing her hair color once a week…well she’s secretly hoping to snag the attention of Apple Grove’s sheriff, Mitch Wallace, but he’s a little slow to catch on. Then there’s the sheriff who rescued Meg from the crow’s nest over at McCormack’s farm when she was a kid—and he the deputy—he claims Meg was his first juvenile delinquent rescue.

Keira: What motivated you to become a published romance author?

CA: I’m a huge fan of romance that began reading Phyllis A. Whitney’s book LOST ISLAND when I was twelve or thirteen. I’m addicted to the HEA. I’ve always loved to write poems and short stories, but hadn’t thought about writing a romance until the night I realized I’d read (and re-read) all of my books. My husband was the one who suggested that I write one of my own—and once that seed was planted, it was as if someone opened a window and a fresh wind blew through me…suddenly I had all of these ideas and characters that I wanted to write about. I know it is a gift that had been waiting for the right time and for me to figure out that it was there…waiting for me.

Keira: If you could cast your hero and heroine starring any actors (dead, alive, young, old, etc.), who would be your dream lead couple and why?

CA: One of my favorite pairings hands down would be John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara…I just loved their chemistry in so many of their movies, but especially in John Ford’s THE QUIET MAN. You could just feel the sparks between them—they seemed like real people, with real problems, even though they were starring on the silver screen.

Keira: There’s a very cool classic car on the cover of A Wedding in Apple Grove. What kind of car would you have if money was no option?

CA: I’ve always loved classic cars and trucks. I’d love to have a black 1950 Ford F1 pickup truck, but I’d settle for the newer Ford F100…like the one Rick Dale drives on the History Channel’s American Restoration show—his is a 1951 F100 pickup—in black!

Keira: Please tell us where readers can find you on the web, and what’s coming next for you!

CA: My website is http://www.chadmirand.com blog: http://www.romanceauthor-chadmirand.blogspot.com http://www.twitter.com/CHAdmirand http://www.facebook.com/pages/CH-Admirand/493436157349635or http://www.facebook.com/CH.Admirand Book two in my small town series: ONE DAY IN APPLE GROVE will be releasing in June 2013 and book three: WELCOME BACK TO APPLE GROVE will be releasing in December 2013. In between I have to really cool things happening—firsts for me: A WEDDING IN APPLE GROVE will be released in large print in April and my first digital comic: BRING EM BACK ALIVE (my historical western romance—which continues my Irish Western Series) will be released in March. In April during RT’s Graphic Novel & E-Book Expo, a special print version will be available. I can’t wait!

A WEDDING IN APPLE GROVE BY C.H. ADMIRAND – IN STORES NOVEMBER 2012

He’s not so sure about small town life.

She can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Welcome to Apple Grove, Ohio (population 597), where everyone has your best interests at heart, even if they can’t agree on the best way to meddle. When the townsfolk of Apple Grove need handiwork done, there’s no job too small for the Mulcahy sisters: Megan, Caitlin, and Grace.

Specializing in hard work and family loyalty, tomboy Meg Mulcahy has left behind any girlhood reams of romance. Enter newcomer Daniel Eagan, looking to bury his own broken heart and make a new start. He’s surprised-and delighted-by the winsome girl with the mighty tool belt who shows up to fix his wiring.

But Dan’s got a lot to learn about life in a small town, and when Meg’s past collides with her future, it may take all 595 other residents of Apple Grove to keep this romance from short-circuiting.

Praise for A Wedding in Apple Grove:

“A terrifically fun read… With quick dialogue and a homey feel, this is a wonderful book to curl up with. Small-town romance at its best!” —RT Book Review, 4 Stars

Raw charm… one to read.” —Publishers Weekly

Sexy and fun… Admirand’s series will be popular, especially with fans of Susan Wiggs and Janet Chapman.” —Booklist

Buy: A Wedding in Apple Grove

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

C.H. ADMIRAND was born in Aiken, South Carolina, but grew up in New Jersey. She has been delighting readers with her Secret Life of Cowboys Series, featuring three cowboy brothers with Irish charm, and is now working on the next books in her small town contemporary romance series, featuring the town and quirky characters of Apple Grove, OH. She lives with her husband, who is the inspiration for all of her heroes’ best traits, in New Jersey. For more information, please visit www.CHAdmirand.com.

GIVEAWAY: 1 copy of A Wedding in Apple Grove. 1 winner, open to US and Canada only. Enter by leaving a comment or asking a question. Last day to enter: 11/16/2012.

A Match Made in…Shamrock Falls

lucky breakGuest Blog by Kelley Vitollo, author of Lucky Break

When I sat down to plot out the series, I always knew the first book would be a friends to lovers story. I’m a huge fan of watching a friendship grow between characters, or knowing that the couple has known one another for most of their lives, and then seeing it grow and change into more.

In Lucky Break a lot of it had to do with the small town of Shamrock Falls as well.

Sidney and Kade grew up there. They went to school there, learned to ride bikes and got into trouble there. They shared kisses, and proms, parties all throughout their childhood.

They saw each other through hard times and laughed in this close-knit, community.

That past molded who they both are and it was important to both of them…

And then Sidney left.

When the story picks up current day we have characters who have been apart for five years. Who are re-learning who they each are, but that foundation they built as children in their sleepy little town of Shamrock Falls is still there.

It’s a story about best friends who will always mean the world to each other no matter what. That even if something comes between them, they still have that part of them that will always belong to each other.

It’s about learning to grow and move forward without forgetting who you were. It’s possible to merge those people and it’s a pretty incredible thing to do.

I had a blast writing Sidney and Kade’s love story—showing their past and watching these two best friends recreate their future.

Do you like friends to lovers stories?

http://www.kelleyvitollo.com

Buy: Lucky Break