Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Casual Affair - Blog Tour Promo

Meet the Author:

Melanie grew up in a small town in rural Missouri. After marrying her husband, she decided she wanted to try coastal life. A few months later, they moved to North Carolina where she discovered her passion for writing, and they never looked back.

Melanie’s other passion is traveling and seeing the world. With anthropology degrees under their belts, she and her husband have made it their goal in life to see as many archaeological sites around the world as possible.

She has a horrible food addiction to pasta and candy (not together…ew). And she gets sad when her wine rack is empty.

At the end of the day, she is a true romantic at heart. She loves writing the cheesy and corny of romantic comedies, and the sassy and sexy of suspense. She aims to make her readers swoon, laugh out loud, maybe sweat a little, and above all, fall in love.

Connect: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

About the Book:

Bea Paxton is a free spirit. She loves her fledgling interior design business, having fun, and she loves men. But only temporarily. Rule #1 is no relationships, no love, no commitment. She likes being in charge. It’s the only way to protect herself from getting hurt again.

Zane Price is the perfect candidate for a steamy time—beautiful, built, and British. Plus, he’ll soon be moving back to England. Really perfect.

Well...except for the fact that he’s her biggest client. And he doesn’t play by her rules. Hell, no. He wants more. Much more. Which is definitely not on the agenda.

Unfortunately, his kisses are nothing short of toe-curlingly awesome. And he is distracting her—a lot—from doing her job.

She needs to stay away from him. Her livelihood depends on it.

But Zane always gets what he wants. And he wants Bea. But for right now? Or forever...?

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Duke Meets His Match - My Review

As many of you know, Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book in the entire world.  I have read it more than ten times and I never tire of revisiting it!  In my opinion, Jane Austen was the greatest romance writer of all time.  The struggle between Mr. Darcy and Lizzie Bennett is one of the best known and greatly enjoyed battle of wills in all literature. Many writers attempt to emulate Jane Austen's writing and most come up short.  However, the conflict between the main characters in The Duke Meets His Match by Tina Gabrielle, strongly reminded me of P&P and I absolutely loved this book!

Chloe Somerton is the youngest daughter of an infamous art forger, who was well known throughout London and who swindled many of the elite upper class.  She and her two sisters opened and ran a printing shop after their father abandoned them.  Chloe however, was a sickly child and her medicine was very expensive, so she would pick the pockets of the wealthy, and sell her stolen goods in order to have enough money to buy her tonic for her cough.  She constantly saw herself as a burden to her sisters and felt that she did not contribute to their family as much as her sisters did.  Yet both of her sisters married well, so Chloe is now able to not only live comfortably, but she can have her pick of wealthy men to marry.  She finally decides on Henry, the Earl of Sefton, but what she doesn't count on is the young earl's guardian.

Michael Keswick, the Duke of Cameron, owes his life to Henry's father, who saved him in the war. He has his eye on Chloe, and will stop at nothing to protect his young friend Henry from the clutches of gold digging women. He recognized Chloe from when she would pick pockets many years prior, and he believes she cares nothing for Henry himself and has eyes only for the status and money that would come from a marriage with him.  Michael warns Chloe to stay away from Henry, but this only proves to incense Chloe and war between these two characters begins.  For as much as these two claimed to despise each other, they truly begin to feel something much stronger and more passionate.

These two slowly began to see each other in very different lights. Michael suffers from what was called "war sickness" but better known today as PTSD. Chloe does not see him as weak or less of a man when she witnesses these "attacks," but instead is understanding and exceedingly helpful.  His sickness is what caused him to reject marriage in the first place, but begins to reconsider when he can't seem to keep away from Chloe.  He warns her away from other men, especially Henry, but can't quite stop himself from falling in love with her. He finally decides he will risk everything to have Chloe, but then something triggers an attack and Chloe his harmed in the process. Will they eventually overcome everything in their path to be happy? You'll have to read to find out!

While reading this book, I really loved the character of Chloe. She stood up to Michael, was strong enough to have her own opinions, and did not shy away from the difficult parts of loving someone suffering from PTSD. She was an independent women in a time when most where held to the strictest of rules. I just loved her spicy wit and her ability to go toe to toe with Michael. The passion and the fire between these two was an awesome thing to read!

This was my first introduction to Tina Gabrielle, but I can assure you, I will be going back for more. I want to start this series at the beginning and learn about all the other wonderful characters in this series. If you love a good romance, with hints of Pride and Prejudice to them, don't hesitate to go out and get this book! I'm sure you will thoroughly enjoy it!


Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Duke Meets His Match - Blog Tour Promo

Meet the Author:

Tina Gabrielle, an Amazon best-selling author, is an attorney and former mechanical engineer whose love of reading for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. She often picked up a romance and let her fantasies of knights in shining armor and lords and ladies carry her away. She is the author of adventurous Regency historical romances: A Spy Unmasked, At The Spy’s Pleasure, In The Barrister’s Bed, In The Barrister’s Chambers, Lady Of Scandal, and A Perfect Scandal from Entangled Publishing and Kensington Books. Tina’s books have been Barnes & Noble top picks, and her first book, Lady Of Scandal, was nominated as best first historical romance by Romantic Times Book Reviews. Tina loves to hear from readers. Please visit her website to join her newsletter and enter her free monthly contests and giveaways.

Connect: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

About the Book:

The daughter of an infamous art forger, Chloe Somerton grew up poor. Desperate to aid her sisters, she’d picked a pocket…or two. Now circumstances have changed, and Chloe has a chance to marry a young, wealthy lord. Only his mentor—a dark, dangerous duke—stands in her way. The duke knows about her past, and she’ll do anything to keep him from telling.

The moment Michael Keswick, the Duke of Cameron, sees Chloe Somerton, he recognizes her as a fraud. The stunning beauty with sapphire eyes and golden hair now appears to be a proper lady, but he knows better. What begins as a battle of wills soon escalates into a fierce attraction. In Chloe, Michael finds peace from the memories of war, but he refuses to marry…and she won’t settle for anything less.

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  • Classic Art coloring book, digital copy of An Artful Seduction by Tina Gabrielle, and a $15 Amazon Gift Card!

The Duke of Defiance - My Review

I'm just going to start out by saying this review is very late and I meant to write it the day of my blog promo post, however, life happens and I didn't get a chance to do this until now. With that being said, I will be diving straight in to this review without further ado.  This was my first introduction to the writing of Darcy Burke and I greatly enjoyed it!  I found it very easy to relate to the characters and the story had great passion, angst, and a sweet ending. 

Joanna Shaw is a widow currently residing with the family of her sister, after having endured an extremely unhappy marriage.  Bran is a widower recently returned from Barbados with his 5 year old daughter in tow, after learning that he has inherited his family title following the death of his two older brothers.  Jo's niece Becky, and Bran's daughter Evie strike up a close friendship since the two families live just down the road from each other.  This brings Bran and Jo in frequent contact with each other and the sparks begin to fly.  Bran knows very little about setting up a household and the proper care of his daughter.  This is where Jo steps in to lend a hand, ending with her becoming Evie's governess.  Both Bran and Evie are out of their element since leaving Barbados, and Jo helps both to acclimate to the strictures of England.

There is quite a bit of angst in this novel, between the two main characters. Bran proposes multiple times to Jo, but she refuses due to her belief that she is barren.  She comes to this conclusion due to the fact that she was married for seven years and could not produce a child for her husband.  Bran tries to convince her that this could be entirely her deceased husband, but she has been damaged by the verbal abuse she suffered in her unhappy marriage.  In her mind, Jo could not in good conscience accept Bran's proposal, knowing that one of his main duties would be to produce an heir, which she could not do if she was barren.  So, Bran suggests that they carry on an affair, which ends up bringing them even closer together.  In the end, they both realize they have fallen in love and Bran begs Jo to marry him, saying he doesn't care if she is barren, and she finally agrees.

The passion between Jo and Bran was hot, hot, hot!  Bran has a quirk where he didn't like to wear too much clothing, as it made his skin itch.  When he lived in Barbados, things weren't so rigid, and he had no need to wear restrictive or layered clothing.  That was not the case in England, and what cracked me up the most, was Bran disrobing at the most inappropriate times.  Take for example the clip below:

"Feeling as constricted as he had in the ballroom, he shrugged out of his coat and draped it over his arm.

“Are you disrobing again?” she asked.

“You can hear that?”

“I’m afraid so. But since I can’t see you, it really doesn’t signify.”

He chuckled, pleased with her logic. “As it happens, I’d already untied my cravat before I arrived here.”

“I can’t even manage to feign shock.” Now her voice held a lilt of humor, as if she were smiling.

He laughed again, and a cool, early spring breeze wafted over him. How he missed the warmth of Barbados.

“Will you tell me about it?” she asked.

Had he said that out loud—about Barbados? Apparently so. “I could stand here all night and not manage to tell you everything.”

“Then just tell me something.”

He closed his eyes and summoned his home. “The colors there are like nothing you’ve ever seen—the blue-green water, the white-gold sand, colors that not even the rainbow can do justice to.”

“It sounds beautiful.” Her voice was soft, almost reverent. “How did you decide to go there?”

He opened his eyes but still couldn’t see her. “That was where the ship was headed. I didn’t care where I was going, so long as it wasn’t here.”

“You must have been terribly miserable.” She sounded as if she’d moved a bit closer.

“I wasn’t needed here.” Or wanted, really. His entire family had encouraged him to buy a commission or perhaps take a vicarage. He’d considered both ideas, but after his brothers had spread that vicious rumor, he’d simply walked on the first ship leaving England. And he’d never looked back.

“And now?” Her question whispered over him, lulling him with its sweet curiosity.

“Now, I’m the earl. I’m needed.”

“And your brothers are gone.”

He exhaled, as if realizing for the first time that they really were gone. That he could perhaps be here and be happy. Or at least not miserable. Still, it wasn’t home. Not yet. “I miss the blazing sun.”

“Especially right now, I’d wager.”

He heard a tremor in her voice. “Wait, are you chilled? Where are you?” He reached out with his free hand and touched her.

Stepping forward—it didn’t take much to reach her—he settled his coat on her shoulders. “Better?” he asked.

“Yes, thank you.”

He didn’t take his hands away. “Why did you come out here?”


He heard the hesitation in her voice and felt a shiver in her body. He didn’t think that was from the night air. “You can tell me. If you want.”

“I felt…overwhelmed. As if I couldn’t breathe. I just needed to get out.”

God, he’d felt like that his entire life. “I was never able to sit still when I was younger. Or wear clothing. I often felt like I wanted to crawl out of my very skin. I used to scratch myself raw.”

“That sounds horrid. How did you stop?”

“I don’t know. Leaving here helped.”

“And now that you’re back? Things aren’t as bad as they were?”

No, he supposed they weren’t. Just as he had a few moments ago, when she’d pointed out that his brothers were indeed gone, he felt a lightness. Because of her."

The one minor issue I had with this story was the age of the two girls. They seemed very advanced for being 5-6 and instead seemed closer to 8-10. Evie and Becky never spoke like small children and some of the subjects were pretty complex for a child of that age group to understand. They also wrote plays and sewed doll clothes which seems like something children a little older would do.  Despite this, they were wonderful to read about and more often than not, they stole the show and everyone's hearts!

To all my fellow historical romance novel lovers, you will love following the story of Bran and Jo, as they navigate through their trials and tribulations, to find true love with each other.  The epilogue is always my favorite part of the book, and this was one of the best!  Go grab your copy of The Duke of Defiance by Darcy Burke today.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Duke of Defiance - Blog Tour Promo

Meet the Author:

Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of hot, action-packed historical and sexy, emotional contemporary romance. A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, and three Bengal cats. Visit Darcy online at and sign up for her newsletter, follow her on Twitter at, or like her Facebook page,
Connect: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

About the Book:

Difficult and defiant as a child, Bran Crowther, Earl of Knighton left England as a young man to pursue independence and adventure. He never expected to inherit the title and when duty calls him home, he still finds Society’s codes constricting and others’ expectations oppressive. Nevertheless, he needs a wife to be a mother to his young daughter, preferably a woman of intelligence and warmth who is, above all, immune to his idiosyncrasies—and to falling in love.
Widow Joanna Shaw isn’t interested in a second marriage, not after the loveless, passionless union she endured. She’d much rather dote on her young niece and nephew since they will likely be the only children in her life...until she meets a precocious girl, in desperate need of a mother. But her father, the so-called Duke of Defiance, is as peculiar as he is handsome, and Jo won’t take another risk with her heart. Their rules, however, are made to be broken, even when the consequences could destroy them both.
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 Check out the other books in  The Untouchables series:


  • $25 Amazon Gift Card, Signed copy of The Duke of Daring and Swag
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Friday, June 23, 2017

The Sweetest Jerk - Blog Tour Promo

Meet the Author:

Ava Claire is a sucker for Alpha males and happily ever afters. When not putting pen to paper or glued to her Kindle, Ava likes road tripping, watching an unhealthy amount of Netflix, karaoke and vintage fashion.
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About the Series:

New Year’s Resolution: No. More. Jerks.
Natalee Madison's life is finally on the upswing. Her business, Madison Creations, is finally gaining traction, and if she slays a high profile wedding, she could be catapulted to heights she's only dreamt of.
She doesn't do dating and it suits her just fine, because she ends it before things get complicated.
And then she sees his face.
Jason Cox.
The best man.
And based on their last run in, the biggest jerk alive.
He's dangerous. Lethal for her 'no complications' approach to men, since he's the one that inspired the approach in the first place.
But when she looks into his eyes, she knows that some rules are meant to be broken…
Billionaire Jackson Colt has success, wealth, power and a presence that makes his competitors tremble with fear. Beneath the armor is a man with a dark and painful past. A man with a heart that he guards by any means necessary.
As far as Sadie McLeod is concerned, 'escort' isn't a bad word. It's a job, one of two that she works to pay off a debt that is not her own. Tough as nails and far from a damsel in distress, love is a luxury she can't afford.
Can they put aside their dark pasts and find the love they both desperately want, underneath it all?
The Sweetest Jerk Part One
The Sweetest Jerk Part Two
The Sweetest Jerk Part Three

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Highlander's Viking Bride - My Review

One of my favorite genres in the realm of historical romance novels is that of the Highlander.  I just love me a braw Scotsman wearing a kilt and little else!  I had the privilege to visit Scotland about five years ago, and it solidified my already great love for that country.  There is something so beautiful and mystical meandering through the Highlands with its creeping mists, majestic castles, and fathomless lakes.  I could just feel the pulse of the land in my veins and could easily imagine the people who lived there many years ago.  One thing our tour guide said was that the Scots constantly warred among themselves, and a bitter feud is at the base of this wonderful tale of The Highlander's Viking Bride by Cathy & DD MacRae.

The MacGerrys and the Sinclairs have been at each other's throats in a feud that has lasted hundreds of years.  No one can really remember by they were fighting in the first place.  After unexpectedly finding himself laird of the clan, Calder MacGerry is determined to make peace with the Sinclairs.  The laird of the Sinclair clan jumps at Calder's offer of a truce.  He promises peace and aid through the winter to the MacGerry clan, but only if Calder will marry his daughter, Katja.  The agreement is struck and these two strangers find themselves wedded, bedded, and on the road back to the MacGerry clan in a matter of a couple days.

Calder is a good laird but he is a man, and therefore he is prone to making mistakes, especially concerning his new bride.  Katja is the daughter of the enemy and is not looked kindly upon by the MacGerry clan.  To make matters worse, Katja is neglected by her husband who is new not only to this marriage business, but also new to the duties of being laird, with the recent death of his father.  I felt rather sorry for both of these poor kids. They just couldn't seem to figure how to balance their duties, and still make time for each other.  Then due to the lack of communication on both their parts, Katja overhears something that is taken out of context, and she runs off to her relatives in the northern isles, instead of taking the time to talk to Calder.  But don't worry my fair readers, these two figure themselves out and of course the book has a happy ending!

I will have to say even though there are great side characters in this book, Freki stole the show.  I just wanted to reach through the page and snuggle that adorable wolfhound!  He is Katja's solid rock and protector. No one touches his mistress! But I still just want to curl up with him and smother him with kisses!  The moment Calder and Freki meet, was just priceless:

His wife’s old servant opened the door of the kirk and Calder rocked back on his heels, confronted by a mountain of fur growling menacingly at him with shining teeth that would make a Cù Sìth envious. Momentarily frozen, Calder heard his bride murmur something in a rough language, then offer the hands they held together for the beast’s perusal. After a few sniffs and one wet swipe of the tongue, the monster uttered a whine of reluctant acceptance before taking his place at Katja’s other side.
“Freki willnae harm ye now, unless ye make an aggressive move toward me,” Katja said matter-of-factly, a cold edge to her voice.
Still taken aback by the size of the creature, Calder asked, “Freki? What is he?”
Katja scratched the beast’s ears. “Freki is one of Odin’s wolves, according to Norse legend. He is, in fact, a wolfhound—a gift from my uncle.” She looked at the russet-colored behemoth with an expression of adoration on her face, as if he were her very own bairn.
One of Odin’s wolves? Freki was an appropriate enough name, then. The monster was certainly large enough to be the pet of a war god. “I’ve never seen a dog his size.” Calder still didn’t trust her beast had taken him off the list of potential meals.
“Ach, well, my uncle says his bloodline is found in Ireland. My uncle raises wolfhounds.”
Calder looked at the beast askance. More like devilhound.
Her tone warmed as she spoke of her dog and he struck for a way to keep her talking, if for no reason other than to hear the sweet sound of her voice. Though clear as chimes in the wind, it possessed a seductive quality that stirred his lust.
“What were the words ye spoke to him? I’ve not heard them before.”
Katja’s cheeks darkened. “Norn. My mother’s language. I am Scots on my sire’s side, Norse on my dam’s.”
Calder recalled Christer saying their mother no longer remained among the living. But proof of Katja’s bloodline resonated in her pale blonde hair, her slender, proud posture, and the fearless way she met his gaze. Viking blood ran strong through her veins.

This isn't an overly complicated story. Just a quick summer read that will leave you wanting more and more from these highland men of yesterday.  Go check out my previous post on where to pick this delightful story up.  Until next time...


The Highlander's Viking Bride - Blog Tour Promo

Meet the Author:

Cathy MacRae lives on the sunny side of the Arbuckle Mountains where she and her husband read, write, and tend the garden—with the help of the dogs, of course. You can visit with her on facebook, or read her blogs and learn about her books at Drop her a line—she loves to hear from readers!
* * *
DD MacRae enjoys bringing history to life and considers research one of the best things about writing a story! With more than 35 years of martial arts training, DD also brings breath-taking action to the tales. You can connect with DD through It’s always exciting to hear from readers!

About the Book:

Calder MacGerry, laird of an impoverished clan, has resolved to end the bitter feud between the MacGerry and Sinclairs. He jumps at Laird Sinclair’s offer of marriage to his only daughter, Katja, to seal the agreement between their clans—only to get more than he bargained for. Katja’s chance to escape her father’s harsh treatment appears to be too good to be true. But becoming Lady of a clan that despises her because she’s a Sinclair, doesn’t make life any easier. When the attacks turn deadly, she fights her way out, making a dangerous passage to the Shetland Isles for refuge with her Viking family. Calder and Katja’s marriage, built on mistrust, rushes quickly into disaster. As Calder seeks to repair the damage, Katja discovers not another enemy, but a husband who pledges a new beginning.
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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

How to Ruin Your Reputation in 10 Days - My Review

So this happens to be my first foray into doing a promo and a review for a blog tour and I have to say it is quite a great deal of fun!  I had always been hesitant to participate in these although I had been asked before, simply due to the fact I never knew if I could actually do my part.  What if something happened and I couldn't fulfill my obligation? Or worse, what if I didn't like the book and could not bring myself to finish it? Thankfully, neither of these things happened to me with How to Ruin Your Reputation in 10 Days by Harmony Williams.

Since I already posted a promo for this book, I won't bother you with a repeat of the synopsis, but instead I'll just dive just into the story.  Francine Annesley is more interested in all things botany than men and would rather spend her time in her family's hothouse then in a crowded ballroom.  However, her father insists on her marrying, so in order to accommodate his wishes, she attends various events throughout London.  She has had no success in five seasons and is not hopeful for her future endeavors on the marriage market.  It is as one of these dances that she runs into her old childhood friend Julian Beckwith, whom she doesn't recognize at first.  Yet, when they gradually become reacquainted, all those feelings she thought had disappeared long ago, come rushing back to the surface.  When we first meet Francine, she is seen as timid and quiet as a mouse.  Her renewed feelings that were sparked with Julian's return gradually give her more confidence and in the end, she is able to follow her heart's desire.

In the words of the great Poet, the course of true love never did run smooth.  It is no different for Francine and Julian.  She must learn to admit her feelings for Julian, which at first she ignores, then refuses, but ultimately gives in to.  Julian has a secret that caused him to give up their correspondence, which had kept them in touch throughout the years, until he stopped writing to her altogether.  Harmony Williams does an excellent job of portraying the passion, angst, and ultimate joy of these two characters.

Another great point for this book was the cast of supporting characters in the story.  Francine's two best friends Rose and Mary are, in a word, hilarious!  Rose is recently married and has her mind made up that she will help Francine find a husband.  She tends to be a little on the dramatic side and no doubt in today's standards would be considered quite the diva.  Mary is by far my favorite character.  She feels very strongly that women are equal to men and should be treated thus.  Her blunt tongue and mischievous antics made me burst out loud more than once.  Francine's parents are on opposite sides of the spectrum, with her mother sharing her love of botany and being a wee bit absentminded while her father is overbearing, harsh, and, at times, even a bit cruel.  Another part of the story I enjoyed was Francine assigning plant names to describe the people around her.  These were oftentimes, not very flattering, especially to her would be suitors.  Julian is lovable and loyal to his heart, and completely madly in love with Francine.  Here's a glimpse of a conversation between Francine and Julian:


“Tell me about this plant you saw.”

“You know I can’t do it justice.” Mirth infused his voice. “I once described a rose to you as ‘red.’”

I chuckled. “Well, you weren’t wrong.”

“I also wasn’t very observant, as you pointed out for the next hour.” He shuddered. “It was very like schoolwork. I think you made me memorize the parts.”

I lifted my head. “I did not.”

“You made me repeat them so often, it felt as though you did.”

I smiled. “You didn’t get it wrong after that, did you?”

“Of course I did.” He barked out a laugh. “You know I have no head for that kind of thing.”

“No?” I shifted to study his face while we spoke. “I’d wager you could describe your crops to the tiniest detail.”

He shook his head. “Not even if you threatened my life. But I can look at them and tell you if they look…wrong.”

I laughed. “Is that the technical term?”

“You know what I mean.” He threw his free hand into the air. “Weak. Sickly.”

I grinned. I was only teasing him. Judging by the half smile turning up one corner of his mouth, he knew it.

“You did an admirable job describing the problem with your crops. The one I helped with.”

His arm tightened around my shoulders. “Thank you again, by the way.”

My cheeks heated as my gaze dropped to his mouth. The heat of his body surrounded me. I’d never felt so relaxed, comfortable and yet aware of him at the same time. Would he kiss me again? When he made no move to, I leaned closer. He didn’t pull away.

While I did enjoy my reading of this story, there were some parts that did fall short for me.  The constant reminder throughout the book that Francine had injured her ankle, but she continued to use and abuse it was a bit annoying.  I didn't feel like the connection between Francine and Julian was as strong as it possibly could be.  Lord Valentia, Francine's father, seemed a bit harsh and  his constant disapproval of her, detracted from his character.  Finally, Mary stole the show for me and at certain points I felt myself wanting to hear more about her, rather than return to Francine's and Julian's' story. Despite these small criticisms, I thoroughly enjoyed my reading of How to Ruin You Reputation in 10 Days. Go check out my previous post for info on how to get a copy of this book and check out the author's page.  Until next time...


How to Ruin Your Reputation in 10 Days - Blog Tour Promo

Meet the Author:

Harmony Williams has been living vicariously in Regency-era England since she discovered Jane Austen. Since time machines don’t yet exist, she’s had to make do with books—fictional and non-fictional. On the rare occasion she doesn’t have her nose stuck in a book, she likes to drink tea and spend time with her 90-lb lapdog. A feminist, she writes stories about strong women and the men who support them as equals.
Connect: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads  

About the Book:

In 1814 London, England, a lady is defined as a demure, delicate flower. Miss Francine Annesley is not that lady. If men were like plants, she would have a garden of admirers to choose from instead of the thorn in her side since childhood, Julian Beckwith. But she would make an even worse nun than she does a lady, which will be her fate if she can't dig up a husband before the Season ends. However, Julian is not an option.
With only ten short days left in the Season, Francine doesn't have time to waste on petty squabbles or knee-weakening kisses, even if Julian's offer to fulfill her every wish rouses her curiosity. It seems men are more complicated than plants. Too bad love bloomed at the most inconvenient of times...
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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How Do You Know When It's Real?

Hello once again to my lovely readers.  It's been a while since we last spoke, but things get pushed back and, in short, life happens.  What are you gonna do? As the French say, c'est la vie.  Anyways, I meant to write this post a while ago and tell you about this awesome book I got an advanced ARC copy of, but better late than never.  In honor of the book's release date and without further ado.... 

Have you ever wondered what it would really be like to date a rockstar? I mean, I know we all have celebrity crushes and famous people we would love to meet and get to know.  But have you ever really thought about the nitty gritty of dating someone famous? Here's another quirk in the scenario for you: what if dating a rockstar was your job and you were getting paid for it? Add in the bonus that your first impression of this famous person was pretty spectacularly bad.  I'm talking downright loathing this celebrity.  This is the beginning of Erin Watt's book When It's Real. Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley's team decides it's time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he's settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of "normal." Under ordinary circumstances she'd never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn't have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley's team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley's a shallow, self-centered jerk? It's not like they're going to fall for each other in real life…right?

I will say right off the bat that I love Erin Watt.  This is the pen name of the writing duo Elle Kennedy and Jen Frederick, whom I was introduced to through their debut book Paper Princess.  This was the beginning of their trilogy The Royals, which another series I highly recommend.  However, When It's Real is a standalone that is truly a great, fun read!

As most people who know me know I'm a sucker for the hate-to-love trope, so for me, this book was perfect!  On one side of the ring you have Oakley Ford: a teen idol and famous pop singer who is realizing if he wants to stay relevant, he's going to need to grow up and make some serious music.  He has been in a bit of trouble and parties hard, so now no one will take him seriously.  His manager comes up with the brilliant idea overhaul his image by "fake dating" an average normal girl.  His complete opposite.  Yeah, you can already see where this is going.

On the other side of the ring, you have Vaughn Bennett.  She's the second of four children, both of her parents are dead, so she graduated high school early so she could get a job and help her older sister pay the bills and take care of their twin younger brothers.  She has a boyfriend but she's not sure exactly how she feels about him anymore.  On top of that, she's secretly not sure what she wants to do in college so she's taking a year off, under the guise of helping out her family financially.  Money is tight and this is what leads her to the deal with Oak.

There is a lot more involved in dating a celebrity than I would have originally thought.  They are surrounded by all types of people all the time.  Managers, assistants, bodyguards, etc....  Basically, they have people waiting on them hand and foot 24/7.  Oak has had this all his life due to the fact he was born to really famous actors, so its safe to say that he's very much a spoiled brat.  Vaughn comes face to face with his spoiled personality at their first meeting.  Words are exchanged and tempers flare, but Vaughn stands her ground and Oak is intrigued.  (Can I just add a side note here that this sounds a little bit like Pride and Prejudice, especially given that her last name just happens to be Bennett?  I mean a sassy, quick witted, and determined woman sparks interest in the mind of a man who's just a wee bit conceited! Sound like another Bennett woman? Anyone?? Heehee....)

So Vaughn takes on this job of fake dating Oak.  She's going to get paid quite a wad of cash for it and since her family needs the money, she decides to do it, despite the fact the bf isn't thrilled.  So Vaughn, the girl who doesn't like to be the center of attention, is thrown right into the middle of the social eye.  Oakley is very much adored by his female fans and it takes a bit for Vaughn to adjust to this.  Their love story is also so contrived, she has to do certain things on social media to keep the story going, which I found to be a little ridiculous.  But, I suppose it this is supposed to be a fake courtship, you kind of have to do it that way.

My first thoughts on Oakley was that he was a spoiled asshole.  I mean, there really is no way else to say it.  He isn't mean or nasty, he just doesn't think of anyone else but himself.  You can excuse his behavior a bit because he doesn't know any different, but he's still selfish.  Vaughn makes him aware of this right away and at first he doesn't treat her very nicely at all.  But slowly, he begins to reveal his soul underneath the exterior.  Vaughn begins to see him in a new light and this is where things start to change a bit.

I love the fact that there was no instant love or a kiss that made everything turn around and suddenly the two main characters are in love and falling into bed with each other.  While I love those types of stories in their own right, that direction just wouldn't have worked in this book.  Instead, Vaughn and Oak become friends and start talking to each other.  Oak tells Vaughn she should do what she loves most in life and not go to college just because she's supposed to or all her other friends are going.  She supports him in his efforts to make music that comes from his heart and soul, now that he is a man and no longer a teen pop star.  These two go on a journey of discovery that makes them into more matured and well rounded adults.  It's not a heavy novel, but a light-hearted read that will answer the question: how do you know when it's real?

Pick up this book at your favorite retailer and also, go check out the author's website:


Monday, February 20, 2017

My Time in Ireland - Cork City

So, I said in my last post, that this next time I would talk about Ireland.  Just to give some back ground information, I studied abroad in Ireland when I was in college.  I spent 4 months over there back in 2012 and I can honestly saw it was the best four months of my life.  Ireland is a beautiful country filled with amazing people.  I lived in Cork, the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland, in the southern part of the country.  I attended the University of College Cork, which has one of the most gorgeous campuses I've ever been to.

The top picture is the quad and the bottom is the Honan Chapel right in the middle of campus.  Here is a picture of the gate and the path I got to walk every single day.

Yet there is much more to Cork than just the campus.  I got to go grocery shopping at the English Market in the city center.  There, you can purchase fresh meat, cheese, fruits, vegetables, amongst other things.  I would usually go in through the door where the fruit was and, since it was the season, the smell of fresh apples was mouth watering and amazing.

Cork had many other interesting places to explore.  There are many churches in the city such as St. Finbarr's Cathedral, which is actually an Anglican church.

Basically, you can't throw a stone in the city without hitting a church.  My personal favorite and the one I attended while I was there, was the church of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Besides churches, there are many other things to do in Cork.  They have the Crawford Art Gallery, which I sadly never went to, but often walked by it.

There is a Butter Museum which shows how butter was made long ago and the great impact the dairy industry has on Ireland.  In my opinion, Kerrygold is the best butter and Ireland's dairy products give my home state of Wisconsin a run for its money.

A little bit of a hike from the city center is Cork City Gaol, or jail as its spelled in America.  It looks like a medieval castle from far away but once inside, it has an eeriness to it that lets you imagine a little bit of how a prisoner felt in this jail.

Off to more pleasant diversions.  In the city center, there is large fountain and near by is a monument commemorating the various rebellions in Ireland.

If you're looking for a little bit more nature, you can always visit Fitzgerald Park and maybe on the way back, check out the Cork Public Museum.

The River Lee runs through the city of Cork.  In the picture below, the tower on the left is Shandon Bells, which you can climb up and ring the bells.  My apartment was at the top of the pink building next to the orange building, in the far right corner of the picture.

This was the view from my apartment and I'm so thankful I got to look at this every day for the entire time I was there.  You could also smell the peat moss burning in the mornings when I would open my windows and I want to get my own peat moss to burn at home now!

The river also runs through campus and some of the most beautiful trails I've ever walked have been beside that river through the campus.

Finally, there's no better way to end a day in Cork then in a pub and the city has a plethora of them to choose from.  These were just two of many I visited while I was there.  Pubs over there are different than bars here.  Everyone of all ages goes there to socialize and spend time with their friends and family.  They mingle, tell hilarious jokes, and enjoy each others company.  I've never encountered anything else like it before or since.

Well folks, I hope you enjoyed this little tour of my beloved Cork.  There is so much more to see and talk about but I figured I had rambled enough.  Another time, I'll show you some of the other awesome places I visited in Ireland and the other countries I visited while over in Europe.  I'll leave you with one of my favorite pictures of the city of Cork, taken right outside my apartment building on Thanksgiving.

May the sound of happy music, and the lilt of Irish laughter, fill your heart with gladness, that stays forever after.