Friday, December 30, 2016

Sting by Sandra Brown

3 Star

When Jordie Bennet and Shaw Kinnard lock eyes across a disreputable backwater bar, something definitely sparks. Shaw gives off a dangerous vibe that makes men wary and inspires women to sit up and take notice. None feel that undercurrent more strongly than savvy businesswoman Jordie, who doesn't belong in a seedy dive on the banks of a bayou. But here she is . . . and Shaw Kinnard is here to kill her. 
As Shaw and his partner take aim, Jordie is certain her time has come. But Shaw has other plans and abducts Jordie, hoping to get his hands on the $30 million her brother has stolen and, presumably, hidden. However, Shaw is not the only one looking for the fortune. Her brother's ruthless boss and the FBI are after it as well. Now on the run from the feds and a notorious criminal, Jordie and Shaw must rely on their wits-and each other-to stay alive. 
Miles away from civilization and surrounded by swampland, the two play each other against their common enemies. Jordie's only chance of survival is to outwit Shaw, but it soon becomes clear to Shaw that Jordie isn't entirely trustworthy, either. Was she in on her brother's scam, or is she an innocent pawn in a deadly vendetta? And just how valuable is her life to Shaw, her remorseless and manipulative captor? Burning for answers-and for each other-this unlikely pair ultimately make a desperate move that could be their 

Sabrina-Kate - 3 Star

I wish I could have said that I enjoyed this book more. Lately I have been enjoying police novels of all types and this one certainly started off promising enough. Sadly, although I read through it quite quickly, I did not really get that into it and had a fair amount of eye rolling moments.

Sandra Brown is definitely a best selling author for a reason though as I am sure that she has her niche market. I just don't buy the bodice ripping schtick that she is trying to sell. Even though Jordie was a likeable enough character (I suppose anyway), I truly did not connect with her character and found her somewhat naive, while being accomplished and intelligent which got on my nerves at times.

And I also could not believe the fact that conflicts of interest and ethical dilemmas were so lightly taken within the FBI. Just did not make sense to me. Admittedly, I am not expert but I do not think that a lot of the things that happened in the book would have been permitted to in real life.

Honestly, the entire story seemed a bit contrived to me but I suppose that it was a good escape from reality and that I did enjoy it for that aspect. It isn't necessarily something that I would read again but I did have moments that I enjoyed.

Thank you to Hachette Books for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Sandra Brown:
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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Return to The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard

5 Star

When Emmy Jamieson leaves her life behind and moves to La Cour des Roses, a gorgeous guesthouse amidst vineyards in France, everything is resting on her success as the new guesthouse manager. 
Looming in the calendar is the biggest booking ever, when the entire eccentric, demanding Thomson family will descend for a golden wedding anniversary. With airbeds on the floor and caravans in the garden, La Cour des Roses will be bursting at the seams. 
Emmy knows she’s up to the challenge, especially with the support of the gorgeous Alain, the half-French, half-English, caramel-eyed accountant. But she hadn’t counted on a naked, sleepwalking travel blogger, or the return of owner Rupert’s venomous ex-wife Gloria. 
Gloria has a few things to say about Emmy’s new role, Rupert’s finances, and the unsuspecting Alain, which send everybody reeling. Just when Emmy can see a future for herself of endless sunshine, true love and laughter, are her dreams about to be ripped at the seams? 

Kathryn - 5 Star

I felt such a connection to the place and people in the first novel (The Little French Guesthouse) that I pounced on the chance to read the sequel and I wasn’t disappointed. The bonds between the characters were still there in the sequel, as if Emmy had never left the idyllic French setting.

The plot was filled with action with new guests of the guesthouse especially as a large family reunion took over a good portion of the novel.  There was much angst as to how they would handle all the requirements of such a big booking and it made me anxious for Emmy and Rupert! Especially as they were trying to bounce back from the scathing review one guest had left.  As always, there were a lot of hilarious moments with the guests- the scathing review came after a particularly bizarre moment and I like that the author doesn’t brush over the difficult parts of running a hotel. Each guest is given a personality and each one brings either a bit of insight or a bit of humour, you can picture each one sitting around the kitchen dinner table with drinks and wonderful food that Rupert has prepared.

We are also treated to the return of Gloria as she tries to pretend she’d never left.   She adds a certain amount of tension to the storyline which compounded with the family reunion makes a portion of this second novel a bit of a page turner.  I still liked Alain and Emmy’s relationship.  I liked how it evolved organically and how they dealt with their obstacles.  Particularly sweet was their individual loyalty to Rupert.

On the whole this sequel didn’t disappoint- I hope there’s a third in the works!

Thank you to Bookouture for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Helen Pollard:
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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Stranded... with Rebecca Raisin

Please welcome Rebecca Raisin, author of Brides & Bouquets, as she tackles our Desert Island Interview!

About Rebecca:

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been published in various short story anthologies and in in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.

Connect with Rebecca:
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Rebecca Raisin Stranded on a Desert Island

If you could only have one book with you, what would it be?

Tough question…but it would have to be something big, that I could read over and again in case I’m stranded for a long time, so maybe Ulysses? I’ve always struggled that book, so I’d have ample time to read it and work it out!

What one luxury item would you want to be stranded with?

Definitely wine. A never ending carton of wine.

What is the one practical item you would want to have with you to use?

A toothbrush! I suppose I could learn to make one with some kind of branch, but I am not very practical and I am scared of spiders.

Would you enjoy the solitude, even briefly, or would it drive you crazy?

As long as I had a book I think I’d enjoy it immensely!

If you could be stranded with one other person, who would you want it to be?

My twins! They’re only little so together they’d count as one person, right? They’re scared of spiders too so they’d be no help to me!

What modern technology would you miss the most?

My iPhone! I would have the most alarming withdrawal symptoms but again, maybe I can find a couple of empty cans, and some string and make my own phone system.

What food or beverage would you miss the most?

Wine! But coffee is a close second.

How many days do you think you would cope without rescue?

I’d say three! The honeymoon would be over after day two, and day three I’d be writing SOS in the sand for sure.

What is the first thing you would do when rescued?

Eat pizza. I really love pizza. And soak in the tub.

What would be your first Tweet or Facebook update upon your return?

Survived shark infested waters to swim home and get Wi-Fi, what did I miss? #ManicMonday

Brides & Bouquets

Christmas has come to Cedarwood Lodge in the second part of the feel-good romance serial from best selling author, Rebecca Raisin!

Dreaming of a happily ever after at Cedarwood Lodge is Clio Winters’ current focus, especially with a winter wonderland wedding expo planned. But with brides coming from far and wide the heat is on for Clio to fulfil everyone’s dream of a Christmas wedding!

It seems like Clio’s new business might be off to a rocky start and surrounded by love struck brides she can’t help but hope for a little Christmas romance of her own…

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is Part Two.

Available at:
 Kindle Kobo Nook 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Sweet Carolina Morning by Susan Schild

2.5 Star

Finally, just shy of forty years old, Linny Taylor is living the life of her dreams in her charming hometown of Willow Hill, North Carolina. The past few years have been anything but a fairy tale: Left broke by her con man late-husband, Linny has struggled to rebuild her life from scratch. Then she met Jack Avery, the town’s much-adored veterinarian. And she’s marrying him.

Everything should be coming up roses for Linny. So why does she have such a serious case of pre-wedding jitters? It could be because Jack’s prosperous family doesn’t approve of her rough-and-tumble background. Or that his ex-wife is suddenly back on the scene. Or that Linny has yet to win over his son’s heart. All these obstacles—not to mention what she should wear when she walks down the aisle—are taking the joy out of planning her wedding. Linny better find a way to trust love again, or she might risk losing the one man she wants to be with—forever…

Kathryn - 2.5 Star

I must confess that I have not read the first book of this series and therefore I may be missing some key details on the history of the characters.  However, I must say that I didn’t feel I didn’t know the main personalities of Sweet Carolina Morning.  I think Susan Schild gave enough details to her story that I didn’t feel lost.

I didn’t however entirely warm to the people in this book. I felt a lack of connection somehow, particularly with Linny, which was frustrating as she was the centre of the story. There didn’t seem to be a big connection between her and Jack- I just didn’t feel it through the pages.  I could certainly appreciate their difficulties in trying to manoeuver their upcoming wedding plans around Jack’s son. I could also appreciate that Linny was trying to establish a bond with her future stepson while not upsetting his world.  But because of that focus I didn’t feel the bond between Linny and Jack as a couple, which was disappointing.

I really loved Linny’s sister and her mother was sometimes a fun light relief. I also embraced the animals, and particularly the dogs, because they meant a lot to the whole family.

I’m not sure I’ve quite put my finger on my lack of connection but I believe that though the plot is well able to stand alone from the previous novel there is perhaps a missing link for me with the bond between Jack and Linny- the romantic aspect.

Thank you to the author for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Susan Schild:
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Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Cornish Christmas by Lily Graham

5 Star

Nestled in the Cornish village of Cloudsea, sits Sea Cottage – the perfect place for some Christmas magic …

At last Ivy is looking forward to Christmas. She and her husband Stuart have moved to their perfect little cottage by the sea - a haven alongside the rugged cliffs that look out to the Atlantic Ocean. She’s pregnant with their much-longed for first baby and for the first time, since the death of her beloved mother, Ivy feels like things are going to be alright.

But there is trouble ahead. It soon emerges that Stuart has been keeping secrets from Ivy, and suddenly she misses her mum more than ever.
When Ivy stumbles across a letter from her mother hidden in an old writing desk, secrets from the past come hurtling into the present. But could her mother’s words help Ivy in her time of need? Ivy is about to discover that the future is full of unexpected surprises and Christmas at Sea Cottage promises to be one to remember.

Kathryn - 5 Star

I was not expecting A Cornish Christmas to be as serious as it was (another example of when not to judge a book by its cover!)-  I was expecting a more light-hearted novel full of holiday cheer but instead found myself in a novel on an emotional journey. That sounds negative but in fact it is the source of the subject matter than can be seen as difficult rather than the way it is explored in the novel.

Ivy and Stuart have been navigating infertility issues for a number of years with many sad and devastating results. They are finally in a position where they can perhaps look to being happy but it’s a two-sided coin for Ivy as it has also brought back up to the surface the loss of her mother which she is feeling with an intensity I could feel on the pages.

I loved the way Lily Graham treated both these subjects.  She gave Ivy realistic bouts of frustration and sadness but didn’t allow Lily to become maudlin.  Somehow, despite their history there is much light in A Cornish Christmas.  Graham also delved into creating characters that both support Lily and Stuart in their lives and provide lighthearted relief when things were tough- from Stuart’s interfering mother to the dog Lily’s career as an illustrator is based on there is no person (or animal) that is left out.  The magical quality to Lily’s relationship with her mother could have come across as clichéd but I didn’t find it that way- it was done in just the right way that inspired hope and love.

I adored Graham’s story and was so pleased it came up on my list of to-reads. 

Thank you to Bookouture for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Lily Graham:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Behind Closed Doors by B.A.Paris

5 Star

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You'd like to get to know Grace better. But it's difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace's friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn't Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

This book made me really think. A lot. About how easy it would be to just hide exactly what your life was truly like. I assume that a fair amount of us do it, at least to a certain extent, but to do it as much as and to the extremes that Grace had to is a completely different story.

Oddly enough, this book was one I was already reviewing but that my book club also selected so I guess that the reputation of the author precedes her. And with good reason.

The book made me tense and want to know what was going to happen. Immediately. So I had trouble putting it down and was often reading while walking or on break at work, so I raced through it quite quickly. 

This book also employs the vacillating between past and present tactic which I find works well with these types of books in order to give you a bit of context. It also shows exactly how Grace got sucked into this mess and making it realistic. I have found that a lot of other reviews said how they felt this could never happen in a million years but to be honest, I could see this being something that could all too easily happen.

The book was a bit of a tough read at times but not because it wasn't well written. It was more due to the fact that some important issues and difficult things to hear about were addressed. Not for the faint of heart certainly but leaning credit towards the entire story.

Thank you to St Martin's Press for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with B.A.Paris:

Monday, December 12, 2016

Stranded on a desert island with Michelle Gilliam

Please welcome Michelle Gilliam, author of Roman Rescue, as she tackles our Desert Island Interview!

About Michelle:

MICHELLE GILLIAM is a Registered Nurse. She began writing poetry, flash fiction, and short stories in 2003, but it was the gargantuan task of a novel that thrilled her the most. She has three sons and spends her time with biological and church families, watching her sons’ college football games, traveling, and not least, reading and writing. ROMAN RESCUE is her first novel. Michelle lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. Connect with her online at the following places:

Connect with Michelle:
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Michelle Gilliam Stranded on a Desert Island

If you could only have one book with you, what would it be?

The Bible, to feed my thirsty soul.

What one luxury item would you want to be stranded with?

A good pillow. If you don’t sleep well, your brain won’t function well after three days.

What is the one practical item you would want to have with you to use?

Knife, for shelter, water, and defense.

Would you enjoy the solitude, even briefly, or would it drive you crazy?

I would enjoy the solitude. Shocker, a writer who likes to be alone. But not forever. Three months and I would be more than ready for a good conversation.

If you could be stranded with one other person, who would you want it to be?

My husband--my other half--who picks me up when I am down and keeps me from floating away too high.

What modern technology would you miss the most?

Phone. I read books on it, learn new things from the internet, and talk to everyone.

What food or beverage would you miss the most?

Wine and cheese.

How many days do you think you would cope without rescue?

Assuming I found water, shelter, and access to food… a year? With lots of prayer!

What is the first thing you would do when rescued?

After crying? Talk to my family.

What would be your first Tweet or Facebook update upon your return?

Alone on a deserted island for one year. Well-I’m Back Baby! Stay tuned, I’m writing a book about this one. So much to tell you!

Roman Rescue

Maggie has always been a sassy, headstrong Southern girl. But running off to Rome, Italy on summer break from college is the most impulsive thing she's ever done. Her brother is in trouble, and she's determined to rescue him- after all, he's the older, wiser, military officer who has never needed her help before. Paul is in a mess with an Italian ex-girlfriend who has cut ties with him...but is pregnant with his child. Maggie thinks she can fix it.
After all, a break from her life would be nice, too. She just broke up with her long time boyfriend, and her estranged mother keeps hopelessly trying to reconnect with her. Italy sounds like the perfect refuge. Until she meets Paul's best friend, Marine Sargeant, Luke Seager. He complicates things in every way. He persists to play tour guide and asserts his way into her plans at every chance. Maggie prefers to become a hero on her own, but as she digs into the truth about Paul’s predicament, danger builds around them. While the tension and mystery grows, so do her feelings for Luke- a man with his own shrouded past. 
Nothing is as it seems when Maggie gets more than she bargained for with the girlfriend's mafia ties, Luke's dangerous connections, and unexpected guests from home. Finding out the truth lands Maggie in more trouble than she can escape. Who will save the hero now?

Available at:
Amazon Kindle 

Cover art by Jonathan Laing

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas at the Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant

2.5 Star

Snow is falling in Honeybourne and Spencer is bringing home his American fiancée Tori for a traditional English Christmas with all the trimmings. But when his hippie mum and dad meet her high-maintenance parents, sparks of the wrong sort start to fly. Then Spencer bumps into his first love Jasmine and unexpected feelings come flooding back. 

Millie is run off her feet with Christmas orders at the Little Village Bakery and new baby Oscar. Thank goodness her cousin Darcie is here to help her. Although she does seem to be rather flirty with Millie’s boyfriend Dylan. 

Will Darcie ever find true love of her own? And is marrying Tori a terrible mistake for Spencer if his heart is with someone else? 

Kathryn - 2.5 Star

I’m glad I picked up this sequel to The Little Village Bakery and read is so soon after the first novel because a lot of the characters were brought into the next book and I felt the flow from one story to the next.  There’s something charming about the village and I like the camaraderie between the neighbours.  This time they are trying to help the owners of the village pub and all the villagers take turns doing a shift behind the bar to keep the place open.  I love that sense of community that Tennant so carefully places in her novels.

I was also pleased to be re-acquainted with my favourite character Jasmine who is still larger than life and made me laugh and despair despite her small role in the plot. I was happy to have busy-body Ruth back in the thick of things and she doesn’t fail to disappoint in her nosing her way into everyone’s affairs. I found myself frustrated at times though with Spencer and Tori’s relationship. Although I liked them both individually and even liked (or appreciated the position of) both their sets of parents I was irritated about their inconsistency. They really appeared to love each other, their mutual attraction was strong and they seemed to appreciate each other and yet they had had no discussion about their future plans and seemed to think throwing their very different histories together would be a good idea without some forward planning. As much of the novel centres round their to-ing and fro-ing I was a bit let down by the plot.

Overall though I like the setting of these books and I enjoy the various personalities but I think there is sometimes a lack of back story line (unless you happen to have read previous novels) and more could be made of the ongoing character development in each book.  Could just be me…

Thank you to Bookouture for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Tilly Tennant:
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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

All is not forgotten by Wendy Walker

5 Star

In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.

As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town - or perhaps lives among them - drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion. 

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

I know I have said this about a few books this year, but this is definitely one of the best thrillers of the season. It absolutely captivated me and I stayed up pretty late a few nights reading. I thought it would be pretty standard fare - girl gets attacked and what happens afterwards but it was anything but a straightforward story. One full of may surprises and shocks, I was truly impressed by the complexity of the story that this author developed and with such aplomb.

First, having a daughter myself, I could not imagine the horror of finding out your daughter had been attacked - and so brutally. It made me shudder as I know that physical violence and rape are sadly not uncommon and gave me pause. This story had many moments where it would cause me to reflect and ponder what I would do in the person's place.

I also very much enjoyed that the book skipped around, always keeping some element a bit hidden and making me wonder exactly what was going on. The only part of this that I found difficult was the fact that it took me awhile to figure out exactly who the narrator was. I think that was kind of the point but it was a bit annoying as I did not feel that it brought anything additional to the story.

Having never read anything by Wendy Walker before, she is certainly on my radar now!

Thank you to St Martin's Press for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Wendy Walker:

Saturday, December 3, 2016

What Happens at the Beach by T.A.Williams

5 Star

It’s finally time for Natalie Dryden to decide what she really wants! After ditching her sparkling engagement ring, and her ghastly fiancé, she jets off for the sun-kissed shores of Southern France – the only place that has ever truly felt like home. For the first time ever, Natalie is determined to forget all about men and follow her dreams!

…head to the French coast!

Only, avoiding the male population isn’t quite so easy, especially when she meets smooth-talking Philippe and gorgeous fisherman, Remy! But then Natalie, quite literally, bumps into brooding millionaire Mark whilst swimming in the glittering azure-blue bay – and her life is turned upside-down.

Love might be off the cards for Natalie, yet suddenly she finds herself in her dream job and working with her dream man! But is it all too good to be true…?

Kathryn - 5 Star

I’ve got a definite affinity for the works of T.A. Williams.  There is something about his writing that draws me in and keeps me captivated and it doesn’t seem to matter what type of story it is.  I first read What Happens in Tuscany which was more of a mystery novel.  What Happens at the Beach is more romantic.  In both novels though I felt entirely at home in the setting of the plot- I could feel the warmth of the sun, I could see the sparkle of the ocean and I could smell the scents of the countryside.

All very poetic- but actually the novels aren’t filled with endless description at all.  They are fast paced with good supporting voices and very likeable main characters.  In this novel we meet Natalie who has just left her fiancé and escaped to her grandmother’s home in France where she intends on getting her career on track and mending her heart.  Natalie’s grandmother is full of life, a delightful companion and someone I wish I could meet. She actually reminded me a bit of my own grandmother- perhaps this is why I was so comfortable with her.

With financial constraints she determines she’d best find a job (or two) while she sorts herself out. With her degrees having centred round a very specific moment of history she’s hard pressed to find a job that will suit so it seems wonderfully coincidental that someone writing a novel on her exact thesis subject should be living a few moments away from her grandmother’s home.

Romantic liaisons (with mixed results) end just the way it should so it’s bound to make every romantic happy.  Another delightful read, can’t wait to pick up the next one!

Thank you to Carina Press for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with T.A.Williams:


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