Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Giveaway, Excerpt, and Review of Hello Stranger (The Ravenels, #4) by Lisa Kleypas

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas delivers a scintillating tale of an unconventional beauty who finds passion with the spy who can’t resist her

A woman who defies her time
Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female physician in England, is as daring and independent as any man—why not take her pleasures like one? Yet she has never been tempted to embark on an affair, until now. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is as gallant as he is secretive, a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. For one exhilarating night, they give in to their potent attraction before becoming strangers again.

A man who breaks every rule
As a Ravenel by-blow spurned by his father, Ethan has little interest in polite society, yet he is captivated by the bold and beautiful Garrett. Despite their vow to resist each other after that sublime night, she is soon drawn into his most dangerous assignment yet. When the mission goes wrong, it will take all of Garrett’s skill and courage to save him. As they face the menace of a treacherous government plot, Ethan is willing to take any risk for the love of the most extraordinary woman he’s ever known.

He heard her muffled chuckle. She continued to lean against him while the trio of constables expressed sympathy for the unfortunate patient. Eventually the men departed with a chorus of hearty farewells. Ethan discovered that his other arm had stolen around Garrett. Making himself let go of her was like trying to uncoil a steel spring.
“You should go up to your father now,” he said with difficulty.
“Eliza will look after him while I take a few minutes to show you some slides. I have insect wings . . . pollen grains . . . flower petals . . . What would you like to see?”
“The inside of a hansom cab,” he said softly. “I can’t be alone with you, darlin’.”
Garrett touched the edges of his vest, fingers clamping on the thin leather. “Ethan.” A blush rose in her face, like light glowing through pink frosted glass. “I don’t want to end this. We . . . we could meet in secret, now and then. No one would have to know. We would make no claims on each other. We’ll just . . . do as we please.”
The way she fumbled with the words, so unlike her usual precise way of speaking, devastated Ethan. He could only guess what it cost her to lay open her pride like this. He wasn’t certain what she was offering, or even if she knew. Not that it mattered. He wanted, craved, needed anything she was willing to give. But he had to make her understand that it was impossible. And even if it were, the idea was beneath her.
“Have you had that kind of arrangement with a man before?” he brought himself to ask.
Her eyes were the green of deep summer and lush growing things. “I’m a woman who makes her own decisions and handles the consequences.”
“That means no,” Ethan said softly. At her silence, he continued, “You’d be risking your reputation. Your career.”
“Believe me, I understand that better than you.”
“Have you ever shared a bed with a man? Even once?”
“Why is that relevant?”
Her evasive response sent a pleasure-pang down to the pit of his stomach. “That means no,” he said again, his voice even softer than before. He took a slow breath, trying to steady himself, while his blood sang with the knowledge that she’d been waiting for him. She was meant to be his. God, he wanted her beyond any reckoning of earth or heaven. But her well-being mattered a thousand times more than his own desires.
“Garrett . . . I’m a man full o’ trouble. When I vowed to let nothing harm you, I included myself on that list.”
A frown crimped her forehead. She closed her grip on his vest until her fists were tight as pine knots. “I’m not afraid of you, or your trouble.” Her green eyes were narrowed and intent as she tugged him closer. “Kiss me,” she urged in a whisper.
“I have to go,” he said shortly, and pulled back while he was still able.
But Garrett moved with him, her hands reaching up to grip his head on either side, the way he’d taught her at Baujart’s. The strength of her fingers electrified him.
“Kiss me,” she commanded, “or I’ll break your nose.”
The threat startled a ragged laugh from him. He shook his head as he looked at her, this fearsomely capable woman who loved geese and was afraid of spaghetti, and could either wield a scalpel in a complex surgical procedure or use it as a throwing-knife.
 There had always been a cold streak in him, but he couldn’t seem to find it now, when he needed it most. He was breaking apart inside. He would never be the same after this.
“Christ, you’ve ruined me,” he whispered.
His arms went around her, one hand gripping the heavy silken mass of her braided chignon. She guided his head down, and he lost the battle, all his will vanquished as he began to kiss her as if the world were about to end.

For him, it was.

Lisa Kleypas
Connect with Lisa Kleypas on:
Facebook: @LisaKleypas
Twitter: @LisaKleypas
Instagram: @lisakleypas

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas graduated from Wellesley College with a political science degree. She is a RITA award winning author of both historical romance and contemporary women’s fiction. Her novels are published in fourteen different languages and are bestsellers all over the world. She lives in Washington State with her husband Gregory and their two children.

Title: Hello Stranger: The Ravenels, Book 4
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Ravenels (Book 4)
Format: Paperback; 496 pages
Publisher: HarperLuxe; Large Print edition (February 27, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062792113
ISBN-13: 978-0062792112
Author's Website: http://lisakleypas.com/
Notes: I received an ARC from the publisher for review purposes.

At a young age Garrett Gibson fell in love with science and decided to become a doctor. She believes there will always be people who will say your dreams are impossible, but they can't stop you unless you agree with them. When she was barred from studying in England, she studied abroad. She got her degree and went back to London and began practicing there. The only thing she thought she might never be able to have is a family of her very own. She believed no man would ever let her do what she does. When she meets the mysterious Ethan Ransom, however, she thinks maybe, just maybe, she was wrong...

Ethan Ransom has been fascinated with Garrett since the first time he met her. She's like no one else he's ever met. He's never really thought about marriage, but as he gets to know her there's something about her that keeps drawing him back. He has done things in his life that he's not proud of, but somehow he thinks Garrett may be the one person to accept him as he is--faults and all.
I will confess to being a huge fan of Lisa Kleypas. Of all the novels she writes I feel her historical romances are the most magical. My favorite types of historical romances delve into what life was really like for woman in historical times, and then creates a heroine that defies her station and manages to find a man who allows her to be true to herself.

Now you may think Ms. Kleypas stretched reality a bit by creating a female doctor for a book which takes place in the 1800's, but there was such a doctor at that time. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first female doctor in England, was the inspiration for Garrett Gibson. As a nod to the real life doctor, Ms. Kleypas used Elizabeth's maiden name for her character's first name. Garrett, of 'Hello Stranger', is a smart, strong, independent, and courageous woman. Taking a wild guess, I imagine her namesake couldn't have achieved what she did in the time period she lived if she didn't possess all those same qualities. I  recall a couple of years ago seeing information about Elizabeth Garrett Anderson in a Google Doodle celebrating her 180th birthday. I'm curious if that is what inspired the idea for this character in Ms. Kleypas' mind?

Ethan is a man of mystery, quite literally. He's a secret agent for the crown, although no one but a select few knows it. He is a very fun, smart, sexy, and complex individual with a lot of baggage. His first appearance in this book has him following Garrett. Now, this could be seen by some as being stalker like behavior, but I didn't get that vibe. He sees this beautiful woman entering time and time again a bad section of town at night to help out her patients and he wants ensure nothing bad to happens to her. He does his best to go unnoticed and lurks in the shadows. He never intends to make contact with her, but after three randy, drunk, young men plan to assault her, he takes action. I rather loved this, and I think it both charmed and maddened Garrett in equal measures.

The song that was playing in my mind was Johnny Rivers - Secret Agent Man from 1966...

'There's a man who leads a life of danger
To everyone he meets he stays a stranger
With every move he makes another chance he takes
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow
Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name'

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I absolutely loved it and all the little details Ms. Kleypas incorporated into the story. I felt I passed through a looking glass and came out in a different time period. There was plenty of suspense, drama, and romance with a couple of twists and turns thrown in. I rather enjoyed seeing these two get to know one another and fall in love. I adored how each saw marriage as something they dare not wish for, but secretly wanted. I also loved how each managed to help emotionally heal the other.  On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. I HIGHLY recommend this one.

Order of The Ravenels series by Lisa Kleypas:

Notes to keep you in the know:
Check out 'A Short History of Blood Transfusion' by Phil Learoyd. It mentions Dr. J. Roussell who  was the chief authority on blood transfusions in 1865 and whose invention, the Roussell transfuser, is mentioned in 'Hello Stranger'.

Check out this interview with Lisa Kleypas done by Entertainment. It discusses the creation of 'Hello Stranger'.

Check out the information that was provided by the Google Doodle back in 2016 on Elizabeth Garrett Anderson:

Buy a copy at one of the following book retailers:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mGsuAd
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/2mRfLvD
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2EQPLH5
Books-A-Million: http://bit.ly/2BckeNI
iBooks: https://apple.co/2DJ339o
GooglePlay: http://bit.ly/2rjQ37l

Open to those currently residing in the US
Books will be distributed by the publisher 
I am not responsible for lost or damaged prizes
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 26, 2018

True to You (Montana Heat #2) by Jennifer Ryan

Title: Montana Heat: True to YouMontana Heat: True to You
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Romantic Suspense
Series: Montana Heat (Book 3)
Format:  Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (February 27, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062645285
ISBN-13: 978-0062645289
Author's Website: http://jennifer-ryan.com/index.html
Notes: I received an eARC copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Agent Dawson King has spent the last five months undercover in the state prison. His mission is to create a cover which will get him close to the daughter of Iceman, one of the deadliest lieutenants of the Guzman drug cartel. Agent Dawson has a score to settle with the man because he tricked the DEA into doing his dirty work. He set up a rival cartel's son to be murdered by the DEA for which Dawson pulled the trigger.

What the DEA has on Cara, Iceman's daughter, suggests she wants nothing to do with the man. From time to time, however, he shows up at her shop and that makes their dealings suspicious. She has a soft spot for ex-cons trying to get their lives back on track and that is what the DEA hopes to exploit. She owns a coffee shop called the Crossroad Cafe where she gives ex-cons  a chance to earn an honest wage while providing food and lodging too. Everything in the DEA's files seems to suggest she has nothing to to with her father's shady dealings, but if she does, this could be Dawson's (who uses the undercover guise of Chris Hickman aka Flash) chance to gain the knowledge he needs to put the lowlife and the cartel out of business. The only problem is Cara.

Cara has learned the hard way not to trust people. She gives her employees one chance, and if the blow it, that's it. There are no second chances. She shies away from relationships, and keeps mostly to herself. When Dawson, however, walks into her cafe she knows her reserve is about to be tested. The man is hardworking, sinfully handsome, and unlike any of the other ex-cons she's hosted. She's not quite sure what to do with him, but she knows what she'd like to.
Jennifer Ryan never disappoints and this is another fast-paced, high-stakes, action-packed, roller coaster ride of a read with plenty of twists and turns and characters that seem to leap to life off the pages all centered around a plot that keep you glued to the pages. It's the second book of the Montana Heat series, and I think this one might be my favorite book of hers yet. You could possibly read this one as a standalone, but I suggest you read the first book to find out how Trigger and Ashley came to be a couple, and how Scott fits into everything.

Cara is a complex character as is her dad. Their relationship is rather twisted and just as complex as they are. There is a backstory that we eventually become privy to. Cara has all but written off her dad, but can't seem to get rid of the man.While some might wonder why she doesn't up and leave, she has her reasons.

Dawson is in a hard position. He's falling for Cara, but he has a job to do. He knows Cara hates lies, but to blow his cover could have dire consequences and ruin his mission. I loves seeing these two fall for one another and seeing their relationship grow. Dawson's been warned not to start up anything romantically with Cara, but eventually he can't seem to resist her. Likewise, Cara fears a relationship, but there is just something about Dawson that draws her to him.

Overall, I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. Action, drama, suspense, and romance--it's all in there--wrapped in a highly entertaining story that grabs's your attention right from the very beginning and doesn't let go. I absolutely adored it. If you haven't read one of Jennifer Ryan's books you're in for a treat. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. I definitely recommend this one.

Order of the Montana Heat series:

Saturday, February 24, 2018

My Once and Future Duke (The Wagers of Sin #1) by Caroline Linden

Title: My Once and Future Duke: The Wagers of Sin
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Wagers of Sin (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (February 27, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062672924
ISBN-13: 978-0062672926
Author's Website: http://www.carolinelinden.com/
Notes: I received an eARC loan in exchange for an honest review.

He was a duke attempting to stop his brother from gambling away the family fortune.
She was a young woman trying to make a living using her sharp mind and knowledge of cards.
He was the serious type, said to be dull and boring with his nose always in a ledger.
She was stubborn and would never apologize for trying to make it on her own. She even traded in her 'Miss' for a 'Mrs' to make it all seem more acceptable.
The two had nothing in common, but one night, one bet would change everything...

"I stake five thousand pounds." Sophie's mouth dropped open and the crowd buzzed with shock--and delight.(...) "One round each, played until loss..."(...)

The Duke's luck had been abominable, but that didn't mean her odds had improved. "Not tonight, sir," she said, with more than a tinge of regret. Better to keep the few hundred pounds she'd already won.

"You mistake me. You don't have to risk a farthing."(...) "One week of your company is what I want."
Don't you love it when a book lives up to its insanely gorgeous cover? Well, I'm happy to say 'My Once and Future Duke' does just that. This is looking to be one heck of a good series.

Sophie Graham makes her living by playing cards. She never cheats, loses graciously, and bets according to the odds. She always keeps in mind the number one rule of gaming--Easily won, easily lost and makes a special effort not to be the one responsible for another's ruin.

Sophie was orphaned by twelve and then thrown into finishing school by her grandfather. Upon her eighteenth birthday he cut off all funds and ties with her. While she could have taken up a position at her school, Sophie decided to take a gamble and play the odds--quite literally. Her plan is to make ten thousand pounds, thereby, guaranteeing her independence. That would be enough for her to live on.  Of course, if an eligible suitor presented himself, she would be open to that as well.

Vega club has since become her second home. They allow women to gamble and are rumored to have two simple rules--Pay your debts and hold your tongue. Unfortunately, with the bet Jack makes, the latter will not be upheld for the gossip is just too juicy.

Jack Lindeville, the Duke of Ware, is nothing like Sophie pictured. His brother Phillip had painted such a dreary picture of the man that she'd thought he'd be older and unattractive. What she finds is a man who is tall, golden-haired, with a face that might have been carved by Michelangelo, himself, so beautiful it was. Perhaps that is what spurs Sophie to throw caution to the wind with this man and accept his improper bet. That and the hope she'll win the five thousand pounds he wagered. It would be a substantial addition to her ever growing nest egg.

Jack has always been a paragon of virtue. He's concentrated most of his time and efforts into running the family estate and the land surrounding it. Making the outrageous bet is not like him, but there is something about Sophie that makes him forget himself. The attraction is mutual.

The song that played in my head while I was reading this one was Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler"...

'You got to know when to hold 'em,
Know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run.
You never count your money
When you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin'
When the dealing's done.'

Overall, I gave this one 4  1/2 out of 5 roses. This was one steamy, sexy, and fun read. While I loved the story, things got a little complicated with Jack's brother, Phillip. Then I wasn't too happy with Jack for a short time upon his and Sophie's returned to society after he absconded her to the family's country estate. Luckily, things were ironed out with Phillip, and Jack quickly redeemed himself in my eyes. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. A most enjoyable read.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Early Review of Indecent Exposure (The Academy #2) by Tessa Bailey

TitleIndecent Exposure: The Academy
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Academy (Book 2)
Format: Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (January 30, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062467107
ISBN-13: 978-0062467102
Author's Website: 
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Jack Garrett has one of the biggest egos you'll ever see. He thinks he's god's gift to woman. While some of it is well founded--he's gorgeous, will treat a woman right (for the one night he's with them), and a sweet talker--he's got his flaws. His main one is he doesn't do relationships. When a cute redhead with an Irish accent and a long standing fascination with organized crime doesn't instantly succumb to his charms, he becomes intrigued.

Katie McCoy is a straight laced, Catholic raised, Olympic gold medalist in the air rifle competition, and more proficient with fire arms than just about anyone else around. She's part of the Garda Emergency Response Unit, the elite Police Tactical Unit of the Garda Siochana, the national police force of Ireland. She's come to New York as part of the International Police Exchange Program and is looking forward to two weeks of freedom. For the past four years she's trained relentlessly for the Olympics under the thumb of her father. She's looking forward to finally living a little. She has a list of what she wants to do over the next two weeks and Jack is not on her agenda. When she finds out that he's going to be under her tutelage, along with the rest of his unit, for the next two weeks she feels a torrid love affair with this infuriatingly handsome man would be way too complicated. But maybe, just maybe it'd be worth it?
This is the second book in The Academy series and it can be read as standalone.You may, however, wish to read the first book because I believe it captured the friendship dynamic between Jack, Danika, and Charlie a little better. I'm having so much fun reading about this trio and watching them fall one by one. Charlie and Jack are a little rough around the edges but they're all heart. I look forward to reading more about Danika in the next book and Charlie's brother, lieutenant Burns.

My first impression of Jack was that he was way too cocky. As he opens up and reveals some of his inner demons, however, we learn there's more to this man than just another pretty face. He just doesn't know it. Katie inspires him to look deep inside himself and figure out what he wants out of life. No ones ever expected much out of he so he never expected much of himself. Katie, however, sees something no one but his friends have, and encourages him to become the man she knows he's capable of being. I rather liked that about her.

Katie turned out to be not quite what I first expected. While I figured she was smart and strong, she was tougher than I would have given her credit for when we're first introduced to her. Jack's reaction to the thought of her sporting fire arms had me laughing. The boy's got it bad at the beginning of this book, and I could just imagine the goofy grin lighting up his face as he thought about her. Katie is by no means a push over and refuses to settle. Jack has to come up to snuff because she'll accept nothing less. It's the way she was raised.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I liked how the author via Katie made Jack face up to his problem and get help. I also loved how Katie inspired him to be all that he could be. The two made a cute couple and I loved how the story didn't have that cookie cutter feel about it, and I found it surprisingly refreshing. Jack didn't win me over at the beginning but by the end, I simply adored him. On the Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a SHOWER rating--a cold shower is necessary (need I say more?). Some books should come with a warning--make sure your significant other is handy or your shower is in working order. 

Order of The Academy series:

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Early Review of Surrender to the Highlander (Highlanders, #5) by Lynsay Sands

Title: Surrender to the Highlander
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Highlander
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (January 30, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062468987
ISBN-13: 978-0062468987
Author's Webstie: http://www.lynsaysands.net/
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When Saidh MacDonnell hasn't heard from her good friend Edith in weeks, she asks her husband to have someone check on her. The last she'd heard Edith had been feeling poorly and Saidh fears the worst. Given that Saidh is four months pregnant and as big as a house, and the last messenger sent was refused entry, her husband complies. He asks Saidh's four brothers to go check on Edith. What Niels,  Rory, Alick, and Geordie find is not what they expected. Illness is not the culprit as everyone assumed. Someone has poisoned the Drummond clan leaving the Laird and his two eldest sons dead.The youngest son, thinking to escape the same fate, fled with his bride and hasn't been heard from since. Edith is holding on by a thread, and Neils and Rory vow they'll do all they can to nurse her back to health and make sure she comes to no more harm.

A killer is out there. 

An attraction blooms.

Can Edith resist the affections of the handsome Highlander with twinkling blue eyes who seems bent on saving her? Only time will tell...
This is the fifth book of Lysay Sands Highlander series and can be read as standalone. You may, however, wish to read 'The Highlander Takes a Bride', the third book in the Highlanders series which is Saidh's book, first. It will give you a little insight into Neils and his family along with a glimpse of the friendship between Saidh and Edith.

I really liked the mystery and whodunnit aspect of the book. I had it narrowed down to two people when the author killed off one of my suspects. It, of course, had to be the one I was leaning towards. I couldn't puzzle out the motive of the one left, however, so I thought perhaps I had it wrong until the author let the last puzzle piece fall conveniently into place. Then it all made sense.

Niels was a loyal and caring individual. He had to be talked in to checking on Edith, but once he found foul play involved, he was all in and fiercely protective. I liked how he and his brothers watched over Edith until she could take care of herself, and then didn't abandon her. They waited until the danger had passed before letting down their guard.

Edith was a smart and strong female who only broke down once in the novel. She went through a lot and instead of becoming a blubbering idiot she stayed on her toes and did what she could to help. She kept her head and put up a good defense when confronted with danger. While I liked this aspect of her, I felt she should have been at least a little more upset about her family's demise than she was. A few "I can't believe they're gone" type of moments seemed to be called for. Her lack of emotions where they were concerned just seemed a little off.

Niels and Edith were a cute couple. I loved how Niels felt he wasn't worthy of Edith because he was a third son and didn't have a lot to offer her. He was quite noble and tried to resist his feelings for her while she did everything in her power to tempt him. The courtship of these two gave me a good chuckle.

Overall, I liked the book and gave it 4 out of 5 roses. It showcased Ms.Sand's quirky sense of humor and lovable characters. It was fairly fast paced, and had a nice mixture of gravity and levity, romance and mystery, and darkness and light. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Order of the Highlanders series:

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Giveaway and Review for About That Kiss (Heartbreaker Bay #5) by Jill Shalvis

About That Kiss (Heartbreaker Bay #5) by Jill Shalvis 
When love drives you crazy . . .

When sexy Joe Malone never calls after their explosive kiss, Kylie shoves him out of her mind. Until she needs a favor, and it’s a doozy. Something precious to her has been stolen and there’s only one person with unique finder-and-fixer skills that can help—Joe. It means swallowing her pride and somehow trying to avoid the temptation to throttle him—or seduce him.

the best thing to do . . .

No, Joe didn’t call after the kiss. He’s the fun time guy, not the forever guy. And Kylie, after all she’s been through, deserves a good man who will stay. But everything about Kylie makes it damned hard to focus, and though his brain knows what he has to do, his heart isn’t getting the memo.

… is enjoy the ride.
As Kylie and Joe go on the scavenger hunt of their lives, they discover surprising things about each other. Now, the best way for them to get over “that kiss” might just be to replace it with a hundred more.

Joe studied her. “I asked you once before, but now I’m going to ask you again. Is there something going on between you two?”

She tossed up her hands. “Why do you both keep asking me that about each other?”

His eyes narrowed. “I thought nothing was going on.”

“And before today, I could’ve passed a lie detector test on that,” she said.

“What happened today?”

She paused. Not because she had anything to be ashamed of, but because she wasn’t quite sure what
had happened.


She sighed. “It’s nothing.”

“Try again,” Joe said and gave her the very male universal go on gesture.

She rolled her eyes. “Fine. He . . . finally made a move on me.”

Joe didn’t budge. Not a blink, not a muscle twitch, nothing, but she could’ve popped corn off the electric tension coming off him.

“Describe ‘made a move,’ ” he finally said.

She crossed her arms. “And again, how is this relevant to my case?”

He just gave her that careful stare again and she thought wow, those eyes of his should be registered as a lethal weapon, because she found herself opening her mouth and spilling her guts. “He kissed me.”

“He kissed you.”

“Yeah,” she said. “Do you know that you often repeat what I say?”

“What kind of a kiss?” he asked.

She was momentarily bewildered. “I don’t know. It was a kiss. A normal kiss. A nice kiss.” She cocked her head at him. “How many kinds of kisses are there?”

He just looked at her for a long moment before coming toward her. He backed her to the wall and pressed his big hands on either side of her head.

“There are many kinds of kisses,” he said.

Her breath had backed up in her throat, where her heart had lodged, pounding wildly. “S-s-such as?”

“Such as this one.” And then he leaned in and covered her mouth with his.
At the touch of Joe’s mouth, Kylie’s brain stopped being capable of rational thought. His tongue gave a knee-weakening stroke against hers and she let out a shockingly needy moan as she clutched at him, fisting her hands in the material of his shirt at his chest. Only when he’d thoroughly plundered and pillaged and left her boneless did he lift his head and
look into her eyes.

“Wow,” she whispered, fully aware she was still holding on to him like he was a lifeline, but the bones in her legs had liquefied. “I mean . . .” She shook her head. “Wow.”

He nodded. “Yeah. So to be clear, that wasn’t ‘a normal kiss’ or even ‘a nice kiss.’ It was a ‘wow’ kiss. Any questions?”

“Just one,” she said softly. “Can I have another?”

Joe didn’t have to be asked twice. His mouth immediately descended again, his fingers sliding into her hair to change the angle of the kiss to suit him. It was a controlled, alpha thing to do, but she had only one thought—nothing about the usually carefully, purposely leashed Joe was in control at the moment.

And she liked it.

She had no idea how long they went at it because she was in absolute heaven. Who knew that the man could use his preferred silent mode to communicate in a way that she finally approved of?

Only when she was completely breathless and about to strip him down to his birthday suit did she manage to pull back.

“Any more questions?” he asked, also a little bit breathless, which was more than slightly gratifying. Dumbly, she shook her head. His eyes softened and he gently he stroked his thumb over her bottom lip. “And FYI? Gib’s an idiot.”

Jill Shalvis
Connect with her on:
Facebook: @JillShalvis
Twitter: @JillShalvis
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jillshalvis/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jillshalvis/

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website, www.jillshalvis.com, for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

Title: About That Kiss: A Heartbreaker Bay Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Heartbreaker Bay
Fomat: Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (January 23, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062741772
ISBN-13: 978-0062741776
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Once upon a time a girl and a guy fell in love, but it took a while. He didn't think he was the relationship type. She was a quiet introvert who didn't open up all that easily. Then a family heirloom goes missing and the two team up to find it. So after trying to deny it, and attempting to avoid it, they finally give in and fall and it all started with a kiss. A heat scorching, heat pounding, bone-melting, world rocking kiss. 

About that kiss...
This past year Jill Shalvis was given the Centennial Award by RWA for the publication of her 100th novel. With each book she seems to up her game, and this one is something special. It's another fun loving, sweet-hearted, sexy as all get out romance with a little mystery thrown into to the mix and a whole lot of depth. It seems like Jill is spreading her wings and tackling some harder subjects. I wouldn't be surprised if this one gets nominated for a RITA. In my humble opinion, it was that good. This is the fifth book of the Heartbreaker Bay series and it can definitely be read as a standalone. Be forewarned, however, it's hard to stop with just one of her novels. They tend to be very addictive.

Kylie reminded me of a cross between Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy and Stephanie Plum from Janet Evanovich's series by the same name. As you read about all her attempts to disguise herself, you can't help but get an amused look on your face. Her attempts had me chuckling and shaking my head in equal measure. I'm thinking she watched one too many humorous detective shows (somehow Scooby-Doo comes to the forefront) and thought detective work was much easier than it is. She's actually very talented and artistic when it come to woodworking, which kind of runs in the family. She should definitely stick with that.

Joe reminded me a bit of Ranger of the Stephanie Plum series. He's gorgeous, has a dangerous air about him, and is all alpha male. He works for a private investigation service and Kylie makes him laugh which is something no one else seems capable of doing. To her he seems to be one big contradiction from head to toe. Badass and ready to save the world one minute, deceptively playful the next. He's got a lot of emotional baggage and his dad isn't exactly the kind of person you want to bring your friends home to. His dad suffers from PTSD and isn't the easiest person to deal with. His dad has a tendency to answer the door with a gun in his hand, and you are never quite sure whether or not he'll use it. Joe's dad's illness led to him and his sister growing up fast and hard after their mother died. At the tender age of ten he'd assumed the parental role of the family.

At first glance, Kylie and Joe seem like complete opposites, but they actually do share something in common. Each is haunted by something in their past. This is where the depth in the story comes from. Each needs to work through their feelings of guilt in order to move on, and together they do just that.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. It was a fun, witty, heart warming and emotionally moving romance. I loved watching these two fall for one another, and their chemistry was so hot I thought my e-reader would spontaneously combust. This one had a little sugar and spice and a whole lot of hot and steamy nights cause that's what good romances are made of. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. I simply adored it.

Order of the Hearbreaker Bay series:

(One Snowy Night and Holiday Wishes are Novellas)

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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Early Review of Markswoman (Asiana #1) by Rati Mehrotra

Title: Markswoman (Asiana #1)
Classification: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
Series: Asiana (Book 1)
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager (January 23, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062564544
ISBN-13: 978-0062564542
Author's Website: https://ratiwrites.com/
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Therefore, all quotes must be checked against the final copy as they are subject to change.

"May you Walk on water and pass through fire..."

Centuries ago there was a war to end all wars--The Great War. Not much is left from the time period known as the golden age. Much of the structures are gone, and the rule of Kings and Queens has long since passed. No texts survived and knowledge of the technology was lost to the sands of time. Asiana had to be rebuilt from the ground up using whatever scraps and pieces the survivors could find and salvage.

"To live we must die, and to rule we must serve, and to uphold the peace we must kill..."

Asiana was divided into five sections. Each one ruled and policed by one of the five Orders of Peace--Kali, Zorya, Valavan, Mat-su and Khur. All the Orders, save one, are run entirely by women known as the Markswomen. The exception is the Order of Khur, the youngest of all the Orders. It is the only one comprised entirely of men--the Marksmen. The Orders were formed upon the recommendations made in texts written at the end of the Great War by the last ruling King of Asiana. Known as the Kanun of Ture-asa, it bound all the clans and established the law of the land.

"The katari belongs to you. But you need to make sure that your emotions don't rule your blade."

Markswomen and Marksmen are the highly trained force who mete out justice and the only ones legally allowed to kill. With each kill they mark their skin with a cut, hence, their name. Inner Speech is the gift of kalishium which is what the Markswomen's/Marksmen's katari's are made from. A Markswoman bonds telepathically with their weapon and when properly trained, they can read and control other people's minds and actions. The deeper the bond, the greater the ability.

"We must remember who we kill and why. Our blood for theirs."

One young Markswoman will seek justice for the Mahimata (the leader) of her Order whom she believes met her end by foul play. In doing so she will come to find her path in the world, and come to understand what her beloved friend and mentor had tried to teach her and why.

"Being a Markswoman is not about taking revenge. If you kill in anger, you are no better than the ones you execute."

The Orders have worked for over eight hundred years, but the world changes with time and so must everyone along with it. It is whispered that the power of the Orders is beginning to fade. Kyra's quest for justice will make her begin to question the way of the Orders, and lead her on a different path than the one she planned. Her quest will bring about the winds of change.

"Let the past be what it is. Let the future bring what it will. Stay in the present. Be aware of yourself and who you are. It is all that matters."

I really liked this story. It took me some time to get into because there is a whole lot to this universe, so it took me awhile to get acclimated. Gradually, we learn more about Asiana and the Orders of Peace as Kyra completes her final test before being formerly accepted into the sisterhood of Markswomen. Kyra is one of the youngest in the Order of Kali and we get to see her earn her first mark. She's lived with the Order since the age of five when her family and entire clan was murdered. Kyra found her place in the Order, and can't imagine not being part of it. When the leader of her Order is found dead, a women who was very much like a mother to Kyra, she believes foul play is involved, especially since the person she suspects of doing it will become Shirin Mam's successor. Kyra quickly disengages herself from the Order on the ruse of seeking out the rightful heir to Shirin Mam's katari. The journey that ensues takes her on one of discovery. She learns things about herself, the Orders, and her teacher. It helps her to see things more clearly and ready her for what is to come.

You see, when Kyra left on her quest, she was marked a defector. In order for her to go home she'll need to challenge the new Mahimata to a duel. Prior to Tamsyn's promotion to Mahimata, she was the Order's Mistress of Mental Arts and the Hand of Kali--Shirin Mam's executioner of choice. No one dares challenge Tamsyn because of her fierce reputation with her blade. Luckily, when Kyra finds herself literally at the door of the Order of Khur, they take her in and agree to train her so she'll have a chance at beating Tamsyn. It's there that she'll learn things that have been kept from her and realize the importance of Shirin Mam's teachings, and start to question some of the practices of the Orders.

The katari blades reminded me a little of the Shardblades in Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive series. The Orders with their 'good vs evil' mentality and mind bending skills reminded me a touch of the Jedi of Star Wars fame. The references to the 'Ones' had me a little baffled. Who exactly are they, where did they come from, and what, if any, role did they play in the coming about of the Great War? Those questions have yet to be answered. Then there are the doors which appear to be remnants of the technology from the world long since destroyed. They seem to be passageways not only to other places in Asiana, but are they also a means to travel through time? I found these very cool yet also very confusing. I hope at some point how they work will be more fully explained. They kind of reminded me of the movie Arrival and how things seemed to get a little out of sequence (time wise) and you needed to figure out how they fit together.

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I loved the relationships in this tale especially the one blooming between Kyra and Rustan, and look forward to seeing how this love affair will grow. There were quite a few interesting twists and turns which kept me glued to the pages once I settled into the story. The world building was phenomenal, although we've only seen a small portion of it. The series is shaping up to be something special, but I was left with a lot of unanswered questions. The author seeded the story with so many puzzle pieces that, as of yet, don't quite fit together though we're starting to see the edges of it take shape. It's the type of story that gives your imagination lease to run wild and try to puzzle it out before the next book. I'm guessing this was a ploy by the author to keep my interest piqued until the next installment comes out. Depending on how those questions are answered and how things are explained and handled, this series could become one of my favorites. I'm cautiously optimistic that that will be the case, but we'll have to wait and see where the author takes it. I look forward to seeing if any of my hypotheses are correct.

Notes to keep you in the know...
There seems to be a touch of concepts from the Hindu religion woven into the story...

Mahimata is a term which literally means Mother Earth.

Kali is a goddess in the Hindu religion known as the Goddess of destruction. Said by some to be the destroyer of evil forces and by others the destroyer of ego. She is also known and worshiped for being the Divine Mother or Mother of the Universe. She is also hailed by some to be a protector and the one who bestows moksha, or liberation.

To find out more. check out these links:
Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kali
Ancient History Encyclopedia - https://www.ancient.eu/Kali/

There also seems to be a little buddhism woven in too...

The wheel of life with eight spokes is primarily used only in Buddhism and is often times referred to as the wheel of Dharma. The eight spokes represent the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism which are said to (depending on where you look) lead either to spiritual enlightenment, Nirvana, or pain relief.
To find out more. check out these links:

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