Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester

Title:  The Paris Seamstress
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Forever (September 18, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1538714779
ISBN-13: 978-1538714775
Author's Website:  https://www.natashalester.com.au/
Notes:  I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

The year is 1940, and Paris is poised for invasion. Estella Bissette is a seamstress with aspirations of one day becoming a name brand designer. When she comes across her employer on the verge of death, he asks for her help and that one simple request will change the course of her life...

“Take these,” he whispered, passing Estella a small bundle, “to the Théâtre du Palais-Royal. Please. For Paris. Find l’engoulevent—the nightjar. You can trust him.”

When she tells her mother what happened she sends Estella packing and puts her on the last boat out of Paris to America. It appears Estella got herself caught in the middle of something dangerous, and secrets appear to be rampant in Paris. Estella's mother never told her that she, Estella, was born in America, but she has the papers to prove it. And Monsieur Aumont? He was part of a spy network that Estella has unknowingly gotten mixed up in.

Alone and in America, Estella's future is uncertain. Will she ever see her mother again? Will she ever find out where her roots lie? Will she ever feel safe again? Only time will tell...
This book is a standalone novel. It toggles between the past and the present, between a grandmother's point of view (Estella's) and granddaughter's (Fabienne's). The primary goal of each, in the end, is to discover who they are and where their roots lie. This journey brings up the question should a person's lineage ever be withheld from them?  Are there certain circumstances in which it may be for the best? Here's some food for thought, the mother of a friend of mine never knew who her father was. Her mother, my friend's grandmother, refused to tell her. At one point she was told he was a famous baseball player, and that she was the result of a one night stand or short lived relationship (I can't quite remember which) with him. Back then there were no DNA tests so it would have been hard to prove, so it was a plausible story. After my friend's mom got the baseball player to agree to be tested she found out he wasn't her father. This led to more questions. I kept racking my brain as to why someone would withhold the information. My thoughts went a little something like this.."What if he's someone no one would want for a father or in their family tree? What if he was married? What if her mother wasn't the result of a willing liaison? What if the truth would be worse than not knowing?" It truly does make one wonder, and that is what added a touch of mystery to the whole experience,

My first thought after finishing this novel was, "Wow." My mind was reeling from all there was to take in, and I found the story very thought provoking. This would make for a good book club read. It is not a book that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy after reading. It's a story filled with situations and people that will make you feel uneasy, shake your head, and perhaps question how things could have been handled differently. On the flip side, there are also characters that show you strength, perseverance, and give you hope. It shows we have the power, to some extent, over our own destiny. It shows how a seemingly innocent act can have dire consequences. It shows while the sins of our fathers can at times stain or taint us, they do not define us, and are not our own. We have the power to rise above them or let them bring us down. It shows us how until we've walked in another's shoes, we really can't judge them. We don't know what they've been through or why they act as they do. This novel also emphasizes how bad things happen to good people and how bad people sometimes don't get what they deserve. Unfortunately, life just isn't always fair. You have the power to determine how you respond to others, and how you will let their actions influence and shape you. It also illustrates how sometimes you have to be your own hero.

Some of my favorite quotes:
- "He always said it wasn't love if you wouldn't give up everything for the other. Otherwise it was just a flame, not worth the candle it was lit upon."

- "Loving can hurt spectacularly, but it can also heal."

- "Love is like toile," Estella said, "The pattern on which one's whole life is shaped. But nobody see the toile, or knows it ever existed. Nobody understands that, without it, nothing can be fashioned."

- "Young people are so arrogant about time. You seem to think there's an infinite amount, an excess, that age will never come for you. It will." 

- "The prospect of death changed everything, made all the ordinary rules of restraint and politeness fall away, made beautiful moments into precious keepsakes, made the future, once taken for granted, seem extraordinary."

- "Why don't you start dating again?" Estella asked suddenly.(...)
  "I'm married, remember," Janie said.
  "I mean dating your husband," Estella said, sitting back on her heels, removing the pins from her mouth and sticking them into the cushion on her wrist. "Fall in love with him. Make him fall in love with you. Go out. Seduce one another. Learn everything there is to know."

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. It was an intricate story with parallels and juxtapositions woven throughout that stirred many emotions. I liked how the backdrop of WWII which emphasized part of what was happening in the story. I enjoyed the clever use of sisters to show how the actions of one can shape and alter the lives of others--sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. I also liked seeing how you can forge your own path, and come out of a bad situation being true to yourself while turning things around. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees and a fan would be nice.  I definitely recommend this one just be warned there are some situations which are discussed that are violent to women.

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Black Khan (The Khorasan Archives #2) by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Title: The Black Khan: Book Two of the Khorasan Archives
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Khorasan Archives (Book 2)
Format: Paperback; 496 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager (October 16, 2018)
ISBN-10: 9780062459206
ISBN-13: 978-0062459206
ASIN: 0062459201
Author's Website: http://www.ausmazehanatkhan.com/
Notes: I received a copy of the ARC from the publisher.

The land of Khorasan is slowly being overtaken piece by piece by a powerful and volatile group known as the Talisman. They are led by a man known as the One-Eyed Preacher. Arian has been tasked with finding the Bloodprint so she and the other Companions of Hira can protect themselves and the people of Khorasan from the deadly intentions of the Talisman.

Rumor has it that verses from the Bloodprint, the oldest written compilation of the Claim, are being sold letter by letter. The Claim is a magical text written in an ancient language whose verses, when spoken, have the power to make things happen. It's from the Claim that the Companions of Hira gain their power. The search to find the Bloodprint, however, has cost Arian and her friends greatly. Arian now finds herself at the mercy of the Authoritan, the ruler of North Khorasan, and each of her friends have found themselves captives of the Ahdath, the suicide warriors of the Wall, at one time or another. Betrayal, lies, and deceit all play a role in this intricate game for power and survival. To survive, Arian and her friends will need to save themselves, and then maneuver a precarious power struggle where the lines between friend and foe are often times blurred.
This book picks up where the last novel, 'The Bloodprint', left off. If you haven't read 'The Bloodprint.' then I HIGHLY recommend that you do. You'll be lost if you go into this one without the knowledge you'll pick up in the previous novel. There is quite a lot going on in this series.

'The Black Khan' is a very dark story with most of the violence in it geared towards women. This novel centers on the Black Khan, the current ruler of West Khorasan. My opinion of him was not all that high going into 'The Black Khan'. I personally felt there were no redeemable qualities to this ruler especially after what he did to Arian in the last book. Suffice to say, I intensely disliked the man and would never trust him. My opinion, after reading this book has not changed. Besides being a ruler he is also the Dark Mage, but it appears he hasn't fully come into his powers or at least doesn't know how to use them. He is desperate to save his kingdom and prove himself which seems to impair his judgment. The bits revealed about his backstory were interesting, but I can't help but wonder if the book had been told from his point of view, and we'd been able to get inside his head if that opinion would have changed? Additionally, I wonder how exactly the Mages gain their powers. It appears there may be a familial link involved, but I'm not altogether sure about that. I wish the author would have explored this a little more in the novel.

Arian is still my favorite character. I have to admit I kept wondering why Arian gave her trust so easily. I kept wanting to ask her why she would trust someone who has betrayed her, and it happened time and time again. It was painful to watch her being taken down so low in this novel, but it made the moment when she reclaimed her power all the more sweet. I would love to know more about how the Claim works. There just isn't a lot revealed about this ancient language. I'd love to know where it came from and why it died out.

Overall. I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. I love the overall story, but there was just so much violence and the treatment of women was deplorable. It was hard to get through the first couple hundred pages or so of the book because of it. I could see why Arian would be so passionate in her crusade to stop the Talisman, but I believe the Talisman are not the only ones who need to be stopped. I'm beginning to believe something a little more drastic is in order such as a restructuring of the government or an overthrow of the present monarchies. I look forward to seeing how all this plays out because Arian and crew have their work cut out for them.

Order of The Khorasan Archives:

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Cowboy Honor (Longhorn Canyon #2) by Carolyn Brown

Title: Cowboy Honor (Longhorn Canyon)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Cowboy
Series: Longhorn Canyon (Book 2)
Format: Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Forever (September 25, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1538744880
ISBN-13: 978-1538744888
Author's Website: https://www.carolynbrownbooks.com/
Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Claire Mason and her niece, Zaylie, got caught in a unexpected blizzard in Texas. Their car is totaled and not being able to use her cell phone, they decide to take shelter in a cabin they find not far from where their car crashed. The cabin is unlocked, has some food supplies, blankets, and beds. When the owner's foreman shows up the next day, she's not sure if he's friend or foe, so she greets the tall, handsome cowboy in a most unwelcoming way...

Levi Jackson is the foreman of the Longhorn Canyon Ranch and handles himself well in a crisis. That talent comes in mighty handy when he decides to take refuge in one of the ranch's cabins after his truck runs out of gas in the middle of a snowstorm. As he walks in the door, he's finds himself looking down the barrel of a loaded gun pointed straight at him. After calming the young woman at the end of it down, he finds himself intrigued by the feisty beautiful young woman. Levi's never been one to do relationships, but there's something about this woman that calls to him.

They say things happen for a reason. Could this be the start of something that was meant to be? Only time will tell.
If I had to sum this book up in one word it would have to be sweet. It was a sugary sweet romance  with an extra cherry on top. The extra cherry being the bonus story by Katie Lane (which I'll review at a later time). 'Cowboy Honor' is the second book of the Longhorn Canyon series, and you can definitely read it as a standalone. Not a lot is revealed about 'Cowboy Bold,' the first book in the series, other than the obvious--that Retta and Cade fall in love. I have to admit, however, after reading 'Cowboy Honor', I may need to get my hands on the first.

Claire is an independent woman who tends to put other's needs in front of her own. She cares for her young niece, Zaylie, when her brother is deployed or on a mission. Her sister-in-law died when Zaylie was only one,  making things difficult for her brother. Luckily, Claire is self employed which makes it easy for her to help out. Claire has an Etsy business where she sells quilts, and now makes more money than she did on her teacher's salary.

Levi was adopted at an early age by his parents. He pretty much grew up on the ranch with Cade and Justin Maguire. They inherited the Longhorn Canyon Ranch from their parents. The three of them are as close as brothers. Levi's father used to be the ranch's foreman and now Levi's inherited the position. Levi loves animals and, in another life, he might have been a vet, but for now he tends to the ranch and its animals taking in the occasional stray and/or hurt animal now and then. He's never been in a long term relationship, but something about Claire makes him think maybe it's time he settled down.

Overall, I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. This was a very sweet romance. Levi and Claire made a cute couple, and I loved how insecure Levi felt at times when he was in her presence. The opening scene was truly fun and was a great start for the book. Zaylie, Claire's niece, tended to steal the show a little from these two, but she was adorable and I enjoyed it nonetheless. I would have liked a hurdle or two to have popped up in their way because I tend to like a little more drama and tension between the two main characters in a romance, but it was still a lovely story. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees and a fan would be nice. 

Order of the Longhorn Canyon series:

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Giveaway. Excerpt, and Review of Hot Winter Nights (Heartbreaker Bay, #6) by Jill Shalvis

Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis

Who needs mistletoe?

Most people wouldn’t think of a bad Santa case as the perfect Christmas gift. Then again, Molly Malone, office manager at Hunt Investigations, isn’t most people, and she could really use a distraction from the fantasies she’s been having since spending the night with her very secret crush, Lucas Knight. Nothing happened, not that Lucas knows that—but Molly just wants to enjoy being a little naughty for once . . .

 Whiskey and pain meds for almost-healed bullet wounds don’t mix. Lucas needs to remember that next time he’s shot on the job, which may be sooner rather than later if Molly’s brother, Joe, finds out about them. Lucas can’t believe he’s drawing a blank on his (supposedly) passionate tryst with Molly, who’s the hottest, smartest, strongest woman he’s ever known. Strong enough to kick his butt if she discovers he’s been assigned to babysit her on her first case. And hot enough to melt his cold heart this Christmas.

It took Lucas Knight longer than it should have to realize he had a woman in his bed, but to be fair, he had a bitch of a hangover. Even worse than that, last night was a blur, prompting him to take quick stock. One, there was a bundle of sweet, soft curves against him. Two, his head was currently threatening to secede from the United States Of Lucas. And three, his side hurt like … well, like he’d been shot.

It’d been two weeks since he’d gotten caught in some crossfire on the job and he hadn’t yet been cleared for more than light duty – something he’d obviously managed to ignore last night given that he was palming a nice, warm, feminine ass.

Think, man.

Straining his brain, he remembered taking a pain med before going to O’Riley’s Pub to meet up with some friends. A client had been there, someone he’d recently helped save from a multi-million dollar corporate espionage. The guy had ordered shots to toast to Lucas and … shit. Knowing better than to mix pain meds and alcohol, he’d hesitated, but everyone had been waiting on him, glasses hoisted in the air. Thinking just one shot couldn’t hurt anything, he’d knocked back the drink.

Clearly, he’d been wrong and it’d been enough to mess him up big time, something he hadn’t been in years, not since his brother Josh had been killed. Shoving that away for another time – or never -- Lucas cracked open one eye, but when his retina was stabbed by a streak of sunlight glaring in through the window, he immediately slammed it shut it again. Taking a deep breath, he told himself to suck it up and opened both eyes this time, learning two additional facts.

He was naked and completely uncovered.

And the woman snugged up at his side was rolled up in his comforter like a burrito.

What. The. Hell.

Jill Shalvis

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.

You can connect with Jill at the following:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JillShalvis/
Twitter: @JillShalvis

Title: Hot Winter Nights: A Heartbreaker Bay Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Heartbreaker Bay
Format: Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (September 25, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062741837
ISBN-13: 978-0062741837
Author's Website: http://jillshalvis.com/
Notes: I received and eARC loan in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes used will need to be checked against the final version as ARCs are subject to change.

Two weeks ago Lucas Knight was shot on the job. He's doing better, but is still on painkillers. When he goes to the local bar and has a drink with a client he soon realizes mixing his meds with alcohol is a tremendous mistake. He doesn't remember a thing beyond having the drink, and wakes up to find himself in bed with the one person who has always been off limits to him--his best friend's little sister, Molly.

He is so dead.

Molly Malone and Lucas have always gotten along, and while there's always been chemistry between them neither has ever acted upon it. Molly's not looking for a relationship, but there's something about Lucas that makes her mind occasionally wander in that direction, if only for a night. When she accompanies him home after a late night at the bar, she can't help but tease him the next morning even though nothing really happened...

"I'm not going to rate your performance last night."

"That's not--" He paused, his eyes sharpened.  "Wait, what does that mean?"


"So you're saying I did suck." 

She had to laugh. "Well, if you can't remember it, how good could it really have been, right?"

She is going to milk this one for all it's worth.
If you've never read a Jill Shalvis novel you are in for a real treat. Her stories are filled with plenty of  humor, lightheartedness. chemistry, sexy scenes, and characters you'll wish were real so you could befriend them. Her books always make me smile, and if you need a little pick-me-up, her stories tend to deliver. This is the sixth book of the Heartbreaker Bay series, but it can be read as a standalone. Be forewarned, however, her novels are a bit addictive, and it's hard to stop at just one.

I don't know where Ms. Shalvis gets her ideas, but this one was devilishly delicious. I devoured it in one sitting and it left me eagerly awaiting the next book. I couldn't help but like Molly, and sympathize with her desire to get out from beneath her brother's protective thumb and prove herself. She's smart, resourceful, and able to take care of herself despite her brother's beliefs to the contrary. I loved watching as Lucas really begins to see her for who she is--an excellent investigator. He stands fully behind her never doubting she is up for the challenge their undercover operations require. He doesn't try to takeover when she takes on a case against her brother's wishes. He just lets her know he's got her back if she needs it--and backup is something every good undercover investigator (whether male or female) needs. 

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. It was a fun, humorous, sexy, and highly enjoyable read. I adored Lucas, and the way he treated and handled Molly. The chemistry between these two was scorchingly hot. I loved how these two managed to knock down the barriers each had erected around their hearts, put their very different fears aside, and take a chance on love. As more and more stories are added to this series, you get the sense of a real community coming together. While the books don't build upon one another, if you read all them you'll see the bonds and connections between the characters begin to build and grow.  I rather enjoy that. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a 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 Heartbreaker Bay series:

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Early Review of Last Night with the Earl (The Devils of Dover #2) by Kelly Bowen

Title: Last Night With the Earl
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Devils of Dover (Book 2)
Format: Paperback; 464 pages
Publisher: Forever (September 25, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1478918594
ISBN-13: 978-1478918592
Author's Website: http://www.kellybowen.net/home.html
Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

It's been six years since Eli Dawes has been home or contacted anyone from there. In that time he's lost friends, suffered war wounds, healed (at least outwardly), and recently found out his father has passed away. Now he's reluctantly come home to claim his family title, or maybe not. He'll have to decide soon because someone is pushing to have him declared legally dead. The first thing he decides he's going to do is go to his family's country estate where he can sort things out. Thinking not to wake or bother any of the staff that might be in residence at the late hour in which he arrives, he uses the window he used to sneak in and out of as a teen, and finds himself in an unusual position---The only woman he's ever found himself extremely attracted to, but could never have, catches him off guard when he finds himself with a knife at his neck...

Rose Hayward is not the same person she was five years ago. She's suffered the heartless betrayal of her fiance, lived through the ridicule and scorn of the ton, and lost both her parents as well as the wealth she and her siblings believed their family to have had. After essentially being put through an emotional wringer, she proceeded to pick herself up, dust herself off, and make a lucrative living doing something that would surely set the ton's tongues a wagging if it were ever revealed. She's not the naive young girl she once was, and when she finds Eli Dawes sneaking around in her rented studio it takes some convincing for her to believe it's him. It'll take even more to convince her he played no role in her fall from grace within the ton. For six years she's believed he had a hand in her fiance's cruel treachery, but did he? As she begins begins to drill him with questions about the past it becomes apparent she may have misjudged him.

"We see whom we want to see. What we want to see. And nothing is more heartbreaking than the death of an illusion."
This is the second book of The Devils of Dover series, but it can be read as a standalone. Rose is the younger sister of Clara, the heroine in the first book of the series, 'A Duke in the Night'. While Clara and August (the Hero of 'A Duke in the Night') make an appearance in this book, this story doesn't give away any spoilers from their book other than they end up together (which is a given for any book labeled a romance so its really not a spoiler). You also won't feel lost, but you'll most likely want to get your hands on that first book in the series because Ms. Bowen's tales have a way of drawing you in and leaving you wanting more. So be forewarned.

Rose is a strong, fiercely independent, loyal, passionate individual who is very mistrusting of Eli, and for good reason. Six years ago Eli, her fiance, and two of their friends joined the war leaving havoc and mayhem in their wake destroying hopes, dreams, reputations, and lives. She'd grown harder and mistrusting from the whole experience,  but she'd also risen above it and reinvented herself. In the process, she'd also managed to do something to help others. Rose is an exceptional artist who sees below the surface. Her paintings can help build a person's confidence and self esteem by showing them their inner and outer beauty. She also does the occasional risque painting to pay the bills, but both her and her clients keep things very discreet and thus far her secret is safe. While her scars may not be visible, they're no less real than Eli's.

Eli Dawes, the fourteenth Earl of Rivers, hadn't planned on ever going home again after the war. Because of his absence, many had presumed he'd died. He'd been badly injured and disfigured during the war, but that wasn't why he'd never returned. When he'd set out on what he'd believed to be a "grand" adventure, his father had threatened to disown him and said he'd never take back if he went. Eli had believed him and had never returned. He'd been naive back then and hadn't understood what war was like nor fully understood the ramifications of his choice. During his time as a soldier, he'd seen men at their finest and at their worst. He'd grown up in the fastest and most unpleasant way possible and now understood what was important. The once handsome and carefree playboy was gone. A more serious and conscientious man took his place. When he comes across Rose again, the spark that had once flared is still there, but with so much emotional baggage between them, he'll have his work cut out for him in trying to convince Rose to take a chance on him, a chance on love.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I absolutely adored the story. Rose was inspiring, and I loved how the author captured so many emotions on paper thereby breathing life into the story. The angst, the tension, and chemistry between the two main characters created a heady combination infusing the story with realism. I loved how Rose and Eli complimented and completed each other. Each was able to help the other overcome their fears and face the past. 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. I totally loved it.

Pictures of Dover and Dover Castle:

The Order of The Devils of Dover series:

Monday, September 3, 2018

Bound for Sin (Frontiers of the Heart #2) by Tess LeSue

Title: Bound for Sin (A Frontiers of the Heart novel)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre:  Historical Romance
Series: A Frontiers of the Heart novel (Book 2)
Format: Paperback; 432 pages
Publisher: Berkley (September 4, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0451492595
ISBN-13: 978-0451492593
Author's Website: https://tesslesue.com/
Notes: I received an eARC loan through the publisher's First to Read program. Thank you.

'A respectable widow of means seeks resourceful frontiersman for the purpose of matrimony...'

That was the first line of the advertisement a desperate Georgiana Bee Blunt had listed in the paper. Georgiana has gotten herself into a real bind, or rather her late husband had. He and their young son had headed out west to make their fortune when he had passed away. Now she needs to go and retrieve her son, but there is a catch. Someone is holding him for ransom. She'll need to travel out west with her other children to save him. That means she'll need someone to help her because traveling so far with or without small children can be a deadly undertaking. Especially when you've been gently born and raised in the city where you've never needed to acquire any of the skills needed to survive such a perilous journey--not even cooking. She'll need someone to not only help her and her children make the trip safely, but someone who can help her maneuver the tricky situation she expects to  encounter once she finally gets to California. The major problem she's presently experiencing is that none of the potential candidates responding to her advertisement are anything near what she was looking for. Not even close.

Matt Slater is everything Georgina is looking for in a man--strong, knowledgeable about traveling the open trail, and capable of protecting her and her children. There is just one problem, Matt has no interest in settling down any time soon. He's made his living for the last five years as a trail guide escorting wagon trains back and forth between  Independence, Missouri and Oregon City, Oregon. He loves his job and it pays well. When he steps in to help the beautiful young widow who's in trouble, he finds himself in the middle of something he hadn't expected--a pretend engagement.

With months of traveling ahead of them, will Georgiana be able to convince the man to marry her, and escort her and the children to California to save her son? Only time will tell...
This was the second novel in the Frontiers of the Heart series by Tess LeSue. It can easily be read as a standalone as there is little to do with the couple from the previous novel in the series. Matt, however, is the brother of Luke (the 'hero' from the previous novel), and he is the reason Matt took over the trail riding job five years ago. He stepped in and took Luke's place when Luke decided to settle down. While I haven't read 'Bound for Eden', after reading the description, I really want to. It's a gender swapping novel and I always love it when the heroine poses as a boy. They are usually hilariously good.

I very much enjoyed 'Bound for Sin', and would love to see more Wild West period romances. Georgiana is a smart woman who finds herself between a rock and a hard place, and is boldly trying to strategically maneuver her way out of trouble. A difficult task to pull off  when living in a male dominated world. Ironically, my father-in-law just told me a story about how one of his ancestors had been a mail order bride. When she arrived in the United States to meet her prospective bride groom she decided she wanted nothing to do with the man and broke off their engagement. She eventually ended up marrying someone else, my father-in-law's great-grandfather, and the rest, as they say, is history. So there were definitely ways for smart  and innovative young women of the time to pick their own path in life, but it was by no means easy. I liked how Georgiana kind of turns the table on the mail order bride situation when she's gets to pick and choose her own spouse. I rather enjoyed how she took charge of her own destiny, and when things didn't go as she expected, she thought on her toes and found a solution.

Matt was a fun character who Georgiana describes as being very muscular, and looking like he could rip an oak from the earth bare-handed. He is a great guy who slowly finds himself falling for Georgiana and her kids. He's exactly what she needs but more importantly, she's exactly what he needs but doesn't know it yet. He tries to resist his feelings, but constantly finds himself being drawn to the young woman and her children. I loved watching these two fall in love.

It took me a little while to get hooked into the story, but I really liked it except for one thing--I took issue with the main character's last name--Bee Blunt. I'm guessing the author picked the name to be funny, but at times I found myself being ripped out of the fabric of the story when her true name was used because it usually coincided with a moment when I truly wanted Georgiana to be blunt and just spit out to Matt what was really going on. When this happened it emphasized the fact she should be blunt and it immediately released me from the story's grip. While it's fun to have little jokes running through a story, an author should make sure it doesn't distract the reader from the story. That is what unfortunately happened to me, and I didn't really care for it.

Overall, I gave this one 3 1/2 roses out of 5. It was a sweet, cute, and charming romance that managed to mix a little history into the story. I adored the chemistry between  Matt and Georgiana. and liked the reverse mail order bride scenario. There was some humor, a smidgen of suspense, and  a lot going on to keep one's interest. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating, 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 Frontiers of the Heart series:

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Early Review of The Governess Game (Girl Meets Duke #2) by Tessa Dare

Title: The Governess Game: Girl Meets Duke
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Girl Meets Duke (Book 2)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (August 28, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062672126
ISBN-13: 978-0062672124
Author's Website: http://tessadare.com/
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

She wanted a client for her clock setting business

He wanted a governess to keep his wards busy

Fate would bring them together

Desire would draw them to one another

And somewhere in the middle they'll find exactly what they each were really looking for....

While you can't always get what you want,
sometimes, when you least expect it,
 you get what you need.
This is the second book in Tessa Dare's Girl Meets Duke series. You can read it as a standalone, but
you'll probably enjoy it all the more if you read 'The Duchess Deal' first. Characters flow from the previous book into this one, and you'll be curious about their connection because they are so vocal in their loyalty and protectiveness towards Ms. Mountbatten. It was really too cute.

Ms. Alexandra 'Alex' Mountbatten is an unconventional women even among the unconventional. She doesn't see things as most. She believes a woman can do just about anything a man can. Perhaps her unconventional upbringing is to blame. She was raised on a ship by her father where she developed a tendre for all things celestial and dreamed up big plans, aspirations, and ideas. In the meantime, she sets clocks in the homes of England's wealthy every week using her chronometer. It may not be exciting, it may not be glamorous, but it gets the bills paid and lets her live a comfortable life. That is until the day an unfortunate accident puts an end to her livelihood.

Chase Reynaud is a handsome rogue who lives by one rule--No attachments. He doesn't even have a dog because commitment just isn't in his nature. What he does have are two wards, ones he means to send to a boarding school in the fall, but in the meantime he needs a governess. He's the heir to a Dukedom, but truth be told he doesn't want the title. Reluctant is his middle name, at least about most things, and he plans to keep it that way. That is until Alex comes along and turns his world inside out.

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. It was a very lighthearted read filled with humor, heat, and havoc. Three fine things to have in a romance. While it took me a while to warm up to Chase, I adored Ms. Mountbatten from the start. Her patience with Chase's wishy-washy behavior was commendable. Plus, I loved how she handled the girls especially when she changed all their books. I liked how she wasn't one to sit idly by and wait for change to happen nor did she allow herself to be walked all over. I admired her backbone. Chase was redeemed by the end and I finally started to warm to him after we learned his backstory. While it didn't justify all of his behavior, it did explain a lot. I loved how Alex managed to finally get through to him about how he deserved a happily ever after and convinced him that it started and ended with her. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a 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 very sweet, sexy, and charming love story indeed.

Order of the Girl Meets Duke series:

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Giveaway, Interview, and Review of Don't Close Your Eyes (Texas Justice #1) by Christie Craig

Coming to a bookstore near you August 28, 2018 : 

'Don’t Close Your Eyes' by Christie Craig 

In this dark and dangerous Texas small town, Annie Lakes’ nightmares come alive when a cold case from her past reveals family secrets that put her life in jeopardy.

Annie Lakes has had the same recurring nightmare for years. Her heart pounding in her chest. A panicked voice, begging her to run faster. Her own bloodcurdling scream. But now Annie is starting to realize it’s more than just a bad dream. She’s starting to remember things about the night her cousin Jenny disappeared all those years ago. Things that make her believe her family was involved—and what they’re hiding is much worse than she ever imagined. But she can’t unravel this alone. She needs someone she can trust, someone like sexy Detective Mark Sutton ….

Mark has seen enough—too much—to assume that Annie’s story is a dead end. It turns out that her family is hiding some killer secrets. A long time ago, Annie was just an innocent little girl who saw something she shouldn’t. Now she’s a target, and Mark’s running out of time to protect the woman he’s starting to fall for. But how does Mark face off against a murderer who just may be someone Annie loves?

Christie Craig

Christie Craig is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty-nine books. She is an Alabama native, a motivational speaker, and a writing teacher, who currently hangs her hat in Texas. When she’s not writing romance, she’s traveling, sipping wine, or penning bestselling young adult novels as C.C. Hunter. For more info on Christie and her books, please visit ChristieCraig.com.

Forever Summer Reading Q&A with Christie Craig

What was the last romance series that you binge read?

C.C.: Lori Wilde’s Cupid Texas series.

What's your favorite summer drink?

C.C.: Lemonade if it’s early. Red wine or a frozen margarita with a salted rim if it’s after five.   And it’s always after five somewhere, right?

Where do you and your family like to travel to during the summer?

C.C.: I’m a beach person. I love being close to the sand and waves. Almost every year we plan a beach escape. Some years, it just to Galveston or one of the Texas Gulf Coast places. But whenever possible, we like heading to California. We love Ventura. There’s a hotel that we’ve been going to for years. They have balconies that overlook the ocean. We always sleep with the doors open so I can hear the waves all night long. Then we can walk to their little downtown area, or right down the beach and have dinner at one of the many nice restaurants there.

What's your go-to accessory in the warm weather?

C.C.: A hat. I’ll admit I’m a baseball cap wearer. It keeps the sun out of my eyes and it’s easy to tuck my hair up inside if it gets too hot or windy.

If the main characters in your newest book booked a trip, where would they go?

C.C.: A fishing trip. Mark my character in Don’t Close Your Eyes, loves to fish. It’s sort of his yoga.  He loves being outside, the sun reflecting off of the water, and forgetting some of the painful cases he’s worked. And I’ll admit it, I love to fish, too. My hubby says when I fish, I fish hard. You’ll never see me put my pole down. Nope I’ve got it in my hands waiting for that tug on the fishing line. I can see Mark taking Annie fishing. I’m not sure she’d bait her own hook, but I’m sure Mark would do it for her. He’s just that kind of guy.

Title: Don't Close Your Eyes (Texas Justice)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense
Series: Texas Justice (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 480 pages
Publisher: Forever (August 28, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1538711591
ISBN-13: 978-1538711590
Author's Website: http://www.christie-craig.com/
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Annie Lakes had the same recurring nightmare for years. She's seen psychiatrists about it. She's asked her mom a million times if what she'd dreamt had ever happened, but her answer is no. Yet when Annie goes to the funeral of her uncle from her mom's side, a memory sparks making her believe her dream is, in fact, a partially suppressed memory. She can't let go of the feeling that she may have witnessed a murder....

Mark Sutton is a homicide detective who takes his job seriously. His specialty is solving missing children cases, and he's very good at it. Whether a new or cold case, he has the uncanny ability to zero in on the important little details that others have missed and solve the crime. With each case, however, he feels he loses a little piece of his soul. When Annie Lakes seeks him out and reveals she believes she may have witnessed a murder as a child, he's not sure what to think. Could she be a few fries short of a happy meal or did she actually witness something? After doing a little digging, he's determined to find out.
This is the first book of the Texas Justice series by Christie Craig, and, I believe, Ms. Craig's first venture into the foray of romantic suspense. Her previous books were lighthearted romances heavy  on the humor. While the element of humor still permeates the essence of this novel, it takes a back seat to the suspense. While I adore her other romances, I very much enjoyed this change of writing style and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Annie is a teacher whose life has been haunted by a tragedy that may or may not have actually happened. While at first glance her story may seem a little out there, she actually is looking at everything very logically and with a level head. She seeks Mark out because she needs answers and she knows he can find them. She's admired the handsome young detective for some time, never having gotten up the courage to introduce herself. Being on the Anniston police force, Mark's well known in town, but Annie has observed him over the past several months at the coffee shop that both he and she frequent. She knows he has a good heart and cares.

Mark has some emotional baggage of his own which stems from the tragic death of his sister. It's her death that inspired him to become a detective, and he's made it his mission to try to save and/or avenge as many missing children as he can. It's his way of doing penance for failing to protect his own sister years ago. There are two disappearances that detective Mark Sutton needs to solve in this book, and he'll need to sift through all the information that's been collected to solve them.

What I loved about this story is that Mark and Annie evolve as individuals as the story unfolds. They both are haunted by their past and each helps the other work through them. While their relationship starts out rather bumpy, it slowly turns into something neither expected nor can deny.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. It was a nice blend of romance, suspense, and mystery. The chemistry between Mark and Annie was intense and unmistakable. There were plenty of unexpected twists and turns to keep one's interest. I liked watching the mystery of it all unfurl while seeing these two get to know one another. While I had hoped for a connection between the two cases, I liked the parallels between them. They were so similar, yet so different at the same time.  On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a 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 eagerly await the next book, and look forward to seeing what Ms Craig has in store for the next installment.

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