Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Worth the Wait (Kingston Ale House #3) by A.J. Pine

* * * 3/4

I like to think of myself as a man of pleasure…

I enjoy a good pint of ale, being in the arms of a beautiful woman, and living by my own rules. The only thing I try to avoid? Commitment. And I’ve got a three-year success rate to prove it.

I wasn’t planning on Grace—the beautiful, funny, totally off-limits massage therapist who keeps popping up in my life. She’s on a six-month mission to rid her life of toxins. No alcohol. No red meat. And, yeah, no men. I’m talking full-on man cleanse.

I know I should walk away, but I can’t…and the only way to keep her in my life is to live by her rules. I’ll need to prove to a woman who’s lost all trust in men that I’m worthy of her love. And do it all without so much as a single kiss.

The only problem? If I win, I’ll lose the one thing I swore I’d never give up. My heart.

Source: e-galley provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

What happens when two people who were burned by their exes find themselves falling in love again? Do they jump in eyes closed? Or do they come up with some bizarre way of doing things to get around it? 

Both Jeremy and Grace have been busy nursing broken hearts. Their temporary solution is to give up on relationships. These days, Jeremy likes being unattached as he happily goes through a series of women. Grace has sworn off guys, at least for six months as part of a man-cleanse, an idea she got from a self-help book. Things become tricky after she and Jeremy meet in a rather intimate way (he's her massage client) and an undeniable attraction follows. It's so tempting to do something but unfortunately, it's a case of right place, wrong time. Jeremy surprises himself by wanting to be with Grace, telling her that he'll wait for her until she's done with her cleanse and done putting herself back together. Sounds like a plan they can agree on: friends first, then whatever next. But wait. More complications arise when Grace winds up as star of her own reality show based on her current six-month hiatus from dating. It's a too-good opportunity that she can't afford to miss out on for a number of reasons. So for now it becomes a much harder wait for them. Meddlesome exes aren't helpful either.

This was such a cute story to dive into about two young people wrestling with their feelings and gradually blurring the line between friends and lovers. These are characters becoming more self-aware and truthful about what they want. It's about taking another leap of faith despite the fact that things went badly before. And even though they're trying hard to behave themselves, they do manage to find loopholes, and those are always so fun! It was nice to see the rest of the Kingston Ale House gang again especially since there's guaranteed fun when they're around. One can almost envy this close-knit circle of friends who go way back. As for me, I get to live vicariously through these young friends living it up in Chicago. 

Here's the best reason to read A.J. Pine: for the happy vibes that will inevitably wash over you. Who doesn't love a story about falling in love again after what seems like devastating heartbreak? A happily-ever-after is a nice place to go after it's all said and done. So do yourself a favour and check out the Kingston Ale House series and read WORTH THE WAIT!

~ Bel

Hey Readers, A.J. Pine was sweet enough to do an interview with us about the Kingston Ale House series. Check it out!

A.J. Pine (photo: Goodreads profile)

Congratulations on how well the Kingston Ale House series has done! The series is set

around a micro-brewery – it was the central focus of book 1 (THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY). What inspired this setting?
Is I like beer a good enough answer? Ha. Just kidding. I mean, I do like beer. But there’s more to it than that.
I have this theory that most things in my life are six degrees of separation from the show, Friends. And The Kingston Ale House series is perfect proof. I have great friends from high school and college, but I always wished I had a core group like Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Joey, and Phoebe—friends who started and ended their days together, hanging at Central Perk, who were basically each other’s second family. That’s where the Kingston crew came from. Jamie, Brynn, Holly, Annie, and Jeremy are the core group. All have known each other since high school, and all ended up back in the city after college. Wes (THREE SIMPLE WORDS) was part of that group but left for a number of years before coming back. Will (our sexy British single dad from SIX MONTH RULE) and Grace (our quirky massage therapist on a sex cleanse in WORTH THE WAIT) are the only two outsiders but were both lovingly welcomed into the fold. In a sense, Kingston Ale House is Central Perk, just with beer!
As you sat down to write, did you have any idea about how the subsequent books would evolve?
I had to give my editor a short description of all four books so she knew I had planned stories for each. And books one, two, and three all went according to plan. But Jeremy was a HUGE surprise. He was not the planned hero for book four. At this point I don’t even remember what book four was supposed to be. All I know is that as soon as Jeremy returned in book two and I got to know him better, I couldn’t get him out of my head.  I quickly thought of the best conflict for my commitment-shy player—a woman who had sworn off sex. I emailed my editor while writing book two and said, “Jeremy has to be the hero for book four. Here’s his story. What do you think?” I think it’s safe to say that she agreed with me. ☺
How much fun was it for you to base the series in Chicago?
It was so fun but also made me nostalgic for my twenties when I was spending my weekends in Lincoln Park! I love getting to give shouts to my favorite Chicago staples like Lou Malnati’s Pizza (the best deep dish pizza…no contest), the Chicago White Sox (my dad is a die-hard Sox fan), and also the Cubs.
I know they’re all your babies and it’s hard to choose but is there a character that is your favourite or that you feel an affinity with?
Oooh, this is hard (twss?). Annie (THREE SIMPLE WORDS) is probably the heroine who is most like me because she is a bookshop owner and romance blogger. We’re a bit of a bookish pair. She’s all about the happily ever after, and I loved that she never lost hope that hers was out there.
The heroes were all super fun to write. Like I said, Jeremy was a force of nature, demanding his own book, and I loved that about him. But I think my favorite hero to write was Will from book two because he was British. And a single dad. And the combination of his accent and his love for his little girl was just enough to bump him to the top of my list. But I really do love all my babies.

Finally we're going to ask about things related to our motto: books, boys pie. Is there a book from high school that you didn’t like that you’d consider reading again?

Honestly, I can’t remember the ones I didn’t like, but I can remember the one I did. The Great Gatsby. It’s the only book I’ve reread since high school simply because I wanted to. I was a high school English teacher for 13 years and definitely have a new appreciation for canon literature, but Gatsby is one that stuck with me.

What’s your favourite dessert? We’re thinking bribery material here ;)

I will never say no to crème brulee.

And which male celebrities do you picture as your characters from KAH: Jamie, Will, Wes and Jeremy?

I’m not saying I’ve thought about this in great detail or that I fan cast my heroes while I’m writing, but I’m not saying I don’t either. I might even have links for each one of the pic that looks how I picture them. LOL.

Jamie Kingston: Chace Crawford…with a baseball hat.

Will Evans: A cross between Henry Cavill and Theo James…because how can I be expected to choose?

Wes Hartley: Wait…I never cast him! Um…how about Jared Padalecki? Post GG. Definitely Supernatural Jared.

Jeremy Denning: Even though I say in the book he looks like a younger Michael Fassbender, there is this model, Ken Bek, who I just learned about from the RED HOT 2017 calendar (of which I’m giving away a copy on my author page along with other fun prizes). He could SO be Jeremy.

Many thanks again to A.J. for spending time with us! Get your copy of WORTH THE WAIT out now!

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Flirting with Fire (Hot in Chicago #1) by Kate Meader

* * * 1/2

The first installment in Hot in Chicago, a brand-new, sizzling series from Kate Meader that follows a group of firefighting foster siblings and their blazing hot love interests!

Savvy PR guru Kinsey Taylor has always defined herself by her career, not her gender. That is, until she moved from San Francisco to Chicago to be with her fiancé who thought she wasn’t taking her “job” of supporting him in his high-powered career seriously enough—and promptly dumped her for a more supportive and “feminine” nurse. Now, as the new assistant press secretary to Chicago’s dynamic mayor, she’s determined to keep her eye on the prize: no time to feel inferior because she’s a strong, kick-ass woman, and certainly no time for men.

But that all changes when she meets Luke Almeida, a firefighter as searingly sexy as he is quick-tempered. He’s also the second oldest of the Firefightin’ Dempseys, a family of foster siblings who have committed their lives to the service—if Luke’s antics don’t get him fired first. When Luke goes one step too far and gets into a bar brawl with the Chicago Police Department, Kinsey marches into Luke’s firehouse and lays down the law on orders from the mayor. But at Engine Co. 6, Luke Almeida is the law. And he’s not about to let Kinsey make the rules.

Hot-headed firefighter butts heads with authority. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. But what if that authority comes in the form of an attractive, no-nonsense representative from the Mayor's office? Maybe not quite so disastrous.

Kinsey has been given an assignment by the Chicago Mayor and that is to turn a negative incident involving two city departments into a positive for the City and for the Mayor's eventual re-election bid. The recent Chicago transplant is looking forward to the task to keep her mind off of the debacle of her engagement. Nothing like throwing yourself into your work. But then she comes face-to-face with Luke and soon realizes that he presents a lot of work. He's gruff, rude and condescending. Thankfully she doesn't scare easily. She'll get it done, no worries. She just has to make sure not to fall for Luke in the process. While he doesn't care for the politics, Luke does have to acknowledge that he helped make a mess of things and will have to work with Kinsey to correct his mistakes. Kinsey being a smart, attractive women certainly helps matters though he doesn't want to get involved because that's not his schtick. It's only a question of time before these two go at it but whatever they decide affects their careers and their personal convictions.

There's substance to these characters making them more than just one-dimensional fantasies. They're flawed - Luke's initial condescending attitude and arrogance towards Kinsey in the first few pages irritated me so badly that I didn't know if I could manage the rest of the book but there was something there that made me stay. Then there is also the beautiful discovery underneath - what drives Luke, what matters to him. Learning that changed my mind about him. I liked Kinsey's quest to redefine herself and her goals after her breakup. Her self-analysis is refreshing because it can't be easy to admit the bad decisions. There's also depth to the story so it's not just about two people falling in love. The story encompasses other aspects of their lives (friends and family), their past, present and future. I just felt that I was painted a big picture while simultaneously zeroing in on Luke and Kinsey in their bubble.

This is my first Kate Meader novel and I liked it! Side note: my daughters seemed to enjoy the blurb on the back, "a man this smoking should set off alarms". Have I mentioned they're teenagers and general pains in the backside? Anyway, Flirting with Fire is pure pleasure and escape and I'm looking forward to making my way through the rest of the Hot in Chicago series!

~ Bel

Thursday, January 12, 2017

HIM / US Sale!!!

Don't miss this mega-awesome sale that's going on 

Available for a limited time only!


Amazon     I     iBooks     I     B&N     I     Kobo


Amazon     I     iBooks     I     B&N     I     Kobo

Glad Tidings by Amy Jo Cousins



Eddie Rodrigues doesn’t stay in one place long enough to get attached. The only time he broke that rule, things went south fast. Now he’s on the road again, with barely enough cash in his pocket to hop a bus to Texas after his (sort-of-stolen) car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Midwest, USA.
He’s fine. He’ll manage. Until he watches that girl get hit by a car and left to die.
Local shop owner Grayson Croft isn’t in the habit of doing people any favors. But even a recluse can’t avoid everyone in a town as small as Clear Lake. And when the cop who played Juliet to your Romeo in the high school play asks you to put up her key witness for the night, you say yes.
Now Gray’s got a grouchy glass artist stomping around his big, empty house, and it turns out that he . . . maybe . . . kind of . . . likes the company.
But Eddie Rodrigues never sticks around.
Unless a Christmas shop owner who hates the season can show an orphan what it means to have family for the holidays.

I admit, I went on a holiday romance bender this year.  I couldn't concentrate on any other books during the season.  Glass Tidings by the amazing Amy Jo Cousins was one of my favorites.  

Grayson is a delightful curmudgeon, whose heart has been broken and therefore shies away from life.  I adore him.  

Eddie has a different fear of living and serious abandonment issues that he deals with by never getting close to anyone.  After all, if you are always drifting from place to place without making any connections or putting down roots, people cannot leave you.  

These lost and frightened souls broke my heart.  Cousins' descriptions of the the loneliness felt by both men was realistic and powerful, especially during the holidays.  
I loved the visuals of Eddie and Grayson sitting by the fire reading in the evenings.  This would definitely be the way to my heart.  It was truly a lovely holiday read.

~ Shel


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Safe Bet by Monica Murphy Blog Tour - Review

Sydney Walker’s new job is perfect. As the live-in nanny to the most famous quarterback in the NFL and his beautiful wife, she couldn’t have it any better. Their kids are adorable. Her bosses are more than generous. Plus, there are hot football players at the house all the time. Life can’t get much better than this.

Until her life turns into an absolute nightmare. The media is abuzz with rumors that she and her boss Drew Callahan are having a torrid affair. Everyone knows the truth—except the public. So Drew’s wife Fable comes up with the perfect idea.

She creates a fake relationship between Sydney and one of the rookie players on Drew’s team. Wade Knox is forever indebted to Drew and Fable and readily agrees to the set up. Pretending to be in a romantic relationship with the hot nanny for a week—how hard can it be?

Crazy how it only takes one week for two people to fall head over heels in love…

(This mash-up new adult romance features characters from both the One Week Girlfriend series and The Rules series.)

Pre-Order Links:


A couple of years ago, One Week Girlfriend broke my heart.  Then Second Chance Boyfriend ripped the pieces of that broken heart to shreds.  I'm usually not the BiblioJunkie to go to about the angsty heart-wrenching stories and you could have knocked Bel and Nat over with feathers when I told them how taken in I was by these books, but Drew and Fable's story was just that compelling.  

So, it was with some degree of trepidation that I picked up Safe Bet - would I be disappointed by the peek I got in to Fable and Drew's happily ever after?  And what about throwing in these other characters, Wade and Sydney?  Would I like them?  I admit, I've not read the Rules Series.  I tried to read Fair Game, but I really hated everything about Shep and wanted to punch him in his stupid face -so if I hated him so much, would I be able to love Sydney?  

I didn't exactly love Sydney, but I didn't Shep-hate her, so that's a bonus.  I did really like Wade and I loved getting the inside scoop on Drew and Fable's life.  What I was unprepared for was the complete lack of angst.  Not once did I need to reach for the kleenex or feel the desperate need to hug one of the characters.  

Safe Bet was utterly sweet, funny, and completely heart-warming.  Wade and Sydney come together in a cheesy, but steamy whirlwind.  If this is the end of the road for the One Week Girlfriend Series, it is a satisfying ending.  I hope it's not the end, but if it is, I can live with it.  I feel gratified.  Safe Bet was the perfect blend of nostalgia and romance.  If you are a One Week Girlfriend fan, you should definitely read Safe Bet.  If you haven't experienced the trauma of the series, then you definitely have to read it so we can have a support group!

Happy reading.

~ Shel

About the Author:
Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and Harper Collins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she's not writing, she's reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She's a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

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