Friday, September 30, 2016

The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis

I couldn't resist the promo ad with the hot guy on it!  

If she has her way . . .

Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her . . .

He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.

Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead-gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him . . .

Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice . . .

Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish—and let themistletoe do its work . . .

Source:  Advance copy in exchange for honest review.

The Trouble with Mistletoe has all the hallmarks of a Jill Shavlis book - heart, heat, and hilarity!  I love a good holiday story and when you throw one of my favorite authors into the mix, I'm a happy girl!  

Keane is hilarious with the devil cat.  Willa is crazy and full of heart.  I could totally identify with her trust issues.  It's been a while since we've had a Shalvis heroine that owned her own crazy when it causes problems in the burgeoning relationship, so I loved that.  And with that crazy Keane and Willa together are a steamy mess!

As always, I love the supporting cast of a Shalvis book.  The "gang" reminds me of the best of friends - they love you, always have your back, and call you on your shit.  Willa's gang is great.  Elle and Archer's book, Accidentally on Purpose, hits the shelves in February and promises to be all full of stubborn people refusing to admit they are falling in love.    

Grab your copy here:

The Trouble with Mistletoe Buy Links:

~ Shel

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Color Blind by Sheila Sobel

* * 3/4

April is alone in the world. When she was only a baby, her teenage mother took off and now, unbelievably, her dad has died. Nobody's left to take April in except her mom's sister, a free spirit who's a chef in New Orleans--and someone who April's never met. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, April is suddenly supposed to navigate a city that feels just like she feels, fighting back from impossibly bad breaks. But it's Miles, a bayou boy, who really brings April into the heart of the Big Easy. He takes her to the cemetery where nineteenth-century voodoo queen Marie Laveau is buried, and there, April gets a shocking clue about her own past. Once she has a piece of the puzzle, she knows she will never give up. What she doesn't know is that finding out the truth about her past and the key to her future could cost her everything--maybe even her life. 

When April's father passes away, she is left in limbo. Her mother has been out of the picture for years and so now her only family is her estranged aunt, Kate, who lives in New Orleans. This arrangement while necessary is not ideal since April knows nothing about Kate or her mother's side of the family. It's evident how painful this situation is for both of them based on the stilted conversations and awkward silences. April is in a difficult place where she is almost an adult living with her aunt who has never wanted kids but who abruptly has to be responsible for one. There's some hostility between them which is why April seeks solace elsewhere. She meets Miles, a tour guide, when she decides to join his graveyard tour. He sparks in her an interest in New Orleans' voodoo history and gets especially intrigued when she senses a connection that has something to do with her family background. 

There were aspects of the story that appealed to me such as the setting and voodoo since that was a new topic for me. I was so intrigued by it that I was secretly hoping the plot would explore more of that but it didn't. Voodoo being as important as it was at the beginning ... I guess I just felt it petered out by the end and a part of me was disappointed. Instead, the second half of the book zeroes in on family and April learning to get used to her new one. The contentious relationship between April and Kate lost me slightly because I didn't connect with either of them. They never hit it off so that was a pall over most of the book. At the same time, I do think it says something about Sobel's writing that I was affected as I was by their poor rapport. 

This wasn't really my cup of tea but I recognize that's due to my wishful thinking as far as what I wanted the story to explore. A mystery and some highly suspenseful moments are also included in the plot.In the end, Color Blind reminds us that family can some about in unexpected ways.

~ Bel

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bedmates by Nichole Chase Blog Tour - Review & Excerpt



We are thrilled to get to bring to you the Review & Excerpt Tour for New York Times Bestselling Author Nichole Chase’s BEDMATES, the first standalone novel in her new American Royalty Series! Be sure to check out all of the stops in this amazing tour and grab your copy of BEDMATES today!  


From the New York Times bestselling author of Suddenly Royal comes the first in a sparkling new series about America’s favorite royal—the First Daughter.

Everyone makes mistakes, especially in college. But when you’re the daughter of the President of the United States, any little slip up is a huge embarrassment. Maddie McGuire’s latest error in judgment lands her in police custody, giving the press a field day. Agreeing to do community service as penance and to restore her tattered reputation, Maddie never dreams incredibly good looking but extremely annoying vice president’s son, Jake Simmon, will be along for the ride.

Recently returning from Afghanistan with a life-altering injury, Jake is wrestling with his own demons. He doesn’t have the time or patience to deal with the likes of Maddie. They’re like oil and water and every time they’re together, it’s combustible. But there’s a thin line between love and hate, and it’s not long before their fiery arguments give way to infinitely sexier encounters.

When Jake receives devastating news about the last remaining member of his unit, the darkness he’s resisted for so long begins to overwhelm him. Scared to let anyone close, he pushes Maddie away. But she isn’t about to give up on Jake that easily. Maddie’s fallen for him, and she’ll do anything to keep him from the edge as they both discover that love is a battlefield and there are some fights you just can’t lose.


Order BEDMATES in ebook or paperback, releasing 10/4/16

Amazon | iBooks | BAM| Barnes & Noble

Add to your Goodreads



“I asked if there was any sex.” His shoes came into view and I looked up slowly.
“Oh, there will be.” I met his eyes. “But not yet.”
His eyes widened just a smidge, his nostrils flared ever so slightly, and I realized how what I’d said sounded.
“I mean, um, that I wouldn’t mind—” Shit, that was worse. “I promise to cover her eyes.”
“What wouldn’t you mind, Madeline?” His voice dropped an octave, making my heart speed up. Madeline, not Maddie or MadLlibs.
“I, um—what?” My voice was breathy as he took a step even closer to me.
“You mentioned something about sex, I believe.” He reached out, using his fingers to brush some of the hair out of my eyes.
“I did? I mean, yes, I did. On the show.” I fumbled over the words. “Buffy! That’s what I was talking about. I wouldn’t mind having sex with—damn it—I mean I wouldn’t mind seeing—shit. No matter what I say this sounds wrong.”
“Nothing wrong with sex.” His eyes twinkled and I realized his hand was still on my face when he lifted my chin up.
“I—I—know that.”
His thumb ran over my bottom lip. “Then why do you have such a hard time talking about it?”
“I don’t!” My spine stiffened. “Sex doesn’t scare me.”
“Then it’s me.” He lowered his head close to mine and I swallowed the lump in my throat. “I make you nervous.”
I swallowed again, my throat scratchy like sandpaper. “No you don’t.”
“Yes, I do.” His hand swept around to the back of my neck. “I always have.”
“I was, what, seventeen when you left for officer training?” I tried to calm my racing heart. “So what if I was a little nervous around you?”
“So you admit it?” His eyes twinkled and his mouth moved a little closer to mine.
“I admit nothing.” I jerked my chin up.
“Are you nervous now?” His body pressed closer to mine and I licked my lips. “Am I making you nervous?”
“Yes.” I whispered the word, not taking my eyes from his.
“Is it a good nervous?” His eyes grew serious. “Or are you scared of me?”
“I’m not scared of you, Jake.” I touched his chest and noticed that my hand was steady despite how fast my heart was beating. “You never scared me.”

I love the premise of Bedmates - the President's daughter and the VP's son.  As someone with a degree in Political Science, I'm sure you understand how I would geek-out over this idea.  But Bedmates is so much more than an interesting premise; it has heart, tragedy, selflessness; selfishness; political gaming; social consciousness, without being preachy; love; and an adorable dog.  Also, references to Buffy - who doesn't love a book that references Buffy?!  And it's so much better when it's discussing watching Buffy in the White House!  
Maddie and Jake are, for the most part, hilarious together and a seemingly ideal couple.  Jake's harbouring some secrets about his time as a soldier and the aftermath, but otherwise, they are funny and sweet together.  Jake's Mom is a bitch and a thorn in their sides and Jake's little sister has some abandonment/jealousy issues about Maddie and Jake together, but otherwise, the families are supportive (I LOVE the President's conversations with Maddie about the two of them).  
But the course of true love never did run smooth and obstacles abound for our young couple.  I will admit to shedding a few tears reading Bedmates.  Bedmates is a fast-paced, fun read that will hit you right *there*.  Bravo Nichole Chase!  I cannot wait to see what's in store for the First and Second families next!  

Nichole Chase’s BEDMATES Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:
September 26th
The Bookworm Lodge – Excerpt
Books,Dreams,Life – Excerpt
BookWorm221 – Review
Deluged with Books Cafe – Review & Excerpt
September 27th
BiblioJunkies – Review & Excerpt
Captain Reads A Lot – Excerpt
Julalicious Book Paradise – Review & Excerpt
SBB Reviews – Review & Excerpt
Short and Sassy Book Blurbs – Review & Excerpt
Theory of A Dreamer – Review & Excerpt
September 28th
Blog of Books – Review
Books and Things Blog – Review & Excerpt
For The Love of Fictional Worlds – Review & Excerpt
Krista's Dust Jacket – Review & Excerpt
Vagabonda Reads – Review & Excerpt
September 29th
BFF Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
EskieMama Reads – Excerpt
Fiction Fare – Review
Lea's Book Blog – Review
Melena's Reviews – Review & Excerpt
My Book Filled Life – Review & Excerpt
September 30th
Delish, Devine and All Mine – Review & Excerpt
Readers Retreats – Review & Excerpt
The Accidental Reader – Review & Excerpt
Typical Distractions – Review & Excerpt
October 1st
Read Love Blog – Review & Excerpt
Book Bitches Blog – Review & Excerpt
Fangirls Ahead! – Review
Oh My Growing TBR – Review & Excerpt
Reads and Thoughts – Review & Excerpt
October 2nd
Addicted to Happily Ever After – Review & Excerpt
I'm Lost in Books – Review & Excerpt
Love Affair With Fiction – Review & Excerpt
The Pervy Ladies Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
PBC – Review & Excerpt
October 3rd
Book Starlets – Review & Excerpt
Ceres Books World – Review
The Heathers' Blog – Review & Excerpt
I'm A Book Shark – Excerpt
Lustful LIterature – Review
October 4th
FMR Book Grind – Review
My Favorite Things – Review
OMGReads – Review
The Lovely Books – Review
V's Reads – Review
October 5th
Book Binge – Review & Excerpt
A Fortress of Books – Review & Excerpt
JOJO THE BOOKAHOLIC – Review & Excerpt
Reading Tigress – Review & Excerpt
October 6th
Pretty Sassy Cool – Review & Excerpt
Smut Book Junkie Reviews – Review & Excerpt
Toot's Book Reviews – Excerpt
October 7th
The Book Avenue – Review
Cocktails and Books – Excerpt
Girls with Books – Review & Excerpt
I'm A Sweet And Sassy Book Whore – Review & Excerpt
Kate's Book Life – Review & Excerpt
October 8th
Amo& Sarah Book Corner – Review & Excerpt
Books 2 Blog – Review & Excerpt
In Between The Pages – Review & Excerpt
My Girlfriends Couch – Review & Excerpt
Reese's Reviews – Excerpt

About Nichole Chase: Nichole Chase is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Suddenly Royal, The Accidental Assassin, Flukes, The Dark Betrayal Trilogy, The American Royalty Series and several short stories. Nichole lives in Georgia with her husband, energetic daughter, two rescue dogs, Sulcata tortoise, and two cats. When not writing, you may find her reading, painting, crafting, or chasing her daughter around the house while making monster noises.    

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis Release Day Blitz


From New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis comes a captivating story of love, second chances and new beginnings...

THE TROUBLE WITH MISTLETOE, the second standalone novel in Jill Shalvis's Heartbreaker Bay Series, is out today! Check out the excerpt below and grab your copy of this fantastic new novel today!


If she has her way…

Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her…

…He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.

Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him…

Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice…

Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but he doesn’t even remember her. How can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish–and let the mistletoe do its work…

Order THE TROUBLE WITH MISTLETOE in ebook or paperback

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | B&N

Add to your Goodreads


And don’t miss the first novel in Jill Shalvis’s Heartbreaker Bay Series, SWEET LITTLE LIES, now available! Grab your copy HERE!


Willa sighed and headed to the door.
              Again Keane held the pink bedazzled cat carrier, which should have made him look ridiculous. Instead it somehow upped his testosterone levels. His sharp eyes were on her but they turned warm in a way that melted her right through her center as she moved toward him. She stopped with the glass door between them, hands on hips, hoping she looked irritated even if that wasn’t quite what she was feeling.
              His gaze lowered from her face to run over her body, which gave her another unwelcome rush of heat. Dammit. Now she was irritated and aroused—not a good combo.
              His mouth quirked at the saying on her apron that read Dear Santa, I Can Explain.
              Drawing a deep breath, she opened the door. “You’ve got Petunia again. I hope that means your great-aunt Sally isn’t still sick.”
              He looked surprised that she’d remembered his aunt’s name, or that she’d care. “I don’t know,” he said a little gruffly. “She left me a message saying that I was in charge for the rest of the week but for two days now Pita’s been happily destroying my jobsite. I’m throwing myself on your mercy here. Can you help?”
              Wow. He must be really desperate since he was actually asking and not assuming. But since Petunia was a sweetheart, she knew she’d do it.
              “I’ll even tell you where I went to high school,” he said, adding a smile that was shockingly charming.
              Wow. He hadn’t lost his touch when it came to turning it on. “Not necessary,” she said, painfully aware of their audience.
              Keane’s attention was suddenly directed upward, just above her head. She followed his line of sight and found a sprig of mistletoe hanging from the overhead display of small portable doggy pools. Mistletoe? What the hell? She glanced behind her and what do you know, suddenly Rory and Cara were a flurry of movement racing around looking very, very busy. “When did the mistletoe go up?” she asked them. “And why?”
              “FOMO,” Cara said from behind the counter.
              “Fear of missing out,” Rory translated. “She was hoping a hot guy would come in and the mistletoe would give her an excuse.”
              Willa narrowed her eyes and her two soon-to-be-dead employees scattered again.
              “Interesting,” Keane said, looking amused.
              “I’m not kissing you.”
              His mouth curved. “If you take Pita for the day, I’ll kiss you.”
              “Not necessary,” she said, gratified no one could see her heart during the two-step in her ears. “I’ll take Petunia for the day. No kiss required or wanted.”
              Liar, liar


About Jill Shalvis: New York Times and USA Today 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 sexy contemporary and award-winning books wherever romances are sold and click on the blog button above for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.    

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Peek In The BiblioBin #217

Welcome to our Stacking the Shelves post! Stacking the Shelves (or as we like to call it, A Peek in the BiblioBin) has been created by the folks at Tynga's ReviewsIt's a way for bloggers to share what books they've won, received for review, purchased, borrowed from the library or friend, received as a gift, grabbed off the bookshelf, etc.

What's in your bin?

+  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +


The Coldest Girl In Cold Town by Holly Black

Hawthorne & Heathcliff by R.K. Ryals

Insider (Exodus End #1) by Olivia Cunning

Friday, September 23, 2016

Challenge by Amy Daws Release Day Blitz

He’s her patient. She’s his doctor.
They shouldn’t. But God, do they want to.

New Sports Romance by Amy Daws!

& FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon US     I     Amazon UK     I     Amazon AU     I     Amazon CA

Camden Harris, the famously hot, hulk of a footballer is laid up in a London hospital. But his busted knee doesn’t stop him from running his well-practiced game on Indie Porter—his redheaded spitfire of a doctor. She’s not his type, not even close. But she could be the perfect distraction from the soul-crushing damage this injury could cost him. 

Indie’s tired of her naivety putting a target on her back. As a gifted child, she’s let her education take the front seat her whole life. But a fling with a footballer like Camden might be just what she needs to grab life by the balls. 

And he could be the perfect guy for the plan she’s been sitting on for over two years. 

But when feelings make a final play, there’s no amount of medicine that can heal the damage to their hearts.

+ + EXCERPT + +

She chooses that second to lean over top of me and stuff the blood pressure cuff into a metal basket above my bed. She loses her footing slightly and, well, never one to waste an opportunity, my hands reach up to grip her lower back and pull her down on top of me. Her chest hits mine, and I’m assaulted with an orgasmic scent that must be distinctly of the Dr. Porter variety.
I have to taste her.
Without hesitating, I sample her lips, giving her what her eyes were so quietly begging for. She lets out an audible groan, but it’s not a frightened groan. It’s a “you cheeky sod, I like this” sort of groan. It’s the kind of groan you make when you’re young and trying to fight off an orgasm that comes much too soon because you’re so inexperienced. It’s the kind of groan that makes all the pain in my knee completely dissipate. It’s the kind of groan that gives me the slightest glimpse of how hot she would be in the sack.
I forget all about the fact that I’m kissing my doctor. Right now, she’s simply an incredibly sexy woman who has managed to consume ninety percent of my thoughts since I arrived here over an hour ago. And denial is a dish best served hot and luscious, so I’m eating while I have the chance.
I’m not sure what I had planned. Truth be told, I didn’t completely think it through. Most likely I was just going to say something smart and see what else I could get to come out of her gorgeous mouth. But a flurry of excitement rips through me when her eyes flash to my lips and, in that instant, I know what I have to do.


Amy Daws lives in South Dakota with her husband, and miracle daughter, Lorelei. The long-awaited birth of Lorelei is what inspired Amy's first book, Chasing Hope, and her passion for writing. Amy is a lover of all things British and her award-nominated contemporary romance series, The London Lovers Series, is centered around Americans in London. It's emotional and self-deprecating with lots of humor sprinkled in. 

On most nights, you can find Amy and her family dancing to Strawberry Shortcake's theme song or stuffing themselves inside children's-sized playhouses because there is nothing they wouldn't do for their little miracle. 

+ + GIVEAWAY + +

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #1) by Amanda Bouchet

* * * * *

Catalia "Cat" Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

Source: advance galley provided by Sourcebooks Casablanca

I have been blown away! Charged with a heady dose of Greek mythology, A Promise of Fire has all the action and adventure that I didn't even know I was missing. Every element from the characters to the plot to the writing worked so perfectly in unison that I declare it one of my favourite books of the year, and Amanda Bouchet a breakout star of 2016!

Cat grabbed my attention immediately as a very enjoyable protagonist whose spirited nature kept me on my toes throughout the book. Her complicated past informs her every decision. Self-preservation is a priority and her instincts have kept her alive so far. Griffin discovering her whereabouts creates a whole new set of complications. For his part, Griffin's calm demeanor and sarcasm make him the perfect foil to Cat's feistiness. He definitely forces her to up her game around him but she can't deny that he gets to her, too. Their vocal sparring and attraction adds fuel to the story though it isn't the only thing. Cat's special ability is a valuable prize for anyone who can capture her. There's always a threat against them no matter where they go making it hard not to be swept up in all the madness.

One of the things I love about the story is how wonderfully the characters are fleshed out. Cat's family history is complex (Mother Dearest has nothing on her mother) which puts anyone in contact with her at risk. Griffin's altruism is surprising considering the world they inhabit. His perspective comes off as naive when compared to Cat's cynical outlook. This is a world filled with political chicanery, warring factions, power-hungry individuals and shaky alliances. This subplot is just as intriguing as all the interpersonal relationships developing. Take for example, the romance brewing between Cat and Griffin. Their chemistry is a slow and steady build that's playful and teasing, flirty and serious, agonizing and amusing. Their intimate moments prior to their make-out sessions are so seductive; basically all the push and pull that makes romances an engaging read. Also interesting is Cat's connection with the guys in Griffin's entourage. They're fun, charming personalities but because Cat doesn't trust easily, the camaraderie and loyalty she witnesses between them is a foreign concept. 

I thought I was enjoying things as I was reading along but apparently I was wrong. With danger lurking anywhere, the story bristles with energy and anticipation. Bouchet allows the plot to unfold at a perfect pace, knowing exactly when to inject urgency or humour or tension. Her descriptions gave me a good sense of the the people and their world. I had no idea what to expect when I picked up A Promise of Fire. Yes, it has a stunning cover. Yes, it sounded like it would be a good time. What I discovered is a smart and thrilling story featuring a fearless and savvy heroine who meets an equally fearless and genuine-hearted hero. Together they hope to change their bloodthirsty world into a better one for the future. My suggestion: set aside time to lose yourself in this epic adventure! 

~ Bel

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Peek In The BiblioBin #216

Welcome to our Stacking the Shelves post! Stacking the Shelves (or as we like to call it, A Peek in the BiblioBin) has been created by the folks at Tynga's ReviewsIt's a way for bloggers to share what books they've won, received for review, purchased, borrowed from the library or friend, received as a gift, grabbed off the bookshelf, etc.

What's in your bin?

For Review:

The Goal (Off-Campus #4) by Elle Kennedy


The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Friday, September 16, 2016

Just Friends by Monica Murphy Blog Tour and Review


Just Friends by Monica Murphy

Release Date: September 13th, 2016 Genre: New Adult Romance

Just Friends AMAZON.jpg


It’s the end of summer. Just before I start senior year with my two best friends in the whole world. Dustin and Emily are everything to me. We’ve been inseparable since middle school, and when we’re together, nothing can go wrong.

But things aren’t always what they seem. Em’s turned into a drunken mess who parties too much. Dustin and I have hooked up a few times―and now he’s ready to take our relationship to the next level. Yet I’m not sure I want things to change. I’m scared if I take it any further with Dustin, our friendship will be ruined forever. Then there’s Ryan. The new guy. He’s hot. He flirts way too much. And Em has totally set her sights on him. So when my best friend betrays me in the worst possible way, guess who’s there to help me pick up the pieces of my broken heart? Ryan. But he’s so confusing. Annoying. Sweet. Sexy. I want to trust him, yet he makes it so hard. What I really want is for everything to go back to the way it was before. Before I found out that best friends make the worst kind of enemies.

Add to Goodreads


Buy Links:

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 GOOD.

Connect with Monica:


Source:  Advance Copy in exchange for an honest review.  


Wow.  That's the thought I had when I finished Just Friends.  Just Wow.  Wow, that was an engrossing read.  Wow, I can't believe I read that without getting up to pee.  Wow, I am so glad I am not a teenager.  Wow, those guys are complete jerks.  Wow, those girls are total crazies.  Wow, when does the sequel come out?  Yeah, wow. 

Teenagers are awful to one another and this book magnifies and shows this type of behavior.  I have a hard time feeling sympathy for any of these characters and often wanted to yell at them, a la a horror film "Don't go upstairs, you idiot!"  Much like a train wreck, I couldn't look away.  And these kids are a freakin' train wreck.  It's beautifully written, as all Monica Murphy books are and will keep you completely engrossed.  And make you thankful you are not a teenager.  :-)

This one is for the older crowd.  I wouldn't feel comfortable recommending it to my 14-year-old niece, but I would my 18-year-old niece.  Just Friends has something for everyone - drug use (and abuse), casual sex among high-schoolers, daddy issues and more, so if those are triggers for you, proceed with caution.  

~ Shel

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The One Real Thing by Samantha Young - Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

Welcome to Hartwell, a quiet seaside escape where uncovering old secrets could lead one woman to discover the meaning of a love that lasts…

While Doctor Jessica Huntington engages with the inmates at the women’s correctional facility where she works, she’s always careful to avoid emotional attachments in her personal life.  Loss and betrayal taught her that lesson long ago. But when she comes across a set of old love letters in the prison’s library and visits the picturesque town of Hartwell to deliver them to their intended recipient, she finds herself unable to resist the town’s charm—and her attraction to the sexy owner of a local bar proves equally hard to deny.

Since his divorce from his unfaithful ex-wife, Cooper Lawson has focused on what really matters: his family and the boardwalk pub they’ve owned for generations.  But the first time Jessica steps into his bar, Cooper is beyond tempted to risk his heart on her.

Yet as their attraction grows hotter and Jessica remains stubbornly closed off, he begins to realize it will take more than just passion to convince her there’s only one real thing in life worth fighting for…

Now available:

Amazon      Barnes and Noble     iBooks     BAM     Kobo


* * *

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

Many of you are aware of Samantha Young through her On Dublin Street series. Though I'm still working my way through them it was a no-brainer that I'd have to check out her new endeavor. Set in a small town where everywhere you turn is a friendly face ready with a warm greeting, The One Real Thing has a different vibe to it that made me wishing I could visit it myself.

Jessica is a hardworking doctor at a women's prison where she stands out among her peers because of her generous compassion towards all the inmates. She has this inherent belief that no one is truly bad, they just happen to do bad things. At the prison, she discovers a series of hidden letters within a book written by a former inmate. These letters and the tragic story that is relayed through them, have an unexpected effect on Jessica, ultimately inspiring her to find the intended recipient. Before she can back out of it, she makes Hartwell her getaway destination so she can deliver those letters and get some R&R. Away from her stressful job, Jessica finds solace in the calm and friendly seaside town. It's not until she runs in to Cooper that she understands what has been amiss. Jessica and Cooper are older and jaded having been through their fair share of disappointment. She has spent most of her life trying to "fix things" as a doctor and hide away behind her career, while he has always been the one taking care of things. Pursuing a relationship is a big gamble for both of them since they both come with baggage.

There's more to Jessica's story than meets the eye and it's a sad one that's held her back emotionally. In a way, it takes a village to help Cooper and Jessica find their way to each other. It's a close-knit community of people who look out for one another. I like how Young has set potential storylines in TORT through some of the other characters in town, one of them being quiet bookstore owner, Emery. I admired how Jessica's slow connection to the elusive young woman was played out. There's definitely something in her backstory that I hope gets explored in a future book. This particular storyline also showcased Jessica's amazing patience and empathetic nature which made her my personal hero. The only character I didn't take to immediately was Bailey, one of Cooper's friends and the owner of the bed and breakfast where Jessica stays. The two of them become instant friends which is great, it's just that her personality came on a bit too strong for me. Regardless, I was relieved that Jessica was experiencing a beautiful companionship. As for the man of the hour, Cooper ... yeah, he's gorgeous, he's resourceful, he's a no-nonsense kind of guy but the BEST thing about him is that he was not once intimidated by Jessica's credentials. That kind of a man is a keeper! And the two of them make one hot couple! As for the rest of the locals, they're lovely and welcoming - I was starting to feel like Hartwell was home myself!

The One Real Thing will bring on all the feels. At first the synopsis sounds like it has all the makings of a Lifetime movie but I think it surpasses that initial impression. I thought that the hidden letters would take center stage in the story but they're only the catalyst that gives Jessica that push to snap out of her solitude. It's always fun to read about a community that not only charms its way into your heart but also heals what's been hurting for so long. I think everyone comes to a point where they question what they're doing, if they're happy, if it's worth it. Jessica and Cooper are no different so it's a delight to watch them dance around each other until they get their acts together. Sure, The One Real Thing is a lovely romance but it's also an ode to finding yourself in all the chaos. 

~ Bel

About the author: 

Photo source: Goodreads

Samantha Young is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the On Dublin Street series, including Moonlight on Nightingale WayEchoes of Scotland Street, and Fall from India Place, as well as the standalone novel Hero. She resides in Scotland.

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Why did it feel like having sex had complicated things so much? Usually sex was complication-free for me.
But before that night I’d been completely sure that Cooper was interested in exploring something more with me, and now I was freaking out that his interest would wane now that he’d had me.
I shook my head slowly. “No. It was good.”
He scowled, his arms tightening around me so much there wasn’t an inch of space between us. “It was better than fucking good, Jessica.”
I scowled back and pushed at his chest for some breathing space. “Well, I’m sure you’d know all about that.”
“What the fuck does that mean?”
“You use the word ‘fuck’ a lot.”
“It’s a good fucking word.”
I was tempted to laugh at how disgruntled he sounded and he seemed to catch my amusement because his hold on me eased.
“What’s going on in your head, Jess?”
I thought about evading this conversation. I’d never had to have an adult, open conversation with a man about sex. However, I realized, somewhat reluctantly, if I wanted something more with Cooper Lawson I was going to have to give him more than I was used to giving.
I couldn’t change his past, but I could figure out what it was he wanted in the future by just being honest and asking the question.
“You still want something with me, right? This”—I gestured behind me to the table—“it wasn’t just about sex.”
“No,” he said. “It’s not just about sex.”
As I heaved a sigh of relief, he let go of my waist to cup my face in his hands, dipping his head down to mine so our noses almost touched. He stared deep into my eyes and I shivered. I felt like he was trying to see right into my soul.
“I’m in this for the long haul, Doc. I was before you walked into my bar tonight, but now, after the best fucking sex of my life, after how wild that was, there’s no way I’m letting you walk out of here without me.”
And there he went doing it again.
His words resonated deep within me along with giving me that deep, sexual belly flip of arousal.
My fingers curled into the top of his biceps. “Best sex of my life, too,” I murmured. “It stunned me a little. Confused me . . . I thought maybe . . . you . . . this was old hat for you . . .”
He gave me a crooked grin. “You think I make a habit of fucking women in my bar.”“You could,” I said. “You are definitely a man who could pull that off.”Cooper threw his head back in laughter and I pressed my body deeper into his to feel his joy.
And then he wrapped his arms around me and hugged me.
Just as I’d suspected, he was a really good hugger.
When he pulled back he was smiling gently at me. “You’re the only woman I’ve had in my bar.” He let me go only to take my hand in his. “No one sits at that table anymore.” He gestured to the scene of the best sex we’d both ever had. “It’s now a shrine.”
“You can’t do that!” I was mortified at the possibility of people finding out why there was a table in Cooper Lawson’s bar that no one was allowed to sit at.
“I can. It’s my bar. I think I’ll even carve ‘Coop and Doc were here’ on it.”
Finally getting that he was joking, I made a face. “Funny.”
“You’re slow on the uptake tonight,” he teased.
“My brain was just frazzled by the orgasm to beat all orgasms.”
He squeezed my hand. “You up for more brain frazzling?”
I shivered at the thought. “Definitely.”
His eyes darkened. “Let’s go back to my place.”
Exhilarated by the prospect, I followed him, and it wasn’t until we’d stepped outside the bar into the cool night air that I said, “I don’t suppose you know where my panties are?”
“I do, actually.” He led me to the back of his bar to the parking lot. A dark-colored GMC was the only truck there.
“Um . . . could I have them, please?”
He stopped me at the passenger side of the truck, pressing me up against the car. “Why?” he whispered against my lips before he kissed me deeply. He came up for air a few seconds later. “You’re not going to need them where we’re going.”
The nagging pressure between my legs increased. “You are so very, very good at stringing the exact right words together.”
He kissed me again.
“You’re just good with your mouth in general,” I murmured.
Cooper grinned and brushed his lips over mine. “In the truck, Doc.” 


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