The Trade by Meghan Quinn #newrelease #bookreview

THE TRADE by Meghan Quinn
Release Date: March 12th
Genre: Contemporary Romance

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Can you pinpoint a time in your life where you realized you are completely and utterly screwed?

I can. I got the dreaded phone call, the one every baseball player hopes and prays never comes.

I was traded. Yeah, that phone call.

Traded from my long time team of over ten years. And not just to any team, but my childhood rivals; the Chicago Rebels.

Completely and utterly screwed, right? Wrong. The trade was the least of my concerns.

I met a girl. Natalie. Man, she’s perfect.

I swore I would never get involved with anyone during the season. Too complicated. But can you believe I have zero restraint when it comes to this girl? I couldn’t get her out of my head and the more I talked to her, the more I realized I needed her in my life.

So what’s the problem? Why am I screwed? Because, Natalie, the girl I can’t stop crushing on, yeah . . . she’s married.

At least, that’s what I was told . . .

My Review

Rating : 4.5 Stars

Meghan Quinn just wowed me again! Her smooth and clever writing style always wins me over. I have loved every book in this series. They are all unique in their own way. This wickedly sexy story follows Cory Potter and Natalie Myers, two characters that are both so easy to like.

Cory’s life is perfect. At least, that’s what it looks like from the outside. He has everything going for him: good looks, a star player status and a great family. And yet, he feels defeated and out of control. He has been traded to a team known as the dirtiest in the league and doesn’t get along with the coaches and some of the players.

Natalie is his new teammate’s sister. She instantly catches Cory’s attention when they first meet. He is drawn to her and admires her strength of character, her generosity and dedication to her family. She is the embodiment of his ideal partner. Natalie is freshly divorced and is not looking for a relationship. She is unsure of herself and scared of jumping into a new relationship right after her failed marriage.

Natalie and Cory together are everything. Their chemistry is combustible and they have deep passionate feelings for each other.  But neither one is willing to be honest about the way they feel. The emotion and frustration they suffer, you experience right along with them as you read it. The build up with their relationship takes a little while to get through and there are many moments when I wanted to scream at Cory for being ridiculous. However, once they are finally able to give in to all that pent up desire, they are explosive together.

But as much as I enjoyed Cory and Natalie’s journey, there was one issue that just didn’t work for me and it was that big final plot twist, or roadside bomb if you will, in their journey. It gets twisted and messed up.  Meghan Quinn really knocked me down and put my heart through a shredder. Outside of that issue, I really enjoyed this book filled with hot moments but also sweet and fun moments as well. It would not have been the same without Cory and Natalie’s best friends and family. The secondary characters here, while not a huge part of the story, still impact Natalie and Cory’s relationship positively. I’m happy with where their story ended and look forward to reading more by this author in the future.

Many thanks for stopping by and happy reading!

My honest review is based on an advanced reader copy of this book.

Excerpt

CORY

I’m fucked.

I’m sure you hear that all the time, so the term has lost its impact.

I ran out of sugar for my cookie batter . . . I’m fucked.

Forgot my phone in my car . . . I’m fucked.

Saw my neighbor’s old-man balls . . . I’m fucked for life.

I can guarantee you right now, this is nothing compared to old-man balls and cookies.

This is way worse.

This defines the term, I’m fucked.

What is it you ask?

It happened after one of the worst baseball seasons of my life. Traded halfway through the season to the team I’d hated my entire life, I was drowning in the constant media attention, persecuting me for the pass off for my multi-million-dollar contract.

“We want to win,” the Rebels said. “We can do that with Cory Potter wearing black and red.” And just like that, the team I’ve been playing for my entire professional career up and traded me to unload my hefty salary to develop new up-and-comers from the farm system.

The Rebels.

I’m a fucking Chicago Rebel. Words I never thought I’d say, especially growing up as a Chicago Bobcats fan, the rival team to the Rebels. Not just rival, but enemies. The teams themselves don’t get along, the fans hate each other, and Chicago is divided for a good portion of the year when the stadium lights are on.

But here I am, my name attached to the biggest trade in sports history.

A ballsy move.

An upset to Baltimore.

A baseball anomaly: All-American turned Rebel.

I’ve heard it all, I’ve seen it all, and no matter what’s splashed across the headlines, it doesn’t deviate from the fact that my long-time team decided to part ways with me midseason.

Mid-fucking-season.

After fourteen years, I packed up everything and moved back to Chicago.

But even that’s not why I’m fucked; it’s just the start of it.

The beginning of the end.

Dramatic? Maybe.

But if you were in my shoes, you’d be thinking the same thing.

After not even coming close to getting into the playoffs, the season ended, I was booed off the field because that’s how Rebels fans are—you don’t perform, they hate you—and I sequestered myself to my practically empty and cold apartment.

After a week of binge-eating deep-dish pizza and watching every prison documentary on Netflix, my sister finally dragged me out of my apartment, forcing me to attend a Bobbies playoff game with her so we could cheer on my brother-in-law. Her husband.

Seeing a Rebels player cheering on a Bobbies player plastered all over the news went over just as well as a grandma telling her grandson her favorite pastime is cock-tickling.

Not well.

But still . . . not the reason I’m fucked.

This is beyond worse than that.

During that game, I got the talk. Not the birds and bees, but the talk from a concerned sister about my lack of social life.

You really should get out more.
I know some single moms who are really nice.
Maybe a dating app might be fun. Girls would be ecstatic to match with the one and only Cory Potter.
I don’t want you dying alone.

That last one was a real kicker.

Dying alone. I’m fucking thirty-five and she has me with one toe in my grave.

The way I see it is, if you don’t meet your girl in college or high school, you’re sure as shit not going to meet her while playing professional baseball. Not when the schedule is obscenely busy and long, and not when you’re known for one thing in your city: making a shitload of money for playing a sport.

It’s almost impossible to find genuine relationships when you have this level of fame.
So I’ve resolved to waiting until after I retire to fall in love.

That doesn’t mean I’ve been celibate, I’m a man after all—a man with a shitload of adrenaline pumping through him on a daily basis. I’ve had my fair share of one-night stands with women, and a few on a solid repeat with zero expectations. Every woman I’ve bedded I’ve treated with respect, and I’ve been honest with them, because if anything, I’m a genuinely nice guy who doesn’t ever want to make someone feel bad.

Ask anyone who knows me, I’m the nice guy, the dependable guy, the leader with a heart.

I don’t screw women over, ever.

Are you thinking one of those one-night stands turned into an “accident”? Is that the reason I’m fucked? Got a girl I don’t know pregnant?

Nope, not that either.

But the conversation I had with Milly pushed me to a new way of thinking.

I don’t want you dying alone.

She made me fucking paranoid.

Was I really going to die alone?

Were my good years behind me and now I’m old meat on the market?

Should I be trying to find love in the midst of the craziness of my life?

Milly made me think, which then made me open up to the idea of finding someone, of looking at women differently, of allowing the relationship part of my brain to turn on.

So instead of ignoring every woman that has relationship potential I’d possibly look for, I turned off my blinders and started looking for them.

But I didn’t come close to meeting anyone that remotely fit the box of someone I’d consider going out on a date with. That was until I attended a certain charity event.

I saw her from across the room. Her smile was what caught my eye, then it was the way she laughed and held on to her brother’s hand, her brother who had cerebral palsy.

It was the way she’d lean into him, hold him, as if he was the most wonderful human she’d ever met.

The fact that she was absolutely breathtaking with piercing blue eyes had nothing to do with it.

It was her infectious laughter.
Her kind heart.
Her dedication to her family.

In a matter of seconds, I wanted to know her, wanted to find out her name, wanted to be in her orbit. Wanted to be a recipient of her warmth and affection.

I watched her from across the room, how she interacted with every person who came up to her, and when I was finally granted the opportunity to introduce myself, my breath caught in my throat when our hands connected. I felt my heart slam against the cage in my chest. And I knew, in that moment, with our hands mid shake, my life would never be the same.

Her name is Natalie.

Sister to my new teammate Jason Orson and his twin brother Joseph.

Director of Jason’s foundation, The Lineup.

And the reason why I’m utterly fucked.

Because while I started to grow attached to this magnetic and beautiful woman, when I told my sister about her, she informed me there was a ring on Natalie’s finger.

A ring that didn’t belong to me.

Hope plummeted in the matter of seconds as I felt the color from my besotted face drain into a puddle of remorse.

She was married.

She is fucking married.

See? Totally fucked.

I’ve been crushing so hard, because even a month later, I still think about her. I can still hear her laugh, see her smile, feel her hand in mine.

I want her.
Fucking bad.

They say time will heal all wounds, well for me, the more time passes, the more my wound is exposed and tormented.

Cory Potter is crushing on a married woman . . .

That is why I am completely and utterly . . . fucked.

About the Author:

USA Today Bestselling Author, wife, adoptive mother, and peanut butter lover. Author of romantic comedies and contemporary romance, Meghan Quinn brings readers the perfect combination of heart, humor, and heat in every book.

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The Rich Boy by Kylie Scott #newrelease

The Rich Boy - BT banner.jpg

Rich Boy was witty, exciting and had the most intense slow burn romance I’ve read in a long time. ”
—Audrey Carlan, #1 New York Times bestselling author

The Rich Boy, an all-new “do not miss” swoon-worthy standalone with off-the-charts chemistry from New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott, is available now!

TheRichBoy EBOOK.jpg

I’m the type of girl who’s given up on fairy tales. So when Beck – the hot new busboy at work – starts flirting with me, I know better than to get my hopes up. Happily ever afters aren’t for the average. I learned that the hard way.

But how can I be expected to resist a man who can quote Austen, loves making me laugh, and seems to be everything hot and good in this world?

Only there’s so much more to him than that.

Billionaire playboy? Check.
Troubled soul? Check.
The owner of my heart, the man I’ve moved halfway across the country to be with, who’s laying the world at my feet in order to convince me to never leave? Check. Check. Check.

But nobody does complicated like the one percent.

This is not your everyday rags-to-riches, knight-in-shining armor whisking the poor girl off her feet kind of story. No, this is much messier.

The Rich Boy - AN.jpg

Download your copy today!

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Excerpt

“You haven’t told me your story,” he says once we’re seated in a booth and have ordered.

“I finished my degree and realized it was basically good for nothing and there were next to no jobs available anyway. Or at least nothing that appealed. Teachers and librarians are fighting for every scrap of funding they can get while newspapers are folding. The publishing industry is going through serious cutbacks. Majoring in English Lit may have been a mistake.” I shrug. Truth is, I got stuck for various reasons. But this explanation is easier to swallow. “Figured if I was going to wind up serving then I’d like to do it somewhere I can walk along the beach now and then, without getting stuck in traffic for hours.”

He nods. “Makes sense.”

“I thought so. I’ll figure out what I want to do with my life eventually.”

“No rush. Good that you can take the time and space to figure things out for yourself without anyone pressuring you.”

“Just the student loans hanging over my head,” I say.

His answering smile is brief and small. “Grow up around here?”

“Close enough, San Bernardino,” I say. “What about you?”

“No, I’m half a country away from home and intend to keep it that way. Though maybe half a country away is still too close. I hear Iceland’s nice this time of year.”

I raise my brows in question.

“Family.” He shrugs. “What can you do?”

The waitress delivers our food, filling up the table with Beck’s order of half of the breakfast menu. Without hesitation, he proceeds to devour it all. If I ate that much, my ass wouldn’t fit in the seat.

“Want some?” He offers me a forkful of pancake, dripping with syrup. “It’s good.”

“I’m fine with my burger. Thanks.” And I’m curious as heck about his family, but pressing him further wouldn’t be polite. Dammit.

“So what are my future wife’s favorite hobbies and or interests?”

“Hmm.” I stick a fry in my mouth and chew, thinking it over. “Reading, films, music…the usual. You?”

“Lots of things.”

“Such as?”

“I don’t know…hiking, rock climbing. Stuff like that.”

“So basically I like to sit still and you’re all about being busy and athletic. We have nothing in common.”

“No. Wait. I can change,” he jokes. “Give me another chance.”

“You shouldn’t have to change.” I swirl another fry in some ketchup. “I’m sure you’re perfectly fine just as you are.”

About Kylie

Author-Kylie-Scott.jpg

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013, 2014 & 2018, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.

Connect with Kylie

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Website: https://kyliescott.com/

 

 

Tucker (Eternity Springs : The McBrides of Texas #2) by Emily March #newrelease @SMPRomance #bookreview

Eternity Springs_ Tucker Blog Tour Banner

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Emily March comes the second book in the Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas trilogy, TUCKER (St. Martin’s Paperbacks, February 25, 2020, $7.99).

Tucker Cover ImageTwo business owners come head-to-head in a feud with tulle and grit in this passionate story. This tale shows that even when life changes from the stress of a military career to working next to a wedding planner, love always finds a way to begin, even if it was never thought possible.

Meet Gillian Thacker. Her business: Bliss Bridal Salon. Her passion: Weddings. Her own wedding: It’s complicated. Life isn’t turning out like she’d planned. The last thing she wants is for a real-life hero to ride to her rescue, but an unexpected event puts her entire future in Redemption, Texas, at risk. So what’s a broken-hearted bridal expert to do? Maybe a new set of survival skills is exactly what she needs…

Tucker McBride has been proud to call himself a U.S. Army Ranger. But now that his days of service are over, he’s decided to put his expertise to use by founding a wilderness skills training school. He sets up shop in Redemption, next to Bliss Bridal, and so begins life: Part Two. Marriage has been pretty low on his agenda, but as soon as he meets Gillian, Tucker can’t help but contemplate the ultimate challenge: Convincing the reluctant bride to take his hand and leap into the adventure of a lifetime . . . until death do them part.

My Review

Rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

There is something about an Emily March’s book that is so cozy and comforting! I liked this charming contemporary tale of unexpected romantic connection. This author has an amazing ability of creating not just characters or plot lines but communities and extended families.

This series is a spin-off of the Eternity Springs series. It is set in Redemption, a small town in Texas, where the McBride cousins, Jackson, Tucker and Boone have inherited a beautiful canyon.

Tucker McBride and Gillian Thacker meet by total accident. There is definitely sparks and interest between them right from their first meeting. They both have wounds from their pasts and issues that need dealing with. Gillian’s heart has been battered by her cheating fiancé.  Tucker is a former Army Ranger and is at a crossroads in his life. He has left the military to start a new life and is trying to figure out how to put his life back together.

The premise of their story and the questions about their pasts and future were more than enough to keep me turning the pages. These characters were very down to earth, relatable and realistic.

It is easy to see Tucker and Gillian are perfect for each other from the beginning. Tucker is beyond romantic in letting Gillian figure out their relationship steps. She sets boundaries and he sticks to them.  These two worked so well together. They complimented each other. But though they are strongly attracted to each other, they each have their own issues to overcome.

Overall, this book is a well written, heartwarming story of new beginnings and emotional healing, with a great cast of secondary characters. It hit all my emotional buttons. I look forward to reading more of Emily March’s work in the future.

Many thanks to the publisher for the invitation to the blog tour for this lovely story.

Excerpt

Chapter Two

Tucker was a sixth-generation Texan, small-town born and bred. Certain behaviors were stamped into his DNA. A real man tipped his hat to the ladies, opened doors for females of any age, and never, ever failed to stop and assist a woman in distress.

So, of course, he had to turn around.

That this particular woman in distress was a total smoke show dressed in fire-engine red only made playing the role of Texas gentleman that much sweeter. He wondered how she’d managed to find herself out here in the middle of nowhere, no car in sight, not a house anywhere around, and the closest town a good ten miles away. Unfortunately, hot looks and a bright mind didn’t always go together.

He pulled to a stop beside her and flipped up the visor of his helmet. His assessing stare met a wary gaze shining from big, periwinkle-blue eyes that were swollen and red-rimmed with tears. She had an abrasion on her cheek just above her chin. Had someone hit her? When his quick visual sweep of her body revealed additional redness on both of her arms, he reconsidered. Airbag deployment, most likely. “Do you need some help, ma’am?”

He watched her intently and saw her quietly repeat the word ma’am. After a moment’s hesitation, she licked her lips, swallowed hard, and said, “Well, um, I, um. May I borrow your phone?”

Her voice was smooth as Tennessee whiskey with just enough Texas in her drawl to sound like home to ears too far away for too long. “Yes, ma’am.”

She took a small step backward as he set his kick- stand and climbed off his bike. She’s scared of me.

It was a perfectly natural reaction and showed some sense, but Tucker didn’t like scaring women, so when he pulled off his helmet, he was scowling. Her eyes widened, she took another step back, and he realized he’d made the situation worse. Well, hell.

He reached deep inside him for the charm that had grown rusty with disuse, made a stab at a reassuring smile, and addressed the elephant in the cotton field. “Don’t be scared. I won’t hurt you. I came back to see if I could help. That’s all. I give you my word, and a McBride’s word is his bond.”

“That’s so old-fashioned,” she said.

“Yes, well, that’s how we roll. Now, I’m going to reach into my pocket and pull out my phone.”

Her gaze dropped to his hand, and she gave a nervous little laugh. “No gun?”

“No gun.” That was in a different pocket.

Tucker unzipped his jacket and reached into an inner pouch for his phone while trying his best to look unthreatening. Their fingers brushed as he handed it over. Her fingernail color matched her dress.

“Thank you,” she said.

“You’re welcome. My name is Tucker.”

“I’m Gillian.” Her teeth tugged on her bottom lip as she stared at the phone. “Do you have Google maps? I need to send a pin of my location to my—”

She broke off abruptly, and her head came up. Those glittering blue eyes—puffy and swollen from tears and framed by long, thick lashes—went round and big. Distracted, he fell into them. “Tucker Mc- Bride? Your name is Tucker McBride?”

He blinked and pulled slightly away. Now it was his turn to be wary. “Yes.”

She gave him a once-over, and some of the stiff- ness melted from her spine. “I know Jackson. Boone too. You’re the third cousin, aren’t you?”

Well, this was unexpected. “Yes, Boone and Jack- son are cousins of mine. Have we met?” He didn’t think so. He’d damned sure remember her.

“No.”

“I’m surprised you’d connect me to them. We’re a long way from Redemption.”

“Are we?” She gave a short, strained laugh. “I wouldn’t know. I’m lost. But you look just like them, and Tucker McBride is an unusual name. Plus, I re- member when the three of you arrived in Redemption the first time. You all rode motorcycles. My friend Maisy laughed that you had your own little McBride gang, so you were perfect for Ruin.”

Tucker grinned. “If you only knew.” He extended his hand toward her for a handshake. “Nice to meet you, Gillian . . . ?”

“Thacker. Gillian Thacker.” Her grip was firm, her smile filled with relief. “I’m a friend of Caroline Carruthers. Are you on your way to visit Redemption?”

Caroline was the woman Jackson was seeing, Tucker knew. He nodded. “Yes, I am. So now that you know I’m not a serial killer, want to tell me what you’re doing standing in a cotton field in a sundress and stilettos? Not exactly apparel for farming.”

She glanced down at her feet. “Technically, I’m not in the field but on the shoulder of a road. A narrow, two-lane, never-ending road. And no, cotton is not my thing. I’m all about satin and lace.”

Satin and lace? A vision of Gillian in lingerie the same shade of red as her dress flashed in Tucker’s mind as she continued, “I sell wedding gowns at a bridal shop in Redemption. Bliss Bridal Salon on Main Street.”

He tore his thoughts from the fantasy and listened when she began babbling about a pig and a pecan and a purse without a phone charger. When she finally wound down, she left Tucker shaking his head at her foolishness. He held up his hand. “Let me get this straight. You weren’t joking about being lost? You literally don’t know where you are?”

“No. Not exactly.” She lifted her chin, and her voice sharpened defensively. “I know I’m still in Central Texas. I’m somewhere between I-35 and I-45. I’m north of Austin. I think.”

He slowly shook his head. “Where is your car?

How far have you walked?”

“That way.” She hooked her thumb over her shoul- der. “Maybe two or three miles. I’ve been walking a while.”

“In those shoes?”

She gave a rueful smile.

Copyright © 2020 by Geralyn Dawson Williams.

BUY LINKS

 

Macmillan: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250314932

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1250314933?tag=macmillan-20

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Powell’s: https://www.powells.com/book/eternity-springs-the-mcbrides-of-texas-tucker-9781250314932?partnerid=33241

About the Author

Emily March Author ImageEmily March is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the critically acclaimed Eternity Springs series. Publishers Weekly calls March a “master of delightful banter,” and her heartwarming, emotionally charged stories have been named to Best of the Year lists by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Romance Writers of America.

A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeño relish has made her a tailgating legend.

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Twitter: @emilymarchbooks (https://twitter.com/emilymarchbooks?lang=en)

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Author Website: https://emilymarch.com/

Macmillan Author Page: https://us.macmillan.com/author/emilymarch 

Wild, Wild Rake (The Cavensham Heiresses #6) by Janna Macgregor #newrelease @SMPromance #bookreview

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Wild, Wild Rake_coverWild, Wild Rake, the next sweeping, emotional, witty, and sharp romance in the Cavensham Heiresses series from beloved author Janna MacGregor.

Her first marriage was an epic fail.

Lady Avalon Warwyk never did love her husband. Arrogant, selfish, and cruel, it’s a blessing when she’s widowed and left to raise her son all by herself. Finally, Avalon can live freely and do the work she loves: helping fallen women become businesswomen. She’s lived these past ten years with no desire to remarry—that is, until Mr. Devan Farris comes to town.

Can he convince her to take another chance at happily ever after?

Devan Farris—charming vicar, reputed rake, and the brother of Avalon’s son’s guardian—is reluctantly sent to town to keep tabs on Avalon and her son. Devan wishes he didn’t have to meddle in her affairs; he’s not one to trod on a woman’s independent nature and keen sense of convictions. But she’ll have nothing to do with a vicar with a wild reputation—even though he’s never given his heart and body to another. If only he could find a way to show Avalon who he really is on the inside—a good, true soul looking for its other half. But how can prove that he wants to love and care for her. . .until death do they part?

Buy this book: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250296016

My Review

Rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Everything I have read by this author in the past has been an absolute blast, unfortunately I personally felt that this book didn’t meet my expectations, which were pretty high, I’ll admit. The “enemies to lovers” trope is one of my favorite. This novel does deliver on the banter, rivalry and friendship. I couldn’t put this down because Janna MacGregor’s storytelling is addicting, but at the same time, it left me feeling a little bemused. I didn’t really feel the romance all that convincingly.

Avalon is the heroine that I found truly admiring. I certainly loved her spirit, her generosity and her determination. She is the shining star in this installment, she’s just a delightful character to follow. I loved her confidence and uniqueness. I loved how strong she was even during tougher times. I loved how mature she was. Her backstory really made me feel for her. Her first marriage was a sham, and she was deeply hurt by her late husband’s actions. As a widow, she has gained her independence and has opened a home for former prostitutes and foundlings.  Her son’s legal guardian wants to take control over her estate and has sent his younger brother, Devan, to spy on her and discover where she received the funds to do her charitable work.

Devan Farris took a while for me to warm up to. He did end up growing on me but I still didn’t end up loving this character. I liked that he was thoughtful and had a solid relationship with his brother, but I thought that he wasn’t fleshed out enough for me to like him.

The plot and its pacing was the main downfall for me. The first part of the book drags on. The tension between the two main characters wasn’t enough to keep me engaged. I just wanted something to happen. Then, everything happened in the last part of the book, and I just wished some subplots didn’t take away from Avalon and Devan’s storyline. But despite some of the contrived drama, this book does hit the mark for a sweet romance and I really enjoyed the ending.

Many thanks to the publisher for the advanced reader copy of this book.

Excerpt

Avalon read the first line in the letter from her son’s guardian, Gavin Farris, the Earl of Larkton. By all appearances the words resembled something innocuous, purely designed to lull a person into thinking it contained real concern with a touch of whimsical affection.

My dearest lady, I do hope this finds you and your intrepid son well.

“Avalon, did you hear the news?” Seventeen, on the cusp of eighteen years of age, Avalon’s sister, Lady Sophia Cavensham, looked up from her embroidery and smiled. Her gaze darted to her friend Miss Penelope Rowley, the one and only niece of the wealthiest gentry landowner in the shire. Though she was two years older than Sophia, Penelope had become somewhat of a fixture at Warwyk Hall over the last six months since she’d moved to her aunt and uncle’s home. The two women were inseparable.

Penelope let out a dramatic sigh then collapsed in a swoon across the pink-and-gold brocade sofa. In the process, she kneed the table, upsetting the delicate pink china cup and saucer. “Oww.”

Avalon tried to ignore their chatter. The Earl of Larkton’s correspondence had increased in frequency over the last several months. The weekly letters were turning into biweekly posts. Each one wanted more and more control over the Warwyk estate and more decision-making control over her ten-year-old son, Thane Pearce, the Marquess of Warwyk. She doubled her concentration on the letter as she read the entire first paragraph.

The purpose of my correspondence is to inform you that I’ve appointed a new vicar for the village of Thistledown. The man comes with impeccable standing and experience. In addition, his educational training is second to none. He’s a protégé of Lord Bishop Marlowe.

“He’s extraordinary.” Sophia’s dreamlike whisper floated through the air like a dandelion seed.

“He’s . . . simply exquisite.” Penelope’s voice joined Sophia’s in a chorus of dazzled fascination.

My dear Marchioness, it’s my pleasure to announce that my brother—

Avalon swallowed the sudden onrush of bile that marched up her throat. It couldn’t be. Fate was not that hateful.

“Mr. Devan—” Sophia sighed.

“Farris.” Penelope finished the sentence and slowly drew her hand against her forehead as if saying his name caused her to faint.

“No. Not him.” Avalon murmured the words aloud. The sanctimonious prig had arrived to make her life a living hell. Avalon grimaced to keep from casting her accounts. Now she was just exaggerating like the girls. She wasn’t really physically sick, but the news could make a person ill. “When did he arrive in the village?”

Clueless as to how the news affected her older sister, Sophia scooted to the edge of the crimson-and-white striped club chair that sat adjacent to Avalon’s matching one. “Two days ago. Penelope and I just happened to be walking in front of the vicarage when we saw the Earl of Larkton’s coach arrive. The new vicar followed behind on horseback.”

Penelope nodded vigorously as if Sophia’s story needed affirmation.

Avalon wanted to roll her eyes. The two women “never just happen” to do anything. They orchestrated and connived everything from shopping to men. God save anyone who crossed their paths. If one of the girls took a shine to any of the ton’s marriageable men, then London’s finest would soon understand what it meant to be hunted.

As the girls continued their chatter, Avalon devoted her full attention to the rest of the letter. Better to finish the horrid task, then take a long walk through her gardens. Though it was January and bitterly cold outside, a brisk hour of exercise would help Avalon clear some of her unease at the news that Mr. Devan Farris had invaded her village.

I’ve considered your request that the young marquess continue his studies at home, but at the age of ten, his interests would best be served by attending Eton sooner rather than later. That’s where boys turn into men. Your suggestion that he attend Harrow won’t do. His father had insisted that I promise he attend Eton. However, since his Latin skills are somewhat lacking, I’ve decided to hire my brother, Mr. Farris, to tutor him in the subject.

Her blood simmered at the words. The earl’s declaration was nothing more than gilding the lily. Everyone within fifty miles of London knew that Devan Farris sought to marry an heiress. Until he found one, the fortune-hunting vicar thought to use her son’s marquisate to pay double for his services. Since her son’s estate paid for the vicar’s wages, Mr. Farris would receive another wage from the coffers for tutoring lessons.

But what really brought her blood to boil was that the smug vicar would be nosing into her business, and that wouldn’t do at all. She and only she ruled the parish with a fair and impartial hand. No one, including Devan Farris, would upset her world.

About the Author

Janna MacGregor_Photo credit Hilary Hope PhotographyJanna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She is the author of the Cavensham Heiresses series, which begins with The Bad Luck Bride. Janna credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs.

 

 Author website: https://www.jannamacgregor.com/

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The Holdout by Graham Moore #newrelease #bookreview

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TEN YEARS. TWO MURDERS. ONE HOLDOUT.

 From the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game and bestselling author of The Last Days of Night: a jury on a murder trial is deadlocked when a young woman manages to turn the tide to acquit; now, a decade later, she must face the consequences when a fellow juror is killed and she is the prime suspect.

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Published February 18th 2020 by Random House

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My Review

Rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Putting this story into words is not easy. Spending the last few days, I was trying to come up with one word that can describe it, and after some thought I think I got it. This courtroom drama book is simply gripping. The story is hard to comment on without giving away more than I want to.

This book features great storytelling, I definitely recommend this author. Throughout the story, it unravels a well thought out and intertwined plot, that had me clinging to my chair the entire time. It tells a story about complicated characters with passions, motives, and morals that collide, corrupt, and sometimes bolster and strengthen each another. The plot is tightly written. It is a cleverly laid out labyrinth with compelling characters. There are no throw away characters who behave stupidly, frustrating plot details, cutesy comic relief or romance just for the sake of adding romance. Every line could have a potential effect on the outcome. It is well paced, unpredictable and nothing dragged. Nothing was too confusing and the story had an appropriate amount of flashbacks.

I initially thought this book would only focus on one case but I really appreciated that it was more than that.

There really wasn’t a dull moment, while the suspense levels were always kept to high rate, giving you an ominus feeling about what’s to happen. This story really had all the enticing elements of a screenplay in novel form. I would define it as cinematic and I can easily imagine this story adapted into a movie. My only complaint is that after an incredibly suspenseful build-up, the ending fell a bit flat.

Many thanks to the publisher for the advanced reader copy of this book.

The Rich Boy by Kylie Scott#sneakpeak

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The Rich Boy, an all-new sensational slow burn romance standalone from New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott is releasing March 9th, and we have the first sneak peek!

TheRichBoy EBOOK

Sneak Peek

“All of Me” by Billie Holliday comes on and we neither stop nor speak. We just keep moving to the music. My hands creep up to the back of his neck where his skin is bare and warm to the touch. His eyes are the most amazing shade of hazel. Like some lovesick fool I could stare into them for hours. I don’t think I’ve slow danced with someone since high school. Don’t get me wrong, there have been memorable times in my adult life. I’ve been given roses and taken to dimly lit restaurants. But being here with him is quickly becoming peak romance.

Next is “Lover” by Taylor Swift and we dance on. He doesn’t try to kiss me so I don’t make a move either. There’s no need for more just yet. Doing this, being this close, is beautiful. I want about a hundred more moments like this with him. Possibly a great deal more.

When the music stops we gradually still. And there’s this moment when it’s just me and him and the city around us seems perfectly silent. How good it is to simply be in his arms and to have the full focus of his attentions. To know that maybe, just maybe, I’m safe here with him. The chambers of my heart fill up with him, one by one, and it’s both wonderful and terrifying.

“That was nice,” he says in a low voice.
“Yes, it was.”

He looks down, taking in the way our bodies are pressed together. “Baby Jesus would be appalled.”

“I do so hate disappointing infant gods.”

“You know, fifty years from now we’re going to look back on tonight and you’re going to regret not taking the opportunity to feel me up,” he says. “Just going for it and grabbing my junk like you own it.”

“Oh my God, Beck.” I laugh. “That was such a perfect romantic moment and you just killed it.”

“I did?”

“Dead and buried.”

He scratches at his head. “Well, shit. I was only being honest.”

“Of course you were.”

With a smile, he takes a step back. I miss him immediately. The heat and the feel of him. The warm and familiar scent of his body. Maybe I should have taken him home last night. Though this slower pace has a sweetness and heat I can’t help but enjoy. Despite the crazy things that come out of his mouth and the insane cravings he inspires in me just by existing. Damn the man.

“So,” he says.

I break out in gooseflesh from the way he looks at me. As if not only am I the only woman in the room (which I am), but quite possibly on the whole damn planet. As I’ve mentioned before, his attention is addictive.

“How about I get the mopping done and then take you on a second date to the diner?” he asks. “See if I can’t bring the romance back to our burgeoning long-term relationship.”

“A second date, huh?”

“It’s a big step, I know. But I think we’re ready. What do you think?”

I nod, my stomach turning upside down. “Let’s do it.”

Synopsis

I’m the type of girl who’s given up on fairy tales. So when Beck – the hot new busboy at work – starts flirting with me, I know better than to get my hopes up. Happily ever afters aren’t for the average. I learned that the hard way.

But how can I be expected to resist a man who can quote Austen, loves making me laugh, and seems to be everything hot and good in this world?

Only there’s so much more to him than that.

Billionaire playboy? Check.

Troubled soul? Check.

The owner of my heart, the man I’ve moved halfway across the country to be with, who’s laying the world at my feet in order to convince me to never leave? Check. Check. Check.

But nobody does complicated like the one percent.

This is not your everyday rags-to-riches, knight-in-shining armor whisking the poor girl off her feet kind of story. No, this is much messier.

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About Kylie

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013, 2014 & 2018, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.

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The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo #newrelease #bookreview

Book Jacket.Borgia Confessions

THE BORGIA CONFESSIONS: A Novel
By Alyssa Palombo

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin | On-Sale: February 11, 2020
Trade Paperback | 9781250191205 | $16.99
EBook | 9781250191212 | $9.99

The trials of Renaissance Italy play out through the eyes of one of Italy’s most powerful men – Cesare Borgia – as well as one of the least powerful – a simple maid. In THE BORGIA CONFESSIONS (St. Martin’s Griffin; on sale February 11, 2020; $16.99), author Alyssa Palombo brings a story of passion, politics, and class, set against the rise and fall of one of Italy’s most infamous families–the Borgias.

During the sweltering Roman summer of 1492, Rodrigo Borgia has risen to power as pope. Rodrigo’s eldest son Cesare, forced to follow his father into the church and newly made the Archbishop of Valencia, chafes at his ecclesiastical role and fumes with jealousy and resentment at the way that his foolish brother has been chosen for the military greatness he desired.

Maddalena Moretti comes from the countryside, where she has seen how the whims of powerful men wreak havoc on the lives of ordinary people. But now, employed as a servant in the Vatican Palace, she cannot help but be entranced by Cesare Borgia’s handsome face and manner and finds her faith and conviction crumbling in her want of him.

As war rages and shifting alliances challenge the pope’s authority, Maddalena and Cesare’s lives grow inexplicably entwined. Maddalena becomes a keeper of dangerous Borgia secrets, and must decide if she is willing to be a pawn in the power games of the man she loves. And as jealousy and betrayal threaten to tear apart the Borgia family from within, Cesare is forced to reckon with his seemingly limitless ambition.

My Review

Rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

This book is overall a meticulously researched and well-written historical romance set in 15th century Italy. The author’s descriptive writing really kept me engrossed in the story and I enjoyed reading about the politics of that time. The plot itself is interesting enough to make the 400-page novel a fairly quick read. The author does a good job of interweaving facts with fiction.

It is a story combining elements of historical fiction with romance, bringing the ruthless Borgia family to life, with their many faults. They were the definition of power mongers, using any means possible to become the greatest family in all of Italy. The story is instantly gripping. You are immediately immersed in the Borgia family’s complex world.

The story is told through the voices of Cesare Borgia, chosen to follow in his father’s footsteps, and of a fictional character, Maddalena Moretti, a penniless widow employed at the Vatican to attend to Lucrezia Borgia.

Cesare is forced by his father to become a man of the cloth and carry on the Borgia legacy. His life was irrevocably changed once his father became the head of the Church. To consolidate his power, Rodrigo Borgia turned his children into political pawns. Cesare is a hard character to pin down. The portrayal is of a flawed yet endearing character. He is ruthless and cunning in his protection of his family’s interest.

Maddalena is a sweet and loyal character. She finds herself in the middle of the Borgias’ plotting. She is torn between religious correctness and the true love she feels for Cesare. She seems to possess all the necessary qualities for happiness and yet, she is just a pawn in an era of greed and corruption.

I really liked this book and highly recommend it to everyone who loves historical fiction.

Many thanks to the publisher for the advanced review copy of this book.

Excerpt

Chapter 3

MADDALENA

Not much changed for those of us in service at the Vatican Palace when the new pope took over. There were still the same tasks to see to, the same rooms to be cleaned, the same floors to be scrubbed, and the same laundry to be washed. The Holy Father was to be obeyed whoever he was, and his earthly house was to be kept clean and running smoothly so he could attend to far more lofty matters. One morning I was returning to the kitchens with an empty tray from one of the cardinals’ rooms—the new Vice-Chancellor, Ascanio Sforza by name—when I passed a man heading for the Holy Father’s audience chamber. He was rather garishly dressed, in brightly colored hose and tunic with a huge codpiece, and wear- ing a hat with a large feather in it. He winked and leered at me as I passed, and I cast my eyes down. Surely such a man was not fit for an audience with the Holy Father?

I caught up with one of the other maids, Fabrizia, at the end of the hallway. “Fabrizia,” I murmured, my voice low so my words would not echo off the marble floors and walls, “who is that man?” I jerked my chin toward the man’s retreating back.

She snickered. “That’s Juan Borgia. The pope’s son,” she confided. I gasped. All of Rome knew of the existence of Cardinal Borgia’s children—Pope Alexander, I corrected myself. It was no secret that many of the other cardinals had mistresses and bastard children as well. But for a pope to acknowledge such children . . . “He brings his children into the Vatican?” I asked, shocked. “He allows them to be known as such, even now that he has been made pope?”

Fabrizia nodded. “It is unusual, indeed. No referring to them as his nephews or nieces, as popes usually do. And you know he keeps a mistress, yes?”

I gasped again. I had heard the whisperings, but I tried my best to close my ears to such things. Gossip—especially gossip about the Holy Father—was a sin.

Yet my curiosity rose, despite my pangs of guilt. I shall confess this sin after Mass on Sunday, I promised myself. “I . . . he does?” I asked.

Fabrizia’s eyes gleamed, and she drew me into a small alcove. She was well and truly settled in to gossip. “Oh, yes. Honestly, Maddalena, even for a country bumpkin you seem altogether too innocent sometimes—and you a widow, no less. Her name is Giulia Farnese and she is the most beautiful woman in Rome. He keeps her with his cousin, Adriana, and his daughter, Lucrezia. Can you imagine? And La Bella Farnese is married to Adriana’s own son! They were just married when Giulia La Bella caught Cardinal Bor- gia’s eye, and so Donna Adriana banished her son to the country estates to get him out of the way—before the cuckold’s horns were even properly affixed to his head, they say.” She snickered.

“If the stories are true, Cardinal Borgia—Pope Alexander—has rewarded Adriana and her family richly, including the poor cuckolded son, which is exactly what she was hoping for.” She leaned closer and lowered her voice further. “He is said to be moving them to the pal- ace of Santa Maria in Portico. He wants La Bella Farnese nearer to him—they say there is a secret passage that connects the Vatican Palace to that one, so he can visit her in secret.”

I crossed myself automatically. “God forgive him,” I said. “He has been led astray by a harlot.” Immediately I regretted my words—he was the Holy Father; he could do no wrong. Who was I to criticize, when I could not understand the ways in which God spoke to His representative on earth? “But that is not for us to say,” I added hastily.

Fabrizia rolled her eyes. “Indeed,” she said. “All I know is men do what they want, whether they wear hose or a cardinal’s robes. Or a pope’s, even. I don’t know that God has much to say about it. But his son, that Juan . . .” She nodded in the direction from which we’d come. “They say Pope Alexander has big plans for him, and for his other son, Cesare. He’ll not let his children fade into the background, not the Borgia pope.”

It was some weeks before I saw the other son, Cesare. It was late evening, and he looked to be heading in the direction of the pope’s private rooms. I curtsied to him as he passed in the darkened hall- way in his purple archbishop’s robes. I felt his eyes on me as I curt- sied, and when I rose our eyes met briefly. Goodness, but he was handsome, with his head of thick, dark curls under his cap and his dark eyes and the stubble lining his cheeks and chin, which looked like they belonged on a statue in the Vatican gardens. He was much more handsome than his fop of a brother, that was for certain. His eyes turned away, forward once more.

My cheeks burned with shame as I continued on, back to my cot in the bowels of the palace where I shared a room with three other maids. Cesare Borgia was a man of God, an archbishop, no less—it was not meet that I should think him comely or attractive.

I crossed myself, whispering a silent prayer of forgiveness. Back in my room, I bent over the handkerchief I was embroidering, squinting at it in the dim light, and recited a prayer with each few stitches to keep my thoughts from wandering where they did not belong.

About the Author

Alyssa Palombo.credit Jennifer Hark-HameisterALYSSA PALOMBO is the author of The Violinist of Venice, The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence, and The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel. She is a recent graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively. A passionate music lover, she is a classically trained musician as well as a big fan of heavy metal. When not writing, she can be found reading, hanging out with her friends, traveling, or planning for next Halloween. She lives in Buffalo, New York, where she is always at work on a new novel.