Thursday, April 23, 2015

Reviewing Scarlet & Lady Thief AGAIN! books by AC Gaughen, re-read by me


Scarlet (Scarlet, #1) Lady Thief (Scarlet, #2)

When I finished the series, reading Lion Heart, I had to go back and re-read the first two books in the series. This is one of those series where the first read is not the same as any subsequent read.

So... don't spoil the books by figuring out who Will Scarlet is, etc, etc, My first review of Scarlet is here.  It's spoiler-free like the following is NOT.

Reviewing Scarlet & Lady Thief after reading Lion Heart.

Reading back through the series, I couldn't believe how much of a romance the story is.  I was caught up in the action on the first read. I paid close attention to the characters, since Scarlet is revealed sooooooo slowly and everyone else rather follows suit.

The second time, I knew who Prince John was much, much better. I already thoroughly disrespected his wife, for example, even as I realized how her opinion of Guy Gisbourne affected his life as much as his place in society. (Pawn!!) In fact, there's a kind of sick satisfaction with how much Prince John knows and toys with her while she believes she has the power.  My sense of justice is served regarding her, although, she receives a sort of HEA that is much improved over dear PJ.

PJ, himself, has more of a realistic ending which made me respect the queen mother more. I mean, she really has a grasp of how the life of chess is played among royalty. In fact, Eleanor (is that her name?) is awe-inspiring. She sees further than anyone and acts strategically. I enthusiastically disagreed with her along with Scarlet when she did, but at the same time, the more I knew of the queen mother, the more I respected her up to the end of the series and beyond.

So... Prince John, PJ, is just rotten. He's one of those motivators that makes other characters stand out depending on how they act and react around him, but he, himself, is just rotten. One of those bad guys I love hating and honestly wish I didn't hate quite so much.  He has so much opportunity to make good choices and never does unless all other options are removed from his grasp. Snake.

Scarlet detests the name Marian and is never called "maid", so it's like Gaughen totally re-created the character completely. (Duh, right?)  The essentials are as I felt they should be. She has power, but must move carefully, strategically or lose everything. The stakes are always so dang high. As the series progresses, the danger expands from her life to her band's life to the town, to all of Nottingham to the entirety of the country of England. Her perspective expands behind the stakes... so she's always discounting her involvement to the point that she nearly forfeits her chance at victory. I don't blame her, though. I don't always agree with her choices initially, but they're logical. (And she comes 'round.) In the end, I thoroughly loved her, cover to cover. Not unlike the general masses of fans who don't really know who she is... she deserves the fame and glory by the end. And that's saying something since she starts out as a gutter thief only.

Robin or The Hood is not as awesome as Scarlet is.  He's very, very human and can't overcome his opponents like Scarlet manages to.  Logically, he is more evenly matched in battle because his strengths are more obvious, whereas Scarlet is quite sneaky with her knives, but I did get a bit... well... he sure needed rescuing a lot.  I love his inner demons, although they show up so viciously that I can't believe they hid so well at the beginning. I still love 'em. They add such humanity and vulnerability to him in a powerful sort of way and I love how they're resolved and he discovers peaceful sleep. I did like all that. But the way he is predictable and defenseless against stronger muscle and PJ's chess moves... that part was always a bit stinky to me. It kind of makes some of Scarlet's choices more logical, but I still didn't like 'em. I wanted Robin to live up to his hero status a bit more... although, I'm sure the idea of having Scarlet as the victorious person behind his hero status will be very appealing to many. Lol. For me, I like a guy who is equal to or in competition with my awesome woman, and Robin attains that in a shadowy way, but he really needs rescuing a lot.

John Little or Little John... is one of those OMG-I-LOVE-YOU characters for me. He has faults that make him deep and human, but I couldn't help liking him right from the start. I was quite convinced that Scarlet would get together with him the first time I read the first book because I was so sure "Maid Marian gets Robin Hood" that I missed all the hints that made John incompatible with her. So... I was quite pre-disposed to like him best whether I wanted to or not. He gets to keep that status forever since he leaves the story so dramatically, darn him.

Much is pretty darn cool. So steady and so nice... he's good scenery for the rest to be dramatic in the vicinity of.  He nearly meets an untimely end, but Gaughen has mercy on him and me, both. His disability, with missing a hand after being caught stealing (before Scarlet showed him how to get away with it) is nicely done and turns into a great twist. Scarlet helps him manage his goals despite missing his hand and receives her own advice in bucket-fulls when she finds herself facing similar challenges. Much never has to say or do anything, necessarily, but his success is a testimony of not giving up.

I know I was rough on Robin... but the romance between Robin and Scarlet is absolutely beautiful and my favorite part of the series. It's really a love story, beginning to end. *sigh*  They face so many obstacles including their own morals, darn them. There are scenes... that just wow.  So many of them.  There's a thousand hints and references that I saw the second time through the book that I'd overlooked the first time. Not that I hadn't seen them before, I just was afraid for broken hearts and wasn't sure how much weight to give those tiny moments. But the second time through I relished each one.  Each look, each pause, each fixing of wounds... each jump into the cold lake!

Their romance is stolen in shadowed corners or high branches in a tree... so many little moments that mean mountains to each of them.  They face death and separation at every turn, but their biggest obstacle is always themselves. Either they discount the emotions of the moment or lie in bed for hours, alone and un-chaperoned, but won't kiss because that would be a sin.  Not that I didn't value how they defined their boundaries and stood by them, that was honorable, just... for cryin' out loud... they're the only ones who ever even know they create such boundaries and stand by them.

I suppose that's a good question. If I'm the only one who knows I lived by my standards, does that mean I've accomplished my goal?  Like... if a tree falls in a forest and no one's there, does it make a sound? lol  I guess part of me believes that standards are meant to be seen, that an inherit part of having a standard is for human interaction about that standard. Well, anyway, Rob and Scar know they lived by their standards and having such high ones did affect the rest of their lives.

I think it's obvious that I love where the series ends. Wasn't sure Happily Ever After was possible in this case, but Gaughen pulls it off in dramatic fashion. Maybe too dramatic, but it is a re-telling of a legend, so that's to be expected.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

On Tour with @PrismBookTours - A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

We're launching the REVIEW & EXCERPT TOUR for:
A Love Like Ours
By Becky Wade

Is there hope for Jake Porter after struggling with PTSD? Will the love of an old childhood friend, Lyndie James, be enough? Come along with us as we share reviews and excerpts from their story. And be sure you order your copy of A Love Like Ours by May 17th to have part of your proceeds go to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (more details below).

Tour Schedule:
April 20th - Launch
May 27th - Grand Finale

Part of the Proceeds from A Love Like Ours to Go to Charity
From Author Becky Wade

(Pin this image linking to the Tour Launch for an extra giveaway entry.)

First of all, I was inspired to give to a charity through my novels because of general market author Kristan Higgins. For her past several releases, Kristan has donated a portion of the proceeds on her book’s first week of sales to The Fisher House Foundation. I thought it was wonderful — that she’d found a way to give back through her work. Not only was she donating money to Fisher House, but she was also raising general awareness about the charity. I'd never heard about Fisher House before Kristan, but now I know about them and about how they help veterans and their families.

My research prior to writing Jake’s book further motivated me. I read a biography written by a Marine with PTSD. I researched PTSD and I read lots of online accounts of servicemen who experienced trauma while serving overseas. (Who’d had first hand experience of IEDs, etc). THEN I actually wrote Jake’s book and tried to put myself in his shoes.

All that to say… I definitely felt led to give some of my earnings on A Love Like Ours to an organization that helps veterans.

I picked Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF for short). Check out their website which contains more details about how they support veterans. They have a series of excellent videos on YouTube of veterans talking about their experiences and how IFHF has helped them.

I love what they do because they focus on psychological health conditions like PTSD as well as physical injuries and brain injuries.

I’ve been corresponding with IFHF and staff members at Bethany House and it’s official. I'll be giving a percentage of my earnings on A Love Like Ours from whenever the book starts selling through May 17th to IFHF.

A Love Like Ours (Porter Family #3)A Love Like Ours
(Porter Family #3)
by Becky Wade
Christian Contemporary Romance
Paperback, 368 Pages
May 5th 2015 by Bethany House Publishers

Deeply scarred from a day he wishes he could forget during his military service, Thoroughbred trainer Jake Porter has given up on love. He struggles against symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake's childhood best friend, returns to their hometown of Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake trusts her with his prized racehorse, Silver Leaf, then battles his hopes for his horse against his increasing fear for Lyndie's safety.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake's will, Lyndie's sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he's built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he'd thought he'd lost returns. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

During her childhood in California, Becky Wade frequently produced homemade plays starring her sisters, friends, and cousins. These plays almost always featured a heroine, a prince, and a love story with a happy ending. She's been a fan of all things romantic ever since.

Becky and her husband lived overseas in the Caribbean and Australia before settling in Dallas, Texas. It was during her years abroad that Becky's passion for reading turned into a passion for writing. She published three historical romances for the general market, put her career on hold for many years to care for her kids, and eventually returned to writing sheerly for the love of it. She’s delighted to be penning warm, wry, and heartwarming contemporary romances for the Christian market. She's the Carol Award and Inspirational Reader's Choice Award winning author of My Stubborn Heart, Undeniably Yours, and Meant to Be Mine.

These days Becky can be found failing but trying to keep up with her housework, sweating at the gym, carting her kids around town, playing tennis, hunched over her computer, eating chocolate, or collapsed on the sofa watching TV with her husband.

Other Books by the Author
Tour Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
Signed copy of A Love Like Ours (US Only)
1 Kindle ebook (gifted through Amazon) of A Love Like Ours (INT - if available in your area)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

5.5 Review of Lion Heart by AC Gaughen

  Lion Heart (Scarlet, #3)

The Scarlet Series:  Scarlet, Lady Thief & Lion Heart
by AC Gaughen

I loved Scarlet and gave it 4.5 Stars.  I have looked, but I can't find that I reviewed Lady Thief, but I'm not surprised. The story was cut off in a horrible place and I was left sort of mid-gasp, unable to release thoughts to write a review. Even though I ought to have as a "thank you" for the author's visit to Colorimetry. Yeah... AC Gaughen's awesome.

My intro to the legend of Robin Hood was one of those old, old books in the library my dad got me when I was 10 and we lived in London. It's called Robin Hood and His Merrie Men, a Regency Classic printed by The Thames Publishing Co. There is no author listed or date of publishing. I assumed it was "the" story, like the actual history of Robin Hood.  Lol.  I enjoyed Disney's version when it came out since it had the same flavor of facing injustice with humor and getting rewarded for it.

But I much prefer AC Gaughen's version and it is now "the real story" in my world. I prefer grit and real danger, now, not to mention a great romance that grows up and around the story.
Scarlet (Scarlet, #1)
The romance in this series requires all three books to happen. In Scarlet there's the awakening, a realization and recognition. The characters are so real and full of chasms of flaws that the romance and the story both might never happen if left to their own devices.  My review of Scarlet is here on Goodreads:

Lady Thief (Scarlet, #2)In Lady Thief, the romance gets complicated and then impossible and then... the impossibility is removed leaving the romance hanging, like a minor note that lingers in the air long after the song stops. The action is so intense that the romance has to step back, but that was where I was looking at the end of the book, for Rob.  There are so many stories that throw caution and standards to the wind in order to live in the moment.  Scar and Rob don't throw anything anywhere. They stick to their decisions like they're cutting off their own limbs to accomplish it. I felt frustrated and cheated and at the same time, honorable. Stubborn. Too, too risky.

I got an early review copy of Lion Heart and now I'm a puddle of melted forever-fan.  I was a fan before, obviously, I just wasn't sure where Gaughen was going to take us especially after Lady Thief and I have my sanity to think of, you know. I don't just read books, I climb inside them and live them. And... potentially die in them and it's hard to live through that.

I do most of my reading on public transit these days and I lost track of where we were more than a few times, I was so sucked into Scar's life. I had to wipe away tears more than a few times, too. (Public be darned.) I had to get used to the language that Scar talks in and then pull out of it again after I was immersed. I had to read quickly... I had to know if everyone survived this realistic version and I just wasn't sure if they would at any point of the story. (I recommend one sitting if you can clear your schedule for it.)

And I'm not telling whether they do or don't.  Live.

I will say, though, that I felt justified and satisfied and I love Scar and Rob, even if (because) they do get picked on a LOT and can't miraculously get out of trouble like the cartoon or kids' history version I read when I was 10 years old.  In fact, this is so much more realistic and I believe in Scar or people like her (just as AC Gaugen says in the afterward/acknowledgment, which I read all of) and I love being her.

I'll definitely get this entire series for my library.  The final book brings the entire series up to 5.5 Stars, instant re-read, for me. It pulls everything together. Perfectly. Nail-bitingly. Must-read-it-again-ily.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Launching the @PrismBookTours Katia's Promise by Catherine Lanigan

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

We're launching the BOOK TOUR for:
Katia's Promise
By Catherine Lanigan

How does it feel when you've lost love, especially when you're the one who walked away? Katia is going home to win back someone she left behind. Can she mend the heart of the man she loves as well as her own?

Tour Schedule:
April 19th - Launch
April 20th - Coffee Books & Art
April 21st - Deal Sharing Aunt
April 22nd - The Written Adventure
April 28th - Mel's Shelves
May 1st - Grand Finale

Exclusive Interview with the Author

1. What is your motivation behind this book? Why did you want to write it?

Katia’s story goes all the way back to the night that I woke up at three in the morning with my dream still in my head about this auburn haired, beautiful woman standing under a street lamp, around midnight, looking up at a single burning bedroom lamp in the mansion across the street. In my “vision” the woman turned to me and stared. She told me that I was to write her story. I knew instantly that she was in love with the man in that house and that he was awake thinking of her. I also knew that she couldn’t “go” to him because he would have nothing to do with her. She was the one who had broken his heart when they were teenagers and not only had he not forgotten her, he had become the town’s recluse because she abandoned him.

Katia’s story did not evolve the way some stories do for me, but was just “there—everywhere.” Despite the fact that this book is the fourth in my Indian Lake Series, her story was the impetus for my ability to “see” these romances in this small lovely town.

That said, I should go back to the very beginning of The Indian Lake Series. Long before there was Heartwarming as Harlequin’s line of books, I sensed, intuited, realized (use whatever word you want here) that there was a huge market for not just Christian based romances or Amish romances, but clean romances that had some tough issues in them as well. I invented Indian Lake along the lines of Jan Karon’s small town Midford. I loved those books, but I wanted more characters, more individual stories. I based my little town on my hometown of La Porte, Indiana---just with a better paint job on the downtown buildings.

Once the anchor characters came to me, the octogenarian Mrs. Beabots, Sarah Jensen, Maddie Strong, Liz Crenshaw, Austin McCreary and the four handsome Barzonni brothers, it didn’t take long for me to realize there were dozens upon dozens of romances and life stories in Indian Lake. My proposal for the series was 155 pages long. Half the characters I came up with in the beginning may never have a story of their own to be written as they are most likely too eccentric for Heartwarming, but who knows what the future will bring?

2. What do you hope readers take away with them when they read your books?

I always want to entertain to the best of my ability on that given moment in my life when I’m writing. Depending on the story, I hope readers find hope, laughter and inspiration to keep believing that love creates miracles in life. I truly do believe that. I believe what Jesus said, that of all the gifts, love is the greatest of all. It takes a great deal of courage to extend ourselves to someone else, to risk our hearts which can be so easily broken and say, “Here. Take my life. It’s yours.” Frankly, that’s a huge conflict to get over. I think that’s why romances appeal to so many people. Loving is not easy. It’s tough. It’s always thinking of the other person first, especially when we have so many other things to do, places to go, etc. In KATIA’S PROMISE, she has to go back to Indian Lake and face the one person whom she has betrayed. For all the good she’s done in her life since she was 16, this is a lot of regret to swallow.

3. Do you have a favorite scene?

There are quite a few in this story, but my favorite is when Katia is so desperate to get Austin to talk to her that she “breaks” into his house to see him. Katia had been the maid’s daughter in Austin’s parents’ mansion when she was a little girl. Therefore, this house had been her childhood home as well. Once she was a teenager, she fell in love with Austin and he with her. However, Katia’s mother feared their growing relationship and moved Katia and herself to Chicago on the eve of Katia’s trip to New York for Austin’s senior prom. Austin waited at La Guardia for Katia to show up, but she never did. Katia was ashamed that her mother thought she might become pregnant and was too embarrassed to ever call Austin again. Austin never forgave her—and never forgot her. Katia has kept the key to Austin’s home all these years. Once she comes back to Indian Lake, he won’t talk to her about the insurance policy she is trying to sell him. So, she goes to his house, uses the key and lets herself in. The security guards are alerted by the electronic security system. The cops show up. The housekeeper, Daisy, comes running and its pandemonium, while all this time, Austin is upstairs in the shower. It’s an embarrassing, but very humorous moment for Katia and Austin both!

4. Share something about you that is unique. How/where you write.

As I’ve become friends with authors over my thirty years of writing, I don’t think I’m unique at all. Maybe I used to be, but not really. I write at the same desk where I wrote my very first book, but now I’m back in my family home where I grew up. I have an incredible nearly 100 year old golf course to look out on. I love trees and animals, and right now the deer are eating all my holly bushes and have destroyed my landscaping. But they are living. My husband says we’ll buy iron yard sculptures in the future. Maybe not. I have more books in my head than I have time to write, but I’m trying. I write screenplays as well as novels and my husband is a film producer. Back in the day, when Romancing the Stone came out my life was beyond unique, it was incredible. Michael Douglas and Twentieth Century Fox sent me on book tour all across the US and even to Europe to promote the book and film. In Taormina, Sicily I stood on a stage in a coliseum that was 400 years older than the coliseum in Rome in front of thousands of people who were chanting my name. THAT was like living the lead character role in a novel.

Katia's Promise
(Shores of Indian Lake #4)
by Catherine Lanigan
Adult Contemporary Romance
May 1st 2015 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Katia Stanislaus is a top insurance agent in Chicago, but her company is about to fold if she can't pull off a miracle. She convinces her boss to relocate to Indian Lake where she lived as a child and broke the heart of the one man whose account would be enough to save her job and her company. The only problem is that Austin McCreary has been a near recluse since the day Katia left him. Austin won't take her calls and appears set on revenge for the pain Katia has caused him. Just seeing Austin, catapaults Katia back to the time when she was 16 and so very much in love. But it was just a teenage crush, wasn't it?

Other Books in the Series

Love Shadow (The Shores of Indian Lakes)Love Shadows
(Shores of Indian Lake #1)
by Catherine Lanigan
Adult Contemporary Romance
April 1st 2014 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Catherine Lanigan is the famous author with over 40 books published including "Romancing the Stone" and "Jewel of the Nile". This is the first in a series of at least five books about the romantic and electric world of Indian Lakes. 

One of the first characters we meet in the Indian Lakes series is Luke Bosworth. There are five stages of grief, and Luke Bosworth is stuck on anger. Unable to move on after his wife's death, he's struggling to make ends meet and be a good father to his children—a fight he's afraid he's losing. But then Sarah Jensen crashes into his life. 

Dealing with the loss of her mother, Sarah is a kindred spirit in grief. And even though he doesn't always agree with her actions, she renews hope for Luke and his kids. Suddenly he's making plans for the future again. But can he take the risk of falling in love a second time?

Heart's Desire
(Shores of Indian Lake #2)
by Catherine Lanigan
Adult Contemporary Romance
August 1st 2014 by Harlequin Heartwarming

His homecoming is bittersweet…for both of them 

CafĂ© owner Maddie Strong is finally ready to take her burgeoning cupcake business to the next level. With the help of handsome businessman Alex Perkins, her future's all mapped out. Until her first love comes home. 

At seventeen, Maddie adored Nate Barzonni with her whole heart and soul. But when he asked her to elope, she'd said no—she couldn't let him throw away his dream of becoming a doctor. Then he vanished from her life for eleven years. Now the cardiac surgeon has returned to Indian Lake asking for a second chance, and Maddie has to choose between her new life…and the man she never stopped loving.

A Fine Year for Love  (Shores of Indian Lake #3)A Fine Year for Love
(Shores of Indian Lake #3)
by Catherine Lanigan
Adult Contemporary Romance
January 1st 2015 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Her grandfather told her never to trust a Barzonni 

Nothing gives Liz Crenshaw more delight than walking the hills of her family's winery and tending her precious vines. And nothing frustrates her more than Gabe Barzonni, the handsome, successful and utterly aggravating son of Indian Lake's most prominent farmers. All her instincts scream "avoid," especially when she finds out he's going into the wine business himself. But Liz can't seem to shake him. One minute, he's nosing around her property, the next he's arranging to escort her to her best friend's wedding. Well, too bad. Whatever he has designs on—her or her land—Gabe is out of luck. Now, to get him out of her mind…

Catherine Lanigan is the bestselling author of over forty published titles in both fiction and non-fiction, including the novelizations of Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile, as well as over half a dozen anthologies, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living your Dream”, “Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul”, “Chocolate for a Woman’s Heart”, “Chocolate for a Woman’s Spirit”. Ms. Lanigan’s novels have been translated into over a twenty-four languages including German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese. Ms. Lanigan’s novels are also available in E-books on and Several of her titles have been chosen for The Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Clubs. Her Vietnam war-based novel, The Christmas Star, won the Gold Medal Award Top Pick from Romantic Times Magazine and also won Book of the Year Romance Gold Award from ForeWord Magazine as well as Book of the Year Romance from Reader’s Preference. Cedar Fort, Inc. published the third book of angelic interventions, Angel Tales. Angel Watch and Divine Nudges, the first two books in Lanigan’s Angel Watch series of books about divine intervention in human life, were published by HCI. Allworth Press released Lanigan’s “how-to” book on writing: Writing the Great American Romance Novel. Ms. Lanigan’s first Young Adult Adventure novel, The Adventures of Lillie and Zane: The Golden Flute was published by Cedar Fort. Lanigan was tasked by the NotMYkid foundation to pen a collection of compelling and informative true stories of teen addicts.

April, 2014 will see Lanigan’s new clean romance series HARLEQUIN HEARTWARMING’S publication of LOVE SHADOWS, the first in Lanigan’s “Shores of Indian Lake Series”. HEART’S DESIRE will also be published in 2014. A FINE YEAR FOR LOVE January, 2015. KATIA’S PROMISE May, 2015. Lanigan is working on the next three novels in her Indian Lake series for HARLEQUIN HEARTWARMING.

Ms. Lanigan is a frequent speaker at literary functions and book conventions as well as inspiring audiences with her real stories of angelic intervention from her Angel Tales series of books. She is an outspoken advocate for domestic violence and abuse and was honored by The National Domestic Violence Hotline in Washington, D.C. She has been a guest on numerous radio programs including “Coast to Coast” and on television interview and talk show programs as well as blogs, podcasts and online radio interview programs.

Cover Reveal & Tour Giveaway

$100 Amazon Gift Card
3 ebooks of Katia's Promise by Catherine Lanigan
Open internationally.
Ends May 8th

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Harlequin Heartwarming Giveaway!! Win a great prize pack or MORE!!

The authors over at Harlequin Heartwarming are hosting a fabulous giveaway this month! Be sure to enter and comment over on their blog on each day's post for extra entries. Here's all the info:

After the long, harsh winter most of us endured, what better way to celebrate spring—and our April and May Heartwarming releases—than with an exciting new giveaway? As with any celebration, the more the merrier, and we hope you will join us.

First, here are the beautiful covers of the April and May books . . .

And here’s what we have planned to warm your heart and chase away any lingering winter blahs. All eight Heartwarming authors with April and May releases have teamed up to offer two prize packs of four books each. We will also give away one grand prize consisting of all eight books and a stunning mix of “ever-blooming” spring garden flowers, for use indoors or out. These are gifts you can enjoy time and again, as you can read our books over and over, and the flowers won’t fade when winter threatens, since they're steel, painted in bright colors.

Our first prize pack contains:

The Truth About Hope by Kate James
Katia’s Promise by Catherine Lanigan
Raising the Stakes by Karen Rock
A Case for Forgiveness by Carol Ross

These books are certain to provide hours of springtime reading pleasure!

Our second prize pack contains:

The Long Road Home by Lynn Patrick
Man of His Word by Cynthia Reese
Fighting for Keeps by Jennifer Snow
Firefly Nights by Cynthia Thomason

Another set of four wonderful stories you will surely enjoy!

Finally, our grand prize winner will receive all eight books, along with an “ever-blooming” spring garden, consisting of a bouquet of 13 white daisies, two periwinkle blue alliums and a set of 13 black-eyed Susans, a retail value of over $150 US, before shipping.

Photos and “ever-blooming” flowers from Gardener’s Supply Company (

Now if that isn’t enough, we have a bonus book for each prize pack. Harlequin MIRA and Harlequin Intrigue author Elizabeth Heiter will include one of her recent releases—winner’s choice—in each of the prize packs.

There are three exciting prize packs waiting to be won. The contest runs until April 25th. Enter as often as you like. Post a comment right here on our blog for two entries, visit our Facebook pages, follow us on Twitter, and tweet about the contest once a day while it's running! And check back here on April 26th to see if you are a lucky winner!

Happy spring . . . and happy reading!

(Please note, prize packs can only be shipped to a continental US or Canadian address. International winners will receive the books only, in e-book format.)

Photos and “ever-blooming” flowers from Gardener’s Supply Company (

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Must reside in the US/CAN for print copies; if outside these countries ebooks only will be sent from the prize packs. You must be at least 13 years old to enter and if under 18 must have adult or guardian permission. This giveaway is in no way affiliated with Facebook, Twitter, Google or any other entity other than the authors involved. Void where prohibited by law.

Friday, April 17, 2015

New Release: The Violet Hour by Brynn Chapman @PrismBookTours

Through Prism Book Tours.

We're celebrating the RELEASE of 
The Violet Hour
By Brynn Chapman

Check out the book and author info, exclusive excerpt, and enter the giveaway below...

The Violet Hour
Brynn Chapman
YA Romantic Historical Fantasy
ebook, 209 Pages


Allegra Teagarden, a musical prodigy, flees her father’s dominance and abuse while touring in pre-civil war Charleston, South Carolina. Plagued by depression over her mother’s suicide during their previous visit, she escapes in an effort to piece together the details behind her mother’s mysterious demise.


Down to her final coin, Allegra happens on Charleston’s Fancy, the first southern amusement park, which is searching for musicians for its orchestra. At first, the park seems her salvation; but she quickly realizes she has traded the dominance of her father, for the even more terrifying madness of the owner, Silas.

And more secrets.

Allegra meets the dashing Brighton LeFroy, Fancy’s engineer and pyrotechnics master. His shabby clothing cannot conceal the brilliant mind beneath. The musician’s whisper he is a witch, is obsessed with storms, and is fly. And despite the danger, despite her own misgivings, Allegra is inexplicable drawn to him.

She ventures to his reclusive home on Fire Isle during a thunderstorm and together they seek to unravel an ancient mystery.

Exclusive Excerpt

     LeFroy stares out the window, his brow creased in thought. He remains statue-still, as he has for the past quarter hour, oblivious to the late afternoon sun that bathes his face in a beautiful golden-amber.
     I stare intently, reveling in the rare opportunity to drink in his features.
     His dark curly hair is in need of a cutting and his thin lips turn down as he absently bites the side of his nail, lost to himself. He is not a classic beauty—but the singularity of his face demand’s attention.
     Not all women would swoon for him. But something about him draws me…makes him utterly irresistible.
     The warmth on my chest again. Almost hot this time. I struggle not to look down my dress to examine what I imagined to be an inevitable rash, but all I see is the Magnolia pattern—the patch on my dress, lovingly sewn by my mother’s hand.
     I banish the thought. I shall not think on her now.
     Brighton clears his throat, driving away my mother’s ghost and I struggle for words. When he regards me, my tongue seems to shrivel in my mouth.
     It is his eyes. They…speak. Sometimes whisper, sometimes shout.
     They now squint, as whatever vexing scenario playing on his mind continues to dominate his demeanor. He doesn’t move. Doesn’t speak.

Brynn ChapmanBorn and raised in western Pennsylvania, Brynn Chapman is the daughter of two teachers. Her writing reflects her passions: science, history and love—not necessarily in that order. In real life, the geek gene runs strong in her family, as does the Asperger’s syndrome. Her writing reflects her experience as a pediatric therapist and her interactions with society’s downtrodden. In fiction, she’s a strong believer in underdogs and happily-ever-afters. She also writes non-fiction and lectures on the subjects of autism and sensory integration and is a medical contributor to online journal The Age of Autism.

She also writes under the pseudonym R.R. Smythe .

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

4.5 stars for Victoria Alexander's The Daring Exploits of a Runaway Heiress

The Daring Exploits of a Runaway Heiress (Millworth Manor, #5)

The Daring Exploits of a Runaway Heiress
by Victoria Alexander
Paperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: April 28th 2015 by Zebra
I scooped up the next in the series at the earliest opportunity.  Naturally.

Channing of Millworth Manor, formerly of the banking industry in America, was formerly unofficially engaged to Lucy Merryweather. Lucy came with him (or after him) to America and was delighted to see that he had fallen in love with Teddy. (Do keep up. That review was yesterday.)

Lucy is much more innocent than many of the rest of the scandalous ladies in this series, but she did have a character for a great aunt (of the same name) who left her an interesting list of regrets. Lucy decides to live the life her relative wished she had... but in her own way and with her own flair, which I love. She accomplishes the "getting painted in the nude" in a way she can live with and made me feel just enough daring without crawling out of my own skin. Perfect.

Cameron Effington comes from a very up-standing family, which I already know, as I've said already. We've met them before, but not so closely that we knew THIS brother in particular. I was, however, acquainted with his very stiff father, somewhat more accepting mother and brothers who are willing to hide each other's exploits, if needed. Because they keep their sister's business a secret. Hey... isn't she Lady Miranda Garrett, the architect?!  Nice.

They change names as it suits them, which is how Cameron becomes "Fairfield", his mother's name, so he can work as a writer for a (scandalous, of course) newspaper. He needs inspiration to produce a book before his father demands that he work nevermore (!!) and he finds his muse in Lucy.

Lucy is a bit of a flutterhead, so used to being good and kind that it takes her awhile to find her groove and sometimes she needs to express herself abundantly to find it. Lol. There are some repetitive bundles of dialogue as she makes her way, but they do fit her character, which really grew on me.  Cameron is great from the beginning, if he does have trouble finding his backbone.  Yeah... he also tries to appear like he's doing what he's expected to, much like Lucy. Only he nearly loses his way before he finds his, uh, you know.

I enjoyed the story immensely. I was delighted to find out more about a family with more siblings, too, which might mean more stories in the future since we seem to have run out of direct Millworth Manor connections.  This story takes place while Channing and Teddy are in limbo so we can borrow the Channing house before visiting Millworth Manor properly while Camille and Grayson are off on their honeymoon.   Oh yes, it's important to keep track of everyone and where they are. All of the characters, present or away, are vibrant and unique and I cannot wait for another in the series!!

4.5 Stars. Some parts in this story I loved more than the other books, like Lucy's innocence and choices, not to mention all the story-writing!!  There is an explicit love scene and it was great that it happened at night with the hall-sneaking that was so delightful in an earlier book... but I did skip it. It really, uh, got into detail and didn't require close attention to dialogue, or anything. *ahem* But I did pick up again just in time to get caught, which was hilarious.  No one ever gets caught, of course, until, you know, they do.

No real spoilers anywhere in this review. I left the fun stuff (hinted at in the premise) out. There is a colossal misunderstanding and story twists that are expected and unexpected, but the real fun is the writing style, again. Hilarious and fast paced, poking fun at all that's proper.

This book comes out very soon... you have time to read the entire series and figure out who is who and why it's shocking that Camille's dead father is now touring Europe with her mother and fun stuff like that.

Thx to the publisher and NetGalley for the early review copy.

Monday, April 13, 2015

3.2 Star review for The Shocking Secret of a Guest at the Wedding by Victoria Alexander

The Shocking Secret of a Guest at the Wedding (Millworth Manor, #4)

The Shocking Secret of a Guest at the Wedding
by Victoria Alexander

As the delightfully long name suggest, this is not a serious historical romance.

Once again a woman entrepreneur is hiding in proper society, only this is Delilah's best friend, the talented event planner, Lady Theodosia "Teddy" Winslow.  She has her hands full working with Camille, as we have already learned, is quite particular and a little looney.

The shocking secret guest is a long lost relative of uncle Channing. The return of Camille's father was quite shocking, already, but to discover that uncle Channing has an offspring and that he's male and therefore a successor to Millworth Manor... oh, yes, it is exciting.

Jackson Quincy Graham Channing thought his father was long-dead, proving that his mother fits in well with the rest of the characters in this series, since she let him believe so. Her only answer was, "I never denied that he wasn't."  Jackson has a lot to think about. Obviously Millworth Manor is a Big Deal, but so is his own legacy of taking over the banking business back home in America.

I enjoyed seeing all the Millworth Manor characters immensely. Teddy is fun, if a bit timid for my taste. Jackson is... well, definitely one of the relatives!  The ending is completely preposterous as if we must suddenly be realistic when nothing is remotely close to reality anywhere at any time.  Happily the characters have time to be themselves and work out their differences... but their patience, not to mention personal goals, etc, make this book probably my least fav of the bunch. Argh.

Happily... there's more.

3.2 Stars.

NOTE:  The required explicit romantic scene is included in the one chapter, just the way I appreciate it, where I can skip over and continue the otherwise clean-ish version. The writing style and witty dialogue will keep me waiting impatiently for more, thank you very much.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

4.8 Stars for The Scandalous Adventures of the Sister of the Bride by Victoria Alexander

The Scandalous Adventures of the Sister of the Bride (Millworth Manor, #3)

The Scandalous Adventures of the Sister of the Bride
by Victoria Alexander

Lol. This one is my favorite.  The adult content, I do warn, is more integrated through-out with the one explicit chapter (same as all the books in this series) but the scene includes important conversational pieces. There's no escaping the "adult", but I managed to bleep away details and laughed my delightful way through this book.  The title links to the Goodreads premise, if you're interested.

Obviously the title has gotten deliciously long. Hilarious.

Delilah is my favorite relative from Millworth Manor. She is so spunky, so full of attitude, I enjoyed her. She is so resistant to the idea of the American Samuel Russell, too.  It's one of those romances where she falls into it so thoroughly but denies every step, every look, every thought until she is completely contradicting herself from one end of a sentence to the other.

The story starts with a rather scandalous affair in America. Delilah has accompanied her older sister, Camille, as a proper escort as Camille visits her betrothed's (Grayson) connections and business associates. This is after that crazy Christmas in the first book and kind of during the second book.

As a proper escort, Delilah should NOT be having an affair with an unknown American. Who, as it turns out, is not really as unknown as she thought, but rather quite a business man and Grayson's best friend, Samuel Russell. But they don't know that until he shows up in England for the wedding and the two bump into each other unexpectedly.  It is especially hilarious since the affair was so memorable, but so completely impossible for either of them to pursue... so being thrown together all of a sudden, both of them staying at Millworth Manor (of course) is loaded with shocking, unexpected and laugh-out-loud moments.Samuel is just the right amount of persistent and stubborn to match Delilah very well with plenty of creative scheming of his own.

Delilah is widowed, naturally, so romantic interludes are acceptable in the society. The sneaking around in the middle of the night is absolutely hilarious. It's an entirely different perspective of proper English 1800's behavior.

The wit and charm and dialogue make this my favorite book, but there is enough adult romance to keep me from re-reading it much.  I'll give it 4.8 stars. Lol. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

4 Stars for The Importance of Being Wicked by Victoria Alexander

The Importance of Being Wicked (Millworth Manor, #2)

The Importance of Being Wicked
by Victoria Alexander
Mass Market Paperback, 358 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Zebra
So much for "never" reading adult romances with flashy women on the cover.  0.0

In my defense, the first book sucked me in and it's not my fault I needed to read more about the family.

Winfield, the gentleman in this story, is Grayson's very best friend and "brother" from What Happens at Christmas. In the first book we learn that Winfield has had multiple engagements that have all ended in being annulled, one way or another. The first time it happened was reasonable, the second time was astonishing, but three times is more like "fate" in this society where appearances is everything. (1800 something in England.)

He must, consequently, be avoided at all costs by everyone who is any eligible, marriageable woman.

HOWEVER... his house has burnt down. His manor is the large gorgeous thing next to Millworth Manor (of course) forcing Grayson to stay at Millworth (OF COURSE). Win is completely consumed with repairing the house. He is taking care of his aging parents who are really in denial at the scope of the project. So... he's on his own.

He gets bids and hires a very respectable construction company. And this is where it gets fun. *rubs hands gleefully*

The company is being run by a woman, unbeknownst to the wide world of "proper". Lady Miranda Garrett has been forced to continue the work of her dead husband because, as it turns out, he left her quite in debt. She was the secret architect all along, anyway, so it was easy to maintain the appearance of a successful business and pretend that she had no real part in it besides spending the income.

Except to the well-trained eye that recognizes her style of dress is a couple years out of date. As the Millworth Manor twins do. Of course.

The viscount (Winfield) project requires an architect to be on-site for the repairs, quite naturally, being an extensive, complicated project. Miranda manages to get herself invited to Millworth Manor where she can visit the project daily...

And so appearances start to break down and Win sees Miranda for who she (remarkably) is. Conflicts arise from all those fun things like being truthful and/or following society's rules. The biggest obstacles between these two are themselves and it is fun to watch as they accept themselves and each other... and appreciate the ghosts of ancestors past that come out of the woodwork.
4 Stars. I enjoyed it enough to continue the series, for sure. I love the idea of Miranda more than her actual character, but Win is wonderful. Plus there's enough of Millworth and those hilarious people to quite entertain... including sneak peaks at Camille and Grayson from another point of view and great preview of Samuel Russell and Delilah, Camille's younger sister, and the scandal of the next book in the series.

I don't remember why someone had to be wicked for this title.  It does come up, but I read this last December, so it has escaped me.

4.5 Stars for Victoria Alexander's What Happens at Christmas

What Happens At Christmas (Millworth Manor, #1)

What Happens at Christmas
by Victoria Alexander
Hardcover, 396 pages
Published November 2012 by Kensington
I found this bit o' treasure on BookBub for a great deal last December.  The cover is very innocent-looking compared to the rest of this adult romance series. My excuse for diving into the ENTIRE SERIES is this innocent cover, so look good and hard at the snow-globe setting and accept my innocence.  If you follow my blog, you know I don't "do" adult romance. My love scenes take place in my own bedroom with my own hero and I'm pretty stubborn about that.

I did read another book by Victoria Alexander, which I may review, and it was more of what I consider a "standard adult romance" with lots of innuendo and scenes and stuff. This series is unique, I like to tell myself, because the adult scene is (pretty much) contained to one chapter. There's adult situations, etc, don't misunderstand my meaning, but as an adult (who is married and "grown up" to some extent) who primarily reads Young Adult because of content level (not because I want to read about high school, no), but prefers "clean" romance, I have ADORED this entire series.

What Happens At Christmas introduces a hilarious family connected to Millworth Manor. Camille is the main character. She is a twin sister to a proper lady who is known for being scandalous in proper 1800's England. Her sister probably has a story somewhere... she's too detailed NOT to have a story, but I'm not sure I'm grown up enough to read it.

Camille is a widow, so we can toss the idea of "first time" out the window, which helped my sensibilities, anyway. She is known for getting into awkward situations from schemes gone awry. I did not at first like her character much, to be honest. Her morals are a bit upside down.

The hilariousness of this story happens when she decides it would be nice to marry a prince and snag him with a "perfect" English Christmas. Her family is far from perfect, so she hires actors to portray everyone. The concept sucked me in. The writing style had me laughing out loud. I was sold on the series, however, when NOTHING WORKED OUT.

The prince is not as romantic as he first appeared. An old friend drops in out of nowhere unexpectedly and turns every emotion upside down (yay, Grayson!) Actors get confused and "perfect" is left far behind... and then real family members drop in.  The more I read, the more I loved everyone, including Camille. Her family is outrageously fun and all proper behavior is abandoned to a mere, brittle shell of what it's supposed to be.

I loved it.

I'm giving this book 4.5 stars to leave room for others in the series I loved even more. If I could have warned myself I would have said, "when you reach the chapter where the clothes come off, just skip to the end of it and you'll have a clean read without missing too much story line."  The adult romance is quite explicit as would be expected from a bestselling romance author.

The high rating also takes into account how the characters remain through-out the series. Camille & Grayson are not my favorites, but I love that I know them.  I love that I met them first.