Friday, October 29, 2021

Spooky Quick Reviews

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix (2014)

Three employees of an Orsk store (basically an Ikea ripoff) volunteer to stay in the enormous warehouse overnight after the store is plagued by vandalism to see if they can figure out what's going on - is it an irate customer?  A disgruntled employee?  Or something more sinister?  This book was just wild and would make a perfect comedic/satirical horror movie!  Amy is our main character; she's so disillusioned by her job but decides to stay overnight because she needs the money.  What she and her colleagues encounter during their hours in the store is scary and horrific - I don't want to give too much away, because it's better to experience the store and its history yourself as it unfolds.  The descriptions do get very graphic and gory at times, so if you're not into that, this might not be the book for you.  And pay attention to the super-creepy illustrations!  This book is a short yet engrossing read, and you should definitely stick around for the epilogue!  4 stars

The Lost Village by Camilla Sten (2019)
In 1959, an entire village of people in Sweden disappeared, leaving behind only a woman stoned to death in the town square and an abandoned baby.  In the present-day, documentary filmmaker Alice and her team visit the deserted town, determined to find out what happened.  I loved the premise of this book - what happened to the townspeople?  How could they all literally disappear overnight?  The story is told in alternating timelines, which was really effective; I enjoyed seeing the story unfold in the past as the team in the present day searches for clues, while strange things begin happening to them (hearing strange voices, destroyed equipment, etc.).  At times the atmosphere was so creepy and eerie and I questioned my decision to read this book late at night!  Ultimately, there were parts about the reveal that just seemed odd and unbelievable to me, so I have to knock down my rating a bit, but overall, this was an atmospheric read perfect for fall!  4 stars
* This post contains affiliate links; I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Last House on the Street

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Diane Chamberlain
Expected publication date: January 11, 2022
From bestselling author Diane Chamberlain comes an irresistible new novel that perfectly interweaves history, mystery, and social justice.

When Kayla Carter's husband dies in an accident while building their dream house, she knows she has to stay strong for their four-year-old daughter. But the trophy home in Shadow Ridge Estates, a new development in sleepy Round Hill, North Carolina, will always hold tragic memories. But when she is confronted by an odd, older woman telling her not to move in, she almost agrees. It's clear this woman has some kind of connection to the area...and a connection to Kayla herself. Kayla's elderly new neighbor, Ellie Hockley, is more welcoming, but it's clear she, too, has secrets that stretch back almost fifty years. Is Ellie on a quest to right the wrongs of the past? And does the house at the end of the street hold the key? Told in dual time periods, The Last House on the Street is a novel of shocking prejudice and violence, forbidden love, the search for justice, and the tangled vines of two families. - from Goodreads

This sounds a bit creepy!  I need to know what's going on!

Monday, October 25, 2021

Blog Tour + Excerpt: Love In A Pickle


Love in a Pickle, an all-new standalone contemporary romance from L.B. Dunbar, is LIVE in Kindle Unlimited! 

When a mysterious silver fox becomes intrigued with this small town’s most disliked society woman, he finds she’s more than a little trouble and possibly a whole lot of heart.

Scotia Simmons. The name says it all—ornery, judgmental, mean—but underneath a woman like that is typically a shattered heart. Locked within her secrets, this fried pickle princess has used her unkindness as a shield of protection against the loneliness. However, menopause and a one-night stand can change a woman’s perspective on things. Who knew it would take a man the likes of him to push her strong will to its limits?

Chester Chesterfield. The name has more than one meaning—generous, quiet, private—but within one man is a multitude of personas. The gruff oil mogul has a wounded heart (and a big secret) that holds him hostage from the man he’s meant to be. His past defined him, or so he thought. He never imagined it’d take a woman like her to push him over his carefully constructed edges and show him love has no boundaries.

When you’re in a pickle, it’s time to relish what—or rather who—stands before you and accept that even over forty, a second chance at love can be a big dill (every pun intended).

'Love in a Pickle' is a full-length contemporary romance, can be read as a standalone, and is book #9 in the Green Valley Library series, Green Valley Chronicles, Penny Reid Book Universe.

Grab your copy TODAY!

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AU:


Read the Green Valley Library Series of Standalones for F-R-E-E in Kindle Unlimited!


I give Chester a five-second head start before I follow him. My heart bleeds for him after hearing the story he’s told me. This big, beautiful man—his heartbreak is so huge.

We move away from the crackle and snap of the fire and into silent darkness. The loud crunch of my wellies on gravel echoes in the night. My sister’s farm has been restored now that she owns it outright and shares the land with Jedd. He’s built a horse barn on the property, and Chester stalks in the direction of the structure.

I want him to talk to me, but he continues to walk faster without looking back. With his long legs, he’s put quite a distance between us. He detours into the barn as I’d suspected. Once I enter, he seems to have disappeared inside the dark building. Despite a dim light illuminating the passageway, I’ve lost him.

“I know you’re in here,” I call out as if we’re children playing a game of hide-and-seek. Perhaps we are, as it seems we share bits and pieces of ourselves with one another, hiding truths, and then seeking full disclosure. We’re . . . curious . . . about each other, or at least, I am about him. I want to know more about him. And I’m not letting him walk away after the bomb he just dropped.

I pause before a horse stall. The heavy breath of Lucky One steams into the cold passageway. Jedd breeds and trains horses for the rodeo. It’s a process I don’t pretend to understand, not being much of an animal lover myself, but it makes him happy. Jedd’s happiness makes Beverly ecstatic, which is something she rightfully deserves after all she’s been through.

I think about Chester. His best friend, Davis, and his wife, Harper, lost their lives in a house fire, leaving behind three beautiful boys. Chester is now their guardian and an excellent provider for them. For a moment, I wonder why he doesn’t live with them. Why does he live in a bus just over the border instead of the valley? I suppose the locale might have something to do with his ownership of The Fugitive, but then again, his Chesterfield Oil offices are said to be in Knoxville. There’s a hefty distance between the locations with Green Valley in the middle.

I’d reach up to pet the horse, but I’m afraid he’ll bite me. Jedd likes to call him a mean sonofabitch, yet surprisingly, the animal has a soft spot for Beverly. While Beverly loves animals, Naomi loves the woods, which reminds me of her Samhain ritual later tonight. I’m doing my part to keep up the sisterhood rejuvenation plan, and after what I’ve learned about Chester’s friends, I take a moment to recognize I’m blessed that my sisters are still with me. I’ve missed them. We’re very different people as adults, and in many ways, it should make us more incompatible than ever, but there’s something about blood I can’t deny. My sisters are the truest people I have in my life next to my daughter, who I haven’t spoken to in a week.

After a few minutes, I decide I’m not going to find Chester in the dimly lit barn and give up on the hope of him speaking further to me. I turn toward the entrance and pause when I see him blocking my exit.

“Why did you follow me?” His low, gruff tone startles me, and we stare at one another for a minute.

“Because I don’t want you hurting. That was a lot you shared, and I just want to be sure you’re—”

I’m cut off from more words as he closes the distance between us in three broad steps and crushes his mouth to mine. His hands firmly cup my face. He kisses me as though he can’t get close enough. Our mouths nip and suck, devouring one another, reminding me how I’ve never been thoroughly kissed. Never like this. 

About L.B. Dunbar

L.B. Dunbar has an overactive imagination. To her benefit, such creativity has led to over thirty romance novels, including those offering a second chance at love over 40. Her signature works include the #sexysilverfoxes collection of mature males and feisty vixens ready for romance in their prime years. She’s also written stories of small-town romance (Heart Collection), rockstar mayhem (The Legendary Rock Stars Series), and a twist on intrigue and redemption (Redemption Island Duet). She’s had several alter egos including elda lore, a writer of romantic magical realism through mythological retellings (Modern Descendants). In another life, she wanted to be an anthropologist and journalist. Instead, she was a middle school language arts teacher. The greatest story in her life is with the one and only, and their four grown children. Learn more about L.B. Dunbar by joining her reader group on Facebook (Loving L.B.) or subscribing to her newsletter (Love Notes).

Find L.B. Dunbar online






Connect with Smartypants Romance







Friday, October 22, 2021

Fiction/Nonfiction Quick Reviews: The Kennedy Edition

Five Days in November by Clint Hill with Lisa McCubbin (2014)

The story of the days surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, as told by the Special Agent in Charge of Mrs. Kennedy's Secret Service detail, Clint Hill.  Although this book isn't very long, it is a very detailed account of the President's trip to Texas that ended in tragedy.  Agent Hill, even 50 years later, remembers incredible details from the trip, from JFK's last interaction with his son to Jackie's poise under immense pressure.  Hill's account is succinct yet emotional and is accompanied by many photographs from the time, which greatly added to the story.  I could feel Hill's admiration for the First Lady in every word of his account, and the shock of the entire nation really comes through.  A truly unique perspective on a defining moment in America's history.  5 stars

And They Called It Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton (2020)
A story of the life of Jackie Kennedy, from the early 1950s through the late 1970s, focusing on the many public faces she showed and how she tried to forge her own identity.  I've always been fascinated by Jackie and JFK, and I thought this was a fantastic addition to the historical fiction genre.  Thornton's writing is so lovely and elegant, it really brought Jackie's voice to life.  Although there are a lot of events that I knew about, there were quite a few I didn't. I liked how Thornton included information about Jackie's preservation efforts.  Her many roles as a politician's wife, a mother, and a public figure in general were all given a place to shine, and I really feel like we were able to get inside her thoughts and experience how she really might have felt about certain things, in particular JFK's infidelities.  Thornton portrays Jackie as a complex and intelligent woman, and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  4 stars

* This post contains affiliate links; I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Weather Girl

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Rachel Lynn Solomon
Expected publication date: January 18, 2022 
A TV meteorologist and a sports reporter scheme to reunite their divorced bosses with unforecasted results in this charming romantic comedy from the author of The Ex Talk.

Ari Abrams has always been fascinated by the weather, and she loves almost everything about her job as a TV meteorologist. Her boss, legendary Seattle weatherwoman Torrance Hale, is too distracted by her tempestuous relationship with her ex-husband, the station’s news director, to give Ari the mentorship she wants. Ari, who runs on sunshine and optimism, is at her wits’ end. The only person who seems to understand how she feels is sweet but reserved sports reporter Russell Barringer.

In the aftermath of a disastrous holiday party, Ari and Russell decide to team up to solve their bosses’ relationship issues. Between secret gifts and double dates, they start nudging their bosses back together. But their well-meaning meddling backfires when the real chemistry builds between Ari and Russell.

Working closely with Russell means allowing him to get to know parts of herself that Ari keeps hidden from everyone. Will he be able to embrace her dark clouds as well as her clear skies? - from Goodreads

My sister has gotten me hooked on Rachel Lynn Solomon, so I'm definitely looking forward to this romance!

Monday, October 18, 2021

Guest Blogger: Backlist Musings

Michele is back today with another discussion guest post!  Today, Michele is talking about backlists - when you've enjoyed a book by a new-to-you author, do you immediately check out their backlist?

To Backlist or Not to Backlist?
When I first started getting into reading again a few years ago, it was very typical for me to read a new-to-me author, enjoy the book, and then immediately seek out their entire backlist.  Nowadays, having read so many different authors and with new, shiny books coming out all of the time, I really have to weigh the deep dive into any author’s backlist.
For newer authors, the backlist might only be a few books and be relatively easy to find at the library, etc.  However, there are those authors that either have a very long career or are very prolific at releasing books and their backlist can get overwhelming very quickly.  Authors also tend to get better at their craft over time and some of those early books might not up to the quality level of some of their new releases.  There are some authors I really enjoy that if I had only read their first couple books, I may not have continued with them.
Due to constraints on my time and the sheer amount of amazing books out in the world, I tend to now only go back a year or two in a new-to-me author’s backlist.  Maybe there is a recent series they completed or a few standalones, but they still let me enjoy other works by the author but not feel overwhelmed or compelled to read everything they’ve ever written.   If I’m impressed by those, I may seek out older titles, but only if they really catch my interest.


Do you deep dive into author’s backlists? Are there any authors that you have read pretty much everything they’ve ever written?

Friday, October 15, 2021

Blog Tour + Excerpt: Forrest For The Trees


Forrest for the Trees, an all new slow burn small town romance from Kilby Blades, is LIVE in Kindle Unlimited!

Forrest Winters isn’t just a federal fire marshal; he’s a thorn in Ranger Sierra Betts’s side. The way he swings his big axe, fixes her with his chameleon gray eyes, and talks about his jurisdiction has a way of breaking her concentration. He has a way of showing up everywhere he doesn’t belong, including Greenbrier Ranger Station. And he really needs to quit stealing her bacon bites.

When a series of suspicious fires, an underhanded co-worker, and a cagey Parks Police Chief threaten her job and the park itself, Sierra grudgingly agrees to partner with Forrest. Their side investigation may be her best shot at preventing the framing of an innocent man. But can his firefighting expertise and her detective skills lead them to the real arsonist before Forrest breaks her with his charm?

'Forrest for the Trees' is a full-length contemporary romance, can be read as a standalone and is book #1 in the Green Valley Heroes series, Green Valley Chronicles, Penny Reid Book Universe

Grab your copy TODAY!

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AU:




“Do you walk around with bacon in your pocket or something?” Sierra asked.

Forrest gave Everest a final rub and rose to his feet. “I reckon it’s just good, old-fashioned Southern charm.”

Reaching toward his face, he pushed up the temple of his sunglasses until they sat on top of his head. Forrest looked down at her, smirk on his face, as usual, having his fun. Only, for Sierra, there was nothing fun about the heat that rose to her ears every time his gaze set on her, clouding her thinking with his smoky eyes.

Forrest’s eyes weren’t just gray, and they weren’t “just eyes.” His gaze was penetrating and clear, with dark lashes that matched his dark hair. His irises were never the same, though whatever their hue at any given moment, a dark charcoal ring that looked like drawn pencil outlined the lighter color, adding intensity. Today they shone brightly—the color of wet shale—a stark difference from the last time she’d seen him. They’d turned dark, like slate, when he’d talked about the fires. There was something wondrous, and magical, and devastating about watching the way they changed.

“What are you doing in my neck of the woods?”

Forrest chuckled and crossed his arms. “Your woods again, huh?”

Sierra mirrored his posture. “‘Neck of the woods’ is a Southernism. I know how y’all like your sayings.”

He laughed again, his voice rich and deep—another thing about him she had the bad habit of replaying in her mind.

“Better than a pig likes slop.” Forrest’s eyes twinkled.

It made Sierra grateful for her own sunglasses—windows to her soul, and all. She didn’t want to think what Forrest might notice if he really saw her then. He would never stop gloating if he knew of her susceptibility to his allure.

“You never said what you were doing here,” she pointed out.

“Following up on some potential fire hazards. Just being vigilant. You know how it is …”

Sierra nodded. “I do.”

“I was just down at the ranger station …” he began haltingly. “I wanted to thank you for what you left me—you know, my fire marshal snacks.”

Sierra bit her lip against her own smile. “You liked that, huh?”

“Not just me. The guys thought it was pretty funny.”

“You told me you could read, so I figured …” She trailed off innocently, and shrugged.

After their last conversation and his repeated, willful ignorance of her Tupperware marked specifically as being “Ranger Snacks,” she’d brought in a smaller Tupperware labeled “Fire Marshal Snacks.”

“Sad thing is, a different fire marshal must’ve beat me to it,” he continued. “Imagine my disappointment when I opened the container and it was empty.”

“Oh, no!” She feigned shock. “What did you do?”

“Picked up the phone and called Ed Ellis. Asked him to put out an APB to track down whoever had my bites.”

“Then you helped yourself to the ranger bites, I’m guessing.”

He made a production out of looking distraught. “They’re not as good as fire marshal bites, but I had no choice.”

He didn’t take his gaze off of her. When heat rose again in her ears, she knew she had to go. Plus, if she didn’t get moving, she really would be late.

“Nice to see you, Marshal Winters.”

His smirk melted into a half-smile. “Always a pleasure, Ranger Betts.”

About Kilby Blades

Kilby Blades is a USA Today Bestselling author of Romance and Women's Fiction. Her debut novel, Snapdragon, was a HOLT Medallion finalist, a Publisher's Weekly BookLife Prize Semi-Finalist, and an IPPY Award medalist. Kilby was honored with an RSJ Emma Award for Best Debut Author in 2018, and has been lauded by critics for "easing feminism and equality into her novels" (IndieReader) and "writing characters who complement each other like a fine wine does a good meal" (Publisher's Weekly).

During her career as a digital marketing executive, she moonlighted as a journalist, freelanced as a food, wine and travel writer and lived it up as an entertainment columnist. She has lived in five countries, visited more than twenty-five, and spends part of her year in her happy place in the Andes Mountains. Kilby is a feminist, an oenophile, a cinephile, a social-justice fighter, and above all else, a glutton for a good story. Follow her everywhere @kilbyblades.

Find Kilby Blades online







Connect with Smartypants Romance







Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Blog Tour + Review: A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale

Thank you to Trish Collins at TLC Book Tours for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour for A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale by Karen Schaler!  I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale
Karen Schaler
Published October 5, 2021
From "A holiday publishing darling" (Entertainment Weekly) and Emmy Award-winning writer of Netflix's hit rom-com A Christmas Prince comes this heartwarming, feel-good Christmas romance about the power of believing in yourself to find your happily ever after...

A charming Christmas village, a storybook castle, a royal ball, and a gorgeous prince are the last things New York City reporter Kaylie Karlyle expects to find on her holiday freelance assignment to Europe. But when the family she's interviewing turns out to be the royal family of Tolvania, Kaylie has a meltdown when the quirky queen wants her to write a Christmas fairy tale for the spunky, young princess. Kaylie must battle the princess's father, who doesn't trust the media, and her own insecurities about writing anything beyond the news.

To spark inspiration for the fairy tale, the queen recruits the prickly Prince Alexander to show Kaylie the family's most spectacular royal holiday traditions. And sparks definitely fly when the only thing Kaylie and the prince agree on is that they're both more "bah humbug" than "ho, ho, ho."

But somewhere between sleigh rides and snow angels, merrymaking and mistletoe, upside-down Christmas trees, and a legendary Christmas crown, Kaylie and the prince open their hearts to Christmas and start believing in themselves and each other. It's a real-life fairy tale in the making until Kaylie discovers a secret about a royal Christmas heirloom that jeopardizes everyone's happily ever after. Can the magic of the season save this holiday happy ending? - from Goodreads
Just before Christmas, investigative reporter Kaylie is given the opportunity to travel to Europe and write a feature story about one family's Christmas traditions.  When she arrives, she's stunned to find out that the family is actually the royal family of a small country, and the queen also wants her to write a fairy tale for her granddaughter, the princess.  As the prince shows her around, Kaylie begins to realize things about her life, love, and the Christmas season.

I've only started reading holiday-themed books in the last couple years, so coupled with the royalty tie-in (which is something I can never resist!), I was really excited to read this book, and Karen Schaler has delivered a sweet and heartfelt Christmas story.

Kaylie has a picture in her head of how she wants her life to go - concentrate on her career now and the rest will fall into place later.  Her family isn't big on celebrating Christmas, so she always offers to work the holiday, and this year she is off to Tolvania to interview the royal family.  I loved Kaylie's commitment to her career, but it was also nice to see her start to consider other options as she gets to know the royal family and their traditions.  Prince Alex is her guide, and I admired the way he protected his family.  They suffered a tragic loss a few years ago and seem to have lost their Christmas spirit.  He's also, understandably, wary of the press, and sometimes Kaylie's actions made him wonder about her motives.

This book had so much Christmas spirit!  I loved learning about all the traditions of the small country.  Upside down Christmas trees, a Christmas crown, cookies, and singing - there were just so many!  Reading this story would definitely get someone into the spirit of the season.

Although a bit slow-moving and predictable (maybe even a little cheesy) at times, this book really encompasses what I enjoy about holiday-themed books - it's sweet, charming, and uplifting, and the light royal romance is a nice addition!

4 stars

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Thriftbooks

Author Links: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube

Monday, October 11, 2021

Blog Tour + Review: Today's Wonder Women

Thank you to Trish Collins at TLC Book Tours for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour for Today's Wonder Women by Asha Dahya!  I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Asha Dahya
Published March 18, 2020
Meet the women and female-identifying heroes who have defied death, flouted cultural norms, and risen above poverty to become CEOs, entrepreneurs, activists, role models, media moguls, and movement creators. This collection of stories, essays, and interviews celebrates their superpowers: love, determination, vision, and grit. These 50 women share their wisdom and advice in ways that will inspire you to discover your own superpower. 
Each story will transport you into the life and perspective of one who dares to challenge the status quo, dismantle barriers, and empower those around her: Alexa Carlin, a CEO at the age of 17, overcame a 1% chance of surviving sepsis and started the Women Empowerment Expo; Mariah Hanson launched "the Dinah," the world's largest party and music festival for lesbians; activist and gun control advocate Shira Tarantino founded the ENOUGH Campaign; Laverne Delgado is program director of Fashion & Freedom, which rescues victims of sex trafficking and helps them learn skills to enter the fashion industry; plus dozens of other women who refused to accept societal limitations and whose achievements offer inspiring lessons for us all. - from Goodreads
In Today's Wonder Women, Asha Dahya has compiled the stories of 50 ordinary, yet extraordinary women and female-identifying heroes who are working every day to change the world.  This inspiring collection proves that no matter where you come from, you have the capacity to make waves and do good, and that women supporting and empowering women can make a huge difference in our world.

The book is divided into sections - women in leadership, activists, women in the arts, those who defy the odds, entrepreneurs, women fighting the system, women disrupting the status quo, and next generation women.  Many women could easily fit in more than one category, but it was a nice arrangement.  Some of the stories are set up as interviews (I particularly liked when many were asked what makes them a powerful women) and others as short essays.

The diversity in the book is really amazing.  These women are from all walks of life - they come from different backgrounds, countries, races, sexual orientations, and ages.  Some have overcome poverty or other extremely difficult childhoods; others are using their own experiences with disabilities to fight for others.  I especially enjoyed the section on the next-generation women - it really showed that you're never too young to make a difference in your community.

The causes these women champion and support also really run the gamut, so there is sure to be something relatable to all readers.  From women working in STEM; to those fighting against sex trafficking and child marriage; to those working for LQBTQ rights; to those working for climate change; even comic book writers who seek to give a platform to female creators.  

The stories are easy to read yet very thought-provoking, and the book is beautifully put together and well-edited.  I would highly recommend this collection of inspiring stories!

4.5 stars

Purchase Links: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Links: Website, Instagram, and Twitter

Friday, October 8, 2021

Try It, You Might Like It #12: Dark Romance

"Try it, you might like it" - it's what someone says when they present you with some food you've never had before or your mom wants you to try on some clothes she picked out for you.  I'm using it here on the blog as inspiration to choose books in genres I don't normally read; to branch out from my reading comfort zones; and to maybe find some new favorites!  One of my goals this year is to bring this feature back, so here we go!
Basically since the pandemic began, I've found myself drawn to romances more than normal.  I don't know if it's the happily ever afters or the generally light tone, but I've really been enjoying them.  For this edition, I've decided to branch out beyond the contemporary romances I've been reading and try a new-to-me sub-genre - dark romance.  Dark romance is - no surprise - romances with darker themes, morally grey characters, and/or dangerous situations.  These books often come with content warnings because they can explore triggering topics such as kidnapping, captivity, BDSM, abuse, and dark fantasies.  These are definitely for adults only.  One of my favorite book bloggers, Stephanie at Bookfever, has mentioned Pepper Winters as one of her go-to dark romance writers, so I decided to try out her 2020 novel Once a Myth.
Eleanor is backpacking with her new boyfriend when she is kidnapped by sex traffickers.  She is purchased by Sully Sinclair, a man who owns an island that caters to even the most extreme fantasies.  While Sully normally doesn't partake of his own "goddesses," for some reason Eleanor intrigues him and he finds himself jealous that she'll be with the other guests instead of him.  I also found myself intrigued by Eleanor - the way she is able to remain mostly clear-headed about her situation, showing a strength that most people couldn't.  Although she lashes out a few times, it's understandable considering the horrific circumstances she finds herself in. It was Sully I had the most issues with it.  I understand that he's not going to be a perfect character, but I really found him to be pretty despicable.  I feel like Winters tried to add minor elements to humanize him and balance his dark side, but for me they didn't work.  At the end of the day, he still feels justified buying women and forcing them into sex work.  His feelings toward Eleanor included too many descriptions of using her and destroying her.

The pacing of the book didn't work for me.  It's a relatively short book that takes place over only a few days, but it felt like nothing really happened.  Eleanor learns more about her new home, and she and Sully dance around each other, but many scenes felt so dragged out at the expense of moving the plot forward.  This is just the first book in the series, so I'm guessing this was a set-up to establish the characters and world, and the action will ramp up in later books.  There are plenty of steamy scenes, although less actual sex than I was expecting and they were twinged with violence.  I did enjoy the writing, however.  I think Winters did a great job elevating what could easily devolve into something too simplistic and base, and I was really able to get inside Eleanor and Sully's heads.  Although I can see the appeal of this genre, I think the violence and grit was a bit too much for me!

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Never Fall for Your Fiancée

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Virginia Heath
Expected publication date: November 9, 2021 
The first in a new historical rom-com series, a handsome earl hires a fake fiancée to keep his matchmaking mother at bay, but hilarity ensues when love threatens to complicate everything.

The last thing Hugh Standish, Earl of Fareham, ever wants is a wife. Unfortunately for him, his mother is determined to find him one, even from across the other side of the ocean. So, Hugh invents a fake fiancée to keep his mother’s matchmaking ways at bay. But when Hugh learns his interfering mother is on a ship bound for England, he realizes his complicated, convoluted but convenient ruse is about to implode. Until he collides with a beautiful woman, who might just be the miracle he needs.

Minerva Merriwell has had to struggle to support herself and her two younger sisters ever since their feckless father abandoned them. Work as a woodcut engraver is few and far between, and the Merriwell sisters are nearly penniless. So, when Hugh asks Minerva to pose as his fiancée while his mother is visiting, she knows that while the scheme sounds ludicrous, the offer is too good to pass up.

Once Minerva and her sisters arrive at Hugh's estate, of course, nothing goes according to his meticulous plan. As hilarity and miscommunication ensue, while everyone tries to keep their tangled stories straight, Hugh and Minerva’s fake engagement starts to turn into a real romance. But can they trust each other, when their relationship started with a lie? - from Goodreads

This had me at historical rom-com!

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Pet Peeves

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is bookish pet peeves.  I think I've done this topic before, so this will be a mix of old pet peeves with some new ones!
  1. Synopses that don't give an accurate description of the book:  I hate when I start reading a book, thinking it's about one thing, and I get something completely different.  This seems to be happening a lot lately with the romances I'm reading - I think it's going to be light/fluffy/funny, and it's anything but!
  2. Long paragraphs/chapters: If a paragraph is too long, I'm likely going to skim it.  I like details, but breaking it up with some dialogue or into smaller paragraphs is just easier to read.  Also, it's a quirk, but I usually look ahead to see how long a chapter is before I start it.  I don't like stopping in the middle, so long chapters are kind of a bummer.
  3. People who are not careful with their books:  I try to keep my books in good condition, so it irks me when I lend a book to someone and I get it back with folded pages, ripped covers, or broken spines, or I don't get it back at all and have to buy a new one!
  4. Quick or convenient endings: Some books have so much going on and then, all of a sudden, they just end.  If I've invested all this time in a book, I want a satisfying ending!  Not one that ties up all the plot lines in a page or two, in ways that make it seem like the author was taking the easy way out, ran out of ideas, or hit their page limit.
  5. Perfect characters: Perfect people don't exist - when a character is beautiful/handsome, and smart, and successful, and kind, etc., it just makes me want to roll my eyes.
  6. Ugly book covers:  I'm gonna be honest, I totally judge books by their covers, so if the cover is too garish, inappropriate, or cheap-looking, I probably won't even take the time to see what the book is about.
  7. Starred reviews on Goodreads before a book is even released: I'm not talking about people who have ARCs and review the book early, but those people who rate a book before they've even read it, or when the cover or blurb comes out.  It's okay to say you're excited, but giving a 5-star review for a book you haven't even seen yet is so misleading!  And don't get me started on people who leave 1-star reviews just because they don't like the blurb or have some issue with the author. 
  8. Unrealistic dialogue: Sometimes characters give long monologues or just way too much detail in their dialogue, and I don't think people talk that way in real life!
  9. Overused phrases: There are just some phrases that so many authors seem to use - "fiercely independent" is one that comes to mind.  Another is "massive curls" to describe someone's hair - I feel like I don't know THAT many people with curly hair, yet they seem to pop up in every book I read, and it's always described the same way.
  10. Poorly edited books: OMG, typos!  I can't stand typos, and if a character's name is spelled two different ways on the same page, that's a big problem.  Let's be real, I make mistakes all the time in my posts, but this is not a published book that someone will spend money on!
Now that I've gotten all my crankiness out, what are some of your pet peeves? 

Friday, October 1, 2021

Month in Review: September 2021

So September started with Hurricane Ida coming through our area.  We got a lot of rain and wind, and tornado warnings were going off constantly.  The main road into our development was completely flooded, which was so terrible for the houses and businesses down there.  My mom lives about a mile away from us, and her basement flooded just from the amount of water coming up from the ground.  Thankfully, things are getting cleaned up.

We spent Labor Day at one of my brother's houses.  The kids got to play with a lot of water activities while the adults chatted.  Work has been fairly quiet this month. I'm still working from home.  The partners and management haven't really said anything further about the reopening plan for the office, so I'm not quite sure what's going on there.  Tom is scheduled to go back full time in mid-October, and it'll be weird not having him here all day with me!

My mom and sister threw us the cutest baby shower at the end of the month.  I'm currently 31 weeks (about 7 months) pregnant with our baby boy.  It's crazy to think he will be here before the end of the year - I feel like we still have so much to do!

The Books
The Posts and Reviews
 How are you doing?

* This post contains affiliate links; I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.