Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Was Excited To Get But Haven't Read Yet

 
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is books we were so excited to get but still haven't read.  I have quite a few books on my Kindle that I was (and still am) excited to read, but just haven't gotten to yet:
 
 
Beauty and the Mustache - acquired March 20, 2021
Hard to Handle - acquired March 4, 2021
Before the Crown - acquired February 26, 2021

 
Of Ink and Sea - acquired January 22, 2021
Tempt Me - acquired November 11, 2020
The Emerald Affair - acquired August 24, 2020

 
The Chase - acquired May 26, 2020
Southern Rain - acquired December 26, 2019
 
 What books have been sitting on your Kindle the longest?
 

Monday, May 16, 2022

Blog Tour + Excerpt: Neanderthal Seeks Duchess

“Full of all the swoons, a dash of mystery, and punches of humor, you are going to fall head over heels with Neanderthal Seeks Duchess." - Catherine Cowles, author of Tattered Stars

Neanderthal Seeks Duchess, an all-new charming historical romance from debut author Laney Hatcher, is available now in Kindle Unlimited! Laney introduces readers to Smartypants Romance’s new and exciting Out of This World imprint with her Penny Reid universe re-imagining.

There are three things you need to know about Lady Jane Morrison:

1. She frequently finds herself the talk of the ton and for all the wrong reasons.

2. A dashingly mysterious gentleman has caught her attention and even more dangerous...she has caught his. 

3. She’s rubbish at embroidery. 

After scandalous events during the London season, Lady Jane is attracting the wrong kind of attention. Her reputation is at risk as well as all her carefully laid plans for the future. And for better or worse, a chance encounter with a mysterious lord sets forth a series of events that will change their lives forever.  

‘Neanderthal Seeks Duchess’, a Penny Reid Universe Reimagining, is a full-length historical romance, can be read as a standalone, and is book #1 in the London Ladies Embroidery series, Smartypants Romance Out of this World, Penny Reid Book Universe. 

Read for FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3h0HoOb

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3ByTl7t

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/3I0hWo6

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/3H4csre

Amazon Print: https://amzn.to/3FhHTi9

Audiobook: Coming this summer! 

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/33Yj8cQ

Excerpt

“You desire the life of a spy then?” I could tell he was teasing, but it didn’t seem the mean sort of mocking I was so often accustomed to.

“Oh, of course. I am definitely spy material. I’m sure the War Office will come calling any day now,” I managed to tease back, indulging in a mirthful laugh. Were we having a flirtation? I wondered if I was doing it right.

I was suddenly struck with a bout of nerves. I didn’t know how to carry on a flirtation with a man. Being with John didn’t require flirting on my part. We simply conversed. I never made a concentrated effort to amuse John and be amused in return. Coy and coquettish were more in line with Cassandra and her interactions in a ballroom. She laughed loudly and often, usually flapping her eyelashes in a pleasing manner. Lords were simply drawn to her. Now that I considered it, it was likely just her outgoing personality. I was… not like that.

This bantering, the back-and-forth with Q in the garden, was multifaceted. I warred between self-consciousness and butterflies erupting behind my sternum.

His eyebrows remained amused and my pulse leaped once more. “Well, I hope the crown doesn’t steal you away just yet.” Warmth pooled low in my belly at Q’s admiring look. Those butterflies were approaching maximum velocity.

In a show of sheer survival instinct, I straightened on the bench. “I should probably get back to work.”

Q’s gaze was questioning. Perhaps signs of self-preservation weren’t evident in my expression, but I felt certain he could read some inner turmoil there. Q stood slowly and held out an arm. “I’ll escort you back to the library, if that’s all right?”

I nodded and felt grateful I hadn’t ruined our time together with my abrupt decision to depart. These feelings were so new and utterly overwhelming.

We made our way along the gravel path, through the kitchens, and up the service staircase in quiet contemplation before emerging in the long hallway of the third floor. His heat and nearness were addicting. The simple act of walking by his side was fraught with tension—the good kind. The best kind.

“Perhaps you could enjoy a picnic in the gardens another day. I could let Betty know in advance and she could pack a few items for you. So you wouldn’t feel like an imposition,” Q said as he slowed our progress outside the library doorway.

I appreciated his consideration for my concerns and for Mrs. Hooper’s time and energy. “If it’s not too much trouble, that sounds lovely. Thank you.” Genuine pleasure sufficed my demeanor, chasing away my previous doubts.

“And perhaps I could join you.” At these quietly uttered words, my head snapped up abruptly to meet Lord Dashing’s patented intense stare. “If that’s agreeable, that is,” he murmured, seemingly unsure of his welcome.

I smiled then. Full and wide. I often had difficulty interpreting the reactions of others, their hidden smiles and secretive expressions. Conversing with nobility was often an exercise in subterfuge and subtlety. Both elements I struggled with and didn’t see the need for. I preferred honesty and directness. Therefore, I wanted Q to read the authenticity in my smile when I replied, “I’d like that very much.”

Lord Dashing escorted me the remaining distance to the library before lifting my hand from his arm. I assumed he’d simply deposit me at my desk and be on his way, but he lingered. Twining our fingers together, Q raised my hand to his lips. Slowly and quite deliberately, he rotated my hand and placed a kiss on the inside of my wrist just beyond the fabric of my kid gloves. The heat from his mouth was deliciously obscene and I felt my breath stutter on an inhale. I should have been shocked by his behavior and scandalized by his forwardness. And yet… All I could muster was a sense of regret that I’d cut our afternoon short in a moment of weakness.

Eyes locked, Q pulled away from my skin. Lowering my hand to my side, he retreated a pace before turning slowly and exiting the room. I stood frozen in place, staring after his departed form. With my opposite hand covering my inner wrist, I could feel the heat from his scandalous touch and sought to trap it within.

What was happening?

I spent the afternoon mostly absorbed by the ledgers lining my desk, but couldn’t help but allow my attention to stray to the gardens a time or two, remembering the sun on my face, the man at my side, and the butterflies wreaking havoc on my carefully laid plans.

About Laney Hatcher

Laney Hatcher is a firm believer that there is a spreadsheet for every occasion and pie is always the answer. She is an author of stories that have a past, in a language of love that’s universal. Often too practical for her own good, Laney enjoys her life in the southern United States with her husband, children, and incredibly entitled cat.

Find Laney online

Facebook: https://bit.ly/3HkhbFE

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laney.hatcher/

Website: https://laneyhatcher.com/

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3EHkQeN

Pinterest: https://bit.ly/32G5BG8

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/laneyhatcher

Connect with Smartypants Romance

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Friday, May 13, 2022

Quick Reviews

The Lost Summers of Newport by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White (2022)

Team W has done it again!  When I first heard they were writing a story set among the famous and fabulous Newport mansions, I was so excited because I've loved visiting there, and this story did not disappoint.  The story is told in three timelines - in 2019, a historic preservationist leads a reality tv home makeover show in Sprague Hall; in 1958, Lucky Sprague's difficult marriage comes to a head; and in 1899, Ellen is hired to be the music teacher for the mistress of Sprague Hall, Maybelle.  I always love reading a story from these three authors; their writing flows together so seamlessly.  Although the present day storyline was perhaps a little weak, the 1958 and 1899 storylines were so atmospheric.  I loved getting to know Lucky, Ellen, and Maybelle, and the glamour and richness of the times really came through.  Sprague Hall was just as much a character as the women, too - a fictitious mansion set in a very real place, it has seen its share of secrets.  There is a bit of mystery in the story that I was able to figure out about halfway through the novel, but that didn't hamper my enjoyment; I was interested to see how the authors would tie everything up.  Overall, a gorgeous historical fiction novel that will transport you to Newport!  4.5 stars (I received a free copy from the publisher; all thoughts are my own)

Running Wild (Wild #3) by K.A. Tucker (2022)

Marie has been in love with her best friend for years, but now that he's married, she knows she must move on.  When she meets Tyler, she feels the spark between them, but his past may keep them from becoming something more.  After loving Calla and Jonah's story, I was eager to stay in Alaska and explore more of the characters there.  While I enjoyed Marie's story, it didn't quite live up to my expectations.  I liked the parts of this story that didn't have to do with Marie's love life - learning more about the Iditarod, the issues with her sister, how her vet practice and her family life collide.  Marie is a complicated woman who is juggling a lot, and so I wanted more for her from a love interest.  I wanted her to realize that Jonah wasn't the only man out there and stop wasting time on this unrequited love.  Even after she met Tyler, she still seemed hung up on Jonah, constantly comparing the two.  Did she love Tyler only because he reminded her of Jonah?  I appreciated Tyler's backstory and how it made him reluctant to start something new, but I didn't like the back and forth he put Marie through.  And the ending just felt so abrupt!  3.5 stars


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

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: How To Fake It In Hollywood

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
 
Ava Wilder
Expected publication date: June 14, 2022
A talented Hollywood starlet and a reclusive A-lister enter into a fake relationship . . . and discover that their feelings might be more than a PR stunt in this sexy debut for fans of Beach Read and The Unhoneymooners.

Grey Brooks is on a mission to keep her career afloat now that the end of her long-running teen soap has her (unsuccessfully) pounding the pavement again. With a life-changing role on the line, she's finally desperate enough to agree to her publicist's scheme... faking a love affair with a disgraced Hollywood heartthrob who needs the publicity, but for very different reasons.

Ethan Atkins just wants to be left alone. Between his high-profile divorce, his struggles with drinking, and his grief over the death of his longtime creative partner and best friend, he's slowly let himself fade into the background. But if he ever wants to produce the last movie he and his partner wrote together, Ethan needs to clean up his reputation and step back into the spotlight. A gossip-inducing affair with a gorgeous actress might be just the ticket, even if it's the last thing he wants to do.

Though their juicy public relationship is less than perfect behind the scenes, it doesn't take long before Grey and Ethan's sizzling chemistry starts to feel like more than just an act. But after decades in a ruthless industry that requires bulletproof emotional armor to survive, are they too used to faking it to open themselves up to the real thing? - from Goodreads

 

Monday, May 9, 2022

Blog Tour + Excerpt: Smart Mouth

 

Smart Mouth, an all-new opposites attract romantic comedy from Emma Lee Jayne, is now available in Kindle Unlimited! 

The rockstar

There are lots of assumptions people make about rockstars. Shallow. Player. Addict. The truth? I’m none of those. 

The even bigger truth…the only opinion I care about is her’s and she hates me. Her as in Gwen Matthews, my twin brother’s best friend, the unrequited love of my life. She thinks I’m a liar and a jerk which is why I pretend to be my brother when she needs help one night. 

Except Gwen is a genius. Literally. So it doesn’t take her long to figure out it’s me and not my brother, but maybe, just maybe, she’s willing to give me a second chance. Because maybe when she looks at me, she only sees a rockstar with her best friend’s face, but when I look at her, I see my other half. She centers me in a way that no rhythm or line of lyric ever could. 

The scientist

I have three priorities in life at the moment: finish my research, defend my dissertation, and get my Ph.D., so that I can actually figure out what I’m supposed to do with my life. Tom Mendoza won’t help me achieve any of those things. Yet I can’t help the sudden feeling that I’ve been completely wrong about him all this time. 

The day we first met when we were both teenagers, I saw a glimpse of a sweet, funny boy that felt very much like a kindred spirit; awkward and full of energy and dreams. But that guy seemed to disappear and in his place was this stereotypical stupidly hot rock star that did not make sense in my world. 

Being a scientist means being willing to admit when you’re wrong and reevaluating everything. I might not understand much about human behavior, but I can clearly see the tender underbelly that Tom protects. The subtle rituals he uses to stave off his anxiety. Yes, he’s ridiculously hot, but his soul just might be more beautiful than his face and I’m not sure what to do with that. 

Especially when I find out that he’s in love with me. 

'Smart Mouth' is a full-length contemporary romance and can be read as a standalone. Book #4 in the Work For It series, Educated Romance World, Penny Reid Book Universe.

Grab your copy today!

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3IcScov

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3H7VLLg

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/3uRJOHg

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/3JxRYIS

Audible: https://adbl.co/3rPAWiO

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3M4dSWk

Excerpt

I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life, but kissing Gwen is the best stupid thing I’ve ever done.

I know it’s a mistake. I know James will probably kill me if he ever finds out—and he will find out.

Hell, Gwen will kill me herself, if she ever finds out. Plus, she’s smart enough to get away with it—and to make it painful.

Despite all of that, I can’t sit here and let her think that I don’t want her. I can’t let her believe she’s repulsive or any other ridiculous idea. I can’t fucking watch her cry over it.

I’ve never really understood James and Gwen’s relationship. I’ve never understood how he’s been friends with this gorgeous, smart, awkward, frustrating woman without hitting on her. I don’t know how he made it through high school and college without kissing her, because, fuck it, I couldn’t make it through a thirty-minute car ride without wanting to kiss her.

I sure as fuck am not going to let her climb out of this car thinking she repulses men.

I don’t have a plan when I lean across the console and pull her to me. At least not beyond ridding her of this notion that I don’t want her.

But the second my mouth touches hers, I’m a goner.

About Emma Lee Jayne

I write the kinds of books I want to read. Fast-paced books with lots of world-building, snarky heroines, and swoony heroes. I love story, pop culture, gossip, and baked goods. I’m a modern-day hippy and certified LEGO nerd.

I live in the Austin, Texas hill country, with my geeky husband and two extremely geeky kids. We have dogs, chickens, cats, and more LEGOs than should be allowed by law. Oh, and I stress bake. So if my characters talk about food a lot, that’s why.

Emma also writes as Rita award winning author Emily McKay.

Find Emma Lee Jayne online

Website: http://emmaleejayne.com/

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/3aWXAhO

Facebook: https://bit.ly/3aYlucC

Pinterest: http://bit.ly/3866I1W

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Connect with Smartypants Romance

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Friday, May 6, 2022

2022 Rereading Project: Update #2

It's time for another update on my 2022 rereading project!
 
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2016)

I first read this book back in 2017 when I discovered Taylor Jenkins Reid and was making my way through her backlist.  One True Loves tells the story of Emma, who loses her husband on their first anniversary, only to find out a couple years later that he survived the helicopter crash and has made his way home.  The problem is, she's engaged to another man, and now she has to choose between them.  I didn't give this book a rating when I first read it, but I remember not quite enjoying it as much as her other books.  Upon reread, I really enjoyed this book, even if it did get a bit schmaltzy at times, and I thought it had some good notions about how we change and grow as we get older.

Verdict: It's TJR, she can do no wrong, and I could never give away one of her books - keep!
 
The Girl Who Reads on the Metro by Christine Feret-Fleury (2017)
 
This book was an impulse buy during an anniversary trip to Connecticut, when we stopped at House of Books in Kent.  I couldn't resist the cute cover!  This short story follows Juliette, an ordinary woman living an ordinary life, who meets Soliman, a bookseller.  He convinces her to become one of his passeurs, people who take books out into the world and match them with their perfect reader.  When I first read this back in 2020, I gave it three stars, and I pretty much agree with that rating today.  The premise of the book is so charming and I love the message about how books can change our lives, but the writing and tone were hurdles for me.  It feels a bit overwritten, even for such a short book (maybe that has something to do with it being a translation) and the tone is sadder and darker than I was expecting.  

Verdict: I'm hoping another reader will be able to connect more with this story - donate!


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

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: A Caribbean Heiress in Paris

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
 
Adriana Herrera
Expected publication date: May 31, 2022
Paris, 1889

The Exposition Universelle is underway, drawing merchants from every corner of the globe. Luz Alana Heith-Benzan set sail from Santo Domingo armed with three hundred casks of rum, her two best friends and one simple rule: under no circumstances is she to fall in love.

The City of Light is where Luz Alana will expand CaƱa Brava, the rum business her family built over three generations. It’s a mission that’s taken on new urgency after her father’s untimely death and the news that her trust fund won’t be released until she marries. But buyers and shippers alike are rude and dismissive; they can’t imagine doing business with a woman…never mind a woman of color.

From her first tempestuous meeting with James Evanston Sinclair, Earl of Darnick, Luz Alana is conflicted. Why is this man—this titled Scottish man—so determined to help her? And why, honestly, is he so infuriatingly charming?

All Evan Sinclair ever wanted was to find a purpose away from his father’s dirty money and dirtier politics. Ignoring his title, he’s built a whiskey brand that’s his biggest—and only—passion. That is, until he’s confronted with a Spanish-speaking force of nature who turns his life upside down.

Evan quickly suspects he’ll want Luz Alana with him forever. Every day with her makes the earl wish for more than her magnificent kisses or the marriage of convenience that might save them both. But Luz Alana sailed for Paris with her eyes on liquor, money and new beginnings. She wasn't prepared for love to find her. - from Goodreads

 

Monday, May 2, 2022

Month in Review: April 2022

 
April was a busy month with lots of visitors!  We celebrated my sister's and my birthday, along with an early Easter, at my mom's house at the beginning of the month.  The weather wasn't too great, so my mom had an indoor egg hunt for Luna and Henry (well, mostly Luna!).  My in-laws were over a couple times, and Tom's sister from Illinois drove in for the holiday weekend and to meet Henry for the first time.  She stayed with us, which was really nice. She got to spend a ton of time snuggling with Henry and we got to catch up a lot.  Henry enjoyed his first Easter with lots of new books and stuffed animals.  I went to a birthday party for one set of nieces and nephews and got to meet our newest nephew (the one born right before Henry) for the first time (between COVID, other sicknesses, and everyone going back to work, it was hard to meet up!).  Henry is now five months old and getting so big and strong!  He loves to kick and is *thisclose* to rolling over on his own.  He also had his first solid food this month!  The first time we gave him sweet potato puree was... not good.  He was not having it and had a look on his face that said, "Why are you doing this to me?"  But it got better as the week went on and he's starting to figure it out and even enjoy it a little. 


The Books
 
 


 
The Posts and Reviews
 
 
 How are you doing?
 
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Friday, April 29, 2022

Quick Reviews

Blush by Jamie Brenner (2021)

The Hollander Estates winery has been a family-run business for 50 years, but now they might be forced to sell it.  However, three generations of Hollander women may be able to turn it around, with the help of some scandalous books.  I really enjoyed this story!  The characters were so well fleshed out and had such deep and complex backgrounds that I almost forgot I was reading a fictional novel.  It was really interesting to see how matriarch Vivian, daughter Leah, and granddaughter Sadie wanted to save the family business, despite not being allowed major roles in it by patriarch Leonard, and how they bonded over "trashy" novels from the 1980s and were inspired by some of the characters.  The three women showed strength and creativity while facing some tough decisions.  And if you're a fan of wine and cheese, you're going to love all the lush descriptions of the different varieties and the wine-making process.  4 stars
 
The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck (2012)

Charlotte is supposed to be getting married soon, but she can't seem to summon the happiness and enthusiasm she thinks she should be experiencing.  Then, she finds a perfectly preserved wedding dress in an old trunk - as she learns more about the history of the dress, and the three other women who wore it, she hopes she'll find some clarity in her own life.  I really liked the idea of this novel - that there's this sort of magical dress, passed down through the years, and each bride has her own special story - but the execution was lacking a bit for me.  The story mostly moves back and forth in time between Charlotte, in the present day, and Emily, the original bride from 100 years ago.  The other two brides show up so much later in the story, and only for a relatively short time, that it was hard for me to connect to them.  Emily's story was by far the most intriguing, so I enjoyed those chapters.  Charlotte's story felt very slow and it was a little jarring that her love interest received a couple chapters from his own perspective, but I guess it helped explain his wildly swaying emotions.  If you enjoy clean, sweet romances, this might be one for you to try.  3 stars


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

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Gilt

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
 
Jamie Brenner
Expected publication date: June 21, 2022
A luxurious and richly compelling new novel from the acclaimed author of Blush, about a famous family jewelry dynasty and the hidden past that could topple it all.

One perfect diamond is all it takes to divide a family. Could one summer be enough to fix it?

The Pavlin family built an empire on love. As the first jewelers to sell diamond rings exclusively for proposals, they started a tradition that has defined engagements ever since. But when an ill-fated publicity stunt pits the three Pavlin sisters against one another for a famous family jewel, their bond is broken. No ordinary diamond ring, the Electric Rose splinters the sisters, leaving one unlucky in love, one escaping to the shores of Cape Cod, and the other, ultimately, dead.

Now, over a decade later, Gemma Maybrook is still reconciling the reality of her mother's death. Left orphaned and cast out by her family after the tragic accident, Gemma is ready to reclaim what should have been hers: the Electric Rose. And, as a budding jewelry designer in her own right, Gemma isn't just planning on recovering her mother's lost memento, she's coming back for everything.

From Manhattan's tony Fifth Avenue to the vibrant sands of Provincetown, Gilt follows the Pavlin women as they are forced to confront the mistakes of the past if they have any hope of finding love and happiness of their own.

I just love the sound of this and think it will be a great summer read!

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books With Pretty Dresses on the Cover

 
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is books with           on the cover.  Whenever I see a pretty dress on a book cover, it's pretty much guaranteed that I will at least take a second look and see what it's all about!  So, here are some books with pretty dresses on the cover from my TBR!

What cover elements are you drawn to?


Monday, April 25, 2022

Blog Tour + Excerpt: Book Smart

 

Book Smart, an all new friends-to-lovers sweet romance by debut author Amanda Pennington, is available now in Kindle Unlimited!

Melanie Hirsch is tired of watching life pass her by…

I’ve spent the last few years watching my dreams of a writing career and true love fade away, settling for a dead-end job and denying my feelings for my best friend – until I find a list of dating advice for single women to “find a husband” in the 1950s. I decide to experiment: try out the 1950s advice on my 21st-century dating pool and write about the results. If love is timeless, some of the dating advice still holds value. Maybe my experiment will launch my writing career. Maybe I’ll get over my best friend and meet someone new. Either way, I’m done watching from the sidelines.

Cameron Whitacre can’t wait forever…

I’ve spent the last few years in love with my best friend, hoping she’ll notice my friendly overtures have more than friendly intentions – but before I realize what’s happening, she declares me her wingman for a dating experiment. This idea could launch her writing career, so I’m trying to be supportive. But her experiment turns my life into a desperation-fueled dumpster fire. I need to show her how I feel without jeopardizing our friendship, all before she falls for someone else.

‘Book Smart’ is a full-length contemporary romance and can be read as a standalone. Book #3 in the Work For It series, Educated Romance World, Penny Reid Book Universe.

Grab your copy TODAY!

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3v3vKKG

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/33yZZOm

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/3JD5dIu

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/3GYKVr4

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3s89i1n

Excerpt

A man with perfect golden-blond hair and a slim-cut suit appeared next to me. He smiled with the bright ease of someone who’s had enough alcohol to lower his inhibitions but not enough to make him obnoxious—yet.

“I don’t think I’ve seen you here before.” He gestured at my face with his Guinness.

“I’m new here.”

He grinned. “This is like a throwback to college days, huh?”

Not any college I’d ever been to.

“Right,” I said, “those good ol’ days.”

“So tell me.” He stepped closer. “Are you here for the business or the fun?”

My best friend Ivy hadn’t mentioned which business we were supposed to be involved in, so—“I’m here for the fun.”

Guinness’s smile took on an edge. “Excellent. Want to dance?”

Glancing around for Cameron and Ivy, I couldn’t spot them. The lone bartender was busy with a large crowd, so Cameron would be a long while, and Ivy must’ve been tied up with the host. Besides, wasn’t the point of being here to meet someone new? “Sure.”

We moved to the dance floor at the edge of the pool, swaying with the bass. The light of the chandelier above us cast a glow over everyone, and Guinness looked charming in the glass refractions, his golden hair glinting.

His lips brushed my ear. “You’re beautiful.”

It was nice, feeling charmed.

I took a breath to answer him with my own compliment—probably about his pretty hair—when my gaze locked on Cameron. He stood across the room, leaning one shoulder against an exposed pillar. I smiled at him, but he didn’t return it. He just stared. My rhythm faltered. Tossing back the last of his drink—which actually might have been the gin and tonic he got for me—he moved through the crowd without the ease and friendliness he’d had earlier. No mischief lit his face. He didn’t look away from me—not once—and I forgot that Guinness existed at all.

Cameron broke eye contact when he reached us, glancing at Guinness before opening his mouth to speak.

The crowd on the dance floor surged, jostling us toward the pool. Cameron’s hands reached for me at the same moment Guinness let go of me. An instant passed as we fell into the pool, and then warm, chlorinated water surged up my nose. Even though I didn’t stay under for long, I gulped breaths when my head broke through the surface of the water. The shock of suddenly being in the water, not to mention Cameron’s actions, had left me breathless.

“Pool party!” someone yelled—it sounded like Guinness—and people jumped in at random. The water churned, and chaos reigned. The suits and tuxedos and gowns made a colorful kaleidoscope in the turquoise water.

Cameron grasped my hand underwater. “Are you okay?”

“Yes. Are you?” I sputtered around a wave of water when someone cannonballed next to me.

A man swam into view but I didn’t recognize him until he spoke. The dim lighting of the chandelier was replaced with the harsh blue glow of underwater pool lights, and his golden hair was now flat against his head. He looked completely different. Wet Guinness was not at all attractive.

“Did you bring a swimsuit?” Guinness asked.

Irritation jabbed at me. Did I look like I was expecting a late-night swim? “No.”

He grinned. “I don’t mind.”

And that was my cue to leave. I already felt disoriented from the surprise swim, but this? It wasn’t his fault we were in the pool, or that he looked bad without his golden hair, but it was his fault for suggesting skinny-dipping at this exact moment.

Book note: The appeal of skinny-dipping relies entirely on the context.

I turned away and followed Cameron to the edge of the pool, moving through the water in that vaguely weightless, slow stride I’d seen Grandma use in her water aerobics classes. He climbed out first and then turned to offer me a hand.

I looked up. Oh.

Mr. Darcy at the lake had nothing on Cameron emerging from the pool. Clingy, wet clothes; rivulets of water streaming down his chest; his cowlick sticking on end even as it dripped. Frantically looking away, I took his hand. I couldn’t let Cameron see me staring—he’d never let me live it down.

About Amanda Pennington

Amanda Pennington lives outside Louisville, Kentucky with her husband in their fixer-upper house. When she’s not writing, Amanda loves traveling, running, and reading anything within reach. More information is available at www.amandacpennington.com.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Hotel Nantucket

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
 
Elin Hilderbrand
Expected publication date: June 14, 2022
After a tragic fire in 1922 that killed 19-year-old chambermaid, Grace Hadley, The Hotel Nantucket descended from a gilded age gem to a mediocre budget-friendly lodge to inevitably an abandoned eyesore — until it's purchased and renovated top to bottom by London billionaire, Xavier Darling.  Xavier hires Nantucket sweetheart Lizbet Keaton as his general manager, and Lizbet, in turn, pulls together a charismatic, if inexperienced, staff who share the vision of turning the fate of the hotel around. They face challenges in getting along with one another (and with the guests), in overcoming the hotel's bad reputation, and in surviving the (mostly) harmless shenanigans of Grace Hadley herself — who won't stop haunting the hotel until her murder is acknowledged.
 
Filled with the emotional tension and multiple points of view that characterize Elin's books (The Blue Bistro, Golden Girl) as well as an added touch of historical reality, Hotel Nantucket offers something for everyone in this summer drama for the ages. - from Goodreads

 I have fallen way behind on Hilderbrand's books, but this sounds amazing and is going to the top of my TBR!

Monday, April 18, 2022

Fiction/Nonfiction Quick Reviews: Sinking Ships

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan (2021)

Surviving Savannah tells a fictionalized account of the real-life sinking of the steamship Pulaski in 1838 through dual timelines.  The past storyline is told from the points of view of two related Savannah society women as they fight for their survival, and the survival of their loved ones, after the ship's boiler explodes, causing irreparable damage.  In the present storyline, readers meet Everly, a history professor who is curating a museum exhibit after the discovery of the doomed ship and its artifacts.  The detail in this novel was just incredible.  The amount of research Callahan did and was able to incorporate into the story was amazing - and the result was far from dry, as the 1838 storyline hit so many emotional levels.  The present-day storyline takes place mostly in Savannah, where Everly lives and works.  Savannah is a place I've always wanted to visit, and I felt like I practically did after reading this book.  Callahan's lush descriptions almost made me feel like I was actually there.   Although I felt Everly's personal story sometimes detracted from the heart of the novel, I enjoyed the way the two storylines came together and seeing Everly's process of researching and creating the exhibit.  Overall, a fantastic novel about a historic event that most people have probably never heard of!  4 stars
 
The Last Voyage of the Andrea Doria by Greg King and Penny Wilson (2020)
 
In 1956, off the coast of Nantucket, the glamorous Italian ocean liner Andrea Doria was struck by another ship and sank hours later.  In this book, author King and Wilson use in-depth research and interviews with the survivors to tell the story of the last hours of the ship.  A ship sinking like this was kind of unthinkable at the time, as modern technology prevented ships from getting that close to each other, but a confluence of events (fog in the area, a sailor who didn't fully understand the equipment) caused such a tragedy.  This was an event I had never heard of before, so I'm glad I was able to learn about it.  The writing is very descriptive and heavily relies on quotes from those involved; hearing the survivors' stories in their own words is incredible.  The authors give a lot of background on many of the passengers and the narrative moves from person to person and their experiences as the hours of the sinking went on.  While this gave the story a very personal touch and was very gripping, it was often hard to keep track of all the people mentioned and almost felt overwhelming at times.  There are of course sections that are hard to read because lives were lost, but there are also many instances of bravery, survival, and hope.  4 stars


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Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: See You Yesterday

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: May 17, 2022
From the author of Today Tonight Tomorrow comes a magical romance in the vein of Groundhog Day about a girl forced to relive her disastrous first day of college—only to discover that her nemesis is stuck in the time loop with her.

Barrett Bloom is hoping college will be a fresh start after a messy high school experience. But when school begins on September 21st, everything goes wrong. She’s humiliated by the know-it-all in her physics class, she botches her interview for the college paper, and at a party that night, she accidentally sets a frat on fire. She panics and flees, and when she realizes her roommate locked her out of their dorm, she falls asleep in the common room.

The next morning, Barrett’s perplexed to find herself back in her dorm room bed, no longer smelling of ashes and crushed dreams. It’s September 21st. Again. And after a confrontation with Miles, the guy from Physics 101, she learns she’s not alone—he’s been trapped for months.

When her attempts to fix her timeline fail, she agrees to work with Miles to find a way out. Soon they’re exploring the mysterious underbelly of the university and going on wild, romantic adventures. As they start falling for each other, they face the universe’s biggest unanswered question yet: what happens to their relationship if they finally make it to tomorrow? - from Goodreads

I've really been enjoying Solomon's adult romances, and the college setting and Groundhog Day aspect of this one are really appealing to me!