Sunday, 19 June 2016

You're the Earl That I Want by Kelly Bowen - Book Review
From the Blurb:


For businessman Heath Hextall, inheriting an earldom has been a damnable nuisance. The answer: find a well-bred, biddable woman to keep his life in order and observe the required social niceties. But it's always been clear that Lady Josephine Somerhall is not that woman. Once a shy slip of a girl, Joss is now brilliant, beautiful chaos in a ball gown.


In her heart, Joss has always loved Heath, the one person she's always been able to count on. That doesn't mean she wants to marry him though. Without a husband, Joss can do as she pleases—and now, it pleases her to solve the mystery of an encoded file given to Heath by a dying man. It's put Heath in peril once, and Joss won't let that happen again. She'll do what she must to ensure the earl's safety. And to remind him that what she lacks in convention, she makes up for in passion.


Heath Hextall wants to find a wife – someone to give him children and quiet companionship, no brains required. When his friend’s intelligent, hoyden sister returns from travels abroad, though, she confuses matters. Josephine is intelligent, naughty, and careless of society’s rules. The two are drawn together as they attempt to solve a dark, murderous mystery. Heath discovers what a strong, intelligent woman has to offer, but Josephine has no intention of getting married…

A Lady's Guide to Skirting Scandal by Kelly Bowen is up there among my all time favorite historical romances, so I'm always excited to get my hands on Kelly Bowen's books. You're the Earl That I Want is a fun romp, but it didn't quite stack up to my high expectations of Bowen's books.

I love strong heroines (and this is one of the reasons Kelly Bowen has found her way onto my must read list and will continue to stay here) but Joss does suffer a little from being a bit too perfect. I would have liked more from her perspective to show that she wasn't quite as perfect as she appears from all the knowing so much, being well travelled, well read and beautiful...

Despite that, Joss and Heath work well together. They have the playfulness of childhood friends and the sexual tension of like-minded individuals. Joss' radical ways are just what Heath needs to see that he needs more than just a companion wife in his life.

The suspense storyline was a little too convoluted for me (I'm really just not a fan of the historical mystery/romance combo though) and I had to skim it a little - and then got lost. I also have this weird pet hate in historical romances that have scenes from the perspectives of additional characters (ie. not the hero or heroine), often giving information about the mystery that the heroine and hero haven't worked out. So I did struggle a little with the suspense storyline. That said, I did enjoy to romance aside from this and will definitely be reading more of Kelly Bowen!

Joss and Heath are a playful, fun couple, with heat sizzling between them that drives this romance. The suspense storyline wasn’t my favorite, but the romance makes this a worthwhile read from one of our Lords of Worth.

You're the Earl That I Want by Kelly Bowen is a historical romance, released by Forever on August 25, 2015.

Find this book at: Amazon | Amazon UK | Book Depository | The Publisher | Goodreads

More from Kelly Bowen on Love Reading Romance:

A Lady's Guide to Skirting Scandal by Kelly Bowen - Book Review

Saturday, 11 June 2016

As Good As New by Jennifer Dawson - Book Excerpt

Just a little excerpt (the first chapter!) from As Good As New by Jennifer Dawson - one of our favorite authors! :D

From the Blurb:

He was the high school hottie. She was the teacher's pet. But in private, none of that mattered...

At the tender age of six, Penelope Watkins fell for her best friend's brother, Evan Donovan, future hunk. By the time they were teenagers, they were having heart-to-hearts…and hot and heavy top secret make-out sessions. All that changed when Evan's father suddenly died. Abruptly, Penelope lost him to grief--and to his true love: football. But now an injury had ended Evan's NFL career. The notorious bad boy was in a depression no one could penetrate, except maybe the one woman who still knew him best--and still wanted him most…

Penelope is the last person Evan wants to witness the wreck he's become. So when she shows up at his door he's less than welcoming--even though the sight of her brings back the same old rush of desire. As a teenager, the emotions overwhelmed him. Now, when he wanted to be overwhelmed, Penelope wasn't playing. She was telling the golden boy it was time to man up. It may have taken a concussion for Evan to realize it, but that's exactly what he wants to do--starting with her…



Feet sore, mind weary, Penelope Watkins surveyed the crowded dance floor as one of her best friends tugged her hand and whined, “Please, come dance with me.”

Penelope turned her attention to Sophie Kincaid with a heavy sigh. Sophie looked like a rogue Disney princess in a powder-blue, spaghetti-strapped dress that set off her blond hair and big, brown, doe eyes.

Was she the only person ready for the wedding of the century to end? She scanned the room, still crowded with guests. After midnight, the music had been cranked up to concert decibels and the dance floor was packed. Apparently, she was.

Despite the three Advils she’d taken, her head still ached. Unfortunately, she had two hours and fifteen minutes until she could take another dose, at which time she hoped to be in bed, asleep. At the thought of her fluffy comforter and pillow-top mattress, she groaned. All she wanted was to slip in under the soft down, the crisp white sheets, and close her eyes. But, as a bridesmaid at Shane and Cecilia Donovan’s wedding, she had to stay until the bitter end. Not that she wasn’t ecstatic for the couple, because, of course, she was. Shane wasn’t only her boss, but one of her closest friends and the big brother she, as an only child, had never had. Penelope had also grown quite close to his new wife, Cecilia, and couldn’t be happier Shane had finally met his match. She loved them and wished them nothing but happiness. She just wanted their wedding to be over so she could go home.

Penelope shook her head, glaring at Sophie’s four-inch heels. “Aren’t your feet killing you?”

“Hell no, come on. I need you to do a slutty little dance with me. I’m trying to drive Logan mad with lust.” Sophie gripped Penelope’s hand a little tighter and peered over her shoulder at the man in question, sighing.

Penelope couldn’t blame her. Logan Buchanan was fantasy worthy. With sharp, watchful blue eyes, dark hair, and a commanding presence that filled a room, he was the kind of man a woman was supposed to get excited about.

Unfortunately, he had no effect on Penelope.

Nope, she had to be stubborn and pine away for the first boy she’d fallen in puppy love with at the age of six. If she’d had any brains at all, she would have befriended Tiffany White, who had all sisters, the first day of kindergarten. But no, she had to sit next to Maddie Donovan-Riley.

If Penelope had picked Tiffany, she’d probably be involved with a nice accountant who liked order and comfort as much as she did. She could almost picture that life where she and her fictitious significant other would discuss spreadsheets and the best task apps for their iPads over dinner. Unlike most people, she wasn’t interested in excitement.

In her opinion boring was highly underrated.

But she wasn’t involved with a nice accountant because, like the rest of the female population, she’d taken one look at Maddie’s wild, reckless, completely unsuitable youngest brother and become instantly infatuated.

Up until then, she’d had the good sense to think boys were icky.

Unable to help herself, she scanned the room for the man in question. At six-five, Evan Donovan, pro football player and womanizing scoundrel, wasn’t hard to pick out of a crowd, but he was nowhere to be found.

She took a drink of water. Good. At least she didn’t have to look at the Barbie doll he’d brought to his brother’s wedding. Penelope was still cringing at the girl with her minuscule dress, blond-mermaid-extensioned hair, and flotation-device breasts. Some football groupie, wannabe model, if Penelope had to guess.

Aka, his normal type. Otherwise known as Penelope’s exact opposite.

She shook her head. No. She would not start down that road.

She turned back to Sophie, standing there expectantly, and smiled. “If you want to drive Logan crazy, I’m not your girl. We are strictly in the friend zone.”

Besides, she wasn’t really the type to drive men mad with lust. Sure, she was attractive enough with classic bone structure and well-formed features. Tired of wearing glasses, she’d treated herself to Lasik surgery six months ago and she’d been told by numerous dates that her blue eyes were startling against her rich, dark hair. At five-seven she had a nice, trim figure she kept in shape with workouts at the gym, yoga, and running along the lakeshore. Overall, she was a pretty woman and had nothing to complain about.

Sophie puffed out her lip in a pout that would sway most people but had little effect on Penelope. “Isn’t this just my luck? Since I really wanted to cause a scene, I tried to coerce Gracie, but stupid James said no.” Sophie released her grip on Penelope’s wrist and threw her hands up in frustration. “And she listened! I mean, really, what is that? The whole world must be mad if the great Gracie Roberts has started listening to a mere man.”

Since the woman in question might be one of the sexiest people on the planet, it was a smart choice on Sophie’s part to rope her into her quest to seduce Logan. After all, Gracie had been known to bring grown men to their knees. Only Sophie hadn’t factored the middle Donovan brother’s hold on Gracie. A pairing that Penelope had never seen coming, but damned if it didn’t seem to be working. James, a mild-mannered professor of forensic anthropology, hadn’t tamed the sex goddess per se, but when he spoke, Gracie paid attention.

In sympathy, Penelope clucked her tongue. “What are you going to do? That’s new love for you.”

“Well, it’s annoying.” Sophie grabbed her hand again. “Now come dance.”

“I’ve got a headache.”

Sophie rolled her eyes. “I don’t expect you to put out after.”

Penelope laughed. God, she loved her friends. Needed them as a reminder to do something other than work. Remember how to have fun. It wasn’t that she didn’t like fun, she did.

It was only that so many other things required her attention. With her demanding work schedule and workaholic proclivities, fun wasn’t a priority. And that’s where Sophie and Maddie came in, to reset her priorities. Why, if it weren’t for the two of them, Penelope would have spent her childhood getting into no trouble at all.

Well, except for that one thing Penelope refused to think about.

As if Maddie sensed her thoughts, she ran over to them, her heavy auburn hair spilling from the topknot after the long night of dancing. The long skirts of the deep, jeweled purple bridesmaid dress that matched Penelope’s, flounced as she came to a stop. Being the groom’s sister and bride’s sister-in-law, she’d had just as long a day as Penelope, only she seemed full of energy and not at all impatient for the wedding to wind down. She grinned. “What’s up?”

Sophie huffed, jerking her thumb toward the dance floor. “Penelope won’t dance with me so I can seduce Logan.”

Maddie threw an arm around her and squeezed. “I’ll dance with you. We’ll give everyone a show.”

Sophie’s face lit with excitement. “Mitch will be jealous.”

At the mention of her husband, Mitch Riley, Maddie laughed, and said in a sly voice, “I know. I’m in the mood for dirty sex, and this is just the kind of thing that sets him off.” Maddie gave a little shudder, obviously thinking about the dirty things Mitch had apparently already done to her.

Penelope smiled at her two best friends. Okay, she needed to shake off this mood, put her headache aside, and go party it up with her girlfriends. With Maddie living in Revival, a small town hundreds of miles south of Chicago, they didn’t get this chance very often, and Penelope refused to waste it.

Headache be damned. She’d just gulp a couple cups of coffee and dance.

She looked at her friends, wearing twin expressions filled with the same reckless, excited anticipation that had convinced her to ditch seventh period and hang out at the forest preserve with a bunch of bad boys from the public school. She smiled. “You guys go. I need to run to the ladies’ room and then I’ll come find you on the dance floor.”

Maddie rocked on her heels. “Promise?”

“Yep. Cross my heart.” Repeating the sacred promise of their youth.

Sophie winked and skipped off with Maddie, the two of them holding hands and laughing. A surefire sign they were up to no good, and Penelope had no doubt she’d return to find them gyrating on the dance floor causing quite the scene. If Logan would notice was anyone’s guess, but Maddie’s husband was bound to enjoy himself.

Penelope weaved through the crowd, pausing a few times to talk to a coworker, before she finally reached the hallway. Instead of heading to the bathroom, she veered right and headed toward the balcony, needing to clear her head.

She pushed open the door and the cool spring air brushed her cheeks and ruffled the tendrils of hair that had fallen from her twist. She breathed in deep, her pounding temples instantly easing with the music now only a distant, muffled beat. Small clusters of people filled the expanse of the balcony, enjoying the first hints of warm weather after a long, frigid Chicago winter.

Penelope searched the area for a secluded spot where she could be alone. She didn’t want to talk. She wanted quiet. To stand by herself and let the night air and skyline soothe her aching mind. It took some searching, but she finally found what she was looking for: tucked into the corner, a concrete structure partially obstructed the view, which left it deserted. She walked over to it and slipped into the tiny alcove, resting her elbows on the rails. She closed her eyes, and as a breeze blew over her skin, sighed in relief. Finally, some quiet.

And that’s when she heard a female giggle, followed by a distinct male chuckle.

Oh god, please don’t let it be him. Anyone but him. Penelope’s shoulders stiffened and she craned her neck, dread already pooling in the pit of her stomach. When her gaze locked with Evan’s, she wasn’t the least bit surprised.

Even in the dim glow of the lights, she could see his vivid green eyes boring into hers. His tux jacket was undone, along with his shirt, exposing the cords of his neck and barest hint of his strong chest. With dark hair and strong, chiseled features he was so sinfully gorgeous it was nauseating. He was also wild and reckless. He didn’t care about anything but football and screwing as many women as possible. Not her type at all.

The girl he’d brought was on her knees, working at his belt buckle. She peered over at Penelope and smiled with glossy, over-collagened lips. “Oops, busted.”

Evan’s attention didn’t leave Penelope’s and his lips curled into something that resembled a half sneer. “Hey, little Penny.”

She wanted to scream. She hated when he called her that. She clenched her hands and thought about committing acts of violence. She wanted to kick him, throw a drink in his face, or maybe grab the girl hovering at his crotch by the hair and scalp her.

But that wasn’t the role she played. No, she was a calm, rational, logical person. She swallowed her emotions and turned, keeping her expression cool and impassive. She flicked a dismissive glance at the woman who didn’t have the decency to get off her knees, and smirked. “Evan. I see your girlfriend’s mom let her out past curfew.”

This wasn’t the first time this had happened, and it wouldn’t be the last. Sometimes Penelope wondered if he did it on purpose. Just to hurt her. Although, in fairness, that probably gave him too much credit. Penelope doubted he thought that deeply.

The girl rose and plastered her hands on spandex-encased hips. “I’m twenty-two.”

Penelope laughed, and let her eyes go wide. “Wow, twenty-two, you’re practically ancient.”

“Who is this woman?” the girl asked, her voice filled with scorn.

Penelope shifted her attention back to Evan. “I’m nobody.”

“Evan?” his date asked, before slithering alongside him.

His expression flickered. “She’s my sister’s best friend.”

“Nobody you need to concern yourself with,” Penelope said.

“I didn’t think so.” The girl flipped her hair, but her eyes were wary behind her overly mascaraed lashes. The girl might be young, but she was no fool, and she sensed the undercurrents lacing the air. She looked at Evan, who still watched Penelope as though searching for something. The girl’s lips curled. “You’re hardly his type.”

True. Since his current age cutoff for dating seemed to be around twenty-five, she was long past her prime. Penelope gave the child her sweetest smile. “Of course not, I’m an adult.”

The girl opened her mouth to say something, but Evan shook his head and encircled her wrist. “Go wait for me inside, babe.”

Penelope stifled the gasp and resisted the urge to react. What was he doing? They were never alone together. Those were the rules.

The girl pouted. “But, Evan.”

“Go. I’ll be there in a minute.”

Penelope didn’t know what he was up to, but she wouldn’t stand for it. She held up her hands. “No, don’t let me bother you. I’m leaving.”

He looked like he was about to say something, but then he stopped, and shrugged. “Suit yourself.”

The girl curled into Evan, draping her perfect, Playboy body all over him, and giving Penelope a smug smile. “You didn’t forget your walker, did you?”

Evan’s jaw tightened, and for a fraction of a second Penelope thought he’d be decent and put the girl in her place, but then his expression smoothed into impassive.

His refusal to defend her stuck like a thorn in her side, reminding her just how much she didn’t like him. She shifted her attention back to the twenty-two-year-old. “By the way, he doesn’t know your name.”

The girl’s smugness fell away. “Um, yeah, he does.”

Penelope shook her head. “Nope. Sorry. He always calls you girls ‘babe’ when he doesn’t remember.” She flicked a glance at Evan. “Have fun.”

Then, before she could get caught up in any more of his crap, she turned and walked away.

Last thing she heard was “babe” asking Evan what her name was, but Penelope didn’t have to stick around to wait for the answer. She knew Evan and he had no idea.

Of course, as a famous, bad-boy football player who was notoriously reported as insatiable and wild, Penelope knew it wouldn’t matter. Evan would get his blow job, and probably a hundred other things, before the night was through.

Little things like names didn’t matter in the NFL.

Penelope slipped inside and hurried down the hallway, searching for a place to collect herself. When she found a tiny recess at the end of a corridor, she rested against the wall, squeezing her lids tight.

For a smart woman, she sure was stupid.

She had everything she could want from life. A great home, respect, friends, and a family who loved her. She had an MBA from Northwestern, and was admired by her colleagues for her logical, analytical brain that could solve even the toughest of problems. Shane had recently promoted her to chief operating officer of the Donovan Corporation, with a huge salary and even bigger bonus.

She’d done everything right. She’d walked the straight and narrow. Made no big mistakes. She’d achieved success beyond her wildest imagination.

And what was she doing with all these brains of hers? Still pining for Evan Donovan.

It was so ridiculous and frustrating. Crushes that began at six were supposed to end. They weren’t supposed to plague her at thirty-one.

She rubbed at her temples. She’d tried countless times over the years to talk herself out of him, but it hadn’t worked. Ironically, her heart seemed to be the only impetuous, self-destructive thing about her.

And she’d tried. God knew how hard she’d tried. She’d dated plenty of men. Good men who appreciated her and treated her the way she deserved. And still she couldn’t forget Evan, or the past that meant more to her than to him. He lingered in the back of her mind, always present.

She didn’t even like the man he’d become. He wasn’t a real man by her definition. More like an overgrown frat boy. The grown-up version of Evan, she could get over.

Only her memories wouldn’t allow that.

No matter how many times she’d told herself that boy was a figment of her imagination, her heart refused to believe. And thus, like every bad country song ever written, she pined for a man who would never love her in return.

She hated it, but didn’t know how to stop it from being true.

The one saving grace was that nobody knew. Not her friends. Not her parents. Not even a stranger on the street. No one. She refused to even write his name in her journal for fear someone would discover the truth.

She hid her feelings well. She never reacted. Always played it cool. And no one had ever guessed. In the long list of humiliations she’d suffered at the hands of Evan Donovan, this wouldn’t be one of them.

This secret would follow her to the grave.


As Good As New by Jennifer Dawson is a contemporary romance, released by Zebra on March 29, 2016.

Find this Book: Amazon | Amazon UK | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Goodreads

About the Author:

Jennifer Dawson grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from DePaul University with a degree in psychology. She met her husband at the public library while they were studying. To this day she still maintains she was NOT checking him out. Now, over twenty years later they're married living in a suburb right outside of Chicago with two awesome kids and a crazy dog.

Despite going through a light FM, poem writing phase in high school, Jennifer never grew up wanting to be a writer (she had more practical aspirations of being an international super spy). Then one day, suffering from boredom and disgruntled with a book she'd been reading, she decided to put pen to paper. The rest, as they say, is history.

These days Jennifer can be found sitting behind her computer writing her next novel, chasing after her kids, keeping an ever watchful eye on her ever growing to-do list, and NOT checking out her husband.

Social Links: Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Website 

More from Jennifer Dawson on Love Reading Romance:

Crave by Jennifer Dawson - Book Review
Take a Chance on Me by Jennifer Dawson - Book Review
The Winner Takes It All by Jennifer Dawson - Book Review
The Winner Takes It All by Jennifer Dawson - Book Excerpt 
The Name of the Game by Jennifer Dawson - Book Review
The Name of the Game by Jennifer Dawson - Book Excerpt
I Write Romance by Jennifer Dawson - Guest Post 

Thursday, 2 June 2016

The Goodbye Ride by Lily Malone - Book Review the Blurb:

A fresh, funny and poignant romance set in the beautiful Adelaide Hills.

Olivia Murphy is a woman on a mission. The Ducati motorbike that once belonged to her brother has come up for re-sale. Liv wants to buy the precious bike, and she needs the ink dry on the paperwork before the approaching long weekend, when tourists with fat wallets will descend on her hometown of Hahndorf.

Only one person stands in her way; and she’s just tripped and fallen at his feet...

Owen Carson likes rare and beautiful things and he has the Ducati in his sights. Then Liv literally falls into his path, and he finds his heart captured by beauty of a very different kind.

How far will Liv go to make the motorbike hers? Can a viticulturalist fall for a man who prefers beer? And will a long weekend among the grape vines be long enough for Owen to convince Liv he's interested in more than just a holiday fling?

The Review:

Olivia wants to buy the bike that once belonged to her (now dead) brother so she can take it for a memorial ride with his boyfriend. Owen makes a better offer on the bike, though, leaving Olivia distraught. He makes a deal, however, that she can buy the bike from him if she helps him with some grape vines.

This is a quick read and a quick romance. The whole story takes place over only a few days, in which time the hero and heroine go from meeting each other, to falling in love and making life affecting decisions to be with each other - so I think it's important to keep that in mind. It was the perfect book for me right now, because I'm run off my feet and struggling with the attention span required for longer, more involved stories, but you definitely need to just jump with the whole swept up in love thing.

As I expect from Lily Malone's romances, the characters are sweet, caring individuals. Olivia is still struggling to deal with certain aspects of her brother's death and especially the effects this had on her family, restricting her independence and ability to move on. Owen has just moved back into town and is keen to look after little lost Olivia - I have to admit, his determination to help her, and encourage her to question her life, feels a little pushy at times, but equally she needs a little outside help to make much needed life changes.

The main secondary crisis outside the romance centers on Olivia's issues contending with the homophobia of her family and others in response to her brother being gay. I feel like we've come a long way (in an up and down kinda way) in terms of LGBT acceptance in Australia, so occasionally some of the homophobic attitudes seemed ridiculously conservative to me and I had to remind myself that this is a rerelease from a few years ago AND that it's set in a small town(!!). I also would have liked to see Owen make more of a stand in defense of homosexuality (particularly when his cousin uses the f word), rather than just passively accepting that Oliva's brother was gay. Either way, it's always nice to see authors bringing these sort of issues into their mainstream romances and in such a positive way!! A+++.

As you can tell from all my above rambling thoughts, there's quite a lot of emotional drama and some intense issues packed into this little novella. The best thing about this is that these are wound through so nicely, part of the three dimensional characters and their lives, without it becoming a heavy story. Quite the contrary, this novella has emotional, full, real characters, but is really a fun, easy read that is perfect for those times when you just need to fall in love with characters and a good book, quick snap!

Goodbye Ride by Lily Malone is a contemporary romance, released originally by Lily Malone in 2013 (I think!), and rereleased by Escape Publisher on May 1, 2016.

Book Links: Amazon - Amazon UK - Amazon AUS - Goodreads - The Publisher

More from Lily Malone on Love Reading Romance:

What’s in a name? by Lily Malone - Guest Post
Fairway To Heaven by Lily Malone - Book Review
So Far Into You by Lily Malone - Book Review
Making Beautiful Music by Lily Malone - Guest Post

Monday, 25 April 2016

Painting Sky by Rita Branches - Book Excerpt
Today is release day for Painting Sky by Rita Branches and we're sharing an excerpt!

Enjoy! xx

From the Blurb:

Nobody ever said life was easy...

People pleaser, Jane Skylar wants nothing more than to earn her art degree, start her life, and bask in the bliss of living with her boyfriend.

But things don't always go as planned...

Struggling with her creative side, Jane finds herself in turmoil, often confiding in her roommate - another, more talented art student, Keith Hale. Keith just so happens to be her boyfriend's older, brooding brother. After a devastating breakup, Jane turns to Keith for comfort. But when the lines blur between roommate and lover, Jane's life becomes more complicated than ever before.

When Keith's past comes back to haunt him, their lives all get turned upside down, forcing the truth to surface. Now Jane must fight for what she wants--even if it hurts everyone she loves.


“Ryan doesn’t like us being friends, either, does he?” I asked, maybe half an hour from home. It was a rhetorical question, but I wanted him to answer it.

Keith looked at me from the corner of his eye, making me aware that this was a subject he’d thought was closed. After a few minutes, he answered. “Ryan is your father’s son. Besides, he wants to protect you. Anyone who loves you wants to keep you away from me, as they should.” Once again, my mouth was hanging open. I turned all the way to him, pulling one leg up onto the seat.

“What the hell is wrong with you? Keith Hale, almighty Keith Hale, the most I-don’t-give-a shit-about-anyone, I-can-get-any-girl-I-want-by-snapping-my-fingers, Keith Hale is, in fact, a fake.” He looked at me, surprised. “Yeah, a fake. You don’t have a drop of self-esteem. You were supposed to be the most confident person in the world, yet you keep giving me that cryptic, rehearsed shit. And, yeah, I can cuss. I just didn’t feel like it, before.”

Keith swerved the car to park on the side of the road, which made the car behind us honk. He turned it off and got in my face, anger pouring from him.

“Is that before/after shit I don’t want, Skylar. There is no before. We’re still not friends, got it? I can get any girl I want. I could get you if I wanted, but I don’t.” The last word hung between us for a few seconds. I should have been mad for what he said, like some pathetic girl who’d fallen for him that easily, but, sadly, I was just hurt that he wanted anyone other than me.


Painting Sky by Rita Branches is a contemporary romance, released April 25, 2016.

Find this Book: Amazon | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Monday, 18 April 2016

Choose Your Rake Wisely by Christy Carlyle - Guest Post

Today Christy Carlyle is visiting the blog with a bet you can make when choosing a gentleman to wed!

Choose Your Rake Wisely:

No matter how handsome a rogue might be, or how numerous his charms, I always remind myself that Happily Ever After lasts for a very long time. Scoundrels may seem easily won and as if they’re prepared to woo the first women who cross their paths. However, you can bet that such gentlemen—if one can call scoundrels “gentlemen”—are actually quite discerning.

Thus, ladies, we must be discerning too.

If you must marry a rake, take the time to discover the man beyond the trappings of his scandalous reputation. Every rogue seems appealing at a party where he’s throwing out witticisms, flirting mercilessly, or, depending on his temperament, brooding in the corner. Gaslight gilds his hair and skin, his eyes glitter in the candlelight, and you might just consider swooning (not that you ever would!) when you see his fine physique moving gracefully across a ballroom.

Get your rake out from under the gaslight and into hot water, so to speak. Observe how he handles dilemmas and the unexpected challenges that arise in life. Better yet, study how he interacts with his family. These are the moments when a rake might let his practiced charm slip, when you can glimpse the leanings of his heart. A lady should value those moments when she experiences the man behind a rogue’s charismatic facade. That’s how a lady learns which rake to choose.


Meet the lady and rake of Christy Carlyle's latest novel in One Dangerous Desire! OUT TODAY!

From the Blurb:
In a bet between two old flames…

Rex Leighton dominates the boardroom in the day and prowls the ballroom at night. Searching for the perfect bride to usher him into the aristocracy, he abandoned the idea of love a long time ago--the last time he saw the delicious May Sedgwick. But when he’s roped into a bet, where the prize is the means to fund his greatest ambition and the stakes are a marriage he’s already planning for, Rex is willing to go all in. There’s just one problem-he’s competing against the only woman he’s ever loved and he’s sure she’ll ruin all his plans.

Only love can take it all

Miss May Sedgwick could be the belle of the season…if she cared. May is more interested in the art studio than the marriage market and her craving to pursue her passion far outweighs her desire for a titled English husband. Winning this bet will finally allow her to pursue her true artistic desires. Rex Leighton losing is just a side benefit, as are his breathtaking kisses that she just can’t seem to resist.

One Dangerous Desire by Christy Carlyle is a historical romance, released by Avon on April 19, 2016.

Find this Book: Amazon | Amazon UK | iTunes | Kobo | B&N | Goodreads

About the Author:

Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there’s nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.

Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Truly, Madly, Sweetly by Kira Archer - Book Excerpt
Today we have an excerpt from Truly, Madly, Sweetly by Kira Archer!


From the Blurb:

An inherited parking spot. That’s all it took to make Natalie Moran’s food truck dreams come true. But her dream space is attached to a bakery inherited by someone else—drop dead gorgeous Eric Schneider, a financial consultant who wouldn’t know a cupcake from a cannoli. And he wants to buy Nat out, no matter what she has to say about it.

Eric’s determined to build his own business, but he needs the super cute klutz with the cupcake truck to help. If Nat will teach him the basics of running a bakery, he’ll give her free kitchen time. Except…neither expects the heat burning between them or the possibility that their arrangement might become permanent.

When it all blows up, Nat is convinced his actions mean betrayal. It’s up to Eric to regain her trust and show her he’s a man who is truly, madly in love with her, before she disappears from his life forever.


The walk home was a blur of hands and lips and a vague sense of embarrassment whenever someone had to clear their throats to get around them on the sidewalk. Nat nearly sobbed in relief once they reached Eric’s brownstone. They jogged up the stairs to the front door and Eric pulled her against him, claiming her lips again while he fumbled for the keys in his pocket. Nat vaguely realized there were still people wandering about the streets, but nothing much registered on her radar but Eric.

He dropped the keys on the stoop but neither took much notice. Eric pushed her up against his front door, his hands tangling in her hair as he angled her mouth to fit to his. She yanked his T-shirt out of his jeans, desperate to get her hands on his bare chest. He pulled the shoulder of her dress to the side, kissing across her collarbone.

Someone coughed. Eric and Nat glanced up, disoriented, and froze when they met the shocked gaze of someone’s little old night-owl grandma, apparently setting out to walk her dog. Eric nodded at her, his hand still entangled in Nat’s dress, his body pressed to hers. Moving, however, would definitely be worse, seeing as how it would give the poor old woman an eyeful of the rock solid length currently straining the seams in Eric’s pants.

“Good evening, Mrs. Jankowski. Going for a walk?” he asked.

Nat smiled and felt around on the ground for the keys with her foot.

Mrs. Jankowski nodded, her mouth hanging slightly open. “Just taking Peanut out.”

“Got them,” Nat whispered, kicking her foot out of her stiletto long enough to snake the keys with her toes. She brought her foot up behind her, grabbed the keys and shoved them into Eric’s hands.

“Ah. Lovely night for it,” he said, jamming his key into the lock. Nat sagged against him in relief when she heard the lock click.

“We’re just on our way in. Have a good night then.” Eric opened the door and they stumbled inside and slammed the door, shutting out the sight of his thoroughly shocked and mildly amused neighbor.

The moment the door closed, Eric and Natalie burst out laughing.

“Oh my God, your poor neighbor.”

“Yeah, I’m going to have to move for sure.”

They laughed again. The movement brought Eric and his poor pants back into contact with the sensitive skin of Nat’s bare thighs and her laughter choked off in a gasp. Eric’s eyes locked with hers and their smiles faded.

Then his lips were on hers again, his hands roaming over every inch he could touch. Eric spun Nat into the hallway and up a flight of stairs before she could catch her breath.


Truly, Madly, Sweetly by Kira Archer is a contemporary romance, released by Entangled Lovestruck on April 4 2016.

Find this Book: Amazon | Amazon UK | iTunes | Kobo | B&N | Goodreads

About the Author:

Kira Archer resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kiddos, and far too many animals in the house. She tends to laugh at inappropriate moments, break all the rules she gives her kids (but only when they aren't looking), and would rather be reading a book than doing almost anything else. She has odd, eclectic tastes in just about everything and often lets her imagination run away with her. She loves her romances a little playful, a lot sexy, and always with a happily ever after.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Suddenly in Love by Julia London - Book Excerpt
Today we have an excerpt from Suddenly in Love by Julia London!


From the Blurb:

Mia Lassiter is thrilled to finally put her artistic skills to use working for her aunt’s interior design shop in her hometown of East Beach. While renovating an old mansion overlooking stunning Lake Haven, she encounters a scruffy but attractive man named Brennan—the owner’s son. She doesn’t realize this sexy recluse is actually Everett Alden, the world-famous rock star in hiding who’s nursing his own artistic and personal crises.

As their personalities clash, tension simmers between the struggling artist and jaded musician, and their time spent alone together in the gorgeous old house only serves to turn up the heat. Soon, Mia and Brennan’s creative passions boil over to inspire passions of another kind…

But reality comes crashing in when Mia’s celeb-obsessed cousin discovers Brennan’s true identity—and reveals it to the world. As paparazzi swarm the mansion, Brennan is thrust back into his rock star lifestyle. Will Mia lose her soul mate just when she’s finally found him? Can their love survive the glaring spotlight?



This was one big ship of hope—otherwise known as the 6 train—bobbing along on a sea of lollipop dreams. Otherwise known as the bowels of Manhattan. But even the stale air and the snores of the man next to her couldn’t keep Mia Lassiter from believing that things were turning around for her, that the cosmos had at last opened and shined its glorious light on her.

It wasn’t every day a perfect opportunity fell in her lap. Lately, it had been just the opposite. She’d recently lost her job (not the greatest, but at least something in her field), and her boyfriend (not the greatest, but at least she’d gotten some average sex out of it), and was on the verge of losing her apartment (yes, it was a pit—but a pit in a great location). So to have something so unexpected and so clearly meant for her fall into her lap filled Mia with optimism, and she was practically sailing uptown with the wind at her back and her portfolio tucked up under her arm.

When at last she emerged from the Big Hope Ship onto Lexington Avenue, she began striding purposefully across the street. Move out of my way, people!

Sure, she noticed some looks in her direction from well-heeled women with small children and dogs in designer carriers. Because Mia Julia London was wearing a dress she’d made from white muslin and had stained with Earl Grey tea, a vest she had knitted from thrift store sweatshirts, a pair of ankle boots, graphic tights, and a cloche hat she’d made from a piece of felt she’d found at a sidewalk sale. Her father accused her of liv-ing in an episode of Project Runway, and he most certainly would have advised her against this outfit for a job interview. He generally advised her against this sort of outfit, period.

But this was different. Mia’s father didn’t know August Brockway. August Brockway was one of America’s most important artists and he was hiring an intern. When one of Mia’s former instructors from Pratt Institute had called her out of the blue to tell her about it, Mia had shrieked with excitement into the phone. She’d studied his leg-endary work. She loved the ethereal quality of his landscapes, the use of light and shadows in his still-life paintings. He was the artist she wanted to be.

It was a dream come true to have an opportunity to intern for him. It was the sort of opportunity Mia had assumed she’d get after she graduated from college. She had not dreamed of being a textile designer, but that’s what she’d been the last few years.

The perfect jobs she’d assumed would come her way after graduation hadn’t materialized. She’d been unable to find a job in a gallery with her fresh, never-used fine arts degree. So she’d taken the textile design job, creating fabrics for furniture. At the very least, it was creative. And it was definitely a way to pay rent until she could establish herself as an artist.

Which was now! At last, at long last, she was getting the break she needed, the chance to follow her dreams.

She arrived at the address where her interview would be conducted.

The building had a doorman. A doorman! It would be weird and excit-ing to come here to work every day. Mia would make friends with the doorman, she decided. She’d bring him a muffin from the corner bakery near her apartment. He would tell her what the weather was going to do that day and she would suggest a tie or shirt he could wear for a weekend party.

This was going to happen. Mia had a sixth sense about these things, and could feel it tingling in her bones. She was confident that August Brockway would see her work, would see that it was obviously inspired by his, and he would be bowled over by it. He would give her the job, and she would clean his paintbrushes and change out his drop cloths and lis-ten to every word he said as he taught her everything he knew. It was fate.

She checked her vintage watch; she was ten minutes early. She took the opportunity to put down the heavy portfolio and straighten the dress she’d made. She loved this dress. Obviously, designing textiles wasn’t her first career choice, but Mia had turned out to be pretty darn good at it, if she did say so herself. She was so good, in fact, that when her boss had invited her out to lunch a few weeks ago, Mia had been sure she was finally getting the raise he’d been promising her for over a year.

Don was an overweight, lumbering man with oily black hair and wire-rimmed glasses that never sat straight on his face. He took her to lunch at a fast-food chain. That should have been her first clue, but ever hopeful, like a too-stupid-to-live princess in a fairy tale, Mia hadn’t caught on. And then, between big bites of burger, punctuated by the shoveling of fries, Don said, “We’re closing shop.”

“What?” Mia had cried, loud enough that the ladies next to them had turned to look at her. “I thought I was getting a raise!”

“A raise!” Don had chuckled as he stuffed another fry into his mouth. “We’re barely paying the rent.” He dragged a paper napkin across his thick lips. “So look, we lost that contract in North Carolina. Something about the percentage of natural fibers in our fabrics wasn’t meeting their standard—well, whatever, that’s way over your head,” he said with a wave of his meaty fist, ignoring her look of indignation.

“It was a big contract, obviously, so corporate is going to have to con-solidate some things and this shop is sitting in the most expensive real estate, so . . .” He’d shrugged and munched on another fry. “We’re shut-ting down.”

“But . . . but what happens to everyone?”

“Well, I’m moving to Scranton. And the rest of you will have to find new jobs.”

He’d said it so matter-of-factly, as if it were nothing for the little group of misfits who designed couch fabrics to find new jobs. Mia thought of Charles with his brown bag lunches and e-reader. And

Maureen, the obese diabetic who baked cookies every weekend and brought them to the shop on Mondays. Maureen designed the most intricate, beautiful patterns. And what about David and Jean and Asmara? Where would they go? The injustice had left Mia speechless.

“Look on the bright side,” Don had said, pausing to stifle a belch.

“You’re getting two weeks’ severance.”

“You’re kidding. Considering my paltry hourly wage, that’s not a bright side, Don.”

He’d shrugged. “Take it or leave it.”

Yeah, well, Mia had had no choice but to take it. And then she’d spent every day searching for a job that was even remotely artistic. She’d applied to teach a weaving class, to be a gallery receptionist, a graphic designer, and even a bookbinder . . . but no one wanted her. No one cared about her art portfolio. Employers cared only about her experience answering phones or designing websites.

Well, Mia didn’t have that sort of experience. She didn’t have any experience other than art school and textile design. No, wait, that wasn’t fair—she was pretty good at busing tables. Her brother Derek had pointed that out. “You can wait tables for Mom and Dad at the bistro. You know how to do that.”

As Mia had spent all her teenage years doing exactly that, it was absolutely the last thing she wanted to do.


Suddenly in Love by Julia London is a contemporary romance, released by Montlake Romance on April 5, 2016.

Find this Book: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Goodreads

About the Author:

Born in Canyon, Texas, and raised on a ranch, Julia London didn’t have her eye on writing romance right away. After graduating with a degree in political science from the University of Texas in Austin, she moved out to Washington, DC, eventually working in the White House. She later decided to take a break from government work and start writing. Today, she is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty novels. She writes historical romance and contemporary women’s fiction, and her most popular series include the Secrets of Hadley Green series, the Cabot Sisters series, the Desperate Debutantes series, the Lear Sisters series, and the Pine River series. She is a recipient of the RT Book Reviews Best Regency Historical Romance award for The Dangerous Gentleman, and a six-time finalist for the renowned RITA Award for excellence in romantic fiction. She resides in Austin, Texas.

Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Six Degrees of Scandal by Caroline Linden - Book Excerpt
Today we have an excerpt from Six Degrees of Scandal by Caroline Linden!


From the Blurb:

Olivia Townsend is in trouble and out of options. Pursued by a desperate man in search of a lost treasure, which she doesn’t have, she’s got only two things in her favor: her late husband’s diary, which she was never meant to see… and the man who was her first-and only-love. Losing him broke her heart, though she’s been careful to hide it for the last ten years. But when he comes to her aid and vows to stand by her this time, no matter what, she can’t help but hope things will be different this time.

James Weston has blamed himself for letting Olivia down when she needed him years ago, and he will not do it again. Fortunately, his unusual life has equipped him well to outsmart the villain chasing Olivia. Unfortunately, being so near her again threatens to expose every secret in his heart…even those that should stay hidden forever.


Chapter One



Olivia Herbert knew James Weston was a rogue the first time he winked at her, one fine Sunday morning in August when butterflies were riding warm drafts of air through the open door of St. Godfrey’s and Mr. Bunce the curate was droning on and on as if he meant to put every person in the church to sleep.

She was staving off the urge to do just that by watching the butterflies. James Weston, it turned out, was watching her. As her gaze followed one butterfly—a delicate white one with spots of blue on its wings, who swooped and glided effortlessly on the hazy air—it connected with James’s. His family was sitting in the next pew over, and when their eyes met, the impudent boy winked at her.

She looked away at once. Not only had he caught her woolgathering, wishing she could flit about the church and out the door like that butterfly, but it was probably a sin to wink in church. With some effort she tried to focus her mind on the sermon, but within moments a bee flew overhead, and once again, quite independently of any wish to be well-behaved, her eyes tracked the insect as it buzzed away, right toward the Weston pew.

This time when he caught her eye, he grinned. Slowly he raised one hand, and with small, cautious movements, pretended to flick the bee as it flew by. Then he screwed up his face and mimed being stung, shaking his finger and sticking it into his mouth.

Olivia couldn’t help it. She smiled, and a tiny giggle shook her shoulders. His grin grew wider, and he wiggled his eyebrows at her.

A sharp jab in her side made Olivia hastily jerk her gaze back to Mr. Bunce, whose voice had settled into a low drone, as if he, too, were falling asleep. Beside her, Mother glared from the corner of her eye. Olivia repressed a sigh. Ladies didn’t giggle in church, and Mother was determined that Olivia would be a lady.

Mother didn’t even wait until they reached home. Her scolding began as they walked to their carriage after the service. “Olivia Herbert, what were you thinking? Laughing in church! What a common, hoydenish thing to do.”

“I’m sorry, Mother.”

“And making eyes at that boy.” Mother didn’t grimace, but her tone dripped with distaste. “Those upstart Westons.”

“Upstarts they may be, but well-heeled ones.” Father spoke for the first time, giving Olivia a measuring glance. “She could do worse.”

Mother gasped. “Thomas Weston is an attorney. I want better for our daughters, Sir Alfred.”

“You’ve got to be practical, madam.” Father waited as the footman helped them into the carriage. “Our girls won’t have much to attract a noble husband.”

“Only their beauty.” Mother’s gaze softened as she looked at Olivia and her younger sister, Daphne. “A lady’s face, along with her sweet temper and amiable disposition, are her greatest assets, girls.”

“Yes, Mother,” piped up Daphne. “I’ll make you proud and marry a royal duke!”

Mother laughed gently. “I’m sure you will, my beautiful darling.” It was already clear that Daphne took after her mother. Olivia wasn’t sure if she took after her father or not; Father was often preoccupied with rank and money, and he was very fond of wagering on the horse races, none of which appealed to her. But at the same time, Olivia didn’t share her mother’s keen interest in fashion or ladylike accomplishments. She supposed she might as she grew older, but at the advanced age of ten she wasn’t much interested in sizing up potential husbands.


Six Degrees of Scandal by Caroline Linden is a historical romance, released by Avon on March 29, 2016.

Find this Book: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | iTunes | GooglePlay | Kobo | Goodreads

About the Author:

Caroline Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a math degree from Harvard University and wrote computer software before turning to writing fiction. Ten years, twelve books, three Red Sox championships, and one dog later, she has never been happier with her decision. Her books have won the NEC Reader’s Choice Beanpot Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and RWA’s RITA Award. Since she never won any prizes in math, she takes this as a sign that her decision was also a smart one. Visit her online at

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Saturday, 2 April 2016

No Flowers Required by Cari Quinn - Book Review
From the Blurb:

Flower shop owner Alexa Conroy had it all before the recession hit and her customers fled to cheaper shopping grounds. Desperate to make ends meet, she sells her dream home and moves into the rundown apartments above her shop. When she spots six feet of sexy distraction—complete with muscles, piercings, and tattoos—ripping up flooring, Alexa knows the karmic windfall she's due just landed on her doorstep. And the attraction's definitely not one-sided. Dillon James, reluctant heir to the corporation about to foreclose on Alexa's shop, is not about to jeopardize their scorching chemistry by admitting he's not the building's handyman. But with only weeks until her business goes under and his identity is revealed, Dillon must find a way to convince Alexa cooperation isn't a dirty word, help her save the shop from his brother's greed, and persuade her that he's not the enemy…or risk losing the only woman who's seen the real him.

The Review:

Alexa is determined to make her new life work - despite the fact that her new apartment is falling to bits and her flower shop is going under, thanks in part to the big business that seems to have taken over town. A romp in the sack with her new building's handyman seems like the perfect way to pick up her mood, until a one night stand becomes something more and it turns out her handyman might be keeping quite a secret.

I really liked Alexa. She's a girly girl, but that doesn't stop her from being driven and independent. It also doesn't stop her from unashamedly objectifying her building's "handyman". I really felt for her through the story - not only her nervousness at the turns her love life takes but also her desire to make a beautiful florist into a feasible business.

Dillon is a super sexy hero (with "a taut back meant for fingernail marks" - I just think that is the best description!), but I didn't like him quite as much as Alexa. I struggled a lot with the fact that he lies to her about being her building's handyman - when he is part owner of the building, as well as part of the big family business that is threatening her florist. His adoration of her is gorgeous, but not excuse enough for me to forgive the lies, especially because they go on for SO LONG.

Together they are so freaking sexy. This is a very hot book and the romance elements would all be very sweet if it wasn't for the underlying crisis of deception - for me this is just a really hard one to forgive and I felt like Alexa forgives him maybe a little too easily. Admittedly, I should have worked out this storyline from the blurb! My fault really.

That said, I hadn't read any Cari Quinn before, and I love her style and the super hot chemistry that holds this story together. The secrets and lies storyline isn't for me, but I'm definitely going to be trying more of Quinn's novels!

No Flowers Required by Cari Quinn is a contemporary romance, released by Entangled Brazen on August 20, 2012.

Find this Book: Amazon | Amazon UK | Book Depository | Publisher | Goodreads