Source: St. Martin's Press

#BookReview Wild, Wild Rake (The Cavensham Heiresses #6) by Janna MacGregor @JannaMacGregor @smpromance #WildWildRake #smpromance

#BookReview Wild, Wild Rake (The Cavensham Heiresses #6) by Janna MacGregor @JannaMacGregor @smpromance #WildWildRake #smpromance Title: Wild, Wild Rake

Author: Janna MacGregor

Series: The Cavensham Heiresses #6

Published by: St. Martin's Press on Feb. 25, 2020

Genres: Historical Romance

Pages: 353

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 8/10

Her first marriage was an epic failure.

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

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

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


Review:

Romantic, tantalizing, and witty!

Wild, Wild Rake is set in the English countryside during 1815 and features the independent, fiery Lady Avalon Warwyk who after a decade of blissful widowhood suddenly finds herself under the watchful eye of her late husband’s friend, the devilishly handsome, new parish vicar Devan Farris.

The prose is light and engaging. The characters are sweet, tentative, and alluring. And the plot is an amusing mix of Regency lifestyle, scoundrel behaviour, familial drama, mystique, attraction, admiration, tricky mishaps, danger, and steamy romance.

Overall, Wild, Wild Rake is a tempestuous, entertaining, scandalous read by MacGregor that’s a wonderful addition to The Cavensham Heiresses series and a delightful indulgence.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following link.

                 

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Janna MacGregor

Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs. She loves to hear from readers.

Photograph courtesy of Author's Goodreads Page.

#BookReview The Unexpected Spy by Tracy Walder with Jessica Anya Blau @tracy_walder @JessicaAnyaBlau @StMartinsPress #TheUnexpectedSpy

#BookReview The Unexpected Spy by Tracy Walder with Jessica Anya Blau @tracy_walder @JessicaAnyaBlau @StMartinsPress #TheUnexpectedSpy Title: The Unexpected Spy

Author: Tracy Walder

Published by: St. Martin's Press on Feb. 25, 2020

Genres: Non Fiction

Pages: 272

Format: Hardcover

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 8.5/10

A highly entertaining account of a young woman who went straight from her college sorority to the CIA, where she hunted terrorists and WMDs

When Tracy Walder enrolled at the University of Southern California, she never thought that one day she would offer her pink beanbag chair in the Delta Gamma house to a CIA recruiter, or that she’d fly to the Middle East under an alias identity.

The Unexpected Spy is the riveting story of Walder’s tenure in the CIA and, later, the FBI. In high-security, steel-walled rooms in Virginia, Walder watched al-Qaeda members with drones as President Bush looked over her shoulder and CIA Director George Tenet brought her donuts. She tracked chemical terrorists and searched the world for Weapons of Mass Destruction. She created a chemical terror chart that someone in the White House altered to convey information she did not have or believe, leading to the Iraq invasion. Driven to stop terrorism, Walder debriefed terrorists—men who swore they’d never speak to a woman—until they gave her leads. She followed trails through North Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, shutting down multiple chemical attacks.

Then Walder moved to the FBI, where she worked in counterintelligence. In a single year, she helped take down one of the most notorious foreign spies ever caught on American soil. Catching the bad guys wasn’t a problem in the FBI, but rampant sexism was. Walder left the FBI to teach young women, encouraging them to find a place in the FBI, CIA, State Department or the Senate—and thus change the world.


Review:

Candid, eye-opening, and inspiring!

The Unexpected Spy is the informative, intriguing story of Tracy Walder’s personal and professional experiences, successes, struggles, and accomplishments as a CIA SOO, FBI Special Agent, and beloved history teacher at an all girl’s school.

The writing is clear and precise. The characters are intelligent, focused, and driven. And the novel is a compelling, fascinating, introspective tale of one woman’s life as a covert operative in the wake of 9/11. 

The Unexpected Spy is, ultimately, part memoir, part spy novel that is full of valuable, insightful information into counterterrorism and the roles and efforts of counterintelligence agencies worldwide.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                      

 

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Tracy Walder

Tracy Walder is a former Staff Operations Officer (SOO) at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and a Special Agent at the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office specializing in Chinese counterintelligence operations and has taught high-school history and government courses at Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas. Now Walder is the Board of Directors for Girl Security, a non profit, non partisan group that brings national security curriculum to girls in high school throughout the US.

Photography by Kent Barker Photography.

#BookReview The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo @AlyssInWnderlnd @StMartinsPress

#BookReview The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo @AlyssInWnderlnd @StMartinsPress Title: The Borgia Confessions

Author: Alyssa Palombo

Published by: St. Martin's Griffin on Feb. 11, 2020

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 432

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 9/10

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

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

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

Alyssa Palombo’s captivating new novel, The Borgia Confessions, is a story of passion, politics, and class, set against the rise and fall of one of Italy’s most infamous families–the Borgias.


Book Rating: 9/10

Rich, fascinating, and immersive!

The Borgia Confessions is a compelling, informative tale set in Rome from 1492 to 1498 that tells the story of Rodrigo Borgia’s children, primarily Cesare, the Archbishop of Valencia who entered the church to please his father against his own true passion for battle and desire to become a condottiere; as well as that of Maddalena, a pious, palace servant who was not only loyal and friendly but a temptation too strong to resist.

The prose is vivid and alluring. The characters are bold, ruthless, and driven. And the plot is a sweeping saga that gives an insightful view into the sacrifices, struggles, hopes, fears, treachery, and entangled relationships of one of the most powerful families of Renaissance Italy.

The Borgia Confessions is, ultimately, a story about life, loss, love, politics, power, war, corruption, greed, fervour, desires, and sacrifice. It’s a perceptive, absorbing, well-written tale by Palombo that does a beautiful job of highlighting her impressive research and considerable knowledge into the infamous House of Borgia and their undeniable influence on both the Vatican and Italian history.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Alyssa Palombo

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

Photograph by Jennifer Hark-Hameister.

#BlogTour #BookReview #Excerpt An Everyday Hero by Laura Trentham @LauraTrentham @StMartinsPress @smpromance

#BlogTour #BookReview #Excerpt An Everyday Hero by Laura Trentham @LauraTrentham @StMartinsPress @smpromance Title: An Everyday Hero

Author: Laura Trentham

Series: A Heart of a Hero #2

Published by: St. Martin's Griffin on Feb. 5, 2019

Genres: Women's Fiction, General Fiction

Pages: 336

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 9/10

From award-winning author Laura Trentham comes an emotionally layered novel about redemption, second chances and discovering that life is worth fighting for.

At thirty, Greer Hadley never expected to be forced home to Madison, Tennessee with her life and dreams of being a songwriter up in flames. To make matters worse, a series of bad decisions and even crappier luck lands her community service hours at a nonprofit organization that aids veterans and their families. Greer cannot fathom how she’s supposed to use music to help anyone deal with their trauma and loss when the one thing that brought her joy has failed her.

When Greer meets fifteen-year-old Ally Martinez, her plans to stay detached and do as little as possible get thrown away. New to town and dealing with the death of her father in action, she hides her emotions behind a mask of bitterness and sarcasm, but Greer is able to see past it and recognizes pieces of who she once was in Ally. The raw and obvious talent she possesses could take her to the top and Greer vows to make sure life’s negativities don’t derail Ally’s potential.

After Greer is assigned a veteran to help, she’s not surprised Emmett Lawson, the town’s golden boy, followed his family’s legacy. What leaves her shocked is the shell of a man who believes he doesn’t deserve anyone’s help. A breakthrough with Ally reminds Greer that no one is worth giving up on. So she shows up one day with his old guitar, and meets Emmett’s rage head on with her stubbornness. When a situation with Ally becomes dire, the two of them must become a team to save her—and along the way they might just save themselves too.


Review:

Heartfelt, uplifting, and sweetly romantic!

An Everyday Hero is a compelling, touching tale that reminds us of the enduring emotional, physical, and psychological effects of war on those in the military and their families and highlights the incredible healing power that friendship, trust, love, and music can have.

The prose is clear and fluid. The characters are wounded, stubborn, and empathetic. And the story is a beautiful tale about life, loss, grief, family, ambition, forgiveness, introspection, patriotism, community, PTSD, pride, resilience, and love.

Overall, An Everyday Hero is another emotional, absorbing, enchanting tale by Trentham that is a wonderful addition to a series, A Heart of a Hero, that is quickly becoming one of my all-time favourites.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                

 

 

 

EXCERPT:

Chapter 1

“Disorderly conduct. Public intoxication. Resisting arrest.” Judge Duckett put down the paper, linked his hands, and stared over his reading glasses from his perch behind the bench with a combination of exasperation and fatherly disapproval.

Greer Hadley shifted in her sensible heels and smoothed the skirt of the light pink suit she’d borrowed from her mama for the occasion. “I’ll give you the first two, Uncle Bill—” The judge cleared his throat and narrowed his eyes. “Excuse me—Judge Duckett—but I did not resist arrest.”

“That you recall.” Deputy Wayne Peeler drawled the words out in the most sarcastic, unprofessional manner possible.

She fisted her hands and took a deep breath. The impulse to punch Wayne in the face simmered below the surface like a volcano no longer at rest. But ten o’clock on a Monday morning during her arraignment was not the smartest time to lose her temper, and she’d promised herself not to add to her string of bad decisions.

She sweetened her voice and bared her teeth at Wayne in the facsimile of a smile. “I recall plenty, thank you very much.”

Truth was she didn’t recall the minute details, but the shock of Wayne’s whispered offer on Saturday night to make her troubles go away for a price had done more to sober her up than the couple of hours spent in lockup waiting for her parents.

Dressed in his tan uniform, Wayne adjusted his heavy gun belt so often she imagined he got off every night by rubbing his gun. Giving him a badge had only empowered the part of him desperate for respect and approval. His nickname in high school, “the Weasel,” had been well earned.

Unfortunately, she was the unreliable narrator of her life at the moment and no one would trust her recollections. Judge Duckett, her uncle Bill by marriage until he and her aunt Tonya had divorced, rustled papers from his desk.

The ethics of her former uncle acting as her judge were questionable, especially considering they had remained close even after he’d remarried, but if nepotism is what it took to make this nightmare go away, then she wouldn’t be the one to lodge a complaint.

“A witness claimed you were sitting quietly at the end of the bar until a song played on the jukebox. What was the song?” Her uncle glanced at her over his glasses again, which made him look like a stern teacher.

“‘Before He Cheats’ by Carrie Underwood.” She forced her chin up.

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Laura Trentham

LAURA TRENTHAM is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She is a member of RWA, and has been a finalist multiple times in the Golden Heart competition. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.

#BookReview The Look-Alike by Erica Spindler @ericaspindler @StMartinsPress

#BookReview The Look-Alike by Erica Spindler @ericaspindler @StMartinsPress Title: The Look-Alike

Author: Erica Spindler

Published by: St. Martin's Press on Jan. 28, 2020

Genres: Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 320

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 8.5/10

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Other Girl and Justice for Sara comes a thrilling psychological drama about a woman who believes she escaped a brutal murder years ago—but does anyone else believe her?

Sienna Scott grew up in the dark shadow of her mother’s paranoid delusions. Now, she’s returned home to confront her past and the unsolved murder that altered the course of her life.

In her mother’s shuttered house, an old fear that has haunted Sienna for years rears its ugly head —that it was she who had been the killer’s target that night. And now, with it, a new fear—that the killer not only intended to remedy his past mistake—he’s already begun. But are these fears any different from the ones that torment her mother?

As the walls close in, the line between truth and lie, reality and delusion disintegrate. Has Sienna’s worst nightmare come true? Or will she unmask a killer and finally prove she maybe her mother’s look-alike, but she’s not her clone?


Review:

Sinuous, devious, and compulsive!

The Look-Alike is an eerie, suspenseful thriller that takes us into the life of Sienna Scott, a young woman who finds herself back in her hometown of Tranquility Bluffs, Wisconsin after being sent away ten-years previous to protect her from her mother’s declining mental health, the aftermath of her discovery of a brutally murdered fellow college student, and the potential threat of a killer who may have mistakenly killed the wrong victim the first time around.

The prose is dark and intense. The characters are anxious, afraid, consumed, and secretive. And the plot, including all the subplots, intertwine and unravel quickly into an engrossing tale of life, loss, deception, manipulation, obsession, mental illness, complex familial drama, multiple suspects, violence, murder, and a touch of romance.

Overall, The Look-Alike is a taut, menacing, clever tale by Spindler that ultimately keeps you riveted, surprised, entertained, and guessing from start to finish.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

            

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Erica Spindler

A New York Times and International bestselling author, Erica Spindler's skill for crafting engrossing plots and compelling characters has earned both critical praise and legions of fans. Her stories have been lauded as “thrill-packed page turners, white- knuckle rides and edge-of-your-seat whodunits.”

Erica loves meeting and interacting with her fans, both in-person and online. She has a wicked sense of humor, an optimistic spirit and loves coffee, chocolate and red wine, not necessarily in that order.

In 2002 her novel Bone Cold won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence. A Romance Writers of America Honor Roll member, she received a Kiss of Death Award for her novels Forbidden Fruit and Dead Run and was a four-time RITA® Award finalist. In 1999 Publishers Weekly awarded the audio version of her novel Shocking Pink a Listen Up Award, naming it one of the best audio mystery books of 1998.

Erica lives just outside New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband and two sons.

Photograph © Hoffman Miller Advertising

#BookReview Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain @D_Chamberlain @StMartinsPress

#BookReview Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain @D_Chamberlain @StMartinsPress Title: Big Lies in a Small Town

Author: Diane Chamberlain

Published by: St. Martin's Press on Jan. 14, 2020

Genres: Women's Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 384

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 9/10

North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small-town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?


Review:

Mysterious, engaging, and thoroughly absorbing!

Big Lies in a Small Town is a pensive, suspenseful tale that sweeps you away to Edenton, North Carolina during 1939, as well as 2018, and into the lives of Anna Dale and Morgan Christopher, two troubled, talented, young women whose strength, compassion, perseverance, and artistic abilities will be extremely tested by a small town with a history brimming with secrets, tension, prejudices, narrow-minded mentality, and violence.

The writing is seamless and descriptive. The characters are intelligent, multilayered, and creative. And the plot, alternating between timelines, unravels and intertwines into a sweeping saga of life, loss, family, self-discovery, expectations, friendship, heartbreak, addiction, mental illness, discrimination, jealousy, and the beautiful, intricate details involved in the process of creating and restoring artwork.

Overall, Big Lies in a Small Town is thought-provoking, alluring, and incredibly intriguing and with its rich characterization and impeccably detailed storyline, it’s another stunning example of why Diane Chamberlain is one of my all-time favourite authors.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                

 

 

Thank you to St. Martins Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of 25 novels published in more than twenty languages. Some of her most popular books include Necessary Lies, The Silent Sister, The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, and The Keeper of the Light Trilogy. Diane likes to write complex stories about relationships between men and women, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friends. Although the thematic focus of her books often revolves around family, love, compassion and forgiveness, her stories usually feature a combination of drama, mystery, secrets and intrigue. Diane's background in psychology has given her a keen interest in understanding the way people tick, as well as the background necessary to create her realistic characters.

Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and spent her summers at the Jersey Shore. She also lived for many years in San Diego and northern Virginia before making North Carolina her home.

Diane received her bachelor's and master's degrees in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, Diane worked in hospitals in San Diego and Washington, D.C. before opening a private psychotherapy practice in Alexandria Virginia specializing in adolescents. All the while Diane was writing on the side. Her first book, Private Relations was published in 1989 and it earned the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel.
Diane lives with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie, Cole. She has three stepdaughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. She's currently at work on her next novel.

#BlogTour #BookReview The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey @iona_grey @StMartinsPress #TheGlitteringHour

#BlogTour #BookReview The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey @iona_grey @StMartinsPress #TheGlitteringHour Title: The Glittering Hour

Author: Iona Grey

Published by: Thomas Dunne Books on Dec. 10, 2019

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 480

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 10/10

An unforgettable historical about true love found and lost and the secrets we keep from one another from an award-winning author

Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing. Her life is a whirl of parties and drinking, pursued by the press and staying on just the right side of scandal, all while running from the life her parents would choose for her.

Lawrence Weston is a penniless painter who stumbles into Selina’s orbit one night and can never let her go even while knowing someone of her stature could never end up with someone of his. Except Selina falls hard for Lawrence, envisioning a life of true happiness. But when tragedy strikes, Selina finds herself choosing what’s safe over what’s right.

Spanning two decades and a seismic shift in British history as World War II approaches, Iona Grey’s The Glittering Hour is an epic novel of passion, heartache and loss.


Review:

Mesmerizing, enthralling, and incredibly moving!

The Glittering Hour is set in London and the English countryside during 1925, as well as 1936, and is told from two different perspectives. Selina, a young woman in her prime who often finds herself and her friends gracing the pages of the gossip rags for their outrageous behaviour and antics, and Alice Carew, Selina’s nine-year-old daughter who after being relegated to her grandparents country home while her parents are abroad embarks on a treasure hunt to discover all her mother’s secrets.

The prose is eloquent and vivid. The characters are creative, intelligent, and rebellious. And the plot, including all the subplots, unravel and intertwine into a sweeping saga of life, loss, family, expectations, sacrifice, self-discovery, friendship, heartbreak, romance, forbidden love, and the special bonds shared between a mother and daughter.

Overall, The Glittering Hour is a bittersweet, beautifully expressive, exceptionally affecting story by Grey that illuminates the enduring passion and power of unconditional love and reminds us that life should always be lived to the fullest. It’s immersive, vibrant, and utterly heartwrenching in spots, and is without a doubt one of my favourite reads of the year. 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Iona Grey

Iona Grey has a degree in English Literature and Language from Manchester University, an obsession with history and an enduring fascination with the lives of women in the twentieth century. She lives in the rural North West of England with her husband and three daughters. She is the award-winning author of Letters to the Lost, and her new book The Glittering Hour is on sale October 17 2019 (UK) and December 10, 2019 (US).

#BookReview #BlogTour The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland @under_blue_sky @StMartinsPress

#BookReview #BlogTour The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland @under_blue_sky @StMartinsPress Title: The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae

Author: Stephanie Butland

Published by: St. Martin's Press on Oct. 9, 2019

Genres: Women's Fiction

Pages: 416

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8.5/10

For fans of Josie Silver’s One Day in December, The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is a wholly original, charismatic, and uplifting novel that no reader will soon forget.

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live. She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that—just in time—saved her life. Now, finally, she can be a normal twenty-eight-year-old. She can climb a mountain. Dance. Wait in line all day for tickets to Wimbledon.

But first, she has to put one foot in front of the other. So far, things are as bloody complicated as ever. Her relationship with her mother is at a breaking point and she wants to find her father. Then there’s Lennox, whom Ailsa loved and lost. Will she ever find love again?

Her new heart is a bold heart. She just needs to learn to listen to it. From the hospital to her childhood home, on social media and IRL, Ailsa will embark on a journey about what it means to be, and feel, alive. How do we learn to be brave, to accept defeat, to dare to dream?

From Stephanie Butland, author of The Lost for Words BookshopThe Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae will warm you from the inside out.


Review:

Moving, inspiring, and heartfelt!

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is a pensive, tender novel that takes us into the life of the courageous, optimistic Ailsa Rae who after living a sheltered, timid life due to a congenital heart defect is struggling to recover, adapt, relearn, and become more adventurous after a heart transplant saves her life.

The writing is direct and sincere. The characters are charming, authentic, and amusing. And the plot using an intriguing mixture of narration, letters, newspaper articles, blog posts, and emails is a delightfully witty, bittersweet tale about life, love, loss, family, friendship, self-discovery, happiness, and taking chances.

Overall, The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is a thought-provoking, romantic, touching tale by Butland that does an exceptional job of highlighting the demand, necessity, and importance of organ donation, and has just the right amount of laughs, tears, endearing characters, and heartfelt storyline to be completely absorbing.

 

This book is available now. 

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                             

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Stephanie Butland

STEPHANIE BUTLAND lives with her family near the sea in the North East of England. She writes in a studio at the bottom of her garden, and when she's not writing, she trains people to think more creatively. For fun, she reads, knits, sews, bakes, and spins. She is an occasional performance poet and the author of The Lost for Words Bookshop.

#BookReview This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman @katebateman @smpromance

#BookReview This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman @katebateman @smpromance Title: This Earl of Mine

Author: Kate Bateman

Series: Bow Street Bachelors #1

Published by: St. Martin's Press on Oct. 29, 2019

Genres: Historical Romance

Pages: 336

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 8.5/10

The first book in a new Regency romance series, an heiress and a rogue accidentally end up in a secret marriage of convenience.

In a desperate bid to keep her fortune out of her cousin’s hands, shipping heiress Georgiana Caversteed marries a condemned criminal in Newgate prison. The scoundrel’s first kiss is shockingly heated, but Georgie never expects to see her husband again. Until she spots him across a crowded ballroom. Notorious rogue Benedict Wylde never expected a wife. He was in Newgate undercover, working for Bow Street. To keep their marriage of convenience a secret, Wylde courts Georgie in public, but the more time they spend together, the more their attraction sparks. Could an heiress with the world at her feet find happiness with a penniless rake? Kate Bateman’s This Earl of Mine is a delightful start to the Bow Street Bachelors series, with witty banter, dynamic characters, and swoon-worthy romance.


Review:

Scandalous, seductive, and entertaining!

This Earl is Mine is set in London during 1816 and features the intelligent, wealthy, independent Georgiana Caversteed and the dashingly handsome, womanizer Benedict Wylde as they navigate undeniable attraction, a wedding of convenience with unexpected consequences, and an undercover mission of national security.

The prose is authentic and amusing. The characters are passionate, creative, and mischievous. And the plot is a humorous, mysterious mix of scoundrel behaviour, familial drama, Georgian customs and traditions, desire, yearning, gossip, tricky situations, danger, and romance.

This Earl is Mine is witty, adventurous, engaging, and delightfully steamy. It’s the first book in The Bow Street Bachelors series by Bateman, and if historical romance is a genre you enjoy, then this novel will certainly not disappoint.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following link.

                                          

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Kate Bateman

Kate Bateman, (also writing as K. C. Bateman), is the #1 bestselling author of Regency, Victorian, and Renaissance historical romance. Her Renaissance romp, The Devil To Pay, is a Romance Writer’s of America 2019 RITA® Finalist and her Regency-set A Counterfeit Heart (Secrets & Spies series) won the 2018 Book Buyer’s Best contest for Best Historical Romance.
Kate wrote her first historical romance in response to a $1 bet with her husband who rashly claimed she’d ‘never finish the thing.’ She gleefully proved him wrong. Her books feature her favourite intelligent heroines, (badasses in bodices!) wickedly inappropriate banter, and heroes you want to both strangle and kiss.
When not travelling to exotic locations ‘for research’, Kate leads a not-so-secret double life as a fine art appraiser and on-screen antiques expert for several TV shows in the UK, each of which has up to 2.5 million viewers. Before writing romance, Kate was director and valuer at her own UK Auction House, Batemans in Stamford, Lincolnshire. She currently splits her time between Illinois and her native England and writes despite three inexhaustible children and that husband . . . who still owes her that dollar.

Photograph courtesy of Author's Website.

#BlogTour #BookReview #Excerpt The Military Wife by Laura Trentham @LauraTrentham @StMartinsPress

#BlogTour #BookReview #Excerpt The Military Wife by Laura Trentham @LauraTrentham @StMartinsPress Title: The Military Wife

Author: Laura Trentham

Series: A Heart of a Hero #1

Published by: St. Martin's Griffin on Feb. 5, 2019

Genres: Women's Fiction, General Fiction

Pages: 352

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press, NetGalley

Book Rating: 9/10

An emotionally layered novel about family, loss and what it means to be a military wife.

Harper Lee Wilcox has been marking time in her hometown of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina since her husband, Noah Wilcox’s death, nearly five years earlier. With her son Ben turning five and living at home with her mother, Harper fights a growing restlessness, worried that moving on means leaving the memory of her husband behind.

Her best friend, Allison Teague, is dealing with struggles of her own. Her husband, a former SEAL that served with Noah, was injured while deployed and has come home physically healed but fighting PTSD. With three children under foot and unable to help her husband, Allison is at her wit’s end.

In an effort to reenergize her own life, Harper sees an opportunity to help not only Allison but a network of other military wives eager to support her idea of starting a string of coffee houses close to military bases around the country.

In her pursuit of her dream, Harper crosses paths with Bennett Caldwell, Noah’s best friend and SEAL brother. A man who has a promise to keep, entangling their lives in ways neither of them can foresee. As her business grows so does an unexpected relationship with Bennett. Can Harper let go of her grief and build a future with Bennett even as the man they both loved haunts their pasts?


Review:

Absorbing, moving, and incredibly uplifting!

The Military Wife is a tender, heartfelt story that delves not only into the emotional and psychological struggles and hardships of being part of the military and the effects they have on both the enlisted themselves and their loved ones, but also the patience, understanding, support, and trust required to maintain a relationship and individuality under those conditions.

The prose is effortless and well turned. The characters are scarred, genuine, and endearing. And the story is a mesmerizing tale about life, loss, love, forgiveness, grief, familial drama, friendship, community, courage, resilience, and moving on.

Overall, The Military Wife is a beautifully written tale with a lovely mix of hope, grit, emotion, and romance that exceeded my expectations. It’s an impressive start to the “A Heart of a Hero” series and I can’t wait for the publication of book #2.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

EXCERPT:

Chapter 1

Present Day

Winters in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, were temperamental. The sunshine and a temperate southerly breeze that started a day could turn into biting, salt-tinged snow flurries by afternoon. But one thing Harper Lee Wilcox could count on was that winter along the Outer Banks was quiet.

The bustle and hum and weekly rotation of tourists that marked the summer months settled into a winter melancholy that Harper enjoyed. Well, perhaps not enjoyed in the traditional sense . . . more like she enjoyed surrendering to the melancholy. In fact, her mother may have accused her of wallowing in it once or twice or a hundred times.

In the winter, she didn’t have to smile and pretend her life was great. Not that it was bad. Lots of people had it worse. Much worse. In fact, parts of her life were fabulous. Almost five, her son was happy and healthy and smart. Her mother’s strength and support were unwavering and had bolstered her through the worst time of her life. Her friends were amazing.

That was the real issue. In the craziness of the summer season, she forgot to be sad. Her husband, Noah, had been gone five years; the same amount of time they’d been married. Soon the years separating them would outnumber the years they’d been together. The thought was sobering and only intensified the need to keep a sacred place in her heart waiting and empty. Her secret memorial.

She parked the sensible sedan Noah had bought her soon after they married under her childhood home. Even though they were inland, the stilts were a common architectural feature up and down the Outer Banks.

Juggling her laptop and purse, Harper pushed open the front door and stacked her things to the side. “I’m home!”

A little body careened down the steps and crashed into her legs. She returned the ferocious hug. Her pregnancy was the only thing that had kept her going those first weeks after she’d opened her front door to the Navy chaplain.

“How was preschool? Did you like the pasta salad I packed for your lunch?”

“It made me toot and everyone laughed, even the girls. Can you pack it for me again tomorrow?”

“Ben! You shouldn’t wantto toot.” Laughter ruined the admonishing tone she was going for.

As Harper’s mom said time and again, the kid was a hoot and a half. He might have Harper’s brown wavy hair, but he had Noah’s spirit and mannerisms and humor. Ben approached everything with an optimism Harper had lost or perhaps had never been gifted with from the start. He was a blessing Harper sometimes wondered if she deserved.

“Where’s Yaya?” She ruffled his unruly hair.

Of course, her mom had picked an unconventional name. “Grandmother” was too old-fashioned and pedestrian. Since she’d retired from the library, she had cast off any semblance of normalcy and embraced an inner spirit that was a throwback to 1960s bra burners and Woodstock.

“Upstairs painting.” Ben slipped his hand into Harper’s and tugged her toward the kitchen. Bright red and orange and blue paint smeared the back of his hand and arm like a rainbow. At least, her mom had put him in old clothes. “Yaya gave me my own canvas and let me paint whatever I wanted.”

“And what did you paint?” Harper prayed it wasn’t a nude study, which was the homework assignment from her mom’s community college class.

“I drew Daddy in heaven. I used allthe colors.” The matter-of-factness of his tone clawed at her heart.

No child should have to grow up only knowing their father through pictures and stories. Her own father had been absent because of divorce and disinterest. He’d sent his court-ordered child support payments regularly until she turned eighteen but rarely visited or shown any curiosity about her. It had hurt until teenaged resentment scarred over the wound.

Noah would have made a great dad. The best. That he never got the chance piled more regrets and what-ifs onto her winter inspired melancholy.

“I’m sure he would have loved your painting.” Luckily, Ben didn’t notice her choked-up reply.

He went to the cabinet, pulled out white bread and crunchy peanut butter, and proceeded to make two sandwiches. It was their afternoon routine. Someday he would outgrow it. Outgrow her and become a man like his daddy.

She poured him a glass of milk, and they ate their sandwiches, talking about how the rest of his day went—outside of his epic toots. His world was small and safe and she wanted to keep it that way for as long as possible.

Her mom breezed into the kitchen, her still-thick but graying brown hair twisted into a messy bun, a thin paintbrush holding it in place. Slim and attractive, she wore paint-splattered jeans and a long-sleeve T-shirt that read: I make AARP look good. Harper pinched her lips together to stifle a grin.

“How’s your assignment coming along?” Harper asked.

“I’m having a hard time with proportions. It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure my man’s you-know-what shouldn’t hang down to his kneecaps.”

Harper shot a glance toward Ben, who had moved to the floor of the den to play with LEGOs. As crazy as her mom drove her, she was and would always be Harper’s rock. The irony wasn’t lost on her. As hard as she’d worked to get out of Kitty Hawk and out of her mother’s reach when she was young, she’d never regretted coming home.

“It’s been a while for me, too, but that’s not how I remember them, either.”

“A pity for us both.” Her mother pulled a jar of olives out of the fridge and proceeded to make martinis—shaken, not stirred. She raised her eyebrows, and Harper answered the unspoken question with a nod. Her mom poured and plopped an extra olive in Harper’s. “How was work?”

Harper handled bookkeeping and taxes for a number of local businesses, but a good number closed up shop in the winter. “Routine. Quiet.”

“Exactly like your life.”

Harper sputtered on her first sip. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I hate seeing you mope around all winter.” Her mom poked at the olive in her drink with a toothpick and looked toward Ben, dropping her voice. “He’s been gone five years, sweetheart, and you haven’t gone on so much as a date.”

“That’s not true. I went to lunch with Whit a few weeks ago.”

“He was trying to sell you life insurance. Doesn’t count.”

Harper huffed and covered her discomfort by taking another sip. “What about you? You never date.”

 “True, but your father ruined me on relationships. I have trust issues. You and Noah, on the other hand, seemed to get along fine. Or am I wrong?”

“You’re not.” Another sip of the martini grew the tingly warmth in her stomach. Their marriage hadn’t been completely without conflict, but what relationship was? As she looked back on their fights, they seemed juvenile and unimportant. It was easier to remember the good times. And there were so many to choose from.

She touched the empty finger on her left hand. The ring occupied her jewelry box and had for three years. But, occasionally, her finger would ache with phantom pains as if it were missing a vital organ.

“You’re young. Find another good man. Or forget the man, just find something you’re passionate about.”

“I’m happy right where I am.” Harper hammered up her defenses as if preparing for a hurricane.

“Don’t mistake comfort for happiness. You’re comfortable here. Too comfortable. But you’re not happy.”

 “God, Mom, why are you Dr. Phil–ing me all of sudden? Are you wanting me and Ben to move out or something?” Her voice sailed high and Ben looked over at them, his eyes wide, clutching his LEGO robot so tightly its head fell off.

“You and Ben are welcome to stay and take care of me in my old age.” Her mom shifted toward the den. “You hear that, honey? I want you to stay forever.”

Ben gave them an eye-crinkling smile that reminded her so much of Noah her insides squirmed, and she killed the rest of her drink. She was so careful not to show how lonely she sometimes felt in front of Ben.

“Harper.” Her mom’s chiding tone reminded her so much of her own childhood, she glanced up instinctively. Her mom took her hand, and her hazel eyes matched the ones that stared back at Harper in the mirror. “You’re marking time in Kitty Hawk. Find something that excites you again. Don’t let Ben—or Noah— be your excuse.”

Harper looked to her son. His chubby fingers fit the small LEGO pieces together turning the robot into a house. She had built her life brick by brick adding pieces and colors, expanding, taking pride, until one horrible day she’d stopped. Maybe her mom was right. Was it time to build something new?

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Laura Trentham

LAURA TRENTHAM is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She is a member of RWA, and has been a finalist multiple times in the Golden Heart competition. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.

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