A MONSTER LIKE ME by Pamela Sparkman

Heart of Darkness series #2

HELLO STRANGER by Lisa Kleypas

The Ravenels series #4

THE BUTTERFLY PROJECT by Emma Scott

Companion to the Full Tilt series

PLAYING FOR KEEPS by Jill Shalvis

Heartbreaker Bay series #7

UNWRITTEN by Jen Frederick

Woodlands series #5

Cross My Heart by L.H. Cosway

Hearts series #5.75

MOONSHADOW by Thea Harrison

Moonshadow series #1

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Review: The Earl Takes a Fancy by Lorraine Heath


New York Times bestselling author Lorraine Heath pens another richly satisfying romance in her Sins for all Seasons series.


THE EARL TAKES A FANCY by LORRAINE HEATH
Series: Sins for All Seasons #5
Publication date: March 31, 2020
Published by: Avon Romance
Genre: historical romance

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SYNOPSIS

She’s looking for a nobleman to wed…

Though born out of wedlock, Fancy Trewlove is determined to fulfill her mother’s wish that she marry into nobility. Fancy’s keen intellect and finishing school manners make her the perfect wife for any gentleman—if he’s willing to overlook her scandalous lineage. But Fancy’s plans are thrown into chaos when an intriguing commoner begins visiting her bookshop—and she finds herself unable to stop thinking about him.

He’s looking to escape his title…

Widowed just a year ago, the reclusive Matthew Sommersby, Earl of Rosemont, has been besieged by women hoping to become his next wife. Desperate for anonymity, he sheds Society life to search for the peace that eludes him. Fancy’s shop is his one refuge, until the night their passion erupts into a kiss that nearly leads to her ruin—and leaves both longing for much more.

Together, they discover an unlikely love…

As Fancy finds herself torn between her family’s expectations and her growing feelings for Matthew, secrets are exposed—secrets that force Fancy to question if she can trust her heart’s desire...

Purchase your copy now!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lorraine Heath has always had a soft spot for emotional love stories. No doubt because growing up, watching movies with her mom, she was taught that the best movies "won't half make you cry."​​​​​​​

She is the daughter of a British beauty (her mom won second place in a beauty contest sponsored by Max Factor® during which she received a kiss from Caesar Romero, (the Joker on the original Batman TV series) and a Texan who was stationed at Bovingdon while serving in the air force. Lorraine was born in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, but soon after moved to Texas. Her "dual" nationality has given her a love for all things British and Texan, and she enjoys weaving both heritages through her stories.

When she received her BA degree in psychology from the University of Texas, she had no idea she had gained a foundation that would help her to create believable characters—characters that are often described as “real people.” She began her career writing training manuals and computer code for the IRS, but something was always missing. When she read a romance novel, she became not only hooked on the genre, but quickly realized what her writing lacked: rebels, scoundrels, and rogues. She's been writing about them ever since.

Her work has been recognized with numerous industry awards including RWA's RITA®. Her novels have appeared on bestseller lists, including ​​​​​​​USA TODAY and the New York Times.
The author of more than 60 novels, she writes historical and contemporary romance for adults and historical romance for teen readers.

Under the names Rachel Hawthorne and Jade Parker, she writes popular contemporary, historical, and paranormal r​​omance for teens readers. She also writes young adult novels with her son under the name J. A. London. 
Follow her:
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REVIEW

The Earl Takes a Fancy (Sins for All Seasons, #5)The Earl Takes a Fancy by Lorraine Heath
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The Earl Takes a Fancy is about the youngest sibling in the Trewlove family, Fancy. She was probably the one I was most looking forward to. I loved the fact that she's a book lover who runs a bookstore. Fancy is sweet, if a little naive. She's also a romantic, but looks at her upcoming season pragmatically. She could have easily have been spoiled, being given so many more advantages than her brothers and sisters, but she chooses to help give back through educating the illiterate.

    My fondest memories are of each of them reading to me, when I was quite small. It was magical. So, I wanted to open a bookshop in order to surround myself with the stories that my brothers and sister had loved enough to share with me. When I see the spines lined up on a shelf, it makes me happy. I’m happier still when someone takes a book home with them.

Fancy is a people pleaser, which is probably her biggest fault. Her family has been grooming her for her entire life to eventually marry into the nobility and have a "fancy life." She's been taught social niceties, expectations, and a substantial dowry to tempt the upper class. Now she feels as if she owes it to everyone to enter the season and make their dreams a reality. Never mind that she's perfectly content running her bookshop and would happily become a spinster who works and supports herself. Of course it was unheard of for women to own their own property back then, impossible in fact. So she sets her mind to giving everything up very soon and tries to cherish the time that she has left.

Matthew, the Earl of Rosemont, has become a bitter recluse after being trapped into marriage by a deceitful woman. After she passed away, he had no interest in entering back into society again, and avoids social gatherings at all costs. He doesn't care to live in his very comfortable estates either, but prefers to be incognito in Fancy's neighborhood at a more humble residence. There, he isn't Rosemont, the grieving widower being chased by greedy social climbers. He can enjoy a modicum of peace and privacy as a simple Mr. Sommersby. After meeting Fancy at her bookshop, he's quickly charmed by her, but isn't able to trust after being manipulated so easily before.

    His thoughts came to an abrupt halt. He was not going to be enticed into falling into her web of deceit by her passion for books or her ability to create a shop that invited one in and offered comfort as welcoming as a warm blanket on a chilly evening. Or her large eyes or her pretty face or her kindness to a pub serving girl or her welcoming of a stranger.

There were a lot of really sweet scenes between the two of them as they got to know one another. Matthew heart and mind are in constant battle as he slips deeper and deeper under her spell. He anonymously gives her a priceless gift, they fly a kite together, volunteer teaching together, and he escorts her to a "scandalous" play in the seedy part of town. When she starts to attend balls after the season starts, his jealousy flares up and there are several nocturnal visits between the two of them. This is where is really started to feel that their interactions were pretty unrealistic for the time. She's a nineteen-year old virgin entering her first season on a husband hunt and her family lets her live alone and gallivant anywhere with anyone all hours of the day? It did start to bother me as the book wore on somewhat.

The biggest issue for me however, was the main conflict at the end. It really detracted from my rating because up until that point, I was really enjoying the progression of their romance. Matthew was being deceptive with her by not telling her his true identity, but I didn't get upset by it because he knew she was looking for a titled husband. This is a major sore point for him, and he wanted to be sure that she loved the man rather than the title. He was starving for true affection.

At the very first moment his trust in her was tested, he failed big time. He immediately jumped to the wrong conclusion despite falling hard for her and witnessing her true character. Through the entire book, he never mistreated her based on his late wife's actions. Until then. It was really maddening, especially the fact that he never came to his senses and realized on his own that he had been in the wrong. Instead, a vague acquaintance of Fancy's was the one to knock some sense into him. It all resolves in a rushed manner that wasn't very satisfactory, though I really loved how things conclude in the epilogue.

    He could gaze into those brown depths for the remainder of his life and never fully uncover all the various facets to her.

The next in the series is titled Beauty tempts the Beast, and it's scheduled for publication September 2020. I look forward to seeing how the last Trewlove finds his HEA.


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Friday, March 27, 2020

Teaser Art Reveal: The Cursed Crown by May Sage

excerpt 2 graphic

May Sage & Alexi Blake will be revealing art from The Cursed Crown every month leading up to the December 1st release! Today’s art comes from Salome Totladze! Check it and an exciting new excerpt out now!

CursedCrown_2_2_final


The Cursed Crown by May Sage & Alexi Blake 

Genre: Epic Fantasy 
Illustrator: Gabriela Dea Julia
Typography by Sylvia Frost from The Book Brander Boutique
Release Date: 1st of December

About The Cursed Crown:

My lips hitch up an inch as the hulking, slender man bends down to whisper in my ear. “A divided kingdom without a leader is weak. You will fall. You will fail. You will all die without my kindness, little girl.” He expects me to falter, shiver, and drop my gaze to the ground like the flock of gentry buzzing around him. My eyes widen in feigned dismay. “Kindness? Why did no one think to tell me you had any?” I have to allow him that one concession: Rydekar is fun to tease. He doesn’t even smile. I don’t think anyone has taunted him. “I have none. You will beg nonetheless.” I just may, in his dreams. And in my nightmares. 

No one was ever born less suited to ruling than Rissa, the thorn of the seelie realm—a half-fae so wild she’s spent the better part of a hundred years in the woods. For all her flaws, she’s the last of the high court bloodline, and the southern king seems to think that’s reason enough to slap a crown on her feathered head. He needs her to unify the seelie forces. She needs him to forget about that nonsense. In an effort to aid her people without condemning herself to a lifetime of misery, she sets off on a journey to find the one person with a stronger claim to the throne than hers: the cursed prince. Sealed in the mountains of the Wilderness, under many spells, the heir of the first seelie queen is the only royal strong enough to protect the fae lands from their immortal invaders. Surviving the untamed tribes and awakening a thousand-year-old prince seem a lot easier than ruling an entire kingdom where everyone hates her very nature. And her choices won’t come without consequences.

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TheCursedCrown_specialpromo

Exclusive Excerpt:

Long have I heard tales of the cursed prince. I’ve seen dozens of paintings and statues of his effigy. None prepared me for him. Tharsen is said to be beautiful, when he is exquisite. They tell us of his luminous aura, when it’s brighter than that of a burning star. He is beyond gods and monsters, beyond fae and man. I’ve never felt so strong a draw to anyone—anyone at all. It’s blinding and painful, claiming a piece of me. Capturing my mind. We’re kin, he and I. I am the daughter of his brother’s great-great-great-great-grandchild, I think. Yet I feel like I am an insignificant sparrow and he, the fiercest of the beasts soaring the sky. Barely the same species. He’s everything I’m not. The dream to my nightmare. One only needs to look at him to fall under his spell. Yes, he’ll do. He’ll rule all of Denarhelm, and all will be only too pleased to bow at his feet. They’ll crawl to him and beg to be permitted to serve. I can’t deny that the thought terrifies me. This creature could bring an end to the free will of the folk, with no more than a glance. I dare to caress the icy wall encasing him. Then I step back, startled. It feels… Alive. His pulse beating so hard I can sense it through the ice. That shouldn’t be possible, but I left the realm of possibility the moment I entered his eternal prison. He’s a myth come alive. A painfully striking prince under a curse. I suppose that makes me the hero of the story. The brave princess who rescues him, so that he may rule and I may return to the shadows, where I belong. My story ends where his begins. I will return to the solitary woods I’ve claimed as my own, and let the kings of the world play games of war. Just as I wanted. Everything is within my grasp. So why am I hesitating?

Stay up to date on teasers and teasers with The Curse Crown Facebook Group!


About May Sage:

May Sage is a USA Today Bestselling romance writer dabbling in different genres, although the readers who follow every series know they’re all related. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time with her German Shepherd, her two Savannahs, and her black rescue cat, in England. She loves reading, ballet, running, and cake. Mostly, cake. Follow her on Facebook or join her newsletter for the latest update.

Connect with May Sage:

Website | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram

Connect with Alexi Blake:

Facebook | Twitter

Blog Tour with Giveaway and Excerpt: Smooth Talking Cowboy by Jennifer Ryan



Return to Montana as a tough-talking cowboy meets his match in Jennifer Ryan’s newest Wild Rose Ranch novel.
Ex-Army Ranger Drake McGrath has come home to Montana, locked in a battle with himself, lashing out at those who love him most—driving away his ex-fiancĂ©e and alienating his family. But Adria Holloway sees beyond Drake’s tough talk to the raw pain beneath.                                                                                                                                                           
Raised with her twin sister Juliana by a neglectful mother at the Wild Rose Ranch, Adria also struggles to put the trauma from her past behind her. To help them both, she makes Drake a shocking deal—a no-strings relationship that’ll help them both face down their demons. Maybe it’s a way for her and Drake to heal each other, one sizzling night at a time…
The heat between them is instant and incredible. But the biggest challenges are yet to come. With Juliana battling her addiction and Drake working on his issues, Adria realizes she can’t save everyone. But Drake and Adria discover love can survive tragedy and loss—and they can have the life they never thought possible if they just hold on.



About the Book:

TOUGH TALKING COWBOY by JENNIFER RYAN

Series: Wild Rose Ranch
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: March 31, 2020


Purchase Your Copy Today!
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Add It To Your Bookshelf!
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TOUGH TALKING COWBOY
A Wild Rose Ranch Novel
© 2020 Jennifer Ryan

“We saw each other in the driveway. I smiled at you. I wanted to meet you. You stared at me. You didn’t want your brother to touch me even in a friendly way.” Her eyes went wide. “You want me.”

Feeling surly, he lashed out. “Conceited much?”

“Oh, I think I’m right on the money. You wanted me and came up here and destroyed my stuff because you didn’t think I’d want you because of a few scars and a bad temper.”

He raked his fingers over his head. “That’s not it.”

“Yes, it is. Melanie didn’t want you, so you think no one will.”

He tried to hold it together, but his anger flashed. “She tried. I tried. But I couldn’t. I can’t. Not anymore. So what good was I to her? I’m no use to any woman now?”

Adria shook her head. “You’re kidding, right?”

He held his hands out wide. “Does it look like I’m kidding?”

She braced her hands on the back of the sofa, leaned in, locked eyes with him and said the unexpected again. “There is nothing, and I mean nothing, wrong with you.”

“How the hell would you know?”

“Because I’m the one you held wrapped in your arms with your thick, rigid, I-want-to-fuck-her dick pressed against my ass for nearly an hour.”

He went still. “You’re lying.”

“Why would I lie about something like that?”

Dr. Porter chimed in again. “Maybe one of you should explain what really happened.”

Adria ignored the doctor, just like he did. She got up from the couch and walked around it to face him.

He stared down at her, everything inside him wanting her to be right, for it to be true.

Hope rose up inside him.

“I don’t know what happened between you and Melanie. Maybe the way she looked at you, or didn’t look at you with a longing and need to be with you, turned you off.”

He started thinking out loud. “I thought because she loved me, she wouldn’t care about the scars and that I couldn’t move the way I used to. We’d figure it out.”

“But she hesitated. The moment felt like you needed to show her that you could be the man she remembered. But overwhelmed by what happened to you and trying to fix something in your life and make it work, you couldn’t. Too much pressure. Too much riding on it. Her not showing you the compassion and patience you needed to quiet the nightmares and fall into her. She couldn’t see past the damage to the man she loved. You took her rejection and turned it into every woman rejecting you. You convinced yourself you couldn’t be with any woman, that every woman would only ever see the bad, the damage. You let your insecurity, guilt, and anger win.”

“I don’t know why you need me,” Dr. Porter interjected, startling both of them as they stared at each other. “Sounds like she’s got you pegged. Listen to her, Drake.”

“Just because it worked once, doesn’t mean it will work again.”

“You’ll never know unless you try,” she challenged.

His mind went blank for a second. She didn’t mean with her. She meant for him to give it a go by himself. Well, he’d tried. And failed. And gotten more pissed and despondent about it, because without sex, what the fuck was the point of surviving all he had if he couldn’t be with a woman, make a life and have a family with her.

That’s what he’d always wanted. But right now, he’d take a willing woman who’d give him a chance to see if he could get it up again.

“Juliana once said that my sisters and I carry around our baggage like an apology we owe the world. I’ve been thinking about that lately. I was with a couple of guys, but I could never really get past my own inhibitions and remembering what happened to me.

“My mother is a prostitute. She loves sex and doesn’t care who knows it. I’d like to stop thinking men will believe I’m like her if I just have fun and enjoy it.”

“Uh…” He really didn’t know what to say to that, except, “Shouldn’t everyone enjoy sex.”

“Exactly. But I get hung up on her past, my past, and get it all in my head that I’m doing something wrong because that despicable man made me do things that made me feel icky. I knew it was wrong and I did it anyway because I needed to protect my sister.” She rubbed her hands up and down her arms. “We have that in common: trying to protect everyone around us and scarring ourselves in the process. So if you’re willing to try, so am I.”

His fucked up brain did not compute. “What are you saying?”

“Maybe we can face down our demons together. No strings attached. No expectations. Judgement-free sex. I’ll show you, you’re not impotent, and maybe you can help me let go and enjoy myself.”

The idea appealed a lot, but they didn’t know each other well, and the last thing he wanted to do was hurt her feelings or disappoint her. “You’re serious?”

“How long do you want to go without knowing if you really can or can’t have sex? How long will you deny yourself that pleasure? How many women will you let get away because you think you can’t be with them?”

He tried to find a rational reason why this was a bad idea when everything inside him wanted to try. But he didn’t want to use her like that. “You’re my sister’s friend and business partner.”

“You guys, this might not be such a good idea.” They’d completely forgotten about Dr. Porter.

Drake wished he’d shut up because the more Drake thought about it, he wanted to do it. Or at least try. And he had to admit, he felt a stirring inside him he hadn’t felt in a long time.

Anticipation. Need. Hunger. They all started to wake up inside him.

Adria walked back to the coffee table and held up the laptop and stared at Dr. Porter. “Talk therapy is good and all, but I think what we both need is a little sex therapy. And you’re not invited.” She closed the laptop lid on whatever Dr. Porter’s reply might have been.

Adria held Drake’s gaze. Mind made up, she didn’t back down. “How long should I go without knowing if I can let go, feel like a whole woman, and find satisfaction with a man? I deserve to feel wanted and needed and be okay with that, don’t I?”

He nodded because he’d always made sure the woman he was with enjoyed it as much as he did.

“Whatever and whoever we are outside this cabin makes no difference. In here, you and me, we’ll give each other what we’ve both been missing.”

Drake still hesitated. “Don’t get me wrong, I want to, but I’m not sure how this will go between us. We barely know each other.”

That seemed like it should have been her line.

“I don’t need you to love me, Drake, I just want you to want me. It seems like something about me appealed to you, enough that when you held me, your body responded.”

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of TOUGH TALKING COWBOY by Jennifer Ryan, we're giving away a Wild Rose Ranch hardcover set to one lucky winner!

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a hardcover set of Dirty Little Secret, Restless Rancher, and Tough Talking Cowboy by Jennifer Ryan. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Books.  Giveaway ends 5/31/2020 @ 11:59pm EST. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!


About the Author


NY Times & USA Today bestselling author JENNIFER RYAN writes suspenseful contemporary romances about everyday people who do extraordinary things. Her deeply emotional love stories are filled with high stakes and higher drama, love, family, friendship, and the happily-ever-after we all hope to find. Jennifer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children. When she finally leaves those fictional worlds, you’ll find her in the garden, playing in the dirt and daydreaming about people who live only in her head, until she puts them on paper. For information about her upcoming releases, sign up for her newsletter: www.jennifer-ryan.com/newsletter





Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Review: What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter


Can a love triangle have only two people in it? Online, it canbut in the real world, its more complicated. In this debut novel thats perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Morgan Matson, Marisa Kanter hilariously and poignantly explores what happens when internet friends turn into IRL crushes.


WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU by MARISA KANTER
Series: Standalone
Publication date: April 7, 2020
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA romance

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Synopsis

Is it still a love triangle if there are only two people in it?

There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.

He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…

Except who she really is.

Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.

That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.

Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.

If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.


Praise For What I Like About You



"Heartwarming, endearing, and sure to leave you swooning, What I Like About You shines with authentic characters you will absolutely fall in love with. This story is as sweet as the cupcakes you’ll be craving by the end!"
– Rachael Lippincott, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Five Feet Apart

"With a charming, modern teen voice and a cast of characters I refuse to believe aren't real people, this debut explores the connections we make online and IRL. A love letter to storytelling, fandom, and all kinds of friendships, I'm still hugging What I Like About You tightly to my chest."
– Rachel Lynn Solomon, author of You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone

"This book is like a cupcake - delicious and to be devoured in one sitting."
– Laura Silverman, author of Girl Out of Water and You Asked for Perfect

"We fell in love at first DM with this delightfully readable debut. Equal parts clever contemporary romance and celebration of the joys of reading and connecting with people regardless of distance or medium, What I Like About You is what we love about YA."
– Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, authors of If I’m Being Honest

"What I Like About You is real, relatable, and as sweet as a One True Pastry cupcake. Marisa Kanter's voice will resonate with readers. I couldn't put this one down!"
– Gloria Chao, author of American Panda and Our Wayward Fate

"WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU is utterly unputdownable and completely enchanting. Along with fantastic Jewish representation, Kanter's debut is an ode to fandoms, teen readers, and the friendships we make through our communities, on and offline. So fun, so relatable, I was rooting for Halle and Nash the whole time."
– Katherine Locke, award-winning author of THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON and co-editor of IT'S A WHOLE SPIEL

"Cupcake cute and Belle-brainy. Fans of Miranda Kenneally and Jenny Han will like Kanter’s smart (and a little bit awkward) main character whose romance is based on more than the physical...but also the physical"
– School Library Journal

"With humor and compassion, Kanter’s debut is fun to read...Kudos to Kanter for featuring Jewish teens and telling a sweet story that also examines the blurring of online and real lives."
 – Booklist


Purchase here:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marisa Kanter has worked in publicity for major publishers and covered YA books for MTV. Currently, she works in sales, on the distribution side of the publishing industry. She can often be found searching for the best iced chai in NYC, or reading on the 3 train. What I Like About You is her first novel. Follow her at marisakanter.com and on Twitter @marisakanter

What I Like About YouWhat I Like About You by Marisa Kanter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you liked Tweet Cute by Emma Lord, you just found your next YA fix. I was immediately drawn to this book because the heroine is a book blogger. She also suffers from social anxiety, so she's more than a little awkward in social situations when she's not online. Nerdy/shy characters are my jam, so obviously this book was kind of made for me. While I enjoyed how relatable Halle was in the blogging aspects of her character, she certainly wasn't without her faults. This is a young teen filled with insecurities and fear, she's dealing with grief over the recent loss of her beloved grandmother. I'm not going to lie, I did get impatient with her inability to be honest with everyone in her life, but saying that, it came from a realistic place.

Halle, or Kels as she's known online, has just moved in with her grandfather temporarily for her senior year of high school. She's used to a nomadic upbringing, traveling with her parents to remote locations for the production of their documentaries. The loss of her grandmother is hitting her hard, however, and she needs to put down roots with her brother. Up until this point, the most exciting thing she thought about herself was her online presence running One True Pastry. She joined the love of baking with books, and her following has grown into the six figures. As Kels, she can use her new identity to be the person she wishes she could be in person. Someone who isn't afraid in large crowds, or uncertain how to act when forging new relationships with people. Then her safety net was ripped away from her when she suddenly came face to face with her online best friend, Nash. In her panic that her real life personality will not match up with his expectations, she bungles everything. Nash has no idea that the new girl in town is none other than Kels.

There's quite a bit of a yo-yo effect in how Halle treats Nash after he introduces her to his friends. She verges from shyly trying to open up to him to being downright rude in order to push him away. Just when they start to get a little bit close, it scares her. Her two "lives" will surely crash spectacularly, and the longer she keeps quiet the worse the end result will be. She can't help but gravitate towards him though, and she starts to realize that even Nash had been keeping private and personal information from her online. She wasn't the only one using the distance as a protective barrier. He was starting to open up to her and reveal a very vulnerable side of himself, but there was one last thing that was standing between them. Herself. If the boy you like thinks he's in love with your alter ego, things get really complicated.

    Kels, who always knows what to say, who gets cited in major publications and thrown in the middle of YA scandals, who manages to run One True Pastry like it’s a full-time job. I know he likes her, but she’s the branded version of me—she’s not me. Could Nash like this version of me? I actually want to find out.

The thing that bothered me the most was the amount of time Halle continued her charade, and the extent she went to keep it going. She "ghosted" her online friends, which really hurt them a lot. She allowed Nash to start a romantic relationship with her based on a web of lies. After a certain amount of time, you're only waiting for the dreaded moment of truth to happen because you know eventually everything will blow up in her face. In the end, she had a lot of soul searching to do. Not only about finding the courage to be her most authentic self, but to make amends to the people who cared about her.

    I’m always so hung up on saying the right thing, on stringing the perfect sentence together. Maybe it’s okay for my words to come out messy and wrong sometimes, as long as they’re true.

Despite my impatience in parts with the heroine, I thought the story showed a realistic perspective of a teen blogger. Marisa Kanter's experience in publishing publicity lent an obvious air of authenticity that I appreciated. Another big plus was Nash. That boy was the absolute sweetest and so easy to love from first meet. He proved again and again what a big heart he had, not only to Halle, but his friends and family. Nash genuinely cared, and he had his own issues with his parents weighing on him at the same time. The end was cute, if a bit abrupt. I actually kept trying to flip further after reading the last page because it didn't feel complete. An epilogue would have been really welcome, but I liked how things resolved nonetheless.

I would definitely read more from this debut author, and I'm looking forward to seeing what she'll offer us next.


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Blog Tour with Excerpt: Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa


Master storyteller Julie Kagawa concludes the enthralling journey into the heart of the fantastical Empire of Iwagoto in the third book of the Shadow of the Fox trilogy. As darkness rises and chaos reigns, a fierce kitsune and her shadowy protector will face down the greatest evil of all. A captivating fantasy for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Sarah J. Maas and Marie Lu.


NIGHT OF THE DRAGON by JULIE KAGAWA
Series: Shadow of the Fox #3
Publication date: March 31, 2020
Published by: Harlequin
Genre: fantasy, YA

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SYNOPSIS

All is lost.

To save everyone she loves from imminent death, kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko gave up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must make one desperate final effort to stop the Master of Demons from using the scroll to call the Great Kami Dragon and make the wish that will plunge the empire into chaos.

Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil—the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko to stop a madman, and to separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.

But even with their combined skills and powers, this unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realized existed…until now.


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EXCERPT

Excerpted from Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa. © 2020 by Julie Kagawa, used with permission by Inkyard Press.

One thousand years ago

In the long years of his existence, the number of times he had been summoned from Jigoku could be counted on one claw.

Other demon lords had been summoned before. Yaburama. Akumu. The oni lords were too powerful not to have some en-terprising blood mage attempt a contract with them, though such rituals often ended badly for the arrogant human who thought they could enslave an oni lord. The four of them were, admit-tedly, a proud bunch, and did not take kindly to an insignificant mortal attempting to bend them to their will. They humored the blood mage long enough to hear what the human was offering, and if it did not interest them, or if the mage foolishly tried to assert dominance, they would rip him apart and do what they pleased in the mortal realm until they were sent back to Jigoku.

It had always amused Hakaimono when a mortal tried to summon him. Especially that moment when they gazed upon him for the first time and fully realized what they had done.

Narrowing his eyes, he gazed around, peering through smoke and ignoring the brief feeling of vertigo that always accompanied being dragged from Jigoku into the mortal realm. A growl of murderous annoyance rumbled in his throat. Already, he was not in the best of moods. Akumu had been scheming again, trying to weaken Hakaimono’s forces behind his back, and he had been on his way to deal with the devious Third General when black fire had erupted over his skin, words of blood magic echoing in his head as he abruptly found himself in the mortal realm. Now he stood in the center of a ruin, broken walls and shattered pillars surrounding him, the scent of death thick on the air, and contemplated squeezing the head of the mage responsible until it popped like an egg in his claws.

The stones under his feet were sticky and had a sweet, coppery smell he recognized instantly. Lines of blood had been painted over the ground in a familiar circle, with words and sigils of power woven in a complex pattern. A summoning circle, and a powerful one at that. Whomever the blood mage was, they had done their research. Though it wouldn’t save them in the end.

“Hakaimono.”

The First Oni looked down. A woman stood at the edge of the blood circle, black robes and long hair seeming to blend into the shadows. She clutched a knife in slender fingers, her pale arm covered in red to the elbow.

A chuckle escaped him. “Well, don’t I feel important,” he said, crouching down to better see the woman. She gazed coolly back. “Summoned by the immortal shadow herself. I am curious, however.” He raised a talon, watching the human over curved black claws the length of her arm. “If you rip off an immortal’s head, do you think it will die?”

“You will not kill me, First Oni.” The woman’s voice was neither amused nor afraid, though the certainty in it made him smirk. “I am not so foolish as to attempt a binding, nor will I ask much of you. I have but a single request, and after that, you are free to do what you like.”

“Oh?” Hakaimono chuckled, but admittedly, he was curi-ous. Only the very desperate, foolish or powerful called on one of the four oni generals, and only for the most ambitious of re-quests. Like destroying a castle, or wiping out an entire gen-eration. The risk was too great for anything less. “Let’s hear it then, human,” he prompted. “What is this one task you would have me undertake?”

“I need you to bring me the Dragon scroll.”

Hakaimono sighed. Of course. He had forgotten it was that time again in the mortal world. When the great scaly one him-self would rise to grant a wish to an insignificant, short-lived human. “You disappoint me, mortal,” he growled. “I am not a hound that fetches upon command. You could have gotten the amanjaku to retrieve the scroll for you, or one of your own human warrior pets. I have been called on to slaughter armies and tear strongholds to dust. Fetching the Dragon’s Prayer is not worth my time.”

“This is different.” The woman’s voice was as unruffled as ever. If she knew she was in danger of being ripped apart and devoured by an annoyed First Oni, she did not show it. “I have already sent my strongest champion to retrieve the scroll, but I fear he has betrayed me. He wants the power of the Dragon scroll for himself, and I cannot let the Wish slip away now. You must find him and take back the scroll.”

“One human?” Hakaimono curled a lip. “Not much of a challenge.” 

“You do not know Kage Hirotaka,” the woman said quietly. “He is the greatest warrior the Empire of Iwagoto has seen in a thousand years. He is kami-touched, but also trained in the way of the samurai. His talents with both blade and magic are so great, the emperor himself praised his achievements. He has killed men, yokai and demons in waves, and will be perhaps the single greatest opponent you have ever faced, Hakaimono.” “I very seriously doubt that.” The First Oni felt a smirk cross his face as he breathed in the blood-scented air. “But now, I’m intrigued. Let’s see if this champion of shadow is as good as you say. Where can I find this demonslaying human?” “Hirotaka’s estate lies outside a village called Koyama, ten miles from the eastern border of Kage territory,” the woman re-plied. “It’s not hard to find, but it is rather isolated. Aside from Hirotaka’s men and servants, you won’t be opposed. Find Hi-rotaka, kill him and bring the scroll to me. Oh, and one more thing.” She raised the knife, observing the bloody, glittering edge. “I cannot have anyone suspecting me of blood magic. Not now, when the night of the Wish is so close.” Her black eyes rose to his, narrowing sharply. “There can be no witnesses, Hakaimono. No survivors. Kill everyone there.”

“I can do that.” A slow grin spread across the oni’s face, and his eyes gleamed red with bloodlust. “This will be fun.”

He would come to regret those words more than any other in his existence.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julie Kagawa, the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, Talon, and Shadow of the Fox series was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel.

When not swimming for her life, Julie immersed herself in books, often to the chagrin of her schoolteachers, who would find she hid novels behind her Math textbooks during class. Her love of reading led her to pen some very dark and gruesome stories, complete with colored illustrations, to shock her hapless teachers. The gory tales faded with time, but the passion for writing remained, long after she graduated and was supposed to get a real job.

To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dog trainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full time.

Julie now lives in North Carolina with her husband, two obnoxious cats, and a pair of Australian Shepherds that have more Instagram followers than she does.

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Friday, March 20, 2020

Review: Dear Enemy by Kristen Callihan


From New York Times bestselling author Kristen Callihan comes a smart, emotional contemporary romance about finding love with the most unlikely of people.


DEAR ENEMY by KRISTEN CALLIHAN
Series: Standalone
Publication date: March 31, 2020
Publisher: Montlake
Genre: contemporary romance

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Synopsis

As kids, they hated each other. Macon Saint was beautiful, but despite his name, Delilah knew he was the devil. That he dated her slightly evil sister, Samantha, was no picnic either. When they broke up, it was a dream come true: Delilah never had to see him again.

Ten years later, her old enemy sends a text.

Delilah’s sister has stolen a valuable heirloom from Macon, now a rising Hollywood star, and he intends to collect his due. One problem: Sam has skipped town.

Sparks still sizzle between Macon and Delilah, only this heat feels alarmingly like unwanted attraction. But Delilah is desperate to keep her weak-hearted mother from learning of her sister’s theft. So she proposes a deal: she’ll pay off the debt by being Macon’s personal chef and assistant.

It’s a recipe for disaster, but Macon can’t stop himself from accepting. Even though Delilah clearly hates him, there’s something about her that feels like home. Besides, they’re no longer kids, and what once was a bitter rivalry has the potential to be something sweeter. Something like forever.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.

Dear EnemyDear Enemy by Kristen Callihan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars






    “Loving you was inevitable. You got under my skin at age eleven and never left.”

There's a thin line between love and hate, and that's something that is so well illustrated between Delilah and Macon. Theirs is a complicated relationship filled with misunderstandings, deceptions, and buried hurt. When they met as children, Macon shot down her innocent offer of friendship out of self-preservation. From that moment on, there was never a moment's peace between them. To make matters worse, Delilah was forced to be in his company more often than not once her sister started dating him. He was like the gum on the bottom of your shoe that you just can't get off. Taunting, harassing, and humiliating her every chance he got. She wasn't quite sure why Macon had it out for her from the start, but it seemed to confirm her feeling that she was the lesser of the Baker sisters. After an unforgivable incident at prom, that was the end of their chaotic relationship. She never thought she'd see him again after high school, but her sister Sam had other ideas.

In a word, Sam is....the WORST. She's self-centered and immature from high school into adulthood. Her disregard for others is proven again and again, and there were points I could not believe that Delilah would turn her life upside down to rescue her. There's something to be said for family loyalty, and part of the reason she went out of her way to clean up her mess was her concern for their mother. Though, if you look at the bigger picture, this isn't an isolated incident. Sam has been manipulating for a very long time, and everyone around the two can see how Delilah allows it to happen. Which sucks. It flat out sucks, because Delilah is a soft-hearted woman who keeps getting dumped on because she cares too much.

    I’ve been covering for her for as long as I can remember. Even when we were kids, my parents simply accepted it as fact that I’d be the prevailing head and keep her out of mischief. It’s a hard habit to shake.

Delilah offers her soul to the devil-her services as personal assistant and chef to none other than Macon Saint, her childhood nemesis. Her sister has stepped far over the line this time, but she's willing to sacrifice her pride to make things right. Macon reluctantly agrees to the temporary arrangement, but the friction between them immediately starts throwing sparks once again. Although Delilah can be sarcastic and cutting, the hate just isn't there anymore. She sees a whole new side to him that makes her question her long-standing grudge. The Macon she knows now doesn't add up with the rude kid she was so well acquainted with.

    He’s not getting under my skin; 
he’s becoming part of it. 
I don’t think I can walk away from him now 
without tearing a good chunk of myself apart.

Delilah has some soul searching to do once she recognizes how her feelings have changed. Her new feelings are tangled up in residual hurt from the past. She'll have to overcome her own hidden insecurities as well as put her foot down with her sister once and for all. I really enjoyed Delilah's sassy personality, her bluntness and gift with food. Cooking is her form of self-expression that she can pour all of her creativity and emotion into. Macon's art form is acting, but it's his way of hiding his painful life behind fictional characters. Sometimes he seems cocky and insensitive, but it's just a front for his battered pride. I loved how they both opened themselves up completely in the end and laid everything bare. There was so much between them hidden under the surface that needed to be aired that not only mended their relationship, but was the beginning of bridging something new with her sister.

I feel like there's definitely potential to make this into a series. North and Ronan were both intriguing secondary characters that are worthy of a full length story. Overall, I was really satisfied, but the stalker storyline kind of fizzled out into nothing. As far as conflicts go, it was skimmed over too much, and the resolution was anti-climactic. I didn't love Dear Enemy quite as much as some of the author's other works, but it was still a solid book. It was very fast-paced, full of snappy dialogue, and the epilogue rounded out the story so perfectly with heartfelt emotion. Anyone looking for a light enemies to lovers story needs this on their radar.


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