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

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Review: A Bend in the Stars by Rachel Barenbaum


For fans of All the Light We Cannot See and The Women in the Castle comes a riveting literary novel that is at once an epic love story and a heart-pounding journey across WWI-era Russia, about an ambitious young doctor and her scientist brother in a race against Einstein to solve one of the greatest mysteries of the universe.


A BEND IN THE STARS by RACHEL BARENBAUM
Publication date: May 14, 2019
Published by: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: historical fiction, literary 

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SYNOPSIS

In Russia, in the summer of 1914, as war with Germany looms and the Czar's army tightens its grip on the local Jewish community, Miri Abramov and her brilliant physicist brother, Vanya, are facing an impossible decision. Since their parents drowned fleeing to America, Miri and Vanya have been raised by their babushka, a famous matchmaker who has taught them to protect themselves at all costs: to fight, to kill if necessary, and always to have an escape plan. But now, with fierce, headstrong Miri on the verge of becoming one of Russia's only female surgeons, and Vanya hoping to solve the final puzzles of Einstein's elusive theory of relativity, can they bear to leave the homeland that has given them so much?

Before they have time to make their choice, war is declared and Vanya goes missing, along with Miri's fiancé. Miri braves the firing squad to go looking for them both. As the eclipse that will change history darkens skies across Russia, not only the safety of Miri's own family but the future of science itself hangs in the balance.

Grounded in real history -- and inspired by the solar eclipse of 1914 -- A Bend in the Stars offers a heartstopping account of modern science's greatest race amidst the chaos of World War I, and a love story as epic as the railways crossing Russia.

Purchase your copy now!
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PRAISE FOR A BEND IN THE STARS
"A rousing debut. . . Fans of Kristin Hannah will enjoy Barenbaum’s exhilarating tale."
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"A romantic adventure with a neatly dovetailed ending that will appeal to fans of Kristin Hannah and Pam Jenoff." -BOOKLIST

"A Bend in the Stars is a vivid and wrenching debut, full not only with the darkness of history but also with hope — a literary saga for fans of The Invisible Bridge and All the Light We Cannot See. Love and war and Relativity weave together seamlessly, and we're left understanding that there's more than one way for the universe to bend."
REBECCA MAKKAI, AUTHOR OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST THE GREAT BELIEVERS

"A sweeping epic that transports the reader into another era, even as the struggles of its characters feel powerfully modern and timely."
MADELINE MILLER, AUTHOR OF CIRCE AND THE SONG OF ACHILLES

"With the timelessness of a folk tale, the twists and turns of an adventure story, and the pleasures of a science thriller, A Bend in the Stars both fills the reader's heart and keeps it beating fast. This novel's strong gravitational pull draws you powerfully alongside Miri and Vanya in their harrowing quests, and its emotional payoff makes you never want to let them go."
CHRISTOPHER CASTELLANI, AUTHOR OF LEADING MEN

A riveting and deftly-plotted novel that leads us through the twisted labyrinths of Riga, hurtles us atop a pile of crates on a train rumbling toward Kiev, and illuminates how the violence of history and the thrill of scientific discovery unfold in startling simultaneity.
ILANA KURSHAN, AUTHOR OF IF ALL THE SEAS WERE INK

"Rachel Barenbaum's A Bend in the Stars is a beautiful thrill ride steeped in the history of Czarist Russia, from its poverty-ridden shtetls to its roaring trains, and the awesome lure of science. This is a book of history rewritten, dreams realized, and justice served-a book about relativity, war, hatred, and the weight of our assumptions and our great loves."
MICHELLE HOOVER, AUTHOR OF THE QUICKENING

"I loved this so much. The comparison to Dr. Zhivago, one of my favorite movies, to Einstein is perfect. A love triangle, a solar eclipse, the Czar and everyone trying to just survive, A Bend in the Stars is a terrific literary saga for those readers of All the Light You Cannot See and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena."
ANNIE PHILBRICK, BANK SQUARE BOOKS



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Rachel Barenbaum is a graduate of Grub Street's Novel Incubator program. In a former life she was a hedge fund manager and a spin instructor, before moving to the New Hampshire woods to write. She has an MBA from the Harvard Business School and an AB in Literature and Philosophy from Harvard College. A Bend in the Stars is her first novel.

You can find her on:
Facebook | Website | Twitter | Goodreads


REVIEW

A Bend in the StarsA Bend in the Stars by Rachel Barenbaum
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A Bend in the Stars is a sweeping epic portrait of the devastation and desperation of war. This story does not read like it came from a novice writer, far from it. If I hadn't known this was a debut novel beforehand, I would have expected this kind of talent from a seasoned author with years of honing their craft under their belt. Once I got past situating myself in the beginning, I was flying through the book for the majority of its 464 pages. That's no mean feat. With every gasp that escaped these characters, every fearful thundering heartbeat, I was standing next to them in solidarity.

Miri and Vanya Abramov have already suffered great loss and injustice by the year 1914. Their parents died attempting to make it to America for the family, and since then tensions have escalated to the point of war. As Jews living in pre-war Russia, beatings and murder are occurrences that could happen without warning on any given day. There is no such thing as safety, and they've learned to live their lives as if walking on eggshells. To survive the constant abuse and discrimination and get by one day at a time. The siblings are both brilliant in their own right: Vanya is a professor of physics, Miri a doctor who has just been approved to become one of the first few female surgeons to practice in her country. But however much they excel, there are always those who wish to abuse their position of power to prevent them from succeeding.

Vanya idolizes Albert Einstein and has even corresponded with him once over his theory of relativity. He is consumed with the idea of proving his theory and making a huge difference in the world through scientific discovery. The upcoming total solar eclipse is his chance to make that contribution, and at the same time gain entry into America. If he can meet with the American journeying there to take photographs of the rare event, a position at Harvard will be assured. That will mean safety and freedom for his family unlike anything they've experienced before. Unfortunately the timing of WW1 breaking out is cataclysmic for his plans. But he's determined to succeed and begins a perilous, life or death journey fraught with danger.

The historical detail was very well researched, and rich with detail without being too indulgent. I never felt as if it was at the expense of a well paced plot. We alternated between brother and sister until they finally intertwine towards the end near the final climax. Fact and fiction were perfectly woven together to create a war novel unlike any I've read before. There was love amid the madness: unequivocal love for family, and another love story that seemed doomed to end in tragedy in one way or another. Why? Because Miri is engaged, suddenly there is another love interest, and at any moment any one of them could die at the hands of a multitude of people hunting them. I'm not a huge fan of love triangles, and this one was no different but those are my personal preferences. I felt almost guilty for taking off a half star because the quality of the writing was so good. So gripping. This romance fell in a grey area for me because of the extreme circumstances that influenced the decisions made. Still there was some disappointment involved, but not enough to detract much from my love of the overall story.

The flash forward to the year 2000 brought everything to a close so poignantly and tied all the loose ends together crisply. Rachel Barenbaum is a new talent to watch. After her sparkling debut, I'm a firm fan that will be following her work in the future. Not to be missed!


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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Feature with Review: The Bluestocking by Christi Caldwell


Two damaged hearts learn there’s a fine line between love and hate in a Wicked Wallflowers novel from USA Today bestselling author Christi Caldwell.


THE BLUESTOCKING by CHRISTI CALDWELL
Series: Wicked Wallflowers #4
Publication date: May 7, 2019
Published by: Montlake Romance
Genre: historical romance

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SYNOPSIS

Gertrude, the eldest Killoran sister, has spent a lifetime being underestimated—especially by her own family. She may seem as vulnerable as a kitten, but given the chance, she can be as fierce as a tiger. Her adopted brother, Stephen, has just been snatched back by his true father, and she’ll be damned if she relinquishes the boy to the man reviled throughout London as the Mad Marquess.

Still haunted by a deadly tragedy that left him publicly despised, Lord Edwin holds only hatred for the Killorans—the people he believes kidnapped his son. And not one of them will ever see the boy again. But when Gertrude forces her way into the household and stubbornly insists that she remain as Stephen’s governess, Edwin believes he may have found someone madder than himself.

With every moment he shares with the tenderhearted Gertrude, Edwin’s anger softens into admiration…and more. Is it possible that the woman he loathed may be the only person who can heal his broken soul?

Purchase your copy now!
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Feature: You Might Be a Bluestocking If... with Author Christi Caldwell

In my newest novel, The Bluestocking, Gertrude, the eldest Killoran sister, has spent a lifetime being underestimated—especially by her own family. She may seem as vulnerable as a kitten, but given the chance she can be as fierce as a tiger. Her adopted brother Stephen has just been snatched back by his true father, and she’ll be damned if she relinquishes the boy to the man reviled throughout London as the Mad Marquess.

Still haunted by a deadly tragedy that left him publicly despised, Lord Edwin holds only hatred for the Killorans—the people he believes kidnapped his son. And not one of them will ever see the boy again. But when Gertrude forces her way into the household and stubbornly insists that she remain as Stephen’s governess, Edwin believes he may have found someone madder than himself. 

With every moment he shares with the tenderhearted Gertrude, Edwin’s anger softens into admiration . . . and more. It is possible that the woman he loathed may be the only person who can heal his broken soul?

Gertrude was such a wonderful character to write. She’s the eldest of her siblings and firmly on the shelf. She’s incredibly diverse in her strengths and in her interests and in the knowledge she possesses: it’s a knowledge that really is all-encompassing, spanning furniture-making to the care of animals to skills for surviving on the streets. In addition, she’s been responsible for educating the children in her family’s care, and what I found so fascinating is that she knows the value of education and what she’s been providing has been so important, and yet so many have failed to appreciate the power of her contributions.  

In honor of Gertrude, an intelligent, interesting, and ultimately irresistible heroine, I have written a short game of "You Might Be A Bluestocking If..." so you can test yourself to see what you have in common with Gertrude. 
You might be a bluestocking if...you have more than one cat.
You might be a bluestocking if...your hands are permanently ink stained from your writing.
You might be a bluestocking if...you have an in-depth knowledge of ancient furniture design.
You might be a bluestocking if…you prefer lectures to balls.

You might be a bluestocking if…you would rather have a book in your hands than needlework.

EXCERPT
The Bluestocking by Christi Caldwell

Who was this . . . daughter of Diggory? The one few spoke of and about whom little was known.

Edwin pushed himself away from the door, and folding his arms at his chest, he took slow, predatory steps closer, walking a path around her. His earlier assessment in the darkened foyer of the woman had proven correct. Drab brown hair. Nondescript brown eyes. Of medium height, and in possession of a slender frame that left her cloak hanging unflatteringly upon her, there was nothing extraordinary about the last unwed Killoran. Which was no doubt why she’d not snagged herself a wealthy or powerful husband as her sisters had already done. At his lengthy scrutiny, she dared him with her eyes. And yet for her . . . ordinariness, there was a strength of spirit that radiated, casting a soft blush upon cream-white cheeks, that marked her as . . . interesting. She was interesting. He stopped abruptly. Seeing this woman in any light except the darkened one was a betrayal to his late wife and his children, both living and dead . . . and himself.

“I was clear with my demands. Get out now, Miss Diggory.”

The stubborn chit pursed her slightly too-full lips. “As I said earlier, you were less clear than you give yourself credit for,” she challenged, ignoring the latter part of his directive. My God, she is an insolent bit of baggage. “And my name is Killoran.”

The names were synonymous and interchangeable.

Edwin stopped before her so only a pace divided them. “And tell me, where was I not clear?” he purred. “Was it the part about making sure Broderick Diggory hangs, as he deserves, that was not clear?” The color bled from her cheeks. “Or was it my stated intentions for your sisters . . . what are their names? Ophelia? Cleopatra?” he asked, mocking that Shakespearean queen’s name, and the woman in front of him frowned deeper. “How . . . unfortunate it would be if their business ventures were both to fail.”

The young woman curled and uncurled her coarse hands at her sides. “Do not threaten my family,” she said coolly.

He’d hand it to her. She remained undaunted.

“Or what, Miss Diggory?” A muscle ticked at the corner of her right eye, but she did not rise to the bait, either. “Will you set my townhouse afire and attempt to steal my son . . . again?”

Her features leached even more of their color, leaving those previously blushing cheeks a ghastly grey-white. And for her earlier brave show, it was her turn to falter. “I didn’t . . .” And he celebrated that triumph over his enemy.

“What was that?” he barked, cupping a hand around his ear. “You didn’t what?” Destroy my life? Shatter my family? “Kidnap my son?” he settled for, refusing to voice aloud his greatest agonies before this of all women.

She flinched.

“Now leave, and tell your real brother if he violates our arrangement once more, using you or another one of your . . . sisters or his henchmen to do his work for him, I’ll take you all down.” His in-laws’ earlier recriminations flooded forward. It was just something else they’d been right about.

Edwin had stomped over to his desk when he registered the absolute silence—more specifically, the lack of retreating footfalls.

He turned back.

Miss Diggory jutted her chin up defiantly. “No one sent me, my lord. I am here of my own volition.”

He chuckled, that rusty, ill-used laugh more a growl than anything that could ever be confused with a real expression of mirth. No one came here of their own volition. As a rule, the world avoided him.

Shifting direction, he returned to the stubborn chit’s side, and leaning down, he placed his mouth close to her temple once more and fought the maddening pull of whatever damned perfume she dabbed behind her ears. “Do you think I’m foolish enough all these years later to believe a lie dripping off a Diggory’s lips?”

The young woman’s back moved up and down, an indication of her rapid breath. Of her fear. A lifetime ago, he’d have sooner chopped off his left hand than deliberately taunt a woman and take pleasure in her fear. No longer. That pathetic excuse of a man who’d gotten his wife and babe killed, and the other son snatched, reveled in this woman’s unease. “Hmm?” he prodded, and she jumped.

“I have no reason to lie to you, my lord,” she said calmly, and as she spoke, her breath, containing a whispery trace of honey, filtered from her lips and fanned his mouth. Another unexpectedly sweet scent, at odds with her past and name and sins. It enticed, drawing his gaze to her mouth and holding his focus there, mesmerized. “There is nothing I want, need, or desire.” She darted her tongue out and traced the plump seam of her lips. And God forgive him, his gut clenched. For even as self-loathing spiraled through him, something far worse, far more perilous and viler and more treacherous, held him in its snare: desire. “The only reason I’ve come . . . the only worry I had . . . was for Stephen.”

Stephen.

That single name, spoken aloud, snapped whatever siren’s trap she’d sucked him momentarily into. “August.” Had there ever been a doubt as to his insanity, this quixotic fascination with the woman’s slightly too-full mouth as she spoke was evidence enough of it.

She tipped her head, and one of the few brown strands that had managed a curl bounced at her shoulder.

Edwin flared his nostrils. “His name is August Rudolph Thadeus Stephen Warren, the Earl of Greyley.” He flicked a stare over her face. “You’ve no relation to him. He is His Lordship to you.” Stalking over to the front of the room, he pulled the door open. “Now that you’ve seen him”—he peeled his lip in a mocking sneer—“safely delivered to his rightful home, you are dismissed. You may leave now.”

Gertrude Killoran drew in a breath. “I am afraid I cannot do that.”

He narrowed his eyes. “And whyever not?”

“I’m not leaving.”

“I beg your pardon?” What more could she possibly want or expect of him?

The young woman clasped her palms before her, like a nun at the abbey. “I’m staying.”

Confusion rooted around his mind. “Staying?” he repeated. “Staying where?”

“Here.” She settled her features into a serene expression he’d have believed impossible for a Diggory. “Indefinitely,” she clarified.

Edwin rocked back on his heels.

My God, I’ve finally found someone madder than myself.

Praise for Christi Caldwell:
“Rich characterization and complex themes heighten the drama of this enticing Victorian-era romance by Caldwell.” —​Publishers Weekly​ on ​The Hellion

"I can't say enough about Christi Caldwell - every time I read one of her books, it's like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day!” —​Lady with a Quill

"Fast paced, emotionally charged, intriguing, suspenseful, with mystery, and adventure. Christi Caldwell has a way with her stories that draws readers in and holds them spellbound throughout.”
—​My Book Addiction o​n​ The Scoundrel’s Honor



GIVEAWAY



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

USA Today bestselling, RITA-nominated author Christi Caldwell blames authors Julie Garwood and Judith McNaught for luring her into the world of historical romance. When Christi was at the University of Connecticut, she began writing her own tales of love. She believes that the most perfect heroes and heroines have imperfections, and she rather enjoys torturing her couples before crafting them a well-deserved happily ever after.

The author of the Wicked Wallflowers series, which includes The Governess, The Hellion, and The Vixen, Christi lives in southern Connecticut, where she spends her time writing, chasing after her son, and taking care of her twin princesses-in-training. Fans who want to keep up with the latest news and information can sign up for Christi’s newsletter at www.ChristiCaldwell.com or follow her on Facebook (AuthorChristiCaldwell) or Twitter (@ChristiCaldwell).

You can find her on:
The Bluestocking (Wicked Wallflowers, #4)The Bluestocking by Christi Caldwell
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Gertrude is the last sister in the Killoran family to get her book. Although she has always been the most unobtrusive one, the one everyone always seemed to feel was the weakest link in the family, I was eager to read her story. She is a true wallflower in every sense of the word, and she could easily have been the crowning glory in the series. I can be a picky reader. I don't hand out five star ratings very easily, and yet the first three books in the Wicked Wallflowers were enthusiastic five star reads. I can count on one hand the authors that were able to pull that off.

I give Christi Caldwell such huge respect as an author because her character development and storytelling abilities are rare and exceptional. However, Gert and her relationship with Lord Edwin fell short of what they could have delivered. Their combined histories could have given us a lot of emotional dimension and complexities, but unfortunately we didn't delve as deep as I would have liked to have gone which ended up making their romance fall somewhat flat.

This heroine had a lot of great qualities that I admired. She was the most intelligent of the sisters as you'd probably guess by the title. After losing her sight in one eye due to her father's abuse, she was no longer forced to thieve and risk her life on the streets. Instead she escaped into books, and can now quirkily spout an abundance of information on a variety of topics. She's nurturing, observant, and insightful because of how quietly she watches in the background. Less hardened than everyone else, she's able to see the good in people because she'd been shielded from a lot of the depravity that goes on in her world. Yes, she'd had some damaging experiences, but she never lost her optimism or faith in humanity. And finally, she's gentle with her pet menagerie, but tough when the situation demands it with her family. She's a character that's easy to like, and had me laughing quite a bit at her stubborn face-offs with "The Mad Marquess," Lord Edwin.

Gertrude has the patience of a saint for how she holds her own with Edwin, as well as managing Stephen's out of control behavior. Up until the last book? I wanted to shake that kid until his teeth rattled and kick him where the sun doesn't shine. He still has some maturing to do, but he really did redeem himself and show that he's on the path to improvement. I sympathized with him a little more in this book because the poor kid is having his life turned upside down for a second time and doesn't have the capacity to process it adequately. By the end of this book, I can see the man that he could become now that's he's found a safe and loving home back where he belongs. His anger and resentment had really softened and I'm really hoping I get to see him find his HEA...in The Spitfire perhaps?

Lord Edwin is far from insane as society has labeled him since the destruction of his family. He is wracked with crippling grief and pain. He's reclusive, angry, and bitterly blames himself for not trusting his instincts and failing to protect his pregnant wife and son. It didn't help that his in-laws made him the scapegoat and encouraged public belief that he was at fault and unstable. I did feel for the poor man, but my problem with his character was that his hatred for Gertrude was too quickly overcome, and his attraction and love grew almost instantly. It did not feel entirely realistic that he came to believe he loved her after 10 short days because of their complicated history. Instead of feeling angsty, their interactions felt rushed and even awkward at times.

Another issue that started to bother me was that I was being told excessively through Gertrude's POV how Stephen can't stand his father, her family played a part in stealing his son from him, and how he hated her family and would never get over it. She kept reiterating over and over that father and son were strangers and the repetition was not necessary. I would rather have been shown through their actions/conversations how distant they are and see their relationship grow organically.

I didn't dislike any of the characters, and in general I still enjoyed seeing Gertrude finally owning more assertiveness and finding someone who believed in her. I liked seeing the fragile trust between father and son develop and Edwin shedding the blame that he'd accepted unfairly for so many years. While the romance felt rushed for my taste, many others didn't feel the love leaned on the "insta" side. Like all of Caldwell's books I've read, this was very fast-paced, easy to stay engaged with, and comforting to slip in more page time in the world she's created. I'm crossing my fingers that the next book gives us Stephen's ultimate HEA with a heroine that can properly bring him to his knees.


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Friday, May 10, 2019

Release Day Blast: Bred by Ginger Scott


We're celebrating BRED by Ginger Scott! BRED is a coming-of-age romance inspired by Great Expectations you won't want to miss!



Bred by Ginger Scott
Mature Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Release day: May 10, 2019

#Free with #KindleUnlimited


BRED
A coming-of-age romance inspired by Great Expectations
By Ginger Scott

My life was irrevocably changed the moment I stepped foot inside Elena Alderman’s grand front doors. A lifeless tomb on the edge of Chicago’s South Side, the Alderman home sat in one of the city’s oldest and wealthiest neighborhoods, and Elena Alderman was the queen.

She was also mad.

Not the kind of madness that’s readily apparent. No, her psychopathy was far more surgical—more…insidious. She was surrounded by beautiful things—most notably her grand piano and her adopted son, Henry.

I fell in love with both.

My gift blossomed when my fingers touched her black and white keys. But my life began when I became haunted by the boy. Henry Alderman was a handsome blend of arrogance and seduction, and as we grew up together, I found it more and more impossible to separate him from my thoughts. I envied his life. I imagined how my name—Lily—would look with his. I became his closest friend…and more. I gave him my kiss, locked away his secrets, and loved him even when it was hard to.

But we were just a game. Elena Alderman made the rules. And when she decided to change them, she broke everything.

Almost.
--

Excerpt
BRED By Ginger Scott
A coming-of-age love story inspired by Great Expectations

“You know this stuff…” he starts, but I interrupt with an emphatic shake of my head. When his fingers splay out over my back I freeze. I follow the path my book takes back to the place it started in front of me as Henry slides it in place, flipping open to the chapter I’m trying to memorize. Knelt down next to me, he leans closer, resting his right arm next to my left one—we are touching.

I swallow. I’m going to fail. I cannot memorize something like the varied historical degrees of differences between a Protestant hell and a Lutheran one while the master of all hotness is sharing a desktop with me. My arm hairs are literally electric, standing up and reaching to plant themselves in his skin. I’ve gone completely primal—my body convinced that I am the gatherer in need of this hunter.

“Look,” he says, leaning in even closer and reaching to flip the pages. I barely register the movement of his thumb under a bold section of words. When his eyes catch mine still stuck on his face, I jump in my seat a little.

“Sorry,” I say, clearing my throat. “I’m just overwhelmed. Maybe a little slow, too, from being in here so long.”

It’s partly true, but I’m also just crushing. Crushing—that’s what Nicki calls it. She rolls her eyes every time she catches me doing it too, then labels it with that word. I crush in the dining area. I crush between classes when Henry pokes my arm with his index finger as we pass in the halls. I crush when I watch him sprint across the lawn every day at three in the afternoon, late for rowing. It’s literally become how I know it’s three o’clock! My body just instinctually glides toward my window at exactly 2:59. Pathetic!

At this point, we should just say that I’m crushed rather than crushing. Crushed and utterly destroyed of all pride.

I am gatherer.

“What you need to do is make up a rhyme. Something that will help you keep all of the key words in your brain so when it comes time to write them down in order, you’ll have them there.”

I draw in my lips and let the acid climb up my throat.

“I don’t even understand that. Ugg, I’m hopeless,” I say, letting my head fall flat against the book. I bounce my forehead there lightly while I eke out a desperate laugh at my own expense.

“You aren’t hopeless.” I feel the warm breath from his chuckle and smell the mint of his gum, and it’s intoxicating enough without his touch, so when the warm hand slides the hair from my cheek I go full hypnosis. His fingers trace my jaw, and my head lifts from the light pressure of his hold. For a moment, I believe in myself just because of the look in his eyes when our stares meet. He’s dead serious—and God, the way he’s looking at me, hair all tousled, smile soft and true, cheeks lifted as if they’re glad to see me.

Like a drunk, I lean closer, my lips parting and ready—my mind imagining everything I’m about to feel—Henry’s mouth on mine, the graze of teeth against my lips, us standing as his arms sweep around my back before his hands rush up my spine into my own messy hair.

None of that happens.

I get an inch away from his mouth, my eyelids fluttering with nerves and uncertainty whether they should close or remain open, and Henry turns a few inches to his left, stiffening and backing away just enough to keep me from making this worse—as if I can make this worse somehow. The rush of heat that coats me isn’t from passion—it’s from humiliation. My eyes remain open just long enough to see the movement in his neck as he clears his throat. His soft smile is replaced with a hard line, drawn under the pity that slants his eyes.

I think I understand hell a little better now. It helps that I’m in it.

“I’m just tired. I…” Why I try to speak, I don’t know.

“It’s fine.” His voice is laced with discomfort. In one blink I erased everything that was easy between us. All because of my damn fantasies.

Fine. That word—so short, so four-lettered. Such a lie. I ruined everything.

(Copyright Ginger Scott, 2019)







About the Author:


Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, The Hail Mary, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless, In Your Dreams, The Hard Count, Hold My Breath, A Boy Like You, A Girl Like Me, Memphis and Cry Baby.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.

When she's not writing, the odds are high that she's somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork 'em, Devils).

Social Media Links:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GingerScottAuthor
Twitter: @TheGingerScott
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/thegingerscott/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/GingerScottAuthor
Google: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+GingerScottAuthor/posts
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/GingerScott
Website: http://www.littlemisswrite.com

Monday, May 6, 2019

Review: Nocturna by Maya Motayne


Set in a Latinx-inspired world, a face-changing thief and a risk-taking prince must team up to defeat a powerful evil they accidentally unleashed.


NOCTURNA by MAYA MOTAYNE
Publication date: May 7, 2019
Published by: Balzer + Bray/Harper Collins
Series: A Forgery of Magic #1
Genre: YA fantasy

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Synopsis:

To Finn Voy, magic is two things: a knife to hold under the chin of anyone who crosses her…and a disguise she shrugs on as easily as others pull on cloaks.

As a talented faceshifter, it’s been years since Finn has seen her own face, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But when Finn gets caught by a powerful mobster, she’s forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.

After the murder of his older brother, Prince Alfehr is first in line for the Castallan throne. But Alfie can’t help but feel that he will never live up to his brother’s legacy. Riddled with grief, Alfie is obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.

But when Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power—which, if not contained, will devour the world. And with Castallan’s fate in their hands, Alfie and Finn must race to vanquish what they have unleashed, even if it means facing the deepest darkness in their pasts.



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Praise for Nocturna:

“What makes Motayne’s debut title singular and special is that her kingdom is Latinx, with brown-skinned, curly-haired people and Spanish sprinkled throughout…. Cinematic, plentiful action as well as intriguing protagonists will pull many a fantasy reader, and the richly detailed world will keep them reading.”
- ALA Booklist

“This fantasy set in a Latinx kingdom explores the lasting effects of childhood trauma, the destructive potential of grief, and the redemptive power of love…. the stakes are high, Finn and Alfie’s reluctant attraction rings true, and a gratifying conclusion paves the way for book two.”
- Publishers Weekly

“This searing, magical Latinx-inspired fantasy pulled me in from the first page and did not let me go. I loved adventuring with brave Alfie and brash Finn, and I held my breath until the end. Nocturna is a magnificent debut, powerful and true.”
- Julie C. Dao, author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

“Nocturna is an exhilarating adventure, bursting with lively, inventive magic and characters who charmed me the instant they appeared on the page. If you want to get swept up in a story, pick this one.”
- New York Times bestselling author Margaret Rogerson

“Fantasy fans will embrace the creative worldbuilding and welcome these flawed and multi-layered characters into their hearts.”
- Cinda Williams Chima, New York Times bestselling author of the Shattered Realms series 

About Maya Motayne


Maya Motayne decided to be a writer when she was four years old and hasn’t stopped writing since. She lives in New York City where she pursues her passions of petting as many dogs as possible and buying purses based on whether or not they can fit a big book in them. Nocturna is her first novel. 

You can find her on:
Nocturna (A Forgery of Magic, #1)Nocturna by Maya Motayne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There were several things that attracted me to trying out this book: It's the first in a new series, the Latinx inspired worldbuilding, the face changing thief, and a potentially complex magic system. This was before I even saw the gloriousness of that mosaic cover. How stunning is that? Not only is it beautiful to look at, it's a perfect representation of San Cristobal's palace. I was very excited to introduce myself to this new series, and I found quite a lot to enjoy.

    “Everything has its season,” his father had once told him. Did his mourning have a season? Would it peel away from him, like petals peeled from stems as winter marched ever closer?

Prince Alfehr is returning home from a solitary voyage following the unexpected and tragic death of his older brother who had been set to inherit the throne. Due to the circumstances of his assassination, Alfehr refuses to accept that his beloved brother is truly gone. Ravaged by grief, he clings to the hope that there is a chance to bring him back from the magic void he disappeared into. Everyone around him has seemed to accept that the prince who was raised to lead the kingdom, the more worthy man in his eyes, is lost forever. But he has been on a desperate hunt to unearth any knowledge or magic that could restore his family. In the beginning, his grief is still overwhelming. His desperation causes him to act without thinking of the possible consequences. I wasn't sure what to think of him at first to be honest. On the one hand, you could feel the weight of his loss and couldn't really blame him for not wanting to let go. On the other, you come to realize that he has a lot of character growth to achieve because he shows through several selfish acts that he's correct in his belief that he's not prepared to rule as his brother was.

He tends to only think of how things will affect himself, or how they will affect things short term. You can't really blame him for not having the capacity to make the decisions of a ruler as a secondborn son. However, he chooses to sacrifice the safety of his entire kingdom because he can't bear the thought of losing his best friend so close on the heels of his brother's death. Just thinking about the countless lives lost, slaughtered so that one person could live is much more than an irresponsible screw up. The dark magic he unleashed may have been mysterious to him, but there could be no doubt that it was the wrong thing to do to let it escape. In addition, he proves his selfishness again by keeping his actions from Paloma, his childhood tutor. Knowing that she has vital information on how to stop and possibly imprison the magic once again didn't sway him in coming clean. He was more worried about getting into trouble for his actions and had to figure everything out with very little to go on.

Finn Voy is a rebellious, morally grey character that first comes into contact with Alfehr at an illegal magic card game. I have to say, I really enjoyed their first meeting. Her face changing propio was exciting and intriguing to see in action. She's a drifting thief who's on the run from the man who raised her, willing to say or do anything to keep her anonymity and hard won freedom. She doesn't seem to have much of a moral compass at the start. You don't get an idea of the history that led her to this point in her life, only that her experiences were horrific and traumatizing. She's done unforgiveable things in order to stay alive and survive, and believes there is no good left in herself to redeem. So she hardens her heart and distances herself from her past, setting down roots, and attachments to other people. To avoid looking inside herself, she dons changeable masks to bury who she really is under bravado.

    She’d spent so much time drowning in her past that she hadn’t been able to swim to the surface and see a future for herself that wasn’t stained with blood and fear.

Finn is completely self-serving. She plays a small part in how the voracious dark magic is set free, but my sympathies did come out with her. There's always a small flicker of desire to cling to the girl she once was before the loss of her parents. Finn and Alfehr share a desire to rise above who they are and become better people. I think you will really start to see them shine in later books.

I thought Motayne pulled off the action scenes very well. They were grittier than I was expecting and high on the suspense. They joined forces, racing against the clock to find a way to stop catastrophic events that were in the balance. Endless night, mankind turning into monsters, and the death of all things good would soon be a reality if they were unable to stop what they set in motion.

The romance wasn't heavy at all, the possibility was simply set in some groundwork towards the end. Mainly they had a grudging respect for each other that graduated into a tentative friendship. Finn is very much still a loner, and being vulnerable to another person is not high on her priorities. Out of all of the characters, she was my favorite because no matter how she tried to hide her fears and weaknesses, they always revealed themselves when they needed to be seen. She did have redeeming qualities that were proven to exist in the final confrontation that give you real hope for her future.

There was a bit of an info dump in this first installment, and at times the pace dragged in the first half. The last half made up for it, and I was happily surprised that there was no suspenseful cliffhanger. This is a promising debut that generally fulfilled my expectations. Character growth as well as expansion of the continuing storyline is realistically feasible. I have some theories about possible future conflicts in the following books and I'm looking forward to seeing the direction that the author takes.


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Saturday, May 4, 2019

Blog Tour with Excerpt and Giveaway: A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole



The Reluctant Royals series returns with a good girl searching for the life that’s not too big, and not too small, and the bad boy prince who might be just right for her…

Nya Jerami fled Thesolo for the glitz and glamour of NYC but discovered that her Prince Charming only exists in her virtual dating games. When Nya returns home for a royal wedding, she accidentally finds herself up close and personal—in bed—with the real-life celebrity prince who she loves to hate.

For Johan von Braustein, the red-headed step-prince of Liechtienbourg, acting as paparazzi bait is a ruse that protects his brother—the heir to the throne—and his own heart. When a royal referendum threatens his brother’s future, a fake engagement is the perfect way to keep the cameras on him.

Nya and Johan both have good reasons to avoid love, but as desires are laid bare behind palace doors, they must decide if their fake romance will lead to a happily-ever-after.




About the Book

A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole
Series: Reluctant Royals
Genre: Adult
Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Publication Date: April 30, 2019

Purchase Your Copy Today!
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EXCERPT

The bed suddenly shifted, the tilt of the mattress jarring, and Nya was pulled into a strong, solid embrace. Her nose tickled at the smell of lemon and lavender, citrus and almost abrasive floral, as far from the smell of the eng flower of Thesolo—her father’s poison of choice—as she could get. The arms that clamped around her were lean and muscular, and the body it pulled her against was just as fit. The body was warm—so warm and cradling her so perfectly that she relaxed and sighed at how . . . right it felt before her fear and common sense kicked in.

She was alone on the plane. But someone was in the bed behind her. Holding her. Had her distress been so acute that it had reached Ingoka’s ears? Had she conjured this sudden comfort? She knew the folklore of the lesser gods, of those who gave humans what they wanted but always took more than they gave. No, this is no time for fairy tale silliness. She tried to tug herself free from the stranger’s arm because, be they god or man, something really fucking weird was going on.

The hold tightened. “Reste bei mir.”

The sleep-slurred words came out in an exhalation that tickled Nya’s ear and made her belly jolt. She pushed at one of the arms from below and the hold loosened as the stranger snorted and began to move. A large hand patted her arm, paused, then pulled away.

“What have we here?” The voice was deep and smooth, a European, judging from the strangely accented English. So definitely not a lesser god of Thesolo, and more likely a human—one who might be dangerous.

She jumped up off the bed, listing a bit as the plane hit dipped and tilted, fumbling with her phone as her hands began to tremble slightly. She was on the plane usually reserved for the royal family of Thesolo. Ledi had made her listen to those true crime podcasts so Nya knew that this could be some depraved assassin. What kind of assassin snuggles people to death? Stranger things had happened.

“Who are you and what do you want?” She tried to access the flashlight app, but her thumb was wet from the tears she’d pressed into submission and the fingerprint reader wouldn’t work. She pressed the button along the phone’s side to take photos instead, no unlocking required, and the bright bursts of the camera’s automatic flash revealed the outline of a man stretched out on the bed.

The bed she had just sought out for safety and comfort. A jolt of anger and fear sliced through her as her thumb repetitively pressed the button.

“What do you want?” she asked again, stepping back toward the door.

“Hmm. Biscuits?” The lazy response was punctuated by the sound of shuffling on the sheets. “Biscuits would be super. I missed the in-flight meal.”


Wait. That voice is familiar. And the language . . . A light suddenly flicked on, and Nya blinked several times, and then kept on blinking even after her eyes had adjusted. Her ears hadn’t lied.  Oh! It’s him.

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of A PRINCE ON PAPER by Alyssa Cole, we’re giving away one paperback set of the first three full-length books in the series!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback set of A Princess in Theory, A Duke By Default, & A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance.  Giveaway ends 5/16/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!


About Alyssa Cole

ALYSSA COLE is a science editor, pop culture nerd, and romance junkie who lives in the Caribbean and occasionally returns to her fast-paced NYC life. In addition to writing, she founded and hosted the Jefferson Market Library Romance Book Club and taught Romance Writing for Beginners. She speaks on topics such as writing erotic romance, writing multicultural romance, and self-editing. She has contributed romance-related articles to publications including RT Book Reviews, Heroes and Heartbreakers, Romance at Random, and The Toast. She has also started a bi-monthly column in the Romance Writer’s Report, Romancing the Globe, in which she chats with romance writers from around the world. When she’s not busy writing, traveling, and learning French, she can be found watching anime with her husband or tending to her herd of animals.

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