Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Perils of Paulie by Katie Macalister

The Perils of Paulie by Katie MacAlisterThis whole series has been fairly madcap and this book takes the adventure to TV. Our heroine, Paulie, is the daughter of a floor magnate. A floor magnate with Russian ties. An overprotective super-paranoid floor magnate with Russian ties. Oh, and at twenty-nine-years-old, she's still living at home. Yeah, she tried to leave but her father nearly had a heart attack, literally. But her stepmother, who seems adept at walking the line between Paulie and her father, suggests that Paulie join a reality show. It seems that stepmother is related to Mercy, a character from a previous book. And the reality show is right up Paulie's alley, a modern day remake of the 1908 New York to Paris race and of Nellie Bly's around the world trip, a heroine of Paulie.
Dixon is also on the race, having had a previous relationship with the producer when he was filming at his family's estate on their archaeological dig.
The two immediately feel a vibe. And like the hero of the last book in the series, Dixon has an issue that might make him seem somewhat different than normal. He doesn't like to be touched. And Paulie gets that right away. Which is really nice.
I had some issues with how fast they got together and, damn, Paulie was getting annoying at the end. Also, some parts of the storyline were a little loose, but that is not unusual for McAlister's contemporaries so I don't think regular readers will be disappointed.

Three stars
This book comes out January 3

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Secret Life of Fat by Sylvia Tara

The Secret Life of Fat by Sylvia TaraFor a book that is tackling a  fairly complicated subject, this was a nice, easy read. Normally, I don't like reading one-person examples (they just can't be spread out to the larger public) but this book made it work by peppering the beginning, middle, and end between the more laborious and intensive scientific studies. It gave each of those studies a more personal feel while giving the personal stories more credence.
I'm not sure on the last chapter with the author's experience. She talks about losing her extra weight but it's SUCH an extreme diet. And, again, it's that one-person-one-outcome that I don't love.

Four stars
This book comes out December 27

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Four Weddings and a Sixpence: An Anthology

Something Old by Julia Quinn
The set up of the book. Four girls meet at Madame Rochambeaux's Gentle School for Girls (perfect name for a book about fate and working to choose your own). One day, they discover a sixpence in a mattress and come to decide that it must bring luck. Anne, claims it first even though she's the youngest by two years, because she needs to be married before she's twenty-one (though in the ARC, it says twenty-five in the intro and twenty-one in the story, I assume that will be fixed) leading us into...

Four Weddings and a Sixpence by Julia QuinnSomething New by Stefanie Sloane
I hadn't read Ms. Sloane before but am delighted that I haven't missed many books. As far as novellas go, I'm usually very disappointed in how fast characters have to fall in love to make the story work but she played this meeting and relationship beautifully.
The beginning was a bit rough with the exposition being told to a dog but Anne is delightful as is Rhys, the Duke of Dorset. He respects her and she is smitten with him though neither wants to marry the other, he being far too young (a familiar trope) and she being leery of love after seeing her parents' tempestuous match but they spend more and more time together, eventually falling in love.

Four stars

Something Borrowed by Elizabeth Boyle
In the opening, Cordelia was a wealthy young woman but by the time we get to her story, most of her family's wealth has been squandered by her father who has since died. She has been putting off her aunts' urgings to marry by saying that she's engaged. Of course, that's not true. But her rather unorthodox companion has a solution, just ask her childhood friend Kipp, now the fourteenth Earl of Thornton.
Kipp remembers Cordelia well. He also remembers their hope for adventure in the future. But when his older brother died, Kipp had to step up to try and save the family estate. To that end, he's all but proposed to a wealthy and beautiful cit's daughter. But when Cordelia calls on their childhood promise, he's ready to help.
A little too love-at-first-sight for me but generally a good story.

Four stars

<i>Something Blue</i> by Laura Lee Guhrke
Lawrence Blackthorne is not only friends with Kipp, he is long acquainted with the Daventry family. More specifically, Elinor (Ellie) Daventry. It seems her father is something of a scoundrel and Lawrence wants to make sure that Ellie isn't going to try and ride to his rescue. Especially since she's already given up Lawrence, her childhood sweetheart, because he wouldn't stop from prosecuting her father for his crimes. But that doesn't mean he wants to see her married to a pompous ass just because the ass's father sits on the review board.
I didn't like Lawrence as much as the other heroes we've seen thus far. He is very dictatorial and autocratic. Still, a readable story from an author I enjoy.

Three stars

... And a Sixpence in Her Shoe by Julia Quinn
Beatrice (Bea) was the skeptic among the girls. She didn't think that the coin had any powers and definitely doesn't want to get married; it would mean leaving her aunts on their own. But one day she bumps into a man in the street as she's studying the heavens. It's not the eye patch that startles her, but rather the fact that his uncovered eye is the exact color of the sky.
Lord Frederick doesn't realize this. He assumes she's aghast by his disfigurement. When he then meets her again in a paper shop, the encounter goes a little better but it is outside the the butcher that he shows himself to his best form, thwarting a would-be sixpence thief.
The two start to spend more time together and realize how much they have in common.
A little too insta-lovey for me and I didn't feel like we got to know Bea and Frederick as well as the characters in the other stories but I don't think it will spoil the tale for Ms. Quinn's regular readers.

Three and a half stars

Overall 4 stars
This book comes out December 27

Monday, December 19, 2016

Lady Claire Is All That by Maya Rodale

Lady Claire Is All That by Maya RodaleLady Claire Cavendish is all that is unfashionable, the glasses, the intellect, the gall to be an American. That is why Lord Mowbray chooses her in a bet with Lord Fox to be the woman that Fox can transform her. 
Fox has just suffered a Set Down. He was involved with the most popular woman in the ton, Arabella Vaughn, who jilted him for an actor. An actor. So he decides to salvage his Male Pride (annoyingly in all caps, mentioned frequently) by accepting a bet to make Claire the most popular woman in the ton. But as he gets to know Claire, he stops thinking about Arabella and starts concentrating on what he's learning about this bluestocking. Mainly what he's learning is that he'd very much like to get to know her more.
I mostly enjoyed this book. The Male Pride thing, as I mentioned earlier, was a bit annoying and there was just a teeny bit too much going on so that parts didn't get quite as developed as one might hope. But I'm still looking forward to the story of James and (I hope) Meredith Green, the girls' chaperone.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out December 27

Thursday, December 15, 2016

In The Market For Murder by T E Kinsey

In The Market For Murder by T E KinseyThe book opens with Lady Hardcastle and Florence, "Flo," going slowly as Lady Hardcastle recovers from the gunshot wound she sustained at the end of the last book. Then they're attend a local market where they  meet a man who is later to die under suspicious circumstances. But that's not the only suspicious thing happening in town. There's a ghost, a medium who may or may not be a fake, and the theft of a trophy from the local rugby club.
All of the mysteries are woven together pretty nicely... until the end. Then it feels a little choppy. But overall a fast and enjoyable read.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out December 20
Follows A Quiet Life in the Country
Followed by Death Around the Bend

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Something Foul at Sweetwater by Sandra Bretting

Something Foul at Sweetwater by Sandra BrettingI thought I had read the first book in this series but actually had not. So it was a little interesting jumping into the series mid-stream but it was fairly easy to catch up.
Missy Dubois is a hat designer, specifically wedding hats. I had no idea that someone did that still so it was an interesting premise there. She is very interested in the local mansions and is ecstatic to discover that one is on the market for only $250,000. And the realtor is an old sorority sister. Unfortunately, an old sorority sister who ends up dead. Missy is determined to solve the mystery.
I really liked that there was no ridiculous love triangle in this book. There are two men but one is firmly in the friend category and even encourages Missy to go after the other guy.
Interestingly, Missy is encouraged in her investigations by the main cop, something you don't normally see.
Overall, it was an okay series. But there was a lot going on. A LOT. Especially for a book under 200 pages. I'm not sure if I'll read the rest of the books in this series but I definitely believe there are people who will like this book more than I did. Those who like sweet contemporary cozies set in the South will for sure like this book.

Three stars
This book comes out December 20

Monday, December 12, 2016

Completely Yours by Erin Nicholas

Zach and Kiera would appear to be opposites. She's a certified nerd, a designer for a popular MMOPG called Leokin, and would prefer to spend her days and nights holed up working on the game.
Completely Yours by Erin NicholasZach, on the other hand, is a hero. An EMT who is working not only to save the lives of others, but to try and keep his family together after the loss of his sister. His mother's alcoholism has gotten worse and all his youngest sister does is mope around playing online. He knows that can't be healthy.
But Zach and Kiera meet when her friends drag her out (they promise anywhere she wants to go so she chooses the local gaming Con) and the ceiling of the roof collapses. When Zach sees Kiera, she's literally sparkling from gold paint. And then... it gets a bit ooky. He's described as wanting to be "in the center" where all the action is (this is a real EMT feeling, especially for those who go in because they want to "save lives" rather than help people and fits in with Zach's personality) but then he gets distracted  from his job, his job to save hurt people, by Kiera. Yes, I get that EMTs can't be laser focused the whole time, but most of the ones I've worked with are. At least the good ones and that's what I think Zach is supposed to be set up as.
Don't get me wrong. I liked that he was flawed. And I liked that even though he was trying to save his sister, he was doing it in a wrong way that he didn't see. I also liked that she was trying to save him right back. But the whole way that Zach and Kiera's relationship started was... not good. And I liked that Nicholas included the notion that not always being online is bad because you can form real relationships with people. But Oh. My. God. It was repeated over and over and over again. A lighter touch might have made the message more powerful.
Overall, I really did like this story and appreciated what Nicholas was trying to do. I'm looking forward to reading about Kiera's roommates.

Three stars
This book comes out December 20

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

The Princess Diarist by Carrie FisherI really wanted to like this book better. I've been on a great kick of autobiographies and I love Carrie Fisher IRL so I was looking forward to this story. It was hyped as a book about Fisher's time filming Star Wars but was mostly vague comments about the affair she had with Harrison Ford and some touches of what it was like growing up as the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. There are some excerpts from her journals but, as a nineteen-year-old, Fisher had not yet developed the wit that she has today and a lot of it was more of the vague sighing over a love affair that, the way she writes it, was mainly sex with very little else.

Three Stars
This book came out November 22

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Lake District Murder by John Bude

The Lake District Murder by John BudeInspector Meredith is up against a doozy of a case. A young man, who seems to have everything to live for (a lovely fiancee, a thriving business) is found dead in his home, apparently of suicide. But it doesn't appear that way to Meredith and it turns out he's correct.
This is an interesting story that shows all of the work that Meredith has to go through to get to the solution. We also get to see all of the wrong answers he goes through which is nice, he's not just an omniscient detective.
A decent story that I actually made it through pretty quickly. Nothing fantabulous but just a nice story.

Three stars
This book is re-issued tomorrow

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Miss Silver Mysteries by Patricia Wentworth

I've heard a couple of podcasts from the Classic Mysteries podcast about Miss Silver so I was excited to have a chance to get an ARC from the publisher.

Grey Mask
Charles has been exploring the world after a rather nasty breakup and has just now returned home. Only his caretakers aren't there. But someone else is. It's a man in a grey mask. Charles is able to watch the man unobtrusively and sees and hears what sounds like a plot for murder. And one of the people he sees is his ex-fiancee, Margaret Langton. He follows her and is soon involved in a plot involving an heiress, who may or may not be legitimate (if she's not, her horrible cousin Egbert will inherit), secret societies, and blackmail. He applies to Miss Maude Silver for help.
You might assume that Miss Silver would be similar to Miss Marple. And she is; an older woman, quiet, unassuming, unobtrusive. But she starts the series as a detective. And she is not in most of the book. Instead, the main character is Charles and he's the one our omniscient third person narrator follows around as he tries to figure out what is going on.
It was a nice book; fast, fun, and fluffy with just a touch of the overdramatic. The women in it were rather silly but a lot of that was because they were only being told parts of the story which was incredibly frustrating.

The Case is Closed
An interesting story in which a large part is given through transcripts of a court case.
The book opens with Hilary sitting on the wrong train, fuming because the sight of her ex-fiance put her there. Seeing Henry again threw her off so much that she entered the wrong carriage. Then the woman across the way starts talking and it turns out she was the housekeeper whose evidence went a long way toward putting Hilary's cousin's (Margaret) husband, Geoffrey Grey, in jail for the murder of his uncle. Hilary isn't quite sure why the woman is talking to her but it does send her to the house she lives in with her cousin to read the inquest and try to decipher what Mrs. Mercer was trying to say.
While she start this deciphering, she begins to have hope that Geoff might still be proved innocent. And when Geoffrey's cousin and Mrs. Mercer's husband start trying to make the woman seem mad, it lends credence to this hope.
Ugh. Henry is definitely a symbol of his times, overbearing and rather paternalistic toward Hilary. I was glad that she seemed to stand up to him in the beginning but was wondering how their marriage would actually turn out in the end.

Lonesome Road
Acceding to a promise made on her father's deathbed, Rachel Treherne has changed her will every year. Only this year is a little different. This year, it appears that someone is trying to kill her so Rachel has come to Maud Silver for help. Maud tells Rachel to do two things: go to the police and change her will. Rachel doesn't want to do either since it might hurt her family. Yes, even though it is someone in the family who is probably trying to kill her.
There are several suspects, her sister and brother-in-law and their children, three cousins, and her long-time companion. It will be up to Maud to untangle this tangled  web.
Like the other books in this series, the prevailing attitudes about women are frustrating and the ending is overwrought but it is a nice example of the books of the time.

Three stars
This book came out in June

Thursday, December 1, 2016

This Is Our Song by Samantha Chase

This Is Our Song by Samantha ChaseRiley Shaughnessy is a big time rock star. He recently stepped back from his band to prove that he could handle a solo career. But... he's recently hit a brick wall on his song writing. His label is about to dump him but agree that he can have another chance as long as he participates in a month-long interview that will put him back in the public's eye. And not for being known as the least-talented of his band mates.
Savannah Daly is the reporter picked to do the interview. She's peeved because that means she's going to be bumped from a Cold Play article that she's been researching for the past month. Her first meeting with Riley is an accidental one when he quite literally bumps into her at a restaurant. Then she saves him from a rabid group of fans. When he finds out who she is, he assumes that their meeting wasn't accidental. And this is a continuing theme in their relationship. He assumes that she's all about the job, cools off and acts like a jerk, and then eventually figures out that he's being a jerk. And that was sort of boring. To see Riley make the same mistake over and over again and having Savannah apologize because he's hurt....
I think most regular Chase readers will not be disappointed but I was hoping for a little better from Riley.

Three stars
This book comes out December 6
Follows Always My Girl
Followed by Sky Full of Stars

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Size Matters by Alison Bliss

Size Matters by Alison BlissSam Cooper just got out of a doozy of a relationship and he's not looking for anything else right now. Not even a night of comfort. Until he meets the emerald eyes of a curvy brunette and then her friend comes over and picks up his friend Max. Too bad he opens his big mouth and the brunette seems to think he's rejecting her based on her size.
Leah knows she's not a size 2. Her ex dumped her because she was too big and her mother mentions her size every time they talk. So she's not surprised when the hot guy at the bar rejects her. It's par for the course. What's surprising is that he comes back to apologize. And then somehow announces to her mother that they're engaged. So now Sam has to help Leah back up his story since he's the one who got her into this mess in the first place. That includes a weekend at her grandparents' place at the beach.
This was a fast, fun, and fluffy story. Like one of Leah's confections, this is sweet but without a lot of substance. Leah and Sam fall in love and get engaged over the course of... a week? We don't get to know them much other than Leah  is not a fan of her size but that Sam is and he wants to save her.
I am looking forward to more books in this series. Especially if Leah's friend/bakery buddy, Valerie, gets to find her own man.

Three stars
This book came out November 29

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Jed and the Junkyard War by Steven Bohls

Jed's parents have been doing strange things like dropping him off in the middle of Yellowstone and expecting him home in eleven hours since he was a kid. So when he wakes up one morning and all that's left is a note telling him to crawl through a tunnel with a backpack full of batteries and water bottles and an unusual watch to wait for his grandfather. Finally, he realizes what they've been doing all those years.
But the tunnel leads to an unusual new world. One where batteries are currency and the sky rains junk. It's a new world and Jed is fighting just to survive.
A really nice build up and great world building. Too bad the ending was sooooo flat.

Three stars
This book comes out December 6

Monday, November 28, 2016

Deadly Treasures by Vivian Conroy

Deadly Treasures by Vivian ConroyLady Alkmene grew up with a somewhat peripatetic existence, moving from house to house while her father was on botanical explorations and after her mother died. One boy that never seemed to care was Duncan Woolsbury. He used to torment her and Alkmene used to do her best to get even. Now Duncan is  getting older and his parents are afraid that he's never going to get married and present an heir to the viscountcy. They want Alkmene to present herself as a candidate to be his wife. She's very excited to travel to some far away place like Egypt or the Himalays. Unfortunately, it turns out he's excavating a medieval village in Cornwall.
When she arrives, Duncan is being held in between two constables. It seems a man was killed on the work site, his head bashed in with Duncan's own hammer. And there is a lot of intrigue around the site, supposedly there is a pile of gold buried somewhere in the castle. Duncan may have found some of it but there are plenty of people that would like for him to fail. So was the man killed because of something he did or to prevent Duncan?
I would have liked to see more character development in both Lady Alkmene and Jake Dubois. We're in book three and they're pretty much the same people we met in the first book.

Three stars
This book came out November 21

Sunday, November 27, 2016

In Bed with the Georgians by Mike Rendell

In Bed with the Georgians by Mike RendellI thought the idea for this book was interesting. And the execution was okay. The division of the chapters was interesting but allowed for a LOT of repetition and overlap. The decision to put almost all of the illustrations into an appendix was definitely odd and really difficult to flip back and forth in an ebook. If you like history or would like to learn more about the Georgian period, this was an okay book. The writing was readable if not particularly exciting and the idea was a good one.

Three stars
This book came out November 21

Saturday, November 26, 2016

One Sexy Mistake by Sarah Ballance

One Sexy Mistake by Sarah BallanceI haven't read the other books in the series but didn't feel like I missed anything because of it. The book opens with both Olivia and Grady swiping right on Tinder and agreeing to a one night stand. But, since this is a romance novella, there are complications. In the form of a big storm. And the fact that Grady kinda-sorta already knows Olivia but he doesn't tell her that. Or that he helped cost her a job. And the fact that the ending is over-the-top stalker-weirdness. It was a quite lovely novella until then and I liked that Olivia and Grady were forced to get to know each other and that they seemed to have a good connection. But Grady's ideas of romance are not only creepy, they're illegal and took me right out of the story. And, of course, there's the whole "would this book fall apart if these two sat down and talked to each other the answer is yes" issue. 
I will definitely try Ballance again. I just did NOT like this book.

Two and a half stars
This novella comes out on November 28

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries

Somehow, I seem to have read this novella before but it wasn't labeled as a re-issue. I kept wondering what happened with Amanda Keane but I apparently knew? This is the novella that is the most danger-boniest of danger-boners.
The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina JeffriesStephen is a reporter who is trying to change the world. He knows that the mill situations are dangerous for the workers and he is writing scathing articles. He wants to take some heat off by writing about Amanda Keane, owner of a factory in America but she keeps dodging him. Now he has tracked her down to a house party. And there, he meets a woman who is not at all what he expected. She may be the one person who can tame his fiery articles and teach him a new way to fight.
It's a novella so there's not a huge chance for the romance to develop. Mostly just a fight-fight-kiss.

Three stars
Comes out November 28

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wild at Whiskey Creek by Julie Anne Long

Wild at Whiskey Creek by Julie Anne LongGlory Greenleaf comes from the wrong side of the tracks. Her family is poor and her brother has been arrested for running meth. Arrested by Eli Barlow no less, Jonah's childhood best friend. Well, all three of them used to run around together. This occurred pretty much right after Glory (Glory Hallelujah, no less) and Eli had one explosive night together. Of course, now that's all over.
Their paths cross again when Eli is called to the bar Glory is working at because there is a very serious poker game in which Glory seems to be the prize. She mostly rescues herself but then Eli also steps in.
Franco Francone, apparently self-absorbed movie star, is back in this book. This time, he too is hitting on Glory. He, of course, means nothing by it, not wanting a real relationship but we do get to see a bit more of the man. Hints at depth were in the first book and we see more here.
We also hear about Glory's talent (singing and songwriting) and her struggles to go further with it.
This was an okay story. It was nice to see Eli and Glory work their way back to each other but I never quite bought them as a pair.

Three stars
This book comes out November 29
Follows Hot in Hellcat Canyon
Followed by Dirty Dancing at Devil's Leap

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

When All The Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz

The book opens, not unlike many of Krentz's contemporaries, with a murder. We see it through the eyes of the killer. And it seems rather obvious who the killer is as the book goes on, but this is a Krentz novel.
When All The Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann KrentzTo that end, we do get a hero and heroine. Max Cutler is a former profiler. A case went horribly wrong, stirring up ghosts from his past, and he decided (or the decision was made) for him to leave D.C. He ended up in Seattle, working as a private investigator. His current case involves a dead woman who the police believe to have died from an overdose. Her cousin isn't so sure. He things it's murder.
Normally Charlotte Sawyer considers herself fairly boring. She works in a nursing home as an the activities coordinator. It's true that her former fiance left her at the altar, but she's working to get over that.  Charlotte step-sister, Jocelyn, says that she is too trusting, and Charlotte agrees. But it doesn't follow that she is also stupid.
Max and Charlotte's paths cross when Charlotte, watching Jocelyn's house while she's on a tech-free month-long retreat, is the one who picks up the package sent to Jocelyn from the dead woman.  A packages that sends her on an adventure.
Regular Krentz readers will definitely enjoy the book. It's very much in the rhythm of her recent contemporaries. The love story was a bit fast and furious and the multiple "epilogues" were a bit tedious but overall a fast and fun read. I do hope we get to hear about Max's brothers, Cabot and Jack and find out whether the guru Zane really did die.
Three and a half stars
This book comes out November 29

Monday, November 21, 2016

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

So, on my Goodreads review, I rounded up my review of this ARC from three and a half stars to four because it just generally gave me good feels. I was a bit disappointed that I could tell you how the whole story would play out after the first 1/4 of the book
Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan I just kept thinking "Oh, wouldn't it be nice if [this romance convention] were turned on its head and the characters didn't just do what all romance characters do?" And yet, as I mentioned, this was still a fast, fun, and fluffy read for me that generally made me smile at the end. Even with the not-so-subtle introduction, reintroduction, and further mention of the Bark Ranger twins and their hot-to-trot brother Daniel.
Eva Jordan works for Urban Genie, a company that can make your life easier. She's blue because it's the holidays and this is the second year that her grandmother won't be around (I think it's the second year? She says her grandmother died "last year in the fall" which should indicate a second round of holidays). However, Eva begins this book by deciding to change her attitude, starting with the decorations that she's going to put up in the home of a famous author while he's away working on his book.
Luke Blade hates the holidays for a good reason. His wife died during a storm three years ago. The woman that he had loved (sort of off-and-on) since kindergarten. Theirs was a love story to stand the test of time. At least according to his biography. But this year he's hit writer's block and hard. So when a short, cute, and stacked blonde (this comes up an awful lot) sneaks into his apartment, he is not amused. But then he finds out that his grandmother sent her and then she starts to spark his creativity. He decides to hire her as his muse (and personal chef) so that he can finish his book on schedule.
Generally, books where one of the characters (usually the hero) says they can't love and then their partner (generally a heroine) gets all upset because "he won't love me" (which he's been telling you the whole book, why wouldn't you believe him?) engender a real sense of rage within me (see Book #2 of the Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts) but at least this one got cleared up pretty fast. Like I mentioned at the beginning of the book, I can't explain why this book gave me such good feels when I have so many issues but it did and I can recommend it to others who have enjoyed the "From Manhattan with Love" series and regular contemporary romance readers.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out November 29
Follows Sunset in Central Park
Followed by New York, Actually

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Holiday with a Twist by Shannon Stacey

Holiday with a Twist by Shannon StaceyLeigh Holloway is heading home for the holidays. Her parents are under a lot of stress, they're moving to a condo from their family farmhouse and her sister, who just had a baby, has left her cheating husband is living with them. So Leigh doesn't want to tell them that, not only did she and her boyfriend break up, she's out of a job. She's afraid that if two out of her parents three daughters are out of work and out of a relationship, they might try and make her stay on the east coast rather than going back to Texas.
Croy (short for Croydon and very hard to read as I kept seeing "Cory" and then having to correct) isn't stoked that Leigh is in town. They used to be good friends but when she convinced the third of their trio, his girlfriend, to move down to Florida with her, the girlfriend ended up finding a new guy. This led to a giant fight between Croy and Leigh. Of course, it has been eight years so he's mostly over it. And noticing how much Leigh has blossomed through the years. Soon they're involved in an undefined relationship that they're having to keep quiet so that Leigh's parents don't think that she's cheating on the ex.
I didn't love the ending and, like with most novellas, wish that we could have seen a little more growth with the characters but it was a nice short story that I think most Shannon Stacey readers will enjoy.
Major props for the note saying that the book will end with at about the 80% mark so we weren't expecting more. I was SO impressed that somebody finally put something like that in.

Three stars
This novella comes out November 21

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

One Mistletoe Wish by A.C. Arthur

One Mistletoe Wish by A.C. ArthurMorgan Hill is a teacher, widow, and mother of five-ear-old twins. She isn't looking for love. Especially not with a big city business man who is only in town to sell off the buildings he owns, many of which are used heavily by the community, a community that Morgan loves.
Grayson Taylor doesn't love Temptation. It was a town that thrived off of the reality show that was he and his five siblings, sextuplets. Unfortunately, their reality show tore apart his parent's marriage. Now, as the oldest, he's been elected to take care of his father's estate. But he's intrigued by the woman that he sees. And he seriously falls in love with her children. 
I really liked the world building and the story but the writing was a bit... rough. and really dragged in places. I hope Arthur gets a better editor because I'm really looking forward to reading more of her stories.

Three stars
This book comes out November 22

Monday, November 14, 2016

All the Dead Girls by Rita Herron

All the Dead Girls by Rita HerronI didn't realize that this book was #3 in a series but the author had a deft touch with adding enough information from the previous books to let you know about Graveyard Falls but without overwhelming the reader.
Beth Fields is an FBI profiler and a former survivor of a serial murderer. When it appears that the man who killed her friend but let her go is back at it, Beth wants to go back and figure out what's going on.
Local sheriff Ian Kimball also wants to find the killer since the man who raised him, his stepfather, was the man who was blamed. The local coach, his stepfather later escaped from prison.
The two have to work together to figure out who buried dozens of girls with white candles and crosses and whether this is the same man who abducted Beth so many years ago.
This was an okay read but somewhat disjointed. Not so much the story as the sentences. And the romance felt less like a part of the story as something that was tacked on as a "hey, mystery reader like some romance too" kinda deal.

Three stars
This book comes out November 22

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Christmas Challenge by Sinclair Jayne

I rarely read books set in Montana because I live here and I hate it when authors get it wrong. This book didn't get it wrong because there wasn't much mentioned about the area at all, which was ironically disappointing. It sounded like the author was trying to set up a fictional town right in my area and it would have been nice to get a deeper sense of place, a description of the mountains, the wilderness. Instead, it was just a bunch of names, some that were real and that weren't. Bummer.
The Christmas Challenge by Sinclair JayneAlso disappointing was the disconnectedness of the story. It seemed more like a series of vignettes somewhat sewn together. There was just SO MUCH going on that it was hard to really get a handle on what it was that really brought Tucker and Laird together.
Tucker is back in Marietta to try and patch up her relationship with her twin sister Tanner. See, Tucker's been sort of the wild child, wandering the states being a rodeo star and trying to make it in Hollywood. She also "knew" Tanner's fiance. Like, in the biblical sense. And she even tried to get him back after the two were involved. So now she's back and trying to heal old wounds. Needing all the help she can get, she stops off at Miracle Lake. While she's there, she meets Laird who is in town trying to figure out what happened to his fraternal twin. See, Laird was adopted from a teenage girl who had two babies but he didn't know until recently and he's not even sure his twin survived. The reader can figure it out pretty darn fast and it's sort of annoying how long it's drawn out. In fact, I wish that had been shortened to make more room for the story between Tanner and Laird. It was just a bit superficial. Wish we had seen more of what made them want to be together other than explosive chemistry.

Two stars
This book comes out November 15

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Duke of Deception by Darcy Burke

Aquilla Knox has carefully crafted a persona over the past five seasons that will make her unappealing to suitors. In fact, she wouldn't even be here this year except that Lady Satterfield offered to sponsor her. And now she's accidentally locked herself out of a party and it's the Duke of Deception, actually the Earl of Sutton who comes to her rescue.
The Duke of Deception by Darcy BurkeEdward "Ned" Bishop is known around town for breaking hearts. He leads debutantes on, testing them without their knowledge, but never actually proposes. He's just about to decide whether to propose to a girl when he meets Aquilla. The real Aquilla, not her persona. He is intrigued. Not especially because his family has the DRAMA and he thinks she might be up for it.
I did not like the overly secretive nature of this book. Aquilla had secrets from Ned, she had secrets from her friends and from the readers. Ned had a ton of secrets as well. And with so much going on, the story seemed somewhat fragmented. Especially since there's a former suitor of Aquilla's and a disappointed father that are also upping the dramatic factors of this story. And, quite frankly, the ending is wrapped up just a little too fast and way to quickly.

Three stars
This book comes out November 15
Follows The Duke of Daring

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Bridesmaid and the Bachelor by Kris Fletcher

The Bridesmaid And The Bachelor by Kris FletcherI do like novellas where the H/H knew each other before so we don't get a massive case of insta-lust. Kyrie Elias and Ben Sitka had a short, week-long affair years ago. But Kyrie knew it couldn't last, so she left without saying goodbye.
Now she's at the wedding of her sister's friend and she's pretending to be her twin. See, her sister was in Vegas for a wedding and fell in love. But the bride was already approaching 'zilla status so Paige called in Kyrie to fill in. Paige will then forgive Kyrie the loans she gave her so Kyrie could open a coffee bar/jazz venue. So when Kyrie realizes that the groom's brother is Ben, she tries to fake it at first. But Ben knows her well enough to realize she's not her sister. And they use their time to get to know each other better.
It was a little stilted in places and some major relationship things were glossed over but this was an fast, fun and fluffy read that sets up the world of Calypso Falls.

Three stars
This book comes out November 15

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Murder Underground by Mavis Doriel Hay

Miss Pongleton was not a well-liked woman. She was cheap and somewhat mean, even walking to the next London Underground station to save a penny on fares. Once there she would be one of the few commuters using the stairs while the rest waited for the elevator.
Even though she wasn't the friendliest person, it still came as something of a shock when she was found on those stairs strangled. With her dog's leash no less.
Murder Underground by Mavis Doriel HayHer renters are shocked and immediately start guessing what might have happened. Of course, the police arrest the wrong man first but then seem somewhat befuddled. We get a look at the strange movements of the woman's nephew and supposed heir (but is he really?) as well as the ways that his friends and family are helping him.
It was an odd sort of mystery not really fairly clued (until the very end) and definitely from the "classic" era of mysteries and indeed, I learned of it from the Classic Mysteries podcast.

Three stars
This book came out November 1

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Lost Property Office by James R. Hannibal

The Lost Property Office by James R. HannibalJack Buckles, American, is in London with his mother and sister trying to find out what happened to his father, a man who was reported dead but now they can't seem to find his body. While Jack's mother goes out to search the hospitals and morgues, Jack is supposed to stay in the hotel with his eight-year-old sister. But when she sees a man that looks like their father and runs out of the hotel. Jack finally finds her but a sinister man rushes them into a nearby building, the Lost Property Office. There he meets Mrs. Hudson, who is in charge of helping people find lost items and people and she seems to be really in love with forms and making sure they're filled out. Jack is about to leave but it stopped by Gwen Kincaid who introduces him to the real Lost Property Office, the one that his father is part of, a world where Jack's apparent ADHD is really a superpower.
This is a great book for world-building -- explaining Jack's role as the 13th Jack Buckle, combining history and current day, showing how Gwen and Jack would work together in the future. I've been reading a lot of Sherlock Holmes adaptations and this one really worked for me. Sally, the sister, was WAY too plot-moppet-y but there are signs that she may grow some character in later books.

Four stars
This book comes out November 8

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Lord’s Persuasion of Lady Lydia by Raven McAllan

The Lord's Persuasion of Lady Lydia by Raven McAllanLady Lydia has worked hard to make herself known as a wallflower. At twenty-five, she only has a couple more weeks until she inherits her own money and can finally leave London to live in the country on her own. Unfortunately, she's lately come under the notice of Lord Harry Birnham.
What brings her into his notice is first an encounter where one of his friends accidentally clocks her and he realizes that she may be hiding more fire than is shown by her outer mask. Secondly, his heir declares that he is going to marry Lady Lydia without ever having talked to her. This makes Harry rather suspicious since he is also getting reports that his heir has run up big debts and is currently telling everyone that he's about to come into some money which means he's either going to marry or that he's planning to bump Harry off.
I liked the beginning of this story but the back half fell off for me. It felt like it just wasn't as tightly edited as the start of the story. Suddenly Lydia and Harry are engaged after incredible lengths not to get engaged and there's no real reason for Lydia to have changed her mind. The denouement with the nephew is a bit squirrelly and it just felt unfinished. But it was an overall an okay book.

Three stars
This book came out Oct. 27

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Whole Latte Murder by Caroline Fardig

A Whole Latte Murder by Caroline Fardig
Juliet and the Java Jive crew are back. After the events of the last book, Juliet's best friend, boss, and probably the man she'll end up with, Pete, is surly. Super surly. It's a good thing there's a serial killer on campus who is helping to shake things up. Well, maybe it's not that good since Juliet's boyfriend has just been promoted to the homicide division which means that he's going to be chasing someone really dangerous. Oh. And Juliet, along with her friend Trevor, discovers the first body. And the body is of a girl who Trevor adored and he was the last person seen with her. More and more stress is heaped on Juliet as one of her employees is the next woman to disappear and one of her old friends gets dragged into the case.
I said this in the last book but I have to repeat it. Caroline Fardig is somehow magic. She took a character that I really, really, really don't like (Juliet) and made a book that was worth reading. I mean, Juliet really is TSTL. I barely made it through the first third of the book as Juliet yelled at her POLICE DETECTIVE boyfriend for... doing his job, she helped with a B and E, vacillated between doormat-ship and being a "red-headed she-devil", and basically proved that she is in love with Pete but dating someone else. I am just so irritated by this will they/won't they that has invaded so many contemporary cozies. Frankly, I hope that she takes the job offered at the end of the book and gets out of the Java Jive so she can finally get over Pete and go to just being friends. I am glad that I finished this book but hope that Juliet starts to get a bit smarter in all areas of her life.

Three stars
This book comes out November 8
Follows Mug Shot
Followed by Brew or Die

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Haunted Is Always in Fashion by Rose Pressey

Cookie Chanel, proprietress of It's Vintage Y'all and a psychic who sees ghosts, is back with another mystery. The book opens with the death of a young woman that Cookie was supposed to be meeting, Julianna. She is a ghost who immediately gets picked up by Cookie and her rather permanent ghost, Charlotte.
Haunted Is Always in Fashion by Rose PresseyThe story of this book is figuring out why Julianna got killed as much as who killed her. We also get to learn a bit more about Wind Song, the cat that Cookie has picked up.
I really hate that this series is starting to fall into the "if this is a cozy, there must be a love triangle" trap. It really felt like Ken was being shoehorned into the story, it really didn't make sense that he was there most of the time. In fact, there was a lot of making characters fit into the story which made for a lot of "coincidences" that got a bit annoying.
Overall a good book. I just hope they dump one of the love interests soon so we can get back to the mysteries with just a sprinkle of romance.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out November 29
Follows Haunt Couture and Ghosts Galore

Hold Me, Cowboy by Maisey Yates

Madison West made a mistake when she was seventeen; she had an affair with a married man. He, of course, turned it around on her and made her a pariah among the horse community. It's been  a long time since she's had sex with anyone else and she's ready. She's made plans for a no-strings-attached weekend with a sales rep in a cabin far out of town. Too bad it's snowing so hard. And now her cabin has lost power. And the person in the other cabin is none other than Sam McCormack.
Sam doesn't like Madison. He's dated women like her before and it didn't end well. Too bad he's so attracted to her.
They make an agreement for one night. An agreement that leads to twelve nights. They'll break up at Christmas. But what if they both want more?
There was a Big Misunderstanding that was disappointing and I'm not a huge fan of the fast and furious romance but I mostly liked both Madison and Sam and their growth in this book.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out November 8

Monday, October 31, 2016

One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis

One Snowy Night by Jill ShalvisRory Andrews doesn't remember Max Stranton from high school but he sure remembers her. In a gender reversal from The Trouble with Mistletoe, this time, the girl done the guy wrong. It seems that Rory's high school home life wasn't great and she was being picked on at school. Her attempt at retaliation accidentally included taking out the life Max Stranton had planned for himself. And then she ran, leaving Max to face the fallout, and she never even knew. Now, she needs his help to get back to Lake Tahoe in time for her first Christmas with her family in six years. She's disappointed them before so she doesn't want to be late. Too bad there's a blizzard that is leaving them trapped with Max's dog, Carl along for the ride.

This was okay but, as a novella, not enough time to really get to know or fall in love with the characters. Both Rory and Max felt a little stock to me with not enough time to explore how they got from their teenage selves to their nowadays selves.

Three Stars
This novella comes out November 8
Follows The Trouble with Mistletoe
Followed by Accidentally on Purpose

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fatal Passion by Adrian Vincent

A collection of true-crime stories ripped from the headlines across time and place. The author has re-written the stories so they have more of a fictional flavor but with true story realness. I wish we had been given a list of footnotes or even just a bibliography so that we could know what kind of research went into these stories. There was a LOT of details to these stories but no clue about how much the author knew and how much was artistic license. The writing was okay but was rather repetitive after awhile. Stories that should have been SO interesting got lost under too much detail.

Three stars
This book came out October 14

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Miracle of Meditation by Ryuho Okawa

The Miracle of Meditation by Ryuho OkawaI should have read the description a bit more and clued in that this was going to be a meditation book with a religious bent. Nothing against it, just not my meditation style. I didn't count that against the book though. To be warned though, this goes beyond a low-level religious bent and talks about guardian spirits and stray animal spirits, things that not everyone will be on board for.
It's not anything really radical in the world of meditation, just a nice book that outlines not only what meditation is but also provides some really nice examples to use while practicing. The Q&A is definitely a little more "out-there" but some readers may feel comfortable with that. Very much reminds me of the teachings of Elizabeth Clare Prophet.

Three stars
This book comes out November 1

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Danger of Desire by Sabrina Jeffries

The Danger of Desire by Sabrina JeffriesIn The Study of Seduction, Warren Corry, Marquess of Knightford, was trying to protect his cousin Clarissa by asking his best friend Edwin to keep an eye on her. Now Clarissa is asking Warren to help her by keeping an eye on her friend, Miss Delia Trever. It seems Clarissa's brother died and left the family in debt. Now Delia's aunt has given her a dowry in the hopes of finding her a husband but Delia is acting strangely; slipping out of rooms, falling asleep at balls, avoiding house parties. Clarissa wants to see her friend so she wants to know what's going on.
Delia Trevor doesn't want to get married. It might mean saving herself but its not going to save her family. And she wants to make sure that her sister-in-law and nephew are taken care of as well. Then Warren starts getting in her way.
Not my favorite Jeffries book. I thought both Warren and Delia's problems were well-built up and then far to hastily solved. I get the tie-in with Delia's family problems and the banishment of Niall but the way to get them to overlap felt horribly overwrought. An okay addition to the series but I'm much more interested to see what went and will go on with Brilliana (what a name for practically-named-Delia's sister-in-law) and Niall.

Three stars
This book comes out November 22
Followed by The Pleasures of Passion

The Legendary Lord by Valerie Bowman

The Legendary Lord by Valerie BowmanSarah Highgate, the previous Season's Debutante of the Year (or some such, nonsense) has gotten engaged to a handsome Marquess. Unfortunately, he cares and talks about nothing but himself and she's over it. So she runs away to Scotland, to her father's hunting lodge. Except that she doesn't quite make it to the right place. Instead, she ends up at Christian Bancroft, Viscount Berkeley's, lodge. While there, her chaperone breaks her ankle so Christian's winterkeeper takes her into see the doctor, leaving Sarah alone.
Which is exactly when Christian arrives at the lodge. He's a handsome fellow but has been largely overlooked by eligible maidens because he can't talk to beautiful women without stuttering. Luckily, his first meeting with Sarah is so ridiculous he doesn't have issues with her. The two get to spend time together and become closer. But Sarah comes to the realization that she doesn't want to disappoint her parents so Christian helps to concoct a plan that will get her back to London without any scandal.
I really enjoyed the first half of this book, the two getting to know each other was just adorable and it wasn't quite the typical "I'm running away from a horrible marriage" trope, just different enough to be interesting. The second half got a little overwrought for me but I think most "Playful Brides" readers will be pleased with this book.

Three stars
This book comes out November 1
Follows The Untamed Earl

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Someone To Love by Mary Balogh

Someone To Love by Mary BaloghAvery Archer, Duke of Netherby, is not very excited to have been named the guardian of the new Earl of Riverdale. And he is less excited to learn, from the Countess, that the old Earl had been supporting a byblow, a girl. Everyone is shocked to learn that the girl, known as Anna Snow, was actually a legitimate child while the supposed new earl, Harry, and his two sisters, the managing Camille and the pretty-but-bland Abigail, are products of bigamy. Everyone's world is turned upside down. Even Anna who has to leave the only home she's ever known and suddenly step into the world of the haut ton.
As he helps Anna work through her new life, Avery is shocked to learn that he might be falling in love...
I usually like Mary Balogh's books for their gentle pace and love stories. Unfortunately, while this one is in her normal vein, I just didn't see any connection between the two of them. It was a good start to a series, with plenty of sequel bait (Camille and Anna's friend from the orphanage?). It just suffered from the problem of too much setup, not enough story.

Three stars
This book comes out November 1
Followed by Someone to Hold

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Epic Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce

Epic Big Nate by Lincoln PeirceA look back at the Big Nate comics over the years including an interview with Lincoln Peirce (done by Jeff Kinney, of "Wimpy Kid" fame), a brief history of the strip, and then several examples of the strips from 1991-2015 peppered with comments from Peirce about how he came up with ideas or how characters evolved.
The foreward to this book was certainly interesting. It took a very "Behind the Music" tone. I even heard Casey Kasem's voice as I was reading it, "After 18 years, 'Big Nate' had become an overnight sensation" (not a real quote).
But this was was definitely a fun read though I would recommend the hard copy, NOT the eversion. Reading this on a smaller screen was incredibly difficult, having to make the text big enough to read and then having to scroll, shift the screen, scroll, get to a new page, and then scroll took a lot out of the experience.

Four and a half stars
This book comes out October 25

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Little Luck, A Lot of Fate by Linn B. Halton

A Little Luck, A Lot of Fate by Linn B. HaltonThis book is told in alternating first-person viewpoints from Kristi and Tom who used to live next door and have grown up to be... well. It's interesting. Kristi seems to think of Tom as a friend (at least in the first few chapters) while Tom describes Kristi as his girlfriend (they are, indeed, dating). There are also some chapters from Patrick, a tarot card reader who Kristi reaches out to for help.
You see, Kristi is an incredibly successful modern living guru and she's been working non-stop for the last ten years. Suddenly (literally) there's a Voice that tells her to stop and take time. So she decides on a four month sabbatical. Time to create a book that will tell the world that her life is not as picture perfect as it seems. And time to figure out how her life should work since perfection isn't working for her.
Tom is an artist. A very surly artist who has built a self-sustaining cabin to help stay away from the world. He is seemingly a very good artist but can't get the voice of his overbearing father out of his head. He loves Kristi for all that she's done for him but he's worried that their relationship is changing.
This was a nice book with a somewhat strange ending. And I have to admit that I was trying to stretch my reading horizons a bit so a blonde heroine who is just trying to figure out her life was a bit disappointing but I did end up finding a new-to-me publisher that I think I will enjoy.

This book comes out October 25
Four stars

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Study In Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

There seem to be an abundance of mysteries setting Sherlock homes to have actually been a woman. There's at least one other one where her name is Charlotte. But this series is a little bit different. It's told in alternating third person viewpoints between Charlotte Holmes, her sister Olivia (Livia), and Inspector Treadles.
A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry ThomasCharlotte believes herself to be smarter than everyone else in her family, including the father who holds the money. So when she decides to lose her virginity to a now married, ex-suitor, it's very calculated. What she didn't count on was being discovered by the man's wife. And his mother. Or that his mother would die the next day. Or that her sister would be blamed having gone to the woman's house the night before to confront her. She decides to set off on her own and quickly discovers that it is not going to be as easy as she assumed. The world does not have time for intelligent women. Well, except for one man, her childhood friend Lord Ingram.
Lord Ingram was the one to introduce Inspector Treadles to "Sherlock Holmes," the man who has helped him solve a case or two. So when Holmes points out the connection between the newly deceased mother, another Lady, and a gentleman from the country, Treadles listens.
Luckily, there is one other person who seems to appreciate Charlotte's talents, a former dancer named Mrs. Jebediah. At least, that is the alias she uses. She's really more well-known as Mrs. John Watson.
I really enjoyed the way this story was put together. Mrs. Watson, like the fictional male before her, brings talents to Charlotte that she doesn't otherwise have. Unlike Sherlock (at least usually), Charlotte at least seems to understand her value. Also with their relationship, there was a possibility of a Big Misunderstanding but it was nicely avoided. I'm very much looking forward to the next book in the series.

This book comes out October 18
Four stars
Followed by A Conspiracy in Belgravia

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Diamonds of Death by Vivian Conroy

Diamonds of Death by Vivian ConroyThe book opens with a cat burglar (literally) stumbling upon a dead body. When the noise summons the household servants, they immediately jump to the conclusion that he is the killer. Jack Dubois feels differently and he enlists the help of Lady Alkmene since the dead man was married to Alkmene's aunt (her mother's half-sister.)
Alkmene is nervous about visiting a house of mourning, especially since she hasn't met Amy of her cousins before. And what she finds is astonishing. Her oldest cousin Albert is married to Helena, a woman who immediately resents Alkmene's arrival. His younger brother George is resentful of not being the heir and has a strange relationship with Helena. Her cousin Ann had written Alkmene several letters since the siblings and their father had returned to England but Alkmene wasn't sure what to do with them. Her father never discussed that side of the family and she gets the feeling that there is a reason why. She's worried it's because her aunt went insane before her death.
A nice addition to the Alkmene series. I like that both Jack and Alkmene are more fleshed out than they were in the first book. Still some slow places but overall a quick and fun read.

Four stars
This book comes out October 17
This book follows A Proposal to Die For
Followed by Deadly Treasures

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

To Love and to Cherish by Lauren Layne

To Love and to Cherish by Lauren LayneOof. After the last book, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read this one. But it was everything I had hoped for Alexis and Logan. Didn't love the ending but the rest of the book... le sigh.
Alexis Morgan met Logan eight years ago when he invested in her elite wedding planning business, the Wedding Belles. Since then, she's come to rely on his friendship. Meanwhile, Logan has been waiting patiently for her to realize that they are meant to be together. But his timeline is suddenly contracted when his father calls to tell Logan that he is retiring three years before Logan thought he would. Both his father and mother would like him to move back to London and take over the family business.
Meanwhile, Alexis' family has some news for her. Her sister is pregnant by her boyfriend of nearly 10 years. The boyfriend being the man that Alexis thought she was going to marry until she saw them fall in love, breaking Alexis' heart. They did the right thing, waiting a year after Alexis and Adam broke up and then talking to her first, but that doesn't mean it didn't hurt. Now Alexis is flying down to Florida for the wedding. And her friends know the perfect way to help her get through this hard time; send Logan down to be her pretend boyfriend.
The "pretend we're in a relationship" trope is not one of my favorites, but it's not my least favorite and I'm glad that Alexis and Logan got their HEA.

Four stars
This book comes out October 18
Follows For Better or Worse

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mistletoe Games by Jaci Burton

Holiday Games
Mistletoe Games by Jaci BurtonA continuation of the Riley family, Liz and Gavin are back at it in this book. And are they at it alot. A lot. A LOT. Yes, they're trying to get pregnant so there's a lot of sex. About as much as a usual Burton book but compressed into a short story.
A good story if you've read the previous books (since most of the story centers around the prep for and Jenna and Tyler's wedding), I think, but otherwise, it's, like, 50% sex and not much else.
Three stars

Holiday on Ice
Stella is a dancer and Trick, a hocky player. They hooked up off and on for about a year but neither was serious and their relationship sort of fizzled when they both got busy. But now they're in the same bar at the same time and the sizzle is still there. Could it be that there's something more?
I love when romance short stories start with a previous relationship; that means that it's not as hard to believe that true love might happen that fast.
Four stars

Hot Holiday nights
Holy menage, Batman! Warn a woman, NetGalley! This part suffered for me because this is NOT one of my favorite romance tropes. I generally like Burton's writing, even if it does get a little more explicit than I like. For the rating, this is my personal opinion. Do I think that regular Burton readers will enjoy the story? Probably. Do I like that Victoria was the leader in initiating this triad? I gave it a whole extra star because of that. I liked that she was confident in herself and her men.
When Victoria Baldwin finally takes a vacation, little does she suspect that she'll be falling in love. And falling in love.
Three stars

Rounding up to three and a half stars
This book comes out October 18

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Death Among Rubies by R. J. Koreto

Death Among Rubies by R.J. KoretoLady Frances is again caught up in murder. This time, she has been asked by two of her friends to attend a house party. The two ladies are fellow suffragettes and lesbian lovers who have just been threatened with death because of their lifestyle. Instead of the ladies ending up dead, it is the father of Gwen, Sir Calleford. Unlike most mysteries, it doesn't seem like he has a lot of enemies. Rather, it seems he had few and it will be a strain to find them. Another complicating issue is the fact that, though everyone was gathered together after dinner, they all left the room at varying points and no one seems to be able to provide a concrete timeline.
I like Lady Frances, she's charging ahead into the new century but isn't an anachronism. I'm looking forward to the next book.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out on October 11
Follows Death on the Sapphire

Deader Homes and Gardens by Angie Fox

Deader Homes and Gardens by Angie FoxVerity Long wasn't sure if she would ever get hired as a ghost hunter but the day has finally come, Lee Treadwell has asked for her house in ridding his family home of ghosts. The ghosts have been around long enough for even Frankie to remember having seen them. It seems Lee's grandfather was a famous Egyptologist and nearly his entire family died within a week, supposedly the work of a curse. First he died, then his daughter, his wife, and then his brother-in-law. The only person who seemed to have escaped the curse was the family's nanny. She drew protective signs on the house but then was horrendously injured by a fire. It is seemingly her life force that is haunting the house but there is also a little girl who seems to be running some pranks on Lee. But someone in that house seems adamant that everyone should be kept out. And when another person seemingly dies from the curse, it's up to Verity to finally put an end to the cycle.
A nice addition to the Verity Long series. LOVE that there are no love triangles cluttering up this contemporary cozy mystery series.

Four stars
This book comes out October 11
Follows The Haunted Heist
Followed by Sweet Tea and Spirits

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Distilled Knowledge by By Brian D. Hoefling, Illustrations by Leandro Castelao

Yep. This is a very, very science-y book. And I am not great at science so it took some deep reading for me to be able to follow. The pictures made it a little easier. I honestly don't know how much I retained but I had fun reading. I think that people who have some knowledge about liquor may not find much in this book but others may find it a bit confusing. At least until the really fun chapters that start around chapter six. Overall, well-written, seems to be well-researched, and entertaining.

Four stars
This book came out October 4

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Christmas Day at the Office by Matt Dunn

A Christmas Day at the Office by Matt DunnThis was everything that I wanted from a British Christmas novel. Though I wouldn't have minded a little more mayhem. I do love a nice, gentle novel that then ranges into mayhem. Anyway.
Everyone at Seek (a search engine company) is on tenterhooks. They've just been bought out by an American firm, iFeel, owned by an eccentric billionaire, Tony A. Wood, who has invited them all to a mystery Christmas party. No one knows what or where it is but it's pretty well spelled out that it's mandatory attendance. Probably so they can all find out that they've been fired.
The people from Seek include Juliet (about to be divorced) and her boss/bed partner Mark. She's just discovered that her divorce is about to go through which should delight Mark because they can finally bring their relationship out into the open. Too bad she also just discovered that she's pregnant. How are they going to deal with that.
Nathan is the firm's Technical Support Manager. He enjoys being a snazzy dresser and is fairly satisfied with his life. Other than still being a little hung up on his ex-girlfriend, Ellie. So why has she emailed him?
Sophie had a crush on Nathan, but he kindly and firmly rejected her. So she's been dating. Online and through apps. But it's been going horribly. Maybe she should just grab a chance with Tony A. Wood.
Calum is dating Mia. He's trying to figure out how to propose. He's worried not only about rejection, but about losing his job. Which is why the call from a headhunter is so enticing.
Just a wonderful peek at one day in the lives of many people with enough of a glimpse at each that you can get a sense of them and realize how it is that they've gotten here and where they're going.

Four stars
This book comes out October 11

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Terrible Beauty by Tasha Alexander

A Terrible Beauty by Tasha AlexanderIt was only a matter of time until Lady Emily's first marriage reared its ugly head. In this case, it's in the form of her first husband. It seems that he wasn't really dead after all and, now, on a vacation to Greece, he has decided to return to Emily's life. Of course, Emily doesn't believe it's him; but the man knows Philip's childhood stories. And he recounts the tale of the first time he met Emily.
As with many of the other Lady Emily books, the main narrative is interwoven with someone else's history, in this case, Philip's. It is here that we learn that Philip has been spending his time at various archaeological digs and has gotten involved in the black market. And it's this involvement that is leading someone to try and kill him.
I'm generally still enjoying the Lady Emily mysteries and I think regular readers will like this book but I feel that they are starting to get just a little repetitive.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out October 11

Monday, October 3, 2016

Searching for Disaster by Jennifer Probst

Searching for Disaster by Jennifer ProbstLike most novellas, this one was just a little too short to really get into the characters as well as develop a good story. And this one had parts that were just a little too twee. Big props for not allowing a Big Misunderstanding though and actually having (well, one of the characters) talk it out.
Isabella MacKenzie was a screw-up. A drug-addicted screw-up. A stark contrast to her sweet and happily married sister Alexa and an especial contrast to her own surgeon twin, Genevieve. When the novella opens, Isabella is trying to calm her demons by hooking up with a guy who has old Hollywood good looks, Liam.
Liam is visiting his little brother in college while he himself is on break from cop school. At a party, he meets and has an epic one night stand with a girl whose demons are close to the surface. He recognizes that and walks away but still, six years later, can't forget Izzy.
In the present day, Izzy is two years clean (thanks to her best friend Raven (the bartender from the Billionaire Builders series?)) and working at Kinnections, the wildly successful dating agency around which the "Searching For" series rotates. When the ladies of the agency talk about setting her up with Stone's partner Devine, Isabella tells them she isn't ready. She's still working on herself. But then she realizes just who Devine is...
I thought Liam was a little too pushy but overall liked that he was (mostly) willing to wait for Izzy to come to her  own conclusions about their relationship. I think regular "Searching For" readers will not be disappointed by this addition to the series.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out September 10