Tag Archives: romance novel

The Bookshop Rescue (Furever Yours Book 9) by Rochelle Alers Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two people hurt by the past and brought together by a shared love for animals find themselves drawn together and forced to face the past in order to have a future in author Rochelle Alers’s “The Bookshop Rescue”, the ninth book in the Furever Yours series.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Bookshop owner—and recently heartbroken—Lucy Tucker never imagined how dramatically life would change once she started fostering Buttercup, a pregnant golden retriever. The biggest change? Growing a lot closer to the businessman next door, Calum Ramsey, especially after the two of them help Buttercup welcome her five puppies into the world. One romantic night later, and they’re expecting a baby of their own! Stunned at first, steadfastly single Calum is now dutifully offering marriage. But Lucy doesn’t need rescuing. She wants the true-blue happy ending they both deserve.

The Review

The emotional growth these two people shared with one another and their own tragic pasts really made this story shine so brightly. The instant attraction they feel for one another and their hesitancy after a painful past and the fears they brought made this story feel real and alive on the page. The small-town setting and intimate setting really allowed the intimacy of the characters and their relationship to thrive and grow in this narrative.

As a pet owner and pet parent, the shared love for the pregnant Golden Retriever and how they took care of the golden retriever together was so amazing to read. It served as a great metaphor for their circumstances later on, as a surprise pregnancy will put these two on a wild and insane journey of romance and responsibility. The balance found between the whirlwind romance of their narrative and the realities of life beyond the initial romance were great to see portrayed here.

The Verdict

Captivating, engaging, and heartwarming, author Rochelle Alers’s “The Bookshop Rescue” is a must-read modern-day romance and an emotional story overall. The intimate nature of this romance and the realism and honesty with which their relationship was examined made this story so entertaining, and the natural progression of their romance will have readers hanging off of the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Hailed by readers and booksellers alike as one of today’s most popular African-American authors of women’s fiction, Ms. Alers is a regular on bestsellers list, and has been a recipient of numerous awards, including the Vivian Stephens Award for Excellence in Romance Writing and a Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award.  Visit her Web site www.rochellealers.com

https://rochellealers.org/

Olympian Heartbreak (Olympian Love Book 2) by Andrya Bailey Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman grapples with the passion and emotions of a whirlwind romance as mystery and intrigue force her to make a choice in author Andrya Bailey’s “Olympian Heartbreak”, the second book in the Olympian Love series.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

This is the sequel to Olympian Passion and not a stand-alone book.

Sabrina found out that Nikos returned to Greece with Maggie and is heartbroken until a surprising invitation to go to Athens gives her hope. Once she reconnects with him, their passion grows stronger.

Nikos takes her to the most romantic places around Athens and even invites her to travel to a newly-discovered archaeological site. Her insecurities increase when she learns he’s hiding a secret from his past, but his friends advise her to be patient if she really loves him.

Their passionate week is suddenly interrupted when Nikos is faced with a tragic situation. Will she make the ultimate sacrifice to help him?

The Review

The author crafted a truly passionate and heartfelt read. The audience will definitely benefit from having read the first book in this series, as several plot lines and characters carry over directly from the first book in this series. The intensity and heat that the more adult and romantic scenes play out will instantly hook romance readers, while the history and culture of this book’s setting (Athens) will add more depth and worldliness to the series and the characters as a whole. 

The character development was crucial to this novel’s main thread plotline. The mixture of fear and hope that runs throughout Sabrina is so palpable, as she feels drawn ever closer to this mysterious and tragically closed-off man, all while she struggles with not only his feelings for her, but the interference of Maggie and the mystery of Nikos and his family as the story progresses. The balance this strikes with Nikos and his reluctance to accept love into his heart, and the hints at past heartbreak and betrayal really settle in the emotional side of this male protagonist in a new and illustrious way.

The Verdict

Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, yet passionately written, author Andrya Bailey’s “Olympian Heartbreak” is a fantastic sequel and the perfect addition to the Olympian Love series. The perfect balance of tense atmospheric buildup between romantic partners and detailed and thoughtful story development made this a true standout and a must-read for fans of romance and drama. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10 

Advertisements

About the Author

Andrya Bailey is an award-winning contemporary romance writer. She enjoys traveling and visiting museums and historical landmarks where she can learn about art and history, which she usually incorporates into her stories. She loves to write love stories with strong alpha males and exotic scenarios – after all, what better romance fantasy is there?

Olympian Passion, the first book in the Olympian Love trilogy, has received a 5-star seal from Readers’ Favorite and is the 2016 New Apple Literary-book Contemporary Romance – Solo Medalist winner. Olympian Heartbreak, the second book, is a 2018 New Apple Literary “official selection” in the romance category.

Follow her Facebook page to find out more at facebook.com/andryabailey and on Twitter: @andyb0810.

Sign up for her newsletter: eepurl.com/dgdaqD

Website: andryabailey.com

Fool Me Once by Ashley Winstead Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

An ambitious communications director finds her dreams suddenly in the hands of the man who broke her heart years ago, (or was it vice versa?), and must find a way of mending broken fences and broken hearts while new sparks begin to fly in author Ashley Winstead’s “Fool Me Once”.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

In this fierce and funny battle of the exes, Ashley Winstead’s FOOL ME ONCE explores the chaos of wanting what you already had.

Lee Stone is a twenty-first-century woman: she kicks butt at her job as a communications director at a women-run electric car company (that’s better than Tesla, thank you) and after work she is “Stoner,” drinking guys under the table and never letting any of them get too comfortable in her bed…

That’s because Lee’s learned one big lesson: never trust men. Four major heartbreaks set her straight, from her father cheating on her mom all the way to Ben Laderman in grad school—who wasn’t actually cheating, but she could have sworn he was, so she reciprocated in kind.

Then Ben shows up five years later, working as a policy expert for the most liberal governor in Texas history, just as Lee is trying to get a clean energy bill rolling. Things get complicated—and competitive as Lee and Ben are forced to work together. Tension builds just as old sparks reignite, fanning the flames for a romantic dustup the size of Texas.

The Review

The author did such an incredible job of crafting a modern-day romance that balanced out the complexities of pursuing meaningful careers in politics with the heated tension of the romance between the protagonist and her romantic interest/workplace rival, Ben. The world-building and atmosphere the author crafted throughout this narrative were brilliantly highlighted by the themes of modern-day relationships and the concept of commitment in a relationship. 

This was the perfect adult romance novel thanks to the brilliant character development this narrative had. The personal hang-ups and struggles each character has throughout this novel felt very realistic and spoke to the struggle many feel as they pursue a professional career as well. The chemistry and heat that develops as the narrative progresses will instantly hook romance readers.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, intriguing, and entertaining, author Ashley Winstead’s “Fool Me Once” is a must-read romance this spring! The perfect read for those who enjoy adult romances that explore a professional rivalry and painful past meets heated chemistry in the present day, the novel delivers both emotionally and narratively, showcasing the author’s immense talent to create the perfect amount of imagery to bring these scenes to life. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

ASHLEY WINSTEAD is an academic turned novelist with a Ph.D. in contemporary American literature. She lives in Houston with her husband, two cats, and beloved wine fridge.

Buy Links: 

BookShop.org

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s 

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @AshleyWinstead

Instagram: @AshleyWinsteadBooks

Goodreads

Advertisements

Here is an Excerpt from “Fool Me Once”

Chapter 3

Grace under Fire

The Texas State Capitol has always reminded me of Daedalus’s labyrinth, large and elaborate and winding. It could be because I was studying Greek myths the first time I toured it at the tender age of eight, and was also plagued by a truly unfortunate sense of direction. But in my defense, the capitol is made of red granite, an oddly exotic color for a government building—something you  might be more likely to find on, say, the isle of Crete. 

As I grew up, both a feminist and an environmentalist in the staunchly red state of Texas, the idea that the capitol building housed a flesh-eating man with a bull’s head struck me less and less as fictional, and more and more as an apt metaphor.  

But today, there was no doubt Ben Laderman—at this very moment, holed up somewhere inside—was my Minotaur. And for all my wine-induced bravado last night, my hands trembled as we walked up the steps to the capitol. 

The truth was, I’d imagined running into Ben a hundred times since we broke up, picturing exactly how I’d react. There was this one time I’d been sitting with my mom and Alexis in an airport parking shuttle, when a man Ben’s height and coloring lugged his suitcase up the steps. For one dizzying second, thinking it was him, my heart had tried to beat its way out of my chest. Even though the man quickly revealed himself to be a Ben imposter, the buzzing adrenaline hadn’t washed out of my veins until hours later, near the end of our flight. 

How surreal that I was minutes away from actually facing him. 

“The idea for today is to introduce Ben to the bill, since he probably hasn’t had time to review it yet, and secure his buy-in.” Wendy was walking beside me—actually, she was strutting beside me like the steps were a runway. Dakota’s chief of staff was long and lean; everywhere she walked, the world seemed to fold itself into a catwalk just for her. She wore an all-black suit, as sharp and quintessentially no-nonsense as she was. 

“Remember, the most important thing we can walk away with is Ben’s enthusiasm.” She cut a glance at me. “I need charm from you. Is that feasible?” 

“Psshh.” I gave her an affronted look. 

If only Wendy knew the truth about what we were walking into. But there was no way in hell I was going to tell her the project we’d been working on for years, the one with the potential to catapult the company to stardom, could go up in flames thanks to my messy dating life. Somehow, I’d managed to convince everyone at work that I was a talented communications professional, concealing any hint of the Lee Stone that existed outside the hours of nine to five. If Wendy—uptight stickler Wendy—knew what I was really like, I’d be fired before I could count to three. 

Within the monochromatic white walls of Lise, I was Lee, or Ms. Stone to junior employees: a take-no-prisoners messaging maven. Outside of Lise, I was Stoner. And never the twain should meet. 

“Lee’s a pro,” said Dakota, winking from my other side. “She already won over the governor. Besides, this is a good bill. The only reason they wouldn’t go for it is politics.” Dakota said the last word with scorn, and I knew why: she’d been fighting politics her whole life. 

Dakota Young was my hero. She was only ten years older than me, but she’d built Lise from the ground up, thanks to her genius inventor’s brain and business savvy. When I first started as Lise’s comms director, the newspapers had called Dakota “the female Elon Musk”—when they mentioned her at all. My first self-assigned task was to inform them that Dakota had designed and produced her electric vehicle five years before Tesla was a twinkle in Elon’s eye, and the only reason the journalists didn’t know was because our patriarchal society dismissed female inventors. Especially Mexican American female inventors. 

The truth was, Dakota had beat Elon to it and designed a car battery pack with twice the capacity of Tesla’s, meaning our vehicles could go as far as a gas car before needing to recharge. And they took less time to do that, too. There was no reason our cars shouldn’t be the clear winner in the e-vehicle market, but we consistently underperformed. My hypothesis was that it came down to our small profile. 

The disparity in attention between Dakota and Elon had inspired one of my best ideas: changing the name of the company from Unified Electric Vehicles—the yawn-worthy UEV for short—to Lise, pronounced “leez,” in honor of Lise Meitner, a nuclear physicist who’d helped discover nuclear fission, only to be excluded from winning the Nobel Prize for it. The award had gone solely to Otto Hahn, her partner. Her male partner, if I even need to say it. 

I’d gambled on my instincts, telling Dakota we shouldn’t shy away from being known as a female-led tech and auto company, but rather call it out as a strength. She’d gambled on me and agreed; the rest was history. The name change had exploded like a bomb in the press. Dakota was featured in Science, the New York Times, Good Morning America—even Fox News, though that might have been because she’s not only a badass female inventor, but with her long, dark hair and hazel eyes, a gift of her Mexican heritage, she’s a beautiful, badass female inventor. 

Since our rebranding, the whole country had been taken with her, as well they should be. Dakota was the smartest person I’d ever met, managing to toe the line of being a total boss while exuding kindness. She was, to put it mildly, my idol. And also, the older sister I’d never had. My feelings for her were totally healthy. 

I had a good track record at Lise, but passing this bill would seal the deal, establishing that I was a leader. If I was successful, I could ask for a promotion to the position I really wanted: vice president of public affairs.

Ever since reading Silent Spring at the age of ten, I’d grown up obsessed with the fact that we were poisoning our planet, and I’d dreamed of going into politics to do something about it. Being Lise’s comms director was a good position at a great company—nothing a millennial could turn her nose up at—but being in charge of our policy work was what I was really interested in, the goal that got me out of bed each morning. 

And now I was so close. 

Assuming, of course, I didn’t dissolve into a fine mist the minute I set eyes on Ben. 

I turned left toward the meeting room we always used when we came to talk to the governor. It was the biggest room, filled with highly questionable artifacts from Texas history. These artifacts were supposed to paint a picture of Texans as bold, valiant cowboys—framed letters from Mexican presidents pleading to end wars and old-timey weapons in glass cases from the years Texas was “settled” (translation: stolen from indigenous peoples). It was a room that showcased the state’s history without any sense of self-awareness, and being there always put me on edge. Made me question whether we should be working with these people at all, even on something as potentially transformative as the Green Machine bill. 

But Wendy shook her head, tugging my arm. “No Alamo room today. We’re down the hall.” She pointed to the right and I followed her, wondering at the change. 

The three of us halted outside a closed door. Dakota smiled. “Remember, this is bigger than us. We’ve got the health and well-being of the planet on our shoulders. Let’s do this for the people.” 

“No pressure,” I muttered, as Wendy swung open the door.

And there he was, the very first thing I saw. Ben Laderman. Sitting at the right hand of the governor at the conference table. 

Time seemed to freeze as the impact of seeing him in the flesh hit me like a punch to the chest. All the years we’d spent apart were obvious, because he looked different. He wasn’t the Ben from my memories. 

But he was still the easiest person in the world to describe, at least in terms of the basics: Ben Laderman looked exactly like Clark Kent from old comic books. Not Superman, with his perfect, blue-black hair, little forehead curl and confident, square jawline—Clark. 

Don’t get me wrong, Ben had the dark hair and strong jaw and ice-blue eyes, but when I’d known him, he’d kept his hair super short and worn thick-framed black glasses that mostly obscured his eyes. He was well over six feet, but he’d always hunched, like Clark slinking in late to the Daily Planet, trying to creep about unnoticed. 

The Ben Laderman sitting at the table now was…well, there was no way to describe it other than California Ben. He’d grown out his hair and wore it tucked and curling behind his ears. He’d exchanged the thick-framed black glasses for a pair of thin, transparent frames that left no question his eyes were vivid blue. 

And the suit he was sitting ramrod straight in—no more hunch—wasn’t a dark, boxy number like what he’d worn in law school for mock trial. This suit was the same blue as his eyes, a fashion risk that was both startlingly handsome and startlingly playful for someone starting work in the Texas governor’s office. 

He was different. Still knee-wobblingly beautiful, but different.

And he was staring at me.

Excerpted from Fool Me Once by Ashley Winstead, Copyright © 2022 by Ashley Winstead. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Interview with Andrya Bailey

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I write contemporary romance, and I’m passionate about traveling, history, and languages. When I write, I try to incorporate elements of all of them into the stories. I’m currently learning how to speak modern Greek, and also speak Portuguese, Spanish (and have in the past also learned German, French, and Italian, although not fluent any more since I don’t use them much!). My romance trilogy has been translated to Spanish and is being also published in Greece. I’ve been involved for several years with the Houston Writers Guild, and I’m currently a Board member of The Ocotillo Review literary journal, which is published by Kallisto Gaia Press, and have also worked as a flash fiction editor for the journal. I also write other genres, poetry, flash fiction, and short stories under another pen-name. Since I was very young, I always wanted to be a writer.

Advertisements

2) What inspired you to write your book?

My most recent book was the third and final book in a romance trilogy, but the idea for the trilogy was born many years ago when I was visiting the museum of fine arts. I had the idea of a character visiting the museum and falling in love with a curator or archaeologist, then started to write about it and the trilogy came to life.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Hope – hope to find love, even if it’s long distance and across cultures.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

It was actually a challenge. Two friends of mine who are also writers challenged me to write a romance, and so the trilogy was born.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

It would be Nikos. I’d ask him what he felt when Sabrina left him in Athens and when he realized he was in love with her, because he didn’t go after her at the time and seemed to just have accepted that she didn’t want to be with him.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

My newsletter (it is the best way to get the latest news about my books, and I also hold giveaways frequently. Newsletters usually go out every two months or sometimes monthly if there are news worth sharing. To sign up for the newsletter: Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/dgdaqD), followed by:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andryabailey

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndyB0810

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andryabwriter/

Website: www.andryabailey.com

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Just start writing, write for yourself, write something you’d like to read.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

A new romance novel. I have the first chapter going on but it’s still in the very preliminary stage.

Advertisements

About the Author

Andrya Bailey is an award-winning contemporary romance writer. She enjoys traveling and visiting museums and historical landmarks where she can learn about art and history, which she usually incorporates into her stories. She loves to write love stories with strong alpha males and exotic scenarios – after all, what better romance fantasy is there?

Olympian Passion, the first book in the Olympian Love trilogy, has received the 5-star seal from Readers’ Favorite and is the 2016 New Apple Literary e-book Contemporary Romance – Solo Medalist winner. Olympian Heartbreak, the second book, is a 2018 New Apple Literary “official selection” in the romance category.

Follow her Facebook page to find out more at facebook.com/andryabailey and on Twitter: @andyb0810.

Sign up for her newsletter: eepurl.com/dgdaqD

Website: andryabailey.com

Olympian Love (Olympian Love Trilogy Book 3) by Andrya Bailey Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A heartbreaking end to her whirlwind romance comes back full circle after a chance encounter with her former flame’s rival brings back her true love, and the agonizing reality of what happened between them in author Andrya Bailey’s “Olympian Love”, the third book in the Olympian Love Trilogy.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

The third book in the Olympian Love trilogy – not a stand-alone volume.

When she returns to Houston after leaving Nikos in Greece during one of the most troublesome times of his life, Sabrina is miserable and heartbroken. She promised Maggie she would never talk to him again – that was part of their deal which resulted in her ultimate sacrifice.

Her graduation is upon her, but she can’t get Nikos out of her mind. A chance encounter with Aleksy, Nikos’s rival, reopens her wounds, and when she learns Nikos will be back in town, she’s beside herself. Would he ever forgive her? Tormented between breaking her promise to Maggie, which could have dire consequences, and afraid of losing Nikos forever, she faces an agonizing reality. Will she ever have the courage to answer him ‘why’ and reconquer the man she loves?

The Review

The delicate balance of heated passion and heartbreaking romance is powerfully explored early on in this read. The author brilliantly explores the tragedy and painful experience of love lost and the experience of having to sacrifice one’s love for a powerful cause. The imagery and tone the author strikes with this narrative are so vivid in detail and make the scenes come to life in the reader’s mind. I will say that while the book can be read as a stand-alone for newcomers like me to the series, having read the previous books in this trilogy will definitely add more depth and emotional connection to these amazing characters.

The character growth and the heat in the main character’s interactions are definitely the heart of this story. The raw emotions that Sabrina experiences as she returns to her home and struggles with the sacrifices she had to make are heartbreaking to read, and feel so real that readers want to reach out and comfort the young woman. Yet the balance to that emotion comes with the raw heat and passion that strikes between her and Nikos once more in this story, and as the complexity of their relationship is explored, so too are the depths of their need for one another, creating a very heated and adult narrative.

The Verdict

Passionate, entertaining, and captivating, author Andrya Bailey’s “Olympian Love” is the perfect final chapter of this enrapturing Greek romance. The highs and lows of Sabrina’s journey and the exhilarating backdrop of Greek history and mythos were extremely engaging to read about, and fans will be eager to dive deep into her entanglements with Nikos once more. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Andrya Bailey is an award-winning contemporary romance writer. She enjoys traveling and visiting museums and historical landmarks where she can learn about art and history, which she usually incorporates into her stories. She loves to write love stories with strong alpha males and exotic scenarios – after all, what better romance fantasy is there?

Olympian Passion, the first book in the Olympian Love trilogy, has received the 5-star seal from Readers’ Favorite and is the 2016 New Apple Literary e-book Contemporary Romance – Solo Medalist winner. Olympian Heartbreak, the second book, is a 2018 New Apple Literary “official selection” in the romance category.

Follow her Facebook page to find out more at facebook.com/andryabailey and on Twitter: @andyb0810.

Sign up for her newsletter: eepurl.com/dgdaqD

Website: andryabailey.com

How To Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

After an up-and-coming interior designer moves into her grandmother’s home, she begins clashing with her new neighbor, a wealthy businessman who hopes to acquire her property himself. As they feud, a new kind of bond springs forth in author Sophie Sullivan’s “How to Love Your Neighbor”.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Interior Design School? Check. Cute house to fix up? Check.

Sexy, grumpy neighbor who is going to get in the way of your plans? Check. Unfortunately.

Grace Travis has it all figured out. In between finishing school and working a million odd jobs, she’ll get her degree and her dream job. Most importantly, she’ll have a place to belong, something her harsh mother could never make. When an opportunity to fix up—and live in—a little house on the beach comes along, Grace is all in. Until her biggest roadblock moves in next door.

Noah Jansen knows how to make a deal. As a real estate developer, he knows when he’s found something special. Something he could even call home. Provided he can expand by taking over the house next door–the house with the combative and beautiful woman living in it.

With the rules for being neighborly going out the window, Grace and Noah are in an all-out feud. But sometimes, your nemesis can show you that home is always where the heart is.

The Review

This was such a unique and engaging romantic comedy. The chemistry between Noah and Grace is so fun to watch develop and grow over time. The way they butt heads and get under each other’s skin plays so well into that rom-com style narrative, while the way they help each other grow and evolve over time brings the heart and romance that readers are so eagerly looking for. 

The fantastic spin on the rom-com style narrative by featuring an HGTV style story was inspired to say the least. The infusion of humor and wit into the story and the interior designer knowledge that the characters brought to life made the narrative feel unique and special, allowing it to stand out from the crowd of rom-coms that are sure to hit bookstores this year. Yet it was the exploration of each of them dealing with toxic relationships with a parental figure that allowed the protagonists to bond and gave their relationship a depth that readers will instantly connect with.

The Verdict

A memorable, heartfelt, and entertaining read, author Sophie Sullivan’s “How to Love Your Neighbor” is a must-read novel to kick off 2022! The emotional impact of these characters’ stories and their connection to one another is equally matched by the funny commentary each gives to their meetings early on in the narrative, making this such a fun read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

SOPHIE SULLIVAN is a Canadian author as well as a cookie-eating, Diet Pepsi-drinking, Disney enthusiast who loves reading and writing romance in almost equal measure. She writes around her day job as a teacher and spends her spare time with her sweet family watching reruns of Friends. Ten Rules For Faking It is her romcom debut novel, but she’s had plenty of practice writing happily ever after as her alter ego, Jody Holford.

https://www.sophiesullivanauthor.com/

Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A mission to get revenge on her cheating ex-fiancee turns into a sudden romance she could have never seen coming as interior designer Dani begins to fall for the architect at her firm while building a spite house in author Anna E. Collins’s “Love at First Spite”.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

In this delightful, breezy romcom, interior designer Dani decides to get revenge on her cheating ex the only way she knows how: by building a spite house next door.

They say living well is the best revenge. But sometimes, spreading the misery seems a whole lot more satisfying. That’s interior designer Dani Porter’s justification for buying the vacant lot next to her ex-fiancé’s house…the house they were supposed to live in together, before he cheated on her with their realtor. Dani plans to build a vacation rental that will a) mess with his view and his peace of mind and b) prove that Dani is not someone to be stepped on. Welcome to project Spite House.

That plan quickly becomes complicated when Dani is forced to team up with Wyatt Montego, the handsome, haughty architect at her firm, and the only person available to draw up blueprints. Wyatt is terse and stern, the kind of man who eats his sandwich with a knife and fork. But as they spend time together on- and off-site, Dani glimpses something deeper beneath that hard veneer, something surprising, vulnerable, and real. And the closer she gets to her goal, the more she wonders if winning revenge could mean losing something infinitely sweeter…

The Review

This was such a charming and witty romance novel. The author struck just the right amount of chords to draw in readers that enjoy narratives that blend equal amounts of romance with humor. Right off the bat, the friendship and bond that Dani shares with characters like Iris and her cousin Mia were so wonderful to see explored not just as a secondary storyline, but as an important aspect of Dani’s character as a whole. 

What stood out to me aside from the amazing chemistry between Wyatt and Dani and their character developments overall was the sheer depth of emotions the author explored with these characters. From the hilarious banter Dani had when dealing with her ex to the vulnerable moments when Wyatt let her see the real struggles he has in his personal life outside of the firm and the way they each evolved over time, this novel gave readers a truly engaging and well-rounded view of what a true romance should look and feel like. 

The Verdict

A beautiful, entertaining, and heartfelt romance, author Anna E. Collins’s “Love at First Spite” is a must-read novel of 2022! This women’s fiction and romance novel were so beautifully crafted, and the author did such a wonderful job of making the reader feel immersed in the novel’s world. From vibrant settings and relatable characters to an emotional connection to the romance brewing between these two protagonists, this is a book romance and women’s fiction fans will not be able to put it down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Anna E. Collins is a Seattle-area author who writes stories about the lives and loves of women. Once upon a time she was a teacher, and she has a master’s degree in educational psychology. LOVE AT FIRST SPITE is her first novel.

Buy Links: 

BookShop.org

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

Signed Copies through Third Place Books 

Social Links:

Author Website

https://www.instagram.com/aeccreates/

https://www.facebook.com/aecollinsbooks

Advertisements

Here is a Q&A From Author Anna E. Collins

Q&A with Anna E. Collins

Q: Love at First Spite is your debut novel. Tell us about your journey to get here.

A: I started writing full-length fiction twelve years ago when my kids were little as an escape from the eating/sleeping/changing diapers rut. Initially, it was just a fun experiment, but my perception of my writing as merely a hobby really transformed when I got into PitchWars in 2017. It was a sort of recognition that I had something worth cultivating, and it also introduced that most crucial aspect of a writer’s life – the writing community. I learned so much from that – about the writing and editing process, about querying, about persistence, and about the importance of not going at it alone. I didn’t sign with my agent (Kimberley Cameron of Kimberley Cameron & Associates) through PitchWars though, but from a cold query about six months later. 

At that point I was writing exclusively women’s fiction. We went on sub with the book that Kimberley signed me on in 2018 and then with another one in 2019, and for a long time nothing happened. We had lots of rejections – polite and complimentary ones, yes, but still rejections. I think this is something authors don’t often talk about, but it happens to most of us. You have to develop a thick skin and always write the next thing.

So, 2020 arrived, I had two books on long-term sub, I had written yet another WF manuscript, and was considering my next project. With Covid shutting everything down with no end in sight, I needed a change, so I decided to try my hand at writing something more light-hearted. Said and done – with the cheerleading of my writing group (also closest friends) spurring me on, Love at First Spite was born. Turns out some flirty banter and revenge shenanigans were exactly what my writerly quarantine year needed!

As luck would have it, I actually ended up signing my two WF books with a smaller press at the end of 2020, and shortly after that, Graydon House acquired Love at First Spite and set a publication date that would make it my debut. And here we are!

Q: What inspired this story?

A: I keep a running list of ideas for stories that I add to whenever I see or hear something that strikes me as interesting, or when I read about a topic that seems off-beat or unusual. Often, a title relating to the topic will come to me first, so I’ll jot down that and a brief line about it. In this case, I had read an article about spite houses around the world probably a year or so prior, found the lengths some people go to for revenge fascinating, and consequently made a note of it on my list. The exact words were “The Spite House – building a building to get revenge.” That was it – no genre, no characters, nothing. When I decided I wanted to write a romcom, this title stood out to me in my list as I could easily picture the pettiness required for such a build being ripe for comedic situations. It’s over-the-top right away as far as revenge goes, which seemed like a good place to start.

Q: What research did you do for this book?

A: I’m neither an interior designer nor an architect like my two main characters, so I obviously had to do some research into what day-to-day life might look like in those fields. I also researched zoning laws for the city where the story takes place, fence regulations, construction terms, house building processes, common neighbor disputes (there are some pretty colorful ones on the internet), video surveillance systems, and how to tuft figures out of wool. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things, but that’s at least a general overview of my search history during that period of writing.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Currently, I’m wrapping up a second romcom that I can’t currently talk about, while also finishing copy edits for my first women’s fiction title, These Numbered Days, which will be out some time in spring/summer 2022. And brainstorming my next project, of course. Always brainstorming!

Advertisements

And now, here is an Excerpt from “Love at First Spite”

Chapter 1

My white dress trails me as we make our way across the small clearing to where the others are waiting. The heavy fabric rustles against the ground, a few leaves catching in the hem, but I ignore them, concentrating instead on what’s ahead. All eyes are on me. 

“Are you sure?” my cousin Mia asks at my elbow. My partner in crime. 

I glance her way. I’m nervous, but I don’t want to be, and the simmering excitement in her expression reassures me. This is the right choice. 

“Hundred percent,” I say. 

She smiles and squeezes my hand. “You’ll rock this, I know it.” She lets go and steps away to assume her position with a wink. “See you on the other side.” 

Then it begins.

I take off at a sprint. The paintball arena is at least a football field in size and strewn with steel drums, crates, and sandbags. A few larger structures in the middle resemble a small-scale Old West town complete with porches and a saloon sign. The guys Mia and I’ve been teamed up with run that way, while she and I head for the trees along the sides. The large pines tower stoically above the fray, and I choose one of the largest trunks for my first cover.

“Did everyone else go the other way?” I call out to Mia but get no response. Wasn’t she behind me? 

I peer around the trunk only to catch the whisp of her braid beneath her helmet as she dives for shelter by a tree trunk twenty yards in front of me. 

“Don’t be a baby, Porter,” I chastise myself, before following her. It’s a thirty-minute game of most-hits-win, so she’s got the right idea: it’s go time. 

As fast as my skirts allow, I jog in the direction of the rapid pops and ka-splats of active battle, paintball gun at the ready. The staff told me I’d be at a disadvantage playing in my wedding dress, and they had a good point. But then again, I didn’t come here expecting to leave in virginal white. 

I barely get my finger on the trigger before two shots in succession hit me squarely in the chest, and a green stain blooms before me. It hurts less than I anticipated, but I still freeze too long and another round easily finds my shoulder. Blue paint drips off the white lace of my sleeve. 

Oh yeah? That’s how it’s going to be? 

Something akin to glee bubbles up my chest and I let out a loud cackle. All righty, then. Shouldering my gun, I aim at the culprit—some kid a full foot shorter than me— and one, two, three splotches of paint hit his belly.

“Yeah!” I shout, as he hightails off. Adrenaline pumps through my arms. 

“Dani, over here!” Mia runs sideways behind me from the cover of a fake building to a stack of boxes. “I’ll shield you.” 

Yeah right. She already looks like she’s wrestled with a rainbow. 

I consider darting the opposite way, to a smattering of hay bales, but Mia sounds increasingly desperate. I hike up my skirts and do my best to make myself small before jumping to safety next to her. 

Back up against the boxes, I peek around the corner. “Two of them,” I say, still breathing hard. “On my mark.” I count down with my fingers and, on three, we spring out, guns leveled at opponents who don’t see us coming. I’m a vengeful angel, gliding through the sky—at least that’s what I picture until my toe catches the hem of my dress and I stumble forward into a mouthful of dirty straw. 

“Take that!” Mia shouts from a distance, accompanied by a fresh round of shots volleying through the air. 

“What the fuck?” a deep voice yells out. 

Another voice: “We’re on the same fucking team.”

I lift my face off the ground. Mia is backing up toward me, pursued by our imagined foe who’s indeed wearing the same beat-up Timberlands I spotted on our teammates earlier. 

It’s fair to say they’re about as excited to be paired with us as my taste buds are about the straw. I spit out the horse fodder and push myself up. 

“We should have never teamed up with them,” the first guy complains. “That one wants to get hit, and this one…” He gestures at Mia. 

She exhales as if he’s punched her.

“What?” I say, moving to stand between him and my cousin. “This one, what?” 

“Dude, come on,” the second guy says. “Let’s just play.” 

“Well she’s not exactly agile, is she?” guy number one sneers. 

“Ha, that’s funny.” I bob my head a few times and train my gun on him. “What do you think, Mia?” 

She appears at my side. “I think someone’s about to get pummeled.” 

His eyebrows jerk behind his protective goggles, but that’s all he manages before we shoot. 

And shoot again. 

Who needs a team? The sight of them running away is totally worth losing for.

Excerpted from Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins, Copyright © 2022 by Anna E. Collins. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Christmas in Rose Bend (Rose Bend #2) by Naima Simone Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

An ER nurse reeling from a shocking revelation about her father and the loss of her mother finds herself and her younger sister spending the holidays at the small town of Rose Bend, and discovering what it means to open their hearts in the process in author Naima Simone’s “Christmas in Rose Bend”, the second book in the Rose Bend series.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

The holidays have never been her thing. But Christmas in Rose Bend has more than one surprise in store…

Grieving ER nurse Nessa Hunt is on a road trip with her sullen teen half-sister, Ivy, and still reeling from her mother’s deathbed confession: Nessa’s dad wasn’t really her dad. Seeking answers, they arrive in Rose Bend to find a small town teeming with the kind of Christmas cheer Nessa usually avoids. But then she meets the innkeeper’s ruggedly sexy son, Wolfgang Dennison.

Wolf’s big, boisterous family is like a picture-perfect holiday card. Nessa has too much weighed on her to feel like she fits—even though the heat between her and Wolf is undeniable. And the merriment bringing an overdue smile to Ivy’s face is almost enough to make Nessa believe in the Christmas spirit. But with all her parental baggage, including lingering questions about her birth father, is there room in Nessa’s life for happy holidays and happily-ever-after?

The Review

Now I know the new year has arrived and many people may be ready to move on from the holidays, but for me, the holiday season is the gift itself that keeps on giving, and the same can be said for holiday romances. What was so beautiful and emotional about this read was how the author managed to balance the Christmas magic that the town of Rose Bend embraced with the complex feelings and experiences both protagonists (Nessa and Wolf) have had coming into this narrative. The reader is able to connect with both characters through their shared sense of loss, whether it is the loss of a loved one physically or emotionally, and then heated and more intimate moments between the two that develop feel more passionate as a result of that shared past. 

The development of other characters was what brought a sense of belonging and togetherness to this narrative. Aside from the main characters, the way the narrative showed the rollercoaster of emotions that Nessa’s sister Ivy went through after losing her father, a man she and her sister have had very different experiences with, and the gap that has formed between the two women was so emotionally captivating and engaging that readers would be hard-pressed not to dive headfirst into this story.

The Verdict

A brilliant and sizzling romance that will heat up anyone’s holidays, author Naima Simone’s “Christmas in Rose Bend” is the perfect next chapter in the romance series. The story takes on so much more than a simple holiday romance as the story plays out though. It is a story of breaking down the barriers within ourselves, connecting the people closest to us when they need us the most, and coming to terms with our past to find a brighter future, and that is what makes this story so captivating. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today.

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

USA Today Bestselling author Naima Simone’s love of romance was first stirred by Johanna Lindsey and Nora Roberts years ago. Well not that many. She is only eighteen…ish. Published since 2009, she spends her days writing sizzling romances with heart, a touch of humor and snark.  She is wife to Superman–or his non-Kryptonian equivalent–and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They live in perfect, sometimes domestically-challenged bliss in the southern US.

Buy Links: 

BookShop.org

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s 

Social Links:

Author Website

Facebook: @naimasimoneauthor  

Instagram: @naimasimoneauthor

Twitter: @Naima_Simone

Goodreads

Advertisements

Here is an Excerpt For “Christmas in Rose Bend”

Nessa Hunt didn’t do Christmas. 

As an ER nurse, she’d seen the worst humanity had to offer during the holiday season. Electrocution injuries from plugging one too many Christmas lights into a single outlet. Shoppers with broken noses and blackened eyes from Black Friday fights that erupted over the newest must-have toy. Dads with busted backs from attempting to mount inflatable Frosties and reindeer-drawn sleighs on porch roofs.

And then there’d been that one memorable sex toy mishap— Santa had boldly gone where no Santa had gone before.

So, no, she was not a fan of Christmas.

Which meant the town of Rose Bend, Massachusetts, was her own personal version of hell. 

“It looks like Santa Claus just threw up all over this place!” her sister, Ivy, whispered from the passenger seat.

Now, there was a nice visual. But slowing to a halt at a stoplight, Nessa had to admit the twelve-year-old had a point. Who knew that three hours north of Boston and tucked in the southern Berkshires existed a town straight out of a Thomas Kinkade painting? It seemed almost…unreal. If any place had that everybody-knows-your-name vibe, it was Rose Bend. Brick buildings housing drugstores, boutiques, a candy store, an ice cream parlor and diners lined the road. The long white steeple of a church towered in the distance. A colonial-style building stood in the center of town, the words Town Hall emblazoned above four columns. And everything was decorated with lights, garland, poinsettias, candy canes and big red bows. Even the stoplights sported huge wreaths decked out with miniature toys and elves—and the biggest pine cones she’d ever seen in her life. 

Mom would’ve lost her mind over all this. 

The thought snuck out of the steel door in her mind where she’d locked away all wayward, crippling memories of Evelyn Reed. A blazing pain stabbed Nessa in the chest, and she sucked in a breath. Briefly, she closed her eyes, blocking out the winter wonderland beyond her windshield. 

It had been eight long, lonely, bitter months since she’d lost her mother to uterine cancer. Since she’d last heard her mother’s pragmatic but affectionate voice that still held a faint Southern accent, even though she’d lived in Boston for over thirty years. Since she’d inhaled her mother’s comforting roses-and-fresh-laundry scent. 

Since her mother had rasped a devastating secret in a whisper thick with regret, edged with pain and slurred from morphine. 

Maybe the well-meaning friends who’d advised Nessa to see a grief counselor could also counsel her on how to stop being so goddamn angry with her mother for lying to Nessa for twenty-eight years. Maybe then Nessa could start to heal. 

’Til then, she had patients to care for. Now she had a sister to raise. 

And secrets to keep. 

“Oh wow!” Ivy squealed, jabbing the window with a finger. “There’s a real town square and over there is the biggest Christmas tree I’ve ever seen! Can we get out and walk around? Please?” 

Nessa glanced in the direction Ivy pointed, taking in the square, and in the distance, a massive tree. The idea of strolling around in the freezing weather to stare at a Douglas fir wasn’t exactly her idea of fun. But when she’d agreed to make this trip with Ivy, Nessa had told herself to make an effort to connect. This was supposed to be about bonding with the sister she barely knew. 

Emptiness spread through her and the greasy slide of guilt and pain flooded into the hole. She glanced at Ivy, Nessa’s gaze lingering over the features they shared…but didn’t. The high cheekbones that dominated a face Ivy hadn’t yet grown into. The thin shoulders that had become even thinner in the last six weeks, since her father had died. 

A scream welled up inside Nessa, scraping her throat raw. Ivy’s father—Isaac Hunt—was the man who had raised Nessa until he and her mother divorced when she’d been about Ivy’s age, and then he’d been more out of her life than in it. He had named Nessa as his daughter’s guardian. He had trusted Nessa to care for Ivy, because she was his oldest daughter and Ivy’s half sister. And though she and Isaac hadn’t shared a close relationship when he’d been alive, she couldn’t let him down. And Ivy… 

Ivy had lost her mother as a baby, and now her father. Nessa knew what it was like to be alone. She couldn’t take Ivy’s sister away, too. 

Even if Ivy resented the hell out of Nessa and begrudged her guardianship with every breath she took. 

But God… Months of bearing a secret weighed on Nessa’s shoulders. And they ached. These last six weeks had been a special kind of hell. 

She was so damn tired. 

Inhaling a deep breath, Nessa forced herself to push past the soul-deep ache. 

She could do this. 

One of the first things she’d had to learn when entering the nursing field was how to compartmentalize hurt, grief and anger. Not allowing herself to be sucked down in a morass of emotion. If she hadn’t acquired that skill, she wouldn’t have been any good to her patients, their families, the doctors or herself. So what if some people called her Nurse Freeze behind her back? She got the job done. Besides, as she’d learned— first, when her father left the family; second, when her ex had traded their relationship for a job in Miami; and third, when her parents died—loving someone, caring for them, was a liability. Feelings were unreliable, untrustworthy. Parents, lovers, friends, patients—everyone always left. Only fools didn’t protect themselves.

And her mother hadn’t raised a fool. 

“Let’s wait on that,” she said, answering Ivy. “We need to find Kinsale Inn first and get settled. Then maybe later we can come back and do the tourist thing.” 

“Right.” Ivy dropped against the passenger seat, arms crossed over her chest. The glance the preteen slid Nessa’s way could only be described as side-eye. Paired with the curl to the corner of her mouth, Ivy’s expression had gone from wide-eyed excitement to Eff you, big sister in three-point-five seconds flat. “In other words, no.” 

“Did I say no?” Nessa asked, striving for patience. She’s a grieving preteen. You can’t bounce her out of your car. CPS frowns on that. With the mantra running through her head, she tried again. “Check-in at the inn was at twelve, and it’s now one thirty.” She hadn’t expected to hit so much traffic leaving Boston. Or to take the wrong exit halfway to the Berkshires and have to retrace her route. “We need to make sure they still know we’re arriving. The square and the tree will be there in a few hours.” 

“Uh-huh.” Ivy snorted. “And as soon as we get to the inn, you’ll find another excuse not to do anything. Especially with me. It’s not like you wanted to come here anyway.” 

“First off, kid, I’m not the kind of person who does anything she doesn’t want to do. Second, if I give you my word, I mean it. And third, what does ‘especially with me’ mean? Who else would I be up here with?” 

“Whatever,” Ivy muttered. 

Nessa breathed deep. Held it. Counted to ten. Released it. Then tried again. “Is this how the next month is going to be? You angry and me taking the brunt of it? Because I have to tell you, we could’ve done this dance back in Boston without carolers and hot chocolate stands.” 

“Don’t pretend like you did this for me. You don’t even like me. This is all for your guilt over Dad’s letter. Fine with me if we go back to Boston. I don’t care.” 

Nessa tightened her fingers around the steering wheel, not replying. Anything she said to Ivy at this moment would only end up in an argument. That’s all she and Ivy had seemed to do since the funeral. Nothing Nessa did could make Ivy happy. 

And as much as Nessa hated to admit it, there was some truth to Ivy’s accusation. Because a part of her—Jesus, she hated admitting it even to herself—didn’t like Ivy. Was jealous of her. For having more of Isaac’s love. For having him when Nessa hadn’t, even when she’d needed him. 

Even though Nessa had called Isaac Hunt Dad all her life, he was more or less a stranger to her…just like the silent, stiff twelve-year-old hunched on the seat next to her. He’d been an absentee parent since his divorce from her mother sixteen years ago, and Nessa had met her half sister maybe five times before their father died from pancreatic cancer. Hell, she hadn’t even known he’d been ill until the final time he’d ended up in the hospital. She hadn’t even had a chance to say…what? Goodbye? Where the hell have you been as a father for sixteen years? Why didn’t you love me as much as you loved your other daughter? 

I love you. 

Dammit. Damn damn damn

She fisted her fingers to keep from pounding the steering wheel. 

So yes, guilt had pushed her into taking a previously unheard-of short-term leave from the hospital. It’d goaded her into going up to Ivy’s school and letting them know the girl would be missing the last two weeks before Christmas break to take an extended vacation. 

She swallowed a sigh, and as the light changed, pressed on the gas pedal. A tense, edgy silence filled the car. Nothing new there either. Nessa snuck another look at the girl, noting the sullen expression turning down Ivy’s mouth and creasing her eyebrows into a petulant frown. 

Maybe their time in Rose Bend would give Ivy her smile back. Or at least rid Ivy’s lovely dark brown eyes of the sadness lurking there. 

And maybe Santa really did fly around the world. 

Yeah, Nessa had stopped believing in miracles and fairy tales years ago. Better Ivy learn now that life dealt shitty hands, and you either folded or played to recoup your losses. 

Soon, they left the downtown area and approached a fork in the road. As she turned her Durango left onto a paved road bordered by trees… 

“Oh wow,” Ivy breathed. 

“Good God,” Nessa murmured at the same time, bringing her vehicle to a halt in the driveway that circled in front of the huge white inn. 

Oh, Mom. You would’ve so loved this. 

A short set of stairs led up to a spacious porch that, according to the brochure, encircled the building. The wide lower level angled out to the side, with the equally long second floor following suit. The third, slightly smaller story graced the building with its dormer window, and a slanted roof topped it like a red cap. A broad red front door with glass panes along the top and dark green shutters at every window—and, damn, there were a lot of windows—and large bushes bordering the front and sides completed the image of a beautiful country inn. But it was the wreaths and bows hung on the door and walls, and the lights that twinkled along every surface, that transformed the building into a fairyland. A Christmas fairyland. 

Excerpted from Christmas in Rose Bend by Naima Simone. Copyright © 2021 by Naima Simone. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Hugs, Kisses, and Mistletoe Wishes by Collected Authors Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Eight authors come together to bring readers the first all-star collection of holiday romance novels for the 2021 holiday season from high-profile romance authors in the romance collection, “Hugs, Kisses, and Mistletoe Wishes”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Hugs, Kisses and Mistletoe Wishes…a Sweet Christmas Romance Collection. Celebrate the magical holiday season with this special gift straight from our hearts, eight enchanting love stories to cherish all year long. Rekindle your love of the holidays with these heartwarming romances.

Roxy Boroughs: THE SPRITE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

A wisecracking Christmas sprite takes a heartbroken woman on a magical journey to discover the true meaning of love and family, but only if she has the courage to act before it’s too late.

S. L. Dickson: MY CHRISTMAS HERO

When a firefighter finds and returns a Christmas sock monkey to its rightful owner, he finds a woman with a zest for life. While the romance sparks, a tragedy occurs. Will they get a second chance? Will a kiss under the Mistletoe fulfill their dreams?

Raine Hughes: LOVE IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS

Ready to move into their newly purchased home, Jamison Baker and his two young girls discover the previous owner and her female boarders haven’t vacated. Until new accommodations can be found for the women their only option is to share the renamed house, Baker’s Harem…er, Haven. Jamison can’t imagine how he’ll live with thirteen females, especially the feisty Kat Madison.

Ellen Jorgy: SAFE IN HIS ARMS AT CHRISTMAS

Mix one scared city girl with one guilt-ridden country boy doctor and you get a recipe for love at Christmas, but hidden agendas emerge that could crush not only their hopes of love but might end Nicole’s life as well.

Shelley Kassian: A GENTLEMAN FOR CHRISTMAS

In this Downton Abbey meets Outlander romance, a veterinary surgeon pursues a high society lady at the height of the Christmas season. Differing cultures and a high-class father complicate the romance. Will a carol’s song and a horse’s Lady Luck make the season brighter?

Katie O’Connor: GINGERBREAD DREAMS

Poppy Holiday needs a buy a new oven for her bakery. Darius Badeaux has a reputation to shed. They only way they can both achieve their dreams is by winning the Annual Gingerbread Baking Competition. Together. Too bad there’s a hurtful past hanging between them. Will the season of giving bring them together to build the perfect gingerbread house and salvage their careers, or will the past crush their dreams and their hearts?

Sherile Reilly: A WISH UPON A CHRISTMAS KNIGHT

Orphaned, Melody Blackwell, lives under the control of her selfish uncle who betroths her, for financial gain, to a cruel old man. Cursed for centuries, Samuel Knight is brought to life by the fair Melody. Together, they must fight an ancient curse that threatens to destroy their love and then kill them. Can they survive?

A. M. Westerling: EVEYLN’S BEAU

After a disappointing Season, Lady Evelyn Kendall retreats to Kendall Hall in Cornwall. Her immediate future does not include a husband, although a renewed acquaintance with long-time family friend Oliver Harrington shows promise. When a local vicar offers her an opportunity to organize a Christmas pageant for disadvantaged children, Evelyn accepts, never thinking it would lead to disaster for both her and Oliver. 

The Review

These breathtaking romances

such a delight to read. I know we’re in the spooky season right now, but I’ve always felt it’s never too early to start dipping our toes into the holiday season, and fiction is the perfect way to do so without skipping over the Halloween season. These authors did a great job of crafting whole and unique worlds within this collection that felt original and yet meshed well together with all at once. 

What stood out to me as a writer was how natural the author’s various sub-genres within the sweet romance genre overall. Everything from fantasy and historical fiction romances to more dramatic turns, all within the holiday setting, and each author brought their own unique voice and writing style into their narratives expertly. The emotion and charming wit that each protagonist and romance inspired were fantastic to watch unfold, as was the incredible writing of the character interactions within each story.

What always has stood out to me as an author and reader during the holidays is the sense of hope and understanding each tale brings. It’s a time of warmth, where magic isn’t just a silly child’s fantasy but instead a promise of better things for us all. Each story captured that wonderfully, bringing out the romance and passion of each relationship explored while fitting within their own respective genres neatly. Whether the story was filled with great sadness, a beautiful beginning, or even a needed ending, each story found hope and life in the narratives presented here. 

The Verdict

A memorable, magical, and entertaining collection of holiday romance novels, the collected works found within “Hugs, Kisses, and Mistletoe Wishes” is a must-read for the 2021 holiday season! Inviting and engaging on both a creative and emotional level, each author crafted a narrative that kept the reader hooked from the first moments of each story, and warmed our hearts as these characters grew and evolved throughout their romantic journeys. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Authors

Katie O’Connor lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She married her high school sweetheart and is living her happily ever after. She is the mother of two grown daughters and is extremely proud of her five grandchildren.

Katie’s career path has been long and twisted, with most of her life devoted to her family. She’s been a waitress, chambermaid, cashier, store manager, as well as a lab and x-ray technician. She is an avid quilter and crafter. She finds inspiration and relaxation in the wilds of Alberta.

She’s dabbled in writing since high school because something drives her to create stories. She swears it’s impossible for her NOT to write. Unsatisfied with one genre, Katie writes contemporary romance, fantasy/paranormal romance and erotica. Recently, she’s crafted her first cozy mystery with the intention of publishing a cozy mystery series.

She believes in all things magical; including dragons, fairies, UFOs, ghosts, and house pixies. But most of all she believes in love, romance and hope.

https://www.katieohwrites.com/

SHELLEY KASSIAN has been writing timeless love stories filled with romance or dark fantasy (romantasy) for more than twenty years, novels that include her recent beach read, A Sea for Summer. A history enthusiast, she’s traveled far and wide to explore secret gardens and medieval castles, having an avid interest in the Tudor period. Her prose has been described as “near rhapsodic,” “pitch perfect,” and “stylishly straightforward, rarely relying on complex turns of phrase.” Reviewers have said her narrative conveys “imaginative fantasy,” “fascinating characters,” and “refreshing romance.”

Shelley’s taken creative writing courses, holds board positions within professional associations, and retains a Professional Editing Certificate. Drawing on her expertise, she has mentored novice writers, but her passion comes alive while scribing her stories into novel-length fiction. Shelley shares her life with her husband, adores her adult children and three grand pups, and when not relaxing at her seaside cottage, lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

S.L. Dickson writes romantic stories about strong men and women who make a difference. She sets her stories in small towns and rural locations, although some of her characters are city dwellers. She is passionate about storytelling and appreciates the support of her husband, Bill, family members, beloved friends, and her many writing colleagues.

Shaa’s favorite place to write or retreat is at her cabin. She enjoys canoeing, swimming, hiking in the forest, or sitting on the dock listening to the call of the loons; even watching bald eagles soar in a blue sky. A favorite family time is when her children and grandchildren come to visit. Family gather around the camp fire, roasting marshmallows and sharing their life stories, whether the season be summer or winter.

Just for fun, Shaa wrote a short story called – Mind Traffic. by S.L. Shaa Dickson. It’s a fun story about life from younger years to the Golden years. Hope you enjoy it.

In Shaa’s spare time, she shares a fun hobby with her family. She often sets up acrylic paints and paints on smooth river rocks, old plates and flat paint stir sticks. Art is life and life is art, and whether the tools be words or a brush stroke, they make our world a more beautiful place.

Shaa and her husband reside in northwestern Ontario with their sheltie mix dog, Lacey.

Before launching her writing career, the multi-talented Roxy Boroughs was an accomplished stage and film actor who appeared in the TV series DEGRASSI JUNIOR HIGH; and top-rated movies such as IT MUST BE LOVE, starring Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen.

Look for her romantic comedy CRAZY FOR COWBOY; her suspense series PSYCHIC HEAT, featuring the award-winning novel A STRANGER’S TOUCH; and the popular FROST FAMILY CHRISTMAS series, marrying sweet romance with cozy mystery.

November 2021 marks the release of two original heartwarming holiday stories. Watch for THE SPRITE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, published in the sweet romance anthology HUGS, KISSES AND MISTLETOE WISHES; and A CHRISTMAS CAROLE, featured in CHRISTMAS ROMANCE DIGEST 2021: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, edited by Tracy Cooper-Posey.

Roxy is married to her first love, so she not only writes romance, she lives it! If she’s not typing away at her desk, she’s reading, quilting, whipping up a fabulous new recipe, or hiking around the Rocky Mountain village she calls home, where mule deer and bighorn sheep roam the streets.

“From vikings to viscounts, join the adventure, live the romance.”

Living by the motto “You don’t know unless you try”, A.M.Westerling started writing historical romance because she couldn’t find the kinds of fun stories she enjoyed. After all, she thought, who doesn’t enjoy a tasty helping of dashing heroes and spunky heroines, seasoned with a liberal sprinkle of passion and adventure?

Westerling, a former engineer, is a member of the Romance Writers of America and active in her local chapter. As well as writing, she enjoys cooking, gardening, camping, yoga, and watching pro sports. She lives in Calgary, Canada.

http://www.amwesterling.com/index.html

Raine Hughes was born in central Canada, growing up on a dairy farm in a prairie province. She milked cows in the lands down under (Australia and New Zealand) as well as in Canada before settling down with her husband and assorted livestock and exotic birds. With a favorite TV show being the I Dream of Jeannie series, naturally Hughes thought of writing something similar and started her own Down to Earth Magical Romances in sub-genres including paranormal, fantasy and contemporary. She likes to write on the ‘sweeter’ side rather than ‘dark’ because the world needs more ways to lighten the mood. As a member of a Canadian chapter of the Romance Writers of America, as well as having membership in other writing groups, she enjoys reading most any romance along with books in a variety of the other genres.