Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Book Blitz: Playing Defense - Aven Ellis (Dallas Demons #5) (Excerpt)

Dallas Demons #5 - can be read as a standalone
238 pages
Publisher - Soul Mate Publishing, LLC
Release Date - 27th September 2017

After a string of bad set-ups and boring dates, Reese Brannon is done with men. She’s focused on her job as a fitness model and blogger. Her life in the city is fun. She’s young. There’s no need to look for a man because she doesn’t want one. Especially when relationships usually end in heartbreak. 

Jean-Pierre Rochat—known as JP— is done with women. All this Swiss hockey player has ever wanted is to fall in love, but his relationships never end with a happily ever after. Believing he’s always going to be dealt the friend card, JP is over it. If he’s going to be stuck in the friend zone, he’ll keep things casual for his new endgame. 

But will one hot Dallas summer night change everything for Reese and JP? 

Because when the two meet again when JP returns for hockey season, Reese finds her attraction to him hasn’t waned since their first meeting. Charming and intelligent, JP is different in all the right ways, but Reese realizes letting him in will make her vulnerable, something that terrifies her. JP never forgot Reese from their initial introduction last winter, and the sparks fly for him even more so the second time. But with Reese, his thoughts are anything but casual . . . 

Can JP and Reese let their guards down to take a chance on love? Or will this simply be a game of playing defense? 




JP,” I say, heading over to it. “You got a piano?
“Yeah. My special delivery came today,” JP says, following me over to it. The piano is set up in the corner of his living room, next to the large bank of windows overlooking the city. “I can finally play again, which I’ve been wanting to do.”
“I didn’t know you played,” I say in amazement. “How did I not know this?”
“I love music,” JP says, sitting down on the bench. He pauses for a moment, rolling up the sleeves of his shirt and revealing his powerful, tanned forearms and causing my pulse to burn in response.
I swear there is nothing sexier than powerful forearms.
“I have to keep some things for you to discover about me,” JP says. “I’d hate for you to lose interest.”
“I don’t think you have to worry about that.”
“Good,” JP says. “Here, have a seat. I learned something for you today.”
My heart is about to burst as I sit down next to him.
“What?” I ask, amazed.
“It’s a piece in your honor,” JP says, flipping some sheet music.
His fingers begin flying across the keys, and a familiar tune fills the air.
I lose my breath as I realize what it is.
It’s “Under the Sea” from the movie The Little Mermaid.
JP begins to sing the words, his deep baritone filling the air, and I know he learned this song for his mermaid.
I swallow down tears as I listen to him sing. He’s an accomplished pianist, his fingers moving effortlessly as he plays. JP is a brilliant, amazing man with many gifts to give.
And he’s giving me this song.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Blog tour: Christmas at Mistletoe Cove - Holly Martin (Hope Island #3)

Growing up on Hope Island, Eden Lancaster always believed that if you wished hard enough for something, dreams really could come true. But Eden’s greatest wish is also her biggest secret: she has been completely in love with her childhood friend, the charming and attractive Dougie Harrison, for as long as she can remember. And he has no idea.

When Dougie leaves his successful life in New York to return home to Hope Island for good, Eden can’t escape her feelings. Her heart is full of hope that her romantic dreams are finally, at long last, going to come true…

This Christmas could change everything. But can a lifelong friendship really turn into the perfect romance? And will Eden get the happily ever after she’s always wished for?

My opinion.
I'm desperately running out of new ways to describe the magic of a Holly Martin novel. 
Her previous books already showed there's no better way than a Christmas + Holly Martin combination, but oh boy did this book surpass all my expectations and more! Nothing compares to the romance of the Christmas season and with Holly's gorgeous stories this only gets magnified... times a thousand.
I'm not sure how many more ways you can conjure up the perfect (book)boyfriend, but again, I've completely fallen in love with the hero in this story. Those men on Hope Island... Pfew!
Dougie Harrison is romantic, sweet, sexy, loving, caring,... and although his career and professional ambitions take a back seat to his and Eden's love story in this book, he's also creative and driven which makes him pretty much perfect. I don't blame Eden for fearing he's too good to be true. Although with Eden's humor, her passion for her job and the same qualities of being a caring, loving person, it's not hard to see why Dougie would be head over heals for her too.
As far as romance book series go, the Hope Island series is probably the best I've read. The sequence of seasons in the titles, the unique family that gave the opportunity for three separate love stories without feeling forced, the way that all three of them got their moment to shine, but without completely ignoring the others in the meantime,... The build-up for book two and three started in book one, and the relationships of the first two books also got their shining moment in the third one. Perfectly balanced. Not only are you completely immersed in the love story you're reading, you truly feel like you know and understand the characters better, thanks to knowing so much about their environment, but also about the most important people in their lives. This gives a whole extra debt to these stories. 
I could go on, but let's summarize: Holly Martin is a genius. Her stories and book heroes will make you swoon. And Christmas at Mistletoe Cove is just another perfect example of her skills as an author and storyteller. I'm in love!


also in the Hope Island series:


Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Blog tour: The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane - Ellen Berry (extract)


**Take a trip to the Yorkshire village of Burley Bridge, where a new arrival is going to shake things up…**
Growing up in a quiet Yorkshire village, Roxanne couldn’t wait to escape and find her place in the world in London. As a high-powered fashion editor she lives a glamorous life of perennial singlehood – or so it seems to her sister Della. But when Roxanne gets her heart broken by a fashion photographer, she runs away, back to Della’s welcoming home above her bookshop in Burley Bridge.
But Burley Bridge, Roxanne discovers, is even quieter than she remembered. There’s nothing to do, so Roxanne agrees to walk Della’s dog Stanley. It’s on these walks that Roxanne makes a startling discovery: the people who live in Burley Bridge are, well, just people – different from the fashion set she’s used to, but kind and even interesting. Michael, a widower trying to make a go of a small bakery, particularly so. Little by little, cupcake by cupcake, Roxanne and Michael fall into a comforting friendship.
Could there be a life for Roxanne after all, in the place she’s spent 46 years trying to escape?

Extract Seven from Chapter Two pp 29-30

Sean took her hand as they fell into a brisk walking pace. ‘I still can’t believe you were baking something for me,’ he added, throwing her a fond glance.
‘Hmm. Well, I probably won’t again.’
‘No, it’s really sweet of you. But it’s not very . . . you, is it?’
‘Obviously not,’ she muttered.
‘I mean, it seems more like something your sister would do. Didn’t she send you that tin of edible tree decorations at Christmas?’
‘Yes. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I hadn’t got it together to buy a tree . . .’ In fact, Roxanne had taken the delicious snowflake-shaped butter cookies into the office, and everyone had swooped upon them over drinks one afternoon. This was when Cathy was still editor and it was possible to have fun at work, in the days when there were frequent gales of laughter and the sound of a cork being popped.
‘I’d never have thought of you as a baker,’ he added.
‘Yes, okay, Sean . . .’
‘It’s quite sexy actually,’ he added, grinning now.
Despite the turn of events, she couldn’t help smiling. ‘I knew it. You actually want a wifey type in an apron, don’t you? That’s what you’ve been holding out for . . .’
‘God, yes,’ he teased. ‘Floury hands and lipstick on, waiting for your man to come home . . .’ He fell silent as they turned the corner into Roxanne’s tree-lined street.
‘Sean, look!’ They both stared. A fire engine was parked outside her block.
‘It’ll be okay,’ he said quickly, taking hold of her arm. ‘It might not be your place. It could be another flat . . .’ But this time, she shook him off and broke into an actual sprint. Despite her unsuitable footwear, she clattered towards the vehicle. She quickly spotted Isabelle, who was looking her usual elegant self – chic silver bob, simple navy blue dress – and hovering at the main door.
‘It was Henry who called them, love,’ she announced. ‘I told him it’d be nothing – that you’re always burning toast. A waste of resources, I said! I phoned your mobile a couple of times but it just rang—’
‘Sorry, Isabelle, I didn’t realise . . .’ Roxanne hurried past her and charged upstairs. She always put her phone on silent when she was out on a date with Sean.
‘I said you once burnt your fringe off the gas ring,’ Isabelle called after her, ‘when you were lighting a cigarette . . .’ The elderly woman’s voice faded, to be replaced by strident male tones on Roxanne’s landing on the top floor: ‘Sounds like someone’s coming now – finally. Christ, what a bloody waste of time . . .’


Monday, 11 September 2017

Book review: Quarterback - Dustin Stevens

Fifty-four minutes after Kris Hopkins was born, his father snuck into the hospital nursery and slid a miniature football into his hands. It has been there ever since, helping him through the death of his mother, through a childhood with a single parent that was always working, even getting him a college education.

Now thirty-seven and the aging star quarterback for the Portland Warriors, Kris suffers his fifth concussion and for the first time is forced to take stock of the life around him. Of the son that abhors football and goes out of his way to avoid games. Of the college sweetheart and mother of his child he never did right by. Of the fancy car and posh home that all lend themselves to an image he never intended to create.

More than that though, it forces him to take stock of his own mortality and trying to determine how someone that has always identified himself as a football player comes to grips with that part of his life ending.

My opinion.
One of the things I've always very much appreciated in Dustin Steven's writing, is the raw honesty of his characters. Whether it's their physical appearance, their behavior or thoughts, Dustin always gives you a 'real', unapologetic person. 
Although knowing next to nothing about football, the thrill of the game, the locker room excitement and the fan-euphoria described was contagious. Just as vivid was Kris' struggle coming to terms with his new, post-injury reality. 
Where it fell short for me, was Kris' personal life. His character struggles with finding a balance between "Kris Hopkins" and "the quarterback", and that conflict almost translated itself into the writing as well. Where "the quarterback's" turmoil was expressed so well, Kris' emotions when it comes to his personal relationships, remained a complete mystery throughout the book. To me it felt like there is so much more to this character and his story, and therefore the book just didn't live up to it's full potential. Missed opportunity.


Thursday, 7 September 2017

Book review: The Shadow Sister - Lucinda Riley (The Seven Sisters #3)

Star D'Aplièse is at a crossroads in her life after the sudden death of her beloved father - the elusive billionaire, named Pa Salt by his six daughters, all adopted by him from the four corners of the world. He has left each of them a clue to their true heritage, but Star - the most enigmatic of the sisters - is hesitant to step out of the safety of the close relationship she shares with her sister CeCe. In desperation, she decides to follow the first clue she has been left, which leads her to an antiquarian bookshop in London, and the start of a whole new world . . .

A hundred years earlier, headstrong and independent Flora MacNichol vows she will never marry. She is happy and secure in her home in the Lake District, living close to her idol, Beatrix Potter, when machinations outside her control lead her to London, and the home of one of Edwardian society's most notorious players, Alice Keppel. Flora is pulled between passionate love and duty to her family, but finds herself a pawn in a game - the rules of which are only known to others - until a meeting with a mysterious gentleman unveils the answers that Flora has been searching for her whole life . . .

As Star learns more of Flora's incredible journey, she too goes on a voyage of discovery, finally stepping out of the shadow of her sister and opening herself up to the possibility of love.

Transporting readers from the majestic mountains and lakes of Cumbria, to the glorious 'Garden of England' in Kent, The Shadow Sister is the third spellbinding story in the Seven zsisters series.

My opinion.
I literally only put this book down to eat, sleep and work. And reluctantly so.
My expectations for this one were pretty high. I've loved everything I read so far by Lucinda Riley, and the first two installments in The Seven Sisters series were, to be honest, simply brilliant. The Shadow Sister might just be my favourite in the series so far... although I probably felt this excited about the previous two as well. The amount of detail and research that goes into these profound characters and various complicated and surprising plot lines is, as always, astonishing. Lucinda Riley's talent to completely capture her readers knows no bounds.
Through the story of her two elder sisters, we already caught a few glimpses of Star, who up until the start of this book remained a complete mystery. I loved getting to know her, her interests and, of course, especially her family history. Maybe it's her ties to England or her love of books, but I fell in love with her character and this story immediately. Could not put this down.
As another sister's mystery is solved, the questions surrounding Pa Salt and the girls' unusual childhoods remain. I cannot wait to discover more of Atlantis' hidden secrets.
What a brilliant series.


Read the first two brilliant installments in The Seven Sisters series: