Thursday, July 28, 2022

Blog Tour Review & Excerpt: Point Last Seen (Gothic #1) by Christina Dodd

Author: Christina Dodd

ISBN: 9781335623973

Publication Date: June 21, 2022

Publisher: HQN Books

Book Summary:

From New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd comes a brand new, standalone suspense about a reclusive artist who retrieves a seemingly dead woman from the Pacific Ocean...only to have her come back to life with no memory of what happened to her. With a strong female protagonist, a chilling villain, and twisty secrets that will keep you turning the pages. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Karin Slaughter and Sandra Brown, POINT LAST SEEN, will have readers keeping the lights on all night.


When you’ve already died, there should be nothing left to fear… When Adam Ramsdell pulls Elle’s half-frozen body from the surf on a lonely California beach, she has no memory of what her full name is and how she got those bruises ringing her throat.


Elle finds refuge in Adam’s home on the edge of Gothic, a remote village located between the steep lonely mountains and the raging Pacific Ocean. As flashes of her memory return, Elle faces a terrible truth—buried in her mind lurks a secret so dark it could get her killed.


Everyone in Gothic seems to hide a dark past. Even Adam knows more than he will admit. Until Elle can unravel the truth, she doesn’t know who to trust, when to run and who else might be hurt when the killer who stalks her nightmares appears to finish what he started…

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A Morning in February

Gothic, California

The storm off the Pacific had been brutal, a relentless night of cold rain and shrieking wind. Adam Ramsdell had spent the hours working, welding and polishing a tall, heavy, massive piece of sculpture, not hearing the wailing voices that lamented their own passing, not shuddering when he caught sight of his own face in the polished stainless steel. He sweated as he moved swiftly to capture the image he saw in his mind, a clawed monster rising from the deep: beautiful, deadly, dangerous.

And as always, when dawn broke, the storm moved on and he stepped away, he realized he had failed.

Impatient, he shoved the trolley that held the sculpture toward the wall. One of claws swiped his bare chest and proved to him he’d done one thing right: razor-sharp, it opened a long, thin gash in his skin. Blood oozed to the surface. He used his toe to lock the wheels on the trolley, securing the sculpture in case of the occasional California earth tremor.

Then with the swift efficiency of someone who had dealt with minor wounds, his own and others’, he found a clean towel and stanched the flow. Going into the tiny bathroom, he washed the site and used superglue to close the gash. The cut wasn’t deep; it would hold.

He tied on his running shoes and stepped outside into the short, bent, wet grass that covered his acreage. The rosemary hedge that grew at the edge of his front porch released its woody scent. The newly washed sunlight had burned away the fog, and Adam started running uphill toward town, determined to get breakfast, then come home to bed. Now that the sculpture was done and the storm had passed, he needed the bliss of oblivion, the moments of peace sleep could give him.

Yet every year as the Ides of March and the anniversary of his failure approached, nightmares tracked through his sleep and followed him into the light. They were never the same but always a variation on a theme: he had failed, and in two separate incidents, people had died…

The route was all uphill; nevertheless, each step was swift and precise. The sodden grasses bent beneath his running shoes. He never slipped; a man could die from a single slip. He’d always known that, but now, five years later, he knew it in ways he could never forget.

As he ran, he shed the weariness of a long night of cutting, grinding, hammering, polishing. He reached the asphalt and he lengthened his stride, increased his pace.

He ran past the cemetery where a woman knelt to take a chalk etching of a crumbling headstone, past the Gothic Museum run by local historian Freya Goodnight.

The Gothic General Store stood on the outside of the lowest curve of the road. Today the parking lot was empty, the rockers were unoccupied, and the store’s sixteen-year-old clerk lounged in the open door. “How you doing, Mr. Ramsdell?” she called.

He lifted his hand. “Hi, Tamalyn.”

She giggled.

Somehow, on the basis of him waving and remembering her name, she had fallen in love with him. He reminded himself that the dearth of male teens in the area left him little competition, but he could feel her watching him as he ran past the tiny hair salon where Daphne was cutting a local rancher’s hair in the outdoor barber chair.

His body urged him to slow to a walk, but he deliberately pushed himself.

Every time he took a turn, he looked up at Widow’s Peak, the rocky ridge that overshadowed the town, and the Tower, the edifice built by the Swedish silent-film star who in the early 1930s had bought land and created the town to her specifications.

At last he saw his destination, the Live Oak, a four-star restaurant in a one-star town. The three-story building stood at the corner of the highest hairpin turn and housed the eatery and three exclusive suites available for rent.

When Adam arrived he was gasping, sweating, holding his side. Since his return from the Amazon basin, he had never completely recovered his stamina.


At the corner of the building, he turned to look out at the view.

The vista was magnificent: spring-green slopes, wave-battered sea stacks, the ocean’s endless surges, and the horizon that stretched to eternity. During the Gothic jeep tour, Freya always told the tourists that from this point, if a person tripped and fell, that person could tumble all the way to the beach. Which was an exaggeration. Mostly.

Adam used the small towel hooked into his waistband to wipe the sweat off his face. Then disquiet began its slow crawl up his spine.

Someone had him under observation.

He glanced up the grassy hill toward the olive grove and stared. A glint, like someone stood in the trees’ shadows watching with binoculars. Watching him.

No. Not him. A peregrine falcon glided through the shredded clouds, and seagulls cawed and circled. Birders came from all over the word to view the richness of the Big Sur aviary life. As he watched, the glint disappeared. Perhaps the birder had spotted a tufted puffin. Adam felt an uncomfortable amount of relief in that: it showed a level of paranoia to imagine someone was watching him, but…

But. He had learned never to ignore his instincts. The hard way, of course.

He stepped into the restaurant doorway, and from across the restaurant he heard the loud snap of the continental waiter’s fingers and saw the properly suited Ludwig point at a small, isolated table in the back corner. Adam’s usual table.

Before Adam took a second step, he made an inventory of all possible entrances and exits, counted the number of occupants and assessed them as possible threats, and evaluated any available weapons. An old habit, it gave him peace of mind.

Three exits: front door, door to kitchen, door to the upper suites.

Mr. Kulshan sat by the windows, as was his wont. He liked the sun, and he lived to people-watch. Why not? He was in his midnineties. What else had he to do?

In the conference room, behind an open door, reserved for a business breakfast, was a long table with places set for twenty people.

A young couple, tourists by the look of them, held hands on the table and smiled into each other’s eyes.

Nice. Really nice to know young love still existed.

There, her back against the opposite wall, was an actress. Obviously an actress. She had possibly arrived for breakfast, or to stay in one of the suites. Celebrities visits happened often enough that most of the town was blasé, although the occasional scuffle with the paparazzi did lend interest to the village’s tranquil days.

She wasn’t pretty. Her face was too angular, her mouth too wide, her chin too determined. She was reading through a stack of papers and using a marker to highlight and a ballpoint to make notes… And she wore glasses. Not casual I need a little visual assistance glasses. These were Coke-bottle bottoms set in lime-green frames.

Interesting: Why had an actress not had laser surgery? Not that it mattered. Behind those glasses her brown eyes sparked with life, interest and humor, although he didn’t understand how someone could convey all that while never looking up. She had shampoo-commercial hair—long, dark, wavy, shining—and when she caught it in her hand and shoved it over one shoulder, he felt his breath catch.

A gravelly voice interrupted a moment that had gone on too long and revealed too clearly how Adam’s isolation had affected him. “Hey, you. Boy! Come here.” Mr. Kulshan beckoned. Mr. Kulshan, who had once been tall, sturdy and handsome. Then the jaws of old age had seized him, gnawed him down to a bent-shouldered, skinny old man.

Adam lifted a finger to Ludwig, indicating breakfast would have to wait.

Ludwig glowered. Maybe his name was suggestive, but the man looked like Ludwig van Beethoven: rough, wild, wavy hair, dark brooding eyes under bushy eyebrows, pouty lips, cleft in the chin. He seldom talked and never smiled. Most people were afraid of him.

Adam was not. He walked to Mr. Kulshan’s table and took a seat opposite the old man. “What can I do for you, sir?”

“Don’t call me sir. I told you, call me K.H.”

Adam didn’t call people by their first names. That encouraged friendliness.

“If you can’t do that, call me Kulshan.” With his fork, the old guy stabbed a lump of breaded something and handed it to Adam. “What do you think this is?”

Adam had traveled the world, learned to eat what was offered, so he took the fork, sniffed the lump and nibbled a corner. “I believe it’s fried sweetbread.”

Mr. Kulshan made a gagging noise. “My grandmother made us eat sweetbread.” He bit it off the end of the fork. “This isn’t as awful as hers.” With loathing, he said, “This is Frenchie food.”

“Señor Alfonso is Spanish.”

Mr. Kulshan ignored Adam for all he was worth. “Next thing you know, this Alfonso will be scraping snails off the sidewalk and calling it escargots.”

“Actually…” Adam caught the twinkle in Mr. Kulshan’s eyes and stood. “Fine. Pull my chain. I’m going to have breakfast.”

Mr. Kulshan caught his wrist. “Have you heard what Caltrans is doing about the washout?” He referred to the California Department of Transportation and their attempts to repair the Pacific Coast Highway and open it to traffic.

“No. What?”

“Nothing!” Mr. Kulshan cackled wildly, then nodded at the actress. “The girl. Isn’t she something? Built like a brick shithouse.”

Interested, Adam settled back into the chair. “Who is she?”

“Don’t you ever read People magazine? That’s Clarice Burbage. She’s set to star in the modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s…um…one of Shakespeare’s plays. Who cares? She’ll play a king. Or something. That’s the script she’s reading.”

Clarice looked up as if she’d heard them—which she had, because Mr. Kulshan wore hearing aids that didn’t work well enough to compensate for his hearing loss—and smiled and nodded genially.

Mr. Kulshan grinned at her. “Hi, Clarice. Loved you in Inferno!”

“Thank you, K.H.” She projected her voice so he could hear her.

Mr. Kulshan shot Adam a triumphant look that clearly said See? Clarice Burbage calls me by my first name.

The actress-distraction was why the two men were surprised when the door opened and a middle-aged, handsome, casually dressed woman with cropped red hair walked in.

Mr. Kulshan made a sound of disgust. “Her.”

Excerpted from Point Last Seen by Christina Dodd. Copyright © 2022 by Christina Dodd. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.


What I thought about Point Last Seen

The story opens with a man finding a woman's body on the beach, just as he's contemplating how he might resolve his own tortuous past.  Amazingly, he is able to revive the woman who he thought was dead, only to find she has amnesia.  Her nightly screams of terror land her in his bed, and well you know how that's going to end.
But there's more to this story in the form of a fairly complex mystery or really sets of mysteries in this town of Gothic.  The town really is the centerpiece of this story, with it's unique and diverse characters all who believe that Gothic is for lost souls.
At first, I wasn't really sure all of what was going on in this book.  There are multiple characters who may be victims or targets of others, and at first I thought everyone in the town was hiding out from someone!  I did like the quirky town quite a bit, especially their Psychic fair.
As Elle's memories return, she falls more in love with Adam her savior, but there are many dangers in the town of Gothic that can impact both Adam and Elle. 
I definitely liked the cast of characters here, and the town, but I did find the pace of the story a bit slow for this reader.  There was repetition as Elle recovers her memories and I just wished that things moved a bit faster in the story than they did.  
I adored Elle and Adam and what they had to go through to get to their HEA. I always enjoy smart, capable women, and there are plenty in this book to like.  Adam is unique in that he is a master sword maker and other things. He fits in as a lost soul in Gothic.
Overall, an interesting story and a entertaining mystery/ thriller. I will be looking for more from the town of Gothic in the future.

About the Author


New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes "edge-of-the-seat suspense" (Iris Johansen) with "brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd" (ALA Booklist). Her fifty-eight books have been called "scary, sexy, and smartly written" by Booklist and, much to her mother's delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. Enter Christina's worlds and join her mailing list at

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @ChristinaDodd

Facebook: Christina Dodd

Instagram: @christinadoddbooks


Sunday, July 24, 2022

Release Week Review: Honor 'N" Duty (Federal K-9 #6) by Tee O'Fallon


Two years after his brother’s murder in jail, Department of Homeland Security K-9 Officer Kade Sampson is still haunted by guilt. No man should ever have to arrest his own brother, even if he is laundering money for a drug cartel. Fortunately, Laia Velez—his brother’s gorgeous widow—never learned the truth about Kade’s involvement. But when she asks him for help, he knows that trouble with the cartel is far from over…

Kade is the last person Laia wants to call. But between her house being thoroughly trashed and the uneasy sense that she and her young daughter are being watched, Laia isn’t taking any chances. The cartel wants something from her. And Kade and his K-9 partner, Smoke, are her only chance to survive whatever fresh hell is coming their way…

Now Laia and Kade are trying to stay one step ahead in a game that’s growing more deadly by the minute. But what the cartel wants, the cartel gets. And Kade is running out of time to save the woman he loves from the same fate that killed his brother…

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What I thought about Honor 'N' Duty 

The story begins with a fateful "trapped-in-an-elavator" scene where Kade Sampson happens to meet a woman named Laia who really grabs his heart. Only her then finds out she is his brother's fiance.  Whoa. That puts the breaks on that relationship but when Kade's brother is killed in prison, and Laia needs help, he must cross the forbidden bro-code zone and spend time with the woman he really wants.

The Cartel part of this story is standard organized crime stuff -- they want something they think Laia has, and she is in danger. Kade is ready to step in with assistance from his other agent friends and K-9's.

What I love most about this series are the K-9's.  Kade's K-9 partner Smoke is just fun to read about as are the rest of the K-9's and there are plenty of Kade's friends in this story, which absolutely made this an entertaining reading experience for this reader.  Love the dogs!

As for Kade and Laia's story, it's standard romance and there's not many surprises, although Kade does really put himself out there. There's good action in the second half and an interesting cast of supporting characters. I'm hoping Jamie gets a story here too, he was an interesting and very secretive character.

So overall, an entertaining reading experience.


About the author

Tee O'Fallon

Tee O'Fallon is the author of the Federal K-9 Series and the NYPD Blue & Gold Series. Tee has been a federal agent for twenty-three years and is now a police investigator, giving her hands-on experience in the field of law enforcement that she combines with her love of romantic suspense. When not writing, Tee enjoys cooking, gardening, chocolate, lychee martinis, and spending time with her Belgian Sheepdogs Loki and Kyrie. Tee loves hearing from readers and can be contacted via her website where you can also sign up for Tee’s newsletters.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

5 Stars for A Little Wilder (Wilder Adventures #4) by Serena Bell


 What happened in Vegas? Definitely didn’t stay in Vegas. 

Gabe’s the oldest. Brody’s the bad boy. Clark’s the strong, silent warrior. Amanda’s the girl. And Easton—well, Easton’s the panty melter. 

I’m Kane. 

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad job. But usually, I’m not the one people are talking about. 

That’s about to change. Because the woman I had a smoking hot one-night stand with in Vegas? The one I should have stayed far, far away from, since women like her are my kryptonite? 

She’s the same woman my brother just hired to redesign his fancy new glamping RVs.

I haven’t seen her since Vegas, but the instant I lay eyes on her, I can tell my quiet role as the boy-next-door brother is about to change. 

She’s pregnant.

And it’s mine.

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What I thought about A Little Wilder

I've been loving this series based on the Wilder family. Forced to change their livelihood in response to market changes in their small town, each of the Wilder men have also found love along the way. This book tells the story of Kane Wilder, the youngest brother in the group.

Kane has always been seen as the dependable one, the "boy next door." But one fateful night he decides to break from his usual and has a mind-blowing one night stand in Las Vegas. Only the woman has a connection to the family business, and ends up at the Wilder homestead and business. It's a surprise to all, especially her pregnancy. I adore the whole "secret-baby" trope and this is just such a great moment.

Being the good guy that he is, he tells Marigold Barrymore (yes, that's her name -- and she lives up to it! ) Kane is determined to show the nomadic Mari why she needs to stay with him after the baby is born. In the process of spending time together, Mari sees some of Kane's deepest feelings and abilities, forging a real connection between them. These two just click on all cylinders from the start.

But there is the question of whether she will stay or not that haunts Kane. I absolutely loved the post-partum scene where everything falls apart and Mari gets to experience just what being a Wilder is all about.

I loved this. It's sweet and sexy. Kane and Mari are made for each other. I loved his strength and honor and her view of the world was a perfect complement. This is a terrific romance series if you are looking for something with realistic drama and a melt-your-heart HEA.

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author and RT Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee Serena Bell writes richly emotional stories about big-hearted characters with real troubles and the people who are strong and generous enough to love them.

A former journalist, Serena has always believed that everyone has an amazing story to tell if you listen carefully, and she adores hiding in her tiny garret office, mainlining chocolate and bringing to life the tales in her head.

When not writing, Serena loves to spend time with her college-sweetheart husband and two hilarious kiddos—all of whom are incredibly tolerant not just of Serena’s imaginary friends but also her enormous collection of constantly changing and passionately embraced hobbies, ranging from needlepoint to paddle boarding to meditation.


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

5 Stars for The Bodyguard by Katherine Center


She’s got his back.
Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindgerten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka "bodyguard"), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.

He’s got her heart.
Jack Stapleton’s a household name—captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.

They’ve got a secret.
When Jack’s mom gets sick, he comes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah—against her will and her better judgment—finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, like a jerk, says no one will believe it.

What could possibly go wrong???
Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.

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What I thought about The Bodyguard

The world of executive protection, blockbuster actors and small town life mash up together in this absolutely lovely opposites-attract romance from Katherine Center.  I just loved this story,Hannah, Jack and everyone in the executive protection group. What a terrific reading experience this was!

Hannah is facing some very serious and debilitating situations at the start of the story.  She's just lost her mother, her job isn't going great, her boyfriend has dumped her and worse.  And in order to get a much-coveted assignment in London, she'll have to be the bodyguard for the hottest Hollywood actor, who just happens to have disappeared from the acting scene.

Definitely not a girly-girl, Hannah likes her pantsuits and everything just-so. Then she meets Jack.  In order to blend in, she pretends to be his girlfriend.  She has to give up her pantsuits for summer dresses and sandals.  I absolutely related to Hannah in so many ways -- I just loved her so much. 

Jack is the heartthrob everyone wants, but he's very aware of the pitfalls of fame.  He's also nursing a Texas-sized ache in his heart for his recently deceased brother who died in a car accident they were both involved in. He's estranged from his brother and his mother is in a serious medical situation.  He's asked to come home, and like the good man he is, he returns home.  With fake-girlfriend/bodyguard at this side, he returns to the family ranch to be with his mom.  It's here on the ranch that both Hannah and Jack find friendship, healing and love as they deal with everyday things. 

The writing here is so easy and just flows. I fell right into the story by the third page and couldn't put it down until I finished it.  I just wanted to spend time with these characters.  And the ending is just perfect -- there's a twist that provides some action, but I just can't say enough about how it's the friendship between Hannah and Jack that made this story for me. There's humor and understanding, patience and progress in how both these characters experience life and the world.  I just can't say enough about this story.

Definitely recommended.  Romance readers-- this is what it's all about!  Get this one and enjoy!


About the Author

Katherine Center is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of How to Walk Away, as well as the upcoming novel, Things You Save in a Fire (August 13, 2019). She’s also written five other bittersweet comic novels about love and family, including The Bright Side of Disaster, The Lost Husband,and Happiness for Beginners. The Lost Husband is currently in production as a feature film starring Josh Duhamel and Leslie Bibb. Katherine’s work has appeared in Redbook, InStyle, People, USA Today, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, Real Simple, Southern Living, InTouch, the Dallas Morning News, and the Houston Chronicle, and many others. 

Sunday, July 17, 2022

4 Stars for What Lies Beneath (Laura Chambers Mystery #2) by J. G. Hetherton


The deeply flawed but intrepid Laura Chambers, from the "dark and vivid rabbit hole" (David Bell) of a thriller Last Girl Gone, finds herself lost in the deadly webs of small town secrets as she hunts for the truth about her father, who mysteriously disappeared several years ago.

Tell me two truths and a lie.

A year after her tangle with a local killer that left her disfigured, Laura is done licking her wounds. And she's done with the small town of Hillsborough, North Carolina. But the sheriff just found the mangled body of a woman who was reported missing several weeks ago. Her last phone call was to Laura.

With an unidentifiable face, Laura can't shed light on why she was this woman's final call. To break free of the hostile sheriff's suspicion, Laura digs into the history of the deceased. What she finds completely upturns all she thought she knew or remembered. It's an old picture of Laura from when she was just a young girl, standing with her father, her father's best friend, and another little girl who Laura could have sworn was just a figment of her imagination. What else has she been mistaking for fiction? For truth? And more importantly--what did this woman have to do with her missing father? What was she calling to tell Laura?

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What I thought about What Lies Beneath

When reporter Laura Chambers is called into the investigation of a fatal vehicular incident, it turns out her roots are quite deep in the bigger mystery of why a Jane Doe calls her minutes before she is killed.

Laura is an interesting character. She's not above fibbing or worse to get what she needs in her investigation. She wasn't always likable to me, and that was a surprise for this reader. I liked that Laura wasn't my favorite character in this story.

As Laura's investigation continues, she learns that she has connections to the mysterious victim and to the local man on death row, called the Shotgun Slayer. When she finally puts it all together, there's certain danger for her as she uncovers the family secrets, real motivations and killers.

I liked how all the clues came together in this story. I did think it took a little while for this reader to get into the story, but somewhere after all the clues started making sense and the pace picked up, I fell into it and couldn't read to the end fast enough to find out how it all fit together.

I also thought that things really worked for me when Laura was partnered up with FBI Agent Timinski. There was a certain energy to the story when these two characters were together that left me wanting more of their story.

When I selected this book to read and review, I didn't realize it's the second book in a series. I have not read this author before. It didn't keep me from enjoying this book, and this one works as a standalone. I can't say how much reading book 1 would have enhanced Laura Chambers' background for this reader. Maybe I would have liked her more, I don't know, but this book works as a standalone and you might be intrigued to learn more about her. I liked the writing in the second half of the book a bit more than the first half.

Overall, a well-crafted mystery with characters who are often difficult to like, but also interesting and complex. I would read another book by this author and I may have to find some space in my reading list to catch up by reading book one in the series.

 Last Girl Gone, the first book in this series
is currently on sale for $1.99 on the Zon.  


About the Author

J.G. Hetherton was raised in rural Wisconsin, graduated from Northwestern University, and lived in Chicago for the better part of a decade. Along the way to his first novel, he dabbled in many different day jobs before moving to North Carolina for a girl. They live in Durham, North Carolina with their twin daughters, and when he’s not writing, you can find him on the hiking trail or sitting down with a good book. 


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Tuesday, July 12, 2022

5 Big Stars for Love Lessons (Brooklyn #7) by Sarina Bowen


Cover Design: Hang Le
Cover Photo: Wander Aguiar Photography

He needs an image makeover, she needs a mojo upgrade. A new lessons-in-seduction hockey romance from Wall Street Journal bestselling author Sarina Bowen.

After I’m arrested for throwing a raucous party, my hockey team says I have an image problem. And I need to fix it, stat.

Charity work? Check. Haircut? Sure. But I draw the line at hiring my neighbor to style me. In the first place “style” shouldn’t be a verb. And I’m tired of people who’d judge me on appearances.

Vera and I don’t see eye to eye on anything. She wants me to try on clothes, while I just want to remove hers. She's distractingly pretty, with soulful eyes and a sinful mouth that likes to argue with me.

But when management threatens my summer vacation, I grudgingly agree to Vera’s unusual proposal: she’ll give me an image makeover. But in return, she wants lessons in the art of seduction.

It sounds a little nutty, but I know a good opening when I hear it. Besides, it’s not like I’ll ever fall for her…


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What I thought about Love Lessons

Sarina Bowen has used many contemporary issues in her romances, and she's taken on the opioid crisis, infertility, and now accessibility.  Not easy topics for romance and yet she pulls it off each time with an uplifting story that brings awareness to these issues. I find that very sensitive and smart. It's what brings me back to this author each release.  The current release is Love Lessons. 

Brooklyn Bruiser Ian Crikey meets Vera Vestini the stylist in this opposites attract story.  When Ian needs a stylist and Vera asks Ian to help her learn seduction, he's all-in with bells on.

But Ian has a few of his own demons to slay and at first he views Vera as a distraction from the state of his career and the state of his personal life.  Things take a physical turn when Vera joins the players and their significant others on vacation together, giving Ian and Vera plenty of opportunity to get to know each other better. These two are super hot and sexy together, but even better, they develop some real feelings for each other that neither one expected.

The supporting cast from previous books in the series brightens the story in a way that fans of the series will appreciate, and the villains in the story don't muck things up too much for the featured couple.  Everything was just perfectly tuned in Love Lessons.

One thing that sometimes bugs me about romance is when the ending is rushed.  That's not the case here.  There are loose ends to tie up, and they do get addressed, which I absolutely loved.  I'll admit to a wet eye or two over O'Doul... well, not going to spoil anything, but I thought the ending (and really the entire story) was top-notch romance material all the way around, both the love story between Ian and Vera and the bro-mance between these hockey teammates.

I was smiling and satisfied by the time I got to The End, which is exactly what I want when I read romance.  Definitely recommended. (Oh, and did I mention my favorite team doc? ;-)



About Sarina

Sarina Bowen is the award-winning author of more than thirty contemporary novels. She has hit the USA Today bestseller's list sixteen times and counting. Formerly a derivatives trader on Wall Street, Sarina holds a BA in economics from Yale University.

Sarina is a New Englander whose Vermont ancestors cut timber and farmed the north country since the 1760s. Sarina is grateful for the invention of indoor plumbing and wi-fi during the intervening 250 years. She lives with her family on a few wooded acres in New Hampshire.

Sarina's books are published in a dozen languages on four continents.


Release Blitz & Review:Be With Me (Adair Family #4) by Samantha Young


 A best friends to lovers story set against the atmospheric backdrop of the Scottish Highlands.

 Be With Me by Samantha Young is now live!

 It was the friends-with-benefits proposition he never saw coming...

While Arran Adair might have followed the call of wanderlust in his younger years, it isn't the reason he stayed away from Ardnoch. Home now, desperate to put the sins of his past behind him, and rebuild his life in the Scottish Highlands, Arran could never have predicted Eredine Willows. The Ardnoch Estate Pilates instructor is a complicated mystery and one Arran can't help but want to solve.

Eredine has spent the last eight years hiding in Scotland and building walls between her and the people she cares about. Arran is the first Adair who doesn't treat her as if she's fragile and demands a genuine friendship. Yet, the attraction sizzling between them is undeniable. So when she realizes she trusts him, Eredine surprises them both by offering Arran one night of no-strings passion.

Arran knows one night will inevitably lead to a desire for more and he's willing to stay by Eredine's side for as long as it takes to convince her there's something real between them. However, just when Arran thinks they might build a future together, Eredine's past returns to stalk her. And Arran won't just have to battle her demons to keep them together. He'll need to battle his own.


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What I thought about Be With Me
In Be With Me, the fourth installment of the Adair family series from Samantha Young,  Arran Adair finds a connection with the mysterious Eredine, but will their past come back to ruin everything?

Arran Adair returns home after being away from Scotland and his family for three years.  He's not up to discussing what happened to him and what brought him home, and his family is just glad to have him back.  He develops a friendship with Eredine and wants more, but she tells him that she doesn't do relationships.

But the gently and well-meaning teasing of the Adair women gets Eredine thinking of a one night stand with Arran, but it doesn't quite work out that way. But both Arran and Eredine have secrets from each other that threatens their relationship.

There's also continuing criminal behavior between Eredine's past and an unseen enemy.  While I thought this vengeance-type plot was done already in this series, there was a bit of a twist to make it interesting.  There's also a good setup for Brodan's story, which I'm looking forward to.

Overall, I liked Arran and Eredine's story.  It's a great addition to the series, and the covers are amazing!


Meet Samantha

Samantha Young is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She's been nominated for several Goodreads Choice Awards. Samantha writes adult contemporary and paranormal romance, YA urban fantasy and YA contemporary fiction and is currently published in 31 countries.

She resides in Scotland.

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Monday, July 11, 2022

Release Day Review: Hottie On Her Shelf by Christi Barth


The more they fight, the more they want to kiss...

All Hallie Scott ever wanted was to be a librarian. Now she had her dream job. Life was perfect. Until her best friend secretly signed her up to run for mayor of their small Maine town. All Mayor Fitz Montgomery ever wanted was...well, it didn’t matter what he wanted. His family had run Swan Cove--and owned much of it--for almost two centuries. It was expected that he take up the mantle of mayor. He didn’t like it. He didn’t hate it. Mostly, Fitz didn’t want to rock the boat.

Raised in the much poorer neighboring town all of Swan Cove sneered at, Hallie didn’t think she had a chance at winning. She marched down to City Hall to pull out. Until she heard handsome-and-he-knows-it Mayor Fitz making jokes about her last-minute addition to the ballot. Now she still doesn’t so much want to be mayor--she just wants him to lose. So she turns to her beloved books to find a way to beat his entitled ass.

There’s no way the current mayor can lose to the librarian. But she’s...awkward at campaign events. Fitz wants it to at least be a fair fight. He starts helping her--even when she starts gaining in the polls. He’s still certain he’ll win the mayorship he doesn’t want. The chances are growing, however, that he’ll lose his heart in the process...


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What I thought about Hottie On Her Shelf

Small town politics gets a spotlight in Hottie on Her Shelf, when local librarian Hallie is put on the ballot by a well-meaning friend to unseat the incumbent -- Fitz Montgomery.  There's been a Montgomery in the mayor's seat forever, and Fitz is about to have some real competition from Hallie. 

Hallie is just about to withdraw from the competition when she overhears Fitz and his campaign manager talking about the campaign and she gets irritated by their attitude.  What I really liked about this story is that Fitz's attraction to Hallie is evident from the very start, but he's put in a precarious situation if he wants to get closer to her, seeing as they are now political rivals.

But he does find a way in by helping Hallie navigate the political climate and the campaign, as they fight and flirt and fall in love along the way.  Fitz is terrific -- he's insightful and for the first time in his life seems to really look at what he wants in life.  So there was a nice bit in this about finding yourself and what kind of person you want to be.  Both Hallie and Fitz have a nice character arc her in this respect, as secrets unfold, and family drama could put a block on their relationship.

Hottie On Her Shelf is really a cute story with a very contemporary theme.  It's a very nice marriage of politics and romance, which especially in today's climate isn't an easy task.  This book was fun, and it left me with a smile.  Even though Hallie could be a bit irritating, I loved them together.  This is a feel good story that entertained me from start to finish. 


About the Author


 Christi Barth spent years performing in musicals, singing about love and giving people a happy ending in every performance. Then as a wedding planner she spent every day immersed in romance. Now - she writes it!

It is exciting to be able to share her love of the theatre with the world through her writing. Plus, her parents are thrilled that - in some fashion - she's still getting use out of her master's in music. She lives in Maryland with the absolutely best husband in the world (sorry ladies, it's true!).

Release Day Review: The Five Year Lie by Sarina Bowen

Bestselling romance author Sarina Bowen’s debut thriller, about one woman’s search for the truth after receiving a text from her deceased ex...