Holiday Romance: All Wrapped Up for the Holidays

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Get your free copy here: Book Funnel

Six standalone holiday short stories!

The Merry Mistake by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

Note to self: Ask Santa for glasses this year. When I accidentally mistook a gorgeous man resting outside my building for a homeless person in need of lunch, we got into it. I’d only been trying to do a good deed around the holidays, but he called me righteous. I called him something far worse. If only I didn’t have to see him again. But fate had other plans.

Finding Perfect by Colleen Hoover

A short story that brings back several of Colleen’s most beloved characters. Told from the point of view of Daniel from Finding Cinderella, readers will finally get the story they’ve been begging for more of. For the best reading experience, make sure you’ve read all three books that come together to make up this heartwarming and fun holiday short story; Finding Cinderella, Hopeless and All Your Perfects.

A Rock Chick Christmas by Kristen Ashley

What’s Christmas with the Starks like? Get a peek into the Rock Chick world and how Luke copes with Ava going Christmas gaga and just what he will, and won’t, do for his girls during the holidays.

Just Say When by Jill Shalvis

When the one you want …

Is the one you can’t seem to have…

Can love conquer all?

The Pact by Elle Kennedy

Thanks to my hectic schedule as a pro hockey player, my girl and I are spending more time apart than together. Luckily, I have a solution—a romantic New Year’s Eve getaway in the mountains, just me and Grace and plenty of sexytimes. Except this blizzard has other ideas…

The Package by K. Bromberg

Christmas week can’t get any worse for Jules Jilliland. Dumped by her boyfriend, rear-ended on the freeway, and fired from her job, she finds herself stuck in an elevator with a handsome stranger. When their packages are accidentally swapped, will it end up being a misfortunate accident that suddenly brightens her holidays?

Review

I saw Colleen Hoover talking about this book on Instagram (you can follow me here) and I instantly went to download it. This is also the first book that I started reading when I was coming out of the terrible flu that hit my house and it really helped get me out of my funk and back in the holiday spirit. I will be doing mini reviews for all the stories because my feelings were all over the place when it came to this collection of stories.

The Merry Mistake

This was a really cute heartwarming romance. I love the way Piper and Mason met. It was such a fun introduction to the two of them and the rest of the story was just as cute.

Finding Perfect

I was the most excited to read this story because Colleen Hoover took two of her stories and wove them together in this short story. Graham and Quinn are my favorite of her couples and their book, All Your Perfects put me into a month long book hangover earlier this year. I was so excited to read about what they are doing now and this book did not disappoint. I have never read any of Hoover’s YA books and I don’t think I will in the future. I felt for Daniel and Six and the heartbreak they were going through but I don’t think I would connect to either of them if there wasn’t this huge trauma they were dealing with.

Rock Chick Christmas

I didn’t really like this story at all. Of course I have never read any of her previous books in this series so I’m sure that is why. If I was already familiar with these characters going in then I would have had a stronger connection to them. Without that background this story just fell flat and I felt nothing for anyone. I am the kind of romance reader that needs to be invested in the romance to enjoy he payoff of the spicer scenes and I ended up just flipping though that part. Maybe in the future I will have a chance to read some Kristen Ashley and have a better appreciation for her work.

Just Say When

This story didn’t work for me purely because it has the miscommunication trope in it which is my least favorite thing to read. Well, it’s mostly not clarifying statements they made when they were first dating, but still with only two chapters it ended up just being an ok romance to me. The ending was very cute though and I’m happy I’m read it for that.

The Pact

This was a sweet and sexy hockey holiday romance (say that five times fast!). Grace and Logan are in two different places in life since Grace is still in school and Logan is a rookie pro hockey player. The story centers around them trying to figure out how to make time for their relationship and making sure that they stay a priority to each other. This was seriously so cute and I love Grace and Logan a lot which speaks to how great of an author Elle Kennedy is. I will for sure be making Elle Kennedy’s books a priority in 2020. I can’t believe I have been sleeping on this author for so long!

The Package

I love the premise of this story. It was such a fun idea that worked really well. Archer and Jules were both great characters and I liked seeing them get to know each other better. The story was a little predictable but for a holiday feel good romance this hit all the boxes.

~Cassie

 

 

Holiday Blog Tour: Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow

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I’m back today with my last post for the HQN Trade Publishing holiday blog tour. Which makes me sad because I had such a good time reading all these books and finding some new authors that I love. You can check out Day OneDay Two and Day Three by clicking the links. Don’t forget that the fun doesn’t stop here because this weekend I will be reviewing a couple of holiday romance short story collections. I’m also planning on reading more holiday romances during the lead up to Christmas because why stop the fun here when there are so many amazing books out there. All pictures and promotional material in this post is courtesy of HQN Trade Publishing but my review is 100% my own.

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AN ALASKAN CHRISTMAS

Author: Jennifer Snow

ISBN: 9781335041500

Publication Date: 9/24/2019

Publisher: HQN Books

Book Summary

In Alaska, it’s always a white Christmas—but the sparks flying between two reunited friends could turn it red-hot…

If there’s one gift Erika Sheraton does not want for Christmas, it’s a vacation. Ordered to take time off, the workaholic surgeon reluctantly trades in her scrubs for a ski suit and heads to Wild River, Alaska. Her friend Cassie owns a tour company that offers adventures to fit every visitor. But nothing compares to the adrenaline rush Erika feels on being reunited with Cassie’s brother, Reed Reynolds.

Gone is the buttoned-up girl Reed remembers. His sister’s best friend has blossomed into a strong, skilled, confident woman. She’s exactly what his search-and-rescue team needs—and everything he didn’t know he craved. The gulf between his life in Wild River and her big-city career is wide. But it’s no match for a desire powerful enough to melt two stubborn hearts…

Review

This was such a fun sexy romance. Erika and Reed have a sort of friends, kind of enemies vibe going on and I loved that instant connection they had with one another. As Erika and Reed are falling in love with each other they have some fun (and harrowing at times) adventures together and I think that just added up to me rooting for them even more.

They seem to live such different lives but the more they got to know each other the more they realized how much they had in common. Figuring this out about each other led them to falling love with each even faster and it was the sweetest thing to see. I love how strong their feelings were for each and how much the other person meant to the other. This story went in lots of different directions and I loved how they navigated all the twists and turns that came there way.

This is also the first book in a new series and I could definitely see some future stories being developed which makes me excited to see where the author goes from here. Of course the bonus to that is that we will hopefully get to see glimpses of Reed and Erika through other people’s stories. If you want to get a small taste of who Erika is then keep scrolling to read a first chapter excerpt of this awesome holiday romance.

 

Jennifer Snow

Author Bio

Jennifer Snow lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband and four year old son. She is a member of the RWA, the Alberta Writers Guild, Canadian Authors Association and SheWrites.org. Her first Brookhollow book was a finalist in the Heart of Denver Aspen Gold contest and the Golden Quill Award. More information can be found at http://www.jennifersnowauthor.com.

Social Links

Author Website

Twitter: @JenniferSnow18

Facebook: @jennifersnowbooks

Instagram: @jensnowauthor

Goodreads

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Her arms full of patient files, Dr. Erika Sheraton tipped her head back as Darren, her premed intern, poured a double shot of espresso down her throat. The hot liquid delivered the instant adrenaline boost she needed to get through the rest of her fourteen-hour shift.

Dinner? A quick glance at the clock on the wall above the nurses’ triage station revealed it was almost nine. A late dinner.

“How are you not vibrating? That’s your third in two hours.” Darren crumpled the paper cup and tossed it into a recycle bin as they walked.

“Caffeine stopped affecting me a long time ago. Now’s it’s about the taste,” she said, only half kidding. Double course loads and all-nighters in college and then med school had prepared her for the long hours she put in now as a general surgeon and caffeine had been her best friend.

The twentysomething looked like he could use a cup himself, as he stifled a yawn. His sandy blond hair poked up in the back as though he’d crawled out of bed at the last possible minute and his hazel eyes were bloodshot. If he was tired now after only eight hours on shift, he’d be reconsidering this particular profession by midnight. The staff at Alaska General Hospital never rested. The revolving doors at emergency constantly rotated with broken bones, heart attacks and bleeding patients filing in. No day was ever the same. Unpredictability kept Erika alert and on her toes.

“After these rounds, I’m going to need you to check in on Mr. Franklin—he’s in recovery. His family is wondering when they can see him.” The man’s entire extended family was camped out in the surgical ward waiting room—fifteen or sixteen of them at least. They couldn’t see the man, but they all refused to leave. Each one took turns driving the nurses on duty crazy. “Make sure they know only immediate family can go in. He needs his rest.”

Darren nodded, but a look of hesitation appeared behind his dark-rimmed glasses.

“What?” She checked her watch.

“I just… Well, shouldn’t you talk to them? I know his wife wanted to thank you…”

Erika shook her head. “Keeping him on the low-cholesterol, low-sodium diet I’ve prescribed—and off my operating table—will be thanks enough,” she said, scanning the top folder on her stack.

“Okay, but…”

She shot him a look.

“No problem. I’ll check in on him.”

“Thank you.” She continued down the hall toward the next high-priority patient.

“Don’t forget, your dad still wants to see you,” Darren said, struggling to keep up to her half sprint.

“I know.” And she could do without the hourly reminders. Her father rarely requested her presence during her rounds, so whatever it was wouldn’t be good. If she put him off long enough, maybe he’d forget. 

 “Top chart—Mr. Grayson. He’s scheduled for an appendectomy in a few hours,” she said, approaching the man’s hospital room.

Darren nodded as he smiled. “This old guy is hilarious. Did you know he was a stunt motorcycle driver in the circus in the ’80s?”

“No.” She knew he had an inflamed appendix and had waited far too long to come in. She knew his vitals and that in an hour, they’d be prepping him for surgery. Knowing personal details of a patient’s life didn’t make her job any easier or guarantee a better outcome. She juggled the files on one arm as she reached into her pocket for a new set of sterile gloves.

“Hey, before we go in there, can I talk to you?” Darren asked, stopping her outside the room. He stared at the checked patterned floor tiles.

Damn. “You’re requesting a transfer to a different physician.” He wasn’t the first medical student who’d gotten reassigned. She’d made it a month with Darren—a new record.

Another intern bites the dust.

He nodded, obviously relieved that he hadn’t had to vocalize it himself. “You’re amazing, Dr. Sheraton, and I feel so fortunate for the opportunity to work with you, but you’re also very busy and unavailable…”

The sharp sting of the words was familiar. She’d heard the same speech from interns and boyfriends alike. She’d successfully eliminated the problem in one group right after her first year of residency…interns were hospital assigned and therefore out of her control.

“I mean I just need all the training I can get and between patients and your research work…”

She didn’t need an explanation. She was busy. Too busy to have someone following her around in fact. This was totally fine with her. “I understand.”

“You’re not upset?”

“Only about having to get my own coffee from now on,” she said.

The joke missed its mark and the intern’s eyes widened. “I can still do that…”

Wow, was she really that scary? She was demanding and expected the students to put in the hours she did. She may not be the friendliest doctor on staff, socializing after work and remembering birthdays and such, but she gave these interns a real picture of their future in medicine. Wasn’t that what they were there for? “I was kidding, Darren.”

“Oh…right.”

“Dr. Sheraton, please report to emergency. Stat.”

The call over the hospital intercom had her handing Darren the stack of folders. “Please take his heart rate and blood pressure,” she said, practically running to the elevators. “And don’t forget Mr. Franklin.”

“Got it,” he called after her.

The quiet twenty-six-second elevator ride to the first floor was the closest thing she got to a spa day. It was the only time she was forced to slow to a pace other than her own usual breakneck speed. But even that half a minute was too long. It gave her time to think. Think about her previous surgeries and replay the details—what went right, what went wrong, what she could do better next time. Constantly reevaluating herself made her a better surgeon, but too often it left her feeling like she was coming up slightly short of her potential. Her type A personality left little room for failure or complacency. 

Checking her phone in her lab coat pocket, she scanned her schedule for the rest of the evening, evaluating what she could push back if this emergency demanded her immediate attention. The number of things marked urgent made her will the elevator to move quicker. She’d be lucky to get out of there by 2:00 a.m.

A text popped up from Darren.

If you change your mind about Mrs. Franklin…

She wouldn’t. She ignored the text from her intern—former intern—and put the phone away.

As the elevator stopped, she took a deep breath, expecting to see a flurry of organized chaos as the doors opened. Stretchers, ambulance lights flashing and sirens wailing outside, paramedics and nurses… Instead, she ran square into her father.

No emergency, just his six-foot-three frame and his usual neutral expression. It was impossible to read her father, as his face gave nothing away. His emotions were never too high or too low, just infuriatingly balanced no matter the circumstance. His calm presence and rational thinking made him fantastic at his profession, but sometimes he was irritating as shit as a father.

“Hi. I was just coming to see you.” Eventually.

“Walk with me,” he said, turning on his heel and nodding.

Her jaw clenched so tight her teeth might snap. This was so like him—assuming she could drop everything at his command. He may run the hospital, but he often had no idea how hectic her schedule was. “Can we talk as I do my rounds, Darren is…” 

 

“More than capable,” he said, leading the way to his first-floor corner office. “And requesting to be transferred, I see.”

His tone made her palms sweat. He should be happy that she was pushing these interns to their limits. What awaited them once they graduated wasn’t for the faint of heart. Better to get used to grueling days and nights now, performing on little to no sleep, living on caffeine and leftover Halloween chocolate bars, than to realize they couldn’t cut it when lives were in their hands.

Unfortunately, he didn’t always agree with her beliefs . He wanted the interns to feel at home at Alaska General so they’d apply here once they graduated. The hospital was short staffed and more doctors would benefit everyone, but Erika preferred to work alongside the best.

Her father had an open-door policy—literally—so when he closed the office door behind her, she knew the head of General Surgery hadn’t called her in to discuss Thanksgiving dinner plans.

She glanced at his wall calendar as she sat. Especially since Thanksgiving was a week ago.

“Dad, this intern thing is just ridiculous…”

He held up a hand. “This isn’t about your inability to effectively manage others.”

Kick to the gut delivered and received. She clamped her lips together.

He opened his desk drawer and handed her a letter as he sat in the plush, leather chair behind his oversize mahogany desk.

Her eyes widened, seeing the Hospital Foundation logo on the top of the page. “Is this the final approval from the board for the clinical trials?” They’d submitted the application six months ago to start trials on a new antirejection drug after years of research, and they were waiting on the formal go-ahead to start with a test group.

Would Darren reconsider staying with her if he knew he could be part of a medical breakthrough? He’d been a lot of help in the past month.

“Just read it,” her father said.

She scanned the letter from the board of directors, feeling her excitement fade and anxiety rise with each word. “Recommended vacation? What is this?”

“I don’t like it either, but the board is reviewing policies and making sure we are following them,” he said, the edge indicating he’d been outvoted in this decision. He certainly didn’t believe in time off and had never encouraged her to take any. Her life was her career, just like him.

“But any day now we will be starting clinical trials on the new drug.” It had taken her father and his team almost three years to get the experimental antirejection product approved for testing on organ transplant patients and they’d finally gotten it. They’d worked around the clock for a year to make sure they did. Subjects were undergoing assessment right now to be ready for the trials.

Now was not the time to take a break.

Her father looked as though he’d made the same argument to the hospital board. “The team will have to handle it.”

So recommended actually meant forced. “Why now? I’m fine. I don’t need a break.” At twenty-nine, she was eager to prove herself as one of the top general surgeons in the state. Between her surgical success record and the research time she’d invested in this new drug, she was close. Helping her father get one step closer to winning the Lister Medal was high on her priority list. “Come on, Dad, you know I’m good. My last two operations were impossible surgeries…”

Improbable surgeries.”

Erika clamped her lips together again, forcing her argument to stay put. It wouldn’t do any good. Three years working alongside her father and she’d yet to prove herself. Despite two back-to-back improbable surgeries that she’d performed successfully, he still doubted her abilities. His micromanagement over her research team had driven her insane, but he’d reluctantly agreed to let her run her own set of clinical trials on the antirejection drug, and she’d foolishly believed she was making progress with him.

Now she was being forced into taking a break.

What the hell was a break? She hadn’t had one since starting university. She’d graduated with her bachelor’s in three years instead of four by doubling up on courses and then had applied directly to med school. She’d interned at Alaska General and secured a position there shortly after graduation. She couldn’t remember the last day she had off, let alone…she glanced at the letter. Two weeks?

What the hell would she do with all that free time?

Excerpted from An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow, Copyright © 2019 by Jennifer Snow. Published by HQN Books.

Buy Links

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Target 

Walmart

Google

iBooks

Kobo

~Cassie

 

 

 

 

Holiday Blog Tour: Cowboy Christmas Redemption by Maisey Yates

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The book that I’m sharing with you today gave me all the feels and had me in tears by the end. Being a part of this blog tour has opened my eyes to new author’s that I will be actively be keeping my eye out for when I’m book shopping and I hope you have maybe found some gems too! I’m so grateful for Harlequin Trade Publishing for including me in their blog tours and click the links if you want to see what I thought of the books on Day One and Day Two. As always my review is 100% my own although all pictures and promotional information is courtesy of HQN Trade Publishing.

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COWBOY CHRISTMAS REDEMPTION

Author: Maisey Yates

ISBN: 9781335009906

Publication Date: 9/24/2019

Publisher: HQN Books

Book Summary


As snowflakes fall in Gold Valley, Oregon, will this rugged cowboy finally win the woman of his dreams?

Cowboy Caleb Dalton has loved single mom Ellie Bell, and her little daughter, Amelia, for years. But since Ellie is his best friend’s widow, Caleb’s head knows Ellie will always be strictly off-limits. If only his heart got the memo. So when Caleb discovers that Ellie has a Christmas wish list—and hopes for a kiss under the mistletoe—he’s throwing his cowboy hat into the ring. If anyone’s going to be kissing Ellie and sharing this magical time with her and her daughter, it’s him.

Ellie has dreaded the holidays since losing her husband. But this year, she’s finally ready to make some changes. She never expects the biggest change to be the heart-stopping kiss she shares with Caleb. For almost five years, Caleb has been her best friend, her rock, her salvation. This Christmas, can Caleb prove he’s also the missing puzzle piece of Ellie’s and Amelia’s hearts?

Review

The romance in this book is a beautiful, heartwarming, sexy, seriously hot tear jerker. When I started this book I had no idea of the roller coaster of emotions I was about to go on. The heartbreak that both Ellie and Caleb have gone through losing Ellie’s husband Clint five years ago is still something that they are both actively dealing with. Ellie is trying to figure out how to move forward in life since she has spent the last five years frozen in her grief. Caleb is grappling with the guilt he has been carrying since the first moment Caleb met Ellie and fell in instant love with her when Clint brought her to a family party.

Reading about Ellie confronting her grief and also her guilt about moving on and loving someone else gave me all the feels. She is also dealing with a lot of trauma from her crappy childhood with a mom that made her feel like she wasn’t worthy of love. My heart was so broken for Ellie and all of the pain and confusion that she was feeling. She really had a journey to go through to find her way to completely opening up her heart and Caleb was right there helping her along. They are hot and spicy together in the bedroom and I loved seeing them find their way to each other.

Caleb is also dealing with his own trauma with some family baggage and a not great relationship with his dad. There was an aspect of his story that centered around Ellie showing him that he had a learning disability his whole life that no one ever diagnosed or cared to find out why he was struggling so much in school. This part really resonated with me because my oldest has a language based delay and it was a nightmare getting the school to help. (Thankfully he has gotten help and is doing really well now!) But this book really touched me when it was talking about how not getting the help can affect your whole life. I also really felt for Caleb when he was trying to come to terms with his complicated relationship with Clint. He unconditionally loved Clint but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t have any negative feelings toward Clint and his place in Caleb’s family. The best part of Caleb is his absolute devotion to and for Ellie and her daughter Amelia. I don’t think I have ever read a book with a man more dedicated to the woman he loves than Caleb.

I’m sure by now you know that I gave this book five stars and I cannot recommend this book more to you. This book is a part of series set in the same small town (I know you know that this in an automatic yes please from me) and I now need to read them all. I am a huge fan of this author after reading this book and you can check her out for yourself by scrolling down to read the Chapter Two excerpt below.

Maisey Yates

Author Bio

New York Times Bestselling author Maisey Yates lives in rural Oregon with her three children and her husband, whose chiseled jaw and arresting features continue to make her swoon. She feels the epic trek she takes several times a day from her office to her coffee maker is a true example of her pioneer spirit. 

Social Links

Author Website

Twitter: @maiseyyates

Facebook:@MaiseyYates.Author 

Instagram: @maiseyyates

Goodreads

Excerpt 

From Chapter Two

Caleb Dalton hadn’t had much to smile about for a long time. It had been a bear of a few years, since his best friend’s death, and while time might ease a wound, it wouldn’t ever bring Clint back.

But that permanence made space for movement, around the grief, around the pain. And finally toward a future he’d been planning for a long time.

Clint had been, honest to God, one of the best men on earth. The hole he’d left behind had been huge, and Caleb had dedicated himself to caring for his friend’s widow and child in his absence.

That had been his life, his whole life, for nearly five years. And it was fair, because it had been Ellie’s life, too.

He cared for Ellie. A hell of a lot. He’d met her because of Clint, but she’d been in his life now for more than ten years.

His feelings for Ellie were complicated. Had been from the beginning. But she’d been with Clint. And there was no doubt Clint was the better man. More than that, Clint was his brother. Maybe not in blood, but in every way that counted.

Caleb had never claimed to be a perfect friend. Clint was one of those people who’d drawn everyone right to him. He was easy to like. Caleb’s own parents had been bowled over by Clint from the time they were kids. 

And Caleb’s jealousy had gotten the better of him once when they’d been younger. Something that made him burn with shame even now.

He hadn’t let it happen when they’d been adults. No matter how tempting it had been. No matter how much he’d…

A muscle in his jaw ticked.

He gave thanks that there was a space in front of the Gold Valley Saloon, and he whipped his truck there up against the curb, ignoring the honk that came from behind him.

He turned around and saw Trevor Sanderson in his Chevy, giving Caleb the death glare.

“Hold your damn horses, Trevor,” he muttered as he put his truck in Park.

He should have been quicker.

Hell, that was life in a nutshell. Sometimes, you were just too late. For parking spots, and for women.

He’d tried to get that image out of his head. More times than he could count over the past decade. Had tried to erase that first time he’d seen Ellie.

It was at his parents’ barbecue. Late one summer afternoon.

He’d been talking and laughing with his brothers, and he’d lifted a beer to his lips and looked out away from the party. Then he’d frozen.

It was like the world had slowed down, all of it centering on the beautiful blonde walking toward him. The golden light from the sun illuminated her hair like a halo, and her smile seemed to light him up from the inside out.

As she’d gotten closer, he’d taken in every last detail. The way the left side of her cheek dimpled with that grin; her eyes, a mix of green and blue and a punch in the gut. Her lips were glossy pink, and he wondered if it was that stuff that women wore that smelled and tasted like cherries. He couldn’t decide if he hoped that it was or not.

Twenty years old, more experienced with women than he probably should be, and ready right then and there to drop down to his knees and propose marriage to the one walking in his direction.

It took him a full minute to realize that the beautiful blonde was holding hands with someone.

And that that someone was Caleb’s best friend on earth.

It was a surreal moment. It had been a sea change in his soul. When his feelings for Ellie had tipped over from nothing to everything.

A revelation he hadn’t been looking for, and one he sure as hell hadn’t enjoyed.

It was like the whole world had turned, then bucked, like a particularly nasty-ass bull, and left him sprawled out on the ground.

It had been the beginning of a thorny, painful set of years. As he’d gotten to know Ellie, as his feelings for her had become knit deep into his heart, into his soul. She’d become more than his friend’s woman, and more than a woman he’d desired. She’d become a friend to him.

In many ways he was thankful for the depth of the feeling, because it was the reason he’d been able to put aside the lust. The idea that he’d fallen in love with her at first sight.

When Clint had first started dating her, she’d been in school, so she hadn’t been around all the time. But during the summers, and on breaks, she came around with Clint. 

Went to the lake with them. Went fishing. Came to Christmas and Thanksgiving.

The summers at the lake, though, that had been a particular kind of torture. All of them swimming out in the water, her and her swimsuit. A tiny bikini that had left little to the imagination.

And he had been so very interested in imagining all the things that it did conceal.

And he’d felt like the biggest, most perverse asshole.

Then there had been the time that Clint had asked him to take her out riding.

Just the two of them.

Because Clint trusted him. Of course he did. Why wouldn’t he trust his best friend? So he’d done it.

Had taken her out on the trails that wound behind the Dalton family property, up to the top of a mountain. And he looked over at the view with her, watched the sunset. And everything in him had wanted to lean over and kiss her on the mouth. To act on the feelings that were rioting through his chest.

For just a breath she’d looked back at him, met his eyes. And he’d thought maybe she’d wanted it, too.

Yeah, it would have exploded his relationship with Clint, but for a minute it seemed like it might be worth it.

Then she’d looked away. And then he’d come back to himself.

Clint was his brother. In every way but blood.

And he couldn’t betray his friend like that.

Anyway, Ellie loved Clint.

She didn’t love Caleb.

And no matter how much he might not want to, he had to respect that.

So he hadn’t kissed her. They had ridden back down that mountain, and nothing happened between them. But late at night, Caleb had taken himself in hand and fantasized that it had.

Two days later Clint and Ellie had been engaged.

Caleb had agreed to be the best man.

She’d married Clint. And while his feelings for her had remained, they’d shifted. As they’d had to.

He wasn’t perfect. He’d never touched Ellie. Not like a man touched a woman, though that hadn’t stopped him from going over the accidental brush of fingertips, of their elbows touching, over and over in his mind if it had happened on accident.

It hadn’t stopped him from keeping and cherishing secrets with her, even when he knew he shouldn’t. Hadn’t stopped him from pushing some boundaries that not even Ellie had realized he’d been pushing at.

Ellie was the one who’d realized, for the first time, that he was dyslexic. And he’d sworn her to secrecy. And in that secrecy had come secret reading lessons.

And he’d…well, he’d lost control of his own feelings again. And once he’d recognized that, he’d cut them off. Cut her off.

But then Clint had died, just a month later. And everything changed again.

Since then, his relationship with Ellie was about their coming together to try and fill the gap Clint had left behind. His helping where she needed it.

Helping with the house, with her grief, with Amelia.

That was all.
Excerpted from Christmas Cowboy Redemption by Maisey Yates, Copyright © 2019 by Maisey Yates. Published by HQN Books.

Buy Links 

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Target 

Walmart

Google

iBooks

Kobo

~Cassie

Holiday Blog Tour: Christmas in Silver Springs by Brenda Novak

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I’m back today with a book that I absolutely loved! I am really enjoying putting together this themed week of posts and I will for sure be doing more of these in 2020. If you want to check out day one then click here. As always I want to thank Harlequin Trade Publishing for including me in this tour and all pictures and promotional information is courtesy of them. My review is 100% my own.

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CHRISTMAS IN SILVER SPRINGS

Author: Brenda Novak

ISBN: 9780778308256

Publication Date: October 29, 2019

Publisher: MIRA BOOKS

BOOK SUMMARY

Come home to Silver Springs for the holidays, where broken hearts learn to love again…together. 

So much for forever. When Elle Devlin’s rockstar husband ditches her on his way to the top, she takes her two daughters to her sister’s place in Silver Springs for the holidays, hoping family can heal her broken heart. But comfort comes in unexpected packages when she crosses paths with Tobias Richardson.

The moment Tobias spots Elle, he recognizes a sadness he knows all too well. After spending thirteen years in prison paying for his regretful past, Tobias is ready to make amends, and maybe helping Elle is the way to do it. But offering her a shoulder to cry on ignites a powerful attraction, and a desire neither saw coming.

Fearing her reaction, Tobias doesn’t divulge his ex-con status, let alone the shameful details. So when Elle’s ex shows up in Silver Springs and reveals the truth in a bid to win her back, Tobias is sure he’s lost her for good. But, just maybe, this Christmas he’ll receive the forgiveness—and the love—he deserves.

Review

This book was an easy five star read for me because of how easily I fell in love with Tobias and Elle. They were both characters that I was rooting for and wanted them to realize that their past doesn’t have to define their whole lives. I obviously loved both of them individually but I also really enjoyed their romance. They were so honest with their feelings for each other and making sure that Elle was truly ready to move on.

Christmas in Silver Springs is the sixth book in a series set in Silver Springs and is a companion novel to the fifth book because they both contain the same set of characters (except for Elle and her family). I really enjoyed how well connected everyone is and all the drama that serves as the backdrop to Tobias’s backstory. My heart broke for Tobias and all the things he has gone through because of a terrible mistake he made as a teenager. He struggles so much with forgiving himself and also trying to heal from a broken childhood. He was a character that you can’t help but root for, especially since the way he treats Elle is what every man should strive to.

Elle also a great support system since she and her daughters are staying with her sister and her family. Elle’s sister is the voice of reason and most of the time she was saying what I was thinking. Elle is stuck trying to reconcile losing her husband and the family that she had built and having an unexpected connection with Tobias. The author does a really great job making the reader feel the pain Elle and Tobias are in. I just wanted to shake them and tell them that they deserve to be happy so just move on. But of course that’s not how real life works and the book was very authentic to that.

Make sure you scroll down and read the first chapter of this book to give you an idea of how wonderful Tobias and Elle are. I flew through this book and there is a reason that Brenda Novak is such a queen. I will definitely be keeping my eye out for more books by her because I love the way she writes.

Novak_Brenda

BIO

Brenda Novak, a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, has penned over sixty novels. She is a six-time nominee for the RITA Award and has won the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Bookbuyer’s Best, and many other awards. She also runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity to raise money for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised $2.5 million. For more about Brenda, please visit http://www.brendanovak.com.

SOCIAL

TWITTER: @Brenda_Novak

FB: @BrendaNovakAuthor

Insta: @authorbrendanovak 

Goodreads

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Friday, December 6

Tobias Richardson couldn’t help noticing the petite blonde sitting at the old-fashioned counter of the diner—and not just because she was pretty. He was sure he’d never seen her before. With a population of seven thousand, Silver Springs wasn’t small enough that he’d recognize everybody, especially because he’d only been living here for five months. The town seemed to have gotten a lot smaller since the weather turned, though. It didn’t snow in this part of California, but it was the rainy season and the region was experiencing colder than normal temperatures. Tourists weren’t interested in visiting when it was chill and damp, and the same went for the many residents of LA, ninety minutes to the southeast, who had vacation homes here. This month, and probably for the next two or three, he guessed Silver Springs would be limited to the locals.

He blew on his hands, trying to warm them while waiting for the coffee he’d ordered when he first sat down. He’d managed to squeeze in a hike after work. He didn’t care that it was dark and wet by the time he was on his way back. He had a 

headlight to guide him to the trailhead and was willing to put up with the rain. But he was chilled to the bone. After such an arduous hike, he was starving, too, and craving a hot shower.

Again, he glanced toward the counter. He didn’t want the woman to catch him staring, but something about her—besides her looks—drew his attention.

She didn’t seem happy…

“Here you go.” Willow Sanhurst, the barely eighteen-year-old girl who worked evenings at the Eatery, stepped between him and the woman who intrigued him, smiled broadly and put his cup on the table with a flourish. “Warming up yet?”

“Starting to.”

“I can’t believe you’ve been out hiking. It’s December!”

“Little bit of rain never hurt anybody.”

He’d traded out his muddy hiking books for a pair of clean shoes before coming into the restaurant. Other than that, he was only a little damp, so he wasn’t sure why she was making such a big deal of it.

“You must really like the outdoors.”

“I do,” he said.

“So do I.”

He got the impression he was supposed to follow that up with an invitation to go hiking with him sometime, but he didn’t.

Even though they’d already discussed his hike when he’d sat down and she’d brought him water, and the diner was full of people waiting for a chance to order, she didn’t move away as most waitresses would.

Before bringing the coffee to his lips, he looked up to see if there was something she needed.

As soon as their eyes met, she blushed a deep red, wiped her hands on her ruffled white apron and mumbled some remark about being careful not to burn himself—that the coffee was hot—before hurrying away.

Damn it. She had a crush on him. She’d clearly wanted to say something but hadn’t been able to gather the nerve, and that made him distinctly uncomfortable. After being released from prison in July he was committed to making better choices, to building a productive life. He couldn’t have some high school girl staring at him with the longing he saw shining in her eyes. If she started seriously pursuing him, he was afraid he’d end up in a bad situation just because he was so damn lonely.

With a sigh, he took a tentative sip of his coffee. This was his favorite place to eat—the comfort food and Norman Rockwell vibe reminded him of the wholesome existence he’d always secretly admired. But he’d have to quit coming here. He wouldn’t allow himself to be tempted. His brother, Maddox, said over and over that his first year out of prison would be the hardest, and although Tobias acted as though he was doing fine, that he had his life under control, his journey was not as sure-footed as he let on. Sometimes, especially late at night, he felt as though he’d been cast adrift on a vast ocean and might never find safe harbor. And that sense of being so small and insignificant made him crave the substances that had gotten him into trouble in the first place.

Willow kept looking over at him, obviously hoping to catch his eye. While he poured a dash of cream into his coffee, he considered canceling his meal. He could eat somewhere else—grab something to go and head home to shower. But just as he was about to slide out of the booth, his phone dinged with a text from Maddox, asking if he’d like to come over for dinner.

Already ate. Enjoy your night. See you at work tomorrow, he wrote back.

He knew his brother worried about him, was trying to help him adjust to life outside prison and didn’t want him to backslide and become like their mother. But Maddox had recently married the girl he’d loved since high school. He deserved to be alone with Jada, his new wife, who was now pregnant, and Maya, their daughter. The last thing Tobias wanted to do was get in the way of their relationship—again. It was because of him they hadn’t gotten together the first time around, and that had cost Maddox the first twelve years of Maya’s life.

As he slid his phone in his coat pocket, he saw that it was too late to cancel his food. Willow was once again coming toward him, this time carrying a plate.

“You texting your girlfriend?” she asked, flirting with him as she put down his meat loaf and mashed potatoes.

He allowed himself another glance at the blonde sitting at the counter. Her meal had come, too, and yet she held her fork, turning it over and over in one hand, staring at her food without taking a bite.

“Did you hear me?” Willow asked.

Putting his napkin in his lap, he picked up his fork. “I’m sorry. What’d you say?”

She looked over her shoulder in the direction he’d been looking and lowered her voice. “I see you’ve noticed Harper.”

“Harper?” he repeated.

“Yeah, Harper Devlin—Axel Devlin’s wife. She’s been in here before.”

“Who’s Axel Devlin?”

“Are you kidding me? He’s the lead singer of Pulse. They’re, like…the biggest band on the planet!”

He’d heard of Pulse, was familiar with their music and liked it. He’d also heard the name of the band’s lead singer many times. He’d just never dreamed Willow could be referring to that Axel Devlin—although there was no good reason why she couldn’t be. A lot of celebrities came to artsy, spiritually focused Silver Springs. Quite a few, especially movie people, retired here. And he often interacted with Hudson King, a professional football player, at New Horizons Boys Ranch, where he worked doing grounds and building maintenance. Hudson did a lot to help the troubled teens who attended the boarding school—both the boys’ side and the recently built girls’ school on the same property. He’d donated the money to buy an ice-skating rink both sides could use. “Do they live in the area?”

“No. She and her two kids are staying with her sister for the holidays. I overheard her talking to the owner.”

“She looks a little…” When he let his words trail off, Willow jumped in to finish the sentence.

“Depressed?”

“I was going to say ‘lost.’”

“Probably is. I watched an interview with Axel a few months ago. He said they were splitting up. Maybe that’s why.”

It was none of his business, but Tobias couldn’t help asking, “Did he give a reason?”

She seemed to like that they’d found something to talk about that wasn’t so strained and awkward for her. “Blamed it on the travel. He has to be gone too much. Yada, yada. What else is he going to say? That he’s cheating with a different girl every night?” she added with a laugh.

Tobias felt bad for Harper. It couldn’t be easy to be married to a rock star. She wasn’t that old, likely hadn’t been prepared for that kind of life. If Tobias remembered correctly, Axel was from a small town in Idaho, and he and his band had become famous almost overnight. Now he was sitting on top of the world.

But where did that leave her?

“You said they have kids?” he asked.

“Yeah. Two little girls. I don’t remember their ages—maybe eight and six? Something like that.”

So Harper had married Axel before he’d become a big success, and they’d started a family. That indicated she’d married for love. “Where are the kids?”

“With her sister, I guess.” Willow lowered her voice. “It would suck to be her, right? I mean, she has to see his name and his face everywhere, can’t escape the constant reminder.”

Now that he wasn’t paying as much attention to Willow’s hopeful smiles and nervousness when she was around him, Tobias could see others in the restaurant nudging their companions and pointing to Harper. Apparently a lot of people knew who she was—or word was spreading fast.

Poor thing. He understood what it was like to be the talk of the town. He’d been only seventeen when he’d been prosecuted as an adult and jailed for thirteen years. Returning to Silver Springs after his release this past summer had been like being put under a microscope. Suffering privately was one thing. Suffering publicly was something else entirely. That took what she was going through to a whole new level.

“Shouldn’t be too hard for her to find someone else.” He said it as though he wasn’t particularly invested, but Harper had caught his eye, hadn’t she?

“Are you kidding me?” Willow responded again. “How will anyone else ever compare?”

She had a point. It would be tough for a regular guy to match Axel, financially and otherwise. “True.”

You’re not interested in her, are you?” Willow looked slightly crestfallen.

Apparently he hadn’t been as careful to hide his feelings as he’d thought. But he was an ex-con, making a modest wage working for a correctional school. He’d never known his father, and his mother was a meth addict, constantly in and out of rehab. He knew when he was out of his league. “No.”

“Good.” A relieved smile curved her lips. “Because I’ve been watching you for a while and…well… I hope there’s someone else in this restaurant you might be interested in.” She finished in a rush, couldn’t quite look at him and then hurried away—only to return with a slip of paper that had her number on it when she brought the check.

Harper shoved her garlic mashed potatoes from one side of her plate to the other as she listened to the hum of voices in the diner. Although surrounded by people, she’d never felt so alone.

“I’ve got a number five,” the cook barked out for the waitresses.

Harper checked the menu, which she’d left open at her elbow so she’d have something to look at. It was difficult to go out in public right now. After the documentary she did with Axel last year, trying to remove the stigma of depression and using a therapist when necessary, people often recognized her, so she had little privacy.

A number five was a chicken breast with lemon-dill sauce, steamed vegetables and a gluten-free corn muffin. She’d ordered a number seven—peppercorn steak, garlic mashed potatoes and green beans, which had sounded good at first, but the only thing she’d been able to make herself eat was part of the dinner roll. She doubted it was gluten-free. Axel had made a big deal about staying away from gluten, but he was allergic to it, not her. And although she thought it was probably wise to avoid it, she didn’t care about her diet right now. She didn’t care about much of anything since her marriage had unraveled. It’d been all she could do just to hold herself together for the sake of her kids, and now Christmas would be here in only three weeks. It would be her and the girls’ first Christmas without Axel. He was touring Europe and wouldn’t be back until after the first of the year, since his last big concert was scheduled for New Year’s Eve.

Now that everything had changed between them, they wouldn’t have spent the holidays as they had in the past, anyway.

He might’ve asked to take the girls, however.

She could only imagine how lonely she would have felt with them gone, and yet…she sort of wished he had taken them. She didn’t feel capable of holding up her end, of putting on a brave face and telling their children that everything was going to be okay when it felt as though the ground had given way beneath her feet. She had no interest in decorating, putting up a tree or buying presents, which was why her sister had insisted she come

for an extended visit, even if it meant having the girls transfer schools for a couple of months. Piper and Everly were at a church Christmas party tonight with their cousins—twin girls who were older than Everly by four years. But Harper needed to be ready to face them with a smile when they came home.

Her phone vibrated in her pocket, but she didn’t bother to get it out. No doubt it was her sister. They’d had an argument before Harper stormed out of the house. Karoline had grown angry when Harper told her how little she was getting for child support. According to her sister, she was letting Axel off far too easy.

He was making a fortune, but Harper didn’t want to fight. She was still in love with him. As soon as he’d made it clear that he didn’t want to be married to her anymore, that he was no longer willing to try to work through their differences, she’d settled for the first figure his lawyer had thrown out. Otherwise, she was afraid the media would start to claim they were going through a “bitter” divorce. As she’d told Karoline, she’d make it on her own somehow, even though she hadn’t worked in an official capacity since the first three years of her marriage, when Axel was trying so hard to get a start in show business and he’d needed her to cover their basic living expenses.

Maybe she was a fool to be so accommodating. But she couldn’t imagine Axel would consider keeping the family together if she turned into a bitch. Besides, she didn’t even know who he was anymore, he’d changed so much. She couldn’t decide what she had a right to demand. Had she let Axel down? Or had he let her down? He’d always suffered from anxiety and depression. Maybe she hadn’t done enough to help him—

“Is everything okay?”

She forced herself to look up. The waitress working the counter had paused in front of her, obviously wondering if there was something wrong with the food.

“Fine,” Harper mumbled. She hadn’t really come to eat. She just needed some time alone, couldn’t face going back to her

sister’s quite yet. As nice as it was of Karoline to provide a refuge during this difficult month, being with her only sibling wasn’t much easier than being alone, because now she had to constantly explain and justify her actions. And with her emotions zinging all over the place, she wasn’t being consistent, couldn’t be consistent. Most of the time, she wasn’t even making a whole lot of sense.

Elvis’s “Blue Christmas” came on the sound system as the waitress moved on to her other customers.

Harper took a sip of her coffee and braved a quick glance around. Although she liked this restaurant, she didn’t feel she belonged in Silver Springs. Why wasn’t she in Denver, where she and Axel had lived after their college days at Boise State?

Because as much as she and Axel had once believed that they’d be the exception to the rule, that nothing could come between them, they’d been wrong. Slowly but surely, Axel had lost all perspective and started caring more about his work than he did his family. Fame had destroyed their relationship like so many celebrities before them.

With a sigh, she took the bill the waitress had put near her plate and paid at the register. She owed her sister more respect than to make her worry. She had to go back and face Karoline whether she wanted to or not.

Harper hadn’t put on makeup for weeks, hadn’t done anything with her hair, either, other than to pile it in a messy bun on her head, so it didn’t bother her that it was raining. She was cold, though; couldn’t seem to get warm. Tightening her oversize coat—a castoff of Axel’s from the good old days when they were first married—she pushed out of the warm café into the bad weather.

Putting her head down, she stared at her feet, bracing against the gusts of wind that whipped at her hair and clothes while stepping over two or three puddles to reach the Range Rover 

Axel had let her keep when they split. If she got desperate, she supposed she could sell it. It had cost a pretty penny.

She was opening the driver’s door when she noticed a tall, lanky man with longish dark hair crossing the lot toward her.

“Don’t be frightened,” he said, lifting one hand in a gesture intended to show he wasn’t being aggressive. “I just… I saw you inside and…”

Prepared to rebuff him, she set her jaw. She was not in the mood to be hit on. But when she met his eyes, something about his expression told her that wasn’t what this was about. Taking a long-stemmed white rose from inside his coat, he stepped forward to give it to her.

“Hang in there. It’ll get easier,” he said. Then he walked off before she could even ask for his name. 

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~Cassie

 

Holiday Blog Tour: Christmas from the Heart

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I’m so excited to be a part of the Harlequin Trade Publishing holiday blog tour. For the rest of this week I will be sharing my review of all the romance books that I have read so far this year. The next four days will be for this blog tour and this weekend will be a couple of short story holiday romances that I have recently finished. I hope that you come back daily for all the holiday romance goodness!

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Title: Christmas from the Heart

Author: Sheila Roberts

On Sale Date: September 24, 2019

$16.99 USD, $21.99 CAD

Fiction / Romance / Contemporary

304 pages

Summary

USA TODAY bestselling author Sheila Roberts takes readers to a small, snowbound town, where a young woman fights to save her family’s charity that brings Christmas to families in need, and a stranded millionaire loses his heart and finds the true meaning of Christmas.

Sometimes you need to look beyond the big picture to see what really matters

Olivia Berg’s charity, Christmas from the Heart, has helped generations of families in need in Pine River, Washington, but this year might be the end of the road. Hightower Enterprises, one of their biggest donors since way back when Olivia’s grandmother ran the charity, has been taken over by Ebenezer Scrooge the Second, aka CFO Guy Hightower, and he’s declared there will be no more money coming to Christmas from the Heart.

Guy is simply being practical. Hightower Enterprises needs to tighten its belt, and when you don’t have money to spare, you don’t have money to share. You’d think even the pushy Olivia Berg could understand that.

With charitable donations dwindling, Olivia’s Christmas budget depends on Hightower’s contribution. She’s focused her whole life on helping this small town, even putting her love life on hold to support her mission.

When Guy’s Maserati breaks down at the edge of the Cascade foothills, he’s relieved to be rescued by a pretty young woman who drives him to the nearby town of Pine River. Until he realizes his rescuer is none other than Olivia Berg. What’s a Scrooge to do? Plug his nose and eat fruitcake and hope she doesn’t learn his true identity before he can get out of town. What could go wrong?

Review

This is such a great feel good holiday romance. This book has a small town setting that you all know that I love and the romance is so sweet. I love that Livi and Guy have such different lifestyles yet when they start to get to know each other they have such a great connection. The author’s choice to have Livi run a Christmas charity was such a great one because it really showcases just how difficult this time of year can be for so many people. This book’s message about how important it is to give to others who don’t have as much was done in a really great way that it doesn’t come across as preachy at all.

A real highlight of this story for me was Guy Hightower. He is a Scrooge character who prioritizes the needs of his company over giving to charity because he has a plan to help his company expand. Once he starts building a friendship with Livi and starts to see things from her perspective his heart and mind start to change. I just really enjoyed his character so much and I loved his integrity even if he was keeping his identity a secret.

The low point of this story was Livi’s “friendship” with her ex boyfriend, Morris. She is basically stringing this poor man along because she knows how he feels about her and she still hangs out with him one on one. Then something else happens with Morris later on in the book and it REALLY rubbed me the wrong way. I understand the conflict the author was creating but for me it just didn’t work. I can appreciate though that other people might enjoy it a lot more than me.

If you are in the market for a small town, feel good romance with a swoon worthy man then I definitely recommend this book. This book also had me craving all the Christmas cookies and there are a few recipes at the end of the book that I want to try. Especially the eggnog coffee cake! Also keep scrolling to read a fun excerpt from the first chapter.

Sheila Roberts

Author Bio:

Sheila Roberts lives on a lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her novels have been published in several languages. Her book, Angel Lane, was an Amazon Top Ten Romance pick for 2009. Her holiday perennial, On Strike for Christmas, was made into a movie for the Lifetime Movie Network and her novel, The Nine Lives of Christmas, was made into a movie for Hallmark . You can visit Sheila on Twitter and Facebook or at her website (http://www.sheilasplace.com).

Social Links:

Author website

Facebook: @funwithsheila

Twitter: @_Sheila_Roberts

Instagram: @funwithsheila

Excerpt

From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart 

Date: 2-14-19 

To: Ms. Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises 

Subject: Holiday Joy

 Dear Ms. Thompson, 

Happy Valentine’s Day to you! I’m following up our January newsletter with a special greeting as this is, of course, the month for love. Love for our sweethearts, our family and friends, and for those in need. As you could see from the newsletter, we put the money our loyal supporters donated to us to good use. So many families benefited from your generous donation to Christmas from the Heart last year and I just wanted to remind you that, even though the holidays seem far away they will be here before we know it. I hope we can count on Hightower Enterprises again this year. We have such a history together. Let’s keep up the good work! 

Warmly, 

Olivia Berg

Christmas from the Heart 

Giving from the heart makes all the difference

 

From: Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises 

Date: 2-14-19 

To: Ms. Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart 

Subject: Holiday Joy

Dear Ms. Berg, 

Thanks for reaching out. Our fiscal year is just ending and I haven’t yet received word as to how our charitable donations will be dispersed this year. I will keep you apprised. 

Best, Marla Thompson 

CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises

 

From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart

Date: 2-14-19

To: Ms. Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises

Subject: Holiday Joy

Thank you so much. Looking forward to hearing from you! 

Olivia Berg 

Christmas from the Heart 

Giving from the heart makes all the difference

 

From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart

Date: 5-1-19

To: Ms. Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises

Subject: Happy May Day!

Dear Ms. Thompson, just wanted to wish you a happy May Day. The flowers here in Pine River are now in full bloom, and our organization has been busy helping people make their dreams bloom, as well. As you know, while our focus is primarily the holidays, Christmas from the Heart tries to help people all year round when needs arise. Of course, Christmas is our big thrust, and as there is no other organization working in this area, we are much needed. As are your kind contributions. I still haven’t heard and I do hope we can count on you.

Warmly, 

Olivia Berg

Christmas from the Heart

Giving from the heart makes all the difference

 

From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart

Date: 5-5-19

To: Ms. Marla Thompson

Subject: Just checking

Reaching out again in case my last email went astray. I’m wondering if you have any news for me regarding Hightower’s involvement with our cause for this coming year.

Thanks!

Olivia Berg

Christmas from the Heart

Giving from the heart makes all the difference

 

From: Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises

Date: 5-5-19

To: Ms. Olivia Berg

Subject: Just checking

Ms. Berg, sorry I haven’t been able to get back to you sooner. I’m afraid I have some bad news for you. It appears that the company is going to be scaling back on their charitable giving this year and funds have already been budgeted for other causes. I’m aware of the fact that in the past we’ve donated to your organization and I’m sorry I don’t have better news for you. I do wish you all the best in your search for other funding.

Best, 

Marla Thompson 

CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises

 

From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart

Date: 5-5-19

To: Ms. Marla Thompson

Subject: Just checking

There must be some sort of misunderstanding! Hightower has always donated to Christmas from the Heart. The company’s founder, Elias Hightower, was my great-grandmother’s first contributor, and he promised her that Hightower would always be there for this organization. This is a company tradition! Please speak to your director.

Hopefully, 

Olivia Berg 

Christmas from the Heart

Giving from the heart makes all the difference

 

From: Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises

Date: 5-5-19

To: Ms. Olivia Berg

Subject: Just checking

I’m sorry. The decision is out of my hands.

Marla Thompson 

CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises

 

From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart

Date: 5-5-19

To: Ms. Marla Thompson

Subject: Just checking

Then please tell me who I need to talk to. Who’s your CFO?

Olivia Berg 

Christmas from the Heart

Giving from the heart makes all the difference

 

From: Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises

Date: 5-5-19

To: Ms. Olivia Berg

Subject: Just checking

Our CFO is Guy Hightower, and his email is ghightower@hightowerenterprises.com

Good luck!

Marla Thompson 

CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises

 

From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart

Date: 5-5-19

To: Guy Hightower, CFO, Hightower Enterprises 

Subject: Please reconsider

Dear Mr. Hightower, I understand from your corporate social resources director that Hightower isn’t planning on making any donation to Christmas from the Heart this year. There must be some mistake! Surely you’re aware of the long-standing relationship between your company and our organization. I’m sure I can count on you for some small amount. 

Best, Olivia Berg

Christmas from the Heart

Giving from the heart makes all the difference

 

Guy Hightower frowned when he saw the email from Olivia Berg in his in-box. Marla Thompson had been forwarding her emails to him, keeping him abreast of Olivia Berg’s varied begging tactics, and had finally even come into his office, trying to dump the load of guilt the woman had laid on her from her shoulders to his.

“Don’t open it,” he told himself. He opened it anyway. Then he read it and swore.

Actually, he’d been swearing ever since meeting with his brothers to discuss the budget back in December. If either of them had listened to him three years ago, they wouldn’t be having to pull the company belt so tight now. This was the problem with being the youngest. It didn’t matter how many degrees you had, how smart you were or what your job title was. Big brothers never listened.

Hard to listen when you were going through your third divorce.

That was Mike’s excuse. What was Bryan’s? Oh yeah. He was a wuss. He always agreed with Mike, no matter what. And Mike hadn’t wanted to change directions. Never mind that the company was struggling, keep on doing the same thing. The definition of insanity.

Sorry, Little Miss Christmas. Times were tough all over. Hightower had kept its commitment to the more visible causes and turned the little fish loose. And that was how it worked in the corporate world.

He typed his reply.

Dear Ms. Berg, I regret that Hightower can’t help you this year. We’ve had to reassess our commitments to various causes. I’m sure you’ll understand.

Then he signed off with the time-honored adios: Respectfully, Guy Hightower.

And if she didn’t understand, well, not his problem. He had his hands full trying to keep the family company afloat. Maybe now Mike would be ready to take his advice and diversify.

 

Olivia Berg—Livi to her family and friends—read the email from Guy Hightower a second time. Yes, the message was the same. Really? Really? Who was this man, Ebenezer Scrooge the Second?

She plowed her fingers through her hair, the birthstone ring Morris had given her for her birthday catching in the curls. She was so angry she barely noticed.

With a snarl, she began to type.

You should be ashamed. Your great-grandfather is probably turning in his grave right now. What’s the matter with you, anyway, you selfish bastard?

She pulled her fingers off the keyboard with a gasp. What was she thinking? Was this any way to get someone to contribute to her cause? And what kind of language was this? Her great-grandmother would be turning in her grave right now, along with Elias. Adelaide Brimwell had been a lady through and through. So had Livi’s grandmother, Olivia, as well as Livi’s mom. 

The thought of her mother made her tear up. How she wished Mom was still around to advise her. They’d always planned that Livi would take over running the organization one day, but neither had dreamed that day would come so soon. Her mother’s heart attack had struck like lightning. Livi’s brother had left town, moving to Seattle, which was just far enough south to keep the memories at bay. Livi had stayed put, holding on to every single one, weaving them together into a lifeline to cling to as she kept Christmas from the Heart afloat.

Oh, Mom. What should I do?

Try again came the answer.

Yes, her mother never gave up. She’d chased one potential donor for two years before he finally came through. Livi still remembered the day her mom left the house, clad in a Mrs. Santa costume she’d created—requisite white wig along with a frilly white blouse and a red skirt topped with a red-striped apron. She’d taken with her a batch of home-baked cookies nestled in a red basket and returned home with a check for five hundred dollars. The man had been a loyal contributor ever since. Livi still took him cookies every year.

“Persistence pays,” she told herself as she deleted what she’d typed.

She started over.

I’m asking you to reconsider. Your company is our major donor, and without you so many people will have little joy this Christmas. Any amount you can give will be greatly appreciated.

There. He’d have to be a heartless monster not to respond to that.

Guy trashed the guilt-inflicting email. What was he, Santa Claus? He had his hands full keeping his company solvent.

But then, people like Olivia Berg never considered the fact that a company might have needs of its own. What made them feel so entitled to sit at the edge of the salt mine while a man slaved away and then greet him with their hands out when he emerged broken and bruised? Maybe some of those people always begging for money should get out there and actually earn a living. Let them work their tails off, putting in seventy-hour weeks. Sheesh.

Anyway, the company had already met their good deed quota for the year. The only cause Guy was interested in now was Hightower Enterprises.

By the end of the workday, Guy Hightower still hadn’t responded to Livi’s last email. “You are a heartless monster,” she grumbled, glaring at her empty email in-box.

“No word yet?” her part-time assistant, Bettina Thomas, asked as she shut down her computer.

Livi sighed and shook her head.

“That is so wrong,” Bettina said in disgust.

It sure was. “They’ve been our major donor ever since my great-grandmother founded Christmas from the Heart. Without their contribution how will we put on the Christmas dinner at the community center? How many families won’t have presents under the tree or Christmas stockings or a Christmas turkey?” There was no Salvation Army in Pine River, no Toys for Tots— none of the usual organizations serviced this area. There had been no need. Christmas from the Heart had it under control.

Until now.

“We’ve had to reassess our commitments,” Livi quoted. The words left a bad taste in her mouth and she frowned. “It sounds like something your boyfriend says when he’s dumping you.”

“They are dumping us,” Bettina pointed out. “But don’t worry. We have time. We’ll find someone else to come through.”

“Not like Hightower. There must be something I can do,” Livi mused.

“There is. Go home and eat chocolate.”

And try not to think bad thoughts about Guy Hightower.

In all fairness, he probably didn’t grasp the situation. She’d call him the next day and invite him to come to Pine River for a visit so she could let him see the need, show him a little of what Christmas from the Heart did for the community. She could take him to lunch, introduce him to some of the people in town, put a face—or better yet, several—to Christmas from the Heart. She’d top it all off by following in her mother’s footsteps and baking him cookies. Then how could he help but catch the vision his great-grandfather and her great-grandmother had shared?

Yes, that would do it. Sometimes you had to be a little patient, give people a second chance.

Excerpted from Christmas From the Heart by Sheila Roberts. Copyright © 2019 by Roberts Ink LLC. Published by MIRA Books. 

Buy Links:

Amazon

Google Play

Barnes & Noble

Apple Books

Kobo
~Cassie

 

 

November Wrap Up + Stats

I’m sorry this coming to you so late. The last two weeks of my life my kids and I had a terrible bout of the flu. If you are a mom or just a caregiver than you know how hard it can be to take care of people when you aren’t feeling well yourself. I actually lost my voice for three days after Thanksgiving which is interesting when you are a mom. My older kids probably enjoyed it (ha!) but it was definitely a challenge with my two year old. Anyways, now that you know all about my life for the past couple of weeks let’s wrap up November. I read 16 books and some of them are my favorite books of the year. It’s safe to say that November was very good to me and I hope that continues on into this month.

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Rating: 5/5

I loved this! I feel like no one talks about how dark this book is. I would say it’s more of a dark twisted tale of Healthcliff’s life and not so much a romance. Is there a romance? Yes, but I don’t feel like it is the point of the story. I do appreciate how absolutely scandalous it must have been in the late 1800’s. In fact it is still pretty scandalous to a lot of people today which is a big reason this book transcends time. Healthcliff and Catherine have a brutal romance and they are both mean, terrible, incredibly cruel characters. I loved the gothic overtones to the story and the whole way the story is laid out was perfection to me.

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ARC Review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

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Rating: 3/5

I have a review of this coming tomorrow as part of the HQN Holiday Romance blog Tour.

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Rating: 5/5

I don’t want to say too much about this book because it is better to go into it blind. It is one of the best thrillers I have read this year and I highly recommend everyone read it.

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Rating: 5/5

This is a short classic, only 123 pages, but it is amazing. This is one of my favorite classics of all time and I know I will re read this many times in my life and get something new out of it every time. This book reminds me a lot of a humanities philosophy class that I took in college and I found the ideas and themes in this book fascinating.

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Rating: 5/5

Blog Tour: The Princess Plan by Julia London

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Rating: 5/5

This was such a fascinating little story. I don’t know what say about it since it’s so short and I don’t want to spoil anything. I will say that it is a travesty that this won the Goodreads best Horror a couple of years ago. There is no horror in this book. It is just a simple story of a man facing the end of his life and trying to right a wrong he felt he made in treating his neighbors poorly.

Buzzwordathon Wrap Up

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Rating: 5/5

Blog Tour: All Fired Up by Lori Foster

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Rating: 5/5

Blog Tour: The Last Affair by Margot Hunt

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Rating: 2/5

The author of this book was kind enough to send me a digital copy of this book to review. Unfortunately this book just didn’t work for me. The premise is good but the author got way to caught up in trying to do too many reveals and twists and many of them didn’t feel authentic to the story. I do plan on trying another book by this author because I really did like the idea behind the this story.

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Rating: 3/5

When this book first started I was immediately hooked but the longer the story went on the more disjointed everything felt. The pacing for the whole book was off and I have no idea how much time went by from the beginning of the book to the end. The chemistry between the two characters was spicy but they never resolved any of the issues surrounding why it took them so long to get together. People rave about The Hating Game by this author so I will definitely be reading that in 2020.

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Rating: 3/5

It took me forever to read this book. I started it in October and I finished it on the last day of November. I had a hard time getting into the story but I do understand why so many people rave about this book. This is definitely a it’s me not you kind of situation. If you enjoy historical fiction then I think you would really enjoy this mystery. I feel like part of the reason I couldn’t get into the story was that I found the stories of the girls at the boarding school so incredibly sad and I was so upset that girls were ever treated this way. It would take a lot out of me to read from their perspectives, especially the more we got into the story. I will for sure be reading more from this author in the future.

Stats

Author                                                               Pages

Male: 4                                                               1-299: 2

Female: 12                                                        300-499: 14

Rating                                                               500+: 0

1*: 0                                                                  Total Pages: 5,113

2*: 1                                                                  170/day

3*: 3

4*: 2

5*: 10

Genre

Mystery/Thriller/Suspense: 6

Romance: 4                                                   Year Published

Classic: 2                                                        2019: 4

YA Mystery: 1                                               ARC: 4

Contemporary: 2                                         Older Release: 8

YA Romance: 1

Book Format

Owned ebook: 8

Library ebook: 1

Owned Physical: 6

Library Physical: 1

~Cassie

 

 

 

 

 

December TBR

The most magical time of the year is upon us! Most of this month I plan on catching up on books from my past TBR’s because I want to start off the new year fresh. However, I do have some holiday related books that I want to get to this month. I also recently bought a couple of books that I really want to read so I’m putting them on the list just in case I am able to get around to them this month.

Holiday Reads

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Open your heart to the holidays with these stories of unexpected love . . .
 
A BABY FOR CHRISTMAS * Lisa Jackson
The uneventful Christmas Annie McFarlane expected is suddenly anything but. First, there’s the adorable baby left on the snowy doorstep of her Oregon cabin. Second, there’s the extremely attractive, yet extremely angry man claiming to be the father. Liam O’Shaughnessy may be intimidating, but this is one precious gift Annie isn’t giving up so easily . . .

WHAT THE COWBOY WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS * Maisey Yates
When Meg O’Neill’s longtime boyfriend lets her down, again, on Christmas no less, she braves an Oregon blizzard to get to her best friend Noah’s comforting arms. But this time Noah’s not telling her what she wants to hear—he’s telling her the truth, from his heart. And his words just might be the gift Meg’s been wishing for all along.

SNOWED IN * Stacy Finz
Rachel Johnson has found the perfect spot for her second Tart Me Up bakery in Glory Junction, California. Except she’s in fierce competition with hunky bar owner Boden Farmer. Worse, while the icy rivals await the city’s decision, they end up catering the same Christmas Eve mountaintop wedding—and getting snowed in. But sometimes a loss of electricity generates a different kind of heat . . .

A COWBOY WEDDING FOR CHRISTMAS * Nicole Helm
Big city art teacher Lindsay Tyler isn’t just back home in Colorado for her brother’s wedding at the Barton Christmas Tree Farm and Ranch. She’s back for good. She just hasn’t told anyone yet—including Cal Barton, the ex-boyfriend she left behind. Will it take a Christmas miracle for him to welcome her back with open arms? . . .

Santa’s on His Way by Lisa Jackson

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It’s Christmas many years ago, and topping young Hannah Swensen’s wish list is becoming the go-to baker in Lake Eden, Minnesota. But as Hannah finds out, revisiting holiday memories can be
murder . . .
 
With her dream of opening The Cookie Jar taking shape, Hannah’s life matches the hectic December hustle and bustle in Lake Eden—especially when she agrees to help recreate a spectacular Christmas Ball from the past in honor of Essie Granger, an elderly local in hospice care. But instead of poring over decadent dessert recipes for the merry festivities, she instantly becomes enthralled by Essie’s old notebooks and the tale of a woman escaping danger on the streets of New York. Hannah’s surprised by Essie’s secret talent for penning crime fiction. She’s even more surprised when the story turns real. As Hannah prepares to run a bakery and move out of her mother’s house, it’ll be a true miracle if she can prevent another Yuletide disaster by solving a mystery as dense as a Christmas fruitcake .

Christmas Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke

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A doubly delightful volume with two Christmas-themed mysteries from the USA Today bestselling series!

Together for the first time, these two festive mysteries featuring legendary author and sleuth Jessica Fletcher deliver twice the Christmas cheer.

In Manhattans & Murder, Jessica?s new book tour brings her to New York for Christmas, where she sees notorious Cabot Cove crook Waldo Morse dressed as a sidewalk Santa?and ends up witnessing a murder. With the police slow on their feet, and the victim?s wife on the run, Jessica decides to do whatever it takes to stop a killer from spoiling the season.

And in A Little Yuletide Murder, Cabot Cove local Rory Brent is found shot to death on his farm, and everyone assumes the culprit is Brent?s longtime enemy, Jake Walther, the meanest man in town. But Jessica thinks otherwise, and she?s determined to deliver the real killer before Christmas. The trouble is, the next sound she hears this silent night may be a scream?her own.

Murder Never Takes a Holiday by Jessica Fletcher

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Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

Let it Snow by John Green

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Indulge yourself with this collection of delectable cozy mystery novellas!

Lee Strauss – MURDER BY PLUM PUDDING

There’s nothing more fun than a festive holiday dinner party and Ginger Reed, the former Lady Gold, has Hartigan House decorated and the gramophone playing. Dressed in her finest Parisian low-waisted gown, feather-topped tiara, and T-strapped Italian leather shoes, Ginger is ready to host the delectable event.

It’s a jolly good time, until someone chokes on the pudding.

Is it an accident or is it murder? And can Ginger unravel the mystery before the church bells ring and New Year’s Day dawns?

Karen MacInerney – SLAY BELLS RING

It’s Christmastime on Dewberry Farm, and homesteader Lucy Resnick is busy bundling mistletoe bunches and cedar swags for the Buttercup Christmas Market when a neighbor’s houseguest keels over right next to her peach orchard. Was it a stray bullet from a hunter that took him out? Or did a guest at the fancy ranch next door decide to scratch somebody off his or her Christmas list? It’s up to Lucy to unwrap the mystery… before the holiday killer strikes again.

CeeCee James – CHRISTMAS AT BAKER STREET

In this Baker Street spin-off, Oscar and Cecelia find themselves and the guests snowed in this Christmas holiday. What should be all sugar cookies and hot cocoa takes a drastic turn when one of the guests turns up cold—as in stone cold dead. With no help in sight, the two hope to find the killer before anyone else gets iced out, including them.

Nancy Warren – CAT’S PAWS AND CURSES

In this classic closed room mystery, someone is murdered during a knitting class. But how was it possible? Lucy Swift and her band of undead knitters must catch the culprit before there’s a second Christmas catastrophe!

Molly Fitz – MEOWY CHRISTMAS MAYHEM

It’s Angie’s first Christmas as a pet owner, and she can’t wait to celebrate with Octo-Cat, Paisley, and Nan. All it takes is a little finely-crafted trickery to get her crabby tabby into the local pet supply store for a special photo opportunity with Santa. Unfortunately, the jolly old soul is found dead in the stock room before he ever gets the chance to say “cheese.” Angie and her motley crew of sidekicks need to work fast to find the culprit and prevent any further suspicious holiday slaying… Otherwise, the most wonderful time of the year could end up becoming the most murderous season Blueberry Bay has ever seen.

Addison Moore – CHRISTMAS FUDGE FATALITY

My name is Lottie Lemon, and I see dead people. Okay, so I rarely see dead people, mostly I see furry creatures of the dearly departed variety, aka dead pets, who have come back from the other side to warn me of their previous owner’s impending doom.

The holidays have arrived and the Jolly Holly Tree Lot is hosting a special event that has the entire town bustling to get a picture with the jolly old elf himself. And I’m just as anxious as anyone to get to the front of the line, but that body I stumble upon threatens to take the joy right out of the season.

Six Merry Little Murders by Lee Strauss & Others

Other Books

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NOT ALL ANGELS ARE HEAVEN SENT.
I AM ONE SUCH ANGEL, AND I HAVE COME
TO PASS JUDGEMENT ON THE LIVING,
AND THE DEAD…


A report of a rare and unusual gun – a type favoured by assassins – being smuggled into the country sparks Detective Harry Hole’s interest. Then a former WW2 Nazi sympathiser is found with his throat cut. Next, Harry’s former partner is murdered. Why had she been trying to reach Harry on the night she was killed?

As Harry’s investigation unfolds, it becomes clear that the killer is hell-bent on serving his own justice. And while the link between the cases remains a mystery, one thing is certain: he must be stopped.

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

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As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible “adult” around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

~Cassie

Buzzwordathon Wrap Up

Round five of the buzzwordathon is over and I had an amazing week of reading. I managed to read four books and was part way through my fifth book when it ended. All the books are amazing and I recommend all of them. I even discovered one of my favorite books of all time!!  Buzzwordathon is my favorite readathon to participate in and I can’t wait to see what the word(s) for next round are going to be. But before we start anticipating round 6 too much lets wrap up round 5.

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Rating: 5/5

This is one of my favorite books I have read this year! Actually it might be in my list of top ten favorite books. I have never read a book where the characters felt so real. I wish they were real so I could obsessively listen to their music! This book is perfection and I can’t wait to read it again. The writing in this book was so amazing because it really feels like you are reading an interview. After awhile each character started to have a specific voice in my head which only helped to make this book even more real to me. I also appreciated the fact that Reid would have multiple people talking about the same event and all of them had a different view of what happened.

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Rating: 4/5

I enjoyed this book just as much as I did the first one. I read the first one all the way back in August of 2017 and you can my review of it here. This book is told in a podcast format which just make this book feel so real. Reading feels like listening to a podcast which is a testament to the author. I love true crime podcasts so this is the perfect book to me. I had an idea of what a cool twist for the story would be but of course the book didn’t go that way so I was left feeling a little disappointed. There are at least two more books in this series that I know of and I will hopefully get to those early in the new year.

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Rating: 4/5

To me this is the perfect YA mystery. The clues are all there and the ending is so sinister. I saw a large majority of the ending coming and I still wasn’t disappointed. If you have heard about this book before then you know that it is compared to The Breakfast Club and I think the author did a fabulous job of taking that iconic movie and making it her own. I am also not always a fan of romance in YA but I think the one here is well done. I feel like sometime it can take away from the story but in this case it definitely added to it.

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Rating: 4/5

This is a really beautiful YA romance that also is the one of the saddest books that I have ever read. I was getting a lot of A Walk to Remember vibes which is why I only rated it four stars. If you have ever lost a loved one to cancer I would encourage you to make sure you are in the right headspace to read this book. I lost my Grandma to cancer almost three years ago and I have only just started the past few months to feel strong enough to confront my grief head on. There is also a part of the book that deals with the famous Footprints in the Sand poem and that was difficult for me because that is what I read during my Grandma’s funeral. There is nowhere in the synopsis that says anything about this book being a cancer book which I think is wrong because this topic can be incredibly triggering for people.

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I only made it about a third of the way through this before the readathon ended. I am loving it so far though. I didn’t realize going into this how funny it would be and I am enjoying the utter mess that is Darcy’s life. I’m kicking myself for not picking up one of Wall Thorne’s books sooner. The Hating Game is for sure going to be one that I pick up in 2020!

~Cassie

On My Radar: December 2019

The last month of the year is here! I am so excited for all the amazing books that come out this month. I need to catch up on all the books that I have put on previous months TBR’s but I’m sure that some of these will still be read this month. I have ARC’s for a couple of them and the other’s I will be *maybe* be getting for Christmas. Or at least buying for myself with some gift cards ;).

*All information for this post was pulled from Goodreads

December 3

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In this fast-paced new novel from Sara Shepard, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars, a tight-knit college town scrambles for answers when an e-mail hack reveals life-changing secrets and scandals.

Aldrich University is rocked to its core when a hacker dumps 40,000 people’s e-mails—the entire faculty, staff, students, alums—onto an easily searchable database. Rumors and affairs immediately leak, but things turn explosive when Kit Manning’s handsome husband, Dr. Greg Strasser, is found murdered. Kit’s sister, Willa, returns for the funeral, setting foot in a hometown she fled fifteen years ago, after a night she wishes she could forget. As an investigative reporter, Willa knows something isn’t right about the night Greg was killed, and she’s determined to find the truth. What she doesn’t expect is that everyone has something to hide. And with a killer on the loose, Willa and Kit must figure out who killed Greg before someone else is murdered.

Told from multiple points of view, Reputation is full of twists, turns, and shocking reveals. It’s a story of intrigue, sabotage, and the secrets we keep—and how far we go to keep them hidden. Number one bestseller Sara Shepard is at the top of her game in this brand-new adult novel.

Reputation by Sara Shepard

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Maxwell has finally met an opponent that he can’t best in this new football romance from the author of Fumbled.

According to Brynn Larson, Maxwell Lewis is more trouble than he’s worth. She doesn’t care if he’s a football god with a rock-hard body that brings most women to their knees. After an encounter that ends poorly, she’s not interested in giving him a second chance. The last thing Brynn expects is for him to turn up at her bar months later, hat in hand. It doesn’t matter if he brings more customers to her business–she’s still not going on a date with him.

Maxwell knows he made a mistake. He’d been waiting to make his move on Brynn since the day he laid eyes on her and he was finally ready to go for it until he screwed up. He wishes he could tell her the truth about what happened that night, but he just can’t. He can’t tell anyone, so he’ll make amends and hope she’ll forgive him.

Brynn’s not like other women, though. Playing for the Mustangs doesn’t impress her and gifts make her scoff. Max will have to bring his A game if he hopes to win her over.

Blitzed by Alexa Martin

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In this charming, feel-good debut novel, a cynical assistant at a screenwriting agency must reenact the meet-cute scenes from classic romantic comedy movies in order to help her #1 client get his scriptwriting mojo back–but can a real-life meet-cute be in store for someone who doesn’t believe in happily ever after?

After seven years as an assistant, 29-year-old Evie Summers is ready to finally get the promotion she deserves. But now the TV and film agency she’s been running behind the scenes is in trouble, and Evie will lose her job unless she can convince the agency’s biggest and most arrogant client, Ezra Chester, to finish writing the script for a Hollywood romantic comedy.

The catch? Ezra is suffering from writer’s block–and he’ll only put pen to paper if singleton Evie can prove to him that you can fall in love like they do in the movies. With the future of the agency in jeopardy, Evie embarks on a mission to meet a man the way Sally met Harry or Hugh Grant met Julia Roberts.

But in the course of testing out the meet-cute scenes from classic romantic comedies IRL, not only will Evie encounter one humiliating situation after another, but she’ll have to confront the romantic past that soured her on love. In a novel as hilarious as it is heartwarming, debut author Rachel Winters proves that sometimes real life is better than the movies–and that the best kind of meet-cutes happen when you least expect them.

Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters

December 10

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From #1 New York Times bestselling author of It Ends with Uscomes a poignant novel about family, first love, grief, and betrayal that will touch the hearts of both mothers and daughters.

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.

Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.

With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.

While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

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A supernatural thriller in the vein of A Head Full of Ghosts about two young girls, a scary story that becomes far too real, and the tragic–and terrifying–consequences that follow one of them into adulthood.

Red Lady, Red Lady, show us your face…

In 1991, Heather Cole and her friends were members of the Dead Girls Club. Obsessed with the macabre, the girls exchanged stories about serial killers and imaginary monsters, like the Red Lady, the spirit of a vengeful witch killed centuries before. Heather knew the stories were just that, until her best friend Becca began insisting the Red Lady was real–and she could prove it.

That belief got Becca killed.

It’s been nearly thirty years, but Heather has never told anyone what really happened that night–that Becca was right and the Red Lady was real. She’s done her best to put that fateful summer, Becca, and the Red Lady, behind her. Until a familiar necklace arrives in the mail, a necklace Heather hasn’t seen since the night Becca died.

The night Heather killed her.

Now, someone else knows what she did…and they’re determined to make Heather pay.

The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

December 30

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Imagine that your husband has two other wives.

You’ve never met the other wives. None of you know each other, and because of this unconventional arrangement, you can see your husband only one day a week. But you love him so much you don’t care. Or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself.

But one day, while you’re doing laundry, you find a scrap of paper in his pocket—an appointment reminder for a woman named Hannah, and you just know it’s another of the wives.

You thought you were fine with your arrangement, but you can’t help yourself: you track her down, and, under false pretenses, you strike up a friendship. Hannah has no idea who you really are. Then Hannah starts showing up to your coffee dates with telltale bruises, and you realize she’s being abused by her husband. Who, of course, is also your husband. But you’ve never known him to be violent, ever.

Who exactly is your husband, and how far would you go to find the truth? Would you risk your own life?

And who is his mysterious third wife?

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

December 31

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Goode girls don’t lie…

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new novel examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to to protect their secrets.

Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison

~Cassie

 

Blog Tour: The Last Affair by Margot Hunt

Thank you to Harlequinn Trade Publishing for including me in this blog tour. I was gifted a copy of The Last Affair to read in exchange for my honest review. 

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Author: Margot Hunt

ISBN: 9780778309222

Publication Date: November 26, 2019

Publisher: MIRA BOOKS

Pages: 336

Rating: 5/5

BOOK SUMMARY: 

Gwen Landon—poster woman for perfect wife, mother, and suburban bliss—is found brutally bludgeoned to death behind her Floridian McMansion. Beautiful and beloved by her community, Gwen makes an unlikely victim. But just a scratch below the surface of her perfectly curated world reveals one far more sinister. When looking back over the six months leading up to her death, the question of, “who would do this?” quickly shifts to, “who wouldn’t?” 

Commercially successful food blogger and mother of three, Nora Holliday never imagined she would have the nerve, let alone time, to get involved an affair. Trapped in an unhappy marriage, she does whatever it takes to keep it all together. But when Nora runs into Gwen Landon’s husband at a hotel in Orlando, his easy kindness and warmth proves too tempting to resist. As their affair spirals dangerously out of control, it seems things can’t get more complicated—until Gwen turns up dead.

Review:

This is a really well crafted suspense novel. We start out the first chapter with the police investigating Gwen’s murder and then we go back six months and start building up to that point. There are so many threads to this story that make this book so compulsively readable because you just want to know who kills Gwen and why. There are a few obvious suspects but there are also side characters who seem nefarious so I honestly had no clue who is was going to be.

This book is told in three different perspectives: Nora, Gwen and Gwen’s daughter, Abby. All three are dealing with terrible relationships that are fractured and they each deal with them in different ways. Gwen was the most interesting character to me especially since we know from the beginning how her story ends. Gwen is not a likable character but I found the way Hunt wrote her refreshing and I always looked forward to her chapters. Abby is more of a plot device, which I’m not saying is a negative thing, I just didn’t really connect to her character. Nora was a great character. Obviously as a blogger I really appreciated that part of her life and it definitely was a big reason why I connected to her so early on. The way the three of their stories interconnected and wove together are why this book is so successful. Their points of view are running parallel to each other and then the closer we got to the end the more they started weaving into each other and it was just exceptionally well done.

The part that really made me fall in love with this book is that it is so much more than just your average domestic story where someone is killed and we are trying to figure it out. Instead this book is more like a contemporary with the suspense building along with the story. Hunt really delves into motherhood, marriage, adulthood, the everyday stress we all deal with and does it in such a perfect way that it doesn’t take away from the bigger story. Some domestic mystery/suspense/thriller’s can feel really flat or one dimensional but this one is like a perfectly well told story that I think so many people will love.  If you are the fence or just want to know more then please scroll down to read the prologue of this book. Just know that the book builds deliciously from that point on.

BIO: Margot Hunt is a critically acclaimed author of psychological suspense. Her work has been praised by Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus Reviews.

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SOCIAL:

TWITTER: @HuntAuthor

FB: @AuthorMargotHunt

Insta:@margot_hunt

Goodreads

Excerpt 

Prologue

Other than the woman’s blood-covered body splayed facedown in the grass, it could have been any typical upscale Floridian backyard.

There was the ubiquitous pool with a water fountain feature, a patio furnished with both a dining set and outdoor sectional couch, and an enormous gas grill capable of cooking hamburgers by the dozen. A large pergola with a tropical vine trained over it covered part of the patio. The dining area was shaded by a black-and-white-striped awning. It was the very picture of suburban domestic bliss. It could have been the set for a commercial advertising anything from laundry detergent to allergy medicine.

Again, except for the dead body.

The area had already been taped off. The first officers on the scene appeared with an ambulance in response to a frantic 911 call placed by the woman’s daughter. The paramedics had assessed the situation, and quickly determined that the woman was dead. The fact that the back of her head had been bashed in with what looked like a paving stone, conveniently dropped next to her prone body, made it immediately clear that it had not been a natural death. The responding officers called the sheriff, who responded by sending in a full investigative team. The medical examiner was now doing a preliminary examination of the body, while police officers combed the area for additional evidence. Two detectives, Mike Monroe and Gavin Reddick—separated by twenty years and sixty pounds—were overseeing the operation, standing at the edge of the patio under the shade of the pergola. It was the third week in April, but this was South Florida and the temperature had already climbed into the low nineties.

“The paving stone came from the stack out in the front yard. They were delivered last week by the company who’s installing the driveway,” Detective Reddick said. He was the younger of the two men and had a wiry frame and angular face.

“Weapon of convenience. Suggests it wasn’t premeditated,” Detective Monroe said. He had a ruddy complexion and a full head of thick dark hair, swept back off his face. A strand never moved out of place, even in a strong wind.

“Plus he dropped the weapon, rather than taking it with him. Probably panicked.”

“Could be a she,” Monroe said mildly.

Reddick shrugged. “Blunt force trauma to the back of the head? You know the stats. Overwhelming likelihood that it’s a man, and probably someone the victim was intimately involved with. Husband, maybe a boyfriend.”

“The husband was with the daughter when she called it in.”

“Doesn’t mean he didn’t do it, and then had her place the call.”

“No, it doesn’t.”

The family had been sequestered indoors, both to keep them out of the way, and so that the officers waiting in the house with them could observe anything they did or said. Other than the husband, there was a daughter in her early twenties and a teenage son. The daughter was reportedly distraught, while the husband and son had both been eerily quiet. It was possible they were in shock.

“Do we have an ID on the victim?” Reddick asked.

“It’s her house,” Monroe grunted.

“Yeah, but I like doing things the official way, you know? I’s dotted, t’s crossed, all of that. Building a case, basic detective work.”

Despite the chilling scene in front of them—the woman’s body still sprawled on the grass, the back of her head a pulpy, bloody mess—the corner of Monroe’s mouth quirked up in a half smile. “Sure, kid, tell me all about basic detective work. I’ve only been doing this for, what…thirty-two years now? The husband ID’d her. Victim is Gwen Landon, age forty-nine. Married, mother of two. Husband said she hasn’t had any recent conflict with anyone.”

“Other than the person who caved in the back of her head with a paving stone,” Reddick pointed out.

“Wouldn’t be the first time a husband didn’t know his wife as well as he thought he did.”

“Possible. But there’s another possibility, too.”

“What’s that?”

Reddick turned to look at his partner. His eyes were small and dark, and he had a habit of squinting when he concentrated intently on something.

“The husband is a liar,” Reddick said.

BUY LINKS:

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

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Books-A-Million

Target

Walmart

Google

iBooks

Kobo

~Cassie