On My Radar: August 2020

The end of July snuck up on me and it wasn’t until I was putting together my August TBR yesterday that I realized that I never did this post. I love so many genres so there are always an absurd amount of new releases that I want to read every month. I would love to be able to actually read all of these books when they come out but that is not feasible. However, these are the books that I will be adding to my collection as I come across them and hopefully reading at some point!

*All dates and info come directly from Goodreads.

August 3

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A deep dive into the psyche of a young actress raised in the spotlight under the influence of a charming, manipulative film director and the moment when she decides his time for winning is over.

At the height of her career and on the eve of her first Golden Globe nomination, teen star Grace Turner disappeared.

Now, tentatively sober and surprisingly numb, Grace is back in Los Angeles after her year of self-imposed exile. She knows the new private life she wants isn’t going to be easy as she tries to be a better person and reconnect with the people she left behind.

But when Grace is asked to present a lifetime achievement award to director Able Yorke–the man who controlled her every move for eight years–she realizes that she can’t run from the secret behind her spectacular crash and burn for much longer. And she’s the only one with nothing left to lose.

Alternating between past and present, The Comeback tackles power dynamics and the uncertainty of young adulthood, the types of secrets that become part of our sense of self, and the moments when we learn that though there are many ways to get hurt, we can still choose to fight back.

August 4

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After the first season of her true crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name―and the last hope for thousands of people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.

The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating―but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insists she was murdered―and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody seems to want to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?

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Daisy and Simon’s marriage isn’t what it seems…

After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. They’re a happy little family of three.

So what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes—Daisy’s used to it. She knows he’s just letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And their happy little family of three will never be the same again.

In Lies, Lies, Lies, #1 Sunday Times bestselling author Adele Parks explores the darkest corners of a relationship in free fall in a mesmerizing tale of marriage and secrets.

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From the author of Our Kind of Cruelty comes an enthralling, irresistible novel of psychological suspense about three women and the destructive power of buried secrets

When Nancy Hennessy is murdered, she leaves behind two best friends, a loving husband and daughter, and a secret lover whose identity she took to the grave. Nancy was gorgeous and wealthy, with adoring friends and family—from the outside, her life was perfect. But as the investigation into her death flounders and her friends Eleanor and Mary wrestle with their grief, dark details surface that reveal how little they knew their friend, each other, maybe even themselves.

A gripping, immersive novel about impossible expectations and secrets that fester and become lethal, Imperfect Women unfolds through the perspectives of three fascinating women. Their enduring, complex friendship is the knot the reader must untangle to answer the question: who killed Nancy?

Imperfect Women explores guilt and retribution, love and betrayal, and the compromises we make that alter our lives irrevocably. With the wickedly sharp insights and finely tuned suspense that has drawn her comparisons to Patricia Highsmith and Paula Hawkins, Araminta Hall returns with another page-turning, thought-provoking tour de force.

August 7

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Meet Hannah Thompson: wife, mother, teacher and… secret erotica author?

My Guilt List:

1. If we have a date night then I’m always asleep before it’s halfway through and honestly, if I had to choose, I’d rather have a hot bath and read my book than engage in any other nocturnal activity.

2. If we do actually have you-know-what then it’s not unheard of for my mind to wander… and I’m not talking about sexy things – I’m talking about what food there is in the fridge and when the car is due for its next service.

3. I am struggling to write about anything that could be classed as even a little bit sexually https://www.goodreads.com/bookadventu… which is a problem when I’m supposed to be an erotica writer and I am speaking at Sex Con in exactly one month.

With a book to publicise, Hannah has no choice but trade her M&S cardis for S&M parties, and become her writing alter-ego. What could possibly go wrong…

August 11

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Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine when their neighbor, Morgan Baines, is found dead in her home. The murder rocks their tiny coastal island, but no one is more shaken than Sadie, who is terrified by the thought of a killer in her very own backyard.

But it’s not just Morgan’s death that has Sadie on edge. It’s their eerie old home, with its decrepit decor and creepy attic, which they inherited from Will’s sister after she died unexpectedly. It’s Will’s disturbed teenage niece Imogen, with her dark and threatening presence. And it’s the troubling past that continues to wear at the seams of their family.

As the eyes of suspicion turn toward the new family in town, Sadie is drawn deeper into the mystery of Morgan’s death. But Sadie must be careful, for the more she discovers about Mrs. Baines, the more she begins to realize just how much she has to lose if the truth ever comes to light.

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From the critically acclaimed author of SIBA Okra Pick A Murder for the Books, Victoria Gilbert embarks with a new series for perfect for fans of Kate Carlisle and Juliet Blackwell.

A book lover’s B&B in an idyllic waterfront village becomes the scene of a grisly murder–and a ruthless battle between treachery and the truth.

Nestled in the historic waterfront town of Beaufort, North Carolina, Chapters Bed-and-Breakfast is a reader’s paradise. Built in 1770, the newly renovated inn hosts a roster of special events celebrating books, genres, and authors. It’s the perfect literary retreat–until a rare book dealer turns up dead in the carriage house during a celebration of Golden Age mystery author Josephine Tey.

The victim’s daughter points the finger at forty-two-year-old widow and former schoolteacher Charlotte Reed, who inherited the B&B from her great-aunt Isabella. Charlotte is shocked to discover that the book dealer suspected Isabella of being a thief who founded Chapters on her ill-gotten gains. Charlotte has successfully learned the B&B business in a year, but nothing has prepared her to handle a death on the premises.

Armed with intelligence and courage and assisted by her vibrant older neighbor, a visiting author, and members of a local book club, Charlotte is determined to prove her innocence and to clear her great-aunt’s name. But the murderer is still at large, and equally determined to silence anyone who might discover the truth behind the book dealer’s death. Now, Charlotte must outwit an unknown killer–or end up writing her own final chapter.

August 18

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You heard the story on the news. A girl and a boy went into the woods. The girl carried a picnic basket. The boy wore bright yellow running shoes. The girl found her way out, but the boy never did….

Everyone thinks they know what happened. Some say Tabby pushed him off that cliff— she didn’t even like hiking. She was jealous. She had more than her share of demons. Others think he fell accidentally—she loved Mark. She would never hurt him…even if he hurt her.

But what’s the real story? All Eyes On Her is told from everyone but Tabby herself as the people in her life string together the events that led Tabby to that cliff. Her best friend. Her sister. Her enemy. Her ex-boyfriend. Because everybody thinks they know a girl better than she knows herself.

What do you think is the truth?

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In this new novel from the internationally bestselling author of the “cool, sharp, and beautifully written” (Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author) Anatomy of a Scandal, a doctor is faced with an ethical dilemma when her friend’s child lands in the emergency room.

Liz Trenchard is an experienced pediatrician with a duty to protect all children admitted to her busy emergency room. So when her friend Jess turns up at the ER one night with her baby girl and a story that doesn’t quite add up, Liz is forced to question everything she thought she knew about her friend and about herself. There are so many secrets and so many lies. The truth can’t come soon enough.

With Sarah Vaughan’s signature “clever and compelling” (Claire Douglas, author of Last Seen Alive) prose, this is a tightly-wound and evocative page-turner that will haunt you long after you finish the last page.

August 25

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You meets Fatal Attraction in this up-all-night psychological thriller about a lonely empty-nester’s growing obsession with a young mother who shares her name.

It all begins on an ordinary fall morning, when Kelly Medina gets a call from her son’s pediatrician to confirm her upcoming “well-baby” appointment. It’s a cruel mistake; her son left for college a year ago, and Kelly has never felt so alone. The receptionist quickly apologizes: there’s another mother in town named Kelly Medina, and she must have gotten their numbers switched.

But Kelly can’t stop thinking about the woman who shares her name. Lives in her same town. Has a son she can still hold, and her whole life ahead of her. She can’t help looking for her: at the grocery store, at the gym, on social media. When Kelly just happens to bump into the single mother outside that pediatrician’s office, it’s simple curiosity getting the better of her.

Their unlikely friendship brings Kelly a renewed sense of purpose, taking care of this young woman and her adorable baby boy. But that friendship quickly turns to obsession, and when one Kelly disappears, well, the other one may know why.

August 27

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Beyah comes from a life of poverty and neglect; Samson from a family of wealth.
When the two find themselves spending the summer as neighbors, they soon realize money is one of the few things they don’t have in common.

Their bond is too intense to ignore, but with only ten weeks separating them from the start of their new lives on opposite ends of the country, Beyah and Samson decide to stay in the shallow end of a summer fling.

What they don’t realize is that a rip current is coming and it’s about to drag both their hearts out to sea.

~Cassie

August TBR

I am so proud of myself this month for showing some restraint and not going too crazy with my TBR. Although, it is still crazy because I decided to participate in the next round of the Tome Topple Readathon which is a two week long readathon. I feel like I was smart with my choices but I did only manage to get two books for that readathon on to my monthly TBR so we will see how productive I end up being. BUT I did make the decision to only do 8 spins of my TBR wheel versus the 12 I have been doing so hopefully by cutting myself some slack I will be able to get them all done. Also, I did my usual three Romanceopoly rolls and I am overly excited about all three of them so fingers crossed I get those read as well.

I will have a full readathon TBR up closer to the start date, August 8.

Also, this is not relevant at all to this post but if you saw my post yesterday you might be interested to know that I made it 36% through A Discovery of Witches and DNF’d it. Although, I might go back to it in the future but I just couldn’t take anymore. I want to like it so much but when we reached the second time Matthew watched Diana sleep I noped out of there.

I’m editing this to add that I completely forgot about my Literally Dead Book Club pick! This month’s pick is Home Before Dark but I read that last month so I’m reading last month’s pick this month. Yes, that is slightly confusing but we are just going to go with it. July’s pick was Zone One by Colson Whitehead so I will also be reading that this month.  

ARC

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Daisy and Simon’s marriage isn’t what it seems…

After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. They’re a happy little family of three.

So what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes—Daisy’s used to it. She knows he’s just letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And their happy little family of three will never be the same again.

In Lies, Lies, Lies, #1 Sunday Times bestselling author Adele Parks explores the darkest corners of a relationship in free fall in a mesmerizing tale of marriage and secrets.

Dark Romance

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When Ellis Earnshaw and Heathan James met as children, they couldn’t have been more different. Ellis was loud and beautiful – all blond hair, bright laughs and smiles. Heathan was dark and brooding, and obsessed with watching things die.
The pair forged an unlikely friendship, unique and strange. Until they were ripped apart by the sick cruelty of others, separated for years, both locked in a perpetual hell.
Eleven years later, Heathan is back for his girl. Back from a place from which he thought there was no return. Back to seek revenge on those who wronged them.
Time has made Heathan’s soul darker, polluted with hatred and the thirst for blood.
Time has made Ellis a shell of her former self, a little girl lost in the vastness of her pain.
As Heathan pulls Ellis out of her mental prison, reviving the essence of who she once was, down the rabbit hole they will go.
With malice in their hearts and vengeance in their veins, they will seek out the ones who hurt and destroyed them.
One at a time.
Each one more deadly than the last.
Tick Tock.

Dark Contemporary Romance. Contains explicit sexual situations, violence, disturbingly sensitive and taboo subjects, offensive language and very mature topics. Recommended for ages 18 and over.

Pet Pick

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David Copperfield is the story of a young man’s adventures on his journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to the discovery of his vocation as a successful novelist. Among the gloriously vivid cast of characters he encounters are his tyrannical stepfather, Mr Murdstone; his brilliant, but ultimately unworthy school-friend James Steerforth; his formidable aunt, Betsey Trotwood; the eternally humble, yet treacherous Uriah Heep; frivolous, enchanting Dora Spenlow; and the magnificently impecunious Wilkins Micawber, one of literature’s great comic creations. In David Copperfield – the novel he described as his ‘favourite child’ – Dickens drew revealingly on his own experiences to create one of the most exuberant and enduringly popular works, filled with tragedy and comedy in equal measure. This edition uses the text of the first volume publication of 1850, and includes updated suggestions for further reading, original illustrations by ‘Phiz’, a revised chronology and expanded notes. In his new introduction, Jeremy Tambling discusses the novel’s autobiographical elements, and its central themes of memory and identity.

Connor Pick

*This is my oldest son. I was pretty surprised by his pick but I honestly think he just went with the first book he saw…

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At the end of a dark prairie road, nearly forgotten in the Kansas countryside, is the Finch House. For years it has remained empty, overgrown, abandoned. Soon the door will be opened for the first time in decades. But something is waiting, lurking in the shadows, anxious to meet its new guests…

When best-selling horror author Sam McGarver is invited to spend Halloween night in one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses, he reluctantly agrees. At least he won’t be alone; joining him are three other masters of the macabre, writers who have helped shape modern horror. But what begins as a simple publicity stunt will become a fight for survival. The entity they have awakened will follow them, torment them, threatening to make them a part of the bloody legacy of Kill Creek.

YA

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Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph . . .

She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century.

At least, she thinks she has. With this latest tragedy, it’s hard to concentrate on the past. Not only has someone died in town, but David disappeared of his own free will and is up to something. Stevie is sure that somehow—somehow—all these things connect. The three deaths in the present. The deaths in the past. The missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers.

Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm—and a murderer.

In the tantalizing finale to the Truly Devious trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson expertly tangles her dual narrative threads and ignites an explosive end for all who’ve walked through Ellingham Academy.

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson delivers the witty and pulse-pounding conclusion to the Truly Devious series as Stevie Bell solves the mystery that has haunted Ellingham Academy for over 75 years.

iBooks

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Some secrets should stay buried.

When a local girl falls prey to a sadistic serial killer, Nashville Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson and her lover, FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin, find themselves in a joint investigation pursuing a vicious murderer. The Southern Strangler is slaughtering his way through the Southeast, leaving a gruesome memento at each crime scene — the prior victim’s severed hand.

Ambitious TV reporter Whitney Connolly is certain the Southern Strangler is her ticket out of Nashville; she’s got a scoop that could break the case. She has no idea how close this story really is — or what it will cost her.

As the killer spirals out of control, everyone involved must face a horrible truth — that the purest evil is born of private lies.

Thriller

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You meets Fatal Attraction in this up-all-night story of suspicion, obsession and motherhood.

It all begins on an ordinary fall morning, when Kelly Medina gets a call from her son’s pediatrician to confirm her upcoming “well-baby” appointment. It’s a cruel mistake; her son left for college a year ago, and Kelly’s never felt so alone. The receptionist quickly apologizes: there’s another mother in town named Kelly Medina, and she must have gotten their numbers switched.

For days, Kelly can’t stop thinking about the woman who shares her name. Lives in her same town. Has a son she can still hold, and her whole life ahead of her. She can’t help looking for her: at the grocery store, at the gym, on social media. When Kelly just happens to bump into the single mother outside that pediatrician’s office, it’s simple curiosity getting the better of her.

Their unlikely friendship brings Kelly a renewed sense of purpose—taking care of this young woman and her adorable baby boy. But that friendship quickly turns to obsession, and when one Kelly disappears, well, the other one may know why.

A one word title

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You meets Fatal Attraction in this up-all-night story of suspicion, obsession and motherhood.

It all begins on an ordinary fall morning, when Kelly Medina gets a call from her son’s pediatrician to confirm her upcoming “well-baby” appointment. It’s a cruel mistake; her son left for college a year ago, and Kelly’s never felt so alone. The receptionist quickly apologizes: there’s another mother in town named Kelly Medina, and she must have gotten their numbers switched.

For days, Kelly can’t stop thinking about the woman who shares her name. Lives in her same town. Has a son she can still hold, and her whole life ahead of her. She can’t help looking for her: at the grocery store, at the gym, on social media. When Kelly just happens to bump into the single mother outside that pediatrician’s office, it’s simple curiosity getting the better of her.

Their unlikely friendship brings Kelly a renewed sense of purpose—taking care of this young woman and her adorable baby boy. But that friendship quickly turns to obsession, and when one Kelly disappears, well, the other one may know why.

Romanceopoly (Moon Pack)

BFF’s House (Read a best friends sibling romance)

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In this heart-wrenching tale of love and loss, a young Marine and his best friend’s sister plunge into a forbidden love affair while he’s home on leave.

When a Marine Chaplain knocks on her door, Jessa’s heart breaks—someone she loves is dead. Killed in action, but is it Riley or Kit? Her brother or her boyfriend…

Three months earlier, Marine Kit Ryan finds himself back home on leave and dangerously drawn to his best friend Riley’s sister, Jessa—the one girl he can’t have. Exhausted from fighting his feelings, Kit finally gives in, and Jessa isn’t strong enough to resist diving headfirst into a passionate relationship.

But what was just supposed to be a summer romance develops into something far greater than either of them expected. Jessa’s finally found the man of her dreams and Kit’s finally discovered there’s someone he’d sacrifice everything for.

When it’s time for Kit to redeploy, neither one is ready to say goodbye. Jessa vows to wait for him and Kit promises to come home to her. No matter what.

But as Jessa stands waiting for the Marine Chaplain to break her heart, she can’t help but feel that Kit has broken his promise…

Riley or Kit? Kit or Riley? Her brother or her boyfriend? Who’s coming home to her?

The Cobbles (Read a historical romance NOT set in London)

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Judith Hampton was as beautiful as she was proud and loyal. Her dear Scottish friend from childhood was about to give birth, and Judith had promised to be at her side. But there was another, private reason for the journey from her bleak English home to the Highlands: to meet the father she had never known, the Laird Maclean. Nothing prepared her, however, for the sight of the Scottish barbarian who was to escort her into his land…Iain Maitland, Laird of his clan, a man more powerfully compelling than any she had ever encountered.

In a spirited clash of wills and customs, Judith reveled in the melting bliss of Iain’s searching kisses, his passionate caresses. Perplexed by her sprightly defiance, bemused by her tender nature, Iain felt his soul growing into the light and warmth of her love. Surely nothing would wrench her from the affection and trust of Iain and his clan…not even the truth about her father, a devastating secret that could shatter the boldest alliance, and the most glorious of loves!

Rainbow Row (read a M/M romance)

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Wanted:
One (fake) boyfriend
Practically perfect in every way

Luc O’Donnell is tangentially–and reluctantly–famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he’s never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad’s making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that’s when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don’t ever want to let them go.

~Cassie

WWW Wednesday 7/29/20

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This fun weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words and all you need to do to participate is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What have you recently finished reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

On Sunday I started A Discovery of Witches for the Practical Magic PopCulture Readathon prompt. I recently bought this book on my Kindle for either $1.99 or $2.99 and all I knew about it was that people really loved it some time ago. Well, I decided to look this book up on Goodreads and was pretty shocked to realize it is basically a Twilight retelling with witches and demons. No shade to anyone who loves Twilight but I actively avoid this series at all cost. I did read the series when the hype was strong like ten plus years ago but I think Edward is creepy and all the relationships are incredibly toxic. Don’t even get me started on Jacob imprinting with a BABY! But anyways, seriously, if you love it then I hope you don’t hate me too much because I don’t like this series for me but I have no problem with other people enjoying it. Anyways, all that background is to say that I don’t know about this book. I’m 20% in and the Twilight vibes are strong. BUT I am enjoying where the story is going even though not a lot has happened.

I’m still working my way through Thunderhead even though I feel like I could easily sit down and read it all in one sitting. It is so good and I’m bummed that there is only one book left in the series. My oldest son, Connor, has been getting impatient with me when it comes to this book because he really wants to talk about the ending with me.

I read the first chapter of Women, Race & Class and I was blown away. I learned so much in that one chapter and took so many notes that I decided to put it down for a couple of days before continuing on. I don’t want to miss anything and so I plan on going through this one slowly. I’m reading this book for SunBeamJess book club. This and Red at the Bone were both July picks.

What have you recently finished reading?

I have been reading a lot lately and I managed to read these six books since last Wednesday. Half of them were for blog tours so I will link those here:

Blog Tour: High Heat by Annabeth Albert

Blog Tour: Someone’s Listening by Seraphina Nova Glass

Blog Tour: Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters

I have reviews coming soon for the other three books. I am behind on reviews but I have gotten into the habit of taking notes while reading so it should be easy for me to sit down and write them all. I gave The Black Flamingo and A Thousand Mornings five stars. The Safe Place got four stars.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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I know last week I said I wanted to finish The Priory of the Orange Tree but unfortunately my inflammation has flared up and it is too much for me right now to read that huge hardback. I have tried propping it up but then it is hard for me to get comfortable so I’m mostly reading on my Kindle right now. Which may be the real reason that I have been taking so long to read Thunderhead. Even though it is no where near as thick as Priory it is still just easier to read on my Kindle. So anyways, I have been wanting to read the Vanishing Stair since I read (and loved) Truly Devious so this is a good chance to do that.

~Cassie

ARC Review: Playing Nice by J.P. Delaney

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Publication Date: July 28, 2020

Publisher: Ballatine Books

Pages: 416

Genre: Suspense with some thriller aspects

Rating: 5/5

This book starts off with our main characters, Pete and Maddie learning that their son, Theo, who they have been raising for the past two years is not biologically theirs. Which is such a captivating way to start a book and things really just build from there. I read this book in one sitting because I was so enthralled that I just needed to find out what was going to happen next.

Pete and Maddie are shocked to find out that their baby was switched at the NICU he had been sent to following his premature birth. They immediately know it is true though because the man who tells them, Miles, is the spitting image of Theo. And his son, David, is the spitting image of Maddie’s brother. Like I mentioned above, the story really builds from there and it is such a wild and emotional ride. Being a parent myself I constantly felt on the edge of my seat because I was so invested in what was going to happen to these two young boys.

This book is a well crafted suspense story that is really aided by the case files and transcripts that happen between chapters. As a reader we instantly know that something is going to happen to these characters but we aren’t sure what. I feel like the addition of these extras was so brilliant because the way they were placed in the story was so deliberate and would sometimes leave me feeling shocked or confused. Once the story evolved more I did have an idea of what the ending was going to be but I still think it was a satisfying ending to the story.

Playing Nice is my favorite of Delaney’s books which is saying a lot since I think I have given them all five stars. I love the imaginative and well thought out stories that he writes and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

~Cassie

Blog Tour: High Heat by Annabeth Albert

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*Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC and all the info for this post in exchange for my honest review.

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Title: High Heat

Author: Annabeth Albert

Series: Hotshots, #2

Length: 352 pages

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Imprint: Carina Press

eBook On-Sale: July 27, 2020

eBook ISBN & Price: 9781488057069, $4.99 U.S.

MMP On-Sale: July 28, 2020

MMP ISBN & Price: 9781335459510, $8.99 U.S.

Book Description: Annabeth Albert’s Hotshots series continues—the emotions and intensity of Chicago Fire with the raw, natural elements of Man vs. Wild.

Smoke jumping is Garrick Nelson’s life. Nothing, not severe injuries nor the brutal physical therapy that follows, is going to stop him from getting back with his crew. But when a lost dog shows up on his front porch, he can’t turn her away, and he can’t take care of her on his own. Thankfully, help comes in the form of his new sexy, dog-loving neighbor. As they work together, trying to re-home their little princess, Garrick can’t resist his growing attraction for the other man, even though he knows this guy isn’t the staying type.

Rain Fisher doesn’t take anything too seriously. He dances through life, one adventure at a time, never settling in one place for too long. When his hot, conveniently buff, neighbor shows up on his doorstep, dog in tow, Rain’s determined to not just save the adorable puppy, but her reluctant owner as well. He never expects their flirtation might tempt him into stay put once and for all…

Danger lurks everywhere for Central Oregon’s fire crews, but the biggest risk of all might be losing their hearts. Don’t miss the Hotshots series from Annabeth Albert: Burn Zone, High Heat, and Feel the Fire.

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Review

Wow this book is SPICY!! Garrick and Rain have amazing chemistry that just jumps off the page. I was instantly hooked into this sexy and surprisingly emotional romance. Garrick is working on recovering from a near fatal firefighting accident and I saw a lot of my own struggles in him. Despite my own personal connection to the story I think that everyone will find themselves caught up in Garrick’s journey. Rain is also someone that I really admired. He is so unapologetically himself and I love that. And I hope that we get to see characters like Rain more in books because he represents that men don’t have to fit into certain categories to be a man and that definitely needs to be normalized. I also appreciated how well Rain and Garrick communicate with each other and say what they are feeling and thinking. Of course, no relationship has one hundred perfect communication but Garrick and Rain come pretty close. This book is a lot of sexy, steamy, spicy fun with an amazing couple who showcase many different facets of what masculinity can look like. This book has a lot of great queer representation and I yearn for a world like Albert’s Burn Zone where everyone has the space and freedom to be themselves. I really think that any fan of romance would love this book although if you are not into graphic on page sex then this might not be for you. Keep reading for an excerpt to get a glimpse of the hot chemistry that Rain and Garrick have together.

AuthorPhoto-AnnabethAlbert

About Annabeth Albert

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter.  In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Connect with Annabeth Albert

Website: http://annabethalbert.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnabethAlbert 

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

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6477494.Annabeth_Albert 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Annabeth-Albert/e/B00LYFFAZK 

Excerpt

Emerging from the bathroom, he pulled up short in front of the bed where a very happy, very sleepy Cookie was lounging against his pillows.

“Hey! I thought I told you to lie on your bed.”

Thump. Thump. Wagging her tail, she gave him a canine grin.

“That’s the people bed. Yours is over there.” He pointed at her bed. “Go lie down.”

Helpfully, she scooted over about ten inches but otherwise didn’t seem inclined to budge.

“Five minutes, okay? Five minutes and then you’re going to your bed.” Sitting next to her, he adjusted the bed’s angle. Replacing his previous cheap king set with this setup had been a bit of a splurge, but it beat the rental hospital bed he’d had at his dad’s. He was a big guy. He needed his space. And he was not prepared to share that space with a stubborn pooch.

“Go lay down,” he tried again after giving her some pats, but all she did was move to the foot of the other side of the bed. Yawning and out of energy, he was no match for a stubborn dog. “Fine, fine. Let’s not tell Rain that you rejected his bed selection.”

Usually nights were hard—his pain level tended to spike at night in unpredictable ways, his sleep could be 

fitful, and his mind raced through hundreds of dismal scenarios. He’d never had an anxiety problem before the accident, but lately, calming down at night was particularly problematic. If he was physically exhausted, it was easier, but then physical tiredness tended to mean more pain, which meant more sleeplessness, which meant more time for worries to charge back up.

But that night he didn’t even need to play on his phone and was asleep even before he could try again to get Cookie to move. The next thing he knew it was morning—and not crack-of-dawn morning either, but a sunny eight o’clock. A banging noise was coming from the front door.

Had to be Rain come to walk the dog. And sure enough, his phone was full of several missed messages from Rain asking about a time to come over.

“Coming,” he hollered. Hell. No time to get dressed. Letting Cookie lead the way, he used the crutches to get as far as the wheelchair, then switched to the faster method to get to the door.

“Oh, good! You survived the night!” Rain greeted him cheerily. “And uh—wow. Um. You need me to wait a minute?”

Rain’s gaze was riveted to Garrick’s chest in a blatantly appreciative way he hadn’t experienced in months. Damn. Felt good. Too good. And his shorts were hardly designed to conceal his body’s reaction to Rain’s attention if his dick decided to power up like it had last night. Abruptly, he spun away from the door. “Come on in. Sorry. We slept late. Like ten hours. I can’t believe it. That never happens to me.”

“You must have needed it. Did Cookie stay in her bed all night?”

“She stayed quiet,” Garrick hedged, not wanting to hurt his feelings by telling him Cookie had rejected the bed but also not wanting to outright lie either. “She must have needed the rest too. You want to take her out? I’ll find both a shirt and her medication while you’re gone.”

“Sounds great.” Rain bounced on the balls of his feet before fetching the leash from the key rack where he’d hung it the night before. His hair was still up, but messier than the day before, and he was wearing silver shorts and a close-fitting pink T-shirt with several members of that pony show Garrick’s sister’s kids liked, and Squad Goals written under the ponies in swirly script.

“No job interview today?”

“Nope. Didn’t want Miss Cookie feeling bad about being the only one in pink. I figured we could match. And I told you. I like it.” Rain’s eyes were defiant, daring Garrick to object.

“Hey, you wear what you want to wear.” Without coffee on board, he was struggling to sound supportive and not lecherous, because damn. Rain looked good in pink, all warm and glowing. It made his eyes more golden, and somehow the contrast with his sharp jaw did all sorts of interesting things to Garrick’s insides. While his taste in partners could be eclectic, the one unifying feature was usually confidence, because there were few things sexier than a fearless person who knew themselves and what they wanted. He’d already noted Rain’s innate confidence the day before, and today’s outfit choice only made him that much more appealing.

“Good.” Rain clipped the leash to Cookie’s collar. “We’ll be back.”

While they were gone, Garrick found a T-shirt of his own, black and plain because he didn’t have the same need for sparkle as Rain, but man, did he appreciate glam in people who enjoyed it. As he made the coffee, he watched Rain and Cookie coming up the sidewalk at a decent trot, Rain’s mouth moving like he was talking to the dog. Cute. So damn cute. And so very off-limits.

 

Copyright © 2020 by Annabeth Albert

Buy Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/High-Heat-Hotshots-Book-2-ebook/dp/B082VF6Z56 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/high-heat-annabeth-albert/1135613570 

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/high-heat/id1491922759 

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/high-heat-15 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Annabeth_Albert_High_Heat?id=q8XEDwAAQBAJ

~Cassie

Blog Tour: Someone’s Listening by Seraphina Nova Glass

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Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing for working with me on this post and providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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SOMEONE’S LISTENING

Author: Seraphina Nova Glass

ISBN: 9781525836749

Publication Date: July 28, 2020

Publisher: Graydon House Books

Book Summary:

You’re not alone. Someone’s waiting. Someone’s watching…Someone’s listening.

In SOMEONE’S LISTENING (Graydon House Books; July 28; $16.99) Dr. Faith Finley has everything she’s ever wanted: she’s a renowned psychologist, a radio personality—host of the wildly popular “Someone’s Listening with Dr. Faith Finley”—and a soon-to-be bestselling author. She’s young, beautiful, and married to the perfect man, Liam.

Of course Liam was at Faith’s book launch with her. But after her car crashes on the way home and she’s pulled from the wreckage, nobody can confirm that Liam was with her at the party. The police claim she was alone in car, and they don’t believe her when she says otherwise. Perhaps that’s understandable, given the horrible thing Faith was accused of doing a few weeks ago.

And then the notes start arriving—the ones literally ripped from the pages of Faith’s own self-help book on leaving an abusive relationship. Ones like “Secure your new home. Consider new window and door locks, an alarm system, and steel doors…”

Where is Liam? Is his disappearance connected to the scandal that ruined Faith’s life? Who is sending the notes? Faith’s very life will depend on finding the answers.

Review

This is a textbook domestic thriller with an alcoholic narrator, a story full of twists and turns, and suspicious characters at every corner. I didn’t find the main character, Faith, to be all that likable but I did enjoy following along with her as she tries to figure out what happened to her husband, Liam. Glass also did a fantastic job of keeping me guessing at who was involved and I honestly thought it could have been any number of people. Which also speaks to how unpredictable the story was. There was so many layers of things going on and I loved seeing it all come together at the end. In fact, I think the ending was perfectly executed and really made everything come full circle. There are some major trigger warnings for graphic descriptions of domestic abuse and child abuse. That along with all the alcohol and pills that Faith consumes made this book uncomfortable to read at times so I just want to make you aware of that. I don’t think this book is for the casual domestic thriller fan but I do recommend if you are a hardcore lover of the genre. Keep reading to get an excerpt of the prologue of the book to see if you get easily hooked in like I did.

Seraphina Nova Headshots Jan 2019

Author Bio: 

Seraphina Nova Glass is a professor and Playwright-in-Residence at the University of Texas-Arlington, where she teaches Film Studies and Playwriting. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Smith College, and has optioned multiple screenplays to Hallmark and Lifetime. Someone’s Listening is her first novel.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @SeraphinaNova

Instagram: @SeraphinaNovaGlass

Facebook: @SeraphinaNovaGlass

Goodreads

Excerpt

PROLOGUE

WHEN I WAKE UP, IT’S BLACK AND STILL; I FEEL A light, icy snow that floats rather than falls, and I can’t open my eyes. I don’t know where I am, but it’s so quiet, the silence rings in my ears. My fingertips try to grip the ground, but I feel only a sheet of ice beneath me, splintered with bits of embedded gravel. The air is sharp, and I try to call for him, but I can’t speak. How long have I been here? I drift back out of consciousness. The next time I wake, I hear the crunching of ice under the boots of EMTs who rush around my body. I know where I am. I’m lying in the middle of County Road 6. There has been a crash. There’s a swirling red light, a strobe light in the vast blackness: they tell me not to move.

“Where’s my husband?” I whimper. They tell me to try not to talk either. “Liam!” I try to yell for him, but it barely escapes my lips; they’re numb, near frozen, and it comes out in a hoarse whisper. How has this happened?

I think of the party and how I hate driving at night, and how I was careful not to drink too much. I nursed a glass or two, stayed in control. Liam had a lot more. It wasn’t like him to get loaded, and I knew it was his way of getting back at me. He was irritated with me, with the position I’d put him in, even though he had never said it in so many words. I wanted to please him because this whole horrible situation was my fault, and I was sorry.

When I wake up again I’m in a hospital room, connected to tubes and machines. The IV needle is stuck into a bruised, purple vein in the back of my hand that aches. In the dim light, I sip juice from a tiny plastic cup, and the soft beep of the EKG tries to lull me back to sleep, but I fight it. I want answers. I need to appear stabilized and alert. Another dose of painkiller is released into my IV; the momentary euphoria forces me to heave a sigh. I need to keep my eyes open. I can hear the cops arrive and talk to someone at a desk outside my door. They’ll tell me what happened.

There’s a nurse who calls me “sweetie” and changes the subject when I ask about the accident. She gives the cops a sideways look when they come in to talk to me, and tells them they only have a few minutes and that I need to rest.

Detective John Sterling greets me with a soft “Hello, ma’am.” I almost forget about my shattered femur and groan after I move too quickly. Another officer lingers by the door, a tall, stern-looking woman with her light hair pulled into a tight bun at the base of her skull. She tells me I’m lucky to be alive, and if it had dropped below freezing, I wouldn’t have lasted those couple hours before a passing car stopped and called 911. I ask where Liam is, but she just looks to Sterling. Something is terribly wrong.

“Why won’t anyone tell me what happened to him?” I plead. I watch Detective Sterling as he picks his way through a response.

“The nurse tells me that you believe he was in the car with you at the time of the accident,” he says. I can hear the condescension in his voice. He’s speaking to me like I’m a child.

“They said ‘I believe’ he was? That’s not a— That’s a fact. We came from a party—a book signing party. Anyone, anyone can tell you that he was with me. Please. Is he hurt?” I look down at my body for the first time and see the jagged stitches holding together the bruised flesh of my right arm. They look exaggerated, like the kind you might draw on with makeup and glue for a Halloween costume. I close my eyes, holding back nausea. I try to walk through the series of events—trying to piece together what happened and when.

Liam had been quiet in the car. I knew he’d believed me after the accusations started. I knew he trusted me, but maybe I’d underestimated the seeds of doubt that had been planted in his mind. I tried to lighten the mood when we got in the car by making some joke about the fourteen-dollar domestic beers; he’d given a weak chuckle and rested his head on the passenger window.

The detective looks at me with something resembling sympathy but closer to pity.

“Do you recall how much you had to drink last night?” he asks accusingly.

“What? You think…? No. I drove because he… No! Where is he?” I ask, not recognizing my own voice. It’s haggard and raw.

“Do you recall taking anything to help you relax? Anything that might impair your driving?”

“No,” I snap, nearly in tears again.

“So, you didn’t take any benzodiazepine maybe? Yesterday…at some point?”

“No— I— Please.” I choke back tears. “I don’t…” He looks at me pointedly, then scribbles something on his stupid notepad. I didn’t know what to say. Liam must be dead, and they think I’m too fragile to take the news. Why would they ask me this?

“Ma’am,” he says, standing. He softens his tone. This is it. He’s going to tell me something I’ll never recover from.

“You were the only one in the car when medics got there,” he says, studying me for my response, waiting to detect a lie that he can use against me later. His patronizing look infuriates me.

“What?” The blood thumps in my ears. They think I’m crazy; that soft tone isn’t a sympathetic one reserved for delivery of the news that a loved one has died—it’s the careful language chosen when speaking to someone unstable. They think I’m some addict or a drunk. Maybe they think the impact had made me lose the details, but he was there. I swear to God. His cry came too late and there was a crash. It was deafening, and I saw him reach for me, his face distorted in terror. He tried to shield me. He was there. He was next to me, screaming my name when we saw the truck headlights appear only feet in front of us—too late.
Excerpted from Someone’s Listening by Seraphina Nova Glass, Copyright © 2020 by Seraphina Nova Glass. 

Published by Graydon House Books

Buy Links: 

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

~Cassie

Blog Tour: Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters

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Thank you so much to Carina Adores working with me on this post and providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Title: Hairpin Curves

Author: Elia Winters

Length: 320 pages

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Imprint: Carina Press (Carina Adores)

On-Sale: July 28, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback *also available in ebook and audiobook formats.

Price: $14.99 U.S. 

ISBN: 9781335146656

Book Description: RITA® Award—winning author Elia Winters delivers a sexy, playful frenemies-to-lovers road-trip romance.

Megan Harris had hopes of seeing the world, but at twenty-five she’s never even left Florida. Now a wedding invitation lures her to Quebec…in February. When her ex-friend Scarlett offers to be her plus-one (yeah, that’s a whole story) and suggests they turn the journey into an epic road trip, Megan reluctantly agrees to the biggest adventure of her life.

A week together in a car is a surefire way to kill a crush, and Scarlett Andrews has had a big one on Megan for years. The important thing is fixing their friendship.

As the miles roll away, what starts as harmless road-trip games and rest-stop dares escalates into something like intimacy. And when a surprise snowstorm forces Megan and Scarlett to hunker down without the open road as distraction, they’ve got a bigger challenge than making it to the church on time: facing the true nature of their feelings for each other.

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Review

This is an adorable slow burn to explosive ex friends to lovers romance. Megan and Scarlett were easy to love characters and I enjoyed seeing them figure out their feelings toward each other. Both Scarlett and Megan have reached a crossroads in their lives and they are being confronted with the choice of reaching for more and better for themselves  versus just settling for what they usually do. I really appreciate that Winters chose to have her characters be on the latter side of their 20’s because it was refreshing to read about “older” characters trying to figure out what they want out of life. It is a nice reminder that you don’t need to know want you want out of life coming out of high school or college. Another aspect of this book that I really admired was how sex positive it is. We deserve more romance books that show women having more control and normalizing the “kinkier” side of things. Obviously, the road trip part of this book was so fun and I loved all the adventures they went on. Each stop led to them stripping away their walls and I was swooning watching them get closer and closer. And the ending did not disappoint and had me melting. Keep reading for an excerpt to see the chemistry Scarlett and Megan have.

Print

Author Bio

RITA™ Award-winning author Elia Winters is a fat, tattooed, polyamorous bisexual who loves petting cats and fighting the patriarchy. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and teaches at a small rural high school, where she also runs the drama club. In her spare time, she is equally likely to be found playing tabletop games, kneading bread, cross-stitching, or binge-watching Marie Kondo. A sex educator and kink-positive feminist, Elia reviews sex toys, speaks at kink conventions, and writes geeky, kinky, cozy erotic romance. She currently lives in western Massachusetts with her loving husband and their weird pets.

Connect with the Author

Website: https://eliawinters.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/eliawinters 

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

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7537319.Elia_Winters 

Excerpt

Megan hadn’t brought a lot of clothing on this trip, anticipating getting to do laundry at some hotel along the way, but she had a couple of nice outfits in addition to the dress she planned to wear for the wedding. She selected an emerald green sweater dress from her suitcase. She was normally more of a jeans kind of girl, but this dress made her feel cute, and it felt very Nashville when she paired it with some knee-high boots. She gathered up her clothes and undergarments and headed for the bathroom.

When she left the bathroom, Scarlett was pinning up her curls into two buns up near the top of her head. It was one of the cutest hairstyles she wore, and one that always made Megan wish for something other than her own super-straight brown hair. Scarlett looked away from her hair when Megan entered the room, her gaze skimming down Megan’s body in a way that made Megan burn up inside.

Before Scarlett could say something, whether it was going to be a compliment or not, Megan blurted out, “I don’t know what to do with my hair.”

Scarlett tapped her lips, studying her like she was an interesting painting. “You want me to curl it?” Scarlett asked.

“My hair doesn’t curl.” Megan had never had any luck with that. “It’s too fine.”

Scarlett tucked the final bobby pin into her own style and walked over to Megan, running her hand through Megan’s hair. The contact sent a chill all down Megan’s spine. Oh, she wanted Scarlett to keep touching her like that.

“It’s pretty fine.” Scarlett gathered up a bunch of Megan’s hair in her hands. Megan shivered. Hopefully Scarlett wouldn’t notice the shiver. “It would curl if you didn’t wash it so much. You need it to get dirty.”

Megan laughed, and it sounded breathless coming out. “I don’t really do dirty.”

Scarlett still had the hold on her hair, and she tipped Megan’s head back to look at her. “You sure about that?”

The unspoken after last night hung in the air between them. Megan sucked in a breath, her lips parting, and their gazes locked. Then it was like Scarlett had suddenly realized what she said, and she slid her hands out of Megan’s hair and backed away. “Your hair is cute just like it is. You don’t need to do anything to it.” She turned toward the mirror again and fumbled with her makeup bag. Was it Megan’s imagination, or were Scarlett’s hands shaking? “You, uh, ever think about cutting it?” Scarlett asked.

Megan was still rattled and warm all over. It took her a moment to process Scarlett’s words. “Oh. Yeah, actually. Sometimes I think about a pixie cut. Cutting all of it off. But I get nervous.”

“It’s a big step. But you’ve got the perfect heart-shaped face for it.” Scarlett glanced over, then back at the mirror. “If you ever want to do it, there’s probably a million great salons along our road trip. Could be a fun change. And it grows back.”

She was talking fast. Megan was having a hard time thinking. “Yeah. Maybe. I’ll…do my makeup.”

She had the new makeup from Sephora to try, and while it wasn’t her area of expertise, she put together what she hoped was a good look—not super fancy, but she didn’t end up looking like a clown, either. When she returned from the bathroom, Scarlett was done.

“What about lipstick?” Scarlett asked.

“I’m wearing some.” Megan resisted the urge to touch her lips in reflex.

Scarlett frowned. “Nude?”

“It’s light pink.”

“You need a bold lip. Something really red. It would bring the whole look together.”

“I don’t have anything really red.” Megan stuck with all light pinks whenever she got makeup, which wasn’t very often. Red was showy and ostentatious, and she wasn’t the type of person to try to get noticed.

Scarlett rummaged in her bag and pulled out a lipstick. “Here. Let me.” She touched Megan’s chin, gently tilting her head back, and then began to apply the lipstick with focused precision. Megan tried not to shiver as Scarlett held her face perfectly still, her attention locked onto Megan’s lips. When she finished, they held that pose, and desire flared up in Megan like a flashover. She wanted to lean forward and ruin that perfect lipstick against Scarlett’s berry-red mouth.

 

Copyright © 2020 by Elia Winters

Buy Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083FZTVVY

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hairpin-curves-elia-winters/1135927062

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/hairpin-curves/id1493529762

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Elia_Winters_Hairpin_Curves?id=_N7HDwAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/hairpin-curves

~Cassie

Double Sale Alert! Harlequin Christmas in July and Buy 3 Get 3

I woke up this morning to an email from my contact at Harlequin, Lisa, letting me know about two sales that they have going on. The Christmas sale starts today and the Buy 3 Get 3 starts tomorrow. I am equally excited for both sales and I can’t wait to not only have some fun Christmas romances for when the holidays roll around, but also to keep growing my Harlequin collection. Keep reading for more detailed info of each sale!

Christmas in July

Image_1.99 Harlequin sale promotion

WHEN: The sale is happening July 22-28

ELIGEABLE TITLES: 130 Christmas-themed ebooks

URL: Visit Harlequin’s North Pole Library to view the titles on-sale, https://books.harlequin.com/pages/North-Pole-Library?view=grid&cnt=24

PRICE: All 130 ebooks are each listed at the price point of $1.99

SAVINGS: 70-40% off!

PARTICIPATING E-RETAILERS:

Barnes & Noble NOOK: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/b/christmas-in-july-holiday-romance-sale/_/N-2gmg

Image_select cover images_$1.99 on select books June 24-June 30!(1)

*I may or may not have already purchased some books from this sale hehe

Buy 3 Get 3 Free

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WHEN: The sale is happening July 24-25.

ELIGEABLE TITLES: All titles on Harlequin.com are eligible for the sale.

URL: Visit Harlequin.com to discover the latest new releases and backlist favorites.

PRICE: When purchasing 6 titles, the 3 lowest-priced books will be discounted to free.

PARTICIPATING E-RETAILERS: This is an exclusive Harlequin.com sale.

DISCOUNT CODE: Use code #XMASJULY at checkout.

~Cassie

Blog Tour: The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull

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Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing for working with me on this post and providing me with a free ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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THE WOMAN BEFORE WALLIS

Author: Bryn Turnbull 

ISBN: 9780778361022

Publication Date: July 21, 2020

Publisher: MIRA Books

Book Summary:

An irresistible historical debut, THE WOMAN BEFORE WALLIS (MIRA Trade Paperback; July 21, 2020) is set in the glamorous world of British and American royalty in the 1920s, based on the true story of the woman who owned Prince Edward’s heart before introducing him to her dear friend Wallis. Perfect for fans of Netflix’s The Crown and Jennifer Robson’s The Gown.

Before Edward, Prince of Wales famously abdicated his throne for American divorcee Wallis Simpson, he loved another American woman: Thelma Morgan Furness, sister to the first Gloria Vanderbilt. This is her story.

The daughters of an American diplomat, Thelma and Gloria Morgan were stars of New York social scene in the early 1920s, dubbed “the magnificent Morgans.” Both would marry into wealth and privilege beyond their imaginations, Gloria to Reggie Vanderbilt, and Thelma to a viscount. Thelma begins an affair with Edward, the dashing Prince of Wales, that will last nearly five years.

Then, in 1934, Thelma’s life is upended by her sister Gloria’s custody trial — a headline-grabbing drama known as The Matter of Vanderbilt, which dominates global news for months and raises the bar for tabloid sensationalism. Back in New York, sued by members of her late husband’s family on charges of negligence, unfit parenting and homosexuality, Gloria needs her twin’s support more than ever. But as her sister gains international notoriety, Thelma fears that her own fall from grace might not be far behind.

Review

Turnbull did an amazing job transporting me to the 1920’s and I was captivated by the opulent world Thelma lives in. Even if this had been a purely fiction novel I would have been swept away by all the drama, romance and suspense. The fact that this entire story is based on historical events made this book that much more incredible. I have only read Tudor historical fiction before so I was not familiar at all with the scandal of Wallis Simpson. The whole concept of this book is fabulous including the genius of the title. This story is entirely told from the perspective of Thelma Furness and yet we know the whole way through that she will eventually be the mistress to the future King and then lose that relationship to her friend, Wallis Simpson. It was a bold choice to let the reader know all of that going into the book, although, maybe not so bold if you are already familiar with this part of history.

Thelma Furness is a fascinating person in history and I am in awe of everything that she went through and overcame. We also get to see quite a lot of her twin sister Gloria Vanderbilt’s life and she was equally as captivating. Turnbull does a great job of doing a deep dive into these characters and we see them dealing with all sorts of losses, triumphs, difficulties and “improper” relationships. There were so many times during the course of this story that my heart broke for both Thelma and Gloria. I was rooting for these characters so much, which is sort of ridiculous since their story has already happened, but I couldn’t help my strong emotional connection to them. I feel like any woman will recognize a part of themselves in either Thelma or Gloria.

Another incredible aspect of this novel is the way that it is formatted. We meet Thelma the night she meets her second husband and we follow that timeline all the way up through the majority of her relationship with Prince Edward. The other timeline that is interspersed throughout the story is one that follows Thelma as she is traveling to support her sister who is in the middle of one of America’s most infamous custody battles. The suspense of watching the custody battle unfold was clever since it kept the story barreling forward at a high speed. The only downside to this book is that I started to crave more of the custody battle storyline and wasn’t as enthralled with parts of Thelma and Edward’s relationship as I once was. Which might also be because we know that it doesn’t work out so I was trying not to get too invested in their love story.

This story is full of complex emotions and uncomfortable moments. I am so grateful to Turnbull for writing this story because I discovered two strong women that I admire so much. I’m pretty sure this is Turnbull’s debut novel which is incredible if true. She has become an auto buy author for me and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. Turnbull also has a fun section on her website where you can delve deeper into Thelma’s world that I highly recommend checking out once you finish this book. If you want to sample this exceptional historical fiction novel for yourself then keep scrolling for a sample of the first chapter.

Bryn Turnbull (c) Louise Claire Johnson

Author Bio: 

Bryn Turnbull is a writer of historical fiction with a penchant for fountain pens and antique furniture. Equipped with a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of St. Andrews, a Master of Professional Communication from Ryerson University, and a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from McGill University, Bryn focuses on finding the stories of women found within the cracks of the historical record. When she’s not writing, Bryn can be found exploring new coffee shops, spending time with her family in cottage country, or traveling. She lives in Toronto, and can generally be found with a book in hand.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @BrynTurnbull

Instagram: @brynturnbullwrites

Facebook: @brynturnbullwrites

Goodreads

Excerpt

ONE

October 9, 1934 

RMS Empress of Britain

 

THELMA CONSIDERED MANHATTAN HER  HOME,  though she hadn’t lived there for over ten years. To her, it was a city of firsts: she had smoked her first cigarette there, a Lucky Strike stolen from a nun’s desk drawer at the convent and passed around the dormitory after bedtime. She and her twin sister, Gloria, had rented their first apartment on Fifth Avenue: an attic brownstone, which, at sixteen years old, they were far too young to live in unchaperoned but did so anyways, stuffing the living room with flowers and leaving the icebox empty. Her first encounter with the society pages had been at New York Harbor: she was eight at the time, mobbed by reporters at the behest of their diplomat father in an attempt to turn the tone of a negative press scrum. The next day’s papers would run pictures not of Harry Morgan on his recall to Washington but of his twin daughters, Thelma and Gloria, walking down the gangplank in matching pinafores.

First marriage, thought Thelma, gripping the sable collar of her coat more tightly around her neck. First divorce. She stayed on deck long enough to watch the ship slip past the redbrick buildings of Southampton before seeking refuge from the chill air.

Though Thelma felt uneasy at the prospect of being away from David for nearly six weeks, she knew that she had little choice: Gloria’s trial had become a media sensation, chewing up columns on front pages across America and Europe. The custody battle, dubbed the “Trial of the Century” by reporters who squeezed onto the courthouse steps each day, was a nightmare for her sister, forced to defend not only her right to raise her own daughter but also to preserve her own good name. Thelma still rankled at the letter Gloria had sent her: For Reggie’s sister to believe what’s being said about me is bad enough, but to know that the rumors came from our own mother is too much to bear…

Thelma knew that the stories would continue long after the trial concluded—it was inevitable, given that it revolved around a Vanderbilt daughter with a Vanderbilt fortune. She had received the letter five days ago and booked passage on the earliest steamer bound for New York. If it had been either of her other siblings—Consuelo or Harry Junior—in this situation, Thelma would have offered what help she could, but as her twin, Gloria held Thelma’s allegiance the strongest. It was how it had always been: one supporting the other.

There was only one consideration weighing on Thelma’s mind which made it difficult for her to focus on what she would find in America.

“Shall I come, too?” David had asked days ago at Fort Belvedere. Dismal weather had driven Thelma, David and their guests indoors, an afternoon of weeding David’s gardens mercifully replaced by card games and needlepoint round the drawing room fire. David laid his embroidery hoop to one side, the half-finished rose pointing sightlessly at the ceiling.

Across the room, Wallis Simpson, perusing the contents of the bar cart, turned.

“Don’t be silly,” she said. From a club chair in the corner, Wallis’s husband, Ernest, folded down the corner of a newspaper. There was a momentary silence as Wallis’s long fingers trailed delicately along the crystal tops of several heavy decanters before she selected one.

“You can’t possibly think it’s a good idea for him to get caught up in this mess,” she said, glancing at Thelma as she poured a neat scotch. “You’ve seen the papers. Can you imagine the sort of froth they’d work themselves into if the Prince of Wales stuck his oar in? I don’t mean to offend you, Thelma,” she said, “but it’s just not seemly for him to get involved, don’t you agree?”

David’s brows knitted together as Wallis handed him the whiskey. “I feel so terrible about it all,” he said. “Gloria’s a decent sort. She doesn’t deserve all this…surely there’s something I can do?” He looked up at Thelma, his spaniel eyes imploring.

Wallis sat down. “You can let Thelma go to support her sister,” she said. “Gloria needs her family, sir, not the distraction of a royal sideshow.”

“Wally’s quite right, sir,” said Ernest, resting his newspaper on his lap. “You’d be hindering more than you’d help. Couldn’t fix me up one of those as well, could you, darling?”

David exhaled, but didn’t look convinced. “Perhaps,” he said, as Wallis returned to the cart. “I wouldn’t want to add any more controversy to this ghastly business, but I hate the thought of you going on your own.”

Thelma sat beside him, smiling at the thought of what David’s advisors would say if he so much as commented on the Vanderbilt trial, let alone sailed to America.

“They have a point,” she said, taking his hand in hers. “I don’t think there’s much for you to do. But thank you for wanting to help.”

He smiled, worry carved into the lines of his face. “Of course,” he said, and kissed Thelma on the cheek. He picked up his needlepoint, lifting the embroidery hoop to inspect the stitching more closely. “Just don’t stay away from me too long. I don’t think I could stand it.”

Perching herself on the armrest of Ernest’s chair, Wallis caught Thelma’s eye. She smiled, red lips curling in a wide, reassuring grin.

Excerpted from The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull, Copyright © 2020 by Bryn Turnbull. 

Published by MIRA Books

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~Cassie

WWW Wednesday 7/22/2020

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This weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words  and all you need to do to participate is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

My family and I went camping over the weekend and I needed an ebook so I started The Safe Place on my Kindle for the Jurassic Park square for the Pop Culture Readathon Thriller Board. The Jurassic Park square is to read a book that is set near an island/coast/body of water which you can tell from the cover that this book definitely fulfills this prompt. This is an interesting story and I have no idea where the it is going to take me which I think is a good sign when it comes to thrillers.

Last week I started listening to the Black Flamingo on audio since it is a book written in verse and it is narrated by the author. I am really loving this one and it is bringing up so many interesting thoughts and ideas when it comes to being mixed. My mom is half Native American and half Spanish but she was adopted by a white family so that is a part of me that I have never claimed and this book is making me rethink and question how I view my own identity.

Before we left for camping I started reading Thunderhead for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer square. This prompt is to read a book with a chosen one trope. I have been flying through this one and I am remembering how much I love this series.

I brought A Thousand Mornings to read while camping but I only got halfway through it, which is annoying since it is such a small collection of poetry. I am so happy I brought it though because I feel like being outdoors while reading this is the best way to fully immerse yourself into the poems. This is my first Mary Oliver and I know that she is a very popular nature writer. I live in an area that is bursting with nature all around me so I will definitely be reading more from her in the future. For now, I will be finishing this book in my backyard in the mornings when it is still somewhat cool outside.

What have you recently finished reading?

I will have reviews up for both of these books soon. I will say that I didn’t end up loving A Sweet Mess as much as I wanted to and Red At The Bone is one of my favorite books I have read this year.

What do you think you will read next?

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I need to finish all my current reads and then I will be reading the last part of this book. I have put it down since July started but I will be finishing it before the month ends.

~Cassie