On My Radar: December 2020

I can’t believe the last month of this insane year is upon us. Hopefully these upcoming book releases can bring us some joy and something to add to our Christmas lists. Although, most of these books don’t come out until December 29 so I guess I know what I will be using my gift card money on!

December 1

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying comes your next obsession. You’ll never feel the same about family again.

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised . . . and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point—not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious—and dark—their family’s past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over—and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

Welcome to the neighborhood. Watch your husband, watch your friends, and watch your back.

Cat Winthorpe has worked hard to get what she has: a gorgeous home; social standing; and William, her successful, handsome husband. Then a friendly new couple moves into the estate next door. While cautious, a good neighbor like Cat greets them with open arms and warm hospitality.

Neena Ryder isn’t a fellow lady of leisure. A life coach with off-the-rack dresses, personal issues, and a husband who hasn’t delivered, she’s anxious to move up in the world. This beautiful new town is a step in the right direction. It’s also making Neena aware of what she doesn’t have. Namely, William. When Neena’s infatuation escalates into obsession, it’s just a matter of eliminating a few obstacles to get the life she wants. The life next door.

As Neena’s secret fixation grows, so does her friendship with Cat. But beneath their cordial interactions is a wealth of temptations, secrets, and toxic jealousy. For both women, the desire for a perfect life can turn perfectly dangerous.

Sweden’s most notorious serial killer.
Jurek Walter was shot and killed years ago. The police moved on and managed to forget the darkness that had tainted their lives.

Has come back from the dead.
But now someone is leaving a trail of broken bodies across Sweden and the clues all point to Walter. Detective Joona Linna is convinced his worst nightmare is becoming a reality: the man who tore apart his family has returned to finish the job.

He doesn’t just kill you. He buries your loved ones alive.
When Joona’s partner is taken – and locked inside an underground coffin – he finds himself with an impossible choice: leave her to die or walk into the trap set by the only man he ever feared.

December 2

A missing teenager, a mysterious cult and a case of mistaken identity – just another day’s work for Epiphany Bloom.

Epiphany ‘Pip’ Bloom is down on her luck. She can barely afford cat food, and just because Most has three legs doesn’t mean he eats any less. So she absolutely can’t afford to mess up her latest temp job. But when she walks through the door of the private investigation firm, her new boss mistakes her for a missing persons expert. He then charges her with finding Matty Price – the teenage son of two A-list celebrities – who has mysteriously disappeared from his home in Kensington.

It ought to be a disaster, but Pip reckons it’s actually an opportunity. She’s always been curious (nosy, her mother calls it) and has an uncanny knack for being at the wrong place at the right time (she doesn’t want to know what her mother thinks of that). After years of trying to find something she’s good at, has Pip managed to walk straight into the job she was born to do?

She owes it to herself and poor missing Matty to find out.

But searching for Matty takes Pip into the strange, intimidating world of the rich and famous. And it soon becomes clear that some of these people’s love for themselves doesn’t extend to their fellow humans.

As Pip investigates further, she realises the question isn’t whether Matty ran away – it’s whether she will find him alive and make it home safely herself…

An absolutely brilliant, light-hearted cozy mystery for fans of M.C. Beaton, T E Kinsey, Lauren Elliott and Joanne Fluke, featuring an irresistible new heroine.

December 8

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover comes a novel that explores life after tragedy and the enduring spirit of love.

When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.

Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.

From author Kia Abdullah, Take It Back is a harrowing and twisting courtroom thriller that keeps you guessing until the last page is turned.

One victim.
Four accused.
Who is telling the truth?

Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest legal minds, shattered the expectations placed on her by her family and forged a brilliant legal career. But her decisions came at a high cost, and now, battling her own demons, she has exchanged her high profile career for a job at a sexual assault center, helping victims who need her the most. Victims like Jodie Wolfe.

When Jodie, a sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, accuses four boys in her class of an unthinkable crime, the community is torn apart. After all, these four teenage defendants are from hard-working immigrant families and they all have proven alibis. Even Jodie’s best friend doesn’t believe her.

But Zara does—and she is determined to fight for Jodie—to find the truth in the face of public outcry. And as issues of sex, race and social justice collide, the most explosive criminal trial of the year builds to a shocking conclusion.

Barista Lana Lewis’s sleuthing may land her in a latte trouble as Tara Lush launches her new Coffee Shop mysteries.

When Lana Lewis’ best — and most difficult — employee abruptly quits and goes to work for the competition just days before the Sunshine State Barista Championship, her café’s chances of winning the contest are creamed. In front of a gossipy crowd in the small Florida town of Devil’s Beach, Lana’s normally calm demeanor heats to a boil when she runs into the arrogant java slinger. Of course, Fabrizio “Fab” Bellucci has a slick explanation for jumping ship. But when he’s found dead the next morning under a palm tree in the alley behind Lana’s café, she becomes the prime suspect.
Even the island’s handsome police chief isn’t quite certain of her innocence. But Lana isn’t the only one in town who was angry with Fabrizio. Jilted lovers, a shrimp boat captain, and a surfer with ties to the mob are all suspects as trouble brews on the beach.
With her stoned, hippie dad, a Shih Tzu named Stanley, and a new, curious barista sporting a punk rock aesthetic at her side, Lana’s prepared to turn up the heat to catch the real killer. After all, she is a former award-winning reporter. As scandal hangs over her beachside café, can Lana clear her name and win the championship — or will she come to a bitter end?

“Til death do us part” could be closer than the bride realizes in Victoria Gilbert’s tantalizing fifth Blue Ridge Library mystery.

The pursuit to acquire a rare illustrated book turns deadly, and on the eve of her upcoming wedding, library director Amy Webber is drawn into a web of treachery and betrayal that could derail her happy day—and maybe just claim her life.

Planning a wedding can be murder—sometimes literally. At a party celebrating their upcoming nuptials, Taylorsford, Virginia library director Amy Webber and her fiancé Richard Muir discover the body of art dealer Oscar Selvaggio—a bitter rival of their host, Kurt Kendrick.

Both had been in a heated battle to purchase a rare illustrated volume created by William Morris’s Kelmscott Press, so suspicion immediately falls upon Kurt. Amy knows that Kurt has a closet-full of skeletons from his past—but she can’t believe he’s guilty of murder.

Amidst an avalanche of wedding preparations, Amy begins an investigation with the help of her aunt Lydia Talbot and the new mayor of Taylorsford, Sunshine “Sunny” Fields. Much to Lydia’s dismay, her boyfriend, art expert Hugh Chen, becomes convinced of Kurt’s guilt and launches an investigation of his own. As the case hits painfully close to home, the stakes become impossibly high—and the danger all too real.

December 15

A woman disappears into the dark city night…

Gen is on the verge of a divorce from her cheating husband. When her sister, Meg, has a convention to attend in the Big Apple, she invites Gen along to celebrate her newly found freedom. But the perfect sisters’ getaway quickly goes awry when a tipsy Gen defiantly throws her wedding ring off the hotel room’s balcony. Then, wanting some fresh air, she decides to take a late-evening walk alone and vanishes without a trace.

The investigation that follows uncovers secrets—and betrayals—between sisters and spouses that will twist the truth in on itself until nothing is clear.

What really happened to Gen and who, besides Meg, was the last to see her? 

December 29

Debut author Darby Kane thrills with this twisty domestic suspense novel that asks one central question: shouldn’t a dead husband stay dead?

Lila Ridgefield lives in an idyllic college town, but not everything is what it seems. Lila isn’t what she seems. A student vanished months ago. Now, Lila’s husband, Aaron, is also missing. At first these cases are treated as horrible coincidences until it’s discovered the student is really the third of three unexplained disappearances over the last few years. The police are desperate to find the connection, if there even is one. Little do they know they might be stumbling over only part of the truth….

With the small town in an uproar, everyone is worried about the whereabouts of their beloved high school teacher. Everyone except Lila, his wife. She’s definitely confused about her missing husband but only because she was the last person to see his body, and now it’s gone.

From the author of the instant New York Times bestseller The Wives comes another twisted psychological thriller guaranteed to turn your world upside down.

Have you ever been wrong about someone?

Juno was wrong about Winnie Crouch.

Before moving in with the Crouch family, Juno thought Winnie and her husband, Nigel, had the perfect marriage, the perfect son—the perfect life. Only now that she’s living in their beautiful house, she sees the cracks in the crumbling facade are too deep to ignore.

Still, she isn’t one to judge. After her grim diagnosis, the retired therapist simply wants a place to live out the rest of her days in peace. But that peace is shattered the day Juno overhears a chilling conversation between Winnie and Nigel…

She shouldn’t get involved.

She really shouldn’t.

But this could be her chance to make a few things right.

Because if you thought Juno didn’t have a secret of her own, then you were wrong about her, too.

From the wickedly dark mind of bestselling author Tarryn Fisher, The Wrong Family is a taut new thriller that’s riddled with twists in all the right places.

He’s more than just her competition…

She’ll do anything to protect her bakery…

no matter the cost to her heart.

Amish baker Mary Brenneman is furious when handsome Englischer Noah Miller opens up a bakery right across from hers. Now she must win a local baking contest just to stay in business—and beat know-it-all Noah. But somewhere along the way, Noah and Mary’s kitchen wars are quickly warming into something more… 

The letter was short. A name, a time, a place.

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder plunges readers into the heart of London, to the secret tunnels that exist far beneath the city streets. There, a mysterious group of detectives recruited for Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries use their cunning and gadgets to solve crimes that have stumped Scotland Yard.

Late one night in April 1958, a filing assistant for Miss Brickett’s named Michelle White receives a letter warning her that a heinous act is about to occur. She goes to investigate but finds the room empty. At the stroke of midnight, she is murdered by a killer she can’t see—her death the only sign she wasn’t alone. It becomes chillingly clear that the person responsible must also work for Miss Brickett’s, making everyone a suspect.

Almost unwillingly, Marion Lane, a first-year Inquirer-in-training, finds herself being drawn ever deeper into the investigation. When her friend and mentor is framed for the crime, to clear his name she must sort through the hidden alliances at Miss Brickett’s and secrets dating back to WWII. Masterful, clever and deliciously suspenseful, Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder is a fresh take on the Agatha Christie—style locked-room mystery with an exciting new heroine detective at the helm.

From New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd comes an all-new thriller featuring a bold and brash female protagonist, a brutal and twisty murder that will have readers turning the pages and a villain that will have them keeping the lights on at night. WRONG ALIBI is perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Karin Slaughter, and Sandra Brown.

WRONG JOB
Eighteen-year-old Evelyn Jones lands a job in small-town Alaska, working for a man in his isolated mountain home. But her bright hopes for the future are shattered when Donald White disappears, leaving her to face charges of theft, embezzlement—and a brutal double murder. Her protestations of innocence count for nothing. Convicted, she faces life in prison…until fate sends her on the run.

WRONG NAME
Evie’s escape leaves her scarred and in hiding, isolated from her family, working under an alias at a wilderness camp. Bent on justice, intent on recovering her life, she searches for the killer who slaughters without remorse.

WRONG ALIBI
At last, the day comes. Donald White has returned. Evie emerges from hiding; the fugitive becomes the hunter. But in her mind, she hears the whisper of other forces at work. Now Evelyn must untangle the threads of evidence before she’s once again found with blood on her hands: the blood of her own family…

What happens when your love life becomes the talk of the town?

As birthdays go, this year’s for radio producer Everly Dean hit rock-bottom.

Worse than the “tonsillectomy birthday.” Worse than the birthday her parents decided to split (the first time). But catching your boyfriend cheating on you with his assistant?

Even clichés sting.

But this is Everly’s year! She won’t let her anxiety hold her back. She’ll pitch her podcast idea to her boss.

There’s just one problem.

Her boss, Chris, is very cute. (Of course). Also, he’s extremely distant (which means he hates her, right? Or is that the anxiety talking)?

And, Stacey the DJ didn’t mute the mic during Everly’s rant about Simon the Snake (syn: Cheating Ex).

That’s three problems.

Suddenly, people are lining up to date her, Bachelorette-style, fans are voting (Reminder: never leave house again), and her interest in Chris might be a two-way street. It’s a lot for a woman who could gold medal in people-avoidance. She’s going to have to fake it ‘till she makes it to get through all of this.

Perhaps she’ll make a list: The Ten Rules for Faking It. 

Because sometimes making the rules can find you happiness when you least expect it.

A princess in disguise is forced to live with a rogue in order to protect her from danger in this fun, sexy regency romance.

Bow Street agent Sebastien Wolff, Earl of Mowbray, doesn’t believe in love―until a passionate kiss with a beautiful stranger in a brothel forces him to reconsider. When the mysterious woman is linked to an intrigue involving a missing Russian princess, however, Seb realizes her air of innocence was too good to be true.

Princess Anastasia Denisova has been hiding in London as plain ‘Anna Brown’. With a dangerous traitor hot on her trail, her best option is to accept Wolff’s offer of protection―and accommodation―at his gambling hell. But living in such close quarters, and aiding Wolff in his Bow Street cases, fans the flames of their mutual attraction. If Anya’s true identity is revealed, does their romance stand a chance? Could a princess ever marry a rogue?

~Cassie

Blog Tour: A Solider Under Her Tree By Kathy Douglass

Thank you to Harlequin for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All graphics and info were also kindly provided by them.

Book Description: 

Tis the season…for a second shot at love. Could a fake boyfriend be her real hero this Christmas?

When her ex-fiancé shows up at her shop—engaged to her sister!—dress designer Hannah Carpenter doesn’t know what to do. Especially when her former fling Russell Danielson sees her plight and rides to the rescue, offering a fake relationship to foil her rude relations. The thing is, there’s nothing fake about his kiss… But when things get real, will the sexy soldier once again stop short of commitment?

From Harlequin Special Edition: Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.

Price: $5.99

ON-sale date: December 1, 2020

ISBN: 9781335894991

Review

This is the perfect heartwarming read to get you in the Christmas spirit. Hannah is a strong heroine and I loved seeing her walls crumble after the unbelievable betrayal in her past. I also really enjoyed the fact that she owned a boutique where she sells beautiful clothes and I was living vicariously through her. Our hero, Russell, is dealing with his own insecurities about his future but he still made Hannah his priority. I also appreciated how Douglass made the lines of consent very clear and how Russell always respected Hannah… even if it led to some miscommunication between them. Russell also makes it his mission to help woo Hannah from the Scrooge she currently is back to the Christmas loving girl she used to be. I enjoyed all the festive activities they did together and all the time they spent unknowingly falling in love. This is a very tame romance but the chemistry between our characters was still obvious. Honestly, this book gave me all the warm fuzzies and I highly recommend. I can easily picture someone spending their evening next to their Christmas tree all cozy with a cup of hot chocolate reading this book. I can even see myself rereading this book every Christmas because I love how festive this book made me feel. This is Douglass’s first Christmas book and I really hope it’s not her last!

Author Bio: Kathy Douglass came by her love of reading naturally – both of her parents were readers. She would finish one book and pick up another. Then she attended law school and traded romances for legal opinions. After the birth of her two children, her love of reading turned into a love of writing. Kathy now spends her days writing the small town contemporary novels she enjoys reading. Kathy loves to hear from her readers and can be found on Facebook.

Excerpt

A SOLDIER UNDER HER TREE by Kathy Douglass

“Why do you have to be like that? I tried to resist. We both did, for your sake. That’s why we didn’t get married right away. We were considering your feelings. But Gerald and I are in love and want to be together.”

Hannah managed not to throw up the yogurt she’d grabbed for breakfast. Respect for her feelings wasn’t the reason Dinah and Gerald hadn’t gotten married three years ago. They hadn’t tied the knot because Dinah hadn’t been divorced yet. Her ex-husband hadn’t been in the mood to give her half of what he’d earned, so the proceedings had dragged on and on. Of course, had Dinah been as much in love with Gerald as she’d claimed, she would have just walked away from her then eight-month marriage and a huge settlement. But Dinah had absorbed their mother’s teaching quite well. Never leave a dollar behind.

“I’m not stopping you. Get married. Have the biggest wedding the state of Virginia has seen. Heck, all of America has seen. But leave me out of it.”

Gerald stepped forward then. Hannah had hoped to never see the weasel ever again. Yet here he was, standing right in front of her. He was average height with hair that was beginning to thin and cold, calculating eyes. Hannah wondered what she’d ever seen in him. When they’d worked together at his father’s architectural firm, she’d been impressed by what she’d interpreted as his drive and desire to make a name for himself. Now she realized that had just been a mirage.

“Hannah, we weren’t right for each other.” Was he trying to sound sympathetic? If so, he was failing miserably. But then, true feelings weren’t included in his limited repertoire. “I know you feel the same way.”

“You got that right.”

“I know you’re hurt and disappointed,” he said as if he hadn’t heard a word she’d said. Apparently he’d prepared this speech and intended to recite every word of it. “But don’t hold it against Dinah.”

“You’re unbelievable. Please, all of you, just leave.”

“Not until you agree to make my dress,” Dinah said. Clearly trying to make nice was putting a strain on her and she was reverting to type.

Hannah had a business to run. A customer could come in at any moment. She needed to put an end to this now.

“You know, I can always call the chief of police. He’s a friend, too.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Eleanor said indignantly, pressing a manicured hand against her chest.

“Actually I would,” Hannah said, hoping her mother wouldn’t call her bluff. Hannah didn’t want anyone in town, especially her friends, to know about her messed up family. She’d never told a soul about them or how Gerald had betrayed her. And she never would. But Eleanor didn’t know that.

“There’s no need for that,” Eleanor said hastily, trying to get back on script. “Hannah, just consider what’s best for the family. And for you.”

“How would it look if you, a successful dress designer to the stars, refuse to design a wedding dress for your only sister? It could harm your reputation if anyone ever found out how petty you’re being,” Dinah added.

“Was that a threat? That’s an interesting strategy for someone asking a favor.”

“I’m just pointing out the obvious. You like to pretend that you’re the victim. Poor betrayed Hannah. The truth is Gerald dumped you because he didn’t want you. He wanted me.” Dinah preened as if she were some sort of prize. “You’ve always been jealous of my beauty. I would have thought you’d gotten over it by now. Maybe if you could find a man, you wouldn’t be so bitter. But then, maybe you haven’t met anyone desperate enough.”

Hannah gasped. That was low even for Dinah.

The sound of a throat being loudly cleared filled the uneasy silence. Hannah closed her eyes. 

Just what she’d hoped to avoid—a witness to her family’s dysfunction and her personal humiliation.

She opened her eyes and turned to face her customer.

Russell Danielson. Her good friend’s brother. She’d met Russell this past summer when he’d been in Sweet Briar visiting his siblings and their families. They’d hit it off and spent a glorious evening together. He’d promised to contact her when he got back to his duty station. He hadn’t.

She’d been hurt when he’d ghosted her—disappointed even—but not surprised. She was still down on men. Besides, though they’d had a couple of good conversations, those talks hadn’t involved anything truly personal. Still, she’d thought they’d connected. Clearly she’d been wrong.

Russell looked around the room, taking in the scene, and then smiled. Did he find the way she was standing against the wall while they circled her like sharks amusing? “Sorry I’m late.”

“Uh.” Late for what? Until he’d stepped into her store, she hadn’t known he was in town.

He crossed the room, not stopping until he was standing an inch in front on her. Instinctively she inhaled and got a whiff of his delectable scent. He was wearing a woodsy cologne, which when mingled with his natural scent made her weak in the knees. Before she could utter a word, he put his arms around her waist and pulled her into a kiss. 

His lips were warm, and the pressure was perfect. He lingered for a few seconds before pulling away. Though he’d ended the kiss, he kept his arm firmly around her waist, which was good since her knees had turned to Jell-O.

Buy Links:

~Cassie

Blog Tour: Just Like This By Cole McCade

Thank you to Carina Press for working with me on this post and providing all graphics and info.

Title: Just Like This

Author: Cole McCade

Series: Albin Academy, #2

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Imprint: Carina Press (Carina Adores)

On Sale: November 24, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback 

Price: $14.99 U.S.

ISBN: 9781335200907

Book Description: Rian Falwell has a problem.

And his name is Damon Louis.

Rian’s life as the art teacher to a gaggle of displaced boys at Albin Academy should be smooth sailing—until the stubborn, grouchy football coach comes into his world like a lightning strike and ignites a heated conflict that would leave them sworn enemies if not for a common goal.

A student in peril. A troubling secret. And two men who are polar opposites but must work together to protect their charges.

They shouldn’t want each other. They shouldn’t even like each other.

Yet as they fight to save a young man from the edge, they discover more than they thought possible about each other—and about themselves.

In the space between hatred, they find love.

And the lives they have always wanted…

Just like this.

“The romantic longing, themes of bravery and confidence, and moments of cozy domesticity shine.” —Publishers Weekly on Just Like That

Buy Just Like This by Cole McCade

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335200907

Harlequin.com: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781335200907_just-like-this.html 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Just-Like-This-Albin-Academy/dp/1335200908

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/just-like-this-cole-mccade/1136892693

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/ca/book/just-like-this/id1506928629

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Cole_McCade_Just_Like_This?id=_vTbDwAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/just-like-this-3 

About Cole McCade

Cole McCade is a New Orleans-born Southern boy without the Southern accent, currently residing somewhere in Seattle. He spends his days as a suit-and-tie corporate consultant and business writer, and his nights writing contemporary romance and erotica that flirts with the edge of taboo—when he’s not being tackled by two hyperactive cats. 

He also writes genre-bending science fiction and fantasy tinged with a touch of horror and flavored by the influences of his multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual background as Xen. He wavers between calling himself bisexual, calling himself queer, and trying to figure out where “demi” fits into the whole mess—but no matter what word he uses he’s a staunch advocate of LGBTQIA and POC representation and visibility in genre fiction. And while he spends more time than is healthy hiding in his writing cave instead of hanging around social media, you can generally find him in these usual haunts: 

Excerpt

Rian Falwell had a problem.

And that problem was currently staring at him through a messy tangle of black hair, from beneath a brow dotted with gleaming beads of sweat that—beneath the glassy afternoon light streaming through the windows—turned to glistening motes of amber against dusky brown skin.

Honestly, if Damon Louis was going to come barging into Rian’s studio like this…

He could at least have the decency to wear a shirt.

The P.E. teacher took up far too much space inside the tiny cubicle of a studio, his shoulders so broad they had almost touched both sides of the door frame as he’d stalked inside. He looked as if he’d just stepped out of the gym, with his wide, sculpted, scar-rippled chest glazed in a sheen of sweat and a pair of loose black track pants hanging off his 

hips, the elastic waistband barely clinging to the narrow line cut below his iliac crest. His shoulder-length tumbles of dark hair clumped together, completely drenched, droplets dangling from the tips.

But as overheated as Damon looked?

His dark brown eyes were completely cold—glossed to reflective ice as he folded thick, brawny arms over his chest and took a slow look around the cluttered space of Rian’s studio.

Rian could track the line of his gaze—starting with the gloppy pile of clay on his pottery wheel; a pile that would eventually become a vase, but right now was just misshapen lumps of gray.

Then to the thin sheets of handmade papyrus parchment drying on a clothesline strung across the room, pulped and pressed from the fallen early autumn leaves of the trees around Albin Academy, an experiment Rian had been quite pleased with when it resulted in fine paper with a green-gold translucent fragility, flecked with bits of brown from the leaves’ veins and stems.

Next, the many half-finished canvases propped about on their easels, slashed with angry, bold strokes of paint in abstract designs.

The anatomical diagrams pinned to the walls.

And the extra large sketchbook left open on his worktable, displaying loose, light sketches of male bodies in motion, focused on capturing the flow of sinew in the turn of the waist, the tightening of an arm as it drew back, the extension of the body and curve of the spine during a long, lazy reach.

Damon’s eyes lingered longest on that one, his dark, expressive brows rising fractionally, almost mockingly—and Rian’s face burned.

All of these were his personal projects, all unfinished, but still things he put everything he had into. 

So why was this stone-faced, unsmiling jerk standing here looking over them like he was about to assign Rian a failing score?

What was he even doing here at all?

Those dark brown eyes snapped back to him as if Damon had somehow heard the question snarling in the back of Rian’s mind.

“So,” Damon drawled, and Rian realized this was the first time he’d actually heard Damon speak in his three years at Albin Academy, rather than noncommittal affirmative mutters during staff meetings. His voice was deep, raw, gritty, with a subtle pull to it that didn’t quite seem to echo typical New England accents around Massachusetts. “I thought this was some kinda broom closet. Chambers and Walden know you’re using it for…” He tilted his head. A damp ripple of hair fell across the refined sharpness of his cheekbone, the tip practically licking at the corner of his wide, full, stern-set mouth. “…this?

Rian tensed.

More at the implied scorn dripping from this than at the fact he’d been…uh…

Caught using school grounds for unauthorized purposes.

He doubted Principal Chambers and Assistant Principal Walden would particularly care. Especially when Rian had been using the storeroom as a studio since he’d been hired, and no one had really noticed—though considering Lachlan Walden had only been hired last semester, the assistant principal had more things to worry about than one rogue art teacher moving a few brooms.

So Rian drew himself up, lifting his chin as he reached for the wet rag hanging from the edge of his wheel and began wiping the thick patina of clay from his hands, peeling off the cold, clinging layer. 

My broom closet,” he said firmly. “Attached to my classroom. I’m allowed to use it as I deem necessary as long as it’s for educational purposes.”

This…counted…technically.

He was the art teacher.

Copyright © 2020 by Cole McCade

Carina Adores is home to highly romantic contemporary love stories featuring beloved romance tropes, where LGBTQ+ characters find their happily-ever-afters.

A new Carina Adores title is available each month in trade paperback, ebook and audiobook formats.

  • Just Like That by Cole McCade (available now!)
  • Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters (available now!)
  • Better Than People by Roan Parrish (available now!)
  • The Secret Ingredient by KD Fisher (available now!)
  • Teddy Spenser Isn’t Looking for Love by Kim Fielding (coming December 29, 2020)
  • The Beautiful Things Shoppe by Philip William Stover (coming January 26, 2021)
  • Our Level Best by Roan Parrish (coming February 23, 2021)
  • Learn to Knit in Nine Months or Less by Hettie Bell (coming March 30, 2021)

~Cassie

November Weekly Kindle Haul #3

I’m back this week with more Christmas romances and some bestsellers that have been on my TBR for awhile. There is also some other goodies that I found and the synopsis sounded interesting. As always, I will be sharing the current price of each book and if you click on the cover it will take you directly to Amazon where you can purchase it using my affiliate link. If you purchase using this link I may make a small commission 🙂

FREE

Life at its simplest is still complicated. 

Reid Bowen is her brother’s best friend and the biggest womanizer on campus. She has no business wanting him. 

Sienna Parker is forbidden and the sweetest fruit he can never taste. But if he can’t have her, no one can. 

Forced together by a road trip home, it will not only test their patience, but also their resolve to stay away from each other. 

Bound by their past, it’s the complicated that changes their lives.

Complicate Me is book one in the HH duet series. A two-part, angst-filled, slow-burn epic love story. Reid and Sienna’s story culminates in book two Complete Me.

Ten years ago, I was the geek with too many ideas and one girl I wanted forever. A billion dollars later, and one night with a soft body is as close to forever as I get. It’s all I want. Or it was. I never thought I’d see her again…

I never thought I’d see her again
Let alone find her in the same spot I left her ten years ago, teaching at the high school where we fell in love.

I should have kept walking
But I wanted that laugh. That smile.
I wanted five minutes before I got back to the life with no room for my past.

One kiss was all I meant to take
But then her fingers were in my hair, her breath hot against my lips.
My hands… everywhere.

Now I want more
I want her, but she only wants the guy I used to be.
And just like the first time… I can’t stay, and she won’t leave.

Jingle your bells this holiday season with a special festive romance bundle from USA Today bestselling author, Lila Monroe!

In SNOWED IN WITH THE BILLIONAIRE, an event planner finds that a sexy rockstar client plus an unexpected blizzard equals a very private party… for two!

In CHRISTMAS WITH THE BILLIONAIRE, wannabe-actress Jill winds up playing girlfriend when she’s stranded with arrogantly hot producer Oliver. But will their romance last when the snow starts melting?

Nobody does Christmas like Miranda Hamilton, and now that she finally has her chance to chair Magnolia Bay’s tree lighting and the cotillion, which benefits her late mother’s breast cancer foundation, this Christmas is shaping up to be the best ever. That is until her childhood nemesis Logan Mauldin buys his way on her committee and starts making plans of his own. 

Logan Mauldin loves to get under Miranda’s very sexy skin, and it’s only fair. She’s been getting under his since long before their first kiss at 13. Logan’s the last man interested in co-chairing a Christmas committee or participating in a sexy bachelor auction, but since that night he interrupted Miranda on a date and cornered her under the mistletoe, he can’t stop thinking about her. Or vying for her attention and bugging the hell out of her. 

Christmas cheer isn’t the only thing that heats up between the Miranda and Logan, but, thanks to a lie that is as much her fault as it is his, he loses the woman he’s loved since forever. Logan will need a Christmas miracle for Miranda to forgive him. A grand gesture to melt her heart and win her back just in time for Christmas. 

Erin Price moves to Eagle Falls a place where everyone knows everyone as well as everyone else’s business, taking over the store left to her by her aunt to start up a gluten-free bakery. The grand opening is marred by just one thing, the death of her business rival, Angela Plaint. It appears that Angela was poisoned by one of Erin’s cupcakes, making her a prime suspect. 

Equipped with cupcakes, her desire for the truth, and new bakery assistant Vicky’s help, Erin goes head-to-head against Detective Terry Piper to solve the murder. Rumors of treasure hunting, drug dealing, and a missing boy swirl around Eagle Falls as Erin tries to sort the clues from the red herrings and find the killer before the killer can take care of her. 

A contemporary love triangle romance in the Wild Men series. 

Leleila 

Brayden Wild was my first kiss. The Montana football star with the cowboy boots and sexy tattoo. He salvaged my heart from a bad choice I wish I never made, on a night I wish I could forget. 

But that was twelve years ago. And since then, I’ve been wise enough to play it safe. Certain. Risk-free. 

Until I go to the store and spill granola all over…Brayden Wild. He’s still rocking a wild mess of blond hair. He’s still sexy as hell. 

My smooth reaction? I trip and fall on him. And then I run off like a frightened deer. 

Because I still WANT him. 

But I’m getting married in a month. 

Brayden 

Leleila Wills. The bookish, teenage girl with the sad, beautiful eyes and killer body who electrified me at first sight—is now a grown woman living here in Mountainview. I finally know her name. I finally have a second chance to ask her out. But I can’t. 

Because I DON’T go after women who are taken. Ever. 

I try to focus on coaching my football team and on taking care of things at the ranch. So why can’t I get her the hell out of my head? 

I tell myself it’s because she needs a friend. I mean, what kind of tool stands up his wife-to-be before their wedding dance class? But the truth is… 

I like Leleila’s awkward, quirky personality. And I can’t deny how my body’s on fire whenever she’s nearby. 

I’ve got one month to get to know her the way I wanted to twelve years ago, even if it’s only as her friend. That will have to be enough. 

So what the hell will I do if it’s not?

Indulge in two delicious holiday novellas from Lauren Blakely!
Special Delivery…

All I want for Christmas is the secret potion that’ll help me resist my brother’s new business partner. You know, the super hot, super sweet, super smart guy I now have to plan the holiday party with.
I mean, really. Who thought THAT was a good idea?
Oh, me. Yep, brilliant, strategic me who raised her hand and said yes I’d love to hang mistletoe with that sexy former sports star. I’d love to taste test spiked hot chocolate with that charming, flirty man. I’d love to get snowed in with the one guy I shouldn’t fall for.
As long as I can make it through the holidays I’ll be on my merry way, fa la la la la. But the holidays have a surprise for me.

Nobody Does It Better…

Some women are just forbidden.
Like—off the top of my head—MY SISTER’S LIFE-LONG BEST FRIEND.
Sis has made it patently clear that Vanessa is hands-off, as in keep my ladies’ man paws far away from her clever, go-getter best friend who’s ready for the real deal. That should be an easy guideline to follow, except Vanessa is deliciously flirty, easy to talk to, and laughs at my jokes. Translation – my libido has been craving her many, many years. So many that we might have stolen a kiss or two.
Can you say pent-up, crazy, raw desire?
That’s exactly what we’re both feeling when the storm of the century hits and it’s 10 inches of snow with Vanessa and me trapped in a cabin all night long…
The trouble is—Vanessa isn’t interested in my playboy ways, and I have one night to convince her that I’m the real deal.


$0.99

Residential-home caterer Connie has had one online-dating disaster too many. Hurt in the past and with her son to consider, now she’s feeling hesitant. Then one of Connie’s residents sets her up on a date at a beautiful German Christmas market – with the promise she’ll take a mini-bus full of pensioners along with her…

Amongst the twinkling lights and smell of warm gingerbread in the old market square, Connie heads off on her date with a checklist of potential partner must-haves. Baker Henrich ticks all the boxes, but when Connie meets Henrich’s rival William, she starts to wonder if ticking boxes is the answer.

Will Connie’s wish for love this Christmas come true, and if so – with who?

Penelope Carter has won the “wild child” award for years. Determined to bring joy instead of irritation over the holidays, she’s arrived at River Rock to stay at her cousins brewery during the holidays, ready to earn her way off the naughty list. But when a few too many Christmas cocktails and a devilishly sexy cop from her past derail her plans, the nice list looks unreachable. 

The last time Darryl Wilson saw Penelope, he was seventeen years old and had given her a hot first kiss. Ten years later, Penelope is a sweet distraction after his divorce, but she’s also the sexiest trouble he’s ever known. And when she becomes his trouble during the Christmas festivities that are meant to lead to his long-awaited promotion, he realizes that Christmas is about to get complicated.  

But holiday wishes are sweeping through the snowy small town in Colorado, and if Darryl and Penelope survive the season, they’ll see a little bit naughty is more than a little bit nice. And this Christmas might be the best one of all.

Joanne Haynes has a secret: that is not her real name. 

And there’s more. Her flat’s not hers. Her cats aren’t hers. Even her hair isn’t really hers.
 
Nor is she any of the other women she pretends to be. Not the bestselling romance novelist who gets her morning snack from the doughnut van on the seafront. Nor the pregnant woman in the dental surgery. Nor the chemo patient in the supermarket for whom the cashier feels ever so sorry. They’re all just alibis.
 
In fact, the only thing that’s real about Joanne is that nobody can know who she really is.
 
But someone has got too close. It looks like her alibis have begun to run out….

A new stand alone enemies-to-lovers romance by USA Today bestselling author K.A. Linde…

I spent six weeks screwing Austin Wright’s brains out and all I got was this broken heart.

He can’t be trusted. Not with my body or my heart. Yet, two years have passed and I still crave him like an addict needing a fix.

The last time we tried this, it nearly ruined me. I know I should run and never look back. But his dark haunted eyes and razor blade smile speak to my soul. His touch sets my body on fire. And we all know what happens when you light gasoline. Someone is bound to get burned.

A second chance might destroy us both.

Because everyone knows two wrongs don’t make a Wright.

My baby girl, I’ll never forget you – your smile, your laugh, the way your hair sparkles in the sun. I cannot comprehend this pain. I cannot breathe through it.

In the middle of the night, Claire wakes up to discover that her beloved daughter, Julia, is dead – and life, as she knows it, is over.

Searching for answers, Claire stumbles upon a pile of letters, hidden under Julia’s bed in an old, battered shoebox, and feels closer to her daughter than ever before. They tell her that Julia was happy, that she was thriving at university, that she was in love. 

But as the letters go on, Claire starts to feel uneasy at something hidden between the lines. Even as she grieves, she must prepare to face a shocking discovery. Because Julia was hiding a terrible secret – and when it’s uncovered, it will devastate a family already torn apart by tragedy.

An emotional, twisty and gripping page turner that will stay with you long after you finish the last page. Perfect for fans of Kerry Fisher, Lisa Wingate and Jodi Picoult

$1.99

Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they should say, and she copies her coworkers’ style of dress and speech patterns so that she can play the part of a normal person. However, eighteen years later, at age 36, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has only few friends. She feels comfortable in her life, but is aware that she is not living up to society’s expectations and causing her family to worry about her. When a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work in the store, he will upset Keiko’s contented stasis—but will it be for the better?

Sayaka Murata brilliantly captures the atmosphere of the familiar convenience store that is so much part of life in Japan. With some laugh-out-loud moments prompted by the disconnect between Keiko’s thoughts and those of the people around her, she provides a sharp look at Japanese society and the pressure to conform, as well as penetrating insights into the female mind. Convenience Store Woman is a fresh, charming portrait of an unforgettable heroine that recalls Banana Yoshimoto, Han Kang, and Amélie.

An extraordinary debut novel, Freshwater explores the surreal experience of having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born “with one foot on the other side.” Unsettling, heartwrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater is a sharp evocation of a rare way of experiencing the world, one that illuminates how we all construct our identities.

Ada begins her life in the south of Nigeria as a troubled baby and a source of deep concern to her family. Her parents, Saul and Saachi, successfully prayed her into existence, but as she grows into a volatile and splintered child, it becomes clear that something went terribly awry. When Ada comes of age and moves to America for college, the group of selves within her grows in power and agency. A traumatic assault leads to a crystallization of her alternate selves: Asụghara and Saint Vincent. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these selves–now protective, now hedonistic–move into control, Ada’s life spirals in a dark and dangerous direction.

Narrated by the various selves within Ada and based in the author’s realities, Freshwater dazzles with ferocious energy and serpentine grace, heralding the arrival of a fierce new literary voice.

$2.99

At thirty, Claudia’s life is stale and the romance with long-term boyfriend, Seth, has disappeared. Determined to inject some festive spark back into their love life, Claudia and Seth go on their first date in a very long time. But when the night ends in disaster, Claudia suddenly finds herself facing life – and Christmas – alone.

Life alone is exciting, scary and full of soon-forgotten exercise regimes and ill-advised attempts at crafting sexy underwear. It’s also filling up with dates, surprisingly. With best friends Penny and Nick at her side, a surplus of festive markets, mulled wine and Christmas tunes, Claudia attempts to face all this change with gusto. One thing’s for certain: this year, Christmas is going to be very different . . .

This is the story of Claudia and her twelve dates of Christmas. Hilarious, uplifting and romantic, it’s a story about losing love, finding love, and discovering what’s been there all along. Expect Christmas sparkle, butterflies-in-your-stomach romance and a lot of very funny moments in The Twelve Dates of Christmas.

Two brothers meet at the remote fence line separating their cattle ranches in the lonely outback. In an isolated belt of Queensland, they are each other’s nearest neighbor, their homes four hours’ drive apart.

The third brother lies dead at their feet.

Something caused Cam, the middle child who had been in charge of the family homestead, to die alone in the middle of nowhere. 

So the eldest brother returns with his younger sibling to the family property and those left behind. But the fragile balance of the ranch is threatened. Amidst the grief, suspicion starts to take hold, and the eldest brother begins to wonder if more than one among them is at risk of crumbling as the weight of isolation bears down on them all.

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along a muddy track.
Only four come out on the other side. 
The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and encourage teamwork and resilience. At least, that’s what the corporate retreat website advertises.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker, Alice Russell. Because Alice knew secrets, about the company she worked for and the people she worked with.
The four returning women tell Falk a tale of fear, violence and fractured trust during their days in the remote Australian bushland. And as Falk delves into the disappearance of Alice, he begins to suspect some dangers ran far deeper than anyone knew.

A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality―the black Chinese restaurant.

Born in the “agrarian ghetto” of Dickens―on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles―the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: “I’d die in the same bedroom I’d grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that’ve been there since ’68 quake.” Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father’s pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family’s financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that’s left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral.

Fueled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town’s most famous resident―the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins―he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.

In a ruined, nameless city of the future, a woman named Rachel, who makes her living as a scavenger, finds a creature she names “Borne” entangled in the fur of Mord, a gigantic, despotic bear. Mord once prowled the corridors of the biotech organization known as the Company, which lies at the outskirts of the city, until he was experimented on, grew large, learned to fly and broke free. Driven insane by his torture at the Company, Mord terrorizes the city even as he provides sustenance for scavengers like Rachel.

At first, Borne looks like nothing at all—just a green lump that might be a Company discard. The Company, although severely damaged, is rumoured to still make creatures and send them to distant places that have not yet suffered Collapse.

Borne somehow reminds Rachel of the island nation of her birth, now long lost to rising seas. She feels an attachment she resents; attachments are traps, and in this world any weakness can kill you. Yet when she takes Borne to her subterranean sanctuary, the Balcony Cliffs, Rachel convinces her lover, Wick, not to render Borne down to raw genetic material for the drugs he sells—she cannot break that bond.

Wick is a special kind of supplier, because the drug dealers in the city don’t sell the usual things. They sell tiny creatures that can be swallowed or stuck in the ear, and that release powerful memories of other people’s happier times or pull out forgotten memories from the user’s own mind—or just produce beautiful visions that provide escape from the barren, craterous landscapes of the city.

Against his better judgment, out of affection for Rachel or perhaps some other impulse, Wick respects her decision. Rachel, meanwhile, despite her loyalty to Wick, knows he has kept secrets from her. Searching his apartment, she finds a burnt, unreadable journal titled “Mord,” a cryptic reference to the Magician (a rival drug dealer) and evidence that Wick has planned the layout of the Balcony Cliffs to match the blueprint of the Company building. What is he hiding? Why won’t he tell her about what happened when he worked for the Company?

The proceeds of this book go to charity!

Are you ready to fall in love under the mistletoe?

Join fourteen bestselling authors as they take you back to some of their favorite worlds, with this collection of all-new young and new adult short stories.

‘Tis the season for friendship, family, first love, and FEELS.

In The Aeneid, Vergil’s hero fights to claim the king’s daughter, Lavinia, with whom he is destined to found an empire. Lavinia herself never speaks a word. Now, Ursula K. Le Guin gives Lavinia a voice in a novel that takes us to the half-wild world of ancient Italy, when Rome was a muddy village near seven hills.

Lavinia grows up knowing nothing but peace and freedom, until suitors come. Her mother wants her to marry handsome, ambitious Turnus. But omens and prophecies spoken by the sacred springs say she must marry a foreigner—that she will be the cause of a bitter war—and that her husband will not live long. When a fleet of Trojan ships sails up the Tiber, Lavinia decides to take her destiny into her own hands. And so she tells us what Vergil did not: the story of her life, and of the love of her life.

Lavinia is a book of passion and war, generous and austerely beautiful, from a writer working at the height of her powers.

$3.99

Welcome back to Willoughby Close, with four new residents and happy endings to deliver…

Olivia James has always been happy running a tea shop and bakery in the Cotswold village of Wychwood-on-Lea, and helping her friends find their happily-ever-afters, topped by the perfect wedding cake. But as Christmas approaches, Olivia is home alone and questioning her choices while eating too many of her own specialty confections.

When Simon Blacklock, a handsome, whimsical stranger, breezes into her shop and buys a cupcake and then returns the next day and the day after, Olivia begins to dream. Can romance blossom amidst the sugar and flour? And after a lifetime of living on the side lines, is she brave enough to star in her own story?

Simon may be hiding a painful secret, but Olivia harbors secrets of her own. If they can dare to risk their hearts, this Christmas might be the most magical yet!

Tia never harmed anyone. So why does someone want to destroy her?

Tia is walking home with her children, along the lakeside of their quiet, safe town, when she realises something is wrong with her five-year-old daughter, Rosie. She seems troubled, not at all her usual happy self.

But when Tia finally coaxes Rosie to open up, she wishes she hadn’t. Because her sweet daughter asks a question Tia never thought she’d hear.

‘Mummy, why did you kill someone?’

Tia knows how rumours spread around her small town. She just can’t understand who would have shared such a horrible story. Or why.

It can’t have anything to do with what happened. Only her two best friends really remember that…

Tia thought she could trust Fiona and Kelly with her life. They’ve been through so much together. But when she’s sent photos of herself that could tear her whole world apart, she starts to wonder. Someone is determined to punish her. But who? And will her friends stand by her, or will the past destroy all of their lives?

From the million-copy-bestselling author of The Secret Mother and The Perfect Family, this absolutely addictive psychological thriller is guaranteed to make you gasp. If you loved Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and Big Little Lies this book is for you.

$4.99

This is also on Kindle Unlimited.

Emily thought she was leaving her money troubles behind when she inherited an old house from her great aunt who went missing the previous year. 
When she and her husband Jesse arrive at the house, they discover Aunt Matilda was murdered–and the culprit is still at large. Guided by the ghosts of Matilda and the orphans she raised, Emily and Jesse must catch the criminal and save themselves before it’s too late.

$6.99

A delightful holiday romance about a small-town single dad and an animal rescue owner as they try to find forever homes for a dozen lovable pups before Christmas.

Pine Hollow has everything Ally Gilmore could wish for in a holiday break: gently falling snow in a charming small town and time with her family. Then she learns some Grinch has pulled the funding for her family’s rescue shelter, and now she has only four weeks to find new homes for a dozen dogs! But when she confronts her Scroogey councilman nemesis, Ally finds he’s far more reasonable — and handsome — than she ever expected.

As the guardian of his dog-obsessed ten-year-old niece, Ben West doesn’t have time to build a cuddly reputation. But he does feel guilty about the shelter closing. So he proposes a truce with Ally, agreeing to help her adopt out the pups. As the two spend more time together, the town’s gossip is spreading faster than Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. And soon Ben is hoping he can convince Ally that Pine Hollow is her home for the holidays. . . and the whole year through. 

$7.99

Mystery crime fiction written in the Golden Age of Murder

Horniman, Birley and Craine is a highly respected legal firm with clients drawn from the highest in the land. When a deed box in the office is opened to reveal a corpse, the threat of scandal promises to wreak havoc on the firm’s reputation—especially as the murder looks like an inside job. The partners and staff of the firm keep a watchful and suspicious eye on their colleagues, as Inspector Hazlerigg sets out to solve the mystery of who Mr. Smallbone was—and why he had to die.

Written with style, pace, and wit, this is a masterpiece by one of the finest writers of traditional British crime novels since the Second World War.

~Cassie

Just Be Her Kaydence Snow

Thank you Wildfire Marketing for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Publication Date: November 20, 2019

Pages: 370

Genre: Romance; smut

Rating: 5/5

This fun parent trap type romance is easily one of my favorite books of the entire year. Our two heroines, Toni and Alex, are equally amazing even though they are complete opposites of each other. Toni is a free spirited orphan who goes through life making no connections with people and just surviving. Alex is buckling under the pressure of having to marry a man she has never met in order to save her families business. The two women have a chance meeting and Alex sees this as her chance to get a reprieve from her life for a little bit. They both end up finding exactly what they need and open their hearts up in ways they weren’t expecting. This may seem like a familiar story but Snow expertly weaves a drama filled and exciting plot.

Since there are two heroines to this story we get two different sets of romance. Snow does a great job of making each one swoon worthy and hot. They are both different types of romance so each story feels distinct and while I was throughly enjoying the one I was reading I also couldn’t wait to get back to the other one. I also loved that even though this was a doppelgänger switch book that it didn’t require any suspension of belief. The story felt incredibly realistic which also helped make the romances that much better.

Snow was also clever at the way she formatted this story. Once the two girls storylines diverged from each other we still got to see a connection between them in the form of text conversations. This helped us see their relationship grow over time and also to keep the storyline on the same page. Often times we would see glimpses of events from both girls perspectives. I think this added so much fun to the story and also helped to distinguish Toni and Alex from each other. Snow stays very true to their characters even while they are going through so much growth and I appreciated seeing how they would each react to an event.

Just Be Her was also a wonderfully heartwarming story of love and friendship that I think so many people will enjoy. This book doesn’t skimp on the smutty but it also doesn’t skimp on the relationship building. Which I think makes it a perfect read for a multitude of romance readers. It is sexy and spicy which I really enjoyed so do take that into account with your comfort level of romance. Kaydence Snow is hands down my favorite author that I have discovered this year and I would love to keep diving into her backlist.

~Cassie

His Beauty By Jack Harbon

Thank you to the author, Jack Harbon, for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. This book is also a part of Kindle Unlimited.

Publication Date: November, 17 2020

Pages: 143

Genre: Romance; smutty; retelling

Rating: 3/5

This was a fun and unique take on the classic Beauty and the Beast tale. Our beast in this story, Lowen, is an actual beast which takes this romance to a completely different place then I am used to. But it really worked for me. It somehow makes the gentle moments that much sweeter because he isn’t just a grumpy/angry man. The other familiar aspects of the story were there including the cozy comfort of Mrs. Potts and Chip. They weren’t the main focus but they helped bring this fantastical world to life. As with most novellas, there isn’t a lot of world building so these emblems of classic characters were much needed. I also wasn’t prepared for how dark this story was going to go. Isla is a strong queen and I loved seeing her fighting for herself and those she loves. There are a two very graphic battle/fight scenes that were immensely realistic but also fun in a twisted way. The romance between Isla and Lowen was also perfectly paced out to where I was actively rooting for them to finally get together. I did struggle a little with the writing being overly descriptive at times but overall this was a fun and unique read that I really enjoyed. If you love smutty romances and a good retelling then I highly recommend!

~Cassie

New Release: Mistletoe Kisses by S.B. Alexander

If you know me you know that I have a deep love of holiday books and I was so excited when Ardent Rose PR emailed me letting me know about this new release. This anthology also has me excited to tell everyone about it because the proceeds of this book go to a non profit for foster kids. I give to charity a lot throughout the year but the holidays are a time where I get my boys involved and we not only donate money to kids in foster care but also things they need and fun stuff they may want. So if you love romance and the holidays as much as me, I would really love it if you thought about purchasing this book. It is only $2.99 and it would help to make this time of year more special for the kids who need it the most.

𝐅𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐛𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐣𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐜𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐌𝐈𝐒𝐓𝐋𝐄𝐓𝐎𝐄 𝐊𝐈𝐒𝐒𝐄𝐒, 𝐚 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐝𝐮𝐥𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐧𝐞𝐰 𝐚𝐝𝐮𝐥𝐭 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐥𝐨𝐠𝐲.

One-click on sale for $2.99!

➜ books2read.com/mistletoekissescollection

Amazon: https://bit.ly/MistletoeAz

Nook: https://bit.ly/MistletoeBN

Kobo: https://bit.ly/MistletoeKB

Apple: https://bit.ly/MistletoeItunes

Add to TBR: https://bit.ly/MistleToeKisses

Vote most anticipated November romance: https://bit.ly/33PU8lF

Blurb:

Are you ready to fall in love under the mistletoe?

Join fourteen bestselling authors as they take you back to some of their favourite worlds, with this collection of all-new young and new adult short stories.

‘Tis the season for friendship, family, first love, and FEELS.

One-click this charity anthology and help raise funds for One October, a non-profit helping the lives of children in foster care.

Participating Authors:

Ali Dean

Alley Ciz

Amie Knight

Anna B. Doe

Cambria Hebert

Ginger Scott

L A Cotton

Len Webster

Mackenzie Lane

Micalea Smeltzer

Monica Murphy

Piper Lawson

S.B. Alexander

Tracy Lorraine

To celebrate the release of Mistletoe Kisses authors are bringing you this amazing giveaway! Enter to win a $140 Amazon Gift Card and 14 signed paperbacks – open internationally!

Rafflecopter

About the author 

Bestselling author S.B. Alexander writes young adult and new adult romances that span the sub-categories of coming of age, sports, paranormal, suspense, and military fiction. Her writing is emotional, angsty, and character driven. She’s best known for The Maxwell and The Maxwell Family Saga series.

S.B. or Susan as she likes to be called is a navy veteran, former high school teacher, and former corporate sales executive. She’s a lover of sports, especially baseball, although nowadays you can find her glued to the TV during football season.

When she’s not writing, she’s a full-time caregiver to her soul mate of twenty-one years who got a bad deal in life when he was diagnosed with ALS. Her motto: “Life is too short to waste. So live every moment like it’s your last.”

You can connect with S.B. Alexander in the following ways:

Reader Group: http://sbalexander.com/sbareaderroom

Author Website: http://sbalexander.com

Newsletter: http://sbalexander.com/newsletter

Email: susan@sbalexander.com

Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/sbalexander.authorpage

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

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sbalex_author

NEVER MISS A NEW RELEASE:

Follow S.B. Alexander on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/S.B.-Alexander/e/B00AW0KZPI 

Follow S.B. Alexander on BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/s-b-alexander

~Cassie

WWW Wednesday 11/18/20

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

What are you currently reading?

I have really embraced Nonfiction November and I’m currently in the middle of these two fantastic books. If You Tell is a gruesome story of three women who together survived the absolute horror that was their mother. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee is a wonderfully written history of Native Americans. I am very early into it but I’m learning so much and once again I can’t get over the narrative that is taught in schools. My third grader came home today talking about the ships Columbus sailed on and it is a real tragedy that this is what is taught in schools when its not even true!

What have you recently finished reading?

Maple Sugar Crush & Harrow Lake I will have reviews up for as soon as possible. I’ve been reading so much this month that I am now backlogged on posting reviews. I really enjoyed both and I would recommend them if they look interesting to you.

My review for His Beauty will go up on Friday. Just Be Her will go up on Saturday. Thank you to the authors for providing me with ARCs to review. Just Be Her is one of my favorite books of the whole year!

The Wife He Needs by Brenda Jackson

What do you think you’ll read next?

Continuing on with the nonfiction theme I will be picking this short epistolary book up next. I have heard nothing but amazing things about it and I feel like its going to be one of the most powerful books that I read this year.

~Cassie

Blog Tour: The Wife He Needs By Brenda Jackson

Thank you to Harlequin for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. They also kindly provided all graphics and info.

Book Description: 

Will this billionaire bachelor say “I do” to love? He desires her more than any other woman. 

The arrangement is simple: a two-week getaway, then a marriage of convenience. Until Garth Outlaw’s potential bride is a no-show. Now family pilot Regan Fairchild is sharing his bed—and he can’t get enough…even though he’s vowed never to love again. Can Regan convince him the wife he needs and the woman he desires are one and the same?

Price: $5.25

ON-sale date: December 15, 2020

ISBN: 9781335209498

Review

Regan and Garth had a sweet romance with hot chemistry set in the beautiful backdrop of Santa Cruz, Spain. The set up for this story is fun since it leaves our two main characters stranded in a beautiful place where they get the chance to admit their feelings for each other and act on them. I loved the opulence of their lives and the gorgeous descriptions of their food and clothing. I appreciated how slowly they transitioned from friends to lovers and were mostly completely honest with each other about what they wanted. I did find the physical stuff to be too descriptive for me and it really took me out of the story. I am a lover of steamy romance but instead of being caught up with the characters, I was more caught up with all the different ways Jackson used to describe kissing, Regan’s body etc. Which does show she has quite a range but it could have used some editing down. Overall, this was the perfect afternoon read and I enjoyed seeing cameos from the Westmorelands.

Author Bio

Brenda Jackson is a New York Times bestselling author of more than one hundred romance titles. Brenda lives in Jacksonville, Florida, and divides her time between family, writing and traveling. Email Brenda at authorbrendajackson@gmail.com or visit her on her website at brendajackson.net.

Excerpt

“So, when is the wedding, Garth?”

Garth Outlaw raised his eyes from studying his cards. Was his brother playing mind games to mess with his concentration?

“And just what wedding are you talking about?”

Garth glanced around the table and saw the smirks on the faces of all four of his brothers. Even Jess had made a trip home from the nation’s capital for a week long visit.

“Is anyone going to answer?” Garth asked.

Jess grinned as he threw out a card. “I heard it from Dad the moment I walked through the door. He claims you’ve gotten over Karen Piccard, decided to settle down and do whatever needs to be done for the benefit of the company, which includes getting a wife and making babies to guarantee the Outlaw dynasty. Those were his words, not mine.”

“We heard the same thing,” Cash said, with Sloan and Maverick nodding in agreement.

Garth didn’t say anything. Being the oldest son of Bartram “Bart” Outlaw wasn’t easy, especially when his father liked spreading information that wasn’t true. However, in this case, it was. At least partly. He was planning to do what needed to be done for the company. But he seriously doubted he would ever get over Karen. She would always have his heart.

“No wedding date has been set because I haven’t chosen a bride.”

His brother Cash sat up straight in his chair. “Are you really thinking about settling down with a wife and making babies?” he asked, as if the thought of doing such a thing was as unheard of as living in outer space.

Garth threw out some chips. “Why not? I don’t see any of you guys rushing to the altar to continue the Outlaw legacy. Not even you, Jess, and you’re the politician in the family. You of all people should be thinking about acquiring a wife.” A couple of years ago, Jess had gotten elected as a senator from Alaska.

A grin touched Jess’s lips. “No, thank you. I’m not ready to fall in love.”

Garth shrugged. “Who said anything about falling in love?”

“You’re thinking of marrying a woman you don’t love?” This question came from Sloan. 

“For me there’s no other way.”

There was no reason to explain what he meant. They knew.

“And you’ll do it because Bart says it needs to be done?”

Garth rolled his eyes at his youngest brother, Maverick, who’d been quiet up to now. “No, I’ll consider doing it because I think it’s about time I settled down. I’m thirty-eight, and dating gets old.”

“Speak for yourself,” Maverick said, grinning. “I happen to enjoy dating a lot of women.”

Garth shook his head. “And Walker got me thinking. Look how long he was a loner before he got married. If he can do it, then anyone can.”

Walker Rafferty was Garth’s best friend. A couple of years ago, Walker had met his current wife and now they were parents to twins, a boy and a girl they’d named Walker and Westlyn. Nobody thought Walker would ever remarry after losing his first wife and son in a car accident. Surprisingly, ten years later, Walker had fallen in love again. Garth was happy for Walker, and inspired to settle down, but honestly, he couldn’t see himself falling in love. He was convinced Karen was the only woman he was meant to love.

Buy Links:

~Cassie

Cover Reveal: Michigan for the Winter By Rebecca Sharp

Thank you to Wildfire Marketing for working with me on this post and providing all graphics and info.

𝐶ℎ𝑒𝑐𝑘 𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝐷𝑟. 𝑅𝑒𝑏𝑒𝑐𝑐𝑎 𝑆ℎ𝑎𝑟𝑝’𝑠 𝑔𝑜𝑟𝑔𝑒𝑜𝑢𝑠 𝑐𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟! 𝑀𝑖𝑐ℎ𝑖𝑔𝑎𝑛 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑊𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑖𝑠 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝐹𝑒𝑏𝑟𝑢𝑎𝑟𝑦 18𝑡ℎ. 𝑌𝑜𝑢 𝑑𝑜𝑛’𝑡 𝑤𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑚𝑖𝑠𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 ℎ𝑖𝑙𝑎𝑟𝑖𝑜𝑢𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑠𝑒𝑥𝑦 𝑟𝑜𝑚𝑎𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑐 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑑𝑦!

#𝑃𝑟𝑒-𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑒𝑟 𝑡𝑜𝑑𝑎𝑦!

BOOK BLURB

From bestselling author, Dr. Rebecca Sharp, comes a sexy, neighbors-to-lovers romantic comedy…

Ryan Finan needed a change of scene.

No more warmth. No more wooing. No more women.

Needing to get over what the last woman did to him, he’s fled to Michigan for the winter.

A secluded cabin, a wood stove, a bottle of scotch, and guaranteed solitude are all he needs… until Winna Madden recklessly collides into his path—and other parts of him. With her fresh beauty, captivating awkwardness, and far too much talk of freshly jerked meat, Ryan struggles to give his temporary neighbor a necessary cold shoulder.

Having lived in this neck of the woods all her life, Winna knows the gorgeous recluse isn’t prepared for a Michigan winter—nor for the kinds of harsh truths it brings. She’s determined to be a good neighbor—no matter how much he grouses.

As temperatures plunge, their walls tumble down faster than the snow. Soon, the only thing left is a wild desire burning between them.

But Ryan’s stay always had an expiration date. When it arrives, will he walk away? Or will the warmth he found with Winna tempt him to stay?

#Preorder Now!

🏹Amazon: mybook.to/MichiganForTheWinter

❄️Apple Books / Nook / Kobo: https://books2read.com/Michigan-for-the-Winter

🐶ADD to GR: http://bit.ly/MighiganForTheWinterGR

GIVEAWAY

To celebrate Michigan for the Winter’s cover reveal, Rebecca Sharp is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card. Stop by her Facebook page to enter!

http://www.facebook.com/drrebeccasharp

Dr. Rebecca Sharp, while using a pen name, is actually a doctor living in Pennsylvania with her husband – the love of her life.

She enjoys working in her practice with her father as well as letting her creativity run free as an author. Growing up she’s always loved a good love story and finally decided to give writing one of her own a go.

After graduating with her doctoral degree, she now enjoys spending that thing called free time traveling with her husband, cooking, and knitting.

AUTHOR LINKS

Facebook | Reader Group | Instagram | Twitter | Mailing List | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

~Cassie