Blog Tour: Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison

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I’m so excited to be sharing my review of Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison with you today. This post is in partnership with Harlequin Trade Publishing for their Mystery/Thriller Winter blog tour. I also reviewed The Last Affair by Margot Hunt for the blog tour and both books are amazing!

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Good Girls Lie

Author: J.T. Ellison

ISBN: 9780778330776

Publication Date: 12/30/19

Publisher: MIRA Books

Book Summary:

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

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

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

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

Review

This book is a dark exhilarating thriller of a ride. This book was almost impossible for me to put down because there was always something that was happening that I couldn’t take myself away from the story. The high speed pacing of this book along with the breadcrumbs of truths that we get kept me enthralled all the way through. The gothic setting of the story along with the social structure of the school added so much depth to the story that I was captivated from the beginning.

The structure of the book was also unique in that each chapter has a headliner that signified what was going to happen. I love that the author, Ellison, chose to do this because it amped up the suspense so much. This is probably the biggest reason that I read this book in practically one sitting.

The characters in this book are all so dark and complex that I never knew who was doing what or who was in on what or who was hurting or helping someone. I love books like this where you are never sure exactly what is happening. Even when you do think you know something it turns out that you didn’t know everything and I really appreciate when an author is able to do that.

The ending of this book was just as spectacular and didn’t let me down. I will admit that I was a little worried that things were getting tied up a little too neat but there was still some stuff thrown in there that kept me just as hooked as I had been all the way through. Good Girls Lie is hands down the best thriller I have read this year and I cannot recommend this book enough to you. If you want to either end or start your reading year off right then I highly suggest this book. It is a masterpiece of a thriller and is definitely one of my top books of the year.

Please scroll down and read the first couple of chapters of this amazing book. It is obviously just setting up the story but it really gives you a feel for how twisted of a book this is. Also, if you live on the east coast J.T. Ellison is doing a book tour for you lucky people and I so wish that I could go and meet her. All the info for that can be found at the very bottom of this post. I am so excited for you all to read this book and hopefully love it just as much as me!

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Author Bio:

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 20 novels, and the EMMY-award winning co-host of A WORD ON WORDS, Nashville’s premier literary show. With millions of books in print, her work has won critical acclaim, prestigious awards, and has been published in 26 countries. Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @thrillerchick

Facebook: @JTEllison14

Instagram: @thrillerchick

Goodreads

BookBub

Excerpt

1

THE HANGING

The girl’s body dangles from the tall iron gates guarding the school’s entrance. A closer examination shows the ends of a red silk tie peeking out like a cardinal on a winter branch, forcing her neck into a brutal angle. She wears her graduation robe and multicolored stole as if knowing she’ll never see the achievement. It rained overnight and the thin robe clings to her body, dew sparkling on the edges. The last tendrils of dawn’s fog laze about her legs, which are five feet from the ground. 

There is no breeze, no birds singing or squirrels industriously gathering for the long winter ahead, no cars passing along the street, only the cool, misty morning air and the gentle metallic creaking of the gates under the weight of the dead girl. She is suspended in midair, her back to the street, her face hidden behind a curtain of dirty, wet hair, dark from the rains. 

Because of the damage to her face, it will take them some time to officially identify her. In the beginning, it isn’t even clear she attends the school, despite wearing The Goode School robes. 

But she does. 

The fingerprints will prove it. Of course, there are a few people who know exactly who is hanging from the school’s gates. Know who, and know why. But they will never tell. As word spreads of the apparent suicide, The Goode School’s all-female student body begin to gather, paying silent, terrified homage to their fallen compatriot. The gates are closed and locked—as they always are overnight—buttressed on either side by an ivy-covered, ten-foot-high, redbrick wall, but it tapers off into a knee-wall near the back entrance to the school parking lot, and so is escapable by foot. The girls of Goode silently filter out from the dorms, around the end of Old West Hall and Old East Hall to Front Street—the main street of Marchburg, the small Virginia town housing the elite prep school—and take up their positions in front of the gate in a wedge of crying, scared, worried young women who glance over shoulders looking for the one who is missing from their ranks. To reassure themselves this isn’t their friend, their sister, their roommate. 

Another girl joins them, but no one notices she comes from the opposite direction, from town. She was not behind the redbrick wall. 

Whispers rise from the small crowd, nothing loud enough to be overheard but forming a single question. 

Who is it? Who? 

A solitary siren pierces the morning air, the sound bleeding upward from the bottom of the hill, a rising crescendo. Someone has called the sheriff. 

Goode perches like a gargoyle above the city’s small downtown, huddles behind its ivy-covered brick wall. The campus is flanked by two blocks of restaurants, bars, and necessary shops. The school’s buildings are tied together with trolleys—enclosed glass-and-wood bridges that make it easy for the girls to move from building to building in climate-controlled comfort. It is quiet, dignified, isolated. As are the girls who attend the school; serious, studious. Good. Goode girls are always good. They go on to great things. 

The headmistress, or dean, as she prefers to call herself, Ford Julianne Westhaven, great-granddaughter several times removed from the founder of The Goode School, arrives in a flurry, her driver, Rumi, braking the family Bentley with a screech one hundred feet away from the gates. The crowd in the street blocks the car and, for a moment, the sight of the dangling girl. No one stops to think about why the dean might be off campus this early in the morning. Not yet, anyway. 

Dean Westhaven rushes out of the back of the dove-gray car and runs to the crowd, her face white, lips pressed firmly together, eyes roving. It is a look all the girls at Goode recognize and shrink from. 

The dean’s irritability is legendary, outweighed only by her kindness. It is said she alone approves every application to the school, that she chooses the Goode girls by hand for their intelligence, their character. Her say is final. Absolute. But for all her goodness, her compassion, her kindness, Dean Westhaven has a temper. 

She begins to gather the girls into groups, small knots of natural blondes and brunettes and redheads, no fantastical dye allowed. Some shiver in oversize school sweatshirts and running shorts, some are still in their pajamas. The dean is looking for the chick missing from her flock. She casts occasional glances over her shoulder at the grim scene behind her. She, too, is unsure of the identity of the body, or so it seems. Perhaps she simply doesn’t want to acknowledge the truth. 

The siren grows to an earsplitting shriek and dies midrange, a soprano newly castrated. The deputies from the sheriff’s office have arrived, the sheriff hot on their heels. Within moments, they cordon off the gates, move the students back, away, away. One approaches the body, cataloging; another begins taking discreet photographs, a macabre paparazzi. 

They speak to Dean Westhaven, who quietly, breathlessly, admits she hasn’t approached the body and has no idea who it might be. 

She is lying, though. She knows. Of course, she knows. It was inevitable. 

The sheriff, six sturdy feet of muscle and sinew, approaches the gate and takes a few shots with his iPhone. He reaches for the foot of the dead girl and slowly, slowly turns her around. 

The eerie morning silence is broken by the words, soft and gasping, murmurs moving sinuously through the crowd of girls, their feet shuffling in the morning chill, the fog’s tendrils disappearing from around the posts. 

They say her name, an unbroken chain of accusation and misery. 

Ash. 

Ash.

Ash.

 

2

THE LIES

There are truths, and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened, which is where you and I will meet. My truth is your lie, and my lie is your truth, and there is a vast expanse between them. 

Take, for example, Ash Carlisle. 

Six feet tall, glowing skin, a sheaf of blond hair in a ponytail. She wears black jeans with rips in the knees and a loose greenand-white plaid button-down with white Adidas Stan Smiths; casual, efficient travel clothes. A waiter delivers a fresh cup of tea to her nest in the British Airways first-class lounge, and when she smiles her thanks, he nearly drops his tray—so pure and happy is that smile. The smile of an innocent. 

Or not so innocent? You’ll have to decide that for yourself. Soon. 

She’s perfected that smile, by the way. Practiced it. Stood in the dingy bathroom of the flat on Broad Street and watched herself in the mirror, lips pulling back from her teeth over and over and over again until it becomes natural, until her eyes sparkle and deep dimples appear in her cheeks. It is a full-toothed smile, her teeth straight and blindingly white, and when combined with the china-blue eyes and naturally streaked blond hair, it is devastating. 

Isn’t this what a sociopath does? Work on their camouflage? What better disguise is there than an open, thankful, gracious smile? It’s an exceptionally dangerous tool, in the right hands. 

And how does a young sociopath end up flying first class, you might ask? You’ll be assuming her family comes from money, naturally, but let me assure you, this isn’t the case. Not at all. Not really. Not anymore. 

No, the dean of the school sent the ticket.

Why? 

Because Ash Carlisle leads a charmed life, and somehow managed to hoodwink the dean into not only paying her way but paying for her studies this first term, as well. A full scholarship, based on her exemplary intellect, prodigy piano playing, and sudden, extraordinary need. Such a shame she lost her parents so unexpectedly. 

Yes, Ash is smart. Smart and beautiful and talented, and capable of murder. Don’t think for a moment she’s not. Don’t let her fool you. 

Sipping the tea, she types and thinks, stops to chew on a nail, then reads it again. The essay she is obsessing over gained her access to the prestigious, elite school she is shipping off to. The challenges ahead—transferring to a new school, especially one as impossible to get into as The Goode School—frighten her, excite her, make her more determined than ever to get away from Oxford, from her past. 

A new life. A new beginning. A new chapter for Ash. 

But can you ever escape your past? 

Ash sets down the tea, and I can tell she is worrying again about fitting in. Marchburg, Virginia—population five hundred on a normal summer day, which expands to seven hundred once the students arrive for term—is a long way from Oxford, England. She worries about fitting in with the daughters of the DC elite—daughters of senators and congressmen and ambassadors and reporters and the just plain filthy rich. She can rely on her looks—she knows how pretty she is, isn’t vain about it, exactly, but knows she’s more than acceptable on the looks scale—and on her intelligence, her exceptional smarts. Some would say cunning, but I think this is a disservice to her. She’s both booksmart and street-smart, the rarest of combinations. Despite her concerns, if she sticks to the story, she will fit in with no issues. 

The only strike against her, of course, is me, but no one knows about me. 

No one can ever know about me.

Buy Links: 

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NEW_1026 J.T. Ellison Appearances 2020 Ad - 800 x 800

~Cassie

#ClassicsCommunity 2020

Lucy from the booktube channel Lucy The Reader has set a reading challenge for 2020 to read classics. It is set up to be a personal challenge where you can try to read more classics, so if you have never read any, then your aim for the year could just be to read one! You can also try to read one a month, which is what I plan on doing, or you can read certain sub genres. Really whatever you want to do is perfectly acceptable for this challenge. Click this link to be taken to the official Goodreads group page if you are interested in knowing more about this challenge. There is also a list on the group page of more classics based booktubers if you want to check any of them out.

I already listed a couple of classics that I want to read in one of my previous posts 20 Five Star Predictions for 2020 but I thought I would list here a few more that are on my mind to read or reread in 2020.

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Little Women is recognized as one of the best-loved classic children’s stories, transcending the boundaries of time and age, making it as popular with adults as it is with young readers. The beloved story of the March girls is a classic American feminist novel, reflecting the tension between cultural obligation and artistic and personal freedom. But which of the four March sisters to love best? For every reader must have their favorite. Independent, tomboyish Jo; delicate, loving Beth; pretty, kind Meg; or precocious and artistic Amy, the baby of the family? The charming story of these four “little women” and their wise and patient mother Marmee enduring hardships and enjoying adventures in Civil War New England was an instant success when first published in 1868 and has been adored for generations.

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The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

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The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

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The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world. Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream–a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength. Tackling universal themes such as the friendship of a shared vision, and giving voice to America’s lonely and dispossessed, Of Mice and Men has proved one of Steinbeck’s most popular works, achieving success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

~Cassie

Also, don’t forget to check out my giveaway that I am currently running!

Happy Holidays Giveaway

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In the spirit of the holidays I wanted to do a giveaway to show my gratitude for this amazing community! There will be one winner who I will buy any book up to $25 in value from Book Depository (please make sure before entering that Book Depository ships to your country). The only thing you need to do to enter is follow my blog either by email or through WordPress and leave a comment below. You can leave as many comments as you want and this giveaway will run until the end of December 31. I will randomly pick and announce the winner in a separate blog post on January 1 (the post will be titled Most Anticipated 2020). You will have 48 hours to respond or I will pick a new winner. You can leave me a comment of whatever you want but I would love to hear what your favorite or worst book of 2019 is. Also, I’m pretty sure everyone who reads my blog is over the age of 18 but if you are not please make sure that it is ok with your parents before you enter. Best of luck to you all and I hope you are all having an amazing holiday season!

~Cassie

Kindle Unlimited Readathon TBR + Recommendations

I was so happy the other day when I went on to Youtube and pretty much all the booktubers that I follow all had announcement videos for this readathon. I have been trying to figure out a way to prioritize my kindle unlimited books and this is the perfect opportunity to read as many as possible. The readathon takes place December 27-29 and I will link PeaceLoveBooksxo (she’s the creator) announcement video here so you can get all the info and the full list of the other hosts in her description box.

TBR

My goal is to read three books during this readathon but I’m sharing all ten of the books I have “checked out” from KU right now because I want to be able to mood read next weekend.

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Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

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Menace by J.M. Darhower

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The Unrequited by Saffron A. Kent

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Scoring Wilder by R.S. Grey

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Fire in His Blood by Ruby Dixon

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From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata

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A Nordic King by Karina Halle

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Lessons in Corruption by Giana Darling

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Corrupt by Penelope Douglas

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King by T.M. Frazier

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Vicious by L.J. Shen

Recommendations 

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Verity by Colleen Hoover

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The Gravity of Us by Brittainy C. Cherry

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Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

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Heaven by V.C. Andrews

~Cassie

20 Five Star Predictions for 2020

One of my goals for the new year is to read a lot of my backlist books. I have an entire bookcase that is dedicated purely to unread books. And it is not a pretty bookshelf… it’s a use all the free space kind of a situation. My kids tell people that I have my own library and while I am proud of that fact, I also want to have read the books that I own. So I went through my shelves and picked out the first twenty books I saw that I think I will read and give five stars too.

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The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it’s the truth?

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeny

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The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

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In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever.

Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

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In Life After Life Ursula Todd lived through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. In A God in Ruins, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy – would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband and father – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

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With all the fire and fury fans have come to expect from internationally bestselling author George R. R. Martin, this is the first volume of the definitive two-part history of the Targaryens in Westeros.

Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen—the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria—took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire and Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.

What really happened during the Dance of the Dragons? Why did it become so deadly to visit Valyria after the Doom? What is the origin of Daenerys’s three dragon eggs? These are but a few of the questions answered in this essential chronicle, as related by a learned maester of the Citadel and featuring more than eighty all-new black-and-white illustrations by artist Doug Wheatley. Readers have glimpsed small parts of this narrative in such volumes as The World of Ice & Fire, but now, for the first time, the full tapestry of Targaryen history is revealed.

With all the scope and grandeur of Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Fire and Blood is the ultimate game of thrones, giving readers a whole new appreciation for the dynamic, often bloody, and always fascinating history of Westeros.

Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin

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Jude Farraday is a happily married, stay-at-home mom who puts everyone’s needs above her own. Her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill enters their lives, no one is more supportive than Jude. A former foster child with a dark past, Lexi quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable. But senior year of high school brings unexpected dangers and one night, Jude’s worst fears are confirmed: there is an accident. In an instant, her idyllic life is shattered and her close-knit community is torn apart. People—and Jude—demand justice, and when the finger of blame is pointed, it lands solely on eighteen-year-old Lexi Baill. In a heartbeat, their love for each other will be shattered, the family broken. Lexi gives up everything that matters to her—the boy she loves, her place in the family, the best friend she ever had—while Jude loses even more.

When Lexi returns, older and wiser, she demands a reckoning. Long buried feelings will rise again, and Jude will finally have to face the woman she has become. She must decide whether to remain broken or try to forgive both Lexi…and herself.

Night Road is a vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, loss, identity, and forgiveness. It is an exquisite, heartbreaking novel that speaks to women everywhere about the things that matter most.

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

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From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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When her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the north of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice. This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made man, John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over his treatment of his employees masks a deeper attraction.

In North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell skillfully fuses individual feeling with social concern, and in Margaret Hale creates one of the most original heroines of Victorian literature.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

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To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered, a good place to live. It was the children who saw – and felt – what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, It lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each person’s deepest dread. Sometimes It reached up, seizing, tearing, killing…

The adults, knowing better, knew nothing. Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of It was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until the grown-up children were called back, once more to confront It as It stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.

Frightening, epic, and brilliant, Stephen King’s It is one of the greatest works of a true storytelling master.

It by Stephen King

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Some women get everything. Some women get everything they deserve.

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces. 

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

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His Scandal
Her Secret

From New York Times bestselling author Alafair Burke, a stunning domestic thriller in the vein of Behind Closed Doors and The Woman in Cabin 10—in which a woman must make the impossible choice between defending her husband and saving herself.

When Angela met Jason Powell while catering a dinner party in East Hampton, she assumed their romance would be a short-lived fling, like so many relationships between locals and summer visitors. To her surprise, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. For Angela, the marriage turned out to be a chance to reboot her life. She and her son were finally able to move out of her mother’s home to Manhattan, where no one knew about her tragic past.

Six years later, thanks to a bestselling book and a growing media career, Jason has become a cultural lightning rod, placing Angela near the spotlight she worked so carefully to avoid. When a college intern makes an accusation against Jason, and another woman, Kerry Lynch, comes forward with an even more troubling allegation, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, and Angela believes him. But when Kerry disappears, Angela is forced to take a closer look—at both the man she married and the women she chose not to believe.

This much-anticipated follow-up to Burke’s Edgar-nominated The Ex asks how far a wife will go to protect the man she loves: Will she stand by his side, even if he drags her down with him?

The Wife by Alafair Burke

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To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it’s the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack’s curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.

Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating–a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.

Room by Emma Donoghue

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Hardy tells the story of Tess Durbeyfield, a beautiful young woman living with her impoverished family in Wessex, the southwestern English county immortalized by Hardy. After the family learns of their connection to the wealthy d’Urbervilles, they send Tess to claim a portion of their fortune.

Tess of the D’ubervilles by Thomas Hardy

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How far will you go to protect your family? Will you keep their secrets? Ignore their lies?

In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident.

A powerful showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Chapter by chapter, we shift alliances and gather evidence: Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?

Miracle Creek uncovers the worst prejudice and best intentions, tense rivalries and the challenges of parenting a child with special needs. It carefully pieces together the tense atmosphere of a courtroom drama and the complexities of life as an immigrant family. Drawing on the author’s own experiences as a Korean-American, former trial lawyer, and mother of a “miracle submarine” patient, this is a novel steeped in suspense and igniting discussion. Recommended by Erin Morgenstern, Jean Kwok, Jennifer Weiner, Scott Turow, Laura Lippman, and more– Miracle Creek is a brave, moving debut from an unforgettable new voice.

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

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On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside, are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

No Exit by Taylor Adams

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In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

Circe by Madeline Miller

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Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.

It starts with a man in a mask kidnapping him at gunpoint, for reasons Jason can’t begin to fathom—what would anyone want with an ordinary physics professor?—and grows even more terrifying from there, as Jason’s abductor injects him with some unknown drug and watches while he loses consciousness.

When Jason awakes, he’s in a lab, strapped to a gurney—and a man he’s never seen before is cheerily telling him “welcome back!”

Jason soon learns that in this world he’s woken up to, his house is not his house. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born.

And someone is hunting him.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

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With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

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When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.

Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

~Cassie

November Book Haul

I’m sorry that this is coming to you so late but after this I will be starting some of my end of the year posts. I can’t believe we are so close to 2020! I didn’t go too crazy in November so I don’t have too many books to share with you.

Book of the Month

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Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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Talia Hibbert, one of contemporary romance’s brightest new stars, delivers a witty, hilarious romantic comedy about a woman who’s tired of being “boring” and recruits her mysterious, sexy neighbor to help her experience new things—perfect for fans of Sally Thorne, Jasmine Guillory, and Helen Hoang.

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamourous family’s mansion. The next items?

Enjoy a drunken night out.
Ride a motorcycle.
Go camping.
Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
And… do something bad.
But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Ebook

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Drew Forrester is a total adrenaline junkie.

His high of choice?

Cars.

The faster, the better.

He’s been making waves in Maryland’s underground racing circuit since he crossed the state line, and after speaking with him, we know he’s not hitting the brakes anytime soon.

So what exactly does it take to burn rubber and make a name for yourself in a world where the only rule is there are no rules?

You gotta be hungry…

You gotta have balls…

And you can never back down.

What’ve we learned here at GearShark?

Drew is all of the above.

We also know he’s got some secrets buried under his hood.

Secrets we think are loaded with octane and just might set the world of cars on fire.

Check out the full feature article inside…

** This book contains an M/M romance relationship. **

#Junkie by Cambria Hebert

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In the de la Rosa family, old grudges run deeper than loyalty, and betrayal is a three-letter word: war. But this feud isn’t between enemies. It’s between brothers. And I’m the prize.

I was born a princess among criminals. An untouchable among thieves. Heiress to a life others have killed for, and one I’m prepared to trade for my freedom. I vowed not to leave without Diego, my first love and best friend, but if his ruthless brother has his way, I won’t leave at all. Cristiano de la Rosa is a man as big and bold as his legend. Once upon a time, he was our cartel’s best soldier . . . until he became my family’s worst enemy.

A man like Cristiano will bend fate to his will to get what he wants. Even if it means dragging me to hell—and tearing me from his brother’s arms.

“She is mine.” Three words from two different men.
A life, future, and love I don’t get to choose.

Violent Delights by Jessica Hawkins

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Murder hits a little too close to home for bakery owner Lexy Baker when a grim discovery is made in her homicide detective husband, Jack’s, basement. With Jack as the main suspect, Lexy has to turn up the heat and find the real killer while still trying to whip up the perfect meringue cookie recipe for the Brook Ridge Falls Desserts Contest. Normally, she would enlist the aid of her amateur detective grandmother, Nans. Except … Nans has a secret and is uncustomarily disinterested in investigating. Not to be daunted, Lexy turns to her iPad-toting posse of grandma sleuths who help her sift through the clues in an investigation that keeps dishing up the most unlikely suspects. When a surprising twist causes Lexy to suspect those closest to her, it makes her wonder if some things from the past aren’t better left alone.

Mummified Meringues by Leighann Dobbs

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“For fractured souls are like magnets.
Drawn to collide into an impossible bliss…”

Labeled a ‘Cursed’ woman of Eve from birth, Maddie has endured nothing but pain and repression at the hands of The Order’s most abusive elder, Moses. Now living with her sister in The Hangmen’s secluded compound, finally, Maddie, is free. Free from the suffocating faith she no longer believes in. Free from endless years of physical and mental torment.

Just… free…

At age twenty-one, the timid and shy Maddie is content to live within the confines of her new home—safe from the outside world, safe from harm and, strangely, protected by the Hangmen’s most volatile member; the heavily pierced and tattooed, Flame.

Flame.

The man who ceaselessly watches over her with his midnight dark and searing eyes. The man who protects her with a breath-taking intensity. And the man who stirs something deep within her numbed heart.

But when circumstances conspire for Flame to need HER help, Maddie bravely risks it all for the broken man who has captivated her fragile soul.

The Hangmen’s most infamous member, Flame, is ruled by one thing—anger. Plagued by haunting demons from his past, an all-consuming rage, and isolated by an abhorrent hatred of being touched, Flame’s days are filled with suffocating darkness, pierced only by a single ray of light—Maddie. The shy, beautiful woman he cannot purge from his thoughts. The woman he has an overwhelming need to possess…
… the only person who has ever been able to touch him.

Flame’s mission in life is to protect Maddie, to keep her safe. Until a trigger from his troubled past sends him spiraling into madness, trapping him in the deepest recesses of his disturbed mind.

His Hangmen brothers fear that Flame is beyond saving.

His only hope of salvation: Maddie and her healing light.

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

Souls Unfractured by Tillie Cole

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Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen—especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

~Cassie

Holiday Romance: Santa’s on His Way

Today is the last book for my themed holiday romance week. I hope I was able to put some books or authors that you didn’t know about on your radar. Thanks so much for being a part of this week of fun with me!

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Publisher: Zebra

Publication Date: September 25, 2018

Pages: 

Open your heart to the holidays with these stories of unexpected love . . .
 
A BABY FOR CHRISTMAS * Lisa Jackson
The uneventful Christmas Annie McFarlane expected is suddenly anything but. First, there’s the adorable baby left on the snowy doorstep of her Oregon cabin. Second, there’s the extremely attractive, yet extremely angry man claiming to be the father. Liam O’Shaughnessy may be intimidating, but this is one precious gift Annie isn’t giving up so easily . . .
 
WHAT THE COWBOY WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS * Maisey Yates
When Meg O’Neill’s longtime boyfriend lets her down, again, on Christmas no less, she braves an Oregon blizzard to get to her best friend Noah’s comforting arms. But this time Noah’s not telling her what she wants to hear—he’s telling her the truth, from his heart. And his words just might be the gift Meg’s been wishing for all along.
 
SNOWED IN * Stacy Finz
Rachel Johnson has found the perfect spot for her second Tart Me Up bakery in Glory Junction, California. Except she’s in fierce competition with hunky bar owner Boden Farmer. Worse, while the icy rivals await the city’s decision, they end up catering the same Christmas Eve mountaintop wedding—and getting snowed in. But sometimes a loss of electricity generates a different kind of heat . . .
 
A COWBOY WEDDING FOR CHRISTMAS * Nicole Helm
Big city art teacher Lindsay Tyler isn’t just back home in Colorado for her brother’s wedding at the Barton Christmas Tree Farm and Ranch. She’s back for good. She just hasn’t told anyone yet—including Cal Barton, the ex-boyfriend she left behind. Will it take a Christmas miracle for him to welcome her back with open arms? . . .

Review

A BABY FOR CHRISTMAS

This story really disappointed me because I liked the premise of it but it didn’t work on any level for me. The book is set in the 90’s and it very much reads like a 90’s book so I did some research and it was first published in 1997. Which explains a lot including why there was such a disconnect for me when reading the “sexy” scenes. There was a questionable consent scene that I really didn’t like and unprotected sex which I don’t appreciate in any book no matter when it was written. The whole idea of the story was great though so I definitely want to read some of Jackson’s recent work.

WHAT THE COWBOY WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS

This is a friends to lover romance between two foster siblings. I really liked the element that the foster home brought to the story even if it was difficult at times to read about their terrible childhoods. Meg and Noah have such a sweet romance and I really enjoyed the way their story ended.

SNOWED IN

One of my favorite tropes is a book centered around a bakery and this book did not disappoint. So much of the story was based on Rachel’s bakery and Boden’s bar and it served as the perfect backdrop to their romance. This book is based on a fictional town near where I actually live so it was really easy to picture everything. The snowed in aspect was great and I love how it forced them to get to know each other better. The ending was predictable but still very cute. Stacey Finz has a few books set in this same small town and they are definitely on my radar.

A COWBOY WEDDING FOR CHRISTMAS

This is a second chance romance with a group of characters that I really enjoyed. Cal and Lindsay have a great connection that I was rooting for but unfortunately this story didn’t quite work for me. The introduction to all the characters was good but then things started to unravel. Everything felt rushed to me and not quite authentic. Which is an obvious risk of reading a short story so I do understand that she had some constraints on telling the story. I wish Helm had saved this idea for a full length novel though so things could have have better pacing.

~Cassie

Holiday Romance: All Wrapped Up for the Holidays

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Get your free copy here: Book Funnel

Six standalone holiday short stories!

The Merry Mistake by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

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

Finding Perfect by Colleen Hoover

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

A Rock Chick Christmas by Kristen Ashley

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

Just Say When by Jill Shalvis

When the one you want …

Is the one you can’t seem to have…

Can love conquer all?

The Pact by Elle Kennedy

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

The Package by K. Bromberg

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

Review

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

The Merry Mistake

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

Finding Perfect

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

Rock Chick Christmas

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

Just Say When

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

The Pact

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

The Package

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

~Cassie

 

 

Holiday Blog Tour: Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow

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

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AN ALASKAN CHRISTMAS

Author: Jennifer Snow

ISBN: 9781335041500

Publication Date: 9/24/2019

Publisher: HQN Books

Book Summary

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

 

Jennifer Snow

Author Bio

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

Social Links

Author Website

Twitter: @JenniferSnow18

Facebook: @jennifersnowbooks

Instagram: @jensnowauthor

Goodreads

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What?” She checked her watch.

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

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

“Okay, but…”

She shot him a look.

“No problem. I’ll check in on him.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another intern bites the dust.

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

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

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

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

“You’re not upset?”

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

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

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

“Oh…right.”

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

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

“Got it,” he called after her.

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

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

A text popped up from Darren.

If you change your mind about Mrs. Franklin…

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

“Dad, this intern thing is just ridiculous…”

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

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

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

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

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

“Just read it,” her father said.

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

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

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

Now was not the time to take a break.

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

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

Improbable surgeries.”

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

Now she was being forced into taking a break.

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

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

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

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~Cassie

 

 

 

 

Holiday Blog Tour: Cowboy Christmas Redemption by Maisey Yates

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

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COWBOY CHRISTMAS REDEMPTION

Author: Maisey Yates

ISBN: 9781335009906

Publication Date: 9/24/2019

Publisher: HQN Books

Book Summary


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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

Maisey Yates

Author Bio

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

Social Links

Author Website

Twitter: @maiseyyates

Facebook:@MaiseyYates.Author 

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Goodreads

Excerpt 

From Chapter Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A muscle in his jaw ticked.

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

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

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

He should have been quicker.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just the two of them.

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

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

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

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

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

Clint was his brother. In every way but blood.

And he couldn’t betray his friend like that.

Anyway, Ellie loved Clint.

She didn’t love Caleb.

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

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

Two days later Clint and Ellie had been engaged.

Caleb had agreed to be the best man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Links 

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Target 

Walmart

Google

iBooks

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~Cassie