January weekly kindle haul #1

Happy Sunday! I only have a small amount of books to share with you today. I only bought two books and the rest are some free (at the time) books that sounded like something I will want to read eventually.

.99c

The first fall of snow can be fatal…

A year has passed since DI James Walker cracked his biggest case yet, and he’s hoping for peace and quiet this festive season.

But across the fells, a local farmer returns home on Christmas Eve to find footsteps in the fresh snow that lead down to his unused basement – and no footsteps leading away. Days later, his body is found, alongside those of his wife and daughter.

Without a neighbour for miles, there are no witnesses and little evidence. And the crime scene has strange echoes of another terrible murder committed at the farmhouse, twenty years earlier…

James knows that to catch this killer, he needs to solve a case that has long since gone cold…

Perfect for fans of smash-hit TV series Whitehouse Farm, Simon McCleave’s The Snowdonia Killingsand Catherine Cooper’s The Chalet

He Could Be the One

The Player’s Proposition…

Quinn Sommers and Lance Donovan have been hot for each other since the day they met at her sister’s back fence.

After noting his slick womanizing ways, she vowed not to become another notch on this arrogant charmer’s bedpost.

Quinn has resisted Lance for well over a year. Constant bickering–driving each other, family, and mutual friends plumb crazy– failed to quash the sexual tension crackling between them.

Lance, a master of biding his time, always gets what he wants. And he’s decided they’ve wasted too much time on nonsense. He will have Quinn, thank you very much. Now. Because she doesn’t trust him or his motives, he’ll need to get more creative.

Hoping to use her hypercompetitive nature to his advantage, Lance issues an intriguing proposal:

Lance and Quinn will “chaste date” for thirty days, just playing nice for once and getting to know one another better. All those pesky fleshly distractions can only lead to trouble, anyway. Just holding hands allowed. Oh, and wait, maybe they can slip in a loophole for a hug and a closed-mouth-above-the-neck kiss or two…or three….or…

The first to break the rules will incur penalties.

Temptation abounds. Somebody will fail, but it’s a challenge neither can resist.

He Could Be the One is Book 2 in the Mistywood Lane series.

The ferryman of the dead is forced to leave the life he’s always known.

Apollo has had a vision: as the life of each soul flashes before Charon’s eyes, the ferryman ages like an old man. Charon needs to experience his own adventures to become youthful again, or he will soon die. 

The last thing Charon expects is to fall in love with a mortal woman—someone he can’t take with him when he returns. Charon must decide whether to abandon the love of his life or his duties. 

While Charon’s Quest shares the world of The Gatekeeper’s Saga (a bestselling paranormal romance/urban fantasy), it can be read before or after or anytime in between the rest of the books in the saga.

FREE

She’s sworn off relationships. He’s ready to find ‘the one’. The last thing either of them expected was each other.

As far as Jade Johnson is concerned, the only thing men have ever been good at is holding her back. But when work takes her to the small town of Cedar Springs to cast a hot new show, Jade comes face to face with a man who sets her world on fire and immediately challenges everything she’s ever believed.

Mitch McCormick is finally ready to put his playboy ways behind him and settle down, but the type of women he’s been dating are definitely not the marrying type. Which is exactly why he needs a nice girl. An easy going, sweet, small town girl…

The exact opposite of the feisty, sharp tongued talent agent he can’t get off his mind. Jade challenges him and excites him in a way he’s never experienced. But Jade’s made it clear that settling down isn’t something she wants, not with him—not with anyone.

But when Jade makes a discovery that will turn her life upside down, it’s not only her own heart she needs to protect. Because whether she likes it or not, everything is about to change.

Book 1 – Resisting the Biker is FREE. 

Twenty-three year old Charlie (Charlotte) has a love-hate relationship with her father Tony Armati, a rich and powerful man connected to the mafioso. Loving, but manipulative, Tony tries to control every aspect of her life, including the men she dates. This irritates the hell out of Charlie, who decides to strike back by seeing someone her father would never approve of… and equally as dangerous. 

Maddox Jones (Mad Dog to his friends) is the nephew of Bastard, the founding president of the Gold Vipers MC and newest edition to the Jensen, Iowa Chapter. A fearless hell-raiser, Mad Dog takes what he wants and right now it’s Charlie Armati, who walks into his life with a baseball bat and some deeply rooted daddy issues. When he learns that she’s using him to piss off her old man, Mad Dog tries cutting his losses but finds it’s not so easy, especially with a beautiful, woman like Charlie, who can be just as manipulative as her father. 

This story contains crude language, sexual situations, and violence. Is not suitable for readers under the age of 18. Please do not buy if any of this offends you. This is a work of fiction and is not meant to be a true depiction of a motorcycle club. It was written for entertainment only. 

FREE

Getting dumped sucked. Getting dumped because he thought I was in love with my best friend’s older brother was ludicrous. I did not have a thing for Ian. Yeah, we shared a hotel room when we went to Hawaii, but nothing happened. I mean, I walked in on him right after he got out of the shower.

Water running down his chest.

Hair slicked back from his face.

That stormy look in his eyes.

And the rock, hard…

Ahem, anyway. No, I did not have a thing for him. We were friends. That was it. No one needed to know I still dreamed about what would have happened if I’d closed that door with me on the inside instead of the outside. It was never going to happen.

Ever.

FREE

Erica Conner is a carefree yoga instructor who’s fine going solo to her friend Kaitlin’s wedding, but when her ex’s mother tells her he’ll be attending with his new fiancée, Erica reaches for the nearest date—an uptight corporate guy who soon has her wishing for her own happily ever after.

FREE

One night was all it took for everything to change.
From college student to guardian in a single breath.
My siblings became my world.

No time for date nights or romantic dreams.
I traded quiet weekends for sleepless nights.
Giving my all to make sure they were cared for.

But Griffin had a brokenness that called to me—one that mirrored my own.
Gruff and just a little bit reckless.
He was the last thing I needed. But everything I wanted.

Only someone isn’t happy about this new life I’m building.
Deciding to set fire to everything I hold close.
And when the smoke clears, there might be only ashes left behind…

FREE

When a packed Christmas party turns into a murder scene, the small town of Sweetwater Falls has no shortage of suspects.

When Charlotte McKay uncovers a body while catering a Christmas party, she doesn’t know who she can trust. The people who hired her are quick to point the finger in her direction, ramping up her need to find the real criminal. But everywhere she turns, there is a new suspect, and another lie she has to sift through to get to the truth.

Charlotte doesn’t believe that the couple who plays Santa and Mrs. Claus every year at the Christmas festival is capable of something as dastardly as murder, but Nick and Nancy’s alibi turns up one lie after another. Sweetwater Falls has a bounty of wholesome, wonderful people, but the more Charlotte digs for the truth, the more she uncovers secrets that are best left in the dark.

Charlotte knows she needs to find the murderer fast, but when no one is willing to tell the whole truth, Charlotte is afraid she will be brought in for a crime she didn’t commit.

.99c

I have a lot of titles. Jace Connor, Sexiest Soccer Player. Top-Scoring Athlete. America’s Favorite Party Boy. But I’m sick of being what other people expect. Starting with the last one, I’m ready to earn some new nicknames. 

So I absolutely, positively, can’t go anywhere near my coach’s daughter. 

Brooke Darringer was warned up and down about my rep as a reformed bad boy when she got hired as sponsorship manager. What no one told her was that all my swagger hides a gentle family man who loves his nieces and nephews even more than soccer. And she likes it. 

She couldn’t be more off-limits, especially as she tries to prove she wasn’t hired for her name. 

I truly want to stay on the straight-and-narrow, but it isn’t just her sexy-as-sin body that’s tempting me. Her warmth and bubbly personality are everything I never knew I wanted. 

Brooke is trying her best to keep things strictly professional, but all these late-night gym sessions and covert dinners might just convince her I’m finally done playing. 

FREE

A Park Avenue princess…My story starts with a plunge into the cold water of Manhattan’s harbor. A strong hand hauls me back onto the deck of the luxury yacht. Christopher was supposed to be my enemy, the son of my father’s latest wife. Instead he protects me with fierce determination when I need him most.

This tale begins with a fall, but it doesn’t end there.

Because another man wants me.

Sutton wants to consume me with a passion more feral than kind. In the lush emotional wilderness I’m not sure I want Christopher to save me this time…

Or if there will be anything left if he tries.

SURVIVAL OF THE RICHEST is a book about finding your soul’s desire, even if the search leads you places you never expect. A woman torn between two men. An impossible choice. And a war fought on the most dangerous battlefield–the heart.

FREE

Nikki has lost out on true love again, but the grannies are pushing her to move forward. When a bowling league turns deadly, they’re in for another unsolvable mystery. With no time to spare, they must figure out whodunit before an innocent man pays the price.

~Cassie

Stitching Saturday 1.8.22

I had a great week of cross stitching. I actually had a finish and I completed the first stop of the full coverage fanatics “bike around Germany” challenge. Unfortunately, I didn’t work on my husbands Oslo hat at all but I am so happy with my cross stitch progress that I don’t mind. I also may have been avoiding that project since I have already frogged it a couple of times.

WIP’s

Stitching Housewives on Etsy

My first finish of 2022! I love the way it turned out and I hope that I actually fully finish it so I can display it when spring/summer comes around. This project was called for WIPGO so I feel really accomplished that I already marked a square off my board.

This is my second piece called for Wipgo so this will stay in my rotation until it’s done. My youngest picked this Santa out to go on our tree but I barely worked on it last year so I’ll definitely have it ready for next Christmas!

This is my year long focus piece so you will be seeing this every week. To finish it by the end of the year I need at least 280 stitches a week and I did 423 this week so I’m very happy with my progress. I used this for the first stop on the “bike around Germany” challenge which only called for 120 stitches so I was able to move onto my second full coverage piece of the week. I’m now at 4.86% done with this project. I’m working on this every single Monday with Needlecraft Dani on YouTube for our #goldenkitemonday SAL (stitch-a-long).

This is a huge project that will take me many years to compete but I’m loving working on it. It is very confetti heavy but it is fun to see the colors come together. I’m currently stitching on this today so combined with today and tomorrow I have done 350 stitches on it which brings me up to a total of 1,342 stitches, which is a whopping 0.67% done. I’m using this for back to back stops on the bike challenge and I’m roughly 200 stitches short of completing the second stop. So this piece will roll over into next week as well.

Plans

I’ve added two projects to the three I’ve already mentioned. One cross stitch and one diamond painting that I bought awhile ago and never started.

From Amazon. It is currently unavailable.

I’m stitching this for my niece. Her birthday is in September and I’m about half done. I was hoping to have it done for Christmas but my Mom’s shawl was higher priority. It also gives me time to find the perfect frame for it whenever I do get it done.

-Cassie

Books to read in winter

I’m here today to share some books that I think are the perfect read to curl up with this winter season. This winter seems especially cold and if you are stuck inside due to snow or just no desire to brave the cold temperatures these books will fully immerse you into their stories while you sip on your hot beverage of choice. Or, perhaps, you are on the other side of the world and are craving the reprieve cold weather will bring to your hot summer and are in the mood to check out some frigid reads.

My thoughts: If you have been around here for awhile then you know that I am not a big fan of how this book ended (because it had a good ending spot and yet went on for another fifty or so pages) but I still think Ruth Ware nailed the claustrophobic feeling that being snowed in can elicit. Disclaimer: I have never been snowed in so I’m only assuming that the feeling is similar.

Synopsis:

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?

When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Turn of the Key and In a Dark Dark Wood returns with another suspenseful thriller set on a snow-covered mountain.

My thoughts: I only gave this book three stars when I read it a couple of years ago but when I think of books that would make a great weekend read this one comes to mind. I’m not a huge fan of young adult fantasy but the world that Christelle Dabos created is fascinating and the strongest part of the story.

Synopsis:

Long ago, following a cataclysm called “The Rupture,” the world was shattered into many floating celestial islands. Known now as Arks, each has developed in distinct ways; each seems to possess its own unique relationship to time, such that nowadays vastly different worlds exist, together but apart. And over all of the Arks the spirit of an omnipotent ancestor abides. 

Ophelia lives on Anima, an ark where objects have souls. Beneath her worn scarf and thick glasses, the young girl hides the ability to read and communicate with the souls of objects, and the power to travel through mirrors. Her peaceful existence on the Ark of Anima is disrupted when she is promised in marriage to Thorn, from the powerful Dragon clan. Ophelia must leave her family and follow her fiancée to the floating capital on the distant Ark of the Pole. Why has she been chosen? Why must she hide her true identity? Though she doesn’t know it yet, she has become a pawn in a deadly plot.

My thoughts: This book is set a research center in Antarctica during the winter and you don’t get more isolated than that. I read this last year and have been sitting on my review for it which I will try to put up next week but this is a locked room type mystery that I think a lot of people will enjoy. The first half of the book is all set up though but once you get past that the plot moves at a pretty good pace.

Synopsis:

ONE DEAD BODY
TWELVE SUSPECTS
TWENTY-FOUR-HOUR DARKNESS

In the most inhospitable environment – cut off from the rest of the world – there’s a killer on the loose.

A&E doctor Kate North has been knocked out of her orbit by a personal tragedy. So when she’s offered the chance to be an emergency replacement at the UN research station in Antarctica, she jumps at the chance. The previous doctor, Jean-Luc, died in a tragic accident while out on the ice.

The move seems an ideal solution for Kate: no one knows about her past; no one is checking up on her. But as total darkness descends for the winter, she begins to suspect that Jean-Luc’s death wasn’t accidental at all. And the more questions she asks, the more dangerous it becomes for them all . .

My Thoughts: I’m sure you can tell by the cover that this is yet again another isolated snowy setting book. However, half of this book takes place in an isolated area in Scotland but the other half takes place in London and follows our potentially doomed couple’s marriage over time.

Synopsis:

Think you know the person you married? Think again…

Things have been wrong with Mr and Mrs Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife. 

Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts – paper, cotton, pottery, tin – and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.

Rock Paper Scissors is the latest exciting domestic thriller from the queen of the killer twist, New York Times bestselling author Alice Feeney.

My Thoughts: This book differs from the others because it doesn’t have a wintery feeling although it does partly take place in an isolated forest. I put this book on the list because if the goal is to find a book that you can curl up with over the course of a weekend than you don’t get much better than one of the Wesolowski’s Six Stories books. This is the first in the series of 6 (maybe more) standalone books that use the podcast format to tell compelling and fast paced stories. I have read three of them so far and each one I struggle to put down because I just want to know what is going to happen next.

Synopsis:

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an Outward Bound center. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivaled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.

~Cassie

Blog Tour: My Darling Husband by Kimberly Belle

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

My Darling Husband

Kimberly Belle

On Sale Date: March 8, 2022

9780778311560, 0778311562

Trade Paperback

$16.99 USD, $23.99 CAD

Fiction / Thrillers / Psychological

352 pages

About the Book:Bestselling author of DEAR WIFE and THE MARRIAGE LIE, Kimberly Belle returns with her most heart-pounding thriller to date, as a masked home invader reveals the cracks in a marriage.

Everyone is about to know what her husband isn’t telling her…

Jade and Cam Lasky are by all accounts a happily married couple with two adorable kids, a spacious home and a rapidly growing restaurant business. But their world is tipped upside down when Jade is confronted by a masked home invader. As Cam scrambles to gather the ransom money, Jade starts to wonder if they’re as financially secure as their lifestyle suggests, and what other secrets her husband is keeping from her.
Cam may be a good father, a celebrity chef and a darling husband, but there’s another side he’s kept hidden from Jade that has put their family in danger. Unbeknownst to Cam and Jade, the home invader has been watching them and is about to turn their family secrets into a public scandal.
With riveting twists and a breakneck pace, My Darling Husband is an utterly compelling thriller that once again showcases Kimberly Belle’s exceptional talent for domestic suspense.

Review

Kimberly Belle outdid herself with one of the most suspenseful books that I have ever read. This entire book takes place in about a five hour span of time, minus the interview scenes that take place after the events, which only serve to enhance the tension of the story. Belle firmly entrenches us in the minds of Cam and Jade but also the home invader and the constant shifting between narrators was intoxicating. From Cam’s terror and intensity of trying of secure the ransom money and Jade’s fear and plotting on how to save herself and her kids, I couldn’t get enough. Speaking of the kids, Beatrix and Baxter were some of my favorite kids in books. Most of the time I’m not a fan of how author’s write kids since I find them flat and infantilized. I was happy to see that Belle chose to portray them in a way that I felt accurate and lifelike. Beatrix, in particular, was a great addition to the story and helped Belle keep the fear and intensity well balanced. I had no clue how Belle would end this story and she didn’t disappoint. From early on I found it terrifying for the fact that this could easily be a true story. And I was sorry to hear from the ending author note that this book was inspired by what friends of hers went through. I think this book will appeal to all kinds of readers as long as you are in the mood for a fast paced suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole way through.

About the Author:

Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of seven novels, including her latest, My Darling Husband (December 2021). Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book bestseller in the UK and Italy. She’s sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.

Social Links:

Author website: https://www.kimberlybellebooks.com/

Facebook: @KimberlyBelleBooks

Twitter: @KimberlySBelle

Instagram: @kimberlysbelle

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/kimberlybelle 

Excerpt

Jade

3:18 pm 

I see the black figure in the shadows, and my first thought is of the kids, an immediate, full-throttle alarm that comes on like a freight train. This is parenthood in a nutshell: utter terror for your children’s welfare, always. It’s something Cam and I never thought about back when we were trying to get pregnant—the overwhelming insecurity when the doctor settled our babies into our arms, the unrelenting worry whenever they’re not near. I spot movement and I reach for them at the same time—instant and instinctual. My brain identifies a person, a male-sized form that does not belong here, and I shove their little bodies behind mine. 

A man, looming in my garage. Breathing the same air. 

I don’t move. I can’t. No fight. No flight. I just stand here, transfixed, dumbstruck, stock-still. 

I think of my phone, buried under the mail and trash in my bag. I think of the panic button on the alarm pad in the house, on the other end of a breezeway and tucked safely behind a locked door. I think of my keys, next to my phone. Even if I managed to get us out of this garage, where would we go? I’d never make it inside the house, and the backyard is fenced, the gates either electronic or secured with a complicated, child-safe latch. There’s nowhere to escape.

“Don’t move. Stay quiet and I won’t hurt you.” 

The voice is so frighteningly close. Hoarse, rattling in air hot with my sticky fear, and I don’t believe a single word. Especially not when he steps closer, and I get a better look. The man is wearing a mask. He’s holding a gun, a stubby black thing in a fist. Head-to-toe black, every bit of him covered, even his hands. His fingertips. 

Run. I scream the word in my head, urging myself on. Grab the children and run. 

Now.

A chill races down my spine. The hairs soldier on my skin. 

This man is here to hurt me. To hurt us.

And still I can’t move. 

So this is it, then. This is how my body responds when faced with sudden fright, with this hot, sluggish horror—like when your fingers brush over a strange lump under your armpit and you realize your life has veered sideways. Some people run. Others scream. Me, I just stand here, paralyzed by the mounting terror. 

The kids, too. They stare at him with big, frightened eyes. A little hand grabs my pants leg.

“Please,” I somehow manage to squeak, but I can’t finish. Please don’t touch the children. Please don’t shoot us. The words are too horrifying to say out loud.

He moves closer, his gait smooth but there’s something sinister in the way he’s walking across the concrete floor. He’s like an animal on the hunt, joints loose, ready to pounce. All dangerous, coiled energy lurking just below the surface. 

“Take my car.” I hold out my bag, a stupidly expensive designer thing from a couple years ago. “The keys are in here somewhere, and so’s my wallet. I—”

“I don’t want your purse. Don’t want your car, either.” His voice is deep and scratchy, the kind that sounds filled with cigarette smoke. 

My stomach spirals, and I search his face for more, but the parts of him I can see—his lips, his eyes—are closed off. I search for something recognizable, something human I can appeal to, but there’s nothing. It’s like searching for meaning on a covered canvas. 

Still, I take in every detail I can see and commit them to memory. Just under six foot, medium build, broad shouldered. Caucasian. I know this from his eyes, olive green and flecked with amber, the pink patch of skin around his mouth. His teeth are white and straight, the kind of straight that comes from braces. 

“Do you want money? I don’t have cash, but take my card. My pin is 4-3-0-8.”

“Jade. Shh.”

My name on his tongue tightens a knot of panic in my gut, and I scurry—finally—backwards, putting some distance between me and this man, pushing the kids behind me and towards the door. 

Stay calm. 

Don’t panic.

Whatever happens, do not let the gunman in the house. That’s how people get killed. That’s how entire families end up in a pool of blood. As soon as you let the gunman into the house, you’re already dead. 

Excerpted from My Darling Husband @ 2021 by Kimberly S. Belle Books, LLC, used with permission by Park Row Books.

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/My-Darling-Husband-Kimberly-Belle/dp/0778311562/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/my-darling-husband-kimberly-belle/1138090011?ean=9780778311560 

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/my-darling-husband-9780778312116/9780778312116 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780778312116 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/My-Darling-Husband/Kimberly-Belle/9780778311560?id=8388215054600 

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/my-darling-husband 

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/my-darling-husband/id1539274871 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kimberly_Belle_My_Darling_Husband?id=6JMHEAAAQBAJ 

Libro.FM: https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781488212611-my-darling-husband 

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/my-darling-husband-a-novel/9780778333135-item.html 

~Cassie

WWW Wednesday 1.5.22

This weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. This month I’m taking part in the PopCulture Readathon: Buffy the Vampire edition. I went a little crazy and created a TBR for all three bingo boards and I’m pretty happy to report that I am doing a decent job at actually reading all the things.

What are you currently reading?

For the prompt Kendra Young (a book by a Caribbean author) I am reading A Brief History of Seven Killings. This is actually a book I started last year and put down for some reason. Marlon James is an incredibly talented writer and the fact that he can take a large cast of characters and have a unique voice for each one of them is extraordinary. This book is told in parts so I plan on devouring a chunk of it and then moving on to something else (probably a review book) to keep my momentum up. I just read the main event that is covered in the synopsis so I’m really looking forward to diving back into this to see where the story is going to go next.

I’m rereading House of Earth and Blood in anticipation of the sequel coming out next month and also for the prompt Spike (a book with a lovable bad boy). I’m so glad I decided to reread this since I forgot a lot of the smaller details on how the world works. I will hopefully pick this book back up in a few days after I get some more of A Brief History of Seven Killings read.

I have my blog tour post for My Darling Husband tomorrow and I am just finishing up reading the book. This book is incredibly suspenseful and I was flying through it so fast because I was captivated from the end of the first chapter. I could have finished this yesterday but I wanted to savor the ending a little bit longer. This book fits the prompt Anya Jenkins (book with a revenge plot).

What did you recently finish reading?

The True Cowboy of Sunset Ridge by Maisey Yates (The prompt for this book was Angel: book with a brooding main character.)

I really enjoyed My Brother’s Husband Vol. 1 by Gengoroh Tagame but I think I will wait to review it until I read the second volume. The first volume cuts off right in the middle of the story so I can’t wait to find out how Tagame wraps up the story. I read this for the prompt Cordelia Chase (book with major character growth) and this was the perfect book for the prompt.

Buried Cold Case Secrets by Sami A. Abrams was my first read of the year and it was five stars! My blog tour post for this is scheduled to go up January 27. The prompt for this was Xander Harris (book with a loyal best friend) and it was another perfect book for the prompt. This is a Harlequin category romance that I think would work for a bigger audience than most of the ones I read would.

What do you think you will read next?

After I read some more of House of Earth and Blood and A Brief History of Seven Killings I think I will pick up the Agatha Christie that I put on my TBR. The audiobook of it is also on Scribd which I may read it that way. This is a book that I wasn’t planning on reading this month but it perfectly fits the prompt of The Mayor (book with a snake on the cover).

Among the towering red cliffs of Petra, like some monstrous swollen Buddha, sat the corpse of Mrs Boynton. A tiny puncture mark on her wrist was the only sign of the fatal injection that had killed her.

With only 24 hours available to solve the mystery, Hercule Poirot recalled a chance remark he’d overheard back in Jerusalem: ‘You see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed?’ Mrs Boynton was, indeed, the most detestable woman he’d ever met.

~Cassie

Blog Tour: The True Cowboy of Sunset Ridge by Maisey Yates

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

THE TRUE COWBOY OF SUNSET RIDGE

Author: Maisey Yates

ISBN: 9781335620965

Publication Date: December 28, 2021

Publisher: HQN Books

Book Summary:

When a bull-riding champion is left holding his friend’s baby, could it be time to put down roots in Gold Valley?

Midwife Mallory Chance is ready for a fresh start in Gold Valley. And when she locks eyes with a handsome cowboy across the saloon, it feels like fate. After too many years wasted on her cheating ex, good girl Mallory is read to cut loose and prioritize herself. But when the dust settles on their hot night, it turns out that her mysterious one-night cowboy is none other than her new landlord – and someone she’ll be seeing very regularly around Gold Valley…

Bull rider Colt Daniels has a wild reputation, but after losing his friend on the rodeo circuit, he’s left it all behind. If only he could walk away from his guilt as easily…or the temptation of Mallory! He can’t offer her the future she deserves – what does a cowboy with a heart as damaged as his know about forever? Then his friend’s tiny daughter ends up in Colt’s care, and he’s in over his head. Colt has never wanted to rely on anyone, but he needs Mallory’s help taking care of the baby he’s beginning to love as his own. But is it all still temporary, or is it their chance at a forever family?

Review

Wow, this book packs a punch. It is beyond emotional and extremely steamy. Colt and Mallory are both trying to overcome traumatic pasts that have left them putting up walls for years. Mallory is dealing with the trauma of why she let herself stay in a toxic relationship for as long as she did. And Colt is dealing with yet another death of someone close to him after losing his parents as a teenager. The entire Gold Valley series is excellent and this book was no different.

My favorite thing in a romance is the emotional connection between the lovers and this book somehow delivered on that front, even when the beginning of Colt and Mallory’s relationship was just a (hot) hookup. I cried multiple times reading this and like every Gold Valley book, I felt an immediate bond to the characters. Mallory and Colt are both dealing with some tough issues so there is a major trigger warning for death, including stillbirth. Mallory is also a midwife so there is some significant time spent on all the things that could go wrong with a pregnancy.

All this trauma is balanced out with the incredible moments between Colt and Mallory and the heartwarming community that surrounds them. However, I did think that the pacing of this story was a little off. Things were progressing along and then there was a time jump but it wasn’t confirmed until the end exactly how much time had gone past. I also think that the message Yates was trying to get across, while a beautiful one, felt a bit heavy-handed at times.

With all that being said, I still very much enjoyed this read. I only read a few of the 14 books in the Gold Valley series but I am saddened that there won’t be anymore. I know that this is a series that I will read and reread over and over again in my life. If you love romance and are wanting a book that will give you all the feels but also deliver some spice, then you can’t go wrong with The True Cowboy of Sunset Ridge.

Author Bio: 

Maisey Yates is a New York Times bestselling author of over one hundred romance novels. Whether she’s writing strong, hard working cowboys, dissolute princes or multigenerational family stories, she loves getting lost in fictional worlds. An avid knitter with a dangerous yarn addiction and an aversion to housework, Maisey lives with her husband and three kids in rural Oregon. Check out her website, maiseyyates.com or find her on Facebook.

Social Links:

Author Website: http://www.maiseyyates.com/

Facebook: Maisey Yates – https://www.facebook.com/MaiseyYates.Author/

Twitter: N/A

Instagram: @MaiseyYates – https://www.instagram.com/maiseyyates/

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

It was him. The man. The fantasy man. The one who had haunted her dreams for the past six months.

And he was just like Mallory Chance remembered him.

Tall, broad shoulders, broad chest. Tight black T-shirt and black cowboy hat. His midsection looked hard and solid, and so did his thighs.

He was the sort of man who would have terrified her when she was a teenager. Far too much masculinity to cope with—and why bother?—when there were soft, gentle boy band members to fantasize about from the safe distance of a bedroom wall poster.

The sort of man she’d never had the chance to lust after because she’d made her choices about men at fifteen—again, when she’d been more into boy bands than bad boys and had proclaimed chest hair “gross”—and had therefore been stuck with her teenage sensibilities even as she’d transitioned into adulthood.

He looked like danger. The kind you ran from when you were a girl and wanted to run to when you were a woman.

The hardest-looking man in the room.

The one who would win the bar fight.

The one whose muscles looked like they could carry the weight of the whole world. Or possibly just handily beat up her trifling ex.

But it wasn’t enough that the man had the most incredible body she’d ever seen.

He had dark blond hair, dark stubble covering a square jaw. His mouth was perfectly formed, and while she’d never given much thought to what constituted a perfectly formed mouth, it turned out she knew it when she saw it.

But his eyes…

That night in the Gold Valley Saloon, six months ago, while she’d been seated next to her boyfriend, they’d locked eyes.

And she’d felt it all the way down to her core.

Like a bolt of lightning.

An electric current that had run beneath her skin and down to her bones and had left her feeling changed.

It had been a moment. A brief moment. But she hadn’t been sure how she would breathe through it, let alone carry on like it hadn’t happened.

She’d never experienced anything like it before.

Like she was staring down fate in cowboy boots.

But that had to be ridiculous because she didn’t believe in things like that, and if she did, she’d have to claim Jared as her fate, not some random guy in a bar.

Jared, the man she’d been with since she was fifteen years old.

What was that if not fate?

At least, that was what she told herself. For a long time. Too long.

Fate.

The word whispered over her skin, the concept like firecrackers going off in her stomach.

It was why she had come here tonight, and she would be lying if she said that wasn’t true.

All the whole way from San Francisco she had played the music as loud as she could, had rolled the windows down and shouted Taylor Swift lyrics into the wind. Because her world had been broken open, and because Jared had hated that music.

And it didn’t matter what he liked or didn’t like.

Not anymore.

So she’d done it, because she could. And she had ignored the ten times her cell phone had rung with his number flashing across the screen.

She wasn’t taking him back. Not this time. Not ever again.

In the past he’d left her, and she was the one who felt lost. And every time, she’d just get used to him being gone, he’d call and she’d pick up. She’d tell him to come home. Because she needed him.

She hadn’t known how not to need him. And she’d done her best to make sure he needed her. Because it was in that space where she felt right. Like she was doing the right thing, and like she mattered.

That sweet spot of contentedness and a little bit of penance.

Not this time. This time she’d done the leaving.

With very little forethought, and nothing more than a couple of haphazard emails, she had decided to uproot her entire life and go to the town of Gold Valley.

Mallory had been enchanted by Gold Valley from the first time she had come to visit her brother, Griffin.

She and her parents had come six months ago, along with Jared. It had been wonderful. And he had been horrible. And all of the doubts that bubbled up on occasion had come roaring to the surface during that week.

He’d been bored at dinner; he’d been completely uninterested in all of the quaint brick buildings in town. He’d overslept and missed family breakfasts.

In general, every single one of his bad qualities, every single thing that Griffin hated about him had been on full display.

Your brother already hates me. I’m not going to perform.

He’d said that while lounging in the passenger seat of her car, his sunglasses on, holding his phone up, paying it more attention than he did her, as usual. In the years since they’d started dating, his blond hair had transitioned from floppy boy band to man bun, which was the only way he’d transitioned from boy to man, really. He was still handsome in that smooth way, slim and… Well she’d always found him… Cute.

But he was much less cute when bored and slumped in her car, texting on a phone she’d paid for while he acted aggrieved by the vacation she’d also paid for.

He’d said that her brother hated him. And it was true. Griffin did hate him. But it was based on things like that, not on nothing.

Griffin had never been shy about his feelings for Jared, and it had always hurt Mallory.

She’d idolized Griffin all her life. Her older brother was her hero and always had been. A shining beacon of everything good and successful. Her parents had always been so proud of him. And so had she.

Eight years older than her, she’d been ten when Griffin had moved out, and it had devastated her. Even though it was the natural order of things. It had changed her world, and she felt unspeakably lonely with him gone.

He’d gone off and gotten his own life. Fallen in love, gotten married.

And then he lost his wife and little girl, and Mallory had lost her beloved sister-in-law and cherished niece.

Even though Griffin had survived, in many ways she’d felt like she’d lost him too.

It was only since he’d met Iris that Mallory felt like she really had them back.

Which, other than the natural pull she felt to the town, had been the reason that she’d come to Gold Valley.

She wanted to be near her brother.

And she needed, desperately, to be very far away from Jared.

Her rental wouldn’t be ready for a couple of days, but she just… She hadn’t been able to stay. Not anymore.

And there were a whole lot of conversations that she was due to have. Mostly because Griffin didn’t even know that she was moving to Gold Valley.

Her parents didn’t even know what she was doing.

Par for the course, isn’t it?

Maybe. But there were just… There were some things she just wanted to keep to herself. So she didn’t have to feel the sting of their disappointment. Her own failures mixed together with disapproval from the two people who mattered so much to her.

She’d always tried to cover for Jared too. Every time he’d left and hurt her, she’d tried to minimize it. Every time he’d spent three weeks or a month apart sleeping at another woman’s house, only to come home, she’d tried to hide that.

And she’d tried to forget it.

Her relationship with Jared was fifteen years long. They’d grown up together. Well, he’d grown up less, she’d grown up more. But they’d shaped their lives around each other and she’d felt like…

Like he was the only person who knew everything about her. Things she’d never shared with her parents, never with her brother… He’d been there for.

And in the darkest time, he had been there. And she’d clung to that through every bump in their road.

But this time, he’d cheated. They hadn’t been separated before he’d found his way into another woman’s bed. She’d thought everything was fine. Great. Better than it had been for a long while, in fact.

And that was what hurt the most.

She gritted her teeth. Feeling angry. And she looked back over at her mystery cowboy.

Yeah, the thing was, he had probably cheated on her before. He had probably been cheating for their entire relationship, and she had just believed him every time he ever said that the only times he’d touched another person had been when they were on a break.

That had hurt. It always had. Because she had never…

He was her one and only.

And of all the silly things that had enraged her, the one that had fueled her down I-5 the whole way here, was… That.

Was the fact that she had seen a man that had made her feel things just with one look that no one, not even Jared, had ever made her feel before.

She’d felt that deep connection back then. Sitting there with a man who was tipsy off his sixth beer, which she’d paid for, while she looked at another man who incited some kind of fire in her stomach—it felt unfair. And in that period of time when she’d been in that house she used to share with Jared in a town that she wanted to leave desperately, she just decided she needed to… Go.

And she could stay in a motel until the rental date.

But she needed to be gone. And she had told herself that it wasn’t the vision of that man’s eyes that had propelled her. She had told herself that it wasn’t why, after she checked into the little Wine Country Motel on the edge of Gold Valley, she’d taken a shower and freshened up, put on some makeup for the first time in three weeks and a light, summer dress.

No, she had told herself that none of those things had anything to do with her mystery man.

And then, when she was bored and hungry and had bypassed any number of actual restaurants on the main street of town, walking to the Gold Valley Saloon, she had decided that there was no way she had any hope of seeing that man. Because what were the chances?

But then, in the back of her mind it was there. How people did like their regular bars. How it was possible.

But so not likely that, six months from the first time she had seen him, he would be there. Just happened to be there.

When she was free and unattached, angry and needing desperately to reclaim something… Or rather, claim it for the first time.

But there he was. There he was. And she was frozen to the spot in that Western bar, her feet grounded to the rustic wood floor. People were talking and laughing and dancing all around her. Country music was playing over the jukebox, and there was tension filling the air. Couples were everywhere. New and old, she imagined. Some who had forever. Some who were looking for a night.

But he was alone. Standing there at the back of the bar with the neon light from a beer sign shining over him like an unholy sign from the heavens. She knew it was him. Because she could never have confused him with anyone else. Sure, there were other handsome men in the room. But none of them made her feel like fire.

None of them made her feel like everything she’d ever known before was a pale, cardboard construct, and he might be the only thing that was real.

The only thing that could make her real.

She swallowed hard, walking over to the bar. The bartender was a handsome man, broad chested with a quick smile, tattoos up his brown forearms, a bright gold wedding band and a twinkle in his eye. “Can I help you?”

“Yeah. I… Whiskey. Please.”

“All right. Any particular kind?”

She didn’t know anything about whiskey. “Do you have a special kind that makes you brave?”

He grinned. “Even cheap stuff will do that. Just comes with a headache.”

“It’s my experience that just about everything in life comes with the headache,” she said, trying to smile. And then she felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up. Goose bumps broke out over her arms.

And the fire inside her flared.

That happened a split second before she heard a low, husky voice just behind her.

“It’s you, isn’t it?”

She turned, and there he was.

Excerpted from The True Cowboy of Sunset Ridge by Maisey Yates. Copyright © 2021 by Maisey Yates. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Buy Links: 

BookShop.org

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

~Cassie

2021 End of the Year Book Haul

I thought I would end my 2021 content with a book haul consisting of all the books I acquired from before Thanksgiving through the end of the year. All these books are from a used bookstore, a gift card my sister gave me, Christmas presents and the after Christmas sales. At the end I also share my December and January Book of the Month choices.

It’s something parents do every morning: Rachel Klein drops her daughter at the bus stop and heads into her day. But a cell phone call from an unknown number changes everything: it’s a woman on the line, informing her that she has Kylie bound and gagged in her back seat, and the only way Rachel will see her again is to follow her instructions exactly: pay a ransom, and find another child to abduct. This is no ordinary kidnapping: the caller is a mother herself, whose son has been taken, and if Rachel doesn’t do as she’s told, the boy will die. 

“You are not the first. And you will certainly not be the last.” Rachel is now part of The Chain, an unending and ingenious scheme that turns victims into criminals—and is making someone else very rich in the process. The rules are simple, the moral challenges impossible; find the money fast, find your victim, and then commit a horrible act you’d have thought yourself incapable of just twenty-four hours ago. 

But what the masterminds behind The Chain know is that parents will do anything for their children. It turns out that kidnapping is only the beginning.

Bleak House opens in the twilight of foggy London, where fog grips the city most densely in the Court of Chancery. The obscure case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, in which an inheritance is gradually devoured by legal costs, the romance of Esther Summerson and the secrets of her origin, the sleuthing of Detective Inspector Bucket and the fate of Jo the crossing-sweeper, these are some of the lives Dickens invokes to portray London society, rich and poor, as no other novelist has done. Bleak House, in its atmosphere, symbolism and magnificent bleak comedy, is often regarded as the best of Dickens. A ‘great Victorian novel’, it is so inventive in its competing plots and styles that it eludes interpretation.

The New York Times bestselling series that inspired the international hit video game: The Witcher.
For over a century, humans, dwarves, gnomes, and elves have lived together in relative peace. But times have changed, the uneasy peace is over, and now the races are fighting once again. The only good elf, it seems, is a dead elf.

Geralt of Rivia, the cunning assassin known as The Witcher, has been waiting for the birth of a prophesied child. This child has the power to change the world – for good, or for evil.

As the threat of war hangs over the land and the child is hunted for her extraordinary powers, it will become Geralt’s responsibility to protect them all – and the Witcher never accepts defeat.

The Witcher returns in this sequel to The Last Wish, as the inhabitants of his world become embroiled in a state of total war.

*No synopsis since this is the fifth book in the series.

Almost everything about Wallace is at odds with the Midwestern university town where he is working uneasily toward a biochem degree. An introverted young man from Alabama, black and queer, he has left behind his family without escaping the long shadows of his childhood. 

For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends—some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But over the course of a late-summer weekend, a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with an ostensibly straight, white classmate, conspire to fracture his defenses while exposing long-hidden currents of hostility and desire within their community.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way—and Sam Westing has left quite a will!

One fateful day, sixteen people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. To their surprise, the will turns out to be a contest, challenging the heirs to find out who among them is Westing’s murderer. Forging ahead, through blizzards, burglaries, and bombings, the game is on. Only two people hold all the clues. One of them is the Westing heir. The other is you!

Emily is a mess.

Emily Proudman just lost her acting agent, her job, and her apartment in one miserable day.

Emily is desperate.

Scott Denny, a successful and charismatic CEO, has a problem that neither his business acumen nor vast wealth can fix. Until he meets Emily.

Emily is perfect.

Scott offers Emily a summer job as a housekeeper on his remote, beautiful French estate. Enchanted by his lovely wife Nina, and his eccentric young daughter, Aurelia, Emily falls headlong into this oasis of wine-soaked days by the pool. But soon Emily realizes that Scott and Nina are hiding dangerous secrets, and if she doesn’t play along, the consequences could be deadly.

Superbly tense and oozing with atmosphere, Anna Downs’s debut is the perfect summer suspense, with the modern gothic feel of Ruth Ware and the morally complex family dynamics of Lisa Jewell.

Welcome to paradise…will you ever be able to leave?

From holy cup comes holy light;
The faithful hand sets world aright.
And in the Seven Martyrs’ sight,
Mere man shall end this endless night.

It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.

Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order could not stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains.

Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope: 

The Holy Grail.

Fromauthor Jay Kristoff comes Empire of the Vampire, the first illustrated volume of an astonishing new dark fantasy saga.

Bound by blood.
Tempted by desire.
Unleashed by destiny.

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.

*No synopsis since this is the last book in the trilogy.

How far would you go for happily ever after?

For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings…until she learns that the love of her life will marry another.

Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic but wicked Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing. 

But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game—and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after or the most exquisite tragedy….

The modern fantasy classic that Entertainment Weekly named an “All-Time Greatest Novel” and Newsweek hailed as a “Top 100 Book of All Time” is now available in a slipcased hardcover edition that includes a conversation with Lev Grossman, bestselling author of the Magicians trilogy. Fans, collectors, and new readers alike will appreciate this beautiful book that has been changing worlds for twenty years. 

Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal–including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world.

Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want.

But what Lyra doesn’t know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other…

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wife Upstairs comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set on an isolated Pacific island with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.

When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.

From a beloved author, a spare, powerful story of two men, Western contractors sent to work far from home, tasked with paving a road to the capital in a dangerous and largely lawless country. 

Four and Nine are partners, working for the same company, sent without passports to a nation recovering from ten years of civil war. Together, operating under pseudonyms and anonymous to potential kidnappers, they are given a new machine, the RS-80, and tasked with building a highway that connects the country’s far-flung villages with the capital. Four, nicknamed “The Clock,” is one of the highway’s most experienced operators, never falling short of his assigned schedule. He drives the RS-80, stopping only to sleep and eat the food provided by the company. But Nine is an agent of chaos: speeding ahead on his vehicle, chatting and joking with locals, eating at nearby bars and roadside food stands, he threatens the schedule, breaks protocol, and endangers the work that they must complete in time for a planned government parade. His every action draws Four’s ire, but when illness, corruption, and theft compromise their high-stakes mission, Four and Nine discover danger far greater than anything they could pose to one another.

We Were Liars meets Goodbye Days in this thrilling debut novel that sweeps readers away as they try to solve the mystery of what happened then to make Ellory so broken now.

It’s hard to find the truth beneath the lies you tell yourself.

Then: They were four—Bex, Jenni, Ellory, Ret. (Venus. Earth. Moon. Sun.) Electric, headstrong young women; Ellory’s whole solar system.

Now: Ellory is alone, her once inseparable group of friends torn apart by secrets, deception, and a shocking incident that changed their lives forever.

Then: Lazy summer days. A party. A beautiful boy. Ellory met Matthias and fell into the beginning of a spectacular, bright love.

Now: Ellory returns to Pine Brook to navigate senior year after a two-month suspension and summer away—no boyfriend, no friends. No going back. Tormented by some and sought out by others, troubled by a mysterious note-writer who won’t let Ellory forget, and consumed by guilt over her not entirely innocent role in everything and everyone she’s lost, Ellory finds that even in the present, the past is everywhere.

The path forward isn’t a straight line. And moving on will mean sorting the truth from the lies—the lies Ellory has been telling herself.

The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.

Yara Zgheib’s poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting, intimate journey of a young woman’s struggle to reclaim her life. Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.

Book of the Month

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins, writing as Erin Sterling, casts a spell with a spine-tingling romance full of wishes, witches, and hexes gone wrong.

Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two.

That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all.

Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.

The USA Today bestselling and Edgar Award–winning author of Never Look Back and If I Die Tonight plumbs the dark side of justice and the depths of diabolical revenge in this propulsive novel of psychological suspense that melds the driving narrative of Then She Was Gone with the breathtaking twists of The Chain and the violent fury of Kill Bill.

Just how far will a grieving mother go to right a tragic wrong?

Camille Gardner is a grieving—and angry—mother who, five years after her daughter’s death, is still obsessed with the privileged young man she believes to be responsible.

When her rash actions attract the attention of a secret group of women—the collective—Camille is drawn into a dark web where these mothers share their wildly different stories of loss as well as their desire for justice in a world where privilege denies accountability and perpetrators emerge unscathed. Fueled by mutual rage, these women orchestrate their own brand of justice through precise, anonymous, complexly plotted and perfectly executed revenge killings, with individual members completing a specific and integral task in each plan.

As Camille struggles to comprehend whether this is a role-playing exercise or terrifying reality, she must decide if these women are truly avenging angels or monsters. Becoming more deeply enmeshed in the group, Camille learns truths about the collective—and about herself—that she may not be able to survive. 

A feel-good, holiday-themed romantic comedy about identical twins who switch lives in the days leading up to Christmas–perfect for fans of Christina Lauren’s In a Holidaze and Josie Silver’s One Day in December.

All they want for Christmas is a different life.

When chef Charlie Goodwin gets hit on the head on the L.A. set of her reality baking show, she loses a lot more than consciousness; she also loses her ability to taste and smell–both critical to her success as show judge. Meanwhile, Charlie’s identical twin, Cass, is frantically trying to hold her own life together back in their quaint mountain hometown while running the family’s bustling bakery and dealing with her ex, who won’t get the memo that they’re over. 

With only days until Christmas, a desperate Charlie asks Cass to do something they haven’t done since they were kids: switch places. Looking for her own escape from reality, Cass agrees. But temporarily trading lives proves more complicated than they imagined, especially when rugged firefighter Jake Greenman and gorgeous physician’s assistant Miguel Rodriguez are thrown into the mix. Will the twins’ identity swap be a recipe for disaster, or does it have all the right ingredients for getting their lives back on track?

The first openly nonbinary contestant on America’s favorite cooking show falls for their clumsy competitor in this delicious romantic comedy debut “that is both fantastically fun and crack your heart wide open vulnerable.” (Rosie Danan, author of The Roommate)

Recently divorced and on the verge of bankruptcy, Dahlia Woodson is ready to reinvent herself on the popular reality competition show Chef’s Special. Too bad the first memorable move she makes is falling flat on her face, sending fish tacos flying—not quite the fresh start she was hoping for. Still, she’s focused on winning, until she meets someone she might want a future with more than she needs the prize money. 

After announcing their pronouns on national television, London Parker has enough on their mind without worrying about the klutzy competitor stationed in front of them. They’re there to prove the trolls—including a fellow contestant and their dad—wrong, and falling in love was never part of the plan.

As London and Dahlia get closer, reality starts to fall away. Goodbye, guilt about divorce, anxiety about uncertain futures, and stress from transphobia. Hello, hilarious shenanigans on set, wedding crashing, and spontaneous dips into the Pacific. But as the finale draws near, Dahlia and London’s steamy relationship starts to feel the heat both in and outside the kitchen—and they must figure out if they have the right ingredients for a happily ever after.

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue comes a new romantic comedy that will stop readers in their tracks…

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop is a magical, sexy, big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time.

~Cassie

December Weekly Kindle Haul #5

This will be quite a large haul because I threw all restraint out the window since there were so many good books on sale the last week of December. Well, December in general, which is how I ended up purchasing 25 books last month. I don’t mind buying books that I have had my eye on for awhile, especially when the prices are so good. Where I get into trouble is when I buy books that I wasn’t really interested in but the price is good and it sounds interesting so I get it. Going into the new year I hope to limit myself to ten books a month (down from 13) to combat myself buying books just to buy them. With the caveat that if it is something I have been waiting to go on sale that I will get it. Of course, none of this applies to books that I get that are free since I will continue to pick up any that sound good to me.

No synopsis since this is the last book in the trilogy.

Jaycee Lawrence has never had room in her life for anything less than perfection. Now charged with keeping the hottest contractor on television in one piece and on schedule, her life revolves around production times and remodeling nightmares—not to mention the very real issue of guarding her heart from falling for her very eligible boss. Weakness in this industry is not an option, and it’s never been one for Jaycee either. Then life starts throwing kinks and curve balls at her. With her family back home in jeopardy, what will she choose — the job and Derek or the life she left behind when it collapsed around her? 

Derek West never pictured himself running his own construction show, but working for the Home & Hearth Channel has become his Number One priority. On the job, he will settle for nothing less than 100% perfection, and that’s why he likes having Jaycee around. His focus and drive is only surpassed by hers, and he has learned to relax and work and let her take care of the rest of his life for him. However, when tragic news strikes for Jaycee back home, Derek soon realizes his reliance on her might run deeper than just schedules and take-out. Can he fight the growing attraction with the woman he always thought was just doing her job? Or is Derek in much deeper than he ever thought possible—too deep to go back and deep enough to drown if he doesn’t figure out how to stay strong and resist the feelings that are quickly becoming impossible to ignore? 

WHEN I’M WEAK is The Epic Sequel to MIRROR MIRROR

All I want for Christmas is Branson Ford.

I’ve been starry-eyed for my handsome boss since the day I started working for him at Empire Media. Problem is, he doesn’t see me as anything more than his sweet assistant.

I need help becoming a vixen. I need someone to teach me how to be sensual, how to be desired, and how to get the man I’ve pined over for the last two years. So, I enlist the help of my co-worker.

My very sexy, very charming co-worker, Hunter Johnstone.

Hunter loves the thrill of the chase. He’s spontaneous, honest, and just the man I need for a lesson in passion. When he suggests we start a fake relationship, I think he’s crazy, but who am I to question his jealousy-inducing ways?

His little trick works—maybe too well. The line between friends and lovers is blurred, but maybe that’s because it was never really there. And just as I’m about to start seeing clearly, my Christmas wish comes true.

FREE

Orphaned at seven, kicked out by his aunt and uncle at 16, Sergeant Emerson Myers gave up on family until General Augustus Reed chose him as his assistant, becoming as much a father-figure as a commanding officer. But when the General starts sending elite forces men home to marry his estranged daughters, Emerson’s torn between relief at not being given such an irrevocable mission and dismay the man never even considered him for the job.

Wyoming Smith has watched with a mixture of wonder and horror—and a little envy, if she’s honest—as her best friend Cass and all Cass’s sisters have married the warriors their father sent to them. Witnessing their happiness was hard enough when her life was on track, but now she’s lost her job and her apartment and she’s accepted Cass’s invitation to live at Two Willows, which means she has a front row seat to five loving marriages—while remaining all alone.

Emerson knows marriage isn’t for him and he’s ready to recommit to his career in the Army—but before he can, an explosion rips his life apart—and the General’s. 

Wyoming knows everything will change now that the General is coming home to Two Willows. Will she have to leave?
Or has the General had a bigger plan all along?

Cities tend to be glamorized by movies and Instagram pictures, but the truth is it’s harder to live in urban areas than expected. Stepping out onto the urine-soaked streets of San Francisco can be overwhelming, especially if you’re a slightly overweight, single, small-town girl. 

In order to cover the cost of over-priced city rent, twenty-three-year-old Mallory Bates is forced to do the responsible thing and ask a complete stranger to move in with her. Kaden Covington, her supposed Southern belle roommate, turns out to be a he rather than the she Mallory expected. Mallory has always been lacking in the boyfriend department, so she’s naïve to the signs of a budding relationship with Kaden until it’s too late to turn off the emotions. 

On top of an unconventional living situation, Mallory’s first client at her PR firm, Rachel Hines, is a demanding nightmare. 

Follow Mallory’s journey as she navigates through the tough “firsts” as an adult. 

$2.99

No synopsis since this is the second book in the trilogy.

Some things shouldn’t be left to chance…

Victoria Madaris is next on her great-grandmother’s matchmaking list—which suits her just fine. She’s laser-focused on her career and doesn’t have time to concentrate on her love life, too. Knowing that Mama Laverne is vetting unsuitable candidates—like rising US senator Roman Malone—makes things easy.

But Roman unexpectedly ticks all of Victoria’s boxes. The longtime family friend is outrageously sexy, and every time they meet, their chemistry crackles. Being a journalist, though, Victoria just doesn’t trust politicians. Plus, her matchmaker’s expert opinion keeps pointing to the charming and handsome Tanner Jamison. And everybody knows, Mama Laverne is never wrong. 

Suddenly, Victoria sees Tanner everywhere—as if by fate—but she doesn’t feel any attraction. Meanwhile, the more Victoria gets to know Roman, the harder it is to resist him. Her head is saying play it safe, but is her heart strong enough to go against her better judgment…and Mama Laverne’s?

$2.99

The Haunting of Hill House meets Get Out in this chilling YA psychological thriller and modern take on the classic haunted house story from New York Times bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson!

Marigold is running from ghosts. The phantoms of her old life keep haunting her, but a move with her newly blended family from their small California beach town to the embattled Midwestern city of Cedarville might be the fresh start she needs. Her mom has accepted a new job with the Sterling Foundation that comes with a free house, one that Mari now has to share with her bratty ten-year-old stepsister, Piper.

The renovated picture-perfect home on Maple Street, sitting between dilapidated houses, surrounded by wary neighbors has its . . . secrets. That’s only half the problem: household items vanish, doors open on their own, lights turn off, shadows walk past rooms, voices can be heard in the walls, and there’s a foul smell seeping through the vents only Mari seems to notice. Worse: Piper keeps talking about a friend who wants Mari gone.

But “running from ghosts” is just a metaphor, right?

As the house closes in, Mari learns that the danger isn’t limited to Maple Street. Cedarville has its secrets, too. And secrets always find their way through the cracks.

FREE

No strings attached? Wrong. So wrong. 

Layla moved to Baltimore in search of a fresh start. After too many years in a lackluster relationship, she’s ready to embrace her wild side. Casual is her new middle name and the last thing she wants or needs is a serious relationship. 

Finn and his best friend, Miguel are ALL IN on showing Layla a good time. After all, neither one of them is looking for love either. Or so they think. 

Until Finn falls for Layla and Miguel falls for Finn and Layla falls for…both men. Then it’s a wild side freefall as the three lovers try to make one plus one plus one equal the perfect match.

FREE

What’s a small town Christmas without a little romance?

Fake relationships, second chances, friends to lovers, and sexy brother’s best friends.

Mix in some small town gossip, meddling matchmakers, and Christmas magic and you have a perfect holiday escape.

Finding His Cheer by Claire Wilder
He loved and lost. She’s just lost. This Christmas, will love be the thing that finds them both?

Operation: Christmas Seduction by Megan Ryder
A sexy bartender seduces his crush of Christmas trees, gifts, and cookies. But when the season ends, will their romance too?

Second Chance Christmas: A Small Town Romance by Alexa Rivers
Breaking down outside her ex’s bar wasn’t part of the plan. Could a Christmas reunion reignite their old spark?

Love at Frost Sight by Bell Splendor
When two enemies come together, will it be steamy heat, or a melting iceberg of disaster?

Captivated by Danielle Pays
Needed: One fake boyfriend for the holidays. She never expected her brother’s best friend, aka her crush, to volunteer.

Twelve Days by Kate Stacy
She’s missing her usual holiday spirit, until a secret admirer gives her twelve days of Christmas she’ll never forget.

Christmas at La Villa Rosa by Rebecca Barton
Two creatives clashing on a joint project…surely it’s too cold to shut each other out, especially on Christmas Eve?

Her Second Chance Christmas by Kaci Rose
Her best friend’s Christmas wedding. A family reunion and the man she never thought she’d see again.

Kiss Me Under the Mistletoe by Dawn Luedecke
The only person who can put Sexy Santa in his place is a pain in the butt, and the perfect Mrs. Claus.

Sally Hepworth, the author of The Mother-In-Law delivers a knock-out of a novel about the lies that bind two sisters in The Good Sister.

There’s only been one time that Rose couldn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be…dangerous.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden.

The multimillion-copy New York Times bestselling author B.A. Paris returns to her heartland of gripping psychological suspense in The Therapist–a powerful tale of a house that holds a shocking secret.

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbors are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…

The first book in a new YA fantasy duology from a bestselling genre-expanding master, about a teenager who embarks on a quest to protect the world from an alternate universe where magic abounds and history has been rewritten.

After Jonathan Lambshead’s elusive grandfather dies, the recently orphaned teenager inherits the family mansion—and its contents. Jonathan soon discovers that the mansion’s basement holds more than just oddities: three doors serve as portals, with one leading to an alt-Earth called Aurora, where magic abounds, history has been re-written, and an occult dictator called Aleister Crowley leads an army pillaging alt-Europe. Jonathan learns of his destiny as a member of The Order, a secret society devoted to keeping our world separate from Aurora, and embarks on an epic quest to protect Earth from Crowley’s dark magic.

Over the course of the duology, Jonathan uncovers more of the worlds outside of our own, the magic that permeates them, his own destiny, and the secrets buried in his family history.

In her quickly gentrifying rural lake town Jade sees recent events only her encyclopedic knowledge of horror films could have prepared her for

Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horror movies…especially the ones where a masked killer seeks revenge on a world that wronged them. And Jade narrates the quirky history of Proofrock as if it is one of those movies. But when blood actually starts to spill into the waters of Indian Lake, she pulls us into her dizzying, encyclopedic mind of blood and masked murderers, and predicts exactly how the plot will unfold.

Yet, even as Jade drags us into her dark fever dream, a surprising and intimate portrait emerges… a portrait of the scared and traumatized little girl beneath the Jason Voorhees mask: angry, yes, but also a girl who easily cries, fiercely loves, and desperately wants a home. A girl whose feelings are too big for her body.

My Heart Is a Chainsaw is her story, her homage to horror and revenge and triumph.

Written in dead letters… and covered in blood!

Demonic possession! Haunted condominiums! Murderous babies! Man-eating moths! No plot was too ludicrous, no cover art too appalling, no evil too despicable for the Paperbacks From Hell.

Where did they come from? Where did they go? Horror author Grady Hendrix risks his soul and sanity (not to mention yours) to relate the true, untold story of the Paperbacks From Hell.

Shocking story summaries! Incredible cover art! And true tales of writers, artists, and publishers who violated every literary law but one: never be boring. All this awaits, if you dare experience the Paperbacks From Hell.

$2.99. I watched a documentary on this case a few years ago and it has stuck with me ever since.

Immortalized in the spellbinding documentary Dear Zachary, this angry, raw, and brutally honest memoir of murder and loss chronicles a system’s failure to prevent the death of a child. 

In November 2001, the body of a young doctor named Andrew Bagby was discovered in Keystone State Park outside Latrobe, Pennsylvania, five bullet wounds in his face, chest, buttocks, and the back of the head. For parents Dave and Kate, the pain was unbearable—but Andrew’s murder was only the first in a string of tragic events. 

The chief suspect for Andrew’s murder was his ex-girlfriend Shirley Turner—also a doctor. Obsessive and unstable, Shirley Turner lied to the police and fled to her family home in Newfoundland before she could be arrested. While fending off extradition efforts by U.S. law enforcement, she announced she was pregnant with Andrew’s son, Zachary. The Bagbys—hoping to gain custody of Zachary—moved to Newfoundland and began a long, drawn-out battle in court and with Canadian social services to protect their grandson from the woman who had almost certainly murdered their son. Then, in August 2003, Shirley Turner killed herself and the one-year-old Zachary by jumping into the Atlantic Ocean. 

DANCE WITH THE DEVIL is a eulogy for a dead son, an elegy for lives cut tragically short, and a castigation of a broken system.

$3.99

By chance, John and Jean–one English, the other French–meet in a provincial railway station. Their resemblance to each other is uncanny, and they spend the next few hours talking and drinking – until at last John falls into a drunken stupor. It’s to be his last carefree moment, for when he wakes, Jean has stolen his identity and disappeared. So the Englishman steps into the Frenchman’s shoes, and faces a variety of perplexing roles – as owner of a chateau, director of a failing business, head of a fractious family, and master of nothing.

Gripping and complex, The Scapegoat is a masterful exploration of doubling and identity, and of the dark side of the self.

$1.99

A spell-binding retelling of The Nutcracker, filled with enchanted toys, decadent balls, fierce feminine friendships and a forbidden romance. For fans of The ToymakersCaraval and The Bear and the Nightingale.

There’s nothing Marietta Stelle loves more than ballet, but after Christmas, her dreams will be over as she is obligated to take her place in Edwardian society. While she is chafing against such suffocating traditions, a mysterious man purchases the neighbouring townhouse. Dr Drosselmeier is a charming but calculating figure who wins over the rest of the Stelle family with his enchanting toys and wondrous mechanisms. 

When Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate set for Marietta’s final ballet performance, she discovers it carries a magic all of its own. On the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, she is transported to a snowy forest, where she encounters danger at every turn: ice giants, shadow goblins and the shrieking mist all lurk amidst the firs and frozen waterfalls and ice cliffs. After being rescued by the butterscotch-eyed captain of the king’s guard, she is escorted to the frozen sugar palace. At once, Marietta is enchanted by this glittering world of glamorous gowns, gingerbread houses, miniature reindeer and the most delicious confectionary. 

But all is not as it seems and Marietta is soon trapped in the sumptuous palace by the sadistic King Gelum, who claims her as his own. She is confined to a gilded prison with his other pets; Dellara, whose words are as sharp as her teeth, and Pirlipata, a princess from another land. Marietta must forge an alliance with the two women to carve a way free from this sugar-coated but treacherous world and back home to follow her dreams. Yet in a hedonistic world brimming with rebellion and a forbidden romance that risks everything, such a path will never be easy.

Hunter

I didn’t mean to star in a sex tape, okay?
It was just one of those unexplainable things. Like Stonehenge, Police Academy 2, and morning glory clouds.
It just happened.
Now my ball-busting father is sentencing me to six months of celibacy, sobriety, and morbid boredom under the roof of Boston’s nerdiest girl alive, Sailor Brennan.
The virginal archer is supposed to babysit my ass while I learn to take my place in Royal Pipelines, my family’s oil company.
Little does she know, that’s not the only pipe I’ll be laying…

Sailor
I didn’t want this gig, okay?
But the deal was too sweet to walk away from.
I needed the public endorsement; Hunter needed a nanny.
Besides, what’s six months in the grand scheme of things?
It’s not like I’m in danger of falling in love with the appallingly gorgeous, charismatic gazillionaire who happens to be one of Boston’s most eligible bachelors.
No. I will remain immune to Hunter Fitzpatrick’s charm.
Even at the cost of losing everything I have.
Even at the cost of burning down his kingdom.

FREE

Who knew sleeping with the enemy could be this fun? 

Was the one night stand a good idea? 

Well, no. Probably not in retrospect. 

In my defense I had just moved back into my grandparent’s house, I’d lost my dream job, and a guy on Tinder had stood me up. It was like life had suddenly stamped ‘LOSER’ on my forehead. 

So when the guy behind the bar started giving me THE look…you know, the one that promised I’d be screaming his name into the wee hours of the morning? When that guy also has the perfect amount of scruff on his chiseled chin, biceps bulging out of his t-shirt, and a cocky grin you knew he’d earned in the sack…when he gives you that look, you don’t bother to figure out what your six degrees of separation are. You jump on that horse and ride it! 

Pun fully and completely intended. And accurate by the way. 

I fully admit to feeling sorry for myself and acting impulsively, but by the time I’d figured out WHO the bartender was, I was already falling for him.

FREE

What would you give up for the one who makes you whole? 

Jayne
I’m serving a five-year sentence as my mother’s puppet.
She dangles the only thing I want in front of me and I have no choice but to obey.
My father’s will states that I take possession of our family beach house on my 25th birthday.
I have six short weeks left to toe the line then the only thing I’ve ever wanted becomes mine and I’m free.
But then they come into the picture.
Two men. Brothers.
My new sexy and controlling bosses.
And suddenly, there’s more to want in this life.
But will having them cost me everything?

Declan and Lucas
Our father is living with a narcissistic gold digger.
And her daughter just came to work for us.
She doesn’t know who we are, but we know who she is.
We’ll use her to find out what we need to know about her mother.
But then she walks into our office and our plans change.
She’s everything we want and we’re more than willing to share.
Her little straight and narrow life is about to take a detour because we’re in the driver’s seat and we’re taking control.
She thinks she knows where her comfort zone ends… she’s about to find out how very wrong she is.

FREE

I’ve been sent into the lair of the beast….

It should be a dream assignment—leave my boring day-to-day routine and travel to a seaside mansion to interview superstar author Jack R. R. Bestia. Who wouldn’t want that?

Me, that’s who.

He has a reputation for being reclusive and temperamental, but that’s not why I’m leery of the assignment. It’s because the first (and last) time I met Jack… well, let’s just say I didn’t make a good impression.

When I get to the mansion—which is more like a secluded castle—things don’t go much better. I’m sure he’s going to throw me out entirely. The only way I manage to squeak in is by signing a massive non-disclosure agreement. And I soon figure out why.

Jack has a secret—and it’s a big one.

Now that iron-clad contract I signed means I have to stay here until his long-overdue book is finished—and he’s not going to make it easy.

Jack acts every bit as beastly as the tabloids claimed, and I feel like a fairytale princess trapped in his tower. But every once in a while I get a glimpse of the charming (not to mention super sexy) man beneath the growly exterior and I wonder… could this beast be tamed?

Bookworm and the Beast is a full-length hot romantic comedy take on the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. It’s a standalone enemies-to-lovers, forced proximity, slow burn romance with no cheating or cliffhangers but plenty of humor and heart.

FREE

Callie can’t resist the advertisement for a ranch manager in Montana. Only thing is, it also stipulates marriage. Down on her luck with more debt than she can manage after the death of her parents in a vehicle accident, she takes the plunge and commits for twelve months. 

Chance is sick of the high life he’s led for years as a top International Bull Rider. The glitz and glamour aren’t what he wants. After an accident leaves him unable to return to the tour, he decides now is the time to do what his heart has been yearning for – marry a down to earth country girl and raise bulls on his ranch, with the hope of bringing his brothers back together. 

Little did he know that an advertisement would bring him a sassy talking Australian bride to turn his world up side down… Will Callie return home after her contract is up, or can Chance convince her to say I do forever?

~Cassie

Stitching Saturday 1.1.22

Happy first of the year! And I love that it falls on a Saturday and I get to share all my stitching progress that I’ve made the past couple of weeks since I last showed my projects. I will share my WIP update first and then share my plans for the next week. I spent the week of Christmas finishing up the shawl I made my Mom. I didn’t completely read through the pattern and I thought the border was only 7 rows but it ended up being 18 rows and I had over 500 stitches on the needles so it was a lot of knitting. But it was so worth it and it came out beautifully. Although, I had to hurry and wrap it so I didn’t manage to get a picture. Maybe in the future I will get one to share with you. It is the Campfire Cozy by Espace Tricot.

WIP Update

I worked on this December 18 and in the car on Christmas plus a little bit in the mornings the last few days of last year. I actually have it in the awesome Clue bag that I got for Christmas and it is staying in my purse so I can put stitches in it while I’m out and about and waiting in the school pick up lines.

I only stitched on this a little bit on Christmas Eve. I’m excited to start on the Owl (my favorite animal) this year.

I have such a hard time seeing on this fabric which is weird since 28 ct is my sweet spot. For Christmas my husband got me the side table that I’ve been eyeing for awhile and now I’m trying to figure out what light I want for my stitching. I’m hopeful that the new light will make this project move a lot faster.

This was a new start and I really loved working on this. It doesn’t look like it but this is 242 stitches.

I’m making this for my husband since Evil Dead is his favorite movie.

This one is frustrating because all the progress on the bottom motif needs to be frogged plus some of what I had previously done. I miscounted where the flower is shooting off to the left and it has thrown the whole motif off. I did actually spend some time frogging this so when I do pick it back up again I won’t have that much left to do.

This is another project that I had to rip back on. For some incredibly frustrating reason I started this with the fabric oriented the wrong way. I can’t believe I did that. I had the word For and had just started the N for nothing before I realized what I did.

*Yesterday I did one row on my Shawlography and there’s no point showing it because you can’t tell any difference with it.

Plans

This was one of my projects called in WIPGO (a Facebook group) and I am aiming to finish it. It will be my morning stitch until I’m done with it and my focus piece for today.

This is my second piece called for WIPGO and this will stay in my rotation until I finish it. Also, sorry for the cat hair. I don’t let my cats hang out on my projects so I’m confused why there is so much on this one!

This is my year long focus piece. I don’t have a picture of my small amount of progress on this but you will be seeing it every week for months to come. I need 40 stitches a day to finish it this year but I will be working on this every Monday and possibly another day during the week to get my stitches in. I’m also using this for the “bike around Germany” challenge in the Full Coverage Fanatics Facebook group.

I will start stitching on this after I get 120 stitches on Children by a Stream. I am using this for two back to back challenges for the Bike Around Germany challenge so this will stay in my rotation until I get 940 stitches on it.

This is my last project for the week. If you have been around for awhile you will know my ongoing battle with this project. I have frogged this hat twice because for some reason my brain really struggles with the part where you turn the work. I don’t know why but I’m hopefully that the third time is the charm.

~Cassie

Blog Tour: Cry Wolf by Hans Rosenfeldt

Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing for providing all info and graphics for this post.

CRY WOLF

Author: Hans Rosenfeldt

ISBN: 9781335425713

Publication Date: December 28, 2021

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Book Summary:

The first standalone Swedish crime novel by Hans Rosenfeldt, creator of the TV series The Bridge as well as Netflix’s Emmy-winning Marcella.

A dead wolf. A drug deal gone wrong. A female assassin of rarely seen skill. Hannah Wester, a policewoman in the remote northern town of Haparanda, finds herself on the precipice of chaos.

When human remains are found in the stomach of a dead wolf, Hannah knows that this summer won’t be like any other. The remains are linked to a bloody drug deal across the border in Finland. But how did the victim end up in the woods outside of Haparanda? And where have the drugs and money gone?

Hannah and her colleagues leave no stone unturned. But time is scarce and they aren’t the only ones looking. When the secretive and deadly Katja shows up, unexpected and brutal events start to pile up. In just a few days, life in Haparanda is turned upside down. Not least for Hannah, who is finally forced to confront her own past.

Author Bio: 

Hans Rosenfeldt is a Swedish screenwriter, radio presenter, novelist and actor. He created the Scandinavian series The Bridge, which is broadcast in more than 170 countries, as well as the ITV/Netflix series Marcella

Social Links:

Author Website – none

Instagram: @hansrosenfeldtofficial

Facebook: @hjorthrosenfeldt

Goodreads

Excerpt

Everything had gone according to plan.

First their arrival.

Be the first in place, park the jeep and black Mercedes be-side each other on a rutted clearing in the middle of the forest, used by lumber trucks and harvesters for loading and U-turns, then position the coolers to face the narrow forest road they’d just come down. The ruts beneath them, the nocturnal birdsong around them, the only thing besides absolute silence until the sound of engines announced the arrival of the Finns.

A Volvo XC90, also black, drove up. Vadim watched as Artjom and Michail took their weapons and left the Mercedes, while he and Ljuba climbed out of their jeep. He liked Ljuba, thought she liked him, too. They’d gone out for a beer together a few times, and when they asked her who she wanted to drive with, she’d chosen him. For a moment he considered telling her to wait in the car, take cover, say he had a premonition this might go wrong. But if he did that, what would they do afterwards?

Run away together? Live happily ever after?

That would be impossible once she knew what had happened. She’d never betray Valerij; she didn’t like him that much, he was sure of it. So he said nothing.

The Volvo stopped a few meters in front of them, the engine switched off, the doors opened and four men stepped out. All of them armed. Looked around suspiciously as they fanned out.

Everything was still.

The calm before the storm.

The Finnish leader, a large man with a buzz cut and a tribal tattoo wrapped around one eye, nodded to the smallest of the four Finns, who holstered his gun, walked behind the Volvo and opened the trunk. Vadim also backed up a few steps to un-lock his jeep’s trunk.

So far everything was going according to their plan.

Time for his plan.

A bullet from a rifle with a silencer on it entered just beneath the eye of the large Finn closest to the car. The sudden explosion of bone, blood, and brain matter as the projectile made its way through the back of his head made the others react instinctively.

Everyone started shooting at the same time.

Everyone except Vadim, who threw himself behind the shelter of the jeep.

The man with the tattoo on his face roared loudly, hugged his trigger, and immediately took down Michail with four or five shots to the chest. Artyom answered with gunfire. The tattooed man was hit by two bullets, staggered back, but re-gained his balance and turned his weapon on Artyom, who threw himself behind the cover of the Mercedes, but it was too late. Several bullets hit his legs from the hip down. Shrieking in pain, he landed on dry gravel. The tattooed man continued bleeding, roaring, and shooting as he moved toward the Volvo, determined to make it out of here alive. But a second later he fell to his knees gurgling, let go of his weapon and pressed his hands to what was left of his neck.

Somewhere more shots were fired, more screams could be heard.

Artjom slid up into a sitting position, while trying to stop the blood that gushed from his thigh in the same rhythm as his racing heartbeat. Then another series of shots, and he went still, his gaze turning from desperation to emptiness, his lips forming some soundless word before his head slumped onto his chest.

The third Finn had thrown himself into the cover of a shallow ditch with a good view beneath the parked cars. A round of concentrated fire from his semi-automatic had hit Artjom in the back. Vadim realized that he, too, must be visible and flung himself around the jeep to hide behind one of its large wheels. When he got to the side of the car, he saw the smallest of the four Finns lying dead on the ground.

Ljuba wasn’t visible.

Another round of shots sounded from the ditch at the forest edge and bullets hit the metal on the back of the wheel, puncturing the tire. One went through the rubber and hit him in the side, just above his butt. The pain was a white-hot flash through his body. He closed his eyes, swallowed a scream, leaned his forehead against his knees and made himself as small as he could. As he slowly let the air in his lungs out again, he realized the gunfire had ceased.

It was silent. Completely silent.

No movement, no voices, no roar of pain or betrayal, no bird-song, nothing. As if the very place itself were holding its breath.

He peeked out carefully from behind the jeep.

Still silent. And still.

Slowly, slowly he raised his head for a better view. The sun hung below the trees, but still above the horizon; the scene in front of him was bathed in that particular soft, warm light of the midnight sun.

He rose cautiously to his feet. A bullet was still lodged in his muscle and tissue, but it didn’t seem to have damaged any vital organs. He pressed his hand to the wound. Blood, but no more than he could stop with a compress.

“Ljuba?”

Ljuba was leaning against the rear bumper of the Finn’s car, breathing shallowly, the front of her gray T-shirt beneath her jacket soaked in blood, the gun still in her right hand. Vadim assessed the damage. The blood was running out at a steady rate, so it hadn’t nicked an artery. No air bubbles, so her lungs were probably intact. She might very well survive.

“Who shot us?” she asked, out of breath, grabbing Vadim’s jacket with a bloody hand. “Who the fuck started shooting?”

“He’s with us.”

“What? What do you mean with us? Who is he?”

“Come on.”

He gently took the gun away from her, pushed it into his pocket before standing up, leaned forward and helped her to her feet. She grimaced from the pain of exertion but managed to stand. With his arm around her waist and her arm around his shoulders, they walked out into the open area between the cars. When they reached the rise where the tattooed Finn had fallen, Vadim stopped, gently removed Ljuba’s arm, released his supportive grip from around her waist, and backed away with two large steps.

“I’m sorry…”

Ljuba’s gaze was uncomprehending at first, but she soon realized what was happening, why he’d brought her here. Seconds later a bullet pierced her temple and she was thrown to the ground.

Vadim pressed his hand to the wound on his lower back and stretched, let out a deep sigh.

In the end, everything had gone according to plan.

Excerpted from Cry Wolf by Hans Rosenfeldt, Copyright © 2022 by Hans Rosenfeldt. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Buy Links: 

BookShop.org

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

~Cassie