Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Book Review: Driven

By Sara Steven

It was only for a couple of minutes, while dropping Noah off at nursery. Little did Melanie realize that leaving her sleeping son in the car would end up being the biggest regret of her life.

A teenage prank turns sour

For teenager Woody, joyriding with his new friend helps alleviate the tedium of a life of poverty and boredom. This isn’t what he wants to do with his life but for now, he feels accepted. Except on this occasion, his actions have consequences that could change his life forever. Is it too late to turn his life around?

How far would you go to save those you love?

While DI Paton is on the case of the missing child, he is soon drawn into a web of deception that hits dangerously close to home. He quickly finds himself torn in two, not knowing which way to turn: save his career or his family? Will he be able to crack the case before he himself cracks? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Once I started reading Driven, I couldn’t stop! From the get go, I’d become instantly hooked after discovering that Melanie’s son, Louie, had been kidnapped. Every decision that is made elicited some type of emotional response from me: fear. Hope. Dread. Anger. I wasn’t entirely sure how Louie’s story would progress, and was pretty amazed and later, shocked at what comes from his situation. I could understand the emotions that fed into everything, but at the same time, as a mother, I couldn’t even fathom not making the right choice when it comes to someone else’s child. 

Woody embodied much of what I can remember from my teenage youth. There were many of us who didn’t always make the best choices, and while the same can be said about Woody, at the heart of him is goodness. Unfortunately, he’s made some pretty bad choices and much of it is tied to Louie’s wellbeing. There were plenty of moments where I’d cheer Woody on when he was oh so close to finding out the truth about his grandfather’s neighbor, but then something would get thrown into the mix and derail him. It was a really great way to add even more suspense to a situation that left the reader questioning next steps. What is in store and coming for Woody and the other characters?!?

I loved, LOVED Tommy. Paton’s son really was one of the best characters in this story. I loved his interactions with his dad, with his babysitter–even the stray cat he managed to find in his dad’s shed were really great endearing moments that made me instantly like him. It’s obvious that when push comes to shove, the “baddies” are really no match for his quick thinking and the years of training he’s gleaned from his father. On that thread, the same endearing qualities could be found in Paton, too. He’s doing his absolute best to fix the wrongs he’s been tasked to repair, while also trying to hold his family together, too. It was interesting to walk along with him as he works on figuring out the various clues in order to solve not one, but multiple cases!

This is my first venture into the DI Patton Investigates series, but it won’t be my last. I appreciate a good crime mystery novel, and Driven had it all and then some! A seriously good, riveting, five-star experience!

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK * Amazon US

We are thrilled to be introducing DI Dave Paton and his son Tommy, the stars of the first novel in Kerena Swan’s new series, to the world. Before coming to Hobeck, Kerena had published three novels, Dying To See You, Scared to Breatheand Who’s There? and has built a solid fan base around her writing career thus far. She is a juggler extraordinaire: driving forward a successful care business she runs with her husband yet finding time to write. She loves to write, here and there and everywhere when she’s not working. We don’t know how she does it but we are glad that she does! Kerena talks about her writing, her influences and how she came to Hobeck in this video.

Visit Kerena online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter​


Giveaway – Win a paperback copy of Blood Loss by Kerena Swan (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within seven days, then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winner's information. This will passed to the giveaway organizer and used only for fulfillment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  We are not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.


a Rafflecopter giveaway 


Giveaway ends December 7th.

 
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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Personal Assistant

Today we are celebrating the publication of Kimberly Belle's latest suspense thriller, The Personal Assistant. Melissa can't stop talking about how great this novel is and she sang its praises in her review. Thanks to Emi Battaglia PR and Park Row Books, we have TWO copies to give away!

When Alex first began posting unscripted family moments and motivational messages online, she had no intention of becoming an influencer. Overnight it seemed she’d amassed a huge following, and her hobby became a full-time job—one that was impossible to manage without her sharp-as-a-tack personal assistant, AC.

But all the good-will of her followers turns toxic when one controversial post goes viral in the worst possible way. Alex reaches out to AC for damage control, but her assistant has gone silent. This young woman Alex trusted with all her secrets, who had access to her personal information and front row seats to the pressure points in her marriage and family life, is now missing and the police are looking to Alex and her husband for answers. As Alex digs into AC’s identity – and a woman is found murdered – she’ll find the greatest threat isn’t online, but in her own living room.

Written in alternating perspectives between Alex, her husband, and the mysterious AC, this juicy cat and mouse story will keep you guessing till the very end. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

"A story that pulses with suspenseful twists"
--Kaira Rouda, bestselling author of The Next Wife

"I never knew who to trust."
--Sally Hepworth, bestselling author of The Younger Wife

"Unputdownable and impossible to forget"
--Julie Clark, bestselling author of The Last Flight

Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of eight novels, including the The Personal Assistant, The Marriage Lie, a Goodreads Choice Awards semifinalist for Best Mystery & Thriller, and the #1 co-authored Audible Original, Young Rich Widows. Her books have been published in some 20+ languages and have been optioned for film and television. A proud graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. (Bio adapted from Kimberly's website.)

Visit Kimberly online:
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How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

Giveaway ends December 4th at midnight EST.

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Monday, November 28, 2022

Book Review: A Sister's Promise




By Sara Steven

Sisters Laura and Penny were once close, bonded together after the early death of their mother. Laura always had her younger sister’s back until one day everything changed and Penny disappeared.

Twenty years later Laura finds herself alone and at a crossroad in her life; questioning her marriage and her future.

Meanwhile Penny has spent her whole life running away from her problems until one day she is forced to stop and face the shocking truth.

When Penny turns up on Laura’s doorstep late one stormy night, holding the hand of a shivering little girl, Laura is immediately suspicious of her sister’s motives. Just what does Penny want and who is this little girl?

Penny carries a devastating secret that will test their bond as sisters and is forced to make an impossible choice.

Can the sisters find it within their hearts to forgive and unite before it’s too late? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

A Sister’s Promise was such an emotional experience for me. There were several scenes that left me teary-eyed, particularly the ones between Laura and Penny. Both women haven’t seen one another in twenty years, due to a fight that led to their falling out. It’s obvious that perceptions are based on that period of time, which is why it’s so hard for Laura to believe that Penny has grown up and on top of that, she has her own child to provide for. 
The same can be said for how Penny views Laura. Laura had always been the one who always had it together, yet Penny discovers that her sister is dealing with a lot of contention within her own relationships. Both characters need to own up to the secrets of the last two decades before they even have a chance of reconciliation. On top of that are other issues that Penny is dealing with, which could potentially mean a massive change in not only their relationship, but in the way they both view the world and how they manage within it. 

I really loved the two opposing characteristics between the sisters. Laura grounds Penny, and Penny gives Laura strength. They’re both a huge support system to the other, even when there are moments when Laura leans too much on platitudes and won’t let Penny be, and Penny doesn’t take life as seriously as Laura thinks Penny should. While this book focuses a lot on the relationships between family and loved ones, the main focus is the sisterly bonds that both women need to rely and depend on to get through their time of need. 

While I had a pretty good idea of how the story would end, it still hit me pretty hard. Something I’d learned a while back in one of my college courses was how many of us have been taught not to embrace or at a much lesser level, come to better understand the circle of life and what it can mean. It can be incredibly painful and frightening, which was described well within A Sister’s Promise, but there were plenty of moments that showcased the importance of celebrating a life lived, and how to deal with loss in a respectful way. It was a touching experience, and one I won’t forget. A definite five-star read.

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK * Amazon US

Caroline Finnerty is an Irish author of heart-wrenching family dramas and has compiled a non-fiction charity anthology. She has been shortlisted for several short-story awards and lives in County Kildare with her husband and four young children.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Book Review: Let's Not Be Friends

 

By Sara Steven

City girl Sophie has married the prince (or landed gentry - close enough), moved to his pile (which is more accurate a description than she’d anticipated) and is set to live happily ever after - until she finds the other half of her perfect life in the stables with the stable girl, and they’re definitely not grooming the horses.

Shocked and appalled, Sophie’s no happier to learn that she’s supposed to 'just get on with it'. After all, according to her mother-in-law, she got the title . . . they even overlooked her family’s ‘new money’ status.

What a lovely family she’s married into! But what’s a girl to do when she’s still in love? Make it work or leg it as fast as she can? Either way, the mother-in-law will not be coming to tea! (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Throughout most of Let’s Not Be Friends, I would often think, “Wow, Sophie is a stronger person than I could ever be.” When she discovers her husband has cheated on her, instead of hightailing it out of there and saying goodbye to him as soon as possible, she makes a plan to work on the marriage and try to salvage it. There are ground rules she puts in place, all reasonable ones, and when that fails is when the real work begins. 

So much of it is like she’s starting over, which can be really hard to do. Sophie leans on her parents for help, she manages to get back into the line of work she’d done before she married her husband, and the lifestyle she’s been used to reverts back to the way she lived before the gentry. In some ways, there can be comfort in familiar routines, but it is still real work when trying to rediscover who you are and what makes you tick. I appreciated seeing that struggle and watching Sophie find her way. I also appreciated seeing her do that as much as possible all on her own.

Both the estranged husband and the mother-in-law are a real piece of work. You wonder how Sophie could have gotten sucked into a train wreck like that, but it reminded me that so many of us often find ourselves in similar situations, where we aren’t capable of really seeing something for what it really is until it’s too late. There’s a certain part in the book where “the prince” decides to utilize Sophie’s professional services as a means in trying to prove a point to her–that, when she made the choice to walk away, she left something good and worthwhile. But it’s obvious there are a few tricks up his sleeve, and in an effort to try to get her back, he only manages to push her away even more. And for good reason!

I loved seeing the transitions for everyone involved in Let’s Not Be Friends: Sophie finding herself again; the unexpected friendship she forms with Elliot, a man who has also been scorned in love before and has a hard time trusting anyone; the unruly coworker of Sophie’s who attempts to sabotage her, only later becoming a trusted ally, and other characters who are asking for second chances, ways to redeem themselves, or looking for a means to evolve and become better characters. It was an enjoyable five-star read, and one I’d highly recommend!

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK

Phoebe MacLeod is the author of several popular laugh-out-loud romantic comedies. She mainly sets her books in her home county of Kent and her first new title for Boldwood will be published in November 2022. They will also be republishing her existing titles from August this year.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Kaya Quinsey Holt's new title...plus a book giveaway


We're pleased to have Kaya Quinsey Holt back at CLC today. Her latest novel, Maybe in Monaco, released about a month ago and she's here to talk about it today. She also told us about a recent exciting event in her life. Kaya has one ebook to share with a lucky reader!

Kaya Quinsey Holt is a bestselling author of romance and women’s fiction. Her books have sold worldwide, have been translated into multiple languages, and adapted for audiobooks. From house hunting in the South of France to weddings in Positano, Kaya’s books offer a romantic escape from day to day life. (Bio courtesy of Kaya's website.)

Visit Kaya online:
Website * Twitter * Instagram

Synopsis:
Charlotte Levant left Monaco ten years ago in order to allow the man she loved to pursue his dream but she left with more than a broken heart. Only a select few knew that she gave up her baby. Facing a personal crisis, Charlotte returns to Monaco, thinking she can quietly sneak back without a fuss. But it’s hard to keep a secret in Monaco.

For recently retired Formula One driver Freddie Ridgeport, losing Charlotte was more painful than a car crash, but he quickly found company among his fans. Now back in Monaco, the responsibility of caring for nine-year-old Nicholas has been thrust upon him after he is unexpectedly named as the legal guardian in a will.

Will fate finally reunite these star-crossed lovers? And if so, can the truth make up for a ten-year-long secret that runs deeper than the adjacent Mediterranean sea?

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
Whenever someone tells me that reading my books has made them happy, it instantly feels like my favorite compliment at that moment. My goal for my books is to bring readers joy--hopefully equivalent to the joy that I feel while writing them. A reviewer recently said that Maybe in Monaco made her "smile and cry" which made me particularly pleased, because it meant they were invested in the characters and their journeys the same way that I am.

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing Maybe in Monaco?
Finding the voices of multiple, very different and distinct characters was a fun challenge. I have never written a book with so many character perspectives, let alone characters with such different stories. The biggest reward with this book is knowing that I'll get to continue with the characters as I write the sequel, A Monaco Minute, which features an all-grown-up Nicholas as he embarks on his own quest for love. 

If Maybe in Monaco were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
Such a great question! Hmm... I would have to say Dakota Johnson would play Charlotte and Chace Crawford would play Freddie.

Which TV series are you currently binge watching?
Workin' Moms! I became a mama myself in October 2022 so it's a lot of fun watching the challenges the characters face.

What are you most thankful for this year?
My beautiful baby boy, Leo, was born in October and I could not be more grateful. I dedicated Maybe in Monaco to him.

If we were to visit you right now, what are some places you would take us to see?
Since the readers of this blog are book fans, I would suggest The Yorkville Library, which is the oldest library in Toronto (also one of the most beautiful) and is a designated heritage site. The AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) has stunning paintings and sculptures by my favorite artists, Claude Monet and Henri Matisse, and also houses an impressive collection of Group of Seven paintings. For an extended visit, the perfect day-trip away would be Niagara-on-the-Lake. Known for its wineries, glasses of chardonnay would be enjoyed in sun-dappled vineyards before we would pop into the shops of the absolutely stunning historic downtown. 

Thanks to Kaya for visiting with us and for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

Giveaway ends November 27th at midnight EST.

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Monday, November 21, 2022

Book Review: The Wrong Ghost



By Sara Steven

When Beatrice Beaumont loses her husband, George, she finds herself raising their young daughter alone in the ancestral home, Ketton Hall, deep in the Suffolk countryside. With Christmas approaching and marking the first anniversary of George’s death, there’s nothing Bea wants more than to have him back again.

One night, she makes a wish for him to return and gets the shock of her life when a ghost appears. But it isn’t her George...

The Wrong Ghost is a delightful Christmas novella, full of warmth and charm, perfect for a dark winter’s night in a cosy, candle-lit room. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon)

The Wrong Ghost felt like the perfect comfy cozy novella to read while drinking tea in front of a warm fire. I instantly tucked in, discovering Bea’s life at Ketton Hall. Her dealings with grief felt realistic, particularly in how she makes a strong effort to hold it all together for her daughter’s sake. At first, when George the ghost appears to her, I wasn’t sure if it really would be the ghost in question, or if it was some sort of manifestation brought on by loneliness. Bea herself questions that. But given some time, it’s obvious that George is there to stay, and I loved the friendship that developed between them. 

There is a moment of contention for Bea when she deals with a relative of her deceased husband. Simeon seemed to be a pretty slimy guy, and even though I really didn’t like him, I wondered if there would be more at play–possibly a sequel? Simeon is convinced that Ketton Hall should belong to him, threatening to do whatever it takes to make that happen. At various moments in the book, I feared he might come back to bother her, show up unannounced, or worse, find some sort of loophole and pull Ketton Hall from Bea. 

I’d also wondered if Bea’s husband George would show up. I was surprised by the little twist at the end, and appreciated it. It would have been a little too easy to wrap everything up and end the novella with Bea’s husband, but it didn’t end that way at all! Plus, it opened the door for a possible sequel. Given the background and the many ancestors in George’s family, you never know. 

The biggest and brightest character within The Wrong Ghost is the holiday season. Despite the circumstances, Bea wants to celebrate Christmas with her loved ones–the ones who are living, and the ones who aren’t. I loved all the nuances and bits and baubles that really felt wintery and seasonal, making this the perfect five-star festive experience!

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK * Amazon US

Victoria Connelly lives in a 500-year old thatched cottage in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a springer spaniel and a flock of ex-battery hens. She is the million-selling author of two bestselling series, The Austen Addicts and The Book Lovers, as well as many other novels and novellas. Her first published novel, Flights of Angels, was made into a film in Germany. Victoria loves books, films, walking, historic buildings and animals. If she isn’t at her keyboard writing, she can usually be found in her garden either with a trowel in her hand or a hen on her lap.

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Friday, November 18, 2022

Book Review: It Could Happen...plus a special giveaway

By Sara Steven

I don't like change. That's fine, because I, Tori Hayes, am quite content with my single status and fulfilling sales career. I'll make an exception and step out of my comfort zone to be a part of my college bestie's wedding party. Anything for a friend, you know?

But this—this is not what I thought it would be. Suddenly, I'm thrown into drama that only a Southern belle bride and her friends can stir up. The secrets, the lies, the deception—it's more than I can take. Not to mention that groomsman Tyler, who seems to know exactly how to push my buttons.

I don't like my buttons pushed. Or maybe I do.

Dashing groomsmen aside, why do I keep finding myself in the middle of all this madness? I want to support Caroline and give her the perfect day, but things are getting messy and fast. Is there going to be a happy ending amid all this chaos?

It could happen… (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Sometimes, it takes the person who is on the outside looking in to really see things for how they are. Tori was an excellent example of that. When she participates in bestie Caroline’s pre-wedding festivities, she discovers a lot of drama and potential chaos that threatens to create a mess for Caroline. I felt like the scenarios that were put in place to show that did a great job of continually heightening the experience, so even when I was on an even keel with Tori, just trying to relax and enjoy what’s going on around me, I kept waiting for that other shoe to drop–and boy, did it!

Along for the ride were Tori’s mixed feelings towards Tyler. She doesn’t know if his behavior is genuine, particularly with another bridesmaid in the mix who is doing everything she can to catch Tyler’s eye. Is he interested in Tori, or in someone else? I liked the quick banter and obvious attraction that is there between Tori and Tyler. It flowed well and never felt forced. Plus, there was no delineation from who Tori is as a character. As described in the synopsis, she’s the type to stick with what she knows and not often stray outside the box, which added even more to the potential budding romance she suddenly finds herself in.

I also questioned the happy ending, and if it would happen, not only for Tori but for Caroline. I couldn’t help but feel for Caroline, along with some of the other bridal party members who become part of the drama. It was hard not to feel close to the characters and get emotionally invested. But a big part of It Could Happen is evolution and change, and seeking the lesser known path.  

What I loved most were the threads of friendship–old and new. Tori honors her friendship with Caroline, but she discovers new ones along the way, too. It Could Happen really was an enjoyable, five-star experience!

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK

USA Today bestselling author Melissa Baldwin is a planner-obsessed Disney fan who still watches Beverly Hills 90210 reruns and General Hospital

She’s a wife, mother, and journal keeper, who finally decided to write the book she talked about for years. She took her dream to the next level, and is now an award-winning, bestselling author of twenty-five Romantic Comedy and Cozy Mystery novels and novellas. Melissa writes about charming, ambitious, and real women, and she considers these leading ladies to be part of her tribe.

When she isn't deep in the writing zone, this multitasking master organizer keeps busy by spending time with her family, chauffeuring her daughter, traveling, attempting yoga poses, and going on rides at Disney World.

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Giveaway to Win a $10 Amazon Gift Card (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within seven days, then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organizer and used only for fulfillment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  We are not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.


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Giveaway ends November 21st.

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