Friday, November 29, 2019

Book Review: The Last Affair

By Jami Deise

While the number of people who cheat on their spouses is up for debate (statistics vary from a high of half of all married people to a low of less than a quarter), what isn’t up for debate is that infidelity is a popular plot in movies, TV, and books. From Anna Karenina to Showtime’s The Affair, the intrigue and angst caused by infidelity is a natural draw for readers and audiences.

And it rarely ends well.

In Margot Hunt’s latest domestic thriller, we know this affair won’t end well: The Last Affair begins with two cops poring over the body of Gwen Landon, who’s had her skull bashed in with a brick paver. Her husband says she hasn’t had a conflict with anyone, but as everyone knows, husbands can be liars.

Especially this husband.

Six months earlier, orthodontist Josh Landon ran into Nora Holliday, the mother of a patient, at a hotel where they were both attending respective conferences. After dinner and drinks, they slept together, sparking an affair. The Last Affair, however, isn’t told from Josh’s point-of-view. Rather, Nora, Gwen, and Gwen and Josh’s college-aged daughter Abby tell the tale in third-person narration.

Abby, who dropped out of school due to a depression that hit after learning her boyfriend was sleeping with her best friend, spies her father and his mistress on the beach together and begins a campaign to learn who Dad is seeing on the side. Of the three POV characters, Abby is most well-written. Her grief and humiliation at her own betrayal is understandable; her bewilderment at her parents’ behavior natural.

None of the four adults come off all that well. Gwen is a narcissist; Nora’s husband Carter an alcoholic in recovery who hasn’t touched his wife in three years. Both Josh and Nora seem too put-upon to be believed. Josh’s seduction of Nora is so smooth that I thought he was a player and would break Nora’s heart. Instead, they are both portrayed as practically perfect people who “deserve” their affair because their spouses are so horrible.

The writing goes down smooth and quick, and pages fly by as the reader wonders how the self-obsessed Gwen – who knows Josh is having an affair but has tagged the wrong woman – ends up with a brick in her head. Unfortunately, the clues are a little too obvious, leaving the reader feeling “I knew it!” rather than “I never would have guessed!”

The Last Affair is the third book of Hunt’s that I’ve reviewed, and it fits well with her other offerings. Although she hasn’t written sequels to her other two domestic thrillers, this book really cries out for one. I hope she considers writing it.

Thanks to HarperCollins for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Margot Hunt:

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Book Review: It's Not PMS, It's a special giveaway

By Sara Steven

Ruth “Ruthless” Harper is on the verge of becoming managing partner at her all-male consulting firm and she won’t let anything stand in her way. That includes men, relationships, and that dreaded F word, FEELINGS—distractions she eliminated long ago.

After the worst day ever (a near-death experience and a public wedgie, for starters), Ruth realizes she doesn’t want to live and die alone. She puts together a business plan to find the perfect man and dives head first into the murky online dating pool. All she wants is a high-powered executive who understands how important her career is. If only it were that easy.

Problem is most men are intimidated by Ruth’s confidence and shocked by her bluntness. The exception being her landscape designer, Nick, whose cool demeanor and unsolicited dating advice are driving her nuts. He’s the antithesis of the business-oriented man Ruth envisions for herself, so why do all signs keep pointing back to him? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Rich Amooi has a way with creating memorable characters, and he’s done it again with Ruth and Nick! Given Ruth’s priorities in life, I figured I’d have a difficult time in accepting the choices she makes, yet there is a vulnerable side to her that shows itself slowly within the pages and in her interactions with Nick. He begins to open her up, even when it goes against his own beliefs. I couldn’t disparage Ruth for wanting to go for her dreams and reach the highest rung, but it feels at times that those goals cause her to develop a major chip against anyone who doesn’t see eye to eye with her.

I appreciated the backstory for both characters. It lends into a deeper understanding of why Ruth feels the need to continually prove herself, and why Nick refuses to be led into any situation that prevents him from thoroughly enjoying his life. The two opposing personalities create a delicious tension that neither character can avoid, setting up some much-appreciated heated scenarios that go right along the brink, leaving the reader wanting more. Paralleling that are the small nuances that lend into making Ruth and Nick feel real, like Ruth continually finding herself in the most embarrassing of situations around Nick, while Nick finds himself on the defensive of her reactions to that. It’s funny and it felt real, much like the unpredictability of life. It also made me question if the two of them were destined to be together, or if they’re too different to really make it work.

An unsung hero here is Dee, Ruth’s best friend. She is the consummate sidekick, even though I’m not sure “sidekick” is the right word to use for someone who accepts Ruth wholeheartedly, just the way she is. There were a few moments where Ruth needed some sort of reality check, and it was Dee who set it in motion- like a mirror for Ruth’s inner conscience. Someone needed to have their crap together, and it was Dee who kept the boat from sinking.

While it was the near-death experience that set Ruth’s new goals into motion, there is so much more that develops. Ultimately, the goal in finding a new man becomes a goal in potentially discovering new priorities in life, facing the possibility of having to let go of everything she’s ever known and worked so hard for, in lieu of reaching for the unknown, which is filled with uncertainties. Along the way, we’re privy to all the humor and at times, heartache that comes with change, making this read all the more worth it. It’s Not PMS, It’s You is the third five-star book I’ve read by Rich Amooi, and I can honestly say it won’t be my last!

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

Purchase links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK * Amazon Canada * Amazon Australia

Add to your Goodreads shelf

Rich Amooi is a former radio personality and DJ who now writes romantic comedies full-time in San Diego, California. He is happily married to a kiss monster imported from Spain. Rich believes in public displays of affection, silliness, infinite possibilities, donuts, gratitude, laughter, and happily ever after.

Visit Rich online: 
WebsiteFacebook * Twitter * Instagram

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Poppy Alexander puts us in a holiday mood

We're pleased to have Poppy Alexander visiting us today. Her debut novel, 25 Days in December (25 Days 'Til Christmas in the US) publishes this week in the UK. She's here to talk about her novel and Christmas, of course!

Poppy Alexander wrote her first book when she was five. There was a long gap in her writing career while she was at school, and after studying classical music at university, she decided the world of music was better off without her and took up public relations, campaigning, political lobbying and a bit of journalism instead. She takes an anthropological interest in family, friends and life in her West Sussex village (think, The Archers crossed with Twin Peaks) where she lives with her husband, children and various other pets. Visit Poppy on Facebook.

Kate Potter used to know what happiness felt like.

A few years ago, she was full of energy, excited by every possibility. But that was back when everything was different, before Kate's husband went away with the army and didn't come home. She can't even remember what it felt like to be in love.

Then Kate meets Daniel. Recognising her loneliness reflected in his eyes, Kate vows to try and help bring him out of his shell. But as Kate plans to bring life back to Daniel, she might have stumbled on the secret to happiness...

Can one chance meeting change two lives?

Purchase links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

What were the biggest reward and biggest challenge with writing 25 Days in December?
Good question! The biggest challenge was totally immersing myself in all things Christmas whilst writing during a heat wave. It was hot, hot, hot… actually, it reminded me of the Narnia story where it’s always winter and never Christmas but, for me, it was the other way around. As for rewards, who wouldn’t love immersing themselves in all that Christmas spirit: the snowball fights, the carol services, the mulled wine, the crisp, frosty mornings… And the anticipation too. Somehow there is this feeling – for me – that however tough life can be, there is some magical healing balm that Christmas can bring.

How are you similar to or different from Kate?
Kate’s a much better parent than me. She’s funny, warm and giving and she puts little Jack first in everything she does. Really, she goes to superhuman lengths to make sure he’s okay, even though she is going through a really tough time herself. Whilst I would also do anything for my children - as long as it occurred to me – they do get a bit neglected when I am in the throes of writing a novel. We probably end up having spag bol three times a week, because I just don’t have the brain space to think of anything else. They are very tolerant, bless them.

If 25 Days were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
As it happens, the screen rights have been optioned (!) so that’s a question I idly think of a lot. Of course, I am unlikely to be involved in casting, but I am thinking seriously about my red carpet dress – as you do… When I was writing 25 Days, my editor instructed me to think of those perfect Christmas films, such as The Holiday, and Love Actually. Actors like Kate Winslet and Jude Law spring to mind, but – with the greatest of respect – those two are knocking on a bit now, so I would probably look at up and coming actors such as Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding. See below.

What is a favorite Christmas tradition you have with your family?
It’s a slightly odd one; we formed a tradition of leaving a mince pie and a whiskey for Father Christmas, and a carrot for Rudolph by the fireplace. So far, so typical. Anyhow, between you and me, we would wait ‘til the children had gone to bed and snaffle it all ourselves. I would even take a bite out of the carrot, which was true dedication because I am not a fan of chomping raw root vegetables. Several years later we are still doing it, even though our children are a bit old for that sort of thing. My daughter insists and I am suspicious of her motives because I think the ‘having to eat a raw carrot’ bit amuses her.

What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Ooh, can I have two? I just can’t choose between The Holiday and Love Actually. As above, I just adore them both. I could happily spend most of December watching them on repeat whilst laughing, crying and drinking Baileys. Also, I am very excited to see the actors I mentioned earlier, who are the romantic leads in this year’s big Christmas movie. Last Christmas looks like just that sort of film - a feel-good, heartwarming treat – and I’ll be there with my popcorn the moment it is released in the UK.

What is your favorite Christmas dessert?
I wonder how many people would agree if I said it’s not Christmas Pudding? I mean, I’ll eat it – it’s only once a year, after all – but my ‘go to’ dessert for sheer, sinful pleasure, would always be my mother’s Chocolate Roulade, shaped as a yule log and stuffed with cream and praline. I make it myself these days and it’s not quite the same but – if I say so myself – it ain’t bad.

Thanks to Poppy for chatting with us and to Orion for coordinating the interview.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Book Review: The Event

By Sara Steven

There’s a reason Emmeline Frothingham left her hometown of Creek Water, Missouri as soon as humanly possible. That reason is small-minded, judgmental people who wouldn’t know the truth if it was coughed up on them like an errant furball.

After graduating from college, Emmie gets her dream job in New York City. As the head buyer at Silver Spoons--a high-end boutique, and single girl about town, her life is ideal. That is, until the night of The Event, her company’s annual award's ball at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Nerves plus too much tequila leave Emmie dealing with a wicked hangover, the unemployment line, and a surprise to end all surprises.

Facing the repercussions of her wild night, Emmie is forced to go home to work in her family's business. But her return puts her dead in the sights of the gossipy country club harpies who drove her away in the first place.

Will Emmie make peace with her past and embrace the love of her family? Will she discover that the man who seems to be judging her most has a secret of his own? Find out in this deliciously fun romantic comedy, sure to put a smile on your face! (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

The town of Creek Water is just as much of a character as the rest of the crew in The Event, with its small-town charm and easy living. The atmosphere felt idyllic and livable, the perfect backdrop for a woman who sought to leave her little roots behind in search of bigger ones out in New York City. I could literally feel the hesitancy for Emmie, in having to move back to a place where everyone knows everyone’s business, considering she has big business of her own that ultimately becomes part of the gossip mill. She’s trying to leave behind the drama, but finds herself in a whole new heap of it!

But along with the bad comes the good. The re-connection with family makes for some heartwarming moments, even during the times when her family contributes to the stress and chaos Emmie finds herself in. And Cootie! Man oh man, who could forget a memorable character like Cootie? Whitney Dineen has a knack for creating some of the most memorable characters I’ve ever read, and Cootie can be added to that list. She’s like a Nellie Oleson from Little House on the Prairie, but all grown up and itching to wreak havoc. I loved all of the scenes with Cootie in it, even the ones where I’d wanted Emmie to stand up for herself more, to say something, to not let Cootie Nellie Oleson her into a corner.

This goes for Zach, too, the potential love interest with a serious chip on his shoulder the size of Texas. As much as I could feel Emmie’s hesitancy in moving back to her hometown, I also felt her frustration and irritation in Zach’s “will he or won’t he” approach to Emmie. He puts her on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, with mixed signals and hidden agendas with secrets sprinkled in for good measure. For someone who works hard to cut down on the drama, he isn’t scoring any points. But all the same, there’s something about him, given the history between them.

The Event’s foundation is built on the family ties that bind, even when you don’t want them to. The notion of finding your own way in life, even if that means squiggling out the original plans in search of a new one, maybe even a better one. Flowing beneath that foundation is female empowerment and the strength of knowing that ultimately, those who love you have got your back, in the most unexpected of ways. It’s the small-town charm and unconditional love that really hooked this reader, and I can’t wait to read the second book in the Creek Water Series, The Move!

Thanks to Whitney Dineen for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Whitney Dineen:

Friday, November 22, 2019

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
One Perfect Summer by Brenda Novak from Mira
The Event by Whitney Dineen from XPresso Book Tours (e-book via NetGalley)
If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane from William Morrow
Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald from Gallery (e-book via NetGalley)
The Mall by Megan McCafferty from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
Postscript by Cecelia Ahern from Grand Central Publishing (e-book via NetGalley)
Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)
The Small Crimes of Tiffany Templeton by Richard Fifield from Razorbill
One Night on Ice by Mandy Baggot from Aria (e-book via NetGalley)
The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey from Thomas Dunne
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins from Flatiron
Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin from Berkley (e-book via NetGalley)

It's Not P.M.S., It's You by Rich Amooi from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)
A Reason to Grieve by Mick Williams from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)
When Adam Met Evie by Giulia Skye from from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)
A Dozen Second Chances by Kate Field from Rachel's Random Resources (e-book)
Better Believe It by Fern Ronay from Red Adept (e-book)
My Great Ex-Scape by Portia MacIntosh from Boldwood Books (e-book via NetGalley)

Book Review: Say You'll Love Me Again

By Sara Steven

Do you know how to keep a secret? 23-year-old piano teacher, Sophie does and it’s kept her hidden for the past five years, but now she’s gone and broken her golden rule: Never let anyone ‘see’ you.

Jazz, a wild and carefree comedian, does more than ‘see’ Sophie but that’s because your soulmate’s the stranger you recognise, right?

With the woman she used to be threatening to surface, will Sophie succumb to the pull of passion and risk everything for Jazz, or will she hide from happiness to avoid further intertwining their lives, which might ultimately cause the unraveling of everything?

Say You’ll Love Me Again is an exciting, flirty book by the best-selling, award-winning author, Kiki Archer, filled with laugh-out-loud moments and intrigue that will keep you guessing until the very end. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

This is my first Kiki Archer book, and I’m sad to say that Say You’ll Love Me Again is her last. There were a lot of comical moments within a sea of serious, a nice balance for a woman who has done everything in her power to become anonymous. The same could almost be said for the dynamics between Sophie and Jazz, two completely opposite personalities who at times compliment one another, at other times create a polarizing effect. It’s in those moments where we strip away the bravado and see who each character really is, and who they really are together.

There were plenty of times where I wanted to reach into the pages and shake Sophie by the shoulders, attempt to put some sense into her. The closer she gets to Jazz, the more she puts up a strong wall of protection. Jazz looks upon Sophie as a fascinating specimen, a puzzle she’s trying to figure out. At first I felt that Jazz was willing to go the distance in terms of accepting Sophie as she is, wholeheartedly, but then I began to see the cracks within Jazz’s own foundation. No couple is perfect, and this one showcases what it’s like when there is baggage coming from all directions. Do you pack it up and carry on, or unload it?

Honorable mentions go to Sophie’s friends. Laura is the crackpot life coach who attempts to either help or hurt this couple, you never really know her true angle. Laura’s mother is hysterically funny, seemingly the voice of reason behind the chaos. Sophie’s coworkers are an odd situation themselves, and it gets to where you’re not really sure who Sophie could count in her corner, who is there to support her when she needs it. There is a bit of parental strife thrown in for good measure on both sides of the coin for both women, but it only adds to the troubles this couple experiences. There are a lot of questions and back and forth scenarios, it was hard to determine if Sophie and Jazz would remain together or do better apart.

A definite perk to Say You’ll Love Me Again were the few heated scenes that are sprinkled into the pages for good measure. Although there were times where it felt the scenes were a little heavy on the dialogue and not as much with the scenery, I still felt as though I was part of the action. One of the biggest things I appreciated was the aspect of acceptance, and strength. Sophie has to come to terms with who she is and ultimately, who she loves, and this means showing a side of her life that no one else has ever seen and might not understand. From her friends, to her parents, even within herself, there is a lot of growth and change that takes place, and it was exciting to see. This might be Archer’s last book, but this won’t be the last book I read from her lineup!

Thanks to Kiki Archer for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Kiki Archer:

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Spotlight and Giveaway: Twenty-One Truths About Love

Today we're featuring Twenty-One Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks, which published this week. Thanks to St. Martin's Press, we have one copy to give away!

Matthew Dicks’s TWENTY-ONE TRUTHS ABOUT LOVE is the “original, radical, and extraordinary”* story of Dan Mayrock, a down-on-his-luck teacher-turned-bookstore owner, that unfolds entirely in lists.

1. Dan wants to do something special.
2. He’s a man tired of feeling ordinary.
3. Sick of feeling like a failure.
4. Of living in the shadow of his wife’s deceased first husband.

But these aren’t your average to-do lists. They range from the relatable, and funny (“Why raspberries are a bullshit food” and “Products that I’d better get the brand right when shopping or Jill will kill me”) to the very accurate (“What being a bookstore owner actually looked like today”) to the heartfelt (“Reasons I Fell in Love with Jill”). Together, they paint a profound picture of a man trying to be a good husband to the pregnant love of his life, save his bookstore from financial collapse, and, ultimately, become someone.

Hesitant to read a book written entirely in lists? Don’t be! There’s so much humor and authenticity to be found in its pages. Two pages in, you’ll be chuckling to yourself, three pages in, you’ll be nodding your head in agreement, and by the end, you’ll be proclaiming Matthew Dicks a genius.

*“It’s not quite enough to say that TWENTY-ONE TRUTHS ABOUT LOVE is original, it is radical, and extraordinary. I have no idea how Matthew Dicks made a story comprised entirely of lists feel so human, but that’s exactly what this story is: honest, vulnerable, hilarious, and profoundly human.”
~Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of the New York Times bestselling Daisy Jones & The Six

Photo by Holly M. Williams
Matthew Dicks is a writer and elementary school teacher. He has been published in the Hartford Courant, featured at the Books on the Nightstand retreat, and is a Moth StorySLAM champion. He is the author of four previous novels, Something Missing, Unexpectedly Milo, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, an international bestseller, and The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs. His novels have been translated into more than 25 languages. Dicks lives in Newington, Connecticut, with his wife Elysha, and their two children.

Visit Matthew online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest * Instagram

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Book Review: The Second Life Of Nathan Jones

By Becky Gulc

‘Getting hit by a bus was the best thing that ever happened to him…

When one wrong step – and the poor timing of the number 19 bus – send Nathan Jones to the Edinburgh morgue his story should have ended…but then he went and woke up.

Returned to real life Nathan finds a wife disappointed that he’s miraculously returned from the dead and an unshakable attraction for mortuary technician Kat – the woman who brought him back to life, in more ways than one.

Now, as his world implodes and Kat leads him down an unexpected path, Nathan somehow finds himself having the time of his second life…’ (Synopsis courtesy of HarperCollins.)

The Second Life Of Nathan Jones is the third novel by David Atkinson, having previously been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association award in 2015. The synopsis and the cover both appealed to me and I could tell I was about to experience a quirky book. So what did I think?

Nathan Jones...a man who is knocked down dead one day only to be found to be alive by Goth mortuary technician Kat. When you’d think Nathan’s wife Laura would be ecstatic to learn that he’s not dead after all, it soon becomes clear that this is far from a happy marriage, and quite frankly Laura seems a little disappointed! But with three children together can they sort things out? One person who is unsure about this after feeling an instant attraction to Nathan is Kat and she feels compelled to make him aware of her feelings.

I felt an instant connection myself to both characters, they both seemed a little lost, kind, and quirky, especially Kat. I felt the stars were aligned for them and enjoyed the roller-coaster of a journey they went on together. Of course elements seem far-fetched (waking up in a morgue; turning up on a ‘patient’s’ doorstep) but that added to the fun and feel of the novel, to be honest; it felt different and it worked. Kat is forthright, impulsive, and that gets them in some challenging situations at times, but her heart is very much in the right place.

The novel does cover some challenging situations including the custody arrangements for the children. I felt sorry for the children and Millie was just a great character, wise beyond her years. I would have perhaps liked to learn more about what Nathan was feeling during this period. Sometimes there seemed to be a heavier focus on Kat’s character, like she took over the narrative, but that may be to do with the different way their viewpoints were represented (Nathan’s in third person, Kat’s first person).

Altogether I really enjoyed this novel, the style of writing flowed for me and I praise it for being a bit different and ‘out there’ at times. I’d definitely read more from David.

Thanks to David Atkinson for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by David Atkinson:

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Dani Atkins is a dream come a book giveaway

Photo by Hannah Couzens
We're excited to have Dani Atkins back at CLC today. Her latest novel, A Million Dreams, published last week. Melissa A really enjoyed it and will be reviewing soon. Head of Zeus has THREE copies for some lucky readers in the UK. And so everyone else isn't left out, we will choose a winner to receive one of Dani's previous novels. 

Dani was born and brought up in Cockfosters- a small London suburb at the end of the Piccadilly Tube Line.

This served her well for commuting into the city, where from the age of 18 she worked in a succession of secretarial positions in companies as diverse as a BMW car dealership to the BBC. Dani spent her two hour commute avidly reading and dreamed that one day she would become an author herself.

When her two children grew up and left home, Dani set about turning this dream into reality and devoted her time to writing. She now lives in a rural Hertfordshire cottage with her husband, a soppy border collie dog and a haughty Siamese cat. (Bio courtesy of Goodreads.)

Visit Dani on Facebook and Twitter.

Beth Brandon always dreamed of owning a florist, but today the bouquets of peonies and bright spring flowers are failing to calm her nerves. Because today, Beth has a life-changing decision to share with her husband.

Izzy Vaughan thought she and her husband would stay together forever, but sometime last year, their love began to fade. They both find such joy in their young son Noah – but is he enough to keep them together?

Eight years ago, something happened to these two women. Something that is about to bring them together in a way no-one thought possible...

Thought-provoking, emotional and uplifting, this is a gripping love story for fans of Jojo Moyes and Amanda Prowse.
(Courtesy of Goodreads.)

What was your inspiration for writing A Million Dreams?
The inspiration for A Million Dreams first came to me after I heard about a couple in America and the incredible series of events that thrust them into the limelight ten years ago. To identify them will give away too much of the plot, so all I’ll say is that their story fascinated me and acted like a starting pistol in my head, firing off a question that I simply couldn’t ignore... ‘I wonder what would happen if...?’

Which character could you relate to more: Izzy or Beth?
Usually when writing I’ll develop a fondness for one particular character, they are the person who I relate to more than any other in the story. Luckily characters in your books aren’t like your children, so it’s perfectly okay to have a favourite! However with A Million Dreams I related to both Izzy and Beth. I wanted good things to happen for both of them. I wanted each of them to get exactly what they wanted. But for one to win, the other had to lose, and it was difficult to be cruel to a character who’d already found a place in my heart.

If A Million Dreams were made into a movie, what are some songs that would be on the soundtrack?
"You and Me Against the World" by Helen Reddy – an oldie, but the words fit the theme of the book so perfectly. In fact I just played it to check if it should be included in the list, and it made me cry.
The second song is a little more recent, but just as moving, "Slow Down" by Nichole Nordeman.
Both of them would be on my chosen soundtrack.

What TV series are you currently binge watching?
I discovered a great new series when visiting my daughter in Australia last year. It is an American show called Younger, and comes from the creator of Sex and the City. It is set in a New York publishing house, so lots to relate to if you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes. When I came back home I was really disappointed when I couldn’t find it on any of our UK channels, but happily it has just popped up on Comedy Central. That’s my Monday evenings sorted for the foreseeable future.

What is the strangest thing currently residing in your purse/handbag?
My handbag is the size of most people’s carry-on luggage, so it’s full of a great many bizarre items, most of which I deem as absolutely essential and not strange at all. However others might find the miniature retractable steel tape measure a little odd, as well as a first aid kit so extensive I could probably perform an emergency appendectomy if you asked me to.

What is the last dream you vividly remember?
Last night I dreamed that as a birthday surprise my adult son and daughter performed a complicated dance routine that I had to judge. As they weren’t very good, Dream-Me sadly had to give them a Craig Revel Horwood-worthy critique. I think Strictly must be playing on my mind!

Thanks to Dani for visiting with us and to Head of Zeus for sharing her latest novel 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 UK giveaway here and the worldwide giveaway here

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Monday, November 18, 2019

Book Review: The Huntress

By Melissa Amster

Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When she is stranded behind enemy lines, Nina becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, and only Nina’s bravery and cunning will keep her alive.

Transformed by the horrors he witnessed from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials, British war correspondent Ian Graham has become a Nazi hunter. Yet one target eludes him: a vicious predator known as the Huntress. To find her, the fierce, disciplined investigator joins forces with the only witness to escape the Huntress alive: the brazen, cocksure Nina. But a shared secret could derail their mission unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.

Growing up in post-war Boston, seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride is determined to become a photographer. When her long-widowed father unexpectedly comes homes with a new fiancée, Jordan is thrilled. But there is something disconcerting about the soft-spoken German widow. Certain that danger is lurking, Jordan begins to delve into her new stepmother’s past—only to discover that there are mysteries buried deep in her family . . . secrets that may threaten all Jordan holds dear.

In this immersive, heart-wrenching story, Kate Quinn illuminates the consequences of war on individual lives, and the price we pay to seek justice and truth.
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Truthfully, I was hesitant to read The Huntress at first. I liked The Alice Network so much (see my review) and was worried the bar was set too high and that everything Kate Quinn wrote afterward would fall short. However, I didn't have anything to worry about, as I enjoyed this novel even more than its predecessor. And there's a little cameo from Alice to enjoy, as well! (Ironically, I just realized that I was also hesitant to read Alice at first. Two hits out of the park and Kate has sold me on anything she writes going forward!)

I liked all of the characters in this novel. They each had many layers and were so interesting to get to know better. Even the one I wasn't supposed to like came off as likable. The story was so interesting and it was neat to see how the stories came together as they started unfolding and moving through time. The detailed descriptions made it easy to visualize what was happening, as well as the characters and settings, but they did not take away from the narrative, of which there was plenty. There were some humorous moments, as well as heartbreaking ones. I found myself stepping away from my TV and computer at night so I could find out what would happen next in the story.

Even with a story this great, I still have a few criticisms. I felt it went heavy on symbolism, especially with mentioning "rusalkas" all the time. There was also a lot of foreshadowing that was unnecessary. The synopsis had a level of foreshadowing, as well. I also had a hard time understanding some of the flight terminology during Nina's chapters and it got confusing. The book is 530 pages long, which is a lot for me when it comes to having a lot of books in my TBR and so little time. Thankfully, it held my attention throughout and I felt like I was breezing through it after a while.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Huntress and I can't wait for my friends to read it so I can discuss it with them, as well as with the friends who already have read it!

For Hollywood's consideration (because this would be an amazing movie, of course):
Nina: Tatiana Maslany (I swear this role was written with Helena from Orphan Black in mind. "Sestra.")
Ian: Jamie Demetriou
Jordan: Lili Reinhart
Tony: Noah Centineo
Anneliese: Dominique McElligott
Yelena: Stacy Martin

Friday, November 15, 2019

A [good] friend date with a book giveaway

Today we are featuring Kate O'Keeffe's High Tea series, which is part of the Cozy Cottage Café series. Kate has one set of all three e-books for a lucky reader!

Kate O'Keeffe is a bestselling author of fun, feel-good chick lit and romantic comedies. She lives and loves in beautiful Hawke's Bay, New Zealand with her family, two scruffy dogs, and a cat who thinks he's a scruffy dog too. He's not: he's a cat. When she's not penning her latest story, Kate can be found hiking up hills (slowly), traveling to different countries around the globe, and eating chocolate. A lot of it.

Kate has written the Amazon bestselling Cozy Cottage Café series, the popular chick lit stories, the Wellywood Romantic Comedy series, as well as some stand-alone titles, including Manhattan Cinderella, The Right GuyOne Way Ticket, coauthored with chick lit author Melissa Baldwin, and the fun holiday novella, I'm Scheming of a White Christmas. (Bio adapted from Kate's website.)

Visit Kate online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

High Tea, Book 1 - No More Bad Dates

Three friends form the No More Bad Dates Pact: stop dating the wrong guys and start dating the right ones - weirdos and jerks need not apply.

Twenty-five-year-old Sophie McCarthy's career is virtually nonexistent, her family expects her to "do something important" with her life, and she's totally sick of dating the wrong guys: the self-absorbed, the arrogant, the borderline criminally insane.

After she's unceremoniously dumped during the vows at her boss's wedding, she and her two equally disappointed-in-love best friends agree to help each other find decent guys to date. Together, they form the No More Bad Dates Pact: stop dating the wrong guys and start dating the right ones--weirdos and jerks need not apply.

When Sophie's roommate Jason Christie--a.k.a. doctor-in-training and serial nurse-dater--joins the pact, he vows to weed out the bad ones for her. But with his rejection of every guy Sophie meets, she begins to wonder if he's got an ulterior motive. And anyway, why does she always have so much more fun with Jason than with the guys she's actually trying to date?

While desperately seeking her "happy for now," could Sophie stumble into her "happily ever after?"

High Tea, Book 2 - No More Terrible Dates

Twenty-five-year-old personal assistant Darcy Evans likes to be in control of her life. But there's one thing she can't get a handle on: men.

Sick of terrible dates, she makes a pact with her friends to only date good guys. But it's tough out there. From the liars and cheats to the positively weird, where's a modern day hero when you want one?

Then, when her boss buys an art gallery, Darcy's forced to work with photographer Alex Walsh. He's a blast from her past and definitely not hero material. Ridiculously handsome and charming, he's all those distracting things Darcy doesn't need, especially when she can't forgive him for what happened back in high school.

With Darcy holding out for a hero, will she miss the perfect man right under her nose?

High Tea, Book 3 - No More Horrible Dates

What do you do when you want to find your happily ever after, but you're stuck in a fake relationship with the last guy you'd ever want to date?

Twenty-five-year-old Erin Andrews has got a problem. She works for the country's most successful rugby team but a bitter past tells her all pro sports players are self-satisfied, arrogant jerks. There's no way on this sweet Earth she'd date one. That's why she agrees to a pact with her best friends to find good guys to date, and for her that definitely does not include guys like the "Wild Boy of Rugby," Nick Zachary.

So, when Nick is in desperate need of a reputation rehab, the big bosses turn to her as the nice, ordinary girl who can get his image back on track. For Erin, being that girl is the last thing she would ever want to do. That is until she realizes just how much being Nick's high profile fake girlfriend can do for her dream of becoming a fashion designer.

But playing this game of make-believe begins to feel real, and Erin wonders if the "Wild Boy of Rugby" could be her happily ever after…

Thanks to Kate for sharing her books 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

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Giveaway ends November 20th at midnight EST.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Book Review: Roping Your Heart

Roping Your Heart (Love in Everton, book two)
by Fabiola Francisco


Will be available FREE in KU

By Sara Steven

Lia Montgomery has been my best friend since we were kids, but when she moves back to our hometown, we can’t ignore the chemistry between us. And I’ve come up with a plan to make her mine.

First on the list? Make her my roommate.

It seems like a great idea at the time, but one look at her in those little pajama shorts and a thin tee shirt, and all I want to do is throw her over my shoulder, caveman style.

Screw the plan.

A simple dare changes everything between us. But when I’m challenged to do the one thing that could tear us apart forever, I realize there’s more at risk than just my heart. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Another scorcher! Having read the first book in the Love in Everton series, Write You a Love Song (reviewed here), I eagerly anticipated Lia and Axel’s story. Fabiola Francisco did not disappoint! Axel is the epitome of manliness, but with a softer side that becomes more evident when he’s around Lia, his childhood best friend. The build-up between them feels like a slow burn, considering that neither wants to ruin their friendship in pursuit of crossing any lines, even though deep down, they’ve entertained the idea for years.

I could appreciate Lia’s independence, too. After moving back to Everton, she wants to make roots on her own terms, and even after she moves into Axel’s home, she welcomes having her own space within it. She has a mind of her own and is not afraid to express it, a quality Axel loves. But when it comes to proving who he really is in the town, the last thing he wants is to receive any sort of push back from Lia. One of the things he loves most about her becomes a problem, making him question his own integrity.

There are plenty of hot moments in Roping Your Heart, a vast range between the sensual heat and angry emotions that can spill from both characters given the circumstances. The one thing both Lia and Axel worry about the most is destroying the friendship they’ve had nearly their entire lives, and it’s always in the forefront, especially when Axel is faced with his challenge, a huge threat that stands between the happiness they both know they deserve. It’s the hot moments that kept this reader on her toes, wanting to see what would happen next.

While Roping Your Heart is the second in the Love in Everton series, it can be read as a stand-alone, considering there are plenty of scenes that bring back the two primary characters from the first novel. Having said that, though, I highly recommend reading Write You a Love Song too, capturing more of that five-star heat that Francisco writes so well! I can’t wait to read the next installment, which looks to be out soon.

Thanks to Bare Naked Words for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Meet the Author:

Fabiola Francisco is a contemporary romance author from South Florida. Writing as been a part of her life since she was a teenager. Even at that age, she dreamed of happy endings with emotional twists. Her novels include Perfectly Imperfect, The Restoring Series, Sweet on You Duet, and Red Lights, Black Hearts.  

Her passion for books and writing has inspired her to write her own stories. She writes novels readers could relate to and grow with. She’s currently working on writing more stories that connect with readers on a deeper.

Fabiola also loves expressing herself through art and spending time in nature. In her spare time, she loves to cuddle with a good book and a glass of wine.

Visit Fabiola online:

Sign up for Fabiola's newsletter.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Book Review: Ten Things My Husband Hated

By Sara Steven

Maggie Moone is happily divorced.

And with her talent for fixing things, she’s perfectly content with her mundane life in the sleepy English village of Saffron Sweeting. That is, until one humiliating March evening when she learns everyone else assumes she’d love to mend her broken marriage.

Determined to prove them wrong, Maggie and her friends concoct a list of ten ways to assert her independence and live large. But her mission to move on leads to unexpected encounters, and Maggie soon finds herself mixing business with pleasure. Is the attractive young Irishman just another item on her list, or is he something more?

Before long, unresolved issues from her past begin to clash, and Maggie is forced to wonder if antagonising her ex-husband was such a stellar idea.

No sooner does she begin to understand what’s important to her, than she stands to lose everything that truly matters.
(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

The synopsis starts off as stating that Maggie Moone is happily divorced. I think there is a lot of truth to that, but I also think that Maggie is still attempting to rediscover who she is, trying to disentangle herself from her ex. It’s hard when you’ve been married to someone for so long, and know so much about them. There are plenty of moments where Maggie compares and contrasts her life to what it had been, based on the way he’d wanted things to be, his likes and dislikes. There is speculation that she wants to mend her marriage and get back with the ex, leading her and her friends in creating a list in breaking her ties with him.

I thought that was a clever and unique way to help Maggie move on with her life. The list not only helps in enabling her to find who she really is again, but it also provides a way to boost her confidence. I also appreciated that Maggie doesn’t fit standard female stereotypes, that her passions lie in fixing things that are broken, not in calling a handyman to do it for her but doing it all on her own. I think there was a subtle message there, a parallel to what she’s dealing with in her own life. In fixing other people’s problems, she’s fixing her own as well.

I had a hard time tolerating the ex. It’s more than obvious why these two didn’t work out. It’s hard to imagine there was ever a time when they might have been happy together, but much like in real life, sometimes we find ourselves in a relationship that is a toxic one, often too late. I liked seeing the gradual shifts in power between them, and it left me wondering what Maggie would do or not do, particularly when there is a potential love interest thrown into the mix. There are bits of chaos, and she has to make some tough decisions- right from wrong, what’s right for her versus what’s right for those around her. The list at times becomes not only her strength, but also a hindrance, leaving her confused and unsure of what to do.

This is my first venture into the Saffron Sweeting series, and I really enjoyed Maggie’s story and the rocky road she takes in re-discovering herself. Where was a book like this when I had gone through my own divorce, with the concept of a list to get me through those tough times? While Ten Things is part of a series, it can certainly be read as a stand-alone, but I think I’d like to get to know the other books and characters of Saffron Sweeting, too!

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

Purchase Ten Things My Husband Hated.

British by birth, Pauline Wiles is now a contented resident of California, although she admits to occasional yearnings for afternoon tea and historic homes.

Her debut novel, Saving Saffron Sweeting, reached the quarter final of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Three further books set in the same village are now available, along with a collection of short stories and Indie With Ease, a self-help guide for other self-published authors.

When not writing, Pauline can be found pondering how many miles she has to run to justify an extra piece of cake. She’s also fond of daydreaming about flying herself and a reader to London for tea.

Visit Pauline online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter

Visit the other stops on Pauline's tour (click on the picture to enlarge it):

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Rosey Lee’s beautiful family a special giveaway

We're pleased to welcome Rosey Lee to CLC today. She's here to talk about her Beautiful, Complicated Family series and she has a special prize for a lucky reader as part of her blog tour.

Rosey Lee writes uplifting fiction stories about family and friendship. A native of the Westbank of New Orleans, Louisiana, Rosey is a fan of good food and a good time. As a child, she dreamed of a career in writing, fashion design, and acting. She uses the pen name Rosey Lee as she pursues her passion for writing. Her alter ego is a physician who has dedicated her career to individual and community-based approaches to health equity. She enjoys cooking, flower arranging, listening to live music, and occasional bursts of fanatical bargain shopping.

Rosey’s flash fiction has appeared in Necessary FictionBending GenresBarren MagazineTurnpike Magazine, The Wellington Street Review, and elsewhere. Her work has also been nominated for the 2019 Best of the Net anthology. Connect with Rosey at her website and on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Beautiful, Complicated Family: Volume 1 and Beautiful, Complicated Family: Volume 2 explore the connections that can hold people together or tear them apart. The stories in this collection capture struggles that are common in today’s families—secrets, mother-daughter conflicts, coping with aging family members, and a more subtle question of what makes a family. The issues will seem familiar to you, but there are unexpected twists when you least expect them. The relatable characters and endings may pull at your heartstrings, so don’t be surprised if you laugh or cry along the way. Like most families, the relationships in this uplifting collection consist of intricate elements. Sometimes things get messy, but it’s always beautiful. Each volume contains five flash fiction stories (very short stories of 1000 words or less each). Read each story in about 5 minutes and get Volume 2 of the collection for free using a link within Volume 1.

Purchase Beautiful, Complicated Family: Volume 1:


I write about the relationships women have with their families–the ups, the downs, and everything in between. Whether it’s a family that a character was born into or one she cultivated over time, families can provide endless material for a writer. The families in my newly released Beautiful, Complicated Family series deal with secrets and mother-daughter conflicts, cope with aging family members and death, and grapple with a more subtle question of what makes a family.

Similar to real life, it’s not unusual for the women in my stories to be the center of their families. Frequently, women hold families together. But that also means that we could be responsible for tearing them apart. There’s lots of drama in my stories, and things get messy for my characters. But my stories are uplifting because my characters work through complicated family issues and grow through them. Through forgiveness, acceptance, and compassion, the characters have an opportunity to emerge stronger if they can find ways to grow together.

“Blossom in the Snow” is one of my favorite stories in the collection. I stumbled upon the inspiration for it while on Twitter one day. Someone posted a quote by Alice M. Sawim, and I was deeply touched by it.

“Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go;
it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow.”

I’m from New Orleans, and I live in Atlanta. Though I spent a few years living in New England, I’d never heard of a flower that blossoms in the snow. I struggled to understand how such a thing could exist. Then I began to wonder how that might translate into a human quality and what it would look like as a character interacted with her family. Answering this question helped me to select the setting for my story, the somber circumstance encountered by the main character, as well as her personality, backstory, and family dilemma.

I don’t want to spoil the story, so I won’t reveal much about the plot here. But I will tell you that most of the answers are based on a 15 to 20-foot tall, vase-shaped shrub called a Jelena witch hazel. The plant is striking, particularly against a winter landscape. It has woody branches topped by
bright, coppery blossoms with petals that look like spiders. The massive shrubs are frequently planted next to sidewalks so that passersby can enjoy their sweet fragrance. Also, an extract from the bark and leaves of witch hazel plants has been used in the cosmetics industry for the astringent also called witch hazel.

Are you curious about the story yet? I hope so. You can download Beautiful, Complicated Family: Volume 1 for free from several ebook retailers. You can also subscribe to my website or use the link in Volume 1 to get Beautiful, Complicated Family: Volume 2 for free.

Thanks to Rosey for visiting with us and for hosting a giveaway!

Giveaway: The prize for my blog tour reader giveaway is a Kindle (If winner is outside the US: $50 in books from Book Depository).

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Visit all the stops on Rosey's tour (click the picture to enlarge it):