Publisher: Amazon Publishing

Blog Tour: RITA Finalists Spotlight- Best First Book

Posted July 19, 2017 by Holly in Promotions | 3 Comments


The RITA Award is the highest award of distinction in the romance publishing industry and recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas. Winners will be announced at the award ceremony held during the RWA National Conference at Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort, Thursday, July 27. Today we’re spotlighting the nominees for Best First Book.


Blog Tour: RITA Finalists Spotlight- Best First BookAlterations by Stephanie Scott
Published by Bloomsbury Spark, Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Publication Date: December 6th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 237
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Goodreads

If anyone saw the prom boards Amelia Blanco makes on her favorite fashion app, they'd think Ethan Laurenti was her boyfriend. They wouldn't know that all the plans she's made for them are just dreams, and that she's the girl who watches him from the kitchen while her parents cook for his famous family.

When Amelia's abuelita enrolls her in a month-long fashion internship in NYC, Amelia can't imagine leaving Miami--and Ethan--for that long. As soon as she gets to New York, however, she finds a bigger world and new possibilities. She meets people her own age who can actually carry on a conversation about stitching and design. Her pin boards become less about prom with Ethan and more about creating her own style. By the time she returns to Miami, Amelia feels like she can accomplish anything, and surprises herself by agreeing to help Ethan's awkward, Steve-Jobs-wannabe brother, Liam, create his own fashion app.

As Liam and Amelia grow closer, Ethan realizes that this newly confident, stylish girl may be the one for him after all . . . even though he has a reality TV star girlfriend he conveniently keeps forgetting about. The "new and improved" Amelia soon finds herself in between two brothers, a whole lot of drama, and a choice she never dreamed she'd have to make.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || GOOGLE || iBOOKS || KOBO

About Stephanie Scott

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | GOODREADS

Stephanie Scott writes Young Adult stories about teens who put their passions first. She enjoys dance fitness and cat memes, and Pinterest is driving her broke. Born and raised in Kalamazoo where there are no zoos, she’s a Midwest girl at heart. She now lives outside of Chicago with her tech-of-all-trades husband. You can find her chatting about TV and all things books on Twitter and Instagram at @StephScottYA.

 


Blog Tour: RITA Finalists Spotlight- Best First BookBefore Goodbye by Mimi Cross
Published by Amazon Publishing, Skyscape
Publication Date: January 1st 2016
Pages: 399
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Goodreads

Music means more than anything to high school student Cate Reese; it’s also what unites her with Cal Woods. Devoted classical guitar players, Cate and Cal are childhood friends newly smitten by love—until a devastating car accident rips Cal out of Cate’s life forever. Blaming herself for the horrific tragedy and struggling to surface from her despair, Cate spirals downhill in a desperate attempt to ease her pain.

Fellow student David Bennet might look like the school’s golden boy, but underneath the surface the popular athlete battles demons of his own. Racked with survivor’s guilt after his brother’s suicide, things get worse when tragedy darkens his world again—but connecting with Cate, his sister’s longtime babysitter, starts bringing the light back in.

As Cate and David grow closer, the two shattered teenagers learn to examine the pieces of their lives…and, together, find a way to be whole again.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || INDIEBOUND

About Mimi Cross

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | GOODREADS

Born in Toronto, Canada, Mimi Cross is an author, singer, and songwriter who grew up in New Jersey. She received a Bachelor of Music from Ithaca College and an MA from New York University. She is a performer, a music educator, and worked briefly in the music industry. Mimi is also a certified Kripalu yoga instructor and the creator of Body of Writing, a practice that adds an additional dimension to the body, mind, spirit discipline of yoga: story.

A two time Asbury Music Award winner, Mimi has shared the bill with artists such as Sting, Bonnie Raitt, Lauryn Hill, Jill Sobule, and Jon Bon Jovi. She enjoys performing for the benefit of others, and has played shows with many New Jersey musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, to raise funds for the Light of Day Foundation. She offers classes at Project Write Now, A nonprofit dedicated to helping people improve their writing and communication skills.

Mimi lives with her young son, across the street from the beach.


Blog Tour: RITA Finalists Spotlight- Best First BookClose to You by Kara Isaac
Published by Howard Books
Publication Date: April 26th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 384
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Goodreads

A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || GOOGLE || iBOOKS || KOBO

About Kara Isaac

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | GOODREADS

Kara Isaac is an award-winning writer who lives in Wellington, New Zealand, where her career highlights include working in tourism as Private Secretary for the Prime Minister. She loves great books almost as much as she loves her husband and two children.


For a full list of RITA finalists, readers can go to: https://www.rwa.org/page/2017-finalists

To see a spotlight of each book being nominated, click here: http://bit.ly/RITA17BlogTour

Follow RWA on the following social media platforms for winner announcements:

facebook.com/romancewriters
twitter.com/romancewriters
instagram.com/romancewriters

What is the RITA Award?

The purpose of the RITA award is to promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding published romance novels and novellas.

The award itself is a golden statuette named after RWA’s first president, Rita Clay Estrada, and has become the symbol for excellence in published romance fiction.

For more about the RITA Award, click here: https://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=528

The RITA Ceremony will be streamed live for people to watch from home! Readers can watch from 7 to 9 p.m. ET on July 27 by going to www.rwa.org.


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Guest Review: The Devil’s Daughter by Katee Robert

Posted January 24, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: The Devil’s Daughter by Katee RobertReviewer: Jen
The Devil's Daughter by Katee Robert
Series: Hidden Sins #1
Published by Montlake Romance
Publication Date: January 24th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 301
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four-stars

Growing up in a small town isn’t easy, especially when you’re the daughter of a local cult leader. Ten years ago, Eden Collins left Clear Springs, Montana, and never once looked back. But when the bodies of murdered young women surface, their corpses violated and marked with tattoos worn by her mother’s followers, Eden, now an FBI agent, can’t turn a blind eye. To catch the killer, she’s going to have to return to the fold.

Sheriff Zach Owens isn’t comfortable putting Eden in danger, even if she is an elite agent. And he certainly wasn’t expecting to be so attracted to her. As calm and cool as she appears, he knows this can’t be a happy homecoming. Zach wants to protect her—from her mother, the cult, and the evil that lurks behind its locked gates. But Eden is his only key to the tight-lipped group, and she may just be closer to the killer than either one of them suspects…

Zach Owens is the police chief in the small town of Clear Springs, Montana. When a local teenage girl is found murdered and another goes missing, suspicion falls on the local cult. Then Eden Collins shows up claiming someone sent her a crime scene picture of the murdered girl. Eden is no random stranger, though. She is an FBI agent who specializes in cults, and she’s also the daughter of the local cult leader. Eden escaped her mother’s clutches years ago, and being back in town is frightening and painful for her, but she feels compelled to help catch the murderer and stop it from happening again. Zach isn’t sure he can trust Eden, but because of her inside knowledge of the cult he needs her help. The closer she gets to the truth, though, the more it seems like Eden herself may be tied up in the case in ways she never expected.

This was an exciting book that kept me hooked till the end. I admit I’m sort of darkly fascinated by cults, so for me the plot of this book was creepy and engaging. The cult leader, Martha Collins, was a great complicated character. She’s a twisted, Machiavellian genius, and Robert kept me guessing about Martha’s motivations right up to the end. Even better, Eden was kept guessing, too. She would think she knew the truth, but then she’d talk to her mom and suddenly have a small seed of doubt. Her mom was a master of gaslighting, so Eden was constantly questioning her judgments and reminding herself that her mom was a manipulator. It made for a tense story, and it highlighted the challenges Eden faced coming back to Clear Springs.

Eden was definitely my favorite part of the book. She didn’t just have a bad childhood; she had a horrific childhood. As one would expect, she has a whole lotta emotional problems as a result, like a compulsion towards perfection and a severe fear of intimacy. But the fact that she was able to rise above her childhood and lead a fairly successful adult life was awesome. What I liked best was her confidence in herself. Given her mother’s tactics and manipulations, it would have been perfectly understandable if Eden was plagued with self doubt. While she can’t escape some of that, overall she trusts herself, which is what allows her to mostly avoid the emotional traps Martha sets for her. She’s not TSTL, and she works hard to put aside her personal issues in order to look at the case objectively. For instance, when she starts to suspect that the case somehow relates to her personally, she doesn’t just brush it off. She acknowledges that maybe she’s too close to look at things clearly and calls in outside help, even though it means admitting to her boss that she’s in over her head. I loved her intelligence and professionalism!

The romance was…fine. I liked Zach well enough, and I did like that right off the bat he doesn’t see Eden as a quick lay. He isn’t dreaming of marriage or anything, but he wants to get to know her and explore whether there might be something more there than simple lust. Because the murder plot was fast paced and tense, though, there wasn’t as much time as I would have liked for Eden and Zach to get to know each other. The ending is definitely a HFN, which I thought made sense. I wasn’t entirely convinced that Eden and Zach could make it work, however, at least not without some major compromises that I’m not sure either would be prepared to make. That left me feeling a little bittersweet about the ending.

This was a fairly dark, gritty book, but it was fast paced, complex, and exciting, and it worked for me.

Grade: 4 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

four-stars


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Guest Review: Evelyn, After by Victoria Helen Stone

Posted December 26, 2016 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Evelyn, After by Victoria Helen StoneReviewer: Tina
Evelyn, After by Victoria Helen Stone
Published by Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: November 1st 2016
Genres: Women's Fiction
Pages: 247
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three-stars

Evelyn Tester is sleepwalking through her suburban life—until a late-night phone call startles her awake. Her husband, a prestigious psychiatrist, has been in an accident. And he isn’t alone.

Suddenly Evelyn’s world isn’t as tidy as she thought. And in the midst of it all is Juliette, not only her husband’s secret lover but also his patient. If news of the affair were to get out, it would ruin more than just Evelyn’s marriage. Although it’s a bitter pill for Evelyn to swallow, protecting her family means staying silent—even if, as she begins to discover, the night of the accident has consequences far more dangerous than the unmasking of an affair.

But the more Evelyn learns about Juliette’s picture-perfect life—complete with a handsome, unsuspecting husband—the more she yearns for revenge…and satisfaction. Her growing obsession fuels her rage, burning away her complacency. What will be left of her after it flames out?

I found Evelyn, After on NetGalley where I was looking for something that would bring me down from my “sugar-high” from over-indulging on a few too many syrupy Christmas stories. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE those kind of books during the holiday season, but a girl has to give herself a break once in awhile. The minute I saw that cover, the first thing I thought was “Oooh!! Somebody’s gonna get it!! It looked creepy BEFORE I read the blurb, and then when I found out the subject, I couldn’t wait to read it. So when I found that I had been given a review copy, I downloaded it immediately and got ready for a wild ride……or so I thought.

The first part of the book was exactly what I would expect in a thriller. We have a car crash and a woman filled with rage after discovering that her husband is having an affair. But, by the middle of the book and nobody is dead yet, I started wondering what the heck was going on. My only suspense at that point was wondering when all the crazy was gonna start!!

So was this woman pissed or what? Yep, she was, but she didn’t go all bat-shit crazy like I expected. Instead she did a little Facebook stalking and a couple “drive-by’s” (not THAT kind…) which is not exactly was I was expecting in a book that is supposed to be a psychological thriller.

What happened instead you ask? Well, our scorned wife lost quite a bit of weight in a relatively short amount of time and went out and bought herself a new wardrobe. Then she had a “revenge-affair” with the other woman’s husband. So… in finding out that her husband was a cheating bastard, she re-invents herself and becomes the woman that she had “lost”. Really???

At this point ,all I could think was “Wow”. And I didn’t mean this in a good way. I wanted her to be so enraged that she lost her damn mind on somebody! Instead I felt like I had just watched a made-for-television drama on WE!

Evelyn, After was NOT a psychological thriller in my humble opinion. Nobody went psycho, and I didn’t get so caught up in the suspense that I ate a whole bag of M&M’s or anything!! The book had some decent DRAMA, but it didn’t scare the bejeezus outta me like I had hoped. I didn’t hate the book, but it just wasn’t what I expected at all. And then to top it off, the ending totally killed it for me.

With all this being said, I thought this book was just okay. If it would’ve had a different cover and had not been labeled a psychological thriller, I might have still picked it, I just would’ve known what NOT to expect. I might have even rated it a bit higher.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with this advance ebook in return for an honest review. I would give this one 3 out of 5 stars.

three-stars


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Guest Review: Bliss and the Art of Forever by Alison Kent

Posted December 12, 2016 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Bliss and the Art of Forever by Alison KentReviewer: Tina
Bliss and the Art of Forever by Alison Kent
Series: Hope Springs #4
Published by Montlake Romance
Publication Date: April 7th 2015
Pages: 325
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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three-half-stars

Now that she’s committed to leaving Hope Springs, she’s falling for the wrong man…but he just might give her all the right reasons to stay.

Two years after her husband’s death, kindergarten teacher Brooklyn Harvey is leaving Hope Springs for her in-laws’ vineyard in Italy—with no plans of coming back. That is, until she meets a disarmingly sexy biker-turned-chocolatier. He might be the man of her dreams, but he’s also the father of one of her students; as such, he’s strictly off-limits.

Callum Drake knows a good thing when he sees one, and he doesn’t want to let Brooklyn get away, even if his rival for her affection is the ghost of her dead husband. He’ll do whatever it takes to win her over, including making chocolates concocted just for her—chocolates that evoke memories of their time together. But can he create a second love bright enough to pull her, and her heart, out of living in the past?

On a random trip to the library I found Bliss and the Art of Forever by Alison Kent hanging out on the “newer” book section. Being one of those people who DOES judge a book by it’s cover, I had to pick it up! As I have mentioned in my previous reviews, I am a total sucker for books with “cute” covers. I use this term for lack of a better word, as these covers are the ones that draw my attention before any other. Then, on top of that, if the synopsis describes a quirky romance, a creepy psychological thriller, or an emotionally-charged drama, I am pretty much sold. That being said, this book fits the above criteria to a T.

Bliss and the Art of Forever is the 4th book of a series called Hope Springs. Seeing that, I looked around for any of the previous books but had no luck. After reading this book though, I feel like it can be read as a stand-alone. I didn’t feel like I missed anything by not reading the prior books. I did feel that this book was a little slower paced than the ones I normally read. I personally didn’t find this to be an issue, but thought it was worth mentioning for those readers who prefer a faster pace. I actually liked the more relaxed pace as it seemed perfect for this simple and sweet romance.

What is different about this book from other romances that I am familiar with is that one of the main characters is a long-haired, tattooed ex-biker. You usually find this type of Alpha Male in those steamy erotic reads. The thing that drew me in was that fact that the guy is also a single parent of a six yr old daughter, and is a successful chocolatier. The book includes some yummy-looking recipes thrown in every couple chapters as well. I actually found a few that I wrote down to try later! The only other thing that I could find that might deter some other romance readers besides the slower pace is the fact that the book does not include any steamy sex scenes. So, if that is something that matters to you, you might keep that in mind.

Bliss and the Art of Forever is a lighthearted, readable romance that provided me with a relaxing way to pass the time while I waited for my car to be serviced. I sped right through it without having to put too much thought into it. The setting of Hope Springs was perfect, and I found all the characters to be engaging and interesting. I will definitely be checking into the other books in the series.

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Who We Were Before by Leah Mercer

Posted December 1, 2016 by Tina R in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Who We Were Before by Leah MercerReviewer: Tina
Who We Were Before by Leah Mercer
Published by Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: October 1st 2016
Genres: Women's Fiction
Pages: 256
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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four-stars

Zoe knows that it wasn’t really her fault. Of course it wasn’t. But if she’d just grasped harder, run faster, lunged quicker, she might have saved him. And Edward doesn’t really blame her, though his bitter words at the time still haunt her, and he can no more take them back than she can halt the car that killed their son.

Two years on, every day is a tragedy. Edward knows they should take healing steps together, but he’s tired of being shut out. For Zoe, it just seems easier to let grief lead the way.

A weekend in Paris might be their last hope for reconciliation, but mischance sees them separated before they’ve even left Gare du Nord. Lost and alone, Edward and Zoe must try to find their way back to each other—and find their way back to the people they were before.

But is that even possible?

At first I was torn about whether or not I wanted to request Who We Were Before on NetGalley. Emotionally-charged books are always on my radar, but some topics are hard for me to read, especially when they deal with cruelty to children, vulnerable people and animals. I also struggle with topics about losing a loved one to illness or accident, since it is something that I am unfortunately too familiar with. I don’t choose to read too many books like these as they usually leave me emotionally drained for a few days after I read them. But after some debating, I decided that it sounded like a book worth trying.

The first line totally punched me in the stomach, It was like that first drop on a rollecroaster – you know it’s coming, but it still catches you off-guard every time. As adults, we are often faced with baggage that we just can’t let go of, no matter how much we want to. We feel we deserve that pain and the guilt that this baggage gives us. When this involves the loss of a loved one, there is no “getting over it”. Ever. But when you are the cause of the loss or even believe that you are, the burden becomes unfathomable.

This is where the book begins. A child is gone and all the should-haves and could-haves will never change the outcome or bring them back. All you have is the heavy blanket of grief.

The author, Leah Mercer certainly knows how to use words to grab you by the heart and squeeze. Her writing is power-packed with raw emotion. As I sat in the living room reading, my fiance told me that I looked like I was about to cry. I probably was…

Who We Were Before is a story of grief. But, it is also about trying to learn to heal. It got inside my head and caused me to rethink some things. While I can’t tell you that this was an enjoyable read, I can say that I feel it was a necessary one. At least it was for me. I feel like it made me look at things a little differently . So, if you choose to read this one, be prepared to have a big dose of “the feels”. I think the author did a great job and I think you should give it a try.

I received this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. I appreciate the opportunity to discover this book.

four-stars


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