Publisher: HQN Books

Sunday Spotlight: How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan

Posted July 8, 2018 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 9 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Today’s Sunday Spotlight features Sarah Morgan’s How to Keep a Secret. A family of women coming together after a crisis to learn how to be a family again? Yeah, this sounds like all kinds of drama with the promise of more. I’m looking forward to this release and it’s a good thing that the book comes out on Tuesday. Yay!

Sunday Spotlight: How to Keep a Secret by Sarah MorganHow to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
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Goodreads

When three generations of women are brought together by crisis, they learn over the course of one hot summer the power of family to support, nourish and surprise

Lauren has the perfect life...if she ignores the fact it's a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.

Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it's... Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she's determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.

Nancy knows she hasn't been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?

Then life changes in an instant, and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha's Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unraveling their secrets might be their biggest challege, the rewards could be infinite...

Heartwarming and fresh, Sarah Morgan's brilliant new novel is a witty and deeply uplifting look at the power of a family of women.

We hope that you enjoy the excerpt. Check it out below!

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Excerpt

“You seem really distracted today. Does it bother you being forty?”

“What?” He glanced up from his emails.

“Forty.” Maybe she’d treated the whole thing too lightly. She needed to make sure he knew he was still handsome and desirable. More sex wouldn’t hurt. Sometimes the days slipped past and she’d realize it had been a week. Sometimes longer. The truth was sex between them had always been comfortable rather than urgent.

Was that normal? She had no idea because it wasn’t a topic she’d dream of discussing with friends.

Maybe he was having an affair?

Even though she’d stopped the treadmill, her heart rate continued to accelerate. No. Ed wasn’t like that. They didn’t lie to each other. That was what they’d agreed that first night they’d met. Lauren trusted Ed implicitly.

And they were happy. Happy couples didn’t have affairs.

“Are you worrying about Mack? I know she’s been difficult lately.”

She decided not to mention the pink hair. Let him notice it for himself later.

“All teenagers are difficult. I remember your mother saying your sister was a nightmare.”

Lauren realized she’d forgotten to call her sister the day before. Preparations for Ed’s birthday had eclipsed everything.

“All my mother wanted to do was paint, and she was irritated by anything that disturbed that.” Still, when Lauren thought back to some of the things she’d done with Jenna, it terrified her.

They were lucky to have come through childhood unscathed. Or mostly unscathed.

“She’s growing up.” Ed was calm. “She doesn’t have to tell us every little thing. She’s pushing for independence, and we’ve always encouraged that. And as for being difficult, it’s nature’s way of making sure teenagers want to leave home and that parents are ready to push them out of the door.”

“She’s sixteen, Ed. It’s years until she leaves home. And you know what the school told us. Mack is skipping homework and failing English. She’s always been a straight-A student. English is her best subject.”

Ed frowned. “Physics is her best subject. Last year she wanted to do aeronautical engineering.”

“That was before those girls started teasing her for being like a boy. Remember that horrible Facebook page they set up? Mack-the-man.” She’d been so upset she’d wanted to charge into school and chop off their damn princess hair with rusty scissors. It had taken a lot of maneuvering to have the page taken down and Mack had been left wounded. “She is smart. She could do what she likes, providing she works hard, but that’s the point. She isn’t. If she carries on like this, she’s going to fail her exams.” Unless there was an exam in sarcasm. Mack would ace that.

“There’s more to life than being a straight-A student, Lauren.”

“I know. But I also know how competitive the world is now. If you mess up your exams then you don’t get into a good college, and without a good college you don’t stand a chance of getting a good internship because there are literally thousands of people applying for every position. Sue Miller’s eldest graduated last summer and since then she has put in one hundred and fifty applications and hasn’t had a single interview. One hundred and fifty.

“Calm down. Mack is going to be fine, Lauren.”

She was irritated that he didn’t even glance up from his phone.

“But what if she isn’t? The school told us she’s not speaking up in class.” And since when had her daughter not spoken up in class? Mack had been speaking up ever since she’d learned how to put two words together. “And then there was that incident a month ago—”

He glanced up. “That was a one-off.”

“She was drunk, Ed! Our daughter was drunk and Tanya’s mother had to drive her home.” And Mack had refused to offer any explanation. She’d shut them out. That had disturbed Lauren more than anything. Was that when Mack had changed?

“Teenagers experiment. Tanya’s mother should have kept a closer eye on the vodka bottle.”

“It wasn’t a one-off. What about the time she took money from my purse? Our child stole, Ed.” What if Mack was experimenting with drugs? The more she thought about the list of possible horrors, the more surprising it seemed that today’s teenagers ever made it to adulthood. “I think she’s keeping something from us.” She recognized the signs, and it made her uneasy. A secret, she knew, could eat away at you slowly. It created a barrier between you and the people you loved.

“Since when do teenagers tell their parents everything? You need to chill. Mack is doing okay. She’s not the problem.”

Lauren stared at him, wrong-footed.

“What do you mean?”

“Nothing.”

“You said, ‘She’s not the problem,’ which means something else is.”

“Forget it.” His attention was back on his phone. “I might be late tonight.”

“You’re kidding. Tonight is the party.”

“The—what?” He looked confused and then closed his eyes briefly and muttered something under his breath.

“Your party. Had you forgotten?”

The pause was infinitesimal, but it was there.

“No.”

He was lying, and he never lied.

Who forgot their own fortieth birthday party?

What was on his mind?

“We have thirty people coming, Ed. Friends, colleagues, your mother—” She managed not to wince and Ed nodded.

“I’ll be there. See you later.” He grabbed a bottle of chilled water from the fridge they kept in the gym, and Lauren studied him from the back and wondered if tight Lycra cycling shorts on a man of forty was still a good look.

He slammed the fridge door shut and straightened.

“Thanks for the rainforest. It’s was a sweet thought and I’m sorry I overreacted.” He kissed her cheek. It was a dry, asexual gesture. “I love you. You’re a good woman, Lauren.”

A good woman? What did that mean?

“Maybe you should take time off. Mackenzie has three weeks at Easter. We could go away.”

“Let’s talk about it tomorrow.”

Lauren watched him leave.

She’s not the problem.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the Gleam widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: July 2018

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About the Author

Sarah Morgan

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | GOODREADS

USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes romance and contemporary women’s fiction and her trademark humour and sensuality have gained her fans across the globe. She is a 3 time winner of the prestigious RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America and has been nominated five times. Sarah lives near London, England, and when she isn’t reading or writing she loves being outdoors.

Look out for HOW TO KEEP A SECRET, Sarah’s first standalone women’s fiction novel, coming June to the UK and July to the US!


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Throwback Thursday Review: Unclaimed by Courtney Milan

Posted March 22, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Unclaimed by Courtney MilanReviewer: Holly
Unclaimed (Turner, #2) by Courtney Milan
Series: Turner #2
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: September 20th 2011
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 422
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Goodreads
four-stars


Her only hope for survival...

Handsome, wealthy and respected, Sir Mark Turner is the most sought-after bachelor in all of London and he's known far and wide for his irreproachable character. But behind his virtuous reputation lies a passionate nature he keeps carefully in check...until he meets the beautiful Jessica Farleigh, the woman he's waited for all his life.


Is to ruin the man she loves...

But Jessica is a courtesan, not the genteel lady Sir Mark believes. Desperate to be free of a life she despises, she seizes her chance when Mark's enemies make her an offer she can't refuse--seduce Mark and tarnish his good name, and a princely sum will be hers. Yet as she comes to know the man she's sworn to destroy, Jessica will be forced to choose between the future she needs and the love she knows is impossible.

Every Thursday in 2018 we will be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This review was originally published on September 28, 2011.

I considered not finishing this book when, more than halfway through, the heroine was still being dishonest about her motives and intentions with the hero. While I’m glad I finished it, I find her actions – both before he learned of her deceit and after – tarnished the story.

Jessica is a courtesan that can’t stand to be touched by men. She needs money to start over somewhere else and the only way she can get it is by ruining the most popular man in England. Mark Turner is supposed to be chaste, but Jessica knows all men have a price. She just has to find his. If she can, she’ll receive enough money from her former protector to start a quiet life elsewhere.

Mark needs a break from the pressure of London and the hordes of adoring fans, so he retires to the country. Which is where he meets the widow Jessica Farleigh. Mark isn’t just chaste – he’s trying to live a chaste lifestyle. That means doing the right thing because it’s right, not because it’s fashionable. He isn’t a hypocrite. He has needs and desires the same as every other man. He’s just chosen not to act on them..because to do so wouldn’t be fair to either himself or the lady in question.

Jessica is wounded. Her life hasn’t been what she expected it would be and things have only gone from bad to worse. She needs an out, and for a woman in her position life doesn’t offer many. I understood that. But I had a hard time connecting with her. Part of the problem is my own hang-up. I can’t stand it when a character keeps a massive secret from his/her counterpart for the entire book. Especially when it’s something that will cause the other person pain. Since Jessica did this – even having good reasons for doing so – I had a really hard time forgiving her.

Aside from that, I truly enjoyed her personal journey. She needed to learn to like herself. It wasn’t always easy, but with Mark’s help she was able to recognize her own worth. I found this personal aspect of her story fascinating.

Mark was..well, honestly, Mark was close to perfect. He wasn’t just pretending to be a chaste man. He wasn’t just pretending to want to do the right thing. He was a flawed man willing to own his mistakes and shortcomings, and to try to overcome them. It wasn’t that he wasn’t flawed, because he was, but he accepted his flaws.

This was a well written historical romance that deals very well with the personal journey of the heroine. But I found it somewhat lacking in the romance. Not that I didn’t believe in the HEA, but I wasn’t invested in them as a couple so much as I was curious about them as individuals.

The romance world needs more heroes like Sir Mark Turner.

3.75 out of 5

e=UTF8&tag=boobin-20&link_code=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969″ target=”_blank”>here or here in e-format.

four-stars


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Guest Review: Can’t Let Go by Gena Showalter

Posted October 30, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Can’t Let Go by Gena ShowalterReviewer: Tracy
Can't Let Go by Gena Showalter
Series: The Original Heartbreakers #5
Also in this series: The Closer You Come
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: October 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

With trust issues a mile long, Ryanne Wade has sworn off men.  Then Jude Laurent walks into her bar and all bets are off.  The former Army Ranger has suffered unimaginably, first being maimed in battle then losing his wife and daughters to a drunk driver. Making the brooding widower smile is priority one. Resisting him? Impossible.

To Jude, Ryanne is off limits. And yet the beautiful bartender who serves alcohol to potential motorists tempts him like no other. When a rival bar threatens her livelihood, and her life, he can’t turn away.  She triggers something in him he thought long buried, and he’s determined to protect her, whatever the cost.

As their already scorching attraction continues to heat, the damaged soldier knows he must let go of his past to hold on to his future...or risk losing the second chance he desperately needs.

Jude Laurent really doesn’t like Ryanne Wade because she runs a bar.  His wife and twin daughters were killed in a drunk driving accident and he despises anything to do with alcohol.  Sure, she has strict rules about how many drinks someone can have and she always has them sober up first, but he still doesn’t like her.  If they don’t sober up first she takes their keys and calls them a cab.  Despite his disdain for Ryanne he finds himself wanting her more and more.

Ryanne is hot for Jude but she knows that he’s been so hurt in the past that the chances of them hooking up is slim to none. Of course that doesn’t stop her from teasing him mercilessly and texting him to annoy him.  She doesn’t plan on feelings building up for the man but they come so naturally.  When Jude finally says that he ready to start a strictly sexual relationship with Ryanne she’s all for it but can she keep her feelings to just the bedroom?  Can he?

This was a great book.  I honestly couldn’t figure out how Showalter was going to manage to make me believe that Jude was ready for anything.  He was so devastated by the deaths of his family and it broke my heart to think of it.  She did, however, honestly get me to believe that their romance worked.  Despite all the obstacles in their way they did it and I was rooting for them.

There was a guy in the story that wanted to buy Ryanne’s bar and when she wouldn’t sell accidents started happening.  Of course she needed Jude’s security business to protect her business.  This was a great way to get the pair to work together but the whole issue with the rich bastard businessman seemed just so far fetched.  IDK, that part of the story seemed unrealistic and I didn’t really care for it.

Despite that one issue I really liked this book.  I liked Ryanne and Jude separately and together and they worked!  This was another Original Heartbreaker novel I definitely recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: A Christmas Affair by Jodi Thomas

Posted October 2, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: A Christmas Affair by Jodi ThomasReviewer: Tracy
A Christmas Affair (Ransom Canyon #6.5) by Jodi Thomas
Series: Ransom Canyon #6.5
Also in this series: Sunrise Crossing
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: October 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 90
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Goodreads
four-stars

Maria Anne Davis was on her way to an exciting career as a chef in Dallas, until a terrible car accident left her blind. Ever resilient, Maria has reinvented her life on her own terms, starting a business out of her home kitchen, selling her jams and jellies to the local grocery.

Maria loves romance novels, and despite her bold spirit, she fears she’ll never have a big love affair like ones her heroines experience. That is, until she realizes how much she cares about the quiet Wes Whitman, the owner of the grocery.

Wes can’t keep Maria’s wildly popular jam on his shelves – just like he can’t keep the fierce, beautiful Maria out of his thoughts. But how could a firecracker like Maria come to love a shy, nervous man like him? Maybe all they need is a grand affair. Wes needs to convince Maria that some affairs last forever, though – just in time for Christmas.

Wes and Maria don’t talk or really interact when she brings her stock in.  He pays her the money owed her and then she leaves.  Wes would like nothing more than to talk to her – and more – but he’s just too shy.  Maria ends up making the first move on Wes, which shocks and thrills him.  Maria proposes an affair – something she wants as her Christmas present.  Wes is happy to oblige but it seems like every time they turn around there are unintentional road blocks being thrown up.  The more Wes thinks about the affair with Maria the more he realizes that he doesn’t want just an affair – he wants it all.

In this novella not only do we get the sweet but whirlwind romance of Wes and Maria but we also get a bit of a story about a 15-year-old boy, Travis Fuller.  His parents are neglectful and social services has now put him into the care of his three great uncles in Crossroads, Texas.  Travis doesn’t plan on being with his uncles any longer than he planned on being with his parents. As soon as he hits age 16 he plans on running away and plots constantly as to how he can do that.

By staying with his uncles Travis gets to see that people may be screwed up in different ways but they can still love each other.   When Wes Whitman hires Travis as a stock boy in his grocery, Travis starts to see that life can be different from what he planned.  Not only is Travis then making money instead having to steal things, but he starts to have a sense of worth.  He starts to see life in a different way and I loved that.  Thomas has such a way of wrapping my heart around her characters that I couldn’t help but start pulling for Travis from the first sentence of the book.  I was so happy that by the end that he found a small sense of peace.  He was a good kid and I liked his character a lot.

Maria and Wes were definitely not your typical couple but they were good together.  I do wish they had talked more throughout the story but as it was a novella it still worked.  Sometimes two people just know they’re meant to be together and that’s all there is to it. 🙂

Overall a lovely novella and one I recommend, even if you haven’t read all of the Ransom Canyon books.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

Posted May 23, 2017 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Second Thought by Kristan HigginsReviewer: Tina
On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: January 31st 2017
Pages: 480
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Ainsley O’Leary is so ready to get married—she’s even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn’t anticipate is being blindsided by a breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her older half sister, Kate, who’s struggling with a sudden loss of her own.

Kate’s always been the poised, self-assured sister, but becoming a newlywed—and a widow—in the space of four months overwhelms her. Though the sisters were never close, she starts to confide in Ainsley, especially when she learns her late husband was keeping a secret from her.

Despite the murky blended-family dynamic that’s always separated them, Ainsley's and Kate’s heartaches bind their summer together when they come to terms with the inevitable imperfection of relationships and family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.

First of all, Kristan’s books always seem to have the best covers!! I admit that I am a total cover snob, and that is one of the first things that make me want to pick up a book – even before I see if it is one of my favorite authors or not! And, I also can count on a well-written story filled with endearing characters whenever I pick up one of her books, and On Second Thought is no exception.

This book not only tugged at my heart, it also made me smile once in awhile too. I don’t really see why this book is listed as a romance though, because to me it is more centered around the character’s lives and about their struggle to get past the things that life has dealt to them. I felt like the romance part was actually more secondary in this book.

Overall, I thought this was another good book from Kristan HIggins. Like I said, I have been a fan for a long time and will continue as such. For anyone who is not familiar with her books, you really need to go check her out, as her books are definitely worth it!

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me an advanced copy of this ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5.

three-half-stars


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