Publisher: Kensington

Sunday Spotlight: (im)Perfectly Happy by Sharina Harris

Posted April 26, 2020 by Rowena in Features | 2 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. 🙂

Sharina Harris contacted us a couple of months ago and brought her book to my attention. After reading through her email and then checking out her book, I knew that I was going to read it. I’m a big fan of books that feature a strong set of female friendships and (im)Perfectly Happy looks like it fit the bill. This book comes out on Tuesday so you don’t have a long wait but check out an excerpt from the book.

Sunday Spotlight: (im)Perfectly Happy by Sharina HarrisImperfectly Happy by Sharina Harris
Publisher: Davina
Publication Date: April 28, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Genres: Women's Fiction
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
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When four college friends formed the Brown Sugarettes Mastermind Group, they had very different goals--but matched each other in ambition. Yet ten years later they can't help wondering what happened to the hopeful, confident, driven women they used to be--and how to get them back . . .

Radio personality Raina, known as "the black Delilah," hates the wholesome persona that's made her a success. Doling out syrupy versions of her grandma's wisdom feels worlds away from the sarcastic, tell-it-like-it-is woman Raina really is.

Kara Jones was sure she'd be a master sommelier by thirty. Life and loss interfered with that plan. Now she has one more chance--but it's taking a toll on her self-esteem and her marriage.

Nikki Grayson hardly recognizes the stay-at-home mom she's become. When her band signed a record deal, she swapped the limelight for a minivan and a sensible 'do. Now she's wishing she had followed her heart. Instead, she's drowning her regret in alcohol.

Public defender Sienna Njeri willingly put her city council aspirations aside to support her fiance's bid for office--and now she's wondering if her loyalty is misplaced.
Longing for the support, advice, and tough love they once shared, all four resolve to start meeting up again. After all, their dreams may still be within reach. But are they worth the price they'll pay to achieve them?

Excerpt

What in the hell have I gotten myself into? My palms were a soupy mess, I wiped them on my shorts, while my heart pounded against my chest. The screechy squawks of packing tape being ripped off cardboard and the sound of occasional grunts coming from Cameron, who was unpacking boxes and shifting furniture, forced tendrils of guilt down my spine.

He was grinding away getting things done while I sat motionless, alternating between Disney Princess happy and trembling like a frightened kitten. My phone buzzed, and I grabbed it from the pocket of my cutoffs. Nikki’s name flashed across the screen. I pressed the answer button, but before I could greet her, she said, “How’s your scary ass doing?”

“I’m good. Just getting things organized.” I lied easily to my best friend from college. And like all best friends, she knew I was full of shit.

“You’re a damn lie.”

“What’s up, Nik?” My annoyance was clear in my tone. “You know I’m busy.”

“The girls and I were talking . . . and anyway, I volunteered as tribute.” The girls she was referring to were my two other best friends from college, Sienna and Kara. We were always up in each other’s business, so I wasn’t surprised they’d gotten together to discuss God knows what.

“Volunteered for what?”

“Volunteered to talk some sense into you. We know you have cold feet about moving in with Cam.”

What did they think I would do—run away from home? I squelched down the flare of irritation that prickled my skin. My friends meant well, but I wasn’t in the mood for the all men aren’t like your daddy lecture. I knew that already. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be doing a bunch of domestic shit like buying mulch and analyzing a dozen gray paint samples with stupid names like Mole’s Breath. A roll of sweat trickled from my neck onto my chest. I used my hand as a fan. I was pretty sure the sweat was from the heat, not anxiety.

“Hellooooo, Raina? You still there?”

“Yes.” I modulated my tone to my late-night radio personality I used for my job. “I’m perfectly fine.”

“Sure you aren’t. And don’t take on that bougie-ass radio therapist tone with me. You’re talking to a friend, not a caller from your show.” She smacked her lips. “Anyway, can you talk?”

I looked at my guy, who was whistling as he drilled studs above the fireplace to mount our big screen TV. “Not right now,” I whispered.

“Good. You can just listen. Cam is a great guy, and this is a good step. You’ve been together for six years, and he’s been more than patient with your crazy ass. Who else would propose three times, get rejected, and then buy a house with you?”

“First of all—” I stopped myself when I caught Cameron’s attention. His eyebrows crinkled, and his eyes scanned me. I knew he was checking to see if everything was good. I gave him a smile and thumbs-up. “It’s Nikki. She’s just wishing us good luck.”

“No, I’m not. I’m convincing your crazy-ass girlfriend to calm down,” Nikki yelled over the phone line.

Giveaway Alert

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

Sunday Spotlight: April 2020

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 Sharina Harris

Sharina Harris earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgia State University. After college, she pursued a career in digital marketing and public relations. Although her profession required writing, she decided to pursue a career in writing in 2012.

Sharina’s contemporary romance series under the pen name, Rina Gray, was named Book Riot’s 100 Must‑Read Romantic Comedies. When Sharina’s not writing, she can be found with her head stuck in a book, rooting for her favorite NBA teams, and spending time with friends and family.

Sharina resides in Atlanta with her husband and son. Visit her at SharinaHarris.com.


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Guest Review: The Temptation of Lady Serena by Ella Quinn

Posted February 10, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Temptation of Lady Serena by Ella QuinnReviewer: Tracy
The Temptation of Lady Serena by Ella Quinn
Series: The Marriage Game #3
Also in this series: A Kiss for Lady Mary
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: January 14, 2014
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 356
Add It: Goodreads
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two-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Ella Quinn's bachelors in The Marriage Game series are charming and cunning when it comes to the ways of love--until the right woman captures their unsuspecting hearts. . .

Custom-made gowns. . .nights at the theater. . .and a host of eligible bachelors. Accustomed to living a quiet life in the Scottish Borderlands, Lady Serena Weir has never had any of these luxuries. But when Serena's brother demands she finally have a Season in London, she's thrust into a glamorous world she's only dreamed of. . .

Robert, Viscount Beaumont, remembers all too well what it feels like to be in love. That is why he must keep his distance from Serena. He's only felt his pulse stir the way it does now when he made the mistake of loving the wrong woman once before. Yet the more he strives to resist his feelings, the nearer he is to falling under Serena's seductive spell. . .

Lady Serena gets sent to London from Scotland for a season when she is 26 years old.  Her parents had passed and she’d taken care of the family estate and dependents since she was 14 years old and her brother was off being a soldier.  When he returns with his new wife, the wife gets rid of Serena by sending her off to London.

Serena is not sure how to handle herself as she’s never been in any kind of society.  Luckily she has an aunt and a cousin from her mother’s side of the family who are sponsoring her and getting her ready.  She may not have the social wiles, but her kindness and innocence shine through and make her the talk of the ton.

Robert, Viscount Beaumont, is struck by Serena’s beauty from the moment he sees her.  He had eschewed ton events for years but he now attends as many as possible, just to dance and stare at Serena.  He is charming and soon Serena is in love with him.  He wants her desperately, but has stated that he’ll never love again (after a fiasco when he was a young man).  Robert decides he’ll ask Serena to marry him but before that happens, he compromises her.  Serena is pissed off and says she’ll not marry him because he doesn’t love her.  She then leads him on a chase, but in the end he realizes he loves her.

This would have been a great end to this story and would have happened about 50% of the way through the book.  But no, the book continued on for another 200 pages and gave us another romance, local country children getting kidnapped and the resolution of that, as well as an old bed partner of Robert’s causing trouble.  It was ridiculous.  If we could have just had the story wrap up after Robert told Serena he loved her I probably would have given this book a better rating.  Unfortunately with all of the unnecessary parts that were added into the book, the rating didn’t dip down, it took a huge dive.

I did love Serena in this book.  She was kind, generous and all that was good.  You would think that she would have been over the top, but she wasn’t.  She just knew her business when it came to running an estate, and she wasn’t afraid to tell Robert her thoughts.  Robert was a bit of an ass at first, but he settled down and became a good man.  I was happy for the two of them.

The romance was worth reading in this book but the rest…not so much.  I can’t recommend this one unless you plan on just reading the first half of the book.

Rating: 2 out of 5

The Marriage Game

two-stars


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Review: Hero’s Haven by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted January 27, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Hero’s Haven by Rebecca ZanettiReviewer: Casee
Hero's Haven by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Dark Protectors #11
Also in this series: Marked (Dark Protectors, #7), Fated (Dark Protectors, #1), Claimed (Dark Protectors, #2), Hunted (Dark Protectors, #3), Consumed (Dark Protectors, #4), Provoked (Dark Protectors, #5), Marked (Dark Protectors, #7), Shadowed (Dark Protectors, #6), Vampire's Faith (Dark Protectors, #8), Demon's Mercy (Dark Protectors, #9), Alpha's Promise
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Publication Date: January 21, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

He’s her darkest fantasy. . .

After years of struggling, Haven Daly has finally accepted that she’s nuttier than a fruitcake. Why else would she see visions of a beautiful but tormented male every night . . . and actually believe she can talk to him, even feel his touch? But thanks to those dream journeys, she can paint images nobody else on earth can duplicate. In each brush stroke, she captures the blatant masculinity and raw desire in his eyes that promise he’s coming for her…and soon.

She’s the light that keeps him going. . .

Hero’s Haven is book eleven in Zanetti’s Dark Protectors series. I’ve enjoyed this series since I first read Fated, the first book in the series. In Vampire’s Faith, which is book eight, a new story arc began and I’m loving it.

Quade Kayrs is a member of The Seven. Quade sacrificed himself thousands of years ago to keep an evil Kurjan priest from going into the world. The priest (I totally forget his name) wants nothing more than to kill all the enhanced women on earth. If he succeeds, vampires and shapeshifters will be unable to mate. Along with his brother Ronan, they trap the evil guy in a bubble and surround him with their own bubbles. I hope that makes sense because it seems kind of convoluted to me.

While Ronan’s bubble failed, Quade’s remains. Most people would say he’s gone mad and they would be right. Dying again and again only to resuscitate would drive any being mad. The only thing that gives him a little peace is the woman that visits in his dreams. It’s when his brother Ivar visits his world that he realizes that Haven is not a figment of his imagination. She’s a real person. His brothers are trying to use him to find her and that’s something that Quade won’t allow, crazy or not.

Haven Daly has accepted that she’s bonkers. She’s dreamed about a man for years, thinking she actually sees and feels him. It’s when she actually throws them both through a portal and back to her house that Haven knows that she’s cracked up. There’s no way that is possible. Right? Wrong. It’s obvious that Quade is flesh and blood. When he tells her that she isn’t human, she doesn’t question it. She’s a freak.

I did enjoy the romance part of the book, but I loved the fighting and the reuniting of the brothers. I love reading where the story is going and can’t wait until the next book comes out.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dark Protectors

four-stars


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Review: Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

Posted January 23, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Love Lettering by Kate ClaybornReviewer: Rowena
Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Format: eARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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three-half-stars

In this warm and witty romance from acclaimed author Kate Clayborn, one little word puts one woman’s business—and her heart—in jeopardy . . .

Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing beautiful custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Like the time she sat across from Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée, and knew their upcoming marriage was doomed to fail. Weaving a secret word into their wedding program was a little unprofessional, but she was sure no one else would spot it. She hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid . . .

A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out—before he leaves New York for good—how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline, a fractured friendship, and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other about their lives, work, and regrets, both try to ignore the fact that their unlikely connection is growing deeper. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .

Love Lettering has been on my TBR list for a while now and I’ve been hearing such great things about it so I was really looking forward to reading it. I read the entire thing in one day and while I enjoyed the book as a whole, I thought the beginning really dragged and it took me until chapter 9 before I started warming up to Meg, to Reid, and to everything that was happening in the book.

Our heroine, Meg Mackworth is the Planner of Park Slope. She’s made a name for herself with her custom planner business. She’s a hand-lettering specialist who handwrites party invitations, personal planners and she used to handwrite wedding invitations but her during her last wedding invitations job, she did something she shouldn’t have and so she made sure it wouldn’t happen again by quitting the wedding invitation side of her business. From now on, she’s only doing custom hand-lettering for clients who want custom planners, she’s working on a portfolio of ideas for a stationary line that she’s hoping to get a big sponsorship contract for. She tries not to think about the hidden pattern she wrote into that last wedding invitation and it’s been a year so she thinks she’s moved on from it until the groom shows up, wanting to know why she wrote that hidden code into his invitation.

Meg and Reid spark up a friendship that begins with Meg needing to find inspiration for her stationery line. She invites Reid along with her on walks around New York City so that she can find inspiration for her line and so Reid can discover the beauty of New York for himself. Reid is not happy in New York and Meg wants to show him that if he gave New York a fair shot, he would come to love it just as much as she did. They got to know each other on these walks around New York. They played games while they searched for signs around the city and ultimately, they fell in love on these walks.

Like I said before, it took me quite a while to get into this story. I just wasn’t all that interested in the beginning and that’s weird for me because I LOVE planners. I love all things planning and hand-lettering but I really struggled with this book at the start. I’m really glad that I stuck with this book though because I really came to love Meg, to love Reid, and to love New York. I’m a West Coast girl through and through but while I was reading this book, I could totally see myself moving to New York and falling in love with the city and the signs. This was a slow burn romance and I guess I was too anxious for the romance to pick up but Kate Clayborn has a writing style that flows nicely. This story unrolls slowly and picks up steam with each passing chapter. When I finished the book, I had a big ol’ grin on my face and I loved the heck out of Reid and Meg. I loved seeing Meg come into her own and I really enjoyed seeing Reid and Meg come into their feelings for each other. This was a good romance and I definitely recommend.

Final Grade

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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DNF Review: The Highlander’s Bride by Michele Sinclair

Posted January 16, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

DNF Review: The Highlander’s Bride by Michele SinclairReviewer: Holly
The Highlander's Bride by Michele Sinclair
Narrator: Anne Flosnik
Series: The McTiernays #1
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: June 1, 2007
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 318
Length: 10 hours and 24 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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dnf

BOUND BY DUTY

Highland laird Conor McTiernay had always dreamed of an enduring love. But the reality of women who desired him only for his title and lands made him swear off marriage forever. That is until he first set eyes on the Englishwoman his men found hiding in the forest. Beneath the dirt and grime it was clear Laurel Cordell was beautiful. But would she prove to be yet another beguiling seductress or had Conor finally found the one woman who could lay claim to his heart?

DRAWN BY DESIRE

Laurel trusted that the Scottish chieftain would keep her safe from the cruel laird from whom she had escaped. Looking deep into Conor's silver eyes she saw not only his calculating warrior ways but his quick arousal to passion. But before they can explore the growing desire between them, their newfound love is threatened by secrets from her past. . .

The Highlander’s Bride by Michele Sinclair is the first book in The McTiernay’s Brothers series. I don’t believe I’ve read Sinclair before, but the premise sounded good so I downloaded this from the Audible Escape package. I’m not sure if it was the story or the narrator, Anne Flosnik, but I DNF’d it pretty early in.

Conor and his brothers are on the way home from another brother’s wedding when they come upon a woman who has been sorely abused. They all want to keep her safe, but Conor especially is very attracted to and protective of her. Laurel is on the run from another Highland Laird, and she’s guarding some big secrets from her past. She agrees to travel with the McTiernay brothers because she thinks they can keep her safe, but she’s surprised at how much she trusts Conor from the start.

Almost from the second they meet they’re extremely attracted to each other. That’s fine, except they think of nothing BUT how attracted the other is. That, and how good the other smells. They’ve been traveling for the better part of a week through the Highlands, but he smells manly and attractive and she smells of lilacs? I’m not buying it. Laurel’s secrets were alluded to, as well as Conor’s mistrust of women in general, but I wasn’t interested enough in either to keep listening.

I might try to read it at some point in the future to see if it works better for me.

Rating: DNF

dnf


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