Publisher: Kensington

Sunday Spotlight: Taken by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted May 5, 2019 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 4 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. 🙂

I don’t usually read novellas, but I will always make an exception for Rebecca Zanetti. In fact, I’m not reading very many romantic suspense books these days. Again, I made an exception for Rebecca Zanetti. You should too! I highly recommend starting with the Sin Brothers and moving on from there.

Sunday Spotlight: Taken by Rebecca ZanettiTaken by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Deep Ops #1.5
Also in this series: Hidden (Deep Ops, #1), Hidden (Deep Ops, #1)
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 103
Length: 3 hours and 8 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

Hunter Holt might be the most stubborn ex-soldier ever born, but when he’s called on to help find a lost foster kid, he jumps into action. Even if it means working with the woman who broke his heart five years ago—the woman who still haunts his dreams . . .

Faye Smith has spent five long years trying to get her life back on track. She knows she should’ve turned toward Hunter and not away from him. But they both had too many demons to destroy. Maybe now they’ll get another chance—and save someone else’s life too . . .

But first they’ll have to stop arguing long enough to trust the Deep Ops team. Hunter was a lost boy himself once. In fact, he ran away from the exact same man, their monster of a father. Now he and Faye will have to unite to find the brother he never knew—and maybe each other . . .

 

Excerpt

To say that things hadn’t ended well for them would’ve been the understatement of a century—heck, of the entire existence of human beings on Earth. Even a caveman breakup, with swinging mammoth bones and the throwing of fire, would’ve seemed like an afternoon at the beach compared to the day Faye and Hunter called it quits.

Which explained why her hands were sweaty and her tennis shoes kept tripping over the exposed tree roots of the barely-there path on the way to his cabin. Pine trees closed in from every direction, and an animal squawked in the distance. The sound probably came from a bird, but the beast sounded like it had teeth. Did some birds have teeth? She’d had to toss a decapitated bunny off her deck last year because of a sociopathic owl hunting the forest behind her house. So if not teeth, then maybe claws.

At the moment, she’d rather face that owl than Hunter Holt. He would not be happy to see her, and he’d be downright hostile to the news she was bringing. Dread and anticipation boiled inside her at the prospect of seeing him again. Her first love. Heck, her only love. Man, he’d been everything.

Maybe he’d gotten fat and bald in the past five years and had taken up smoking, which would give him wrinkles. The thought cheered her. Then hopefully she’d stop having dreams about him that resulted in her seeking a cold shower.

She turned a corner, and the side of his cabin came into view. It faced the Smoky Mountains and Dogwood Creek, which rushed by surprisingly fast for late June. A tumble of large rocks angled up from the water to a man-made stone wall designed to protect the wood and rock cabin from flooding.

He came out from the rear of the cabin, his gait easy, his gaze alert. No doubt his bizarre instincts had warned him of her approach half a mile down the trail. “Faye.”

Ah, shoot. Neither fat nor bald. In fact, the bastard looked better than ever. “Hunter,” she said, drawing on years of practice to keep her voice level and calm.

His intense blue eyes, the color of a male indigo bunting in the height of mating season, revealed absolutely no emotion. His dark blond hair was cut short and yet was still shaggy—thick enough for a woman to spend some serious time running her hands through it. Despite the short beard and mustache he wore, the hard angles of his face proved he’d grown even more handsome in the past five years. His chest had broadened, and cut muscles shifted beneath the worn cotton of his shirt. “What are you doing here?”

Had his voice deepened? She held her stance on the trail, the toe of her shoe angled on a rock. “Miss Angelina sent me.”

Finally, emotion. His eyebrows rose, and he moved toward her as if unable to help himself. “Is she okay?” Urgency roughened the edges of his southern accent.

“She’s fine,” Faye murmured, something hurting inside her chest. Would he have had the same reaction if somebody had approached him about her? After all these years, the good and bad, would he have cared one bit if something happened to her? Not that it mattered. Not anymore. “She wants our help. That means…” Faye lifted a shoulder.

He sighed and tucked his thumbs in his front pockets. “We help.”

She nodded. The man might be one of the deadliest on the planet, and the crankiest, but when Miss Angelina called, you went, no matter who you were, or who you’d become.

“Why send you?” he asked.

Ouch. Seriously. Double ouch. “I’m the only one she’s been able to reach so far,” Faye said, her hand all but itching to grab a rock and hurl it at his stubborn head. The stone facade of his face was starting to piss her off, and he probably knew it. “Would it kill you to have a cell phone?”

His frown deepened. “I have a cell phone, and Miss Angelina has the number. Called me just last week.”

Huh. What in the world did that mean? Faye tilted her head. “And she hasn’t called you yesterday or today?”

“Nope.”

Well. That was interesting, and not just a little disconcerting. Everything in Faye wanted to hand off the case to Hunter and head back to figuring out what do with her life in Louisville. But Miss A had been insistent that Faye work it to the end, and there was some logic there, considering Faye had once been a shrink. A mistake among many in her life. She drew off her beige backpack, because her shoulders were starting to ache. “Perhaps Miss A wanted me to deliver these to you.”

His gaze dropped to the pack, and then he sighed. “You might as well come inside, then.”

“How could a girl refuse such a gallant offer?” she snapped, holding the pack with her good arm and starting for the green-painted side door.

The quickest flash of a smile lifted his lips for a moment. When she came abreast of him, he reached for the backpack.

She jerked it away. “I’ve got it.”

“It looks heavy.” He reached for it again, his long arm easily snaking across her body to grasp the strap.

“No.” She pulled again, engaging in a tug of war reminiscent of when they were kids. Finally, she twisted her torso, and he either had to let go or pull her entire body toward him.

He didn’t let go.

Instead, he grabbed both straps and pulled, jerking her up against his much harder and taller form. His scent of man and wild maple hit her so fast she gasped as memories flooded in. “When are you gonna learn that life isn’t fair?” He lifted, and she had no choice but to relinquish the bag or somehow grow ten inches. “You’re five-four, a buck twenty, and in a physical fight, you’re not gonna win.”

“Five-five,” she retorted, releasing the bag and instantly punching him in the gut as hard as she could. Pain ripped from her wrist up her arm. His darn ribs were steel.

He sucked in air, pained. “I’d forgotten your sucker punch.”

“You’re a moron.” She turned away, pissed beyond belief that she’d lost the backpack.

“So you’ve said, on more than one occasion,” he drawled, back in control again. “In fact, I believe that’s the last thing you yelled at me.”

“Actually,” she said, looking over her shoulder directly at him, “I believe it was ‘I love you, and I’m sorry.’” Then she turned and shoved open the door to his cabin.

Deep Ops

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: May 2019

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 Rebecca Zanetti

Rebecca Zanetti is the author of over twenty-five romantic suspense, dark paranormals, and contemporary romances, and her books have appeared multiple times on the New York Times, USA Today, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks bestseller lists. She lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her own Alpha hero, two kids, a couple of dogs, a crazy cat…and a huge extended family. She believes strongly in luck, karma, and working her butt off…and she thinks one of the best things about being an author, unlike the lawyer she used to be, is that she can let the crazy out.


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Guest Review: In a Badger Way by Shelly Laurenston

Posted April 24, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: In a Badger Way by Shelly LaurenstonReviewer: Jen
In a Badger Way by Shelly Laurenston, Charlotte Kane
Series: Honey Badger Chronicles #2
Also in this series: Hot and Badgered (Honey Badgers Chronicles #1), Hot and Badgered (Honey Badger Chronicles, #1)
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 410
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Petite, kind, brilliant, and young, Stevie is nothing like the usual women bodyguard Shen Li is interested in. Even more surprising, the youngest of the lethal, ball-busting, and beautiful MacKilligan sisters is terrified of bears. But she’s not terrified of pandas. She loves pandas.

Which means that whether Shen wants her to or not, she simply won’t stop cuddling him. He isn’t some stuffed Giant Panda, ya know! He is a Giant Panda shifter. He deserves respect and personal space. Something that little hybrid is completely ignoring.

But Stevie has a way of finding trouble. Like going undercover to take down a scientist experimenting on other shifters. For what, Shen doesn’t want to know, but they’d better find out. And fast. Stevie might be the least violent of the honey badger sisters, but she’s the most dangerous to Shen’s peace of mind. Because she has absolutely no idea how much trouble they’re in . . . or just how damn adorable she is.

More honey badgers! That should honestly be the tag line for this book, because anyone who glimpsed the MacKilligan sisters in Hot and Badgered should pretty much know what that means: lots of fighting and violent but devoted sisterly love.

This book is about Stevie MacKilligan. Stevie is the genius in the family, the one who is both a world-class scientist and a world-class musician (so far). She also has some pretty severe anxiety problems and turns into a giant raving hybrid monster when provoked. You know, as you do. There are some more fishy things happening to hybrid shifters in the world, and Stevie has to help put a stop to it. Luckily, she has Shen to help her. Shen is a panda shifter who likes his life filled with quiet and all the bamboo he can eat. The more time he spends with Stevie, though, the more he realizes he may be ok with a little disruption.

Stevie isn’t my favorite MacKilligan sister. I wasn’t that interested in her in the first book, and I still wasn’t that interested in her after her own book. It’s not that I didn’t like her, but I did think she was a bit immature. Her romance with Shen didn’t have much substance to it either. Laurenston’s books do share focus between plot and romance in largely equal measures, and this book follows that pattern. The problem was, I didn’t really see a huge connection between Stevie and Shen. Shen seemed too old, too mature for Stevie, and I didn’t really see where they could go by the end.

The plot, though, was fun. The villain is pretty cartoon evil, and it’s always fun to see Laurenston’s villains get their comeuppance. I really enjoyed Stevie’s friendship with Kyle, too. He’s another prodigy, and a very obnoxious one at that, but he actually had some personal growth in this book. He and Stevie were odd friends but they somehow worked, and it was fun to read about. I also loved seeing more of the MacKilligan sisters and glimpses of past couples from Laurenston’s other series.

There is a lot of talk about mental health because Stevie has some serious issues. The book makes a big deal about how she gets treatment, both therapy, and medication. Even her sisters seek some treatment in this book, and that’s not something you normally see in a wacky paranormal romance. It normalizes seeking help, which I like. If those topics are triggering for you, though, you may want to steer clear of the Honey Badger books.

Even my least favorite Laurenston books are always a good time. I’ll just keep waiting anxiously for the next book.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

Honey Badger Chronicles

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Highland Wolf by Hannah Howell

Posted April 15, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Highland Wolf by Hannah HowellReviewer: Tracy
Highland Wolf by Hannah Howell
Series: Murray Family #15
Also in this series: Highland Groom, Highland Devil (Murray Family #22)
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
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two-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Annora MacKay senses a disturbing evil in Dunncraig Keep, the estate acquired by her cousin, a cruel and ruthless man. Only her affection for the tiny girl he claims is his daughter stops her from fleeing. Then a mysterious woodcarver arrives at the castle, and she cannot stop thinking--or longing--for him . . .

James Drummond, once a laird, now an outcast, wants what was stolen from him--his good name, his lands, and his child. His disguise for getting into Dunncraig is step one of his plan, but the enticing raven-haired woman who cares for his daughter is an unwelcome surprise. For he has come seeking justice, not love . . .

Laird James Drummond was accused of murdering his wife three years ago.  He’s been on the run since then and he’s decided that enough is enough.  He needs to get into his keep and find out what really happened.  The man who took his keep from him is Donnell McKay and he’s evil. His cousin, Annora MacKay, is there to take care of Donnell’s child, but she has a feeling that all is not right in what her cousin says about the child being his.

James disguises himself as a black-haired Frenchman who does woodworking.  He wants to do such a good job that Donnell will invite him to stay in the keep and that way James will be able to be near his daughter and find out the info he needs.  He didn’t plan on falling for Annora, but he does.  James has to eventually come clean to Annora about who he is, and when he does, she agrees to help him bring Donnell down.

I really liked this book when I read it back in 2014.  This re-read was not quite as enchanting.  In fact, I thought it was just ok.  There were so many times that I rolled my eyes about things, it got a little old.

First James’s disguise was ridiculous.  How did he ever think this was a good idea?  He was only gone for three years – even with a black wig, how would no one recognize him?  I find that hard to believe.  Then there’s how easy he got into the castle.  Look, I understand that Donnell was completely full of himself and absolutely sure that he could take all comers, but he knew the new woodworker for about a minute and a half and invited him in.  Annora’s “ability” was another issue.  I seriously had to go back to figure out when they’d mentioned it.  It was so very small and not at all like the rest of the Murray clan’s abilities.  I thought it was just a stretch.

The daughter was cute and I liked her a lot but that couldn’t hold the story for me.  I wasn’t engaged in the book, or the romance and I struggled to finish it.  The story dragged and I couldn’t find the my happy place while reading.  I know everyone is different, so you should probably read this one for yourself.  Like I said, I really liked it the first time around so you might too.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Murray Family

two-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Get a Clue by Jill Shalvis

Posted April 11, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Get a Clue by Jill ShalvisReviewer: Casee
Get a Clue by Jill Shalvis

Publication Date: 2015-04
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars

And You Think You've Had A Bad Day

City girl Breanne Mooreland gets left at the altar, takes the flight from hell to her honeymoon--alone--loses her luggage, and ends up snowed in at a Sierra mountains lodge run by the kookiest staff this side of the Addams Family. Oh, and there's a gorgeous naked man taking a shower in her suite who says he isn't going anywhere. That's just the first 24 hours. . .

Burned-out vice cop Cooper Scott is in serious need of this vacation, and he's not about to give up the only available room because an upset--okay, make that insane--woman is having a conniption fit. They'll just have to make the best of it--her side of the bed versus his. But when Cooper wakes up kissing the long, leggy Breanne, he wants to show her exactly what the honeymoon suite is intended for. But that will have to wait, because a screaming Breanne has just stumbled on a very dead body. So much for vacation. . .

Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy!

This review was originally posted on Apil 1, 2008.

This was a really fast read for me. I read it over the 6-hour flight to warm Hawaii. Have I mentioned that it’s butt-ass cold in Boise?

I’ve read a few books by Jill Shalvis. I want to say that most of them were Harlequin’s, but I can’t say for sure.

Breanne was left at the altar but still determined to go on her honeymoon to lick her wounds. Arriving in the Sierra Nevada mountains at the beginning of a storm that would strand her, Breanne gets quite a surprise when she finds a naked man in the shower of her room. If that wasn’t bad enough, she finds herself attracted to Cooper Scott…after she’s sworn off men.

A burnt-out Vice cop, Cooper Scott has come to the mountains at the urging of his brother. Trying to do nothing more recharge, Cooper refuses to give his room up to Breanne. Wanting nothing more than a relaxing vacation, it doesn’t take Cooper long to figure out that relaxing around Breanne is pretty much impossible.

When Breanne literally stumbles upon a dead body, Cooper instantly goes into “cop mode”. Unfortunately he’s snowed in with a woman who is scared of the dark and hears strange noises, a butler who looks like he belongs in one of L.A.’s most dangerous gangs, a knife-wielding chef who looks like someone’s little sister, a handyman that can’t fix anything, and a housekeeper who looks like she stepped off the pages of Playboy. Which basically means that everyone is a suspect.

I really enjoyed this book. At the beginning of each chapter, there were short entries from Breanne’s journal, which she took everywhere with her. I read each one to my husband. He was suitably impressed. These are a few of my favorites:

I’ve heard that men are like fine wine. They begin as grapes, and it’s up to women to stomp the shit out of them until they turn into something acceptable to have dinner with. Me, I just want to do the stomping.

And…

Men exist because a vibrator can’t change a flat tire. On second thought, I should just buy a AAA card.

Last one…

Life is like a boner: long and hard.

Before you think that Breanne is a man-hating shrew, let me say that she’s not. She’s a woman that has had several hard knocks in life and still manages to find humor in them. Now she finally has a man that sees the real her. The problem is convincing herself that she’s finally found a good one.

This is a funny and enjoyable read. I recommend it to anyone that wants to read anything light.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: It Only Takes a Kiss by Wilma Counts

Posted April 4, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: It Only Takes a Kiss by Wilma CountsReviewer: Tracy
It Only Takes a Kiss by Wilma Counts
Series: Once Upon a Bride #2
Also in this series: My Fair Lord (Once Upon a Bride #1)
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Best friends since their schooldays, Henrietta, Harriet, and Hero are wise and witty young ladies, embarking on the sometimes bumpy road to happily-ever-after, each in her own brilliant way...

Hero Whitby has harbored long-buried fears since a devastating attack by two young men of the privileged class. Now, while her peers aspire to husband-hunting, Hero pursues her passion to be a doctor, working alongside her father, a respected Devonshire physician. But when a badly beaten stranger is carried in to his practice, Hero is stunned by her reaction. Over three days of tending to the man, along with her instinct to heal, she finds herself intensely drawn to him.

Robbed and left for dead for highwaymen, Alexander Sterne has no memory of his past as a soldier in Wellington's army—or as a carousing playboy. But as he becomes aware of his surroundings and the plight of the locals, Alex realizes only he can break the corrupt hold of an evil land steward. And when Hero's tender kiss awakens him from sleep—and restores his identity—he knows that he must regain not only his strength but a newfound compassion...which can only be ignited by Hero and a meeting of hearts that may heal them both.

Hero is considered on the shelf and as such is living with her doctor father in his place in Cornwall.  She wants to be a doctor herself and has learned almost everything she needs to know from her father.  She’s woken up one night by locals who found a beaten man by the side of the road.  He is completely built, and Hero can’t help from noticing how beautiful his body is (how unprofessional, Hero!).

The man eventually wakes up and doesn’t remember his past.  When he returned from the war he had pretty bad PTSD so that might be a good thing.  He eventually remembers and figures out that he is the third son of a duke and was arriving in Cornwall incognito.  He was to check the books of the land steward of his very own holdings.  Because the land steward isn’t on the up and up, they attacked the “bookkeeper” and left him for dead.

The land steward turned out to be a very bad guy and was threatening to evict people from the land if they didn’t help him with his smuggling ring – this included part of Hero’s family.

I liked this story. I found the whole smuggling/land steward/amnesia story really worked for me.  I thought that Counts did a great job with all of that. She wrote a story that kept my attention and I wanted to keep reading.

Unfortunately I didn’t feel as strongly about the romance in the story.  While I liked both Hero and Alex, I wasn’t feeling it between them.  Hero knew Alex by reputation, since he’d never actually been to that particular holding since he’d inherited it.  She knew the owner was a drunkard and a rake, and thought him the lowest of lows.  When she found out that Alex was the owner, she was pissed.  Of course, Alex had lied to her, but still, she should have listened when he’d said he’d changed.

In the end I found the book to be satisfying, but not as satisfying as I thought it would be at the beginning.  I was disappointed that the second half of the book wasn’t as good as the first half.  I still think it’s worth reading if you like smuggling stories.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Once Upon a Bride

three-half-stars


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