Tag: Kensington

Sunday Spotlight: Dream On by Stacey Keith

Posted November 19, 2017 by Holly 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. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

I discovered this book while browsing NetGalley and thought it sounded super cute. I was on a break from contemporary romances for a little while, but now that I’m back this sounds right up my alley.

Sunday Spotlight: Dream On by Stacey KeithDream On by Stacey Keith
Published by Kensington
Publication Date: November 7th 2017
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Deep in the heart of Texas is a small town where secret wishes have a funny way of coming true . . .

With a nine-year-old daughter, an overdue light bill, and a job slinging burgers while zooming around on roller skates, Cassidy Roby is not living the glamorous life. But Cuervo, Texas, has its charms: quiet streets, loving family, and the down-home familiarity of knowing which of your neighbors are mean as snakes. With Cassidy’s reputation, she knows what will happen if she steps a foot out of line. But how can she help it now that Mason Hannigan’s back in town?

As Cuervo’s high school quarterback ten years ago, Mason was all rock-hard abs and yes-ma’am manners. Now that he’s living the glitz and glory of the NFL, he’s all that plus a couple million bucks. The desire blazing between them is too hot to hide. Cassidy has some experience getting her heart broken by the hometown hero—and having the whole world watch her try to pick up the pieces. Will adding fame, fortune, and paparazzi be a playbook for disaster—or lead to the biggest adventure of her life?

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Excerpt

Cassidy stood shivering and barefoot on her porch. No one was up this early except the Perkins boy who weaved along the sidewalk on his bike, pitching newspapers.

But the hush of morning made everything beautiful—the silver mist, the dew-covered grass, the gray light of dawn. And she knew with absolute certainty that this one moment, when her body ached so deliciously and her heart felt so full, would stay with her forever.

Behind her, she could hear Mason washing his breakfast dishes in the sink. She’d cooked for him just as though they were any other couple and this were any other morning. There he’d sat grinning up at her from the table, and she was so in love with him, her hands shook when she scraped eggs from the skillet onto his plate. Every piece of toast she buttered was his toast. Every cup of coffee she poured was his coffee. While he ate, she ran her fingers through his thick dark hair and that feeling of delirious happiness moved through her, so intense it felt like pain.

Waiting out on the porch, she heard him close the zippers on his rucksack. Last night, the sound of a zipper had driven her crazy with desire. Now, there was no lonelier sound in the world.

Then Mason walked out on the porch, dropped his rucksack, and gathered her in his arms. Just touching him was enough to make her pulses go haywire, but as he claimed her mouth, heat and urgency and a terrible sense of loss crashed over her. Mason’s kiss deepened. Tears smarted behind her eyelids. All she could do was hope she didn’t fall apart in front of him.

“I don’t want to go,” he muttered against her lips.

“You have to. Practice, remember?”

“I can’t stop touching you.”

“Your coach is going to chop you up into tiny pieces.” Despite her sadness, no way was she going to hold him back or get him in trouble.

With visible reluctance, he released her. He closed his eyes and pressed his forehead against hers. Did he guess her heart was breaking? That no matter how much he said he loved her, she knew enough about the world he inhabited, a world of fame and money and adoration, that would inevitably take him away from her.

Mason lifted his hand and gently stroked one side of her face. “Cassidy…”

“Yes?”

“Come to Dallas. We’re playing the Giants this weekend. Lots of wives and girlfriends will be there. You’ll love it. And that way, you can meet everybody.”

Everybody. She forced herself to smile. Everybody sounded like she would be on the receiving end of a whole lot of what Kayla served, only dressed up and with more money.

But this was for Mason. It came with the package.

“All that matters is getting to see each other,” he said. “I could send you a plane ticket. Or maybe you’d rather have a driver and a limo.”

A limo? She tried to picture one of those shiny black cars like the one she’d ridden in for prom and cringed when she thought what a stir that would cause in Cuervo. “Flying is good. But I don’t know yet if I can make it.” Or how she would make it. She had a daughter. A house. A job.

She forced another smile before he read her thoughts, yet worry intensified. It made her head ache. But then every muscle in her body ached right now from what he’d given her last night and, from the look on his face, wanted to give her again. A car drove by with more than a few faces pressed to the window. Heat crept up to her cheeks. They were out on her porch. Everyone could see it was him and what they were up to.

“I’ll videochat you tonight,” he said. With a glint in his eye, he added, “What do you think my chances are of getting your clothes off?”

Doesn’t that sound cute?

Dreams Come True

Giveaway Alert

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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

Stacey Keith

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Award-winning author Stacey Keith doesn’t own a television, but reads compulsively—and would, in fact, go stark raving bonkers without books, most of which are crammed into every corner of the house. She lives with her jazz musician boyfriend in Civita Castellana, a medieval village in Italy that sits atop a cliff, and she spends her days writing in a nearby abandoned 12th century church. But the two things she is most proud of are her ability to cook pasta alla matriciana without burning down the kitchen, and swearing volubly in Italian with all the appropriate hand gestures.


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Guest Review: Wanted: Mom for Christmas by Lee Kilraine

Posted November 8, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Wanted: Mom for Christmas by Lee KilraineReviewer: Tracy
Wanted: Mom For Christmas by Lee Kilraine
Series: Cates Brothers #5.5
Published by Kensington's Lyrical Shine
Publication Date: November 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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three-half-stars

Christmas is coming to Climax, North Carolina—and it’s delivering an unexpected second chance right to Hawk Savage’s door…

For small-town cop and single dad Hawk Savage, Christmas tends to be more hassle and worry than mistletoe and magic. His daughter, Heather, is ten going on teenager, while his son, Henry Lee, has decided he needs a mommy, ASAP. HL’s constant matchmaking is enough to break a father’s heart, but Hawk has a more immediate problem. His high-school girlfriend, Nora Joy, just arrived on his doorstep, claiming to be his family’s new Rent-A-Mom. He sure didn’t hire her, but he can’t turn Nora’s admittedly shapely tush out on the street.

Sidelined by injury, Olympic medal-winning volleyball player Nora receives a mysterious Rent-A-Mom job offer just when her finances, and her spirits, are at an all-time low. True, she’s not much for cooking. Or housekeeping. Still, it’s hard to resist Hawk’s children…and Hawk himself has changed from the lanky teenager she once knew to a strong, steady, very tempting man.

Christmas in Climax is shaping up to be full of surprises. But the biggest one of all might be the happy-ever-after that a little boy’s Christmas wish can bring…

After Nora finds her boyfriend in bed with her best friend she heads to her mom’s home to talk  things out.  She doesn’t get a whole lot of sympathy and then finds out that her mother has not only spent all of Nora’s money but has put her in great debt as well.  Nora’s not sure she’ll still be able to play volleyball for a living so sets out to find a job for herself.  This proves harder than it looks.  She finally gets an email from someone offering her a job as a Rent-A-Mom.  Nora has no experience and her mother was a horrible role model so of course, she takes the jobs.  Beggars can’t be choosers, right?

Nora heads from California to her hometown of Climax, North Carolina to meet the family she’s going to play mom to.  There’s 7-year-old Henry Lee aka HL and 10-year-old Heather and then there’s their hot father, Hawk.  Nora doesn’t really get a good look at Hawk because when she arrives at the house he’s sick with the flu.  Nora nurses him back to health with the help of the kids and all is well until he is coherent.  He realizes that the Rent-A-Mom is Nora, his girlfriend from 11th grade, and as hot as he thinks she is, he never ordered a Rent-A -Mom.  Events play out so that Hawk and the kids end up inviting Nora to stay until Christmas and this gives them all a chance to get to know each other and worm into each other’s hearts.

This was a very cute novella.  Nora and Hawk’s relationship from high school was sweet and their separation was sad.  I was happy that they got another chance with each other in the end.

Heather and HL were adorable kids who had their own personalities.  HL was outgoing and competitive and Heather was quiet and shy.  The pair were so opposite but they got along well.  Heather was a little leery at first with Nora, as she should be, but HL was all in.  These kids were just wonderful and I loved reading about them breaking out of their previous lives and inviting Nora in.

This was a lovely Christmas story and a complete standalone in the series.  I haven’t read any of the other books in the Cates Brothers series but didn’t feel like I was missing any information.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Don’t Call Me Sweetheart by Codi Gary

Posted August 10, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: Don’t Call Me Sweetheart by Codi GaryReviewer: Tracy
Don't Call Me Sweetheart by Codi Gary
Series: Something Borrowed #1
Published by Kensington Shine
Publication Date: August 15th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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three-half-stars

Weddings are big business in picturesque Sweetheart, California, and Something Borrowed’s rent-a-bridesmaid service is thriving among the Hollywood elite. For the women who work there, a walk down the aisle is just a paycheck—until the right guy makes it priceless . . .

RULE #1: GROOMSMEN ARE STRICTLY OFF LIMITS

Marley Stevenson never imagined her stint as a rented Maid of Honor would practically become a career. Then again, nothing in her life has gone according to plan. At least the money’s good—and she needs it to pay off student loans and help out her mom. But the job has rules, which have never been an issue . . . until one encounter with a gorgeous best man—and his swoon-worthy Southern accent—sends Marley reeling.

Determined to get through the weekend with her professional reputation intact, Marley grits her teeth and sends out her best “unavailable” vibes, but Luke Jessup doesn’t give up that easy. A former Marine and a current SWAT team officer, his focus is legendary—and it’s on Marley. Jeopardizing her job is bad enough, and starting a relationship based on half-truths is worse—yet Marley is beginning to wonder if certain risks are worth taking, especially in the name of true love . . .

Marley works at Something Borrowed – a rent-a-bridesmaid service.  She’s doing well and while she doesn’t love her work it pays the bills and lets her save money so that she can fulfill her dream of moving to New York and working for a large publishing house.

Marley meets Luke while he’s in town for his best friend’s wedding and she’s instantly attracted – until she finds out that he’s a groomsman in a wedding that she’s a hired bridesmaid.  Members of the bridal parties are strictly off-limits to employees of Something Borrowed. Marley can’t tell Luke the truth and the she has to act like the bridezilla is a friend of hers when all she wants to do is smack her. Marley does her best to steer clear of Luke but she ends up giving in.  She knows she might lose her job but she thinks she’s in love with him.  Of course she can’t be with him as he lives in LA and she’s moving to New York.

This was a cute story.  Gary does a great job at small town romance and this one hit that mark to a T.  I love small towns so I always wonder what’s so horrible in them that the characters always want to move away.  I guess if you grow up in one it becomes mundane.  Luckily Marley finally saw her town of Sweetheart for the wonderful place it was – it just took her a little while.

The romance in the book was a cute one.  It seemed to happen pretty quickly but it was hot and sexy.  There was a tragedy in this story – no one got hurt – that Marley blames herself for but that all gets worked out.  I liked the story and thought it was a good, entertaining read.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: To Seduce a Stranger by Susanna Craig

Posted April 14, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: To Seduce a Stranger by Susanna CraigReviewer: Tracy
To Seduce a Stranger by Susanna Craig
Series: Runaway Desires #3
Published by Kensington, Lyrical Press
Publication Date: April 11th 2017
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three-half-stars

After her much older husband dies-leaving her his fortune-Charlotte Blakemore finds herself at the mercy of her stepson, who vows to contest the will and destroy her life. With nowhere to turn and no one to help her, she embarks on an elaborate ruse-only to find herself stranded on the way to London. . .

More than twenty years in the West Indies have hardened Edward Cary, but not enough to abandon a helpless woman at a roadside inn-especially one as disarmingly beautiful as Charlotte. He takes her with him to the Gloucestershire estate he is determined to restore, though he is suspicious of every word that falls from her distractingly lush lips.

As far as Charlotte knows, Edward is nothing more than a steward, and there's no reason to reveal his noble birth until he can right his father's wrongs. Acting as husband and wife will keep people in the village from asking questions that neither Charlotte nor Edward are willing to answer. But the game they're each determined to play has rules that beg to broken, when the passion between them threatens to uncover the truth-for better or worse. . .

Charlotte has spent her life feeling unloved.  She was taken as a baby to her uncle’s house because her mother died and her father took off to parts unknown.  Since she was illegitimate they treated her as the hired help instead of family.  When things started heating up in France (her mother was French, her father an English Earl) she left and stayed with her father’s family in England.  They treated her horribly as well.  When an elderly Duke who was friends with her aunt offers for her she accepts and thinks that maybe she’ll now get the love that she’s been missing.  Unfortunately he doesn’t touch her physically and then dies 6 weeks later.

The will is read and Charlotte receives a huge portion of the Duke’s estate but his son, the new Duke, plans on proving that his father was crazy and getting the will overturned. Charlotte and her maid take off for London to stay in the house that was left to her but Charlotte believes she’s being followed by one of the Duke’s men so she trades places with her maid and stays behind at an inn.  Unfortunately she grabbed the wrong valise and the money she had stashed away is now with her maid.  Fortunately for her a kind man offers to take her with him to his family estate.

Edward Cary is the son of an Earl but his father is a monster.  He beats Edwards mother regularly and Edward would do anything to save her.  When he hears that she’s waiting to leave until Edward is in school he decides at the ripe old age of 9 to runaway so she can get away sooner.  He heads off and takes a job on a ship.  He returns to confront his father 22 years later but runs into Charlotte on his way back.

When Edward and Charlotte reach his family seat he finds it empty and in horrible condition.  He hears his mother died not long after he left home and his father went to London and never returned.  Edward introduces Charlotte as his wife to the “caretaker” of the property which puts them into an awkward position.  It also causes problems when a man claiming to be the new Earl (Edwards father apparently passed) shows up and recognizes Charlotte for the Duchess she is.  Both Charlotte and Edward need to come to terms with who they are and confront those who would keep them from claiming their titles.

To Seduce a Stranger was a good story.  I liked both Edward and Charlotte and while they each had their own issues, they were truly good people.  Charlotte had confidence in herself in some aspects of her life but she’s been told she wasn’t worthy of love and she believed it.  Coming to terms with the fact that she could receive that love from Edward took her a while but she finally saw it for what it was.

Edward had had a horrible life to a point but then a good one after that.  He’d seen horrors both at home and while on the ship but he’d survived and made a good life for himself in the West Indies.  I had to give the guy props, he’d not only done well but tried to help with the slave issue as well.  Just a good guy.  I liked that while Edward helped Charlotte he didn’t completely trust her right off the bat because A) she was someone who needed help and b) she was a woman. Charlotte knew that Edward was keeping secrets as well but she trusted him too quickly imho.  Edward was a smart man and I liked his character.

The book was a good one but was a bit crowded with characters.  There were so many supporting characters that it was hard to keep up.  There were also people who were mentioned or showed up, I assume from previous books in the series, that I was unfamiliar with.  I think the author assumed the reader had read those books so plopped their names in.  Despite that this was a decent standalone novel.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: The Unyielding by Shelly Laurenston

Posted March 30, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Unyielding by Shelly LaurenstonReviewer: Jen
The Unyielding by Shelly Laurenston
Series: Call of Crows #3
Also in this series: The Undoing
Published by Kensington
Publication Date: March 28th 2017
Pages: 400
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four-stars

Stieg Engstrom, Angriest Viking Ever, has got big problems. The human Viking Clans of earth are in danger of being obliterated—along with the rest of the world—and the only one who may be able to save them is a super pain-in-the-ass Crow. Most people annoy Stieg, but this is the one woman he really can’t stand…

Erin Amsel loves being a Crow! Why wouldn’t she when the other Viking Clans are so hilariously arrogant and humorless? She’s not about to let all that come to an end! She just didn’t expect to be shoulder to shoulder in battle with Stieg. Then again, he’s so easy to torment—and also kind of cute.

With the future of the world riding on them, Stieg knows he’ll have to put aside his desperate need to kiss the smirk right off Erin’s face. Wait. What? He didn’t mean that—did he? No! They have one goal: To conquer the idiots. Because nothing bugs Stieg more than when idiots win. If only he can keep himself from suddenly acting like one….

Another Call of Crows book, and another review from me gushing about how much I love this series!

We finally get Erin Amsel’s book! For those who’ve haven’t been reading along I won’t waste time with too much summary, but the very abbreviated version is that the Viking Clans, who are each in service to a different Nordic god/goddess, have to work together to stop the rogue goddess Gullveig from bringing about Ragnarok (the Viking end of the world). It turns out that the only one who even might be able to stop her is Erin, and she has to go on a quest to get the tools she needs to do it. She’s aided by Stieg Engstrom, a grumpy, fierce Viking who REALLY doesn’t like Erin (or at least that’s what he thinks). Erin and Stieg have to journey to the very edge of hell while the Crows and the rest of the Clans have to prepare for a battle to save the world.

Erin, as we are repeatedly told by literally everyone in this series including Erin herself, is a dick. She loves to stir the pot, never hesitates to speak her mind, and has basically little filter between her brain and her mouth. She isn’t  exactly malicious, but nor does she particularly care if what she says or does hurts anyone’s feelings. It has ensured nearly every other Clan can’t stand Erin, and even her Sister Crows want to murder her more often than not. (Don’t be alarmed though–pretty much everyone wants to, or explicitly tries to, murder someone else in these books at some point! These are violent, crazy fairytales!) I have totally enjoyed Erin right from the start, and it was great to see her own story. She is just so damn hilarious.

The things that I loved about the first two books in the series were what I loved most about this one, too. First and foremost, the female friendships are SO AWESOME. These women have each other’s backs no matter what. I especially liked that it’s clear by this book that the three heroines of the series (Kera, Jace, and Erin) have a particular bond, and watching them try to protect and support each other was so great. I also love the Norse mythology of the series. Probably my favorite is when we get to “meet” the gods and goddesses, like Odin and Tyr. They are so self-absorbed and ridiculous–Laurenston has taken all the outrageous behaviors from the myths and imagined the kind of being that would do such things. It is a total riot and so clever. The secondary cast of characters is also pretty amazing and add so much richness and comedy to the story.

And yet…there were a few things that bothered me. First, I wanted to learn a bit more about Erin. I wanted to know WHY she’s such a dick. We hear a little about her family and her death, but there’s just not much explanation. I know, it’s probably unfair of me to start wishing for more depth, because that’s not what this series is about. I just found Erin so fascinating and fun that it was hard not to want more. I also didn’t really understand Stieg. Frankly he was kind of forgettable even in the earlier books, and I still felt that way about him by the end of this one. Erin does certainly soften towards him in her own Erin-way, but I wanted a touch more to the romance, even though I know that’s not really what these books do.

Despite wanting a bit more from this book, I still had an amazingly good time reading it. It is funny, clever, and exciting, and I never regret spending time in the world of the Crows.

Grade: 4 out of 5

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

four-stars


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