Tag: St. Martin’s Press

Sunday Spotlight: The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

Posted November 10, 2019 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 3 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. 🙂

What to do when everyone you’ve always relied on seem to disappear at the moment you need them the most? Look to yourself for the answers. From Stephanie Butland, the author of The Lost for Words Bookshop, THE CURIOUS HEART OF AILSA RAE (St. Martin’s Griffin, October 29, 2019, $17.99), will warm readers from the inside out. An emotional story about love and loss, Butland’s thoughtful imagination will tug at the heartstrings of all readers.

Sunday Spotlight: The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie ButlandThe Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: October 29, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction
Pages: 397
Add It: Goodreads
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Ailsa Rae is learning how to live. She's only a few months past the heart transplant that - just in time - saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But . . .

Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point. She knows she needs to find her father. She's missed so much that her friends have left her behind. She's felt so helpless for so long that she's let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. And now she barely knows where to start on her own.

And then there's Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn't make it. And now she's supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart.

She just needs to learn to listen to it . . .

Excerpt

9 October, 2017

Ailsa is alone when it happens.

‘We think we have your heart.’ Bryony, the transplant coordinator, is smiling from ear to ear, for once. Given that her usual message is No News Yet, that’s hardly surprising.

Ailsa feels her hands fly to her chest, as though to protect what’s in there, hold it before it dies. She makes herself move them to her lap. They are shaking. So is her voice.

‘A new heart?’ And then she feels the patched-up heart she has summon up the life to expand with hope: with permission.

Her head is a scramble of thoughts, the practical and the terrible. She needs to be nil by mouth, so when did she last eat? Where is her mum? If she’s getting a heart, that means someone, somewhere has died.

Ailsa’s mother rushes in behind Bryony, breathless, bringing cold air and cigarette smoke with her. They fight the stuffiness of the room for a second before being absorbed. ‘They told me at the nurses’ station to get along here fast. What’s happened?’ She steps across the room; her hand is in her daughter’s. All Ailsa can do is nod at her, squeeze her fingers, because her throat has tightened and her mouth is drier than usual. She wants to say: I wish you had been here when Bryony came in. You deserved to hear it with me. But that’s silly, and unimportant, and anyway, you don’t get to choose these things. You get to accept them.

‘We need to have you prepped and in theatre in three hours,’ Bryony says. ‘Hold onto your hats.’ She flips open the file in her hand, picks up Ailsa’s notes from the bottom of the bed, and so it begins.

Or ends, depending on which way you look at it.

From The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland. Copyright © 2019 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

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: November 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 Stephanie Butland

Author Photo

Stephanie Butland is a writer, who is thriving after breast cancer. (She used to say she was a survivor, but that was a bit lacking in joie de vivre.)
Although she’d never have chosen it, her dance with cancer has changed her life in many positive ways. Now she is happier, healthier, and more careful with her precious life and the precious people and things in it.

Her writing career began with her dance with cancer, and now she is a novelist.

Aside from writing, she works as a speaker and trainer, and she works with charities to help raise awareness and money in the hope that cancer will soon be about as scary as a wart.

She lives in Northumberland.


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Review: Lethal Nights by Lora Leigh

Posted September 30, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Lethal Nights by Lora LeighReviewer: Casee
Lethal Nights by Lora Leigh
Series: Brute Force #3
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Ilya Dragonovich is no stranger to the dark side. As a safe-house owner for security agency Brute Force, Dragon knows that the battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man―and, sometimes, a beautiful woman…

Emma Jane Preston needs help. After her marriage crumbled, she believed she could get back to a normal, happy life. But her ex-husband moved among some shady characters, and now she needs the kind of protection that comes at a cost―one that only someone like Dragon can provide. But can Emma Jane trust this handsome, undercover operator to keep her safe when she is in danger of falling into the arms of the deeply seductive, fiery Dragon. . .and never letting go?

Lora Leigh is one of those authors I just can’t quit. I feel like I’ve outgrown her, but it just doesn’t seem to matter. I keep coming back for more. In Lethal Nights, we’re taken back to the Brute Force series. This is the third book in the series and my first of the series. That’s fairly uncommon as I don’t generally read out of order. I didn’t feel very lost while I was reading, so it’s safe to say that you can jump in anywhere in the series.

Brute Force has made a deal with Emma Jane Preston’s in regard to using her house as safe house when they are in need of one. This is a common practice for Brute Force though they don’t generally go looking for people. The situation is different for Ilya Dragonovich who is drawn to Emma Jane from the beginning. He knows that the time isn’t right for Emma Jane as she just started divorce proceedings. He leaves her with a kiss, promising that he will be back for her.

It’s a year later and Emma Jane is in trouble. She’s becoming the target of multiple assassins and no one can figure out why. The trail seems to be non-existent which worries Ilya. Coming back into Emma Jane’s life was what he planned all along, but not because she was in danger.

Emma Jane knows that she will fall for the man with the dragon tattoo on his face. His dragon seems alive to her, which she knows is impossible. What she doesn’t know is that it is alive, but only to the person that is meant for the man.

It took me a long time to read this book. It was very slow moving at first. When it did get going, it really got going. I liked the meat of the story as well as how it concluded. While I don’t generally read very many romantic suspenses anymore, I really ended up liking this one.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Brute Force

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy

Posted September 26, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe KennedyReviewer: Jen
The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy
Series: Forgotten Empires #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

"The Orchid Throne is a captivating and sensual fantasy romance you won’t want to miss! High stakes. Remarkable worldbuilding. Unique and compelling characters. A slow-burn romance that’ll make you combust.” — Amanda Bouchet, USA Today bestselling author of The Kingmaker Chronicles

"The Orchid Throne captures from the first page and doesn't let go as Jeffe Kennedy weaves a timeless tale of love and survival amidst a lush backdrop teeming greed and deceit. You will fall for Lia and Con and root for them with every breath you take. This is a book that will linger in your thoughts for a very long time."- Darynda Jones, New York Times bestselling author

Welcome to the world of Forgotten Empires from award winning author Jeffe Kennedy that begins with The Orchid Throne.

A PRISONER OF FATE

As Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…

A PRINCE AMONG MEN

Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Euthalia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?

Lia, Queen of Calanthe, has spent the last few years of her life playing a dangerous game. Her island nation is one of the few who has not been taken over by the brutal Anure and his Empire. Lia is supposed to marry Anure, but she has been skillfully putting him off. She knows time is running short, and she is desperate to find a way to protect Calanthe, regardless of what happens to her. Con led a revolt of slaves against the Empire, and he arrives in Calanthe hoping to further his cause. Lia and Con are drawn to each other, but neither particularly trusts the other. Lia has to decide whether to throw her lot in with Con or give in to the Empire.

There is a LOT happening in this book. Kennedy has created an incredibly rich world, and for that reason this book has some info dump in it. Normally, too much of that bores me, but here I was fascinated. It helps that the world of Calanthe in particular is gorgeous and mysterious and full of magic, making you want to hear more about its secrets. I was particularly (and surprisingly) engaged by the political games Lia must play. In many ways Con’s accusation that she has lived in luxury while people in the world are dying at the hands of the Empire is completely justified. Calanthe has been spared the cruelty everyone else experienced, and most of the residents are either unwilling or unable to acknowledge that privilege. Lia believes she’s doing the right thing, but you can see the other side of that argument too. However, that safety has come largely because of Lia’s own sacrifices in recent years. She deeply understands the expectations her subjects have of her, her role on the political stage, her role as a potential wife, and how to use subtlety, charm, and ruthlessness when necessary to get what she wants. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her weigh her options, work behind the scenes, and use all her available resources to save her kingdom. She has been sheltered, but she is also very, very good at being Queen, and everything she does, she does for her kingdom, not for herself.

Con and his people have experienced a LOT of trauma (and CW for talk of abuse, torture, rape, and slavery), but somehow he is still a kind man. He is particularly sweet and vulnerable in his interactions with Lia, and it was both heartbreaking and lovely. His life has been so horrible–you just want to see things go right for him for a change. You can tell he is still growing into his role as a leader, and I can’t wait to see where he goes in the future. He and Lia both bear the weight of expectation and loneliness, and by the end it appears that they will both be made better by their union.

I didn’t realize before I read the book that this isn’t a finished story, nor would I quite categorize it as a romance (maybe just the first installment of a romance). While Con and Lia do have some great sexual tension and do end up together (and have some very hot sex!), it doesn’t happen until the very end of the book. By the end, there is some tentative trust and agreement between them, but they aren’t fully a team yet either. Really, this book is set up for the world and the conflict, but it doesn’t resolve anything. Not knowing that, I was very disappointed when I got to the end and realized there would be no resolution. That did temper my enjoyment of the story a bit.

I did love this world and these characters, though. I want to see Lia and Con grow into true partners, and I want to see how they can fight against the Empire. I will be waiting with baited breath for future books in the series.

Grade: 4 out of 5.

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Once Upon a Bad Boy by Melonie Johnson

Posted July 14, 2019 by Holly 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. 🙂

Once Upon a Bad Boy is the third book in Melonie Johnson’s Sometimes in Love series and it’s a second chance romance that you won’t want to miss. We’re super excited to be featuring this book on our Sunday Spotlight so check it out…

Sunday Spotlight: Once Upon a Bad Boy by Melonie JohnsonOnce Upon a Bad Boy by Melonie Johnson
Series: Sometimes in Love #3
Also in this series: Getting Hot with the Scot
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

NEVER SAY NEVERSadie Gold is ready to take her career to the next level with the role of a lifetime. Finally, she can shake her reputation as a pretty face with more wealth and connections than talent. But Sadie is not prepared for the wild turn her own life is about to take. The man in charge of training Sadie for her most demanding role yet is none other than her first real boyfriend—the one who took her heart and ran away.

WHEN IT COMES TO LOVEBo Ibarra is as good-looking and irresistible as ever. Maybe even more so, now that everything once worked against them—Sadie’s pampered and privileged upbringing and Bo’s childhood in a family struggling to make ends meet—is in the past. But the future is still unwritten…and getting there, together, means coming clean about painful secrets and slashing through nasty tabloid rumors while trying to control the attraction that crackles between them. Maybe it’s finally time for them to walk off into the sunset and into a true and lasting love?

Excerpt

“This looks cozy.” Someone observed from behind them, the low male voice tinged with a hint of mockery.

Sadie froze. No way. She hadn’t heard that voice in more than ten years. But she recognized it immediately. No freaking way.

Maybe she was wrong. She was probably wrong. She had to be wrong.

Beside her, Ryan turned toward the voice. “Bo! Hey, man, what’s up?”

Bo. The name slammed into her gut, as if someone had written it on a piece of paper, tied it to a boulder, and hurled it straight at her.

Oblivious to her sudden discomfort, Ryan stood, shaking hands with the person behind them. Sadie remained frozen. She had not been mistaken. How did this happen? What was he doing here?

“Sadie?” Tugging on her elbow, Ryan provided the answer. “Say hi to our stunt coordinator, Bo Ibarra.”

Not trusting her ability to stand, Sadie, glanced over her shoulder. “Hi.” She smiled weakly then forced herself to look up, meeting his gaze. “Stunt coordinator, huh?”

“That’s right,” Bo said. His light brown eyes were exactly the same. Still, that unique tawny shade that reminded her of an Irish halfpenny she’d once found in her nana’s coin collection, still framed with the most incredibly long and ridiculously thick eyelashes she’d ever seen. His hair was darker, only streaks of the golden blond she remembered glinting here and there. And shorter, much shorter. Last time she’d seen him, it had brushed his shoulders. But what hair Bo had chopped off on top of his head, he’d made up for on his face.

A full beard covered his lean cheeks, hiding the cleft she knew dimpled the center of his chin. The fact she was aware of that feature despite it being hidden from the world felt . . . intimate. Sadie squirmed in her seat, recalling all the times she’d pressed her lips to that dimple. Dragging her attention away from that spot, she noted the beginnings of laugh lines creasing the corners of his eyes. She wondered if, besides the cleft, the beard hid more laugh lines around his mouth.

Had there been much laughter in his life? She hoped so. “Bo-dacious is one of the best in the biz,” Ryan continued, patting Bo on the back. “Soon as my agent told me we’d be filming in Chicago, I got on the horn and insisted they hire you, man.” Ryan turned to Sadie. “Ain’t nobody better to have your back than Bo-dacious here.”

“Dude, come on, I told you to knock it off with that Bo-dacious crap,” Bo said, taking the sting out of his words with a light punch at Ryan’s arm.

“You have a stunt company?” Sadie asked, unable to mask the surprise in her voice.

“I do,” he said. “Windy City Stunts.”

“I’ve heard of it.” Sadie nodded. “But I didn’t . . .” She hesitated. “I didn’t know it was your company.”

“It is.” His mouth twisted.

The answer was spoken softly, but his words were sharp. Biting. An accusation. An acknowledgment of the fact she’d not bothered to stay up to date on what he’d been doing in the years since . . . well, in the years since she’d last seen him.

She hadn’t. She’d been afraid to. And she never thought she’d see him again. Certainly not here. Not now. Not like this.

Digging deep, Sadie got to her feet and turned to face Bo. He seemed bigger than she remembered. Not in size exactly, not taller or thicker, but sturdier. More substantial. The last time she’d seen him, they’d been teenagers. A man stood before her now.

“That’s great,” she managed.

“Yeah, I started with some freelance gigs. Did that for a couple of years before helping form WCS. Now it’s become the number one source for stunt performers in Chicago.”

The pride in his voice was unmistakable, and well- deserved. The company had an excellent reputation— even she knew they were the go-to company to hire in this city.

“Wow. I’m happy for you,” Sadie said, and meant it too. Despite everything that lay between them, everything that had happened, she was truly glad to see him doing so well.

“Hold up.” Ryan glanced between her and Bo. “Do you two know each other?”

For a moment, neither of them answered.

“Yeah.” Always the braver one, Bo spoke first. “We were friends as kids.”

“Yep,” Sadie agreed brightly. Too brightly. “Friends.” Throat tight, eyes stinging, she added, “Although it’s been a long time. Ten years, I think?”

“Eleven,” Bo said, eyes never leaving her face. “But who’s counting.”

Sadie’s heart began to beat faster, wild and fluttery, thumping against her sternum like a bird trying to escape its cage. She knew exactly how many years it had been. Despite her best efforts, she’d never been able to stop keeping track.

“Small world, huh?” Ryan chuckled, either completely oblivious to the tension zipping around him or a better actor than she’d realized. “I met Bo last year when I guest-starred on an episode of Chicago Rescue. He set up this amazing stunt, right? An explosion that sent me flying out a twelfth-story window.” Ryan brushed one palm over the other, pumping a hand skyward, as if to demonstrate his airborne body.

Sadie’s skin crawled at the thought.

“Got any cool stuff like that planned for us, man?” Ryan asked, eager as a kid about to ride a roller coaster.

Sadie hated roller coasters. Hated heights of all kinds, actually. She didn’t even do well with escalators. Bo, of course, knew this.

Fuck. She jerked her head toward him. Would he use that knowledge against her? He could. Easily.

“I have some ideas,” Bo answered Ryan, but kept his gaze on her, his tawny eyes giving away nothing.

“Do stunt coordinators usually come to first reads?” Sadie asked, struggling to hide the wave of anxiety crashing through her.

“Occasionally.” Bo shrugged, the thick line of his shoulders rising and falling. “Depending on the complexity of the stunts, directors will sometimes ask me to sit in on a read, so I can get a feel for things. Identify potential problems.”

As he talked, he’d begun rolling up the sleeves of his shirt. Sadie tried not to stare as the strong masculine lines of his forearms were revealed. What was it about a man rolling up his sleeves that immediately upped his hotness factor? And with a guy like Bo, whose hotness level was already off the charts, it simply wasn’t fair. “Is that what you’re doing today? Identifying potential problems?” Because she could think of a few.

Bo looked at her, a knowing twinkle in his eye as if he was aware of how discombobulated she was. “For one, I’ll decide which stunts I think are suitable for the actors to perform themselves.”

“Oh?” Sadie rubbed her palms on her jeans.

A grin curved one corner of his mouth as he nodded. “Don’t worry, I’m not here to make anyone do anything that makes them uncomfortable.” The teasing edge of his smile eased the vise around Sadie’s heart.

Sometimes in Love

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: July 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 Melonie Johnson

A Star Wars junkie and Shakespeare groupie who quotes both Yoda and the Bard with equal aplomb, she met her future husband in that most romantic of places—the mall—when they were teenagers working in stores across the hall from each other. Today, they live happily ever after in the magical land midway between Chicago and Milwaukee with their two redhead daughters, a dog that’s more like a small horse, and a pair of hermit crabs. After earning her Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Loyola University Chicago, Melonie taught high school English and Theatre in the northern Chicago suburbs for several years. Now she writes smart and funny contemporary romance and moonlights as an audiobook narrator under the pseudonym, Evelyn Eibhlin.


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Throwback Thursday Guest Review: A Beginner’s Guide to Rakes by Suzanne Enoch

Posted July 11, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: A Beginner’s Guide to Rakes by Suzanne EnochReviewer: Tracy
A Beginner's Guide to Rakes by Suzanne Enoch
Series: Scandalous Brides #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: October 4, 2011
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

All of London is abuzz with the return of the utterly alluring, recently widowed Diane Benchley. Will she remarry? What will she do with her late husband’s fortune? Society is shocked by her announcement—at the Grand Ball, of all places!—that she plans to open an exclusive gentleman’s gaming club in the family mansion. But no one is more stunned than the Marquis of Haybury, Oliver Warren.

Years ago, Oliver and Diane shared a private indiscretion. Now Diane threatens to reveal Oliver’s most ungentlemanly secrets…unless he agrees to help her. A notorious gambler—and rake—Oliver is overqualified to educate Diane in the ways and means of running her establishment. But striking a deal with Diane might just be the biggest risk Oliver has ever taken. This time, the only thing he has to lose is his heart…

Diane Benchley wants to get back what she feels was taken from her and that was a decent life with a husband who wasn’t a complete ass. Her husband died but left her penniless and in a ton of debt because of his gambling. Diane took up with Oliver very quickly thereafter but he up and ran out on her without a word. Now Diane is back in London and looking to start a Gentleman’s Club that is run strictly by women. Her backer falls dead but she has something on Oliver and blackmails him into helping her with the money she needs.

Oliver isn’t sure what he thinks about this “new” Diane. She knows her mind and isn’t going to put up with anything from Oliver – including suggestions about the club. In fact she hates him. He can understand why but when he realizes that she holds his heart he’s determined to do anything he can to get the woman he loves to see him as a man and not just a bank.

Diane has her hands full getting the club running and keeping her former brother-in-law from taking her to court to prove that the house that the gentleman’s club is in is actually legally his and not hers.

This was a pretty interesting book but I had a couple of issues with it. While I really liked the thought of Diane starting the club I really didn’t get to know Diane all that well. We definitely got more thoughts from Oliver than Diane. Also, because so much of the book was focused on getting the club up and running I thought that the romance suffered for it.

I very much liked Oliver and I thought his part in the book was really good but I just didn’t see Diane falling for him. She did, in the end, but I just didn’t feel like she had completely forgiven her for her part in their past.

Like I said, the setting up of the gentleman’s club was quite well done. With Diane’s former b-i-l making waves the plot to get him to stop was pretty clever and I very much enjoyed watching that unfold.

So while I thought the book was very good it was pretty light on the romance, imho. I did read the excerpt from the next book and it sounds quite good as well – can’t wait to read it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Scandalous Brides

four-stars


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