Publisher: Harlequin

Review: An Unexpected Cowboy by Shannon Stacey

Posted September 5, 2022 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: An Unexpected Cowboy by Shannon StaceyReviewer: Holly
An Unexpected Cowboy by Shannon Stacey
Series: Sutton's Place #2
Also in this series: Her Hometown Man
Publisher: Harlequin, Harlequin Special Edition
Publication Date: March 3, 2022
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 227
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

He’d been told home is where the heart isHe never believed it until now
Lone-wolf cowboy Irish is no stranger to long, lonely nights. Some might say he even prefers it that way. But somehow Mallory Sutton tugs on his heartstrings. The feisty single mom is struggling to balance it all—and challenging Irish’s perception of what he has to offer. She shows the guarded cowboy everything a family—and real love—can be. But will their unexpected connection keep Irish in town…or end in heartbreak for Mallory and her kids?

An Unexpected Cowboy (Sutton’s Place #2) by Shannon Stacey follows Mallory Sutton, a single mom. Her whole life Mallory has been the one who keeps things together. She stepped in and took care of her mom when he father passed away and she’s taking care of her two young boys since their father split. Between those responsibilities and the taproom and the thrift stop she and her mother run, she has no time for herself, much less time for a romance. She isn’t really even tempted, until Irish, a friend of her ex-brother-in-law’s parks his 5th wheel in their yard. That cowboy is hard to resist….

Irish isn’t ready to settle down, but a temporary fling with a hot single mom might be just what they both need. But once he gets a taste of Mallory, convincing himself he still has to pack and leave may turn out to be harder than expected.

I really like the Sutton family and I’m glad we got Mallory’s story. I liked how she and Irish connected and how he came to care for her boys and the rest of her family. I’m really looking forward to Evie’s book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Sutton’s Place

three-half-stars


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Review: Her Hometown Man by Shannon Stacey

Posted August 31, 2022 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Her Hometown Man by Shannon StaceyReviewer: Holly
Her Hometown Man by Shannon Stacey
Series: Sutton's Place #1
Also in this series: An Unexpected Cowboy
Publisher: Harlequin, Harlequin Special Edition
Publication Date: December 28, 2021
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 256
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

She has many reasons to leaveHe’s the best reason to stay
Summoned home by her mother and sisters, novelist Gwen Sutton has made it clear—she’s not staying. She’s returning to her quiet, writerly life as soon as the family brewery is up and running. But when Gwen’s lifelong crush, Case Danforth, offers his help, it’s clear there’s more than just beer brewing! Time is short for Case to convince Gwen that a home with him is where her heart is.

Her Hometown Man is the first book in the Sutton’s Place series by Shannon Stacey. This is small-town romance featuring a family brewery, which really appealed to me.

As a popular fiction author, Gwen Sutton couldn’t get away from her hometown fast enough. The residents all think her books are about them, and she can’t stand the anger and comments she gets when they don’t think she’s done right by them. She doesn’t want to go home to help get the family business up and running, but she isn’t given much of a choice. Her stay is only temporary, though, no matter what her mom and sister’s think. Even if she is getting in deep with Case Daneforth, the boy next door.

This was a quick read. I liked the small town atmosphere and the family dynamics. The romance was sweet and I liked how direct they were with each other. Though the overall feel was light, there were some emotional scenes as they dealt with the loss of their dad. I’m looking forward to the next book.

Rating: 3.75

Sutton’s Place

three-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: The Immortal by Gena Showalter

Posted January 16, 2022 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 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: The Immortal by Gena ShowalterThe Immortal by Gena Showalter
Narrator: Max Bellmore
Series: Rise of the Warlords #2
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: February 1, 2022
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 384
Length: 11 hours and 16 minutes
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New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter delivers The Immortal, the second dark and sexy book in her Rise of the Warlords series, featuring a cold, merciless assassin and a stubborn harpy warrior... one fated to die by the other's hand.

Halo Phaninon, assassin of gods, is as cold and merciless as a machine. For victory, he crosses any line. When tasked to kill twelve of mythology’s fiercest monsters in twenty-four hours, Halo eagerly accepts. Except, each morning he awakens to the same day, forced to relive new horrors. Only one other person retains their memory—the beauty who threatens his iron control.

Ophelia the Flunk Out hates her disaster of a life. She’s the family disappointment, a harpy warrior without a kill and powerless—or is she? Nearly every night she’s doomed to repeat her own murder, but each morning she arises to spar with Halo, the ruthless warlord increasingly determined to save her…and lure her to his bed.

Halo’s insatiable desire for the stubborn Ophelia drives him wild…and he only craves more. If he remains in the time loop, they stay together. But if he escapes, they lose each other forever.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

A faraway realm Long ago

“Emotions are our greatest enemy.” With an unhurried stride, the headmaster paced before his charges. Students of the Order. The train of his voluminous black robe dragged behind him.

The most notable acolyte—Four—stood shoulder to shoulder with nine others in a perfectly straight line. Each boy wore a colorless tunic and loose pants; each kept his eyes focused ahead, chin up, hands locked behind his back and bare feet pressed to¬gether. None dared to take more than eight inhalations per min¬ute. The allotted amount.

Though a mere twelve years in age, Four already towered over the others. As the son of an eight-foot-tall war god, he might grow bigger than even the headmaster. If that happened…

Headmaster dies screaming.

The stern, merciless male possessed crimson skin and obsid¬ian eyes without any whites; the instructors were exact copies of him. Their only differences came from the symbols etched into their faces. Symbols that glowed when they contemplated any kind of punishment.

Headmaster never ceased glowing. “Say it,” he commanded now.

“Emotions are our greatest enemy,” the boys echoed in unison, monotone.

Four meant those words with every fiber of his being. What he wouldn’t give to rid himself of any softness. To no longer suffer the torment of grief and loss. Perhaps then he might fi¬nally forget his tenth birthday. The day invaders murdered his mother and carted him to the Order.

Here, orphaned children of “myth and legend” learned to assassinate kings and gods. The best executioners received rewards. Those who floundered were often used during target practice.

“Today, you will prove you mean what you say.” Headmaster continued his unhurried back-and-forth stride, drawing out the suspense. Testing his students, always testing. In the empty white room, his footfalls proved silent. “Shall I tell you how?”

“If you wish, Headmaster,” the boys responded, again in unison.

Four’s stomach churned, bile singeing his chest. He’d felt sick all morning. Even before he was summoned from his quarters—a small cubicle containing only a bed, nightstand, and handful of books he’d received for exemplary behavior. A sparse prison he’d come to appreciate. The less you owned, the less others could use against you. But not by word or deed did he reveal his physical discomfort. He knew better.

What would Headmaster force the students to endure today? Or worse, to do?

His skin glowed brighter as he passed Four. Five, the boy to his right, released an almost imperceptible whimper.

In a blink, the headmaster returned to the lad.

Four didn’t move. He willed his heart to maintain a slow, steady beat, lest a glaze of sweat dampen his skin, giving him away.

Headmaster purred, “Are you afraid, Five?”

Each student was known only by a number. A reminder of a terrible truth: we are easily replaced.

“No, sir,” Five said, but a slight tremor proved him a liar. “I fear nothing.”

“I’m not certain I believe you.” Headmaster lifted an arm and snapped his fingers. “But there’s a way to learn the truth.”

Instructors observed the proceedings from the back wall, lined up just like the students. A lone male eased into motion, closing the distance to stand beside his superior. Dread gave the sterile air a sharp bite.

“Whip him,” Headmaster ordered. “He’s to receive twenty lashes. If he makes a noise, cut out his tongue. If he sheds a tear, blind him.”

No one in the room revealed an outward reaction as the instructor padded behind Five. But inside, Four waged a fierce war. He liked the boy and protected him whenever possible. Of the ten students in their group, Five was the kindest. Unlike the others, he shared his rewards, no matter what they happened to be. Food. Soft blankets. Special weapons. But Five was also the weakest among them, and he was about to suffer untold agonies. Could he maintain his silence until the end of the whip-ping? Could anyone?

As the instructor unhooked a barbed rope from the belt of his robe, Four fought the urge to safeguard his friend. He knew better. He’d made this mistake once before, with another student. The moment he had intervened, he’d made everything worse. At least Five wasn’t being given an animal to raise and later kill.

The first strike landed with a whoosh. Relief sparked as silence stretched. The second and third strikes fell. Five did well, his face remaining a blank mask.

Headmaster leaned down, putting himself at eye level with his victim. “With every lash, you are being rid of your secret shame. Thank me for this opportunity.”

“Thank you, Headmaster.”

Whoosh. Crack.

Whoosh. Crack.

After the seventh strike, Headmaster slowly slid his attention to Four. He canted his head, staring hard. The symbols in his skin glowed brighter and brighter.

Four revealed nothing.

“Tell me what you think of Five’s situation,” the evil male cajoled.

“I cannot.” The calmness—the coldness—of Four’s tone chilled even him. “I think nothing of his situation.”

“Is that so?”

Whoosh. Crack. Whoosh. Crack.

Calm. Steady. Breathe in, out. “That is so.”

After searching Four’s face, Headmaster withdrew a dagger from a hidden pocket of his robe and offered the hilt. “Kill him.”

Four blinked twice. “Sir?”

“You will kill Five, or I will kill you. The decision is yours. You have one minute to decide.”

As Four held the male’s gaze, he knew two things with ab¬solute certainty. If he hesitated to do this, he would die today. If he revealed a single emotion, he would want to die.

With iron resolve, he accepted the weapon, his grip steady. He stepped backward and to the right, moving between the instructor with the whip and Five. Staring at his back—at the blood wetting his tunic.
I can do this. Four had delivered many deaths the past two years, his kill list more than double the length of anyone else’s. But then, he was born for this. And yet…

He felt as if a part of him died each time he stole another’s life.

Would he act anyway? Oh yes. Without hesitation.

Four stepped forward. Mere inches separated his chest and the ravaged back of his newest target. He reached around and gripped the boy’s chin, angling his head to the side. With his free hand, he pressed the tip of a blade into the upper dip of Five’s sternum.

A mewl of fear escaped his friend, and the churning in his stomach intensified.

“Your time runs out,” Headmaster stated.

Four blanked his mind, a grueling skill he’d worked hard to perfect. One by one, his thoughts faded to the background, his emotions dulling until he felt nothing. Only a cold, gnawing void. He calmed, and his breathing evened out. This? This was nothing. A single death among hundreds.

As the boy opened his mouth to protest or plead, Four met Headmaster’s obsidian gaze—and plunged the dagger deep. He twisted his wrist at the end. Bone cracked.

Five stiffened against him, choking sounds leaving him. In seconds—an endless eternity—he collapsed, crashing to the floor.

Blood spurted from the wound, splattering the motionless body, the floor. Four…didn’t care. He survived, whatever the cost.

One day, things would be different. Until then, Four could only bide his time…

Warm liquid pooled around his feet, and his inner cold thawed fast. The sickness returned to his belly.

“What is this I smell on you, hmm? Fear?” The headmaster swooped in and ran the tip of his nose across Four’s neck while inhaling. “No, not fear, but something.” He straightened and motioned to the instructor with the whip. “Give him twenty lashes.”

Reveal nothing. “Thank you, Headmaster.”

Already in position, the instructor struck without delay. Whoosh. Crack.

Pain splintered through Four, shooting across each of his limbs.

Whoosh. Crack. Whoosh. Crack.

He held Headmaster’s gaze until the end—and smiled. “Thank you again, Headmaster.”

Scowling, the male grazed two black claws across his cheek. “Whatever you’re feeling will boil over as soon as I turn up the heat.” Walking away, Headmaster spoke to the instructor. “Give him twenty more.”

Excerpted from The Immortal by Gena Showalter, Copyright © 2022 by Gena Showalter. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Rise of the Warlords

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: January 2022

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 Gena Showalter

Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of the spellbinding Lords of the Underworld, Otherworld Assassins, and Angels of the Dark series, as well as two young adult series–Everlife and the White Rabbit Chronicles–and the highly addictive Original Heartbreakers series. In addition to being a National Reader’s Choice and two time RITA nominee, her romance novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan (Red Hot Read) and Seventeen magazine. She was interviewed on Nightline and has been mentioned in Orange is the New Black. Her books have been translated in multiple languages.

She’s hard at work on her next novel, a tale featuring an alpha male with a dark side and the strong woman who brings him to his knees.


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Throwback Thursday Guest Review: The Space Between Us by Megan Hart

Posted July 1, 2021 by Ames in Reviews | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: The Space Between Us by Megan HartReviewer: Ames
The Space Between Us by Megan Hart
Publisher: Harlequin, Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
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three-half-stars

Tesla Martin is drifting pleasantly through life, slinging lattes at Morningstar Mocha, enjoying the ebb and flow of caffeine-starved customers, devoted to her cadre of regulars. But none of the bottomless-cup crowd compares with Meredith, a charismatic force of nature who can coax intimate tales from even the shyest of Morningstar's clientele.

Caught in Meredith's sensual, irresistible orbit, inexpressibly flattered by the siren's attention, Tesla shares long-buried chapters of her life, holding nothing back. Nothing Meredith proposes seems impossible—not even Tesla sleeping with Meredith's husband, Charlie, while she looks on. After all, it's all in fun, isn't it?
In a heartbeat, vulnerable Tesla is swept into a spectacular love triangle. Together, gentle, grounded Charlie and sparkling, maddening Meredith are everything Tesla has ever needed, wanted, or dreamed of, even if no one else on earth understands. They're three against the world.

But soon one of the vertices begins pulling away until only two points remain—and the space between them gapes with confusion, with grief and with possibility….

This review was originally published on Oct 9, 2012

I enjoy Megan Hart’s writing. There’s something about it that just grips me right from the get go and that’s how I felt with this book. Also, her characters are so interesting, I wish they were real.

Tesla Martin is happy with her life. She works in a coffee shop and she really takes pleasure in her job. Her boss is another matter, but the customers, her regulars, make up for it. She had an unorthodox upbringing, with her parents taking her and her brother to a commune every summer until they divorced. Now her and her brother are close and she lives with friends, in their basement.

One of her regulars, Meredith, is someone that’s always intrigued and attracted Tesla. So when they take their friendship outside the bounds of the coffeeshop, she’s pleased. But Meredith had a reason for her friendship. She was looking for a woman to be a third in the bedroom, and Tesla fits her and her husband’s requirements. Tesla is open enough to consider it and meet with Charlie, Meredith’s husband. Because this is not the first time Tesla has been involved in a threesome.

As Tesla becomes more involved with Charlie and Meredith, her other relationships suffer a bit. Namely, her friend Vic, whom she lives with, doesn’t exactly approve of what she’s doing and has some guilt he needs to deal with. And then Meredith, the one who drew Tesla into her marriage begins to pull away.

I was engrossed in this story. The developing friendship between Tesla and Meredith, how her attraction to Meredith draws her into a threesome with Charlie, whom she’s also attracted to. The dynamics of how that played out in the bedroom. And later how Meredith’s true nature is slowly revealed. All very interesting.

Another character that pulled me in was Vic and Tesla’s history with him. She lives with him, his wife and their two kids. She helps out a lot around the house. And she loves his wife. But Vic is keeping secrets and Tesla doesn’t want to get drawn in there. He also took in Tesla and her younger brother when their family life imploded and he does not like this new relationship so that drives a wedge between them. The conflict that derived from those two things definitely pushes the story further, especially as it directly relates to what’s going on with Charlie and Meredith.

So as much as certain aspects of the book appealed to me and drew me in, there are some flaws. Meredith and Charlie. LOL I know, I know. The other couple. First there’s Meredith. I can see where she would attract Tesla but she definitely doesn’t appeal to the reader. Especially as I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and figured it would be from her end. Like does the author want us to root for an HEA for all 3 characters or just for Tesla? There’s a tension there, that’s for sure. And then there’s Charlie. I didn’t feel like we got to know him as well as we did Tesla. His character was bland. Sexy bland, but bland. I wish there had been more depth to him. So not knowing him as well, the ending was a bit flat for me. When I finished the book, my reaction was “Huh.”

However, the overall story was engrossing. I do recommend this. 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Wildflower Season by Michelle Major

Posted May 23, 2021 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 1 Comment

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: Wildflower Season by Michelle MajorWildflower Season: A Novel by Michelle Major
Series: The Carolina Girls #1
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: May 25, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
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"A dynamic start to a series with a refreshingly original premise." —Kirkus Reviews on The Magnolia Sisters

She always followed the path of least resistance…until it leads her to a small town where she can follow her dreams.

When Emma Cantrell’s marriage imploded, she learned a fast and painful lesson about trusting her heart. Then, on a visit to Magnolia, North Carolina, to see her brother, an elegant, if dilapidated, mansion for sale presents the opportunity to start over. Risking everything on her dream of opening the Wildflower Inn, Emma buys the house…just as the storm of the century hits, severely damaging the structure. But a chance meeting with Holly, a bride-to-be in desperate need of a new venue, gives her hope…and the name of a contractor who’ll work fast and cheap, allowing Emma to repair the inn in time to host the wedding and save her investment.

A furniture builder who hasn’t picked up a tool in the five years since his wife died, Cameron Mitchell has no intention of agreeing to help this beautiful—and, he’d guess, entitled—woman insisting that he fix her inn. Until he learns that Emma was sent by Holly, the little sister of his late wife. Grudgingly, Cameron agrees to do the work, with one condition: that he be left completely alone. But the more time they spend together, the more Emma touches a part of his heart he was sure died long ago, forcing him to try making peace with his past.

The Carolina Girls

Excerpt

Excerpted from Wildflower Season, by Michelle Major. Harlequin, 2021. Reprinted with permission.

She’d gone to the dock south of town as Holly instructed, only to be told Cam was at home today. The guys that gave her directions to his property appeared both curious and amused a woman was seeking him out. But they’d been nice enough to her face—polite in a down-home kind of way—even with the comments about Cam not having friends or entertaining ladies at his home.

Emma could see why as she approached the house. It wasn’t run-down per se, and the front yard was relatively tidy compared to the chaos on the way in. But there was something unapproachable about the cabin. A weighty emptiness hung in the already thick, sultry air.

If only one of the contractors she’d contacted earlier had returned her call. Maybe she should turn around and try them again. Or insist Holly come with her to talk to Camden.

“Can you read?”

She stopped in her tracks at the question that carried to her from the cabin’s front door, spoken in a deep, almost disbelieving tone.

“Yes, I can read.” She plastered a smile on her face and took another step forward. “Are you—”

“Then you need to turn right around, ma’am. Because the signs posted are pretty clear to someone claiming to be literate.”

“I’m not looking for trouble.” She lifted her sunglasses to the top of her head, held a hand over her eyes and squinted up at the porch, but all she could make out was the silhouette of a man in the door.

He chuckled, a rusty sound that reverberated through her like the vibration of a tuning fork. “Somehow I don’t believe you.”

The screen door squeaked open. Emma heard a booming bark and caught a streak of tan fur and then she was on her backside in the dirt with at least a hundred pounds of damp dog circling her in glee.

Emma liked dogs, all animals, really. She’d never actually owned one, but when she ran her family’s charitable foundation they’d funded various local shelters and animal rescue organizations.

The dog seemed overenthusiastic but not threatening. “Good boy,” she said, peering under his belly to confirm he was indeed a boy. She got to her feet as he ran back to the house with her sunglasses in his mouth.

Sunglasses that had cost her over three hundred dollars and that she couldn’t afford to replace on her current salary of less than nothing. She wasn’t about to explain that to the man who stared down at her from the top step.

Her breath hissed out like she’d just taken a blow to the stomach. Holly had failed to mention that her former brother-in-law was hot as all get-out, in a Paul Bunyan sort of way. Rugged had never been Emma’s type. Her ex-husband was handsome enough, polished and a little nerdy. But Cam Arlinghaus was every lumberjack fantasy Emma had never had come to life. He had dark, wavy hair and a shadow of stubble covering his angular jaw. It was nearly ninety degrees so there was no flannel to be seen, but he wore the low-slung cargo shorts and faded T-shirt like he was a cover model for a deep-sea fishing guide magazine.

“You ignored the No Trespassing and the Beware of Dog signs,” he said, his voice flat. “Those signs are there for a reason.”

She nodded, her flummoxed mind trying hard to put together a coherent thought in the face of all that strapping masculinity. It rolled off him in waves and felled Emma like a riptide. Turn around, her sense of self-preservation screamed. Run as fast as you can.

The Carolina Girls

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 2021

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 Michelle Major

Michelle Major author photo

Michelle Major is the Publishers Weekly best-selling, RITA award winning author of over thirty sexy and sweet contemporary romances. She loves second-chances love stories, smart heroines and strong heroes. A Midwesterner at heart, she’s made the Rocky Mountains her home for nearly half her life and is thrilled to share her books with readers. Connect with her at www.michellemajor.com.


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