Publisher: Harlequin

Review: A Winning Season by Rochelle Alers

Posted September 7, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: A Winning Season by Rochelle AlersReviewer: Holly
A Winning Season by Rochelle Alers
Series: Wickham Falls Weddings #10
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Sliding home…for a lifetime
The girl next door…
Or a grand slam love?



Baseball ace Sutton Reed’s returned home triumphant after years in the majors. When he moves next door to a troubled young man, he’s determined to help—for the boy’s sake and for the boy’s gorgeous older sister, Zoey Allen. After sacrificing everything to keep her family together, Zoey has no time for romance…even with a hometown hero. But will this unlikely combo be the home run love story they all deserve?
Nationally Bestselling Author

I hadn’t read Alers before, but I was in the mood for a sweet contemporary when I found this while browsing NetGalley. I’m a total sucker for Single Mom/Sisters who step up stories, and the premise appealed to me. I had a few issues with the writing, but I really liked the story overall.

Zoey’s parents unexpectedly pass away when she’s 18, and she fights to get custody of her two younger brothers, who are 6 and 8. She’s put her life on hold to raise them, but it’s been ten years. When her youngest brother graduates high school, she plans to finally realize her dream of attending nursing school and maybe travel a bit. Until retired Major League Baseball star Sutton Reed moves in next door…

Sutton only planned to spend a year in his hometown while he worked out his next plan after he retires from the majors, but one look at his sexy new neighbor and he knows he’s in trouble. Zoey is everything he ever wanted in a woman, and mentoring her younger brother Harper fulfills him in unexpected ways. Convincing Zoey they should be together long term will take all of his skill…but he’s playing to win.

I loved the relationship between Harper and Zoey (the older brother, Kyle, has joined the Marine Corps and is only mentioned in this book). She had a hard road taking on her brothers and raising them to be men, but she never shied away from it. She was strong and knew herself well. I really enjoyed her character, and her family.

Sutton was also a great character. He was raised by a single-mom and wants nothing more than to work with kids and settle down with his own family now that he’s retired from the majors. He really falls in love with Zoey and her brother, and I loved how committed he was to them both.

There were a couple continuity errors, but they didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the story.

This was a sweet book, focused on family and love. I liked the romance and the way Zoey and Sutton came to care for and rely on one another.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Wickham Falls Weddings

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: A Winning Season by Rochelle Alers

Posted September 6, 2020 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. 🙂

[Introduction to spotlight book]

Sunday Spotlight: A Winning Season by Rochelle AlersA Winning Season by Rochelle Alers
Series: Wickham Falls Weddings #10
Also in this series: A Winning Season
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

Sliding home…for a lifetime

The girl next door…

Or a grand slam love?

Baseball ace Sutton Reed’s returned home triumphant after years in the majors. When he moves next door to a troubled young man, he’s determined to help—for the boy’s sake and for the boy’s gorgeous older sister, Zoey Allen. After sacrificing everything to keep her family together, Zoey has no time for romance…even with a hometown hero. But will this unlikely combo be the home run love story they all deserve?

Nationally Bestselling Author

Excerpt

Excerpt, A WINNING SEASON by Rochelle Alers

***

Sutton gave Zoey her mug, noticing her hand had trembled slightly when their fingers touched. “Are you all right?”

“I’m good,” she said.

He wanted to believe Zoey was all right but the rigidness in her body said otherwise. He stood and moved to a nearby chair. “I’m sorry if I invaded your personal space.”

She lowered her eyes, staring into the contents of her mug. “It’s okay.”

Sutton drank his coffee, staring at Zoey over the rim. He was perceptive enough to know she had been completely at ease with him the day before, but this morning her body language said otherwise, and he wondered what he’d said or done to make her uneasy.

Suddenly it occurred to Sutton that he may have made a faux pas when he had referred to Zoey as pretty lady, especially when he did not know whether she was involved with someone. “I’m sorry, Zoey.”

She halted putting the mug to her mouth. “For what?”

“For making you uncomfortable because I called you pretty lady. Hell, I don’t even know if you’re involved with someone.”

Zoey swallowed a mouthful of coffee. The corners of her eyes crinkled when she smiled. “I really have to give it to you, Sutton Reed.”

A slight frown marred his natural good looks. “What are you talking about?”

“You did not make me uncomfortable, and if you wanted to know if I’m involved with someone, then all you had to do was ask.”

A hint of a smile replaced his frown. “Are you?” The seconds ticked as she met his eyes. “No. And I can’t afford to because of a promise I made to Kyle and Harper when they were little boys. I told them it would be just the three of us until they were old enough to take care of themselves.”

Sutton set his mug on a side table. “I can under-stand you making that promise when they were boys, but I doubt if Harper would hold it against you if you decided to start dating.”

“Right now, Harper has no say in how I live my life.”

“Is he giving you a problem?”

Zoey went completely still. “Why would you ask me that?”

“I was sitting out on the porch when he came home last night. Someone had dropped him off and I noticed he was a little unsteady on his feet.”

If Sutton saw Harper coming home obviously under the influence, then Zoey wondered how many of her other neighbors had also witnessed it. Zoey did not want or need people gossiping about the Allen boy drinking or possibly drugging. She had managed to raise Kyle to adulthood without an incident, but life was testing her because Harper had decided he wasn’t going to make it that easy for her.

“I don’t know you and you don’t know me, Sut-ton, and there’s no way I’m going to dump on you about my problems.”

Sutton angled his head, giving her a long stare. “You’ve lived in the Falls all your life and you should know that folks here always look out for one another. Those who have more than they need always share with those who don’t have enough. And it’s not al-ways about money.”

Zoey knew he was right. The people in the town had been more than generous when tragedy struck her family. Even now some folks still asked if she needed anything. She nodded. “You’re right. I give thanks every day that I live here and not somewhere else, because without the help of Preston McAvoy, the chamber of commerce and the worshippers at the church, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you.”

The local law firm had handled her legal prob-lems; local contractors had volunteered their services to make certain the house was free of violations; a company selling and installing gas heaters set up an installment plan for her to pay off the cost of the unit over three years.

“So once Harper graduates you plan to stay here?” Sutton asked.

Zoey smiled. “Where would I go?”

He shrugged broad shoulders under his tee. “I don’t know. Maybe you’d prefer someplace that has a little more excitement.”

She took another sip of the delicious brew. Sutton had made the coffee exactly how she liked it. “The Falls has enough excitement for the four thousand-plus folks who live here. Someone had submitted a proposal to the town council to open a club and it was unanimously voted down. What we don’t need is a club with people getting drunk and acting like fools. The town council in Mineral Springs has closed two clubs in the past four years because of fights and rowdiness.”

“The Springs has almost twice our population, so there’s bound to be a few more incidents than we have here.”

“Speaking of excitement, why did you decide to move back here after spending half your life in Hot-lanta?” Zoey had asked the question that had plagued her since hearing word that Sutton Reed was moving back to Wickham Falls.

Sutton closed his eyes for several seconds. “I never really got used to living in a big city. The crowds and noise didn’t upset me whenever I was at the stadium, but once the game was over all I wanted was some-place quiet where I could decompress.”

“Whenever you were interviewed you seemed so confident, so in control of yourself.”

“That was all an act, Zoey. I’d learned early on to switch it on for the cameras and microphones. There was one Sutton for the sports reporters and another Sutton when he was home behind closed doors.”

***

Wickham Falls Weddings

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: September 2020

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Rochelle Alers

Rochelle Alers Headshot

Hailed by readers and booksellers alike as one of today's most popular African-American authors of women's fiction, Ms. Alers is a regular on bestsellers list, and has been a recipient of numerous awards, including the Vivian Stephens Award for Excellence in Romance Writing and a Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award.


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Review: The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Posted April 9, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. ArmentroutReviewer: Rowena
The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 480
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

Growing up, Mallory Dodge learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime. Now, after years of homeschooling, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at a public high school. But she never imagined she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet soon it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory must make a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants and the truths that need to be heard.

I haven’t been reading a lot of YA lately and I randomly picked this book up one day as I was browsing my kindle selection and read the entire thing in a day. I have enjoyed all of the YA books that I’ve read by Armentrout and this one was no different.

Mallory Dodge grew up in the foster system and one of her housing assignments was with a horrible drunk that scared the pants right off of her each and every day. Her saving grace while living there was her friend, Rider Stark. They became best friends and Rider did his best to protect Mallory from all the bad things that happened but one night, Rider fails to protect Mallory and she suffered from third-degree burns and was ripped away from Rider. They spent four years apart. In that time, Rider moved to another foster home that was heaps better than the one he shared with Mallory and Mallory was adopted by the doctors who helped heal her burns after the fire that ripped Rider and Mallory apart. Mallory was never the same after leaving that home and Rider never forgot about her. When they reunite, Mallory is attending high school again and she’s attending Rider’s school.

At first, Rider and Mallory were thrilled to see each other again. I thought their reunion was sweet and I really enjoyed seeing them get to know each other again. They weren’t the same people that they were the last time that they saw each other and seeing them try to find their way again was surprisingly emotional. I wasn’t expecting all of the emotions that I felt while reading this one. Mallory had overcome a lot in her life and seeing her try to be stronger and more assertive in her wants and needs was great to see. I really liked that we got to see her really grow into her own. She wasn’t perfect but she was as honest as she could be and her relationship with her adoptive parents was great. I liked seeing them try to make room in their lives for Rider even though they didn’t trust him. I loved seeing their trust in Mallory and I really loved seeing Mallory’s spine strengthen as the story unfolded. She came a long way from the Mouse that Rider knew.

Rider was another compelling character that I grew to love over the course of the book. He didn’t have an easy life and he struggled with trying to find his place in the world without a solid family foundation. When Mallory came back into his life, seeing the shock and then the guilt but overall joy from him made me so happy with the way that things turn out for him in the end. Like Mallory, he came a long way from the young boy that Mallory knew and I love that no amount of space or time could diminish what they meant to each other. Sure, they meant different things to each other now since they were both still really young kids back then but their relationship was solid and it was strong and I just really liked seeing the two of them grow together in love.

This was a great read. Jennifer L. Armentrout did a great job of pulling my emotional strings throughout this entire book and before I knew what was what, I had read this entire book in one sitting. So yeah, I liked this one. It’s good and I definitely recommend.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Forbidden Promises by Synithia Williams

Posted March 24, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Forbidden Promises by Synithia WilliamsReviewer: Rowena
Forbidden Promises by Synithia Williams
Series: Jackson Falls #1
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU WANT THE ONE PERSON YOU CAN NEVER HAVE?

Get in and get out. That was India Robidoux's plan for this family visit. But when her brother needs her help with his high-profile political campaign, India has not choice but to stay and face the one man she's been running from for years - Travis, her sister's ex-husband. One hot summer night when Travis was still free, they celebrated her birthday with whiskey and an unforgettable kiss. The memory is as strong as ever - and so are the feelings she's tried so hard to forget.

Travis Strickland owes everything to the Robidoux family. There's nothing he wouldn't do for them - his divorce could never change that. Still, he has one regret. Impulsive and passionate, India always understood him better than anyone else. And the longer they work together on the campaign, the more torn he is. Coming between her and her sister is out of the question. But how can he let love pass him by a second time?

©2020 Synithia Williams (P)2020 HarperAudio

Forbidden Promises is the first book in the new Jackson Falls series by Synithia Williams. It’s a story that features a heroine who has been in love with her sister’s ex-husband for some time now. When she comes back home to visit her family, her plan is to sneak in, spend some quality time with her family and then sneak right back out. She has no plans on sticking around or of seeing Travis Strickland while she’s home. Travis and India shared the most passionate kiss of India’s life and then he made his choice and married her sister so she’s come to terms with it. Sure, she was hurt but that was years ago and she’s grown up and moved on. But Travis is her brother’s best friend and her brother needs her help with his political campaign so India’s got no choice but to see Travis.

Travis is stoked that India’s home. Of all of the Robidoux siblings, India understood him the best. They had a solid friendship that Travis missed when India went away and sure, they also shared a pretty spectacular kiss years ago but that’s old news and he’s excited to see his friend again. Only India is different now. She’s a grown woman, a gorgeous grown woman and she wants nothing to do with Travis. Working together on India’s brother’s campaign should be a breeze, no?

Synithia Williams has a unique writing style that worked for me. I’m no stranger to the sister’s ex-husband trope and though not every story featuring that trope has worked for me in the past, I didn’t mind it here. The more that I got to know India and Travis, the more we learned about their shared history and the people that they were and the people they are now made rooting them on all the more necessary for me. They were both strong characters and I thought they were fantastic on their own but I really dug them together. I connected with both of their characters, along with both of their stories and seeing them come together in love, figure their stuff out was a great reading adventure for me.

I haven’t read anything by Williams before but I will definitely be reading more of her stuff in the future. This was such a charming romance that I want more of it. I definitely recommend it for those readers who are looking for a quick, charming romance with heart. This definitely fits the bill.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Temporary Wife Temptation by Jayci Lee

Posted February 9, 2020 by Rowena in Features | 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. 🙂

This week’s Sunday Spotlight features a new to us author that has a new book coming out that we’re mighty interested in. Temporary Wife Temptation by Jayci Lee is a billionaire romance that looks pretty cute. Fake romances are my jam so I’m looking forward to jumping into this one. But for now, let’s get to that excerpt, shall we?

Sunday Spotlight: Temporary Wife Temptation by Jayci LeeTemporary Wife Temptation by Jayci Lee
Publisher: Harlequin Desire
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

Much more than he bargained for…

“You want me to find you a wife?”

“No. I want you to be my wife.”

Garrett Song is this close to taking the reins of his family’s LA fashion empire…until the Song matriarch insists he marry her handpicked bride first. To block her matchmaking, he recruits Natalie Sobol to pose as his wife. She needs a fake spouse as badly as he does. But when passion burns down their chaste agreement, the flames could destroy them all…

Excerpt

Garrett resisted the urge to glance over his shoul¬der to check on her. Natalie was a grown woman and he didn’t need to protect her from being swarmed by admirers. Besides, she was the one who had proposed they refrain from other relationships, so she wouldn’t do anything to hurt his reputation or hers.

Earlier, at her apartment, he’d caught fire at the sight of her in her little black dress. It was demure compared to the one she’d worn at Le Rêve, but it hugged her hour¬glass figure and highlighted the curves underneath just enough to tease his imagination.

He walked to the bar for his Scotch and grabbed a flute of champagne from a server on his way back. As he’d anticipated, Natalie was now surrounded by a group of men and he lengthened his strides to reach her.

“Sorry to keep you waiting, sweetheart.” He pressed a light kiss on her lips and handed her the champagne.

“Thank you.” She leaned her head against his shoul¬der when he pulled her to his side, playing her part like a pro.

“Natalie was just taking us to task about USC’s new head coach. It seems neither he nor I truly understand college football,” said one of Mike’s college friends.

“Is that so?” Garrett raised an eyebrow at her and she shrugged.

“Taking you to task is a bit harsh.” She hid her grin against the rim of her champagne flute as she took a long sip. “It’s just that I have a better understanding than you guys.”

The audience winced and guffawed at her cheeki¬ness. As Natalie continued with her lecture, all the men listened intently, as did Garrett. She was funny and down-to-earth, and her mind was quicker than light¬ning. Lost in her words, Garrett belatedly noticed the crowd had grown. Her champagne glass was depleted and her smile was becoming strained.

He leaned down close to her ear. “Tired?”

“And hungry.”

“All right, gentlemen. I’m whisking away my date now. I’m tired of sharing her.”

When the crowd finally dispersed, Natalie slumped against him with a groan. “I need food, champagne and somewhere to sit.”

A server walked over with a tray of bacon-wrapped shrimp and Natalie snatched a couple of them. She popped one in her mouth and mumbled around her food, “Not necessarily in that order.”

Garrett laughed and guided her toward the French doors leading out to the garden. Natalie ate every sin¬gle hors d’oeuvre she met along the way and finished another glass of champagne.

“Holy cow. Is everything really, really delicious, or am I just famished? I would totally go back for that crab cake if my feet weren’t screaming at me to get my butt on a chair.”

He glanced down at her zebra-print high heels. They did amazing things for her legs but didn’t look remotely comfortable. “There’s a bench around the corner.”

“Oh, thank God.” She kicked off her shoes as soon as she plopped onto the seat.

Garrett shrugged out of his jacket and draped it around her shoulders before sitting next to her.

“Thank you,” she murmured, gazing at the garden. “It’s so beautiful out here.”

“Is it?” He and Mike had grown up tearing apart that very garden, but Garrett had never sat still and taken it all in, like they were doing now. “I guess you’re right.”

“Mmm-hmm.”

He studied her profile, her high, regal cheekbone and the graceful curve of her neck. Half of her hair had escaped the loose knot behind her head and fell down her back and shoulders. He wanted to sweep aside her hair and feel the softness of her skin, which he abso¬lutely should not do.

“So how do you know so much about college foot¬ball?” He tore his gaze away from her and stared at an old maple tree ahead of him, hard enough to make his eyes water.

“Long story.”

“We’ve got time.” He made a show of checking his watch. “I’ll give you ten minutes.”

Her laughter filled the garden, then ended on a wist¬ful sigh. “My dad and I, we weren’t very close. The only time he didn’t mind my company was when we watched college football together. He was a huge fan. I don’t think he even noticed I was sitting there half the time.”

Garrett understood what that felt like. As soon as he finished graduate school, he’d thrown himself into his work. It was satisfying in its predictability and it created a common ground for him and his father. His dad had stepped down from the CEO position when his mom died, but returned to Hansol a few years later as an executive VP.

“I thought if I learned enough about the sport, he’d like me a little better.” Her shrug told him it hadn’t worked, but Natalie told her story without an ounce of self-pity—like she owned her past, hurt and all. His respect for her deepened. “But soon I noticed I wasn’t faking my enthusiasm anymore. I’d grown to love the sport. Who knew it’d come in handy at an intimate birthday party for a hundred people?”

“You certainly won over quite a few of them.”

“I did?” Her eyebrows shot up in genuine surprise.

He huffed out a laugh. “Why did you think that crowd was hanging on to your every word?”

“Watch yourself, Garrett Song.” Natalie narrowed her eyes and pointed a finger at him. “I know where you live.”

He snatched her hand and tugged her to her feet. “Yes, and you’ll be living there with me starting Sunday.”

“Ugh.” She hooked an index finger in each of her shoes, not bothering to put them back on. “Do you ever stop thinking about work?”

“Yes.” He cocked his head and pretended to con¬sider her question. “But only when I’m thoroughly distracted.”

Her lashes fluttered and color saturated her cheeks, and his gut clenched with heat. She could definitely become his most dangerous distraction.

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: February 2020

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Jayci Lee

Jayci Lee writes poignant, funny, and sexy romance. She lives in sunny California with her tall-dark-and-handsome husband, two amazing boys with boundless energy, and a fluffy rescue whose cuteness is a major distraction. She is semi-retired from her 15-year career as a defense litigator, and writes full-time now. She loves food, wine, and travelling, just like her characters. Books have always helped her grow, dream, and heal. She hopes her books will do the same for you.


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