Publisher: Kensington

Sunday Spotlight: Dinner on Primrose Hill by Jodi Thomas

Posted October 17, 2021 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 7 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: Dinner on Primrose Hill by Jodi ThomasDinner on Primrose Hill by Jodi Thomas
Series: Honey Creek #3
Publisher: Kensington, Zebra
Publication Date: October 26, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
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The delightful and touching new novel from the bestselling author of dozens of treasured romances. Return to the picturesque Texas town of Honey Creek—a place where friendship and warm welcomes can be relied on, and love always finds a way…

Benjamin Monroe is pretty sure how his life will play out. He’ll continue teaching chemistry in his small college, and spend his free time biking through the valley. Eventually, he’ll retire to putter around in his garden and greenhouse.
His colleague, Virginia Clark, is not one for routines. She’s chatty, spontaneous, and bubbly, and before Benjamin realizes what happened, she’s talked him into collaborating on a research project—studying the mating habits of college students. Virginia knows her desire to work with Benjamin is motivated by more than the potential prize money . . . and hopes he might not be quite as indifferent as he seems to be.

Ketch Kincaid, one of Benjamin’s star students, returned to college after serving in the army. He needs something to get his mind off his recent breakup and collecting research data might do it. And there’s another distraction on the horizon—a woman who looks like she, too, knows about heartache.

Soon enough, their project, “The Chemistry of Mating,” is gaining notoriety. Friends, neighbors . . . the whole town has become involved. But no matter what the data determines, one conclusion seems inescapable: love follows its own rules . . .

Excerpt

Dr. Benjamin Monroe folded his notes and placed them in the worn leather briefcase he’d carried since graduate school. His lecture room at Clifton College was empty now. Peaceful. He always liked the stillness after class. He’d done his job, and he took pride in that.

As he often did, he turned to the long, narrow windows behind his podium and looked out over his hometown. From the third floor he could see east all the way to the river and north to where the land rose in rolling hills. There was a balance here that calmed his soul. A wide valley that nestled three small towns, but his town, Clifton Bend, was the best because the college rested in its center.

Benjamin hadn’t missed a class in twelve years. At forty-two he always came on time and well prepared. Routine ruled his life. He liked working with his dad on their farm every weekend and loved biking through the valley on sunny afternoons. The exercise kept him lean and tanned, just as his work kept him sharp.

What he didn’t like was spring break. It interrupted his routine. A worthless holiday, but he’d help his father on their little farm and manage to keep busy.

“Dr. Monroe?” A nervous, high-pitched voice bombarded his thoughts. “May I speak to you about something? It’s important.”

A creature with auburn hair, glasses too big for her face, and huge blue eyes leaned around the door. Professor Virginia Clark.

He plowed his long fingers through his straight, mud-colored hair. If teachers were allowed a nemesis, Miss Clark, the biology instructor, would be his. As far as he was concerned, all they had in common was age.

Benjamin was tempted to say, “No, you can’t speak to me,” but that would be unprofessional.

To her credit, Miss Virginia Clark was bubbly on a down day. Her voice was too high, her manner of dress was in no way appropriate, and her legs were too short. On a good day she was exuberant and misguidedly thought they were not only colleagues but friends.

He’d always hated bubbly people; they made him nervous. But she taught two doors down in the biology lab and officed next to him. Some days he swore he could hear her laughing or running around her tiny workplace like a squirrel in a box.

Right now, she was charging toward his podium like Grant taking Richmond. Too late to say no or run, so all he could do was watch her approach.

Another observation—professors should never bounce.

Miss Clark bounced. She was a bit on the chubby side; a head shorter than he was, and the white lab coat did not conceal her curves. Her corkscrew hair seemed to be dancing to a hard rock beat, and her breasts . . . well never mind them. Unprofessional, he thought as he watched her coming down the steps row by row, breasts moving to their own beat.

“I need your help, Dr. Monroe.” She stopped one foot too close to him.

He fought the urge to step back.

“Of course, Miss Clark, I’m at your service,” he offered. Maybe she needed a ride or she was locked out of her office, again. He could make time to be kind. After all, they were colleagues.

“I’d be happy to help any way I can.”

“Good. I was afraid you’d say no. It’s a great opportunity and we can split the work and the money.”

Benjamin raised an eyebrow. “What work?”

“My research paper entry for the Westwin Research Journal has been approved as one of five finalists. The winner’s findings will be published in the journal as well as winning the ten-thousand-dollar prize.” She smiled. “Just think, we’ll be famous. Last year’s subject was how aging relates to location. The winner was interviewed on the Today show.”

She was bouncing again. This time with excitement. “I might finally get to go to New York City. I’ve always dreamed of seeing plays and walking through Central Park. They say you can hear the heartbeat of the whole world in the streets of New York.”

Benjamin fell into her pipe dream for a second. “If I had money to blow, I’d go to Paris and see Marie Curie’s office and lab. I’ve read every book about her dedication, her work, her life. Imagine walking the streets she walked.”

He didn’t mention that he’d also find his mother, if she was still alive. She’d left him when he was four years old, saying she must paint in Paris for a few months, but she never came back.

He had only one question for her. Was the life she’d given him up for worth it?

Miss Clark frowned at him as if measuring his sanity. “Paris, really Benjamin, sometimes you surprise me.”

When he frowned at the use of his first name, she sighed, obviously reading his thoughts.

“Dr. Monroe,” she corrected. “We could split the research and the writing. I’ve already obtained the president’s approval for a small survey. All we have is a month to get this done, but we’ve got spring break to kick off our project with a bang.”

He nodded slowly, not willing to jump in, but willing to listen. “What is our topic of research?”

Blushing, she added, “Redefining sexual attractions in today’s world.”

Benjamin straightened slightly.

Miss Clark giggled. “We could call it, ‘The Chemistry of Mating.’”

He swallowed hard as she turned and bounced out of the room.

For a few moments, Benjamin forgot to breathe. Calamity had blown in on a tornado with red hair.

The only good news. Spring break wasn’t going to be boring.

Honey Creek

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: October 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 Jodi Thomas

Author Photo

With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 50 novels and countless short story collections. Her stories travel through the past and present days of Texas and draw readers from around the world.

In July 2006, Jodi was the 11th writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. With five RITA’s to her credit, along with National Readers’ Choice Awards and Booksellers’ Best Awards, Thomas has proven her skill as a master storyteller.

Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, Thomas also served as Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.

When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling, renovating a historic home, and “checking on” two grown sons and four grandchildren.


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Review: Rebel’s Karma by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted June 7, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Rebel’s Karma by Rebecca ZanettiReviewer: Casee
Rebel's Karma by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Dark Protectors #13
Also in this series: Marked (Dark Protectors, #7), Fated (Dark Protectors, #1), Claimed (Dark Protectors, #2), Hunted (Dark Protectors, #3), Consumed (Dark Protectors, #4), Provoked (Dark Protectors, #5), Marked (Dark Protectors, #7), Shadowed (Dark Protectors, #6), Vampire's Faith (Dark Protectors, #8), Demon's Mercy (Dark Protectors, #9), Alpha's Promise, Hero's Haven, Guardian's Grace
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Publication Date: June 8, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: No
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 304
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

There’s no denying destiny . . .

For too long, Benjamin Reese has masked his deadly skills and temper with loyalty and humor. A vampire-demon hybrid, he fiercely protects his family, guards his brothers, and destroys the enemy without mercy. But when he discovers one fragile, beautiful blonde—a woman once mated to a Kurjan, no less—every primal instinct he has buried for centuries roars to life. With the mating mark she roused on his hand entwining their fates, no one will prevent him from keeping her safe and making her his, forever . . .

Or desire . . .

Karma wishes she could remember her last name. Or if she even had one. All she has in this confusing new world is a desperate duty to save the innocent. That means destroying the dark, dangerous, and desirable Benjamin Reese and everything he loves—an impossible task even before his touch arouses a passionate hunger she can’t afford. She’s certain a deadly enemy watches her every move, but it’s not until Benny kisses her that she tastes true danger…

I adore Rebecca Zanetti. I think she’s a fabulous storyteller that really pulls you in deep. Rebel’s Karma is book 13 in the Dark Protectors series. The books she’s writing now have to do with the Seven. Seven vampire/demons/vampire-demon hybrids have been chosen to keep Ulric in another dimension so he doesn’t come destroy the world.

This book was really about Karma coming into her power as a woman. She has been with the Kurjans for centuries, had even mated one. He died and now she’s only a tool for the Kurjan’s to use. When they use her to spy on Benjamin Reese, she wants to say no. She can’t. Whether she likes it or not, she lives with the Kurjans.

Benny knows that Karma has some kind of Stockholm syndrome. Except she doesn’t. She has to protect her two daughters. To do that, she has to find out more about the Seven and the Realm. She’s already heard all sorts of horror stories about the Queen of the Realm. It doesn’t take Karma long to realize that most of the things she was taught were a lie.

Benny wants nothing more than to take care of Karma. She is his mate, and he hers. But he won’t mate her when death is looming over his head. He’s sure that to stop Ulric, he will have to sacrifice himself. Benny refuses to mate because he knows he’s going to die.

One thing I appreciated was that RZ addressed what would happen if someone actually broke through an alternate dimension. Scientifically that is. It was clear that you can’t just go willy-nilly through dimensions without there being consequences. The Seven are dealing with the fallout of those consequences and have basically been exiled by the Realm.

This series keeps getting better. I like where it’s going and am really looking forward to Sam’s story. Oh, Sam.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Dark Protectors

four-stars


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Guest Review: An Earl, the Girl and a Toddler by Vanessa Riley

Posted May 19, 2021 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: An Earl, the Girl and a Toddler by Vanessa RileyReviewer: Tracy
An Earl, the Girl, and a Toddler by Vanessa Riley
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: April 27, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: 1st & 3rd
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
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three-stars

A witty and moving story from the acclaimed author of A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby, about the lengths to which a woman will go for the love of her child…and the love of a man who knows her worth. Breaking with traditional Regency rules and customs, Vanessa Riley pens an unforgettable story perfect for fans of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton, Evie Dunmore, and Eloisa James looking for something fresh and stirring!

Masterminded by the ton's most clever countess, the secret society The Widow's Grace helps ill-treated widows regain their reputations, their families, and even find true love again--or perhaps for the very first time...

Surviving a shipwreck en route to London from Jamaica was just the start of personal maid Jemina St. Maur's nightmare. Suffering from amnesia, she was separated from anyone who might know her and imprisoned in Bedlam. She was freed only because barrister Daniel Thackery, Lord Ashbrook, was convinced to betray the one thing he holds dear: the law. Desperate to unearth her true identity, Jemina's only option is to work outside the law--which means staying steps ahead of the formidable Daniel, no matter how strongly she is drawn to him...

Married only by proxy, now widowed by shipwreck, Daniel is determined to protect his little stepdaughter, Charlotte, from his family's scandalous reputation. That's why he has dedicated himself not just to the law, but to remaining as proper and upstanding--and boring--as can be. But the closer he becomes to the mysterious, alluring Jemina, the more Daniel is tempted to break the very rules to which he's dedicated his life. As ruthless adversaries close in, will the truth require him and Jemina to sacrifice their one chance at happiness?

Jemima St. Maur was put into Bedlam after a shipwreck.  She has amnesia and couldn’t remember who she was, she still can’t remember and seeks the truth of her past.  She’s saved (in book one of this series) by Daniel Thackery, a barrister who helps his aunt get widows out of trouble.

Daniel was married by proxy to Phoebe, who was also on the ship that went down, but his wife didn’t survive.  He was presented with a baby who he believed was Phoebe’s child, even though she had never mentioned a child in her letters.  He decides to raise the child as his own.

Two years later Jemima and Daniel have a bit of a love/hate relationship.  They don’t necessarily get a long, but when they’re together there’s a very strong attraction.  Daniel finally decides that he has mourned for Phoebe long enough and wants to make Jemima his mistress.   Jemima’s not opposed to the idea, but she is wary of Daniel as she’s positive he’s keeping information from her about her past and the shipwreck.

This was my first read by Vanessa Riley.  I’ll admit, I wasn’t a fan of the writing style as it seemed a bit all over the place.  I also didn’t feel that the hero and heroine actually had a lot of chemistry.

I liked Jemima…to a point.  She was pretty headstrong, and I liked that about her.  That said, I felt the author took that too far and went into I’m-so-headstrong-I’m-going-to-make-stupid-decisions territory. There was also the constant on/off with Daniel as Jemima couldn’t decide if she was going to trust him or not.  Granted, she had every reason not to trust him as he’d kept a lot of stuff (about her) to himself. She wasn’t even aware she’d been in a shipwreck until he told her – two years later! Still, the on-again off-again love was annoying at times.

Daniel was a smart man – a barrister who worked for the crown.  Even so, he was looked down upon because he was mulatto.  Even when he inherited an Earldom, people still turned their noses up at him.  He was a good man for taking in the baby (Hope) and raising her, and he was a good father.  He helped his aunt with her business of saving widows and their families.  I admired his dedication to his aunt and her cause, as well as his dedication to Hope and fatherhood in general.  Unfortunately, I just didn’t like him all that much as a man.  He kept so much a secret, even when his marriage was failing, he still couldn’t come completely clean.  I found it so frustrating.

Overall I didn’t find the story very satisfying.  Not liking the couple as a couple put a damper on the whole experience.  While I really loved the blurb for this book, the story itself just didn’t do it for me in the end.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Lightning Review: Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries

Posted February 26, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Lightning Review: Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina JeffriesReviewer: Holly
Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Duke Dynasty #1.5
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Historical Challenge
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one-half-stars
Series Rating: two-stars

This winter, steal away with the reigning queens of Regency Romance... plus one or two dukes, one heiress, and one headstrong beauty—to a surprise snow storm, the comfort of a blazing fire, and the heat of a lover's kisses...

A CHRISTMAS ABDUCTION by Madeline Hunter

Caroline Dunham has a bone to pick with notorious rake Baron Thornhill—and a creative plan to insure his undivided attention. Yet once in close quarters, she finds herself beholden to their smoldering connection.

A PERFECT MATCH by Sabrina Jeffries

Whisked away from a wintry ball by a commanding colonel, Cassandra Isles struggles with her feelings for Lord Heywood. For he is a man sworn to marry only for money—and Cass is an heiress who will accept nothing less than love.

I only read the first two stories in this novella.

A CHRISTMAS ABDUCTION by Madeline Hunter

Adam, Baron Thornhill gets abducted by a woman. He thinks he’s been abducted as revenge because his cousin put their family’s breeding horses down after illness swept through them. Only, no. It’s actually because he supposedly seduced her sister and got her with child. She plans to force them to marry. Adam is pretty sure he’s never met her sister, but he can’t be sure because he is something of a rake.

The premise of this story was interesting. It started out well but then went downhill when the MC’s started lusting after each other. They’re attracted to each other. Okay, I can buy that. So they keep kissing. How is this a thing? You think he’s a rake who seduced and abandoned your sister. You are literally holding him hostage to marry her, but you let him kiss and fondle you anyway? Gross.

View Spoiler »
 
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 (the .5 for the first few chapters)

A PERFECT MATCH by Sabrina Jeffries

Cass is an heiress who is determined to keep her fortune a secret so she can marry for love. Lord Heywood needs a fortune to restore the property he inherited. He intends to court her cousin, Kitty (also an heiress), but after they spend time together, it’s Cass he wants.

I really disliked the fact that Cass hid her fortune for as long as she did, but more importantly, I disliked how Heywood reacted when he found out about it. I wasn’t loving the story up to that point, and his giant man-tantrum didn’t help matters.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Duke Dynasty

After I read those two stories I was done with this anthology and skipped the Mary Jo Putney. I may go back and read it at some point.

one-half-stars


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Guest Review: The Princess Knight by G.A. Aiken

Posted November 25, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Princess Knight by G.A. AikenReviewer: Tracy
The Princess Knight by G.A. Aiken
Series: The Scarred Earth Saga #2
Also in this series: The Blacksmith Queen, The Blacksmith Queen
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: November 24, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN

Gemma Smythe dedicated her life to the glory of battle. With her fellow War Monks, she worshipped the war gods, rained destruction on her enemies, and raised the dead when the fancy took her. Until her sister Keeley became the prophesied Blacksmith Queen, and Gemma broke faith with her order to journey to the Amichai Mountain and fight by Keeley’s side.

The Amichai warriors are an unruly, never-to-be-tamed lot, especially their leader-in-waiting, Quinn. But when the War Monks declare support for Gemma’s ruthless younger sister Beatrix, the immaturity of her key ally is the least of Gemma’s problems. She has to get to the grand masters, dispel their grudge against her, and persuade them to fight for Keeley and justice. If her conviction can’t sway them, perhaps Quinn’s irritating, irreverent, clearly unhinged, ferocity will win the day . . .

Gemma Smythe is a war monk.  She left her Order when she found out that her younger, unhinged sister, Beatrix was going to be named as the next queen.  When both her sister Beatrix and her sister, Keeley, are named as queen the battle begins.

In this story Gemma has found out that her War Monk order is supporting Beatrix, the psychopath.  Gemma heads back to her order to try to sway them to follow Keely instead.  Along with her, she takes Amichai warrior, Quinn as well as her sister, Ainsley who is amazing with a bow and arrow.  Quinn is irreverent and annoying, but he’s tough and knows how fight, which is what Gemma expects to have to do when she gets to her order.

On the way back to the home base Gemma and Quinn run into dwarves, nuns, more monks, virgins, witches, priests and assassins that are all there to help Keeley’s cause.  They discover that they must infiltrate Beatrix’s castle and work together to bring her downfall.

Another great book in the Scarred Earth Saga.  I love that the fight continues between the two queens and that so many different factions are involved on both sides.

The story revolved around Gemma and Quinn and their helping Keeley and fighting the good fight again Beatrix.  This series doesn’t seem to have romance per se, but the couples do end up falling in love, or a version of love. Lol  It’s not everyone’s idea of romantic, but I honestly feel that it’s a good representation of the characters and what would actually happen.

Aiken draws the reader into a world that is fantastical but believable.  Most of the time I can honestly think that this was something that might have happened (except for the fact that I know it’s fantasy!).  The fantasy-based beings and the magic are wonderful, but so is Aiken’s signature snark.  I love that the characters aren’t serious 24/7.  They know the consequences of not winning against Beatrix but it doesn’t stop their personalities from coming through loud and clear and I love that.

The Scarred Earth Saga so far is a good one and if you love fantasy and sarcasm you’ll love the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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