My husband Daniel and I are celebrating 10 years of marriage this May, so some of my One Sentence Stories--like the one below--will center around this upcoming joyous event. This series will be particularly enjoyable if you like secondhand mortification. Read on for more!
She stared at his retreating back, wondering how (or even if) a 19-year-old girl known for earnestness and awkwardness, who had never properly kissed or been kissed (she preferred not to think about that attempt in her driveway), was supposed to pursue a young man known for brevity and reclusiveness, and who, when she asked him how his night was going, only said “Good” and promptly walked away.
It’s only January 30th, but I feel really confident saying that Jenny Holiday’s latest release Three Little Words is one of my best reads of the year. I know, I know, this kind of enthusiastic statement is very unlike me, as I’m usually reluctant to gush (lies, lies), but this book is amazing/lovely/powerful/everything that I’ve ever wanted.
Like the rest of Holiday’s Bridesmaids Behaving Badly series, Three Little Words is set around one of the best friend’s weddings. In this case, it’s the wedding of Wendy and Noah, whose love story was featured in It Takes Two. Here’s what you need to know about this book: Chef Bennett Buchanan and model Gia Gallo are trying to get to the aforementioned wedding when they first meet, but unfortunately for them, inclement weather conditions are making that difficult.
Their first impressions of the other are less than stellar. But despite her rudeness at the ticket counter, there’s something about Gia, and despite his good-ole-southern-boy charm, there’s something about Bennett.
A road trip commences, and it’s awkward and confessional and wonderful. Gia and Bennett both come to the road trip packing big emotional baggage, and to their surprise, they find an audience in the other. But despite the things they tell each other—and their overwhelming chemistry—they’re looking for different things in the relationship department: Gia never wants to be in one, and Bennett doesn’t do “casual.”
Three Little Words is by turns hilarious (Bennett’s reaction to the food makeover shows killed me) and sad, and does both equally well; it’s inspirational and raw and hopeful, and above all, it’s heartwarming. I felt so much reading this book, and by the end of it, I already missed the characters but I was also relishing the secondhand HEA glow.
If you want a book that tells a beautiful love story--and that tells a story about people finding their way to better versions of themselves—read Three Little Words. Prepare to fall in love.
**I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley, but all opinions provided are my own.
If you’ve been reading Jill Shalvis’ Heartbreaker Bay series, Playing for Keeps is the book you’ve been (anxiously) waiting for. Sadie, a wisecracking, budding tattoo artist, and Caleb, the successful inventor/businessman she calls “Suits,” have had it out for each other since the beginning. Take cover, because anytime they’re near the other, sparks—and insults—fly. So what gets things moving in a more positive direction in this book? The sweetest stray dog, which Sadie names Lollipop, and which, in true frenemy fashion, Sadie and Caleb both want to adopt.
Sounds like we have everything we need for a heartwarming contemp. romance. But with Jill Shalvis, we get more.
Like flashes of humor, of the self-deprecating and throwing-zingers-at-the-enemy variety, that make Playing for Keeps something more than sweet. And, while I wouldn’t call this book angsty, there is some darkness, too, revealing new depths to the main characters and their road to HEA, and making it all the more satisfying when everything comes together. (That Epilogue…)
There’s an authenticity to the characters and this book—where Sadie and Caleb have come from, their successes, and the mistakes they continue to make, today—even as Shalvis is building a love story that dreams are made of.
**I received an ARC of this book via Edelweiss+ but all opinions are my own.
Until I was around 30, I had a nervous feeling in my stomach every time I held out my ID to very legally buy alcoholic beverages, and it was because people always told me that I looked much younger than my age. So it makes a lot of sense to me why I’m drawn to the romantic suspense genre, where nervous feelings are reserved for the most serious things, like having someone pull a gun on you, or performing a heroic rescue, or solving a case (or falling in love).
Katie Reus is a romantic suspense author I’d love to read more of. Her book Covert Games, which released on 01/22, really hit the spot for me. Smart, intense suspense that’s big on action but also big on those HEA feelings, Covert Games had me enthralled from the first page to the last.
Leighton and the rest of his Redemption Harbor Consulting crew want to take down major criminal Alexei Kuznetsov’s human trafficking operation, which is suspected of working out of a hotel managed by Luciana Carreras, Alexei’s niece. Leighton will do anything to rescue the victims, even if he’s not sure whether or not Lucy is involved in the trafficking operation or not…
But Lucy is not who or what Leighton expected. *puts finger on chin in classic contemplative pose.* How could the insane attraction between Leighton and Lucy possibly make the rescue more complicated?
Covert Games is a bold, gorgeous story about heroes and heroines, resourcefulness, and two beautiful people who fall in love. And it’s highly recommended, whether you’re an intrepid someone…or someone who’s brave solely when it comes to getting haircuts and reading romantic suspense.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, but all opinions provided are my own.
It's here! It's here!
I'm so excited to be part of the Book Blitz for Kate Meader's Illegally Yours. Meader has long been one of my favorite romance authors because her books fiercely embody that steamy + sweet combo romance aficionados are always talking about--and they're beautifully written, too.
Her book Down with Love, the first in this Laws of Attraction series, is on my 100 Books list (read it if you haven't already!), and Illegally Yours, the second in the series, is another stellar offering. It's so good!
Read more below for a synopsis, exclusive excerpt, The Naptime Writer Need to Know, and info about a giveaway and our author herself, Kate Meader.
Rule #1: Never fall for your client.
Rule #2: Never fall for your client’s fiercely protective, smoking hot sister-in-law.
I’m the kind of guy who believes that everyone deserves the best legal representation money can buy—which just so happens to be me, Lucas Wright. Give me your henpecked, your cuckolded, your irreconcilable differences yearning to break free! And if you’re the bad guy in your marriage, that’s cool too. Your green is as good as anyone’s.
Tell that to Trinity Jones. It’s my job to destroy her sister—the soon-to-be ex-wife of my a-hole of a client—and Trinity’s “big sis” instincts are dialed up to the max. I admire that. I admire her. But she won’t stop me from representing my client to the best of my ability.
Not even if my chemistry with Trinity is undeniable. Not even if we can’t keep our hands off each other. Not even if she injects life into a heart assumed to be long dead.
Because when faced with a choice between love and duty, the job will always win—or at least that’s what I thought before I met Trinity . . . and suddenly conflict of interest never felt so right.
This ebook includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.
I smile at the last couple of women who are signing up for the Whiskey, Women, and Song mailing list.
“So, only women at these things?” one of them asks.
“Think of it as a safe space, a place for women to meet and not feel the pressure to be on all the time.”
“I like the idea,” her friend says as she writes down her email address. “As long as it’s not filled with lawyers.”
Her friend cackles and they walk out the door laughing.
Wow, this has been a really positive experience. Good people, even with the “mistaken identity” snafu at the beginning, a brand of shade I’ve been living all my life. I’m smiling as I turn, eager to share my good vibes with someone.
One minute he was talking to Aubrey, the next, the air is a void I feel like a punch. What the hell is wrong with me?
It’s just a hot guy. There are lots of hot guys. And this one is the wrong, hot guy. Too gorgeous and too much trouble and--
Thank the gods, he came back.
“Thought you skedaddled out of here.”
“No, you didn’t.” He lifts the case of half-empty bottles onto the dolly and secures it with the bungee cord I use. “Ready?” He’s already dragging my wares into the corridor.
I follow, noting how quiet it is in the office. We pass a couple of open doors with people at desks, heads down, poring over depositions or whatever lawyers pore over at seven in the evening. But other than them, no one is around to watch our departure.
Lucas calls for the elevator.
The air crackles with possibility. I’m suddenly very nervous.
The doors open and we step inside. Lucas situates the dolly and then he backs me up against the wall before the doors have closed. His eyes burn into me, branding me with sensual purpose.
“We’re goo—” His mouth descends on mine. We’re goo. I’m goo. A hot, melting puddle of neurons and blood vessels and other things that make up my weak, weak body.
I’m not good at being kissed. I don’t enjoy being on the passive end of a smooch, so I do what any modern woman who hasn’t gotten any in a while would do:
I eat Lucas’s face off.
I can’t help it. One touch of his mouth to mine and it’s a flame to kindling. My lips take on a life of their own: greedy, grasping, gimme-all-the-sugar. He moans at the contact of our tongues and that moan sets off vibrations throughout my body. Every cell is on fire.
We’re both fighting for supremacy here, neither of us willing to surrender. It’s war. It’s brutally beautiful. How wonderful to feel so well matched with a kiss.
I’m ready to see how well we fit in all the other areas. His chest to mine, our hips rocking together, that moment when he sinks inside me, deep and true. I need it so badly I can already feel it. I want to feel everything with this man after so long sublimating my needs to others.
Seems we’re on the same page. We both go for the respective ass grab, and this simultaneously mutual move shifts something. Separating, we laugh into the kiss.
It’s a lovely moment that I’ll never forget. But it breaks the spell and twists it into something else, something deeper as we stare at each other for a long, ultracharged moment.
“Wow,” he murmurs.
The elevator doors open. Aubrey is on the other side, her cat’s mouth curving into a grin. Neither of us has pressed the button to escape this floor.
Lucas hits twenty-five and smiles at Aubrey. “Take the next one, princess.”
He’s back to kissing me before the doors close.
I know there are a million reasons not to do this. I can only think of the one reason why we must: I need Lucas Wright more than I’ve ever needed anything.
I need something for me. Someone who sees me, if only for a sparkling star-filled moment. I expect I’ll fall back into sanity, but hopefully, not too soon.
THE NAPTIME WRITER NEED TO KNOW.
There’s a lot that I love about romance novels, but one thing is that for all their HEA, they’re also not afraid to tackle the more complicated parts of our lives: the sadness or hardships that we’ve carried with us and that make accepting a HEA difficult. We see that in Illegally Yours, and it lends authenticity to the characters, especially Lucas, who can come across as a little over-the-top.
Lucas Wright is a divorce attorney, partner and friend to Max, whom we met (and fell in love with) in Down with Love. He’s British and outrageous. He’s a sexy charmer who can sometimes appear unrelenting in his attempt to entertain. But he’s also kind and sensitive and haunted.
And then there’s kickass Trinity Jones, who is wearing a catsuit (a catsuit!!!) when we first meet her. More evidence of her kickassery: she refers to herself as “Whiskey Woman” on her business cards. Trinity's cultivating her reputation as a whiskey sommelier, a task made more difficult by virtue of the fact that the field is predominantly comprised of white men.
I adore so much about this pairing. The older woman-younger man. The practical, no-nonsense Trinity and the dramatic, extravagant Lucas.
But underneath it all, Trinity and Lucas are supremely protective and loving—and devoted to their families in ways both seen and unseen.
The chemistry between our leads is hot, hot, hot!, a state of affairs that’s certainly helped—though not limited to—the fact that their relationship is initially forbidden. And then there’s the sweetness, too; they lift each other up. There’s a solidity to their relationship that’s beautiful—for all of Lucas’s play—and that’s reinforced by the particularly lovely ending.
Illegally Yours is sooo good, folks.
BUY IT HERE.
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2RDdmWA
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2CwCwvN
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2RyxTvs
ABOUT KATE MEADER.
Originally from Ireland, USA Today bestselling author Kate Meader cut her romance reader teeth on Maeve Binchy and Jilly Cooper novels, with some Harlequins thrown in for variety. Give her tales about brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron or a fire hose, and she’s there. Now based in Chicago, she writes sexy contemporary romance with alpha heroes and strong heroines who can match their men quip for quip.
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ENTER THE GIVEAWAY.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from IndieSage PR, but all opinions provided are my own.
"It's not disgusting!," she insisted when her husband unearthed the crumpled, ragged, half-used Kleenex she'd been squirreling away under her pillow in case of nighttime sniffles, but privately...privately, she had to agree that it didn't look that cute either.
These are not affiliate links. I just love Etsy and believe in supporting small businesses!
Last year I finished a remarkable book—Marie Marquardt’s Flight Season—and then read the author’s notes, where she talked about writing a book in which people experience suffering. It’s not fun to think about suffering or talk about it. Sometimes we might shy away from the memories when we have suffered, or maybe even worse, watched someone we love suffer. Sometimes we are aware that relatively speaking, we have suffered very little, and we wonder when our something big will happen, or if it will, and if we’ll be strong enough.
Two amazing books that I’ve read more recently have focused on day-to-day suffering and both have opened my heart and eyes a little more than they were before.
I’ve seen Katherine Center’s How to Walk Away on multiple Best of Lists so I had to read it. Margaret Jacobsen has always been terrified of planes (in particular, plane crashes), so when her serious boyfriend Chip, who is trying to get his pilot’s license, wants to take her on a plane ride, it takes a little while to convince her. But convinced she is, and though she gets engaged on the flight, she’s brought back to Earth when the plane crashes.
She wakes up in the hospital severely injured, and she, like many of the other characters who knew her before, wonder whether the pre-crash Margaret is gone, and who she is now, and what her new life looks like.
I loved this fierce, funny, painful book that tackles not only the physical and emotional aftermath of the crash, but also strained family dynamics and romantic love. Margaret, the narrator of How to Walk Away is conversational and approachable, yet she (and the book itself) possesses a sensitivity and astuteness that left me stunned.
When we’re talking about suffering, there aren’t any easy answers, and we see that in Katja Millay’s YA book, The Sea of Tranquility. This book was so difficult to read at times, so painful, and it’s one that will stay with me.
Nastya Kashnikov starts at a new high school. She dresses very provocatively and does not talk to anyone by choice, including her family. Josh Bennett has a “force field” around him. He’s alone at school and home and that’s how he wants it.
Neither character wants to want someone. But they’re drawn to each other, even as they resist opening themselves up. What events happened in each other’s past, to make them the person they are today? And is the person they are today “okay”? How can they make each other happy if they’re not happy themselves?
The Sea of Tranquility is about people who hurt. The hurts they can’t hide and the ones they do.
I wanted the characters in this book to be “okay.” I wanted them to learn quickly so they could be happy, because they deserved to be happy. But this is another book about suffering, about getting to a place of happiness, and how that can be incredibly difficult and sometimes even something people fight against.
Brilliant, tender, sad, The Sea of Tranquility is a devastating and hopeful portrayal of human hurt.
As she swooped down for a chunk of goodness she'd trimphantly unearthed from the picked-through ice cream pint, she realized something shocking: if she kept this up, her kids would be college-aged before they realized that ice cream could even come with cookie dough in it.
**These aren't affiliate links. I just love Etsy and believe in supporting small businesses!
Sometimes you might want to read a romance with a huge, huge jerk who falls in love.
Class, we call those heroes alphaholes, and L. J. Shen writes them superbly. Men who snarl. Who say the cruelest, crudest things, particularly to our heroine. Who seem so close to being irredeemable that you wonder if it’s actually possible for the main characters to have a HEA.
But with Shen’s books, it is. Her books are dishy, juicy, and naughty, and I feel the perfect amount of voyeur when reading them because the characters and their lives are so alien to me.
With her latest release, The Kiss Thief, Shen tackles the arranged marriage trope. Nineteen-year-old Francesca Rossi is beautiful and accomplished and she’s dreamed of marrying Angelo Bandini for years. But in one night, her father, Arthur, head of the Chicago Outfit, promises her in marriage to Senator Wolfe Keaton, a ruthless man who has dirt on Arthur and promises to use it.
Wolfe is not a nice person, and his plans to make Francesca’s father miserable include making her miserable as well. He puts his plans into effect ASAP, and the results are truly cringeworthy.
But Francesca is warm and quirky, and before he knows it, Wolfe finds himself doing things for her that he never imagined. Is it possible for Wolfe to allow himself to care about her? And for her to let go of the love she’s had for Angelo for so many years? Also, on an entirely unrelated note, how well does vengeance go with new marriages, particularly if the person being targeted is the bride’s father?
Though I tore through the pages of The Kiss Thief, this book didn’t resonate with me quite as much as some of Shen’s other books have (i.e. Bane and Dirty Headlines), and I think it comes down to these simple facts about the characters. Francesca is 19 and (understandably) unsure about a lot of things, and this, added to other factors like Wolfe’s intense vengeance plot and the complex lover’s triangle, led to some behaviors and decisions that I wasn’t entirely crazy about (even though I also recognized that those behaviors and decisions seemed fairly realistic to the characters, given what we knew about them).
But I still enjoyed this book very much, and here’s why: The Kiss Thief is glamorous and magnetic, and I fell into the story right away. I don’t usually identify with Shen’s characters, but I’m enthralled by them and eager to see what manner of mischief is about to transpire next. They’re always unpredictable, and enticingly dramatic, and this book was no exception.
I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author, but all opinions provided are my own.
Give me that HEA, please.
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