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Review: A Highlander Walks into a Bar (Highland, Georgia #1) by Laura Trentham

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The timeless romance, soaring passion—and gorgeous men—of Scotland comes to modern-day America. And the rules of love will never be the same…

Isabel Buchanan is fiery, funny, and never at a loss for words. But she is struck speechless when her mother returns from a trip to Scotland with a six-foot-tall, very handsome souvenir. Izzy’s mother is so infatuated by the fellow that Izzy has to plan their annual Highland Games all by herself. Well, not completely by herself. The Highlander’s strapping young nephew has come looking for his uncle…

Alasdair Blackmoor has never seen a place as friendly as this small Georgia town—or a girl as brilliant and beguiling as Izzy. Instead of saving his uncle, who seems to be having a lovely time, Alasdair decides he’d rather help Izzy with the Highland Games. Show her how to dance like a Highlander. Drink like a Highlander. And maybe, just maybe, fall in love with a Highlander. But when the games are over, where do they go from here?

MY REVIEW

When I first heard of A Highlander Walks into a Bar, I was totally intrigued by the story-line. It sounded like it was going to be a really cute read, so I couldn’t wait to dive in.

A Highlander Walks into a Bar starts off really promising. The dynamic between Izzy and her mother certainly was interesting. I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cringe at times. But, those two certainly kept things interesting! Then we meet Alasdair. Alasdair travels to Georgia to try to talk some sense into his uncle and bring him home. Alasdair only plans to stay for a short time, but can’t help but be captivated by Izzy….

Overall, I thought this book was an ok read. I think it had a lot of potential and is one of those books that is definitely going to be hit or miss for readers. Like I previously stated, this book did have a promising start. I was intrigued by the characters and was looking forward to diving deeper into their story. I enjoyed how cute the fictional town of Highland, Georgia was.  I liked all of the Scottish touches. I was really looking forward to seeing Izzy and Alasdair get to know one another more. And there were some nice steamy moments and surprises along the way.

However, I did have some issues with this book. The biggest and most important one I will be touching on today is the pacing. And for me, the pacing can either make or break the story. And when it comes to this one, the pacing just killed me. I can deal with a slow pace as long as the story is moving along and the plot is engaging. Sadly, that did not happen here. The pacing was far too slow for my liking and I found myself getting very distracted. At times, I even found myself skimming sections, just to move things along. And that is something I just don’t like to do.

My final thoughts on this book is that it was just an ok read. It had its moments where I thought things would turn around for me, but it never stayed consistent. As far as rating goes, this is a tough one. For now, I think I’m going to round up to 3 stars, because I do feel that the potential is there, it just needs more fleshing out. This is my first book by this author and while it wasn’t a total hit for me, I’m still glad that I checked out this book and gave it a chance.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, via the publisher & NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review*

EXCERPT

From A Highlander Walks into a Bar. Copyright © 2019 by Laura Trentham and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

Chapter One

“I brought home a surprise!” Rose Buchanan threw her arms out wide as if embracing the world. From the stories she told to the way she entered the room, Rose was exuberant and entertaining and enjoyed being the center of attention.

Isabel Buchanan, who was perfectly content on the fringes, pushed her wavy hair off her sticky forehead with hands that trembled from the nightmare drive through At- lanta to the airport to pick up her mom. Her mom’s trip to Scotland had doubled as both research and vacation. The jammed stop-and-go traffic had left Izzy flustered and already dreading their exit from the airport.

Rolling her stiff shoulders, Izzy stepped around the bumper of the car, popping the trunk open on the way. Her mom had a beautiful plaid scarf of greens and browns and blues tossed over her shoulder and what appeared to be new earrings. Either purchase might inspire her mother to gush, and she would expect reciprocal gushing from Izzy. Making an educated guess, Izzy asked, “Are those ear-rings your surprise?”

Without waiting for an answer, she hauled one of her mom’s giant wheeled suitcases closer and prepared to heave it into the back. The sooner they got out of Atlanta, the sooner she could get back to work planning the High- land festival. Or she might pour an extra-large glass of wine and escape into a book. A guilty pleasure, considering how much she still had to get in order in three scant weeks.

“Allow me, please.” A bearded man who had been roll- ing cases to the curb stepped forward with a grin and an accent Izzy couldn’t place.

She checked her pockets and winced. No cash to tip the man, and no hope her mom had thought of something so inconsequential.

“Do you like them? They’re hammered silver.” Her mom flipped her bobbed matching silver hair to the side and displayed one earring with her fingers. “And as a matter of fact, I did buy them from a lovely shop in Edinburgh, but I brought something bigger home. Something more exciting.”

“Your scarf? It’s lovely.” Izzy gave her mom limited attention while she watched the man load suitcase after suitcase into her trunk, fitting them together like a puzzle. More luggage than her mom had left with. She waved to catch the man’s attention. “Hang on. That’s not all my mom’s stuff.”

For the first time, Izzy really looked at the man. He was close to her mom in age, and good-looking in a bear- like way with a gleaming white smile highlighted by a salt-and-pepper beard. His full head of hair was a shade darker, but graying heavily at the temples. The expression on the man’s face when he looked in her mom’s direction—a mix of adoration and amusement—cleared the fog of confusion.

Lord have mercy, her mother had brought back a six- foot, two-hundred-pound-plus souvenir from Scotland.

Laura Trentham Blog Tour Q&A A HIGHLANDER WALKS INTO A BAR

  1. What inspired you to write A Highlander Walks into a Bar?

It was actually a Buick car commercial from a couple of years ago where a grandson picks his grandmother up from the airport and she says saucily, “I did a lot of shopping in Italy.” From behind her luggage steps an Italian gentleman. Of course, my writer brain kept picturing what happened after the three of drove off and twisted it into an entire story but had to make up a town for them to return to!

Another big inspiration is a real-life place: Helen, Georgia, is a town that has transformed itself into a German village. It’s picturesque and they celebrate Octoberfest every year. I twisted that concept and made my little town of Highland, Georgia, into a Scottish village including an annual Highland Games that the Buchanan ladies put on every summer which is an important aspect of the book.

  1. Introduce us to your main characters!

Isabel Buchanan is the daughter who picks her mother up from the airport only to be surprised by the appearance of Gareth Blackmoor, who happens to be keeping his title of Earl of Cairndow a secret from everyone in Highland, Georgia, including Rose Buchanan, Isabel’s mother.

Alasdair Blackmoor is Gareth’s nephew and heir to the title and castle in Scotland. He’s been sent to round up his wandering uncle and to make sure he isn’t being taken advantage of by some pushy American women. Complications ensue, including love (of course!)

  1. Lots of aspiring authors out there. Any advice for them?

To become a better writer, you must write. Sounds simple, but I know so many aspiring authors who get stuck in their own head. They plot and make inspiration boards and talk about writing, but when the fingers hit the keyboard, they get mired in doubts. Just get the words down. They don’t have to be perfect; they don’t even have to be good, but you can’t fix a blank page!

  1. How is A Highlander Walks into a Bar different from your other books?

While it’s still a Southern small town romance, it has a definite rom-com vibe. Expect low angst and lots of laughs! I love to read reviews where they reader has literally laughed out loud at several points.

  1. I know asking someone’s all-time favorite book is a loaded question so what’s your current favorite read?

Two series I have loved lately are Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy (a fantasy retelling weaving medieval Russian history and folklore) and Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell’s mysteries (a Victorian butterfly hunter teams up with a taxidermist to solve mysteries. I mean, seriously, how can you beat that combo?!)

  1. Alright, the ultimate question: why should we read your book?

If you need a pick-me-up, good-time, laugh-out-loud book, then read A Highlander Walks into a Bar!

  1. Favorite quote or scene you wrote in A Highlander Walks into a Bar?

As the woman continued to stare at him as if he were the bearer of the bubonic plague, his smile faltered. He stuck out a hand. “I’m Alasdair Blackmoor.”

Although he registered a split-second hesitation on her part, she took his hand. “Isabel Buchanan.”

Her handshake was firm and no-nonsense, but her palm was soft and her hand small in his. On closer inspection, her eyes striated into all different shades of brown and amber, and freckles dusted her cheeks. He hung on to her hand for too long, but couldn’t seem to pry himself away.

Breaking the spell, she wrested her hand from his, pulling it into a fist. Was she planning on throat-punching him? He rubbed his neck and took a step back, out of the radius of her magnetic energy, and her reach. On her approach, she’d seemed birdlike, insignificant even, but up close, he was having a hard time not staring like a first-class prat.

He was punch-drunk with exhaustion. It was the only logical explanation.

She stuck her hands into the back pockets of her jeans, stretching her red V-neck T-shirt tight. His gaze dipped instinctively and then stuck around to read the print on the pocket over the soft curve of her left breast: Highland. The Heart of Scotland in the Blue Ridge.

She cleared her throat. His gaze shot to hers, and he blinked to try to refocus his thoughts. “I was admiring . . . I mean, reading your shirt.”

“It’s not a novel.”

His face heated. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d blushed this hot and fierce.

  1. What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve always been (and still am) a huge reader. My youngest child started preschool and I wasn’t ready to go back to work in what I’m trained for (chemical engineering) so I sat down one morning and started writing a book. I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing until I was around halfway done and loving every minute! That book became a Golden Heart finalist, got me an agent, and is published as An Indecent Invitation, a Regency historical.

  1. What is a typical writing day like?

During the school year, I work while the kids are in school. I love the flexibility of being there to pick my kids up and drive them to soccer or gymnastics or chaperoning field trips, etc.

  1. Do you have any interesting writing quirks or habits?

My only habit is a bad one in that I drink *way* too much coffee while I’m writing! It’s become a ritual, I suppose.

  1. What has been one of the most surprising things you’ve learned as a published author?

How slow the industry can move, but also how quickly changes have come because of indie publishing.

  1. Can you tell us about what’s coming up next after this for you writing wise?

For my contemporary fans, I have my second women’s fiction releasing early February 2020, An Everyday Hero. The second book in the Highland, Georgia, series, A Highlander in a Pickup, releases late February 2020.

For my historical romance fans, look out for A Wicked Wedding in the Once Upon a Christmas Wedding anthology releasing in October 2019. And two more full length books in the Spies and Lovers series, A Sinful Surrender and A Daring Deception, coming sometimes in mid to late 2020!

  1. How can readers connect with you online?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLauraTrentham

Or join my reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1733284316920632/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LauraTrentham

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lauratrentham/

Sign up for my newsletter:  https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/w7o6b1

Follow me on Bookbub for new release or sale announcements: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/laura-trentham

Author Bio:

Laura Trentham is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance, including Then He Kissed Me and The Military Wife. She is a member of RWA, and has been a finalist multiple times in the Golden Heart competition. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.

Review: Nothing But This (Broken Pieces #2) by Natasha Anders

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A married couple yearns to rediscover lost love in this novel about forgiveness, reconciliation, and emotional growth.

It’s always been complicated between Libby Lawson and Greyson Chapman—and married life isn’t any simpler. But when Libby gets pregnant, she at last sees a bright future ahead. There’s just one problem: Greyson says he’s sterile.

Furious, Greyson abandons the young family. Equally furious and deeply hurt, Libby cuts all ties with him. After all these years, it seems their relationship has finally expired. But love is resilient and endures even when you don’t want it to. Greyson still longs for Libby, and though Libby’s heartbroken by Greyson’s lack of trust, she holds out hope for a complete, happy family.

And so they embark on the journey back to each other, wary of all the obstacles between them. It’s been a long road already—one strewed with fear, doubt, and misunderstandings. Will they keep looking to the past, or will they look to each other and walk hand in hand toward a broad new horizon?

Add to Goodreads

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MY REVIEW

Words can not even begin to express how excited I was to read this book. The synopsis sounded so promising and this author is one that a lot of friends have been raving about. The synopsis for Nothing But This sounded amazing and I just couldn’t wait to dive in.

Nothing But This follows the story of Greyson and Libby. Things between Greyson and Libby have always been complicated. Libby has had a crush on Greyson for as long as she could remember and Greyson never once gave any indication that he felt the same way. It wouldn’t be until years later, when fate reunites Greyson and Libby, that Greyson finally makes his move. Greyson and Libby have a whirlwind romance and before they know it, they find themselves married. The sky’s the limit. That is until Libby ends up getting pregnant. Libby’s happily ever after is anything but. Greyson believes himself to be sterile and his actions and treatment of Libby are inexcusable. Libby is so hurt. The only answer is to leave Greyson….Will Greyson open his eyes and see the mistakes he’s made? Is the damage between Libby and Greyson too much to repair? There’s only one way to find out…..

When I first picked up this book, I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough of Greyson and Libby. I felt like I couldn’t read fast enough. Their story started off so promising. A young couple who fell in love hard and fast and suddenly had the rug pulled out from under them….Yep, I couldn’t get enough. I was angry. I was frustrated. The angst and hopelessness so palpable. I couldn’t wait to see where this story would go.

Unfortunately, things feel apart pretty quickly for me. As much as I loved the angst and frustration. I found myself annoyed with Libby and Greyson. Don’t get me wrong, I totally was team Libby. She was so right in all the decisions she was making and I didn’t mind seeing Greyson grovel. Greyson made some terrible assumptions and his actions were irredeemable. I loved that Libby put him through the paces and didn’t just accept that he pulled his head out of his butt. She made him see how his behavior hurt her and she made him work for it.

However, after a while, the back and forth stopped working for me. It felt repetitive and like the plot was dragging. I wanted to see more from Greyson and Libby. I needed to see some type of a connection other than the baby & good sex. The sexual tension was on point and the angst factor definitely had my heart working overtime. But, I needed more than that. I needed some flashbacks of the good times and moments that would make me root for them. I needed to see these characters connect with their clothes on.  Like show me why these two characters should be together because at the end of the day, sex and a baby are not enough. My other issue was the secondary plot line between Harris and Tina. I found that to be really confusing since their story was the first book in this series. I get that their stories were running parallel with one another, but the way it was done, it felt like we never jumped ahead of their story, if that makes sense. Like I understand that some parts of their story were important to this plot, but it made it feel like this was all four of their stories instead of just Libby & Greyson’s.

Overall, I thought this book was an ok read. I think it will be a hit for some and a miss for others. I’m going to round this one up to 3 stars, because I really did enjoy the first half of the book. I think this story had a lot of good potential, but for me just fell flat. This is my first book by this author, and while I didn’t love it, I would be open to checking out other books from her in the future.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review*

Review: Jackson (The McBrides of Texas #1) by Emily March

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Sometimes it takes a new beginning 
Caroline Carruthers married young to a much-older man. Now that he’s gone, she’s lost…until she dares to chase a dream all on her own. Moving to Redemption, Texas, is chapter one in Caroline’s new life story. Opening a bookstore is the next. Finding love is the last thing on her mind as she settles into this new place called home. But when she meets a handsome, soulful man who’s also starting over, all bets are off.
to reach a happily-ever-after 
Jackson McBride came to Redemption looking only to find himself, not someone to love. Ever since his marriage ended, he’s been bitter. Sure, he used to believe in love–he even has the old song lyrics to prove it–but the Jackson of today is all business. That is, until a beautiful young widow who’s moved to town inspires a change of heart. Could it be that the myth of Redemption’s healing magic is true…and Jackson and Caroline can find a second chance at a happy ending after all?

Purchase Links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Kc1V3W

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250314918

MY REVIEW

Jackson is a cute and sweet small town second chance romance. While technically this book is the first in The McBrides of Texas Series, It is the 16th book in the Eternity Springs Series. So, it is a spin-off that can be read as a stand-alone novel. The author did a good job trying to make it so that you didn’t feel like you were missing anything, but there were a few moments where I felt like I was missing something from the previous series.

Jackson is my first book by this author and it follows the story of Jackson and Caroline. Since losing her husband, Caroline has wanted nothing more than to grieve and have a fresh start. Moving to Redemption, seems like the perfect place to call home and get that fresh start she was looking for. She wasn’t looking for love, but when Jackson enters her life, she doesn’t stand a chance….Ever since his divorce and bitter custody battle, Jackson has been blocked. He’s lost his love for music and belief in true love. A fresh start in Redemption, might just be what the doctor ordered. And when Jackson lays his eyes on Caroline, his whole world gets kicked off its axis. Will Redemption heal these poor lost souls??? There’s only one way to find out….

Overall, I thought this book was an ok read. It’s one of those books that’s going to be great for some and a miss for others. Jackson is built as a romance, and while it does have some romantic elements, this story is more about family, the small town Caroline & Jackson have come to call home, and finding oneself again.

I enjoyed getting to know Caroline and Jackson. I thought their romance was sweet and their story was interesting. However, I felt like something was off with them. They had some really good moments, but at times, I struggled to connect with them. I think they worked well as friends, but as far as romance goes, I guess I just needed more. Maybe see their relationship develop more and maybe add just a touch of steam. I know this is supposed to be a clean romance and that’s fine, but I could have used some really good, heart-clenching kisses.

For me Jackson was a quick and easy read. I thought it was written well and had a nice flow to it. However, there were moments where we were introduced to a lot of characters and it just kind of felt like there was too much going on. I found those moments to be distracting and it made me want to just skim over it. As I previously states, I also had some issues with the overall romance between Jackson and Caroline, but loved the moments with his daughter. It was clear that he was devoted to her and would do anything for her.

Jackson isn’t one of my typical reading styles. It was a lot cleaner than I was used to and this is coming from someone who reads YA books. While I did have some issues with this story, it wasn’t all bad. There were a lot of good moments, I just was left wanting more. All that being said, I’m still glad I picked up this book and gave it a chance.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book via the publisher, in exchange for an honest review*

Chapter One Excerpt

Nashville, Tennessee

Bang. The judge’s gavel fell and officially crushed Jackson McBride’s heart. He closed his eyes. Bleak despair washed over him. Up until this very moment, he hadn’t believed she’d take it this far.

He’d thought she’d come to her senses. He’d thought she would recognize that this proposal was not only nonsense, but truly insane. He’d believed that somewhere deep inside of her, she still had a spark of humanity. That she wouldn’t do this to him. To them. He’d been wrong.

Damn her. Damn her and the yes-men she surrounded herself with. Damn them all to hell and back.

The enormity of what had just happened washed over him. Oh, God, how will

I survive this?

On the heels of his anguish came the rage. It erupted hot as lava, and it fired his blood and blurred his vision with a red haze of fury. He’d never hit a woman in his life. Never come close, despite plenty of provocation from her direction. In that moment had she been within reach, he might have lived up her accusations.

It scared the crap out of him. That’s what she’s brought me to.

Abruptly, he shoved back his chair so hard that it teetered, almost falling over. He strode toward the courtroom exit. “Jackson? Jackson, wait!” his attorney called, hurrying after him.

Jackson waved her off and didn’t stop. There was nothing left to be said. Nothing left to be done. No place left to go.

No little girl waiting at home to hug and cuddle and kiss good night.

The tap on the toes of Jackson’s boots clacked against the tile floor of the courthouse as his long-legged strides ate up the hallway. He shunned the elevator for the stairs and descended three flights at a rapid pace, then headed for the building’s exit. In a foolish bit of positive thinking, he’d driven his SUV to the courthouse this morning. Now the sight of the safety booster seat in the back seat made him want to kick a rock into next week.

He didn’t want to go home to a quiet, empty house. He shouldn’t go to a bar. Alcohol on top of his current mood could be a dangerous combination. Somebody probably would get hurt.

He got into the car and started the engine. For a long moment he sat unmoving, staring blindly through the windshield, his hands squeezing the steering wheel so hard that it should have cracked. When his phone rang, he ignored it.

A couple of minutes later, it rang a second time. Again, he ignored it. When it happened a third time, he finally glanced at the display to see who was calling. His cousin. Okay, maybe he would answer it.

“Hello, Boone.”

“How did the hearing go?”

Jackson couldn’t speak past the lump in his throat, so he said nothing.

Following a moment’s silence, Boone got the message. He muttered a curse, and then said, “I’m sorry, man. So damn sorry.”

“Well, it is what it is.”

“You can take another run at it.”

“Yeah.” In three years. Three years. Might as well be three decades. He cleared his throat and changed the subject. “So, how are things in Eternity Springs?”

“Good. They’re good. My friend Celeste Blessing visited my office a few minutes ago and spoke of her granite-headed cousin. Naturally, I thought of you.”

“Naturally,” Jackson dryly replied. But he felt a little less alone.

“Do you have plans this weekend? I could use your help with something.”

Pretty convenient timing. Knowing Boone, he had a spy in the courtroom. But Jackson wasn’t in the position to ignore the bone he’d been thrown. “I’m free. Whatcha got?”

“I’d like you to meet me at home.”

Jackson straightened in surprise. “You’re going back to the ranch?”

“No. Not there. I’m never going back there. However, I am talking about Texas. The Hill Country in particular. A little town west of Austin called Redemption.”

“Redemption, Texas?” Jackson repeated. For some weird reason, his heart gave a little skip. “Why there?”

“It’s a long story. Too long for a phone call. I’ll give you the entire skinny when I see you. When can you get there?”

After today’s debacle, Jackson had absolutely no reason to remain in Nashville. “When do you want me there?”

“I’ll be in later today. I’m in Austin now. I’ve been helping a friend with a project. I have a flight back to Colorado Sunday evening. The earlier you can get here the better, but I’ll make anything work.”

Jackson figured the distance and the drive time. “I’ll meet you tomorrow afternoon. Where?”

“Great. I’ll text you the info when we hang up. Bring camping gear.”

When a sound behind him had Jackson glancing up into the rearview mirror and the booster seat caught his notice, he made an instant decision. “Can’t. I’ll be on my bike.”

“You’re gonna ride your motorcycle all the way from Nashville?”

“Yes, I think I am.”

“Okay. I’ll bring stuff for both of us.” Boone hesitated a moment and added, “Hang in there,

Jackson. It’ll get better.”

No, I don’t think it will. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Jackson ended the call and finally put his SUV in gear and backed out of the parking place. With the distraction of the call behind him, fury returned, and by the time he reached home, he felt like a volcano about to explode.

He threw a handful of things into his tail bag, filled his wallet with cash from his stash, and ten minutes after his arrival, he fired up his bike and took his broken heart and headed out of Nashville. He left behind his home, his work, and his one reason for living, his six-year-old daughter, Haley.

From Jackson. Copyright © 2019 by Emily March and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

Emily March Q & A 

  1. You wrote a book! That’s pretty awesome. Why don’t you tell us a bit about what inspired Jackson and the rest of the books in the Eternity Springs world?

The saying “Write what you know” says it all in my case. I’m a small-town girl and my family and friendships are center to my world. I write about love and family and friendships. I have roots in both the Colorado Rockies and the Texas Hill Country, so it was natural for me to set Eternity Springs and Redemption there. The idea for JACKSON grew out of my interest in the music currently being written and performed in Texas. I’ve always thought singer/songwriters are romantic figures so I was excited to create a hero with this background. Unfortunately, I’m not a musician and I’m definitely not a singer, but I am creative so it was fun for me to explore that aspect of a character.

  1. Introduce us to your main character!

Okay. Well, Americana singer/songwriter Jackson McBride is a bit damaged when the book begins. His famous, talented and wealthy ex has won a custody battle that severely limits his access to his six-year-old daughter, so Jackson goes home to the Texas Hill Country to nurse his broken heart. He finds solace in Enchanted Canyon hiking the trails with the dog he rescues and working to bring a historic dance hall back to life. The last thing he expects is to find love again with a woman whose heart is as battered as his own.

  1. Walk us through a day in the life of Emily March.

Ready to be bored? Now that my daughter’s and niece’s weddings are behind me—they consumed me for months—I’m boring and happy about it. I split my time between Fort Worth where we have a condo downtown in a 1930’s passenger train station and our lake house in the Texas Hill Country. I recently gave up my office in town because I’m spending more and more time at the lake. My husband also offices out of our condo, so on days when we are both working in town, I’ve started riding the new TexRail train that runs from our building to DFW airport. It’s quiet and comfortable and I don’t have Internet to distract me. And at $5 a day, it’s much cheaper than office rent. 🙂 When I’m at the lake I’m either working or doing yard work. My new favorite toy is my power washer.

  1. Lots of aspiring authors out there. Any advice for them?

I’ve always thought that one of the most important things you can do for your writing is to read. And read. And read some more. Read across genres. You absorb so much about pacing and plotting and character development when you read. Plus, you get to READ! 🙂

  1. How is the Jackson trilogy different than your other series?

I don’t think it’s necessarily different from the rest of the Eternity Springs series. I write about love and family and friendship—that doesn’t change. Readers will still see old friends from Eternity Springs and a few scenes in JACKSON are set in Colorado. What’s new is we get to spend some time in the Texas Hill Country and meet a few new characters—Celeste’s cousin, Angelica, for example.

  1. I know asking someone’s all-time favorite book is a loaded question so what’s your current favorite read?

I’m a big fan of Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series and I’m reading her latest right now, STORM CURSED.

  1. Alright, the ultimate question: why should we read your book?

My goals as a writer are to touch a reader’s heart, to entertain her and make her laugh, to maybe cry a little and sigh with satisfaction upon reaching the end. With JACKSON, I believe I’ve achieved those goals.

  1. Describe yourself in 3 words.

Family. Family. Family. 🙂

  1. What is your most embarrassing memory?

Walking out of the junior high school cafeteria in seventh grade, not realizing that my very short dress—it was the 70’s—had gotten hung up in my underwear and I inadvertently flashed my rear end to the entire cafeteria—including the tables where the football players sat. Thinking about it even today gives me the hives.

  1. Favorite quote or scene you wrote in JACKSON?

I love the ending.  Jackson is a songwriter who has lost his music and when he finds it again…the song he sings to Caroline…just makes me melt.

  1. What is one piece of advice you would tell everyone?

Call your mother.

  1. What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve always loved to read, so that is part of it, but my father was my primary inspiration. He was a fabulous storyteller. I grew up sitting at his feet and listening to him tell stories about his youth and his experiences in Europe during World War II. Listening to him tell his stories was my favorite thing to do. I didn’t inherit his talent for verbal storytelling, but I think I learned from him how to tell a good story on the page.

  1. Do you have any interesting writing quirks or habits?

Like I mentioned before, I’m pretty boring. My perks and habits are always evolving. The train writing thing is new for me. I usually write on a laptop and edit on a desktop. I listen to movie soundtracks when I write and always finish a book with The Last of the Mohicans.

  1. What has been one of the most surprising things you’ve learned as a published author

I’m always a little surprised and honored that readers are excited to meet me. Like I said…I’m a boring person.

  1. What is your favorite state to visit?

Colorado, of course, because I must keep returning to Eternity Springs. 🙂

What are hobbies or interests do you have?

We are lake people, so I love waterskiing and boating and fishing. As I write this we’ve just finished Memorial Day weekend at the lake, so I sort of feel like chief cook and sheet-and-towel washer, too. I love, love, love hosting big holiday gatherings of family and friends at the lake house, but I will admit I do tire of the mountain of laundry in the aftermath.

  1. Can you tell us about what’s coming up next after this for you writing wise?

I’m writing Tucker’s story. Fun fact for this—as part of my research I attended a survivalist training school for a weekend. I searched long and hard to find one where I could return to town to spend the night in a comfy hotel rather than sleep on the ground—I’m only willing to go so far for my art. I did learn to start a friction fire, though, something I’me VERY proud of. 🙂

  1. How can readers connect with you online?

My website is www.emilymarch.com. I’m active on Facebook. My Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/emilymarchbooks. You can also reach me by email at emily@emilymarch.com.

Author Bio:

Emily March is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the heartwarming Eternity Springs series. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeño relish has made her a tailgating legend.

Review: Once Upon a Bad Boy (Sometimes in Love #3) by Melonie Johnson

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

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

MY REVIEW

Once Upon a Bad Boy is the third book in the Sometimes in Love Series and it follows the story of Sadie & Bo. All Sadie ever wanted was to be an actress. So, when she wins the role of a lifetime, she is over the moon and is excited about the direction her life is about to take….that is until she is brought face to face with the one man who’s always owned her heart. Their upbringings tore them apart, but their love has never been forgotten. Their future is brighter than ever before, and maybe, just maybe it might be time to put the past behind them. What will happen when the truth comes out and secrets come to light? Will these two have the strength to fight for what they want?? There’s only one way to find out…..

Overall, I thought this book was an ok read. I am a sucker for those second chance romances and can never really get enough of them. I thought this book started off really well and gave us a good look at who Sadie & Bo are. Sadie is full of sass, a loyal friend and has an incredibly big heart. But, underneath all of that, she has imperfections and insecurities like the rest of us and I think those qualities made her easy to relate to. And then we have Bo, with his good looks and charm. He is fierce, yet vulnerable when he needs to be. He’s worked hard to overcome his past and now that Sadie is back into his life, he can’t help but go after the girl that has always owned his heart.

Bo & Sadie fell hard and fast and I loved that their journey wasn’t always hearts and flowers. Sadie and Bo came from two different worlds, but the chemistry between them was undeniable. Neither one of them was perfect and Bo, especially had some growing up to do. But, I really did enjoy watching them try to figure things out and see if their love is the long-lasting kind.

I did have a few issues with this book though. The biggest one being the pacing of this story. I felt like the story started off really well, but then after the first quarter of the book, the pacing just died. It felt like the story was taking forever to progress. I found myself getting distracted at times and had to really force myself to stay on task. I will say though that the pacing does pick up about the last quarter of the book, which was great. I don’t know what happened with the pacing of the middle of the story though….The other thing that had me scratching my head was the inconsistency with the important details, especially in regards to Bo and his heritage. A few things did not make sense to me and left me wondering if maybe these details were supposed to be changed and they were just overlooked?? I’m not really sure, but sometimes those little things really stick out.

As I previously stated, I thought Once Upon a Bad Boy was an ok read. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. There were a lot of good moments with family, friends and familiar faces. This story had the right mix of sweet and sexy. I think this author has a lot of great potential and I do look forward to checking out more from her in the future.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book via the publisher & NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review*

Blog Tour with Review: Maybe Ever After by Cassie Graham

Maybe it’ll never happen, or maybe they’ll get their ever after all in MAYBE EVER AFTER by Cassie Graham. Brynn Darling has been in love with her best friend, Easton Cole, for a while now, but after many failed attempts at finding love, she’s ready to move on. When Brynn begins seeing a guy who threatens everything Easton’s ever wanted, all bets are off. Fans of playful, friends-to-lovers romance will devour this angsty yet nerdy story about what happens when you fall in love with your best friend.

Title: Maybe Ever After

Author: Cassie Graham

Release Date: January 18, 2019

Publisher: Self-published

Genres: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

No one tells you what happens when you fall in love with your best friend.

They don’t tell you it’s like waiting for the answer to a question no one can hear you ask.

Meet Brynn Darling. Successful event coordinator. Celebrity friends. At the top of her game. But after many failed attempts at finding love, and a realization that her best friend is clueless, she’s ready to move on.

Easton Cole has been in the friend zone since . . . well, forever. He fills the void with unimportant people and never gets attached. That is until Brynn begins seeing a guy who threatens everything he’s ever wanted.

All bets are off.

Maybe it’ll never happen.

Maybe she’ll fall in love.

Maybe they’ll get their ever after . . . after all.

Add to Goodreads http://bit.ly/2OIx8du

Available on Amazon and FREE in Kindle Unlimited.

MY REVIEW

“I looked up from our joined hands. Suddenly, I felt like his hand was giving me breath. Like, perhaps, if he let go, I’d keel over and dies, deprived of the oxygen needed to survive.”

“We, as humans, have limited time on this planet, spending moments full of resentment and sadness was a waste.”

I am a huge sucker for friends to lovers romances and once I read the synopsis for Maybe Ever After, I just knew I had to check it out. I mean, it sounded like it was going to check off all my boxes.

Maybe Ever After had a really promising start. Once again, I must tell you that friends to lovers romances are my jam. I just love them. There’s just something about the angst and drama that follows when one character has been secretly pinning away for the other. I just can’t get enough. After reading the first chapter, I was hooked. I wanted to see what had happened to Brynn and Easton; how did they get the point they were at in that first chapter?? Brynn was adorably cute and totally clueless. She was the definition of a nerd and the kind of girl I’d be happy to call my friend. But, when it comes to men, she is totally clueless!! And then there is Easton. He hasn’t had the best life and doesn’t believe in relationships or letting anyone get close. He feels like he’s been friend zoned by Brynn, but it turns out he’s just as clueless as she is. By the time Easton clues in to his and Byrnn’s feelings, it looks like it will be too late. All bets are off in the game of love and it was a lot of fun watching these two figure things out.

I thought this book was an ok read. I loved watching Brynn and Easton stumble through and try to figure things out. I will say that the two of them made me a little crazy. Many, many times, I wanted to shake both of them. I didn’t agree with most of Brynn’s actions. In fact, a lot of them left me feeling very conflicted. On the one hand, I appreciated how open she was about things and never really lead anyone on, but at the same time, her actions would leave me shaking my head. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. My only other issue was the end of the story. I felt like the last 20 or so % was rushed. I wanted more from our characters than what we got and I felt slightly disappointed with how quickly it all wrapped up.

Overall, this book was kind of hit and miss for me. It was written well and I did enjoy the characters. I thought the setting was fun and unique. I loved the idea of the book, but in the end, I was just left wanting more. This is my first book by this author and even though it wasn’t a 100% hit for me, I’m still glad I checked it out and would be open to checking out another book of hers in the future.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*

 

Excerpt

Copyright © 2018 Cassie Graham

 

Real moments were scarce.

Wait, let me rephrase. Important moments were scarce. You know the ones. The ones that defined your life and shaped you into who you were always meant to be. Or who you always wanted to be.

That was the beauty of rarity. It forces you to look at your life from new angles – makes you appreciate the struggle you’ve endured before.

As I caught my breath, the delicious heaviness of Easton on me, I knew I was having one of those rare moments that would forever influence my life.

Easton pushed my hair back, his touch featherlight. I couldn’t understand how he could be so forceful – so strong – one minute, taking everything he could, and then so soft the next. Easton Cole was an enigma and I desperately wanted to know more.

“My sweet Brynn,” he whispered in my ear, again and it sent shivers through my body.

was his.

When he looked at me like that . . . I couldn’t breathe.

He settled between my legs and I hummed with contentment, happy to have him close, comfortable enough to never let him leave.

The alarm on his phone began to ring and our reality smacked me in the face. “What happens next?” I asked in a small voice, feeling even smaller. I didn’t want to leave this room. I didn’t want to pop our bubble. I liked it.

Easton reached for his phone and silenced it. “We go home.”

I blinked, unable to say anything. He didn’t answer my question. Not really. His response was far too literal for my taste, but what was I to do?

So, instead, I kept quiet, watching the sun pour into our room, Easton’s skin turning a beautiful bronze color.

After a while, we broke apart, each of us getting dressed in silence. He stole sweet glances as I piled my hair onto my head and I snuck a few peaks as he brushed and styled his hair in front of the mirror.

Euphoric and sad, I teetered on the brink of begging him to stay here forever. I had no idea what kind of future we faced on the other side of the hotel door.

But my mother’s words rang in my ears, reminding me to take it slow.

Live in the moment, darlin’ girl. Don’t forget to exist in the present while you’re waiting for the future.

Once our things were packed and ready to go, I took a moment to look around the room – our safe haven where so many truths were shared.

I’d forever remember this hotel and the way the room smelled. The way the sheets felt against my skin and the sounds Easton made in my ear as we made love.

I’d remember all of it.

But what I’ll remember most is the way Easton looked at me and the way he made me feel without using any words at all.

Enter to win a $15 Amazon gift card plus five will win a Cassie Graham backlist eBook!

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About Cassie:

A Moscato aficionado, and chocolate mistress, Cassie Graham is a born and raised Arizona girl. Her sass knows no bounds and almost always has something kind to say, no matter the situation. She runs a platform of love and strives to bring those attributes out in every book she writes.

She started writing early in her high school career after an English teacher forced her to write in a journal. Four years and thirty-something notebooks full of words later, she found her passion. If Cassie isn’t shoulder-deep in writing a version of a fairytale, you can find her front porch sitting with her husband and daughter, eating all the bread, gossiping with her best friends, visiting Disneyland, supporting strong women, listening to cheesy music and reading great books by amazing people. She loves binge-watching Supernatural, drooling over Dean, Sam and Cas, and going to conventions. She also enjoys spreading love any chance she can. So, if you run into her, give her a hug or a high-five. She guarantees they’re magic.

Author of Unable to Resist, Anyone But Him, The Truth of a Liar, Enchanting Wilder, Surviving Wilder, Who Needs Air and The Girl Behind the Red Door.

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Review: IN DOG WE TRUST by Beth Kendrick

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From the author of Once Upon a Wine, a new novel set in the charming seashore town of Black Dog Bay, Delaware.

When everything has gone to the dogs . . .

When Jocelyn Hillier is named legal guardian for the late Mr. Allardyce’s pack of pedigreed Labrador retrievers, her world is flipped upside down. She’s spent her entire life toiling in the tourism industry in Black Dog Bay and never expected to be living the pampered life of a seasonal resident in an ocean side mansion, complete with a generous stipend. But her new role isn’t without its challenges: The dogs (although lovable) are more high-maintenance than any Hollywood diva, the man she wants to marry breaks her heart, and she’s confronted at every turn by her late benefactor’s estranged son, Liam, who thinks he’s entitled to the inheritance left to the dogs.

Jocelyn has worked too hard to back down without a fight, and she’s determined to keep her new fur family together. As she strives to uphold the “Best in Show” standards her pack requires, Jocelyn finds love, family, and forgiveness in the most unexpected places.


My Review

Overall, I thought this book was an ok read. When I first read the synopsis for this book, I was totally intrigued. The story-line sounded really unique and refreshing. I loved the idea of the eccentric, rich pet owner leaving his fortune to his pets and was intrigued by how much this situation would change Jocelyn’s life.

For the most part, I liked the story. I thought it started out really well and had a great pace to it. I loved the friendship between Jocelyn & Bree. Their bond was very sister like and I couldn’t wait to see what kind of trouble they would get in to. I loved the addition of Liam to the story-line. He added some great drama to the story and really challenged Jocelyn. I thought their relationship had a lot of potential in the beginning. Jocelyn & Liam had some great chemistry and I enjoyed their banter. They definitely had the whole hate to love vibe going on. However, I felt like even though their relationship was supposed to progress and be romantic, it never got there for me. As the story progressed, I never really felt the romance between them. Honestly, it felt more platonic to me. Don’t get me wrong. I did enjoy them and thought they had a great friendship, but their romance just didn’t work for me.

I did have a few issues with this book. I loved the pacing in the beginning, but somewhere along the 60% mark, the story started to drag. It felt like the story was taking forever to move on, and not a whole lot was happening. Also, I felt like there was a lot and I mean a lot going on in this book. So much that there still feels like a lot of the book was left unresolved. And the lawsuits….there was just too many of them. It just felt very over the top to me.

In Dog We Trust was a cute and lighthearted read. The characters were fun and the story-line was unique. There were some parts of the book that left me wanting more, but I still had a good time getting lost in Jocelyn’s story. Even though this book wasn’t a 100% hit for me, I’m still glad to have checked it out.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Review: The Memory of You by Jamie Beck

Stefanie Lockwood can repair anything, except her heart—that’s still recovering.

After a brutal assault leaves Steffi with puzzling memory lapses, she returns to her coastal Connecticut hometown to rebuild her life the best way she knows how: with her hands. But starting a remodeling business with one longtime friend puts her in the middle of a rift with another. Worse, being hired by her ex-boyfriend’s mother forces her to confront old regrets.

Public defender Ryan Quinn wasn’t shocked when his wife left him, but he was floored when she abandoned their daughter. With his finances up in the air, the newly single dad returns to his childhood home in Sanctuary Sound. The last person he expects, or wants, to see working on his family house is Steffi Lockwood—his first love who shattered his heart.

Although Steffi and Ryan are different people now, dormant feelings rekindle. But when Ryan’s concern for Steffi’s mental health prompts him to dig into her past for answers, will what he learns bring them together or tear them apart for good?

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40006091-the-memory-of-you


My Review

“Some of us need to go far and wide before we find our way home.”

Man, this review is kinda a tough one. When I first came across this book, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the synopsis. I mean it had the whole damaged heroine/second chance romance vibe going for it, so I had to give it a try….

The Memory of You follows the story of Steffi and Ryan and is told from dual points of view. When I started reading this book, I was definitely intrigued. Ryan and Steffi still had intense chemistry despite the years and pain between them. Neither Ryan or Steffi are the same as they used to be. Ryan hasn’t been able to forget the pain of losing Steffi when they were younger and now he is going through a separation and has other responsibilities to worry about. And Steffi….well, lets just say Steffi was very immature when she was with Ryan. She didn’t communicate well and really just devastated him. She never really got over Ryan and the feelings are clearly still there. Steffi also has a lot on her plate. She has a new business with her bestie and still reels from an attack she suffered years prior. This story had a lot going on, but I thought it had some good potential and was excited to see where it would go.

The Memory of You is one of those books that you love and hate at the same time. For the most part I really enjoyed this book. I loved the redevelopment of Ryan and Steffi’s relationship. They took things slow and tried to work on their issues. I enjoyed watching them find their way back to one another and learn to forgive & trust again. I also really enjoyed Ryan’s daughter Emmy. She so sweet and added a cuteness to the story that it really needed. Sure Emmy wasn’t always the perfect kid, but she was just what I would expect from a little girl who had her world turned upside down.

However, there were definitely some issues with this story. I love stubborn characters. I do. I know most people wouldn’t say that, but I do. But with Steffi, she was just way too over the top. I mean at times her stubbornness made me feel like she was a child. She just refused to listen to any logic and it made me annoyed with her. If she were a real person, I would have totally shook her and tried to knock some sense into her; that’s how crazy she made me. Also, I felt like she was really pushy with her friends and was the last person who should be doling out advice since she never listened to any of the advice that was given to her.

The next thing I need to address is the pacing and dialogue. While I appreciated the slow build and anticipation of Ryan & Steffi’s relationship, it was just too slow. I mean, it felt like things were just progressing at snail’s pace. Yes, I know there are reasons for some of the slowness, but there comes a point when enough is enough and the pacing has got to pick up. Please don’t get me wrong, when done right I totally LOVE a slow burn, but I need to feel like the story is moving/going somewhere. And that just could be me, but I felt it was worth mentioning. As far as the dialogue goes, again for the most part it was fine. However, there were some instances where it felt repetitive.

So, overall, I do think this will be a book that is a hit for some and a miss for others. For me, it was just ok. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. I will say that The Memory of You does deal with some heavy subject matter and I do appreciate the way the author dealt with it. This story sends of strong message of healing and forgiveness. The characters are not perfect, but I think that made them more relateable. While this book wasn’t a total hit for me, I’m still glad that I checked it out and gave it a chance.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review*