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Book Review – An Imaginary House by the Sea (Bridgeport #1) by Cecily Gates

Kindly received from author in return for an honest review

“Love is a messy thing. That hopelessly devoted, deep-in-your-bones kind of love we used to dream about when we were kids—it turns out that it’s hard. It aches. It takes time. Like a house that weathers the ages, it must be built, brick by brick.”

Snarky and ambitious Dawn Campbell almost had it all: a job producing lavish celebrity events, a hip downtown apartment, and a studmuffin of a boyfriend. But after losing all three in one fell swoop, Dawn finds herself resorting to the unimaginable: returning home to Bridgeport, an oceanside town where the air smells sweet but not much happens.

When a chance encounter brings her into the sturdy arms of John Brown, her childhood best friend, old feelings come rushing back. As the sparks fly, life finally starts to look up for Dawn…until she meets his wife.

Marguerite Brown has everything that Dawn doesn’t: a killer fashion sense, a breathtaking beauty, and a French accent—oh, and the kind of temperament that makes great white sharks seem docile in comparison. Determined to release John from an unhappy marriage, Dawn turns on the charm and makes a plan to finally win back her one-that-got-away.

But after Dawn stumbles upon a secret that, up until now, Marguerite has meticulously kept hidden, the two women are thrust into an unexpected friendship. An Imaginary House by the Sea follows Dawn’s journey towards self-rediscovery, finding purpose, and building a more complex, steadfast kind of love than she could have ever imagined.


I have to admit. Dawn and I definitely did not see eye to eye in a lot of instances in this story. She came into the story shallow and self-absorbed, maybe a little wishy-washy. As many times as I was impressed with her snarky remarks and self-preservation skills, I was also shaking my head and eye rolling her. However, that’s how she came into the story. Part way through the book I found myself seeing more and more glimpses of a different Dawn. By the end of the book I had decided that actually, I really loved Dawn, she had grown into someone I really connected with, someone who I fervently wanted everything good for and I ended up really respecting this woman who was brave enough to take stock of her shortcomings and make a change.

At the heart of this book is the development and growth of a woman who was lost in life without even knowing it, she thought she had everything she ever wanted. This is not a story where a boy comes along and suddenly everything is complete and perfect, this is no fairy-tale. It is a story full of heart and heartbreak. This book had me in tears more than once. It had my heart and my mind tied up in knots. I felt torn between what I wanted for the characters and it reminded me that the universe is completely and utterly unfair… And apparently it has no sense of timing either.

One part that I absolutely LOVED in this book, which sometimes can be more a miss than a hit, was the use of flashbacks. You can’t tell a story like this without delving into the past and I loved how we watched Dawn and John together as awkward teenagers, stolen moments that were peppered into the current day story-telling at just the right time. These flashbacks really added depth to their chemistry and connection, highlighting all of the change between them, yet at the same time affirming everything that had stayed the same.

I loved that I read a book where I connected to the supporting characters in the way I did here. John’s wife Marguerite definitely deserves a special mention. Her story really made the book for me. It was carefully and beautifully written, approached in a way that showed there was so much more to this character than her situation and it was thanks to this, that my heart was split in so many different directions.

This is one of those books that will have you questioning your perceptions of people and possibly even that blurry line between what is right in the perfect world vs. what happens in the reality of the world. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spoken about the emotional toll this book takes but there is a lot to celebrate and be positive within it as well. Happily ever afters are so much sweeter after an emotional roller coaster aren’t they! So no, it’s not a doom and gloom read, but I love books that make me feel and this definitely had me feeling every emotion possible. This is absolutely a book that is well worth reading and I’m looking forward to following the series on.


  photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin ccphoto credit: Nick Kenrick.. via photopin cc

Blog Tour & Book Reviews for the Love In The City series by Steph Nuss

Both books received in return for an honest review

Wanted by You (Book 1 Love in the City series)

The prologue for this story had me completely captured from the start. I could tell that this wasn’t going to be any standard NA romance.  The difference being, that Carter & Ellyson’s love story turns out to be years in the making. The basis of a great relationship is an amazing friendship and these two characters definitely have that in spades. From the first time they saw each other at college it was obvious that there was only going to be one way that this story was going to end. I LOVED that I wasn’t left hanging for too long, family responsibilities and life had gradually eased the two of them apart but once we were deposited into the current day it didn’t take too long for Carter and Elly to reacquaint themselves with each other…

And from here it was it was clear. There was no more game playing. There was no more pretending to ‘just’ be friends. If anything was meant to be than this was it. The author had a perfect balance of chemistry building without sending me completely over the edge with impatience, something that’s not always achieved. But don’t for a second think that it’s all going to be smooth sailing for this gorgeous couple just because we were in the thick of a romance from early on. There is always drama in these types of books, this book is no different. But this drama you won’t expect, we aren’t talking run-of-the-mill every day romance issues. I felt the twists and turns in this book really helped create a beautiful story of more than just lust and romance, it created a story of a deeper love, of real life and real feelings.

What of course made sure that this story tugged at my heart were the characters. Carter and Ellyson were as good as I could’ve hoped for. We’re not talking about a naive, good girl and a womanizing alpha male. We’re talking about two humans, flaws and all. Carter ticked all of my boxes for book boyfriend material. Sweet, but not a pushover. Manly in all the best ways and worst ways without being an asshole. Elly also was a firm fave. This girl had brains! She was fun and genuine. She was probably more the realist of the two, but one of them had to be and with her background story it made sense. She didn’t have me eye-rolling with ridiculous meltdowns, or insecurities. She, just like Carter, was realistic and it made me a team Carter & Elly cheerleader all the way.

This read was totally and completely enjoyable. I couldn’t put the book down and read it in an afternoon. The heat, the storyline, the characters…. They all created a story that is more than ‘just’ a romance. If you are wanting to curl up and escape, then this is most definitely your book, set aside some chocolate and a comfy chair and be prepared to fall in love.

Fantasized By You (Book 2 Love in the City series)

What I’m loving about this series is that we aren’t trying to drag out a story and create drama for just one couple. I see far too many of those types of series around and both my fellow blogger Kristal and I aren’t particularly fans, but this way of approaching a romance series is one I can totally get on-board with! Each one of these books focuses on a separate couple and their love story, while keeping all of the characters involved throughout. So book 1 we had Carter and Elly and in this book, we have Maverick and Harper. If you’ve read book 1 then you’ll know Maverick as Elly’s faux brother / oldest friend and Harper as Carter’s sister and I am SO happy that they have ended up with their own love story!!!

Harper and Maverick have a mutual connection, a mutual tragedy that still affects both of them today and in turn their relationship with each other. Yes we get romance, we get two people who so definitely should be together. But we also get to tackle some very real storylines, again my heart was all over the place and I LOVED it.

We were introduced to these characters in the first book and I loved delving deeper into their stories and personalities. What really struck me is that each one of these characters vividly has their own ‘voice’ you never feel like you’re reading about the same person with a different name. While so far Carter and Elly are still my favourites I still loved the way that both Maverick and Harper were written. Actually, Maverick isn’t too far behind Carter on my book boyfriend list. I can see why Elly has been friends with him for so long, he’s almost the perfect guy!

Once again in this series we are reminded that this author tackles romance in a certain way. It’s unique and I love that I’m still as excited about this series as I was when I was reading the first book, I will definitely continue reading these books and can’t wait to see where each character ends up. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… If you’re a romance lover you really need to give these books a go!

Book One – Wanted By


Carter was captivated by Ellyson Evans the

moment he laid eyes on her,

but she was the one girl who didn’t beg for his


He wanted her.

Ellyson vowed to never fall in love, because

love can destroy you,

but then she met Carter


She wanted him.

Unwilling to risk their comfortable friendship,

neither confessed their desires.

Losing touch after college, a chance meeting

reconnects them.

They want each other.

But love in the city is never quite that


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Pinterest Board for Wanted By You:

Book Two –   Fantasized By


Celebrity fashion designer, Harper Jennings is only months away

from turning thirty, and her dream of living a happily ever after has yet to come true.

She’s given up on her


Personal trainer and gym owner, Maverick

Jones isn’t thrilled about having a designer mentoring in his new clinic, but after meeting the

brunette beauty face-to-face, he dreams of having his way with her.

He’s ready to turn his fantasy into


But when their fantasies collide, love in the

city becomes more complicated than they ever imagined.

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Fantasized By You Playlist:

Pinterest Board for Fantasized By You:

The Cast of

the Love in the City series:

Book Three – Pleasured By


Expected Release Date: January 20th,


The Love in the City series continues with Bayler and

Fletcher’s story.

Wanted By You (Love in the City, #1) (Currently Free)

Fantasized By You (Love in the City, #2)

Steph Nuss was born and raised in rural Kansas, where she currently resides

with her black Labrador son named Gunner. She grew up with a passion for reading and writing.

When she’s not immersed into the land of fiction, she enjoys listening to music that came before her

time, watching movies and reruns of her favorite shows, and hanging out with her family and friends.

She also has a bachelor’s degree in psychology that she’ll never use…unless she’s profiling her

characters of course.



Book Review – Double Dare by Penny Reid (Short story within the Shiver anthology)



I already had this anthology on my wish list when I was lucky enough to receive Double Dare to read and review from the ridiculously talented Penny Reid. Squuueeee! AND it’s a Winston brothers story! Double squueeeeeee!!! If you’ve read Beauty and the Mustache then you know who the Winston brothers are, if not then you should read up! I’m loving that Penny Reid is working on bringing us more of these 6 brothers. The first of these books Truth and Beard is out 2015 and focuses on the characters from this short story…. Duane and Jessica…

Jessica has grown up with a crush on Beau, one of the Winston twins and even now, as a grown woman she just cannot control her reaction to him. Which pretty much consists of going mute and getting close to suffering a heart attack! So when he wanders into the local Halloween party while she is dressed as sexy Gandalf (yep, sexy Gandalf!) You just know something is going to go down… Jess ends up in quite the compromising position… feeling hot flustered and then stunned when she realizes all is not what it seems.

I wanted to look away, but I physically couldn’t. He so rarely looked at me, I felt like I was falling, my surroundings fading away – everything except him and his blue, blue, blue eyes.

The chemistry in this story between Jess and Duane is electric. Honestly be prepared to self-combust. The things that man can do in such a short space of time in such a less than ideal place… it’s criminal! I’m starting to think that I’m going to have serious issues with having favourites out of the men Penny Reid writes. I’m turning into such a creeper book boyfriend hog! I’ve now added Duane to the list, and that’s after only reading this little teaser. I’m ruined!

A major reason why I’m such a fan of Penny Reid is her ability to be able to write from both POVs well. She captures the essence of each character and then focuses on the smallest details to really electrify the story between the two. I swear she is getting better and better at this. This short story was perfectly balanced with the majority from Jessica’s POV and then the ending from Duane’s… which almost killed me. Getting into his head was exactly what this story needed to push it up out of this world. I loved this story, and I’m seriously, SERIOUSLY going to have life issues waiting to see what happens next with Duane and Jess…

I was always running after her, but this time I wasn’t going to let her get away.

I’m now off to read the rest of the short stories in this anthology. I’ve popped the link on here so when you have a second please go and check it out. A great way to get a taste of a little bit of everything from a bunch of very talented authors while supporting a great cause!

SHIVER: 13 Sexy Tales of Humor and Horror

By Liv Morris, Belle Aurora, R.S. Grey, Daisy Prescott, Jodie Beau, Z.B. Heller, Penny Reid, Ruth Clampett, N.M. Silber, Ashley Pullo, L.H. Cosway, C.C. Wood, Jennie Marts

The sassy ladies of sexy Romantic Comedy serve up some spooky and spicy Halloween fun

Bewitched by Daisy Prescott

A crush. A love spell. What could go wrong?

Better The Devil You Know by Belle Aurora 

When you know, you know.

Mystery, Mazto Balls, and Moxie by Z.B. Heller

A mystery weekend gets steamy and stuffed… with food.

Spandex is for Superheros by Ruth Clampett

Beware of the terror of your Halloween costume not fitting.

A Halloween Hook-up by Jennie Marts

A sexy physic and a private eye solve a ghostly murder.

Macabre Magic by L.H. Cosway

Halloween, a bet, one spooky magic trick.

Candy, Dentures, and Way Too Much Spandex by R.S. Grey

He stole my heart in between gyrating geriatrics.

Peckers by Liv Morris

A hot cop with handcuffs and a dimpled smile can be frighteningly sexy.

One Little Bite by C.C. Wood

Even the big, bad wolf can fall in love.

Double Dare by Penny Reid

Never play truth or dare with identical twins.

Red Rum by Ashley Pullo

Trick o’ treat, a girl to meet, blood sangria wicked sweet.

Lights Out by Jodie Beau

A single mom, a single dad, a common enemy. Will their feelings come to light on Halloween?

Nightmare in Night Court by N.M. Silber 
When lusty lawyers meet creepy criminals.

100% of the proceeds go to St. Jude’s Children’s hospital!

 photo credit: Anne Bennett via photopin cc

Book Review – Sweet Addiction by J. Daniels

Wedding hookups never amount to anything.

Those who partake in this wicked little activity know the rules. Get in. Get laid. Get out. There’s no expectation of a relationship. It is what it is.

Dylan Sparks knows the rules. She’s familiar with the protocol. And she engages in the best sex of her life with a complete stranger at her ex-boyfriend’s wedding.

Reese Carroll doesn’t care about the rules. He wants more than just one night with Dylan. And he’s too addicting to pass up.

Sweet Addiction is the story of one girl’s struggle to keep things casual, and one boy’s desire to never let her go.

I figured I couldn’t go to wrong with a book whose main character owns a bakery. Anyone who can whip up baked goods like that has to be someone I want to read about! Did I mention SHE LIVES ABOVE HER BAKERY!?! Now I don’t know about you guys, but that right there is a fantasy of mine. Delish. Now, ahem, since we’re on the subject of fantasies… Have I mentioned Reese Carroll yet? More to the point, have I mentioned Reese Carroll AND baked goods AND smutty acts in the same sentence yet? Yep that whole situation is a thing people… it’s actually a thing….

So, if you hadn’t already guessed, Reese Carroll will definitely make your book boyfriend list. There’s literally no doubt about that. This guy… This guy is EVERYTHING. Sex on a stick. Literally a beautiful, super intelligent, super swoon-worthy stick of sex. He will turn you inside out with his perfect gorgeous hotness. No run of the mill alpha-male here. How Dylan didn’t, from the second she fell into his lap, refuse to ever get off him I will never know. She is a much stronger woman than I! But then again, she really was just looking for ‘slutty wedding sex’ so how was she to know that by hoping for a moment of outrageousness, she’d end up entwined with a force of nature such as Reese.

Dylan is pretty awesome herself actually. I loved how I was reading about a strong, self sufficient, hilarious, feisty WOMAN. She was no virginal angel (Ok yes, her vocabulary was more risque than her past sex life had actually been, but still.) Neither was she sitting around with a major lack of self esteem, waiting for some guy to make her feel better. Nope, she was out doing her thing, living life and it was this fact, which made sure that this story completely captured my attention. Yes, she sometimes probably needed to put her big-girl knickers on and sort her sh*t out, but truthfully, when haven’t we all acted like that? Just because we are grown-ass independent women it doesn’t mean once and a while we take a wrong turn somewhere, or can be so stubborn that it’s infuriating. Plus it made for great drama!

The story had me turning pages like an insane person from the get-go. I’ve read plenty of books along the same lines as this one, but this book had Dylan and Reese. I really connected with them and it was these two that made this story really stand out from the rest, I honestly spent half the book wetting myself with laughter and the other half swooning with everything in my body (oh and maybe a fraction of time spent on wanting to smack both of their heads together!) This has to be, so far this year one of my favourite unexpected book loves. A perfect treat of a story for when you just want to lay in the sun and read something and be thoroughly entertained (and maybe have fantasies of replacing Dylan with yourself… Ahem…) There’s a sequel coming out at the end of this month and I for one, will definitely be setting aside a sunny weekend to check it out.

Sweet Addiction

By J. Daniels

 photo credit: sea turtle via photopin cc

Book Review – Beauty and the Mustache (Knitting in the City #4) by Penny Reid

This book was received from the Author in return for an honest review




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Welcome to my current obsession!!! I’m a relative newcomer to Penny Reid fandom, but from the very first book of hers I read (Neanderthal Seeks Human) I was obsessed… Every new story I read of hers I am SURE that there’s no way she could possibly top it… no way I could love anything more than what I just read. Turns out, I should know better by now.

Former beauty queen, Ashley Winston’s preferred coping strategy is escapism. She escaped her Tennessee small town, loathsome father, and six brothers eight years ago. Now she escapes life daily via her Amazon kindle one-click addiction. However, when a family tragedy forces her to return home, Ashley can’t escape the notice of Drew Runous— local Game Warden, bear wrestler, philosopher, and everyone’s favorite guy. Drew’s irksome philosophizing in particular makes Ashley want to run for the skyscrapers, especially since he can’t seem to keep his exasperating opinions— or his soulful poetry, steadfast support, and delightful hands— to himself. Pretty soon the girl who wanted nothing more than the escape of the big city finds she’s lost her heart in small town Tennessee.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect with this one. I had seen it be posted that this book was ‘different’ to her other ones, then I saw readers posting that they were crying over it and I was really starting to wonder what I was getting myself into! Turns out, that yes, this book is different, yes I did cry, but yes, in actual fact, this book is my absolute favourite of this series to date. Penny Reid doesn’t just write one type of story, or one type of character, she doesn’t even write with just one type of formula, this book proves that without a doubt.

Yes, I was a creeper, but I didn’t care. Drew brought these compulsions out in me, so he could just suffer through my leering and take it like a man.

The story of Ashley and Drew is, to put it as simply as it can get, beautiful. There is still quirky laugh out-loud humour; there are also still the one million and one things that I stop to search Google/Wikipedia about. (In this case it was mostly Nietzsche) But there is no argument that this book is all about heart, about the swoon-worthy romance, the poetry and the butterflies in my stomach that just would not quit. I’ve come out of this book with ridiculously high romantic ambitions. It’s a problem.

Meanwhile, there was a wild boar of need within me; one that he’d awakened with his quick silver eyes, poetic words, velvet baritone, heroic deeds, and expertly choreographed kisses. He’d left me to drown in want.

The situation that Ashley is in is impossible. This background, this reason why she has returned home really makes what could’ve been a relatively simple ‘girl meets boy’ situation into something which has so many layers of emotions, improbabilities and impossibilities and while this meant that I spent a great deal of time trying to not sit there and sob, it did mean that we got to explore this romance from the perfect imperfections of the universe’s timing… because as we all know, when has the universe EVER timed things to be easy. Ashley as a character is sweet and sassy all at the same time. Sometimes she definitely underestimates herself. She is loyal and it has to be said, she can be very, very stubborn. Watching her work through everything that had encouraged her to leave her small town and everything that encouraged her to return was truly like watching a friend, because that’s what she became. Oh and how awesome was it to get to see the rest of the knitting group! Honestly those girls (and men) just inject so much inappropriate fun into whatever situation they’re in; their appearance was always a nice distraction from the reality of what Ashley had to deal with.

“Tell me what you need.” He said between raining soft kisses against my hair, temple and cheek. “I’ll do anything for you.”

There is no way I could attempt to review this book and not cover the menfolk. Oh my goodness the men! Drew was written like every girls fantasy should be. He was a big Viking of a man (yes, Viking! Actually make that gorgeous Viking!) But not only is he beautiful and swoon-worthy on the outside, he’s also beautiful and swoon-worthy on the inside. I swear I was close to spontaneous combustion by the end of the book. Then we have Ashley’s brothers. Her 6 brothers… While I can understand how 6 brothers could possibly drive a girl insane, I loved them. They each brought so much to the story in their own way (although the bathroom schedule is something no sister should EVER have to be aware of!) I have too many amazing moments to list, but possibly my absolute favourite moment with any of the Winston brothers was the scene where Jethro made sure that Ashley knew that he’d ‘always do what was best for her’ I won’t give away what the circumstances were around that statement but it was just perfect. Oh, and in case we are in any doubt about these brothers… here is what Penny Reid pictures them to be…

So if you already are a fan of the Knitting in the City series then I know you’ll read this and love it. If you’re not familiar with this author and/or series and are wondering what all of the fuss is about then I suggest you get reading. If you love your romance to be different from the norm then this book and this series are definitely for you.

The Warrior Queen (The Guinevere Trilogy) by Lavinia Collins

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This book was received from the Author in return for an honest review

A sumptuous romance based around the life of Guinevere and Arthur’s Court.

Never before has the magical world of Queen Guinevere, King Arthur and Lancelot and the knights of the Round Table been so deeply explored than in this warming saga of passion, duty and infidelity. Drawing on a rich seam of historical sources Lavinia Collins has created a fictional masterpiece, and epic romance that will stand the test of time.

The Warrior Queen is the first full novel length instalment of the Guinevere Trilogy. A Champion’s Duty and The Day of Destiny will be released by Spring, 2014.

I wasn’t too sure what this book was going to be like. Everyone has heard of Guinevere, Arthur, Lancelot and Merlin. Everyone has read, heard or seen a story about them at one point or another. My husband is SUPER into the story of these characters; he’s seen the movies, read the books. He knows the story in many of its incantations. So he gave me a refresher course on all things Camelot, and off I dove into the book.

I was pleasantly surprised! This was no regurgitation of the standard Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot story. Every time I’d put the book down and update my husband on what was happening in the story, he was genuinely interested in the direction the book was taking and it was actually really really nice to be able to discuss a book with him as in depth as we discussed this. He’s not always so interested in my reading material! It also just goes to show that for this book, it doesn’t matter whether you have a passing knowledge in the subject like I did, or a much more in-depth knowledge like the husband does, the story captures you either way.

The story is told through Guinevere’s eyes. It focuses on her journey and tribulations as we follow her from her homeland, through to Arthur’s court, onto the battlefield and back into the sticky politics of being King Arthur’s Queen. I really enjoyed venturing through this classic story from her point of view. It did of course contain the stories of war and combat, and meetings around the round table, but it also had the details that would only come from telling the story through her eyes.

I loved that there was a decent dollop of magic type plot. Not too much that it seemed ridiculous, just enough to make it a bit dark and mystical. Another love was the chemistry, the Guinevere/Arthur/Lancelot love triangle. Serious chemistry! There were some scenes with so much of it you could almost feel it coming through the pages… When you read this you are not going be short on action (bedroom variety!) and I had no idea I’d end up feeling torn between these two men, but I did. It’s not always a sure thing to be able to write the characters with the right amount of heat and tension between them but the author has definitely hit the mark here. Her writing of these relationships makes sure that this storyline is much more deeply layered than just a simple romance.

Finally I’ve kept my favourite point for last. The world building. I could picture EVERYTHING in my head. I felt like I was there in Camelot with them. Sitting at the banquets, riding into war, the clothing, the weapons, the liaisons, the politics. The attention to detail was mind blowing. I love love love books that transport you to their world, and I was most definitely transported to Camelot. I was blown away with the descriptive writing, and it’s this descriptive writing that really has me wanting to read the next two installments, I can’t wait to follow this story to the end.

photo credit: AlicePopkorn via photopin cc