Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Blog Tour with Book Review: Defending Chloe by Susan Stoker

Defending Chloe by Susan Stoker

Publisher & Release: Montlake Romance, December 4, 2018

Time and setting:  Present Day, 

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Length:  316 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating: 5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

Gorgeous women don’t just stumble onto Ronan Cross’s remote property. But this one—vulnerable, victimized, and needing the kind of help only Ronan can offer—tells a story that makes his blood boil almost as hot as his need to protect her.
Since her father’s death, Chloe Harris has become a prisoner. Her own brother, a flesh peddler and low-level player in the Denver Mafia, is forcing her to sell her body for an endgame Chloe never saw coming: control over a vast fortune. Her only way out is to run—straight into the arms of the one hard-bodied man she can trust.
Defending Chloe could rain punishment down on the Mountain Mercenaries. Her brother has Mob connections and the local police in his pocket. But Ronan still has an edge—the unshakable loyalty of his deadly teammates. As well as an unquenchable thirst for retribution…and Chloe.

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Vikki’s Musings

Defending Chloe is an exciting romantic suspense, and I want to thank the publisher, via Net-Galley, for the opportunity to read and review Susan Stoker’s newest release. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Defending Chloe from the first page to the last. This book has all the ingredients that make romantic suspense a pleasure to read. I’ve read many books by Ms. Stoker, and for me, this is her best. The writing flows beautifully and is emotionally-charged.

Chloe’s backstory engaged me immediately. Although she had initially bowed to her brother before she realized his evil, she is determined to break away from the devious plan he has for her. She fights like a tiger when cornered. I liked her character a great well.

Ronan Cross is a great hero. He stands for justice, he believes in saving other in peril and does it in an honorable way. He is perfect for Chloe in so many ways. I truly wanted him to earn her trust and her respect.

The romance between Chloe and Ro is gentle and the sexual tension builds at the same pace as their friendship. Although they fall in love quickly, they still manage to discover what makes each of them tick. I found their romance sweet and tender. I was really glad they found their happy ending.

If you enjoy romantic suspense with good amount of suspense and a great love story, then you will love Defending Chloe. The epilogue gives the reader the set up for the next book in this outstanding series, and I can’t wait to read it. Happy reading!

Meet "Mountain Mercenary" Ronan Cross From Defending Chloe

1) Greetings Ronan, or can I just call you Ro?
Ro is fine. 2) I understand that you are part of Mountain Mercenaries, a secret group of ex-military men who save women and children from dangerous situations. Can you comment on this group?
No. As you said, it’s a secret group. 3) What about your handler Rex? He is particularly secretive.
Rex is amazing. I’ve never met him, but I don’t have to have met him to know he’s one scary bad ass dude. He knows people from all levels of law enforcement, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had the President’s phone number programmed into his phone as well. But, like anyone in this line of business, he’s got some demons. Me and my fellow Mercenaries just hope they don’t come back and bite us in the ass one day. 4) There have been some major changes within the Mercenaries lately -- especially with the introduction of Allye your teammate Gray Rogers’ significant other. How has having a civilian woman in the mix changed things? Does it make you think of anything that you may want in your future?
Allye is great. Love her. None of us had ever thought much about women…or at least having anything permanent with any specific woman, but seeing Gray with Allye makes me realize that one day I’d love to have a relationship like theirs. I want a woman who can stand up to me when I’m being a wanker but who isn’t adverse to letting me be a guy. And before you ask, what I mean is that I know myself, I’m gonna want to open her door and pay for shit. I’ll have no problem telling my woman that I love her, but I don’t want someone who will lose their shit if I track a little bit of mud in the house. Does that make sense? 5) Definitely. So what do you do for fun? You know, when you aren’t saving damsels in distress!
I’m a mechanic. I tinker with cars for fun. There’s nothing like taking in a car that won’t run, and turning it inside out to figure out what the problem is. The best feeling ever is when that beauty is driven off after I’ve given her new life. 6) And finally, tell us a bit about women in your life. Do you have a special someone?
Not yet. Although I have to tell you, I met the most intriguing woman the other day. There was just something about her that I can’t forget. Of course, there’s the little matter of figuring out who gave her the bruise she was sporting on her back and making sure she’s safe, but otherwise….

Excerpt: Defending Chloe by Susan Stoker

Chloe stared at all the clothes on the bed. Allye had arrived with a dozen bags in hand and told her she’d picked up a “few things” to tide her over.

“A few things?” Chloe asked in disbelief.

Allye laughed. “Ro said money was no object, and he wanted you to have enough things so you could have a choice of what to wear and not have to do laundry every night. I had to guess at your sizes, but I got some stuff with elastic waists just in case I was wrong in my assumptions.” Then the other woman began dumping the bags and showing off what she’d bought.

A shy smile formed as Allye’s words sank in. The thought that Ro wasn’t thinking about money, only her comfort, made Chloe feel good. Really good.

Allye smiled back as she said, “Ro doesn’t have to let you stay here, Chloe.”

“What do you mean?”

“Rex has a ton of contacts. And I mean a ton. This is what the Mountain Mercenaries do. They help get women out of bad situations. Ro could’ve asked Rex to set you up with one of the underground resources he has. You know, a safe house? You’d be just as safe there as you are here. But for some reason, Ro refused to even consider it. I know for a fact Gray suggested it. But you’re still here. He gave me his own money to get you stuff to wear. And he insisted that I find this for you.” Allye pulled out a bottle from a small bag she’d been holding.

Chloe recognized the brand of lotion she used.

“I’m going to say this only once, then I’ll never bring it up again . . . but I feel like I kind of have to.”

Chloe tensed.

“Don’t hurt him,” Allye said. “These guys . . . they’re total badasses. Professional soldiers. They can kick ass like you’d never believe. They go into situations no one else would dare. They take chances, and they’ll do whatever it takes to rescue women. I don’t know the other guys all that well yet, but I know Gray, and I have a feeling that deep down, they’re all scarred in one way or another. They’re all committed to saving women and children from the evils in the world, and there must be a deeper reason behind that than just wanting to do the right thing. And if Ro is anything like Gray, once he’s committed, he’s committed. He’ll move heaven and earth to make sure you’re happy, content, and safe. That’s how Gray is with me. I know without a doubt that Gray will never cheat on me, and he goes to great lengths to make sure I’m satisfied . . . in every way, if you know what I mean.”

Chloe stared at Allye with wide eyes as she continued.

“Ro strikes me as the same kind of man. I’m still getting to know the guys on the team, but I feel they wouldn’t be as close as they are if they didn’t have the same values and beliefs. Ro acts like the standoffish Brit more often than not, but he feels as deeply as anyone I’ve ever met. He likes you, Chloe. I was surprised when he actually left you here alone. He thought you’d bolt. Hell, thought you’d leave. But you didn’t. And that means something to Ro.

“All I’m saying is that if you’re using his help to get away from your brother, good, I don’t blame you . . . but don’t lead him on. Ask if you can go into witness protection. Or into the underground program the Mountain Mercenaries have set up. Don’t stay here and make him think there’s something between you if you don’t feel that way.”

It was a long speech from the other woman, and Chloe felt the butterflies in her stomach again. She hadn’t thought much about how Ro was feeling because she was so uncertain herself and felt so out of control. But the idea of Ro keeping her around for a personal reason was appealing. More than appealing. She thought about how he’d washed her hair, how his hands had felt on her scalp. A man who was simply rescuing yet another woman from a bad situation wouldn’t do that, would he?

Allye cleared her throat, and Chloe realized she was waiting for her to say something. “I won’t lead him on,” Chloe said quickly. She hadn’t thought she’d want a boyfriend for a very long time after living under her brother’s controlling thumb, but Ro was nothing like Leon. He was bossy and tended to do things without asking her, but Chloe somehow knew if she objected or pushed back, Ro would listen to her and be flexible.

“Cool,” Allye said with a relieved sigh. “Now, shall we figure out which of this stuff you like and want to keep?”

Chloe smiled tentatively at the other woman. “Yeah. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. I have a feeling we’re going to be good friends,” Allye said, handing the bottle of lotion to Chloe and turning back to the bed.

Watching her dig through the clothes and start to put them in some sort of order, Chloe gripped the plastic bottle tightly. Allye would never know how much her words meant. It had been a long time since Chloe’d had a friend. A true friend.

Author Biography

Susan Stoker is a New York TimesUSA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author whose series include Ace Security, Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, Unsung Heroes: Delta Force, and Mountain Mercenaries. Married to a retired army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri to California to Colorado to Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. A true believer in happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website,, or find her on Facebook at

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Book Review: My Forever Home by Debbie Burns

My Forever Home by Debbie Burns

Publisher & Release: Sourcebooks Casablanca, November 27, 2018

Time and setting:  Present Day, USA

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Length:   352 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating: 3.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

Love comes to the rescue
Vet school drop-out Tess Grasso dreams of having her own pet therapy business, but she meets one disastrous obstacle after another. There's no denying she has a way with animals, so in the meantime she puts her skills to use at a local no-kill shelter. Between helping her furry companions and a budding relationship with fellow dog lover Mason Redding, Tess begins to find fresh confidence...
What Tess doesn't know is that Mason is recovering from an accident, hoping to get back to his pro-baseball career. He's afraid the truth will ruin everything-and he's right. But in the midst of hurt and betrayal, a free-spirited stray Husky enters their lives, and teaches them a few things about faith, love and forgiveness.
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Vikki’s Musings

My Forever Home is definitely for the animal lover! Thanks go to the publisher, via Net-Galley, for a chance to read and review an advance reader copy of this book. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

This is an interesting read. I believe it is the first book I’ve ever read where one of the main characters is an animal, including his POV. The writing is smooth and has some engaging moments that had me chuckling.

Tess’s character is an interesting one with many facets to her character. I did like her, but I would have enjoyed her more if there had been a bit substance. I never became fully engaged with Tess.

Mason is a great male leading man. He is genuine, and I really liked him a lot. I did become investing in his character. He is such an honorable man with many redeeming characteristics. His determination to save the dog was excellent. I was so glad he was able to gain the dog’s trust.

The romance between Tess and Mason is fairly minimal. The story is much more focused on the animals Tess cares for and of course Mason’s dog. While it was interesting, sometimes it was a little over the top.

My Forever Home is a great read for an animal lover. Much of the book is about Tess’s desire to save them. While this story was not quite my cup of tea, I did enjoy it. I have no doubt the author truly loves animals. Happy reading!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Book Review: Someone to Trust by Mary Balogh

Someone to Trust by Mary Balogh

Publisher & Release: Berkley, November 27, 2018

Time and setting:  Regency, London

Genre: Historical Romance

Book Length:  377 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating: 4 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

After her husband's passing, Elizabeth Overfield decides that she must enter into another suitable marriage. That, however, is the last thing on her mind when she meets Colin Handrich, Lord Hodges, at the Westcott Christmas house party. She simply enjoys his company as they listen to carolers on Christmas Eve, walk home from church together on Christmas morning, and engage in a spirited snowball fight in the afternoon. Both are surprised when their sled topples them into a snowbank and they end up sharing an unexpected kiss. They know there is no question of any relationship between them, for she is nine years older than he.

They return to London the following Season, both committed to finding other, more suitable matches. Still they agree to share one waltz at each ball they attend. This innocuous agreement proves to be one that will topple their worlds, as each dance steadily ensnares them in a romance that forces the two to question what they are willing to sacrifice for love. . . .
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Vikki’s Musings

I just finished reading Someone to Trust. This is a beautifully crafted love story from the first page to the last. I have long been a huge fan of Mary Balogh, and she does not disappoint with her latest novel. This is the fifth book in her new A Wescott Novel series. Thanks go to the publisher, via Net-Galley, for the opportunity to read and review an advance copy. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

Someone to Trust pulled at my heart-strings. This is a different romance since there is almost a ten-year difference between the hero and the heroine with Elizabeth being the elder of the two. That is not a common occurrence with a Regency romance. I enjoyed the book a great deal. This story does start out a bit slow but picks up in the second half. 

The chemistry between this pair is strong and only grows stronger as the story progresses. The sexual tension builds from a tiny flame to a roaring blaze by the end. I thoroughly love it when that happens and what I expect in a Regency romance. Although these lovers should not fit, they do extremely well.

If you want to become enmeshed in the Regency world and find characters that will warm your heart, then I highly recommend Someone to Trust. I am loving these great stories and suggest you read the other books to fully appreciate this amazing series. Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Book Review: Unspeakable by Elisabeth Naughton

Unspeakable by Elisabeth Naughton

Publisher & Release: Montlake Romance, November 20, 2018

Time and setting:  Present Day, Northwest

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Thriller

Book Length:  304 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating: 4.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

All his siblings have moved on from their troubling pasts, but Rusty McClane can’t leave his behind. Not even when his freedom is in jeopardy.
Legal investigator Harper Blake can sense a bad boy. She’s drawn to them—like she is to her mysterious and brooding new client. The police believe that Rusty is involved with the case of a missing underage girl. Harper’s job is to find evidence to defend him. But is her sexy suspect a predator…or something else?
If Rusty is guilty of anything, it’s of stirring something primitive in Harper. The closer they get, the harder it is to believe the worst of him.
But in an underworld filled with sex trafficking, kidnapping, and murder, Harper will need to be cautious about whom she trusts. Because Rusty isn’t the only one with secrets.

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Vikki’s Musings

Unspeakable is the fourth book in Deadly Secrets series and an exciting thriller. I’m so glad I accepted the kind invitation from the publisher, via Net-Galley, to read and review. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

This is an action-packed romantic suspense with amazing characters, an outstanding plot and nail-biting suspenseful scenes. I became engaged from the first page and remained so until the end. Ms. Naughton certainly knows how to write thrillers!

Harper is an intriguing character, and I liked her right away. She is determined to prove she is not the person her old department thinks she is. While she is very much a victim of the “good ole boys” club, she does not react like one in the least.  Loved her decisions at the end of the book.

Rusty McClane is a great hero. Who doesn’t love a Robin Hood character? He is so determined to save the girls that are disappearing because he knows their captors are part of a sex trafficking ring, a deadly one. His knightly behavior carries over to his relationship with Harper.

While the romance between Harper and Rusty is not the central element in this book, it is an excellent one. It is stronger than in the previous book. The chemistry is very strong, and I enjoyed seeing it grow. I truly wanted them to have their happy ending!

I highly recommend Unspeakable to all readers who love romantic suspense with plenty of action and a strong romantic element. I can’t wait to read other books by Ms. Naughton. She’s definitely becoming an auto-buy author for me. Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Book Review: Chasing Shadows by Catherine Bybee

Chasing Shadows by Catherine Bybee

Publisher & Release: Montlake Romance, November 13, 2018

Time and setting:  Present Day, 

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Length:  316 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating: 5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 
Avery Grant doesn’t date. Her first marriage was a mutually beneficial contract that gave her the financial freedom she needed to step away from her controlling parents. Wealthy and single, the last thing she’s looking for is love sneaking in to mess up her life plans. And after a brutal attack, she’s determined to never be vulnerable again, even if the new man in her life helps her feel safe.
Mesmerized from the moment he sets his eyes on Avery, Liam is driven to learn everything about this tough, sexy, challenging woman. Breaking down her defenses won’t be easy, but Liam refuses to be pushed away. All he needs is a tiny crack in Avery’s armor to wiggle his way into her heart.
But when a terrifying lie about her attacker’s fate comes to light, Avery’s past returns to haunt her. Now she’s willing to put herself in danger to get the answers she needs. That means jeopardizing the best thing that’s ever happened to her: Liam.

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Vikki’s Musings

Catherine Bybee is fast becoming one of my auto-buy authors. This is book three in the Cabot series. When I received an invitation from the publisher, via Net-Galley, to read and review, I immediately accepted. My opinions are my own and not influenced by anyone.
As with all of Ms. Bybee’s novels, Chasing Shadows captured my attention from the first page and kept until the last. The pacing is fast, the characters are entertaining and well-written, and the plot is fantastic. 

Avery is a driven character and is determined to find her attacker, no matter what links she must go to. While she has lived a life of privilege, she is now ready to be a member of the working class, and I admired her perseverance in turning her talents into marketable ones. If fact, I adore Avery!

Oh, my, I just love Liam’s character. Not only is he swoon worthy, he’s a great guy. He is perfect for Avery in every way. Even when she takes off without telling him, he is able to see that she does it to protect him. He does not let male pride stand in the way.

The romance between Avery and Liam is strong. The sexual tension between the pair is excellent. I truly wanted them to find their happy ending. They are perfect for each other.

I enjoyed seeing some of the characters from the earlier book in this series. It’s always fun to reconnect. The Cabot family is intriguing and flawed. I truly like them a great deal.

If you enjoy a romance with strong family ties, engaging characters, and an intriguing plot, then you will love Chasing Shadowsas much as I did. I highly recommend this talented author. While this book is part of a series, it is a stand-alone novel. Happy reading!


Avery’s head shot up at the sound of a female voice calling her name. 


Oh, damn… 

When Lori was at their table, Avery detached from Liam’s side and stood for a hug. “What are you doing here? Where’s Reed?” 

Lori eyed Liam while she answered the questions. “Reed’s on his way down. We’re going out to dinner. Wanted a drink first.” 

What were the chances of Lori excusing herself before Avery was forced to make an introduction? 

Lori reached out a hand toward Liam. “I’m Lori.”

Liam stood; a broad smile matched his broad chest. “Liam Holt.” Once he released Lori’s hand, he pulled out a bar stool. “Sit, we just ordered drinks.” 

Avery wanted to elbow his ribs. 

Instead, she smiled. 

Liam signaled for Nikki. 

“Liam, huh? Avery hasn’t mentioned you.” 

He pulled Avery’s chair closer to his and waited for her to sit. “We haven’t known each other long.” 

Lori sent a questioning look to Avery. Instead of adding to Liam’s explanation.

“I’ve known Lori for a few years. We live in the same building.” 

“What do you do, Liam?” 

Small talk … is that what this was going to be? 

Lori signaled Reed when he walked in the door. “This is my husband.” 

Avery laughed. “You love saying that, don’t you?” 

Lori nodded. 

“They’re newlyweds,” Avery explained. 

Once again Liam stood when Reed approached the table. 

“Look who I found,” Lori said. 

Reed kissed Avery’s cheek. “I haven’t seen you here in a while.” 

“That’s because you two never come up for air,” Avery teased. 

“This is Liam … Avery’s friend.” Yeah, Lori wanted more details. 

The men shook hands. 

“Have I ever met one of your friends?” he asked. 

Avery glared. “Smooth, Reed … really smooth.” 

Lori nudged her husband’s arm. “Stop teasing.” She turned her focus on Liam. “Avery keeps her private life private.” 

Avery tried not to flinch when Liam placed a hand over hers. “I’ve figured that out recently.” 

“How did you two meet?” Reed asked.

Avery said “the gym” at the same time Liam said “a bar.” 

Lori’s lawyer radar spiked. Avery saw it in her eyes. “Those two things are worlds apart.” 

She caught Liam’s hand and squeezed. 

“The first time I saw you was at Pug’s Bar. I approached you at the gym.” 

“I knew it. That wasyou at Pug’s. How did you figure out where I worked out?” She’d been asking herself that question for over a week. 

“That wasn’t hard. Leslie had a gym bag.” 

“Who’s Leslie?” Lori asked. 

Avery didn’t look away from Liam. “A friend. So your job at the gym wasn’t on accident?” 

“I might have approached Brenda about a side job so I could meet you.” 

Avery’s jaw dropped. 

“Who’s Brenda?” Reed asked. 

“The owner of the gym,” Avery and Liam said at the same time. “How did you know I was there on Tuesday and Friday nights?” She wasn’t sure if his actions were exciting or scary. 

“Appointment book. Brenda’s office is always open.” 

“Wait, wait, wait.” Lori placed a hand between the two of theirs. “You see Avery in a bar. You search out a location of her gym, follow her to it, get a job there, and now you’re both here having drinks?” 

Liam offered a brief, unapologetic nod. 

Lori grabbed Avery’s hand. “How well do you know this guy?” 

Avery liked the gleam in Liam’s eyes. “He’s safe.” 

“What he just described is a little too close to stalking for my taste.” 

Reed placed a hand on Lori’s shoulder. “Simmer down, Counselor. If Liam had an ulterior motive, he wouldn’t have told us all that.” 

“I wanted to meet you,” Liam said. “

Yeah, well, you’ve met her.” Lori wasn’t happy. 

Nikki showed up with Avery’s and Liam’s drinks. 

“My usual, Nikki,” Lori told her. 

“Hon, our reservations are in thirty minutes. Maybe we should go.” 

Lori looked at Reed like he was crazy. “We aren’t leaving him with her. He could be a sociopath.” 

Liam smiled, his eyes crinkling with amusement. “I’m not.” 

“That’s what they all say.” 

Avery put a free hand in the air. “Chill, Lori.”

Avery realized that her other hand had somehow ended up back in Liam’s. His thumb stroked the underside of her wrist in a strangely calming way. 

“Do you want a drink, Reed?” Nikki was still standing there, watching the four of them. 

“No, thank you. We’re leaving.” 

Lori pushed back her chair. “We’re going to talk about this later,” she warned Avery. “And you … just so you know, I’m an attorney, and my big, burly husband here is in private security. He has even bigger friends.”

Liam reached into his back pocket and removed his wallet. From it, he pulled out what looked like a business card. “I have nothing to hide.” 

Lori glanced at it briefly before Reed snatched it from her fingertips. “C’mon. Let’s leave them to their date.” 

Liam stood again and shook Reed’s hand before he ushered Lori out of the bar. 

“That was intense.” 

“My friends are protective.” 


“You really went through all that just to meet me?” 

Liam picked up his cocktail for the first time. “Worked, didn’t it?” 

Avery let loose his hand and lifted her glass to his. “Yes, it did.”


Author Bio:

New York TimesWall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee has written twenty-eight books that have collectively sold more than five million copies and have been translated into more than eighteen languages. Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in the hope of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite Series, the Weekday Brides Series, the Most Likely To Series, and the First Wives Series.

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