Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Spare me the Drama by Karen Tomsovic
Publisher & Release Not So Maverick Publishing, November 11, 2015
Time and setting: Present day, California
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 365 pages
Heat Level: 2 Flames
Rating: 3 Gold Crowns
Love a good soap opera?
Then tune in to Spare Me the Drama
Humor and heart come together in this contemporary love story about second chances and family life...
When widowed father of eight Martin Leon remembers that he forgot to invite an important guest to a birthday party for one of the kids, who can blame him? Since his wife’s death, he’s struggled to juggle the demands of a large family with the equally demanding job as head writer of the daytime soap opera he and Jeanie once co-wrote together but which he must now pen alone in the face of a dwindling audience, an executive producer only too happy to alter the course of his stories at her slightest whim, and a nagging case of writer’s block.
Roxanne Hunter parlayed her sexy role on After the Loving into a lucrative, luxury-bedding business years ago and didn’t look back. Just when she was on the brink of having it all, the universe pulled the rug out from under her, leaving her to nurse a devastating double loss of her own.
Accepting Martin’s last-minute invitation, Roxanne decides it’s the perfect getaway to take her mind off her lonely life. All she wants is to fulfill a promise she once made to Martin’s sister and find out how he and his brood are coping with grief. Though Martin may wake up one of these days ready for a woman again, Roxanne has no intention of reliving the days of her youthful, secret crush on him.
But the females in Martin’s family have other plans. Startled by the revelation that she is as much a stray as anyone else Martin has taken into his household, Roxanne nevertheless allows herself to be enfolded into the embrace of family life and a romance with him.
Can she fulfill her promise to get through fate together, or will the universe – and the past – pull the rug out from under her one more time, just as she’s about to get the happy ending she always wanted but never dared dream she’d have?
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This is the first book I have read by Karen Tomsovic. I received an e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
Spare Me the Drama has a lot going on. The hero, Martin Leon, writes for a day-time soap opera. His wife who wrote the soap opera with him has died. They had eight children. He mourns his wife deeply for a good part of the book. While the heroine, Roxanne Hunter, is introduced fairly early, there is not really any romance between the pair for quite some time.
Roxanne believes she is unmarriageable. She is an ex-actress and now she has made her fortune selling her own brand of mattresses. She has known Martin for years since she played a character in the soap opera for a short time and was also his late sister’s best friend. I liked her character, but she does have a few odd turns that were never explained. She has issues with food for one, but I never understood why.
The chemistry between the hero and the heroine is there but comes out well into the book. I liked Roxanne and Martin, but I would have liked to have developed a stronger connection to them, to really get inside their heads. That did not happen because there are so many sub-plots in this story.
Two of Martin’s children have a strong presence in this story. If you enjoy YA stories, then you will find them entertaining. For me, this took away from Martin and Roxanne, which kept me from becoming vested in their characters.
After the halfway point, the story picks up and becomes centered on the romance developing between the hero and heroine. I enjoyed that part quite a bit. In fact, it turned me around and took this book from 3 Gold Crowns to 4. Unfortunately, the ending dropped it back to a 3 again. I don’t want to give details, but what happens to Roxanne should not have happened in my estimation. Plus, the ending was a bit abrupt.
While there were issues for me, overall, I did enjoy the story. If you enjoy women’s fiction and strong family relationships, then you will like Spare Me the Drama. I’m probably not the best judge of this type of story since I’m a true romantic at heart, and for me, the romance is secondary in this book. Happy reading!
Sailing back toward them for another push, Lana opened her mouth and screamed. "Higher!"
Roxanne heaved a bit harder. Obviously she was trying hard to please. In doing so, she loosened the scent of her perfume and sent a couple hundred flowers Martin's way. He inhaled with a little too much pleasure.
"Now we've got Nilda in that room," he said. "She talked me into getting that new phone everyone's lining up for."
"Guess Nilda doesn't think cell phones cause cancer," Roxanne said. A wicked smile crossed her lips. "Can you handle one of those?"
She remembered his technophobia. Martin smiled wider. "What do you think?"
"I think you can't tell your hashtag from your—"
Lana screamed out again. "Higher!"
Roxanne eyed the listening five-year-old and left her remark unfinished. She and Martin traded glances and shared a mutual laugh.
"You know my aunt," Martin said. "You can't tell her anything. According to her—based on the always-to-be-trusted Internet—you’ve had two nose jobs, an eyebrow lift, breast augmentation, cheek implants..."
"Why, I used to be a man."
"... and an earlobe tuck."
"She was right about the nose job. But there was only the one."
Lana sailed back again. "Higher!"
This time Roxanne replied with a tentative "Uh...okay?" because both she and Martin could see the swing beginning to veer toward the brink of control.
Martin stepped in and brought the swing to a stop. "No higher."
Her fists in a helpless clench, Roxanne shrank back, teetering on one awkward heel of a cool shootie. "Sorry."
Martin patted Lana on the head. "We don't need any trips to the emergency room today."
Roxanne made some obligatory listen-to-your-father type comment and then wound Lana down—figuratively—with a suggestion to see the new kitten.
Martin moved to lift his daughter out of the swing and as he did, his shoulder creaked, causing Roxanne to glance around for the source.
"Was that you?" she said. "Or the swing?"
With Lana safely on the ground, Martin rubbed his shoulder. "It's just a little rheumatism. It comes and goes."
"Ah, you've got arthritis."
"I don't have arthritis," he insisted. "I have rheumatism."
"It's okay, Martin, we all get older. It happens. Even I have to wear reading glasses from time to time."
"Even you?" Martin tsked. He couldn't wait to hear Stephanie's pronouncement about those.
Roxanne had always been a beauty, and as he watched her toddle across the lawn with his daughter, realized she still was. From the moment she’d stepped out of her splashy convertible, she and her dark hair and her air of red roses had captivated him. His family, also dazzled, could not stop talking about her or to her. His seven-year-old niece, who would rather die than be the center of attention, seemed relieved that someone else had taken over the spotlight at her own party and gratefully basked in the reflected light of the mysterious stranger drawing everyone around her like a magnet.
He liked Roxanne, though, and not because of her great looks and charm. When his sister had become a widow, Roxanne had been there. And when Tess was diagnosed and struggling for life, Roxanne had been there. Roxanne was so much more than a party girl. She’d proved herself to be a true friend. And for that, she had earned a place in their extended family.
She was so easy to talk to. They went so far back in each other's lives that he could converse without having to explain the back story, so to speak. He could just jump right in and unload.
Roxanne Hunter, in so many ways, was a sight for sore eyes.
Karen Tomsovic lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest, where she stares out her kitchen window thinking up new ways to describe clouds. Her two pet parrots (aka “permanent toddlers”), Teddy and Daisy, interrupt her as often as possible. Like her owner, Daisy loves to devour a good book, but she does so in a more literal sense. Teddy makes a great muse. He says Mommy should have a bird in every book. Mommy says she’ll try.
Find her here:
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Brian will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour
Yours Truly, 2095
by Brian Paone
GENRE: Time Travel Romance
Jeff Blue - the victim of a time-travel conspiracy - wakes up trapped in the year 2095. The only familiar face is J0, a robotic copy of the wife he left behind in 1981. But can she be trusted? J0 could be the only key to unlock Jeff's journey home, but it will require her to do something against her programming , something human.
During Jeff's perilous journey through the future, he will have to discover the truth about J0's origins, and solve the mystery behind how he wound up in 2095, in order to uncover the reality of his own destiny.
Armed with a one-way ticket to the moon, Jeff must race against the clock to seize what might be his last chance to return home to his time. A time without hover cars, Justice Computers, or TeleSkins - a time over 100 years ago.
She bundled up the daisies and walked to the register.
“Dozen Gerbera daisies.”
As soon as the words were spoken, a beam reacted to her voice by dancing slightly, and the price appeared on the counter: $92.90.
I reached into my pocket and felt the outline of the ELO next to the money J0 had given me. I pulled out the money and counted it. Keats gave me my change back and handed me the flowers. I thanked her and headed for the exit door.
I stopped and turned back toward her.
“Kuiama, does that mean anything? It’s such a curious name for a mall.”
“During the Great Revolt of ’42, there was a police officer who recklessly fired into a crowd of protestors in the parking lot of this mall. He was only protecting the people, but tragically someone got killed. Fortunately for him, his trial wasn’t heard until after the revolt was over.”
“Why was that fortunate for him?”
“Well, you know, the Justice Computer took jurisdiction over all police agencies after the revolt. He was stripped of his certification and badge but never criminally prosecuted. He ultimately found out that the man he killed was a single dad who had a daughter named Kuiama. He adopted her as a sort of penance for what he did. The owners of the mall wanted to dedicate it in her name, as a constant reminder of the chaos that the revolt brought upon everyone—even to us in our little town.”
“Why does this sound like it’s just an urban legend?”
“Everything from those few years during the revolt practically was one big urban legend. The history ViewBooks that are being taught in schools right now make it sound like it was as bad as a resurgence of the Dark Ages—a new world record, a new world power, a new law enforcement regime, and a new censorship control. This was everything the revolt was originally against, and yet these new organizations were a direct result of the revolt. Such brutal irony.”
“Thank you for your time, Keats. It’s been a pleasure.”
“Enjoy your Bellis perennis.”
I headed for the food pavilion to find a restroom where I could ditch the ELO. I was somewhat disappointed that the food pavilion looked normal and that there wasn’t a bright array of new and exotic futuristic food concoctions.
Once I found the men’s room, I searched the stalls for some kind of ventilation system. I stood on a toilet and slid the ELO into the bottom of the vent easily enough. I was free!
I exited Kuiama’s and headed for the one place in Isabella Creek I desperately needed to see for myself. As I moved at a half jog, I could feel the cold wind still blowing. Thankfully the layout of Isabella Creek hadn’t changed all that much, and I was able to find what I was looking for without any incident. After I walked down Laredo Avenue, I slowed to a stroll.
West Winter Street.
I took a deep breath and exhaled even more deeply.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Brian Paone was born and raised in the Salem, Massachusetts area. An award winning author, his love of writing began through the medium of short stories at the young age of twelve. After almost 20 years of consistently writing short stories for only his friends and family to read, Brian's first full-length novel was published in 2007, and he has published two more since then. Brian is married to an Officer in the US Navy, and they have 3 children. Brian is a Police Officer for the St. Mary's GA Police Department and has been working in Law Enforcement since 2002. He is also a self-proclaimed roller coaster junkie, and his favorite color is burnt-orange.
Links to buy:
Luck is No Lady by Amy Sandas
Time and setting: 1817, London, England
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 352 pages
Heat Level: 2 Flames
Rating: 4.5 Gold Crowns
"You should not have kissed me," she replied breathlessly. "I do a lot of things I shouldn't. It does not mean I won't do them again."
Gently bred Emma Chadwick always assumed she'd live and die the daughter of a gentleman. But when her father's death reveals a world of staggering debt and dangerous moneylenders, she must risk her good name and put her talent for mathematics to use, taking a position as bookkeeper at London's most notorious gambling hell. Surrounded by vice and corruption on all sides, it is imperative no one discovers Emma's shameful secret or her reputation-and her life-will be ruined.
But Roderick Bentley, the hell's sinfully wealthy owner, awakens a hunger Emma cannot deny. Drawn deep into an underworld of high stakes gambling and reckless overindulgence, she soon discovers that in order to win the love of a ruthless scoundrel, she will have to play the game...and give in to the pleasure of falling from grace.
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Question Roulette Q&A:
Are you a plotter or a pantster?
I am a combination of both. A plotter in the planning stages, though not a strict one, I like to have the story planned out in front of me before I start writing. But once I do, I kind of let things go as they will.
This excerpt is from Emma and Roderick’s first meeting, an anonymous encounter behind the fall of a curtain. In return for promising not to discover her identity, he asks her to assist with his disheveled neckcloth.
Taking another step closer in order to comfortably reach up to his throat, she began to twist and fold the neckcloth into a style she had recreated many times before. Warmth emanated from the stranger and cool night air drifted around her. There was a solid strength to his body as he stood still and accommodating beneath her hands. The sound of his breath began to match the rhythm of her own and the light-headedness she had experienced earlier returned in a rush.
Her fingers fumbled through the familiar movements as what should have been a simple task became weighted with acute expectancy.
By the time she smoothed the edges of the cravat beneath his coat, Emma’s breath was tight and her pulse beat in a frantic rhythm. Craving distance and a safe return of her faculties, she shifted her weight to step back, but her retreat was brought to a halt when he lifted his hands to cup her face.
“One more thing,” he murmured. Then his mouth covered hers.
She had not yet lowered her hands, and they flattened against his chest as she tensed in shock. Her stomach went into a tizzy of uncontrollable flutters, and what remaining sensible thoughts she may have had were sent spiraling from her head.
He pressed his fingertips into the hollow at the base of her skull and propped his thumbs beneath her chin, holding her in place to accept the exquisite pressure of his lips. He took a step closer and his feet stirred the fall of her skirts as his body bumped gently against hers. Then he tilted his head and his mouth softened in unspoken entreaty as if he were asking for something more.
Emma had never been kissed before, and as his mouth moved over hers, she found herself utterly unprepared for the sensations it invoked. She never could have anticipated the delicious heaviness invading her limbs or the tingling that rushed through her blood. When he pulled on her lips, as if trying to draw something from her, her body tightened deep inside with a yearning that came on so swiftly it startled her.
It finally recalled her to her senses—the inexplicable need that overtook all rational thought. Emma was not accustomed to such a complete destruction of mental acuity, and it frightened her.
She tensed the curve of her lower back. The resistance was small, but it was enough, and he lifted his head. Emma fought the urge to run her tongue over her lips. Though he had ended the kiss, he did not step back or release his hands from her face.
“Are you certain you wish to remain unknown to each other?” he whispered darkly. His voice felt like a caress. “We could continue this encounter in a more comfortable location. Somewhere just as private, lit by candlelight.”
“You should not have kissed me,” she replied breathlessly as her thoughts began to reorganize themselves and a raw panic seeped into her bones.
“I do a lot of things I shouldn’t. It does not mean I won’t do them again.”
Her alarm intensified at the thought of him kissing her again. She could not let that happen, not when his first kiss had been so unsettling. A second might be devastating.
This is the first book I have read by Amy Sandas, but it will not be the last. I received an invitation from the publisher to read Luck is No Lady, via Net-Galley, in exchange for an honest review. I am so glad I accepted.
After the death of her father, Emma Chadwick is saddled with a huge gambling debt. She is racing against a deadline to repay the moneylender or else. What or else entails is a mystery to her, but she knows it will be scandalous for her and her two younger sisters, of that she is sure. She takes a position as bookkeeper for the notorious Roderick Bentley.
Roderick needs an honest bookkeeper. When Emma applies, she manages to pinpoint very quickly how his last man swindled him in the test he has devised. He hires her, even knowing she is the woman he had a clandestine meeting with at a recent ball. His attraction to her is keen, but he knows nothing can come of it. After all, Emma is an innocent, even if she has accepted his offer of employment, since, if word ever got out she worked in his establishment, would surely ruin her and her sisters.
Can each of them bury the growing attraction that threatens to ignite, or will they give into the sizzling passion, throwing caution to the wind?
This book is exactly why I love to read historical romance. Between the witty dialogue and the slow build of sexual tension, it is a shining example of what I expect in this genre. The plot is unusual, not even close to other historicals. The pacing is excellent, keeping me entertained from the first page to the last, and is that not why one chooses to read?
I fell in love with the heroine, Emma Chadwick, from the start. She is an intelligent, feisty, independent woman, yet feminine at the same time. Her nurturing characterization came through extraordinarily well, without having her come across as a martyr. I loved the interaction between the sisters tremendously and hope the future books planned in this series involve Portia and Lily as the heroines!
Roderick Bentley is my kind of hero. From an early age, life did not deal him a good set of cards, having been born a bastard son of an earl. However, he did not let that defeat him. He has become a wealthy and successful self-made man. While he skirts the outer edge of society because of his birth and occupation, he does not let that stand in his way either. Although the owner of a gambling club, he is honest and honorable, especially toward Emma.
Luck is No Lady is very well-written and other than a few modern words that sneaked in, it is true to the regency setting. Also, the intrigue in the story is expertly worked in and very believable. While the love scenes are not overly explicit since they focus more on the emotion than the sexual act itself, they are quite sensual and perfect for this book.
If you are looking for an enjoyable historical romance with excellent characters and a unique plot, then you will find Luck is No Lady as delightfully fulfilling as I. I strongly recommend this wonderful regency romance, and I can’t wait for the other books to come out in this remarkable series. Happy reading!