Friday, July 31, 2020

Book Review with featured author: The Lyon Sleeps Tonight by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

The Lyon Sleeps Tonight by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Publisher & Release: Dragonblade Publishing, July 12, 2020

Time and setting:  Regency London

Genre: Historical Romance

Length: 130 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating: 3 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

Love is just a whim away…

Free-spirited Opal Jones and straight-laced Peter Ravenshaw are childhood friends growing up in India, away from the structured mores of English society. But all good things must come to an end. The friends are sent to England and go their separate ways.

Years pass but not Opal's love for Peter. Opal is determined to get her man, but she will need the help of Lady Dove-Lyon, the most notorious matchmaker in London.

The Lyon’s Den will host a most unusual game: He who can stay awake the longest, wins the hand of the fair Miss Opal Jones. Peter is horrified that his beautiful, headstrong friend would give herself away on a game of chance, not realizing that Opal already holds all the cards.

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks go to the publisher and Net-Galley for the complimentary copy of The Lyon Sleeps Tonight by Elizabeth Ellen Carter for the purpose of reading and reviewing it. My opinions are my own, and no one has influenced them.

The Lyon Sleeps Tonight is a Regency romance with engaging characters and a unique plot. I enjoy stories that show the main characters as children, so this novella pulled me in right away. However, it didn’t keep me until the end. In part, because there aren’t that many scenes between the heroine and hero in the middle, so it has a sagging middle.

Opal Jones is the heroine, and while I liked her, I didn’t fall in love with her. As an adult, her character didn’t show much growth, even for a novella. I only got to know her determination to get the hero to marry her. I didn’t see much depth to her. I did a few glimpses of the fire, but just not enough to inflame my opinions of her.

Peter Ravenshaw’s character was much more interesting and had more depth. His suffering and pain emotionally and physically are strong throughout all his scenes. I enjoyed him as a hero and wanted him to find a happy ending. 

The author bases romance between the hero and heroine on a childhood friendship that the heroine sees through her child’s eye. As adults, they have very little contact, so I found it difficult to believe in their love story.

If you enjoy Regency romance set in the brilliancy of London ballrooms and gaming hells, then you may like The Lyon Sleeps Tonight. I have read several other books in this series and found them more intriguing. This tie into the series seems unnecessary to me. While I didn’t love this book, other reviewers did, so with all reviews, my opinions are subjective. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Ellen Carter is a time traveller (and an award-winning historical romance author from Australia). She's been to ancient Rome, Medieval England, Georgian France, Victorian London and battled Barbary Coast pirates during the Regency period and brings back stories of adventure and romance. In fact, she describes what she does as Love's Great Adventure. Follow Elizabeth's adventures on her web site -->

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Book Review with featured author: The Hacker by Nancy Herkness

The Hacker by Nancy Herkness

Publisher & Release: Montlake Romance, August 4, 2020

Time and setting:  Present Day, NYC

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 280 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating:  4 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

When a personal trainer and a computer genius are caught in the dark web, there’s a lot to fear and a love to fight for in a heart-racing novel by Nancy Herkness, award-winning author of The Money Man.
Dawn Galioto is an expert in self-defense and the most in-demand personal trainer at her Jersey gym—a perfect position for a woman fighting her way out of a troubled past and the anxieties that come with it. Then, after complaints about baffling Wi-Fi glitches at the gym, Dawn calls in disarmingly hot, high-powered computer consultant Leland Rockwell. If she can trust anyone to fix her on-the-job problems, it’s Leland. As for healing her off-hours fears, time will tell.
The cybersecurity genius of KRG, Leland sees a lot to admire in Dawn. She’s strong, quick-witted, and sexy. And something of a puzzle—one Leland wants very much to solve. If only she’d let him. Every new reveal brings him intimately closer to Dawn, but there’s another, more dangerous riddle to decipher. After going undercover to solve her Wi-Fi problem, Leland’s found a dark workplace secret. As Dawn’s past threatens a burgeoning romance, the deepening mystery they’re discovering threatens their lives.

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks go to the author, publisher and Net-Galley for the complimentary copy of The Hacker by Nancy Herkness for the purpose of reading and reviewing, prior to its release. My opinions are my own and no one influenced them.

The Hacker is the second book in Ms. Herkness’s series, The Consultants. As with Ms. Herkness’s novels, The Hacker is a well-written novel with characters that pull you into the story and having you routing for them to succeed.

Dawn Galioto’s character has a troubled past that led her to her career as a sought-after self-defense and fitness trainer with the NJ gym she works at. That past has her questioning her ability to have a meaningful relationship with a man, though. I could understand her concerns. Trauma always has a lasting effect on an individual. When she reaches out to the hero, known for his hacker skills, she’s immediately attracted to him. Her confused emotions toward Leland tugged at my heart. 

Leland Rockwell is a great hero. He’s a computer nerd and yet not your typical computer geek. For one thing, he has muscles from years of swimming. He has a great many facets to his character. Raised by a single mom, and with no contact or support from his wealthy father, he’s plagued by guilt when his mother dies unexpectedly. He’s determined to excel in her memory. His mother worked three jobs to see he received the best education in his younger years. As a member of KRG Consulting, the company he and his two friends founded, he has proven his success as their cybersecurity expert. 

The story line is one that has plenty of suspense and the climax is exciting. I will admit though, it was easy to figure out the culprit behind the issue with the wi-fi at Dawn’s gym. The mystery is whether it involves her mentor, something that would break her heart. I felt her anguish at the thought of his involvement.

The romance between Dawn and Leland is combustible at the beginning and burns hot throughout the book. Although I would have liked a bit more emphasis on the emotions behind the physical attraction, nonetheless, I enjoyed their love story and wanted them to find their happy ending.

If you enjoy contemporary romance with a hot billionaire, then you will like The HackerThe Money Man is the first book and is my favorite of the two so far. I look forward to Tully’s romance. It’s sure to be full of suspense since he’s ex-FBI. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

Nancy Herkness is the award-winning author of the Second Glances, Wager of Hearts, and Whisper Horse series, published by Montlake Romance, as well as several other contemporary romance novels. She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America RITA® award.
A member of Romance Writers of America, New Jersey Romance Writers, and Novelists, Inc., Nancy has received many honors for her work, including the Book Buyers Best “Top Pick” Award, the New England Readers’ Choice award, and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award.
Nancy graduated from Princeton University where she majored in English. In addition to her academic work in literature, she was accepted into Princeton’s creative writing program, and her senior thesis was a volume of original poetry.
After graduating, Nancy had a varied career which included retail management and buying, COBOL programming, computer systems sales and marketing, and a brief stint as a receptionist at a dental office. Once her children were in school full-time, she sat down and wrote A Bridge to Love, her first romance novel to be published.
Nancy finds nothing odd about writing in the genre she calls the “Rodney Dangerfield of the literary world. It gets no respect.” She explains: “I was trained as a poet, but from the day my grandmother gave me my first Georgette Heyer novel I wanted to write romance. Romance is the genre of optimism, and that’s why I like it.”
A native of West Virginia, Nancy now lives in suburban New Jersey twelve miles west of the Lincoln Tunnel.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Book Review with featured author: Peak by Eliza Lloyd

Peak by Eliza Lloyd

Publisher & Release: Self-published, June 30, 2020

Time and setting:  Present Day, London

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 269 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating: 4.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

Meet The CHARBONNEAU TWINS, a two-book contemporary romance.

Claire Allen has just signed a new contract to star in and lead an expedition - a return to Mt. Everest - on a celebrity reality show. She's still carrying the grief and pain from the last failed climb where her best friend was killed. But she is determined to do this for her own peace of mind and to prove to the world she is still a top climber.

What she hadn't planned on was supermodel Paul Charbonneau joining the reality show...and being a contender.

Paul has just finished his runway career and is ready for a new challenge. That challenge is his complicated relationship with Everest climber, Claire Allen, and her quest to climb to the peak again. Paul tries to convince himself it's a great career move, not that he's joining the team because of his long-time attraction for Claire. But even he will admit it's more about the indomitable Claire than the dangerous peak.

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks go to the author and Net-Galley for the complimentary copy of Peak by Eliza Lloyd for the purpose of reading and reviewing. My opinions are my own, and no one has influenced them.

Peak is a well-written contemporary romance novel with complex characters and a unique plot. The pacing pulled me in from the first page and kept in its thrall until the last. There’s no doubt Eliza Lloyd did tons of research on mountain climbing or is one herself! While I’ve read several of her historical romances, this is the first contemporary, and Ms. Lloyd easily makes the transition from one sub-genre to the other.

The story line is so different. I know very little about mountain climbing and found the rigorous training a surprise. Although I suppose it shouldn’t have since it is an extreme sport. The challenge reality show, featuring Claire and the contestants, is fascinating.

Claire Allen’s character has a great many facets that makes her fascinating. She’s suffering from survivor’s guilt over losing her best friend while climbing Mt. Everest. She also has difficulty with relationships, which makes her encounters with the hero highly entertaining.

Paul Charbonneau is a great hero and is a male super model, so of course, he’s gorgeous. He has a stalker and it causes him great anguish. It plays into his relationship with Claire. I could feel his pain when he shares what happened to him.

The romance between Claire and Paul is combustible and threats to set the pages on fire. Ms. Lloyd’s love scenes are erotic and visceral, yet still has plenty of emotion, so I enjoyed them. I truly wanted them to find their happy ending.

If you enjoy contemporary romance with great sensuality and character that will intrigue, along with an unusual plot, then you will love Peak as much as I did. I look forward to reading Pinnacle, the second book in the Charbonneau Twins series. In fact, I’ve already pre-ordered it. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

Getting stranded on a desert island with every historical romance novel ever written is my dream retirement. David Gandy and Henry Cavill can come along.

In the meantime, I'll happily write about the 19th century with novels featuring ridiculously handsome heroes. Oh, and there is always a heroine who is a little ahead of her time and not so sure she wants to put up with the antics of any man unless said man is madly in love with her.

The stories dancing around in my head aren't limited to the 19th Century. I also write romantic suspense espionage capers ala Robert Ludlum (except my Jason Bourne is having a whole lot of sex with the suspected bad girl,) and contemporary romance ala Susan Wiggs (with sex instead of recipes.)

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Monday, July 27, 2020

Book Review with featured author: The Friendship List by Susan Mallery

The Friendship List by Susan Mallery

Publisher & Release: HQN, August 4, 2020

Time and setting:  Present Day, Washington

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Length: 327 Pages

Heat Level: Mild

Rating: 4.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

Two best friends jump-start their lives in a summer that will change them forever…
Single mom Ellen Fox couldn’t be more content—until she overhears her son saying he can’t go to his dream college because she needs him too much. If she wants him to live his best life, she has to convince him she’s living hers.

So Unity Leandre, her best friend since forever, creates a list of challenges to push Ellen out of her comfort zone. Unity will complete the list, too, but not because she needs to change. What’s wrong with a thirtysomething widow still sleeping in her late husband’s childhood bed?

The Friendship List begins as a way to make others believe they’re just fine. But somewhere between “wear three-inch heels” and “have sex with a gorgeous guy,” Ellen and Unity discover that life is meant to be lived with joy and abandon, in a story filled with humor, heartache and regrettable tattoos.

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks go to the publisher and Net-Galley for the complimentary copy of The Friendship List by Susan Mallery for the purpose of reading and reviewing prior to publication. My opinions are my own, and no one has influenced them.

The Friendship List is a well-written novel with complex characters and a plot that will tug at your heart. The pacing pulled me in from the start and held me in its thrall until the fulfilling ending. 

The MCs are two women who have been friends most of their lives. Each finds themselves stuck in the past and afraid to move forward. The story follows each woman through their journey to overcome their fear. They put together a list to help them and make it a competition.

Ellen Fox’s character has a seventeen-year-old son and has lived for him. She got pregnant the only time she had sex at seventeen and has never ventured into the dating pool. She’d become great friends with the coach and teacher at the school where she teaches. 

Unity Leandre’s character is a jack of all trades, a woman who married her childhood sweetheart. Her husband was in the military and lost his life while serving his country. Unity can’t let him go. They had lived with his mother in her house, and although both the mother and her husband have died, she still sleeps in the bed in his childhood bedroom and has changed nothing. She truly stuck in the past and sees no reason to move on.

The Friendship List shows tremendous growth for Ellen and Unity as they go about accomplishing their lists. While Unity only suggested the list to help Ellen, who fears her son will miss out on the full college experience because she’s overheard him telling this to a friend, but when Ellen begins accomplishing her objectives, she feels compelled to do so as well.

Ellen finds out her good buddy, Keith, the coach is hot and can be more than a friend. I loved them together and wanted them to find their happy ending, which proves complicated, to say the least. 

Unity meets Thaddeus through a friend, and because of the list, she jumps into a sexual relationship before she’s ready. They too are perfect for each other, but how does Unity become ready? Their romance is also complex, making it difficult for them to find their happy ending, but I really want that for them.

If you enjoy novels with massive character development where each MS learns life lessons along the way and a story that pulls you into their lives and the lives of their children and friends, then you will love The Friendship List as much as I did. While I’ve read and listened to many of Ms. Mallery’s books, this is the first I’ve had the privilege of receiving an advance copy. I am so pleased I had the chance to read this book and will continue to read and listen to other stories by her. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women's lives—family, friendship, romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations," and readers seem to agree—40 million copies of her books have sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.
Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She's passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as mom.
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Thursday, July 23, 2020

Book Review with featured author: The Girls of Victory street by Pam Howes

The Girls of Victory Street by Pam Howes

Publisher & Release: Bookouture, July 27, 2020

Time and setting:  WWII, England

Genre: Historical Fiction

Length: 251 Pages

Rating: 5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

Liverpool, 1939Bella Rogers thought her life was just starting; she can’t wait to get married to her childhood sweetheart, Bobby. But when war is declared and Bobby is called up, his letters stop, leaving Bella heartbroken and alone. Then her family is torn apart by tragedy when her angelic five-year-old sister dies from a terrible illness. They can barely afford a funeral, but the church is packed with the entire community, devastated for their loss.

Grieving for her sister and lost love, Bella finds a job at the Bryant and May factory, making matches. As bombs begin to fall, Bella gets the workers singing, keeping spirits high amidst the fear. When she meets a handsome American airman, Earl Franklin Jr, Bella’s heart finally starts to mend. Earl encourages her passion and soon she and her friends are offered the opportunity of a lifetime: to travel the country’s army bases, entertaining the troops and singing for victory. They name themselves The Bryant Sisters.

Just as her life is getting back on track, Bella finds herself pregnant – and Earl reveals a shattering secret that changes everything about their future. Devastated, she flees home to Liverpool, but as an unmarried mother, will her family reject her? And, as she faces a terrible sacrifice, will she ever sing with The Bryant Sisters again?

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks go to the publisher and Net-Galley for the complimentary copy of The Girls of Victory Street by Pam Howes for the purpose of reading and reviewing prior to publication. My Opinions are my own and no one has influenced them. 

The Girls of Victory Street is a well-written novel set during WWII with compelling characters and an emotionally charged plot. The pacing pulled me in from the first page and kept me engaged until the last.

Bella Rogers’s character appealed to me from the start. Her love for sweet Betty, and the pain she feels when she dies, touched me and brought me to tears. Her heartbreak over losing Bobby, especially since it was to such a conniving female, tore at my heart. Her love for her music made us kindred spirits.

This family saga paints a lovely, and at times, a heart wrenching look at a close family. I felt like I not only got to know Bella, but the rest of her family as well. I particularly enjoyed her mother and her ability to love unconditionally. 

Ms. Hawes has clearly done her research and gave just enough historical detail and descriptions to make this an enthralling reading experience. I made a trip to England four years ago and traveled through Cornwall. We came upon a bombed-out shell of a church and asked why it was still there, and the tour guide explained that it remained that way so they never forgot the devastation England suffered during WWII. That made a lasting impression on me. Her descriptions of several scenes pulled me to that moment time and again as I read this book.

If you enjoy historical fiction that shows family love and how war affects a country and its people, then you will love The Girls of Victory Street as much as I did. I will be reading other books by this talented author. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

Pam Howes was born in Cheshire. She is an ex Interior Designer who began writing seriously in the mid-nineties. The idea for her first novel, set in the sixties, was inspired by her time as a teenager, working in a local record store and hanging around with musicians who frequented the business. 

That first novel evolved into a series set in the fictional town of Pickford, based on her hometown of Stockport. Three Steps to Heaven; 'Til I Kissed You; Always On My Mind; Not Fade Away, and That'll Be The Day, follow the lives and loves through the decades of fictional Rock'n'Roll band The Raiders. Pam is a big fan of sixties music and it's this love that compelled her to write the series. 

A stand-alone true-life romance, Fast Movin' Train, set in the nineties, was published in early 2012. Pam is mum to three adult daughters, grandma to seven assorted grandchildren, and roadie to one musician partner.
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Friday, July 17, 2020

Book Review with featured author: The Goodbye Guy by Natasha Moore

The Goodbye Guy by Natasha Moore

Publisher & Release: Entangled, July 20, 2020

Time and setting: Present Day, Lakeside 

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 234 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating: 4.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

Rachel Bradford is finally living her dream as the star of her own interior design show. But ratings are slipping, and if she wants to save the show, she has to set an episode in the hometown she fled. Worst of all, she’s going to have to work with the cocky bad boy who humiliated her. 

Single dad, Beckett Colburn plans to turn an old fire station into a neighborhood bar. He’s blindsided when he discovers his family made a deal to turn his dream into a reality TV project. He’d rather run into a burning building than work with his childhood nemesis--on camera. 

But it’s not easy with a TV crew in town stirring up trouble, spreading rumors, creating buzz. Not to mention the inconvenient sudden attraction that sparks every time Rachel and Beckett fight.

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks go to the publisher and Net-Galley for the complimentary copy of The Goodbye Guy by Natasha Moore for the purpose of reading and reviewing prior to publication. My opinions are my own and no one has influenced them.

The Goodbye Guy is a lovely story with great characters that will capture your heart, and a unique plot. It’s a second chance romance, one of my favorite troupes. I quickly became enmeshed in the story and remained so until the ending. Natasha’s writing flows well and kept me engaged with no sagging middle!

Rachel Bradford’s character is fairly uncomplicated, and I became vested in her character from the very beginning. When she was in high school, her peers influence her decisions, putting her in an embarrassing situation that caused her to lash out at our hero. When they meet again when she comes to her hometown, there’s a bit of enemies to lovers, but fortunately, Ms. Moore doesn’t take it too far, so it didn’t sour the story for me. While she has baggage, she’s willing to look for changes in the hero which shows the maturity she should have after so long.

Beckett Colburn is a great hero. He’s the “bad boy gone good” guy. He’s made the changes in his life, and while he still feels that his family sees him as he used to be, he’s determined to prove to them he’s changed. He loves his daughter fiercely and will do anything to protect her. His character appealed to me since I’m married to my own “bad boy gone good!”

The romance between Rachel and Beck is a rocky road at first since they both hurt the other in high school, but they are mature enough to accept they were young and establish a solid working relationship. Ms. Moore bases their love story on the emotional connection that grows between them with a sprinkling of the physical attraction.

If you enjoy a romance with engaging characters, including an adorable little girl, and a plot different from the norm in this sub-genre, then you will love The Goodbye Guy as much as I did. This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Moore, but it will not be the last. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

Natasha Moore fell in love with the written word as soon as she could read. As she grew up, she discovered romance and now enjoys the chance to add some extra sizzle to her stories. She writes sexy contemporary and erotic romance, and believes there's nothing better than a happy ending. She lives in New York State with her real-life hero who is happy to tell everyone that he's her inspiration. They travel in their RV whenever possible. The great thing about writing is she can take it anywhere. 

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