All’s Fair in Love & Blood

You all know how much I love Jennifer Peel’s book. Her latest is no different. I keep falling in love with each new book she releases and think it will be my new favorite…until her next one. Ha ha. I didn’t know what to think when I saw this title. My first thought was: “Ew. Blood?” I wondered if it would be a vampire book, but nope! All’s Fair in Love & Blood is a solid contemporary romance. Here’s the blurb:

They are both out for blood, but could it end in love?

Scarlett Armstrong and Kane Hudson have a tangled past involving not only their families but their own failed love affair. Now, eight years later, to make things more complicated, they’re both in the running to become the next CEO of Scarlett’s family’s business, Armstrong Labs, a privately held blood plasma company. It all comes down to who presents the best business plan to the board of directors.

For Scarlett, it’s a matter of continuing her family’s legacy and hoping that her father will be proud of her once and for all. After all, she’s spent her entire life pushing her own dreams aside preparing for this role. And perhaps she would like a little sweet revenge against the man who stole her heart and never gave it back. Kane, on the other hand, is determined to reach his goal of becoming the CEO of a Fortune 500 company before his forty-fifth birthday and proving to Scarlett she’s meant to follow her own dreams.

But things don’t go according to plan for either Scarlett or Kane when they realize that perhaps they’re fighting for the wrong thing. With love and blood on the line, which one will come out on top?

My Review

Loved this one. This book features Scarlett and Kane. As a naïve 22-year-old, Scarlett meets Kane when his mother becomes her father’s 7th wife. Scarlett’s skill in awkward situations brings the two together, and then they work together at her father’s plasma company. Kane quickly became one of my favorite book heroes as he helped Scarlett learn to love herself and get comfortable in her own skin. Scarlett is super adorable. I loved her and all the side characters as well—Naomi, Auggie, and the other minor-minor ones thrown in.

Scarlett’s and Kane’s love story stretches over a lot of years and is super complicated. But it is a story of growth, of forgiveness, or being true to your self and not trying to live for others, but going after your own dreams. I couldn’t put this one down once I started. I read it in a about a day and a half. Every thread of this story was perfect and I could not get enough of it. It’s one that warmed my heart and was extremely fulfilling. Well done again, Jennifer Peel!

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If you haven’t read any of Jennifer’s books yet, you won’t go wrong with any of them. She is an author who keeps getting better at writing, not worse (as some authors do who get caught up in the money-making side of it and start throwing out formulaic junk). Hers always give my heart a hard workout, which is why I love her stories every time. Give here a try. And this one was amazing!

Happy delectable reading.

The Accidental Text

The latest release by Becky Monson was a WINNER! I hope you get to read it. Here’s the blurb:

Wrong number. Right guy?

Once upon a time, Maggie Cooper lived for adventure. Jumping out of planes was child’s play. Now she can’t even work up the nerve to ask out her coworker. For a bit of self-therapy, she begins to text her recently deceased mother’s phone—the only problem is that the number has been reassigned and for weeks she’s been unknowingly texting a stranger her deepest thoughts and feelings. There have also been some not-so-deep texts, like the ones about her appreciation for her coworker’s butt.

When Chase Beckett, the unsuspecting stranger who has more in common with Maggie than he’d like to admit, texts back, Maggie is beyond mortified. But message after message and night after night, Maggie realizes that Chase’s wit, charm, and advice are exactly what the doctor ordered. Is it enough, though, to get her back up in the sky? And what about her heart? Can she risk taking a leap of faith for the man on the other end of her accidental texts?

My Review

This was super adorable. It seriously just made me grin like a fool (especially at the end!). One of the best romance endings I’ve read in a while. This probably falls in the chick lit category, but not a fluffy one with no meat or substance. This one deals with Maggie’s grief of losing her mom to cancer. But it’s not heavy like some romances might be with that subject. It’s still lighthearted and makes you laugh. But there is depth to the story. So much delicious depth.

To deal with her grief, Maggie has been texting her mom’s old phone, venting her problems and her sorrow in missing her mother. Her dad promised he wouldn’t get rid of her line, so all she worries about is someone in her family opening the phone up and seeing that she isn’t over losing her mother. But she is shocked to her core when someone texts her back that this is his new number and he’s been reading her vulnerable texts for 2 weeks, and thought he should let her know. She is mortified and deletes the number, hoping to never think of it again. But later, she receives a text from Chase, the owner of the new number, letting her know he now needs her advice as he’s suffered an unexpected loss in his life.

Their slow-burn friendship to lovers story was beautiful and funny. But my favorite part of this book was the last quarter. I won’t spoil that for you. But just know that it was super fulfilling and enlightening and romantic as all get-out. I absolutely loved it. This is a phenomenal book. I highly, highly recommend.

Great kiss scene

Chase doesn’t hesitate; his lips find mine. There’s no precursor, no heated glance, no eyes searching my face beforehand. No tiptoeing or testing the waters. It’s his lips on mine, and it’s full of hunger, and wanting and needing. It’s all the many things we want to say but aren’t ready to say yet. And I feel it all as his mouth parts mine and the kiss deepens.

We are all hands and lips and tongues up against my car. And it’s hands down the best kiss I’ve ever had. The most passionate kiss I’ve ever felt. I’m not falling for Chase—I’ve already fallen.

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Grab this book if you need an awesome romance to read. Happy, happy reading!

Hunger Games (Prequel)

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins blew me away in January when I read it. It was nothing like I expected it to be, and totally shocked me at the end. Bravo to the author. I always love when a plot twist catches me completely off guard.

This newest Hunger Games book takes us back in time, way before Katnis’s time to when President Snow–Cornelius, or Corneo–was a teenage boy in high school. He lives with his cousin, Tigris, and the Grand Mam (his grandma). They’re destitute, having sold off almost all their belongings to keep up the façade of a solid Snow heritage with no worries. He’s been raised with the mantra: Snow always falls on top. But everything seems to be falling on top of him.

This year, as a student candidate hoping to receive a scholarship for university, he is chosen to be a mentor to a Hunger Games tribute and ends up with the girl from District 12. He believes she is beneath him, and does everything possible to get rid of her and find himself a better tribute. This is his life–always kissing butt with professors and other students to keep doors of opportunity cracked open in case he needs to use one to survive in the future.

And so begins the precursor to the later Hunger Games. We discover how Corneo’s hands are all over it. He meets Lucy Gray, the tribute from District 12, who ends up impressing him despite her district roots. As her mentor, he gets closer to her and learns more of her story. His journey is incredible as we see this kid who has survived the horrible war years and is still in survival mode as the Capital seems to be a game where only the fittest and richest survive. He is neither.

As he learns from Lucy Gray, he comes to a crossroads where he must make hard decisions—life-changing ones. His choices will run you through the gamut of emotions as you see how this boy with so much potential for good grows into the future despot who justifies so much evil.

I really loved this book. It kept me guessing clear until the bitter end. I highly recommend it if you loved the Hunger Games books years ago.

Happy Reading.

Of Sword and Shadow

Here’s a new release by my friend Amanda Sowards (A.L. Sowards). It’s a medieval romance that’s pretty clean and beyond riveting. I couldn’t put it down when I read the beta-version. It has a beautiful cover as well–always a bonus.

Amanda is one of my favorite historical fiction writers, and she’s become adept over the years at wrapping a sweet romance into her stories as well (if you know me–I LOVE romance. It makes every story so much greater!). Here’s my review and the links below:

My Review

This 14th century thriller/romance takes place before and at the battle for Thebes from the Catalans. Eudocia is a slave girl who works for Thomas. She has no name but Mouse or Girl to her owner, but when she plays the part of a noblewoman named Eudocia, she meets Gillen, who’s working for an opposing force. When they decide to join forces in paving the way for the overthrow of the Catalans from Thebes, so much more will be at stake than just their hearts.

This was a fantastic story, full of action, adventure, intrigue, surprising plot twists, evil villains, and romance. It kept me turning the pages super quick, wanting to know how they would get out of each predicament, and wondering if they would escape with their lives or not. It is intense and thrilling, also heartbreaking and inspiring. The themes of freedom and self-worth are explored, and it is a very fulfilling story as the characters grow, learn, make mistakes, and keep hoping for second chances. This story touches on a piece of history I knew absolutely nothing about, so that made it even more interesting to read about, and try to get a small glimpse into the past to learn lessons to use in the present to be better. I highly recommend this one.

Favorite Quotes

“My child, I’ve learned that God is less concerned with the words that come from our lips and more concerned with the sincerity that comes from our hearts.” Atumano

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“I’ve come to realize that there is only one opinion I need to concern myself with.” He held up a finger to make his point.

“Whose?”

“The Lord’s. It is His good opinion that I wish to keep. Kings and popes and former vicar generals can say what they like, but their words don’t matter, not when I think of Him and whether or not He is pleased with what is in here.” He put a hand over his heart. “His is the only opinion that really matters.” Atumano

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Atumano had asked me to forgive Gillen’s rejection. I had promised to try, but it wasn’t easy to let go of the pain. Letting go made it sound like it was something I was grasping on to, but that wasn’t the case. It found me, chased me, and invaded all my quiet moments. The pain was stronger than I was. But I held out hope that I would grow stronger or it would grow weaker, and eventually, its grip would loosen.

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Get the book

Do yourself a favor and check this one out. You won’t regret it.

Of Sword and Shadow by A. L. Sowards

Happy reading!

(Not so) Alone for Christmas

Here’s another fun Christmas story. (Not so) Alone for Christmas is a novella. Short and sweet. It’s written by the lovely Jenny Proctor (who also has edited a couple of my books). She’s a great author and an amazing editor. I would be lost without her. 🙂

So, without further ado. Here is the blurb for this book:

Problem number one: Maddy’s family is NOT at home. A surprise Christmas visit to Charleston only works if the family you’re surprising hasn’t decided to spend the holidays in Hawaii.

Problem number two: Maddy is stranded. There is snow on the ground in Charleston, a city that doesn’t even own a snow plow. Flights are grounded, and the power is out. Maddy isn’t going anywhere.

Problem number three: Bo Bradshaw, Maddy’s old high school crush, is stranded with her, and he is hotter than ever.

Continue reading

The Noel Letters

This Christmas book by Richard Paul Evans was very touching and heart-stirring. The Noel Letters was a beautiful Christmas miracle-type story, but way more depth and wisdom than a Hallmark movie. I underlined quotes like crazy. It was beautifully written and had flawed characters I grew to love. I was mesmerized by the story and loved the cute bookstore setting. The blooming second-chance romance was well done as well. Everything about this read was inspiring. It definitely exceeded all my expectations.

One of my favorite quotes from the book:

As you sail your way through the sea of humanity, you will discover that most people don’t want truth. They want confirmation. Truth has always been frightening to those clinging to shaky ladders of belief. The more indefensible the belief, the tighter their grip. Let them be. Truth does not require confirmation nor consensus to endure. Truth is patient. It can afford to be. In the end it will have its way.”

Here’s to looking to truth, rather than confirmation going forward. Enjoy the holiday season and happy reading.

10 Ways to Survive Christmas with your Ex

I wasn’t expecting much from this novella, but I liked this author’s other works, so decided to give this a chance…and I’m so glad I did. 10 Ways to Survive Christmas with your Ex by Shari Tapscot was fantastic. In a short amount of time, the author skillfully made me adore the characters and get super engaged in their tangled love story.

This is a second chances love story between Georgia and Isaac (who works at the same restoration shop as Carter from Book 1). They were high school sweethearts, but she broke things off between them before she headed off to college in another state, knowing long-distance wouldn’t work for them again.

But now, they’re both spending Christmas with each other, since their parents are spending it together and insisted they both be there. It’s a  fun book with lots of laughs and lots of swoony moments. A perfect pick-me up book for if you’re feeling down. Or a perfect pick-me up story for if you’re feeling great. 😊

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Before We Were Yours

This book by Lisa Wingate was a historical/contemporary story, switching back and forth between present (with Avery Stafford, a lawyer who’s come home to help her senator dad through cancer treatments), and past (with Rill Foss, a swamp gypsy girl of twelve who is captured with her five siblings by the police and taken to the Tennessee Children’s Home while her dad is at the hospital with her mom who is in labor).

Rill and her siblings are swindled from their parents, who are tricked into signing papers, supposedly to have the state pay for their hospital visit, but instead it gives their kids up to the State’s custody. They live through a hell from Mrs. Tann, the owner of the foundling home, that runs on very corrupt tactics. Tricks, deceits, abuse of all kinds, and murder of orphans.

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Warbreaker

Wow! I absolutely loved this book. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson is amazing. I’m not super into the fantasy genre, except for ones written by Sanderson and Amy Harmon. I tend to love everything I read by those two authors.

My daughter has been telling me forever that I would love this one, and I did! Realistic characters with so much depth and growth, fantastic settings—this one is set in a Color World, the magic being breath, which enhances colors and senses—and shocking plot twists that get me every time.

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In Name Only

Here’s another deep, heartwrenching romance by Jennifer Peel. Warning: This one was very emotional. Midstory, I couldn’t contain my tears. She made me feel as if I was living Dani’s and Brock’s story…and it was a sad one. My heart was tugged all over the place and put through quite the wringer.

This covers some very sensitive subjects of PTSD and miscarriage. Don’t go into this thinking it’s a light, fluffy romance. This one has so many layers to wade through  with deeply emotional and complicated relationships, among not just the MCs but the side characters. I love character depth, and this one fulfilled that craving.

This story stunned me, leaving me breathless with awe. It’s one I will definitely reread. This is the kind of story that leaves me a better person after I finish reading it, by teaching me more empathy and mercy, without ever preaching a sermon. This is the kind of story I am always searching for, and am so happy when I find, because I know it will live in my heart forever, helping me make better decisions every day.

If you haven’t read any of Jennifer Peel’s book, you’re missing out. Start today to remedy that hole in your life. 🙂

Here’s the Amazon link: In Name Only by Jennifer Peel

Happy Reading.