Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Blog tour: In The Red Zone by Crista McHugh

In The Red Zone The Kelly Brothers # 6 
By: Crista McHugh
Releasing March 25th, 2015 

All-Star linebacker Frank Kelly is as well-known for his off-the-field hits as he is for his on-field ones. When a dance club brawl ends with him in handcuffs again, he’s rescued by a well-connected woman who can get the charges dropped in exchange for a small favor. If he’ll agree to play the part of a doting boyfriend for two months, she’ll keep him out of the slammer and help restore his reputation.

Kiana Dyer may be the daughter of a Hall of Fame football player, but the charity organization she set up in his honor isn’t getting the media attention she’d hoped for. A staged romance with Frank Kelly is just the ticket she needs to get it in the spotlight. As the lines between fake and real start to blur, she begins to wonder if bailing him out was the best call she’s ever made. Just when everything seems to be falling perfectly in place, scandal surrounds her charity, and she’s the one left scrambling to clear her name.


Crista McHugh is an award-winning author of fantasy and romance who writes heroines who are smart, sexy and anything but ordinary. She currently lives in the Audi-filled suburbs of Seattle with her husband and two children, maintaining her alter ego of mild-mannered physician by day while she continues to pursue writing on nights and weekends. 
She is an active member of the Romance Writers of America (including the Greater Seattle Chapter and the Seattle Eastside Chapters), and Romance Divas. 
Just for laughs, here are some of the jobs she’s had in the past to pay the bills: barista, bartender, sommelier, stagehand, actress, morgue attendant, and autopsy assistant. 
And she’s also a recovering LARPer. (She blames it on her crazy college days)
The playful banter continued throughout the meal as he shared stories about his childhood. After they ordered dessert, he grew silent and studied her with his head tilted slightly. “Forgive me if I’m treading on something you don’t want to talk about, but what’s the story with you and Tre?” 
Her back tightened. He’d been so open and cheerful about his family that she envied him. Her family was filled with enough drama and secrets to warrant a reality TV show. “What do you mean?” 
“Well, for starters, he never mentioned you before Saturday night.” 
“I told you. Our father had some trouble keeping his zipper up. He had a fling with my mom while he was married to Tre’s mom.” 
Frank nodded, the light in his eyes telling her he was grasping far more than he dared to say. Her mixed race was something she’d dealt with her whole life. Her mom had been blond and blue eyed, so as soon as people saw Kiana, they knew her father was black. Her mother’s backwoods Georgia family shunned her for her black blood, just like Tre and some members of her father’s family had shunned her for her white blood. She’d grown up caught in the middle of two worlds, never really accepted by either.  
But the man staring back at her didn’t seem to curl his lip in disgust or crack a joke about her nappy hair. To him, it seemed she was more than just her race. He looked at her as though he saw beauty and nothing more.  
“So did you grow up between households?” he asked, making it sound like her parents had been divorced and sharing custody.  
If only it had been as simple as that. Her father spent years denying she was his, only to rescue her when she needed him the most. “No. I lived with my mother’s family until I was eight. Then Dad took me in.” 
“And his wife was cool with that?” 
She nodded, the corners of her mouth rising up into a smile. She’d much rather talk about her relationship with her stepmother than her half-brother. “Denise has a big heart and raised me like I was her own daughter. She told me that she’d forgiven him and wouldn’t hold his mistake against me.” 
“Sounds like a good woman.” 
“She is. She’s as much my mom as she is Tre’s.” 
“Is she active with the foundation?” 
Kiana nodded. “As much as she can be. I think she’s still grieving over Dad, and anything associated with it seems to dredge up old memories.” 
“I can see that.” The serious Frank resurfaced for a moment. “My mom went through something similar after my dad passed away, but it gets better with time. I think keeping busy with her church and bridge club helped.” 
“Not to mention keeping seven boys out of trouble.” 
He laughed and covered her hand with his own. “Are you saying I’m trouble?” 
“Most definitely.” She found herself leaning closer and closer to him until their lips were inches apart.  
“But only the best kind, right?” 
He had no idea how correct he was. She knew the danger of giving into temptation, and yet her lips longed to touch his. Her mind cautioned that one kiss would be the beginning of a slippery slope, but her body decided it would be worth the risk. She closed her eyes and closed the gap between them. 
Frank’s lips were firm and demanding from the start, moving against hers with subtle variances of pressure that heated her blood and sent a thrill coursing through her veins. He kept the kiss in check, though, and that helped to rein in her own desires. They were in a public place, after all, and she needed to maintain her respectable image. 
But damn, if they were behind closed doors, she definitely would’ve indulged in what he had to offer.  
She caught the flash of a camera when she opened her eyes. The jolt chased away the warm, fuzzy feelings elicited by the kiss and left a chill of fear in its wake.  
Frank laced his fingers through the hand he’d been holding and cupped her cheek with his other one. “Relax,” he said in a soft, soothing voice. 
“But someone just took a picture of us kissing.” 
“Um-hmm.” He placed another of those feather-light kisses on her forehead. “Let them. Remember your plan.” 
Part of her wanted to pull away, but she feared what the repercussions might be if she did. “Did you just stage that kiss?” 
“Nope.” But the mischievous twinkle in his eyes told her he might have had something to do with the photographer. 
“Frank Kelly, you are something else.” 
“You don’t know the half of it.” 

I’m a little torn about this book. It was a quick read that I managed to finish during the weekend, and even though it’s part of a series, I had no problem following the story.
It’s a sports romance and I’ve come to love this genre, even though I know nothing about football. :) The hero is a quarterback and a bit of a playboy, too. He’s made himself a reputation on and off the field, and I’ll admit that this was something that turned me off a little, since I’m not particularly fond of womanizers. However, I love reading stories of redemption, and watching the player falling hard and fast for a woman who’ll change him and his ways forever, so I gave Frank the benefit of the doubt.
On the other hand, I liked the heroine, Kiana. I liked her strength and her determination, as well as her mama bear attitude toward her little girl.
The instant attraction worked well in this story, considering Frank’s persona, but I was happy to see that, instead of acting on this attraction, he holds back and tries to behave and treat Kiana right.
What didn’t work for me was that I could never really get hooked or completely connect with the characters. I wanted to read what happened next but I wasn’t really dying to know if they would get their happily ever after. When I reached the end I also felt there was something missing. Kiana’s ex was mentioned in the beginning and throughout the story she felt threatened by his presence, as well as during the final twist involving Kiana’s brother (and Frank’s teammate), Tre, but we were never really told what happened to him. It felt as if he suddenly disappeared without a trace.
I liked the ending, especially since it featured Savannah, but I felt it would’ve been nice to get to read a little more about Kiana meeting Frank’s family for the first time. It was like it ended too soon and it sort of left the reader hanging, wanting for more. I don’t know if this was intentional, because we will be reading more about this in another book, but I really felt like something was missing.
There are a couple of graphic scenes I could’ve done without, but if you’re not bothered by that, you’ll enjoy the story, because all in all it’s a cute tale of a player finally finding The One, and of a scarred woman learning to trust in men and in love again.





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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Blog tour: Untrue Colors by Veronica Forand

Untrue Colors
By: Veronica Forand
Releasing March 9th, 2015
Entangled Publishing

She’s on the run…

Brilliant art appraiser Alex Northrop’s ex used stolen art to fund his nefarious activities. Now he wants her dead. But it isn’t just herself she’s worried about – if he discovers who she really is, he’ll kill her family.

Professor Henry Chilton is shocked to find a beautiful stranger passed out in his bed, and even more so when she reveals a priceless painting is a forgery – the painting he’d planned to use to fund a woman’s shelter. She’s mysterious and frightened, and he is determined to discover why.

Alex's knowledge of art is undeniable—just as Henry’s attraction to her is irresistible. But in order to help him recover the real painting, Alex isn't just risking exposure...she's risking her life.

A Bostonian by birth, Veronica Forand regrettably lost her Boston accent while moving from state to state and country to country. Cleveland probably had the most profound effect on her ability to pronounce the “r” in the word “park.”
She does try to return now and then to visit family and eat long neck clams and lobster. Summers on Cape Cod are also high on the priority list.
Her experience in crime involves time as a court appointed attorney. Eventually, she switched fields to where bigger crimes take place, corporate tax. The allure of spending mornings in her pajamas homeschooling her children and writing fascinating fiction caused her to change careers again. Now that the kids are out of the house (in school), she writes romantic thrillers by day and is the perfect wife and mother at night.
Her experience in romance is limited to one man. Luckily, he’s still finding ways to charm her by taking her on vacations to the south of France, Fiji, and the Green Mountains when time is short. Avid travelers, they love to roam with their kids across continents in pursuit of skiing, scuba diving, and the perfect piece of chocolate.
She’s lived in London, Paris, Geneva, Washington D.C., and the accent destroying city of Cleveland. She currently resides near Philadelphia.

What began as a fairytale romance had morphed into a traumatic descent into hell. Luc had no problem stealing fine art and artifacts and using Alex’s expertise in appraisals to dupe art collectors and even small countries of their valuable assets. She had huge problems with those things.
While his main henchman, Pascal, drove them through Paris, Luc held her hand in the back of the Mercedes like they were still lovers. They appeared perfect for each other, a rich art collector and the young art appraiser who had fallen head over heels for him. Rugged good looks combined with an enormous amount of wealth made him an ideal catch for a woman who didn’t mind being beaten into submission. Alex minded.
Dressed in a thousand dollar suit and wearing a sophisticated five o’clock shadow across his chiseled features, Luc seemed headed out for a night at the theater, not on the way to eliminate his girlfriend. Alex leaned away from him. She needed to get away. His free hand caressed her arm, rubbed her shoulder, and pulled her back toward him. Moving slowly, seductively, he wrapped his fingers around her neck and started to squeeze. He stared at her, his eyes neither narrowing nor widening, only observing her reaction.
“I promise I won’t tell anyone. I swear it.” She pleaded for her life, speaking French, the only language they’d ever spoken to each other. As his hand tightened with her words, she gasped and struggled for breath.
Luc pulled her face closer to his. His lips pinched together, causing the muscles in his neck to tense. “Liar.”
The more she struggled to pull away, the more his grip tightened. No longer able to inhale, her eyes watered and her life began to fade. With nothing left to lose, she struck out at his face. He released her, but slapped her ear so hard, her head flew into the door. The pain ricocheted through her skull, leaving her numb for a moment.
She glanced out the window and saw salvation. As Pascal slowed for a turn, she opened the door and jumped. Her Chanel suit acted as her only protection when she hit the ground and bounced onto the road. Asphalt scraped her skin with each rotation until she slammed into the curb. Pain rebelled in ribs not yet healed from her fall down Luc’s marble stairway. Car brakes screeched nearby. In seconds, they would be on her. She hobbled to her feet, sucking in huge breaths.
Alex merged into the manic crowd entering the Gare du Nord at rush hour. She dodged men and women in suits, groups of school children, and what felt like hundreds of tourists. With her passports tucked in a travel belt under her skirt and several hundred euros in her possession, she boarded the high-speed train for London and prayed he wouldn’t follow her.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Blog tour: Bad For Me by Codi Gary

Bad for Me
Rock Canyon # 5  
By: Codi Gary
Releasing April 7, 2015
Avon Impulse 

Codi Gary returns with another fabulous Rock Canyon romance: when veteran marine Everett Silverton meets the town’s smooth-voiced DJ Callie Jacobsen, sparks fly—but is passion enough to give these wounded souls another chance at love?

Callie Jacobsen isn't about to open her heart to just anyone. Not so very long ago, trusting someone changed her life forever—and not in a fun way. Now she's better off focusing on her career, her friends, and her dog. So when former Marine Everett Silverton takes an interest in her, Callie's more than a little wary. No matter how charming he is, men are a bad idea. In fact, she's got the scars to prove it.

But Everett isn't convinced Callie should shut everyone out—especially not him. He may be a hero to the people of Rock Canyon, but he's got his own demons, and he bets they're not that different from Callie's. Still, he knows it's going to take more than chemistry to get her to let her guard down. Everett will do whatever it takes to show her she's safe with him. All she has to do is take a chance, take a step … and take his hand.

An obsessive bookworm, CODI GARY likes to write sexy small-town contemporary romances with humor, grand gestures, and blush-worthy moments. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading her favorite authors, squealing over her must-watch shows, and playing with her children. She lives in Idaho with her family.

Hello Codi! Welcome to Roberta’s Dreamworld and thank you for your time. First of all, tell us something about yourself, both as a writer and as a person.

Hey Roberta and everyone! Thank you so much for having me! As far as me as a person, I grew up in Nor Cal and moved to Idaho with my husband and two young children about 4 years ago. I love country music, white chocolate mochas, Italian food, and dessert. I love to read and watch my favorite shows, and as a write, I love to write small town romance, and funny, flawed characters who are real enough to live down the street.

How/when did you realize you wanted to become a writer?

I actually knew since I was eleven that I wanted to write. I used to read constantly, at least six books or more a week and suddenly, I had all these voices and stories in my head begging to get out.

Let’s speak about “Bad for Me”. We’ve read the synopsis but can you tell us a little more about what the book is about?

Absolutely. Everett and Callie had been on my mind a year before I wrote the book, and I knew what Callie’s back story would be before Everett was even created. Both of the characters have experienced trauma, but while Everett got help and dealt with it, Callie pushed it down and buried it, and it comes back to bite her in the butt. The thing I love about them is that they have this slow burn romance, where they approach each other warily and slowly the defenses fall and then, so do they. They are both flawed, and hold onto guilt for events beyond their control, but their struggles just make their happily ever after so much better for me.

How did you come up with the idea and how did you create the characters?

Callie has been rattling around in my head since The Trouble with Sexy, and I knew she would have a violent past, but I didn’t know the details until I started writing. The inspiration for Everett came from a news story I saw about Marines who were involved in a roadside bombing and to be honest, The Phantom of the Opera (one of my favorites.)

If you should describe your books in three words, what would you pick?

Funny. Heartwarming. Flawed.

Do you have any favorite authors and did they influence your choice of the genre?

Actually, most of my favorite authors are historical, so there was no influence as far as time period, but I did want to create laugh out loud moments like Julia Quinn.

What else do you enjoy doing, when you’re not writing?

I am obsessed with my favorite shows, and would love a place where I could just blog about them and my thoughts. Outside of that, I love reading, scrapbooking, knitting, and stalking social media.

As a writer do you get support from your family and friends?

Definitely, my family is amazing. My husband really steps up, especially when I’m on deadline, with the kids and the house, and my parents, and siblings buy and read my books, which is awesome! I even have friends who hate reading that buy and talk about my books, just to support me, and I love them for it.

What are your dreams and plans for your future as a writer?

I just want to have a long, successful career and continue to entertain people. My favorite thing is when readers write me to tell me how much they loved my characters or a particular book. So, I guess my dream is, more of that. Lol

Would you like to say something to the readers to encourage them to read your books?

I hope you give this series a try. I try to write realistic, sympathetic characters that are definitely flawed and never perfect, but love isn’t about perfection. It’s about finding that imperfect person who loves you perfectly.


“I’ve almost got it.”
“Thank you. This was really nice of you, especially when I haven’t given you a reason to be.”
Everett looked up at her, wiping the rain off his face so he could meet her gaze. “You seem to assume that just because people are kind to you, they want something. Sometimes people help because it’s the right thing to do.”
Her gaze shifted away, and he went back to tightening the nuts on the wheel. He’d said his piece, but knew he wasn’t going to convince Callie with words that his intentions were honorable.
He had to prove it to her.
When he finished, he released the jack and gathered up all the tools, sliding them back in the spare tire kit. “I’ll put this and the new tire in the back, and you’ll be good to go. I’ll haul this one off to the dump for you.”
She knelt down next to him and took the kit from him, their fingers brushing. Despite the chill of their skin, heat sizzled between them, sending a shot of awareness down his throat. Her blonde curls were wet and falling out of her messy top knot, and drops of rain were clinging to her cheeks. Before he could stop himself, he traced the pad of his thumb across one, catching the cool droplet on his skin. Her amber eyes widened, and he dropped his hand, cursing his impulse.
“Sorry. You had something on your cheek.”
Callie cleared her throat and stood up. “It’s okay.”
He climbed to his feet and couldn’t help wondering if she’d felt something too. Was that why she kept pulling away?
But if she didn’t want him, why was he pushing?
Because she doesn’t treat you like a defective puppy she’d have to fix.
Grabbing her spare tire from the back of his truck, he slid it into the back of her Jeep. She stood back as he closed the door, and he could tell she was nervous—her hands kept twisting.
“Well, you’re all set. You should get home and change out of those wet clothes. If you get sick, I’ll have to listen to one of those ridiculous weekend deejays, and they play nothing but crap.”
Everett started to head back to his truck, but she caught his hand. “Hey.”
Just the touch of her hand sent his heart from a trot to a gallop. He loved the way her soft skin wrapped around his.
Facing her, he waited, afraid to move a muscle and scare her off.
But she moved so fast, he wasn’t prepared when her lips brushed the scarred side of his face. He stiffened as the warmth seeped through his cheek, his stomach twisting up as a thousand thoughts and insecurities made him wince. Had the roughness repelled her? Why hadn’t she picked the untouched side?
“Thank you. For being kind.”
Callie dropped his hand and ran to her car, as if afraid he would come after her. As she started it and pulled forward, he was finally able to move again, backing up a ways to watch her disappear down the road.
Everett’s hand came up to rest against his cheek, and he realized that he’d lied to Callie when he said he didn’t want anything from her.
He wanted everything.


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Friday, April 10, 2015

Book review: Too Hot To Handle by Katie Rose

As approved reader for Loveswept on NetGalley, I had the chance to download this book a few weeks ago, when I discovered it during the blog tour. I’ve developed a thing for baseball romance, and even though I hadn’t read the previous book in this series, I found the blurb intriguing, so I decided to give it a chance.

Nikki isn’t your typical damsel in distress who needs Prince Charming to sweep her off her feet. She’s divorced and has had to work hard to pay her ex-husband’s debts, so she’s not one to easily fall for men’s charm.

Jake, on the other hand, is the typical womanizer who knows he can use and dispose of women as he pleases—definitely not my cup of tea, as you know if you’ve read any of my reviews.

When Nikki is hired as PR rep to save the reputation of Jake’s baseball team, and change their image from thugs to professional players, Jake’s teammates place a bet: if he can make Nikki fall in love with him, Jake will win the best locker.

Jake has no doubt he can make Nikki fall for him in a matter of hours, but when she rejects him without even blinking, his confidence falters. Maybe it’s because she’s not drooling over him like every other woman he’s met, but Jake makes it his mission to change her mind.

Nikki is not looking for a man, especially not a womanizer who can’t commit to a serious relationship, but when they first meet, something sparks between them and she finds herself questioning her decision of staying away from him.

Once she caves and decides to get him off her system by accepting his attempts at seductions, things get even more complicated. It was supposed to be a no-strings attached affair, but she quickly realizes she can’t hide her feelings when she sees the real person behind the jock everyone knows.

Jake has a big character growth in this book. When he first enters the story, I didn’t like him in the least. He seemed very superficial, the stereotypical baseball hotshot who plays with women’s hearts and never cares about anyone else but himself and his big ego.
As the story progresses, though, and Joaquin (a young Hispanic boy) enters the picture, things start to change and I saw him through different eyes. I loved seeing how he changed, how he grew up and became a real man, capable of committing, of taking care of other people without expecting anything in return.

As for Nikki, my heart broke a little for her when she realized that she had feelings for him even though she knew he’d never be in for the long run. I liked her determination and her strong will, and she really made for a very relatable heroine.

The one thing that, guess what, didn’t work too well for me was the amount of graphic, very detailed scenes. I could’ve done with their first time being a little more descriptive, if it was necessary to make the reader understand their chemistry, but all the others were definitely too much for me. I would’ve liked the book without them all the same.

Anyway, if you’re not turned-off by this, you should pick up a copy of this book, and spend a few hours with a hot baseball player and a kickass heroine.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Book review: Secret Love by Christine Warner

If you have been following for a while, you'll probably remember this book, for which I'd hosted the book blast back in July. 
Back then, I'd received a copy for the event, but since I hadn’t signed up for the review, I’d almost forgotten about this book, until I found it in the ARC folder and, since I was looking for something quick to read while waiting for another ARC, I decided to try it.

What a super sweet read! 
I’ll admit that, when I read the blurb at first, I wasn’t all too keen to read it, as it is set in the fifties and I’m usually more a fan of contemporary romance. However, as soon as I started reading it I changed my mind. It doesn’t really give you the feel of being old-fashioned, and the heroine, Lizzie, is a strong woman who knows what she wants even at 23 and fresh out of college. 

I loved the first chapter, which is set ten years before the actual story. It’s when Lizzie, a thirteen-year-old tomboy, decides to declare her huge crush to Wayne, her brother’s friend who’s nearly eighteen. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess what Wayne’s reaction to her words is, and it makes you feel the urge to step into the book and hug Lizzie.

Fast forward ten years: Wayne is the principal of the school where Lizzie has started working as a teacher. Her crush for Wayne has meanwhile turned into something deeper and more mature, and she finds it hard to look at him without feeling all giddy.

What she’s not expecting is that in the meantime, Wayne has understood his feelings for her have evolved, and he’s not seeing her as a little girl anymore. Problem is: she’s his best friend’s little sister and he doesn’t want to overstep a border that might potentially ruin his friendship.

Will they confess their feelings for each other and live happily ever after? You won’t know unless you read it (my lips are sealed!). 

I’m so happy that I had the chance to read this story. If you’re looking for a sweet, clean (at last!) and romantic read that will warm your heart, this is definitely the book for you.