Monday, April 25, 2016

Blog tour: Welcome Home Cowboy by Annie Rains

A Hero's Welcome Book Two
Annie Rains
Releasing April 26th, 2016

With its thriving military base, Seaside, North Carolina, is teeming with heroes of all stripes. But, as the Hero’s Welcome series from Annie Rains continues, it takes a cowboy to rescue the town’s newest resident from heartache.

After a bad breakup leaves Julie Chandler completely devastated, she comes to Seaside seeking a fresh start. A talented, compassionate yoga teacher, she has developed a program to help alleviate the effects of PTSD, but getting a bunch of bullheaded Marines into downward facing dog might be impossible. So Julie’s shocked when one of her first students dives in headfirst—and almost tempts her to take down her walls with his easy smile and electrifying touch.

Ever since Texas cowboy turned Marine pilot Lawson Phillips lost a crew member in a helicopter accident, he hasn’t been able to fly. When a psychologist orders him to attend, of all things, a yoga class, Lawson’s outraged—until he finds out Julie is the instructor. She’s beautiful, graceful, and completely guarded when it comes to his advances, but he’s determined to find out what makes her tick. Because underneath Julie’s hard shell is a woman Lawson knows he could fall for—and he’s not ready for the ride to end.

I loved Welcome To Forever so much I wasn't sure I'd ever manage to like another book half as much. Annie Rains didn't disappoint with this new story, and pulled me right into the book, making me fall in love once again with her characters, the small town setting and an emotional story that made my heart soar. I think I'll never get enough of this series!

Lawson and Julie were secondary characters in book one: Lawson was Micah's best friend, while Julie was Kat's little sister. I liked Lawson's funny and a little cocky attitude in book one, and Julie's personality, and I greedily waited to get my hands on their book. I was glad I haven't had to wait too long!

Just like the previous book, this story is set in a small, military community in North Carolina but what makes it even more intriguing than Welcome To Forever is that Lawson is not only a marine but also a cowboy. Two of my favorite types of heroes mixed into one. . . Wham! You've got the right ingredient for an ultra-hot hero that will sweep you off your feet from the moment he enters the story. And what an entrance! I was mortified and laughing at the same time. Julie and Lawson's is definitely a great meet-cute.

Julie is getting over a heartbreak, and now that she's back in her hometown and living in her sister's house, she needs to get back on her feet, find a job and recover from the blow she took only months before. Yoga helped her a lot, and she wants to use her knowledge and passion for the discipline to help the soldiers on the base, especially those who suffer from PTSD. If only she could convince the old, tough owner of the veteran center to give her a chance, she knows she could make a difference.

Lawson is recovering from a war injury and fighting PTSD even though he insists he's okay. He's determined to go back to active duty, but he can't step near a helicopter without panicking. He knows if he can't get his head back in the game, he'll be moved to another base, leaving his sister and little niece behind. He's a tortured soul with a huge heart, who's hiding behind a tough marine and cocky cowboy fa├žade. He's an utterly adorable book boyfriend!

I loved reading Lawson and Julie's interactions. His first yoga class was hilarious, even though I wanted to swat the back of his head, and wished Julie would kick him out. When they started getting closer, my heart swelled at the sweet, romantic and funny scenes. What I liked about these two was that they never failed to bring a smile to my face. Their banter was sweet, sometimes sexy and sometimes downright romantic. Page after page I felt a little closer to them, felt Lawson's pain and fear of failure, of failing his sister, his niece and even Julie. I felt Julie's insecurities, her struggle to stay away from Lawson even as he was all she could think about. I loved the building of the romance between them, and was pained when they reached their dark moment and everything seemed lost.

Just like in book one, Annie Rains has a way of pulling the reader into the story; with every story I feel like she's wrapping a warm, fuzzy blanket of emotion around me and taking me on a beautiful journey toward a happily ever after that won't fail to leave me with a contented smile and a heart full of emotions. 

I laughed, and suffered and then swooned all along with them, and when I reached the last page, I considered writing an e-mail to the author, begging her to write a few more chapters, because I just didn't want to let go yet. I needed more Lawson and Julie! As well as more Micah and Kat - which I partially got, with her free short story (by the way, thank you, Annie!)

I truly loved this book. I could go on and on about the many reasons why I loved this book, but sometimes words just aren't enough (which, coming from a writer sounds a little weird). Just trust me when I say all you really need to do is read this book asap!

If you've read Welcome To Forever, I have no doubt you'll enjoy this book just as much. If you still have to discover Annie Rains book, Welcome Home Cowboy works perfectly as a standalone, but I recommend reading book one, too once you've finished this, just because it's a wonderful story! (read my review). 

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Annie Rains is a contemporary romance author who writes small town love stories set in fictional towns on the coast of North Carolina. Raised in one of America's largest military communities, Annie often features heroes who fight for their countries, while also fighting for a place to call home and a good woman to love. When Annie isn't writing, she's spending time with her husband and 3 children, or reading a book by one of her favorite authors. Represented by Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost Literary Agency (NYLA).

Hi Annie, welcome to Roberta's Dreamworld! First of all, tell us something about yourself, both as a writer and as a person.

I have always loved romance, books, and rain! Mix them all together (reading a romance book while it’s raining) and I am blissfully happy!  (note by Roberta: I love reading when it's raining outside!)

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

I started writing stories when I was around 6 years old. I’ve always wanted to write!

Can you tell us a little more about what the book is about?

WELCOME HOME, COWBOY is book 2 in my Hero’s Welcome series. This one follows Lawson Phillips, who was introduced in book 1. Lawson is showing symptoms of PTSD and he’s been ordered to take a yoga class from the heroine (Julie Chandler) to help with his stress. He’s not happy about taking a yoga class until he gets a good look at the instructor. 

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

Lawson came to life in my book 1, WELCOME TO FOREVER. I knew I wanted him to have his own book. He’s charming and easygoing in book 1 as Micah’s friend. I wanted to turn his world upside down a bit and see how he handled it—thus, I put him in a fiery helicopter crash. Julie is the sister of my book 1’s heroine. She is introduced in book 1 as well. I believe I was pregnant with my 3rd child at the time, and I couldn’t wait to start exercising and get back into shape. So I made Julie a health-conscious yoga instructor that I could live vicariously through!

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

Heartfelt. Sweet. Emotional.  (note by Roberta: I agree with Annie on all three)

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

As I said earlier, I have 3 young children. When I’m not writing, I enjoy doing things with them! We love to play board games and watch superhero movies together!

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

When I pick up a book, I want it to make me laugh and cry in equal proportion. I want to feel something, whether it be love or joy or sadness! That’s what I strive to give my readers when I’m writing, too. I’m my own first reader after all. If I’m not laughing or crying while I’m reading my own book, I revise. And revise again. If these are the kinds of books you’re looking for as a reader, then I urge you to give mine a shot (preferably cozied up somewhere listening to the rain :) )

Thank you so much for the interview, Roberta! (It was my pleasure, Annie!)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Book review: A Better Man by Candis Terry

I read and enjoyed three novels of the Sweet, Texas series by this author and I was curious to discover this new series. I was lucky enough to win a copy at her Facebook party, so it immediately went at the top of my priority list (I would've never thought I'd say this one day but, yes, I do have a priority list in my Kindle, for the books I want to read before the other four-hundred something I have no recollection of ever downloading... I wonder if this qualifies as compulsive book hoarding?).

Anyway, I started this new series with an open mind and no expectations, like I always do with a new series, and I was immediately pulled into the story. I liked that, for once, the book starts with the hero instead of the heroine, and pulls the reader into the hero's world before we get to meet the heroine. Jordan is a hockey star whose only goal is to continue his successful career, away from his hometown and his big family. When both his parents are killed while on vacation, he's forced to leave everything and rush home to save the family winery.

I have to admit I'm not a fan of players (not the "sports" kind of player, but the "playboy" one), so I was extremely wary about Jordan at first. A hot hockey player who likes to hop from one bed to another? Uh, sorry, not my cup of tea. Well, I ended up with a major crush on him before I even got to reach the end of chapter 2, and wanted to jump into the book and hug him. 

The man who comes off as cocky and shallow, turns out to be the outcast in his family, the one who always put his hockey career first and left his family behind. His goal to make it in the hockey world put a huge distance between him and his family and he only truly gets to realize how alone he is when he comes home for his parents' funeral and sees he's in none of the family pictures. That scene truly broke my heart. 

It was the only photo in the room with a single person in it. He blinked when he realized how loudly it defined his life.
All the photos placed around the room showed his family living life and having fun.
Without him.
His fault, not theirs.
Be careful what you wish for.
In that moment he realized what he'd missed and he wanted it back.

Lucy had a tough childhood, and she left her hometown as soon as she could, only to end up married to the first guy who showed interest in her. Three years into the abusive marriage, she decides it's time she took back her life. When she returns to her hometown, she's changed her last name and, since she was the nerd nobody ever looked twice at, she can go back to living unnoticed while doing a job she loves. Meeting Jordan Kincade after the way he humiliated her ten years before brings back all kinds of feelings. She just wishes she could hate him, that she could be immune to his charm but the moment he steps into her classroom, she knows this is going to be an impossible task.

It was all she could do to keep her heart at a normal pace and her legs solidly beneath her. If ever a man could be described as delicious, Jordan Kincade would be a menu's specialty of the day.
Too bad he was such a jerk.

Then there's Nicole, Jordan's teen sister who's the link between him and Lucy. She's hurt and hates Jordan's guts, so she's set on making his stay at Sunshine Valley a living hell. If becoming responsible for his younger sister wasn't enough of a tough job for him, the financial situation of the family winery is a mess and the Kincade brothers will also have to deal with a huge amount of money being stolen while their parents were still alive. A little bit of suspense and mystery was a nice added element to the story. Well done, Mrs. Terry!

Jordan realizes all he's lost while he's been away, and is determined to stay and really be part of the family, as well as help his sister get over her school problems, with a little assistance from Lucy. 
Working together so closely will not only be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but when they finally surrender to the attraction, well, what can I say: things will get steamy
There's a lot of character growth, both for the hero and the heroine, and I enjoyed following their journey to their happily ever after.

The side characters are mainly always the other Kincade brothers, and I have to say I really enjoyed reading their family moments—the sibling banter was really funny. I enjoyed getting to know the Kincades, and I'm curious to discover each brother's story. The excerpt at the end of the book promises another page turner. 

A Better Man isn't just a book about two people falling for each other and acting on their feelings; it is a story of redemption, of making up for the mistakes of the past and of strong family bonds. It's funny, romantic and quite sexy at some point—prudish me could've done without the steamy scenes, but the story is beautiful, the characters are relatable and the dialogues are entertaining, so this definitely deserves 4 stars, even though it made me blush a little every now and then.

If you're looking for a sexy and romantic weekend read, A Better Man would be a good pick, especially if you've enjoyed the Sweet, Texas series by the author. New town, new brothers, but always handsome and swoon worthy. 

For him, Lucy was like that special gold foil-wrapped chocolate in a box of assorted treats. You didn't know exactly what you were going to get until you unwrapped it and took a bite.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Book review: Worth It All by Claudia Connor

I started and deleted this review a few times already, since everything I wrote seemed just dull. The McKinney Brothers series by Claudia Connor grabbed my heart from the very first page of book one, and with each new book, I’m pulled deeper into this amazing family that I wish I could be part of (namely, by marrying one of these awesome McKinney men), so much so that before reading JT’s story, I went back and re-read book one and two, in a sort of McKinneys marathon.

I loved JT’s story (although I had no doubt I would) and I really wanted to write a great review that would help people understand what they’re missing if they haven’t read it already.

When I love a book, I usually tend to ramble on and on about it, explaining all the things I loved about the book, the parts that made me laugh, the writing style of the author, and stuff like that, which usually end up in a long, wordy review.

Well, with this book I can’t seem to be able to write a proper review because all I feel like saying is: buy this book. Seriously, just trust me and one-click. Why? First of all, because it features the other McKinney brothers from the previous books (and this should be enough for you to stop reading this review and purchase the book) and because this story is one beautiful mix of emotions, romance, just the right amount of steam and some funny interactions between the hero and the heroine’s daughter that won’t fail to bring a smile to your face.

You can read this book even if you haven’t read book one and two, but I’m pretty sure that once you’ve met the McKinneys, you’ll want to go back and meet the other brothers, too.

Even though my heart still belongs to Matt, the handsome Navy SEAL with a heart of gold who starred in book one, Worth The Fall, I was surprised at how much I loved JT, the youngest McKinney and the one that had fewer appearances in the previous book (he briefly showed up in book one, and was only mentioned in book two). After finishing book two, I was really curious to read JT’s story and I adored the way the author crafted his story.

All the McKinney brothers are hot, each in his own way: Matt is the strong, bulky Navy SEAL who falls for a mother of five and all of her kids; Stephen is the handsome, brooding millionaire who thinks he’s not worthy of another person’s love because he’s too broken; then there’s JT, the nerdy, super cute biomedical engineer. Rest assured, ladies, you’re so going to fall in love with the youngest McKinney!

JT went through some personal tragedy 8 years ago, that left him scarred for life and not only in a figuratively way. In the accident that changed his life, he lost the lower half of his leg and he closed himself off to love and to his family. The only McKinney living on the West Coast, JT has used his personal experience to create something that could help other disabled people lead a normal life. 

Paige is a single mother who's worked hard all her life to give her little daughter a better childhood than she had. Between her job as a waitress, her studies and her daughter, she has no time for love - nor does she want it. Until she meets Jake, the handsome biomedical engineer who offers to help her daughter accepting her own prosthesis. 

His brown eyes melted her from across the room and his voice finished her off. The man should be illegal. Just his presence brought life to places inside her body she didn't even know could feel lively.

Get ready to be swept off your feet because, seriously, the interactions between JT and Casey are going to make your heart melt. Especially once JT becomes her own personal hero and she looks up at him for everything. Simply adorable!

In every book in the series there are super adorable kids who interact with the hero, and that make the McKinneys even hotter – because, honestly, is there anything more adorable than a bulky Navy SEAL playing Barbies with a three-year-old? That was one of my favorite scenes in Worth The Fall and it still makes me laugh whenever I read it.

In Worth It All, the interactions with Casey play an extremely important part in the story and in the hero’s growth, but they’re also the sweetest, most heart-warming scenes in all of the books. 

"Oh." Casey's gaze tracked along the table, bouncing from one thing to the next. "Do you like gum?"
"Yes," he answered, going with the whiplash change in topics.
"Do you like squirrels? I like how their tails twitch. Do you have a girlfriend?"
"Casey!" Paige's cheeks heated, and she hated how much she wanted to know the answer. "I'm sorry, she's inquisitive."
"That means I ask a lot of questions, but that's because I need to know stuff." She slipped off his lap to go look at more stuff.

I really loved this book, because even through the tragedy both characters experienced in their own way (and that broke my heart) the beauty of this story was seeing how love healed their scars and helped them believe in themselves to start living again. I loved watching JT fall in love when he'd all but denied himself the possibility to love and be loved. I loved seeing Paige loosen up and start to believe fairytales sometimes can come true. And Casey, well, she was the icing on the cake!
These characters will grab your heart and never let go until the very end. Get ready for a book hangover!

He'd never felt a kiss all the way to his heart.

Seriously, after a sentence like this, why are you still reading this review? Go buy this book now!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Blog tour: Heart Like Mine by Maggie McGinnis

Heart Like Mine
Echo Lake #2
By: Maggie McGinnis
Releasing April 5, 2016
St. Martin’s Press

Delaney Blair loves her job at Echo Lake's Mercy Hospital, where she's developed a reputation for being smart, fair, and driven. When she's assigned to cut funding, she has to temporarily relocate her office, put on borrowed scrubs, and go toe-to-toe with Dr. Joshua Mackenzie, the interim head of the pediatrics department. His killer smile and rock-star body are distractions Delaney could do without, but she's determined to stay focused while she brings his budget into line.

It's not working.

Beloved by his colleagues and patients alike, Josh is too busy caring for sick kids to talk numbers with the sexy, stiletto-clad Delaney. Every time they talk business, tensions run high…but so does a powerful attraction neither of them can ignore. When an emergency brings Mercy to its knees, Delaney and Josh must work together to save lives. But can they also find a way into each other's hearts?

I loved Maggie McGinnis' Whisper Creek series set in Montana, so when I saw she had a new series out (for some reason, I totally missed the release of the previous book and novella, shame on me!) I immediately signed up for the tour, because she's an author I really like, one who gives clean romance the exact amount of chemistry, tension and sexiness (is that even a word) to make it a compelling read you can't put down - and that prudish romance readers like me can enjoy without getting annoyed by long, graphic sex scenes meant to fill the gaps. 

Anyway, I'll admit that when I start a new series by an author I love, I'm always a little wary... It's a new setting, new characters, new stories. When I enjoy a series, I feel like the characters have become my friends, so just like making new friends can be hard, starting a new series and getting to know new characters is always a little challenge in itself - especially if you don't start from book one. 

My apprehension turned out to be totally unfounded. I immediately connected with Delaney and fell in love with Doctor Joshua Mackenzie from the second paragraph or so. All through the book I was curious to find out how the author would manage to give them a happy ending, considering at the beginning of the book they were on opposite sides. I loved discovering how things changed and page after page I connected even more with them, rooting for their happily ever after. 

Their journey includes some great side characters that gave the story some funny moments, some highly emotional ones and some I-want-to-slap-your-face ones (namely, as far as Delaney's colleague is concerned). I really enjoyed meeting Josie and Ethan (who starred in book one), the funny Italian family, the pediatrics nurses and patients, and Delaney's assistant (who I truly hope gets her own book at some point, because she'd make an awesome, hilarious heroine).

Like I said, this book doesn't include sex scenes, but that doesn't mean that there isn't chemistry or you can't feel the attraction between Delaney and Josh - when they are together, sparks fly! But I really enjoyed being able to concentrate on the story, on their attraction and their struggles to get their happy ending without getting distracted by long graphic scenes. One extra brownie point for this, Mrs. McGinnis! 

If you've enjoyed the Whisper Creek series and like Maggie McGinnis' writing, you will definitely enjoy this new series, too. If you've read book one and the novella in the Echo Lake series, it goes without saying you'll enjoy this one too. But if you haven't, fear not: you can enjoy Delaney and Joshua's story all the same. I did - but I'm definitely going back to read book one and the novella, asap. 

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USA Today bestselling author Maggie McGinnis is a Golden Heart Finalist who lives in New England, vastly outnumbered by both children and cats. She writes sweet romances set in Montana and Vermont, and feels extremely fortunate that through her books, she gets to fall in love every single day. She's a sucker for romantic comedies, popcorn, and the perfect green pen, and if she wasn't an author, she'd totally be rocking a Nashville club in her pink cowgirl boots. It's probably good that she embraced the author thing, because her singing skills are better suited to the shower, and really? Pink cowgirl boots?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Blog tour: Off The Hook by Laura Drewry

Off the Hook
Fishing for Trouble #1
By: Laura Drewry
Releasing April 12, 2016

Welcome to The Buoys, a West Coast haven where love comes in with the tide. Perfect for readers of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery, the Fishing for Trouble series features three unforgettable brothers—each of whom is a great catch.

Major league pitcher Liam O’Donnell knows his best days are probably behind him, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to retire and become a fishing guide. Still, after all the time he’s spent chasing his dreams, he owes it to his brothers to pull his weight around the lodge. The Buoys is their father’s legacy, and they can’t let some developer take it from them. The one snag Liam isn’t counting on is a blast from the past: his ex-wife.

The moment Kate Hadley steps out of the seaplane, she knows this assignment is going to be trickier than she thought. She has to persuade the owners to sell—and one of them is Liam O’Donnell. Ten years ago, she made the biggest mistake of her life when she married Liam during a fling in Vegas. Now he’s her only lifeline in the middle of nowhere. Kate’s trying to keep things cool, but Liam just reminds her of the scorching few nights they spent together—and tempts her to make new memories that are just as steamy as the old.

Wow. What a great start to a new series! Laura Drewry really started out with a bang with this novel featuring a hot baseball player, a strong-willed heroine and a beautiful, secluded setting (very romantic). Oh, and don't forget the handsome Irish brothers! Because, yes, I have an obsession for Ireland and knowing that one of my favorite authors started a series about three Irish brothers, well, you'll understand why I couldn't wait to get my hands on those books! 

If you're a fan of Laura Drewry and have read her Friends First series, you won't be disappointed by the Fishing For Trouble series. Her ability to pull the readers into her fictional world and make them feel as if they're right there, looking as the story unfolds from only a few steps away is an element of this book, too. The characters are real, flawed, scared to acknowledge their true feelings, wary, hopeful, strong-willed and sometimes they're just so funny you'll be laughing out loud along with them. Most importantly, they're relatable. They're just normal people who work hard to pursue their dreams, trying to make the best out of what life handed them and learning from their mistakes.

The start of the story is a little awkward, because when Kate sets foot on the small piece of land where The Buoys is located and she realizes that the owner is none other than her ex-husband - the husband who sneaked away into the night the day after their Vegas wedding - she's torn between hightailing it back to her high-rise office in the city and staying just to prove she's over him.
Liam is just as shocked when he sees Kate and, if I have to be completely honest, when I realized what he'd done to Kate, I was totally "Team Kate" and hated him alongside her. But when I discovered the real reasons behind his escape ten years before and how he still felt about her, I couldn't help falling a little bit in love with him. 

I enjoyed their banter, the constant push and pull kept me turning page after page. What I truly loved was the remote setting. It was so beautiful and romantic, and even though one would think: "How on earth is she going to write a whole novel set 98% in a fishing lodge with nothing but water and trees?", I have to admit that while I was reading I wished so bad I could move there forever. That's another brownie point for Mrs. Drewry, who managed to write an entertaining, romantic, swoony and sexy book (watch out for the bonfire when Kate and Liam surrender to the attraction... it's sizzling hot!) set in a remote fishing lodge with nothing but the characters themselves to provide entertainment; all the while she remained true to her beautiful writing style we all fell in love with when reading the Friends First series.

If you've yet to discover Laura Drewry's books, this book will make you fall in love with her stories. If you've adored her previous series, this one won't disappoint you. 
I can't wait for book two!

They were almost to her cabin when she shocked the hell out of him by slipping her hand under his arm and nudging his shoulder with hers.

“You’re still a hotshot pitcher, you know. Don’t talk about that in the past tense.”

Liam blinked hard, then leaned in and pressed a slow kiss against her cheek. Half an inch, that’s how close he was to those soft, warm lips he remembered all too well, but no matter how much he ached to taste them again, he forced himself to pull back and smile down at her.

Besides his agent—who didn’t count, because Liam paid him to say it—Kate was the first and only one to even suggest he might have something left, and if she’d said it any other time or any other way, he might not have believed she was sincere.

But looking at her now, with her foot up on the porch, ready to go inside, there wasn’t the slightest trace of doubt in her eyes, just those damn bits of amber flickering like little beacons.

“I, uh . . .” Blowing out a hard breath, Liam shoved both hands through his hair, locked his fingers together, and took a step back. “I better go. It’d really screw things up here if we woke up married tomorrow.”

“Right. Good thinking,” she said, her mouth curling into a slow, knowing smile. “’Cause I promise you this, I won’t be nearly as nice the next time you divorce me.”

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USA Today Bestselling author, Laura Drewry had been scribbling things for years before she decided to seriously sit down and write. After spending eight years in the Canadian north, Laura now lives back home in southwestern British Columbia with her husband, three sons, a turtle named Sheldon, and an extremely energetic German shepherd. She loves old tattered books, good movies, country music, and the New York Yankees.

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