Home Sweet Christmas by Susan Mallory #bookspotlight #christmas #romance #excerpt @harlequinbooks

HOME SWEET CHRISTMAS

Author: Susan Mallery

ISBN: 9781335934000

Publication Date: October 4, 2022

Publisher: HQN

Book Summary:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery’s second book set in the small town of Wishing Tree, Washington is the witty and heartfelt story of two friends who expectedly find the person–and the place in which–they belong this Christmas, for fans of Elin Hildebrand, Robyn Carr, and Susan Wiggs.

This small-town life wasn’t supposed to be for Camryn Neff. But after her mother died, Camryn moved home to Wishing Tree, Washington to care for her teenaged twin sisters and run the family wrapping paper business, Wrap Around the Clock. She loves her sisters and would do anything for them but, when they head off to college, she’s excited to move back to Chicago and restart her real life, completely attachment-free. So when a prospective client schedules a meeting and announces Project: Jake’s Bride, a plot to find a wife for her son, Camryn is completely disinterested. And when this client announces that Camryn is a candidate, she’s horrified. Being tied down is the last thing Camryn needs right now. She has no choice but to tell Jake what his mom is planning. But Camryn never expected to genuinely like him so much…

River Best knows all about the danger of keeping secrets. After all, she’s had her heart broken and her world rocked by secrets a few times now and she won’t ever let it happen again. New to Wishing Tree and a little shy, River is looking to get involved in the community so she lets her friends talk her into running for Snow Queen, one of the town’s honorary hosts of all Christmas events. She never expected to be drawn to Dylan Tucker, her Snow King. As the season progresses, River starts to trust him more and more and wonders if he’s the one. But little does River know that Dylan is keeping a secret from her, one that threatens everything between them.

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 ragdoll cat and adorable poodle who think of her as mom. Visit Susan online at http://www.susanmallery.com.

Author Website: https://www.susanmallery.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanMallery

Twitter: https://twitter.com/susanmallery 

Instagram: https://instagram.com/susanmallery 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/susanmallery 

Buy Links:

BookShop: https://bookshop.org/books/home-sweet-christmas-9781335449986/9781335449986 

Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781335934000_home-sweet-christmas.html    

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/home-sweet-christmas-susan-mallery/1140803095?ean=9781335934000 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Home-Sweet-Christmas-Susan-Mallery/dp/1335934006/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2OROAW8YH5DNX&keywords=home+sweet+christmas&qid=1664471578&qu=eyJxc2MiOiIxLjM5IiwicXNhIjoiMS4yMSIsInFzcCI6IjEuMTUifQ%3D%3D&sprefix=home+sweet+christmas%2Caps%2C79&sr=8-1 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Home-Sweet-Christmas/Susan-Mallery/9781335934000?id=8292090795540

Excerpt

one

“Your teeth are lovely, Camryn. Did you wear braces as a child?”

Camryn Neff reminded herself that not only was the woman sitting across from her a very wealthy potential client, but also that her mother had raised her to be polite to her elders. Still, it took serious effort to keep from falling out of her chair at the weirdness of the question.

“No. This is how they grew.”

Hmm, that didn’t sound right, although to be honest, she didn’t have a lot of experience when a conversation turned dental.

She refocused her mind to the meeting at hand. Not that she knew for sure why Helen Crane, leader of Wishing Tree society, such as it was, and sole owner of the very impressive Crane hotel empire, wanted to meet with her. The summons had come in the form of a handwritten note, inviting her to the large, sprawling estate on Grey Wolf Lake. Today at two.

So here Camryn was, wearing a business suit that had been hanging in her closet for over a year. The dress code for Wishing Tree retail and the dress code for the job in finance she’d left back in Chicago were very different. While it had been fun to dust off her gorgeous boots and a silk blouse, and discover her skirts still fit, she was ready to get to the point of the invitation.

“How can I help you, Mrs. Crane?” she asked.

“Helen, please.”

Camryn smiled. “Helen. I’m happy to host a wrapping party, either here or at the store. Or if you’d prefer, I can simply collect all your holiday gifts and wrap them for you.”

She casually glanced around at the high ceilings of the sitting room. There was a massive fireplace, intricate molding and a view of the lake that, even with two feet of snow on the ground, was spectacular. And while there were lovely fall floral displays on several surfaces, there wasn’t a hint of Christmas to be found. Not in Wishing Tree, eight days before Thanksgiving. Those decorations didn’t appear until the Friday after.

“I have some samples for custom wrapping paper,” she said, pulling out several sheets of paper from her leather briefcase. “The designs can be adjusted and the colors coordinated with what you have planned for this holiday season. Wrapped presents under a tree are such an elegant touch.”

“You’re very thorough,” Helen murmured. “Impressive.” She made a note on a pad. “Are you married, dear?”

“What?” Camryn clutched the wrapping paper samples. “No.”

Helen nodded. “Your mother passed away last year, didn’t she?”

A fist wrapped around Camryn’s heart. “Yes. In late October.”

“I remember her. She was a lovely woman. You and your sisters must have been devastated.”

That was one word for it, Camryn thought grimly, remembering how her life had been shattered by the loss. In the space of a few weeks, she’d gone from being a relatively carefree, engaged, happy junior executive in Chicago to the sole guardian for her twin sisters, all the while dealing with trying to keep Wrap Around the Clock, the family business, afloat. The first few months after her mother’s death were still a blur. She barely remembered anything about the holidays last year, save an unrelenting sadness.

“This year the season will be so much happier,” Helen said firmly. “Victoria and Lily are thriving at school. Of course they still miss their mother, but they’re happy, healthy young adults.” The older woman smiled. “I know the teen years can be trying but I confess I quite enjoyed them with Jake.”

Camryn frowned slightly. “How do you know about the twins?” she asked.

Helen’s smile never faded. “It’s Wishing Tree, my dear. Everyone knows more than everyone else thinks. Now, you’re probably wondering why I invited you over today.”

“To discuss wrapping paper?” Although even as Camryn voiced the question, she knew instinctively that was not the real reason.

Helen Crane was close to sixty, with perfect posture and short, dark hair. Her gaze was direct, her clothes stylish. She looked as if she’d never wanted for anything and was very used to getting her way.

“Of course you’ll take care of all my wrapping needs,” Helen said easily. “And I do like your idea of custom paper for faux presents under the tree. I’ll have my holiday decorator get in touch with you so you two can coordinate the design. But the real reason I asked you here is to talk about Jake.”

Camryn was having a little trouble keeping up. The order for wrapping and the custom paper was great news, but why would Helen want to discuss her son?

She knew who Jake was—everyone in town did. He was the handsome, successful heir to the Crane hotel fortune. He’d been the football captain in high school, had gone to Stanford. After learning the hotel business at the smaller Crane hotels, he was back in Wishing Tree, promoted to general manager of the largest, most luxurious of the properties.

They’d never run in the same circles back when they’d been kids, in part because she was a few years younger. She’d been a lowly freshman while he’d been a popular senior. Her only real connection with Jake was the fact that he’d once been engaged to her friend Reggie.

Helen sighed. “I’ve come to the conclusion that left to his own devices, Jake is never going to give me grandchildren. I lost my husband eighteen months ago, which has been very hard for me. It’s time for my son to get on with finding someone, getting married and having the grandchildren I deserve.”

Well, that put the whole “did you wear braces” conversational gambit in perspective, Camryn thought, not sure if she should laugh or just plain feel sorry for Jake. His mother was a powerful woman. Camryn sure wouldn’t want to cross her.

“I’m not sure what that has to do with me,” she admitted.

Helen tapped her pad of paper. “I’ve come up with a plan. I’m calling it Project: Jake’s Bride. I’m going to find my son a wife and you’re a potential candidate.”

Camryn heard all the words. Taken individually, she knew what Helen was saying. But when put together, in that exact way, the meaning completely escaped her.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“You’re pretty, you’re smart. You’ve done well at Wrap Around the Clock. You’re nurturing—look how you’ve cared for your baby sisters.” Helen smiled again. “I confess I do like the idea of instant grandchildren, so that’s a plus for you. There are other candidates, of course, but you’re definitely near the top of the list. All I need is confirmation from your gynecologist that you’re likely to be fertile and then we can get on with the business of you and Jake falling in love.”

“You want to know if I’m fertile?”

Camryn shoved the samples back in her briefcase and stood. “Mrs. Crane, I don’t know what century you think we’re living in, but this isn’t a conversation I’m going to have with you. My fertility is none of your business. Nor is my love life. If your plan is genuine, you need to rethink it. And while you’re doing that, you might want to make an appointment with your own doctor, because there’s absolutely something wrong with you.”

Helen looked surprisingly unconcerned. “You’re right, Camryn. I apologize. Mentioning fertility was going a bit too far. You’re the first candidate I’ve spoken to, so I’m still finding my way through all this.” She wrote on her pad. “I won’t bring that up again. But as to the rest of it, seriously, what are your thoughts?”

Camryn sank back on her chair. “Don’t do it. Meddling is one thing, but you’re talking about an actual campaign to find your son a bride. No. Just no. It’s likely to annoy him, and any woman who would participate in something like this isn’t anyone you want in your family.”

Helen nodded slowly. “An interesting point. It’s just they make it look so easy on those reality shows.”

“Nothing is real on those shows. The relationships don’t last. Jake’s going to find someone. Give him time.”

“I’ve given him two years. I’m not getting younger, you know.” Her expression turned wistful. “And I do want grandchildren.”

“Ask me on the right day and you can have the twins.”

Helen laughed. “I wish that were true.” Her humor faded. “Do you know my son?”

“Not really.”

“We could start with a coffee date.”

Camryn sighed. “Helen, seriously. This isn’t going to work. Let him get his own girl.”

“He’s not. That’s the problem. All right, I can see I’m not going to convince you to be a willing participant. I appreciate your time.” She rose. “I meant what I said about the wrapping. I’ll arrange to have all my gifts taken to your store. And my holiday decorator will be in touch about the custom paper.”

“Is the holiday decorator different from the regular decorator?” Camryn asked before she could stop herself.

Helen chuckled. “Yes, she is. My regular decorator is temperamental and shudders at the thought of all that cheer and tradition. He came over close to Christmas a few years ago and nearly fainted when he saw the tree in the family room.”

She leaned close and her voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper. “It’s devoted to all the ornaments Jake made for me when he was little. There are plaster handprints and little stars made out of Popsicle sticks. My favorite is a tuna can with a tiny baby Jesus in the manger tucked inside. There’s bits of straw and a star.” She pressed both hands to her heart. “I tear up thinking about it.”

Baby Jesus in a tuna can? Helen was one strange woman.

Camryn collected her briefcase and followed Helen to the front door. Helen opened it, then looked at her.

“You’re sure about not being a part of Project: Jake’s Bride?”

“Yes. Very.” Camryn kept her tone firm, so there would be no misunderstanding.

“A pity, but I respect your honesty.”

Camryn walked to her SUV and put her briefcase in the backseat. Once she was behind the wheel, she glanced at the three-story house rising tall and proud against the snow and gray sky.

The rich really were different, she told herself as she circled the driveway and headed for the main road. Different in a cray-cray kind of way.

She turned left on North Ribbon Road. When she reached Cypress Highway, she started to turn right—the shortest way back to town. At the last minute, she went straight. Even as she drove north, she told herself it wasn’t her business. Maybe Jake knew about his mother’s plans. Maybe he supported them.

Okay, not that, she thought, passing the outlet mall, then turning on Red Cedar Highway and heading up the mountain. She might not know Jake very well, but Reggie had dated him for months. Reggie was a sweetie who would never go out with a jerk. So Jake had to be a regular kind of guy, and regular guys didn’t approve of their mothers finding them wives.

Besides, she doubted Jake needed any help in that department. He was tall, good-looking and really fit. She’d caught sight of him jogging past her store more than once and was willing to admit she’d stopped what she was doing to admire the view. He was also wealthy. Men like that didn’t need help getting dates.

The sign for the resort came into view. She slowed for a second, then groaned as she drove up to the valet. Maybe she was making a mistake, but there was no way she couldn’t tell Jake what had just happened. It felt too much like not mentioning toilet paper stuck to someone’s shoe.

If he already knew, then it would be a short conversation. If he didn’t care, then she would quietly think less of him and leave. If he was as horrified as she thought he might be, then she’d done her good deed for the week and yay her. Whatever the outcome, she would have done the right thing, which meant she would be able to sleep that night. Some days that was as good as it was going to get.

Excerpted from Home Sweet Christmas by Susan Mallery. Copyright © 2022 by Susan Mallery. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

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September Escapes and Escapades #wrapup #bookreviews #septemberwrapup

Y’all! We went to San Diego to see the St. Louis Cardinals play and it was amazing! The pictures do not do it justice. AND WE SAW A WHALE! To say we had a blast is an understatement

Lots to see and do! Check out this gorgeous town with completely addicting weather!

Now…on to the escapes!

The Two Lives of Sarah
The Girl From Guernica
Other Birds
Skirts
The Blame Game
Til All These Things Be Done
The Boyfriend
An Affair of Spies
The Book Haters’ Book Club

The Matchmaker’s Gift

Snowed in for Christmas
Fall Guy
Lucky Streak
Girls Without Tears
Holidays in Virgin River

I also read this book for book club!

I will not be posting a review about it. But it is super good!

I also caught some great books on display in the airport…

https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZTRm9VPEU/

What did you read and enjoy for September!

Inquiring minds want to know!

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Holidays in Virgin River by Robyn Carr @harlequinbooks #christmasromance #romance #bookreviews

HOLIDAYS IN VIRGIN RIVER

Author: Robyn Carr

ISBN: 9780778387176

Publication Date: October 4, 2022

Publisher: MIRA

Overview

A special gift Christmas hardcover anthology of 2 Virgin River novellas by #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr plus an introduction from the author and select recipes and explanations of the holiday traditions celebrated in Virgin River.

Contains two Virgin River novellas: Under the Christmas Tree and Midnight Confessions along with at least 10 recipes and anecdotes written by Robyn Carr about why the recipes are special to specific characters from VR. We’ll also have an introduction written by Robyn explaining why she wrote Virgin River in the first place and why it resonates so strongly with audiences today. Examples of recipes are: The VR cookie exchange (Gingerbread cookies, Traditional Scottish Shortbread, Lemon Bars, Chocolate Chip Cookies) Hot drinks to enjoy as they decorate the town Christmas tree (mulled wine, homemade hot chocolate) Preacher’s famous meatloaf and garlic mash, to name a few.

Review

I never know how to review a collection of short stories or novellas. I don’t want to talk about each story…I am too lazy for that 😂. So, here goes my generalization…ADD THIS TO YOUR LIST!

I enjoyed these novellas. This is the perfect interlude between heavy books. Of course, how could you go wrong with Virgin River stories. Add in the stray puppies, wonderful characters, and fabulous recipes and you have a great escape! Plus, it is set at Christmas! What’s not to love!

Need fabulous romance stories which will take you away to Virgin River…THIS IS IT! Grab your copy today!

I received these novellas from the publisher for a honest review.

Author Bio:

Robyn Carr is an award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than sixty novels, including highly praised women’s fiction such as Four Friends and The View From Alameda Island and the critically acclaimed Virgin River, Thunder Point and Sullivan’s Crossing series. Virgin River is now a Netflix Original series. Robyn lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Visit her website at http://www.RobynCarr.com.

Author Website: https://www.robyncarr.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Robyn-Carr-134368309920956/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RCarrWriter 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/robyncarrwriter/  

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/107767.Robyn_Carr?from_search=true

Buy Links:

BookShop: https://bookshop.org/books/holidays-in-virgin-river-romance-stories-for-the-holidays/9780778387176 

Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9780778387176_holidays-in-virgin-river.html    

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/holidays-in-virgin-river-robyn-carr/1141697248?ean=9780778387176 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Holidays-Virgin-River-Romance-Stories-ebook/dp/B09SVB8K6Q/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=holidays+in+virgin+river+robyn+carr&qid=1663355498&sprefix=holidays+in+vir%2Caps%2C384&sr=8-1 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Holidays-Virgin-River/Robyn-Carr/9780778387176?id=8292090795540 

Powell’s: https://www.powells.com/book/holidays-in-virgin-river-9780778387176

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Girls Without Tears by T.L. Finlay #audiobook #audiblebook #bookreview @dreamscapeaudio

Overview

When six-year-old Skye disappears from Everglades City, Noa is hesitant to return to her hometown to help with the search effort. Skye is the daughter of Noa’s ex, Zack, and Taylor, the girl he dumped her for. Going home also means facing the townspeople who have always misunderstood Noa’s medical condition, Congenital Insensitivity to Pain, and dealing with more of their ignorant comments. 

But returning home is just the beginning of Noa’s painful journey. When her childhood friend, Jamie, is assaulted by a vagrant, Noa intervenes in a violent counterattack—and the man’s fingerprints are found near Skye’s DNA. As Noa gets closer to the truth of who kidnapped Skye, she starts to uncover secrets about her hometown that she didn’t expect. 

Nothing and no one is what they seem in this small Florida backwater—and any good friend can quickly become a deadly enemy.

Review

Noa has a rare medical condition. She cannot feel pain. She left her small home town as soon as she was old enough because she was tired of all the drama. Well, when her ex boyfriend’s daughter is kidnapped, Noa decides to go home and help with the search.

I found Noa intriguing. She is very intelligent and as y’all know…I love a smart woman character. I also enjoyed her small hometown. The author nailed all that mess! And believe me, all small towns are basically alike. I laughed out loud in some places just because it was spot on! Especially Noa’s mother, I know quite a few like her!

I fluctuated between 4 and 5 stars on this one. The only reason for 4 stars is because it has been quite a long time since Noa has seen her ex boyfriend…from high school. So, it was a bit far fetched for there to be such a huge connection created throughout this tale. I did settle on 5 stars because of the intensity and the continuous twisting of what is actually happening where Skye is concerned. And this whodunit will keep you guessing!

Tarra Sands is the narrator and she sure knocks your socks off!

Need a book which is nonstop…THIS IS IT! Grab your copy today!

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.

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Lucky Streak by Tif Marcelo #romance #bookreview #tallpoppyauthors @tifmarcleo

Overview

From the USA Today bestselling author of Know You by Heartcomes a spirited romance set in the Heart Resort universe—a love story about fate, family, and second chances.

I never thought I’d see her again. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? But five years later, my casino fling is my new next-door neighbor.

A lot’s happened since we got acquainted in that hotel room. I finished out my military career, took a job with my estranged father, moved to the beach…the only thing that hasn’t changed is that Beatrice has always been on my mind. I can’t let her get away again. Lucky for me, she feels the same way.

Not so lucky, though, is our families’ business rivalry—and our resorts’ competition for the same property.

As much as I want to ride off into the sunset with Beatrice on the back of my bike, we want to make this work. And that means smoothing things out between our families.

If we thought finding each other after our night in Vegas was a long shot, this feud is about to give impossible a whole new meaning.

Review

Jackson has recently retired from the military. It has not been easy to find a job. So, he takes an offer from his very distant father. This takes him to Nags Head. Little does he know, this puts him right into the path of a long, lost acquaintance, Beatrice. Then the sparks fly…in more ways than one!

I fell in love with this author when I read North To You. I have been a fan ever since. Some have been better than others, but this book is one of my favorites! I absolutely fell in love with both of the main characters, Beatrice and Jackson. Plus..give me a book with family drama and I am a fan..I mean who doesn’t have that one person!

This book ticked a lot of boxes. I have already mentioned the family drama, but you also have a hot guy, Jackson. There is also a smart, hard working woman, Beatrice. Plus she has some very protective brothers. This adds to the tension! Add in the location of Nags Head and you have a pretty dang good read!

Need a romance you won’t soon forget…THIS IS IT! Grab your copy today!

I received this novel from the author for a honest review.

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Fall Guy by Archer Mayor @minotaurbooks #mystery #fiction #bookreview

Overview

In Archer Mayor’s Fall Guy, a body found in the trunk of a stolen car leads Joe Gunther and his team to crucial evidence in an infamous unsolved case from years past.

A high-end stolen car is discovered in Vermont. A car filled with stolen items from a far-flung two stage burglary spree. But it’s what is in the trunk that brings Joe Gunther and his team from the Vermont Bureau of Investigation. In the trunk is the body of burglar in question – one Don Kalfus. Complicating matters, while the body was found in Vermont, it appears he was probably killed in the next state over, New Hampshire.

The task force charged with finding out why Kalfus is murdered soon faces another problem. Within the pile of stolen cell phones found in the car is evidence of a notorious unsolved child abduction case from years earlier.

Now the seemingly simple case has become more complicated and deadly, leading Gunther’s team to be pulled from the New Hampshire coast to near the Canadian border as they attempt to find and capture the psychopath responsible for a tangled, historical web of misery, betrayal, and loss.

Review

Joe is called in to investigate a stolen car with a body in the trunk. The further he goes into the investigation the more twisted it becomes. Now, he is in the middle of an famous unsolved child abduction case.

I have not read any of this series and how I have missed it…I have no idea. It was a pretty dang good book. And I always love a quest. And this book is all about the quest to find the killer. I love Joe Gunter. He is smart and he has some pretty good side kick characters!

Ok y’all, this is number 33 in a series. So, once again, I ask, how many is too many? Inquiring minds want to know your thoughts!?!? I guess if the books keep selling just keep writing.

Need a good detective mystery novel…THIS IS IT!

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.

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Snowed in for Christmas by Sarah Morgan #romance #christmasromance #fiction @harlequinbooks

Overview

Morgan is a masterful storyteller…. For fans of Jojo Moyes, Taylor Jenkins Reid, and Stacey Ballis. —Booklist

What happens if the only Christmas celebration you want to attend is one you haven’t been invited to? USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan delights with this hilarious and heartwarming Christmas cracker of a novel!

A family gathering

This Christmas the Miller siblings have one goal—to avoid their well-meaning family’s endless stream of prying questions. Ross, Alice and Clemmie have secrets that they don’t intend to share, and they are relying on each other to deflect attention.

An uninvited guest

Lucy Clarke is facing a Christmas alone and the prospect of losing her job. Unless she can win a major piece of business from Ross Miller, the season promises to be anything but festive. She’ll just deliver her proposal to his family home and then leave. After all, she wouldn’t want to intrude on the Miller family’s perfect Christmas.

A Christmas to remember

When Lucy appears on the Miller family’s snow-covered Highland doorstep, she’s mistaken for Ross’s girlfriend. By the time the confusion is cleared up, they’re snowed in—she can’t leave, even if she wants to! But does she want to? As secrets spill out like presents from an overstuffed stocking and the chemistry between her and Ross ignites, this is going to be either Lucy’s worst Christmas ever or the best mistake of her life.

Review

Lucy is determined to land this account. The company she works for is struggling and they need this account to stay afloat. So, she gets a bright idea to show up at the family home of the CEO, Ross. Well, this does not turn out as expected. She is immediately drawn into a family drama and everyone thinks she is Ross’ girlfriend.

Well! It’s that time of year. I love Christmas romances and this one is wonderful! There is just something about Sarah Morgan. She takes you away to a magical place with fabulous characters, great setting and the sounds of Christmas.

I think my favorite thing about this novel is the setting of Scotland. We have a trip planned next year and I was eating up all the details of this unique country. Add in this funny family and I was hooked! This family had me cracking up on several occasions and of course, the romance is spot on!

Need the Magic of Christmas…THIS IS IT! Grab your copy today!

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.

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Hog Wild by Jonathan Woods – Book Spotlight @prbythebook #bookspotlight

Overview

Ray Puzo, the 34-year-old hero of this gonzo noir from Woods (Kiss the Devil Good Night), has been a professional killer for 17 years, most recently as a Special Forces sniper ‘hunting ragheads on the Afghan high desert’. He takes a job in the Texas hill country at the Cross Bar Ranch exterminating feral pigs that have been spoiling the ranch’s grazing land. Radiation from atom bomb tests together with other factors have made the hogs so intelligent they can speak English, stand on two legs, wield a knife, and fire automatic weapons. A large cast of zany characters live at the ranch, including Ray’s boss, the sexy Mrs. Amanda Cross, and her beautiful ‘nympho daughter’, Loretta. When not killing hogs, Ray spends his time having sex with Loretta and recovering from having sex with Loretta. A massive battle ensues after the hogs declare all-out war. Amid all the sex and violence, there are many excellent book and movie recommendations. Readers willing to loosen their inhibitions and jettison their good taste will get a lot of laughs out of this one.”
— Publishers Weekly

Ray Puzo, ex-Special Forces sniper, is hired to rid the vast Cross Bar cattle ranch in South Texas of its feral hog problem. Due to radiation and other pollution the hogs have become super-brainy. Faced with extinction, the hogs organize and fight back. Humans and hogs face off in an epic battle between good and evil—but who is good and who is evil is an open question.

Besides leading the charge against the hog uprising, Ray must navigate the Byzantine politics of the ranch’s eccentric aristocracy, including:

  • Mrs. Amanda Cross, reptilian ranch matriarch;
  • Ned Cross, her queer son;
  • Loretta Cross, her crackpot nympho daughter;
  • Old man Cross, paralyzed by a bullet through his spine;

And a supporting cast of cowpokes, vaqueros, schemers and ne’er-do-wells.

Part pulp noir. Part dystopian Gothic western. Part satiric magic realism antiwar sex farce, Hog Wild is the illegitimate offspring of a ménage à trois between and among Orwell’s Animal Farm, George Miller’s The Road Warrior and Verna Bloom of Animal House and High Plains Drifter fame.

HOG WILD is 
ANIMAL FARM meets 
ANIMAL HOUSE

“Somewhere on the spectrum between Chaucer and Mickey Spillane, Jonathan Woods’ Hog Wild is a deliciously bawdy frolic, drunk on its own exuberant language, and fearless to tread anywhere and everywhere.”
— Madison Smartt Bell, a National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and author of All Souls’ Rising, Straight Cut and Doctor Sleep

“Jihadist feral pigs, a nymphomaniac ranch heiress and an ex-military sniper converge on a South Texas cattle ranch. What could possibly go wrong?… Hog Wild is a surreal, Tarantino-esque feast of sex, violence and rock & roll.”
— Eric Freeze, author of Dominant Traits, Invisible Men and French Dive

“Hog Wild is a wild glorious ride and a fantastic feast of storytelling…Mixing the Gothic with the surreal, the western with pulp, it all comes together to make a wondrous read. Imagine William Golding through Orwell filtered by Elmore Leonard, you’d have this terrific book.”
— Ken Bruen, award winning author of London Boulevard, Blitz and the Jack Taylor crime novels, including most recently A Belfast Epiphany

“Men are pigs and pigs are men in Jonathan Woods’ rambunctiously clever romp of a novel, Hog Wild. Set on a vast cattle ranch in the badlands of South Texas, this is dystopian pulp-noir to smack your lips over.”
— Vicki Hendricks, Edgar-nominated author of Cruel Poetry, Miami Purity & Iguana Love

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jonathan Woods. I divide my time between Key West, FL and Dallas, TX. Whenever I have a little spare cash, I travel the world looking for story ideas. My stories involve sex, violence and craziness – stuff you read about every day in the metro section of your local newspaper or hear about on the late night TV news. 

I hold degrees from McGill University, New England School of Law and New York University School of Law and for many years practiced law for a multi-national high-tech company. My first stories appeared in Dogmatika, 3:AM Magazine, Plots with Guns, Thuglit, Pulp Pusher, the noir issue of Blackheart Magazine and in the recent anthologies Speedloader, Crime Factory: The First Shift, Noir @ the Bar Vol. 1 and Murder in Key West

I am the author of the collection of noir crime stories Bad Juju & Other Tales of Madness and Mayhem which won a 2011 Spinetingler Award for Best Crime Short Story Collection and was a featured book at the 2010 Texas Book Festival. Except for Maracaibo, I have been to every location where the nineteen stories in Bad Juju are set.

My crime novel A Death in Mexico was named one of the five top debut crime novels of 2012 by the indie BookPeople Bookstore in Austin, Texas. My website is: http://www.southernnoir.com/ 

My new collection of crime stories, coming from New Pulp Press in March 2014, is called Phone Call from Hell & Other Tales of the Damned. If you got a phone call from Charles Manson, what would you do? 

My newest story “Swingers Anonymous” will appear in the anthology Dallas Noir forthcoming from Akashic Books in November 2013. Dallas Noir is part of Akashic’s renown “cities noir” series of anthologies which now numbers more than 50 volumes. What an honor it is to be a part of this history making literary event!

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The New Neighbor by Miranda Rijks #audiobook #audiblebook #fiction @dreamscapeaudio

Overview

Until recently, Isobel has always loved The Close. A quiet road of large houses tucked away in the beautiful English countryside, it seemed like the perfect place to live. Then, six months ago, a young man was killed in a mysterious hit-and-run incident. The police investigated, but no one was charged, which left a bad feeling in this little community, a feeling that someone knows more than they are saying. 

So when new neighbor Linette arrives, Isobel thinks it’s the perfect chance to make a fresh start, to repair relationships, and rebuild her community. But someone else has a very different plan, and bad things start to happen. When there’s another death, Isobel realizes her home, her marriage, and her family are all in terrible danger. She is certain that what’s happening is connected to the hit-and-run. But how? What really happened on the night of the fatal accident? And above all, who is Linette, and what does she really want?

Review

Isabel loves her home. It is a quiet road with a few large homes on the English countryside. But when there is a mysterious death of a young boy by a hit and run, it changes the whole feel of the neighborhood. So, when the new neighbor, Linette, moves in, Isobel decides to try and bring the neighbors back together. However, Linette is not who she says she is and secrets start to emerge.

This is a good read, but it really didn’t take off till toward the end of the book. I did enjoy the hunt for the killer but intensity is just not there till the end. I guess you can call this a slow burn novel. The characters and the mystery really keep you guessing. I figured it out at first, then changed my mind then went back to the original guess. I enjoy a book which does this!

I also love when there is a team of narrators. These two, Danielle Cohen and Chris Devon did an excellent job! I have always thought two narrators are much better than one. Just makes the story more real!

Need a guessing game…THIS IS IT! Grab your copy today!

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.

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The Matchmaker’s Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman @stmartinspress #fiction #bookreview

Overview

Loigman’s latest is a gem. A scrappy Jewish teenager newly arrived in 1920s New York struggles to follow her calling as a matchmaker––seventy years later, her cynical divorce-attorney granddaughter realizes she has very inconveniently inherited the family gift for matching soulmates. Both funny and moving, The Matchmaker’s Gift made me smile from start to finish.”
––Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Rose Code

Is finding true love a calling or a curse?

Even as a child in 1910, Sara Glikman knows her gift: she is a maker of matches and a seeker of soulmates. But among the pushcart-crowded streets of New York’s Lower East Side, Sara’s vocation is dominated by devout older men—men who see a talented female matchmaker as a dangerous threat to their traditions and livelihood. After making matches in secret for more than a decade, Sara must fight to take her rightful place among her peers, and to demand the recognition she deserves.

Two generations later, Sara’s granddaughter, Abby, is a successful Manhattan divorce attorney, representing the city’s wealthiest clients. When her beloved Grandma Sara dies, Abby inherits her collection of handwritten journals recording the details of Sara’s matches. But among the faded volumes, Abby finds more questions than answers. Why did Abby’s grandmother leave this library to her and what did she hope Abby would discover within its pages? Why does the work Abby once found so compelling suddenly feel inconsequential and flawed? Is Abby willing to sacrifice the career she’s worked so hard for in order to keep her grandmother’s mysterious promise to a stranger? And is there really such a thing as love at first sight?

Review

Abby is a divorce attorney and she is very close with her grandmother, Sara. When her grandmother passes away, she leaves Abby her journals about her life as a matchmaker. Abby soon realizes she has not reached her full potential and maybe being an attorney is not what she is supposed to be.

This is a story told in two different timelines. It follows Sara in the early 1900s and her granddaughter, Abby, in present day. This has happened to me on the past couple of dual timelines books I have read, I love the present day more. This is unusual and I may have to explore why later. But, I digress.

This story has a bit of everything, Jewish history, romance and a bit of drama! I enjoyed every minute. I loved the characters! Sara is calm cool and collected and very intelligent. Abby is smart and has more empathy than a divorce attorney should have!

Need a fabulous story which will take you away and keep you there…THIS IS IT! Grab your copy today!

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.

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