Book Review, Books, New Release, Romance, Uncategorized

Review of “Hold On Tight” (Returning Home, Book One) by Serena Bell

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5 out of 5 beautiful, sexy, heart-warming stars

I posted about this book a couple of days ago, to help get the word out about its release. Then I had a chance to actually read the book. YOU GUYS, this book is amazing! It is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year! I am lucky enough to be on Serena Bell’s ARC team, and was thrilled to be able to read this book so I could share it with you. The most exciting thing about this book, and the others in this series, is that it is a re-release, as Ms. Bell is now an INDIE author. I’m even more excited to be a part of her team now, because indie authors need even more support than the garden variety. 🙂

Now, I am a sucker for second chance romance. I also love a well-written story about a military hero, having grown up as an Army brat. I’m a big fan of the single parent, being one myself, and while I usually gravitate toward the hot single DAD books, I like to read about a single mom working hard to be all things to her kids, while also finding some time to take care of herself.  Lastly, I can occasionally be found reading a secret baby romance, although it’s not my favorite trope. Hold On Tight has all of these!

Here’s a quick synopsis by the author herself:

“Hold On Tight is the story of Jake—a guy who comes back from war, broken in body and spirit, to discover that he has a kid he never knew existed and a baby mama he’s been trying really hard to forget. It’s also the story of Mira, a single mom who has been working her butt off to hold all the pieces together, and does not need the complication of being attracted to a man who got her pregnant and disappeared off the face of the earth. Aaand, it’s the story of Sam, who—well, he’s seven, and just trying to figure out how all the pieces fit together, especially in light of the fact that his mom told him that his dad was a sperm donor.”

Jake and Mira had a very short, but passionate, relationship 8 years ago, and their paths are about to cross again. Jake is a war hero. Not only that, he’s a wounded war hero, who is back home after a devastating experience overseas. Mira is a single mom, who just moved across the country, and away from her parents, to prove that she can take care of herself and her 7-year-old son. What will happen when Jake finds out he has a son? How will Mira deal with Jake’s reemergence into her life? Will she tell her son, Sam, that Jake is his dad?

I adored Sam. This kid had a heart of gold, and he was not afraid to ask the tough questions. Have you heard the saying, “…and the little child shall lead them”? Sam is that child. I started reading one of the chapters, and when it started out, it made me think it was going to be from Sam’s POV.  It didn’t turn out to be, but I thought to myself, “How freaking great would that be, to get a chapter from a child’s own perspective???” It’s definitely something I have not seen before, and didn’t know I’d love until that moment.

I loved this book. LOVED. I’d read another military hero book recently, and it was pretty bad. It wasn’t realistic, and it was very light on the facts. I don’t know what experience Ms. Bell has with military life, but I found her descriptions to be very authentic. Jake had experienced some very harrowing things while he was deployed, and he had a very difficult time dealing with the challenges of life back home. It all felt very real and honest.

I’ve also come to realize over the past few years that sexy times must be REALLY difficult to write, because some authors just aren’t very good at it. Serena Bell, let it be known, is NOT one of those authors. Her sexy times are off-the-charts hot. It’s possible that I enjoy them so much because I’m really rooting for her characters and I want them to have good sexy times, but I don’t think so. She’s just really good at writing super sexy scenes, which at no point make the reader pause and say “wait…what?”

I’m very excited about book 2, Can’t Hold Back, because it’s not just another book in the series, it’s a continuation of sorts. We meet the main characters, Nate and Alia, at the end of Hold on Tight, and it appears we will also be able to follow Mira and Jake (and Sam!) on their continuing journey.

If you like military heroes, or second chance romance, or secret baby stories, or indie authors, or all of the above, PLEASE go buy this book. I will definitely be bringing you reviews of the other books in this series, as they are released. I hope you love Jake and Mira’s story as much as I did!

Buy Hold on Tight on Amazon

Pre-order Can’t Hold Back

Pre-order To Have and To Hold

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Books, New Release, Romance, Uncategorized

New Release: Hold on Tight (RETURNING HOME, BOOK ONE) by Serena Bell

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HOLD ON TIGHT (RETURNING HOME, BOOK ONE)

A wounded soldier. A secret baby. A second chance.

Jake Taylor has made a few terrible decisions, but none worse than the one in Afghanistan that cost him his best friend and his leg.

Or so he thinks, until he comes home from war to discover a seven-year-old son he never knew existed.

Jake can’t regret the blissful nights he spent with Mira in his arms, or the boy with his eyes, but he can leave them alone so they don’t become yet another one of his mistakes.

He’ll rehab his body, figure out how to find purpose again—and keep things simple with the woman he once craved desperately.

Except the sizzling attraction that drew him to Mira is still fierce, and staying away from her is a lot harder than he ever expected…

Mira Shipley has promised herself that if she ever sees Jake Taylor again, she’ll tell him he has a son.

She isn’t expecting to run into him at the physical therapist’s office, where he’s learning to live with an above-the-knee amputation.

She can’t blame him for being a grumpy jerk under the circumstances, but it would be a lot easier to ignore him if she didn’t desperately need child care for her son.

And if Jake didn’t make her feel brand new and dazzlingly alive.

She knows she needs to protect her son’s feelings—but no matter how hard she tries, she can’t forget the long, sweet nights she and Jake spent learning each other’s bodies and each other’s secrets…

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING

“Sweet, sexy and real . . . In Hold on Tight, Serena Bell has written a beautiful story about a wounded soldier and the woman strong enough to love him.”—Jessica Scott, USA Today bestselling author of Because of You

“The authenticity of their story is resounding. This isn’t a story of instant love, but of an uphill battle and determination, of making decisions, and of living in the here and now.”Heroes and Heartbreakers

“This contemporary second-chance romance is Bell’s best written book yet. It deals with the horror of war beautifully and with great care, weaving it into a great love story, and many, many swoons.”—The Book Hammock

“Just a beautiful, and yet not overly emotionally weighted, story of two people fighting their way out of a life they were dealt, toward a life they choose wholeheartedly. This book left me feeling warmed, encouraged, bolstered and full. Phenomenal writing by Serena Bell.”—Ripe for Reader

“I was completely swept away with the characters, story and the writing.”—Twin Spin

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EXCERPT

On the other side of the room, the cocky guy with the prosthetic leg shifted in his seat, drawing her gaze. Brown hair, on the longer side of short, uncombed. A couple of days’ unshaven scruff. Not her type; she liked professional men, clean-shaven. Her mind was about to dismiss him—a guy I ran into in the physical therapist’s office and wasn’t attracted to, but not because he was an amputee, just because he wasn’t my fantasy. But something made her look again.

Holy shit. She knew that face. The strong jaw, the well-formed upper lip, the deep groove that ran vertically between his brows—

She’d memorized his features in the few weeks they’d been together, the quick three-quarters way he smiled, like he couldn’t quite fully commit to happiness, the all-in truth of his smile when he gave himself over. The creases that formed when he frowned, the way his jaw set when something bothered him. That night at the lake—the last night—the look on his face when she’d taken off her clothes. Gratitude and longing and Who, me? For real?

The night came back to her in sharp contrasts, pairs of impressions. The coolness of his wet skin and the heat of his body. The softness of his mouth moving over hers, over her breasts, and the hard tug of his suckling, the yank of desire she’d felt. The rich summer smells, green and overripe, and the clean soap scent of him. How open she’d felt, how boundary-less, melting, flowing, willing—and how her body had betrayed and frustrated her.

How good he’d made her feel, better than she’d ever felt in her life, and the way he’d hurt her. The way they’d dressed, packed up, and driven home in silence. How hard she’d cried, and for how long.

Jake.

His eyes caught hers, caught and held and held and held. Sam’s gray-blue eyes, Sam’s full lower lip, Sam’s absurdly long eyelashes. Jake’s face.

Would Sam someday have a jaw like that, square and strong? Would his nose, which was still a little boy’s pudgy upturned nose, be as bladelike as his father’s?

How many times had she promised herself that if this moment ever came, she wouldn’t hold the truth back from Jake?
Buy Hold on Tight on Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Photo credit Susan Young

USA Today bestselling author Serena Bell writes contemporary romance with heat, heart, and humor. A former journalist, Serena has always believed that everyone has an amazing story to tell if you listen carefully, and you can often find her scribbling in her tiny garret office, mainlining chocolate and bringing to life the tales in her head.

Serena’s books have earned many honors, including an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Apple Books Best Book of the Month, and Amazon Best Book of the Year for Romance.

When not writing, Serena loves to spend time with her college-sweetheart husband and two hilarious kiddos—all of whom are incredibly tolerant not just of Serena’s imaginary friends but also of how often she changes her hobbies and how passionately she embraces the new ones. These days, it’s stand-up paddle boarding, board-gaming, meditation, and long walks with good friends.

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Books, New Release, Romance, Uncategorized

New Release Tuesday: Tumble by Adriana Locke (Dogwood Lane #1)

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From USA Today bestselling author Adriana Locke comes a witty romance about first love and second chances. This is a standalone, small-town, blue-collar love story.

Synopsis: After being burned by her dream job in New York City, sports journalist Neely Kimber suddenly finds herself jobless and paying a long-overdue visit to her hometown in Tennessee. Her plan? Relax, reset, and head back up the corporate ladder. There’s just one unexpected step. Neely’s back in Dogwood Lane for barely a day when she sees the man she ran from nine years ago: the bad boy next door who was her first kiss, her first love, and her first heartbreak.

Devoted single dad Dane Madden knows he hurt Neely in the worst way. He’s got a lot to make up for. And as passionate as their reconnection is, it’s a lot to hope for. Having her back in his arms feels so right. But falling in love all over again with a woman who wants to live a world away is bound to go so wrong.

What’s it going to take for Neely to give him—and Dogwood Lane—just one more chance?

If you own the ebook, you can add the Audible narration for just $1.99, narrated by the talented Aiden Snow and Summer Morton, this audio will rock your socks!

Tumble FB Live Now!

Want a preview? Read on!

Splat!

The sound of the hammer crushing my thumb—swung with more force than was necessary, to boot—ricochets across the front lawn. The tool falls from my hand, striking against the sawhorse, and flips into the soft grass with a gentle thud.

“Son of a…!” My hand shakes, the top of my thumb threatening to explode. I tilt my head to the sky and try to find some peace in the clouds.

I come up empty. “Matt!” I call to my younger brother. “I’m taking ten.”

He nods from halfway up the ladder leaned against the side of the house.

Wrapping my good hand around my thumb, I head toward my truck. Sounds of construction ring out behind me. It’s usually music to my ears, the lifeblood of the Madden name. But each cut of a sawblade, buzz of a power drill, and swing of a hammer feels like a distraction this morning. I have a throbbing thumb to show for it.

Beads of sweat cluster along my forehead. I remove my hat with my good hand and run the back of my forearm along my brow.
“Damn it.” Everything feels sticky. Mildly irritating. And the progress on the project that usually energizes me has failed me epically this morning. I just don’t want to be here. Not that I have a better place to be. Quite frankly, I have a lot of places I shouldn’t be, and with Neely, or thinking about Neely, is one of them.

I would’ve recognized her anywhere. Same gray eyes that glimmer like she’s about to tell you a secret. Full lips that spread into a smile so infectious you can’t help but feel your own mouth following suit. The hint of floral perfume, the golden hair that may as well be silk, and the aura about her that’s just as strong as the day she left Dogwood Lane and me—it’s all the same. It’s like time forgot to age her. She somehow has become more beautiful, sexier, stronger.

The world hates me. I’ve postulated this for a long time, but it’s obvious today.

The tailgate of my truck lowers. Scooping a handful of ice from the cooler in the bed into a bandanna, I wrap it around my injured digit. The relief lasts only a few moments.

“What are you doing down here?” Penn rests his forearms over the side of the truck, the tattoos carved in his skin like mini masterpieces on full display. He eyes my makeshift bandage. “What happened to you?”

“Hammer,” I groan, adjusting the ice.

“That’s interesting.”

“How you figure?”

“Never knew you to hit yourself with a hammer before. I find that interesting.”

“If that’s interesting, you need a hobby. Or you could work like I’m paying you to do . . .”

“I have a hobby, thank you, and you should’ve seen her last night,” he says, smacking his lips together. “Lord Almighty, she’s a—”

“Penn.”

“Yeah?”

The tip of my finger sticks out of the bandanna. It’s bright red and hot to the touch despite the ice packed around it. “All your escapades really sound the same at this point.”

“Is that jealousy I hear?” He cups his hand to his ear. “I thought so. Not my fault you’re in a dry spell.”
Leaning against the truck, I look at him. “Jealousy isn’t how I’d describe it. But if that makes ya feel good, go for it.”

“My hobby makes me feel good.” He moves his lips around, like he’s fighting the next words trying to pop out. He does this when he knows he shouldn’t say something but can’t quite convince himself not to. “From the looks of you, I’d say you’re more than jealous. I’d say you’re . . . tempted.”

My tongue presses on the roof of my mouth. “Tempted to what?”

He leans against the truck, too, the gold St. Christopher’s medal he’s worn since elementary school clamoring against the side. The corners of his lips nearly touch the corners of his eyes. He knows.

“Word travels fast, huh?” I say, prodding around to see if my guess is right.

He slow blinks. Twice.

“What?” I ask.

“That’s all you have to say about Neely being back in town? ‘Word travels fast.’ What’s wrong with you?”

We don’t have time for that conversation.

I sigh. “What do you want me to say?”

“I’d love to have been a fly on the wall for that little run-in.” Penn snickers. “Did you stutter around like I imagine? Or did you not manage to say an entire sentence?”

Working my jaw back and forth, I point a finger his way. “You better stop while you’re ahead.”

He reads me correctly, and his animation drops a notch. “Really, though. How’d it go? But before you answer that, let me toss out there that I heard sparks were flying all over the diner so hot Claire had to call the fire department.”

I shake my head. “Shut up.”

“Just telling you what I heard.”

“The firemen were there to order food, you idiot.”

He thinks he’s onto something. There’s a glee in his face that means only one thing: it’s going to be a long day around here.
“So, what happened?” he asks, resting his arms over the truck bed.

“You know, sometimes I think you should’ve been a girl with all the gossiping you do.”

“This isn’t gossip,” he contends. “This is Neely-freaking-Kimber, man. Every memory I have of my entire adolescence has her in it. She bailed me out of jail when I was too scared to call my dad and you and Matt were passed out on moonshine. Remember that?”

My chuckle is so hard, it causes my thumb to throb. “I forgot about that. She was pissed.”

“Neely came through, though. God, I miss her.”

Those last words echo through my mind.

I have shoved her out of my head for the last few years. Took over Dad’s business, took care of my business. Trudged forward without her because that was the only choice I had. I hardly even think about her anymore unless someone brings her up in conversation.

So why do I itch to crawl into the truck and hunt her down?

Buy Tumble on Amazon: Available in Kindle Unlimited, Paperback, Audiobook

Preorder Tangle, Dogwood Lane Book #2, for just $3.99 here

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Books, Free book, Historical Romance, Romance

Genealogy by Mae Wood, free this weekend only!

I was able to read this wonderful book as a part of the Release Launch for the blog back in October. I blogged about its release, and read the book, but it affected me so emotionally that I was unable to write a review without taking some time to think about and reflect on this heart-warming and moving story. A few months have gone by, so it’s definitely past time for me to post my review!

This book is a lovely mix of past and present. It is a love story, without being what my daughters call one of my “shirtless man books.” Mae Wood normally writes books with some excellent sexy times, so when she started to talk about Genealogy, she warned her readers that this would be a different sort of book.

It was different, but it wasn’t. It had all the heart of a “sexy times” book by Mae Wood, but since it takes place in the early 1900s, there were no sexy times. It was a beautiful throwback to when a man courted a woman, when they wrote long handwritten letters that took weeks or months to arrive in the hands of their loved one. These letters are the foundation of this story, and the best part for me is that the letters in this book were based on real, hundred-year-old love letters.

I can’t say enough about this beautiful story. I love historical fiction, and origin stories, and time travel. This book is a bit of all three, and I was honored to be a part of the promotional team.

Buy Genealogy on Amazon for FREE this weekend only!

Books, Romance

Review of The Dating Alternative by Jennifer Woodhull

4.5 of 5 fun, fast-paced stars

This is my first time reading a book by Jennifer Woodhull, and I am very interested in reading more of her work. I read it in about 24 hours, and enjoyed it a lot. The storyline was a new take on an old theme: Friends-with-Benefits, but with a fun twist. I liked “Cheese” and “Max” very much. I enjoyed their relationships with their friends and family, especially “Alexander’s” spunky grandma.

There were a few jaw-dropping “no way!” moments, and an expected twist. A couple of times, something happened that maybe crossed the line into unbelievability. For the most part, this was a fun, interesting, fast-paced story. This author writes “sexy times” really well, and I’ve found that not all authors do. Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this terrific book.

Buy The Dating Alternative on Amazon

Romance

Book Review: Hate Notes by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

4 of 5 stars

Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward team up to bring us an enjoyable story of two people finding their soul mate.  The story moved along and didn’t drag you down with tedious transition details. The main characters have easy to like personalities that come through in the writing. I read this one in two days.

**Potential Spoilers**

Here is the set up. Charlotte recently went through a breakup and had to also leave her job. She brings her wedding dress to a second-hand store and leaves with another dress she couldn’t walk away from. Inside the dress is a blue note from a man to his bride to be. Charlotte embarks on a journey to find this man. And so the story unfolds. Reed is successful in the field of real estate. He recently went through his own break up and is adamant he will not enter into another relationship (you’ll have to read to find out why). After meeting Charlotte, this all changes.

You’ll enjoy this one!

Paranormal, Romance, Uncategorized

Book Review Halfway to The Grave (Night Huntress #1) by Jeaniene Frost

 

night huntress5/5 Stars

If you’ve seen my Goodreads “read” shelf, you’ll notice I have an affinity for vampire romance. Why? Not exactly sure except they are usually action packed, and drag you into a different world for a while. Here are comments on my most recent find.

You had me at “Hallo, Kitten”! This book is so action-packed and there is no “good place to stop”. Very hard to put down! The plot moves along at just the right pace. I really liked the dialog and snarky comments from the characters. Shall I say it really sucks you in? 🙂 I couldn’t resist.

Quick summary: Cat is half human and half vampire. She has dedicated her life to hunting vampires (I won’t tell you how she became a half-breed, or why she hunts them, you’ll have to read to find out). The good stuff starts when she gets tangled with one captivating Master Vamp. Her adventures, private moments, and close calls keep this story moving. I never like to write too much about the plot of stories because isn’t that why we read, to see how it unfolds?  I know, this story may sound far-fetched, but this book will grab your attention.

I’m already through book 2 and started book 3. Will add a “roundup” post when i’m through with the series. I might have to read slow because I am really enjoying these books.