Harlequin Holiday Blog Tour – Winter 2020

We are midway into December and it’s only 2 more weeks or so until Christmas. I think it’s safe to say that holiday reading and recommendations are in full swing – unless you’re like me and can curl up with a Christmas novel in the middle of July. Sun, rain, snow – I don’t care what the weather looks like outside or what the calendar says, there’s something delightful in the feel-good formula that most holiday-themed tales will deliver.

Harlequin is hosting a Holiday Blog Tour that began December 1st and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. They were kind enough to offer a number of titles to choose from and my selections were CHRISTMAS IN SILVER SPRINGS by Brenda Novak, A WEDDING IN DECEMBER by Sarah Morgan, COMING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS by RaeAnne Thayne. Read on for a quick synopsis of each title and my own thoughts post-binge.

Christmas In Silver Springs by Brenda Novak

Come home to Silver Springs for the holidays, where broken hearts learn to love again…together.

So much for forever. When Harper Devlin’s rock star husband ditches her on his way to the top, she takes her two daughters to her sister’s place in Silver Springs for the holidays, hoping family can heal her broken heart. But comfort comes in unexpected places when she crosses paths with local Tobias Richardson.

The moment Tobias spots Harper, he recognizes a sadness he knows all too well. After spending thirteen years in prison paying for his regretful past, Tobias is ready to make amends, and maybe helping Harper is the way to do it. But offering her a shoulder to cry on ignites a powerful attraction and a desire neither saw coming.

Fearing her reaction, Tobias doesn’t reveal his checkered past. He’s falling hard, and if Harper finds out, he’ll lose her for good, especially because her famous ex is now trying to win her back. Secrets have a way of coming out, but maybe this Christmas will bring Tobias the forgiveness—and the love—he deserves.

My Thoughts:

I liked the characters – even, ashamedly, the bad guy ex-husband who made so many mistakes. Separation and divorce are never easy, I would imagine, and everyone is going to handle it a little different. As in each of Novak’s novels, she did an excellent job with charisma, emotions, and character tension. Her stories also typically have a bit of steamy heat that you can read through or skip past if you desire. Overall, a 7 out of 10 mistletoes – it was quick and easy, but I didn’t quite find the Christmas “heart” I was hoping for, even though there was, of course, romance and growth all set at Christmas. It just didn’t leave me ready to decorate my tree. That being said, it was an overall enjoyable contemporary romance – Harlequin knows what works.

Publication Date: October 29, 2019
Publisher: MIRA BOOKS
Available now from all major booksellers.
Recommended for: sitting by a fire, tucked into a stocking, winter passenger commuting


A Wedding In December by Sarah Morgan

This funny, charming and heartwarming new Christmas novel is USA TODAY bestselling
author Sarah Morgan at her festive best!

In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie’s whirlwind Christmas wedding. First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret of their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.

Rosie’s older sister, Katie, is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself! If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with her plans…


Bride-to-be Rosie loves her fiancé but is having serious second thoughts. Except everyone has
arrived—how can she tell them she’s not sure? As the big day gets closer, and emotions run
even higher, this is one White family Christmas none of them will ever forget!

My Thoughts:

First, this novel had me laughing on multiple occasions. The lies we tell can get us into some seriously interesting situations and this family has some issues (don’t we all!) I also don’t mean that in a bad way – they all just wanted to protect each other so badly that things, frankly, often went badly. There was a lot to unwrap in this one as it wasn’t just a quick romance – it had some depth and layers to it. Gorgeous setting and great characters that I loved at times and wanted to throw into a snowbank at others. Some heat and lots of romance and so much poor communication. Overall, 8 out of 10 mistletoes – it had more of the heart I was looking for in a novel set over the holidays without being overly sweet like a gingerbread latte with too many pumps of syrup. Bonus points for the gorgeous cover design!

Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Publisher: HQN Books

Available now from all major booksellers.
Recommended for: a weekend snowed in, reading way past your bedtime, tucked into a gift bag with some cozy socks and fancy hot chocolate for the romance lover in your life


Coming Home for Christmas by RaeAnne Thayne

Hearts are lighter and wishes burn a little brighter at Christmas…

Elizabeth Hamilton has been lost. Trapped in a tangle of postpartum depression and grief after the death of her beloved parents, she couldn’t quite see the way back to her husband and their two beautiful kids…until a car accident stole away her memories and changed her life. And when she finally remembered the sound of little Cassie’s laugh, the baby powder smell of
Bridger and the feel of her husband’s hand in hers, Elizabeth worried that they’d moved on
without her. That she’d missed too much. That perhaps she wasn’t the right mother for her kids or wife for Luke, no matter how much she loved them.

But now, seven years later, Luke finds her in a nearby town and brings Elizabeth back home to
the family she loves, just in time for Christmas. And being reunited with Luke and her children is better than anything Elizabeth could have imagined. As they all trim the tree and bake cookies,making new holiday memories, Elizabeth and Luke are drawn ever closer. Can the hurt of the past seven years be healed over the course of one Christmas season and bring the Hamiltons the gift of a new beginning?

My Thoughts:

Admittedly, this was my favourite of the three. It had ALL the heart, some mystery, romance, and the expected feel-goods you look for in a novel touted as a Christmas story. Is it mind-shattering, literary genius? No – but the talented Thayne serves up love, joy, hope, and cheer in a pretty little package that will make you sigh with glee as you get to the very last page. It touches on some heart-breaking real-life issues and I was thrilled with the way it all turned out in the end. New beginnings, indeed. 10 out of 10 mistletoes for this one. It just captured all the essence and magic of a cozy Christmas romance for me. This novel is part of the Haven Point Series but can definitely be read as a standalone – I have only read some of the previous titles and was still enthralled without feeling lost.

Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Publisher: HQN Books

Available now from all major booksellers.
Recommended for: reading in a bubble bath with no kids banging on the door, curling up on the sofa with a warm tea and cuddly blanket, wrapped under the tree for your romance-lover with her beverage of choice and box of her favourite chocolate (why can’t I find Guylian anywhere anymore?!?)


My thanks to my friends at Harlequin for the chance to dive into these charming holiday reads! My heart feels warm and fuzzy after these ones.

Book Review: Met Her Match by Jude Deveraux

Best-selling author, Jude Deveraux, has held my attention for years. Offhand, I can’t think of any of her titles that I haven’t enjoyed. Met Her Match, Deveraux’s newest release, was just as enjoyable as her other titles.

From the publisher:
Set in the beloved fictional town of Summer Hill, Virginia, Met Her Match examines the tensions between the wealthy townspeople, the summer vacationers and the working-class people who keep the town and resort running. Told with humor and heart, Met Her Match is the perfect summer escape.

Perfect summer escape, indeed. The balance between the “classes”, the mystery, the camaraderie, the romance – they were all sweetly done in that read-in-a-hammock type of way. (If you’re a devotee of romance novels, you’ll totally get what I mean!) The chemistry between the love interests, the descriptions of the resort town, and all the twists of gossip – reliable or otherwise – made for a relatable read and made you feel like you were sitting lakeside with the rest of the crew.

It might not be summer anymore, but this one would be a great stocking stuffer for those who like sweet, sizzling, contemporary romance with a twist of mystery. Great to read over a weekend or sitting in the school carpool lane! Released a few days ago, it should be available on all major booksellers shelves now.

My thanks to the publisher for a chance to read an advanced reader’s copy courtesy of NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Published by: Harlequin Mira
Publication Date: September 17, 2019

Blog Tour & Book Review: The East End by Jason Allen

The East End by Jason Allen was just published this week – on Tuesday, to be exact. Congratulations to the author! I know a lot of heart and soul and sweat and tears go into the process of taking a book from idea to page to publication. When a publicist at HarperCollins sent the initial description and asked if I’d like to be part of the blog tour, I jumped on board. Here is some information on the book, the author, and my final thoughts.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

After graduating high school, Corey Halpern would love to leave the Hamptons and never look back. He is stuck though, saddled with responsibility for his alcoholic mother, Gina, and his younger brother. So for now, he finds momentary escape by breaking and entering. The night before Memorial Day weekend, he targets the estate of Leo Sheffield, the billionaire CEO for whom he and Gina work.  But everything goes awry. Leo arrives suddenly—and he’s not alone. As Corey looks on in stunned horror, he witnesses a fatal mishap…as does another traumatized onlooker. With everything to lose, Leo will do whatever it takes to cover up the truth. Things spiral out of control, however. Pushed to their limits, Corey, Gina, and Leo all hurtle towards climactic showdowns as explosive as the holiday fireworks lighting up the night sky.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jason Allen grew up in a working-class home in the Hamptons, where he worked a variety of blue-collar jobs for wealthy estate owners. He writes fiction, poetry, and memoir, and is the author of the poetry collection A Meditation on Fire. He has an MFA from Pacific University and a PhD in literature and creative writing from Binghamton University. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he teaches writing at Clayton State University. THE EAST END is his first novel.

MY REVIEW:.

I like to provide honest reviews and I always feel a little awkward when I don’t rave about a title. So I will be honest and say this is not a book I would have purchased on my own and I realised that very quickly into the first two chapters. I know it would not be a title I would recommend to a lot of the real-life readers who are part of my circle because they would have found it incredibly offensive – it’s raw and graphic and full of harsh language and scenes that would have left them uncomfortable. (A “Rated R… viewer discretion advised” type of novel.) That being said, I know a ton of other readers in my online circles who would absolutely love this book for all the same reasons – because it’s edgy, and fast-paced, and very, very corrupt.

So while I can’t recommend it in good conscience to some of my dear and closest friends, I can say that THE EAST END is well-written. It’s not bright or cheerful, but dark and atmospheric. It’s sad (as in desolate) and tumbles along at quite a pace. It’s not a traditional mystery or suspense, but it’s suspenseful in the tension-filled, catastrophic rush to a shocking ending. The lives of many unhappy people are intertwined and the moral/immoral choices and quandaries – the lies, the loyalties, the tale of a whole bunch of people who are not happy with their lives and are trying to fill the gaps with drug and alcohol addiction, unhealthy relationships, illicit affairs, and illegal hobbies – catch up in one dynamite conclusion. The author does a remarkable job of capturing the despair and despondency of the characters despite their socio-economic differences. He effectively touches on the need for trust and connection while highlighting the dangers of secrecy, obsession, and desperation. Best of all he leaves you with a small spark of hope that two of the main characters find redemption and happily ever after.

(As a small note of humour, when I finished, all I could think is, “Man, I don’t think I’ll ever visit the Hamptons. People are not happy there.” I’m sure the tourism board will be thrilled with this one… )

My thanks to the publisher, Harlequin, for providing a copy of this title and inviting me to be a part of this tour.


Book Review: The Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts


Exactly what you expect from a
summer paperback

When a publicist at Harlequin (Mira / Harper Collins) sent an email invitation to download this book for review, I jumped right on it. The phrase that caught my attention was “Perfect for fans of Susan Mallery, Robyn Carr, and Debbie Macomber, THE SUMMER RETREAT will have readers falling in love with Roberts’ sparkling humor and moving story lines in a delightful enemies to lovers tale of summer romance and sisterly bonding.” Count me in.

The Summer Retreat is the third installment by USA TODAY bestselling author Sheila Roberts in her seaside escape, beach-ready Moonlight Harbor series. It was my first read from this author and, obviously also my first read from this series.

Sheila Roberts lives on a lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her novels have been published in several languages. Her book Angel Lane was an Amazon Top Ten Romance pick for 2009. Her holiday perennial, On Strike for Christmas, was made into a movie for the Lifetime Movie Network, and her novel The Nine Lives of Christmas was made into a movie for Hallmark. You can visit Sheila on Twitter (@_Sheila_Roberts) and Facebook (@funwithsheila) or at her website.

Overall, it really is the perfect summer read – grab your sunglasses, a glass of something cool, and a great spot to soak up some sun and dive right in. I love the quintessential small town, beach front, everyone knows everyone’s business you get in these types of romance. Quirky and cute. The lead female character is unlucky in love and she feels like she’s running out of time to see her dreams come true. She offers to spend the summer (licking her wounded heart) with her sister, niece, and aunt, helping to run their small ocean-front inn. She decides if she’s going to pursue romance, she’s going to play it safe – cue in the local pastor, the perfect safe (but still attractive) candidate.

I will admit, however, that I wanted to shake sense into our girl (and her sister…) I found myself mentally admonishing her throughout the entire book. No sparks… no sparks… he’s great on paper but he’s not right for you!!! I was actually frustrated until the very end (no spoilers though… no spoilers.) I’m glad that the author came through – I wasn’t sure how she was going to redeem the situation, but rest assured, she did.

There is some sizzle, some sweet romance, some strange and wonderful characters and it’s set seaside – sand and water and a lovable misbehaved pup. All important elements. It did take it’s time meandering along the way (enough already – follow your heart!) and at first, I felt a little lost so perhaps reading the first two installments might be helpful (it could have just been me – I did fight with a parking pay machine for quite some time the other day before I realised the arm was up and they did not, in fact, want my money.) I’m giving it a 3-star rating – which is “it was good” in my review hierarchy – it just wasn’t jaw-dropping, stick with me forever intense. It was exactly what you expect from a summer paperback – easy to toss in your beach bag and read for a quick escape. Watch for this title to hit all major book retailers soon.

My thanks to Harlequin for the opportunity to download this title via NetGalley. All thoughts expressed are my own.

Publication date: April 23, 2019
Publisher: Harlequin – Mira