Sunday, June 24, 2018

Nights of the Living Dead - An Anthology edited by Jonathon Maberry and George Romero

Editors: Jonathon Maberry & George A. Romero
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Date of publication: July 2017

In 1968 the world experienced a brand new kind of terror with the debut of George A. Romero's landmark movie Night of the Living Dead. The newly dead rose to attack the living. Not as vampires or werewolves. This was something new...and terrifying. Since then, zombies have invaded every aspect of popular culture.

But it all started on that dreadful night in a remote farmhouse...

Nights of the Living Dead returns to that night, to the outbreak, to where it all began. New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry teams with the godfather of the living dead himself, George A. Romero to present a collection of all new tales set during the 48 hours of that legendary outbreak.

Nights of the Living Dead includes stories by some of today's most important writers: Brian Keene, Carrie Ryan, Chuck Wendig, Craig Engler, David J. Schow, David Wellington, Issac Marion, Jay Bonansinga, Joe R. Lansdale, John Russo, John Skipp, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Max Brallier, Mike Carey, Mira Grant, Neal Shusterman & Brandon Shusterman, and Ryan Brown. Plus original stories by Romero and Maberry!

In general, I'm not usually a zombie story fan.  Even  watching the movies, I have a hard time with because I don't like the lack of hopefulness.  However, when I saw this come up on my library's Overdrive site, I figured I'd give it a shot.  I like a lot of the authors in the anthology and I figured there had to be at least one good story.  

I was pleasantly surprised as to how much I enjoyed this set of zombie tales.  While I didn't love all of them, there really wasn't any one tale that I hated.  Among my favorites were "A Dead Girl Named Sue" by Craig E Engler, and  "The Girl on the Table" by Isaac Marion.  The editor, Jonathon Maberry's story, "Lone Gunman" was the creepiest of the lot.  The one that stuck in my mind the most was "You Can Stay All Day" by Mira Grant.  It was the most heartbreaking of them all.  

I highly recommend this anthology.  There is something here for everyone.  The various narrators were wonderful. Listening to it has almost made me want to seek out some more zombie tales.  


Saturday, June 23, 2018

Spotlight: Excerpt from Must Love Babies by Lynnette Austin

Author: Lynnette Austin 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date of publication: June 2018

This baby's not the only one in need of a cuddle…

Brant Wylder is a bachelor and loving it! He's in Misty Bottoms, Georgia, property-hunting for his vintage car repair shop when he gets the call. His sister's been in an accident, and Brant has to drop everything and take care of his five-month-old nephew. That's the end of the bachelor lifestyle.

Bridal boutique owner Molly Stiles is all business all the time, until she sees that Brant's in trouble. In this Southern town, nobody ever has to go it alone. And besides, how can she resist that beautiful baby in the arms of a beautiful man…?

Purchase Links:


Enjoy this excerpt:

 If Molly Stiles had been a vintage car, Brant Wylder would have known exactly what to do with her. She wasn’t, and he didn’t.
But a man could look.
“Hey, you still with us?” his elder brother, Tucker, asked.
“Yeah.” Brant tugged at the annoying bow tie.
“Good, because we have a job to do, and so do you,” Tucker said.
“Understood.” Brant met his brother’s gaze. “Chill. This isn’t one of your Marine reconnaissance missions.”
“No, it’s not. Which means no sniper’s waiting to take a potshot at you, so stop whining.”
“I’m not whining,” he groused. “This wedding’s a waste of time. I’d rather go with you to pick up that car.”
“We’ve got it covered.” His younger brother, Gaven, slipped into the rental car. “You’ll check out those places we spotted yesterday, right? See if one of them will work for us?”
“Absolutely.” His answer was automatic, his attention on the petite bridesmaid he’d escorted down the aisle. The woman was so drop-dead gorgeous, she made his palms sweat.
“It’s important,” Tucker reminded him.
“Yep.” Brant eyed his watch. “That plane’s gonna leave with or without you two.”
Gaven started the car’s engine.
Riding shotgun, Tucker rested a tattooed arm on his open window. “Sure glad it’s dark. Anybody sees us in this four-door, plain-vanilla, sorry excuse for a car, our reputation’s shot.”
Brant laughed. “Drive safe.” He tapped the car’s roof, then took several steps back as it headed down the winding, oak-lined drive.
The taillights disappeared, and he was alone.
Well, as alone as he could be with a hundred and some other people.
Resigned, Brant turned back to the wedding reception. Because the temperature was in the balmy midsixties, unusual for January even here in Georgia’s Low Country, Magnolia House’s massive front door stood open. Light, conversation, and laughter spilled onto the restored antebellum home’s front porch.
At the bar, he ordered a club soda with a twist of lime and, popping cashews, chatted with a friend of the groom’s. All the while, he kept the brunette front and center on his radar.
She threaded her way through the small clusters of guests, paused to speak to several, then plucked a grilled shrimp kebab and a napkin from a passing waiter’s tray. Raising the appetizer to her Kewpie-doll lips, she headed outside. Alone.
Brant set his nearly untouched drink on the bar and nodded to his new pal. “You decide you want us to do something with that ’72 Chevy Chevelle, give me a call.”
Casually, he crossed the room and stepped into the night. Molly had wandered to the edge of the large front yard and stood in a pool of moonlight. The two of them had bumped into each other twice now, and she stirred up feelings in him—feelings he had no time for, yet itched to explore.
For such a petite thing, the lady had curves. Shiny, coffee-colored hair curled halfway down her back, and his fingers practically begged to mess it up. She smelled sexy as sin on a dark night and all but made a guy drool. Her pale pink, bee-stung lips cried out to be kissed…but instinct warned him Molly could be dangerous. Very dangerous.
Brant ran a finger under his bow tie again and swore beneath his breath.
He felt restless. Last night, he’d driven through town a little after eight. It had been quiet, buttoned-down, and locked up tight. The carpet rolled up early in Misty Bottoms, Georgia. He could live with that.
Good thing, because if things worked out right, he’d be spending a lot more time here. But right now? Instead of hanging around Magnolia House in this monkey suit, he could be flying off to Texas with his brothers or at their garage in Tennessee in his old jeans, replacing a clutch in the ’48 Chevy they were restoring. Heck, for what the daddy of today’s bride had shelled out, Brant figured he could rescue a whole fleet of cars.
Music drifted on the soft night air and entwined with the scent of roses and jasmine. Muted voices rose and fell. He slipped a hand into the pocket of his tux pants and, feet crossed, leaned against one of the massive columns. Life had been bumpy lately, but at this moment, it was pretty darn good.
A full moon added its magic to the star-filled Southern sky. As he picked out several constellations, he imagined even the seated queen, Cassiopeia, danced tonight with Orion, the hunter. No doubt every single woman here had hearts, flowers, and wedding rings on the brain. It tended to make a single man nervous.
Even so, he’d see if he could sweet-talk himself into a dance or two with sexy-as-all-get-out Molly.
At his previous wedding here, she’d tried her darnedest to escape the rush of single women desperate to nab the bridal bouquet. Now, she stood beneath a magnolia tree, her face tipped to catch the moonlight. The breath caught in his throat, and for one fanciful second, Brant imagined a mythical princess or fairy.
He shook his head. The woman was real, and he wanted a dance, wanted to hold her in his arms. A little flirting? Harmless.
Stepping out of the shadows, he made his way to her. “How about a dance?” Holding out a hand, he tipped his head toward the temporary dance floor in the backyard.
She hesitated.
“I’m not asking for a lifelong commitment, sugar. Just a single dance under the stars.”

Friday, June 22, 2018

Blog Tour: Garden of the Blue Roses by Michael Barsa

Author: Michael Barsa
Publisher: Underland Press
Date of publication: April 2018

Ominous, fantastic, and wonderfully malevolent…. I felt the spirits of Shirley Jackson, Edgar Allan Poe, and Albert Camus’ Meursault, whispering to join the fun.”– ALICE SEBOLD, #1 best-selling and award-winning author of The Lovely Bones

A car lies at the bottom of an icy ravine. Slumped over the steering wheel, dead, is the most critically acclaimed horror writer of his time. Was it an accident? His son Milo doesn’t care. For the first time in his life, he’s free. No more nightmarish readings, spooky animal rites, or moonlit visions of his father in the woods with a notebook and vampire make-up.

Or so he thinks.

Milo settles into a quiet routine–constructing model Greek warships and at last building a relationship with his sister Klara, who’s home after a failed marriage and brief career as an English teacher. Then Klara hires a gardener to breathe new life into their overgrown estate. There’s something odd about him–something eerily reminiscent of their father’s most violent villain. Or is Milo imagining things? He’s not sure. That all changes the day the gardener discovers something startling in the woods. Suddenly Milo is fighting for his life, forced to confront the power of fictional identity as he uncovers the shocking truth about his own dysfunctional family–and the supposed accident that claimed his parents’ lives.

It's been a while since I have read a Gothic story.  I was intrigued by the synopsis for The Garden of Blue Roses.  After finishing it, I am not sure whether I loved it or not. I'll say I fall somewhere in the middle between love and hate.

 I will admit to having been confused as to what was happening through most of the story.   I chalk that up to Milo being a very unreliable narrator.  Since the entire story is told through his perspective, I was left to muddle through along with him.  At about the 2/3 mark, I finally started "getting it".  There were a few disturbing revelations that made the events make sense.  I also did like the ending.   
I think Gothic story fans will enjoy this book..  It did have a dark and creepy feel most times.  I also got the sense that it could take place at any time period since the house seems to be stuck in time.  Do they make rotary phones anymore? I'm not sure this book was totally for me, but I was glad I tried it out.  I think it was a well written debut and I look forward to more from this author.

Purchase Links

About Michael Barsa

Michael Barsa grew up in a German-speaking household in New Jersey and spoke no English until he went to school. So began an epic struggle to master the American “R” and a lifelong fascination with language. He’s lived on three continents and spent many summers in southern Germany and southern Vermont.

He’s worked as an award-winning grant writer, an English teacher, and an environmental lawyer. He now teaches environmental and natural resources law. His scholarly articles have appeared in several major law reviews, and his writing on environmental policy has appeared in The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times. His short fiction has appeared in Sequoia.

The Garden of Blue Roses is his first novel.

Connect with Michael

Michael Barsa’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Tuesday, May 29th: SJ2B House of Books
Monday, June 4th: Bewitched Bookworms
Tuesday, June 5th: Sweet Southern Home
Wednesday, June 6th: Write Read Life
Monday, June 11th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Wednesday, June 13th: @ladyofthelibrary
Thursday, June 14th: Broken Teepee
Monday, June 18th: Midwest Ladies Who Lit
Friday, June 22nd: From the TBR Pile
Monday, June 25th: @tbretc
Wednesday, June 27th: Books and Bindings
Tuesday, July 3rd: Kahakai Kitchen
Thursday, July 5th: Katy’s Library and @katyslibrary
Monday, July 9th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Spotlight: The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (And Their Muses) by Terri-Lynne DeFino

Author: Terri-Lynne DeFino
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Date of publication: June 2018

A whimsical, moving novel about a retirement home for literary legends who spar, conjure up new stories, and almost magically change the lives of the people around them.

Alfonse Carducci was a literary giant who lived his life to excess—lovers, alcohol, parties, and literary rivalries. But now he’s come to the Bar Harbor Home for the Elderly to spend the remainder of his days among kindred spirits: the publishing industry’s nearly gone but never forgotten greats. Only now, at the end of his life, does he comprehend the price of appeasing every desire, and the consequences of forsaking love to pursue greatness. For Alfonse has an unshakeable case of writer’s block that distresses him much more than his precarious health.

Set on the water in one of New England’s most beautiful locales, the Bar Harbor Home was established specifically for elderly writers needing a place to live out their golden years—or final days—in understated luxury and surrounded by congenial literary company. A faithful staff of nurses and orderlies surround the writers, and are drawn into their orbit, as they are forced to reckon with their own life stories. Among them are Cecibel Bringer, a young woman who knows first-hand the cost of chasing excess. A terrible accident destroyed her face and her sister in a split-second decision that Cecibel can never forgive, though she has tried to forget. Living quietly as an orderly, refusing to risk again the cost of love, Cecibel never anticipated the impact of meeting her favorite writer, Alfonse Carducci—or the effect he would have on her existence. In Cecibel, Alfonse finds a muse who returns him to the passion he thought he lost. As the words flow from him, weaving a tale taken up by the other residents of the Pen, Cecibel is reawakened to the idea of love and forgiveness.

As the edges between story and reality blur, a world within a world is created. It’s a place where the old are made young, the damaged are made whole, and anything is possible….

Purchase Links

About Terri-Lynne DeFino

Terri-Lynne DeFino was born and raised in New Jersey, but escaped to the wilds of Connecticut, where she still lives with her husband and her cats. She spends most days in her loft, in her woodland cabin along the river, writing about people she’s never met. Other days, she can be found slaying monsters with her grandchildren. If you knock on her door, she’ll most likely be wearing a tiara. She’ll also invite you in and feed you, because you can take the Italian girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take the Jersey Italian out of the girl.

Find out more about Terri at her website.

Instagram Features

Tuesday, June 12th: Instagram: @theloudlibrarylady
Wednesday, June 13th: Instagram: @oddandbookish
Thursday, June 14th: Instagram: @notthepathtonarnia
Friday, June 15th: Instagram: @theliterarybirds
Saturday, June 16th: Instagram: @bookishconnoisseur
Monday, June 18th: Instagram: @ladyofthelibrary

Review Stops

Tuesday, June 12th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, June 13th: Kahakai Kitchen
Thursday, June 14th: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, June 18th: Eliot’s Eats
Tuesday, June 19th: Tina Says…
Wednesday, June 20th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Thursday, June 21st: From the TBR Pile
Friday, June 22nd: 5 Minutes For Books
Monday, June 25th: Wining Wife
Tuesday, June 26th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, June 28th: Literary Quicksand

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Blog Tour: Rock King by Tara Leigh

Today we are taking part in the promo tour for ROCK KING by Tara Leigh! ROCK KING is available now, and the second book in the Nothing but Trouble series, ROCK LEGEND, is available for pre-order and will release on July 17! 

ROCK KING by Tara Leigh - available now!

Author: Tara Leigh Publisher: February 2018 Date of publication: Grand Central Publishing

   I'm not who you think I am. Shane Hawthorne has it all. At least, that's what the headlines say about me. I have millions of fans, awards, more money - and women - than I know what to do with. But what you don't see is the wreckage I've caused. The memories and pain I can't escape, even when I pour them into music and spin them into gold. I tried to forget. To lose myself in booze and groupies. It didn't work. It hurt me and - worse - it hurt my band. That's the last thing I want to do, so I'm cleaning up my act... starting with Delaney Fraser. Gorgeous, smart, drama-free, and even nice - Delaney is the perfect "girlfriend." When I'm with her I don't have to pretend. It's like she sees the real me. And I can see a future with her. But that's dangerous. Because the truth is, Shane Hawthorne doesn't actually exist. He's a shield to hide who I really am. Fraud. Runaway. Addict. Murderer. And it's impossible to love a lie, right? 

The Nothing but Trouble series: Rock King Rock Legend Rock Rebel

In Rock King, Shane is on top of the world fame-wise, but he holds a deep guilt for something that happened years ago.  He is also an addict and needs help staying on the straight and narrow while he is on tour.  Delaney seems like the perfect "fake girlfriend".  Delaney holds some secrets herself.  

For the most part, I liked the story. I just didn't love it. I enjoyed Delaney the most out of the two MCs.  Shane was kind of an ass throughout the whole book.  I had a hard time warming up to their instant attraction.  My biggest issue with the story was the way Shane was dealing with his addictions.  Having his manager hire a "girlfriend" to keep him from his many vices while on tour was just not realistic.  The man really needed some rehab and counseling to help work on them. Especially in 2018 when most fans wouldn't blink an eye at hearing their favorite star had an abuse problem and was seeking help.  It's not uncommon and wouldn't risk his career.  In the notes after the book, the author acknowledges this is an unusual method, but it worked for the book.  I'm not sure it really worked for me enough to believe these wouldn't be an issue later on down the line in their relationship.  Despite this issue, it's a book worth giving a shot.  I look forward to reading Piper's story next.

ROCK KING purchase links

Kindle | Universal Link

iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Purchase in Paperback


Pre-order the next book in the series...

Pre-order Now - Releasing July 17!




Tara Leigh writes steamy contemporary romance featuring tortured heroes worth lusting after and the women they didn't know they needed. She attended Washington University in St. Louis and Columbia Business School in New York, and worked on Wall Street and Main Street before “retiring” to become a wife and mother. When the people in her head became just as real as the people in her life, she decided to put their stories on paper. Tara currently lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut with her husband, children and fur-baby, Pixie.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Blog Tour: Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

Author: Catherine West
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Date of publication: May 2018

Sometimes we’re allowed to glimpse the beauty within the brokenness . . .
Savannah Barrington has always found solace at her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, and it’s the place that she runs to when her husband of over twenty years leaves her. Though her world is shaken, and the future uncertain, she finds hope through an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, and a man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove to Savannah that she is worthy of love.
But soon Savannah is given a challenge she can’t run away from: Forgiving the unforgivable. Amidst the ancient gardens and musty bookstores of the small town she’s sought refuge in, she must reconcile with the grief that haunts her, the God pursuing her, and the wounds of the past that might be healed after all.
Where Hope Begins is the story of grace in the midst of brokenness, pointing us to the miracles that await when we look beyond our own expectations.

In Where Hope Begins, Savannah's husband has left her.  She is still lost in her grief from losing a child years before and escapes to her parents' lake house to try to begin to heal.  This is a story about a family that is hurting and stuck in their grief. It's definitely not a light fluffy second chance book.

I struggled with liking the story line.  I love second chance stories, but I wasn't happy with the direction this one went.  Kevin, Savannah's ex- cheated on her and left her for the other woman. My feelings on the subject definitely clouded my opinion of the book especially regarding the ending.  I don't care what they went through grief wise, nothing justifies infidelity, ever.  Have enough respect to walk away first.  I get the whole forgiveness argument, but forgiveness doesn't mean you go back or trust again.   I was rooting for them to find their way out, but not with that ending.  There were aspects that I liked.  Brock and his daughter added some light to the story. The story is well written, it just wasn't for me in the end. 

Purchase Links

About Catherine West

Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or reading books by her favorite authors. She and her husband have two grown children and one beautiful granddaughter. Catherine is the winner of the 2015 Grace Award (Bridge of Faith) and the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award (The Things We Knew). Her most recent novel, The Memory of You, released March 2017 and Where Hope Begins releases in May 2018. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at

.Connect with Catherine

Instagram Tour:
Monday, June 11th:
Tuesday, June 12th: @novelgossip
Wednesday, June 13th: @mrs.literarylovely
Thursday, June 14th: @ladyofthelibrary
Friday, June 15th: @createexploreread
Friday, June 15th: @thesketchyreader
Saturday, June 16th: @theshybooks
Sunday, June 17th: @pnwbookworm
Sunday, June 17th: @girlsinbooks

Review Tour:
Monday, June 11th: Books & Spoons
Tuesday, June 12th: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Wednesday, June 13th: Moments Dipped in Ink
Friday, June 15th: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, June 18th: Openly Bookish
Tuesday, June 19th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, June 20th: Reader’s Cozy Corner
Friday, June 22nd: Write Read Life
Monday, June 25th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Wednesday, June 27th: Running Through the Storms
Thursday, June 28th: Literary Quicksand
Monday, July 2nd: Blooming with Books
Tuesday, July 3rd: Splashes of Joy
Thursday, July 5th: Books & Bindings
Tuesday, July 10th: Empowermoms
Friday, July 13th: What is That Book About

Monday, June 18, 2018

Blog Tour: Excerpt of When We Found Home by Susan Mallery

We are so excited to be a part of a 3-part tour for the release of When We Found Home by #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery!
Follow along the excerpt tour beginning in mid June, with long excerpts in consecutive order at each tour stop, followed by an Instagram tour and review tour !

Author: Susan Mallery
Publisher: Harelquin
Date of publication: July 10, 2018

Life is meant to be savored, but that’s not easy with no family, limited prospects and a past you’d rather not talk about. Still, Callie Smith doesn’t know how to feel when she discovers she has a brother and a sister–Malcolm, who grew up with affection, wealth and privilege, and Keira, a streetwise twelve-year-old. Callie doesn’t love being alone, but at least it’s safe. Despite her trepidation, she moves into the grand family home with her siblings and grandfather on the shores of Lake Washington, hoping just maybe this will be the start of a whole new life.

But starting over can be messy. Callie and Keira fit in with each other, but not with their posh new lifestyle, leaving Malcolm feeling like the odd man out in his own home. He was clever enough to turn a sleepy Seattle mail-order food catalog into an online gourmet powerhouse, yet he can’t figure out how to help his new sisters feel secure. Becoming a family will take patience, humor, a little bit of wine and a whole lot of love. But love isn’t Malcolm’s strong suit…until a beautiful barista teaches him that an open heart, like the family table, can always make room for more.

In this emotional, funny and heartfelt story, Susan Mallery masterfully explores the definition of a modern family—blended by surprise, not by choice—and how those complicated relationships can add unexpected richness to life.

Enjoy Excerpt #1:

chapter one
AS DELANEY HOLBROOK WATCHED THE MAN IN THE SUIT approach, she did her best to remind herself she’d given up on men in suits—in fact all men and most suits, when it came to that. She was a different person, with new and improved goals, although she could still admire excellent tailoring. And nice blue eyes. And a firm jaw. And his walk. He had a very purposeful walk that was incredibly appealing. She sighed. So much for giving up on men in suits.
She waited until he was directly in front of her before giving in to temptation and saying, “It’s been six weeks and this is getting pretty serious. Don’t you think I should know your name?”
She had no idea how he was going to respond. She half expected him to give her an icy stare and turn away, because this particular man in a suit had an impressive icy stare. She’d seen it more than once, albeit directed at others. But he didn’t glare. Instead he smiled. No, that was wrong. He didn’t just smile, he gave her a slow, sexy grin that kicked her in the gut and left her feeling all fluttery and stupid and just a little hopeful.
Talk about opening Pandora’s box.
“I’m Malcolm.”
His voice was low and masculine, with just enough gravel to give her a happy shiver along her spine.
“Good morning, Malcolm.” She pointed at her name tag. “Delaney, although you already knew that.”
“I did.”
“Your usual?”
Malcolm was a double shot, extra hot, large latte. Although he arrived every morning at exactly seven forty, he bypassed the busy coffee stand in the middle of the building’s lobby, instead making his way to the special bank of elevators that required a cardkey or a security escort to reach their lofty levels. But sometime midmorning, he would wander down for a morning latte.
Her shift ended at ten and more than once she’d found herself lingering, oh so foolishly, so she could take his order. A ridiculous truth that should have embarrassed her, but didn’t. Instead of telling herself that at twenty-nine she was too old to be crushing on a handsome stranger, she went with a kinder, gentler message. Time did heal and as she’d suspected, she was more than ready to return to normal life…whatever that turned out to be.
“My usual,” he confirmed as he handed over a reloadable gift card to pay for his coffee, along with a tall white mug. She ran the card through the cash register, then walked over to start his drink.
Luzia, her teammate, untied her apron. “I’m going to go to the storeroom for more supplies,” she said. “You going to be okay by yourself?”
“I will.”
Luzia smiled politely at Malcolm before stepping out from behind the counter and walking across the lobby.
Alone at last, Delaney thought, careful not to laugh. No way she wanted to explain what was so funny.
Malcolm slid the coffee card back into his wallet, then returned his attention to her. “You’re new.”
“Relatively. I’ve been here nearly two months.” She tipped the small metal pitcher of milk so she could insert the steamer. The familiar hissing, gurgling sound began. She poured four shots of espresso into the mug he’d brought.
“You’re with Alberto’s Alfresco.” She nodded at the logo on his mug. “Your company owns the building and our little coffee stand is a renter. Hmm, does that make you my boss?”
He grinned. “Don’t go there.”
“Why not? I suspect you like being a boss.”
“Not all the time.”
“Most of the time,” she teased. “Your suit is too nice for that not to be true.”
“What is your experience with people in suits?”
“I used to be one.”
“Unexpected.” One eyebrow rose. “Not anymore?”
“No. I’ve decided to go in a different direction.” She poured the steamed milk into his mug. “I know what you’re wondering, so to answer the question, it was my choice.”
In a manner of speaking, she thought. The decision to change careers had been hers—the circumstances leading to that decision had not.
“What direction is that?” he asked.
“I’m going to be a naturopath.” She waited for the look of confusion before adding, “It’s a—”
“I know what naturopathic medicine is. It emphasizes using the body’s own systems for healing through a combination of Western medicine and natural cures.” One corner of his mouth turned up. “My grandfather’s housekeeper has a niece who graduated from Bastyr University with a degree in acupuncture or something like that. Are you a student there?”
She ignored the bit about his grandfather having a housekeeper—the suit already implied money, so she shouldn’t be surprised. “That’s my plan. I have to meet certain prerequisites in science and math but my business degree didn’t require them so I’m going back to college to make them up.” She shook her head. “It’s been a while since I’ve had to go to class and study. My brain is still unamused and crabby about the whole thing.”
He sipped his coffee. “What classes did you start with?”
“Biology and algebra.”
He winced. “Good luck with that.”
“Thanks. At first I had to read every chapter three or four times to remember anything. Now I’m down to only having to read it twice. The lab work has been interesting, though. In three weeks, we have to dissect things. I’m dreading that.”
“There shouldn’t be blood. Whatever it is has been dead awhile.”
“Still. Knives, cutting, organs.” She shuddered.
His blue eyes brightened with amusement. “Is this where I remind you that you’re basically studying to be a doctor?”
“Yeah, I get the irony. I try not to think about it, but I get it.”
They looked at each other. She felt…something. Tension maybe, or awareness. Whatever it was, she appreciated the confirmation that she was alive, relatively healthy and moving on with her life. The world kept turning and dragging her along with it.
“I need to get back to work,” Malcolm told her.
She wanted to believe there was a hint of reluctance in his voice, but she couldn’t be sure. Still, it was nice to think about.
“Me, too.” She glanced at her watch. “Or rather, head home and study for a few hours before class. Enjoy the rest of your day, Malcolm.”
“You, too, Delaney.”
He hesitated a second before turning toward the elevators. She watched him walk away and let herself imagine that he would spin back and ask her to lunch. Or dinner. Yes, dinner on his yacht. Or maybe they could helicopter to somewhere nice, although she wasn’t sure where a helicopter ride from Seattle would get them. Portland? Vancouver. Oooh, an international destination!
Regardless, he would ask her to dinner and they would…
She laughed as she rinsed out the milk pitcher and made sure everything was in order for Luzia and the next shift. She and Malcolm would what? Go to dinner? Kiss? Fall in love?
Hardly. They had nothing in common. Years ago, maybe, when she’d been on the fast track in finance. Only then she’d been engaged to Tim. She wouldn’t have noticed Malcolm at all.
“It doesn’t matter,” she told herself as she slipped off her apron. She had plans and dreams and hopes for the future. Not anything she would have imagined, but now, after everything she’d been through, they felt right. She would learn to heal others and if she got through that, she might have the chance to heal herself, as well.

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 The Taste of Seattle Gift Bag includes:
  • An “I [Heart] Happy Books” tote bag
  • Starbucks Pike’s Place ground coffee
  • Seattle Chocolates gift set (3 truffle jars)
  • Cucina Fresca marinara sauce
  • Sahale Snacks (6 packs)
  • Maury Island Farms jam (2 jars)

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About Susan Mallery

#1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives-family, friendship, romance. She’s known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages.Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at

Connect with Susan
Excerpt Tour:
Monday, June 18th: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, June 19th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy
Wednesday, June 20th: Books & Spoons
Thursday, June 21st: Palmer’s Page Turners
Friday, June 22nd: The Sassy Bookster
Monday, June 25th: Reading Reality
Tuesday, June 26th: A Holland Reads
Wednesday, June 27th: Drey’s Library
Thursday, June 28th: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Friday, June 29th: Mama Reads Blog
Monday, July 2nd: The Sketchy Reader
Thursday, July 5th: OMG Reads
Friday, July 6th: What is That Book About
Instagram Tour:
Monday, July 9th:
Tuesday, July 10th: @worldswithinpages
Wednesday, July 11th: @thepagesinbetween
Thursday, July 12th: @utcbookblog
Thursday, July 12th: @mwladieswholit
Friday, July 13th: @brookesbooksandbrews
Saturday, July 14th: @pretty_little_library
Sunday, July 15th: @createexploreread
Sunday, July 15th: @basicbsguide

Review Tour
Monday, July 9th: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, July 10th: Books & Bindings
Tuesday, July 10th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy
Wednesday, July 11th: Broken Teepee
Thursday, July 12th: Reading Reality
Friday, July 13th: Not in Jersey
Monday, July 16th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Tuesday, July 17th: Palmer’s Page Turners
Wednesday, July 18th: Bewitched Bookworms
Thursday, July 19th: Into the Hall of Books
Friday, July 20th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, July 23rd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, July 23rd: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Tuesday, July 24th: Becky on Books
Wednesday, July 25th:OMG Reads
Thursday, July 26th: Why Girls Are Weird
Friday, July 27th: Moonlight Rendezvous
Monday, July 30th: The Romance Dish
Monday, July 30th: Stranded in Chaos
Tuesday, July 31st: Romantic Reads and Such
Wednesday, August 1st:Mama Reads Blog
Thursday, August 2nd: A Chick Who Reads

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Blog Tour: Excerpt of Cowboy SEAL Redemption by Nicole Helm

Author: Nicole Helm
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casblanca
Date of publication: June 2018

Three former Navy SEALs
Injured in the line of duty
Desperate for a new beginning…
Searching for a place to call their own.

Jack Armstrong’s been slowly piecing his life back together after a career-ending injury bounced him from the SEALs. The only trouble is, his family’s on their way to his new haven in Montana...and Jack refuses to let them know he’s still hurting. Desperate, he makes a deal with local bad girl Rose Rogers: in exchange for some extra security, she’ll play the perfect loving girlfriend.

Rose doesn’t trust any man, much less some tough-as-nails former SEAL. But the more they settle into their ruse, the more things start to feel real, and the more Rose’s true fear surfaces—that she’ll never be good enough for love. But Jack isn’t about to lose Rose. He’s done running when things get tough, and he’s determined to prove—once and for all—that even the most troubled hearts can find their way to redemption.

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Enjoy this excerpt!

Come inside.
“Remember when you said you weren’t any country I swore to protect? Well, I’m not some sob story you need to soothe your conscience with,” Jack said.
“That’s not what I’m doing,” Rose returned through gritted teeth, because maybe he wasn’t too far off the mark. She didn’t exactly see him as a sob story, but there might have been a flash of truth she recognized in the whole soothe your conscience bit.
“Then what are you doing?”
“I don’t know,” she threw back at him, frustration and guilt and some other thing that felt a whole lot like panic fluttering in her chest. What was there to panic over? What did she care if Jack took off? They were maybe friends at best, and he’d just made it clear he was coming back. Panic was nonsensical. Frustration was pointless. Guilt was…
Well, inevitable.
“Seems to be a theme,” he murmured, his voice suddenly soft. “Not used to that, are you?”
She wanted to tell him he didn’t know her, but she couldn’t form the words, couldn’t push them out of her mouth.
“Me neither,” he said, as if she’d agreed instead of remained silent and still. She felt his fingertips on her cheek, hot and rough against the cool of her skin. A gentle caress.
He was touching her like something delicate and precious, and her breath got all tangled in her lungs. She swallowed, trying to find some sense of power, some sense of her usual cool detachment.
“W-what are you doing?” Had she just stuttered that question? Unacceptable. Rose Rogers didn’t stutter.
“I thought we established I don’t have a clue what I’m doing, so it might as well be this,” Jack returned, his voice a dark rumble.
And in the dark night, like so many of her dreams lately, Jack’s mouth was on hers. Hot and somehow demanding. None of the timid, only-been-with-one-girl stuff she might have imagined.
His beard was a rough scrape against her chin and his tongue a velvet whisper across her lips, and no matter the little voice in her head telling her to stop this before it hurt them both, she opened her mouth for him.
His tongue swept in, and everything inside her shut up and hummed with a pulsing life. It might have been dark around her, but she felt like a beacon of light, like the center of something. And when Jack’s warm hand slid behind her neck, cupping it firmly, as if she was somehow his to cherish and protect, everything inside her simply loosened and relaxed in a way it never, ever had.
That was quickly followed by a bolt of panic so hard and so potent, she pushed him away. It was only then she realized she was shaking, maybe shaking apart, against the brick wall of her bar.
Her bar. Her power. She was in charge. She was…
Broken, just like me.
She pushed away her father’s voice, pushed away everything except the feel of the cool, rough brick behind her back. This was her center, this rough-and-tumble, hole-in-the-wall bar she’d worked her ass off for the past few years.
She took a deep breath in and a deep breath out, almost able to laugh at the fact that she could hear Jack doing exactly the same thing.
Calming himself. Finding center.
“I’m not going to pretend I didn’t… Well, that was a hell of a kiss, Jack.”
“Okay,” he replied, his voice frustratingly devoid of any readable emotion.
“I imagine sex would be great too.”
“I would imagine,” he replied blandly.
“I need you to understand something, okay? You’re not disposable, but I’m not…good guy material. I’m attracted to you, God knows, and I’d even break a few personal rules and sleep with you, but that’s all it would be.”
“Did you think that kiss was me asking for a pity fuck?” And there was a hint at some emotion—rage or wounded pride or both.
“No. No, that’s not what… Look, guys like you do not have relationships with foul-mouthed, tattooed bar owners.”
“Guys like me.”
“Yes. Good, upstanding—for heaven’s sake, you were a Navy SEAL, engaged to the girl next door that your family expected you to marry. You’re like an American fairy tale. Let me tell you, a princess gets that guy. Not me.”
“Did you mistake me kissing you for a marriage proposal?”
She blew out a breath and something almost like a laugh. “No. But… One woman. You’ve had one lifelong relationship, and I just need to be clear that this ain’t going to be that. This can be something temporary and fun, but nothing like a relationship. That’s not what I’m after.”
“I see.”
“So you can take it or leave it.”
He was quiet for the longest time, and it was stupid to hold her breath or worry. Of course he would take it. It was sex without strings. It was the modern American Dream.
But Jack never seemed to do the expected thing.
“Leave it,” he replied, a firm, commanding response that brooked no argument.

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