Friday, December 31, 2021

Books I DNF'd in December

: I'm definitely in the minority when it comes to this book.  It got good reviews.  I was confused and bored.  It could be because I listened to the audiobook and the accent was kind o thick.  Maybe had I read the actual book, I might have liked it more.  There were also too many perspectives in the beginning.  Not for me.

Getaway:  At this point, I should just give up on this author.  I try to be optimistic and give authors multiple chances.  But this is the 3rd book that I have DNF'd by her.  I was immediately turned off by the "traumatic attack" that the one sister was a victims of.  Why are we using real life events for a fictional book?  Just my opinion, but it turned me off.

Grimrose Girls
:  Let's take a bunch of cliche teens and put them in a  private boarding school.  Then try to shoehorn them into a bunch of fairytale retellings and you have this mess.  I got about 40% in and had to stop listening.  I was bored.  I didn't like any of the characters.  Clearly this was not a book for me.

The Other Black Girl:  I'm not sure why this book got such good reviews.    I disliked the main character immensely.  She never seemed to take any responsibility for anything that she did.  She didn't understand why she wasn't moving ahead in the company.  But she also never showed initiative, which would be something a boss would be looking for in order to promote someone.  I don't always have to like a main character, but I just didn't care for this one. 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Spotlight: Excerpt of Cry Wolf by Hans Rosenfeldt


Author: Hans Rosenfeldt
ISBN: 9781335425713
Publication Date: December 28, 2021
Publisher: Hanover Square Press

The first standalone Swedish crime novel by Hans Rosenfeldt, creator of the TV series The Bridge as well as Netflix’s Emmy-winning Marcella.

A dead wolf. A drug deal gone wrong. A female assassin of rarely seen skill. Hannah Wester, a policewoman in the remote northern town of Haparanda, finds herself on the precipice of chaos.
When human remains are found in the stomach of a dead wolf, Hannah knows that this summer won’t be like any other. The remains are linked to a bloody drug deal across the border in Finland. But how did the victim end up in the woods outside of Haparanda? And where have the drugs and money gone?
Hannah and her colleagues leave no stone unturned. But time is scarce and they aren’t the only ones looking. When the secretive and deadly Katja shows up, unexpected and brutal events start to pile up. In just a few days, life in Haparanda is turned upside down. Not least for Hannah, who is finally forced to confront her own past.
Buy Links: 
Here is a sneak peek: 

Everything had gone according to plan.

First their arrival.

Be the first in place, park the jeep and black Mercedes be-side each other on a rutted clearing in the middle of the forest, used by lumber trucks and harvesters for loading and U-turns, then position the coolers to face the narrow forest road they’d just come down. The ruts beneath them, the nocturnal birdsong around them, the only thing besides absolute silence until the sound of engines announced the arrival of the Finns.

A Volvo XC90, also black, drove up. Vadim watched as Artjom and Michail took their weapons and left the Mercedes, while he and Ljuba climbed out of their jeep. He liked Ljuba, thought she liked him, too. They’d gone out for a beer together a few times, and when they asked her who she wanted to drive with, she’d chosen him. For a moment he considered telling her to wait in the car, take cover, say he had a premonition this might go wrong. But if he did that, what would they do afterwards?

Run away together? Live happily ever after?

That would be impossible once she knew what had happened. She’d never betray Valerij; she didn’t like him that much, he was sure of it. So he said nothing.

The Volvo stopped a few meters in front of them, the engine switched off, the doors opened and four men stepped out. All of them armed. Looked around suspiciously as they fanned out.

Everything was still.

The calm before the storm.

The Finnish leader, a large man with a buzz cut and a tribal tattoo wrapped around one eye, nodded to the smallest of the four Finns, who holstered his gun, walked behind the Volvo and opened the trunk. Vadim also backed up a few steps to un-lock his jeep’s trunk.

So far everything was going according to their plan.

Time for his plan.

A bullet from a rifle with a silencer on it entered just beneath the eye of the large Finn closest to the car. The sudden explosion of bone, blood, and brain matter as the projectile made its way through the back of his head made the others react instinctively.

Everyone started shooting at the same time.

Everyone except Vadim, who threw himself behind the shelter of the jeep.

The man with the tattoo on his face roared loudly, hugged his trigger, and immediately took down Michail with four or five shots to the chest. Artyom answered with gunfire. The tattooed man was hit by two bullets, staggered back, but re-gained his balance and turned his weapon on Artyom, who threw himself behind the cover of the Mercedes, but it was too late. Several bullets hit his legs from the hip down. Shrieking in pain, he landed on dry gravel. The tattooed man continued bleeding, roaring, and shooting as he moved toward the Volvo, determined to make it out of here alive. But a second later he fell to his knees gurgling, let go of his weapon and pressed his hands to what was left of his neck.

Somewhere more shots were fired, more screams could be heard.

Artjom slid up into a sitting position, while trying to stop the blood that gushed from his thigh in the same rhythm as his racing heartbeat. Then another series of shots, and he went still, his gaze turning from desperation to emptiness, his lips forming some soundless word before his head slumped onto his chest.

The third Finn had thrown himself into the cover of a shallow ditch with a good view beneath the parked cars. A round of concentrated fire from his semi-automatic had hit Artjom in the back. Vadim realized that he, too, must be visible and flung himself around the jeep to hide behind one of its large wheels. When he got to the side of the car, he saw the smallest of the four Finns lying dead on the ground.

Ljuba wasn’t visible.

Another round of shots sounded from the ditch at the forest edge and bullets hit the metal on the back of the wheel, puncturing the tire. One went through the rubber and hit him in the side, just above his butt. The pain was a white-hot flash through his body. He closed his eyes, swallowed a scream, leaned his forehead against his knees and made himself as small as he could. As he slowly let the air in his lungs out again, he realized the gunfire had ceased.

It was silent. Completely silent.

No movement, no voices, no roar of pain or betrayal, no bird-song, nothing. As if the very place itself were holding its breath.

He peeked out carefully from behind the jeep.

Still silent. And still.

Slowly, slowly he raised his head for a better view. The sun hung below the trees, but still above the horizon; the scene in front of him was bathed in that particular soft, warm light of the midnight sun.

He rose cautiously to his feet. A bullet was still lodged in his muscle and tissue, but it didn’t seem to have damaged any vital organs. He pressed his hand to the wound. Blood, but no more than he could stop with a compress.


Ljuba was leaning against the rear bumper of the Finn’s car, breathing shallowly, the front of her gray T-shirt beneath her jacket soaked in blood, the gun still in her right hand. Vadim assessed the damage. The blood was running out at a steady rate, so it hadn’t nicked an artery. No air bubbles, so her lungs were probably intact. She might very well survive.

“Who shot us?” she asked, out of breath, grabbing Vadim’s jacket with a bloody hand. “Who the fuck started shooting?”

“He’s with us.”

“What? What do you mean with us? Who is he?”

“Come on.”

He gently took the gun away from her, pushed it into his pocket before standing up, leaned forward and helped her to her feet. She grimaced from the pain of exertion but managed to stand. With his arm around her waist and her arm around his shoulders, they walked out into the open area between the cars. When they reached the rise where the tattooed Finn had fallen, Vadim stopped, gently removed Ljuba’s arm, released his supportive grip from around her waist, and backed away with two large steps.

“I’m sorry…”

Ljuba’s gaze was uncomprehending at first, but she soon realized what was happening, why he’d brought her here. Seconds later a bullet pierced her temple and she was thrown to the ground.

Vadim pressed his hand to the wound on his lower back and stretched, let out a deep sigh.

In the end, everything had gone according to plan.

Excerpted from Cry Wolf by Hans Rosenfeldt, Copyright © 2022 by Hans Rosenfeldt. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Author Bio: 
Hans Rosenfeldt is a Swedish screenwriter, radio presenter, novelist and actor. He created the Scandinavian series The Bridge, which is broadcast in more than 170 countries, as well as the ITV/Netflix series Marcella
Social Links:
Author Website - none
Instagram: @hansrosenfeldtofficial
Facebook: @hjorthrosenfeldt

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Spotlight & Giveaway: A Chef's Kiss by Nina Crespo

Today we have the blog tour of Nina Crespo’s A Chef’s Kiss! Check it out and be sure to grab your copy today!

Title: A Chef’s Kiss

Author: Nina Crespo

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About A Chef’s Kiss:

A satisfying, sexy romantic story from Harlequin’s Special Edition Imprint   A welcome second chance…Or a recipe for disaster? After their ill-fated fling quashed her dreams, small-town chef Philippa Gayle’s onetime rival-turned-lover Dominic Crawford upended her life. But when Philippa’s forced together with the celebrity cook on a project that could change her life, there's no denying that the flames that were lit years ago were only banked, not extinguished. Can Philippa trust Dominic enough to let him in…or are they just cooking up another heartbreak? 

Get Your Copy:

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About Nina Crespo:

Nina Crespo lives in Florida where she indulges in her favorite passions — the beach, a good glass of wine, date night with her own real-life hero and dancing.   Her lifelong addiction to romance began in her teens while on a “borrowing spree” in her older sister’s bedroom where she discovered her first romance novel. Let Nina’s sensual contemporary stories and steamy paranormal tales feed your own addiction for love, romance, and happily ever after. Stay connected with Nina on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or through her newsletter.  

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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Kari's Top 10 of 2021

 In no particular order, here are my top 10 books that I read in 2021:

Monday, December 27, 2021

Review: When All the Girls are Sleeping by Emily Arsenault

Author: Emily Arsenault
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: July 2021

Windham-Farnswood Academy is beautiful, prestigious, historic--the perfect place for girls to prep for college. But every student knows all is not as it seems. Each January, the Winter Girl comes knocking. She's the spirit who haunts the old senior dorm, and this year is no exception.

For Haley, the timing couldn't be worse. This month marks the one-year anniversary of the death of her ex-best friend, Taylor. When a disturbing video of Taylor surfaces, new questions about her death emerge. And it actually looks like Taylor was murdered.

Now, as Haley digs into what really happened last year, her search keeps bringing her back to the Winter Girl. Haley wants to believe ghosts aren't real, but the clues--and the dark school history she begins to undercover--say otherwise. Now it's up to her to solve the mystery before history has a chan
ce to repeat itself and another life is taken.

When All the Girls are Sleeping is another recent YA thriller that I really enjoyed.  There is a tale of a resident ghost, known as The Winter Girl.  She appears every winter ion a certain date in Haley's dorm.  Sometimes in white and sometimes in black.  Last year, Haley's former friend Taylor fell out of a window.  Did she jump or was there something more paranormal at play?  Now that Haley is a senior, she begins to believe that maybe Taylor didn't really jump.

As I said, I ended up really enjoying this one. The boarding school dorm setting made for a creepy atmosphere.  Not knowing if it was a paranormal event or something more going on made me want to keep reading to the end.  I didn't call the reveal at all. I definitely thought it was going in a different direction. There were some places that were kind of info dumps, but it didn't slow down the pacing.

 I liked the characters, especially Haley.  She was smart and methodical in her approach to figuring out what happened to Taylor.  I also liked that she was a scholarship kid  and not the stereotypical right boarding school student. The other characters were interesting and enhanced the story.  I definitely recommend this one!

Sunday, December 26, 2021

December Mini Musings

It Started With a Kiss:  This one is an insta-love romance where really nothing happens.  I'm not usually a big lover of angst in my romances, but I needed at least something in this one.  It was almost too sugary sweet of a book.  The characters were kind of boring.  It's not a bad story, it's just kind of meh,

Winter's Mourn:  This is the first book in a series featuring Rookie FBI agent Winter Black.  I thought it was a solid mystery.  I enjoyed the main character, Winter.  She came across as a realistic survivor if trauma.  While there is a mystery in the book that is solved, there seems to be a story arch that will continue in later books.  A serial killer is following Winter and leaving her messages.  I am looking forward to the next in the series.
Spring at Saddle Run: I really enjoyed this one.  The main characters spouses died together in a car crash.  They have lived with the horrific truth that their spouses were having an affair.  I enjoyed their romance and how they took their time.  I did figure out the truth of what happened fairly early on, but it didn't take away from the romance.  I also enjoyed Joe's relationship with his daughter.  I definitely recommend this one.   

The Last Goodnight:  This one was kind of OK for me.  The romance was a bit too insta-love for me. It was a bit more like insta-lust.  It just seemed a bit forced at times.  They mystery was not easy to figure out so I liked that aspect.  It was long and repetitive.  I'll probably read the next one.  

Christmas with the Sheriff:  This was a very sweet romance.  I loved Julia and Chase together, Their friendship and history made their romance so believable.  I also loved Chase's daughter and his relationship with her.  This was a cute and fun Christmas romance and one I highly recommend.

'Tis the Season to be Kissed:  This was a very cute and sexy short story.  I liked the force proximity situation.  The main characters did have a background together, so it was believable.  My only complaint is that it was too short.  I wanted to see what came next with the couple.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas!


From our homes to yours...Merry Christmas!  

May you find peace and joy in this holiday season!

Love Kari & Autumn

Friday, December 24, 2021

Spotlight: Excerpt of Christmas at the Chateau by Rochelle Alers


by Rochelle Alers 
Publication Date: November 2021 
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition

The halls are decked for holiday romance in nationally bestselling author Rochelle Alers's latest book in the Bainbridge House series! Christmas dinner’s on the table, and it's being served with a side of romance! Executive chef Viola Williamson has to have the kitchen up and running by the time the Bainbridge House restoration is complete. Working closely with Dom Shaw, Viola is struck by her hotter-than-mulled-cider attraction to her family estate’s handsome caretaker. It’s obvious that he feels it, too—yet Dom keeps his distance. Can Viola convince him that with all this cooking going on, he’s the only one stirring her heart?  

Barnes & Noble
Excerpt, CHRISTMAS AT THE CHATEAU by Rochelle Alers
Dom turned his head, successfully hiding the smile struggling to emerge. He didn’t know why, but he hadn’t expected to overhear the ribald curse that had flowed so effortlessly from Viola. “That’s good to know because that would definitely negate us becoming friends.”
Viola narrowed her eyes, reminding him of a cat ready to attack. “Do you always test your friends?”
“Most times I do.”
“Why, Dom?”
“Because I have trust issues.” The admission had come out unbidden. But if he were completely forthcoming with Viola, then he would’ve said his distrust was with women. It didn’t matter whether they were platonic or intimate, he’d made it a practice to keep their relationships at a distance.
“Bad breakup with a girlfriend?”
“No,” he said truthfully. “It was a marriage that ended with irreconcilable differences.”
She blinked slowly. “Well, you’re not the only one with trust issues. And mine are not with an ex-husband but with the men I’ve dated. They say one thing and do something entirely different.”
This time Dom did smile. She’d just given him the opening he’d needed to discover more about her. “Are you saying you’re not currently involved with anyone?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m not involved and don’t want to become involved. Right now, my sole focus is getting these kitchens renovated so that I can be ready once the hotel opens for business.”
It appeared as if they were on the same page when it came to relationships. Neither wanted one. And for him, it would make her presence on the property a win-win. Although he’d found Viola attractive, just knowing she didn’t want anything more than friendship would make it easy for Dom to relate to her as a friend.
“Do you have an idea as to what you want to offer your guests?” he asked, deftly changing the topic of conversation.
“That all depends on the clientele. If it’s a wedding, then that would be at the discretion of the bride and groom. However, for guests coming for a business conference, the food would be different from what would be served at a wedding reception. Then there are folks that may just want to stop by to hang out at the lounge for drinks and to watch sports. For them, I would have a special bar menu.”
“It sounds as if you have everything planned out in advance.”
Viola flashed a dreamy smile. “I would have to. I can’t afford to wait until we’re ready to open for business to begin creating menus without taste testing every item beforehand.”
Dom grinned from ear to ear. “I wouldn’t mind becoming one of your taste testers.”
She laughed. “I’ll definitely keep that in mind.”
Dom sobered. “When do you intend to come back here again?”
Viola also sobered. “Why?”


Hailed by readers and booksellers alike as one of today's most popular African-American authors of women's fiction, Ms. Alers is a regular on bestsellers list, and has been a recipient of numerous awards, including the Vivian Stephens Award for Excellence in Romance Writing and a Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award.  

Visit her Web site

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Review: The Dead List by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Publication Date: April 2015

It's Ella's senior year of high school and she and her best friend Linds plan to make it the best year ever. At Brock Cochran's end of summer pool party, the girls vow to have as much fun as possible before they head off to different colleges next fall. But when Ella is mysteriously attacked on her way home from the party, everything changes. Ella's carefree senior year plans disintegrate as she finds herself at the center of an attempted murder investigation.

Ella tries to move on, but her attacker isn't done yet. He shows himself in the form of horrifying signs and symbols: a clown mask strewn on her bed, a dead bird in her backpack, a shadow moving past her window in the night. And as the weeks pass, it turns out that Ella isn't the only one being tormented.

With the help of an old flame, Jensen Carver, and her friends and family, Ella tries to attain some sense of normalcy, but she can't seem to shake the feeling that there's a dark pattern hidden in the killer's every move. Suddenly, even those in her innermost circle seem suspicious. In her seemingly safe West Virginia town, Ella starts to wonder who she can trust.

Somehow, I missed The Dead List when it came out a few years ago.  After reading a few underwhelming YA mysteries this year, I did not hold out hope that I would like this one.  I am pleased to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  Ella is attacked one night while elating a party. While she tries to move on from the attack, someone won't let her forget it. And now her friends are targets.

I really enjoyed this one.  I immediately liked Ella.  She as smart and didn't take stupid chances.  I loved that she actually told her mother when she thought someone had been in the house and didn't dismiss it.  I always see that in movies and it drives me nuts.  In fact, I liked that parents were present in this book.  The mystery was intriguing.  I didn't call the twists.  I liked the slasher like elements.

I also enjoyed the romance.  It wasn't annoying and they actually communicated with each other. Even before they had sex for the first time. Because of that scene, this should be kept to the older YA reader.   I really  thought the author handled that entire scenario very well and thoughtfully.     I also appreciated that there was a lack of love triangle. That is all I'm going to say.  I don't want to spoil anything.  I highly recommend this one if you are looking for a good YA mystery that keeps you guessing.  

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Spotlight: Excerpt of Buried Cold Case Secrets by Sami A. Abrams


Author: Sami A. Abrams 
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Publication Date: Dec.28, 2021

Recovering her missing memories could be the key to solving a murder. Searching for her best friend’s remains could help forensic anthropologist Melanie Hutton regain her memories of when they were both kidnapped—unless the killer gets to Melanie first. For her safety, Melanie must rely on Detective Jason Cooper, who still blames her for his sister’s death. Can Jason set the past aside to solve the cold-case murder…and shield Melanie from the same fate?
Barnes & Noble:
Excerpt, BURIED COLD CASE SECRETS by Sami A. Abrams
“Does it still hurt?”
She jumped.
“Didn’t mean to startle you. Guess I have a habit of doing that.” Jason rested against the neighboring tree.
Several deep breaths later, she forced a smile. “It’s okay.”
He narrowed his gaze and studied her a moment. “Well? Does it?”
“A little.” Truthfully, a lot, but Jason didn’t need to know that. “I, uh, wanted to thank you for watching out for me today.”
“Just doing my job.” The muscles in his neck and shoulders tensed.
“We both know it’s more than that.” She wiped her hand down her face. “Jason. We’re going to be working together for the foreseeable future. Do you think we can call a truce, at least while we do our jobs?”
His jaw twitched, and he remained silent.
She’d asked a lot, but the strain between them had to stop. She watched him for a few minutes then shook her head.
“Never mind.” She pushed from the trunk and limped to the hole in the ground. Her lead-filled heart threatened to drop to her feet. To think that fifteen years ago, she’d had a crush on him. He’d teased her and Allison, but he’d never allowed others to speak unkind words to them. If only she could return to those carefree days. The days before she had died on the inside and her friend had died for real.
Someday, Allison, I’ll find your body. I promise.
She swiped the wetness from her cheeks and lowered herself into the grave. The movement mimicked her mood. She picked up her trowel and searched for more bones.
An hour later, Melanie’s headache had become unbearable, causing her stomach to roil. Just what she needed, to lose her lunch in front of Jason. Scanning the grave, she spotted the paintbrush she used for delicate work. She grasped the handle, but dropped it. She tried again, but her fingers refused to cooperate. Her eyelids grew heavy. Something was off. She sat on the edge of the hole.
“Jason, help.” Her words were slurred. She struggled to stay upright. The trees in front of her blurred and swayed.
He kneeled down and came face-to-face with her. “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know.”
“Help me out here. What’s the last thing you did?”
“I—I…” She struggled against the gray cloud jumbling her thoughts. “Took a break a while ago. Only digging since.”
His gaze flew to a spot behind her.
She wilted into him. Her vision tunneled, and darkness closed in.
“Keith! Grab the cooler and her bag!”
Jason’s frantic voice registered, but her body had shut down.
His warm arms lifted her. Her head bobbed and landed on his shoulder.
Her cheek bounced against his chest in cadence with the pounding of his feet on the path.
His rhythmic breathing was the last thing she heard before the world went dark.


Two-time Genesis winner Sami A. Abrams and her husband live in Northern California, but she’ll always be a Kansas girl at heart. She enjoys visiting her two grown children and spoiling their sweet fur babies. Most evenings, if Sami’s not watching sports, you’ll find her engrossed in a romantic suspense novel. She thinks a crime plus a little romance is the recipe for a great story. Visit her at


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Review: Killer Content by Kiley Roache

Author: Kiley Roache
Publisher: Underlined
Publication Date: November 2021

35 million followers. One dead body.

The six teenagers who make up the Hype House seem to have it all. A beach front Malibu mansion, millions of TikTok followers, model good looks, and sponsorship deals up to $30,000 per post. Everything's pretty much a Gen-Z paradise. Except that one member of the house has just turned up dead in the infinity pool. And the rest of them are suspects.

When the group TikTok account starts posting cryptic messages about the murder, the police limit their investigation to the members of the house. Now old joke videos are filed as evidence and past rivalries start to look like motives.

As investigators dig into these influencers' lives beyond their glossy internet personalities, they discover all five had reasons their lives would've been easier with Sydney Reynolds dead. But only one of them killed her. 

I'll start by saying that I am most definitely not the audience for this book.    I'm not even sure why I finished the book. Probably because I didn't have anything else on my iPod that day.  Anyway, the story is about a group of teenage "influencers" who rent a house for the summer. When one of them dies, the others in the house become suspects.

The story is very predictable.  I called the "twist" from the beginning.  The reveal is about 75% of the way through, so the ending is kind of anticlimactic.  The characters were all equally horrible and self absorbed.  I had to suspend disbelief that their parents would allow them at age 17 to live by themselves for the summer.  Also, the way the police handled the investigation was very unrealistic.    I wouldn't recommend this one.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Review: The Spinster and the Rake by Eva Devon

Author: Eva Devon
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: February 2021

Edward Stanhope, the icy Duke of Thornfield, likes his life in a certain order. Give him a strong drink, a good book, and his dog for company, and he’s content. But when he goes to his library and finds a woman sitting in his chair, petting his dog, what starts as a request for her to leave quickly turns to a fiery battle of wits, leading to a steamy kiss that could ruin them both if they were caught.

So of course, damn it all, that’s when Edward’s aunt walks in, and thereafter announces Miss Georgiana Bly is the future Duchess of Thornfield.

Georgiana was content to be a spinster, spending her days reading and working to keep her family out of debt. But now her days are spent locked away with a growly duke, learning how to be the perfect duchess, and her nights spent fighting the undeniable attraction to a man who was never meant for her.

As their wedding day approaches, the attraction between them burns hot and fierce, but is it enough to melt the duke’s chilly facade? 

The Spinster and the Rake is the first book in the Never a Wallflower series.  This one involves  Edward and Georgiana.  They are two people who never wanted to marry, yet are forced to when they are caught in a compromising situation.  I was hoping for an amusing story and while there were amusing parts, it kind of fell short of my expectations.   I did ultimately enjoy the book, however I didn't love it.

The romance part was fairly good.  They had great chemistry together and good banter.  I liked how they played well off of each other.  The hero seems to be on the spectrum. But since I really have no experience with autism I can't say how accurate the representation is for this character.  The biggest issue I have about both of these characters is that they don't fit the title.  Edward is hardly a rake and I wouldn't say Georgiana is a spinster either.  She never wants to get married.  Edward is kind of socially awkward and not one I would say is a great seducer of women.  As for the rest of it, I found it repetitive and kind of slow going.  Nothing really happens.  The big conflict in the end was such a dud because it was easily fixed with money and influence.  It's a quick read, so give it a shot. I'll probably read the next one.

Spotlight: Excerpt of Rodeo Christmas at Evergreen Ranch by Maisey Yates


Author: Maisey Yates
ISBN: 9781335959171
Publication Date: October 26, 2021
Publisher: HQN Books

Gold Valley’s rodeo champion is facing the toughest challenge of his life – a Christmas wedding!
Legendary bull-rider Jake Daniels has only one plan this holiday season – to ignore the pain it always brings. Until his best friend Callie Carson shows up on his ranch with a marriage proposal! Jake has lived so close to the edge it’s a miracle he’s still alive – he knows all about risk. But marrying the woman he craves more than anything feels like the biggest risk of all.
Callie Carson might be rodeo royalty, but to fulfil her dreams of riding saddle bronc, she needs her inheritance. And to access that, she needs a husband. But Jake the husband is deliciously different from Jake the friend, especially after the wild heat of their wedding night! He was only supposed to be her cowboy for Christmas, but Jake’s every heart-stopping touch has Callie questioning how she’ll ever be able to walk away…

Buy Links:
Barnes & Noble
Enjoy this excerpt:


JAKE DANIELS HAD grown up knowing that life was short. When he was in high school, he’d lost his parents, and along with them, the sense that anything in this world was guaranteed.

That kind of thing changed a man.

It could make him afraid of his own shadow, worried about taking risks and filled with a sense of self-preservation.

It was either that, or he realized since there were no guarantees, he might as well go all in. Push those chips out to the center of the table and see if the gamble paid off.

He’d done some admittedly dumb stuff as a kid. Not gambling so much as acting out. But the rodeo had changed him. It had saved him.

He’d spent the last eighteen years gambling and doing pretty damn well for himself, it had to be said. Years spent in the rodeo, flinging himself around on the back of enraged bulls, had netted him a decent amount of money, and now that he was more or less ready to get out of the game, those winnings, and the amount of money his parents’ life insurance had left behind, had gotten him a big spread in Gold Valley.

He was going to be a rancher.

Not cattle, like his cousin Ryder. No. He was getting into horses. High-value breeds. Another gamble. It would either pay off, or ruin him.

That was the kind of life he liked. That was the kind of thing that made him feel alive.

And if this was retirement, hell, he was pretty damn into it. Thirty-two years old, and wealthy enough to figure out a way to live his dream. Not bad at all.

Of course, there were things he would miss about the rodeo. The people on the circuit were practically family now. So many years traveling around the same venues, getting busted up together, competing fiercely and going out for a beer after.

But it had been time to leave, and all it had taken was one fierce accident to teach him that.

And Gold Valley was his home, so this had been the place to go to when his time in the rodeo was done.

The day his parents had died, his aunt and uncle had also died, along with the mother of one of his closest friends. That had left a passel of orphaned children, a big old ranch that had once been run by their parents and a whole lot of chaos.

But it had been a good life. Other than all the crushingly sad parts.

His cousin Ryder had taken care of all of them, since he was the only one who’d been eighteen when the tragedy had happened.

He often wondered how they’d made it through without Ryder punching them all in the damn face.

He was sure that Ryder had wanted to from time to time.

Hell. Jake and Colt had been absolute assholes. Neither of them had handled losing their parents well. Well, was there a good way to handle that? He didn’t know. But at seventeen and fifteen, he and his brother had been mad at the world, and kicking against the one person who had been doing his best to help them.

They’d both left home and joined the rodeo, the Western take on running away and joining the circus.

It had taken some years and some maturity for him to fully appreciate what he’d had.

Because what Ryder had given to them had been bound up in his loss, and until he’d been in his midtwenties probably, he hadn’t fully been able to separate those two things and think of home, and his cousin, without a measure of pain and anger.

Even now, when he pulled into Hope Springs Ranch, a strange sensation took hold of him.

Nostalgia, grief and home, all rolled into one.

He’d been contending with it a lot lately, because his—for lack of a better word—retirement was still fairly new, and being in one place and not on the road was unusual for him.

But that was a choice he’d made, and one that was taking a bit of time for him to settle into. It had been just over three months, and it still felt...wrong in some ways.

It was easier to pretend that all your demons were dealt with when you just spent a good portion of the time running from them. Made things simple. At least as simple as they could be.

The problem was his demons had done a decent job of catching up to him on the circuit, and that was when he’d decided it was time to move on.

When Cal had fallen...

How could he live with something happening to his mentee? Cal was his best friend and with his guidance had gotten hurt.

No, that had brought him back to a dark, raw place. One he didn’t want to visit again.

That calm before the storm. That bright ray of sunshine revealed to be the headlights of a Mack truck bearing down on him.

He’d read that poem that said nothing gold could stay.

In his experience, it turned out gold was fleeting. And revealed to be fool’s gold on top of it.

Good never lasted.

And it was rarely real, anyway.

He’d been... Well, he hadn’t been thrilled about Cal wanting to come for Thanksgiving, but he felt responsible for the accident so in the end he hadn’t been able to say no.

He pulled his truck up to the front of the farmhouse, and the door opened, three dogs spilling out the front and down the front steps.

“Back, mutts,” he muttered when he got out of the truck, smiling affectionately at the creatures as he bent down and scratched them behind the ears.

He looked up and saw Sammy standing on the top step of the porch, her baby on her hip. Sammy was married to his cousin Ryder now, but she was another member of their ragtag family. She hadn’t lost her parents, but her situation at home, as he understood it, had been unacceptable, and when she was sixteen she’d come to live with them. She’d never left, and she and Ryder had gotten married a year earlier.

Finally, in his opinion.

The two of them had spent way too long dancing around the truth. Not that he could blame them. Nothing in his life had ever made marriage look particularly appealing. His parents...

His parents had been unhappy, slaves to a ranch and their children, to marriage vows they’d said to each other and had always seemed like they might regret.

For just a moment it had seemed like it might all be fixed. For just a moment it had seemed like they’d be okay.

Then it had all been destroyed.

That bright spot of hope swallowed by reality.

After years of unhappiness, his parents had just died.

Jake couldn’t imagine that kind of life.

“How you doing?” he asked.

Sammy shifted the baby from one hip to the other, the little girl reaching out and grabbing her mom’s blond hair. Sammy laughed and unwrapped the chubby fist from her curls. She looked happier than he’d ever seen her before.

He supposed for some people there was something to be said for this life.

God knew Ryder seemed happier.

But then, it was impossible for Ryder to seem more grim. Jake felt pretty guilty about that with the benefit of age and wisdom.

“Great,” Sammy said. “We’ve been seeing so much of you lately. I feel spoiled.”

“Well, that’s good, because it won’t take long for you to just feel sick of me.”

“Never,” Sammy said, coming down the steps and offering him a hug.

Sammy was like that. Effortless, easy affection with people around her.

He admired it, but he’d never much understood it. There was only one kind of touch he was free with. Sex was simple. And being a champion in the world of rodeo meant there was no shortage of buckle bunnies lining up to see if the rumors were true. His bull rides lasted eight seconds, and a ride in his bed lasted the whole night.

He took a lot of pride in the fact that he had staying power. That he gave a damn for the pleasure of the women who passed through his hotel rooms.

But that was as deep as he got.

“Come on in,” Sammy said. “Logan and Rose are already here. Iris and Griffin are on their way.”

It was strange to him that everybody had paired off now. Everybody except for himself, and his brother, Colt, who would rather take a stick between the eyes than settle down.

Jake was confident that would be his brother’s stance.

His brother was still going out hard in the rodeo. As far as Jake knew he wasn’t even interested in coming back to town and settling down the way Jake was, let alone getting married.

He walked into the living room, and noticed all the little changes.

Since Ryder and Sammy had gotten married, the place, which had actually been basically the same in all the years since their parents had died, had gotten a bit of a facelift.

Sammy had added a whole lot of real grown-up touches to it. Pretty things.

It was weird. Weirder that he cared.

Ryder came through from the kitchen and offered a greeting. “Good to see you.”

“You, too. Hey, Sammy,” Jake said. “Would it be all right if my buddy Cal came for Thanksgiving?”

“Sure,” Sammy said. “The more, the merrier.”

He was glad Sammy was thrilled. He was less thrilled. But there were a spare few things on God’s earth he saw as sacred. His friendship with Cal was one of them.

The accident might have been a catalyst for Jake deciding to leave the rodeo, but it was just damned cowardly to then deny his friend’s request to come visit. Why? Because he felt guilty about the fall?

Hell, yeah, he did.

But that didn’t mean he had to be happy about the visit. Though even just being away and out of the game, knowing he was just out of it now for good... There were things he missed. He was looking forward to having a few beers and talking about old times.

“Good,” Jake said.

Eventually, Iris and her new husband arrived, followed by Pansy and her husband, West, and West’s teenage brother, Emmett. West and Pansy had taken over the raising of the kid, since West’s mother wasn’t hugely into the maternal thing. Putting it mildly.

And while everything with his family was good—it always was—there was an indefinable feeling of...change.

Right. Well, you haven’t been here very much, so you don’t have the right to have an opinion about how things have changed.

That thought galled him a little bit.

And it was true enough. He’d been gone, seen to his own affairs all this time, and something that had given him a small measure of comfort was the fact that he could come home at any time and things would be roughly the way that he left them. But not so much anymore.

There were new people. New plates. The house was fuller than it had ever been, but that made it a little bit unrecognizable, too.

It was a whole damn thing.

He finished eating, and hung out for a while.

Then he bid everybody farewell, got in his truck and started on the road back to his ranch.

Settling in Gold Valley.

There was a time when he’d been sure he’d never do that. And as he drove down the familiar highway he had a strange sense of...dread.

He hated that.

He chased dread. The kind of fear that held other people down, he pursued it. He’d spent years riding bulls because he’d figured why not give fate the biggest middle finger of all.

It was the quiet moments that seemed to bring the fear. The still moments. The golden hour, when the sun lit up the world around him and everything looked new. And there would be a moment. A breath. Where peace rested in his soul.

And right on its heels came the hounds of hell.

The arena had stopped it. The pounding of hooves, the danger.

It was just that it had followed him to the arena now so he’d figured he’d take his chances here.

Maybe that had been a mistake.

Too late now.

He drove through town, trying to get a look at how it might seem if he were an outsider. If he was someone who hadn’t grown up here. The brick facades were the kind of thing tourists lost their shit over. But he lost the ability to see them a long time ago.

For him... For him, Gold Valley had just represented everything he lost.

He’d been running when he’d left.

He’d run for a long time. And he’d achieved a hell of a lot.

But whatever he thought he’d feel when he got here... He didn’t.

And so he was trying to see everything with new eyes, like he was a new man, because he felt just so damned much like the old one. And he wasn’t the biggest fan.

Hope Springs always put him in this kind of mood.

So he shrugged it off and started mentally going over the timeline that he had in place for getting his ranch going. His first five horses were coming at the new year.

It was a new challenge. And it reinvigorated him. That was the problem. The rodeo had gotten stale. He’d won everything twice. You didn’t get better than that. He’d done it twice in a row, and he didn’t want to get to the point where he wasn’t winning anymore.

He’d peaked. Basically.

So now he had to go find somewhere else to do that.

That was something, anyway.

It was one reason he’d backed his cousin Iris when she had decided to open her bakery.

He knew all about needing a change.

Maybe that meant he actually was still running.

None of it mattered now, though.

He hadn’t had enough to drink tonight because he’d needed to get his ass home, but he was going to open some whiskey the minute he got in the door.

The place was out about ten miles from town, a nice flat parcel of property with the mountains behind it. The house itself was a big, white farmhouse with a green metal roof. Different to the rustic place at Hope Springs, but he liked it. The driveway was gravel, long and winding, with tall, dense trees on either side of the road.

But when he came through the trees into the clearing where the house was, there was a surprise waiting for him in front of the house.

An old, beat-up pickup was parked there, and he could see a lone figure leaning up against the hood. He parked the truck and got out, making his way over to the figure.

In the darkness, he couldn’t quite make it out, but he had a feeling he knew who it was. Early and unannounced.

Entirely in keeping with what he knew of his friend.


And two wide, brown eyes looked up at him from beneath the brim of a white cowboy hat, long, glossy brown hair shifting with the motion. “Jake. I’m really glad to see you. Because... I don’t just need a job. I need a husband.”

Excerpted from Rodeo Christmas at Evergreen Ranch by Maisey Yates, Copyright © 2021 by Maisey Yates. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Author Bio: 
Maisey Yates is a New York Times bestselling author of over one hundred romance novels. Whether she's writing strong, hard working cowboys, dissolute princes or multigenerational family stories, she loves getting lost in fictional worlds. An avid knitter with a dangerous yarn addiction and an aversion to housework, Maisey lives with her husband and three kids in rural Oregon.
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