Sunday, February 28, 2021

February Mini Musings

The Tenant:
  I thought this was a fairly solid mystery.  There were a few twists that made it more interesting. The pacing was a bit slow. I also didn't love the detectives.  I'm not a fan of the "poor soul tortured" detective.  It was very much a clichĂ© and didn't add much to the character.   Not sure if I'll read the next one.

Hidden:  While I did enjoy this one, it was still a pretty typical romantic suspense.  The characters weren't exactly memorable. The mystery was fairly solid.  I don't have a ton to say about it.  I'll probably read the second one.

Every Waking Hour
:  I'll be honest, This one was not my favorite of the series.  I felt like the pacing was kind of slow.  I also wasn't a fan of the continued angst between Ellery and Reed.  I mean I bought into them getting together in the last book. So, now I have to read more angst?  Don't get me started on how awful Reed's ex-wife was. The ending did end on a cliffhanger.  I'm just hoping in the next book Ellery finds some peace and happiness. 

State Secrets: This one is one of this author's early works.  I listened to the "updated" version of the book.  I don't think it needed to be updated.  Throwing in recent pop culture references did little to update it.  The story still read like an early 80's romance.  It was cheesy and a bit over the top.  I still enjoyed it.

Hard Crush:
I thought this was a cute second chance romance.  I loved Hank  and all of the things he did to win Abby back.  This was a nice slow burn and I was rooting for them. Abby did get a bit frustrating at times though. I definitely want to read the next 2 books in the series. 

The Patient:  This as a quick horror novella. I didn't think it was a scary as I had heard it was.  But it was definitely creepy.  The ending makes you wonder and leaves you with an eerily feeling.  I do recommend giving it a try.

Night of the Mannequins:
  This is short story that I didn't really enjoy.  The reveal of what was going on was given away too early.  We stay in the narrators head the entire time and I just didn't work for me.  There is a little twist in the end that came out of nowhere and isn't fully explored.  I didn't recommend this one.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Spotlight: Excerpt & Giveaway of A Wolf After My Own Heart by MaryJanice Davidson

by MaryJanice Davidson
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: 2/23/2021
Things are hot and getting hotter… Escape into this delicious shifter romance from bestselling author MaryJanice Davidson.
Oz Adway is a rare breed: an accountant who wants to get dirty. He’s a wolf shifter working for the Interspecies Placement Agency so it’s not long before he gets the opportunity to break out of his boring, safe office job. He volunteers to find runaway bear cub Sally Smalls, recently orphaned by a plane crash. Piece of cake, right? Unfortunately, Sally’s taken refuge with “ordinary” human Lila Kai. Lila has no idea what’s going on, but she’ll destroy anyone who tries to take the cub. Oz is not about to let a human jeopardize his daring career move, no matter how attractive he finds her.
Lila knows something’s different about the sexy weirdo who keeps popping up in the wrong place at the right time. She’s determined to figure out what, regardless of the escalating threats to her safety and Oz’s distracting hotness. She didn’t move into a cursed house and take in a werebear just to run when things get complicated. Together, Oz and Lila will prevail! But only if they can keep their hands off each other... 

Purchase Links:

She was just getting the hang of the ambulance when she hit the wolf. 
The thing was bulky and difficult to control (the ambulance, not the wolf), and whenever she got it back from its semiannual mechanically induced coma, it took her a few minutes to get the hang of driving it again. 
She stood on the brakes 
(oh shit oh shit oh shit) 
and braced for the double-thump of the tires running over the animal, which didn’t come. 
Lila Kai collapsed back into her seat, her heart pounding so hard she could taste metal. She pulled over to the side of the street. A street, not a country road on the way from nowhere to somewhere. This was Lilydale, not Hastings. And even Hastings didn’t have wolves in their streets. Just deer. So what the hell? 
She put the ambulance in Park, kept the engine running, and hopped down. She checked the headlights—nothing. The side of the road—nothing. She even took a tentative couple of steps into the brown brush lining the ditch 
(don’t think about the zillions of horror movies that start like this) 
—nothing. No wolf, limping or otherwise. Or…coyote, maybe? 
Which made sense, now that she thought about it. Because whatever it was, it hadn’t been just huge, it had been fast, too. It had come out of nowhere and to nowhere it returned, all in the space of half a second. Maybe she just clipped it. 
Is that a metaphor for something? Life? Death? Taxes? Transitions? Romance? 
Mmmm…probably not the latter. There was just no way to twist clipping a random wolf into an allegory about her nonexistent dating life. The fact that she’d given even half a second of thought to that was proof that she needed to lay off the Cosmos (the drink and the magazine). 
She went back to her decommissioned ambulance, rebuckled her seat belt, put it in Drive, checked her rearview, ignored the urge to ponder more metaphors-that-weren’t, then pulled out, and headed back toward her rental house. The adrenaline rush had been unwelcome as always, but— 
“God damn it!” 
Two kids had darted out from nowhere 
(what the hell is up with this street?) 
and were flagging her down, waving their little arms around so fast they looked like little bony windmills in a gale. 
This time, at least, she didn’t have to stand on the brakes, and once she had stopped, she rolled down her window. “What’s going on, li’l weirdos?” 
Both children were gesturing frantically. “C’mere, you have to help, she’s hurt!” 
And more than a few horror movies start like this, too. 
Again with park, unbuckling, opening door, climbing out. The boy and girl who had jumped in front of her looked like they were about eight, dressed in the de rigeur kid gear of jeans and sweatshirts and battered sneakers. They had the corn-fed reddish-blond looks of many Minnesotans. “Who’s hurt?” 
“I dunno, she just is, we found her, come on. Bring your ambulance gear!” 
“It’s not an ambulance.” 
“’Course it’s an ambulance!” 
“No, I mean it’s decommissioned, so it’s not really an amb—” 
Tiring of her explanation, the girl seized Lila’s hand and started hauling her up the street. Lila looked behind her, half expecting to see the wolf creeping up on them and felt a little let down to see the way was clear. Which was insane. Strange enough to see such a creature under any circumstances, never mind smack in the middle of town. But she wanted to see it again; how was that for nuts? 
I probably need a nap. 
The girl hauled on her hand again and hooked left 
“Jeez, kid. Do you work out?” 
and then led her down a short alley, to where a small huddled form was curled into a blanket. 
“See?” the girl asked, clamping down hard on Lila’s fingers in her excitement. 
“Yeah, see?” the boy, presumably her brother, added. “She’s right there!” 
“Isn’t this a school night?” But she bent over the small figure, blinked as her brain tried to process the image, gently touched it on the shoulder, then pinched her own leg 
(Nope. Not dreaming.) 
and looked up at the kids. “All right, first, that’s not a kid, it’s a bear cub for some reason. Second, I’m not a vet. Most important, I’m not an EMT, either.” 
Instead of answering, the girl whacked the boy on the arm and hissed something that sounded like, “Unstable!” 
“My high school guidance counselor would agree.” Lila bent back over the curled up mass of black, fluffy, whimpering fur that cowered away from her and glared with dark eyes. “I’m not sure what it is you think I can do.” She looked back up only to see the children’s expressions had transformed; they were actually edging away from her. “Why are you doing that? You guys lured me here. If anyone should be uneasy, it’s me. Shouldn’t you have picked my pocket by now?” She looked around the utterly deserted alley. For the first time, she realized she couldn’t hear anything: no bugs, no birds, nothing. And not much light from the lone streetlight. Downright creepy. 
She checked the mouth of the alley for the wolf and was again disappointed to see nothing. 
“You’re right, sorry,” the boy said. 
“Yeah, sorrywebotheredyougoodbyenow.” 
Lila sighed. She was in it the minute she’d stepped down from the vehicle that wasn’t an ambulance. “God damn it. Okay, so, just because I can’t help doesn’t mean someone else can’t.” She stood, only to see the children take several steps back. “Maybe call animal control?” She had to, she realized. You couldn’t just leave a random bear cub in a random alley after random kids flagged down a random adult. 
But in the time it took her to fish out her phone and begin looking up Lilydale Animal Control—or would that be Saint Paul?—the children had (cue the dramatic music) vanished. Like the wolf, her patience, and her faith in the good people at Apartment Guide. 
“Nice quiet neighborhood,” she muttered to the Realtor who wasn’t there. “Lots of families. It’s in the middle of a national park. Bargain.” 
She’d been a Lilydale resident for fewer than eighteen hours and had no idea who to call. And after a day of unpacking, she was standing in an alley at 8:00 p.m. After hitting a wolf. The one thing she did know: she—they—couldn’t stay there indefinitely. 
“You’d tell me if you were a metaphor, right, teeny tiny bear cub?” 
She scooped it up, surprised by how light it was, given that it was the size of a small golden retriever 
(it must be mostly fur, the way birds are mostly feathers) 
then checked for the wolf one more time, and headed back to her nonbulance.
Excerpted from Wolf After My Own Heart by MaryJanice Davidson. © 2021 by MaryJanice Davidson. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.
About the author:

MaryJanice Davidson is the NYT and USA Today best-selling author of the UNDEAD and UNWED paranormal romcom series. Her books have been published in over a dozen languages and have been bestsellers worldwide. A former model and medical test subject (two jobs that are close than you’d think), she lives with her family in St. Paul, MN. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Books I DNF'd in February

The Project:  I was really looking forward to this one.  I enjoyed Sadie.  Unfortunately, I found this one really boring. I stopped at about 50%.  The present and past perspectives did nothing to hold my intertest. There was no suspense or anything thrilling.  This one was a pass for me. I'd rather watch a show or read a book about an actual cult instead.

Before the Ruins:  I got about 30% into the audiobook and realized I had no idea what was going on.  I had zoned out.  So I started it over again.  It wasn't any better.  I was bored and didn't care about any of the characters. Another pass for me.

The Initial Insult:  This isn't what I thought it was going to be.  I didn't like any of the characters. Neither of the main female characters were likable.  In fact I kind of hated them.  I didn't care to see how it ended.

And Now She's Gone
:  Given that I really hated the only other book that I have read by this author. I shouldn't have been surprised that I ended up DNF'ing this book.  I didn't like the perspective shifts in the book.  There was no smooth transition between them and kept getting confused.  I didn't care for the narrator of the audiobook.  I think this author just isn't for me.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Review: Dr. Mitchell by Raylin Marks

Author: Raylin Marks
Publisher: Amazon Digital Publishing
Publication Date: July 2020

Billionaires like him have a type. And it’s not me…
I’m not the kind of girl who has one-night stands.
Except…I did.
What can I say? After a few drinks with a gorgeous man who made me feel alive for the first time since losing my mom, I was powerless to say no.
And I didn’t regret it. Not one minute of our hot, mind-melting night together.
But he wasn’t a forever kind of guy. So I walked away. I wasn’t supposed to ever see him again.
Then I did.
Turns out my sexy one-night stand is Dr. Jacob Mitchell—and he’s the cardiothoracic surgeon who just saved my dad’s life.
The shocking part?
He never forgot about me or a single minute of our night together.
And he wants more.
Actually, he wants it all.
But I’m no fool. And just because he handles hearts every day doesn’t mean I’m going to give him mine.
Not without a fight, anyway …
Dr. Mitchell is a spicy contemporary romance featuring an alpha billionaire/reformed player, and the feisty free spirit who steals his heart. Sexy times are definitely included, and a happily ever after is guaranteed.

Dr. Mitchell is another recent random audio pick from my library.  The story involves Ashley and Jacob who keep running into each other. Thinking it's fate, they give into their strong attraction.  After a one night stand, Jacob turns out to be the wealthy doctor who saves Ashley's father's life.  For the most part, I enjoyed my time listening to the book.  I liked the dual narrators and thought they did a good job with the characters. They kept me wanting to keep listening.

While I enjoyed listening, I didn't love the story.  I liked the chemistry between Ashley and Jake.  It was really intense.  I liked their banter.   Jake was my favorite.  I liked that he had some depth and actually struggled with trying to work through his feelings when he lost a patient.  Ashley kind of annoyed me at times.  I thought she was a bit harsh on Jake toward the end. They did have fairly good communication, but I was disappointed that she didn't give him the benefit of the doubt.    Which brings me to the parts I didn't enjoy.  The "big conflict" was not original and the reveal was predictable.  It really just dragged the story out much longer than it needed to be.  

I will continue with the series.  I want to read about the other men in the "Billionaires Club".

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Teaser Reveal: Used by Kate Dunbar


This is all of me. The good, the bad, the used, and the broken…

Heartbreakingly beautiful and completely engrossing, A young woman's life takes a disturbing and utterly fascinating turn as the past she's put behind comes back to haunt her.  USED is packed full of twists, turns, and a gripping romance sure to leave readers emotionally spent and asking for more.

USED, a brand new standalone romantic suspense from debut author Kate Dunbar, will be releasing on March 8, 2021 on all retailers! Don’t miss the fantastic teaser below, and pre-order your copy today!

Amazon US
Amazon Intl

About Kate Dunbar:
Kate Dunbar is a wife, mom of three, and obsessive tea drinker who loves a great story. She’s passionate about people and learning what makes them tick. You can find her eavesdropping, people watching, and living her best life wherever the winds take her.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Spotlight: Excerpt of His Secret Starlight Baby by Michelle Major

by Michelle Major
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
Price: $5.99
ISBN: 9781335232700
Becoming a father wasn’t part of his game plan in USA TODAY bestselling author Michelle Major’s latest book in her Welcome to Starlight miniseries!
Coparenting this baby is going to take teamwork
Former professional football player Jordan Schaeffer’s game plan was simple: retire from football and set up a quiet life in Starlight. But when Cory Hall arrives with their infant son, Jordan not only gets a surprise but has to devise a new life strategy. And Cory finds herself agreeing to be his fake fiancĂ©e until they work out a coparenting plan. Jordan may have rewritten the dating playbook…but will it be enough to bring this team together?

From Harlequin Special Edition: Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.
Welcome to Starlight
Book 1: The Best Intentions
Book 2: The Last Man She Expected
Book 3: His Last-Chance Christmas Family
Book 4: His Secret Starlight Baby
Get cozy this winter with romances to move you. That Harlequin Feeling.
Buy Links:
Enjoy this excerpt:

Cory needed a fresh start like she needed her next breath.
Jordan went back to locking the door, and if it weren’t for that initial rigidity and the tension currently radiating from him, Cory might have thought he hadn’t heard her greeting.
When he turned, she realized what a fool she’d been—nothing new there. Jordan’s pale green eyes blazed with an emotion she couldn’t name, although it definitely wasn’t friendly. Not that she expected a warm welcome back into his life, although she had to admit, in the two and a half days it had taken to drive halfway across the country, her mind had wandered down the path of silly fantasy more than once.
She fisted her hands, the sharp pain of nails stabbing into the flesh of her palm a much-needed reminder to stay grounded in reality. Cory was in Starlight to take care of business, not to indulge in ridiculous daydreams. Single moms didn’t have time for that sort of nonsense.
“How are you?” she asked, clearing her throat when the words came out on a croak. She tried for a smile. “It’s been a minute.”
“What are you doing here?” He pocketed the set of keys and rocked back on his heels. His eyes raked over her in a way that left her wishing she hadn’t forgotten her flat iron back in Michigan. Or had she deserted that particular styling tool when she’d taken off from Atlanta? She hadn’t given much thought to making herself look pretty in what felt like ages.
“I was…um…in the area, and I thought I’d stop in and say hi.” She gave a limp wave. “Hi.”
Jordan stared at her like she’d lost her mind.
“I didn’t know if you’d remember me.” She pushed away a stray lock of hair that blew into her face. “I’m sure you want to—”
“I remember, Cory.” His voice was a deep, angry rumble. “I remember everything.”
She swallowed. “Oh. Okay, well, that’s good. I think.” She gestured to the bar he’d exited minutes earlier. “You own this place, right? It looks nice.” She inwardly cringed at her inability to stem the tide of inane babble pouring from her mouth. She wasn’t here for pleasantries but couldn’t quite bring herself to get to the point.
“It’s after midnight.” He ran a hand through his thick hair. She still couldn’t see its true color, but it was longer than he’d worn it when he’d played football in Georgia. Untamed and a bit wild, much like the man himself.
“Right.” She took a slow, steadying breath. “I need to talk to you, Jordan.”
“I got that.”
“It’s about what happened when you left.”
“From what I saw on ESPN, Kade got one hell of a contract offer. Forty million for four years. He got it all. You both got exactly what you wanted.”
She winced at the accusation in his voice, even though she deserved every bit of judgment and condemnation Jordan Schaeffer could dish out. “Kade and I aren’t together,” she said, as if that explained everything when it was only the tip of the iceberg.
“Not my concern, Cory. In fact, right now my only concern is getting home and into bed for a decent night’s sleep. I wish you well in whatever you choose for life after Kade Barrington, if you’re telling the truth about that.”
“I never lied,” she said, trying and mostly failing to keep the pain out of her voice. Trying and completely failing to stop an image of Jordan asleep in bed from filling her mind.
“You went back to him.”
Cory sucked in a shaky gulp of air, because she could have sworn she heard an answering pain in Jordan’s tone. That couldn’t be possible, because…
“After you took off.” She bit down on the inside of her cheek until she tasted blood. “You left without even saying goodbye.”
He laughed, a harsh scrape across her fraught nerves. “Sweetheart, we barely said hello.”
Oh no. He wasn’t going to do that. Not now. Not after everything Cory had dealt with in the past year. She might have had only one night with Jordan, but it had meant…something. To her, it had turned out to mean everything.
Her gaze darted to the gas guzzler her grandmother had given her before she died last month, and Cory was tempted to walk away. She could climb back in the car, spend one night in the local inn where she’d rented a room and be on the highway by first light.
Then she looked at him again, at those unique eyes she saw staring back at her every day, and realized she had to see this through. If not for herself, then for her baby.
“We said plenty,” she told him, straightening her shoulders. “We did plenty. Enough that I have a six-month-old son in that car.” She hitched a finger at the Buick. “You have a son, Jordan.”
 Get cozy this winter with romance to move you. Experience That Harlequin Feeling. Try two FREE ebooks at!

 Author Bio

USA Today bestselling author Michelle Major loves stories of new beginnings, second chances and always a happily ever after. An avid hiker and avoider of housework, she lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains with her husband, two teenagers and a menagerie of spoiled furbabies. Connect with her at
Author Links

Monday, February 22, 2021

Spotlight: Excerpt of An Unexpected Earl by Anna Harrington

by Anna Harrington
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: 2/23/2021

He’s determined to do right by the girl he left behind…
Twelve years ago, former brigadier Brandon Pearce had to give up the girl he loved, Amelia Howard. Now he’s the Earl of Sandhurst, but committed to stopping a criminal group that’s threatening the lives of innocent people. Amelia’s brother is in their clutches, and Pearce has to navigate the slippery slope of being back in Amelia’s life without telling her what he’s really up to.

But he’ll have to deceive her first...

Amelia is now a grown woman with a past she desperately needs to keep hidden in order to save her brother Frederick’s reputation. She’s shocked to discover that Frederick is being blackmailed—and heartbroken that, despite his protestations, Brandon Pearce appears to be on the wrong side of all this.

Pearce is playing a deep game to further his investigation, but he’s willing to do anything for a second chance with Amelia, even when he discovers she has secrets of her own…

Purchase Links:

“You’re soaked through and freezing because of me. I can’t stop you from putting yourself unnecessarily at risk—” When Amelia opened her mouth to protest that, Pearce cut her off. “But I can save you from catching your death of cold.” He put his hands on his hips in a commanding pose that showed him as the no-nonsense brigadier he’d become. “Now, take off that dress.” 
She refused to move and silently returned his stare. To be honest, the thought of taking off her wet clothes and finding something dry to put on tempted her. Greatly. Especially since an icy puddle was spreading around her feet at that very moment. But she’d never give him the pleasure of admitting he was right about— 
A violent shiver shuddered through her so hard that her teeth chattered. 
Pearce leveled an I-told-you-so gaze on her that had surely made his subordinates quake in their boots. 
“Fine.” With no other choice, Amelia grudgingly turned her back to him. “But I have no maid here.” She tried to inject as much irritation into her voice as possible, so he wouldn’t suspect how the thought of undressing in front of him twisted her belly into an aching tangle of desire. “So if you want me out of this dress, then you’re going to have to help me.” 
Her wet hair had tumbled down from the chase, and she lifted it off her back, out of his way, with trembling hands. 
When he reached for the row of tiny buttons on her back, she closed her eyes, willing her breath to remain steady, her pulse calm. One by one, the buttons slipped free, and her bodice loosened. 
“This is necessary,” he explained, misreading her protests. “You’ll never warm up as long as you’re in this wet thing.” 
She bit back a distressed laugh. “And here I thought you were simply attempting to see me naked.” 
She could almost hear the rueful twist of his lips. “I’ve undressed you before, you know.” 
“When I was nine.” A strained quality laced through her suddenly hoarse voice. “We’ve changed since then. If you persist in this folly, then we’ll both find out exactly how much.” 
“It isn’t folly.” He lowered his mouth over her shoulder. “And believe me, Amelia,” he murmured, his breath tickling her ear, “I know exactly how much.” 
Foolish longing ached at the back of her weakening knees. 
“All done.” The last button slipped free, and her bodice drooped low down her front. 
She grabbed at it with both hands to keep it in place as she whirled around to face him. “This isn’t at all prop—” 
Her chastisement died beneath his stare. Instantly, her anger was replaced by something else just as fierce. Something that pulsed achingly and made goose bumps spring up across her wet skin, that longed to have his hands running all over her and hers over him. His skin would be just as wet and cold as hers, she knew, but he would also be warm beneath, with smooth skin over hard muscles. The young lad she’d once loved was still there, ready for her to make love to him— 
She bit her lip to fight back a groan. Damn the man for making her want him! 
“Do you need me?” 
Did she need… Yearning pulsed through her, and she squeaked, “Pardon?” 
“To remove the rest of your clothes.” 
And that sent a wicked spiral of wanton desire shooting right out the top of her head. 
Her hand tightened its hold on her bodice as she somehow remembered to keep breathing. “I–I can manage the rest on my own, thank you.” 
“Including your corset?” His gaze scorched over her, as if he could see right through her dress. 
“Yes,” she breathed out. Her confused brain swirled. Had she just answered his question…or given permission for him to remove even more of her clothing? To do more with her than simply look? 
“All right.” But he didn’t turn his back to give her privacy. The rascal didn’t even look away. His eyes remained on her as she stood there in the firelight, her skirts clinging to her hips and legs. “Are you certain?” 
“No.” She wasn’t certain about anything when it came to this man…except that he made her feel beautiful. Desirable. Alive. 
Was it wrong to let him stir these feelings inside her, to luxuriate in them and the memories of how wonderful their friendship had once been? After all, it was only undressing, and only to keep her from catching cold. A completely practical, not at all sexual reason. As long as nothing intimate happened between them, there was no harm in removing her dress to warm herself, no harm in letting those feelings wash over her. 
Apparently, she was now lying to herself. 
Yet Pearce kept his distance, and she kept her gaze locked with his as her trembling fingers pulled at the cap sleeves of her dress and tugged them down her arms. The bodice came next, peeling down to her waist and then over her hips and thighs. She pushed the wet material to the floor, then stepped out of both it and her shoes. His eyes never left hers, even as she reached behind her back for her corset and tangled her shaking fingers in the lace. A tug untied the bow. She removed the corset and let it fall to the floor, leaving her in nothing but her stockings and wet shift. 
From several feet away, she saw the undulation of his throat as he swallowed. Hard. But his eyes stayed fixed on hers. 
“I think you have to agree,” she half whispered, her voice a hoarse whisper, “that a lot’s changed since I was nine.” 
A moment’s hesitation…then temptation won, and he dragged a deliberate gaze over her. The wet shift clung to her body, the material surely translucent in the firelight and revealing everything underneath. This time when she shivered, it wasn’t because she was cold. 
Excerpted from An Unexpected Earl by Anna Harrington. © 2021 by Anna Harrington. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

About the author:

Anna Harrington is an award-winning author of Regency romance. Anna was nominated for a RITA in 2017 and won the 2016 Maggie Award for Best Historical Romance. The Secret Life of Scoundrels. A lover of all things chocolate and coffee, when she’s not hard at work writing her next book or planning her next series, Anna loves to fly airplanes, go ballroom dancing, or tend her roses. She is an English professor in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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Sunday, February 21, 2021

Review: Shiver by Allie Reynolds

Author: Allie Reynolds
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date January 2021

When Milla accepts an off-season invitation to Le Rocher, a cozy ski resort in the French Alps, she’s expecting an intimate weekend of catching up with four old friends. It might have been a decade since she saw them last, but she’s never forgotten the bond they forged on this very mountain during a winter spent fiercely training for an elite snowboarding competition.

Yet no sooner do Milla and the others arrive for the reunion than they realize something is horribly wrong. The resort is deserted. The cable cars that delivered them to the mountaintop have stopped working. Their cell phones—missing. And inside the hotel, detailed instructions await them: an icebreaker game, designed to draw out their secrets. A game meant to remind them of Saskia, the enigmatic sixth member of their group, who vanished the morning of the competition years before and has long been presumed dead.

Stranded in the resort, Milla’s not sure what’s worse: the increasingly sinister things happening around her or the looming snowstorm that’s making escape even more impossible. All she knows is that there’s no one on the mountain she can trust. Because someone has gathered them there to find out the truth about Saskia…someone who will stop at nothing to get answers. And if Milla’s not careful, she could be the next to disappear…

 This was a random pick from my library.  I listened to the audiobook.  I am a fan of "closed room, isolation" thrillers. This one was right up my alley.  Thankfully, the book didn't disappoint.  The story involves Milla who attends a reunion weekend at a ski resort with friends from the past.  When she gets to the resort, she quickly realizes that things are not exactly right. Someone wants revenge, but who?

I really enjoyed this book.  The story is through Milla's point of view.  We get flashbacks to the winter when Saskia, a mutual friend and competitor, disappeared.  The flashbacks pertain to what is happening to Milla and her friends in the present.  I enjoyed the twists in the story.  I didn't call the most of them. Especially the ending. I thought the author did a great job of building the creepy and spooky atmosphere of the resort.  It is definitely best going into this book not knowing much, so I'll leave it there.  I highly recommend this one if you are looking for a good creepy thriller.

Spotlight: Excerpt of Jackson by LaQuette

by LaQuette
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: 2/23/2021

Restoration Ranch may have been the first step on her road to redemption…but Jackson Dean will be the last mile.

Aja Everett longs to turn her old family ranch into a place where anyone can find rest and healing. But her big heart’s bound to get her in trouble if she’s not careful—someone wants her gone, and they’ll do whatever it takes to drive her away from the land that’s her lifeblood. Whether she’s willing to admit it or not, she needs help.

She needs a man like Ranger Jackson Dean.

Jackson doesn’t trust love. He once made the mistake of following his heart and all he’d gotten was pain in return. But when city-slicking do-gooder Aja Everett asks for his help, he can’t stay away…and as attraction sizzles and protective instincts flare, she may be the only woman able to restore the heart of this Texas Ranger.

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Jackson Dean made his way inside the Texas Rangers’ Headquarters and headed straight for his office.  It was early in the morning and he wanted nothing more than to still be in his bed.  Unfortunately, a call from his boss, Major Hargrove, put the kibosh on that plan. 
He twisted the knob and switched on the light, waiting a moment for his eyes to adjust to the brightness flooding the room.  He remembered how happy he was to get an office of his own.  The room was nothing much to speak of.  A typical windowless space in a government building made of white concrete walls and filled with metal furniture. But no matter how bland it was, he was still proud to have his name etched on the door because it came with his promotion to team leader eight years ago. 
Today, it looked almost exactly the same as it had when he’d first been given the keys.  But at the moment, when sleep hadn’t yet completely let loose its grip on him, boundless pride wasn’t the emotion he was experiencing.  No, it was more like annoyance and frustration grating on his nerves at having to come in early after working in the field late last night. 
He dropped his bag on a nearby chair and headed straight for the coffeemaker on top of a metal filing cabinet.  Fresh, frequent, and plentiful caffeine would be the only thing to keep him from getting an insubordination write-up in his personnel file, so he opened a couple of bottled waters and poured them into the machine 
A tap on his door grabbed his attention.  He glanced up from it and rested his eyes on the yet-to-start dripping coffee machine and groaned. 
“Someone must want me to get a write up.” 
Another tap and he pushed away from the filing cabinet and opened the door. 
“Morning Jackson,” Major Hargrove didn’t wait to be invited in.  He just assumed the open door was all the invitation he needed.  “Thanks for coming so quickly.” 
“I’m still half sleep,” Jackson groaned as he stepped away from the door and made it back to his coffee pot.   
“At least you had the chance to go to sleep, I’ve been up for about twenty-four hours since I got this call just before I was about to head home yesterday.” 
Jackson stared through narrowed slits.  Hargrove didn’t play with his time.  He stayed when necessary, but he was obsessed with him and his rangers having a clear work-life balance.  Nothing kept him from punching out at six in the evening unless there was a real emergency.  “You made it sound like it was life or death that I came in at,” He raised his left wrist pretending to read the wide-faced watch there. “ass O’ clock in the morning.  What’s going on Major?” 
His boss slid a file on Jackson’s desk and took the seat in front of it waiting patiently for Jackson to fill the mug he’d grabbed the second the alarm on the machine told him his brew was ready. 
“You’re not gonna put any milk or sugar in the rotgut?” 
“No sir,” he replied, sitting down and taking a long slow sip.  “I like it the way it is: strong and black, just like me.” 
He took another sip before opening the file.  The first thing that caught his attention was the picture of a woman in a fitted designer dress.  Not that he knew fashion from foam rubber, but the way the black material hugged her full curves, he was certain it had been made or at least tailored, just for her. 
“I’m not gonna be ready to read this without at least another cup.  Just give me the highlights.  Who is she?” 
His boss crossed an ankle over his knee and tilted his head.  “She’s the niece of a friend.  A judge in Hill Country.  Her property has been vandalized and the judge needs someone to look into it.” 
Jackson felt his brow inching higher into his hairline.  Something about the way Major Hargrove said “someone” scratched at his bullshit meter. 
“What do the locals have to say about it?” 
Hargrove lifted an open palm before letting it fall back to his knee.  “Not a thing.  There’s some bad blood between the local sheriff’s department and Ms. Everett.” 
Jackson shifted in his seat, the coffee plus his boss’ preliminary recount was starting to sketch an outline to this tale of a spoiled judge’s niece using her uncle’s connections to get what she wanted.     
“Anyway, the judge wants to make sure this is taken seriously.  Especially since the vandalism has escalated from fence posts and a scaffold being knocked down to her barn being burned to the ground yesterday.”  
Jackson sat up straighter. “Anyone hurt?” 
“Minor cuts and bruises on Ms. Everett.  Her uncle called me while she was being seen at the hospital.  Asked me to get her a protective detail and send a team out to investigate.” 
“She pointing fingers at anyone?” 
Hargrove stood up and tapped on top of the beautiful woman’s picture.  “Don’t know.  But you can ask when she gets here.  I assigned Jennings and Gleason to her protective detail overnight.  They’re bringing her in first thing this morning so she can swear out a statement.  Get your team together and figure this thing out.”  He walked toward the door confident his orders would be followed.  And they would be.  Jackson might give his boss shit, but he always got the job done. 
He looked at the picture of one Ms. Aja Everett again.  He ran his finger slowly over the high cheekbones that turned her eyes into barely-opened slits as her wide grin smiled back at him.  “Why would anyone want to harm you?” 
Excerpted from Jackson by LaQuette. © 2021 by LaQuette. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

About the author:

LAQUETTE writes savvy, sexy contemporary romance. She is the 2016 Author of the Year Golden Apple Award Winner, 2016 Write Touch Reader’s Choice Winner, and a 2018 Passionate Plume Finalist. She is an advocate for the #WeNeedDiverseRomance campaign. LaQuette, a native of Brooklyn, lives in Pennsylvania with her family. Learn more about her at

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