The Week Ahead May 1-6

Here’s a look at what’s happening this week at Book Reviews & More by Kathy:

This week’s book reviews:

May 1: Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman (New Release)
May 1: Murder Between the Lines by Radha Vatsal (New Release)
May 1: A Piece of My Heart by Sharon Sala (New Release)
May 2: Stars Over Clear Lake by Loretta Ellsworth (New Release)
May 2: After the Fall by Julie Cohen (New Release)
May 4: All the Best People by Sonja Yoerg (New Release)
May 4: The Cowboy’s Accidental Baby by Marin Thomas (New Release)

Blog Tours:

May 1: Julia Kent
May 1: Monthly Reading Challenge
May 2: Jo Watson
May 3: Santino Hassell
May 4: LA Witt and Cari Z.

Winning Wednesday (May 3) eBooks up for grabs:

Sweet Southern Trouble by Michele Summers
Live Out Loud by Marie Meyer
The Perils of Intimacy by Rick R. Reed

Click here for more info on entering the eBook contests.

This week’s Friday Feature: Anne Stone.

This week’s Saturday Series Spotlight is Layla Reynes’ Agents Irish and Whiskey and contest for one of the books in the series (winner’s choice).

Have a great week!!

***All the eBooks in this week’s Winning Wednesday & Saturday Series Spotlight giveaways have been purchased by Book Reviews & More by Kathy.***

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Goodreads Reading Challenge & Favorite Reads January-April 2017

How is everyone 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge going so far? So far, I am on track to complete my goal of 300 books:

2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge
Kathy has
read 120 books toward
her goal of
300 books.
hide

(Please feel free to friend me).

Hopefully everyone else who is participating is also finding the time to read!

Here is are my favorite reads so far this year:

Literary Fiction

Title: The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Contemporary, Literary Fiction
Length: 384 pages

Summary:

She was the first person to see me as I had always wanted to be seen. It was enough to indebt me to her forever.

In the male-dominated field of animation, Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses are a dynamic duo, the friction of their differences driving them: Sharon, quietly ambitious but self-doubting; Mel, brash and unapologetic, always the life of the party. Best friends and artistic partners since the first week of college, where they bonded over their working-class roots and obvious talent, they spent their twenties ensconced in a gritty Brooklyn studio. Working, drinking, laughing. Drawing: Mel, to understand her tumultuous past, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether.

Now, after a decade of striving, the two are finally celebrating the release of their first full-length feature, which transforms Mel’s difficult childhood into a provocative and visually daring work of art. The toast of the indie film scene, they stand at the cusp of making it big. But with their success come doubt and destruction, cracks in their relationship threatening the delicate balance of their partnership. Sharon begins to feel expendable, suspecting that the ever-more raucous Mel is the real artist. During a trip to Sharon’s home state of Kentucky, the only other partner she has ever truly known—her troubled, charismatic childhood best friend, Teddy—reenters her life, and long-buried resentments rise to the surface, hastening a reckoning no one sees coming.

A funny, heartbreaking novel of friendship, art, and trauma, The Animators is about the secrets we keep and the burdens we shed on the road to adulthood.

Read my review HERE.


Women’s Fiction

Title: The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 384 pages

Summary:

All their lives, Alice Stanhope and her daughter Zoe have been a family of two, living quietly in northern California. Zoe has always struggled with crippling social anxiety and her mother has been her constant and fierce protector. With no family to speak of, and the identity of Zoe’s father shrouded in mystery, their team of two works—until it doesn’t. Until Alice gets sick and needs to fight for her life.

Desperate to find stability for Zoe, Alice reaches out to two women who are practically strangers, but who are her only hope: Kate, a nurse, and Sonja, a social worker. As the four of them come together, a chain of events is set into motion and all four of them must confront their sharpest fears and secrets—secrets about abandonment, abuse, estrangement, and the deepest longing for family. Imbued with heart and humor in even the darkest moments, The Mother’s Promise is an unforgettable novel about the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters, and the new ways in which families are forged.

Read my review HERE.

Title: On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 448 pages

Summary:

Following in the footsteps of her critically acclaimed novel If You Only Knew, multi-bestselling author Kristan Higgins returns with a pitch-perfect look at the affection—and the acrimony—that binds sisters together

Ainsley O’Leary is so ready to get married—she’s even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn’t anticipate is for Eric to blindside her with a tactless breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her half sister, Kate, who’s already struggling after the sudden loss of her new husband.

Kate has always been so poised, so self-assured, but Nathan’s death shatters everything she thought she knew—including her husband—and she learns that sometimes the people who step up aren’t the ones you expect. With seven years and a murky blended-family dynamic between them, Ainsley and Kate have never been overly close, but their shared sorrow dovetails their faltering worlds into one.

Despite the lifetime of history between them, the sisters must learn to put their differences aside and open their hearts to the inevitable imperfection of family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.

Read my review HERE.

Title: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Women’s Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: A+ & A Recommended Read

Summary:

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge–until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents–but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals–in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country–Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

Read my review HERE.


Contemporary Romance

Title: Tangled in Texas by Kari Lynn Dell
Texas Rodeo Series Book Two
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 416 pages

Summary:

It took 32 seconds to end his career.
But it only took 1 to change his life.

Thirty-two seconds. That’s how long it took for Delon Sanchez’s life to end. One minute he was the best bronc rider in the Panhandle and the next he was nothing. Knee shattered, future in question, all he can do is pull together the pieces…and wonder what cruel trick of fate has thrown him into the path of his ex, the oh-so-perfect Tori Patterson.

Tori’s come home after her husband’s death, intent on escaping the public eye. It’s just her luck that Delon limps into her physical therapy office, desperate for help. All hard-packed muscle and dark-eyed temptation, he’s never been anything but a bad idea. And yet, seeing him again, Tori can’t remember what made her choose foolish pride over love…or why, with this second, final chance to right old wrongs, the smartest choice would be to run from this gorgeous rodeo boy as fast as her boots can take her.

Read my review HERE.


Gay Romance

Title: Buyout-A Love Story by Dev Bentham
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Erotic, Romance
Length: 69 pages/Word Count: 24,111

Summary:

Everyone deserves a second chance. Or do they? Sean and Martim fell in love at Harvard. Things broke apart when Martim fell into a downward spiral of addiction after his father died. Sean kicked him out but has regretted it ever since. He’s never gotten over losing Martim. But then, not many aspects of his life have lived up to his collegiate dreams.

When he’s sent to evaluate Martim’s family hotel for foreclosure, Sean is once again in the position to put Martim out on the street. In the time since they parted, Martim has pulled himself together, although both health and financial problems linger as a result of his years as an addict. Can the two men bridge the gap of distance and time to rekindle their relationship, or will they fall apart again under the burdens of guilt and disease?

Set in Lisbon, Portugal, this is the story of lovers reunited after more than a decade apart, and their second chance at romance.

Read my review HERE.


Contemporary Mystery

Title: The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Mystery
Length: 418 pages

Summary:

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Tradd Street series comes a stunning new novel about a young single mother who discovers that the nature of friendship is never what it seems….

Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It’s not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren’t helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.

Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee—something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.

Sugar’s stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother’s seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather’s world.

In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee’s house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women….

Read my review HERE.


Historical Mystery

Title: The Ripper’s Shadow by Laura Joh Rowland
Victorian Mystery Book One
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Historical, Mystery
Length: 368 pages

Summary:

The year is 1888 and Jack the Ripper begins his reign of terror.

Miss Sarah Bain, a photographer in Whitechapel, is an independent woman with dark secrets. In the privacy of her studio, she supplements her meager income by taking illicit “boudoir photographs” of the town’s local ladies of the night. But when two of her models are found gruesomely murdered within weeks of one another, Sarah begins to suspect it’s more than mere coincidence.

Teamed with a motley crew of friends–including a street urchin, a gay aristocrat, a Jewish butcher and his wife, and a beautiful young actress–Sarah delves into the crime of the century. But just as she starts unlocking the Ripper’s secrets, she catches the attention of the local police, who believe she knows more than she’s revealing, as well as from the Ripper himself, now bent on silencing her and her friends for good.

Caught in the crosshairs of a ruthless killer, Sarah races through Whitechapel’s darkest alleys to find the truth…until she makes a shocking discovery that challenges everything she thought she knew about the case. Intelligent and utterly engrossing, Laura Joh Rowland’s Victorian mystery The Ripper’s Shadow will keep readers up late into the night.

Read my review HERE.


Historical

Title: Among the Lesser Gods by Margo Catts
Publisher: Arcade Publishing
Genre: Historical (70s), Women’s Fiction
Length: 336 pages

Summary:

For fans of authors like Barbara Kingsolver and Leif Enger, a stunning new voice in contemporary literary fiction.

“Tragedy and blessing. Leave them alone long enough, and it gets real hard to tell them apart.”

Elena Alvarez is living a cursed life. From the deadly fire she accidentally set as a child, to her mother’s abandonment, and now to an unwanted pregnancy, she knows better than most that small actions can have terrible consequences. Driven to the high mountains surrounding Leadville, Colorado by her latest bad decision, she’s intent on putting off the future. Perhaps there she can just hide in her grandmother’s isolated cabin and wait for something—anything—to make her next choice for her.

Instead, she is confronted by reflections of her own troubles wherever she turns—the recent widower and his two children adrift in a changed world, Elena’s own mysterious family history, and the interwoven lives within the town itself. Bit by bit, Elena begins to question her understanding of cause and effect, reexamining the tragedies she’s held on to and the wounds she’s refused to let heal.

But when the children go missing, Elena’s fragile new peace is shattered. It’s only at the prospect of fresh loss and blame that she will discover the truth of the terrible burdens we take upon ourselves, the way tragedy and redemption are inevitably intertwined—and how curses can sometimes lead to blessings, however disguised.

Read my review HERE.


Young Adult

Title: Ultimatum by K.M. Walton
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: 320 pages

Summary:

From the author of Cracked and Empty comes a gripping, emotional story of two brothers who must make the ultimate decision about what’s more important: family or their differences.

It’s not Oscar’s fault he’s misunderstood. Ever since his mother died, he’s been disrespected by his father and bullied by his self-absorbed older brother, so he withdraws from his fractured family, seeking refuge in his art.

Vance wishes his younger brother would just loosen up and be cool. It was hard enough to deal with their mother’s death without Oscar getting all emotional. At least when Vance pushes himself in lacrosse and parties, he feels alive.

But when their father’s alcoholism sends him into liver failure, the two brothers must come face-to-face with their demons–and each other–if they are going to survive a very uncertain future.

Read my review HERE.


Christian

Title: Home by Ginny L. Yttrup
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Women’s Fiction
Length: 320 pages

Summary:

Melanie runs away. From conflict. From pain. From reality. 

When novelist Melanie Vander faces a looming deadline, she decides it’s time for an escape to an inspiring, novel-worthy locale. She’s not running away. Really. She just needs time to focus. But as she disappears into her writing, she encounters a man whose tenderness leaves her reeling. Engaging and wise, psychologist Elliot Hammond tempts Melanie to question everything, including her marriage.

But that’s ridiculous. Dr. Hammond isn’t even…real.

Melanie’s husband, Craig, has his own problems, including a recession that’s threatening his business. Waning finances, a looming home foreclosure, and a wife who’s checked out emotionally, has Craig feeling as though he’s carrying his burdens alone. When his client, the beautiful and single Serena Buchanan, offers him a solution to his financial woes, he’s tempted by more than her offer of a business solution.

At a crossroads, Melanie and Craig seem headed in opposite directions.

As Melanie runs away from her problems by escaping into her own fictional world, Craig dives into his struggles, seeking God for strength and healing for his marriage. Ultimately, Melanie must choose whether she’ll check out completely, or allow her characters to lead her home.

Read my review HERE.


We’ll check in again at the end of August to see how everyone’s progress on this year’s reading challenge is going.

Happy Reading!

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Saturday Series Spotlight & Giveaway: Tessa Bailey’s Romancing the Clarksons

Title: Too Hot to Handle by Tessa Bailey
Romancing the Clarksons Series Book One
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 337 pages

Summary:

When rescue looks like a whole lot of trouble . . .

The road trip was definitely a bad idea. Having already flambéed her culinary career beyond recognition, Rita Clarkson is now stranded in God-Knows-Where, New Mexico, with a busted-ass car and her three temperamental siblings, who she hasn’t seen in years. When rescue shows up—six-feet-plus of hot, charming sex on a motorcycle—Rita’s pretty certain she’s gone from the frying pan right into the fire . . .

Jasper Ellis has a bad boy reputation in this town, and he loathes it. The moment he sees Rita, though, Jasper knows he’s about to be sorely tempted. There’s something real between them. Something raw. And Jasper has only a few days to show Rita that he isn’t just for tonight—he’s forever.


Title: Too Wild to Tame by Tessa Bailey
Romancing the Clarksons Series Book Two
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 336 pages

Summary:

Sometimes you just can’t resist playing with fire . . .

By day, Aaron Clarkson suits up, shakes hands, and acts the perfect gentleman. But at night, behind bedroom doors, the tie comes off and the real Aaron comes out to play. Mixing business with pleasure got him fired, so Aaron knows that if he wants to work for the country’s most powerful senator, he’ll have to keep his eye on the prize. That’s easier said than done when he meets the senator’s daughter, who’s wild, gorgeous, and 100 percent trouble.

Grace Pendleton is the black sheep of her conservative family. Yet while Aaron’s presence reminds her of a past she’d rather forget, something in his eyes keeps drawing her in. Maybe it’s the way his voice turns her molten. Or maybe it’s because deep down inside, the ultra-smooth, polished Aaron Clarkson might be more than even Grace can handle . . .


Title: Too Hard to Forget by Tessa Bailey
Romancing the Clarksons Series Book Three
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 336 pages

Summary:

This time, she’s calling the shots.

Peggy Clarkson is returning to her alma mater with one goal in mind: confront Elliott Brooks, the man who ruined her for all others, and remind him of what he’s been missing. Even after three years, seeing him again is like a punch in the gut, but Peggy’s determined to stick to her plan. Maybe then, once she has the upper hand, she’ll finally be able to move on.

In the years since Peggy left Cincinnati, Elliott has kept his focus on football. No distractions and no complications. But when Peggy walks back onto his practice field and into his life, he knows she could unravel everything in his carefully controlled world. Because the girl who was hard to forget is now a woman impossible to resist.


Giveaway

I am giving away one eBook from the Romancing the Clarksons series-WINNER’S CHOICE. Here’s how to enter the Saturday Series Spotlight contest:

You must Do TWO of the Following:

1. Sign up for e-mail updates (upper left corner). One email daily with the day’s posts.

OR:

2. Be or become a fan of Book Reviews & More by Kathy Facebook page

OR:

3. Follow me on Twitter (@BookReviewsMore)

Make sure you have filled out the contest entry form:

4. To be eligible to enter contests on Book Reviews and More by Kathy you MUST fill out the contest entry form (found HERE). This form only needs to be filled out ONCE. Your privacy is important to me, and I will not share your information.

And don’t forget to:

5. Fill out the form below by 5 PM Mountain Time Monday afternoon.

*I am the only person who will have access to info that is submitted to me UNLESS a publisher or author has donated an eBook for the giveaway. For a prize donated by an author or publisher, I will forward your e-mail and format selection to the person responsible for distributing the eBook. In the event the contest form is not working, please leave your book selection in the comments below.*

It’s that easy! The winner will be selected using random.org. I will e-mail one lucky winner the eBook of their choice in their preferred format. The winner will be posted HERE on Tuesday.

***The eBooks in this giveaway have been purchased by Book Reviews & More by Kathy.***

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Friday Feature & Giveaway: Toughest Cowboy in Texas by Carolyn Brown

Title: Toughest Cowboy in Texas by Carolyn Brown
Happy, Texas Book One
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 352 pages

Summary:

The Spark of an Old Flame

Last time Lila Harris was in Happy, Texas, she was actively earning her reputation as the resident wild child. Now, a little older and wiser, she’s back to run her mother’s café for the summer. Except something about this town has her itching to get a little reckless and rowdy, especially when she sees her old partner-in-crime, Brody Dawson. Their chemistry is just as hot as ever. But he’s still the town’s golden boy-and she’s still the wrong kind of girl.

Brody hasn’t had much time lately for anything other than ranching. Running the biggest spread in the county and taking care of his family more than keeps him busy. All that responsibility has him longing for the carefree days of high school-and Lila. She may have grown up, but he still sees that spark of mischief in her eyes. Now he’s dreaming about late-night skinny dipping and wondering how he can possibly resist the one woman he can never forget…

Add to Goodreads.

Purchase Links: Amazon * B&N * Google Play * iTunes * Kobo * IndieBound * BAM!

THE HAPPY, TEXAS SERIES

TOUGHEST COWBOY IN TEXAS, #1
LONG, TALL COWBOY CHRISTMAS, #2

Series Page on Goodreads


Excerpt

She picked up her pace, but Brody matched his long strides with hers.

“Don’t feel like you have to walk me my vehicle. I’m a big girl and I’ve been takin’ care of myself for years.”

“You’ve always been able to take care of yourself, Lila, but I want to walk with you.” His hand went to her lower back.

The intense heat would probably leave an imprint on her back for days, but she didn’t argue or shrug his hand away.

When they reached her bright pink truck, he gave a low whistle. “Nice.”

She found her keys and touched a button that started the engine. “I left the motorcycle at home.”

“Oh, really?” His expression said that he didn’t believe her.

“Yep, I didn’t want to get to the bar and have helmet head.”

“Are you serious?”

“Why would you be so surprised? I am, after all, the resident wild child of Happy, Texas. I’m surprised there’s not a picture of me beside the city limits sign warning everyone to steer clear of that Lila Harris. If you rub shoulders with her, you get an instant ticket to hell. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars. Just get ready for the ride.”

“Motorcycles are dangerous. You shouldn’t…”

She laid a finger over his lips. “When we were back in high school, I stayed on that bull for eight seconds and climbed to the top of the water tower. You didn’t fuss at me about those things, but wait—you were right there too. Well, darlin’, buy a Harley and we’ll terrorize Happy together.”

Brody stepped closer, penning her against the truck door. She put both hands on his chest with intentions of pushing him away, but she made the mistake of looking up into his eyes. Lashes slowly closed to rest on his cheek bones and she barely had time to moisten her lips before she was swept away by a scorching hot kiss.

She knew she should push him back, but instead her arms went around his neck and she touched his bottom lip with her tongue. He groaned and opened his mouth, deepening the kiss into fiery hot passion. She would have been there until daylight, but he finally stepped back, picked up her hand and kissed her palm twice.

“One kiss for the Lila I remember, and the other for the woman that she’s become. Both are very special.”  Then Brody turned and disappeared into the darkness.


Author Bio

Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author and RITA® Finalist who has sold more than 2.75 million books. She presently writes both women’s fiction and cowboy romance. She has also written historical single title, historical series, contemporary single title, and contemporary series. She lives in southern Oklahoma with her husband, a former English teacher, who is not allowed to read her books until they are published. They have three children and enough grandchildren to keep them young.

Author Links: Website * Facebook * Goodreads


Giveaway

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Tour Stop, Excerpt & Giveaway: By the Hour by Roni Loren

Title: By the Hour by Roni Loren
Pleasure Principle Series Book Two
Publisher: Roni Loren, LLC
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 354 pages

Summary:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Off the Clock comes a story of love, hate, and the fire that ignites when the two collide…

Dr. Elle McCray has a plan. Work hard. Be the best. And do it alone. After her ex-husband’s betrayal, she’s learned being feared is a hell of a lot easier than being humiliated. So when trouble personified, Lane Cannon, dares to flirt with her, she shuts him down cold. Too gorgeous. Too cocky. And his job as The Grove’s sexual surrogate is to sleep with patients. No, thank you.

Former escort Lane Cannon has spent enough years with people looking down on him. Stupid. Trailer trash. Rent boy. He’s heard it all. He’s worked too hard to shed his past to let some haughty doctor cut him down. But something about Elle’s ice queen act has his dominant instincts perking up and his body taking notice. He can’t walk away.

After an evening of verbal sparring turns into a night of steamy hate sex, Lane’s ready for round two. But Elle proposes a business deal. How better to keep things strictly physical than to pay him for his services?

Lane wants her, not her money. But he’ll play along in exchange for one thing—all the control. It’s only supposed to be a dirty little fling between colleagues, but these two are about to learn a lesson in love…by the hour.

Add to Goodreads.
Add Series to Goodreads.

Purchase Links: Amazon * B&N * iTunes * Kobo


Excerpt

Elle picked up the phone with intentions of turning the ringer off, but before she could silence it, there was a sharp knock on her door. The interruption startled her and made her drop the still ringing phone onto the rug beneath her desk.

“Dammit.” Distracted, Elle called out for whoever it was to come in and then bent down to grab the phone and silence it. “If you want to talk to me, leave a freaking voicemail. I do have a job, you know.”

“I’m aware.”

The deep rumble of a voice had her head snapping up, and she promptly banged it on the underside of her desk. “Son of a bitch.

The ringing that had stopped with the phone started in her head. She rubbed the sore spot, and sat up to find Lane standing in her doorway with a white box in his hands and an unreadable expression.

“You okay?”

The spot on her head was throbbing but she gave a curt nod, not wanting to give him the satisfaction. “I’m fine. Why are you here?”

His signature smugness touched his lips. “Always such a warm welcome from you, McCray. I bet you worked your way through college as a greeter at Disney World. Am I right?”

“Yep. Wore the ears and everything,” she said, not missing a beat. “Now answer the question.”

Because the sooner he did that, the sooner she could get him out of here. Just seeing him leaning against her doorframe with that lazy, self-satisfied way of his had her mind replaying the scene from that night in her head. Only the highlight reel, of course. Not the ugly parts. Not the part where she ended up alone on her living room floor having a freak out. Her dirty mind was fantastic at editing out the stuff she was supposed to be focusing on.

He lifted the box. “I come bearing cupcakes.”

At first, all she heard was I come. Boy, did he. With sexy grunts and brute force. She shook the images from her head. God, she turned into a horny teenager when she was around this guy. Pack the hormones away, Elle. She cleared her throat. “Cupcakes?”

He opened the box and revealed eleven cupcakes with hideous bright pink frosting. “These got delivered to the wrong building on the wrong date, and I’m guessing with the wrong color, because no one who wasn’t having a pretty, pretty princess birthday party would choose these. But they were supposed to go to you for your birthday. Happy late birthday, Elle.”

She kept her expression smooth, even though hearing someone finally wish her happy birthday had her throat tightening. She swallowed past the unexpected and unwelcome emotion. “What happened to the twelfth one?”

He set the box on her desk and the door closed behind him. “I did a poison test for you. They’re safe but turn your tongue and teeth colors.”

He stuck out his fluorescent tongue and then grinned a toothy, pink smile to demonstrate.

She couldn’t stop the snort that escaped. She pressed her fingers over her mouth, trying not to show any break in her stone wall.

He waved a hand. “No, go ahead. I know. So many jokes that can be made. Don’t let your head explode from not saying one.”

“You should get that checked.”

He gave another encouraging flick of his hand. “I know there’s more.”

“Did Miss Piggy at least buy you a drink before you went down on her?”

He grinned wide.

“Did she taste like bacon?”

He laughed at that one, a warm, open sound that he’d never made in her presence. “I knew there was a sense of humor in there somewhere.” He lifted an eyebrow. “And Miss Piggy bought me a whole meal, which is more than I can say for the last woman I slept with.”

She stiffened at that, and the smile that had slipped out fell away. “Thanks for bringing them by but—”

“You’re busy. Yeah, I’m sure you are. And I got that we’re not supposed to talk about it. But look, here’s the deal. I have a very low tolerance for drama in my life these days. This”—he pointed a finger back and forth between the two of them—“is drama neither of us needs. So consider what happened done. I do. Both of us should’ve known better. We didn’t get along to begin with. A hot night in bed isn’t going to change that.”

She tipped her chin up, trying to maintain her cool composure. “No, it’s not.”

He smiled. “Got you to admit that it was hot.”

“Lane.”


Author Bio

r lorenRoni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. If she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you can find her cooking, watching reality television, or picking up another hobby she doesn’t need–in other words, procrastinating like a boss. She is a RITA Award winner and a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

Author Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads


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Review: Among the Lesser Gods by Margo Catts

Title: Among the Lesser Gods by Margo Catts
Publisher: Arcade Publishing
Genre: Historical (70s), Women’s Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

For fans of authors like Barbara Kingsolver and Leif Enger, a stunning new voice in contemporary literary fiction.

“Tragedy and blessing. Leave them alone long enough, and it gets real hard to tell them apart.”

Elena Alvarez is living a cursed life. From the deadly fire she accidentally set as a child, to her mother’s abandonment, and now to an unwanted pregnancy, she knows better than most that small actions can have terrible consequences. Driven to the high mountains surrounding Leadville, Colorado by her latest bad decision, she’s intent on putting off the future. Perhaps there she can just hide in her grandmother’s isolated cabin and wait for something—anything—to make her next choice for her.

Instead, she is confronted by reflections of her own troubles wherever she turns—the recent widower and his two children adrift in a changed world, Elena’s own mysterious family history, and the interwoven lives within the town itself. Bit by bit, Elena begins to question her understanding of cause and effect, reexamining the tragedies she’s held on to and the wounds she’s refused to let heal.

But when the children go missing, Elena’s fragile new peace is shattered. It’s only at the prospect of fresh loss and blame that she will discover the truth of the terrible burdens we take upon ourselves, the way tragedy and redemption are inevitably intertwined—and how curses can sometimes lead to blessings, however disguised.

Review:

Among the Lesser Gods by Margo Catts is an emotional novel of self-discovery, self forgiveness and redemption.

Twenty-two year old Elena Alvarez is no stranger to making mistakes that culminate with life-altering consequences. On the brink of graduating from college, she is unsure what comes next for her when her beloved grandmother offers her a safe refuge in Leadville, CO. Trying to outrun her past while planning for her future, Elena wonders if she is the best person to take care of two grieving children while their father is out on the road. Unexpectedly connecting with her charges, eleven year old Kevin and five year old Sarah, Elena’s attempts to help them heal from their loss have a surprising effect on the wounds she carries from her own somewhat tragic past.

Having never been given the opportunity to deal with the defining moment of her life, Elena self-sabotages herself at every juncture. Always trying to outrun her missteps without examining the reason she makes such ill-fated decisions, Elena’s latest error in judgment results in an unexpected pregnancy. She is only planning to remain in CO temporarily as she tries to decide whether or not she wants to keep her baby or give it up for adoption. While neither option feels quite right, Elena does not think she has what it takes to raise a child but will she change her mind by summer’s end?

Elena is initially out of her element as she begins caring for Kevin and Sarah.  Armed with advice from her grandmother, she manages to make surprisingly sound decisions about how she and the kids spend their days. However, she feels like she is well of her depth when it comes to the messy emotions and small dramas that crop up with the children. As Elena offers helpful advice to Kevin and Sarah, she is quite shocked to discover these life lessons also apply to her. These shifts in her perception and the meaningful discussions with her grandmother are rather eye opening and prove to be quite healing. With this newfound awareness, Elena arrives at startling conclusions about some of the motivation for the choices she has made throughout her life. Armed with a fresh outlook and finally forgiving herself for the mistakes of her past, will Elena decide to keep her baby? Will she remain in Leadville?

Among the Lesser Gods is a poignant yet heartwarming novel that is quite captivating. The storyline is well-written and quite thought-provoking. The characters are richly developed and multi-faceted with relatable strengths and weaknesses. Elena is easy to relate to and it is an absolute joy watching her forgive herself for past mistakes and begin making plans for her future. The setting is absolutely perfect and Margo Catts brings both the town and its residents vibrantly to life. An utterly marvelous debut that is deeply affecting and will linger in readers’ hearts and minds long after the last page is turned.

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Filed under Among the Lesser Gods, Arcade Publishing, Historical, Historical (70s), Margo Catts, Rated A, Review