Saturday, January 24, 2015

What's on Your Book Pile?

I have been busy, busy, busy!! But that doesn't mean I've stopped reading... Are you kidding? That would be like going without air. :) SOOO, to catch you up a little, here's a smattering of what I've read lately. Enjoy!

Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

When love simmers between a reclusive scientist and a wealthy debutante, will they abandon ship or is it full steam ahead?

Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, Nicole's father has always focused on what she's not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping.

Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it's too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family's greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father's rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole's plans.

After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. Even if it means letting a female secretary into his secluded world.

Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father's rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family's legacy?

Karen Witemeyer has a gift for emotionally compelling stories that also make me laugh out loud. Both Nicole and Darius have deep seeded fears from their past driving them to do bold and outrageous things now with the need to protect every one around them in the process. Especially from each other. The attraction and romantic pull between the two would be heroes is so much fun to experience. Nicole is sassy and Darius isn't always the alpha male 'boss' he pretends to be. I couldn't help but fall with Nicole as she lost her heart to Darius. Great read!

The Hatmaker's Heart by Carla Stewart

For Nell Marchwold, bliss is seeing the transformation when someone gets a glimpse in the mirror while wearing one of her creations and feels beautiful. Nell has always strived to create hats that bring out a woman's best qualities. She knows she's fortunate to have landed a job as an apprentice designer at the prominent Oscar Fields Millinery in New York City. Yet when Nell's fresh designs begin to catch on, her boss holds her back from the limelight, claiming the stutter she's had since childhood reflects poorly on her and his salon.

But it seems Nell's gift won't be hidden by Oscar's efforts. Soon an up-and-coming fashion designer is seeking her out as a partner of his 1922 collection. The publicity leads to an opportunity for Nell to make hats in London for a royal wedding. There, she sees her childhood friend, Quentin, and an unexpected spark kindles between them. But thanks to her success, Oscar is determined to keep her. As her heart tugs in two directions, Nell must decide what she is willing to sacrifice for her dream, and what her dream truly is.

I love the Art Deco period with flapper girls and the style of a new century proudly breaking the rules against a backdrop of prohibition and Women's rights. Nell is a modern young woman that designs beautiful hats that bring out the best in each of her clients. She's quickly building a fan base that clamor for her to have her own line. Her boss is quick to use her talents and her good looks to help build his business, but give Nell proper credit and help her succeed on her own? No way.

Carla Stewart does a great job of recreating that world and allowing the reader to step into Nell's shoes to see the world in a new way. I had expected it to be more of a romance, and although there is a satisfying romantic ending, the story really revolves more around Nell becoming independent and yet also more faithful and dependent on God. It was a lot of fun to read and I enjoyed it a lot.

It even reminded me of one of my favorite pictures of my grandparents when they were just young teens and in love. :)

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant

Kat inspected rows of the same old cupcakes. They seemed to blink back at her, as if they knew she was capable of so much more.

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie’s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat’s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself—her—is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat’s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

Kat is a VERY creative baker. She loves to experiment with new flavors and combinations. I can totally identify with that. Who doesn't love creative baking? Especially when it's delicious? 

According to Kat - only Lucas, her best friend. No one else in town wants anything but plain strawberry, chocolate and vanilla. Not that her aunt's recipes aren't tasty, but they're stuck in a rut. Kat feels trapped in her hometown with little confidence and no hope. Lucas sees a whole different picture. When seeing Kat through Lucas' eyes, you can see why he's so head over heels in love for her. The fact she can't see it despite her own feelings toward him had me a little ready to scream in frustration. But, isn't that just how it is so often? Our own fears getting in the way of taking chances and letting our hearts talk?

The cooking competition shakes things up for the best friends drastically, but the passion is stirs is perfect. And the touch of sweet heat that each fights with their attraction is like icing. The author is honest in her presentation of relationships while keeping it clean and honorable. Loved it. 

Shh…it's a secret! 

Special ops expert Trig Sinclair is a man's man, and that means he knows the cardinal rule of the bro code—no matter how dynamite Lena West is, as his best friend's younger sister, she's strictly off-limits! 

But when a secret mission to Istanbul sees Lena and Trig pretending to be married (and sharing a bed!), he finds himself in a whole new world of sweet torture…. But if Trig thinks playing the honor-bound hero is tough, it's got nothing on how Lena feels when she discovers what her "groom" is really hiding….

Lena has two super smart brothers, she's never felt like she could keep up with them. In school or any where else. But that hasn't stopped her from trying. Trig, her older brother's best friend, has always been there to help her out. As they got older the three of them become a team as she follows the guys right into special ops. But Lena's older brother is out of contact and she's determined to go find him. Trig's not about to let her head off into dangerous territory alone. Under a pretend cover of newlywed's the two start their investigation in the street markets. Lena get's mugged and her concussion has her believing they really are married. Trig would be fine with a relationship, but he has to be honorable, Lena isn't thinking strait. Only she's making that very difficult for him. 

This was a hit and miss for me. I enjoyed the action and intrigue and the glamour of foreign lands, but the relationship between Lena and Trig seems rather quick. HOWEVER, I will say I discovered later that this is the third book in a series, so there could be a lot of build up for the couple in earlier books. It was a fun read, but not a lot of depth or connection romantically other than the physical attraction. NOTE: This is not the type of book I typically review. This is definitely a steamier romance, be prepared for the bedroom scene. 

When Her Friend Goes Missing, Every Minute Counts
Darcy St. James returns to Alaska to join a journalist friend undercover on the trail of a big story. But when Darcy arrives, she finds her friend has disappeared. Troubled by the cruise ship's vague explanation, Darcy uses her cover as a travel reporter to investigate further.

The last person Gage McKenna expects to see during his summer aboard a cruise ship leading adventure excursions is Darcy. And in typical Darcy fashion, she's digging up more trouble.

He'd love to just forget her--but something won't let him. And he can't help but worry about her as they are heading into more remote regions of Alaska and eventually into foreign waters. Something sinister is going on, and the deeper they push, the more Gage fears they've only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

I love Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series! Stranded did not disappoint. Darcy St. James has appeared once before in an earlier book and I thought for sure she and Gage were set to fall in love. Then he shut her out and she left. Talk about sad! But now Darcy is back and her investigation has gotten her in a lot of trouble. In fact, Dani could be dead if Gage doesn't come through in time. 

The suspense is fantastic. Dani also does a wonderful job of bringing you into a wild wilderness that's beautiful and harsh, a land to be respected and tamed. Much like Gage's heart. (okay, that may be cheesy, but still very appropriate.) I found myself holding my breath at times and that is the best way to read a suspense. 

Minnesota tycoon Abraham Kennebrae is in the business of love when he plans to marry his grandsons to the wealthiest heiresses in town. The trouble is the brothers and their future brides aren’t happy about the prospect. Jonathan desperately wants to keep his fortune while Melissa wants to protect her deepest secret and her heart. Noah flees to the safety of Sutton Island where he unexpectedly meets his would-be bride, Anastasia. Eli is betrothed to marry Clarice Zahn, yet it is her younger sister, Josie, who truly has eyes for the groom. Can true love result from mismatched matchmaking?

Abraham Kennebrae was the kind of old man you hated to admit having visions of putting in his place - any way necessary. The old goat is pushy, hard headed, old-fashioned and greedy. To point out his nice qualities. He's told his grandsons they will marry the brides he's chosen for them to help grow the business - or lose their inheritance. 

I was very happy to say that all three brothers were the stand up kind of guys that were willing to give up an inheritance in order to find love. Until it threatened someone else special. Each of the three novels had a unique romance and story. The brothers all one of a kind. The setting and historical background is well written and even better, the girls have as much spunk and say in this as the brothers. It may have seemed like mismatched matchmaking, but when put in God's hands, even grandpa's greedy motives can be turned into something beautiful. I really enjoyed this series, hardly taking a moment to breathe between each book. 

All of these books came free, courtesy of Netgalley and they associated publishers. All opinions are mine, freely given with remuneration from the publishers. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Unicorns are Coming!!!

Guess what's coming!

A NEW book by Author

Will Ulysees find the truth before disaster strikes?
 How did the Legacy of Azaria transform to a world of fear it has with the unicorns barely existing hidden in the depths of the forest? Why is Icharus, the Great Stallion, so cruel and ruthless? And who is Jaresh, the powerful being no one’s ever seen who takes away their powers? Angry, the young colt, Ulysees and his friend Téo rebel, following an abandoned trail where they’re discovered by humans. Now the entire herd must make an exodus. But Ulysees discovers there’s more danger then just humans when he meets a giant creature who warns them of impending doom…

March 2015

The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Deception is the sequel to The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy. If you haven't read this yet, be sure to check it out. It's not to be missed!