Thursday, November 27, 2014

Blog tour: A Cowboy's Christmas Promise by Maggie McGinnis


A Cowboy’s Christmas Promise
By: Maggie McGinnis
Releasing November 18th, 2014
Loveswept





In a captivating novel spiced with holiday magic—perfect for fans of Rachel Gibson, Susan Mallery, and Molly O’Keefe—a rugged Montana man mends a Northeast girl’s jaded heart.

Boston veterinarian Hayley Scampini tends the city’s pampered pets but dreams of the rural life of a country vet. She’s single and determined to stay that way, convinced that love isn’t permanent enough to trust. Then a vacation to the Whisper Creek dude ranch introduces her to Daniel McKee, a sexy single dad who runs the kind of veterinary practice she aspires to—and rattles her conviction to keep men at a distance.

Managing a thriving practice, coping with the loss of his wife, and fighting a custody battle with his in-laws over his twin daughters, Daniel couldn’t be more overwhelmed. Hayley is a godsend, accompanying him in the field and winning over his girls. It doesn’t take Daniel long to realize he’s falling for this woman, hard and fast. So before Hayley returns to Boston, he extracts a promise: that she will return to Whisper Creek for Christmas. It’s the perfect time and place to show Hayley that the promise of a beautiful life together is something she can believe in.



Praise for Maggie McGinnis

“Maggie McGinnis writes the kind of characters that keep you smiling long after you turn the page.”—USA Today bestselling author Katie Lane

“A writer with a talent for both humor and emotion.”New York Times bestselling author Lori Handeland, aka Lori Austin

McGinnis comes out of the chute with force, grabs your emotions, and gets a death hold on your attention to the last page, where you sigh and wish there was one more chapter.”—New York Times bestselling author Carolyn Brown

“Heartwarming and sweet, Maggie McGinnis is definitely an author to watch!”USA Today bestselling author Tina Leonard





Maggie McGinnis is the author of Accidental Cowgirl and Driving Without a License, which was a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award. A former high school English teacher, an accomplished musician, and a certified black belt, she lives in New England with her family.



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Whoever thinks that clean romance without any descriptive sex scenes or colorful language can’t be a gripping story is extremely wrong. This was such a fantastic book! I couldn’t put it down. I fell in love with the setting (I want to move to Montana!), with the farm life, with the characters and even with the ugly dog!
I decided to let a few days pass before I started writing this review because, if I have to be honest, I couldn’t just put down in words my feelings for this book. I was totally hung over and finding words was really hard (which for someone calling herself a writer is a sin!).
Writing reviews is never a hard task for me. I finish a book, open a Word document and start jotting down my thoughts. Writing a review for this story is going to be a hard task because, even a week after finishing it, I’m still overwhelmed.
This is such a sweet love story and so real that I found myself wishing it could actually happen to me too. Hayley, the heroine, goes on a two-week holiday in Montana to be one of the bridesmaids at her friend’s Kyla’s country wedding. She’s planning on unwinding from her city life with a no-strings-attached fling with a hot cowboy. She doesn’t want anything more, since she doesn’t commit to men. She was scarred early in life and she’s made it her mission to keep men out of her heart. Then she gets to Montana and meets Daniel, the tall, dark and insanely handsome vet.
Even though he’s not a cowboy, the attraction to him is practically immediate—and it’s not a one-way one. What Hayley wasn’t expecting though, was that Daniel comes with a 3 for the price of 1 offer: two adorable twin girls are all Daniel’s left with after his wife, and the love of his life, passed away two years before.
Hayley doesn’t believe in happily-ever-afters, especially if there are children involved in the package. 
Daniel doesn’t want to let another woman take the place of his wife in his life.
The big dilemma is: can Hayley go back to Boston after her holiday and leave Daniel and his girls behind, without anyone getting hurt? You’ll have a great journey trying to discover this!
I loved Hayley. I don’t usually like commitment-phobic heroines, but Hayley had her reasons, good reasons, behind her behavior. She’s a very relatable character and someone I’d love to have as a best friend.
Daniel. He is absolutely a fantastic hero. He’s handsome and loving, and an amazing father as a bonus. During the most tense scenes, when he’s risking losing his girls, his big heart and determination come out and you can’t help loving him just that little bit more. He’s one of those men you’d never want to let go (if you’re lucky enough to ever find him, that is). 
The twins. Oh my God, the twins were simply ADORABLE! They made me laugh, they made my heart melt, they made me want to adopt them if only they were real. 
There is a range of fantastic secondary characters. Kayla (who, I’ve discovered, is the heroine in the previous book—which I absolutely must read a.s.a.p.!) is hilarious and is the perfect best friend. She’s a little bit of a matchmaker, and a true believer of happy endings.
The Montana farm setting is perfect, and makes it all that much nicer to read and truly enjoy. I really like the author’s style, her way of describing the setting and writing dialogues that feel real, but most especially her way of creating strong chemistry between the characters while keeping it a clean romance. There were no detailed sex scenes, but their chemistry was palpable. 
Kudos to the author for managing to restore my old-fashioned belief that a clean romance can be an unputdownable book! Good old romance at his best, the one where you wish the words “The End” never showed up. I will definitely read the first book in the series and any other book coming out afterwards. And you should too!
By the way, in spite of the title, you can read this book all year long because it’s not set only at Christmas time, although the happy ending happens during the Christmas holidays. 







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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blog tour: Share The Moon by Sharon Struth


Share the Moon
Blue Moon Lake # 1 
By: Sharon Struth
Released August 4th, 2014 
Lyrical Press / Kensington 



"Heart-tugging small town romance with real emotion. Struth is an author to watch!"—Laura Drake, author of RITA-award winning The Sweet Spot

Sometimes trust is the toughest lesson to learn.
Sophie Shaw is days away from signing a contract that will fulfill her dream of owning a vineyard. For her, it’s a chance to restart her life and put past tragedies to rest. But Duncan Jamieson’s counter offer blows hers out to sea.

Duncan still finds Sophie as appealing as he had during boyhood vacations to the lake. Older and wiser now, he has his own reasons for wanting the land. His offer, however, hinges on a zoning change approval.

Bribery rumors threaten the deal and make Sophie wary of Duncan, yet she cannot deny his appeal. When her journalistic research uncovers a Jamieson family secret, trust becomes the hardest lesson for them both.





Sharon Struth is an award-winning author who believes it’s never too late for a second chance in love or life. When she’s not writing, she and her husband happily sip their way through the scenic towns of the Connecticut Wine Trail. Sharon writes from the small town of Bethel, Connecticut, the friendliest place she’s ever lived. For more information, including where to find her other novels and published essays, please visit her website.


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This was a nice story about getting over grief and learning to love and trust again. 
Sophie experienced tragedy through the loss of her eldest son and the subsequent divorce from her husband. What I liked about her was that she was there for her other two children; even though she still grieved badly for her son, she was an attentive mother and put her children first, even when her ex-husband didn’t treat her too kindly. I also liked the way she fought to remain professional when her path crossed with the enemy, a.k.a. Duncan.
Their meet-cute was nice, and I liked how they immediately clicked. This made their next encounter during the meeting rather interesting. I liked seeing how Sophie tried to convince herself to stay away from Duncan but her heart and body had another opinion on the matter.
Duncan is a very likeable hero. Even though he’s a tough businessman who never backed down from a business deal in the past, I liked seeing how he found himself reconsidering the whole thing the more he got to know Sophie, the girl he’d fallen in love with when he was a young kid and never managed to get her out of his mind. I liked how he struggled to change, to be a better man and a better father to his children than he’d been in the past.
The small town setting is one of my favorite in romance books, so I liked this one too. It sounded like a very nice place to be. It was described really well and the reader can actually feel the vibe through the pages.
There is a bit of tension in some points, as some mysteries are revealed, but all in all it is a rather quiet, sweet romance with a strong chemistry between the two main characters that starts in chapter one and gets stronger throughout the book.
I enjoyed this story but the reason for my rating is  that in some parts the story  was a bit slow-paced and seemed to drag a little. Being a different age than the characters, I had a little trouble truly connecting with them, although the author did a good job of bringing us into their minds. There was quite a lot of introspection for both characters, but it fit the story, since both of them had gone through a troubled life one way or another.
You will enjoy this story if you like small town romance, and characters who get a second chance at finding their happily-ever-after with someone else after their first marriage.







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Monday, November 24, 2014

Blog tour: Her Winning Formula by Shannyn Schroeder



Her Winning Formula
Hot & Nerdy # 3
By: Shannyn Schroeder
Releasing November 24th, 2014 
Kensington



Spring break was supposed to be a last blast of fun for three friends before the reality of adulthood set in. But for the trio’s science whiz, it’s an education in instant attraction…

Chemistry major Felicity Stone can tell you everything about the way chemicals interact, but when it comes to social interaction, she needs schooling. Abandoned by her friends, Felicity is faced with spending spring break alone—unless she accepts a gorgeous stranger’s invitation to pose as his girlfriend at a family wedding. Not one to turn down a research opportunity, Felicity never expected it to produce such breathtaking results…

Teacher and baseball coach Lucas Tanner is fascinated by Felicity’s potent mix of spirit and scientist, not to mention her delicious curves. When Felicity asks him to return the favor by teaching her how to pick up guys, he can’t refuse—but he’s not at all happy with the idea of her using a formula for flirting on anyone but him. Can he convince her that together they have the perfect chemistry?







 Shannyn Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series, contemporary romances centered around a large Irish-American family in Chicago and the new Hot & Nerdy series about 3 nerdy friends and their last spring break. When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to bake cookies.



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Felicity was beginning to think this trip was cursed. 
Lucas stood there staring at her, then he sighed. “Take my car. I can have someone from my family come get me.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Sure you can. I’m probably going to be at the hotel most of the time.” He leaned over the counter and flashed a sexy smile at the clerk. “You can change that reservation, right? I’d like to give my friend Felicity here my car.”
The girl’s face brightened. “Of course, we can do that.”
Felicity pulled out her credit card. “Thank you.”
Lucas had stepped away from the counter and pulled out his phone. She watched him and knew she should do or say something. Thank you didn’t quite cut it. She thought about Layla and Charlie and even her mother and what they would do in this situation. “Don’t call your family. I’ll take you to your hotel.”
“You sure?”
“It doesn’t make sense for someone to drive thirty miles to get here and then have to turn back. It’s the least I can do.” She signed the paperwork, and they walked outside to get the car. Felicity slid her sunglasses on her face as Lucas stowed their bags in the trunk. He climbed in beside her, looking no more comfortable than he had on the plane. “I’m a safe driver.”
He jiggled the handle to adjust the seat and shoved it back to allow more legroom, and then he relaxed. He typed his hotel information into the onboard GPS, and Felicity began driving. Lucas made call after call while they drove. From what she could hear, he’d been roped into taking care of a bunch of wedding details, but nothing seemed to bother him. 
When he finally clicked his phone off and tucked it back in his pocket, she knew she should say something.
“Sorry for all the calls. My family was a little panicked that I wasn’t going to make it on time.”
“Okay.” In the silence, she thought about what she’d wanted to get out of this vacation, besides time with her two closest and oldest friends. She wanted to have fun. She’d been counting on Layla and Charlie to help with that. It was bad enough that Charlie refused the trip, but now Layla was late. As they neared Lucas’s hotel, she blurted, “Okay, I’ll go to the wedding with you.”
“You make it sound like it might be torture.”
She laughed. “After you see me in a big crowd, you might think that way too.”
“It’ll be fun.”
Ha! Volunteering to put herself into a group of people she didn’t know didn’t sound fun at all, but being with Lucas did. He made her laugh, which was something she didn’t get from most guys. 

***

Lucas relaxed his shoulders. He had a date for the wedding. This would be perfect. Felicity would be able to keep Becky from clawing at him, and he might actually have a shot of enjoying this week.
Felicity pulled up in front of his hotel. “Give me a call and let me know what time I should be here tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? No, I need you now.” 
Her eyes widened, and he realized how his words sounded. “I mean, there’s rehearsal in a couple of hours and then dinner after. My family will expect my date to be there. Plus, you’ll need a crash course on me and my family if we’re going to pull this off.”
Felicity’s brows furrowed, and a cute wrinkle waved along her forehead. “Pull this off? I thought you just needed a date.”
He released a slow breath. “I need a date to keep my ex away. If she knows we just met on the plane, it’ll be like waving a red cape at a bull. She needs to think we’re in a relationship.”
Felicity swallowed hard.
“We don’t need to make them believe we’re getting married or anything, just dating, but that means we need to know about each other.”
“But…but I have to check in at my hotel.”
“Call and tell them you’ll be late. You can go there after dinner tonight.” Lucas waited patiently, like he did in the classroom when a student needed time to develop an answer.
Felicity faced forward, staring out the windshield, looking like she was carrying on a conversation in her head. She blew out a breath and shook her head. “Fine. Get the bags from the trunk and I’ll park. I need to change before dinner.”
“Thanks. I could kiss you.”
She turned, and one eyebrow arched up above her sunglasses. “Is that part of our deal?”
He smiled. “Only if you want it to be.”




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Friday, November 21, 2014

Blog tour: Sweet Cowboy Christmas by Candis Terry


Sweet Cowboy Christmas 
Sweet, Texas # 3.5
By: Candis Terry 
Releasing November 25th, 2014 
Avon Impulse 




Mistletoe, holly, and cowboys, oh my! Christmas in Texas has never been sweeter.

Years ago, Chase Morgan traded in his dusty cowboy boots for the shimmering lights of New York City and a fast track up the corporate ladder. But when his shiny life is turned on end just in time for Christmas, Chase knows he needs to reevaluate even if that means going home to Texas to endure his least favorite holiday.

When Mr. Tall, Dark, and Smoking Hot walks through her door at the Magic Box Guest Ranch, Faith Walker sees just another handsome, rich exec looking to play cowboy for a week-at her expense. She’s sure the grumpy, but sexy as hell Scrooge will put a crimp in her holly jolly plans. Until a sizzling kiss has her seeing him in a new light.

Chase is haunted by secrets, and even though it goes entirely against her “hands off the guests” rule Faith is tempted to help him leave the past behind. As the magic of the season swirls around them, she is determined to succeed because now she is certain one sweet, cowboy Christmas will never be enough






Candis Terry was born and raised near the sunny beaches of Southern California and now makes her home on an Idaho farm. She’s experienced life in such diverse ways as working in a Hollywood recording studio to chasing down wayward steers. Only one thing has remained the same: her passion for writing stories about relationships, the push and pull in the search for love, and the security one finds in their own happily ever after.



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A perfect novella for hopeless romantics and lovers of happily ever afters (like me), for those who love Christmas stories, as well as for those who like cowboy romances. Technically Chase isn't an actual cowboy, but he pulls it off well anyway, since he grew up in rural Texas. He's tall, dark and handsome - what more could a woman wish to find under the Christmas tree? Lucky Faith is about to find out when Chase walks through the double doors of her guest ranch. Lucky girl!
Being a novella, therefore a shorter story, everything goes pretty fast - from the moment they meet to the moment they kiss only a few days have passed. The attraction is very strong and the pull is magnetic from their first encounter, in a sort of "love at first sight" kind of encounter. Although in longer stories this would have been a turn-off, because it was definitely too much too soon, since this is a novella I knew from the start things would have to happen very early in the book so I was okay with it.
I liked seeing how it all built into something strong that at some point ended up exploding into a sexy, rather steamy scene that had nothing Sweet about it (pun intended!). After that, things progress quickly toward their happily ever after, and I was sorry to let them go so soon. I found myself wondering (and hoping) if we'd get to see this couple in another book, maybe as secondary characters, so that we would know what happened next.
I liked both characters. Even though at first I wasn't sure what to think of Chase, since he sounded like a shallow and workaholic hotshot, as soon as he stepped into Faith's life, his real personality came to surface and he was definitely hotter than the guy from New York.
Faith is strong and self-confident. I liked how she took care of the ranch on her own and took no BS from Chase. I liked how she wasn't afraid to speak her mind in front of Chase. Even though she's been hurt by a man in the past, she's not whiny or waiting to be rescued. She stood her ground throughout the book, especially when she didn't know Chase well.
If you want to spend a couple of hours enjoying a Texas Christmas, pick up this book. Now that I've discovered the town of Sweet, Texas, I will definitely come back for more.






“Welcome to the Magic Box Ranch.”
Chase dropped his suitcase by the door, where he was greeted by a woman a bit on the shorter side and definitely a little on the healthier side of the women he usually met up with in NYC. Not that she was fat. And he wouldn’t exactly call her plump. But from where he stood just inside the door, he could tell she filled out the black T-shirt and pair of Wranglers with luscious curves unlike the waifish, famished-looking creatures he’d seen strut the catwalk at Fashion Week.
Her sun-streaked brown hair was pulled up in a ponytail that stuck out through the hole at the back of a pink-and-black “Cowgirl” ball cap and shadowed a sweetheart face. A worn and scuffed pair of brown boots finished off a look that touted her as a workingwoman and not just someone who sat behind a desk filing papers.
He’d become so accustomed to city women who dressed for the masses that he’d forgotten about the women he’d grown up knowing. Those who mostly wore jeans and boots, denim and cotton. Those who dressed not with the hopes that their photo might end up on ET’s Hottest Fashions of the Week, but of necessity and common sense.
When she came around the desk to shake his hand, he got a better view. And it was a nice one.
“My name’s Faith Walker,” she said through plump, kissable lips that revealed the slightest hint of dimples when she smiled. Her dark gray eyes were direct, no-nonsense, and would most likely cut through the layers of BS someone tried to spoon-feed her.
Faith was what he and his friends back in the day would call a hot damn real woman.
He came forward, shook her extended hand, and smiled when he discovered she had a firm grip. None of that three-fingered loosey-goosey thing he’d run into with women before.
“Chase Morgan.” Surprised by the impulse to reel her in closer, he reluctantly let go of her hand.
“I’m going to apologize right from the start, Mr. Morgan.” She flashed him those dimples, then went around to the business side of the desk and began tapping on a computer keyboard. “We really don’t get guests this time of year. So the place is empty, and I’m afraid you won’t have others to share conversation or company.”





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12 days of Sweet blog tour

DAY 5:
Fiona Wilder (from Sweet Surprise)

Is it my tasty cupcakes that won over fireman Mike Halsey? Hard to say. All I know is that when it comes to this tall, dark, and smoking hot firefighter, kisses do come to mind. And maybe a lot more. Hopefully you have a good imagination. And hopefully you’ll love these holiday cupcakes as much as Mike does.

Candy Cane Kiss Brownie Cupcakes



Brownie Ingredients:
1/2 cup salted butter
8 oz coarsely chopped quality semi-sweet chocolate*
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Chocolate Frosting Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream or half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
salt, to taste

Brownie Directions:
Melt the butter and chopped chocolate in a medium saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Or melt in a medium microwave safe bowl in 20 second increments, stirring after each, in the microwave. Remove from the heat, pour into a large mixing bowl, and allow to slightly cool for 10 minutes.
Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line the bottom and sides of a 9x9 inch square baking pan* with aluminum foil, leaving an overhand on all sides. Set aside.
Whisk the granulated and brown sugars into the cooled chocolate/butter mixture. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla. Gently fold in the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Once combined, fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour batter into the baking cups in a cupcake/muffin pan. Press Hershey kisses into center of brownie batter, do not push all the way to bottom, some of the tip should stick out the top. Bake for 35-36 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with only a few moist crumbs when the brownies are done.
Allow brownies to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack.

Frosting Directions:
Sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder to assure there are no lumps. Set aside.
With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy - about 2 minutes.
Gradually add the sifted sugar/cocoa powder alternately with the heavy cream and vanilla. Beat on low speed after each addition.
Once all added, beat on high speed until creamy and combined for at least 2 minutes.
Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
Frost the cooled brownies.
Sprinkle crushed candy canes on top.

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