Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Longing for a Cowboy Christmas anthology

Longing for a Cowboy Christmas
April 2020, reread of Christmas in Paradise by Rosanne Bittner - revisited Paradise Valley in preparation for Rosanne Bittner's newest book coming soon that will have Sage Lightfoot appearing in it.

And I still gotta say, Sage and Maggie's story is still a favorite one.

This is a wonderful collection of Christmas short stories - each one giving a couple hour dose of a feel-good story to snuggle up with. I totally read this book out of order, going first with the stories I was looking forward to the most and working my way through the rest, and not being disappointed in any of them!

Christmas in Paradise by Rosanne Bittner
I was so thrilled when I found out we were getting more of Sage and Maggie from Paradise Valley (one of my favorite RB books)! I had faith going in I'd love the follow up to their story, and I wasn't disappointed. Sage is still all protective of Maggie, and patient with her as she's settling into her spot as his wife. He knows he's got a treasure in her and makes sure she knows it deep down. Maggie is still as sweet, determined, and strong, as much as she's vulnerable and struggles with some insecurities. But Sage won't let those fears keep their grip on her. Loved the touch of adventure and drama, and the beauty of their Christmas miracle, both in seeing them settled, and in seeing their happily-ever-after come full circle. Honestly, this just made me want even more of their story, and I'd love to see a sequel novel someday for Sage and Maggie and their family.

A Christmas Wedding by Linda Broday

Christmas in Hope's Crossing, pouring out good on people who deserve all the good they can get! Loved getting to know Rebel even more, watching her big heart dig deep to find joy and spread it around. And then Travis finally getting the new start he needed and finding his way home again to wrap his family up in his protective arms and shower them with love. Add in some breath-catching moments and some giggles along with a few tears, and you get a sweet addition to Linda Broday's Outlaw Mail Order Brides series. So glad that there's more coming for this town and hopefully we'll get to see more of Rebel and Travis in future stories.

Through the Storm by Amy Sandas
Through the Storm starts off with a sweet, slow burn that builds to an inferno, keeping you needing more. George is fully captivated by Lucy when he first meets her, and fate helps to bring her back to him. George is an interesting character with his charm and gentleman ways mixed in with outlaw edginess. Lucy is an adorable mix of sweet and capable, the best match for George! Loved watching the embers of their attraction grow into a steady burning flame. This story probably surprised me the most in how much I ended up enjoying it!

A Fairy Tale Christmas by Leigh Greenwood
This is a super sweet story of a man and a woman who both desperately need something the other can provide, but fears and plans and a touch of stubbornness get in the way. Nan desires a family with everything she has, but isn't willing to settle for less than what she deserves or wants. But she does know how to open her heart and grasp to what she is given. Will has a mapped out plan for his life, even if he's struggling with some of the consequences and hanging onto the past. Luckily, a winter storm, the love of a child, and some words of wisdom combine to grant dreams and love to three people who deserve their family and own special happily ever after.

A Love Letter to Santa by Margaret Brownley
Holly and Tom's story melted my heart with all the joy and goodness that Christmas can bring. Holly brought a smile and cheer to a town that was hurting, and wiggled her way into the heart of a man who was lost. Loved her heart and charm. Tom proved to be a man worthy of his Holly, and had a heart of gold as well. This story left me with a few tears but a heart overflowing with good. Definitely a Christmas story to experience! Also, despite being a short novella story, I felt like I got all the feels for a full length novel!

One Snowy Christmas Eve by Anna Schmidt
Evie and Collin's story is one of second chances, letting go of pride, and chasing down your hearts' desires. A little bit of fate stepped in to give them the opportunity needed to reflect on the past, where they're at now, and grasp hold of what they still want now. Toss in a little meddling and a leap of faith and you have a delightful Christmas blessing story! I loved how we got flash backs of their history, giving us a deeper sense of their connection and showing what was worth fighting for.

This is a collection of Christmas shorts not to be missed!!

View all my reviews

Her Honorable Hero by Caitlyn O'Leary

Her Honorable Hero
Talk about an adventure times two! Her Honorable Hero packed a heavy punch.

I adored getting to see Griff and Miranda married and with a baby, and living life. And finally ready to face their past together. I loved getting to experience how they met and how they survived the train wreck. Talk about intense and crazy scary. The way their "how I met you and feel in love" story was told was pretty cool mixing in present day interactions with looking back in time memories.

And then, once we process all that, there's a new threat looming that makes you hurt and ache and feel all anxious living and breathing it all out along side them.

I adore how Griff treated Miranda and showed his love and devotion to her, through darkness and light. I loved his heart and the depths of emotions he had for his family. I loved Miranda's strength and passion and intensity. She knew herself and knew she could take care of herself, but learned that it was okay to depend on and lean more on her husband.

The trouble they faced at the end totally left me on edge and I couldn't stop till I reached the end.

Yet again, I find myself enthralled in an amazing story and placed it on my favorites shelf next to many other Black Dawn books. If you love depth and excitement and bonds of friendship and family mixed in with your military romantic suspense, this book–no, this whole series–is one to escape into.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Her Guarded Hero by Caitlyn O'Leary

Her Guarded Hero
I adored every single minute of this story and was rather heartbroken to see it come to an end!

Dalton's history wrecked my heart, but it also formed him into the protective, loving, heart-stealing man he became. Even if I didn't agree with some of his convictions about himself, he got his head sorted out quickly. And I fell for him just as quickly and as hard as Aurora did - maybe faster as I didn't have an actual fall preceding my downfall. lol

I adored everything about Aurora - she had wisdom and the best kind of sass all wrapped around a heart of gold. She had the perfect kind of soft-strength to face down the demons Dalton carried and defeat them along side of him.

I loved being out at her family's ranch and getting to meet Gunnar and spend time with the horses (and now I even more so want to find a nearby horse ranch!). I also enjoyed seeing the brotherhood still as strong and devoted as ever - and experience Aurora's trio of best-friend-sisters. Friendship bonds like that are a treasure.

This book touches beautifully on a couple of sensitive topics (grief being a big one) and gives you all the feels to truly experience and understand where they're coming from.

As a stand alone, this is an amazing story, and as part of the Black Dawn world, it's a keeper. Before I was done reading, I knew this book was destined for my all time favorites shelf.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Review: One Winter Knight anthology

One Winter Knight

April 2020
Sir Thomas and the Snow Troll by Lindsay Townsend
I just recently finished reading the 2nd book in the Knight and the Witch series by Lindsay Townsend and had fallen in love with Magnus and his Elfrida. When I mentioned my infatuation with the author and desire for more of their stories, I was delighted to discover that there was another story in the One Winter Knight anthology about Sir Thomas, Magnus' son. So I quickly found myself in the gorgeous heat of a spring day reading a winter story. TOTALLY worth it!

Shortly after his father dies, Thomas' mother confesses the truth of his paternity, and in a mix of rage and confusion, Thomas sets off to meet his biological father. Along the way, he runs into Ruth - almost literally - and discovers something even stronger to settle his tumultuous head and heart.

I adored Ruth's strength and attitude, and her willingness to grasp a hold of the goodness she found. I loved Thomas's logic and drive - his sense of honor and ability to quickly claim what he needs and wants out of his life - in all aspects of family.

I loved the concept of soul-father vs biological father and how Magnus welcomed his "prodigal son or not" home. Getting a little more time with Magnus and Elfrida and their gorgeous bond just made this little story all the more perfect for me. Still gotta say.... haha.... I want more!

Dec 2019
Arrow to the Heart by Deborah Macgillivray
I'm really enjoying these little tie-ins to the Dragons of Challon world. This time we two hurting people, both desperate to belong, both desperate to feel security. Fletcher struggled to accept the truth of his place in Coinnler Wood, mostly due to being stuck in his own head, and then fighting off one of his biggest desires: the Lady Geljon. Geljon knew she was safe and desperately sought after that comfort with Fletcher no matter how much he tried to erect barriers between them. She had her own bit of stubbornness and struggled with what was expected of her vs what her heart desired. Loved how it all played out with surprises and twists to give them their hearts' desire.

Dec 2017
My Forever Love by Cheryl Pierson
Logan and Noelle's story warmed me up on a cold winter's night! They were selected for each other in an arranged marriage that both initially faught against. But then after meeting, Logan fell in love with her, while Noelle wasn't aware of everything going on around her. Sweetness and excitement carry through to their happily ever after.

Nov 2018
To Play with Cats by Patti Sherry-Crews
Giggle and swoons!! I was needing something different to knock me out of a book funk and PSC's To Play with Cats story did the trick perfectly!

First, we have a sweet and adorable heroine who reminds me alot of me... Especially in her mobility skills. Lol

Then we have the big, strong, manly hero who needed some time to get his head straightened out (what good hero doesn't have some flaw... Lol), but who still could make me swoon.

Wrap them up snug in a castle with a little bit of drama and excitement and you have a sweet Christmas happily-ever-after for a knight and his lady love.

Banking on Temperance by Becky Lower

Banking on Temperance
Basil and Temperance have one of the most stubborn-filled claim-your-person-already stories I've read in a long time! So much so, there for a minute I was almost ready to start rootin' for the other man in Temperance's life. hahaha!

While stubbornness and determination can serve you well, such blind devotion can definitely cause heartache - which, of course since this is a romance story, we know the heartache will be overcome... eventually.

I adored Temperance's devotion to her family and how she remained true to herself. Watching her fall in love with Basil and work through those emotions was a sight to see.... even if I wanted to shake her sometimes. I appreciated how even though most of these feelings were new to her, she owned up pretty quickly that Basil was hers, even if she didn't know what to do with that knowledge. As the eldest child, Temperance was a strong leader in her family, however she had some growing up to do and lessons to learn.

Same for Basil - that man had some heart-wounds in his past to process, but then despite being a successful business owner and a leader in the community, he also had alot of growing up to do and needed his own wake up call (or two... or three.... or....). He needed someone like Temperance in his life who would make him work for and earn the good stuff, not just keep coasting on surface level deepness and having things handed to him without much effort. Some of the road-blocks for him, while I could understand it, it also hurt me to feel that pain for Temperance.

I loved the small side story we got with Temperance's mom (actually, I'd really like to read a book from her pov from when they first set out from PA and then what happened in St. Louis during this story) and getting to know Ginger (Basil's sister) and Joseph (from an earlier book in this series). Ginger was a hoot and I had to agree with her opinion of her brother on several occasions! lol

If you enjoy a slow burn with lots of heated attraction kinda story, this is a good one to pick up.

A Summer Bewitchment by Lindsay Townsend

A Summer Bewitchment
I utterly adore that we got another The Knight and the Witch story! Mangus and his Elfrida are some of my favorite characters in this time frame, and I'm pretty sure I love them more now than I did with their first book (and I really adored that one!).

One of my favorite tropes that seems to be a rare find for me (and well done), is when our hero and heroine are already married and for the most part, secure and solid. Sure, there'll be bumps and tumbles along the way, but when they're already bound to each other, the emotions and (healthy!) possessiveness (you're mine!) seems deeper, stronger, infinate. So getting to be with Mangus and Elfrida after they've been married a year-ish and seeing their bond, and how they face their struggles together was a delight.

The affection and desire between Mangus and Elfrida is still intensely burning bright, which is what helps to carry them through their next adventure saving seven girls. So not only are they united on a mission, but as a consequence from that same mission (and other things), some insecurities rise to grip each of them tightly, adding another layer to the story. I appreciated that we got to spend time in both their heads, hearing their thoughts, because even though they struggled with fully understanding and communicating their worries to each other, I as the reader knew exactly what those worries were and how each felt and responded and that made me empathize and ache with them all the more, and also rejoice when revelations broke free.

There was also quite the adventure in rescuing the girls, gifting readers with some unexpected surprises, interesting twists, and definitely several moments of nail-biting anxiety - oh and some eye rolls to with certain characters. haha!

I love how even though it's addressed and we know Mangus has his physical scars/wounds and Elfrida has her magic, we view one through the other's eyes so much that we forget all about that and just see them through love filled eyes. Definitely a testament to it's what's inside that shines brightly to make the entire package a breathtakingly beautiful package. They genuinely love each other and fulfill a need in the other so perfectly, that even when they are at odds, they still are together (and that's another kudos to the author!).

So that's alot of words to say, this is an amazing follow-up story to The Snow Bride, complete with all the heat and adventure and beauty you'd expect. And I really do hope that we get more of their story soon!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Night with a SEAL by Cat Johnson

Night with a SEAL
I had just finished listening to Romanced by a SEAL and figured out that that story was actually a conclusion to characters who got their start earlier in the series - and surprise surprise! I had their beginning, Night with a SEAL on my kindle already!

I enjoyed being able to go back and experience their connection spark to live and their NYE kiss, as well as seeing how G.A.P.S came to be. I think this story was made better for me just because I had already read the other book first.

Romanced by a SEAL by Cat Johnson

Romanced by a SEAL
Romanced by a SEAL is an emotionally charged story that makes you feel and takes you away to places that catch your breath.

I'm coming into the middle of the series, having only read book 2 about a year ago. I enjoyed landing in the middle of Jon and Ali's relationship and sorting out the feelings of "where do we go from here" with them.

I had to take a pause somewhere in the middle because I was connected so much to the characters and their emotions I was afraid of what was going to happen... and as much as I wanted to hurry through, I forced myself to live through the unknowns and worries and it made the story all that better for me.

I loved being in both Jon and Ali's heads, knowing what the other was thinking/experiencing and seeing them make their way to their hea. The twists and surprises along the way made the journey all the more worth it. I also liked the strong brotherhood and sisterhood shown - those kind of friendships are priceless!

I listened to this in audio and the narrator did a terrific job acting out the parts and keeping my attention.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Her Dominant SEAL by Caitlyn O'Leary

Her Dominant SEAL
I stinkin' LOVED this story! Drake, the overly bossy and overly protective man met his match in the sweet and sassy Karen. And they are absolute perfection for each other!

I loved getting to go back to Tennessee and dive into Drake's history, as much as it was a heartbreaking mess. But there was an equal amount of absolute beauty with the devotion and love shown between Drake and his six sisters. I think once you truly know more of Drake's past, you understand better and even crave more of his overbearing protectiveness and feel the safety that it provides. I adored how he simply connected with Karen and knew she was his from the first moment he laid eyes on her, and treated her that way from that point forward.

Karen's a kindergarden teacher with the perfect amount of sugar and spice that Drake needs in his life. Sweet and innocent but yet strong and capable, she needs Drake's kind of presence in her life and can give him the redemption and security he needs in return. I loved how strong and easy they were together.

Drake's sisters were a handful and I adored each of them - and I'm hoping that someday we get more of their stories! They deserve it after the way they grew up! But the overwhelming thing that sticks out for me is the intense bond they all had despite the distance and maybe even because of the family secrets. This makes me wish for an older brother... although I think I'm good with the sister I have! lol Not sure we need 4 more of us.

The bond of the friendship between Mason and Drake continues to stand out as a godsend for both of them. Throw in the other guys on the team and the brotherhood - having each other's backs and accepting who they are - still stays strong. And they still crack me up with their jokes.

I'm looking foward to Evie and Aiden's story next... talk about some sparks!

I love that I have yet another CO'L book to add to my favorites shelf - definitely not one to miss out on! And while this can be read as a stand alone, I gotta admit, reading the series through in order has made this world come alive around me, and that's a treasure.

Her Fierce SEAL by Caitlyn O'Leary

Her Fierce SEAL
Whoa! Every book in the Midnight Delta series just keeps getting better and deeper, wrapping me up tighter into their world. Yet again, I feel like I have another favorite story!

My heart shattered for Finn and the struggles he had to process and accept his actions and the results of their last mission. Experiencing his pain and flashbacks just drove the point home how finite the line is for some protectors and the situations they find themselves in to reconsile the good with the bad. I adored his compassion and his protective instincts, and how he fought through his struggles to be the man Angie needed at her side. I loved how he was determined not to let his PTSD rule his life, and to do what he needed to to work through things and start his journey to healing. I loved watching his brothers-in-arms surround him with the kind of care and attention he needed - they have such an amazing bond.

Angie is a delight with her attitude (hahah, pulling a gun on Finn the first time they meet!! I'm still cracking up over that!), her heart, and her strength. She has a soft core that needs care, but she's also put together enough that she's able to dig deep and be the partner and support Finn needs in his life at this moment. I can't wait to see how these two finish sorting some things out as the series progresses.

I also loved getting to see/meet Declan! I've already read his story, but I can see how Declan's book is connected to this and I loved this little peak at his pre-story. Even though I recently reread Declan's book, now I'm wanting to visit it all over again!

If you love getting a bite of reality along with a treasured HEA in a military romance story, you want not only this book, but the entire Midnight Delta series (and the accomopaning spin-off series/stories). Caitlyn O'Leary is right up there as my favorite military romance author along with Cristin Harber, Natasza Waters, and Kaylea Cross. I adore this world she's given us and I cannot wait to see what's next!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

A SEAL's Vigilant Heart by Caitlyn O'Leary

A SEAL's Vigilant Heart

I adored getting to spend some more time with Mason and Sophia!!

So much was packed into this novella - missions, family time, wedding excitement - and nothing felt jipped. Mason and Sophia still are one of my favorite CO'L couples and getting to see their love and devotion to each other still growing and surviving whatever hurdles they faced.

I giggled like crazy with Drake being the ladies' chauffeur and protector at the bachelorette party, and loved the guys having Mason's back at his. And I still can connect so well with Sophia's unique mix of fragile strength.

Her Daring SEAL by Caitlyn O'Leary

Her Daring SEAL

Intense, heartbreaking, and oh so gratifying, Dare and Rylie's story dishes out all the emotions.

I love Rylie's heart and drive, as much as what made her be that way is crushing. I love her strength mixed with vulnerability, her conviction mixed with compassion, and the way she pours her all into something, even though sometimes, she drains herself too dry. But that's where Dare comes in.

Dare embodied humanity, gentleness, prowess, and determination. Everything that made up him and drove him was perfectly developed to be exactly who and what Rylie needed in her life. He protected her and gave her the encouragement and freedom to be everything she needed to be. Loved watching his pursuit of Rylie, and refusing to give up, no matter the road blocks she threw at him.

This story develed into the world of human trafficing, which is soul crushing - and PTL for the folks who risk it all to swoop in and rescue the victims, and then the others who step in to help them heal from the horrific wounds, inside and out.

If you're looking for a story that gives more than a beautiful hea, but also makes you raw and consider (and hopefully moved to help in some fashion) some of the horrific realities in this world today.... this is a book to pick up.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Hot as Hell by Julie Ann Walker

Hot as Hell
Quick and hot

Good things come in little packages. Loved this first little intro story to the series. We got a taste of shoot-em-up action with a yummy burn-the-building-down scene, and all the hea goodness and feels you'd need to connect to the characters. I'm looking forward to the next books.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Billionaire for Hire by Cat Johnson

Billionaire for Hire
hilarious rom-com spy-games story

I'm listening to the audio (the narrator alone does an excellent job acting out the story and I'm lovin' it!) and only at chapter 6, but I'm hooked into the story already - giggling, intrigued, Zane!, being in Brent's head, the anticipation of what's coming next - and I can't wait to see where we go next!

I grabbed this audio book because the blurb and these two comments captured my attention:
"A fun and often humorous spy novel. Scratch that. It’s a romance with tongue-in-cheek spy elements...hilarious." Madison
"a James Bondy Rom-Com... I would LOVE to see this on TV one day!" BJ's Book Blog

I was wanting something a bit more light-hearted rom-com than what I usually go for, and this seemed to fit the bill. And it totally delivered!

And now that I finished.... I giggled through so much of the story that that fact alone made this a great read (listen). Getting to see a spec ops mission from a non-spec ops point of view was hilarious! There were some sweet moments mixed in with some rollercoaster emotion rides (I mean, being a billionaire dude doesn't leave you exempt from a bit of heartbreak and worries, ya know), and charm with a whole lot of laughs - whether intentional or not.

This is a great story! So glad I found it and got a day full of giggles listening to it (along with a clean house! lol)

Found in the Lost by Tarina Deaton

Found in the Lost I inhaled this story! Then had to go back and start all over and get all the goodness again. Loved Shane and Kinley's meeting and how things just connected and fit together between them. The sparks burned off the pages, and their adventure and the way they supported and cared for the other quickly became a adventure I didn't want to have end! This has the feel of one of those awesome summertime adventure escapes we crave every year. So much was jammed packed in a few pages and I didn't feel anything was left lacking.

Shielding Gillian by Susan Stoker

Shielding Gillian
Shielding Gillian became one of my favorite Susan Stoker stories.

I loved the maturity and grace and class Gillian embodied. Along with confidence, caring, gentleness. I connected quickly with her and felt wrapped up in her while living out the story.

I adored Walker's protectiveness, strength, wisdom, respect, understanding, compassion. He almost seemed too good to be true at times, but that's what made him all the better! And his always holding Gilly's face in his hands - loved that intimacy.

I always enjoy a book where most of the drama comes from outside sources and once the couple get together (the earlier the better, imo) on the same page, it's them against the world. Yeah they may need to learn each other and have little road bumps, but the bigger drama that moves the story is from outside the couple, and that's what's given to us here.

I was also tickled that for once, I was right in guessing who the bad-guy was and loved watching how my sleuthing was proven correct! lol

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Avenged by Kaylea Cross

Avenged was unbelievably amazing!!

I loved Nathan and Taya! Both individually and together as a couple - from their history to where they're at presently in the story is a crazy beautiful and heartbreaking journey. The bond Nathan and Taya had naturally, how their relationship came full circle, how they both gave what the other needed so preciously and willingly, how there wasn't a "magic cure" with their struggles at the end but still growth and healing in their futures, but now doing that together instead of apart.... I stinkin' loved it all!!

Taya had a sense of grace and emotional maturity that served her well as well as bravery in being vulnerable - and all that flowed right over to Nate. Nate had a deeper drive and need in him that kept him going and gave him the foundation to build on to take that grace and love from Taya. He was a protector and that gave Taya the safe spot she needed to land.

There were some things in that I could translate into my personal life and it hit something deep in a good way. I love it when stories touch me that way - such blessing in those connections and nuggets of goodness.

I also gotta mention that Kaylea Cross does such a terrific job giving the villain a sense of humanity. Although they're still the villain and need their comeuppance, you have a unique set of feelings for them. Lol

I'm so glad I got back to the HRT series and I'm looking forward to enjoying the rest of the series!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon

Where the Lost Wander
I love Oregon Trail stories, and this is a terrific addition to the ones I've read and enjoyed. There's depth and emotions and reality mixed in with a love story.

I kinda struggled some with the rhythm/telling of the story - like it took me longer to settle into their point of views and connect to the characters. But the overall story itself was good, and knowing it was based on family history made up for that little struggle I had. And then when I finally got hooked, I was in!

This was my first Amy Harmon book, and I'd be interested in checking out her other stories.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

SEALED with a Kiss by Caitlyn O'Leary

SEALED with a Kiss
Adorable and charming novella, we get to catch up with all the team mates on the Midnight Delta team and see adorable Billy start growing up and developing into the man he's going to become. Loved it!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Innocent Minds by C.A. Asbrey

Innocent Minds
I'm going to preface this with a warning: I'm an empathetic reader. And when I find myself connected to a story and invested in characters as I have with Abi, Nat, and Jake, I have a challenge on my hands to process all my emotions I feel with the story along with all the characters' emotions.

So when I tell you I had to (ahem) gently and purposely put my kindle down and walk away from this story for a bit, you know something dug deep. It's a mark of a skilled author to not only deliver those responses, but make it so as soon as I sorted through the myriad of emotions, I was ready and even a bit anxious (both with anticipation and trepidation) to see what happened next.

That being said, with this 5th installment of The Innocents series, we're treated to a journey of restoring family and healing which soothed some hurts, along with a new mystery that not only gave me ghostbumps several times, but threw some curve balls that I never picked up on. There's also another twist in here that once you get over the shock of it, it actually makes the story all the better. But you really gotta take a breather there too and logic it out, if you're like me.

Innocent Minds delivers a story filled with passion, vengeance, and healing. The mystery feels a bit low-key compared to the other stories, but I believe that's due to the depth of the emotional journey the characters face at this time in their lives and how it all fits together. The whodonit is still just as twisted and intricate as I've come to expect.

As always, when I come to the end of a new Innocents book, the anticipation for the next book is strong! One more to go, and I know the journey will be worth it all.