Guest Post by Author Isabo Kelly on What Having Kids Taught Me About Writing + Giveaway

Today I’d like to welcome Isabo Kelly, who recently published The Darkness of Glengowyn (reviewed by me and E. at The Book Pushers), and the equally awesome first book in the series, Brightarrow Burning, reviewed here. She’s here to talk about…

What Having Kids Taught Me About Writing
by Isabo Kelly

The Darkness of Glengowyn Button 300 x 225

Thanks for having me here today!

Rather than a straight up “about my book” post, I thought I’d start the tour with a little more personal post. I’m just going to say up front, though, this has nothing to do with airy fairy feelings. LOL. Yes, yes, I learned about a whole new kind of love when I had kids, but the only way that’s affected my writing is that there are now certain topics I have a much harder time dealing with (anything that has a kid in jeopardy is really really hard for me to tackle; and because my oldest is on the Autism spectrum, I’m really sensitive about kids with special needs topics).

brightarrow burning by isabo kellyNo, what having kids really taught me about writing is time management skills—and how sorely I lack said skills.

I’ve learned I had a whole lot more free time before I had kids. Granted it was infinitely less flexible because of the day job, but there was definitely more time in my life. I just squandered it on things like sleep and showers that last longer than five minutes.

I’ve learned I can do a LOT in a very short amount of time. If all I have is an hour during naptime, or worse 15 minutes during naptime because neither of my boys are good sleepers, I can write actual books during those short spurts of creativity.

I’ve learned not to bother waiting on anything as ephemeral as my muse. She can catch up with me whenever she decides to show up. In the meantime, I have books to write.

I’ve learned I actually do need the occasional block of quiet time to edit, and sometimes, with kids, the only thing I don’t have is quiet. This is when I tell my husband I’m hiding in the bedroom with the door locked for a few hours.

I’ve learned I don’t need that much quiet to write the first draft. My imagination spills out onto the page even in the midst of chaos and mayhem. This is kind of a relief, to be honest. If I can write amid the uproar of my young boys charging around the place, I can write anywhere, anytime.

I’ve learned I can’t live without lists. Having kids did a number on my memory so I need lists or I will forget everything I need to do—including wash my hair (seriously, I can forget I need to do this if it’s not on my list!)

darkness of glengowyn by isabo kellyI am still trying to learn not to fret and worry about the work I’m not getting done in those periods of time when I can’t work because I’m being mommy. This is one of those life lessons I really want to figure out because when I’m playing with my kids I want to be present, not stressing my work load. This is an ongoing learning curve, though.

I’ve learned I can write sex scenes even if my kids are in the room. I just don’t let them see the screen.

But I’ve also learned, I enjoy writing those scenes more when my kids are asleep.

Finally, I’ve learned I still have a lot to learn about organizing my time and my writing around my family life. I’m not very good at it yet, but I try. And in the meantime, I manage to hug and kiss my kids a lot and still write lots of fiction. Overall, I call that a win.

So, anyone have any good hints or suggestions for time management? I’m always looking!

Isabo KellyAbout Isabo Kelly

Isabo Kelly is the award-winning author of numerous fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal romances. Her life has taken her from Las Vegas to Hawaii, where she got her BA in Zoology, back to Vegas where she looked after sharks, then on to Germany and Ireland where she got her Ph.D. in Animal Behavior.Now Isabo focuses on writing. She lives in New York with her Irish husband, two beautiful boys, and funny dog. She works as a full time author and stay-at-home mom.

For more on Isabo and her books, visit her website, follow her on Twitter @IsaboKelly, friend her on Facebook, or follow her on Goodreads.


Isabo is giving away three ebook copies of the first book in the Fire and Tears series, Brightarrow Burning, and a $40 gift certificate to winner’s choice of B&N or Amazon! For a chance to win, please use the Rafflecopter below.

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Bewitching Book Tours

Guest Post by Author Marcella Burnard + Giveaway

nightmare ink by marcella burnardMy special guest today is Marcella Burnard, the author of Nightmare Ink. I participated in a massive group review of Nightmare Ink over at The Book Pushers a couple of weeks ago. I loved the animal heroes in Nightmare Ink, especially the warrior-princess Ikylla, so I’m very glad to find out that she’s modeled after a real queen among cats!

Meet the Critters
by Marcella Burnard

Have you ever heard the advice to writers to never put anyone they know into a book? At least, not so they could be recognized? The point is to not get sued. I broke the rule. But at least if I’m sued, I’ll be able to pay my punishment out in kibble.

RileyIn NIGHTMARE INK, the heroine, Isa, has a dog and a cat. The dog, Augustus is a forty pound red heeler. He’s unique in that he’s a tripod – he’s lost one of his back legs. You never find out in the book that Gus was a rescue dog who’d had his leg badly broken and then amputated while he was still a puppy. But that is what happened. In real life. Gus exists. Except his name is Riley. He belongs to Emily Olesin and Alden Denny. Isn’t that a handsome smile? Never fear. Being a tripod hasn’t slowed Riley down much. He lived across the dock from me until he and his family moved to Norway. (Sniffle) You’ll find Riley, Emily, and Alden mentioned in the acknowledgements at the front of NIGHTMARE INK because I asked for permission to put Riley in the book before I actually did.

I tried to keep Gus’s personality a reasonably close match to Riley’s. They’re both super friendly, loving goof-balls with a willful streak. Gus is probably too sedate in the book. Red heelers want jobs. They’re too smart for anyone’s good and don’t take being left alone for long periods at all well. Enter Isa’s friend Nathalie who pet sits like I’d occasionally get to pet sit for Riley. Fortunately, I didn’t have to pet sit Riley for the same reasons Nathalie ends up having to pet sit Gus.

HatshepsutIsa’s feline companion has a real life analog, too. Her name is Hatshepsut. She owns me. She’s very clear which way that possession thing goes, rather like Isa’s cat, Ikylla. Granted, in the book Ikylla is a long haired rather than a short haired cat. But the attitude is 100% the same. One must greet the feline upon coming home. One must request permission before touching said feline. When protocol is followed, the reward is a purr bigger than the cat herself. Ignore the niceties and you end up with a cat wrinkling her nose in disgust, turning and stalking away, her tail twitching in irritation.

If you’ve read NIGHTMARE INK, or if you’re about to, there is a scene I can’t spoil – but Ikylla goes hunting. In case you’re wondering, yes, Hatshepsut is a fearsome hunter. In her own mind. Spiders are her preferred prey. When we lived in a house, she’d go to the garage to hunt and bring back HUGE European Brown House Spiders. Harmless. But did I mention BIG? These things are large enough that when my dear, sweet feline brought one inside and dropped it on my sleeping bag for me to play with, I woke up because I could hear it crawling up the nylon. Never got out of bed so fast in all my life.

Which critters of your acquaintance deserve to be immortalized in a story?

Marcella BurnardAbout the Author:
Marcella Burnard graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a degree in acting. She writes science fiction romance for Berkley Sensation.

Her first book, Enemy Within won the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award for Best Futuristic of 2010. The second book in the series, Enemy Games, released on May 3, 2011.

An erotica novella, Enemy Mine, set in the same world as the novels was released as an e-special edition by Berkley was released in April 2012. Emissary, a sword and sorcery short story released in the two volume Thunder on the Battlefield Anthology in the second half of 2013.


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Marcella is giving away 5 ecopies of Nightmare Ink to lucky commenters on her tour!

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Review: Good Together by C J Carmichael + Giveaway

good together by cj carmichaelFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook
Genre: contemporary romance, western romance
Series: Carrigans of the Circle C
Length: 239 pages
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Date Released: February 3, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon

Mattie’s twin daughters have flown the nest, and she and her husband feel like strangers. The life she’s known is starting to fall apart. She can’t even count on her gorgeous neighbour, Nathaniel Diamond, any more. Nat was always there for her before, but now he’s suddenly started avoiding her. Is there something that he needs to tell her?

My Review:

I absolutely read Good Together in one sitting. I couldn’t put the story down, because I had to find out what was going to happen next. Although I could guess where the story was going to end up, I empathized with Mattie’s journey, even when I wanted to shake her about how she got into some of her pickle.

Good Together isn’t so much a romance as it is women’s fiction. The real meat of the story is in Mattie finding out that her newly empty nest is only the beginning of the number of ways she needs to re-invent herself.

Mattie always thought that when her twins went to college, she and her husband would have more time together. As much as she hated the thought of her girls leaving home, she was the one who encouraged them to explore new worlds. It was time for them to leave the nest and spread their wings.

But Mattie believed that the nest would always be there whenever they came home. Instead, almost the minute Mattie leaves her daughters at the airport, she discovers that her husband is leaving her for another woman. That’s not all, he’s selling everything–the ranch, the horses, the house. And he can do it, too. It’s his family’s place, and Mattie never got her name on anything.

It turns out that Mattie loved the place a LOT more than her husband did. He wastes absolutely no time in selling her beloved horses, and putting the ranch on the market.

Mattie doesn’t merely withdraw, she downright collapses. It takes her a while to pick herself, and even longer to “lawyer up”. She gets a lot of excellent help from Nat Diamond, her nearest neighbor. Once upon a time, he was in close to the same bad place that Mattie is now; he knows how she feels.

But Mattie doesn’t have a clue about the way that Nat feels about her. And has always felt. He tries to keep his feelings under wraps, because Mattie needs a friend, and he doesn’t want to be merely a rebound.

Just when Mattie is ready to think about forever with someone other than her ex, Nat decides that he no longer has a forever to give. It’s up to Mattie to change his mind.

Escape Rating B+: Although the side-characters are terrific, Good Together is Mattie’s story. The title is just a bit ironic, because Mattie first has to figure out how to be “good alone” before she’s ready to be “good together” with anyone else.

Promise Me, Cowboy by CJ CarmichaelWe’ve met Mattie’s family before, not her kids so much as her birth family. Mattie is the sister of Sage Carrigan, the heroine of the lovely Promise Me, Cowboy (reviewed here). Sage’s happily ever after was also a second-chance at love story. It seems like the Carrigan girls need a couple of tries to get it right.

The way that Mattie left herself legally unprotected after her ex leaves broke the willing suspension of disbelief for me a bit. I could understand (barely, I admit) why she hadn’t gotten her name on everything back when they first married, but after he left and started selling their stuff, not so much. Even as devastated as she was, that lack of self-preservation seemed more 20th century than 21st.

Although Nat is incredibly helpful, even at the beginning, it’s the women in this story that stand out. Seeing the girls becoming women who are strong and can help their mother find her strength again was awesome. Even better, the way that the Carrigan sisters pull together and support each other was the heart of the story for me. I’m looking forward to seeing how the other two sisters reach their happily ever after.


CJ and Tule Publishing are giving away an ebook copy of Good Together. To enter the giveaway, just fill out the rafflecopter below. If you want another chance at a copy, there is a book blast going on right now at Goddess Fish.
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***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Guest Post by Nico Rosso on Concerts and Memories + Giveaway

slam dance with the devil by nico rossoToday is the release day for Nico Rosso’s latest venture into the world of demonic rock and roll. So I was thrilled when he asked me to host him today, and of course I have a review of the fantastic Slam Dance with the Devil here

They say (well actually Bob Seger said) that rock and roll never forgets. Maybe there is something otherworldly about that driving rhythm? Certainly once we’re hooked, we never forget it.

And now, let’s hear it from Nico…

Big thanks to Marlene for having me!

Heavy Metal Heart by Nico RossoWhen I was on Reading Reality for the release of the first Demon Rock book we talked about our most memorable concert experiences.

The second book, Slam Dance with the Devil, is out now and I’d like to broaden our horizons. Instead of thinking of a concert you’ve been to, what about picking any concert in history to attend?

I’ll admit that there’s one show in this latest book that I was really wishing I could go to while I was writing it. The hero, wild rocker Kent Gaol, and his band are playing an old venue in Chicago, complete with gilded walls and a chandelier. Of course they rock hard, but they’re all such accomplished musicians (being near-immortal demons who’ve been alive for thousands of years feeding off the energy of the crowd helps) they mix in classical music with the metal. The heroine, tough investigator Nona Harris, is lucky enough to see the show, though her journey with Kent isn’t all glamour. It’s a long, tough road she goes down, tracking Kent while falling into his paranormal world.

Besides this fictional concert, if I could pick one show to go to, I think I’d hit up one of the gigs The Doors played on the Sunset Strip in the ’60s. All that creative energy in a small venue would’ve been a hell of a thing to see.

What about you? What concert would you go to? It could be anything from Woodstock to Bach to Beck. Let me know in the comments and one random person will be selected to win a PDF of Slam Dance with the Devil.

Thanks for stopping by!

You can find Slam Dance with the Devil here:

Amazon Kindle
Barnes & Noble Nook
Google Play Books
Carina Press
All Romance eBooks

Rosso_Portrait_12V2-255x300If you want to keep the conversation going, I can be found here:


Nico is giving away a PDF copy of Slam Dance with the Devil. To enter the giveaway, fill out the rafflecopter, starting with Nico’s question, “If you could pick a concert to go to, past or present, what would it be?”

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Review: Late Last Night by Lilian Darcy + Giveaway

late last night by lilian darcyFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Contemporary romance, Western romance
Series: River Bend #0.5
Length: 112 pages
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Date Released: January 9, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon

It’s May 1996 and Marietta High School English teacher Kate MacCreadie is almost at the end of her rope, torn between the demands of her work and her heavy involvement in helping her younger brother Rob and his wife Melinda take care of their five young children on the MacCreadie family ranch.

When Marietta’s fine-looking new sheriff, Harrison Pearce, pulls Kate over for her third traffic violation in as many months, they both know it’s a sign that something has to give.

Kate finds it almost a relief to be told by this calm, strong man to get her life in order, and then she just keeps on seeing him – at school after there’s been a suspicious break-in, on the evening of the prom when he’s off duty and driving his nephew and friends to the event in one of his brother’s gorgeous vintage cars.

Late that night, after prom is over, a tragedy at River Bend Park brings Kate and Harrison together yet again, and this time, in the highly charged atmosphere, Kate discovers that she never wants to let him go. But with his divorce still fresh, is Harrison ready for someone new?

My Review:

Late Last Night is the short romantic tale that links the more western-themed Copper Mountain Rodeo series to the author’s new River Bend series. Based on this intro, the River Bend series starts out with more of a small-town romance flavor.

Both series take place in and around Marietta, Montana, which always seems like a town that would be terrific to visit. And while it is not necessary to have read the Copper Mountain Rodeo books to enjoy Late Last Night, the series is great if you enjoy western-themed romance.

This story takes place in 1996, so it’s a bit of a trip back in time for some of the characters that we’ve met in the other series.

Kate MacCreadie is trying to both help her brother take care of his five kids and keep up her full-time job at Marietta High School. It’s not that her brother Rob isn’t willing or able to take care of his kids, or that there isn’t a Mrs. MacCreadie, because he is, and there is.

rodeo sweethearts by lilian darcyBut Rob is running the family ranch, and Melinda MacCreadie is something beyond scatterbrained. (Their complete story is revealed in Rodeo Sweethearts). But in 1996, Kate doesn’t know why Melinda isn’t any help, all Kate knows is that as long as she continues to be nearly a full-time caregiver at her brother’s house AND have a full-time job, she’s going to either start hating someone, or she’s going to kill somebody.

Literally kill somebody, because the new sheriff keeps having to pull her over for a series of driving offenses. Kate speeds. And she misses stop signs. And her taillight is out. Mostly she just drives too fast because she’s in too much of a hurry and not paying attention.

She also likes running into Sheriff Harrison Pierce, she just wishes it wasn’t quite so embarrassing for her when it keeps happening in his line of duty. Kate isn’t aware that Harrison keeps pulling her over because he isn’t quite in a position to ask her out.

Not until his divorce is final.

Harrison tells Kate that she needs to get her life in order before someone dies as a result of her racing thoughts. When he figures out that he’s giving Kate advice he needs to take himself, the steps they each take to move forward with their lives lead them straight to each other.

Escape Rating B+: Late Last Night has a lot going for it. The love story has just the right amount of sexual tension, and it makes sense that the characters are cautious in the circumstances. Unlike a lot of very short novellas, this one is just the right length, it starts at a turning point for Kate, and comes to an ending that feels right for the characters without feeling rushed. Finally, although this story is a setup for the River Bend series, the need to get things setup doesn’t overwhelm the story that needs to be told in this book.

love me cowboy copper mountain rodeoWhile it isn’t necessary to have read the entire Copper Mountain Rodeo series (Tempt Me, Cowboy, Marry Me, Cowboy, Promise Me, Cowboy and Take Me, Cowboy), if you like western romances you’ll enjoy them a lot. I definitely did. But reading Rodeo Sweethearts absolutely helps flesh out Kate’s background, and it’s short, sweet and free.

In Late Last Night, we find out more about how Kate feels than we do about Harrison, at least partly because she’s in the bigger pickle at the beginning. She wants to help her brother, but she needs to have a life. And Rob desperately needs the help, so Kate leaving is going to cause a lot of disruption.

Harrison, on the other hand, his divorce has been coming for a long time. And he recognizes his part in what went wrong. It feels like he’s closer to who he needs to be from the beginning, but it takes quite a leap of faith for him to put his heart on the line. Again.

The ending of the story is tragic, suspenseful and sets up the River Bend series. There’s something seriously wrong in Marietta, and I want to see if Harrison is part of solving it.


Lilian and Tule Publishing are giving away an ebook copy of Late Last Night to one lucky winner! To enter the giveaway, just fill out the rafflecopter. This giveaway is open to all!

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***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 1-19-14

Sunday Post

We live in Seattle…and the Seahawks are in the NFC Championship game this afternoon. I had this brilliant idea to watch the football game today, but there’s a funny stumbling block.

Seattle Seahawks logoWe don’t have cable. We don’t watch enough TV while it’s being broadcast to justify it. We stream everything, but next day or later. I think we use the Amazon Prime subscription mostly for the cheaper streaming.

Galen is still trying to figure out whether we can watch the game live without paying for the view. So to speak. So maybe we’ll watch the game. Or maybe I’ll just read!

Current Giveaways:

Steal Me, Cowboy by Kim Boykin; ebook copy
Tourwide Giveaway: $50 Gift Card from winner’s choice of etailer and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers gift basket from Crista McHugh
Tourwide Giveaway: $50 Gift Card or Spectra Nova necklace, winner’s choice courtesy of Cindy Spencer Pape

After the Golden Age by Carrie VaughnBlog Recap:

B Review: Steal Me, Cowboy by Kim Boykin + Giveaway
B+ Review: Ashes & Alchemy by Cindy Spencer Pape
Guest Post by Author Cindy Spencer Pape on Escapist Fiction + Giveaway
B Review: The Sweetest Seduction by Crista McHugh + Giveaway
B+ Review: Gossamer Wing by Delphine Dryden
A+ Review: After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn
Stacking the Shelves (74)

forward to camelot by susan sloateComing Next Week:

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone (review)
Forward to Camelot by Susan Sloate with Kevin Finn (blog tour review)
Late Last Night by Lilian Darcy (blog tour review + giveaway)
Deeper by Robin York (review)
Chenoire by Susannah Sandlin (blog tour review + giveaway)

Review: The Sweetest Thing by Cathy Woodman + Giveaway

The Sweetest Thing by Cathy WoodmanFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: paperback, ebook, large print, audiobook
Genre: contemporary romance, women’s fiction
Series: Talyton St. George #3
Length: 400 pages
Publisher: Cornerstone (Random House UK)
Date Released: April 28, 2011
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, iBookstore

If only everything in life was as simple as baking a cake…Jennie Copeland thought she knew the recipe for a happy life: marriage to her university sweetheart, a nice house in the suburbs and three beautiful children. But when her husband leaves her, she is forced to find a different recipe. And she thinks she’s found just what she needs: a ramshackle house on the outskirts of the beautiful Talyton St George, a new cake-baking business, a dog, a horse, chickens…But life in the country is not quite as idyllic as she’d hoped, and Jennie can’t help wondering whether neighbouring farmer Guy Barnes was right when he told her she wouldn’t last the year. Or perhaps the problem is that she’s missing one vital ingredient to make her new life a success. Could Guy be the person to provide it?

My Review:

There’s just something about this book that draws you right in. Or at least it did me. I was hooked on Jennie’s story from the very first page.

This isn’t a story of high drama or rich billionaires, it’s a quiet story about people taking the courage to pick up their dreams and start over. Everyone in this tale is starting over and finding a new path in life; all the kids and all the adults.

That turns out to include Jennie Copeland’s ex-husband David, who spends most of this story in the throes of what looks a selfish midlife crisis.

You could say it’s Jennie’s and David’s divorce that starts this story. But really, it’s Jennie’s dream of being independent, combined with rose-tinted memories of childhood holidays in Devon that lead to her purchase of Uphill House.

“Uphill” is the right name for the place, because the road to Jennie’s happiness is definitely going to be an uphill climb.

The house is definitely a “fixer-upper”. Jennie needs to economize, because her settlement will only go but so far. Living in the country will be much cheaper than living in London, or so she hopes.

But it will also be away from the support network that she has come to rely on, and far from the routine that her three children are used to. Adam, Sophie and Georgia feel uprooted and lost. It may be Jennie’s dream to start a cake baking business in the country, but it isn’t theirs.

So Jennie comes to Talyton St. George to start over. It takes a lot of guts and a huge amount of determination. Jennie seems to have a pair of rose-colored glasses firmly fixed in place; no one seems to think she has a real chance, not her new neighbors in the country, not her old friends in the city, not her kids, and certainly not her ex. But then, that was part of the point of the thing at the beginning.

But never the entire point. This is really about Jennie’s ability to persevere no matter how many roadblocks she faces, or how many times she discovers that her rosy vision doesn’t match the reality.

Rooting for Jennie to not just succeed, but to also get her happy ending, makes Jennie’s story a very sweet read.

Escape Rating B+: The Talyton St. George series is mostly about the veterinarians in the small Devon community, but in The Sweetest Thing, the vets only showed up to treat the various animals that Jennie and her children acquired along the way to adapting to their new life.

Which made this book a perfect way to get into the series without having read any of the other books, no prior knowledge was required.

In The Sweetest Thing, we have the story of a 40-ish newly divorced woman starting over with three kids; a resentful teenaged boy, and two girls, one a pre-teen and the other in elementary school. Adam, Georgia and Sophie.

The breakup is still painful for everyone, and they are all still acting out to some extent, including Jennie. Moving from London to the Devon countryside if you are London born-and-bred definitely counts as acting-out.

The divorce was over the husband’s repeated infidelity, except this time he wants to marry his inamorata. Jennie was a stay-at-home mother, so starting a new life in London would have been expensive. She has the vision and the talent to start a baking business on a shoestring, but practicality, not so much.

We see her grow from all of her trial and error, in every possible direction. But we also see that as she becomes more absorbed in making a go of her new business, there is less time for her to listen to her kids’ need to make the adjustment. The girls have an easier time of it, not just because they are younger, but because they find activities in the country that work for them.

Adam is cut off from his old friends and resentful. At sixteen, he’s also just being a teenager, but he is definitely lost in this new place.

Adam withers while Jennie blossoms with all her new challenges. Even while she finds herself frustrated and scared and exhausted.

Watching the family navigate their surprising journey is fun and absorbing. There is also a love story, but Jennie finding love is the icing on the cake for her, rather than the whole cake. Love is wonderful, but not the solution to her problems or a rescue from her difficulties.

It’s also sweet that the new love of Jennie’s life needs her to sweep the cobwebs out of his life every bit as much as she needs his help with some of the unexpected challenges in hers.

This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.


Country Loving by Cathy WoodmanCathy is giving away the winner’s choice of a copy of either The Sweetest Thing or Country Loving by Cathy (check out other stops on the tour for reviews of Country Loving). To enter, use the Rafflecopter below:
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***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Christmas at Copper Mountain by Jane Porter + Giveaway

christmas at copper mountain by jane porterFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Holiday Romance; Western Romance
Series: Copper Mountain Christmas
Length: 119 pages
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Date Released: November 29, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon

Since the loss of her family in a plane crash, Harley Diekerhoff has led a quiet life and keeps to herself. Taking the temporary job at the Copper Mountain Ranch as widower Brock Sheenan’s housekeeper seems perfect for her. But her calm cocoon is invaded with the arrival of Brock’s pre-teen twins, Mack and Molly who’ve never experienced a proper Christmas and before she knows it, Harley’s determined to make their holiday perfect.

Annoyed at first by Harley’s interference, Brock is secretly pleased she’s changed Mack and Molly’s world. It doesn’t hurt that he finds Harley incredibly attractive, fierce, smart and passionate. It’s also an added bonus that she’s not afraid to challenge him and get his blood heated! But when sparks fly and the attractions sizzles between them, Harley’s not so sure she can handle something permanent with this dark, taciturn cowboy who doesn’t know how to let her in. But Brock is determined to hold on to her and praying for a Christmas miracle…

My Review:

Christmas at Copper Mountain would make the perfect Hallmark Holiday Special. It has just that perfect blend of heartwarming family togetherness and holiday miracle sparkle, with a sweet love story as the star on top of the tree.

There’s even a “Grinch” in this holiday tale. Certainly Brock Shennan has lost track of the meaning of Christmas in the decade since his young wife died and left him with 6 month old twins to raise alone. Now Mack and Molly are 11 and while he loves them unconditionally and puts them first in his life, it’s become a hard, cold life without a lot of fun, spontaneity or open affection.

The children see a lot more chores from their dad than they do hugs.

As far as holiday decorations go, well, Brock says they aren’t worth the bother or the expense. (If you are hearing the echo of “Bah, humbug”, it’s intended.) Brock isn’t quite that bad, but the kids are 11. They need a little joy in their lives.

Brock is not a bad father. He’s strict but generally fair. The problem is that he’s walled off all of his emotions, and left the kids on the other side of that wall. They don’t remember their mother, she died when they were infants. Their father treats them like little adults, but they are still kids.

Mack and Molly are looking for someone to let them be kids. They’re looking for someone to love them. They need someone to lighten their father’s heart. And they need someone to care about what they think about how they feel enough to ask them instead of thinking for them. Yes, they are still kids, but at 11, they are definitely starting to have hopes and dreams and feelings that should at least get a listen.

Into all of this walks Harley Deikerhoff. The job of temporary cook and housekeeper at the Copper Mountain Ranch is supposed to be very temporary. Harley was only supposed to be in Marietta, Montana for six weeks, just long enough for the regular cook/housekeeper to get some time off, and for Harley to get away from her well-meaning but smothering family.

The job was supposed to be housekeeping for the owner of the ranch and cooking for the men in the bunkhouse. Nothing was said about children. If she’d been informed about the children, she wouldn’t have taken the job.

The children arrived in the middle of the night two weeks into the job, after they ran away from boarding school in New York and brought themselves home. It was a crazy thing to do. Crazy for them, crazy for Harley, and crazy for Brock.

Because the kids upset all the boundaries. Mack and Molly’s presence forced Harley to deal with why she didn’t want to be around kids at the holidays; something she had been avoiding for three long and painful years.

Watching Brock deal (and sometimes not deal) with his children made Harley step over the line between employee and employer and start telling Brock what she thought his children needed from him, whether he wanted to hear it or not.

And the more they argued about Mack and Molly, the more that Brock and Harley came to see that what they were really talking around was how they might feel about each other; if they gave it a chance.

Escape Rating B: This story contains lots of relationships that get their happy ever after for this Christmas; Mack and Molly and Brock, Mack and Molly and Harley, Brock and Harley, and possibly even Brock and Harley and the universe.

This one ties every possible broken heart back together with a big Christmas bow and sprinkles tinsel on it. Possibly with heavenly intervention (your mileage may vary on that last bit).

Still, this story has a sleigh full of holiday spirit. The best part of the story for me was the development of the relationship between Harley and Mack and Molly. She really does fall in love with the kids first, and the blossoming of that relationship is the one that opens her heart to the possibility that she might be ready to love again.

I wish she hadn’t lectured Brock on being a “friend” to his kids. He can be their parent and still have fun with them, and does he ever need to figure that one out! They can have a trusting and loving relationship while he is their parent. (I’m saying this because I just finished a book where part of the problem was a dad who wanted to be his daughters’ friend and completely forgot about being their parent). I may have a book hangover about this one.

The romantic angle of this story got a bit shorted in the overall holiday tale. It was mostly sweet with a bit of heat, but the majority of the story felt like it was about Harley waking up from her stupor and putting more life into the Copper Mountain Ranch as well as falling for the family.

Falling for Brock (and him finally admitting that he had fallen for her) felt like the icing on the cake!


Jane is giving away an ebook copy of Christmas at Copper Mountain to one lucky commenter. To enter, use the Rafflecopter below.

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***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Guest Post by Author Jeanette Grey on New Year’s Resolutions + Giveaway

Take What You Want by Jeanette GreyToday I’d like to welcome one of my very favorite authors, Jeanette Grey. Jeanette is not just the author of today’s book, When It’s Right (reviewed here), but also one of the books on my Best Ebook Romances of the Year list over at Library Journal, Take What You Want (reviewed earlier this year). Last but not least, if you love science fiction romance, she’s a triple threat with her awesome Unacceptable Risk (reviewed here). But today she’s here to talk about…

New Year’s Resolutions
by Jeanette Grey

For the longest time now, I’ve have a love-hate relationship with the idea of making New Year’s resolutions. In theory, it’s great, right? January first marks the beginning of a new calendar, a new year—why shouldn’t it also mark the beginning of a brand new you?

It feels good to set a goal. To articulate your intentions for how you’re going to make things better this time around.

The problem is that it’s almost too easy. Hell, it’s positively simplistic to declare that you’re going to do X, Y, and Z. But no matter how much we might wish it, we wake up on the first day of the new year, and we are, at heart, the same people we were before. Beneath that shiny new resolution, there’s something harder. Something slower and longer and not nearly so glamorous: there’s the work of seeing it through.

Making a New Year’s resolution is the work of a moment. Sticking to it is the work of one moment after another, stretching on and on in perpetuity until the goal has been achieved. If the goal doesn’t have a specific termination point—if it’s more “quit smoking” or “write everyday” and less “lose fifteen pounds”—the slog of adhering to it is literally endless.

As evidenced by those empty parking lots at the gym come February, dedication to changing your ways is infinitely harder than just naming your intention before the clock strikes midnight.

When It's Right by Jeanette GreyIn my new novella, When It’s Right, my heroine, Cassie, has just made one of the worst, most difficult to adhere to resolutions I can imagine: she’d decided she’s going to stop being in love with her best friend, Nate.

She has a plan for this, in theory. She’s going to stop spending as much time with him, she’s going to quit dwelling on him, she’s going to start actively dating again. But the sad fact is that she doesn’t want to do any of these things, and the closeness they currently have is going to be almost impossible to give up.

So when he suggests going on a road trip together for New Year’s Eve, she only hesitates for a moment. This might be her last chance to spend this kind of quality time with him before she follows through with her resolution to get some distance.

Little does she know, though, the trip is going to change everything. And thank goodness, because in the end, the best kind of resolution? Is the kind you never actually had to make in the first place.

Jeanette GreyAbout Jeanette Grey

Jeanette Grey started out with degrees in physics and painting, which she dutifully applied to stunted careers in teaching, technical support, and advertising. When none of that panned out, she started writing. In her spare time, Jeanette enjoys making pottery, playing board games, and spending time with her husband and her pet frog. She lives, loves, and writes in upstate New York.To learn more about Jeanette, visit her website and blog and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


Jeanette’s giving away one ebook copy of a single-title release from her backlist: winner’s choice of Take What You Want, Unacceptable Risk, A Gift Of Trust, or Letting Go.  To enter, use the Rafflecopter below:

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Guest Post by Author Sonya Clark on Trancehacking + Giveaway

Today I’d like to welcome Sonya Clark, the author of the totally awesome blend of urban fantasy/paranormal/dystopian romance that is Trancehack (reviewed here). 

by Sonya Clark

Tracehack by Sonya ClarkTrancehack is set in a dark future where witches are identified at birth and sent to live in urban zones with no rights of citizenship. The reason they were sent to urban zones specifically is because of the lack of understanding of magic by Normals who made the laws. Normals believed that being forced to live in an urban environment would mute the nature-oriented magic practiced by witches. What they didn’t know is that magic in this world is about more than fire, earth, air, and water. For some witches in the Magic Born world, it’s also about neon, concrete, cyberspace, and music.

When I decided I wanted to play with ideas on urban magic, I knew I didn’t want to just transplant the usual stuff encountered in fiction into city environs. I wanted to see if I could stretch my own ideas about magic, where to find it, and how to use it. The first thing I did was figure out basic correspondences: fire = neon, earth = concrete and steel, air = cyberspace, and water = music. I played around with ways the city elements could be used. One in particular really set off my imagination: the idea of using astral projection to enter cyberspace. This is where the book gets its name – trancehacking.

I’d already drawn from one childhood influence in creating the Magic Born world – Blade Runner. Both the movie’s future-noir sensibility and the sprawling metropolis that is almost a character unto itself were in the back of my mind while writing parts of Trancehack. When I started thinking about what it would be like to travel through cyberspace as just an entity of consciousness, temporarily apart from the body, I thought of another movie from childhood – Tron. I’ll be the first one to admit Tron hasn’t aged as well as Blade Runner, but both movies left a mark on my young imagination. When I found out the sequel to Tron did not involve exploring the internet, I lost interest in the movie and never saw it. It’s just as well because then I was able to let my imagination run wild. Here’s the first time witch Calla Vesper trancehacks in the book:

“Enchantress of Numbers, guide my journey,” she intoned. With a push of her will she sent magic into her wand and from there flowing into the cable. While Calla’s body sat on the hard floor of a filthy abandoned building, her consciousness slipped into cyberspace with practiced ease. Familiar blue-white light formed at the edge of the darkness. Dots and lines not unlike the city lights at night glowed brighter as she settled more fully into the different environment.

The small handful of witches like Calla who are able to trancehack have to hide their abilities from Magic Born and Normal alike, lest they wind up lab rats or worse. Even so, they’re able to do a lot of good for the Magic Born by hacking for information, as well as doing other things with their unique gifts. The Magic Born are up against bigotry, poverty, and the law itself, so they need all the advantages they can get.

And I have to admit, combining magic and technology was a lot of fun, too.

About Sonya Clark
Sonya Clark grew up a military brat and now lives in Tennessee with her husband and daughter. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance with a heavy helping of magic and lots of music for inspiration. Learn more at her website. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.


Sonya is kindly giving away a digital copy of Trancehack. To enter, use the Rafflecopter below.

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