The Ultimate Western Blog Tour: Guest Post by Lindsay McKenna + Giveaway


As part of The Ultimate Western Blog Tour, I’m hosting Lindsay McKenna, talking about the latest book in her Jackson Hole series, Out Rider. When I reviewed Out Rider back in May, I fell in love with the cast and crew of this series, particularly all of the wonderful working dogs who are such a big part of all the stories in the series. If you enjoy slow-burn romances with hot heroes, strong heroines, and heroic (and beautiful) canines, you’ll love Out Rider and the Jackson Hole series.

Inspiration for OUT RIDER, a guest post by bestselling author Lindsay McKenna

I always write “close to the bone.” It’s an ancient writer’s way of saying: what I write is true, but I’ve fictionalized it because no one in their right mind would believe if I tried to say it was the truth.

Well, maybe you would believe it. But I find inspiration for OUT RIDER in my own ranching/farming background. I grew up in the Wild West (literally). I’m a real Californian, born in San Diego, California. But my father had a lot of Eastern Cherokee blood in him and like the seasons, we migrated/moved every 9 months. I lived in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho, Montana and Oregon. I counted one time and realized we’d moved 22 times by the time I was 18 years old and left for the U.S. Navy.

We always lived in rural areas, raised our own beef, had a milk cow, rode the neighbor’s horse or had one of our own, milked the cow daily, had goats, had a huge garden, was canning by nine years old and raising chickens, ducks and geese, as well. As soon as my legs grew long enough and my foot could reach the accelerator and brake pedal on the tractor, I was driving the tractor. I started driving our old Ford pickup at the same age. I felt very fortunate to have that kind of childhood. Not many get one like this nowadays.

I acquired my first horse, Pretty Boy, a two-year old sorrel stallion with four white socks and a wide blaze down his face when I was 12 years old. I paid $45.00 for him. He had been rounded up with a large herd of Mustangs in southeastern Oregon, which is part of the Great Basin (desert), and cowboys brought them to Klamath Falls, where we were presently living. My horse was slated to be killed and ground up into dog food, as was the rest of his herd. He got lucky and got me, instead.

He was a wild Mustang and I tamed him with love, care and attention. I broke him to ride and he never bucked once. We had an idyllic year together. It got so that when he’d lay down in the barnyard to snooze in the afternoons, I would come and snuggle up behind his front legs, my head resting on his shoulder. We had that much trust in one another.

OUT RIDER comes directly out of my horse/Western background and upbringing. I loved writing about Dev and her horse. I also liked putting Sloan Rankin as a blacksmith/horse shoer who was a Ranger in the Great Tetons National Park. Sloan is a military vet, was a K-9 handler for the Army in Afghanistan. His Malinois, “Mouse” (Dutch bred), retires when he leaves the Army. Man and dog are inseparable.

Lucky for Sloan, when he pulls over after seeing a horse trailer bearing a palomino in it, blows a tire, he stops to help the owner. Dev McGuire is grateful for Sloan stopping to help her change the tire. And when she finds out that he works out of the Tetons Ranger station, it’s a pleasant shock. She’s just been assigned to the Tetons because she’s a US Forest Ranger herself. And Bella, her yellow labrador, is also a retired K-9 Army bomb sniffing dog. These two people find they have amazing parallels. But they are going to need every bit of their courage and combat savvy to thwart a villain who is after Dev. He wants to settle an old score with her and he’s just gotten out of prison, tracking her down.

I love writing about what I know. I believe that when you write ‘close to the bone,’ you can bring in the five senses because one has lived it, and it’s easy to record and share with the reader. Enjoy!

out rider by lindsay mckennaAbout Out Rider: With her return to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, New York Times bestselling author Lindsay McKenna shows how love can find a way out of the darkness…
A fresh start—that’s all Devorah McGuire wants. As a former Marine and current Ranger with the US Forest Service, she’s grown accustomed to keeping others safe. But when the unthinkable happens, she can only hope that a transfer to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, will allow her to put the past behind her for good.
Dev’s mentor at Grand Tetons National Park is fellow canine handler and horseman Sloan Rankin. He shows Dev the spectacular trails, never knowing the terror that stalks her every move. Despite her lingering fear, Dev feels an attraction for Sloan as wild as their surroundings.
With Sloan, Dev can envision a new life—a real home. Unless a vengeful man fresh out of prison succeeds in finishing what he started…

About the author: A U.S. Navy veteran, Lindsay McKenna was a meteorologist while serving her country. A pioneer of the military romance genre in 1993 with Captive of Fate. Her heart and focus is on honoring our military men and women. Creator of the Wyoming series and Shadow Warriors series for HQN Books, she writes emotionally and romantically intense suspense stories. Visit her online at her website,


Harlequin is giving away an all-expense paid 3-night luxurious stay for you and 3 guests at The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, Montana! To enter click here or on the image below:

August 5_Lindsay McKenna_sharable

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

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 10-4-15

Sunday Post

The Books That Need More Attention Giveaway Hop started yesterday, so there’s plenty of time to enter. This seems to be hop season, as there is yet another hop scheduled for this week, and then there’s the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop starting in mid-October. This may not be Christmas yet, but it still seems to be the season to give away books and bookish prizes.

But speaking of giveaways, I don’t say this often because it feels just a bit crass, but Reading Reality is an Amazon Affiliate. Buying one of the books you find on my blog (or any other book, for that matter) by going to Amazon from one of my links nets me a few cents or a dollar per book. Those affiliate fees add up, and they are how I fund the giveaways. So I very, very much appreciate when I see that someone has bought a book through my links, both because it means that I reached that person with my review, and because it helps provide the giveaways that introduce new readers to Reading Reality. So thank you all very much.

alternate banned books banner 2015And before we end the weekend, let’s take a look at what happened last week. It was a theme week for Banned Books Week, so all the books I reviewed were on topics related to Banned Books Week in some way. One book is currently under challenge, one talks about reading the world and what breaking out of our Western, anglophone reading habits might mean. And then the recent and controversial history of one of the world’s great libraries, as well as a book about our First Amendment rights and then a book about how those rights are being eroded by ubiquitous government and commercial surveillance. The books were fascinating and occasionally frightening. And compelling enough that I only made one change from my original plan – not because I’m not planning to read Terms of Service but because I needed to carry my book around the day I was supposed to read it, and I didn’t have an ebook.

Also, I admit, Patience and Fortitude was about half the length of Terms of Service, and it was starting to matter. These were all marvelous books, but not the kind of thing that keeps one up until 3 am because you want to see what happens next. I may do this again, for next Banned Books Week if no other time. If anyone has any thoughts on the concept or how it worked, please let me know in the comments.

And next week we’re back to our regularly scheduled genre fiction! I need a break from the serious.

Current Giveaways:

$10 Gift Card or $10 Book in the Books That Need More Attention Giveaway Hop

Winner Announcements:

The winner of the $10 Book or $10 Gift Card in the Rockin’ Reads Giveaway Hop is Jennifer H.
The winner of the $10 Book or $10 Gift Card in the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop is Susan D.

immortal life of henrietta lacks by rebecca sklootBlog Recap:

A+ Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
B Review: The World Between Two Covers by Ann Morgan
B+ Review: Patience and Fortitude by Scott Sherman
A Review: Freedom of Speech by David K. Shipler
A- Review: Data and Goliath by Bruce Schneier
Books That Need More Attention Giveaway Hop

books to movies giveaway hopComing Next Week:

The Guilt of Innocents by Candace Robb (review)
An Ancient Peace by Tanya Huff (review)
Christmas in Mustang Creek by Linda Lael Miller (blog tour review)
Books to Movies Giveaway Hop
Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie (review)
Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh (blog tour review)

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 6-14-15

Sunday Post

We are on the road again, so I’ll have to let everyone, including the winners, know who won what of last week’s giveaways next week.

And I’m not just writing this early, but I’m writing in the middle of a thunderstorm. I’m wondering when we’ll lose either power or ‘net. Or both. The fweeping sound the UPS (uninterruptable power supplies) make drives the cats absolutely bonkers.

Or at least more bonkers than they are normally.

One of the things about being on the road is that while I may get plenty of time to read, time and space (and quiet) to write in can be hard to come by. Some people are multi-taskers – Galen can write and even code in the living room with the TV on. Me – I need surround-silence, as opposed to surround-sound.

On that other hand, when I’m reading, the world could go to hell in a handbasket right next to me, and I wouldn’t hear a thing. I’m not there. I’m in Middle-Earth, or wherever the book takes me.

Current Giveaways:

Hot Cowboy Nights book bundle by Victoria Vane
$25 Gift Card + ebook copy of The Rhyme of the Magpie by Marty Wingate
5 copies of Night of the Highland Dragon by Isabel Cooper

night of the highland dragon by isabel cooperBlog Recap:

A- Review: Rock with Wings by Anne Hillerman
B- Review: Sharp Shootin’ Cowboy by Victoria Vane
Guest Post by Victoria Vane on Art Imitating Life + Giveaway
B+ Review: The Rhyme of the Magpie by Marty Wingate + Giveaway
A Review: Night of the Highland Dragon by Isabel Cooper
Guest Post by Isabel Cooper on her Favorite Author + Giveaway
A- Review: Sinner’s Gin by Rhys Ford
Stacking the Shelves (139)

favorite heroinesComing Next Week:

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (review)
Zack by Sawyer Bennett (blog tour review)
Favorite Heroines Giveaway Hop
Waterloo by Bernard Cornwell (review)
Inherit the Stars by Laurie A. Green (review)

Guest Post by Victoria Vane on Art imitating Life + Giveaway

sharp shootin cowboy by victoria vaneI am always happy to welcome Victoria Vane back to Reading Reality! If I’m counting right, this is her fourth guest post for me. I think she’s got the record! While I adored her historical Devil DeVere series, I am also glad that she has branched out to contemporaries, as with today’s featured review book Sharp Shootin’ Cowboy. This time, Victoria is here with a giveaway of the series, and her thoughts about her life has influenced the art of her writing.

How have your experiences (where you live, your family, romantic life, hobbies, etc.) influenced the things you like to write about?

Those familiar with my work already know that my historical books almost always have strong elements of reality. I usually incorporate my fictional characters into real events and/or use real people as secondary characters. In my contemporary stories, I get my inspiration from real life situations and virtually anything else that interests me.

slow hand by victoria vaneSLOW HAND, the first book in my Hot Cowboy Nights series was very much inspired by my own experience when my father died- which included a meltdown very similar to Nikki’s in the middle of an airport. I was so distraught that they actually brought the plane back to the gate! Elements of her background also came from my own life.

My inspiration for ROUGH RIDER came from getting to know a number of real people in the rodeo world which is far more grit than glamour. Dirk became an amputee after I read numerous accounts of similarly wounded vets struggling to put their lives back together. They all deserve to be romance heroes.

The idea for SHARP SHOOTIN’ COWBOY came to life during a research trip to Montana where I met several ranchers who expressed concerns about the booming wolf population and the threat to their livestock. Intrigued by this, I began researching the re-introduction of wolves into the Rocky Mountain States. Upon discovering what a political powder keg this issue had become, I knew I had to write a story about wolves.

rough rider by victoria vaneIn ROUGH RIDER I had already introduced a secondary character named Reid Everett who was a Marine from Wyoming. He seemed to be the perfect candidate to become my hero. Reid is an interesting combination of cowboy and warrior, and a protector to the core. The heroine was much harder for me to get a handle on, until I decided that Reid was based at Camp Pendleton. Suddenly, the answer was clear—she was a California girl named Haley Cooper, which also meant that she was going to be his opposite in every conceivable way.

The fourth book in the series, A COWBOY’S WHISPER, was inspired by my own experiences with wild mustangs and the people who adopt them. I was fortunate to meet one of the few private individuals in the United States who trains them for adoption and got to talk on several occasions with the people who gather them from the wild. The hero of this story was modeled after a real life horse whisperer and the heroine was inspired by a wild horse documentarian.

I have always believed that incorporating real elements gives my stories a more genuine feel.

As for the romance part, after thirty two years of marriage, I am a true believer in both fidelity and lasting love. At the same time, I know that it takes a lot of work! And while I’m no prude about sex, (after thirty two years, we still burn up the sheets), I want it to occur in the context of a loving, caring, relationship. These are the kinds of stories I believe in and the ones I most want to write about. My greatest hope is that my stories will make readers laugh and cry and fall in love right along with my characters.

VV Head shot7About the Author:
Victoria Vane is a multiple award-winning romance novelist and history junkie whose collective works of fiction range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog.
Connect with Victoria Vane: Website | Facebook | @AuthorVictoriaV | Pinterest | Goodreads



Victoria is giving away a Hot Cowboy Nights Book Bundle (3 books) to one lucky winner. See the rafflecopter below for deets on how to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Sharp Shootin’ Cowboy by Victoria Vane

sharp shootin cowboy by victoria vaneFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Hot Cowboy Nights #3
Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: June 2, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

A Weary warrior… After eight years as a Marine sniper, war-scarred Reid Everett is back in his native Wyoming. He knows and loves this rugged land, so working for wildlife services to reduce the booming wolf population suits him to a T.

A Caring crusader… Wildlife biologist Haley Cooper is desperate to make a difference. Leaving the world of academia behind, she accepts a position as a wolf advocate to protect the animals she loves.

Raw attraction… Their jobs set them on a collision course, but chemistry sparks like wildfire between Reid and Haley. They’ll have to brave some rough territory if they hope to reconcile their polarizing views with a passion that won’t be denied.

My Review:

rough rider by victoria vaneJust like the second book in the Hot Cowboy Nights series (Rough Rider, reviewed here), Sharp Shootin’ Cowboy takes place over several years, as the relationship between Reid and Haley goes through several stops and starts, and is also interrupted by Reid’s tours of duty in Afghanistan.

In this opposites-attract romance, wildlife biologist and conservationist Haley Cooper meets Marine Corporal Reid Everett in a bar near Camp Pendleton just a few days before he is due to ship out. Again.

They meet over a pool table, where Haley both captivates Reid and hustles him. She’s a much, much better pool player than Reid possibly imagines. But the push-and-pull of the game’s fortunes is just a metaphor for the push-pull of chemistry between the two of them.

The timing isn’t right. Not just because Reid is shipping out again before the end of the week, but because Haley just isn’t ready. She’ll still in college, and Reid, while not much older in years, has grown up hard and fast at war.

And they seem to have nothing in common but chemistry. Reid isn’t just a soldier, his family makes its living ranching and hunting back in Wyoming. Haley is almost a caricature of the tree-hugging conservationist – she hates hunting, she’s not thrilled by ranching, she’s a vegan AND she hates Marines. Her sperm-donor father, no name ever given, was a Marine who left her mother pregnant and alone.

Reid and Haley argue about absolutely everything – but they can’t forget each other. Not through another tour for Reid, and college and graduate school for Haley. When they meet again, they finally give in to that explosive chemistry – until Reid’s sister and his ex put themselves in the middle of the fledgling relationship. Haley runs again, and Reid goes back to war.

It’s not until years later, when Haley has grown up a lot more, and figured out what she really believes and isn’t just spouting off cliches and platitudes, that she and Reid get one last chance to figure things out. Dr. Haley Cooper becomes the wildlife conservation agent in Wyoming, near Reid’s ranch. And Reid is back for good, or for whatever might come next.

But they are on opposite sides again, as Reid’s family and friends are trying to beat back what they feel is encroachment on their livelihoods by the wolves who have been reintroduced into the area. Haley, of course, is on the side of the wolves.

She doesn’t know that the biggest wolf of all walks on two legs, and has been manipulating her for the last ten years. It takes a crisis of faith and the long arm of coincidence to get her to see that she and Reid have had the important things in common all along.

slow hand by victoria vaneEscape Rating B-: Sharp Shootin’ Cowboy is a story that left me with a lot of mixed feelings.

I was expecting this story to tie more closely into the previous books, Slow Hand (reviewed here) and Rough Rider. There is a mention of Dirk’s ranch near the end, but this is a completely separate story and characters – it is not necessary to have read the first two books to enjoy this one.

I liked the second half of the book much better than the first, because when the story reaches Wyoming, Haley and Reid are finally both well into adulthood and are able to operate more as equals. Also Haley is thinking for herself at this point, and is no longer a cardboard cut-out wolf-loving tree-hugger.

Not that she doesn’t still love the wolves she protects, and not that she isn’t still an environmentalist, but her approach is much more nuanced and less party-line spouting now that she more fully owns her own adulthood and opinions.

In the early parts of the story she seemed very naive, and too inexperienced to make a real relationship with anyone, but especially with Reid. Also, with his greater life experience, I kept getting the sense that he thought he knew best and was sure that he just needed to convince Haley to go his way. Even when he’s right, it feels wrong for the start of a relationship that he discounts so many of her thoughts and feelings.

When they meet again in Wyoming, the playing field is much more level. As equals, they are able to find ways to compromise. When the big crisis comes, and it’s a doozy, it exposes both the places in their relationship that they still need to work on, and how much they both care for each other and the land they will make their home.

The way that the author frames the debate about reintroducing wolves into their habitat and the needs of farmers and ranchers to preserve their way of life, gives readers an excellent opportunity to see both sides of the story.

I’m going to be very interested to read the fourth book in this series, A Cowboy’s Whisper, to see where the author takes us next.

***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: The Marriage Season by Linda Lael Miller + Giveaway

marriage season by linda lael millerFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: contemporary western romance
Series: The Brides of Bliss County #3
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Date Released: May 26, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Since Hadleigh, Melody and Bex—the best of best friends—entered into a marriage pact, two of them have found (and married) the men of their hearts. But Bex doesn’t think she’ll be as fortunate as the others. Her own first love died years ago in a faraway war, and Bex has lost hope for a happy marriage of her own. She concentrates on her business, a successful chain of fitness clubs, instead.

Then, when single father Tate Calder comes to Mustang Creek with his two sons in tow, who befriend Bex’s eight-year-old nephew, she and the handsome, aloof newcomer are constantly thrown together. But is the marriage season over? Or can a man with doubts about love be the right husband for a woman who wants it all?

My Review:

marriage pact by linda lael millerThe Marriage Season is a different kind of second-chance romance from the first two wonderful books in this series, The Marriage Pact (reviewed here) and The Marriage Charm (likewise, here).

Hadleigh, Melody and Bex really are BFFs forever. They grew up together, and also continued to grow towards each other as they graduated high school, left Mustang Ridge for college and business opportunities, and all moved back to be with their families. And find their happily ever afters.

The difference is that Hadleigh and Melody found their HEAs with men who they loved earlier in their lives. While the time wasn’t right then, it is now. It just takes each of them some time (and some home truths delivered by their friends) to finally figure things out.

Bex is different. The love of Bex’ young life was Hadleigh’s husband’s brother Will. They were all set to get married after Will returned from his deployment to Afghanistan. He never did, and Bex has never found anyone else to fill his place in her heart.

She’s successful in business, and her life is full and happy, but there’s something missing. Even though she recognizes that her life would have been much different if Will had lived, the fact is that he didn’t. And that Bex hasn’t trusted herself to love again, out of fear that anyone she loves will be taken from her again.

Her younger sister’s disastrous marriage to the wrong man probably hasn’t helped Bex’ trust in the institution, but she loves her nephew Josh to pieces. She just wants better for him than to be a pawn in the midst of his parents acrimonious arguments.

Of course, her friends Hadleigh and Melody are matchmaking for her, just as she helped them when it was their turn. But the friends’ sights are fixed on a newcomer in town. Tate Calder is a single father, his wife dead and his two young sons surprisingly well adjusted.

Tate isn’t looking for love either. Actually, what Tate isn’t looking for is marriage. His was a disaster that was just about to end in divorce when his wife died, leaving him with the two boys and a need to be a much more present father than his own had been, or than he had been while he was running away from the hell of his marriage through overwork.

Tate and Bex collide with a thud when her sister finally runs away from her cheating husband, and leaves little Josh with Bex for the forseeable future. Bex has suddenly, and temporarily, become a single mother, with uncertain custodial privileges and a brother-in-law who will threaten his own son’s welfare to get another chance at his wife taking him back, just so he can cheat on her again.

Bex knows how to run a successful business, but this situation is a little more than she can handle. When Tate steps up to defend her and Josh, they find themselves spending way too much time together to continue ignoring the simmering heat they’ve always had.

Can a woman afraid to love again, and a man afraid to marry again, find a way to make a family together?

christmas in mustang creek by linda lael millerEscape Rating B+: Although there is a Christmas book (Christmas in Mustang Creek) on the way, The Marriage Season is really the end of this series. All of the women’s stories come to lovely HEAs, and we see the happiness of not just Tate and Bex and their children, but the fulfillment of the happy endings for the couples featured in the earlier books in the series.

Which is very important, because as much as The Brides of Bliss County is a series of romances, it is a series that celebrates the importance of women’s friendships. None of these women would be either as happy or as successful without their two BFFs to cheer them on – and occasionally to kick them in the ass when they need it.

While it is not strictly necessary to have read the other two books to enjoy The Marriage Season, it really does help to already be invested in these people and know how they fit into each other’s lives, and into the life of Mustang Creek.

Neither Bex nor Tate are looking for a relationship at the beginning of the book. They both are in places in their lives where there is simply too much on their plates to believe that they have time to put into building a new relationship. They also both have a lot of scars, even though Bex’ are mostly happy ones. She loved Will, and she still misses him, but it’s been ten years and life moves on, even when you don’t want it to.

Tate has uprooted his entire life in order to be a present father and make a good life for his two sons. He’s given up a high-pressure and high-travel job to start a business breeding, selling and renting horses in Wyoming. There’s still plenty of pressure, but Tate is there with his boys every step of the way, and vice versa.

The conflict that brings them together is an integral part of the life of the town. Everyone knows everyone in Mustang Creek, and everyone knows that Bex’ sister Tara should never have married Greg, and that Greg is a lying, cheating, bullying louse. And that Tara is a doormat who has taken him back too often and that their son Josh is suffering for it.

The uncertainty of Bex’ situation when Josh is dumped on her doorstep is confusing, but we feel for both of them. Tara runs away to get her head together, leaving big sister Bex holding the bag and the six-year-old boy. Greg could challenge Bex’ informal custody at any time, and finally does as a threat to get Tara back.

Bex needs help, and at the same time knows she’s going to be heartbroken when one or the other of Josh’s now absent parents demands him back.

At the same time, the way that Bex and Tate reach for each other is now out of desperation on Bex’ part. She appreciates Tate’s help, and his good example of how to raise his kids, but she would manage if he weren’t there. Their discovery that they belong together, and that they are in the middle of a relationship whether it’s a good time for them or not, happens slowly enough that it isn’t forced.

That the kids bond like glue gives the adults the excuse they both needed to explore what was bubbling between them all along. And it works well.

I also think we could have the next generation of stories right there, as those three boys look like they will be every bit as much BFFs in the future as Hadleigh, Melody and Bex were in this generation.

Maybe The Grooms of Bliss County will blossom as a series when they boys have grown up. It would be every bit as awesome as The Brides have been.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY~~~~~~

I’m giving away one paperback copy of The Marriage Season to a lucky (U.S.) commenter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***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 3-22-15

Sunday Post

The Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop ends 3/29, so you still have plenty of time to get lucky with a bunch of wonderful bookish giveaways.

This weekend is the official beginning of Spring. In Atlanta, it has been 70 and sunny, and 50 and rainy, all in the same week. We’ve had both the air conditioning and the furnace on, sometimes on the same day. If there’s one thing that Spring means, it’s changeable weather. I’m starting to think about getting a lounge chair and reading in the backyard for a few weeks, before it gets too hot here.

On this first weekend of Spring, I want to leave you with a little ditty that always makes me smile.

Spring is sprung,
Fall is fell,
Here comes Summer
And it’s hotter than…
Last year.

Current Giveaways:

Lucky-Leprechaun-Hop-2015The book of the winner’s choice (up to $10 value) in the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop
3 copies of Cowboy Heaven by Cheryl Brooks
2 ecopies of Romantic Road by Blair McDowell

Winner Announcements:

The winner of The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley is Anne.

cranky ladies of history by tansy rayner roberts and tehani wesselyBlog Recap:

Guest Post by Author Blair McDowell on The Real Romantic Road + Giveaway
Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop
B+ Review: A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear
B+ Review: Cowboy Heaven by Cheryl Brooks + Giveaway
B Review: Star Trek: Shadow of the Machine by Scott Harrison
A- Review: Cranky Ladies of History edited by Tansy Rayner Roberts and Tehani Wessely
Stacking the Shelves (127)

blink of the screen US cover by terry pratchettComing Next Week:

A Blink of the Screen by Terry Pratchett (review)
Shadow Ritual by Eric Giacometti and Jacques Ravenne (blog tour review + giveaway)
Unchained Memory by Donna S. Frelick (review)
Idol of Bone by Jane Kindred (review)
The Kill List by Nichole Christoff (blog tour review)

Stacking the Shelves (127)

Stacking the Shelves

I love our cats. I really do. Even when, sometimes especially when, they sit on my morning newspaper or try to get between my eyes and my iPad. That’s adorable. Howsomever, Mellie peed on my clothes last night. (No, I wasn’t wearing them, but still…) It’s moments like this that make me ask, “Why was that again?” in reference to the question, “Why do we keep them around?” But then someone does something cute and the whole thing is self-explanatory.

mellie face on box
Mellie being cute


But someone still needs to explain to my why Mellie only does this to my clothes, and never Galen’s clothes. it’s a mystery.

Of course I’d much rather read than do laundry. But needs must.

For Review:
17 Carnations by Andrew Morton
The Case of the Invisible Dog (Shirley Homes #1) by Diane Stingley
Hard as a Rock (Gargoyles #3) by Christine Warren
Idol of Blood (Looking Glass Gods #2) by Jane Kindred
The Irish Brotherhood by Helen O’Donnell
Last First Snow (Craft Sequence #4) by Max Gladstone
Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy
Master Thieves by Stephen Kurkjian
Night of the Highland Dragon (Highland Dragons #3) by Isabel Cooper
The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton
Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed edited by Meghan Daum
Sharp Shootin’ Cowboy (Hot Cowboy Nights #3) by Victoria Vane
Three Moments of an Explosion by China Mieville
The Thunder of Giants by Joel Fishbane
Zack (Cold Fury Hockey #3) by Sawyer Bennett

Purchased from Amazon:
Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting in the City #1) by Penny Reid

Borrowed from the Library:
Butcher’s Hill (Tess Monaghan #3) by Laura Lippman
In a Strange City (Tess Monaghan #6) by Laura Lippman
The Last Place (Tess Monaghan #7) by Laura Lippman

Review: Cowboy Heaven by Cheryl Brooks + Giveaway

cowboy heaven by cheryl brooksFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: erotic romance
Series: Cowboy Heaven #1
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: March 3, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

When widow Angela McClure decides to let loose and start a secret affair with a younger ranch hand, she inflames rancher Dusty Jackson’s long simmering desire. Both men are irresistible – and forbidden – so Angela forms a plan to divert her old-fashioned father’s suspicions: flirt with all of “her cowboys.’ The new competition makes Circle Bar K ranch hotter than it’s ever been before…

My Review:

cowboy delight by cheryl brooksCowboy Heaven is just plain good, dirty fun. For a good time, find Cheryl Brooks and pick up either Cowboy Heaven or its predecessor, Cowboy Delight.

I’ve been reading a LOT of fairly serious books lately, and it was great to cut loose with something light and fun. And dirty. Did I mention dirty? Cowboy Heaven is an erotic romance that starts out heavy on the erotic and adds the romance side about halfway in.

There’s also a tiny bit of suspense. While it was easy to figure out who the bad guy was, his reasons for being bad and just how far back the badness went were a bit of a surprise.

The story is about Angela McClure. Angela is a 42 year old widow with two sons, a cantankerous father, and a ranch to run. Her husband Cody has been dead a few years, long enough for her to have gotten past her grief and to really miss having a man around just for her. And definitely for sex.

Her kids are away at school. You would think that Angela would have no problem finding someone if she wanted to, but there are definitely a couple of flies in that ointment. Her dad is more than a bit old-fashioned, a lot of hard of hearing, and his health is failing. And it is still HIS ranch. Angela may run it, but Dear Old Dad definitely still owns it. She lives under his roof and has to give at least lip service to what he wants.

The other problem is the ranch foreman Rufus. He has not only lectured the ranch cowboys repeated and with great force that Angela is absolutely untouchable, but it turns out that he fires anyone who even looks her way.

Angela, who is more than passably pretty, feels like she is being smothered. Quite possibly with a nun’s habit. She’s doesn’t know about Rufus’ dictates, and thinks she must be ugly as sin if none of the cowboys will even smile at her.

Then she picks up a handsome hitchhiker, and she learns a whole lot about how much she still needs sex, and how much men want to have it with her. She also uses her new “boy toy” as a spy in Rufus’ bunkhouse, and discovers just how tight a rein the foreman has been keeping on all her cowboys.

The more she inserts herself into the life of the cowboys (and a few of them let her know that they would like to insert themselves into her) the more Angela re-discovers how much fun, and not just the sexual kind, can be had with a bunch of male friends who don’t mind her occasional foul language and can give as good as they get.

And the further Rufus goes off the deep end. When Angela and her new cowboy friends start putting the pieces together, Angela comes to the nasty conclusion that anyone she shows favor to is in deadly danger.

Especially the cowboy that she has been in love with for years. And very definitely vice-versa. Can they get Rufus before he gets them?

Escape Rating B+: For a rip-roaring time, get this book and settle in for a couple of hours of sexy cowboy fun.

But there’s just a bit more to it than that. Angela is a terrific character. I feel for her situation, and absolutely love her bawdy sense of humor. She’s someone I’d love to have drinks with. Or possibly get drunk with.

I also really liked that Angela was a grown-up heroine. She’s 42 not 22. It affects her outlook on life and responsibility. While it was awful to see her as a widow, it was terrific to see her break out of the shell imposed by her Dad and Rufus and find her authentic self, very definitely including her sexual side.

That all the cowboys she gets various levels of involved with are all younger than she is, well that’s an added bonus.

The cowboys as a group are all sweethearts (except Rufus of course). It’s easy to see why a woman might fall in love with any of them – or perhaps all of them. It’s also just a bit heartbreaking when Angela’s lover, Dusty, explains how all of them are misfits, and why they are all happy living in a ranch bunkhouse instead of on their own.

There is one scene that absolutely had my laughing to the point of shaking the bed. Some of the cowboys decide to get into a dick measuring contest, and they want Angela to be the judge. The whole load of double and triple entendres flying around is chortle, snicker, giggle worthy of the highest order.

(I’ll admit, I’ve been to more than a few meetings where I wanted the guys in the room to just cut the crap and get them out and measure them. It would have saved a whole lot of time.)

It would be sweet to see more of those wonderful cowboys get their own sexy HEAs in future books in this series. They deserve it.


Sourcebooks is giving away 3 copies of Cowboy Heaven by Cheryl Brooks. If you are looking for a good (reading) time, enter the giveaway in the rafflecopter.

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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.

Stacking the Shelves (125)

Stacking the Shelves

In my template for Stacking the Shelves, I have “XXX” to mark the place of my commentary. I live in fear that one Saturday I’m going to publish the post with that “XXX” still in place. And I have had Saturdays when the “XXX” was more cogent than anything I might otherwise say. Hopefully this isn’t one of them.

After finishing Hush Hush by Laura Lippman earlier this week and loving it, I decided that I wanted to read the middle books in her Tess Monaghan series. So I went a bit crazy with the library ebook site, or I tried to. I have access to two local libraries, one because I live in the district, and the big one next door because I pay for it. One problem, and its a big one. My local library has had some serious funding issues over the years, so their collection is not as robust as I would like. The big library next door does a much better job (they have a much bigger budget) but I can only check out 5 ebooks at a time. And since I can’t return ebooks early, this is a serious limitation for me. Also drives me crazy. I understand that usage is greater than can be supported, and that everyone is looking for ways to keep from breaking the bank, but 5 is just too low of a limit. At least for this volume consumer.

C’est la (in this case slightly frustrating) vie.

For Review:
All the Wild that Remains by David Gessner
A Blink of the Screen by Terry Pratchett
Claimed (Servants of Fate #2) by Sarah Fine
Cowboy Heaven (Cowboy Heaven #1) by Cheryl Brooks
The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg
The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons
Grave Phantoms (Roaring Twenties #3) by Jenn Bennett
Hissing Cousins by Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer
How to Catch a Russian Spy by Naveed Jamali and Ellis Henican
Keepers by Richard Schickel
Lion Heart (Scarlet #3) by A.C. Gaughen
The Lost Boys Symphony by Mark Andrew Ferguson
Marked (Servants of Fate #1) by Sarah Fine
The Mechanical (Alchemy War #1) by Ian Tregillis
Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg
Shadow Ritual by Eric Giacometti and Jacques Ravenne
Ten Windows by Jane Hirshfield
Unchained Memory by Donna S. Frelick

Purchased from Amazon:
Cowboy Delight (Cowboy Heaven #0.5) by Cheryl Brooks
Her Best Mistake by Donna McDonald

Borrowed from the Library:
Another Thing to Fall (Tess Monaghan #10) by Laura Lippman
Charm City (Tess Monaghan #2) by Laura Lippman
The Girl in the Green Raincoat (Tess Monaghan #11) by Laura Lippman
I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman
In Big Trouble (Tess Monaghan #4) by Laura Lippman
The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman
The Sugar House (Tess Monaghan #5) by Laura Lippman