Boracay Vows by Maida Malby

My heart is full from this wonderful praise. Thank you, Liana. I truly appreciate you taking the time to read, review, and blog about Boracay Vows. I hope you also enjoy New York Engagement.

LianaReads

If you like contemporary romance,interracial couples and a dream holiday place, this is your book.

The heroine is Krista, in her late twenties she wants to leave her life behind for a week, to give in her desire after being an obedient daughter,responsible older sister, diligently student,steady worker and supportive friend.

The hero ,Blake,is the perfection copy of a Jersey man that many of us love and swooned whenever he makes an appearance, Henry Cavill.

We are taken to a journey full of flavours, from specific Philippine dishes, amazing landscapes and vibrant views to the language dialect that are so different in every isle.

Like every character, each has their insecurities and think if they are good enough for the other and are going through the first moments of falling in love in a relationship and there is always a happy ending .

I liked the writing style and can…

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My Year in Books: Best of 2017

When you read Romance, all four seasons are seasons of love. As the song asks, “How do you measure a year in a life?” I measure in books. This year, Goodreads tells me I’ve read 208 books so far. Will probably end with 215. It’s a good number, but way below my average before I started writing. It will probably go down even more in 2018 as I plan to write 2 books and a novella. One thing won’t change, though. I will always be reading. I need to.

On to the list. I have loved so many books this year. These below are some of those I gushed about in 2017. I rated them five stars, posted about them in social media, and recommended them to as many people as I could.  Many of these were not published this year, but I only read them for the first time in 2017. Some are rereads. All are amazing.

January: My first five-star rating of the year wentromancing the beat to a craft book: Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes. I used it extensively when I revised Boracay Vows to get it ready for pitching. I have this in both ebook and paperback. I’ve since recommended it to my writing group.

devil in spring coverFebruary: The best new book of the month for me was Lisa Kleypas’s Devil in Spring. The Wallflowers is my favorite of her many series of books and seeing Marcus, Evie, and Sebastian again made me really happy. Pandora and Gabriel held their own. My short Goodreads review read: “Lisa Kleypas did it again. Gabriel and Pandora, Sebastian and Evie – they all made me laugh, cry, love, and learn. It’s unputdownable.”

March: I feasted in books this month. My friend Eva Moore released her debut novel Someone Special and I loved it. I said in my review, “This story is so real to me. Like I’ve met these people in real life. Eva made them come alive for me. The situations and emotions are things I myself have been in and felt. This book is not just about the romance between Dani and Nick, but also about friendship and community.

If there was a book I gushed over the most, it has to be Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game. I put it on hold at the San Antonio Library in November, but I didn’t get it until March. That’s how long the queue was for this book. When I got it, I devoured it in a couple of hours and immediately wanted to reread it. I posted about THG on OSRBC, I friended Sally Thorne and joined her fan club The Flamethrowers. I’ve since gotten my own digital and paperback copy. Now if only I can get it signed by Sally, my fangirl-ing will be complete. My review reads, “Five glowing stars. I am so envious of Sally Thorne for writing this outstanding first novel. This book is fresh and young, and utterly delightful. Josh and Lucy are fantastic characters, their chemistry is electric. I adore their conversations. I’m always antsy when they weren’t talking. I didn’t want the book to end. I want to read more. One of my new favorites.”

Another great find in 2017 is Katy Regnery’s The Vixen and the Vet. I was looking for Beauty and the Beast retellings to prepare for the live action movie and this came up on my search. It was also OSRBC’s New School Book of the Month in March. As with Sally Thorne, I also friended Katy on Facebook, became one of her Katy’s Ladies, and received a signed copy of The Vixen and the Vet. This was my review: “5 stars. A perfect 10 stars, if possible. This has to be one of the best romance novels I’ve ever read. Will definitely be on my Top Ten. I couldn’t put it down once I started. I cried and cried. Great writing.”

April: I read 26 books in April and I rated 6 of them 5-stars. That’s a fantastic percentage.

Nora Roberts’s Born in Fire was OSRBC’s Old School BOTM for April and I reread all three books in the series. I rated Fire and Ice 5 stars, Shame 4 stars. My reviews were long so I won’t repeat them here, but this is a highlight: “Even though this was a reread for me, I savored every word as if I was reading it for the first time. This book proves why Nora Roberts is my most favorite romance writer ever.”

I’ve been reading Sophie Jordan’s historical romance novels since 2010, but she didn’t become an auto-buy for me until her contemporary Devil’s Rock series. The third book, Fury on Fire, is my favorite. “Five red-hot stars. For me, Fury on Fire is the best of the three Devil’s Rock books so far. Both North and Faith are such great characters. I felt so much for North and what he had gone through inside the prison. I like it that although the attraction was there from the start, they didn’t act on it until later. I also liked that there was no heavy external conflict and that the HEA was not drawn out.”

I didn’t read Susan Elizabeth’s Phillips’s Nobody’s Baby But Mine when it was OSRBC’s BOTM in July 2015. I don’t remember why and I regretted that I hadn’t read it sooner. It was wonderful. Here’s my review: “5 Lucky Charms-flavored stars. Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a genius. She has the gift of making me laugh out loud and cry like my heart is breaking. All of the characters in Nobody’s Baby but Mine are wonderful. Jane, Cal, Lynn, Jim, Annie, Ethan, Kevin – they’re all great, crazy but in a good way. I really enjoyed this and would recommend it to romance readers looking for happy books with substance.”

Nalini Singh’s backlist is daunting, especially her Psy/Changeling series. I wanted to read her so bad I decided on her Rock Kiss series as my entry into her world. The second book, Rock Hard, is my most favorite of the four books. I said, “Five rock-hard stars. This is the kind of books I want to be able to write – characters like Charlotte and Gabriel, who have strengths and flaws, who grow up in the course of the book; stories about real people in today’s world, who experience pain, joy, victories, failures; and stories of friendship, family, and love. Rock Hard has all of these. It has humor, conflict, and heart.”

I didn’t discover Lorraine Heath until OSRBC made Texas Destiny its Book of-the-Month in June 2015. I’ve been collecting her books ever since. I wanted to read in order so I started with the Scoundrels of St. James before going into the Scandalous Gentlemen. Oh boy, was I rewarded for my patience when I finally reached The Duke and the Lady in Red. This is easily one of my Top 25 favorite historical novels of all time. “Hurts so good. Five heartrending stars. I’m still ugly crying up to now. I’ve been warned about this book. It’s going to make you cry, my friends said. The feels! I can’t express how amazingly this romance novel breaks my heart and yet put it back together again. Avendale, he is so flawed, yet so heroic. Rose – what a heroine, a swindling angel. And Harry. He was the best part, the heart of the book.”

May: This was the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and I prioritized those authors whose heritage could be traced to the biggest continent and largest ocean in the world.

Sherry Thomas is a new-to-me author in 2017, but I quickly fell for her fluid use of the English language. “Five sumptuous stars. Delicious is the first book by Sherry Thomas that I’ve ever read and if this is any indication of her style of writing, I’m sure I’ll read more. Her voice is unique, the hero and heroine are not your typical characters in historical novels. She’s 33, he’s 37. She’s a cook, he’s a politician. More than her atypical characters, there’s the way Ms. Thomas lays out the scenes. All your senses are engaged, especially when she described food. I swear, my mouth was watering at the thought of eating madeleines. I could feel the sweat on my face while I was reading the bathtub scene. The book made me cry three times. And, at the very end, it made me smile so big. It deserves all the luscious stars I could give it.”

I’ve been reading Alisha Rai since when she was still self-publishing. Her first book under Avon is probably her best. “Five stars. I’ve read Alisha Rai’s work before and her books have always been sexy, but this series, I believe, has the most depth. She expertly laid out Nico and Livvy’s second-chance love amidst their shared complicated family history. This book would always score high for me due to the multicultural characters. That it delivered in the storytelling was a big bonus. I cried, I smiled, I blushed, I felt for all the characters. As a writer of multicultural contemporary romance, I would look to this work as a model of how a book of the sub-genre can be told well.”

Also in May were rereads of After the Night and Sarah’s Child by old school favorite Linda Howard and The Best is Yet to Come from Indie Goddess Bella Andre’s new Summer Lake series.

“Sarah’s Child is one of my most favorite romance novels, one I reread every Mother’s Day. Sarah and Rome are such memorable characters, their story so, so affecting. I love Sarah for her strength. She is self-sacrificing without being a martyr. For all that Rome is such a difficult character, I could never hate him, especially that he loved and cared for Sarah in his own way, and he did change in the end. I also loved the secondary characters- Max, Marcie, and Derek. They provide a good balance of humor and support into the seriousness of Sarah and Rome’s relationship. I cry at the same exact places, every single time. I adore this book. I consider it one of Linda Howard’s best works ever.” After the Night: “This is one of Linda Howard’s steamiest books, but there’s also humor and mystery. One of my favorites of her books.”

The Best is Yet to Come was the first ARC I received from Bella Andre for being a member of her VIP Street Team. She used my review in a graphic to promote the book during the launch. “Five sweet stars. I love the sweet, small town, reunion story of The Best is Yet to Come. There’s real conflict, but Bella did not make it so heavy that you’ll feel depressed while reading it. I appreciate that I could like and dislike Sarah at the same time. I understood her internal struggle and fears. I like that Calvin is strong yet can admit to weaknesses and mistakes. What I liked the best is feeling as if I’m part of the world that Bella is building in Summer Lake. I’m excited for this new series. It has all the elements that I love in a contemporary romance- family, friendship, community, and love. It made me smile and tear up. There’s a freshness and depth to Bella’s writing here.”

June: Another mixed bag of new-to-me authors and reread of a favorite.

After The Hating Game, I was looking for enemies-to-lovers, slow-burn books and found Laura Florand’s Amour et Chocolat series. The second book, The Chocolate Kiss, is my absolute favorite. “J’adore ce livre. Enemies-to-lovers, slow burn, multicultural, strong characters, french pastries, hot chocolate – I love everything about The Chocolate Kiss. This book just made me so happy while reading it. I smiled, I cried, I felt for both Philippe and Magalie in their journey to love. Secondary characters were fleshed out well. The descriptions were lavish, evocative, and as decadent as chocolate. I could picture the people and the scenes in my head as I read. It’s sexy, heartwarming, magical.”

Sarah MacLean is the founder of the Old School Romance Book Club (OSRBC) and I fell in love with her books ever since I read A Rogue By Any Other Name. In preparation for the launch of The Day of the Duchess, a bunch of us reread The Rogue Not Taken. This was my review: “TRNT made me laugh, cry, and fall in love with both Sophie and King, and Warnick, and the handsome doctor, even Matthew, the footman. Engaging storytelling, snappy dialogues, great character-building- this book has all of the reasons why Sarah MacLean has become one of my favorite historical romance novelists.”

I went on vacation to the UK in June and I decided to read books set there. Lucy Parker’s Act Like It is another book recommended for those who have THG hangover. “I really enjoyed this book. There are so many funny moments and touching ones, too. I loved that the characters are multi-dimensional, not cardboard cut-outs. Lainie and Richard’s fall into love was a journey I willingly traveled with them. There were several characters introduced, but in no way did they overshadow the leads, not even Will. I loved the sparkling dialogue.”

July: Continued the UK trend, dove in to the new Sarah MacLean when I got back to the US, and finally read my ARC of Jill Shalvis’s Lost and Found Sisters which I received from her way back in March. I was also busy with Camp NaNo so I did not read a lot this month.

Multicultural romance is the genre I write in and it’s one I love to read. Melissa Blue’s Under His Kilt series hits the right notes for me. “Five kilted stars. Wonderful relationship building. Fell in love with both Victoria and Callan. And the Baird, Douglass. Just visited Scotland last week and loved it there. Obviously, Melissa Blue did, too.”

Lost and Found Sisters: “Five heartwarming stars ✨ I’ve had this book since March and I can’t believe I didn’t read it until now. It’s wonderful. It’s got everything: romance, friendship, community, and family. There’s humor and pathos. The characters are well developed and relatable. It even had the most lovable “villains”. This is a triumph for Jill Shalvis.”

Sarah MacLean’s The Day of the Duchess was excellent as expected. “Devoured it in four hours. Cried from page 2 up to p. 364. Laughed as well, especially with the suitresses. Was a monster and dog-eared pages of my favorite lines (at least 15). Groveling Haven redeemed. ❤❤❤ all the Dangerous Daughters/Soiled S’s.”

August: Another fabulous month of reading with lots of ARCs coming from both NetGalley and Edelweiss and established favorites.

Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me: “It has all the elements I love in a romantic comedy. First, it’s really funny with witty and zippy dialogues, hilarious but probable interactions and situations among characters. Second, the hero and heroine are likable and relatable with enough strengths and weaknesses to make them real. I like that Min is full-figured but wasn’t ashamed of it and didn’t try to lose weight to get her man. I liked that Cal has vulnerabilities but is also confident about himself and he really, really knew Min. I love that they tried to stay away from each other yet fate kept bringing them together. I appreciate that they got each other’s backs when it comes to defending the other against their awful families. I also like that although there are a lot of secondary characters in this book, their presence is all because of Min and Cal. I love the friendship, the cat, Elvis, even the families. I love the Stats nickname (that’s me), the cute shoes, the Chicken Marsala, and the doughnuts. This book just hits the right spots for me.”

“SEP should teach a course on character growth in romance novels and Kiss an Angel should be her textbook. Everyone in this book, from Daisy, Alex, Brady, Sheba, and Heather were different people at the end of the book from who they were at the start. The readers get to know them, feel for them, hate and care for them. They were not just names on paper, they’ve become real people. All because of the writing genius of Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I absolutely adore this book. It took me on an emotional journey I was only too willing to traverse. I laughed, I wept, I smiled, I got angry, I loved. I loved all the characters, even the minor ones like Trey, Kevin, Max, and Amelia. But, i especially loved the animals – Glenna, Tater, and Sinjun. Kiss an Angel has just become one of my favorite romance novels of all time.”

Kate Meader is another new-to-me author who I became really friendly with. I joined her fan group Kate’s Kittens and I’ve been privileged to receive advance review copies of her books from NetGalley this year. She is so versatile, writing about food, firemen, and sports with equal competence. “Five icy-hot stars. Kate did it again! She delivered another book with a delicious hero one can’t help but fall in love with, a strong heroine you can relate to, a fascinating story you enjoy following along, and fully-fleshed out secondary characters whose future books you’re looking forward to reading. Irresistible You is funny, but also addresses several heavy issues like sexism and violence against women. It’s super sexy and incredibly fun to read.”

In my opinion, Tessa Dare’s The Duchess Deal is one of the year’s best books. “I devoured this book in two hours. Had tears in my eyes from laughter beginning at Chapter One and throughout the book. Teared up in the end as well from Ash’s fears for his child. The dialogue is sharp, witty, clever, and laugh-out-loud funny. The characters were sympathetic and utterly likable. The attraction between Emma and Ash was strong from the start. Their love scenes were steamy.”

Kerrigan Byrne is another author I discovered through OSRBC. I’m looking forward to meeting her in person next year. “The Scot Beds His Wife, despite its unfortunate title, reinforces my love of the Victorian Rebels series. It has all the elements that I adored in the four earlier books – loads of angst, electric chemistry between hero and heroine, sizzling lovemaking, heart-pounding action, and most especially, the far-from-perfect and diverse characters. What Scot has more of that the others don’t is the lightness of humor balancing the heaviness caused by all the tragedies that are constantly befalling the Rebels and their loved ones.”

“The title of the book, Beautiful Lawman, refers to Sheriff Hale Walters and I love him even though he started all judgmental and tight-assed. He ended up so in love I forgive him for his early behavior. That he’s yummy and so heroic wasn’t too bad, either. But, the star of the book for me is Piper. Sophie gutted me with Piper’s struggles to be a parent to her sister Malia and her determination to rise above the desperate situation she was in when no one was willing to help because of her family history. I got emotional reading this book because I felt so much for what Piper had to go through, what she has to overcome. She was shunned, looked down upon, but she remained strong and resolute. In the end, she truly deserved her victorious happy-ever-after. Another thing I loved about this book is the hot sexytimes. Sophie Jordan’s latest works have become increasingly sensual and I’m loving the extra heat and sizzle of her stories.”

September: Feedback from Beta readers for Boracay Vows started to come in this month and I was in full revision/edit mode. There were still a few gems I managed to indulge in this month.

Lorraine Heath’s When the Marquess Falls: “Cried my eyes out. Short, but oh-so-sweet. The Marquess of Marsden was my favorite part of The Viscount and the Vixen. Reading his full story just about broke my heart. It’s not your typical HEA, but I believe he and Linnie got it in the end.”

J.D. Robb’s In Death is the longest series I’m still following and loving. Now up to fifty-five books and novellas, it remains fun and fresh. “In other In Death books, sometimes the murder mystery overpowers the love story, but not in Secrets. Here, the death is in the background, only a tool employed by J.D. Robb to show the continued growth of the relationship between Eve and Roarke. There is humor and snark, pathos (oh Summerset!), comfort, and intelligent procedural to solve the crime. There’s friendship, collegial camaraderie, community, and family. But, above all, there’s heat and so much love. Scary Roarke and Bitch Cop Eve Forever!

Katy Regnery’s Unloved: “Five heart-rending stars ✨ My eyes are swollen from the tears I shed. My throat aches from the lump that kept forming as I read Unloved. My heart is both heavy and light. I knew it was going to be angsty. I was prepared, but I still felt so emotional. Every now and then you need a book that will break your heart and piece it back together again. Unloved does that.”

October: While my editor worked on copy edits, I read.

Eloisa James’s The Beauty Tamed the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tale retellings and this month, A Kiss at Midnight became another. “A Kiss at Midnight is a funny, witty, sexy, touching fairytale with plenty of clever Shakespearean references mixed in. Kate is a delightful Cinderella, smart, feisty, feminist. Gabriel is a not-so charming prince, one who takes his responsibilities seriously. Their attraction is not quite instant, but strong nonetheless and it’s based on banter and character more than appreciation of physical attributes.”

Y’all can probably tell by now that Lorraine Heath is one of my favorite authors. I’m still slowly working on reading all her books. Sweet Lullaby is a real jewel. “This book was cry-a-minute for me. Jake is the best beta hero I’ve ever read. He has suffered so much in his life yet his capacity for love is still boundless. Lorraine Heath always writes remarkable heroes. Her male voice is truly outstanding. Reb is a good heroine. Her actions and reactions, including her confusion, are understandable. It’s not her fault that Jake was drawn better than her. Sweet Lullaby is melodramatic but I don’t mind it. Published in 1994, it doesn’t read old or dated.”

I requested Roomies from NetGalley because I’ve seen a lot of raves for Christina Lauren’s books but I haven’t read them before. Well, I appreciate being gifted the ARC because I was impressed. “This book is a great introduction to new-to-me authors and I will be adding their books to my TBR mountain ASAP. What’s admirable is that they are two writers but Roomies has one unified “voice”. You cannot tell who wrote which part. It was so seamless. The conversations flowed. The situations and the characters’ actions and reactions were all plausible. There was no suspension of disbelief. I laughed, I cried, I gushed with the romance, I blushed during the love scenes, I got angry, I sympathized. I felt everything Holland went through. That’s why I am giving Roomies all the five stars. Books that engaged all my emotions usually get the top score. Roomies deserves nothing less.”

Bella Andre and her Sullivans have become my go-to reads when I need comforting from all the chaos of life’s realities. I’m often reassured that love, friendship, and family are still some of the most important things in the world. That’s why I read romance. That’s why I love You Do Something To Me. “It’s obvious that Bella loved writing Alec Sullivan. He’s strong yet vulnerable, resolute but also unsure, tough and a softie at the same time. He’s what you want your romantic hero to be – honest about his intentions and takes great care of the heroine. Cordelia is a worthy match for Alec. She has her strengths and brings out the best in him. She helps the real him to come out. She can stand on her own but is happiest when she’s with him. I really enjoyed this sweet and sexy friends-to-lovers romance. Anytime a book makes me smile and tear up, it’s sure to get high marks.”

November: Launch month of Boracay Vows plus NaNo meant I only got to read 6 books including mine.

My author review: “Boracay Vows will always be special to me as it’s my first born. Krista has a little bit of me and Blake has a little bit of my hubby in him. The food, hats, and shoes–they’re all me. So is the female friendship. And the closeness of family relationships.”

I took time out of preparing for the launch of my debut novel Boracay Vows and writing my second novel Singapore Fling during naNoWriMo to read Cherish Hard and I consider it time well spent. “As usual, Nalini Singh tells a great love story not just between Isa and Sailor, but also between them and their friends and family. It’s a story that anyone can relate to, even though the characters might not look like them. I love that this book is multicultural and it reflects the reality of the world we’re living in right now. I adore that Isa is older than Sailor and she’s a full-figured woman with the normal insecurities, but with innate confidence as well. I love that Sailor is oh-so-sexy with a big heart. Like Rock Hard before it, Cherish Hard is a keeper for me.”

I’ve been on a Lisa Kleypas binge lately and I am enjoying it so much. On Sugar Daddy: “It’s barely a romance novel, but I loved it anyway. Lisa Kleypas has a very strong historical voice and an equally strong contemporary one. I honestly believe she had poured more of herself in this book and the rest of the Travis series. She obviously knows Texas and Texans. I’ve only been to Houston once, but after reading Sugar Daddy I feel so familiar with it I felt like I lived there during the time I was reading the book.”

December: LK binge continued.

“These days, all we see in the news are reports of sexual harassment to the point of assault–mostly made by men against women. We need a reminder that there are still men out there who cherish and protect women. One such man is the Blue-Eyed Devil himself: Hardy Cates. Next to Roarke, he’s my favorite contemporary romance Book Boyfriend. He doesn’t get a POV, that’s all Haven, but boy does he leap out of the pages of the book. Even in the first book Sugar Daddy he dominated each scene he appeared in. Lisa Kleypas must love him very much because she wrote him so beautifully. Here’s why I keep giving Blue-Eyed Devil five stars: it’s real to me. Haven and Hardy, Churchill, Liberty, Gage, Jack, etc. are not mere characters in a book. They are real people. And that’s why I love Lisa Kleypas. Because she created them and made them come alive. That is an incredible talent. I will always buy her books, even when I hate their covers.”

“Five stars. This is my third reread of A Wallflower Christmas and the time I enjoyed it the most. I actually upgraded my rating from four to five. I loved revisiting the Wallflowers and this is a great wrap-up to the series. The bonus story of Rafe and Hannah’s fall into love was well-done and I adore its development even though it’s short. The toy soldier and love letter more than made up for Rafe’s earlier boorishness with the forceful first kiss and the teacup incident. One of the best parts of this novella though is this quote: “A well-read woman is a dangerous creature.”

So, here they are, the books I loved in 2017. It was a happy reading to me the whole year long. Hopefully, it will be the same in 2018.

 

 

Happy Book Birthday – So Over You by Kate Meader

Cover.Final (1).jpg

SO OVER YOU
Chicago Rebels series, Book 2
Kate Meader
Pocket Star EBooks
December 4, 2017
$5.99
ISBN 9781501168567

“Meader serves up a delicious mix of sports, sexy romance, and complicated, captivating characters with her second Chicago Rebels hockey contemporary (after Irresistible You)…Meader’s erotic scenes could melt ice, and her complex protagonists will keep readers eagerly turning pages.”
—Publishers Weekly (So Over You)

“Things heat up on the ice in Meaer’s latest installment of the Chicago Revels series (Irresistible You, 2017)…Isobel and Vadim’s chemistry is off the charts, and Meader’s engaging details of hockey and Chicago pull you further into their world. Even nonhockey fans will be rooting for the Rebels by the last page.”
—Booklist (So Over You)

“Hockey is a sport that moves a mile a minute, and it’s even more thrilling when the action off the ice has even more speed. In the second Chicago Rebels book, external conflicts make the path to a happy ending difficult for the couple, but that makes it even more satisfying in the end. Meader’s thought-provoking tale has well-rounded characters who touch each other’s lives — sometimes not too gently.”
—RT Book Reviews (So Over You)

“Meader’s strength is creating characters who live, breathe, and jump off the page; Remy and Harper shine, and the supporting cast of characters, including Harper’s half-sisters, is very strong. The mix of sexual tension and emotional decisions will lead Meader’s series launch to many a keeper shelf.”
—Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW (Irresistible You, Book 1)

“Meader takes her readers on a breathtaking, non-stop, glorious ride. The sex scenes are lyrically written with fresh, descriptive prose. Enough is included about hockey to add its fast rhythm to the book. Remy’s family is multi-faceted and fills the pages with joy. Readers will love the relationship between Remy and Harper, and will be excited for the next story — Isobel’s.”
—RT Book Reviews Four and a Half Star TOP PICK (Irresistible You, Book 1)

About the book:
Three estranged sisters struggle to sustain their late father’s failing hockey franchise in Kate Meader’s SO OVER YOU, Book 2 in the new sizzling Chicago Rebels series. Middle sister Isobel is at a crossroads in her personal and professional lives. But both are about to get a significant boost with the addition of a domineering Russian powerhouse to the Rebels…

Isobel Chase knows hockey. She played NCAA, won silver at the Games, and made it thirty-seven minutes into the new National Women’s Hockey League before an injury sidelined her dreams. Those who can’t, coach, and a position as a skating consultant to her late father’s hockey franchise, the Chicago Rebels, seems like a perfect fit. Until she’s assigned her first job: the man who skated into her heart as a teen and relieved her of her pesky virginity. These days, left-winger Vadim Petrov is known as the Czar of Pleasure, a magnet for puck bunnies and the tabloids alike. But back then…let’s just say his inability to sink the puck left Isobel frustratingly scoreless.

Vadim has a first name that means “ruler,” and it doesn’t stop at his birth certificate. He dominates on the ice, the practice rink, and in the backseat of a limo. But a knee injury has produced a bad year, and bad years in the NHL don’t go unrewarded. His penance? To be traded to a troubled team where his personal coach is Isobel Chase, the woman who drove him wild years ago when they were hormonal teens. But apparently the feeling was not entirely mutual.

That Vadim might have failed to give Isobel the pleasure that was her right is intolerable, and he plans to make it up to her—one bone-melting orgasm at a time. After all, no player can perfect his game without a helluva lot of practice…

About the author:
KateMeaderKate Meader was raised on romance. An Irish girl, she started with Catherine Cookson and Jilly Cooper novels, and spiced it up with some Mills & Boon. Now based in Chicago, she writes romances of her own, where sexy contemporary alpha heroes and strong heroines match each other quip for quip. When not immersed in tales of brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron or a fire hose, Kate lives on the web at katemeader.com.
Giveaway:
Kate Meader will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card during release week. To enter, please go here!

Excerpt: 
“This little job is the difference between you playing and not. Dancing with the Stars, Vaddy baby. It’s where all the washed-up pros end up.”
Annoyed at his reaction to her, he skated away, throwing out over his shoulder, “I will be playing, Isobel. You will have no say in that. I spoke with Moretti—it is clear why you have this job.”
Her brow crimped. Naturally, it was adorable. “Please. Enlighten me.”
“He is new and no doubt under pressure to bow to the owners. You can write your own ticket.”
“If that’s the case, I’d just appoint myself as head coach and be done with it.”
“You are also conscious of what the fans and media think, so you are starting small. Really, you could have called or texted, Isobel. Buying my contract seems like a lot of work to bring me back into your world.”
“You weren’t my first choice. But luckily your poor play this season meant Quebec was happy to offload you.”
He ignored the brief stab. The last six months had been difficult. Isobel understood this, yet they could not resist these little cuts.
“I think you wanted to be closer to me. Just like before, right, Bella?”
A blush crept up her cheeks on hearing his endearment for her.
He would test her. Make her angry and emotional. Make her cry. Because angry, emotional criers were not the stuff of coaches. If she was serious about a career in the NHL, she would hear worse.
She would get him game fit. He would get her battle ready.
He continued to needle. “Yes, I think that must be it. It seems that the female owners of the Rebels would like to abuse their position and use the players for their personal pleasure. Your sister and Remy DuPre—that is interesting.”
“Is it?”
“Harper may have duped a Rebel player into her bed, but please don’t imagine you and I will be renewing our acquaintance in a similar manner.”
That got her attention, at last. Her creamy skin blazed, her crimson mouth twitched, and even from a distance he could see those melted-shamrock eyes darken. She looked like she wanted scream at him. Burst into tears. Slap his face.
Yes, Bella. Let us see if you can handle the barbs of every player, coach, and fan who will dismiss you. Let us see if you can handle me.
Fury powering her stride, she skated over, skidding to a halt mere inches from his face. As before, she was magnificent.
“You’ve found me out, Petrov.”
“I have?”
“It’s all an elaborate ruse. We bought your contract even though you really haven’t been performing well this season. Let’s face it, you’ve sucked donkey balls, Vadikins. But I convinced my sisters that I alone could bring you back to top condition. Make you a valuable asset to the team. I also made sure I’d be the only one working with you . . .” She leaned up on the tips of her blades, a balancing act that required great skill and remarkable ankle strength. Close enough that he could have slipped his tongue between his lips and tasted hers.
Her breath was a hot puff of temptation. “So we would have all this alone time.”
With that fiery gaze, she held his own.
Unerring.
Unflinching.
Until her mouth creased, and she broke into a laugh. He remembered that laugh. Just as before, it hit him right in the balls.
She used the edge of the iPad to poke him in the chest. “You thought I’d go to all this trouble to try to get into your hockey shorts, Petrov? I’m a team owner—I can have any of these Rebel boys with the click of my fingers!” She chuckled, clearly enjoying herself. “Despite what that supersized ego of yours thinks, the only performance I want from you is on the ice. Maybe if you spent less time carousing—”
“Carousing?”
“Yes, it’s nicer than calling you a club-hopping, vodka-sodden manwhore. Less of that and more effort on your day job, please. And don’t worry yourself that I’m interested in ‘renewing our acquaintance.’ I’ve had better lays with the Ukrainian delegation at the last Games.”
He had to say he enjoyed this sharp-tongued, quick-witted version of Isobel. But not enough to admit it to her.
“There is nothing you can teach me.”
“So sure, Russian.”
“I am positive.”
“We’ll see.” She skated back to the edge of the rink. “Again.”

 

My Review:

4.5 stars rounded off high. pro_reader_120

Kate Meader’s books are so addictive. I thought Remy from Irresistible You was my love, but now it’s Vadim Petrov. I’m almost one-hundred percent sure I’ll be falling for Dante next, then Bren after him. That’s because Kate has a very strong male “voice”. Her men are lovable because they’re not altogether flawless. She lets us get to know her characters so well that we understand where they’re coming from when they act in a certain way. So, yeah, Vadim started out super arrogant and cold and Russian, but by the end, he became this sympathetic, vulnerable guy. When he made a unilateral decision to “protect” Isobel, I got mad along with her, but I forgave him even before she did. That’s talent. Kate Meader has loads of it.

Not to say that her heroines are weak or secondary to the heroes. They’re fabulous! Isobel, like Harper before her, is awesome. She knows her own mind but has doubts, too. She’s confident, yet has fears. All very real and relatable.

Isobel and Vadim are great together. They’re sexy, funny, and they’re just meant to be with each other. I enjoyed their interactions and their journey to love.

I also enjoyed the secondary characters. The team, the sisters, Vadim’s small family, especially his relationship with his little sister Mia. The sisters. I love them. I love that they’re working together to create a uniquely functional family.

There’s so much love and laughter in So Over You. Shed a few tears, too. Yep, this is a worthy read.

Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for giving me an advanced copy to review.

Cherish Hard By Nalini Singh Book Tour

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Cherish Hard is NOW LIVE
Meet Sailor & Isa TODAY!

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CHERISH HARD
A Hard Play Novel by Nalini Singh

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…

Sailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed. Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin.

Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love. Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener.

And Sailor Bishop has wickedness on his mind.

As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.

☆☆☆☆☆☆

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EXCERPT FROM CHERISH HARD BY
NALINI SINGH

ÍSA WONDERED WHAT THE HELL she was doing.
Being a devil woman, she reminded herself. Having fun for a change. Not being a grandma at twenty-eight years of age.
Still, she couldn’t stop second-guessing herself as Sailor led her out of the house through a side entrance that opened out into a small, manicured garden. “I’ll have to take off my heels,” she whispered when she saw the pebbled path snaking through the garden.
“Want a piggyback ride?” A playful grin. “I promise not to molest your thighs.”
Goose bumps broke out over Ísa’s skin, her nipples tight. Reckless as she was feeling tonight, she might just have taken him up on his offer if she hadn’t been worried her damn dress would split in two. “Maybe when we’re naked,” she said instead, Devil Ísa in full flower.
Groaning, he doubled over as if she’d punched him.
Her lips twitching despite the melting sexual heat liquefying her bones, she leaned down to slip off her heels.
Sailor waited, his hand firm around hers, until she was done. Taking the heels from her, he carried them in his other hand as Ísa padded beside him on the grass that lay on this side of the pebbled path. The path ended at a weathered wooden gate, which, when opened, put them at the top of a narrow walkway that led down onto a beach Ísa couldn’t yet see but could hear.
Her heart crashed in time with the waves as they made their way down to the beach while the mansion behind them pulsed with light and music. But she didn’t turn and run away, she didn’t stop and talk herself out of it, she didn’t attempt to be a sensible adult. She followed a gorgeous, blue-eyed man down a dirt pathway to an effectively private beach.
The sand that had been tracked onto the path was gritty under her feet, the air coming off the sea cool but not cold.
“The water’s going to be icy, isn’t it?” she whispered to his broad back.
“Don’t worry, spitfire. I’ll keep you warm,” was the deep-voiced response. “Stop here.” Jumping down to the beach, he reached up to grab her by the waist, swinging her down as if she were a featherweight.
Something fluffy and mushy came to life inside Ísa. “Here?”
Shaking his head, he said, “Raj told me there’s like a little cove area—not a proper cove, but caused by— There.”
Ísa saw it at once. A huge tree had fallen into the water at some point and smashed up against some rocks where it appeared to be stuck. Between the jutting rocks on either side and the fallen trunk was a naturally created pool. The water within it was pretty calm, and it looked as if they could get to it by clambering over some rocks that didn’t appear too sharp or slippery.
Of course, she’d be walking over those rocks naked.
Ísa looked up at the moon. Imagined it shining on the stark white of her body. Gulped. “Will you close your eyes while I go in the water?” Even Devil Ísa wasn’t up for blinding him with her glow-in-the-dark form.
A glance back. “What’re you going to bribe me with?”
Ísa scowled. “Not pushing you into the water right now.” It was a toothless threat given his muscles and her lack of them.
Rubbing his jaw, he said, “Three tongue kisses. That’s my price, and I’m not budging.”
Ísa wanted to pounce on him all over again. “Two,” she countered.
“Nuh-uh. Three. Or I’m keeping both eyes wide open.” Leaning in, he pressed his nose to hers. “I really want to keep my eyes wide open.”
And Ísa really wanted to kiss him and run her hands all over that sculpted chest. “Three,” she whispered.

Copyright © 2017 by Nalini Singh

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Haven’t read this series yet? Start the Rock Kiss Series NOW!

Rock Addiction (Book One) Rock Kiss Series
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Author Information

nalini singh

Nalini Singh is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Psy-Changeling, Guild Hunter, and Rock Kiss series. She lives and works in beautiful New Zealand, and is passionate about writing.

If you’d like to explore her other books, you can find lots of excerpts and free short stories on her website. Slave to Sensation is the first book in the Psy-Changeling series, while Angels’ Blood is the first book in the Guild Hunter series. The Rock Kiss books are all stand alone and can be read in any order.

STALK HER: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

 

MY REVIEW

Five stars. I love it hard. I took time out of preparing for the launch of my debut novel Boracay Vows and writing my second novel Singapore Fling during naNoWriMo to read Cherish Hard and I consider it time well spent. As usual, Nalini Singh tells a great love story not just between Isa and Sailor, but also between them and their friends and family. It’s a story that anyone can relate to, even though the characters might not look like them. I love that this book is multicultural and it reflects the reality of the world we’re living in right now. I adore that Isa is older than Sailor and she’s a full-figured woman with the normal insecurities, but with innate confidence as well. I love that Sailor is oh-so-sexy with a big heart. Like Rock Hard before it, Cherish Hard is a keeper for me. I can’t wait for the rest of the Hard Play books. Nalini, write quick!

 

Happy Book Birthday!

Several of the ARCs I received are released today. Thanks to NetGalley, Goodreads, publishers, and authors for giving me the privilege. Today is turning out to be the busiest release day in Romance.

Wilde in Love (The Wildes of Lindow Castle #1) by Eloisa James

wilde-in-loveLord Alaric Wilde, son of the Duke of Lindow, is the most celebrated man in England, revered for his dangerous adventures and rakish good looks. Arriving home from years abroad, he has no idea of his own celebrity until his boat is met by mobs of screaming ladies. Alaric escapes to his father’s castle, but just as he grasps that he’s not only famous but notorious, he encounters the very private, very witty, Miss Willa Ffynche.

My Review:

Wilde in Love is a sexy and funny Shakespearean comedy. The characters, both human and animal, are well described and distinctive. The situations are on the right side of farcical. Alaric and Willa are evenly matched in looks and intellect. Their interactions are sweet and steamy. I always like it when the hero realizes his feelings first and gives his all in wooing his beloved. Their attraction was natural and inevitable. As expected of an Eloisa James novel, Wilde in Love entertains and satisfies. That’s why she is an auto-buy for me.

 

A Daring Arrangement (The Four Hundred #1) by Joanna Shupe  a-daring-arrangement-the-four-hundred-book-1-by-joanna-shupe

Set in New York City’s Gilded Age, Joanna Shupe’s Avon debut introduces an English beauty with a wicked scheme to win the man she loves—and the American scoundrel who ruins her best laid plans…

Lady Honora Parker must get engaged as soon as possible, and only a particular type of man will do. Nora seeks a mate so abhorrent, so completely unacceptable, that her father will reject the match—leaving her free to marry the artist she desires. Who then is the most appalling man in Manhattan? The wealthy, devilishly handsome financier, Julius Hatcher, of course….

My Review:

This is probably my favorite of Joanna Shupe’s books so far. The story is familiar but she gives it a fresh twist which I enjoyed very much. A romance novel about an English heroine faking a relationship with an American hero set in New York during the Gilded Age is all kinds of fun. I liked both Nora and Julius. They’re strong characters and this book is really about how they fell in love in spite of the less than ideal beginning. I truly admire all of Ms. Shupe’s research on the era as there’s a sense of place to this book that makes the reader feel as if they’re there with the characters. I love New York and I loved being transported there when I read A Daring Arrangement. Another thing I appreciate with this book is the comparisons between English and American societies. There really is history in this historical romance.

 

The Bride Who Got Lucky (The Cavensham Heiresses #2) by Janna MacGregor

the bride who got lucky

He would do anything to protect her. Even marry her…

The son of a cold-hearted duke, Nicholas St. Mauer isn’t one to involve himself in society…or open his own heart to anyone. But driven by honor, the reclusive Earl of Somerton feels obliged to keep a watchful eye on Lady Emma Cavensham. She possesses a penchant for passions unbecoming a woman that finds Nick in constant peril of losing his well-structured solitude. She even dared kiss Nick once―an utterly unladylike, and delightful, lapse…

My review: 

I liked that the heroine Lady Emma is very passionate about her causes – her fight to get justice for the death of her friend Lena and her desire to help women in need by setting up a bank. I liked that she’s brave and that she loves to read.

I liked that Nick is a self-made man, that he amassed his own fortune. I liked that he is so protective of Emma even though he kept fighting his feelings for her. It is admirable that he stands firm on his principles and is not wishy-washy.

I appreciate that Ms. MacGregor has them waiting until they got married to consummate their relationship. I also liked that the whole family gets involved and although I haven’t read the first book, I appreciate that the story of Alex and Claire gets an update.

There were things I questioned in my advanced copy which I’m sure have been addressed before today’s publication date. Overall, a good book.

 

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ARC Book Review – East In Paradise

I’ve read and loved thousands of romance novels for over thirty years. My biggest complaint and the reason I’m writing my own series is that I haven’t read MY story yet. Right now, I can honestly say Tif Marcelo’s East in Paradise, Book 2 of her Journey to the Heart series, has come the closest.

A Filipino-American heroine. Check. Military Veteran hero. Also check. Heroine has a younger sister. That’s me as well. Our first date was at Napa Valley, quite similar to the setting of Paraiso Retreats.

I can say though that you don’t have to be a Filipino to relate to the characters and enjoy this book. East has a feisty, resolute heroine in Bryn, who has a goal and knows what she has to do in order to achieve it. It has an admirable hero in Mitchell, who served his country and has a great sense of responsibility towards his family’s legacy. This book is about dreams, family, and love.

The conflicts are very current, very real in the world we live in today. The secondary characters are well-rounded with both good and bad mixed in. The hero and heroine are characterized realistically with strengths and weaknesses.

Where it might have faltered for me a bit is when Bryn appeared to be too aggressive and Mitch didn’t assert himself fast enough. I knew they were going to get their happily-ever-after eventually, but it was an uncomfortable feeling reading it so close to the end without their final and most explosive conflict being resolved.

Overall, I enjoyed East in Paradise, especially the celebration of Filipino culture in the food and relationships. I give it four solid stars.

Note: I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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About The Book:

When an entrepreneur and an Army reservist end up in their own reality show fauxmance, they have to decide whether their love exists just for the cameras…or if it’s for real in this warmhearted romance, perfect for foodies and wine lovers!

Bryn Aquino, the former manager of a Filipino restaurant, knows the value of hard work. With a shiny new MBA in tow and an investor, she’s ready to start her own business: a culinary retreat where visitors can relax, cook, and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Dubbed Paraiso Retreats, she leases the childhood home of army reservist Mitchell Dunford—who returned from Afghanistan to revive his family’s vineyard—but finds herself in a bind when her investor pulls out of the business.

When the retreat catches an internet live stream producer’s eye through social media channels, Bryn is offered the opportunity of a lifetime—to document her journey in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Excited, Bryn happily agrees to the arrangement…only to find out that she’s going to have to fake an onscreen romance with her indifferent landlord in order to keep her audience interested.

As Mitchell and Bryn put on a show for the cameras, they find their romance isn’t hard to fake. They’ve got more in common under their bluster, banter, and doubts. As their relationship heats up and the cameras keep rolling, the line between show and reality blurs. And when the pressures of family, business, and the audience stack against them, will their romance survive internet stardom? Or was it just for show?

East in Paradise is available today from the following retailers:

Amazon
B&N
Kobo
iBooks

 

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One Liner Wednesday – What Happens Next

The Magician’s Curse kept me turning page after page – I wanted to see what happens next.

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Book Cover for ‘The Magicians Curse’ by Author Linda G.Hill

I gave Linda Hill’s The Magician’s Curse four stars on Goodreads and Amazon. This was an entertaining read. Oftentimes, if you’ve read as many books as I have, you’d be able to predict what’s going to happen next. With The Magician’s Curse, I couldn’t. That’s what kept me turning page after page – to see what the characters will do next, what will happen to them. It’s certainly different from the typical books I read and a great palate cleanser. It’s not cookie-cutter or formulaic at all. I don’t normally read books with young characters (18/23) anymore, but I made an exception for this. I’m glad I did because the heroine and hero (Herman and Stephen) are mature for their age. I’d recommend this book for those who are looking for a fresh voice in New Adult Paranormal romance.

 

 

 

Note: Photo credits: What Happens Next – wloy.org; The Magician’s Curse – Linda G. Hill; One Liner Wednesday Badge – Dan Antion

 

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