Book Review: Riding Home by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Riding Home is the sixteenth book in the Sons of Chance series by Vicki Lewis Thompson. This contemporary romance is currently schedule for release as an ebook on  August 1, 2014, it was available as a paperback as July 15, 2014. Jeannette Trenton's name is well known in the small town of Jackson Hole, and on Last Chance Ranch in particular. She is the woman that was engaged to one of their beloved citizens, only to cheat on him with his best friend. Now she has come back to atone for her past actions, and to mend fences with the two men that were once good friends and are now finding their own happy ever after. Zach Powell knows Jeannette's type; a wound-up-tight perfectionist with one eye on her email at all times, because he used to be the same way. . He thinks that she needs to shake it loose, face her imperfections, and allow herself to make mistakes. The only thing no one can mistake it the heat that seems to connect them.

I am a fan of Vicki Lewis Thompson, so when Riding Home popped up on NetGalley I had to read it even though I have not read the previous books in the series. Thankfully this is a series because of the connected people rather than a larger story arch so I do not feel like I was missing out on parts of the story without having read the other books. Jeannette was a good character, she is owning up to her mistakes and trying to make things right. She is aware of her problems and making efforts to fix them. Zach has made some changes too, but is not quite sure if he needs to make more. Both are stubborn, smart, and very attracted to the other. I liked the dynamic between them, and there was some humor and hot scenes a plenty. Each of them irked me at some point because of their stubbornness, but I still enjoyed the read. I think it was Thompson's writing style and combination of humor and steam that carried the book for me.

I would recommend Riding Home to those that have read the first two books in the Sons of Chance series. Thompson fans that have somehow missed this series, like myself, should definitely give it a look. If contemporary cowboys or character growth are what you look for in a romance, then this is a book for you.

Book Review: Witch Hunt: An Urban Fantasy Mystery by SM Reine

Witch Hunt: An Urban Fantasy Mystery is the first book in the Preternatural Affairs series by SM Reine. When Cèsar Hawke wakes up after a grand celebration and a bit too much to drink he discovers scratches on his arms, a discharged Glock on his coffee table, and a dead woman in his bathtub. Regardless of what it looks like he knows for a fact that he didn't kill her. He's an agent with the Office of Preternatural Affairs. He doesn't hurt people, he saves them. However, the evidence is daunting and no one seems to believe him so Cèsar is on the run and out to prove his innocence. Isobel Stonecrow speaks with the dead, for a price. She brings closure to the bereaved and heals broken hearts. But when she resurrects someone for the wrong client, she ends up on the OPA's most wanted list. Tracking down Isobel was the last case assigned to Cèsar. Now he is searching for he to find answers and to prove that he didn't kill that waitress. He can clear his name, get his job back, and bring justice to the victim.

Witch Hunt is a fast paced murder mystery and start to what looks to be a great series. Cèsar is a man used to rescuing others, and turns that experience towards capturing Isobel and clearing his name. His partner helps him as much as she can, but can he still trusty her? Dirty agents, the legitimate police, and still mounting evidence keep Cèsar on his toes, and sometime doubting himself. Isobel is smart and tricky. I really loved her spunk and ability to outsmart and out pace just about everyone. The mystical elements of witches, demons, and the like offer a unique world which is well built and explored in this series opener. The twists and turns kept me on my toes and guessing.

I would recommend Witch Hunt to those that like suspense and mystery mixed in with their urban fantasy. Fans of Jim Butcher's Dresden Series or Simon R. Green's Nightside series might particularly enjoy this blend of  investigation and magic.

Book Review:Crimson Heart by Heather McCollum

Crimson Heart is the third book in the historical romance Highland Hearts series by Heather McCollum. Elena has spent her entire life hiding, walking a thin line between lady and servant and hiding her royal blood. Now, a fiercely Catholic queen on the throne and Elena's Protestant caretaker is a target and she is at risk. Searc Munro is a highland warrior with a secret of his own. In a family of healers his ability to kill with a touch has been his secret for years, but when he reveals it to save his father he can feel his clan's suspicious glances. He sets off alone, only to  save a lass being attacked in the forest. together the pair seek refuge only to stumble onto a series of ritualistic murders, suspicion, and court intrigue.

Crimson Heart is a book that started off wonderfully. Elena is a smart, strong, and capable woman that somehow gets herself into some tricky situations. she is so used to hiding her lineage hat she has trouble fully trusting anyone, and holds onto her secret for as long as possible. Searcis a compassionate yet powerful alpha male that feels his version of the family magic might be evil.  The growth of their friendship, attraction, and most importantly trust is well done and does not feel rushed. The addition of the court intrigue was perfect, making things build and move along faster without make the reader feel like things were unnaturally forced ahead. My only issue is that in one scene the situation, which should have been a grand dramatic moment, I felt like I had read that exact situation before. In fact, it felt so familiar that I went back and made sure I had not read the book before, or something from this series before, to account for it. Perhaps it was just me.

I think that readers that enjoy historical romance, particularly with a slight twist of magic or political intrigue, will really enjoy Crimson Heart. Readers that have read other books from Heather McCollum will definitely want to pick it up.

Blog Tour with Excerpt and Giveaway! BACK TO YOU by Jessica Scott

Back to You is the latest book in the Coming Home series, a contemporary romance series that realistically deals with the issues of love and life when at least one party in the relationship is in the military. Army captain Trent Davila loves his wife, Laura, and their two beautiful children. But when he almost lost his life in combat, something inside him died. Now everything is on the line, and Trent has one chance to prove to his wife that he can be the man she needs. Laura is blindsided when Trent returns home. Time and again, he chose his men over his family. But when Trent faces a court martial on false charges, only Laura can save him. What begins as an act of kindness to protect his career inflames a desire she thought long buried-and a love that won't be denied. But can she trust that this time he's back to stay?

See my review (hint, I love this series) here.

About the author:
USA Today bestselling author Jessica Scott is a career army officer; mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs; wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she's a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon and someone liked some of the stuff she wrote. Somehow, her children are pretty well-adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house.

She's written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View: Regarding War Blog, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn and has served as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas.
She's pursuing a PhD in Sociology in her spare time and most recently, she's been featured as one of Esquire Magazine's Americans of the Year for 2012. 

His uniform scraped the edge of her cheek. His body was a solid wall beneath her skin and for a brief moment, she simply let him hold her. His strength wrapped around her, his scent pulled her close, reminding her that somewhere inside this man was the man she’d married. The man she’d loved.
She hadn’t meant to cry in front of him. Not again. But the truth had simply slipped free of the chains she’d attempted to bind it with, breaking her resolve until it emptied out of her, tearing free and leaving her drained.
It was a long time until the tears stopped. Her eyes felt swollen.
Now, she rested against Trent and closed her eyes. She simply stopped. Stopped fighting. Stopped arguing. Stopped resisting her stubborn heart that still loved this man no matter how many times he hurt her or lashed out.
His leaving, his anger: He wasn’t in control of those things. Not like she’d convinced herself he was in those dark days when the rumors and innuendos had been breeding like a live thing in the silence between them. But there was more at work here than her husband simply walking out on her.
He’d made a huge step by talking to the counselor. And he hadn’t needed to tell her about their conversation, but he had. Laura leaned back, refusing to believe the insidious voice in her head that said he was just telling her this out of sheer selfishness.
She lifted her gaze, looking deep into his eyes. She started to shift and pull away but Trent moved first, cradling her face with his palms. Gently, his thumbs caressed her cheeks, wiping away the tears.
“I’m so tired of screwing everything up, Laura,” he whispered. “I want to fix this. Not for the trial. For us.”
“It’s not that simple.”
“Yes, it is.” His voice was urgent and harsh. “I can’t fix what I’ve done. And I damn sure don’t deserve your forgiveness.” He lowered his forehead to hers, his palms warm and solid against her skin. “But I’m asking you to help me. Help me reset my normal. Help me learn how to be a dad again. A husband.” He blinked rapidly.
She pressed her lips together, biting back fresh tears. “And what happens when you leave again?” she whispered. “What do I do then?” She sniffed quietly. “You keep breaking my heart.” Her voice cracked.
His fingers crooked around her jaw. “I want to stop.”
They were tucked away in a quiet corner of the coffee shop. The couch was blocked by a high booth. No one could see them. Laura kept her eyes locked on his. Finally he’d laid his fears, his hopes, his dreams in her lap.
She could crush him so easily. A stronger woman might have walked away, doing to him what he’d done so many times to her. But she was not that woman. She wanted to end the pain between them, not prolong it.
She’d thought divorce was the right answer. Ending the sham their marriage had become, protecting their children from more pain. The kids were her life now and she would not apologize for that. For all intents and purposes, she’d been a single parent for years and that was okay because she knew how to do that. Now fear latched on to her heart. Fear that he would leave her again. That he would once again shatter her into a thousand pieces.
But he was here. At this moment, it was all she had. Without giving herself time to think about the consequences, she leaned closer and brushed her lips gently against his.
She pulled away before he could deepen the kiss. Fear and awareness and arousal skittered through her veins, making her off balance, like a needful, sensual thing. She’d grown accustomed to the hugs of her children, their wet kisses and enthusiastic embraces.
What she craved now was something darker. The faintest brush of lips against lips had sparked something primitive inside her. Something deeper and richer. A long-forgotten need to be touched by a man. But not just any man—by this man. His hands, roughened by combat, sliding up her thighs. The coarse pads of his fingertips caressing her skin.
Memories bombarded her as she attempted to lean away and salvage the remnants of her pride.
But Trent was not operating under the get-some-space battle plan. He reached for her, his eyes rich with dark emotion. His palms scraped against her cheeks, his fingers strong as his lips claimed hers.
His breath was a gasp against her tongue and for a moment, Laura was stunned into stillness, unable to move beneath the assault on her senses. But then her body remembered his taste, her tongue remembered his touch, and a warmth awakened inside her. She opened for him, stroking his tongue with hers, her body folding into his like it was meant for him.
Her every nerve came alive. A cascade of long-denied arousal mixed with bittersweet memories of other homecomings, other farewells. It crashed into them both, driving them under a torrent of emotion.
This was the man she had married. A man who could make her body purr just thinking about him inside her. A man who knew exactly how to kiss her to drive her wild.
This was the man she’d been waiting for. She wanted nothing more than to crawl into his lap and have that urgent, passion-filled sex of first homecoming.
It was a long moment before the arousal faded and she became aware of the tender, sucking kisses he placed on her lips.
Another moment before he rested his forehead against hers.
An eternity passed before the words she’d never thought she’d ever say again slid past her lips. “I miss you,” she whispered.

And for once, he did not pull away.

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Book Review: Dorothy's Derby Chronicles: Rise of the Undead Redhead by Meghan Dougherty and Alece Birnbach

Rise of the Undead Redhead is the first book in the Dorothy’s Derby Chronicles series by by Meghan Dougherty and Alece Birnbach. This children's series is about Dorothy Moore, who is dealing with the fact that their mother has left her and her younger sister Sam in the care of her hearse driving, pink haired, outgoing grandmother. She would love to just fade into the woodwork, but it is hard to do that as the new girl in a small town. Grandma Sally's changed to her sedate wardrobe and catching the eyes of the school mean girls do not bode well. But a group of allies and the chance to learn how to roller skate might be just what she needs.

Rise of the Undead Redhead is the wonderful start to a new series. Dorothy is a shy girl, and the exuberance of her grandmother makes her more than a little uncomfortable. I can completely relate to her desire to fade into the background, always having been less than outgoing myself. I could feel for and relate o Dorothy, and enjoy the quirkiness of her grandmother, and the carefree attitude and innocence of her sister Sam. I loved the friends she makes, Jade and Gigi, as they are fun and different in their own right. The building of the group of girls, and Dorothy's learning to trust in herself, made this book both fun and relate able. I cannot wait to see where this group of girls and their varied issues take me in the future.

I enjoyed Rise of the Undead Redhead and look forward to continuing the series, I think that any middle grade reader that has been the new kid, or simply felt like they just wanted to escape notice from the crowds, will really enjoy this book.

Book Tour with Giveaway and Excerpt: Hero of a Highland Wolf by Terry Spear

Hero of a Highland Wolf by Terry Spear is currently scheduled for release on August 5, 2014. Here is your chance to pre-order and win some great prizes! I have not gotten a chance to read and review yet, but will be doing so in the near future.
The MacQuarrie werewolf clan has overseen the Playfair family’s Ardmore Castle for three centuries. So when a Playfair granddaughter from abroad inherits the estate, clan chief Grant MacQuarrie has to train her to manage it—and he’s not happy about having her in his way. Until the prim old lady he’s expecting turns out to be a sexy young wolf…

Colleen Playfair is excited and apprehensive about her new role at the castle, and she has big plans to change the way its run. But the stubborn Grant won’t make things easy, and she’s forced to turn to seduction to get her way…

Grant always joked and played with his clansmen when they were through with their work for the day. Well, even while they worked. But being with Colleen here like this felt different. For a moment, he didn’t feel like he served as the manager of her estates while she was the owner and taskmaster. He felt like a man with a woman on a Sunday jaunt in the glen. Except she wasn’t just any woman. She was a she-wolf, her cute little arse jiggling ahead of him as he climbed the hill to join her.

When he reached the top, she was trying to catch her breath and swayed a little. He grabbed her arm, and he didn’t know what came over him. But suddenly he was looking down into her smiling face, as if she was smiling at him, and he wanted in the worst way to kiss her.

She didn’t pull away from him, either.

He shouldn’t kiss her, but damn, he wanted to.

Still breathing hard, her heart beating fast, she placed her hand on his chest. He expected her to push him away, but she didn’t. She just stood there looking up at him, waiting for him to do something. He breathed in her scent, all woman and…interested.

They stood high on top of the hill overlooking the glen, the water rushing by, the sheep grazing on the green grass across the burn, and white clouds passing overhead against the blue sky.

He still had hold of her arm, but then he released her, cupped her face with both hands, and kissed her.

When his lips met hers, he knew he shouldn’t do this. He intended to make it sweet and unassuming, to quench some damnable need that he had to satisfy. He didn’t presume it would go anywhere, and he almost imagined it would be lame and unappealing—-after having built up the expectation that kissing that sweet mouth of hers would make his world spin and topple over. He hadn’t thought she’d crave the intimacy as much as he did. Yet when she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back, she exhibited an eagerness that turned his world on end.

She was more than willing.

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Buy Links:
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Image of Terry SpearAuthor Bio: 
USA Today bestselling author Terry Spear has written over two dozen paranormal romance novels and medieval Highland historical romances. In 2008 HEART OF THE WOLF was named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry also creates award-winning teddy bears that have found homes all over the world. She lives in Crawford, Texas.

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Book Review: Fighting Fire!: Ten of the Deadliest Fires in American History and How We Fought Them by Michael Cooper

Fighting Fire!: Ten of the Deadliest Fires in American History and How We Fought Them by Michael Cooper is a nonfiction book for children and adults alike. The book details 10 of the deadliest fires in American history from colonial times to the modern day. There are two constants in all of the stories,  the destructive power of fires and the bravery of those who fight them. The infernoes included in this book are the great fires of Boston, New York, Chicago, Baltimore, and San Francisco, the disasters of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, the General Slocum, and the Coconut Grove nightclub, the wildfire of Witch Creek in San Diego County, and the catastrophe of 9/11. Each blaze led to new firefighting techniques and technologies, however the battles against fires continues to this day. The book offers historical images and a fast-paced text, this is both an exciting look at firefighting history, a celebration of the human spirit, and a chronicle of lost lives and dreams.

Fighting Fire! is a must read for anyone that is interested in the history of fire fighting, knows fire fighters, or have been touched by fire's devastation in their lives. The book is not always an easy read, as the stories and lives lost are heart wrenching. However the things we have learned from fires, the changes we have made and the techniques we have developed in response to the tragedies offer us hope and inspiration for further innovation. It is a wonderful resource about the history of our nation, its people, and fire fighting techniques through the lens of tragedy and loss.  

Book Review: The Chase by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

The Chase by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg is the second book in the Fox and O'Hare series. The series premise is that internationally renowned thief and con artist Nicolas Fox is famous for running elaborate and daring scams. His greatest con of all: convincing the FBI to team him up with the only person who has ever caught him, and the only woman to ever capture his attention, Special Agent Kate O’Hare.

In this adventure the pair go up against Carter Grove, a former White House chief of staff and the ruthless leader of a private security agency. Grove has stolen a rare Chinese artifact from the Smithsonian, a crime that will torpedo U.S. relations with China if it ever becomes public. Nick and Kate must devise a plan to steal the piece back. Confronting Grove’s elite assassins, Nick and Kate rely on the skills of their ragtag crew, including a flamboyant actor, a Geek Squad techie, and a band of AARP-card-carrying mercenaries led by none other than Kate’s dad. A daring heist and a deadly chase lead Nick and Kate from Washington, D.C., to Shanghai, from the highlands of Scotland to the underbelly of Montreal. But it’ll take more than death threats, trained henchmen, sleepless nights, and the fate of a dynasty’s priceless heirloom to outsmart Fox and O’Hare.

I normally love Evanovich's work, including co-written series. However, this series just has not grabbed me. I read every Stephanie Plum book, have read all the standalones, and enjoyed the Motor Mouth series. Here I just could not connect with the characters or the tension between Kate and Nick. It just did not grab me. I do not know if I am just in a reading slump, or if this book is not up to the quality and fun that I expect from Evanovich. If you liked the first book in the series then I say give this one a go, but if it left you cold or have not read it then I say skip it, at least for now. 

Book Review: Sojourner by Maria Rachel Hooley

Sojourner by Maria Rachel Hooley is a young adult novel. Seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Moon has been dreaming about dying in different times her entire life. In each dream there is always a haunting face watching her death. When she returns home to Hauser’s Landing with her guardian, the very place her father disappeared, she meets Lev Walker, who looks an awful lot like the guy in her dreams. Then there is the most eligible bachelor in school, who will not leave her alone, graffiti, mysterious accidents, and more making the return to a prejudice small town harder than it should be. When Lev finally shares his secrets everything begins to close in on Elizabeth and she is not sure who or what to believe in.
Sojourner had promise. A girl that does not seem to fit in no matter where she goes because of her mixed heritage and desire to simply fly under the radar. Lev is the mysterious boy that seems to care but also seems to invade Elizabeth's dreams and stands by to watch her die time after time. It all takes place in a town that is prejudice against Native Americans, and most likely anyone that they can label as other. So far so good. But then, I started reading the book. There are so many parallels with Twilight that i had trouble getting past it. Super small town, new girl immediately being fought over, supernatural boy that seems to be trouble, good guy that carries his own brand of trouble, girl driving a temperamental pick up truck, ice causing some accident, accident prone girl in need to constant supervision, and so on. 

Some of the writing her was better, and Elizabeth seemed to want to be a more independent soul than Bella, but in the end I think the mirroring here was just to much for me, even though I liked Twilight the first go round (I blame pregnancy hormones) the more i think about Bella's dependency and whining the more I wish I never saw the movies, never mind read the final book. therefor I will not be continuing on with this series.

I would recommend Sojourner to readers that did, and still do, love Twilight. The angst and desperation and high school drama are all here along with the idea of a destiny that can not seem to be avoided.If you disliked Twilight, then I would suggest that you skip this read. 

Early Book Review: I Remember Beirut by Zeinia Abirached

I Remember Beirut is a graphic novel by Zeinia Abirached that is currently scheduled for release on August 1 2014.Zeina Abirached grew up in Beirut in the 1980s as fighting between Christians and Muslims divided the city streets. Abirached recalls the details of ordinary life inside a war zone with a combination of stark reality and simple innocence.

I Remember Beirut has simple but striking black and white images that do a wonderful job of telling the story of everyday life. as a child we often see more than adults expect us too, and still miss vital bits of information until we look back at our childhood from a safe distance. Abirached show readers what it can be like living in a war zone, a situation far too many children have had to deal with throughout history, and are still dealing with today. the juxtaposition of what she saw and thought as a child with the full picture that see has of events today make everything come to life and really let readers understand where she is coming from and what others are still struggling with in a variety of locals today. 
I would highly recommend I Remember Beirut to readers that want to dive in and understand what it was like to live in Beirut in the 1980's and beyond. it will go a long way to show readers just how lucky they may be, and that even though situations and locations may be very different, we are all the same at heart. For another, more detailed look at life during war and Abirached's family and experiences, I would also recommend A Game for Swallows to Die, to Leave, to Return.