Monday, August 20, 2018

The Honeymoon Trap by Christina Hovland ~ Excerpt and Giveaway

Title: The Honeymoon Trap
Author: Christina Hovland
Genre: Adult, Romantic Comedy
Length: 319 pages
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Release Date: August 20, 2018

How to Survive Your Next Relationship Disaster 101 

Step 1: Get pumped. Your new house, in your new town, comes with a sexy and shirtless man next door. Score!
Step 2: Don’t let your freak-out show when Mr. OMG Shirtless turns around—and it’s your old crush. 
Step 3: Hold your head high when you run into him again on the first day of your new job—literally—and spill coffee all over yourself.
Step 4: Stay calm when he introduces himself as your new boss…and then announces that your first assignment is to go on a fake honeymoon together.
Step 5: Keep your $h*t locked tight when the new boss/old crush and you are forced to sleep in the same room…with one bed.
Step 6: Try to ignore just how freaking hot he is, and how much you want to touch him…

More pounding. “Saw you. Know you’re in there, Lucy.”

She drew the curtain back again.

He pointed to the handle and mouthed, “Open.”

She shook her head and planted her hand on her hip.

He rattled the door handle.


Safety chain in place, she opened the door a crack. When he pressed to enter, the chain caught.

“Lucy, I need to talk to you,” he said through the thin opening.

“It’s too early for conversation.” She ran a hand over her obnoxious morning hair.

“I need your help.”

“You said I’m not supposed to help you.” She tried to close the door, but he stopped it before the latch caught.

“Bridgett’s in the hospital.”

A knot formed in Lucy’s belly. She released the safety chain and opened the door. “What happened?”

“We’re supposed to leave for Twin Lakes today, but she ate something with peaches, and apparently she’s allergic. I just came from the hospital. She’s all puffed up.”

Peaches? That sounded awful. “Will she be okay?”

“They say she’ll be fine, but she needs monitoring. You have to be my wife.”

The knot in her belly tightened, and she stepped backward into the living room. “It is way too early to discuss marriage.”

He followed her inside. His gaze traveled over her, and the edges of his lips ticked up. “Please, Lucy. I need a favor. And you look like you need caffeine. Where do you keep the coffee?”

She crossed her arms across her chest. “At Starbucks.”

He tossed her an annoyed look and brushed past her to the kitchen.

Ugh. “Fine. To the coffee. Not the marriage.” She followed him into her kitchen where he snagged the tin of blonde roast off the counter.

“Coffee liners?” he asked.

“Use your sock,” she replied sweetly. She didn’t do controlling. Not with men. Not in life.

He dug through her cupboards. “You always this grumpy in the morning?”

She grumbled under her breath.

“I’ll tell you what. You go do whatever you do to wake up.” He turned and stepped toward her to trace his fingers intimately along her arms, leaving a trail of goose bumps behind.

Unable to move, she stared at his warm hands against her bare flesh.

He leaned into her, all sexy stubble and man. “I’ll make coffee.” His gaze rested on her mouth, which at some point had parted against her will. She promptly shut it.

“Then we can talk about our trip to Twin Lakes.” He gave a squeeze and released her.

Full-bodied with an extra shot of persistence was apparently on her menu this morning. “I have to work, I’ve got a cat, and there are three thousand other reasons I’m not going with you.”

“Let’s talk after you resurrect Happy Lucy. Shower, meditate, whatever you usually do…then coffee.” He returned to rummaging through her cupboards.

She stared at him, scruffy, delicious, and in her kitchen. The universe had a messed up sense of humor.

“You getting that shower going or are you waiting for me to take one with you?” he asked without turning around.

She scowled at his ridiculously attractive back for a beat. It wasn’t fair that even his back was sexy. Her gaze traveled lower to his shorts. Over his ass. His legs. His calves.
He cleared his throat. She glanced up quickly to meet his…dimples.

“I’ll come, too, then?” His lips formed the husky words, mesmerizing her.

He took a step forward, the tin of coffee still in his grip.

She froze, certain the look on her face must’ve mirrored an early-morning deer meeting the headlights of a Ferrari. Like, if she was gonna get hit by a car, might as well be a good one.

Oh boy, was she about to get run over.

She licked at her lips.

His gaze fell to them, mouth parted, eyes flared.

Next, please.

She noped right out of there. Turned and bolted for the bathroom, ensuring the lock on the door clicked behind her.

Head in her hands, she slumped against the thin wood panel on the wall beside the cracked tub.

She was officially hiding from William in her bathroom. Not because he recommended she shower. Nope, she needed to wake up. Her hair needed shampoo. And she had lusty irritation to rinse down the drain.

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Friday, August 17, 2018

The Daemoniac by Kat Ross ~ Review

Title: The Daemoniac (Dominion Mysteries #1)
Author: Kat Ross
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Length: 334 pages
Publisher: Acorn
Release Date: October 12, 2016
Source: Review Request
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

It's August of 1888, just three weeks before Jack the Ripper will begin his grisly spree in the London slum of Whitechapel, and another serial murderer is stalking the gas-lit streets of New York. With taunting messages in backwards Latin left at the crime scenes and even more inexplicable clues like the fingerprints that appear to have been burned into one victim's throat, his handiwork bears all the hallmarks of a demonic possession.

But consulting detective Harrison Fearing Pell is convinced her quarry is a man of flesh and blood. Encouraged by her uncle, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry hopes to make her reputation by solving the bizarre case before the man the press has dubbed Mr. Hyde strikes again.

From the squalor of the Five Points to the high-class gambling dens of the Tenderloin and the glittering mansions of Fifth Avenue, Harry and her best friend, John Weston, follow the trail of a remorseless killer, uncovering a few embarrassing secrets of New York's richest High Society families along the way. Are the murders a case of black magic—or simple blackmail? And will the trail lead them closer to home than they ever imagined?

The Daemoniac moved a little slow for me, even though there was a lot going on. I felt like the mystery was overly convoluted. There was so much running around that it seemed fairly aimless at times, with nothing to show for their trouble. When the mystery is finally solved, it was somewhat anticlimactic. I expected something massive and huge, and it just seemed to fizzle in my opinion.

The characters were a lot of fun though. Harry, the younger sister of a famous detective, takes on a case, enlisting the help of her friend, John Weston. The banter between these two characters is great. I looked forward to their conversations, both about the case and not. 

I don't think I'll be continuing the series. However, the book is very well written with excellent characters. If you enjoy a more drawn out mystery, this may be one for you.

*I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of this book*

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Only Dead on the Inside by James Breakwell ~ Review

Title: Only Dead on the Inside: A Parent's Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse
Author: James Breakwell
Genre: Nonfiction, Comedy
Length: 200 pages
Publisher: Benbella Books
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

It's not easy being a parent these days. There are bills to pay. Kids to feed. And hordes of undead monsters to keep at bay.

There are plenty of guides out there about how to survive the zombie apocalypse. All of them assume readers are young, fit, and unencumbered by children. In that scenario, the only living humans left will be smug, outdoorsy Millennials. That's hell on earth, even without the zombies.

Only Dead on the Inside is the answer for the rest of us.

Written by professional comedy writer and amateur father-of-four James Breakwell (@XplodingUnicorn), Only Dead on the Inside blends traditional parenting advice with zombie survival tips, bringing together two totally unrelated genres in a book no one asked for but everyone needs.

This step-by-step manual teaches you how to raise happy, healthy children in a world overrun by the undead. Motivated moms and dads want it all, and that won't change at the end of the world. There's no reason you can't be a zombie killing machine AND parent of the year, but you have to work for it.

If you want to make sure your family is apocalypse-ready, Only Dead on the Inside is your best--and only--chance at survival. No pressure, but if you don't read this book, your children will die.

I first discovered the comedy of James Breakwell in Twitter when a friend re-tweeted a post from @XplodingUnicorn. His tweets quickly became a welcome comedic break from the day. I couldn't pass up his first book - a look at parenting in the zombie apocalypse.

First off, I forgive the two really bad typos. They made me giggle this time instead of annoying me. Second, while I really really wanted to read this straight through, I highly recommend taking a break between chapters. You'll want to make it last as long as you can. Each chapter takes a unique zombie-apocalypse-style look at parenting and how to make sure you (and maybe your kids) survive. On the surface, this may sound a bit ridiculous, but if you pay really close attention, you'll find crazy words of wisdom you never expected. Plus, you will be far more prepared should the zombie apocalypse actually happen.

Filled with useful graphs, cartoons, and strategies, Only Dead on the Inside is a book I recommend to just about everyone I meet now. I even read some of it to my fifteen-year-old, who promptly rolled her eyes and left the room, which is high praise indeed.

Breakwell's dry humor was quite refreshing and I still look forward to his tweets, now his newsletter, and I hear he has more on the way with a variety of projects.

Monday, August 13, 2018

A Second Chance at Love by L.K. Shaw ~ Review

Title: A Second Chance at Love
Author: L.K. Shaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Length: 90 pages
Publisher: Independent
Release Date: October 20, 2017
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

An abusive ex-boyfriend had broken Callie Foster down, but she’d rebuilt herself. When she started a flirtation during the beginning of her three-week vacation, she felt a connection she hadn’t felt in five long years. She knew her feelings were reciprocated, but he had pushed her away. Imagine her surprise when, over a week later in Myrtle Beach, she runs into him again.

Kyle Harper, a Veteran amputee, has lost everyone he’s ever cared about. When he began to feel something for Callie, he pushed her away before she could leave him like everyone else in his life had. When he heads to Myrtle Beach for a yearly get together with his military buddies, he stumbles upon Callie. 

Can Callie show him that she’s not the kind of woman to leave her man behind? Can Kyle open his heart to her, leaving himself vulnerable?

A Second Chance at Love is a really quick novella, I think I read in one night. So, being a novella, I didn't expect tons of depth because there just aren't enough pages. But somehow, L.K. Shaw managed to cram some wonderful character development into about 90 pages or so (per Amazon). 

The first part of the story left me a little confused. When Kyle and Callie first meet it just seemed a little weird, but the meeting was necessary (if a bit awkward) to set up their second chance in Myrtle Beach. This was really where the story seemed to start for me. As they mostly danced around their attraction - each wanting to avoid it for different reasons at first - they ended up coming closer together. They built up a trust and got to know each other a bit before jumping in the sheets.

I wish there could have been more - a comment I often make with novellas - but only because I loved the characters so much that I wanted to see them more. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The New Dark by Lorraine Thomson ~ Review

Title: The New Dark (The Dark Times Trilogy #1)
Author: Lorraine Thomson
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Length: 221 pages
Publisher: Bastei Entertainment
Release Date: November 1, 2017
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

"She thought she knew who she was and where she came from. Then her home was destroyed. Her brother lost amongst the ashes. And the boy she loves vanished. She owed her own survival to a mutant — the very forces behind the destruction. Now Sorrel will never be the same again."

There is no "Before", there is only "Now". Because now there’s no internet, no TV, no power grid. Food is scarce, and the world’s a hostile place. But Sorrel lives a quiet life in the tiny settlement of Amat. It’s all she’s ever known ...

Until a gang of marauding mutants destroys the village, snatching her brother Eli, and David, her boyfriend. Sorrel sets out after them, embarking on a journey fraught with danger. Can she survive? The only thing that keeps her going is Eli and David. They are out there somewhere. They must be alive. And if she has her way, she will find them.

The New Dark introduces an interesting, if confusing, world. A world where there is no technology and humans live in small villages working to survive. When a group of mutants attack Sorrel's village and kidnap those they don't kill, Sorrel follows them trying to rescue her little brother and David. This is a physical journey as well as a symbolic one. Sorrel will have to leave behind not just her innocent life in the village, but her prejudices and fears as well. When she arrives at the largest city she's ever seen, she will discover that not all humans are good and not all mutants are bad. The trick is trying to tell which is which.

This story was a bit of a mixed bag for me. At times very exciting and I couldn't get enough, others it began to drag and I feel like the pacing could have been spaced more effectively. While I enjoyed Sorrel's journeys, I feel as if she never actually accomplished anything in the first book. Every step forward, every ally made, meant one step back and an ally lost. I didn't have a sense of hope at the end of the first book to make me look forward to the second.

*I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of this book*

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

A Snowbound Scandal by Jessica Lemmon ~ Review

Title: A Snowbound Scandal
Author: Jessica Lemmon
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Length: 224 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Desire
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

As the snow falls, her touch sets him aflame... "I don't want you to leave." Texas billionaire Chase Ferguson has one regret: leaving Miriam Andrix to protect her from his public life. When a snowstorm strands her in his mountain mansion, their passion reignites, and it's too hot to resist! But reality--and scandal--arrives with the thaw. Chase turned his back on happiness once. Will he fight for what he truly wants this time?

A Snowbound Scandal is a second-chance (we think we're) opposites attract story. Mimi Andrix is an environmentalist that loves the outdoors and teaching kids about what they can do to protect the environment. On the other hand, Chase Ferguson is the son of an oil family and is now deep into politics - but he's one of the good ones.

With a little bit of holiday spirit and a little bit of "I'm going to give you a piece of my mind," Mimi heads to Chase's vacation mansion with a Thanksgiving dinner so he won't be alone eating frozen food for the holiday. Stranded at his house by a snowstorm, Mimi and Chase decide to make the best of the circumstances and, well, this is a romance - so one thing leads to another - but eventually they part ways again. At least for a little while

There were only a few points of the story that I had a hard time with - possibly because I did not read the rest of the series and one of the side stories seemed to carry over from another book. Outside of this one small thing, the story does very well as a standalone holiday romance. I loved Mimi, her desire to do the right thing, and her ability to not really care what anyone else thought. Chase was a bit of a stick in the mud, but in the end I enjoyed seeing a more spontaneous and softer side.

I love that A Snowbound Scandal is more of a winter-theme than a true Christmas theme.  While the holidays (mostly Thanksgiving) are mentioned, it's more about the snowstorm and being snowed in with the one that got away.

*I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of this book*

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Designer by Marius Gabriel ~ Review

Title: The Designer
Author: Marius Gabriel
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Length: 338 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: October 1, 2017
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

In 1944, newly married Copper Reilly arrives in Paris soon after the liberation. While the city celebrates its freedom, she’s stuck in the prison of an unhappy marriage. When her husband commits one betrayal too many, Copper demands a separation.
Alone in Paris, she finds an unlikely new friend: an obscure, middle-aged designer from the back rooms of a decaying fashion house whose timid nature and reluctance for fame clash with the bold brilliance of his designs. His name is Christian Dior.
Realising his genius, Copper urges Dior to strike out on his own, helping to pull him away from his insecurities and towards stardom. With just a camera and a typewriter, she takes her own advice and ventures into the wild and colourful world of fashion journalism.
Soon Copper finds herself torn between two very different suitors, questioning who she is and what she truly wants. As the city rebuilds and opulence returns, can Copper make a new, love-filled life for herself?
The Designer shows a side of the Paris fashion world that isn't often seen - a side of Paris after the liberation that isn't often seen. American Copper Reilly remains in Paris after separating from her husband and finds herself collecting a rather odd group of friends, beginning with an obscure fashion designer named Christian Dior.

We may all know the name of Christian Dior now, but when the story begins he's just another designer at a fashion house. Copper and Christian's stories of finding their way run somewhat parallel as they both give independence a try with varying degrees of success. Copper's life is filled with eccentric people, and she soon learns that everyone has a secret.

While this book isn't a wild and crazy adventure or a romance for the ages, it drew me in and held me there. I wanted to walk alongside with Copper as she explored the city around her, made friends, learned life lessons, and experienced real love.