Tuesday, December 12, 2017

New Release! It Takes Two to Tumble by Cat Sebastian #Giveaway


It Takes Two to Tumble by Cat Sebastian
Series Seducing the Sedgwicks
Genre Adult; Historical Romance; LGBTQ Romance
Publisher Avon Impulse
Publication Date December 12, 2017


ABOUT THE BOOK
Some of Ben Sedgwick’s favorite things:
• Helping his poor parishioners
• Baby animals
• Shamelessly flirting with the handsome Captain Phillip Dacre

After an unconventional upbringing, Ben is perfectly content with the quiet, predictable life of a country vicar, free of strife or turmoil. When he’s asked to look after an absent naval captain’s three wild children, he reluctantly agrees, but instantly falls for the hellions. And when their stern but gloriously handsome father arrives, Ben is tempted in ways that make him doubt everything.

Some of Phillip Dacre’s favorite things:
• His ship
• People doing precisely as they're told
• Touching the irresistible vicar at every opportunity

Phillip can’t wait to leave England’s shores and be back on his ship, away from the grief that haunts him. But his children have driven off a succession of governesses and tutors and he must set things right. The unexpected presence of the cheerful, adorable vicar sets his world on its head and now he can’t seem to live without Ben’s winning smiles or devastating kisses.

In the midst of runaway children, a plot to blackmail Ben’s family, and torturous nights of pleasure, Ben and Phillip must decide if a safe life is worth losing the one thing that makes them come alive.




Excerpt:
After the fact, Phillip thought he might have handled the situation a bit more gracefully if the children hadn’t been in a tree. But he was not at his best, having walked the distance from the coaching inn to the house, with each step growing more disoriented by the sheer familiarity of the terrain. Surely the place ought to have changed. But every rock and tree aligned precisely with memories Phillip hadn’t even realized he still had.
Despite having sent a messenger ahead with the approximate time of his arrival, the children were not waiting in the hall to greet him. Of course they wouldn’t be, he told himself. That had been Caroline’s doing, and she was gone. Their failure to appear was just further proof of how badly Phillip’s intervention was needed. He needed to get to work turning them into well-behaved, competent midshipmen. Children, he corrected himself. Yes, children.
The servant who opened the door told Phillip he’d find the children in the orchard with the vicar. Phillip found this surprising, as nothing in Ernestine’s final letter had indicated religiosity as part of the children’s reign of terror. But instead of discovering the children at work in prayer or singing hymns, he found them high up in a cherry tree.
The plain fact of the matter was that children did not belong in trees, at least not when they ought to be in the hall awaiting their father’s return. Nor did vicars belong in trees at any time whatsoever. He might not have much experience with either, and thank God for it, but he knew trees were not the natural habitat of either class of person. He had expected to see his children for the first time in two years in a setting that was slightly less arboreal. Somewhere he could properly see them and they could properly see him and they could all say whatever the hell they were supposed to say in this situation without Caroline to manage things. Instead all he got was a glimpse of booted feet vanishing higher into the branches accompanied by the sound of stifled laughter.
The vicar spotted him first, and promptly swung down from the tree to land at Phillip’s feet. At least, Phillip assumed it was the vicar, and not some stray stable hand who had taken to capering about the orchard. But didn’t vicars wear uniforms of some sort? Special hats or black coats? The chaplain on the ship always had. This fellow was in his shirtsleeves, and if that weren’t bad enough, his sleeves were rolled up. The chaplain had never done that. The chaplain had been about sixty. And bald. This fellow had wheat-colored hair that needed a cut and freckles all over his face. He was nothing like the chaplain. Unacceptable.
“Oh damn,” the vicar said. Phillip gritted his teeth. Swearing was another thing the chaplain had never done. “I mean drat,” the man said, his freckled face going pink. “Bother. You must be Mr. Dacre.”
“Captain Dacre,” Phillip said frostily. This fellow had to go. No discipline. No sense of decorum. No wonder the children ran amok if they spent time in this man’s company. “You have the advantage of me,” he said, not bothering to conceal his frown. He never did.
“Ben Sedgwick,” the vicar said, smiling in a lopsided, bashful way. He stuck his hand out, and Phillip had no choice but to take it. The vicar’s hand was warm and his grip was firm, and Phillip’s gaze automatically drifted down to the man’s exposed forearm, sun-burnished and dusted with light hair.
“Thank you, Mr. Sedgwick,” Phillip said. “You may take yourself off.” His effort to dismiss this careless young vicar was interrupted by a rustle of leaves and the thud of a child landing at his feet.

The child was tall, lanky, and excessively rumpled. “Edward,” Phillip said, briefly startled by the changes a lapse of two years wrought in children. Phillip had last seen his older son as a coltish child of eleven. Now Phillip could discern two things—one, that he looked very much like Caroline, and two, that he was not best pleased to see his father. For an instant, Phillip could hardly blame him. Phillip had never much enjoyed seeing his own father either. When the navy had taken his own father away for years at a time, Phillip had rather thought they had all been the better for it.
He held out his hand and noticed the barest hesitation before his son took it. “You look so much like—”
“I know I look like Mama,” Edward said coolly, dropping his father’s hand. “I have a looking glass.” His scowl was so intent that Phillip opened his mouth to scold the boy. “Mr. Sedgwick,” Edward said, turning to the vicar, “I’m going to finish my history lesson.” Without waiting for a response from Sedgwick or so much as a by-your-leave from Phillip himself, the child dashed off towards the house.
While Phillip had always striven to keep order on his ship in less brutal ways, some captains wouldn’t have hesitated to have boys flogged for even less blatant insubordination. Phillip swallowed his anger and turned his attention to the tree, where he could see two pairs of dangling feet.
“Margaret,” Phillip called up into the tree. “James.”
“Oh, they won’t come down,” Sedgwick said cheerfully. “Not a chance.”
“Excuse me?”
“I wouldn’t even bother calling them. They’ll stay up there until the sun sets or until the spirit moves them otherwise.” He seemed utterly undisturbed by this. His eyes were actually sparkling, for God’s sake.
“And you permit this?”
Sedgwick’s brow furrowed. This was the first lapse in the blithe and idiotic good cheer he had displayed since Phillip’s arrival. “Well, I don’t know what you expect me to do about it. Rope them like a couple of stray sheep? They’re safer up there than they are getting into whatever devilry they might seek out elsewhere. Really,” he said, lowering his voice and leaning close in a way that made Phillip instinctively mirror the pose until he realized what he was doing and straightened up. Proximity was the last thing he needed with this man. “The tree’s been a godsend. They haven’t been capering about the rooftops even once since they discovered how climbable the cherry trees are.”
Phillip blinked. “What I meant,” he said slowly, “was that perhaps you would like to tell them to come down.”
“Tell them?” the vicar repeated, as if Phillip had suggested a satanic ritual. “Won’t do a blessed thing other than inspire them to more mischief, I’m afraid. No, no, leave them safely up there, and when they’re hungry they’ll come inside.”
“Thank you for everything you’ve done,” Phillip said in precisely the tone he’d use towards a sailor about to be assigned morning watch for the foreseeable future. “But now that I’ve returned I’ll see to engaging a proper tutor.”
The man had the nerve to look hurt. Really, what had he expected? If Phillip had wanted his children to run about like South Sea pirates, he could have stayed on his ship where he belonged, thank you very much. But instead he would hire a tutor for the boys and a governess for Margaret. And when they were ready, he’d send them off to school, where they belonged.
“About that,” the vicar said slowly. “I’m not sure you’ll find a tutor. They’ve run through a good half dozen and I fear that well has run quite dry.”
“A half dozen!” Ernestine hadn’t mentioned that in her last letter. Or at least he was fairly certain she hadn’t. He knew there had been some trouble engaging suitable help, but quite possibly she had obscured the details. Well, it was a good thing he was here, then. He would see to it that his household was as it ought to be, that his children were on a safe course, and then he’d go back to sea. Two months. He had turned far more insalubrious characters into perfectly disciplined first-rate sailors in less time than that, hadn’t he? He was used to commanding dozens of men in clockwork precision. Surely he could make a couple of children—his own children, at that—fall in line.
“Never mind that,” he said. “I have everything in hand. Good day,” he added when the vicar didn’t seem inclined to take the hint and leave.
“Good luck,” the vicar said, gathering his discarded outer garments and carelessly dropping his hat onto his head.
Phillip thought he heard the man laugh as he made his way towards the house.
Ben gave it fifteen minutes before Captain Dacre came begging for help. Half an hour at the outside.
Likely as not, the captain would be tied to a burning post before Ben had his valise packed.



My Review:
Phillip has spent most of his life at sea, as the Captain, he knows his place and is effective in managing his people. When his ship finally berths after two years, his shore leave allows him to go home for awhile, a home where letters have informed him that his wife has died and his three children are running wild. 
Ben enjoys his job as the vicar; it allows him to see to everyone. When he gets tasked with taking care of the absent Captain's children, he may be in over head. 
Phillip and Ben haven't been able to fully admit certain truths to themselves but as their relationship grows, they begin to become whole through each other. 

Phillip hadn't planned on lusting after the vicar. 

The first in a new series, the author introduces us to Phillip, the stern rigid naval captain and Ben, the affable mellow vicar. Both characters were very contained people in their own way. Phillip has dyslexia but has managed to figure out how to hide it and be effective as captain and he also carries around some melancholy which seems to be due to not being able to fully be his self. Ben had to essentially be the father to his brothers as theirs ascribed to a very bohemian philosophy that led to a lack of structure or responsibility. Both acknowledged their attraction to men but kept it in a contained box that as long as they didn't make it personal, putting real feeling in to it, they could lead "normal" lives. When they meet each other and start to develop those more emotional feelings, beyond just sexual, hard truths have to be recognized. 

But comfort and ease suddenly seemed like pale and flimsy things. 

I loved how Ben and Phillip's personalities played off each other. Ben's effortless charm and lightness cracked open Phillip's hard walls and helped him be at ease more, while Phillip's strength and willing to prod at Ben helped Ben release his more passionate side. They became more themselves through the other and there is nothing more romantic than that. For how much Phillip's children played a part in the story plot, I thought they were strangely more absent from the story than warranted. We get some scenes with Phillip bonding but I never felt like I knew them; they felt like obvious plot elements instead of woven into the story. I also thought Phillip's relationship with his former Lt. McCarthy needed to be flushed out more. It started off like there was a big emotional attachment but then it seemed to be more on the physical side, not quite fully explained well enough. 

"When we're together it feels right. I want to go down that path and see what's there."
"With me?" It was a hoarse whisper.
"Together."
 


This is my first book by this author and I was impressed with the ease of her writing flow, how secondary characters felt complete and added so much to the story, and the historical feel. This had faint whisperings of the Sound of Music to it and I could read all day of Ben taking some starch out of the Captain and Phillip igniting some fire in the vicar. There's a slow burn feel as their relationship starts off challenging, to tentative, to heated and I enjoyed how they both were, somewhat, virgins not only emotionally but physically and we got see them explore and learn together. There's also a hot desk scene that you won't want to miss. 

I missed interaction scenes with Phillip's children to get to know them better which in turn would have created more depth in Phillip's character, the middle seemed to meander a smidgen as the outer story took over more, but I delighted in Ben and Phillip's relationship. There's some bitter sweetness to the ending as Phillip and Ben don't quite get the full happily ever after they deserve due to the time period and country they live in, but they worked for and got more than most do. The author's talent with emotions will have me searching out her books from here on out.


 Buy the Book


Avon Romance https://goo.gl/uuuv6U

Barnes & Noble https://goo.gl/X2ZMjP

Google Play https://goo.gl/egZeyN




ABOUT CAT SEBASTIAN

Cat Sebastian lives in a swampy part of the South with her husband, three kids, and two dogs. Before her kids were born, she practiced law and taught high school and college writing. When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s doing crossword puzzles, bird watching, and wondering where she put her coffee cup.




AUTHOR LINKS
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/catsebastianwrites/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CatSWrites
Goodreads: https://goo.gl/kJNw5X
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2y6QUGC
Newsletter: https://tinyletter.com/catsebastian


TOUR WIDE GIVEAWAY DETAILS

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of The Ruin of a Rake by Cat Sebastian.  This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance.  Giveaway ends 12/22/2017 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one 



Monday, December 11, 2017

Menu Monday

Hope a recipe entices you to try it :)






















I think I added too much oil (used Canola) and it took me a slightly burned and not cooked enough one to get a good cook. They kind of didn't hold together very well for me either but I made these with pancakes and just let them fall apart and called them hashbrowns instead of cakes. C'est la vie! Since I was doing a brinner thing, I just drizzled them with some maple syrup but I can see a green goddess or hummus tasting really good. 
Taste:  B
Ease to Make:  Hardest part was grating the sweet potato and getting the little poops to stick together. Took only 10mins or so, super easy.



















Even though it didn't call for it in the recipe, I took the visual from the picture and sliced up a lime and put the slices on top of the salmon and peppers on the sheet pan. It gave everything a great taste. I also didn't have cojita cheese and instead used feta, still good! These were a simple, clean, and great subtle taste meal. Next time, I'd serve a Corona on the side or a big margarita. Definitely will keep for a quick easy breezy summer meal.
Taste:  B+
Ease to Make:  Super easy, hardest part was cutting up the three peppers. Probably took around a half hour (cut up peppers during salmon defrosting).


Honey Garlic Turkey Meatballs















Probably can consider this my first Menu Monday fail, the taste was pretty bland. If I was going to make it again (spoiler alert: I won't be making this again) I would double the honey garlic sauce and use the other half to dip the meatballs in.
Taste:  D
Ease to Make:  Very easy, just mixing and mashing up ingredients with turkey and baking them up. I think it took around a half hour.


Rum Glazed Eggnog Bread Pudding















So disappointed in this one, I was looking forward to it all week! When I started making it and added the Tbs of nutmeg, I started to get rumblings of worry and then when the "splash" of rum took much more to get close to a thin icing, I knew I was in trouble. The bf liked it but the bread had way too much of a heavy taste because of all the nutmeg for me. I had to add enough rum (not my favorite alcohol) to the icing that the smell made it really off putting to me. I thought there would be a hint of rum and more of an eggnog taste. The disappoint was real, people.
Taste:  D-
Ease to Make:  Not hard to make but time consuming, I think around an hour or little more. I don't know, I'm bitter I didn't enjoy it so when I think back it took forever to make, lol.


BBQ Ranch Chicken Casserole






















After my two failures, I had high expectations for this one and it sort of made it. I went with a sweet and tangy bbq sauce and I think that was a good choice, mixed well with the Monterrey jack cheese. This was good but I couldn't help feeling like something was missing. The bf crumbled ritz crackers on top and really liked that. I don't, if you could figure out a seasoning to mix in, it might make this go from ok to great.
Taste:  C
Ease to Make:  Easy but time consuming, you have to cook the chicken and noodles before mixing it all together and then putting it back in the oven for 20mins. Other than that, shredded the chicken was the most labor. Around an hour and 15mins to make.

Try any good recipes this week?

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Review: It Takes Two to Tumble

It Takes Two to Tumble It Takes Two to Tumble by Cat Sebastian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Phillip has spent most of his life at sea, as the Captain, he knows his place and is effective in managing his people. When his ship finally berths after two years, his shore leave allows him to go home for awhile, a home where letters have informed him that his wife has died and his three children are running wild.
Ben enjoys his job as the vicar; it allows him to see to everyone. When he gets tasked with taking care of the absent Captain's children, he may be in over head.
Phillip and Ben haven't been able to fully admit certain truths to themselves but as their relationship grows, they begin to become whole through each other.

Phillip hadn't planned on lusting after the vicar.

The first in a new series, the author introduces us to Phillip, the stern rigid naval captain and Ben, the affable mellow vicar. Both characters were very contained people in their own way. Phillip has dyslexia but has managed to figure out how to hide it and be effective as captain and he also carries around some melancholy which seems to be due to not being able to fully be his self. Ben had to essentially be the father to his brothers as theirs ascribed to a very bohemian philosophy that led to a lack of structure or responsibility. Both acknowledged their attraction to men but kept it in a contained box that as long as they didn't make it personal, putting real feeling in to it, they could lead "normal" lives. When they meet each other and start to develop those more emotional feelings, beyond just sexual, hard truths have to be recognized.

But comfort and ease suddenly seemed like pale and flimsy things.

I loved how Ben and Phillip's personalities played off each other. Ben's effortless charm and lightness cracked open Phillip's hard walls and helped him be at ease more, while Phillip's strength and willing to prod at Ben helped Ben release his more passionate side. They became more themselves through the other and there is nothing more romantic than that. For how much Phillip's children played a part in the story plot, I thought they were strangely more absent from the story than warranted. We get some scenes with Phillip bonding but I never felt like I knew them; they felt like obvious plot elements instead of woven into the story. I also thought Phillip's relationship with his former Lt. McCarthy needed to be flushed out more. It started off like there was a big emotional attachment but then it seemed to be more on the physical side, not quite fully explained well enough.

"When we're together it feels right. I want to go down that path and see what's there."
"With me?" It was a hoarse whisper.
"Together."


This is my first book by this author and I was impressed with the ease of her writing flow, how secondary characters felt complete and added so much to the story, and the historical feel. This had faint whisperings of the Sound of Music to it and I could read all day of Ben taking some starch out of the Captain and Phillip igniting some fire in the vicar. There's a slow burn feel as their relationship starts off challenging, to tentative, to heated and I enjoyed how they both were, somewhat, virgins not only emotionally but physically and we got see them explore and learn together. There's also a hot desk scene that you won't want to miss.

I missed interaction scenes with Phillip's children to get to know them better which in turn would have created more depth in Phillip's character, the middle seemed to meander a smidgen as the outer story took over more, but I delighted in Ben and Phillip's relationship. There's some bitter sweetness to the ending as Phillip and Ben don't quite get the full happily ever after they deserve due to the time period and country they live in, but they worked for and got more than most do. The author's talent with emotions will have me searching out her books from here on out.


View all my reviews

Friday, December 8, 2017

Reading Update: 30%


Sedgwick lifted his eyebrows questioningly.
Phillip lifted one of his in return, and moved his hand to cover Sedgwick’s. They were alone, and it was only hands, innocent to any observer, he told himself.

The Romancies - Part 2: Favorite Secondary Character



*Books eligible could be published in any year, they just had to be read by me in 2017.
Clicking on book cover brings you to my review of the book.


Nominees:

27416037  9447878  29422692

215643  33574182  110296

64950  28439648  35896539

813099


1.  King - A Duke to Remember by Kelly Bowen

This is a quote in my review about my thoughts on King:  "He seems just shady, heartless, and honorable enough to knock my socks off." He's a top anti-hero authors put in the wings and play with reader's emotions in will they or won't they be redeemed. I'm jonesing for his story.

2.  Chayden - Born of Shadows by Sherrilyn Kenyon

The heroine's brother and an assassin, pirate, etc. combo. His charisma jumped off the page at me and I can't wait to read his story.

3.  Gabe and Eve - Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai

Not quite existent relationships can be a secondary character, right? Knowing that they are indeed paired up in this series' book 3 has me DYING to read their story. She's shy and he's bulky teddy bear. NEED.

4.  Cast - Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh

The whole world and cast Singh has created here steals the show from the main romance. I was infinitely fascinated with each character and can't wait to continue on in the series to get each and everyone's story.

5.  The Rook - The Scot Beds His Wife by Kerrigan Byrne

He's has been talked about before in the series and here we get an appearance by him. His shady dealings and mechanisms seem to have affected the characters and their lives throughout the series. I'm excited to learn the story behind this secretive pirate.

6.  Aled - Truly by Mary Balogh

Childhood friend to the hero, he helps the hero gain a footing as he comes back home. Aled is shy but also bold in his strength; he's the friend who tells it like it is, without hate or anger towards the hero but with a calm, open your eyes and educate yourself. Aled also features in a secondary romance that was so beautifully emotionally painful. Such a great character who added depth and emotion to the story and brought out nuances in the hero.

7.  Einstein - Watchers by Dean Koontz

This could be cheating a little bit because Einstein could be argued to be a main character. He's a dog who was scientifically experimented with and can think just about on the level of a human. I don't know if anything needs to be said why I picked him because of my already cemented crazy dog lady status but he was smart, funny, cute, and improved all the relationships around him.

8.  Rahul and Kimi - A Change of Heart by Sonali Dev

This couple's love/hate relationship positively vibrated off the pages and did a little bit of show stealing. Rahul is a detective trying to work a blackmarket case with some high-up conspirators and Kimi may only be alive because of those conspirators. There is obviously a deep and hurtful past here with heaps of passion and I can't wait to read their story. 

9.  Jo Pennington - Romancing the Scot by May McGoldrick

The sister to the hero, its revealed that she is in fact adopted and because of who her mother is thought to be is looked down upon by society. She has a broken engagement with a man who looks like might be coming back into the picture. Her vulnerability, anger, and strength had her shining and I'm looking forward to her story.

10.  Setting of Akora Island - Dream Island by Josie Litton

I was lost into the world the author created with such lush and detailed descriptions of the island and their culture; it became a character in its own right to me. I felt transported and shows how greatly the story can be enhanced when the author takes the time to flesh out all the details.

*Honorable Mention - Super Volcano - Essential Beginnings by Kennedy Layne
Super Volcano, y'all!


Winner:

Aled

110296

Aled just improved the story so much, even created a side story and romance that almost stole the show. He's the epitome of what a secondary character can and should do, he brought out different facets in the hero and the story. 


2016 Winner

25317443

2015 Favorite Secondary Characters

2014 Favorite Secondary Characters

Who were your favorite secondary characters from 2017?

Next Tuesday, Best Scene...

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Review: Hero

Hero Hero by Samantha Young
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Clearly inspired by 50 Shades; no BDSM but plenty of ol' creepy possessiveness.

View all my reviews

Review: Whisper Falls

Whisper Falls Whisper Falls by Toni Blake
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thanks to Chumchum_88 for the great recommendation!

For some reason I kept thinking of this as a super gentle Kristen Ashley but with hero who can speak in full coherent sentences.
Super sweetheart hero who has painful past and left a biker gang. Writing and characters were some of the most natural I've ever read. Heroine had Crohn's disease which not often pops up in CR and was incorporated into her daily life. Hero and heroine had a sweet romance with some heat. I'll definitely be checking out other books in this series.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Romancies - Part 1: Best Cover

Like the Oscars but way more prestigious ;)

Glancing at the GoodReads Romance nominees and winner (same author for the 3rd yr in row? c'mon now) has me twitching again. So, you know what that means, I have to open my big fat mouth and talk about the books I think should get some recognition. After doing this a couple years in a row now, I really enjoy the wrap up to the year this gives me and reminiscing about all the great stories, lines, and moments romance books have given me. 

The books eligible could be published in any year, they simply had to be read by me in 2017. There will be 9 categories and I'm going to try and post them every Tuesday and Thursday, with the final category and wrap-up coming sometime after Christmas. 

Without further ado, let me kick off the award show tonight with BEST COVER
(click on cover for my review if I wrote one and if I didn't directed to GoodReads page)


Nominees:

27209422  311182  7747921

22328559  28439648  1210863

33574179  32148398  27015395

28109694  29422692  Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton



1.  Addicted by Elle Kennedy - I thought the cover perfectly captured the sexy rough and tumble vibe of the story. I like how the blue is eye catching but still manages to pull of a gritty feel. Even though I want to tell the hero to let that shirt go, the cover still entices me to pick up the book.

2.  These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer - It looks like a painting and helps give an authentic feel to it being a historical romance; I feel like the historical part is actually going to show up in the story. The pinks pop and if I had the book, I'd probably display it front cover facing out. 

3.  Seized by Love by Susan M. Johnson - Look, my first romances were Kathleen Woodiwiss, Rosemary Rogers, and the like. While I've been able to move on or better understand some of the problematic issues of these trailblazers, I can't let go of their dramatic covers. They sing to my soul and I get giddy thinking of the crazy pants ride that could be hidden inside. Thee Drama, y'all!

4.  The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr - This is eye catching simply for the fact it looks dark, intense, and fresh. I feel like the story is going to be paranormal fun and something new. 

5.  A Change of Heart by Sonali Dev - Her eye catches my eye. :)  This cover gives me the impression the heroine is going to be sly, adventurous, and daring. I'll sign up for that ride every time.

6.  Good Girls Do by Cathie Linz - This cover epitomizes what Chik-lit books should be:  fun, wild, and a little crazy. 

7.  The Right Kind of Rogue by Valerie Bowman - Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. The pretty pink, sweep of her dress, and the night time setting combine for one gorgeous cover. 

8.  Slow Burn by Pamela Clare - I had a fireman book cover make the nominee list last year, so, tradition? Again, come to mama lust Reasons at work here.

9.  Discovery of Desire by Susanne Lord - Adventure shouts from this cover. I, of course, instantly start imagining a The Mummy or Indiana Jones like ride awaiting and that makes this cover irresistible to me. 

10.  My Fair Princess by Vanessa Kelly - The coloring, such a pretty peach, draw my eye but what really has me itching to pick up the book is the way the hero is gripping her dress; there's some great trying to contain want and desire but failing.

11.  Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai - When I pick covers for this, I really try not to let my feelings for the story bleed over into my feelings on the cover; try to keep it strictly visual. I'm not sure I fully accomplished that here (this book will popping be up a lot in future categories). The couple are visually perfect for how I envisioned the hero and heroine (her tattoo!) and their sexy heat from a sort of tame neck kiss (no one's clothes are off and their hand placement is fairly innocent). The purplish words popping against the dark background and gah, just perfect. I feel like this was truly snapped while they were making out.

12.  Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton - I'm convinced this cover just plays Arabian Nights when you look at it because that is all I can hear. I want to pick this cover up because it is seducing me with its promise of adventure.


Winner:

#7 The Right Kind of Rogue

33574179

This cover was, again, too gorgeous for me not to name the winner. It is kind of visually why historical romance is my favorite sub-genre; the pretty dresses, sweeping romance, and fairy tale factor.



26114184





Feel free to share your favorite cover in the comments :)

Stay tuned, next category will be Favorite Secondary Character...

New Release! Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt #Giveaway


Once Upon a Christmas Eve (A Maiden Lane Novella) by Elizabeth Hoyt
From Forever Yours / $1.99 eBook


A heartwarming stand-alone novella from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Hoyt!

Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, really rather loathes Christmas. The banal cheerfulness. The asinine party games. And, worst of all, the obligatory trip to the countryside. His grandmother, however, loves the holidayand Adam loves his grandmother, so he’ll brave the fiercest snowstorm to please her. But when their carriage wheel snaps, they’re forced to seek shelter at the home of the most maddening, infuriating, and utterly beguiling woman he’s ever met . . .

Sarah St. John really rather loathes rakes. The self-satisfied smirks. The sly predatory gazes. Oh, and the constant witty banter rife with double meaning. But in the spirit of the season, she’ll welcome this admittedly handsome viscount into her home. But as the snowstorm rages, the Yule log crackles, and the tension rises, Sarah and Adam find themselves locked in a fiery, passionate kiss. If love is the true meaning of Christmas, it’s the one gift this mismatched pair can’t wait to unwrap.

The reason for the season is d'Arque




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Monday, December 4, 2017

Review: Once Upon a Christmas Eve

Once Upon a Christmas Eve Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Disillusioned early on about rakes, Sarah St. John has always given Adam Rutledge, Viscount d'Arque, the cold shoulder. When he shows up unexpectedly at her home and is forced to spend Christmas, the complicated feelings she's always had, start to get even more complicated.
Adam would do anything for his grandmother; even spend a week celebrating Christmas at the St. John residency. Thinking to entertain himself challenging Sarah, he soon finds it backfiring on him, as he's the one left feeling outgunned.

The last installment in the Maiden Lane series, you could easily pick this up as a standalone; you would miss an early glimpse of d'Arque in a previous book but there is really no connection to the series overall.

Sarah St. John should have been utterly forgettable.

This is a novella slightly under 100pgs and I'm here to tell you that you're going to end up feeling cheated. The weather is cold, there is a search for some holly and an ending Christmas Eve ball but I did think this lacked a solid holiday read feel. However, this doesn't matter because the reason for the season is d'Arque. Nothing else. The absolute caring way he treats his grandmother was shown brilliantly and provided some depth of character. His sheer sexiness though, steals the show. He's able to keep himself rather emotionally contained, except when he gets around Sarah and then we get to see cracks form in the fa├žade; I live for the cracks. He's sexy, smooth, sparking, and a bit unraveling when he's with her and I loved every second of it.

Sarah St. John loathed rakes.

Sarah was the perfect combination of stiff and melting when she was around d'Arque. Her past hurt helps us understand why she tries to keep d'Arque at a distance but it also ends up feeling rushed and forced as the emotional pain isn't given enough room to develop with the small page count. I loved how she stepped up to d'Arque's challenging but also how she softened to his touch. Her family round out the secondary characters and I missed seeing more interactions with her sisters as I think this would have filled out her character even more.

"Careful, sweetheart," he rasped in her ear, his breath brushing her neck, and it was strange because she could've sworn there was real concern in his voice. "you nearly fell at my feet just then."

There's some mini trials and tribulations going on in this novella but the core of the story and why you're going to want to read it, is the interaction between Sarah and d'Arque. They are the couple who give you shivers up and down your spine. They snap, spark, crash, and melt together in a way that make you want to reread their story as soon as you finish. I will spend more time of my life than is healthy wishing the author had chosen to write a full length novel for them. There's a point where d'Arque says:
"I want you." He fought to keep his voice level. Civilized. "In every way."
The way this is dragged out of him had me thinking of Sebastian St. Vincent. In a full novel, I think d'Arque would have seriously challenged St. Vincent in the eyes of many romance readers for favorite rake.

Hoyt is very good at small impactful emotions and outside the main couple's relationship, there is a scene where Sarah's sister starts to blame herself for a man's actions and after her family support, their mother says the line: "I shall have to warn my friends about him.”. This may be a case of what's in the news timing but this little scene hit me in the feels. The women's network; created out of necessity, caring, and bravery. In the past and present, sometimes we women have been the only recourse and this added scene is again one of the numerous reasons I read romance, it understands, tells, and celebrates us women.

Look, issues get brought up and moved on from quickly (d'Arque's parents' death) and the ending is so outrageously abrupt. Seriously, Hoyt gives us one of my favorite proposal lines ever and then slammed me into a "the end" wall. I loved what Hoyt gave me of d'Arque almost as much as I hated how little she gave me of d'Arque. At the end of the day though, if you're looking for a quick escape, d'Arque won't disappoint.

He broke their kiss and laid his forehead against hers. "Make me stop."
"I can't," she whispered.
"Then we're doomed," he said, his voice husky and low. "For I'm unable to stop myself. I want you. Day and night and all the time in between. I want you."


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Menu Monday

Welcome to the first Menu Monday! Hope a recipe entices you to try it :)

Vegan Tacos with Lentil Walnut Meat


 

I'm so happy to start with such a winner, I LOVED this one. Definitely don't skip on the sour cream (didn't remind me of sour cream at all but whatev) because it was delicious and added so much to the taste. I was kind of shocked at how much (roll with me here) the Lentil Walnut meat, well, looked like meat and kind of had the texture. The bf said it was really good for something trying to taste like meat. I count this as a Win :)
Taste:  A+
Ease to make:  Not hard and not incredibly time consuming, took me an hour I think.


White Chocolate Peppermint Fluff 















I like to make themed desserts during certain months. Finding Hershey's peppermint kisses might be a tad difficult in June, too. This was super yummy, I only got one bar of peppermint bark so I ended up adding about half of what the recipe requested of bark. I still think it had a strong peppermint taste. Bf and I got stomach aches the first night eating too much. Winner!
Taste:  A
Ease to make:  Very easy, but recipe does call for whole milk which some might not always have on hand. And like I mentioned, a pretty seasonal dessert as the peppermint kisses and bark might be hard to come by other times of year. 10 mins to make and needs to sit for 2hrs in fridge.
*If making it to take somewhere, I'd let it sit overnight, the peppermint red bled a little and created a pretty pink color. Three day max probably though as the marshmallows started to unravel a bit sitting in the pudding mixture, lol


Firecracker Salmon




















Salmon is one of my most favorite versatile meats. You can season and marinate it with just about anything, add some rice, and have a super yummy meal. This seemed a bit sweet but still had a nice hotness to it but if you lean more towards spicy, I'd add more hot sauce and red pepper flakes.
Taste:  B+
Ease to Make:  Very easy, it doesn't say to marinate salmon so that cuts back on time. Even without marinating, I thought it had a good taste. I wouldn't skip broiling, it slightly caramelized the sauce, which I love. Around 40mins to make; made sauce while salmon was defrosting.


Jalapeno Popper Deviled Eggs




















I try to make Wednesdays my app day, this is supposed to make Weds easy for me and give me something to snack on for two days. However, my apps usually turn into full meals, so my save some work for myself often fails. Not here, unless you wanted to get egg belly, I guess. I cut this recipe in half and they turned out great. I made 4 eggs for myself and then mixed in the chopped up bacon and made the rest for the bf. We were both fans. Nice touch of jalapeno spice from them and they kind of looked adorable with the sliced bacon and jalapeno decoration.
Taste:  B
Ease to Make:  25 mins counting the egg boiling time. Super easy!


Skinny Chicken Parm Sliders

















I just bought the 1lb chicken tenders from the refrigerator section, there ended up being two tenders per two normal size buns which was a good amount for us (ok, so, I ate half of the second and had to donate the second half to bf). Really good, kind of tasted like a chicken pizza sandwich. They were a bit too salty tasting for me and a bit too much Parmesan (I'm not the biggest fan).
Taste:  B
Ease to Make:  Pretty easy (sensing a trend yet with what recipes I pick out ;). I think this took about 40mins. Nothing that took mad skills, just baking and mixing!

Hope everyone can find a recipe to try!
Any recipes for me?