Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Review: The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand

Title: The Chocolate Touch
Author: Laura Florand
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Where to Buy:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

From the book:

La Vie en Chocolat

Dominique Richard's reputation says it all--wild past, wilder flavors, black leather and smoldering heat. Jaime Corey is hardly the first woman to be drawn to all that dark, delicious danger. Sitting in Dom's opulent chocolaterie in Paris day after day, she lets his decadent creations restore her weary body and spirit, understanding that the man himself is entirely beyond her grasp.

Until he touches her...

Chocolate, Dominique understands--from the biting tang of lime-caramel to the most complex infusions of jasmine, lemon-thyme, and cayenne. But this shy, freckled American who sits alone in his salon, quietly sampling his exquisite confections as if she can't get enough of them--enough of him--is something else. She has secrets too, he can tell. Of course if she really knew him, she would run.

Yet once you have spotted your heart's true craving, simply looking is no longer enough...

My review:

Jaime, having survived something (we're not told immediately what she suffered, but we know it's big), is seeking refuge in the best possible way - in Paris, with chocolate. She is, quite literally, feeding her soul with the food and city of love.

Dominique Richard, a French chocolatier who has the toughest outer shell but softest underbelly you can imagine, notices her in his shop and feels what she's doing with his chocolate. He's immediately taken with her and wonders about her story - why is she feeding her soul with his creations? (We're all wondering it at this point - I needed to know, there was no way I was putting this story down until I found out.)

This story pulled me in - from the descriptions of Paris, as seen through a beaten yet hopeful spirit, to the surprising concoctions of chocolate Dom comes up with in his shop (which are true reflections of him as a character), this book had me wishing for a trip to Paris and some really good chocolate in hand.

The ending of this novel had me sighing a happy sigh, but also was a conclusion that was realistic, understandable, and rational. I am one happy reader. :)

This novel is WONDERFUL. It was my first Laura Florand book, and I did not look up her other novels before reading this one.

SPOILER ALERT (for those new to this author):

Jaime is an American heiress who spent time in the Ivory Coast trying to make things better for the farmers. She was brutally beaten and almost lost her life - that is why she's in Paris; her sister lives there with her husband, a rival French chocolatier (see "The Chocolate Thief"). Jaime struggles with what she wants - to go back and help those who need it - and the very real fear that she'll again be targeted for violence against her ways. Her internal struggle is so close to the surface, you can feel it pulse throughout the novel. It's behind her actions, her inactions, and her words.

Disclaimer: I was provided a digital copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review: How to Marry a Highlander by Katharine Ashe

Title: How to Marry a Highlander
Author: Katharine Ashe
Publisher: Avon (HarperCollins)
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Where to Buy:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBook
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

From the book:

An intrepid lady takes on an impossible task to win an irresistible lord.

With seven troublesome half sisters to marry off, Duncan, the Earl of Eads, has one problem: he’s broke.

With the prospect of marriage to the pompous local curate, Miss Teresa Finch-Freeworth has one dream: to wed instead the handsome Highlander she saw at a ball.
How does a desperate lady convince a reluctant laird that she’s the perfect bride for him? She strikes a wager! If she can find seven husbands for seven sisters, the earl must marry her.

Duncan has no intention of wedding the meddlesome maiden, and he gives her a deadline even the most audacious matchmaker can’t meet—one month. But Teresa sets terms, too: with each bridegroom she finds, the earl must pay her increasingly intimate rewards . . .

My review:

The third book in Ashe's Falcon Club series is an historical romance novella that opens with Teresa doing something absolutely scandalous for her time period: She propositions a Scottish earl for his hand in marriage. When he declines her, she strikes a deal with him: if she finds husbands for all his sisters, he'll marry her. Teresa is worried she'll be betrothed to her town's curate, a dull and stiff man who seems determined to suck the life out of her. I was absolutely reminded of Mr. Collins from Pride & Prejudice - he fits a very specific character type, and Ashe employs this character well - he doesn't overpower the story or drag it down, but gives a slight sense of urgency to it.  Teresa, being very close to "unmarriageable age," has a very limited time to fulfill the wager and find seven husbands in order to land her own. 

Duncan is honorable in that he wants his sisters happy, and allows them a lot of freedom in their speech and actions (for the time period of the novel). I'm all for the strong older brother who allows his sisters to run roughshod over him, but it was a little out of my suspension of belief that these women would be presented in the ton society as they were portrayed. Again I was reminded of P&P when the two elder sisters were lovely and well-mannered, with the youngest being taciturn and a constant grouch - effective technique that made for some fun banter and a show of sisterly love. The only complaint I have with Duncan is the constant written accent - it's hard to read, and pulled me from the story a lot. I accepted he was from Scotland and scandalized by the secondary characters' reactions to his name; the accent was, in my opinion, overkill.

That being said, the story has a very nice overall arc; Teresa and Duncan's story is well-paced and the pair has some delightful reactions to each other. Teresa is confident in social situations that she's been trained for, but when she's alone with Duncan, she's clearly unsure and a bit lost. It's a great play off each other and actually countered the disbelief I held about Duncan and his sisters - Teresa is a woman I could envision living in 1800s England, and I really liked her. I wish she had a full novel - she was that wonderful.

This was a quick read with some great dialogue and with a story idea (wager on seven successful marriages) that I haven't before read. I loved Ashe's voice and writing style, and although think the characters are a bit too reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel, I've added her to my TBR (to be read) pile. The arc was flawless, the pacing was perfect, and some of the characters stayed with me well past the final page. 

About the Author
In 2012 Amazon chose Katharine’s How To Be a Proper Lady as one of the Ten Best Romances of the Year. Upon the publication of her debut in 2010, the American Library Association named Katharine among its “New Stars of Historical Romance”. She is a two-time nominee and 2011 winner of the Reviewers’ Choice Awards for Best Historical Romantic Adventure, and her novella A Lady’s Wish launched HarperCollins Publishers’ Avon Impulse imprint in 2011. Her books have been recommended by Woman’s World Magazine, Booklist, Library Journal, Barnes & Noble, the San Francisco & Sacramento Book Review, Durham County Libraries, and the Library of Virginia. 

Katharine lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her husband, son, dog, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of European history, she has made her home in California, Italy, France, and the northern US. She adores hearing from readers.

Author Links

Event organized by: Tasty Book Tours

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cover Reveal and Excerpt: CHASING MORGAN by Jennifer Ryan

Today, I am lucky enough to present the exclusive cover reveal for Chasing Morgan, Book 4 of the Hunter Series by Jennifer Ryan - a romantic suspense stunner due out October 8, 2013, from Avon Romance!

Below the cover reveal is an excerpt from the book - just a warning, after reading this, you may have a hard time waiting for October 8 to roll around!

And now for the cover reveal...



*...drum roll, please...*

Chapter One

One year ago…
Morgan’s fingers flew across the laptop keyboard propped on her knees. She took a deep breath, cleared her mind, and looked out past her pink-painted toes propped on the railing and across her yard to the densely wooded area at the edge of her property. Her mind’s eye found her guest winding his way through the trees. She still had time before Jack stepped out of the woods separating her land from his. She couldn’t wait to meet him.
Images, knowings, they just came to her. She’d accepted that part of herself a long time ago. As she got older, she’d learned to use her gift to seek out answers.
She finished her buy and sell orders and switched from her day trading page to check her psychic website and read the questions submitted by customers. She answered several quickly, letting the others settle in her mind until the answers came to her.
One stood out. The innocuous question about getting a job held an eerie vibe.
The familiar strange pulsation came over her. The world disappeared like a door slamming on reality. The images came to her like hammer blows, one right after the other, and she took the onslaught, knowing something important needed to be seen and understood.
An older woman lying in a bed, hooked up to a machine feeding her medication. Frail and ill, she had translucent skin and dark circles marring her pain-filled eyes. Her pain washed over Morgan like a tsunami. 
The woman yelled at someone, her face contorted into something mean and hateful. An unhappy woman – one who’d spent her whole life blaming others and trying to make them as miserable as her.
A pristine white pillow floating down, inciting panic, amplified to terror when it covered the woman’s face, her frail body swallowed by the sheets.
Morgan had an overwhelming feeling of suffocating.
The woman tried desperately to suck in a breath, but couldn’t. Unable to move her lethargic limbs, she lay terrified and helpless under his unyielding hands. Lights flashed on her closed eyelids.
Death came calling.
A man stood next to the bed holding the pillow like a shield. His mouth opened on a contorted, evil, hysterical laugh that rang in her ears and made her skin crawl. She squeezed her eyes closed to blot out his malevolent image and thoughts.
The word rang in her head as the terrifying emotions overtook her.
Morgan threw up a wall in her mind, blocking the onslaught of disturbing pictures and feelings. She took several deep breaths and concentrated on the white roses growing in profusion just below the porch railing. Their sweet fragrance filled the air. With every breath, she centered herself and found her inner calm, pushing out the anger and rage left over from the vision. Her body felt like a lead weight, and lightened as her energy came back. The drowsiness faded with each new breath. She’d be fine in a few minutes.
The man on horseback emerged from the trees, coming toward her home. Her guest had arrived.
Focused on the computer screen, she slowly and meticulously typed her answer to the man who had asked about a job and inadvertently opened himself up to telling her who he really was at the heart.
She replied simply.
You’ll get the job, but you can’t hide from what you did.
You need help. Turn yourself in to the police.
None of her personal information appeared on the website, and she’d put a lot of time and effort into keeping her identity and location a secret for reasons of her own. He’d never find her.
A chill ran over her, despite the warm sun on her skin.
She put through the charge and tried to erase the vision from her mind. She’d told him to go to the police. Nothing more she could do. She didn’t have any proof a crime had been committed. You couldn’t make accusations against people based on a vision. Even if she went to the police with what she knew, they wouldn’t take her seriously. She’d learned that the hard way.
The help she provided Tyler and the FBI was different. Her unique link with Tyler allowed her to assist him with some of his cases. Tyler had nothing to do with this man. She could ask him to investigate, but why would he? He had a hard enough time believing what she told him about the cases he was working on. She didn’t want to have to convince him all over again that what she saw was real and true. It hurt to have to convince him every time, despite the ample proof she’d given him on multiple cases. After all this time, he should believe her - believe in her.
She didn’t want to think about Tyler right now. He’d be in Colorado today. Close. Their connection that much stronger, and the harder he’d ignore it and push her away. Maybe she should give in and go see him.
Why couldn’t he stay in San Francisco?
It wasn’t time for them to meet again. She sighed and tried to put him out of her mind. Not possible. They were connected on an elemental level, and had been for a long time.
Why did things between them have to be so complicated and difficult?
Dealing with her customers was simple. They went to her website and clicked on the link to ask a question. She charged fifteen dollars for requests she answered. If she couldn’t answer the question, or wouldn’t answer, she didn’t charge and sent a standard reply, telling the person she couldn’t help.
Either the person believed in her enough to pay the fifteen dollars, or they didn’t.
Sure, they had to accept her Terms and Conditions. After all, what she “saw“ was open to interpretation and the result may not be what the customer expected. In short, if they didn’t like the answer, they couldn’t shoot the messenger.
She specifically informed customers to beware what they ask, and how they ask it. You may get the answer to a question you hadn’t intended.
If you suspected your spouse of cheating on you, don’t be surprised if she confirmed it, and that the other person is your best friend. She wouldn’t lie, or tell you only what you wanted to hear. 
In a few cases, she simply refused to answer. People often wanted to know when they were going to die and how. Her opinion, this kind of information did more harm than good. It usually altered the course of a person’s life, and she didn’t want to be responsible for changing one’s fate and destiny.
One thing she knew for certain, life had a pattern. Mistakes are repeated until the lesson is learned. Knowing something ahead of time didn’t necessarily mean you could change the outcome. Some things were meant to be and nothing could stop them from ending the same way she saw them, even if the path that led to that end took a detour first. That wasn’t to say the course of the future couldn’t be altered. It could. She’d done it several times. For Tyler’s family, she’d do it again.

For more information about Chasing Morgan and the rest of Jennifer's titles, head over to the Avon Romance site

Jennifer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, three children, her dog, Bella, and cat, Shadow. 

When she isn't writing a book, she's reading one. Her obsession for both is often revealed in the state of her home and how late dinner is to the table. When she finally leaves those fictional worlds, you'll find her in the garden, playing in the dirt and daydreaming about people who live only in her head, until she puts them on paper.

So?! What do you think about the cover? Are you a fan of Jennifer's? Comment below!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I've been bad...

I know! I haven't been updating my blog as much as I want to, but it's for a good reason.

No, I swear it.

His name is Adam, he's the newest hero in my latest novel, and he's kind of an all-consuming guy. All my writing time has been dedicated to him and Julia, and they are one feisty couple. They've occupied my thoughts, woken me at night, and are working through their issues. I haven't written this fast since that first story I wrote back when I was sixteen.

So, hang tight, readers! If you haven't liked my author page on Facebook, then you may not see what I'm up against. This is Adam Wheeler - Afghanistan war vet, family farmer, and a touch of bad boy. 

(Image courtesy of Men's Health. His real name is Wiehahn Stiglingh and he's a financial advisor from South Africa. He doesn't have a ton of pics online, as he's not your typical model - just a regular guy, trying to have a swim...)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013

Guest Post by Lori Wilde: Color Me Embarrassed

Today's guest post is from best-selling romance author Lori Wilde!


From bestselling romance author Lori Wilde comes All Out of Love, the sizzling second book in her Cupid, Texas, series, set in a town where every wish for love comes true.
Millie Greenway and her friends have tried for years to keep the Cupid legend alive in their hometown, but she’s not getting much help from her granddaughters. Lace Bettingfield knows the legend is bogus. As a teen, she left a letter at the Cupid statue and got nothing in return but humiliation. But now the guy she dreamed of is back in town, Lace begins to wonder if the tale might just prove to be true.

All Out of Love features the humor and heartfelt emotion that fans have come to expect from the author of The First Love Cookie Club and A Cowboy for Christmas.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

BLOG GIVEAWAY: Less Than a Gentleman by Kerrelyn Sparks

Less Than a Gentleman 
by Kerrelyn Sparks
Genre: Historical Romance
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Event organized by: Literati Author Services


In this never-before-published historical romance, New York Times bestselling author Kerrelyn Sparks returns to the 18th century, where the fight for freedom is as dangerous as the fight for love.

Between searching for the missing Munro sisters and South Carolina being all but lost to the British, Captain Matthais Thomas has more important things to worry about than finding a bride. But his mother has other ideas. When Matthais finds a beautiful woman in his bed who claims to be his betrothed, he is suspicious of her identity…and determined to discover the truth.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Must-read Monday: The synopsis of my next work-in-progress

Tomorrow will be the official must-read Monday, with a giveaway to boot! (Due to publisher and blog tour restrictions, I can only put the giveaway up on July 2 - keep an eye out for it!)


  • Last week I was pretty busy...I was offered a contract to publish my novel!
  • I also signed with one of the BEST agencies in the business....I'm now a client of Victoria Lowes at The Bent Agency!
  • I had a revelation in the middle of the night last night. This is, literally, how my books are born. I've been toying around with characters that I love (meet them here) and I've got the basis of the story down now. 

To get this week rolling, I spent a few minutes early this morning writing what I call back-cover blurbiness. No doubt it will be tweaked, finessed, and smoothed out as I write, but this is the basis of Julia's story. :)

One year after calling off her wedding to a cheater, caterer Julia Emerson agrees to try a one-night stand in a last-ditch effort to get over her fear of relationships. When that one-night stand becomes her coworker at the local farm she's trying to partner with, Julia realizes she's not a one-night stand kind of girl...and she's fallen hard for the Afghanistan War veteran. 
Adam Wheeler's too hard, too rough, and too emotionally unavailable for someone as bright and shiny as Julia. He's not relationship material - he's good for a night, but nothing more. His soul was left back in Afghanistan, if he ever had one to begin with...and he's convinced no amount of love can ever bring it back.
Can Julia's love heal Adam's dark soul? Or is it a challenge she's just not cut out to win?