Saturday, December 31, 2011

Favorite Books read in 2011

I’ve read over 100 books this year and have found some amazing new-to-me authors this year. Many of the books on my list are by some of my must-read authors. About half of the books on the list are either from new-to-me authors or debut authors. I have to thank so many of my twitter peeps and blog friends for helping me find some of my new favorite books/series. 

1. Serendipity by Carly Phillips is not only my favorite contemporary romance I read this year, but my favorite book I read all year. In fact, the entire Serendipity series might be my favorite series of books ever by Carly. 
2. Cold Touch by Leslie Parrish is my favorite Leslie Parrish book ever. Might even be my favorite book written by Leslie as either Leslie Parrish or Leslie Kelly.
3. Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison is my favorite book by a new-to-me author. Love the entire Elder Race series so far.
4. Night After Night by Janelle Denison is my favorite book written by Janelle ever!
5. The Heart of a Killer by Jaci Burton is her first romantic suspense and she totally rocked it.
6. Because of You by Jessica Scott is her debut novel and I can't wait to read more books from Jessica in the future.
7. The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis is my favorite in her Lucky Harbor series and my favorite of her books I read this year. 
8. The Legendary Lovers series (loved all 3, but Danny is my favorite brother) by Julie Leto is one of Julie's best series ever.
9. First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones was a find thanks to twitter. So glad I found this book and series.
10. The Renfield Syndrome by JA Saare feeds my Disco love. I met Jamie at the Lori Foster get together in June and only acted a little fan-girl.
11. Real Men Will by Victoria Dahl is the 3rd book in her Donavan Brothers Brewery series and my favorite of her books I've read so far.
12. Sweet Tea & Secrets by Nancy Naigle is the 1st book in her Adams Grove series. I met Nancy at Lori's event in June and bought her book that weekend. Loved this book.
13. Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey and all the other Kowalski books. Really hoping we get more Kowalski books in the future.
14. One Dance With a Duke by Tessa Dare is my favorite historical romance I read this year. I've loved every book of hers I've read.
15. New York to Dallas by JD Robb is the latest book in the In Death series and was gut-wrenching, but wonderful.
16. Spider’s Revenge by Jennifer Estep is the 5th book in the Elemental Assassin series and was my favorite of the series so far. I've listened to this entire series and can't wait for the next book in this series.
17. Can’t Help Falling In Love by Bella Andre is the 3rd book in her Sullivan series. Loved me some Gabe so much. Already plan on going back and reading the first 2 in the series.
18. Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh is the 1st book in her Psy/Changeling series. I found this series with about 10 other books to follow. Was lucky enough to meet Nalini at Lori's event in June. 
19. Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter is the 2nd in her Heist Society series and just as wonderful as the 1st book in the series. My favorite series from Ally is her Gallagher Girl series. Out of Sight, Out of Time is set for release on March 13, 2012.
20. Sin Undone by Larissa Ione is the 5th book in her Demonica series and was so awesome. Loved Sin so much.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Xavier's Loving Arms

Xavier’s Loving Arms is the latest release from author KT Grant. From the author’s website.~

Synopsis: Xavier Marks has the looks, great job, and more than enough money to throw around. The only thing missing is a woman by his side. He hasn’t had much luck in love since he caught his fiancée cheating on him, and isn’t too happy about his current bachelor status. But that may all change when a cute barista from a coffee shop catches his eye. Perhaps she can help him lick his wounds?

Life hasn’t always been too kind to Rebecca Price. With a grandmother suffering from dementia, and the threat of foreclosure on her childhood home, she may have no choice but to turn to a possessive ex-boyfriend who won’t settle for anything less than marriage. She hides a shameful secret that still threatens to destroy her. She’s ready to give up all hope when a suave, yet seemingly kind-hearted man enters her life and comes to her rescue.

Rebecca is wary of placing her trust in Xavier, who wants to be more than a shoulder for her to lean on. But as the two grow close, Rebecca’s guilt over her past discretions continue to haunt her. Xavier wants to show Rebecca that the one place she can feel whole and at peace is in his loving arms.

I’ve wanted more of Xavier’s since he first appeared in The Claiming of Suzy, and the author was kind enough to send me a copy of Xavier’s Loving Arms for review. Xavier stole a little bit of my heart from the moment I met him. I like that he didn’t seem to judge others based on their appearances, but on their actions. Xavier hasn’t been very lucky in love in the past. First he catches his fiancée with another man and just when he thinks things will work out with Suzy, she falls for someone else.

Xavier is attracted to Rebecca from the moment he meets her in the coffee shop across from his office. Rebecca has had a very rough time since her father’s death three years before. She is barely hanging on financially and still has to deal with her ex-boyfriend Devdan, who will only help her out of her financial mess if she marries him. Becca at first compares Xavier just a bit to Devdan, since they both have family money. However, Xavier soon proves he is nothing like Devdan. Devdan is a real ass in this book. In fact, I couldn't figure out what Becca could have possibly ever see in Devdan. Becca is attracted to Xavier, but fights her attraction to him at first. As I’ve come to expect from KT Grant, Xavier and Becca are super hot together once they finally give in to their attraction. In fact, each time they make love, they are some of the steamiest scenes I’ve read.

Becca trust Xavier with her body before she gives her total trust to him. Once she begins to trust him, she shares the fact that she is recovering from an eating disorder. Becca still struggles with eating three years after she was released from in-patient treatment. The stress to her finances, her grandmother’s health, and Devdan’s actions make it hard for her to be able to eat right, or actually keep food down. Xavier will do pretty much anything to take care of Becca and support her in any way possible.

Xavier is such a great character. He is very strong and only wants to find someone to share his life with. Becca is also a strong character, but doesn’t realize how strong she is until she has someone to help her move forward in her life. I liked that we were able to see someone who was recovering from an eating disorder move to a successful life. Never having suffered from one, it helped me to understand that it is something the individual always has in the back of their mind. 

I enjoyed Xavier’s Loving Arms and look forward to reading more stories in the future from KT Grant. The official release date is December 30, but I've seen it available for order on a few sites already. I’m really hoping to get stories about some of Becca’s friends and even Devdan at some point. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Exclusively Yours

Exclusively Yours is the 1st book in the Kowalski series by Shannon Stacey. Originally released from Carina Press in digital format, the paperback release is set for release on December 27 from Harlequin (HQN line).  From the author’s website. ~
When Keri Daniels’ editor finds out she has previous carnal knowledge of reclusive bestselling author Joe Kowalski, she gives Keri a choice: get an interview or get a new job.

Joe’s never forgotten the first girl to break his heart, so he’s intrigued to hear Keri’s back in town—and looking for him. Despite his intense need for privacy, he’ll grant Keri an interview if it means a chance to finish what they started in high school.

He proposes an outrageous plan—for every day she survives with his family on their annual camping and four-wheeling trip, Keri can ask one question. Keri agrees; she’s worked too hard to walk away from her career.

But the chemistry between them is still as potent as the bug spray, Joe’s sister is out to avenge his broken heart and Keri hasn’t ridden an ATV since she was ten. Who knew a little blackmail, a whole lot of family and some sizzling romantic interludes could make Keri reconsider the old dream of Keri & Joe 2gether 4ever.

I first read Exclusively Yours when it was released from Carina Press. When I saw the paperback version was being released from HQN, I couldn’t wait to add this book to my keeper shelf. With the help of NetGalley, I obtained an early copy and loved it every bit as much when I read it the second time as I did the first time.

I loved both Joe and Keri and it was fun to watch all they had to go through to get back together. I'm a big fan of reunion stories, even with those being reunited aren't excited about it at first. Joe and Keri’s reunion, although not either of their ideas, helps them both to find what had been missing from their lives. Since neither one had ever forgotten anything about the other, it was fun watching them fall in love all over again. The smexy chemistry between them is really off the charts too.
Joe's family totally cracked me up. Between the pranks and just being the Kowalski’s, they all made me want to be a Kowalski too. I absolutely love the entire Kowalski family and can't wait to add both Undeniably Yours in February 2012 and Yours to Keep in March 2012 to my keeper shelf. I admit I’ve asked..okay begged Shannon for more Kowalski stories. Really hoping we get to read all about the rest of the Kowalski cousins in the future.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Can't Help Falling In Love

Can’t Help Falling In Love is the third book in Bella Andre’s Sullivan series. From the author’s website.~

Get ready for another Sullivan bad boy to fall in love in the third book of Bella Andre's bestselling contemporary romance series!

Gabe Sullivan risks his life every day as a firefighter in San Francisco. But after learning a brutal lesson about professional boundaries, he knows better than to risk his heart to his fire victims ever again. Especially the brave mother and daughter he saved from a deadly apartment fire...and can't stop thinking about.

Gabe Sullivan risks his life every day as a firefighter in San Francisco. But after learning a brutal lesson about professional boundaries, he knows better than to risk his heart to his fire victims ever again. Especially the brave mother and daughter he saved from a deadly apartment fire...and can't stop thinking about.

Megan Harris knows she owes the heroic firefighter everything for running into a burning building to save her and her seven-year-old daughter. Everything except her heart. Because after losing her navy pilot husband five years ago, she has vowed to never suffer through loving - and losing - a man with a dangerous job again.

Only, when Gabe and Megan meet again and uncontrollable flames of desire ignite between them, how can he possibly ignore her courage, determination, and beauty? And how can she deny not only his strong bond with her daughter, but the way his sweetly sensual kisses are challenging her to risk everything she's been guarding for so long?

This winter, if one - or both - of them aren't careful, they just might end up falling in love.

I was sent a copy of Can’t Help Falling In Love from the author. I actually have the first 2 books in the series on my kindle in my TBR folder, but hadn’t read them yet. I absolutely loved Can’t Help Falling In Love! Both Gabe and Megan are such strong characters, yet they have each had a bad experience with relationships in the past. Megan lost her husband to a horrible accident and Gabe had a relationship turn sour with a woman he had rescued in a fire. Gabe swears never to date another fire victim and Megan swears never to get involved with someone in a dangerous job again.

After Gabe saves Megan and her daughter Summer from their burning apartment building, Megan and Summer come to the hospital to thank him. Both Megan and Gabe are attracted to each other from the moment they meet in the hospital, yet the promises they made to themselves are always in the front of each of their minds. Of course, both promises go out the window because of the explosive attraction between them. Megan’s daughter Summer makes it her goal to get her mom and Gabe together at every possible moment. Each time Megan and Gabe are alone together, neither can seem to keep their hands off of the other. They are so hot together, I really thought my Nook might start sizzling as I was reading. Gabe and Megan have some of the sexiest scenes together and yet there is still a sweetness to them as well, as I could see both falling for one another.

Gabe is able to move past his past experience much faster than Megan. He figures out very quickly he is in love with her and is willing to take things slow to have Megan and Summer in his life. Megan is such a strong woman, but had been burned so badly in the past, she had such fear of a real relationship with Gabe. Megan knows in her heart she loves Gabe, yet must get her head to see clearly before she too can admit her feelings.

I usually don’t read books in a series out of order, but felt like Can’t Help Falling In Love reads as a stand alone title well. I really loved spending time with the Sullivan family and can’t wait to read the rest of the family’s stories. I plan on going back and reading the first two books in the series as soon as possible, and really can’t wait for Sophie’s story to be released in February 2012.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Desired is the latest release in The Scandalous Women of the Ton series by Nicola Cornick. From the back cover.~
Her wicked ways were the talk of the ton

Teresa, Dowager Marchioness of Darent, is rumored to have exhausted her four deceased husbands with her insatiable needs. So it's no surprise that every rake in the ton wants to bed her. If they only knew…through clever marriages to men who would ask nothing of her physical self, Tessa has remained rather innocent in the ways of the bedroom. But now she's on the verge of losing everything and wants to take care of the stepson she's grown to adore.

Enter Captain Owen Purchase. The handsome American adventurer has come into the title of Viscount Rothbury. And the rumors surrounding his injuries at sea suggest that he could fit Tessa's requirements. But little does Tessa realize that the gossipmongers are wrong. She just might lose her heart, and her desires, to the most unlikely of men…

Desired is the first book I’ve read by Nicola Cornick, but won’t be my last. I was lucky enough to get an early copy from NetGalley. I usually don’t read books in a series out of order, but when I read about Desired, I knew I had to break my own rule. Personally, I think it stands alone pretty well, but I do see myself reading the other books in the series in the future, so I can learn more about each of the couples.

I liked the characters in Desired very much, especially Tess and Owen, and I loved Owen called Tess by Teresa rather than her nickname. Tess had never loved any of her other husbands, and after her second husband’s abuse, she never had an intimate relationship with another husband. In fact, when she marries, she searches for men incapable of an intimate relationship. In fact, Tess picks Owen because she needs to make sure he can’t give evidence about her connections to the Jupiter club, and she’s heard he can’t have marital relations. Owen also is aware that Teresa needs his protections about the Jupiter club, but really hopes she will come clean with him about her involvement. However, her intel is a little bit off when it comes to Owen, who she discovers on their wedding night he is not only willing, but able to have an intimate relationship.

Owen thought Teresa might have had a bad experience with a man in her past, but it is only after they spend more time together and she starts to trust Owen does he find out the whole truth. Teresa has been attracted to Owen from almost their first meeting. Owen decides they will take things slow, until Teresa finally admits she wants him. Owen is so tender with her and it was just as sexy to see the tenderness as their later more intense moments. It is obvious to everyone that Owen and Teresa have fallen in love with one another. There are still some trust issues between them, but each soon has no trouble admitting their real feeling for one another.

Desired was released on December 1 and can be found at your favorite bookstore or online retailer. The 6th book in the series, Forbidden, is set for release in 2012.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Simply Irresistible

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis is the 1st book in her new Lucky Harbor series. From the back cover.~

Maddie Moore's whole life needs a makeover.

In one fell swoop, Maddie loses her boyfriend (her decision) and her job (so not her decision). But rather than drowning her sorrows in bags of potato chips, Maddie leaves L.A. to claim the inheritance left by her free-spirited mother-a ramshackle inn nestled in the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington.

Starting over won't be easy. Yet Maddie sees the potential for a new home and a new career-if only she can convince her two half-sisters to join her in the adventure. But convincing Tara and Chloe will be difficult because the inn needs a big makeover too. 

The contractor Maddie hires is a tall, dark-haired hottie whose eyes-and mouth-are making it hard for her to remember that she's sworn off men. Even harder will be Maddie's struggles to overcome the past, though she's about to discover that there's no better place to call home than Lucky Harbor.

I’m a huge fan of Jill Shalvis. I visit her blog every single day and buy her books the day they come out. In fact, many times I buy both the print and digital copies of Jill’s books. I really loved Simply Irresistible and think it was a great start for the new series.

Maddie, Tara, and Chloe are so different from one another, it was so much fun watching them learn to be sisters. Since the 3 sisters all have different fathers and weren’t raised together, it takes longer than Maddie really wants for them to start acting like a family. I’m the middle child, so I totally got Maddie’s tendencies to be the peacemaker (although I have an older sister and younger brother, so a little different) of the group. Maddie is also known as “the mouse” of the 3 sisters.  However, something about Lucky Harbor makes her strong.

Part of her strength comes from being with her sisters and part comes from within her. However, meeting Jax Cullen seems to help her become stronger. Maddie is attracted to Jax from the moment she sees him. However, she has sworn off all men because of the last guy she dated. Jax wants Maddie from their very first meeting and soon recognizes Maddie has suffered in the past and starts off slow with her. As long as slow is bone-melting kisses that make Maddie forget her name.

The chemistry between Jax and Maddie is off the charts. It’s almost like no one else is in the room when they are together. Even with all the work Jax and Maddie need to do to the inn to help get it up and running, neither seems to be able to keep their hands off the other. I loved watching Maddie fall for Jax. Jax was pretty open about his feelings from the first. I really think Maddie needed to feel like she had a family and home before she was secure enough in herself to admit her feelings for Jax.

I also loved the chemistry between the sisters. They really are pretty much strangers when they all show up at the inn. However, as they fight, share meals, work on the inn, and even all share one bed, they go from strangers to sisters. They are sisters, so there will always be fights, but the fights become more picking on each other as only siblings can do.

I really loved Simply Irresistible and have already read and loved The Sweetest Thing, which is the 2nd book in the Lucky Harbor series (blog post to come very soon). Up next for me is Head Over Heels, which is the 3rd book in the series. Jill announced on her blog recently that we will get 3 more Lucky Harbor books in 2012 and I can’t wait to read each of them.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Hidden Summit

Hidden Summit is the newest release from Robyn Carr’s wonderful Virgin River series. From the author’s website.~

Sick of running into her cheery ex-husband and his new wife, Leslie Petruso accepts a job at the Virgin River branch of Haggerty Construction and takes the high road right out of town. Now she's got Paul Haggerty's business running like a well-oiled machine. In fact, things are so busy Paul jumps at the chance to hire an extra set of hands.

Just like Leslie, Conner Danson has been burned by love. But if Leslie was disappointed by her relationship going bad, Conner was decimated. He's got no time for women…although he spends an awful lot of time pretending not to notice Leslie. And she's pretty busy "ignoring" the chemistry between them.

According to Conner and Leslie, they have only one thing in common—they're done with love. But everyone in Virgin River can see that things are heating up at Haggerty Construction. And as far as Paul Haggerty can tell, the best thing he can do is hang on to his hard hat and watch the sparks fly!

I love each and every visit to Virgin River. I get to see so many of my favorite characters from past books and we always get to meet someone new. Leslie and Conner are the newest residents to Virgin River. Conner is in Virgin River waiting to go home to testify against a murderer. Leslie is in Virgin River trying to get away from her ex-husband who thinks they should still be friends, even though he cheated on her and is now re-married with a baby on the way.

Conner was told not to start up any relationships while in hiding, and since he has trust issues when it comes to women, he didn’t expect it to come into play. However, he is attracted to Leslie from the first time he sees her, and Leslie seems to be just as attracted to Conner. Conner and Leslie take things slow for a while, but soon can’t keep their hands off one another.

Of course Leslie’s ex keeps showing up in town and Conner still has to go back home to testify as the only eye witness, but  Leslie and Conner both know they have finally found the one. Conner knows he has to share the truth about his past with Leslie before he has to leave town to testify, and Leslie keeps his secret for him. Leslie and Conner have the full support from everyone in Virgin River as soon as they move to town. I love how welcoming everyone in Virgin River is to new people.

Robyn Carr gives her readers another winner with Hidden Summit. Once again, we will get 3 books from the Virgin River series starting with Hidden Summit on December 27, 2011. Redwood Bend is set for release in March 2012 followed by Sunrise Point in May 2012.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Because of You

Because of You is the debut novel my author Jessica Scott, and the first book in her Coming Home series. From the author’s website.~

Keeping his men alive is all that matters to Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison. But meeting Jen St. James the night before his latest deployment makes Shane wonder if there's more to life than war. He leaves for Iraq remembering a single kiss with a woman he'll never see again- until a near fatal attack lands him back at home and in her care.  

Jen has survived her own brush with death and endured its scars. And yet there's a fire in Shane that makes Jen forget all about her past. He may be her patient, but when this warrior looks her in the eyes, she feels - for the first time in a long time - like a woman. Shane is too proud to ask for help, but for Jen, caring for him is more than a duty -it's a need. And as Jen guides Shane through the fires of healing, she finds something she never expected - her deepest desire.

I love finding both new authors and new-to-me authors. I’ve talked to Jessica Scott on twitter for a while and even got to meet her at RWA in Orlando in 2010 (ran into her at a book signing while in line together). When Jessica announced her book would be released in the revived Loveswept line, I knew I had to read this story. I pre-ordered Because of You for my kindle as soon as there was a release date.

I absolutely loved Because of You! Both Jen and Shane are such strong characters. Jen is a breast cancer survivor who finally starts to feel like a woman again after meeting and kissing Shane. Shane has always put his men first, even about himself. He meets Jen the day before he and his men are scheduled to deploy to Iraq. They share one amazing kiss, that neither one is able to forget the other once Shane is deployed.
When Shane is injured and sent home, Jen is one of the nurses who care for him daily (FYI, sexiest catheter removal scene I've ever read). The attraction is still there after all this time, and only grows as they spend day after day together. Shane is one of those super strong men who don’t like to rely on anyone. However, his injuries leave him no choice, and Jen is more than happy to care for him.

Jen find herself getting stronger each day as she cares for Shane. She also starts to feel like a woman again for the first time since she first lost a breast to cancer. In fact, her battle helps her be able to help Shane move forward with his recovery. The attraction between Shane and Jen just gets stronger with each passing day, and they were so hot together when they finally gave into their attraction.

Jessica Scott has an amazing voice and made it easy for me to feel both the pain and the joy from her characters. I loved so many of the characters from Because of You, but especially Jen's best friend Laura. We get to read all about Laura and her husband Trent in Jessica's next book.The second book in her Coming Home series, Back to You is set for release from Loveswept in February 2012, and I’ll again pre-order as soon as it’s available. 

Thursday, December 01, 2011

It Happened One Christmas

It Happened One Christmas is the latest Blaze release from Leslie Kelly. From the back cover.~
Baby, it’s cold outside…

Six years ago, Ross Mitchell and Lucy Fleming shared a hot holiday weekend in Manhattan, back when he was just a hard-bodied guy in a tool belt and she was an impulsive photography student.

Fast-forward a few Decembers: Ross and Lucy meet again, by chance, at his office Christmas party. And when they find themselves alone and snowed in after hours, it’s not long before they’re making their own body heat – again. Only this time, the sex is better than ever! But is it just another holiday romp between the sheets? Or will Lucy and Ross finally get to keep what they really want this year – each other!

I’m a huge fan of Leslie Kelly and was so excited when I saw she had a Christmas story coming out. I love Christmas stories and knew that any Christmas story Leslie wrote would be both super fun and sexy, and Leslie totally delivered with It Happened One Christmas.

Lucy and Ross first met six years ago when Lucy was contemplating how to get back at her ex-boyfriend for cheating on her…more how to remove what he was using to cheat on her. Ross is attracted to Lucy from the minute they start talking, and even is her knight in shining armor when her ex tries to attack her. Lucy and Ross end up spending a hot weekend together that is cut short by a family emergency for Ross.

Six years later they meet again at Ross’s office Christmas party. Fate steps in again and they end up spending another hot weekend together where they quickly pick up right where they left off …in bed. This time they are older and the chemistry is even hotter than it was six years ago. Lucy and Ross have both changed a great deal since they last saw each other, but the desire for one another is just as strong as ever.

I loved that each chapter of the story when back and forth between the present and the past. The reader got to see Ross and Lucy remembering their past as they lived in the present and got to know each other again. I really loved that both their lives came full circle to bring them both back to their hometown, Chicago.  It Happened One Christmas is the perfect story for anyone looking for a fun and sexy read.

It Happened One Christmas is currently available in print and the digital release is set for December 1. Since it is a Harlequin Blaze, it will only be on the bookshelves for a limited time. However, it is available online from,, and other online retailers for much longer. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday Kisses

Holiday Kisses is the newest Christmas anthology being published from Carina Press. Holiday Kisses includes stories from Alison Kent (This Time Next Year), Jaci Burton (A Rare Gift), HelenKay Dimon (It’s Not Christmas Without You), and Shannon Stacey (Mistletoe & Margaritas). I’m a huge fan of each of the authors in this anthology and was very excited to get a copy early from NetGalley.

Alison Kent’s This Time Next Year

Brenna Keating is on her way to spend Christmas with her grandmother when treacherous roads and a skittish deer put her car in a ditch. Riding to the rescue – literally – is Dillon Craig, a reclusive doctor who insists she weather the storm in his cabin.

Since returning from Afghanistan where he treated wounded soldiers on the front lines, Dillon’s made it a point to avoid any emotional involvement. But his unexpected guest has him dangerously close to breaking his own rules.

Brenna has a plan for her life – until she’s stranded for three days with Dillon. Soon, the chemistry sizzling between them forces her to re-examine her priorities. The man is gorgeous, if taciturn, and a true hero in every sense of the word. No woman in her right mind could resist him, and so Brenna doesn’t – even though she can’t stay…

I really loved both Brenna and Dillon. Brenna and Dillon are both such strong individuals, who both have a need to serve and help others. Thanks to a deer in the road and a major snow storm, Brenna is rescued by Dillon and must wait out the storm at his cabin. There is attraction between Brenna and Dillon from the beginning, but with Brenna leaving the country at the first of the year, neither knows if the relationship can go anywhere. However, even with an uncertain future, Brenna and Dillon can’t fight their attraction for one another for very long. Loved how fast Brenna and Dillon knew they loved on another and they were willing to write letters, emails and talk on the phone while Brenna worked her dream job for a year.

Jaci Burton’s A Rare Gift

With a disastrous marriage behind him, Wyatt Kent has no interest in getting involved with any woman, let alone his ex-wife’s younger sister. But when Calliope Andrews hires him to build an addition onto her day care center, Wyatt can’t help but notice she’s a desirable woman, as warm and funny as his ex was cold and aloof.

Calliope fell hard for Wyatt the first time he walked through the door of her family’s home, and can’t believe her sister let him get away. He’s still the star of all her fantasies, and she’s determined to prove to him she’s nothing like his manipulative ex. Wyatt may be all business, but Calliope sees the way he looks at her when he’s supposed to be working…

It’s not long before Wyatt and Calliope are keeping each other warm on cold December nights. But it’s going to take a Christmas miracle for Wyatt to put his trust in love a second time.

A Rare Gift is the second book in the Kent Brother series from Jaci Burton. I absolutely loved Calliope Andrews. She is such a strong woman and knows exactly what she wants out of life and is willing to fight for what and who she wants…which has been Wyatt Kent since she first met him. Wyatt has just a little bit of baggage when it comes to love. Namely, Calliope’s older sister, who happens to be his ex-wife. He quickly realizes that Calliope is nothing like her sister, Cassandra, and finds himself having to fight his attraction to Calliope. As soon as Calliope realizes the attraction is mutual, she will accept nothing less than all of Wyatt. Calliope knows they are meant to be together, and takes steps to make sure Wyatt has put the past behind him to insure they can have a future together. Of course, Wyatt must mess up royally first, but in the end, he shows how much he loves Calliope.

HelenKay Dimon’s It’s Not Christmas Without You

Carrie Anders officially broke up with Austin Thomas when she accepted a dream job in the city. Unofficially, she misses him and is tempted to sneak back to her West Virginia hometown to see him. That’s why this year, she’s not going home for the holidays. Her heart can’t take any more mornings-after where nothing has changed – and Austin has made it clear he’s not interested in relocating.

Austin’s been waiting for Carrie to realize she can’t live without him. But when he hears she’s not coming home for Christmas, he decides to take action. If Carrie won’t come to the country, he’s going to bring a piece of the country to Carrie – in the form of a Christmas tree lot just minutes from her apartment. He’s certain daily meetings will entice her to come home with him, this time for good.

Their attraction is as hot as ever, but with such contrary Christmas wishes, can either of them get what they really want for Christmas?

I love that Austin loves Carrie so much he come to the city to set up a Christmas tree lot across the street from her apartment. Carrie is understandable rude when he first shows up, but still is as attracted to Austin and even gets jealous when she sees other women hanging around him. Of course, attraction has never been Carrie and Austin’s problem, but her job in D.C. at a museum has been. Austin figured Carrie would work in D.C. for a while and then be ready to come back home. Carrie loves her job at the museum and doesn’t understand why Austin can’t see how much her work means to her. When Austin attends an event at the museum with Carrie, he finally sees how important her work is to her, and doesn’t see how he can fit in her life any longer. Only by compromising can Carrie and Austin make their life together in two different cities.

Shannon Stacey’s Mistletoe & Margaritas

Claire Rutledge still believes in love, despite losing her husband. So, after two years, she’s not surprised by the steamy dreams telling her it might be time to start moving on. But she didn’t expect her friend Justin to have the starring role.

Justin McCormick has loved Claire since the moment he first saw her, but his best friend got there first. Now that Claire is ready to move on with her life, Justin is finding it harder than ever to hide his true feelings. And when they both get caught up in the holiday spirit at a party, their simmering mutual attraction boils over into a night neither of them can forget…

Claire and Justin have been best friends for years. Justin has been in love with Claire from the moment he saw her, but his best friend Brendan got there first, so he has kept his true feelings for Claire hidden for years. Claire has always looked at Justin as a friend, but now she is seeing him in a whole new light. Claire would be happy to act on this new attraction, and after a few margaritas at a holiday party, she and Justin get together. Of course, he wants to blame it on the alcohol, and not mess up their friendship. However, when they hook up again when out on his snow plow, there isn’t any alcohol to blame this time. Justin feels so much guilt going after his best friend’s wife, even though Brendan is 
gone. Only after talking to Brendan’s mom does Justin start to feel like he and Claire could have something lasting.

I loved each and every one of the stories in the Holiday Kisses anthology. I’m a big fan of Christmas stories and add a happily ever after to the mix and you always have a winner in my book. The release date is set for December 5, 2011 and can be found at your favorite online bookstore.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kismet - A Serendipity Novella

Kismet is newest release from Carly Phillips. Kismet is a Serendipity Novella which falls between Serendipity (book 1 in the series) and Destiny (book 2 in the series) and was released in eBook only on November 18, 2011. From the author’s Facebook page.~

Long Lost Love and Second Chances 

Elisabetta Gardelli thought she'd spend her days serving coffee and writing obits for the town paper until an unexpected opportunity results in her dream job as a journalist. Now, divorced and determined to make it on her own, Lissa is hired to do a series of interviews about entrepreneurs who’ve made their mark at an impressively young age.

First up? Wall Street mogul Trevor Dane -- Lissa's first love. Lissa hasn't seen Trevor since he left the small town of Serendipity to earn his spot on the right side of the tracks. Ten years have passed but neither has really moved from their super-passionate teenage affair - or the heartbreak that followed. This reunion can be their second chance or it can provide much needed closure. It all depends on Trevor.

Can he forgive Lissa or will the past continue to stand in their way?

I’ve made it no secret how much I love the Serendipity series by Carly Phillips. I can honestly say, it is my favorite series ever by Carly, and that is saying a lot since I’ve loved all her books. When I read Serendipity, I was hoping we would get stories from other characters in the town, and with Kismet, we get our first non-Barron brother story.

We first met Lissa when she was working at Cuppa Café and was extremely rude to Faith Harrington. She was recently divorced and selling coffee part-time and writing obits for the Serendipity Gazette and waiting for her big break. Luckily, Lissa and Faith found some common grounds and when Faith was ready to tell her story, she gave the exclusive to Lissa, who is now working for The News Journal. Her first major interview was with Trevor Dane…none other than her high school sweetheart, and her one true love.

Trevor hasn’t seen Lissa since he found out she was pregnant with Brad Banks’ child and marrying him. Even though his family still lives in Serendipity, he hasn’t allowed anyone to tell him what is going on with Lissa since he left ten years ago. He finally agrees to give her the interview, and then discovers what Lissa’s marriage has really been like. The attraction is still as strong as it was 10 years ago, and neither can resist the other. Lissa and Trevor are so hot together, but Trevor has to decide if he can accept Lissa’s daughter, who is also Brad’s daughter. Trevor and Lissa are so great together, and it was fun to watch the high school sweethearts fall in love all over again.

I really loved Kismet and can’t wait for my next visit with the characters in Serendipity. The next release in the Serendipity series is Destiny, which is set for release on January 3, 2012, and is Nash Barron and Kelly Moss's story.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fitness and Weight Watchers Update

I haven't posted an update on my fitness and WW progress since before my Vegas trip, so I thought I would post an update tonight.

I took an entire month off from Weight Watchers from the time I was in Vegas until after my 40th birthday. I never really planned to take off that much time, but I got really lazy and went back to my old ways of picking up fast food rather than eating healthy. I also took off from exercising after my friends and I did our 5K in Vegas. Again, not planned, but my laziness wasn't just tied to eating right.

I somehow only managed to gain 4 pounds from the time I left for Vegas until the beginning of last week when I started back on WW full time. In my first week back on the plan, I managed to lose 2 of those 4 pounds and I feel much better about getting back on track. I know WW is the plan for me because it allows me to eat regular food and helps me stick to the correct portion sizes. I also earn activity points from exercise, and I can use those for treats.

I've also started working out more since I've been back on WW. Mostly because I feel better when I exercise, but my work has set up a voluntary exercise program. Work now wants us to exercise 15 minutes a day 3 days a week. Now that isn't really enough to work off much in the way of calories, but it has been a good way to get me started back on my fitness goal. Today I walked a 5k with my aunt, and even walked an extra mile getting to and from the car. It felt really great and I now plan on joining up for another NOBO training starting in January. I've missed my run /walk schedule, and am excited to get back to it. I'll be sticking to the elliptical for much of the next month and walking on the weekend. With the time change, it is dark when I get home from work, so the weekends will be the only time I can get in a good walk or walk/run.

So i have a plan now and I plan on sticking to my plan this time. The holidays will be hard for me, especially Thanksgiving when my sister, brother, dad and I make all my favorite dishes. I plan to really watch my portions that week, and walk at least a couple of days while at my sister's house. Luckily, my brother will be with me, so I know he will help me with my exercise plan.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

SEAL of My Dreams

The SEAL of My Dreams anthology includes 18 stories by many of my favorite authors, and a few new to me authors. From Amazon’s website.~

Honor, duty, courage, passion . . . the men of the Navy SEALs are a special breed of hero, and in these novellas by eighteen top romance authors the SEALs are celebrated not only as symbols of devoted service to their country but as the kind of men every woman wants to love. They’ll rescue a damsel in distress and her lap dog, too. They’ll battle hometown dramas and international bad guys. When it comes to giving away their hearts, they’ll risk everything.

All proceeds from sales of SEAL of My Dreams go to the Veterans Research Corporation, a non-profit fundraiser for veterans’ medical research.

Between them, the authors of SEAL of My Dreams have won dozens of writing awards including multiple RITAs from Romance Writers of America. Their nearly 600 published novels have sold at least 35 million copies worldwide. The SEAL of My Dreams roster includes many of the best-known authors in modern romance fiction. In addition, many have strong family connections to the servicemen and women of our nation’s military, and many specialize in novels featuring heroes and heroines from all branches of service.

I got an ARC from NetGalley last week and have spent all of my reading time on SEAL of My Dreams this week. I’ve read books by most of the authors in the anthology, but a few authors were new to me. I liked each and every one of the stories in this anthology. Each story features a SEAL and I found that each story was a really quick and enjoyable read. Let’s get real, you really can’t go wrong with sexy SEALs. Add in the fact that all the proceeds for the sales to the Veterans Research Corporation, and you have a total win-win.

I’ll be buying my print copy(must add to my keeper shelf) on release day, which is Veteran’s Day. Print and digital copies can be purchased from Amazon, B&N, and Bell Bridge Books.

SEAL of My Dreams was inspired by a newspaper photo of a Navy SEAL (that's the photo on the cover). Author Christie Ridgway tweeted about the photo in May and quickly followed that tweet with the suggestion that several authors get together to write an anthology to raise money for a military charity. Six months later, SEAL of My Dreams is on sale in digital form ($9.99) and print ($15.95). 

Monday, November 07, 2011

Bring Me Home for Christmas

Bring Me Home for Christmas is the latest book in Robyn Carr’s popular Virgin River series. From the back cover.~

This year, Becca Timm knows the number one item on her Christmas wish list: getting over Denny Cutler. Three years ago Denny broke her heart before heading off to war. It’s time she got over her silly college relationship and moved on.

So she takes matters into her own hands and heads up to Virgin River, the rugged little mountain town that Denny calls home, as an uninvited guest on her brother’s men-only hunting weekend. But when an accident turns her impromptu visit into an extended stay, Becca finds herself stranded in Virgin River. With Denny. In very close quarters.

As the power of Christmas envelopes the little town, Becca discovers that the boy she once loved has become a strong and confident man. And the most delicious Christmas present she can imagine.

I love visiting with so many of my favorite characters in Virgin River. Bring Me Home for Christmas is the perfect Christmas treat for Virgin River fans. You get to see many of the original characters that we sometimes just get glimpses of now that Virgin River is growing larger. I love the new characters that are making Virgin River their home, but still enjoy seeing Jack, Mel, Preacher, and Paige and seeing what is going on with their families.

I’ve liked Denny since he showed up in Virgin River. Becca had guts in my opinion. She shows up on an all-guy hunting trip to see if she is really over Denny, especially since she is at a point in her relationship with her current boyfriend, Doug that could be moving in the marriage direction. However, Becca knows she can’t move forward with her life until she settles things with Denny. Of course, the fact that both Becca and Denny still love one another is the most important thing for either of them. Plus, Becca’s current boyfriend Doug is a total tool. For some reason it takes Becca breaking her ankle and having to stay in Virgin River for her to realize just how much of a tool Doug really is.

It was sweet and yet still hot to watch Denny and Becca discover one another again. Since neither really every stopped loving the other, they also never lost their attraction for one another. Their love making was hot, sweet, or playful depending on their moods. Becca finds herself falling in love with the town and people of Virgin River the longer she and Denny are together.  Jack even offers to build her a school so she can teach the elementary school-aged kids in town. Although, Becca has always planned on going back to San Diego, she soon realizes that home for her might just be a small town with the man of her dreams.

With each trip to Virgin River, I too fall more in love with the town. Denny and Becca are so perfect for one another and they are a perfect fit for the town. Bring Me Home for Christmas helped get me in the Christmas spirit very early. I love reading Christmas stories and after reading Denny and Becca’s story, I’m ready for more Christmas/holiday stories. 

I’m also very excited for the upcoming releases for Virgin River. Robyn once again has 3 Virgin River stories set for release next year. Hidden Summit is set for release in January, and thanks to NetGalley, I have it waiting for me on my kindle. 

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Christmas Wedding

The Christmas Wedding is the latest release from James Patterson and Richard DiLallo. From the inside cover flap. ~

The tree is decorated, the cookies are baked, and the packages are wrapped, but the biggest celebration this Christmas is Gaby Summerhill's wedding. Since her husband died three years ago, Gaby's four children have drifted apart, each consumed by the turbulence of their own lives. They haven't celebrated Christmas together since their father's death, but when Gaby announces that she's getting married--and that the groom will remain a secret until the wedding day--she may finally be able to bring them home for the holidays.

But the wedding isn't Gaby's only surprise--she has one more gift for her children, and it could change all their lives forever. With deeply affecting characters and the emotional twists of a James Patterson thriller,
The Christmas Wedding is a fresh look at family and the magic of the season.

I borrowed The Christmas Wedding from the library and was lucky enough to get it just a couple of weeks after the release date.  I generally only read The Women’s Murder Club books by James Patterson, but was in the mood for a Christmas story, so I added it to my hold list at the library.

I really enjoyed reading The Christmas Wedding. It is a sweet, fast-paced romance. Gaby send out videos to her four children letting them all know she is getting married on Christmas day. However, the groom won’t be revealed until that time, as she has received 3 marriage proposals. She knows this is the perfect way to get her entire family to come home for the holidays.

As the story progresses, we get to spend time with each of Gaby’s children and their families. I really liked all of Gaby’s children and enjoyed getting to know them better.  I also loved spending time with Gaby’s 3 suitors, Tom Hayden, Jacob Coleman, and Martin Summerhill and her best friend Stacey Lee.

I loved that each of Gaby’s children tried to get her to tell who she was planning on marrying on Christmas day while none of her prospective grooms questioned her.  I have to say I guessed who she would marry way before it was revealed, but it was still so sweet. I also liked the path each of her children took as the story progressed.

I really enjoyed The Christmas Wedding. It is nothing like Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club, but is still a fast and fun read. I absolutely loved Gaby from page one and she only got better as the book progressed. I would love to see a story in the future about more of Gaby’s family.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Ruby Kiss

The Ruby Kiss is book 3 in the Magic Knot Fairies series by Helen Scott Taylor. From the back cover.~


Nightshade hungers to bring the strong and beautiful to their knees beneath the ecstasy of his bite, but he has never known sexual lust--not until he meets Ruby McDonald, the curvy redhead who wields attitude and strength like an ax, and who would be the perfect mother of his children. Caught in a clash between the Seelie and Unseelie courts, he vows not only her survival but also to win her heart.

Plagued by magic inherited from a father she never knew, Ruby wants answers. Nightshade has them. And when he crashes into her bedroom late one night, the fairy's silvery eyes, dark intensity, and striking black wings tempt her with a whole lot more: a mysterious world waiting to be explored, a dangerous love that binds her in body, mind, and spirit...and the children she thought she could never have. Ahead looms a choice between freedom and a power some would kill to possess. Should she deny her desires, or succumb to the seduction of...THE RUBY KISS.

I got an early copy of The Ruby Kiss from NetGalley. I was super excited to finally get Nightshade’s story. He’s been a favorite character of mine from the very first time he appeared in the series. I have to say I liked Ruby when we first met her, but loved her by the end of the book. I love strong characters and with Ruby, the reader is able to see her discover how strong she truly is. She doesn’t know what she is as the story begins, but she soon discovers she has the ability to have real power.

Nightshade is such a man. He originally only shows interest in Ruby because he wants her to give him a son. However, he quickly realizes he must fight to protect Ruby so they can be together. Like with any couple, Nightshade and Ruby have all sorts of roadblocks thrown in their path to happiness. Both Nightshade and Ruby have major issues with their fathers, and only by taking on said fathers can they each move forward with their lives. Luckily for each of them, there are many friends and family members willing to help them in their fights.

I did think The Ruby Kiss moved a little slow in the beginning. However, once it picked up, it was non-stop action. I loved the pairing of Nightshade and Ruby and look forward to more books from this series in the future. The release date for The Ruby Kiss is set for November 15, 2011. I can suggest this book to anyone who enjoys paranormal romances.