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 CafĂ© 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.

Winner(s), Winner(s) Chicken Dinner

Wanted to post the winner for each book. Since it is my birthday giveaway, I decided to give 1 copy of each of the 5 books. So instead of 4 winners there will be 5 winners.

Serendipity goes to buckeyegirl31
Cold Touch goes to Mama Kitty
Dragon Bound goes to Debbie B
A Night to Surrender goes to Mariee
In Bed with a Highlander goes to Jen(RomancingtheBook)

I'll email each of the winners today and you each have 7 days to contact me. Thanks for helping my 40th birthday be even more special!