Cephalopod Coffehouse July 2015–LOVE SPELL–A Review

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Hi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

Hi all! Today I’m sharing my review for LOVE SPELL by Mia Kerick. This is a contemporary YA M/M romance which is wholly clean and really compelling. Chance is a gender-fluid teen–that means he’s as likely to dress male or female. He’s confident that he’s gay, and 58% (or so) sure that he’s not transgender, but he really doesn’t want to think about it. Or talk about it. He just wants to find the right guy, and he’s pretty sure (probably 95%) that this right guy is Jasper.

Love SpellMy Review:
Chance Cesar is an out gay teen, a senior in his rural New Hampshire high school and the new Miss Harvest Moon. That’s right, he was voted to be the pageant queen, as a cruel joke, but he werks it, strutting down the aisle in an orange tux and black pumps. That’s how we meet Chance, and henceforth his fabulousness cannot be denied.

Chance has always known he’s attracted to boys/men, but he’s still not clear on his gender identity. He struggles with his daily wardrobe–dress or pants–and he wants a boyfriend. A nice boyfriend. He kinda has his heart set on a boy from the vocational school, Jasper Donahue. “Jazz,” as Chance dubs him, is a burly boy with lots of responsibilities. He works to help support his mother and sister, and when he isn’t working, he’s babysitting his sister so his mom can work. Still, Chance is smitten, and he’s not even sure if Jazz swings his direction. Jazz seems to invite Chance’s attention, but there is no clear movement into Boyfriendland. All the discussions and intimate moments could be construed as simple friendliness.

So, Chance comes up with The Plan–well it’s more like The List for The Plan–of ten things to do to capture the heart of a boy. He spends weeks getting to know Jazz, hooking him in–if he can–and having hilarious misadventures. At the heart of this is a serious connection that Chance needs to make with himself, coming to terms with his gender and how that might affect a potential partner. Chance is a reliable narrator, and his narration is funny. He’s a diva, and his brilliance is often overwhelming to his objective: getting Jazz to love him. Thing is, he is super insecure, and that softens his manic edges. It’s a lot Notting Hill, with a boy standing in front of a boy, asking him to love him. This is a completely innocent book, sexually. The romance appears to be completely one-sided but it develops into a very tender friendship as Chance learns to love, and to give love, for no other reason than to help Jazz find happiness. Also, I enjoyed how Chance saw Jazz’s life, and how his privilege of money didn’t make for near as happy a home as Jazz’s criminally broke but bursting with love family.

I think the Love Spell part of it was rather short, and not the main focus, at all. It was great to walk through Chance’s gender-fluid shoes and get a better sense of the insecurity and frustration of not really KNOWING if he was a he-girl or a she-boy or somewhere in the middle, and I’m certain it will resonate with questioning teens. This is the second LGBTQ YA novel I’ve read from Ms. Kerick and the characters are always intense and sincere with real life plights that are honestly told. It took me a little time to settle into Chance’s voice because he’s got a flamboyant speech pattern, which is part of his quirky charm.

Interested? You can find LOVE SPELL on Goodreads, Amazon, Cool Dudes Publishing, and Barnes & Noble.

Thanks for popping in! Don’t forget to check out my fellow Coffeehouse reviewers, too!

Fragile Hearts CLAIMED BY DESIRE–Review & Giveaway

CbD bannerHi there! Today I’m sharing my review for a newly released M/M paranormal romance from Skye Jones. CLAIMED BY DESIRE will bring the disputes between shifters and vampires into sharp focus. Oh, and love. Expect sexy love.

Don’t forget to scroll down and enter the giveaway. You could win copies of the book, or a $25 Amazon gift card.

Claimed by Desire (Wild Hunters, #2)About the book:
Dylan Roberts returns to the Wales of his birth a changed man after the violent death of his mate. Having turned his back on being a bounty hunter and sworn off love for life, all he wants now is revenge.

When he meets Aeron Lombardo, his new farmhand, Dylan resents the intense attraction that blossoms between them. But Aeron won’t stop pushing and soon things take a hot and sexy turn.

As passions rise, danger rears its ugly head. Now Dylan and Aeron must choose whether to separate or commit to one another totally. Will Dylan take the final step and claim his new mate?

My Review:
This is the second book in a series, but enjoyable as a standalone.

Aeron is a 29 year old, shy gay man living in a rural Welsh village and caring for his chronically ill mother. He has had few positive experiences of his life, but he counts his new job as a farmhand to be one of them. The stable work enables Aeron to save some money for his mother’s care. She has multiple sclerosis and a rapidly declining prognosis. Aeron is determined to do a good job, but he’s unprepared for his attraction for the big burly farm owner, Dylan Roberts.

Dylan lost his husband, his shifter mate, two years ago when rogue vampires tore his pack to literal shreds. He harbors immense guilt, and lives only to avenge his mate. All Dylan’s friends want him to come back to their packs, but he remains isolated, hoping to pull the vamps into a trap. Meeting Aeron is unexpectedly upsetting. He feels an immediate attraction for Aeron, which only frustrates him further. How could he even look at another man? His heartsblood was shed and he vowed to never love again.

Aeron recognizes the need he observes in Dylan–he’s so terrifyingly lonely, and Dylan seems the same. He convinces Dylan to have a friendly arrangement, hoping that it might escalate into something more. And, it does, but not in the way Aeron expects. He has no idea that Dylan is a wolf shifter, or that he’s now under surveillance by ancient vampires.

Meanwhile Dylan’s inner wolf longs to be mated to Aeron–who is inconveniently human. Even if Dylan could confess his secrets to Aeron, it’s impossible to believe the beautiful young mane will be willing to change in to a shifter adn leave his home behind.

This was an interesting addition to the shifter genre. Dylan is a kind and conscientious man who fears the possibility of losing another mate. He’d rather shut himself away than try again, but Aeron is fiercer than he’d first seemed. I loved the interaction between Aeron and Dylan. Once the secret is revealed the tension only climbs. The addition of vampires creates a solid bit of drama, and Aeron’s mother is also part of all equations. The canon of shifterdom is a little looser here, with less emphasis on the discomfort of shifting, and of turning humans to shifters. Dylan’s alter ego, as a renown paranormal investigator–a force for justice as it seems–only bolsters Aeron’s interest.

The sexytimes are definitely yummy, and the story wraps with and HEA that includes all the affected parties. It was a well-paced interesting love story that had great side characters, likely ones who had big parts of the first book, and the door is open to another story in the future.

Interested? You can find CLAIMED BY DESIRE on Goodreads, Liquid Silver Books, Amazon (US and UK) and Barnes & Noble.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on the Raffle copter link below for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card, or one of two e-copies of CLAIMED BY DESIRE.
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:

Skye Jones is an erotic romance author who likes to write about that moment when lust and love meet head on. So expect some sexy times, as well as articles about writing and publishing – and maybe the odd thing about food, clothes, and furbabies – just because.

Skye’s writing began as a child with a story which was all about a hobby horse that talked. Skye moved on from talking wooden horses to writing about sexy alpha males, and the lucky characters who cross their path. Skye writes menage, m/f, and m/m erotic romance.

You can find Skye online on Facebook, twitter, and writing blog.
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Couldn’t Stop With JUST A KISS–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for Kate Kisset’s JUST A KISS. This contemporary romance features a baker who’s been burned and an actor who got played. Don’t forget to scroll down for to sample an excerpt and to enter the Kate Spade tote bag giveaway!

JustaKisseBook-1About the book:
Just a Kiss Synopsis:
Three friends,
One Wine Country Villa
Six Santino Brothers
And lots of wine…

Reeling from the loss of her mother, Sarah Dupont catches her fiancé doing the nasty on top of her pastry table at their San Francisco Bakery.

Devastated, she calls her best friend, lifestyle reporter, Danica Vargas. Danica convinces Sarah to start fresh, and rent a room with her at an historic mansion in Sonoma Valley.

With two roommates who act like the sisters she never had and a feisty landlord to stand in as the grandmother she always wanted, Sarah’s opens a café on the Sonoma Plaza. Her life changes the moment the little bell on the door rings and the notoriously sexy actor Jamie Santino, swaggers in.

Jamie, one of the six Santino Brothers, of Napa Valley Winery fame, needs baking lessons for his new movie and Sarah is just the woman to teach him. Wine flows, their love affair heats up and a tempestuous femme fatale enters the scene.

How can Sarah trust that Jamie isn’t acting when everything he says seems too good to be true?

How about a little taste?

Help me get a grip, I’m melting into her eyes… He took a beat to compose himself.

“What would you like me to do Sarah?” he asked.

She moved closer and parted her lips.

I’m going, going

“I think I’d like you to kiss me now.”

Gone…

On tiptoe and cradling the back of his head, she guided him to her.

No one could surprise him in the love department except Sarah Dupont. He skimmed his hands over the outline of her soft curves and pulled her in tighter. She tasted like cabernet and cake, and he closed his eyes so he could savor her lips.

A low moan escaped her, and hit him in the gut. He didn’t know where to start with his hands and moved them over the sexy arch of her back and pressed her closer to him.

“The tree,” he said quickly, not wanting to be away from her mouth. “Does the tree hurt your back?”

“Don’t stop kissing me,” she said. The need in Sarah’s voice surprised him, making him strain against his jeans. He fought to slow down, to wait, to catch a breath before he lost it.

He swept his lips across her cheek. “Sarah.” When he reached her earlobe, he nipped. She felt luscious and pliable in his arms. He almost couldn’t handle listening to her quick breaths and the feeling of her heart pumping so fast against him.

“Sarah.” He nuzzled behind her ear, kissing and sucking her neck. “Don’t make me stop.”

She groaned between breaths.

He felt drunk, but he’d had only had a few glasses of wine. Touching, kissing and listening to her whimpers made him feel like he could tip over any minute and bury himself into her.

My Review:
Six months ago Sarah Dupont found out her boyfriend was a cheating embezzler. She left him and the shambles of her bakery to start over again, opening a cafe in Sonoma and living in a villa with three (nosy) friends. One of them, Danica, recommends Sarah to her psuedo-beau’s brother, Jamie Santino. Jamie is an actor, due to protray a baker in his upcoming film, and Danica thinks Jamie could learn how to move in the kitchen under Sarah’s tutelage.

Thing is, Jamie is drop-dead gorgeous, and Sarah’s not ready to hang with an attractive man.

Sarah and Jamie have both been betrayed before. Jamie’s last serious girlfriend was a director who roped him into back-to-back box office flops, and he’s not really looking for anything serious, but he finds Sarah to be so real and honest that he’s more than intrigued. These two fall into heavy lust practically upon sight, which was okay, but then they start having too-strong feelings, and too-little communication. Sarah’s been betrayed, and she doesn’t WANT to feel like a harpy, but she doesn’t address actual issues like seeing Jamie walking into his co-star’s hotel room minutes after he texts her that he’ll be “working all night”? Instead she turns off her phone and slinks away? It didn’t ring true to me.

The interesting part was how Jamie, knowing that he got played again, still had the desire to stick to his “no communication” vow. That was some serious commitment, especially as he was wronged, twice.

The books are clearly set up for sequels to get all the ladies a man, but I was sometimes distracted from the main story with all the introductions of Santino brothers and single gals. I wanted to know more about Sarah and Jamie, and thought this book could have been a bit richer on plot. It felt too short and too convenient. I had a little trouble with the execution of the plot, and I’m not sure if that was because I read an advanced reader copy and some of the logical inconsistencies were edited out in the final version. One of these was the setting for Jamie’s new film–which I thought was planned for rather far from Sonoma, but ended up being San Francisco. This was a decently cute story. Definitely a breeze read.

Interested? You can find JUST A KISS on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win the Kate Spade tote bag filled with goodies!
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

HeadshotKateKissetLGFile.About the Author:
Former San Francisco Radio Disc Jockey Kate Kisset has a passion for telling great stories. After playing thousands of Hot AC, Country, Rock and Oldies tunes, for her primarily female fan base, she changed her tune and became an author.

Just a Kiss is the first book in her wine country romance series, The Single Girls Wine Club.

She lives in Northern California and Santa Barbara with her family and rescue pup “editor” Luciana Parmigiana, where she hikes, reads, listens to music, and drinks wine.

Catch up with Kate online on her private Facebook Readers Club, website, Amazon Author Page, Twitter, Facebook Page, and on Goodreads.

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Cover Reveal for DEMON OF MINE

Hi there! Just sharing in the cover reveal for DEMON OF MINE by Rayna Vause. This paranormal M/M romance looks hot, and not only because one of the leads is a demon… ;)

About the book:
Climbing the corporate ladder can be hell….

As a Collections Demon, Zavier grants his “clients” one wish in exchange for their souls. His job sucks, but once you make a deal with Corporate South, they own you. The trouble is, Zavier’s not a very good Collections Demon, with his tendencies to spurn authority and find loopholes to help deserving clients out of their contracts. He’s under scrutiny from the head of his department, who would quite literally like to see him burn. He just needs to close a simple deal to get upper management off his back. Instead, he meets Ryan.

Ryan is desperately searching for a way to save his dying sister. He doesn’t believe in magic and demons, but he’s out of options. Zavier’s not what he expects in a demon, and even more unexpected is the strong sense of familiarity—very intimate familiarity.

While trying to free Ryan from his contract, Zavier discovers secrets unscrupulous even by South standards. Exposing them could cost Zavier everything, but it might be Ryan’s only hope.

Release Date: August 28th 2015

How about a little taste?

“What person in their right mind would text a random stranger and tell him to come to the middle of a field in farm country?” Zavier rolled his eyes.

“I don’t know. People do stupid things just for shits and giggles all the time.” The man shrugged, pulling his jacket tighter around him.

“For that matter, what idiot follows those instructions unless they have a damn good reason?”

Again the man simply shrugged, then stuffed his hands in his pockets. “Look, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to ask for proof that you are who you say you are and that you’re actually capable of doing the things that book said you could do.”

Zavier paused for a moment, considering, impressed by his guts. Most took his abilities on faith, hope, and a bit of greed. Instead of turning on the intimidation as he usually did in an effort to keep these encounters short, he decided to oblige. He balled his fist and squeezed. When he opened his hand, an orb of electricity danced in his palm. The man gaped and stumbled back a step. After a moment, his expression changed from fear to fascination. He stepped closer to Zavier in an attempt to get a better look.

“Can I touch it?” The man inched his hand closer to the tiny lightning flashes that danced across Zavier’s hand.

“Only if you’re in the mood to be electrocuted.”

The man jerked his hand back, tucking it under his arm.

Zavier stifled a laugh, then turned down the intensity until the ball dissipated and all that remained were strings of power arcing between his fingers like a Tesla ball. “Here, touch my hand now.”

The man hesitated, then reached out and placed his palm over Zavier’s. “Wow. That’s awesome.” Leaving his hand there, seeming to enjoy the light tingle Zavier’s abilities had generated, the man laughed a warm sound that rolled through Zavier.

Zavier took a moment to study the hand touching his. He had long, slim fingers, like those of a pianist and soft, yet slightly calloused palms. The man’s jacket hid his arms, but the opening revealed a form-fitting white T-shirt molded to a rather impressive set of abs and a broad, muscular chest. Very nice. Oh yeah, a night or two with this guy could definitely improve his mood. Call him shallow, but he couldn’t help but admire a well-toned body.

Tearing his focus from the guy’s pecs, he scanned upward to take his first good look at the man’s face. Strong chin, lips made for kissing, and long, dark lashes that shielded the man’s eyes. Zavier wanted to see those eyes.

“Convinced?” He spoke a little louder than necessary in an attempt draw the man’s attention.

The man’s head jerked up. When their gazes met, Zavier froze. The world stopped spinning as he stared into gorgeous, green eyes. Something about them tugged at his memory, causing a tingle at the base of his skull. Zavier shifted his attention to study the rest of the face before him. He clasped the man’s wrist, preventing him from backing away.

Think dammit, think. You know this face. Vague irritation churned inside of him at his inability to remember. Sometimes the rules and regs of demon life sucked, especially the “Swiss cheese memory” policy.

“Hey. Are you okay?”

Zavier’s attention turned back to his potential client, when both the words and the tugging on his arm finally registered.

“Oh, yeah. Sorry about that.” He released the man, who took a step back. “So, let’s get on with this.” Zavier stared at the ground as he stepped back, needing to regroup. Nothing about this assignment was going as expected.

“Uh, sure. H-how do we do this? Do I need to say some type of special incantation? Offer up more blood?”

“No, just tell me what you want. This is demonology 2.0, the upgraded edition. We’ve phased out a lot of that old school, bodily fluids stuff.”

Interested? You can find DEMON OF MINE on Goodreads and preorders are on at Dreamspinner Press (ebook or paperback).

About the Author:
Rayna Vause loves to craft romances that mix a little action, a little adventure, and, often, a touch of the paranormal. She’s voracious reader and a perpetual student. Rayna has collected more degrees and certifications then she cares to admit and eventually she’ll probably earn a few more just because. She is a proud geek who injects a little bit of her geeky, tech obsessed soul into every story she writes.

When Rayna isn’t busy make up stories, she’s likely indulging her love of video games. Why? Because playing through the action, adventure, and romance in a role playing game is as good as reading a romance novel and is sometimes great inspiration for her writing. She’s a martial artist having studied American Kenpo Karate. She is also a Disney fanatic of epic proportions.  

Rayna is a member of RWA, RRW, and a founding member of Liberty States Fiction Writers. She lives in southern NJ, just a bit outside of Philadelphia and shares a home with a cat who thinks she’s royalty.

Catch up with Rayna online on her website, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Thanks for popping in. And keep reading my friends!

Happy Book Birthday to RACING THE SUN! Giveaway, too!

 

From the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of Where Sea Meets Sky comes a new adult novel about a young woman who becomes a nanny in Capri and falls for her charges’ bad-boy brother.

When I’m traveling, I feel like the secret to my life, to myself, to really becoming, is one step ahead. It’s in the next destination, the next town I get lost in, the next stranger I talk to. It’s always next but never here . . .

After six months of backpacking and soul-searching across the world, Amber MacLean is flat broke. There are worse places for a twentysomething to be stuck than the Amalfi Coast, but the only way she can earn enough money for a plane ticket home to California is to teach English to two of the brattiest children she has ever met.

It doesn’t help that the children are under the care of their brooding older brother, ex-motorcycle racer Desiderio Larosa. Darkly handsome and oh-so-mysterious, the young master of the crumbling villa tests Amber’s patience and will at every turn—not to mention her hormones.

When her position turns into a full-time nanny gig, Amber grows dangerously closer to the enigmatic recluse. But can she give up the certainty of home for someone whose closely guarded heart feels a world apart from her own?

 

****GIVEAWAY****

Click the Rafflecopter link to enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of RACING THE SUN.
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
With her USA Today Bestselling The Artists Trilogy published by Grand Central Publishing, numerous foreign publication deals, and self-publishing success with her Experiment in Terror series, Vancouver-born Karina Halle is a true example of the term “Hybrid Author.” Though her books showcase her love of all things dark, sexy and edgy, she’s a closet romantic at heart and strives to give her characters a HEA…whenever possible.

Karina holds a screenwriting degree from Vancouver Film School and a Bachelor of Journalism from TRU. Her travel writing, music reviews/interviews and photography have appeared in publications such as Consequence of Sound, Mxdwn and GoNomad Travel Guides. She currently lives on an island on the coast of British Columbia where she’s preparing for the zombie apocalypse with her fiancé and rescue pup.

Catch up with Karin online on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon Author Page.

htanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

He’s Sweet as COTTON CANDY–Blog Tour and Giveaway

tourbutton_cottoncandyHi there! Today I’m getting the word out about a new cowboy M/M Romance from Mae Hancock. COTTON CANDY is a contemporary romance that features a love interest who struggles with OCD–Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It’s bound to bring a new perspective to the love story.

Don’t forget to scroll down and enter the giveaway!

Cotton Candy (Wyoming Lovers Book 2)About the book:
Cowboy Cotton Reid is the laid-back type of guy who accepts people as they are, no matter how flawed. People think he’s fun, honest and crazy about his boss and friend the sexy rancher Bay Redman.

Living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is something that family man Bay has done his whole life. Bay can be like a bear with a sore head if the hay isn’t stored symmetrically or his fridge contains an odd number of jars.

When the two men begin a hot affair, Cotton keeps an important secret from Bay. If he can’t find the courage to tell him the truth before someone else does, Bay may never be able to let it go.

How about a little taste?

The heat of the spring sunshine made the air thick and heavy like midsummer as Cotton and Bay rode back toward the ranch after a long day rounding up cattle for market. A faint breeze caught strands of Cotton’s hair, blowing it into his face beneath the tan Stetson. He lifted the hat off and ran his fingers through his damp mop of hair. Then, pulling a band from his wrist, he secured the locks into a familiar small bunch, leaving a fingerbreadth of tail hair at the nape of his neck.

Glad for the momentary relief from the heat, he placed the hat back on and took in Bay’s broad shoulders as he rode in front. For some reason today, Cotton had not been able to break away from studying each movement Bay made. Twice before, Cotton had stared at the man too long and noticed Bay’s brown eyes searching his own. Has he noticed me watching him? The man’s deep, smoky cedar scent carried to Cotton on the wind, the smell so rich and bountiful it made his senses stir with desire.

Starting to get darn near obsessed with the man who doesn’t even notice me—not in a carnal way anyhow.

Bay and he were boss and hired help. Bay didn’t chase, pursue, desire—or even demand anything of Cotton, which served to make the man more attractive. Bay’s sensual, deep-brown eyes tugged at Cotton with each glance, and Bay’s thick lashes fanned out, flattering his dark-bronze skin. A simple, meaningless smile had far-reaching and significant implications for Cotton. Put simply, it meant Bay approved of him and the things he did. The rancher’s soft, full lips framed milk-white teeth, and sent urgent ripples right through Cotton’s body, leaving his fingertips tingling and the reins slippery with his sweat.

Notes from the Author:

I’ve already touched on the topic of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) before in a blog when Enticing Hart was released. It only seems fitting to do a small blog on OCD from the perspective of Bay in Cotton Candy. This second story in the Wyoming Lovers series depicts the relationship between cowboy, Cotton Reid and rancher, Bay Redman.

I realized early on I’d given myself a tall order by combining an alpha male with OCD, nevertheless OCD can often be a sign of an individual with a lot of anxieties and hang ups which are locked away deep in the psyche. I guess we often think that these troubles are the antithesis of what we deem to be the dominant male. However, these people are often highly dominant because they have obsessive/control tendencies and these manifest in different ways. In Bay’s case his angst over personal tragedies are channeled into the control and symmetry surrounding everyday/inanimate objects.

OCD affects thousands of people’s lives everyday, often causing misery but often it comes with a high degree of professional success and is also seen in many people with extremely high IQ’s. These idiosyncrasies can often help a person achieve goals, which are unimaginable to many of us.

In the long term, whether Bay will be able to overcome the differences caused by his OCD, remains to be seen. The first step though has been making the essential move to acknowledge the problem and ask for help with the support of his lover and family. In many cases people with OCD go through their whole lives without being able to change it. Perhaps we will find out what happens to Bay in the next story of the series of Wyoming Lovers, Sayers Way.

Interested? You can find COTTON CANDY on Goodreads, Loose Id, Amazon, AllRomance and Barnes & Noble.

****GIVEAWAY****

Make sure to follow the whole tour—the more posts you visit throughout, the more chances you’ll get to enter the giveaway.
Click on the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Mae Hancock enjoys writing both academic and fiction material. Her research interests include focus on people who experience marginalization, both in historical societies and modern. Themes include disability, neurosis, homosexuality, addiction, mental illness, slavery and prostitution. The most important part of her work is creating multi-dimensional, believable characters that are able to build lasting romantic relationships against the odds. She wants all her readers to laugh, cry and enjoy the erotic journey towards a happy ending.

Catch up with Mae online on her website, blog, Facebook and twitter.

Living Past Grief in A TIME FOR EVERYTHING–Review and Giveaway



Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for Mysti Parker’s historical romance A TIME FOR EVERYTHING. I must say, I’ve read a lot of historical romance, but nothing from the Restoration Period–that rebuilding time following the Civil War here in the US. I was truly enchanted by this gentle romance.

About the book:
After losing her husband and only child to the ravages of the Civil War, twenty-five-year-old Portia McAllister is drowning in grief. When she sees an ad for a live-in tutor in another town, she leaves everything behind in hopes of making a fresh start. But as a Confederate widow in a Union household, she is met with resentment from her new charge and her employer, war veteran Beau Stanford.

Despite their differences, she and Beau find common ground and the stirrings of a second chance at love—until his late wife’s cousin, Lydia, arrives with her sights set on him. Burdened with a farm on the brink of bankruptcy, Beau is tempted by Lydia’s hefty dowry, though Portia has captured his heart.

In another time and another place, his choice would be easy. But love seems impossible amid the simmering chaos of Reconstruction that could boil over at any moment into an all-out battle for survival. Will Beau and Portia find their way into each other’s arms, or will they be swept away by raging forces beyond their control?

How about a little taste?

Ezra opened another envelope. “It’s a letter from Claire’s uncle.”

“Oliver?”

The old man took his glasses from his shirt pocket, put them on his nose, and held the letter at arm’s length. “Looks like he’s heading back from Philadelphia in a couple of weeks. He’s bringing Lydia.”

“She was always a sweet little girl.” Beau recalled some of the letters he’d received from her since Claire’s death. My dearest Beau… not a day passes that does not carry with it the memories I have of you…

“She ain’t so little no more,” he said with a smile. “She’s a young woman now. And you ain’t so old yourself.”

“Not that again.” With his thumb, Beau instinctively touched the golden band on his left ring finger.

“They’ve got money and lots of it.”

Here we go. Gold sparkled in Ezra’s eyes, or was that the thrill of matchmaking? Either way, Beau didn’t like it. He frowned and plopped his hat back on his head.

“Now don’t give me that look, son. It’s been two years. You need to find somebody. Give Jonathan a mama.”

“He had a mama. And we’re fine.” He hated the way his voice broke every time someone forced him to talk about Claire, so he made his retreat into Scout’s stall. The sixteen-year-old stallion was the most level-headed Morgan he’d ever owned. He nuzzled his master as soon as he saw the brush in Beau’s hand.

Ezra followed, thumbs tucked behind his overall straps. “You’re not fine, Beauregard. You need a lady to run things around here. Harry and Isaac are back with the new teacher, right?”

“I reckon so.” He brushed Scout’s neck with soft, gentle strokes.

“Portia, wasn’t it? Portia McAllister?”

“You’d know better than me. I didn’t want to hire her in the first place. It’s bad enough she’s a Rebel’s widow, but Harry says she’s not what we expected. Is she blind or deaf or missing a leg or what?”

“Heck if I know, son. I ain’t met her yet, either. All I’ve seen is her letter.”

“And according to that letter, her husband worked as an overseer.”

“Part-time assistant to an overseer.”

“Same difference.”

“Don’t matter what he was. She’s a former schoolteacher. And you know Claire wanted this for Jonny until he’s old enough for the university. I ain’t gonna be responsible for her coming back to haunt us for not abiding by her wishes.”

“Yeah, well when Claire was here, we had the money for such things. Now, it’s all we can do to keep food on the table and the few farm hands we got. With the measly pensions me and Harry get, it’s a wonder we can even do that. And now some Rebel woman who may or may not have some sort of deformity will be teaching my son and running my house. What are we supposed to pay her with? Praise?”

“I can’t help it if she’s the only one who replied.”

Beau huffed as he picked prickly burrs from Scout’s mane. “Does she know Jonny’s mute?”

“He’s not mute. He’ll come around with the right encouragement.”

“Still doesn’t solve the problem of how we’re gonna pay her.”

“If she’s so desperate that she’s not got any kin or neighbors to stay with, she’ll probably be grateful for the room and board alone. Let’s give her a chance, at least. We’ve got room, and we’ll still be hospitable, no matter how bare our cupboards are.”

“I swear, if this is another one of your matchmaking schemes…”

“It’s not, so shut your trap.”

Beau heaved a long, tired sigh. “Guess I better head to the house and welcome the crippled up gal like a good host should.”

My Review:
I really loved this! The writing is spectacular, descriptive yet not heavy-handed, with just a touch of romance and conspiracy to liven up the plot.

Portia is alone, a war widow, having buried her husband and infant daughter within 8 months of each other. The war has ended and she is not content to sit in her brother-in-law’s home–crowding her dearest friends–and seeks employment as a governess at a horse farm two day’s ride away from her home in Tennessee. Her new home is quite a bit more spectacular than any place she’s ever lived, but Beau Stanford is no longer the wealthy man he once was. His father had set their slaves free decades before the War Between the States, and still only keep Black Freedmen on their farm. Beau came back wounded from a bullet to the shoulder and a widowed man, his beloved Claire dead. His grief was so great he lashed out at his young son, Jonny, scaring the boy mute.

Portia aims to help. She needs to feel useful, and hates that she’s considered with suspicion on account of her husband being a Confederate–Jake was a kind and gentle man who kept no slaves and only entered the war because he was pressed. Beau’s black servants are more like family than help, and Beau himself does the lions’ share of work on the farm. His long-time friend, Henry, has designs on courting Portia, but she wants no part of that. She is intrigued by Beau, whose grief is still as deep as her own.

Jonny’s capable of speech, though he hasn’t spoken aloud in almost two years, but Portia’s able to carefully pry away his sorrow and make a deep connection. Unfortunately, as soon as Portia is able to get a foothold in the Stanford household, the arrival of Lydia and her scheming father, Oliver, throws all her work into disarray. Lydia has long held designs on Beau, and–while Beau is at first intrigued by Lydia’s resemblance to his beloved Claire–it’s clear that Lydia will get exactly what she wants, regardless of who she hurts to get her way. And Oliver is truly despicable.

I relished the quick plot movements and careful detail placement. This book immersed me in the desolate Reconstruction Era, where rebuilding is the state of the world, and lawlessness reigns in the vacuum of so many young men lost to war. Beau is honorable, self-sacrificing and industrious. He knows he must marry Lydia, and not only for his own mercenary needs, but he can’t help falling for Portia. She’s a totally different woman to Lydia, or Claire even, and he knows this strong, self-sufficient, brave woman is one who can stand by his side in these lean times. Portia doesn’t want to love again. She and Jake were childhood sweethearts, and yet she’s moved by Beau’s kindness and also loses her heart to Jonny completely. There are some plot twists that I half-suspected, but was pleasantly surprised in the execution.

In truth, there were a couple times I thought we’d hit the HEA, only to get sucker-punched into a new twist. Portia is a plucky woman–which I adored. Her life has always been a struggle, but she bobs and weaves, finding the best path she can trod of the limited paths available. Really, a great read. Don’t expect any heat, but it’s chock full of heart.

Interested? You can find A TIME FOR EVERYTHING on Goodreads and Amazon.

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About the Author:
Mysti Parker is a wife, mom, author, and shameless chocoholic. She is the author of the Tallenmere standalone fantasy romance series and The Roche Hotel romantic comedy series. Her short writings have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her award-winning historical romance, A Time for Everything, will be published this summer by EsKape Press.

Other writing pursuits include serving as a class mentor in Writers Village University’s seven week online course, F2K. She has published two children’s books (Quentin’s Problem & Fuzzy Buzzy’s Treasure) as Misty Baker.

When she’s not writing fiction,Mysti reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online spec-fic publication. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.

You can catch up with Mysti online on her website, Facebook and twitter.