2020 Book #9 – Witness Protection Widow by Debra Webb

51SmVhNgeJLTitle: Witness Protection Widow
Author: Debra Webb
Date finished: 2/1/20
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Publication Date: February 1, 2020
Pages in book: 256
Stand alone or series: Winchester, Tennessee Thriller book #5
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from Harlequin in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Can the witness protection program keep her identity secret?

After Allison James finally escapes her marriage to a monster, she becomes the star witness in the case against her deceased husband’s powerful crime family. Now it’s up to US Marshal Jaxson Stevens, Ali’s ex-boyfriend, to keep the WITSEC widow safe. But as the danger escalates and sparks fly, will Jax be able to help Ali escape her ruthless in-laws?

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’m reading this book in connection with Harlequin’s February blog tour series to highlight releases of their category romances. I used to read these category series romances a lot and I was glad to be able to read some more recent releases. Category romances are a great place to find a quick read and are true to the category they’re published in. Looking for some thrills? Read an Intrigue! And for an Intrigue this one was really good! Ali and Jax were both interesting and endearing characters. I especially liked Ali’s dog Bob, he was great! The ending was a little anti-climactic only because I kept thinking that something more awful was going to happen. Other than that it was a pretty good book – I was interested in the story line throughout and I wanted to find out what was going to happen.

Link to author’s website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

(Harlequin series) Witness Protection Widow BLOG TOUR!!

Harlequin Series Spine ShowcaseHarlequin is featuring their category romance in a February 2020 series blog tour! Witness Protection Widow was released TODAY, and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! I enjoyed the book – my review should follow shortly after this post! See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt: 

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SUMMARY

Can the witness protection program keep her identity secret?

After Allison James finally escapes her marriage to a monster, she becomes the star witness in the case against her deceased husband’s powerful crime family. Now it’s up to US Marshal Jaxson Stevens, Ali’s ex-boyfriend, to keep the WITSEC widow safe. But as the danger escalates and sparks fly, will Jax be able to help Ali escape her ruthless in-laws?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author photo_Debra WebbDEBRA WEBB is the award winning, USA Today bestselling author of more than 150 novels, including reader favorites the Faces of Evil, the Colby Agency, and the Shades of Death series. With more than four million books sold in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood on a farm in Alabama. Visit Debra at www.DebraWebb.com

BUY IT HERE!

EXCERPT

51SmVhNgeJLShe shivered. The fire had gone out. She kept on her jacket while she added logs to the fireplace and kindling to get it started. Within a couple of minutes, the fire was going. She’d had a fireplace as a kid, so relearning her way around this one hadn’t been so bad. She went back to the kitchen and turned on the kettle for tea.

Bob growled low in his throat and stared toward the front door.

She froze. Her phone was in her hip pocket. Her gun was still in her waistband at the small of her back. This was something else Marshal Holloway had in­sisted upon. He’d taught her how to use a handgun. They’d held many target practices right behind this cabin.

A creak beyond the front door warned that some­one was on the porch. She eased across the room and went to the special peephole that had been installed. There was one on each side of the cabin, allowing for views all the way around. A man stood on the porch. He was the typical local cowboy. Jeans and boots. Hat in his hands. Big truck in the drive. Just like Marshal Holloway.

But she did not know this man.

“Alice Stewart, if you’re in there, it’s okay for you to open the door. I’m Sheriff Colt Tanner. Branch sent me.”

Her heart thudding, she held perfectly still. Branch would never send someone to her without letting her know first. If for some reason he couldn’t tell her in advance, they had a protocol for these situations.

She reached back, fingers curled about the butt of her weapon. Bob moved stealthily toward the door.

“I know you’re concerned about opening the door to a stranger, but you need to trust me. Branch has been in an accident, and he’s in the hospital undergoing surgery right now. No matter that his injuries were serious, he refused to go into surgery until he spoke to me and I assured him I would look after you, ma’am.”

Worry joined the mixture of fear and dread churn­ing inside her. She hoped Branch wasn’t hurt too badly. He had a wife and a daughter.

She opened her mouth to ask about his condition, but then she snapped it shut. The man at her door had not said the code word.

2020 Book #7 -Scot Under the Covers by Suzanne Enoch

51Qs0av7xSLTitle: Scot Under the Covers
Author: Suzanne Enoch
Date finished: 1/23/20
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Wild Wicked Highlanders series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley / Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

In Scot Under the Covers, a resourceful English lady and a hot-blooded Highlander join forces to trick a scoundrel, and every rule will be broken!

Miranda Harris is known for her charm, wit, and ability to solve any problem she encounters. But when her brother lands neck-deep in gambling debt to a crafty villain and Miranda is subsequently blackmailed into marrying him, she must enlist the help of the devil himself to save the family honor—and herself.

“It’s time to fall in love with Suzanne Enoch.” — Lisa Kleypas

Devilishly handsome Highlander Aden MacTaggert knows next to nothing about the ways of the ton, but he most certainly knows his way around gaming halls and womens’ hearts. Still, Aden is not sure how he’ll manage to find a Sassenach bride in time to save his family’s inheritance. When his almost sister-in-law Miranda comes to him for assistance, he proposes a partnership: She will help him navigate London society and he’ll teach her everything about wagering…and winning back her freedom. The beautiful, clever lass intrigues Aden—but is she playing her own game, or are the sparks between them real? He is accustomed to risking his pocket. But betting on Miranda’s love is a game he can’t afford to lose. . .

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had read the first book in this series early last year and really enjoyed it. It took me a minute to pick back up with who the characters were and what not but I was excited to get back into the series! And while I always enjoy Enoch’s writing and characters’ relationship development, the plot line on this one didn’t hit me right. I was really upset with Matthew’s actions and I didn’t really feel like he got punished at all. I mean I’m sure he was upset, maybe even distraught, but his role in the story was pretty damn awful and Eloise didn’t even pretend to be mad at him for like 5 minutes. So anyways, that piece of the plot made me pretty angry, but other than that I liked the book. I especially liked the ending, I thought it was very forward-thinking and very romantic. Great cast of characters and some entertaining banter between the hero and heroine. I would still recommend it! And I can’t wait for Coll’s novel, which I hope is next!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #4 – Hunting for a Highlander by Lynsay Sands

51Oio45BkYLTitle: Hunting for a Highlander
Author: Lynsay Sands
Date finished: 1/17/20
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: #8 in the Highland Brides series
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Four Buchanan brothers have found their brides…only three more to go in this scintillating romance from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands…

Lady Dwyn Innes feels utterly out of place among the eligible women who’ve descended on Buchanan Keep, vying for the attention of the last unmarried brothers. She isn’t long-legged and slender like her sisters, or flirtatious and wily like other lasses. Since her betrothed died, Dwyn has resigned herself to becoming an old maid. Yet a chance encounter with a stranger in the orchard awakens her to a new world of sensation and possibility…

After weeks away, Geordie Buchanan returns to find his home swarming with potential brides, thanks to his loving but interfering family. But one lass in particular draws his attention from the moment he spies her climbing a tree. Lady Dwyn is not nearly as plain as she thinks. Her lush figure and eager kisses delight him, as does her honesty. But the real test lies ahead: eliminating a hidden enemy, so that he and Dwyn can seal their Highland passion with a vow.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have read others in the series and always enjoy reading Lynsay Sands and was glad to have the opportunity to read her upcoming release. This was a pretty good book, I enjoyed it. I struggled a little because I never was able to read it during a time when I could really concentrate on it, I was reading it in spurts here and there so it was a little harder to get into the plot line. Overall though the plot line was good. There were some good plot twists, most were predictable but they were good just the same. And I loved how honest the conversation was amongst the main characters, especially Geordie and Dwyn. Their frank conversation was refreshing while also being pretty hilarious at times. Some of the characters seemed a little ridiculous, only because they seemed to be overly exaggerated – some to the point of being caricature-like. And there was a lot of mention of other characters who seemed to have had their own books. Most of those characters I didn’t know since I didn’t read their books but that didn’t take any enjoyment out of the book for me. Overall I thought it was a really enjoyable, entertaining, and exciting read. I’d definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

Podcasts Galore! Romance Novel edition

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I have pretty much an hour long drive to and from work each day and I’ve always heard about podcasts being a good way to pass the time. So when I got an iPhone this year (for work) I decided to try them. And I quickly became obsessed! There is such a wealth of podcasts out there, there’s something for everyone really. And I found so many that are about reading, and many specifically about romance novels. I’ve tried a variety of them and there are a few that I’ve really come to love!

  1. Fated Mates Podcast – I was going to try and summarize this podcast but really I don’t think I can summarize it any better than what’s listed on their website: “Fated Mates is a romance novel podcast co-hosted by author Sarah MacLean and romance critic Jen Prokop. Weekly episodes include romance novel read-alongs and discussions of the work of the genre, highlighting the romance novel as a powerful tool in fighting patriarchy…with absolutely no kink shaming.” This is a great podcast and I’ve gotten so many good book recommendations from the interstitial episodes. And its hilarious!!
  2. Learning the Tropes Podcast – Erin (romance novel veteran) and Clayton (romance novel virgin) read a variety of novels and discuss them. My gosh this blog post is FUNNY. I love Clayton’s take on these books – it’s so refreshing to hear a man’s view on books I’ve loved forever. And I think this podcast also “fights the patriarchy” in a similar way.
  3. Not Your Mom’s Romance Book Club – Ellen and her Mom are very entertaining and sweet. Their interactions remind me a lot of how my Mom and I talk to each other. They seem to read a lot of the books that I’m either interested in or are signed up to review for new publications.
  4. Wicked Wallflowers Podcast – This book is a little different from the other three as it doesn’t necessarily go in depth to discuss a certain book per episode. This podcast features popular romance authors, and while they do talk about books the podcast overall is more about discussion of different tropes and issues surrounding the romance genre. Listed on their About page on their website: “this podcast about romance fiction takes the guilt out of “guilty pleasure” with author interviews and deep dives into new releases. It’s a compelling reminder of why the oft-dismissed genre is a real force in cultural conversations about consent and desire.” It’s super funny!!

All four of these make me laugh out loud on a regular basis and really keep the drive to work much more entertaining. There are a number of other romance novel specific podcasts out there – and really a wealth of non-romance book podcasts also. I’m listening to a few new ones now to see if I like them before I delve into the backlist episodes. But the four listed above are super and I would definitely recommend them!

What about all of you out there? Any podcasts you love?

2019 Book #80 – The Duke’s Stolen Bride by Sophie Jordan

512jesA6P5LTitle: The Duke’s Stolen Bride
Author: Sophie Jordan
Date finished: 10/22/19
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: #5 in The Rogue Files series
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

An urgent dilemma…

To save her impoverished family, Marian Langley will become a mistress. But she will not be just any mistress. Marian intends to become so skilled, so coveted, that she can set her own terms, retaining control over her body and her fate. Only one problem remains: finding a tutor…

A scandalous solution…

Other men deprive themselves of pleasure for propriety’s sake. Nathaniel, Duke of Warrington, would much rather be depraved. He slakes his desires with professionals who ask nothing of him but his coin. Marian’s proposal—that he train her without taking her virtue—is an intriguing diversion, until their lessons in seduction spin out of control.

And a most unlikely duchess…

When Marian is blackmailed into engagement by a man she despises, Nate impulsively steals her away. Though he never intended to take a wife, he can’t tolerate the idea of Marian forfeiting her freedom to another. But can he bear to give her what she demands—a real marriage?

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also I’m reading this book as part of my October Bookish Bingo Reading Challenge, checking of the “a character goes missing” box since Marian gets herself kidnapped towards the end of the book (*spoiler alert* I guess though it’s not a huge plot point).

I had actually read the last book in this series also (#4) and didn’t really realize it til partway through the book. Which is fine. Anyways, I had mixed feelings about this book. There was a lot that I did really like – the chemistry between the two main characters was fantastic and I swear the pages caught on fire during a couple of their intimate scenes. Also the book overall really captured my interest and I wanted to see how the book would end. At the same time though, there were some problematic areas of the book for me. The biggest is probably the scene where Marian and Nate have sex for the first time – there is some questionable consent in the scene that made me unhappy. It involved Nate being the one not fully consenting, but I don’t think that should be treated any differently than how a reader would think of the scene were a woman in his place. I also just overall wasn’t into the plot line personally. The fact that Marian had to basically throw herself at him, and then let him walk all over her in order to strike the deal she needed, was not my cup of tea. I’m sure it will 100% work for certain readers but it didn’t for me. Overall this was (I thought) a well written book but it just wasn’t the right fit for me personally.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2019 Book #75 – A Duke in the Night by Kelly Bowen

51yHyvPrGzLTitle: A Duke in the Night
Author: Kelly Bowen
Date finished: 9/30/19
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Publication Date: February 20, 2018
Pages in book: 337
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Devils of Dover series
Where I got the book from: Publisher/Author
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

An enchanting historical romance from the 2018 RITA award-winning author that New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean calls “a charming, clever, and engaging storyteller.”
Named to All About Romance’s “The Best of 2018!”
Duke. Scoundrel. Titan of business. August Faulkner is a man of many talents, not the least of which is enticing women into his bedchamber. He’s known-and reviled-for buying and selling companies, accumulating scads of money, and breaking hearts. It’s a reputation he wears like a badge of honor, and one he intends to keep.Clara Hayward, the headmistress of the Haverhall School for Young Ladies, on the other hand, is above reproach. Yet when she’s reunited with August all she can think of is the way she felt in his arms as they danced a scandalous waltz ten long years ago. Even though her head knows that he is only back in her life to take over her family’s business, her heart can’t help but open to the very duke who could destroy it for good.My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I thought the plot line of this book sounded really interesting. And I ended up enjoying it! I really liked both Clara and August’s characters in this book – they were both pretty well developed and I loved how attached they were to each other. I especially loved Clara’s character and how passionate she was about the work she was doing with her students. This book definitely had some very feminist ideas – the work that Clara was doing with her students was very forward thinking. The students were all super interesting too, and Clara’s siblings also. I’m really interested to know what Clara’s brother was up to all the times he was sneaking off, I wonder if we’ll get a book about him too. I’m also kind of interested to read Rose’s story but I love Clara so much it’s hard to think that I’d like Rose just as much but you never know. I did think that the ending of this book wrapped up a little quickly, the last maybe 4 to 6 pages wrapped up all the open points in the book. Other than that I liked the book, I’d recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page