Starry-Eyed Love (Spark House: Book 2) by Helena Hunting

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of Publication: May 10th, 2022

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction

Series: Spark House

When Sparks Fly—book 1 (review here)

Starry-Eyed Love—book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Charming, hilarious, and emotional, Starry-Eyed Love is Helena Hunting at her very best!

Having just broken up with her boyfriend, London Spark is not in the mood to be hit on. Especially not when she’s out celebrating her single status with her sisters. So when a very attractive man pays for their drinks and then slips her his number, she passes it right back to him with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’. As the business administrator for their family’s event hotel, the Spark House, London has more important things to worry about, like bringing in new clientele.

As luck would have it, a multi-million-dollar company calls a few months later asking for a meeting to discuss a potential partnership, and London is eager to prove to her sisters, and herself, that she can land this deal. Just when she thinks she has nailed her presentation, the company’s CEO, Jackson Holt, walks in and inserts himself into the meeting. Not only that, but he also happens to be the same guy she turned down at the bar a few months ago.

As they begin to spend more time together, their working relationship blossoms into something more. It isn’t until their professional entanglements are finally over, that London and Jackson are finally ready to take the next step in their relationship. But between Jackson’s secretive past and London’s struggle with her sisters, London must question where she really stands – not just with Jackson, but with the Spark House, too.


First Line:

“One more round?” I tap my empty margarita glass.

Starry-Eyed Love by Helena Hunting

London had just broken up with her boyfriend when she was approached by a charming (and attractive) stranger at a bar. Turning him down, London thinks nothing of it. Fast forward a couple of months, and London is working on bringing in a new client as a sponsor for her family’s hotel. To her surprise, the stranger that she had rejected was the company’s CEO. The attraction between them is instant, but both are determined to keep things professional until after the auction. After the auction, all bets are off. As London and Jackson start dating, they need to navigate Jackson’s secrets and London being overwhelmed with her job. But, when a secret from Jackson’s not so distant past rears its head, it could cost them everything.

I loved London. I understood why she initially didn’t take Jackson’s number at the beginning of the book. She tried to get over her ex and didn’t want a rebound relationship. Sidenote: Very refreshing for an author NOT to have a romantic lead ping-ponging between men. Anyway, back to London. I also loved her reaction to realizing who Jackson was when she gave the presentation. I was laughing during that. But she also did annoy me. She didn’t want to confront Avery about hiring people to help. She walked in on half a conversation and immediately low keyed flipped out on Jackson (not that he didn’t deserve it—he did, but calling herself the “other woman” when he was clear that he wasn’t in a relationship with Selene was a little dramatic). But that made her more relatable.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if Jackson liked London until about halfway through the book. His reasons for turning her down were valid, but he kept blowing hot and cold. He also kept ignoring good advice from people close to him until it exploded at the auction. But, the way he tried to win London back tugged at my heartstrings.

I want to mention that I wouldn’t say I liked how Avery was portrayed in the book. She went complete Bridezilla at the end. That went against how she was described in book 1. I wasn’t a big fan of that.

I also wasn’t a fan of Selene or how she was written. I figured what her role in Jackson’s past was, but I thought her arc would go a different way. I wasn’t a fan of how she treated London or how mad she was at Jackson. She was the one who wasn’t responding to texts or answering calls. And what she said to him on the terrace was unbelievable. But, I do like how she did try to make things right with London at the end.

I loved how natural Jackson and London’s romance was. It wasn’t a week of them banging like rabbits and deciding that they were in love. Instead, their relationship grew over a couple of months. It was beautiful to watch that. Even the fight (and Jackson’s “betrayal”) was natural, as was the breakup and reconciliation. I loved it!!

The sexual chemistry that Jackson and London had was instant. And like their romance, it was allowed to grow. The author conveyed so much with a kiss or a touch. The sex scenes were just graphic enough, but enough left unsaid so that I could use my imagination.

The go green/auctions/hiring of Spark House storyline was well written. I liked how the author tied Jackson’s experiences with his parents into his passion for green living. There was a lot of technical jargon that I didn’t understand (or care to google), but it didn’t matter to me. That was a tiny blip in an otherwise terrific storyline.

The end of Starry-Eyed Love was excellent. I’m not going to get into it, but I was wowed with what Jackson did. It was the perfect ending for the book.

I would recommend Starry-Eyed Love for anyone over 21. There is mild language, mild violence, and somewhat graphic sex scenes.

WWW Wednesday: May 18th, 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Personal:

Here’s what has gone on since last week’s WWW Wednesday:

  • I left my car idling for 8 hours on Wednesday. I have 2018 Dodge Journey and it has a key fob. I was arguing with Miss R when I pulled into the driveway and parked. I must have not hit the button to shut it off before I got out. I did lock it, though. Miss B got me up at 1130 pm because she saw headlights on and thought someone was trying to steal the car. I grabbed my gun, went out of the car, and realized it had been running since 330pm. I almost died. Thankfully, besides a little gas that was used, there was no damage done.
  • Miss B was made stage manager in a musical that her friends were starring in. It was called Zombie Prom and she was super excited about it. Me, not so much. I was left waiting 45 mins on Friday night and 25 mins on Saturday night (after it ended) for her to come out.
  • BK was away from Wednesday through Sunday. He had to go to an event in Delaware. He didn’t have a great time (it rained) but had a better time than I did…lol.
  • Miss R had her first group horseback lesson since the beginning of April. Between travel for Easter, weather, and two horse shows, everything had been rescheduled. She was thrilled because she was on her favorite lesson horse.
  • The antibiotics did the trick. Snickers is using the litterbox again. She is acting like she’s feeling better (playing..etc), but I’m keeping an eye on her.

So that’s the major things for this past week. How was your week?

As always, let me know if you have read or are planning to read any of these books!!


What I Recently Finished Reading:

Charming, hilarious, and emotional, Starry-Eyed Love is Helena Hunting at her very best!

Having just broken up with her boyfriend, London Spark is not in the mood to be hit on. Especially not when she’s out celebrating her single status with her sisters. So when a very attractive man pays for their drinks and then slips her his number, she passes it right back to him with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’. As the business administrator for their family’s event hotel, the Spark House, London has more important things to worry about, like bringing in new clientele.

As luck would have it, a multi-million-dollar company calls a few months later asking for a meeting to discuss a potential partnership, and London is eager to prove to her sisters, and herself, that she can land this deal. Just when she thinks she has nailed her presentation, the company’s CEO, Jackson Holt, walks in and inserts himself into the meeting. Not only that, but he also happens to be the same guy she turned down at the bar a few months ago.

As they begin to spend more time together, their working relationship blossoms into something more. It isn’t until their professional entanglements are finally over, that London and Jackson are finally ready to take the next step in their relationship. But between Jackson’s secretive past and London’s struggle with her sisters, London must question where she really stands – not just with Jackson, but with the Spark House, too.

What I am currently reading:

An embattled actress turns to podcasting when she becomes entangled in a dark conspiracy at a spiritual retreat in this absorbing mystery about fame, violence, and our morbid fascination with murder–from the acclaimed author of Dead Letters.


Olivia Reed needs a break. She doesn’t want to think about her name plastered on tabloids or be reminded of her recent meltdown on a Manhattan street. Her micromanaging publicist has just the thing in mind: a remote retreat in Upstate New York–the House of Light. It’s not rehab; it’s a spiritual center, a site for seeking realignment and personal growth. There will be yoga and morning meditation, soft bamboo-blend fabrics and crystals to snuggle.

But Liv will soon find that the House of Light is filled with darkness. A prickly local, Ava, informs her that something twisted is lurking behind the Light’s veneer. There have been a series of mysterious suicides committed by women caught in the Light’s web, and no matter who Ava talks to, no one believes her. To get the truth out and put her celebrity to good use, Liv starts a podcast, seeking to connect the dots and expose the Light’s true intentions. Because beneath the glowing skin of the Light’s inhabitants lie rotten souls, and Liv starts to wonder if anything–even her own life–is how it appears.

Caite Dolan-Leach brings her tantalizing voice, gift for atmosphere, and a cast of delightfully devious and absorbing characters to this riveting novel of suspense.

What books I think I’ll read next:

A family vacation turns into a nightmare for Michael Hart when he discovers his wife and two children have disappeared from their New York City hotel room. Horrified, he fears they’ve been kidnapped. Michael’s frantic search to find them takes a shocking turn when he discovers that his wife, Natalie, appears to have left quite willingly, taking their children with her. The police want to know why, and so does Michael. But there may be a reason why Natalie ran, something Michael can’t tell the police — the truth about his past. While untangling his deceptions might be the key to locating Natalie, Michael knows it could also be his undoing. To find his wife, he must now turn to the one person capable of exposing all that he’s been hiding. Natalie thinks she has Michael all figured out and has hatched a plan to escape from him permanently. One detail, though, threatens to derail her efforts: sleep — or more accurately, the lack of it. Since the moment the shocking revelations about her husband came to light, Natalie’s insomnia has worsened to the point that she now suffers from delusions. Are her fears about Michael valid — or a symptom of her condition? With her children’s lives at risk, the stakes for Natalie could not be higher. On her own, running low on energy and resources, avoiding increasingly close calls with Michael — who is on the hunt and closing in fast — Natalie needs someone to turn to for help. But who can she trust when she can’t even trust herself?
Whatcha crying for, sissy? Why don’t you grow a pair?’ Rosie says to her mother…‘Send me to school and I’ll rip off your arm! Beat you with the stump.’

Abandoned by her terrorised mother at the age of six, Rosie Shadow will do anything to win the affection of her father Archie, an undead cannibal in charge of Her Majesty’s Prison Shortbury, now operating as a visitor attraction.

Clare is sent reeling into Archie’s arms with the grief of losing her boyfriend in a mysterious car accident when he collides with an ancient yew tree.

The secrets in the Medieval dungeon beneath the prison are under threat when Clare becomes suspicious of Archie’s true identity and his progeny.

Rosie Shadow is Book I in The Black Tongue Series.
Fate can have many paths. Which would you choose?

Kiera’s capacity to face death stems from training, begun when old enough to wield a knife. Befriended by wolves and raised by a group of psychic men sworn to protect humanity, she now faces mercenaries intent on reshaping the world using equal talents.


Prodigious keyboard skills and innate curiosity has led Wyatt McGlauklin to invent the unimaginable. He’s long since claimed status as the top computer science geek. Little do people know, there’s much more to Wyatt.
When a blonde spitfire steps out of nowhere to prevent his assassination, his life’s direction takes an extraordinary turn where his analytical mind can’t validate paranormal phenomena.

Fate decrees Kiera find her life partner, but she learns you don’t always get to choose whom you love. Wyatt’s arrival challenges destiny as they combine forces to preserve the world as they know it.
The Davies and Montgomery families have been locked in an ancient feud. But it’s a thin line between love and hate in Kate Bateman’s A Daring Pursuit.

TWO ENEMIES
Carys Davies is doing everything in her power to avoid marriage. Staying single is the only way to hide the secret that could ruin her—and her family—if it was revealed. For the past two seasons she’s scandalized the ton with her outrageous outfits and brazen ways in a futile bid to deter potential suitors. Outwardly confident and carefree, inside she’s disillusioned with both men and love. There’s only one person who’s never bought her act—the only man who makes her heart race: Tristan Montgomery, one of her family’s greatest rivals.

ONE SCANDALOUS BARGAIN
Wickedly proper architect Tristan needs a respectable woman to wed, but he’s never stopped wanting bold, red-headed Carys. When she mockingly challenges him to show her what she’s missing by not getting married, Tristan shocks them both by accepting her indecent proposal: one week of clandestine meetings, after which they’ll go their separate ways. But kissing each other is almost as much fun as arguing, and their affair burns hotter than either of them expects. When they find themselves embroiled in a treasonous plot, can they trust each other with their hearts, their secrets…and their lives?

WWW Wednesday: May 11th, 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Personal:

Here’s what has gone on since last week’s WWW Wednesday:

  • My birthday was on Saturday. I won’t tell you all how old I am but let’s just say that I am one year closer to being able to qualify for AARP….lol. BK and the kids did get me one of the coolest birthday presents ever. I am now a landowner in Ireland. It is 1 square foot by 1 square foot but it is my land. And because I am a landowner, I get a title. I am now a Squiress. This is a legit thing (BK wouldn’t have gotten it if it wasn’t) and I was dying when he handed me the deed and name change.
  • We had our 2nd tornado warning of the year on Friday. Because of the storms, schools were supposed to get out early but since a warning happened during dismissal, they held the kids. So early dismissal ended up not happening and the kids (well Mr. Z and Miss B) got home 20 mins earlier than usual.
  • Mother’s Day was on Sunday. We really didn’t do anything special. We just hung around, watched TV, and ate leftover birthday cake. My kids got me tuxedo cat slippers and a new windchime (I am obsessed with those).
  • I ended up taking my diluted tabby, Snickers, to the vet yesterday. There is a whole long story but the short version is that she has been peeing in the bathtub/on the wood floor for the past few months. Yesterday, she peed on Miss R’s board game (Trouble) and then Miss R told BK and I that she was crying while peeing in the litter box. So, I took her in and she has a UTI with a strong chance of bladder stones and an inflamed bladder. She got a one-time antibiotic shot with 5 days’ worth of painkillers. If that doesn’t work, we’re heading back to do X-rays and possible surgery…sigh. Keep your fingers crossed that the antibiotics work.

So that’s the major things for this past week. How was your week?

As always, let me know if you have read or are planning to read any of these books!!


What I Recently Finished Reading:

Get ready for lost wills, broody dukes, and scorching hot kissing all over London.

Constance Lysander needs a husband. Or, so society says. She’s about to give birth to her late husband’s child―a man who left her with zero money, and two other wives she didn’t know about. Thankfully, she has her Aunt by her side, and the two other wives have become close friends. But still―with a baby on the way, her shipping business to run, and an enemy skulking about, she has no time to find the perfect match.

Enter Jonathan, Earl of Sykeston. Returned war hero and Constance’s childhood best friend, his reentry into society has been harsh. Maligned for an injury he received in the line of duty, Jonathan prefers to stay out of sight. It’s the only way to keep his heart from completely crumbling. But when a missive from Constance requests his presence―to their marriage ceremony―Jonathan is on board. His feelings for Constance run deep, and he’ll do anything to make her happy, though it means risking his already bruised heart.

With Constance, Jonathan, and the new baby all together, it’s clear the wounds―both on the surface and in their relationship―run deep. But when the nights come, their wounds begin to heal, and both come to realize that their marriage of convenience is so much more than just a bargain.

What I am currently reading:

Is he an enemy?

Dillon Young is proud that she inherited her aunt’s ranch. The problem: someone is trying to run her off and is willing to do whatever it takes. Strange, dangerous things keep happening. Dillion suspects her no-good neighbor and fellow wealthy rancher Hank Stephens. Never a man to get his hands dirty, he sends others to get the job done. So, when the irresistible Cal Bennett is found passed out drunk on her property, Dillion is on high alert. Until someone takes a shot at her and Cal springs to her rescue. When the hard-bodied, no-nonsense-talking cowboy points out that she may need some help, Dillion is inclined to reluctantly agree.

Or a lover?

Waking up on a stranger’s property with a shotgun in his face is not Cal Bennett’s idea of a good time. Never mind that the woman on the other end of the barrel is one of the most fiercely beautiful women he has ever seen. Things get more interesting when he finds himself shielding her from flying bullets. It’s clear that this smart, savvy woman could use a hand and he is all too happy to lend any part of his body she requires. His proposal: pose as lovers until they find out who is after her ranch. As the danger rises and secrets are revealed, the passion explodes between them. There is no turning back.

What books I think I’ll read next:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of That Summer comes another heartfelt and unputdownable novel of family, secrets, and the ties that bind.

When her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend, Sarah Danhauser is shocked. But the wheels are in motion. Headstrong Ruby has already set a date (just three months away!) and spoken to her beloved safta, Sarah’s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the family’s beach house on Cape Cod. Sarah might be worried, but Veronica is thrilled to be bringing the family together one last time before putting the big house on the market.

But the road to a wedding day usually comes with a few bumps. Ruby has always known exactly what she wants, but as the wedding date approaches, she finds herself grappling with the wounds left by the mother who walked out when she was a baby. Veronica ends up facing unexpected news, thanks to her meddling sister, and must revisit the choices she made long ago, when she was a bestselling novelist with a different life. Sarah’s twin brother, Sam, is recovering from a terrible loss, and confronting big questions about who he is—questions he hopes to resolve during his stay on the Cape. Sarah’s husband, Eli, who’s been inexplicably distant during the pandemic, confronts the consequences of a long ago lapse from his typical good-guy behavior. And Sarah, frustrated by her husband, concerned about her stepdaughter, and worn out by challenges of life during quarantine, faces the alluring reappearance of someone from her past and a life that could have been.

When the wedding day arrives, lovers are revealed as their true selves, misunderstandings take on a life of their own, and secrets come to light. There are confrontations and revelations that will touch each member of the extended family, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.

From “the undisputed boss of the beach read” (The New York Times), The Summer Place is a testament to family in all its messy glory; a story about what we sacrifice and how we forgive. Enthralling, witty, big-hearted, and sharply observed, this is Jennifer Weiner’s love letter to the Outer Cape and the power of home, the way our lives are enriched by the people we call family, and the endless ways love can surprise us.
Sworn by Oath
Kagen Vale is the trusted and feared captain of the palace guard, charged with protecting the royal children of the Silver Empire. But one night, Kagen is drugged and the entire imperial family is killed, leaving the empire in ruins.

Abandoned by the Gods
Haunted and broken, Kagen is abandoned by his gods and damned forever. He becomes a wanderer, trying to take down as many of these enemies as possible while plotting to assassinate the usurper–the deadly Witch-king of Hakkia. While all around him magic–long banished from the world—returns in strange and terrifying ways.

Fueled by Rage
To find the royal children and exact his vengeance, Kagen must venture into strange lands, battle bizarre and terrifying creatures, and gather allies for a suicide mission into the heart of the Witch-king’s empire.

Kings and gods will fear him.

Kagen the Damned
Charming, hilarious, and emotional, Starry-Eyed Love is Helena Hunting at her very best!

Having just broken up with her boyfriend, London Spark is not in the mood to be hit on. Especially not when she’s out celebrating her single status with her sisters. So when a very attractive man pays for their drinks and then slips her his number, she passes it right back to him with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’. As the business administrator for their family’s event hotel, the Spark House, London has more important things to worry about, like bringing in new clientele.

As luck would have it, a multi-million-dollar company calls a few months later asking for a meeting to discuss a potential partnership, and London is eager to prove to her sisters, and herself, that she can land this deal. Just when she thinks she has nailed her presentation, the company’s CEO, Jackson Holt, walks in and inserts himself into the meeting. Not only that, but he also happens to be the same guy she turned down at the bar a few months ago.

As they begin to spend more time together, their working relationship blossoms into something more. It isn’t until their professional entanglements are finally over, that London and Jackson are finally ready to take the next step in their relationship. But between Jackson’s secretive past and London’s struggle with her sisters, London must question where she really stands – not just with Jackson, but with the Spark House, too.
An embattled actress turns to podcasting when she becomes entangled in a dark conspiracy at a spiritual retreat in this absorbing mystery about fame, violence, and our morbid fascination with murder–from the acclaimed author of Dead Letters.


Olivia Reed needs a break. She doesn’t want to think about her name plastered on tabloids or be reminded of her recent meltdown on a Manhattan street. Her micromanaging publicist has just the thing in mind: a remote retreat in Upstate New York–the House of Light. It’s not rehab; it’s a spiritual center, a site for seeking realignment and personal growth. There will be yoga and morning meditation, soft bamboo-blend fabrics and crystals to snuggle.

But Liv will soon find that the House of Light is filled with darkness. A prickly local, Ava, informs her that something twisted is lurking behind the Light’s veneer. There have been a series of mysterious suicides committed by women caught in the Light’s web, and no matter who Ava talks to, no one believes her. To get the truth out and put her celebrity to good use, Liv starts a podcast, seeking to connect the dots and expose the Light’s true intentions. Because beneath the glowing skin of the Light’s inhabitants lie rotten souls, and Liv starts to wonder if anything–even her own life–is how it appears.

Caite Dolan-Leach brings her tantalizing voice, gift for atmosphere, and a cast of delightfully devious and absorbing characters to this riveting novel of suspense.

Top Ten Tuesday: Last 10 Romances I Added to my TBR

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

How it works:

She assigns each Tuesday a topic and then posts her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.


When I saw that today’s TTT was a love freebie, I decided to do the last 10 books I added that were romances.

So, here they are. As always, please let me know if you have read any of these!!!


1. Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley

Book Cover
A reality star and a cupcake-baking football player pretend to be a couple in order to save his bakery in this sweet and sexy romance from Jamie Wesley, Fake It Till You Bake It.

Jada Townsend-Matthews is the most reviled woman in America after turning down a proposal on a reality dating show. When she comes home to lick her wounds, Jada finds herself working at San Diego’s newest cupcake bakery, Sugar Blitz, alongside the uptight owner and professional football player Donovan Dell.

When a reporter mistakenly believes Jada and Donovan are an item, they realize they can use the misunderstanding to their advantage to help the struggling bakery and rehabilitate Jada’s image. Faking a relationship should be simple, but sometimes love is the most unexpected ingredient.

Fake it Till You Bake It is a sweet confection of a novel, the perfect story to curl up with and enjoy with a cupcake on the side.

2. The Honeymoon Cottage by Lori Foster

Book Cover
From New York Times bestseller Lori Foster, an all-new romantic family saga for fans of Jill Shalvis, Lori Wilde, and Sarah Morgan. In The Honeymoon Cottage, locals of a quirky small town help an on-the-shelf wedding planner find her own happily-ever-after.

Wedding planner Yardley Belanger has resigned herself to spinsterhood while organizing other people’s happy endings. An all-new heartwarming story of second chances at life and love, with summer weddings, a lakeside cottage for honeymooners, best friends and a rescued dog. Set in the quirky small town of Cemetery, Indiana, population 827. 

3. Taste: Kingdom of Blood and Ash by D.S. Murphy

Book Cover
An arrogant vampire prince. A scarred rebel. A love that could destroy the kingdom.

All I wanted was freedom. Instead, I’m married off to an elite prince; a symbol to unite the two races. It was the perfect system. My body and blood, in exchange for the healing elixir and the purification engines that guard against the poisonous sky. But once I reach the palace citadel, I discover more dangers than beasts outside the gates, and more power than I ever imagined.

When a buried secret shatters my identity, I’ll do anything to uncover the truth. My immortal husband – the gorgeous prince Damien – is hiding things from me, and when he discovers who I really am, I’m not sure he’ll have the power to save me. But if I can unlock my new abilities, I might be strong enough to save us both–as long as his father doesn’t kill me first.

Live together, die apart. It was a perfect system for nearly a century. Until me.

Fans of Twilight and Hunger Games are devouring this seductive vampire romance, set in a uniquely dystopian kingdom full of poisonous ash and courtly intrigue. If you love Gothic literature like Dracula, dark and brooding mysteries, and just enough gore and romance to keep things interesting, this book will keep you enthralled until the twisted ending.

4. The Marquess Makes His Move by Diana Quincy

Book Cover
Diana Quincy returns with the newest novel in the Clandestine Affairs series with a steamy romance about a half-Arab marquess seeking revenge on—and falling for—London’s most famous mapmaker.

The new footman doesn’t seem to know his place…

London’s most renowned mapmaker is a woman…but nobody knows it. If anyone discovers that Rose Fleming is the power and talent behind the family business, the scandal could ruin them. Rose’s secret is tested by the arrival of a handsome new footman who shows far too much interest in his new mistress. Rose battles an intense attraction to the enigmatic servant, but maintaining a proper distance isn’t easy when you and temptation live under the same roof.

She makes him forget he has a score to settle…

Few have met the reclusive half-Arab Marquess of Brandon, who is rumored to live with a harem of beauties among his mother’s people near Jerusalem. Brandon couldn’t care less what society thinks of him, or that his fellow peers are disdainful of his common blood, but he won’t stand for being robbed. That’s why he’s disguised himself as a footman in the home of a respected mapmaker who cheated Brandon out of his land. But the nobleman’s plans for retribution are complicated by his growing attraction for the secretive lady of the house.

When Brandon uncovers the shocking truth about Rose’s role in his stolen birthright, can a love born of deception really conquer all?

5. Love on the Lake by Helena Hunting

Book Cover
Teagan Firestone has always been the dutiful daughter, especially since her mom died. But as her father finally begins to move on, it’s her turn to do the same. Her destination: Pearl Lake, a close-knit community with an entrepreneurial spirit and secrets of its own.

One of them is Aaron Saunders, who dropped out of college to work construction for Pearl Lake’s upper class. He’s a mystery and has a playboy reputation—that is, until he meets Teagan. Neither of them is looking for love, but in a town this small, it’s hard not to let your heart get involved.

As their romance heats up, Aaron’s elusive past comes to light and Teagan is there for him, bringing them even closer together. But when Teagan is forced to face her own demons, her inability to accept the support of friends and family threatens the life she’s worked so hard to build.

Can Aaron love her, even when she can’t love herself?

6. Sadie on a Plate by Amanda Elliot

Book Cover
A chef’s journey to success leads to discovering the perfect recipe for love in this delicious romantic comedy.

Sadie is a rising star in the trendy Seattle restaurant scene. Her dream is to create unique, modern, and mouthwatering takes on traditional Jewish recipes. But after a public breakup with her boss, a famous chef, she is sure her career is over–until she lands a coveted spot on the next season of her favorite TV show, Chef Supreme.

On the plane to New York, Sadie has sizzling chemistry with her seatmate, Luke, but tells him that she won’t be able to contact him for the next six weeks. They prolong their night with a spontaneous, magical dinner before parting ways. Or so she thinks. When she turns up to set the next day, she makes a shocking discovery about who Luke is….

If Sadie wants to save her career by winning Chef Supreme, she’s going to have to ignore the simmering heat between her and Luke. But how long can she do that before the pot boils over?

7. The Good Girl’s Guide to Rakes by Eva Leigh

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In USA TODAY bestselling author Eva Leigh’s new novel a notorious rake and an innocent debutante strike a scandalous bargain…

When Kieran Ransome’s latest antics result in a massive scandal, his father issues an ultimatum: find a respectable wife or inherit nothing. But as one of London’s most inveterate scoundrels, Kieran doesn’t know any ladies who fit the bill. Or does he?

Celeste Kilburn is a society darling, beloved by influential members of the ton. But keeping a spotless reputation leaves little room for adventure and she longs to escape her gilded cage, especially with her impending engagement to a stuffy earl. When Kieran—her older brother’s best friend and an irresistibly attractive rogue—begs for her help, Celeste makes a deal: she’ll introduce him to the right social circles if he’ll show her the scandalous side of London.

In between proper teas and garden parties, Kieran escorts Celeste—disguised as “Salome”—to rowdy gaming hells, wild fêtes, and sensual art salons. As they spend more time together, their initial attraction builds to a desperate desire that neither can ignore. But when someone discovers their midnight exploits, Celeste’s freedom and reputation are endangered, and Kieran must save the woman he loves… respectable or not.

8. Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman

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A restless young journalist with big dreams interviews a Hollywood heartthrob–and, ten years later, it’s clear that their time together meant more than meets the eye in this sexy, engrossing adult debut novel.

Then. Twentysomething writer Chani Horowitz is stuck. While her former MFA classmates are nabbing book deals, she’s in the trenches writing puff pieces. Then she’s hired to write a profile of movie star Gabe Parker. The Gabe Parker–her forever celebrity crush, the object of her fantasies, the background photo on her phone–who’s also just been cast as the new James Bond. It’s terrifying and thrilling all at once . . . yet if she can keep her cool and nail the piece, it could be a huge win. Gabe will get good press, and her career will skyrocket. But what comes next proves to be life-changing in ways Chani never saw coming, as the interview turns into a whirlwind weekend that has the tabloids buzzing.

Now. Ten years later, after a brutal divorce and a heavy dose of therapy, Chani is back in Los Angeles, laser-focused on one thing: her work. But she’s still spent the better part of the last decade getting asked about her deeply personal Gabe Parker profile at every turn. No matter what new essay collection or viral editorial she’s promoting, it always comes back to Gabe. So when his PR team requests that they reunite for a second interview, she wants to say no. She wants to pretend that she’s forgotten about the time they spent together, years ago. But the truth is that those seventy-two hours are still crystal clear, etched in her memory. And so . . . she says yes.

Chani knows that facing Gabe again also means facing feelings she’s tried so hard to push away. Alternating between their first meeting and their reunion a decade later, this deliciously irresistible novel will have you hanging on until the last word.

9. Lease on Love by FalTheon Ballard

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Beach Read meets The Flatshare in this warmly funny and delightfully sharp debut rom-com about a down-on-her-luck young woman who turns an innocent mix-up between a dating app and a roommate app into a new chance at love.

She wasn’t looking for love until it landed on her doorstep.

After getting passed over for an overdue—and much-needed—promotion, Sadie Green is in desperate need of three things: a stiff drink, a new place to live, and a one-night stand. When one drink turns into one too many, Sadie mixes up a long-ignored dating app for a roommate-finding app and finds herself on the doorstep of Jack Thomas’s gorgeous Brooklyn brownstone. Too bad she’s more attracted to his impressive real estate than she is to the man himself.

Jack, still grieving the unexpected death of his parents, has learned to find comfort in video games and movie marathons instead of friends. So while he doesn’t know just what to make of the vivaciously verbose Sadie, he’s willing to offer her his spare bedroom while she gets back on her feet. And with the rent unbeatably low, Sadie can finally pursue her floristry side hustle full-time. The two are polar opposites, but as Sadie’s presence begins to turn the brownstone into a home, they both start to realize they may have just made the deal of a lifetime.

10. The Scandalous Vixen by Tracy Summer

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In this enemies-to-lovers Regency romance by award-winning author Tracy Sumner, a bold lady and a ruthless duke realize they need to agree to an ardent alliance to get what they want.

He knew at first sight.
She knew at first kiss.


Helena Astley, Lady Hell to the ton, has plans. To control her father’s shipping business, to live her way, by her rules. Her plan is going remarkably well until one ill-advised kiss invites the duke she doesn’t want but cannot resist into her life.

Hardnosed Roan Darlington, Duke of Leighton, cares little for society or finding a duchess. The only person ever to challenge him is the incorrigible, infuriating Helena Astley. The one woman he’s never been able to forget. When they’re caught in a ruinous situation, Roan offers her an alternative. A sham engagement she can break off after Christmas.

As they discover a world of forbidden pleasure, Helena must decide if she can relinquish a heart she vowed to withhold from the only man powerful enough to seize it.

And Roan must decide if falling madly, passionately in love is worth the risk.

January 2022 Wrap Up

I can’t believe that January is almost over. It seems like yesterday that it was New Years Day and I was talking with my kids about New Years Resolutions (fun fact: we didn’t do any this year).

I didn’t have the best reading month in January. I went a whole week of not reading when my kids were home because of snow and I had an ocular migraine. So, I have a ton of books to catch up on.

I am all caught up on reviews. I know, how can I be caught up on reviews? Simple. I had 4 reviews that were due at the beginning of January and I just got to them. That does make me feel better.

As always, please let me know if you have read any of these books!!


Books I got from NetGalley

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When her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend, Sarah Danhauser is shocked. But the wheels are in motion. Headstrong Ruby has already set a date (just three months away!) and spoken to her beloved safta, Sarah’s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the family’s beach house in Cape Cod. Sarah might be worried, but Veronica is thrilled to be bringing the family together one last time before putting the big house on the market.

But the road to a wedding day usually comes with a few bumps. Ruby has always known exactly what she wants, but as the wedding date approaches, she finds herself grappling with the wounds left by the mother who walked out when she was a baby. Veronica ends up facing unexpected news, thanks to her meddling sister, and must revisit the choices she made long ago, when she was a bestselling novelist with a different life. Sarah’s twin brother, Sam, is recovering from a terrible loss, and confronting big questions about who he is—questions he hopes to resolve during his stay on the Cape. Sarah’s husband, Eli, who’s been inexplicably distant during the pandemic, confronts the consequences of a long ago lapse from his typical good-guy behavior. And Sarah, frustrated by her husband, concerned about her stepdaughter, and worn out by challenges of life during quarantine, faces the alluring reappearance of someone from her past and a life that could have been.

When the wedding day arrives, lovers are revealed as their true selves, misunderstandings take on a life of their own, and secrets come to light. There are confrontations and revelations that will touch each member of the extended family, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.
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When a woman disappears with her two children, one husband will do anything to find them–even confront the secrets of his own past–in D. J. Palmer’s My Wife Is Missing, a twisty thriller from the author of The New Husband…
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Get ready for lost wills, broody dukes, and scorching hot kissing all over London.

Constance Lysander needs a husband. Or, so society says. She’s about to give birth to her late husband’s child―a man who left her with zero money, and two other wives she didn’t know about. Thankfully, she has her Aunt by her side, and the two other wives have become close friends. But still―with a baby on the way, her shipping business to run, and an enemy skulking about, she has no time to find the perfect match.

Enter Jonathan, Earl of Sykeston. Returned war hero and Constance’s childhood best friend, his reentry into society has been harsh. Maligned for an injury he received in the line of duty, Jonathan prefers to stay out of sight. It’s the only way to keep his heart from completely crumbling. But when a missive from Constance requests his presence―to their marriage ceremony―Jonathan is on board. His feelings for Constance run deep, and he’ll do anything to make her happy, though it means risking his already bruised heart.

With Constance, Jonathan, and the new baby all together, it’s clear the wounds―both on the surface and in their relationship―run deep. But when the nights come, their wounds begin to heal, and both come to realize that their marriage of convenience is so much more than just a bargain.
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Is he an enemy?

Dillon Young is proud that she inherited her aunt’s ranch. The problem: someone is trying to run her off and is willing to do whatever it takes. Strange, dangerous things keep happening. Dillion suspects her no-good neighbor and fellow wealthy rancher Hank Stephens. Never a man to get his hands dirty, he sends others to get the job done. So, when the irresistible Cal Bennett is found passed out drunk on her property, Dillion is on high alert. Until someone takes a shot at her and Cal springs to her rescue. When the hard-bodied, no-nonsense-talking cowboy points out that she may need some help, Dillion is inclined to reluctantly agree.

Or a lover?

Waking up on a stranger’s property with a shotgun in his face is not Cal Bennett’s idea of a good time. Never mind that the woman on the other end of the barrel is one of the most fiercely beautiful women he has ever seen. Things get more interesting when he finds himself shielding her from flying bullets. It’s clear that this smart, savvy woman could use a hand and he is all too happy to lend any part of his body she requires. His proposal: pose as lovers until they find out who is after her ranch. As the danger rises and secrets are revealed, the passion explodes between them. There is no turning back.
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Having just broken up with her boyfriend, London Spark is not in the mood to be hit on. Especially not when she’s out celebrating her single status with her sisters. So when a very attractive man pays for their drinks and then slips her his number, she passes it right back to him with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’. As the business administrator for their family’s event hotel, the Spark House, London has more important things to worry about, like bringing in new clientele.

As luck would have it, a multi-million-dollar company calls a few months later asking for a meeting to discuss a potential partnership, and London is eager to prove to her sisters, and herself, that she can land this deal. Just when she thinks she has nailed her presentation, the company’s CEO, Jackson Holt, walks in and inserts himself into the meeting. Not only that, but he also happens to be the same guy she turned down at the bar a few months ago.


As they begin to spend more time together, their working relationship blossoms into something more. It isn’t until their professional entanglements are finally over, that London and Jackson are finally ready to take the next step in their relationship. But between Jackson’s secretive past and London’s struggle with her sisters, London must question where she really stands – not just with Jackson, but with the Spark House, too.
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Olivia Reed needs a break. She doesn’t want to think about her name plastered on tabloids or be reminded of her recent meltdown on a Manhattan street. Her micromanaging publicist has just the thing in mind: a remote retreat in Upstate New York–the House of Light. It’s not rehab; it’s a spiritual center, a site for seeking realignment and personal growth. There will be yoga and morning meditation, soft bamboo-blend fabrics and crystals to snuggle.

But Liv will soon find that the House of Light is filled with darkness. A prickly local, Ava, informs her that something twisted is lurking behind the Light’s veneer. There have been a series of mysterious suicides committed by women caught in the Light’s web, and no matter who Ava talks to, no one believes her. To get the truth out and put her celebrity to good use, Liv starts a podcast, seeking to connect the dots and expose the Light’s true intentions. Because beneath the glowing skin of the Light’s inhabitants lie rotten souls, and Liv starts to wonder if anything–even her own life–is how it appears.

Books I got from Authors/Indie Publishers

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Pall Warren lives in a world filled with unrivaled natural beauty, constant struggle and shifting perceptions of reality. The time frame of his story is set in a medieval context. Peace over the land he lives in is an illusion only. Pall discovers that war not only must be waged against competing interests within his own land, but also against unnerving entities filled with extreme malice toward the human race. As the journey to discover who he really is unfolds, he learns that appearances are not at all what they seem to be on their surfaces.

This story is ultimately about the battle between faith and disbelief, as well as how hope and cynicism clash against one another in the human spirit.

Can the ultimate basis of truth be found? In Pall’s quest for meaning, can virtue be used to combat and overcome evil?
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Hidden in the bottom of a roadside ditch as a baby, Evangel is only steps away from her viciously murdered parents. An old hermit finds her there a day later and takes her to his home in the heart of a sylvan wilderness. She is raised in a hermitage built by Matthew where he learns she is touched by a rare spiritual power.

17 years later a series of miracles occur that rock the very nature of her reality. Befriended by outlaws and a king’s champion, she is also betrayed by a woman of the cloth during a bard of the realm’s performance. That night, in a dream, Evangel envisions her future soul mate, Pall Warren, on a battlefield of death, and casts a prayer of protection around him. Thus begins a remarkable journey to save herself and those who believe in her.

A hauntingly beautiful and startling tale of wonder.
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What would you do if the gates of hell literally opened before you? In search of John Savage, Pall Warren encounters the destructive power of evil arrayed against him.Even though loss ekes a toll upon his life, he summons the strength and courage to continue his quest for meaning. He learns that the role he must play by determining who he is forms an integral part in the destiny of everyone around him. His journey inevitably takes him to the port city of Seascale where he soon discovers that the realm of West Fundlund is also imperiled and under attack by the renegade priest Kosem Mungadai, a thaumaturge of the 13th level in the occult arts.Evil unleashed. Goodness embattled. A spellbinding story erupts onto the pages of the concluding novel of the Penitent trilogy.Will Evangel’s prayer of protection still surround and preserve Pall from wickedness? Are courage, strength of arms and the blessings of love capable of enduring and overcoming the corrupting power of malign forces seeking the utter ruin of his world?Set in the past, cast in the future, comes a cautionary tale of humanity’s presence in the universe.
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A virus invades the lives of all humanity and causes a madness pandemic from the reminder of the past and the exposure of thoughts threatening to change everything, but then another virus attempts to erase the memories and recover the future, while a third virus scopes to save the new generations.
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“We’re all complicit in things we regret. Sometimes, we just do what we must.”

In the city-state of Devovea, behind the walls of the Castle, Scylla Delevan waits for a chance to prove herself. When a Magistrate is murdered and her father stands accused of the crime, she eagerly sets out to prove his innocence. As she races to find the real killer before it is too late, she begins to unearth dangerous secrets that could throw the fragile balance of her city into chaos. In too deep to turn back, Scylla is forced to question all she has ever known and choose between what is expected of her and what is right.

Family loyalty and personal beliefs collide as Scylla navigates a dystopian world divided by race and gender. Heir of Blood and Secrets will challenge you to consider how far you are willing to go—and what you are willing to sacrifice—to forge a better world.
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Scotland, 1342. The Great Plague ravages the countryside. In its wake the body of a beautiful, young noble is laid to rest on a funeral pyre. Her fiancé begs a sorcerer to use his magic to summon a demon and bring the young woman back to life in exchange for his own.
Fast Forward to:
America, Present. Fourteen year old Jeremy McKee attends a fantasy workshop which is run by a young woman named Ariella. One afternoon, an old vagrant on the street offers Jeremy a small crystal which produces visions of a young woman resurrected from death hundreds of years ago. Slowly, the truth begins to reveal itself. The woman in the vision and the one running the workshop are one in the same. The vagrant is the sorcerer, Armand. He explains that Jeremy’s ancestor, D’Arcy, offered his soul for the life of his betrothed but reneged at the last minute. Now the demon has returned for payment and is prepared to unleash the Black Plague if he doesn’t get what he he is owed.

The Insect Room by Felicity Huges (there isn’t a link, yet, for Amazon or Goodreads)


Books Read and Reviewed

Rupture State by M.B. Bartkowski (review here)

The Sisters Sweet by Elizabeth Weiss (review here)

Wish You Were Here by Jodie Picoult (review here)

Girls Before Earls by Anna Bennett (review here)

The Maid by Nita Prose (review coming next week)

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins (review coming next week)

Stocking the Shelves—January 15th 2022

Welcome to Stocking the Shelves. Every Saturday, I will be posting what books I got this week. Stocking the Shelves is hosted by Reading Reality. So, here is my list. Let me know if you have read any of these and what you thought!!


From the Author/Indie Publisher:

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Pall Warren lives in a world filled with unrivaled natural beauty, constant struggle and shifting perceptions of reality. The time frame of his story is set in a medieval context. Peace over the land he lives in is an illusion only. Pall discovers that war not only must be waged against competing interests within his own land, but also against unnerving entities filled with extreme malice toward the human race. As the journey to discover who he really is unfolds, he learns that appearances are not at all what they seem to be on their surfaces.

This story is ultimately about the battle between faith and disbelief, as well as how hope and cynicism clash against one another in the human spirit.

Can the ultimate basis of truth be found? In Pall’s quest for meaning, can virtue be used to combat and overcome evil?
Hidden in the bottom of a roadside ditch as a baby, Evangel is only steps away from her viciously murdered parents. An old hermit finds her there a day later and takes her to his home in the heart of a sylvan wilderness. She is raised in a hermitage built by Matthew where he learns she is touched by a rare spiritual power.

17 years later a series of miracles occur that rock the very nature of her reality. Befriended by outlaws and a king’s champion, she is also betrayed by a woman of the cloth during a bard of the realm’s performance. That night, in a dream, Evangel envisions her future soul mate, Pall Warren, on a battlefield of death, and casts a prayer of protection around him. Thus begins a remarkable journey to save herself and those who believe in her.

A hauntingly beautiful and startling tale of wonder.
What would you do if the gates of hell literally opened before you? In search of John Savage, Pall Warren encounters the destructive power of evil arrayed against him.Even though loss ekes a toll upon his life, he summons the strength and courage to continue his quest for meaning. He learns that the role he must play by determining who he is forms an integral part in the destiny of everyone around him. His journey inevitably takes him to the port city of Seascale where he soon discovers that the realm of West Fundlund is also imperiled and under attack by the renegade priest Kosem Mungadai, a thaumaturge of the 13th level in the occult arts.Evil unleashed. Goodness embattled. A spellbinding story erupts onto the pages of the concluding novel of the Penitent trilogy.Will Evangel’s prayer of protection still surround and preserve Pall from wickedness? Are courage, strength of arms and the blessings of love capable of enduring and overcoming the corrupting power of malign forces seeking the utter ruin of his world?Set in the past, cast in the future, comes a cautionary tale of humanity’s presence in the universe.

I got the first three books in The Immortality Wars on Saturday. I had forgotten that I had agreed to review the first 3 books. So, I was very surprised when I got the mail and saw that I had been sent 3 books!! I am halfway through book 1 right now and it is very good.


From NetGalley:

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Get ready for lost wills, broody dukes, and scorching hot kissing all over London.

Constance Lysander needs a husband. Or, so society says. She’s about to give birth to her late husband’s child―a man who left her with zero money, and two other wives she didn’t know about. Thankfully, she has her Aunt by her side, and the two other wives have become close friends. But still―with a baby on the way, her shipping business to run, and an enemy skulking about, she has no time to find the perfect match.

Enter Jonathan, Earl of Sykeston. Returned war hero and Constance’s childhood best friend, his reentry into society has been harsh. Maligned for an injury he received in the line of duty, Jonathan prefers to stay out of sight. It’s the only way to keep his heart from completely crumbling. But when a missive from Constance requests his presence―to their marriage ceremony―Jonathan is on board. His feelings for Constance run deep, and he’ll do anything to make her happy, though it means risking his already bruised heart.

With Constance, Jonathan, and the new baby all together, it’s clear the wounds―both on the surface and in their relationship―run deep. But when the nights come, their wounds begin to heal, and both come to realize that their marriage of convenience is so much more than just a bargain.

I was so excited when I opened my email on Thursday morning and saw Rules for Engaging the Earl sitting there. I had been waiting (and hoping) that I would get a request for this book!! I jumped up and down in my chair when I saw it (I was that excited)

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Is he an enemy?

Dillon Young is proud that she inherited her aunt’s ranch. The problem: someone is trying to run her off and is willing to do whatever it takes. Strange, dangerous things keep happening. Dillion suspects her no-good neighbor and fellow wealthy rancher Hank Stephens. Never a man to get his hands dirty, he sends others to get the job done. So, when the irresistible Cal Bennett is found passed out drunk on her property, Dillion is on high alert. Until someone takes a shot at her and Cal springs to her rescue. When the hard-bodied, no-nonsense-talking cowboy points out that she may need some help, Dillion is inclined to reluctantly agree.

Or a lover?

Waking up on a stranger’s property with a shotgun in his face is not Cal Bennett’s idea of a good time. Never mind that the woman on the other end of the barrel is one of the most fiercely beautiful women he has ever seen. Things get more interesting when he finds himself shielding her from flying bullets. It’s clear that this smart, savvy woman could use a hand and he is all too happy to lend any part of his body she requires. His proposal: pose as lovers until they find out who is after her ranch. As the danger rises and secrets are revealed, the passion explodes between them. There is no turning back.

My email was full of surprises on Thursday. I got a request for That Cowboy of Mine. Since Donna Grant is one of my favorite authors to read, I couldn’t say no (not that I would have said no anyway…lol)

Having just broken up with her boyfriend, London Spark is not in the mood to be hit on. Especially not when she’s out celebrating her single status with her sisters. So when a very attractive man pays for their drinks and then slips her his number, she passes it right back to him with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’. As the business administrator for their family’s event hotel, the Spark House, London has more important things to worry about, like bringing in new clientele.

As luck would have it, a multi-million-dollar company calls a few months later asking for a meeting to discuss a potential partnership, and London is eager to prove to her sisters, and herself, that she can land this deal. Just when she thinks she has nailed her presentation, the company’s CEO, Jackson Holt, walks in and inserts himself into the meeting. Not only that, but he also happens to be the same guy she turned down at the bar a few months ago.

As they begin to spend more time together, their working relationship blossoms into something more. It isn’t until their professional entanglements are finally over, that London and Jackson are finally ready to take the next step in their relationship. But between Jackson’s secretive past and London’s struggle with her sisters, London must question where she really stands – not just with Jackson, but with the Spark House, too.

I had read When Sparks Fly and enjoyed it. But, I wasn’t expecting to be chosen to review the second book (through the SMP Influencer Program). So, yes, I was very surprised when SMP contacted me with an invite to review on Thursday. I can’t wait to read London and Jackson’s romance!!

Olivia Reed needs a break. She doesn’t want to think about her name plastered on tabloids or be reminded of her recent meltdown on a Manhattan street. Her micromanaging publicist has just the thing in mind: a remote retreat in Upstate New York–the House of Light. It’s not rehab; it’s a spiritual center, a site for seeking realignment and personal growth. There will be yoga and morning meditation, soft bamboo-blend fabrics and crystals to snuggle.

But Liv will soon find that the House of Light is filled with darkness. A prickly local, Ava, informs her that something twisted is lurking behind the Light’s veneer. There have been a series of mysterious suicides committed by women caught in the Light’s web, and no matter who Ava talks to, no one believes her. To get the truth out and put her celebrity to good use, Liv starts a podcast, seeking to connect the dots and expose the Light’s true intentions. Because beneath the glowing skin of the Light’s inhabitants lie rotten souls, and Liv starts to wonder if anything–even her own life–is how it appears.

When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

When I read the blurb for When Sparks Fly, I knew that I needed to read it, one reason is that I love reading contemporary romances, and the other reason is that I have heard nothing but good things about Helena Hunting. I am glad that I read this book. It was what I needed to read.

I like the friends-to-lovers trope but feel that it is overused in romance novels. So I did go into reading the book thinking that When Sparks Fly would be typical in that regard. It isn’t. Declan and Avery’s slide into romance was one of the more natural romances that I have read in a while.

The plotline for When Sparks Fly was medium-paced. There was no lag in the book, and it was very well written.

I liked Avery. She had me laughing with her observations on life and Declan. I liked that she wasn’t portrayed as a shrinking violet. She wasn’t afraid to call Declan out on his stuff (like his extracurriculars). She did have her flaws, and they were on display in the book. But they were nothing compared to Declan’s.

Let’s talk about Declan. He was a freaking mess for 90% of the book. His childhood was less than ideal, and in turn, it turned him into a commitment-phobe adult who ran from his problems. But that didn’t excuse how he treated Avery during the last half of the book, though. He was a real douche canoe. But I did like him. The author didn’t make him perfect and chose to highlight his mental health issues.

The romance angle of When Sparks Fly was sweet. I loved seeing both realize that they were in love with the other person. It was a considerable whammy for Declan since he was using Avery’s relationship with his ex-best friend as a reason why he shouldn’t get with her. I loved seeing him realize that Avery was his person.

The sex scenes were hot in When Sparks Fly. I did giggle when Declan caught Avery masturbating. And I wasn’t surprised with how it ended up. I was a little “eh” when Avery told her sisters about it, though. I wouldn’t say I like kissing and telling (or, in this case: getting help with masturbating and telling).

I did like how mental health was portrayed in When Sparks Fly. Declan had some serious issues from his childhood that needed to be resolved before moving forward with any relationship. While I didn’t see his breakdown coming, I wasn’t surprised by it. But, I liked how his friends (and Avery) supported him. Having him going to therapy was a huge plus. I also like that his issues didn’t magically go away at the end of the book. Getting help was huge but Avery supporting him (and participating in the therapy) was even more significant.

The end of When Sparks Fly was sweet. And at the very end, it was perfect!! I did a lot of “Awww, so sweet” to myself as I was reading.


I would recommend When Sparks Fly to anyone over the age of 21. There is graphic sex, language, and mild violence.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at The Book Date.

Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! a kid-lit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle-grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in those genres – join them.


Happy Monday (well, as happy as a Monday can be…lol) everyone and I hope you all had a great weekend!!

It was hot out this weekend. Temps were in the mid-90’s with real feel temps of it being in the lower 100’s. And it was (and still is) super humid. So, needless to say, we stayed in for most of the weekend.

The only time we went out was to Miss R’s horseback riding lesson. It was her first lesson in almost a month. The barn had a horse show and then all the trainers (and a couple of the kids) came down with COVID. Everyone came off quarantine the end of the last week. Miss R was thrilled to be riding again and she did very well.

The first week of school was offically great. Any issues we had (which I discussed in my WWW Wednesday post) had been resolved.

I finished 1 1/2 books over the weekend. I am happy with that.

I watched the rest of Season 1 and the first episode of Season 2 of Cold Case. The more I watch it, the more I remember how much I loved this series.


What I am Reading Now:

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Running the Spark House, a hotel/event space that has been in her family for years, has been Avery Spark’s lifelong dream. After years of working hard and making personal sacrifices, Avery and her two younger sisters have turned the Spark House into the premier destination in Colorado Springs. Avery is living her best life—she works with her sisters and loves every minute of it, she has a great group of friends, and she lives in a fantastic condo with her best friend Declan. She might not have any love in her life, but she’s happy.

But everything comes to a screeching halt when Avery is in a car accident, leaving her immobile for weeks. After nearly losing Avery, Declan insists that he will be the one to take care of her while she recovers. However, as Declan becomes Avery’s caretaker, lines begin to blur.

Avery and Declan have been best friends since college and always had an attraction to one another, but when she ended up dating his best friend, Sam, they successfully stamped down any feelings they may have ever had for one another. Now, as Declan and Avery spend more time together, they each begin to wonder what would’ve happened if she’d dated him instead of Sam. What starts as a friend helping out another friend turns into foreplay and, before they realize it, they recognize how deeply they care for one another. But when things get serious their past threatens to destroy everything they have built.

I read the first couple of chapters of When Sparks Fly last night. So far, I am loving it!!! The opening sentence had me rolling (grown men participating in hobby horse racing).


What I plan on reading this week:

I knocked two books off this list last week. Big hooray for me!! The order I am reading these books are: Author ARC, Author ARC, NetGalley ARC, NetGalley ARC. I am motivated to read at least the first two books this week but I am hoping to read them all by Sunday.

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If the only way to save her mother is to act like a spy, Mari can act like a spy.

Maybe.

After her mother is abducted, Mari Sandoval breaks into her mother’s research lab in an ill-advised attempt to appease the kidnappers. Fortunately she’s thwarted by two spunky sorority girls who offer her a better way to save her mother—become a spy.

In the fast-paced world of undercover agents—where fabulous new clothes, high-tech gadgets, and flirting for secrets are the norm—Mari’s inexperience could ruin everything.

Will she be able to master the art of espionage in time to rescue her mother from the clutches of a maniac? Or will her undercover mission doom them both to imprisonment?


Spies Never Quit is a cute spy-thriller where the romance is sweet and the suspense is cozy.
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It’s just a simple trip to New York. What could possibly happen to our loveable heroes THIS time? Faster-than-sound reptiles? Exploding Minotaurs? Generational secrets coming back to haunt them? Expect the unexpected in this third installment of The Talisman Series, “Windy City Ruins”. The war for Earth is creeping steadily closer, and Rome’s team is in a mad dash to figure out the Talismans before it’s too late. Can they amass enough talent to help them defend the realm? Or will The Tyrant King’s heinous minions sweep them off course and leave Earth ready for the taking? Windy City Ruins is the third installment of the Talisman Series.
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From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh comes Her Renegade Cowboy, the final book in the Moving Violations trilogy…

He will risk his life…

The oh-so-proper school teacher, Lily Donovan has learned, the hard way, that men are not to be trusted. Period. Until Levi Roberts, the new cowboy working at her cousin’s ranch, tempts her carefully-built resolve and awakens an all-consuming passion she thought lay dormant. But when she discovers his deadly secret, and her own secrets come to light, Lily unwittingly joins the lethal cat and mouse race between Levi and the man he’s been hunting for weeks.

To save her heart…

Former Ranger Levi Roberts has seen his fair share of deadly trouble during his years as a tough-as-nails operative. The ultimate expert in undercover investigations, he’s been tasked to find a man with a dangerous agenda in town. Routine work has been boring…until he runs into Lily, the prickly school teacher who tempts him like no other. Getting under her skin has been deliciously satisfying for his red-hot desire, but when Lily lands in the hands of the very man he’s been investigating, Levi will have to fight with every ounce of his heart and soul to save her—and to heal the heart he broke.
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The first in a new regency romance series about two feuding families and reunited childhood enemies whose hatred turns to love.

Maddie Montgomery’s family is in debt, and her hope rests on the rival Davies clan missing their yearly “pledge of goodwill,” ceding the land that separates their estates. With Maddie’s teenage nemesis, Gryffud “Gryff” Davies, Earl of Powys, away, hope is in reach.

But then, Gryff shows up and is stunned that the tomboy he once teased is now a woman. When Gryff and Maddie discover contraband on their land, they realize it can benefit both families. But they’ve also uncovered a dangerous plot, and they need to work together to get out alive. Soon, their hatred for each other starts to feel more like attraction.

Kate Bateman brings crackling banter, steamy romance, and a dash of adventure into the first book in the Ruthless Rivals series.

WWW Wednesday: August 18th 2021

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


What I Recently Finished Reading:

Book Cover
If you play with fire…

One of the most notorious cowboys in Cold River, Jensen Kittredge always has willing women with sweet smiles vying for a place in his bed. So when the prissy high school librarian sidles up to him in the most disreputable bar in town with a scowl on her face, he has no idea what to make of it. Much less the attraction he feels toward the bespectacled creature who wants something from him… but not that.
Yet.


Someone gets burned…

Harriett Barnett doesn’t care for dens of iniquity– or the insolent cowboy she certainly shouldn’t find attractive. But one of her students needs her help, and if she needs to corral the infamous Jensen to save him, she will. Trouble is, the town’s favorite Kittredge brother is a lot more than she bargained for. Harriett’s happy little life is orderly and neat, just how she likes it–until Jensen blows it all apart with his particular brand of addictive passion. Can a modern-day schoolmarm really tame the wildest cowboy in town? Or is Harriet headed for a terrible fall?

What I am currently reading:

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From the author of Paris Never Leaves You, a gripping story of a young German Jewish woman who returns to Allied Occupied Berlin from America to face the past and unexpected future

Millie Mosbach and her brother David escaped to the United States just before Kristallnacht, leaving their parents and little sister in Berlin. Now they are both back in their former hometown, haunted by ghosts and hoping against hope to find their family. Millie works in the office responsible for rooting out the most dedicated Nazis from publishing. Like most of their German-born American colleagues, the siblings suffer from rage at Germany and guilt at their own good fortune. Only Millie’s boss, Major Harry Sutton, seems strangely eager to be fair to the Germans.

Living and working in bombed-out Berlin, a latter day Wild West where the desperate prey on the unsuspecting; spies ply their trade; black markets thrive, and forbidden fraternization is rampant, Millie must come to terms with a past decision made in a moment of crisis, and with the enigmatic sometimes infuriating Major Sutton who is mysteriously understanding of her demons. Atmospheric and page-turning, The Living and the Lost is a story of survival, love, and forgiveness, of others and of self.

What books I think I’ll read next:

Book Cover
Running the Spark House, a hotel/event space that has been in her family for years, has been Avery Spark’s lifelong dream. After years of working hard and making personal sacrifices, Avery and her two younger sisters have turned the Spark House into the premier destination in Colorado Springs. Avery is living her best life—she works with her sisters and loves every minute of it, she has a great group of friends, and she lives in a fantastic condo with her best friend Declan. She might not have any love in her life, but she’s happy.

But everything comes to a screeching halt when Avery is in a car accident, leaving her immobile for weeks. After nearly losing Avery, Declan insists that he will be the one to take care of her while she recovers. However, as Declan becomes Avery’s caretaker, lines begin to blur.

Avery and Declan have been best friends since college and always had an attraction to one another, but when she ended up dating his best friend, Sam, they successfully stamped down any feelings they may have ever had for one another. Now, as Declan and Avery spend more time together, they each begin to wonder what would’ve happened if she’d dated him instead of Sam. What starts as a friend helping out another friend turns into foreplay and, before they realize it, they recognize how deeply they care for one another. But when things get serious their past threatens to destroy everything they have built.
Book Cover
If the only way to save her mother is to act like a spy, Mari can act like a spy.

Maybe.

After her mother is abducted, Mari Sandoval breaks into her mother’s research lab in an ill-advised attempt to appease the kidnappers. Fortunately she’s thwarted by two spunky sorority girls who offer her a better way to save her mother—become a spy.

In the fast-paced world of undercover agents—where fabulous new clothes, high-tech gadgets, and flirting for secrets are the norm—Mari’s inexperience could ruin everything.


Will she be able to master the art of espionage in time to rescue her mother from the clutches of a maniac? Or will her undercover mission doom them both to imprisonment?

Spies Never Quit is a cute spy-thriller where the romance is sweet and the suspense is cozy.
Book Cover
It’s just a simple trip to New York. What could possibly happen to our loveable heroes THIS time? Faster-than-sound reptiles? Exploding Minotaurs? Generational secrets coming back to haunt them? Expect the unexpected in this third installment of The Talisman Series, “Windy City Ruins”. The war for Earth is creeping steadily closer, and Rome’s team is in a mad dash to figure out the Talismans before it’s too late. Can they amass enough talent to help them defend the realm? Or will The Tyrant King’s heinous minions sweep them off course and leave Earth ready for the taking? Windy City Ruins is the third installment of the Talisman Series.
Book Cover
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh comes Her Renegade Cowboy, the final book in the Moving Violations trilogy…

He will risk his life…

The oh-so-proper school teacher, Lily Donovan has learned, the hard way, that men are not to be trusted. Period. Until Levi Roberts, the new cowboy working at her cousin’s ranch, tempts her carefully-built resolve and awakens an all-consuming passion she thought lay dormant. But when she discovers his deadly secret, and her own secrets come to light, Lily unwittingly joins the lethal cat and mouse race between Levi and the man he’s been hunting for weeks.

To save her heart…

Former Ranger Levi Roberts has seen his fair share of deadly trouble during his years as a tough-as-nails operative. The ultimate expert in undercover investigations, he’s been tasked to find a man with a dangerous agenda in town. Routine work has been boring…until he runs into Lily, the prickly school teacher who tempts him like no other. Getting under her skin has been deliciously satisfying for his red-hot desire, but when Lily lands in the hands of the very man he’s been investigating, Levi will have to fight with every ounce of his heart and soul to save her—and to heal the heart he broke.
Book Cover
The first in a new regency romance series about two feuding families and reunited childhood enemies whose hatred turns to love.

Maddie Montgomery’s family is in debt, and her hope rests on the rival Davies clan missing their yearly “pledge of goodwill,” ceding the land that separates their estates. With Maddie’s teenage nemesis, Gryffud “Gryff” Davies, Earl of Powys, away, hope is in reach.

But then, Gryff shows up and is stunned that the tomboy he once teased is now a woman. When Gryff and Maddie discover contraband on their land, they realize it can benefit both families. But they’ve also uncovered a dangerous plot, and they need to work together to get out alive. Soon, their hatred for each other starts to feel more like attraction.

Kate Bateman brings crackling banter, steamy romance, and a dash of adventure into the first book in the Ruthless Rivals series.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at The Book Date.

Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! a kid-lit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle-grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in those genres – join them.


Happy Monday (well, as happy as a Monday can be…lol) everyone and I hope you all had a great weekend!!

Our weekend was laidback but not as laidback as it was last weekend. It was still hot and humid. But it also rained off and on all weekend. Actually, the rain is supposed to last all week. I am not complaining. After almost a month and a half with no rain, it is welcome. At least when we mow the grass, it won’t come back up as dust

The kittens’ mom got spayed on Thursday. I felt awful for her because when she was all sort of drugged up when we got her back. She didn’t meow the entire ride home (she cried the entire ride to the vet). I talk to the transport on Wednesday and on Friday, she will be transported to NJ and her new life.

The kittens got for their 3-month appointment tomorrow. They get their shots and I am going to have the vet look at Loki’s tail (I believe it has been broken previous to us taking him in). I am also hoping that I get the go-ahead to get them neutered. Our Humane Society has a program where you can get your kitten spayed/neutered with a microchip for $40.

Miss R got her teacher assignment last week as well as when Open House is going to be. I have never heard of her teacher and am curious to see how Miss R is going to like her.

Mr. Z got his teacher assignments through PowerSchool last week. He is in advanced math (NC Math 1) and advanced ELA. But, he isn’t thrilled that he has PE first period (at 8am). His Open House is being done differently this year. They are doing a drive-through Open House. During that, he will get his Chromebook, schedule, and meet his teachers.

Miss B, on the other hand, has to wait until Wednesday to find out her schedule. She is a little irritated by that. She let the principal know last week when we went to the school to pick up her school certificate (she needs one to get her learner’s permit). He laughed and apologized to her. The great thing about being in a small school, everyone knows the kids. Her Open House is the same day as Miss R and Mr. Z’s, but just a little later in the day.

I haven’t read anything since last Wednesday. I have gotten into playing ESO and building up a dark elf dragon knight (stamina build). But, I did work on the blog. I edited several posts. I fixed images and links. I added in information.

I am behind 1 review, which was supposed to be published last week. I am hoping to finish that book up soon and start on the other 3 books on my Currently Reading list.


What I am Reading Now:

Book Cover
Flirting with evil will be the ruination of her soul.

Goodness is much easier to corrupt than it is to hold on to. And for Natasha, a woman reeling from the pain of losing a loved one, evil is all the more tempting. Luck or misfortune spirits Natasha away to the foreign Court of Velaris in a quest for a suitor but instead secures her a place among Velarian royalty. Craving revenge, Natasha makes use of this opportunity to enact her plans as she navigates the lush court where aristocracy is a double-edged blade. But when she befriends her soon-to-be husband Mikhail, the Beloved Prince, Natasha makes a deadly mistake. She captures the attention of the debonair Darkling Prince; a villainous man meant to ascend the Velarian throne.

Enamored, the Darkling Prince charms Natasha, and soon the two feel a forbidden emotion captivate their stoic, scabrous hearts. But with the existence of a violent rebel group capable of cataclysmic damage, there is little time for love. With war brewing amidst the enigmatic kingdom, the royals must become all the more cunning and devious if they wish to triumph over their adversaries. What draws the insidious line between right and wrong when it comes to a battle of survival? For Natasha, nothing is too far, too light, too bloody, too evil.

Soon, the only reflection Natasha sees in her mirror’s beveled glass is that of an Evil Queen. Often, the cost of survival is more frightening than the beasts of death. But that’s what gives the Queen of Shadow’s beauty an edge: she wears her darkness adorned about her throat like the grandest of all diamonds, ebony, and bloodred in shade.

I was a little off with what I said last week about Fairest. I was under the impression, from what I read, that this was going to be a retelling of Snow White. It isn’t. Instead, which I thought was a neat spin, it is about what happened after Snow White ended. I stopped reading right after Mikhail dropped that bomb and I can’t wait to see where this story is going to go.


What I plan on reading this week:

This is a repeat of last week. I am really hoping to get at least two of these books read this week.

Book Cover
If you play with fire…

One of the most notorious cowboys in Cold River, Jensen Kittredge always has willing women with sweet smiles vying for a place in his bed. So when the prissy high school librarian sidles up to him in the most disreputable bar in town with a scowl on her face, he has no idea what to make of it. Much less the attraction he feels toward the bespectacled creature who wants something from him… but not that.
Yet.


Someone gets burned…

Harriett Barnett doesn’t care for dens of iniquity– or the insolent cowboy she certainly shouldn’t find attractive. But one of her students needs her help, and if she needs to corral the infamous Jensen to save him, she will. Trouble is, the town’s favorite Kittredge brother is a lot more than she bargained for. Harriett’s happy little life is orderly and neat, just how she likes it–until Jensen blows it all apart with his particular brand of addictive passion. Can a modern-day schoolmarm really tame the wildest cowboy in town? Or is Harriet headed for a terrible fall?
Book Cover
Millie Mosbach and her brother David escaped to the United States just before Kristallnacht, leaving their parents and little sister in Berlin. Now they are both back in their former hometown, haunted by ghosts and hoping against hope to find their family. Millie works in the office responsible for rooting out the most dedicated Nazis from publishing. Like most of their German-born American colleagues, the siblings suffer from rage at Germany and guilt at their own good fortune. Only Millie’s boss, Major Harry Sutton, seems strangely eager to be fair to the Germans.

Living and working in bombed-out Berlin, a latter-day
Wild West where the desperate prey on the unsuspecting; spies ply their trade; black markets thrive, and forbidden fraternization is rampant, Millie must come to terms with a past decision made in a moment of crisis, and with the enigmatic sometimes infuriating Major Sutton who is mysteriously understanding of her demons. Atmospheric and page-turning, The Living and the Lost is a story of survival, love, and forgiveness, of others and of self.
Book Cover
Running the Spark House, a hotel/event space that has been in her family for years has been Avery Spark’s lifelong dream. After years of working hard and making personal sacrifices, Avery and her two younger sisters have turned the Spark House into the premier destination in Colorado Springs. Avery is living her best life—she works with her sisters and loves every minute of it, she has a great group of friends, and she lives in a fantastic condo with her best friend Declan. She might not have any love in her life, but she’s happy.

But everything comes to a screeching halt when Avery is in a car accident, leaving her immobile for weeks. After nearly losing Avery, Declan insists that he will be the one to take care of her while she recovers. However, as Declan becomes Avery’s caretaker, lines begin to blur.

Avery and Declan have been best friends since college and always had an attraction to one another, but when she ended up dating his best friend, Sam, they successfully stamped down any feelings they may have ever had for one another. Now, as Declan and Avery spend more time together, they each begin to wonder what would’ve happened if she’d dated him instead of Sam. What starts as a friend helping out another friend turns into foreplay and, before they realize it, they recognize how deeply they care for one another. But when things get serious their past threatens to destroy everything they have built.