Review of Once a Charmer

Once a Charmer

Sharla Lovelace

Lyrical Shine

October 17, 2017

Blurb:  Charmed, Texas, is a close-knit small town where people’s dreams of love can come true. That’s not to say that some people aren’t still waiting, and dreaming . . .
By day, Allie Greene stays busy with her family diner, and keeping tabs on her teenage daughter. What’s really exhausting Allie, however, are the nights. Not that she minds Bash Anderson unbuttoning her naughty desires—if only in her dreams. But what was he doing there at all? He’s her best friend, and a father figure to her girl. Talk about awkward. Talk about OMG-heat-and-fireworks that are flipping fifteen years of normal upside down. And now, when Allie needs him as a friend more than ever, logic doesn’t stand a chance against his lips and irresistible deep-blue eyes . . . Continue reading


Review of How Not to Let Go


How Not to Let Go

Emily Foster

Kensington Books


From the author of How Not to Fall comes an electrifying, powerful new story about love, trust, and emotional surrender.

Once upon a time, med student Annie Coffey set out to have a purely physical fling with Charles Douglas, a gorgeous British doctor in her lab. It didn’t quite work out that way. Instead, secrets—and desires—were bared, hearts were broken, and Annie knew she had to leave this complicated, compelling man who remains convinced he can never give her what she needs.

Walking away is one thing. Staying away is another. Annie and Charles reunite at a London conference, rekindling a friendship they struggle to protect from their intense physical connection. Little by little, Annie gets a glimpse into Charles’s dark past and his wealthy, dysfunctional family. Soon, she’s discovering what it means to have someone claim her, body and soul. And she’s learning that once in a lifetime you find a love that can make you do anything…except let go.


Backstory: I read the blurb for this novel and thought, oh, well that sounds like a good book to read. I like the premise. And, just to prove that I am, if nothing, consistent, I didn’t realize until I started reading that it was the sequel to a book I read and reviewed about a year ago. I must have liked the premise of that one as well. Wink. Wink.

However story: The first book was How Not to Fall (you can read that review here, if you want). As I started to read How Not to Let Go, I realized that I had read and felt frustrated by the first book. (Disclosure: I did not go back and look at my review because I did not want to be in any way influenced by it.) But How Not to Let Go was different. It felt more thoughtful, more cerebral. It brought in the backstory of Charles’ life so that I could have some empathy for him. The writing was beautiful and, again, thoughtful. For me, this was an entirely different experience, one which I enjoyed.

These felt like real people to me. While there may have been a few angsty moments, I never felt like they went over-the-top. It may be because I have known extremely dysfunctional families and, frankly, the average person just has no idea what coming from a situation like that can do to a person’s psyche.

How Not to Let Go delved into more psychology than I remember from the first so I found this fascinating. I have always been intrigued by people’s motivations and their reactions.

The Your Mileage May Vary Story: So I don’t often do this, but I peeked at some of the other reviews on Goodreads and found that people who loved the first novel hated this one, which is in complete contrast to me. See, this is why I am going to make it my reviewing motto: Your Mileage May Vary. Just because you love a book doesn’t mean everyone will and vice versa. It’s the differences that make the world great.

Last disclaimer: How Not to Let Go has been on my currently reading list for a while (mid-January until today). That has nothing to do with the novel and everything to do with yours truly who signed up for far too many review tours and has only now gotten to a place where she/me can semi-breathe and start pulling her act together.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

rating: 4-and-a-half

4 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies



Nelumbo Nucifera Cover Reveal!

Nelumbo Nucifera
Cristina Slough
Publication date: January 24th 2017
Genres: Adult, Psychological Thriller

On the surface, Gaby Parker has it all; however, behind closed doors, is a woman who lives in constant fear of the man who was supposed to love her: her husband, Kyle. Beaten, desperate, and broken, Gaby realizes the only way to escape from her violent husband is to kill herself — on paper. Gaby is dead, and Riley Locklin is born, residing in the tranquil coastal town of Chesswick Bay Montauk where she hopes to start over and meets a man who shows her bruises aren’t kisses.

Meanwhile, back home, Kyle is doing everything in his power to prove Gaby isn’t dead.

But…police find her burnt-out car and remains?

Kyle isn’t buying it; he knows she’s still alive. He launches his own full investigation to find his wife — and he’ll stop at nothing to claim her back. A female Detective assigned to his wife’s case doesn’t like him very much after discovering a domestic violence report – scorned by the history of her mother’s domestic abuse, she’s determined to send Kyle down for his wife’s murder.

And then he finds her. Will Gaby finally take a stand?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks


Author Bio:

Novelist, movie addict, and animal lover, Cristina Slough is the author of:

Nelumbo Nucifera and Till Death Us Do Part.

Cristina has always been a bookworm, rarely seen without a pen and paper in her hand, she loves delving into a literacy fictional world of her own.

Although Cristina loves pink and fluffy, her writing isn’t. She loves to focus on raw human emotion and gritty story lines; she’s very fond of messing with her readers heads by weaving twists into her books.

Cristina is married to Adam, who runs a successful business; together they share their Bedfordshire home with their son, and several spoiled pets. As a family, they love to travel frequently, the United States being a firm favorite.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter



Reach For You Cover Reveal!

Reach for You
Pat Esden
(The Dark Heart #3)
Published by: Kensington
Publication date: June 27th 2017
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Her passion is her greatest weakness.

His legacy is his prison.

To reunite, both must fight the demons within.

A world of deception and danger separates Annie Fremont from her mother—and from Chase, the enigmatic groundskeeper with whom Annie’s fallen in love. But she vows to find her way back to them, before Chase succumbs to the madness that threatens his freedom. The only person who can help is the magical seductress, Lotli, a beautiful, manipulative woman . . . a woman who has disappeared.

Annie must stay strong, even as the future she imagined is slipping away. With the help of family and friends, she discovers that Lotli is being held against her will, by those who want to exploit her powers. But though weakened, Lotli remains a powerful ally and adversary. A bargain is struck. And now Annie’s only chance to rescue Chase could also tear them apart . . .

Loyalties will be tested, walls will be breached, and enemies will be fought, yet Annie’s greatest battle lies within her own heart—to trust her love for Chase to overcome its greatest enemy, and to save those she holds most dear from the terrifying realm of the djinn. For all of their lives depend on it.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

Previous books in the series:

25810168 28109696


Author Bio:

PAT ESDEN would love to say she spent her childhood in intellectual pursuits. The truth is she was fonder of exploring abandoned houses and old cemeteries. When not out on her own adventures, she can be found in her northern Vermont home writing stories about brave, smart women and the men who capture their hearts. An antique-dealing florist by trade, she’s also a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and the League of Vermont Writers. Her short stories have appeared in a number of publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythic Circle literary magazine, and George H. Scither’s anthology Cat Tales.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter



Review of Vampire Island for the Paranormal Bar and Grille Tour!


Vampire Island by Sandra Cox

Publisher: Creative Space

Publication Date: October 11, 2015

So one of my favorite tv shows of all time is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which always had the right mix of scare, humor, story, and action. Say you’ve a story about a vampire slayer and I’m probably all over that story. Which is why I’m reviewing Vampire Island, a story, strangely enough, about a vampire slayer.

Zoe Tempest’s parents have been murdered and so 17-year old Zoe is sent to live with her Uncle Julian whom she’s never met. He lives on an island in the Bahamas that shuts down when evening comes. Zoe has come to Vampire Island where her Uncle Julian, a vampire slayer, is trying to destroy the vampire, Dere, who has killed him twice before. Now, skilled in defense, Zoe is slated to become a vampire slayer as well.

Vampire Island is a fast-paced, plot-driven story, with a kickass heroine who just happens to adore nail polish and matching shoes more than any kickass heroine I’ve ever encountered. Under her Uncle’s tutelage she becomes fit and strong and hopes to avenge the murders of her parents.

Sandra Cox offers a new layer to traditional vampire stories, which I will leave for you to discover and of which I wholly approve. I’m kind of glad that we’re getting back to stories where vampires are scary and not all shimmery and sweet. Also, there’s the addition of Oz the ocelot, again I wholly approve, whose evolutional mutation for living on Vampire Island is that of silver claws.

While Cox provides new and welcome twists on the vampire subgenre, I would have liked a bit more character development, but seeing as how this is the first in a series perhaps there are more surprises to come.

I was provided with an copy of Vampire Island by Reading Addiction Blog Tours in exchange for an honest review.

rating: butterflybutterflybutterflyladybug (3 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies)

The Paranormal Bar & Grille – Virtual Book Tour

October starts out warm and sunny, but this is the month when everything changes. Mornings grow frosty, leaves change colors, and the breeze takes on a bite.
Summer dies.
It’s a time for harvest celebrations. A boy loans a girl his coat. She snuggles a little closer and takes his hand. A riot of autumn splendor accompanies the farmer’s market where they stroll.
But the vibrancy of daylight doesn’t compare to the darkness of night. Is that chill on your neck the breeze or something else?
You walk a tad faster and look over your shoulder. The trees creak when the wind whips through their branches—at least, you hope that noise came from the undulating bows.
You check under the bed and inside the closet before climbing under the covers. Sleep doesn’t come easy. The old house groans its complaints, and the night magnifies every innocuous noise until terror paralyzes you—because you know nefarious things go bump in the night.
Welcome to the Paranormal Bar & Grille Blog Tour
…where you can rub elbows with everyone from a gargoyle or vampire, to a creature from urban legend, to the ghosts from realms of myth. Step up to the bar, grab a booth. You never know what’s on the menu, or if you might end up there yourself.
Sound like your kind of hangout? Then you’ve come to the right place. We’re a group of five authors who love nothing more than to trigger the chill that crawls up your back, the nervous glance tossed over your shoulder. We invite you to discover outstanding books and check out our awesome tour prizes.
Enter our $30 Rafflecopter giveaway here, then visit our blog to participate in a scavenger hunt. Fifteen prizes are up for grabs on Story Empire, three from each author. You have the opportunity for 10 Amazon gift cards ranging in value from $15 to $10, plus ebooks from the participating authors.
Just be careful of what the bartender serves you. That heady brew may not be a beer, and witches can’t be trusted to provide effective antidotes.


$30 Rafflecopter Giveaway!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review of The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club


The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club by Lexi Eddings

Publisher: Kensington Books

Publication Date: September 27, 2016

Lacy Evans has to go home again. She has no money and no choice. She lost her funds and her business to her ex-fiance who ran off with the money and another woman to Belize. The very first meal she has in her old hometown of Coldwater Cove is prepared by former player, Jake Tyler, a once promising football halfback who went to Afghanistan and lost part of his leg. Now he runs the Green Apple Grill.

There’s a lot to like about The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club, the main thing being the male character, Jake Tyler. He’s a hard-working good guy with a big heart. One of the ways you can tell this is the fact that the two fur-creatures in the book both gravitate toward him and not the heroine, Lacy. But, seriously, Jake, despite his past of making every girl feel special, looks out for people and probably embodies the focus of the club described in the book.

Lexi Eddings tells the story with a sense of humor, moreso during the first third of the novel. She’s dealing with some heavy topics like PTSD and alcoholism and spousal abuse. There’s quite a bit going on and there’s a secondary story as well involving, Lacy’s old high school boyfriend, who was Jake’s best friend, Danny. Also, the namesake of the book involves a group of people who are pretty much a pay-it-foward-type of club.

For the first two-thirds of The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club I was extremely taken with the novel, even if I wasn’t taken with Lacy. Unfortunately, the thin thread of “faith” underlying the novel began to rise to the forefront and by the end, a preachy tone had taken hold. While I don’t “do” preachy, I think individuals who read Christian novels would be very pleased with The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club although there is some language that they might be offended by.

The dramatic action of the conclusion felt a bit more than contrived to me, but I suppose by its end I was already feeling disappointed in what had been a sweet, funny novel.

The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club is the first book in The Coldwater Series.

I received an ARC from NetGalley and Kensington books in exchange for an honest review.

From Amazon: The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club

rating: butterflybutterflybutterflyladybug  (3 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies)


Review of Locked and Loaded


Locked and Loaded by Mandy Baxter

Publisher: Zebra Book

Publication Date: September 27, 2016

Mason Decker has been trying for years to become a U.S. Marshall, but his familial relations, his father is notorious smuggler, Jensen Decker (I wanted to type Jensen Ackles, wishful thinking?), have been held against him. Now, through a bit of coercion, he could have the opportunity that he’s been after, as long as he is willing to use his father and Kieran, the homeless boy who Jensen had taken in years before and raised as his son alongside Mason.

Charlotte (Charlie) Cahill is the U.S. attorney heading the task force. Like Mason, she has her own family issues to deal with namely her father, a very successful attorney who wanted his daughter to follow in his footsteps. Her decision to follow a different and much less lucrative path disappointed him.

(BTW, all the blurbs mention Mason’s steely blue eyes. Don’t read it if you’re going to be disappointed that he actually has very light green eyes. 😉 .)

Locked and Loaded is part of Mandy Baxter’s U.S. Marshalls series, number 5 out of 5, but it can be read as a standalone novel.

The romance is fairly predictable. Mason and Charlie meet and they don’t like each other. Mason finds Charlie controlling and Charlie thinks Mason is a loose canon who can’t be trusted. They have their sexy moments and their fun moments, but, for me, it was the mystery that really worked.

I thought I was reading something pretty straightforward. I knew who the bad guys were, but Baxter switched events up and provided a pretty surprising and worthwhile conclusion.

Oddly enough, my favorite character was Kieran, who reminded me a bit of Fox from Janet Evanovich’s Fox and O’Hare series–charming and conning. I hope that Baxter uses him in a future novel or series and ups the bad-boy charm quotient.

Read Locked and Loaded more for the mystery than the predictable albeit sexy romance.

Locked and Loaded went onsale September 27, 2016. You can get your copy from Amazon: Locked and Loaded.

I received an ARC from NetGalley and Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review.

rating: butterflybutterflybutterflybutterfly


Review of The Form of Things Unknown


The Form of Things Unknown by Robin Bridges

Publisher: Kensington Books

Publication Date: August 30, 2016

In The Form of Things Unknown, Natalie has just returned home after being in a mental health facility due to a psychotic reaction after her now ex-boyfriend, Caleb, gave her ecstasy. But it’s not really her home that she’s returned to, but the home of her Grandmother who is having schizophrenic episodes after the death of her husband. It’s like walking on eggshells for Natalie and her parents and she almost happily accepts being coerced by her brother, David, into trying out for a part in a summer theater’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

On the day of auditions, she sees Lucas, a boy she recognizes from the mental health facility. He doesn’t seem happy to see her and she doesn’t even know if he recognizes her.

She makes friends with some of the girls, gets a role in the play, but then things begin to unravel when she thinks that the theater might be haunted, or her episodes are returning.

The Form of Things Unknown is a gripping novel delving into relationships and mental health issues. Natalie’s situation is intensified by the fact that her Grandmother is on a mental roller coaster and it makes Natalie wonder if this is how she’ll one day be. The plot is handled with great sensitivity by Robin Bridges who is also a nurse as well as a writer.

The character of Natalie is quite well-done. You can feel her fear and her confusion. She doesn’t always know the right thing to do, but then she’s a teenager. She’s likeable.

This is a novel that you pick up and want to read in one sitting. It’s tremendously absorbing.

I both loved bits and hated bits (hate is probably too strong of a word; we’ll say: didn’t feel satified with) of the ending quarter of the novel and that’s why I’ve dropped a half of a star in this review. It’s nevertheless very much worth reading.

The Form of Things Unknown is on sale today!

I received an ARC from NetGalley and Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review.

From AmazonThe Form of Things Unknown

rating: butterflybutterflybutterflybutterflyladybug