Mini Reviews of Some Great Reads! Part I

Well, It's almost Christmas and New Years!! And it is also getting close to the 2012 Reading Challenge on Goodreads.  I have read many books throughout the year but have not had time to write my reviews.  It has been a hectic year for me ~ new job, moving, new home and taking care of my mother who is in the early stages of dementia.

My "happy place" has been my reading, I can escape in the books I read and what could be more wonderful then being introduced to inspiring new authors and heartwarming romance books..  I feel terrible that I haven't given the books and authors their moments of my thoughts.  So, let's see if I can give them some attention in this post...

Sweet as Sugar, Hot as Spice by Kimberly Raye

Linc Adams is trying to keep his bad-boy image as a Nascar Driver... His family has different carrier plans~ following in the family's political footsteps and becoming mayor. What can call a stop to the madness ~ marrying a woman whose career would stun the voters. Eve is the owner of a production company that specialized in how-to sex videos. Catch the hilarious and sensual interaction between these great characters...there is even two secondary stories that you will enjoy in this fast-track read. Oh, I miss the first two books in this series, and plan on reading them when I can. Don't miss this one!!

Rescue My Heart (Animal Magnetism #3) by Jill Shalvis 

Jill Shalvis has written another great book, no wonder she is my all time favorite author. She can set a scene and present the reader with characters that come to life before your eyes. And presents to you in a subtle manner these realistic weaknesses of her characters. In this book, the reader learn about PTSD~ can a fallen hero came back from the terrors of war and learn  to heal his mind, soul and heart. This is such a touching tale of love lost and love found. I think we so a glimpse of another character that may have their own story to tell~ Kate is the heroine's best friend. I love the way she is frazzled when talking to men. Another winner in my book and a must read for all romantic at heart fans!  

Rescuing Christmas
by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Catherine Mann, Kathie DeNosk

What's better than getting three books in one, when each book is intertwined with the other! The Haven Animal Shelter in Tacoma, Washington has some dogs to deliver for the upcoming holiday and each story takes you on the journey, where you get to meet the cuties cuddliest animals and fall in love along the way.  I also was introduced to two new authors, Catherine Mann and Kathie DeNosk. For me, my favorite of the three was Catherine Mann's Home for Christmas, a story of rekindling and giving your love a second chance.  Each one of them is filled with romance and happiness. They say an animal can soothe an aching heart, the authors all did a wonderful job "Rescuing Christmas".  It is not to late for you to feel the warmth of the holiday spirit, if you haven't already read this one, pick up your copy today!

All I Want For Christmas Is A Duke by Delilah Marvelle & Maire Claremont 

The first book in the special edition was by Delilah Marvelle, "Merry Christmas Mrs. Robinson".  This is my first  read of Ms Marvelle's work. I love the way she creates the characters and sets the scenes. Very detailed and well written. This book is about friends to lover and about second chances.  Although the story was part of a novella , I didn't feel cheated ~ well done.   The second book, The Twelve Days of Seduction by Maire Claremont was a heartwarming tale of a governess falling for her ward's father.   A woman who's heart  has been awakened, could she really find a Happy Ever After? Take a chance and give this a read. Great writing and tales from both authors and can't wait to read more from them.

Even though I may have grouped them together in one post, know that each one of them was timeless and very dear to me.. Bravo to all the new authors I met and Kudo's to those that are among my bookshelves.

The Bridegroom Wore Plaid by Grace Burrowes

The Bridegroom Wore Plaid (MacGregor Trilogy #1)
by Grace Burrowes
Published December 1st 2012 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN1402268661 (ISBN13: 9781402268663)

review courtesy of netGalley

His Family or His Heart -- One of Them Will Be Betrayed...

Ian MacGregor is wooing a woman who's wrong for him in every way. As the new Earl of Balfour, though, he must marry an English heiress to repair the family fortunes.

But in his intended's penniless chaperone, Augusta, Ian is finding everything he's ever wanted in a wife.

My Thoughts:
I stumbled across this book when I saw a fellow blogger post a review.  How could I go wrong with mixing my love of Scottish man and the romance of English ladies.  I like the freshness of the storyline, Ian MacGregor will set aside his own needs for his family's survival, even if it means marrying a woman he doesn't love and one that doesn't love him.

It was a quick read for me although there were several characters to keep track of.   I did wish that the storyline for both Julia, Matthew and Genie  were played out more. I would have like to see more of their past revealed and see their romance blossom and played out more, possibly two novellas giving each one their own spotlight. Don't get me wrong, I loved the romancing undertone the author gave us with the pairing, but I would like to have seen more of the development and read more of their interaction.

I would have to say that Augusta was my fav character throughout the story. I loved her spunk, her open honesty, and caring ways. I enjoyed how the author lets the reader into the head of the Uncle, normally a reader doesn't get first hand knowledge of what a villain is plotting or thinking. Readers will love to hate him.

The storyline had a mixture of mystery, murder, deception and best of all Romance. As this is the first in a series, the author has me wondering who is next in this trilogy.....

Funniest scene..
"Don't shoo me away, Augusta Merrick.... I have questions for you..."
"Is it necessary that you be naked to interview me, Ian?"
"No.".... "But I would dearly like to be."
My Rating:

And the Winner Is.........

Thanks for everyone who participated in the chance to win a signed paperback copy of Marina Adairs book Kissing Under the Mistletoe.

Kirsten Wood

Kirsten, I sent you an email, you have 48 hours to reply or I'll have to pick a new winner.

For everyone that didn’t win this time around, thank you for taking part and remember you can still buy the book, click below....

A Highlander for Christmas by Paula Quinn

A Highlander for Christmas
by Paula Quinn
Published October 2nd 2012 by Forever Yours
ISBN:1455523755 (ISBN13: 9781455523757)

review courtesy of netGalley


As the bard of the MacGregor clan, Finlay Grant is a natural-born charmer. He can easily win the heart of any lass . . . but somehow, the right words to express his love for stunning Leslie Harrison have eluded him. Yet as Christmastide approaches, Finn knows he must find a way to propose to the raven-haired beauty who has stolen his heart.

A furious Leslie Harrison could run her brothers through for promising her to another. But she will do anything to save her family from dishonor . . . even though in her heart she knows no other man but Finn will do. When Leslie's betrothed makes a dastardly deal, putting her family and the MacGregor clan in danger, Finn will prove that he's just as fierce in battle as he is sweet in song. Can these two lovers find a Christmas miracle that will grant them a happily-ever-after?

My Thoughts
I was so looking forward to Finlay's story and Paula Quinn did not let her readers down... Ok, at first I was disheartened, that one it was the last book in the series and that it was a novella but she did a wonderful job building the characters and not making you feel slighted. I would recommend you reading the entire series before starting with this one...

Finlay has found the love of his life and he is determined to marry her. Unfortunately, when Finlay finally gets ready to propose to his true love and live happily ever after~ her brothers written a different nding altogether...As common in this time period, his love interest, Leslie is bethrothed to another, and still as common it is not a match made in heaven and done for the sole purpose to help her family.

Our seemingly peaceful bard, takes measures into his own hands to get back his true love. This is a must read for all Paula Quinn, "Children of the Mist" series. Paula did a wonderful job building the characters, both primary and secondary. It is a quick read, but one filled with those "hot" Scottish men. She also brought back all those sexy gorgeous brothers and their families, giving us a beautiful ending and a Happy Ever After.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating

Guest Post & Review~ Catherine Bybee ~Not Quite Dating Book Tour

I am so pleased to announce that Catherine Bybee is stopping again at FBL, this time she is on her Not Quite Dating Virtual Blog Tour.  If you follow my blog, you know that I have read her entire time travel series: Maccoinnich Time Travel and immediately knew this was an author that was on the move!!  If you haven't read any of her books, here are some of my reviews: Binding Vows, Silent VowsRedeeming Vows, and Highland Shifter.

Welcome back, Catherine!!!

Not Quite Dating
By Catherine Bybee
Not Quite Series Book One

Publisher Montlake
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Description:

Waitress and single mom Jessica “Jessie” Mann is practical to a fault. Even if she had time to date, which she doesn’t, she’d be determined to provide her son with a more secure upbringing than the one she had—and that would mean a husband with big bucks. When Jack Morrison—a sexy-as-sin, seemingly broke customer with a cowboy hat and a seductive grin—tries to flirt with her, she shoots him down. She doubts a carefree dreamer like Jack can provide the financial stability she needs. Yet with Christmas just weeks away, and Jessie not wanting to spend it alone, the charming Texan is proving hard to resist.

As the heir to the Morrison luxury hotel empire, Jack is used to being fawned over. But Jack needs someone who will fall in love with him—not his wealth. He’s set his sights on Jessie, though her hardened heart just might get in the way…To be sure, he conceals his true identity and offers to help Jessie find the rich husband she seeks. But Jack’s daring charade may rob him of the holiday wish he wants most of all…
Holiday Traditions by Catherine Bybee

Is there a more magical time than the holidays? I think not! Seriously…we all have memories deep in our heads carved out of our youth. Hopefully those thought are laced with happy times. Youthful and carefree times that bring you back to a place of hope.

It doesn’t matter if you share your holidays with family far away, or if you bring your friend close during this time of year. We all have traditions we follow.

Do you bake cookies, make candy…decorate the tree the day after Thanksgiving… after the 1st of December?

For my home, we have a traditional family Christmas. Seems like I cook for the better part of three days only to see the food disappear after only a few hours of hungry houseguests. I bake for weeks, make candy by the tin-full. I even make my own handmade Christmas cards.

We have a real tree that fills our home with the scent of pine.
We listen to a satellite radio station filled with holiday music throughout the day. And if the weather cooperates, we’ll fill the fireplace with wood and warm the house with its warm glow. If not, we move the ‘kids table’ out to the patio where they eat in ten minutes and move on.

We ‘pop’ holiday poppers, a tradition we’ve adopted from my cousin who is married to a Brit.  And yes… we know all about Boxing Day.

Holiday traditions are hard to change. And when they do have to alter, the holiday doesn’t feel quite the same.

So, dear reader…what are your holiday traditions?

Real Trees or Fake?

Color Lights or White?

Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

Turkey or Ham?

Hanukah Presents Every Day or Only Once?

Grandma’s House or Your House?

Snow or Sun? 
Another wonderful book from Catherine.  It was kinda of a twist of fate if you will, normally a woman wants to be loved for more than her looks, in this case, our hero, Jack Morrison wants to be loved for more than his money. It was a cute spin on loving the person not the purse or good looks.

Our heroine, Jessica is tired of dating dead beat men, she is looking to get herself out of the working for her paycheck and all of it goes to her bills and caring for her young son. So when a tall dark and handsome Texan walks into her restaurant, she doesn't fall for his flirty ways, she doens't want to waste anytime on Still, although Jack is told to back off as Jessica is searching for a rich husband, Jack is charmed.So in her plans there is no room for the attractive and poor Texan who she just served along with his friends.

Catherine's characters are so believable, I especially like the way she wove a friendship between Jessica and Jack, giving substance to their growing relationship. Jessica is a single mom, who wants the best for her son. Jack learns that there are women out there who still believes for happy every after, and boy does he deliver!  This was just the book to get your Christmas spirit going. Don't miss out, pick up a copy today!
Tour wide giveaway:  
Amazon Gift Card $20.00
 2 Amazon Gift Cards $10.00 
 2 Amazon Gift Cards $5.00 

Author Interview & Giveaway: Marina Adair ~KISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE

I am excited that Marina is stopping by FBL to answer some questions about her latest book, Kissing Under the Mistletoe, her family and her writing style. If you missed my review of Kissing Under the Mistletoe, you can find it here.

Welcome Marina!!

Kissing Under the Mistletoe depicts a typical Italian family, I could relate to many of the scenes between the Deluca family. Being half Italian you were spot on with the "famiglia” bond, as a united front willing to do whatever it takes to protect the family. Can you explain how you built the plot for this story, is the strong “family” bond a reflection of your own family? 

First off, thanks for having me here today! Second, um…wow! You just totally made my day with the "famiglia” bond being spot on part. My big, sexy, Italian, husband, Rocco would be so proud that his French-Irish-German-English-Arkansonian wife did his family justice!

But back to the question, several years ago my husband invited his cousin to Thanksgiving dinner, who in turn invited her aunt, who invited another aunt, who invited an uncle and in the end I was responsible for roasting turkey for 13 Italians—let me clarify, I put the turkey in the oven and as soon as his family learned I was A) NOT Italian and B) a vegetarian, I was promptly kicked out of the kitchen and given a glass of wine. The dinner was loud and long and we consumed 25lbs of Turkey, 14 bottles of wine and I knew that someday I would have to capture this kind of crazy love on paper.

But the actual development of the DeLuca family came from a babysitter I had when I was in grammar school. She was the only girl in an Italian family of seven and her brothers were 100% alpha, extremely over protective, and, since they beat the crap out of anyone who looked at her twice, made dating virtually impossible for her. I merged the two experiences and came up with a series about a big, loud Italian family who were always in each other’s business and even though they irritated the hell out of one another, they were fiercely loyal.

When you started “Kissing Under the Mistletoe” did you know it was going to be part of a series? If so, do you predetermine how the stories will intertwine and what characters will have their own story?

I love reading series and I love writing them. As soon as I deemed the family Italian, I knew that there would be at least 5 stories to the series: each one dealing with a different DeLuca siblings as they came to terms with the death of their parents and, in turn, open themselves up to the possibility of love. Even their nonna, ChiChi, if she can get her nose out of her grandkid’s business long enough, gets her second chance at love.

Before I started writing, I lightly plotted out all five stories to make sure I had an idea of who everyone was and what their goals, motivations, and obstacles were. It was important that each book stood on its own but that the series, over all, worked as a whole with the characters and stories all intertwining.

What was the inspiration behind your Kissing Under the Mistletoe series?

Since KISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE is a holiday story, I wanted the theme of family to be at its heart. But I also knew I wanted to contrast the holiday spirit of giving and forgiveness with an enemy-to-lover story. Who could be a bigger enemy to the oldest brother, Gabe, than someone who screwed with his baby sister? And since his family means everything to him, I paired him with a single mom who would do anything to give her daughter the best life. In order for one to succeed the other would have to fail…until they realize that what they really want is each other.  

At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I didn’t know I wanted to write novels until I was 35, but I knew I wanted to be a storyteller when my dad took me to see Xanadu, staring Olivia Newton John. I was seven, she was Olivia Newton John, and loved it so much that I came home, strapped on my roller skates—the white ones with the hot pink wheels and matching laces—and danced around to the soundtrack (8-track, baby) reenacting the movie. At bedtime, I crawled under the covers with a flashlight and Rock Star Barbie, and created an elaborate story staring Kira (Olivia’s character) a magical muse who made her way in the world by singing in dive bars, roller skating and protecting the innocent ones with her mad karate skills.

Over the years, the plotlines shifted, the characters evolved, but there was always one common factor: they all ended with a Happily Ever After.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished NOT QUITE DATING by Catherine Bybee and loved it!

FBL Note: I just loved Not Quite Dating, and for those who are interested Catherine Bybee will be stopping by Monday,December 10th for a Guest Post and Giveaway... Love to see you come back by!!

How do you keep your characters fresh after so many books?

Motivation. Before I write even a page, I really think about what it is each character wants and how their goals can directly conflict with the proposed love interest. Once I know what motivates one character, what scares them, and what they are willing to do anything to obtain, then I pair them with someone who wants the exact opposite. For example, there are five DeLuca siblings who all, because of age, rank in family, and sex, experienced their parent’s death in a completely different way, shaping them into people with vastly different goals and insecurities. They may all fear love and loss, but how they deal with it and the kind of person they would fall in love with would never be the same.  

What is the hardest part of writing for you? What's the easiest?

I LOVE secondary plotlines. I think it is what makes a story fun to write and fun to read. It adds flavor, conflict, humor and depth to the main storyline. That said, I am a strong believer that, in romance, it always has to come back to the hero and heroine. Always.

So the hardest part for me is finding believable reasons for the secondary plotlines to work for/against the hero and heroine reaching their goals and their HEA. If I can’t tie it back to the romance plotline, then it gets cut—and sometimes that means cutting my favorite scenes and characters.
The best part of writing is when all the plotting and planning works together and the plotlines come to one gigantic clash at the darkest moment, and again in the story’s resolution.    

What do you love to do when you're not writing?

Reading, I know…I am a total geek. I also love eating Eggo Waffles and driving my husband insane—two things, which he will tell you, that I excel at.

By looking at your Book List, I find that you often write series/trilogies. Do you prefer that to stand-alone titles?

Absolutely! When I create a town and family I fall in love with them wholeheartedly, so I couldn’t imagine spending only one book with a town and its people. I also love the idea that the couple I connect with in the first book might be married or pregnant by the third and I get to experience them as a couple again, only through the eyes of another character. It is like revisiting old friends while making new ones. Julie Garwood is the master of this!

Can you give us a teaser from your upcoming book.

I just handed in the second book in the ST. HELENA VINEYARD series: SUMMER IN NAPA. It follows the next to youngest DeLuca brother, Marco, and releases April 16, 2013. This book was so much fun to write because my hero and heroine are not only fighting the need to get naked every time they see each other, they are also fighting against their past—Lexi’s cheat of an ex-husband just so happens to be Marco’s childhood best friend. Finding a good reason for Marc to break man-law and fall for—and into bed with—his best-bro’s ex was entertaining. Here’s a quick peek (unedited):

“Rise and shine, Creampuff.” Marc ripped the sheets back and Lexi gasped.
She was lying in a puddle of drool, next to a man who was very much dressed in shorts and a tee and sitting on top of the covers, while she was spooning his dog for all she was worth. She grabbed the sheets back from Marc and covered herself.
                  Wait! He was in different clothes. Maybe they did . . .
“Why are you dressed in,” sheets to chin, she eyed his new clothes, “those?”
Marc looked up from his laptop and the clicking stopped. “I could take them off but I think Wingman might get a little jealous. He’s not really into sharing. We’re working on that though, huh, boy?”
Boy barked, his tail thumping the mattress.
“No, I mean, where are your shirt and pants?”
“In the dryer. They got a little dirty last night so I went to my place and grabbed a few things after you passed out.”
She groaned, remembering just how his pants got dirty. Turning her head back to look at Wingman, who was panting happily in her face, she asked, “What are you even doing here?”
 “Holding your hair while you went to church for most of the night. Listening to you snore for the rest of it. I brought you some coffee. It’s on the nightstand.”
“I don’t snore. And,” she sniffed hazelnut and vanilla, “thank you.”
“Then there was the moment when you decided your jeans were too tight. That was a highlight. Almost as good as when the shirt went flying. But my favorite part,” Marc set his laptop aside and leaned in close, his lips grazing her ear when he whispered, “was when you shimmied out of that red thong.”
“I did not!”
“Really?” He held up his hand. A pair of red lace panties dangled from his finger.
“Give those back!” She grabbed the panties and, shoving them under the sheet, slid them on. He might not be able to see under there but she wasn’t taking any chances.

Thanks for having me here today! 

You can stalk Marina @:  Website   Twitter   Facebook

Marina is giving away a signed paperback copy of Kissing Under the Mistletoe to one lucky winner. All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form. Sorry this is open to US residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

In the Spotlight ~ I TALK BOOKS!

This week FBL showcases another wonderful blogger. Today we meet Atmika from I TALK BOOKS!. I have to admit she has the cutest blog I have seen in a while.

Hello Atmika, welcome to Forever Book Lover.

When and how did you decide to become a book blogger?
I love reading and after reading a book I can't help but talk about it. One of my friends told me about Goodreads, and I joined the site. I met some amazing people, read some great books and wrote some reviews.

 There I saw that almost everyone has a blog and they get to chat with authors and get ARC's. Also, there were some great giveaways and a chance to get free book is so exciting. 
So, I started blogging and I am having so much fun.

So far, what’s the hardest part of being a book blogger?
If an author sends me a book for review and I don’t like it. It’s really hard to be honest. Also, my college just started this week and I find it hard to manage time. Apart from that I am really enjoying blogging.

What do you do when you are not blogging?
 I like painting. All the walls in my room are covered with drawings. I also play    basketball. Though, I am not very good.

Tell us about the name of your blog, 
 I Talk Books,  how did you chose this name?
I really talk a lot. Ask anyone who knows me. So, the name,  kind of works with my personality.

What genre(s) do you read, can you tell us what is it about the genre(s) that grabs your interest?
I read a lot of Young Adult novels. I feel I can relate to the characters and I really like fantasy.    
I am a hopeless romantic and I believe in fairy tales. So, romance novels are my weakness.

Who are your three favorite authors?
This is tough. I think the first would be J.K. Rowling. She actually introduced me to the wonderful world of books. I really like Sarah Dessen and John Greeen.

Which author would you most like to meet (dead or alive)?  Tell us more..
I really want to meet Jane Austen. I have many questions that I want to ask her. I want to hear stories of her life and talk about Mr. Darcy, perhaps.

How big is your TBR pile?  How many books do you read/review in a month?
Right now, my TBR pile is touching the roof. I am trying really hard to complete my reading challenge.
On an average I think I read 3-4 books in a month. I review almost all the books I read. I like writing my feelings about the book.

Finally, if someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
Umm……a biography,  really?
Maybe, something like, “The girl with a book” or “I saw her reading”. They are bad titles, sorry but I really can’t think of anything.

On a Personal Note:
My name is Atmika. I am 18 years old from India. I am studying law and I think books are really a person’s best friend. I can’t imagine a life without books.


Are you interested in being featured "In the Spotlight"? Please stop by and fill on contact form.

No Mistletoe Required by Jeanette Murray

No Mistletoe Required
by Jeanette Murray (Goodreads Author)
Published November 5th 2012 by Carina Press

review courtesy of netGalley

Dan Beckins isn't sure how he let his best friend con him into volunteering to build Santa's Winter Wonderland at the local hospital. He's got no problems with charity work, but anything Christmas-related is off-limits ever since he lost his parents on Christmas Day years ago. The only bright spot is working with smoking-hot Anna Smith.

Anna Smith loves Christmas and volunteering at the hospital is one of her yearly highlights. She had leukemia as a teen and then a breast cancer scare in her mid-twenties, and is now operating under a self-imposed rule that she can't have a relationship until the doctors give her a clean bill of health.
A little fling might be permissible, though, and sexy lawyer-turned-carpenter Dan seems like the perfect candidate. But when chemistry flares and the two start forming a real connection, will Anna run away before like turns to love?

My Thoughts:    

Are you still trying to decide what Christmas themed romance book to read this year?  Add this one to your list, this was an heartwarming and highly emotional read. My emotions were on a constant rollercoaster.

Anna is the "Christmas cheerleader", she loves the holiday season.  She displays so much enthusiasm and Christmas spirit, it wouldn't surprise me to find that she has a private shuttle with a direct flight to the North Pole and to the big guy himself.  When she was a teen her Christmas memories consisted of time spent as a patient in the children's ward.  She knows first hand what it is like spending the holiday in the hospital, so each year she is the lead organizer in charge of transforming the children's ward into a Santa's workshop aka "Winter  Wonderland".  I am very humble to the fact that I was able to spend my Christmas mornings unwrapping presents under the tree, when there are many children who are spending Christmas away from their home and in a sterile environment, hoping to go home soon. Their wish to be cured.

Dan is rangled in to volunteering to help transform the hospital into the "winter wonderland". Dan has his own holiday demons he struggles with, if it was up to him he would have his bags packed and enjoying the tropic sun. Talk about Grinch, but his story is tragic.

Anna has some clock that she created for herself, it is too early to get involved with someone. She is in remission with her latest cancer scare. They don't realize it, but these two need each other to get through the holiday season. Dan is the one who chips away at his own  block, he knows that he can deal with the holiday if it includes Anna.  And once Dan gets into the holiday spirit he is then able to get Anna to accept that her illness should dictate her happiness. If there is a lesson learned here, it is that you can't put a time frame on love, it happens when it happens.  Carpe Diem!!

There were several secondary characters that provided depth to this story. I enjoyed this story and I recommend you pick this one up- it surely will make your thankful for all you have and may even spark some of you to bring some holiday cheer to those less fortunate. 

My Favorite Quote:

"You came along with your 'Bah humbug' outer shell and your adorable, sweet soft center and you melted me. And you made me want more than I thought I could have. More than I should have."
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

                Buy Your Copy Today!!