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#Tuesdaybookblog #Blogtour and review THE CHRISTMAS WISHING TREE. An Eternity Springs Novel by Emily March (@EmilyMarchBooks) An enchanted town, the power of believing, a mystery, and the perfect romance

Christmas Wishing Tree Blogtour Banner
Christmas Wishing Tree Blogtour

Hi all:

Yes, I know it’s not Christmas yet, but when I got offered the opportunity to read this book in the summer, I quite fancied it (it was really hot) and the blog tour sounded very appealing as well. If any US readers of the blog fancy a copy, let me know your e-mail address and I’ll make sure you’re entered into the giveaway of a copy of the book. 

The Christmas Wishing Tree. An Eternity Springs Novel by Emily March 

Summary:
Sometimes life’s most magical journeys bring you back to where it all began…From USA Today bestselling author Emily March comes The Christmas Wishing Tree, an enchanting account of the magic and miracle of Christmas.

A man who loves adventure and the open sea, Devin Murphy returns for a short Christmas trip to his small hometown of Eternity Springs. Immersed in the joy and magic of the holiday season all around him, he doesn’t hesitate to play along when a young boy phones Santa to ask for a very special wish. Devin never guesses that a wrong number has the potential to make everything in his life so right.

Jenna Stockton adopted Reilly when he needed a mother and she intends to keep him safe. A small town across the country called Eternity Springs seems like a good place to hide from their past without any complications —until sexy Santa himself discovers her secrets. When Devin proposes a daring plan to face down the danger together and defeat it once and for all, she is tempted. Maybe Devin really is capable of making wishes come true? Perhaps in a Christmas wish they’ll both find the miracle they’ve been looking for all along…

A delightful Christmas novel in the New York Times bestselling Eternity Springs series.

Buy Links:

Macmillan

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books-a-Million

Indie Bound

Powells

Author Emily March
Author Emily March

Author Bio:

Emily March is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the critically acclaimed Eternity Springs series. Publishers Weekly calls March a “master of delightful banter,” and her heartwarming, emotionally charged stories have been named to Best of the Year lists by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Romance Writers of America. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeño relish has made her a tailgating legend.

Social Links:

Emily March Website

Twitter: @EmilyMarchBooks

Facebook: Emily March

Pinterest: Emily March

My review:

I am thankful to St Martin’s Press for offering me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review and for the opportunity to participate in the blog tour of its launch.

Although I am not a big fan of Christmas, I do enjoy some Christmas stories, movies, and songs (especially out of season, when one isn’t surrounded by it). The offer to read and review this novel reached me in the middle of a pretty hot summer and it felt like the perfect way to combat the heat. It worked, for sure, and although I had never read any of the other novels in the Eternity Springs series, I quickly became enamoured of the place and its inhabitants. I can reassure you, though, that the story goes beyond the Christmas theme, and there are wonderful scenes that take place in other seasons (the Fall, the Fourth of July…) and other locations apart from Colorado (Nashville, Florida, Australia, and the Caribbean).  But I have to agree that the overall theme of the novel, and the spirit that suffuses it, is that of Christmas.

The novel, written in the third person, shares the alternating points of view (and locations) of a part-time resident of Eternity Springs, Devon Murphy (the son of Cam and Sarah Murphy, and brother to Michael, long-term residents of the town), and Jenna Stockton, a doctor specialising in Obstetrics and Gynaecology whom we meet in Nashville. While Devon seems to be a free-spirited man who loves the sea, boats, fishing, and women, but avoids commitment like the plague, Jenna is a model of responsibility. She is a single mom to Reilly, whom he adopted after looking after his mother, a young woman down on her luck who died when the boy was a toddler. She works hard and would do anything to ensure the safety and happiness of her son. But he has a Christmas wish that is out of her hands. Somehow, luck, magic, or the power of believing puts Reilly and Devon in contact, and in a roundabout way, the destinies of the three of them intersect in the wonderful town of Eternity Springs. Both main characters have secrets (as readers of the genre will probably expect): Devon has a traumatic past in the relationships department and has a lot in common with Reilly, and Jenna’s life is haunted by a stalker who seems intent on upping-the-ante and putting her and her son’s lives at risk.

I liked the characters and their relationship, that follows the well-known formula of will-they/won’t-they so successful in the romance genre (they both have very valid reasons for their hesitation, although if you get easily impatient, I must warn you that the book is quite long and the story develops over close to two years), and I liked many of the secondary characters as well (despite not having read other novels in the series, I got a fairly good sense of who they were, and I did not feel I could not fully enjoy the story because of lack of background information. And I wouldn’t mind getting to know more about many of them), particularly Celeste, her resort, and the wonderful idea of the Wishing Christmas Tree that gives the book its title. She has a touch of the magical and is the fairy godmother of the town and all the characters (and I’d love to meet her).

What I most enjoyed of the book was the town of Eternity Springs. I have read a number of novels that take place in charming towns (islands or other locations) where outsiders come and are quickly adopted by the community, becoming, in many cases for the first time, part of a big family. I always enjoy the fact that the town becomes a protagonist in its own right and when the novels works well, you feel as if you had spent time in a real place and look forward to future visits to the magical location. Eternity Springs is one of those towns, and to add to its attraction, it is located within a marvellous natural setting, and the writer does a good job of introducing us to parks, lakes, mountains, taking us on sledge rides, fishing, camping, and exploring the wonderful facilities and the traditions of the place. Although it has more than a touch of the fairy tale (everybody seems to be well-off, everybody is fairly happy, apart from the main protagonists, temporarily, and even the bad things that happen are pretty mild) and it can be a bit sugary at times, I think it would take a very cold heart to read the novel without falling for the magic of the town and its inhabitant. (And perhaps shed a tear or two. Good tears, though).

If I had to point out some things that readers might have issue with, one would be the mystery element. Jenna’s background story and her circumstances bear heavily upon her actions and how cautious she is when it comes to meeting new people and possible romances. Although the mystery element ramps up the tension and adds to the interest of the story, on occasions it seemed to be more of an afterthought and an opportunity to show Devon and his friends (all male) as a team capable of investigating and keeping everybody safe (and yes, some elements of the rescue fantasy and the knight in shining armour were clearly at work there). Although Jenna herself complains at times about being treated like a weak woman in need of protection —despite being a competent professional who had managed well by herself until that moment— this novel keeps to conventional and traditional gender roles rather than challenging them. I know that such plots and story-lines are typical of many romantic (wish-fulfilment) novels but might not suit all readers, especially those who prefer women in charge of their own destinies. As a reader of thrillers and mystery novels, I did not feel the mystery would have satisfied fans of the genre, as we are not given enough information to solve it (we get some details of the case but others are brushed over quickly and the resolution, when it arrives, is somewhat anticlimactic), and it takes a backseat to the romantic part of the story. Having read other books that mix both genres, and this being a romance with some mystery thrown in, rather than the other way round, I did not think its intended readers would be too disappointed.

There are many other subplots I have not mentioned, including dogs, pregnancies, health scares, fishing, older motherhood, baking, National Parks, love of nature, adoption, social media, stalking, counselling, vocation, tropical storms, family, traditions, Santa Claus, magic, traumatic relationships… There are wonderfully vivid and memorable scenes, the style of writing is easy and fluid, and the descriptions bring to life both the locations and the characters (without going overboard with the physical descriptions of the protagonists and love interests, although yes, don’t worry, they are attractive), and there are some sad moments, some funny ones, and many emotional and heart-warming scenes as well. There is plenty of sexual attraction and tension between Devon and Jenna, but there is no graphic sex and although there are some thrilling scenes, the doors stay firmly closed behind the protagonists when it comes to that side of things.

I know readers of romantic novels expect a happy ending. Well, you won’t be disappointed here. What’s more, I know some readers can get really upset if they feel there are elements in the story that are not fully solved and hate it when they feel that writers are using hooks and unresolved issues to keep them buying books in a series (not everybody feels the same, though). As I have said before, this novel can be read independently from the rest of the series, and all the plots and subplots of the story, even the secondary ones, are solved satisfactorily. So don’t hesitate to pick up this novel just because it’s part of a series. You will feel sad it has ended but it won’t keep you awake at night trying to guess what happened next. I kept imagining this novel as either a movie, or better even, a TV series, and would be surprised if some production company didn’t snatch it up. Done well it would be irresistible.

In sum, this is a novel that takes place in a magical location, in gorgeous settings, with a Christmas theme and a hopeful message, a romance that includes elements of mystery/thriller, with likeable characters that will make you feel home. I, for one, won’t hesitate to visit Eternity Springs again in the future.

Thanks to St Martin’s Press and to the author for this opportunity, thanks to all of you for reading and please, if you have a minute, remember to like, share, comment, click, keep reading, review and smiling. And if you live in the USA and fancy a copy of the book, leave me your e-mail in the comments and I’ll make sure you are entered into the giveaway. Good luck!

 Oh, and I wanted to let you know my blog is featured on the Top 100 Book Blogs UK/Book Review Websites UK, here. Visit if you can, as it is a very comprehensive list and you will recognise a few faces. 😉

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Book review Book reviews

#Bookreviews Two romances: NO PLACE LIKE YOU by Emma Douglas and A WEDDING AT TWO LOVE LANE by Kieran Kramer (@KieranKramer) (@StMartinsPress)

Hi all:

I must confess that my list of books is an avalanche, rather than a list at the moment. I have a long list of books from NetGalley pending reviews (and quite a few independent as well, and I intend to read them all) and I am grateful for reminders of the dates of publication of books. And as both romances are from the same publisher, I thought I’d share both of them together.

 

No Place Like You by Emma Douglas
No Place Like You by Emma Douglas

No Place Like You: A Cloud Bay Novel by Emma Douglas

In Emma Douglas’ new novel, No Place Like You, home—the island village of Cloud Bay—is where the heart is. . .

Leah Santelli always knew that Zach Harper, son of a rock legend and her best friend’s brother, was painfully out of reach. Then, on the night of her eighteenth birthday, Leah shocked herself by asking for—and receiving—the gift she wanted: one night of passion with Zach before he left town to pursue his rock star dreams. Now, years later, Zach is back in Cloud Bay to record his first solo album. His return could also be Leah’s big chance to step up her own music career. But getting the producing credit she needs means spending long hours with Zach in the recording studio…and falling back into the habit of longing for him, for better or worse.

Zach used to believe that a man must put his past behind him. But coming back home for Cloud Bay’s famed music festival has allowed him to finally make amends with his family and, much to his surprise, reunite with Leah. He might have left her once but now it seems he can’t stay away. Trouble is, even though the heat between them burns hotter than ever, Leah has old wounds in need of healing before she can give Zach a real chance. Can he find a way to convince her that they can make more than just great music together—and that she’s the one that he wants for all time?

https://www.amazon.com/No-Place-Like-You-Cloud-ebook/dp/B071HT66KL/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/No-Place-Like-You-Cloud-ebook/dp/B071HT66KL/

Author Emma Douglas
Author Emma Douglas

About the author:

Emma Douglas has read like a wild thing since she was small. She discovered romance novels at an age that way probably way too young but she survived unscathed. When she realized you could make up stories as well as read them, she started taking notes about what the characters wandering through her head were telling her and then, eventually, books happened. Before the books happened she did the usual things (was a band geek (and a geek generally), had crushes on rock stars and fictional characters, spent chunks of her summers on an island beach, got a degree in something sensible that doesn’t involve writing about kissing, became a black belt in internet procrastination, fell down the rabbit-hole of craft, traveled a bit, indulged her love of baked goods, got bossed around by cats, began a quest for the perfect margarita, and napped to recover from all of the above. She still does most of that plus the writing thing from a tiny house in Melbourne Australia which her feline overlords have kindly agreed to share with her.

https://www.amazon.com/Emma-Douglas/e/B06WGRYQ84/

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and to St. Martin’s Press for providing me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

Although I am not a big reader of romance, this novel is an example of what I think is a subgenre of it, the romance that takes place in the world of music and musicians. The setting of the novel is a small imaginary American island called Cloud Bay, off the coast of California, best known for a music festival and for being home to the musicians of a well-known band and their families. Grey Harper, the singer and leader of the band, passed away a few years back, and his family members and associates have been keeping the music festival and the studio going, quite successfully, but although the business is going well, their personal lives have seen a fair amount of turmoil.

The story centres on the second generation of the family, on Zach, Grey’s son, and Leah, a good friend of his sister Faith, and daughter of the sound engineer of the band. She also does sound engineering and producing now, and has had a crush on Zach since they were teenagers, and they have a bit of a history together. Their professional and personal lives get entangled in a way that seems impossible to avoid in Cloud Bay, and no matter how determined they are not to allow things to get complicated, they do.

The author manages to create a good sense of place and of the strange and slightly incestuous relationships that happen in such a setting, where everybody knows everybody and nobody can step outside of the house without somebody knowing about it. Nothing is private and the actions of one person have far-reaching consequences. I particularly enjoyed the exchanges between the female friends (Faith and Leah in particular) and the wedding preparations (Leah is due to get married after the festival, at the end of the summer), as their friendship is portrayed in an easy and natural way and the way they support and care for each other is heart-warming and feels real. Those and other elements of the novel reminded me of a chick-flick (there are plenty of cakes, pastry, and ice-creams as well) but the fact that half of the story is told from the point of view of Zach gives it a different emphasis.

As for the romance, although both of the characters are gorgeous, as is to be expected, this is not a love-at-first-sight story, as Leah and Zach know each other and have a bit of a history (however brief) together. I found it interesting that their behaviour at times goes counter to the traditionally expected male and female roles, as Leah is the one to initiate their relationship (both in the past and now), and she is the one to suggest a no-strings-attached sexual relationship, while he initially resists (although his resistance doesn’t last long). I don’t think you need to be an eager reader of romance novels to suspect how things are going to go from the beginning, and although there are some twists and turns, there are no major surprises. There is sex, but it is not very explicit (described in a lyrical and poetic manner), and although I do not like erotica or sex scenes, as I feel they slow the action, I don’t think many readers would feel offended by it (but I would not class it as “sweet” or “clean” either). The ending… I think romance readers will enjoy it, and there is a hook to keep people coming to read the next novel, although it is a side-story not directly related to the romance.

The story is told in the third-person from the alternating points of view of Leah and Zach. This is not always separated into chapters, but the transitions are clear and not confusing. As mentioned above, the division between the characters is not down to standard gender roles, and they both seem to behave more in keeping with their characters and their history (that we get snippets of thanks to their conversations and memories throughout the book) than with traditional male or female roles. There is a moment of crisis towards the end of the book, and I felt that the novel’s pace grew faster at that point, while until then it had moved steadily. I realised later that this is the third book in the series (for some reason I thought it was the first) so I am not sure how well it fits in with the whole series, although I had no difficulty following the novel (but I imagine the background story would increase the expectations and enjoyment). I must admit that I did not think there was much depth to the characters and they seemed to act younger than they were (Leah had been married, and Mina, Zach and Leah’s sister, is a widow), but perhaps they have developed slowly and it is unfair to judge them by the events in a single book. Leah is a fairly rounded and sympathetic character, and I felt she behaved in a consistent manner, although I was not as convinced about Zach, who has much to atone for.

The music business background will be of interest to those who enjoy that genre, and the descriptions of the way the characters feel about music are inspiring, but it is not as detailed or technical as to interfere with the enjoyment of readers of other types of romance.

In sum, a romance set in the background of the rock music business and in a lovely setting, which will be enjoyed by lovers of the genre and followers of the series, but with few surprises for the rest of readers.

And…

A Wedding at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer
A Wedding at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

A Wedding At Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

Never say never when it comes to love.

Greer Jones has made a real name for herself at the elegant matchmaking agency Two Love Lane. For a lot of reasons―including a past engagement she broke off―practical tech expert Greer is more interested in the business of love than the experience of it, but she can’t help but covet a gorgeous wedding gown that’s the prize in an upcoming cocktail-party contest. In a moment of brazen inspiration, Greer asks a handsome Brit she’s only just met to accompany her to the party. He agrees―and Greer believes her date is a starving artist. Little does she know the truth. . .

Ford Smith, as he calls himself, is actually Stanford Elliott Wentworth Smythe, the Eighth Baron of Wickshire. Fresh off a breakup with a money-grubbing siren who deceived him all the way to the altar, Ford has no desire to fall in love―especially with Greer who, like the desired wedding gown, is beautiful but only skin-deep. But soon Ford realizes that there’s more to Greer than meets the eye. Her professionalism is matched only by her passion for life and love. .and, best of all, she has no idea that he’s to the manor born. Could it be that true love is priceless after all?

https://www.amazon.com/Wedding-At-Two-Love-Lane/dp/1250111064/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wedding-Two-Love-Lane/dp/1250111064/

Author Kieran Kramer
Author Kieran Kramer

About the author:

USA Today bestselling author Kieran Kramer is a former journalist and English teacher who lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina with her family. She’s a game show veteran, karaoke enthusiast, and general adventurer.

UNUSUAL FACTS (From the author’s blog)

~I’m a $34,000 winner on The Wheel of Fortune. A decade before that, I won on Family Feud. Yes, I kissed Richard Dawson. He was a real sweetheart!

~I ran with the bulls at Pamplona in Spain, one of the craziest and most exciting things I’ve ever done.

~I scooped The New York Times from my computer at home as a freelance journalist for The Charlotte Observer by accidentally inciting a feud between John Rosemond, family psychologist, and parenting expert, and the renowned pediatrician Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, over the topic of potty training; the story was picked up by The New York Times and Dr. Dean Edell of talk radio fame.

~I spent my entire junior year in college at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, where I pulled pints of ale as a barmaid at the university pub and listened to bagpipes a lot from my dorm window.

~I grew up one of seven kids on Johns Island, a rural sea island near Charleston, SC, and helped build my family’s log home. I also played in the pluff mud, sat on docks daydreaming, rode below the bowsprit on my parents’ sailboat and watched dolphins swim mere feet away, and in general, lived an idyllic Lowcountry life.

~A certified English teacher, I subbed regularly at the local high school while writing my first book, When Harry Met Molly. I love teenagers because they’re so misunderstood.

~I’ve been married for twenty-eight years to a great guy named Chuck, a Commander in the US Navy Reserves, and we have three kind, musically-inclined kids, all of whom have been brought up on the Beatles as the family’s go-to band.

~I’m obsessed with almost every Real Housewives franchise, and of course, I love Southern Charm, even though almost no one on the show is from Charleston. I appeared with my daughter in one episode at a ball.

~I’m in my second year of a full-time, on-campus MFA in Creative Writing program at The College of Charleston. I’m loving being a student again with all the twenty-somethings! This semester, one of my classes is on Oscar Wilde–how I love that guy. It’s a true joy and privilege to be learning…don’t ever stop, ladies and gents! Keep challenging yourselves!

~I’ve occasionally rescued vulnerable cats and dogs and gotten them safely situated…I seem to stumble into those situations. It’s a never-ending problem, isn’t it? I think the most good I can do is take care of my own pets well. I love our two tabby cats, Benny and Joon, so much that my kids call me a crazy cat lady, and our sweet old black lab mix, Striker, is my constant companion.

https://kierankramer.com/

My review:

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and to NetGalley for offering me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

Although this is book two in The Two Love Lane series (a series about the owners of a matchmaking agency), I have not read the first one and can confirm it can be enjoyed as a standalone read, although I’m sure that knowing the set-up and the characters would add to the reading experience.

I don’t want to discuss in too much detail the plot, as the description introduces the main characters and some of the main themes. There is  a contest for a wedding dress, that ends up becoming a reality show, an English baron (quite a few of the reviewers have commented that considering his father and his older brother are alive and well, that does not make sense), a nasty store owner and his side-kick who become the villains of the piece (well, perhaps), several side-plots (a designer with an interesting idea and a hidden love story, the background stories of both protagonists and their families, the stories of the other couples involved in the contest, and  a big win at the TV quiz show The Price Is Right), and Charleston. The Charleston of the book is a genteel and lovely place, full of great restaurants, fascinating shops, and lively characters. It is also a welcoming place where people from all over are made to feel at home, and where everybody feels inspired.

Many of the usual tropes and themes of romantic novels are at play here, and also quite a few typical of chick-lit. Greer is alone and very good at finding love for others but not so good at getting finding her own. She is obsessed with creating the perfect wedding, not only for her clients but for herself, and has been collecting wedding scrapbooks since she was a child. Although she is supposed to be the logical one in charge of the technical side of things at the agency and the ever important algorithms, she plunges head first into crazy situations and keeps denying what is plain to see. We have an English nobleman, who is, of course, very attractive and also a talented painter, but needs a muse to find his true art. He’s been jilted at the altar but still offers to play Greer’s fake partner. We have pretend relationships, secrets, will they won’t they, not quite love-at-first-sight, but close enough, and a good cast of secondary characters that all sound interesting enough in their own right (Personally, I’d love to hear more about Miss Thing). Ah, and donuts, cakes, wonderful wedding dresses, intrigue, and misunderstandings galore. There are plenty of fun moments, some sad ones, and some inspiring ones (I was particularly interested in Ford’s struggle to connect with his art), and the book is an easy and light read, although I agree with some reviewers that it tries to pack so many things in that at times it feels too busy, and some of the side-stories deserve more time and development than what they get.

The characters are likable enough (I’ve never been obsessed about weddings, but quite liked Greer’s idea of entering the contest as a single participant), and although the novel stretches our suspension of disbelief on occasions, I don’t think it goes beyond genre expectations. The writing is fluid, with nice local touches and British expressions, and includes descriptions that put readers right in the middle of the action, without overdoing it.

After spending a fair amount of time with the characters, the ending felt a bit rushed, and I agree with reviewers that felt there should have been another chapter to clarify matters (I think we all felt as if they had banged the door on our faces), although perhaps the author has something up her sleeve and it has something to do with the next book. (Let me clarify. It does not end up on a cliff-hanger, but we miss the big event, perhaps because after talking about it so much, it could never have lived up to everyone’s expectations).

A light and fun read, recommended if you need an injection of sun and romance, in a great setting, with many secondary stories to keep you occupied if you easily get bored.

Thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and both authors, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click and REVIEW!

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Blog Tour Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview blog tour THE COMPLICATED LOVE SERIES by Neeny Boucher. Meant to be together but the course of true love… #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:
I signed up for this blog review tour when my mother was in hospital as I wanted something that would be a light read and would keep  me busy, although I thought it was only one book! There was a change of date, but here finally I bring you Complicated Love the series. 
I had some extra comments I haven’t included because I’m convinced my experience was different to somebody who had a more leisurely read (I read the three books in 6 days…).
And without further ado….
Title: The Complicated Love Series
Author: Neeny Boucher
Genre: contemporary, humor, and romance
Blurb:
Dina Martin and Nicholas Riley are total opposites.  She’s the good girl with the perfect grades and he’s the bad boy with the reputation.  Growing up together with close family ties, they have been at war for as long as they can remember. When the unthinkable happens, neither of them wants it.

Set in a small town at the turn of the millennium, this story is about family and friendship, the love of music and how sometimes who you don’t want, is exactly who you need. 

This is how it all started. A sweet love story. Well, almost.

I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review as part of a book-review tour. Having read the three novels I recommend that the whole series is read to get a better grasp of the story and the characters. See my other two reviews for full details.

The first book in the Complicated Love Series (and I must explain that I read them in the order of publication, so I read book 2 first, then book 3 and last but not least, book 1) is told in the third person, with alternating chapters for each of the two main protagonists, the couple who are destined to fall in love, although at the point where the story starts you couldn’t find two more different people. Dina (Christina) a fourteen year old girl, daughter of a bohemian family, with a driven and determined mother, a virgin, studious, invisible to many and not particularly attractive. And Riley (Nicholas), a seventeen year old wild boy, head of the Outcast Crew, best friends with Johnny, Dina’s brother, part of the music band (waiting for a name at that point), the black sheep of the Rileys (and old moneyed family from Shanwick) who’s never noticed Dina other than to tease her. He has all the girls in the world, does not study and embarrasses his family no end. He also has a reputation as a psycho. How do these two characters find each other? Well, Dina auditions as singer for the band and her voice talks to Riley’s soul.

The book could well be a Young Adult or New Adult story, with interesting characters, strong friendship and bonds, stories of bullying, drugs, wild parties, inappropriate relationships, teenage love, talent and misunderstandings galore. This novel follows the chronological order of the romance between the characters, without any of the jumps in time that characterised the other two, and it also has its share of hilarious moments and disappointments and sadness. Gabby, Dina’s sister, although young, only ten, is already one of the stars of the book and a force to be reckoned with, and we get to meet the parents and get a more rounded picture of events.

The writing style is compact, easy to follow and the dialogues are one of the strengths of the book.

I did enjoy this novel and thought many readers would enjoy it too, although it is perhaps different in tone to the other two (there are some sexy moments but definitely it is much tamer regarding the sexual encounters of the characters, although not squeaky-clean). Readers who read this novel first and then move on to the rest might find them quite a different reading experience, although the characters’ journey can be followed through the three novels and develops in an understandable and organic manner.

Blurb:
*Recommended for audiences over the age of 18*
If you like your characters quirky, socially awkward, and badly behaved, this is the book for you. What if you got another chance with the love of your life, even when you didn’t want one? Would you grab the opportunity, or run as fast as you could in the opposite direction?
Christina Martin, lawyer, ex high school grunge queen, teenage bride, divorcee, and once a suspected killer, is confronted by a past that she has spent the last eight years carefully avoiding. Drawn back to her hated hometown, with her family under the worst of circumstances, matters are complicated when she finds the love of her life, ex-husband and nemesis, Nicholas Riley, also in residence.
Riley, a man with secrets, who has a penchant for psychological games, made wary by life and with one weakness, his ex-wife. Christina is the woman that brings out all his protective instincts and others less noble. All it takes is one fateful night, where these two collide, opening a door both thought slammed shut and locked forever.
From the past to the present, Christina and Riley show that true love doesn’t always run smoothly, it might not conquer all, and most importantly, love is complicated.
“Lost in Flight” is book two in the “Complicated Love Series.”

I can’t live with or without you, forwards and back

I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review as part of a book-review tour.

Two families, the Rileys (wealthy, old family from Shanwick) and the Martins (father a musician and British, mother mixed-race. Bohemian and alternative). A boy, Riley (Nick, but known as Riley), who is the black-sheep of his family. Handsome, talented, attractive, has all the women he wants and he’s even chased by those he can’t bear. A girl, Christina (Dina, because her older brother, Johnny, couldn’t pronounce her name when they were kids), responsible, serious, clever, good at school, big boobs but not classically pretty otherwise. They’ve grown together (their mothers had been good friends and so were both families. Later Dina’s mother dies of cancer, but by that point their mothers were no longer friends and their families weren’t in very good terms either), Riley is Johnny’s best friend. Yes, they fall in love, and although they seem destined and fated for each other, chaos and destruction ensues. The series chronicles the story of their relationship. I know you’re probably familiar with the story of the star-crossed lovers, and their complications. This is not Romeo and Juliet but the hilarious moments (mostly when the girls get together) alternate with pretty sad ones where the relationship crashes and burns.

Book two is told, like the rest of the series, in the third person and from alternate points of view. One chapter from Dina’s point of view (when the series opens she’s been living in Washington D.C. for years and works as a lawyer, so she’s more Christina than Dina) and the next from Riley’s. They are divorced but as Dina’s little sister, Gabby (she is one of the greatest characters in a book with plenty of amazing secondary characters), is in hospital and Riley manages the band where Johnny, Dina’s brother, plays, they seem fated to meet again. The story follows their collision course. The two are like the opposite poles of magnets and despite their best intentions they can’t avoid revisiting and reliving their story, both the good and the bad.

The novel is a rollercoaster of emotions. Each character goes through hope and desperation many times over, and shows why they got together in the first place, and also how they ended up hurting each other so badly. They are clearly in love still, but don’t seem able to move past their past. They keep bringing up things that happened before, and the novel moves backwards and forward in time to share with the reader many of the events that brought the couple to where they are now. Although I did not find the story in general difficult to follow, I must admit that at times I wasn’t so sure what had happened first and it wasn’t simple to keep the timeline straight in one’s head.

The two characters are likeable. Christina cares deeply for her family and her friends (the fabulous and fiery Bonnie, I adore Bonnie, and Mandy, the common-sense and practical one) and tries her best to be grown-up and responsible, always allowing her sense of duty to dictate her actions (even when it means risking her self-esteem and sanity), but her insecurities are brought to the fore when she has to go back to Shanwick, where she had been badly treated. Riley wants Dina back, but he is also bitter and has insecurities of his own, and both of them hide secrets that mean there’s plenty of heartbreak and healing to be done.

As I mentioned, I enjoyed the variety of characters, especially the secondary ones, although as tends to happens in these novels, I also wanted to grab the two protagonists by their necks and shake them, telling them to stop being so silly and start being honest with each other.

There are some sex scenes, and although not erotica and not the most explicit I’ve read, I wouldn’t recommend it to people looking for a good clean and sweet romance. The couple are passionate and it shows.

The style of writing makes it easy to read and the dialogue sparkles at times, with characters having distinctive voices. Some of their expressions and quirks I won’t easily forget.

There were many unsolved questions by the end of the book and I look forward to learning more about the characters and their adventures.

Blurb:
Forced to return to her hated hometown to work, Christina Martin, lawyer and ex resident bad girl, finds herself questioning her life choices. Reunited with her former husband, Nicholas Riley, their tenuous and complicated relationship is tested when secrets from the past and present are revealed.
Riley, a man with explosive secrets and penchant for psychological games, faces the dilemma of keeping the woman he loves through lies by omission or potentially losing her with the truth. This isn’t just their second chance for happiness, it’s their last chance and there may be some things that love can’t conquer at all.
Equal parts helped and hindered by a colorful cast of supporting characters, Ties that Bind, book three in the Complicated Love series, continues the dysfunctional relationship of Riley and Dina.

Darkness, forgiveness and endings (but not where and when you think)

I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review as part of a book-review tour.

In book three of the Complicated Love Series, we follow the story of Dina and Riley from where we left them in book two, when they had worked through some of the issues that had ended their previous marriage, but there were still many secrets and actions the characters had taken that their loved one didn’t know about, ensuring further complications. Again the story is told in alternating chapters from each of the protagonists’ point of view and there are some jumps in time where we get to learn more about the events surrounding their wedding and then the traumatic divorce, which had been referred to, but not discussed in detail. There are fewer changes in time (I wouldn’t call them flashbacks as they seem to come at points in the story where both characters are thinking about that particular event and they’re not exclusively narrated from one of the character’s perspective) than in book 2, and the narration is more straightforward, although it also swings to extremes, reflecting the emotions the characters go through. When things seem to have been solved between them, with all secrets revealed and both of them accepting the other for what and who they really are (and in the process accepting themselves too), thinks get much darker.

There are some sex scenes (I would rather call them sexy and passionate) but less explicit than in book two, and there is a hilarious scene early on in the book involving a cat. Well, there are several funny scenes involving that cat. Again there are funny and sad scenes in the novel, although I found them more finely balanced than in book two, with the ups and downs a bit less extreme.

I was particularly touched by the conversation between Dina and Riley’s Mom, a character that had been particularly difficult to understand up to that point. On the other hand there is a psychiatric diagnostic offered as an explanation in the novel that as a psychiatrist I had my doubts about, but even with that I enjoyed the ending.

I also enjoyed the secondary characters I had come to love in the previous book, and gained respect for some of the ones I didn’t like that much. Gabby, one of my favourite characters, comes into her own and she sizzles. The style of writing was again easy to read, dynamic and with great dialogue exchanges. A fitting conclusion to the series.

Neeny Boucher is a nom de plume because my real name sounds like a 19th Century suffragette. Originally from New Zealand, I’m a long-time supporter of the All Blacks. Currently, I live in Europe and am trailing spouse, following my husband all over the world for his work. This not only gives me the opportunity to write, but also, experience the world and indulge in one of my favorite past-times: people watching.
My own employment history is varied and ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous. All of those experiences and encounters, however, have allowed me to collect amazing stories, which now form the basis of my writings.
I have always loved the weird, the outcast and those on the margins of society because they see the world in a different way. These are the people my characters are based around.
I have a BA, BA Honors, and a PhD in Sociology/Indigenous Studies.
The Complicated Love Series, books one to three: Back of Beyond, Lost in Flight, and Ties That Bind.

Author Links:


Buy Links:
Back of Beyond: http://amzn.to/22xbydo
Lost in Flight: http://amzn.to/29w7B8t
Ties that Bind: http://amzn.to/29r5xcJ
Excerpt from Lost in Flight:
Christina, Shanwick, The Present, 2012
Skin meets skin, trailing promises and desire. Feathery breaths whisper on Christina’s shoulders. Her eyes snap open, squinting at the morning sun. The dull throb in her head gives notice, as does fierce thirst.
Her tongue seeks moisture on her lips, but there’s none. Christina’s stomach roils. Her breath is radioactive. She makes her own self feel sick.
Blue walls, a dresser, and a familiar door: recognition tugs at her consciousness. Christina knows this room, but hasn’t been here in a long, long time. She’s also naked and not alone.
Wrapped around her is her ex-husband, ex-love of her life, and persona non grata, Nicholas Riley. Riley’s fast asleep, breathing heavily, and his hands are wandering up her body. One lands on her boob, clutching, groping.
Christina jerks forward, shrugging him off. She opens and closes her eyes, counting to ten. Nothing changes and he is still here.
The gory details of last night are behind the ominous, pulsating fog in her head. The man, the lack of clothing, and the rumpled bedding indicate what it involved. Adrenaline responds to her internal alarm.
If he wakes… A myriad of awkward scenarios run free-flow through her head. This will be the fastest exit of shame in the history of exits of shame.
Extracting herself finger by finger from Riley’s death grip, Christina slips over the side of the bed. The room sways, rocking back and forth. She lurches forward on wobbly legs.
Christina’s bladder aches. She needs to do things, desperate things… human things. She just can’t do them naked.
Her little blue dress is at the end of the bed. Hunching down, she crawls to retrieve it. A quick search for her other belongings throws up further questions. Draped at an odd angle on the mirror are her panties. It looks like someone slingshot them.
Cringe lands on Christina’s face in big, red, heat spots. What did she do? Scratch that. Willful ignorance is sometimes a kindness.
Her bra, shoes, and handbag are nowhere to be seen. The bras and shoes are manageable, but the handbag is a problem. Her life is in there.
Hauling on her dress, Christina slinks over to her panties, pulling them on with a hop and a bump. She recoils at the woman in the mirror. Smeared mascara accentuates dark brown eyes and then there’s the lipstick. It’s everywhere: face, teeth, chin, and neck.
But, the makeup is nothing in comparison to the hair. Her after-sex hair is an 80’s rock video. Dragging her fingers through it, she winces. Taming it is a lost cause and also, she doesn’t want to anger it.
Years ago, this wouldn’t have bothered her. She was “Dina,” high school Queen of the Outcast Crew, and a true believer in grunge. By today’s standards, Christina Martin, lawyer, she is a complete mess.
Wiping as much of last night’s makeup off as she can, Christina creeps to the door. Riley hasn’t moved, just rolled over onto his back and settled in the space she vacated. Taking a deep breath, she blows it out of her mouth quietly.
I can do this. I can get out of here and if anything comes of it, I can use the old lawyer’s trick of: deny, avoid, defer, and engage. There is also “settlement,” but that is the last resort.
Christina’s hand is on the bedroom door handle. She freezes at the crunching sound it makes. Every nerve ending is on high alert, but the silence from him allows her to relax.
She pulls the door toward her, but it sticks. She pushes and pulls, but it will not budge. Horror sweats break out.
“Good morning.” Riley’s raspy, amused voice hits her senses like an old lover’s caress. Intimate, knowing. It sends chills up her spine.


Thanks so much to Lady Amber’s Reviews & PR and to Neeny Boucher for this opportunity, thanks to all of you for reading and if you’re interested, like, share, comment and CLICK!
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Book launch book promo

#BookBlitz IN ALL MY WISHES: A RIVERBEND NOVEL by Ciara Knight (@ciaratknight) Freebie and excerpt

Hi all:
I know I don’t usually post on Saturday, but I thought In All My Wishes sounded like a great read for the summer. And as it’s a freebie… I couldn’t pass the chance to share.
Thanks to Lady Amber for sharing this opportunity!

Title: In All My Wishes: A Riverbend Novel

Author: Ciara Knight
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Blurb:
At the age of fifteen, Anna Baker was ripped from her childhood home, and her one true love, vowing to return the minute she graduated high school.

Professor Liam Harrow once believed his childhood sweetheart would return home to him, but during college he faced reality and hardened his heart to love.
When Historical Hall faces demolition, both Anna and Liam search for options to save their childhood memories, but when secrets unravel and the truth of Anna’s childhood departure is revealed, it could corrupt their memories, risk their present, and destroy their future.
Ciara Knight writes with a ‘Little Edge and a Lot of Heart’ with her contemporary and paranormal romance books. Her most recent #1 Amazon bestselling series, Sweetwater County, has topped the charts and received acclaimed reviews. Her international best-seller, Pendulum scored 4 stars from RT Book Reviews, accolades from InD’Tale Magazine and Night Owl Top Pick. Her young adult paranormal series, Battle for Souls, received 5 stars from Paranormal Romance Guild and Night Owl’s Top Pick, among other praises.
Author Links:
Buy Links: Amazon: http://amzn.to/1mKRYKl
He hugged her to him, holding her arms at her side so she couldn’t hit him. “It’s not too late. You’re not that old, you know.”
She squirmed, but he held tight. “And you’re getting too old to be the playboy of Riverbend. I think it’s time for you to retire that title to a new graduate.”
A shooting star bolted across the sky. “Quick! Make a wish.”
Anna slid an arm free and held his cheek, facing him. “I don’t have to.”
He dared to move closer, to hope she’d return his affection. His heart pounded with adrenaline and his breath quickened. No woman ever turned him around or flipped him upside down like she did. “Anna.”
“Shh.” She gently pressed her lips to the corner of his mouth. A shiver of excitement vibrated from the top of his head to his toes. He held onto her for dear life, hoping she’d never pull away, never leave him again.
“Anna, promise you’ll stay,” he whispered.
A long silence rent the air with indecision. He released her and she slid away, only a few inches, but there might as well have been a valley of broken dreams and wishes between them.

Thanks so much to Ciara Knight and To Lady Amber’s Reviews & PR for this opportunity, thanks to all of your for reading, and don’t forget to like, share, comment and CLICK!

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