Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Truth About Love by Sheila Athens - Review

The Truth About Love
by Sheila Athens
Published: October 14, 2014
Montlake Romance

Strong Convictions
After her testimony sent an innocent man to prison, law student Gina Blanchard vowed to spend her life righting that wrong. She passed up more prestigious opportunities to intern at a Tallahassee nonprofit dedicated to overturning wrongful convictions. But when she catches the eye of sexy green-eyed hunk Landon Vista, she realizes there’s room in her hardworking life for a little fun. Then she learns her newest case involves the man accused of murdering Landon’s mother…and possibly setting him free.

Stronger Passions
The people of Tallahassee still see Landon Vista as their golden boy and football hero…and as the man who tragically lost his mother. Yet Landon hides his emotional scars behind his handsome smile. While working for a senator who’s tough on crime, he finds himself keeping an eye on gorgeous redheaded Gina in more ways than one. But as their passion simmers, their secrets build…until Gina’s latest case collides with Landon’s heartbreaking past, threatening to tear them apart forever.

My review:
After Gina and Landon meet by chance and have an instant attraction, they realize that they are on opposite sides of a very important issue. Gina is convinced that the man in prison for killing Landon's mother is innocent, and she is working to free him. Landon is sure the right man is behind bars because his eyewitness testimony when he was 9 years old is what sent him there. Landon is, of course, very upset when he finds out Gina is trying to get the man released, but he decides to stay in touch with her in case he can get to the information she has about his mother's murder. As the relationship and the investigation progress, Landon starts to have doubts about what he really saw that day.

I chose to read this book because of the plot of someone working to overturn a wrongful conviction. For the most part, I thought this was done very well in this book. Throughout the entire book, you are wondering if he did it or not and if they will be successful in getting answers. Trying to not give any spoilers, I have to say that the wheels of justice never turn so quickly in any case but especially not when the person has already been convicted. But I understand this was necessary for this story, and it didn't hurt my enjoyment of this book. Speaking of things that bothered me, I am going to point out that Key Biscayne is not part of "the Keys." No big deal, but it irked me.

Overall, I did really enjoy this book. I really liked how Gina and Landon's relationship progressed. As Landon started having doubts about what really happened with his mother's murder, Gina was there for him. She understood what he was going through because she had testified against someone and then found out she was wrong. I liked both characters and thought they were well developed. Gina was determined to help others wrongly convicted because of her mistake even though she hated going into the prisons. Landon was still just a little boy inside, feeling all alone even though he was a celebrity to most of the town, and still looking for love from his father. This story was well-written and had a great mix of romance and mystery. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a sweet falling-in-love story with a lot of suspense thrown in.

Copy was provided for an honest review.

About the author:
SHEILA ATHENS writes contemporary romance set inside modern day dilemmas (think Jodi Picoult, but with a central love story, lots of sexual tension and a happily ever after). After a fair amount of success in regional writing contests, Sheila finaled in the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart award in 2013. That entry, retitled THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE, sold to Montlake Romance for publication in the fall of 2014. She hopes you enjoy her stories, which explore the complications of modern-day life, illustrate the quiet dignity of mankind and celebrate the power of love.

Sheila grew up in the Ozarks, vacillating between climbing trees, reading books and neurotically working toward straight A’s. Many years later—after marriage, a couple of careers, and a Master’s Degree—she discovered her first romance novel in the gift shop of a hotel when she was supposed to be networking with fellow conventioneers. Now, some years later, she’s got a bright red study filled with romance novels, though the testosterone from her all-male household often encroaches upon her little feminine enclave. She’s a creative lefty who loves quiet spaces and eccentric people. She uses solitude to refill her writing well. Though she’s lived in the coastal south for more than twenty-five years, she looks forward to one day moving to the serene mountaintop cabin she and her husband have built at the edge of a national forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Find out more at     

Friday, October 10, 2014

Rip Tide Bikini (A Pleasure Island Romance) by Lyla Dune - Review

Rip Tide Bikini
(A Pleasure Island Romance #2)
by Lyla Dune
Published: March 2014
by Composesum Publishing

Hot and Hilarious with Heart!

(Mature/Explicit content alert - Readers should be 18 years of age or older)

Trent McAllister, ex Navy SEAL, is a bounty hunter in hot pursuit of Mazy Washington's twin brother and soon finds himself stranded on Pleasure Island with a flock of ostriches and some zany naughty naked seniors. He's immediately attracted to drummer girl/ mechanic, Mazy, and the feeling is mutual. But with this couple's opposing missions in regards to Mazy's brother, their relationship is off to a rocky start.

Will Mazy's brother and father drive a wedge between her and Trent, or will Trent manage to bring the family together in a way that includes him?  

My review:
Mazy's twin brother, Earl, is being chased by a bounty hunter for something he didn't do. Mazy is fiercely loyal to her brother because he is essentially the only family she has since her mother passed away and her father took off. Trent, the bounty hunter, has chased Earl to Pleasure Island. He then does damage to the island's ostrich farm following whom he thought was Earl but was really Mazy. Trent agrees to stay at the ostrich farm in lieu of facing charges for the damages. Trent's life is pretty stressful and really nothing more than being on the go all the time for the job, so Pleasure Island is a relaxing change of pace. Of course, the hot redhead, Mazy, is also a reason for him to stay. Mazy is conflicted about her attraction to Trent. She has the hots for him, but she is disappointed in herself because she feels like she is betraying her brother if she has anything to do with the bounty hunter that is chasing him.

Rip Tide Bikini is an entertaining read full of quirky characters, ostriches, and a pot belly pig named Rooster. A sexy massage, a provocative dance, and a sunburn down below will keep you both entertained and laughing. I really enjoy the mix of humor and heat that Lyla Dune weaves into her stories. Mazy and Trent are both well-developed characters, which makes it easy for readers to develop a connection with them. Myrtle and Louise, two of the "Naughty Naked Seniors," are hilarious and obviously care for Mazy very much. We also get to know Kendal quite a bit more in this book than we did in the first book of the series because her story is up next.

I will say this story could have used a little more proofreading. The name of the attack ostrich changed from Spike to Strike in a couple of places, and there were a few other things that were mainly typos. However, it did not detract from my enjoyment of this book. I recommend Rip Tide Bikini and this series to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance. If you are a fan of Jill Shalvis, Lyla Dune is right up your alley.

A copy was provided for an honest review.

About the author:
Lyla Dune has taught and performed music for over twenty years. Like most band directors, she can play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on a wide variety of instruments, including tuba. Her primary instruments are clarinet, saxophone, flute, and piano.

Songwriting has been in Lyla’s blood since she was a young girl. She still enjoys writing songs. Songwriting led her to poetry, and she has published over a hundred poems. She has also published many short stories and flash fiction pieces in a multitude of genres.

Writing can be creative and cathartic, which is why Lyla fell in love with it, but she learned that writing from that dark place inside her heart made for a lot of sad days. Even though publishers kept begging for more of that sticky dark stuff, she changed directions and decided to fill her days writing happily ever afters. Now, she smiles and sings and enjoys each moment spent with her characters and hopes her readers will find as much joy between the pages of her books as she’s experienced penning the words.

Find out more at  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Waking Up Joy by Tina Ann Forkner - Review

Waking Up Joy
by Tina Ann Forkner
Expected publication: October 8, 2014
by Tule Publishing

Behind every lost dream lies a second chance…

When adored town spinster Joy Talley ends up in a coma after a peculiar accident, she is surprised and incensed to hear what is being said in her hospital room, including plans for her funeral. When she finally wakes, her well-­‐meaning, but bossy, brothers and sisters dismiss her claims, thinking her accident has knocked her off her rocker, but Joy has never felt better, and is determined to set the past right.

Now Joy must face her darkest secret and risk reopening wounds caused by an old flame who rejected her more than twenty years ago. But taking risks brings change, as well as a new, younger man into Joy’s life, making her feel like a teenager again. Suddenly Joy’s once humdrum life is anything but boring and routine and the future beckons, exhilarating and bright.

My review:    
Waking Up Joy is an interesting story. Joy has never gotten over her teenage love, so she has refused all offers of dates and is now in her forties with no children. She has a quirky, loving family and still lives in her childhood house with her mom who believes strongly in the power of charms. Right after her mother passes away, Joy climbs onto the roof to retrieve a charm she hid in the chimney (one among many). She has an unfortunate accident which puts her into a coma and causes her family to believe she tried to commit suicide. Joy can hear everything that is being said around her while in this coma, including her long-lost love whose wife passed several years before. After she comes out of the coma, Joy feels as if she has been reborn and is ready to make changes in her life.

I really liked Joy's quirky family, especially the glimpses we got to see of her deceased mother, and how much the family loved each other. I thought the twist was interesting because that was not the story I expected to be behind the charm Joy hid in the chimney. I also liked how this story was set in Northeast Oklahoma and there was a mention of Siloam Springs, Arkansas, because I don't read many books that choose this as the setting. (On a side note, I will say that if there is a JC Penney in Siloam Springs, I've never seen it. But of course, this doesn't detract from the story.) On the other hand, there was something about this book that made it a little hard to read, although I can't really figure out why, and it did seem to drag through the middle. However, I still enjoyed this story and especially the ending, and I would recommend this to anyone who likes women's fiction.

Copy was provided for an honest review.

About the author:
Tina Ann Forkner is a Women’s Fiction writer and the author of Rose House and Ruby Among Us. While she was born and raised in Oklahoma, lived in England, and attended college in California, Tina makes her home in Cheyenne, Wyoming with her husband, three teenagers, and two spoiled dogs. 

Find out more at    

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Skinny by Donna Cooner - Throwback Thursday Review

A "Throwback Thursday Review" is either a book I read way back when but didn't write a review for whatever reason (usually, probably forgot ... oops...) or it is a review on a book I got but then didn't get around to reading until now (again, usually, probably just forgot).

Up this week is Skinny by Donna Cooner. I read this book back in 2012 right before it came out and really enjoyed, and I don't know why I didn't write a review then. Apparently, that part of 2012 was a bad time for me to actually get reviews written because it seems all of my "Throwback Thursday" reviews are coming from then.

Skinny by Donna Cooner
Published: September 2012

Find your voice.

Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.

But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical—and partly to try and save her own life—Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.

With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.

My review:
Skinny is the story of Ever, an overweight teenager who decides to have gastric bypass surgery. "Skinny" is the little voice in Ever's head that calls her names and tells her everyone is disgusted by her. Even as Ever loses weight, the voice of Skinny never goes away and keeps telling Ever she isn't good enough.

Skinny explores the hard issues of self-esteem, being happy with yourself, confidence, following your dreams, and what true friendship really means. This is an excellent story, and I would recommend it.

Copy was provided for an honest review.

About the author:
Donna Cooner was born and raised in Texas. She is a three time graduate of Texas A&M University. A former teacher and school administrator, she now teaches teachers and principals at Colorado State University where she is the director of the School of Teacher Education and Principal Preparation. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her two labs and a cat named Stu. She's a big fan of chocolate and laughing (not necessarily in that order).

Donna is the author of over twenty picture books and was a founding member of the Brazos Valley Society of Children's Bookwriters and Illustrators. She has also written children's television shows for PBS and textbooks for future teachers. SKINNY is her debut novel for young adults.

Find out more at

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Long Way Home by Kathleen O'Brien - Review

The Long Way Home
Montana Born Homecoming #4
Kathleen O'Brien
Published: October 1, 2014 
by Tule Publishing

At eighteen, Abby Foster had been the cutest little rich gal in Marietta, Montana. She could make boys do whatever she wanted—especially sweet, wild, penniless Joe Carlyle, who adored her. But a lot’s changed in the eight years since Abby broke Joe’s heart by marrying the rich guy her domineering father chose for her. Her father has died, and the “perfect” husband has bolted, taking all the money. More importantly, Abby’s grown up. She’s vowed to stop listening to other people and follow her own heart instead.

Right now, her heart tells her to return to Marietta. The wildfire she felt in Joe’s arms has haunted her, and, though she doesn’t expect forgiveness, she hopes maybe he, too, would enjoy a brief, no-strings affair. If they can share just the seventy-two hours of Homecoming weekend…well, maybe then they’ll both find it easier to forgive, forget, and move on.

But when she sees him, she realizes how naive that idea was. The years have changed Joe, too…and the passionate, powerful man he’s become isn’t someone she’ll ever forget. This time the heart she breaks may be her own.

My review:
The Long Way Home is a really sweet romance about a second chance with a first love. Abby and Joe were just teenagers, but they were in love. Abby was a seemingly rich girl who had everything. Joe was "from the wrong side of the tracks." Abby didn't care; she loved him anyway. She didn't want to marry the rich older man her father had picked out for her and even planned to call off the wedding the night before. Abby then finds out her father is dying and wants to leave her in the arms of someone that he thinks can take care of her financially, so Abby goes through with the wedding, breaking Joe's (and her) heart.

Eight years later, Abby's marriage is over, and she's returned to Marietta. She is on her way through for job interviews and wants to spend the weekend with Joe. It took Joe forever to get over Abby, and he knows that if he agrees to this weekend, he will fall for her again only to have to watch her leave again.

I really enjoyed this novella. It is a sweet little romance about two people reconnecting and a glimpse at what can happen when someone never really got over their first love. For such a short story, I think the author did a great job of giving us enough information to get to know Abby and Joe plus enough conflict and tension to make us wonder if they would get together for the weekend or not. Great little romance, and I would recommend it.

A copy was provided for an honest review.

About the author:
Since the day Harlequin bought her first novel, Kathleen has published more than 40 titles with them--everything from hot, sexy contemporaries to dark, brooding suspense. Read in more than 30 countries and 29 languages, she's a five-time finalist for the prestigious RWA RITA Award, a winner of the Maggie Award and the Holt Medallion, and a three-time finalist for Romantic Times' Reviewer's Choice.

Kathleen comes from a family of writers, poets, and journalists- though she may be the one shameless romantic in the bunch. A true Cancer, she values home and family above everything and wouldn't dream of ditching a single friend, memory, gift, or love letter.

Consequently, her office is a mess, full of books, colored cut glass, photo albums, Madame Alexander dolls, and a cockatiel who whistles the theme from "The X Files." She's addicted to Mozart and the Beatles, Downton Abbey and The Mentalist, Dorothy Dunnett and Rex Stout novels, and honeycrisp apples. 

Find out more at


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