Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Arms of Promise by Crystal Walton


Contemporary dancer Anna Madison is determined to honor her mom’s memory. With the life she’s built in downtown Chicago hinging on an upcoming audition, now’s the worst time for her childhood best friend—and the only man she’s ever loved—to reenter her world. Her dad’s current DA case instigates enough danger without adding on the risk of losing her heart. Again.

Army Ranger Evan O’Riley has always known his place in Anna’s life. Letting his feelings compromise her safety simply isn't an option. Especially when his promise to protect her drives him off the sidelines and into the one place even his special ops training can't save him from. Anna's arms.

Keeping her from uncovering the real reason Evan returns is one thing. Trying to hide the reason he left to begin with could destroy them both. But when the past they’ve both tried to outrun launches them down a heart-pounding road of threats, secrets, and attraction, resisting love may turn into the greatest risk they face.

My Review: 5 Stars

Anna has always dreamed of being a professional dancer. Her mom and her best friend, Evan, have always been her biggest supporters. But when her mom dies in a tragic accident and Evan leaves to join the army without so much as a goodbye, she is lost and doesn't know how to move forward. It's been 5 years and she thinks she's finally back on track to achieving her dreams. Just when things start going right, her world is about to be turned upside down... again. The only thing that is bringing light into her darkness is Evan. Now that he's back will she finally have the guts to tell him she loves him? Will they be able to move forward and build a future together or will they forever be "just friends"?

Evan has returned to Chicago for one reason and one reason only. To protect Anna from all the dangers lurking around her. But he knows all too well how she feels about her father's hired "secret service wannabes" and he can't let her find out. He would do anything to protect her... even lie about why he's back. In his mind, he has already failed her once, he cannot afford to do it again. But how can he stay focused and on his toes if her sweet, sassy, adorable attitude has him thinking about how much he loves her and how much he wishes he was good enough for her. 

Between secrets, stubbornness and fear, Anna and Evan definitely have their work cut out for them. But will they see that they belong together before it's too late? Will their love for each other heal all past hurts and help them move forward to finally get their HEA? If anyone deserves a HEA it's definitely them! 

I thoroughly enjoyed Arms of Promise and had a hard time putting it down! I stayed up way too late and woke up even earlier than normal just to read it. I got frustrated... I laughed... I got teary eyed... I let out dreamy sighs... it was just what I needed! 

This is my 2nd book by Crystal Walton and I have to say it will not be my last! I can't wait to read more by her! :) 

And of course my review wouldn't be complete without my casting! I love these two! What do you think?! ;o)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Seaside Christmas by Stacy Claflin


He can’t stand her. She thinks he’s crazy. Will their feelings stay etched in permanent ink?

Cruz Hunter has always stuck out in his small hometown. Now that he’s covered in tattoos, the residents peg him as even more of an outcast. It seems like the whole world is against his dream of opening a local tattoo parlor.

When he finally finds the perfect place for his new business, Cruz discovers a pastor and his daughter have already bought it. The only thing more irritating than the change in his plan is Talia, a beautiful and feisty argument in a dress. Cruz would like nothing more than to have her out of his life and his mind, but for some reason, she’s the only thing he can think about.

If Cruz and Talia can stop arguing long enough, opposites may do much more than attract.

My Review: 4 Stars

Cruz has always been the outcast in his small town of Kittle Falls. People have always been quick to judge him because of what he looks like on the outside. His dream has always been to open a tattoo parlor but when he approaches the town council they give him the run around. They see him as a trouble maker who will only bring shame and seedy characters to their small tourist town. But he is determined to make his dream come true and he refuses to give up. Just when he thinks they are finally okay with his shop he is duped and lied to by them. The building that he has chosen has been sold out from underneath him to a pastor and his daughter. How will he ever make his dream come true if everyone refuses to see past his exterior and see him for who he really is?

Talia and her father Allen move to the small town of Kittle Falls in search of a fresh start after her mother's sudden death. Her father is ready to make the move from assistant pastor to head pastor and has found the perfect building. It is in need of a lot of work but they are up for the challenge. Little did they know that part of that challenge would include the hurt and angry Cruz. They had no idea that the building had been promised to him before they purchased it. How can they get him to understand that they had nothing to do with what the council has done? 

Allen is very understanding and reaches out to help Cruz in any way he can. But Talia isn't as trusting as her father is at first. She too was guilty of judging Cruz by his outer appearance. But when he's willing to help them do whatever he can, including halting the progress on his own shop, to open up their church as soon as possible she's quick to right her wrong. She slowly starts seeing the real Cruz and is drawn to him even more. But can two people from different walks of life really make a relationship work? Outside forces and insecurities will work double time to keep them apart but when it's meant to be, nothing and no one will stand in their way. 

I have really enjoyed this series. It was a fun getaway and along the way I discovered a new author to add to my list! I have to admit I was sad to see this series just end. I would have loved an epilogue of some kind tying everything together and wrapping up all the lose ends. It would have been perfect! I am definitely looking forward to reading the next series... The Bayside Hunters! :) 

And of course I cannot forget my casting! I am a bit in love with these two... ;) What do you think?! 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Kisses Between the Lines - An Echo Ridge Anthology

Over All Rating: 3.5 Stars

The Kiss Thief by Rachelle J. Christensen 

As the head librarian of the Echo Ridge Library, Britta Klein thrives on order and categorization. Unfortunately, the old church-turned-library is in desperate need of a renovation. The Harvest Hurrah fundraiser seems to be the answer, but plans keep going awry. With help from Milo Geissler, accomplished musician, piano tuner, and kiss thief, each catastrophe is narrowly avoided. When Milo goes to great lengths to help Britta find a key classic book, she begins to wonder if there is more to life than books and order. Can she allow this man who speaks the language of music to tune her heart to a new song?

My Review: 3 Stars

After being made fun of in elementary school, Britta has spent the majority of her life trying to hide her German heritage. She refuses to abide by her mother’s wishes of marrying a strong German man with a strong German heritage. She will not let her children grow up being made fun of like she was. Little did she know that fate had something else in store for her… ;)

From the moment Milo first laid eyes on Britta, he knew there was something special about her and he just had to get to know her better. However, she had built the walls around her heart so high, he knew he would have a hard time knocking them down. But never underestimate a man in love… ;)

The Lion, The Witch, & The Library by Lucy McConnell

Jennifer Solomon's birthday wish is for the one thing she's been too shy to go after: Kirke Staples, Echo Ridge’s resident playwright, an avid mountain biker, and her best friend. Friend, as in don’t kiss, don’t covet, and don’t under any circumstances fall in love with the man. But it’s too late—she’s already fallen in love. Hoping for a birthday kiss that will change everything, she arranges an "accidental" meeting with the handsomest man on the library board. Her carefully laid plans are thrown off track when the beautiful Bay Barington sweeps into town and casts a spell over Kirke. In her efforts to win Kirke’s heart, Jennifer is forced to take a look at her inner self and decide what type of woman she wants to be, a lion or witch.

My Review: 3.5 Stars

Jennifer has been in love with her best friend Kirke for awhile but she is too scared to cross the line from best friends to something more. There is a lot at stake but Jennifer knows that if she doesn't take that next step, she could be missing something amazing in her life. She plans and prepares for the day of her confession only to be taken off guard by Kirke's announcement of the famous Bay coming to town. Now she has to decide whether to fight for love or let it slip through her fingers.

Kirke has been blinded by fame, fortune and loaded promises, He thinks that with Bay at his side, his career will skyrocket. Little does he know that Bay is a wolf in sheep's clothing and all her moves are to better her career, not his. Disaster strikes and Kirke is left feeling alone and discouraged. In an instant his eyes will be opened and he will have to decide what he really wants in life. He only hopes it isn't too late to fix the mess he created for himself and his best friend.

The Last of the Gentlemen by Cami Checketts

Despite the hardships she’s faced, Emma Turner, is determined to make a good life for her three children. Working nights and struggling through life doesn’t leave much time for romance, which is just fine as far as Emma is concerned. But when her son's good-looking lacrosse coach takes an interest in her children, Emma has to fight off the smolder in her stomach and banish her daydreams. This school-girl crush needs to end before she embarrasses her son and herself. If only she could tell that to her heart.

My Review: 4 Stars

Emma has had it pretty rough in her short 34 years. But she is determined to make a better life for her 3 adorable kids. She works hard and sacrifices a lot to make sure they have everything they need. However, this leaves zero room for love. But she still can’t help but notice her son’s lacrosse coach, Chayton. Sadly, she doesn’t think he will ever see her as more than his favorite lacrosse player's mom.

Chayton can’t get the beautiful Emma off of his mind. There is just something about her that he is drawn to. It just feels right for them to be together, for him to be a father to her 3 kids. But how can he convince her that next step? How can he get her to give them a chance? If anyone deserves a happily ever after it is Emma and Chayton. Gotta love a man who has made up his mind and refuses to take no for an answer! ;)

Much Ado About a Kiss by Heather Tullis

Fay’s life is just fine, thank you. Running the café she’d practically been raised in: Check. Her artwork in a gallery: Check. Volunteering on the library board: Check. The one thing she doesn’t need right now is a guy in her life—especially her brother’s irritating best friend from high school, so when the two men announce that they are moving home to start a ski and mountain bike shop in town, she isn’t pleased. If only she could completely forget that one kiss she and Austin shared in high school. Why does he have to upset her just-fine world? Not this time. Not if she can help it. But can she?

My Review: 3 Stars

Fay has her whole life figured out. She has a success diner, her art is in a gallery and she’s volunteering on the library board. She just doesn’t have time for her estranged father who wants to make amends or for Austin, the boy she shared a mind-blowing kiss with in high school. Her life is perfectly fine without either of them in it… or is it?

Austin can’t understand what he did to Fay to warrant her hatred of him. In his mind, a single mind-blowing kiss in high school should not be the cause. He really wants to move forward with her but she is consistently defensive and cranky around him. But that is no match for a man who has been in love with her for years… ;)

**I received a copy of this book from one of the authors in exchange for my honest review.**

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Seaside Dances by Stacy Claflin


Dream big. Dance often. Love completely.

Zachary Hunter is no stranger to rejection. After multiple failed efforts to get his novel published in New York, he's counting on a trip home to turn his luck around.

Jasmine Blackwell has big dreams. She hopes her internship as a dance instructor in Kittle Falls will be the stepping stone she needs to achieve her lifelong goals.

After a chance meeting, neither Zachary nor Jasmine can deny their attraction. They fear their aspirations are too big to let a relationship tie them down. Can they have both love and the careers of their dreams?

My Review: 4 Stars

After living in New York for a few years, Zachary feels like he has been chewed up and spit out. His writing career didn't take off like he had hoped, he lost his job at the local newspaper when it closed down and his ex-girlfriend is one of the biggest jerks around. He is in desperate need of a fresh start and decides the best option would be to move back home to Kittle Falls. But with rejection after rejection, he has no clue how to move past it to get himself back on track. Finding love was the furthest thing on Zachary's mind. In fact, after his last relationship, he has sworn off women for good.

Jasmine had one of the worst childhoods. Growing up with alcoholic parents, never having money and having nothing but negativity around her, Jasmine's life could have turned out a whole lot different than it did. She had decided long ago that she would be the one to break the cycle. She graduated high school, went to school to become a dance instructor and was on the verge of getting her certificate. All she needed to do was complete her internship in Kittle Falls and she will officially be an instructor. With so much to accomplish, she doesn't have time for love.

But a chance encounter with each other has both Zachary and Jasmine rethinking their stance on love. Jasmine is just what Zachary needs to face past hurts, inspire him to start his next book and help him take the biggest step in his career. And Zachary is just what Jasmine needs to prove that not all relationships are like the ones that she grew up around. True love, trust and loyalty can be found in relationships, you just need to have a little faith.

The Seaside Hunters is such a fun series! I really am enjoying it. Seaside Dances was definitely a good addition to this series. I really enjoyed Zachary and Jasmine's story. It was believable and I liked seeing the roles reversed a bit. Jasmine being the strong, bold one and Zachary being the shy, nerdy one. I was kind of worried about this working but I'm happy to announce that I was pleasantly surprised. The execution was really done well. I can't wait to read more by Stacy Claflin. She is definitely being added to my favorite authors list. :)

And of course we can't forget my casting... ;)