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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Whitney Finalist Review: LADY EMMA'S CAMPAIGN by Jennifer Moore (Romance)

Jennifer also has TWO books as finalists in the romance category, BECOMING LADY LOCKWOOD and the companion, LADY EMMA'S CAMPAIGN. Good luck!

From Goodreads.com: She would follow him through peace and war.
London, 1811
The London Season is ushered in with a thrilling flurry of invitations, gowns, and parties. But despite her status as belle of the ball, lovely socialite Emma Drake simply cannot fathom becoming entangled with any gentleman of her acquaintance. For in truth, since childhood her heart has belonged to Captain Sidney Fletcher, a man of the sea—and her brother’s best friend. Emma knows that Sidney’s directive to free the Spanish city of Cadiz from French occupation will be dangerous, but when word arrives of his capture, she is frantic. Determined to aid her brother in Sidney’s rescue, she hides aboard his ship and sets a course to Spain. But the realities of war are a far cry from the drawing rooms of London, and Emma finds the man she loves a mere shadow of his former self. When a series of events leaves them trapped together behind enemy lines, Emma and Sidney must embark on a journey fraught with danger—from a bloody hunt for Spanish treasure to the battlefields of war-torn Spain, new threats lurk around every turn. As their flight becomes increasingly perilous, Sidney and Emma must trust each other with their lives—but can they trust the other with their heart?
Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency
Length: 224 pgs

Rating: 4+ 

Review: Who didn't L-O-V-E Sidney in Becoming Lady Lockwood? He was just so fun, and the way he teased William was fantastic. It reminded me of the awesome BFF relationship between Sarah Eden's the Duke and Henry, two of my favorite characters. And here, in Lady Emma's Campaign, I got to get deep into Sidney and find out so much more about him. It really rounded out his character. While the way Emma got to Spain was a bit of a stretch for me, once there everything went really well. I've discussed on Twitter with Sarah (and also Jennifer) about how we love that Jennifer's characters can get into trouble but still remain ladies. One big pet peeve of mine in historical fiction is how many authors try to make heroines too modern in order to appeal to modern audiences. Lady Emma's Campaign walks that fine line with excellence! Emma behaves exactly as a lady would when first thrown into the situation, but also grows exactly as we want to see her and becomes stronger while still behaving as a lady would. :) I'm pretty sure I loved this book even more than Becoming Lady Lockwood.  

Sex - 1ish (Sidney and Emma go off together alone as part of a plan and some men assume naughty things)
Language - 1 (Strong language of the Regency era. ;) )
Violence - 2 (Battles are mentioned, details, not too graphic, of death, injuries, etc related to war)
Rating - PG

Find the rest of the 2014 Whitney Finalists here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Whitney Finalist Spotlight: PAINTING KISSES by Melanie Jacobson

From Amazon: Lia Carswell is good at what she does—even if it isn’t as glamorous as her old life in Manhattan. The popular waitress works hard in a small Salt Lake City diner, with the goal of easing her sister’s financial strain. And with her witty personality and good looks, she’s something of an enigma to the male customers who vie for her attention. Ever the professional, Lia keeps her distance—with one exception. Aidan is a breakfast regular, and Lia’s easy rapport with him draws her attention, though she would never let their relationship get serious—especially since he’s not the only one trying to catch her eye. Her handsome neighbor Griff has been hinting that he wants more than a neighborly relationship.Then her old New York artist life comes knocking, and an offer is made for a series of commissioned paintings. Lia knows it would ensure financial security for her family, but she doesn’t know if she wants that life anymore. When she undertakes one final project, she reawakens her heart and soul. And as she finds herself falling in love and needing an outlet more and more, she realizes her paintings might be her saving grace.

Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: Romance
Length: 240 pgs

Rating: 5+

Review: I saw a review of this book a few weeks ago that said it was Melanie's best yet and it made me eager to read it. The paperback has been sitting on my bookshelf forever, but with other reading responsibilities crammed into my life, I had to set it aside. Plus, I have it in paperback, and lately it's easier for me to read on my Kindle.

But, the reviewer is absolutely right. This is Melanie's best yet. Maybe you caught a conversation on Twitter that I had with Sarah Eden about romance, but we discussed how we loved Melanie's heroines and how they fought hard for what they wanted and sometimes even against what they wanted, but how we understood every choice they made because it was always in character. That's exactly what makes THIS book awesome-tastic. Lia is a great character. She is cool and an artist and the way she sees the world is so so wonderful. I loved the way the romance grew--in a slow-burn way that usually drives me nuts, but everything was perfect. Perfect. So yeah, my favorite so far of Melanie's!

Sex - 1 (kissing)
Language - 0
Violence - 0
Overall Rating - PG

View the complete list of Whitney Finalists here.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cover Reveal FOR ME! Playing for Keeps!

Remember a year ago when I wrote this post? (You probably do. I reposted the link just a few days ago!) The great thing about writing that post you always wanted to write--the one about your book getting published or landing an agent--is that you get to keep writing posts you've always wanted to write.

Like your very own cover reveals!

Without further adieu...

I was able to look at some mock-ups of my cover a few weeks ago, and when I saw this one, I was absolutely smitten. I think my exact words to Christina, my cover designer, were, "I want to kiss it and marry it."

When I first started writing PLAYING FOR KEEPS, it was originally titled Marry Me, Anthony Rogers, and the cover I pictured was a girl holding up a sign at a game with the title on the cover. Fun, right? :) Then I realized I hated that title and my friend Kaylee helped me come up with a new title, "The Game Plan." At that point, the cover above is pretty much exactly what I pictured--a game plan drawn out with hearts and O's I ahhhhhhdore the title font--the cute hearts and the cursive "for."

It's really just perfect. So. Perfect.

Covers are one of those things you give up control over when you go the traditional publishing road, and it was the only thing that worried me about going that direction. With my novellas, I'd been able to choose exactly what I wanted. I was so worried about what this cover would look like. I should not have been. They actually gave me four really good options that had elements I really loved too.

You want to know the other AWESOME news about this? You can actually pre-order PLAYING FOR KEEPS on Amazon! When my friend Jenny showed me that yesterday (and ordered it--she's SO fun. I love her) I almost fell off my chair. My book. For preorder. I am so legit. :)

So ENJOY. And share my cover everywhere so people will see it's awesomeness and want to go buy it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Whitney Finalist Review: TOMORROW WE SPY by Jordan McCollum (Mystery/Suspense)

I am SO excited for Jordan. She earned two nominations, one in the Mystery/Suspense category for Tomorrow We Spy and one in the romance category! I love, LOVE this books. I always associate this series with moving to Alaska, because I, Spy was the first book I read after getting here. There was a power outage for a day and a half, and I curled up and read books--including I, Spy. Yay, Jordan! Congrats!

Jordan and I last summer when she and her husband visited Alaska.
This post was originally published December 16, 2014

From JordanMcCollum.com: CIA operative Talia Reynolds (Fluker) is off the clock, off the continent and off on her Paris honeymoon. But the happy couple’s trip to the City of Love is cut short when the CIA tracks them down for a top secret mission. Only this time, the Agency’s assignment isn’t for Talia — it’s for her husband Danny.
As an aerospace engineer, Danny’s the one with the connections they need to get to their target, an aerospace executive and a dangerous Russian FSB officer. After all she’s done to protect Danny from her spy life, Talia won’t okay the op until she’s allowed to accompany her husband. And the only safe way for her to do that? Deep undercover.
Balancing her personal and professional personas requires more precision than a Russian ballet. But all the covers in the world can’t protect Danny and Talia when the FSB officer turns the tables on them. Now Talia must use her every skill to save her marriage, her husband and herself — or their first mission together will be their last.
Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: Romantic Thriller
Length: 295 pgs
Rating: 5 (I really loved it)
Review: Danny and Talia are married! Yay. I so much enjoyed getting to see more of Danny and how he fights for him and Talia. She can be frustrating, in a good way, and I like seeing Danny stepping out and setting her straight. :) I loved going back to where Talia served her mission and getting immersed in Russia. Tons of great action in this one, and like all the others, I read it FAST.
Sex - 1 (The book opens on their honeymoon, and the wedding night is mentioned, but so cleanly. Really.)
Language - 0
Violence - 1 (Spy book. Action book. Nothing graphic)
Rating - PG

Find the rest of the 2014 Whitney Finalists here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Whitney Finalist Review: BECOMING LADY LOCKWOOD by Jennifer Moore (Romance)

I, oh-so-thoroughly enjoyed this book. Maybe you remember my swooning about finding love on a boat? And Jamaica? *Dies* How anyone will choose between the amazing finalists--especially in the romance category--I'll never know.

This post was originally published on July 22, 2014

Becoming Lady Lockwood Amelia Beckett is delighted to be a widow. Married by proxy to a man she'd never met, Amelia recognizes that a fortuitous entry into widowhood frees her from meddlesome chaperones and matchmakers. Heiress to her mother's sugar plantation in Jamaica, she happily anticipates working in a man's world, with the additional credibility of her new title: Lady Lockwood. But with the arrival of Captain Sir William Drake, her plans quickly go awry . . . William has traversed the Atlantic with one purpose. If he cannot prove that Amelia's marriage to his brother was a fraud, she will be entitled to a sizeable portion of his family's estate. He is determined to return this duplicitous Lady to London for an official hearing, and he carries with him a letter that will ensure her cooperation . . . Left with no choice, Amelia joins the captain on his return voyage to England, and the two quickly find that ship life does not allow for evasion. Amelia and William are ceaselessly thrown together, and amidst fierce storms and ocean battles, what began as antipathy seems to be evolving quite unexpectedly. But as they draw ever closer to their destination, will the impossibility of their circumstances shatter any hope of a future together? 

Praise for Becoming Lady Lockwood
"Moore does a lovely job of showcasing sizzle in this must-read for fans of regency and historical romance." ~ Foreword Reviews

* * *

My Review

Genre: Regency Romance
Audience: Adult (Clean)
Length: 199 pgs

Rating: ****+

Review: I am the biggest sucker for regency romances and I haven't read one in a very long time. I lucked out and got a chance to read this one early. (Not the first time I've sung the praises of knowing people in the writing world!) So many fun and unique aspects about this story, like a glimpse into a Regency colony like Jamaica. Or life aboard a ship. The author clearly knows her stuff and has spent her time doing research. Everything feels so real. Loved the romance too, of course. It worked so well. I wished we could have learned more about William and his relationship with his family. I recommend this book highly to anyone who loves the genre. You will love the romance and adventure it provides!

Sex - 1/5 (Minor, it is mentioned that Amelia needs a guard because she is the lone woman among so many men aboard the ship.)
Language - 0/5
Violence - 2/5 A shipboard battle is described, and Amelia helps with the wounded.

Source: I was provided a copy for the blog tour in exchange for my honest opinion.

Try this. Enjoy Regency romance on the high seas? Read The Guise of a Gentleman by Donna Hatch.

* * *


He finally stopped and pulled his chair closer to her, raising her chin. “Amelia. I cannot begin to thank you for what you did. It was brave and brilliant, and it terrifies me to think that you put your life at risk for—”
“For my shipmates, Captain.” She kept her eyes lowered.
“I would never have forgiven myself if anything had happened to you.” He wiped the tears from her cheeks with his thumb.
“I would never have forgiven myself if I had not tried. These men, this ship, it has become . . . I care for them, William, for all of you.”
He raised her chin even higher, so that she was forced to lift her gaze his face. He stared at her for a moment. Then his eyes dropped to her lips, and Amelia’s pulse began to race. Would he kiss her again? They sat, frozen for a heartbeat, and then William stood, stealing with him all of the warmth in the room.
* * *

Jenny MooreAuthor Jennifer Moore Jennifer Moore is a Passionate reader and writer of all things romance, helping her find balance with the rest of her world, which includes a perpetually traveling husband and four active sons, who create heaps of laundry that are anything but romantic. Jennifer has a BA in linguistics from the University of Utah and is a Guitar Hero champion. She lives in northern Utah with her family. You can learn more about her at authorjmoore.com. The author's first book, Becoming Lady Lockwood, is a regency romance centered on the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars of the early 1800s.   

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Whitney Finalist Review: STILL TIME by Maria Hoagland (General Fiction)

From Amazon: Thrust into the chaos of her mother-in-law’s hoarding and forgetfulness, LDS church member Alyssa Johnston wishes she could retreat to a simpler time when her kids were small and almost anything could be fixed with a hug. But reassurance and a quick distraction no longer erase the pain of a missionary son who is struggling, a young teen who is bullied, or a daughter who is distant. As Aly’s own life and relationship with her husband plunge out of control, she wonders if her faith will be enough to keep her family—or herself—from falling apart. 

Still Time is a deeply moving story about a woman’s faithful journey into the next phase of her life. You will laugh with Aly, feel her sorrow, and see yourself in Maria Hoagland’s realistic, heartfelt portrayal of a woman’s struggle to keep her family safe and hold back time as long as she can.

Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: Women's Fiction
Length: 324 pgs

Rating: 4

Review: This is the second of Maria's book that I've read and I have to say this is my favorite of the two. I love Alyssa and how she copes with all the things happening and the changes in her life. I think I especially related to her because I picked up and moved my family thousands of miles from the lives they were used to just like her. I love how in the book there are definite struggles, yet things are still able to work out. The interplay between her and her MIL is just fantastic--it's great to see the heartbreak and how Alyssa struggles to fit things in and do what she feels is the right thing. Excellent book!

Sex - 0
Language - 0
Violence - 1- (The MIL throws things and gets angry)
Overall Rating - G

Find all of the 2014 Whitney Finalists here.

About Me!

I've been writing since I was old enough to grasp a crayon--my grandma even has an early copy of a "book" I made her. I have a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and will (hopefully) soon be starting a graduate program in English. When I'm not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in the living room or losing miserably to my boys at Uno, I'm ... well, writing or editing, of course! I'm married to my best friend, and we have three rambunctious but simply amazing little boys.


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