A Carefree Novel series by Leslie Ray I knew I’d made a huge mistake before I ever finished the first book in this series. I’d only bought first two books and I was devouring them. Thankfully, the third novel was only an email away.
I haven’t taken much time to read until lately. I’ve been so busy with work, writing and life. Getting older sucks. But one thing I’ve learned is I have to take time for myself. I can’t continue to push myself without risking my health. Taking time to read, watch a movie with my husband or hang out with friends and family are a great way to keep the doctors away. Finding great books to read isn’t difficult when you know so many authors but finding the books that resonate with you is a bit more of a challenge. I have a confession, I’m a moody reader. I read eclectically but I have to be in the right mood to read certain books and genres.
The Carefree series hit all the right spots but warning you’ll have to read these books with a fresh pack of tissues close at hand.
Carefree, South Carolina is a peaceful small town, or it was before Julia Hawthorne arrived. Julia didn’t know about the house her father left her in his will, but it might just be the haven she needs. Healing from one heartache after another, Julia plans to restart her life and Carefree’s slower pace is just the ticket. Unless she ends up with a ticket or in lock up… after a few run-ins with Carefree’s police chief she’s not so sure that her new life is going to start out behind bars.
Miles Scott, the Carefree Chief of Police is in for a roller coaster ride as Julia leads him on a whirlwind chase. Returning home after years in the military, Miles hasn’t let people get too close, including his big noisy family, but he has an instant attraction to Julia Hawthorn. Can two broken people heal each other? Secrets from their pasts collide and their fears have them running away, will they take a chance on love or is their fear greater than their attraction.
Kat Henley is the big, shouldered broad who owns the local diner Kat Got Your Tongue. She’s not a person who lets anyone else tell her what to do. Kat is happiest tending everyone else’s business, but she doesn’t like to have the tables turned. Preparing for her twin’s wedding, she has an unexpected surprise that changes everything. Ashamed of choices she made in her past, will she continue to let it control her or is she brave enough to face the future?
Officer Marshall Brooks is Miles’ best friend and a fixture in the Scott family. He’s been in love with Kat since they were kids. New challenges and old fears threaten their future as he tries to convince Kat to take a chance on them. Will he give up on the woman he’s loved nearly his whole life? This was an awesome sequel to Exposure. The feel of the town of Carefree and the secondary characters adds so much richness to this story. I could see Carefree as a series. I can’t wait to read the last book in the series, Division.
Lost & Found Love A Mountain Meadow Homecomings novel by Laura Browning
I’ve read a lot of books and every once in a while you find one that really touches your soul. That’s what this book did to me. When I first picked up this book, I thought it’d be just a sweet love story but it’s more than that. It does have a couple of triggers. It deals with child abuse and prejudice, as well as some extreme emotional issues, but Laura Browing does it with a deft had. She is skilled at making the reader feel, pointing her finger at injustice without making it preachy, even though the male love interest is a preacher. Discovering the male protagonist was a preacher nearly turned me off. So many stories make the preacher the bad guy or so good your teeth hurt. This did neither. He was a good guy, but he was a real person complete with flaws and desires. Ms. Browning’s portrayal of Pastor Joe was so well done, I wanted him to be my pastor. He, in fact reminded me of my favorite minister who unashamedly loved his wife and let his love show in an honest and open fashion I’d never known with other ministers. The twists and turns in the relationship between Tabby and Joe is as complex as the mountain roads that inspired the setting. Add in family drama, church and community jealousy and gossip, and secrets from the past and you have a fantastic series ready to pull you in for another glimpse. I will definitely go back and read the books prior to Lost & Found Love and read any others in this series. Prepare to have your heart broken and put back together.
A short, sweet and steamy, Valentine romance. What do you do when you hate Valentine’s but your best friend needs you to capture her special day? Well, you pull up your cowgirl boots and head to Colorado to photograph the reenactment of their proposal. Instead of hiding out and ignoring Valentines as she’d planned, Ali stumbles across the Eros of her dreams and is swept up in a local and family (Max’s family) romantic comedy that has grandma conspiring with the local angel to get her favorite grandson a bride before the next Valentine’s Day.
Beauty and the Baller by Ilsa Madden-Mills
What do you do when your worst one-night stand turns out to be your new neighbor and the only job you can find makes him your boss. The good news is, he doesn’t remember you. Yay! This romantic comedy is packed with family drama, self-image, coming home, second chances, choices, football and romance. This is a fake it until you make it kind of romance. When the town of Blue Belle goes overboard trying to keep the new coach, former NFL star Ronan Smith happy by throwing all the pretty women his way. Ronan turns to Nova, his surly neighbor to act as his fake girlfriend, but is true rom-com style, this farce is sure to fail. The question is: who wins in the end. I loved this story and was surprised by how much. This is definitely one to read again. I will be looking for more books by this author.
You Only Die Twice by Brynn Kelly
This was a fun and fantastic romantic comedy with a little suspense thriller thrown in for good measure. What happens when the spy novel you co-wrote with a dying friend turns out to be true? What if your book boyfriend turns up at the school where you teach and sweeps you off your feet? Okay, that’s not exactly how it happened but whew, he’s definitely better than the book.
Sleep No More The Lost Night Files, Book 1 by Jayne Ann Krentz
The beginning of another great suspense series by JAK. Pallas and Ambrose seem to be suffering from a similar incident, an incident that changed their lives and made them feel they were going crazy. Lucky for Pallas, she was not alone when she experienced her lost night. Can she help Ambrose discover the truth before they become victims of the sleep institute.
JAK weaves our real fears with the possibilities and comes up with an edge of your seat suspense story, adds in a bit of romance, friendship and a few unique characters and I just can’t put the book down. Breathlessly waiting for the next in the series.
The Kidnapped Christmas Bride by Jane Porter
Jane Porter is a new author for me but I’m glad I’ve discovered her. This story wasn’t quiet what I expected but it definitely delivered all the feels. Trey Sheenan just wants a little time with his son after five years in prison but his fiancé McKenna Douglas is getting ready to marry another man. When TJ decides he’s going with his dad, McKenna can’t let him go without her. What happens next is a slow reveal of past hurts, unforgotten love, and the promise of a future together if Trey doesn’t end up back in prison for kidnapping a bride on her wedding day. This was a lovely story of discovery, love, family and the magic of Christmas.
The Upside Down Christmas by Kate Forster
Marlo’s life in Sydney is turned upside down when her part-time lover suddenly starts ghosting her and she finds out what her friends really thought about him. With Christmas looming, she is determined to avoid the holiday, but her flatmate Alex has other plans. His gentle coaxing and terrible Dad jokes, not to mention his washboard abs soon have Marlo thinking of Alex as more than a friend. Christmas doesn’t seem so bad when you have someone to share it with.
A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone
This steamy little rom-com was a lot of fun and definitely not your normal holiday story. What happens when you cast a plus-sized adult film star and a bad boy former boy band member in a family-friendly Christmas movie? What could possibly go wrong? This was a laugh out loud and sometimes cry out loud adventure in romance. Bee Hobbs and Nolan Shaw are each other’s biggest fans and can’t fight their attraction for each other, but they both have too much to lose to risk it all for a fling. But what if it’s not just a fling? This has all the feels wrapped up in leather and stays.
The Christmas Contest by Scarlet Wilson
Obsessed with all things Christmas, Ben and Lara are pushed into a radio station Christmas contest with a prize of $10,000. Both have great causes they want to win the money for but when the two of them fall in love, they could lose it all. This was a light-hearted holiday romance worth the read.
Along Came Holly by Codi Hall
A grumpy-sunshine holiday romance. Holly is all about Christmas but her neighbor, Declan is a true Grinch. When she hires him to set up her display for the festival of lights, they get to know each other and find they’re just right for each other. Family, small town and Christmas, what’s not to love.
The Plight Before Christmas by Kate Stewart
What happens when your brother brings your ex to your family’s big, holiday get together? There’s not enough alcohol to numb the feelings that surface when Whitney and Eli have to spend the week together, especially when he’s not as bad as she remembered. Can they learn to forgive the past or are they destined to repeat it? This was a fantastic romance filled with fun and family drama.
The Package by K. Bromberg
Everything goes wrong for Jules and then she finds herself stuck in an elevator with a handsome stranger. When their packages get switched, the mix up turns out to be the best part of her Christmas when the handsome stranger arranges for her to return the package and makes her Christmas wishes come true.
Christmas at Copper Mountain by Jane Porter
Taking a job at Christmas as a temporary housekeeper to keep from facing Christmas without her family, Harley is thrown into the middle of the Sheenan’s family drama. This story has all the feels. I sobbed, laughed and fell in love with these characters. You have to read this one with a box of tissues and a bag of chocolate.
A Very Merry Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams
Three dates before Christmas is all Gretchen has to survive and she’ll get what she wants, control of her wealthy family’s charity. She could do so much good with the Winthrop money. All that’s standing in her way is country music star Colton Wheeler. He’ll agree to be the face of their family’s whiskey brand but the price might be too high for both of them.
With the help of the Bromance Club these two won’t stand a chance against romance.
Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals by Joyce E. Salisbury Great Courses
An eclectic view of inspiring women from different parts of the world and different times in history. A great source for research.
Portrait of a Scotsman by Evie Dunmore
Manipulated into marriage by financier Lucian Blackstone, whose past and business practices strike fear into the hearts of Britain’s peerage, Hattie Greenfield, banking heiress is willing to go toe to toe with him to get her way.
A sudden trip to Scotland allows Hattie to see the real man she married. As her opinion of her husband softens, she knows she’s in danger of losing her heart.
Can this mismatched couple overcome their difference to find their happy ever after?
This was a rollercoaster ride of emotions. I loved it.
Book Reviewers Needed for The Americans are Coming
The Americans are Coming is the first in a new historical cozy mystery series I’m writing, An Applegate Mystery series. I’m having too much fun with my characters Winnie Applegate and her friends and family.
Winnie is seventeen and part of a traveling wild west show. She is half Lakota Indian. She is a healer and a performer. She keeps adding more tricks to her arsenal because the show is in trouble. A series of accidents has some of the other performers looking for work elsewhere.
With her brother, twelve-year-old Riley, an avid inventor, Winnie performs a knife throwing act. She also is a trick rider and an archer. Even her father has agreed to add another act to the show but when something goes wrong and Riley is blamed, Winnie takes it upon herself to investigate.
A series of sabotages and a mysterious benefactor’s invitation to England uncover family secrets that might explain why they are being targeted. Winnie teams up with the young man she believes she is destined to marry, and a lady Pinkerton agent to prove Riley’s innocence and stop a murderer.
If you like cozy mysteries with a like bit of history and a lot of action and adventure, you’ll enjoy The Americans are Coming.
A slow burn romance with Winnie and Harry, she is forbidden not just because of her age but because of society’s expectations.
An enemies-to-lovers romance when the lady Pinkerton and Dr. John fight their attraction and lose their hearts.
Secret heirs, family drama, a cast of interesting characters from Indians to sons of Dukes there is bound to be something you like.
I grew up watching westerns on television and when we moved to Texas, and New Mexico I really immersed myself into the western history and culture. Like Buffalo Bill Cody, Colonel Bill Dexter’s Wild West Extravaganza is a traveling show (much like a circus) that combines the history of the west with feats of daring and exploits of western talents from rope twirling to knife throwing to riding while shooting, the Extravaganza is a show to rival any other.
If you are interested in getting a free copy of The Americans are Coming in exchange for an honest review. The book will go live November 3rd and the book tour will happen November 3-5. Copies of the book are available though Bed and Books or you can contact me. We have eBook and auto narrated. If you wish to be a part of the Book Tour, Cover Reveal or Teaser Reveal, you can sign up with the form below. You don’t have to be a part of the tour to be a reviewer. All reviews and promos are appreciated.
October is associated with Halloween, a time of wearing masks and costumes. Most of us wear many costumes throughout our lives from uniforms to conforming to societies’ expectations of acceptable fashion. But for many of us Halloween is a time of unleashing our true selves, we can for one day be honest about who we hide from the world the rest of the 364 days of the year.
I spoke with a young woman this week about her poetry book, Speak. We talked about speaking our truth and unmasking ourselves. At twenty-four this lovely young woman knows who she is and has revealed her true self to her friends and family. I was in awe of her strength and courage as at fifty-eight I still feel as if I hide behind a mask of acceptability. Would people accept the real me, do I even know who that is. When I spoke with Lashanya ‘Shan’ Dudley and she shared her poetry, I saw the beauty in the raw, honesty of her words.
While I am not a poet myself, I am in awe of those who can touch your soul with their words. Shan has the talent to reach into the darkest depths and bring the truth into the light. She takes off the mask that has imprisoned her and reveals her true beauty. She gives voice to those who have been kept silent. Her words whisper a song and shout a charge to be heard over the din of peer pressure.
Good poetry should make you feel and make you think. Talking to Shan, she said “if you feel uncomfortable when you read my poetry, you should because I felt uncomfortable when I wrote it.” After she left, I couldn’t get her poems out of my mind. I did feel uncomfortable reading the poem, but I also felt sad and angry. As I ponder her words and how she put them together, I see there was also love and hope amid the anger and pain. This may have been Shan’s first collection of poetry, but I do not think it will be her last. She has a lot to say, and her words will touch you with their truth.
Speak is a collection of truth, raw, ugly, beautiful and soul-deep.
I found Google Play easy to set up and use. I still want to have the books professionally narrated by an actor but until I can afford that, this will suffice.
Joanna Penn of Creative Penn Podcast suggests having your books available in different markets and at different prices for our variety of readers. She has her books auto narrated through AI, she has also narrated her own books and hired a professional narrator.
While the artificial intelligence isn’t capable of doing the inflections and the dramatic changes in the story, neither are they monotone. Some of the narrator choices are very realistic. You can adjust their reading speed.
Being able to offer my stories to the sight-impaired was a big part of the reason I wanted to do this. A friend of mine used to record herself reading on cassette tape for her sister.
I tried something new. While listening to a Draft2Digital YouTube video with Google Play’s Ryan Dingler, I learned that Google Play offers to create free audiobooks for authors using AI (artificial intelligence). I have always wanted to get my books on audio but it is so expensive and I did not feel that my sales were to a place that I could leap out and pay a couple thousand dollars to have an audiobook made.
When I heard about Google Play’s offer, I uploaded my books to Google Play and began looking or rather, listening for the right voice. Now it doesn’t sound exactly natural but it’s not bad. I played with it, speeding up the reading until it felt comfortable to my ear. I’m giving away 1000 copies of Chrome Pink audiobook and hope to receive some feedback. Should I upload all my books to Google Play’s AI audio? Free code to try Chrome Pink Audio Q5B0LUDH80TD7 https://play.google.com/redeem?code=Q5B0LUDH80TD7
For anyone who is an indie author, whether you publish with Draft2Digital or not, I suggest you check out their blog and their YouTube videos. They are a great source of information. And if you’re not publishing with D2D, why not? They make life so much easier.
How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams Narrated by January LaVoy
By the title I expected “How to Fail at Flirting” to be a lovely rom-com, and while Ms. Williams entertained with a few palm-to-the-forehead moments, it soon became apparent that this was a serious story of one woman’s journey of trust. Dr. Naya Turner should have it all. She is a strong, beautiful professor of education, not only intelligent, she is also kind and funny, but she has a dark secret. Author Denise Williams shows readers how anyone can become a victim of relationship abuse. It doesn’t matter what race, economic status or education, our desire to be part of a couple, to please another person, can be used against us.
When Naya decides to take a chance and learn to live her life again, she meets Jake. He was supposed to be a one-night stand, but his kindness and goofy humor are addictive and soon they become entangled in a relationship that could set her back professionally. Even as Jake reveals his own weaknesses and fears, Naya cannot admit to her own until it’s too late.
I admire Ms. Williams for telling this story, for empowering women to take back control. Every woman has the right to be the heroine in her own story. It’s not easy to fight back whether it’s seeking legal advice, sharing our stories with a counselor or confronting our abuser, but with the help of those who love and care about us, we can find the strength and courage to end the cycle. While this was a difficult subject Ms. Williams told the story with the right blend of levity, grace and reality allowing the reader to see several insights into the effects of abusive relationships.
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