Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Blog Tour: The Knight’s Runaway Maiden by Nicole Locke (with giveaway!)


She hates all Warstones.

Can this one win her love?

Balthus of Warstone secretly loved Séverine, even though she was unhappily married to his brute of a brother, then she fled six years ago. Now her husband is dead, Balthus must find Séverine and reclaim her sons as his father’s heirs. Balthus’ desire is to claim her too, and despite his battle-maimed arm and her distrust of his family, he’ll prove he’s a suitor worthy of such a courageous woman

Purchase Links
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Knights-Runaway-Maiden-Historical-Legends-ebook/dp/B08KSMK9R2  
US – https://www.amazon.com/Knights-Runaway-Maiden-Historical-Legends-ebook/dp/B08KSMK9R2

Review

Séverine was torn from her dreams of joining an abbey when Ian of Warstone selected her as his bride. Six years ago she took their sons and fled him and his cruel family. Balthus fell in love with Séverine the first time he saw her and he has now tracked her down. He's not her husband and she hates his family, but he must convince her to see beyond their pasts to find a future.

Eleventh in its series, there are moments where I feel the weight of the backstory as it becomes apparent that Balthus's quest to find Séverine is more than a simple family retrieval. His brother Reynold is the hero of book eight and there is frequent reference to the events of book ten. As such, I feel like I started this book at a bit of a disadvantage.

Having said that, the story stands quite well on its own, once you understand that you won't understand everything. Balthus and Séverine have both suffered at the hands of the Warstone family in different ways. Balthus in particular has been steeped in a toxic masculinity and has a strong degree of self-hatred due to the recent amputation of his left hand. I loved that we got a real sense of Séverine - a woman who longs for peace but is driven by fear. She has done her best for her sons but constantly worries if she has done the right thing by forcing them into a years-long 'game' of hide-and-seek. Both shy away from their mutual attraction for different reasons and it takes quite a while for them to really talk to each other due to years of mistrust.

While definitely on the darker side of things, I found this a compelling and well-written romance as two scarred souls learn to open up again. I do wish there was a bit more closure with regards to the overall storyline but the romance was solid and well-resolved. There was a bit of head-hopping and a few editing errors, hopefully those are fixed in the final version.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Rachel's Random Reviews; all opinions are my own.

Author Bio

Nicole is the author of Harlequin/Mills and Boon Lovers and Legends Historical series. If she isn't working on the next book, she can be reached at NicoleLocke.com, Facebook, and Twitter!

Social Media Links
https://www.nicolelocke.com/
https://www.instagram.com/nicolelockeauthor/
https://www.facebook.com/NicoleLockeAuthor/
https://twitter.com/NicoleLockeNews

Giveaway to Win 5 x Paperback copies of The Knight’s Runaway Maiden (Open to US and Canada Only)
*Terms and Conditions –US and Canada entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Blog Tour: After the Storm by Isabelle Muir


When a violent storm blasts England’s south coast, it’s up to retired Italian detective Giuseppe Bianchi to sift through the devastation and piece together the tragic events left behind in the storm’s wake.

Giuseppe Bianchi’s brief visit to Bexhill-on-Sea has become an extended stay. He is loath to return to his home in Rome because of the haunting images that made him leave in the first place. 

During his morning walks along the seafront with Beagle, Max, he meets Edward Swain, who becomes Giuseppe's walking companion. They form a friendship of sorts and find they have a similar outlook on life.

But the devastating events of a single night lead Giuseppe to question the truth about Edward Swain. Teaming up with young journalist, Christina Rossi - his cousin's daughter - Giuseppe learns about the brutal reality lurking behind the day-to-day life of families in the local community. And as the story unravels Giuseppe is reminded how anger and revenge can lead to the most dreadful of crimes.

After the Storm is the second novel in the Giuseppe Bianchi mystery series – the much awaited sequel to Crossing the Line.

Grab your copy today and enjoy the intrigue of traditional English mystery, cleverly combined with a continental twist.

Purchase Links
UK –  https://www.amazon.co.uk/After-Storm-Giuseppe-Bianchi-mystery-ebook/dp/B08P534Y2K  
US – https://www.amazon.com/After-Storm-Giuseppe-Bianchi-mystery-ebook/dp/B08P534Y2K 

Review

As 1954 draws to a close, a devastating storm blows into the seaside town of Bexhall-on-Sea leaving tragedy in its wake. Retired Italian detective Giuseppe Bianchi is convinced there is more to the death of his friend than a fallen tree but fears he is chasing at shadows.

There's something very British about this mystery. In some ways, it was very refreshing to read something so... normal. There's no shocking plot twists or clever gimmicks, merely an ongoing investigation that unfolds to reveal the full story. In some ways, the mystery serves as a railroad to carry the intertwining themes of family and unresolved pasts.

Despite being the second in the series (Giuseppe encountered tragedy immediately after arriving in England a few months prior), I didn't find it difficult to understand family dynamics and enough of the past was explained that I wasn't left hanging. It's all very tangled, but the ending hints at hopes of reconciliation.

I found this a very comfortable read, a quietly enjoyable period piece with fish-out-of-water elements. The solution was logical, if rather sad, and Giuseppe's unofficial status means that justice is not certain. Overall, a good option for when I'm in the mood for a mystery.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Rachel's Random Resources; all opinions are my own.

Author Bio
Isabella is never happier than when she is immersing herself in the sights, sounds and experiences of the 1960s. Researching all aspects of family life back then formed the perfect launch pad for her works of fiction. Isabella rediscovered her love of writing fiction during two happy years working on and completing her MA in Professional Writing and since then she has gone on to publish six novels, three novellas and two short story collections.

Her latest novel, After the Storm, is the second novel in a new series of Sussex Crimes, featuring retired Italian detective, Giuseppe Bianchi who is escaping from tragedy in Rome, only to arrive in the quiet seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, to come face-to-face with it once more.

Her first Sussex Crime Mystery series features young librarian and amateur sleuth, Janie Juke. Set in the late 1960s, in the fictional seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, we meet Janie, who looks after the mobile library. She is an avid lover of Agatha Christie stories – in particular Hercule Poirot. Janie uses all she has learned from the Queen of Crime to help solve crimes and mysteries. As well as three novels, there are three novellas in the series, which explore some of the back story to the Tamarisk Bay characters.

Isabella’s standalone novel, The Forgotten Children, deals with the emotive subject of the child migrants who were sent to Australia – again focusing on family life in the 1960s, when the child migrant policy was still in force.

Social Media Links
https://isabellamuir.com
https://twitter.com/SussexMysteries
https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMuirAuthor

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Blog Tour: Duchess if You Dare by Anabelle Bryant


From the glittering ballrooms of the ton to the city's grittiest corners, London has no shortage of wrongs in need of righting--and the Maidens of Mayhem are prepared for the challenge. United by secrecy and sisterhood, these daring women from all walks of life aim to fight injustice wherever it takes them--even into the arms of unexpected love. This feminist take on Regency-era Robin Hoods from USA Today bestselling author Anabelle Bryant is destined to storm readers' hearts!

Scarlett Wynn's tragic childhood taught her that life can be cruel to women with little power. So when a local seamstress disappears, Scarlett vows to find out why. Armed with a weapon and her courage, Scarlett scours London for clues--and crosses the unlikely path of Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, at an unlikely place: an upscale brothel. The Duke is trying to solve a mystery of his own, and Scarlett is sure they can help each other--if she can resist the attraction that draws them together...

As Duke of Aylesford, Ambrose is duty-bound to protect his family name from scandal no matter the cost. But Scarlett's fearless spirit forces him to look beyond his world of privilege. Scarlett is as intoxicating as she is dangerous, igniting a fire in him like no other. When the pair learn both mysteries they're trying to solve are tied to a string of missing women, the tangled scheme they uncover may put their lives, and their growing love, in mortal danger--and lead them to search their hearts like never before...

"A delightful historical romance with a liberal dash of adventure, plenty of sizzling heat, and a heart of pure gold. A superb start to Bryant's new Maidens of Mayhem series"
--Lenora Bell, USA Today bestselling author

"Duchess if You Dare is a fantastic read that kept me up late and has me anxiously awaiting the next book in the series."
--USA Today Bestselling Author Renee Ann Miller

Purchase Links
UK Amazon Link: https://rb.gy/emdsdw
US Links
Amazon: https://rb.gy/ytoy31
Barnes & Noble : https://rb.gy/ebpuvi
Kobo: https://rb.gy/mpgh91

Review

First in a new series, Duchess if You Dare introduces us to the Maidens of Mayhem, four women who have taken it upon themselves to right the wrongs of Regency London by straying outside of society's rules. While two of them do not get a lot of page time and Julia is a strong supporting character, the Maiden in focus is Scarlett, a clever, competent, and fiercely independent woman with a fondness for roaming London in breeches.

When Scarlett's seamstress Linie disappears, she learns of a series of missing girls. It's pretty dark subject matter, but while investigating a brothel, she crosses paths with the handsome Duke of Aylesford. Ambrose is trying to track down his brother's favourite whore, but Scarlett's mysterious allure threatens to derail his search and upend his world. Dangerous situations lead to heightened tension until there's no way this won't lead to love.

While I loved Scarlett - I'm a sucker for competence and her actions flowed so naturally from her rough backstory - Ambrose has the more complex character arc. As a duke, he's powerful and privileged but constrained by responsibility and expectations. He takes a long time to realise how much his birth has benefited him and even longer to leverage it into any sort of action. His protective instinct wants to wrap Scarlett up in cotton wool, and while it comes from a place of emotion (and later love), he seems to completely ignore how well she can handle herself and her own self-determination, which I did find frustrating.

I definitely would've liked to see more of the Maidens, as Scarlett's friendship with Julia is a good emotional foil to the romance but Phoebe and Diana felt more incidental. A throwaway line makes me wonder if there's another story running concurrent with this one, perhaps the subject of a sequel. Ambrose's brother also seems ripe for his own story, given his the curtailing of his wayward tendencies.

After deceit, danger, and a smattering of abduction, the mystery wraps up quickly and Scarlett and Ambrose decide that love conquers all, including their hesitations and the huge gap in their social status. It felt a little handwavey but I'm willing to overlook it for the sake of a happy ending.

Overall, this is a solid romance for those who want a bit more grit with their Regency (but don't worry, there's still a ball!)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Rachel's Random Resources, all opinions are my own.

Author Bio

USA Today Bestselling author Anabelle Bryant began reading at age three and never stopped. Her passion for reading soon turned into a passion for writing and an author was born. Happy to grab her suitcase if it ensures a new adventure, Anabelle finds endless inspiration in travel; especially imaginary jaunts into romantic Regency England, a far cry from her home in New Jersey. Instead, her clever characters live out her daydreams because really, who wouldn't want to dance with a handsome duke or kiss a wicked earl?
Anabelle's books have been translated into several languages including Japanese and Russian, but writing isn't all that keeps her busy. Building miniatures, baking and photography are other favorite pastimes. Often found with her nose in a book, Anabelle is just as happy in a room full of people. She enjoys meeting readers, attending conferences and book signings. She has earned her Master's Degree and is ABD for her Doctorate Degree in education.
A firm believer in romance, Anabelle knows sometimes life doesn't provide a happily ever after, but her novels always do. Visit her website at AnabelleBryant.com

Social Media Links
Website: http://www.anabellebryant.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AnabelleBryantAuthor  
Newsletter: http://www.anabellebryant.com/contact-anabelle-1.html
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnabelleBryant
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/anabelle-bryant
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/26491397-anabelle-bryant
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/anabellebryant/

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Blog Tour: Hollywood Hero by Madelle Morgan (with giveaway!)


Unrequited love is hell on earth
Personal assistant Wendy Davila is in love with her boss, Halden Armstrong, megastar of the Apollo superhero film franchise. But she can’t compete with the succession of stick-thin blond beauties he’s caught and released. Or can she? When Halden asks Wendy to accompany him on a fishing trip to Muskoka, it’s her chance to remake her dark-haired, curvy Latina self into his ideal woman and cast her hook for Halden.

Can he trust her?
Halden has been burned by love. The last thing he wants is a woman like his ex who faked it until she landed him. Wendy is special, and the private trip is an opportunity to explore his feelings for her. However, the Greek god has an Achilles’ heel. Can he trust Wendy with a secret that could ruin his career? And will she still care for him when she learns the truth?

When Apollo falls off his pedestal, Wendy must decide if the man she adores is a keeper.

Purchase Links
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08X3QWD3B
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08X3QWD3B
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08X3QWD3B
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/hollywood-hero-1
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/hollywood-hero/id1556258012?ls=1 

Review

Muskoka seems to be the place to be to fall in love - or to give in to it!

Hyper-efficient personal assistant Wendy hopes that two weeks with her boss will let their professional relationship blossom into a more personal one. Hilariously, she completely misreads the situation! Not with respect to her boss, because he's totally into her, but the lodge is less 'five-star resort' and more 'rundown rural fishing lodge'. I loved the juxtaposition between Wendy's competence in her professional career and her obliviousness in her personal life (though surely such a devoted PA would know when a relationship is purely for the publicity, right?).

For his part, Halden wants to make a move on Wendy but professionalism and the ongoing fallout from a poor past relationship decision gives him pause. I enjoyed his narration and fully understood where he was coming from most of the time, though I felt he was rather too judgey of his brother's ex, Tiffany.

I liked that the change of scene gave Wendy and Halden a chance to get to know each other on another level, even before their relationship levelled up. It is clear Wendy's encouragement is what pushes Halden to be a better person, and her experience among the Hollywood elite teaches her to be proud of who she is and where she comes from. I think I would've loved to meet some of the family she talks about as they seem like an awesome bunch.

When Halden makes a terrible decision and tumbles off his pedestal, Wendy must decide whether to forgive and accept him as a work in progress. For a workplace-to-lovers celebrity romance with a few more mosquito bites than usual and an emotional punch, pick up Hollywood Hero.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Rachel's Random Resources; all opinions are my own

Author Bio:

Growing up, Madelle enjoyed nineteen summers at her grandparents’ cottage on Georgian Bay in the beautiful District of Muskoka, Ontario, Canada, named by National Geographic Traveler magazine as one of their top 20 Best of the World Must-see Places.

Muskoka is Canada’s summer playground for many wealthy families and Hollywood celebrities. The Hollywood in Muskoka series updates the upstairs/downstairs trope: successful people in the film industry on vacation fall for service providers.

Madelle lives in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, with her husband and their labradoodle Raven. She dreams of owning a waterfront cottage. Or at least a pool.

Social Media Links 

Amazon.com
Goodreads.com
MadelleMorgan.com
Pinterest.com/madellem
Twitter.com/madellemorgan
Facebook.com/MadelleMorganAuthor

Giveaway to Win an eBook boxset of Hollywood in Musoka Books 1-3 (Open INT)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Gudetama: Mindfulness for the Lazy by Wook-Jin Clark

Gudetama, the adorably lazy egg, gives readers a visual crash course on mindfulness, encouraged by his far more energetic friend Nisetama.

This is a cute introduction to the very basics of mindfulness in a very easy to read format as Nisatama accompanies Gudetama around town. Information is presented in bite-sizes interactions with people around town. Sometimes the lessons stick, and some do not, but the conclusions are easy enough to draw. 

The vignettes do feel a little disjointed due to their short nature. If you are looking for a comprehensive guide to mindfulness, this is not for you - but if you want an easy to read look at the basics, this is an entertaining option.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley; all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Blog Tour: Uncork My Love by Rich Amooi (with giveaway!)

A sweet romantic comedy set in beautiful Napa Valley!

Ivy needs a miracle and a drink—not necessarily in that order. With a struggling winery, the only hope of keeping her dream alive is snagging a gold medal at the annual wine competition. She’s determined to win, but she can do it without the help of Ted Jacobs, aka Mr. Know-it-All.

Ted wants to catch lightning in a bottle and create the world’s greatest wine, but he’s smart enough to know he can’t do it alone. When he heads to Napa to keep his grandma from ending up in jail (don’t ask), he meets Ivy. She’s as complex and intoxicating as his award-winning cabernet, but as stubborn as the mule next door when she stomps on his offer to collaborate.

Ted knows it’s risky to mix business with pleasure, but if Ivy would only listen, they might just be the toast of the town.

Purchase Links
UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Uncork-My-Love-Rich-Amooi-ebook/dp/B08WRGDY48
US  - https://www.amazon.com/Uncork-My-Love-Rich-Amooi-ebook/dp/B08WRGDY48

Review

I gotta say, after reading this book I want a glass of wine, and I'm not even a big wine drinker! Wine-making is described in such lush detail, the budding romance almost sneaks up on you.

Ted and Ivy are rival winemakers, forced into proximity by meddling grandmothers and united in their desire to make the perfect wine. Ivy's betrayal at the hands of her ex has closed her heart to all newcomers but Ted manages to wrangle his way in there, almost against his will. For his part, Ted just wants to buy a vine and go home, until his growing awareness of Ivy reminds him there is more to life than wine (if only barely).

Their terrible first impressions are hilarious, as is Ted's inability to keep his shirt clean. It was a joy to watch their interactions grow from acrimonious to accepting to affectionate. I must say that Ted frustrated me, especially at first, with his arrogance and insistence on giving advice. He definitely learns better (for which I'm very grateful), but I'm still not sure how much of it sticks and I'm sure it will be a work in progress for him to learn when his opinion isn't wanted or needed. Ivy also had her moments of frustration, but they felt a lot more understandable and I loved her character arc throughout the book.

However the stars of the show must surely be their grandmothers. Loretta and Sherry clearly love their respective grandchildren but have way too much fun making trouble. Loretta in particular steals every scene she's in.

For an enjoyable romp through Napa Valley, grab a glass of wine and this book!

Disclaimer: I receiver a copy of this book from the publisher via Rachel's Random Resources; all opinions are my own

Author Bio

Rich Amooi is a Taleflick Discovery Winner, Readers' Favorite Gold Medal Recipient, Holt Medallion Finalist, and the Amazon Bestselling author of 16 romantic comedies, including It's Not PMS, It's You, Dying to Meet You, There's Something About a Cowboy, and Madam Love, Actually

A former radio personality and wedding DJ, Rich now writes romantic comedies full-time in San Diego, California, and is happily married to a kiss monster imported from Spain. Rich believes in public displays of affection, silliness, infinite possibilities, donuts, gratitude, laughter, and happily ever after.

Social Media Links
Author website: www.richamooi.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.richamooi
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/richamooi.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RichAmooi
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/richamooi

Giveaway to Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card (Open INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Monday, 5 April 2021

Magnetic Medic by Alexa Padgett

Aidy Wright never expected to move back home pregnant and alone, but she's slowly finding her feet. Now working at the family architecture firm, she's finishing her masters thesis and just bought her own place. On move-in day, she discovers her neighbour across the hall is Ryder Mackay, an old friend of her brother. He's handsome, kind, and a paediatrician to boot. In short, he's the perfect guy, but it's the very worst time. Or is it?

This is a solidly entertaining romance with a lot to like! Firstly, Ryder is incredible. His external perfection is tempered by a painful past and refined by his own character arc, sparked but not dependent on Aidy. I really appreciated that he's only half-white and while racism isn't a factor, it's not completely glossed over either. Him and Aidy have sparks from the beginning but don't act on them for a while. When things got rough, it happened in a believable if frustrating way, and their communication problems stem directly from their well-documented issues.

Aidy is also awesome, with her determination and drive despite a rocky adolescence. I also loved that Aidy had supportive friends and am sure one of them is going to feature in a future book *waggles eyebrows*. I did feel they sort of dipped out of frame as the book went on however. Finally, I adored Rosie, because who doesn't love a puppy with such a huge personality?

I didn't realise until putting this review together that this is part of the Cocky Hero Club wider universe with many contributing authors, which certainly explains why some characters seem more like returning characters from their own book. There's over a hundred books and I'm not sure how they all link together, but if they're all as good as this one, I'm keen to read more!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley; all opinions are my own