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"Christmas in Destiny" Excerpt

 To celebrate the release day for "Christmas in Destiny" by Toni Blake, I have an excerpt from the book, courtesy of the publisher! Enjoy! And keep your eyes peeled for my review coming soon!

"Christmas in Destiny"

By Toni Blake
Publisher: Avon Books
Oct 25, 2016
Source: Sent by publisher


Summary: (from Goodreads)

“Go to Destiny. There’s something waiting there for you.”

Shane Dalton’s new life is waiting in Miami, complete with fast cars and faster women. But first, he’s heeding his father’s dying words and stopping off in Destiny, Ohio. The detour wasn’t supposed to include a busted pickup and a blizzard. But Candice Sheridan, the cute redhead who reluctantly offers shelter, could prove a pleasant diversion. Trouble is, she thinks Shane’s bad news. And he’s pretty sure she’s right . . .

Candice had her trust broken once before. Yet something about Shane won’t let her stay away. By Christmas, he’ll be gone. Until then, she’s itching to stop playing nice and safe . . . and try being a little naughty for once.

As their holiday romance heats up, Shane uncovers a shattering secret and Candice is preparing to face heartache once again. But there’s no better place than Destiny—especially at Christmastime—for two lost souls to find the gift of sweet, surprising love . . .

EXCERPT:

From CHRISTMAS IN DESTINY by Toni Blake. Copyright © 2016 by Toni Blake. Reprinted by permission of Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Bang. Bang. Bang.
Candice’s eyes sprang open as the jarring noise jolted her awake.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
What on earth? She briskly sat up, trying to get her bearings in the dark.
The sound came again. Louder this time. And as she sat there in bed, the room lit only by the deluge of white outside, she realized someone was beating on her door in the middle of the night. Which seemed almost impossible given that the weather outside was more than a little frightful.
Her heart beat rapidly as the relentless banging continued. Even while she dragged herself out of bed and headed toward the stairs, her sleep-addled brain whirled. As a woman who lived alone in an isolated area, she didn’t particularly want to answer. But what if it was Jenny or Mick—what if something was wrong with their little boy?
Flipping on the dim porch light, she made out a shadowy male figure and concluded it was Mick.  The fact that he was out in this weather, at this hour, filled her with worry.  So she flung open the door.
Then gasped.  It wasn’t Mick. 
It wasn’t Mick at all. 
She didn’t know who this was – but he looked horribly out of place, and a little bit scary.  “Wh-wh- …” Words failed her in her fright.
The tall, dark stranger regarded her through piercing blue eyes.  “Look, I know it’s late, but my pickup spun out and I hit a snow bank around that last bend.”  His voice was deep and his tone unapologetic as he pointed over his shoulder in the general direction of the road.  “Can’t get a signal on my cell, so need to use your phone.”
Strangers didn’t just show up on porches in the middle of the night in Destiny, and she simply stared at him as if he were a ghost standing at her door in the blowing snow.  The scary kind, with a lock of dark hair dipping over his forehead, a thick shadowy stubble on his chin, and even a little scar near his right eye.  Though she wasn’t sure if ghosts bothered to knock.
“Who are you going to call?” she managed to ask.  Then blinked repeatedly.  It was an unfortunate habit of hers – blinking when she was nervous.
He arched a critical brow as a cold wind blew around them, his expression implying that maybe he thought she was still half-asleep.  “A tow truck,” he said, enunciating, as if the answer was obvious.
But he was clearly uninformed about something she thought obvious.  “Have you seen the roads?  A tow truck won’t come out here when it’s like this.  I don’t know how you got any truck out here tonight.  And we don’t have a tow truck in Destiny anyway.”
His eyebrows both shot up then, though his voice came out sounding almost matter-of-fact as he said, “Tell me you’re kidding.”
“I can’t.”
A heavy sigh left him as he muttered, “Jesus Christ.”
Since she was pretty sure he wasn’t making a Christmas reference, she ignored that and went on.  “Someone will have to come from Crestview,” she explained.  Then blinked and added, “But I’ll try to call anyway.  Just in case.  Wait here.”
After which she shut the door on him.  And locked it.  In a near blizzard.  Which didn’t exactly feel kind or charitable, but a woman had to protect herself.  And as for calling – despite what she’d told him, she’d decided it was worth making sure, worth a try, to get the scary stranger off her porch as efficiently as possible.
She rushed to the phone and dialed briskly.  And promptly heard a recording on the other end, saying what she already knew:  Meffler’s Towing was closed due to inclement weather and anyone in need of a tow should call back after the storm.  And they were sorry for the inconvenience.  “Me too,” she whispered to no one, hanging up.
Then she steeled herself and walked back to the front door.  Unfortunately, when she opened it, he was still standing there.  Looking cold and a little snow-covered since the snow now even blew up under the roof that covered her porch.
She just shook her head.  “They’re not answering their phones until the snow stops.”  Only then it occurred to her to ask, “What on earth are you doing out here in a blizzard anyway?”
“Got lost,” he said. 
And as he shifted his weight from one snow-covered work boot to the other, she noticed for the first time that his coat was too thin for the weather, and she thought of him trudging from around the bend in a foot of wet snow and for some crazy reason wondered if his feet had stayed dry.  She also wondered what kind of person was out in the country this late at night in this kind of weather.  Escaped convicts and serial killers came to mind. 
“Made a wrong turn looking to find a room for the night,” he said, “but I’m guessing a motel’s gonna be pretty hard to come by here, too.”
She nodded, sorry for both of them to have to deliver the bad news.  “The Half Moon Inn is miles away.”
As another heavy sigh left him, she began to realize – almost against her will – that underneath all the scary, that he was also maybe … kind of hot.  His voice was deep and a little raspy, and the thin coat he wore didn’t hide broad shoulders.  There was something visceral about him – she could somehow feel his very maleness.  And that was when he narrowed his blue gaze on her and said, “Looks like you’re stuck with me then.”

Purchase Here:

CHRISTMAS IN DESTINY – https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062392602/christmas-in-destiny#




Connect with Toni Blake:

Website -http://www.toniblake.com/

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"Just Fine with Caroline" Review

"Just Fine with Caroline"
by Annie England Noblin
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: Oct 11, 2016

Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:

From the author of Sit! Stay! Speak! comes a tender, terrific novel complete with long-buried secrets, a three-legged pot belly pig, and an irresistible dog—an unforgettable story about love, friendship, and community. Perfect for fans of Mary Kay Andrews and Mary Alice Monroe.

Caroline O’Connor never dreamed she’d be back home in Cold River, Missouri, the Ozark Mountain town where everyone is ‘up your business.’…they mean well as they drive you crazy. She thought she’d left town for good, but now she’s back, helping to care for her New York born mother—struck with Alzheimer’s, and prone to saying and doing anything—and her father, the beloved local doctor frustrated he can’t cure his own wife.

As for Caroline, she’s doing ‘just fine’ coping with her parents, her brazen cousin Ava Dawn’s marital disasters, her mostly-deaf dog…and with Noah Cranwell, far-flung relative of a local family mostly infamous for running moonshine, an ex-veteran who’s come to Cold River with troubles of his own.

Caroline believes she knows everything about Cold River and the people who live in its hills and hollers … but sometimes life’s greatest surprises happen closest to home.
My Review:

"Just Fine with Caroline" is the first book in the author's new Cold River series, set in a small town in the Ozarks. The small town setting and quirky characters are the main attraction in this story. The romance is there, but it's really all about those characters, relationships, and interactions that you can really only find in a small town.

I think a lot of people can identify with Caroline. She's a very likable character, and she really always tries to do the right thing for everyone she cares about. This includes her mother, who has Alzheimer's, her doctor father, her trouble-finding cousin, Ava Dawn, her childhood friend, Court, and her fur friend, Yara. Then comes Noah, the long lost grandson of one of the town's most notorious and mysterious citizens. Family secrets are unravelled as new relationships grow.

I loved the town and characters, but sometimes the story meandered off track a bit. I perfer a tighter story, but that's a matter of personal preference. The family mystery was a bit predictable from the start, it wasn't a shocking revelation at the end. There was an interesting sub-story about Caroline's fascination with prohibition era, I would have loved for that to have been developed even more to mirror the current story.

The author has an authentic small town, Southern voice, which I appreciate. Sometimes this type of voice can come off forced and fake, but Noblin's characters come across so natural. This made the story believable and highly readable at the same time.
 
Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5
Setting: 5/5

Romance: 3.5/5

Uniqueness: 3/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 5/5


Bottom Line:Overall, this is a nice read for fans of small town fiction. The story could have been fleshed out a bit more, but fans of quirky characteres and small town comraderie will not be disappointed.

disclosure: I received an E-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review


Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"The Perks of Loving a Scoundrel" Excerpt

 As part of the blog tour for "The Perks of Loving a Scoundrel" by Jennifer McQuiston, I have an excerpt from the first chapter of the book!

THE PERKS OF LOVING A SCOUNDREL

By Jennifer McQuiston

Avon Books

September 27, 2016

ISBN: 9780062335142; $$7.99

E-ISBN 9780062335159; $5.99



About the Book


New York Times bestselling author Jennifer McQuiston continues her enchanting Seduction Diaries series as a bookish spinster and an unrepentant rogue unite to unmask a traitor.


Every girl dreams of a hero….

No one loves books more than Miss Mary Channing. Perhaps that’s why she’s reached the ripe old age of six-and-twenty without ever being kissed. Her future may be as bland as milk toast, but Mary is content to simply dream about the heroes and adventures she reads about in her books. That way she won’t end up with a villain instead.

But sometimes only a scoundrel will do.

When she unexpectedly finds herself in the arms of Geoffrey Westmore, London’s most notorious scoundrel, it feels a bit like a plot from one of her favorite novels. Suddenly, Mary understands why even the smartest heroines can fall prey to a handsome face. And Westmore’s is more handsome than most. But far worse than the damage to her reputation, the moment’s indiscretion uncovers an assassination plot that reaches to the highest levels of society and threatens the course of the entire country.

When a tight-laced miss and a scoundrel of epic proportions put their minds together, nothing can stand in their way. But unless they put their hearts together as well, a happy ending is anything but assured.

Excerpt from THE PERKS OF LOVING A SCOUNDREL:



From the Diary of Miss Mary Channing

May 24, 1858



Eleanor wrote today. I should have been glad to hear from her, given that she is my twin sister and I love her dearly, but it would be untruthful to say the contents of her letter pleased me. Her new husband, Lord Ashington, has been called away on business and she’s asked me to come to London to keep her company during the last two months of her confinement.

Can you imagine? Me, in London?

My family says I must get my nose out of my books and begin to live in the world around me. It is true I’ve never been further afield than a day trip from home, and that I have never slept a night outside my own bed. But why would I ever want to leave, when I have my books to keep me company? And a trip to London is not without its perils. I could very well end up like one of the characters in my beloved stories, snubbed by the popular crowd. Whispered about behind lace fans. Or worse . . . led astray by a handsome villain and then abandoned to my fate.

Yet, how could I not go? Eleanor is my sister, and she needs me. So I shall put on a brave face. Pack a trunk. Smile, if I must. But I can’t help but wonder . . . which worries me more?

The many things that could happen in London?

Or the thought of seeing Eleanor, with her handsome new husband, and her shining, lovely life, and everything I am afraid of wanting?


EXCERPT:
Chapter 1



London, May 29, 1858



The smell should have been worse.

She’d expected something foul, air made surly by the summer heat. Just last week she’d read about the Thames, that great, roiling river that carried with it the filth of the entire city and choked its inhabitants to tears. Her rampant imagination, spurred on by countless books and newspaper articles, had conjured a city of fetid smells, each more terrible than the last. But as Miss Mary Channing opened her bedroom window and breathed in her first London morning, her nose filled with nothing more offensive than the fragrance of . . .

Flowers.

Disconcerted, she peeked out over the sill. Dawn was just breaking over the back of Grosvenor Square. The gaslights were still burning and the windows of the other houses were dark. By eight o’clock, she imagined industrious housemaids would be down on their knees, whiting their masters’ stoops. The central garden would fill with nurses and their charges, heading west toward Hyde Park.

But for now the city—and its smells—belonged solely to her.

She breathed in again. Was she dreaming? Imagining things, as she was often wont to do? She was well over two hundred miles from home, but it smelled very much like her family’s ornamental garden in Yorkshire. She didn’t remember seeing a garden last night, but then, she had arrived quite late, the gaslight shadows obscuring all but the front steps. She’d been too weary to think, so sickened by the ceaseless motion of the train that she’d not even been able to read a book, much less ponder the underpinnings of the air she breathed.

She supposed she might have missed a garden. Good heavens, she probably would have missed a funeral parade, complete with an eight-horse coach and a brass band.

After the long, tiresome journey, she’d only wanted to find a bed.

And yet now . . . at five o’clock in the morning . . . she couldn’t sleep.

Not on a mattress that felt so strange, and not in a bedroom that wasn’t her own.

Pulling her head back inside, she eyed the four-poster bed, with its rumpled covers and profusion of pretty pillows. It was a perfectly nice bed. Her sister, Eleanor, had clearly put some thought into the choice of fabrics and furniture. Most women would love such a room. And most women would love such an opportunity—two whole months in London, with shops and shows and distractions of every flavor at their fingertips.

But Mary wasn’t most women. She preferred her distractions in the form of a good book, not shopping on Regent Street. And these two looming months felt like prison, not paradise.

The scent of roses lingered in the air, and as she breathed in, her mind settled on a new hope. If there was a flower garden she might escape to—a place where she might read her books and write in her journal—perhaps it would not be so terrible?

Picking up the novel she had not been able to read on the train, Mary slipped out of the strange bedroom, her bare feet silent on the stairs. She had always been an early riser, waking before even the most industrious servants back home in Yorkshire. At home, the cook knew to leave her out a bit of breakfast—bread and cheese wrapped in a napkin—but no one here would know to do that for her yet.

Ever since she’d been a young girl, morning had been her own time, quiet hours spent curled up on a garden bench with a book in her lap, nibbling on her pocket repast, the day lightening around her. The notion that she might still keep to such a routine in a place like London gave her hope for the coming two months.

She drifted down the hallway until she found a doorway that looked promising, solid oak, with a key still in the lock. With a deep breath, she turned the key and pulled it open. She braced herself for knife-wielding brigands. Herds of ragged street urchins, hands rifling through her pockets. The sort of London dangers she’d always read about.

Instead, the scent of flowers washed over her like a lovely, welcome tide.

Oh, thank goodness.

She hadn’t been imagining things after all.

Something hopeful nudged her over the threshold of the door, then bade her to take one step, then another. In the thin light of dawn, she saw flowers in every color and fashion: bloodred rose blooms, a cascade of yellow flowers dripping down the wrought iron fence. Her fingers loosened over the cover of her book. Oh, but it would be lovely to read here. She could even hear the light patter of a fountain, beckoning her deeper.

But then she heard something else above those pleasant, tinkling notes.

An almost inhuman groan of pleasure.

With a startled gasp, she spun around. Her eyes swam through the early morning light to settle on a gentleman on the street, some ten feet or so away on the other side of the wrought iron fence. But the fact of their separation did little to relieve her anxiety, because the street light illuminated him in unfortunate, horrific clarity.

He was urinating.

Through the fence.

Onto one of her sister’s rosebushes.

The book fell from Mary’s hand. In all her imaginings of what dreadful things she might encounter on the streets of London, she’d never envisioned anything like this. She ought to bolt. She ought to scream. She ought to . . . well . . . she ought to at least look away.

But as if he was made of words on a page, her eyes insisted on staying for a proper read. His eyes were closed, his mouth open in a grimace of relief. Objectively, he was a handsome mess, lean and long-limbed, a shock of disheveled blond hair peeking out from his top hat. But handsome was always matter of opinion, and this one had “villain” stamped on his skin.

As if he could hear her flailing thoughts, one eye cracked open, then the other. “Oh, ho, would you look at that, Grant? I’ve an audience, it seems.”

Somewhere down the street, another voice rang out. “Piss off!” A snigger followed. “Oh, wait, you already are.”

“Cork it, you sodding fool!” the blond villain shouted back. “Can’t you see we’re in the presence of a lady?” He grinned. “Apologies for such language, luv. Though . . . given the way you are staring, perhaps you don’t mind?” He rocked back on his heels, striking a jaunty pose even as the urine rained down. “If you come a little closer, I’d be happy to give you a better peek.”

Mary’s heart scrambled against her ribs. She might be a naive thing, fresh from the country, and she might now be regretting her presumption that it was permissible to read a book in a London garden in her bare feet, but she wasn’t so unworldly that she didn’t know this one pertinent fact: she was not—under any circumstances—coming a little closer.

Or getting a better peek.

Mortified, she wrapped her arms about her middle. “I . . .that is . . . couldn’t you manage to hold it?” she somehow choked out. There. She’d managed a phrase, and it was a properly scathing one, too. As good as any of her books’ heroines might have done.

A grin spread across his face. Much like the puddle at the base of the rosebush. “Well, luv, the thing is, I’m thinking I’d rather let you hold it.” The stream trickled to a stop, though he added a few more drips for good measure. He shook himself off and began to button his trousers. “But alas, it seems you’ve waited too long for the pleasure.” He tipped a finger to the brim of his top hat in a sort of salute. “My friend awaits. Perhaps another time?”

Mary gasped. Or rather, she squeaked.

She could manage little else.

He chuckled. “It seems I’ve got a shy little mouse on my hands. Well, squeak squeak, run along then.” He set off down the street, swaying a bit. “But I’ll leave you with a word of advice, Miss Mouse,” he tossed back over one shoulder. “You’re a right tempting sight, standing there in your unutterables. But you might want to wear shoes the next time you ogle a gentleman’s prick. Never know when you’ll need to run.”


Purchase Here:

THE PERKS OF LOVING A SCOUNDREL – https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062335142/the-perks-of-loving-a-scoundrel



About the Author

A veterinarian and infectious disease researcher by training, Jennifer McQuiston has always preferred reading romance to scientific textbooks. She resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, their two girls, and an odd assortment of pets, including the pony she promised her children if mommy ever got a book deal.



Connect with Jennifer McQuiston:

Website - http://www.jenmcquiston.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/jenmcqwrites

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/jennifermcquistonauthor

Song Playlist for "Her Halloween Treat"

Her Halloween Treat
By Tiffany Reisz
Harlequin
Sept. 20, 2016
Source: received E-copy from publisher


Summary from Goodreads:

Trick…or wicked treat!

It was a devastating dirty trick—Joey Silvia just found out her boyfriend of two years is married. What. A. Dick. Joey knows her best chance to get over one guy is to get under another. Of course, heading home to her family's remote cabin in Oregon poses some challenges in the "available men" department…until she discovers this cabin comes with its own hot handyman!

Holy crap, Chris Steffensen. When did her brother's best friend turn into a hard-bodied pile of blond-bearded hotness? He's the perfect Halloween treat—and a surprisingly dirty rebound guy. For a couple of weeks, anyway. Except that Chris has other ideas…like proving to Joey that this blast from the past is a whole lot more than a naughty Halloween hookup.

Song Playlist: 

For the Halloween Treat blog tour, Tiffany Reisz has put together a playlist inspired by the characters in the book! Enjoy!
In HER HALLOWEEN TREAT, Joey and Chris talk a lot about music especially after Joey sees that Chris has carved the face of Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder into his Halloween pumpkin on her porch. While in high school Chris was obsessed with grunge music and even now listens to it all the time. But they also attend Joey’s brother’s 80’s-themed wedding with all the greatest 80s pop music playing at the reception. For a HER HALLOWEEN TREAT playlist, you’ll need a good mix of 80s dance songs and 90s alternative plus one very important song from the 70s.
Song 1 – Jolene by Dolly Parton – Joey’s real name is Jolene and she’s feeling the irony of it when she learns her boyfriend of two years has been secretly married the entire time
Song 2 – Yellow Ledbetter by Pearl Jam – Joey sees an Eddie Vedder pumpkin on the porch and although I have no idea what Yellow Ledbetter means, it’s one of my favorite Pearl Jam jams.
Song 3 – All Apologies by Nirvana – Chris tends to hum or sing Nirvana while he’s doing his handyman work. Joey teases him about this habit while they’re painting a bedroom in Joey’s Oregon cabin.
Song 4 – True by Spandau Ballet – Joey and Chris have to pick 80s costumes to wear to her brother’s costume wedding taking place on Halloween and they choose to dress like characters from a classic John Hughes film and this song is on the soundtrack.
Song 5 – Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters – Chris is a big Dave Grohl fan and Joey works for an airline. This one’s a no-brainer.
Song 6 – Hello by Lionel Richie because why not? It’s a fabulous song and someone dresses like Richie at the 80s costume wedding. Plus I’m sure Joey sings along to it at the top of her lungs when it’s on the radio. Who doesn’t?
Song 7 – The Safety Dance by Men Without Hats – This song comes on at the wedding reception and it inspires Chris to say one of my favorite lines in the book. I won’t tell you what that line is but it includes the word “boner.”
Song 8 – Interstate Love Song by Stone Temple Pilots – At the end of this book, this is the song playing in the background when Joey and Chris end up making a very important decision together.




disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for a blog post.
爵士娱乐华人