Review: Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber

When Annie moves to the Pacific Northwest, she’s just looking for a safe place to grieve, a comforting and uplifting place. What she finds is a cottage that needs some love, a garden that needs all that love and a bowl of cereal, and a couple people from her past who she can’t quite put her finger on.

Macomber does a great job tying together Annie’s new friendships with the experiences from their pasts. Though the characters don’t dwell on their youth, we see how it colored their behaviors as adults – and how grief and trauma in childhood or adolescence can be debilitating for the long-term.

I found compassion for Annie’s friend Mellie, who seemed so unstable and isolated until she was surrounded by love. I was in awe of Keaton, who shed no tears over how badly he was treated by family and community for decades, but came to the rescue in a heartbeat for those who needed his help or protection.

Macomber created a story of hope and belonging out of a medley of troubled folks. This book could have been depressing – but it wasn’t. It opened my eyes to the hurt people may be walking around with, and showed that people put their mark on the world in varied and unexpected ways.

-calliope

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Preview: Wedding from Hell part 3 by J.R.Ward


Here’s the final part of the FREE 3-part prequel to Consumed. It’s actually an excerpt from Consumed. I don’t know about you, but I’m even more excited to dive into it now that we got a glimpse into this world. As a firewife, I’m all about firefighter books, so I’m a very happy girl.

Here’s the synopsis:
About the Book:
From the creator of the #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series, get ready for a new band of brothers. And a firestorm.

Anne Ashburn is a woman consumed…

By her bitter family legacy, by her scorched career as a firefighter, by her obsession with department bad-boy Danny McGuire, and by a new case that pits her against a fiery killer.

Strong-willed Anne was fearless and loved the thrill of fighting fires, pushing herself to be the best. But when one risky decision at a warehouse blaze changes her life forever, Anne must reinvent not only her job, but her whole self.

Shattered and demoralized, Anne finds her new career as an arson investigator a pale substitute for the adrenaline-fueled life she left behind. She doesn’t believe she will ever feel that same all-consuming passion for her job again—until she encounters a string of suspicious fires setting her beloved city ablaze.

Danny McGuire is a premiere fireman, best in the commonwealth, but in the midst of a personal meltdown. Danny is taking risks like never before and seems to have a death wish until he teams up with Anne to find the fire starter. But Danny may be more than a distraction, and as Anne narrows in on her target, the arsonist begins to target her.

And here’s your final excerpt:
Excerpt:

Harbor Street and Eighteenth Avenue
Old Downtown, New Brunswick, Massachusetts

Box alarm. One-niner-four-seven. Two engines and a ladder from the 499, responding.

Or, put another way, Anne Ashburn’s Friday night date had showed up on time and was taking her to a show. Granted, “on time” was the precise moment she had sat down for a meal at the stationhouse with her crew, and the “show” was a warehouse fire they were going to have to chorus-line for. But if you judged the health of a relationship on its constancy and whether it brought purpose and meaning to your life?

Then this firefighting gig was the best damn partner a woman could ask for.

As Engine Co. 17 turned the corner onto Harbor with siren and lights going, Anne glanced around the shallow seating area of the apparatus. There were four jump seats behind the cab, two forward- facing, two rear-, the pairs separated by an aisle of gear. Emilio “Amy” Chavez and Patrick “Duff” Duffy were on one side. She and Daniel “Dannyboy” Maguire were on the other. Up in front, Deshaun “Doc” Lewis, the engineer, was behind the wheel, and Captain Christopher “Chip” Baker, the incident commander, was shotgun.

Her nickname was “Sister.” Which was what happened when you were the sibling of the great Fire Chief Thomas Ashburn Jr., and the daughter of the revered—falsely as it turned out— Thomas Ashburn, Sr.

Not everybody called her that, though.

She focused on Danny. He was staring out the open window, the cold November wind blowing his black hair back, his exhausted blue eyes focused on nothing. In their bulky turnouts, their knees brushed every time the engine bumped over sewer access panels, potholes, manholes, intersections.

Okay, okay, she wanted to say to fate. I know he’s there. You don’t have to keep reminding me.

The hardheaded bastard was a lot of things, most of which carried terms you couldn’t use around your grandmother, but he knew she hated the “Sister” thing, so to him, she was Ashburn.

He’d also called her Anne—once. Late at night about three weeks ago.

Yes, they had been naked at the time. Oh, God . . . had they finally done that?

“I’m gonna beat you at pong,” he said without looking at her. “Soon as we get back.”

“No chance.” She hated that he knew she’d been staring at him. “All talk, Dannyboy.”

“Fine.” He turned to face her. “I’ll let you win, how about that?”

His smile was slow, knowing, evil. And her temper answered the phone on the first ring.

“The hell you will.” Anne leaned forward. “I won’t play with you if you cheat.”

“Even if it benefits you?”

“That’s not winning.”

“Huh. Well, you’ll have to explain to me the ins and outs of it when we’re back at the house. While I’m beating you.”

Anne shook her head and glared out the open window.

The first tap on her leg she ascribed to a bump in the road. The second, third, and fourth were obviously—

She looked back at Danny. “Stop it.”

“What?”

“Are you twelve?” As he started to smile, she knew exactly where his mind had gone. “Not inches. Age.”

“I’m pretty sure I peak more like at sixteen.” He lowered his voice. “What do you think?”

Between the sirens and the open windows, no one else could hear them—and Danny never pulled the double entendre if there was a risk of that. But yes, Anne now knew intimately all of his heavily muscled and tattooed anatomy. Granted, it had been only that once.

Then again, unforgettable only had to happen one time.

“I think you’re out of your mind,” she muttered.

And then they were at the scene. The old 1900s-era warehouse was a shell of its former useful self, sixty-five thousand square feet of broken glass panes, rotting beams, and blown-off roof panels. The outer walls were brick, but based on the age, the floors and any room dividers inside were going to be wood. The blaze was in the northeast corner on the second floor, billowing smoke wafting up into the forty-degree night air before being carried away by a southerly wind.

As Anne’s boots hit the ground, she pulled the top half of her turnouts closed. Her ponytail was up high on the back of her head, and she stripped out the band, reorganized the shoulder length, and cranked things tight at her nape. The brown was still streaked with blond from the summer, but she needed to get it trimmed—so all that lightness was on the chopping block.

Of course, if she were a woman “who took care of herself,” she’d get it highlighted through the winter months. Or so her mother liked to tell her. But who the hell had time for that?

“Sister, you sweep the place with Amy for addicts,” Captain Baker commanded. “Stay away from that corner. Danny and Duff, run those lines!”

As Captain Baker continued to bark orders out, she turned away. She had her assignment. Until she completed it, or there was an insurmountable obstacle or change of order, she was required to execute that directive and no other.

“Be safe in there, Ashburn.”

The words were soft and low, meant for her ears alone. And as she glanced over her shoulder, Danny’s Irish eyes were not smiling.

A ripple of premonition made her rub the back of her neck. “Yeah, you, too, Maguire.”

“Piece’a cake. We’ll be back at pong before ten.” They walked away from each other at the same time, Danny going around to the stacks of hoses in the back, her linking up with Chavez…

Be sure and grab this final part before you dive into Consumed.
Wedding from Hell
Part 1 https://amzn.to/2BDpL58
Part 2 https://amzn.to/2LeCF9t
Part 3 https://amzn.to/2PoZ3A6

Preorder Consumed so you can have it ready to read on release day, Oct 2
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Review: Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

If the title doesn’t get you, that cover surely will.

When Ellis Reed captures a moment on film, he has no idea what that split second decision will lead to. “2 Children for Sale”, reads the sign. And yes, the children are right there to prove it. What would drive a family to sell their own flesh and blood? Ellis has an inkling as does everyone else in the country dealing with such devastating hard times. Because, you see, he himself is soon led do something questionable. And this moment results in a domino effect of tragic proportions. The question is, will he be able to make things right before it’s too late?

This book is everything I love most in a story. It’s historical and reads like an epic tale. The characters are raw and gritty and read true to life. With so much truth woven into the story elements, you feel like you’re reading a real life account of events. Definitely a keeper!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Sold on a Monday

Review: The Late Bloomers’ Club by Louise Miller

Small town story lovers, meet Nora, of the Miss Guthrie Diner. Don’t mess with her customers or her sister. And when the cake lady dies, please don’t try to buy the land to turn it into a big box store. And if you do try such a thing, make sure you’re a good looking guy with a heart of gold and your eyes on a certain diner owner. But don’t be disappointed if she pays no mind… she has a sister to help, a dog to find, cake recipes to learn, and a town to support. And if her diner gets in trouble, well, be one of those people who saves the day. Nora would do it for you.

And definitely, definitely, read the book. There’s nowhere else you’ll get the sister’s boyfriend up to his eyebrows in maple icing, your precious home filled with your sister’s filmmaking equipment, addictive Girl Scout popcorn at the town meetings, and a zoning vote that threatens to divide the town (but come on, nothing can divide this small town). I loved every page.

-calliope

Buy THE LATE BLOOMERS’ CLUB

Review: When We Found Home by Susan Mallery

Three lovely people grow up -separately- without loving parents, and though they don’t share the same mothers, they do share the same paternal grandfather. This guy might be in the background of the story character-development-wise, but he’s the hub that brings his three grandchildren together. Well, with a little help from a friend.

Susan Mallery wrote a terrific story about a non-traditional family. Malcolm was raised from boyhood by his grandfather. Keira was brought into the family home much later – and at the transitional age of 12 has a hard time feeling like she belongs. Delaney, a woman who works in the same building as Malcolm, helps bridge the brother-sister gap. Meanwhile, a third sibling is found and brought “home.” Callie isn’t sure this new world is for her, but feels a sense of responsibility for Keira.

I’ve read a lot of half-siblings-brought-together stories, but none quite like this. Mallery wrote fresh characters with realistic flaws and shortcomings, characters you can be annoyed with and cry with and laugh with… and sympathize with. And Mallery keeps up the realism all the way to the end, when everyone really has found home, even if it’s not what you’d expect. Terrific story about family, loyalty, and love.

-calliope

Buy WHEN WE FOUND HOME

Review: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne

Swoon worthy and romantic with a dash of emotion and excitement!

I went in not knowing what this book was about. It was a Kerrigan Byrne story and that’s all that mattered to me. But as soon as I finished the prologue I had a feeling that this was going to suck me in. And by the end of chapter one, I knew I was right.

I love the secret that is the Rook. And the epicness of a 20 year longing has my heart all squishy. My gosh! I can’t even imagine how that felt! Theirs was a romance that was meant to be. Lorelei has suffered for so long and I was so happy to see that she finally found someone to really care for her and keep her safe.

She was his prayer in the night. His song in the dark. His past and present. His future.

This series is one of my favorites and seeing a few past characters makes this book even more amazing. This series has a way of turning even the most notorious villains into heroes. Who would’ve thought I’d fall in love with so many of them. I won’t say anymore except that if you’re looking for a series that brings out all the feels and makes you appreciate the anti-hero, then this is the series for you.

Now I wanna reread them all.

~Melpomene
Preorder The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo(Releases Aug 28) https://amzn.to/2wjZX8i

Start from the beginning
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The Hunter https://amzn.to/2woCJyb
The Highlander https://amzn.to/2wfpJdX
The Duke https://amzn.to/2PrFLu8
The Scot Beds his Wife https://amzn.to/2wjrHtX

Review: Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar

Just when I think I’ve read all of the best historical fiction novels, a new one comes along.

In this case it’s the story of Helene, a young mother who finds the horrors of war at her doorstep when she and her family are thrown into a concentration camp. Separated from her husband, she focuses on keeping her children safe. As a nurse she earns herself a bit of an advantage and is able to secure work along with a few extra, although slight, privileges. The doctor she’s enlisted to work for, however, is none other than Josef Mengele. Even as she struggles to help those around her, she still must bear witness to his evilness at work.

This is a heartbreaking story, as are all tales about this time in history. This one is even more so as it’s based on a true story. Helene was a real person, and how she chose to live her life even in the face of the greatest hardships imaginable will inspire you while making you weep at the same time.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Auschwitz Lullaby