Saturday, January 27, 2018

Book Review: Keep Her Safe, by K.A. Tucker

Prologue
Corporal Jackie Marshall
June 1997

"Hey ..." Abe lowers his voice to a whisper. "I wonder, how honest do you think these narc guys are?"

"Honest enough. Why?"

"His chocolate-brown eyes roll over the bundles of cash. "Wouldn't it be easy for one of those to go missing?"

It's a question you don't pose, especially not while you're in uniform and standing in front of a pile of drugs. "Pretty dang easy, I'll bet."

I am a big fan of K.A. Tucker's books, so when the opportunity came to join the book tour for this one, I was excited to join it in exchange for an e-copy of the novel. The novel clocks in at 448 pages, so it did take me a bit to finish it, but overall, it's a good read.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: Keep Her Safe, by K.A. Tucker
Making a Murderer meets Scandal in this story of police corruption, family secrets, and illicit affairs from bestselling author K.A. Tucker, celebrated for her “propulsive plot twists and searing seduction” (USA TODAY).

Noah Marshall has known a privileged and comfortable life thanks to his mother, the highly decorated chief of the Austin Police Department. But all that changes the night she reveals a skeleton that's been rattling in her closet for years, and succumbs to the guilt of destroying an innocent family's life. Reeling with grief, Noah is forced to carry the burden of this shocking secret.

Gracie Richards wasn't born in a trailer park, but after fourteen years of learning how to survive in The Hollow, it's all she knows anymore. At least here people don't care that her dad was a corrupt Austin cop, murdered in a drug deal gone wrong. Here, she and her mother are just another family struggling to survive...until a man who clearly doesn't belong shows up on her doorstep.

Despite their differences, Noah and Gracie are searching for answers to the same questions, and together, they set out to uncover the truth about the Austin Police Department's dark and messy past. But the scandal that emerges is bigger than they bargained for, and goes far higher up than they ever imagined.

Complex, gritty, sexy, and thrilling,
Keep Her Safe solidifies K.A. Tucker's reputation as one of today's most talented new voices in romantic suspense.

This novel has a few twists, some of which I foresaw and some of which I did not. I really liked that included a few different POVs—we hear from Gracie and also from Noah, and the novel also goes from past to present, so we hear from Abraham (Gracie's dad, who died under suspicious circumstances) and Jackie, Noah's mom. The novel also spans two states: it starts off in Austin, Texas, and later, a grown-up Noah drives to Arizona to go find Gracie and give her something important.

I was definitely invested in the characters in this book—the author does a great job at fleshing each of them out. The book starts with a rather surprising event, and then leaves it up to Noah and Gracie to figure out exactly what happened, both with the event and with the events that transpired in 2003, when Gracie's dad died during a drug bust.

I'd recommend this book for anyone that likes mystery or suspense novels, or anyone who is a fan of K.A. Tucker's previous work.

4 stars out of 5.
{click here to purchase}

*Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book as part of its promotional book tour. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Ready for Wild, by Liora Blake {ends 2/1}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

She’s not here for a nature walk? She expects me to show her what she needs to see? And she’s implying that I might not be up to the task? Try again, Amber. This is my unit, and I’ve spent more time here than she’s spent getting her hair done. I grind my jaw together, using the time to temper my words.

“Good. I’m only here because I drew the short straw.”

Her lips twist into a smug sneer. “Sounds like you have shit for luck, then, Braden Montgomery.”

“Luck is for suckers,” I volley back. “Hard work gets you what you want, even when bad odds get in the way. You just have to work for it.”


This is the third novel in the Grand Valley Novel series by Liora Blake, so I was looking forward to seeing what happened to a couple characters I’d met just briefly when reading the second book. One of the great strengths of the series is that the individual books are not dependent on each other, but just occur in the same community.

Official synopsis:
Featuring Liora Blake’s signature “funny, endearing, and more than a little hot” (Library Journal) style, the third novel in the Grand Valley series features a rough-talking game warden going toe-to-toe with a TV star who unexpectedly turns his life upside down.

Braden Montgomery is certain about three things: one, luck is for suckers; two, time spent outdoors is what keeps him sane; and, three, when it comes to sharing his bed, there’s only one female he’s willing to put up with—his Chesapeake Bay retriever, Charley. Braden’s constructed his life on these beliefs, and he’s quite content with the status quo.

But when a moment of bad luck lands Braden toe-to-toe with a blonde bombshell with her own television show, his stubbornly structured reality begins to unravel.

As for Amber Regan, her brand has been built on camo, cut-offs, and cleavage. With her own hunting show on the foremost sports channel and enough social media followers to garner her plenty of endorsement deals, Amber’s come a long way from the tomboy in a small Texas town she once was. Unfortunately, ratings are down and her contract for next season is in limbo, so she’s in desperate need of a reboot to save her show—and filming a rough and tough archery elk hunt in Colorado might be the way to do just that. Too bad the local game warden grunts more than he speaks, seems determined to despise her—and makes her heart race in all the most inconvenient ways.


Before actually meeting her, Amber Regan is easily exactly the kind of person Braden Montgomery hates. She’s got a tv show about hunting – so it must be all staged shots, pink camo, sexy poses and high heels. Ugh. But once they meet, he finds out that appearances can be very deceiving.

Amber, Braden, and their friends were fun characters, and great to "hang out" with while reading their story. While the end was pretty predictable, it wasn’t all just happy with everything going their way. I liked reading them having a bit of conflict before their inevitable joy.

Overall, this was an entertaining read and would be a great vacation or beach read. I’ve give it 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend the two other books in the series too if you want to really feel cozy with their Hotchkiss, CO community.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley likes feeding her birds and fish, watching green(ish) grass peek through the snow, and staying cozy under an afghan from her mom while reading a good book. She’s been blogging around SE Michigan at SweetlyBSquared.com since March 2002.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Ready for Wild!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Thursday, February 1st, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified via email the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Paperback copy of Ready for Wild

Monday, January 22, 2018

Book Review: Match Made in Manhattan, by Amanda Stauffer

So now, in the last third of my twenties—most people's dating prime—I've had two three-plus-year relationships, two or three mini-relationships, and not one blind date, setup, or genuine first date. And I haven't the foggiest clue as to what a typical date looks like. But of paramount importance, it's high time I figure out how to find people to date—assuming I want to branch out beyond the alumni population of my college. The world is big and I am small. Where do I begin?

This book sounded interesting when I received an email about it—from the author herself, actuallybecause I am very familiar with online dating. I met my boyfriend on Tinder, and in the past I have used a good portion of the dating apps available. It was definitely a fun read because it's so relatable.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: Match Made in Manhattan, by Amanda Stauffer
After two intense, dead-end relationships, serial monogamist Alison finds herself confused, lonely, and drastically out of touch with the world of modern dating. Refusing to wallow, she signs up for a popular dating app and resolves to remain open-minded and optimistic as she explores the New York City singles' scene. With the click of a button, her adventures begin: On one date, she's dumped before the first kiss; on another, she dons full HAZMAT gear; she meets a tattooed folk singer turned investment banker, an undercover agent who tracks illegal exotic animals, and dozens of other colorful, captivating personalities.

Giving them each her signature "pants speech"—her pants aren't coming off unless she has a real connection with someone—she desperately wants to push past the awkward small-talk phase to find true love, but finding "the one" is starting to feel impossible. That is, until she meets Luke, who is sophisticated, funny, and not to mention, hot. Alison finds herself falling for Luke harder than any guy she's dated and finally letting her walls down, but will he stick around or move on to his next match?

Match Made in Manhattan is a fast-paced, contemporary story about the struggles of dating in the digital age. Replete with online profiles, witty dialogue, and a super-supportive group of female friends, this all-too-real and relatable debut novel will have readers laughing, crying, and rooting for Alison all the way to the end.

Alison is kind of different than others her age—this is her first time trying online dating, and she's had a few 3+ year relationships in the past. Once one of those relationships ends, she hops on the online dating bandwagon, and her adventures in dating are fun to read about.

I was told that this book was actually first shopped as a memoir, and then details were changed and it was rebranded as fiction. I loved that the author separated each online date by chapters and also included the messages between Alison and her suitors—books that have emails or texts in them are always interesting.

I will say I wanted more of a "HEA" (Happily Ever After) ending, but the one that the author chose is probably more realistic. Overall, though, I enjoyed this book, and anyone that's ever done online dating will most likely enjoy it as well.

3.5 stars out of 5.
{click here to purchase}

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for reviewing purposes. However, the opinions expressed here are my own.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Quick Pick book review: Surprise Me, by Sophie Kinsella

  • Opening lines: I have this secret little vocabulary for my husband. Words I've invented, just to describe him. I've never even told him about them: They just pop into my head now and then.
  • Reason I picked up the book: I'm a huge Sophie Kinsella fan (especially the Shopaholic series) and her books are usually witty and funny.
  • And what's this book about?
  • After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other's sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected "until death do us part" to mean seven decades.

    In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes "chick lit" or a fun read. 
  • Favorite paragraph: There he is in the mirror. My handsome, youthful husband. But what's he going to look like in sixty-eight years' time? I have a sudden dismaying image of Dan all elderly and wizened, batting at me with a stick and yelling, "Humbug, woman, humbug!" 

    Which is ridiculous. He'll be old. Not Ebenezer Scrooge. 
  • Something to know: Kinsella writes other books (standalone ones, like this one) besides the Shopaholic series - I reviewed My Not So Perfect Life recently, too.
  • What I would have changed: It's a little strange how Sylvie calls her father "Daddy" (more of what a little girl would do), since she's a grown woman. Otherwise, wouldn't have changed anything.
  • Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to order on Amazon - it will be online and in stores on February 13, 2018.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

GIVEAWAY: Match Made in Manhattan, by Amanda Stauffer {ends 1/9}

Match Made in Manhattan will be in stores and online on January 25th, but one of my lucky readers can win a signed copy this week.

Official synopsis:
GIVEAWAY: Match Made in Manhattan, by Amanda Stauffer
After two intense, dead-end relationships, serial monogamist Alison finds herself confused, lonely, and drastically out of touch with the world of modern dating. Refusing to wallow, she signs up for a popular dating app and resolves to remain open-minded and optimistic as she explores the New York City singles' scene. With the click of a button, her adventures begin: On one date, she's dumped before the first kiss; on another, she dons full HAZMAT gear; she meets a tattooed folk singer turned investment banker, an undercover agent who tracks illegal exotic animals, and dozens of other colorful, captivating personalities.

Giving them each her signature "pants speech"—her pants aren't coming off unless she has a real connection with someone—she desperately wants to push past the awkward small-talk phase to find true love, but finding "the one" is starting to feel impossible. That is, until she meets Luke, who is sophisticated, funny, and not to mention, hot. Alison finds herself falling for Luke harder than any guy she's dated and finally letting her walls down, but will he stick around or move on to his next match?

Match Made in Manhattan is a fast-paced, contemporary story about the struggles of dating in the digital age. Replete with online profiles, witty dialogue, and a super-supportive group of female friends, this all-too-real and relatable debut novel will have readers laughing, crying, and rooting for Alison all the way to the end.

GIVEAWAY:

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Tuesday, January 9th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be emailed the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or another winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Signed copy of Match Made in Manhattan

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